Amoeblog

(For which we beg your forgiveness)

Posted by Job O Brother, April 6, 2009 03:12pm | Post a Comment
I spend a lot of time walking; it’s my favorite mode of transportation, except for maybe riding a train, but riding a train from my apartment to, say, Amoeba Music Hollywood, would require either walking half the day to the train station, spending lots of money on a ticket to the next nearest destination which would be somewhere on the outskirts of Los Angeles, at which point I would either have to walk back, which would take a couple days (stopping for food/bathroom/weeping breaks) OR a couple hours in a cab (which would cost more money than I make in a week) OR require walking to a bus-stop and a day-long bus ride. I could do all that, or I could walk the 10 minutes from my apartment to Amoeba.

So, while technically riding a train is my favorite mode of transportation, context is of some consideration, and that results in walking sometimes being my favorite mode of transportation.

Please accept my apologies for the above two paragraphs; they were a complete waste of both our time.

While walking to various destinations, I often enjoy listening to books that have been recorded. People, myself included, still most often refer to these as “books on tape,” even though compact discs are the preferred vehicle for said recordings (“said recordings” – get it?).

I am really hating my journalistic “voice” in this article. Like, a lot. But, going on…

Amoeba Music has a hearty supply of used, “books on tape” and other spoken-word gems. In the Hollywood branch, they’re located in the jazz room, tucked between the classical and experimental sections. We put them there because they kept getting picked-on by the rock/pop DVD’s and vintage posters, both sections known for their name-calling and general rowdiness.

At the time of this writing, there is only a vague organization of the section, and if you come into the store in a hurry – let’s say you’re in labour and your cervix is dialated about 3 centimeters – and you want a copy of Dianetics on CD, as read by Ruth Buzzy, you’re bound to be intimidated by the task of finding it. That’s the bad news. (Well, that and the discovery that you weren’t really pregnant at all – it was merely a splinter, not a fully gestated fetus, and now you have to return all those baby shower presents and cancel the placenta burying ceremony you had booked at Shakey’s Pizza who refuse to refund the deposit you paid even after you explain it to the manager who should have more compassion because she’s pregnant herself and shouldn’t be so quick to judge.)

THE GOOD NEWS IS that most every item in Amoeba’s “books on CD” section is inexpensive. I am constantly finding wonderful books to hear that are under five bucks. Five bucks! That’s less than a small pizza at Shakey’s!

(The above sales pitch may explain why Amoeba’s never hired me to work in the marketing department.)

Anyway, come check the section out, sometime when you’re not in a hurry.

In other news, The Advocate has published the article I wrote about my recent cruise to the Caribbean. You can read it by clicking on the picture below:


For those of you who didn’t click on the picture but instead continued on by reading this sentence, I apologize once again, as this sentence is only going to be another waste of your precious time, though of course by now it’s too late and you’ll never get the seconds lost back, which may not be a great tragedy in the scheme of things, but even so stands testament to the fact that fate is often unjustly impacted by silly fools who have nothing better to do than steal the attention of others in vain efforts, whatever they may be, and regardless of how these actions impact others.

[Insert wordless visual here.]

Posted by Job O Brother, March 30, 2009 03:55pm | Post a Comment

Not to lure you away from the safe and nurturing environment that is the Amoeblog, but, for those of you interested in reading it with your eyes, here is a link to a recent interview I had with one of my favorites, Marianne Faithfull.

Now then, on to a topic that is not oft spoke of; that is, silent films. Amoeba Music Hollywood has a small but rich silent film section which, at this writing, is located on the mezzanine. I’m taking this opportunity to advocate a greater appreciation and exploration of this antiquated genre.

For many people, silent films are a known but ignored craft, as though the technological progress that married sound to film rendered the silent precursors an inferior product. While I do hail “talkies” as a wonderful invention, I still feel there is much joy to be had in silent cinema. If nothing else, knowing a bit about it can be enough to get you laid by art-school chicks taking a break from experimenting with bisexuality.


The first silent I saw that rocked me was the tragic drama Pandora’s Box [original, German title: Die Büchse der Pandora]. Released in 1929 and directed by Austrian Georg Wilhelm Pabst, it stars the gorgeous and gifted Louise Brooks in the lead role.


Another gem I treasure is Wings, the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture (and the only silent film to do so). Released in 1927 and directed by William A. Wellman, it stars Clara Bow, the quintessential flapper icon, and has a cameo by not-yet-superstar Gary Cooper.


Clara Bow emerged from a childhood fraught with poverty and abuse to become a top Hollywood box-office draw. Her brash manners earned her scorn among celebrity circles, however, and after retiring from the movie business, she was reduced to living inside a milk carton and selling her toes for Necco Wafers.*




Clara Bow, coupled with pop vocal singer, Helen Kane, was the inspiration behind Max Fleischer's beloved cartoon character, Betty Boop.


I would be remiss to write about silent films without mentioning the biggest star to come out of them, namely, Charlie Chaplin. It is convenient that, while I am often annoyed by the actors which are today hailed as great, contemporary stars, I am satisfied that Chaplin is absolutely warranted the admiration he’s bestowed.


Chaplin distinguished himself as an actor, director, composer, and sex machine. After a career on the stage, he found greater fame in film as an actor for the Keystone Film Company. He debuted his now famous character “the Tramp” in two films: Kid Auto Races at Venice and Mabel's Strange Predicament, both released in 1914.




Hold on a second – I’ve a powerful thirst… I’m gonna go get a frosty beverage. While I do, enjoy this performance by Petula Clark of a song written by Charlie Chaplin…


…Okay. I’m back, with thirst quenched. Going on…

Because his political views were decidedly left-of-center, he was targeted by pretty, pretty princess J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. When Chaplin returned to his native England for the premiere of his film Limelight, Hoover sabotaged the actor’s U.S. re-entry permit. Chaplin eventually made his new home in Switzerland, where he spent his time on his hobby, collecting teenage, blonde girls.


Next, let us consider the great actress Theda Bara. While Bara made over 40 films (between 1914 and 1946), only six of these remain available in their complete form. Cleopatra, one of her most popular films, is now lost; only 40 seconds of film footage and photographs of Bara in her costume remain. Bara’s aesthetics have gone on to inspire future artists, like Siouxsie Sioux and, less obviously, Eazy-E*. She eventually married a wealthy man who wanted her to give up acting in films, so she switched her format to the bedroom [insert drum roll].




Different From the Others [original, German title: Anders als die Andern], released in 1919, is important as one of the first (and, perhaps, the first) films to portray homosexuals in a compassionate light. A product of the Weimer Republic, the film was eventually considered “decadent” by Hitler and the Nazi Party, and copies found were burned.




One of the actors from Different From the Others, Conrad Veidt, went on to achieve fame for his role in another film I fancy: the early horror flick, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [original, German title: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari]. A neat-o example of the German Expressionist style, the film, with its eerie backdrops of painted-on shadows and warped stages, remains spine-tingling. It’s great for Halloween parties, or for snuggling and seducing art-school chicks taking a break from experimenting with bisexuality.


I am currently enjoying Die Nibelungen, director Fritz Lang’s cinematic version of the epic poem Nibelungenlied, written around the year 1200. I’m not finished watching it, so I’ll reserve commenting too much, for fear of making a fool of myself and reporting that it stars Sandy Duncan in her greatest performance to-date and is the only sex-comedy to be filmed using goat’s milk feta instead of the more traditional celluloid. I will say, however, that so far, it’s rather phat.


Most of the films mentioned here are available in the Silent Film section of Amoeba Music Hollywood. Next time you’re in the mood to challenge your ADHD and enrich your film viewing experience, be bold and give one of these a try. You can always pick up a copy of something starring Reese Witherspoon to watch afterwards, if need be. Tsk.


*Not actually true.

Promises, Promises

Posted by Job O Brother, November 19, 2008 10:08am | Post a Comment
In my most recent blog post (excluding whichever blog post I've written after this blog post) I mention providing a link to my interview with the glorious Sandra Bernhard. Well, honeychild, you just read right past that link.

If you've never seen her film Without You I'm Nothing, I cannot recommend it enough. That is, if you're into things that are so effing rad. Also worth watching is the film that made her famous: The King of Comedy, a dark comedy directed by Martin Scorsese and also starring Robert DeNiro.
 

Sandra Bernhard*, Jenna Fischer, Chelsea Handler and Wanda Sykes
as Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan and Lil Kim;
from a Vanity Fair pictorial on women in comedy.
Photo by Annie Leibowitz

*I think it's worth nothing that Miss Bernhard is the only one playing
herself in this photo.

(In which we consider Vince Clarke.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 22, 2008 10:49am | Post a Comment

Vince Clarke, worshiping in his own way.

Oh! Something I meant to tell you: The other day I was talking on the phone to Vince Clarke about Yazoo (or Yaz, for those few of you who live in the quaint li’l province of The United States of America). He’s on tour right now with the indomitable Alison Moyet. For those of us who discovered the two, flawless Yaz albums in youth and remained loyal to the duo long after they weren’t to each other, this reunion tour is nothing short of a miracle.

Corey and I saw them perform recently and I’m telling you now, kids – find out when they’re playing near you, buy your tickets fast and GO! I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a concert more.



Because I signed away all legal rights (I wasn’t using them anyhow) I can’t post my chat with Mr. Clarke on the Amoeblog, but you can read it by clicking on the sentence below:

This sentence serves no purpose other than providing a convenient link upon which you may click with your (rather dirty and in need of cleaning) mouse.

In other news, a bunch of we Amoebites went to the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night to see Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and Feist, but I’m not going to report on it until Logan sends me the [insert cuss word here] pictures.

So, what does this blog entry have to offer you besides promises of reports elsewhere available?

Well… um… how about this?



No, but that’s not good enough. Last I checked, Amoeba Music isn’t selling baked goods (although there’s rumors that we might replace our Freestyle section with a smoothie stand).

My mind is still with Vince Clarke. He’s brilliant. My favorite Depeche Mode album is their debut, Speak & Spell, for which he did the music.



He then quit the band and formed Yazoo, which (sadly) only produced two albums: Upstairs at Eric’s (Eric being E.C. Radcliffe, one of the producers) and You and Me Both, which has the distinction of having my favorite cover album art of all time (at least, I think so – don’t hold me to that).


From 1983 to 1985, Mr. Clarke formed The Assembly, which was more a project than a group. The concept was that Clarke would write music that different vocalists would sing for. Very little output came out of this, though it did produce one UK hit, “Never Never.”



After that came Erasure. I remember, in high school, being backstage at our production of Camelot in which I played Tom of Warwick (which meant I spent two hours backstage and, at the finale, running on stage dressed like a cross between Gidget and Bea Arthur and screaming precociously to King Arthur). One of the techies, a pretty girl named Star, was listening to her Walkman. I asked if I could hear her music and she offered it to me. It was their album Wild! and I thought it was keen, but for whatever reason I could not manage the name Erasure.

“It’s Erasure,” she informed me.

“A razor?” I asked.

“No, Erasure,” she said again, unjustifiably annoyed and taking the Walkman back. But I still didn’t hear correctly and for the next year I thought my new favorite band was called Your Asia. Which isn’t a bad name for a band, actually. Any of you readers who’ve recently formed a music group but not yet decided on a name, might I suggest you call yourselves Your Asia? It’s yours for free, but please do give me props in your “special thanks” section.

It’s rare these days to find anyone outside the GLBT community who’s willing to take Erasure seriously, which is a shame. Their lyrics are unabashedly vulnerable and romantic, and certainly go against the grain of what we collectively signed onto when we looked to the Seattle grunge scene to determine what was proper etiquette for cool.


The in sound from way out.

I’m no exception. At a certain point I decided they were “too” something and stopped listening, but recently I’ve been re-investigating their catalogue and secretly enjoying them. I’m still sometimes embarrassed by Andy Bell’s gushing, emotive vocals, but their ability to craft a catchy pop song is undeniable. They rival ABBA in their understanding of what makes a song stick in your head happily. Someday, when you’re not feeling so cynical, you should give them another chance.

Of course, enough time has passed for even you hard-hearted Hannahs to enjoy their 80’s catalogue. If nothing else, you can shield yourself in the cloak of irony which is so fashionable these days. (Just be certain to accessorize appropriately.) And if anyone gives you grief for rocking out to some Erasure, just point out the ridiculous amount of Journey in their iPod and tell them to feck right off.
 

(In which we see the end of our Las Vegas trip.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 18, 2008 11:59am | Post a Comment

This is how we.......... yaaawn.... sssstretch.... roll.

It was our final day in Las Vegas, and Corey and I were determined to sleep through as much of it as possible. Corey is more gifted in late mornings than I, so he was impressed and pleased when my peepers didn’t pop until after eleven o’clock, ante meridiem.

We ordered room service. I had the same, slimy oatmeal mentioned previously in my blog, but this time I had it in the luxury of our suite, so okay! Everything tastes better when you have live footage of a shark tank playing on wide-screen TV.


"I'm only working The Strip to put myself through college."

Our only real schedule obligation was to vacate the room long enough for the maids to magically transform it to its virginal state. While we wandered into the lobby, wondering where we’d walk, we fortunately stumbled into a serious conversation about some dynamics in our relationship. So we sat down at a patio table outside and proceeded to communicate, sincerely.

Not only did this help illuminate certain things for each other, but it totally kept us occupied long enough for housekeeping to complete, so, once we were satisfied we understood each other, we returned to the room to continue doing as little as possible. It was a success.

That night was The Advocate’s party at Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce, Mandalay Bay’s burlesque club, which, every Monday night (as it was) hosts “Stormy Mondays” – a male burlesque show.

As Corey was one of the hosts, we were on hand ahead of time to panic and prepare, which we did, more or less in that order. I observed the go-go boys practice their routines - so bored looking, so distracted without the throngs of gay dudes and fag-hags clamoring to pad their g-strings with greenbacks. It was a very heterosexual moment for me. I started drinking scotch.

It didn’t take long for the club to fill – many of Las Vegas’ GLBT VIP had RSVP. I took refuge on the uppermost pier of the VIP lounge and made it a point to lose track of how many cocktails I’d had.


Job takes a sip of Las Vegas celebrity, Hot Chocolate.

By midnight, and with the party in full swing, Corey was contented that his work was done, and we old codgers slinked away.

One of the stories I had told Corey earlier in the day was how, as a child on my first trip to Vegas, I had seen the giant slot machines and determined that, when I was finally old enough, I would play one.

Tipsy as I was after the party, it occurred to me that, while I loathe gambling (for myself only, not in general) I should indulge that boy-child me of yesteryear and drop $20 on the giant slot machine.

We found one such behemoth and I – flying  in the face of my normal relationship with money – inserted an Andrew Johnson reserve note. I was at peace with losing it - after all, this was for my inner child - so it was especially surprising when, on my first pull, I won $30.

That was it. I was done. Far from being seduced by the possibility of even greater gains, I gleefully turned my tokens in, and Corey and I walked arm-in-arm up to our room.


The high-roller shows-off his winnings. Note the giant machine behind him.

Once inside the room, my iPod began crooning one of my favorite songs of all time: Betty Carter singing “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”. Half-dressed, Corey and I slow-danced and realized that “this was our song”.

To appreciate this moment, you have to understand that, after over a year of being together, we had yet to discover “our song”. It was a moment so perfect, so romantic, you would have totally barfed.

The next morning, we checked out, drove back home, and I went straight to Amoeba Music for a closing shift, the bulk of which I cannot recall.

(I couldn't find footage of Betty Carter singing the above-mentioned song, so below I've included another performance of hers. Check her out, but only if you're into music that is so fantastic.)

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