Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bronies and the Modern World

                                   I have vivid childhood memories of a lot of my male classmates in my school having My Little Pony dolls and watching the original cartoon. I include myself among them. Nobody however,not even me would ever have admitted to ever having such a toy or watching such a show. In that particular time and place,bullying was not only tolerated but considered part of the coming of age process. This was for boys. Well there have been several generations of different sets of My Little Pony's since that time. However a new generation of My Little Pony,referred to by fans as "G4" (G as in generation) has taken a significant steps towards changing that.

                             This modern take on My Little Pony is produced and directed with the help of Lauren Faust,associated with 'The Powerpuff Girls' and has taken on a life of it's own well outside the realm not only of the original program,but also of it's target preschool age female audience. A group of young male adult fans calling themselves bronies have developed an enormous subculture online,on their own websites and via Youtube,all their own. The fascinating part is these bronies are in my age group. Many of them might've even been some of the same children who owned My Little Pony dolls or watched the show as children in secret,in fear of severe ridicule.

                               While the new My Little Pony is an extremely entertaining program for adults as much as (if not sometimes more so) than children,the bronies have garnered very important philosophical ideas from the show. One brony in particular created his own Youtube video entitled 'The Ballad Of The Brony" explaining how the program has influenced him and other like minded people socially. The Bronies I've known are a very redefined group of men. They are able to be sensitive to the emotions of others without considering sensitivity to be a soley "feminine" trait. 

                           Apart from it's entertainment value the current incarnation of My Little Pony has created a baby step in the breakdown of some of the culturally damaging emotional barriers different people put between each other. It goes beyond the fact that the complexities of friendship are the central theme of the show. But more importantly that it's a totally non cynical portrayal,and that all important American demographic of 18-35 year old men are paying the most attention.

For more information,look at this video-'The Ballad Of The Brony'

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth Of July! And Happy 74'th Birthday To Bill Withers!

            Well today is Independence Day. It's also the birthday of one of the most independent musical minds I know of. And that's Mr. Bill Withers. Coming directly out of a coal mining town with a completely working class background, Withers literally went from a job with Douglas Aircraft to recording his first album. Recently I viewed a DVD about his life and career called "Still Bill". While he is very much an unsung figure in the musical world he has also amassed a catalog of songs that is nearly awe inspiring if you really look at it.
           A man who is humble yet confident,good natured yet reflective Withers overcame not only his back round but also difficulties with stuttering to become one of the most profound songwriters of his day. He had many excellent hits such as "Ain't No Sunshine","Use Me",Grandma's Hands" and later "Just The Two Of Us" but he's perhaps best known for "Lean On Me". Again he's defying convention without being overly conscious;eschewing the typical romantic song format in writing a song about friendship many people can somehow relate to.
            Considering his creative stance in refusing to release any material due to his commitment to creative musical vision as opposed to popular trends,as well as his being able to take what might be viewed as a disability (his stuttering) and turning it very much to his advantage Withers is,to me anyway,one of the great American songwriters of the last half century. And I have the feelings his songs will he sung everywhere from school choruses to political protest rallies right along with the music of Bob Dylan,The Beatles and Stevie Wonder. Happy birthday Bill!



Monday, June 25, 2012

Michael Jackson: Mike's Music And Me

                           The music of Michael Jackson's was among the first I remember hearing. It's one of the view memories that I actually shared with billions of other people. The Michael Jackson I remember very early in my childhood was basically this man you see in the photo above. Gradually as time went on,the scandalous personal behavior,especially his changes in appearance  became the main source of publicity for Mike (the name I and many friends chose to refer to him as) rather than his musical accomplishments. This blog is about Mike's musical accomplishments and how I view it from today's perspective. One of the key aspects to Michael Jackson's musical legacy was how adept he was vocally for uptempo music,especially dance songs. This is a quality now present in the dance/funk music scene with the likes of Beyonce' and R.Kelly. At the same time Mike was the last major pop icon to embrace this ethic. 

                          His earliest solo releases on Motown were very much based in the psychedelic soul/funk of 70's Motown as well as the James Brown music he grew up on. It was pure serendipity that he became part of the Motown legacy that had been part of what drove him all along. When he relaunched his solo career in the late 1970's,his influences had moved from Motown and James Brown to Barry White's late 70's music. Disco-dance music mix of orchestration with afro-latin rhythms was an enormous part of that. As the 80's came on,dance music became more stripped down. Part of this was boogie funk,a genre where string orchestrations were largely replaced with electronic ones. On his breakout release 'Thriller' that showcased this more with it's mixture of live instrumentation,such as horns and percussion were mixed with symphonic electronic orchestrations.

                    As the 80's transitioned into the 90's Mike's music became less orchestrated and reflected hip-hop's influence more,with Mike using his talent for multi tracked beat boxing as percussion tracks often. This was some of the best music of his career. Sadly a lot of it was increasingly ignored as his personal behavior gained more press than his creative accomplishments.  Following his passing,more and more knowledge came into the public about a great deal of unreleased music he'd made over the years,much of it far more innovative and even hit worthy than what he had offered in his lifetime. Unreleased or not what I've discussed here represents the musical legacy of this man. A man who received such colossal adulation that his larger than life persona underscored the creativity and humanity in his art to some people.

                      I am concluding this blog with examples of his music,both released and unreleased that showcase the influences Mike had during the height of his career and how he himself often expanded these sometimes often less known songs out into the public due to his visibility.

Barry White's "Look At Her" from 1978

matched up with

"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough",released less than a year later

Stevie Wonder's "That Girl",recorded in 1981

matched up with

"PYT (Pretty Young Thing)",an early demo with different arrangement and harmony recorded the same time as Stevie's aforementioned hit

              Those are the two best examples of the cross influential nature of Mike's music when it was at it's most vital and potent.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Prince & My Introduction To His Purple World: Happy Birthday,Prince!

                 Today Prince Rogers Nelson of Minneapolis turned 54. He's one of those few celebrates whom I actually am curious as to how he spends his birthdays for some reason. There's always been something captivating to me about Prince. I haven't seen anyone in my lifetime who has been able to created such an elaborate universe surrounding himself. Not only that but the music he makes is not only fully under his control but is so distinctive. It all comes from already established sources from funk,pop,soul,jazz,blues and rock n roll but somehow it's always this Prince sound. That Minneapolis sound as it was called at it's most popular. So how did Prince and his music first enter my life? And what piqued my interest?

              My first exposure to Prince was in 1984. My mom had a 45 record of "When Doves Cry" but it was it's B-side "17 Days" with it's slow,warped percussion and bassline I kept wanting to hear. This is where I got to understand this was a musical artist somewhat different than others. Than came "Kiss" a couple years later. Than...no Prince for a decade until his 'Emancipation' came out. I got very caught up as so many did in the more celebrity aspects of his persona. His fight with Warner Bros.,changing his name to a wordless symbol and so on. After listening to 'Emancipation'...well from than on I explored his entire discography and every new Prince related album that came out I was interested.

               Prince continues to both excite and frustrate me creatively. But that is part of who he is. At once highly spiritual and sexually free,both socially radical and reactionary Prince is so defined by his astrology even he has had to realize it. He is still touring today,surprising audiences with his almost boundless energy and persona that seems full of endless surprises. You never know if he'll begin his music career or...retire to a far away country to become a monk. His unpredictability makes him personally puzzling but creatively...astounding frankly. And you really don't get this effect from one or two songs. You only do when you listen to one or two Prince albums. As Dickens wrote from the point of Scrooge,there's more to gravy than of grave about Prince.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stevie Wonder & My Summer Of '96

                    Today a very interesting reflection popped into my head. Used to think about it quite a lot . It all happened sixteen years ago when I was...16. And despite the cliche' of that time it was actually a very hopeful and productive time in my life. My final days of public school were full of much unpleasantness  and confusion. Can't deny that. But several years later I was high school age,had been home schooled during this time and was on a journey to discover music in a way I never had before. Part of that journey led me to Stevie Wonder. In fact during the mid 1990's I generally attired myself in a manner...not dissimilar to the way Stevie is in this photograph pictured here.  The more I delved into this mans music,the more it became clear that the visions in the mind,the only visions Wonder himself was physically capable of perceiving,were more key to any creative ventures than I thought. There were a lot of great things happening. I began writing an idea for a television series and conceived of a...sort of fictive record label along the way of this particular journey in life. Than I fell in love.
                 This was a love that came out of a creative endeavor. It was the same person who was helping me not only with my TV script but also was planning on being involved in my record label. I even wrote a song for him called "I'm In Your Arms Tonight",a lyric definitely written with Stevie Wonder in mind. One night I was called home from visiting this friends home to learn that a mutual friend had called my parents to tell them my new friend had schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. I was shocked and very frightened. It was as if he'd become a stranger. Good thing I had just gotten a CD of Stevie's 'Talking Book' around this time. Even though Wonder was talking about the dissolving of his marriage to Syreeta Wright,also his creative partner I saw many parallels. In particular in a song called "Looking For Another Pure Love". Because my friend didn't want his mental illness to be known,and furthermore was even less happy about my homosexuality he made the choice to dissolve our friendship by making a pass at a member of my family.

               As Stevie said in that aforementioned song this person had become the "problem in my life" where I had very few of them in the outset upon meeting him.  It was one thing to have average youth angst over growing pains. But to have to deal with a very adult concern before your emotionally prepared? Well again Stevie said it best in the same same; "things you cherish most in your life can be taken if they're left neglected". In his case his internal perceptions gave him his own unique outlook on romance. It's also how he was able to create his own unique musical sounds to match the emotions he experienced. Because I didn't possess his musical talent,the only way I had to reflect on this was to spend a lot of time alone listening to Stevie's journey from dispair back to happiness again. I knew that was a time of reveling in angst as if it was somehow tangible. All I wanted was to get beyond those feelings and start again. I don't know even all these years later if I've gotten there. But it's a road still worth travelling. And I still have the music of Stevie Wonder for all the points along the way.

Listen to Stevie Wonder's 'Looking For Another Pure Love' here:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Buffalo Bob's Ostrich Beef Jerky Reviewer For May 28'th,2012

                      Andre's Beef Jerky Review
       Realizing that I've been fairly neglectful of this blog for a bit here,I decided to post this YouTube video. Next month I intended to post more than just videos. I suppose after this blog was started I found myself putting more energy into my Doctor Who blog than anything else. So I decided to close out this month with just a little fun that I decided to have. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mothers Day Plus The Pros And Cons Of Attachment Parenting: Andre's Yout...

          Well I have to indirectly congratulate Time magazine with providing me with the template for my newest Youtube vlog. I would go into it a little bit more. But I have no intention of spoiling the video for anyone else.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Equality For The State Of Maine!

          I wanted to talk to you a little today about an organization called EqualityMaine. They were founded as the Maine Lesbian/Gay Alliance in 1984 following the murder of a homosexual man Charlie Howard in the town of Bangor Maine. Since then they have become one of many organizations across the country (and perhaps the world) that have began to use their grass roots level activism to champion the right for same sex marriage in the state of Maine. I am a very proud online volunteer for the organization. And I would like to take a little time to discuss some of my feelings on the issue of same sex marriage,in Maine in particular.

          First a personal history. In my adolescence there was this fairly obscure news story that became the subject of gossip locally. It involved a man in the rural part of the state seeking a marriage licence  between himself and his dog. I don't recall if he received the licence or not. But the issue was fully explored. When the issue of same sex marriage first arose years after this happened, I found it odd that so many religious organizations seemed far more resistant to that concept than they had been to that engagement between the man and his dog. Even today it's still very difficult for me to see what real life threat there is if two adult human beings wish to be wed.

          When I first became involved with EqualityMaine in 2009,I did some phone banking for them. After what little I did,it was surprising to learn how uninformed many were to what same sex marriage represented. So at the bottom of this posting I am placing a link to EqualityMaine for all to see. If your not from Maine,seek out similar organizations in your local area. I realize that with all that psychic numbing the modern society asks of us it's often hard to want to take on any important cause. Even just in a small way. But there is a meaningful slogan I can provide: pessimism is a cop out. It's important a person learns why our differences are important to our survival. So get up,get into it and get involved!


Welcome To My Blog!

          "Greetings and welcome to an Andre's Eye'd View Of The World. Been asking myself for quite sometime now what is it that would make my blogs any more important than others. In the end I realized it wasn't any time for insecurity and decided to just go through with it anyway.         
        As far as some of my interests go,they will be discussed in in this blog. They include photography,science fiction,music (jazz,soul,funk,dance,classic rock and any combination in between) as well as different electronic gadgets,the occasional stuffed animal and...food. Well once and awhile on that last one.
      These will also come in the form of links to YouTube vlogs that I post every so often. These also extend on my ranges of interests as well. I will still continue my online life via YouTube and Facebook as well. And I fully intend to create more specific "bloggers" in the future on more specific issues. After all,with such a vast array of interests it's going to become a necessity sooner than later. But this is going to be my first. Enjoy!"