Los Angeles has sure changed.
Some have been welcomed changes and others are hard to get used to. I’m constantly reminded this when I deejay in spots in Echo Park, Hollywood or Highland Park. Those parts of town were once considered the scourges of the city. It was riddled with gangs, drugs, homelessness, crime, earthquake damage and rows of buildings for lease. Ten years later, it’s now it’s a playground for the dull and ordinary. The argument of hipsters no longer applies here, because there is nothing hip about the people that play here. At best, they are in college; at worst they are former frat boys who have come to roost now that the area is safe.
When I used to tour for a living, the best thing about coming home to Los Angeles was getting away from the countless generic college towns that most of the venues were located. Much like the Wilson Pickett song “Funky Broadway” , where every town has a "Broadway and a Broadway women", the college town had the same restaurants, coffee houses, record stores, frat bar, alternative bar and everyone looks the same. Ethnicity as a whole was slim to none, as people of color were always relegated to the “other” parts of town. Being Chicano, I always felt I was in the wrong part of town when as well.. Places with diversity, such as Chicago and New York, were always welcomed stops on the road because I felt I could take a breather from the generic college town. I was never one to wonder why Los Angeles couldn’t be like Austin, Olympia or Chapel Hill. I liked Los Angeles the way it was. It was spread out, not connected by trains so you can play tourist in someone’s barrio. It was damaged and a place for the strong to thrive and the weak to avoid. It short, it was great.
Los Angeles has sure changed.
To me, about the only interesting aspect of the latest zombie film, World War Z, is how it dealt with a certain notion that it shares with all post-apocalyptic narratives, namely that the politics we (many liberals and leftists, at least) find iniquitous in the real world might find a moral purchase in the dystopian fantasy. (The film itself is arranged like a video game, where Brad Pitt goes from scenario to scenario, completing each mission, only to be told by the Side Character Who Knows that the possible solution lies at the end of another mission set in another context with its own set of possible actions.) That actions can produce different moral outcomes depending on context shouldn't be all that surprising, though, since most everyone is surely familiar with the adage about how even the most heinous of political systems might at least keep the trains running on time. That is, if you simplify the public good enough, like the purpose a junkie finds in addiction, one can find an advantage to any system. In the context of a zombie apocalypse, the desideratum is, of course, surviving one more day from the undead plague.
So, one thing a totalitarian regime like North Korea is ably suited for is to marshall all of its forces into closing off its borders and making sure none of its citizens is able to spread the disease should he or she become infected. Ideally, the advantage to martial law is to circumvent time-consuming debate during an emergency. This automatically gives an advantage to a totalitarian regime over a democracy, since only the latter has to bother calling for martial law, the former having already been operating under a military state preceding the emergency. Likewise, because North Korea recognizes no inalienable rights to selfhood, current Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un can put his state apparatus to efficient use by removing all the teeth from his entire citizenry. Not that infection was all that probable, since the country was living in a bubble at the time of the outbreak.
I have been obsessed with zombies for as long as I can remember and I am not really sure why, but I just can't get enough of them! Not the band -- we're talking actual zombies here! Not that zombies actually exist...but you know what I mean. When I found out there was a band named Zombi, I figured I had to at least check them out and I soon became obsessed with Zombi as well. Zombi are a sort of prog space instrumental rock sort of band from Pittsburgh. You could compare them to Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Goblin, Giorgio Moroder, Yes, Rush, and the soundtracks of John Carpenter. I actually first got into Zombi by listening to Majeure, the project of Zombi drummer A.E. Paterra, which has one album from 2010, Timespan. I was hooked and immediately got all of the Zombi albums that I could find, starting with their last album, Spirit Animal, from 2009, and now I couldn't be happier to have a brand new Zombi album in my life, Escape Velocity, on Relapse. And it is just as good as their last -- dark and spacey. Everyone needs some Zombi in their life.
Listen to "Escape Velocity" by Zombi from their new album Escape Velocity...
I didn't really become an Okkervil River fan until Black Sheep Boy in 2005. Not sure what took me so long but there are a lot of bands out there! It just took me a while to devote some time to them. I already talked about them a bunch in two blogs so I won't waste too much more time on them here. Here I talk about The Stand Ins in 2009. And here I talk about The Stage Names in 2007. I don't want to end up repeating myself but I do still love Okkervil River. And yes, they are still putting out great albums! The new album is called I Am Very Far. I just can't get enough of Will Sheff's voice!
In real life, zombies are entranced or betwitched servants or thralls of a Vodou/Voodoo/Vodun bokor... or, sorcerer. They can be living or dead. In movies, however, zombies have gradually taken on a variety of aspects borrowed from other undead, mainly the aforementioned vampires and ghouls.
Ghouls were originally from Arabia and are an evil sort of desert-dwelling, shapeshifting Djinn that eat children and the dead, afterward taking on the meal’s appearance, thus proving the truth behind the old adage, “You are what you eat.” In films, there had been relatively few attempts to depict ghouls. The British film The Ghoul (1933) concerned an undead Egyptologist’s (played by Boris Karloff) attempt to attain immortality and to kill his former servant. It had more in common with the previous year's Boris Karloff vehicle, The Mummy. Other ghoul movies, like The Mad Ghoul (1943), Nobody’s Ghoul (1962), Boy Meets Ghoul (1965), The Ghoul (1975), Ghoul School (1990), Ghoul Panic (2000) and The Ghouls (2003) are unlikely to ring many bells.
How crazy IS possible?
Very crazy was the answer this year...and/or very glamorous, creepy, rockin', shockin', wild, wonderful, and dancetastic! One of the most wonderful and insane Amoebapalooza lineups of all time took the stage at the King King on Sunday night and showed how it was done. Surely any unsuspecting patrons to walk in from Hollywood Boulevard must have thought they had stumbled onto the set of some kind of psychedelic rock opera written by Andrew Lloyd Webber's brain-damaged evil twin, and hopefully they stuck around to enjoy it with the rest of us.
As our lovable and pants-wettingly funny host Brently Heilbron put it, it's the last Amoebapalooza of the decade...soon we won't have the Oughts to kick around anymore, and it'll be the Teens! Taking this temporal warning to heart, the musical freaks of Amoeba made sure they sent the Oughts out with a kaboom. Have a drink with me and let the show begin...
The lights went down on the red velvet curtain, and the festivities began with a Jaco-Pastorious-on-PCP solo bass guitar odyssey from gangly wunderkind Ben Ricci, bravely kicking off this night of strangeitude. Is the bass meant to make sounds like that? Dunno. Ben's bass wizardry was closely followed by the hard-charging sounds of Thin Lizzy tribute band Emerald, with one Sam Rodriguez channeling the spirit of the late great Phil Lynott. Sorry if I'm leaving anything out...the next thing I remember was the always mind-blowing cabaret fantasia of Cream Puff, the one-man show of antique futurist foppington Joey Jenkins. There really is nothing like Mr. Jenkins...jigging, chanting and prophesizing from the stage, in his knickers and mountaineering headgear, he makes you feel like you've wandered into one of David Lynch's weirder dreams. He ended by collapsing in a grand death scene, instantly growing a marvellous flower from his heart. Showbiz!