Amoeblog

SOUNDTRACK SERIES #5

Posted by Job O Brother, May 2, 2010 12:46pm | Post a Comment
Directions: Imagine Mr. Brother living another day, as always, with music playing. Whether it’s one of his trusty iPods, or his home stereo, or working the soundtracks section of Amoeba Music Hollywood, Mr. Brother is eating, sonically, with the mouths of his ears.

To simulate this experience, as you read the below story of a day lived, you will be given certain music clips to play. These are inserted to provide you with the same tunes Job was hearing as he was doing what you’ll be reading.

For example, while he was writing the above directions, he was listening to this:


The boyfriend and I need a lamp. Not just any lamp – something that can complete his “reading nook” in the prominent corner of our living room. It must be a lamp that won’t be diminished by our awesome Italian chair (roughly the size of my last apartment) which it will stand behind, be powerful enough to provide the boyfriend with the amount of light he likes in order to read (roughly the brightness of two suns) and, in general, should be hella rad.

So, every Sunday for the past month, he and I have set out into the deliciously temperatured* but cruelly trafficked land of Los Angeles. Armed with my trusty iPod, which I plug into his car – a Lexus with a capacity for smarts exceeding most high school students – its music gives me the fortitude to face another shopping day.


We’ve tried most everywhere: trendy boutiques, flea markets, furniture chains, thrift stores, even kept an eye out on the streets of West Hollywood where, for some unexplained reason, you can always find abandoned pieces of living room furniture. Always. It vaguely troubles me.


How can a city with so many interior designers come to this?

Anyway, last week we went to what I once knew as the Fairfax Flea Market but seems to have re-branded itself the Melrose Trading Post – ostensibly because anything with the name "Melrose" in it  attracts swarms of youths with expendable monies.

And I did find a lamp – unfortunately, not for the reading nook, rather, my desk. It was an imitation Art Nouveau affair, with an ornate, glass, tulip bulb atop a Victorian woman in neo-classical gowns actually swinging from a branch in the center of the lamp! Very Maxfield Parrish meets funeral parlor.


"I wonder if they wear clothes on other planets?"
Another smutty painting by playboy of the art-world, Maxfield Parrish

“But you already have a desk lamp!” exclaimed the boyfriend.

“Yes,” I answered, “But it only has a black-light bulb in it, and I’d like to have a little more light at night.”

“Why don’t you just put a normal light-bulb in what you already have?” he asks, his tone betraying knowledge that he’ll regret asking. But I don’t answer directly.

“I need one with a black-light and another with some other color, like red or blue.” And my eyes light up. “It’ll be so spooky!” (It’s important to know that whenever I use the word “spooky” it means for me what most people convey with words like “cozy” and “lovable.”)

After a meal of some Argentinean street food (which seemed to consist of tired spinach dragged through clear oil and dirtied with salt-less scrambled egg whites – ¿Que pasa, Argentina?) we left the flea market – me with a framed, three-dimensional picture of a Greek peasant woman, a 1950’s chip ‘n’ dip, a bullfight advertisement, and yes, a lamp I didn’t truly need – but no lamp for the nook. Back in the car!


Our next stop was the neighborhood of Little Ethiopia, where you can find some swell thrift stores. I love Little Ethiopia because the air always smells of frankincense, sweet tea spices, and exhaust.

The first store we tried had some amazing junk, and I inquired on prices for everything from a metallic etching of a celebrity rabbi (looking like some elder member of the Justice League of America) to a cross-stitched portrait of Shiva (looking like a Playgirl centerfold).


"I like cuddling in front of the fireplace and girls who believe I'm straight."

The boyfriend, seeing I was in danger of spending my rent money on antique ashtrays and politically incorrect lawn-jockeys, dragged me out before I could get a price check on a mounted, electric Jesus head…

“I at least need to find out what it needs electricity for!” I pleaded. I mean, what happens to a mounted Jesus head when you give it the power of voltage? But he showed no mercy, and we entered another shop. One that was playing this on a boom-box:


Okay, now you the reader will probably lose all respect for me, but hear me out: If you saw how awesome the lamp in the window was, you’d stop, too! I pointed it out to the boyfriend.

“Look! Ah! It’s so good!” It was a shepherd boy, sloppily and carefreeily* drinking from a huge jug, his vest and shirt permanently swept up by a summer breeze; his eyelids painted a delicate, pastel blue, his dainty feet almost dancing over a plot of grassy soil. The lamp stood at about 4 feet and looked to weigh about 1½ sea lion**. The boyfriend rolled his eyes.

“There is no way. You can’t seriously think that goes with the living room,” he said.

“No, of course not,” I answered, “But… for the Study…” (The Study is the room where I work. It’s where I keep my desk – the desk that now would have two lamps on it.)

This led to the boyfriend and I having a not-quite-argument about the necessity of having four lamps for the Study. (Did I mention the fourth lamp? It’s on my bookshelf, with the flicker-flame bulb.) For some reason it annoys the boyfriend that I could have so many lamps in one room without a single one equipped with a normal, white bulb. (Did I mention there’s also a string of blue Christmas lights I keep under the couch to provide an otherworldly glow? And two light-up beer signs on the wall?)


It's what appears over my head when I get a brilliant idea.

I will admit that my acquisition of so many light sources did seem to mock our mission of finding a suitable candidate for his reading nook, but we don’t choose who (or what) we fall in love with, and I had feelings for the electric, pastoral dude. So I bought him. That, and, an antique mirror, a Depression-glass candy dish, and a hardcover edition of Poe’s works translated into French by Charles Baudelaire.

“You don’t read or speak French,” commented my boyfriend.

Mon nom est Pierre. Je suis un médecin,” I retorted.

So, we have yet to illuminate his reading nook. But it’s Sunday again, today. I’m in the mood for rockin’ music and I'm feeling optimistic, so I’m insisting we go out shopping yet again. Besides, I have to buy some more extension cords for the Study.



*Not actually a word.
**Not actually an accepted form of measurement.

SOUNDTRACK SERIES #1

Posted by Job O Brother, April 29, 2008 11:13am | Post a Comment
Directions: Imagine Mr. Brother living another day, as always, with music playing. Whether it’s one of his trusty iPods, or his home stereo, or working the soundtracks section of Amoeba Music Hollywood, Mr. Brother is eating, sonically, with the mouths of his ears.

To simulate this experience, as you read the below story of a day lived, you will be given certain music clips to play. These are inserted to provide you with the same tunes Job was hearing as he was doing what you’ll be reading.


For example, while he was writing the above directions, he was listening to this:



So, I was at Target the other day, looking to see if Method had launched any new cleaning products (which they had – a new toilet bowl cleanser, so I was happy), when I found myself looking at the pet toy section with fresh interest.

I decided to purchase a cat laser. That is, a little plastic mouse which shoots a red laser point; the idea being that the cat will think the red spot is some kind of living, flying, glowing thing and chase it around. Not every cat registers the laser, however, so spending the four dollars was a real risk on my part. You know me, though – I live on the edge. Cat laser? Purchased!

Before I left Target, I put my courage to the sticking place and ventured into the men’s restroom. The men’s restroom at the West Hollywood Target reminds me of jail, somehow. And yes, I’ve been to jail, thank you for asking.



Everything was going well – if not for my olfactory sense. I was washing my paws. A few sinks over from me was an old man in a porkpie hat. I watched, transfixed, as he removed both his upper and lower teeth and set them on the very public, men’s restroom sink.
I quickly left. I didn’t want the janitor to have to clean up any regurgitated Vitamin Water on my account.



I walked home and fantasized about the different kinds of bold and delicious sandwiches I could make using doughnuts for bread. I’ve never actually done this, but I think about it. A lot. No matter what I contrive, however, I always come back to this fantasy of a simple glazed doughnut, cut in half, holding a few slices of warm ham and Swiss cheese. This obsession of mine is made all the more odd when you consider I don’t like doughnuts and actually hate sliced ham. For this reason, when I dream this recipe, I imagine feeding it to someone else, and watching them love it. Why do I want this to happen? I don’t understand. Sometimes I even imagine I own a restaurant, and the doughnut/ham/Swiss sandwich is an entrée. This is a long paragraph. Way too long for a blog. Unless, of course, it’s a blog entry about Guantanamo Bay, in which case, lengthy paragraphs are justified, if not because the subject matter is complex, then simply because the name of the place is so long. Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay… See how much room that took up? And I only mentioned it four times!

I’m drinking coffee right now, obviously. Corey and I stopped by his favorite café, Stir Crazy, on Melrose.



It is rad, I must say. It reminds me of the coffeehouses that dominate the northern half of the West Coast. The barista was this charismatic lass with curly locks who gushed over how soy milk bleeds into the coffee, leaving Corey envious that she could so lose herself in a moment. Meanwhile, I was studying the covers of the magazines they had displayed and doing what I always do – looking into the eyes of the cover models and trying to discern how they were “really feeling” when the photo was taken, as opposed (if opposed) to how the photographer wanted to portray them.


"Hmm... A taco would sure hit the spot..."

I just got an email from our new blog editor. You didn’t know we had an editor, did you? (This rhetorical question is meant for those of you who didn’t know. I want those of you few readers who did know to know I knew you knew, because I care about you and never want you to feel alienated. Now kiss me!)

Through her email I learned that she loves Pinkberry, which reminds me of the time I went to Pinkberry with Corey…



See, I had tried Pinkberry but Corey had not. So we went to the new location at the Farmer’s Market at The Grove. That’s pretty much the story. He got some and I didn’t, ‘cause I’m not that into it. But he liked it. I didn’t say it was a good story – only that her email reminded me of the story. Not every single thing I do is fat-with-a-ph.

Oh! I almost forgot - the cat laser? Fangs LOVES IT. Thank you for asking.

Here’s what’s playing as I’m about to save, edit and post this entry:

Whiskers on roses & raindrops on kittens: I. Overture

Posted by Job O Brother, August 5, 2007 11:29pm | Post a Comment

It was on this day in 1962 that Marilyn Monroe took her own life. Or, if conspiracy theories are to be believed, it marks the day that the Kennedy Family hired Reticulians to invade the actress’ home, kill her, make it look like a suicide, and then use snippets of her DNA to… I dunno… revive Adolf Hitler’s dehydrating brain. (I’m not as well-read when it comes to American history as I should be.)

It’s also the day that the Manson Family first killed, fulfilling the only thing possible that Charles Manson could do that would actually be worse than his music.


Ladies of the Canyon: "Gypsy", Ruth Anne & "Squeaky"

It’s also the anniversary of the day that Paul Tibbets flew his airplane, named after his mom, Enola Gay, over to Hiroshima, where he performed an act that would later be re-enacted by every Thai food delivery service that gets inside my apartment building.


"Look Ma, no mercy!" Paul Tibbets in the cockpit

I could go on. In short, it’s a particularly dark day in history. So I’m sitting with my beloved in his favorite café, Stir Crazy (at La Brea & Melrose), asking myself to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative; I’m calling upon myself to remember things – music, movies, flavors of Method cleaning products – that remind me that it is a beautiful world after all, and that Norma Jean didn't have the right idea, forty-five years ago.

The café’s stereo is playing Steely Dan, which I really like, but I can’t blog about how great Steely Dan is because my dear, sweet, wonderful boss, Karen, will fire my ass*.

And anyhow, at this point, it’s switched to Johnny Cash.

Okay… So, what makes me happy?

Lots of things make me happy, but what I want to pinpoint are those things that make me happy entirely – not distractions from modern anxiety and classical angst, rather, persons or art that overrides any temporal concern or self-consciousness and overwhelms my id with hella phat radness.

Let’s make a list. (By “let’s” I of course mean me, not you and I, as is implied by my choice of verbs, which wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but used to create a sense that you and I are of one purpose, which, because one of the fundamental needs of humans is intimacy, would ideally cause you to feel safe in the presence of my blog… you sweet thing, you.)

What follows then, is an incomplete list of proper nouns that rock my world:

1.) The Boswell Sisters.


You... shook me all night long - The Boswell Sisters

I once thought the Andrews Sisters were the bee’s knees, until I discovered the Boswell Sisters, the cat’s meow. The Andrews Sisters modeled themselves after the Boswells, and while I still enjoy a tune as warbled by LaVerne, Maxene and Patty, they do not come close to slaying me like their predecessors, Martha, Vet and Connee.

Their close harmonies are lulling yet spooky; intriguing like a walk in the woods at night, knowing that ghosts don’t really exist, but feeling as though they do. The sisters were raised in New Orleans, and you can hear the influence of early, Black American music in their vocal styling. Listening to such tunes as “Trav’lin” and “An Evening in Caroline”, it’s easy to imagine an alternate reality where Vivian Girls were used as slaves, singing work songs sounding like dirges sprinkled with fairy dust.

Connee, the middle sister, was mastermind of the group and arranged their distinctive tunes, often alternating traditionally major keys with minor ones, and vice versa.


Connee Boswell

Due to childhood health issues (which vary depending on sources) she performed and recorded either sitting, or in a wheelchair. This fact was never secret, but wasn’t an image that was promoted (kind of like that gap in Madonna’s teeth – we know it’s there but it’s not really a part of our collective focus).

Because of her “condition”, Connee wasn’t allowed to perform for the troops overseas. It was thought her being wheel-chair bound would demoralize the soldiers. (Funny, I would think it would be far more demoralizing to hand the soldiers weapons and tell them to kill people, but that’s why I’m not a commanding officer, I guess.)

After the sisters retired the act, Connee went on to enjoy a successful solo career, and while I own and enjoy the results of it, it is the work with her sisters that is the “Object of My Affection” (the title of the group’s biggest hit).

Ella Fitzgerald cited Connee as a major influence. I wish sesame bagels weren’t so fattening. Especially when slathered with an inch-thick layer of cream cheese. And Connee performed with Eddie Cantor! He’s another act that makes me happy. And she performed with Bing Crosby, whom I loathe – not only because his idea of teaching his kids not to sneak a cookie from the jar was to knock the bee-jesus out of them, but because that drunken jerk produced the daughter who would one day grow up to shoot JR Ewing.


"My Dad beat me which led me to shoot fictional Texans and wear obscene amounts of lip gloss."
Mary Crosby as Kristin Shepard on "Dallas"

Please accept my apologies for the above paragraph.

Of all the music that the Boswell Sisters recorded, no other record kills me so quick as their rendition of the Duke Ellington standard “Mood Indigo”. Upon hearing it, I literally go weak in the knees. The pace, the subtle swelling of the voices, and the labored but impetuous crooning of a lone clarinet conspire to make me woozy with delight. I recommend its use for trying to take advantage of me.

*This is a ridiculous exaggeration, written for humor, and should not be taken as a reflection of my employer’s personality, temperament, or work ethic, all of which are impeccable. But see, saying that isn’t very funny, is it?

(In which the group's adventures come to a close.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 11, 2007 09:14am | Post a Comment
Everyone awoke a little gloomy. It was our last day, and check-out time was only four hours away. Logan in-particular was not okay with this and sought out the front desk to plea our case. The result was a new check-out time of four o’clock, at no additional charge.

I’m not sure what Logan had to do to get this sweet deal; knowing her, they were probably just charmed, but that makes for a boring blog, so let’s pretend she seduced the owner’s wife, or at the very least threatened them with rad karate moves.


"Hit me with your best shot" - Logan in control

With only half a day left, the majority agreed that the best thing to do was give me a haircut.

Uh, wha...? Really? It’s that bad?

What I saw as my sexy, shaggy mop – so hip and suave was, unbeknownst to me, something akin to Eric Stoltz’ hot look in the movie “Mask”. Apparently I had been unwittingly turning Greek adventurers into stone with my mere hairdo. Who knew?


Bad hair daze: Eric Stoltz, Medusa, and me

Carrie was adamant. She was going to cut my hair. My boyfriend immediately switched to publicist mode, yelling demands and controlling events from his chaise lounge. “Short!” he kept shouting, “Short… short!”


BEFORE: Carrie assesses the situation


The Master Hair-stylist can adapt to any situation


Beauty and the Beast

My own opinions were merely tolerated as flights of fancy. I had been reduced to a pre-Suffragette woman with hopes of one day earning a living for herself, winning the right to vote, or at the very least, opening her own door without being seen as a dangerous lesbian.

“All I want is a room of my own,” I implored, “Or a beer and a smoke. Get me a beer and a smoke!” I transformed into a high-maintenance star. I demanded fresh, cold bruskis and lit cigarettes. Logan, who photographed the event, became my unwitting slave.

“I want music!” I howled.

“The turntable’s in the living room,” Logan explained.

“Then move it into the kitchen!” I screeched. I reasoned I could afford to be so petulant, because I had subjected myself to the group’s desire to convert my coiffure. Suddenly, the cliché roles of Hollywood celebrity-versus-production company made new sense to me. They wanted to use me as a product; as such, my body/mind must succumb to their vision, the payoff for which is the need to keep me happy, lest I sabotage everything.

It’s a circle of life.


AFTER: Apparently I gained 15 pounds during my haircut

To her credit, Carrie gave me what I honestly believe to be the best haircut I’ve e’er had.

(For the last six or seven years of my life I have cut my own hair. I began doing this out of spite. Every time I went to a barber, I would carefully and clearly explain what I wanted, then they would proceed to do whatever gruesome scheme had been dictated them over the night by the dog down the street. Hair by Son of Sam. And for this I would pay money. Actual money! Finally I snapped and refused to stay in such an abusive relationship.

“I may well f**k up my hair by cutting it myself,” I reasoned, “But at least I won’t be paying for it, too.”)

After the styling, Corey couldn’t keep his hands off me, which is exactly the sort of behavior I encourage.


"Get that camera out of my love life!" - Job & Corey, post-haircut

The four of us milled around our beloved bungalow and lamented losing it. The time came to pack and we did. It was the first time in three days we had to do something we didn’t want to do, and we were little, whinny, crybabies about it.

Logan spoke of returning to Los Angeles as though she were being returned to Guantanamo Bay.

With heavy hearts and a loaded car, we left 29 Palms. We set course for an hour-long detour through scenic Joshua Tree. Carrie took it upon herself to play DJ with my 80-gig iPod, causing sonic whiplash as she segued from “Miss Clare Remembers” by Enya to “Nasty” by Janet Jackson.


We stopped along the way to take photographs. At some point during the shoot, Logan and Corey spotted a rattlesnake relaxing nearby. At the exact moment they announced this, I was snapping a picture of Carrie, and the face I captured is hilarious! But to keep her from deleting it, she made me promise not to post it. Let me tell you, you are missing out. But a promise is a promise and you won’t see it here on my blog.

HOWEVER, send $17.00 and a blank t-shirt to me, c/o Amoeba Music Hollywood, and I will make you a “Carrie reacts to news of a rattlesnake” t-shirt; destined to be a collector’s item and quite possibly the end of her friendship with me.


Christine McVie & Stevie Nicks... oh wait, it's Logan & Carrie.


"We'll build the next Amoeba Music on that rock, there" - Logan & Job

By the time we made it through the desert, night had fallen. It wasn’t long before we were once again engulfed in neon lights and acres of strip-malls.


This is what a Manager of Amoeba Music looks like. Apply within.

We stopped at In-n-Out Burger. Carrie and I could have sworn we saw a customer order “peppers” and receive some from behind the counter. She and Logan were also wowed by my fries, which I had ordered “animal-style”, an option they weren’t aware existed. I also order my double-double “protein-style”, which is sans-bun for those of you not in-the-know. It led to us pondering what secrets In-n-Out still has.

“What other options are there?” we wondered. Could I order my milkshake “Full House” and receive it with an autographed 8x10 glossy of a nude John Stamos?

Dude… that would rock...


[Insert a few minutes of silence here as the author ponders this, before sudden embarrassment snaps him back to reality.]

Logan was beginning to suffer from her recent sunburn, but gallantly drove us the whole way, cashing in on that private-reserve of stoic determination that God bequeaths all Daughters of Sappho. We played games of 20 Questions the whole ride home.

(I was unjustly ridiculed for some of my answers, dear reader. You would be horrified to learn of the way my fellow travelers abused me during this game. It was inevitable that my best friend and my boyfriend, meeting on this vacation for the first time, would eventually join forces against me. It was cruel, oh my brothers, so that even the Angels would weep for my soul as it was tormented by my friends’ total poopy-facedness.)

It’s moments like now that make having a blog so worthwhile.

Logan and Carrie dropped Corey and I off at his home, and we said our good-byes.

The next day, Carrie and I rendezvoused one last time for a brief shopping stint on Melrose, then we walked to Amoeba, where a taxi took her away from us. John Doe was playing an in-store, but even that couldn’t lighten Logan or my heart.

Huge, grey storm-clouds appeared and began drizzling. Babies cried, and mothers went out in a vain search for food. Men stood in unemployment lines, as cattle died of disease. Stock markets crashed and World Trade Centers crumbled again and again. French fries turned cold. In short, all was lame.

Until ten minutes later when I began watching season two of “The L Word”.

The end!