Amoeblog

(In which Job strays, but remains Faithfull in his heart.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 16, 2008 09:10am | Post a Comment

My apartment. ...Or wait - No, this is a picture of Dresden after the bombing.

I’m looking around my apartment for a conversational starting point. My apartment is a mess right now, so there’s a lot to see:

A full hamper of clean clothes that I haven’t yet folded and tucked away.

The (amazing and important) Paul Robeson DVD box set that Criterion released. On top of that is the Nina Simone “Four Women” anthology that Charles loaned me.

My stereo, upon which some Marianne Faithfull recordings of Kurt Weill is playing.

Books everywhere, the closest of which, to me, is “Scum Manifesto” by that blithe and sparkling literary pixie, Valerie Solanas.

A drop-leaf table from Ikea that’s nearly completed construction (since February).

A computer upon which I’m writing an, as yet, trite and aimless blog.

I really should clean this place up.

You know, speaking of Marianne Faithfull, she came into Amoeba Hollywood not that long ago. Normally, when celebrities shop our store (every hour, it seems) I turn a blind eye. I don’t want to be “that guy” that demands some stranger’s time because I “feel” like I “know them” because they played some teen star’s mom on some trite and aimless sitcom.

However, when Kim and Logan came racing back to the soundtrack section to tell me they spotted the glorious Ms. Faithfull inside, I dropped everything and gave chase. I knew, from friends’ stories, that Ms. Faithfull was gracious; besides, I admire her so much that it would be an honor just to have her snub me, so I couldn’t lose, either way.

She was already descending the stairway to the parking garage by the time I found her. She heard my footsteps on the cement above and turned around – huge, black sunglasses covering her eyes. I stopped – froze. I hadn’t thought further than finding her, and now that I had, I didn’t know what to do with the situation.

She removed her sunglasses and we made eye contact. I spoke.

Speaking of speaking, I wish everyone would learn Sign Language. There’s so many instances in which it would be helpful if y’all did. When watching a movie, as an alternative to yelling across a room, when gossiping behind someone’s back, etc.

There’s a million household uses! But none of this has anything to do with music or movies or Amoeba. As you can imagine, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to speak Sign Language, working in a record store. (Sighs.)

And what does any of this have to do with Marianne Faithfull and my story? Well… urr… would you believe there’s, like, some Da Vinci Code-like clues within the above paragraph? Like, in a couple centuries, historians and code-breakers will marvel at the intricate mysteries woven within this blog’s text?
 

Would you believe that?

My framed photograph of Pope Paul VI is askew. And that Japanese import of Christine McVie’s legendary, self-titled, solo debut “Christine Perfect” isn’t going to put itself away, you know.
 

Christine Perfect. What a great name. Why would she change it? I don’t care how much she loved John McVie.

How cool would it have been for her and Marianne to do an album together? “Perfect & Faithfull” they could have been. Both of them with their rich, husky voices and cool, British poise.

Speaking of Marianne Faithfull, I opened my mouth and a gush of admiration came out, as I thanked her for the hours and hours of joy her work had provided me. She listened with a sweet and present smile, availing herself to “our” moment – a true professional, aware of her role as someone to admire.

Not wanting to keep her from her life, I quickly excused myself. I returned to the soundtrack section feeling effervescently rad.

You know, I could blog you some facts about Marianne’s life or career or something (such as the fact that she was the first woman to perform music on the Moon, or that, at age 9, she was briefly married to Albert Einstein, just before he died*), but there’s plenty of resources that do that already. I’d just assume tell you this little story and include some of her work so you can experience it for yourself.

She covered a lot of territory in her long career, so there’s a period of Marianne for most everyone. Whether you love her folksy, Anglo-Saxony, early works...

...or her tough-as-nails, fueled by junk and NYC, pop of the 70’s/80’s...

...or her gloomy, cabaret crooning of the 90’s...

...to her re-emergence as confessional popstar with albums produced by PJ Harvey, Beck, and others.

Well… I guess that’s another blog done. And I guess it’s about Marianne Faithfull, which pleases me. But it’s done nothing to help clean my filthy apartment. My filthy, dirty apartment. Naughty, naughty apartment! You’ve been bad, haven’t you? You filthy apartment.

Why am I still writing? Stop! Stop it!

*
Not actual facts.

(In which Job zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by Job O Brother, September 20, 2007 10:00pm | Post a Comment
I’m writing this blog in a race against time.

I just popped two Tylenol PM caplets a couple of minutes ago. I expect my ability to compose grammar will degrade rapidly… starting now.

The problem is that I have too much to tell you. I almost tripped over Lily Tomlin’s feet at the HBO after-party the night of the Emmy’s. (I’ve been told that these so-called “Emmy’s” are an award they give to people in the television business, but I wanna do some fact-checking on that before I present the data as true.) I also caught Glenn Close bopping her shoulders when the band began playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.

Why do you Earthlings go so ga-ga over that song?!


Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world.

The boyfriend snagged us a chauffeured Audi. This fuggin' car had red, lit-up buttons on everything. Like, even the buttons had mini-buttons on them. I was intimidated. I don't like to think the car I'm riding in is smarter than me.

At a certain point we ended up in Anna Paquin's limo and headed over to the TV Guide party, just in time to miss Kanye West. I sent Kanye a box of Violet Crumbles to make up for it. It's his favorite candy bar. For Thanksgiving last year, he assembled the entire meal - turkey, stuffing, yams, Waldorf salad - using ONLY Violet Crumbles. It was an innovative and delicious meal and everyone who attended enjoyed themselves until we suffered diabetic shock and passed out drooling stomach bile.

Okay, some of that last paragraph is untrue.

Melissa Logan’s birthday party was two nights ago. I was there after a few rounds at The Advocate’s 40th anniversary party. William Baldwin was there, and I wasn’t sure if his standing across the room and paying no attention to me whatsoever was his idea of a come-on, but what else could it have been? The poor man just can’t come to grips with the fact that I am happily committed to Corey.


Corey chatting with Perez Hilton at the party, as I try to find a cocktail that doesn't look like a parrot.

I’m already forgetting what I’ve written. The Tylenol is gaining on me.

And speaking of sleeping pills, I’ll be going to see Rufus Wainwright’s tribute to Judy Garland this Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl. If everything goes according to plan, by the end of the evening I will have goaded a gang of Judy/Liza drag queens into pummeling me. It’s an obscure fetish and I have to take advantage of every opportunity to make it happen which presents itself.

(I have another fantasy of women dressing like Virginia Woolf, stuffing me into their coat pocket, and drowning themselves in rivers. This is a very difficult fetish to enjoy and it’s almost impossible to find women who’ll do this for me. And yes, I have checked Craig’s List, but girls will draw you in, full of promises to be Woolf and I’ll drive across town only to discover that they’re actually Vita Sackville-Wests. Total mood killer.)

Which leads me to wonder what kind of oven-cleaner Sylvia Plath used?

Wait… what is this blog about again? Or is this a letter? Who are you?

I better post a distracting picture and escape before you catch on…

(In which Amoeba goes on a field trip to see Hall & Oates.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 14, 2007 11:01pm | Post a Comment

Resistance is futile - John Oates & Daryl Hall

Normally, when I get off work at Amoeba Music on Friday evenings, I rush home, remove most clothing, scold my cat for not accomplishing anything while I was gone, fix myself a salad and watch some DVD (right now it’s the original “Twilight Zone”, season 3) before attending to any writing projects I have, after which I cuddle up with my iPod and listen to David Sedaris until I either fall asleep, or the Grays abduct me for a night of cavity-probing and “Small Wonder” re-runs (they love that show).


"May I please have some Oreos and a cool glass of your DNA sample?"

However, last Friday night I was abducted in a different way.

Logan had called me earlier and asked me what I was “doing” that night and I, like a fool, said I had no plans. (My boyfriend was in Canada at the Toronto Film Festival.)

“Well,” she said, sounding particularly devious, “You’re coming with me and Karen and some other Amoebites to see Hall & Oates at the Hollywood Bowl.”

She paused then, and I think she was waiting for me to squeal with delight. Instead, I quietly waited for a punchline to what was obviously a whimsical joke. When no punchline came and I realized she was telling the truth, I started to choke.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“I think you gave me throat cancer,” I answered.

What had started as a moment of fantasy between a few co-workers had organically morphed into a large-scale field trip to the Hollywood Bowl. Karen had managed to secure a bevy of tickets and transportation. (I think she has mafia ties.)

Logan explained that she and Karen wanted me to go along and blog the event.

Why couldn’t my first assignment as an in-the-field Amoeblogger be something a little less dangerous? Like, testing SCUD missiles in Pakistan, or opening a gay bar in Tehran?

Logan was disappointed in my bad attitude. For those of you who don’t know her, she has these big, blue eyes that go all Justine Batemany on you when she’s sad and it’s more than a guy can take. So I buckled.

Which meant that, instead of spilling wayward arugula onto my knit-boxers as Rod Serling smugly narrated surreal half-hour segments, I departed work and turned left onto Cahuenga Boulevard where I saw a classic, yellow schoolbus, parked. Outside it, my boss Karen waited with open arms, like Saint Peter welcoming me to the Pearly Gates.

(Anyone who works for Karen knows she is an enthusiastic and skilled hugger. Whenever she greets you at the beginning of your shift, you’d swear it was your surprise birthday party.)

The Cahuenga Side.


Welcome to your future.


We waited at the bus as employees and their dates eventually made their way on board. Kara and I pondered the new, high-gloss, metal siding on the base of the CNN skyscraper, wondering if its new “Studio 54” make-over served a purpose other than looking like it was trying to get laid.

In the distance, the Sun set. It all sounds rather poetic, only Karen was, at this point, anxious to go. She had started her metaphorical engines an hour earlier and was in danger now of flooding.

Logan was the final animal to board our ark. What took her so long? She was doing her job, apparently. Her priorities are totally whack.

Welcome to the jungle.



A few employees watched from the sidewalk as the schoolbus of cheering Amoebites pulled out into traffic. It was kind of like leaving port on a cruise ship. A really tiny cruise ship that smelled like Hello Kitty erasers and pee.

Anyone who’s driven to a show at the Hollywood Bowl knows that it’s something akin to salmon spawning. Our driver, Nick, deftly managed the ebb and flow of cut-throat drivers which flanked our long, yellow craft, as we inched toward our destination.

En route, being at the front of the bus where all the good kids sat (i.e., old people) I only heard about the following two events:

1.) We drove past a gaggle of men all dressed as “Oates”, replete with matching mustaches and mullets. Thank God I only heard about this, because, had I actually set sight on such a thing, I would have surely perished.

2.) One of our employees mooned on-lookers from the bus window. Rumor informed me it was Jackie, but I don’t know this for certain. Even so, I’m just a blogger, not a news journalist, so let’s decide it was Jackie and write her many letters accordingly.

In the course of the evening, I would be consistently wrong about how Karen’s mind works. It was educational for me. For example:

Logan had been charged with photo-documenting the event (many of the pix you’re seeing here were taken by her). As we neared the Bowl, Logan suddenly wondered if cameras were allowed inside. We panicked, and Karen, brow furrowed, began to look around for (I thought) someone who might know whether or not cameras were permitted, so we could be certain to behave accordingly.

“That’s a good question,” she muttered. Her eyes settled on Paul Jones’ baggy pants. “Who can we hide that [camera] with?”

It’s not the only time that evening when her sense of responsibility proved more mutinous than maternal.

Whether or not she’s following the rules, she’s certainly always following her heart. Our intimidated bus driver must have been pleasantly surprised when Karen offered him a ticket and invited him to join us for the concert, which he did.

Once our group left the bus, it was every man for himself. Like retarded homing pigeons, we checked and re-checked our tickets, trying to find our seats. I imagine it’s what first-time customers go through upon entering Amoeba.

The group had splintered, but we eventually made it our corner of the Bowl. Some came laden with concessions. Karen had brought the only survival gear I needed: bottles of wine. Logan and I selected a bottle of Californian cab-sav (“Ooo, March – that was a very good month for wine!”) and were happy that the person who was carrying the cups hadn’t made it to us yet, because it gave us an excuse to drink straight from the bottle.


My one-man jug band.

The opening act was The Spinners. They shuffled out onto the stage in matching, yellow-and-glitter suits that would be the envy of every middle-aged woman in Florida, circa 1989.

They began singing the National Anthem, and when I automatically stood to join in, Logan and Amoeba manager, Alyssa, got all embarrassed – like I was making some kind of spectacle of myself. When the rest of the audience also stood, I had the last laugh.

“Stand up and sing, you Commie finks!” I snickered.

Some Amoebites even knew the words, though I think most would have proved better versed in a round of “Don’t Stop Believin’”.



The Spinners. Right round, baby, right round.

The Spinners proved to be a sweet but confusing act. Didn’t most of the members die? Who were these young bucks singing the key parts, anyhow?

Their dance moves proved tame in the extreme, and one couldn’t help but wonder if their break-dancing had been tailored to keep them from break-hipping. Even so, anyone who knew and appreciated the history of the surviving members were jubilant. Some Amoebites audibly sighed and swooned when a new song began, and there was some ecstatic arm-waving going on.

The Spinners were temporarily upstaged by a lone man who crept into the Amoeba area for a… nap?




A nap. Everywhere around us there’s screaming and dancing and general Dionysian behavior, and this dude plopped next to cashier Jessie and proceeded to nod-off!

My theory was that he was the husband of some Hall & Oates fan; as his wife got tipsy on Zima and Trader Joe’s chocolate-dipped cotton swabs, reveling in the soundtrack to her glory days in college, he escaped her slurring, lip-glossed laughter in search of some peace.

Instead, as soon as he was asleep, he was surrounded by tittering Amoeba employees who proceeded to pose for photographs next to him, like he was a costumed character at Disneyland.

“Look, Mommy! It’s the Sleepy Husband of Hollywood Bowl!"




Between these antics and the half-bottle of wine I’d sucked down, I was laughing so hard that my spleen began cracking. And it was only the opening act.

During intermission, Logan and I braved the concession stand. I was still reeling with unpleasant high school flashbacks from the bus-ride over, and waiting in line for a tray of over-cooked food sent me into a mild anxiety attack. Faced with paying something like $699.00 for a lackluster Caesar salad, I panicked and ordered two hot dogs.

Now, normally I don’t eat pork because it’s not Kosher and my Rabbi would not approve. He’s already annoyed with me for not being Jewish. But hot dogs were the only item on the menu that I could afford without taking-out a small loan from Washington Mutual, so I went for it.

Once I was faced with the… “food”, I was temporarily confused. Was I really supposed to eat this? Like, with my mouth?

Logan laughed hysterically as I grabbed three handfuls of mayonnaise packets. (In my experience, few things are so distasteful that enough mayo can’t transform it into a culinary delight.)



Logan eats the hot dog... I eat the Logan... it's a circle of life.

Back in our seats, we began force-feeding ourselves. I donated my second hot dog to Alyssa, who’s blood-sugar had dropped so low she was starting to confuse the ushers with picnic baskets. I was afraid she might try and open one of them.


Look! Up in the sky! ...It's Daryl Hall!


Hall & Oates opened with “Maneater” and there was much rejoicing. Oates had shaven off his trademark mustache, and I think it was a while before anyone knew who he was.







I have to be honest. I’ve never been a fan of Hall & Oates, but I am a HUGE FAN of people rocking out and having a swell time, so I was well entertained. One thing I can never make peace with, however, is a 1980’s pop-song, sax solo.

I hate the sax solo. When it finally fell out of fashion, along with Reaganomics, I heaved a hearty sigh of relief. I don’t know why it bothers me as much as it does; it strikes me as some intentionally bland bridge between catchy pop coasts, and I always think a song could be improved by cutting it out. Imagine my horror when Kenny G did exactly the opposite.

I mention the sax solo because, more so than Oates, a purple-clad sax player dominated the evening’s concert. It was he, and not the headlining duo, who walked out into the audience to enthusiastic spectators; like some pied piper, collecting throngs of coked-out forty-somethings and leading them to a land of saxophone nirvana.



Note the purple-clad sax player looming above me. 'Nuff said.

I would have barfed, but I had drunk a lot of wine, and I needed those calories.

We laughed, we cried, we shouted and doubled-over as Hall & Oates played their hits and, every once in a while, snuck in a song they weren’t sick of.

When they played their closing song, we kept clapping – everyone smug in their assumption that they would eventually give us an encore in the form of “Private Eyes”. It never occurred to us that…

Lights up.

Huh? No encore? What…?

Show’s over.




The natives began to grumble. Admiration gave way to ire as the hundreds of people unified in a feeling that they had been short-changed by not hearing “Private Eyes”. As for me, it was one less opportunity to endure a sax solo, so I was cool.

I barely remember the walk back to the bus. I was, by this point, drunk, as were the people in charge of leading us back. There were moments of desperation as our one large group began to lose each other in increasingly small cliques, and I had flashbacks of “Sophie’s Choice”.

I was one of the first groups to make it back to the bus, along with Karen and Logan and Nick, the bus driver, which was no small relief.

Karen offered our bus driver some wine before thinking better of it.

Finally, everyone except Paul Jones was accounted for. Those of us who know Paul felt assured that he was not only okay, but had probably swindled his way into some celebrity’s limo and was smoking reefers in a Jacuzzi overlooking the Hills. But some kind-hearted (if naïve) co-workers felt we should wait and make sure Paul was safe.

When he was finally reached on a cell phone, he was already long gone from the Bowl. I hope the limo ride was smooth, Paul.

The ride back to Amoeba was as loud as the concert. The back of the bus regaled us with a confused sing-a-long of songs so random, it would cause an iPod shuffle to freeze.

When we pulled up next to our beloved store, there were some cops parked there, and Karen urgently began to quiet everyone down. After all, we don’t want the police investigating us. Once she got the bus silenced, she announced:

“Now let’s hear it for our bus driver, Nick!”

Everyone cheered, and once again I realized I was wrong about what Karen had been thinking.




Everyone poured out of the bus and began hugging. Drunk on wine and good times, I plodded home.

My cat hadn’t folded a single piece of laundry.

(In which the author celebrates our Nation's independence.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 7, 2007 10:53am | Post a Comment

The Boston Tea Party. (What - no Massachusetts-sized scone?)

It was the Fourth of July, which I recently learned is some kind of holiday? I dunno. Something about a “united” something-or-other; I guess it’s about, like, this one country where they killed a bunch of British people by making tea in the actual sea (I’ve tried this myself and let me tell you, there is no amount of cream or honey that will overcome the fishy flavor) and gave out blankets to native tribes… or am I confusing that with the day we celebrate our ancestors surviving a hard winter by eating Stove Top stuffing and hiding eggs under kids’ pillows for money?

Whatever. In any case, my boyfriend Corey, our friend Lisa, and good ol’ Logan of Amoeba Music fame, decided to mark the occasion by seeing “Transformers” at the Cinerama Dome (right across the street from Amoeba).


For those of you lucky enough to not live in Los Angeles, you are so unlucky that you don’t get to watch movies at this theatre. I am totally spoiled, and happily pay the outrageous fee for the experience. Reserved seating, witty/snide employees, no commercials before the previews, and none of those (insert whatever cuss word you think has the biggest punch here) SLIDES that propose stupid questions like:

“Which action film did Bruce Willis star in as a New York cop named John McClane?”

a.) Agnes of God
b.) The Little Mermaid
c.) The Little Mermaid, Part 2
d.) Die Hard


Really – if someone is dumb enough to find this trivia challenging, they probably can’t read to begin with, so they’re wasting everyone’s time!

I mean, (and I’m digressing into one of those ‘when I was a kid’ moments right now – best to just skip ahead) I remember entering a darkened movie theatre and just… reveling in the hush; the stillness of it. It was like entering a church. And then there was the excitement of hearing that first “crackle” that let you know your film was about to begin. That was terrific!

Nowadays you’re constantly faced with commercials and fake radio stations that play whatever Top 40 crap the major corporations are trying to convince you is worth the insulting price they’re charging for their tired product.

“Clap your hands if you prefer Diet Coke to regular Coke!”

What?!

I already spent half my paycheck on a medium popcorn! Leave me alone!!!

(Author takes a moment to catch breath and remember what the point of this blog was… …is.)

Oh yeah… “Transformers”.

I had a real good time. I thought it was entertaining. I also thought it was… a minstrel show. That is, every person of color was outrageous and comical and met the “entertaining” stereotypes of today, whereas every person in the film that saved the day or fell in love was not only beautiful, but beautiful and white.


"G-G-G-Golly! That choo-choo just transformed into a r-r-r-robot!"
(One of many scenes from "Transformers")

But I didn’t turn to this film for cultural enlightenment, so I’m not particularly outraged. Movies like these are, after all, less about the political agenda of the studios and more a reflection of target markets – so we only have ourselves to blame for what we see.

The final half hour is bewildering, and I think most people will leave the theatres feeling as though the Decepticons weren’t the only things to be obliterated – the flimsy plot was, too. Again, not that I expected Dostoyevsky (from what I hear, he was a GoBots man) but the moviemakers perhaps gambled that we, the Audience, would be so hypnotized by the action that we wouldn’t notice gaping plot-holes. Well, we all noticed, but in the end, didn’t care.

This climax, a super-violent war between cars and aircrafts in which old landmarks are demolished and crowds of people rush around in terror and confusion, takes place in downtown LA, so admittedly, it took a while before I realized it was supposed to be significant, rather than just a panorama of a normal day in the Garment District. Those of you who don't live here won't have this problem and should be sufficiently thrilled.

The film smartly turned to some deft dialogue, mostly featured in the first third of the film, centered on the lead actor’s family. It was like they hired Woody Allen as a script consultant for that segment. But don’t worry, mallrats, the overwhelming bulk of dialogue was your standard fare of Hollywood clichés and shallow, moral posturing.


"I know we're on the edge of complete annihilation but could I, like, see your boob?"

Corey, who went in with high expectations, left furious; I, who hoped only to feel him up at some point during the film, left surprisingly satisfied by the spectacle.

As far as action goes, this film doesn’t come close to matching the original, animated “Transformers, the Movie”, which is very simply one of the most hyper, battle-heavy films ever made. The fact that my generation survived it while sucking on Pop Rocks and discovering Jolt Cola is testament to… uh…

…Something, I suppose.


The Original. (Check out Optimus Prime's package! Whoa!)

I remember, when the first film came out, the schoolyard was buzzing with rumors that it contained the word “Shit!” Never had my class been so excited about grammar.

If you’re gonna see the new “Transformers”, see it on the biggest screen you can find, with the most friends you can gather, and with the lowest expectations you can muster. You’re bound to at least chuckle while you roll your eyes.

And if you’re like Lisa, Logan and I, you will drive home slightly paranoid that the car you’re driving may, at any moment, reconfigure itself into a giant, sarcastic robot.

The Strange Case of the Jimmy Dean Doll

Posted by Job O Brother, June 11, 2007 12:06pm | Post a Comment
Something I didn't discuss in my blog about our trip to 29 Palms was Logan's unaccountable fetishism of a James Dean doll she purchased at an Amoeba Music auction*. With each passing day, she seemed to become increasingly devoted to this figurine.

At first, it was a funny prop with which to take our pictures. No harm in that.
But then she started taking snapshots of James around the house, or landscape pictures. The final photos here are ones I took when she was simply playing with the doll, unaware that someone was watching her.

I'm considering staging an intervention...


STAGE 1: Fun & Games





Stage 2: Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Melissa Logan, Melissa Logan





Stage 3: Whatever Happened to Baby Logan?





*Every Saturday, Amoeba Music Hollywood holds charity auctions in an effort to raise funds for various causes, such as environment improvement and aid for the Gulf Coast. These are usually hosted by the hilarious Brently Heilbron, who keeps things moving at a brisk and funny pace. Chances are you will discover some rad trinket that you suddenly can't live without, and it's ridiculous how cheap you can buy them. Best part is, all the money goes to deeply sexy causes.

Auctions are every Saturday at 4:00. Bring your rent money.
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