Amoeblog

Novelty rap and the harsh realities of adolescence -- Freddy Rap and other strange happenings of 1987

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 10, 2009 10:44am | Post a Comment
Back in 1987 and '88, before Chucky and the Leprechaun came along and divided the loyalties of urban cineastes along racial lines, Freddy and the hip-hop community were hand in metal-clawed glove. It was the year Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was released. Why did Freddy rap occur then and not sooner? There had been a building sense of unease for several years, as evinced in Rockwell's 1984 hit "Somebody's Watching Me" and Dana Dane's 1985 hit "Nightmares." It was the climax of the Cold War, after all. Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was widely viewed as the best entry in the series and was the most successful until FVJ in 2003. It may've just been me, but I also think 1987 was just a weird, wonderful year.


For me, it was full of confusion and mystery. I'd grown somewhat comfortable with my classmates over the seven years of elementary school, but in 1987, I was off to junior high. The air on the school bus was a gaseous psychotropic cocktail of aquanet and Jheri Curl. When the smoke cleared, I found myself at Jefferson Jr High, in the middle of town. The formerly all-white school, my black Social Studies teacher informed us, had been the domain of the devil and his wife (a witch) when he was growing up during segregation. I later figured out her reasons for creating that myth, but it might as well have been true to me at the time. Junior High, in contrast to the relative peace of elementary school, was a trial by fire where violence could and frequently did break out as the pecking order got sorted out. I quickly learned to never use the restrooms. There was tremendous pressure to adopt a sort of uniform with classmates scrutinizing and passing judgment on hair, jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, musical tastes, &c. Brands and styles of (generally tightrolled) jeans (something I'd honestly never thought about) were cyphers that revealed more about their wearer's personality and background than their cracking voices ever could.


Beyond Jeff's hallowed halls, the larger world also seemed to be full of of violence and mystery, both solved and unsolved. The Unabomber was doing his thing, In Chuvashia, Vladimir Nikolayev was caught by authorities in the act of cooking one of his neighbors, the Moor Murderers helped the cops find the body of someone they'd killed 24 years earlier, Korean Air flight 858 was shot down and, perhaps most disturbingly, the airwaves were briefly highjacked in an incident that became known as the Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion Incident.

At home, my mother rented Blue Velvet, a film that captured the time. She also turned me onto U2, an Irish group who dressed like they were waiting for Edward Curtis to snap their portrait. However, the band that may've most eloquently captured the bizarre tone of the times was The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, who cut bluntly to the chase with their single, "1987 (What the Fuck is Going On?)" It's a strange world isn't it? Do you know the Chicken Walk?

Anyway, I present you with the cream of the Freddy Rap revolution of '87/'88:



MC A.D.E. - "Nightmare on ADE Street"





Stevie B - "Nightmare on Freddy Krugger Street"





MC Chill - "Nightmare on Chill Street"





Krushin' MCs - "Nightmare on Rhyme Street"



 Gregory D & DJ Mannie Fresh - "Freddie's Back"


Fat Boys - "Are You Ready for Freddy?"




 DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - "A Nightmare on My Street"


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Asteroids in animation, games, movies & television

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 30, 2009 04:26pm | Post a Comment
Asteroids have capitivated the imagination ever since rocks first looked into the heavens and asked, "Are we alone?" The entertainment industry has shown asteroid fields to be a place to hone your space navigation skills and target shooting and rogue asteroids as hell-bent on destroying humankind. As far as threats go, to me the gigantic, silent, soulless killing machines arouse a similar fear to that inspired by sharks. And now, as announced in the Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, Universal has acquired the rights to the classic Atari game and plans on adapting it into film. Matt Lopez (Race to Witch Mountain and Bedtime Stories) pitched the idea and found himself at the center of a bidding war between four studios. From Wing Commander and Double Dragon to House of the Dead and Hitman, films adapted from video games are generally quite good.


Although the chart above shows the existence of many real life asteroids, the entertainment industry almost always portrays fictional or just un-named space rocks.
 
ASTEROIDS IN COMPUTER & VIDEO GAMES

     
Final Fantasy IV   

The aformentioned Asteroids is the best known example of a game focusing on asteroids. Descent, The Dig, Final Fantasy IV, Homeworld, Millenium 2.2 and The Orion Conspiracy all feature un-named or fictional asteroids to various degrees.

ASTEROIDS IN ANIMATION

   

Danny Phantom's "Phantom Planet,Futurama's "Love & Rocket," and the anime Metal Armor Dragonar (Kikō Senki Doragunā) have all got some asteroids in 'em too.

ASTEROIDS ON TELEVISION


           

In "The Wandering Asteroid" espisode of Space Patrol, the crew must destroy an asteroid on a collision course. On Star Trek's "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky," a group of aliens live on a spacecraft disguised as an asteroid. On Buck Rogers's “The Golden Man,” in the name of accuracy one of the crew at least points out the dense field is the densest he's seen. Red Dwarf features several references to asteroid mines, which are also mentioned on Battlestar Galactica's “Scar.” Although often described as a documentary, the BBC's depiction of a near catastrophe by the Pegasus spacecraft in Space Odyssey - Voyage To The Planets never actually happened. Stargate SG-1’s “Failsafe” features the common "Asteroid on a collision course" theme.  
 
ASTEROIDS IN MOVIES


             

In 2001 - A Space Odyssey, realistic asteroids are seen as Discovery One approaches Jupiter. The Green Slime, also from 1968, was slightly more fanciful. Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back followed Atari's depiction of asteroids as densely flying in all directions, randomly exploding and providing navigational challenges for space pilots. In Revenge of the Sith, Luke and Leia are born on an asteroid colony. In 1979, Ronald Neame had a go at the fadingly popular disaster genre with Meteor, which was about an asteroid, despite the title. Though nearly universally reviled, it was practically remade by the campily enjoyable Deep Impact and the truly inept, J.J. Abrams-penned Armageddon. A year earlier, Starship Troopers had featured aliens wiping out Buenos Aires with an asteroid weapon.


REAL ASTEROIDS IN FICTION

Although un-named, un-specified or otherwise imagined asteroids appear far more often on the screen than their real counterparts, the real-deal-asteroid-fields have nonetheless made appearances here and there.

Ceres, a dwarf planet located within the asteroid belt, is the subject of a separate blog.

 

Pallas was the second asteroid to be discovered, in 1802, by a German. It's named after Pallas Athena. One of the largest asteroids in the belt, it may contain 7% of its total mass. In “The Shrinking Spaceman” episode of Space Patrol (1962), there is a sonar beam transmitter located there.

asteroid 1997

Eros
was discovered in 1898 and was the first Near Earth Asteroid discovered. It's believed to be even more massive than the impactor that created the Chicxulub Crater in the Yucatán that wiped out the dinosaurs and led to the evolution of the Voth (as seen on Star Trek - Voyager). Eros was featured in the 1997 TV movie Asteroid.

   

Juno is named after Juno, "the one unique," the wife of Jupiter. It was originally considered a planet but is too small, although it may contain 1% of the entire mass of the asteroid belt. In Mobile Suit Gundam, it's relocated to Earth's orbit and renamed Luna².
 

Hygiea is named after the goddess of cleanliness, health and sanitation in the Greek religion. It's the fourth largest object in the asteroid belt and was discovered in 1849 by an Italian. It has thus far provided the setting of no known films, games, TV shows, &c. Hopefully it'll show up in Asteroids.

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Calfornia Fool's Gold -- Exploring Yucca Corridor, Los Angele's Crack Alley

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 25, 2009 01:25pm | Post a Comment
In this installment of the Los Angeles neigborhood blog, we visit Yucca Corridor. To vote for a different Los Angeles neighborhood, go here. To vote for a Los Angeles County community, go here.

  
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Yucca Corridor & Hollywood

The Yucca Corridor is a small, crowded neighborhood in central Hollywood, just northwest of downtown. Its borders are Franklin Ave on the north, Hollywood Blvd on the south, Highland on the west, and Vine on the east. Below is the southeast corner of what's now Yucca Corridor as it was in 1907. Nowadays it is 42% Latino (mostly Mexican and Guatelmalteca), 41% white (mostly Armenian), 7% Asian and 5% black.



The Yucca Corridor
Yucca Corridor is a fairly dilapidated section of Hollywood, despite 100s of millions of dollars having been dumped into it since the death of Hollywood in the 1950s. Today, although much improved from its nadir, it’s still one of the most run-down areas of Los Angeles. Now, after decades of heralding its complete rejuvenation, the hype finally seems to be approaching reality -- though tellingly, the predominant smell in the air is of sun-dried urine.


Hollywood was originally a dry, Methodist community founded of a few hundred residents located roughly ten miles northwest of Los Angeles. In those days, the film industry was then centered in Edendale. In 1910, D.W. Griffith's In Old California -- shot at 1713 N Vine in what’s now the southeast corner of the Yucca Corridor in downtown Hollywood -- was the first film made in Hollywood. Within five years, most American films were made in Los Angeles and several studios and stars called Hollywood home. By the '20s, it was hopping, as a shot of the same intersection below shows.


By the 1940s, Hollywood was the center of film, radio and television production. In the 1950s, however, faced with rising property values and rents, the entire area experienced a mass exodus with most television and film production facitilies moving away.


For a time, bouyed by the 1954 construction of the nearby Capitol building, Hollywood retained some sense of glamor and was still known as a hub of the music industry. The Villa Capri at 6735 Yucca was a favorite Rat Pack hangout. However, despite its continuing glamourous reputation, Hollywood began a long decline from which it wouldn’t even begin to emerge for another forty years.



By 1958, the music industry had proved incapable of keeping Hollywood alive and it was, for all intents and purposes, dead. In the first of many efforts at restoring life to the necropolis, the neighborhood created the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year, placing eight stars in the sidwalk just west of the Yucca Corridor, which ultimately grew, passing along the entirety of the Corridor's southern edge. Today, the grimy sidewalk of widely unrecognized names seems rather unimpressive. Most of the stores along it sell post cards, novelty license plates, tattoos and clothing so tacky that most prostitutes have too much decency to wear it.


In the 1960s, Hollywood undertook another effort to make the neighborhood attractive -- destroying most of the art deco buildings in the area to make way for boxier, less stylized structures. Two art deco buildings that escaped the wrecking ball are the Fontenoy at 1811 Whitley (pictured above), constructed in 1928 and the Montecito, at 6650 Franklin (pictured below).



The oldest restaurant in Hollywood, Musso & Frank’s, opened in 1919. Suspecting it’s a tourist trap, Musso & Frank's and a Chinese place on Highland are about the only Yucca Corridor restaurants I haven’t eaten at in the name of research. Only the Village Pizza and the Lotería Grill exceed mediocrity, which they both do by a healthy margin. Anyway, back in the 60s, the efforts to attract tourists largely failed and the void left by the departure of the entertainment industry was filled by hippies. The many head shops in Yucca Corridor have proven one of the neighborhood's most enduring business successes.

  

By the '70s, the Yucca Corridor slipped further into decline and most of the hotels in the area became flophouses. One, The Lido, inspired Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp” and was featured in the album art for Hotel California. The Lido had a long history of notoriety, roughly paralleling the neighborhood's decay. Back in the 1950s, Ed Wood did much of his drinking in its bar, which he lived above until he was evicted.

 
Wilcox and Yucca - note the cameras

Wood's upstairs neighbor pimped out her young daughter, beneath was a woman who pimped out her young daughter. A drag queen was stabbed to death in the hallway and it was also there that Victor Kilian, the Fernwood Flasher on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, was beaten to death. Crossing the street to buy booze at Playboy Liqour, Wood was routinely mugged in the intersection that was long considered the most dangerous in the neighborhood. As a result, neighborhood watch groups installed video cameras at the intersection later, but that didn’t stop the theft of the martini glass serving as the “Y” in the store's name and now it goes as Pla-Boy.


The “Tortilla House,” a famous crash pad on Las Palmas, housed 100 homeless transients at one time. But in the '70s, many of the hippies were joined by working class Latinos and the character of the neighborhood changed. On weekends, Hollywood Boulevard was choked with lowrider traffic. Around the same time, many of the sex stores, stripper-wear merchants and porn theatres moved in, followed by an influx of prostitution and drugs. At this point, the crime rate in the area was double the rest of the city -- only topped by the areas around LAX. In the midst of it, the famous The Masque at 1655 N Cherokee was an L.A. Punk venue that hosted The Weirdos, X, The Go-Gos, The Germs, the Screamers and F-Word and was shut down in 1977, when cops began to crack down on the neighborhood.

 
By the early 1980s, the shadowy band of crazed transients known as The Night People dominated Hollywood, based out of the vacant Security Pacific National Bank Building and Garden Court Apartments (aka Hotel Hell), both flanking but just outside the Yucca Corridor. In 1983, the Hollywood Branch Library at Ivar was broken into, vandalized, then set on fire, destroying about 68,000 books.

After much of Hollywood was declared a blighted slum, redevelopment began in earnest in the late 1980s, with efforts led by another shadowy group of glassy-eyed walking dead, the Scientologists. Strangely, they appeared on the scene roughly around the same time as the collapse of another cult, the 1970s' The Center for Feeling Therapy (or The Screamers), who bought much of the property south of the neighborhood. In the 1980s, though a blighted hellscape, game shows still routinely offered winners a two-night stay in glamorous Hollywood, California to unsuspecting tourists, who can still be seen departing from airport shuttles with horrified and disbelieving looks in their eyes.
 

On the left, one of Ed Wood's old apartment buildings. On the right, the former location of La Iguerita.

At the beginning of the ‘90s, the Yucca Corridor seemed little improved, beyond Scientologists' having saved some of the neighborhood's historic buildings from ruin. The crack problem was so bad that the stretch of Yucca between Whitely and Wilcox was known as Crack Alley, which was patrolled by the neighborhood watch groups: Ivar Hawks, Cherokee Condors, Las Palmas Lions, Wilcox Werewolves, Whitley Rangers and Hudson Howlers. Previously focused on individual streets, in 1991 they united as United Streets of Hollywood and Yucca Corridor was proposed as a name to bring attention to the most decrepit neighborhood in a bedraggled district. After two dozen people were killed between the 7-11 on Cahuenga and Ivar and La Iguerita Club, the police formed a special task force to target the area. La Iguerita Club was famous for its violence and drugs that spilled out into the streets. After a murder inside the bar, it was shut down for 45 days. After being closed again for serving alcohol to people who were already blind drunk, people in the Corridor organized to shut it down permanently.

 

In 1992, a block to the south, the LA riots spread to Yucca Corridor and Frederick's of Hollywood was looted, Madonna’s famous pointy bra stolen in the process. The following year, the street was paved with glassphalt, a sparkly pavement designed to add a suggestion of glamour to the embattled, ramshackle neighborhood. When the Northridge earthquake hit the following year, several buildings were condemned. Violence peaked afterward, with Yucca averaging a murder a day. Blockades were erected along the street to reduce drug trafficking.

 
In the 2000s, the neighborhood grew noticeably less shady, with attention-whoring hipsters mostly replacing the the more conventional sort at night. A landscaped median with a sign, the "Gateway to Hollywood” was recently completed by the Yucca Corridor Coalition at a cost of $658,000 in an effort to create yet another reason for visiting the neighborhood. So far, I haven't been asked by anyone for directions to it, although as I took the picture, a guy asked me where the notorious 7-11 is. 
 
For more Yucca Corridor:

  Frank Zappa Hot Rats  



*****


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In defense of lipsynch

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 17, 2009 07:03pm | Post a Comment
Whilst pricing vinyl recently, Amoeba's Chris Matthews unearthed a copy of one of Milli Vanilli's albums that looked normal enough from the outside but when opened up proved to be a sort of scrapbook/time capsule created by a one time fan. Apparently, when confronted with the shocking admission from the two-heavily accented Euros that the smooth, American accented vocals on record were not theirs, said fan responded by cutting out articles about what was scandalous to their pre-teen audience but a non-issue to any adult smarter than a parakeet.




1989 - A Time of Lies
Rewind back to 1989. It was a time of shadows and deception. A Massachussets-born, Ivy League blue blood masquerading as a Texan succeeded a bad Hollywood actor as president. America's youth shaved the Batman emblem in the back of their heads in anticipation of Michael Keaton playing Bruce Wayne, who secretly fights crime by night as Batman. The music world was rocked when, at a Connecticut performance, the recording of "Girl You Know It's True" began to skip. See, CDs had been billed as indestructible, so why was it skipping? And even the most naive fan had to accept what had been obvious and scarcely worth pointing out, that this particular dance-pop duo may've been chosen for their looks in an unholy scheme to... make... money!

  

In 1990, a nation was stunned to learn that that the ruggedly handsome, sideburned Luke Perry of Beverly Hills 90210 was twice the age of the character her played on TV. Still reeling, only a month later the owner of Milli Vanilli, Frank Farian, admitted that, in addition to not writing their own material, the guys in the videos didn't even sing.


The Duped Grammys Cry for Blood!
The ensuing backlash was meant to protest the deception perpetrated by Farian. In fact, it merely supported Farian's logic. People only wanted to enjoy Milli Vanilli's music if the singers were pretty and not for the music, which is why he put models in his videos instead of the actual vocalists, Brad Howell, John Davis, Ray Horton and Gina Mohammed. Reinforcing this notion, fans didn't rush out to buy the album by The Real Milli Vanilli. Had it actually been about music, no one would've cared who was in the videos. When the Grammys took back their award, they were in essence admitting that they were awarding the image and not the music. After all, everyone lipsynchs in videos, just usually to their own vocals... which in pop are usually singing lyrics that someone else wrote... and no one cares.

Demands for Authenticity in Film vs. Music
Of course, in reality the entertainment industry is built on fantasy and image-making. Why does Marilyn Monroe have fans? Her real name was Norma Mortenson, her appearance was the work of plastic surgeons, peroxide and make-up artists-- and the photo capturing her surprise when her skirt was blown upward? Staged! Of course, flat-buttocked actresses like Denise Richards and Angelina Jolie routinely use butt doubles and audiences are happy. Nearly everyone accepts stunt doubles, body doubles, stand-ins, airbrush and CGI too. Yet people seem more capable of accepting unreality in film rather than with music. Cartoons aren't actually speaking but are in fact voiced by real-life people. Music's always been held, unfairly, to a different standard even when actors just play musicians. The Monkees and The Partridge Family were ridiculed for not playing their instruments whilst no one cared that William Shatner wasn't actually flying a spaceship. It seems silly to demand authenticity in music but it happens and that's why rap is so artistically stunted today.

John 8:7
To paraphrase Jesus Christ, "Who of you has never worn contacts, painted your nails, worn extensions, worn black to look thinner, gotten plastic surgery, put on make-up or used fake tan? Let him cast the first stone!" I, for one, don't really care who appears in the video, but I don't mind looking at pretty people. So, in further celebration of lipsynching!

               

God I hate C + C Music Factory. That song still gives me the willies. I will never watch a Dreamworks cartoon because I'm deathly afraid that the animals will at some point bust out with, "everybody dance now!" The fact that the woman on the left sang the song but the woman on the right appeared in the video does nothing to change my assessment of its qualities. And, maybe because the idiots at The Grammys hadn't awarded THEM best no act, there was no media-driven scandal, just a shrug of indifference when the truth was revealed.



Similarly, no one much cared that the androgynous Ya Kid K was replaced by model Felly Kilingi by Technotronic in "Pump Up the Jam." What was more bizarre was that both women were Zairian, as if the listener would somehow subconciously pick up on something being off if they weren't from the same country. In fact, when the truth came out, no one cared.


So Nolan Thomas was really a Turkish guy named Marko Kalfa. And he appeared in this video even though he didn't sing the song. I wonder if his little brother is wearing a wig or if Kalfa's a natural blonde. Anyone who would change anything about this video is a Philistine.

              

In Den Harrow's case, the fact that the guy on the left sang and the guy on the right was in the video seems laughable. I guess the guy on the right's a bit prettier, but when I found out that neither was really named Den Harrow it was about as world-rocking as finding out George Michael was gay. The video and song are awesome, and that's what's important.




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The scene in need of a name

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 14, 2009 06:39pm | Post a Comment
 

About ten years ago, my friend Pete Jourdan and I were trying to advance the awareness of what we felt was a scene that was somehow unrecognized both for its existence as a scene and for the Godlike Genius of it all. I described it thusly, "Although there’s never been a name put to it, there’s an ongoing movement in music whose participants mix musical influences like the baritone atmospherics of Lee Hazelwood, the Doors, Scott Walker and Leonard Cohen with Ennio Morricone, Hank Williams, and Southern Gothic and Poetic Realist literary influences to create a sort of rural, post-apocalyptic, midnight cabaret music that, whilst dark and doomy, offers a sepia-tinted alternative to the embarassing cornballisms of Goth. A lot of the bands hail from Australia and their members normally look like a mix of consumptive prospectors and bourbon-drunk undertakers. Their lush, decadent sound is usually built around haunting violins, spaghetti western guitar and old time religion."

 

Windswept, Australian, Hillbilly Heathcliffs

It was the CD era, pre-blogs, and eventually we, like Israel and Palestine, couldn't come to an agreement either on what to call it or how to characterize it. Pete maintained that Nick Cave was the central figure. Given that Boys Next Door inarguably sucked while the similarly minded Young Charlatans and Crime + the City Solution were already good, I didn't want to overemphasize Nick Cave's importance at the expense of Rowland S. Howard, Simon Bonney, Mick Harvey and others. If everything had to tie directly to Nick Cave, how could we incorporate bands like Wolfgang Press and Tindersticks but through at least three degrees of separation? Nick Cave became our "right of return" and talks broke down. I don't know whether this biography is auto or not, but in order to preserve it:

Peter D. Jourdan, plagued with weak health, was begged by his family physician, Old Man Olafson (who runs Olafson’s General Store in West Lakeland Township), to harden himself and his constitution by way of spending a length of time on in the masculine arts of ranching and trail-riding in our wonderful frontier... but only after his prescription of horehound (oral) failed. Instead, however, it seems he fell in with the notorious Rowena gang and his health and moral reserve were subsequently eroded completely.



And Also the Trees


Anita Lane


Angelo Badalamenti


Asphalt Ribbons


Birthday Party


Blackeyed Susans


Kid Congo Powers


Crime + the City Solution


The Dirty Three


The Flaming Stars


Gallon Drunk


Hugo Race & the True Spirit


Mick Harvey

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Phil Shoenfelt & Southern Cross

PJ Harvey

Rowland S. Howard

Simon Bonney

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo
Sixteen Horsepower


These Immortal Souls


The Tindersticks


The Triffids


The Walkabouts


Wolfgang Press


Young Charlatans

Also check out Conway Savage, The Denver Gentlemen, Die Haut, Fatal Shore, The Gilded Bats, Honeymoon In Red, Hungry Ghosts, Once Upon a Time, Shotgun Wedding, Those Poor Bastards and Woven Hand, which have no decent video footage currently.

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