Amoeblog

Bernie Boston 1934 – 2008

Posted by Whitmore, February 9, 2008 06:47pm | Post a Comment
A few weeks back on January 22nd, retired Los Angeles Times photojournalist Bernard "Bernie" Boston, and a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, died at his home in rural Virginia. Praised as one of the leading photojournalists of his generation, Boston is probably best remembered for his iconic 1960’s photograph of a young Vietnam War protester putting flowers in the barrels of soldiers' gun.

Boston was 74 years of age, he died from Amyloidosis, a rare blood disease that he's had since 2006. Born in Washington, D.C., Boston graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology and served in the Army before starting his news photography career in Dayton, Ohio. Before joining the Times, he was the director of photography for The Washington Star newspaper until the paper folded in 1981. Boston retired from the Los Angeles Times in 1993 after years as the Times chief photographer in Washington.

His most famous image was photographed on October 22nd 1967, "Flower Power", which featured a Vietnam War protester in Washington inserting flowers into National Guardsmen's rifle barrels, was the runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. He was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a 1987 photograph of Coretta Scott King unveiling a bust of her late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Boston is survived by his wife of 37 years, Peggy Boston.

Ah Meng, 1960-2008

Posted by Whitmore, February 9, 2008 09:18am | Post a Comment
Ah Meng was a female Sumatran Orangutan and a favorite at the world famous Singapore Zoo. Ah Meng passed away on February 8th due to old age. She was about 48 years old and leaves behind two sons, Hsing Hsing and Satria, and two daughters, Medan and Sayang, as well as six grandchildren. She was known for her friendly nature, comfortability with humans and her animated facial expressions. Ah Meng had been featured in more than 30 travel films, and written about in some 300 articles, becoming the poster girl of the  Singapore Zoo. In 1992, the Singapore Tourism Board awarded Ah Meng a "Special Tourism Ambassador" honor in recognition of her contribution towards tourism in Singapore. Originally recovered in 1971 by a veterinarian from a local family who kept her as a pet, Ah Meng’s first owner had smuggled her illegally from Indonesia.  Her species, the Sumatran Orangutan, is a rarer breed of orangutan now critically endangered due to illegal logging and poaching. There are about only 7,500 Sumatran Orangutans left in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Ah Meng was the first to host the Zoo's famous “Breakfast with an Orangutan” program, where luminaries such as Prince Philip of Britain and Michael Jackson were among the many foreign dignitaries and celebrities that visited her. By allowing close interaction with Ah Meng and other orangutans, the Singapore Zoo aimed to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving the orangutan's natural habitat as well as other environmental issues.

Mort Garson 1924 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, January 14, 2008 06:58pm | Post a Comment

Every once in while you realize certain names are always appearing in the credits of old albums, and it’s a constant surprise. I was always astounded by how often I’d find Mort Garson's name, and on some of the most unlikely records. From Doris Day to Mel Torme to Glen Campbell, and all those albums of nice soft-pop vocals from the likes of The Letterman or the Sandpipers or the Glenn Yarborough record of Rod McKuen covers. And you would usually find Mort Garson conducting or arranging those safe but somewhat innocuous collections of ‘pop hits of the day’ by the Hollyridge Strings or the Sunset Strings. And if you’re lucky enough to find it, you’d see Mort Garson provided background music to Laurence Harvey reading poetry on Atlantic. And why do I think it’s so odd? Because whenever I think of Mort Garson I think of the legendary pioneer in electronic music, and not the multi-faceted, in demand arranger and conductor.

Mort Garson, who also co-wrote the classic "Our Day Will Come," died this past January 4th of renal failure in San Francisco. He was 83. Born July 20, 1924, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Garson attended the Juilliard School of Music. He was a pianist and arranger with dance orchestras before serving in Special Services during World War II and before moving onto Los Angeles and the pop music world. But it was his work as a composer using the then novel Moog synthesizer on a series of albums in the late 1960s and '70s that is his lasting claim to fame, especially to record collectors and electronica enthusiasts. These albums, especially the 1967 exotica classic, and influential, The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds,  established his cult following. The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds is one of the first electronic and psychedelic albums put out by Elektra Records.

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Dave Day in Memoriam

Posted by Whitmore, January 13, 2008 12:43pm | Post a Comment


The winds came first … the neighbors tree falling came next, and when the haunted harmonica sounds of the wind blowing through my office door, (sounding like a Ennio Morricone soundtrack), started imitating an Armenian duduk, (the most beautiful sounding instrument on the face of the Earth), I knew I was going to find something sadder than usual in my morning New York Times.

Dave Havlicek, aka Dave Day, guitarist and banjo player for one of the most original, legendary  and enigmatic bands ever to grace a stage, The Monks, died last Thursday, January 10th. Day, who was born and lived in Renton just outside Seattle, Washington, suffered a stroke or a heart attack on the previous Sunday morning which left him on life support for a short time before he passed.

Many years ago, way too many to actually acknowledge, I used to work at the original Onyx Café when it was next door to the Vista Theater in East Hollywood. One evening a customer gave me a home made cassette tape of a band I had only vaguely ever heard of named The Monks, the record Black Monk Time.

I put on the tape. What I remember most are two distinctive reactions: mine of total amazement and awe, how the hell did I miss this band (I’m a record geek for chrissakes!), and the reaction of another customer saying almost the same thing. But his “what the hell is this?”  was followed by something like  “do you have to play this crap now!” 
 
The Monks were five American GIs stationed in Germany who billed themselves as the “Anti-Beatles”. They played it heavy, weren’t afraid of feedback or dissonance and Dave Day added to the mayhem and the whole crunching rhythmic sound by playing the hell out of the electric banjo. They shaved their heads into monks' tonsures, dressed in black monasterial robes, sometimes wearing nooses as neckties, mocked and rocked harder than any of their sixties counterparts while basically inventing what would become kraut rock, industrial, and punk music.  Am I overstating their importance in rock music history? No! Their nihilistic deconstruction of Rock and Roll, owing in part to the Dada Movement of the ‘20s, predated Punk’s similar efforts by a good ten years or more. The Monks were easily 30 years ahead of mainstream rock’s time.

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Karlheinz Stockhausen 1928 - 2007

Posted by Whitmore, December 10, 2007 10:55am | Post a Comment


Karlheinz Stockhausen
has died at the age of 79 at his home in Kuerten-Kettenberg, Germany. Regarded as one of the greatest musical visionaries of the 20th-century, he earned a great deal of respect and admiration from a cult following for his original and influential compositions, as well as for his authorship of new musical systems. But he’ll mostly be remembered as being one of the pivotal voices in the development of electronic music following World War Two. Though esteemed by many, he also earned a great amount of scorn from those who found his work to be “monotonous” or “unnecessary, useless and uninteresting”. He didn’t help his cause with his own awe-inspiring megalomania and eccentricities.

But ultimately he was a man who influenced practically everyone from the Beatles (he’s pictured on the Sgt. Pepper album cover,) to the Kraut rock sounds of Can (Holger Czukay and Irmin Schmidt studied with him), to the psychedelic sounds of early Pink Floyd, to the unconventional rock worlds of Frank Zappa, Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, Coil and Björk to the world of jazz and beyond with the likes of Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Anthony Braxton Herbie Hancock, Evan Parker, and to the newer breed of avant garde composers like Cornelius Cardew and Hugh Davies. Stockhausen is also generally regarded as one of the originators of techno, given his experimentation with electronics which included tape, oscillators and Ondes Martenot back in the fifties and his use of beats in the 1970’s.

More recently, he made news for his reaction to the attack on the World Trade Center. Not  known outside the world of modern-music he became instantly infamous for calling the attack “the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.” Needless to say, his comments drew outrage. He later apologized, saying that his allegorical remarks had been misunderstood and taken out of context. And just to get the story right, here is his statement.

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