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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

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