27 August 2010

punk music is conservative

if you watch some tv shows from the mid 80s, you'll find that people seemed to think that punk rockers were really terrifying--there were plenty of shows with punks as villains forecasting the moral bankruptcy of the new american generation. and if you listen to the sex pistols or black flag or even the misfits, you can certainly understand where that reaction might have been coming from. not that the "adults" were actually listening closely to this music and parsing the lyrics.

but of course the kind of ethics that a group like minor threat represented would have seemed hunky dory to the protestants that invented the famous work ethic if you had just taken away the chains and grown the hair out. minor threat sang about tearing down a wall, but they were all about building up something, and as ian mackaye's career progressed he became more and more invested in the idea of documentation, taking an almost anthropological zeal in creating a lasting record of the DC "scene" with seemingly no interest in marketability or even broader social relevance. each of his releases as a label head is a little snapshot of his community, which is about as far as one could get from the kind of sensibility that was behind the PIL creating albums that were actually objects like metal box, attempting to denaturalize the idea of commodified music and cast light on the nature of consumer society.

these days it seems like conservative punk has gotten the upper hand--maybe it takes a conservative impulse to keep plowing along after thirty plus years. the bands and artists that were for the radical critique of everything existing haven't had the staying power of the conservers and documenters, and that isn't particularly surprising.

ten was a violent explosion of teenage nihilism, but these days, when something is lost, eddie wants to try and get it back again:


this is something else. totally something else. at first it might seem pretty punk to make a statement against us bombardments, but if you think just who the us is bombing in pakistan, this song can cast the often naïve politics of punk rock in quite a different light.

31 Mai 2009

i heard some crazy bird noise, so i went out to investigate. i found two sparrows fighting in the tree between our house and the neighbors. one was a house sparrow and the other was a regular sparrow. the regular sparrow was making staccato clicking noises and the house sparrow was chirping hard. they were circling and puffing their feathers out. it was enjoyable to watch. a car's horn sounded, which immediately drew all their attention, and shortly after, the house sparrow flew away.

16 Mai 2009

a tiny rabbit just scared the hell out of a squirrel. the squirrel was anxiously eying us through our window. it never saw the tiny rabbit coming.

10 August 2008

Racism key in maintaining segregation

Here's an interesting article that shows how racism will make any attempts at ending urban segregation incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

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No commentary necessary on this one.

03 Mai 2008

the week in racism

there's nothing that white racists like more than getting black people to take each other down. well done, racists. the Wright-Obama throwdown will make a nice spectacle for bigoted mother fuckers the country over. let's be honest, delighting in the degradation of people of color is the real national pastime.

well, whiteys will have a lot more leverage, now that the supreme court has decided to enshrine the disenfranchisement of people of color and poor people in law. god damn america indeed.

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19 April 2008

Words you will never hear an American politician say:

"The American lifestyle is indeed negotiable."

-Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, on This is Hell today, commenting on a necessary admission we must make if we are to confront the global food crisis.




02 April 2008

Ghostface Riot Redux

Looks like the Wally Champ is still beset by chaos at his live gigs. The show, at a large bar in Miami, Ohio, was going fine (Ghost actually turned up on time, it seems) until a half-hour in, when a pale, thin man jumped up on stage and grabbed the mic. Though he hardly should have presented much of a challenge for Ghost's plentiful (and, it should be noted, imposing) posse, he was able to get several bars into a tune (though the backing music was playing only in his head apparently.) He was described by some eye-witnesses as "like a white Tay Zonday"... not really sure what that means. I think it's great that the inherent craziness of Ghost's show is getting ever more surreal. Peep the Youtube footage.

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01 April 2008

Yerevan Ajemenian

Armenian orphan, Ethio-Jazz innovator, guerilla fighter

Ethiopia is one of the most fascinating and hard to comprehend countries in Africa. Like many poor countries it combines urban life and culture with extreme poverty, but what makes it distinctive is it's blending of different cultures, resulting in a vibrant art scene that has often been the victim of social and political instability.

Yerevan Ajemenian is an important, though little known part of Ethiopia's cultural history. His parents were victims of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey following World War I. As a young boy, he was brought to Jerusalem by others fleeing the violence, and ended up in an orphanage where he first received musical training, learning the trumpet.

The entire band of forty children, the Arba Lijoch, as it would come to be known, was adopted by Ethiopia's then-crown prince Ras Tafari (later the Emperor Hallie Selassie I) and traveled with him to Addis Abeba, where they received further special instruction, and became the national orchestra and a touchstone for the development of popular, western-influenced music in Ethiopia.

Apparently Ajemenian didn't desire to remain in a position that he came to regard as artistically stifling and politically questionable, and began to pursue his interest in progressive music and Pan-African politics. As early as the 50's, Ajemenian was playing with popular musicians, particularly those associated with the slowly growing ethio-jazz scene. This was quite remarkable, especially for a man who was substantially older than most of the musicians involved, who were considered a young avant-garde at the time. He collaborated with many vocalists, but more notably with pioneering instrumentalists such as the saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya. Unfortunately, Ajemenian was not actively participating in the music scene in the early 70's, when Ethiopian music was first widely recorded, so it's hard to properly gauge his contributions, though according to his contemporaries' testimonials and the few available recordings, it seems that he was possessed of a rare feel for improvisation and had a distinctive facility for conveying the unique tone of Ethiopian vocal music on his instrument.

However by the mid-50's it was clear that Ajemenian's interests were expanding beyond music. He became involved in Pan-Africanist politics and regularly traveled across the continent to meet with others. It is believed by some that he was moving guns and other supplies across borders, though there is no documentary evidence on this point. It has been widely speculated that he was involved with Che Guevara in the war in Congo. In fact, it is quite possible that he died in this conflict, though there are persistent reports that he in fact survived and was later to surface in Nigeria, playing with Fela Kuti's large ensemble Africa 70. This seems somewhat doubtful as he would have been quite an old man, though that is perhaps faulty reasoning when considering such a singular and remarkable person.

As mentioned above there is little surviving recorded material by Ajemenian. Click here to view a rare film of him playing in Addis Abeba in the early 60's with other ethio-jazz innovators.

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31 März 2008

Nixon meets Elvis Part Two

It is widely known and a matter of the historical record that Elvis visited President Nixon in the White House in 1970 and received a badge making him an honorary agent at large for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The story is a bit convoluted, but boiled down to Nixon's desire, as a hopelessly paranoiac who was also a perpetual square and outcast, to ingratiate himself with the nation's youth, and Elivs's guilt as an essentially good and God fearing Christian boy, at being seen as, not entirely in accordance with the facts, a representative for many of America's burgeoning drug culture.

Needless to say, the visit was not a complete success, except perhaps for Elvis, who received his honorary badge, as well as official White House souvenirs for his male buddies who, unaware of his whereabouts for approximately forty-eight hours, had finally tracked him down in Washington, D.C., and arriving to safely ferry him home just shortly before his hard-won audience with Nixon, naturally enough joined him, and even some improvised goodies for the boys' wives. On the other hand, Elvis was asked not to mention the matter of the honorary entrance into one of the nations top law enforcement agencies, as he was seen by millions, after all, as a godless, negro-loving, pedophile communist, and the White House didn't publicly reveal that the visit had ever happened until two years later.

What is less well known is that Elvis made a second visit to the White House in 1971. It is unknown how this meeting came about, but there can be no doubt that it did take place, as it was recorded, again for unclear reasons, on the so-called "Nixon," or "Watergate Tapes." On the tapes the conversers, who sound especially "loose," discuss Nixon's impending visit to China, which had yet to be publicly announced. Elvis is heard remarking that he believes "in his heart" that Chairman Mao is "truly a good little guy" and that "Jesus has enough room in his heart for the Communists and all the rest." There is a moment of tension when Nixon makes an unbecoming remark about "the Jews" and Elvis speaks positively of his Jewish friends and "that Kissinheim [fellow]" the latter likely a reference to Henry Kissinger. Elvis later offers Nixon one of the interlocking cross-and-Star-of-David medallions that he was known to distribute among friends. The tape ends with a discussion of bowling in the Presidential bowling alley, installed by Nixon in the White House's basement.

This tape has been released as part of the process of unearthing the remains of the Nixon Presidential tapes and documents. Excerpts from the tapes may be heard here.

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A Week of Fun

This week: one new Rickroll every night. You've been warned.

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28 Januar 2008

it's but minutes into the state of the union address and already a man has kissed the president, and the president has rubbed a (different) man's bald head, presumably for good luck. no comment from brian williams on the later, but he pointed out the kiss, seeming a little taken aback, or perhaps just wistful.

update @ 8:08pm: brian williams just described bush as a president who "likes the trains on time." he said it, i didn't.

update @ 8:10pm: the president seems extra slurry tonight, and uncharacteristically pale. i will attempt to adjust my set.

update @ 8:22pm: slightly funny pronunciation of POE-ten-tial. also apparently there are some poor kids trapped in an old school. i think that the firefighters are going to get the out.

update @ 8:25pm: dick cheney and nancy pelosi look like the parents from hell. if you ever go to pick up your date and mom and dad look like this, just turn around and don't stop running till your lungs are ready to burst... OK, there's a hilarious close up on a sleeping fat man. nbc has amazing state of the union coverage.

8:28pm: there's POE-ten-tial again. consistency is the david letterman of small minds.

8:31pm: oh shit, "the armies of compassion" are marching towards the gulf coast. not the same army that operating near the persian gulf coast, i suppose.

8:37pm: 9/11 plug, followed by shot of hilariously shifty-eyed soldier. looked like he was getting ready to make a break for the bathroom.

8:41pm: do you ever wonder if there's a big international PR firm behind this "iraqi awakening" thing? it just sounds damn good rolling off the tounge.

8:53pm: message to iran: "but know this... [bullshit excised] ...we will defend our vital interests in the persian gulf."

9:02pm: you can always tell when one of these things is about to end, just like mass. too bad the state of the union address doesn't close with church organ.

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