By Nazeeh Alghazawneh
At least once a month an elderly woman approaches me and tells me that I remind her of her son, either in the way that I look or because of my demeanor or simply because of my age. They’re very sweet and a little bit sad but most of all, full of nostalgia, which is always more sweet than sad until you think about it too much. They love to tell me about them. These mothers love to tell me about the love they have for their sons - an unconditional, boundless love that’s familiar and intimate at the same time but mostly uncomfortable. However, I nod my head and I listen because a heart is speaking to me and that’s the best thing about mothers: they always speak with their hearts.
It’s 1979 and Japanese New Wave director Shohei Imamura releases his first feature-length fiction film, Vengeance is Mine (available on DVD and Blu-ray), after a decade of making documentaries. For 140 minutes we’re introduced to Iwao Enokizu (played by Ken Ogata), a textbook sociopath with a penchant for murdering innocent people for reasons he couldn’t explain. Based on the real life serial killer Akira Nishiguchi, the film depicts the 78-day killing spree with faithful objectivity; Enokizu’s exploits aren’t glorified or celebrated, but they are fully realized. Imamura’s camera hangs low and aloof behind our protagonist, following him with that lecherous sense of dread and paranoia that a hunted murderer on the run probably feels. Ogata’s performance finesses a presence on the screen that is volatile, dripping with an anxiety that ultimately makes you feel uneasy, but dedicated to him nonetheless. The worst part is just how charming he is. It’s a concoction of Kit’s (Martin Sheen) aimless nonchalance from Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Bronson’s (Tom Hardy) gleeful desire for violence from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. Enokizu lacks any regard for anyone in his life, including himself, which appears to fuel his desire to kill; he seems to be angry that he’s even alive.
By Nazeeh Alghazawneh
One must ponder if the nature boy Eden Ahbez wrote the lyrics to "The Wanderer" while sitting in lotus position in the famous cave at Leo Carrillo beach in Malibu back in 1960 and astral-projecting his spirit out into the pacific ocean, past the waves and into the future. Fifteen years into the future to be exact, to the floating kingdom of Japan, for it would be there in 1975 that Toei Studios would release the tokusatsu tv series Akumaizer 3, about a half human/half demon hero named Xavitan, who needed someone by his side...to defeat the evil Akuma "Devil" Clan that is!
Those two by his side would soon be none other that his super-demon goofy buddies turned good, Iburu, a yellow-dressed fancy-pants who like to blast bad guys with his famous Jo Gun, and Gabura, a blubbery water demon who seems to always spring leaks and can transform into a huge dorky ostrich-type monster. (Gabura also looks like a giant chocolate soft-serve from a Sizzler dessert station.) At the climax of every battle scene, the three heroes combine forces and use their fencing swords together (cue three musketeers theme) against the Akuma Clan.
You can be sure that when German DJ, label founder, and record store owner Gerd Janson takes you record shopping he'll have some very informative bits of insight. "It's a promo," he says holding up a 12" single of The Quick's "One Night In A Blackout." "I think you can only find the long-mix on the promo release," Janson informs us before going on to state, "it says mid-tempo disco, but I would say it's a proper slow jam because it's even below 100 BPM." Janson had a lot to say about his record picks when he visited Amoeba Hollywood recently, and we were grateful to be able to listen.
In 1998, after years spent in disco, house, and jungle clubs, Gerd Janson landed his first DJ residency at Cafe Kesselhaus in Darmstadt. These days he spins house and disco at Frankfurt club Robert Johnson's Liquid nights and travels the international DJ circuit. When he's not DJing, Janson can be found manning the record counter at his hometown store, Pentagon Recordstore, working at the Red Bull Music Academy or writing about music news for Spex or Groove magazine. He is co-owner of the Running Back record label.
This summer, Gerd Janson is DJing at parties from London to Ibiza before playing select dates in the U.S. He's a scheduled performer at this year's FYF Festival in Los Angeles. His latest release is a mix for the Fabric series, Fabric 89, due out August 19, 2016.
Janson holds up a 12" of "Visions Of China" by the UK band Japan. Were they prog rock, new wave or somewhere in between? Either way, he points out that at the time "they were kind of treated as wannabe intellectuals." Being a fan of "drums and sound effects," Janson grabbed Drums of the Caribbean: A Study in High Fidelity Sound, a collection of West Indies percussion. Also in his bag is Dept. of Sunshine's "Rude Boy/Space Tropics" single. "No one actually knows anything about them and this is the only record I've ever came across."
A group within a society that has its own shared set of customs, attitudes, and values, often accompanied by jargon or slang. A subculture can be organized around a common activity, occupation, age, status, ethnic background, race, religion, or any other unifying social condition, but the term is often used to describe deviant groups, such as thieves and drug users. ( See counterculture.)
No one will ever be able to document every subculture, or even agree upon what they are. With this series I will examine subcultures primarily organized around two things, music and clothing. That way I can largely avoid the can of worms which are gangs. For gangs, both music and clothing are of considerable importance but the engagement in of criminal activity is assumed to be their raison d'être. Also, I don't want to provoke a bunch of angry, misspelled comments written in all caps.
This week's subculture: Kogal
Kanaki Toshikage portrait of Yoshitoshi
Yoshitoshi was born Owariya Yonejiro (米次郎), in the Shimbashi district of Edo (now Tokyo), in 1839. His father, Owariya Kinzaburō, was a wealthy merchant and samurai. The identity of his mother is unknown, although Kinzaburō's mistress, apparently not wanting the share their home with the child, sent him off to live with an otherwise childless relative, Kyōya Orizaburō, when Yonejiro was about three. At the age of five, after showing interest in art, the pharmacist uncle (or cousin by other accounts) began offering the young boy art instruction.