Amoeblog

What a wild, wild scene - A look back at Ditch Parties for Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 8, 2012 04:12pm | Post a Comment

INTRODUCTION TO DPS



Truancy is presumably exactly as old as education. Some 800,000 years ago in the Middle East, people learned how to start fires. Though an important skill and an entertaining subject, I’m sure that some frustrated student thought to her or his self, “Lame. I’m outta here.” Later truants organized parties during school hours. My research for this blog entry turned up accounts of actress Sharon Tate and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa frequenting them in the 1960s. I myself -- though something of an advanced ditcher of high school -- only attended one organized ditching event (it wasn’t really a party. The drumline I was in all went to a restaurant and played tabletop shuffleboard. My punishment was having to work in the school library for a spell).

Street BeatIn the early 1990s, a ditch party scene emerged as a phenomenon on LA’s Eastside (for clarification: the region east of the LA River). That is the subject of this entry. DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to glorify drug abuse nor truancy; neither is it meant to suggest that I’m an authority on the subject. I didn’t even move to Los Angeles until well after the scene had faded. 

I have searched for firsthand accounts of the “Old School Ditch Party” scene but, aside from a couple of blog entries, and scanned images from Street Beat magazine, almost all of the information in this post is derived from the sensationalistic and comically disapproving FOX Undercover stories from the era. So far only one of my friends has told me about her firsthand experiences with the scene. So this isn’t mean to be taken as anything remotely suggesting a serious study but rather an invitation for readers to share their memories and help fill out the picture of this seemingly scarcely documented but fondly remembered era.

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Sparare un paninazzo nel gargarozzo - a look back at Paninari

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 22, 2012 04:10pm | Post a Comment
Pet Shop Boys "Suburbia"

On this day (22 September), 1986, the Pet Shop Boys released the single "Suburbia" b/w "Paninaro," which introduced an Italian subculture to the wider world. It was certainly my introduction. 

 


Paninari - che è il gran gallo?

Paninari (the plural of Paninaro) were an Italian youth subculture in the 1980s. Their name came from the word "panino," Italian for "bread." La Stampa branded them that due to the fact that their original, preferred hang-out was the Al Panino, a sandwich joint in in Milan's Via Agnello, where they first congregated in 1983.  




In 1985 the now defunct Burghy, an Italian chain specializing in American fast food, opened a location on Piazza San Babila, that became their home base.
 

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All-Female Bands of the Early 20th Century - Happy Women's History Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 12, 2012 02:43pm | Post a Comment

Nehmes Bastet


Female singers have been popular since ancient times. Earlier this year a tomb was discovered in Egypt housing the earthly remains of Nehmes Bastet, a singer who lived and died some 2,900 years ago -- around the time of Carthage's founding and that the Iron Age was making big waves in Central Europe. To date, she's the only known woman buried in the Valley of Kings who wasn't related to the royal families.

Nearly 3,000 years after her death, female singers were still undeniably popular. Although female musicians have long been celebrated in the rest of the world, in the west most were limited to either the piano or harp -- and strictly in a non-professional role -- until the dawn of the 20th Century.

An important development in all-female bands was Lee De Forest's invention of Phonofilms in 1919. Before then, a few early attempts at marrying music to short films were made with Kinetoscopes but were hampered by their short length of 22 seconds. Phonofilms, which were essentially music videos, were longer and often featured female musicians.

Predictably, many of these pioneers were apparently valued more for their looks and/or novelty than their cultural contributions but that, of course, isn't a reflection on their technical or artistic merits. It's just that, as Sherry Tucker's book Swing Shift (one of the few books on the subject) put it, the public "looks first and listens later."

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Western Music - Kind of a Latino Thing - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 4, 2011 04:46pm | Post a Comment

Gene Autry and Lois Wile in the Singing Cowboy 1936

I love Western music. Not "Western music" as in "music rooted in European traditions," but rather the "Western" of "Country & Western." Cowboy Music. In many ways, Country and Western is an odd pairing. The two genres seem to be at complete odds. Sure, the performers evince a similar sartorial sensibility, but the subject matter of Western music is about hard-working buckeroos following honor and dogies out under the wide open sky.

Country karaoke

Country, which I love too, is quite the opposite. Country celebrates the sedentary life - working and dying in the same small town, farm, or trailer court in which you were born -- and to hell with ethical codes of conduct; get drunk, cheat on your wife, and show up for your crappy job hungover.


Musically speaking, they're only distant cousins - no more closely related than Bluegrass and Jazz, House and Rap, Rock 'n' Roll and the Blues  -- but of those examples, only Country & Western get so invariably lumped together as a single genre that people usually omit the "Western" altogether.

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3Ball Pursuit - An LA Weddo in King Kumbia's Kourt

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 12, 2011 04:58pm | Post a Comment
STUMBLING ONTO A SCENE

Cindi Kusuda and Mike Morgan's old place

Three years ago I went to a party in Echo Park at a friend's home near the New Hope Mission Methodist Church. I don't remember what my friends were playing but outside the downstairs neighbors were bumping some amazing dance music. It was a variety of Cumbia, which I've always loved since being exposed to Carmen Rivero y su Conjunto's Cumbia LP as a child. I don't just like traditional Cumbia either; from the creative, unsteady "Cumbia Sobria el Rio" by Celso Piña, Control Machete, and Blanquito Man to the straight up cheese of groups like Los Temerarios, I like it all… and the album covers make me happy too.




Anyway, the DJ kept playing tune after amazing tune and, whilst three generations of friends and family danced, I was transfixed by the music. It was fast and almost completely synthesized. I don't think I had Shazam on my phone but I'd bet all of it would've come up unrecognized anyway. I figured I'd just go into Amoeba the next day and hit up the helpful folks in the World section. I was pointed in the direction of some hip Chicha collections which, though interesting, were not at all what I was looking for.

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