Amoeblog

Bebe Barron 1925 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, April 29, 2008 12:37pm | Post a Comment

One of the pioneers of electronic music and co-composer of the first all electronic film score, Bebe Barron, died this past April 20th of natural cases at the age of 82. She along with her husband, Louis Barron, who passed away in 1989, composed the sound effects / soundtrack to the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet.

Charlotte May Wind (her husband nicknamed her Bebe) was born in Minneapolis in 1925. She earned a degree in music at the University of Minnesota then moved to New York, where she worked as a researcher for Time-Life. Soon after, she met and married Louis Barron in 1947. As a wedding gift the Barrons received a tape recorder and began delving into the world of musique concrete (music created by sounds other than musical instruments, often referred to as “real world” sounds). In 1948 Louis Barron was inspired by the book Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, by MIT mathematician Norbert Wiener. After studying Wiener’s equations, Louis began building electronic circuits to generate sounds. That combined with recorded tape, created a unique and otherworldly aural experience. After moving to Greenwich Village, the Barrons built a recording studio and became entrenched in New York’s burgeoning avant-garde scene. In their studio they recorded the likes of Aldous Huxley, Anais Nin, Henry Miller and Tennessee Williams reading their work; they also recorded and worked with many like-thinking composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and David Tudor. In addition, the Barrons scored their first soundtracks to several experimental short films by Ian Hugo, husband of Anais Nin.

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Art Aragon 1927 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, March 29, 2008 12:38pm | Post a Comment


Several years back I was a dedicated MTA bus rider. I spent countless hours wandering back and forth from Silverlake to my job in Century City where, believe it or not, I worked for a law firm. One afternoon I was sitting in the back staring out into space when someone leaned over past me and tapped the knee of an older man sitting next to me. Hey, this guy told the old man, you’re Art Aragon. Sure enough sitting next to me was none other then LA’s original "Golden Boy,” the legendary and flamboyant Hall of Fame Boxer. This past week Art Aragon died at the age of 80 from the effects of a stroke. And though he never won the world title he was one of boxing’s biggest draws during the 40’s and 50’s.

Born in Belen, New Mexico in 1927, Aragon grew up in East Los Angeles and began boxing in 1942. His first professional fight was in May 1944, against Frenchy Rene at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. He ended his career with a 90-20-6 record, including 61 wins by knockout. He fought many of the stars of the era like Tommy Campbell, Jesse Flores, Carmen Basilio, Don Jordan, Billy Graham, Chuck Davey and Chico Vejarand. Sadly, Aragon had only one title shot in his career, losing to lightweight champion James Carter in November 1951. Aragon, who often struggled to make his weight class, said afterward that he was weak from having to lose seven pounds in the few days before the bout.


Though he was never a world champ, in 1990 Aragon was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. And while he had a great fight career, it was marred by allegations that he fixed a few of his fights. In February 1957, Aragon was convicted of offering a $500 bribe to welterweight Dick Goldstein to take a dive in their scheduled San Antonio bout the previous December. The fight was called off at the last moment when Aragon became ill. Eventually though, the conviction was overturned on appeal.  

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John Buttera 1939 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, March 12, 2008 09:46pm | Post a Comment

I just discovered that "Li'l John" Buttera, legendary street rod and funny car master builder died on March 2nd due to complications from brain cancer at age 68. His death came just four days after that of his fellow hotrod builder Boyd Coddington.

John Buttera was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1939 and began building dragsters there as a kid. A chance meeting with another racing legend, Mickey Thompson, led to his moving to Southern California in the late 1960s, where he worked on, among other things, Thompson's World Land Speed Record streamliner.

The trend setting Buttera went on to build and design almost every type of racing vehicle in the motor world, from street rods to dragsters, funny cars and Pro Stock machines, even customized motorcycles. After he opened his own chassis shop in Cerritos, Buttera’s skills led to working with many of the greats in those halcyon days of drag racing in the 1960s and 70s, including Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen, Shirley Muldowney and Don Schumacher. His Funny Cars were lightening fast pieces of art, with their sleekly elegant and simple lines, suspended low in a beautifully wicked stance. And they also won championships.

Buttera’s stellar reputation as a builder of street rods began in about 1974 when he redesigned a 1926 Tall T Ford, it would be the first in a long series of influential cars. His subtle craftsmanship and superior engineering skills were unmatched. Buttera’s rods like his white ’29 roadster, John Corno’s ’32 roadster (that won the 1980 Oakland America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award), and his ’33 Willy’s model 77, were in a class by themselves, constantly thrilling hot rod enthusiasts. He is credited as being the first to carve customized parts for street rods, race cars and motorcycles from solid chunks of billet aluminum.

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Leon Greenman 1910 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, March 10, 2008 09:01am | Post a Comment


Leon Greenman
, the only Englishman sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, has died this past Friday, March 7th. He was 97.

Greenman was one of six children born in Whitechapel, in the East End of London. His family’s background was Dutch-Jewish. His paternal grandparents were Dutch and when his father remarried, Greenman’s mother died when he was two, he moved the family to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. By the 1920s, Leon had returned to London apprenticing with a barber in Forest Gate. During the 1930s he joined an amateur operatic society where he met Esther "Else" van Dam. In 1935 they married and in 1940 their son Barnett was born. Meanwhile, he commuted between Britain and Holland, working for his father-in-law's book business.

Greenman believed that being a British citizen, his family would be protected from the Nazis.  But by late April 1942, the Nazis had enforced the wearing of the yellow Star of David on Jews in the Netherlands. Leon, meanwhile, gave his family's savings and passports to non-Jewish friends for safe keeping. Scared of reprisals for helping Jews, his friends burned the documents.

On October 8, 1942 the entire family were rounded up and taken to Westerbork, a Nazi concentration camp in the Netherlands. In mid-January 1943 they were told they were being deported to a Polish "work camp."  His wife Esther and three-year-old son Barney perished there at Auschwitz. Greenman survived the war and committed the rest of his life to teaching and reminding the public what he had witnessed at Auschwitz and the five other camps he was sent to. He believed that if he could tell enough people about the horrors of the camps and Nazism, perhaps it would never happen again.

He published a memoir, An Englishman in Auschwitz, and continued to lecture well into old age. In 1988 he received the prestigious Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II for his work fighting racism.

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Boyd Coddington 1944 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, February 28, 2008 10:36am | Post a Comment


As a kid I grew up around Southern California’s custom car culture. My Dad did custom auto body, paint and design. He was constantly chopping, welding, re-chopping, re-welding, filling in some Bondo here, pounding out a dent, re-filling in some Bondo there, pounding out another fender, painting, taping off, re-painting, all performed on some innocent Detroit family car, transforming your average Ford or Chevy into some kind of mutant So-Cal testosterone by-product of too much sun and youth. The smell of Bondo, the polyester fiberglass resin used to fill in holes, is the smell that takes me back to my childhood!  I may just drive a ’97 Toyota, but my heart has always been wrapped around the 1934 Ford Roadster my Dad owned when I was a kid. There was, and is, nothing like cruising around town in a hot rod - the rumble of glass-packs, or the pure simple beauty of pin stripping or the swagger of flames painted across the polished curves of a vintage fender and hood.

West Coast custom car-building legend Boyd Coddington has died at the age of 63.  Coddington had been hospitalized during this past holiday season, but the cause of death has not yet been released.  Born in Rupert, Idaho, in 1944, Coddington started to build cars in his parents' garage as a teenager.  He became a machinist by trade, and at one point worked for Disneyland on the graveyard shift, but by day he would tinker in his home garage producing one car at a time. His designs soon captured the imagination and spirit of Southern Californian car-culture fans. Presently Coddington’s shop in La Habra, California has some 70 employees working in a 50,000 square foot facility which includes an in-house body and paint shop.

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