Amoeblog

Privilege

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2008 11:06pm | Post a Comment


I’ve often said coincidence does not exist, but I'll save that diatribe for another time. However, a couple of days ago, and for the first time, not one but two Paul Jones 45’s -- he’s the former lead singer for the 1960’s British invasion band Manfred Mann -- wandered into Amoeba from separate collections. Both of these singles are from the same soundtrack, Privilege, a film released in 1967 starring Paul Jones, who was making his big screen acting debut. Now, two days later, I find out that for the first time ever, Privilege will be released on DVD today. Coincidence or plot? I just don't know. Well, anyway...

The film was directed by Peter Watkins, whose highly controversial anti-nuclear drama The War Game won the 1966 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (and was soon to be banned in Great Britain). Watkins once again doesn’t stray far from controversy in Privilege. Taking place in a totalitarian English State of the near future, specifically 1970, the dark comic vision of Privilege criticizes the media and its media manipulation, corporate culture and its corporate manipulation. It portrays a time where most everything seems to bounce off the absurd and neurotic teen pop-dom dominating the age and the happily tranquilized population is content with fluffy distractions. The main character, Steven Shorter, played by Paul Jones, is a rock god. His popularity and career have been meticulously engineered by a vast music corporation, reaching dizzying Beatlesque heights. But all this begins to crack when an artist, played by the original supermodel Jean Shrimpton, is hired to paint Steven Shorter’s portrait, and finds an unstable, empty shell of a man, lost in a lonely world, a puppet trapped by the demands of a music business out of control, and a simple singer victimized by all the excess, process, and success. Of course, the artist tries to rescue and prop up Steven Shorter before he becomes yet another statistic in the eternally doomed scenario of recyclable pop stars. But as can only happen in real life and/or rock melodramas, fortunes take a Machiavellian twist when rebellion is only a pop song away. Now that’s entertainment!

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Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's, #5

Posted by Whitmore, March 5, 2008 08:35am | Post a Comment

I am as derelict as any opium reveler’s after-dream and in this wizened condition I’m aware of only the shrill din of an entire city cracking. Maybe I sit too close to the sheer brink of ruin, and lunacy, and guzzling a couple of dozen shots of espresso - this morning’s tomfoolery- only raises the bedlam quotient. Nonetheless, early this afternoon I found my way to Amoeba, where now I’m standing, mostly decaffeinated, on my desk, peering out of my office window into the anxious mirrored eyes of the CNN building across the way, looming bluntly above the squat Hollywood landscape. Below me, a rush of emergency vehicles flies down Cahuenga, and through the Sunset Blvd intersection.

Something is going on
somewhere, and probably something big, but do I really need to know? During this whole dull, dark, and luckless day, when clouds hung oppressively low outside, they hung even lower in here. Working alone, pricing yet another dreary stretch of 1980’s 45’s, I found myself longing for something more; more grand, more scintillating, more psychedelic, funky or even French! Maybe Australian! Maybe tomorrow … I now know what it was, what first caught my eye and what originally troubled me about CNN’s massive edifice; a sense of insufferable gloom pervades its spirit, like Poe’s House of Usher, grappling with its own shadows and history and treacheries. And as I scan its glass façade, I see just a bit of me waving back in the reflection: is there more here, more than the eye can see? If questioning brings knowledge, and knowledge brings dread, what’s next?

And that’s why I thought you might like to see all these record company 45 sleeves from around the globe. And now, maybe, its time to return to the real world,  and hold off on that brutal splendor blather for a while... then again, I just started reading the Cask of Amontillado by Poe, " ... thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge ..."

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Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's, #4

Posted by Whitmore, February 29, 2008 11:20am | Post a Comment
Maybe it’s the spring thaw, and not self-doubt. This muddle I seem to be writing about is in reality a torrent of mud and ice pushing me down hill. Why? Because it’s almost March, Easter is around the corner, (at least I hope so … I gave up television for Lent!). If winter is done, spring must be near. Perhaps, there isn't a fiasco-muddle-shamble going on here after all. Nor is there a voice telling me I’m in the middle of a crisis of faith. (Then again, there may be a voice telling me I’m not experiencing a crisis of faith). Alas! Maybe I should just put away the Edgar Allan Poe collection; his gloomy narcotic influence has been forcibly illustrated here repeatedly and is perhaps detrimental to your entertainment, dear reader. What am I suppose to do? Just write a straight forward description / history about the ephemeral nature of 45 sleeves! It might be said of this blog, blather written in babble -"blab la bla blab la bla"- It does not permit itself to be read! And why not? There are ideas which do not permit themselves to be thought out. Ideas die often in their infancy: wringing their sweaty little hands, furrowing their soft miniature brows, pushing away ghostly acknowledgments as quickly as possible, otherwise something bad might reveal itself, and then the idea ... expires. Now and then, the conscience of an idea takes up a burden so immense that it can only be thrown into some late night rant. And thus the essence of this blog is divulged. There you have it, thank you Mr. Poe!

Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's, #3

Posted by Whitmore, February 24, 2008 06:42pm | Post a Comment
The truth - it’s my raw nerves - very, very caffeinated raw nerves eating away at the lining of my stomach. Goddamn! I’ve been, still am, crawling up walls and across ceilings. A few triple espressos and shazzam! I am the Fly! Caffeine has ripped a hole through my brain, certainly through my gut and, holy java juice batman, my sharpened senses wield machetes; heightened Terror Alert Level – “blood dripping magenta!” CRACK! Jesus H, what is that noise! My tinnitus is screaming like hordes of car alarms pinging in a Brentwood parking lot after an earthquake. I can hear all things in heaven and on earth and in hell, simultaneously. For Christ’s sake, I think my neighbor is playing a Ricky Martin CD! Whatever fell upon me has made my blood run thin. How, then, am I not expected to go mad? I have made up my mind to rifle through the recycling bin for that buried bottle of codeine-fortified cough syrup -- hideously expired or not … something, anything. The telltale pot of coffee brews stronger and stronger! And I can’t resist pouring another cup!
Anyway, for the time being, just relax at your desk with your own Cup o’Joe and take a look at some more 45 company sleeves from around the world.

Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's

Posted by Whitmore, February 22, 2008 08:28am | Post a Comment
Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. But … a lone voice hesitated, yawned and, resonating a bit like Johnny Cash’s sonorous tone, drew closer to my ear. It geared down again to yet a lower, darker pitch, whispering something vague and unclear, a perfect combination of ambiguity and prophecy. The words eased the whiskey, my drunkenness. Entranced, my brain re-gathered just enough focus. Then, like a balmy zephyr blowing from a high desert squall, the voice crawled across my face, into my ear, into my head, breathing heat and sighing, little by little reminding me of the brutal splendor there is in … 7 inch 45’s. “You listen to a record for just a couple of minutes” the voice murmured, “and then you have to get back up, flip the son of a bitch over. Two and a half, three minutes vanish so quickly these days … It’s just wicked and brutal, don’t you think, don’t you know?” And then the voice added, wistfully, one more thing, almost as an afterthought, “Nevermore.”
That’s all. The voice also said something about pandemics, government corruption and fear, but I pretty much ignored the serious stuff. Since it’s been a while, I think it’s time to write about the little record with the big hole! So let’s start with some record company sleeves from around the world.



































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