Dive into the archives.
- The Black President Carter: Nigerian Gangster
Man alive. There have been so many damn Jay-Z remix albums the last few years that it’s hard to separate the latte from the foam. But this one just released by DJ Mike Love is a keeper for sure. It lays a capellas from the American Gangster album over the music of Fela Kuti. The result is plantain salad. Here’s a sample:
Say Hello x Coffin for Head of State
Download the album here.
- Green & Gold
Dublin and Prague are in the building.
Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová won Oscars last night for best original song, beating out industry Goliath and Disney music man Alan Menkin, among others. I couldn’t be happier. They made their movie, Once, in a little over 2 weeks on two handicams, and it’s one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen in a long time. If you haven’t seen it, check it out…
Anyway, here’s their acceptance speeches. I think Glen’s opening sentences say everything about why this is such a wicked story:
“Thanks! This is amazing. What are we doing here? This is mad.”
EDIT: Oh, it seems that embedding has been “disabled by request” for this clip. In the words of esteemed cultural critic Eric Cartman, “Dude, that’s totally weak.” Anyway, you can still watch the clip if you go here.
Here’s a couple of my favorite songs from the soundtrack:
Glen Hansard featuring Markéta Irglová – When your mind’s made up
(right-click + ‘save link as’ (mac) / ‘save target as’ (windows)
Markéta Irglová featuring Glen Hansard – If you want me
“And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don’t give up.”
UPDATE: There’s a funny interview with them up on Pitchfork now. It’s full of funny and bizarre stories about their time in Hollywood. Here’s an example:
Pitchfork: There are people who go to the Oscars every year. You guys have never been before. Is there a process to it?
MI: Well, before the Oscars they give all the nominees this DVD, which is basically a short film with Tom Hanks giving you tips on what you should do and shouldn’t do.
Read the rest here.
- NYCity – direct your eyeballs here.
According to my dear friends at Google, VERY FEEL gets more visits from New York than any other city. So I thought I’d try to make some use of that and promote an event that I’d definitely be at if I was in NY.
I’m not 100% sure of everything that this exhibition involves, but I know a major part is dedicated to the photos of Iwan Baan, one of the nicest, travelingest men I know. For the past couple years he’s been criss-crossing China photographing interesting/outrageous/ridiculous buildings. Here’s a small taste of what he’s showing…
The show is running until the end of May.
The opening is tomorrow from 6-8
Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
New York NY 10012
For more information check out www.aiany.org
- Putting the R in dance theateR
“A person hears only what he understands.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Life is a song.” – Robert Sylvester Kelly
One of the most important facets of R Kelly’s genius is his ability to take inspiration from (literally) anything. Whether he’s comparing a rocky relationship to a rodeo or the woman he loves to a jeep, Mr. Showbiz understands that any and everything can be transformed into art. So while some may take offense when he describes the act of lovemaking as “hopping like two kangaroos” or the female reproductive organs as “a big old piece of cake” that “tastes like Skittles”, the Pied Piper of R&B is, in his own playful, funky way, acknowledging the essential oneness of all things.
In his latest work, GrindFaust, dancer-choreographer and very friend Adrian Jevicki brings the R’s all-inclusive ethos into the realm of dance theater, retelling a masterpiece of German literature against a background of contemporary R&B jizams. In the words of the press release
Movementpants presents GrindFaust, a fresh telling of Goethe’s epic-poem-play featuring the music of R&B master, Robert Kelly. The company’s signature blend of mime, physical comedy and contemporary dance is fused with the physical vocabulary of the modern R&B dance video to bring new light to a dusty ol’ classic.
Here is a clip from the show’s opening at the Tank in New York.
Adrian’s company movementpants is also spearheading a drive to make modern dance available to a wider audience by offering reduced rate commissions. As their website says, “Just send us what tune you’d like a dance for and we’ll make a dance for it, put it on a dvd and mail it to you.” Doesn’t get more art-for-the-people than that…
Find out more at the movementpants site.
- Windows 808
A while ago I made a post on nerd music that talked a little bit about how computers and other gadgets push nerd artists to new emotional and creative heights. Had I known of this opus then, I would’ve put it front & center. It’s pretty clear from watching, but for the record the entire piece is composed of sounds from Windows 98 and XP. And it’s actually good.
It was created by Robbi-985. Check out more of his stuff here.
And there’s even a maxi version of the windows song for download…
- This is a goddamn shame.
According to today’s Independent, legendary DJ and UK DnB institution Grooverider is looking at 4 years prison time for bringing 10 squid worth of weed into Dubai.
The DJ was arrested at Dubai airport on 23 November last year with 2.16g of cannabis in his pocket, which has a street value of about £10, three hours before he was due to play an hour-long set at a show in The Lodge, a nightclub. In court he claimed: “I forgot I had them in my trousers.”
Just for the record it should be said that the UAE is a sovereign nation, it makes laws as it sees fit, and obviously Grooverider broke the law and is being held accountable according to the UAE system.
But there is harsh-but-fair and then there is simply harsh, and, as someone who knows exactly how easy it is to make a mistake like his, I can’t help but be freaked out by paragraphs like this:
He is the latest in a long list of Western tourists whose legal indiscretions, whether born of ignorance or not, have led to severe punishment. Earlier this month, Keith Brown, a 43-year-old youth worker from the West Midlands, was jailed for four years after customs officials who stopped him on his way through Dubai airport found a speck of cannabis weighing 0.003g – invisible to the naked eye and lighter than a grain of sugar – on the bottom of his shoe.
In the timeless words of MC Evil B, “Oh my gosh!”
Now, I’ve got good friends working in Dubai right now. Some of them are Dutch. And this shit worries me.
But at least Grooverider has some star power. It’s not unheard of for these sentences to be rescinded if the right kind of diplomatic pressure is applied. Last year American producer Dallas Austin was pardoned and set free after being sentenced to his own 4-year bid for cocaine possession. A group of high power people that included, according to MTV
A conservative Republican senator/songwriter, an ’80s R&B singer who is inexplicably massive in the Middle East, a real-estate mogul, several ambassadors from around the globe and a Grammy-winning producer who is best known for moving musical mountains — not political ones
came together and got him sprung. So it IS doable. We just need similar movements across the water. David Miliband, get on your job.
Anyway, love to Grooverider. I saw him live a few times and he always killed it. Let’s celebrate that and hope all this garbage can be resolved, so he can get back to doing what he does best.
Here’s a live set from the Drum & Bass Arena anniversary show last year.
- Flash Fwd:3
In yesterday’s New York Times, there’s a piece by Patricia Cohen called “Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?”. It’s basically a review of The Age of American Unreason, a new book by Susan Jacoby, which, according to the article, was inspired by 9-11.
Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:
“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.
The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”
“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.
At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.”
During my years as a Yankee exile, I’ve occasionally been confronted by people who demand some form of explanation for why a developed, education-oriented society like America’s seems to be so full of spectacularly ill-informed people.
That’s not a simple question, of course, and a legitimate answer would have to incorporate dozens of factors, including America’s history of anti-intellectualism, its stark region, race, and class-based divisions, it’s relative geographic isolation and short history, the vilification of academics by conservative ideologues and their comrades in the Christian right, the continued decline of the public education system, not to mention the American myth of the empowered individual, which encourages every citizen to speak his or her mind, no matter how badly it might be functioning at any given time.
The explanation that is dearest to my heart, however, has to do with the dramatic decline in the quality of news coverage since the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news channels. David Simon, an ex-newspaperman and creator of The Wire, wrote an emotional piece about the subject a couple of weeks ago. (Thanks for Damian for passing it on)
Is there a separate elegy to be written for that generation of newspapermen and women who came of age after Vietnam, after the Pentagon Papers and Watergate? For us starry-eyed acolytes of a glorious new church, all of us secular and cynical and dedicated to the notion that though we would still be stained with ink, we were no longer quite wretches? Where is our special requiem?
Bright and shiny we were in the late 1970s, packed into our bursting journalism schools, dog-eared paperback copies of “All the President’s Men” and “The Powers That Be” atop our Associated Press stylebooks. No business school called to us, no engineering lab, no information-age computer degree — we had seen a future of substance in bylines and column inches. Immortality lay in a five-part series with sidebars in the Tribune, the Sun, the Register, the Post, the Express.
What the hell happened?
I mean, I understand the economic pressures on newspapers. At this point, along with the rest of the wood-pulp Luddites, I’ve grasped that what was on the Internet wasn’t merely advertising for journalism, but the journalism itself. And though I fled the profession a decade ago for the fleshpots of television, I’ve heard tell of the horrors of department-store consolidation and the decline in advertising, of Craigslist and Google and Yahoo. I understand the vagaries of Wall Street, the fealty to the media-chain stockholders, the primacy of the price-per-share.
What I don’t understand is this:
Isn’t the news itself still valuable to anyone? In any format, through any medium — isn’t an understanding of the events of the day still a salable commodity? Or were we kidding ourselves? Was a newspaper a viable entity only so long as it had classifieds, comics and the latest sports scores?
It’s hard to say that, even harder to think it. By that premise, what all of us pretended to regard as a viable commodity — indeed, as the source of all that was purposeful and heroic — was, in fact, an intellectual vanity.
That’s harsh talk from someone as obviously committed to truth-telling as Simon, but maybe it’s worthwhile to take a look at what would drive a man of his conviction to such a dead end. As he mentions later in the piece, there was a moment, before the full fruition of the 24/7 online and cable news, when newspapers could have insisted on their value, could have declared that what they have to offer – balanced, well-researched investigation and analysis – was valuable enough to pay for. But, as we all know, that didn’t happen. So newspaper circulations declined, everyone adopted tabloid elements in a misguided effort to broaden appeal and in the end…
The people you needed to gather for that kind of storytelling were ushered out the door, buyout after buyout.
So in a city where half the adult black males are unemployed, where the unions have been busted, and crime and poverty have overwhelmed one neighborhood after the next, the daily newspaper no longer maintains a poverty beat or a labor beat. The city courthouse went uncovered for almost a year at one point. The last time a reporter was assigned to monitor a burgeoning prison system, I was a kid working the night desk.
Soon enough, when technology arrived to test the loyalty of longtime readers and the interest of new ones, the newspaper would be offering to cover not more of the world and its issues, but less of both — and to do so with younger, cheaper employees, many of them newspaper-chain transplants with no organic sense of the city’s history.
In place of comprehensive, complex and idiosyncratic coverage, readers of even the most serious newspapers were offered celebrity and scandal, humor and light provocation — the very currency of the Internet itself.
Charge for that kind of product? Who would dare?
Woah now, one might think. How dare he take a broad swipe at the net like that? Sure, maybe there’s some filth and fluff, but there’s a lot of good stuff too. And overall the quality of coverage probably hasn’t declined that much. For a local paper from a moderately-sized, postindustrial city it must be tough, but where they have lost, the rest of the country has gained through the expansion of well-funded, serious national (even international!) news organizations like CNN.
In response to that I submit fwd #2: gawker.com’s Extensive History of Terrible CNN.com Headlines, which I received as part of a Time Warner related mail group that I don’t remember ever joining. Here is a small sample:
Eesh. But ok, everybody knows CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. are television networks. This online thing is just something they do keep up appearances. Wolf Blitzer wants to go to Google parties, that’s all that is. TV coverage, their bread and butter, must be better than that.
So Fox emphasizes sex and CNN emphasizes gimmicky technology… “the very currency of the Internet itself”. And that’s just one of the reasons that we (all) ended up with this.
- Where is the love?
In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s the most appropriate thing I’ve got: a little essay I wrote last year about losing my libido in China. XX
PLAYED OUT: Confessions of a neutered white male in China
I have always prided myself on being a sexual person. Not promiscuous, but, within the proper confines, freaky. Since moving to China about a year ago, I have felt my sexuality shrink to the point where I could now potentially lose it in the shower. How could this sad state of affairs come to pass? I’m out on the town. I keep fit. I’ve managed my drug intake in a manner that allows me to get an erection when and wherever I damn well choose, thank you. So, what happened to me?