Lady Beware

Posted by phil blankenship, February 29, 2008 11:35pm | Post a Comment

IVE 63753

Amoeba Hollywood’s Auction this Saturday

Posted by Whitmore, February 29, 2008 08:57pm | Post a Comment

This Saturday is the first Saturday of the month and therefore, it is time once again for Amoeba Hollywood’s Auction, hosted by the inimitable Brently Heilbron.

Amoeba Auctions started as an on-going event to help raise money for the Gulf Coast Relief Efforts. Our auctions have included every conceivable kind of memorabilia from the entertainment world and beyond. Collectibles, promotional items, concert tickets, tour jackets, t-shirts, celebrity underwear, puzzles, toys and all kinds of swag that can make your heart go pitter-pat, have been won. And on top of that, Amoeba matches all individual donations and winning bids up to $1,000. Everybody is a winner!

There will of course be many interesting items to bid on this week, but we have one very special item to auction: An autographed copy of the classic comedy album, Weird Al Yankovic In 3-D.

Weird Al Yankovic was spotted in the Amoeba mezzanine perusing DVDs by yours truly. I mentioned it casually to Brently, who sprinted off as only a former track star and Texas State Champion can do, and I have to say Brently accosted Mr. Yankovic in the most courteous and polite manner I’ve ever seen. Weird Al gladly autographed the record even as we twisted one of his arms behind his back. Actually, he was incredibly gracious and happy to sign an album for the Amoeba Auction, personalizing it, “To the lucky highest bidder.” That can be you! Yes, you sitting at your computer! So come on down this Saturday March 1st @ 4PM. It's not everyday you get to bid on a rare chunk of vinyl, actually autographed by the artist as they shopped in Amoeba while at the same time helping the ongoing relief efforts for the Gulf Coast. Thanks, good luck and happy bidding.

The Employee Interview Part XVI: Corrie

Posted by Miss Ess, February 29, 2008 01:09pm | Post a Comment
2.5 Years Employment
Register Mama

ME: What are you listening to these days?

CC: Neutral Milk Hotel, Vic Godard, Magnetic Fields, Iron Maiden and some Slayer have graced my headphones this week.

What's the best film you've seen this year?

CC: There Will Be Blood & Juno.

What song describes your life right now?

"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want "-The Smiths

Is there a song you think is perfect, start to finish?  That every time you listen to you wish you'd written?

"Wave of Mutilation" -The Pixies

That's a good pick! What is your favorite music-related film?

It's a 3 way tie between Help, Don't Look Back and Krush Groove.

Two of those are two of my absolute faves too!  So, in the grand scheme of life, it's probably an over-discussed topic, but what the heck:  name the best Radiohead album.

I'm a sucker for OK Computer-- it changed my life -- I mean, that's the one as far as I'm concerned-- but The Bends is AMAZING,and In Rainbows does not disappoint.

I haven't really listened to In Rainbows yet.  I need to give it more of a shot.  So what brought you to Amoeba?

A resume that reads like a mall charter,and a lil' hope of something new and different.

What has been your best find here?

The Let's Shake Hands 7" by the White Stripes. I gave up on finding that long ago

Ooh I got that here too! That's my number one favorite White Stripes song too!  What White Stripes album is your favorite and why?

I really dig the self titled album (their debut)-- it's raw and simplistic, but it's their punkiest rockin' album.

This is important: what era of Jack White's fashion has been your favorite and why?

The early days with the white Hanes t shirt and the stay pressed jeans, the pinstriped look (circa Cold Mountain), and there should be a mention of the black and red pants from the Elephant tour.

Yes, I think you hit on all the key points with that answer, especially the red and black pants!  What White Stripes-related band is your fave?

The Greenhornes -- they play some great rock n'roll.  The Soledad Brothers -- check out anything by either of these bands and you won't be sorry.

What is your favorite White Stripes video?

That's a hard one.  There's all that Michel Gondry stuff that's just fun to look at.  The new one, "Conquest", is pretty amazing, but I'm gonna have to go with "Blue Orchid", it's dark and hooot!

I should watch "Blue Orchid" again-- that's how Jack met his wife Karen Elson
-- classic "artist-meets-wife-at-video-shoot "scenario!  They are no Jani Lane and Bobbie Brown from Warrant's "Cherry Pie"!  The Gondry stuff is ground into my brain.  I was so obsessed with that Michel Gondry Director's Series video when it came out.  I adore him and his aesthetic, his creativity.  I think I watched that DVD twenty times or so!  He's a very good match for the White Stripes.  I love "The Hardest Button to Button" but my absolute, number one fave is "Dead  Leaves and the Dirty Ground".  So, um, back to me asking you questions.  What local venue do you enjoy seeing shows at the most?

Bottom of the Hill, Cafe du Nord.

What music very quickly brings you back to your childhood?

The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Billy Joel!!!  Madonna (True Blue and before).

So then who is your favorite Beatle and why?

George-- his humor, his guitar playing.  I really admire him as a human. I feel that he was true to himself and followed his path.

What song is guaranteed to get you on the dance floor?

"Common People" by Pulp...old school Madonna.

Wow, you hit upon another one of my less widely-known obsessions...Jarvis Cocker.  Favorite karaoke song to sing?

"Brand New Key" by Melanie, and "Magic Man" by Heart.

What's the best soundtrack to a film, ever?

Pump Up the Volume ... Pixies, Danzig, Slayer, Leonard Cohen .... I heard it at an impressionable age, just can't shake it. TALK HARD!!!

God, I still have never seen that movie.  What kind of child of the 80s/90s am I?!  What has been the most enjoyable instore for you and why?

The Raconteurs was pretty magical; some of my favorite musicians filled the place out, rocked the roof off, and then afterwards they weren't too cool to say hello. I got to meet Jack White, Jack Lawrence, Brenden Benson, Patrick Keeler, and Dean Fertita.  They were sweet and very kind. I also met a dear friend at that instore, Miss Shelby, and we've attended a few fantastic shows together since. All in all a great time. Boris was a close second. They blew the roof off as well, only it sounded as if they brought the apocalypse with them...

Is your band Sexx still up and running?  Any shows coming up?

We're always up, and we do have a show, March 25th at Cafe du Nord, with Nero Nava and the Invitation to Love...

Thank you for your time!

Welcome to Casablanca Records

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 29, 2008 12:30pm | Post a Comment

1980 saw the Casablanca release of Tony Joe White's The Real Thang album, which contained the amazing track "I Get Off On It", in which he discusses various individuals and their predilections--  junk food, trannys, trenchcoat flashers, bondage. Combine with a couple of other album highlights "Disco Blues" & the disco-ized version of "Even Trolls Love Rock and Roll", add copious amounts of cocaine and you've pretty much 'crystallized' the Casablanca Records story. 1980 was also the year that Polygram final squeezed Casablanca's founder out of the picture.  Neil Bogart went on to put together Boardwalk Entertainment, signing Joan Jett.  He also signed Get Wet -- if anyone out there knows what the Lou Reed connection is with them, please chime in. Anyhow, Mr. Bogart's body gave out on him 2 years later. 

Under the name Neil Scott, Bogart (born Bogatz) cut his music biz teeth at Cameo Parkway- talk about a crash course in the reality of the biz! He released a few records before they got shut down for Stock fraud.  He then moved on to Buddah and was crucial in the rise of Bubblegum, something he stuck with throughout his career- think T-Rex, Kiss, Joan Jett etc...Joining forces with fellow Brothers in Buddah Cecil Holmes, Larry Harris and Buck Reingold, he created Casablanca Records.

An early overpressing of the Johnny Carson double record (believe me, there are still way too many of them around, haunting me daily upstairs in vinylandia) put the label in a serious bind, but young Eugene and his bandmates scored an impossibly huge hit with their low budget masterpiece in tape splicing KISS Alive and really shot the label into the stratosphere... (btw Eugene, please get that f**king sex tape destroyed- I hate to see larger than life types brought down to mortal-dom. Nothing does that faster than inviting the world to watch you get sloppy in the bedroom.)

Anyhow, the rest is history.  Donna Summer, Village People, Scatt Brothers (the best Casablanca release PERIOD), Flashdance, Steve Allen "Funny" Fone Calls and on and on.  As above mentions, Neil was out of the pic in 1980, but the label kept on at it till 85, bowing out with A Chorus Line. Yet another major overpressing...Anyhow, here's a nice collection of Casablanca (and related labels) artwork and such.  Next Blog will be a quite stunning label gallery...Check out Tony Joe doin his thang live at the bottom...Motolla's Lindsey Lohan relaunch of Casablanca has no relation to the real deal, sorry pal- I know you gave Dr. Buzzard and crew their big break, but I just can't give a crap about Lohan...worst...Marilyn...ever... Yaaaawn.......


Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's, #4

Posted by Whitmore, February 29, 2008 11:20am | Post a Comment
Maybe it’s the spring thaw, and not self-doubt. This muddle I seem to be writing about is in reality a torrent of mud and ice pushing me down hill. Why? Because it’s almost March, Easter is around the corner, (at least I hope so … I gave up television for Lent!). If winter is done, spring must be near. Perhaps, there isn't a fiasco-muddle-shamble going on here after all. Nor is there a voice telling me I’m in the middle of a crisis of faith. (Then again, there may be a voice telling me I’m not experiencing a crisis of faith). Alas! Maybe I should just put away the Edgar Allan Poe collection; his gloomy narcotic influence has been forcibly illustrated here repeatedly and is perhaps detrimental to your entertainment, dear reader. What am I suppose to do? Just write a straight forward description / history about the ephemeral nature of 45 sleeves! It might be said of this blog, blather written in babble -"blab la bla blab la bla"- It does not permit itself to be read! And why not? There are ideas which do not permit themselves to be thought out. Ideas die often in their infancy: wringing their sweaty little hands, furrowing their soft miniature brows, pushing away ghostly acknowledgments as quickly as possible, otherwise something bad might reveal itself, and then the idea ... expires. Now and then, the conscience of an idea takes up a burden so immense that it can only be thrown into some late night rant. And thus the essence of this blog is divulged. There you have it, thank you Mr. Poe!


Posted by Billyjam, February 29, 2008 06:10am | Post a Comment

The act of heckling performers has to be as old as time itself. I'd bet even way back in the prehistoric, early days of mankind that whenever one cavemen got up to entertain his fellow cave dwellers that some neanderthal in the group would heckle him midway through his bit.

It just seems to be part of the human condition for those in the peanut gallery to feel the need and right to shout out their criticisms, even if unjustified, at those giving their all onstage. Those onstage include stage actors, musicians, comedians (perhaps the number one target of hecklers), and even politicians.  Additionally many self appointed critics have also been known to scream out their feelings at the movie screen, proving that heckling is meant as much for the benefit of fellow audience members as for the performer(s).

And even though it comes with the territory, especially for stand-up comedians, it has to be pretty tough for those up onstage, already performing a demanding draining job, to have some uninvited (often drunk) loud-mouthed bozo scream out his/her dissatisfaction with your performance.  For the rest of the audience, however, a heckler hounding a performer can often result in some entertaining interplay between the two parties. Of recent performer/heckler altercations, probably the one that first pops into most minds is the November 2006 incident at the Laugh Factory comedy club where Michael Richards (aka Seinfeld's Kramer) went off on a nasty tirade on some African American audience members (see below).  How he handled it is a textbook case of what not to do if you wish to remain active in showbiz, especially in these camera phone/YouTube digital days when every move is being documented to be later used against the respective parties.

But every performer handles hecklers differently and it is pretty interesting to study the different approaches applied.  Below I have included video clips of some that deserve a peep, such as the late great stand up comic Bill Hicks who, in a bit that superficially seems to rival Kramer's, really rips into a female audience member-- even using the "C" word  on this woman.  But the key difference is that, even in his most riled rant, he stayed in control and remained entertaining -- even if the audience didn't know where he was going with the bit. And at the end he made fun of himself.  More importantly, it was within character - the sort of thing that you might expect from the notorious comedian who ruffled many feathers by always telling it like it is (or was).

Continue reading...

Rich Girl

Posted by phil blankenship, February 28, 2008 11:47pm | Post a Comment

RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video 91543

Boyd Coddington 1944 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, February 28, 2008 10:36am | Post a Comment

As a kid I grew up around Southern California’s custom car culture. My Dad did custom auto body, paint and design. He was constantly chopping, welding, re-chopping, re-welding, filling in some Bondo here, pounding out a dent, re-filling in some Bondo there, pounding out another fender, painting, taping off, re-painting, all performed on some innocent Detroit family car, transforming your average Ford or Chevy into some kind of mutant So-Cal testosterone by-product of too much sun and youth. The smell of Bondo, the polyester fiberglass resin used to fill in holes, is the smell that takes me back to my childhood!  I may just drive a ’97 Toyota, but my heart has always been wrapped around the 1934 Ford Roadster my Dad owned when I was a kid. There was, and is, nothing like cruising around town in a hot rod - the rumble of glass-packs, or the pure simple beauty of pin stripping or the swagger of flames painted across the polished curves of a vintage fender and hood.

West Coast custom car-building legend Boyd Coddington has died at the age of 63.  Coddington had been hospitalized during this past holiday season, but the cause of death has not yet been released.  Born in Rupert, Idaho, in 1944, Coddington started to build cars in his parents' garage as a teenager.  He became a machinist by trade, and at one point worked for Disneyland on the graveyard shift, but by day he would tinker in his home garage producing one car at a time. His designs soon captured the imagination and spirit of Southern Californian car-culture fans. Presently Coddington’s shop in La Habra, California has some 70 employees working in a 50,000 square foot facility which includes an in-house body and paint shop.

Coddington set the standard for workmanship and creativity.  His first claim to fame came with his streamlined re-creation of a 1933 Coupe that won the Al Slonaker Award at the1981 Oakland Roadshow, one of hot roddings most prestigious prizes. Boyd's cars have also won "America's Most Beautiful Roadster" an unprecedented seven times, the Daimler-Chrysler Design Excellence Award twice, and he's been inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame, the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame, the National Rod & Custom Museum Hall of Fame, the Route 66 Wall of Fame, the Street Rod Marketing Alliance Hall of Fame, and was voted "Man of the Year" in 1988 by Hot Rod Magazine. His "Cadzilla" creation is considered to be a design masterpiece, based on a 1950s style Cadillac, it was built for ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. And one more unusual honor came Coddington’s way: he was to have the only hot rod displayed at the Smithsonian, when his '33 coupe was part of a 1993 exhibit titled "Sculpture on Wheels."

Continue reading...

Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man - Saturday @ Midnight !

Posted by phil blankenship, February 27, 2008 10:38pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music and Phil Blankenship are proud to present some of our film favorites at Los Angeles’ last full-time revival movie theater. See movies the way they're meant to be seen - on the big screen and with an audience!

Saturday March 1

When the going gets tough... the tough take the law into their own hands.

Harley Davidson

& The Marlboro Man

New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 938-4038
Midnight, $7

Writer / Producer Don Michael Paul scheduled to present this rare screening of his action comedy cult classic!

Mar 8 Streets Of Fire
Mar 15 Can't Hardly Wait (10th Anniversary!)
Mar 29 The Funhouse


Posted by Billyjam, February 27, 2008 09:15pm | Post a Comment

Modern music lost another great with the passing of rock and funk drummer (and sometime singer) Buddy Miles, best known as member/co-founder of  Band Of Gypsys with Jimi Hendrix, who died yesterday (Feb 26th) at only 60 years of age. So far a cause of death has not been announced.

During Miles' long career, in addition to Jimi Hendrix, he performed with such artists as George Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Barry White and David Bowie. Earlier on in his career, in his pre-Hendrix days, the young Omaha, Nebraska-born percussionist played with Wilson Pickett, Ruby and the Romantics, The Delfonics, and The Ink Spots. A child prodigy, he initially played in his father's (George Sr.) band The Bebops.

But it was as musical collaborator with Jimi Hendrix that he truly made his artistic mark - first teaming up with the guitar legend in 1969 when Hendrix produced an album for the Buddy Miles Express. (Express followed the short lived band Electric Flag that he was in with Mike Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites.) The Hendrix collaboration led to Miles' drumming on Hendrix's Electric Ladyland and soon after officially joined Band Of Gypsys with bassist Billy Cox.

Band of Gypsys' self-titled album recorded live at New York's Fillmore East was their only release, but to this day it is considered to be one of the best live albums from that era in rock music. After Hendrix's death in September 1970, Miles continued to contribute to tracks by the late guitarist (posthumously constructed in the studio with Hendrix recordings). Many, many years later he and Billy Cox would regroup to record a live album (The Band of Gypsys Return), which was released two years ago.

Continue reading...

Hello Degrassi!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 26, 2008 03:14pm | Post a Comment
I've been commissioned to write a blog about one of my favorite Canadian bands. As someone who spent a year and a half in rural Iowa with no friends and a satellite dish, I spent many Mountain Dew-fueled hours watching Much Music with the VCR remote in hand hoping to tape videos by the likes of the Dream Warriors, Zumpano, Leonard Cohen, Trans-X, Lime, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, or Eric's Trip whilst adroitly changing the channel within microseconds of a Bootsauce song's opening notes.

But there was one band who, I don't think, ever got any airtime on Much and will not likely ever be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. That band is ...  Zit Remedy. They formed in 1985 and only recorded one song, "Everybody Wants Something," which they sold for 2 dollars (Canadian) which, echoing Peter Saville's costly New Order packaging for "Blue Monday," cost less than the blank tapes they were recorded on. There's a Zit Remedy website that does a good job of providing the biographical information for the seminal band. I will say that a bit of the information is wrong, or out of date. Anyone who keeps up with Degrassi knows that after Craig Manning's dad died, he formed a band Downtown Sasquatch with Spinner, Jimmy and Marco which practiced in... legendary Zit Remedy frontman Joey Jeremiah's garage. And he performed his song "What I Know" at the Degrassi Battle of the Bands as a sort of apology to Ashley Kerwin. So, obviously there's a lot of musical talent coming out of Degrassi. In fact, there's a wikipedia entry devoted to them.

Of course, even though Zit Remedy is defunct, they have a fan site on myspace complete with loads of comments about where to get amazing bud, ringtones and crap like that. It jokingly describes their sound as "emo/screamo" but the Zits, to me, sound more in line with all those 80's bands from Dunedin.

The other problem with the website is that the audio files don't seem to work, which is unfortunate. Luckily for me, I downloaded their hit and burned it to CD a few years ago when we had a mix CD exchange club behind the scenes at Amoeba which we called "CD Club." My mix was criticized for having "too much mezzanine spice" (the mezzanine here at the Hollywood store being where we used to keep the soundtracks) because of my passion for quasi-fictional bands (it also included James Marshall's dreamy, creepy hit "Just You" from Twin Peaks. Luckily, we live in the age of YouTube. In looking for Zit Remedy I found ice-beer swilling Canucks singing and covering it along with the video recorded after they changed their name to "The Zits."

Continue reading...


Posted by phil blankenship, February 26, 2008 11:02am | Post a Comment


Vestron VA5118

Hit Clips and Minor Blips

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 26, 2008 12:35am | Post a Comment
The early days of MTV were spent pushing bands and recording artists, as it was Music Television.  Here's some fine evidence of that time period and of the power of the M in 80's advertising...

The "Hip Clip" phenom of the mid 80's, precursor 90's and the "alternative" and "buzz" words...


Aaah, a real biggie here for Corey 3.  Couldn't track one down for his follow up Boy in the Box...

Oh well...

out today 2/26...the smurfs...dolly parton...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 25, 2008 11:38pm | Post a Comment

I always get that depressed feeling the day after the Oscars. It is sort of like the day after you go to Disneyland or the day after you get back from a vacation. It feels like what I imagine some people would feel the day after the Super Bowl. Of course as soon as they are over, I start to look forward to next year. There are some absolutely horrible movies out right now. It is a rare day when there is nothing that I want to see in the theaters, but that will all change in a couple of weeks or so when some great and exciting movies start to come out again. Luckily the DVDs are still coming out to keep us busy during these sad days at the movie theaters. You can start to catch up on the great films of last year if you missed any of them. Michael Clayton came out last week. Into The Wild comes out next week. No Country For Old Men comes out March 11th. There Will Be Blood comes out in April.

There are also some TV shows on DVD to keep you busy. I was too young to watch the original Bob Newhart Show when it was originally on in the late 70s. I didn't start to appreciate the genius of that show until years later when I got to watch the reruns on Nick at Nite. But I did watch Newhart when it aired from 1982 to 1990. I did really love this show for some reason-- maybe this is why I have always wanted to open up my very own little hotel... or this is at least why I love to stay at hotels. The first season of Newhart gets its debut on DVD today. But just like we had to wait until Season 2 of Dynasty for the debut of Joan Collins, it was not until Season 2 of Newhart that the great Julia Duffy first appeared. She was without a doubt my favorite character on the show and I think she probably had the best lines. I was really obsessed with TV comedies back in the 80s. There were just so many great hilarious comedies on TV back then. I am still not really sure what happened, but the great comedies just simply don't exist anymore. Maybe my sense of humor changed-- but how can you really compare 2 & 1/2 Men and Reba to shows like Newhart and Family Ties?

Out today is also your favorite children's cartoon The Smurfs. I was also a bit obsessed with The Smurfs. I am not really sure that I can actually make myself watch this show again, but I am just very glad that it is out on DVD. It comforts me for some reason, and it is nice to know that a whole new generation of kids can also appreciate some classic children's TV. And in case you were wondering, they are of course remaking The Smurfs into a feature animated film starring the voices of John Lithgow and Julia Sweeney. I also just found out that Square Pegs will be out on DVD in May. This show only lasted for one season with 20 episodes, but it made a huge impression on me. This was the My So Called Life or Freaks and Geeks of the 80s. And there is only one more week to go before the release of the first season of The Love Boat!

There is also some music out today as well. Two big R&B albums come out today, and one of them will probably be bigger than the other. Both Janet Jackson and Erykah Badu have new albums out. But the most important release of the day would have to be the new Dolly Parton album! I have forever loved Dolly Parton since I can remember -- long before I ever saw 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, or Straight Talk, I was in love with the voice of Dolly Parton. She has one of those instantly recognizable voices that always puts a smile on my face. I don't think I have really ever met anybody who does not like Dolly Parton. There might be some people out there who could live without listening to her music, but I seriously doubt there is anybody out there that doesn't at least sort of like Dolly Parton. It is hard for me to not smile when thinking about Dolly Parton. I still have not made it out to Dollywood, but I imagine it to be the happiest place on earth. Dolly has a new album out today called Backwoods Barbie, and she of course has a new myspace page to tell you about it here. The first single is called "Better Get to Livin'" My favorite line from the new single is "I'm not the Dalai (Dolly) Lama, but I'll Try." Brilliant. Dolly is promoting this new album as her first mainstream country album in over 17 years. That would take us all the way back to Eagle When She Flies in 1991, just a year before Whitney Houston covered "I Will Always Love You" for the film The Bodyguard.  I am sure you all remember that year. You seriously could not go a day without hearing that song no matter where you were.

Dolly Parton has been busy exploring other genres over the last couple years. She has spent most of her time making Bluegrass albums and managed to fit in an album of more folk type songs and also an album of patriotic songs. But she is back and ready for mainstream country again. I am most excited about hearing her cover of  "She Drives Me Crazy" by the Fine Young Cannibals. I never thought I would want to hear this song ever again, but on a Dolly album it sort of makes sense. The rest of the album is all written by Dolly with the exception of one more cover: "The Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson. The most exciting thing about a new Dolly album is a new Dolly tour. She really is something special in concert -- she totally takes over the audience and puts on a better show than you could ever possibly imagine. As much as I am excited about the musical version of Young Frankenstein, I am even more excited to hear that there is a musical version of 9 to 5 being worked on. Dolly has really made her way deep into my heart. She is one of those musicians that will stay with me forever. I can't really ever turn my back on Dolly, so I am going to embrace this new album and count the days until she comes to town.

also out today...

We Have You Surrounded by The Dirtbombs

Bees Made Honey In the Lion's Skull by Earth

Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp

Blade Runner-Trilogy Deluxe 3CD Soundtrack by Vangelis

Discipline by Janet Jackson

New Amerykah by Erykah Badu

(In which Job writes in two worlds.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 25, 2008 11:14pm | Post a Comment

"Look Marge - I soaked in it!"

My right hand hurts. I keep bending my fingers back, trying to stretch it, but I’m “double-jointed” – the fingers go all the way back to my wrist – so it takes a lot of muscle-power to stretch the hand, causing me to worry that, in my effort to stretch my right hand, I’m going to injure the left.

I’m pretty sure there’s an ancient, Chinese proverb about this exact situation. If only I’d have paid attention in third grade, when they teach Chinese mysticism and philosophy – then I could quote it. Alas.

My 3rd grade class. Can you find me?

I suppose I should explain why my right hand hurts. God knows I don’t trust you to come up with a reason yourself. I know you, dear reader, and know that your twisted imagination has already concocted an offensive reason for why my right paw aches; something like:

“I’ll bet he was trying to knit a scarf with thick, Rowan ‘Big Wool’ yarn using only a 10 inch, single-point needle!”

You’re sick, y’know. You need help.

The reason my right hand hurts is because I have been addressing envelopes for wedding invitations, using large, calligraphy pens and ornate lettering. It’s my wedding gift to Carrye and Jared, who’s wedding it will be.

I guess I should break it to you now – I didn’t see your name on the invite list. But don’t take it personally, I mean, you don’t even know Carrye and Jared and you certainly don’t have time to fly to Texas for the ceremony. I know – I looked at your schedule.

What does any of this have to do with Amoeba Music? That’s a good question, and one I’ve been asking myself as I wrote everything you just read.

Here’s what I figure: I’ve been listening to music the whole time I’ve been hunched over my desk, like a Medieval monk in Gap sweats, so hey… (you ready?) Here’s my suggestions for good tunes to play while you’re addressing many envelopes in your hella phattest calligraphy:

Colin Blunstone “One Year”

The debut solo album (released in 1971) from a member of beloved band, The Zombies. He’s got a lulling, breathy voice that makes even the up-tempo tracks cozy, plus he’s got a penchant for string arrangements, which, in the context of early 70’s folk/pop (i.e., Tim Hardin or Judee Sill) is something I’m a sucker for. It’s intelligent and interesting but still catchy – kind of like early John Cale, but mellower and with fewer art school pretensions. (Don’t misunderstand me – I love art school pretensions. After all, I’m the guy who still thinks This Mortal Coil is appropriate music for getting ready for a night out on the town.)

I was alerted to the album by friend and Amoeba co-worker Aaron, who masterfully deduced that I would be smitten with it. Dude – you should totally ask Aaron for listening suggestions. He’s smart!

Anyway, if you’re into any of the musicians I just mentioned, you should make a stop at Amoeba (on your way to purchase more ink cartridges for your Schaeffer pen) and pick up a copy.

Unless, of course, you want something a little more pulsating while you scribble thy script, in which case, I’ve also been enjoying…

Leslie Hall “CeWEBrity”

The latest album from sex symbol and fashion icon, Leslie Hall. It turns even a monotonous chore like calligraphy into a house party. It’s fresh, it’s naughty, it’s funny, and will coax you into singing along by the middle of every track.

WARNING: Because you will inevitably be bopping your arse as you listen, it’s hard to make the delicate curve of a capital G without quivering and ruining the line. Only expert calligraphists should attempt to mix these two art forms.

I hope these suggestions will come in handy next time you find yourself looking for a soundtrack for a handwriting task. (Note: Though I haven’t tried it myself, I feel certain that these albums would also work for addressing invitations to Bar Mitzvahs, baby showers – even tree trimming parties, although it’s not Christmas music. But then, not everyone celebrates Christmas, so that might not matter. Although, why would you be having a tree trimming party if you don’t celebrate Christmas? That’s just weird. You’re weird. You seriously need professional help.)


Posted by Billyjam, February 25, 2008 11:10am | Post a Comment

As reported in the Sunday Fashion & Style section of The New York Times, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova got in a little shopping at Amoeba Music while in Hollywood, in the days leading up to the Oscars. The musicians/actors and stars of the Irish indie film Once won an Oscar last night in the Original Song category for the film's moving composition "Falling Slowly"  --  which they also performed live at the televised event (see clip below). 

The picture above, courtesy of the New York Times' Emilio Flores, shows the couple shopping at Amoeba Music on Sunset where they reportedly spent time shopping for DVDs (Amoeba prices are way better than back home in Dublin) and talking to fans of the indie success film Once, fans who were pleasantly surprised to see its two stars in the aisles of Amoeba Music.

Personally I was so happy Once won because not only did I fall in love with the film when I first saw it last March, but I saw it under the best possible circumstances: on the big screen in Dublin, Ireland, not far from where much of the film was shot.  And I saw it with two of my favorite people, my dad and sister, who both loved it and its soundtrack as much I did-- so much so that the next day, inspired by the film, we decided to take a short drive south of the city to Killiney, to that beautiful location overlooking Dublin Bay and the Irish Sea where the two main characters in the movie go on their memorable motorbike ride.

Continue reading...

L.A.'s Favorite Spaniards

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 25, 2008 02:21am | Post a Comment



This Spaniard just won an Oscar.
Another is helping The Los Angeles Lakers get back into the finals.
She is one of the best MC's not only from Spain, but in the world!
This band's recent DVD is the best selling World Music DVD at Amoeba Hollywood,
three weeks straight.

Who are they?

L.A. Eats, Part 1

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 25, 2008 01:43am | Post a Comment

Their website claims that the Coffee Table is Eagle Rock's hippest restaurant. So why would they go out of their way to ruin a good thing? Personally, I like Eagle Rock and The Coffee Table exactly the way it is, which is slightly awkward, a clientele of families, college professors, students from Occidental College and Zack De La Rocha. It's like a college town relic from the 90's. Walking in there for the first time you'd expect  to hear Nirvana and A Tribe Called Quest, followed by The Pixies. The food is relatively inexpensive compared to Hollywood's prices and it's plentiful. Also, the coffee is good. Can't name your restaurant The Coffee Table if your coffee sucks.

I sometimes come here on my days off for breakfast. During the week it is quiet enough to have a decent conversation with a friend without having to endure someone else's conversation right next to you. You're not going to hear stories of a screenplay or a record deal, nor are you going to see people that looked like they stepped out of the pages of Vice magazine. If you are into that, this place is not for you. In fact, stay as far away from Eagle Rock as much as you can. It's my day off, after all!

The Coffee Table would like to be hip, but its far from it. And that's the way I like it.

The Coffee Table Bistro
1958 Colorado Boulevard
Eagle Rock California. 
Open daily from 7 AM to 9:30 PM.

Beef 2008

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 25, 2008 01:10am | Post a Comment

Alejandro Sanz
, a pop singer from Spain, has a beef with Hugo Chavez.  It all started with comments Sanz made back in 2004 while on tour in Venezuela. During that time, opponents of Chavez circulated a petition signed by 3 million people that would force Chavez into another election, which Chavez at first resisted. Sanz, not a fan of Chavez because he felt that Chavez was against free speech, said, "If I were presented with 3 million signatures to stop me from singing, I'd stop singing." Chavez’s people, upon hearing his comments, created a website that they hoped they would get 3 million signatures to stop Sanz from ever singing again. It was joke, but for Sanz, it was mean-spirited attempt at humor. Soon afterwards, Sanz claimed that the government of officials harassed Sanz and his crew, making it impossible for Sanz to play in Venezuela by forcing hotels not to let him stay there, thus forcing promoters to cancel the dates.

To add to the fuel to the fire, during a show in Miami, Sanz wore a Venezuelan flag draped over his shoulders, then held up a shirt that was handed to him that said “Chavez Sucks.”  Soon that footage was all over the Internet, thanks to Youtube.

After a third attempt to play in Venezuela was canceled, a petition in support of Sanz started to circulate, only this time his support came from artists from all over the spectrum of Latin entertainment. Pop icons such as Shakira, Penélope Cruz and Jennifer Lopez; to conscious artists such Fito Paez and Joan Manuel Serrat, as well as conservatives Gloria Estefan and husband Emilio, all signed in support of Sanz.

The red flag for me is anytime the Estefan family get involved with anything. I understand the need for free speech and when a government wants to censor an artist it should never be tolerated. But once Gloria and Emilio get involved I know it’s just to further their Anti-Castro/anti-socialists beliefs. The Cuban in the U.S. (otherwise known as Cuban Nationals OR by the derogatory term, gusanos, which translates to “maggots”) are the first to call for a boycott on artists from Cuba anytime they have attempted to perform in America. The Cubans Nationals are also the first to boycott artists such as Willie Colon, Andy Montañez and Veronica Castro for performing in Cuba and supporting the Cuba. So how are the Estefans going to knock Chavez for censorship when they do the same thing?

I have no problem with Sanz’ fight or the artists that signed his petition, but it’s self-centered and shortsighted at best. For instance, his petition doesn’t mention other countries that don’t allow artists with dissenting opinions into their country, The United States is guilty of this very thing and makes Venezuela look like Amsterdam in comparison. During the Bush regime it has been difficult for almost all non-European bands to get visas to play in the U.S. Just today, I looked in the L.A. Weekly to see who was coming to town.  Angelique Kidjo, (A recent Grammy award winner) Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Perú Negro (who you can see live at Amoeba Hollywood on March 2nd, Amoeba San Francisco on March 17th!) were the only artists that weren’t from North America or Europe coming to town in the next month. When I saw Tinariwen back in November, only half the band was present for the show, as the rest did not get their visas. It made for a mediocre show when the band itself is spectacular.

If Sanz really cares for free speech and is not just in some pissing match with Chavez, he needs to look at the bigger picture of artist censorship. Sanz is playing into a right wing agenda that is quick to pass judgment on their enemies but never looks at themselves..

félicitations à Marion Cotillard &

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 25, 2008 12:47am | Post a Comment
Glad to see Ms. Cotillard get the serious nod; Esther and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance...In celebration of the award show buzz, here's a small gallery of award stickers...none of which are Oscar related...


Posted by Charles Reece, February 24, 2008 09:55pm | Post a Comment

Welp, I got 67% (that's 16 out of 24) right.  Red is for what I got right, and blue what I got wrong .

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Best animated feature film of the year
"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics): Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Brad Bird
"Surf's Up" (Sony Pictures Releasing): Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in art direction
"American Gangster" (Universal): Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount): Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in cinematography
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.): Roger Deakins
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Seamus McGarvey
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Janusz Kaminski
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Roger Deakins
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Robert Elswit

Achievement in costume design
"Across the Universe" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson

Best documentary feature
"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Pictures) A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" (The Documentary Group) A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
"Sicko" (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company) A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (THINKFilm) An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
"War/Dance" (THINKFilm) A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best documentary short subject
"Freeheld" A Lieutenant Films Production: Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
"La Corona (The Crown)" A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production: Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
"Salim Baba" A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production: Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
"Sari's Mother" (Cinema Guild) A Daylight Factory Production: James Longley

Achievement in film editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Christopher Rouse
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment): Jay Cassidy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Dylan Tichenor

Best foreign language film of the year
"Beaufort" Israel
"The Counterfeiters" Austria
"Katyn" Poland
"Mongol" Kazakhstan
"12" Russia

Achievement in makeup
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
"Norbit" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount): Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
"The Kite Runner" (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics): Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" from "Once" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and: Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" (Warner Bros.): Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
"So Close" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best motion picture of the year
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production) A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Best animated short film
"I Met the Walrus" A Kids & Explosions Production: Josh Raskin
"Madame Tutli-Putli" (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
"Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)" (Premium Films) A BUF Compagnie Production Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)" (Channel One Russia) A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production Alexander Petrov
"Peter & the Wolf" (BreakThru Films) A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best live action short film
"At Night" A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production: Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)" (Sky Cinema Italia) A Frame by Frame Italia Production: Andrea Jublin
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" (Premium Films) A Karé Production: Philippe Pollet-Villard
"Tanghi Argentini" (Premium Films) An Another Dimension of an Idea Production: Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
"The Tonto Woman" A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production: Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Achievement in sound editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in sound mixing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal) Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate): Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in visual effects
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Adapted screenplay
"Atonement" (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Written by Diablo Cody
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins

Oscar Look Book...So I'm an Oscar Whore, So What?

Posted by Miss Ess, February 24, 2008 09:05pm | Post a Comment
As we all know, the Oscars are really about the fashion--  because, as my dear floor manager Don Ford always says, "It's about the pageantry."  Oh, yes. 

Please, just this once, allow me to be utterly self indulgent and....Let's look at some of my favorites from the red carpet!

Best Accessory:

To Amy Adams for her see-through birdy bag.  This bag is aaaaaamazing-- that's an arched winged flying bird on the top!  I saw her admit to Ryan Seacrest on E! that it holds ... nothing!  It's made of gold mesh and essentially is just there to look good.  (On the dress side of things, props to Miss Amy for wearing Proenza Schouler as well!  Lovely color on a redhead.)

Best Accessory Part 2:

To Vanessa Paradis.  She's got the ultimate arm candy.

Worst Accessory:

To Diablo Cody for her exposed ink. I know this may make me unpopular, but as anyone who knows me knows, I firmly believe that tattoos (and chewing gum) have NO place on the red carpet on such a night as the Oscars.   I mean, I know she was a stripper and all, but the Oscars are all about glamour, people.  And leopard print, that's a whooooole other story.  Call me old fashioned.  Whatever. I can take it.

Oh wait, but I forgot about Julie Christie's gloves:

Do I even have to type What Was She Thinking?!

Best Jewelery:

To Jennifer Garner for her gorgeous diamond necklace.  That's what we call glamour, people.  That's right, with a "U".

Unexpectedly Good:

To Sara Lawson, George Clooney's latest  arm candy.  She met Clooney when she was a cocktail waitress in Vegas.  Do I need to say more about why her dress is particularly unexpectedly good?  It looks like a Monet painting, and I always enjoy tasteful beading, don't you?

Best Pregnant Lady Getup:

To Cate Blanchett, of course!  The neckline alone of this dress is awe-inspiring.

Best Hair:

To Jessica Alba.  The dress was a mess, but the hair!  I love it.  Sorry I can't make the photo bigger.

Best Fashion, Male:

To Spike Lee and Wesley Snipes.  Class all the way.  So Wesley dodged taxes a few years, whatever, at least he knows how to dress it up!

Least Impressed to Be At the Oscars:

It's a tie between Harrison Ford & Calista Flockhart and Casey Affleck & Summer Phoenix.  Don't get too excited, guys.

Biggest Risk & Payoff:

To Marion Cotillard in Jean Paul Gaultier.  Sexytime, no?

The Honorary "Cameron Diaz Paper Napkin Dress Award" goes to:

Cameron Diaz
once again!  What is she thinking?  Remember this dress from a year or two ago?  It's called the Oscars, Cam!  Get creative, woman!

Most Apparent Botox O.D.:

Wax figurine or Nicole Kidman?  You make the call.

 Most Obvious Beard:

With a unanimous vote, it's John Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston!

Most Glamourous Dress:

It pains me to say Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera.   She's not my favorite actress, but the gown, people, the gown!

Sentimental Favorites:

Glen and Mar.

Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's, #3

Posted by Whitmore, February 24, 2008 06:42pm | Post a Comment
The truth - it’s my raw nerves - very, very caffeinated raw nerves eating away at the lining of my stomach. Goddamn! I’ve been, still am, crawling up walls and across ceilings. A few triple espressos and shazzam! I am the Fly! Caffeine has ripped a hole through my brain, certainly through my gut and, holy java juice batman, my sharpened senses wield machetes; heightened Terror Alert Level – “blood dripping magenta!” CRACK! Jesus H, what is that noise! My tinnitus is screaming like hordes of car alarms pinging in a Brentwood parking lot after an earthquake. I can hear all things in heaven and on earth and in hell, simultaneously. For Christ’s sake, I think my neighbor is playing a Ricky Martin CD! Whatever fell upon me has made my blood run thin. How, then, am I not expected to go mad? I have made up my mind to rifle through the recycling bin for that buried bottle of codeine-fortified cough syrup -- hideously expired or not … something, anything. The telltale pot of coffee brews stronger and stronger! And I can’t resist pouring another cup!
Anyway, for the time being, just relax at your desk with your own Cup o’Joe and take a look at some more 45 company sleeves from around the world.

They Call Me The Mercenary #11

Posted by phil blankenship, February 24, 2008 10:40am | Post a Comment

Return Of The Record: Vinyl Sales On The Increase

Posted by Billyjam, February 23, 2008 10:15pm | Post a Comment

CD sales are down but record sales are up. Vinyl, long written off by the industry as obsolete, has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts over the last several years, with vinyl sales on the increase, steadily building in momentum over the past few years. In 2007 there was an estimated 15% increase in sales of new records just from the year before.

And it's not just DJs who are buying records these days. Nor is it just fans of hip-hop/rap and electronic/dance music -- the two genres most associated with vinyl -- but fans of other types of music, including different sub-genres of rock and experimental, among other genres. Additionally a lot of music fans, especially young fans who are tired of MP3s, are discovering the superior warmer analog audio quality of vinyl pressings -- be it on a 7" single or full-length 12" album.

In some cases artists or labels are pressing up vinyl-only releases, often as a way to beat the current rampant free-downloading of MP3 files. But even with a lot of vinyl releases, the record label includes free MP3s such with the new Cornelius vinyl copy of his Gum 12" EP on Everloving/Warner which comes with a printed card in its jacket containing information on the link to MP3 versions of the same songs on the vinyl just purchased.

"A lot of people appreciate the whole aesthetic of vinyl. There is something permanent about the LP format that they really like.  With MP3's, even with CDs, there is a disposability with the format," offered Chris Curtis of Hollywood Amoeba Music, where he is a vinyl point person between the floor and warehouse -- overseeing many smaller genres but getting a good overall grasp of the state of vinyl in 2008 with music fans. "To kids that were born after 1990, the LP was dead," said Chris, "but you see a lot of kids coming in to buy vinyl. I think there is a certain coolness connected with it."

Continue reading...


Posted by Billyjam, February 23, 2008 10:13pm | Post a Comment





They Call Me The Mercenary #10

Posted by phil blankenship, February 23, 2008 09:31pm | Post a Comment

Celebrity Sighting - Diego Luna

Posted by Miss Ess, February 23, 2008 01:57pm | Post a Comment

This week I had the pleasure of spotting Mexican actor Diego Luna in our fair store.  Remember him from Y Tu Mama Tambien?  That was such a gorgeous movie. Before I knew it, I was assisting Corrie in ringing him up!  For the curious, he bought mostly DVDs, including Eastern Promises (buffing up for this weekend's Oscars, no doubt!) and was super sweet.  I pretended I didn't know who he was, and I am positive he realized I was pretending not to know who he was.  Agh.  He winked at Corrie when she handed him his bag and the end of the counter.  What a heartbreaker!

Luna is in town shooting Gus Van Sant's upcoming Harvey Milk biopic, Milk.  In addition to Luna, it's also reported to star the likes of Sean Penn and James Franco.  I've seen them filming up and down Castro St. recently.  The street has been lined with old cars and camera equipment.  That movie will be Oscar bait next year, no doubt.

If you haven't already checked it out, now is the time to see the amazing documentary The Times of Harvey Milk.  It is a phenomenal, moving film.  I'm extremely interested to see just how Van Sant thinks he can top it with a fictionalized scripted film.  I will have to revisit The Times of Harvey Milk myself before Milk is out.

P.S.  James Franco has recently been spotted at SF stalwart Trannyshack!  I'm guessing he musta been researching his role as Harvey Milk's lover.  And no doubt having a blast in the process!

Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's, #2

Posted by Whitmore, February 23, 2008 10:46am | Post a Comment
With daylight, reason returned and gone was the previous night's debauchery, but both the sentiment of horror and remorse remained in regards to the conversations I elicited with … the Voice. Guilt, was it guilt I suffered? The voice’s disparaging remarks about 45’s and my love for such trivial objects. But I found myself sharing the same odious views! How can that be? I needed to convince myself, somehow, that my soul survived untouched by the experience. Again I felt obliged to plunge headlong into excess; quickly I made myself a triple espresso, straight-no chaser of cream, as I had to focus on the tasks of the day: a new blog.

Anyway, back to reality, here are some more 45 company sleeves from around the world.


Posted by phil blankenship, February 22, 2008 11:51am | Post a Comment

Virgin Vision 70021

Haunted by the Brutal Splendor of old 45's

Posted by Whitmore, February 22, 2008 08:28am | Post a Comment
Convinced myself, I seek not to convince. But … a lone voice hesitated, yawned and, resonating a bit like Johnny Cash’s sonorous tone, drew closer to my ear. It geared down again to yet a lower, darker pitch, whispering something vague and unclear, a perfect combination of ambiguity and prophecy. The words eased the whiskey, my drunkenness. Entranced, my brain re-gathered just enough focus. Then, like a balmy zephyr blowing from a high desert squall, the voice crawled across my face, into my ear, into my head, breathing heat and sighing, little by little reminding me of the brutal splendor there is in … 7 inch 45’s. “You listen to a record for just a couple of minutes” the voice murmured, “and then you have to get back up, flip the son of a bitch over. Two and a half, three minutes vanish so quickly these days … It’s just wicked and brutal, don’t you think, don’t you know?” And then the voice added, wistfully, one more thing, almost as an afterthought, “Nevermore.”
That’s all. The voice also said something about pandemics, government corruption and fear, but I pretty much ignored the serious stuff. Since it’s been a while, I think it’s time to write about the little record with the big hole! So let’s start with some record company sleeves from around the world.

Crime & The City Solution and Simon Bonney -- Criminally Underrated

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 21, 2008 10:51pm | Post a Comment

Crime & the City Solution 31 December, 1977 (image source: Phil Turnbull)

It seems that almost from their inception the band Crime & The City Solution they were cursed to never be spoken of without a mention of famous Australian Nick Cave. It's really no one's fault. They were part of a incestuous web of musicians with frequent Nick Cave collaborator Mick Harvey at the center, a man who though a talented multi-instrumentalist, can only play one one band at a time, resulting in other pursuits being put on hold whilst he focused on his main gig.

Crime & The City Solution formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977. Their original line-up included vocalist Simon Bonney (the band's only permanent member, fresh from a brief stint with The Particles), Don McLennan on drums, Harry Zanteni on guitar, Phil Kitchener on bass and Dave MacKinnon on soprano and tenor saxophones. Simon Bonney, whilst born in Sydney, had spent some time on his family's remote farm in Tasmania where his they grew wheat, barley and opium poppies.

Crime & The City Solution -- October, 1978 (photo credit: Inner City Sound)

Bonney went to Melbourne in October, 1978 and saw Boys Next Door play at the Tiger Lounge. In November, McClennan and Bonney stayed in Melbourne supposedly due to lack of funds for return fare, thus ending the Sydney version of Crime & The City Solution. Bonney also met Bronwyn Adams whom he would marry and who would later contribute to the lyric-writing process and add her haunting violin to the band's sound. 

In 1979, Crime & the City Solution formed a new line-up in Melbourne with Dan Wallace-Crabbe taking over guitar, Kim Beissel replacing Dave MacKinnon (supposedly on Mick Harvey's recommendation), Lindsay O'Meara handling bass and Chris Astley joining on keyboards. The band recorded a handful of demos and some live performances are available; the recordings are interesting. Simon Bonney's distinct, moaning vocals are immediately recognizable. The music sounds very much of its time -- kind of a dark, brittle post-punk with saxophone that makes it sound vaguely like Doctors of Madness or Roxy Music. It's a bit raw but in my opinion superior to early Boys Next Door, before Rowland S. Howard left Young Charlatans and brought with him "Shivers." [Note: If you have the Young Charlatans' demos, please let me know.]

The track "Moments" later appeared on the 1981 compilation cassette that came with the magazine Fast Forward and other songs were sold by the band as Rarities in 1986. The Boys Next Door improved quickly and beginning in May 1979, Crime performed a few times as their opening act. In July Beissel passed their demo to Missing Link's (and Boys Next Door's manager) Keith Glass. In August they had residencies first at Pierre's World and then the Exford Hotel after which Astley was kicked out of the band and Beissel departed with him. The band played one final show in December with a substitute filling in before going dormant.

The Boys Next Door, by their second album, 1980's Birthday Party, pursued (thankfully) a sound very different from the mostly bland predecessor of the previous year, Door, Door. Now the band careened through a cacophonous terrain owing a lot to The Cramps whilst seeming to absorb a bit from Crime & the City Solution's post-punk take on The Doors (and, as I remember reading in some book, Bonney's "cocktail shaker" stage moves). 

The Boys Next Door relocated to London, signed to 4AD record label and got fairly huge. Meanwhile, Crime & the City Solution remained silent. I'm tempted to make the analogy of the story of Hedwig and Tommy Gnosis but, to be fair, The Birthday Party were an amazing band. Rowland S. Howard, The Birthday Party's guitarist and writer of some of the band's most amazing songs and Nick Cave disbanded the group in August, 1983.

 Just South of Heaven

Late in '83, Mick Harvey called Simon Bonney and organized for Bronwyn Adams and him to relocate to London. At some point in 1984, Bonney and Harvey recorded two demos, "One Strip Rider" and "Adventure," with Harvey performing all of the instruments. 

In December 1984, a new line-up of Crime & the City Solution formed with The Birthday Party's Rowland S. Howard and Mick Harvey joining Rowland's brother Harry on bass. Epic Soundtracks joined on drums in May, 1985. This line-up released The Dangling Man 12" and the Just South of Heaven mini-LP as well as Just South of Heaven (on CD including tracks from the previous two recordings minus "Shakin' Chill," "At the Crossroads," "The Last Day" and "Stolen & Stealing"). This line-up bore, predictably, some similarities to the much mourned, by-then-defunct Birthday Party. Harry Howard had filled in for Birthday Party's Tracy Pew and because of their shared members and aesthetic, the London Crime were unfairly regarded as a new band formed to ride on The Birthday Party's coattails rather than as competent confreres churning out a similar but distinct form of dirgey, distorted rhythm & blues.

  Check out those line-ups!

In October 1985 Crime relocated to Berlin. In 1986 the band toured Australia, Europe and the USA. At the same time, Rowland S. Howard started his own band with Epic Soundtracks, Harry Howard and his girlfriend/keyboardist, Genevieve McGuckin, the immortal These Immortal Souls. Late in the summer, Crime and the City Solution recorded their proper full-length studio debut, Room of Lights, nine years after forming (whilst Harvey also records Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' fourth album and (in my estimation) first absolute masterpiece, Your Funeral... My Trial).

Room of Lights

In November 1986 Crime appeared (as did Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) in Wim Wenders' Der Himmel über Berlin (hideously translated into English as Wings of Desire). The so-called London line-up played just four more shows before breaking up and in December, Bonney and Adams moved in with Harvey.

In January 1987, Bonney took on work as a roadie for Scratch Acid. In July, Adams edited Nick Cave's debut novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel which Cave later claimed deserved should've resulted in her being credited with a larger role in the novel's creation. 

Meanwhile a new line-up of Crime and the City Solution, the so-called Berlin Crime, formed with Adams on violin, Chrislo Hass  (from D.A.F. and Liaisons Dangereuses) on synthesizer, Christiane F's ex-boyfriend Alexander Hacke (from Einstürzende Neubauten) on guitar (whilst Einsturzende Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld continued to play in Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) and Thomas Stern on bass. This line-up moved into radically different territory -- a vast, romantic, cinematic expressiveness marked all of the band's subsequent endeavors and should've ended comparisons with Cave and crew and perhaps prompted some with The Triffids but they continued to lurk, in the mind of many journalists, in Cave's wake.

The Berlin line-up released 1988's "On Every Train" b/w "All Must Be Love" and the amazing, attendant album, Shine, which they recorded in August, 1987, after which Harvey went off to work on The Bad Seeds' Tender Prey. Also in August, alongside Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Swans, they appeared in Kings of Independence.

In August Crime & the City Solution begin recording The Bride Ship. In September 1988, with Hacke touring with Einsturzende Neubauten, Kid Congo Powers (of The Gun Club and The Bad Seeds) filled in for the band's only Eastern European tour, one which saw them sharing a stage with These Immortal Souls in Austria.

Early in 1989, Bonney and Adams relocated to Vienna. A few months later Crime & the City Solution released "The Shadow of No Man" and The Bride Ship. The band played several times whilst Hacke toured with Einsturzende Neubauten and Harvey with The Bad Seeds (who also recorded The Good Son that year). Toward the end of the year they began recording tracks for what would be their final album for some time, Paradise Discotheque

In 1990 they released the singles "I Have the Gun" and "The Dolphins and the Sharks" off the Paradise Discotheque album, released in September.

Crime and the City Solution

The following year they contributed one of their best songs, "The Adversary," to Wim Wender's ambitious and flawed Bis ans Ende der Welt (Until the End of the World). The band played their last show in August 1991 after which Bonney and Adams moved to Los Angeles and Crime & The City Solution were no more.

In 1992, Simon Bonney made an excellent solo record with collaborations from his wife and country musician J.D. Foster (among others) which resulted in the album, Forever, which married the  poetic expansiveness of the Berlin Crime to country-inflected tunes appropriate to a guy who's rambled the globe, calling Sydney, Berlin, London, Vienna and Los Angeles his homes at various times.

In 1993 and '94 Bonney recorded another brilliant country-infused experiment, a concept album called Everyman, which was released in 1996. Between 1995 and '98, Bonney worked as a truck driver, key grip, acted occasionally, and studied film direction.

By 1998, Simon had finished recording Eyes of Blue with Jim White (of the Dirty Three) on drums, Matt Smith (of Outrageous Cherry and Volebeats) on keyboards, Troy Gregory (of Witches, The Dirtbombs, Swans, Prong, Flotsam and Jetsam, Killing Joke, and Spiritualized) on bass, and contributions from Chuck Prophet (of Go Go Market and Green On Red).

The album was apparently ready for release in 2000 but never appeared except for two songs, "The Lonely Stars" and "Water's Edge" in the film Underworld (but not on the soundtrack) in 2003. In 2010, Bonney posted "Annabelle-Lee," "Eyes of Blue," and "Can't Believe Anymore" on his Myspace page.

In 2001, Bonney, Adams and their family moved to Canberra, Australia where Bonney worked for thegovernement and studying for a PhD (in regulation/justice/diplomacy). In 2004, Haas died from heart failure exacerbated by alcohol abuse. 


 Since originally writing this article Crime & the City Solution re-formed with a line-up that includes past collaborators Bonney, Gregory, Hacke, Smith, and White as well as David Eugene Edwards (of 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand) on guitar and Danielle di Picciotto on visuals.

Crime & the City Solution have been name-checked as an influence by the likes of Mark Lanegan, Coliseum, The Drones, Devastations, Pins and Needles, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They went on tour again (I saw them in November, 2012 and they were brilliant), and they've got a brand new album, American Twilight, coming out on 26, March 2013.

Crime & The City Solution American Twilight

Special thanks to From The Archives and Clinton Walker's Inner City Sound (also an amazing music compilation) for the invaluable information.

if i stop getting starbucks for the rest of the year....

Posted by Amoebite, February 21, 2008 05:58pm | Post a Comment

Gerhard Richter
Kerze (Candle)
.... possibly I could afford to get this.

The Painting that adorned Sonic Youth's sixth double LP "Daydream Nation" is going to the auction block.

With a catalog price of £2.5m, I doubt many Sonic Youth completionists will be bidding.

I will happy to take it off your hands though if you realize it doesn't match your curtains. It will look great above my Ikea couch that I found in the street.
Read More About It Here!


Posted by Billyjam, February 21, 2008 05:00pm | Post a Comment

Longtime self-described "experimental/psychedelic/freestyle" Bay Area group O-Type, featuring Bruce Anderson, Dale Sophiea, Jim Hrabetin, and Marc Weinstein (of Amoeba Music) are playing a very special and recommended mixed-media show titled "The Curse of the Fine Arts" this Sunday evening, Feb 24th @ 8PM at the Berkeley Arts Festival.  Additionally, tonight, Thursday Feb 21st, their music will be featured as the soundtrack to the short film High Heels (directed by founding member Sophiea) which will be screened at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco as a selection of the SF Indie Fest as part of the "Bay Area Shorts" segment at 7:15PM.

O-Type was born out of legendary band MX-80, which Sophiea and Anderson formed back in the mid seventies in Indiana before they moved west to Cali. MX-80, who defied categorization except maybe as "outsider" music, released several revered records on such labels as Island and Ralph (the Residents' label). Being hard to define doesn't sit well with labels, so Anderson and Sophiea started their own label, Quadruped, and busily cranked-out several diverse types of music under a slew of names, including O-Type, The Gizzards, Brutality, Half-Life, and of course MX-80. Marc Weinstein and Jim Hrabetin joined the fold in 1984 and have been part of the experimental musical family ever since.

Continue reading...

Commando - This Saturday At Midnight !

Posted by phil blankenship, February 21, 2008 03:42pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music and Phil Blankenship are proud to present some of our film favorites at Los Angeles’ last full-time revival movie theater. See movies the way they're meant to be seen - on the big screen and with an audience!

Saturday Feb. 23

someone's going to pay!


New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 938-4038
Midnight, $7

Mar 1 Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man
Mar 8 Streets Of Fire
Mar 15 Can't Hardly Wait (10th Anniversary!)
Mar 29 The Funhouse

They Call Me The Mercenary #9

Posted by phil blankenship, February 21, 2008 12:48pm | Post a Comment

(In which pop eats itself.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 20, 2008 09:11pm | Post a Comment

This is a video to a single from an album by Rough Trade called “For Those Who Think Young.” I’m pretty keen on the lead singer, Carole Pope; I dig her husky vocals and her facial expression when she sings. Her face often twists, ugly, and looks close to screaming in horror, then suddenly breaks into a plaintive sadness – a combination which reminds me of Joan Crawford before she was doped out on [insert any liquor here].

Interesting to note is that Carole Pope was lovers with another singer, Dusty Springfield.

That’s Dusty Springfield singing. I hope you already knew that, because it would mean you’re acquainted with her. If not, my sympathy lasts only long enough for you to rush out to the nearest Amoeba Music and find her out. Accompanying her on piano is Burt Bacharach. He’s the dude who wrote the music for the song.

Burt Bacharach, along with lyricist Hal David, also wrote “Walk On By” for Dionne Warwick. It was one of many collaborations between the songwriters and singer. She was their muse. Between them they released a dizzying amount of Billboard Hot 100 hits.

A lot of people from my generation (unfortunately) associate Warwick with two moments in her career: the schmaltzy #1 hit “That’s What Friends Are For” (which – laugh at it though you may – did raise a few million dollars for AmFAR) and her stint as co-host of infomercials for the Psychic Friends Network, along with celebrity psychic, Linda Georgian.

In the mid-1980’s, my sister Jacquie was Linda Georgian’s personal assistant and housemate. My Mom and I visited her at Linda’s house in Fort Lauderdale. When Linda wasn’t reading tarot cards for Liza Minnelli or casting out evil spirits from the summer home of David Hasselhoff, she liked to make her own jewelry, and she taught me how to string necklaces. She also read my aura and saw a lot of “lavender.”


Posted by phil blankenship, February 20, 2008 05:51pm | Post a Comment

TransWorld Entertainment 38009

They Call Me The Mercenary #8

Posted by phil blankenship, February 20, 2008 02:41pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, February 20, 2008 01:54pm | Post a Comment






As with all previous Graffiti in Yokohama pics - all of these were shot by Acco - over last few months

Synth Heroes

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 19, 2008 11:40pm | Post a Comment
Guitar heroes are a dime a dozen...what about synth heroes?  There are many examples. Keith Emerson threw knives and carried his own antibiotic kit to deal with some of the gifts bestowed upon him by groupies. Ray Manzarek rocked the perverted professor persona pre-synthesizers and then sort of recast himself as a late night sleaze demon in the 70's.  Robert Mason had a very interesting take on his Stardrive records, head cocked back with a can of beer in hand.  Here's a gallery of men who dared to forge their version of "Synth Hero," see if you can match the picture to the name & band lists...





A- Greg Hawkes (Cars)
B- Rob Hyman (Hooters)
C- Didge Digital (FM)  
D- Vince Welnick (Tubes, Grateful Dead)
E- Gregg Guiffria (Angel)
F- Paul Hardcastle
G- Jonathan Cain (Babys, Journey, Bad English)
H- Jim Peterik (Survivor)

Answers in my next blog...extra credit for those who know which of these men got their start in horn rock masters "Ides of March"...

The Lemonade Diet -- Master Cleanse Miracle or Dangerous Snakeoil?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 19, 2008 08:13pm | Post a Comment
The Master Cleanse diet was developed in 1941 by Stanley Burroughs. It calls for the practitioner to starve his or herself except for a concoction of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. At night you're to take a laxative tea and saltwater which, through a top-down enema, is said to remove toxins from the body, help one lose weight and even cure chronic diseases. Salt, salt, lemonade, turn the corner and you know the rest... Such famous celebrities as Robin Quivers, Jared Leto and Beyoncé Knowles have all used it to lose weight and it seems to be exploding in popularity.

Who needs the advice of doctors when you've got Howard's sidekick, Jared looking like a magician and Mrs. Jay-Z?

So why is the dangerous diet so popular? Well, I live in California, for one, where all New Age hokum is defended with a "Don't knock it til you try it" acceptance irreconcilable with my Show-Me skepticism. Also, I suppose, because of the very real effects coupled with observational and speculative science. Practitioners get, after not eating, light headed and euphoric, which Burroughs assured dieters was a byproduct of toxins leaving the system. But Burroughs was a dictatorial nudist who insisted his children not wear clothing, not a scientist or doctor. Blindly assuming some charlatan's logic infallible is akin to accepting a lunatic's observation that rain comes from a celestial being shedding tears because we eat cashews. It reminds me of Scientology more than science... only creepier.

    Leader of the Church of Lemonology (with clothing)                              Lemonologists' version of Dianetics

There's also an appeal to Americans, the people who pioneered eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia whilst sharing an ironic, insatiable hunger for fad diets. Our nation's citizens have always favored the quick fixes of starvation, vomiting and surgery to the adoption of healthy habits and here's a diet which people with eating disorders can hide behind that's been championed by the continually unrealistic and un-aesthetic body-type promotion we've come to expect from Hollywood, the pop music industry and supermodels. Hell, Coca-Cola and Pepsi were both marketed as medicine and just look how healthy people become when they drink loads of soda! Coca-Cola, in fact, was developed by John Pemberton as Pemberton's French Wine Coca. His idea was that by ingesting cocaine, kola (with its caffeine), damiana and alcohol, our bodies would reject it along with all those pesky toxins in our system. Sound familiar?

        John Stith Pemberton                  A good documentary                A kid on his way to acquire more health drinks

Doctors have instead suggested that the advocate-touted effects are merely the normal side effects of regular old starvation. Other nutritionists have pointed out that organs like the kidneys, liver, lungs and GI tract are the body's best way of removing toxins and that they require essential nutrients and vitamins to operate properly-- vitamins and minerals insufficiently present in the Burroughs' Magick Slimming Detox Tonic. In effect, the theory behind the master cleanse is akin to draining your car's engine of oil in order to improve engine function. Go ahead and try it before you knock it-- just make sure you have a warm blanket in your trunk and a fully charged cell phone on you.

Dr. Ed Zimney in his article Master Cleanse = Master Scam has asserted that the prescribed mixture does nothing to remove accumulated toxins. Dr. Sunil Patel of the Queen Elizabeth Health Centre claims it is merely a placebo for deluded naifs. Coca-Cola's admission that Dasani is just over-priced tapwater certainly hasn't hurt its sales (except in Godless Europe, where they dared to question why they should pay for tap water!) so how much for a case of your placebos, Dr. Patel? Oh yeah, I've got an ionic footbath I'd like to sell you for a very reasonable ten thousand bucks. Guaranteed to produce cloudy water which, uh, is from toxins™ shooting out of your feet due to magnetism and stuff. Trust me, I'm a nudist.

On the other hand, the saltwater "flush" apparently does kill bacteria. Which sounds great if you think of bacteria as the kingdom of life reserved for bad organisms and not ones that help you survive. Yes, Virginia, there are beneficial bacteria. So, I may not be a doctor (although I tend to value their opinions more than anorexic celebrities) but I think the lemonade diet is merely a peer-sanctioned eating disorder. Look at how many people who do it find a partner to justify their dangerous choices. Here's a thought-- try eating more fruits and veggies with their detoxifying and disease-fighting phytochemicals and not only will you lose weight and get healthier but you also make lasting, beneficial changes in the way you eat.

So, don't take my word for it. Make up your own mind. On the con side, you have a bunch of probably unattractive, not-famous doctors, nutritionists and common sense types. On the pro side you have celebrities a mountebank with a background in the lumber industry who was twice convicted of practicing medicine without a license and a convicted second-degree murderer... and a bunch of crazies that five years ago were eating buckets of lard at the advice of Dr. Atkins.

In the California Supreme Court case People v. Burroughs, 35 Cal.3d 824 the court found Burroughs responsible in the death of a patient. It seems Burroughs' lemonade diet didn't cure cancer after all. Hell, the victim probably just didn't put enough good-ole fashioned maple syrup in their elixir. The court description follows:

During the first meeting between Lee [Swatsenbarg] and defendant [Burroughs], the latter described his method of curing cancer. This method included consumption of a unique “lemonade,” exposure to colored lights, and a brand of vigorous massage administered by defendant. Defendant remarked that he had successfully treated “thousands” of people, including a number of physicians. He suggested the Swatsenbargs purchase a copy of his book, Healing for the Age of Enlightenment. If after reading the book Lee wished to begin defendant's unorthodox treatment, defendant would commence caring for Lee immediately. During the 30 days designated for the treatment, Lee would have to avoid contact with his physician.

Continue reading...


Posted by Billyjam, February 19, 2008 03:02pm | Post a Comment

It reminds me a comedy skit that I heard years ago about a once in a lifetime opportunity to get every recording ever made. But apparently this current offer to attain the "world's greatest music collection" and to own the "largest collection of recorded music in the world" is for real. 

Very real but at a real high price: $3 million dollars precisely for this ebay item, which closes on Thursday, Feb 21st at 6AM PST, and boldly boasts to include "3 million records and 300,000 CDs containing more than 6 million song titles...From Thomas Edison to American Idol, this is the complete history of the music that shaped and defined five generations."

Damn! And you thought Amoeba had a lot of records and CDs!  The seller claims that it is "the undisputed largest collection of recorded music in the world. About half of the recordings are new and never played, and every genre of 20th century music is represented. There are countless rare recordings worth hundreds, or even thousands of dollars each on the collectibles market. Organized and cataloged, the collection is meticulously maintained and housed in a climate-controlled warehouse. The estimated value of this amazing collection is more than $50 million."

The item, which claims to be the "most viewed and watched listing ever on ebay," has gotten an awful lot of attention alright, but not so much from potential big spenders as much as curious music fans like the folks at Mojo magazine who really want to interview the seller, eBay member jpaulhenderson5a4e, about this whole collection. The two photos here are part of the alleged collection which the seller claims  "was purchased by the collection's owner over the past fifty years and represents a lifetime of work and his desire to see the music preserved for future generations. Advancing age and health concerns are forcing the owner to sell." 

Continue reading...

Cross Country

Posted by phil blankenship, February 19, 2008 12:15pm | Post a Comment

Charter Entertainment 90139

Angels & Incest: When Is Your Sister Not Your Sister? When She's Only Acting!

Posted by Charles Reece, February 19, 2008 01:06am | Post a Comment
The "love that dare not speak its name," which Oscar Wilde shared with Lord Alfred Douglas was cited at the former's trial for gross indecency.  Accepting homosexuality as morally permissible has often been cited by conservative moralists as providing a slippery slope to Gomorrah, setting precedent for even lewder acts, such as bestiality or incest.  However, regarding incest (but I'm betting bestiality, as well), its lure seems to have been with us as long as homosexuality.  If not always accepted in practice, incest is a longstanding part of mankind's fantasies as a seedy imaginative otherworld, suggesting what's always possible if man-made laws didn't get in the way.

Greek deities and demigods, for example, were a saucy bunch: Zeus, the longest running head of the Gods, was the son of brother and sister Titans, Chronos and Rhea.  Following in the family tradition, Zeus's second wife was also his aunt Themis, goddess of law.  After things went south with that, he hewed even closer to his father's matrimonial views and married his sister Hera, who gave birth to Hephaestus, buttfugly God of blacksmithing.  Hera, being the Goddess of chain-smoking trailer trash with a thing for two-timin' goodfernothins, had little need or love for such a ghastly son and kicked the poor fuck out of Olympus.  Despite this treatment, according to some versions of the myth, Hepahestus sided with his Ma's henpecking his Pa, resulting in Zeus beating the tar out of him, giving him an eternally permanent limp.  Those kind of mommy issues point towards meth addiction and a life of petty larceny, if these had been mere mortals.  But they weren't, so Hephaestus managed to marry the most beautiful of all the Olympians, Aphrodite, Goddess of love, who was also his half-sister by way of Zeus's tryst with Dione.

Zeus's sexual exploits don't end there, though; he had a beautiful girl, Persephone, by another of his sisters, Demeter, Goddess of farming.  Hades had such a hard-on for his niece that after his proposal was denied by his brother, Zeus, on the grounds that no daughter of his was going to live on the wrong side of the tracks, the God of the underworld entrapped Persephone anyway.  Such incestuous relations didn't merely involve the Gods: that ideal male physique, Adonis, was the result of a union between Syrian princess Myrrha and her father King Theias, after being bewitched by Aphrodite.  And we all know about Oedipus marrying his mom, Jocasta.

That was all fantasy then, you might be thinking, but not now.  In planning on a bid for the White House, mayor Rudy Giuliani's team made a list of their candidate's vulnerabilities.  Chief among his potential problems was his 'weirdness factor,' particularly his first marriage to his second cousin.  Right-thinking moral majority types presumedly wouldn't take a shine to such an abomination.  It wasn't too long ago, after all, that Jerry Lee Lewis pretty much had his pop musical career ruined when he married his 13-year-old second cousin.  What's often forgotten is that he went on to have a successful second career as a country artist.  Now, was that because the largely white, conservative Southern audience for country music just happened to be more sexually liberated than the then burgeoning rock audience, or just that they were a little closer to what was in fact a more traditional but unwritten rule of marriage?  Even King Elvis gave his blessing.  That should make you wonder just how much of a problem marrying one's cousin would've been for the moral majority. 

Lest you believe marriage between cousins only acceptable to low-bred Podunks, big city author  Edgar Allan Poe married his first cousin, Virginia, when she turned 13, after having lived with her and his brother when she was only 7.  Some other famous intellectuals who married close in the blood line are: Johannes Sebastian Bach (to his second cousin), Charles Darwin (to his first), President Franklin D. Roosevelt (to his fifth -- less gross, granted), and Albert Einstein (to his first).  Even more troubling to the contemporary rejection of anything resembling incest, with its connotations of of all those arthritic purebred dogs and the deformed results of Elizabeth Nietzsche's Paraguayan colony of a pure Aryan blood line, is that Einstein's parents were themselves cousins.  As legal analyst Joanna L. Grossman notes, the U.S. tends to base its marital laws on these connotations, with nearly half of the states not allowing first cousin marriage at all, and another 7 only in very limited circumstances.  However, personal ickiness aside, science supports marriage's unwritten tradition:

According to the recent report, children of unrelated parents have a 3 percent to 4 percent chance of being born with a serious birth defect. Children of first cousins have only a slighter higher risk--roughly a 4 percent to 7 percent chance.

So, if science doesn't give us much support for incest taboo across the board (i.e., outside of the familial bonds within the nuclear unit), why do we still find it so repellent?  Consider the following:

Julie and Mark are brother and sister. They are traveling together in France on summer vacation from college. One night they are staying alone in a cabin near the beach.  They decide that it would be interesting and fun if they tried making love. At very least it would be a new experience for each of them. Julie was already taking birth control pills, but Mark uses a condom too, just to be safe. They both enjoy making love, but they decide not to do it again. They keep that night as a special secret, which makes them feel even closer to each other. What do you think about that, was it OK for them to make love? -- A thought experiment devised by Jonathan Heidt

As cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker explains, Heidt's experiment is designed to confound all the typical supposedly rational reasons people give for dismissing the problem of incest, and believing it taboo:

Most people immediately declare that these acts are wrong and then grope to justify why they are wrong. It’s not so easy. In the case of Julie and Mark, people raise the possibility of children with birth defects, but they are reminded that the couple were diligent about contraception. They suggest that the siblings will be emotionally hurt, but the story makes it clear that they weren’t. They submit that the act would offend the community, but then recall that it was kept a secret. Eventually many people admit, “I don’t know, I can’t explain it, I just know it’s wrong.” -- Steven Pinker

So, what about the non-rational reasons?

According to Freud, sex is sex and it feels just as good, irrespective of what social prohibitions might be set up to keep the boy's desiring object from its object of desire.  That is, close familial sex doesn't feel any different from any other, provided our authoritarian super-ego doesn't get in the way.  But socio-cultural bonds being important for human development, there are inhibitions that need to get in the way of a boy desiring his mom via the threat of symbolic castration during the Oedipus complex:

No doubt the simplest course for the child would be to choose as his sexual objects the same persons whom, since his childhood, he has loved with what may be described as damped-down libido.  But, by the postponing of sexual maturation, time has been gained in which the child can erect, among other restraints on sexuality, the barrier against incest, and can thus take up into himself the moral precepts which expressly exclude from his object-choice, as being blood-relations, the persons whom he has loved in his childhood.  Respect for this barrier is essentially a cultural demand made by society.  Society must defend itself against the danger that the interests which it needs for the establishment of higher social units may be swallowed up by the family; and for this reason, in the case of every individual, but in particular of adolescent boys, it seeks by all possible means to loosen their connection with their family -- a connection which, in their childhood, is the only important one. -- Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

Although he de-emphasized the importance incest would have to the individual's psychological development, the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss was similar to Freud's emphasis on the functional reasons outside of genetic deformities for incest being taboo.  Keeping love within the family would de-stabilize social institutions larger than the nuclear families by closing them off from one another, making the nuclear unit the only social unit that mattered:

[T]he biological family could not constitute a type of basic social unit, for it implied a tendency which would dissolve social bonds. It was self-contained and could reproduce itself without interaction with other social groups or families, despite the biological hazards of inbreeding. This was the inherent limitation of the nuclear family when viewed from an anthropological perspective; when economic or cultural interaction did take place, the biological family would serve as a counter-social and isolating element. Rather, "the rules of kinship are.., the social state." Even the prohibition against incest served a positive function. If biological family members were forbidden to marry certain relatives, reproduction could only take place through interaction with other families as "the positive aspect of the prohibition is to initiate organization" since it "merely affirms, in a field vital to the group's survival, the preeminence of the social over the natural, the collective over the individual, organization over the arbitrary.''  The flip-side of incest was the practice of exogamy, for "like exogamy, the prohibition of incest is a rule of reciprocity."  Biology needed to be transcended if a more permanent and expansive basis was to be created for society. Levi-Strauss merely emphasized the structure and function of the social group, the interaction between groups, the exchange of material and symbolic goods, and the various marriage practices. He viewed kinship from the overriding principle of social interaction and the interrelated perspectives of biology, economics, and culture. -- Gary Roth, quoting from and explaining Levi-Strauss' Elementary Structures of Kinship

Citing a 1991 study of chimpanzees by Frans de Waal, Jonathan Haidt follows a Darwinian line of reasoning about the incest taboo, namely that it's built on deep-seated biological inhibitions which make it feel icky, even though we don't know explicitly why.  While all species follow certain descriptive rules of behavior, primates actually turn those descriptive rules into prescriptive ones by threat of force.  Thus, de Waal found that an adult chimp might interact with a baby chimp in an inappropriate way (e.g., like an incestuous adult human), but other chimps will go Bronson on him for doing so.  That's morality by way of evolution.  Haidt refers to this moral view as social intuitionism, with the intuition ultimately coming from biology:

The social part of the social intuitionist model proposes that moral judgment should be studied as an interpersonal process. Moral reasoning is usually an ex-post facto process used to influence the intuitions (and hence judgments) of other people. In the social intuitionist model one feels a quick flash of revulsion at the thought of incest and one knows intuitively that something is wrong. Then, when faced with a social demand for a verbal justification, one becomes a lawyer trying to build a case, rather than a judge searching for the truth. One puts forth argument after argument, never wavering in the
conviction that Julie and Mark were wrong, even after one’s last argument has been shot down. In the social intuitionist model it becomes plausible to say “I don’t know, I can’t explain it, I just know it’s wrong.”
-- Jonathan Haidt, The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment

I suspect there's probably a good deal of truth to all of these explanations.  Levi-Strauss's model even gives a good reason for objecting to Woody Allen marrying the daughter of his girlfriend (which made her the stepmother of his adopted children, her "former" siblings): she was too close within his kinship unit.  Haidt's model suggests why, despite the aforementioned scientific evidence to the contrary, our society overall isn't going to line up with the progressive hillbillies regarding kissin' cousins -- city slickers just ain't as rational as good ol' country folk.  And I like Freud's theory because he always leaves room for the role of fantasy:

It is in the world of ideas, however, that the choice of an object is accomplished at first; and the sexual life of maturing youth is almost entirely restricted to indulging in phantasies, that is, in ideas that are not destined to be carried into effect.  In these phantasies the infantile tendencies invariably emerge once more, but this time with intensified pressure from somatic sources.  Among these tendencies the first place is taken with uniform frequency by the child's sexual impulses towards his parents, which are as a rule already differentiated owing to the attraction of the opposite sex -- the son being drawn towards his mother and the daughter towards her father. -- Sigmund Freud, ibid.

Now, Rudy Giuliani probably isn't going to be the fantasy of most little girls anywhere, regardless of how far from his family tree they fall.  Nor is Poe, unless you're one of those repressed goth girls with cutting issues.  Nor is Jerry Lee, Einstein, or Bach.  However, Angelina Jolie probably occupies enough little boy fantasies that she has her own town in Meinongian real estate.  Thus, as a pure wish-fulfilling fantasy, the ickiness of incest tended to roll off her angelic visage like water off a duck's back when she sucked face with her lookalike brother, James Haven:

"I wish I were her brother," many men were heard to say, and that was that: a dark fantasy given flesh.  Well, what about the fantasy of making movies or art?  Actors are merely pretending, so whatever they do within the context of art doesn't count in the real world.  It's all in the service of Art -- it's only acting, right?  But how far does this seeming exception go? Consider the example of new Grey's Anatomy star, Chyler Leigh, making out with her brother in the movie Kickboxing Academy (go to the 2'50" mark for the romance in question):


Or what about Penelope Cruz, who probably owns the next town over to Angelina's in La-La Land?  Evidently, so dedicated is she to the artistic ideal that she willingly appeared in her brother's music video licking his neck when she wasn't sucking on a lolly-pop or french-kissing her lookalike sister.  I wonder if dedication to not just good art, but the shittiest, most derivative kind is the true sign of a committed actor.  Regardless, I graciously found a video which not only cuts right to the chase, but replaces the music with commentary:

As the stereotype goes, sex between two twins is a common fantasy of red-blooded males.  But, even if true, I suspect that fantasy stops somewhere short of these two:

I mean, they're not actresses.  Thus, it would seem that the primate-intuited social taboo still holds, provided our libidinal impulses aren't being aimed at the fantasy realm of deific love-objects.  Ordinary looking siblings and cousins, regardless of how smart they might be, still get an "eww" (unless, of course, you're a fair-minded Southerner with really old-fashioned views on matrimony).

Finally, another actress dedicated to art in its purest form, that is, regardless of quality (perhaps even deserving a special award in this category), is Asia Argento.  While some controversy resulted from her appearing in her father Dario's giallo Trauma, they really pushed the totemic envelope with The Stendhal Syndrom, in which he films her getting her lip sliced open during a prolonged rape scene by a mysterious stranger (no nudity here, but don't watch if you don't like blood):

The acting defense really doesn't hold much water here if one considers a father filming his two underage naked children pretending to have sex.  Most people would probably consider that going too far, the materiality of production overriding the artistic ideal.  The children would still be really naked and really kissing each other for the father.  Nor would anyone give the father a pass if they knew he was only imagining such an event, without actually filming it.  But the more those kids begin to look like Angelina and her brother in their 20s, the more acceptable the fantasy would seem to be.  Thus, Freud was on to something regarding fantasies.  Whether they're about deities or sublimely beautiful actresses, they serve as an originary, primitive defining moment for the social laws that develop in order to protect us from ourselves.  I'm guessing that the more beautiful the actress willing to make out with her equally beautiful sibling for the artistic ideal, and the less problem we all have with it, the more entrenched the incest taboo becomes.

[Thanks to commenter Steve for bringing the Pinker article to my attention, which along with the Cruz video kind of spurred this whole rumination.]

[postscript: Eric mentions this picture in his comment:

I'd say it speaks for itself.  As Tyler sings in "Crazy," "that kind of lovin' makes me want to pull down the shade."  Not wishing to burden your browser with any more than I already have, you can see the Director's Cut of the video here.  Go to 3'25" for the real fun to begin.  Thanks, Eric, for this necessary addition.]

out today 2/19...atlas dee...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 18, 2008 11:15pm | Post a Comment

Every once in a while a magical sort of album comes out. I guess what is magical to some people is not always magical to everyone else. I am also pretty sure not many people would even use the word magical when describing their new favorite album, but "magical" is exactly the word I feel that best describes the new album by Atlas Sound. It is a bit dreamy and ethereal and ambient. Just all around fantastic. The man behind this new Atlas Sound is Bradford Cox. He is the man behind the band Deerhunter as well. This new album Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel is out on the label Kranky, the same fantastic label that put out the Deerhunter album. I am not always in love with everything Kranky puts out, but every once in a while they put out a fantastic little album like this. I might just really like the label because I like seeing my name on albums and in liner notes. Kranky has put out albums by Labradford, which I have to admit that I bought one day at a record store simply because the band was named after me. The dude in Deerhunter also shares my first name, which is also what I think first intrigued me to pick up the Deerhunter album and give it a listen. These might be selfish reasons but at least they brought me to discover some great albums.

The Atlas Sound album opens up with a tape recording of a young boy telling a ghost story. It is a nice little introduction to this secretly beautiful album. I didn't really fall in love with it the first time that I listened to it. It was not until track 13 that I actually started paying attention. I then went back and started to really appreciate the entire album. I really like albums that take you on a journey. The album may not be full of big amazing powerful songs one after the other-- some of the songs take a while to build up into anything at all, and other songs just sort of fade into each other without any real transition. The album reminds me of Slowdive or Seefeel at times. It could easily fit in with some of the albums that came out of England in the early 90s. Some of the songs could easily lull you to sleep and put you in a nice little dreamland. But if the album is not working for you, just skip ahead to track 13. The song is called "Ativan." He could have easily opened up the album with this song, but it is kind of nice to have a little fantastic surprise saved up for you at the end of the album. Then you can really go back and appreciate the whole album more. The final song is also a great little ambient song to finish of the album for you. This album could easily slip through the year without very many people finding about it, but I think enough people will talk about it and share it with their friends. It could also easily charm its way into everyones music collection.

Atlas Sound will be performing near you soon. So check out their tour schedule. They are playing at theBottom of the Hill in San Francisco on March 8th, and I will be seeing them at the the Echo in LA on March 11th. I have not been to the Echo in about 5 years or so, but I still have fond memories of the place.  I went to my first shows now that I am back in Hollywood this last weekend: I saw Siouxsie on Friday night at the Henry Fonda Theater. Let me just say that I am very glad that I have already seen enough awesome shows of The Banshees and The Creatures before this. This was not one of the best. I will always love Siouxsie and she is still an awesome presence to see up on that stage. She looks great and still sounds great, but things are just not the same without Budgie. With all she has done for me in my life, and with all the hundreds of times I have listened to her albums, it is really hard for her to ever do wrong in my eyes. She has meant too much to me to just turn my back on her. I love her, really a lot. Not to say I did not enjoy myself. It is always fun to go to a Siouxsie show if nothing else but to look at the audience and fellow Siouxsie fans. And even though it was a very cold night for L.A., I did really enjoy the outside lounging areas at the Fonda.

 I did see an amazing sort of unexpected show on Sunday night at the Echo. Baby Dee performed and totally blew me away. The things that she does with her voice are sort of unbelievable. She is the kind of person that obviously has this crazy music living inside of her always, and performing for her fans is her way of releasing it before it explodes inside of her. At least that is what I kind of figured out  from the show. Her band was amazing, and I was sort of thinking the whole time how wonderful it would have been to see Siouxsie perform at a place the size of the Echo with a band as fantastic as the one that Baby Dee got together.

Baby Dee has been around for a while, performing with Current 93 for years and putting out a bunch of  albums, but I didn't really pay attention until her new album just came out on Drag City. Safe Inside the Day was produced by Matt Sweeney and Bonnie Prince Billy. I thought the album was interesting and weird, but it didn't really effect me until I saw it performed live. I am now for sure in the cult of Baby Dee. She has captured me now as one of her fans --there is no going back now. It really is the kind of album that you have to give a chance to. I have been listening to a lot of Antony & the Johnsons since I moved to L.A. for some reason, and this Baby Dee album definitely fits right along with Antony. The album sort of makes me feel like I am at some weird minstrel carnival comedy performance art sort of folk show-- normally a place that I would not really want to imagine myself at-- but I could not wait to go back to that place after the show. I was excited to go home and listen to the album again and let it work its way into my soul like the show had already done. I love me some Baby Dee. And so should you.

also out today...

  The Sky Is Mine by Alpha

The Golden Age by American Music Club

For Emma Forever Ago by Bon Iver

Grand Archives by Grand Archives

Monstre Cosmique by Monade

Heretic Pride by The Mountain Goats

Lust Lust Lust by The Raveonettes


Posted by Miss Ess, February 18, 2008 04:54pm | Post a Comment
I'm so relieved that the writer's strike is finally over!  We will still have to cope with mainly repeats for a few months on TV though, while they start up writing/filming again. 

We've all had our own ways of coping with the interruption of the season during the strike, and one of mine was to go online and watch Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick's (My So-Called Life, Thirtysomething) new show Quarterlife.   Has anyone out there besides me been watching this show?  Has anyone else out there even heard about it?

It's an online only show that's about a group of post collegiate 20-somethings.  It's a strange, kind of irking format-- 8 min or so segments are posted twice weekly for our streaming enjoyment.  Give me an hour, hell, even a half hour-- I need more of a story arc!  But you won't have to wade through it the way I did.  Apparently (thank you, writer's strike) the show is coming to NBC in about a week and I am guessing they will sew the bits together into a full hour. 

The 20-something group of friends live in a crappy apartment complex somewhere in Los Angeles.  There's a main character, Dylan, a too-pretty-to-be-an-outcast outcast.  She lives with her friends Debra and Lisa, both skinny-as-all-get- out but burdened with complex problems of course.  Note to casting agent: you can't make a model-esque actress more relatable simply by slapping some eyeglasses on her!  Oh well.  Anyway, Dylan has a video blog where she talks about her own inner thoughts and her friends' lives.  I have no idea why someone would do this and think her friends would not discover and watch the blogs....but I guess on this show it's used as a catalyst for drama. Also causing drama, in a nearby unit there are three 20-something guys, ladies man Danny and film nerds Andy and Jed.  Also, Debra's hippie style friend Eric moves in with the gals after a few episodes and starts filling the house with his aggro leftism.

The first 12 or so episodes were kinda laughable. The characters take a long time to gel and I found myself doubting, first of all, that these immaculate pretty people had the flaws and issues they are acting really hard to convince me of, but secondly, that they were even all friends.  The show was trying too hard at the beginning.  Maybe it still is.  Maybe I just got used to it and started to enjoy it in spite of that.  Whatever. The point is, it starts slow but eventually started to take off a bit, at least for me.   I'd imagine once the show premieres on TV in regular length segments it will come together much more quickly than in my experience.

Although it was created by the same guys who made My So-Called Life and has in it that thread of humanity they are masters at concocting, so far it's no MSCL, not even close, and not even if Brian Krakow (I mean, Devon Gummersall) wrote a couple of episodes.  All that said, it's interesting & it's growing on me with each episode as the characters become more fleshed out and their chemistry with one another becomes more apparent.  It has more heart than something youth oriented like the OC, more heart than a great deal of what is on TV nowadays actually, and for that alone I must applaud the show and hope that it continues to improve.

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Putting the "Balkan" in "Balkanization"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 18, 2008 02:26pm | Post a Comment

Kosovar musicians (left) and independence-celebrations... with American Flags- nice touch (right)

If you're like me, you love a new country. Yesterday, Kosovo took the plunge. Of course, Serbia is predictably bitching and moaning, but haven't they gotten used to rejection, what with being successively dumped by Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia? And didn't Serbia ignite the Great War when they were trying to assert their independence? And didn't Serbia only include Kosovo because it invaded it in 1912? Let it go, Serbia. You are too possessive. You smother your mates and now you're alone and forsaken.

Of course, from looking at new countries, choosing independence seems like a pretty tough row to hoe. Look at some of the Earth's newest countries.

East Timor, approaching ten years of independence, is still plagued with violence, corruption, lack of economic development or infrastructure.


Eritrea, independent for 15 years, enjoys an uneasy peace with its neighbors Ethiopia and Yemen.

But Montenegro, approaching its second year of independence, seems to be doing a lot better, with pollution from tourists being the biggest issue. Whether achieving independence goes roughly or smoothly, there's a long waiting list. Check out the UNPO sight. There are currently 192 universally recognized sovereign states. A country like Taiwan isn't included in the list. They, like South Ossetia, Somaliland, Nothern Cyprus, Palestine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Sahrawi, Transnistria, Kurdistan, Abkhazia, may, for the most part, run their own business, but are recognized by few for various reasons.

Red shows distribution of Russians (W. Hollywood not shown). These Yakuts' lands are Russian, they just don't know it.

Of course Vladimir Putin is upset. What kind of precedent does this set? A good one, I say. One that champions self-determination achieved through non-violent means. I mean, if you look at a map of Russia it's basically one big boundary drawn around a bunch of people for whom the government in Moskva holds little relevance. I remember when all the former Soviet republics bailed, a radio reporter asked a guy in Kazakhstan how life was different now that the Soviet Union was gone. He was all, "The whuh? Never heard of 'em." What gave Russia the right to call most of Asia "Russia" anyway? Sticking some intellectuals out in far-flung work camps in the taiga is hardly asserting your state's authority.  Furthermore, I doubt Putin would be whining about self-determination if the Russkies were still under the yoke of the ruthless Mongol horde or threatened by the church-burning Krauts. No, Aleksandr Nevsky-- please don't free us, it sets a terrible precedent.

Aleksandr Nevsky, spokesmodel for self-determination

Putin has asked when argued with about this sort of thing, "Well, how would you like it if Alaska declared independence?" Sounds cool to me. I'm down. The plains and Rockies could form their own country too. Then Bush wouldn't be my president. An independent Midwest would give them a chance to assert their ignored cultural singularity with Garrison Keillor delivering state of the union addresses that would begin with, "It was a quiet year in The Middle West..." John Cougar could write their national anthem to quiet chuckles from the sweater-clad congress. I'm afraid the South must remain in the Union, though, because they probably won't create all the good music and literature if they're not subjugated to the remaining U.S.A.

The Middle West's (hypothetical) President Keillor

And, as far as the Kosovar music scene goes, there's already the following music festivals:

Rock për Rock, Polifest, Showfest, Videofest, Kush Këndon Lutet Dy Herë and the North City Jazz & Blues Festival.

Continue reading...


Posted by Billyjam, February 18, 2008 02:03pm | Post a Comment
Thanks to Acco in Japan, Amoeblog presents the latest photo gallery of graffiti from Yokohama, Japan.  Back in September, Acco, a fan of both graffiti art and of Amoeba Music and the Amoeba website, took a series of photos of graffiti around Yokohama that were displayed here in three Amoeblogs. Since then she went out and took more photos for this (Part 4) and the next two Amoeblogs in this series: Graffiti Yokohama, Japan Parts 5 & 6 ,which will run over the next week.







Robot In The Family

Posted by phil blankenship, February 18, 2008 10:30am | Post a Comment

A-Pix Entertainment APX 21007

Timeless Classics

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 18, 2008 02:48am | Post a Comment

Uncle Bob

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 18, 2008 01:54am | Post a Comment
This was inspired by the yacht rock movies.

In the 70’s, I was in my single digit years. (Christopher Cross- Ride Like The Wind) Even though I was raised in a Mexican immigrant family, I still lived in 70’s-mellow Los Angeles. We were inundated with those laid back, playing on the beach, (George Benson-Breezin’) Mimosa drinking, macramé wearing, big sunglasses wearing, sitting on wicker furniture on our balcony with our Southern California vibe, thanks to the media. The media made some of us forget we were growing up in the ghettos of Los Angeles in dilapidated housing with no jobs or low-paying jobs. It made us forget the Vatos down the street were smoking Angel Dust.  It made us forget we never had time or the funds to get to the beach, even if it was only a few miles away.

Television was full of it. (Boz Skaggs - Lowdown) Three’s Company, The Love Boat, even the local T.V. news fluff piece shows like Eye On L.A. had us believing everyone lived on the beach and had a yacht. Even my heroes as a kid, the Los Angeles Dodgers, seemed to succumb to the laid-back images with their gold chains outside their uniforms, porn 'staches and long hair.

Radio was worse at perpetuating the myth. Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Steely Dan, (Green Earring) Boz Skaggs. Even former funksters like The Commodores and Earth Wind & Fire went soft. Everyone was in such a mellow haze that my impressionable siblings and I thought that’s how normal adults lived their life. If that was the case, what was wrong with our parents? They worked all the time, looked horribly unhip in their work clothes and they never went out on the town. (Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street) My father was always stained with paint from his job; my mother listened to big band music as she sewed us our clothes because we couldn’t afford to buy clothes from the store.

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Todos Tus Muertos

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 17, 2008 11:18pm | Post a Comment

In the forwarding of Ernesto Lechner’s 2006 book, Rock en Español: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion, Lechner explains how the rock groups coming out of Latin America in the 1990’s helped change his outlook on Latin Rock. Growing in Argentina, Ernesto had a bias against Latin American musicians hell-bent on imitating their Anglo counterparts. However, it was groups like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Café Tacvba and Gustavo Cerati that showed him that Latin Rock had more to offer the world of music than sheer imitation: these artists had something to say.

In the mid-nineties I had a similar revelation. My friend Juan Carlos educated me on the music of the groups that I no knowledge of growing up in the states. It was instant love for me when he played me Maldita Vecindad, Fabulosos Cadillacs and Mano Negra, all of whom sang about issues that related directly to my life: songs about not belonging, of immigration and the effects of colonialism that affects indigenous people to this day. One of my favorite groups of this era was Todos Tus Muertos.

For one, I grew up as a huge fan of The Bad Brains and there were many similarities between the two bands. Todos were a rock band at heart, with excellent musicianship that  meant they could play both heavy and fast. Then much like The Bad Brains, they could switch gears and play Reggae. Todos Tus Muertos (translation: All Your Dead) were energetic singers. Pablo and Fidel were both black. But that is where their likeness ends. Todos were Dancehall based compared to The Bad Brains’ Roots Reggae style. Also Todos would add elements of other Latin music like Cuban Son. Lyrically, Todos were leftist, influenced by both Latin American & Jamaican icons such as Che Guevara, Augusto Sandino, Emiliano Zapata, Marcus Garvey and Subcomandante Marcos.

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Posted by Charles Reece, February 17, 2008 01:54pm | Post a Comment

I'm sick as all hell, grumpy, and my mind ain't much good for nothing but thinking about the Oscars.  So here are my choices (at least, who I think will win in terms of my model Academy voter).  And, in case you're wondering, here's how the nominees are chosen and then voted for.  My selections are in red, with my reasoning in italics.

Performance by an actor in a leading role:

George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

There's no competition here: the juiciest part being played by the juiciest actor and in a film that's anti-capitalist and anti-fundamentalist.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:

Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Well, Holbrook's old, so the Academy might give it to him.  It ain't likely they'll get another chance.  But I'm going with prevailing opinion, Bardem.  He's playing a part that's eccentric enough to say "acting-with-a-capital-A" and Holbrook's never been big enough to make anyone think he's been screwed over by not getting an Oscar -- in other words, he's a "tv actor."  Affleck's still young and his character is so unlikable, yet plausible as a real guy, that it's probably not clear how much of it's acting.  Hoffman's already gotten enough attention.  Wilkinson devours all surroundings, but his character ain't as cool as Bardem's.

Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production)

Everyone seems to think it's going to be Christie.  She's old, or respected.  But I think the Academy will go with hipness, i.e., trendy commercial success.  Christie's already won an Oscar.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

This is a tough one: actress imitating someone versus actress who gained weight.  I'm thinking "I'm Not There" was a tad too weird to sustain many of the voters watching it long enough to care about it.  "Michael Clayton" was a classic mystery, so I'm going with "gained weight."

Best animated feature film of the year:
"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics): Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Brad Bird
"Surf's Up" (Sony Pictures Releasing): Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Pixar, Brad Bird = same-old-same-old.  Not that Persepolis is any better.

Achievement in art direction:

"American Gangster" (Universal): Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount): Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Landscapes, period piece, Anderson's film isn't getting much in the more celebrated categories.  Politics aside, Fisk and Erickson actually deserve this award.

Achievement in cinematography:
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.): Roger Deakins
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Seamus McGarvey
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Janusz Kaminski
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Roger Deakins
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Robert Elswit

Now, I think most will want to give it Deakins, who's been up for the award 5 times in the past (3 of them for a Coens' film), but his votes will probably get split between his 2 films here, since some will probably want to award the largely ignored Jesse James pic something.  All of the good will towards Anderson, along with his consolation votes for not winning the big ticket awards, will probably be in Elswit's favor.  He's come along way since "Trick or Treat."

Achievement in costume design:

"Across the Universe" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

Since they're all period pieces, the somber "Atonement" has to win something.

Achievement in directing:
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson

You know, it's "their year."

Best documentary feature:
"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Pictures) A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" (The Documentary Group) A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
"Sicko" (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company) A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (THINKFilm) An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
"War/Dance" (THINKFilm) A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

A safe vote against Bush and the Academy doesn't have to listen to another Moore acceptance speech!

Best documentary short subject:
"Freeheld" A Lieutenant Films Production: Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
"La Corona (The Crown)" A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production: Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
"Salim Baba" A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production: Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
"Sari's Mother" (Cinema Guild) A Daylight Factory Production: James Longley

"Freeheld" is about the unjust treatment of a lesbian couple.  "La Corona" is about a women's pageant in prison.  "Salim Baba" is about some old fellow using a hand-cranked projector to show films to poor kids.  "Sari's Mother" is about an Iraqi mother trying to get health care for her boy with AIDS.  Just do the math.

Achievement in film editing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Christopher Rouse
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment): Jay Cassidy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Dylan Tichenor

Both of the last films are going to win most of the other stuff, plus they use long takes.  Instead, B.U. cuts every few seconds.  'Cutting' is synonymous with 'editing.'  Obviously, the more cutting, the more editing.  Thus, the modern action spectacle is editing par excellence.

Best foreign language film of the year:
"Beaufort" Israel
"The Counterfeiters" Austria
"Katyn" Poland
"Mongol" Kazakhstan
"12" Russia"

Fuck, who knows?  "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
would've been a shoo-in.  The Counterfeiters is about Nazis.

Achievement in makeup:
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
"Norbit" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount): Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

The constant battle: monsters vs. period piece vs. men made to look like women.  That's pretty much the history of this award.  The overall list of nominees is darker in tone this year, which means "realism" will probably be favored, so the period piece wins out.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
"The Kite Runner" (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics): Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

Howard's been up more times than any of the others without winning, plus M.C.'s a pretty good score and the movie isn't winning anything else.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):
"Falling Slowly" from "Once" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and: Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" (Warner Bros.): Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
"So Close" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

It seems as if it were just yesterday that me and my girl were watching the OC together.  What went wrong?

Best motion picture of the year:
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production) A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Despite "Atonement" being a big lump of seriosity with British accents and "Juno" being the type of "independence" the commercially minded can get behind, I suspect that the Coens have now been around long enough that everyone wants to reward them, and best to do it when their film isn't a comedy.

Best animated short film:
"I Met the Walrus" A Kids & Explosions Production: Josh Raskin
"Madame Tutli-Putli" (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
"Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)" (Premium Films) A BUF Compagnie Production Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)" (Channel One Russia) A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production Alexander Petrov
"Peter & the Wolf" (BreakThru Films) A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

I recognize the title.

Best live action short film:
"At Night" A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production: Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)" (Sky Cinema Italia) A Frame by Frame Italia Production: Andrea Jublin
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" (Premium Films) A Karé Production: Philippe Pollet-Villard
"Tanghi Argentini" (Premium Films) An Another Dimension of an Idea Production: Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
"The Tonto Woman" A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production: Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Sounds earnest and cute.

Achievement in sound editing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Generally, this award goes to big, loud spectacles,  If sound mixing goes to B.U., then this one comes down to louder and loudest, "Ratatouille" or "Transformers."  I think the Academy members probably liked the former film more than the latter, so that's my choice.

Achievement in sound mixing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal) Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate): Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Everyone's talking through some cellular device (cell phone = need to mix sound), the budget was big and the action even bigger.

Achievement in visual effects:
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Since the subtler effects of a decrepit New York in "I Am Legend" seems to have not mattered much here, I'm going with the opposite choice.

Adapted screenplay:

"Atonement" (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

I think many will want to give Anderson something, but I'm betting that the Academy will look at N.C.F.O.M. as a more well-rounded story.  And, in this case, they'd be right.

Original screenplay:
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Written by Diablo Cody
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins

'Original' is a synonym for 'quirky.'


Posted by Billyjam, February 17, 2008 10:56am | Post a Comment

Pure Hate
Berlin 2004 is a great film of graffiti from Berlin, Germany. The DVD, which came out four years ago and is hard to find (not sure if Amoeba has it in stock but you should ask to be sure) has some really well-produced footage (lots of killer post production work) with a perfect soundtrack to match the imagery as you can see from the video excerpt above. 

I find the clip above to be so intense because of the ninja-like team work of the dozen or more all-masked graf artists descending in the dead of the night on the abandoned Berlin train platform to carry out their obviously pre-planned, choreographed art crime.  And the new Pure Hate Berlin 2008 looks like it will be even tighter in terms of production, visuals, and content. See another movie excerpt clip below.

Night Eyes

Posted by phil blankenship, February 16, 2008 11:00pm | Post a Comment

Prism Entertainment 51007

Label Design Gallery-Animals

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 16, 2008 01:00pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, February 16, 2008 12:32pm | Post a Comment

A couple of days ago someone sent me a link to the video clip above, shot in Baltimore, of a cop clearly abusing his power and harassing a 14 year old boy who had been skating in a park with his buddies.  Apparently the kid, when first beckoned by the cop, didn't respond fast or respectfully enough, and that just ruffled the cop's feathers (especially at been called "dude").  He proceeded to curse out the kid, critique his upbringing, slap him, take his skateboard, and make what seem like threats on his life, saying how he could get "killed" if he continued behaving in this (as the cop says it) "disrespectful fashion."

Anyway, this particular YouTube clip in turn linked me to a never-ending thread of other "skaters versus cops" or "skater vs. rent-a-cop" themed videos, all of which had footage that pretty much repeated the same storyline of kids (usually teenaged boys) skating in places like vacant parking lots or streets/steps where "no skating" is allowed.  And in nearly every case the tension level rose between the two sides: kids who just want to have fun and skate wherever they can (which means anywhere since few US towns & cities have adequate space assigned for skate parks) and cops or security guards telling them "you cannot skate here."

Of course in the battle between 14 year old skaters and cops with all that power (and often a low tolerance for what they perceive as back-chatter), guess who wins? Not the kids. Never the kids. In fact it seems there is a ongoing trend in Western society to first off provide few or no skate parks and other recreation areas & centers for teens to use, and then secondly when these same kids are out on the street or at the mall or other public place just trying to occupy themselves, authorities accuse them of loitering and then harass them into moving on. And if they don't move, they are arrested in order to get them in the system.

Continue reading...

Sgt. Clarin... Bala Para sa Ulo Mo

Posted by phil blankenship, February 15, 2008 11:42pm | Post a Comment

Regal International Inc.

February 14, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, February 15, 2008 12:37am | Post a Comment

men's bathroom at Grauman's Chinese Theater:                                                                      

49 square inches and an invitation to party like it's 1958

Posted by Whitmore, February 14, 2008 08:45pm | Post a Comment

This is one of the dullest 45 picture sleeves I’ve ever seen! It’s actually a recorded invitation to come on down and experience the “modern expanded facilities” of Columbia Records Distribution. How exciting … it’s a party, the party to end all parties on February 3rd 1958 … with booze, hats and noise makers to boot … I presume today this building has either become overpriced artist’s lofts, or more likely, a parking lot. Anyway, here are some of the other big news events that took place in the ‘I like Ike’, cold war, atomic age, sci-fi world of February 1958:

Feb 1st - The #1 album in the UK for the next seven weeks is the Original Soundtrack to the Pal Joey, starring Frank Sinatra.
Feb 1st - Egypt & Syria unite to form the United Arab Republic.
Feb 1st - The #1 single in the U.K is Elvis Presley’s "Jailhouse Rock."
Feb 2nd - The word Aerospace is coined, from Aircraft (aero) and Spacecraft (space).
Feb 3rd -  “Get a Job,” the Silhouettes' only hit, is #1 on the Billboard R&B charts for the next six weeks. “At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors is #1 on the Billboard Pop charts.
Feb 5th - A hydrogen bomb known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the US Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, never to be recovered. Actually, there are at least ten other American nuclear warheads thought to have been lost and un-recovered over the years, but more about that another day.
Feb 5th - Gamel Abdel Nasser is nominated as 1st president of the United Arab Republic.
Feb 6th - Munich air disaster kills 21, including 7 players for the Manchester United soccer team.
Feb10th - The #1 album in the U.S. is “Come Fly with Me” by Frank Sinatra.
Feb 11th - Marshal Chen Yi succeeds Zhou Enlai as Chinese Minister of Foreign affairs.
Feb 11th - Ruth Carol Taylor is first African American woman hired as a flight attendant.
Feb 13th - Georges Rouault, French painter dies at the age of 87.
Feb 14th - The Iranian government bans rock & roll, saying that the music is against the concepts of Islam, and is also a health hazard. Iranian doctors warn of the risk of injury to the hips from the "extreme gyrations" of rock & roll dancing.
Feb 14th - The #1 single in the U.K is Michael Holliday’s "The Story of My Life".
Feb 14th - The Hashemite Kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan unite in the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan with the Iraqi King Faisal II as head of state.
Feb 16th - Tracy Lauren Marrow, better known as Ice-T is born in Newark, New Jersey.
Feb 17th - Pope Pius XII declares Saint Clare the patron saint of television. Of course all you good Catholics already knew that!
Feb 20th - Test rocket explodes in Cape Canaveral.
Feb 21st - The Peace symbol design is completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Feb 23rd - Cuban rebels kidnap 5-time world driving champ Juan Fangio; he's released 28 hrs later.
Feb 23rd - David Sylvian, leader of the band Japan is born as David Alan Batt.
Feb 23rd - Arturo Frondizi wins the presidential elections in Argentina.
Feb 24th - Chuck Berry’s biggest hit, “Sweet Little Sixteen,” is released.
Feb 24th - The Music Man debuts on the Billboard charts. It will hold the #1 spot for twelve weeks and remain on the Billboard charts for 245 weeks.
Feb 25th - Bertrand Russell launches the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Feb 28th - One of the worst school bus accidents in the US history kills 27 at Prestonsburg, Kentucky.
Feb 28th - For the next eight weeks Perry Como’s "Magic Moments" will be #1, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, in February 1958 George Harrison, age 15, joins the Quarry Men.


Posted by Billyjam, February 14, 2008 02:40pm | Post a Comment

Happy Valentine's Day!

And remember every day should be an occasion to buy flowers or chocolates or music (at Amoeba of course) or to make dinner reservations, or whatever-however you demonstrate your love for that special person in your life.  

Of course if you have no significant other in your life at this time, today of all days can be a constant reminder (and not necessarily a bad one) that you are indeed alone with no one to call your own.

And if that last bit sounds like the lyrics to some song you've heard, it probably is. In fact it's probably the lyrics to countless songs as there are as many songs out there of love gone sour or unrequited as there are happy songs about being in love.

Personally I often find the sad, anti-love songs more profound since I am of the belief that some of the best art is created under times of heartbreak, upset and anger. Or when, as in the case of Joe Jackson's "Happy Loving Couples," there is no love past or present.  Of course there are some artists whose anti-love songs are thinly masked as love songs; think R.E.M.'s The One I Love. Then there are some artists  who seem to base much of their lyrical content on themes of alienation, unrequited love, and love lost-- think Patsy Cline and Everything But The Girl.

Of course Elvis Costello has quite a chunk of anti-love ditties while some genres (think country) appear to have more than their fair share of sad songs about love and relationships.  Then there's a whole strain of anti-love songs that are laced with irony and/or humor which are most effective. Morrissey and The Smiths, Jilted John, and Loudon Wainwright III would be included in this group.

Continue reading...

2 Days in Paris - Suitably Quirky

Posted by Miss Ess, February 14, 2008 02:18pm | Post a Comment
Julie Delpy has written, directed, and starred in a suitably quirky, very French film-- 2 Days In Paris.

I had loved two films Delpy previously starred in-- both Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, directed by Richard Linklater-- so I had wanted to check out this film that Delpy herself created ever since I heard about it last year.   Now 2 Days In Paris is finally out on DVD. It's style is somewhat similar to those earlier films:  loose, casual, conversational.

2 Days in Paris is about a French woman, Marion, who lives in New York with her American boyfriend, Jack (Adam Goldberg).  They have just been on a trip to Venice which was less romantic than perhaps they had hoped.  They have to stop over in Paris on their way back to New York to see Delpy's family.  It's a simple plot, which leaves ample space for character development, something I happen to enjoy in films.

The film contains a pretty realistic vision of a relationship -- it shows a neurotic, cloudy person (Jack) in love with a floaty, free person (Marion).  It's a total case of opposites attracting. The couple's clashes inevitably made me cringe and laugh as I saw flashes of my own relationship onscreen.

One of the only semi -aggravating aspects of this movie was that Delpy really hits the viewer over the head with the fact that her character and her boyfriend are left leaning "non-American" Americans. (Well, Delpy's character is French but lives in America.)  She tries a little too hard to make this point and it comes off as over wrought, whereas the rest of the film coasts along easily.  Yes, we know the French despise America, and yes we get that since Marion and Jack live in NYC and seem to be well off and well educated that they must be "different" than your standard so called Americans. 

The scenes with Marion's family were some of the most enjoyable and natural in the film.  Delpy really captured family well, with all of its boisterous, gossipy, bawdy humor.  The fact that Marion's parents are played by Delpy's real life parents probably helped with the loose, infectious energy of these scenes.  They are lovingly cringe-worthy, just like a visit with my own family!

There's lots to adore about this movie.  It's charming and somewhat thought provoking.  Just like the French.

Here is the trailer, which manages to make the film seem more irritating than it actually is:

Happy Valentine's Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 14, 2008 12:51pm | Post a Comment


It's Valentines Day. Pshaw! A Hallmark Holiday, you say. Singles Awareness Day, another jokes. I guess every holiday has its Scrooge. I have my Ngoc-Thu. My friend Nick Pinto would gripe about Valentine's, Christmas or (especially) 4/20. He doesn't need holidays to legislate his behavior. And yet his love of Halloween never once carried into the rest of the year. Why not don a Boba Fett costume and go door-to-door stating "Trick or Treat!" in March, you rebels? Despite what cynics claim about the supposed commercial origins of Valentine's Day, the oldest known association of St. Valentine's Feast Day with romantic love occurs in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules which was published back in 1382. In it he wrote,

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chesehis make.

It was written to commemorate the engagement of the 13-year-old Richard II to 14-year-old (cougar) Anne of Bohemia. The "volantynys" or "valentine" is variously assumed to be either Valentine (Valentinus) of Rome or Valentine of Terni, who may've been the same person or, more likely, never existed. Valentines, from at least that point on, have held special significance for lovers. By the 1850s, Esther Howland was mass-producing and selling Valentines after taking her inspiration from an English Valentine. Hallmark, the Missouri-based mass producer of greeting cards, began producing Valentines 532 years after Chaucer's remark, making accusations that they're behind the holiday somewhat less than likely.


I suspect that the roots of the holiday go back further, since nothing of St. Valentine's legend makes any mention of love, chocolate or sexy underwear. I can't find any support for this on the internet but I recall Hillbillies marked the day peculiarly. I think Valentine's Day was the day that birds supposedly chose mates and Hillbilly farmers would rise out of bed and wordlessly (lest they decrease the fertility) sow seeds with nothing on but a gourd tied around their waist, placed in front of their crotches.

Before you laugh, non-Hillbillies engage in their own rituals, some with less obvious purpose:

Flowers. For example, nothing says "My old lady will henpeck me if I don't do this" like the passionless chore of buying a dozen red roses. At Valentine's Day, due to the demands of masses who care enough to send the very least, you can be assured that you'll pay top dollar for the worst roses South America has to offer. Lame variations I saw in my days as a delivery guy: 13 red roses (i.e. the extra mile), two dozen roses (you've got money to waste, twice the ego and zero imagination) and a dozen roses of mixed color (how wacky). Any version of rose-giving ensures that this Valentine's Day will be indistinguishable from every other, and you from every other lame ex. You could get a trumpet vase full of tulips that look much nicer for much less cash. And they don't have to be red. Or you could get something erotic and suggestive like an arrangement with antheriums. 

Continue reading...

Quad pt. 2

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 13, 2008 09:35pm | Post a Comment

February 13, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, February 13, 2008 05:30pm | Post a Comment


i was the only person in the theater.

*spoiler*            the nottie is actually the hottie.

good grief.


Posted by Billyjam, February 13, 2008 02:41pm | Post a Comment

In this second part in today's Reworking Previous Proven Marketing Images, I draw your attention to the promotional poster for the new movie by the tallest member of Hollywood's so-called frat pack, actor Vince Vaughn, the just-released in theaters Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show.

To my eye this poster, in terms of  the angle of how its main star is photographed from and how he is  posing for this promo shot, is pretty reminiscent of the poster for his breakout movie, 1996's Swingers (written by co-star Jon Favreau and directed by Doug Liman). Yes? No? I think so and say that they did it to subliminally trigger our memory of its star.

Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, which is a look at a group of comedians on tour (onstage and backstage) is currently playing in theaters while Swingers is on DVD and for sale at Amoeba Music (just ask if you can't find it). Check a clip of the classic 1996 film below:


Posted by Billyjam, February 13, 2008 07:25am | Post a Comment


Tell me I am not imagining things or reading too deep into a magazine cover when I see the new Rolling Stone cover image of Britney Spears (Inside An American Tragedy) as a not-so-subliminal revisit to one of the magazine's most famous covers from fourteen years ago: the June 2nd 1994 Rolling Stone cover of Kurt Cobain that appeared in the wake of his tragic death. I think its a pretty obvious (and well done in my opinion) reworking of that earlier cover.

But if so, what does it all mean? Nothing, just a way to sell more magazines? (By the way, the Britney story is quite a good read.) Or is it a way of comparing the self-destructive lifestyles of two American pop idols from two different musical backgrounds & eras, and basically predicting that the latest "American tragedy" will end up like the Nirvana frontman, six feet under?

Thoughts? Theories? Anyone? If so, COMMENTS box is below. Thanks!

Innocents From Hell

Posted by phil blankenship, February 12, 2008 05:56pm | Post a Comment

Premiere Entertainment International.


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.

Continue reading...

(In which Job goes to the theatre.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 12, 2008 11:28am | Post a Comment

A few days ago I got to see Joan Rivers’ new show “A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress,” playing at the Geffen Playhouse until early March.

I’ll be honest, I went with the promise of meeting her after the show and I really wanted to see that face up-close.

I walked into the lobby and noticed that everyone there fell in two categories: grey-haired, elderly people who slowly moved in pairs of two, and young, muscled men in tight shirts who traveled in cliques, glimmering with hair product. Since I fit in neither group, I was a little suspect, and kept a watchful eye.

Things were downright Fellini-esque in the lobby. Amidst the geriatrics and the pretty boys was a mini red carpet on which two heavily made up “TV personalities” enthusiastically gushed to a single video camera. Now, living in Hollywood, I’m accustomed to red carpet springing up in places and thwarting me from a normal walk to get groceries, but these two – though in the middle of everything – seemed mostly oblivious to what was happening in the lobby. In their reality, they were covering the Golden Globes. I almost wanted to approach them and make sure they weren’t lost.

“Are you looking for your awards ceremony, little girl?”

I opted instead to knock back a double scotch and find my seat.

Once inside the theatre, things became clear. Projected on a screen over the stage, there were the two TV Personalities, now (thanks to the magic of blue screen technology) with a backdrop of outdoor, daytime, pre-awards show pageantry.

I watched them. The volume was low and there was buzz from the audience, so I couldn’t ever hear what they were actually saying, yet they managed to keep a constant, effervescent dialogue going between them. Considering the reality: they were just two people in the lobby of the Geffen Playhouse, surrounded by old folks and WeHo’s – this feat was equal parts impressive and unnerving. Ultimately though, I thought it was illuminating, and a smart insight into the “production” that goes into red-carpet production. It’s these announcer’s jobs, after all, to suspend their natural reactions and interpretations of events and instead, develop the spectacle an event must be in order to satisfy the public and the sponsors.

That scotch knocked me on my ass.

The show itself was fantastic. Well, Miss Rivers was fantastic. Her supporting cast, much like the TV Personalities in the lobby, seemed to be in a different show – something more akin to community theatre. Even so, the bulk of the show is Rivers, and she frequently broke from the action on stage to address the audience directly.

Her monologues were hilarious – a personal favorite was her story about being in a low-budget play in NYC with a not-yet-famous Barbra Streisand, in which they played lesbians (“Terrible kisser!” Joan confided) – but also included were very personal stories – everything from Johnny Carson black-balling her to her husband’s suicide.

She was alternately uppity, foul-mouthed, lovable and wise. I went in curious and left a fan. Anyone looking for a fun evening should check her show out. Especially if you wanna hear some real mean things about the Olsen twins.

I did get to see her after the show, as promised, but I was too chicken to go up and say something to her. I guess two shots of scotch wasn’t enough.

There’s no YouTube clips of the show (yet), so here’s something else that warmed my heart...

The New Lincoln Penny

Posted by Whitmore, February 12, 2008 09:37am | Post a Comment
In 2009 the cent, (most people refer to the one cent coin as a penny, but the U.S. Mint's official name is ‘cent’), will get a one-year, four-coin commemorative program marking the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and the 100th anniversary of the first minting of the Lincoln penny. The redesign was passed as part of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, which also authorizes the production of collectible, numismatic versions of the cent coins containing the same copper content as the original pennies minted in 1909. The standard circulation penny issued will have a copper-plated zinc composition. The redesign of the reverse side, the former Lincoln Memorial 'tails' side, in 2009 will show four difference scenes from Abraham Lincoln's life: his birth and childhood in Kentucky, his formative years in Indiana, his professional life in Illinois, and finally his Presidency. Though not confirmed by the US Mint, there are likely to be at least 12 different versions of the 2009 Lincoln Cent: a circulation version of each of the four designs but with a "P" mint mark, a circulation version of all four designs but with the "D" mint mark, and of course the collector's version, likely proof sets, of all four designs. In 2010, the cent will be completely redesigned again, with a new permanent design being released into circulation, but still with Lincoln’s image. So start hording those old Lincoln Memorial cents, before you know it, they’ll be worth a fortune ... thousands of pennies will be worth tens of dollars!!!

out today 2/12...morrissey...michael jackson...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 11, 2008 10:38pm | Post a Comment
My love for Morrissey is as strong as ever. Morrissey fans are a very interesting and devoted bunch. Our devotion to Morrissey is strong and never ending. Ask any Morrissey fan and they will try and explain it. But it really is hard to understand unless you are yourself a devoted Morrissey fan. From the first moment I heard him for the first time I was a huge fan. One of my friends in high school made me a tape of Morrissey's first album. From that moment on I fell in love with the man and his music. Some of us may have lost a little interest in his music over the last decade. But we never lost interest in Morrissey. The love and excitement surrounding just the mention of his name was as strong as ever. However, the insterest in his albums was not the same. But Morrissey put out an amazing album a couple of years ago. "You Are the Quarry" came out in 2004. I think he probably surprised some people with this album. He had finally made an album as exciting as those early albums. I think that a lot of fans still loved him because of their memories of his early solo albums and those of The Smiths. Those albums created a lasting bond between album and fan. They sort of became our best friend and were always there for us. Morrissey was great to listen to by yourself in your room. But also to sing along to with your best friend driving around in your car. It was exciting to also have a new album to be excited about. The first single was "Irish Blood, English Heart." I think I listened to it just as much as "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and "Sing Your Life" from the first two albums. Instead of buying every British magazine with articles about Morrissey, I was searching the fansites and blogs and reading interviews online. Instead of staying up late to try and catch videos on MTV, I was watching his videos on YouTube. I was a bit older and the media had changed a bit. But Morrissey was in my life just as he was in 1988.

A couple of years later, Morrissey put out another great album. "Ringleader of the Tormentors" came out in 2006. We may not get an entire new album until the end of 2008. But a greatest hits album hits the shelves as an import today. The album is mostly a compilation of the last two albums with a couple older Morrissey songs and two new unreleased songs. Two new songs makes it worth it for us Morrissey fans. We like to own anything he puts out. I love having that exciting feeling you get when you think about one of your favorite artists. It is what music is all about. I seriously can't even wait to hold this new album in my hand. I will be dreaming about it all night. Here is the entire track listing...

1. First of the Gang to Die (You are the Quarry)
2. In the Future When All's Well (Ringleader of the Tormentors)
3. I Just Want to See the Boy Happy (Ringleader)
4. Irish Blood, English Heart (You are...)
5. You Have Killed Me (Ringleader)
6. That's How People Grow Up (new song)
7. Everyday Is Like Sunday (Viva Hate)
8. Redondo Beach (Live at Earls Court)
9. Suedehead (Viva Hate)
10. The Youngest Was the Most Loved (Ringleader)
11. The Last of the Famous International Playboys (Bona Drag)
12. The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get (Vauxhall & I)
13. All You Need Is Me (new song)
14. Let Me Kiss You (You are...)
15. I Have Forgiven Jesus (You are...)

I also have to make a quick mention about Roy Scheider. I am probably just as obsessed with Jaws as I am with Morrissey. Again, I can't really explain it. It is just something that I don't really question. He passed away yesterday. I was a big fan of his mostly because of my love of Jaws. The movie came out the year after I was born and I have been obsessed with that movie since I can remember watching movies. I will drop everything whenever it comes on TV. I just can't get enough of that movie. It freaks me out and intrigues me and is just a perfectly made film. And it has a perfect performance from the great Roy Scheider. Actors are often attached to and remembered for one role. I will never forget him and will continue to enjoy watching Jaws over and over again.

Michael Jackson's amazing album "Thriller" gets reissued today. It is a deluxe version available with two different covers. It is also out on vinyl. 

also out today...

"Thriller" Deluxe Edition by Michael Jackson

"Do You Like Rock Music" By British Sea Power

Great White Death

Posted by phil blankenship, February 11, 2008 06:04pm | Post a Comment

Video Gems

Amoeba Celebrates Mardi Gras!

Posted by Amoebite, February 11, 2008 04:50pm | Post a Comment

Mardi Gras Time Down at the Big Amoeba!
Amoeba Hollywood

Yes it’s the olde tyme holiday of Mardi Gras once again, a pagan carnivale of fun & frolic where you get all the good times out of your system before you gotta fast for Lent. They celebrate it all over the world but mostly in New Orleans, with their famous parades and parties, and every year Amoeba declares our kinship with that great city by celebrating it here in the store! This year Shrove Tuesday fell early in February, but despite the chilly weather we did it up right, with decorations, floats, masks, horns, beads, and the biggest, craziest parade this side of the Mississippi!

The decorations started creeping out a week before… soon everywhere you looked there was purple, gold and green streamers and the anticipation was getting hot! Many of our customers did ask, “is there some kind of holiday?” We tried to explain. But really there’s no way to explain… you just gotta be there.

The night before we had a little pre-party with our Vampire Weekend in-store… we had a mega-capacity crowd for this much-hyped young Brooklyn band, and everyone had a blast. Meanwhile the krewe was out in the loading dock working on the floats for the big parade…

Tuesday morning we broke out the beads and the costumes, and put some Mardi Gras mambo on the stereo. The parade was hours away but the mood was good. It was Super Tuesday in more ways than one… Democrats had much to celebrate and ample reason to vote in the morning’s California primary for either the first woman president or the first African-American president in our history, which was reason to celebrate in itself!

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Posted by Billyjam, February 11, 2008 11:17am | Post a Comment

In direct humorous response to the Will I Am orchestrated Barack Obama New Hampshire speech inspired, celebrity heavy, music video titled "Yes We Can" that surfaced recently, a funny spoof music video response featuring John McCain titled "john. he. is" got posted earlier today on YouTube by Election08. Check it out above. And if, by chance, you never saw the original, by the Black Eyed Peas member that inspired it -- check it out  below.

¿Me Estás Oyendo, Inútil?

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 11, 2008 03:39am | Post a Comment
Dear Paquita La Del Barrio,

So last night you lost out on a Grammy to Pepe Aguilar. He is a son of privilege. Daddy is Antonio Aguilar and mom is Flor Silvestre. He was born in the states. You born in Vera Cruz. Your first husband cheated on you and all your songs reflect that pain of what good-for-nothing-men do to women. All of Mexico's daughters love you for your songs. You gave them empowerment in a macho society. You help create change. On top of that, Pepe never had a song as cool as Rata De Dos Patas:

Barack Obama & Super Tuesday In California

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 11, 2008 03:08am | Post a Comment
Obama’s biggest downfall in his campaign was that he underestimated Latinos. This cost him big time in California. There was so much he could have done to get our vote and he didn't.

For instance, He never really spoke out on immigration issues, which Hilary openly did. For example, Hillary came out in support of AB 540 (The Dream Act), which would allow illegal immigrants to attend college as long as they follow certain provisions. Hillary also started early, rounding up support from Latino heavyweights such as L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilwomen Gloria Molina, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers. In fact, Villaraigosa pledged his support  for Hilary back in 2006. It also didn’t help Obama cause that many Latinos prospered during the Clinton years and are looking for a return to that prosperity.

Then there is the unfortunate reality that African-Americans and Latinos are socialized in this country to hate each other. We are taught this in the public school system, where neither of us are taught our true history. We are made into street soldiers to fight each other in our ever-increasing incarceration in prisons. We are taught to blame each other by politicians for the lack of jobs, lower wages and increasing cost of living. Truth is that some of us are so messed up that we find it easier to fight each other rather than to come together and fight the true source of our problems.

Obama knows this and has addressed this, quite elegantly, in fact. My thoughts that I have written are not much different from what he has said in interviews and in his speeches. Problem is that he didn't tell this to Latinos. People like my mother, who became a citizen back in 1994 yet still gets her information through the Spanish speaking media. Obama did very little with the Spanish speaking media until just before the election. He chose rather to court Hollywood insiders during his time in Los Angeles. The Chicago Tribune reported that the Obama campaign office in East L.A. was opened mere days before the election. Even with a huge rally at East L.A. College with Sen. Kennedy and Maria Elena Durazo as his co-chairperson for his campaign, Latino voters knew very little about Obama and as a result lost the Latino vote to Clinton by a 2-1 margin, the worst defeat of his campaign.

Perhaps Obama felt with so many Latinos on the side of Clinton, that it would be easier to recruit a whole new generation of voters. People who he felt had more educated, younger, who wanted change and who did not buy into cultural & racial biases. Trouble was that Obama never gave Raza a chance to discover who he was. His campaign's assumptions on how Latinos think prevailed over any effort he gave.

Next up…Texas. Land of conservative Democrats and the place where the word ‘Hispanic” is still not considered an insult. I hope for his survival the Obama camp learned from their mistakes in California
The main complaint I heard from Raza about Obama is that they never knew what he stood for, good or bad.  It’s going to take more than people telling their mommas about Obama, he’s going to have to do for himself.

Maybe Move Black Guayaba Out of The Clearance Section?

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 11, 2008 12:34am | Post a Comment
Latin Jazz Album: "Funk Tango," Paquito D'Rivera Quintet.
This album is pedestrian at best.
Alternative: Cabijazz, Latin Giants Of Jazz, Colon 264

Latin Pop Album: "El Tren De Los Momentos," Alejandro Sanz.

El Tren De Aburridos is more like it. Jorge Drexler's 12 Segundos De Oscuridad would have been better, just for the title track alone.

Latin Rock or Alternative Album: "No Hay Espacio," Black:Guayaba.
Read the title above. Cafe Tacvba's Si No or Maneja Beto's Accidentes de Longitud y Latitud would have been better.

Latin Urban Album: "Residente O Visitante," Calle 13.

No argument here. I felt Calle 13 should have been in the general Album of the Year with Herbie, Kanye and Amy, even if it never had a ghost of a chance to win.

Tropical Latin Album: "La Llave De Mi Corazon," Juan Luis Guerra.
Some great songs on this album but not enough to say it's the best. El Gran Combo & Spanish Harlem Orquesta, who were also nominated, were just as good. My pick? Calambuco, Grupo Caribe, La Excelencia or Envidia All-Stars

Mexican/Mexican-American Album: "100 (Percent) Mexicano," Pepe Aguilar.
Paquita La De Barrio gets robbed again! Pepe becomes her new "rata de dos patas"

Tejano Album: "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," Little Joe & La Familia.

Little Joe can't sing anymore. Go for the old school real deal: Conjunto Bernal or the Beto Villa's Orchestra reissues

Norteno Album: "Detalles Y Emociones," Los Tigres Del Norte.

I love Los Tigres Del Norte but this wasn't their best. Los Razos, Raza Obrera or Los Rieleros Del Norte had better offerings last year. Still, no one can come close to writing the kind of songs that Los Tigres write.

Banda Album: "Te Va A Gustar," El Chapo.

I figured Valentin Elizalde would get the sympathy vote, but I guess he didn't. What? getting shot and killed doesn't guarantee a Grammy any longer?


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 10, 2008 02:45pm | Post a Comment
One of the most misunderstood formatting experiments in popular recorded music was Quad.

Of course most of us are familiar with the basic concept of four speakers set up to give the listener the feeling of depth on a recording.  The systems usually required a special receiver, needle, etc. Quad was a blanket term for a bunch of sound designs. CD-4 discreet, UD-4/UMX. Q4, Quad 8, SQ, QS, EV Stereo-4, Dynaquad, Matrix  H & the Hafler circuit were all fairly different takes on the basic concept.  Most had to do with some sort of stereo synthesis or conversion in the audio chain.  WQSR in Sarasota, Florida was the nations longest running Quad radio station, but other stations did dabble in it.  It appeared in 1970 and was on life support by 1975 with only classical titles being produced until 1980...

This is a two parter, today's gallery will be made up of Quad propaganda, the next one will be various releases and such...


Posted by Billyjam, February 10, 2008 10:45am | Post a Comment

In the past week hip-hop lost one of its greatest historians when Tony Silver, the director of landmark 1983 graffiti hip-hop film Style Wars, died after losing to his ongoing battle with brain cancer. New York native Silver, who made the legendary documentary with producer Henry Chalfant, lived in LA and  is survived by his wife and two daughters and grandchild.

Beside Style Wars, Silver had a fat portfolio that included award-winning work in theatrical and TV trailers, main titles and special effects. As a documentary director his credits include such films as Anita Ellis For the Record, 30 Seconds At A Time (about company response to employees who are victims of domestic violence), and Arisman Facing the Audience (about illustrator Marshall Arisman). Additionally Silver lectured at universities around the US and served on panels at the NEA, the NEH, and at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But it is for Style Wars that Tony Silver will always be best remembered.

The film, which just about any true die-hard graffiti artist can quote verbatim, remains not just a classic among hip-hop/graffiti fans but is also recognized by educators and critics the world over as the most important film to capture the original spirit and vitality of hip-hop's element of graffiti which emerged from from the gritty streets and subways of New York City and later (thanks in great part to this film) blossomed into global consciousness and appreciation. Style Wars, which originally aired on PBS, won the Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival upon its original release.

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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.

Amoeba SF Celebrates Mardi Gras 2008

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 9, 2008 04:13pm | Post a Comment
Every year the staff at Amoeba San Francisco looks forward to the Fat Tuesday Celebration, and this year something was added to the mix:  the parade would involve children from the Boys & Girls Club, from around the corner on Page Street, making it an honest-to-goodness community event. The idea of bringing kids in to augment the parade brought some added anticipation and excitement from the staff, as we'd hoped.

With the store decked out in beads, and the traditional colors of purple, green and gold adorning the aisles, the staff was treated to superb and sublime Cajun food catered by Cajun Pacific, as a steady stream of music -- from New Orleans to Brazilian Carnaval --was provided by DJs in the afternoon. Costumes, headgear and decorations had already started to proliferate, and the festivity started to become infectious.

Just before five o'clock, the children arrived, bearing homemade signs and costumes, many of them relishing the opportunity to hide behind colorful masks and brandish noisemakers. They lined up on the ramp, eagerly waiting for the parade to begin. The staff started to gather at the info booth, next to the giant crawfish on the rolling cart, feeding off the energy of the spirited kids. With the invited guests, it really did feel like a celebration.

Finally, Big Ant, adorned with the crown and cape indicating his status as Parade King, led the restless crew down the aisles, once around the store and into the street, joined by other costumed employees and staff. Kathy held up a big MARDI GRAS sign to alert the onlookers, and for the first time the Amoeba Fat Tuesday parade greeted the public and crossed Haight Street. The young krewe snaked around the block to Page, passing the Boys And Girls Club and curved back towards the store.

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Dancicals! A Concept Whose Time Has Arrived

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 9, 2008 10:57am | Post a Comment
Last year on Amoeba Hollywood's mezzanine there was a serious debate about possible new sections:

Sports movies, Christian movies, Tween movies, Women's Pictures, Edwardian Movies, Midwesterns, &c. Most were shot down as stupid, unattractive and inadvisable. One that didn't get the official OK and yet sprang up anyway was "Dancicals."

In musicals (dancicals' aging sibling), singing and musical performance are interwoven into the plot. In backstage musicals, Dick Powell might be telling an audience about a new song he's written, which soon evolves into some insane Busby Berkeley fever dream that would be impossible to stage except in outer space.

In other musicals, two sane, grown-ass men might seamlessly slip from dialog into snapping, then singing, dancing and jumping off walls, grabbing mannequins and other tomfoolery that leaves some viewers scratching their heads wandering, "What the heck was that?" The age old question of whether or not musical numbers are actually occurring within the diegesis can't really be answered. You just have to not think about it.

With the onslaught of rock 'n' roll, musicals slipped in popularity in the 1960s. Interestingly, with the death of rock 'n' roll musicals have grown more popular again, with modern examples like Velvet Goldmine, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge!, Chicago, Sweeney Todd, &c.

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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.


Posted by Billyjam, February 8, 2008 10:00pm | Post a Comment
bart simpson
One advantage that an animated TV show has is that its stars need never age. Case in point is Matt Groening's creation The Simpsons, which debuted on Fox TV way back in December 1989 (although it appeared in a shorter and rougher form two years previously as a skit on the Tracey Ullman Show) and whose stars haven't aged a bit in the years that it has been on consistently since.

However the show has gone through many changes behind the scenes with various creative contributors, especially writers, coming and going -- prompting some critics to say that it is not the same Simpsons that it once was.

Personally I think it is still a great show, although I don't rush home to watch it the moment it first airs as I once did. But I still really enjoy it whenever I catch an episode (some more than others). And one episode that I got to watch recently was the Sadgasm episode, from the ongoing 19th season, in which Homer flashes back to the nineties -- a time when he creates grunge, or so the storyline goes.

I thought it was hilarious and loved it. (Check out the highlights of it in above video clip if you haven't already seen it.) But some naysayers were critical of it: saying things like "Hey, how come Bart wasn't born in this episode when he was already born when the series started the previous decade?" To whom I say: It's a cartoon, dummy! And it's called suspending your beliefs as the show takes poetic license.

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Sulla Strada, Capitolo Sei

Posted by Whitmore, February 8, 2008 07:10pm | Post a Comment
FIRST: This Listing Ship tour of Italy entry is a little old, the problems of traveling without a laptop and not having enough time to write … the events outlined here were ultimately an insignificant blip on the radar map of my life, a night and a mood I should just forget and ignore, but what fun is that! And though it culminates with a walk though the pitch dark (literally and metaphorically) there is -as always- whenever I can invent one ... a happy ending.

BLOOM: In late 1991 Nirvana played their first gig in Italy at this club just outside of Milan. Club Bloom holds about 300 hundred people, but if I’ve done the math correctly, (though when I presented my equation to guitarist Lyman, a Math Professor, he seemed puzzled by my efforts – but I deduced that those with a doctorate in math are just constantly puzzled), … since I figure every fourth person I’ve met in Italy was at that Nirvana show, that means at least 12,125 people were packed into Bloom that night witnessing music history. There is the other possibility that just by dumb yankee luck I’ve actually met most of those 300 audience members and my math skills and equations are as erroneous as Moses supposes his toeses are roses.

CLICKS: Early in our set, probably around the 4th or 5th song I swear I heard a click, it was the sound like a door’s deadbolt unlocking. I thought, shit this isn’t good. It’s a sound I’ve heard before in my head, and only in my head. A place where my mind paces back and forth, at a place I sneak a peak, sometimes, other times I take a seat in the dark. Luckily so far, no one has caught me, locked me in, as there is always that possibility.

OFF: I looked around the stage, the club, the back wall and everything seem to be going well. The songs were jumping, the instruments were in tune, the monitors were kicking out plenty of sound, I could see the wine in my glass gently vibrating on the amp, the lighting was cool and moody, the crowd of about 150 or 200 people were pushing closer to the stage. Earlier in the evening we had yet another incredible meal on a tour of incredible meals; and though my mind was swimming like trout up stream to die, my belly felt fine, fat and warm …

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30 Rock - One Small Step For Network TV

Posted by Miss Ess, February 8, 2008 02:46pm | Post a Comment
 30 Rock Season 1 is out on DVD at last!

Ex-SNLer Tina Fey writes and produces the show. I never paid much attention to SNL, but when I did I always thought Tina was onto something. I feel like she knows what it is like to be a real life woman, and for this, I salute her. She knows what it's like to find women who care about highlighting their hair or finding that perfect nail shop completely alien. She knows what it is like to be the not-as-cute friend, the one who watches quietly while her more high maintenance pals score dates. She knows what it is like to finally get a date and then feel so awkward in that world that one can't imagine how anyone actually forms a real relationship.

In other words, what I like best about Tina Fey and her writing is that she isn't afraid to just be herself. Isn't that refreshing? What kind of world would we have if more people felt comfortable and confident enough to just be themselves? But in the meantime, let's just say, the ratings for this show have not been good. Ah, America.

30 Rock
takes place on the set of a variety show that Liz Lemon (Fey) and her old blonde friend Jenna (Jane Krakowski) created. Liz is the head writer of the show and Jenna stars on it ... Until one day a new boss who is used to running the corporate headquarters of General Electric, Jack (Alec Baldwin), bursts their bubble and hires unstable movie star Tracey Jordan (Tracey Morgan) to headline the show.

30 Rock is full of in-jokes at the expense of NBC and its owner GE, as well as the entire TV business. The offbeat characters on the show remind me a bit too much of some of the real life characters that inhabit Amoeba. The interplay between all of these idiosyncratic players is what makes the show hilarious. My favorite is Kenneth the Page, a blank and sweetly naive Southern boy who none of the staff can quite figure out. The tension between Jack and Liz is great too, since they are both attracted to each other but are determined to cover this attraction. Tina Fey has created a crew of characters that we haven't seen on TV before, and the few types she's included that we have seen before are immediately and consistently skewered, such as the underdressed secretary Cerie and image obsessed Jenna.

The show actually makes me laugh out loud-- no small feat!  In one episode, when Jack invites Liz to a black tie party celebrating a prince's birthday, jealous Jenna also weasles her way into the fete, determined to win over the prince and achieve her dream of happily ever after. What she doesn't realize until she gets to the party is that the prince is pallid and cold. He is wheelchair bound and perhaps even semi mentally challenged. This doesn't deter Jenna, who awkwardly dances for him and stands by as he spits out his birthday cake candles. The prince is played to perfection by Paul Reubens.

If for some reason you are like me and have been slow to give 30 Rock a chance, maybe just watching Prince Gerhardt will convince you that there is actually a funny show on regular old net

Dirty Dancing...Kid Congo & Howie nite only

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 8, 2008 02:15pm | Post a Comment
Catch Dirty Dancing @ the New Bev Sat Nite and then Dance Dirty and catch something Sun Nite @ Part Time Punks (the Echo) w/ Kid & Howie!!!

Paranoia, They Destroy Ya: Death Sentence vs. The Brave One, or Jodie Foster's Continuing Relevance to the Presidency

Posted by Charles Reece, February 8, 2008 12:50pm | Post a Comment
Given Hillary Clinton’s history of backing neo-liberal economic policies and war-making by the United States and its allies, her advocacy of women’s rights overseas within what is widely seen outside this country as an imperialist context could actually set back indigenous feminist movements in the same a way that the Bush administration’s “democracy-promotion” agenda has been a serious setback to popular struggles for freedom and democracy.  -- Stephen Zunes, Sexism, the Women’s Vote and Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy
These promises of morality, protection, and recognition of harm are false promises. The criminal justice apparatus is about order and its reproduction, and about maintaining the existing hierarchy of status and privilege, and only incidentally about crime or morality or the safety of individual citizens and their communities. It operates most effectively at
the level of the symbolic, by naming individual offenders as morally defective, and using them as scapegoats, and only incidentally as a useful tool for community security, although at times it is the only and the most appropriate social institution available. -- Diane L. Martin, Retributivism Revisited: A Reconsideration of Feminist Criminal Law Reform Strategies

At a time when Spider-Man still had some aesthetic worth, being drawn by the great Steve Ditko, New York was on its way to becoming a dangerous city, giving the super-powered vigilante something to do, presumedly on a daily basis.  However, looking at the crime stats for NYC in 1965, one finds that only 3% of its inhabitants experienced any sort of crime for that year.  With a population of 18 million, it's no wonder that there was rarely a cop around as the Vulture was flying off with his ill-gotten loot.  Now, if you're one lone webslinger, even with the aid of your trusty spider-sense, it ain't very likely that you'll be fortunate enough to come across a crime as it's occurring even on a monthly basis, much less a daily one.  Thus, we have one of the central absurd conceits of the vigilante sub-genre (with radiated powers or merely a stock of ammo): always being in the right place at the right time.

It's just that sort of absurdity Daniel Clowes satirizes in his parodic take on Spidey, The Death-Ray.  Upon discovering his superpowers after smoking his first cigarette, Andy is coaxed into fighting crime by his pal Louie.  The only problem is that there's no superpowered villains with whom to have one of those Kirby-inspired splash pages.  With the aid of his evaporating deathray gun, Andy does the only thing left to him, erasing the schoolyard bully, the older sister's obnoxious boyfriend, and the everyday litterer.  With great power comes the blasé acceptance of its use.

Using the same basic plot as Lee and Ditko's origin for Spidey, director Michael Winner and writer Wendell Mayes's DEATH WISH replaces spider powers with the hand gun and the death of Uncle Ben with the murder of the hero's wife and the rape of his daughter for a more versimilitudinous milieu.  As his daughter lies in a vegetative state, Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) asks his pansy aka typically liberal son-in-law if all there is to do when faced with violent crime is hide in fear.  Sure, the son-in-law replies, it's called being civilized.  Well, just like Peter Parker, Kersey will have none of that.  With his newly acquired gun (which inexplicably uses bullets that can't be traced), he patrols all the most obvious places where crime takes place: convenience stores, subways and Central Park.  And, being the sine qua non of the vengeance morality play, there are ne'er do wells at every corner.  "Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets," as Travis Bickle will say a couple years later.  Of course, it wasn't until the appearance of Frank Castle, the Punisher, in a 1974 issue of SPIDER-MAN (same year as DEATH WISH), that the superhero vigilante was made to face his grittier, more "realistic," counterpart.  Spidey wouldn't kill, but following the likes of Paul Kersey, the Punisher certainly would.  The conflict appears to be a way of setting up a contrast between good vigilantism and the bad kind, thereby keeping the morality of superheroes acceptable to a readership growing up, say, some time after the Renaissance.

In order to keep Kersey a hero and this right-wing fantasy more palatable to a liberal -- or, really, any morally modern audience, his actions are always reactions, brought on, like in a Western, by the villain drawing first.  Kersey starts off as a conscientious objector in the Korean War, but keeping with the old adage that a liberal is a conservative who hasn't been mugged, he begins to see the value in Deuteronomy's "an eye for an eye."  Thus we have the narrative template for the vigilante sub-genre established, with its complementary theory of justice, retributivism (an equivalent amount of punishment for the crime), firmly in place.  There are many problems with retributivism, chief among them being it's a moral code without a real concern for any practical benefits to society.  It's simply a matter of doing what's right in abstracto, regardless of whether the punishment itself might have more long-lasting deleterious effects than the individual crimes themselves.  Little wonder, then, why the vigilante film or the superhero comic is rooted in machismo; societal concern sounds too much like feminine caring.

Trying to further liberalize antediluvian morality by feminizing it, we get Neil Jordan's THE BRAVE ONE, which proves to be little more than DEATH WISH with Jodie Foster's Erica Bain replacing Bronson's Paul Kersey.   Certainly Foster's face maps a wider emotive geography that Bronson's, who  looks like some sculpted artifact from a simpler, more decisive time.  Getting art (power) house Jordan to direct the film was an attempt to bestow gravitas to what would have otherwise been dismissed by most critics as little more than a generic reiteration of a well-worn cliché.  And one doesn't have to guess at the motives of the producers, Susan Downey says as much in the documentary that comes with the film on dvd.  Both director and star are there to help deepen the emotional understanding of vengeance.  As Downey tells us, the original script by father-son writing duo, Roderick and Bruce Taylor, was too much a straightforward genre piece, only with a woman protagonist.  Brought on, in part, by Foster's insistence, Cynthia Mort revised the script, making the hero an NPR talkshow host, often speaking in a voiceover (for those who couldn't quite appreciate the message behind .Bronson's granite gaze).  The intended difference in vigilantes here supposedly being that Foster’s is one who takes on the full emotional and moral weight of her decisions (as NPR reporters sound like they're doing when reporting a story), where Bronson’s was just a force to be reckoned with.  Just look at the posters: Bronson is a man of determination and action, Foster a woman of regret and doubt.  I don't remember Bronson touching his hair once in any of the five DEATH WISHes.  Nor does he cry, which Foster does in abundance.

But these are superficial differences, taken as meritorious by a reductio ad absurdist identity politics.  By merely replacing the speaker of an argument with another speaker belonging to a neglected group, the argument is assumed to take on a different meaning, as if there's something intrinsic to that group which will just naturally affect the argument's outcome.  Having a woman willing to strap on a bomb doesn't say much about women's rights, only how little the ideology cares about gender equality.  One has but to think of Ira Hayes in this regard.  He was "equal" only so long as he served the purpose of perpetuating the American ideal within the context of WWII.  Once he returned home, and his "Indian-ness" began to re-surface, the ideology had little use for him.  Otherness is of value to an ideology only if it can be used to perpetuate that ideology.  With better cinematography and acting, THE BRAVE ONE uses the feminine body to make exactly the same points as DEATH WISH.  Like Kersey, Bain has a perfect life in Manhattan, is a devout liberal, loses a loved one in a violent act, acquires a gun,  proceeds to haunt the same locales waiting for Them to draw first, and then gets help from a cop in order to get away with it.  The substitution of Foster and the effeminate connotation of an arthouse take on the vengeance sub-genre are nothing more than rhetorical affectations to help reassert the continuing appeal of retributivism.  If THE BRAVE ONE suggests anything not already in its predecessor, it's only that technology qua gun is the great equalizer.

The feminist intent of THE BRAVE ONE wasn't lost on some critics.  Writing in Film Comment (Vol. 43, No. 5), Amy Taubin contrasts it to the "male fantasy" of MS. 45 and DEATH WISH, along with the latter's "righteous vigilantism."  Contrary to the film's being a near point for point remake of DEATH WISH, she chooses to compare it more favorably with the more critically respectable TAXI DRIVER.  Odd, since Travis Bickle is pretty much off from the beginning of his story, whereas Paul Kersey is, despite Bronson's lack of nuance, shown to go through the same transformation brought on by the power of the gun Foster evinces: from passive liberal to angel of vengeance.  If the superficially feminist tricks -- artiness and emotional NPR-employed woman protagonist -- can get a feminist critic to buy into the morality of DEATH WISH's plot (Taubin even challenges critics of THELMA & LOUISE to not be more outraged by THE BRAVE ONE), it's doubtful that she'd find James Wan's testosterone-fueled sequel, DEATH SENTENCE, any more feminist than the Bronson flick.  But, in its focus on the familial and social effects of vengeance, violence begetting violence, it is less masculinist than THE BRAVE ONE, despite its hyper-stylized violence and muscular tit for tat.

As Brian Garfield says, he wrote DEATH SENTENCE "as a sort of penance for the movie version of DEATH WISH."  The film (which was written by Garfield and Ian Jeffers) stays fairly true to his intent, even though it plays to the stylistic demands of the contemporary action spectacle, with tribally tattooed bald bad guys who look more like villains from THE CROW than any street gang in the real world.  Kevin Bacon plays Nick Hume, a happy insurance salesman with a great family until son number 1 is macheted down as part of a gang ritual.  Unlike with the two previous films, the killer is caught, but due to the nature of legal bureaucracy, he clearly isn't going to get his just deserts.  Thus, Nick refuses to testify against him, deciding instead to follow him home to exact what he feels is a more justified retribution.  Unlike Paul and Erica, he's made to pay for his revenge.  The gang discovers his identity and -- in what's surely the worst use of a pop song in cinema's history -- takes out his entire family including Nick himself -- concluding with a spiraling overhead shot of their lifeless bodies to the tune of some 90s WB-warbler about lost love.  Nick survives, says a few words of regret to his other son, now in a vegetative state (along with skulls, tomatoes prove a good excuse for monologues), shaves his head (hardly a nuanced sign of parity between him and the villain), acquires an arsenal from the gang leader's dad (eccentrically played by John Goodman and alluding to the violent upbringing at the base of the villain's worldview), and goes on to exact more retribution.

The most intriguing contrast between the three films is the moral conscience supplied by the cop role.  Each film has a cop who takes a special interest in the case of the vigilante hero:  DEATH WISH has Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia), a detective who is told by the Commissioner to let Paul go free due to the political ramifications of trying a guy who's had the effect of reducing crime in New York.  THE BRAVE ONE has Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard) who lets Erica go after killing the final bad guy involved in her rape and the murder of her fiancé, not because of bureaucracy, but because he sympathizes with her position.  He even goes so far as to let her shoot him in the arm and arrange the murder to look like it was a defense killing in the line of duty!  And, finally, DEATH SENTENCE has Detective Wallis (Aisha Tyler), who knows why the gang is after Nick and tries to get him to stop the violent cycle by opening up to her.  Tyler has a thankless role, functioning more as a "don't do that"/"see I told you so" version of the chorus in a Greek tragedy.  Yet, hers is the only role that really focuses this type of story on the familial and social damage that results from a retributivist world view -- hardly surprising that a woman was cast for it.  The character points to the realworld problem of implementing retributivism, rather than merely arguing its abstracted points in a fantasy setting.  Her outlook is confirmed as Nick sits mano a mano with the gang leader at the end of the film, both bleeding to death; whether or not the villain deserved to die becomes irrelevant, when the cost to Nick was so high in making his point. 

Substituting a woman who displays stereotypically feminine cues (e.g., crying and general emoting) into what's a particularly masculine subgenre of Action is insufficient by that fact alone for a feminist critique.  Despite Jodie Foster's claim (in the aforementioned making-of documentary) that her character is in the wrong, the BRAVE ONE demonstrates such a substitution might actually serve as an insidious attempt to broaden the appeal of a socially destructive moral philosophy, selling Old World moralism to today's wouldbe feminists.  Only Erica Bain gets away with her killing because the cop comes to feel her actions are justified.  At least, Paul Kersey's guardian detective is forced by bureaucracy to let him go, in spite of the detective's protestations.  Stylistically, both of these films are more realistic than Spider-Man, but ironically neither is as concerned with the real world as the near superheroic DEATH SENTENCE (with its implausible action sequences and Wolverine-healing abilities of its protagonist).  It manages to be both more honest about the fantastic nature of the subgenre and what vigilantism means in a realworld context.  Even more ironic that such a critique -- which I suggest is connotative of, or at least more consistent with feminism -- should come from a director most notable as the successful popularizer of what many call "torture porn."  The delicate physiognomy of Jodie Foster proves less feminist than beefy men duking it out.

Regarding the potential attractiveness of retributivism to women when it comes to the personalized violence directed at family members, it’s worth quoting at length feminist legal theorist, Diane Martin, on how that philosophy can actually demean the battered wife even further: 

The essential destructiveness of retribution-based acknowledgement of harm is particularly clear when one considers the situation of the battered wife who wants the violence to stop but who does not wish, or cannot afford (or both), to end the relationship. The criminalization approach that has become the official norm of responses to battering pits her against her spouse in a contest that individualizes and depoliticizes spousal violence, and threatens her family in fundamental ways. An immediate threat is posed by her partner’s inevitable loss of employment if the substantial prison terms called for are imposed.  A feminist response should not be to say to this woman, “You are mistaken in your opinion of the harms that may be done to you by the criminal process. You are mistaken in choosing family integrity over the integrity of the justice system. You are mistaken in relying upon your own opinion about how to deal with your situation and not that of the police or the prosecutor or the counsellor or the expert.”  These are patronizing and presumptuous attitudes that also alienate women who might benefit from discussing them further and that drive women away from the resources and help they might need. -- p. 184-5
Following Foster's lachrymose attempt at rebranding the vigilante film by a few months, we got Hillary Clinton's attempt to repackage her Thatcherite masculinity to bourgeois women voters in the New Hampshire primary.  And judging by the exit polls, the ploy worked, Clinton took back the support of women she'd lost to Obama in the Iowa primary.  The detrimental effects on Iraqi women entailed by her support for the imperialist doctrine behind the current war seems to hold considerably less cachet for middle-class women voters than her looking like them and showing that she can act just like they feel they would under the grueling demands of a presidential campaign.  Were her tears genuine?  Who cares?  Her use of BET's Ben Johnson and her husband in playing crass identity politics against Obama makes their spontaneity dubious.  Even if they were real, they function as little more than a mask for what she actually represents.  Feminist support for the one true feminist in the race, Dennis Kucinich, unsurprisingly fell on deaf ears, and he dropped out.   Should Hillary Clinton’s lead hold and she goes on to make the final bid for the presidency, we’ll be left with a choice between two candidates who supported a foreign policy agenda of vengeance that now makes Kissinger’s realpolitik look as feminist as DEATH SENTENCE.

Juno: Ghost World + Little Miss Sunshine x Wes Anderson divided by Welcome To the Dollhouse

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 8, 2008 10:14am | Post a Comment
Oh my blog, so, I like totally watched Juno the other night, Lite Brite, and now I totally can’t stop, you know, parlaying this guey. “Por k, Macy Gray?” you query. Welp, homeslice, it’s B-cuz I have had mine eyes opened when to the real deal Holyfield about how to rap like the post-tweens of today, OKizzle? Now normally I avoid quirk ‘n’ smirk like a bubble boy does a peanut butter factory; especially when it's strained, smug, masturbatory, self-worshipping and as heavy handed as Fisto holding a purse full of lead weights. Homie don’t play that, Krazy Kat. And from the trailers alone I was scared merdeless. A familiarly precocious kid has it all figured out like a pint-size Paul Haggis on shrooms. But then she finds out, in a major league curve ball, she’s still got more growin’ up to do, Mr. Magoo.

Cue an annoying Kimya Dawson (Moldy Peaches) song where she busts out with her urban-outfitted, practiced and studied amateurism. OK, we know it’s Indie Anna Jones when we’re confronted, finalmente gente, with the smiling visages of big Hollywood actors, since Indie film is like, totally like “alternative” was when that term went from meaning anything not on commercial radio from Husker Du to Husker Don't to specifically proto-Creed band whose singers yarl and show off their abs-of-steel whilst a creepy, masked, old geezer lurches around in a red and green-lit video that’s played in heavy rotation on empMTyV. Indie is now actually slightly more formulaic than Bollywood, nay, Nollywood.

”Lieben meine Affe-monkey!”

The story is about a 16-year-old Canuck who gets pregnant by her Canuck friend and then finds a couple to adopt her baby after a Canuck at the abortion clinic tells her in thickly-accented Canadian, “All babies want to be born.” Their Canada talk is never explained, I’m guessing because the actors had to devote most of their ability to contorting their brains around the graceless and over-written dialog. It kind of gives it a Degrassi High on Growth-Hormones feel -- only 1000 times more annoying. Only Juno’s dad seems passably Minnesotan. It’s also obviously filmed nowhere near Minnesota but that sort of authenticity rides Miss Daisy-style to the chauffeur/plot that's too busy stroking its "beef sword" (to borrow another barf-inducing Juno-ism) to deal with such obvious details.

Each character has one defining trait and then goes through a robotic transformation exactly one time. This passes for characterization and development, and I was totally bummed by some of the twists and the turns. In some Buñuelian perversion, one of the main characters who seems, like, totally cool turns out to be a total douche, which just depressed me partially because it came across like it was intended to be a revelatory shock but had me saying, "Oh God. Please say it's not going there" -- not because I used my C.S.I. Hollywood skills -- but because every twist is broadcast with wig-splitting obviousness.

Somehow Michael Cera is surprisingly likable playing the only role he's ever asked to play -- the familiar celluloid dork who is supposed to be an outsider but who in reality dresses like a bridge-and-tunnel hipster dressed up for a night of peacockery in Echo Park ... and make you want to call the Redneck Squad. The parents seem dorky but they're ok, it turns out. In fact, they don’t seem especially emotional in any way (no one does), accepting without any sort of anger Bleeker, the broham who's impregnated their daughter and all. In fact, the stepmom steps up to the ultrasound technician in a rant that's supposed to be revelatory but is just embarrassing. Jennifer Garner is the only surprise. Her character is set up as a soul-crushing square with clichéd suburban instincts. The joke about shades of yellow for the nursery seems like a woman-hating gag from a Carl's Jr ad. But she ends up soliciting the most sympathy in the least self-conscious performance.

The film, built on so little, is padded out to feature-length by sticking in an avalanche of references to the point where it’s like someone reading a thirty-something’s Facebook profile more than watching a movie. Juno and her best friend Leah talk in an annoying patois wherein they trip over themselves trying to out-clever each other. It’s like they cannibalized the girls from Ghost World and then shat out the charm and buried it behind Todd Solondz's house. The film represents the recycling of better films it borrows from without adding anything even remotely original or redeeming. In ten years, CGI cartoon animals will be talking like Juno in Dreamworks movies, allowing them to finally retire “Talk to the paw” and “Don’t go there!”

In 20 years Juno will be regarded like Love Story, Beat Girl or High School Confidential -- viewed with a mixture of embarrassment and ironic amusement at some Normal's failed attempt to capture hipness.

The dialog is annoying. But just to make things worse, there are pointless voice-overs offering and illustrating pseudo-profundities like, “Jocks always go for the goth types who play cellos.” Thanks for the heads-up and keep listening to Garrison Keillor and that Dan Le Sav Vs Scroobius Pip song, genius. Another cringe-inducing scene cuts away to images of bands and we’re just awkwardly and point-blank told to check out: The Stooges, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth and the Runaways. It’s like being cornered by a smarmy R.A. or an assistant-manager from the Burbank Hot Topic trying to get in your pants. Again, thanks for the Q*Tip! Juno and a hip, older guy played by Jason Bateman squeeze in a film discussion to cover as many referential bases as possible. Hearing them debate H.G. Lewis versus Dario Argento is like watching Kevin Smith courteously give Quentin Tarantino a reacharound. Did you ever, just for lolz, watch Full House, where that little troll doll played by the Olsen Twins would put on sunglasses, flip da cap to da back and say, “Radical dude?” Did you ROTFL? If you did, then this flick is right up your Ally McBeal, Shaquille O’Neal. On the other hand, if you got all Nicolas Cage in 8mm squirming and sweating then you might want to turn any chances to see it, Downtown Julie Brown.

The only clever thing about the references is that while they’re all so safe, so market-researched, so infallible and universally accepted, they’re presented in a way designed to make the viewers (including Conservatives Who Cuss™ and the geriatric Academy Awards Judges -- *poke* *poke*) feel like they’re in a secret society of hipper-than-thou smugholios because they’re down with Poochy-D. It’s like pretending that McDonald’s is you and your friendsters' secret discovery that you worry Chowhound will blow wide open. Juno has a hamburger phone. We see this. She also tells someone during a conversation on said hamburger phone lest we miss what’s shoved in our face. Juno is like the unholy love child born from Veronica Mars getting D.P.ed by Dennis Miller and Scrappy-Don’t.

The first hour I seriously thought I was going to have to turn it off. My fingers were dug into the arms of the couch and my posture was rigid. It was like that clip in TV Carnage’s “Sore For Sighted Eyes” where they’ve edited it to make it look like John Ritter is watching Rosie O’Donnell do Down's syndrome in “Riding On the Bus With My Sister.” But I'm too legit to quit. Thankfully, Juno drops some of the annoying speech mannerisms when it’s time for the waterworks. Even though the film moves gracelessly back and forth between the comedy and drama mixture of dramedy, it grows so much more bearable towards the end as the jokes finally slow down that the improvement is kind of shocking. It’s such a Rolaids moment that it’s actually sort of enjoyable but it involves so much suffering to get there that I would've thought that the writer was a cenobite if I hadn’t already read that she’s a stripper. However, the shift in tone seemingly isn’t so much a reflection of deepening meaning as the writer's awareness that when it's tear time, the jokes get in the way of genuine emotions, so she kind of steps back and lets the viewer fill in the rest, which works if you're a love-worshiping wuss like me. I'm not sure it's really worth the effort, though, unless your Bob Flanagan. But, my hostess, the esteemed Ngoc-Thu Thi Nguyen, though normally hand-in-glove, liked it a good deal more, so take my ambivalence with a grain of Maggi.
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I can't stop thinking about the Oscars...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 7, 2008 10:33pm | Post a Comment

While I have been unpacking my boxes and organizing my life again, I have also been spending my time thinking about the Oscars. I was all ready to wake up at 5 am to watch Kathy Bates announce the nominees. But I was seriously so busy unpacking boxes and hanging up pictures that I completely forgot about them. I didn't really remember until my very good pal from the Haight street store called me to remind me. In case you missed them, here they are... It is a bit weird that the year I decide to move back to Hollywood is the year of the writers strike. I am of course on the side of the writers still. But it is getting a bit harder to still be on their side after all this time. I know it is selfish. But I am still growing my beard out for them at least. I have not shaved it yet.  I just really want to watch the Oscars. But I also feel really bad for the nominees. They already missed out on the trashier version of the Oscars that is the golden globes. It was really embarrassing to just have a press conference. They of course picked the most annoying people in entertainment news to host the conference. I almost cried while watching them but was too busy laughing at the hosts trying to make jokes while discussing films that they had obviously not even seen. I saw Viggo Mortensen walk into Amoeba a couple days ago as I was leaving the store. I really wanted to congratulate him on his Oscar nomination. I also wanted to apologize to him for not picking him in my nomination predictions for best actor. I at least listed his name as an alternate. He really can't be that mad at me. I also wanted to know if he was sad that he might have to watch the Oscars as a press conference from his couch instead of actually being at a real show. I do have some faith that they will work it all out. They can't really do this to me on my first year back in Hollywood. And in case you were wondering, I am almost caught up on watching all the Oscar nominated films. I think of it as homework every year. My goal is to always see the 5 best picture nominations before they are announced. I had planned on seeing Michael Clayton and Juno before then. But I am going to use that moving excuse again. I was just too busy packing up my life to go see every movie.

But I did see Juno after being in Hollywood for a couple days. And I just saw Michael Clayton this week after work. I really think that I would have enjoyed Juno more if I had not really heard anything about it. I was expecting a bit more after its Oscar nomination. It was extremely cute and great and hilarious. Ellen Page was really fantastic. But I just don't think it was a better film than 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster,  I'm Not There, or Away From Her. I don't even think it was as good as Superbad or Knocked Up. I did enjoy it. But I was really expecting more.

Michael Clayton was so much better than I thought it would be. Not near as many people will go see it or have seen it. But it was just one of those perfectly crafted suspenseful dramas. George Clooney was not really the best Batman but he really is redeeming his earlier work with his last couple movies. I have always really liked Tilda Swinton and it was nice to see her in a bigger sort of more mainstream film. For some reason I have always been sort of drawn to George Clooney. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I sort of feel like I grew up with him on TV. He appeared on an episode of the Golden Girls as an undercover cop staking out the neighbors. Blanche of course had a crush on him. He also showed up as Jackie's boss and boyfriend, "Booker,"  on Roseanne. But he is most memorable for his role on the final seasons of The Facts of Life. I think I might have been the only person to still watch this show at this point. And I still don't really remember what he did on the show. Did he have something to do with that weird shop that they all worked at that sold candy and plastic pink flamingos?? He was also on the beginning years of E.R. back when it was still good. Seriously though, Michael Clayton is fantastic.

So I might just keep growing my beard through the entire month of February. But I really do hope they make some sort of decision. I am really good with mediation.  So I am still available if you guys want my help to resolve these issues. Without writers we would have nothing to laugh or cry about. Life would really be sort of miserable without these writers back and employed. I am really very happy that Lost is back on the air. But we really need more from these writers. The movies and TV episodes are going to start to run out very soon. After all the great movies that came out at the end of last year and the beginning of this year...there is nothing left. Seriously, I just checked the next couple of weeks and there is nothing good coming out in theaters. I just heard a rumor that the strike might be ending this Saturday. I am ready. I hope it really will be over. I was worried that the bloggers were going to have to start writing screenplays. Is there a bloggers union?


Posted by Billyjam, February 7, 2008 09:13pm | Post a Comment
black lips
Self-described "flower-punk" rockers the Black Lips, whose live shows are a thing of legend, are doing an instore concert at the Berkeley Amoeba Music Friday Feb 8th, at 6:30PM.

And my strong advice is, if at all possible, get yer ass over to the Telegraph Ave. store for this great opportunity to see this amazing Atlanta, GA band up close and personal. They will be delivering (for free) their familiar yet totally unique sound -- a raw, supercharged blend of retro garage rock, punk, blues, country, and more.

Their live shows have become a thing of legend because of their raw energy onstage and their crazy, unpredictable rock'n'roll behavior, which to date has included such things as band members kissing, getting naked, vomiting, and urinating -- to name but a few of their bad boy antics, and all of which have rightfully earned the Black Lips' live shows such an overhanging reputation that some fans just show up to witness whatever wildness might unfold.

But considering they will be performing in a store, maybe they will tone it down. But then, maybe not. They don't even know. But what is sure is that the music will be kick ass. So just show up at Amoeba Berkeley at 6:30PM (earlier to get a good spot).

For more info and specific details of their Berkeley show, click here. Meantime, check the three live Black Lips concert clips below -- all from the past year -- including at a house party in Austin during the SXSW (poor audio but great energy), in Tijuana, Mexico, and at an instore for another record store (Criminal Records in ATL) this time last year.

Continue reading...

February 6, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, February 7, 2008 07:05pm | Post a Comment

They Call Me The Mercenary #6

Posted by phil blankenship, February 7, 2008 10:32am | Post a Comment

Gene Clark - A Tragedy In Two Parts: Part Two - Mr Tambourine Man

Posted by Miss Ess, February 6, 2008 08:52pm | Post a Comment
Gene Clark is sort of a tragic figure. He is also one of the most complex, idiosyncratic rock stars I have ever read about -- I just finished Mr. Tambourine Man by John Einerson. Due to mental illness, addiction and over abundant sycophants, he died too soon and without ever realizing and enjoying his true potential.

Things started out triumphantly enough in the early 60s, with Gene being plucked from complete obscurity in Kansas by the New Christy Minstrels to be in their group. He toured with them for a few months before his fear of flying, among other things, forced him to quit the band. He kept Los Angeles as his home base and soon met Roger McGuinn and David Crosby and they began creating music together. Soon, The Byrds were the biggest American band in the middle of the 60s and they were creating the kind of songs that will be remembered forever.

Clark's time in The Byrds was truly the stuff that dreams are made of. He was a star literally overnight, able to buy a Ferrari and live on the edge. He became used to the amount of attention being a super star and the toast of the nation brought him.

Gene was the main songwriter in The Byrds at that time, with songs like "My Love Don't Care About Time" and "Feel A Whole Lot Better," which meant that he was earning the most money. The others in the band jealously undermined him, especially David Crosby, who convinced an insecure Gene that he was such a poor guitar player that he shouldn't play on stage anymore. Crosby told Gene he should sing and shake the tambourine instead. Of course, Crosby took over Gene's Gretsch on stage. The many power plays within the group eventually led to Gene quitting the band.

After The Byrds Gene worked on a solo album that is mistakenly titled and billed as Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers. He also worked and played hard with famed bluegrass musician Douglas Dillard. They put out two albums as Dillard and Clark-- The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark and Through the Morning Through the Night. Gene was into and helping to create "country rock" long before pretty much everyone else. Due to Gene's growing reputation as a partier who pulled extreme stunts, none of his albums received much commercial push or press. Gene could never stick with one label-- he'd always get kicked off due to some kind of incident like yelling at the executives, insulting their wives, canceling an important gig, etc.

It seems that Gene's life was fraught with bad luck, mental illness, mistrust and addiction. I believe from reading this book he was likely bipolar. He burned many bridges within the industry with his brash behavior, and gained a reputation of being difficult to work with. On the other hand, much of the time he appears to have been caring and affectionate, a real gentleman.  He certainly suffered from phobias and compulsions, including crippling stage fright. Gene is perhaps most famous for having a fear of flying. This stemmed from his witnessing a plane crash out on the plains of Missouri when he was a child. Gene would never speak about his phobias or ask for help. He never talked much to anyone about his internal feelings. He seems to have been an extraordinarily inward person who was both an erratic alcoholic but also genuine and well-loved. 

True happiness finally came to Gene in the late 60s and early 70s when he met and married his wife Carlie, moved away from Los Angeles to bucolic Mendocino and had two children. While he was in Mendocino, he lived an idyllic outdoor oriented life of rivers and ocean cliffs and whales, all centered around his rustic cabin. He wrote two brilliant albums there, White Light and No Other. Unfortunately, when he would return to LA for business, he would fall back into his sycophant crowd and feed his growing addictions.  This led to his divorce and losing his property in Mendocino.

Over time, while Gene continued to fight to make music, he lost track of who his real friends were and increasingly became involved with people who took advantage of him, of his perceived money and fame and who encouraged his ever increasing drug and alcohol addictions. His alcoholism led to dementia, tremors and an even more erratic, sometimes violent personality.

It's hard for me to even write this blog because there is so much complexity to Gene's life and it seems impossible to give it justice by writing a short piece. It's so far beyond all of that. I can understand why the author of Mr. Tambourine Man, John Enierson, was compelled to include so many interviews and so many sides of stories. The book itself is kind of massive and has small print, like he was really trying to jam it all in. At first this was a bit off putting, but in the end I can understand that grasping the many facets that made up Clark's life and influences takes more than a typical 150 page bio. The book was somewhat overwhelming though. It's a lot to wade through and the stories within its pages are often heartbreaking. 

Still, though Gene's life was often dark, the patches of light within it shone very brightly. Gene's songwriting has been admired by heavy hitters like Bob Dylan and John Lennon and he was at least able to communicate his deeply hidden feelings through song. He fought hard for his career and to keep doing what he loved, although he both sabotaged his own work and tragically could never truly step out from the shadow of The Byrds. His fascinating life's example ended up teaching me the importance of holding onto one's creativity, one's family, and also how vital it is to know the difference between a true friend and an enemy, and to recognize when that enemy may in part be yourself.

Here's Gene in the 80s playing "Silver Raven" from No Other:

And here's Gene with The Byrds in their heyday singing "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better":

Dirty Dancing at the New Beverly - Saturday at Midnight ! !

Posted by phil blankenship, February 6, 2008 05:40pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music and Phil Blankenship are proud to present some of our film favorites at Los Angeles’ last full-time revival movie theater. See movies the way they're meant to be seen - on the big screen and with an audience!

Saturday Feb. 9

Get Ready For The
Time Of Your Life!

Dirty Dancing

New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 938-4038
Midnight, $7

Feb 23 Commando
Mar 1 Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man
Mar 8 Streets Of Fire
Mar 15 Can't Hardly Wait (10th Anniversary!)
Mar 29 The Funhouse

Add us as a friend on myspace !

They Call Me The Mercenary #5

Posted by phil blankenship, February 6, 2008 05:32pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, February 6, 2008 05:05pm | Post a Comment

After a friend of mine had recently shown me a hilariously entertaining online video clip of someone dancing with wild abandon at an outdoor party, I later tried to locate it myself on YouTube but without any luck. However, in my research, under the title search "dance like no one is watching," I stumbled upon a flood of other video clips: five of which I have included here. If you have a moment to watch them (they're all pretty short -- 30 seconds or so) and want to name that dance which each dancer might be doing, please contribute in the COMMENTS box below. Thanks!






New Zealand Day or, Happy Waitangi Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 6, 2008 03:04pm | Post a Comment
Happy New Zealand Day!

                                The Haast's Eagle, the largest bird of prey (until extinction) attacking a flightless moa (also extinct)

The islands that make up what today is known as New Zealand were, for centuries, uninhabited by people. Due to isolation, the islands hosted many distinct creatures and were dominated by large birds. There were no land mammals, only bats and the marine variety on the coast.

                          a Maori warrior                                                               a group of Moriori

Austronesians came from Polynesia sometime between 800 and 1300 A.D, making New Zealand one of the last major land masses to be settled by people. These people organized into groups called hapu. Over time, they came to refer to themselves collectively as Māori. They called the North Island Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui) and the South Island Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of jade) or Te Waka a Māui (the canoe of Māui). Around 1500, a group split off and migrated to Rekohu and developed a culture known as Moriori. These people embraced Pacifism which served them poorly when they were massacred and cannibalized by the Maori in the 1830s. The remaining Moriori, who'd adapted to the harsh climate of Rekohu, died out completely in the early 20th century.

                                    Able Tasman                                                                               James Cook

In 1642, Abel Tasman encountered the Maori, who killed some of his men. He erroneously assumed the land was attached to a continent off the coast of Argentina and called the country Staten Landt.

About 30 years later, the next European showed up, British explorer James Cook in 1769. After discovering the islands were in fact islands, cartographers had labeled them Nova Zeelandia, Latin for "New Zeeland," after a province in the Netherlands. Sealers, whalers, traders and escaped convicts from Australia began to colonize the islands. The traders traded metal tools, guns and potatoes in exchange for timber and sex. By the 1830s, these Pakehas numbered in the thousands. Many Maori adopted European manners and many Europeans adopted Maori ways, having been said to have "gone native" or become Pakeha Maori.


Predictably, the introduction and influx of guns brought on inter-tribal wars -- known in this case as the Musket Wars. Coupled with disease, 10 to 50 percent of the Maori died in the first part of the 19th century. Due to the perceived severity of the situation, Queen Victoria sent William Hobson, who negotiated the Treaty of Waitangi with the Maori on February 6th, 1840 which established New Zealand as a nation with guarantees of rights for Maori although the Maori and English texts are said to say different things and were boycotted by some Maori.

In the decades following, the so-called New Zealand Land Wars provided cover for a British land grab of 95% of remaining Maori lands. Many predicted extinction for the indigenous people, who instead fought for rights and began to recover. In the early 20th century, some people started calling New Zealand Aotearoa (usually translated as "Land of the Long, White Cloud") to reflect its pre-European identity.

New Zealander Film

The first screening of a movie in New Zealand took place in 1896 as part of a show presented by Charles Godfrey's Vaudeville Company. The first homegrown filmmaker was Alfred Whitehouse, who made ten films between 1898 and 1900. The first feature film was Hinemoa which premiered in Auckland in 1914.

Before the 1970s, the few films New Zealand produced were mostly documentaries. Notable directors included Rudall Hayward and Roger Mirams. Sleeping Dogs from 1977, starring Sam Neill and directed by Roger Donaldson, was the first New Zealand film to play in the USA.1981's Goodbye Pork Pie, Pictures and Smash Palace, whilst not terribly popular internationally, signalled the beginning of a locally commercially successful industry. Utu and The Quiet Earth followed.


In the 1990s, Lee Tamahori's powerful Once Were Warriors set a new record at the box office and Peter Jackson and Jane Campion began to create a buzz internationally among critics and cult-film lovers. Jackson remains one of the few New Zealanders who still makes his films at home, most other talent having defected to Hollywood only to make less interesting fair. Lee Tamahori made Die Another Day and XXX: State of the Union. Two years ago he was arrested whilst dressed as a woman when he offered a BJ to an undercover LAPD officer.

          Jane Campion                         Peter Jackson                            Lee Tamahori                    Roger Donaldson

Music of New Zealand

New Zealand music reflects the nation's Polynesian and British roots whilst also absorbing reggae and hip hop. Often the diverse bands have been tidily lumped together under the term "Kiwi Rock," which encompasses widely disparate bands whose only real commonality is national origin.

In the 1960s, when the British Invasion reached New Zealand's shores, garage bands sprang up across the country. My favorite NZ 60s bands are The Avengers and Ray Columbus.

In the 1970s New Zealander Richard O'Brien wrote the musical Rocky Horror Picture Show, which opened in London in 1973. Back in New Zealand, hard rock flourished from the likes of Alastair RiddellHuman Instinct, Bill T.K., Space Farm, Living Force, Dragon and Hello Sailor, Th'Dudes, but the most famous band was the sort-of quirky Split Enz. Punk bands included The Scavengers, the Suburban Reptiles, Proud Scum and Nocturnal Projections and the Chris Knox-fronted The Enemy.

In the 1980s, Tim Finn from Split Enz formed Crowded House, who was huge for a song or two. The weirder-than-she's-given-credit-for-being Shona Laing, The Exponents, and Dave Dobbyn were also popular. Local Hip Hop (rapped in Maori and English) started with Upper Hutt Posse. But, most celebrated by critics was New Zealand's alternative music, which is often distinguishable by an admirable disinterest in musical technicality coupled with a strong sense of melody roughly comparable to their contemporaries in Scotland.

The aforementioned The Enemy were formed in Dunedin, a southern university town which spawned what is known as the "Dunedin Sound." Pioneers in that scene included Toy Love (also with Chris Knox) and The Same (later The Chills). Flying Nun Records was founded in Christchurch in 1981 and championed the lo-fi bands that followed. "Tally Ho" by The Clean unexpectedly reached the top 20. An amazing number of talented bands (considering how small the population is) followed including The Tall Dwarfs, Straitjacket Fits, The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, Headless Chickens, Bailter Space, The Verlaines, Able Tasmans, The Sneaky Feelings, The Bats, The Bilders, the 3Ds, The Gordons, The Terminals, Bird Nest Roys, The Dead C, Loves Ugly Children, Look Blue Go Purple, The DoubleHappys and Alastair Gailbraith. In 1999 Matthew Bannister of The Sneaky Feelings wrote Positively George Street: A Personal History of the Sneaky Feelings and the Dunedin Sound about the New Zealand music industry of the 1980s, including, of course, Flying Nun.

In the 1990s, the Maori group, Otara Millionaires Club or OMC gave us "How Bizarre," which is still New Zealand's highest selling single. Flying Nun remained significant with new signings including the Mint Chicks, The D4, HDU, Garageland, Gerling, PanAm, Betchadupa, Ghost Club, The Subliminals and Adam Brand. A 41 track DVD called Very Short Films includes 41 different videos from Flying Nun's roster that is essential for people who like what has been described as "high-end pop with a twist."

In the 2000s, the British press pumped up The Datsuns with typical hype. In New Zealand, a local style known as Urban Pasifika grew out of local hip-hop and incorporated a sweet, chart-friendly sound.

Anyway, Happy New Zealand Day!

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February 5, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, February 5, 2008 07:13pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, February 5, 2008 03:09pm | Post a Comment

One thing that sure sets this upcoming presidential election apart from all previous ones in my memory is the unprecedented amount of active input and interest from hip-hop artists and fans alike -- most of whom seem to be endorsing Obama -- with a smaller percentage in support of Hillary. And all seem to share a strong distaste for anything related to Bush's regime and most things Republican.

Of all the mailings (printed, audio, video) I have received in recent weeks from hip-hop artists or organizations, the following email, received today (Super Tuesday) from NY emcee Talib Kweli (see video above of his Amoeba Hollywood instore last August), is the most convincing and articulately presented. Hence I thought I would reprint it here. Note that this is not an endorsement of Barack Obama by this Amoeblogger or by Amoeba Music.

This is what Kweli wrote:
"It is the last year of the Bush administration and thank God. I usually rail against being described as simply "political rapper," and I haven't voted since Bill Clinton first ran for President. I was following the tradition that Black Americans have had of voting for democrats since we got the right in 1964 (temporarily). Then, Clinton, as presidents go, seemed better than Bush Sr., but I did not like his policies in Sudan or the constant bombing of Iraq. I also did not like the way our government dragged us thru the Lewinsky scandal. I felt betrayed by the system, and I stopped voting, no longer accepting of the lesser of two evils.

I knew the two party system was designed to fail us. I knew that politicians must lie for a living, because it would be impossible to make good on their promises. I knew about the lobbyists and the PAC. I did not make it my issue, but if someone asked me, I would explain why I didn't vote. Most of the time people barack obamatalked to me like I lost my mind, but every once in a while someone understood. I knew that our ancestors fought and died for the right to vote, but I didn't feel like voting for the lesser of two evils in a broken system was the proper way to honor them. It was pageantry, and I wasn't with it. I wasn't with Vote or Die, because I knew that voting itself, with no real knowledge of who is paying these candidates to run million dollar a day campaigns, is far from a revolutionary act.

Continue reading...


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 5, 2008 12:05pm | Post a Comment
Nice primary color scheme on this inner sleeve series for Decca...

S-s-s-s-s-soundtrack of sh-sh-sh-shame

Posted by Job O Brother, February 5, 2008 11:55am | Post a Comment
I thought it would be difficult to find songs I was ashamed to love. Fact is, it’s much more challenging to keep my attention span with this series, so, I’m going to wrap this “soundtrack of shame” up with a grand finale. Cringe with compassion.


Little River Band had a gift for recording songs that would one day become a staple of grocery stores’ piped-in music. It might surprise you to know they had 13 American, Top 40 hits, despite the fact that their “sound” is akin to a waiting room lobby in a retirement home.

This song got a lot of radio play in Hawaii when I was growing up there – learning how to body surf and not learning my times-tables – so I associate it with childhood and a dark, iced tea that you could always buy at Kailua Beach.

This video is a perfect example of what “boring” means. I mean, even the lead singer brought a book to read during the bridges! I was surprised to see a 30-something-year-old Cousin Oliver as part of the band.

MARY COSTA “Once Upon a Dream”

I think animated Disney films are pretty swell, provided they were actually produced by Walt Disney himself (the last of which was “The Jungle Book”). Something happened in the 1970’s when the Don Bluth posse was still working at Disney – something gross feeling. I’m not saying Bluth is a bad man, but (with the exception of “The Secret of NIMH”) every movie he worked on, post-Walt, makes me crazy. And not crazy in a rad, Spuds Mackenzie way. Crazy in a “Christina, bring me the axe!” sort of way.

My favorite Disney film is “Sleeping Beauty”. The animation – based on Medieval illustrations, and thusly more stylized than any film Disney had made before, is gorgeous. The choice of colors – mostly cool and brilliant – are spooky, which is always a compliment coming from me. It’s also the last Disney film to have cells that were inked entirely by hand, which I much prefer to the computer-generated creations of today. Also, I defy you to find a better villain in an animated film than Maleficent. She rocks. She rocks so hard.

Doesn’t sound like I’m ashamed of this film, does it? For the most part, I’m not. Until this happens…

This song (with music based on the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” by Tchaikovsky) makes me all knobby-kneed. I think it’s romantic. And it makes me wanna barf. Is there a word that means both those feelings at once? Someone let me know so I can use it next time I talk about this.

FRIDA LYNGSTAD “I Know There’s Something Going On”

Known by many as “not the blonde one” from ABBA, Frida (born Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad) left the group (the closest thing Sweden’s had to a WMD) to pursue a solo career.

The result was “Something’s Going On”, her third solo album and biggest departure yet from ABBA’s sound (in interviews it’s mentioned that she wanted something akin to Pat Benetar). The album was produced by… uhh… urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

Sorry… getting woozy here…

…The album was produced by fuh fuh fuh… Phil Collins fkjdfhjlndlf knk fjklsdjlksjfsd, jhsg ueru 84urfj kfdkjgk dfgjc.gkdfjgk fjgslijtgshf hsdfui ghkjwh fjsdhfgjhs djhfgsfgu skfghsklhj kdgf789e y98fhieug hdrigiz dfhgkh jhhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhh hhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Uh… ow… Sorry – blacked out and hit my head on the keyboard.

Anyway, the album was produced by… this one guy, who’s involvement is reason enough to feel ashamed for liking it.

While my favorite track from the record is a cryptic ballad called “Threnody”, only the title track has a video attached to it, so that’s what you’ll see here:

I’m guessing she acquired that hairstyle second-hand from David Bowie, who was no longer using it. Note, too, Frida’s apartment, which I assume she’s renting on Cloud City, Bespin.

PEACHES & HERB “Reunited”

Another childhood memory, not limited to this song: I came home one day to find my older sister, Jenny, sporting cornrows. For a five-year-old like me, this was discombobulating, and there was a moment when, at first, I wasn’t sure who she was. I don’t know if my facial expression had something to do with it, but Jenny didn’t have that hairstyle long.

Now, you’re old enough to know the truth: Peaches here (she’s the one wearing the silken Glad bag) is actually Linda Greene, who was the third of five incarnations of “Peaches” (six, if you count potty-mouthed, electroclash sensation, Merrill Beth Nisker). That’s right, my child, there were five Peaches.

See, when a Herb wants a hit single, he finds himself a Peaches and… well… go ask your father.

DOLLY PARTON “Here You Come Again”

I am a proud fan of Dolly’s early, country career, but once she began dabbling in that "pop sound" we kids are so fond of… well, I’m still a fan, but now I’m blushing.

This one is dedicated to Jaime Leftkovich, former Amoeba Music employee and full-time resident of my heart, who’s birthday it is today.

MILLA JOVOVICH “Gentleman Who Fell”

As I am bringing up the tail end of Generation X, I can love all these horrible songs and still retain some semblance of cool because there is a safe distance between now and when they were recorded. For example, all the hipsters today love mid-1980’s Madonna, but back then, admitting you “quite fancied ‘Papa Don’t Preach’” was enough to get your fag-tag yanked (or maybe it was just your use of the term “quite fancied”).

Therefore, this next song is probably the most dangerous one to admit loving, so far. It’s not that old (comparatively) and is sung by someone, not only still famous, but also famous for being a supermodel. (If you never hear from me again after this, you’ll know it was because my blogging privileges were revoked).

That about raps it up. I hope you’ve enjoyed this frivolous and self-absorbed series. Feel free to share any songs you love but dare not speak their name. You have the advantage of posting anonymously, after all. Cheers.

out today 2/5...magnetic fields...lightspeed champion...

Posted by Brad Schelden, February 4, 2008 11:41pm | Post a Comment
Hello again to my blog. I have really missed you! Hopefully I have not lost all my faithful blog readers and friends. I am now officially back.  Seriously, I have missed you. But I have been a bit busy moving my life all around again and moving back to Los Angeles...again. I did this same move about 5 years ago. From San Francisco to Los Angeles. I think I might just like moving. I know for a fact that I do really enjoy packing and unpacking my stuff. And I have actually thought about being a professional packer or unpacker. I know most people really hate it. I do hate the driving of the U-Haul and the moving boxes part of moving. But I do sort of love everything else. I did get really lucky in finding a new apartment and I already had the job part taken care of. So the hard parts were out of the way. But I got my internet hooked up just the other day and I am now back and ready for the blogs. There has been a ton of music and DVDs that I have wanted to talk about already. After a very slow and boring end of the year in releases, there are finally exciting things coming out again. So anybody who says that there is no good music this year, is just not looking hard enough. I think all my favorite bands got together and decided to all release new albums in January and February. At least they spread them out a bit. The Magnetic Fields put out another fantastic album on January 15th called "Distortion." Cat Power put out another album of covers called "Jukebox" on January 22nd. I really do love those covers and this is yet another beautiful album from the beautiful Chan Marshall. The next week was a new album by Xiu Xiu called "Women as Lovers." I think I fall more in love with Xiu Xiu every year. This album grew on me really quickly and I have been listening to it over and over every single day.

The releases are not stopping. Out today is the album that I have been obsessed with since before I moved. Lightspeed Champion put out an amazing EP last year. I got a bit obsessed with it and had it in my top 50 of the year. But the full length album "Falling Off the Lavender Bridge" is finally out for us all to enjoy. If you don't like pop music or an album that will make you smile and jump up and down then this album is probably not for you. If you hate Velocity Girl or the Rentals or Heavenly then this is most definitely not the album for you. I know the album title might make you think about some lesbian self help book for lesbians that have fallen off the "lesbian bridge." At least that is what it makes me think about it. But It is just an excellent and perfect pop album full of tortured love songs. Some times musicians just get it right some time. This album really is close to perfect.

Devonte Hynes was in the band Test-Icicles. They seemed to break up just as people outside of the UK started to notice them. Devonte was obviously made for bigger and better things. His talents were more in creating pop songs and reinterpretations of musical classics. He reminds me of a high school theater nerd who probably constantly wrote down lyrics in his little journal. Maybe he might just even remind me a bit of myself. I really wish everybody could love this album as much as I do. It really has become one of those albums that I love so much that I don't even understand why someone would not like it. Like it personally offends me and my outlook on life and people when someone tells me that they hate this album. So if you hate it, just keep it to yourself. Or if you think you might hate it, don't even bother listening to it. But I kind of want you to listen to if even if you think you might hate it. Because when you end up loving it, it will be really great for you and make me so very happy.

also out this week...

"The Assassination of Jesse James by..." Soundtrack by Nick Cave

"Old Growth" by Dead Meadow

"Kiss Kiss Kill Kill" By The Horrorpops

"Made in the Dark" by Hot Chip

"District Line" by Bob Mould

"Calibration" by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

"Wishes & the Glitch" by Say Hi

"This Gift" by Sons & Daughters

They Call Me The Mercenary #4

Posted by phil blankenship, February 4, 2008 10:39am | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, February 4, 2008 09:12am | Post a Comment

Ever since laptops became ubiquitous on the club & concert scene as a live music source for artists, especially DJs, in recent years the question continually arises: are they actually creating live music up there on stage or merely checking their e-mails as a pre-programmed music mix plays?

In some cases the "artist" may be just checking his/her emails or updating their Facebook account, but most real artists are utilizing their laptops' numerous programs in creative musical ways.

And in increasingly common cases there are multiple laptop musicians in action at the same time. The Bay Area quartet Cat Five (featured on Independent Sounds: Amoeba Music Compilation Vol III), formed by Balanceman and Darkat almost a decade ago, is an example of a laptop group. With their preference being Apple computers, all four construct freeform live compositions.

And taking it to the next level is the Worldscape Laptop Orchestra (pictured left) -- a fifty person laptop musician collective who put on an orchestrated, fully rehearsed all laptop  performance a couple of months ago at Britain's University of York, led by composer Dr Ambrose Field who acted as the performance's conductor (just like in a traditional full orchestra). The group's goal, he said, is to help pave the way in music for "larger all-digital ensembles."

The Worldscape Laptop Orchestra's 50 performers each worked exclusively with Apple laptops (their sponsor) as their instrument with custom software that was produced to enable wireless communication with each computer sharing audio and control data. The full range of software functionality used in the performance included video detection where hand movements of performers were decoded by the MacBooks.

Continue reading...

Victor Gastelum Weighs In On Morrissey

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 4, 2008 02:10am | Post a Comment

I wrote about Victor Gastelum several months back when I first starting writing for Victor’s iconic art has been used by Calexico, Culture Clash, Greg Ginn, just to name a few. Victor is currently showing in a group show called ALEX STEINWEISS: CREATOR OF THE ALBUM COVER at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica. Victor is one to show his appreciation for any artist that inspires him. I got him to share his thoughts on Morrissey, his Mexican following and Morrissey's supposed anti-immigrant remakes he made last November.

What makes you a fan of  Morrissey? How did you become one?

I started liking the Smith's right when they were breaking up.  I was starting to make my own art and I found Morrissey’s lyrics inspiring. Not that I wanted to draw what he was describing but that he was telling his own stories.  You got the feeling that he was talking about what he knew.  He along with other artists that I admire made me look at myself, and draw from what I knew about, what I had to offer.  The music was the first attraction to the band though.  I like pop music, especially with clever lyrics and hooks.  The band was tight and at the time there didn’t seem to be anything like them.

Why do you feel that Mexicanos identify with him?

For me I think it might have to do with his outsider, nerdy loser
image.  He made being square and dorky really cool.  He is into all these obscure English pop artists, television shows, and movies that he would make references to. I think it made you place a little more value to the things you liked that most people didn’t know about or thought were lame.  Also the Manchester bands seem to have this thing where they are all homeboys.  Not so much pride or shame, but just an acknowledgement of where they are from.  He put a lot reference to where he was from, places and buildings.  I like seeing that, (for instance) like when an artist is from San Pedro or Long Beach and they throw that influence into their work.

What do you think of the song "Bengali In Platforms"?

I don’t think that Morrissey is what I would consider racist.  Things are never black and white.  I think you dwell on things for years and gradually you realize where you stand on something.  I think that was his view on immigrants at that time.  I’ve had people from all races express this side of the issue before.  I grew up with many immigrants so I know the other side of the argument.  When he sings that “life is hard enough when you belong here”, he either has no idea or doesn’t care, that life is way fucking harder where he thinks they belong.  The whole thing of Bengali being in platforms I think is the immigrant experience of not knowing what’s hip, like the “wild and crazy guys” SNL sketch played by Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd in the 70’s. People are all flawed and I think Morrissey is showing that about himself in this song.  I’ve read that his parents were immigrants and I’ve seen this attitude before from descendants of immigrants.  There’s an expression that goes something along the lines of “The last ones to come
 through the door are the first ones who want to close it”.

Do you feel Morrissey is anti-immigrant or just nostalgic for how England used to be?

He’s definitely nostalgic about all kinds of shit.  I think his occasional monkeying around with nationalist imagery is kind of like when I use Cholo iconography.  I know about it and I like saying things with it. But at the same time I’m aware of the negative connotations that come with it.  I have friends that hate it and have commented about a specific image, “how about (making your art) less "cholo"?” To which I respond with, “I know what you mean, but NO.”  I don't think he is anti-immigrant, I think he is trying to be sympathetic.  He thinks that things would be better for them where they came from, but I think he is wrong.

February 3, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, February 4, 2008 01:23am | Post a Comment

Vampire Weekend, Live Show at Amoeba SF

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 3, 2008 08:25pm | Post a Comment
reviewed by Katy St. Clair

It's not often that a band whose first album was only a day old can pack Amoeba to the gills for their in-store, but Vampire Weekend did it.

The store looked like the Fillmore, with a sea of faces all looking towards the four-piece band from New York. "It's a privilege to be here," said the singer, Ezra Koenig, somewhat shyly. The band was wearing the look of most young new "buzz bands" who haven't quite accepted the fact that they have made it yet—a naïve sweetness combined with an out and out thrilled exuberance.

We were seeing them at a choice time, a day after their first record was released, and on the same evening that they would be appearing on the David Letterman Show.

There are a lot of labels put on this band (another thing they are going to have to get used to). One is that they are "preppy," which is probably due to the fact that they all met at an Ivy League school, but, judging from the footwear of Koenig, who was wearing Docksiders, it could also be due to their personal style.

 They also get pegged with an African-Indie rock association, due to the intentional fact that their guitar is tuned to a key used in a lot of African music, something that Paul Simon and David Byrne have both used to great effect. (The music is actually nod to Congolese soukous music.) The band consider themselves "Upper West Side Soweto."

The band first launched into "Mansard Roof," the first track from their album. The song is jumpy and alive, and If there was one word that came to mind, well two words, really, they would be "tippie-toe."
The singer stood on his while he sang and played, bob-bobbing up and down, but lightly as if he didn't want to break the eggshells underneath. It took awhile for the crowd to loosen up, and even Koenig
noted that only one person was jumping up and down in the audience. Guess they aren't use to SF's famously stoic audiences.

His inquiry seemed to grease some wheels, however, and eventually the audience was verifiably raucous, singing and dancing along.

Continue reading...

They Call Me The Mercenary #3

Posted by phil blankenship, February 3, 2008 01:39pm | Post a Comment

Movie Myths 101-Vampires

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 3, 2008 12:49pm | Post a Comment

Whilst descriptions of vampires historically have varied widely, certain traits now accepted as universal were created by the film industry. Where did vampires originate? Well, nearly every culture has its own undead creatures which feed off of the life essence of the living, but ancient Persian pottery shards specifically depict creatures drinking blood from the living in what may be the earliest representations of vampires. In the 1100s English historians and chroniclers Walter Map and William of Newburgh recorded accounts of various undead fauna. By the 1700s, an era often known as the Age of Enlightenment, fear of vampires reached its apex following a spate of vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and the Hapsburg Monarchy from 1725 to 1734. Government positions were created for vampire hunters to once-and-for-all rid man of this unholy scourge.

Even Enlightenment writer Voltaire wrote about the vampire plague in his Philosophical Dictionary, "These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs, after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made this good cheer."

There were a couple of famous vampire cases. I, unfortunately, couldn't find any good pictures for this bit.

In Serbia Peter Plogojowitz died at the age of 62. According to reports he returned after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the following day. His wife claimed that he came to her after death and asked for his shoes. Plogojowitz was, reportedly, identified by nine victims who died shortly thereafter.

Arnold Paole, a Serbian ex-soldier turned farmer, was reportedly attacked by a vampire years before he died. After his death, people began to die in the surrounding area and it was widely believed that Paole had returned to prey on the neighbors, with Austrian authorities officially attributing 16 deaths to him.

In 1892 nineteen-year-old Mercy Brown died in Exeter, Rhode Island. After death she was suspected of becoming a vampire. Her father, assisted by the family physician, removed her body from her tomb two months after her death and her heart was cut out and burnt to ashes. The ashes were then mixed with water and drunk by her ailing brother, Edwin, who died two months later.

In Malawi during late 2002 and early 2003 mobs stoned one suspected vampire to death and attacked at least four others, including Governor Eric Chiwaya, based on the belief that the government was colluding with vampires. Local radio announcer Maganizo Mazeze was arrested after claiming to be attacked by vampires in a government crackdown designed to end the vampire panic.

In 2004 in Romania several relatives of Toma Petre feared that he had become a vampire. They dug up his corpse, tore out his heart, burned it, and mixed the ashes with water in order to drink it.


Albanian vampires wear high heels.
Bavarian vampires sleep with their thumbs crossed and their left eye open.
Brazilian vampires have furry feet.
Bulgarian vampires only have one nostril.
Mexican vampires have a bare skull instead of head.
Moravian vampires attack in the buff.
Rocky Mountain vampires drink blood from victims' ears through their (the vampire's) noses.
Many vampires are gingers (see Munch's painting above).
Vampires can usually assume the form of animals like wolves, bats, rats, dogs and spiders.


Burying the corpse upside down.
Severing the corpse's tendons.
Burying the corpse with grains which will result in the vampire endlessly counting.
Place a wax cross or piece of pottery with the inscription "Jesus Christ conquers."
Pinning the corpse's clothing and/or body to the casket.
Gypsies suggest driving steel or iron needles into a corpse's heart, placing bits of steel in the mouth, over the eyes, ears and between the fingers at the time of burial and finally placing hawthorn in the corpse's sock or driving a hawthorn stake through the legs.
Pouring boiling water over the grave.
In Saxony, placing a lemon in the corpse's mouth.
In Romania, placing garlic in the corpse's mouth and then shooting the casket with a gun.


An animal jumping over a corpse could lead to vampirism, according to both the Chinese and the Slavs.
A body with wounds not treated with boiled water.
Being the seventh son of a seventh son.
Eating the meat of a sheep killed by a wolf.
Being bitten by a vampire.
Leaving any knot tied in the casket.
Having been a werewolf in life.


A virgin boy on a virgin black horse can ride through a graveyard and the horse will identify the culprit's grave.
Holes in the soil above the grave.
Vampires usually don't cast shadows or reflections. However, Greek vampires do both.
Some vampires won't enter a home unless invited, others are more forward.
Some vampires can't cross running water and most won't enter sacred places.


A crucifix
Holy water
A branch of wild rose or hawthorn
Mustard seeds on the roof of a house


Staking (Serbs use hawthorn but Russians and Baltic people use ash, Silesians use oak) -- In Russia and northern Germany, the stake is driven through the mouth. In parts of Serbia, the stomach is staked. Western Slavs and most Germans favor decapitation with the head being then placed between the feet, under the butt, or somewhere far away.
Repeating the funeral service.
Balkan vampires can be shot or drowned.

Make Believe Vampires

        Lord Ruthven                             Varney                                                          Count Dracula

Vampires appeared in fiction with Goethe's 1797 The Bride of Corinth. In 1813, Lord Byron wrote The Giaour. His personal physician, John Polidori, wrote the first vampire story, The Vampyre, after the famous 1816 ghost-story-and-laudanum-fueled nights at the Villa Diodati, which also led to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus. The vampire of Polidor's story is suave, mysterious Romantic aristocrat Lord Ruthven. He pretty much set the mold for most further fictional vampires. By the time of Varney the Vampire (1845) and Dracula (1897) vampires had acquired sharp teeth and vulnerability to daylight and nourishment from the moon. The cape first appeared in 1820s plays.

                    Carmilla                                          Lust For a Vampire (1971)                          The Vampire Lovers (1970)

A noteworthy variety of the vampire was created by Sheridan Le Fanu, who wrote Carmilla in 1871. The title character is the first lesbian vampire. Lesbian vampires proved quite popular in film.


Despite many film buffs claiming 1922's Nosferatu as the first celluloid vampire, it was preceded by the following*:

Vampire of the Coast (1909)
The Vampire's Trail (1910)
The Vampire (1913)
In the Grip of the Vampire (1913)
Vampires of the Night (1914)
The Vampire's Trail (1914)
Vampires of Warsaw (1914)
The Vampire's Tower (1914)
Saved From the Vampire (1914)
The Devil's Daughter (1915)
The Vampire's Clutch (1915)
Was She A Vampire? (1915)
Kiss of the Vampire (1915)
Mr. Vampire (1916)
A Night of Horror (1916)
A Vampire Out of Work (1916)
A Village Vampire (1916)
The Beloved Vampire (1917)
The Vampire (1920)
Drakula Halala (1921)

Some of those are undoubtedly about soul-feeding femme fatales and not the undead but I can't be bothered trying to sort that out.

                  Drakula Halala                                                                     Count Orlock from Nosferatu

The same year the Hungarian film Drakuka Halala (aka The Death of Dracula) played in theaters, F.W. Murnau shot Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror. It borrowed heavily from Bram Stoker's novel without permission and the author's widow sought to have all copies destroyed. There are notable differences. The film's Count Orlock kills his victims by sucking their blood and bringing plague to Germany (not England). Unlike with other vampires, his victims stay dead. It was in Nosferatu that the idea of sunlight killing vampires was introduced, an invention which has since become practically canonical. And Orlock isn't charming or handsome, but ratlike and repulsive. Throughout the film he never blinks. His portrayal, though widely admired, would seldom be imitated except in Herzog's remake and Tobe Hooper's Salem's Lot.


In 1930, Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer made Vampyr. Much of the film is shot through a fine gauze and hence it has a fuzzy, whitewashed look that adds a lot of dream-like atmosphere to the virtually dialog-less film. Loosley adapted from Le Fanu's Carmilla, the vampire here is an evil old hag. It was a critical failure and Dreyer didn't direct again for a decade. It's one of the weirdest and best vampire films around.


Todd Browning's Dracula was released the following year, in 1931. It was adapted from a stage version of Bram Stoker's story. Originally, Lon Chaney was going to play the count but he died of cancer and his replacement was the star of the Broadway version, Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi. Using the same sets, George Melford directed a Spanish Language version at night with Carlos Villarías as the title character. In recent years, this version has often been heralded as superior to Browning's, which was made with uncharacteristic disinterest by the famously temperamental Kentuckian who was mourning the loss of his friend, Chaney. The Spanish crew reportedly watched the dailies after the English version's crew was done for the day and sought to improve and out-do them. Regardless, it was Bela Lugosi as Dracula who cemented portrayals of vampires which has stuck with us sense. Emotionally remote, well-dressed, arched brows, slicked hair and an Eastern European accent became pretty much de rigeur for almost all subsequent portrayals, from the Hammer resurgence, through the countless other versions which have led to Dracula being the most commonly-portrayed character in films, next to (or surpassing, depending on accounts) Sherlock Holmes.


In a recent development of vampire depictions (with films like Underworld, Queen of the Damned, Van Helsing and Blade), vampires have been increasingly portrayed as trenchcoated, leather-favoring, sleazy, posing goths with amazing gymnastic skills. My guess is this is probably owing to animés like Vampire Hunter D and Blood-The Last Vampire.

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When The Screaming Stops

Posted by phil blankenship, February 3, 2008 12:06pm | Post a Comment

Avid Home Entertainment 51213


Posted by Billyjam, February 3, 2008 06:20am | Post a Comment

i am legend will smith
If, like me, you are in the minority today (Sunday Feb 3) when it comes to the cultural obsession with all things Super Bowl and you have no plans to watch today's big game in Arizona between the Giants and the Patriots, then you already know from previous Super Bowl Sundays that this one day of the year can provide a rare opportunity to have the rest of the world to yourself (almost) when you can visit near-empty stores, museums, cinemas, galleries, bowling alleys, theme parks, zoos, city & regional parks etc. etc. With nearly no one else around it's almost like being WIll Smith in I Am Legend.

And considering that Super Bowl Sunday is not just the time of the actual game itself but basically the whole damn day for most folks, with the pre pre-game TV broadcasts beginning as early as 9AM, and the post game wrap up lasting well into the evening -- that means the rest of us (the minority) have the whole long day to ourselves to roam that outside near-deserted world. I would normally recommend heading out to parks and outside events today but with the weather forecast for heavy or widespread rain in both the Bay and LA areas today I suggest sticking with indoor activities -- many geared for all ages -- unless the weather clears up.

This is the perfect time for shopping, and at the top of the list of stores to visit I recommend any of the three Amoeba Musics (Berkeley, San Francisco, Hollywood), where you will be able to crate dig with ease for CDs, vinyl, DVDs, posters etc. And before you head to Amoeba, I recommend spending a little time surfing this great website to get an idea of some of things to look out for at each store. And today is also a good time to head to other stores that you may have always wanted to go to but didn't want to deal with crowds. You should also find parking with ease for once at most places today.

Museums and galleries, often busiest on weekends, are refreshingly emptier today. So if you have never been to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, you should go, as it offers one of the world's most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history. And for those who don't wish to (physically) visit this fine museum that is located near USC, they also offer an excellent online tour. Admission is $9 for adults, $6.50 for teens, only $2 for ages 5 to 12, and free for under 5. 

Continue reading...

Viva Hate?

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 3, 2008 02:33am | Post a Comment
Many of my fellow Mexicano/Chicano peers that have much respect and hold Morrissey in high regard. One of them is L.A. Weekly’s Ask A Mexican writer Gustavo Arrellano. In his excellent article written back in 2002 by about Morrissey and his Mexican following, Arrellano asked then doctorate candidate Colin Snowsel why he thought why Morrissey and Mexicanos were so closely connected.

“Morrissey was, in short, providing to lower- and middle-class Mexican-Americans the same dual utopian message that he had once provided a decade earlier to predominately Anglo fans in the United Kingdom," he writes. And what did he offer Anglos? "Escape from the injustices of a social order that confines them to the margin, but escape also from the limited identity options entrenched in peripheral, working- and middle-class culture."

It was disheartening in reading that at the end of last year. Morrissey was in the news for his comments made about immigration to NME magazine. In the article it suggests that one of the reasons that he no longer lives in England is due to immigration.

“ With the issue of immigration, it’s very difficult because, although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears.”

Seems quite odd for someone who resides in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in the world and with a large following of Non-Anglos to say something like that.  Morrissey supporters are quick to mention that he is a life long liberal and defender and lover of people all over the world. In his rebuttal to the NME, Morrissey states that, “Racism is beyond common sense and I believe it has no place in our society.”

Also in his defense, Morrissey explains,

Conor (NME Editor Conor McNicholas) would be repulsed by my vast collection of world cinema films, by my adoration of James Baldwin, my love of Middle Eastern tunings, Kazem al-Saher, Lior Ashkenazi, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and he would be repulsed to recall a quote as printed in his magazine in or around August of this year wherein I said that my ambition was to play concerts in Iran.”

In response to Conor’s article, NME writer Tim Jonze wrote,

"it's Conor's view that Morrissey thinks black people are OK ... but he wouldn't want one living next door to him."

This is not the first time Morrissey has gotten heat about racist/anti-immigrant stances. His song, Bengali In Platforms, released back in 1987, offended many and caused and outrage with the line,

“That life is hard enough when you belong here.”

Morrissey has explained in the past that Bengali In Platforms is a song about not losing one’s own cultural identity in assimilating into dominant society.

In part two of this series, we will get opinions from L.A. area Chicano artists who are fans of Morrissey on the subject of his music, his views on life and whether they feel if Morrissey is a racist.

Eli Roth Curated Festival, The New Beverly Cinema, LA

Posted by phil blankenship, February 2, 2008 11:35am | Post a Comment


February 17 – March 1st, 2008

The New Beverly Cinema is extremely proud to present THE GREATS OF ROTH, a two week film festival programmed by Eli Roth, director of the hit films Cabin Fever and the Hostel series.

The festival is comprised of several of Roth’s favorite films, many of which are difficult to find cult classics rarely shown on the big screen. Roth will introduce select screenings, schedule permitting. The double features have been selected with tremendous care, and will give audiences members a chance to watch these films as they were meant to be seen – on the big screen, with an enthusiastic audience.

Admission to all of the screenings is $7 for adults, $6 for students with ID and $4 for children and seniors. All evening screenings begin at 7:30, with a matinee double feature on weekends. No advance tickets will be sold. The box office opens 15 minutes before the first show.

The New Beverly Cinema is located at 7165 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, a block west of La Brea. For more information on the New Beverly, visit our website,, or you can go to You may email the theater at [email protected] with any questions. The New Beverly Cinema is thrilled to have one of todays most talented filmmakers program this exclusive festival.

Eli’s first film, Cabin Fever, was one of the most successful independent films of 2003, winning him the Filmmaker’s Showcase Award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films USA. He was also awarded best film, best director and best screenplay for his 2005 release, Hostel, from the Austin Fantastic Fest. Roth’s third feature, Hostel 2, was released in 2007.

The festival line up is as follows:

Continue reading...

They Call Me The Mercenary #2

Posted by phil blankenship, February 2, 2008 10:56am | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, February 2, 2008 05:00am | Post a Comment
As reported recently by Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, a 35 year old English man overdosed, not on drugs or from alcohol poisoning -- but from drinking too much water. For real! According to British authorities, Shaun McNamara  "drank himself to death ... after he downed glass after glass of water."

Medical experts found absolutely no trace of any narcotics in his system, nor did they suspect suicide or foul play of any kind. However, according to the mother of the deceased, her son had been depressed and overdosed on drugs back in 2005 and apparently since then had been trying to live an extremely healthy lifestyle that consisted of drinking unusually large amounts of water.

And while it sounds weird that someone could actually die from drinking water, stories of such a thing do surface from time to time. There was a case in Europe some years back where someone took too much of the drug ecstasy, and in an attempt to counter the illegal drug's dehydrating effects, drank way too much water and then died of water intoxication. Medical experts said that it was not the drug but the water in the person's system that killed them.

Another case you may remember was in California just a year ago, last January, when Sacramento  woman Jennifer Strange died in relation to a "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest by a local radio station KDND. The unfortunate 28 year old mother of three, in a bid to win a Nintento Wii video game system, drank an excessive amount of water (two gallons) in a short period of time and then tried to hold it for as long as possible without going to the bathroom. It killed her. According to the Sacramento Coroner's Office she died of "water intoxication."

Continue reading...

sulla strada, capitolo cinque

Posted by Whitmore, February 2, 2008 03:26am | Post a Comment
In Milan, Milano ... we'll be here for over a week staying in a friends apartment as we have several shows in the surrounding area, including a big show at a club called Bloom (famous for being the first club Nirvana ever played in Italy). Anyway, this apartment will have to be our home away from home for a while, and it's big enough, I think, for the nine of us on tour ... And over here, alongside the piano, where this strip of carpet is, well this part of the floor is my very own ...

But I can't sleep. It can't be jetlag, I've been here a little too long. I'm not tense or stressed, nor depressed, nor starving - far from starving - and I really do like sleeping on the floor - I do it all the time at home in LA - but I just can't seem to sleep ...

On a night I don't sleep I don't think anyone understands 'undisturbed' less than I do, its suppose to mean untroubled by interference or disturbance, I wouldn't know ... of course if there is someone else out here walking with me, they are more silent, invisible ... I should be concerned, but I'm actually undisturbed by such a threat. Hey, there it is, definition!  If there is someone else out here on the streets of Milano at 4am, and if they too are halfcracked from sleeplessness ...  I suspect he too doesn't understands 'undisturbed' (well, the chances are he'll speak Italian anyway!) and except for the fact that we most likely couldn't understand each other, this other insomniac and I could probably talk till dawn about what undisturbed means and doesn't mean to us.

Actually I'm lying, and I'm laying in bed in our temporary home in Milan, I can't leave, I couldn't get back in through the security doors ... the other 4am night walker out there, and you know who you are, is just going to have to remain invisible without me.

Records make the world go round

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, February 2, 2008 12:25am | Post a Comment

sulla strada, capitolo quattro

Posted by Whitmore, February 1, 2008 02:52pm | Post a Comment
For once we actually arrived at our appointed destination early. This doesn't happen everyday. Actually this has never happened before. I doubt it will ever happen again.

Savona is a beautiful blue-tinged seaside resort town, and a town I'll always remember as the one where we given a police escort to leave. The main drag runs only a few feet from the beach and the quietly breaking Mediterranean waves, the road only pulls away from the shore near the marina where the dry docks are filled with impressive looking yachts sitting on blocks; either waiting for repairs, remodeling or a party. Savona oozes cash, you can smell the euros floating around, wafting from the wallets of elderly tourists dressed in three piece suits and full length mink coats as they wander the cafes, shops, boardwalks and beaches. Above the downtown corridor in the hills you can see the brightly painted stone and brick houses with their masterfully landscaped gardens and patios, and whose inhabitants I presume also dine in these restaurants, shop in these shops - dressed in their finely tailored Italian suits and floor length minks.

Since we were uncharacteristically early, we checked into our hotel, the club Rain Dogs provided for us. We dropped off all our crap, I took a quick shower. Afterward, I tried to dial in something on television. I unexpectedly became transfixed by Italian MTV and a show called Star Wars, tonights episode: Duran Duran vs Depeche Mode. Unfortunately, soundcheck beckoned so I wasn't able to stick around and see who came out on top. I can only imagine it ended in a contractually obligated draw.

Rain Dogs is said to be the nicest club in the area. It's roomy with a nice size stage and with a real piano. The upstairs green room also doubles on occasion as a small screening room, and the walls are decorated in vintage 60's rock posters from the classic shows of the Family Dog and Avalon Ballroom. The owner, I discovered later, is a huge fan of the Grateful Dead. I can safely say he is the first Italian Deadhead I've ever met.

Continue reading...

The Jitters

Posted by phil blankenship, February 1, 2008 10:43am | Post a Comment

Prism Entertainment 4954

Black History Month & Black Cinema

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 1, 2008 09:29am | Post a Comment


Birth of a Nation was released. It was the most profitable American film of all time until Disney's Snow White & the Seven Dwarves (1937). In this critical darling, director D.W. Griffith dramatically depicts a mid-19th century south plagued by mulattos and abolitionists who scheme to keep the white man down and raise up the black man in what is, to its intended audience, an obviously grotesque perversion of natural order. In government sessions, the reconstruction-empowered black politicians (played buffoonishly by white actors) take off their shoes and feast on fried chicken. Luckily, the chivalric Ku Klux Klan rides to the rescue.

This version of history was angrily disputed (famously by
W.E.B. Du Bois, among others) but remained pretty much the accepted version of history until well after World War II. The NAACP, founded just five years earlier, organized nationwide protests. There were riots in Philadelphia and Boston. Cities in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania refused to show the film. In Indiana, a white man murdered a black stranger and blamed it on having seen Birth of a Nation. However, the film received a special screening at the White House, where president Woodrow Wilson supposedly remarked, "It [the film] is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." The quote was later argued to be from someone else but the film was still marketed as "Federally-endorsed."

It is still widely praised and has been for decades for its pioneering technical achievements, which, arguably, are exaggerated to excuse its bafflingly continuing popularity. Nearly all of these achievements have since been discovered in earlier films and yet even mainstream critic Roger Ebert considers it a great film, stating, "The Birth of a Nation is not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like Riefenstahl’s Triumph Of the Will, it is a great film that argues for evil. To understand how it does so is to learn a great deal about film, and even something about evil." This from a guy who doesn't like Blue Velvet or A Clockwork Orange, because of the subject matter. I guess racism is OK when it's old. You know, they just didn't know any better back then.

On the other hand, critic Jonathan Lapper wrote that, "[M]ost critics [have] developed a pattern of response to the film that continues to this day: Praise the film's techniques, deplore the film's content, let technique trump content, declare the film a masterpiece." He argues that it is disingenuous to separate the film's content from its technique.

I personally find the importance of context and position in a cinematic time line to be sometimes interesting but irrelevant to quality. The example I will use to make my point is this: If they discovered some old wax cylinders with the music of Candlebox would that mean that Candlebox were now good simply because they were now undeniably pioneers? The songs would sound the same; therefore, how can the qualitative assessment of art change based on extrinsic factors? If they discovered a silent film with the same purported technical achievements but made two years earlier, is Birth Of a Nation no longer a masterpiece, even though the film itself hasn't changed? Of course not. The film is crap and remains crap because the subject matter is repulsive, the storytelling idiotic compared to the techniques Griffith borrowed from bad fiction and the acting and everything else is awful. I defy anyone to try to watch it.


Lincoln Motion Picture Company

The same year Birth of a Nation was released, the The Lincoln Motion Picture Company was founded in Nebraska. Organized by brothers George and Noble Johnson with the aim of encouraging black pride whilst upholding the social order of the day, it was the first company to produce what came to be known as "Race Movies," which tried to balance an accurate depiction of black folks' lives and at the same time actively promote a positive image, usually (in the case of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company) through the production of family films. In 1918, John Noble directed Birth of a Race which attempted to suggest that all races are equal. It was panned by critics but popular with black audiences who increasingly turned to Race Movies instead of Hollywood's product, which invariably limited depictions of blacks to comedic Coons, Sambos, Mammies, Toms, &c.


Oscar Micheaux (1893-1951)

Illinois-born and Kansas raised Oscar Micheaux, a child of former slaves, moved to South Dakota where he farmed. He formed a motion picture company in 1919 and that same year directed (and wrote and produced) The Homesteader, about a black homesteader in South Dakota.

Micheaux's second film, Within Our Gates, from 1920, is the oldest surviving film made by a black filmmaker. It ran into significant problems with censors on account of its depictions of rape and lynchings at the hands of white people, which were probably viewed as not at all analogous to blacks raping whites in Birth of a Nation a few years earlier. In 1924, he made Body & Soul, which was the first cinematic appearance of Paul Robeson. 1931's The Exile was the first black talkie. Micheaux went on to direct 40 films, making him one of the most prolific independent filmmakers of any era.


In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, also a son of former slaves, established Negro History Week in February on the week in which both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass' birthdays are observed. He expressed the desire that someday it wouldn't be necessary to have a special period of observance because hopefully black history would become integrated with history as a whole in the future.

                               Eddie Cantor                                                                                         Fred Astaire

In the 1930s, the depression and the advent of talkies made film-making a more cost-prohibitive operation. Blackface remained popular in Hollywood with Jimmi Durante (The Phantom), F. Gosden and C. Correll (Amos 'n' Andy In Check and Double Check), Mickey Rooney (Babes In Arms), Fred Astaire (Swingtime), Al Jolson (Wonder Bar) and Eddie Cantor (Roman Sandals) all donning the makeup and cartoonish mannerisms for their films.


Black actors continued to find roles in race movies which, by then were usually white-written films made for white-owned production companies but still with black audiences in mind. Although less overtly racist than Hollywood, these films usually called for blacks to conform to well-meaning, non-threatening stereotypes with spiritual-singing, tap dancing and comedy usually being showcased by up-and-coming actors like Lincoln "Stepin Fetchit" Perry, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Louise Beavers, Hattie MacDaniel, Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham, Jackie "Moms" Mabley and Herbert Jeffrey, a popular singing cowboy. Occasionally Hollywood made films along the same lines as the actors grew more famous. Films from the 1930s and '40s included The Blood of Jesus, Go Down Death, Son of Ingagi, Juke Joint, Marching On!, The Girl in Room 20, On One Blood, Cabin In the Sky, Harlem Is Heaven, Stormy Weather, Jivin' in Be-Bop, Hi-De-Ho, Ebony Parade, Two Gun Man From Harlem, The Bronze Buckaroo, Harlem On the Prarie, Look-Out Sister, Harlem Rides the Race, Hallelujah!, Green Pastures and Song Of the South.


With the dawn of television in the late 1940s, Hollywood took various measures to distinguish its product from its new competition. Just having black leads set it apart from the new medium since only one show of the 1950s starred a black actor, the short-lived Beulah which, not surprisingly, was about a maid in the mammy mold. It wasn't until the mid 60s when a black actor, Bill Cosby, starred in a TV show that didn't stereotype -- I, Spy. The 1950s and '60s would see an unprecedented boom of films dealing with bigotry and other racial issues. No longer were they mainly targeted at black audiences but for an increasingly integrated mainstream and often, seemingly, for white audiences. They included Cry the Beloved Country, Lilies of the Field, Go Man Go, The Bedford Incident, Goody My Lady, A Patch of Blue, Edge of the City, Duel At Diablo, Edge Of the City, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, To Sir With Love, For the Love of Ivy, The Lost Man, Something Of Value, The Defiant Ones, Carmen Jones, Porgy & Bess, Paris Blues, A Raisin In the Sun, Pressure Point, I Passed For White and Pinky.

At the same time as Hollywood tried to present (invariably white visions) of racial issues with sanitized portrayals and safe stories about liberal whites getting along with forgiving blacks, independent film-makers often exploited race issues to stir up audiences with shocking depictions of racism, rape and race-mixing in grindhouses with films like Free Black & 21, Black Rebels, Checkerboard, My Baby Is Black, Murder In Mississippi, Girl On a Chain Gang, and The Black Klansman.


In the late 1960s, Julia (1968-1971) and The Bill Cosby Show (1969-1971) featured black actors in starring roles miles away from their predecessors.

Med Hondo                                        Ousmane Sembene                                        Djibril Mambety

                                     La Noire de...                                                                             Touki Bouki

Meanwhile, in Africa, Senegalese author-cum-director Ousmane Sembene made the first African feature by a black director, 1964's La Noire de... In 1969, an African film festival, FESPACO, was established in Burkina Faso. In the next few years, many Africans started making their own films about themselves like Med Hondo's 1969 O Soleil O, and fellow Senegalese Djibril Diop Mambety's Touki Bouki. These provided a welcome departure from the Eurocentric tales of colonial adventure like Tarzan, Zulu, and The African Queen, which portrayed a wild, dangerous and dark continent as imagined (and often filmed in) Hollywood studios.


In 1969 Gordon Parks made The Learning Tree. The following year, Melvin van Peebles made the daring Watermelon Man and Ossie Davis made Cotton Comes to Harlem. Once again black film-makers were making films specifically for black audiences. These films ushered in the era of "blaxploitation." I haven't seen the etymology of the term but I always assumed that the "exploitation" was of the black audience which had been ignored as a distinct group since the 1940s. In 1971, van Peebles made Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song which grossed $14 million and Gordon Parks made Shaft for Columbia. As with earlier black cinema, many of the films were made by white film-makers and because of the increasing focus on crime, inner city poverty, pimps and drugs, many felt the films depicted blacks negatively and as stereotypically as ever. Certainly non-black audiences took a voyeuristic view of these fictional tales and today "blaxploitation" is often used almost apologetically, as if the films exploited black actors (rather than a largely-ignored audience) for white audiences who viewed the films with ironic bemusement. The NAACP saw it the same way, apparently, and responded by forming the Coalition Against Blaxploitation to voice its concerns with the genre. By 1975 it had run its course anyway and it would be some time before American films dealt so often with stories centered around black stars.

In 1976 Negro History Week was bumped up to include the entire month of February and re-named Black History Month following the efforts of the ASALH-- the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History.


On Television, a crop of shows sprang up, filling the Hollywood void with not just one or two black stars or extras, but often predominately black casts like Good Times, That's My Mama, Sanford & Son, What's Happening, the Jeffersons, Room 222 and Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids.

In the 1980s, black actors often crossed over to mainstream superstardom. Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Danny Glover, Richard Pryor and Whoopi Goldberg all starred in films in which race was scarcely an issue, if not for a few jokes. On TV there were shows like The Cosby Show, 227, A Different World and Amen. Film and TV usually presented a version of reality in which racism was a thing of the past and everyone got along, teasing aside.

It wasn't until the late 1980s and early '90s that a significant group of black film-makers emerged once again into the national conscience. These directors all took a starkly different view and depicted an America with crumbling inner-cities, gang violence, drug epidemics and open racism. Spike Lee (School Daze, She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing), Reginald Hudlin (House Party), John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood), Mario van Peebles (New Jack City), The Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society), Ernest Roscoe Dickenson (Juice) are prime examples. Even a comedy like House Party has the late, great Robin Harris getting harassed by police. Again, a significant portion of the audience were watching with an outsider's voyeurism and concern. The late 1980s and early '90s were, in fact, pretty rough, as anyone alive then probably remembers.

In the late 90s up to the present, low-budget direct to DVD films targeted at black audiences have absolutely exploded as film-making has again become cheap and easy with new technology. The  range, robustness and diversity suggest that the cyclic nature of black cinema is pretty much a thing of the past, as every week sees another handful of films which most people probably have never heard of and yet sell enough to encourage more in the weeks to come. The following are just a few, but a troll through Amoeba Hollywood's Black Cinema selections will probably leave you feeling a little overwhelmed by currently prolific genre.




The Best Video Ever

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 1, 2008 12:42am | Post a Comment
This has to rank as one of my favorite videos ever. Snoop is just crazy! I like how the video begins and ends like it was recorded off a VCR. It reminds me off watching a late night video show and waiting for my favorite video to come on, then pressing the record and play. Everyone in the 80's/early 90's had that one VHS tape full of your favorite videos. The song's pretty out there as well. It's Snoop meets Prince/The Time/Vanity 6 meets T-Pain meets Daft Punk. BTW, Snoop's album drops March 11th.