Amoeblog

Gower Gulch and the sort of beginning of Hollywood

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 27, 2012 01:40pm | Post a Comment

The Hollywood neighborhood emerged as a small village in the late 19th century and was incorporated as its own municipality in 1903. But for most people in the world, “Hollywood” is synonymous with the commercial American film, which established itself there first in an area that came to be known as "Gower Gulch."


Before Hollywood emerged as a film-making hub, various companies produced films around the country – especially in Chicago, FloridaCalifornia and especially New York. In Los Angeles, the first filming was done by Thomas Edison’s company around 1898 on South Spring Street, in Downtown.In 1909, William Selig and actor director Francis Boggs moved their company, Selig Polyscope Co, to the Edendale neighborhood (in what’s now Echo Park). Bronx Films, Fox Film Corporation, French & Forman, Keystone Studios, New York Motion Picture Company, Norbig Film Company, The Pathé West Coast Film Company, Reaguer Productions, Western Arts, Westwood Productions, and other studios followed, in the process turning Edendale into the capital of American film production, taking the title from New York City in 1915.

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Postcards of My Vacation Back Home: "The weather's fine. The women even finer."

Posted by Job O Brother, August 27, 2007 10:01am | Post a Comment

My boyfriend meets my Mom... oh wait - no... It's a still from "Quincy & Althea"

Two short films that I was especially fond of were “Quincy & Althea”, directed by Douglas Lenox – a dark comedy set in the ravaged landscape of post-Katrina New Orleans, and “The Lonely Lights. The Color of Lemons,” an artsy, sentimental, but polished look at a young man’s rites of passage as instigated/recalled through viewing a series of Rorschach ink blots tests.


Um... I see a train going back and forth into a tunnel while my mother looks on disapprovingly.

Another highlight was the documentary “Girls Rock”, which followed the experiences of a handful of kids and counselors as they spend a week at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls.




Eat your heart out, Ann & Nancy Wilson.

This Camp was founded in 2001 in Portland, Oregon, and has steadily grown larger and more popular. The first year it had 7 attendees; last year it hosted nearly 250. (That’s almost enough rock ‘n’ rollers to staff Amoeba Music Hollywood!)

What happens: girls between the ages of 8-18 come together for a crash course in rock ‘n’ roll. In one week, girls form bands, learn their instruments, compose songs and then perform them for a huge audience at the end of the week. Alongside the music, girls are also offered courses in basic self-defense, and self-esteem and fun are always prioritized.

The documentary is often hilarious, heart-warming, and just feels right as those of us who wore black to high school because Kurt Cobain shot himself are now having little Frances Beans of our own.

The Festival ended Sunday night. My friends were exhausted. The core group of us retired into the comfy living room of Lindsey and Jake, two sexy volunteers, where we utilized their video projector television to watch the most hilarious of the films which didn’t make it into the Festival.

Now, I don’t want you thinking that we sit around and mock people who’s films didn’t make the cut. The films I’m talking about were made by people who probably haven’t mastered the use of their thumbs. Movies in which the writer/director/star (inevitably the same person) didn’t realize films require consistency, wit, editing or, well, plot. It’s an irony that these films always make for a greater volume of laughter than the comedies that do get accepted.

By the end of the evening I realized that I had accidentally drained an entire bottle of champagne by myself. Jeffrey drove Corey and I back to my family estate, where he and I fell asleep in each other’s arms, still chuckling over the train-wrecks of cinema we’d just witnessed.


I'd marry her if I could get the proper paperwork.

Our last day in Nevada City came all too soon. One thing had to be accomplished before we left, and that was a visit to the South Yuba River. For those of you who have never been, be sure to get there before you die. Or at least get reincarnated as someone who does get to go. It’s what a water-park will look like in Heaven.

On the flight back, Corey mused that he’d had trips to New York City that were more relaxed than our jam-packed weekend in my sleepy hometown.

(In which the author celebrates our Nation's independence.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 7, 2007 10:53am | Post a Comment

The Boston Tea Party. (What - no Massachusetts-sized scone?)

It was the Fourth of July, which I recently learned is some kind of holiday? I dunno. Something about a “united” something-or-other; I guess it’s about, like, this one country where they killed a bunch of British people by making tea in the actual sea (I’ve tried this myself and let me tell you, there is no amount of cream or honey that will overcome the fishy flavor) and gave out blankets to native tribes… or am I confusing that with the day we celebrate our ancestors surviving a hard winter by eating Stove Top stuffing and hiding eggs under kids’ pillows for money?

Whatever. In any case, my boyfriend Corey, our friend Lisa, and good ol’ Logan of Amoeba Music fame, decided to mark the occasion by seeing “Transformers” at the Cinerama Dome (right across the street from Amoeba).


For those of you lucky enough to not live in Los Angeles, you are so unlucky that you don’t get to watch movies at this theatre. I am totally spoiled, and happily pay the outrageous fee for the experience. Reserved seating, witty/snide employees, no commercials before the previews, and none of those (insert whatever cuss word you think has the biggest punch here) SLIDES that propose stupid questions like:

“Which action film did Bruce Willis star in as a New York cop named John McClane?”

a.) Agnes of God
b.) The Little Mermaid
c.) The Little Mermaid, Part 2
d.) Die Hard


Really – if someone is dumb enough to find this trivia challenging, they probably can’t read to begin with, so they’re wasting everyone’s time!

I mean, (and I’m digressing into one of those ‘when I was a kid’ moments right now – best to just skip ahead) I remember entering a darkened movie theatre and just… reveling in the hush; the stillness of it. It was like entering a church. And then there was the excitement of hearing that first “crackle” that let you know your film was about to begin. That was terrific!

Nowadays you’re constantly faced with commercials and fake radio stations that play whatever Top 40 crap the major corporations are trying to convince you is worth the insulting price they’re charging for their tired product.

“Clap your hands if you prefer Diet Coke to regular Coke!”

What?!

I already spent half my paycheck on a medium popcorn! Leave me alone!!!

(Author takes a moment to catch breath and remember what the point of this blog was… …is.)

Oh yeah… “Transformers”.

I had a real good time. I thought it was entertaining. I also thought it was… a minstrel show. That is, every person of color was outrageous and comical and met the “entertaining” stereotypes of today, whereas every person in the film that saved the day or fell in love was not only beautiful, but beautiful and white.


"G-G-G-Golly! That choo-choo just transformed into a r-r-r-robot!"
(One of many scenes from "Transformers")

But I didn’t turn to this film for cultural enlightenment, so I’m not particularly outraged. Movies like these are, after all, less about the political agenda of the studios and more a reflection of target markets – so we only have ourselves to blame for what we see.

The final half hour is bewildering, and I think most people will leave the theatres feeling as though the Decepticons weren’t the only things to be obliterated – the flimsy plot was, too. Again, not that I expected Dostoyevsky (from what I hear, he was a GoBots man) but the moviemakers perhaps gambled that we, the Audience, would be so hypnotized by the action that we wouldn’t notice gaping plot-holes. Well, we all noticed, but in the end, didn’t care.

This climax, a super-violent war between cars and aircrafts in which old landmarks are demolished and crowds of people rush around in terror and confusion, takes place in downtown LA, so admittedly, it took a while before I realized it was supposed to be significant, rather than just a panorama of a normal day in the Garment District. Those of you who don't live here won't have this problem and should be sufficiently thrilled.

The film smartly turned to some deft dialogue, mostly featured in the first third of the film, centered on the lead actor’s family. It was like they hired Woody Allen as a script consultant for that segment. But don’t worry, mallrats, the overwhelming bulk of dialogue was your standard fare of Hollywood clichés and shallow, moral posturing.


"I know we're on the edge of complete annihilation but could I, like, see your boob?"

Corey, who went in with high expectations, left furious; I, who hoped only to feel him up at some point during the film, left surprisingly satisfied by the spectacle.

As far as action goes, this film doesn’t come close to matching the original, animated “Transformers, the Movie”, which is very simply one of the most hyper, battle-heavy films ever made. The fact that my generation survived it while sucking on Pop Rocks and discovering Jolt Cola is testament to… uh…

…Something, I suppose.


The Original. (Check out Optimus Prime's package! Whoa!)

I remember, when the first film came out, the schoolyard was buzzing with rumors that it contained the word “Shit!” Never had my class been so excited about grammar.

If you’re gonna see the new “Transformers”, see it on the biggest screen you can find, with the most friends you can gather, and with the lowest expectations you can muster. You’re bound to at least chuckle while you roll your eyes.

And if you’re like Lisa, Logan and I, you will drive home slightly paranoid that the car you’re driving may, at any moment, reconfigure itself into a giant, sarcastic robot.

(In which we now have something completely different.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 4, 2007 04:29pm | Post a Comment
There’s few things more annoying than a  Monty Python fan. I should know, I am one.

The first thing I ever saw from this most-famous, British comedy troupe was “The Meaning of Life”, their fourth and final film, released in 1983. I was eight. It was completely inappropriate for a child and I still taunt my older sister for taking me to see it.

Being the baby of the family, I was inevitably stuck with my older sister on dates, so all the films I saw as a child were wrong for my age.

My first film was the whimsical and high-spirited “Reds”, based on real-life American Communist, John Reed, and his affair with a married woman. Tee hee! Next, I remember seeing “Gandhi”, that laugh-a-minute movie that’s warmed the cockles of so many tots. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was a memorable evening for me (I was still small enough to hide under my seat); “Mommie Dearest” caused a temporary phobia of wire coat hangers; watching “Sybil” resulted, ironically, in me developing a split personality to handle the memory of seeing it, and imagine my delight at being the only kid in class to say he’d seen “Chariots of Fire”… twice.


Just another childhood cartoon for Job: Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

In my sister’s defense, she did once take me to see a showing of “Bambi” at her college theatre, but the reel broke just after the forest fire that claims Bambi’s Mommy’s life. Whereas the other kids were crying and traumatized by this, I wasn’t phased. After all, what’s one dead deer when I had already witnessed the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?

But this isn’t therapy and you’re not a psychologist*, so I won’t pursue this tangent.

Seeing Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” was an influential experience, and, I know, had a tremendous impact on me and my sense of humor. Ask any teacher I had in school. Or, better yet, ask any principal I was sent to.


Eric Idle & Michael Palin

Most fans of Monty Python have seen all there is to see by the group. Besides their TV show, “Flying Circus”, there’s only the four films and the concert footage of their performance at the Hollywood Bowl. So, we must turn to the myriad side-projects from the various cast members.

Most human beings are familiar with John Cleese’s post-Python production “Fawlty Towers”, but have you seen Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ brief TV series “Ripping Yarns”? Ah, ha! I thought not.


Michael Palin & Terry Jones (Can you find the fish?)
“Ripping Yarns” played on the BBC in 1976. It consists of nine episodes that run half an hour, each. They star Michael Palin as the lead, but as every episode is a separate story, so his character changes (Terry Jones only appears in the debut episode and thereafter serves as a writer and director).

The episodes are chock full of the ridiculous type of humor found in “Flying Circus”, though they maintain plot-lines, rather than a constant flux of non-sequiturs and grotesque animation. (Remember that one episode of “Flying Circus” – “The Cycling Tour with Mr. Pither”? That’s a good idea of what “Ripping Yarns” is like.)


Nailing students as a means of hazing. Actually straight out of my freshman year in high school.

Anyway, you fans of Monty Python should check it out. The complete series is available at Amoeba Music’s DVD department. Watch it, memorize it, and then we can all recite the lines at parties and annoy the others, just as we do with our constant exclamations of “Ni! Ni!”

*My apologies to any psychologist who reads this blog and feels discounted by the assumption that no psychologist would read it. It’s not my intent to alienate you and, should you feel hurt by this, I would be happy to prescribe some lithium to ease your suffering.

(In which Job gets into a screening and a fight.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 15, 2007 10:51am | Post a Comment
I have some good news!

My and I sweetheart had our first fight.

(That’s not the good news. Note the paragraph break, indicating a different point; though their coupling is relevant. Therefore, don’t mistake the above sentences as a non-sequitur, per se; except in instances where they may be removed from this paragraph and, as a result, rendered sans context, in which case, y’all can get freaky freaky with your bad self.)

My sweetheart and I went to a media screening of “The Ten”, the new comic, moving picture (or “movie” for short) directed by David Wain and written by David Wain and Ken Marino (both known and loved for their participation of that miracle of radness known as “The State”.)

“The State” was a sketch show that ran for three seasons and launched the careers of many familiar faces that went on to create other hella sweet things: STELLA, Wet Hot American Summer, Reno 911, to name some of the better known.

The film was almost completely entertaining, and even when it wasn’t making me laugh outright, I was never bored. The film, unlike the first two paragraphs in this blog entry (when taken with this, the following elucidation, as before explained) is chock full of non-sequiturs and basic silliness, which I like a lot.

I like that kind of humor a lot.

Like, more than just friends.

Anyway, sometimes there’s a lull in the pace or mood as a means of creating a sudden tension or bring everything to a heightened sense of surreal anxiety, which I appreciate, but will strike most people as just… not funny, which I also love. It’s interesting to note, too, that the cast is large and has many hotties in it. It is a very sexy cast, and you will have more than one face to crush on.

My only actual complaint is one of the actors. I won’t say who, because I’m about to have brunch with them before we go to our Kabalaties Class (that’s combination Kabala study and Pilates work-out for those who aren’t insane), and I don’t want to spend the whole time we’re enjoying our #4 Special (wheat-grass colonics with lychee-scented oxygen tanks, served with a Thetan-cleansing aura douche and sweet potato fries) with me defending my blog. The actor in question is very famous, loved by many and, in my opinion, a terrible actor. Another good reason not to say who it is: because you may not share my disfavor and therefore have no problem with them, and you don’t need me making you feel all self-conscious because you have no taste.

And don’t think for a second that it’s Paul Rudd, because he’s pretty and we like him.

If you love the various comic titles cited above, you’re sure to at least be entertained by “The Ten”. It’s not in theatres yet, and probably won’t stay in them for long because that space is needed for your Spiderman 334 and X-Men 635 and all your other stinky sequels.

As for my fight with my sweetie, it happened directly after seeing “The Ten”, but it was resolved quickly and we were holding hands and shopping at Target within the hour, just like every other gay couple in Hollywood.

Ken Marino, Michael Showalter, David Wain - looking gayer than my boyfriend
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