Amoeblog

Observing Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted by Billyjam, April 21, 2009 11:31am | Post a Comment
the readerOne of the most memorable scenes from the hilarious Ricky Gervais/ Stephen Merchant television series Extras produced by HBO/BBC is the episode in which Kate Winslet, playing a nun taking a break from shooting a Holocaust film, is giving advice on how to score an Oscar. "If you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar," advises Winslet, playing herself in the mockumentary about extras in Hollywood. Winslet's episode was first aired in August 2005. Of course, the real kicker to this fictional scenario is that just three years later Winslet went on to star in the wonderful 2008 Holocaust film The Reader and won an Oscar for her role for "best actress" at the Academy Awards earlier this year. 

But the real reason why so many films about the indelible scar on the human experience that is the Holocaust go on to justifiably win Academy Awards is that these typically somber heartfelt films tend to be made, by both directors and actors alike, with such a level of pure passion and sincerity that it comes across in the finished product and ultimately makes for really powerful pieces of art. Examples of films that deal in some way with the Holocaust include Anne Frank - The Whole Story (2001), The Devil's Arithmetic (1999), Conspiracy (2001), Sophie Scholl - The Final Days (2005), Life Is Beautiful (1997), Schindler's List (1993), Jakob the Liar (1999), as well as the 1978 TV mini-series Holocaust. All of these films are available on DVD and found at Amoeba Music.

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Why Is The Ratio Of Female To Male Rappers Still So Uneven? Conscious Daughters + Monica Lynch Weigh in on the Topic: Women in hip-hop Part IV: Women's History Month

Posted by Billyjam, March 27, 2009 05:00am | Post a Comment
queen latifah all hail the queenWhy, after all these years, is the number of female rappers still radically less than that of their male counterparts? Is it really that not as many women want to be rappers? Or rather that they are being shut out and discriminated against, and simply not encouraged to be hip-hop artists? Encouragement ultimately comes down to sales figures, so is that not enough hip-hop fans support women artists? 

"Women can't rap" used to be the common criticism of females heard back in the day. Interestingly, these days the ratio of female rap fans has grown, yet the number of female rap artists has not grown proportionately. 

To answer these questions, which have always puzzled me, I asked a few women who have been in the business for a while: CMG and Special One of the longtime Oakland female duo The Conscious Daughters, and Monica Lynch, the president of Tommy Boy Records during the years 1981 - 1998 where she was instrumental in launching the careers of such artists as Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, Digital Underground, House of Pain, Naughty By Nature, and Queen Latifah. She still works closely with Queen Latifah, helping guide the artist, actor, investor, product spokesperson's with her music-related endeavors.

"When you look at rap as a subset of the hip-hop culture at large, you see that a vast vast majority of the DJs were male, a vast majority of the graffiti artists were guys, the vast majority of the breakdance crews were men, and the vast majority of the rappers were male. So it was just an extension of the origins of hip-hop culture being a predominantly male cuture," said the former Tommy Boy president, who firsthand witnessed rap music morph from supposed "fad" into an unstoppable global cultural movement.

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AARON COMETBUS ON WRITING & MUSIC (INC. THORNS OF LIFE)

Posted by Billyjam, January 30, 2009 08:46am | Post a Comment

aaron cometbus
Somehow longtime author, punk rock drummer, and self-described "punk anthropologist" Aaron Cometbus (born Aaron Elliot) has managed to stay relatively under the mainstream radar while simultaneously gaining great notoriety and deserved respect among underground punk circles for close to three full decades now -- ever since the beginning of the eighties when, barely a teenager, the highly intelligent and gifted Berkeley youth began writing his seminal punk fanzine Cometbus.

He also played music in many bands from a young age. His second band Crimpshrine, in which he played drums, was the pioneering East Bay punk band which had a major impact on the burgeoning East Bay punk scene, up until their demise in '89. Since then Aaron has continued to consistently make music as a member of, literally, dozens of different bands -- most of them short lived groups. Some, such as Pinhead Gunpowder, which he formed with Billie Joe Armstrong and others in the early nineties, still play occasionally. His most recent band is the Thorns of Life which formed a few months ago in Brooklyn and features Blake Schwarzenbach (of Jets to Brazil & Jawbreaker fame) and bassist Daniela Sea (known for her former membership of the Gr'ups and Cypher in the Snow as well as her acting role in the TV show The L Word). The band, who played their first club date ever on Monday at the Hemlock in SF followed a few days later on Thursday last by a "secret show" at Thrillhouse Records with a reported 100 folks squeezed into the small Mission Street retail space., play 924 Gilman tomorrow (Sat. Jan 31st).

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WFMU RECORD FAIR IN NYC ATTRACTS AMOEBA FANS

Posted by Billyjam, October 28, 2008 06:30am | Post a Comment

Even though it was on the opposite coast and about 3000 miles from the nearest Amoeba store, there were numerous Amoeba logo sightings (on bags and t-shirts mostly) over the weekend at the big WFMU Record Fair at Manhattan's Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street.

Understandably the giant annual music collectors convention, which boasts 10,000 square feet of vinyl (lots of rarities), CDs, DVDs, and magazines & artworks, etc., draws many of the same folks that Amoeba Music attracts-- diehard music fanatics. "Let's face it, music collecting is an addiction," laughed DJ Babu, who visited the fair on the opening day, Friday, when he also did a live set on WFMU from the Chelsea location.

LA native Babu, who coined the term turntablist and who is known for both his solo DJ/production work (his Super Duck Breaks on Stones Throw is a classic) and his membership in Dilated Peoples, Beat Junkies, & Likwit Junkies, said that over the years that he has spent way more time and money at the Hollywood Amoeba than he cares to even think about. Today (Oct 28) is the release date of Babu's latest album, Duck Season Vol. 3 on Nature Sounds. Look for it at Amoeba.

And if you think Babu traveled far, how about record collector Nakajima who flew over all the way from Japan for four days specifically to shop at the all weekend record fair!? But then this record fanatic has also made previous trips to the US from Japan specifically to shop at the Hollywood Amoeba (where he got the Amoeba t-shirt he wore over the weekend as in picture below right). New Yorker Andres (pictured above left proudly clutching his Amoeba record bag), who lives just a few blocks from the Manhattan record fair location, said that he got his bag on "one of several visits" to the Hollywood Amoeba store. "I love Amoeba and every time I go to LA I go to Amoeba," he smiled. 

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THE DEATH OF RADIO

Posted by Billyjam, April 3, 2008 10:50pm | Post a Comment
The recent business news story reports on the $27 billion sales figure deal by radio station-owning company Clear Channel Communications to Bain Capital and THL Partners have focused on how the two big investment giants had, as of last week, sued a cadre of major Wall Street banks to force them to finance the extremely large dollar takeover.   You see, with all the recent drama and fallout and uncertainty of the US economy, the Wall Street bankers who were supposed to finance the takeover (initially agreed to in 2006) basically got cold feet.

In court Bain and THL said that the banks supposed to pony up the cash essentially had "buyer's remorse" when they realized that, with the recent turns in the US economy, that they would not rake in the profits they once foresaw.

 Anyway, all of this news merely blurs, or perhaps further highlights, the real news story here:  The story of the slow decline and final death of (commercial) radio, once upon a time a vibrant creative media form which in the last decade and more -- thanks in great part to Clear Channel, along with other like-minded, huge but soulless entertainment conglomerates -- has been drained of its former glory and destroyed essentially.  This new deal is just the final nail in the coffin.

Of course there are still amazing non-commercial radio stations (especially if you are lucky enough to live in the Bay Area) as well as oodles of great specialized streaming online music feeds, not to mention your iPod's collection of your favorite fifty thousand songs. But long ago commercial radio also satisfied that same need to hear good music, new music, different music, and presented by DJs who personally programmed (and loved) what they played.   But the days of fun, freeform creative commercial radio stations - a la the fictional WKRP Cincinnati or the real KSAN San Francisco- are long long gone.

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