Amoeblog

Father's Day (contains spoilers)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 20, 2010 09:16pm | Post a Comment


It's a Hallmark card not yet writ

Continue reading...

Photographic Memory, Part 1

Posted by Job O Brother, September 7, 2009 01:17pm | Post a Comment

"Please conjure sheets of paper to come floating out of the laundry basket below"
The author, circa 1996

I have recently come into possession of my adolescent photo collection. There was, for a period of about five years, a time when I owned a fetching Ricoh camera which had been given to me by a rad woman whom I lived with on a mountaintop commune on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She used to regale me with stories from her years as a hot-shot publicist, and explained to me which lines from David Bowie’s “Drive-in Saturday” had been written about her by the Thin White Duke.


Were these claims true? Who knows. But it did distract me from the profound and crippling nervous breakdown I was experiencing at the time, fuelled in part by excessive use of ecstasy as a means of spiritual enlightenment and by living with my then step-father who made such helpful suggestions as, “Maybe you have alien implants in your brain.”

“Oh, yes. Well thank you for that.”

I thought it might be fun to dip into the box and see what musical and/or cinematic associations they bring. Kind of reconsider my colorful past in terms of stuff you could purchase at Amoeba Music. For I am a salesman, ladies and gentlemen.

Let’s begin now…


Here’s a picture of me caked in drying mud on the banks of the Dead Sea. Taking the picture is my Mom, who is also slathered in earth. Supposedly there was some physical benefits in doing this, but honestly I didn’t need a reason beyond getting to rub mud all over my near-naked body. Who needs the added incentive of a health boost? What you don’t see in this picture is the gaggle of Japanese tourists shrieking with laughter as the women in the group got smeared with mud by their husbands. And what you don’t hear is that the spa where this all took place is playing Marianne Faithfull’s album Broken English over the loudspeakers. Because when you’re soaking in mineral baths and having the toxins flushed from your body, what else do you want to hear but this…


Yes, the spirit of the Essenes is alive and well on the banks of the Dead Sea.


Here’s a picture of Emilie Autumn. Emilie was famous in our hometown for a variety of reasons, one of which being that she would do things like, say, dye her skin green and wear Christmas tinsel hair extensions. This isn’t body paint, folks. This is skin dyed green, and over the course of weeks it would gradually fade away, as though Emilie were transforming from Frankenstein monster to human girl.

I spent a sizable chunk of my youth locked in Emilie’s room, smoking pot, drinking Thunderbird, eating pot, and making art with her. Music was always playing, and the most popular tunes were (in no particular order):














After being best friends for three years, Emilie and I began having sex, which made the next three years of our relationship a more stormy affair. Her creativity extended into ways of breaking my heart and I finally stopped talking to her. She was one of the great loves of my life and a part of me will always be in love with her. Green skinned or not.

Aw... More to come!

The Wisdom of Teeth: Part II

Posted by Job O Brother, July 22, 2009 05:27pm | Post a Comment
Vicodin.

(Wherein we weigh which warble wears weather well.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 8, 2009 03:11pm | Post a Comment

The last few days in LA have been kind of gloomy – gloomy by LA standards anyway. I mean, it’s still no place for Ian Brady and Myra Hindley to stage a killing spree, but the clouds have been thick, grey and low, and wet, cool swirls of breeze pour through my window as I write this.

This is a good thing. This is a great thing! I did not move to LA for the weather. My idea of perfect weather is something akin to a cemetery scene in [insert gothic horror film here].

Recently, I found myself at yet another pool party where Industry types multi-tasked by schmoozing while sunbathing, enjoying tropical cocktails and posing atop Danish-designed chaise lounges as the desert sun baked their copper hides; the air perfumed with herbal ointments, oils and extractions, occasionally flavored with dissipating puffs of cigarette smoke – sex was in the air and everyone was hoping to be noticed by someone they were pretending not to notice – and all I could think was, “I wish it would rain.”

Inspired as I am by the titillating tenebrous of today, what follows is some of the music I save for a rainy day. These ditties are safely tucked in a specific playlist for whenever the Sun’s obscured and the scent of moisture’s all around.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – "Dazzle
"


This song takes me back to the appropriately dark days of the 1980’s. I had just dropped out of high school my sophomore year and the world was a new and wonderful playground of drugs and whimsical fashion choices.

Whether it was holding (legally unrecognized) weddings in the graveyard at night or dropping acid on the banks of the South Yuba River, two things made these occasions sweeter: the rain, and the sound of Siouxsie crooning brooding. This song is taken from the album Hyæna (released 1984) which features Robert Smith from The Cure on guitar and keyboard. No matter what phase of my life I’m in, this album always makes me feel like a teenager again… and gives me an immediate hangover.

Kate Bush – "The Kick Inside"


This song, from the album of the same name, was the debut from English treasure Kate Bush. Because I had dropped out of high school, I would wake up bright and shining at around two o’clock in the afternoon.

My “morning” ritual was this: make a cup of Earl Grey, put on The Kick Inside, smoke clove cigarettes and drink tea until my best friend, Sadie McSweeney, arrived at the garage (I was living in a garage at the time). After she would berate me for waking up just as she was finishing her laborious school day, we would settle in and play a few games of Ace to King, an obscure card game I learned from my maternal grandmother who was once a Las Vegas blackjack dealer and housekeeper for one Frank Sinatra. (Did you get all that?)

But this album was also always played when it rained, which, in Nevada City in the wintertime, is often.

Fats Waller – "Ain’t Misbehavin’"


The fact that this song features in the film Stormy Weather is appropriate, but coincidental. It could be any Fats Waller number and it would sound sweet to me come a gloomy day. There’s something about the playful tickling of his keys that makes me feel all gezellig. Next time storm clouds keep you from jumping hopscotch outside, stay inside, put some Fats on, and drink scotch instead. I do.

Franz Schubert – Piano Quintet in A Major


This is the perfect soundtrack to daylight showers, particularly in spring. It makes everything feel fresh and I swear that this quintet actually deodorizes the air, despite its being known as the “trout” quintet.

In the provided clip, you’ll see one of the most famous recordings of the piece and one I highly recommend. There’s an informative documentary on it, too, which you can watch by clicking on the word altiloquent in this sentence.

Miles Davis – Ascenseur pour l'échafaud


Miles Davis created the soundtrack for this French film about a woman who is very sad because she’s injured herself and, as a result, must now walk very slowly. Things seem like they will improve when she meets and falls in love with a car (who could allow her to travel faster) but they find they have nothing to talk about, so they part. The film ends with the woman discovering her forehead has become greasy, so she contemplates buying some facial wash, which, in French New Wave Cinema, is the equivalent to Sandra Bullock finally finding romance. The end.

You don’t need to see the movie to enjoy the soundtrack, which is romantically depressed and sultry.

Scott Walker – "Plastic Palace People
"


Oh, Scott. Lovely, lovely, Scott Walker. Scott on a rainy day. Nothing more needs be said here.

Anyway, whatever you listen to, stay dry, drive safe, pray for earthworms and don’t over-do the marshmallows on your cocoa. People die from them, you know. Like, all the time. They have too many marshmallows in their cocoa and they f**king die. The end.

(In which we consider the mystical & tragic Judee Sill.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 29, 2008 12:25pm | Post a Comment

Last night I was mugged at gunpoint. The perpetrator not only made off with the $560.00 in cash that I was carrying (which I had intended to deposit today) but he knocked me down to the ground and kicked me hard enough that he left a nasty bruise in my ribs before he made his getaway on a magic, chocolate-colored Pegasus.

None of which is true, but it is a rather exciting way to begin this week’s blog entry, isn’t it? Except that, by lying to you, I have now risked alienating you emotionally, because you will now think twice about trusting what I tell you, even if it’s about how much I like that top you’re wearing and how to sets off the flecks of color in your shimmering eyes.

Speaking of violence and the romantic visage of your enduring beauty, I know some of you haven’t yet heeded my advice and investigated one of my most favorite balladeers of all time: Judee Sill.
 

Judee Sill conducts herself well.

Judee’s story is one of tragic darkness, from which sprung gorgeous and sage songwriting. She was the Billie Holiday of the “Laurel Canyon sound.”

Influenced more by Johann Sebastian Bach than her 1970’s rock ‘n’ blow contemporaries, methodical composition such as fugue-structure, and over-dubbing of her own voice into chorale-style, inform her heart-wrenched post-hymns.

Her father and brother both died when she was a child, and her mother re-married to Kenneth Muse, an animator for one of my least favorite cartoons of all time, Tom & Jerry. (I mean really, the way that mouse antagonizes that poor cat, who very naturally fights back – both by his nature as a felis catus and in defense of Jerry’s cruelty – only to be downtrodden every time. What kind of message does that send to children? BE A BULLY. That’s what it tells ‘em. And then poor, sensitive, fat kids like me get the brunt of it. And all I ever wanted was to love and be loved. Is that so wrong?!)

[Insert sound of Job sobbing here]

Judee left her dysfunctional home (I imagine her stepfather probably lured her head into a mouse-hole and bopped her face with a mallet) and hit the road for a life of free-wheeling druggery and armed robbery. She developed an addiction to that precocious li’l drug we call heroin. In order to pay for the habit, she prostituted herself (which almost certainly prepared her for a life as a professional musician).

She honed her skills as a keyboard player while serving time in jail for fraudulent check writing, and, as she found herself with some soul to spare after kicking smack, she decided to write music.

She had early success selling compositions to other groups, such as The Turtles, who covered her song “Lady-O.”



She was signed by David Geffen, who was then developing his new Asylum Label, and toured as the opening act for Graham Nash and David Crosby. Her self-titled, debut album was produced by her ex-husband, Bob Harris (who also produced Joni Mitchell’s superb effort Ladies of the Canyon).

While critics gushed praise for her work, sales remained low and, after some snarky comments about Geffen and his sexual-orientation (he was not yet out of the closet), Judee was given the bum’s rush, after only producing two albums. (Don’t rush to assume she was homophobic, though, as she was known to fancy the ladies herself.)
 

EEEK!!! I just now experienced my first earthquake ever! That was some ride. Now I understand what all the hub-bub is about. A giant silver crucifix just fell off my shelf and knocked the } ] key out of my laptop. Anyway, friends and family outside LA, Fangs and I are fine, just a little shaken-up (har har har!).

Silver crucifixes are also apropos when pondering Judee Sill, who sports one on the cover of her debut album. She was deeply interested in the occult and Christian mysticism. Some people, considering her lyrics, assume she was Christian, as Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is a reoccurring theme, but her appreciation was esoteric, not dogmatic. (Though it is worth noting that she was baptized by Pat Boone in his swimming pool.)

"Don't worry - I'll save you!" Christian pop icon, Pat Boone

After losing her ties with Geffen, Judee rode a downward spiral into obscurity. Rumors circulated of her death. So much so, that when she actually did die in 1979 from a cocaine overdose, it surprised people. She had seemed to die twice.
 

Cover art painted by Judee

To our good fortune, in 2005, Water Records produced a two cd compilation of unreleased demos, studio recordings, and live video footage of Judee, titled “Dreams Come True.” Jim O’Rourke provided the mixing.)

Judee’s music holds a place so dear to my heart that, while I’ve often been tempted to blog about her, I’ve never felt up to the task. I simply can’t do justice to the ecstasy she evokes in me. (That’s also why you’ve never read any blogs by me regarding Scott Walker.)

Anyway, check her out if, y’know, you’re into gorgeous, haunting music that makes your heart ache and pierces your soul. Otherwise, check out some Warlock Pinchers. They’re fun.
 






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