(In which we actually exist!)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 18, 2014 02:05pm | Post a Comment
elvis presley youngadolf hitlerjimmy hoffaletterman jacket
Was (Not Was?): Elvis Presley, Hitler's brain, Jimmy Hoffa, the author

You guys, I’m not dead. I know – like I’d ever get that lucky!

It’s been around 8,888 years since my last post here on the Amoeblog (give or take 8,888 years), which begs the question: What have I been doing?

Well, maybe it doesn’t beg the question. Maybe it just prompts you to politely inquire so I don’t feel unwanted and insecure. I’ll take it! Beggars can’t be choosers.

Actually, that’s not factual. Beggars can be choosers. In fact, it’s in a beggar’s best interest to consciously prioritize a great many things the rest of us FANTASTICALLY WEALTHY people take for granted.

For example: I’m often faced with a choice between whether I want to buy organic cilantro, versus non-organic cilantro. While I normally prefer organic produce, cilantro raised without chemical black magic is, in my experience, always filthy – and not “Oh, this potato needs to be rinsed first” dirty; organic cilantro requires a scrubbing akin to a Karen Silkwood workplace shower, which the culinary herb’s delicate leaves do not endure well.

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Sanae Ponce's Mother Lily's Passing Inspired "Graffiti Against Cancer" Benefit

Posted by Billyjam, October 9, 2012 06:05am | Post a Comment
The sad reality is that cancer is something that many of us can directly relate to; having either lost someone close to us to the deadly disease or else know of someone who has been diagnosed with or died from cancer in its many forms. This year in the US alone a total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases will be diagnosed with a projected 577,190 deaths from cancer predicted by the end of 2012!

Among those to die from cancer this year was 47 year old Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (aka MCA) whose death five months ago followed the artist's three year battle with salivary gland cancer. His shocking death further reminded hip-hop fans of the disease that can strike out at anyone at anytime. Four years ago 30 year old hip-hop artist Camu Tao died following his two year battle with lung cancer. This year his friend/musical collaborator El-P dedicated the acclaimed album Cancer 4 Cure on Fat Possum to Tao's memory. Two years ago Guru of Gang Starr died from cancer related causes. Everyone affected by cancer deals with it in their own way. In the case of San Jose writer Sanae Ponce, who lost her mother a few months ago to cancer, she decided to organize the Graffiti Against Cancer benefit series of fundraising events that will be happening at various galleries throughout the Bay Area later this month. For such a large scale project Ponce is not working alone. "Marito El Nicoya is my right hand man through all this. He's from Cali as well. His family is from Nicaragua. Mario Guitron is also a big part of this event, he's been helping us with the itineraries for these events," Ponce told me when I caught up with her this past week to ask her about her mother, the benefit series, and what folks can do to participate in this timely worthwhile event, that will pass along all proceeds to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

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Benefit For Letha Rodman-Melchior Cancer Fund with Hank IV, Musk, & Bill Orcutt @ Hemlock in SF, Weds Feb 29th

Posted by Billyjam, February 27, 2012 08:35am | Post a Comment

In what has become an all too familiar scenario in our current challenging economic era, with rising health care costs, that so often even basic medical insurance doesn't cover, yet another indie musician has fallen seriously ill and cannot cope with the resulting mounting medical bills. In this instance it is Letha Rodman-Melchior - the partner (both marriage and musical) of Dan Melchior who was diagnosed with cancer and, over the past year, has been both fighting the cancer and struggling to pay for needed treatment and a series of operations. As her husband Dan noted back in November,  "Her insurance is running out on Dec 1st... She has already had to have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of treatment, and it is only due to the kindness of the music community and other friends that we have been able to keep going." More help is desperately needed. Already there have been benefit concerts held around the country set up to do just this. And this week in San Francisco there is one scheduled for Wednesday (Feb 29th) at the Hemlock on Polk Street with sets from Hank IV, Bill Orcutt, and Musk featuring members of Killer's Kiss and Tractor Sex Fatality.

Many in the indie rock community are already familiar with the North Carolina based Letha and her husband Dan Melchior. Dan is recognized as one of best songwriters in his field; having  released records for such labels as Siltbreeze, In the Red, Hangman, S.S., and  Daggerman. Many know him from playing with his bands the Broke Review and Das Menace, as well as Billy Childish and Holly Golightly. Meanwhile Letha, who contributes to a lot of Dan's record jacket art/design, is a member of Tretetam and Das Menace, as well as been a former member of Ruby Fall. Since she got diagnosed with cancer she has been unable to work, with Dan becoming her caretaker as well as assuming all cost of living expenses through his indie music income. Bottom line is that these good folks need help,

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It's Hard to Ignore the Poignancy of Camu Tao's Posthumously Released Song, Death

Posted by Billyjam, September 15, 2010 10:00am | Post a Comment
Camu Tao
The new album track "Death" from the late Camu Tao includes a refrain with him singing in a pleading tone, "Death! Where have you been all my life?" It is hard to ignore the poignancy of these passionately sung lyrics by the artist, born Teru Smith, who passed from lung cancer two years ago. It seems like, in a morbidly dark and humorous way, the Ohio born artist was taunting his pending death, which struck him down on May 25th, 2008, a month before his 31st birthday, following a two year battle with cancer.

Although Camu Tao had recorded albums with other artists (including S.A. Smash, Nighthawks, and Central Services), the recently released King of Hearts (or Death, Where Have You Been All My Life? as it was titled at the time of his death) was to be his long awaited solo debut. Signed to the Def Jux label, the album would not have been released had Def Jux's main manEl-P (also his partner in Central Services) not gone ahead and released it in its current, raw sounding form via Fat Possum Records, since Def Jux isn't putting out records right now (even El-P's own recent solo WeAreAllGoingToBurnInHellMegamixxx3 was released on Gold Dust Media).

Camu Tao "Death" (Fat Possum/Def Jux 2010)

King of Hearts is a really good album but by no means is it a hip-hop album, and even former fans of the alternative hip-hop circles that Tao worked in (including Ohio's MHz crew, Weathermen, & the Cardboard City collective) couldn't get into it. As one recent online comment succinctly summed up: "A lot of people been hatin' on this album." Those haters no doubt would be the disappointed hip-hop fans who, much like the disgusted Bob Dylan folk fans who hated him going electric, balked at the fact that the artist sings his way through most of the 16 track rock sounding album. In fact, it isn't until CD track number 10 (the title track) that he raps at all. The lesson here is don't judge someone by their past work or their musical affiliations; rather, listen to the music for itself. Unfortunately, since he didn't live to record a follow up, we will never know if this was merely a temporary detour from hip-hop or not.

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(In which we consider Patricia Neal.)

Posted by Job O Brother, August 9, 2010 02:41pm | Post a Comment
Patricia Neal

Yesterday saw the death of one of my favorite actresses, Patricia Neal, from lung cancer. A belief in Heaven might be comforting at this point, but for myself, I can’t help but think this planet got a little less awesome.

Neal’s performances have always struck me as profoundly internalized. The women she portrayed often seemed unwilling to betray their true feelings, and it was Neal’s ability to stay true to this, while at the same time radiating their deeper passions, that make her an endlessly rewarding study. I find I always want to see how she would play a role, given the chance.

Neal’s most famous roles were as the female lead, Helen, in the 1951 production of The Day the Earth Stood Still, and her performance as Alma in Hud, for which she won the 1963 Academy Award for Best Actress.

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