Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Rosemead, Today's Small Town America

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 1, 2008 06:35pm | Post a Comment

This installment of Eric's Blog takes us to Rosemead. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for a Los Angeles County Community, vote here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Map of Rosemead, California 
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Rosemead


EARLY HISTORY

First, a bit of background on the City of Rosemead. As is proving to be true of everywhere I go in Southern California, the area which now makes up Rosemead was formerly inhabited by the Tongva for thousands of years before the
Spanish came. I'm considering just saying in regards to my posts about Southern California, "Unless I say otherwise, this area was inhabited by the Tongva for thousands of years before the Spanish came." Anyway, the Spanish did come and built a mission there in what's now Whittier Narrows. Due to flooding, they relocated the mission to its current home over in San Gabriel in 1775.

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Happy Valentine's Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 14, 2008 12:51pm | Post a Comment

      

It's Valentines Day. Pshaw! A Hallmark Holiday, you say. Singles Awareness Day, another jokes. I guess every holiday has its Scrooge. I have my Ngoc-Thu. My friend Nick Pinto would gripe about Valentine's, Christmas or (especially) 4/20. He doesn't need holidays to legislate his behavior. And yet his love of Halloween never once carried into the rest of the year. Why not don a Boba Fett costume and go door-to-door stating "Trick or Treat!" in March, you rebels? Despite what cynics claim about the supposed commercial origins of Valentine's Day, the oldest known association of St. Valentine's Feast Day with romantic love occurs in Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules which was published back in 1382. In it he wrote,



For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chesehis make.

It was written to commemorate the engagement of the 13-year-old Richard II to 14-year-old (cougar) Anne of Bohemia. The "volantynys" or "valentine" is variously assumed to be either Valentine (Valentinus) of Rome or Valentine of Terni, who may've been the same person or, more likely, never existed. Valentines, from at least that point on, have held special significance for lovers. By the 1850s, Esther Howland was mass-producing and selling Valentines after taking her inspiration from an English Valentine. Hallmark, the Missouri-based mass producer of greeting cards, began producing Valentines 532 years after Chaucer's remark, making accusations that they're behind the holiday somewhat less than likely.

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Juno: Ghost World + Little Miss Sunshine x Wes Anderson divided by Welcome To the Dollhouse

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 8, 2008 10:14am | Post a Comment
Oh my blog, so, I like totally watched Juno the other night, Lite Brite, and now I totally can’t stop, you know, parlaying this guey. “Por k, Macy Gray?” you query. Welp, homeslice, it’s B-cuz I have had mine eyes opened when to the real deal Holyfield about how to rap like the post-tweens of today, OKizzle? Now normally I avoid quirk ‘n’ smirk like a bubble boy does a peanut butter factory; especially when it's strained, smug, masturbatory, self-worshipping and as heavy handed as Fisto holding a purse full of lead weights. Homie don’t play that, Krazy Kat. And from the trailers alone I was scared merdeless. A familiarly precocious kid has it all figured out like a pint-size Paul Haggis on shrooms. But then she finds out, in a major league curve ball, she’s still got more growin’ up to do, Mr. Magoo.

Cue an annoying Kimya Dawson (Moldy Peaches) song where she busts out with her urban-outfitted, practiced and studied amateurism. OK, we know it’s Indie Anna Jones when we’re confronted, finalmente gente, with the smiling visages of big Hollywood actors, since Indie film is like, totally like “alternative” was when that term went from meaning anything not on commercial radio from Husker Du to Husker Don't to specifically proto-Creed band whose singers yarl and show off their abs-of-steel whilst a creepy, masked, old geezer lurches around in a red and green-lit video that’s played in heavy rotation on empMTyV. Indie is now actually slightly more formulaic than Bollywood, nay, Nollywood.


”Lieben meine Affe-monkey!”

The story is about a 16-year-old Canuck who gets pregnant by her Canuck friend and then finds a couple to adopt her baby after a Canuck at the abortion clinic tells her in thickly-accented Canadian, “All babies want to be born.” Their Canada talk is never explained, I’m guessing because the actors had to devote most of their ability to contorting their brains around the graceless and over-written dialog. It kind of gives it a Degrassi High on Growth-Hormones feel -- only 1000 times more annoying. Only Juno’s dad seems passably Minnesotan. It’s also obviously filmed nowhere near Minnesota but that sort of authenticity rides Miss Daisy-style to the chauffeur/plot that's too busy stroking its "beef sword" (to borrow another barf-inducing Juno-ism) to deal with such obvious details.

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Vietnamese New Wave - Part I - German Euro-disco

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 8, 2008 10:14pm | Post a Comment
Vietnamese New Wave

Are any of my readers out there Vietnamese? I was turned on to this amazing genre by "the Jewel of La Puente," the one and only (OK, one of thousands but still one of a kind) Ngoc Nuyen. I have asked the experts here at Amoeba Hollywood about "Vietnamese New Wave" (also referred to as Asian New Wave at times) groups and no one seems even remotely familiar with any of them, with the exception of Chris Matthews, to whom "Modern Talking" sounds familiar ...

First of all, when people talk about Vietnamese New Wave, they’re not talking about Vietnamese artists (although there is Thu Thuy, Lynda Trang Dai and supposedly a tieng viet cover of a Night Society song), but rather a movement that includes mostly German Euro-disco, Italo-disco and English synthpop artists who acquired, through means that no one seems to understand (although it definitely involves mixtapes) massive popularity amongst Vietnamese in Cali, Texas and Canada (and maybe elsewhere).

And whilst there’ve been at least four or five documentarians who’ve explored the still supposedly strange popularity of Morrissey amongst Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, to my knowledge no one has yet delved into the mysterious “Vietnamese New Wave” movement in which (in addition to OMD, Pet Shop Boys and Gazebo's "I Like Chopin") four German performers, with no radio play, no MTV exposure, no Amazon recommendations, no local performances came, against all odds, to achieve stardom in the Vietnamese immigrant population.

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Sweeney Todd

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 1, 2008 10:02pm | Post a Comment
Sweeney Todd is a villain who began as an urban legend sometime around 1800 and was, a few decades later, the protagonist of a penny dreadful called The People's Periodical, which was published in 1846. The issue was titled The String of Pearls: A Romance written by Thomas Prest, a popular writer who also wrote Varney the Vampire, which I've wanted to get a copy of ever since I was in third grade.

Another popular urban legend of Victorian London was that the unsuspecting victims ended up in meat pies.

There was no evidence of Sweeney Todd having been an actual character, nor that anyone turned up in the popular takeaway dish, but when the story was turned into a play in 1847 the advertising claimed that it was "founded in fact."

Remember that lady that claimed to find a finger in her chili at Wendy's? Of course, she turned out to be a serial scam-artist and got sentenced to nine years. I think if I found an identifiable piece of meat in my fast food chili it would actually be sort of comforting like, "Hey- at least it's not the pig's genitals!" ... but meat-eaters are a crazy bunch with all sorts of hang-ups about what species are good (chicken, cow, fish, lobster and pig) and what are bad (cat, dog, horse, cockroach or person). So picky!


 

 
Anyway, back to Sweeney Todd.
 


A Pathe "news" clip promoting Tod Slaughter

In 1936 the first sound film adaptation (following two silent versions) was produced in England. Most of the "ingredients" of subsequent adaptations are present here: a love interest named Johanna, a meat pie-making Mrs. Lovett and of course Todd, his mechanical barber's chair and straight razors. The film starred Tod Slaughter, an actor famous for his over-the-top performances as murderous maniacs. As this clip above illustrates, his acting has pretty "hammy."
 
The next cinematic adaptation was 1970's Bloodthirsty Butchers.
 
In 1973 playwright Christopher Bond wrote a play version wherein new twists were added to the play. In his version Sweeney Todd was motivated by revenge, not greed. A judge wrongfully imprisons Todd and rapes his wife, which leads to her committing suicide.

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