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Earl Hagen 1919 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, May 31, 2008 08:52am | Post a Comment

Earlier this week legendary, Emmy Award-winning television composer Earle Hagen died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., of natural causes at the age of 88. A prolific composer, he wrote many of the classic television themes that endlessly stick in our heads. Shows like Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, That Girl, The Mod Squad, and Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, many of which featured his sense of humor and droll musical wit. Hagen also wrote the jazz standard "Harlem Nocturne” when he was only 20 years of age.

Born in Chicago on July 9, 1919, his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a child. After graduating from Hollywood High School, he left home at age 16 to tour with many of the Big Band giants of the day -- Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Ben Pollack and Ray Noble. While on the road with Noble in 1939 he wrote the classic instrumental "Harlem Nocturne." Inspired by the work and sound of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, this sexy/sultry tune has since then been recorded hundreds of times by artists such as Charlie Barnet, Glenn Miller, Sam "The Man" Taylor, Stan Kenton, Earl Bostic (a major hit in 1956), Johnny Otis, The Viscounts (whose version is perhaps the raunchiest!), Edgar Winter, King Curtis and The Lounge Lizards. "Harlem Nocturne" was also used, years later as the theme to the television show Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer.

But Hagen’s greatest fame probably stems from The Andy Griffith Show and its whistling happy-go-lucky theme written in 1960. This folksy-down home melody perfectly captures the opening credits, scene and feel of Andy Griffith and a young Ron Howard in character as the Sheriff and son Opie, walking down a country path towards the old fishing hole, poles on shoulder, in what must be the-life-idyllic. The whistling was done by Earle Hagen himself.

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See It Now, March 9th, 1954

Posted by Whitmore, March 9, 2008 09:58pm | Post a Comment

On this date, March 9, 1954, America's most respected journalist of the day Edward R. Murrow narrated an episode of See It Now, a news magazine broadcast on CBS television, called "A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy."  Murrow had produced several episodes looking into hysteria of the Communist witch hunt of the 1950’s, but this program in particular was a monumental step toward the collapse of the demagogic and Constitutionally reckless Joseph McCarthy. Often referred to as television's "finest hour”, Murrow takes apart McCarthy’s campaign, showing it to be nothing more than unsubstantiated accusations and persecution towards anyone with a different point of view. By mainly playing recordings of McCarthy himself bullying witnesses and making cockeyed speeches, See It Now showed what they felt was the most dangerous risk to democracy-- not suspected Communists working in the government, but McCarthy’s actions themselves. The broadcast received tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls running 15 to 1 in favor of Murrow.

As Murrow said in his ending:

"No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

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BLOG BLOG BLOG, BLAH BLAH BLAH, TV TV TV, KILL KILL KILL

Posted by Billyjam, February 12, 2008 02:54pm | Post a Comment

While actual numbers and statistics vary greatly depending on where you get your information, according to one World Live Web data source  Technorati there are currently in excess of 112 million blogs with the estimated number of blogs worldwide doubling every six months. That's a lot of blogs out there to read! 

But when will this current cultural obsession with web-logging or blogging end or slow down? Answer: never. It's only going to get more ubiquitous as time evolves with more and more voices opining on every fickle thought that pops into their collective craniums, and entering the infinite blogosphere by the minute, nay second.

The only thing that is going to change (that has already begun to change, especially in the past two years) is that the amount of blog readers (per blog) will shrink in numbers since there are simply only so many readers to go around for all those blogs. I predict it will be soon one reader to every blog. 

But for now it is more than one reader per blog - but not much more - and so I am most grateful to both of you for reading this far on this Amoeblog (hi Mom, hi you).  But I digress,  Hey, did you see that clip of (Amoeba Music fan) Kanye West with Daft Punk on the Grammys? It and Amy Winehouse's satellite fed performance were the highlights of an otherwise dull broadcast that tried too hard to be all things to all demographics.

Speaking of TV watching, with the writer's strike finally coming to an end the average person's life will be enriched by not having to watch so many re-runs and reality shows, as they had to during the strike. But why, I ask, didn't the average adult (who watches approx 5 hours of television everyday) not think outside the box (pun intended) and consider other alternatives to TV watching such as picking up a book to read,  listening to an album, chatting with family members or friends, playing a game of chess, taking a walk, or other activities? Why? Coz they're all hooked on the drug.  Because TV is the biggest drug there is.

As Michael Franti so famously noted in the old Beatnigs & Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy song "Television" (see/hear below) television is "the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation." For proof check the results of a recent UK survey of 2000 men were asked if they would give up sex for six months in exchange for a 50 inch plasma TV.  Without much consideration 47% said they would.

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christmas records and christmas cheer

Posted by Whitmore, December 21, 2007 02:57pm | Post a Comment


Lorne Green
’s greatest claim to fame is starring in the long running western Bonanza, playing the role of the family patriarch Ben Cartwright and being the first man most people ever saw in color on television. But Green’s oddest credit is that he had a number one single in the middle of the English Invasion in 1964: his talking ballad “Ringo”, (which ironically is not about the Beatle, but a Western gunslinger: Johnny Ringo).

This 7 inch record, “Must be Santa,” is his contribution to the subgenre of “annoying kids singing Christmas songs”, (of which I have somehow become a leading collector!?!), featuring some fine shrill warbling of the Jimmy Joyce Children’s Choir. Oddly enough the flip side, “One Solitary Life”, is the polar opposite; a morose, bleak, 2000 year old tale of loneliness, social deprivation and the ultimate execution of a doomed unnamed man (hint, hint) which is probably a more telling song of Christmas than we’d like to acknowledge. Loren Green really plays the fate card well.  Then again, years before Bonanza, Lorne Green was known to his fellow Canadian citizens as "The Voice of Doom", a nickname he earned as a radio announcer for CBC radio from 1939 to 1942, where his distinctive baritone painted the grim news of World War II in deep somber tones. Listening to such a desolate voice, especially on a Christmas record, is just a plain and simple holiday cheer killer …  that miserable tingling in your soul, its not unlike that vacant stare when you’re trying to find parking at the Glendale Galleria the weekend before Christmas, and you have an exhausted, yet frantic, raging, sugar-doped child in the back seat screaming that he wants to see Santa -NOW!- meanwhile babbling on a badly deteriorating cell phone connection is your employer going on about something trivial and asinine, and while looking at that pink parking ticket still stuck under the windshield wiper blades from the last failed attempt at shopping, you rear-end a new Lexus ...  

Granada Hills

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 30, 2007 06:05pm | Post a Comment
Today's Los Angeles neighborhood blog is about Granada Hills. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for a Los Angeles County Community, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

I drove to Granada Hills today to buy a rug for Lush Floral Design head-honcho, Ngoc Nguyen. To get there I used the Ronald Reagan Freeway, named after an actor from Illinois who made some films which are widely regarded as being universally unmemorable. The ex-actor, after retiring from Hollywood, went on to sell weapons to the Iranian dictatorship using the profits to arm death squads in Central America. He also used funds designated for cleaning up toxic waste to fund instead the campaigns of sympathetic politicians and he closed institutions for the mentally ill, which flooded the street with hundreds of thousands of crazy new homeless people that now fill our jails, sidewalks and parks.

     

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