Monday, March 05, 2007
Jake Plummer's Retirement
I'm talking about the Pat Tillman situation. I hate to invoke the name of Pat Tillman, because I have been very critical of people (NFL, John McCain, US Military) who have done the same in politicizing his death. But seeing how upset Jake got in an interview discussing the way the military and government handled Pat's death made me pretty sympathetic towards him and his struggles on the field. I began to root for Jake Plummer because I respected that he lost a friend which is always hard. And how he is using his platform to speak out for the family and to honor his friend.
After 10 seasons in the pros, at the age of 32 and fully healthy Jake decided to walk away from the NFL. He's come under fire because he said that he's going to go backpacking and traveling. Obviously he's searching for some personal truth and I can completely understand that after what he's had to deal with. Check the video below.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Bored Yet Busy: On Hiatus
Yeah I haven't posted in here for over a month, which I'm sure has disappointed my 3 loyal readers. But I'm planning on revamping this whole blog, once I get my affairs in order. Until further notice consider consider s-curl accident is under construction. But don't worry we'll be back and bigger than ever soon enough.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Olbermann: Mad As Hell, and Not TakingThis Anymore
Here is a video of a Special Comment from Keith Olbermann. In rare form, as incensed as I have ever seen him. And rightfully so. Keith is the only commentator in the MSM who is courageous enough to hold the adminsitration to account and say what we all want to say but are too afraid to. Thanks Keith.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Bigotry in American Politics
With this war on terror, there has been a lot of xenophobia and islamophobia. Many in the media and in government have chosen to counter extreme jihadist Islamic fundamentalism with extreme islamophobia and hateful rhetoric. I must say that moderation and understanding on both sides is the only way to resolve this 'clash of civilisations' as Fukuyama might call it. There are moderate Muslims, and they must stand up for their religion in firm opposition to the Islamic extremists who have highjacked their religion. We moderates in the west must also stand in opposition to western imperialism, xenophobia, ignorance and intollerance.
Now I know some of you are like: Chief, your exaggerating. We aren't that intollerant in a Western Liberal democracy. In fact we are very tollerant and accepting of other religions and cultures. Well Jerry Klein perfomed a very interesting sociological experiment on his radio show to expose anti-Muslim bigotry.
Check the video here.
I thought what he did was genius, but still pretty scary as to how a large subset of our population feels about Muslims.
Nowhere is this bigotry and intollerance more evident than in the case of Keith Ellison who was the first muslim ever elected to the US house of representatives. The abbreviated story is that he wants to take his private oath and swear on the Islamic holy scripture, The Qur'an. This has draw criticism from those on the extreme right. Scratch that; the word criticism some how implies that the vitriol is somewhat legitemate. Xenophobic conservatives have exposed themselves and their own bigoted agenda. None are worse then Glenn Beck, Dennis Prager, Sean Hannity and Virgil Goode. Glenn Beck essentially calls on Ellison to prove that he is not a traitor. Hannity equates the Qur'an with Mein Kampf. Prager says that the use of the Qur'an will embolden the terrorsits and turn America into an Islamic theocracy. Virgil Goode says that allowing Ellison to use the Qur'an will lead to an influx of illegal Muslim immigration. This shit is so ridiculous, all the guy wants to do is serve his country and take and oath on his holy book (in private, I might add) Check the videos below.
I have to say, if I were Keith Ellison, I don't know if would have the restraint or the patience to respond with the class that he did.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Soundtrack for 2006 (Songs of the Year)
*Songs that didn't come out this year, but were part of the soundtrack of this year
Ricky Fitts-Let's Dance in Blood and Pretend its Snow
Young Dro-Shoulder Lean (Fractured Elbow Remix) I haven't even heard the original, and don't want to This remix is killin' it
Plastic Little-Now I Holler ft. Spank Rock
Justice vs. Simian-We are Your Friends
Justice- Waters of Nazareth (Erol Alkan remix)
Papoose-50 Shots Excellent Protest Rap on the Shawn Bell murder
(+44) Make You Smile
Jay-Z-Hot 97 Freestlye
Nas- Black Republican ft.Jay-Z
Spank Rock- Put That Pussy on Me
Bloc Party-Hunting for Witches
TVOTR-Wolf Like Me
Free Speech-I Don't Know
Lupe Fiasco-I Gotcha
The Roots-Long Time
Nirvana-Nobody Knows I'm New Wave*
Curb Your Enthusiasm Theme*
Schooly D-Aqua Teen Hunger Force*
Corrine Bailey Rae-Put Your Records on
3 6 Mafia-Stay Fly
The Dears-Ticket to Immortality
DangerDoom-Space Ho's (Madlib Remix)
Billy Talent-Pins and Needles
Billy Talent-Pins and Needles
Gnarls Barkley-Just a Thought
Ghostface Killah-Charlie Brown
Ghostface Killah-Clipse of Doom
Spank Rock- Back Yard Betty
The Strokes-Vision of Division
Clipse-Ride Around Shining
Arctic Monkey-I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Peaches-You Love It
Eagles of Death Metal-Shasta Beast
The Zutons-Tired of Hanging Around
The Deadly Snakes-Can't Sleep at Night*
Shout Out Out Out Out- Chicken Soup for The Fuck You On the title Alone
Lilly Allen- Smile (Aaron La Crate remix)
Pase Rock-Lindsay Lohan's Revenge ft. Spank Rock
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Top Albums of 2006
Am I the only person who finds that I listen to music differently in 2006? With leaks, the internets, terabyte hard drives, torrents, Ipods, blogs and message boards I found that I was inundated with access to new music. My appetite for music has become insatiable. I always want to be the first person to hear the newest release (or I should say soon-to-be released), I want to have the illest playlist. Basically I want my beat to be correct. And it is correct. But I used to have a few discs on repeat and let albums grow on me and fully digest them, now its like: ‘oh the shit leaked? I though that album doesn’t come out until Feb. 2007? Ah well, I have 14 minutes of free time to download the torrent.’
Honestly its not the same as when I was in junior high and waiting impatiently for months for the Tuesday when my album gets released. You would be begging your mom to drive you to the mall so you could go to Sunrise or HMV and buy your CD (or cassette). In some cases when your mom refused to drive you, waiting out in the rain for the #4 bus to take you to the mall so that you could get your tunes. Then riding back on the bus and ripping open the packaging and reading the liner notes. With all this new technology, we’ve gained an immediacy where you snap your fingers and you can have anything you want within a half hour, but I think we kinda devalued the product and more importantly the restless emotions of anticipation that came with buying records.
I’m not decrying the practice of downloading, because I download more than anyone out there. But I also buy records that I feel are worth buying. I just feel a little ambivalence is all. I actually don’t have and Ipod….yet. Not because I am fundamentally opposed to them, but because they are pretty damn expensive, also I get the whole ‘it holds 4.5 million songs’ thing but really you can only listen to one at a time so what’s the rush. That’s why I still fuck with cassettes (I like making mix tapes) and why I indulged my nü-retro tendencies and bought my first vinyl LP this year. My collection is slowly growing, but it will help me balance my impulse to download every new song, when I can just throw on some wax and vibe to that. Anyways, that’s how I feel about the state of music in my life in 2006 and here are my lists.
Best Albums of 2006
#15) MF DOOM-Metal Fingerz Presents: Special Herbs the Box Set vols. 0-9
Terrible Way to start off my list seeing as how this was essentially a compilation album of instrumentals of old material. But I don’t care, this 3 disc box set has 80-plus tracks of DOOM’s genius. I love him as an MC, but this record highlighted, and made me appreciate his production skills much more.
#14) Pearl Jam S/T
They were one of my favourite bands right when I was just getting into music around grade 4. I was one of the fans who didn’t have the attention span or the patience to bear with them in the post Vitalogy era. But this album picks up where Vitalogy left off, and is filled with political vitriol for the current state of the world. Against all odds Pearl Jam managed to become very relevant again.
#13) The Dears-Gang of Losers
I never really got into The Dears until now but this album is great. I don’t think that the Morrissey/Damon Albarn comparisons are necessary. Murray’s song writing and voice are strong enough to stand on their own two.
#12) Billy Talent-II
This was a great album filled with lots of nervous energy and songs about not being comfortable about where you are. I should really give this another listen. It a lot harder and more urgent sounding than the first Billy Talent record.
#11) J-Dilla- Donuts
Have I become one of those muppets, who laud the genius of an artist after they pass away, while basically ignoring their brilliance while they were still here? I guess I am. The truth is that J-Dilla’s production is ubiquitous throughout the catalogue of many of my favourite hip hop records (De La Soul, Tribe, Common, Erykah Badu, Busta, Mos Def, Pharcyde, GURU) but I just didn’t realize it was him until after he died. It’s a shame that many talented artists receive more praise in death than they did in life. Even worse how we try and piggyback on their legacies. With all that aside, this collection of instrumental shards is amazing. And even more amazing that he crafted most of these tracks on a hospital bed. That’s passion. R.I.P. Dilla.
#10) Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Show Your Bones
Not as good as Fever to tell. It kinda feels like YYY-lite. This is still good because Karen O’s voice is equal parts serene and chaotic, but some of the more up-tempo tracks suffered from over-production, that was too slick.
#9) Nas- Hip Hop is Dead
Upon further review, this one could either drop off the list (like Street Disciple did) or go higher. It doesn’t even come out until this Tuesday, but I gave it a few spins and really like the production. ‘Black Republicans’ is a crazy track that officially puts the Jay-Z beef to rest. ‘Who Killed It’ is hit or miss, I think that it is extremely creative. But does have ‘cringe-worthy’ potential. The Dre track is wild but unfortunately he decided to have Gayme on it. My main critique was on the decision to use the same Iron Butterfly sample on the lead-off single as he did on the last album. I like this one, I thought thief’s theme was kinda whack. Either way, solid record.
#8) MSTRKRFT-The Looks
Yeah I was pissed when DFA1979 broke up. But when I heard that JFK and Al-P were releasing an LP for their electro-house outfit, I was interested. This record will destroy your tweeters. Only 8 tracks, but it pumps from start to finish. This album reintroduced me to electro and opened a whole new door of house music to me. I’m serious these tracks will make you wanna dance and they will wreck your speakers.
My 3rd instrumental album on the list? (4th if you count MSTRKRFT) How pretentious. In all honesty, this record is funkier than the first Ratatat joint but doesn’t flow as well. Nostrand is far and away the best track on there, absolutely perfect for cruising. Again one of the most unique sounds you will ever hear.
#6) Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere
Suicidal ideation, necrophilia, societal alienation, psychopathology and depression. Who would’ve thought that the year’s most accessible album would be one with lyrical content that dealt with such macabre subject matter? I’m not too cool to admit that I liked Crazy (aka: Hey Ya! 2006). Yeah this became the pop record that united indie hipsters and soccer-moms alike. But I’m not too cool to admit that the songs were brilliant, the production was avant guard and Ceelo’s falsetto was dominating. How cool can I be? I’m writing my favourite album list for the 3rd year in a row.
#5) TV on The Radio-Return to Cookie Mountain
Some bands and their sound suffer from more intense, higher quality production (YYYs) and some bands benefit. Guess what side TVOTR fall on. The percussion on this record fleshed out what was missing on the first record. The thing that I like about this band and this record is that they are able to create an atmospheric sound with songs and melodies that draw you into this weird place but lets you explore different layers of the songs. The interplay between the vocals (both lead and background) and the guitars are amazing.
#4) The Roots-Game Theory
?uestlove is one of the best drummers alive. All of these tracks are driven by the percussion and Black Thought’s lyrics weave in and out of the drumbeat. Its too bad that the band is so good, that Black Thought's skill as an MC gets overlooked. A very political record but also a bunch of introspective tracks as well. Released on a monster label, but it stays true to rest of the Roots’ catalogue.
#3) Ghostface Killah-Fishscale
Tony Starks frantic lyrical delivery with DOOM’s production? It’s a wrap. This was by far the best rap record of 2006. And some of the best tracks (Charlie Brown) didn’t even make the final cut. The thing that prevents this from being the best album of the year are the cover (shoulda stayed with the original), the sequencing (I start the album at track 12 and repeat it all the way back to 11) and like most rap records, a few skits too many.
#2) The Strokes-First Impressions of Earth
A lot of people hated on this record. This is ironic, because the critique was that the 2nd Strokes album sounded too much like the first. And the common critique was that this one didn’t sound enough like its predecessors. Which is true, but different is a good thing in the case of the Strokes. The songs are all crafted without regard for the classic ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song structure and free of any cliché. I think it was a triumph. The guitar work was a lot more sophisticated and Jules Casablancas actually sang with some emotion on these tracks. This might (MIGHT) be the best Strokes album to date.
#1) Spank Rock-Yoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo
I wanna be clear: this record was without question the record of the year. Nobody else was even close. Once I heard it, it was a competition for second. The most exciting thing to happen to music in a long time. The production is wild: funky and grimey yet fluid and fresh. That description made absolutely no sense. But it’s not because my vocabulary is weak, but because Spank Rock is so good that no written description can do it justice. You really have to hear it to understand what it’s all about. But one thing is clear: it is fun, dirty, and phat. I think that their myspace describes their sound like: Fat Girls popping champagne in a Jacuzzi. That is so accurate it’s not even funny. These songs are perfect for every scenario: clubbing, cruising, shagging, head nodding, working out, whatever. Basically perfect for living. Perfect for everything except studying, and that’s only because when you hear it, you wanna shake your shit. Honestly Spank Rock is killin’ it. Yoyoyoyoyo holds the crown because it is completely original, nothing out there sounded like it, and the songs never got old and never failed to put a smile on my face.
Worst Albums of 2006
12 tracks, one listenable one. Did I mention, that I REALLY miss Rage Against the Machine?
As much as I miss RATM and Face to Face and Death From Above 1979, at least those bands had the courtesy to break up rather than staying together and putting out shitty records. I mean this album has what 20 tracks and only 2 where they rap together (along with Snoop and L’il Weasel to serve as a buffer). Oh yeah and the title is ‘Hollywood Divorce’? Just break up already, fuck.
Angels and Airwaves-We don’t Need To Whisper
Tom promised his new band would have the ‘conceptual depth of Pink Floyd and the anthemic architecture of U2.’ Really? Word? This is coming from the guy who ran all over town naked in his video, titled an album ‘Take of Your Pants and Jacket’ and wrote Ben Wah Balls? I haven’t heard anything more pretentious in my life.
The Streets- The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
This hurts me because the two previous Streets albums are two of my all time favourites. But I just can’t relate to this one. I can relate to being broke, drunk and feckless. I can’t relate to cocaine binges, buying Ferraris or dating models and pop stars…although if you know anyone….
(+44)-When Your Heart Stops Beating
Not as bad as AvA, but not as good as Blink 182 was. Yeah that’s right I liked Blink-182. After all, I was once in high school. There is one good song on this record: ‘Make You Smile’ sounds like a mixture of The Postal Service and Blink which is what I was told this record would sound like. But I guess when Carol Heller left the band, they just got 2 of the most ‘punk looking’ guys that they could find and decided to re-name their band Blink-226.
Clipse-Hell Hath No Fury
This was the most over hyped hip-hop album of all time. It has been shelved for 3 years and all we were told is that it was a classic. It was just so hot they couldn’t release it because of the hotness. After the mixtape, that was a realistic expectation. But it really seems like the Neptunes just kept all of their minimalist beats from the past 3 years and Clipse threw some lazy rhymes about selling dope behind them.
Great production. Lazy rhymes about being the Mike Jordan of Rap and the new darling of the corporate world. Why don’t you stop making records and go back to hanging out with Fall Out Boy, Rhianna and Louis XIV.
I almost bought this, just so that I could play with the stickers, but then I listened to it and was so bored that I realized I wouldn’t be able to stay awake long enough to create my own album cover. Boring.
ZZZZ boring. I mean I like Tom Petty too, but a double album of Tom Petty covers? Actually this album was so boring that i couldn't even listen to the whole thing, maybe I just caught the boring songs.
Foo Fighters-Skin and Bones
Obviously Dave Grohl thinks that a live acoustic record means playing the soft songs at a slower tempo. This doesn't work, B its just boring. The only arrangement on this album that I can stand to listen to is 'Next Year'. I am weary of comparing Foo Fighters to Nirvana, but Unplugged Live in New York was good because it gave the songs a new light and showed a haunting, darker side of Nirvana that was burried under layers of distorted guitars. Skin and Bones reveals how boring Foo Fighter songs are when you play them slowly.
Some more Good Records
I was never big into AOF but I heard the first single thought it was good. And the rest of the album is even better. I like the fact that AOF has 3 different vocalists with three different sounds, its like having 3 diferent bands in one. Something that QOTSA perfected.
Arctic Monkeys-Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I am Not
Seeing as how these blokes are only 19, this album is solid. Call it what you want: post-punk, garage rock-britpop. Just call it good cuz that's what it is.
Sway-This is my Demo
Hillarious, witty British rap with a very smooth flow. Its great to hear a British Rapper without gimmicks (like trying to be über-british or trying to be American). Sway is what he is, a second Generation East Londoner (via Ghana) with a sick flow.
The Coup-Pick a Bigger Weapon
Proof that ultra-political music can be be funky. Boots Riley kills it as a lyricist. And no album cover drama this time. (album art was created in June 2001, months before the September 11th attacks)
Peaches-Impeach My Bush
Best Album Title Ever. This album had some really great cameos (Josh Homme, Joan Jett, Feist), and Peaches minimalist production is creates a very sexy, aggresive sound. Her lyrics are intimidating though. I like her, but I'm pretty sure I'm afraid of her. She really doesn't give a fuck. On this album she really bridges the gap between sexual dissent and political dissent. Her originality and fearlessness is what I like about her.
Eagles of Death Metal- Death by Sexy
'It ain't Bible Study, it's rock 'n roll'-Jesse 'The Devil' Hughes. Truer words haven't been spoken.
The Zutons-Tired of Hanging Around
I like the Zutons. I like this record. I like the fact that they have a saxophonist in their band. And I like the fact that they play psychedelic funk, and mix it with birtpop. Just a good record.
Boot Camp Click-The Last Stand
The best hiphop supergroup of all time. (Sorry Wu-Tang). These songs are raw, gritty, authentic street hiphop. Unrelated but this was also the best rap show I've seen in a long time these songs sound even better live.
Meh...the rest of them
These are OK albums that weren't great, weren't bad. They just didn't inspire me or draw my ire. But I might throw 'em on if there's nothing else to listen to (which never happens)
Lupe Fiasco-Food and Liquor
Should be called Oatmeal and Water cause it is so bland.
Yeah I like to cover Led Zeppelin songs too. But I didn't build my whole public persona around that fact. Oh yeah, and just because you are a white guy with an afro, doesn't mean that your band sounds anything like Mars Volta.
The cover looks like an R+B record.
Thom Yorke- The Eraser
'Radiohead-lite and electrolycized.' Got that out of your system Thom? Good, now get to work on the new Radiohead album.
The Raconteurs-Broken Boy Soldiers
Oh Jack White's in theis band? And he's got a real drummer? Great, these songs are still kinda boring.
Busta Rhymes-The Big Bang
Touch it, Move it, Play it, Watch it.....for the millionth time.
Stuff I downloaded, but haven't really listened to yet (tell me if its good)
The Black Keys
OK I think that outta cover it. Until next year. (two weeks)
Bloc Party (even though I've had it for a month)
QOTSA (is JFK on this or what?)
The Good The Bad and The Queen
Top Live Shows of 2004
OK Friends, as you all know from my previous e-mail 2k4 has been a good year for music. I've made it a point to check out a lot of concerts this year because to me, the mark of a good musician is the ability to play their material live for a crowd and have that crowd go nuts. I also have made it a point to not waste time with music that I don't like, so everybody who I saw this year are artist that I love and respect. As many of you on this list know from last nights Nas show, I wasn't impressed in the least. I will go as far as saying this is the worst live show that I have ever seen (I will explain further below). He're how it stacks up to the rest of the live shows that I saw this year.
But first let me just say that a concert is a very personal experience, it is between you and the artist on stage so everybody's experience is different. To me a good concert must entail the following criteria:
* a good setlist (the right mix of old and new songs)
* The ability to move the crowd
* The ability to perfrom the songs at a level that is better or equal to the quality on the record (why should I pay money to hear a show that is below the quality of the album? If thats the case I'd just rent a karaoke machine)
* the cost ratio (I'm not tight when it comes to money, but it is important when you sacrifice a week's worth of grocery money and pay $50 for a show that you get your moneys worth)
* ability to work with the venue (this is kinda outside of the artist's control but you have to be able to work with the space=> a good artist can rock a dank alleyway if that's what's given to them)
* crowd ( I'm probably contradicting myself because earlier I said that its between you and the band, but admit it, it makes a difference when everyone around you is singing the songs word for word and going nuts)
* To a lesser extent: the quality of the opener. ITs a full package. (ex: the best show that i've ever seen was Rage Against the Machine- my favourite rock group and who opened for them? Gangstarr, my favourite rap group..... and Queens of The Stone Age, who I hadn't heard of at the time, but are sick: don't sleep on their 3 albums)
* Ability to meet or exceed expectations (if you are like me: all week before the show you are anticipating what to expect. You have a vision in your head of what the show should look/ sound/ smell like)
#1) The Streets (June 25/ Mod Club/-$20/ opener: DJ sassale)=> I really expected the show to be him up there 'rapping' with a little mpc box providing the beats. But he came with a tight 4 peice band and the beats sounded so much bigger and more epic. He performed mostly stuff from the OPM album (which is miles better then the new record). But played the best half of the new record. And then finished with a cover of RATM-Freedom. Mod club was a sick venue to see a show, and I was able to score tix for the afterparty and chill with the band. He performed at a level that was way above the record, and before ' Too much brandy' he took out a bottle of brandy and poured 6 ounces down my throat. Awesome. Moreover, the show was only 20 bucks. Top this: you can't.
#2) Face to Face (Aug 24/ Kool Haus/ $27/ opener: my chemichal romance) Fare well tour. LAst time to see Face perform and they stepped up to the plate. They played all the best songs from S/T and HTRE. The crowd was on point, singing every song word for word. The pit was rough but, controlled: if anybody fell down someone picked them up. The band was up on stage joking and smiling the entire show. Honestly, not as good as the first Face show (legendary, Jordan you know the stories), but good enough to be the 2nd best show that I've seen this year.
#3) Dizzee Rascal (March 5/Mod Club/ $15/ opener: DJ Sasalee) Apparently this was Dizzee's first show in North America. He was on point. His lyrical flow is dangerous and he doesn't just stand there and yell into the mic like most rappers. He only had his debut record out at this point so the set was a bit short (45-1 hour) but he had some nice 'freestyles' over shitty L'il Jon beats.
#4) Franz Ferdinand (June 14/ Kool Haus/ $25/ opener: sons and daughters, we missed controller.controller) They only had material from the debut album and a few B sides. SO the show was short (45 mins) but it was sick. THey sound so much better live then they do on record.
#5) Beastie Boys ( November 8/ ACC/ $55/ opener Talib Kweli) 'In keeping with the 'George W. Bush is a dick theme', this next song is called SABOTAGE!' That line summed it up and helped me get over my post election blues. I'd been waiting 5 years for this show after the Rhyme and Reason tour got canned; and they came correct. They played alot of material off of the old records, even some choice stuff off of Paul's Boutique (their best album,also their most slept on album). The best part about this show was that they did 2 instrumental sets to calm the crowd down and set the vibe. The only cons about this show were the venue and the price. But it was still worth it.
#6) THe Roots (May 13/Kool Haus/ opener: Jean Grae) The Best Live Hip hop group of all time. Not beacuse of the 10 minute guitar solo. Not beacuse of the 12 minute percussion solo. Not because Black THought is probably the most underated MC. But simply because everytime they perform live its something fresh and new. And the covers that they do are sick.
#7) Mos Def (Oct 27/Docks/$45/ opener MOP) Mos was on stage for close to 2 hours and gave it his all. By the end he was visibly spent. He played material from the Black Star Album, Black on Both SIdes and a couple of tracks from the new record. THe only low points were: that stupid second vocal mic and when he brought Esthero on for that one song. Other than that it was flawless, but where was Q-Tip at? And he really needed a live band instead of a DJ to perform some of the Black Jack Johnson stuff.
#8) DJ Premier (Feb 21/ SOund Emporium/ $15) The Greatest Producer in the history of rap. Any DJ that can play Biggie/Mobb Deep/MOP/ Steve Miller Band/Nirvana/Eurythmics/Prince/Rick James/ and James Brown in the same set and not have people all confused? Deserves all the praise in the world.
#9) Gift of gab (Sept 25/ Kathedral/$15 opener: DJ Mike Relm) A tight hip hop show in a hole in the wall club. THis what i'm talking about ability to work the venue. THis guy pretty much performed while standing on top of a milk crate. And Gift of Gab is a big dude, he's gotta be about 240 lbs. ANd the opener Mike Relm, had a disgusting set. Started off with Jimi Henderix-Fire and then Mixed in Simon and Garfunkel-Sound of Silence with Neptunes-Light Ya Ass on FIre. All without headphones!!! Stop and think about what that means for a second.
#10) Jeru the Damaja w/ Special Ed (Some time in the Summer/ Some park in Toronto/ Free!) Free hip hop shows are usually a bad idea. But this one was on point. Jeru and SPecial Ed showed all of these whack New School cats how to rap correctly. None of this screaming into the mic shit (all you gotta do is speak into it, there is a reason why it is amplified). I could actually make out what each lyric meant and I didn't even know all of the songs.
#11) AB/CD (SOme time in the Summer/ Wing Shack/ $5) ACDC cover band were awesome! The venue was weak and the crowd (aside from the 10 of us going nuts) was weak. But the band ruled. If you closed you eyes you would've thought that it was ACDC. They prettty much played a 3rd set just for us.
#Dead Last) Nas (Yesterday/Kool Haus/ and arm and a leg/opener: Royce da 5 '9- oh wait where was Royce at????) The Nas show can be discribed in 3 words: Dissapointing. Extremely Dissapointing. I think it takes a lot of guts to step out and say 'yeah I payed $50 for a concert and it sucked' BUt this is the truth. I could just lie and be like ' yea the concert was great!' But Nas isn't going to get off that easy. The first show sold out in like a day, so then they added a second show at 5:30. First off, this was quite possibly the worst idea i've ever heard. A double header? This is a bad idea in baseball but possibly a worse idea in rap. HIs new album is absolutely bananas! (that's for you Aku) SO my question is: why didn't he play anything from it ( he played 4 songs from a double album that had 25 tracks on it) I could rant on this for days so I'm gonna just go through the criteria and show how Nas failed to meet them
* The setlist sucked. How are you gonna perform snippets of Oochie Wally and Nastradamus? Theses are widely known to be some of your worst songs. The good thing is that he played a lot of shit off of Illmatic, but where was the New Material at? When you just released your best album in 10 years, you have a duty to play some of it.
* The quality of his performance was weak as hell. He yelled into the mic. He used a backing track. And he didn't even rap properly=> he would just rap some of the words and let the crowd do the rest of the work-laziness.
* Where the fuck was Royce at? I though he was supposed to be opening?
* The bouncers took my ticket stub. I asked for it back and they told me to fuck off. I argued with the guy for a bit and he was on the verge of thorwing me out, so i just let it go. I like to keep my ticket stubs as a memento. Not that this night was that memorable, but still, i paid $50 bucks for this, can I have something to show for it?
* Final question: how necessary was it for Nas to take his shirt off? Don't take yourself too seriously, buddy.
* For $50 this wasn't at all worth it, If i could demand my money back I would.
Maybe I'm really bitter because I've been waiting 3 years for this show. I'm not even going to get into what happened 3 years ago, since that was one of the worst nights of my life. But last night was a collossal dissapointment. I wish I had gone to see the $10 Clash Tribute Band instead.
Obviously I'm not 'Rich Uncle Skeleton', so I can't go to every show and there are a few that I missed and regretted missing because I heard good things afterwards:
* Kanye West (His album had just some out and I didn't think he would be good, but I heard he killed it)
* Yeah yeah yeahs (They were still on the verge of blowing up and I didn't think the show would sell out so quick- the lesson is: don't hesitate)
* Metric/Billy Talent (Another example of hesitation leading to masturbation, the show sold out quickly)
* Ratatat/ Mouse on Mars (Same day as the Mos Def, I think I made the right decision but I still wanted to se Ratatat)
* Green Day presents: American Idiot (Matt: this is entirely your girlfriend's fault: she is a fucking loser. Seriously, she sucks.)
* The Killers (First time i've ever won anything free in my life, and I couldn't go. This is a real shitty story)
* Peaches (I heard that this show was spectacle- strap-on and all)
OK I'm sorry that this e-mail was so long, but I had a lot to get off my chest and I didn't want to have the same conversation 20 times trynta explain to each of you why the Nas show sucked so badly. Its a tough position to take but someones gotta say it. Take it at face value, at the end of the day, its just my opinion. Let me know what you think, and if you actually enjoyed the show tell me how this was possible.
Top Albums of 2005
Uh, I always like making lists, and writing long op-ed peices about music. I'm soo tired and lazy right now that i can't even fuck with that. I couldn't even narrow it down 10 so i got 15+ albums that were part of the the soundtrack of my life this year. but 2005 is almost over so here's my abreviated list. If you wanna hear in depth commentary, lets all get together of a beer or twelve. PS I want to hear your lists, word of mouf is the best way to hear about good music. I'm sure there is plenty that i've missed, lemme know.
top 10 (or 15) albums + extras
#1: Bloc Party Silent Alarm- No question about it. Indie/Britpop/No wave might be a fad right now, but this band and this album stand above everybody as the absolute truth.
#2: Gorillaz- Demon Days- Yes the geo-political system is very depressing post 9/11 and this album cryptically articulates exactly how i feel about it all.
#3: Little Brother-The Minstrel Show- I love Hip Hop. I will always love hip hop. But fuck BET (who refused to play Little Brother's vids because the were deemed 'too smart' for the BET audience). And fuck commercial radio for snubbing these guys. But honestly who has time to watch tv and listen to the radio? Just tune into the minstrel show. Best rap record of 2005 by far.
#4 QOTSA- Lullabies to Paralyze Best Rock Record of 2005. BEst Rock Band out right now, period.
#5 MIA- Arular- This CD is so good that I lent it to a friend and she never gave it back. SHe said she 'lost' it, i don't believe her.
#6 Dangerdoom- The Mouse and the Mask- I just bough it on Monday so I might be a little biased but MF Doom is one of the best MCs alive right now, and Dngermouse's production is nuts. If I listened to this album longer it might have gone a bit higher
#7 Damian Marley- Welcome to Jamrock- Like Mandeville said Bob can finally rest in peice. This album is just unbelievably versatile. The show was even better.
#8 Common- Be- Great Record. Great MCing. Great Production. This is real Hip Hop. Only complaint is that it is too short. But than again Dark Side of the Moon is only like 39 mins.
#9 Beck -Guero LTD ed.- Beck is awesome, this record is awesome. His beat is correct. The remixes up the bracket on this one.
# 10 Beanie Sigel- The B. Coming- This is how good B. Mack could be. Great record.
#11 Kanye West- Late Registration- Many people automatically put this album at the top of their list. Its good, but I mean its not better than the Common album. Kanye made all the beats on Common's record but Common is a 100 times a better rapper than Kanye so that makes common's album better. But adding Jon Brion to the production made this one more melodic than the first Kanye, and there was now workout plan on this one, so it gets the nod.
#12 LCD Soundsystem S/T- This album is so funky that even white people can dance well to it.
#13 Buckshot/9th Wonder- Chemistry - More under the radar hip hop doing it for me.
#14 The Mitchell Brothers- A Breath of Fresh Attire. Like the Streets but better rapping and more Drunken Escapades.
# 15 Foo Fighters- In your Honor- Not Quite Physical Grafitti, but still an ambitious, classic rock record. The Acoustic side will surprise you (Jon Paul Jones/Josh Homme/Norah Jones all make appearances)
more records that I like
-NIN-with Teeth- Never was a NIN fan but this album is good and i got into it
-Missy- the cookbook- she's awesome. Some of her lyrics are absolute gibbereish, but she's an innovator and I respect that
Some Terrible Albums (that I wasted my time actually listening to)
* Audioslave- Out of Exile
* Weezer- Make Believe
Stuff I haven’t heard yet but I know I will like (please lemme know)
K'Naan- Dusty Foot Traveler
Metric-Live It Out
Test Icicles- For Screening Purposes Only
Babyshambles- Fuck Forever (is that even what its called?… Oh wait ‘Down in Albion’. Just doesn’t have the same ring as Fuck Forever)
Stuff I am eagerly awaiting in 2006
* OutKast- Idlewild Soundtrack
* Strokes- First Impressions of Earth
* New Eagles of Death Metal
* New Yeah Yeah Yeahs?
* New DFA1979?
* New Bloc Party?
* New PJ Harvey?
* New Desert Sessions
corrections to my 2004 list. (Upon Further review.)
two albums that were on my stuff i haven't heard yet list were definately 2 of the best of 2004
-Ghostface- Pretty Tony LP: can replace # 9 Beastie Boys- To the 5 Boroughs which isn't nearly as good as I thought it was.
-DFA1979- Your a Woman I'm a Machine: this Record was #3 of last year replacing Street's Disciple. This Album may prove to be on my 25 favourite record of all time. Its fierce.
PS send me your lists. I'm interested.
Happy Kwanzaa and Prosperous New Year
Top Albums of 2004
Since its December, I'm done exams, I'm bored and my brain is still throbbing, I thought I'd put the brainpower to good use and share my list of top 10 albums released in 2004 with you.
1) The Streets-A Grand don't Come for Free (The ultimate concept album, amazing storytelling ability; full of things that I can relate to: mainly being broke and feckless)
2) Dangermouse-The Grey Album (singlehandely made me appreciate Jay-z and the Beatles more at the same time. Wow.)
3) Death From Above 1979- You're a Woman, I'm a Machine (Fucking Fierce. Never heard anything like this before. Heavy Distorted, Dance Punk. Sounds like a damn army, but only two guys on Bass and Drums)
4) Dizzee Rascal-Showtime (Simple Beats and Intricate rhyme scheme=> very good combo, sick production)
5) Ratatat- S/T (An instrumental synth-electro rock record. Digusting.
6) Green Day-American Idiot (A punk rock opera with two 9 minute epics- green day's best album yet-'yes its better than Dookie')
7) Mos Def- The New Danger (The most ambitious record of the year- beautifully fuses all elements of black music: Rap, Soul and Rock n Roll)
8) Franz Ferdinand S/T (Stylish art-rock=> where did these guys come from)
9) Beastie Boys - To the 5 boroughs (15 song love letter to NY=> authentic Hip Hop done right)
10) Kanye West- College Dropout (substract 'workout plan' (one of the worst songs of the year) from this album and it might have cracked the top 5)
HM) Metric-Old World Underground Where Are You now? (Nice mix of Garage Rock, and synth pop)
HM) De La Soul- The Grind Date (one of the most consistant groups in all of music come correct as always)
HM) The Roots- The Tipping Point (probably their weakest album, but still sick and better than 90% of the stuff out there)
Special Releases (Live Albums, Re-Issues, Box Sets or Greatest Hits)
The Clash -London Calling 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition
HM) Miles Davis- Seven Steps
Most Experimental Album (A great album, that doesn't sound at all like anything else out there)
TV on the Radio-Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Some diverse, robotic, soulful ambiant rock)
List of ALbums I haven't heard, but have been told to check out because they are good
Ghostface Killah-The Pretty Toney Album
The Zutons-Who Killed the Zutons
Jean Grae- This week
alright folks that's all for now, obviously I'm bored and interested in what you guys think so if you have as much time as I do (doubtful) send me your list.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Keith Olbermann speaks the truth
Olbermann on GOP Fearmongering
Friday, October 06, 2006
Stop Actin' Like a Bitch and Put Yo Hands Up!
Spank Rock and Dr. Octagon Tonight @ the Opera House. Recognize, fool. I haven't put up a concrt review in a while (even though I've been to The Streets, Ratatat and BCC amongst other great shows), but I'm pretty pumped about this show so, I'll try and fill you in. Holler.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
'For One Night Everything was Normal Again...'
My last post was extremely ambivalent about the re-opening of the Superdome and as I put it , it was 'The Most important game in the history of Monday Night Football'. I must say that I was extremely sceptical at the ability of ESPN to put things into perspective, but to their credit they actually did a great job. They used their forum responsibly and struck a ballance between entertainment and awareness. Edutainment was the term I used.
Tony Kornheiser made a great point in his opening remarks when he said that 'the outcome of this game is irrelevant, this game is about symbols.' He was completely right the symbolism that for 4 hours everybody can use sports to just feel normal again, to feel human again. To forget about the destruction and the despair of the past 13 months and just enjoy something positive that everybody can root for. ESPN did a great job of reminding everybody that while it is great that the Saints are back in New Orleans, the city is still years away from being back and that a tremendous amount of work still needs to be done. They reminded us of the horrors of Katrina and reminded us that there are people who lost everything who still need our help. Hopefully this galvanizes people to get out and do something to help those who are still suffering the effects of Katrina.
They also brought in Spike Lee into the booth for a few minutes, and talked with him about his impression fo the game and Spike echoed the sentiment of the night that 'its great that for 4 hours we can all come together and enjoy the game, but for many people after the 4 hours its back to their FEMA trailer.' One highlight was when Tony Kornheiser tried to coax Spike into a making a political statement:
TK: Spike, you've seen all of the damage of Hurricane Katrina on this community, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of New Orleans.
SL(laughing): 'I'm not gonna pull a Kanye.'
TK (laughing): 'Politically correct Spike Lee, I've never seen that before'
Either way, Spike didn't have to say anything about Katrina because his documentary speaks for itself. (more on that later).
Green Day and U2 performed, which was whack. I still maintain that they should have gotten some native New Orleans musicians to perform. But Thed Edge from U2 has a fundraising project to to get new instruments for musicians who lost theirs in the storm. I can respect that. I'm still ambivalent about the future of New Orleans, and there is much cause for concern. But yesterday's football game did a fantastic job of showing the power of sports. This game was bigger and more powerful than any SuperBowl I've ever watched, it had an underlying emotion and like Kornheiser said: had symbolism behind it that I've never seen before. If you have anydoubts about the power of sports, watch a replay of this game. But understand that its not the end all and be all. So much needs to be done still and this game was just a something to make people happy and make them feel normal again.
More on Katrina and Spike Lee's doc soon.
Friday, September 22, 2006
The Most Important Game in the History of Monday Night Football
For almost 4 decades, Monday Night Football has been a staple of American television. With an average viewership of 9 million households every week, MNF is a slice of modern
There is no doubt that this is a great opportunity for America to stand up and show its resilience and will to rebuild in the face of tragedy (remember that in the weeks following Katrina, there were many calling for the structure to be demolished). This is also an opportunity to show that the city of
This weeks broadcast of Monday Night Football is an important showcase for the city of
The NFL and ESPN are using this game to show that
We all remember the dreadful sights, and the stories that came from within the Superdome a year ago. We recall seeing the roof of the structure ripped open, the washrooms overflowing with human excrement. All of that can be repaired, cleaned up, painted over and washed away (at the price tag of 187 million, no less). But what about the people? We should not wash our collective memory clean of the people who bore the brunt of this tragedy. The memory should still be fresh in our mind of the 2 elderly people who died inside the Superdome because there were no designated medical staff and no established sick bay to accommodate the vulnerable. We remember the man who jumped from the balcony because the squalid conditions in the Superdome triggered post traumatic memories of the war. We recall the tens of thousands who sought refuge in the Superdome as a shelter of last resort, but were helpless to find that there was no water purification equipment on site, no chemical toilets, no anti-biotics, no anti-diarrhoeals, no electricity. The people who carried on for 4 days without food water or basic amenities should not be forgotten, because these are the people who are struggling to get their lives back together today.
One of the most memorable moments of MNF was when the tragic murder of John Lennon was announced live on the air-this had nothing to do with football, but rather with the climate of current events. The broadcast of this game between the Falcons and the Saints has nothing to do with two undefeated teams but rather with the soul of an entire city that was abandoned and deeply scarred a year ago. As a society, we should not be fooled; the healing process is moving along very slowly.
The NFL has a wonderful ‘socialist’ revenue-sharing system that has enabled the Saints to rebuild their home. Who or what is enabling the tens of thousands of Katrina evacuees to rebuild their homes, and their schools, and their hospitals, and their churches, and their businesses? A year on, there is no portable water, no electricity no plan to rebuild parts of the 9th ward and St. Bernard Parrish. Public town housing areas such as the Lafeyette housing project that weren’t even affected by Katrina has seen its residents locked out and boarded up by the city, because it is prime real estate for the ‘new’
The people of Houston, who generously opened their hearts and homes to the New Orleans evacuees, have lost their patience and are calling for the New Orleans evacuees to leave their city and return home, I only assume that an unbalanced, superficial portrait of a rebuilt, refurbished Superdome as a symbol for the city will mislead Houstonians to thinking that the entire city of New Orleans is rebuilt as well.
Ostensibly, the NFL announced that the Saints have sold out its entire home schedule for the first time in franchise history. This coming barely a year after the largest natural (and partially man-made) disaster in American history. If you believe that they truly sold out the home season, what does this say about our society and the importance that it places on sports? Make no mistake, its great that the Superdome is rebuilt and that football is back in
Sunday, September 17, 2006
"I don't think today is the day for a political discussion...."
I haven't had time to speak on the college shooting at Dawson College in Montreal earlier this week, but I gotta say that it is a terrible tragedy. My immediate reaction is to ask why this happened and how this happened. Apparently the gunman had several firearms registered in his name. Its very hard to make sense of why this happened but my head tells me that logically if this guy didn't have access to firearms, whether they be assault rifles or handguns, this would not have happened.
Whether you are liberal, conservative or whatever, we can all agree that assault rifles and hanguns don't serve any useful purpose in our society. The pro-gun lobby says, well we need guns to hunt for sport. Well you don't go hunting elk with an AK-47. And you don't hunt ducks with a Glock. Handguns are meant to be concealed and they serve one purpose, to kill other people. Conservatives say that they are hard on crime, but I think that is a joke because when asked about re-opening the gun control debate Mr. Harper said that it would e a knee jerk reaction, and that it isn't time to talk about gun control.
OK then, Mr. Prime Minister. I ask you: if when a crazed gunman storms a college classroom randomly shooting 20 innocent people and killing 1 young woman isn't an appropriate time to talk about gun control, than when is? Oh right I know the answer: when your party doesn't form the government. Because when Jane Creba was shot on boxing day in broad daylight on Yonge st. and you were the leader of the official opposition it seemed like a fine time to raise the gun control issue.
Gun control isn't a partisan issue. We all want to live in a safe society, where we don't have the live in fear. The best way to stop the killing is to keep guns out of peoples' hands.We need to analyze the gun control issue because safety of all Canadians is beneficial.
Here's another point that just came to me. People in the gun lobby always say 'well the majority of violent crime is perpetrated by the use of illegal guns, law abiding citizens should have the right to legally own guns to protect themselves.' Fair enough, but what if my neighbours, Mr. and Mrs Johnson are both law abiding citizens who legally own 3 hanguns and .22 calibre rifle. Lets say that they go away to Florida for a few weeks summer vacation and when they come back home, someone broke into their house, stealing their 70 inch plasma screen and also making off with their small arsenal of legally owned/registered guns that had safely stowed away in Mr. Johnson's study. Now you have legal guns in the hands of the wrong people.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Requisite 9/11 Post
I'm not going to use this place today to go on my usual rant because that would be using 9/11 as a platform to push my own agenda, which would be in poor taste. Rememberance of what took place that morning should lead us to sober thought about what is important about life. How sacred it is, how fragile it is and how we should understand that we are all connected in this world. There are many lessons to be learned from 9/11 and we are still learning them everyday.
September 11th 2001 is one of those days/events that define a generation. I feel that unfortunately our society is spectating; viewing 9/11 it as a history that we are seeing unfold infront of our eyes like a sort of production. When the truth is that we are living that history, and we are that history. For us to truly apply the lessons that we have learned from 9/11, we must think and act with the understanding that every thought and action is affect the course of history.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Is there anything they can't do?
Monday, August 14, 2006
The New Danger: The Project For The New American Century
I know I may be biased so lets try this: the PNAC is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle. That ialicized part comes straight from their own website, I didn't change a word. I first discovered PNAC in 2002, not too long after 9/11, which they have used as a springboard to launch their agenda. The thing I find interesting about PNAC is that they are so blatant about what they do, and yet they are so clueless that 'trying to take over the world' is a terrible ideathat won't work. The Iraq war was their first real experiment to spread democracy and American ideals and it has been a collosal faillure.
I find it funny that even conservatives are uneasy to the idea of PNAC and its mission. I remember a few years back when I was talking to my good friend (who happens to be a conservative) and asked her what she thought about PNAC. Well no surprise she hadn't heard of it, or that all these guys (Jeb Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld) who founded PNAC were the ones who were directing American policy. I told her that that they are spreading American ideals all across the globe and that it is all clearly written on their website. She incredulously dissmised my 'facts' as left wing conspiracy theories. I told her I'd send her the URL and she was like I don't wanna waste my time with your internet hoaxes, such a thing doesn't exist. So that was the end of that. No discussion, no clue. But yeah we have all lived through the New American Century for the Past 6 years and in the spirit of the man who inspired the PNAC I have to ask: 'Are you better off then you were 6 years ago?'
Here's a great interview with William Kristol (director of PNAC) on the Colbert Report. Although its a comedy show, it gives you an idea of what they are all about (if it wasn't already clear enough).
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Cold as Ice...
The truth is that for Stephen Harper, it isn't. Every decision that he has made as PM (caving on softwood, extending Afghanistan mission, limiting press coverage, not denouncing Israeli offensive in Lebanon) has been to repair our relations with (re: suck up to) the Bush administration. The Bush administration have repeatedly shown that AIDS is not a priority of their government. So since Canada no longer forges its own foreign policy, AIDS isn't a priority to this government either. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal or whatever, as a Canadian, you should be offended by Harper's actions today. AIDS is the global epidemic of our time, and for our head of government, to be complacent about it is deplorable.
Friday, August 11, 2006
"The Purpose of Art is to Provoke Introspective Thought"
Afropunk- This movie is wicked. It explores what it is like to be black in the punk/hardcore scene. Basically what its like to be an outsider in an outsider community. But its deeper than racial identity: the movie explores issues of isolation, social exile, black power, defying stereotypes, appropriation of culture, the hisory of black music, interracial dating, cultural aesthetics, political music, individuality, rebellion and a million other issues. I really loved this movie, partly cause I love punk music and can relate to being the only black guy at the punk show. But more than that, the movie addresses the larger issues of community and identity. And the sountrack for the movie is killer.
Just for Kicks- I've established that I'm a sneakerhead. I love sneakers, this documentary breaks down what sneaker culture is all about. It gives an insider look as to the nuances in styles of sneakers and the lengths that a true 'sole collector' will go to for his kicks. Also it goes into the history of the sneaker phenomenon and how Hip Hop culture (think Run-DMC) and basketball (think Michael Jordan) influenced corporate America and made sneakers a billion dollar a year industry. The movie is funny and very entertaining but more than anything you don't realize how big of an effect hip hop culture has had on corporate America. It begs the question, is it a cultural exchange or is it exploitation?
Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme- Basically the best documentary ever made about rap music. This movie breaks down the lyrical art of freestlying. I like it because it took the contrarian view of rap music: that when you boil it down to its essence, freestlying is about artistic expression. Pretty much everybody that they feature in this movie isn't rapping because they want the bling, benzes, bitches and Bacardi. They are rapping out of passion for the music and because they need an outlet for their expression.
"They Should've Just Left...."
If you are paying attention to what's happening in the Middle East right now then you have undoubtably heard every possible opinion on the Israel-Lebanon story. But here's a new one and I can't believe I heard it. Two weekends ago Israeli forces launched an attack on a Lebanese village, killing 56 civilians (mostly defensless women and children). The Israeli government justified such an abhorrent act by saying that flyers were dropped hours before the attack was launched, and the people were warned as to what was coming. That may be tue but it by no mean justifies what took place.
I got into an argument with a friend of mine who likened the Lebanese victims of this attack to the victims of Hurricane Katrina last year. She said that she didn't understand the mindset of these Lebanese villagers, that they are unwilling to leave their homes and basically stopped short of saying that it was their fault for not leaving their homes. I personally was disgusted by this mode of thinking. First off you can't compare a deliberate act of war to a natural disaster. Secondly, my friend totally takes for granted that when you are impoverished and beleagured it is difficult to just leave your home in such chaotic circumstances. It is difficult for a number of reasons: 1) you don't have the means to leave: If you are a poor Black family of 6 on wellfare in New Orleans you can't just pack up all of your Louis Vuiton bags in your SUV and go and stay in a hotel for a week. You probably don't have a car, you don't have money to be on the run for an indeterminant amount of time, and you don't have the resources to take care of your family's health and wellbeing without any support structure. 2) Where are you supposed to go? You and your family are not a nomadic tribe. If you have nowhere to go and nowhere to stay, why would you risk all the uncertainty only to become more vulnerable 3)All you have is your house and separation anxiety sets in and you may have trouble letting go and leaving.
The same goes to these Lebanese villagers: how were they supposed to get out? where were they supposed to go? who was gonna help them get out? No amount of flyers could answer these questions.
With Katrina, the US government was complicit because they knew that the storm was coming and they should have sent the national guard in to assist people with the evacuation. They should have ensured that people had the means to get out safely and take care of their families.
The Lebanese government has a responsibility to denounce Hezbollah, but the Israeli side must also realize that if they are fighting the war on terrorism, this is an unconventional war. They can't use conventional war tactics to fight an unconventional threat. Indiscriminant carpet bombings of a country is only killing innocent civilians. If they want to 'break Hezbollah' they should employ counterintelligence programs and halt their reactionary military response, because that is only provoking Hezbollah to respond with their own attack.
edit: And yeah the people in New Orleans who did evacuate and go to the Superdome and the Convention Centre as they were told were not better off. So yeah: 'They should've just left. Right?'
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Art of Boycotting Pt. 2 Companies concentrate on your camp like IBM...
This an old story, but it is a story that hasn't been told to the masses. I myself only learned of it after I watched 'The Corporation' two years ago. Anyways let me give you the abreviated version right now: IBM built their profits by providing Hitler and the 3rd reich with the punch cards that they used in the concentration camps, thus enabling the Germans to process the victims in the camps more efficiently and exterminate them with ease. IBM cannot claim ignornace on this because the president of IBM is seen here enjoying tea with Hitler. Also, IBM regularily sent technicians to the camps to service the machines during the holocaust. So IBM got what they wanted:madd loot. And Hitler got wat he wanted: 6 million dead Jews. So, fuck IBM.
Here's a song by Cadence Weapon where he raps ambivalently about the whole boycotting quagmire. My favourite line is the last one:
'I won't say stop buying, cuz it isn't realistic. Or cop 'em, cuz you wanna make your own damn decisions.'
Cadence Weapon-30 Seconds
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Reading is Fun...damental
Tom Wolfe-I Am Charlotte Simmons
This year I’ve been trying to read a lot more, and I’ve found a great love for books. I used to stick pretty strictly to non-fiction and biographies and what not, but this year I’ve read quite a few novels and I’ve gained a greater appreciation for story telling. Apparently, Tom Wolfe is one of the great writers of our time. I saw documentary on Marshall McLuhan that he hosted and I liked what he had to say. I’ve never had the pleasure reading Wolfe, so I thought I’d start with his latest: I am Charlotte Simmons (all 676 pages of it).
This book is basically a detailed survey of what life is like on the campus of an elite, big time American university (think Duke). Even though I’m a recent graduate of a big-time Canadian University, movies like Animal House, Van Wilder and Old School have assured me that it is a completely different reality from anything I experienced.
The difference between those movies and this book is that those movies are hilarious and celebrate the supposed best 4-7 years of your life. I Am Charlotte Simmons took another view; that the moral decay on the modern University campus is indicative of the greater erosion of societal values. That’s fair enough; I don’t think that Wolfe came to any earth-shattering conclusions. It is pretty common knowledge that college students binge drink, swear profusely, have promiscuous sex, experiment with drugs, cheat on schoolwork, listen to objectionable (?) music and crave popularity or some combination of any or all of the above. But 676 pages of it? Ironically, the best part about reading the book is that Wolfe has an incredible talent for description, and his descriptive, literary techniques stretch the book out farther then it needs to be. But also keep the reader’s interest and keeps the reader’ eyes glued to the page. He also challenges the reader with his impressive vocabulary and idiosyncratic word choice.
One beef I had with I Am Charlotte Simmons is that it is supposed too be very accurate, based on research that Wolfe did at a handful of American Universities (Stanford, Michigan, UNC, Penn), but one of his markers of moral decay is rap music. He continually brings up this preposterous caricature of a fictional rapper named Dr. Dis who everybody on campus listens to. And the even more preposterous lyric that recurs no fewer than 6 times: ‘Suck on my testiculls like a popsicle.’ I mean c’mon there is some very bad Hip Hop out there, and I’m sure that Wolfe could have used a real-life example. But the truth is that as bad as rap music can be sometimes no rapper that is that obscene is as ubiquitous as Dr. Dis was in the book. I think it just underscores the fraudulent perception that rap music is the reason for moral decay in our society. I also thought it was kind of weird since Wolfe freely employed real life examples of Britney Spears, Ben Harper, Dave Mathews and OAR throughout the book. Had he replaced Dr. Dis with someone like Ludacris the reaction would have been ‘hey Ludacris’ lyrics really aren’t that offensive.’ Had he replaced Dr. Dis with an equally obscene rapper like Necro the reaction would have been ‘c’mon nobody listens to Necro.’ Is it an example of Wolfe’s inability to hide his conservative bias or is it simply that he (like most middle aged white adults) is out of touch with youth culture when it comes to music?
Anyways, the book was just okay, some parts were as cheesy as a harlequin novel and some parts were such an enthralling read that you couldn’t put the book down. By the time I realised that it wasn’t a great book I was already 400 pages in and I had to finish it. I wasn’t going to wait a year and a half for the movie to come out. (They are making a movie out of the book due for release in 2007.) The truth is that a movie of this book will be a fucking disaster (but hey Wolfe got 5 million for the rights to the book).
Books are almost without fail superior to the movie adaptations (Da Vinci Code anyone? Edit: I read the book but won’t even bother with the movie). And a movie of I am Charlotte Simmons will be whack as hell and entirely ineffective. I’m assuming that it will be marketed as a warning to incoming naïve college freshman about the ‘realities’ of university life. But the truth is that the movie won’t even be for 17-19 year olds, it will really be for parents to get worried about what really goes on when they ship junior off to university. It will be as sappy as a teen movie but will have too many ‘mature themes’ that an R rating will keep its intended audience 17-18 year olds out of the theatre. And 19-22 year old will be too broke and disinterested to bother going to see it. I think that I should have skipped Charlotte Simmons and gone straight to the Electric Kool Aid and Acid Test.
Here’s a boring interview with Tom Wolfe and John Stewart on the Daily Show.
Sam Smith-The Jordan Rules
I won't get to in depth about this book because unless you are an armchair jock like myself you won't find it too interesting. This is a great book about what really went on with the 1991 NBA Champ Chicago Bulls. Beyond all the glory and champagne, Smith does a great job of describing what really happens behind the curtains of the production that is pro basketball. The reader learns that although Jordan is the greatest player of all time, his competitiveness drives him so far as to insult his teamates and even punch Will Perdue in the face in the middle of a practice. Sports is one of my hobbies so its always great to learn about what happens in the locker room and what drives pro athletes. This book garnered major national attention when it was released and was a huge hurdle for the Bulls in the 1992 season, it was great to read it and get the backstory. All first hand accounts so you know it was legit. And Michael Jordan punched Will Perdue in the face!!!!Mumia Abu-Jamal-Death Blossoms
I've heard a lot about Mumia and his case (thanks to RATM). But the truth is I didn't know much about the man himself and I wanted to learn about him from his own words. For those of you who don't know Mumia is a journalist who is on death row for a crime that he most likely didn't commit. The claims are that he made so many political enemies due to his association with the Black Panther Party and MOVE that he was framed through COINTELPRO. He's been on death row for over 25 years and his appeal for a fair trial has become an international cause. But that's not what Death Blossoms is about.
Death Blossoms is a collection of short essays about race, politics, the media, poverty injustice in America, faith, family, redemption and introspection. These vignettes are truly an amazing read. Its incredible how someone who is about to be sne t to death can write with such lucidity and an honesty that a free man could never write with.
Mumia's writtings really makes you think about the world around you and how you conceptualize it. Even the title Death Blossoms speaks to this: that out of imminent death his thoughts have bloomed into something truly beautiful. He writes his prose with poetic language that is neither pretentious, nor verbose. Here's an excerpt that I enjoyed:
"At first, the differences between a mighty oak and the tiny green acorn seem humongous. But upon reflection, one sees that the only real difference between them is time. You are living acorns in the forest of life, with all the potential, all the powers of the most massive oak tree that ever grew. You are in the process of becoming."
So yeah that is my book review for now. I'm already digging into a seminal classic with Zinn. This one's about 750+ pages so I'll fill you in on that, when I'm done.