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Picasso’s Toy Guitar

Posted by Whitmore, January 2, 2010 04:56pm | Post a Comment
Picasso's Toy Guitar

Carabinieri
police in Rome have tracked down the world’s most priceless toy guitar. The sculpture created by Pablo Picasso for his daughter Paloma has been missing the last couple of years. Picasso, several decades back, had given the piece to the Italian artist Giuseppe Vittorio Parisi, but two years ago Parisi lent it to a businessman, who convinced Parisi he could make a glass showcase for it. Then Parisi died last January 2009 at the age of 92. The priceless piece was to go on display at the civic museum in Maccagno, a small town on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy where Parisi was born. Nothing ever came of it. Police say the businessman never returned the work; instead he kept it hidden away in a shoe box in his apartment in Pomezia, a town just south of Rome. The Little Guitar was tracked down with aid from Parisi’s widow, who told police that the piece was most likely still in the hands of the businessman. The unnamed businessman was charged with fraud and is now out on bail. An expert has authenticated the work, which bears the inscription “Paloma.” The Little Guitar will now, as once planned, go on display at the museum in Maccagno.

Vietnamese New Wave - Part II

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 8, 2009 02:01pm | Post a Comment
Due to popular response, here's a follow-up to my initial blog on Vietnamese New Wave. For those of you who may not have read it, Vietnamese New Wave (less often called Asian New Wave) is not Vietnamese music. Think Northern Soul, a British genre of music that didn't come from British artists, but were beloved by 70s speed freaks for their common sound. At least, they didn't make it, but they took it, played it at dances, made bootleg mixes of it on tape and CD. The songs in the genre share easy-to-dance-to/syncopation-avoiding beats (setting it apart from Freestyle), easy-to-learn and obviously ESL lyrics, and are completely devoid of pretense or irony. My love and exposure to this amazing music is owed entirely to an amazing person, the flawless tastemaker, Ngoc Nguyen.


Vietnamese New Wave artists come from a variety of scenes including Italo-Disco, (English, French and Swedish) Synthpop and (German and Spanish) and Eurodisco. Beginning in the some time around the mid-to-late '80s, these bubbly, infectious tunes found an unexpected audience in the Vietnamese diaspora who disseminated these gems through the aforementioned mixtapes, parties and bootleg mix CDs which you can still find in Little Saigons around the globe.

We carry many of these artists at Amoeba. Most are found in the Freestyle section. However, a lot are found in, erm... Rock. So ask at info if you can't find something.

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a year in music

Posted by Whitmore, January 16, 2009 04:59pm | Post a Comment
Since the first of the New Year I’ve been trying to decide on what music releases might have been my favorites of 2008. But as I rifled through my addled opinions, I suddenly realized I was shockingly unaware of anything going on in music in ‘08. This goes to show you how much attention I pay to the goings on around me at Amoeba. I think I need to get out of the used 45 room a bit more, though it’s hard to do … it’s like a record geek Shangri-la in there!
 
Between my obsession with the Presidential election, the Dodgers pennant hopes, a Top Chef / Project Runway fixation, and just being wrapped up in my own primitive world, most of my information came by way of an occasional obituary, never ending music-celeb scandal sheet fodder or random music pouring from some car pulling up alongside me at a red light. I guess I can list my favorite old 45’s I discovered this past year, but they have little to do with ’08, let alone this century. I only bought a handful of CD’s last year. A few that come to mind are the Antony and the Johnson’s CD, a Mighty Hannibal collection, and Baden Powell’s Canto on Guitar but none of them were released in 2008. I didn’t download any new music either and though I probably bought some 30 DVD’s and maybe as many as 40 books last year; once again, I’m not sure if any of those titles were actually released or published in 2008.
 
So then I started thinking about all the gigs and concerts I went to … and once again I drew a blank. There are years that fly by, and then there was 2008 which seemed to last only about 37 and a half hours … and I must have slept through most of it.
 
Then again I did have two great adventures last year. A three week tour in Italy where we played some great gigs, but more notably I ate some incredibly delicious food. And a two week vacation in Paris, which I wrote laboriously about over the holidays, where once again it was all about the food. However, during both trips there were two unusually great musical moments that came out of nowhere. Unfortunately both events are probably knee deep in that “you had to be there” category, but what the hell …
 
In Florence after playing a show, we were all invited to stay at a friend of a friend’s 15th century farmhouse in the hills of Tuscany, about a half an hour away. But first we had to meet our host at a club not far down the road, located in an old, abandoned Catholic church. From the outside it looked like most any other 600 year old building, inside some of the original religious elements were still intact, not many, but enough to realize that this used to be a place of worship. What really surprised me was the music; tangos and only tangos. It was a tango club. On the dance floor were the most perfectly attired, gorgeous collection of people I think I’ve ever seen gathered in one room in my life; and I looked like hell. Most of dancers moved in the traditional Argentinean or Uruguayan steps of “the forbidden dance,” and a few other couples who hadn’t yet perfected the tango just playfully toyed with the chest to chest embrace, spinning hip to hip, tearing it up in their own way. The music selection was perfect; the volume was nice and low so the conversations around us were lively and intimate. The room was pretty brightly lit so you could see the pick-ups and make-out romances at the tables along the walls. Dozens, and I mean dozens, of wine bottles were strewn around the perimeter of the dance floor. There was one helluva sensual vibe in the room. And I don’t mean that last-call-desperate-to-get-laid kind of vibe either. Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by Tango music, from the early songs of Carlos Gardel, to the orchestras of Juan D'Arienzo, to the Nuevo Tango of Ástor Piazzolla. That night with a bottle of wine in my hand, I just sat in the corner --but not too far from the heat of the dancers -- listening to the rhythms and I was at home!
 
If you’ve ever taken the Metro in Paris, chances are you’ve been accosted by a musician performing on the subway train. More often than not, what the captive audience gets is a mediocre accordion or bandoneón player or some guy with a guitar singing some song you’ve heard way too many times and never need hear again, let alone a sorry ass rendition. Rarely does the music stir anything except irritation. But on this last visit to Paris we were riding on the number 8 Metro, towards Alfortville, to see some friends. An accordion player stepped on board, and instantly a slight frown appeared on practically every face but the musician’s. He stood in the center of our train, started playing, and something came alive. People perked up, turned around and actually looked him in the eyes. He was masterful. Playing a couple of jazz standards which I should know the titles of but I can never remember, his tone was insanely beautiful, simply faultless. He improvised fluidly and soulfully, without that annoying bravado street musicians might shove down your throat in order to be noticed. In a matter of moments he made something happen, an intangible skill few musicians possess no matter how trained and studied they might be. This portly, unattractive accordion player with a bad haircut had the musical equivalent of “it!" After a couple of minutes he gathered a few coins from his audience and moved forward to the next train car.
 


Sulla Strada, Capitolo Sei

Posted by Whitmore, February 8, 2008 07:10pm | Post a Comment
FIRST: This Listing Ship tour of Italy entry is a little old, the problems of traveling without a laptop and not having enough time to write … the events outlined here were ultimately an insignificant blip on the radar map of my life, a night and a mood I should just forget and ignore, but what fun is that! And though it culminates with a walk though the pitch dark (literally and metaphorically) there is -as always- whenever I can invent one ... a happy ending.

BLOOM: In late 1991 Nirvana played their first gig in Italy at this club just outside of Milan. Club Bloom holds about 300 hundred people, but if I’ve done the math correctly, (though when I presented my equation to guitarist Lyman, a Math Professor, he seemed puzzled by my efforts – but I deduced that those with a doctorate in math are just constantly puzzled), … since I figure every fourth person I’ve met in Italy was at that Nirvana show, that means at least 12,125 people were packed into Bloom that night witnessing music history. There is the other possibility that just by dumb yankee luck I’ve actually met most of those 300 audience members and my math skills and equations are as erroneous as Moses supposes his toeses are roses.

CLICKS: Early in our set, probably around the 4th or 5th song I swear I heard a click, it was the sound like a door’s deadbolt unlocking. I thought, shit this isn’t good. It’s a sound I’ve heard before in my head, and only in my head. A place where my mind paces back and forth, at a place I sneak a peak, sometimes, other times I take a seat in the dark. Luckily so far, no one has caught me, locked me in, as there is always that possibility.

OFF: I looked around the stage, the club, the back wall and everything seem to be going well. The songs were jumping, the instruments were in tune, the monitors were kicking out plenty of sound, I could see the wine in my glass gently vibrating on the amp, the lighting was cool and moody, the crowd of about 150 or 200 people were pushing closer to the stage. Earlier in the evening we had yet another incredible meal on a tour of incredible meals; and though my mind was swimming like trout up stream to die, my belly felt fine, fat and warm …

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sulla strada, capitolo cinque

Posted by Whitmore, February 2, 2008 03:26am | Post a Comment
In Milan, Milano ... we'll be here for over a week staying in a friends apartment as we have several shows in the surrounding area, including a big show at a club called Bloom (famous for being the first club Nirvana ever played in Italy). Anyway, this apartment will have to be our home away from home for a while, and it's big enough, I think, for the nine of us on tour ... And over here, alongside the piano, where this strip of carpet is, well this part of the floor is my very own ...

But I can't sleep. It can't be jetlag, I've been here a little too long. I'm not tense or stressed, nor depressed, nor starving - far from starving - and I really do like sleeping on the floor - I do it all the time at home in LA - but I just can't seem to sleep ...

On a night I don't sleep I don't think anyone understands 'undisturbed' less than I do, its suppose to mean untroubled by interference or disturbance, I wouldn't know ... of course if there is someone else out here walking with me, they are more silent, invisible ... I should be concerned, but I'm actually undisturbed by such a threat. Hey, there it is, definition!  If there is someone else out here on the streets of Milano at 4am, and if they too are halfcracked from sleeplessness ...  I suspect he too doesn't understands 'undisturbed' (well, the chances are he'll speak Italian anyway!) and except for the fact that we most likely couldn't understand each other, this other insomniac and I could probably talk till dawn about what undisturbed means and doesn't mean to us.

Actually I'm lying, and I'm laying in bed in our temporary home in Milan, I can't leave, I couldn't get back in through the security doors ... the other 4am night walker out there, and you know who you are, is just going to have to remain invisible without me.
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