Amoeblog

Movies for Mother's Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 10, 2015 08:02am | Post a Comment
Mary Cassatt After the Bath (circa 1901)
Mary Cassatt's After the Bath (circa 1901)

The American Mother's Day was invented by Anna Jarvis in 1905, when her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her mother's death proved the inspiration for a holiday and by 1908 others joined her in this macabre celebration.

After five years of dedication to her obsession, Mother's Day was first observed in West Virginia in 1910. Although writing "I love you" on a post-it note would be more meaningful, by the 1920s consumers dutifully purchased pre-made Mother's Day cards from the Hallmark corporation. Disgusted by this perversion of her crazy vision, Jarvis unsuccessfully tried to kill Mother's Day. 

Whatever you do this Mother's Day, please don't spend $17.95 on a Spring Multicolor Floral Infinity Scarf, $24.95 on a Bronze Metal Birdcage Lantern Wall Decoration, or $29.95 on a Coral-inspired Jewelry Tree. Instead, take her on a hike, go for a swim, eat a type of cuisine neither of you've ever had before, go to the ballet... or watch one of these films.
*****




Mother (마더, Bong Joon-ho, 2010)


Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)



Mildred Pierce
(Michael Curtiz, 1945)

The Top 10 Shoegaze Bands of All Time, or, The Godlike Genius of Shoegaze

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 20, 2015 06:11pm | Post a Comment
I'm still buzzing from the Ride show at the Warfield. "Cool Your Boots" has been running through my head non-stop for a week (although there was a break, at least in my sleep, when I had a dream which involved listening to Cedric Im Brooks). Since the show I've been listening to a lot of shoegaze (and a little chimp rock -- anyone remember that?).

Long sleeves, stripes, and androgyny
Long sleeves, stripes, and androgyny -- the alternative was San Diego Sizzler Chic

I've also met a couple of people since getting back from San Francisco with whom the subject of music arose. Two of them were on their way from Coachella to Brokechella and were talking about "soul" (in the sense that Maroon 5 are soul, I suppose) act, Fitz & the Tantrums. No one had heard of Ride or had the haziest notion of what shoegaze means. When I told them that Ride had played at Coachella they looked incredulous. 

Ride rolls into the Warfield -- and their thirteen most massive tunes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 13, 2015 10:42am | Post a Comment
I'm currently down in San Francisco (well, Richmond actually) to see Ride play. Ride, for those keeping score, were the best of a crop of bands known way back in the early 1990s as shoegazers. Like most British bands that survived into those dark years of the mid-1990s, when a collective craze for slow motion guitar solos and untucked shirts overcome white Britannia, Ride too went horribly wrong (i.e. Britpop) in the end before calling it a day in 1996. They only released one bad album (and it was awful) but then Andy Bell formed Hurricane #1, a truly horrendous (way) sub-Seahorses audition for Oasis. Bell went on to play in Oasis and then that other Liam Gallagher band who can't have been all bad as they covered World of Twist's "Sons of the Stage." 



Ride band


This is all a roundabout way of saying that the prospect of a Ride reunion made me, understandably I think, rather nervous. They released a clutch of fantastic EPs, three great albums, and only one steaming, stinker -- but it was their final album, and a direction Bell pursued with his following bands so would he insist that Tarantula haters like myself got it wrong and try to prove his point by subjecting audiences to "The Dawn Patrol" and "Starlight Motel" or worse, "Just Another Illusion"? All of my fears were put to rest when I listened to them play a short set on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," which included five songs from their brilliant debut, Nowhere, and its equally classic follow-up, Going Blank Again. They sounded great. I meant to dust off my old Ride T-shirt with the mud stains and holes but perhaps wisely forgot (it's really holey).
Ride band

Shoegazers were sometimes criticized for hiding their lack of songs behind walls of feedback... but listening to "Morning Becomes Eclectic" for the first time in fifteen years as I waited for Ride to play I was treated to a barrage of forgettable, tuneless, garblers in Native American headdresses singing whoa-oh-oh-y car insurance jingles (or at least that's what it sounded like to me). You know, Coachellacore or the stuff that plays during Spotify ads when sensible users remove their earbuds. Ride, on the other hand, wrote some of the tightest (I'll never use that word again to describe music, I promise) melodies, sang the pretties harmonies, channeled The Byrds, Love, and Buffalo Springfield, and then added a healthy squall of guitar noise that make me wonder why all the "nu-gazers" are so bland and limp (...oh yeah, Slowdive). 
Ride played at Coachella the other night, apparently. They're playing at the Warfield tonight. They're playing in Pomona at the Fox Theater tomorrow. 

A San Fernando Valley Playlist

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 23, 2015 03:33pm | Post a Comment
So the bad news is that I missed out on CicLAvia — The Valley. Cream Soda (my bicycle) was in the shop (nothing serious) and I was dog-sitting on the Eastside. I thought about bringing and walking the dog there but they’re not allowed on Metro buses or trains and there were further complications too that I won’t get into... so I ended up having breakfast at Din Tai Fung and exploring the trails of Ascot Hills Park

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's water color map of the San Fernando Valley
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's water color and oil paint map of the Valley


I am glad that so many people went and enjoyed it (hopefully getting some use out of my guide to the event) and that so many people seem to have discovered that the Valley, like everywhere else, is much more enjoyable when not seen from behind the wheel of a car. I also decided to capitalize on Valley Fever by making a Valley playlist. 

Postcard of the Valley in the 1970s
Postcard of the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s

The songs on this playlist cover the 1940s to the 1980s, which are good bookends for the Valley's period when it was a largely Anglo collection of suburbs and Cold War industry. The Valley today is much more urban and much more (predominantly even) Latino. It's also diverse, with large populations of residents with ancestral origins in Armenia, China, El Salvador, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Palestine, Persia, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and elsewhere. I welcome any suggestions but it would be especially great to have some that reflect the Valley identity of the last 25 years. Let me have them in the comments!

15 American Pop Hits That Aren't in English

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 23, 2015 10:00pm | Post a Comment
In the United States there is no official language and in roughly 18% of American homes, one of hundreds of languages other than English is primarily spoken -- all of which, unless they're indigenousshould be considered "foreign languages." In Los Angeles, everyday you can hear pop songs on the radio in Cantonese, English, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, and Vietnamese and although I often find that pop music is better when the lyrics are unintelligible, only a handful of pop songs in a language other than English have made the journey onto the pop charts -- here are fifteen (or so).


Harry Choates - Jole Blon



Harry Choates's "Jole Blon" (1946, French
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