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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hallowe'en! 31 songs to Celebrate

We love Hallowe'en a whole bunch in this house. We cut our teeth on Universal monstersThis is our good time month. To celebrate, here are 31 great Halloween songs that we like. This isn't a family that pushes censorship, so use your own discretion. 

31. Danny Elfman: This is Halloween from Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas
There is no denying what an awesome and wonderful song this is, it really caught the spirit of the song. Elfman should be no stranger to anyone who followed Los Angeles Music, or even the Dr. Demento Show. Who can forget the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, Danny Elfman's brother's thing from the Gong Show? 

30. Oingo Boingo- Dead Man's Party

Speaking of whom, using whacked, colorful, almost Posadas inspired puppets, this is a great merge of classic new wave from the 1980's & Dia de los Muertos imagery. No doubt that for Hallowe'en,  Weird Science works, too, but I think I have to cut ole Danny off here.

29. Ramones- Pet Semetary
"I don't want to be buried in a pet semetary....." No denying the merit of this song as a Hallowe'en classic, and a great example of what a catchy songwriter Dee Dee Ramone was. The Ramones were so much to so many of us, including this family, with the elders being fans and having seen them more times than we recall. The kicker for a movie based on Stephen king's novel of the same name, King was, like so many of us, a fan.

28. Siouxsie & the Banshees- Night Shift

A moody and uncomfortable, creepy riff circling around an obsession. At the top of their game no one from their genre could touch them, and there isn't anything I have heard in years from the spooky kids that even comes close. This clip from Koln, 1983. Anyone who saw this band knew how heavy they could be. 

"My night shift sisters, 
With your nightly visitors, 
A new occassion in life, 
My love with a knife."

27. Goblin- Suspiria Theme
The theme from a pretty scary Italian slasher film (but it is so much, much more than that) there is no denying that without Goblin's soundtrack, there would be no grounding for Dario Argento's classic. One of the greatest soundtracks to any horror movie.

26. Alice Cooper Band-  Ballad of Dwight Fry
There are a couple of brilliant versions of this on the internet from live shows in 1971, neither of which would load. Using the story of Renfield, played by Dwight Frye, Alice Cooper took mental illness and put it out in the center stage. The following video is pretty heavy. You're warned.

25. John Carpenter- Theme from  Halloween
One of the coolest discoveries I learned was that parts of the slasherfest known as Halloween were filmed here in Sierra Madre. The town doesn't boast of it much, but the cemetery scene was filmed here, as was the much later funeral of Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks fame. La tee da. So, John Capenter beat out the keys, and scared the hell out of us all. just hearing the music, much like hearing the theme of Jaws, could prove to be..... unsettling.

24.  Screaming Jay Hawkins- I Put a Spell on You
What a great showman! No denyng the charm and the swarm that was Screamin' Jay.

23. Roky Erickson- Two Headed Dog

22. Misfits- Die, Die My Darling

21. It's the Mummy from Mad Monster Party
Dance, dance, dance, but don't lose your head! A dance party claassic with all your fiends dancing along. Woo-hoo!

20. Addam's Family Theme
Not to be confused with the Munsters, this is the show with the French speaking Morticia! Then there's that cute Wednesday and her headless dolly.....

19. Roky Erickson- Bloody Hammer
Roky Erickson and the Aliens put out a record that could have been a Hallowe'en classic on itsown merit (The Evil One) and this song, often lost in the mix of out of this world greatness, is a stand alone classic.

18. Mike Oldfield- Tubular Bells: The Soundtrack from The Exorcist
And the scary hits keep a coming! Put it on with the soundtracks to Halloween and Suspiria and try to go to sleep.

17. Grim Grinning Ghosts-
It's still brilliant. You know I am right. 

16. Theme from Martin
"Nosferatu....." Way before that wonderful Let the Right One In, we all met Martin. He was a little bit Harold and Mad.....

15. Siouxsie & the Banshees- Playground Twist

Another tense song from Siouxsie and the Banshees, pretty amazing that it was released as a single in 1978 considering that.
14. Munster's Theme
The other spooky family from the sixties. Thank God the networks were trying to outdo each other. Two great shows for the price of one!

13. Cramps- Human Fly
and I say buzzzzzzz...... Sure do miss the Cramps. 

12. Damned- Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

11. Screamin' Lord Sutch- All Black & Hairy

10. Monster Mash

 9. Zacherley- Coolest Little Monster

8. David Seville- The Witch Doctor
The creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks, David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.) was the cousin of "Bill Saroyan" (writer William Saroyan, both of whom hailed from Fresno, California) as pointed out on this clip. Pretty neat guy, did lots of work with Hitchcock, and figured out cool tricks with tape speed to create his characters.

7. Phantom of the Paradise- Life at Last

6. Samhain- Diabolos '88
Not on many lists, for whatever reason, but this is one damned fine piece of Hallowe'en music. Maybe it wa simply because it fell too vauely between the legend that was the Misfits, and the reality that was Danzig's latter music, but this little gem, and fine band, were pretty much forgotten. 

5. Halloween III Silver Shamrock Theme
Omaha, Nebraska, it says, but lots of it is the old downtown Sierra Madre, here and there. Carpenter used the Sierra Madre locale one other time (The Fog) but the dancing pumpkins from a TV store remains my favorite. 

4. Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs- Li'l Red Riding Hood
Awooooo! Set with classic cartoons. Great song and a nice presentation here.

3. Theme from Spiderbaby
Good times with knives and ropes.

2. Psycho
Music soundtracks designed for fright and suspense have to acknowledge this one. 

1. Theme from Blood Feast
Not going to run the other clips with the scenes here, but it is the original gore film that introduced bright red to the tattered silver screen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Manzanar Fishing Club

Louis Elovitz, Video Louis to many of us, beautifully summed up so many of us with his blogspot so aptly named  Punk Rock Saved My Life because I, for one, can say it sure saved mine. It also helped define who I am, what I am, and why I am. 

That said, it was not in school (which I attended from 1969 to 1980) that I learned about the incarceration of Japanese American citizens in concentration camps in America, but from a punk rock band. Channel 3 (CH3) were a band from nearby Cerritos (I lived in Anaheim) who had a song called "Manzanar" which I saw them play a number of times in the early eighties. I wanted to learn more.

Manzanar (CH3)
You bitch and moan about the Holocaust
A drastic crime in the modern day
Where were you in World War Two
Were you proud of the American Way
Adolph really caught your eye
Ain't it fun to knock the Warsaw Zone
But you turned the other way
When we screwed some of our very own

Manzanar Concentration Camp
It wasn't in a country so far
In fact in your own backyard

Your arm bears a swastika
So vouge in this anger hype
You wanna be fucking cruel
Why don't you wear the stars & stripes
Pearl H. really shook you up
Too close to you and mom
You had to show your real strength
You had to drop a fucking Bomb

A couple of years ago I told Mike (Magrann) how much this particular track touched me, and fired up the desire to learn more. I know he must have had this conversation a million times, because, as I have shared, it was a dirty little secret that our history books didn't share. 

It was because of CH3 that I began to research Executive Order 9066, and then later began a dialogue with my grandparents about this topic. My grandfather, who served in the Navy, was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. My grandmother was raising three children here, and there, while he was deployed.

I knew that this event was an important one, as my grandfather often discussed the events of that day. He lost some of his hearing from the blasts of the guns and explosions, and would often times watch historical movies, read books, and discuss his experiences in the South Pacific. When I asked him about the concentration camps there was really nothing to discuss. He wasn't here, and he really didn't elaborate much more on the subject. 

My grandmother, however, was much more enlightening on the subject. She told me that there was a very angry, and hostile backlash against the Japanese Americans, and that many people were angry, and fearful. She believed that the concentration camps were necessary for the safety of the interned, as well as for the safety of the country. My lack of tact, and my perserverance on this uncomfortable topic led to the single time that my grandmother actually hollered at me. "You weren't there, and you can't understand what it was like." She was right, of course. I wasn't, and I can't.


This morning I drove over to the Laemele Pasadena to see a movie that I heard about through Mr. C. -the school principal where I work. An avid fisherman, he had shared with me about a documentary he had heard was trying to be funded a few years ago. We were talking about the concentration camps after my students had gone to the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. I was just as enthused that the museum now housed the sign from the Atomic Cafe (immortalized in the 1979 song "Adolescent" by the Plugz) and a hang-out which was a staple  during my youth as I was about the barrack house inside the museum, but the conversation moved back toward the concentration camps, and he told me about these guys that would sneak out of Manzanar to go fishing. I love that Robin Hood kind of stuff, but like everything else in this life that zooms past, I forgot. 

Yesterday morning I learned that the movie had been completed, and was playing- but only once at 11 AM saturday, and again Sunday. I made it to catch the film, which had sold out both yesterday and today's showings. The film had a Q&A with the director, and the audience included many people affected by the internment. 

The Manzanar Fishing Club caught me off guard, and reminded me how little I know about the world, and sometimes even about myself. I expected a tale of anger, frustration, and healing- but what I was met wit was a reminder not of the hurt, of the disenfranchised, but of the perserverance of the human soul, and the solidarity of the human spirit. I was reminded, again, that freedom comes to those who take it, and fight for its preservation, and that in all the turmoil that is war, and governments, and bullshit- that the peace we seek can be found in the blades of grass, the sound of a stream, and at the end of a fishing line.