Amoeblog

Beachwood Sparks Reignite

Posted by Billy Gil, August 2, 2012 04:35pm | Post a Comment
Beachwood SparksA new band is poised to take over L.A. this weekend. No, it’s not some band of upstarts on Slumberland or Captured Tracks, it’s the recently reformed, reenergized Beachwood Sparks. Hot on the tracks of their excellent new album, The Tarnished Gold, the Sparks are playing The Echo Friday night with Tomorrows Tulips, The Abigails and DJ Kevin Fitzgerald. The show kicks off Saturday’s The New LA Folk Festival, at Zorthian Ranch in Altadena (about which Eric Brightwell recently blogged). That show takes place from 1:30 p.m. to about 1 a.m. and also features He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, White Magic, Spindrift, Sea of Bees and Restavrant, among others.
 
You may recall Beachwood Sparks’ early 2000s output, their self-titled debut, 2001’s breakthrough Once We Were Trees and the 2002 EP Make the Robots Cry, which poured psychedelic touches and smoggy haze over faithful country-rock, encapsulating certain histories of California music — 1950s Bakersfield rough country rockers like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Laurel Canyon hippies like Buffalo Springfield and Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds, and the San Francisco psychedelia of bands like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. But Beachwood Sparks didn’t feel derivative, and were more in line with contemporaries Wilco and The Flaming Lips for their incorporation of neo-psychedelic sounds. They also played in a web of related bands like The Tyde, Mystic Chords of Memory, Frausdots and All Night Radio, while founding member and bassist Brent Rademaker, his brother, Darren, and guitarist Christopher Gunst were in the beloved ’90s cult band Further.
 

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Hollywood Swinging: a primer for the neighborhoods of Hollywood

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 26, 2012 09:42pm | Post a Comment
HOLLYWOOD
 

Hollywood Boulevard - 1927
Hollywood Boulevard in 1927 at the opening of Hells Angels at Grauman's Chinese

Hollywood is famous around the world as the one-time center of the American film industry. Although Hollywood isn't the original home of the west coast film industry (nearby Edendale in Echo Park and Sycamore Grove in Highland Park both have stronger claims to that distinction), Hollywood has for almost a century continued to serve as a metonym for that industry (and inspire portmanteaus like Bollywood, Dollywood, Ghallywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood, etc); even though that most of the film industry mostly long ago abandoned the neighborhood, primarily for the San Fernando Valley. Hollywood has done an excellent job of branding though. After all, you don't have other countries referring to their film industries as "Bedendale," "Nycamore Grove", or "the Ghalley."


Vintage Hollywood Postcard

The Hollywood neighborhood has expertly continued to pimp its association with the American film industry that formerly called it home where the other neighborhoods did not. In Edendale, the oldest studio was torn down and is now a vacant lot where the 2 Freeway meets Glendale. The old Mack Sennet Studio where Charlie Chaplin and Keystone Cops movies were made is now a public storage facility unceremoniously tucked behind a Jack in the Box. Hollywood, on the other hand, continues to bill itself as "The Entertainment Capital of the World" and adds industry-related tourist attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was installed long after the last pieces of tinsel in tinseltown had blown over the hills.
Homeless on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Today there are relatively few vestiges of Hollywood's cinematic past not installed merely to attract tourists -- of the film studios, only Paramount remains. Of the major label music industry, only Capitol Records remains. The aforementioned Walk of Fame -- to me, at least -- serves primarily as a testament to the ephemeral nature of stardom. Not to be hopelessly cynical but the first time I saw the names like Bryan Adams, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Paula Abdul, I felt nothing but disinterest. However, for roughly ten million annual visitors it's presumably something terribly exciting and I honestly don't want to disparage that.


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Laurel Canyon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 16, 2009 03:30pm | Post a Comment
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of Hollywood
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Hollywood, showing the approximate location of Laurel Canyon

This blog entry is about Laurel Canyon. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.
Streets of Laurel Canyon

The woodsy area in the Hollywood Hills now known as Laurel Canyon was originally inhabited by the Tongva. A spring-fed stream attracted Mexican shepherds in the 18th century. After the region became part of the US, Anglos arrived. About 100 years ago, the area was divided up, cabins were erected and the area was marketed to vacationing tourists. The first movie made in Hollywood was shot in Yucca Corridor in 1910. Though the film industry remained centered in Edendale for a few years, it gradually shifted to Hollywood and Laurel Canyon became the home of some of the burgeoning industry's photo-players.
Laurel Tavern

Famed cowboy star Tom Mix bought the Laurel Tavern and converted it into his residence. Mary Astor had a love nest on Appian Way. Gay Mexican "Latin Lover" Ramón Novarro lived there until his murder in 1968.

(During which the author continues to unpack.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 17, 2009 10:20pm | Post a Comment
hard work
The author decorates his new Study.

It’s late. I’m tired. And earthquaked. I’d no sooner finished up my final box of bric-a-brac placement, when the latest in seismic waves rocked my little piece of Los Angeles.

What occurred in my imagination was far more dramatic than what actually took place. In my mind, my bookshelf toppled over on me and I was knocked unconscious by my collection of creepy, antique clowns and monkeys. Naturally the wound would cause me to fall into a coma, and since the boyfriend is in Vegas for the weekend, I wouldn’t be discovered until late tomorrow. Although he’d rush me to the hospital (taking time to wolf down a Cliff Builder Bar – this candy bar masquerading as a protein supplement he’s addicted to) and I’d be put on life-support, my vegetative state would last for days.

By the time I came out of the coma, I would have lost 180 pounds (making me a very fashionable 5 pounds) and my speech would sound like a recitation of Dada poetry. For some reason I’d be scared of celery, too, though the doctors would never understand why.

(In which we consider the mystical & tragic Judee Sill.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 29, 2008 12:25pm | Post a Comment
robber

Last night I was mugged at gunpoint. The perpetrator not only made off with the $560.00 in cash that I was carrying (which I had intended to deposit today) but he knocked me down to the ground and kicked me hard enough that he left a nasty bruise in my ribs before he made his getaway on a magic, chocolate-colored Pegasus.

None of which is true, but it is a rather exciting way to begin this week’s blog entry, isn’t it? Except that, by lying to you, I have now risked alienating you emotionally, because you will now think twice about trusting what I tell you, even if it’s about how much I like that top you’re wearing and how to sets off the flecks of color in your shimmering eyes.

Speaking of violence and the romantic visage of your enduring beauty, I know some of you haven’t yet heeded my advice and investigated one of my most favorite balladeers of all time: Judee Sill.
 
Judee Sill
Judee Sill conducts herself well.

Judee’s story is one of tragic darkness, from which sprung gorgeous and sage songwriting. She was the Billie Holiday of the “Laurel Canyon sound.”

Influenced more by Johann Sebastian Bach than her 1970’s rock ‘n’ blow contemporaries, methodical composition such as fugue-structure, and over-dubbing of her own voice into chorale-style, inform her heart-wrenched post-hymns.

Her father and brother both died when she was a child, and her mother re-married to Kenneth Muse, an animator for one of my least favorite cartoons of all time, Tom & Jerry. (I mean really, the way that mouse antagonizes that poor cat, who very naturally fights back – both by his nature as a felis catus and in defense of Jerry’s cruelty – only to be downtrodden every time. What kind of message does that send to children? BE A BULLY. That’s what it tells ‘em. And then poor, sensitive, fat kids like me get the brunt of it. And all I ever wanted was to love and be loved. Is that so wrong?!)

[Insert sound of Job sobbing here]
Judee Sill

Judee left her dysfunctional home (I imagine her stepfather probably lured her head into a mouse-hole and bopped her face with a mallet) and hit the road for a life of free-wheeling druggery and armed robbery. She developed an addiction to that precocious li’l drug we call heroin. In order to pay for the habit, she prostituted herself (which almost certainly prepared her for a life as a professional musician).