Fully Foiled

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 31, 2008 02:45pm | Post a Comment

Exile In Guyville

Posted by Miss Ess, May 31, 2008 01:36pm | Post a Comment
When I was in college I made that common mistake of going out with this guy off and on who kind of excessively fancied himself the "liberated male"...thus, of course, it was at his place where I first heard Liz Phair's excellent Exile in Guyville.

I think I knew from the beginning that "relationship" was doomed by, among other things, his overly self-conscious brand of "feminism." I ended up nabbing his copy of the record though, and I guess I still have it. 

Anyway, I was really excited to hear that Phair will be taking a mini tour and performing the fifteen-years-old Exile in Guyville in its entirety.  Also, on June 24 the record will be reissued with bonus tracks and a DVD about the making of the album. 

Exile in Guyville rawks my face off-- not only is it intelligent, challenging, melodic and kick ass, but it's written and performed by a woman who has been around the block a few times and lived to tell about it.  It's quite cathartic, and even though Phair eventually traveled with the Lilith Fair and all that hairy armpit jazz, this record should not be filed anywhere near those soft, for-women-only-faux rockers like Paula Cole and Joan Osbourne.  No, Exile in Guyville stands on its own two feet as a solid rock n roll record for the masses.

Check out one of the best tracks from the record, "Fuck and Run":

Here's the tourdates for the Exile in Guyville shows:

06-23 San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
06-24 Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
06-25 New York, NY - Hiro Ballroom
06-26 New York, NY - Hiro Ballroom

Earl Hagen 1919 - 2008

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

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

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

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

At the peak of his success during the 1960’s, Hagen was perhaps the hardest working, most frantic man in the biz. Writing music for as many as five different weekly shows simultaneously, this barrage of musical demands required 16-hour workdays, seven days a week, for at least 40 weeks a year. And this went on year after year.

Earle Hagen considered I Spy, the 1965-68 espionage series starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby -- for which Hagen received three Emmy Award nominations, eventually winning the award in 1968 -- as his greatest musical challenge. He said, “It was like scoring an hour movie a week."

Retiring from television and composing in 1986, Hagen taught for many years at the BMI workshop for film and TV composers. He also wrote several books including 1971’s Scoring for Films and the 1990 book Advanced Techniques for Films, considered by many as the definitive textbooks on the subject.

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Alexander "Sandy" Courage 1919 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, May 30, 2008 09:29am | Post a Comment

Alexander "Sandy" Courage, composer of the original 1960’s Star Trek television theme has died in Pacific Palisades. He was 88.

Born Dec. 10, 1919, in Philadelphia, Courage graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., before enlisting in the Army Air Force in 1942, a month after Pearl Harbor, serving as a band leader on California military bases during the Second World War.

His career as a composer started at CBS Radio in the mid 1940’s; eventually Courage moved over to MGM as an orchestrator/arranger in 1948.

Over the next decade or so, he worked as an orchestrator on a string of classic movie musicals, including Annie Get Your Gun, Singing in The Rain, Show Boat, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Kismet, Oklahoma, and Gigi. But by the late 1950s, Courage was scoring soundtracks, including two classic westerns-- The Left Handed Gun and Day of the Outlaw, as well as some early rock and roll exploitation films-- Shake, Rattle and Rock!, Hot Rod Girl and Hot Rod Rumble.

He began composing for television in 1959, writing themes and incidental music for hundreds of television shows including The Untouchables, Laramie, Daniel Boone, M Squad, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, The Waltons, Falcon Crest, and Flamingo Road.

But his greatest claim to fame came with the theme and eight-note brass fanfare opening to Star Trek, the legendary sci-fi series which ran from 1966 to 1969. Originally using electronic/orchestral sounds for the arrangement, Courage later used a wordless melody line for the second and third seasons, sung by soprano Loulie Jean Norman. The Star Trek theme has since then become one of the most recognizable melodies ever in film and television history. One interesting note -- in those halcyon disco days in the early 1970’s, Nichelle Nichols, who played the role of Uhura in the original series, recorded a dance version -- a must have for record and sci-fi geeks everywhere!

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Posted by Billyjam, May 30, 2008 02:30am | Post a Comment

As usual, there's lots of great indie hip-hop jumping off round the Bay Area this weekend, starting later today (May 30th) at Amoeba Music San Francisco where longtime local hip-hop artist TOPR, in celebration of his latest (fifth) solo album The Marathon of Shame, will be performing for free at 6PM.

Joining the Gurp City member onstage at the Haight Street store will DJ Quest, who incidentally celebrated his own new album (Questolous) release on the same stage not too long ago.

For some more background information on TOPR, who appeared on the Amoeba Music Compilation Vol. V with a song whose lyrics mentioned Amoeba Music, read his bio on the Amoeba Music website and/or scroll down a bit to the Amoeblog interview recently conducted with the hip-hop artist who is known for his homeless couch-surfing past, his gift  for graffiti art (see a piece he did with Lews of LORDS crew below), and of course his love for booze and partying.

Meanwhile some other Bay Area hip-hop shows happening this weekend include a great DJ throwdown tonight featuring two of the Bay's best turntablists, the world famous DJ Apollo (Triple Threat DJs etc.) vs. Goldenchyld of San Jose's Finger Bangerz fame at Vessel, 85 Camptan Place (near Union Sq., SF). Tomorrow night the ever busy DJ Apollo will join forces with his fellow Triple Threat DJs, Shortkut and Vin Roc and throw down a mix of hip-hop, breaks, and reggae at Berkeley's Shattuck Downlow, where tonight (Friday, May 30th) the reggae legend Eek-A-Mouse will be performing.

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out today...5/27...cyndi lauper...booka shade...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 29, 2008 07:02pm | Post a Comment
Cyndi Lauper was right up there along with Madonna and Prince back in the 80's. They were for sure my first favorite artists that I obsessed over. And I was not alone. I blame it on MTV, but you have to give them credit for creating millions of fans out of these sort of weird artists. Somebody who looked like Prince or Cyndi Lauper would never make it on American Idol today. They would be included in the group of contestants who never make it, that everyone laughs at. I know it was a different time back then, but it still is amazing how popular music has became so boring and basic. I try to stay away from American Idol. I just avoid it because I know it will make me mad, but I happened to catch the last 15 minutes of the finale last week. The contestants are always the same. They have decent enough voices but they never have any style or substance to them. They are just exact replicas of the contestants of seasons before them. They have the rocker dudes, the high school musical showtunes people. The boring R&B singers. I would really love to see somebody like Cyndi Lauper on that show-- somebody totally crazy and unique. I don't think it will probably happen. The mainstream music fan has become complacent with boring music and is just not interested in anything a bit weird. Where is the next Cyndi Lauper? Will there every be another Morrissey or Robert Smith? Another Marilyn Manson? Where are the weirdos? The 80s really was all about the rise of the freak and weirdo. It is really amazing Cyndi Lauper became as popular as she did. She was like nothing before her. The songs were pure perfect pop and she had one of those unique brilliant voices. Anybody who was a bit weird themselves was drawn to her. They identified with her for being an outcast and weirdo, but then she became one of the most popular and recognizable singers of the 80s.

Cyndi Lauper is one of those artists that just makes me happy anytime I think about her. I smile whenever I think of her in the "We Are The World" video or in the video for "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough." I hate to imagine my life without her. How could I have got through the 80s without "Time After Time,"  "She Bop," "Change of Heart," and "When You Were Mine?" I remember being excited whenever I heard her on the radio or TV. The 80s would have certainly not been as interesting and fun without her. Maybe Cyndi should have her own reality show. It could be the search for the next Cyndi Lauper or the search for the next weirdo. Cyndi does have a new album out this week as well. Her album from a couple years ago was a pop vocals standards sort of album. This is nothing like that. It goes more back to what you might expect from her. The album is very dancey and very gay friendly. She still manages to make some super fun songs. Not sure I will be listening to it very much more, but I still love her and will most likely be seeing her in concert again when she brings her gay positive True Colors Tour to town.

The album I am really super excited about this week is the new Booka Shade. You might be surprised to learn that this is their third album. I was at least a bit surprised. I can't really say I had heard the previous two albums until recently, but as I said before, I love discovering new bands that have already been around for a while. It is nice to save some of these bands for a rainy day. I love this album. It has become my Justice album for the year. I just can't stop listening to it. It fits nicely into some 80s new wave albums-- mix in some 90s electronica and some downtempo, and you get an amazing little album. Much of the album is on the more mellow side. Some of the tracks could easily be instrumental Depeche Mode b-sides. The album is called The Sun & the Neon Light. It is very much a night album, the kind you could listen to in your bedroom or out in the city in you car. I imagine that if I had a car I would be driving around to this album all the time. Booka Shade is made up of Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier. They come from the land of Frankfurt, Germany. They put out Memento and Movements before this brilliant new album. Some people might like those earlier albums better. They are great, but this new one is really fantastic...Maybe I just like it more because it was my introduction to the band. I put it on a couple months ago not really knowing if I would like it or not, but I ended up falling in love with it. It is sort of hard to explain what exactly this album sounds like, so you just will have to listen to it to find our for yourself, but this is one of those albums that has already changed my life. I am serious. They are just as powerful as the great Cyndi Lauper. I love when music is so good it actually changes your life.

also out today...

Disco Italia: Essential Italo Disco

Health/Disco by Health

Same As It Never Was by Herbaliser

Dystopia by Midnight Juggernauts

Young Team by Mogwai (Reissue)

Sex & the City Soundtrack

Songs in A & E by Spiritualized

Edendale and the Beginning of the West Coast Film Industry

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 29, 2008 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Edendale tract

This edition of the Los Angeles neighborhood blog is about historic Edendale. To vote for more neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Los Angeles county communities, click here.
To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

hicagoan William Selig had a background in vaudeville and, as a teen, was part of a traveling minstrel show. In 1894 he witnessed a demonstration of Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope at an exhibition in Dallas. Upon returning to the Middle West, he set up his own photography studio and began researching how to make movies in a way that wouldn't get him in trouble with the notoriously patent-protecting Edison who wasn't above hiring armed goons to stop anyone from infringing on his cartel.


             Francis Boggs                                        Selig-Polyscope Studio                                          William Selig

 In 1896 Selig set up the Selig Polyscope Company with director & actor Francis W. Boggs. They began filming actualities, industrial films and travelogues.  Francis Boggs was from Santa Rosa or Newman, California (there were no census records). 

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Vashti Bunyan Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, May 28, 2008 07:00pm | Post a Comment
Vashti Bunyan's seminal 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day contains some of the most pastoral songs you ever could hear. Written while traveling through England in a horse drawn caravan and produced by Joe Boyd back in London, the record perfectly captures a bucolic snapshot of that journey. Vashti had had a brief flirtation with recording previous to Diamond Day, when she cut singles for The Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham in the mid 60s. Soon after Diamond Day was quietly released, she quit music and lived on an isolated farm for many years. Fast forward to 2000, when Diamond Day was re-released after languishing in obscurity for decades. It quickly won a new audience, and Vashti was inspired to write once again, eventually releasing her second album, Lookaftering, in 2005 and touring for the first time. In 2007, Some Things Just Stick Around in Your Mind, a compilation of early unreleased and rare recordings by Vashti, was released. Here, Vashti tells us about her early inspirations, her life on the farm, working with Joe Boyd and picking up the guitar once again after so many years away from it.

ME: What kind of music did your parents listen to around the house when you were growing up?
Vashti: My father had a great collection of 78 rpm classical records and a huge old radiogram. I have never been able to put names to the music or the composers, just very clear – sometimes note for note -- memories.
ME: Was there a particular person in your life early on who particularly nurtured your love of music?
Vashti: My father – although I’m sure it wasn’t something he tried to do. Watching him conduct his imaginary orchestra with a look of such pure happiness on his face maybe had an effect. My brother also – who was ten years older than me and went to college for a year in USA, returning with LP records and a suitcase full of all the bits needed to make up a deck for playing them on. Fascinating to a 5 year old.
What was the first bit of music you remember hearing that inspired you to write yourself?
I haven’t thought about it till now but I remember this piece of music I loved from when I was about five sung by Kathleen Ferrier that began ‘flocks in pastures green abiding.’ Hmm.
When did you start playing guitar and writing songs? How did you learn to play?
My first year at art school, I was 17; my friend Jenny had a guitar and a Bert Weedon guitar book– with the chords for songs like "When the Saints Go Marching In" and others. I fell upon it. I’d had violin lessons before and so I learned very quickly. It wasn’t long before we both started writing mournful love songs.
It sounds like you were a shy person starting out in music-- yet it must have taken an incredible amount of courage to seek a label and record tracks. How did you manage to put yourself out there?

Yes, I often wonder how I did it. I was shy around people but I did believe in my own songs. I’ve always been amazed at my youngest son, who was a very shy kid until he got on to a basketball court where he suddenly became tall, confident and sure-footed. I felt like that in a recording studio.
Can you recall the feeling of "Swinging London?" Any particular memories from this time that stand out?
I remember with rebellious pleasure – tinged with guilt -- the way that the older generation were so upset by us all. They had tried desperately to protect us from the hardships they had been through and so unwittingly they gave us minds of our own – and then we flew the nest in ways they could never have dreamed of.
When you were first starting out, what artists in particular struck you?

Bob Dylan's the most obvious one I guess. Before that Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Carole King. Songwriters mostly.

When you look at old footage of yourself, say on YouTube, what do you think of that person? Do you recognize her? Do you relate to her at all?

I’m proud of her.. even though she looks kind of awkward. She had the idea to bring something a little more real and natural into a very stuffy and staid pop music world in the UK. She maybe sowed a few seeds.

What was the experience like of finding and listening to the tracks that now make up Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind?

Eerie. In 2007 I borrowed a reel-to-reel tape deck to listen through some tapes my brother had found in his attic a while back. One was different looking to all the others, played backwards and very fast. I transferred a bit to my computer, turned it around and slowed it down and gradually it dawned on me that this was my first ever studio recording from 1964. 12 songs -- some I’d forgotten, some I’d half-remembered. I had been so determined back then, so hopeful and I’d borrowed some money to hire a studio for an hour. From this tape I’d made a 7 inch acetate demo of just four songs. I guess my brother took more care of my things than I ever did, as I had no idea that tape still existed till a year ago.
How did Joe Boyd contact you to come record Just Another Diamond Day?
Joe Boyd had seen me sing at a poetry reading at the ICA in London in 1966 and asked me to go and meet him to talk about making an album. I didn’t go, as I was still trying to make things work with Andrew Loog Oldham and his fledgling Immediate label. Two years later when I was halfway through a journey to the wilds of northern Britain with horse and cart -- trying to escape my musical failure – a friend persuaded me to go and see Joe to play him the songs I was writing about the journey. He gave me a promise to record an album once the journey was completed, a copy of [Boyd-produced] The Incredible String Band’s Wee Tam and The Big Huge and a five-pound note as an advance. It was a huge amount for me at the time. It was a whole year later that we recorded
Diamond Day.
What was it like to work with Joe Boyd? Did you have a particular vision for howDiamond Day would sound? How much of a voice did you have in the production techniques?
We recorded Just Another Diamond Day in three evenings and neither Joe nor I remember much about it. I had been singing by myself for so long, it was wonderful to work with other musicians even though I was probably not very good at it – and I didn’t know them at all. Joe took the tapes away to the USA with him and I didn’t hear any of it until he had mixed and mastered it over there. If I had been sitting by his side it might have come out very differently. When I eventually heard it nearly a year later I felt very distant from it. I have come to greatly appreciate Joe’s production now but for years I just could not listen to it.
What was your favorite part of farm life and when did you start riding horses?
After growing up i
n London, farm life was hard – rewarding but isolating. The horses are the only thing I miss really. Some were big Clydesdales, a bit dopey and slow-witted. If they stood on your foot it took a while to make them understand to get off it however hard you shouted and waved your arms around. The first horse I ever tried to ride threw me right off. That was Bess, who pulled our cart from London to the Isle of Skye. I think she found the indignity of being ridden unacceptable since she was a cart-horse. Of the many horses I went on to know she was always the special one. They say you only really have one dog in your life. If the same applies to horses then it was Bess.  She was wise and fiery and knowing. She was a gypsy.
Was there music at all on the farm-- did you play it yourself or listen to records at all?
We didn’t even have a record player. Then when we got a car there was a tape player in it and we played a lot of Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. I didn’t pick up a guitar (except to teach my son to play) in all the years and I never spoke about my old musical life or allowed anyone else to.
How did you meet Gary, who ended up reissuing Just Another Diamond Day here in the US as well as putting out Lookaftering

First I met Michael Gira (through Devendra Banhart) and he was going to put Diamond Day out on Young God [his label]. He changed his mind about it. Then Devendra put me in touch with Gary Held and I’m so grateful for that introduction. He has been wonderful and a very good friend.
Through the years before the reissue did you ever have any idea that you were considered a cult icon and that original copies of Diamond Day were being sold for so much money? How did you eventually find out?
I had no idea until 1996 when I got my first computer and searched my name. It was a big shock to find any mention, but there it was – reference to Diamond Day and previous recordings, some I hadn’t heard for years – and also a bootleg of Diamond Day. The most shocking thing though was to read good things being said about Diamond Day instead of the old derision and dismissal of it all as songs for children.
How did it feel to pick up a guitar again and write songs? As I understand it, you'd sort of stopped playing for many years. Was it the Diamond Day reissue that got you to pick it up again or was it before that? 
Yes, it was the warm response to the re-issue that gave me the courage to pick up a guitar again and feel my way back into writing songs. It took a while.
What did Lookaftering guests like Joanna Newsom and Robert Kirby bring to the experience of recording?
Joanna Newsom was so gracious and such an extraordinary musician. I’ll never forget her, tiny by this huge harp in the middle of an empty studio, playing a song she’d only heard a few times, playing my song. I was so happy. Robert Kirby brought the only link back to Diamond Day. I had sent him the re-issue and he had mentioned he was starting to play the French horn again so we asked him if he might add some to a couple of the songs. I loved his trumpet playing on "Window Over the Bay" on Diamond Day so it just seemed right.
What was your conversation like with Robert Kirby after not having seen him in so long?
I hadn’t seen him since the recording of Diamond Day, so of course it was quite a moment when I met him again. I apologized for having been so sulky back then about the middle verse arrangement he’d written for "Rainbow River" that I hadn’t let him use. (He laughed about it, which was nice for me, as I’d always felt bad about it.) He said, "We’re the survivors." I’ll remember.
What is the writing process like for you when it comes to the lyrics?
Even when I was very young I liked the way pop songs could condense an emotion or a situation. I think I try to find ways of saying what I want to say with as few words as possible. And with oblique rather than direct reference. Mostly though I have to steer clear of self-consciousness and let the words through in their own good time. Sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes in the supermarket. Sometimes not for months on end.
You've guested on a few albums from artists like Devendra and Animal Collective. What was the experience of contributing to others' work like for you?
When I think of the circumstances that led to my being able to work with other people, the tenuous links that so easily might have passed me by – I just feel so lucky. I learned more than I ever could have by myself.
Do you enjoy touring and do you plan to do it again?
I love touring – mostly because I never did when I was younger. I am at my most content when going along a road. I’d like to tour again if I get another album made.
Throughout your career what has been your peak musical experience?
Mixing "The Same But Different" [from Lookaftering] in a Glasgow studio with Max Richter. Finally getting it to sound the way I wanted it – getting the swell of the violins the way I wanted it. I felt fit to burst. And the first note I sang while rehearsing in an empty Carnegie Hall in 2006... it came back to me like a gift.
What artist/record has had the most impact on you?
Probably Kathleen Ferrier – a contralto singer from the 40s and 50s. She had a voice that nobody else’s has ever quite measured up to for me. Her recording of “What Is Life” probably affected my young soul more than anything else. Still makes me cry.
What have you been listening to lately that you've enjoyed?
Vetiver’s covers album – Thing Of The Past, a collection of Cure singles from the eighties, and a bit of Frank Sinatra’s phrasing.
Is there a song that you didn't write but that you wish you did each time you hear it because it's absolutely perfect?

Syd Barrett’s ‘Bike’ comes close.
Is there an album that you love that is somewhat under the radar and that you think more people should listen to?
I have just been sent a CD from a musician in New Zealand which has really caught my ear. His name is Dudley Benson.
What is your most prized musical possession?
Well it doesn’t really belong to me anymore, as I gave it to my oldest son when he went to live in Los Angeles 19 years ago – an old Martin-like guitar that had belonged to my grandfather. Bird’s-eye maple back and sides with mother of pearl flowers around the sound-hole. It was accidentally run over when I was going back to London to record Diamond Day but Joe Boyd sent it for restoration for me. It took six months. I had a dream while it was away that the machine-heads had been taken from it and sure enough, I was thunderstruck when it was given back to me as I saw the new, ugly, shiny machine-heads in place of the gorgeous originals. These were hanging on a hook in the workshop of the restorer. I took them away with me but the guitar headstock had been drilled to take larger pins. I never played it after that. When my son grew up he found a way to put the old machine-heads back. Sadly the guitar got broken again on its flight to LA. One day we will get it mended -- again.
Thank you so much for all your time.

Zardoz ! Saturday Midnight At New Beverly Cinema !

Posted by phil blankenship, May 28, 2008 03:08pm | 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 May 31

Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling in

John Boorman's


1974, 105 min.

New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Midnight, $7


Beautiful new print from the Fox archive!

June 7 Heavenly Bodies

(Phil's 30th BDay Party - FREE Screening!)
June 21 John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness
(Universal Archive 35mm Print! Rare Screening!)
June 28 Van Damme in Sudden Death
(Universal Archive 35mm Print! First revival screening EVER!)

July 5 Delta Force

(Celebrate Independence Day weekend - watch Lee Marvin & Chuck Norris kick terrorist BUTT!)
July 19 Just One Of The Guys
July 26 Chopping Mall

(w/ special guests director Jim Wynorski & star Kelli Maroney in attendance, schedules permitting)

August 9 Rainbow Brite & The Star Stealer

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Posted by Billyjam, May 28, 2008 01:47pm | Post a Comment

"The main problem is that generally when you make an album, you record it first and then (afterwards) you tour. So by the end of the tour the songs are incredible because they are so practiced," said Brandi Shearer, pictured left earlier this week onstage in New York.

"I wanted to do this the right way; to tour first and record the album after....This tour is basically the pre- production."  The Amoeba Records recording artist was speaking two nights ago in New York City, moments after getting off stage to rousing applause at Manhattan's Mercury Lounge where along with current two-piece band -- drummer Ramy Antoun and guitarist Chris Bruce (the musicians on her soon to be recorded next album, and who just got off tour with Seal) -- sounded like they've already honed their sound on all the new tracks enough to go into the studio and record that next album right away.

The studio recording dates won't be for several more weeks, sometime this summer when Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones,Me'Shell NdegéOcello, John Legend, k.d. lang, Manhattan Transfer etc.) produces the anticipated new album -- the follow up to last year's Close to DarkCurrently Shearer & band are still in the midst of their hectic cross-country tour with another busy week of shows to go, all part of a coast-to-coast Amoeba Music Presents tour that also features Quincy Coleman and Kate Walsh.

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Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 27, 2008 10:15pm | Post a Comment

Cheerleaders' Wild Weekend / Escape From Women's Prison !

Posted by phil blankenship, May 27, 2008 05:30pm | Post a Comment

Grindhouse Film Festival

Check out the next Grindhouse Film Festival event at the New Beverly Cinema tonight (Tuesday). We'll have two incredibly entertaining films that haven't been screened in LA in decades, along with special guests.

First up is Cheerleaders' Wild Weekend (1979), also known as The Great American Girl Robbery and starring Kristine DeBell (Alice in Wonderland, Meatballs), Jason Williams (Flesh Gordon), Lenka Novak (Vampire Hookers), Marilyn Joi (Nurse Sherri, Ilsa - Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks) and the great Leon Isaac Kennedy (Penitentiary). The IMDB keywords for this film should be enough to convince you to check it out: 1970's, Masturbation, Nude Cheerleaders, Female Nudity, and Bus. Who can resist subject matter like that!? Nude cheerleaders AND a bus! Pure exploitation heaven.

Our second film, Escape From Women's Prison (1978), is a typically over-the-top sleazefest from Italy and stars such exploitation faves as Lilli Carati (To Be Twenty), Zora Kerova (Cannibal Ferox) and Dirce Funari (Porno Holocaust). This one has even better IMDB keywords: Lesbianism, Non-Statutory Female On Male Rape, Prostitute, Sex, and Beautiful Woman.

Thank you Italy, bring it on!

Click Here To View Event Page & RSVP


Tuesday • May 27th, 2008

7165 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 938-4038
Admission: $8

Special Guest: Marilyn Joi (aka Tracy King)

Directed by Jeff Werner
Starring Kristine DeBell, Jason Williams, Lenka Novak, Marilyn Joi and Leon Isaac Kennedy

Directed by Giovanni Brusadori
Starring Lilli Carati, Zora Kerova, Ines Pellegrini, Filippo De Gara, Franco Ferrer and Dirce Funari

Lie Down In the Light: Will Oldham in Repose

Posted by Miss Ess, May 27, 2008 12:27pm | Post a Comment
The new Bonnie Prince Billy album is quite pleasing.  It's called Lie Down In the Light and it has the quality elements we expect from a BPB record-- the loose harmonies, addicting melodies and bawdy lyrics, and yet it also has new elements that make it unlike past BPB albums. 

Admirably, BPB (aka Will Oldham) is always experimenting and each of his releases has distinguishing characteristics.  This record has more piano than I remember in any albums past.  It also has more noticeable Southern influences than he's included in a while-- the song "I'll Be Glad" is a straight up gospel-y number, but kinda country-ish too, seeing as it is about the strength of God, and there's backup singers and pedal steel guitar all over it.  Then there's also the random but welcome addition of a jazzy clarinet on "For Every Field There's A Mole,"  and it all sounds seamless!

Lyrically the record is sort of simplistic, which caught me off guard at first, but upon repeated listening, I get it.  Oldham recently lost his father, and in my opinion this is reflected in the lyrical simplicity, which often pertains to showing your friends and family love ("Keep your loved ones near/cause others need you right here by/just as you need me" from "Other's Gain."), and enjoying the easy pleasures of life in the now, such as dancing around the kitchen all night in the track "Easy Does It." 

One of the very best aspects of this latest album is the vocals by Ashley Webber, who adds a depth and emotionality to her duets with Will that was never matched by his most recent previous duet partner, Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables.  Webber is apparently the twin sister of Black Mountain's Amber Webber, who happens to be one of my favorite vocalists out there right now.  I still am not sure if I actually believe Amber has a twin...I wouldn't be surprised if it was Amber herself on these tracks!  But who knows.  Either way, the voice is fantastic and brings the songs to greater heights than they would reach without her.  The tracks she is featured on are the best on the record.

Sometimes the songs get a bit meandering, but overall I think Lie Down In the Light is a good, solid addition to BPB's already humongous catalog of fantastic releases.

By the way, Bonnie's been seen hanging out around town lately here in San Francisco, and also at the Headlands Institute, where he is currently an Artist in Residence

(In which mahus visit da Islands for da kine relaxin' like.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 27, 2008 10:38am | Post a Comment

Job and Corey living as God intended.


I know I’ve been M.I.A. for a while now. Please don’t be cross. Corey and I spent a week on the Hawaiian Islands, enjoying a much needed vacation, and it’s taken an additional two weeks just to remove sand from all the crevices of my life since then.

I don’t remember whether or not you’ve been to Hawaii – I know you’ve said before, but you know me – all those purple microdots I did as a teenager have affected my memory. I can’t seem to recall what’s already been said!

Anyway, I don’t remember whether or not you’ve been to Hawaii – I know you’ve said before, but you know me – all those purple microdots I did as a teenager have affected my memory. I can’t seem to recall what’s already been said!
Our time was equally split between the island of Oahu and Kauai. I was raised on Oahu, and most of our time there was spent on me tracking down unique junk food from my childhood. We were totally successful, and I’ve gained ten pounds from the trip.

One of the many things I love about Amoeba Music Hollywood is that it has a Hawaiian music section, whereas most record stores barely have a Hawaiian music album.

This is my favorite Hawaiian music album of all time. It’s personal. This man, Joe Keawe – who I knew as Uncle Joe – was a dear friend of my father’s, and this record by him has been played on every stereo in my life. It was finally re-released on those new-fangled “compact discs” the kids are koo-koo over, and it’s available in the aforementioned Hawaiian music section at Amoeba.

Unfortunately, he’s obscure enough that finding clips of him online is difficult. MP3 bits are available for sale, but doing a search for him on YouTube yields only another, more famous, Hawaiian treasure, Genoa Keawe.

Auntie Genoa is another amazing singer who very recently passed away, actually. Despite the surname, the two singers are not related.

You don’t have very much Hawaiian music in your collection, I’m pretty sure, but I think everyone needs a little. It’s the sweetest sounds! And any of you chilluns predisposed to vintage country music MUST investigate vintage Hawaiian. They go hand-in-hand. Seriously – back away from that Juno soundtrack (it’ll still be there when you get back) and find yourself some old, crackly, Hawaiian, slack-key album. It’ll add some much needed sugar to your collection.

I realize this blog entry isn’t my usual, whimsical, non-sequitur enriched offering. It’s because, while sunbathing on Kailua Beach, a huge, man-eating shark crawled up onto the shore and silently made its way up to me – great, white teeth sparkling menacingly in the sun; his shadow fell over my trembling flesh – he opened his powerful jaws and… and… he pooped on my joke book.

So now I don’t have any jokes. So my blog won’t be funny now. Ever.



Posted by Billyjam, May 26, 2008 04:11pm | Post a Comment

Since the new over-hyped celebreality TV show Living Lohan (starring Lindsay's mom Dina Lohan and the family) premieres tonight,  I thought it a good time to re-watch or check out for the first time, if you haven't seen them already, some of the recent clips of Tracey Ullman lampooning the celebrity's mom/manager.

Taken from Ullman's current American television program Tracey Ullman's State of the Union on  Showtime are three clips below of Ullman as Dina. In the first she is captured on camera out at a nightclub -- a place for the "stay at club moms" -- liberally offering advice on rehab for her celebrity kids.  "You gotta get em in early......You can't O.D. your way in anymore."

In the second, even funnier scene, Ullman again channels Dina Lohan out in da club on a night when the young Ali Lohan falls down from partying too hard.  "Give her some red bull and vodka" is the caring mother's advice too late. Ali drops dead in this no-holds-barred comedy sketch. In the third clip, Ullman as the mommy Lohan is (again) out clubbing with her pals in a scenario where she confronts Britney's mom Lynne Spears who she feels is patronizing her.

The fourth and final clip below is a promo for the original Dina Lohan in the new reality show Living Lohan that premieres tonight on E!, apparently as a vehicle to launch the career of her next in line celebrity child, 14 year old Ali. I predict tonight's ratings for E!, which strategically also is launching another hot celebrity reality show today -- Denise Richards: It's Complicated -- will have the highest ratings of the cable network's history.

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Posted by Billyjam, May 25, 2008 08:30pm | Post a Comment

Paul Weller,
accomplished solo artist and former leader and founder of both The Jam and The Style Council, turns 50 today. Weller, who has been dubbed "the Modfather" because of his being the key figure in the UK mod revivalist movement of the seventies, was born John William Weller on May 25th, 1958. He began making music in his early teens and in fact was still only a teenager when The Jam scored their first UK hit ("In The City") in '77.  The Jam, whose mod revivalist sound lay somewhere in between punk and new wave and were huge in Britain but never equally so Stateside, scored eighteen British Top 40 singles (four of them number one pop hits). After The Jam disbanded in 1982, Weller formed Style Council in 1983 and experienced continued major success. In the nineties he went solo, at first calling himself and his backing band the Paul Weller Movement -- later dropping the "Movement" part and just going by his own name.

In celebration of his birthday, below are a selection of videos from the artist's illustrious career that has spanned 30 + years. I've Included a few from from way back in the day with The Jam (how young he looks then!), such as a 1977 live version of their first hit single "In The City," and a TV studio (lip synched) version of "Down In The Tube Station" on UK TV circa 1978, and also "This Is The Modern World" live in concert. There are three songs/two video clips of the Style Council: the video of "Speak Like A Child" off their first album, 1983's Introducing and a live concert excerpt from two years later of them performing 'Internationalist' and 'Walls Come Tumbling" in 1985 to a huge audience at Wembley Stadium and on TV around the world as part of  Live Aid.  Then there is a video of "From the Floorboards Up" being performed live on Jools Holland's TV show in 2005, as well as a live acoustic guitar/vocal duo with Noel Gallagher doing a great rendition of The Jam's "That's Entertainment." Happy birthday Paul Weller!

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Pickwick Records

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 24, 2008 05:30pm | Post a Comment

In 1950, Cy Leslie formed Pickwick Records out of the ashes of children's music label Voco records. Before that, he was in the recorded greeting card business. By '53 he was building his budget LP empire. This would eventually include the Design, Bravo, International Award, Hurrah, Hilltop, Quintessence and Grand Prix imprints as well as very popular children's records on the Cricket, Mr. Pickwick and Happy Times labels. In the UK many releases were issued under the Hallmark Records moniker.  Specializing in genre releases early on, the focus was on the honky tonk piano, lounge and pop vocal market.  Utilizing unknown session players and stock photography, Pickwick filled dimestores with cheap fodder. Later licensing agreements with major labels like Capitol, Motown and RCA brought a bit of legitimacy, but the company was still churning out plenty of fodder. A favorite subgenre of mine is the hit movie exploitation album. (I've been saving images from various film exploitation albums for a future posting.)  Especially prevalent in the UK during the late 60's and early 70's were compilation albums by Top of the Pops, Mirror Image, Kings Road and a host of other phony bands doing covers with production values seemingly just a step aboveMSR level recordings.

In the mid 70's, Pickwick began issuing albums on the De-Lite and P.I.P. labels. This proved to be a very successful venture, with platinum sales from Kool and the Gang and solid hits in Gary Tom's Empire and Crown Heights Affair... Novelty acts P.I.P.'s Dinner With Drac LP probably didn't sell as well...In 1978 Pickwick was scooped up by Polygram, apparently just to score the Kool and the Gang contract. A great move on the part of PolyGram as Kool and the Gang's biggest hits were yet to come. Universal has controlled the catalog since their merger in 1998 with PolyGram...

This Day In History, May 23rd

Posted by Whitmore, May 23, 2008 10:03pm | Post a Comment

I was wandering the web, studying ridiculous conspiracy theories, keeping track of the stock market, and wasting an otherwise perfectly fine Friday evening, when I decided to research this date in history, May 23rd. And not surprisingly, it’s kind of scatologically interesting:

1701 - Infamous Pirate, Captain William Kidd, is hanged in London for his crimes on the high seas.
1900 - Sergeant William Harvey Carney becomes the first African-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for his heroism in the Assault on the Battery Wagner during the Civil War, some 37 years after the fact.
1929 - The first all-talkie Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Karnival Kid, is released.
1934 - Notorious folk heroes/bank robbers/FBI most wanted/eventual 1960’s movie anti-heroes, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are ambushed and murdered on a desolate road near Bienville Parish, Louisiana by a posse of four Texas and three Louisiana police officers.
1958 - Mao Tse Tung starts his "Great Leap Forward" movement in China.
1960 - Israel’s Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion announces that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann has been captured. Eichmann will be executed two years later on June 1, 1962.
1960 - "Cathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers topped the pop-charts and will stay there for 5 weeks.
1966 - The Beatles release their eleventh single “Paperback Writer;” it will go to Number One everywhere in the world, even Canada.
1968 - Not that it was a good idea, but the Beatles open their second Apple Boutique at 161 New Kings Road in London.
1971 - And though I don’t believe this because I saw them in about 1977 when I really wasn’t old enough to get into the Whisky -A-Go-Go, the legendary rock group, Iron Butterfly -- creators of the 17:05 opus “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” disbands.

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What Do You Call A Commercial That Sells Only Itself? The Fall (2008)

Posted by Charles Reece, May 23, 2008 03:08pm | Post a Comment
The opening credit sequence to Tarsem Singh's The Fall looks like a Calvin Klein ad: shot in black & white, pretty and elliptical, a dead horse is pulled out of a river with a crane attached to railroad bridge.  And, boy howdy, the critics don't much like the film!  It received a 58/100 from both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes.  Without exception, every negative review mentions the commercial and music video background of Tarsem (as he is credited). That's a cudgel that's been used on Ridley Scott, David Fincher and other directors coming out of the commercial video world, often with good reason.  For example, Se7en wasn't much more than an overly long Nine Inch Nails video. The problem isn't that commercial and video works lack craft or aestheticism (as they once did), but that their instrumental value as shills for products culturally diminishes any value they might otherwise have as art.  Iggy Pop once asked rhetorically what did it matter how he used his songs so long as he initially created them for himself.  Well, is it possible for anyone under 50 to watch Alain Resnais and Marguerite Duras' meditation of time and memory, Hiroshima mon amour:

Without having the experience diminished by having seen tons of Calvin Klein ads like the following?

Resnais' visual style has been corrupted -- maybe not forever, but for as long as ad agencies continue to rip him off. Thus, as long as Tarsem continues to blow his aesthetic load during the commercial breaks for Lost (its viewers being the target audience for the type of commodities his visuals sell), his films will be taken about as meaningfully as "Lust For Life" or Moby's entire oeuvre.  Still, it takes a lot of skill and knowledge to make something that looks and plays like this:

Or this:

It's just a shame that a director who's spent his time studying Tarkovsky, Parajanov and, judging by that last example, To, had to start off commodified -- pre-packaged and easily consumable.  The degree to which Tarsem's been a success at commercials and videos -- that is, left his mark on their stylistic evolutions -- is the degree to which any importation of his style to his films will make them seem ad-like.  And since The Fall was largely self-financed, Tarsem seems to be a pretty successful commercial director. That ain't a good thing for filmic art, but it's a better job than most if you can get it.

One doesn't have to be a social determinist about all of this. Tarsem's aesthetic (wide-angled, symmetrical shots of exotica in crisp black & white or saturated colors) can be separated from the commercial connotations of its originary sources.  There's nothing more intrinsically ad-like about his style than Resnais'.  Unfortunately, the present milieu often makes it easier to experiment in ads than in more traditional outlets for film and music (Nick Drake didn't find success on the radio, after all), so any filmmaker with a proclivity for formalism might be better served (make a living) by commercial video, where a premium isn't placed on plot-driven narratives.  Such a filmmaker can learn to create effects (e.g., emotive, cognitive) with his images alone, rather than having them service the mechanics of a plot (e.g., what does this image mean?).  It is, however, difficult to separate the style of such images from the way it was formerly used.  The form feels like product placement where someone forgot to insert the product.  Commercialism corrodes everything it comes into contact with.

What's most intriguing about The Fall is the way Tarsem took what his critics saw as the portentous bloat of The Cell and made the kitsch work for the story this time around.  A not particularly gifted storyteller, Roy, spins a clichéd fantasy for a little Romanian girl, Alexandria, while both are convalescing in a Los Angeles hospital in 1915 (he has a broken back and she, a broken arm). The fantasy is a less imaginative variation on the idea used by Alan Moore for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where a version of Zorro leads an multicultural team of specialists (including Charles Darwin) on a mission of vengeance against the nefarious Governor Odious to save the beautiful Sister Evelyn. The ostentatious visuals represent the provincially limited imaginations of Roy and Alexandria. Yeah, they're kind of empty, but that's because they're an interpretation of the story-within-a-story that's being told.  Thus, this sort of comment completely misses the point:

Tarsem seems to have remained interested only in image-making for its own ends. There is never a sense that The Fall exists for any reason besides simply being something nice to look at.  [...] For a film that wants to present itself as extravagantly dazzling, there is something thuddingly familiar and bland in its vision.  -- Marc Olsen

What's wrong with creating "something nice to look at?"  It seems implicit in Olsen's objection that commercial films have to be narrative.  But Tarsem's film does have a narrative, which all the pretty images serve.  He uses the "extravagant thud" of his images for at least two purposes: as a commentary (often ironic) on the ideas and notions of his two main characters and as a fantastic filter for the narrative realism (the main story of the relation between the storyteller and the girl).  An example of the former is how Roy's story of wigwams, peace pipes and squaws is contrasted with the images of India where a warrior loses his love at the hands of Odious. An example of the latter purpose is the central story arc:  Roy is a jilted lover who's been paralyzed by a movie stunt gone wrong and wants to die. Since he can't rise to get enough morphine to kill himself, he uses his story to con Alexandria into stealing him the medicine. Odious is the Rudy Valentino-lookalike actor who stole Roy's actress girlfriend from him. After a failed suicide attempt and Alexandria injures herself trying to get more morphine for Roy, he begins to slaughter all the heroes in his story while she lies bed-ridden and sobbing, pleading with him to save them.

The Fall reminds me of two other recent films, Pan's Labyrinth and Tideland, both of which put the big lie to the notion of fantasy as escapism -- that fantasy exists to help us run from the brutal dictates of reality. It doesn't take Lacanian psychoanalysis to understand that fantasies are often more defined by what they omit than what they depict. Tideland -- Terry Gilliam's return to form and one of the best films of recent years -- was reviled upon release because it's the most direct of the three about the relation between reality and fantasy. It  turns the reality of pedophilia, drug addiction, child abuse and death into a fantasy before your eyes by filtering it through the concepts of a little girl. For example, she falls in love with and kisses a mentally handicapped 20-something male, neither possessing the moral concept coming from adult authority that would normally prohibit such a relation. In Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, another little girl finds the fascism of 1940s Spain tolerable by recasting it in a fantastic struggle between good and evil. Reality catches up with her, but she goes out believing she's a princess being taken away to a magical kingdom. Similarly, when Alexandria is pleading with Roy to save the Zorro-like Red Bandit, which is Roy's stand-in, reality is making itself known. The difference between The Fall and these other two films is that, here, the little girl (and not just the audience) becomes aware of the repressed reality that's structuring the story.

Both fantasy and realism help us deal with reality by conceptually reconfiguring blunt reality in a manageable form. Both deliver reality, just in different ways: fantasy, indirectly, and realism, directly (at least, in terms of intent, but confer Paul Haggis' Crash).  It occurs to me that the viewer of Tarsem's The Fall is in a position somewhat akin to Alexandria's: trying to ignore the reality of his commercially encumbered vistas in order to enjoy his tale.  However, if one can find meaning in the neon folderol of New York and Tokyo as cinematographers often do, why not in Tarsem's slick exotica?  At least he's not selling anything this time around.

Truth through advertising.  Bruce Nauman's One Hundred Live and Die (1984)

Able Team #35

Posted by phil blankenship, May 23, 2008 02:54pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, May 23, 2008 09:09am | Post a Comment

Memorial Day Weekend already? Almost June!  Damn, this year is really flying along. But already there are tons of great new hip-hop albums, including several that will no doubt be making this Amoeblogger's 2008 Best Of list: some of which are included in the three new Amoeba Music Hip-Hop Top Five Charts kindly submitted this week by Tunde (Amoeba Berkeley), Luis (Amoeba SF), and Kate Shantar (Amoeba Hollywood). 

Still holding strong, several weeks after its release, is The Roots' ninth album Rising Down which continues to sell briskly in both Berkeley and Los Angeles. Also still popular with fans is the Bay Area's Lyrics Born's latest Quannum joint Everywhere At Once as well as The Coup's older Wild Pitch albums being reissued by Universal (Genocide and Juice + Kill My Landlord).

A new entry on the Berkeley Top Five chart this week comes from Naledge and Double O who make up The Kidz In The Hall.  The duo have certainly stepped to the plate with this, their second album The In Crowd, which is all that and more and features appearances from such talents as Guilty Simpson, Buckshot, The Cool Kids, Phonte, Sean Price, Pusha T, Black Milk, and Bun B. Speaking of Bun B, this half of the former group UGK (spill a lil on the curb for his late partner in rhyme Pimp C) just dropped his new album this week II Trill on Rap-A-Lot.


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Happy Turtle Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 23, 2008 01:19am | Post a Comment

At Amoeba Hollywood we've been kicking around the idea of a Reptilesploitation sub-section in horror. Whilst it's easy to think of several killer crocodilian movies or films featuring man-eating-snakes, it's proven much harder to think of any featuring turtle terrors or lethal lizards. But the occasion of  World Turtle Day has given me reason to think harder. Maybe they aren't horror films, but any of these are a great way to celebrate this Testudinal holiday.

There's a whole series of Gamera films brought to you from those crazy guys over at the Daiei Motion Picture Studio.

And who can forget those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- a group of heroes in half-shells named after a group of 16th century homosexuals and led by a sewer rat. What's the text about the subtext called?


I'm sure you heard about the giant turtle at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. Until now it was thought to be extinct until he (or she) has made some appearances recently... which is supposed to portend something big. Here's some footage accompanied by the kind of  Vietnamese music you'll never hear at Ginger Grass.

We also have an large selection of titles featuring the calm, chill adventures of that lovable, well-behaved Canadian Turtle, Franklin, as introduced in this appropriately folky theme.

Maybe the alligator snapper will capture your fancy. Fear of these made me stop swimming in the pond as a kid after I saw a garden variety snapper chomp a twig the size of a broom in half. Think about how many tender parts you have that nature's second strongest jaws could snip!
Here's a scene from a documentary detailing one Missourian's efforts to save the second largest freshwater turtle by dragging them out of the muck and throwing them unceremoniously in front of some improbably-mutton-chopped philosopher.

And who says turtles can't make good adversaries? Just watch these two behemoths clash! How would you like to get powned by one of these testy tortoises?


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May 22, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, May 22, 2008 05:11pm | Post a Comment

out today 5/20...square pegs...jeremy jay...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 22, 2008 03:12pm | Post a Comment

Maybe you have been wondering why everyone is talking about Square Pegs lately. It is not just because Sarah Jessica Parker and the rest of the ladies are returning to Sex & the City next weekend. It is because the day has finally come for the release of Square Pegs on DVD! Please try to calm down. I have had a couple of months to deal with this already so I am somewhat more calm then I was when I first found out about it.  I do understand if you freaking out right now. Not since the first season of 21 Jumpstreet came out on DVD have I been so excited.  It is nice that this DVD release will coincide with the Sex & the City movie hitting the theaters next weekend. You have a whole week now to catch up and watch the entire season of the 80s show. This DVD release is not just the first season, but the whole series. For some strange reason Square Pegs only lasted one season. I am hoping that some of the bonus features on the DVD will help explain why this show only lasted one season. There are rumors that drug use somehow played a part in this show's short run. But it is true that some of the best shows only last one or 2 years. Same thing happened with Twin Peaks, My So Called Life, and Freaks and Geeks. Those just happen to be 3 of my favorite shows. Maybe those shows would not have been as good if they had lasted longer, or they at least may not have held such a special place in our heart if they hadn't been as short as they were. At least Square Pegs can finally join these other shows on DVD. I don't think shows like Freaks and Geeks and My So Called Life would have ever existed if not for a show like Square Pegs. It was for sure the first of its kind. It was the show for those of us that would later be obsessed with the John Hughes movies like Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. The show may have even influenced John Hughes. It came a couple years before all those movies started to come out. It was a show for new wave nerds and people that didn't always fit in with everybody else in High School.

I have seriously been hoping for this show to come out on DVD for years. Ever since ALF, Gimme a Break, Charles in Charge, and Perfect Strangers came out on DVD, I knew there was hope for Square Pegs. Fans have remained loyal to this show and it has some of the most hardcore fans. The show aired on CBS in the 1982/1983 season. It was on right before Private Benjamin and Mash. This was the season of some of my favorites: Greatest American Hero, The Love Boat, CHiPs, Ripley's Believe it or Not!, Alice, Newhart, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, Too Close for Comfort, Fame, Night Rider, Benson, Diff'rent Strokes, Silver Spoons, Cheers, Taxi, Gimme A Break, Joanie Loves Chachie and T.J. Hooker. It was also the year of Voyagers, Bring 'Em Back Alive, and Tales of the Gold Monkey. I know I loved all 3 of those shows but they are all combined in my memories as just one crazy show. The television version of 9 to 5 also aired this year, but I have absolutely no memory of it. It would not be until years later that I became obsessed with that show. There were also some excellent more adult-oriented shows that year at the 10pm slot: Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing, Remington Steele, Fantasy Island, Hill Street Blues, Quincy, St. Elsewhere, Hart to Hart, Cagney & Lacey, Magnum P.I. and Simon and Simon. I don't know how people survived without DVR's back then. Seriously, I think this may have been the best year for television-- or just maybe the year that I became obsessed with television. I could really describe the episodes and start of all those shows, but I seriously could only tell you about maybe 10 shows that are currently on TV.

Square Pegs featured an amazing theme song by the Waitresses. The show starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Linker as the main unpopular characters. Tracy Nelson and Jami Gertz played two of the popular girls. Sarah Jessica Parker was always "Patty Greene" in my mind until she finally played a character just as memorable years later in Sex & the City. The DVD contains 8 little featurettes about the characters on the show, featuring interviews with most of the cast members and the show creator, Anne Beatts. It even features Sarah Jessica Parker. It is an exciting day for all of us Square Pegs fans out there. I can't wait to relive all these episodes. The writing was totally hip and sharp. It may not be as relevant today and the language may even seem like a whole different language but the show is still hilarious. They just don't make them like this anymore.

It is really hard to compete with my love for Square Pegs today but there is also an amazing little album coming out this week that you probably have not yet heard about. Los Angeles local Jeremy Jay puts out his first real album this week. K Records is releasing the excellent A Place Where We Could Go. He had an EP come out late last year and has put out a couple singles and albums on his own already, but this is hopefully the album that will make you take notice of this excellent song writer. I was really needing a new Sufjan Stevens or Jens Lekman in my life and along came Jeremy Jay. He writes excellent little pop songs, the kind that will have you singing along and begging for more immediately. The songs have that little feeling of tragedy that makes you a little sad. Maybe sort of like Belle & Sebastian. The songs themselves are excellent perfect pop songs, but it is pop of the sadder variety-- the type I go crazy for. The album is not overly complicated, but it does come close to perfect. I keep finding new albums to put at the top of my list. This album easily currently sits at the top of my list. I love it. It is one of those special albums that quickly became the soundtrack of my life back in Los Angeles. I already look forward to revisiting this album years from now and getting a smile on my face just thinking about it. I am not even close to being done with this album, but there will be a point where I move on to something else. But it will remain in my memories forever. It is that good. Like Square Pegs good! 

also out today...

Lie Down in the Light by Bonnie Prince Billy

No Virginia by The Dresden Dolls

Stop Drop & Roll by The Foxboro Hot Tubs

Inherit by Free Kitten

Arm's Way by Islands

Anywhere I Lay My Head by Scarlett Johansson

Re-Arrange Us by Mates of State

A Skin a Night DVD/The Virginia EP by The National

May 21, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, May 21, 2008 11:36pm | Post a Comment




Posted by Billyjam, May 21, 2008 11:01pm | Post a Comment

I hadn't seen the movie The Big Lebowski since it came out in theaters ten years ago and hence only vaguely recalled how the "F" word and other cuss words were uttered so very liberally throughout the comedy.  But upon recently watching the short but entertaining The Big Lebowski -- The Fucking Short Version clip above by YouTuber BunnieLebowski I realized just how frequently the F word was actually worked into the 1998 Coen Brothers film script.  A lot!  Count them if you can manage to keep up with such characters as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges) dropping the "F" word..  And look for the DVD of this great movie at Amoeba Music.

 And speaking of the "F" word, check out the short English lesson on the word in the clip below.

Superwolf Rises Once Again!

Posted by Miss Ess, May 21, 2008 07:15pm | Post a Comment
I am beyond excited to report that in this interview with Billboard, guitarist and of-late Neil Diamond session player Matt Sweeney confirms that there will be another Superwolf record! 

Superwolf is Matt's project with Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy, and their first record is one of my favorites in the entire epic Oldham cannon (that's saying something!).

That self-titled record is such a dramatic and emotional piece of art--  I can't wait to see what they come up with next.  Sweeney's twisty, turn-y, melodic electric guitar is the perfect counterpoint to Oldham's rough and ready vocals.  Working with Sweeney on that record seemed to revitalize Oldham after a few years' worth of softer, more acoustic records.  (And thank goodness!)

Check out this clip of Superwolf's "Beast For Thee" performed live.  I love when Will busts out the overalls on tour (the whole entire band wears the exact same bulky khaki overalls...), then sings sad, delicate songs and contorts all around:

Anyone else wanna swoon with me, remembering when Oldham and Sweeney stopped by Amoeba SF and played the Superwolf album straight through a couple of years back?  Ah, that was a great day!

Knowing Oldham and his prolific output, the new Superwolf record'll be available before we know it-- despite the fact that a brand new record of his (under Bonnie Prince Billy) was just released this Tuesday, called Lie Down in the Light.  (Here's my review

Creature From Black Lake

Posted by phil blankenship, May 21, 2008 06:39pm | 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 May 24

Jack Elam in

Creature From
Black Lake

1976, 91 min.

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


May - New Beverly's 30th Anniversary!
May 24 Creature From Black Lake
May 31 Zardoz

June 7 Heavenly Bodies
June 21 John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness
June 28 Van Damme in Sudden Death

July 5 Delta Force
July 19 Just One Of The Guys
July 26 Aliens

August 9 Rainbow Brite & The Star Stealer


Able Team #22

Posted by phil blankenship, May 21, 2008 02:44pm | Post a Comment

Able Team #17

Posted by phil blankenship, May 20, 2008 02:44pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, May 20, 2008 09:00am | Post a Comment

Raashan Ahmad
of Crown City Rockers fame, who today releases the new 13 track album The Push on OM Records, will celebrate the release of this fine debut solo of his with an in-store performance @ 6PM this evening (May 20th) at the San Francisco Amoeba Music.

If you can possibly make it I strongly recommend that you attend this free, all-ages show, as this emcee (and sometimes DJ and breaker) is not just an amazingly gifted hip-hop artist but also a truly great live performer -- someone who lives and breathes hip-hop and understands the true meaning of rocking the house, y'all.

In addition to his work with the Bay Area live hip-hop band Crown City Rockers (who had to change their original name from Mission because of the UK band The Mission) the ever prolific Raashan Ahmad has collaborated with a ton of artists. I must have close to ten different records or CDs by other artists that he pops up on, including the DJ Zeph single "Floor Wax" (Wide Hive) and Zion I's Break A Dawn, and I know there are many more that he guests on. 

Personally what I always like about Raashan is how he maintains that old school, golden era hip-hop   vibe in his style while simultaneously somehow always managing to sound new and fresh. Yesterday I caught up with the busy artist to ask him some questions about how he accidentally got started as an emcee, the difference between SoCal and the Bay (two places he has lived in), and his new album, which was born out of a lot personal emotions, including the tragedy of his mother dying of cancer.  

Continue reading...

I Was The Only Person In Claremont Without A Master's Degree

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 20, 2008 02:26am | Post a Comment
I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Coleman when I was nineteen. I took my band's demo to SST Records where he worked. Greg Ginn blew me off, but Ron was nice enough to sit with me and talk to me about the demo and what the band was up to. Needless to say, the band was never signed, but Ron and I remained friends. Much later I was working at Epitaph Records and Ron got a job there. We worked together for several years before he left for better future with his better half, Yvonne. I love Ron. He is a New Yorker to the core. He's honest, which most laid back Southern Cali types can't stand, and which makes me like him more. His wife Yvonne grew up in the Pomona/Claremont area, so Ron moved from L.A. to settle down in the city of master's degrees.

My girlfriend and I ran into Ron & Yvonne at the Vexing Exhibit. It had been a few years since I've seen them. After hanging out at the exhibit for a bit, we went out  for a drink at the hotel across the street which soon turned into an impromptu tour of Claremont.

Corner of Yale & Second

The infamous Rhino Claremont: Where all your college record store dreams come true!

One guy did all this. tour guides told me not to open a business here. Bad real estate for a business.

The place where one of Pomona's favorite son grew up. Do you know who that person is?

My Claremont tour guides, just before they rescued the city of Claremont from a drunk driver.

We also went to the Press Bar, but a real horrible college rock band was playing so we left. Rumor has it that Amoeba 's own Paul Vasquez plays all his disco favorites there from time to time.We were going to go to The Liquid Kitty, but the terrible name for a bar and a ten dollar cover detoured us. We ended up at another bar where all the artists from the exhibit were hanging out. We tried to sit near them to be all cool like them. They probably would have lets us if we asked.

At the end of the night we thanked our Claremont Welcoming Committee for showing us around their fine city. I wish there was a Ron and Yvonne at every city I would visit in the future. The night ended with the lovely couple trying to convince a really drunk woman to not drive home, which she was insisting that she was going to do. We had to leave our Claremont Superheroes at that moment so that they could continue to make Claremont a better place.

Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 20, 2008 01:50am | Post a Comment

The Exhibit Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk at Claremont Museum Of Art was much smaller than I expected. Still, it packed the history of not only the women involved in the scene surrounding East L.A.’s Vex, but the history of early L.A. Punk scene in general as well. The Opening Reception was packed with mostly Angelinos making the trek to Claremont rather than people from the city itself. Still, for a museum around a little more than a year, it was a bold and righteous move to get The Vexing exhibit way before any of the Los Angeles museums. It's a shame that the L.A. museums continue to ignore their own homegrown artists while the rest of the world celebrates us.

Most of the images shown were the same as a show that I was fortunate to catch at the original Tia Chucha’s Café about a year and a half ago. There were also many interesting new displays that caught my eye. One was a piece that took an entire wall that was a blown up Thomas Guide map of Los Angeles from West L.A. to East L.A. On the map were key points of interests from that era, such as the rehearsal space where the East Los punk bands used to practice, and the location of the backyard party where the members of the band X first saw all the East L.A. bands. It showed all the punk rock hangouts and all the clubs from that era that are now long gone. I also enjoyed looking at the original Fatima Records promotional and gig posters. The other day at Amoeba I saw someone about to buy The Plugz Better Luck for $3.99!  What a steal! Coincidently, you can still buy the original Fatima Records issue of The Brat E.P. Attitudes from the band whenever they play a show, which has been more frequent over the last couple of years.

Another point of interest was a glass case that had a photo copied poetry fanzine made by Exene along with a lyric sheet handwritten by John Doe for the song "White Girl." It occurred to me after looking at those two items how much East Los influence the band X. X was a band that wore L.A. on its sleeve in general but they really adopted classic iconic Latino images in their artwork; the Catholic saint candles, rosaries, the raccoon make-up, even Joe Doe’s handwriting in the notebook reflected East Los' affect on him. His handwriting looked like the classic seventies Mexican gang graffiti style, with punk rock overtones.

One of the art pieces was a portable record player with headphones that had a loop of some of the best songs that came from that era from such bands as The Plugz, Alice Bag, The Stains, and The Brat as well as some of the newer bands such as Go Betty Go!

I didn't catch much of the live performances. The sound wasn't great and it was hard to see if you weren't in the front. The 98 degree weather didn't help matters much.

The show wasn’t made to be the end-all for all East Los bands. One could argue that there was a big gap between what happened in the eighties up to the exhibition's representation of the current crop (Lysa Flores, Go Betty Go!)  such as the many East Los bands that played the clubs, benefits and the backyard circuit since the days the Vex closed its doors. What the exhibit did was to capture a time, place and a mentality. It was a time in which community was built between people that didn’t fit in anywhere, in neither the Anglo world nor the Latino world. These 80s bands were the first, and all of us who followed after have had it much easier because of them. On top of that that, they did it with style and they left an artistic legacy that has been difficult to top.

Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk runs from May 18 - August 31, 2008
at the Claremont Museum of Art In the Packing House.

536 West First Street
Claremont, CA 91711

Able Team #16

Posted by phil blankenship, May 19, 2008 02:33pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, May 19, 2008 01:01pm | Post a Comment
MUTO :  A wall-painted animation by BLU on Vimeo.

Thanks to Amoeba Marc for finding MOTO -- the above cool wall painted animation by BLU, an ambiguous animation painted on public walls in Buenos Aires and beyond.

Shady Grove

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 19, 2008 11:00am | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, May 19, 2008 08:35am | Post a Comment

As reported over the weekend by Variety magazine, the two stars of hit UK television comedy Little Britain -- Matt Lucas and David Walliams -- just signed a US movie deal and hence currently have two new Little Britain films on the way, in addition to the US version of their popular British TV show which will air on HBO

Variety magazine confirmed that the witty UK duo are developing a project with US studio DreamWorks in the US. Meanwhile back in England they are working on a second film project with the British studio Working Title (Hot Fuzz, Atonement, etc.).

The US version of their television show for HBO will be a six-part series will that will air this year on the cable network. The scenario is similar to the production deal that HBO had with Sacha Baron Cohen a few years ago when they produced a US version of his then-popular UK TV show Da Ali G Show (featuring his Borat character) that was adjusted slightly with US audiences in mind.

The new US version of Little Britain, which aired on BBC America in its original form, has been described by its producers as "a sketch show set in contemporary America."  In an interview with the BBC, Walliams said that the new HBO version of the TV show will include "some existing characters and writing new material for them, as well as introducing new characters and ideas." 

Little Britain, which is available at Amoeba Music on DVD in its original UK TV format, has an interesting history. It started out its life not on TV but  as a radio program seven years ago. That led to it becoming a stage show and then the characters went mainstream with their popularity on the BBC TV series that followed. That UK show won them eight Royal Television Society awards, three Baftas and an International Emmy for their stable of funny characters, including Lou and Andy (see clip below when the pair go to the swimming pool -- a sketch that is among the show's most popular).

Continue reading...

Able Team #14

Posted by phil blankenship, May 18, 2008 02:33pm | Post a Comment

Andy Cabic of Vetiver Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, May 18, 2008 10:30am | Post a Comment
San Francisco band Vetiver's latest album, consisting entirely of hand-selected covers, Thing of the Past, will be released today, May 6! I spoke to frontman Andy Cabic about the recording of the album, the frustration of his first guitar, and his new obsession with the mushrooms in his backyard.

Miss Ess: What is your first musical memory?

Andy Cabic: I have an odd memory of a large sunlit room with light hardwood floors, very reflective and bright, and a there being a step in front of me, and as I'm crawling towards it, Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day" is playing. I grew up listening to a lot of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers and stuff like that,'s possible this was an early apartment of my parents’ or something, I'm not really sure. It's one of those weird memories that feels like a dream and I'm not really certain of anything solid about it except for its strength in my mind and how vivid the light and the scene are when I remember it.
ME: What was the first record that really blew your mind and made you think about making music your life?  What albums formed your young musical mind?

AC: Well, I don't know that any one record made me come to a decision to make music my life. I just sort of played music, and looked back one day and realized music had become my life and there wasn't a whole lot else I seemed able to do. Whoops!

Growing up, the public library near my father's house was very good. I used to visit it every weekend I spent with him and check out cassettes, as many as I could, and a lot of what I found there had a big influence on me. VU by the Velvet Underground and At Yankee Stadium by NRBQ are two albums I remember renewing for months from the library. I grew up in the suburbs with no older siblings, pretty out-of-the-loop from any signposts pointing the way towards what "the good stuff" was, so...I would spend all my allowance on cassettes, read Star Hits magazine and Tower Records' Pulse, watch 120 Minutes every Sunday on MTV and just figure out stuff through trial and error. I loved anything out of Athens, GA and Minneapolis, and bands like Rain Parade, Camper Van Beethoven, Big Star and Fugazi meant a lot to me growing up.

When did you pick up your first instrument?

I talked my mother into getting me a Martin Stinger, sort of their bottom-of-the-line copy of a Stratocaster, when I was about 16. I took some piano lessons before that, but I hated practicing and that didn't last too long. I remember the salesman at the guitar store pulling down the guitar and plugging it in and laying this line on me, "See kid, this guitar can do anything! Say you want to sound like Prince...," and he switched to the neck pickup and played and sounded just like Prince, "or maybe Bruce Springsteen," and he switched to the bridge pickup and played just like the Boss. Thoroughly impressed, I told my mom, "See!? This guitar can do it ALL!" Then I took it home and couldn't get it to do anything but make half-assed plunky sounds and barely coherent chords for years. I’m still having trouble, and I don't even have that guitar anymore!

You grew up in Virginia. What brought you to SF and what keeps you here when we all know the major difficulties in coming up with rent, practice space, etc?

I came here because friends had an apartment with a room the size of a mattress that I lived in for around $150 for the first year or so I was out here. I've managed to somehow maintain an apartment with reasonable rent all the while. I love all my friends out here, the Pacific light, the low blanched, pastel buildings, Golden Gate park, everything about the city, really. I seem to travel a lot, and never fail to be relieved, excited and grateful to return here after every trip. I haven't had a practice space since my early days playing with Tussle. Vetiver usually just plays at low volume in our living room before most tours and I work out stuff on my own, quietly at home.

Vetiver has been an important band on the SF scene for the last at least 5 years. What do you think of the SF scene right now and how do you think it's changed over the time that you have been here?

Well, I feel a little more aloof and slightly more disconnected than I've been in years past at the moment, partially because I live in a neighborhood in the city at a slight remove from where stuff happens, and partially because I'm gone a lot. Most of the groups I go out to see have friends of mine in them, but they're all kicking ass right now. The Oh Sees, Deerhoof, Kelley Stoltz, Citay, Papercuts, Colossal Yes, Tussle, Erase Errata. Most of the people I've known since I arrived here are still active and making good music, so...that's pretty inspiring.

Your new album is all covers and I'm excited about it because I have always admired your discerning cover choices. How do you narrow it down and select covers, especially when you are creating a full album of them? What is it about the songs that appealed to you?

Thanks. I just thought these were great tunes that deserved a chance to be heard again and would be fun to play. We recorded about twenty songs and the ones that came out best made the album. Most of the songs are either ones we've played out live a few times or ones that we dug and I thought we could connect with in a good way. I have a penchant for finding older, somewhat forgotten albums, and falling deeply for a song or two on them. I’ve done that over and over in my life, and some of those songs appear here. 

So I remember reading that for your last album one of your sonic influences was Fleetwood Mac.  Who or what influenced the particular sound of this new album? It's especially interesting because you are taking other people's songs and putting your own stamp on them, while also creating a cohesive record.

I think the main influences on the album are the versions of the songs and the styles of the performers whose tunes we were trying to record, really. The sound of this album has a lot to do with the studio we tracked in (The Hanger in Sacramento), the fact that this is the first Vetiver album where all the basic tracks were recorded live, and the interesting collision that happens when your band has a tendency to sound one way, yet you strive to do justice to someone else's song and embody their sound in your performance. It's one of the reasons playing covers can be transformative and greater somehow than the sum of the parts. You work to find some space where your own style and the style of the song you are recording meet. Whether that place is familiar or new to what you are used to, the results can be pleasantly surprising and lead to unexpected musical insights.

What made you decide to record the album in Sacramento and LA? Was it the equipment in the studios? Friends nearby?

The Hanger is where Thom and I had mixed To Find Me Gone.  Everyone there is amazing, the gear is great, and it's a familiar place with a lot of space to try things out. Although Thom and I have worked on many projects there, this was the first album he had both tracked and mixed there from start to finish and that was something we had talked about doing with this album.

I see that Michael Hurley and Vashti Bunyan contributed to the new album. I know they are great friends of yours, so how was it working with them on your own project? What kind of experiences did they bring to the table that you learned from?

Well, I was honored they shared their time with us.  Hurley stayed at the house we had up in Sacramento for nearly the whole session, waiting for a part to arrive for his car and just generally hanging out and spicing up some of the takes. He is a fun person and one of my all-time favorite songwriters, and it was wonderful getting to know him better and just to be around him more. He has an intuitive approach to harmony that seems easy, but is really very nuanced and can be hard to follow. He keeps you on your toes. 

Vashti happened to be in LA for much of last summer, staying not very far from where Thom lives, so she came over one afternoon and sang on a song we had sung together when we toured a year or two back. She has one of my favorite smiles and laughs, not to mention voices, and it was a treat to be able to record a song with her and finally bring her over to Thom's.  Worlds colliding. I'm a quiet singer used to singing backing vocals, but fitting my voice inside hers was a challenge and a treat.

So you and Thom Monahan produced the record -- what was the philosophy behind the production work, if any?

I don't think we've ever really sketched out a philosophy. Thom is one of my closest friends and we communicate really well together. We are usually after the same result and have a very easy-going way of getting there. I consider him an integral part of any Vetiver album and I look forward to every time we get to work together.

It's very interesting how bunches of amazing music will crop up in particular places at particular times in history. What musical time and place do you wish you had lived in? Like, I wish I was in Bearsville in the late 60s, or Marin County in the early and mid 70s sometimes. Is there a musical moment and place you ever wistfully wish to have been a part of? Or at least a fly on the wall of?

Those two musical moments are favorites of mine, to be sure. New York city in the mid-70s would seem to be another fertile time and place.

You were kind enough to DJ here at Amoeba a few months back. When you are DJing, what song or series of songs is your "secret weapon"-- guaranteed to get people out on the dance floor or to bring the party up a notch?

Yikes! I’m not sure...the one-two punch of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit In The Sky" and Bowie's "Sound And Vision" usually does the trick, but perhaps that says more about what me and my friends consider danceable. 

You've turned me on to all kinds of different music in the past. What have you been listening to lately?

I’ve been revisiting Unrest's Imperial FFRR album, which was a favorite of mine in the 90s. Sonoko's La Debutante has been on repeat a lot lately, along with the new album from Sebastien Tellier. Sadistic Mika Band, Sopwith Camel, and when in doubt...always Skeeter Davis!

I know you are into electronic music. What album or artist would you recommend to someone who is typically more into organic, melodic music?

Perhaps Sakura or Symbol by Susumu Yokota. I am a big fan of his work. Or Wearemonster by Isolée, if they want to ramp it up a bit. That's a great album.

You are a big fan of vinyl. What is it about the format that makes it your favorite?

I like vinyl because used records are usually cheap. I love the large cover art. I also like the time limit it imposes. I like getting up every fifteen minutes to flip a record over or make a new decision about what to listen to and put the kettle on.  The stereo you see on the cover of Thing Of The Past is the one I use at home and it makes my vinyl sound great.

What has been your best find at Amoeba?

Mmm...good question! Well, I've found every single Virginia Astley album in the dollar bin there. I don't know if that's objectively a "best find," but I love her stuff. My old roommate Ben Grass has the best Amoeba luck. He found and gave me my copy of Acnalbasac Noom by Slapp Happy that he got at Amoeba SF for my birthday. What a guy! Thanks again, Ben.

Who is your favorite local band?

The Grateful Dead.

You've traveled the world touring. Any favorite cities or venues to play? 

Zürich and Amsterdam are two of my favorite cities. The Great American here in SF is one of my favorite venues to play.

Name a record that you love more than anything and that you think more people should know about.

How I Learned To Write Backwards by The Aislers Set. Amy Linton writes such amazing songs. I can't wait to hear what she does next.

What song or album makes you pissed off every time you hear it cause it's so fabulous you wish you had written it?

Pissed off? Oh, I wouldn't get pissed off about that kind of thing. I envy Jerry Jeff Walker's voice on his self-titled album from 1972. When he sings all relaxed and low it is a truly great sound.  

How did this latest tour with Gary Louris go? What is it like to be playing a set of your own and then becoming part of the backing band for the other portion of the night? What are the particular challenges and benefits of it?

The tour was a lot of fun. Gary is a very talented songwriter and a great guitar player.  Backing him up on the harmonies to old Jayhawks tunes like "I'd Run Away" and "Blue" was not something I'd ever imagined getting the chance to do, was a thrill.  Playing twice a night was actually kind of great. I’ve done that before playing in Devendra's band and having Vetiver open up the night. As long as you're in good health and your voice is holding up, you are usually pretty warmed up after the first set and are just relaxed and ready to keep playing for a little while more. I've always enjoyed playing with other people, singing harmony and sharing the stage, so to speak, was a great time.

Is there a particular album that was written or created in the Bay Area that you feel captures the distinct sound of our home? It can be old or new. [My choice is, of course, If I Could Only Remember My Name.]

That is a good choice. Right now, I've been captivated by Miss Abrams & The Strawberry Point Fourth Grade Class by Rita Abrams. I think it may have been recorded at Wally Heider's around the same time If I Could Only Remember My Name was. That album sounds like the bay breeze drifting through a playground.

You’re right—thanks to you, I’ve heard that record and when I hear it I can smell the tanbark and hear the bounce of a ball! You worked in a book store for a while before you became a full-time musician.  What novels have inspired you and helped shape the way you look at your own song writing and/or music?

Charles Portis is an author I revere. Mario de Andrade's Macunaima, Miguel Asturias' Mulata, and Jaime de Angulo's Indians In Overalls are all favorites. Robert Walser, James Purdy, John Berryman, Robert Creeley, Paul & Jane Bowles and Mikhail Bulgakov are all fantastic.

Alissa told me that you have recently become obsessed with mushrooms. I know that you are into gardening in general, but what got you into mushroom hunting and have you gotten out there yet and found any? What kinds? What do you cook with them?

Well, I went to the fungus fair in Oakland last fall, which was a lot of fun. I am not a member of the mycological society around here, and my mushroom hunting skills are next to nonexistent. We did find some Pink Spikes in our back yard, but they didn't taste too good, and that was after we dried them, which I had read was the best approach to cooking them. I want to join the society so I can hunt in the company of more experienced gatherers and travel to some of the good spots in the area for mushrooms. I just haven't found the time yet.

Thanks so much for your time right now! 


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

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

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

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

Back to my summer movies

Dead Easy

Posted by phil blankenship, May 17, 2008 09:13pm | Post a Comment

Virgin Vision #70073

2nd anniversary of Hyaena/a visit to Ravensville May 16-31

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 17, 2008 08:45pm | Post a Comment

Burbank is a city full of little surprises -- over the years I've found a fair share of pleasant surprises scattered across the low lying, rather sleepy little town. Across the street from the fabulous Safari Inn is one of the finest Burbank secrets...Hyaena Gallery. Started by ex-Bostonians Bill & Sherry Shaefer, the space has hosted dozens of art openings, most all of them of a dark or somewhat devious nature. This week marks the beginning of their 3rd year, so come down and check out artist Erin Martinez's collection.  While you're at it, pick up some odd literature, bondage themed hi-ball glasses, or a lovely Art Frahm print.

                  Hyaena Gallery   1928 W. Olive Ave. Burbank, CA   91506   1-818-972-2448


Posted by Billyjam, May 17, 2008 08:10am | Post a Comment

Earlier this week upon hearing the news involving the highly emotional but equally ridiculous actions of hip-hopper Papoose, the fiancĂ© of jailed rapper Remy Ma, the voice of Dr. Phil popped into my head and I could just hear the TV psychologist uttering his trademark words to the "Mix Tape King" Papoose: "What were you thinking?" 

Really though! On Monday when he was scheduled to wed his lady behind bars, Papoose (born Shamele Mackie) attempted to sneak a skeleton handcuff key into Rikers Island where he was headed to the New York City jail's altar.

Once guards found the key on him he got ejected from Rikers and banned from the facility for six months.  What a dummy!  Everyone (especially gangsta rap aficionados) should know that whenever you go visit someone in jail or prison that they search you thoroughly from head to toe, and often beyond. What were you thinking, Papoose? 

And if that ain't enough, then the following day when Remy Ma (born Reminisce Smith), who was arrested for last summer outside a downtown NYC club allegedly shooting her former friend Makeda Barnes-Joseph (who she said robbed $3000 cash out of her purse), got sentenced in the New York Supreme Court to eight years in prison, Papoose was in the (court) house and was not happy. "Fuck you. Put me in jail muthafuckers!" and "Lock me up! Fuckin lock me up" were among the impassioned wishes the visibly emotional Papoose shouted towards court officers upon Remy's sentencing.

Continue reading...

Mazes And Monsters

Posted by phil blankenship, May 16, 2008 10:39pm | Post a Comment

Karl Lorimar Home Video 355


Posted by Billyjam, May 16, 2008 07:24am | Post a Comment

With gas prices going through the roof and environmental issues on the rise in most peoples' minds, riding one's bike to work/school/store etc. now makes more sense than ever.

And as you probably already know, this month is 'bike month,' with this week (May 12 - May 16th) being bike-to-work week with different regions recognizing different days as "bike to work day" this week. Today (May 16th) is bike to work day in New York City.

Yesterday, Thursday May 15th, was the official ride-to-work-day in many other places, including San Francisco, where many people cycled to and from their respective places of employment with many coordinated events taking place.  One such event was organized by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, who yesterday had their Bike Away from Work Party centered at The Rickshaw Stop, where bikers on their commute home could stop and unwind (they even had valet bike parking provided) and share stories and biking tips with fellow cyclists.

But really any day is a good day to ride a bike (with helmet of course). It is healthy and cheap and even if you work or go to school an impossible cycling distance from your home you can always cycle part of the way and either A) lock up your bike where you board a bus or train or B) bring the bike with you on the bus or train or C) throw the bike in the back of your car, drive most of the long distance, and cycle the last few miles to your destination. One interesting statistic posted this week by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition on their website is that almost 40% of Bay Area commuters live within five miles of their workplace -- which is the ideal distance for a bicycle commute. 

The fine organization Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) is meeting up at 6PM today (May 16th) at Mama Buzz Cafe at 2318 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland for an all-volunteer bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group with music and beverages and lots of information on bike and pedestrian projects in Oakland.  Meanwhile, up in Seattle, today Starbucks (who, remember, were once a small hometown coffee business in the north west town) are organizing a bike to work day today (May 16th)  Info
For information on other bike events this month in places in and beyond California, check out the League of American Bicyclists website.  Meanwhile, the Bike Month NYC group is really well organized with lots of great events -- you can find more info here.


Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 16, 2008 01:04am | Post a Comment

Reading about East L.A. punk while in high school was inspiration. I had known about Los Lobos and knew about the 60’s Chicano bands like El Chicano and Tierra. However, these punk bands were Chicanos and around my age, playing music that I was into. It made me feel less like a freak to know there were others just like me somewhere in the barrios of East Los Angeles. Hippies wanted to move to San Francisco, rockers to the Sunset Strip and I wanted to move to East L.A.

On Saturday, The Claremont Museum of Art will present Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk, which will run from May 18 to August 31, 2008. There will be live performances by Vexing artists Teresa Covarrubias (Lead Singer from The Brat) Angela Vogel, Lysa Flores and Alice Bag. I have been looking forward to this exhibit since I heard about it a few months back. The women that are featured in this exhibit were the pioneers of a thriving women's art movement that is happening now in East L.A.

2008 has been turning out to be the year for Retro-Chicano art. LACMA’s Phantom Sightings: Art After The Chicano Movement is currently showing and starting June 15th, LACMA will also feature Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A.: Selections from the Cheech Marin Collection.

I found some great articles on East L.A. Punk, Vex era and Beyond. The first one is written by Josh Kun and is the story of the Vex. The second one comes from Jimmy Alvarado, who wrote about the history of all the EAST L.A. punk bands that not many have heard about. In this article originally written for Razorcake Magazine. Jimmy covers the minions of pre and post Vex bands as well as all the backyard party giants that were huge in the East Los backyard scene.


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 15, 2008 10:40pm | Post a Comment
Ahhh, my favorite LP oddity. The Mercury/Wing/Emarcy shellac ghosting effect. It seems that something in the printing process that this family of labels used for their 50's sleeves lent itself to clouding up underneath the shellac. You occasionally see it on other releases, but most often it's the Mercury and related LP's that have the best "ghosting."  Truly stunning!

Able Team #13

Posted by phil blankenship, May 15, 2008 02:41pm | Post a Comment

out today 5/13...the black angels...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 15, 2008 11:09am | Post a Comment
I have been really obsessed with My Morning Jacket lately. We still have a couple weeks to wait for the new album, but I get more and more excited as the weeks go on. I picked up most of their albums last year after I got obsessed with them, and it was all because of that little Bob Dylan movie called I'm Not There. It just came out on DVD last week and I really recommend that you check it out if you have not done so yet. Most people who have seen it either love it or hate it -- there is not much in between. I really loved it, which says a a lot since I am not really a big fan of Bob Dylan. I respect the man and am glad that he exists and I understand his effect on millions of people, he is just not really my kind of musician. But I am a big fan of the biopic. Maybe I am just too lazy to read that many books, but I love learning about musicians lives and seeing their stories up on the big screen, even if it is just narrowly based on some sort of reality. But the movie did really get me into My Morning Jacket, which is great. I always worry that I have already discovered and gotten into all the bands that I am going to like. I know that there will always be young new bands that I like, but it is just a different feeling to find some band that has already been around for 5 or 10 years. I don't really feel like I should of liked them earlier. I don't feel embarrassed or get mad at myself that I didn't like them right away. There are simply too many bands out there to like them all at once. I listen to a lot of music but still do not have the time to devote to everything that I might like. Some bands fall through the cracks, but it almost makes it more exciting to go back and explore their old albums. It is sort of like intentionally missing a whole season of a TV show just so you can look forward to watching the entire thing when it comes out on DVD. The anticipation somehow makes it better.

The Black Angels
are another one of those bands. Their second album comes out this week. It is called Directions to See a Ghost. I didn't really intentionally wait until now to listen to them. It just sort of happened that way. I can't really remember if I ever listened to their first album Passover which came out in 2006. It may have been playing at work when I was in the room but I don't remember paying attention or ever intentionally listening to them, so I was not really expecting to like this new album when I put it on a couple of weeks ago. I just had it in my head that they were a band that I was not going to like. I really was surprised and was immediately a brand new fan of The Black Angles. They had quickly converted me by the second song on the album. It is always a little humorous to me when you first get into a band, because I really knew nothing about them. I knew they were somewhat popular but didn't really know anyone personally who was a fan. I knew they were on the label Light in the Attic, but that was about it. I had never seen pictures of the band and I had no idea they were from Texas-- and by the time I was done listening to this new album, I was convinced the lead singer was a woman. It really was not a very typically feminine voice but I still pictured a woman singing all the songs. I thought her voice was really unique and sort of dark and deep. I didn't really ever question myself and think that it might be a man. Of course, I was wrong. I had to go watch some videos and actually see Alex Mass singing to be fully convinced that he was indeed a man. It sort of makes more sense now.

The band took their name from a Velvet Underground song, much like how Death Cab for Cutie took their name from a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band song. Velvet Underground might just be a little bit more well know than the Doo-Dah band, but it is a similar situation. The Black Angels are obviously fans of the Velvet Underground and share a sort of dark intense sound with them. The songs on this new album are similar to the first album. They have a very psychedelic dark sound to them-- the sort of band that you know will be good live. But they also really remind me of Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane. Maybe this is why I thought the singer was a woman. I could really imagine the Black Angels playing at the Fillmore in San Francisco back in the 60s. I was not there but this is sort of what I imagine it sounding like-- a sort of intense psychedelic jam fest. The sort of show where you fell in love with everybody there and totally found yourself in some sort of trance. It is the feeling I get at Spiritualized shows. Lets just hope The Black Angels do not turn into The Black Starship. My memories of Jefferson Airplane are really tied into Starship since this is what I grew up with in the 80s. I really learned about Starship way before I ever knew anything about Jefferson Airplane. Luckily I discovered the Black Angels before their Starship period. I am glad I found them and finally gave them some space in my life. I like this new album a lot. And I am really looking forward to picking up a copy of their first album and discovering them all over again.

also out today...

Hard Sweet & Sticky by the Bellrays

Rockferry by Duffy

Narrow Stairs by Death Cab for Cutie

Thing of the Past by Vetiver

Nakba Day: yawm al-nakba يوم النكبة

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 15, 2008 09:27am | Post a Comment
This Nakba Day (which means "Day of the Catastrophe") marks the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian people's expulsion and dispossession of their homelands. According to the UN, an estimated 711,000 Palestinians fled their homes and 160,000 stayed behind to become internal refugees in the newly formed state of Israel.

Palestinians fleeing their homes in 1948

Situated at one of those great crossroads of civilizations, the Palestinian populace reflects the diverse cultural imprint in their ancient ancestors. Genetic evidence shows the Palestinians are descended from Amorites, Anatolians, Arabs, Arameans, Canaanites, Edomites, European crusaders, Hebrews, Jebusites, Lydian Greeks, Philistines and Romans. They practice various faiths like Christianity, Druze, and Islam.

Western media, however, tends to have a hard time accepting that not all Palestianians are Muslim. For example, when Ahmad Sa'adat, the leader of the PFLP (Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine) was arrested, the news I was watching described his organization as "Islamic Fundamentalists" even though it is secular, Marxist-Leninist and was created by George Habbash, a Palestinian Christian. No correction followed.

A Ghassanid Palestinian family in 1905

In 1919, the First Palestinian Congress issued a statement opposing Zionist immigration but, when speaking of the 10,000 Jews already in Palestine, they stated "they are as we are, and their loyalties are our own."

Desmond Tutu at a protest of the Israeli Occupation

Even though the Palestinian majority was displaced 60 years ago, the issue remains unresolved. Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela have referred to Israel as an apartheid state.

Although Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that "Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country," 4.25 million Palestinians live in refugee camps. In what is ostensibly a first world democracy, Palestinians within Israel suffer from extremely high rates of unemployment and malnourishment. The United Nations has to feed over 1 and a half million Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where malnourishment rates are comparable to those in Congo and Zimbabwe.

Despite extreme hardship and many obstacles, there is a small, growing, internationally-lauded Palestinian Cinema. All of the following films (and many excellent documentaries) are available at Amoeba.


Michel Kleifi
is a pioneer of Palestinian cinema, creating Fertile Memory (1981), Wedding In Galilee (1987) and Tale of the Three Jewels (1995). I've seen Wedding in Galilee. It involves a Palestinian wedding and surprised me with its sensuality. It's quite good.

Elia Suleiman
- Divine Intervention (2002) and Chronicle of a Disappearance (1996).

Divine Intervention was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2002. However, when it was submitted for the Academy Awards, the Academy stated that, "The academy does not accept films from countries that are not recognized by the United Nations." In the past the Academy accepted submissions from Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Wales and Taiwan- none of which are recognized by the UN as independent. The Academy's published rules for consideration make no mention of UN recognition. Some protested this double standard.

Hany Abu-Assad
's Paradise Now (2005) and Rana's Wedding (2002).

Reversing their previous position, the Academy nominated Paradise Now for Best Foreign Language Film and it won a Golden Globe in that category. But don't let the Oscar stain scare you, it's actually an amazingly moving and sad film which doesn't sermonize in the black and white manner that the Academy tends to reward.

Become a fan of Eric's Blog on Facebook!

Mickey Mouse

Posted by Whitmore, May 15, 2008 06:15am | Post a Comment

Contrary to popular belief, Mickey Mouse’s film debut was not in Steamboat Willie which was released in November 1928. 80 years ago today, May 15, 1928, the world was introduced to Mickey and Minnie Mouse as they made their first appearance in the silent cartoon short Plane Crazy. In the cartoon Micky tries to become an aviator to impress Minnie-- Charles Lindbergh he is not. Plane Crazy was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, with Iwerks working as the chief animator, a responsibility he would have for all of the early Disney cartoons released in 1928 and ‘29. Who knew by this modest, unassumingly innocent beginning Mickey Mouse would one day rule the world with an iron-fist in a velvet glove!

Frank Sinatra

Posted by Whitmore, May 14, 2008 07:34pm | Post a Comment

The Chairman of the Board, ol’ Blue Eyes, the Voice, King of the Rat Pack, King of the Bobby-Sockers, The Pope, The Leader, The Swooner-- there are a lot of nicknames for Frank Sinatra, perhaps the greatest pop star of the 20th century. And ten years ago today, Frankie went to the Big Casino in the sky.

Sinatra had quite a philosophy about life and a set of intricate rules that may seem a bit brash, but hey -- it's Sinatra baby! And like his style, he believed that a living big is in the details. Here are some of the great man’s creeds:

Top your martini with not one, but two olives, and give one to a friend. Yes, a very special friend-- even if you don’t know his/her name.

For flavors in your drink to blend sufficiently, let the ice sink to the bottom of your glass and never, ever drink a drink immediately after its poured-- relax, take your time, enjoy the moment.

Never yawn in front of a lady.
Make sure your trousers break just above your shoes.

Tip big and tip quietly-- fold the bills three times into small squares and pass them in a handshake. Nothing further is needed, no acknowledgment, no glance, no wink-- you’ve already said it all.

Cock your hat -- angles show attitude.

Don't wear a brown suit at night, dark gray is better, and better than gray, black. And if black tie is optional, you wear black tie. The only exception to this rule; never wear a tuxedo on Sunday.

“Have fun with everything” was one of his mottoes. Live every moment as it if were your last, and remember, too much thinking isn't necessarily a good thing. “You only live once,'' he liked to say, “and the way I live, once is enough.”

Be confident, confidence gets you laid, as Frank Sinatra would say, “I am a thing of beauty.”

Continue reading...

May 14, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, May 14, 2008 06:15pm | Post a Comment



Posted by Billyjam, May 14, 2008 01:33pm | Post a Comment

Here above and below are previews from a couple of new DVD documentaries on the topic of Bay Area street culture with an emphasis on rap music (namely hyphy), cars, dance, drugs, fashion etc..  Above is a clip from the forthcoming ILL Trendz production The Un-Told Story which focuses on Oakland, CA and features interviews with the likes of Too $hort, Richie Rich, E40, and Davey D.  Meanwhile below is a clip from the new Ghostride The Whip: The Story of the Hyphy Movement which features many of the major playas from the Bay and is directed by DJ Vlad (Bay Area mixtape master who moved to NYC few years ago) and is executive produced by Peter Spirer (Rhyme & Reason, Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel).

Totally Topless Records!!!

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 13, 2008 08:50pm | Post a Comment
No, we're not talking Fausto Papetti here (uh, he's the "Sax Symbol" to those of us in the know).  This gallery is nothin' but skyclad lads from way back- when hanging around in the nude with your bandmate brethren was a way of life...Maybe all those bar bands that clog up the east side of Sunset should start up with this theme for their album covers, being that the four faces mingling (ala Love) thing is kinda way past its prime. I can see it now, nude bearded guys with poorly chosen fedoras hanging around a fire on a hillside. Behold the future retro...

OK, a close up of that fellows "brain"...

Phantom Of The Paradise

Posted by phil blankenship, May 13, 2008 12:47pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, May 13, 2008 09:11am | Post a Comment

 "I work in the gap between art  
    and life."
             -Robert Rauschenberg

As reported in several online outlets this morning, including on the NY Times' website, American artist Robert Rauschenberg, who helped shape the face of 20th century art, died last night (May 12) at age 82. 

Always prolific and diverse, the Texas born artist worked in numerous mediums throughout his career. He was a  painter, sculptor,  photographer, choreographer, printmaker, stage performer, set designer, and even a composer.

"I think a painting is more like the real world if it's made out of the real world,"  Rauschenberg once said.  He was hailed by London's. Sunday Telegraph early in his career as “The most important American artist since Jackson Pollock."

Perhaps most importantly, Rauschenberg was instrumental in guiding the direction of American art out of Abstract Expressionism, the prevailing art movement in the beginning of the 1950's, when he first emerged.  As accurately noted by the New York Times, he built on "the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he thereby helped to obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art — not to mention between art and life."

Continue reading...

Chet Baker

Posted by Whitmore, May 13, 2008 06:38am | Post a Comment

Twenty years ago today, May 13th, 1988, legendary west coast jazz trumpet player, silky vocalist (has anyone ever sung "My Funny Valentine" better?), and once gorgeous bad boy, Chet Baker, fell to his death in Amsterdam from his hotel room window. Of course, there has been a wide variety of conspiracy theories and speculation regarding the odd nature of his death. Because Baker’s life was so full of mysterious and scandalous details, a life full of intrigue and questions, why shouldn’t his death have a similar story line? I guess there is a possibility of some vendetta at play here-- at least once before in the mid 1960’s he had his teeth knocked out over a drug deal gone awry, why couldn’t another drug dealer, years later, just shove the poor son of a bitch out a window? Well, there were no signs of a struggle in his hotel room and the door was locked from the inside. Then could it have been suicide? Doubtful-- there wasn’t a note, and any person determined to kill themselves probably would have rented a room higher than two stories above the sidewalk. Sadly, Chet's death was an odd, common place accident; it’s just one of those way people accidentally meet their maker. Chet Baker simply fell out of a window. There was heroin in his system, and a considerable amount of cocaine and heroin in his room. He probably went to open the window, and simply leaned a little too far west, and lost his balance. Anyway, it’s been two decades since his death. Right now I have Chet Baker Sings on the turntable; I’m sipping some good Catholic Irish whiskey, hanging out in my new abode. Everything is perfectly copasetic. Thanks.

Silent Assassins

Posted by phil blankenship, May 13, 2008 01:16am | Post a Comment

Forum Home Video FH79003

Dumpster Diving Story

Posted by Whitmore, May 12, 2008 08:56pm | Post a Comment

As a child I spent many of an hour dumpster diving, trash picking and rummaging where I shouldn’t have been rummaging. In my neighborhood, Wednesday was the night-- trash night. I’d sneak off after dinner in search of treasure, check out all the neighbors' garbage cans, boxes of junk curbside, apartment building dumpsters, and I’d be back home an hour or so later, laden with exotic booty from the world over. My mom would usually yell at me to get my latest cache out of the house, “That crap might have bugs in it, for Christ sakes!” But it wasn’t all infested! In fact, I still have some of that ‘crap,' and some of that dumpster swag still decorates my parents' house.

Over the years I’ve lugged home great pieces of furniture, collectible books, pottery, artwork, glass wear, jewelry, you name it … and once I found something that altered and twisted my thinking forever. I found it right there on Franklin Avenue right down the way from the Shakespeare Bridge in the Los Feliz district in Los Angeles. Stuck to the bottom of an empty trash can was an LP from 1963 on Vanguard Records, Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo by Sandy Bull. Back then I was just an innocently corrupt thirteen year old Catholic school boy, but already on the long path I’m still unraveling today-- that of a musician. I had just started taking guitar lessons, and as could be expected, I was struggling with all the important fundamentals: getting the hang of bar chords, finger picking, playing those newbie-guitar standards like “House of The Rising Sun” and “Knocking on Heaven's Door,” and trying to convince my parents to let me grow my hair long. Anyway, I got home, I threw this Sandy Bull record on the turntable, turned it up and it blew my freakin’ pubescent mind.

Sandy Bull came out of New York’s early 1960’s folk revival playing mostly instrumentals. His recordings on Vanguard Records, with Billy Higgins on drums, often merged eastern and modal explorations into extended improvisations on guitar, banjo and oud. Bull touched on "world music" years before any such tag was invented; his playing was also a precursor to what would eventually be called “American primitivism.” I had never heard anything like Sandy Bull before! As far as I knew, I was listening to a fisticuff between a drummer and an acoustic guitarist rolling in the mud, the crud and sheer madness. As I stood there, confused by it all, I thought I could smell the blood pouring from the someone’s nose, I thought I heard a bone snap during the drum solo; I expected to hear old Dick Lane yell “whoa Nellie” like it was Sunday Night Wrestling on channel 5. There was no song, no melody, no order. To my unsophisticated, bubblegum ears this was pure chaos, unbridled eccentricities, godlessness … and I reveled in each note. I heard sound and rhythms and chords I could never have imagined.

Continue reading...

Able Team #11

Posted by phil blankenship, May 12, 2008 04:29pm | Post a Comment

May 12, 2008

Posted by Billyjam, May 12, 2008 04:28pm | Post a Comment



But while Iron Man is undoubtedly simplistic, a light and larky tone carries the movie easily over potential political pitfalls. Stark, a humming dynamo of energy and humour in Downey Jr's delightful performance, is far more appealing that the stodgy, guilt-ridden heroes of Batman and Spider-Man.
    - excerpt from BBC review          

The world needs another comic book movie like it needs another Bush administration, but if we must have one more (and the Evil Marketing Geniuses at Marvel MegaIndustries will do their utmost to ensure that we always will), Iron Man is a swell one to have.
     - excerpt from Chicago Sun Times review

This could well be the best comic book movie of 2008. Perfect writing, directing, and acting. The casting by director Jon Favreau of Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role was a wise choice.  Lots of action, humor, and the effects, which thankfully are mostly real action rather than computer generated, are incredible. Even the product placement (Burger King) isn't as obnoxious as it could be. Four out of five stars. If you go see it, be sure to wait around til the closing credits roll to a close for a sneak preview of what is to come.
     - excerpt from NY Phil da Thumb's Amoeblog review of Iron Man.

Continue reading...

Gleaming The Cube

Posted by phil blankenship, May 11, 2008 11:07pm | Post a Comment

Vestron Video 5275


Posted by Billyjam, May 11, 2008 03:27pm | Post a Comment

To all the mothers, Happy Mother's Day!  And to all those (including mothers) who might feel that this day, one when flower sales and brunch reservations go through the roof, is way overly commercialized  -- you will appreciate the informative story below titled Mother's Day founder Anna Jarvis opposed to holiday's commercialism. The story was written by John Horton in his Plain Dealer Reporter column in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer (the main daily in Cleveland, Ohio) and was spotted by Amoeba Marc:
"Anna Jarvis (left) mothered Mother's Day a century ago. To see what her baby grew into . .. oh, how it would break her heart.  Jarvis despised attempts to commercialize the "holy day" that she launched in 1908
in memory of her mother, Ann. She fought tenaciously until her death to shield Mother's Day from "the hordes of money-schemers" that were hawking flowers, cards and candy.

She didn't exactly hold 'em off. Mother's Day spending on the 100th anniversary of the holiday is expected to reach $15.8 billion in the United States, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumers will spend an average of $138.63 doting on dear old mom during her special day.

Jarvis "is probably spinning in her grave," said Katharine Antolini, a board member and historian for the International Mother's Day Shrine, the church in Grafton, W.Va. That is where the first celebration took place. "What we have today," said Antolini, who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, "is not what Anna wanted."  Not even close.  Jarvis envisioned a day marked by hymns and prayers.  She called for intimate family gatherings to "revive the dormant love and filial gratitude we owe to those who gave us birth." She wanted the focus and attention on a mother's devotion and sacrifice. It didn't take long, however, before some merchant got the idea of tossing up a SALE sign.  Cha-ching!

Continue reading...


Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 11, 2008 12:20am | Post a Comment

If you have read my blogs in the past, you probably noticed I'm a big fan of Cumbia. So low and behold, bubbling in the city of Norwalk of all places, comes a band that sounds like they came straight from Magdalena, Colombia. They are called Buyepongo. Most of the band is very young, yet they have a sound that rivals Cumbia legends such as Andres Landero, Lisadro Meza and Aniceto Molina.

There are many things I love about this band. They are descendants and citizens from Guatamala, El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico. Still, it seems these guys have Cumbia running through their veins just by the way they play it. It would be easy to mistake Buyepongo for a Colombian band three times their age.

Another thing is that they are a great live band and they write their own songs. I saw them for the first time in a bar in Pasadena on Monday and I could of sworn they were playing obscure Cumbia covers.

And lastly... at last, there is another local Vallenato group that isn't Very Be Careful! I love the VBC, but it's good to have variety and more than one group in L.A. playing this type of music.

I think I mentioned before that I had the good fortune of meeting Joe Strummer a few times. On those occasions we talked about Cumbia and his love for it. I remember turning him on to Very Be Careful and he went gaga over them, so much so that he had VBC open for him during his last L.A. shows. I wish he was around for Buyepongo, he would have dug these guys.

Buyepongo have nothing released yet but you can go to their myspace page to hear some live tracks.


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 10, 2008 11:40pm | Post a Comment

We Go Til' 6 In The Morning

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 10, 2008 11:40pm | Post a Comment
Last week it was Eric's (also known as Majix to some) birthday. You might know him as the guy who works in Amoeba Hollywood's Reggae & Soul sections. A few of us got together on a Tuesday night at his pad to celebrate the birth of this very righteous gentleman. We had turntables, courtesy of DJ Doleak who works in our Hip-Hop section. Doleak just destroyed it on the turntables for most of the night while Ray Ricky Rivera, Eric and myself jumped in from time to time to give Doleak a breather. Some members of local bands Aztlan Underground and Buyepongo (more on this amazing group later) showed up as well.

Being a gracious host, Eric supplied a great spread & there were plenty of spirits. It was a Tuesday night that felt like a Friday night. Some of us (well..not me) even started a little freestyle session. Can't say anyone was that inspired at four in the morning, but it was fun nonetheless.

Wednesday, however...was a little rough on some of us who had to work the next day.

Check out some photos that I took at the party:


Posted by Charles Reece, May 10, 2008 11:11pm | Post a Comment
Continuing with my plan to see one summer blockbuster per week until the bitter end (we'll see how long I can last), I saw the Wachowski Brothers/Brother and Sister's Tolkien-inspired epic tribute to 70s' butchered anime, Speed Racer, this weekend.  As Eric B. and I were discussing, if you could turn the screen upside down, it would like an experimental film, something along the lines of Stan Brakhage's 1991 film, Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse:

But with the more vibrant colors of the 70s cartoon series (a bowdlerized version of Tatsuo Yoshida's anime from the 60s, Mahha GoGoGo):

Although Time's critic Richard Corliss proclaims the new film "the future of movies," I have some hope to the contrary, as allegorically alluded to in this scene from auteur producer Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 (another film that Speed Racer resembles):

Just think of the geriatric sacrifice as a stand-in for classic filmmaking.

One Man's Basura is Another Man's Trash - 3

Posted by Whitmore, May 10, 2008 10:41pm | Post a Comment

Here are a few suggestions, rules of etiquette and safety measures you might find helpful as you delve into the art of dumpster diving. These ideas might come in handy when the proverbial shit-hits-the-fan and just about every one of us will have to resort to something weird/cheap/pathetic/extreme for an evening’s worth of entertainment, an afternoon’s respite, a shopping fix, or simple economic survival in these feeble, hoary days of the 21st century. Ladies and gentleman - dumpster diving tips #3, #17 and #129:

#129- A small ladder or step-stool is always a damn good piece of gear to have close by, especially when you’re my age and the ol’ knees just don’t flex much anymore. Also be prepared, you just might hit the mother lode; bring a bag or box or shopping cart to stash your plunder. You really don’t need any other fancy doohickeys to engage in this mode of trade. Some people insist on carrying a flashlight, or wearing coolly equipped tool belts, or donning special military-issue-only night vision goggles … shit, this isn’t Mission Impossible! It’s just digging through somebody’s garbage. I don’t know, I guess a flashlight might be handy if you don’t have the cojones to dumpster dive in daylight hours!

# 17- Share the wealth. Take only what you can use, and leave the rest for some other lucky diver. Remember, just because something might be ‘free’ doesn’t mean you have to take it home. The fact is this country has one national resource we’ll never be without: garbage.

#3- Here is one of the most essential, vitally important bits of information you need to know: remove your keys, wallet, cell phone, asthma inhaler, sunglasses, or anything valuable in your pockets before plunging into a dumpster … trust me, this is from the voice of experience!

The Dilettantes' Joel Gion Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, May 9, 2008 12:52pm | Post a Comment
Joel Gion is quite the musical renaissance man.  In addition to working amongst piles of vinyl and CDs and obsessing over fine cinema and its soundtracks, he also finds time to front his own popular band, The Dilettantes, while intermittently doing time in his old band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.  BJM was recently the subject of a feature documentary entitled Dig, which enabled fans to get up close and personal with one of the most riotous, chaotic groups of all time.  The film comes highly recommended by this blogger.  Joel will be touring with BJM this summer, and continues to gig regularly with The Dilettantes in support of their album 101 Tambourines.  More info in the conversation that follows. Here, Joel speaks about his Brian Jonestown Massacre days, how The Beatles changed his life, and the tambourine.

ME:  What was the first record that really blew your hair back when you were a kid and made you start to really get into music?

JG:  I saw Yellow Submarine when I was 5 and that was it. My mom took me to The Gemco the next day and bought me the Red and Blue [Beatles hits] double LPs. I jumped around in front of the mirror with my bowl cut and a tennis racket for about a week straight. I never get tired of The Beatles. I have never owned a copy of Abbey Road or Let It Be because I made a decision a long time ago I would save the later period for when I turned 40. I want to keep some fresh Beatles on reserve for the last half of life. I never want that magic out of my life.

ME:  I absolutely love that sentiment!  Kinda makes me wish I had been that smart way back when, but I had to devour it all right away.  So, when did you realize you were going to be a musician and could make a real go of it?
JG: When I joined The Brian Jonestown Massacre it quickly became apparent where we were taking it and I knew it was on and it was quite a feeling, but somehow we managed to blow it, man. It's still fun [to play with BJM], but it's different when you're young and making your first charge up that hill and then you get distracted and start smelling flowers or something stupid and then the old man with the pitchfork comes running out of nowhere and tells you to get the hell off his land and you've blown it.

ME:  What inspired you to pick up the tambourine?
JG: Laziness.

Hah!  It's funny that you say that because I think you bring more to your bands with your tambourine playing than many artists bring to their outfits with more standard "showy" instruments like the guitar or whatever.  Watching the movie Dig was a crack up for me, to see things actually unfold on screen I had heard you describe years before.  How did it feel for you to have to relive that portion of your life by watching it over and over again? [Joel got to attend various film festivals' screenings of the movie.]

Well, if I was in The BJM and remembered it, then I wasn't really there, dude, so it was a lot of fun to see that stuff again.

How do the internal workings of The Dilettantes differ from BJM?
I am not expecting to get arrested on a daily basis in The Dilettantes.

What a relief!  How does it feel to be the frontman of a band after so many years of being the sideman?

Anton [Newcombe of BJM] always stuck me in the middle up front, so not that much different. He wanted to have some of the attention taken away from him while he was doing the singing. I understand that now.

Any upcoming gigs for The Dilettantes?
June 6th at The 12 Galaxies. That's gonna be with Spindrift. Dan, who is the drummer in The BJM, plays in that band.

Who is your favorite local band (current and past)?
Current -- Kelley Stoltz. Past -- Chocolate Watch Band.

Ah, The Chocolate Watch Band is up there with BJM as far as great band names go.  What musician would you like to trade places with (dead or alive)?
Ennio Morricone-- to live in a magic place like Rome and be a part of all that high cinema history with all of that intense and beautiful music constantly flowing out of you.

What song do you wish that you wrote every time you hear it?
"My Little Green Bag" by The George Baker Selection. The absolute coolest cruisin' down the sidewalk with the headphones on tune ever. Then it stops and goes into this pizzaria jig and you're like, this is nutty cool!

Aside from Dig, what is your favorite musician/band documentary? 
I just can't aside when it comes to Dig!

What have you been listening to lately?
The Eva soundtrack by Michel LeGrand and Elevator To The Gallows by Miles Davis. Frenchy cool 60's soundtrack jazz, baby.

I know you are quite the cinema buff.  What's your favorite movie from the 70s?  From the 60s?

That is really hard, but it's probably either Good, the Bad and The Ugly or Once Upon A Time In the West. Or maybe Duck, You Sucker or For A Few Dollars More. It's hard to say.

Is there an older movie that has finally come out on DVD that you would recommend?
The Delirious Fictions of William Klein Criterion Box set. It's from their Eclipse Series, so that means you get 3 films for 40 bucks on Criterion -- that's cool, baby. William Klein was an American in France during the 60's/70's who made some incredibly great lefty stick-it-to-the-man gone high art comedy flicks.

What has been your best find at Amoeba?
My girlfriend.

Adorable answer.  What are your tour plans for the summer?
The Brian Jonestown Massacre 4-week festival tour all over Europe, with 2 weeks in Australia/New Zealand. Plus David Letterman if we don't scare em too much at the pre-show rehearsals!

I remember that you told me Letterman is scheduled for July 24!  Joel, thank you so much for your time.  Hope your summer tour is fabulous and uninterrupted by run-ins with the cops.

May 8, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, May 8, 2008 11:37pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, May 8, 2008 06:00pm | Post a Comment

As proven by the entries on the new Top Five Hip-Hop Charts from each of the three Amoeba Music locations (Berkeley, SF, Hollywood -- charts below by Tunde, Jason Chavez, & Marques Newson) hip-hop is very much alive and well. 

Not only that, but hip-hop, a genre known for its high turnover and tendency for chewing up and spitting out artists after a short shelf life, is instead demonstrating love for several longtime hip-hoppers with new releases. 

These include Prodigy, who started out rapping with Mobb Deep potna Havoc two long decades ago, The Roots, who've just dropped their ninth album, and E40 who is celebrating twenty years as a rap recording artist and just released the new Sick Wid It Umbrella: The Complete Second Season rap compilation with its appropriate Sopranos styled cover.

The Roots, who just get better and better as time evolves, have just released their ninth album Rising    Down. It's their eight studio album and second for Def Jam, and it's in big demand with music fans. The  Philadelphia based hip-hop band, who tore shit up September '06 at their Amoeba Hollywood instore, is the number one seller at both the LA Amoeba and at Berkeley, while in SF it is a close second to Atmosphere (another longtime hip-hop artist).  Following The Roots' Game Theory album in 2006, the new album culls its title, presumably, from the William T. Vollmann's book Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means, published in 2004. Rising Down features numerous cameos and guest shots ,including Mos Def, Styles P, Talib Kweli, and Common.

Continue reading...

The Cros: I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here...

Posted by Miss Ess, May 8, 2008 12:04pm | Post a Comment
David Crosby has a well-earned reputation for being an angelic-faced bad boy, a drug addicted ego freak. His work throughout the 60s and early 70s was mostly within the confines of The Byrds or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. There is one record though, that to me is the standout among all the work of both of those bands, and it technically belongs to Crosby alone.
Crosby's first solo record, If I Could Only Remember My Name, as far as I am concerned, is one of the best albums ever created in the first place. It's an oddity for sure, and it seems miraculous that it was ever made. The album was recorded in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1970/71. Sonically it's pure Cros-- heavy on the mystical harmonies, musically meandering all over the place-- but it also has guest appearances by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jerry Garcia, and Jorma Kaukonen, among many others. One of the best parts about the record is laying back, letting the sound float around you and then hearing intermittent vocals from Joni and Neil washing in and out of different songs. Though this is a solo album, the feeling of the record is often one of hazy collaboration, of seamless blending toward a greater vision. Someone needs to write a book about these recording sessions, if anyone can remember them!

The title just seems so fittingly Crosby! It always kind of cracks me up. The early 70s were a particularly drug-addled period for him. I recently read that he was referring to reincarnation with the title, not general confusion...but if you listen closely to the lyrics they seem to often reference being overwhelmed by city life, distrust and paranoia. All of this is presented in gorgeous, hooky tracks, so you could easily miss some of the more heavy themes. On the positive side of the lyrics, there are tracks like the beautiful and hippy-ish "Music Is Love." Check out this awesome performance of "Traction in the Rain" by Crosby and Graham Nash. This was on the BBC before the record was even recorded.

Gruesome Twosome

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 8, 2008 11:25am | Post a Comment



Smokey And The Bandit

Posted by phil blankenship, May 8, 2008 12:00am | 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 May 10

Burt Reynolds
& Jackie Gleason in

Smokey And
The Bandit

1977, 96 min.

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


May - New Beverly's 30th Anniversary!
May 3 Burnt Offerings
May 10 Smokey And The Bandit
May 24 Creature From Black Lake
May 31 Zardoz

June 7 Heavenly Bodies
June 21 John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness
June 28 Van Damme in Sudden Death



Posted by Billyjam, May 7, 2008 10:06am | Post a Comment

Twenty-two years later Jack Dangers, the UK born/ Bay Area based musician best known as front person for the group Meat Beat Manifesto, is still recording and releasing relevant music.  In addition to the recently released tenth studio Meat Beat Manifesto (MBM) album Autoimmune on Metropolis, Dangers has also just released a new solo project titled Music For Planetarium -- a limited edition release on Brainwashed. To help spread the word on both releases, Dangers and MBM (including Ben Stokes with whom he also collaborates under the name Tino Corp) just wrapped up their current US tour in the past couple of days. I caught up with them when they played the Highline Ballroom in New York about a week ago. The current MBM lineup includes Dangers, Ben Stokes, Mark Pistel and Lynn Farmer (on live drum kit set up).

Considering it is now 21 years since MBM's debut and 22 years since his original band, Perennial Divide, released their debut, and also considering that most other industrial or techno or ambient acts (all genres that Dangers' music has been labeled over the years) are no longer still making music, I asked Dangers what was the secret to MBM's and his longevity as an artist?  "The main thing is not to conform, not to follow what looks like the thing to do," he said. "It is important not to follow trends but just to be yourself. That is the main ingredient."

I asked Dangers about early in his career and his relationship to Andy Partridge and how it was exactly that the XTC member had helped him get started in his music career. Dangers replied that he first met Partridge back in 1981 in the small South Western English town of Swindon they both hail from. "I got an intern job at the Uni recording studio (in Swindon) and got to see XTC rehearse for their English Settlement tour," he recalled, adding that the XTC tour got cut short after just nine dates. "Andy pretty much knocked it on the head and didn't want to do any live performances after that." But several years later, in 1986, Andy Partridge would work with Dangers and his first band Perennial Divide when he produced their Beehead EP -- released in 1987 on Sweat Box.

Dangers first visited the US in 1989 and ended up moving Stateside, settling in the Bay Area's Mill Valley in 1994. I asked him how relocating from Swindon to Marin County came about. "I was doing a lot of work with (Bay Area groups) Consolidated and Disposable Heroes of Hipocrisy in the early nineties," he recalled, adding that during that time period he, "Later met my future wife at SF Civic Center at a benefit for In Defense of Animals. And that was the main reason I moved over." He had also crossed paths with Ben Stokes, with whom he would forge a long-standing creative relationship. In concert, Stokes works his magic on the video sampling technology and when he is not on tour with Dangers, he is doing video production for DJ Shadow's tours (solo and with Cut Chemist).

Continue reading...

out today 5/6...the last shadow puppets...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 6, 2008 10:23pm | Post a Comment
I really thought the new album by The Cure would be out by now. I talked about it on this blog almost a year ago back in July of last year. I was very excited back then. But I am still holding my excitement. I guess it might be even stronger since their shows are coming up at the end of the month. They are playing at the Hollywood Bowl and the Shrine in Los Angeles. I know they are also playing at a city near you, in case you don't live in Los Angeles. But the album has been delayed a bit and is now coming out September 13th. They are doing something a little special before the album comes out, maybe to make it up to their fans for making us wait so long for the album. For the next four months they are going to put out a single with a b-side every month on the 13th. This should be starting on the 13th of May, which happens to be next Tuesday. I am still not entirely sure the label is really going to be able to pull this all together in time for a domestic single, but hopefully by next week I will have a copy of the new Cure single, "The Only One" in my hand. If they are smart it will be coming out on 7" as well, since they should know that we will buy it in all formats they give us. You can hear the single on their website right now. Just in case you were wondering, this new Cure album will be their 13th album --this explains the singles coming out on the 13th. By the way, The Cure still owes us a couple more of those fantastic double CD reissues. They stopped with Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. I am still highly anticipating two of my favorite albums, Disintegration and Wish. Maybe they will happen before the new album-- there is a good four months still. That really should be enough time. So come on Robert Smith, finish what you started.

There are a couple really good albums out today as well. No Madonna or Portishead to compete with, so I think that The Last Shadow Puppets just might have a chance today. Sometimes I feel like you really have to start all over when you change the name of your band. When a lead singer decides to put out a solo album or just get a new band together and start a whole new project, they really put themselves at risk. Especially when their former band had so much press and hype behind them already. With so many releases every week, it is hard to hold on to all your former fans. It works out fantastically sometimes. It worked out great for Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani. It even amazingly worked out for Fergie. But it is not always as easy for an indie band singer to go solo. The first time I actually heard the Last Shadow Puppets I just thought they were another new band. I immediately loved it and quickly recognized the singer as the dude from the Arctic Monkeys. I really did like that first Arctic Monkeys album, but they sort of lost me with the second album and I sort of lost interest in the band. I didn't really imagine I would be paying much attention to them again. I guess this is just a side project for Alex Turner. The Arctic Monkeys are still a band. It is like his Sun Kil Moon. He formed this new band with Miles Kane from the band The Rascals. I already like it more than I ever even liked the Arctic Monkeys.

This debut album is called The Age of the Understatement. It is just one of those albums that I immediately fell in love with. I already know all the lyrics and can't help but to sing along with all the songs. There doesn't seem to be very many albums like this anymore. Remember when Different Class came out by Pulp? You just immediately loved it. If you were ever going to love it, I think you immediately fell in love with it. At least this is how I felt. I couldn't wait to tell everyone about the album and talk to people who already loved it. Yes, this album is really that good.Different times for music I guess.  I hope people love it as much as I do. It sort of has elements of lots of different time periods of music. It could easily fit into the music coming out of the 60s or 70s. It could be a Scott Walker or a Tom Jones album-- imagine a British 60s pop album with a full orchestra.

The songs have beautiful arrangements but also have some of the energy of the Arctic Monkeys. They sort of also remind me of some ska band like The Specials. Imagine Tom Jones singing with The Specials. The Last Shadow Puppets sits easier besides the British bands of the 60s than they do beside the Arctic Monkeys. It has that sort of full big band sound. You must simply check it out for yourself. You might fall in love with it like I have. You should fall in love with it like I have. It really is that good!

also out today...

Water Curse by Animal Collective

Home Before Dark by Neil Diamond

Just Farr a Laugh by Earles & Jensen

Ringer by Four Tet

Couples by The Long Blondes

Supreme Balloon by Matmos

Nouns by No Age

Station by Russian Circles


Posted by phil blankenship, May 6, 2008 11:01am | Post a Comment

Prism Entertainment 6076


Posted by Billyjam, May 6, 2008 07:55am | Post a Comment

Even non-Bob Dylan fans should enjoy Todd Haynes' unorthodox and loosely structured Zimmerman biopic I'm Not There (out today on DVD) that fluidly captures the many sides of Bob Dylan with six actors each portraying the various
slices of the life of the celebrated singer-songwriter from his early folk days through his much- publicized electric crossover stage and beyond. Even if you saw this film last year on the big screen, be sure to check it out on the newly issued 2 disc DVD version which includes audio commentary by director/co-writer Todd Haynes.

Actors who loosely play variations of Dylan include Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere,
Ben Whishaw and the young Marcus Carl Franklin, as an eleven year old who calls himself Woody Guthrie -- all of whom are complimented by a flawless ensemble that include the Joan Baez- styled character played by Julianne Moore and David Cross' inspired turn as Allen Ginsberg (see clip above with the Blanchett- portrayed Dylan).

As a Dylan fan, what moved me even more than I'm Not There's subject matter was how Haynes so beautifully structured this heartfelt tribute to the artist, effortlessly shifting from one Dylan incarnation and stage of his illustrious career into the next. Truly amazing film-making!  My bet is that we will be seeing many future biopics that adapt this same unique approach pioneered by Haynes.

Continue reading...

Tres De Mayo-Pt.2

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 6, 2008 02:24am | Post a Comment
After the Cinco De Mayo Parade (and when I was done with my laundry), I went to my show @ The Knitting Factory. I deejayed between the groups that played that night. Rebel Diaz from Chicago were the headliners, with Jroz & Ethos, Los Poets Del Norte & Olmeca on the bill as well. There was a low turn out for the show because of the numerous fight parties that were happening the same night all over East L.A. Last week all the clubs blamed their low turnouts on Coachella. For the East L.A. set, a fight with Oscar De La Hoya on the bill is death to whatever event you are planning at the same time. Though the numbers were smaller, the groups were red hot!

It's been a minute since I've seen Jroz1 & Ethos. Good to see them still rocking the mics & tables. I first met Jroz when she was still in high school. She won a freestyle battle, humiliating MC's who thought they were much better than they were.

Nico & Shortee from Los Poets Del Norte. Part Culture Clash, part Last Poets, all Boyle Heights. They performed with two bands on either side of the Poets. Los Pequeños Del Norte played Norteños and two guys from the band Resistencia played behind them as well.

This was my first time that I got to check out Rebel Diaz. They were political without being preachy and just rocked it on stage. Homegirl (I forgot her name) has star potential written all over her. She can sing like Celia Cruz and rap like Biggie. Awesome.

Curtis Fuller Wed 7th - Sat 10th @ Jazz bakery

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 5, 2008 10:18pm | Post a Comment
Detroit native Curtis Fuller graces us with his presence this week at the Jazz theatre known as the Jazz Bakery. Nestled in the upscale Helms Bakery district of Culver City,  the Jazz Bakery is a non profit performance space run by the lovely jazz singer Ruth Price. I popped in this past Friday to check out the legendary Lee Konitz, who of course still kills it (at 80!) without breaking a sweat.

Mr. Fuller has led on quite a few albums, originals often fetch $500+.  Just try tracking down a copy of his debut on Transition or an orig. Bone & Bari on Blue Note and you could be doubling or tripling that.  And yes...he's that good.  Curtis also sided for Miles Davis and John Coltrane, for a stretch in the early 60's he was the sixth man in the Jazz Messengers and he played on the Wayne Shorter masterpiece Schizophrenia.  Of course he's kept busy since those glory days, check out the cut below recorded in 2005 followed by an amazing vintage cut "Children of the Night"...


Posted by Billyjam, May 5, 2008 02:06pm | Post a Comment

I've heard many descriptions of your music, but how do you describe the music you make?

MOCHIPET: I like to think of my music as "experimental music," but more in a sense that I am always experimenting with new sounds and ideas. Not necessarily sounds that are new to the human ear, but sounds that are always new to mine. I used to try and always make sounds that no one has ever heard before but then I realized it doesn't matter if anyone else has heard it. It only matters if I had. Other people like to call my music. IDM, Glitch, Breakcore, etc etc..  But I just make music.

AMOEBLOG: According to the liner notes, your new album, Microphonepet , was recorded over a five year span but you don't give years for each track. In which years were most of the tracks recorded?

MOCHIPET: Yes, the songs were all spaced out and recorded over the past five years. I have always enjoyed making hip hop beats and collaborating with MC's. However, I never had enough for a full album, because it was not the only thing I did. But recently I had a chance to finish up these songs and compile them into a LP. The newest ones were "Girls and Boys and Toys" with Jahcoozi, "Banna Split" with Bicasso of Living Legends and E Da Boss, "Mr. Malase" (featuring Casual of Hieroglyphics, Dopestyle, and Humanbeings), and "Take You Down" (featuring Sindri andTaiwankid). The oldest one is probably "The Graduate" (featuring Dubphonics). The older ones were generally more sample based while the newer ones were more glitch and synth based.

Continue reading...

Able Team #10

Posted by phil blankenship, May 5, 2008 12:09pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, May 5, 2008 10:52am | Post a Comment

About two months ago LA producer Daedelus and his crew laced up a short one minute pro-Barack Obama jingle in support of their favorite Democratic presidential runner.  Since then, Daedelus and Taz Arnold -- with the help of numerous other folks in LA -- have extended the short bit into a full length song and made an accompanying video for it that features many familiar faces and places around Los Angeles. The creators of the video say it is a "dedication to LA, the mobilization of youth, and of course, Obama."  Check it out!

Tres De Mayo-Pt.1

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 4, 2008 08:57pm | Post a Comment
On Saturday I woke up to sounds of Mariachi music and Aztec drumming. Turns out there was a Cinco De Mayo parade on my street. There was little notice other than a few no parking signs on Cypress Ave. the night before.

Danza Azteca on Cypress & Roseview

The Grand Marshal was an Elvis Impersonator

Bike Riders: The new people in the barrio wanted to be a part of the parade and to push their agenda
about getting people not to drive their cars and ride their bikes instead. They asked the people watching the parade to join them in a bike ride. Nobody did except the neighborhood loco who rides his bike all day cause he's got nothing better to do. Everyone in the neighborhood knows this guy is crazy, but nobody told them. We all just snickered.

Tamborazos in the back of a truck. A horse follows them.

Vaqueros (Cowboys)

I'm not too big on parades. I usually avoid them at all costs, but since it was right outside my door, I figured I'd check it out. The parade seemed a bit unorganized and thrown together last minute. However, it was cool to hang with my neighbors and scream out a few "Que Viva Mexico!"s. Once the Victory Outreach float came by, I figured it was time to go home. Born-again Christians with megaphones wasn't really my idea of a Cinco De Mayo celebration. Besides, I was doing laundry.

Hegemonic Fantasies Make Me Feel Like an American, Part II: Iron Man

Posted by Charles Reece, May 4, 2008 08:48pm | Post a Comment
Just look at all that merchandising and sequel potential!

I have a special relation to the Iron Man comic; it was my first.  Due to Uncle Skeeter giving me issue 52 as a Christmas present, I developed a lifelong obsession with the graphic narrative form (i.e., it made me a comics nerd, but never this nerdy).  Despite the ablative effects of my high school years, in which I temporarily replaced my adolescent recreational addiction with one of a more illicit kind, I still remember that comic, due to a picture of me clutching it by a Christmas tree.  So, I guess it's a combination of nostalgia, the (more often than not) sobriety of adulthood and the promise of no Ben Affleck that keeps me going back to shitty Hollywood adaptations of superhero comics I rarely read these days.  Thankfully, Iron Man the movie is pretty good.

Even without narcotics, the Iron Man comic is pretty forgettable.  I only remember a few of his villains: The Mandarin, a Fu Manchu ripoff who wore a specially powered ring on each of his fingers; the Unicorn, a technological foe who shot repulsor beams from his forehead; the Viet Cong, dreaded communists who envied his capitalist knowhow and freedom (aka surplus leisure time); and the bottle, which took something like a 120 issues before it became a problem.  Mainstream entertainment isn't allowed to mock other nationalities anymore -- at least not explicitly -- so the Mandarin was out as a villain for the movie.  However, fearing foreign ideologies is still in fashion.  Only problem is that communists make better capitalists than classic liberals do these days, so Red-baiting wouldn't hold much cachet.  Ang Lee's The Hulk demonstrated that most people don't go to see superhero films for an analysis of domestic problems, so alcoholism will have to wait for a subplot in the turgid third installment.  And a guy who shoots beams from his forehead would probably look pretty stupid on the big screen, giving the screenwriters and production designers migraines trying to come up with some phony explanation for why his head doesn't snap back when he fires. 

Back when we were seeing communists in every bush, Iron Man served as a fantasy to supplant our fear of losing dominance in the world.  Not to be outdone by James Bond -- Ian Fleming's nostalgic fantasy for the fading British empire -- Tony Stark did everything better.  He slept with hot foreign girls and then discarded them (or, at least, it was implied to the degree that the Comics Code Authority would allow), played with fancy gadgets and traveled all over the world fighting the villainous Other.  Only, Stark was the gadget, and didn't need Q or the government, since he was an independently wealthy industrialist inventor, too.  His dalliances and battles were with the superpowerful.  And he got to travel throughout the universe, not just the Earth.  Talk about overcompensating for fear that your 13 inches just ain't big enough.  That's why, when Marvel gave the character his own comic in their Hollywood-ready line, the Ultimate Universe, they got sci-fi author and part-time right-wing nut, Orson Scott Card, to write it.  I haven't read Card's Ultimate Iron Man, but I bet his conservative Mormon outlook tends to frown upon the pathetic aspects underlying Stark's personal vices, and not the striding-around-the-gym-locker-room-with-your-dangling-dong metaphor that is the central focus of the character.

Not being one to shy away from America bashing, Scottish writer Mark Millar was more than willing to explore the darker parts of the fantasy with his realistic take on the the Avengers in the Ultimates ('realism' meaning here the updating of former implausibilities in a fantasy so that they seem more plausible to a contemporary audience, only to have them become implausible once again to some future audience -- cf. method acting).  Millar recognized that if Iron Man was to have any sort of realistic relation to our world, he'd have to be a tool of the military industrial complex.  The Ultimate Stark was shown making realpolitik compromises, taking orders from military officials, and establishing plausible deniability when some of the Utlimates' fuck-ups caused collateral damage (such as the Hulk eating people in NY).  Not being able to suppress his own humanist desire to see the best in people (or, rather, people's fantasies), Millar re-establishes Iron Man's essential heroism by having him reject military and government interference.  The Ultimates become independent agents, but only with the aid of Nick Fury's SHIELD.  Individuals serving the military industrial complex might be bad, but democratic values are safe in the hands of an ultra-secretive organization working outside our system of checks and balances.  The implausibility of the fantasy returns earlier than Millar probably intended.

What director John Favreau and his arsenal of screenwriters give us is Millar's paradoxically liberal humanist take on a character who's fundamentally a not-so metaphorical expression of American supremacy via technological force.  All that's left of the Cold War fear embodied in the Mandarin and Viet Cong is Orientalism and the name "Ten Rings" for the Afghan bad guys.  Only grips and corporate copyright holders fear communist countries nowadays (ripping is not a victimless crime), but everyone is afraid of terrorists. The events over the past 8 years supply the film with its realistic gravitas (recall the definition above). Thus, when Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is captured and waterboarded by the Ten Rings in order to get him to build a WMD that will allow them to take over the region, we're supposed to think of multiple you-know-whats, or at least have them resting right below the entertainment module in our brains. 

The liberal progressive critique is in having all the weapons used by the Ten Rings labeled 'Stark Industries.'  After Stark's capture, the film flashes back to a couple days before, when his playboy insouciance is still intact.  (Proving casting must be a real difficult profession: "We need someone to play a flippant, alcoholic rich guy." "How about a flippant, formerly drunk, rich actor?")  He deals with opprobrious questions from a journalist by sleeping with her.  On his way to Afghanistan to sell a new missile system to the military, he gets drunk with his pal and chaperon, Rhodie (Terrence Howard), while the stewardesses do some pole-dancing.  (Progressivism begins to strain: even though the writers make Rhodie a high-ranking military officer, he's still little more than Rochester to Stark's Jack Benny.)  Stark's drinking and cracking wise with the military brass after demonstrating how his missile can raze a mountain range.  And he's using charm and bravado on the grunts, who are in awe of his celebrity as they escort him back to the plane.  All the privileged arrogance brought on by class and celebrity drops, however, as the Ten Rings slaughter his escorts.  He barely manages to escape thanks to the sacrifice of the soldiers, before catching a chestful of shrapnel.  The last thing he sees is his name on the exploding bomb.

For a summer blockbuster featuring a superhero, that's some pretty potent social critique.  The liberal humanist fantasy comes in when Stark develops a conscience and returns to destroy all of his technology that's fallen into the hands of the Ten Rings.  This is an inherent problem with trying to proffer social critique, with its concerns of systemic problems, by way of the superhero genre, where moral resolution is personal.  Superman can beat the tar out of Darkseid, but he can't punch out poverty.  Thus, the allegory fails, not because -- as suggested by J. R. Jones -- Favreau fails to recognize the irony of having Stark battle his own weapons (what, the weapon labels are too subtle a clue?), but because cultural problems are irreducible to the individuals involved.  If everyone were a billionaire, no one would be rich.  Power requires the powerless; in a world where everyone possessed the same power, no one would have superpowers.  (Probably the best superheroic allegory for power is Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus, an intergalactic hero who extinguishes a star every time he fires a blast from his hands.)  The problem isn't with Favreau's supposed ignorance, but with the genre itself.

Superheroic fantasies depend on the inherent goodness of the hero, which will transcend any structural (e.g., class, cultural, biological) limitations placed on him before acquiring the power.  Even superheroes empowered by the dark arts (e.g., the Demon and Ghost Rider) are so inherently good that they can overcome the influence of Satan.  Stark becomes a hero, because he rejects the rules of the military-industrial game in which he grew up and achieved success.  That game is what allowed him to become a superhero in the first place.  This is why Iron Man makes for a better conservative fantasy than progressive.  Conservatives tend to believe in the unerring goodness of the American system itself, rather than the people within the system.  His heroism is as an expression (I would say tool) of the system.  When he flies off to save a poor Afghan village from being terrorized by the Ten Rings against our military doing nothing, the film's allegory falls into cognitive dissonance.  In the real world, you neither gain power nor keep it by opposing the systemic differential whence it's derived, but by making the differential work for you, playing by the rules.  That's why politicians become more candid and generals more critical only after they retire.

Iron Man sidesteps this aporia of the genre in the third act by having Stark do battle with the film's stand-in for realworld power, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).  I don't think I'm giving too much away to reveal Stane as the central villain, since he's bald and has a beard.  In one last allegorical nod to reality, Stane kills the Ten Ring terrorists in order to steal the Iron Man designs that Stark had left behind in his hasty escape.  Terrorists are propped up for crass pragmatic reasons, and they're taken down for the same reasons -- our inherent goodness having little to do with it.  Thus, the final battle between Stark and the armored Stane can be seen as a battle between the Imaginary and the Real.  This being the summer movie season, the Real is repressed once again.

Putting ideological quibbles aside (I am a proud American, after all), the writing is smarter than most summer spectacles, the CGI is about as seamless as I've seen and, with the exception of the last one, the battles are excellent.  This is the best of all the superhero films.

Method preparation for Iron Man 3

Some Kind Of Wonderful

Posted by phil blankenship, May 4, 2008 03:30pm | Post a Comment

Happy Birthday Maynard!!!

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 4, 2008 10:50am | Post a Comment
Today would have been the big 8-0 for the high flying trumpet man Maynard Ferguson...RIP

Hegemonic Fantasies Make Me Feel Like an American, Part I: The Animated Evolution of Iron Man

Posted by Charles Reece, May 3, 2008 08:39pm | Post a Comment
This is a multimedia accompaniment to my ruminations on the film.

Iron Man's cartoons were originally slightly animated cutouts from the comic book. Here he fights a Russian version of himself in a battle that looks like an inspiration for the final one in the movie (with Tony Stark's voice sounding suspiciously like Leslie Nielson's):

To a period when hipness was connoted in cartoons and comics by a mullet (even Superman had one). Stark looks more like a Bollywood hero than Sir Richard Branson:

To the interactive age (which provides the illusion that you're controlling the fantasy):

That Was Then... This Is Now

Posted by phil blankenship, May 3, 2008 07:45pm | Post a Comment

Paramount Home Video 1954

On Jeff Mangum and Instant Gratification

Posted by Miss Ess, May 2, 2008 08:50pm | Post a Comment

My friend Sara gave me a homemade tape once years ago. She didn't really tell me much about what it was, just that she and her oldest friends loved it, and that it would cheer me up.  (Musta been feeling down that day.)

I immediately played the tape in my car and it was one of those touchstone experiences music provides that I'll never forget: a feeling of total harmony came over me. The music sounded bizarre, unlike anything I'd really heard before and yet at the same time I felt I had already heard it a thousand times, like it had always been a part of me. I found myself humming along to something I had only just popped into my tape deck.

The music the lovely Miss Sara provided me with was that now-mythic album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. At the time it was a total question mark to me.  Who in the heck made this?  And how?  I would ponder as I drove.  That tape became my constant companion, and I loved the music more and more fervently.  It sounded like it had come from Mars.  Totally otherworldly.  My imagination ran wild, and I was completely absorbed in picturing the room where this record was created, and what in the world the person who made it was thinking, how it came to be.

These were the days when not every person on the planet had the internet, and I didn't know anyone who could tell me much about Neutral Milk Hotel at the time.  The album seemed like it had been created out of time, and I struggled to learn anything about the people who created it.

Apparently, I was not alone in this, although I certainly felt I was at the time.  Years after I first heard it, the album was named the Number One Most Influential Album of 1993-2003 by Magnet magazine, which kind of surprised me when I heard about it.  Then suddenly it felt like everyone around me was declaring their long-time love of this record. For some reason I genuinely thought that Sara, her friends and I were the only people who had heard the record.  It felt special, as though it was made just for us.  It's great when that happens, isn't it?

Turns out, the record was made by one Jeff Mangum and his friends.  The best place to learn all about its creation is through the 2005 33 1/3 Book about it, which is simply titled In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and was written by Kim Cooper.  After positing this work of genius back in 1998, Mangum promptly disappeared, which is why for so long information was hard to come by.  Something I read once offered the idea that this album had cut so close to the truth that Mangum overwhelmed himself and could no longer produce art for the public.  I kinda go with that theory.  It's been more than 10 years since the record's release and there's word that Mangum is alive and well, living in Brooklyn now, though he has never released anything else.

It's a bit strange after so many years of curiosity about this record and its maker that now you can easily just find a video of Mangum performing, that instant gratification thing.  I actually find it a bit sad, although I, of course, enjoy YouTube as much as the next.  Now that everything is instantly accessible the deliciousness of the mystery, of those long drives and all those chaotic and inquisitive thoughts sparked by one piece of music disappeared.  It's a strange line to dance around, whether to obsessively learn more or just submit to the music itself.  I find myself skirting it with most albums I fall in love with. 

Regardless, if you don't have this record yet, you gotta get your hands on it.

The Stepford Wives

Posted by phil blankenship, May 2, 2008 08:07pm | Post a Comment

M/R/X Wolfpak this Sat Featuring Nervous Gender

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, May 2, 2008 04:00pm | Post a Comment

Fatal Pulse

Posted by phil blankenship, May 2, 2008 09:20am | Post a Comment

Celebrity Video 4002


Posted by Billyjam, May 2, 2008 07:20am | Post a Comment

Not since M.I.A., with her well-publicized turbulent political past, has an artist with such an extraordinary life-story arrived on the scene as Sudanese child soldier turned-rapper Emmanuel Jal.

The musician/songwriter/rapper whose autobiographical album Warchild will be released on May 13th was a featured guest at the premiere of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this week where the documentary about him, the Karim Chrobog directed War Child, made its American premiere. (It had its world premiere earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival.) The film outlines the tough life of this 28 year old musician who was a soldier in the Sudanese People's Liberatin Army when he was only eight years of age.  Jal's autobiography will be published by St. Martin's Press later this year.

His story is truly an amazing one.  But what about the music, you ask?  Well, unlike M.I.A., whose music was even more exciting than the publicity package that preceded her, Emmanuel Jal's new album "Warchild," which was recorded in London in 2006 and 2007, is kinda disappointing -- to these ears anyway, after one full listen. Maybe the hype had me expecting too much.   Sung/rapped mostly in English and veering between reggae and rap, Emmanuel Jal sounds too often like he is trying too hard to emulate popular American rappers and it just ain't working. Hence, he is at his best on the tracks where he isn't trying to streamline his sound for US or British audiences.

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The Latest News from the Wild Kingdom

Posted by Whitmore, May 1, 2008 08:41pm | Post a Comment

I seem to be writing animal obits on a regular basis, I have no idea why, but here is the latest news from the wild kingdom: Japan's oldest Giant Panda, Ling Ling, a favorite at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, died last week. Ling Ling was 22 years and seven months old, the equivalent to about 70 in human years. According to the autopsy, he died of heart failure. He began losing his appetite and strength last August, but recent heart and kidney problems began to take their toll. Ling Ling died just one day after the zoo withdrew him from public view for veterinary treatment. He was the fifth-oldest known male panda in the world.

Born at China's Beijing Zoo in September, 1985, Ling Ling came to Tokyo in 1992 initially for breeding purposes. Since then he had become one of the most popular attractions at the Ueno Zoo. He was also the only Giant Panda at Tokyo’s largest zoo. In recent years Ling Ling traveled to Mexico three times in an effort to mate, but each attempt, like the attempts in Japan, were unsuccessful.

Over the last week Ling Ling's portrait has been displayed in his cage as visitors come to mourn, leaving bouquets, condolences and offerings of bamboo shoots. Giant pandas are one of the rarest and most endangered species on the planet. Only about 1,600 live in the wild in China, mostly on nature reserves in their native mountains and bamboo forests of the Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces.

Hollywood May Day Celebration

Posted by phil blankenship, May 1, 2008 04:51pm | Post a Comment

May 1st

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 1, 2008 04:10pm | Post a Comment
There are a lot of holidays today, chief among them, May Day.


  • Ascension - Catholicism
  • Beltane - Celts/Gaels
  • Constitution Day - Latvia & the Marshall Islands
  • Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
  • Festival of Bona Dea - Rome
  • Kazakh Peoples' Unity Day - Kazakhstan
  • Labor Day AKA Labour Day AKA Workers' Day - Worldwide
  • Law Day - USA
  • Lei Day - Hawaii
  • Loyalty Day - USA
  • Maharashtra Day (Maharashtra Divas) - Maharastra, India
  • National Day of Prayer - USA
  • National Love Day - Czech Republic
  • Save the Rhino Day - USA
  • Taco Truck Night - Los Angeles
  • Virgen de Chapi - Peru

May Day celebrations are rooted in the ancient Celtic/Gaelic practice of Beltane and the Anglo-Saxon/Germanic observances of Walpurgisnacht.  These include crowing the Queen of the May, Morris Dancing, the giving of May Baskets, getting drunk, and the erection of a Maypole.

For a lot of the world, May Day has more to do with labor than olde tyme religion. After the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago, laborers around the world were inspired to express themselves on May Day. In response to this commie tomfoolery, the US designated the day "Loyalty Day" to fight international solidarity among workers and to promote, in its place, blind obedience. It is a legal holiday and one marked by parades in some communities although I've never heard of anyone observing it. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is observing Labor Day.

In parts of Cornwall, a there's a May Day 'Obby 'Oss (Cornish for "Hobby Horse") Festival in which teams of Cornish drunkards terrorise the streets from beneath their 'obby 'osses. Elsewhere in Cornwall, townies build a model of the ship, The Black Prince, and set it (covered in flowers) out to sea.

In St.  Andrews, Scotland, torchbearers run naked into the North Sea after amassing at the beach late the previous night.

In the US, May Day traditions have been downplayed ever since the days of the colonies when such obvious Pagan observances were banned. Today, May Baskets are still filled with flowers and left anonymously on doorsteps in parts of the country. I remember most years running to the door after the bell rang and finding an anonymously left basket of flowers. If culprit is caught, they have to give up a kiss. I never saw the guilty party, however. It was probably my neighbors. Strange...

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Madonna Fans And Haters Agree To Argue Over Age: Can a woman still be sexy or act sexy at 50?

Posted by Billyjam, May 1, 2008 09:06am | Post a Comment

As you most likely well know, Madonna is back with her brand new album Hard Candy (Warner) which hit Amoeba Music shelves earlier this week. What is interesting about this new album from the "Queen of Pop" is that while the artist, who built a career on controversy -- usually via her music videos-- is at perhaps the very least controversial portion of her long extended, ever shape-shifting pop life, she somehow manages to still stir up controversy.

The controversy (or heated discussion) this time amongst the Madonna fans and haters is not about the music, but about age-- her age.  Can a woman still be sexy and/or act sexy at almost 50? (Her birthday's in August.) That is the real question posed by the masses and the issue says more about our culture than about the pop singer who inspired the discussion. 

Pop music doesn't have a history of being particularly kind to its aging stars, especially its female stars, and especially its aging female stars who choose to still act sexy. So the floodgates of debate or controversy over whether Madonna should still be making catchy contemporary pop music -- and, what's more, shaking her stuff while collaborating with the likes of the much younger Timbers -- Timbaland and Timberlake (Justin) -- have opened up.

Not too surprisingly, the best place to go to put a finger on the pulse of what the Madonna fans and haters are really thinking of Madge Version 008, you need go no further than YouTube -- a place where no one minces words, as proven by the swath of comments posted for the video to the new single "4 Minutes" featuring the aforementioned two Timbers. In the time since the video (see below) was posted three weeks ago, the opinions have poured in: divided into the diehard Madonna fans on one side and the Madonna haters on the other, with a substantial group of in-betweeners who are undecided or have mixed feelings in the middle ground.

Continue reading...