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Amoeba Hollywood World Music Charts

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 3, 2009 12:57am | Post a Comment
Since I skipped October’s World Music bestseller chart last month, I decided to make a comprehensive chart that includes the best sellers for both October and November.

1. Poncho Sanchez - Psychedelic Blues
2. Shakira - She Wolf
3. Bomba Estereo – Blow Up
4. Rodrigo Y Gabriela –11:11
5. Bebel Gilberto – All In One
6. Gustavo Cerati – Fuerza Natural
7. Mercedes Sosa – Cantora
8. Aventura – Last
9. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - Echos Hypnotiques Vol. 2
10. Buika - El Ultimo Trago

Both Poncho Sanchez and Bomba Estereo had recent successful instore performances at Amoeba Hollywood and their chart positions reflect that, with each of them coming in at number one and three respectfully. Shakira was a no-brainer at number two, as people have been waiting for She Wolf since rumors of its release over the summer. Her chart position is a cumulative number based on sales of the import version and the domestic release. Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Bebel Gilberto, Gustavo Cerati, Aventura and Mercedes Sosa continue to sell well into December. Wow, can you believe it is December already?

Here is a chart just for the month of November:

1. Bomba Estereo-Blow Up
2. Shakira-She Wolf
3. Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou-Echos Hypnotiques Vol. 2
4. V/A -Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-91
5. Buika–El Ultimo Trago
6. Rodrigo Y Gabriela –11:11
7. V/A - Panama! Vol.3
8. Poncho Sanchez -Psychedelic Blues
9. Bebel Gilberto –All In One
10. Eydie Gorme Y Los Panchos–Cantan En Español

Soundway Records has two new compilations on the charts. At number four is Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-91, which comes in a two CD set or a five LP set with tracks not available on the CD. I have to say the LP set looks mighty impressive and I just might have to drop some bones for that one. At number seven is the third volume of Panama! Series, which I have dropped some money on and it was well worth it. The Panama! Series seems to get better with each volume.

Buikas latest, El Ultimo Trago, is a tribute to the great Costa Rican/Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. Buika's tribute comes from all the right places. Not only can both singers interpret songs like no other (mostly singing songs traditionally meant for men to sing for women) but both are open with their sexuality, as Vargas has been out for many years and Buika is bisexual. Chavela calls Buika “my black daughter” and says, “She has the most amazing and personal voice I have heard in many years.” El Ultimo Trago is also a collaboration between Buika and Chucho Valdes, the infamous Cuban pianist, who I compare most to Herbie Hancock as far as diversity in compositional skills and arrangements. With Chucho's guidance, Buika is able to bring to life all the classic rancheras and boleros that Chavela has made popular since her first recordings in the early sixties.

Some new releases to watch out for December are Manu Chao’s two CD/one DVD live album, Baionarena, Alejandro SanzParaiso Express and Draco Rosa’s Draco.

LADY GAGA IS LATEST TO ADDRESS HOMOPHOBIA IN HIP-HOP

Posted by Billyjam, November 23, 2009 05:01pm | Post a Comment

More than any other popular musical form, hip-hop is perhaps the most consistently (and often apologetically) misogynistic and homophobic genre in all contemporary pop music. This is something that Lady Gaga speaks about in the video clip above, taken from an interview with host Touré from on On The Record, that will broadcast later tonight (Monday, Nov 23rd at 9pm) on Fuse TV.  Of course, this is not exactly breaking news to anyone No Homowho listens to popular rap, but it is nonetheless refreshing to hear a high profile person address homophobia in popular rap music. This is something that encompasses recurring anti-gay lyrics in songs and also the whole "No Homo" obsession, popular within hip-hop circles for several years now, whereby the words "NO HOMO" are instantly said aloud by a person right after they utter  something that might possibly be construed as "gay sounding." This two word statement absolves them from the ultimate crime (of being perceived as "homo"). This "No Homo" subcultural movement even spawned its own fashion line that includes the "No Homo" baseball cap (pictured).

In her interview, Lady Gaga, as always, is very supportive and defensive of her large gay following. When pressed by Toure as to which high profile homophobic hip-hopper she is referring to, she won't say. Truth is that it could be a great many rappers out there. But more than likely it is 50 Cent who she is referring to, since recently on the Angie Martinez radio show Fitty in a mocking derogatory tone referred to the scheduled Lady Gaga and Kanye West Fame Kills tour as the "gay tour." (the tour got cancelled due to Kayne's VMA outburst combined with lackluster advance ticket sales). This is the same rapper who in Spin magazine a few years back opined, "In hip-hop, there’s certain standards of things you can’t do. Being gay isn't cool -- it's not what the music is based on." Of course, many, including anyone within the so-called "homo-hop" subgenre of hip-hop, would argue that such a notion is nonsense. But, despite the growing numbers of queer rap artists, this hip-hop subgenre remains mostly a totally separate (and underground) world, and one that does not generally crossover into popular rap. Simply put, while most of the rest of popular culture has at least superficially embraced gays, it looks like it is still a ways off before popular hip-hop will accept its first openly gaHeavy D & The Boysy rap star.

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HOMOHOP'S ROLE WITHIN HIP-HOP: JUBA KALAMKA INTERVIEW

Posted by Billyjam, July 7, 2009 12:12pm | Post a Comment
Juba Kalamka
     Juba Kalamka performing at Amoeba Music San Francisco's recent Pride '09 in-store celebration with Pick Up The Mic stars. Also performing were JenRO and Dutchboy (6/25/09).
All photos from the event by Kaitlin Layher


Juba Kalamka was recently part of the Amoeba Music San Francisco in-store Pride '09 Celebration, which was also a DVD release party for the seminal "homohop" documentary Pick Up The Mic. Juba, along with fellow Bay Area queer rap artists JenRO and Dutchboy, who also performed that day at the Haight Street store (view all the pictures here), is one of the many talented stars of the must-see, Alex Hinton directed film. Although the film first screened a few years ago, it is only very recently available on DVD.

In early 2000 Juba Kalamka (aka Pointfivefag), along with Tim'm T. West (aka 25percenter) and Phillip Juba KalamkaAtiba Goff (aka Lightskindid) formed Deep Dickollective (D/DC), which also featured member Ralowe Ampu (G-Minus). The seeds for D/DC were sown a year earlier after Kalamka and West met at Stanford following a 1999 screening of black gay filmmaker and scholar Marlon Riggs' film Tongues Untied. I personally first heard of and met the guys from D/DC about a year into their career, and, most impressed with their hip-hop skills in combination with their refreshing take on a genre traditionally drenched in homophobia, I invited them to be included on one of the Amoeba Music Compilations.

No sound no tell, Gay Cinema in the silent era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 31, 2009 12:12pm | Post a Comment

Frederic Lord Leighton's Flaming June

June, in addition to being Vision Research Month, Fireworks Safety Months, Light the Night for Sight Months, National Candy Month, Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, Cancer in the Sun Month, Dairy Month, National Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Pest Control Month, Safety Month, Scleroderma Awareness Month, and Zoo and Aquarium Month, is also Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, first established by Bill Clinton back in '00. Therefore, I may in the coming weeks blog about iced tea or become aware of Scleroderma, but for now I will focus on Gay Cinema.

One of the first things I noticed about gay people's feelings toward Gay Cinema is that they're almost all negative.  Exceptions are usually foreign films, which are almost invariably downers. The first year Amoeba observed Gay and Lesbian Pride month in the movie department in the form of a display, we all had an uncomfortable chuckle about the unfailingly depressing storylines of the films we featured. Films based on the lives and deaths of famous gays like Joe Orton, Brandon Teena, Oscar Wilde and James Whale all ended tragically. And here I thought gay meant happy!


The history of Gay Cinema is quite unlike most minority driven alternatives to Hollywood. Unlike American Asians, blacks, Latinos and Natives -- whose identities have always been fairly obvious (except in cases of passing) -- gays have always had the option of remaining invisilble. Therefore, gays were never required to sit in the back of the bus, attend special schools or live in segregated neighborhoods. In the silent film industry, most gay actors understandably chose to hide their identitites. Though there are few overt representations of homosexuality in silent films -- mostly in European films -- most are merely hinted at. More importantly, however, the contributions of gays both in front of and behind the camera are many and noteworthy.


In 1895, Irish celebrity, genius, comic, dandy and second-most-read author in the English language, Oscar Wilde, was arrested on charges of "gross indecency." On the stand, he eloquently defended his position:

      "The love that dares not speak its name" in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a      
      younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his
      philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep 
      spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like     
      those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in
      this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as "the love that 
      dares not speak its name," and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is
      fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it
      repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the
      younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world
      does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it."

The courts were unmoved and Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor, which destroyed his fame and person. Given the climate of the time and the relative ease at concealing their sexual orientations,  Gay Cinema was, in most cases, coded and subtextual for many years. In the US, depictions of homosexuality were forbidden in by the censors. Thus there would be no minority-serving alternatives along the lines of Asian-American Cinema or Black Cinema for decades to come. As a result, what is Gay Cinema is much more up for debate in a way that other minority cinemas are not and arguing about what/who is/isn't gay seems to be practically a pastime.

     

Then as now, Hollywood was full of gay and bisexual actors such as William Haines, Edmund Lowe, Lilyan Tashman, Alla Nazimova, Charles Bryant, Clifton Webb, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Louise Brooks. In order to keep up appearances, many paired up in front marriages, sometimes with straights and other times with gays of the opposite sex. For the most part, many were widely known to be gay or bisexual within Hollywood.



A few gay actor made no efforts to hide their preferences. Tallulah Bankhead, for example, was one of the few actresses to live her life completely out of the closet, bragging that she bedded Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford. But most actors stayed in the closet for their own safety. When an actor's homosexuality was too well known, violence often resulted. When William Haines and his boyfriend Jimmy Shields were too obviously gay, they were attacked by an angry mob. Minority gays seemed to have it twice as bad. Luis Antonio Damaso de Alonso not only had to anglicize his name to Gilbert Roland to be accepted within Hollywood, he also married a woman in order to maintain his commercial appeal as a "Latin Lover." Another Latino actor, Ramon Novarro, ended up being beaten to death.



Gays behind the camera were uninteresting to celebrity worshippers and therefore mostly ignored by scandal rags. As a result, they often went to less trouble to hide their homosexuality than those in the public eye. Gay directors of the silent film era include Edmung Goulding, F.W. Murnau, James Whale ("The Queen of Hollywood"), Jean Cocteau, Mauritz Stiller and the completely uncloseted, butch Dorothy Arzner. That's not to say they didn't sometimes run afoul of scandal. Gay director George Cukor was arrested at least once on vice charges, although his connections got them dropped and the scandal rags said nothing of it. Few risked depicting homosexuality overtly, instead relying on subtle gay subtexts that went past the offendable. Nonetheless, there is evidence that some of their careers were impacted by knowledge within the industry of their homosexuality, with several finding difficulty sustaining careers despite their commercial viability.


1890s
Some argue that the first gay film is 1985's Dickson Experimental Sound Film, directed by William Dickson. It's also the first known sound film. The film depicts Dickson playing "Song of the Cabin Boy" whilst two men dance. Some have argued that there is no actual suggestion that the dance partners are meant to depict a couple but, "The film depicts Dickson playing 'Song of the Cabin Boy'," and it does, in its seventeen seconds, include more homoeroticism than the entire Philadelphia. In Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet, he asserts (without citation) that the film was known as The Gay Brothers although the term "gay" was rarely used to refer to homosexuals in the Gay '90s.


1900s
I don't think reading L'éclipse du soleil en pleine lune as gay actually requires much in the way of mental acrobatics. Not that it offers much in the way of overtly sympathetic portrayals of homosexuality, just a camp chuckle and some amazing pre-CGI special effects.


1910s
Some have suggested that Alice Guy-Blaché's Algie the Miner depicts the first obviously gay character. I would argue that he's merely a sissy, an archetype not always associated with homosexuality as it is now. In A Florida Enchantment, characters ingest magic seeds which turn them gay for comedic effect.



When Sweden's Mauritz Stiller (himself gay and best known for Sir Arne's Adventure) directed Vingarne, he depicted the first overt and non-comedic gay (and bisexual) characters. Commissioned by sexologist Magnus Hirschfield, Anders als die Andern followed a few years later as a protest against the infamous Paragraph 175. After stirring up controversy, it was subsequently restricted to audiences in the medical profession.

Algie the Miner (1912), A Florida Enchantment (1914), Vingarne (1916), Anders als die Andern (1919)

1920s
Germany ruled the gay roost in the 1920s, thanks in part to the atmosphere of the Weimar Republic. Mikaël was Carl Theodor Dreyer's adaptation of the same novel that had previously been turned into Vingarne. Alla Nazimova purportedly requested that Salomé's parts be entirely cast from gay performers. The resulting film, a highly stylized, decadent visual feast, was a financial flop.

   

Salomé (1923), Mikaël (1924), Jean Cocteau, fait du cinema (1925), Gesetze der liebe (1927), Geschlecht in fesseln - Die sexualnot der gefangenen (1928), Die büchse der Pandora (1929), Das tagebuch einer verlorenen (1929)

In conclusion, whilst gay actors and directors may've kept all things gay hidden (for the most part) in the silent era, it's hopfully obvious that they nonetheless played a considerable role in advancing all aspects of film as an important art, paving the way for everything from the cult, gay experimental films in the early sound era to the mostly not-worthy-of-a-raised-eyebrow gay films of the present.

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BLACK FAG & BLACK FLAB KEEP BLACK FLAG'S LEGACY ALIVE

Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2008 06:00am | Post a Comment

And the best current Black Flag tribute band award goes to Mimosa Beach, CA based Black Fag who are currently in the midst of their state-wide I Caught Henry Kissing Santa Claus tour with dates this week including at The Exit in Fresno on Thursday, Thee Parkside in San Francisco on Friday, 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley on Saturday, and Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo on Sunday.

At these shows Black Fag, who are comprised of Liberace Morris (vocals), Greg Streisand (guitar), Cher Dykeowski (bass), and Robo Simmons (drums), will be doing enthusiastic covers of such Black Flag classics as "TV Party," "Six Pack," and "Wasted." And perhaps they will be joined at some of these shows by their backup dancers: Raymond Pettiboner, Joe CarGucci, and Bugger.

According to Black Fag's pink backdrop MySpace, their story began back in the small town of New Hope, PA. "Singer Liberace Morris was raised in neighboring Doylestown, but found a home among New Hope's thriving gay community. He worked at a vintage clothing/toy store while pursuing musical theatre at the Bucks County Playhouse at night. One night after Pippin rehearsal, Liberace came home to find his boyfriend in bed with another man. While drowning his sorrows at the local watering hole, The Raven, Liberace started singing and playing Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" on the piano. The rest of the bar simply ate it up until the end of the song, when Liberace stood up and started hblack faghaphazardly hurling martini glasses around the place. He was permanently ejected from The Raven and convinced that his life was officially over." 

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