Amoeblog

Ukrainian Block Party -- Huun-Huur Tu and DakhaBrakha at Royce Hall

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 27, 2015 01:41pm | Post a Comment

We're spoiled for entertainment choices here in Los Angeles; sometimes I feel almost paralyzed by cultural options and end up in an almost catatonic state listening to old episodes of Dragnet. That almost happened the other day, when I was torn between whether to go to KDAY’s Fresh Fest or Center for the Art of Performance's Ukrainian Block Party. South Los Angeles's Westside or the Westside WestsideUCLA territory or USC? The 2 or the 92?


Royce Hall at Sunset by Karan Mehta

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A Look Back at the Depeche Mode Riots

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 11, 2015 07:43pm | Post a Comment

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots (or Watts Rebellion, depending on your point of view). In that riot, 3,438 Anglenos were arrested, 1,032 were injured, and 34 died. This year (but not today) is also the 25th anniversary of another, less serious uprising, the Depeche Mode Riots, in which five people were treated for injuries.

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Southern California has hosted its share of riots; there was the San Gabriel Mission Riot in 1785, the Chinese Massacre of 1871, the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, the Cooper Do-nuts Uprising of 1959, the Sunset Strip Curfew Riots of 1966, the Black Cat Riot of 1967, the Huntington Beach Surf Riot of 1986, the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, the San Bernardino Punk Riot of 2006, the Anaheim Riots of 2012, and the another Huntington Beach Surf Riot in 2013. Some (most) were exacerbated by the authorities, and several were fueled by civil rights aspirations and/or racism. Only one that I know of was fueled by hormones, Anglophila, and ARP-2600s.



In most of the USDepeche Mode were known only as that band who sang “People are People.” 1987’s Music for the Masses only reached no. 35 on the pop charts and of its four singles, non troubled the Top 40. In Southern California, however, Depeche Mode and Music for the Masses were massive and on the final performance of that album's tour they played to an audience of 60,000 fans at the Pasadena Rose Bowl -- there biggest concert ever. The event formed the centerpiece of 101, a concert film by cinéma direct pioneer DA Pennebaker.



Depeche Mode’s follow-up, Violator, was eagerly anticipated by fans who waited three years for its release. The electro-glam single “Personal Jesus” provided a tease when released in 1989 and singlehandedly gave birth to the schaffel subgenere. It cracked the Top 40 which meant Casey Kasem and Rick Dees were obligated to play it on their chart shows, which in turn meant even kids in the heartland heard it emanating from the speakers on their school buses. 


Enjoy the Silence” reached no. 8 in the charts, at that point their highest placing yet. The stylish Anton Corbijn-directed music video was duly played on syndicated Saturday morning video shows and suddenly Depeche Mode were familiar to anyone under 30. I remember a troglodyte stand-up having a bit about how wimpy (gasp!) and pale (the horror!) they were… and probably something to about how music made on electronic rather than electric music isn’t “real” (a surprisingly common view among idiots of the day). Just don’t refer to their music as “progressive techno-pop.”




Violator was released on 20 March 1990. I bought a copy on compact disc from a music store in the Columbia Mall. I heard about the Depeche Mode riots was from a syndicated tabloid “news” show — probably either A Current Affair or Hard Copy. I remember the subtext of the report was along the lines of “How is it possible that so many kids are rioting over a band that I, a journalist, have never heard of?”



The the newscasters’ discredit, though, they probably would’ve had the same reaction had the band in question been U2, INXS, or R.E.M., but none of those stadium filling bands of the era were English and in Anglophile California there weren't just Depeche Mode fanatics but Depeche Mode clones like Cause & Effect and Red Flag. The band's sartorial style, too, was suddenly similar to that of the local “rebel” subculture which was the subject of a series of typically exploitive/concerned Chris Blatchford exposés for Fox Undercover.

Depeche Mode were scheduled to do an in-store signing at the Wherehouse on La Cienega in Beverly Grove, to promote the new album and sign autographs. Fans came from other states and in some cases camped out for four days in oder to catch a glimpse of the band. By the 20th, the line was three kilometers long and contained as many as 17,000 hard core fans. 

After 90 minutes, the LAPD shut down the event out of safety concerns. The boys from Basildon escaped out the back entrance, and hundreds of mounted riot police and police helicopters tried to maintain control. The stores windows were smashed and all hell broke loose. Aside from the five injuries, most of the wounds were of merely disappointment -- something the band and KROQ tried to soothe by giving away a free promotional cassette of an interview conducted by Richard Blade b/w a remix of “Something to Do.”

SEE ALSO: California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Watts, The Cooper Do-Nuts Uprising, and No Enclave -- Exploring English Los Angeles




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Follow me at ericbrightwell.com

California Fool's Gold's Guide to Los Angeles's Revival Cinemas

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 22, 2014 10:34am | Post a Comment
 

Hollywood Cinerama, Los Angeles, 2003 (image credit: Hiroshi Sugimoto)

No city on Earth is more closely associated with motion pictures than Los Angeles. 10% of all movie theaters in the entire country are located in California and Los Angeles County is home to over 100 of them. Although most of Los Angeles's theaters, like those throughout the country, showcase only the latest Hollywood product, there are also specialty theaters which show art films, adult films, classic films, experimental films, foreign films, independent films, revival films, &c. I've previously written about Southern California's drive-in theaters (For Ozoners Only) and overlooked commercial foreign language cinemas (Los Angeles's Secret, Foreign Language Movie Theater Scene). This is my guide to the repertory cinemas or revival houses. 

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California Fool's Gold -- Exporing Culver City, The Heart of Screenland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 17, 2013 06:24pm | Post a Comment
ALL ROADS LEAD TO CULVER CITY



Imagine for a moment that you are a contestant on the game show Jeopardy and you were presented with the answer, "This community's slogans have included 'The Motion Picture Capital of the World,' 'The Heart of Screenland,' and 'Where Hollywood Movies are Made?'" If you're like me you'd probably ask, "What is Hollywood?" with some confidence. If you did, however, Alex Trebek would make that slightly pained and disappointed expression and tell you that "the question we were looking for is "What is Culver City?" And again, if you're at all like me, you'd probably go, "Huh?" By the way, Jeopardy! has been filmed in Culver City since 1994.

Artwork in Culver City highlighting Hollywood

Culver City is, in fact, both currently and historically a major hub in the production of mainstream American Cinema (you know, the ones usually referred to as "Hollywood" films) but for whatever reason -- and despite the best efforts of many Culverites -- it has been far less successful than the Hollywood neighborhood in connecting its name to the entertainment industry in the global public's mind. In fact, I'd wager that more tourists and Angelenos associate Burbank, North Hollywood, Studio City, and Universal City with "Hollywood" film production than they do Culver City.

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California Fool's Gold -- A South Los Angeles Westside Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 29, 2011 08:54pm | Post a Comment
LETS SHOW THESE FOOLS HOW WE DO THIS ON THAT WESTSIDE

Just as Los Angeles has two Eastsides (one being the largely Latino enclave east of the LA River and the other being South Los Angeles east of the 110 and/or Main St) it also has two Westsides. One Westside is a collection of LA's westernmost neighborhoods (such as Bel Air, Brentwood and Venice) and the area's enclosed cities (like Culver CitySanta Monica and Beverly Hills).

The other Westside is the area of South Los Angeles (and the surrounding communities) that lie west of the 110, south of the 10 and east and north of the 405 (although some of those are can make the historical argument for being part of the South Bay, despite being separated from the Santa Monica Bay by miles of land and other cities). This westside, after white flight in the 1950s to the present, is also colloquially known as "The Black Westside" and indeed, it's still, as of 2011, home to most of Los Angeles's black residents and businesses despite changing demographics.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Map of South LA's Westside

The region of South LA's Westside is a large area bounded by South LA's Eastside to the east, The Harbor to the southeast, The South Bay to the west and south west, The Westside to the northwest and Midtown to the north. Definitions differ of exactly what communities constitute the region with several also claiming the South Bay and/or The Harbor. No doubt part of the reason these neighborhoods are in question are due to residents of and developers in those communities eager to disassociate themselves with South LA, which carries negative connotations for many.

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