Amoeblog

November is Native American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2008 07:19pm | Post a Comment


NATIONAL AMERICAN INDIAN HERITAGE MONTH

The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Back in 1990, President George H.W. Bush named November National American Indian Heritage Month. The purpose of the observance is to highlight the roles America's aboriginal peoples have played in the country's history. It's kind of interesting. I'd say that the main role Natives have played in regard to American history was armed resistance and reluctant subjugation. It's kind of like Israel having a National Palestinian Heritage Month, Turkey having an Armenian History Month or Sudan having a Darfur Day.

I suppose, somewhat begrudgingly, that most Natives today have come to accept the fact that America is here to stay ...at least until 2012. Furthermore, Natives have, in many cases, actually been supportive of America and contributed to her history, to be sure. For example, not only did many Native nations align themselves with the US and its colonial antecedents at various times, but they also served as really good trackers and proved to be natural ecologists who demonstrated their intrinsically environmentalist natures by using every part of the bison and coming up with 30 different names for snow.

  
                              Don't worry, I will use every part of you                                                                     Hmm... what kind of snow is this?


AMERICAN INDIANS VS NATIVE AMERICA

Now, one thing I don't get is why we're supposed to differentiate the hemisphere's various indigenous people along the present day lines of colonial-imposed boundaries. For example, why are the Uto-Aztecan-speaking Comanche and Hopi lumped in with Alaska's Aleuts and separated from their Uto-Aztecan cousins, the Aztecs, just because the latter chose to cross a then-non-existent border? It gets especially confusing when you realize that there are/were various people like the
Míkmaq, Inuit, Lingít, Niitsítapi, Cree, Algonquin, Kanienkeh, Blackfoot, Tohono O'odham and many others who lived on both sides of the future US's borders as if they weren't even there (namely, because they weren't). Though far from hegemonic, to distinguish between Canada's "First Nations" or "Aboriginal Peoples," the US's "Native American" or "American Indian" population and Latin America's "Indios" or "Pueblos Indígenas" along the lines of their colonial destructors is not only nonsensical but ignorant, at the very least, and possibly a bit racialist.


Clearly, since the presence of Mounties indicates that this is Canada, these can't be Native Americans, right?

Anyway, though the stated aim of Native American Heritage Month is to honor contributions only of the U.S.'s indigenous peoples (you know, the usual Sakajewa, Pocahontas and the Navajo Code Talkers stuff), it's not going to stop me from addressing the contributions and existence of non-U.S. Natives from the blogversation as if there's some kind of pan-Native solidarity.





*****


MANY MOONS  -  A BRIEF HISTORY OF NATIVES AND CIVIL RIGHTS

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Happy Missouri Day! - Yup, It's aready been a yurr since the last'n

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 15, 2008 12:42am | Post a Comment
MISSOURI DAY

The 3rd Wednesday of the October, this year the 15th.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Missouri


In my experience, when you'ins tell people you’re from Missouri, most people reply self-satisfiedly with "don't you mean Missouruh?" or, alternately, "where is Missouri? I don’t think I’ve ever been there."

Whether Missouri is Lower Midwestern or Upper Southern (or the Border South or, the Upland South, or less commonly today, the Yeoman South) is a somewhat common debate amongst Missourians... at least on the internet.

In my experience, Missouri's Midwestern neighbors, centered along the Great Lakes, (haters) tend to disparage Mighty Mo as a hick state whurr test scores are low, the accent is ugly and you'ins can buy fireworks, liquor and ammo... all in the same place.

Missouri's neighbors in the Deep South (also haters) usually don't consider it to be Southern because Missouri didn't side with the South in the Civil War (well, that's complicated-- thurr were 30,000 gray and 109,000 blue) and because South Coasters love to equate the entire South with just the Deep South aka the Lower South aka the Plantation South.

As far as Southern credentials go, Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, Thomas Hart Benton all seem fairly Southern, do they not? On the other hand, natives like T.S. Elliot, William Burroughs and Maya Angelou don’t so much, huh? Cultural cringe I reckon, plays a part in this confusion, as do geographical overlap and historical shifts.


The Death of Old Time Radio

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 30, 2008 12:25am | Post a Comment

THE END OF THE GOLDEN AGE

On this day (September 30) in 1962 CBS radio broadcast the final episodes of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and the Golden Age of Radio came to a close. 

 

RADIO'S BEGINNINGS 

Radio Drama (also frequently referred to as Old Time Radio or OTR) really began in the 1920s. Before that, there was audio theater which consisted of plays performed for radio broadcast. It wasn't until August 3, 1922 at the Schenectady, New York station WGY that the in-house actors, The WGY Players, broadcast a performance that augmented the drama with music and sound effects, creating a vivid aural tapestry. The result was a worldwide explosion in what was an instantly popular new art form. Within months there were radio dramas being produced across the USA, as well as in Canada, Ceylon, France, Germany, India, Japanand the UK.



RADIO DRAMA'S ADOLESCENCE 

In 1934, the anthology series Lights Out debuted and exploited many of radio's unique qualities to massive success. The program was penned by Wyllis Cooper and aired at midnight. Cooper employed stream of conscious monologues, multiple first-person narrators and internal monologues which were at odds with the characters' spoken dialog. It's most often remembered, however, for its gruesome and explicit sound effects which attempted to suggest joints being ripped from sockets, skin being eviscerated, heads being decapitated and other depictions of violence that would still be pushing the envelope, even on modern cable television programs.

  

Radio drama's most well-known moment came in 1938 when Orson Welles on the Mercury Theater of the Air broadcast War of the Worlds. Virtually everyone has heard tales about the mass panic that supposedly ensued. It turns out that this supposed reaction may've been invented by newspapers who were threatened by the radio news' growing dominance. Since there are no verifiable reports of nationwide panic, it seems that newspapers were attempting to create a moral panic to save their own skins. Indeed, how likely is it that a people used to  both radio dramas and the instantly recognizable voice of  radio drama mainstay Orson Welles would, for some reason, think that he was acting as a newsman covering a Martian invasion? If Kelsey Grammar was on TV reporting that Earth was being attacked by another planet, would you assume it was real and panic? If your answer is yes, then you are a dullard.

 


RADIO'S END

Radio drama began to lose ground in the 1950s for several reasons. Mainly, television (though around for some time) exploded in popularity and, with the novelty of a visual aspect, stole the dramatic thunder from radio (and film too), partially by dumbing down the writing and toning down the violence to broaden its audience. Many radio dramas attempted to make the transfer to television in order to survive. Often this necessitated re-casting key roles because, whilst a voice actor might've sounded the part, they didn't look it.

At the same time, music radio began to make a comeback. Forced by the 1940s writers strike to look elsewhere for music (rather than pay pop songwriters more), music radio popularized previously marginalized music forms like Hillbilly and Rhythm & Blues which grew in popularity and merged into Rock 'n' Roll. The dissemination of this electrifying new development in music was aided by a new recording format, the 45 rpm single. Now families could rock out or veg out on their own and radio rapidly lost ground before going the way of silent film and magic lantern shows.

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Bud Browne 1912 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, July 31, 2008 08:32am | Post a Comment


Last week ‘the father of surf films,’ Bud "Barracuda" Browne, the onetime lifeguard who began showing his 16-millimeter movies commercially in the early 1950’s, died in his sleep at his home in San Luis Obispo. He was 96.

Born July 12th, 1912, in Newtonville, Massachusetts, Browne began swimming competitively at age seven. He attended USC, was captain of the swim team and in 1933 ranked second in the nation as a collegiate swimmer. While working as a lifeguard at Venice Beach in late thirties, Browne was introduced to surfing. In 1938 he went to Hawaii to ride the big waves in Waikiki, taking along an 8-millimeter movie camera to film the local surfers. One his first and most prized reels of film recorded the legendary king of the surfers Duke Kahanamoku.

During World War II, Browne served as a navy chief specialist in athletics (earning the nickname "Barracuda" for his long lean look). Following the war he became a teacher in Los Angeles, working as a middle-school physical education instructor and also attended USC Film School. He upgraded his camera to a 16-millimeter Bell & Howell. In 1953, after spending several years filming surfers in Hawaii, Browne pieced together enough footage to compile a 45-minute film. Hawaiian Surfing Movie debuted at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica.

Browne eventually gave up his teaching gig and took to chronicling the 1950’s surf scene full time, releasing at least one movie a year between 1953 and 1964. With films such as Trek to Makaha, The Big Surf, Surf Down Under, Cavalcade of Surf, Locked In and Gun Ho!, Browne documented all the surfing greats of the longboard era, like Phil Edwards, Buzzy Trent, Greg Noll, Miki Dora, Linda Benson and Dewey Weber, plus the first-generation of shortboard riders, like David Nuuhiwa, Nat Young and Gerry Lopez. In addition to completing nearly 20 of his own films, he also contributed footage to other projects such as Big Wednesday, directed by John Milius, Greg McGillivray/Jim Freeman’s Waves of Change (also known as The Sunshine Sea) and their 1972 classic Five Summer Stories. In the early 1990’s Browne began re-editing some of his earlier efforts. The first project, Surfing the 50's, honed his best color footage from the eight films he produced during the fifties. That success led to re-releasing some of his other movies such as the 1963 classic, Gun Ho!.

As a surf-film pioneer, Browne had a huge influence on those who came after him like Bruce Brown (The Endless Summer) and photographer John Severson. Bud Browne was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1996. This past March, he was honored at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival for his lifetime achievements to the genre of surf films.

Here is some of Browne’s footage used in a Hamms Beer commercial from 1965.

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Spotlite on Paul Anderson

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 27, 2008 09:04pm | Post a Comment

Background

Paul Anderson is a prolific Generation X filmmaker with a trademark style and five Academy Awards under his belt. He's also made music videos for everyone who's performed at Largo. In addition to his film-making, he's dated models turned singers, singers turned models, daughters of singers and models who only sing in the shower.

Style

Paul Anderson's films are notable for their flashy style and complicated, interweaving story lines. As one of the video store generation of filmmakers, he employs a large bag of cinematic tricks, including quick cuts, constant camera movement, stunning scenery, dutch tilts, low angles, high angles and revolving pullback shots-- tricks gleaned from growing up with a VCR rather than film school learning. He frequently employs female-led ensemble casts drawn from a stock of trusted actors. Making up that group are such players as Julianne Moore, Sean Pertwee, John C. Reilly, Colin Salmon, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeremy Bolt, Melora Walters, Jason Isaacs, and Luiz Guzman, to name a few.

Themes

Anderson's ostentatious style is frequently used to elevate the seemingly mundane to epic proportions. Sometimes the point of this ostentatious streak seems merely like showing-off, perhaps an effect of Anderson's high level of film exposure but probable lack of theory. He frequently revels in the seedy underside of outwardly blissful environs. Other frequently recurring themes include constructions and examinations of makeshift families, the role of media, divine acts, secret governmental organizations and the unintended consequences of technology run amok.

Films

He made his first film while still in High School. It was The Dirk Diggler Story. It was a short mockumentary inspired by the teenage Anderson's voracious appetite for porn.

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