Amoeblog

From the women's picture to the chick flick

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 31, 2009 05:52pm | Post a Comment

I wrongly assumed that it would be easy to fire off a blog briefly summarizing the history of women’s pictures. When I began, I quickly realized that it is a genre that’s simplistically treated as synonymous with both weepies/tearjerkers and their near opposite, the rom-com; it quickly proved to be more than I bargained for, which is why it’s showing up on this, the last day of Women’s History Month. The history of the genre occupies an interesting position, little discussed and yet obviously affecting and responding to the Hollywood narrative, the larger global film market, and broader history. Anyway, it proved to be a bit too much so, here's the fast & furious driveby account of a genre that deserves more.


First of all, tear-inducing films are by no means all women's pictures, which is why someone coined the annoying term “guy cry” for young male-targeted stories/films about dying dogs (e.g. My Dog Skip, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, &c). For adult males, sentimental melodramas (usually tempered by the macho backdrop of war, the wild west or sports (e.g. Bang the Drum Slowly, Brian’s Song, Knute Rockne) allow men the opportunity to cry with less shame. But, whereas men generally try to resist crying, telling themselves in the heat of a battle scene as the hero lies dying in his buddy's arms, "It's only a movie. It's only a movie. You will not cry!"; women, it is assumed, seek out movies with the hope that they will have "good cry." I have no doubt that this is part of why women’s pictures have rarely been afforded serious critical examination and were only lauded, for the most part, near the beginning of film history.


During the silent film era, most truly snobby critics still viewed film as an inferior art form unworthy of serious discussion, except to point out its deficiencies. Those few positive critics were usually decidely populist and they, of course, loved the maudlin stories, over-the-top action and improbable coincidence of silent melodramas. Most of still-critically-worshipped director D.W. Griffith’s supposed film innovations were borrowed directly from tawdry works of decidedly low, melodramatic fiction and much of his work can be considered in the women's pictures genre. True Heart Sudies is about a suffering country girl who continually sacrifices her own happiness to help advance the position of a man who barely knows she exists. In Way Down East, a young innocent is seduced and impregnated by a smooth womanizer who then tosses her aside.


Silent stars like Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford often played spurned or otherwise wronged innocents who suffered mightily at the hands of dastardly men. Both of the actresses played out in ways fitting the conventions of women’s pictures, albeit ones that demonstrate some of the under-acknowledged variety of the genre. Lillian Gish never married nor had any verified relationships (unless you count her close friendship with Helen Hayes or her sister, Dorothy). Instead, she devoted herself entirely to her career for 75 years before dying alone at 99 years old. Pickford’s husband, Owen Moore, was an alcoholic who -- unhappy about being overshadowed by his wife’s fame -- resorted to beating her, driving her into the arms of dashing womanizer Douglas Fairbanks.


The idea of campaigning for female audiences began when women still didn’t have the right to vote at the ballot box, but did at the ticket booth. With silent film’s reliance on visuals and, usually, highly stylized, dramatic acting, the medium practically seemed ideally suited for melodrama. In the 1920s, Doris Schroeder became in demand for her women’s picture screenplays. Her first screenplay was the provocatively-titled Heart of a Jewess. Her specialty was creating different characters that look like a who’s who of women’s picture stock characters: tomboys, fallen women, vengeful femme fatales and hedonistic gold-diggers. Of course, part of the fun of the pre-Hayes Code era was the ability to show all sorts of tawdry, sordid, gleeful immorality as long as the bad girls end up drug-addicted, rejected or dead. Madame X (1920) was one of the first of such films. In it, a woman (played by Pauline Frederick) is separated from her child and then defended by her unknowing, grown-up son when she's wrongly accused of murder. 


In 1927, the first Academy Award for Best Actress went to Janet Gaynor, the star of 7th Heaven, a woman’s picture wherein a poor, cheated, abused and persecuted woman finds a loving husband, only to have him snatched away to fight in World War I. He makes the unlikely promise to communicate telepathically with his wife every night. Eventually, the heroine thinks he’s died. Against all odds, he returns to her alive… but blind.

It was only when film began to be taken seriously that more serious critics began to dominate film theory. For the most part, they shunned the melodramatic hallmarks of the women’s picture as uncinematic, usually expressing the view that a more intellectual filmmaker’s concerns with film visuals should focus on composition, editing, &c and not emotionally appealing fancy costumes and sets. Somewhat oddly, whereas emotion seems perfectly acceptable in music, from the super sentimentality of Franz Schubert to the comically lachrymose Radiohead, emotion, we are told, has no place in serious film. Of course, all popular film remains, despite critical suggestion, primarily concerned with emotions, whether the genre is action, drama, horror, porn or thrillers. Most audiences go to the cinema in search of an emotional fix. It could be argued that the escapism offered by plutographic spectacle films is almost intrinsic to the genre and extremely cinematic.


The disparity between film critics and audiences is even more glaringly obvious when it comes to foreign films. In most countries, the melodrama (often also a women's picture) is usually favored by the populace, who've frequently never heard of most of the critically-championed films that end up released in America. Look, for example, at Iran, whose New Wave of directors are barely known at home where, conversely, the popular films are generally unheard of abroad.

Women’s pictures' roots in literature were also ultimately frowned upon as extrinsic contaminants stunting film's growth. The seemingly convoluted twists and border-line magical coincidences were looked down upon and yet books like Anna Karenina, Camille, Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary, Wuthering Heights and pretty much everything by Jane Austen have nonetheless proven lastingly popular with filmmakers and audiences, who often enjoy repeated movie adaptations every few years.


Occasionally, in the hands of the right director, what would otherwise be viewed as silly clichés are considered (usually in hindsight) ironic social critiques disguised in camp clothing. Many emotionally manipulative directors, despite their frequent forays into women’s pictures, are viewed as serious directors only because they've (despite frequently working within the genre) skillfully managed to avoid being seen for what they are, e.g. Erich Von Stroheim, Josef Von Sternberg, Lars von Trier, Michael Powell, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Todd Haynes. Others, like Douglas Sirk, Edmund Goulding and George Cukor, have been redeemed through re-assessment of their work. Because of their ongoing popularity, women’s pictures (though still viewed as low art) remain viable, now re-branded as "chick flicks." Given a hip, insouciant (and annoying) nickname, directors of chick flicks like Nora Ephron and P.J. Hogan are at least considered respectable, even as most of their works are scarcely different from the disparaged works of their predecessors. When you look at the top ten highest grossing American films, many are arguably women’s pictures and all contain most of the ingredients of the genre, despite their target audience.
  1. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  2. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
  3. The Sound of Music (1965)
  4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  5. The Ten Commandments (1956)
  6. Titanic (1997)
  7. Jaws (1975)
  8. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
  9. The Exorcist (1973)
  10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

The 1930s were noteworthy in the history of women’s pictures for several reasons. It was the dawn of the talkie and women’s pictures became known for featuring a lot of dialogue, another characteristic viewed as inherently anti-cinematic and more appropriate to books. In the first half of the decade, before the application of the Hayes code, studios could get away with more than they even do today. Bette Davis in particular enjoyed a string of successes as women of questionable character in films like Dance Fools Dance, Ladies of Leisure, Night Nurse, Illicit, Forbidden, Shopworn and Ladies They Talk About. Barbara Stanwyck, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich often appeared as either gleefully-immoral or in traditionally male positions to great success.


The musical was also made possible with the adoption of sound. Although almost never described as a subgenre of women’s pictures, there’s little doubt about who is the target audience, Musicals often send up and feminize traditionally male-oriented genres. In the face of the Great Depression, a lighter variation on the wicked woman archetype was the comedic, sympathetic goldigger, as featured in a series of backstage musicals and non-musicals like Red Headed Woman.

          

In Italy, a series of films were made that, in imitation of Hollywood, portrayed wealthy, conservative families living glamorous, happy lives in their posh homes. The neo-realist crowd called them “Telefoni Bianchi” (White Telephones), after that technological symbol of upper-class frivolity.


The 1940s saw several developments in the women’s picture, many seemingly fueled by the realities of World War II, which resulted in many women entering the workplace for the first time, filling jobs traditionally performed by men. At the same time, many men were shipped off to the battlefront, often never to return. Women’s pictures such as Random Harvest and Waterloo Bridge milked war for all its considerable, tragic emotional worth. In England, however, where the battle came to them, the tendency toward escapism was stronger and what came to be known as Gainsborough Melodramas were hastily cranked out, beginning with The Man in Grey and continuing with Madonna of the Seven Moons, Fanny by Gaslight, The Wicked Lady and Caravan. They were mostly based on adaptations from recent books and all were set in the distant past and provided momentary distraction with fancy costumes and considerable scandal. The years following the war saw an absolute proliferation of women’s pictures. The then newly-common supersaturated Technicolor process was perfect for the heightened emotional state aimed for by genre auteurs like Douglas Sirk.


Production of women’s pictures seems to have reached a low in the 1960s and ‘70s, viewed at the time as conservative, inartistic and passe. Films like Sweet November, Love Story and Looking For Mr. Goodbar all attempted to make some acknowledgment of women’s liberation. Looking for Mr. Goodbar, especially, seems like a cautionary tale to women everywhere who are too liberated for their own good.

The 1980s saw the dawn of the term “chick flick.” I can only assume that it has something to do with the then-popular Andrew “Dice” Clay. Throughout the decade and into the 1990s, Hollywood grew increasingly conservative and there weren’t really any significant developments in the women’s picture in the 1990s, just new faces like Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. If anything, the women's picture was stripped of any sense of irony or satire and reduced to a nostalgic echo of a supposedly simpler time.

With the complete proliferation of cell phones in the 2000s, film conversations are now liberated from the confines of LAN lines and people can talk and talk in any situation. Elizabethtown was the first film to feature every line of dialogue spoken over phones. Still relying heavily on books as their sources, the decade saw so-called chick lit, which had enjoyed incredible popularity in the ‘90s, influencing the women’s picture. It’s surely why the proliferation of films about busy, professional women exploded.

As I noted earlier, there’s a lot more variation to the women’s picture than is usually recognized. And yet, part of the fun is recognizing how often time-worn conventions appear with little change. Most women’s pictures incorporate several conventions in varying combinations, albeit usually with similar aims, including realization of fantasies about the characters who are experiencing significant life changes that revolve, almost invariably, around the central importance of men, which is part of the reason they’re often viewed as socially conservative. But, as earlier noted, there’s often an satirical note and more than a bit of exploitation in the bulk hiding behind the tidy moralizations at the end. I would argue that adherence to formula frees up the viewer to focus their attention on the performer and is the primary way that action, martial arts, porn, westerns and women’s pictures are viewed. Audiences nearly always attribute their failure to enjoy a film to either predictability or bad acting and tend to enjoy films actually offering genuine surprises. Instead, with genre pictures, the enjoyment is derived primarily from the minor tweaks in formula or, more often, the joy derived from witnessing a particular performer travelling down a familiar path, knowing fully what's coming next. For all of film’s history, women’s pictures have favored not only revisiting similar themes, but frequently relying on the same actors like the vulnerable-but-tough Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Glenn Close, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Julia Roberts, Lillian Gish, Marlene Dietrich, Mary Pickford, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Kiera Knightly, Jane Fonda and Sandra Bullock. The men are similarly tough-but-vulnerable, often English and pretty but not girly, sexually unthreatening fellows. Consider Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Kevin Costner, Tom Hanks, Rock Hudson, John Corbett, Harry Connick Jr, Matthew McConaughey and Richard Gere.

Variations on a theme with examples:


The Cinderella Story – The fantasy of an apparent everywoman being recognized and transported to a comfy life by Prince Charming is as old as time. The male equivalent is the dork being recognized for his skills (Dark City, The Matrix). Examples include: Woman’s Face, The Bride Wore Red, Low Birth and The Gorgeous Hussy


I'm Rich, Bitch! – A perhaps more realistic, grown-up variation on The Cinderella Story, these characters are born rich and usually stay rich. Having given up on Prince Charming, the viewer resigns themself to merely peeking voyeuristically at the fabulous outfits of their betters. Often based on real characters, the antebellum south was often formerly the romanticized locale. Now, in more PC times, the more distant past is favored. Of course, the sting of other people's wealth is lessened if their lives are still miserable. Consider: The Other Boylen Girl, Duchess, Jezebel,  Gone With the Wind and The Shining Hour


The Lovable Obsesssive – Another decidedly child-like cinematic fairy tale, the male characters in real life would terrify the objects of their affection. In these films, death, space-time, the fact that their lust is based entirely on stalking or physical appearance is supposed to be romantic -- e.g. Bed of Roses, Forever Young, Ghost, Somewhere in Time and While You Were Sleeping.


Dying Young – Whether it’s the protagonist or their love interest, perfect love is ended when fate cruelly intervenes in a story at least as old as Romeo & Juliet. Sometimes, the victim isn't even lucky enough to be in a relationship -- e.g. Beaches, City of Angels, Dark Victory, Dying Young, In My Life, Love Story, Steel Magnolias, Stepmom, Terms of Endearment and Titanic.


Operation: change-a-bro -- Whether taming the bad boy (usually a rich, cocky womanizer) or saving the suffering widower, these films offer the hope of molding a misshapen lump of man into something the woman likes as in An Affair to Remember, Autumn Leaves, Maid in Manhattan, An Officer and a Gentleman, Sabrina or Sleepless in Seattle.

Weddings – Many women's pictures' raison d'etre is focused on holy matrimony, as in 27 Dresses, Runaway Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Bride Wars, The Wedding Planner, Rachel Getting Married, The Wedding Date, Made of Honor and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.


The Suffering Mother –  These films focus on mothers being terrorized by traumatic events involving their children and play up the old paranoia or maternal sacrifice, sometimes to cover for awful, unappreciative brats. See Cry in the Dark, Madame X, Mildred Pierce, Not Without My Daughter, The Sin of Madelon Claudet, Sophie’s Choice, Stella Dallas and To Each His Own.


Bird in a Gilded Cage – In these films, kept women are content to serve their useless husbands, sometimes reluctantly but selflessly taking part in the scumbag's schemes and even taking the rap for their illegal activities. Or maybe he’s an alcoholic and she’s the talent. See Hold Your Man, Lost Weekend, Riff Raff or Mannequin.


Mr. Wrong – Everything seems so perfect in these fairytale romances… until the husbands/boyfriends quickly reveal their true colors. Or, they’re already creepy, but the women find themselves trapped. Gaslight, The Net, Sleeping with the Enemy, Sudden Fear and Waitress.


The Romance of Adultery – Sometimes these women are trapped in loveless marriages with galoots, often with mistresses or alchoholic and impotent, but other times, a fling with a handsome stranger reignites the flames in the woman’s heart that her well-meaning husband can’t. Examples include Bridges of Madison County, Brief Encounter, Now Voyager, The Piano, Ruby Gentry and Waitress.


Not Enough Time --  Whether single mom’s slaving away at a greasy spoon or as a journalist/author/professional assistant, romance just doesn’t fit into these women’s goals… and yet it nonetheless inevitably finds a way. Check out Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Devil Wears Prada, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, My Brilliant Career, The Turning Point, Sex & the City or You’ve Got Mail.


Princess Charming
-- In the reverse of the Cinderella, the princess, usually urban and sophisticated, somehow falls for a lowly manual laborer, often whilst spending an extnded amount of time in the county. Examples: BUtterfield 8, Kitty Foyle, New In Town and Sweet Home Alabama.

Bouncing Back -– Fresh out of a disintegrated relationship, these films revolve around romantically-wronged women picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and finding some hot, young manflesh to make everything right, as in Hope Floats, How Stella Got Her Groove Back or An Unmarried Woman.

Cutting Loose -– Not yet ready to date again, these women burn their bodices and find (temporary) solace letting their hair down in the company of women, e.g. The Banger Sisters, Thelma & Louise or Fried Green Tomatoes.


This Woman’s Work -- These films show strong women (often queens) who often treat men as indifferently as the worst men do women, thereby showing that two wrongs do make right. These characters usually have more to do with the ice queen archetype than femme fatales. See Elizabeth, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and Queen Christina.

Manhunt -– These frantic, frazzled, female protagonists won’t be whole until they capture a man. The race is on! See Bridget Jones’s Diary or He’s Just Not that Into You.


The Tramp's Progress –- Who doesn’t love seeing women sloot around and act like vain, catty, conniving bitches? Especially if they are felled by their sins. Check Beyond the Forest, Cabin in the Cotton, The Letter, Marked Woman, Mr. Skeffington, Of Human Bondage or Old Acquaintance.


Hooker with a Heart of Gold -- Basically the Tramp's Progress crossed with Cinderalla plus Not Enough Time. Or the characters resort to the oldest profession out of necessity, destitute and having given up on love, as seen in Anna Christie, Pretty Woman, Rain, Red Dust, Street Angel or Waterloo Bridge.


Combo Pack -- Ensemble casts allow for the examination of various aspects of love through the lense of the woman's picture, as witnessed in King’s Row; Love, Actually; Peyton Place; Three on a Match or Waiting to Exhale.

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Ya Hoidz Me? - Talk About Bounce Music

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 20, 2009 12:01am | Post a Comment

For some reason, the Bounce scene, born nearly 20 years ago, seems to be undergoing a minor critical reassessment as it inspires curiosity in a new generation of fans amongst the young, the Euro, the old and new. I can only guess why. I suspect that part of it is a development of the ongoing, time-delayed, middle class fascination with vulgar, good-time booty, that, as with booty bass, gogo, ghettotech and juke house before, takes a little longer to catch on beyond the music's traditional base. Or perhaps it’s just the curiosity factor due to the prevalence of so many openly gay rappers, who have been the subject of articles in The Village Voice, The Guardian and The New York Times -- although their readers are unlikely to run out and buy the latest
Sissy Rap record. There was even a piece on Bounce for NPR’s stomach-turning attempt at hipness, What's the New What? ...Just the title of that show makes me feel like I've been kicked where it hurts.


On the other hand, sites like
Louisiana Rap, Nola Bounce and Twankle and Glisten have done a good job in documenting the scene and suggest a much deeper, more honest appreciation that makes me happy. I'll be honest, the idea of a politician claiming to like Bounce would make me die a little inside. Yet, I’d love it if all these underappreciated, undercredited artists who made Bounce happen got some well-deserved acknowledgment and attention. With films like Ya Heard Me documenting the scene and Youtubers like 1825 Tulane Ave and Whatheallman tirelessly keeping Bounce in your ear, I guess I can live with the idea that some ironic, comb-over-wearing member of the Dumpster Click is going to be into it too. Anyway, for the time being, if you look up "New Orleans Bounce" on Youtube, you're (currently, at least) unlikely to be confronted with the image an American Apparel/Vice Magazine disaster doing the Eddie Bow.


 
New Orleans’s Pre-Bounce Background
By the early 1980s, rap had spread to every reasonably large American city, each of which responded in part with scenes of their own. Almost universally, these early artists were highly imitative of their New York inspirations. New Orleans’s New York Incorporated (formed in 1984) and Ninja Crew (formed in 1986) were no exceptions. Within a few years, Miami’s Maggotron and MC A.D.E. were creating Electro-indebted Booty Bass and Houston’s Geto Boys and L.A.’s NWA were making Gangsta Rap -- all highly regionalized in their identities. Early New Orleans rappers like Tim Smooth, Warren Mayes and 39 Posse began incorporating various elements of the hip hop of the day, but for the most part, didn't verbally or musically represent the Crescent that overtly.


In the 1980s, port traffic in New Orleans had dried up following the oil industry going bust. Employment opportunities were suddenly limited primarily to the tourist-focused service industry and the city plunged deeply into poverty. With jobs and money scarce, crime on the rise and the war on drugs stepped up, New Orleans grew increasingly cutthroat and violent. By the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, whereas almost all American cities began to see a rise in gang culture, the more desperate New Orleans remained dominated by self-starters, self-servers and hustlers with rivalries and identities tied more often to wards and the city's many, large housing projects than organized gangs. In the process, New Orleans’s hip hop scene began to craft a unique identity quite different than that of most other cities. Tracks like Gregory D & DJ Mannie Fresh’s “Buck Jump Time” and MC Thick’s “Marrero (What The Fuck They Be Yellin)” began to express a New Orleans lyrical specificity largely absent from previous NO rap tracks. In addition, the projects (as well as clubs like Big Man’s, Flirts, 49 and Ghost Town) served as the primary venues for local, aspiring rappers.



But it wasn’t until Bounce that New Orleans crafted a truly unique brand of hip hop, largely based on the samples of two seemingly unlikely records whose journey to New Orleans remains obscure. New York rappers The Showboys released “Drag Rap” in 1986 to resounding disinterest. The first half of the track is very much in the vein of Run DMC, but the latter half kicks off with a synth cowbell-punctuated beat that forms the basis of almost all Bounce. The other track, perhaps even less likely to find its way to New Orleans, was British rapper Derek B’s 1987 single, “Rock the Beat.” An instrumental version of it, labeled “Brown Beats,” was included on legendary DJ Cameron Paul’s mix, Beats & Pieces. These two singles became the backbone of almost all Bounce, although, despite what you often read, they were by no means the only ones. You hear a lot of Rebirth Jazz Band, John Carpenter's Halloween theme and the Jackson 5 in Bounce as well. Just check out
http://bouncebreaksarchive.blogspot.com/ for a fairly comprehensive list.

 
What is Bounce?
Bounce, it is often noted, is based on repetitive, simplistic, call-and-response lyrics (mostly ward and neighborhood shout outs and dance call outs) and built (primarily) on just the two aforementioned singles. One thing that seems conspicuously absent from discussions of Bounce is the Dancehall-influenced flow of the rappers. In the early '90s, that influence was everywhere, from acts like Fu-Schnickens to songs like Ice Cube's "Wicked," which (like many others of the day) featured a guy toasting at some point.


Despite what the national media often suggests, Bounce isn't the widely-heard, late ‘90s New Orleans rap coming from labels like Cash Money and No Limit, although they, along with other New Orleans rappers like Devious, Dog House Posse, Kane & Abel, Mia X, Ruthless Juveniles and others occasionally incorporated Bounce aspects or recorded individual Bounce tracks.


Now a lot of haters and moaners will hate and moan about how Bounce is responsible for killing rap. Supposedly it does this by shifting the emphasis away from the (supposedly progressive) artistry of simple, rhyming couplets delivered with an unvariably 4-4 beat toward Bounce's polyrhythmic, lyrically abstract, fun chants that owe more to the Second Line; Bashment, slave-created music forms (e.g. field hollers and ring shouts); and children’s street culture like playground songs (e.g. "K-I-S-S-I-N-G"), clapping games (e.g." Mary Mack," "Miss Susie," "Stella Elle Olla") and jump-rope rhymes ("Fudge, fudge, call the judge," or "Three, six, nine, The goose drank wine"). This unpretentious rootsiness horrifies stodgy purists, creaky fuddy-duddies and cultural watchdogs but is ripe for enjoyment both from p-poppers and subcultural anthropologists who can hear that Bounce expresses more personality in one silly line than most “serious” rappers do over entire careers of insecure, self-absorbed, macho fantasy.

Trailer for Ya Heard Me

Bitch, Stop Talkin’ that Ish - Bounce’s Golden Age
With such a limited lyrical lexicon, DJs and producers like Polo, Precise, DJ Duck, DJ Money Fresh, Mannie Fresh, Henry the Man, E-Jay, and DJ Irv should get at least as much credit as the MCs for the creation of Bounce. Because, at least as important as calling out every ward, project and (on rare occasions) Southern state is the curiously powerful pull of those beats that just grab you.

TT Tucker & DJ Irv - "Where Dey At?"
 
1991
Bounce really began in late 1991, when TT Tucker and DJ Irv recorded, but never officially released, a song they’d perfected at Ghost Town, the blueprint for the genre, “Where Dey At?” It was so repetitive, so infectious and so gutter, it captured the hearts and minds of thousands and so it began. Sadly, the duo never much capitalized on their pivotal role, with TT Tucker in and out of the clink and DJ Irv tragically shot and killed.


DJ Jimi (featuring Jimi's mom) - "The Bitch's Reply"

1992
Almost immediately, similar Bounce songs followed in the wake of "Where Dey At?" Jimi “DJ Jimi” Payton, a DJ at Big Man’s, joined by Dion “Devious” Norman and Derrick “Mellow Fellow” Ordogne, crafted a followup, "(The Original) Where They At." After it was licensed to Memphis’s Avenue Records, it resulted in a response track from Memphian rapper FM with “Gimme What You Got (For a Pork Chop!). DJ Jimi also gave the first recording exposure to Juvenile, who went on to find lasting fame beyond the genre, but did so much with so little (lyrically) as a Bounce artist. That same year, Mannie Fresh and Gregory D ended their professional relationship, unhappy with RCA’s handling of their career. Fresh then joined the fledgling Cash Money label, whose first release (Kilo-G’s Sleepwalker) was not Bounce, but who soon were known for crafting Bounce songs, as was the fledgling Take Fo’ Records.

D.J. Jimi (featuring Juvenile)
– “Bounce (For the Juvenile)”
D.J. Jimi - “(The Original) Where They At”
Everlasting Hitman - Bounce! Baby, Bounce!

Ju'C - "Lick Da Cat"
 
1993
1993 was the year that Bounce really exploded. Moving beyond its simplistic origins only slightly, groups like UNLV helped popularize the genre by adding elements of Gangsta Rap and soon inspired many similar releases by other acts, especially across town, over at the brand-new Big Boy Records, which escalated into a heated Gangsta Bounce rivalry.

Da’ Sha Ra’ – Bootin’ Up
Daddy Yo – “I’m Not Your Trick Daddy”  
DJ Jubilee – “Jubilee All (Stop Pause)”
Joe BlakkIt Ain’t Where Ya From
Ju’C – “Lick Da Cat”
MC Spud & DJ Def  - “Holla If Ya Hear Me”
Lil Elt – “Get da Gat”
Sporty T – “Jackin for Bounce”
UNLV – “UNLV Style,” “Eddie Bow“

Fila Phil - "Hustlaz"

1994
In 1994, national interest in Bounce was first shown when Scott Aiges wrote an article on how much more popular the genre was in New Orleans than nationally promoted artists. The tone at the labels wasn't so much interest, but concern. They wondered why people were buying tapes out of trunks instead of the "Heatseekers" on the Hot 100? On April 22, in a tragedy for Bounce, his friends, fans and family, local legend Edgar "Pimp Daddy" Givens was murdered in the 9th ward.

B-32I Need a Bag of Dope
Fila Phil – “Hustlaz “
Lil Slim – “Eagle St. Bounce”
Partners-N-CrimePNC
Pimp Daddy – “Got 2 Be Real”
 

Dolemite - "Hustla, Hustla"

1995
In 1995, No Limit moved from Richmond, California to New Orleans where the Bounce scene was, by then, huge... at least, regionally. No Limit released a compilation of both Bounce and non-Bounce artists, Down South Hustlas -- Bouncing and Swingin' and began to successfully build on the New Orleans rap scene, ultimately signing a major deal with Priority, then flush with cash off the success of The California Raisins. Over the next few years, their Pen & Pixel-decorated CDs flooded the national market and media interest in New Orleans exploded as Southern rap began to completely eclipse the east and west coasts.

Cheeky Blakk – “Bitch Get Off Me,“ “Twerk Sumthin’"
Dolemite – "Hustla Hustla"
Ricky B. – “Shake Fa Ya Hood,” “Who Got The Fire”
2 BlakkThe Game
 

Magnolia Shorty - "Monkey on the D$ck"

1996
On February 6th, 1996, another Bounce pioneer, Floyd "Everlasting Hitman" Blount was tragically murdered in Fisher. Around the same time, with UNLV’s hit "Drag 'Em in the River" and No Limit’s Beats By the Pound-crafted, bottom-heavy, electronic-based rap, the media began to inaccurately ascribe the term "Bounce" to these nationally popular New Orleans releases. Over the next few years, the word “Bounce” was to be tossed like so much Mrs. Dash by many a non-southerner trying to add a little spice.

Lady Red – “Smokin’ Dat Weed”
Magnolia Shorty – “Monkey on the D$ck “


Kilo - "The Ward Song"
 
1997
By 1997, all of Cash Money’s original lineup of Bounce and non-Bounce artists were either dead (UNLV’s Albert "Yella Boy" Thomas was murdered on April 5th of that year) or dropped. Solja Rags, the new Juvenile album, further shifted attention away from Bounce with Juvenile' new direction and Mannie Fresh's continuation of his sound first evinced with UNLV a year earlier.

Kilo
– "The Ward Song"
Willie Puckett- "Doggie Hopp"
 
Snap Crackle Pop – The Silver Age of Bounce
By the end of the millennium (following their meteoric rise in popularity, major label deals, and subsequent mass defections of talent), Cash Money and No Limit were both reduced to being primarily family affairs. At the same time, national interest in Southern Hip Hop began to shift to Atlanta, Houston and Memphis -- scenes that owed heavily to New Orleans's sound and successes. 


Josephine Johnny - "Workin' With Sumthin'"

A new generation of Bounce artists began to expand the production pallet of Bounce, ironically, toward the increased use synthesizers and programming popularized by Beats By the Pound and Mannie Fresh, who’d helped popularize (in some ways at the expense of Bounce) New Orleans’s non-Bounce successes. The new crop of Bounce artists, despite moving beyond their Triggerman-and-Brown-Beat-sampling forebears, nonetheless undeniably carried the Bounce torch when, to some, it must've seemed all but done and dusted. In addition to all of these artists remaining active today, there are newer acts in the same vein, like Da Block Burnaz, keeping the classic N.O. Bounce spirit alive, whereas most rappers chase passing fads.

1999
5th Ward Weebie – “Show the World”
 
2000
Josephine Johnny – “Workin’ Wit Somethin “
 
2001
Choppa –“ Choppa Style”
 
Tweaker Twerk - Modern Bounce & Sissy Rap
Undeniably defying the tired suggestion that all Bounce sounds the same, modern Bounce artists can truly be said to be taking it into new directions. A large part of this seems to be due to the rise of Sissy Rap, the openly gay Bounce offshoot pioneered by Katey Red & Dem Hoes. Following her lead, a whole host of Sissy Rappers followed with similarly ear-splitting, racous songs whose lyrics make early Bounce artists look like Charles Dickens. Always more egalitarian than mainstream and so-called progressive hip hop, Bounce (like a lot of booty-targeting music) has always had a comparatively large following among women and gays. The “Sissy” moniker, like “Cheb” in Rai, is nearly but not quite universal. With newer Bounce artists including Big Freeda (aka Big Freedia), rappers on the DL, heteroflexibles and just given the confusing sartorial sense of kids today, it becomes harder to differentiate many Sissy Rappers from straight modern Bounce artists, as their music is generally very similar.

Gotty Boi Chris - "Dip Low"
 
The defining development of modern Bounce and Sissy Rap is the increased aural insanity. Faster tempos, lyrics reduced to chopped and repeated phonemes, punishing dissonance, cacophonous clangor and frequently blown out production have turned what was once a distinct-from-but-recognizably-related-to-hip-hop genre into something that sounds like a hybrid of Gabber and Gnawa. The end result is almost avant-garde, and more deserving of the hype and description that Konono No. 1 generated a few years back with their comparatively familiar, down-to-earth approach. No doubt the increasingly insular nature of Bounce is only part of what keeps it out of the mainstream, despite recent media attention.


Big Choo - "Get Low"

Unfortunately, finding accurate discographical information on Bounce artists seems to grow surprisingly more difficult, the newer the artist. But other exemplars include DJ Black N Mild, Big Choo (“Get Low”), 9th Ward Tea, 10th Ward Buck, Chev Off the Ave (“Hollywood Bounce”), Dre Skull, Elm Boy Peg, Gotty Boi Chris, MC Shakie (“Double Dribble” and “Hands on Da Ground”), Sissy Jay, Sissy Nobby and Vockah Redu.
 
1999
Katey Red & Dem Hoes – “Tiddy Bop”
 
2000
Big Freedia –“A'han, Oh Yeah”
 
2002
SWA – “We’re #1“
 
2004
Faster Boyz – “I Ain’t Had Sex in a Long Time”
 
2005
Hot Boy Ronald – “Walk Like Ronald "

Any corrections or additions will be incorporated. Peace!


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26 women's history fictional films

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 10, 2009 11:06pm | Post a Comment
 
 

   

     

   

   

   

   

   


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My year in music - confessions of a grumpy old man

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 9, 2009 10:24am | Post a Comment

According to Billboard, the top artists for 2008 are Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift, Leona Lewis, Miley Cyrus, Jordan Sparks, Jonas Brothers, T.I., Coldplay, Flo-Rida, Carrie Underwood, T-Pain, Josh Groban, Colbie Caillat, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, Katy Perry and Mariah Carey.

At Amoeba, the top sellers were Radiohead, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Portishead, Coldplay, M.I.A., Fleet Foxes, Beck, Flight of the Conchords, The Raconteurs, Sigur Ros, She & Him, Santogold, Crystal Castles, Black Keys, Lil Wayne, Cat Power, Kings of Leon, Amy Winehouse, Bon Iver.


Haveing not heard of most of the Billboard stuff, I can only assume that it's mostly autotuned, oversung, expendable American Idol/Disney Channel/Nickelodeon R&B/pop/Rap sung by sexualized children -- which gives me hives. I definitely would rather, if forced, take the Amoeba package, although I am surprised that I have never heard of four of the top sellers there either.

My friend Lars, who gave up on new music a long time ago, was surprised to read news about Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails and asked, "Is that what people are still listening to? Bands from when we were in high school?" It is kind of strange. I mean, the Beatles and the Doors weren't dominating the charts in the '80s. So it is kind of strange to see a figure like Mariah Carey on the charts, who I remember as a adult-contemporary VH1 staple whose vocal runs I used tape onto VHS to send myself into fits of laughter when needed. Kanye I've listened to and can, without exaggeration, say it was some of the most unpleasant music I've ever heard. When interviewed about Kanye West for the Defamer, I expressed my dislike and someone commented that, to be fair, asking a white thirty-something music store employee is like asking someone in the inner city about bluegrass. Yeah, because Kanye West is "urban" music. Seriously? If you go to Watts or Compton, the Norteño has a lot more in common with Bluegrass than Kanye. Hollywood nightclubs and the suburbs is where rap flourishes... welcome to the '90s, dude.

But I have a serious question. Where does that Top 20 stuff even get played? When I scan the radio, I hear Korean talk, Persian Pop, Ranchera, Oldies, Shock Jocks, News, Classical, Vietnamese Talk, Banda... I seriously feel like I'm never even exposed to this stuff except maybe as I pass through a Glendale food court. Is their some new technology that I'm unaware of that exposes people to that stuff? I wouldn't doubt it. MTV's not playing music again, are they?

On the Billboard Top 20, I only have heard four other artists. Coldplay are too bland to have any sort of reaction to except to say that I bet the rest of the band don't tell the singer when they're going somewhere to hang out. T.I. has epic production but his inability to say anything remotely interesting makes him not worth revisiting, and this is coming from a Young Jeezy fan! I mean, his peak was yet another song about rims ("24s"). Lil' Wayne... Oh man, Weezy F, from 1995 to the first Carter he was awesome. Then he turned his back on the South, sold his soul to Baby, pissed off Freshly Snipes and everything since then has been tailored to the ringtone market above all else. He's been recording for thirteen years now, so the well has to run dry somewhere, right?

Working in a music store can often make you realize what you don't want to ever hear again more than turn you onto new stuff, as we tend to play stuff that's familiar to most. In my case, I learned that I've had enough, forever, of  the Damned, the Undertones, the Buzzcocks, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, middle-of-the-road reggae and what I call Baja Fresh music -- the sort of Cuban stuff they play in slightly pretentious Mexican Chains that I eat at when I'm too lazy to walk further.

And yet, I got into more new music in 2008 than any year in my life, probably, since 1983 when I first turned on a radio and stopped relying on my parents' jazz, bluegrass and soul records for everything.
Myspace, Pandora, Youtube, podcasts and yes, the amoeblog. I learned about music I already know, too. Not all songs by the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and the Cars suck, just the ones we've heard over 700,000 times! Some of their other stuff is actually quite good. 

Chiptunes
, Skweee and Spacesynth were all new discoveries to me that I'm happy to have in my life. I wish I had a better venue for non-Western (or so-called "World" music) though. I did discover that music from all the horn of Africa is to my liking. Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia may not be hyped like Ethiopia, but I can't figure out why. I also learned that almost everything from Central Asia is amazing-- especially Turkmenistan and Kyrghyzstan. Maybe that's what I'll try to focus on in 2009. Since they either never name the artists or I just can't understand them on the non-English channels, the Shazam application has the power to open up the horizon. First positive ID on some jam Recuerdo was playing, Leo Dan.


Australian 
Although I already was a fan of a lot of Australian bands from the '60s to the present, I bought a 2-disc compilation called Inner City Sound that introduced (and re-introduced) me to a bunch more gems of Australia's still criminally underrated music scene. Chief among my new favorites are The Apartments, Lime Spiders, Paul Kelly, The Scientists, Slim Dusty, The Stems, The Triffids and Young Charlatans.


Baroque              
I've always loved the Baroque era -- the music, the archictecture, the art, the wigs, the harpsichords. But classical stations tend to represent it with Bach and not much else, so I'm glad to now be familiar with  Dietrich Buxtehude, François Couperin, Georg Muffat, Giacomo Carissimi, Heinrich Schütz, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, John Blow, Louis-Nicolas Clérambault, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Marin Marais and Pietro Antonio Locatelli.

     
Bass           
I used to sit in the classroom in Florida and frequently there'd be some car parked outside with a trunk transmitting the carressing frequencies of some serious Bass. I never knew who it was half the time, and sometimes you could only feel it anyway and not hear the lyrics. My Iove was re-awakened when an angel known as Ngoc cung came into my Iife, reminding me of the charms of Gucci Crew II and the like. This year I was really happy to be introduced to Bass 305, Bass Mekanik, The Dogs and Lejuan Love.


Blues    
There are just so many Blues artists in the history of the Blues. Blind so-and-so this, Reverend Willie so-and-so that. And then, for me there's always the danger of being hit with the Blueshammer. So I am really grateful to learn of Big Joe Williams, Bukka White, Furry Lewis, Josh White, the Memphis Jug Band, Pink Anderson, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Rev. Gary Davis, Skip James, Snooks Eaglin and Sunnyland Slim.


Brazillian       
Whilst I've never been to Brazil, I'm pretty sure I'd love it. My grandfather, who sadly died this year (RIP), used to go there over and over, despite the fact that he was mugged three times. The thing about so much Brazillian music that I like is that, even though it's coming from a tropical locale, it doesn't all have that relentless, facist party-time aspect, like, say, Soca does. It's just content to whisper sweet nothings and be pretty. This year I got exposed to Alcione, Celso Fonseca, Djavan, Marcos Valle, Maria Rita, Rosa Passos and Vinicius de Moraes.


British            
Whereas the British charts are usually dominated by the likes of Bon Jovi or some umpteenth Simply Red reissue, they've produced more than their fair share of great pop music. Who would dispute that? And there's still more out there to discover, year after year, like Hotlegs, The Loft, Real People, Reverb and The Weather Prophets.


Bluegrass           
Like I said, I grew up on Bluegrass (you know, the music "those people" know nothing about.) I spent the first four years of my life in Bluegrass Country and the first time I was on TV I was attending some Bluegrass Festival. But like all good children, I didn't pay attention to what most of it was and rebelled by not listening to it much. Of course, you always outgrow your rebellion and come back to what's good, which for me included Dock Boggs, Don Reno & Bill Harrell, Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers, Osborne Brothers, Red Smiley & the Bluegrass Cut-Ups, Sid Hemphill and Tony Rice.


Classic Rock     
Man oh man, I used to hate Classic Rock. I worked on a farm in Iowa for two years. They seemed suspicious of anything that they hadn't heard a buzillion times before and whether you were a "Prep" or "Scurv" was mostly determined by whether you prefered Led Zeppelin and AC/DC (Prep) or Black Sabbath and Metallica (Scurv). Oh yeah, male Preps chawed and played football, male Scurvs smoked and wrestled. Everyone agreed that the Steve Miller Band would never get old, that only "fags" drove Fords or drank Coke. So I was shocked to move to L.A. and find the twentysomethings who'd grown up, presumably, on New Kids on the Block and the like, playing the same stuff I'd fled. However, I do have a soft spot for Mountain Dew Rock because it now makes me nostalgic, as long as I haven't heard it too many times, which is why I was pleased to learn of the rocking sounds of  Elf, Grupa 220, Jane, Montrose, Quicksand, Radio Stars, Ten Years After, Trapeze and Zephyr.



Classical              
Pretty much my problem with Classical radio and Baroque is the same as with actual Classical of the Classical period, which tends to be heavy on the really well-known. So I was happy to be exposed to the new (to me) sounds of Antonio Soler, Johann Ludwig Krebs, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Karl von Dittersdorf and Muzio Clementi.


Country               
The country I was exposed to as a kid was usually Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers and stuff like that, which I liked! But my parents never played much older stuff. And the radio? Forget about it. I usually can only tell that the hat country they play on the radio is even supposed to be Country and not pop because it's especially bland but missing the code words that give away Christian rock (e.g. "He," "light," and "up"). When I worked at a horse ranch, it was all Hank Jr, which I didn't much care for. And I never listened to George Jones because of his hair. I had no idea what I was missing. Thank the lord I found Carl Smith, Charley Pride, Cliff Carlisle, The Delmore Brothers, the aforementioned George Jones, George Morgan, Hank Snow, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Red Foley, Red Simpson, Stonewall Jackson and Uncle Dave Macon.


Dance  
I've long genuinely enjoyed cheesy dance music. I can't listen to any of these artists, all new to me in 2008, without being cheered up: Den Harrow, Fun Fun, Ken Laszlo, Laban, Nick Straker, Sabrina Salerno, Squash Gang, Sarah Jean, Jim Player, Cheryl Hardy, David Lyme, Kay Franzes, Ken Laszlo, Lime, Nick Straker and Alisha. Again, all credit to the inestimable Ngoc Nguyen.


Depeche Mode Soundalikes
I'm always shocked at how many bands there are that sound just like Depeche Mode. Since the days of Red Flag, Camouflage and Cause & Effect, I've always liked them. In 2008 I also was turned onto And One, Beborn Beton, Cetu Javu, Covenant, De/Vision, Imperative Reaction, Seabound, VNV Nation and Melotron.


80s         
It's weird to me how evocative the sounds of the 80s are. I mean, Danny Hutton Hitters, Dragon, Honeymoon Suite, Sheriff and Sly Fox are all new to me but they make me feel like the credits are rolling after some nerd gets the girl in a twenty-year-old sex comedy.


Electro  
It seems like every week I'm hearing about some new band playing in Echo Park or Silver Lake who's described as "Electro." Don't they know that that term is already spoken for? This year I got turned onto some great real Electro that I missed out on as a kid: Jazaq, Funkatronic, Rodney Stepp, Impackt, Cosmic Touch, Megatrons, Starr's Computer Band, Sorcery and The Future.


Folk
I began 2008 in the mood for Folk music, which I'm still pretty ignorant of, so I was pleased to learn of  Bridget St John, Frida, Jake Holmes, Kate Rusby, Martin Carthy, Roger Rodier, Susan Christie, Vashti Bunyan and Wizz Jones.


Freestyle
The way I see it, anyone who doesn't love Freestyle either hasn't heard it or is just too insecure about their own sexuality to admit it. It's in the human race's blood! So I was happy to learn of Bad Boy Joe, Linear, Nolan Thomas, Pajama Party, Sequal and Sweet Sensation.


Funk 
Previous to 2008, I always thought that I didn't have a Funk gene. I mean, aside from the one Bootsy Collins song (that I only know because of N.W.A.), I never wanted to hear "Jungle Boogie" or any P-Funk again in my life. So I was really surprised to discover The Boris Gardiner Happening, Ebony Rhythm Band, Michael Liggins & the Super Souls, all of which I really enjoy.


Goth/Industrial  
I was never a teenage rivethead. I never role-played that I was a cyborg or anything, but I did used to go clubs with names like Stigmata, but didn't at all dress the part, because the stuff is so over-the-top it's irresistable to me. So whilst they may be old news to all you deckers out there, I was happy to get into Combichrist, Funker Vogt, Suicide Commando, Velvet Acid Christ and Wumpscut.


J-Rock  
Japan
is like it's own country or something. You know that every scene and every subculture that's ever existed is being kept alive by at least ten Japanese at any time. It's so hard sort through the thousands of bands in hundreds of styles (not to mention all the traditional genres), but I did find out that I like Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Cruyff in the Bedroom, Gackt, Guitar Wolf, Loudness, The Mops, Number Girl and Thee Machine Gun Elephant.


Jazz       
OK, my dad used to play Jazz every Sunday as he made grill cheese sandwiches (his one contribution to helping raise three kids), but I never knew who any of it was. So I'm sure I'd heard a lot of these guys before, but I didn't realize how much I like Barry Harris, Dick Wellstood, Earl Hines, Erroll Garner, Jelly Roll Morton, Joe Sullivan, Joe Venuti, Pee Wee Hunt, Red Garland, Sonny Stitt and Teddy Wilson until the '08.


Ladies 
Thinking of women's music as a genre seems exclusionary and patronizing, but I feel like finding women who rock always takes special effort. I mean, entire weeks pass when I only hear dudes rocking on the radio and at Amoeba. So I was pleased, in 2008, to get into Azita, The Bangs, Be Your Own Pet, Black Tambourine, Buttersprites, Girlschool, Milk 'N' Cookies,  Nikki & the Corvettes, 100 Watt Smile, Penetration, STP, The Pandoras, The Rogers Sisters, The Vibration, Visqueen and Wendy & Bonnie.


Mambo
I don't know ish about Mambo except that I've always liked it, but it's all pretty much new to me. I did, however, take a special liking to Beny More, Cheo Belen Puig, Emil Richards, Humberto Cane Machito and Tito Rodriguez. Maybe not all of that's considered Mambo, but that's what I've labeled it and I'm not going to call it Cuban and ruin the alphabetical order of this blog.


Medieval 
Whenever I used to listen to Medieval music at work, my co-worker Dave would say it sounded like Church music to him. Dude! What church is that?! We never sang anything like these composers in my church: Alfonso X (el Sabio), Francesco Landini, Léonin, Peirol and Perdigon.


Metal   
OK, I never really listened to any metal growing up. They never played it on the radio and the headbangers were rumored to be Satanic or racist so I kept my distance as a kid. So a lot of what I heard in 2008 is probably old hat to metalheads, and every time I came to my co-worker with a new discovery, he invariably dismissed it as garbage. What can I say, if it's got dragons and knights in it, I'll probably like it. My 2008 Metal discoveries include All That Remains, Andy Timmons Band, Los Angeles del Infierno, Armored Saint, Avantasia, Black ‘N Blue, Black Majesty, Celesty, Dark Moor, Dragonforce, Dream Evil, Edguy, Excalion, Gamma Ray, Hammerfall, Hibria, Kamelot, Loudness (courtesy of Ngoc's cousin, Hien), Mob Rules, Nuclear Blast Allstars, Pretty Maids, Rata Blanca, Rhapsody of Fire, Saratoga, Silent Force, Sonata Arctica, Steel Attack, Tierra Santa and Zandelle.


Neo-Psych 
I've always been a sucker for most things with a hint of psychedelia about them, but most of the neo-psychedelic stuff flew under my radar until 2008 until I got turned onto Abunai!, Bobb Trimble, Green on Red, Hex, The Last, The Rain Parade, The Salvation Army and The Three O’Clock.


Portugal   
Portuguese, Farsi, Japanese and Korean are probably my four favorite languages just for the way they sound. So take some passionate Portuguese singers and their lovely language and it's a recipe for success, as far as I'm concerned.  2008 happily presented to me the sounds of  Amalia Rodrigues, Dulce Pontes, Madredeus, Mariza, Misia and Monica Salmaso.


Power Pop     
I love the perrenial playground vibe of power pop, which makes me feel like it's high school all over again. In 2008 I got introduced to Dirty Looks, The High Back Chairs, The Mirrors, The Motors, Off Broadway, The Posies, The Stems, Tuesday, 20/20 and We All Together. Yeah, I knew of the Posies when they were popular. Why didn't I listen to them before? I guess I was a close-minded little shit.


Prog  
Prog rocks. If you know of my predilection for gnomes and stuff like that, then it should come as no surprise. But as someone who never played D&D or had a dorky older brother (my mother claimed to have turned Ethan Bob into a frog before I was born), I have to find all this stuff on my own. In 2008 I was pleased to find Atomic Rooster, Barclay James Harvest, Bo Hansson, Caravan, Egg, Laghonia, Moonkyte, National Health, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Wigwam.


Punk   
I never was a Punk. Buying an anarchy patch and donning the uniform of a mohawk and plaid pants always seemed so... conformist. Heck, my dad was the one who introduced me to the Sex Pistols (as an example of "mental illness"). What's more punk than hating punk, right? So, now that I'm old I learned to enjoy the likes of Blitz, D.O.A., Negative Trend, UK Subs and TSOL.

Radio Dramas 

Since I'm not in my seventies, listening to radio dramas was pretty much all new to me. In 2008 I eagerly tuned into episodes of Adventures of Phillip Marlowe, Dimension X, Dragnet, Gunsmoke, The Great Gildersleeve, Night Watch, The Six Shooter, Suspense, Tales of the Texas Rangers and X Minus One.


Ragtime     
Having spent most of my childhood near the cradle of Ragtime, I was familiar with some of the more obscure names in the genre but I don't think I'd truly heard the actual sounds of Blind Boone, Butch Thompson, Claude Bolling, Eubie Blake, Frank Townsell,  Muriel Pollock, Miguel Pineda-Van Gelder, Sue Keller, Vee Lawnhurst and Zez Confrey till 2008.


R&B     
With R&B, I always favored the synth-heavy, straightforward stylings of artists like Oran "Juice" Jones, Timex Social Club and the like. When New Jack Swing happened, I pretty much ended my relationship with R&B and we don't talk anymore so it probably shouldn't be surprising that my 2008 R&B discoveries were the likes of Aurra, Barbara Mason, Cherrelle, Coffee, Dennis Edwards, Jeffrey Osborne, Kashif & Meli'sa Morgan, Patrice Rushen, Starpoint and Yarbrough & Peoples.


Rap     
It's been a while since I heard any new rap artists that I thought were worth a damn. I dislike both the bourgie, bland club crap that dominates the airwaves as well as complainy, hating, bitchy, conservative back pack stuff. So what's someone in my position to do? Just stay in my Dirty Dirty world, I guess, where I continue to unearth enough gems to keep me grinning. In 2008, I got into the mostly old school sounds of Da Sha Ra, Ninja Crew, New York Incorporated, Lil Slim, Magnolia Shorty, MC Thick, Sporty T, VL Mike, Black Menace, Tinchy Stryder, Man Parrish, Body Head Bangerz, Da Banggaz314, Huey, Black Twang, Black Moon, Booty Bouncers, Da Grassroots, Divine Sounds, Justice, Maceo, MC Duke, Plastician, Pretty Ricky, Skinny Pimp, The Watts Prophets and Young Quon.



Reggae  
Back in Florida, the only music they played on the radio that I could stand was Reggae. But then working at a music store, I got so sick of the go-to world music being reggae or salsa. Still, it turned out in 2008 that I can still enjoy some Reggae, such as the likes of Busy Signal, Cham, Ital Sound, Mr. Vegas, Ooklah the Moc, Tanto Metro & Devonte, Tony Matterhorn, Voicemail, Vybez Kartel and Wayne Smith & Prince Jimmy.


Renaissance      
Renaissance music, to me, is the music of autumn, when life is a mead-fuelled vision along the lines of a Pieter Bruegel the Elder painting... or that's what I pretend, at least. It's always been something of a mystery for me why the Classical Stations never take the Wayback machine any further than Bach. So, in 2008, I was turned on to Andrea Gabrieli, Carlo Gesualdo, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Jacob Obrecht, Johannes Ockeghem, John Plummer, John Sheppard, Ludwig Senfl, Nicolas Gombert, Peter Philips and Tomás Luis de Victoria, which were all new to me.


60s
The '60s seem like such a fertile time for music. I remember at one point thinking, "Surely I've heard of every band from the '60s by now." I mean, how many can there be? How many people were there on the planet back then, right? And yet it wasn't until 2008 that I got introduced to the awesome sounds of The Aerovons, Andwella’s Dream, Arzachel , Billy Nichols, The Black Diamonds, The Boots, Bram Rigg Set, The Cryan’ Shames, Drag Set, The Free Spirits, The Gordian Knot, The La De Das, Majic Ship, Marmalade, The Maze, The Millenium, The Moving Sidewalks, The Open Mind, The Remains and Sagittarius.


Soul 
    
With so much soul music out there, every year brings the discovery of tons of gems. In 2008, I got hipped to Ann Sexton, Azie Mortimer, Barbara Lewis, Bettye Swann, Beverly Shaffer, Bobby Marchan, Chuck Jackson, Don Covay, Jan Bradley, Kim Weston, Maxine Brown, Percy Wiggins, Shorty Long, The Tams, Walter Jackson and many others.


Space Rock        
As a fan of '80s bands like Spacemen 3 and Loop, I was pleased to disover that Space Rock seems to be making a return and in 2008 I got into The Black Angels, Darker My Love, Dead Meadow, The Ponys, Spectrum and The Tremeloes.


Tango  
Everyone loves Tango, it seems. But, if you're like me, you know Astor Piazolla and maybe Carlos Gardel but that's it. In 2008, I finally broke through and also got into Alfredo de Angelis, Anibal Troilo, Francisco Canaro, Francisco Rotundo, Jose Basso and Miguel Montero.


20th Century Modern
I don't know what else to call this stuff. My co-worker (the one who's reminded of his church at the sound of 14th century monastic chanting) claims that this stuff all sounds like it was made by children. I love it though, and was happy to learn, in 2008, of Elliot Carter, Hans Werner Henze, Henri Lazarof, Luciano Berio, Luigi Dallapiccola, Marcel Dupré and Stefan Wolpe.

So music fans, here's to 2009 and may we all be blessed with new musical discoveries. Excelsior!


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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. Amoeba.com 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.

 
2009

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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