PopCornucopia is all about free associative pop culture tidbits as they strike my fancy, just like kernels of corn exploding into fullness at a random and unpredictable pace. And of course, the cornucopia is the horn of plenty.

Monday, November 20, 2006

More than my two front teeth

Nat King Cole's rendition of "All I want for Christmas Is my Two Front Teeth" was one of my favorite tunes of the holiday season growing up. Honestly I don't care if you get anything for me or not. Life as it is and will be are the only gifts I need (grammar, ugh). I am being utterly serious when I state that. Life is, without reservations, damn good to me right now. But at the request of one best friend, Erin, I am providing my own partial litany of Christmas desires to aid ye thoughtful gift-shoppers. But please implement your creativity because it may yield better ideas than what I spoon feed here.

1) If it's from the heart, it doesn't matter what it is. If it's from someone I love I will be sure to love it. Especially homemade stuff!

2) Noise cancelling earbud (for portability) headphones for ipod.

3) Kinokuniya stationary--I need to restock to maintain correspondence from South Africa

4) Cash money is always welcome, of course.

5) Fancy hosiery

6) Jumper dress

7) Music by following artists--don't worry about buying redundant albums. If I have something from the artists listed I have noted as such.
  • The Jam, The Style Council, or Paul Weller. Already own: In the City, This is the Modern World, All Mod Cons, Sound Affects, Live Jam, Beat Surrender (compiliation), My Ever-Changing Moods(a.k.a.. Cafe Bleu[UK]), Internationalists(a.k.a. Our Favourite Shop [UK]), Confessions of a Pop Group, Heavy Soul, Days of Speed, Illumination.
  • Lou Rawls (esp. at Capitol Records). Already own: Soulin', Carryin' On!, Sit Down and Talk to Me
  • Billy Stewart
  • Eartha Kitt
  • Letta Mbulu
  • Miriam Makeba
  • Hugh Masekela (esp. one with the track Stimela)
  • Gil-Scott Heron
  • David Axelrod
  • Tom Waits
  • Aaron Copeland
  • Lalo Schiffrin. Already own: Whole Lalo Schiffrin Goin' On, Music from Mission: Impossible. I would espcially like the Bullitt and The Cincinatti Kid soundtracks.
  • Elmer Bernstein. Top choice: The Magnificent Seven
  • Bernard Hermann. Already own: Vertigo
  • Music from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Joanna Newsom
  • Of Montreal
  • O'Jays
  • MFSB
  • Teddy Pendergrass. Already own: TP
  • The Small Faces
  • Spencer Davis Group
  • Marlena Shaw
  • Giles Peterson compilations
  • The Good, The Bad, and the Queen
  • Love Travels at Illegal Speeds-Graham Coxon

8) DVD's
  • A Bit of Fry & Laurie: Seasons 1 & 2
  • Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series
  • Arrested Development: Season 3
  • The Office (BBC Version) : The entire series
  • Talk To Her
  • Bad Education
  • Hiroshima, Mon Amour (The Criterion Collection)
  • In The Mood for Love
  • Skirt Power
  • Live Forever (Britpop documentary)
  • Amandla!: A Revolution in Four Part Harmony
  • In The Heat of the Night
  • Jeeves and Wooster
  • Casanova (David Tennant, NOT Heath Ledger please)
  • Black Adder
  • Umberto D. (The Criterion Collection)
  • L'Aventura (The Criterion Collection)
9) Books
  • Anything by Stuart Hall
  • Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • Biko by Donald Woods
  • Photography books by Peter Magubane
  • Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
  • Gish Jen
  • Nadine Gordimer
  • My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola
  • Hopes and Impediments by Chinua Achebe
  • Status Anxiety by Alain DeBotton
  • P.G. Wodehouse
  • Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock by John Harris
  • Any available back issues of Chimurenga
  • Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn
10) A better world. Can you tell I'm feelling warm and fuzzy?

Although for Damon Albarn, it would appear that those teeth are all he really wants. Shocking!

Note: To see the segment that explains the above statement, you have to ff to 21:45 or so.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

BritPopCornucopia #4: Wellermania!

In an act of sheer caprice, I decided to buy tickets to see the ever-amazing Paul Weller at Irving Plaza in New York. "New York?", you may wonder. But yes, it is true. Longing to see him live for quite sometime, I seized on an opportunity to buy presale tickets for an evening from his one shot, three-night gig in NYC.

Perennially Cool




Undoubtedly this will be a legendary set of shows. While featuring hits from many points in his discography, each night puts a spotlight on a different segment of his illustrious musical output. The first night emphasizes the Jam, the second focuses on The Style Council (which I am attending), and the final evening is a comprehensive retrospective. Some of the material that he will perform is likely to have not been performed live in the U.S. for 20 or more years, until this round of live shows which promotes the release of his career-spanning box set.

The timing was absolutely too good to be true. Right when I have had a personal resurgence of Weller fandom, he launched these very special live dates, and they coincide with my journey to Cape Town. As such, around January 22nd I will be flying out to New York and spending a week there with one of my best friends. At the end of the week, on January 30th, I will catch Paul Weller's show, and probably leave the next day directly to Cape Town.

Whirlwind as it all seems, I can hardly believe I 've taken up the jetsetter's mantle. But this show and getting to see one of my dearest and oldest friends all at once was too good to pass up.

Whoever says that rock stars are a sorry sight when they age, those leery of latter-day concerts from supposed stars of a bygone era, will, I hope, be proven wrong. As far as I can discern Weller is still the consummate performer. And, I would venture he has improved vocally with age. For someone like me who was not even born when The Jam broke up, I would not have been even old enough to see Paul Weller play in those early "glory" days. Thus, given his continued reputation for being even better live than in the studio, and the fact that he and his music have somehow managed to age gracefully in an industry that is generally unkind to its elder statesmen, why should I deny myself a chance to see him live?

In honor of this Wellermania! I have linked here an hourlong documentary about Paul Weller. For the uninitiated this is a perfect introduction. Even if you are not into his music (though I don't know if any readers who have reached the end of this post aren't), I hope it will at least foster in you an appreciation for his artistic process and his intelligence.

For fellow fans, just sit back and enjoy.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The worst name for a princess, the weirdest name for a theater

In researching neighborhoods for living in Cape Town, I stumbled upon this theater in one of the the areas called the Gardens:

The oldest art-house theater in South Africa, the Labia was originally an opulent ballroom for the Italian Embassy. In 1949, Princess Labia converted the ballroom into a theater for live performances. The facility has been operating as a cinema for more than 20 years. There are four screens, with the largest theatre seating up to 176 patrons. Independent cinema buffs come to view shows here, and to bask in the old-world ambience. A snack bar featuring coffee, desserts, and alcoholic beverages is a popular gathering spot. Check out the theater's excellent Web site for current listings.

Sounds cool enough, a little like the Parkway in Oakland. But here's why for naming your daughter or a theater, Labia is at best an odd choice. Warning: for mature audiences only.