Monday, May 31, 2004
Adam Hochschild in a brilliant piece on the Haitian Revolution, whose parallels to Iraq are of course manifold.
posted by Zentronix @ 4:16 PM
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
THERE IS JUSTICE
After 1:43 minutes of fluff and commercials, the all-too-brief 1 and a half-minute reunion of the Three Divas, and the happy 10-second return of Camille Velasco, we got to the good part.
Fantasia deserved it. Why not go out on a limb and call her victory version of "I Believe" one of the most moving wartime musical performances in pop history? I mean, why not?
posted by Zentronix @ 10:10 PM
PROFITING FROM TORTURE
Meet the Titan Corporation, apparent supplier of Any Ghraib torturers.
One of the more interesting--and incredibly underreported--angles about the prison torture scandal has been the role of corporate mercenaries. Apparently, they've been given sweeping legal immunity by Bremer. War makes new forms of corporate welfare possible.
+++ Good reading:
Philip Sherburne on the legacy of "Don'Ask Don't Tell" and Abu Ghraib.
Linda Burnham on gender, domination, and Abu Ghraib.
posted by Zentronix @ 1:57 PM
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Missed most of the Idol finale for a National Hip-Hop Political Convention conference call. I mean, Fantasia Barrino is already your next American Idol.
I object to having Fantasia sing "Summertime" for the 950th time and not do it better. I object to both Paul Anka and Diana DeGarmo too. (Both of whom are still not Asian or Filipino yall.) But I guess it wouldn't be American otherwise. I doubt next year will top this one...
posted by Zentronix @ 9:25 PM
Christopher Porter is killing it with his jazz-gone-ska series. A must-hear.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:06 AM
Monday, May 24, 2004
PRETEND IT WAS NEVER THERE
This is how Americans deal with fuckups. (Read closely for bonus ironies.)
This is how other Americans deal with us fucking up.
Move over, Wherry, we're all coming north.
posted by Zentronix @ 5:16 PM
Friday, May 21, 2004
Blog this week--less verbs than ever.
Damn Jason Kidd. KG all the way. Hockey!
Aaron Wherry. Jay Smooth.
Doze at Minna.
National Hip-Hop Political Convention registering voters at the Malcolm X Jazz Festival. Holla!
Boots Riley and Goapele with the NHHPC in Townhall Meeting on Hip-Hop and Politics, Sunday, 4-6pm, 8200 International Blvd, Oakland. Holla twice!
Thank you Jasmine. Go Fantasia.
Too much work!
posted by Zentronix @ 8:07 AM
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Chris Ryan's Chauncey Billups obsession will be appearing in SLAM Magazine. Dave Tompkins' Vocoder obsession will be appearing in book form early 2005. The Ego Trip crew with clips loaded for fall. Bill Adler doing a 5-part documentary on hip-hop for VH1 and opening an incredible graf photo exhibition tomorrow with Ernie Pannicoli. K. Sanneh on Madonna. SFJ with a hot fuckin new band. Don't it feel wonderful when the good guys win? I'm in love with the world.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:06 PM
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
The great Elvin Jones has passed. This from Adam Mansbach, hip-hop author and close friend of Jones: "If you've ever heard the music of the John Coltrane Quartet, or listened to any of the countless other albums on which Elvin has played over the last fifty years, then you have without doubt been touched by the man. Elvin's playing was a perfect reflection of who he was: vigorous, brilliant, beautiful and full of love."
Adam's penned a magnificent tribute to Jones, covering his last dates at Yoshi's in Oakland. Hopefully it will appear on his website soon. Til then, you can get excerpts at Jon Caramanica's site and here which speak to the drummer's singular power to move:
"The communal intensity of Elvin?'s performances was breathtaking. Each set, each song, each brushstroke, had the potential to uplift or sadden. At his weakest, during the sets when he elected to play without an oxygen tank, Elvin tired quickly. The characteristic muscularity of his sound withered; he sometimes missed the ride cymbal because he lacked the reach to hit it. During such songs, the entire audience strained toward the stage, willing his hand forward ?straightening with relief when wood tapped metal, and cringing when it missed. But the week was also full of moments of incredible uplift, moments when Elvin rallied and played his ass off, moments when the triumph of the human spirit was so clear to everyone in the club that grown folks were in tears at almost every table."
posted by Zentronix @ 9:17 PM
Belatedly: Me, Davey D, Aya De Leon, and KRS-One on hip-hop and the elections. (Real Player required.)
posted by Zentronix @ 9:17 PM
Got this sad news just today...we got to interview her for ColorLines in 1999 in Santa Cruz and were just floored by her brilliance and generosity.
Internationally recognized cultural theorist and creative writer, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa, passed away on May 15 from diabetes-related complications. She was 61 years old. A versatile author, Anzaldúa published poetry, theoretical essays, short stories, autobiographical narratives, interviews, children's books, and multigenre anthologies.
As one of the first openly lesbian Chicana authors, Anzaldúa played a major role in redefining contemporary Chicano/a and lesbian/queer identities. And as editor or co-editor of three multicultural anthologies, Anzaldúa has also played a vital role in developing an inclusionary feminist movement. Anzaldúa is best known for Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987), a hybrid collection of poetry and prose which was named one of the 100 Best Books of the Century by both Hungry Mind Review and Utne Reader.
Anzaldúa's published works also include This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
(1981), a ground-breaking collection of essays and poems widely recognized by scholars as the premiere
multicultural feminist text; Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras:Creative and Critical Perspectives
by Feminists-of-Color (1990), a multigenre collection used in many university classrooms; two bilingual children's books--Friends from the Other Side/Amigos del otro lado (1993) and Prietita and the
Ghost Woman/ Prietita y la Llorona (1995);Interviews/Entrevistas (2000), a memoir-like
collection of interviews; and this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation (2002), a
co-edited collection of essays, poetry, and artwork that examines the current status of feminist/womanist
theorizing. Anzaldúa has won numerous awards, including the Before Columbus Foundation American Book
Award, the Lamda Lesbian Small Book Press Award, an NEA Fiction Award, the Lesbian Rights Award, the Sappho Award of Distinction, an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Fiction Award, and the American Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Anzaldúa was born in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas in 1942,the eldest child of Urbano and Amalia
Anzaldúa. She received her B.A. from Pan American University, her M.A. from University of Texas, Austin, and was completing her doctorate at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
She is survived by her mother, Amalia, her sister, Hilda, and two brothers:Urbano Anzaldúa, Jr. and Oscar Anzaldúa; five nieces, three nephews,eighteen grandnieces and grandnephews, a multitude of aunts and uncles, and many close friends.
A public memorial will be planned at a later date.
posted by Zentronix @ 7:55 AM
Sunday, May 16, 2004
MORE SEPARATE, STILL UNEQUAL
My man Greg Winter on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
Also, please read this extremely important report from Harvard on the resegregation of American youths.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:05 PM
DON'T CALL IT A THROWBACK
I know I've been jocking here, but for those of you who didn't get it: Nominee for funkiest, most poignant and moving intergenerational hip-hop dialogue ever: B+ and Eric Coleman's Keepintime DVD. Brasilintime? Even more wow and flutter.
Nominee for best liner notes for a hip-hop record ever: Egon in The Third Unheard. Certainly one of the best hip-hop albums of the year. Don't front, 'cause I'll bet you probably never heard the stuff the first time around.
posted by Zentronix @ 2:31 AM
Big up to Carlos Mena for two great release parties in the Bay this weekend. Super sorry I missed Gab's release party. Both albums are out--cop 'em!
Spun Saturday night at Carlos' party. Great vibe, great crowd, the Oakland Box is just a great vibe place. So is I rusty? Ohhhhh yeah. It was lots of fun, tho' I had so much fun spinning 45s I still didn't get to bus the whole go-go set. Soon come, I'm sure.
By the way, if anyone reading this is working Tanya Stephens' 45 "Power of A Girl" (Pow Pow), you've got a hit on your hands.
Out of town again, and probably off the grid for a minute. Work for peace...
posted by Zentronix @ 2:24 AM
Thursday, May 13, 2004
STILL SWEATIN ME FOR MY DRESS CODE
For the record, there has been no confirmation to the rumor that this New Orleans legislator is having an affair with old C. Delores "Why Can't I Get None? Gangsta Rap!" Tucker. All apologies to Dub C and The MAAD Circle--hey that's how Coolio spelled it.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:31 PM
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Four words of advice for Simon Cowell (and everyone else): NEVER. FUCK. WITH. HAWAI'I.
Jasmine deals with her self-doubts. Diana settles into her entitlements. Fantasia and LaToya--God bless the children who've got their own. You always have home.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:08 PM
Here's a piece I did on my man Carlos Mena, in today's BG. The full disclosure is kinda embarrassing but the story isn't. If you're at either of the shows this weekend, come holla.
posted by Zentronix @ 1:37 PM
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
IDOL MIDOL, OR ESTHER PHILLIPS' REVENGE
Well clearly they want a Fantasia vs. Diana final, avoid all the messy race stuff which they'll be happy to sweep under the table. So Simon and Randy mowed down Jasmine, and raised the "personality" question again with LaToya.
In fairness, Jasmine looked great, looked great, but sang poorly. Her song choices--"Everlasting Love" and the Gay National Anthem, "It's Raining Men"--were meant to bring her out as a diva. But interpretation is always a tricky thing, and that's where she missed. You don't just burn the high notes to become Martha Wash, and she knows that.
If she's leaving, she seems to have reconciled with it before the world through her tears, that terrible feeling of hitting the wall when you're just 16. If she stays, and I'll be doing my part as a Local Boy with the redial button, maybe she'll sing more loose next week. Either way, I pray a lifetime of smaller stages doesn't defeat her. World, welcome to Asian American reality.
LaToya--no personality? Just cause she's cool-headed doesn't mean she's a mystery. She's not trying to put on some stereotypical edge. She's older and wiser than all the other folks here. She's not trying to get all twisted over some TV show. But apparently Simon and Randy have decided that they want her gone.
Diana did sing her heart out. Yes, she's grown up onstage. And no, for everyone still coming here for her ethnicity, she's not Asian either. I'm back to thinking she's corny as fuck. "No More Tears"--the parenthetical "Enough Is Enough" says it all--was easily the most pathetic song of 1979. Give me "At Home He's A Tourist" (down on the disco floor they make their profits) or, more to the point, "Death Disco".
And that's the thing. This week's repertoire was uniformly terrible. This wasn't disco as entertainment, much less disco as liberation, this was disco as desperation. Some old yikes-let-me-throw-on-my-Members-Only-jacket-and-overemote-cause-there's-only-three-more-shows-type-shit. Even Fantasia went bonkers with her Bonnie Tyler cover. VH1 Classic won't even touch that shit.
Upside is that her performance of "Knock On Wood"--while not that interesting--reminded me of who she reminds me of at her best: the late, great, beautiful, tragic Esther Phillips. Her voice can have a weary coronet tone, a whiskeyed hush that discloses to you that she's lived some life; it's the thing that George never tapped, that LaToya has moved beyond, and that Jennifer wore on her silver spacesuit.
There's where Simon and Randy come in--they don't want someone who will really sing the blues, or someone who won't give up the soul, or someone who has grown through it, they want just the hint of danger, the fist in the velvet glove. Pop. The balancing act, that tiptoeing on the end of the blade. That happens to be what makes Fantasia the real artist in the competition.
Maybe in one of these last few shows, Fantasia will get to cover Esther's best song ever, "When Love Comes To The Human Race" (cause they'd never let her touch Toussaint's "From A Whisper To A Scream" or Scott-Heron's "Home Is Where The Hatred Is"), and I'll be crying some tears myself. Aw hell, Clay Aiken's on next week.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:49 PM
Armond White on Jay-Z and P-Diddy, growing up in public.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:11 AM
Have I mentioned that since EMP, Josh Clover has been just wrecking it with his blog? Amazing commentary + all the Critical Karaoke me and you missed...
posted by Zentronix @ 9:56 AM
Damn! Christopher Porter with Sizzla and Backyard! Go deh...
posted by Zentronix @ 7:51 AM
Monday, May 10, 2004
Realpolitik for that ass.
posted by Zentronix @ 4:18 PM
Dan Carol on voting and the hip-hop generation.
posted by Zentronix @ 2:20 PM
U.S. bombs the fuck out of Al-Sadr's compound. Amidst headlines about Abu Ghraib? Predictable.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:51 AM
Friday, May 07, 2004
Here's me, down with the Freelance Mentalists, talking about Steve Barrow's great new comp, Mento Madness. Thanks to Haibun for putting me down.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:48 PM
This Week on My iPod
Seems like everyone else is doing this so what the hell. Sidenote: I have it on shuffle probably 95% of the time, but this list feels right.
1) Ghetto Brothers Power-Ghetto Brothers
2) There Is Something In My Heart-Ghetto Brothers
3) Peace Treaty-Jacob Miller
4) Esta Navidad-Willie Colón
5) Carry Go Bring Come-Justin Hines & The Dominoes
6) The Train Is Coming-Ken Boothe
7) Tempo-Anthony Red Rose
8) One Dance-Beres Hammond
9) S.90 Skank-Big Youth (Keith Hudson production!)
10) Nu Baya Roots-Build An Ark (Carlos Nino production!)
11) Always There-Build An Ark (ditto)
12) Crystal Ball-David Axelrod
13) (Letter from Home) -DJ Shadow
14) I Saw A Tear (album)-Ghetto Brothers
15) All falls Down-Kanye West (Featuring Syleena Johnson)
16) I Broke The Comb-Keith Hudson
17) Bogus Badge-Louie Culture
18) Nada Será Como Antes-Milton Nascimento
19) Across the Universe-Rufus Wainright, Moby, Sean Lennon
21) La Descarga Del Bobo-Willie Bobo
22) Recomendacion-Willie Colón
23) El Malo-Willie Colón
25) Uptown Top Ranking-Althea & Donna
posted by Zentronix @ 9:27 PM
GOOD THINGS IN THE WORLD
Yes, this is my non-ironic week.
I fuckin love this. The memories, the memories. I'm weeping tears of joy right now.
Thanks O-dub, now officially The Man Behind TheBest Hip-Hop Book Collection of deep thoughts about hip-hop.
posted by Zentronix @ 4:19 PM
Thursday, May 06, 2004
More new photos from Abu Ghraib in today's Washington Post.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:57 AM
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
GOOD MORNING ABU GHRAIB
Was I the only one who got shivers hearing George Huff's strangely reaffirming rendition of "What A Wonderful World" last night, a scene that ended in a group hug?
Here's a competition where smiles and tears seem sincere. Where families cheer their sons and daughters in defeat. Where the winners always cry over the losers. This American Idol thing is throwing out the script every day. It can't be scripted. It's become realer than reality.
The song, popularized first by Louis Armstrong, revived in the 80s by a movie about Vietnam, and sung now by another poor black New Orleans boy who came to the pop stage entirely by accident, seems particularly poignant at this moment in American history, where pictures of very different kinds of smiles cannot be separated from horrifying scenes of debasement. Where the defeated--whether Iraqi, Afghani, or American--are treated with low regard and grotesque inhumanity. Where the winners care nothing for the losers.
In more ways than I thought last night, the outcome of American Idol now matters little.
The show is cornball. Absolutely. It's lowest common denominator stuff. But look how low we're at right now, in the world and in our own estimation of ourselves.
At the risk of sounding crazy or duped, it feels like American Idol gives all of us what we need. No matter how we feel politically in this polarized time, it goes a little way toward restoring what Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld have torn away from us in their plunge toward Middle East destabilization since January of 2001--the impulse toward connection and community, away from the gruesome crimes of competition and avarice, and the need to know that there is in fact good, genuine feeling in the world between people.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:02 PM
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
Love how Jasmine has grown and proud of how she's repped. George is a nice dude and deserves an audience somewhere. Diana ain't that bad after all. But they all can't hold a candle, not even a match to Fantasia and Latoya. Let's just end this now.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:02 AM
The great Studio One pioneer Coxsone Dodd has passed.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:01 AM
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Stelfox does his own dancehall comp, with liner notes!
posted by Zentronix @ 10:51 AM
Sunday, May 02, 2004
IT'S A QUANNUM WORLD
Can you deny that? The most generous show in the business. Three hours of super dynamite soul. LB ripping off his sweats, and sanctifying in his draws. Jumbo doing the jump-up in the crowd. Xcel coming back from the tour bus. Rev Shines in the crates. New shit from Gab and Teef. D-Sharp trying to get the crowd to be quiet. Mad love. All that plus technology too: Shadow rocking clips of the Fat Boys and Wildstyle on the first-of-its-kind Pioneer DVJ prototype. And Vursatyl vs. Vursatyl? Oh shit. If you missed this, man you just don't know.
Speaking of technology, my little set before the incredible Jahi and the Life got on and rocked it was hampered by the fact that not only am I hella rusty, but that I prepped for two turntables and got one and a CDJ instead. (Oliver couldn't even get on. He brought no CDs.) Needless to say I had never used one of these things before in my life. Big shout to Eric for letting me on and for the 30-second tutorial.
So there was no mixing, blending or go-go, but instead Buzzcocks to Clint Eastwood and General Saint to Tanya Stephens to U-Roy to Stiff Little Fingers to a grand concourse Bronx style conclusion with the Ghetto Brothers and Bambaataa. Felt just like the KALX days. I hope a good time was had by all 50 of us in the building.
I've been told that I'm officially coming out of retirement for Carlos Mena's record release parties. (More on his record and stuff soon.) I promise to rock the spot with some DC breaks that night for ya. Then it's back into retirement.
Oh yeah the point was: crew was on hand to capture the show, which will end up in a movie or DVD somewhere down the line. Stay tuned to Quannum.com for the latest. Last but never the least, love to the Quammies and to Isaac and Lydia who always hold it down.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:11 AM
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