Cheri Knight: overlooked Queen of Alt. Country

Posted by Mark Beaver, December 31, 2008 07:15pm | Post a Comment
By all measures, 1990 was a pivotal year for country-rock, or what we came to call "Alt. Country," or even "No Depression," the latter term being the title of the debut album released that year by a country-infused trio out of Belleville, IL., called Uncle Tupelo. I 'm sure I don't need to spend too much time elaborating on the merits of this band that re-awakened a slumbering genre with enough force to have that genre thereafter associated with its debut.

I will say, however, that I own a good number of t-shirts with their name emblazoned on them, as well as t-shirts for the band Son Volt, formed, after Uncle Tupelo's break-up, by Jay Farrar. Out of all proportion to any of my other band T's (and I own many), these Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt t-shirts almost without fail find me being stopped by strangers telling me how much they love those bands.

Now to my real point...

Mining similar material and existing through the same arc of time, a much lesser known band, steeped in bluegrass but pulling it into the 21st century by its fiddle-strings was rockin' its way out of northern New York State. The Blood Oranges featured singer/songwriter/mandolinist Jim Ryan, guitarist Mark Spencer, singer/songwriter/bassist Cheri Knight and drummer Ron Ward. The Blood Oranges were a really, really good band, good enough that Steven Mirkin in a June 1994 Rolling Stone said that they, "...find ways to make country-rock fusion seem like an idea with unlimited potential." They followed their 1990 debut, Corn River with 1992's Lone Green Valley and The Crying Tree in 1994. All of them strong albums and all of them more or less greeted with apathy by the record-buying populace. Then they called it quits.

Cheri Knight, for me, was always the one to watch in the band. Not to say that talent wasn't in surplus with every band member, but Knight was a star in formation. Steven Mirkin perhaps foreshadowed the good things to come from her solo career when he wrote, in a review of The Crying Tree, "Knight has the strongest solo voice, a strong, plaintive mezzo-soprano, not unlike Linda Thompson's. She is also responsible for the album's strongest tunes, "Hell's Half Acre," a crunching rocker of spurned love, and the haunting "Shine."  In fact, "haunting" is Cheri Knight's special talent. Throughout both of her solo albums, The Knitter from 1996 (East Side Digital), and 98's The Northeast Kingdom, there's a clear lean towards the melancholy. There are a few rockers mixed in and through, but both are primarily carved from that primal Appalachian-flavored blend of heartache and sorrow.

For The Knitter, Knight used a band formed of former Del Lords guitarist Eric Ambel, bassist Ray Mason, and dB's drummer Will Rigby, with some additional input from former Blood Orange Spencer and bassist Andy York, who had also helped fill out The Crying Tree.

In the space between the two albums, she found her way into the ear of Steve Earle, who signed her to his E-Squared label and produced Northeast Kingdom. Earle lent his own vocals, guitar, bouzouki, harmonium and cowbell to the mix and brought in his friend Emmylou Harris to lay her (again) haunting backing vocals onto "Dar Glasgow" and "Crawling," the album's most aching ballad. All killer, no filler...really!

I count myself lucky to have seen her perform on the Northeast Kingdom tour at AMOEBA San Francisco in 1998.

In all, Cheri Knight got the same gushing praise from the critics and lukewarm reception from the charts that The Blood Oranges had received. After Northeast Kingdom, she turned her back on recording music and slipped quietly out of sight. I miss her music. If you find a copy of any of the above-mentioned CDs, they are likely to be cheap.

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A Year in the Life of Amoeba Berkeley

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 31, 2008 05:33pm | Post a Comment
Over at Amoeba Music Berkeley, 2008 has been a year full of thrilling instores and special events. Keep reading to check out about some of the hand-picked highlights:

In February, hyperactive punk band the Black Lips stopped by for an energetic instore appearance. You can see all the pictures from this event on our website here. You can also watch an interview and performance from their Amoeba Hollywood appearance right here.

black lips at amoeba

February also saw an instore by Bay Area favorites the Drive By Truckers, who brought a little twang to the Berkeley store on Valentine's Day.

drive by truckers at amoeba

In honor of Record Store Day at the Berkeley store, Pam the Funkstress of The Coup brought it on the ones and twos, several other DJs had sets and gift certificate giveaways occured throughout the day.

pam the funkstress of the coup

In the Spring, the store was treated to the pastoral, golden-toned sounds of local faves Vetiver. You can check out an exclusive interview with frontman Andy Cabic right here and see more pictures from the show here!

Future-Kill Saturday Midnight At The New Beverly

Posted by phil blankenship, December 31, 2008 10:17am | 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 January 3

Future-Kill (1985)

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

Once In A Lifetime Theatrical Screening!


Posted by Billyjam, December 31, 2008 02:02am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music 2008 Hip-Hop Top 90 Chart

1) Atmosphere When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (Rhymesayers)

2) Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple (Atlantic)

3) The Roots Rising Down (Def Jam)

4) Lil Wayne Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal)

5) T.I. Paper Trail
 (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)

It's the end of another great richly diverse and prolific year in hip-hop music and time to look back at what hip-hop was hot at Amoeba Music during 2008. Hence, here is the Amoeba Music 2008 Hip-Hop Top 90 Chart (above & below) which represents what people were buying this year in hip-hop at Amoeba's three lil wayne tha carter iiistores. This list is compiled from the weekly hip-hop charts submitted to the Amoeblog during 2008 by the hip-hop departments in the three Amoeba stores. Special thanks to Luis at Amoeba San Francisco, Tunde at Amoeba Berkeley, and Marques at Amoeba Hollywood for taking time to calculate & submit these weekly top five charts which they based on hip-hop CD album sales in their resepctive stores.

To determine this final annual chart, all of the Amoeblog published weekly top five charts were added up and sorted and configurated by both the number of times each release appeared on weekly charts and what position(s) were reached each time(s). While this annual chart is a good guideline to what hip-hop CDs sold at Amoeba's three stores during 2008, it is by no means an exact science nor an exact representation of precise sales figures, but more of a overview of the titles that were popular at the stores in 2008. the roots rising downFurthermore, due to the fact that the weekly charts officially began after three months into 2008, there may be some worthy album titles absent from this chart. Meanwhile, some new releases that were still selling well after the last Top Five chart was complied may not chart exactly as expected. But like I said, it ain't perfect but it is a good overview of much of what was been sought & bought at Amoeba Music in hip-hop in 2008.

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A Year in the Life of Amoeba San Francisco

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 30, 2008 07:18pm | Post a Comment
It's been yet another eventful year here at Amoeba San Francisco, our 11th here on Haight Street! Below is a sort of best-of, a bunch of the highlights from the year for us, from instores to holiday events-- read on to celebrate the end of 2008 with us!

Going back to January 2008, we kicked off the new year with a groovy instore from Devendra Banhart.

devendra banhart at amoeba

January also saw the second annual Amoeba Art Show, held at the Space Gallery here in San Francisco. Many of Amoeba's employees, you see, are also fantastic artists, and so a huge gathering of pieces created by said employees from both the Berkeley and San Francisco Amoeba stores was shown, and the event also included some music, drinking and general hobnobbing. The art below was created by Amoeba Berkeley's Zak Wilson. More info about the event can be found here.

Then, in February, Vampire Weekend hit the stage for a HUGE and thrilling performance. You can go right here for a review and all the photos from that show.

Unitarded: 20 Questions with the multi-talented Borts Minorts...

Posted by Kells, December 30, 2008 01:55pm | Post a Comment

A few years back I went to my first Borts Minorts show in San Francisco. I'm still not sure how to describe what I saw, how it happened or why I'll never forget it; It was, plainly speaking, singularly awesome, like nothing I had seen before! I laughed, I danced, I marveled -- I had an amazing time. Since that initial exposure I have come to hold Borts Minorts in high esteem as an artist, musician and uber-performer. He seems fearless, knows no limits and appears physically capable of accomplishing any feat no matter how extraordinary the act. In short: there is no telling what his next move will be, ever. It's not for nothing that he's been nominated twice for SF Weekly's Best Experimental Music award. One thing I know for sure is that anyone who can get their butt out to the Hemlock Tavern this Wednesday night, -- that's right, New Year's Eve -- will be in for a rare (Borts, alas, has relocated to New York) treat, as Borts Minorts will be showing you how he likes to party, performing live on the last and first night(s) of the year(s). I am so pleased he agreed to play 20 Questions with me:

1. How old is Borts Minorts?  It is thought that I am now 38,000 years old.

2. Where does Borts come from? Borts Minorts comes from the past and future simultaniously and only actually exists in this world when on stage.

3. What are your musical/artistic influences? The artistic collaboration of Michael Clark, Leigh Bowery and the Fall would possibly be my biggest influence. The movie Legend of Leigh Bowery changed my life artistically. Leigh Bowery was an incredible artist. Also, when I was a kid I saw Klaus Nomi on SNL and it scared the shit out of me. That always really stuck with me. Then when I saw Nomi Song and saw what he did on stage in the early days it REALLY inspired me to create something new and different.

4. What is your creative process like? The musical creative process has been a lot of late nights sitting in front of my computer cutting and pasting and creating beats and drinking strong Belgian beer and red wine and laughing hysterically to myself. Then there is the dance side to it which is some of the most fun I've ever had creating anything. With the dancers, we always try and combine the most wrong moves possible to create something really hilarious!

5. Why so unitarded? I can't help it. 

6. Do you feel you can relate to "Diamond" David Lee Roth as a brother in dance/vocal performance and as a lycra/spandex enthusiast? Totally! Diamond Dave would be one of my earliest rock frontman influences. What a showman he was back in the day and showmanship has always been really important to me on stage!

7. What do you think of Slim Goodbody? 
I god, where can I get one of those unitards??? I also think he was possibly a long lost relative to Richard Simmons and Leo Sayer. Slim was for sure an early influence.

8. What was the first record you bought with your own money? Kiss Alive ll! I was 7 years old. My parents took me to this department store and had me pick out a record with money I had saved. It was between the record with the guy spitting up blood (Kiss Alive 2) or an album that had a skeleton playing the violin (Grateful Dead Blues for Allah). It was a really tough choice. I ended up with Kiss Alive 2. I think it was the decision of a lifetime!

9. What are your musical inspirations? Iggy Pop, Klaus Nomi, Three Day Stubble, Magma, Cocteau Twins, Zeek Sheck, Tim Buckley's Star Sailor album, Naked City, ShostakovichJames Brown, Nina Hagen, Yoko Ono, Caroliner Rainbow, Ronnie James Dio, Frank Stallone, Ub Zub, Rod McKuen...

10. If you could choose to be any album cover art incarnate which one would you be? 
Herb Albert's Whipped Cream and Other Delights

11. What kind of music do you like better: Rock 'n' Roll or Free Jazz? Today Free Jazz...yesterday was Rock and Roll.

12. Do people often have misconceptions about Borts? if so what are they? That I'm some sort of alien.

13. How many hours a night do you sleep? Six if i'm lucky.

14. What would be your dream collaboration? Oh my...where to about...Kronos Quartet and Borts Minorts would be awesome!!

15. What's your favorite music for dancing? Late sixties early seventies James Brown definitely.

16. High kicks or headstands? High kicks! I like to fly on stage!

17. Trampoline or roller skates? Trampoline on rollerskates!

18. Who will be performing with you this Wednesday at the Hemlock and what will they be doing? The line up will be the West Coast All Stars! We'll have Rhonda and Punope dancing, then we will have our beloved Nordic flute Goddess, Melting Razor, driving up from L.A. to play the flute and sing operatic backing vocals, and we will have multi instrumentalist tennis instructor CHAD playing the Theremin, Xylophone, slide trumpet, bath house brass and other musical oddities. Also singing some backing vocals and pressing the space bar on the laptop between songs in full security professionalism will be Borts stage icon DOCTOR DOCTOR! This all of course is layered on top of the 700mph pre recorded jumbled up messed up beats that I sing on top. After the Hemlock show, we drive to L.A. and play a gig there Saturday night with Fort King at Pehrspace. The line up for that will be Helen Beard and Punope dancing along with Melting Razor on Flute.

19. Will you be playing your ski-bass or anything else exclusive to your repertoire? Yes! Of course I will be playing the 1 string electric stand up ski bass along with my newest musical invention called THE STUMPTAR! The Stumptar is an electric Sitar I made out of a tree stump with a guitar neck on it. I took the frets off the guitar neck so it gives it a Sitar sound. YOU MUST COME AND EXPERIENCE IT! 
20. If you were a hot dog would you eat yourself? No.

That's okay Borts, I know a lot of people who would! Thanks so much for playing 20 Questions, we'll be seeing you tomorrow night at the Hemlock...Happy New Year!

Books on Film: J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

Posted by Kells, December 30, 2008 12:07pm | Post a Comment

At the end of every year the urge to take in several hours of epic cinema storytelling never fails at filling my darkest mid-winter nights with adventure. What better way is there to spend all that spare "holiday season" time than enjoying a bit of movie magic? Ever since my childhood I've been romanced by the otherworldly wiles of fantasy films, being always at my most vulnerable around Christmas with an easy schedule and a heightened desire to escape into the imagination I possessed as a little girl where I could be as Grace Jones-crazy (Conan the Destroyer), Tanya Roberts-sexy (Sheena), Nigel Terry-valiant, Nicol Willamson-wise (King Arthur and Merlin, respectively, in John Boorman's Excalibur) and Brigitte Neilsen fierce (Red Sonja.) Surely I needn't mention how easily I took to playing Dungeons and Dragons in my teens or how largely Led Zeppelin figured into my lifelong playlist -- anyone who can claim the feeling of being partially raised by fantasy and sci fi flicks takes to rock 'n' role-play like a good sword to a well-oiled sheath. However, I would like to point out how deeply one Englishman, who was recently voted the 92nd "greatest Briton," John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, has irreversibly influenced contemporary popular culture forever by writing faerie stories to entertain his children. Being a big Tolkien nerd myself, I count him in the topmost of my top ten "greatest Britons," after a handful of musicians, writers and and that Arturus Rex guy.

Love it or loathe it, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga has made a significantly comfy niche for itself within the ever-evolving pop culture realms of the last fifty years. Here's how I figure it: if it weren't for Tolkien's love of his family and, with the same esteem, an Old English epic poem called Beowulf, then there wouldn't be a little story called The Hobbit. If it weren't for Tolkien's The Hobbit there wouldn't be Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. If it weren't for either of these, baby boomers wouldn't have old "Frodo Lives" buttons to stumble upon amongst their keepsakes, there would be at least four tracks missing from any given issue of a Led Zeppelin's greatest hits collection ("Over the Hills and Far Away," "Misty Mountain Hop," "Battle of Evermore," and "Ramble On" offer the most direct of direct references to Tolkien's text), Dungeons and Dragons might be played under the more clunky and less promising moniker Witches and Wardrobes, there'd be no Sindarian or any other languages devised by Tolkien for mythology geeks to flex into their extracurriculars, and the Black Metal aisle at Amoeba would be, let's face it, considerably thinner in theme and content, being bereft of such a deep well to draw their inspiration from. In fact, browsing the Metal section is like to exploring Middle Earth itself (with a heavy focus on the realm of Mordor, of course) with band names like Amon Amarth (the Sindarian name for Mount Doom), Cirith Ungol, Gogoroth, as well as Sauron, Isengard, Nazgul and Cirith Gorgor popping up here and there in a veritable roll call of Lord of the Rings faces and places. Heck, I know of more than one working band at Amoeba that would lose either a handfull of songs (Prizehog claims at least two songs are inspired by Lord of the Rings) or a band name altogether (Crebain is named after Saruman's murder of crow-spies). Then there are albums that owe their creation to Tolkien's imagination, like Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth and songs like Summoning's "Khazad Dum" -- the list goes on and on.

Most of all, and this of the utmost importance, without Tolkien's work I'd be out of roughly twelve hours of tremendously awesome holiday movie viewing, for there would be no Lord of the Rings extended cut, dare-you-to-watch-all-three-DVDs for my friends and I to absorb for days in a row before the year turns in; without this story, New Zealand, along with one of her favorite sons, Peter Jackson, would be masterpiece-less. (Fun fact: Jackson's film Return of the King, based on the third book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, won eleven Academy Awards, sweeping every category it was nominated for, including best picture.)

I love, love, love the Lord of the Rings, both Tolkien's text and Jackson's cinematic interpretation. The two are such separate entities, yet as closely related as a father recognizing himself in the face of his son. The adaption from book to film is nothing less than fantastic despite all the original material that didn't make the cut. Many fans of the books, I'm sure, find their knowledge of the story missing from time to time when watching Jackson's films, moments lost in translation as it were. I, for one, would like to know what happened to Tom Bombadil, that crazy little deus ex machina from the Fellowship of the Ring? I remember sitting in the theater musing on how unfortunately swift the hobbit's jaunt from the Shire to the village of Bree was; in chopping Tom's portion of the tale there'd be no Goldberry, Tom's river-spirit wife, no Old Man Willow to trap Merry and Pippin, and no Barrow-wights to encounter. I really wanted to see that send off where Tom gives the hobbits their long daggers -- treasures exhumed from the barrows, thus arming the halflings before they leave the Old Forest to make for Bree (in the movie "Strider" mysteriously provides the hobbits with weapons as they set up camp on Weathertop, but I digress...). When it comes to fingering out the differences between the yarns spun by Tolkein and the sweater knit by Jackson, one could indulge in a long rut of fault-finding and nit-pickery indeed, but those folks overly concerned with minor details no doubt may find other ways in which to satisfy their interests, like fawning over the work of the genii at Weta Workshop. [Weta Workshop -- the creative visual design and digital/creature effects juggernaut responsible for a heaping helpings of movie magic that transformed everything "normal view" into Middle Earth milieu in Jackson's movies, has since created one of those nerdy trading-card games featuring rather fantastic-looking images of many characters from the Lord of the Rings book that never made it into the movies like, for example, Radagast the Brown pictured above with (cut outs of) his fellow wizards.]

Merely viewing the Lord of the Rings film trilogy this time around wasn't enough; my friend and I proceeded to dig deeper into the saga by exploring all the production featurettes and behind-the-scenes secrets that comprise the six extra discs and we were pleased to discover that not only was it way worth our time, but we learned so much as we sat spellbound while taking in the cleverness of naive camera effects like forced perspective, physically involved innovations like "big rigs," and advanced special effects which in many cases proved to be movie magic history in the making. It was like a film school crash course focused only on the fun stuff. Also, if you love drama, there is no shortage of human pageantry to be absorbed in viewing the many personal stories of connection, stress, love and heartbreak that unfold in much of the less-technical behind-the-scenes features. There is also, both within the films and the special features, no shortage of beautiful men, bearded or otherwise. This is one so-called "dick flick" that has others beat in the manscape department, with a cast of mostly men whose mannerisms and appearances span a broad aesthetic scope. Not to discount the lady actors -- I just have to give up major kudos to the casting director who has impeccable taste. 

For my part, I find myself so pleased in viewing the Lord of the Rings trilogy this year that I equate the experience to a spell of therapeutic healing of sorts. Having watched all the films, and much of the bonus material for extra credit, I feel really good. It feels a lot like that thankful relief I felt at approximately 8pm on November 7th, 2008 -- election night. Maybe this is coming from way out there, and I know it's gonna come off real dopey, but the only word uttered almost as much as the words "ring" or "Frodo" in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy is the word "hope." Make of it what you will, right now I feel as though I just pounded brimming pints of the "hope." And I feel good, even better than the Precious. Here are a few more beards for the road:

Here's hoping The Hobbit (the movie) turns out even half as well....

(In which Job & Corey cuddle with comedy & cookies.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 30, 2008 12:06pm | Post a Comment

The author & his beloved celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

It’s been a leisurely day, hanging at my boyfriend’s house. We’ve both been productive in our way; I’ve been souping up my new iPhone while he’s busied himself by setting people on fire and yanking things out of the bodies of little girls. It’s called Bio-Shock, and it’s a video game – don’t go calling the cops on my boyfriend. He almost never does those things in real life.

You know how human bodies are 55% to 60% water? I think, by now, my body is like 65% cookies. My holiday has been overwhelmed by cookies. I think I might hate them now. I’ve been bringing them to Amoeba and pushing them on our customers. If you want cookies, brother, come to the jazz room information desk at Amoeba Music Hollywood. I’ll help you find Pink Martini only if you first eat four peanut blossoms.

Lately, when my boyfriend and I go to bed together these winter nights, we’ve been doing the same thing.

…Er… Okay. I’m going to give you a moment to enjoy your imagination.

Okay, dear reader, if you’re quite done, I’ll tell you what we really do.

Curled beneath the covers, we’ve been watching sketch comedy on his laptop. It’s the perfect way to pass the time as you wait for the melatonin to kick in. And much more relaxing than our previous habit of watching Taliban executions and/or Carol Channing musicals. (It’s interesting to note that both will give you the same, horrific nightmares.)


I’m constantly ransacking the DVD section of Amoeba in search of used copies of sketch comedy. For Christ Mass, I bought Corey two season sets of Kids in the Hall.

Who doesn’t love Kids in the Hall? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. If you don’t, I guess I don’t mind – so long as you keep it to yourself – behind closed doors – and don’t try to push your not-loving-them on me and my life. …And don’t teach children. …And don’t get married.

Not loving Kids in the Hall is an abomination unto the Lord, you know.

Another keeper is French & Saunders, the brainchild of Dawn French – star of many British TV shows – and Jennifer Saunders, who went on to write and star in Absolutely Fabulous, a show which stemmed from a single sketch on French & Saunders. (You might also recognize Jennifer Saunders from various cameos in another show I think is swell, The Young Ones.)

French & Saunders is simple. They took whatever was hot in pop culture and made fun of it. In this way, the show is not only funny, but stands as a kind of time capsule of popular culture.

In today’s entertainment landscape, where it takes Sarah Silverman posing as Evita and singing about her fake AIDS, or the mass, pastel-colored carnage of South Park’s Imaginationland, French & Saunders may be too old-fashioned for some, but I like it – but that does not mean I’m old fashioned! Now then, where are my horehound candies? I just set them next to the Victrola a second ago…

I recently stumbled upon another British sketch show, Man Stroke Woman. No one seems to know about this one, so I’m telling you now. It focuses on, but is not limited to, making light of the communication (or lack thereof) between men and women. Neurosis, cruelty, alienation, child abuse – all the great comedy elements are there. Check it out.

Okay – that’s it for now. Time to cook my boyfriend and myself some vittles. You’re welcome to join us for dinner, if you like. We’re having leftover cookie loaf in a melted chunk cookie gravy with a side of Tandoori oven smoked cookie in a cookie reduction, topped with cookie sprinkles. For dessert I’m serving cookies, but if you’d rather have cheese or salad, I have cookies. RSVP.

(((6))) this Sunday @ Echo Curio

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 30, 2008 10:42am | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, December 30, 2008 08:13am | Post a Comment

1) Paris Acid Reflex (Guerrilla Funk)

2) DJ Quest Questolous (Zebra Quest Records)

3) NaS untitled (Def Jam)

4) Mochipet MICROPHONEPET (Daly City)

5) Atmosphere When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold
(Rhymesayers Entertainment)

6) Azeem Air Cartoons (Oaklyn)

7) J-Live Then What Happened? (BBE)

8) Large Pro Main Source (Gold Dust)

9) Raashan Ahmad The Push (OM)

10) Madlib the Beat Konducta, WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip  

11) Steinski Steinski: What does it all mean: 1983-2006 Retrospective (Illegal Art)

12) dan le sac VS scroobius pip Angles (Strange Famous)

13) Ill Insanity Ground Xero (Fat Beats)

14) Jake One White Van Music (Rhymesayers)

15) Mighty Underdogs Droppin' Science Fiction (Definitive Jux)

Continue reading...

A Year in the Life of Amoeba Hollywood -- Year of Sanitation, the Potato, the Frog, the Planet Earth, Languages, Intercultural Dialogue & the Rat

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 30, 2008 01:33am | Post a Comment

2008 The Year in Review

movies set in 2008

Well, first of all, I’d like to point out what 2008 wasn’t. I mean, probably 2000 and 2001 are the most famous years of the oughts in speculative fiction. However, 2008 also piqued the imagination of Science-Fictionalists. Silent Running didn't resemble my 2008 much, although something kept knocking the ficus in my back yard over which did make me angry. I didn't hear about anything that fit in with the prophecies offered in Jason X. But perhaps no speculation about what 2008 would be like was the 2006 film, The Lake House. I mean, come on. They really thought that in just two years we'd have magic mailboxes that would allow us to send love letter to the past. People get real!

Cassandra moaning about something                                                                  I don't know

No, 2008 was more like most years than all the hysterical Cassandras out there would have us believe. Global warming fuelling massive natural disasters. Political scandals of sexual and corrupt natures were rampant to the Left and Right. Car bombs and suicide bombs killed scores daily. Unending oil wars waged in the Middle East. Somali was insane. There was horrendous, state-sponsored terrorism in Burma, Darfur, East Turekstan, Palestine, Tibet and the Democratic Republic of Congo (where the death toll is estimated to be around 5.4 million. Yet presumably because their main resource is cobalt, the world turns a blind eye to the most destructive war since WWII). Like William Joel sang in his Baby Boomers-exonerating hit, “We didn’t start the fire.”

                   *sigh* kids today                                                              omg we're having stove-top at 5:00 lolz

Sure, there were new problems that hadn’t been burning since the world’s been turning. Record high gas prices and a global financial crisis are all anyone in the news will talk about these days and almost all wrap-ups of the year end with an utterance of “good riddance.” As my generation's Billy Joel, Silkk the Shocker, sang, "It ain't my fault." But what about the good stuff? Despite Americans being morbidly obsese, our life expectancy reached a new high this year and cases of stroke and heart disease actually dropped. The divorce rate reached its lowest point as women everywhere decided to wait until after junior high school to tie the knot. What about all the cyber-bullying youth, with their hideous hoodies and the constant texting as they try to find out where the rainbow parties... not to mention their ending of every sentence with a skin-crawling “lol?” Well the juvenile crime rate has reached its lowest level in 25 years as kids today commit most of their crimes on the streets of Vice City. It even turns out all that texting is just their attempt to co-ordinate with their friends so that they can eat Stovetop Stuffing as much as possible. The sweatshirts are hideous though.

                       Hell in a handbasket                                         The hallmark of the Summer of Love - race riots   
What’s more, despite all the depressing coverage about a handbasket being used carry the world into the firey maw of Moloch, there are actually fewer active wars taking place on Earth right now than ever before. Violent crime in the US continues to drop to lows not seen since crime statistics were first tallied back in the good old days of the Vietnam War, the Boston Strangler, wars in the Middle East, widespread race riots and apartheid -- a year that Baby Boomers affectionately refer to as “The Summer of Love.” So even as local news reporters are sent further and further to find evidence of society’s inevitable collapse and Koreatown corners are filled with crazy old ladies shouting into megaphones about the end times, I believe that things are slowly moving in the right direction.

2008 at Amoeba

Amoeba was perhaps a respite from the topsy-turvy coo-coo crazy world outside. soothed our souls with the hilarious and informative writings of its bloggers. There are also webcasts, the Music We Like section (wherein scads of CDs are available for $10.98 or less), free-downloads for those feeling the pinch, footage of our beloved in-store performances, photos, interviews, contests. I mean, if you’re reading this, you probably know a lot of that already, but take some time to peruse the site.

Gabriela showing off the Music We Like section

And don’t forget about the store itself. There were many changes afoot here too. First the DVD department added a Movies We Like section where our staff of all stripes recommend movies they truly love. Check out Dave's Raves, Eric B., erc, Gillian's Picks, Matt's Selections, Phil's Phile, Reece's Pieces, Simon Says (The Master of Movies), Tiffany, T-K- and many more. Once you've got a taste for their tastes, it's a great way to pick up something that comes highly recomended from your favorite cineaste. Shortly after the mezzanites made their section, the followers in the Jazz room followed -- but they did the mezzanine movie staffers one better by all growing or retaining facial hair. And, in a major coup, they moved the Experimental section from the Rock floor to their room in the back.

Bike enthusiasts and small car owners didn't feel the "pinch at the punch"

The “Winds of January sigh and moan” crooned Bing, although it felt like June because he was in love. For the rest of us, January marked oil barrels hitting $100 for the first time, ushering in 2008 on a sour note. And yet, like many of the coming obstacles that we faced, there was a silver lining. Americans actually drove less. And new car buyers overcame their fears that good mileage was unmanly and started buying sensible cars... which weren’t coming out of Detroit.
“While friends cry o're their bones unburied /Go sighing through the north east winds/ These cold days of February” sang the love ‘em or hate ‘em Incredible String Band. Kosovo declared its independence over the objections of some major global forces. But all was quiet on the Amoeba front aside from the indescribable in-stores from the Kids of Widney High and Kimya Dawson.

In my favorite song by Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Águas de Março,” the bossa nova giant sang “É a chuva chovendo, é conversa ribeira. Das águas de março, é o fim da canseira,” which may mean something completely awful. It could be about Julius Caesar being stabbed 23 times on the Ides -- I don’t know -- but Portuguese makes everything sound soothing. The only stabbing at Amoeba in March was the DJ stylings of Bronx’s Pete Rock, who played an in-store. So did the Welsh/Buckeye collaboration Neon Neon and Floridian murder balladeer Jim White.

Amoeba also toppedLos Angeles Magazine's 64 Greatest Things about LA list, edging out the competition which seemed to be mostly made-up of west side eateries that I’ve never heard of but assume are great places for celebrity worshippers. For the non-West Siders, they gave us "Taco Trucks" and "the Watts Towers" which I'm sure the writers are big fans of.
At the end of the month, the light finally reached earth from an explosion that occurred 7.5 billion light years away. Never before had an event observable to the human eye occurred so far away but unfortunately, no one was watching.

In February, Amoeba also celebrated Mardi Gras, as we always do -- in style.
“Still fall the April rain and the valley’s filled with pain,” Deep Purple portentously noted. But, whilst the valley may’ve been filled with pain, Amoeba is located safely on the other side of the hills where all was good. Peanut Butter Wolf, possessor of incredibly esoteric vinyl, played an in-store shortly after blessing us with Ladies First, a “Female Rap Mix CD” which mixed tracks by 30 mostly-unknown female rappers.
April 19th was Record Store Day, celebrated by hundreds of indie music stores across the US. At Amoeba Hollywood it was observed with gift certificate giveaways, a commemorative t-shirt, prizes and guest DJ sets from Peanut Butter Wolf and the Donnas. Five days later, the Kiwi duo/TV stars known as Flight of the Conchords played an in-store  to a diverse, enormous and rabid crowd who came from far and who lined up for hours to be treated to their comical songs. 

May is supposed to be the month when flowers are brought forth by March winds and April showers. 2008’s May, however, was marked instead by horrible natural disasters. Cyclone Nargis killed over 130,000 people in Burma and then, a little over a week later, the Chingdu earthquake killed almost 70,000 in Sichuan. On a smaller scale, the final HD DVDs were released in the US, the disaster-themed Twister and the disasterously-reviewed P.S. I Love You. Shortly afterward, the plug was pulled on the format. If there was a silver lining in all this, it was for those Xbox360 owners who can now by the HD titles for $7.99 and less! And if you find 3 red tag titles for $4.99, you get another of equal price for free!

Back before he was an MTV staple with his band, Cracker, David Lowery successfully rhymed June and moon (but not spoon) when he sang, “And the harvest moon top reign in the sky (now that it's June).” He was, of course, wrong about the timing, as the Harvest Moon occurs in September. June’s moon is known as the Strawberry moon, the Rose moon, the Honey moon or the Mead moon. It’s a long way from June to September, but over in Santa Monica on the Pier, the Twilight Dance Series brings free concerts throughout that period. This year, at Amoeba’s booth there, $3000 was raised for VillagePace, Communities for a Better Environment, One Kid One World and the Surfrider Foundation.

At the Skirball Cultural Center, Bob Dylan's American Journey, 1956-1966 ran. It featured more than 160 Dylan artifacts including handwritten lyrics, concert posters and a recording of his never commercially released first concert.  
“But I don't even know now and June becomes July” sang forgotten Weller-worshiping dad rockers, Ocean Colour Scene. And although July’s arrival left the Brummie ex-Baggies confused, two things were certain about the Dog Days. The pre-commercial Grunge pioneers the Melvins sludgily took the Amoeba stage, and former Y Kant Tori Read frontwoman Tori Amos signed copies of Comic Book Tattoo, a book containing 51 stories inspired by particular Amos songs.
 “I said August is all that I know, It’s with me wherever I go.” Typical drug-induced nonsense or inscrutable prophecy from Love’s Arthur Lee? Did Lee, like Tom Clancy, know that Georgia would invade South Ossetia and Abkhazia? I don’t know, but it happened two years and five days after Lee’s passing. In a two-faced application of US foreign policy, the US backed the Georgian aggressors and Condeleezza Rice uttered one of her funniest condemnations without a trace of irony that, “[Russia can’t] threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, and overthrow a government, and get away with it. “ No, only we can do that, Silly Rabbit!
The skies were sunnier at “The One-Eyed City” (as I once heard a child refer to Amoeba). Brian Wilson rolled up in Caddie and did a signing. And Matthew Sweet power-popped for his fans and a black-haired crowd rapturously took in the breathless vocal stylings of pescetarian from the plains, Conor Oberst and his Mystic Valley Band.
“But the days grow short when you reach September,” wrote Maxwell Anderson. Probably not short enough for Lehman Brothers, who filed for bankruptcy that month. But Amoeba-fans found much to enjoy during the long September nights with instores from the Pretenders and Lee Scratch Perry as well as frequent video game-featured local rapper, MURS. The Tuareg and Wodaabe musicians in Etran Finatawa played an instore that showed why they’re quickly making a name for themselves in Niger’s music scene.
October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear, do I care?” Irish poet/activist Bono once asked. Many people did care about the massive global financial crisis. It wasn’t all gloom and doom in the season of the witch, however. From the 9th to the 13th, Freewaves presented the Hollywould Festival in which 160 experimental videos, films and media art transformed the normally normally-best-avoided Walk of Fame into a mostly free showcase for experimental, global art. 

October also marked the release of Guitar Hero – World Tour. With the Amoeba stage appearing as one of the performance venues, Amoeba was dragged into video game world. Finally! Now we stock a variety of games for all the major formats including PCs, Macs, PSP, XBOX360, PS3, DS, Gameboy and even, on occasion, Dreamcast as well as Sega Genesis and NES cartridges.

Just in time. Studies have shown that sales of video games (as well as make-up, lottery tickets and booze) have increased in these economically trouble times as people turn to alternative ways of cheering themselves up.  

In October, fans were also treated to an in-store by Ralph Nader-supporter, Jackson Browne. I forgot that he wrote Nico’s “These Days.”  


A ginger Hoosier once sagely pointed out that “Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.” Indeed, November rain proved ephemeral as did the events that occurred that month. Everyone was glued to their sets on election night and witnessed the election of the US’s first half-black (and, less discussed, half-white) president. Water was discovered on Mars. The Donnas stopped by the store to promote their new record and tell us what’s in their bag. One person presumably not thrilled with the election of a Democratic president was cryptic, Missoulian filmmaker David Lynch. He stopped by Amoeba and at least eased fans’ garmonbozia by autographing copies of his Lime Green Set, a mysterious box set full of wonderful things (tiny old people not included).

We do mail order now... and we changed our window display

Amoeba also started treating customers to our brand new mail order service. Now you can have Amoeba ship most of our product to your doorstep, wherever you live in the world. Falkland Islands? We’ve got you! Kenya? Why, yes we ken. We didn’t forget about you, Andorra. You can email us, fax your list or send a telegram and our personal shoppers will take care of the rest.

I went to New Orleans in November. I went to New Orleans a few weeks ago. If you just go to the tourist areas of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Carrollton or St. Charles you’d think that New Orleans looks great, maybe even better than before. But stroll up to Barrone and look north and it’s jawdropping how bad it remains. I saw rebuilding and restoration in the 17th to the 9th wards but there is a long way to go. Luckily, Amoeba continues to host auctions the first Saturday of each month, where you can but all sorts of odd merchandise and hear the Spin Doctors-centric comedy stylings of auctioneer, Brently Heilbron. Thus far, the auctions have aised over $200,000 dollars in aid, $26,000 this year. In addition to helping in rebuilding of New Orleans, a portion goes to global environmental relief charities.

Los Angeles in December
“This is my December/This is my snow covered home/This is my December /This is me alone.” The lyrics of Linkin Park seemed to perfectly capture the beauty and sadness of Los Angeles’s brief rainy season. The air grew crisp and clear and Angelenos were treated to the sight of snow in the mountains. Macca’s record, Amoeba’s Secret Gig, (recorded at an historic in-store in 2007) earned a couple of Grammy nominations. Fuzzy and furry local space rockers, Darker My Love played an instore. And Amoeba’s legendary (and also furry) Jingle Cat spread holiday cheer, this year accompanied by Jingle Baby. It was also the season for our holiday party, where I was blessed with the company of the enigmatic lovely, Ngoc Nguyen.


So while I don’t share the relentless negativity of all the newcasters on public radio who basically bid 2008 “good riddance,” I am pretty sure 2009 will be better.  Keep checking the website because some major changes are coming. I promise they’ll be amazing and if I’m wrong, you can buy me lunch.

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Posted by Billyjam, December 29, 2008 04:00pm | Post a Comment
Freddie Hubbard
Legendary jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, who had been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack and multiple organ failure a month ago, reportedly died earlier today (12/29) in Sherman Oaks, CA according to several sources including Billboard magazine, AP, and Jazz Chronicles. Hubbard was 70 years of age.

Born in Indianapolis, Hubbard moved to New York in the late fifties where his career took off soon after. Known primarily for playing in the bebop, hard bop and post bop styles from the early 60s onwards, Freddie Hubbard has played with such jazz greats as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, McCoy Tyner, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson, Quincy Jones, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock during his illustrious career.
Freddie Hubbard Red Clay
Hubbard worked with Hancock on five albums over a dozen years, including on Hancock's 1964 Empyrean Isles which also featured Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums. The ever-prolific Hubbard played on more than 300 recordings, including his own solo output which included his acclaimed 1970 soul/funk influenced hard bop album Red Clay, marking a change in his style and a promise of what was to come from the artist who continued to record through the 80's and into the beginning of the 1990's. In 2006 Hubbard was bestowed with the National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Masters Award.

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Amoeba Hollywood Cuban & Salsa Best Sellers

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 29, 2008 02:25am | Post a Comment
1.The Buena Vista Social Club -Live At Carnegie Hall
2. Omara Portuondo-Gracia
3. Candido Y Su Movimiento - Palos De Fuego
4. Willie Colon- El Malo Vol. II: Prisioneros Del Mambo
5. Jose Lugo-Guasabara
6.Tabaco Y Su Metales-Grandes Exitos
7. Pachapo-El Super Tumbao
8. Tony Rojas-Introducing Tony Rojas
9. The Buena Vista Social Club-S/T
10. Bebo Valdes/Javier Colina - Live At The Village Vanguard

Once again The Buena Vista Social Club franchise ruled the Christmas charts, coming in at number one, two and nine. Live At Carnegie Hall is the full concert that you see towards the end of the Buena Vista Social Club movie. Omara Portuondo's latest came with much hype from NPR, which fueled her sales.  The Buena Vista Social Club is usually a safe bet at Christmas time.The movie was a great and all the stories behind the musicians involved are quite triumphant. However, if you want something a little more modern, there are releases from Willie Colon and pianist Jose Lugo (not to be confused with the Seattle Mairiner pitcher with the same name), which round off the top five. Colon’s El Malo Vol. II: Prisioneros Del Mambo is Willie’s first album in eleven years and Jose Lugo's effort has many special guests from Bobby Valentin to Gilberto Santa Rosa. Fans of modern day Hard Salsa should love this.

Candido Y Su Movimiento, Tabaco Y Su Metales, Pachapo and Tony Rojas' releases are all re-issues of their classic titles that were long out of print. It's nice to see many classic Salsa releases besides the Fania reissues coming back in print.

The ninety-year old Bebo Valdes continues to make great recordings. This time he pairs himself with Javier Colina, a bassist from Spain. Once again Bebo finds himself nominated for a Grammy for this release. One could say it’s an act of tokenism and perhaps it is, but I really believe Bebo has gotten better with age. He is the one “celebrity” that has come to Amoeba that I can say I'm truly in awe of.

Amoeba Hollywood Latin Rock & Pop Best Sellers

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 29, 2008 01:22am | Post a Comment
These are the top selling Latin Rock & Pop titles at Amoeba Hollywood from the dates of November 28th through December 28, 2008. Maybe you were lucky enough to get one of these releases as a gift. If not, maybe you can buy it for yourself!
1. Aterciopelados-Rio
2. Rodrigo Y Gabriela-Live In Japan
3. Calle 13-Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo
4. V/A-Arriba La Cumbia
5. Ricardo Arjona-Quinto Piso
6. Eydie Gorme Y Los Panchos -Cantan En Español
7. Juana Molina-Un Dia
8. Monica Naranjo-Tarantula
9. Juanes-La Vida Es Un Ratico En Vivo
10. Manu Chao-Clandestino

Aterciopelados' newest release took the top spot. Released in early November, it didn’t sell that well upon release but it picked up steam as the gift giving days approached. The same went for the live Rodrigo Y Gabriela. For the most part, live releases don’t do too well but Rodrigo Y Gabriela are known for the intense live shows and this made a great gift for anyone who went to their shows or hopes to see them live in the future.

Calle 13s latest is good but it’s hard not to compare it their previous releases. It’s not that Los De Atras is a bad album, it's just that they set the bar so high with last year’s Residente o Visitante that anything they would have done would be considered a drop-off. Still, there are plenty of great tracks on the album and Calle 13 continues to be one of the most original groups around.

At the number four spot is the Arriba La Cumbia compilation on the Crammed label. Compiled by Russ Jones out of England, Jones mixed Electro, Villiera, Traditional, Reggaeton and Merengue all with Cumbia elements. This was the perfect impulse item, as every time we played in the store we sold a bunch.   

I think people buy Eydie Gorme Y Los Panchos as a gift to relive their childhood memories. Like drinking water out of the manguera triggers memories of playing outside on hot summer days, Cantan En Español reminds people of hanging out with their parents/grandparents at a family gathering with Eydie Y Los Panchos playing in the background. It’s the perfect gift to give to your elders that will make them say, “Oh, I haven’t heard this in years!” Still, I can’t help to think the grandparents secretly wished they got Marco Antonio SolisLive In Madrid or Julieta VenegasMTV Unplugged instead. Both performances have been on T.V. so much that I often see moms & pops buying it for themselves. I think the best way to buy music for your parents or grandparents is to find out what they are listening to now rather what they were listening to back in the day. Don’t make gifts a way for you to walk down memory lane. If you want to do that, go run around in the backyard and drink from that water hose!
Our core Latino Gays that shop in the Latin Rock & Pop section begged us to get the import version of Monica Naranjos Tarantula, which was released in Spain during the summer. But at a hefty $39.99 list price and a with domestic release date on the horizon, I didn’t feel it was fair for someone to pay that much for a single CD. It was a hard wait, because the album’s release date was pushed back several times until finally it was released in late November. Now that it is out, it reached the eighth spot on the Christmas chart, which means it was probably worth the wait.

At the tenth spot is Manu Chao’s Clandestino, perhaps the Srgt. Pepper of Latin Rock albums. I listened to it the other day from beginning to end and it still sounds as fresh as it did the day it came out. It is always a great gift for anyone who is adventurous and has never heard of him…or for that special someone who wore out their copy and needs a new one.


Posted by Charles Reece, December 28, 2008 07:35pm | Post a Comment

If You Disagree On These Two, You'd Be Wrong

For Some Realism

For Some Comedy

For Some (More) Fantasy





The Wiz Kid

Posted by phil blankenship, December 28, 2008 01:55pm | Post a Comment

Vidmark Entertainment VM5804

Dangerous Game

Posted by phil blankenship, December 27, 2008 01:36pm | Post a Comment

Academy Entertainment 1250

Songs Are Like Tattoos: Blue by Joni Mitchell

Posted by Miss Ess, December 26, 2008 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Speaking of Wintertime, another album that always calls to me when the skies turn grey and the temperature drops is Joni Mitchell's Blue -- maybe because the song "River" is the best Christmas-themed song ever, maybe because the chill in the air always makes me feel more introspective, maybe because it's one of the best albums through and through...I inevitably put it on the turntable as the holidays approach.

Each song is a confession, a poem, a truth. Although I love the whole record, side two is really where my heart lies, starting with "California" and running through "Last Time I Saw Richard." All in all, the tracks capture the whole heady feeling of falling in love-- the anticipation and longing, the obsessive and insatiable qualities of it all. "River" is a break from that falling, looking back on a relationship failure with loss and regret. After jumping right back into love with "A Case of You," side two then winds down with "Last Time I Saw Richard," a song about the bitterness of one who has found and lost love and understands its mechanics, countered by the unstoppable dreamy hope of a romantic still searching. Even though this album is celebrated by music fans world-wide and has been for decades, I somehow always feel like it was written just for me every time I put it on. That's how the best albums always feel, I think.

Even though the December sky has turned grey, I can still see touches of blue out there.

Here's a few YouTube videos of songs from Blue.


"My Old Man"

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

Posted by Miss Ess, December 26, 2008 05:21pm | Post a Comment
Somehow since I wasn't allowed to watch much TV when I was little, I missed ever seeing what has now become my favorite Christmas-themed special: Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.

I realize it's kinda late, seeing as Christmas was yesterday, but this little movie is so extraordinary and unique, it really could be watched any time, year-round. It was created in 1977 by the much missed Jim Henson, features his imaginative and irresistable puppetry and sets, and was based on a children's book by Russel and Lillian Hoban. The special also features music by the inimitable Paul Williams, including such classics as "When the River Meets the Sea." If you've never seen it before, you can get a great idea of what the production and characters look like by watching this YouTube video which features clips from the special edited together with Emmet and Ma Otter (plus John Denver, who does not appear in any form in Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas but who covered the song with the Muppets on their Christmas album -- A Christmas Together!) singing "When the River Meets the Sea":

The storyline focuses on the simple but happy lives that Emmet Otter and his Ma lead in their small home by the river. They have no money because Pa died a few years back, but they remember the good times and still find meaning and joy in life despite the loss. Each have odd jobs to make ends meet: Emmet does carpentry work and Ma is a laundress. They long for more security and both love music. When they hear about a talent contest in a neighboring town, Ma and Emmet both scramble to compete independently of one another. They each want to win the $50 prize in order to buy one another special Christmas presents. But they each have to sacrifice mainstays of one another's job to have a chance at winning: Emmet needs Ma's washtub to make his washtub bass for his Jug Band and Ma needs to sell Emmet's tools to buy fabric for a new costume. They put everything on the line in order to hopefully bring some Christmas happiness to one another. But what if they both lose?

The story is sweet and well-told, but my favorite parts are all the little details put in just for kids (and adults) to enjoy -- the inexplicably and fabulously expressive faces of each of the puppets; the slide into the river that Ma and Emmet enjoy; the ducks that curiously paddle by as the otters row along the river; Ma and Emmet's fantastic and ultimate talent show competition, The Nightmare band, and their apparent enjoyment of Glam Rock. These charming details are the hallmarks of a Jim Henson production. I see something new and endearing each time I watch this special. It's especially great for kids, I think, with its touching songs, winning message and cool bad guys.

If you enjoyed watching this as a child, you'll be pleased to know (if you didn't already) that there's a special edition DVD of Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas that includes a making-of documentary. It definitely makes Christmas merrier...and post-Christmas to


Posted by phil blankenship, December 26, 2008 01:46pm | Post a Comment

New Yorker Video NYV55892

The Feast of Stephen

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 26, 2008 11:30am | Post a Comment

Happy Holidays. Today's the big day -- that one day we eagerly await as soon as the Halloween decorations are taken down -- the Feast of Stephen or Boxing Day or Wren Day.

St. Stephen lived in the first century and was stoned to death c. 34 AD by a mob led by Paul (when he was still Saul). In Acts it says:

     Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of 
     blasphemy against Moses and against God." So they stirred up the people and the elders and the
     teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. For we have heard
     him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed
     down to us."

Since Stephen was the first martyr, he's referred to as a protomartyr which is a word we only get to use once a year.

"Good King Wenceslas" is the one, certified banger/club carol of St. Stephen's Day. The tune was originally written for the song, "Tempus Adest Floridum" ("It is time for flowering"), a 13th-century spring carol first published in 1582's Swede/Finn co-production, Piae Cantiones.

What do we know about King Wenceslas? Well, he was a good king, for starters, right? *enh!*
Wenceslas I
was a lowly duke -- the duke of Bohemia. His name was Wenceslas, right? He actually went by "Svatý Václav." He ruled from 921-935 AD. His father was a Bohemian and his mother was a member of the Hevelli tribe, another Slavic people that lived in what's now eastern Germany. His brother Boleslaus conspired with a group of noblemen to rub him out and those cads, Tira, Čsta and HněvsaIf, ambushed and murdered him while he was on his way to church.

If you've never really listened to the lyrics to "Good King Wenceslas," they deal with him going out on St. Stephen's Day to give alms to the poor. The duke's page is freezing to death but Wenceslas's footprints provide magical warmth. Another fact about Wenceslas is that an army of knights are hidden inside the mountain, Blaník and they will re-awaken if the Slavs are ever threatened. At that time, an animated statue of the king will lead the army to Charles Bridge. There, the statue will stumble and reveal the  Bruncvík's magical sword which will be used to smite the Slav's enemies. Two things: Why didn't this happen when the Soviets invaded and how come there are no prog or power metal songs about it?

This is from some (hopefully) young girl's video made from footage of the made-for-TV movie, Good King Wenceslas, available only on VHS. It's really touching.

Boxing Day

If you live in the Anglosphere, then you don't need to have Boxing Day explained... unless you're from the USA or Ireland, the only Anglophonic countries to not widely celebrate it. On Boxing Day, you give a gift to your inferiors. It sound very patronizing and classist, very English in other words. "Oh it's nothing. Just a little something I, your better, got for you, one of the lower orders." Even the English must've realized this seemed a bit condescending because now they just use to day to take advantage of after-Christmas sales, to buy stuff for themselves. Most theories about Boxing Day's origins sound incredibly unlikely and have the stink of speculation, but I'll offer my own, nonetheless: Remember the Bohemian Duke going out to give to the poor on St. Stephen's Day with the sun practically shining out of his behind (warming his inferior)? If the parallels of that story to a toff giving a bottle of whiskey to the mailman doesn't seem analogous, then I don't know what does.

  A female servant and a workshy lazybones moments before the terror of St. Stephen's Day violence

In Wales they, of course, have their own peculair brand of St. Stephen's Day tomfoolery. On what they stubbornly insist on calling Gŵyl San Steffan, it is customary to bleed the livestock and slash female servants (and those that slept in) with holly branches. Who can explain the Welsh?

Why no St. Stephen's Day in Ireland or the Isle of Man? Maybe because, like the Welsh, the Irish and Manx like to be different. On Lá an Dreoilín, or Wren Day, they get on some Wicker Man type ish. You think, "Oh, Wren's Day. They must venerate wrens on this day." Actually, traditionally on this day mummers known as Wrenboys or Strawboys got together and hunted down the tiny, defenseless creatures. Then they'd go around with the dead wren's tiny corpse fastened to the end of a pole, singing songs and making merry. See, wrens have a reputation for treachery in Irish culture and legend has it that wrens betrayed Irish forces during a Viking attack and so the Irish on this day kill the wrens out of revenge. By the 1930s, wrens were almost extinct. That'll learn those traitorous wrens!

The Clancy Brothers' "The wran song"

Those Welsh

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Posted by Billyjam, December 26, 2008 10:48am | Post a Comment
gang starr
Further proving that old saying that nothing good lasts forever, the wonderful, long-running KUSF radio weekly hip-hop show Beatsauce will air its last ever broadcast on 90.3FM this weekend.

The show, which hosts/DJs J-Boogie, Raw-B, and DJ Wisdom (formerly known as Winnie B) have been tirelessly producing since 1994 on Sunday evenings from 6PM to 8PM, was a staple for local hip-hop fans to tune in to every weekend to hear all the latest quality hip-hop releases, great DJ mixes, and interviews with a long list of hip-hop acts both local and national. Recently a fourth DJ/host, DJ Diversify, joined the Beatsauce fold. The good news is that while Beatsauce will no longer be broadcast live weekly on KUSF, it will continue in another format, as a bi-monthly podcast hosted by Brooklynradio.

During its fourteen year tenure on KUSF 90.3FM, Beatsauce gained a devoted following, threw parties and events, and won both a SF Bay Guardian’s “Goldie Award” and a SF Weekly “Best Hip-Hop Radio Show” award. During that same time its countless hip-hop guests (many busting out freestyles or doing DJ sets) included the likes of Peanut Butter Wolf, Rob Swift, KRS-One, Jay-Z, DJ Quest, Common, Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, Gang Starr, EPMD, Outkast, Jurassic 5, Jungle Brothers, Zion I, Mobb Deep, Lyrics Born, Blackalicious, Company Flow, Slick Rick, Conceit, J-Live, Jeru the Damaja, Prince Paul, Hieroglyphics, Bas-1, Bored Stiff, Crown City Rockers, Breakestra, Brown Fellinis, and Dre Dog (before he became Andre Nickatina), to name but a handful.

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And they're off...Santa Anita opens today

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 26, 2008 08:32am | Post a Comment

We're heading to Vegas today, but if we were staying home we could just hop over to Arcadia and bet on the horses...I bet ya a wooden nickel that you don't know the most valuable record in this gallery...

Eartha Kitt 1927 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 26, 2008 07:47am | Post a Comment

Orson Welles
once called her "most exciting woman in the world;" Eartha Kitt, the singer, actress, sex kitten and cultural icon has died in Connecticut on Christmas Day of colon cancer. She was 81. Her flirty, sexy rendition of “Santa Baby” from 1953 has become a holiday standard, but that was just one part of a career that spanned more than six decades.

Her success extended far beyond the music world into stage, television and film. Just last year Kitt won two Emmys for her role in The Emperor's New School; previously she had been nominated for several Tony and Grammy Awards. In 1966, she made a guest appearance on an episode of I Spy which brought Kitt her first Emmy nomination. But her most famous role is probably that of the sexy villain the Catwoman in the 1960’s hit television series Batman. Kitt had replaced Julie Newmar who originated the role.

She is probably equally as famous for her anti-war comments on the Viet Nam conflict, especially since the most notorious words were spoken at the White House as she attended a luncheon held by Lady Bird Johnson. She adamantly stated, "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed, they rebel in the street, they don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."

Needless to say, she spent several years being investigated by the FBI and CIA, and for most of a decade she seldom performed in the U.S. That is, until 1978 when Kitt was invited back to the White House by President Jimmy Carter.

Born Jan. 17, 1927 in the small town of North, South Carolina, as Eartha Mae Keith on a cotton plantation, her mother was said to be Cherokee and African-American and her father of German and Dutch descent. After the death of her mother she was sent to New York City to live. She entered show-biz on a whim when in 1946 she dropped by for an audition as a dancer for Broadway production of Bal Negre. Kitt eventually landed a gig in a Paris nightclub in the early 1950s where she met Orson Welles, who cast her in the role of Helen of Troy in his Paris stage production of Faust. It was in 1954 that she released her first album RCA Victor presents Eartha Kitt, featuring such songs as "I Want to Be Evil," and the classic "Santa Baby."

After well-publicized romances with the founder of Revlon cosmetics Charles Revson and banking heir John Barry Ryan III, she married John McDonald in 1960. They divorced in 1965 after the birth of her only daughter. Eartha Kitt is survived by her daughter, Kitt Shapiro, and two grand children.

December 25, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, December 25, 2008 05:37pm | Post a Comment

Merry Christmas!!!

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 25, 2008 01:50pm | Post a Comment

Joyeux Noël!

Posted by Whitmore, December 25, 2008 08:06am | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, December 25, 2008 03:31am | Post a Comment

Above is your very own holiday yule log fireplace -- one of many posted on YouTube for those without a fireplace or a TV to watch it on a local channel. This one, which comes with its own soundtrack which you can replace with your own music, runs for about six and a half minutes, but you can loop it to keep it going. And if you cannot enlarge it to fit your whole computer screen from above, then just click directly on the YouTube site stream of it and enlarge by clicking in the lower right corner. Peace for the holidays!

New Year's Evil Saturday Midnight At The New Beverly

Posted by phil blankenship, December 24, 2008 10:27am | 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 December 27

New Year's Evil (1980)

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

January 3 Future-Kill
(In the future, the Mutants rule!)
January 10 Footloose
(All He Wanted To Do Was Dance! 25th Anniversary! New Print!)

January 17 80s Sword & Sorcery Festival
AN EPIC EVENT FOR THE AGES featuring Conan The Barbarian, Deathstalker II (Theatrical Premiere of the 1987 Jim Wynorski Classic!), Yor The Hunter From The Future (Sony Archive Print!) & MORE

January 24 Targets
(Written & Directed by Peter Bogdanovich! Paramount Archive Print!)

January 31 Basic Instinct
(Beyond Desire... Is Something Beyond Control.)

February 7 10 Things I Hate About You
(10 Year Anniversary & Heath Ledger Tribute!)

February 14 She's Out Of Control
(20th Anniversary! Girls go wild, boys go crazy, and dads go nuts!)

February 21 Foxes
(Jodie Foster, Cherie Currie, Marilyn Kagan, & Kandice Stroh are FOXES!)

February 28 Road House
(Dalton lives like a loner, fights like a professional. And loves like there's no tomorrow. The dancing's over. Now it gets dirty.)

March 7 Aliens
First Screening Of A BRAND NEW 35mm Print!

Continue reading...

Glam & Glitter Christmas

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 24, 2008 10:15am | Post a Comment


I'm not
sure what it is about Glam Rock and Christmas but I've always appreciated how many contributions to the Christmas song canon have big drums, fuzzy sax and '50s via the '70s Yuletide vibes.

My vote for the best Glam Rock Christmas song goes, hands down, to Slade with their never-tiresome-no-matter-how-many-times-you-hear-it classic, the misspelling free "Merry Xmas everybody."


Sadly, there's no proper footage of T. Rex's "Christmas bop" but you can just imagine Marc and Gloria Jones frolicking in the... snow.


No doubt eager to cash in on the success of Wizzard and Slade's Christmas successes, the less-inspired but still enjoyable Mud give us this Showaddywaddy-esque version of "Lonely this Christmas."

Even before Gary Glitter got himself in all sorts of inexcusable scandals, he was always extremely creepy with his blink-punctuated stare and heaving and hoing hairy barrel chest. But what's been forgotten by many is that the Glitter Band were an ace band. Check out "Another Rock 'n' Roll Christmas" for further proof.

Here's Marc Bolan, again with the Christmas music, this time in Elvis (or Mud) fashion.

Who's that at the door? Oh, it's that leper messiah, Ziggy Stardust! Come in and, I don't know, let's sing 'Little Drummer Boy,' yeah?"

T. Rex again. This time with a fried sounding Christmas number sort of in the Space Rock vein.

Wizzard with "I wish it could be Christmas everyday." I like that Roy Wood opted for a Father Frost look, and not Santa... but making that kid kiss him on the cheek probably scarred 'em deep.

Yeah, so Marc Bolan was Jewish. But here he is again, the biggest champion of T. Rexmas.

And then there's this! Embedding was disabled by request, although I doubt many people want to put this absolute monstrosity on their blogs. I got all Nicholas Cage in 8mm as a bunch of artists (is this ever a good idea) got together to turn one of Lou Reed's best songs into a bloated, horrific black hole where no real emotions can escape. And there are several Glam rockers on board. Watch at your own risk!!!

Christmas Eve

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 24, 2008 09:26am | Post a Comment

still more christmas records

Posted by Whitmore, December 24, 2008 06:59am | Post a Comment

more christmas records you may have missed

Posted by Whitmore, December 24, 2008 06:22am | Post a Comment

Hot T-Shirts

Posted by phil blankenship, December 23, 2008 02:38pm | Post a Comment

MCA Videocassette Inc 55025


Posted by Billyjam, December 23, 2008 06:30am | Post a Comment

Over the last few decades there have been many fine books publsihed that present album cover art but, good as they are, they have all typically been presented in a one dimensional fashion, showing the front sleeveface: be the vinyl(sometimes the back too) of the record album cover art with maybe some data on the cover artist and the recording artist within the cover. But the recently published hella fun book of album art Sleeveface: Be The Vinyl by Carl Morris & John Rostron (Artisan) breaks the mold by presenting album covers in sight gags in which music fans pose with their fave album covers (like the ones below), with the covers covering their faces (hence: "be the vinyl" subtitle).

The art contained in Sleeveface: Be The Vinyl, which just about any music collector will find irresistable, is one of those things that many of us have done at some time with one or more album covers, but no one (until now) had thought of presenting in a nicely packaged book form. In fact, since the book was published last month it has inspired countless individuals to do their own "Sleeveface" and forward them to the official Sleeveface website to be posted, including the Christmas themed one above and the ones below. Also on the site is the how-to-sleeveface guide (see video immediately below) which informs curious readers about how to blur the line between album sleeve and reality. The 192 page book, which contains over 200 sleeveface images of mostly album covers you are already familiar with, sells for approx $13.00.

Continue reading...

Happy Hanukkah

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 23, 2008 12:01am | Post a Comment

(In which Job noshes nog.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 22, 2008 09:04pm | Post a Comment
Okay – I just took my first sip of egg nog. Laced, as it is, with a healthy dose of Maker’s Mark, we shall see what, if any, impact it has on my blog writing.

Today has been devoted to wrapping gifts and last-minute shopping. Guess where I went for the shopping.

If you guessed Amoeba Music, you guessed correctly. Point for your team. If you guessed the Lost City of Atlantis, you’re not only wrong, but your grasp on reality is tentative, to say nothing of your lack of knowledge of where to find bargains. No one ever saved money exploring the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. You can quote me on that.

*second sip of egg nog*

Anyone knows that Lemuria is where the good sales are.

*third sip of egg nog*

I’ve worked at Amoeba Music Hollywood for over four years now, but when I shop there, it still feels new and thrilling and yes, sometimes overwhelming, though in the same way that Disneyland is overwhelming. You know – so much fun to be had + if only I could use a bulldozer to get through these swarms of people!

I can’t tell you what I found because I was shopping for my boyfriend Corey who, for some ridiculous reason, actually reads my blog. Probably to make sure I don’t tell you about his embarrassing habit of biting fingernails. Not just his own fingernails. Anyone’s. He’ll gnaw your digits as soon as look at you. It’s a problem, and has gotten us kicked out of more than one function.

One night, while attending a performance of Puccini's "La Bohème" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, we were escorted out right in the middle of one of my favorite arias, "Sì, mi chiamano Mimì" (which, loosely translated means "Yes, my fingers taste like chocolate bunnies") because Corey was so swept away by the music and the sentiment that he unconsciously began nibbling on the pinky of the elderly woman next to him. As we were exiting, I was so humiliated that I walked ten paces behind Corey, trying to remain inconspicuous, which was hard because of what he'd done.

And because I was naked. I had taken off all my clothes. I was just naked. In the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

I found some things for myself at Amoeba, too. To watch, I snagged a used copy of Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a DVD release of the six lectures he gave at Harvard in 1973.

For anyone interested in the fundamentals of music language and theory, this provides a charming course, and Bernstein anticipates those of us who may not themselves compose music or play an instrument, so no one gets left behind.

I just now noticed there’s only a tiny amount of egg nog left in my glass! What the heck? I simply cannot savor a beverage; I’m compelled to drink it fast and gone, and do it without even noticing. You should figure out a way to turn war and famine into a beverage, then you could serve it to me and both would be gone in under ten minutes.

Bernstein’s lecture is a kind of viewing whiplash for me, as preceding it was my introduction to the TV show 24 starring the deliciously first-named Kiefer Sutherland, which I am astonished to find I enjoy. I watched the entire 1st season in one week. So, to all of you who accuse me of only enjoying watching things with depressed Swedes or nuns dancing with demons as a French girl stares at a sofa for two hours, take that!

I mention these things that I watch and/or listen to with the assumption that, if you read my blog regularly, you have a sense for what I like, allowing you to give things I mention a try, or, if you know by now you don’t agree with my taste, you can then avoid whatever’s tickling my fancy.

Ugh… fancy. That word has been ruined for me ever since I learned that my friend Ryan’s family referred to the female genitalia as a “fancy.” I never bothered to ask what they called a boy’s genitals. Perhaps a “spiffy?”

Well, my egg nog is gone and I’m thirsty again. What’s more, I still have a stocking to stuff, so I’m going to excuse myself now. I’ll leave you with this, though, because I care.

Cinema of Mali

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 22, 2008 08:36pm | Post a Comment
Backrground of Mali


            750 - 1076                                   1230 - 1600                                              1340 - 1591

Historically Mali was part of three Sahelian Kingdoms. The Soninke-dominated Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (which established Timbuktu and Djenne as major cities) and the Songhai Empire. These kingdoms controlled Trans-Saharan trade of gold, salt and other precious comodities. It collapsed following an Imazighen (aka Berber) invasion. When the European nations established sea routes for trade, the Trans-Saharan trade economy collapsed. To make things worse, the region grew increasingly desertified. France invaded the weakened nation and occupied Mali from the early 1800s until independence in 1959. Today, Mali is economically one of the poorest countries in the world.

Malians outside a cinema

Culturally, however, it's quite rich. Like its West African neighbors, it's also highly diverse. Most of its people are Bamana. There are also large populations of Soninke, Khassonke and Malink are all Mandé. There are smaller numbers of Peul, Voltaic, Songhai, Taureg, Bozo, Dogon, and Moor.  Altogether, more than 40 languages are spoken. 

                                Tellem (Mali)                                                                 Hohokam (Arizona)

The famed Dogon people based their calendar on Sirius B, a star not visible to the human eye. Their awareness of Jupiter and Saturn's rings preceded the invention of the telescope. They also lived in cliff dwellings, not unlike the aboriginals of America's southwest. What would Erich Anton Paul von Däniken  say?

Cinema of Mali

Mali's cinema is comparitively less known than the world famous movies of its neighbors, Senegal and Burkina Faso. But it's not for want of excellent films. Almost all of its key filmmakers were born in Bamako, the capital and largest city. After over a century of exploitation at the hands of the French, Mali initially cozied up to the USSR. Many of Mali's directors honed their craft at the world's oldest film school, the Всесоюзный государственный институт кинематографии (also known as VGIK, the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography) in Moscow. The school is the alma mater of Tarkovsky, Iosseliani, Eisenstein, Parajanov, Bondarchuk and Sokurov. The faculty included Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Dovzchenko and other noteworthy figures. Many Malian films incorporate Soviet-developed visual techniques to make films that are sometimes nearly wordless pieces of visual poetry which can overcome illiteracy and Mali's over 40 spoken languages.

Malian Directors

Souleymane Cissé with Fatih Akin and Marty Scorsese


Posted by Billyjam, December 22, 2008 06:40am | Post a Comment
Last Monday (Dec 15) was an important day for both Jesse "Luscious" Townley and the City of Berkeley. It was the date when, immediately before the first Rent Board meeting since the November 4th election in which Townley got elected to office, that the punk rocker-turned-politician got sworn in to his new position as City of Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner. One of five elected to this position, Townley stands out because of his rich and colorful background and unprecedented deep rooted commitment to Berkeley and its citizens.

Townley, who migrated to Berkeley from Philadelphia back in 1989, initially came out West to attend the San Francisco Anarchist Gatheriing -- but he liked it so much in Berkeley that he never left. From 1989 to 1990 he published the punk zine Berkeley Sucks. Over the years he has volunteered countless hours at 924 Gilman Street. He has also played on the stage at Gilman as a member of such East Bay punk bands as Blatz, The Gr'ups, The Criminals, and most recently The Frisk (who appeared on the Amoeba Music Compilation series). Over the years Jesse has also gained invaluable experience putting in time at local punk labels. He has worked at both Lookout Records and Alternative Tentacles (where he still works) and for a time, along with his partner Kamala, ran his own label Zafio Records.

Continue reading...

Christmas Records You Might have Missed

Posted by Whitmore, December 21, 2008 08:18pm | Post a Comment

Serpent's Lair

Posted by phil blankenship, December 21, 2008 11:55am | Post a Comment

Republic Pictures 6246


Posted by phil blankenship, December 20, 2008 11:44am | Post a Comment

Monarch Home Video 7438


Posted by Billyjam, December 20, 2008 08:31am | Post a Comment

Reading the recent Amoeblogs about new words being incorporated over the past year into the everyday English/American vocabulary got me thinking about a word or expression that got dropped in all but one context, hence losing its original meaning -- those two words together that make up the expression "ground zero," which up until September 11th 2001, simply referred to the scene of a nuclear explosion or a place where some disaster of some kind took place. But after 9/11/01 everything changed.

Back in 1986 when Weird Al Yankovic recorded the above song "Christmas At Ground Zero" it did not have the same connotation it has post 9/11. In fact, so powerful a punch does the term "ground zero" pack (summoning images in most media-fed minds of the smoldering World Trade Center) that the song above -- once a staple at radio stations during Christmas time -- got abruptly dropped from playlists forever. Likewise, the song that Weird Al loosely based this song on, Fishbone's "Party At Ground Zero," also got dropped like a hot potato.

Hear Bonnie Prince Billy and Bros Cover Trad Folk Songs

Posted by Miss Ess, December 19, 2008 03:43pm | Post a Comment
The most exciting thing that's happened to me today so far is the discovery of Bonnie Prince Billy and Captain Anomoanan's 2006 NYC Joe's Pub shows in MP3 form on the Aquarium Drunkard site.

Photo by Natasha Tylea

The shows consist of three Oldham brothers: Will (Bonnie Prince Billy) along with Ned and Paul. Ned and Paul were in Palace and Palace Brothers with Will and one or more of them often accompany Will on tour, playing in his band. These two nights at Joe's Pub are fabled in part because they are simply the three brothers together, singing onstage by themselves with acoustic guitars, and also because their sets consist almost completely of traditional folk songs, songs that cannot be heard as done by the Oldhams anywhere else to my knowledge. The backstory here is that the Oldhams' father had very recently died and they dedicated the shows to him and his memory. I'd imagine the set consists of songs they heard at home in their youth. Listening carefully, the songs themselves are touching and well-chosen, and knowing that the Kentucky-born Oldhams are singing to their father makes them all the more so.

The song selections reflect both death and rebirth, sadness and hope, from "We Will Understand It Better By and By" to "Next Time the Sun Comes Around" and "We Shall All Be Reunited" to "Goodbye Dear Old Stepstone." The singing is all ramshackle harmonies, very Oldham-esque and yet traditional. I really recommend checking these songs out. You can hear them here. Note that one set from the four shows over two days is missing.

In other Will Oldham news, he will soon be seen yet again on the big screen in Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy, also starring Michelle WIlliams. He also has a new album, Beware, coming out on March 16. If you want to hear more live music from Bonnie Prince Billy, he recently released Is It the Sea?, a recording of tracks from shows that took place on BPB's tour of Scotland and Ireland, also from 2006. The vinyl has two hidden tra

Li'l Bit #7

Posted by Job O Brother, December 19, 2008 02:54pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, December 19, 2008 12:14pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five: 12:19:08

scarface emeritus
1) Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella Records)

2) Evidence The Layover EP (Decon)

3) Q-Tip The Renaissance (Motown/Universal)

4) Ludacris Theater of the Mind (Disturbing tha Peace/Def Jam)

5) Scarface Emeritus (Rap-A-Lot/Asylum)

Special thanks to Ray for the top five selling hip-hop albums chart in the Hollywood Amoeba Music store this week, with new albums from the ever popular artists Kanye West, Ludacris, and Q-Tip all holding strong after been out for a number of weeks. New entries to the chart include the recent recommended CD The Leftover EP from rapper/producer Evidence (aka EV) of solo and Dilated Peoples fame, which may only have ten tracks but all are excellent. The other new release on this chart is Emeritus from Houston rap legend Scarface who first came to fame twenty years ago as part of the Geto Boys. This new album is Scarface's ninth (and supposedly last) solo album. He says he is going to retire from the rap game. But who knows? A lot of rappers have trouble quitting when they are still popular and Scarface has a dedicated fan base who appreciate his raw delivery, and tell-it-like-it style. He don't pull no punches when it comes to talking about the cops or his rivals. The video below of the new album song "High Powered" is directed at his rival Lil Troy who he implies is a snitch. In the interest of fairness, in interviews, Lil Troy claims that Scarface is a snitch. Of course in rap all of this heated rivalry and controversy only makes for good music.

Continue reading...


Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2008 10:10am | Post a Comment

For this final Dance of the Day is the excerpt from the 1979 UK Disco Dance Finals, which is pretty impressive for several reasons. For starters all the dancing is really good. And even though it was a "disco" contest note all of the breakin' (also known as break dancing) moves used, especially by the first contestant. What is noteworthy about this is that hip-hop dance and music still came under the broad disco umbrella back in '79. At that time in the late seventies although hip-hop was most definitely in existence the truth is that no one used the term "hip-hop" to describe it.

Another interesting historical point about this clip is that at this same time over in the states disco was already suffereing the thinly veiled macho, racist, homophopic backlash of the disco-sucks movement, something that would soon follow suit in the UK. And finally of note about this clip is that the second contestent in it is a young 20 year old (Downtown) Julie Brown from Wales who would later migrate to the US to get hired as a VJ by the fledgling MTV.

Li'l Bit #6

Posted by Job O Brother, December 18, 2008 09:25am | Post a Comment
I'm a well-adjusted, happy guy, with a deep spirtuality that allows me to put the joys and sorrows of humanity into a context which promotes my own growth and sense of peace.

That being said, when I watched these videos this morning, a small part of me did suddenly contemplate suicide. I won't, because I have to be at Amoeba Music Hollywood in less than an hour, but it won't be without a scar on my brain.

Saturday Midnight: Jingle All The Way

Posted by phil blankenship, December 17, 2008 09:49pm | 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 December 20

Jingle All The Way(1996)

starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman & Jake Lloyd

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

Jem of Local Bay Area Band Jean Marie Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, December 17, 2008 07:17pm | Post a Comment
Jean Marie's songs are warm and cozy; they kinda feel like curling up fireside and dreamily gazing out a glowing window. Thus, their music is perfect for the winter chill we are currently experiencing! What better time than now, when we are besieged by hail and frigid winds, to tap into lead Jean Marie-er Jem's brain to bring on the warmth and find out what and who inspires her? Read on to find out about her love of Riotgrrl, the East Bay, and...Mariah Carey!?

Miss Ess: What made you want to play music? How did you get started?

Jem: My mother has a love affair with music and is an amateur singer, so she sacrificed and saved to give my brother and I piano lessons, music lessons, etc, so there would be music in the house. She did this with the intent that we would simply appreciate it as a pastime, but as adults, we both chose to follow music as our path...which means, rich happy hearts, but sad empty pockets.

I started writing my own songs in high school. I was really inspired by the Riot Grrl movement and especially Courtney Love. I was just starting to play guitar when I saw Hole perform at a radio-sponsored Christmas show in 1994. Courtney was beautiful, dramatic, and absolutely enthralling. Her guitar playing and her singing was basic and sloppy, but because of that, revolutionary. It didn't matter what the chords were or where you placed your fingers or whether you sung in tune or not -- what mattered was that your voice and story was being told.

ME: Wow, I love to hear about mothers who were really into music and imparted it to their kids. That's more how it went in my family as well. My dad doesn't know anything about music! How did Jean Marie come together and what is the concept behind its sound?

Jem: I've always written ditties and little songs in my bedroom where my only audience was my tape recorder or if I was lucky, a bored boyfriend. My friend Jasmyn was looking to hang out and play music, so Jean Marie began there. This was after college, in early 2005. We were playing quiet, folky music, but at the time I was listening to a lot of Electroclash like Tracy & the Plastics and Le Tigre. I would like to disclose that my original suggestion for our band name was "Civic Center."

Since then, people have joined and left and rejoined and the sound has grown, especially with the addition of Alex Uncapher on Wurlitzer piano. Live, I'm really trying to create slow, gauzy soundscapes that blanket those who feel a little bit wistful or sad. Lullabyes, essentially.
ME: You have acheived it because that is exactly what you sound like! What is next for you guys -- any upcoming tour dates for Jean Marie? Or an album?

Jem: Touring has been erratic and really unpredictable. This past year, I've found myself playing shows in LA, Portland, Denver, and Singapore (!). Really random, really warm and welcoming places and people. Who knows what 2009 will bring? I'm crossing my fingers for Japan.

As for recordings, the album's been gestating for 3 years. Every so often, I go up to Penngrove to Angelo Sacerdote's studio and add more parts. I like to approach recording as continual work -- building and building and building until it's an overgrown, surreal masterpiece. It's a mentality that probably also afflicted Sarah Winchester (the architect of the Winchester Mystery House).

What projects are you involved with currently? I know you are in other bands besides Jean Marie.

I sing and write music in another band called Family Trea. Everyone in that band is an astounding musician and I feel lucky to be in the company of such talents. I'm also in an East Bay doo-wop group called Frensual, and then sometimes I play solo as The Sleeping Grass. I'm also working with Aaron Morgan (The Finches, Roots of Orchis) on some experimental recordings.

I can't wait to hear what you've been creating with Aaron! Who are your musical heroes?

There are so many! My ultimate hero is Stevie Wonder. Everything about him is positive and inspiring: his radiant grin, his effervescent joy, his romanticism, his warmth and compassion, his incisive storytelling, his musical complexity and vocal abilities. So many amazing things about him. All the great songs have already been written and sung by Stevie Wonder, so I think that's a great weight off the shoulders of everyone else making music. All we're doing is just extra material in the grand scheme of things.

Some other artists who make my heart pitter-pat: Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Rufus Wainwright, Phoebe Snow, Aretha Franklin, Fiona Apple, Neil Halstead, Judee Sill, The Cairo Gang, Bonnie Raitt, Mariah Carey, Fleet Foxes.

I still haven't heard that dang Fleet Foxes CD -- what kind of Amoeba employee am I?! I will have to grab one tomorrow. What music was playing in your house when you were growing up, before you had a choice?

My mother played a lot of Mozart and classical music. When I was a kid, I would hum "The Blue Danube Waltz" while playing handball. Then there was a lot of Vietnamese pop music that I was subjected to. A lot of romantic, lovelorn balladry about loneliness and lost love wailed over bad sweeping synths.

Do you remember hearing a particular album when you were young that had a great impact on you?

Green Day's Dookie. I learned how to play guitar and how to write songs by listening to that album. I also connected to Green Day because they were from the Bay Area and not that much older than me. That album was a catalyst for a whole new mode of thinking when I was in high school. It led me to Gilman St & the East Bay punk scene, the DIY ethos, the Epicenter in SF, zines, comix, and meeting all these other kids who just wanted to make a difference.

It bugs me when people deride Green Day for just that reason -- they introduced so many kids to a creative and underground world they might not have found on their own. If you could play on a bill with any band, regardless of time/place, who would it be?

It would be a command performance at The White House for President Obama. Also on the bill: Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Bonnie Prince Billy. This fantasy would be broadcast on PBS so that all my uncles and aunts could tune in and tape it.

What is your favorite local band?

Bart Davenport. There was a period of several years when I was musically dormant and depressed about it so all I would do was go to his shows and watch and quietly listen. Homeboy played out a LOT, so I've probably seen him play over 25 times in my life. At the time, I was just looking to be entertained, but now, I think of it as an accidental apprenticeship.

What are your thoughts on the Bay Area scene these days, especially with all the economic woes of late? How does the East Bay scene compare to the SF?

I moved to Oakland this year, after living my entire life in San Francisco. Rent is a bit cheaper, so the musicians I've befriended on this side of the bay work less, hang out more, and consequently, play more music. There are fewer clubs and establishments to play in the East Bay, so music thrives in living rooms and bedrooms, basements and backyards. The best performances are the impromptu ones in people's homes, so that keeps music separated from things like cover charges and "draw" and any sort of pressure to make money.

My SF musical experience was relegated to pockets, separated by intervals of waiting. Everyone works so hard to pay rent on their apartments and rehearsal spaces that there's a lot less time and everyone is tired, so music was more appointment-based and precious. I've found the East Bay to be a more fluid and fertile place for growth and making all kinds of sounds. There's a great freejazz and experimental scene here that's encouraging. I'm acquainted with some great people on this side, who eat, drink and shit music, so I feel very lucky. For instance, one late night I was playing with some friends and I made my hands into bear paws and just banged up and down a keyboard and yowled and the guys I was playing with were like, "Let's record this!"

What music do you enjoy falling asleep to?

When I'm home, I'm ceremonial about preparing for sleep: the music sets the mood for the shift from activity to passivity, and transport into the dream realm. When you're lying in bed, you're unoccupied, relaxed, and because your eyes are closed, hearing becomes your primary sense. This is the ultimate time for a serene, blissed-out kind of listening. Some standbys of mine are D'angelo's Voodoo, Nick Drake's Pink Moon, Hem's Rabbit Songs and anything by The Innocence Mission or Brightblack. Lately, I've found soporific splendor in Susanna & the Magical Orchestra.

I love the word soporific! What music do you like to wake up to?

I don't listen to music much in the morning because I like to listen to birds chirping or other mornings sounds like cars starting, or my housemates making coffee. On lazy Sunday mornings, though, when I'm tidying up around my room I like to listen to gospel and early 70s R&B. I especially love Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace. This double LP was recorded live in 1972, at church. It's so powerful. You can hear the energy, the urgency, and the possession and release of unified joy. Usually by the time the album ends, I'll have realized that, again, another ordinary Sunday has somehow turned into The Best Sunday Ever.

What are your musical guilty pleasures?

I have an unabashed pop heart, so I'm a sucker for a good hook. I'm not embarrassed about what I like, but people look at me like I flunked a grade when they find out that I'm a huge Mariah Carey fan. I also own two well-worn Britney Spears and Nsync albums. Each.

Whew! That all is some admission! Awesome. Is there an album that you love that you think more people should know about?

My favorite album of all time is Birds of America's Current Carry. This is a simple, gentle listen: good for when you're feeling blue, good for when you're feeling cheery, good for when you feel helpless, good for playing when you go to the ocean by yourself and you just want to stare and stare.
What has been your best find at Amoeba?

Amoeba has so many treasures! Any $1 record will make me feel like I hit the motherlode. These artists spend years and years making these incredible albums, and now a couple decades later, all this hard work and effort can be had for $1. Phoebe Snow's self-titled record from 1974 is always in the clearance bins, but that record is invaluable to me. Her vocal technique is effortless and she has this sweet vibrato that I really envy. I also scored all of Bonnie Raitt's records from the early 70s for $1 each and I came home feeling richer than Rockefeller.   

Great choices! Thank you so much for your time!

Christmas in Japan

Posted by Kells, December 17, 2008 04:23pm | Post a Comment

A few nights ago while watching an old VHS copy of Santa Claus is Coming to Town I began to wonder about this whole Christmas thing. The legend of Santa Claus, according to this stop-action, puppet laden, mind-bending slice of classic holiday TV programming, is a bit dodgy in parts and down-right unsettling as a whole (and hilarious when paired with the right kind of holiday spirits). How on earth did a story like this, the story of Santa Claus, ever so increase in popularity as to reach the mutated, lofty, legendary status it entertains today? It boggles the mind! But then Christmas is just plain weird and, ultimately, up for interpretation and reinterpretation given the varied spiritual, social, economic, geographic and educational contexts that embrace it. That said, I'd like to explore Christmas the way the Japanese do it, as I believe it is a phenomenon that most Americans know little of unless you've had the pleasure of spending Christmas (or the New Year's festivities for the matter) in the biggest little archipelago on the Pacific Rim. 

Recently I asked one of my good buddies, an ex-pat who lives and works in Japan, if he'd be coming back to the good ol' U. S. of A. come Christmas. Sadly he won't be, but he assured me that his absence wouldn't hinder his warm wishes and memories of spending the holidays stateside with friends (and family too I suppose). One thing that he disclosed that has been sticking in my head is, "I have to fend off the almost daily, 'What's Christmas really like in the States?' question." What I'd give to know how he chooses to answer this question; "Oh it's like a weeks-long shopping fiasco that claims the sanity and lives of the over-worked and underpaid temporary workers of my country," I imagine him explaining to a wide eyed and wistful looking クリスマス enthusiast before losing their interest by then expounding upon the glory of salt-cured ham, home-made egg nog and football. I know my friends in Japan are missing out on some of the traditions and seasonal cheer they enjoyed growing up with, but if you ask me, they've got plenty to be merry about being so far away for the holidays. 

I wonder what the Japanese would really think about our way of doing things, however which way we do them, considering what seems to be typical Christmas doings and goings-on in their neck of the woods: mainly dinner at KFC (most families order their Christmas Party Barrels way ahead of time), followed by some delicious Christmas cake usually made of vanilla sponge cake, fresh cream, strawberries and a bit of chocolate. Maybe then you'd get out to take in a glittering electric display of Christmas lights somewhere local while J pop Christmas jams, old and new, fill the airwaves. Now, I'm not altogether sure why Colonel Sanders and Co. have flopped into the Christmas fold Far East-wise, but many seem to think it has to do with his being an old fart sporting a white, though tiny, beard. You gotta admit he looks rather dashing in a Santa suit. About the Christmas cake all I can think of to say is, "yes please." I'd like to think that Japanese Christmas cake is a spin on those yule log cakes we see here in specialty bakeries being that they're both aesthetically and tastefully holiday specific. And so very yummy without being too sweet (Icing in Japan is never of the butter creme variety, which cuts down on the holiday sugar overload). Plus, here is a not-so-fun fact about Christmas cake: it is also used a slang term for unmarried women over the age of twenty-five as Christmas cakes are always thrown out after December 25th as they are, ahem, past their prime. Christmas light displays in Japan are as over the top and Griswold family lampoon-ish as they can be here in the states, with most cities and regions having at least one really decked out landmark. I've heard that houses there aren't as illuminated as they are stateside, which is surprising to me because the Japanese seem to have adopted almost everything about celebrating Christmas minus the religious aspects, much to the relief of bakeries, KFC, department stores, and apparently Christmas tree dealers. Lastly, when it comes to Christmas music in Japan it is important to consider the flip-side of the Christmas coin, after all, there are two ways to translate the phrase "spending time with loved ones."

In Japan Christmas can actually be described as "sexy," as most of those Christmas pop songs are about meeting up with, spending time with, hurrying to get with, wondering if you'll be with, waiting for, thinking about and finally getting it on with or being forgotten or heart-broken by your very special loved one, your lover. For the Japanese Christmas eve and Christmas day are serious baby making times with October birthdays in abundance and the concurrent hearts and love notion decorations that mingle freely around and within the Christmas holiday decorations. I have seen these things with my own two eyes and still I find it a little bit freaky and more than a little bit fun. Freaky because I am of a culture that equates Christmas fun times with the power of children and their ability to believe in Christmas TV specials like Santa Claus is Coming to Town and all that it represents; here, it's a kid thing. For a nation famed both for its sense of shame as well as for its openness to (what seems like) every manner of sexual enterprise, it's funny to me that of all the nights in the year Christmas eve is singled out as the night when romantic love reigns supreme and sex is definitely a given. It's like prom night with all its expectations, dinner reservations, far-in-advance booked overnight accommodations and all. There is even a Christmas "Love Hotel" called Santa's Chapel (pictured right) located somewhere in Osaka. You might be asking yourself, "why would anyone over ten years of age want to check out (or check in to, for that matter) a place that looks like a huge, technicolor toy land of a building called Santa's Chapel?" Well, imagine having a romantic night at home with your very special lady or fella along in close proximity to the whole family. Love Hotels are certainly practical in Japan and no one thinks much of them other than they should be clean, neat, nice and, in some cases, themed places to escape to for love and privacy by the hour or by the night. Don't get me wrong, I think Santa's Chapel is bizarre, but it serves its purpose (all the year round apparently). I also think Love Hotels are still a thing to be gawked at, especially the ones with the head-turning decor and the names, names, oh so ridiculous names. But I digress...

Oh yes, music. Japanese pop super (read: cute boy) ensemble Exile has a new Christmas single out this year. Well, actually it's just a Japanized version of (another cute boy ensemble) Wham's "Last Christmas." Here it is in both forms (for the purpose of twisting your mind), Wham's classic holiday video with Exile's Japanese vocal version played over it:

I have a few personal favorite J pop holiday tunes though they're a bit dated. Actually all my favorite Christmas songs are dated, but I suppose that's the nature of Christmas tunes whether they transport you back to a simpler time or, unfortunately for the Scrooge McBurgermeisters out there, annoy the shit out of you. In the spirit of spreading more Christmas cheer here is a really great holiday song by Tatsurou Yamashita titled "Christmas Eve" (the English version -- the original Japanese version is great too) played over the world's most uncool (and possibly Russian) Christmas-y looking dance video:

What about a real J pop Christmas video? Well, check out this cute-as-shiz Christmas single and video clip from the dressed-as-twin-dancing-Christmas-trees J pop duo Halcali singing "Strawberry Chips" (I think Double DIPtheoreya might be ripping this off for next year's Christmas is the Best show!):

How about a truly dated live performance of a truly crazy sounding Christmas J pop jam -- "Pink Christmas" by the all dancing and sometime singing girl trio Mi-Ke? You got it! In all its over staged, vocally strained, pink stained glory:

Now, how about something scary like a giant girl group of J pop super stardom doing a medley of Supremes covers for a nationally televised Japanese Christmas special brought to you by Ed Sullivan and a guy named Sanma who is as famous for his teeth as he is for his laugh. I give you the very tip top of excess in Japanese Idol Pop contrivance: Morning Musume -- Christmas 2003. I dare you to watch it all:

If that didn't put you off your sugar cookies then I'm sure you can stomach the hard-rockin' nightmare of an over-the-top Japanese Christmas presented in this next video by lady-boy comedian Yakkun Sakurazuka titled, "ChristMaster" -- this is for her:

Lastly, here is a typical Japanese KFC Christmas commercial followed by my favorite J pop band (Unicorn) doing my favorite J pop holiday song, "雪が降る町:"

Merry Christmas ya'll, wherever you are!


Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2008 06:00am | Post a Comment

And the best current Black Flag tribute band award goes to Mimosa Beach, CA based Black Fag who are currently in the midst of their state-wide I Caught Henry Kissing Santa Claus tour with dates this week including at The Exit in Fresno on Thursday, Thee Parkside in San Francisco on Friday, 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley on Saturday, and Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo on Sunday.

At these shows Black Fag, who are comprised of Liberace Morris (vocals), Greg Streisand (guitar), Cher Dykeowski (bass), and Robo Simmons (drums), will be doing enthusiastic covers of such Black Flag classics as "TV Party," "Six Pack," and "Wasted." And perhaps they will be joined at some of these shows by their backup dancers: Raymond Pettiboner, Joe CarGucci, and Bugger.

According to Black Fag's pink backdrop MySpace, their story began back in the small town of New Hope, PA. "Singer Liberace Morris was raised in neighboring Doylestown, but found a home among New Hope's thriving gay community. He worked at a vintage clothing/toy store while pursuing musical theatre at the Bucks County Playhouse at night. One night after Pippin rehearsal, Liberace came home to find his boyfriend in bed with another man. While drowning his sorrows at the local watering hole, The Raven, Liberace started singing and playing Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" on the piano. The rest of the bar simply ate it up until the end of the song, when Liberace stood up and started hblack faghaphazardly hurling martini glasses around the place. He was permanently ejected from The Raven and convinced that his life was officially over." 

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Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2008 01:40am | Post a Comment
Today's Dance of the Day is a unintentionally funny how-to disco dance instruction from a Finnish pro who understands just how important movement of the hips is to being a proper disco dancer.

Ezra Feinberg of Citay Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, December 16, 2008 06:57pm | Post a Comment
Citay is one band of many sounds. It is also the brain child of one Ezra Feinberg. Here, Ezra shares the inspirations behind the fusion of sounds that make up Citay, how one U2 cover utterly changed his life and why the NYC scene is easier to appreciate for him now that he's a San Francisco resident. To hear songs by Citay, check out their Myspace page here. Citay's album Little Kingdom happens to be both fantastic and available at Amoeba Music.

Miss Ess: How did you develop the sound of Citay? It sounds like many elements coming together seamlessly -- did you consciously bring together different sounds and influences, or is Citay more of an amalgamation of sounds you hear in your head, or something else entirely?

Ezra: Well I started by layering acoustic guitar chords in open tunings with harmonized electric guitar leads. I wanted it to have elements of spacier acoustic music with elements of heavier rock in the way that a lot of acid rock and early heavy metal bands did in the early 70s. But I'm really into vocal harmonies and pop songs, so I added those and it gave it an airier feel. I just started putting these elements together and the songs took on structure as I worked them through. I started working on Citay in the summer of 2004 and it's the same writing process now. I definitely think Citay is an amalgamation of sounds I hear in my head. It's basically my favorite aspects of my favorite music rolled into a new song.

Miss Ess: Each song seems to take the listener on a little trip. beyond any lyrical content that may be involved, when you are creating these songs are you imagining something specific -- an image, a place --  that goes along with each one?

Ezra: No, but for some reason I wrote [them] in a very linear way. I like for one part to build and then give way to another part, and I like the feeling of having a song begin at one point and end at an entirely other point. I definitely want each song to be some kind of trip or journey. It should be something that drops you off far from where you were picked up.

ME: How did working wit
h Tim Green [of the Fucking Champs] help shape your album Little Kingdom?

Ezra: Tim is a huge part of Citay. Although I came up with the recipes for each dish, Tim added the needed spice, and knew what temperature to set the oven on and how long to leave it in there and when to take it out. When the book is written it will be told: Tim Green is a musical genius.

I concur! So what made you pick up a guitar?

In sixth grade we had a talent show and these three friends of mine and I did a lip-synch to the U2 version of "Helter Skelter." I was the drummer, and my friend was supposed to the the guitarist and he had an electric guitar for the performance. So after we did our lip-synch we sat back down with the other kids and he handed me the guitar. Instead of clapping at the end of everyone else's performance I just strummed on this guitar furiously, and I really liked how it felt. From there I took a few lessons, got a few books, started playing with anyone who I could play with, and that was it. 

I love that! Definitely one of the better stories I've heard as far as someone's initial start into music. The interwoven quality of the parts in your music suggests a closeness between members. What kind of bond do you all share?

We're all good friends, and we all play in other music projects together. And at this point we've all toured together, and we know each other in that way that touring makes you know someone, which is a good thing cuz we're still playing together.

Your tours must be like a traveling family since you have so many members. What are the particular challenges and pleasures of touring with so many musicians?

Well it can be logistically and financially challenging for me, that's for sure. But after doing it for the last few years I'm used to it. We've never had less than six members, and it was up to eight for about a year. It's fun, most of the time, and, most importantly, it's what the music needs.

What part of the creative process do you enjoy most -- writing the songs, being in the studio, or playing out on the road?

I'd have to say all three. They all comprise a balance of what is expected and what is spontaneous. When I sit down to write I have some ideas about what I'm gonna come up with, but the good ideas almost always come spontaneously, after I've tried working through the pre-conceived ideas. It's a maddening process where you basically have to lie to yourself -- "I'm gonna write a song that sounds like this and has this particular vibe and feel" -- to get to the part where you bail on that plan and come up with something better. But you can't come up with something better unless you start out with that plan that you have to be pretty convinced of. It's pretty bananas...Same goes for the studio. As for the road, you never know who will come see you on a given night. You go into the show with certain expectations but something about the show -- maybe the feel of one of the songs feels different, or the crowd has a certain vibe that you weren't expecting -- and you emerge with a wider view of what could happen on a given night.

What is your favorite local band?

The Botticellis have a song that is easily one of my favorite songs of the last year. I've put it on countless mixes for friends, and it never stops being good. It's called "The Reviewer" and it's on their album Old Home Movies. The song is a perfect power pop gem, an ideal blend of The Who with Big Star and early Cheap Trick. It might be a perfect song. 

How do you feel about the SF scene these days? Is it as vibrant as ever despite the monetary worries that are hitting pretty much everyone? How does the SF scene compare to the NY scene you remember when you were living there?

The SF scene is always happening as far as I can tell. Bands from SF may fade in and out of the spotlight, but that doesn't mean all that much. A few years ago it seemed like there were a ton of SF bands being written about and talked about, but they are still, really, and I think there are so many amazing musicians here making so much amazing music. Really -- I don't mean to sound all cheery about it -- but I'm constantly amazed. Musicians here are always communicating with each other, always going to see what's up, and learning from each other in a really positive way. Now I sound like I'm really from SF with that smiley attitude, and I'm from the east coast, but I think SF is the best music city in the US. It's small enough so that everyone feels they could have a voice, and small enough so there is a real sense of community, but big enough so that there is a seriously wide range of music happening all the time. NYC has tons of amazing musicians and bands too, but it's so huge that it's overwhelming and easy to just get lost there. I love playing shows in NYC now more than I did when I lived there because the energy is so strong, but I think it's hard to cultivate a real community there.

If you could play on the bill with any other bands, from any other time, who would you choose and why?

Here are two bills that I think would really work for us: The Roches-Citay-Queen...(The Roches would have Robert Fripp in the band...And Queen would play mostly songs from the first two records)...Second ideal bill: The Hollies-Citay-Iron Maiden (The Hollies would play only early material, and we'd add a third electric guitar so we could keep up with Maiden...). 

Both super hot bills! What music do you like to wake up to?

Lately Todd Rundgren's Healing. It's one of his lost records, form the early 80s, kind of a new-age pop vibe, and really special. The songs on the second side are just "Healing 1," "Healing 2," and "Healing 3" and they run together in a seamless, lightheaded, beautiful way. I haven't stopped listening to this record for weeks now. I highly recommend it.

What's coming up next for you? An album? A tour?

Working on the third Citay album now. Don't look for it until 2010. 

Thanks so much for your time, Ezra!

Davey Graham 1940 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 16, 2008 05:51pm | Post a Comment

The legendary English guitarist and a major influence on practically every fingerstyle acoustic guitarist for the past 50 years, Davey Graham, passed away on Monday of lung cancer which was detected only a few weeks ago. He was 68.

Born November 22nd, 1940 in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, he took up the guitar at the age of 12. By the age of 19 Graham composed what would probably be his most famous piece, “Anji,” released on his debut 1962 EP, 3/4 AD, and later covered by the likes of Pentangle and Simon & Garfunkel.

Here in the United States, Graham perhaps wasn’t as well known as some of his contemporaries but he has been credited with single-handedly inventing the concept of the folk guitar instrumental in the U.K.-- simultaneous honors in the U.S would go to John Fahey, who was making similar innovations. Graham influenced a who’s who of British guitarists from Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Martin Carthy, and Jimmy Page -- Page’s instrumental "White Summer" was heavily based on Graham's "She Moved Thru the Bazaar/Blue Raga."

In 1959 Graham first made headlines with his attention grabbing performance of “Cry Me a River’ in the BBC television documentary Hound Dogs and Bach Addicts: The Guitar Craze, produced by Ken Russell. During the 1960s he played a major role in the British folk revival, releasing a series of eclectic solo albums that touched on a wide range of music, from jazz and blues to Indian and Arabic and gypsy. He introduced to many an aspiring young guitarist the DADGAD guitar tuning, whose chief appeal is the ability to improvise freely, yet maintain a solid underlying rhythm and harmony. But Graham's career was somewhat unpredictable; his concerts were often hit or miss. Much of his reputation was based on a couple of brilliant albums, both released in the same week of 1965, Folk Routes, New Routes in a duet with the folk singer Shirley Collins and Folk, Blues and Beyond, a mostly instrumental album that combined all his world music styles. His live playing was best captured and recorded in 1967 on an incredible album entitled After Hours, which was recorded in a student's dorm room on the campus of Hull University in front of an audience of about eight people. Nonetheless, and in many ways, even as impulsive as he may have been, Davey Graham was the first guitar hero … and certainly one of mine.

There will be a private funeral held for Davey Graham later this week. A public memorial service is being planned for January.

December 16, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, December 16, 2008 02:23pm | Post a Comment

(Wherein winter records receive writings.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 16, 2008 11:32am | Post a Comment

It’s finally chilly in Hollywood. I mean, I still have my French windows open wide, but it’s about as cold as it ever gets, with breezes blowing from my hometown in the north, Nevada City, where loved ones are covered in white blankets of snow. (That’s a metaphor – probably very few of them have bed-sheets constructed of crystalline water ice.)

My friends in Nevada City, Jaime, Alison and Dan made a snowman. I don’t get that pleasure here. I suppose I could make a clumps-of-dying-grass-cigarette-butts-and-dog-feces man, but who has that kind of time? I have a blog to write!

Here's a picture of the snowman my friends made.
The best part will be watching him slowly melt over the next couple weeks.

My choices in music are always influenced by weather. When it’s hot city in the summertime, I’ll gravitate towards artists such as Stephen Malkmus, Thin Lizzy, or Sly & The Family Stone. If it’s a rainy day, you can bet some Siouxsie & The Banshees will be trilling from my stereo. I look out the window and see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trampling the Hills with all the fury of Heaven and Hell as they take the stage for a final battle in which every human soul will come to greet its eternal home in either the awesome glory of the Almighty God or the foul depths of Hell as lorded over by the king of wickedness, Satan, and more often than not I’ll play a little Burt Bacharach. Because it’s always a good time for a little Burt.

Don't make me over.

What do I play when it’s cold outside? Of course holiday music would be appropriate, but I never, never, ever listen to Christmas music when I’m alone. I’ve haven't asked myself why; it’s just something I noticed. There’s something somehow… lonely and… I don’t know. I guess I feel like people who listen to Christmas music alone are the same people who don’t get married – just get more cats. Am I wrong? I’m open to the possibility. And if you’re someone who does listen to Christmas music alone and I’ve offended you, you should write and set me straight. You owe it to your future kittens.

One thing I like to hear in winter are precious, 1960’s folk/pop lasses from Great Britain. An obvious choice is Marianne Faithfull, who, before descending into a (brief and thankfully conquered) foray into heroin, made some fabulous recordings in what was at first a somehow smoldering soprano (her voice, like Joni Mitchell’s, would eventually become lower and lower thanks to devoted smoking habits).

Another artist I fancy is Barbara Ruskin, who recorded perky songs about cats roaming streets and postal workers drinking tea and isn’t it lovely how horses and flowers and dreams and look a red balloon God Save the Queen. I’m paraphrasing here. She actually wrote much of her own music, which was unique in her time. Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any video clips of her music, or even some sound research on her. Why? Well, here’s a link to a song, anyway.

"Someone's stolen my guitar! I shall write a very cross song about it, indeed!"
Barbara Ruskin in her hey-day

Mary Hopkin I like for a little while. One side of one album is about all I ever want from her. Paul McCartney produced her debut album, which was one of the first releases from Beatles-founded Apple Records, and it included one hit which you may recognize from its constant play in most cafés which utilize cable radio:

Sandie Shaw is good fun. Her choices of songs are often grin-inducing, as she lends her feminine coolness to such records as “Lay Lady Lay” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”

She would enjoy a new generation of fans when Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths encouraged her to perform with them and cover their material.

Petula Clark is undoubtedly more square than the above artists, but I would be remiss not to include her here. The 1970’s would see a more polished, pop sound from this English superstar, but in the 1960’s she could smartly warble a folksy ditty. Of particular note are her French language recordings. They tend to be more produced and money than any Yé-yé contemporaries, but still hold some delight for me.

Lastly, there’s Burt Bacharach. While he was mostly never a British woman singing folk/pop, you’ll recall (if you were paying attention) that it’s always a good time for a little Burt…

Music like this makes me crave cocoa. No small feat, considering I don’t like cocoa. Odd, I know, but true. It’s too much like soup to me, and I don’t like soup. Soup spelled backwards is “puos.” Gross! I don’t eat puos. That’s just disgusting.


Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2008 06:00am | Post a Comment

"A master recording comes along every once in a while," confides Amoeba auctioneer/standup comedian Brently Heilbron, tongue firmly in cheek, at one of the Hollywood store's ongoing Saturday afternoon fun fueled auction-for-charity events. Brently is holding up above his head the long out-of-print Canary Training Record, a limited pressing 7" EP released some years back "by Howard's Mountain Bird Seed Company," he informs the clearly amused crowd gathered at the store for this auction that is unlike any other auction.

The novelty item is just the latest from a stack of items on the Amoeba auction block being sold to make money for several worthy charities. Items sold range from the quirky, to rare record label promotional items, to collectable artist-signed CDs/records, to sought-after concert tix for the Hollywood Bowl, etc. The one-hour Saturday afternoon Amoeba auctions, which have developed somewhat of a following since they began back in September 2005, started out initially as a direct response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and a way to help the victims in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in its aftermath. Since then the auctions have continued but the causes have broadened to benefit numerous other needy local and global relief efforts. Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that Amoeba not only hosts these events and donates most of the items on the auction block, but additionally matches every winning bidder's donation, up to $1,000.

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Black Orpheus Carnival Dance

Posted by Billyjam, December 16, 2008 04:45am | Post a Comment

Black Orpheus carnival dance, today's Dance of the Day, is from the legendary 1959 Marcel Camus film Black Orpheus which is based on the play Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. This film, which is set in the modern context of Rio de Janeiro during the Carnaval, is one of the greatest films of all time. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Look for the DVD or CD soundtrack (reissued some years back with bonus material) at Amoeba Music.


Posted by Billyjam, December 15, 2008 08:16am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five: 12:15:08

akon freedom
1) Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella Records)

2) Q-Tip The Renaissance (Motown/Universal)

3) E40 The Ball Street Journal (Sic Wid It/Warner)

4) Akon Freedom (Konvict/Universal/Motown)

5) Ludacris Theater of the Mind (Disturbing tha Peace/Def Jam)

The top five selling hip-hop albums in this week's chart from the Berkeley Amoeba Music store include artists that are similarly popular at the San Francisco and Hollywood Amoeba stores, as well as on other charts. For example, the number one, Kanye West's Auto-Tune heavy 808's & Heartbreak, also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Pop albums chart on its first week of release. Q-Tip's critically acclaimed triumphant return with The Renaissance is also selling well across the country. The new album, which with the exception of one song produced by the late great J-Dilla was all self produced by Q-Tip, has been selling consistently since it was released last month. Meanwhile Akon's new album Freedom, which originally was going to be titled Acquitted, debuted at number 7 on the Billboard charts. It is number 4 at Amoeba Berkeley, where the other two entries are Ludacris and E40. Check out the brand new Earl "E40" Stevens video below for The Ball Street Journal autobiographical track "Earl."   

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Posted by Billyjam, December 15, 2008 05:28am | Post a Comment

Today's Dance of the Day is the wonderful clip above of Ronnie & Vickie on the Wilburn Brothers Show, in which the talented young VIckie does a cool go-go dance while Ronnie sings (and dances a little) a rendition of "Mohair Sam." This was featured on the long defunct Wilburn Brothers Show (1963 - 1974) and if you watch this clip til after the credits you will also see a little bit of the dancing moves of Loretta Lynn, whose career the WIlburn brothers (Doyle and Teddy) helped launch.

The State Of Reggae En Espanol - An Interview With Eric Vidal

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 15, 2008 12:53am | Post a Comment

Last year around this time we were asked to make predictions for the upcoming year. One of my predictions had to do with Spanish Reggae. The popularity of Spanish Reggae in 2007 led me to believe that 2008 would be its year. Sadly, to fans of the genre, more of the same happened. Good Spanish Reggae releases went under the radar with poor distribution and very little press. However, Spanish Reggae still boils in the underground. There were some solid releases by some groups and last summer witnessed one of the biggest Spanish Reggae and Ska festivals ever to hit Los Angeles, with groups coming all over Latin America to perform at it.

I spoke with Amoeba employee Eric Vidal, who works in Amoeba’s Reggae section, about what he thought about the current state of Spanish Reggae and where it’s heading.

So was this the year for Spanish Reggae?

EV: Yeah, more people are into it, not huge amounts of people, but more people than before.

What are the new people like?

EV: Definitely more Raza is into it, especially the younger conscious crowd. Older Spanish rock heads are into it, coming from artists like Manu Chao and Todos Tus Muertos, and Raza who are into hip-hop and obviously people who are into Jamaican Reggae.

Who were your favorite Spanish Reggae artists this year?

EV: Alika, for sure. The new Gondwana was pretty tight. I also like the CD from Riddim. Locally, bands like Quinto Sol, Pachamama and Umoverde held it together, mixing Reggae with like Cumbia and Salsa. It makes it easier for people who cannot identify with roots music unless it’s fused with music that Raza is familiar with.

So what is slowing the progression of Spanish Reggae?

EV: No distribution. Everybody knows the artists but no one can get the releases. Also, it’s hard for the bands to come to the U.S. to tour. On top of that, other than Raza, no one else is really into the music. It doesn’t have crossover appeal to people who don’t speak Spanish.

Any last words on the subject?

EV: Bands like Quinto Sol are making it possible for Spanish Reggae bands to perform in Los Angeles. They are great promoters as well as a great band. Word is that they might be releasing CD’s by some Spanish Reggae groups locally. They have recorded with Alika, so watch out for that soon, as well as their own album and a Pachamama CD as well.

Favorite Band Alert #3

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 15, 2008 12:16am | Post a Comment
Wil-Dog Abers, bass player and one of the O.G. members of Ozomatli, loves Mexican Banda music. He loves it more than most Mexicanos. So what to do with all that love of Banda music? Start your own Banda!

Here are some pics from the band's show at Anda!, a club I do once a month at Mal's Bar with fellow deejays Gazoo, Ray Ricky Rivera and Mando Fever. The show was a lot of fun and the banda blew the roof off the bar!

Wil-Dog Y Su Banda La Juvenil starts off the show with a banda version of Mr.Vegas' "Heads High."

Banda La Juvenil maybe young but they play like a banda twice their age.

The tuba player

They did everything from El Coyote to The Clash.

The audience dug it, of course.

Band La Juvenil gig all over town without Wil-Dog. Bandas make bank playing everything from large concerts to weddings. All of you who ditched your tuba after your band geek days lost your calling, and lots of money.

I can't say Wil-Dog is a great Banda singer, but he is definitely one of the most entertaining. Much like Ozomatli took music you heard from the streets of L.A. and made it their own, Wil is taking Banda and making it his own.

Music Latin Music Majors Don't Want You To Hear

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 14, 2008 08:41pm | Post a Comment
Every day there is another release by a Latin Rock artist that will not be released domestically. The Latin major labels, after a few great years of experimentation, have returned to their practice of repackaging greatest hits by their established artists or releasing god-awful pop artists. The public yearns for and deserves better. As I mentioned in past blogs, I feel that Amoeba is the great equalizer. This is the store where imports from groups as Zoë or Porter will outsell rejects from La Academia Nuevo Generacion, even with all their stadium tours and television time. The following are imports that Amoeba Hollywood carries that I feel that the majors should release domestically...That is, if they didn’t have their collective heads up their asses.

Austin TV-Fontana Bella

This instrumental band from Mexico D.F. are more akin to groups such as Slint, Joan of Arc and Sigur Ros than anything currently on Univision. This five piece rocked all over the U.S. this year, including an appearance at Coachella that had many people asking, “Who are these guys?” If Juana Molina can be successful on a label like Domino, there is no reason why a strong indie can’t do well with Austin TV. The fact that they are from Mexico is irrelevant for marketing this group. Would one market Can or Kraftwerk as German Pop? Didn't think so.

Enrique Bunbury-Hellville En Deluxe

This is Enrique Bunbury's first solo album since 2004 and first release since a successful reunion tour with his former group, Heroes Del Silencio. H.D.S.’ Tour 2007 CD and separate DVD were Amoeba’s Latin Rock best sellers from late 2007 through 2008. The reviews for Hellville have been great, stating that this is Enrique’s best work in quite some time. Naturally, it makes perfect sense not to release this album in the U.S. where Bunbury has thousands of loyal fans! I can see delaying the release a month build a buzz but at this point if they release the album next year it will almost be too late.

Juan Son-Mermaid Sashimi

Atemahawke came out in 2007 but it seems like most people are just getting to know who the band is. Porter spent much of 2007 and 2008 on tour with Café Tacvba and singer Juan Son's duet with Julieta Venegas ("De Mis Pasos") was the standout on her very successful MTV Unplugged release. Porter’s thematic music and angelic vocals have made them popular with the Emo set. However, in January, Juan Son goes solo with Mermaid Sashimi, which sounds like a mixture of OS Mutantes, Smile-era Beach Boys, and Café Tacvba with a male Bjork singing. It is unclear to me if Porter is done and even if they are, Juan Son is on his way to be the next big thing out of Mexico.

Maria Daniela Y Su Sonido Lasser- Juventud en Éxtasis

There was much anticipation for Maria Daniela Y Sun Sonido Lasser's second release. The hype behind their debut album, along with touring in Europe and the U.S,. made them the darlings of the Latin Alternative press. Their adolescent electro-pop resonates with fresas from both sides of the border, as well as fans of Spanish Electro-Pop all over the world. The band's label, Nuevo Ricos, also have great releases by such artists as long time Mexican electronica geniuses, Titan, the electro rock and roll wild man they call Silverio, the surf rock of Faca and the garagey Jessy Bulbo.

Zoe-281187 & Reptiletric

After three indie releases, Sony U.S. finally released a Zoë CD domestically. Memorex Commander flew off the shelves and the band's popularity continued to grow. Their 80’s influenced electro rock was the perfect soundtrack for niños buen who missed the 80’s completely. Since Memorex, Zoë has released three CD’s: a remix version of Memorex, 2008’s 281187 & their latest, Reptiletric, which was released this month.

Juan Son's Mermaid Sashimi & Zoe's Replietric are not currently in stock at Amoeba Hollywood, but we are trying hard to get them in the store. Stay tuned!

Damned River

Posted by phil blankenship, December 14, 2008 04:51pm | Post a Comment

CBS Fox Video 4767


Posted by Billyjam, December 14, 2008 04:44pm | Post a Comment

And this just in -- the new number one video clip of 2008 will shortly become the above clip of the televised incident earlier today in which George W. Bush, during a press conference from his unannounced visit to Iraq, had a pair of Size 10 black leather shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi TV journalsit. Bush reacted instantly, ducking and avoiding being hit by either shoe, but clearly he was as surprised as everyone else in the room.

Now, if you have been watching TV or have been online on news sites over the past few hours you will undoubtedly have seen this gripping piece of footage, but over the next few days & weeks you can be sure it will fast become the number one most replayed video of 2008 online as well as on TV. I bet that during all the george bush and a shoeyear end wrap up shows on television it will upstage every other video clip of the past year -- one rich in symbolic eye catching stories, including even Sarah Palin's Thanksgiving Turkey clip. 

In the meantime it will no doubt fuel editorial rantings from the likes Bill O'Reilly on one side as well as the legions of Dubya haters on the other side for some time. Furthermore, this incident will forever mark or bookend the last days of the Bush presidency in the history books unless something else even more shocking happens to, or is brought about by, Bush before he leaves office.

Additonally, It will also undoubtedly inspire conspiracy theories galore. For starters, in Arab culture the sole of a shoe is the ultimate insult. The above picture, courtesy of the TImes in London, is of a Shia protester last month striking an image of President Bush with his shoe as an expression of contempt during a rally in central Baghdad. Plenty to go on there, but some will take it further. Some conspiracy theorists will dwell on the meaning of the size of the shoe or the color of the shoes or the order (left, right) in which they were thrown.


Posted by Billyjam, December 14, 2008 12:08pm | Post a Comment

Today's Dance of the Day is the Filipino dancing inmates moving in unision to the piped in sounds of Flo Flo Rida LowRIda featuring T-Pain's "Low" (single released earlier this year by Poe Boy/Atlantic and available at Amoeba Music). The video is one in a series from the inmates at the CPDRC facility performing their unique monthly prison-wide group dance. This particular recorded dance is from June 28, 2008 and, like all of the group inmate dances at the Filipino CPDRC facility, is choreographed by Byron F Garcia, who has helped stage (and film) numerous other recorded mass inmate dance displays including one from February this year to Soulja Boy and MC Hammer

Although some (mostly non inmates) have critized this forced dancing on inmates as "cruel" or "inhumane," Garcia firmly believes that dancing is a postive force and hence a good tool in the rehabiliation of prisoners. I have to agree with him (the inmates all seem pretty uplifted from these dances) and I can't help but wonder what the results would be if a similar program were adapted in US incarceration facilities. 


Posted by Charles Reece, December 13, 2008 10:05pm | Post a Comment
One of my favorite comics artists, Dave Cooper, provides the artwork for a new music video, which looks great -- but I warn you, mute the sound:

Danko Jones - King Of Magazines from Bad Taste Records on Vimeo.

Which came first, the love of comics or the big butt fetish? Anyway, comics work doesn't pay for shit, so Cooper now does illustration work and stuff like the above.

Here are his comics in the 'el' series, all of them as good as pop culture ever gets. They're perverse in the best sense of the word [click to enlarge]:

Note that body conscious David Cronenberg wrote an intro to Ripple, so that should tell you something about Cooper's brand of humor. Some of his oil paintings [click to enlarge]:

Here's his new website, which doesn't have much on it, yet, so here's his old site. And here's an interview with the man by Patrick McKeown, another great comics artist who


Posted by Billyjam, December 13, 2008 03:02pm | Post a Comment

Today's Dance of the Day, which is also part fight, is of Jean Claude Van Damme busting a move or two on the dance floor in the 1989 film Kickboxer. In this action movie (available on DVD at Amoeba), J.C.V.D. plays van damme kickboxerthe younger brother of an unbeaten American kickboxer who hungers for some real competition and ends up going to the home of Muay Thai kick boxing: Thailand.

Van Damme was the subject of a wonderful recent Amoeblog by Charles Reece, where it was reported that the "Muscles from Brussels has finally starred in a film that's been getting some good critical response. JCVD is an attempt to explore the heart and mind of Jean-Claude Varenberg, the man behind the dissipating Van Damme legend." The new film on JCVD by director Mabrouk El Mechri is the film that is receiving rave reviews. From this engaging Amoeblog I learned that JCVD had a small role in the 1984 hip-hop movie Breakin'.

Secret Society of the Sonic Six live Friday 12.19.2008

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 13, 2008 12:55pm | Post a Comment

Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times

Posted by Miss Ess, December 12, 2008 07:49pm | Post a Comment

One of the most interesting and endearing films I saw this year on DVD was 2002's Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times, a documentary covering the incredible life of the revolutionary designer. His Life and Times is followed by 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, in which we observe the entire process of the creation of Saint Laurent's final collection. In these films, Saint Laurent is noticeably shy and sweet, despite how luxurious and decadent his lifestyle became as his fashion house's stature grew over 40ish years. He discusses his family, his muses, his lovers, his struggle with his own sexuality, all in a humble and soft-spoken manner.

Saint Laurent began as the head of the House of Dior, appointed by Dior himself, when he was just 21 years old. After a traumatic, hazing-filled 20-day stint in the French Army fighting the Algerian War of Independence, Saint Laurent left the army only to find he had lost his job at Dior. The stress of it all led him to be committed to an asylum, where he received electro-shock therapy. When he got out, he started his own fashion house with his intrepid life partner Pierre Bergé, who is also interviewed in the documentary. Saint Laurent's Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women was a landmark and helped his popularity to explode by the mid-60s. Despite waxing and waning drug and alcohol addiction, hIs career continued with success and his House flourished and continues to have booming popularity, although sadly Saint Laurent died June 1, 2008.

After enjoying this documentary so much, I was thrilled to hear that the De Young Museum here in San Francisco is hosting a retrospective of Saint Laurent's collections through April 2009, the retrospective's only US stop. It's definitely something I will be checking out in the new year.

Also, it was announced that this coming February Bergé will be auctioning off most of the vast collection of art (by artists such as Picasso, Cézanne, Mondrian, Géricault, Matisse, Munch, etc), furniture and museum-quality objects that he and Saint Laurent had passionately amassed over the years of their tumultuous relationship. For a closer look at the Paris apartment Saint Laurent occupied for nearly 40 years, as well as many of the incomparable items that will be up for auction, check out these amazing photos on the Vanity Fair website, and also this detailed article about their sale, which gives a good summary of the items and their historical value, as well as a forthright interview with Bergé.

Saint Laurent was undoubtedly one of the greats. We can all be inspired by the grace and dexterity with which he negotiated his storied life, and Yves Saint Laurent: HIs Life and Times, as well as 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, lovingly tell his tale and celebrate his genius.

Global Language Monitor's 2008's Top Word, Phrase, Name

Posted by Whitmore, December 12, 2008 04:19pm | Post a Comment

So far we have seen competing Dictionaries select “Hypermiling” and / or “bailout,” as the 2008 Word of the Year, but…
The Global Language Monitor not only selects the Top Word of the Year but also the Top Phrase and Top Name of the year… the whole shit and caboodle right here all the way from the fine city of Austin, Texas! Ladies and gentleman once again … the Top Word for 2008:
The Top Phrase: “Financial Tsunami
And the Top Name: “Barack Obama
These results are from the annual survey of the English language from the Global Language Monitor. By the way, the estimated number of words in the English language now stands at 998,751. And English-speakers world wide now number about 1.58 billion people.
The analysis was completed using “GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet. The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.”
The GLM’s top selections for 2007 were all ‘green’ oriented:  “Hybrid” was the Top Word, “Climate Change” was the Top Phrase, and the Top Name was Al Gore, who won the Nobel Prize for his efforts on Global Warming through his film An Inconvenient Truth.
So here are the Global Language Monitor’s Top Ten Words for 2008:
Change - The top political buzzword of the 2008 Presidential campaign.
Bailout - Would have been higher on the list but didn’t really appear in the media until September.
Obamamania - Describing the worldwide reaction to Barack Obama’s campaign and victory in the US presidential race.
Greenwashing - Repositioning a product to stress its Earth-friendly attributes.
Surge - Military and political strategy often cited as reducing violence in Iraq.
Derivative - Exotic financial instruments used to cleverly package junk-grade debt.
Subprime - Mortgages that were packaged as derivatives.
Foreclosure - The dead end-result of the sub-prime mess.
Phelpsian - Word coined to describe Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.
Chinglish - The Chinese/English language hybrid that Beijing tried to stamp out before the Olympics began.
The Top Ten Phrases for 2008:
Financial Tsunami - Describing the worldwide financial apocalypse stemming from the subprime mortgage debacle.
Global Warming - The second most talked about buzzword in the Presidential Campaign.
Yes We Can - Yeah baby!
Lame Duck - The lamest, duckiest of all, but delicious in a sauce of ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, garlic, chili powder with a tbsp soy sauce and honey on a bed of saffron rice.
Working Class Whites - Apparently code for whites who are working class. 
“It is, what it is” - This year’s “unfortunately, those are the facts ma’am.”
Lip Synching - From the little girl, Lin Miaoke, who didn’t sing the song the whole world saw her sing at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
Price of oil - Today a barrel of oil was about $47.86 on the N.Y. Mercantile Exchange.
Super Tuesday - Super maybe, but not a hell of a lot got settled that Tuesday.
Suddenness Happens - Top Chinglish Phrase from the Beijing Olympics.
The Top Ten Names for 2008:
Barack Obama 
George W. Bush 
Michael Phelps
Hilary Clinton
Vladimir Putin 
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 
Sarah Palin
John McCain 
And just for the hell of it, the Top Celeb Couple of 2008: Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni (replacing David Beckham and Posh Spice). The French President and his former supermodel wife were married on February 2, 2008.

Celebrating the 4th annual Christmas is the BEST holiday extravaganza!

Posted by Kells, December 12, 2008 03:28pm | Post a Comment

A couple of years ago some friends of mine, Uni (of Uni & her Ukelele fame) and Dr. Trucker (also known as Amoeba's AV master Gabe Wheeler), made their very own Christmas CD called Christmas is the Best! It's chock full of hits, literally with one song actually being titled "The Hit," and exciting original material that has come to be cherished and celebrated in the annual holiday showcase of the same name. This year we'll be cooling it down and heating it up with Uni and Dr. Trucker and friends on Sunday December 14th at Annie's Social Club in San Francisco so get off the couch and come on down to see what all the fuss is about!

Beginning at 7pm there will be crafts and arts including popcorn and cranberry garland threading as well as countdown-to-Christmas paper chains and snowflake cut outs and face painting. Also, please feel free to bring any crap gift you've received for the "shitty re-gift exchange" and, if you can spare any, please bring a non-perishable food item for Mariel a la Mode, our near and dear (and very hungry) sassy, sweet burlesque darling who will also be performing in the show (if you bring something tasty you just might see her pasties). Other acts include the comic stylings of Amoeba's own Sean Murphy, Jumpin Justin of Apple Pie Hopes, Tippy Canoe, Dottie Lux, Ricky Berger, and the fun and unusual vocal duo Corvette Summer who promise to display creations of Christmas never before imagined. Joining the above of course will be Uni & her Ukelele and Dr. Trucker performing songs from their Christmas is the Best opus with Emily and Double DIPtheorya -- a dramatic dance team featuring yours truly. Expect a few surprises as well as an end of the night "smooth and sweaty" dance party to top off this once a year confection of holiday highs and Christmas, umm, thighs. Everyone wins! As Uni and Dr. Trucker would say, "It's Christmas Time -- I'm soooo EXCITED!" Do yourself a favor and come on out to the show, especially you Scrooge McHaters out worst you'll have the best Christmastime of your life, I can guarantee it!

                                                                                                                                                                         Here is Uni & her Ukelele and Mariel a la Mode performing "All I Want for Christmas is U" with a special guest appearance by Nappi:

Uni performs her original song "Christmas on Tatooine (A Very Merry Star Wars Christmas)" with a few key Star Wars faces (the chords to this song can be found on Uni's MySpace page):

And here Uni performs her favorite Christmas song: Joni Mitchell's "The River."


It's Getting Bleak Out There; Therefore, We Have Leonard Cohen

Posted by Miss Ess, December 12, 2008 01:45pm | Post a Comment
As the weather turns chillier and the sky is becoming both bleaker and darker and darker with each passing evening, I'm feeling more and more introverted in general and also more contemplative in my quieter moments. In these times, I turn to Leonard Cohen.

His voice is macabre and deep as he delivers masterfully written lyrics, lyrics which slowly and delicately unwrap like layers of an onion, leaving the listener with a sombre, twisting, truth-filled puzzle to muddle and steep like a bag of tea in his or her mind. Here are two of his performances that I find particularly striking as the temperature drops.

First, "The Stranger Song" from Songs of Leonard Cohen.

Then, "A Singer Must Die." I apologize that there is no video for this one, but the song is so heavy and evocative on its own, I don't really think it needs one in the end. Each line contributes to the forming of a developing picture in the mind. The song is from Cohen's album New Skin For the Old Ceremony.

St. Lucy's Day (Sankta Lucia)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 12, 2008 10:28am | Post a Comment

Tomorrow is St. Lucy's Day, a holiday primarily observed in Northern and Central Europe, and the Upper Midwest. If it seems odd for Lutherans to observe a St. Day, it's because it sort of is. Then again, as with most Christian observances, the holiday's roots have nothing to do with saints or Christianity.

St. Lucy's Day begins with a young girl clad in white with a lit crown of candles positioned in her hair in a fir wreath (or lingonberry or whortleberry twigs). She leads a procession of candle-bearing girls with coffee, ginger snaps, glog and St. Lucia buns (lussekatter). Sometimes there are boys in conical hats known as "star boys." The children sing Lucia songs which provide a welcome break from Christmas Carols.

Falling near the longest night of the year, the symbolism of young maidens bearing light-bringing fire and bounty isn't too hard to figure out, but if you must know the official Christian version of events, then here you go. Officially, Lucia helped the early Christians in Italy who hid in the catacombs. In order to see, but needing to bring food in her hands, she contructed a wreath of candles. Yeah... right.

The truth is that before the light-bringing Lucy was invented, Germanic people and their neighbors observed "Lussi Night." The figure, Lussi die dunkle, was a dark, evil female spirit that came on the 13th of December to punish those with uncompleted tasks. Similar (and perhaps to related) to Lillith, the Mesopotamian storm demons, Lussi also preyed upon children. In fact, a whole mob of Lussiferda (Lisle-Ståli, Store-Ståli, Ståli Knapen, Tromli Harebakka, Sisill, Surill, Hektetryni and Botill) would go around an enter houses through chimneys to kidnap children. Sound vaguely familiar?

In Italy, where St. Lucia is said to have lived and died, children leave sandwiches for her and she rides a flying donkey, giving coal to bad children and... flour, sugar or salt to the good. Now that's an incentive! They don't, however, eat anything made of wheat flour on this day, munching instead on cuccia (a desert made of wheat berries) and biscotti made to look like eyeballs.

In Hungary, groups of children sing ancient fertility songs and, if given gifts of pears, bless the houses' poultry. If not rewarded, they have to power to make all the chickens die... except one... which is left blind.

A newer tradition is for college students to party all night long on St. Lucia Day, since it's one of the last chances to get together before going home for Christmas.

by John Donne

'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
            The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
    For I am every dead thing,
    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
            For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
    I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
    Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
            Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
    Were I a man, that I were one
    I needs must know ; I should prefer,
            If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
    At this time to the Goat is run
    To fetch new lust, and give it you,
            Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.


Posted by Billyjam, December 12, 2008 06:14am | Post a Comment

Bettie Page, the eternally popular sexy 1950s pin-up model who died yesterday at age 85, conducted this TV interview eleven years ago. "I wouldn't want to see a model when she's old and out of shape. Who would?... I hate old age," said the Southern accented Page. Interviewed at age 74 in 1997 by Real Life entertainment reporter Tim Estiloz, she refused to be shown on camera. "I don't want to be photographed in old age," said the former model, who retired at age 34.

If you know little about Bettie Page's career (which remarkably only lasted seven years but whose influence is felt to this day) this is a good primer. Page, who was also known as Betty, was placed on life support last week after suffering a heart attack in Los Angeles and never regained consciousness, as was reported by the AP. Apparently before the heart attack, Page had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia.

As outlined in the above TV piece, her once risque photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses. Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, told AP that "I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society."

To read the full AP report on Bettie Page's death and often turbulent life go to the SF Gate website.


Posted by Billyjam, December 12, 2008 05:17am | Post a Comment

How-to do the adulation jiggity-gig, including such moves as the basic step, the full-body shimmy,  shoulder plunge, the jazz hands, belly rub, and of course, the overbite.

December 10, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, December 12, 2008 12:30am | Post a Comment

out this week 12/ power...mark kozelek...welcome wagon...sufjan stevens...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 11, 2008 11:21pm | Post a Comment

is so close that I can already feel it being over. Holidays go by so fast that they are always over before you know it. This whole year went by pretty quickly, but I guess it actually took the same amount of time as the year before. It just felt quicker is what I mean. But a lot did really happen this year, and if you thought there were not very many albums out this year you are simply wrong. You might've just had to look a little bit harder this year.

Since the year is quickly winding down, there's only a couple more street dates of releases. This week includes releases from two of my favorites. One of them is only avaialbe on vinyl and the other is just a new sort of collection, but they are still worth our time to talk about. Cat Power still remains one of my favorite singers and personalities. Some might have turned their back on her, while others are still discovering the genius that is the sad, sad voice of Chan Marshall. Chan Marshall is Cat Power, just in case you didn't know. I have had my ups and downs with her over the years, but I have always stood by her side and always been a fan. If you have not heard her albums yet, you should come on down to Amoeba and pick one up. It is never too late to become a Cat Power fan. Or if you already have her entire catalog, you will need to complete it with this album. There is no time like Christmas to listen to Cat Power. Might not seem like the obvious choice for Christmas music, and she doesn't actually have any Christmas albums, but I always like listening to her around the holidays for some reason. I guess for the same reason I like listening to The Carpenters' Christmas Album. I like mixing dark and intense music with such a festive and joyous time. I am actually one of those people that does love Christmas, but I like my Christmas a little darker than normal.

This might be as close as Cat Power will ever come to creating a Christmas Album, but I do hope that she has an actual Christmas album somewhere inside her. For some reason only more mainstream pop artists are the ones that end up putting out Christmas albums. Every once in a while a band like Low or Sufjan Stevens puts out a Christmas album, but for the most part we are left with artists like Mariah Carey and every single country artist putting out the bulk of the Christmas albums. If Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond can put out Christmas albums, than really anybody should. I just wish that Bloc Party would put out a Christmas album, or how about Morrissey? I mean, wouldn't it just be fantastic to have a whole album of M.I.A. holiday songs?! So, anyway, no Christmas album from Cat Power quite yet. This is just sort of her gift to her fans for the holidays. Maybe it just makes your gift shopping for that hard-to-buy-for friend a bit easier. Who wouldn't want a beautiful double gatefold 10" from Cat Power? The album only includes six song but I gaurantee you that this will not be around forever. It is basically songs left over from her last album of covers, Jukebox. The EP includes these songs...

1. Dark End Of The Street (Aretha Franklin)
2. Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
3. Ye Auld Triangle (The Pogues)
4. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) (Otis Redding)
5. Who Knows Where The Time Goes (Fairport Convention)
6. It Ain’t Fair (Aretha Franklin)

Dark End of t he Street by Cat Power (VINYL) 

Another one of my favorites would be Mr. Mark Kozelek. The man behind Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters is putting out a collection of cover tracks this week as well. It is almost as if Mark and Chan got together and both decided to put out collections of covers as a gift to their fans right before the holidays. Cat Power does not need to be compared to any man. She is without a doubt her own unique entity. Still, I always like to think of her as the female version of Bill Callahan (Smog) or maybe Nick Cave. But I also always think of Mark Kozelek and Red House Painters when I think of Chan Marshall and Cat Power. They are both that good that it makes sense to compare them to each other. Mark is also known for doing many covers over the years. He has done covers of everyone from John Denver to AC/DC. This new collection includes 10 songs. It is basically a collection of 8 covers and 2 original instrumental tracks from Mark Kozelek. These instrumental versions, along with the Husker Du track, have never been released before. It also includes a song from an episode of your favorite childrens show Yo Gabba Gabba! Here is the tracklisting...

1. The Piano Song (Mark Kozelek Instrumental)
2. Finally (Kath Bloom)
3. New Partner (Will Oldham)
4. Send in the Clowns (Stephen Sondheim)
5. Lazy (Low)
6. Bedtime Lullaby (Yo Gabba Gabba!)
7. Celebrated Summer (Husker Du)
8. My Friend Bob (Dom Leone/Ed's Redeeming Qualities)
9. If You Want Blood (Live in Lisbon) (AC/DC)
10. Gaping Mouth (Mark Kozelek Instrumental)

Red House Painters is one of those bands that makes me cry like a baby, yet I can't get enough of them. Mark's voice is simply magic and he really does do magical things to these covers. You probably will not recognize most of these songs because his covers are usually more like reinterpretations. I doubt this album will become a Christmas tradition for most, but it is fantastic release for those of us that love Mark Kozelek and anything he does. I know I would probably buy a book on CD of him reading the biography of Rush Limbaugh. I just love him that much. This album is not yet on vinyl, but it might be confusing for some since the album is called The Finally LP. Just so we are clear: the Cat Power EP is only available on vinyl at the moment, and the Mark Kozelek LP is only available on CD.

Finally LP by Mark Kozelek

Our friend Sufjan Stevens gave us a fantastic Christmas box set a couple of years ago. It is still available and I highly recommend it. Sufjan Stevens has been a busy man, but I was really hoping for more albums from his United States project by now. He has so far only given us Illinois and Michigan. He has stated that he will put out an album about each of the 50 states, but he really is not making much progress. I would not be surprised though, if he just put out a 50 CD box set in a couple of years. Maybe he is just keeping the project secret and wants to put them all out the same time. Or maybe he will just release the remaining 48 once a week throughout the year, with weeks left over for a Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, and Valentine's Day album. For now we get Welcome to the Welcome Wagon by The Welcome Wagon. This album is supposedly not Sufjan himself, but it sounds suspiciously like a Sufjan Stevens album. He produced the album and did all the arranging but the album is actually the husband/wife duo of the Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique. For those afraid of the religious undertones of any Sufjan Stevens album, I suggest you stay away from this one. But for those who love a good mashup of folk music, spirituals, religion, pop culture and show tunes, this album is for you. I can't help but fall in love with the Welcome Wagon. If you
are a very religious person you will most likely hear this as a religious album, but if you are not, it is simply a fantastic pop album to listen to. I swear that the first couple of times I listened to it, I didn't ever know they were singing about religion. The songs are actually catchy and sort of fun. The album also features a plastic glockenspiel. I am sure those glockenspiel fanatics out there might want to hear the album for this fact alone.

I guess I really did fall in love with the album because of the brilliant cover of "Half A Person." This is orignally a song by The Smiths but they do a great reintrepretation of it. The album is worth it alone for this one song. I seriously doubt that I am going to start exploring the world of gospel and religious music, but it is for sure an unexplored area of music for many people, and like all genres of music, there are always amazing albums that we may have never even known existed. I also would have never listened to this without knowing that Sufjan Stevens put his magical touch on it. If you are a fan at all of Sufjan Stevens you will most likely love this album. If you are at all afraid of hearing gospel or christian music, the album might scare you a bit. Just think of it like listening to albums sung in a different language. You may love a certain album that is entirely sung in French or Spanish. You might have no idea what they are singing about. The language of religion is a bit like that. It is true, I am a member of the cult of Sufjan Stevens. I will admit it. You either love him or hate him. But really, this guy just sounds exactly like Sufjan. I still need some more convincing to believe that it is not really him. Maybe Sufjan used his magical powers to make this guy sound exactly like him.

Welcome to the Welcome Wagon by The Welcome Wagon

Another album out this week worth your time is the new Alice Russell. You may already be a fan or youhave probably never heard of her. I was in the second group. This is actually her fourth album. It is called Pot of Gold. She is from the UK and could easily be compared to Duffy, Adele or Amy Winehouse. I am quickly becoming a big fan in just a couple of days. The album is most certainly that type of UK old soul that has become a bit more popular again over the last couple of years, but this lady has been at it for a while. She has also been more involved with the electronica scene than you might first expect if this album is your first introduction to her.  She has worked with the Quantic Soul Orchestra, Massive Attack, and Mr. Scruff. This new album is out on Six Degrees Records. It doesn't really matter if she should be compared to Adele and Duffy or they should be compared to her, the album is just good on its own, and it is nice to see a great little album like this coming right at the end of the year. Just in time.

Pot of Gold by Alice Russell  BUY NOW

also out this week...

Birth Canal Blues by Current 93

A Cross the Universe by Justice

Brighten the Corners: Deluxe Edition by Pavement

Curtain Speech by DM Stith

Carl Craig, Gamall, Jonah Sharp, & {KONTROL} DJs in SF

Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2008 12:40pm | Post a Comment

If you are in the Bay Area there is one really great lineup at the Demon Days party at club Mezzanine in San Francisco tonight featuring legendary Detroit producer/DJ Carl Craig along with Gamall (Demon Days, NYC), plus the Bay Area's own longtime UK transplant Jonah Sharp under his Spacetime Continuum moniker featuring Nigerian drummer Sikiru Adepoju. And to top it off, local turntable crew [KONTROL] DJs featuring Alland Byallo, Nikola Baytala, Craig Kuna, and Sammy D will also be spinning throughout the night.

Carl Craig, accurately described as "the forefather of the second wave of Detroit techno," picked up where Juan Atkins and company started with that strain of electronic music in the Michigan city. In addition to being a super-talented, dedicated producer/DJ/remixer, Craig is also a committed cultural anthropologist and in 2000 was chosen as curator of the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival (something he since discontinued, as curator but not as a performer). As is evident in the above recent interview with the artist by UK based dollop, Carl Craig is always aware of and giving props to his city of Detroit and all the artists who have hailed from "the motor city" over the years including Kevin Saunderson, Bob Seger, Iggy Pop, carl craigand the White Stripes.


Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2008 10:37am | Post a Comment

The dance of the day is the once phenomenally popular, albeit highly controversial, "dirty boogie" dance. This clip is from the classic John Waters' 1988 movie Hairspray, in which Ricki Lake's "pleasantly pluhairspraymp" teenaged character Tracy Turnblad and her peers are shaking their thing down in the aisles of Baltimore's small but packed Motormouth Records store in a racially tense America, circa 1962. 

The dance part is for the first minute or so of the above clip, which is a nine minute unedited excerpt from the recommended Waters movie which, as you know, was remade last year by director Adam Shankman with John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, & Christopher Walken, etc. Personally I much prefer the original. Both versions are available on DVD @ Amoeba Music. Ask for help if you cannot locate. Note however that the CD/LP soundtrack of the 1988 Hairspray, also available at Ameoba, does not include the song featured during this dance. And if you missed it the first time around, peep the video below of the interview with John Waters below during his Amoeba Music Hollywood instore last year in support of his CD A Date With John Waters (New Line Records).


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 11, 2008 01:00am | Post a Comment

The Merriam-Webster‘s Dictionary 2008 Word of the Year:

Posted by Whitmore, December 10, 2008 04:06pm | Post a Comment

You can call it the hedonistic hype of hyperbole, a mêlée or metaphors, the clash of colossal lexicons, but each year competing Dictionaries select a “Word of the Year,” so far in 2008 we’ve seen the New Oxford American Dictionary choose the word “hypermiling” … but today we listen in awe to a new utterance ...

Ladies and Gentlemen, in this corner! Weighing in at three consonants and four vowels … a Noun … The Merriam-Webster‘s Dictionary pick for the 2008 Word of the Year:


Bailout is defined as "a rescue from financial distress."
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year selection began in 2003. In their freshman year they settled on, in my opinion, a slightly anemic choice: “Democracy.” However, number two on the list in ‘03 was “Quagmire,” a favorite word of mine and patron to my mindset and lifestyle. But in each year since, the Merriam-Webster selection has often proven to be excellent and playful. The 2004 word was “blog.” In 2006 the word of the year was “Truthiness” coined by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report, the definition: “Truth coming from the gut, not books; preferring to believe what you wish to believe, rather than what is known to be true.” And last year's surprise choice included a couple of zeroes in its spelling: “w00t,” meaning “An Expression of joy after triumph or for no reason at all."

Merriam-Webster picks its Word of the Year by considering the number of online searches for an unusual term and how much that word has slipped into everyday conversation. Bailout hit the top of the Google charts after this year’s unprecedented financial meltdown and apocalypse. $700 billion worth of “what the hell” compelled millions of web surfers to lookup the word within just a few weeks of the September Banking bailout announcement.

Several of the terms in the Merriam-Webster’s Top Ten were the direct result of the other big news story of the year, the Presidential campaign: “maverick,” “bipartisan,” “rogue,” “socialism,” and “vet.”

Here are Merriam-Webster’s Top Ten Words for 2008:

1 - Bailout (noun): a rescue from financial distress
2 - Vet (transitive verb):  to evaluate for possible approval or acceptance
3 - Socialism (noun): any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
4 - Maverick (noun): an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party
5 - Bipartisan (adjective): marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties
6 - Trepidation (noun): timorous uncertain agitation
7 - Precipice (noun): a hazardous situation
8 - Rogue (noun): a mischievous person
9 - Misogyny (noun): a hatred of women
10 - Turmoil (noun): a state or condition of extreme confusion, agitation, or commotion

The original Disco Dancers on Captain Planet

Posted by Billyjam, December 10, 2008 08:49am | Post a Comment

Shabarcs in India is to thank for today's Dance of the Day. Titled "The original Disco Dancers on Captain Planet," these nine dancers (eight in glittery tops, the main one in dark suit, all in sunglasses) display some not quite so synchronized moves -- but all are having an apparently really good time as they move to (of all things) the Captain Planet theme. Note how their freeform style even includes some country dance moves. "Captain Planet, he's a hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero."

December 9, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, December 9, 2008 11:28pm | Post a Comment

After many, many trips to the Chinese theatre,
I finally fulfilled my dream of being the ONLY patron in attendance for a show.
I'm not talking about the smaller Chinese 6 next door
where I've been alone many times. The BIG Chinese.
Thank you Punisher: War Zone. 

ps. this is my 599th post!

The future of Blu-Ray

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 9, 2008 09:05pm | Post a Comment

This town needs an enema
The Dark Knight was released today (December 9th) on DVD and Blu-Ray. It will, no doubt, be yet another enormously popular title on DVD -- but for Blu-Ray, it's being viewed by some as a make-it-or-break-it title. You may've noticed Blu-Ray commercials are beginning to sparingly pop up on TV. This is part of a curiously cautious, last ditch effort to boost the troubled format's fortunes. Last Christmas, sluggish sales of HD DVD resulted in that format's extinction the following spring. Some thought that Blu-Ray, as the victor of the so-called format war, would benefit from a sales boost from cautious buyers who'd been waiting to see what format triumphed. But instead Blu-Ray player sales dropped 40% in the first month of the year, then plateaued before dropping to less than half their peak sales not long after. Like LaserDiscs before them, Blu-Rays offer superior quality at a higher price but appeal only to a niche market. It remains to be seen if this market can grow sufficiently to keep Blu-Rays viable.

What’s the problem, officer?
While hordes of consumers have turned to low cost, low quality mp3s over CDs, the idea that those same people would shell out more money for a higher quaity optical format was never a likely scenario. I personally don’t like the way everything looks in HD. I caught a bit of Bachelor Party in HD and it looked like one of those cheap, BBC costume dramas from the '70s, All of the shoddiness was exposed in a harsh, unflattering light that I found disconcerting and distracting. I also like Conan O'Brien more when I can't see the edge of his foundation. Is clearer picture always a good thing? Would you pay three times as much for a Renoir or Cézanne if it was photorealistic? Have you ever felt that the main issue with a bad movie was that the resolution wasn't high enough? So many supposed innovations are actually vastly inferior to what they're supposed to improve. If it sounds like I'm talking about more than detachable collars, it's because I am.

Another problem with Blu-Ray is the selection. The selection is primarily limited to whatever new Hollywood films are coming out and titles that, on DVD, gather dust in the world’s bargain bins. Who is the person out there that’s going to buy S.W.A.T. or Dinosaur in 2008? I feel like people are over merely building their libraries at this point. About the only classic titles released on Blu-Ray, thus far, are the early Bond films… which are on five different channels at any point of every day, sometimes in HD.
Yet another of Blu-Ray’s problems is that a lot of people still haven’t even heard of it. Whereas those who ask what a DVD is and if it will play “in the regular machine” (i.e. VCR) were all pretty much born before the Great Depression, many people, of all backgrounds, regularly express complete, disinterested ignorance about Blu-Rays. With commercials advertising Blu-Ray's supposed advantages just beginning to air, it seems like a typically dunderheaded Sony move, to waiting till they’re at death's door to give their product a push.

There are a lot of discussions and mischaracterizations of the Blu-Ray market that don’t hold up against the facts, which certainly isn't helping. It’s often claimed that Blu-Ray players and discs are just too high priced. In fact, two years into their existence, Blu-Ray players are only about $200. On the other hand, two years into their existence, DVD players cost $300 and the discs were about the same price as Blu-Rays are today. At Amoeba, we sell Hannah Montana and Alvin & the Chipmunks for $12.99. We’ve got Dan in Real Life, Ultraviolet, The Great Raid, King Arthur, Premonition, The Santa Clause 3 for only $9.99. Clearly, price isn't the only obstacle these films face. For films to be released on Blu-Ray, there are fees of around $40,000 which is why you're unlikely to see indie, foreign, music, documentaries, silents, animes or classic films any time soon.

The real difference isn’t cost, it’s that Blu-Rays hardly present the monumental improvement over DVDs that DVDs did over VHS. A better analogy is to DVD-audio and Super Audio CDs, which failed to dislodge CDs as the format of choice. And those aforementioned titles aren’t exactly the kind of fare that would warrant the Hi-Def treatment (nor repeated viewings) in the first place. Nor are they the sort of titles that appeal to the Blu-Ray market. Blu-ray discs peaked at 7.5% of the disc market in March, following HD DVD death. Then they dropped down to 4%. Since then, the NPD won't release sales figures of Blu-ray standalone players because they’re so low that it might convince people not to purchase players, fearing they’ll stop producing discs for them next spring. The figure is believed to hover around a measly 3%, lower even than Bush's approval rating by a large margin.
While Blu-Rays appear to be struggling to get off the ground, DVDs continue to hold more appeal for both cineastes and the money-minded alike. Amazingly, it's been reported that a lot of people can’t tell the difference between DVDs and Blu-Rays. Because of that, it’s unlikely that most people would be willing to shell out any amount of extra money for benefits they can’t recognize.
Meanwhile, especially in emerging economies, like Africa, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and South America, DVD sales are actually growing. As DVD prices drop and approach those of VCDs, they’re beginning to approach the sales of the third-world-beloved, low cost, low quality optical format. And for film collectors looking to own copies of hard to find titles, there are a lot more interesting titles on the import market than Blu-Ray.

It’s not all bad…
At 3% of the video market, Blu-Rays are obviously a niche market. Although many articles portray Blu-Ray consumers as “Tech Geeks,” it seems to me that it’s much more a market for conspicuous consumers. Tech Geeks don’t want disc clutter. They have high bandwidths and stream HD, seeing little reason to own media. Even if they did, computer storage space normally falls in cost between 40%-50% a year, making downloads still more attractive. No, the conspicuous consumer, the guy who wants to drop jaws with the size of his TV, who wants to rattle the earth with his audio, seems to be the real market. Whereas LaserDiscs similarly offered pictures a thousand times better than VHS (but for a higher price), that format attempted to appeal to cineastes. Blu-Ray's successes are all big, bright, loud, shiny blockbusters -- usually about superheroes. And those seem to actually be selling pretty briskly (well, except for the unsellable Daredevil). But it's going to take a legion of superheroes to win this fight.
Just compare the Amoeba's post HD DVD top sellers on Blu-Ray and DVD:
Top 20 Blu-Rays

Iron Man
There Will Be Blood
Dark City
Batman Begins
L.A. Confidential
Blade Runner
Nightmare Before Christmas
Mad Men - Season 1
Incredible Hulk
2001 - A Space Odyssey
Batman Begins
Sleeping Beauty
Speed Racer
Clockwork Orange
The Shining

Top 20 DVDs

Mad Men - Season 1
Joy Division
Flight of the Conchords - Season 1
Le Ballon rouge
Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma
Spaced - The Complete Series
Joe Stummer - The Future Is Unwritten
I Got the Feelin' - James Brown in the '60s
Love - Love Story
Yo Gabba Gabba - Dancey Dance Bunch
Ladies & Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains
Dexter - Season 2
Sigur Ros - Heima
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
Weeds - Season 3
City of God
Sex & the City - The Movie

Legendary Photographer Herman Leonard Visits Amoeba

Posted by Amoebite, December 9, 2008 05:08pm | Post a Comment

Herman Leonard Signing
Sunday December 14, 2008 - 4pm
Amoeba Hollywood

You may not know Herman Leonard's name, but you know his photographs. You know them intimately. Close your eyes, think of Jazz, and thank him.

With a camera as his backstage pass, Herman Leonard photographed the giants of jazz in their golden age, movie stars on set and on their travels to exotic places, the fashion world of Paris in the 1960s, and the inner sanctums of his beloved New Orleans.

His friendships with the jazz greats allowed him to vividly capture the magical moments of the Harlem and Paris jazz clubs in the 1940s and 50s, using his unique command of cinematic lighting to capture the essence of the time.

To Leonard, Dizzy Gillespie was a "monument to jazz . . . a pure soul." In Dizzy Gillespie, Royal Roost, NYC, 1948, Leonard aimed his camera diagonally, catching Gillespie in profile as he played his trumpet below an undulating, metallic ceiling.

"...I just loved the jazz and I would go to the clubs where I could see them." - Herman Leonard.

In the photograph Ella Fitzgerald with Duke Ellington and Benny Goodella fitzgeraldman Downbeat Club, NYC, 1949, the great lady of jazz sings to her adoring fans a few feet away. All look enchanted, but Duke Ellington, clasping his hands to his chin, is clearly the most enraptured.

New Oxford American Dictionary 2008 Word Of the Year

Posted by Whitmore, December 9, 2008 12:53pm | Post a Comment

Every year the New Oxford American Dictionary chooses the word of the year. Ladies and gentleman, your 2008 Word of the Year:
The word “Hypermiling” was coined by Wayne Gerdes in 2004; he runs the website “Hypermiling” or “to hypermile” is an attempt to maximize gas mileage by making adjustments to a car or driving habits by using more fuel-conserving techniques.
Hypermilers try to push their gas mileage to the extreme outer limits of the EPA ratings for miles per gallon. Most of the methods followed by hypermilers are pretty much just your common sense recommendations that’ll save you a few bucks on gas and car maintenance over the course of the year, such as: driving the speed limit, avoiding hills and stop-and-go traffic, maintaining proper tire pressure, not accelerating up to red lights and stop signs, not allowing your car to idle excessively, getting rid of excess cargo, parking so you don’t have to back out of a space. But typical of our American ethos and pushing anything sensible to the limits of reason, some hypermilering techniques may be a little oblique or even illegal, like rolling through stop signs or driving without shoes on -- the sensitivity of your foot on the gas pedal makes you more attentive, or 'ridge-riding' which is driving with your tires lined up with the white line at the edge of the road to avoid driving through water-filled ruts in the road when it’s raining or following close behind a larger vehicle so as to cut down on wind resistance, some call it drafting, others call it tail-gating. But here is an odd yet very true notion: if you want to get better gas mileage, listen to slower music. Fast paced music can make a driver more impatient, more aggressive and likely to put the pedal to the metal. Listening to slower paced music tends to reduce stress, is more relaxing and lends itself to safer driving. I’m not sure about the effect of talk radio on driving, I couldn’t find any data. Personally it makes me want to take public transportation or ride a bike… which I think is the best hypermiling idea anyway.
Meanwhile here are the runner ups for New Oxford American Dictionary 2008 Word of the Year:
frugalista – A person who leads a frugal lifestyle, but stays fashionable, hip and healthy by buying second-hand or swapping items such as produce, clothes or furniture and who might grow and maintain a garden, sew or cook at home and use a Flowbee to cut their own hair.
moofer – A mobile out of office worker who works away from a fixed workplace, via technology by using a laptop, Blackberry, etc., or a moofer is, as some have suggested, the 21st century equivalent of a slacker but with a better salary and health plan.
topless meeting -- A meeting in which the participants are barred from using their laptops, Blackberries, cellphones, or anything invented after 1977.
toxic debt -- Mainly sub-prime debts that are now burning down our banking system. They were parceled up and sent around the global financial system like toxic waste, hence the allusion, hence our economic oblivion.


Posted by Billyjam, December 9, 2008 12:52pm | Post a Comment

For this Dance of the Day, visibly schooled disco dancers Bobby and Cissy from the Lawrence Welk Show, sporting some extremely eye-catching and colorful matching outfits, shake their collective groove thang to a Welk orchestrated version of "Love Will Keep Us Together." Yowsah! Yowsah! Yowsah!

(In which Job reveals holiday party hints.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 9, 2008 11:25am | Post a Comment

"Ho ho ho! Who needs a pancreas?"

It’s only December 9, and already my body is exhausted from all the sugar and booze it’s ingested. I know, oh my readers, why Santa is a fat man. Santa, in fact, is probably suffering with diabetes. It would explain last year when, as he was trying to stuff the life-sized, life-like Annette Funicello robot I had asked for into my San Francisco 49ers stocking (a last-minute purchase at Target – it was either that or a Hannah Montana stocking that had a glue-gun scar); Santa was working his magic but, in-between “ho ho ho” he was mumbling about polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia in a manner not so jolly.

That last sentence was epic. Somewhere, the ghost of Proust just got a boner. Can I say boner on the Amoeblog? I’m not well.

My boyfriend, Corey, and I just hosted our annual Christmas party. I was in charge of the food. I went for a “dip” theme. That is, rather than merely offer chips & salsa or chips & guacamole, our dips included:

•    Pumpkin pie & fresh whipped cream dip, served with cinnamon/sugar pita chips
•    NY Cheesecake dip, served with thick graham crackers
•    Chocolate fudge dip, served with fresh & dried fruit
•    Peanut butter / mustard / honey dip, served with pretzels
•    Red wine dip, served with Pfeffernüsse

Our pal Kamran also contributed queso & tortilla chips, because some of the guests were Texan, and I guess their tradition demands queso at every gathering, otherwise they… secede or something.

I was also in charge of the music. For this, I created a playlist on my jazz-specific iPod and dumped a week’s worth of X-mas tunes. But, and here’s where I turn this into a piece of advice for those of you assembling such a list, I recommend you buffer all the Christmas records with some other music. I like a ratio of 50/50. This is to ensure that no one has to endure four versions of “Jingle Bells” in a row. If chosen well, the non-holiday music won’t impede on the feeling, but embellish it. I stuck to jazz – down-tempo be-bop, mostly – as I find it blends well with my Yuletide tunery. Examples:

Ben Webster

Lester Young

Another perfect addition to a holiday set-list is any recordings by the
Swingle Singers...

I was careful not to have any unChristmasy items contain lyrics. Nothing could be tackier than if, as your guests swagger mirthfully around the punchbowl or flirting beneath the mistletoe, than for Lady Day to start a macabre rendition of “Strange Fruit.” Beyond that, you’d be surprised how cozy a recording (sans lyrics) of the “Eulogy for Rudy Williams” can be, when accompanied by spiked egg nog and a stewardess under each arm.

I’m sorry. That was a ridiculous digression. Of course I meant to say flight attendants.

The next morning, Corey and I fell out of bed around noon and went immediately to fellow Amoebite Aaron’s party. They were serving pumpkin pancakes to guests on an ambitious scale. For a brief moment, I worried as to how I would be able to dip the pancakes without making a mess, but then my brain reminded me of the time before my party, when utensils like forks and spoons reigned supreme, and I relaxed.

That night was the Amoeba Holiday party. It grieves my heart that I didn’t attend – it was the first time I missed a major Amoeba event in over four years! But it was the 30th birthday of our dear friend Jenny. 29th or 31st birthday can be ignored – the big three-oh cannot. So, it was off to Manhattan Beach to celebrate.

Suddenly, a fire-breathing dragon flew down from the skies, scorching cars and toppling skyscrapers, as an army of robots marched across the cityscape!!!

Not really, but I suddenly worried that my blog was getting boring.

Is this how Mrs. Dalloway would have read if it was written in 2008?

Anyway, going back to the party food – I’ve learned that many people don’t know how to make whipped cream from scratch. For those of us who, like me, were raised in the Swiss Alps by a bunch of portly dessert chefs, this skill comes as naturally as braiding our golden locks or yodeling. The rest of you can learn by reading ahead…
Procure yourself some heavy whipping cream. You can find this at any grocery store, ideally in this refrigerated section. (In fact, if your local grocer doesn’t keep it in this section, I recommend shopping elsewhere.)

Size-wise, you’ll usually have two options: pint or quart. I suggest you go for the quart, because it’s much more common to not have enough delicious, fresh, whipped cream than the alternative. (Think about it – have you ever heard this sentence: “Oh no! Too much delicious, fresh, whipped cream!” …Exactly.)

Next, pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl. NOT a stainless steel bowl, however. Stainless steel is bad juju for whipping cream, for reasons I don’t know, perhaps because I spent high school science class hidden in the theatre lobby, drinking screwdrivers from my Thermos and reading Anne Rice novels.

Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream until, well, it becomes whipped cream. But BE CAREFUL – if you whip it too long, it suddenly becomes butter. Corey made that mistake once and, without realizing it, ate a bowlful of fresh, sweetened butter. He spent the next two weeks digesting it.

Once it’s whipped cream, mix in the sweetener of your choice. Mostly commonly, powdered sugar is used. (Don’t use granulated sugar, unless you want slightly crunchy whipped cream. PS – You don’t.) For myself, I think the finest sweetener for whipped cream is grade-B maple syrup.

I never measure the sweetener – just go by taste. Start with a little and keep adding until the flavor gives you a boner. Can I say that? I have a slight headache. Am I still writing?

The army of robots killed mercilessly, until they were conquered by my life-sized, life-like Annette Funicello robot. And that’s why we celebrate Christmas. Hosanna in Excelsis Deo.

Guests are usually delighted and impressed by homemade whipped cream. Unless it’s the portly dessert chefs that raised me. They tend to be overly critical. My robot will show them. Oh yes, dear readers, VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!!!

Merry Christmas!

Warlords Of The Twenty-First Century

Posted by phil blankenship, December 7, 2008 03:47pm | Post a Comment

Embassy Home Entertainment 4002


Posted by Billyjam, December 7, 2008 10:53am | Post a Comment

Former Sex Pistols front man Johnny "Rotten" Lydon's recent TV commercial in the UK for Country Life Butter has had a mixed response by fans of the man's music. Some laugh off the ad (above) which was unveiled in October as just a bit of fun and a way for the musician to make some needed funds. Others, including JAMsponge, who made the song/video "I Can't Believe Johnny Rotten Has Done an Advert for Butter" below, are outraged by the former poster boy for anarchy in the UK who they accuse of "selling out." 

The Gadget Laid Bare: Some Rambling Thoughts On Quantum of Solace (2008), Liberalism, Montage, Stalin's Aesthetics and A.I.

Posted by Charles Reece, December 6, 2008 07:26pm | Post a Comment

I'm not much of a James Bond fanatic; I can take him or leave him, and have tended towards the latter for the past 20 years of installments. I grew up on the Roger Moore version, but the problem with the franchise started there, only getting worse with each new Bond film. Too many gadgets and too many one-liners were used to cover the fact that Sean Connery had been replaced with a bunch of pantywaists (except George Lazenby, but his reign ended after one film). Not that there's anything wrong with wit, it's just that in an action film it should be backed with the assurance of brawn. That's why Christian Bale makes for a better Batman than Michael Keaton or George Clooney. No matter how editing might be able to slice and dice the action sequences, there's always going to be an aesthetic flaw in any machismo-centered film where the physiognomy and somatotype of the lead don't meet the iconic demands of the hero. (Just consider two recent examples: fresh-faced fratboy Matt Damon playing a badass in the Bourne Trilogy and pipsqueak Freddy Rodriguez as a renegade secret ops soldier in Planet Terror.)

After Connery, drollery and charm became tools to distract the audience from what the leads couldn't do rather than an assurance that Bond could be doing much worse. (Ian Fleming initially doubted the fit of Sean Connery, thinking him too brutish, but changed his mind after seeing the first film, and even changed the character in the novels to line up with the actor.) Unfortunately, 60s technology and budgets could never deliver the promise of action that Connery's physicality promised. His films were all foreplay. By the time production values could finally deliver, Bond no longer could.

With too many years of distractions, Bond's body finally caught up to the technology and budget in the form of Daniel Craig. He's the cyborg that the screen Bond has always needed. True, he's a tad too laconic, and could use a little more Cary Grant, but he conveys pain, both in receiving and delivering it, like no other Bond. The repressed emotions are there on the surface, in a much more detailed way than was the case even with Connery. You could say Craig's Bond is more likely than the previous Bonds to pass the Turing Test. That is, if he acts like a human, he effectively is. If his charm isn't up to Connery's level, that's largely due to the faulty input of his programmers, the humorless Paul Haggis among them.

Quantum of Solace's plot is a broken Rubik's Cube, where the politically minded liberal writers begin by drawing analogies to the Iraq War and oil, but end up with an environmentalist message in a Third World Chinatown. Evil mastermind Dominic Greene and his secret organization Quantum are backing an eminent coup by the would-be Bolivian dictator, General Medrano, in exchange for the rights to a seemingly barren stretch of land. Believing the property to be free of oil, the General is happy to sign it over. The CIA, represented by Agents Beam and Leiter (the latter of whom befriended Bond in Casino Royale), gets behind the coup, since a right-wing dictator is easier to deal with than the unspecified current regime (but I bet they're lefties). As Bond begins to gum up the works, he becomes a target of the CIA. Just like in real life politics (wink, wink), the British (represented by the MI6) don't want to offend their American counterpart, so Bond is ordered to desist. Not so much like in real life, Bond does whatever the hell he wants to do. As it turns out, Medrano is correct, the land has no oil, making the ideologically charged homage to Goldfinger -- where Bond girl Strawberry Fields gets shellacked with oil (replacing gold) -- something of a non sequitur. Instead of oil, what the land rights give to Quantum is control over Bolivia's water supply. I suppose the allegory here is saying beware of shadowy organizations taking over our natural resources. Since not-so-shadowy organizations already own all of the world's natural resources, this makes for a pretty weak moral lesson.

One can't really blame the screenwriters for trying to modernize the politics of this anachronistic symbol of fading British power during the Cold War. With all the 007 satires that now exist (the French OSS 117 being the latest example), setting the modern adaptations within the otiose ideological struggles of the 60s would have resulted in a parodic detachment of the audience. Bond's efficient coolness is here given psychological depth, developing it from what happened when he got too attached to one of his jobs. What I take issue with is trying to humanize the character's diegesis, which ironically fosters an old-fashioned conservative idea about heroism. Rather than having Bond serve the organization whose greasy machinations keep Britain functioning civilly on the surface (à la the really human realpolitik) -- where the fantasy might actually critique the naive notion of a liberal open society -- Quantum of Solace places him against the MI6. This plot contrivance winds up serving the fantasy of espionage as a struggle of the heroic will, an extension of the liberal myth. It's a myth in that ignores what's called the liberal dilemma:

Liberalism stands for respect for the individual. But to respect the individual is to respect who he is, and this is determined at least in part by his cultural background. Does respect for the person bring with it respect for that person’s cultural identification even when this is grossly illiberal, involving for example the denial of equal rights to women? Answers to this question fall between two extremes. On the one hand are those who staunchly maintain the Enlightenment tradition under which the proper treatment of human beings everywhere and always requires the upholding of a set of universal and generally uniform rights regardless of the claims of local politics and culture. At the other extreme are those who interpret respect for persons as involving respect for their religious or cultural beliefs and practices, even where these run counter to the traditional liberal concept of human rights. -- George Crowder

The film's evasion of this point recalls the "few bad apples" defense of egregious corporate behavior in the film The Corporation, where greed isn't a component of capitalism, but a supposed corruption of the system. Members of the counter-bureaucracy (you know, the bad bureaucracy) killed his girl, Vesper Lynd, in Casino Royale, so Bond is enacting his revenge, working outside the rules of the game, since MI6 won't fund a personalized mission (particularly against the CIA). But it's the question of rules that this liberalized version never comes to terms with. With so many fellow spies (Fields, Leiter, and utlimately M.) willing to help him out, Bond (or the audience) never really has to question his allegiance relative to the personal ethical code being transmitted through his baby blues. In the end, it's not the system in which Bond operates that demands an illiberal solution to liberal problems, but villains unfairly changing the way the game is supposed to be played, such as infilitrating the "good side" (i.e., the CIA and MI6). If Bond has to operate on the outside, it's only as a restoration of the rules. Despite the pretense of moral and political maturity, Quantum retains the simplistic good versus evil struggle of all the previous films. Fleming's fantasy remains intact: the end continues to justify the means, since the latter is shown to not really contradict the former.

The revenge motif turns out to be a MacGuffin, not only as a narrative impetus for Bond's being where he needs to be in order to get the actual story going, but as an emotional facade for the instrumentalist worldview the Bond series is selling. If at one time Bond's leisurely exploits (e.g., the domination of exotic locales and exotic women) created a fantasy around the commodified agent (is that an oxymoron?), they clearly began to take a back seat to increasing use of technology (often in the form of special effects or product placement) to create desire on the part of the audience. As a sign of the times, Bond has finally completed the cultural narrative arc, from man as homo faber (tool maker) to homo ludens (leisure) to homo instrumentum (tool). And it's in depicting Bond as a tool, an efficient means of death, that the new movie really excels. He no longer needs gadgets, he is the gadget, a game piece being moved around the board, which director Marc Forster and cinematographer Roberto Schaefer convey through the action sequences. The viewer knows that Bond is always going to survive, so any joy to be had is in watching the gears move. The best example takes place on the scaffolds of a construction site where Bond is fighting a counter-agent using ropes and pulleys. Like the Rube Goldberg-inspired game, Mouse Trap, it's fun just watching the ball roll around -- who cares about the rules, or the plot?

I share many critics' disdain for the cheese-grating montage deployed in 90s action films, as well as the more recent Bourne Trilogy, but rapid editing can be used to good effect, even bordering on phenomological description. For instance, Solace's opening chase sequence along an Italian mountainside through heavy traffic is constructed through fragments of objects making it an action film by way of Alain Robbe-Grillet. As Bond, racing along in his product placement, an A___ M ___, Craig is no more significant than the car being advertised (but no less, either). The scene is broken down into a series of acutely angled shots of a door, a side mirror, tire, the hand on the shifter, and those eyes -- all of which the mind interpolates as one gleaming gestalt. If Sergio Leone used the close-up to convey the face as a landscape, it here becomes a billboard for wish-fulfillment. Man, machine, product: is there any difference at this point? The film's stylistic use of Craig's body reveals far more than the script is willing. What's important here is the syntax, not the story. But, before I get to that point, I need to talk about the Russians (they had to come up somewhere).

Night Terror

Posted by phil blankenship, December 6, 2008 01:56pm | Post a Comment

Magnum Entertainment 3209


Posted by Billyjam, December 6, 2008 12:07pm | Post a Comment
paul mccartney amoeba instore
Thanks to Amoeba Marc for linking to the recent blog which noted that Paul McCartney got name checked twice on the Grammy announcements TV special on Wednesday night this week when the nominations for the 51st Annual Grammy Awards were announced. The former Beatle has been nominated for two Grammys for the tracks "I Saw Her Standing There" & "That Was Me" from his live record, Amoeba's Secret, which was recorded live at Amoeba Music Hollywood, last year. Click here to read full blog or here to see pics from that McCartney instore at the Hollywood location on June 27, 2007, and  click here to read about it in a past Amoeblog.


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 6, 2008 11:10am | Post a Comment

Another round of exposed toes for all of you Elmer Batters fans out there. ..

Tell Me That You Love Me

Posted by phil blankenship, December 5, 2008 03:27pm | Post a Comment

Lightning Video VA9038

Happy Repeal Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2008 02:23pm | Post a Comment
Today marks the anniversary of the 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition in the US. From 1920-1933, hooch went underground because a bunch of Christofacists wanted to legislate morality. Proving that the church and state have never been terribly separate, these teetotalers decided that, even though Jesus liked to turn water into wine, what's good enough for the Messiah isn't good enough for us. Hollywood used the opportunity to make a lot of movies which focused on moonshining, bootlegging, rum-running and speakeasies. So, crack open a cold one and consider watching one of these flicks.

Baby Face Morgan



Milk: "If a Bullet Should Enter My Brain, Let That Bullet Destroy Every Closet Door in the Country.”

Posted by Miss Ess, December 5, 2008 12:38pm | Post a Comment
This past weekend both Brad and I had the chance to see Milk in theaters. It opened nationwide this week. We wanted to share our post-film conversation here for you, and hopefully start more conversations about this film and its much loved and admired subject.

Miss Ess: Tell me about your movie-going experience seeing Milk! Where did you see the film? Was it a crowded screening? Did the audience react at all? What did you think of the film overall?

Brad: I am still recovering from this movie watching experience. Seeing movies in theaters is for sure one of my all time favorite things to do. I can't imagine my life without it -- and it is movies like this that continue my obsession. Every once in a while I worry that I have already seen all the great movies of my lifetime -- like I will never see a film again as good as the ones that I have already seen. And I had really high hopes for this film. Gus Van Sant is one of my favorite directors. My Own Private Idaho is probably one of my favorite films of all time. I am staring at the poster in my bedroom right now. I saw this movie when I was 17 and it had a really powerful impact on me. River Phoenix died two years later, so I have those two events forever tied together in my memory. The film became even more powerful and tragic because of his death. It is as if his character has died with the actual actor. Even though he made a couple of films after Idaho this is the film I will always remember him for. And of course Heath Ledger died a couple of years after he made Brokeback Mountain. It is too weird how similar his life and career was to River Phoenix. It is also sort of like James Dean and Rebel Without A Cause. Rebel was the My Own Private Idaho of its time. That is about as much of a gay story as you were going to get in 1955. It is sort of perfect that James Franco played James Dean in that James Dean movie and is now in the Milk movie. I just started thinking about this because of Milk too. Milk obviously ends with a real life tragedy and death. But hopefully Sean Penn will be around for many more decades to bring us many more fantastic films, both in acting and directing.

There is just a lot of death and tragedy mixed up with gay films. AIDS has a lot to do with it. But I sort of hate the fact that the two big gay films of the last couple of years, Brokeback Mountain and Milk, end with one of the main characters dying. One is of course based on a reality and the othe
r on a book. Part of me does love the tragedy. It is the goth kid still trapped in my body. Everyone likes to cry at a movie, and Milk is for sure the kind of movie that should even make people like Anita Bryant cry.

I saw Milk at the Arclight. James Bond was still in the cineramadome so it was just in the normal theater. It was the Sunday of its first weekend and most definitely sold out. The crowd had a lot of gays. We all knew this was our big moment -- the film that we had been waiting our whole life for. This was our Malcolm X, our Selena, our JFK, our La Bamba. Not every gay and lesbian may know everything about Harvey Milk. I have lived in California my whole life and San Francisco for 10 years, so I know quite a bit about him. You still feel his presence in the Castro. And every gay person owes him something. Our lives would not be the same without him. But I also loved that this film was an event for everybody. My straight friends were just as excited to see this movie. The fact that Gus Van Sant directed this film and it starred some big names really helped this movie I am sure. I cannot stop thinking about this movie since I saw it. I went to go get my lunch yesterday and the sandwich shop had this huge display of twinkies next to the salads and cheeses and things. I had never noticed it before and it made me giggle but also shed a couple tears. Sort of like how the movie made me feel. A mix of happiness and sadness.

Miss Ess: Wow. I have not been able to stop thinking about Harvey Milk either since I observed the film's premiere back in October, and I couldn't wait to see the movie. And I totally agree about how Harvey's presence is still felt in the Castro, and not just because there's a bar/restaurant named for him. As a straight gal living in the Castro, I have never felt so welcomed and so much friendly energy from anywhere else I have ever lived. In my experience, it really is a place where everyone can feel accepted as they are.

As far as the film goes-- way to go Gus Van Sant! I also thought it was well-done and I particularly enjoyed the bits of found footage from the actual era that were placed in the film. I also loved seeing my neighborhood on screen! At the Castro Theater where I saw it, the packed audience applauded several key moments and booed Anita Bryant's image. It was fun to look for cameos: I saw my old landlord herself, Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver, in the background in one of the scenes where Harvey is celebrating his win at Castro Camera, the real Cleve Jones during the "Hope Speech" scene, and of course I especially loved seeing our
Peaches Christ in one of the crowd scenes, looking fierce as always.

Brad: Yes, I am a big fan of combining real footage with acted scenes in film. I love documentaries and docudramas are probably my favorite genre of film. It is not always done right, but I am a big fan of JFK. Milk had way fewer conspiracy theories to deal with but it reminded me of that film a bit. Gus Van Sant just blew me away. The whole cast did. I am a huge fan of To Die For, Drugstore Cowboy, and of course Idaho, but have not been a huge fan of his films over the last decade or so. I did think Elephant was pretty amazing and understand he was just exploring other themes and styles but nothing has affected me like Idaho until now. But I always knew he had this film inside of him, and I think he knew that as well. The movie has taken like 10 or 15 years to finally come about. And I bet that Gus wanted to make this film ever since he first saw the Milk documentary [The Times of Harvey Milk] way back in 1985. I have not seen it in over 10 years, but am planning on watching it again this week. I wanted to wait until I saw Milk to watch it again. And yes it was great seeing Peaches in the film. It was absolutely great seeing San Francisco in this movie. Most of the reason I loved Zodiac was because it was all mostly shot in San Francisco. The set was the actual city of San Francisco. People who live there tend to forget, but San Francisco is one of the greatest places in the world. And it is just fantastic to see it through the eyes of Gus Van Sant. I love that they just shot down the Castro and turned back the clock and made it the 60's and 70's again.

Miss Ess: It was fun to see all those old cars lined up down Castro street when they were filming the movie last January. Yes, I have seen The Times of Harvey Milk, also about 10 years ago and it was and is so devastating. I just rewatched it before Thanksgiving. I was the opposite of you -- I wanted to see it before I saw Milk! I think it should be required viewing for everyone -- it's a very moving documentary. It might still be my favorite documentary of all time. It certainly is the one that has had the most reverberating impact on me.

As for Milk, I thought Sean Penn was as good as one could be at playing Harvey Milk. His voice was incredibly close to Harvey's, eerily so. It was very impressive. I was surprised by how fantastic Emile Hirsch was at playing Cleve Jones. I also thought James Franco was sexy and that he and Sean Penn had good chemistry. Oh, and Josh Brolin was solid as Dan White also. I loved that he had jelly beans on his desk at one point -- I
saw an interview with Brolin yesterday where he said he studied adolescents to get into character. What did you think about the performances, particularly Sean Penn's?

Brad: Sean Penn is just plain amazing. I knew he was going to be fantastic. My only complaint is that I actually think he played Harvey a little bit gayer than he actually was! I really only know what Harvey was like from the documentary. But his character just seemed a bit gayer -- which isn't really a complaint. I wish all characters in movies were a bit gayer! I love that they did not make this the depressing dark docudrama that it could have been. You couldn't avoid that completely, but they did manage to also give it a light hearted fun feel. Harvey Milk was a funny guy and Sean Penn captured that perfectly. But you have to give a lot of credit to the screenwriter as well. The movie could have been not nearly as good without that amazing script.

James Franco has been a favorite of mine for many years. Not only is he near perfect in his looks but he's also quite an amazing actor. He has also just been a bit lucky. Freaks and Geeks was just a fantastic show and his character was perfect -- even better than Jared Leto's Jordan Catalano. I love myself some My So Called Life as well. Can you imagine Jared Leto in the role of Harvey Milk's boyfriend? I don't think he could have pulled it off as well. James Franco made it look so easy. He didn't have any amazing scenes where he broke down and stole the movie, but he was just perfect I think. I loved Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild, one of my favorite films from last year, and I was really excited Emile and Sean would be working together again. Emile also played his character perfectly, and added some more necessary comic relief to the film. Josh Brolin also fantastic. It is not always easy to play that repress
ed conservatism. He did it perfectly. Dan White was most certainly the villain of the film, but Josh gave him that normal guy sort of feel, which I think made him even more frightening. But I think Matt Damon would have also been fantastic in this role. [Damon initially had the role but had to drop out of the film.] Just go and watch Talented Mr. Ripley again if you doubt me. I even loved Diego Luna. His character was terribly annoying but I thought he played it perfectly. I also love Joseph Cross, who played Dick Pabich. He was in one of my other favorite movies that everyone else seemed to hate, Running with Scissors. I also loved that they focused on Anita Bryant so much. She was actually the real villain of the movie. I sort of wished that they had gotten an actress to play her. I would have loved to see Parker Posey in this role. But Anita Bryant was almost too perfect playing her own role. How can you get better than that? I kind of think that she is what created people like Dan White. It was the fear and hatred of people like her that create the fear and hatred in normal sort of people.

Miss Ess: You're kind of right about James Franco's Daniel DeSario in Freaks and Geeks being better than Jordan Catalano -- for me, it's too tough to say which was better as a character, but Jared Leto most certainly could not have played Scott Smith with the understated grace Franco brought to the role. His performance was one of the best in the movie for sure. And definitely easy on the eyes, yes! I would have liked to have seen Matt Damon in the movie as well, but I did think Josh Brolin did an able job. Your Parker Posey suggestion is just perfect!!

I was really pleased by the attention to detail and throughout the film kept thinking how amazing the story is -- and it's all true! The tapes made in advance of Harvey's death, the phone call from the suicidal wheelchair bound kid, the signage outside Castro Camera, the fact that he could see the beloved Opera House from his office window -- I thought they really did a great job capturing the moment for the most part. Were there any details you particularly enjoyed?

Brad: I loved how they started the film with him making his tapes and then kept going back to it. Just like the Joy Division docudrama Control, we all knew how the film was going to end, so they were not giving anything away. I still got all choked up when they played that Dianne Feinstein clip of her talking about the shooting. I love that Harvey was telling his own stories. I love films with narration or internal monologue narrations, just like My So Called Life. It was great to hear what he actually thought about what was going on the whole time.

Miss Ess: I totally agree -- I am all about internal monologues in films/tv. San Francisco has changed so much since the time of Harvey Milk. Nowadays, very few can afford to buy or rent a shop or business, let alone run for office at the same time! It's wonderful to see the 70s heyday of the Castro, but I couldn't help but feel somewhat depressed at the economic limitations of our city today. People flock to the Castro from everywhere, yet very few can afford to rent, let alone own a home in the area. What do you think about the changes in the city and the Castro itself since Milk's time? Wonder what Harvey Milk would have to say about it all.

Brad: It is sort of crazy how things change so quickly. It would have been great to see how things might have been different without Dan White. What if Harvey would have supported White's bill that he was working on for his neighborhood [regarding an asylum to be built in the Excelsior]? That one scene really tore me apart, when you can see Dan White getting so mad and he slams his hand down on the table after Harvey tells him he doesn't want to support his bill. Was that the turning point for Dan White? Is that when he decided he had to kill the mayor and Harvey? I always wonder about stuff like that. Was Dan White just a repressed homosexual? Could Harvey have avoided the situation by just taking Dan White out to a gay bar? Should he have sent Cleve Jones on a date with him? Just as the world would have been different if JFK and Martin Luther King had not been assassinated, the Castro would have been different with Harvey Milk as the Mayor of Castro Steet in the 80s and 90s. I love how he basically shut down homophobic businesses by getting gays to not shop there. I really also think Prop 8 would not have passed with Harvey around.

Miss Ess: Yes, I think you are right about that. Harvey's power to bring people together is unsurpassed. I do think that Dan White was probably clinically bipolar and also that he really saw the world in black and white. He could not handle the fact that the city was changing, so he tried to stop it from changing, but I do think he also felt personally betrayed by Harvey. He could not understand it when people did not side with him. There are so many ways that the story could have gone and it is so tragic that it went the way it did. There are so many split second things that could have changed everything -- Dan White had also targeted Carol Ruth Silver and WIllie Brown, but they happened to not be around at the moment of the murders, and they are both still alive today. Harvey was supposed to go to the bank at the time of the murder but was held up by making a phone call -- he might not have been in his office at that moment either. It's torturous to think about.

And yes, one of the things that really struck me about watching this film was its relevance today, especially with its message of hope (similar to Barack Obama's) and with the passage of Prop 8. I was saddened when I thought about the fact that no one seems to have picked up Harvey's torch in such a vocal, center of the spotlight way. Why do you think there are no Harvey Milks at this time? Is it because of the fragmented nature of politics and the world today?

Brad: Clearly we need another Harvey Milk. And I know he or she is out there somewhere. I just watched the Charlie Rose interview with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Gus Van Sant. They were talking about how Harvey died right before the AIDS epedemic exploded. They mentioned that Ronald Reagan might have actually done something about AIDS or at least mentioned that it existed with a little bit of pressure from Harvey Milk. I think this movie teaches us that one person can make a difference. We all need to be a bit more political if we want things to change. With the economy as it is right now we really can speak with our dollars. We should not support any businesses that supported Prop 8. We shouldn't eat at their restaurants or drink their soda or beer. Each person's simple action can create a whole movement, just like we can gradually change the kind of cars that are made by no longer buying SUVS and demanding  Hybrids or electric cars, or by not buying eggs unless they are from cage free chickens. There are a whole lot of gays in this country, and thankfully a whole bunch more supporters of the gays then there were 30 years ago. We can't let a group of people that feel like their religion has anything to do with us decide that we can't get married. It is just ridiculous.

Miss Ess: I think that is the most powerful message of the movie, that one person can most definitely make a difference. People seem to be so cynical and so sluggish. Harvey was neither of those things and he made a great impact. I am deeply inspired by Harvey Milk's conviction, commitment and his willingness to give his own life for his cause, human rights. We touched on this a bit already, but if Harvey Milk were alive, what do you think he would be doing now? What do you think his legacy is?

Brad: I guess I just sort of answered that one. I sure do wish he was alive all these years. He would have made it a whole lot easier for us. But his legacy is felt every day. 30 years ago you would never see a gay person on television. You would never be able to come out at your office or even in your neighborhood. Kids are now able to come out in High School or even Junior High. We still have a long way to go, but people like Harvey Milk and people like Sean Penn and Gus Van Sant making movies like this are making a difference. Think of how different peoples' lives would have been had they seen a movie like this about a person like Harvey Milk 50 years ago! Think of all the lives that could have been saved. It breaks my heart to think about all the kids that have killed themselves over their sexual identity and how many people have killed other gays because of their own gay issues. But we are getting better. It is happening pretty quickly even if it feels like a lifetime for some. I think more and more people will come out of the closet in Hollywood and in every day life. More and more people will realize that their brother or sister or aunt or uncle or teacher or doctor or neighbor is gay. Gays are not just florists and hairstylists anymore. We are everywhere.

Miss Ess: I think that was Harvey's most potant message. Since you and I are such Oscar-philes, what do you think about Milk's chances at any Oscars? What do you think it will potentially be nominated for? I'm hoping for Best Actor, Sean Penn; Best Director, Gus Van Sant; Best Picture; maybe Best Supporting Actor, James Franco; Best Editing...

Brad: I can barely believe it is almost time for the Oscars again. This is always the best time for films. The Independent Spirit Award nominations were just announced a couple of days ago, and MIlk is of course nominated for nearly everything. I think it was fantastic that Brokeback Mountain was nominated for so many things a couple of years ago. It really opened the doors for movies like Milk, but there is still a surprising amount of homophobia in Hollywood. I hate to say it. But luckily a lot of those older voters are slowly disappearing and being replaced by younger more progressive members. You need to go watch Celluloid Closet right now if you have not seen it. Hollywood has really come a long way. I loved Brokeback Mountain and think Ang Lee most certainly deserved his Best Director Oscar, but Milk really is a much better film. It will most certainly get nominated for Best Picture and Director and will hopefully walk away with both of those Oscars. I just don't think anything can beat it. Dustin Black most certainly deserves an Oscar for his screenplay and Danny Elfman for his score. It has the possibility of pulling of a Last Emperor type sweep of the Oscars. It will be weird that James Franco will probably be up against Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor. I would love to see Alison Pill nominated for Best Supporting Actress and nominations could also easily go to Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin. It should also get nominated for Best Costumes, Editing, and Cinematography and Art Direction. Brokeback walked away with Oscars for directing, screenplay, and score. I think Milk might win at least 6 Oscars, but will be nominated for at least 10. It still can't believe it took 3 years for a big time gay movie to come out after Brokeback Mountain. Maybe the disappointment of Crash winning the Oscar took gay cinema back a couple of years. I really hope that there will be some more mainstream gay movies in the coming years. I just can't wait to hear Sean Penn's acceptance speech. I am crying already just thinking about it.

Miss Ess: Sean never goes to the Oscars though, even when he won for Mystic River, which I think is a shame this year in particular because I think he should go to honor this film and its importance. Maybe he will. Either way, you and I will probably be bawling through the whole show if Milk is well represented! Penn will most certainly be nominated. I thought Crash absolutely robbed Brokeback Mountain -- that was a shock and I think it did prove that Hollywood is still homophobic and also plays favorites (since Crash starred so many well-connected people) because Brokeback was everything a best picture should be. I am worried that Milk will get the accolades because it is about a central figure in the gay community and then it will be a long time before we see another mainstream gay film. I hope that is not the case. Why was Milk not nominated for Best Feature for the Spirit Awards?! Not a good sign for the Oscars. Ah, Celluloid Closet, another great documentary! Yes, that is recommended viewing. If anyone wants to learn much more about Harvey Milk I also recommend reading The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts, which is a biography of not only Harvey but also the gay movement in the United States. I bet Harvey would be so thrilled to go to the Oscars! I wish he was here to enjoy this moment...we will have to settle for him being here in spirit.


Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2008 10:07am | Post a Comment
Last year I posted an entry about St. Nicholas and the rather unsavory company he keeps. Child murderers, demons and hags (oh my). Well, the Krampus proved very popular, earning me another nickname that has stuck around throughout the year.

The Krampus is a demon that, with the approval of kindly St. Nick, terrorizes bad children and apparently lusts after the ladies. His chief implements of torture seem to be a switch and a tongue which would embarass Gene Simmons. This is designed to frighten children into behaving well. Germanic peoples have always understood that the best way to rear children is by keeping them terrified of the consequences of bad behavior. My mother used to get on the phone to call "The Nanny," a character who rammed food down the throats of ungrateful children with her thorny stick. I credit my continued membership in the Clean Plate Club to these threats.

If you've never read Der Struwwelpeter then you don't know what you're missing. It's a childrens book which uses stories and wonderful illustrations to suggest that misbehavior is likely to end in disaster and even death. It's a wonderful tool.

So, enjoy these Krampuses, have a happy St. Nicholas Day and behave or die!

First Krampus scours the globe. With many means of travel available, hiding is futile.

These unsuspecting children have got the game twisted. Krampus is no joke!

Krampus will hear your prayers.             "I can't hear you!"                 St. Nick says, "Let's do this."

First he enslaves you, then he licks you, tosses you in a basket and... ultimately murders you.

Krampus has only one weakness!

real Krampus with bad children


Posted by Billyjam, December 5, 2008 08:09am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music San Francisco Hip-Hop Top Five: 12-05-08

1) E40 The Ball Street Journal (Sic Wid It/Warner)

2) San Quinn From A Boy To A Man (SMC/Fontana)

3) Bored Stiff The Sad Truth (SolidarityRecords)

4) Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella Records)

5) Ludacris Theater of the Mind (Disturbing tha Peace/Def Jam)

Thanks to Luis at the San Francisco Amoeba Music store for this week's Hip-Hop Top Five chart. Three of these five best sellers are homegrown Bay Area rap talent, including E40's anticipated The Ball Street Journal which, according to Luis, has been "selling well since it was bored stiff the sad truthreleased last Tuesday." The other two Bay Area new chart entries are from longtime San Francisco hip-hop acts: the Fillmore's San Quinn, whose latest From A Boy To A Man is selling especially well at the SF Amoeba, and Bored Stiff, whose The Sad Truth features many guests joining the multi-member crew including The Grouch and The Jacka of the Mob Figaz. Check the video interview below with Bored Stiff to learn more about this slept-on longtime local act. 

Regarding the other two new chart entries Luis says he is feeling one more than the other although, he stressed, each are "good in their own right." What does he think of Kanye West's new album 808s & Heartbreak which many, myself included, have been disappointed in? "Yes, it is hard to listen to as a whole, but if you play certain tracks individually you can see why many people are liking it and buying it. It ludacris theater of the minddeserves checking out," insisted Luis. And to his credit Kanye West deserves praise for always trying something new, as well as always sticking to his beliefs. Even if I am not always a fan of the man's music I will forever give him props for his brave outspoken post Hurricane Katrina "George Bush doesn't care about black people" statement.

Paul Benedict (Jeffersons/Spinal Tap) R.I.P.

Posted by Billyjam, December 5, 2008 08:08am | Post a Comment
paul benedict
As reported in the Obitiuaries section of this morning's LA Times, the actor Paul Benedict was found dead at his home on Martha's Vineyard. Benedict was best known to most as the actor who played the eccentric English neighbor Harry Bentley on the televiison sitcom The Jeffersons but he was also known for his small role in the movie This Is Spinal Tap as the "twisted old fruit" hotel desk clerk. See clip below. 

Unlike the neighbor character he played in the TV series, the actor  was not English. Benedict was 70 years of age. The cause of his death is still under investigation according to his brother, reports the LA Times.

M/R/X is back

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 4, 2008 10:35pm | Post a Comment

                         M/R/X is happening this Saturday nite...Mark Lane will be performing...
                         Veronica from East Village Radio & Minimal Wave Records will be DJing...

out this week 11/18 & 11/24...beyonce...the killers...belle & sebastian...

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 4, 2008 10:33pm | Post a Comment

I don't really know what happened to November, but all of a sudden I woke up and it was Thanksgiving and now it is December. I sincerely apologize for not updating this blog in the last couple of weeks. I had that cold that everyone seemed to get and there really has not been a whole lot out in the last few weeks of November. So I am combining a couple of street dates of new releases here. Way back on 11/18 we had that big R & B album that I know you were waiting for by Beyonce. Well, I know I was waiting for it. Destiny's Child and Beyonce have always been one of my guilty pleasures that I don't really feel that guilty about. I still don't think

that solo Beyonce has topped the brilliance that was Destiny's Child, but she has put out some good songs over the years. It really was the Saturday Night Live skit a couple of weeks ago that made me fall in love with the new album. They spoofed a video shoot for the single "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." The new album is called I Am..Sasha Fierce. She made the album a double album even though it really is the length of a normal album. She just wanted one side of the CD the be the slow ballady album and the other the dancey Beyonce album. It is her idea of a concept album. Most people probably like to go out dancing to Beyonce or maybe drive around in their car. I just really like to do the dishes and fold the laundry to Beyonce. It works for me.

Beyonce I Am...Sasha Fierce BUY NOW

Also out this week was a BBC Sessions album from the fantastic band Belle & Sebastian. We may have to wait a bit more for a new album from them, but this at least will help us to get through the end of the year. There is a 2CD deluxe version of the album and a single disc version. The first disc is BBC Sessions from 1996-2001. This is my favorite period for the band so I was excited to hear these never heard before sessions. I don't think I saw them live until 2002 or so, so this was a period in their career that I had never really head live before. I think they played in here maybe once during the 90s. The recordings sound fantastic. The second CD on the limited edition version is an entire live show from Belfast recorded in 2001. It contains four songs that you have probably never heard before. Here is the track listing of the 2 CDs.

disc one...
1 The State I Am In
2 Like Dylan in the Movies
3 Judy and the Dream of Horses
4 The Stars of Track and Field
5 I Could Be Dreaming
6 Seymour Stein
7 Lazy Jane
8 Sleep the Clock Around
9 Slow Graffiti
10 Wrong Love
11 Shoot the Sexual Athlete
12 The Magic of a Kind Word
13 Nothing in the Silence
14 (My Girl's Got) Miraculous Technique

bonus disc two...
1 Here Comes the Sun
2 There's Too Much Love
3 The Magic of a Kind Word
4 Me and the Major
5 Wandering Alone
6 The Model
7 I'm Waiting for the Man
8 The Boy with the Arab Strap
9 The Wrong Girl
10 Dirty Dream #2
11 The Boys Are Back in Town
12 Legal Man

These songs all bring back fond memories for me. I really did love this band. I still do, but these were the songs that made me fall in love with them. And it is so very exciting to hear them in a new way that I had never heard before. It is like a little piece of history that has been hidden for 8 to 12 years and is now finally unearthed.

I am finally able to link up my reviews to the buy stuff portion of Changes are happening, so get yourself ready. I highly recommend this Belle & Sebastian CD for anybody who has ever loved Belle & Sebastian. You need to own this album if you call yourself a Belle & Sebastian fan. The deluxe version will be gone soon if you want to pick that one up.

Belle & Sebastian BBC Sessions

Belle & Sebastian BBC Sessions 2CD BUY NOW

  Last week's new releases were all pushed up a day to a Monday street date. The big releases were Kanye West and The Killers. So Instead of Kanye West vs. 50 Cent, which is what happened last year, it was The Killers vs. Kanye West. I personally love this new Killers album and still have not decided how I feel about the new Kanye album. However, the Kanye album for sure sold more copies. Also out this week were the soundtrack/scores to two of my favorite films of the year. The soundtracks are great but the films are really amazing. Both Synecdoche New York and Milk came out this week. I really did love Synecdoche New York. The film is not for everybody, but it had a really intense effect on me and I am still recovering. I was just getting back to normal and then went and saw Milk, which was even better than I expected. I just did a little conversational kind of blog with Miss Ess, so check out her blog to read all about that. Coldplay also had a new EP of songs out and a new 2CD version of the album that includes the EP. There was also a great K7 compilation form The Rapture simply called Tapes.

I have never been ashamed of my love of The Killers. I loved that first album more than most albums that came out in 2004. I ended up liking the second album but there was not much love involved so I wasn't expecting to love this third album, but much like the new Bloc Party, I do love it. It has quickly become one of my favorites of the year. The Killers are much like the 80s new wave pop albums that I had fallen in love with two decades before. They are the Duran Duran of today. Maybe if Duran Duran were from Las Vegas and were born 20 years later this is exactly what they would sound like. I was not really loving the new single when I first heard it, but "Human" has grown on me. The songs that I can't get enough of are "Joyride" and "This Is Your Life." Like the Bloc Party, if you were not a fan of The Killers before, I doubt that you will become one after this album but they made a fantastic album for their fans. It more than makes up for any disappointment that you may have had with their second album, Sam's Town. I will be revisting that album soon though. It is what I recommend doing for that second Bloc Party album, Weekend in the City. You may have thought you didn't like it back when it came out, but you should revisit it because it really is still one of my favorite albums. This album is really all that I have been listening to the last two weeks. You can buy the CD on the Amoeba site right now for only $10.98. I highly recommend that you do so. It is easily one of the best of the year...if you like that kind of thing.

The Killers Day & Age

Another album that has been competing for my time lately is Hurricane by Grace Jones. It has been almost 20 years since Grace Jones has had an official album out. She recorded a couple of albums in the 90's but they were never released. I am so happy that she was finally put out another album! I have been a long time fan of Grace Jones and believe her to be one of the most amazing personalities. Seriously. Is there anybody that can compare to Grace Jones? I wasn't really around to appreiciate her disco period and first actually became a fan because of seeing her in movies. How can you not love her character Zula in Conan the Destroyer. A View To A Kill is not most people's favorite Bond Movie but it remains one of my favorites simply because of her performance as May Day. I was, after all, born on May Day. Simply amazing.  Vamp and Boomerang are also essential movies in the Grace Jones catalog. But I have always loved her singles and albums from the 80s as well. This was obviously her most prolific and popular period. I never really thought that there would be another Grace Jones album worth listening to after the 80's. But I was wrong.

You may not be expecting much from this album but it will really suprise you. This is not some sadattempt to resurrect an icon -- this is the real deal, a fantastic album that should put anyone to shame who has ever doubted that Grace Jones could make another great album. You really just have to listen to it to believe it. Go here to check it out. The album is worth it alone for the fantastic photo shoot she did for the artwork. I really can't recommend this album enough. I assume it will come out domesticly early next year. It is still just an import. I imagine it will be on quite a few "best of 2008" lists though. It will most definitely be near the top of mine. This Grace Jones album will also make quite a nice Christmas or Hanukkah present. Who wouldn't want a Grace Jones album as a present!? I think I might just give this album to myself again as a Christmas present. I have not seen any vinyl available for this yet but you can bet that we will be carrying it over at Amoeba as soon as we can.

There is really nothing out this week worth me talking about. If you like yourself some Britney Spears than you might be interested in a new album called Circus. I am sure you have heard about it. Not a whole lot else out this week. It is time to go back and get those albums that you missed from earlier this year.

Grace Jones Hurricane BUY NOW

also out 11/18...

isobel campbell mark lanegan

Sunday at Devil Dirt by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan

Ladyhawke by Ladyhawke

love is all

A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night by Love Is All

Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust Deluxe Box by Sigur Ros

also out 11/24...

Synecdoche New York Soundtrack

kanye west 808

808's & Heartbreak by Kanye West

Prospekt's March EP by Coldplay

rapture tapes

Tapes by The Rapture

Milk Soundtrack

Perfect as Cats: A Tribute to The Cure


Posted by phil blankenship, December 4, 2008 03:19pm | Post a Comment

New World Video 9551


Posted by Billyjam, December 4, 2008 09:21am | Post a Comment

"I'm not feeling that music," are words that you probably won't hear uttered by Japan's experimental sound artist Daito Manabe in reference to the music he composed and is literally feeling in his ongoing electric stimulus to the face project. Above is part three, posted on YouTube, in the intriguing series by the Tokyo based artist/designer/programmer who programmed and composed with support on the stimulus device from Masaki Teruoka and Katsuhiko Harada and from Taeji Sawai with some of the sound. Click here to see videos of Daito's other interactive body/music stimulus experiments, including his cool electric sensor which is similar to what some other artists, including Amsterdam based sound artist EboMan, were doing several years back.


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, December 4, 2008 09:20am | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, December 4, 2008 07:55am | Post a Comment

(aka Erick and Parrish Making Dollars), comprised of Erick Sermon & Parrish Smith, will forever remain one of the all time classic hip-hop acts. As proof, here are six music videos of some of the duo's best tracks from back in the day. From the years 1988 - 1992 these include the songs "Crossover," "The Big Payback," "So What Cha Sayin," "You Gots To Chill," the posse track "Head Banger" feat. Redman, K-Solo, and Das EFX,  "Strictly Business" -- culled from the duo's (always "business" themed) albums Strictly Business, Unfinished Business, and Business Never Personal.  Look for EPMD's music on vinyl and CD at Amoeba Music and next week (Dec 9th) check for their brand new album We Mean Business which will feature guest shots from Redman, Keith Murray, Method Man, KRS-One, Raekwon, Havoc, and others.

EPMD "Crossover" (1992)

EPMD "The BIg Payback" (1989)

EPMD "You Gots To Chill" (1988)

EPMD "So What Cha Sayin" (1989)

EPMD "Strictly Business" (1988)

Jorn Utzon 1918 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 3, 2008 06:09pm | Post a Comment

The architect who designed one of the world’s most recognizable buildings, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, yet never saw the completed project, Jorn Utzon, died of heart failure in his sleep in Copenhagen this last week. He was 90.
Born April 9, 1918 in Aalborg, Denmark, Jorn Utzon studied architecture at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. After establishing his own practice in Copenhagen in 1950, he entered the 1956 international architecture competition to design the new Sydney Opera House. He spent six months designing the unique sail-like roofs, his nautical design is said to have been inspired by sections of an orange. Utzon triumphed over 232 other entries; he was just 38 years age and hardly known outside his native country. For the next five years he worked on the project from his office in Denmark until he moved his family to Sydney to oversee construction in 1962.
It would be Utzon’s greatest design, on which most of his architectural reputation is based. It is also Australia’s most famous landmark and one of the most celebrated, influential and iconic buildings of the 20th century.
The Opera House is surrounded on three sides by the waters of Sydney Harbour at Benelong Point. The five performance halls are housed under ten reinforced concrete shells, dressed in white tiles. The sail-like shells and the upturned ships’ hulls rise 60 meters high above a four-and-a-half-acre concrete and granite platform which was inspired by the ceremonial steps of Monte Alban in Mexico.
However in 1966, seven years before completion, controversy erupted. Utzon resigned and packed up his family, leaving Australia never to return. With only the shell of the Opera House done, Utzon found himself in the middle of a power struggle and at odds with local politicians, specifically Davis Hughes, the New South Wales minister for public works who criticized the cost overruns and delays. At a price tag of more than $100 million Australian dollars, the original project was budgeted at ridiculously low estimate of $7 million. After Utzon’s resignation, the Opera House was completed by Government appointed architects who finished the interiors by drastically changing the original layouts to the five theaters.
In recent years Australia had tried reconciling with Jorn Utzon. In 2002, he was commissioned to update the interior renovations, in an attempt to alleviate the acoustic problems and bring the building closer to its original vision. In 2003, Mr. Utzon received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney. And in October of 2004 the Utzon Room, overlooking Sydney Harbor, was officially dedicated.
In 2003 Utzon won what is considered architecture’s highest honor, The Pritzker. Frank Gehry, one of the jurors, said Jorn Utzon “… made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinary malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.”
After leaving Australia, Utzon worked in Switzerland and Spain before settling in Majorca in the mid-1970s, where he would live and work for the rest of his life. Besides designing the Sydney Opera House, he designed the Bagsværd Church in Denmark (1968-76), the National Assembly of Kuwait, completed in 1983 and rebuilt in 1993, many private residences, and his own home in Majorca.
Jorn Utzon is survived by his wife of 66 years, Lis Fenger, three children, Jan, Kim, and Lin, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Saul Bass' PHASE IV Saturday Midnight At The New Beverly

Posted by phil blankenship, December 3, 2008 11:06am | 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 December 6


Phase IV(1974)

dir. Saul Bass
starring Michael Murphy, Nigel Davenport & Lynne Frederick
Paramount Archive 35mm Print!

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


YouTube Symphony Orchestra takes it to next level

Posted by Billyjam, December 3, 2008 09:45am | Post a Comment


How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. But after first downloading music (by Tan Dun) and then uploading a video of you performing said piece of music. Hot on the heels of the recent big YouTube Live event out of San Francisco, the San Bruno based video sharing website continue in their bid for worldwide web domination with their next exciting project: the first-ever collaborative online orchestra that you (if you make music) can be a part of. The project is a collaborative effort by YouTube with the London Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, director of the San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, composer Tan Dun, and pianist Lang Lang (now known as "The first YouTube Symphony Orchestra Ambassador").

This unique project, which began accepting applicants two days ago and will continue for the next eight weeks, is open to all: both amatuer and professional musicians who play any instrument, of all ages and in all locations are encouraged to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by submitting a video performance of a new piece written for the occasion by the renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Offered online via YouTube are tools to help learn the music, rehearse with the conductor and upload appliants part for the collaborative video.

Finalists will be chosen by a judging panel and YouTube users to travel to New York in April 2009, to participate in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra summit, and play at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. The deadline for all video submissions is January 28, 2009. Official details here.

Frank Cieciorka 1939 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 2, 2008 03:33pm | Post a Comment

Just over a week ago graphic artist, art director, watercolorist and political activist, Frank Cieciorka died at his home in Alderpoint, Calif. at the age of 69. The cause of death was emphysema. Since the early 1980s he has gained recognition for his watercolors of Humboldt County landscapes, but it’s his 1960’s woodcut rendering of a clenched-fist that will secure him an indelible place in history.
Born in Johnson City in upstate New York in1939, Cieciorka moved westward to attend San José State College in 1957 to study art. After graduation in 1964 he became a volunteer in Freedom Summer, the civil rights campaign initiated to help African Americans register to vote in Mississippi, the same campaign and summer that saw the Ku Klux Klan kidnap and murder three Freedom Summer volunteers -- James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Cieciorka would become a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which organized the campaign.
In 1965 Cieciorka returned to San Francisco and created a woodcut print inspired by his experiences in Mississippi; his image, simply entitled Hand, was initially printed as a poster and flyer for the 1967 Stop the Draft Week. The image quickly struck a chord with the civil rights and anti-war movements of the day; shortly thereafter the Students for a Democratic Society incorporated the image as their logo.
In 1966 Cieciorka also created an image of a black panther for the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, which was started by SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael to challenge the segregationist party in Mississippi. When Huey Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party in Oakland, they received permission from the SNCC to use the panther image, artist Emory Douglas re-designed a bolder, more streamlined image for the Black Panther’s publications.
Cieciorka would go on to create posters for labor movements, including the United Farm Workers and for many radical and underground magazines including Paul Krassner's The Realist.
Frank Cieciorka is survived by his wife, Karen Horn, his stepdaughter, Zena Goldman Hunt and his brother, James Cieciorka.


Shallow Grave

Posted by phil blankenship, December 2, 2008 03:05pm | Post a Comment

Prism Entertainment 2459

(In which we consider Léon Theremin.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 2, 2008 12:04pm | Post a Comment
The other day, a customer at Amoeba Music stopped me and asked:

“Do you have the correct time?”

Long after I told him what time it was, I still pondered his specification of  the type of time he wanted. That adjective, correct. What had transpired in his days of life that he should deem it wise to emphasize that he didn’t want just any time quoted to him; he didn’t want me to make up a time (“Oh, it’s a quarter after eight billion o’clock”); he also didn’t want to fall trap to any inaccurate time, as perhaps others who’d come before me had given him. No, he wanted the correct time.

And while I would have – on this I vow – I would have given him the correct time regardless of whether or not he had made certain to choose that sort of information, I feel that, by both catering to his need and also not remarking on why I thought it odd he should make lengths to get only “correct” time, I have somehow contributed to his neurosis that, unless he asks for correct time, alternate times may well be offered.

What does any of this have to do with theremins? Very little, and for that, I apologize.

So, without further ado, please enjoy the following clip:

The woman is the above clip is the splendiferous Clara Rockmore, widely regarded as the finest theremin player of all time. A pupil of the instrument’s inventor, Léon Theremin, she remained a stalwart champion of the man even after he suddenly and mysteriously disappeared behind the Iron Curtain in 1938.

For those of you unfamiliar with the theremin, here’s a brief overview:

Léon Theremin invented the (coincidentally named) theremin in 1919 quite by accident, when his desire for a contraption that would allow him to make fresh, hot toast went awry. After many messy and frustrating nights were spent cleaning bread crumbs and margarine out of his workshop, he finally adhered to his pet chimp’s advice to market the failed toaster as an electronic instrument.

Léon Theremin, anticipating how high the slice of sourdough will pop-up.

Complications arose because the Soviets had a strict ordinance against any music that could eventually be used as incidental tracks for sci-fi motion pictures. (Lenin himself lived in fear of The Day the Earth Stood Still, a movie that, though it wouldn’t be filmed for another 32 years, still gave him nightmares so bad he’d have to be lifted from his underwater sleeping lair and spoon-fed bowls-full of Ovaltine to soothe him.

Lenin LOVED Ovaltine. He’d often eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, instead of the more traditional Russian meal of potatoes, beets and Pinkberry.)

Early Soviet propaganda

Consequently, Léon Theremin traveled to the United States of America (or, USA, for short). It was there he found fame and fortune. His marriage, in the 1930’s, to Lavinia Williams, caused quite a stir, though not, as many reputable historians have agreed, because she was black. It was for a different reason. But I’m not telling you what it was. So there. Meh meh moo moo.

In 1938, Léon Theremin – by now going under the name T. Diddy – was kidnapped at gunpoint and returned to the Soviet Union (or, Союз Советских Социалистических Республик, for short). His captors were astonished upon their return to discover that, when they peeled away the lovely Christmas paper they used to conceal him, it was Theremin the man. It was, in fact, his pet chimp they were after – not the inventor! But the Soviets, being an open-minded and adaptable bunch of chaps, decided to go ahead with their plans and placed Léon Theremin in a traveling circus, billing him as Yoyo, the Fast Dancing Chimp.

Early advertisement for Theremin's show.

Sadly, Léon Theremin eventually died of a banana overdose. Eerily, this happened November 3, 1993 – just one year and a couple months before Kurt Cobain took his life on April 5, 1994.

Even so, Theremin’s invention has lived on and influenced many future, electronic virtuosos, such as Wendy Carlos, Robert Moog, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

For those of you interested in learning more about the hot, sultry, sexy story of Léon Theremin, I encourage you to read things about him that aren’t complete lies. For the rest of us, this humble blog is enough.

Next week, I’ll be telling you the thrilling life’s story of Isadora Duncan, the first ballerina to conquer the Moon-men!

Below is a clip of Lydia Kavina, another theremin master, still living and producing work. You can find recordings by both her and Clara Rockmore in the avant-garde classical section of Amoeba Music.


Posted by Billyjam, December 2, 2008 11:40am | Post a Comment

fiendReading yesterday's great Eric Brighwell Amoeblog about New Orleans rapper Lil Slim reminded me of another great and oft slept-on New Orleans rap artist -- Fiend, whom I first met back in the nineties when he initially hooked up with Master P's No Limit label, and with whom I last talked around this time last year when he released his recommended career retrospective CD on Priority Mr. Whomp Whomp: The Best of Fiend (look for it and other Fiend releases at Amoeba Music).

That best-of collection, which features collaborations from the likes of Master P, MIa X, Snoop Dogg, Mac, and Kane & Abel, ably displays Fiend's trademark gruff, growling, gravelly Nawleans rap drawl and the rapper's edgy lyrical style, coupled with his skill for creating killer hooks (often behind-the-scenes, fueling others' success including Silkk the Shocker, Snoop Dogg, and Master P for whom he heavily contributed to the runaway MTV/crossover hit "Make Em Say Uh").

Fiend initially earned his Rakim inspired name (as in "Microphone Fiend") coming up as a distinctive young hip-hop voice in both New Orleans' 3rd Ward and 17th Ward Districts.  Born Richard Jones, he grew up in what is known as the Hollygrove area, where, from his early teens onwards he spent any free time, "Making music whenever and wherever I could. I would record all people's houses," he told me, citing as among his early the best of fiend mr whomp whompinfluences: Rakim, Con Funk Shun, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Big Daddy Kane, and Public Enemy. However even more profound an influence on his craft and his life was the sudden death of his younger brother Kevin, who was killed when Fiend was only sixteen years of age.

November 30, 2008

Posted by phil blankenship, December 1, 2008 06:42pm | Post a Comment


Posted by Billyjam, December 1, 2008 03:25pm | Post a Comment
 Amoeba Music Hollywood Hip-Hop Top Five
q-tip the renaissance
1) Q-Tip The Renaissance (Motown/Universal)

2) Black Milk Tronic (Fat Beats Records)

3) T.I. Paper Trail (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)

4) Kurupt & Roscoe The Frank & Jesse James Story (Highpowered Entertainment)

5) DJ Babu Duck Season Vol. 3 (Nature Sounds)

Thanks to Marques at Amoeba Music Hollywood for this week's Top Five Hip-Hop albums chart where, as with the other two Amoeba stores, Black Milk's Tronic, DJ Babu's Duck Season Vol. 3, Q-Tip's The Renaissance, and T.I.'s Paper Trail are all selling well. Also on this new chart is the wild west themed The Frank & Jesse James Story from Kurupt along with his younger brother Roscoe, aka the James Brothers. Guests on this all West Coast rap offering include Too $hort, WC, and Daz Dillinger. Keeping in the brotherly (though not technically siblings) mode is new crew The Temper Twins. Check out the group's cool new video/song "Change It Up" below. The Twins, comprised of Jimmy Temper & Tim Temper plus Shotgun, are a new Hollywood (by way of the East Bay) group whose seeds were first sown 17 long years ago at an Oakland BBQ when mod squad people's parkthen newcomer to the local hip-hop game Sunspot "Tim Temper" Jonz, later of Mystik Journeymen/Living Legends fame, first crossed paths with Julian "Jimmy Temper" Brooks, MC and founding member of the psychedelic hip-hop pioneering duo The Mod Squad who got signed to TNT Records, and then picked up by Priority Records for a hot minute, scoring a buzz with 1992's People's Park.

Lil Slim

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 1, 2008 03:15pm | Post a Comment

Lil Slim was one of the first artists to be signed to Cash Money Records. After a series of underground classics, he parted ways with the label. A couple of years later, CMR signed a multi-million dollar deal with Universal and the label's star, Juvenile, carried the new roster to success whilst Lil Slim receded into the shadows.

Lil Slim lived way out in the 17th Ward on New Orleans's western edge in Hollygrove, a small, lower middle class neighborhood that also was home to Big Boy (and later, No Limit) artist, Fiend. Representing the Apple and Eagle intersection, he brought his raps to audiences at Club 49, where he performed alongside UNLV and Soulja Slim. One day, Ziggler the Wiggler introduced them to Mannie Fresh, a young DJ from the 7th Ward who'd gained a measurable degree of local fame with rapper Gregory D. Shortly after, Lil Slim was introduced to Baby and Slim, brothers and co-owners of the fledgling Cash Money Records label. They signed Lil Slim and recorded his first album in Baby's kitchen.

The album was The Game is Cold (1993). One highlight is "Hoes I U's 2 Sweat." Another is "Bounce Slide Ride," a Bounce classic in the vein of DJ Jimi and Juvenile's "Bounce for the Juvenile" which name-checked Juvie and echoed his taste for Reeboks and Girbaud. Lil Slim's style was sing-songy, reggae-informed, repetitive and heavy on chants -- somewhat similar to Pimp Daddy, UNLV and early Juvenile. One thing that set him apart was his exaggerated Yat accent, in which the familiar interjection "Ya heard me?" sounded like "Ya hoidz me?" Cash Money was then primarily a Bounce label and a good deal of the lyrics amounted to little more than calling out wards and projects. Expecting lyrical complexity out of Bounce is missing the point, however, and the album is emphatically danceable. Its Intro and Outro tracks allowed Mannie Fresh to cut snippets of Slim's already sparse prose and make them almost completely abstract.

His sophomore release, Powder Shop (1994) moved a bit more into a more narrative, Gangsta territory, creating a Gangsta/Bounce hybrid made popular by his labelmates, UNLV. Some of the highlights include "Eagle St. Bounce," "True to the Game" and "Powder Shop," the latter about a heroin operation. Like a lot of early-'90s New Orleans rap, heroin is the drug most often referenced -- which is a bit unsettling, especially when the rest of the rap world was melloThug'n & Pluggin' lil slimwing with Indo, Chronic and gin 'n' juice. I guess all that dope in the Grunge scene had to come from somewhere. Listening to it now, it's shocking how much Lil Wayne and, even more so, (Young) Turk owe to his sound.

Lil Slim's final album for Cash Money was Thug'n & Pluggin (1995) which saw him (and especially Mannie Fresh's production) making more concessions to West Coast styles on G-Funk flavored tracks like "Bitches Ain't Shit," "Gangsta Day," "Shakem Up Shakem," "Time to Murder" and the excellent "Hands on My Gun." "Live in Club Rolex (Real High)" with its heavy use of the triggerman beat from the Showboys' "Drag Rap" was a throwback to Lil Slim's straight Bounce beginnings. "Neighborhood Terror" is another highlight.

Like all Cash Money productions, other artists from the roster make frequent guest appearances. In the pre-Hot Boys era that means B-32 (Birdman), PxMxWx, Kilo G (Cash Money's first signing) and Mr. Ivan. Of course, Lil Slim appeared on albums by other Cash Money artists such as Mr. Ivan, PxMxWx, Pimp Daddy and UNLV. He also brought an artist to Cash Money's attention that today is the CEO of the label. In 1994, Lil Slim heard his eleven-year-old neighbor rapping at a block party. Born D'Wayne Turner, the Eleanor McMain Magnet Secondary School student was calling himself "Shrimp Daddy" and owed a considerable stylistic debt to Lil Slim and Pimp Daddy, whose "You Gotta Be Real" he re-did as "You Gotta Be Lil." Lil Slim was suitably impressed and promised to introduce the child to Baby and Slim. Then, at one of his autograph signings in a record store, the little kid performed a rap where he spelled out Hollygrove. Paired with the twelve-year-old rapper Doogie (aka Gangsta D) and rechristend "Baby D" in a duo called The B.G.z, they ultimately went on to find more fame under their subsequent handles, B.G. and Lil Wayne, respectively.

In 1995, Lil Slim parted ways with CMR. According to Lil Slim, it was over contractual problems, including unfair payment of royalties; Baby being a student of the Suge Knight school of label-running makes that charge pretty likely. In addition, almost everyone that's left the label since has made the same allegation, sometimes suing and winning. On the other hand, Slim and Baby maintain that they dropped the original line-up of artists for not being disciplined or hungry enough, spending any money they got on dope... which, given their brown-centric lyrics, may have a grain of truth to it too. Whatever the reasons, the members of CMR's original line-up fared poorly after their departure. Kilo-G, Pimp Daddy and UNLV's Yella Boy were all murdered. Mr. Ivan died recently. I suppose PxMxWx, Miss Tee, Magnolia Shorty and Lil Slim can at least count their blessings that they're still alive, gone from the spotlight but not forgotten. Cash Money, on the other hand, went on to sign a multi-million dollar deal with its new signings, all (save Lil Wayne) of which left echoing Lil Slim's claims of unfair payment.

Lil Slim's final release was Lil Slim's Back (1998-Franchise Player), a six-track mini-album that I've never heard. About five years later, Lil Slim relocated to Northern California, where he currently lives. His current obscurity is shocking given his importance as a rapper both artistically and historically. For better or worse, without him we probably never would've heard from Lil Wayne or Turk. I contacted him with the hopes of an interview and he never got back to me.

(Update: Slim did attempt to get back to me and I to him but it didn't happen. Now he's got a proper website on which he tells his story in his own words so check that out here).