Amoeblog

White Noise for Channel Identification

Posted by Whitmore, October 5, 2008 07:08pm | Post a Comment

Stereo Test albums and Stereo Dynamic records almost always have great graphics. My all time favorite album cover could very easily be To Scare Hell out of Your Neighbors. My Dad has that record; not only does it look great but it also sounds pretty incredible … well, if not actually incredible, at least bigger then friggin’ hell itself. As a kid I used to play it at full volume over our more then adequate state of functional-furniture-by-way-of-Sears-1967-winter-catalogue stereo console. To Scare Hell out of Your Neighbors features a couple of the finest room-clearing tracks you’ll ever hear, like Bach’s Toccato in D Minor -- aka the Rollerball theme --and the first cut, "Adolph Hitler" from Edmund De Luca's Conquerors of the Ages, where we hear several members of the London Philharmonic forthrightly shouting "zeig heil!" Pieces like these literally disturbed the holy crap out of my grandmother. Perhaps it was I who drove her to those late morning/early afternoon gin and tonics.

Anyway, there is something about the secret language and technical diatribes on the back of these albums I absolutely love. All the numbers and graphs and arrows point you, the listener, in the direction of an aural climax.

And in fact from an early 20th century Dadaist or Surrealist perspective, the complex narratives on these back covers could be viewed as truly modern poetry: polemic critiques of technology, ready to bugger all of our puny, inconsequential romantic rhymes. Reason and precision annihilates passion and unprotected sex. Nonsense belittles the hollow logic of bourgeois capitalist society, producing nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective slaughter … Eat your heart out André Breton … eureka, I have found you!

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Man Ray

Posted by Whitmore, August 27, 2008 11:55am | Post a Comment


Often cited as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Man Ray, was born Emmanuel Radnitzky on this day, August 27, 1890 in Philadelphia. He significantly contributed to the Dada, Surrealist and Avant-Garde movements of the 20th century and was a significant voice in the Parisian art world after The Great War. Though he mostly considered himself a painter, it’s as a photographer and film maker he is best remembered, not only for his experimental photography and films of the 1920’s and 30’s but for his fashion and portraiture work also.

A side note, during the Second World War, Man Ray returned to America, settling in Hollywood from about 1940 until 1951 at 1245 Vine Street-- the Villa Elaine apartments, across the street from the old Hollywood Ranch Market, right around the corner from present day Amoeba Records in Hollywood.




RETURN OF THE REPRESSED DURING A COMMERCIAL BREAK

Posted by Charles Reece, May 17, 2008 09:45pm | Post a Comment
During the commercial breaks for Ebert & Roeper, I like to tune in for short doses of Star Trek: The Original Series. Viewing decontextualized scenes kind of gives me a surrealist's perspective on the show, which is invariably better than sitting through an entire episode. Tonight I was privy to a Freudian distillation of the past 40 years of culture wars in a 2 minute scene that would surely please Breton

Some witch woman looking like she was a tad too skinny for a Russ Meyers movie seduces Kirk by getting him high on the herb. Is it, as she claims, the power of her mind that pulled Kirk to her, or something more primitive? Meanwhile her blond hippie boyfriend contemplates shooting Captain Penis in the back with a musket, but throws his gun down and runs off screen.


The conflicted/castrated/liberal male is replaced by a big, woolly, horned creature, which I've since learned is a mugato. The beast threatens to impale the woman  and beat  Kirk to a pulp.

star trek mugato

Kirk might be all libido, but he's libidinal energy that has been cathected into more acceptable cultural roles, such as empire-building. In other words, he's a father figure, and as such he solves the problem in a civilized manner: by pushing a button and phasering the monstrous fucker out of existence. With the surplus sexual energy repressed, order is restored, and this planet's version of Reagan is surely just around the corner.

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Tristan Tzara

Posted by Whitmore, April 19, 2008 08:16pm | Post a Comment
I often seem to be a bit late in writing about historical events on the anniversary of said occurrence; I blame time itself for not allowing me a few minutes to catch my breath, so here I am, several days late, again, celebrating the birthday of one of my favorite characters of the 20th century.

On April 16th, 1896 Samuel Rosenstock (a.k.a. the once and future Tristan Tzara) was born in Moinesti, Bacau Province in Romania. Most famous as the author of the Dada Manifesto and co-founder in 1916 of the original anti-art and literary movement, Dadaism, along with Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Marcel Janco, Hans Arp and Richard Huelsenbeck, Tzara is often credited with discovering the name Dada. One version of the story has him hanging out at the acting Dada headquarters, the Cabaret Voltaire, in Zurich,Switzerland, and randomly selecting a name by stabbing a French-German dictionary with a knife, picking the word impaled by the blade’s point. Dada is a French child's colloquialism for hobby-horse. If it isn’t true, at least it’s good myth. Besides the knife play and original manifesto, Tzara, as leading agitator, also wrote many of the earliest Dada documents including La Première Aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine (The First Heavenly Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine, 1916) and Vingt-cinq poemes (Twenty-Five Poems, 1918). Some of his later works include his masterpiece L’Homme Approximatif (The Approximate Man, 1931), Parler Seul (Speaking Alone, 1950), and La Face Intérieure (The Inner Face, 1953).

[Last year for Tristan Tzara’s 111th birthday I decided to place 111 pink post-its, each numbered sequentially, on randomly chosen objects- buildings, cars, envelopes, people - anything and everything that got in my way as I carved out my day; I believed it to be a perfectly useless and wanky endeavor to pursue. This year for his 112th birthday I thought I’d celebrate by lying about what I actually did last year. Next year I plan on observing his 113th birthday (and prime number) in Zurich by partying at the remnants of the Cabaret Voltaire, and re-live what I did there 20 years ago; relieve myself on the wall outside, just around the corner from the front entrance, on the side street under the Commemorative Memorial plaque. Of course, I suspect, I’ll re-invent, once again, events in Zurich.]

Guillaume Apollinaire

Posted by Whitmore, November 11, 2007 10:05am | Post a Comment

This weekend marks the anniversary of the death of a personal hero of mine, poet Guillaume Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, better known as Apollinaire, who died during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. His greatest contribution to the 20th century, other than coining the term ‘surrealism’ and helping to publicize and define the cubist movement, was probably his poetry, influencing many of the avant-garde, dada and surrealist writers in post-Great War France, such as André Breton and Tristan Tzara.


Some of the best anecdotes about Apollinaire concern his occasionally dubious character. He was known for reviewing non-existent books and writing erotic / pornographic fantasies under pseudonyms. Re-inventing facts was a penchant of his, often ending in uncomfortable predicaments. In 1911, for example, he was detained for six days on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa.  When things looked a bit bleak, he pointed the finger at his trusted friend Pablo Picasso, implicating him in one of the biggest crimes of the era. Both were eventually exonerated, but the Mona Lisa wasn’t recovered until 1913, and after some eight forgeries had been sold! Nevertheless, the more adventurous Parisians were counted in Apollinaire’s circle of friends and colleagues. They were the who’s who of  Paris, artists like Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Marie Laurencin (his long time lover), Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp, writers Gertrude Stein, Alfred Jarry, Max Jacob, and composer Erik Satie.

After the start of the First World War, Apollinaire joined the French military, requesting front-line infantry duty. On March 17, 1916, while entrenched on the front near Champagne close to the Belgian frontier, he suffered a shell wound to the temple. The neurological consequences of such an injury are uncertain. But what is certain, according to people who knew him before and after, his personality and behavior altered dramatically. He became irritable, anxious and depressed, ending significant relationships, including breaking the engagement to his fiancé. Perhaps in part because of his war wounds, exposure to mustard gas, or any of the multiple surgeries he underwent, Apollinaire would become one of an estimated 100 million people worldwide who died from the great influenza pandemic, passing on November 9th in his apartment in Paris at 202 Boulevard Saint-Germain. Every couple of years or so I travel to Paris and I always make a point to stop by his gravesite in Père Lachaise, open a bottle of wine, snack on some bread and cheese, relax and give people directions to Chopin’s and Jim Morrison’s graves.

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