Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

You’re Like an Old Friend, Come and See Me Again

When I was a teenager my life revolved around music.  There were very few activities I participated in that didn’t have something to do with music.  I woke up every morning at 5:45 am (after staying up until the wee hours trying to finish my homework) to go to Jazz Band.  I talked about music with my friends, my fashion exuded music and immediately told everyone who saw me exactly what kind of music I listened to (punk, for those who didn’t know me back then).  My last class of the day was music oriented (either band or the spring musical, depending on the day and time of year).  During the spring time, when working on the musical, I would be at school until 10:00 pm working on the music.  Even when I wasn’t at school, I would rehearse with the band I played bass in (named Stalin’s War in the way that only disaffected youth can name a band), often until the 7:00 pm cut-off, when the neighbors would start complaining about the raucous music coming from our guitar player’s garage.

I listened to music constantly.  In the car, it blasted out of the speakers I blew out multiple times.  At home it blasted out of my parents stereo, whose speakers I also blew out.  And in all other instances I had a discman (seems like an 8-track player now) and a small collection of cds to choose from.  It’s no surprise that one of my favorite places in Santa Cruz was Streetlight Records.  I spent hours browsing through cds that I had browsed through hundreds of times hoping to find some gem that I had previously overlooked.  My Marie Callender’s pay check often was deposited directly to Streetlight and its seemingly endless possibilities.

I won’t lie, when I was a senior in high school (and pretty much done with my high school and Santa Cruz in general) I would ditch class with a friend or two and drive to Fremont only to hop a Bart Train to Berkeley and loose myself on the corner of Telegraph Ave. where Rasputin and Amoeba face off.  Those were days of endless joy.  Lunch at Blake’s, dips in to Cody’s books (may it Rest in Peace), and hours finding all the cds I couldn’t find at Streetlight.  There were even times when I made my mother drive me to San Jose (blech) to the mega-Streetlight on Bascom where I would find yet another Sid Vicious poster for my perfectly crafted walls (seriously, I just needed to cover that damn choo-choo-train wallpaper).  Needless to say, as restless and agitated as I was at the tender ages of about 13-20, music provided the solace that I sought.

Actually, one of the deciding factors of my move to Los Angeles was the fact that the behemoth Amoeba mothership store opened on the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga, a place that I still visit on at least a weekly basis, if not more.  I absolutely can’t stand shopping for music online, mainly because there is no hope of finding a hidden gem as there is in a great record store.  Also, and this is what I love about Amoeba, there is no hope of finding the great bargains.  I once bought 19 cds for $95.  I know in my generation of mp3s and iPods (don’t get me wrong, I love my iPod), I am an anomaly that still buys cds.  Though, I really don’t believe that I’m an anomaly, as Amoeba is still around and seems to be doing great business (if the constantly full parking lot is any indicator).

All that being said, I do also happen to work at an independent book store, which, like independent record stores, are a dying breed, due in large part to innovations like amazon.com.  Now, I actually like Amazon.  I use it on an almost daily basis as a research tool and I occasionally order from it (though I usually go through powells.com for books I want and head down to amoeba for music and movies).  My love of record stores was sealed in high school, in the hallowed walls of Streetlight, the plastic cd cases clacking loudly against each other as people browsed through the endless possibilities of music, but my love of book stores was truly solidified in London.  Sure, I love Book Shop Santa Cruz, and have some great memories of sitting in corners of the store (and the tent) as my mom read me Ferdinand the Bull on the floor.  But in London I learned the calming effect of a book store.  Whenever I felt homesick or morose (due usually to the weather) I would pop in to a Waterstone’s and spend an hour running my fingers over the possibilities of all the different worlds I could suddenly be transported to if I opened any one of these books on the shelf.  I usually succumbed to the 3 for the price of 2 deals and left with a small bag of possibilities and a lighter heart.

Last week I went down to San Diego for the day to visit a friend of mine (sorry I didn’t stop by AJ and Steph, you were still at work by the time I left), and was on the prowl for a cd by Ryan Bingham (i.e. the guy who just won a Golden Globe for best song from Crazy Heart).  I, as I am a modern gal, googled record stores in San Diego on my phone and came up surprisingly short.  It was shocking really.  My friend and I drove all over the place looking for record stores that sold actual CDs and not just old expensive vinyl (not that I don’t love vinyl, I just wanted this one CD).

I guess what made me really sad was the fact that one of California’s largest cities didn’t have a record store.  Ryan Bingham isn’t the kind of guy you can find at Border’s (not that I shop there) and there were a few little stores that just didn’t have the room to carry everything (though they were very nice and offered to order the CD for me).  For the first time in my life I was aware of the fact that I was in a place that didn’t have a music store.  And then it hit me, the detriment that these big box chain stores have wrought on American life.  Now, I’m not about to go off on some rant about how fucked up corporate America is, but I will say that I felt this heavy sense of tragedy as I walked away empty handed.  I think we’ve lost that feeling of non-hegemony, of finding these little treasures in the veritable sea of sameness.  And for me, that’s why I work where I work for the little money I make.  Maybe I’m helping some kid find solace by pointing them toward “Youth in Revolt” or “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”  Maybe I’m helping in the same way some nameless salesperson at Amoeba helped me when they showed me The Sex Pistols or A.F.I.  When the guy at the comic book store handed me a copy of Watchmen and Superman: Red Son.  The way a professor did when he handed me Maus.  The way another professor did when he sat and watched Darkwing Duck with me on a weekday afternoon.  And I’m hoping seriously that we haven’t lost that.

P.S. If you’re in San Diego, start a record store….there’s a vacuum.

Peace, Love, and Solace,

Julia

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January 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Predictions 2010

So I just want to apologize for being so long between emails.  If you can’t tell, I’ve been rather busy lately.  But there are just too many things brewing in my head right now to not take the time to send out one of these emails I know you all love.  So seeing as it’s nearly time for the Golden Globes (and thus my favorite time of year: award show season) I thought I’d give my annual predictions and judgments on the movies of 2009.  So here we go:

Writing –
This is an odd category this year.  There is no front runner for best writing.  I think that Up in the Air might take this or perhaps Inglorious Basterds (just to throw Tarantino a bone).  I also think that (500) Days of Summer should be in there, but I’m not sure it will be.  I won’t count out Nick Hornby for An Education as well, Hollywood loves to show it’s appreciation for novelists by giving them Oscars whenever possible (see John Irving).  Also, Disney’s Up was a fabulously written movie that deserves some credit here, but I’m thinking Up in the Air is going to take it.

Director –
I would put my money on James Cameron for Avatar or Jason Reitman for Up in the Air.  Basically, James Cameron just dedicated four years to Avatar and it’s made $450 million domestically, but he won a best director oscar for Titanic many years ago.  I could see the academy welcoming Jason Reitman for the three great movies he has made (Thank You for Smoking, Juno and now, Up in the Air) by giving him a little golden statue.  My long shot guess would be Tarantino as he has never won a directing statue (and maybe should have for Pulp Fiction).  But if he wins best screenplay he won’t win best director.

Animated Feature –
Without a doubt this will be UP.  If you haven’t seen it, rent it.

Supporting Actor –
I could see this going to Christopher Plummer for The Last Station as he has never won an Oscar.  I could also see Stanley Tucci winning this for The Lovely Bones (which I have not seen, but hear he’s wonderful in).

Supporting Actress –
Now here’s a freaking category.  There are  AMAZING performances in this category so really it’s anyone’s game.  Of course, this is Hollywood and it’s never anyone’s game.  I think Mo’nique is going to take home the statue for Precious.  She’s a comedian that took on this very very dark, very awful person and made her a person.  You certainly don’t like her in the movie, but she’s a person and in a weird, f-ed up way you understand her, even if you know she’s horrible.  However, the ladies of Up in the Air were both amazing Vera Farmiga as Clooney’s love interest and Anna Kendrick as his younger protege completed the emotional texture of the movie.  They were great.  I don’t think Penelope Cruz will win for Nine, though she is great in it.  But I think Julieanne Moore could upset for A Simple Man, she’s never won an Oscar and is due up for one.

Best Actor –
I think this is going to be Jeff Bridges year.  He is amazing in Crazy Heart (go see it if you haven’t already).  I also think Clooney might get this one for Up in the Air. The whole movie rode on his shoulders and he doesn’t have a Best Actor oscar (just best supporting) so I could see it going to him.  Also, I never discount the Academy’s love of Daniel Day-Lewis.  He’s great in Nine, but I still think we’re going to see a Clooney/Bridges showdown.

Best Actress –
I’m going with a pretty much lock on Gabourey Sidibe for Precious.  She was absolutely freaking amazing in that movie and it was a great movie (not to sad for the subject matter it dealt with) pretty much thanks to her and her alone.  However, I could see a Sandra Bullock upset for The Blind Side (as this might be her one shot at Oscar Glory) and I could see a Meryl Streep upset for Julie and Julia (remember she hasn’t won an Oscar in a very very long time, though she is nominated for pretty much every role she plays…this will be number 16, I think).  I think Marion Cotillard will be nominated for Nine, as she was wonderful, but I don’t think she’ll win (she just won two years ago) and I think that Emily Blunt may be nominated for The Young Victoria, just to show that she’s a great actress to watch out for (this happened with Amy Adams when she was nominated for Junebug a few years ago).  The other big upset I could see comes from Carey Mulligan in An Education.  She was simply fantastic in that movie and played a young girl with a sense of savvy who was too naive to see how naive she was.  So good.

Best Picture –
This one is going to be a race.  There are 10 different movies that will be nominated this year (as a way for the Academy to appeal to a larger viewing audience), so the boat is going to rock a bit.  Now, personally I’m happy about this because (500) Days of Summer, which normally wouldn’t have had an eyelash batted its way, has a fighting chance for a nomination, if not the big prize.  I’ll say that it is my favorite movie of the year.  As for winners, however, I think Avatar has a fighting chance, as it is a huge blockbuster and basically just changed hollywood for good (again James Cameron? once wasn’t enough).  However, I think the winner is going to be one of the smaller movies that no one expects.  Crazy Heart could take it, Precious is definitely a front-runner, and The Hurt Locker seems to be gaining momentum in this race.  I also think that Up in the Air might be the actual front-runner.  It’s a great movie, but it’s also very timely (i.e. it wouldn’t work at any other time in any other economic environment).  I think this one will end up winning.

Other things to look out for:  Ryan Bingham will win for best song from Crazy Heart.  Best Foreign I’m voting for Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces.  And lastly, what the fuck is going to happen with 10 Best Picture nominees?

Peace, Love, and a Man Named Oscar,
Julia

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment