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The Radio Geek's Guide to American Public Radio

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 9, 2010 05:00pm | Post a Comment
I recently saw a petition to get the US government to fully fund PBS and NPR. Now, I'm sure the writers of this petition have nothing against other public radio producers, NPR's competitors Pacifica, PRI and APM. All compete for airtime against each other and locally produced material, as well as foreign public radio producers BBC and CBC. What they have in common is that they rely primarily on listener support rather than commercials.


Commercial radio station WYNX's Bill McNeal on behalf of Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor™

I tend to hate metonyms. To the displeasure of many, I don't call all soda Coke, nor do I call facial tissues "Kleenex," all brands of gelatin "Jello," nor all adhesive bandages "Band-aids." If that makes me a bit like that annoying guy from "The Velveteen Touch of the Dandy Fop," then so be it. I also hate that that sketch's title incorrectly synonymizes "dandies" and "fops" but I'll save that rant for another blog.

 
                  Pacifica's Amy Goodman                                            NPR's Tom and Ray Magliozzi

 
                                 PRI's Ira Glass                                                             APM's Garrison Keillor

On Facebook there is a "What NPR personality are you?" quiz. The possible outcomes include This American Life's Ira Glass and A Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor. Neither are on NPR. So, for that tiny fraction of people who give a crap, here's the handy break-down of America's various public radio producers to set the record straight for the dozens that may care.




Pacifica Radio
Pacifica is the oldest player in public radio, established in 1946 and launched in 1949. It was founded by Lewis Hill and other conscientious objectors. Over they years, they've run afoul with the government on numerous occasions for pushing the progressive envelope. They've also garnered many awards for their unflinching coverage of topics avoided by most media outlets. I think all of their funding comes from listeners and foundation grants, not the US government. The Berkeley-based network is fairly decentralized, with most of Pacifica's 100 or so affiliate stations producing the bulk of their own programing. They do produce some nationally-heard programs, including:

Democracy Now!Free Speech Radio NewsFrom the VaultInformativo PacificaSproutsExplorations and Flashpoints.




National Public Radio
NPR is far and away the best-known public radio producer. It was established in 1970 to replace and absorb the content of the earlier National Educational Radio Network, founded in 1951. NPR is based in Washington D.C. and is carried by 797 public radio stations. With its Opera and Baroque programs and frequently creaky-sounding newscasters (Daniel Schorr is 93!), many of the stereotypes about public radio listeners as tweed-jacket wearing, polite, boring intellectuals owe to the confusion of NPR with all public radio. Programs produced by NPR include:

All Things ConsideredMorning Edition, Weekend Edition (Saturday and Sunday)Talk of the NationFresh AirCar TalkJazz ProfilesNPR World of OperaThe Thistle & ShamrockWait Wait... Don't Tell Me!On PointThe Diane Rehm ShowLatino USAJustice TalkingOn the MediaJazzSetOnly a Game, Piano JazzSays You!Sunday BaroqueWorld Cafe and Engines of Our Ingenuity.




Public Radio International

Minneapolis-based PRI began in 1983 as American Public Ratio. They changed their name to PRI in 1994. They also distribute BBC and CBC in the US. Their motto is "hear a different voice." Indeed, the sound of PRI is instantly recognizable to the radio nerd. PRI receives funding from station fees, corporate underwriting, listener support and corporate grants. Less than 2% of their funding comes from  government agencies. PRI tends to cater to a hipper, younger, more cosmopolitan set, with many on-air personalities having voices that just don't sound NPR-ish. Case in point: the love-him-or-hate-him Ira Glass. PRI programs include:

This American Life, Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?To the PointThe WorldAmerica AbroadAfropop WorldwideAsk Dr. ScienceBob Edwards WeekendCapitol News ConnectionCrossing EastEchoes, Here and NowJazz After HoursLiving on EarthMusic from Chautauqua, Pittsburgh Symphony OrchestraRadioWestThe Record ShelfRiverwalk JazzSelected ShortsSound & SpiritThe Sound of Young AmericaSounds Eclectic, Studio 360The TakeawayTo the Best of Our Knowledge and Zorba Paster On Your Health




American Public Media
APM is the second biggest American public radio distributor after NPR. It's also the newest, established in 2004. APM overs a diverse range of program like PRI but differs from them in that APM produces and distributes almost all of its own programs to 780 public radio stations. APM began in 1967 as a Collegeville, Minnesota classical station. It gradually grew to operate 42 stations in the Upper Middlewest, California and Florida, making it the largest operator of public radio stations. The most recognizable voice is the somnambulistic timbre of Garrison Keillor, whose whistling nostrils are not only heard on APM's flagship A Prairie Home Companion, but also on The Writer's Almanac. Other programs include:

MarketplaceAmerican MavericksAmerican RadioWorksAmerican RoutesComposers DatebookFuture TenseMinnesota OrchestraPerformance TodayPipedreamsThe Saint Paul Chamber OrchestraSaint Paul SundaySound OpinionsSpeaking of FaithThe Splendid TableThe Story, and SymphonyCast.

If your local public radio station(s) don't carry your favorite programs, you can always listen to them online. In addition, some of the biggest successes have been packaged on best-of CDs.


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It's Cheaper Used: Classic and Out-of-Print Goth & Industrial Titles in Stock at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Aaron Detroit, June 9, 2010 05:03pm | Post a Comment
Looking to stock back up on some dark classics? Maybe looking to try something you overlooked long ago? Well, if you’re a fan of classic Industrial or Goth, or just looking to be adventurous, we’ve got some great deals on some hand-picked, used and out-of-print titles for you in our little dark corner of the Goth/Industrial section at Amoeba Music Hollywood*.

Front 242 Tyranny >For You<
Ten years after the group’s genesis, Front 242 released their most commercially successful album with their 1991 major-label debut, Tyranny >For You<. Though not as solid as the band’s 1988 essential Front by Front , Tyranny is a relentless and charged slab full of EBM bangers including “Moldavia,” “Tyranny (for You),” and the club hit “Rhythm of Time, “ which some may recall from a memorable scene in the 1992 camp classic film Single White Female. The album has surprisingly aged very well and sounds pretty damn great nearly 20 years later -- the slow-burn “Sacrifice,” the minimal pulse and melodic sway of “Soul Manager,” or the chaotic blasts of hidden track “Untitled” (there are 3 unlisted ‘hidden’ tracks here –every bit as intense as the rest of the album). Listening to this album now, really makes me wish some youngins would mine these sounds again. Tyranny >For You< is currently out of print on CD but Amoeba Music Hollywood has it in stock used for just $4.99!*



The Creatures Boomerang
Siouxsie and Budgie returned to The Creatures in 1989 after putting the project on hold 6 years prior as The Banshees' popularity sky-rocketed. Boomerang was the result of sessions in a secluded barn in the capital of Flamenco music– Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. The album was probably The Creatures' most successful and includes some of their most well known songs, such as “Standing There” and “Pluto Drive.” Boomerang sweeps between dark breezy exotica with heavy brass arrangements to minimal bluesy crawls to the more atmospheric and chilly. The CD is out of print, but Amoeba Hollywood has several used copies in stock now for just $9.99*




Skinny Puppy Twelve Inch Anthology
A singles collection of sorts or an early ‘Best Of’, Skinny Puppy’s out of print 1990 compilation Twelve Inch Anthology brings together several tracks from their multiple ‘80’s 12 inch EPs. It includes full extended versions of “Dig It,” “Addiction,” and “Testure.” The jewel of this compilation, however, is the Tom Ellard-assisted remix of “Assimilate,” easily the best version of one of the band’s best songs. The collection highlights my favorite period of Puppy and nobody since has quite as successfully combined the sinister with the psychedelic and the groovy like Puppy. Amoeba Hollywood has several used copies of this now-deleted gem in stock for just $9.99*




Nitzer Ebb That Total Age
Relentless pounding and floor-filling aggression are the sounds to be found on this 1987 classic debut from the DAF-inspired Brit duo Nitzer Ebb. Punkish in attitude, That Total Age features the monster club hit “Join In The Chant,“ as well as the beloved, shouted singles “Let Your Body Learn” and “Murderous.” The band lost their way down the road, but this album remains a strong piece of work over two decades later. Amoeba Hollywood has used quantity of That Total Age in stock for just $7.99*.


*prices listed are valid for a limited time only and quantities are limited.

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Thai Town

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 5, 2010 01:23pm | Post a Comment


Both apsonsi and LADOT signs mark the entrances to Thai Town


This entry is about the Los Angeles neighborhood of Thai Town. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities not technically part of Los Angeles, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

 

         Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Thai Town (with no attempts made at scale) 
    
                                  Siam Square

Thai Town is roughly boundried by Hollywood Blvd on the north, Normandie on the east, Western on the west, and Sunset (or Fountain by some accounts -- although there's nothing Thai south of Sunset) on the south. The neighborhood is home to about 46 Thai business, including markets, clothing shops, massage parlors, bookstores and a seemingly ever-growing number of delicious restaurants. Hollywood Boulevard is the main commercial and cultural center of the neighborhood although there are businesses of note on Sunset as well.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Chinatown

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 6, 2010 06:00pm | Post a Comment
FORGET ABOUT IT, JAKE


Rooftops of Chinatown



Cathay Manor (where I've wanted to party since moving to Los Angeles
A quiet street in Chinatown


Chinatown (洛杉磯唐人街) is Los Angeles neighborhood located just north of downtown. To vote for other neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here.



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What is the deal with Somalia?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 26, 2008 01:35pm | Post a Comment
Somalia in the news
If you're like me, you may feel like the media only provides confusing, fragmented glimpses into what remains, by and large, an obscure part of the world that makes regular appearances in the news regarding (usually) famine, war or piracy. And yet, the newscasters seem perfectly content to repeatedly ask, "What's going on?" and "Why do they kill us when we bring aid?" and (most inexcusably stupid) "Aren't pirates a thing of the past?" Yet they seem content merely to ask and never to attempt an answer. So, in the face of another wave of gawking, 30 second snippets provided by the news, here's my humble attempt to shed a little light on the region; one where long-simmering tensions and colonialist pressure have caused the Somali people considerable strife and difficulty for centuries, with no hope of apparent change in the future. And yet, I hope the music and cultural bits I've thrown in will provide a balance to all the misery.


Introduction
Somalia's history (and the horn of Africa, for that matter) for the last few centuries has been a familiar history of extreme hostility and violent retribution. Begrudging neighbors are made pawns of European powers and played against each other with suffering resulting on all sides. Somalia, whilst one of the only countries with only one ethnic group, has never very unified. Originally the Somali people organized themselves on the coasts of the mostly barren country in tiny city states (and later, after conversion to Islam, Sultanates). 


Tubeec & Magool

Ancient Beginnings

In ancient times, the region was widely known and valued by its neighbors, from China to Rome (who referred to the Horn of Africa as "Regio Aromatica"), for its dragon's blood, frankincense, and myrrh-- two of which were good enough for the Christ child and which remain popular commodities today. For a while, everything was apparently chill and, for centuries, Muslim Somalia maintained good relations with Christian and Jewish Ethiopia. The prophet himself commanded Somalia to never take up arms against Ethiopia... unless (foreshadowing here) Ethiopia drew first blood.
 

(Left) A giraffe bought in Somalia by Zheng He. (Right) Ibn Battuta.

Medieval Times
Jump forward a couple of centuries to early 1331. The lengthily-named Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta, a famous Muslim explorer and historian, documented the known Muslim world from Mali to China and, hence, visited the area. He wrote of Mogadishu:

     It is a town endless in its size. Its people have many camels, of which they slaughter hundreds every   
     day, and they have many sheep. Its people are powerful merchants. In it are manufactured the clothes
     named after the city, which have no rival, and which are transported as far as Egypt and elsewhere.


In the early 1400s, the Muslim Chinese scholar, Zheng He, also visited the area. He famously purchased a giraffe which he took back to China.



The Seeds of Enmity
Around this time, Ethiopia began to launch efforts to subjugate the Somali kingdoms, going to far as to execute the Somali king Sa'ad ad-Din II and establish tributary kingdoms which resulted, quite understandably, in Somali revolts and enmity toward their neighbors which is still strong. 
 

Omar Dhuule

In 1527, Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, armed with guns and backed by the Ottomans, led a scorched earth invasion of Ethiopia, attempting to force conversion there to Islam. The Ethiopians, faced with likely annihilation, appealed to the Portuguese, who sent fleets from occupied India, hoping to enlarge their comparatively tiny colonial presence in Africa. The Portuguese-Ethiopian force crushed the Somali state and the Portuguese attempted to absorb it into their empire. Instead it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.

Hibo Nuura

Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
In 1875, following Europe's abolishment of slavery, the European powers attempted to exploit Africa through colonialization. Britain, France and Italy all staked their claims and set about carving up Somalia.
Some Somali in happy times
 
In 1900, Ethiopia under Emperor Menelik II again invaded Somalia's Ogaden region. Somalia's nationalist Sayyīd Muhammad `Abd Allāh al-Hasan (called "The Mad Mullah" by the British) retook the area for Somalia... which was then given back to Ethiopia by the British in 1945 and remains a barren patch of symbolism that Somalia and Ethiopia still trade fire over.
 
Some really cheerful Somali pirates
 
Independence
In 1960, both Italian Somaliand and British Somaliand gained independence and unified as Somalia. Following independence, Somalia was fairly liberal for a short time. However, Somalia remained a state whose unity was fragile. Things quickly went south with heavy-handed dictators leading Somalia down the road of repression. In 1976, Somalia went back into war against Ethiopia over the barren, largely uninhabited, contested Ogaden region. Communist Ethiopia was backed by Soviet and Cuban troops who practically obliterated the out-gunned Somali forces. They in turn appealed to the U.S. for help but, under Jimmy Carter, America declined the offer to get bogged down in another Cold War front.


Somali street scene

Civil War & the Descent into Chaos
The weakened Somali state began to fall apart, descending into a civil war, openly encouraged by Ethiopia. Somalia's government grew increasingly totalitarian. By 1990, Somalia was under the thumb of a repressive dictatorship and suffering from a lack of resources. Somalis weren't allowed to assemble in groups exceeding three, fuel lines were long and the currency was worthless. In 1991, Ethiopia-backed clansmen toppled the government and Somaliland, in the north, declared its independence (although it's yet to be recognized by any government). The government splintered and the country, once again, descended into civil war. At this point, piracy grew rampant in the face of a powerless government. Famine resulted from the war as well and, due the volatile instability, the UN proved unable to provide humanitarian aid. The US sent in troops to secure the south. It didn't go well.


Ahmed Cali Cigal
 
In 1993, under Mohamed Farrah Aidid, fighting escalated between Somali and American troops, resulting in 1000 Somali casualties and 18 American. The foreign forces withdrew and the state collapsed completely. Mohamed Farrah Aidid was killed in fighting three years later. Since then, the country has divided along tribal and factional lines, with so-called Islamic fundamentalists attempting to impose their medieval codes through force while a central government exists only in theory and exile. In 2006, Ethiopian forces again intervened, supposedly to help the Somali government, but were mistrusted by many Somali for good reason.


Mohamed Nuur Giriig - Dayaxa idhibay Xala

Piracy

Lately the news has been all about pirates, who are discussed like they're from the pages of some 17th century adventure novel. Unlike the sex trading slavers in the Pacific or the the Disney-glorified serial rapists of yore, Somali pirates are mostly fishermen who turned to piracy in desperation and have a reputation for humane treatment and big spending. By some accounts, they treat their captives relatively well, feeding them Western food and providing plenty of smokes. The pirates, who've netted $150 million in ransom money in the last twelve months, are largely credited with turning the coastal villages they patronize boomtowns. The freewheeling, khat taking, booze swilling pirates help create, in the eyes of many, an oases of liberalism at odds with the Islamofacist-terrorized world beyond their influence.


Fadumo Qasim - Habiibi
 
Fragmentation
Nowadays (although there is on paper an official Somali government) the north is run by local leaders in the fairly autonomous states of Galmudug, Northland State, Maahir and Puntland and Somaliland. The central and southern parts of the country are run by the so-called Islamic Courts who brutally apply Sharia law to the suffering people.

Old Music - Hasan Adan Samatar
Uploaded by bishaaros

Black Hawk Down & Iman... all most of us know of Somalia

Somalia in Film and Somali Film
Not surprising, perhaps (due to the harsh conditions of Somalia), the country has produced very little cinema. Most Somali are content to watch Bollywood films and musicals like Riwaayado reflect the influence of India's film-making. In 1988, Abdulkadir Ahmed Said released the 23-minute Geedka Nolosha which won Best Short Film that year in Turin. But that's about it for homegrown cinema.

With millions living abroad, Somali's diaspora make up large minorities in cities like Toronto, London and Minneapolis (as well as neighboring countries like Djibouti, Kenya and Yemen). Therefore, it's not completely strange that the so-called Somaliwood film industry is centered in Columbus, Ohio. Out of the Midwestern town came Warmooge, the first animated Somali film, Rajo, the first feature-length Somali film and the thriller, Xaaskayga Araweelo. There, directors like Iman Abdisalam Aato and Abdi Malik Isak as well as the actress Fathiya Saleban have achieved a level of fame impossible in their homeland.
 
 
Ahmed Gacayte & Amina Abdilahi

Somali Music

To my western ears, Somali music sounds a great deal like most music in the Horn -- lurching, funky, jazzy and with a tonality that probably connotes something completely different to its main audience. And yet Somalia hasn't received the exhaustive Western attention that Ethiopia has. My guess is that part of this is because most modern Somali music uses cheap synthesizers instead of cost-prohibitive, large bands with expensive interests. Ethiopiques producer/cultural watchdog/apparent douche, Francis Falceto has already vocally criticized modern Ethiopian music for not being authentic enough for his patronizing ass so it's unlikely that he's going to embrace a group of musicians even less able to afford to entertain him with music suitably stuck in the past to please his tastes -- especially when music has been repressed and many artists have moved to London, Columbus and Toronto. 

Some of the better known artists to check out (if you're willing to accept the modernization of third world music as you do your own) include Maryam Mursal, Abdi Sinimo, skyhigh family, Waaberi Horseed, Xaaji Baal Baal Dance Troupe, Cabdillahi Qarshe, Hibo Mahamed Hudoon (Hibo Nuura), Ahmed Cali Cigal, Haliimo Khalif Magool, Mohamed Nuur Giriig, Madar Ahmed Mohamed (Madar Yare), K'Naan, Hasan Adan Samatar, Ahmed Mooge Liban, Mohamed Mooge Liban, Abdiqadir Sheikh Ali Sanka, Yusuf Jamac Ganey, Mohamed Saleebaan, Omar Dhuule, Mohamed Mooge, Ahmed Gayate, Mahamoud Mohamed Cige (Buuse), Mohamed Yusuf, Ismail Yare, Amina Abdilahi, Fadumo Qasim, Abdihakim Mohamed Warsame (Calaacal) and Hasan Haji Abdilahi (Hasan Ganey). If you don't live in a town with a large Somali population, the best thing to do is probably check out Amoeba's Somlia section.
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