Category Archives: Articles

Life in Plastic, It’s Fantastic.

aquabarbiegirl2

Ahh yes, I’m driving down Scottsdale Rd in the fall of 1998 in my ’93 Saturn (soon to be totaled while parked in Santa Monica less than 2 years later.) I’m wearing a yellow button down shirt from The Gap and sporting frosted tips. Or maybe I’m wearing a blue Tommy Hilfiger windbreaker semi-ironically. What song is playing on the radio? Well, it could be one of many songs actually. Perhaps it’s Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta. Maybe it’s Barenaked Ladies’ One Week or if I’m lucky, Aqua’s Barbie Girl.

barbiegirllene

Yes I admit it, I loved this song. I was first alerted to it by friends that said it reminded them of my recordings, not that I ever made anything remotely as good as this, but I used to increase the pitch on my cassettes on 4 track to make my voice sound more indie and alternative, which my friends jokingly said made it sound like “that Barbie Girl song.” It brings back so many memories from a great time in the 90s. I used to think pop music was so shitty at the time, but we didn’t know how good we had it! Aqua’s Barbie Girl is actually a masterpiece, artistically, cinematically, aesthetically, musically, you name it.

seahorse

One of my favorite parts of the video is when Lene is getting her hair done and reading a cool looking (but fake) book titled My Little Sea Horse. Whenever I watch the video, I always think about how I wish that book actually existed and I could read it.

Life in plastic, it’s fantastic! Yes it was.

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Ambervision and The Amber Age of Infomercials

ambervision

If you grew up in the 80′s and 90′s chances are you sat through a zillion infomercials: featuring everything from Don Lapre’s “Tiny Classified Ads” to Corey Haim and Corey Feldman’s 900 number hotline. Looking back at these, I have a certain nostalgia for the aesthetic of all these old infomercials. It’s just one of those things that you don’t really appreciate or recognize as an artform until it’s gone. On a subconscious level part of the appeal is probably my mind associating these ads with positive memories of whatever I was doing in those much simpler times, when my biggest concerns were getting every card in the 4th Series of Garbage Pail Kids, whether the Los Angeles Rams would make the playoffs and what was on HBO that night.

Anyway, here’s a (1987?) commercial for Ambervision sunglasses. I sometimes imagine things like this as if they were part of some kind of science fiction fantasy story. Like, if I were to buy a vintage, new old stock pair of these Ambervision sunglasses off Etsy or Ebay and put them on, would I be transported back to another time? Would simply looking through them awaken some kind of old feeling within me, even artificially? I suppose on some level, it would.

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Pauline Frechette – Come Away With Me

Pauline-Frechette-Come-Away-680

Pauline Frechette has a magnificent new single out, titled “Come Away With Me.” It’s an incredibly polished, professionally performed and expertly composed. Others have positively described the sound as “haunting.” Stylistically, the track does have a bit of a “darker” tone and melody, which the song content itself in fact delightfully romantic. This isn’t a contradiction though, as there is more mystery, longing and certainly much more at stake emotionally in any genuine love experience.

It is interesting that the cover art features innocent child-like imagery, because my first impression of this song was that it seemed like it would fit right in on the soundtrack to a Disney film, to be featured in one of the more serious or poignant scenes. This is another testament to the quality of the music, which is in every way top of the line, to the extent that it wouldn’t seem out of place in a big budget, award nominated movie. Even the line “come away with me” appeals to the state of innocence and spontaneity we revert to when we fall in love with someone. We want the person to wake up and come along with us on the journey, and we want to let them know how much we want them with us.

With this track, Pauline has proven once again that she is capable not only of creating musical masterpieces (a difficult achievement enough,) but also of conjuring content which is personally inspiring.

For more info:
https://soundcloud.com/paulinefrechette/come-away-with-me
http://www.paulinefrechette.com/

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Coreena – She Myself and I

An alumni of the Berklee College of Music, Coreena proves herself to be a more than capable performer and songwriter as well. Her upcoming EP, “She, Myself and I,” is set to be released on August 24th. Though she writes and produces her own material, the finished product sounds remarkably professional. Her new EP aspires to be a “conceptual album of her different musical personalities.” The song “Sugar Love Glow” has kind of a mellow, ambient dance quality to it. “Apocalyptic” can be described as a unique mix of 1950s lounge singer vocals with a tribal techno beat backing. I was blown away by all the songs on the EP, but my favorite has to be “Ex-girlfriend.” It is energetic and upbeat, with a synth driven chorus that really carries the song. When it kicks in, you get that feeling like “Yes! I’m way into this.” I recommend you buy this EP when it comes out. This music is much better than anything you’ll hear on the radio. Pure class.

http://www.coreenamusic.com/

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Naro Kim – The Captain

naro

Aside from being an incredibly talented musician, she managed to recover from a devastating brain hemorrhage two years ago. After losing vision and some of her memories, she had to relearn basic things we take for granted like how to walk, read and write. Within a year of hard work and rehabilitation,she was back to being able to play the piano well again.
She recently recorded a new album, “The Captain.” The title track contains uplifting melodies with oceanic ambiance in the background. Though there are no lyrics, the song manages to evoke positive and optimistic emotions. In contrast, her song “Life,” which is just as terrific, harbors a more somber and varied tone. “I’m in love with…” is another gem that builds to a somewhat epic climax. It’s tough for me to say which of the songs I like the best, as they all kind of represent different moods and experiences. Musically they are top quality. I could envision these songs being used as part of a soundtrack to the emotional scenes of a film. Naro has achieved great things musically with this album, quickly making you forget what she had to go through to create it.

https://soundcloud.com/narokim

http://www.narokim.com/

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Dream A Little Dream

In the late 80′s and early 90′s I was addicted to NBA basketball. The teams, the players, and even the coaches. I couldn’t get enough. I would watch any team, didn’t matter if it wasn’t my favorite team (The Phoenix Suns), I just wanted to see tall dudes in cool uniforms shooting hoops, make amazing passes, and doing incredible dunks.

I had to enjoy it in secret though. I was into skateboarding, and had mostly skateboarding friends. Most skateboarders, especially during that time, hated jocks and sports. Which was understandable as most jocks hated skateboarders in the same way. It was like the Sharks and the Jets from West Side Story. Each having very shallow reasons for the hate towards the other.

west-side-story

 

 

 

 

So I would make up excuses to get out of skateboarding or hanging out with my friends just so I could watch an NBA game. I didn’t feel bad about it either, because some of the friends I had were pretty lousy and I was better off avoiding them.

The NBA during this time was, I feel, at it’s prime. The Internet was not really a common thing, and only Zack Morris goons had cell phones. So there wasn’t 24 hour access to see pro basketball except on TV.  So I would relish the time watching the pre-games, the games, and the post games. I would even try and watch highlights on national TV to see what non-home team analysts had to say.

The top players were all future Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and David Robinson. They all went on to play together on the Olympic team, named the Dream Team, for good reason.

dream Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

They were all recognizable and it was amazing to see them playing together, more than any all-star game would provide. It created an iconic team of which all teams, Olympic or not, would be compared to. It was epic!

The games were so entertaining because all the teams seem to have one or two superstars, so it felt more competitive then games today. The games were less flashy, and there were no fireworks during the introduction of the lineups, and not all the teams had cheerleaders. It was about the game itself, not the sideshow antics like today.
It also felt like the rivalries were more intense also. The Knicks vs the Pistons, Pistons vs Bulls, Bulls vs 76ers, Knicks vs Celtics, Lakers vs Celtics, Lakers vs Suns, Suns vs Trailblazers, Lakers vs Trailblazers, etc. Every game had potential to be a classic.

The NBA also used to make video tapes to rent or buy. Further expanding their brand and the personalities of the NBA. It was impossible to not catch the commercials for some of these tapes, like NBA Bloopers, NBA High Flying Dunks, Hardwood Champions, etc.

These videos would usually show highlights from all NBA history. You’d would get to see iconic players like Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell. These were made even more amusing when hosted by Marv Albert, the most recognizable NBA announcer of the time. Even better is when he was paired up with the coach of the Utah Jazz, Frank Layden, who played the bumbling sidekick.

Recently, a ton of these videos can be seen on Hulu. Its a blast! Re-watching highlights from classic games, seeing players in their prime, and seeing them in their old uniforms and arenas! I only wish I had the old SEGA Genesis and Super Nintendo games to play afterwards.

And if that wasn’t enough, Netflix has a few of the ESPN “30 for 30″ videos to watch. These are made recently, but reflect back on some of the classic players or teams, such as Reggie Miller, and the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” era. Back when the NBA has so much character and personality.

It’s kind of a shame that this era went away. There are too many expansion teams, and there are too many young, inexperienced players now. Drafting kids straight from high school, or with only one year of college basketball experience has flooded the NBA with mediocre players.

It’s not rocket science that so many of the superstars of the late 80′s and early 90′s were all players that completed college.  Look at Tim Duncan, one of the last players I can recall that played four years of college basketball. Numerous championships and awards, and he is still playing. He is a throwback to the glory years and will definitely end up in the hall of fame.

 

It’s pretty tough to watch the current era of players where they have mediocre skills, and you have to invest into them for years before they achieve the skill level they would have in college. It’s a waste.

I will never be super into the NBA again, unless they start making blooper tapes again…

bloopers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II COMING SOON

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