Friday, October 31, 2003
Here's Mike Davis' take on the fires...AlterNet: The Perfect Firestorm

posted by Zentronix @ 9:55 AM   0 comments links to this post

Here's an alternative take on the fires raging across SoCali. Homes 'Should Never Have Been Built'. A more elaborate development of this very argument is in Mike Davis' brilliant book, The Ecology of Fear, in an essay provocatively titled "The Case For Letting Malibu Burn". Fires are as often as not, he argues, are man-made disasters.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:33 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 30, 2003
Whoa! The LA Weekly finally gets down and does a Dub cover story. Sure the piece (by Greg Burk) is coming years after I did all my shit for the Bay Guardian, and while he talks about dub and Rastafari being political, he doesn't really go there (which may have a lot to do with his quaint, outmoded white-boy old-line notions of race and class, hmmm?) and I admit I feel some professional jealousy (which hey, I understand is NOT cool), but it's mainly because this is a such a good piece. Definitely read it and tell all your friends. I am.

posted by Zentronix @ 11:38 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

This story, A Hip-Hop Star's Fashion Line Is Tagged With a Sweatshop Label, should be huge news in the hip-hop community. We could speculate why it hasn't yet taken hold...for now, here's hoping that at the least, it'll shake some folks up. At best, I'd like to see a hip-hop fashion designer's code of ethics, and Sweatshop-Free labels on all hip-hop wear ads and clothes.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:52 PM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 27, 2003
Great event for a great organization for those of yall in the Bay Area...


"Elections and the Media: From Florida to The Recall...
and on to 2004"

Thursday, November 6th at 7 p.m., Doors open 6:30 p.m.
King Middle School, 1781 Rose Street, Berkeley

Tickets are $10, *Advance Purchase Highly Recommended*
Students are $5 at door with valid ID

Buy tickets at or
Call (415) 546-6334 x300

Greg Palast is a BBC commentator and Author of The New
York Times Best-seller "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy".
He is generally recognized as one of the most important
investigative reporters working today and has uncovered
numerous scandals including the Florida purge of African-
American voters during the 2000 presidential election and
Arnold Schwarzenegger's collusion with Enron's Ken Lay
around California's energy debts.

This event co-sponsored by KPFA 94.1 FM, The SF Bay Guardian,
New College's Media Studies Department, and Working Assets

posted by Zentronix @ 8:28 PM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 23, 2003

This month's Harper's Magazine features an article called "Turn On Tune In: Toward A Progressive Talk Show" by Thomas de Zengotita (which I can't link to because these geezers are Luddites). But hey, it's an interesting read--one dude's take on how liberals can take back talk radio from the Rushes of the world (while championing the word 'progressive', natch).

de Zengotita argues that a progressive needs to be angry, caustic, ironic, and truthful. It needs to call right-wing liars on their lying lies and do it with glee. It needs to be hip (we'll get to the hip-hop part below), interdisciplinary, and nobrow. I found myself agreeing with a lot of the points--even if the guy's humor was a little too, uh, ah hell let's say it, tea-and-crackers-at-the-Club for me.

Of course, there are issues. There are always issues.

de Zengotita is, like a lot of them are, another frustrated white boomer with white boomer frustrations. Like so many other heart-broken white boomers once did, he believes the future of progressivism lies with us, the young people of the world. (He's a professor too, so there you go.) But, alas, like so many other frustrated white boomers, he is mainly looking for another young frustrated white post-boomer to take up his generation's torch. Like Souls of Mischief liked to say, that's when ya lost!

He's ignoring the realities of the hip-hop generation: polycultural, post-white, and proud.

As usual, boomer liberals are looking for love in all the wrong places. They are searching for the next generation folks that look and think like them to tell them what they wanted to say anyway. Doesn't that sound a little self-defeating and Gitlinesque?

Here are just a few of the shows led by non-white post-boomers that already fit de Zengotita's proposal:

Davey D and Weyland Southon--Hard Knock Radio, KPFA (Berkeley)
Cedric Muhammad--Sirius Internet and Radio One (Washington DC)
Adisa Banjoko--Sirius and KNEW (San Francisco)
The Poetess--Reality Talk, KKBT (Los Angeles)
Fidel Rodriguez--Divine Radio KPFK (Los Angeles)
Harry Allen and Rosa Clemente--WBAI (New York City)
Frank Red--The Dungeon (Sacramento)

There are many more.

In any case, check out the Harper's piece and if you agree with me, hell even if you don't, hit them at

Here's the letter I sent today...

From: Jeff Chang

Re: "Turn On, Tune In"

As a loud and proud member of the hip-hop generation, who has spent years in activism and around community and commercial radio, actually subscribes to Harper's, and has often admitted a throat-lumping nostalgia for the good old days of the anti-apartheid movement, I read "Turn On, Tune In" with great interest. I even agreed with most of Mr. de Zengotita's points, especially his insight that progressivism can only be revived by my peers--the post-ironic, post-civil rights, post-political post-boomers.

So I found it amusing--in an Elvis Costello, "used to be disgusted" kind of way--that de Zengotita would, straight out the box, advocate for a SWM host, "an unmarked signifier". Whoa. Doesn't he realize that SWM-ness is just about the most *marked* signifier in the hip-hop generation? Do we need him to start picking up XXL along with his Harper's down at the subway magazine kiosk? If he's not proposing that Eminem be recruited, it certainly raises the question of who has any legitimacy with the hip-hop generation to step up to do this.

In fact, in the boomer liberal's so-far-fruitless search to find someone just like them to say just what they want to say (inevitably, to people who look and think just like them), they've missed the fact that so-called urban radio is the dominant format for people under-30. Who does de Zengotita think young people are getting their cultural cues from? They've missed the fact that there are brilliant, witty, politically tough radio personalities like the Bay Area's Davey D who already command passionately loyal young audiences. They've missed all the outrage young people have been directing towards ghettopoly radio--expressed, for example, in angry local boycotts of Clear Channel, and "Turn Off The Radio" campaigns led by hip-hoppers like Afrika Bambaataa and Dead Prez.

Same old same old.

Get with the program, yall. If you really want to get to us, you'll have to get polycultural and post-white.



posted by Zentronix @ 10:03 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 20, 2003
Check out this heartbreaking, amazing piece of journalism by Vince Beiser, late of, for the Los Angeles Times Magazine on Pelican Bay.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:27 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 16, 2003
Support this!



Oakland, CA - Hard Knock Records has just released the highly anticipated album "What About US". The compilation is a critical response by the Hip Hop community to what has taken place since the tragedies of September 11th. "The concept behind the creation of the album is in the title "What About US?" states Executive Producer Nick Huff. "The media portrays the Hip Hop generation as apathetic and materialistic but never supports artist that have something to say about what is going on in their communities."

When asked why most of the Hip Hop community is critical of the wars in the Middle East Nick responds: "Because we know that the majority of the consequences of the war will affect our communities the greatest. The Billions of dollars, possibly Trillions before it's all over, that are being spent on the defense budgets are not coming from taxes to the rich or from corporations because they are getting their taxes cut to "Stimulate the Economy". The bulk of that money is coming from programs that actually need the money the most like public education, after school programs, childcare for low income families, Medicare. These programs which our communities need the most are the ones taking the biggest cuts because we don't have lobbyist to speak for US. Is this what president Bush meant when he promised to leave no child behind?"

Hip Hop Pioner and activist Davey D sets the tone for the compilation in the intro by stating, "When you listen to this album "What About US?" keep in mind that we finally get to put our perspectives out there. That's the perspective of young people, the perspective of young people of color, all those individual folks who come from all different backgrounds who were absent at the table when they were calling all these experts to tell us why we need to go and engage in the different wars and pass various laws for the security of this country. The things that have been prescribed by the people in leadership are not the only solutions and so on this album you will hear the perspective and solutions offered from a whole lot of other people, who I think make the majority of this country."


posted by Zentronix @ 10:20 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 09, 2003
More exit polling data, this time parsed by the San Francisco Chronicle, showing that even Latinos and women supported the recall in greater numbers than expected. The other piece that is interesting is that 25-29 year olds--the same cohort that came up during Prop 187, 209, 227 and 21--were defiantly against Arnie. Very interesting stuff.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Great albums demand great writing, for the latest evidence see this piece by OutKast Is Good - Sasha Frere-Jones on Outkast. Brilliant.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:27 PM   0 comments links to this post

An exit poll from the San Jose Mercury News confirms that young people voted for Arnie and the recall and against Prop. 54 in huge numbers. In fact, folks around my age--the so-called "Gen X"--led the voting for the recall and for Arnie. Other interesting things: 18-29 year olds led the voting for Peter Camejo, Bustamante was weakest among 30-44 year olds. The exit poll does not break down race and gender within the age brackets, unfortunately.

posted by Zentronix @ 2:23 PM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Gray Down, California Gets Terminated

And so it comes to this. The least liked California politician since Richard Nixon gets the big Foot In His Ass. The Democrats are left in complete disarray. California suddenly becomes a swing state for Bush-Cheney-Rove 2004. There’s never been anything like this in history.

First let’s point fingers, OK? Davis fucked off 4 years of boom by pissing off everyone in sight, especially progressives, people of color, and youth. At the beginning of the recall campaign and all the way through, Davis tried to run hard to the left, the Democratic Party base. In the end, they told him to take his gray suit home.

Bustamante fucked off a fat lead by disappearing at the second debate, and then deciding to blow off the youth vote. While Arianna stumped on the campuses, and Arnold played up his cool factor on the small screen, Bustamante did zero messaging to young folks. This guy was supposed to be our future? He was saying "No recall" and "Vote for me". Consistency and coherence, thy name is not Cruz. And he couldn’t even say the word "Negro" correctly.

(As for me, that was the shittiest-feeling vote I’ve ever cast in my entire life. One of these days when I say "No more", I’ll really mean it.)

There may be a realignment happening here, amongst new young voters. Look at the vote for Prop 54, the beginning of the end of Ward Connerly’s gonad-grip on California. It went down in flames, by nearly the same margins as the recall. The numbers ain’t in yet, but my bet is that young folks came in and voted down Connerly’s ignorance-as-an-excuse in huge numbers—and then turned around and voted for the recall and for Arnold Schwarzenegger. There was coherence and consistency there, even if it wasn’t what you wanted to see. It was like: we don’t have patience for bullshit anymore. Here we are now, entertain us.

So now cue Arnie as Robert Redford as The Candidate: "OK, what do we do now?" Arnold immediately becomes a national playa. The Dems are left with no bench and at the top of the salary cap, kinda like George W’s Rangers or the gotdam Knicks, and they have to be staring down 2006 with a feeling of doom. I bet Martin Sheen’s phone is ringing off the hook right now. Robert Redford is only a part-time resident. And Rob Lowe’s already defected.

There will be much fallout. Californians can expect more tax inequality, huger budget deficits, steeper cuts in human services and education, softer environmental regulations, and gridlock gridlock gridlock. Schwarzenegger will be on a charm offensive, trying to fill Reagan’s shoes, but the Democratic-controlled Legislature (plus Cruz is still in office) will be holding a grudge like a mic.

Yet the biggest implication of this election is that—thanks to this groping, grinning, Germanic Kennedy in-law—Bush-Cheney-Rove could have Cali in the red column for 2004. Wow. Think about it. The whole calculus of the presidential elections is suddenly up for grabs. George W. Bush has no love lost here, but he also did not compete seriously for Cali during 2000. Imagine Arnie turning on the campaign money tap for Shrubbie. The result: non-stop commercials of Cali’s big gun and the failed Air National Guardsmen airing beginning September 11, 2004. That’s worse than gangsta, it’s horrorcore.

posted by Zentronix @ 11:33 PM   0 comments links to this post

And now for something completely different. Peep the love my man Lyrics Born is finally, deservedly getting from Robert Christgau and Peter Nicholson, then go out and cop the album. Today ain't just election day, it's Lyrics Born day. OK? OK!

posted by Zentronix @ 10:48 AM   0 comments links to this post

NO ON 54

Just a final note from my stromie Ying Sun. For more info on the Proposition, check this out.

everybody -

sorry for the mass e-mail, but sometimes it’s like that.

i know the recall is the big news today. and with 135 candidates, anything else on the ballot might well get buried and forgotten.

but the truth is that prop 54 is more important than the recall. if the recall passes, the worst that happens is three years of the governator.

if prop 54 passes, we’ll have a retrenchment of overt government racism that could last for generations – and cost countless lives and livelihoods.

for those who aren’t familiar, prop 54 is an attempt by the same folks who eradicated affirmative action in california to go even further and make it illegal for the government to collect racial or ethnic data.

under prop 54, there would be no way to investigate charges of discrimination, no way to track special medical or educational needs of different communities, no way to escape the ignorance that reinforces structural racism.

in short, prop 54 would allow massive racism without a paper trail.

please, please, please – fight back this racist assault on third world people throughout california. vote no on prop 54.

in solidarity,


posted by Zentronix @ 9:49 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 06, 2003

With the race narrowing and all polls show the recall election becoming a virtual toss-up, voting officials are all reporting they expect a huge turnout tomorrow. Pollster Mark DiCamillo said today that where in the past elections 50% of the electorate has been over the age of 50, this time, it looks like 55% of the electorate will be under the age of 50. The high interest in the campaign leads many to believe that turnout in communities of color and among young adults may actually be very high. Whether that happens remains to be seen.


In the last gubernatorial election, I voted for Peter Camejo. I felt Gray Davis had squandered all kinds of opportunities with communities of color and young people, and indeed that his pro-prisons agenda was only going to take us backward. So when the recall first surfaced, I was ready to vote for it.

I've been tired of doing the pragmatic thing. The Democrats' rightward drift, and its open hostility many times toward progressives since the end of Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign, has been profoundly alienating.

I was in Florida to cover the fiasco in November 2000, and decided then, after seeing how many Democrats actively suppressed calls for voting reform and thus sabotaged Gore's best chances to become president, that it was not worth my time to give away my vote any longer.

But the Republican-funded effort to recall Davis is, above all, an example of how big money can hijack true democracy.

The Dems have tried to turn this into a partisan issue, that it's a vast right-wing conspiracy. It is. But partisanship is meaningless when there are barely any differences between the two parties on issues that matter to us.

The fact that pro-death penalty Davis has mobilized the right to launch this recall and that Bustamante, the Democratic alternative, has been, from the start, pro-prisons and anti-youth points to the lack of progressive voices in this state.

But voting for the recall is agreeing that it is OK for the rich to hijack democracy anytime its interests are not being served. This recall did not come from us. It came from those who are against us and what we believe in.

I'm voting No on the Recall.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:55 AM   0 comments links to this post

Just got back from Chicago, and the Hip-Hop and Social Change Conference. It was a great experience and lots of plans are being laid for future work and networking. Thanks to Raymond Codrington and the staff of the Field Museum for being great hosts.

You may have also heard that the keynote speech by Mos Def and Talib Kweli ended in chaos as the artists debated with an audience member, a local activist and recent Death Row pardonee who challenged them on their responsibility as artists to the community, and threw the crowd into an uproar. It's a lot to get into and I'll try to do so in the future. What folks there may not know is that Kweli was meeting Sunday with Chicago activists behind closed doors to come to a meeting of the minds.

Also want to send a big big shout to Robert Karimi, who is holding it down out there as the Artistic Director of the Guild Complex and doing amazing theater work on his own also. Looking forward to coming back to work with all the great folks in Chicago next year!

posted by Zentronix @ 10:24 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
It's official. Arianna Huffington has dropped out of the race. She made the announcement on Larry King, assuring the highest possible audience. The question: did she get anything for it?

In the meantime, Arnie's numbers do appear to have surged. I'm sure Davis' camp will be mad that Gray was not included in the Sac State debate, which in retrospect is where Arnie's numbers turned around. The Reep strategy was to hold him back and do as much retail work as possible, keeping him in the local nightly news without much of anything to say, while prepping him for the debate. The canned lines should have backfired, but Bustamante's strategy of laying back made him look like he didn't have answers for Arnie.

At the same time, do not count out a Dem surge in the final days. The troops are on the ground. What the polls are unable to measure is how committed people are to their choice. Polls always function as snapshots, not prophecies. There has been so much volatility in the numbers in the space of just a few weeks that it's dumb for anyone to put too much faith in them.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:14 AM   0 comments links to this post


Previous posts
Coming Soon!
Notes On The Eve Of Day One
Students Occupy The New School
Farai Chideya's News And Notes on NPR Has Been Can...
I Am Nixon
Shouldna Lef Ya...
2G2K Is Back! :: On Hillary, Again, And Foreign Po...
The Impact of The Hip-Hop Vote
UCLA Education In Action Keynote Speech
A Great Day In Baseball History

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