Thursday, September 30, 2004
"We Looked At The Same Intelligence..."
And one was missing after about 45 minutes.

Bush really struggled tonight and I was very surprised. I was at the Wake Forest debate in 2000, and he at least battled Gore to a draw there. But tonight, he launched early into his soundbite (pundits call it 'message', and have so far been very charitable to him tonight) and stayed in it often.

Kerry ran the table and even got Bush to look real stupid on Iran ("I didn't establish sanctions against Iran, a previous administration did"...OK so what have you done about Iran?)--a point none of the pundits seem to have caught either, yet.

I think Kerry missed some huge points though. No Abu Ghraib. No baiting on the draft (Bush volunteered that the military would remain "all voluntary" in his closing). Just one mention of "Mission Accomplished". All in all, though, he wins this one, if only because Bush looked like he forgot to pop his No-Doz and Viagra.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:02 PM   6 comments links to this post

How Chic Saved Civilization
Got the DFA comp this week which is great, but prompted me to go back to my Chic records, which taught me a couple of things.

1) Topper Headon's drum sound on London Calling and Sandinista is straight up bitten from Tony Thompson on the first three Chic records. Prove to me it isn't.

2) Generations of bands have now made a virtue of being completely unable to play or compose anything as technically difficult or breathlessly perfect as "Everybody Dance". You can take Queen, the Clash, Go4, let alone Pigbag, Soul II Soul. Maybe even Arthur Russell.

More soon...

posted by Zentronix @ 1:26 PM   6 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Writes, Books, and Screams
Copy-editing is no joke. If you are a hyphen, an em-dash, an endnote, or the word "quickly", I hate you now. I need sleep but the next semi-colon is screaming at me. Malcolm McLaren and Malcolm Gladwell, I'm sorry but it's all final now. Why does hip-hop history have to be so long?

posted by Zentronix @ 10:37 PM   0 comments links to this post

Maybe Now She'll Quit Being Republican?
Sad news about Chaka Khan.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:32 PM   0 comments links to this post

A Big Week Before A Big Month
Big week for hip-hop activism as folks get down for the home stretch of this campaign...not just because of the debates on Thursday, but because the grassroots hip-hop activist movement is swinging into action across the country.

First off, the championship and climax of Slam Bush goes off tomorrow, the day before the debates in Miami. The Roots are performing, and it should be bananas.

Also, three of the Local Organizing Committees from the National Hip-Hop Political Convention have coordinated a weekend of hip-hop summits to get people focused on the final month of the campaign.

Big things will be jumping off in San Jose with Tricia Rose and Adisa Banjoko, in Pittsburgh with Talib Kweli, and here in Oakland with dead Prez and Barbara Lee. If you're in the area, definitely fall through.

And remember it's not just about Bush and Kerry, it's about a host of ballot initiatives that will change three strikes, put more money into schools, and much more, and about getting fresh progressive young blood into office.

At the very least, download some Kweli and Radiohead MP3s for regime change. See, I knew that would get your attention.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, September 26, 2004
Peace At Home: Gangs, Domestic Terrorism, and Three Strikes
Take note, this morning's New York Times featured a very important article: "Tattoed Warriors", that is likely to reopen the discussion about gangs and gang violence, perhaps even as a campaign issue.

William Bratton, LA's top cop, has called gangs "domestic terrorists" and has restored the same gang task force units that led to the Rampart scandal. Gang Injunctions, a legal strategy that failed miserably a decade ago, have been making a comeback.

Gang violence dropped dramatically during the nineties, but since Bush has been in office, it has climbed sharply every summer in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland. Except in those cities, the media has been largely silent about the surge of gang violence. Is it because the rise has been directly related to the failure of Bush's domestic and economic agenda?

The recent rise in gang violence has been an urgent issue largely for street activists, community organizers, social workers, and sociologists. That hasn't been entirely a bad thing. In Los Angeles, for instance, two major peace summits have been held in the last 6 months, and peace workers are making strong headway in the community. It's possible they've been able to do this precisely because Bratton's alarmist, reactionary approaches have as yet failed to win national attention.

This year's ballot in California features Proposition 66, an act to amend the 10-year-old Three Strikes Law to include only violent offenses as a third-strike. Right now polls show a solid majority of Californians ready to do the right thing and pass this initiative. It would be a shame if Bratton's pronouncements brought back the hysteria and scapegoating of the early 90s, which led to so many of these horrible laws being instituted in the first place, just at a point a grassroots movement for change is on the verge of moving gang members and citizens in the right direction. The people working for domestic peace don't need wild emotionalism, they need popular support.

posted by Zentronix @ 1:35 PM   5 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Hot Words
OK yall, I gotta give it up to Felicia Pride's The BackList. It's a great website on the Black literary life I came across while searching for something else. It's smart, hip, and completely engaging. It makes me fret anew that there really is no print magazine out there that doesn't just insult the intelligence of us hip-hop-grown thirtysomethings. (And, believe me, some of us have been working on changing that situation for a minute...)

Anyway, here's the proof:

+a great interview with Gwendolyn Pough and our MAN, Mark Anthony Neal,

+short features on Kenji Jasper, Carl Hancock Rux, and Black Artemis, all of whom I'm big fans of.

+scroll back issues for an interview with Chris Jackson, Crown's storied editor.

Top notch stuff, definitely check it.

Bonus unrelated goods: this week's Bay Guardian review section.

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Hatfield Was The Real McCoy
All this talk about how Bush received special treatment during the Vietnam War, and memos and denials and forgeries and stuff, not to mention all these supposedly new investigations into Bush's cowardly, Daddy-save-me past that are turning up Page One in all these newspapers made me sadder than ever that J.H. Hatfield is no longer around to get his due respect.

Who was he? He was the journalist who did the controversial W. biography Fortunate Son, that came out before the 200 elections, then got squashed when the Republicans came calling. Hatfield had investigated and found Bush was arrested for cocaine possession in 1972. Richard Clarke and Kitty Kelley never got the kind of full-court hounding and harassment that Hatfield got from the Republicans. In 2001, he was found dead under mysterious circumstances. In his alleged suicide note, he cited the treatment he had received over Fortunate Son as one of the reasons.

Here's a Democracy Now interview with the man. More importantly, read this book.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:32 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, September 20, 2004
Whatever Happened To...The Avant-Garde?
To me, this is the best piece of cultural journalism news in a while, Margo Jefferson is starting a column to search for the avant-garde. Weird thing to get excited over, I know. But hey, Francisco got the book and Kerry is jabbing again, so me and reality are cool for now.

Great timing on this avant-garde thing, too. Spent the weekend eagerly devouring (and then, often spitting up) Hughes and Kuspit and others on this very topic.

So uh, does this mean I have to wear cargo pants now?

posted by Zentronix @ 9:13 PM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, September 18, 2004
Some Polls Ain't Shit
Back on topic, right?

You're gonna see a lot of polls between now and November 2. Right now the general polls don't mean shit. Here's probably the best summary of the existing polls out there. They show the range of poll results out there: from Bush at 13 points up to Kerry at 1 point up.

The Gallup Poll, in particular, which shows Bush up 13 has been the cause of much hand-wringing. But before you start packing for Canada, here's a smart refutation of its method.

In any case, the polls that really matter are the state polls and the electoral counts. Who needs the popular vote these days?

And here's where you can go for that data:

+Pro-Kerry state polling and projected electoral vote counts.

+Pro-Bush state polling and projected electoral vote counts.

Interesting point: the pro-Bush pollers give Kerry a much closer race at this point.

Another interesting point: there is quite a debate raging now over how accurate these polls are because of the cell-phone effect. See here for more detailed discussion.

Main point: Clearly Kerry has squandered his lead. Back in mid-August, both sides concluded Kerry had as much as a 100-vote electoral victory in hand. That's reversed now.

My take: He's gotta stop talking like Gore '00 and start talking like Gore '04: get some backbone and some fire. Bottom line: if this race is going to be won in the trenches, the street soldiers have to be fired up.

Why do these fools only seem able to speak their mind if they have no intention of seeking office? Hope we don't have to ask this on November 3.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:52 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, September 17, 2004
Going Down: Kobe's Transcript
I may be late on this, but here's the entire transcript of Kobe and the cops, courtesy of the Vail Daily. It more than speaks for itself.

posted by Zentronix @ 1:40 PM   0 comments links to this post

Schloss on Sampling Via Snoop
Joe Schloss Shizzolated!:

"I wuz actually surprised by this lawsuit, because da standard they set wuz what I thought da standard already wuz."

Yo' ass know, there are two sets of rights, da master rights 'n da publishing rights n' shit. The publishing refers da song as a conceptual entity 'n da master rights a specific recording of that shiznit n' shit. So my understanding has always been that questions 'bout how much of a song yo' ass can use only has do wit publishing rights, 'n that they are basically like any other plagiarism case, know what I'm sayin'? Like, exactly how many words can yo' ass take before yo' ass’ve stolen someone’s book? That is a hella subjective question, which is why that shiznit’s constantly being debated 'n changed n' shit. But master-wise, which is what this decision seems deal wit, my understanding wuz that *any* unauthorized sample of a recording is not legal 'n never has been."

The 'unrecognizable amount' standard wuz, 'n I guess still is, de facto, know what I'm sayin'? If yo' ass think 'bout that shiznit, that shiznit really doesn’t make any sense as a legal standard: if that shiznit’s unrecognizable, that shiznit’s unrecognizable – they can’t bust yo' ass fo' that shiznit, because they can’t recognize that shiznit." Conversely, if they can bust yo' ass fo' that shiznit, then – by definition – that shiznit is recognizable n' shit. Which brings me back why this decision is so weird: I’ll buy that shiznit as a statement of legal principle, but as a law, simple logic dictates that that shiznit’s totally unenforceable."

Thanks to O-Deezy for the link to the link n'shit.

posted by Zentronix @ 1:37 PM   0 comments links to this post

Because these days The Man won't let us do pants.

+Jess Harvell on Ashlee Simpson.

+Popwherry on Kobe and R. Kelly.

+Yancey Strickler does DFA.

+Me on Talking Heads live.

+Hua on more live albums. Bonus! Racist Slate reader commentary!

Hey Hua, do you ever feel guilty for taking menial, low-word-count, shit-paying rock critic jobs away from good old red-blooded Euro-Americans?

Cause this laundryman sure fucking don't!

posted by Zentronix @ 7:56 AM   5 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Trade Kobe To The Rangers
Sports Illustrated reveals what Kobe's lawyers were really trying to cover up.

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

Alright Alright
OK, so we didn't get our onfield justice. (Come back tonight, tho.) But it won't end there. (Here's Ratto's take.)

For the record, I was at the game sitting a few sections from where a fan threw a cell phone at Carl Everett. Even though Everett's a punk who started it by turning around and giving fans the finger, that was dead wrong. If the cell phone had been flung from higher up and faster, Everett could have been injured.

So nothing excuses tossing a chair--bar-room brawl style--into the stands. It's pennant time, you're mad that your team has been clobbered all year by the A's and has just as miniscule chance of getting into the playoffs as it did the year before. People are talking shit, as they always will. Deal with it. It's the game.

I hope Francisco gets the book hurled at him.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:06 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
We Mess With Texas
And, taking a cue from their former shrubby boss, they act like bitches.

Watch how we crush you tonight.

All due respect to Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower and Liam, this will not be Texas's year.

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

Flash and the Five have been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! The great Randy Newman, also.

Dizzee, dead prez, TV On The Radio, Jaylib, Ty, Ghostface, and Joe Strummer have been nominated for the Shortlist.

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

Monday, September 13, 2004
No B-12 Injection, No Backstage Pass
Yeah, we love us some Prince. Two+ hours of His Badness and we still wanted more.

Lots of comments about MTV: "That's a bass, betcha ain't see one of those since 1975!" And it-ain't-bragging-if-it's-true patter: "My band is tight! T-I-T-E!" Renato Neto as Rick Wakeman! John Blackwell's two-armed drumline! Plus "The Ballad of Henry and Sheila", performed with acoustic panache and pinpoint comic timing. That's craft, we ain't see it in a while, and I don't think there will be a better concert all year.

Meanwhile, he got rolled to center stage and off enclosed in a big speakboxxx. And here's what awaited him backstage.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:27 AM   0 comments links to this post

The Whole World Won't Be Watching
You're not likely to see this footage from Sunday's Blackhawk Down-like situation in Baghdad, in which a US helicopter fired rockets on an abandoned US Bradley tank after receiving gunfire from near it, killing dozens of Iraqis including this Al-Arabiya TV reporter: Palestinian Reporter Dies in Baghdad Battle. More than 20 journalists have been killed. Yesterday's death toll across Iraq alone was more than 100, nearly twice as many as those left dead by Hurricane Ivan.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:12 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, September 09, 2004
Chi-Chi Man Redemption? UPDATE
After protest from Outrage!, Ele and Vybz have had their MOBO nominations withdrawn. Discussion here.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:02 PM   0 comments links to this post

Love and Theft
Odub and others on the new sampling case.

Here's Joe Schloss' thoughts:

"I was actually surprised by this lawsuit, because the standard they set was what I thought the standard already was.

You know, there are two sets of rights, the master rights and the publishing rights. The publishing refers to the song as a conceptual entity and the master rights to a specific recording of it. So my understanding has always been that questions about how much of a song you can use only have to do with publishing rights, and that they are basically like any other plagiarism case. Like, exactly how many words can you take before you’ve stolen someone’s book? That is a very subjective question, which is why it’s constantly being debated and changed. But master-wise, which is what this decision seems to deal with, my understanding was that *any* unauthorized sample of a recording is not legal and never has been.

The 'unrecognizable amount' standard was, and I guess still is, de facto. If you think about it, it really doesn’t make any sense as a legal standard: if it’s unrecognizable, it’s unrecognizable – they can’t bust you for it, because they can’t recognize it. Conversely, if they can bust you for it, then – by definition – it is recognizable. Which brings me back to why this decision is so weird: I’ll buy it as a statement of legal principle, but as a law, simple logic dictates that it’s totally unenforceable."

posted by Zentronix @ 1:16 PM   0 comments links to this post

Musicology's End
Here's a piece on Prince that I did for the finale of his Musicology Tour this weekend on September 11 in San Jose.

But wait. Here's an even better piece, by Matos, who has to be the world-leading Princeologyist. Any resemblances in the pieces are coincidental in that I didn't read his piece til after I filed. But then again, there's no doubt that his excellent book on Sign'O'The Times influenced me. Yeah, pretty thoroughly.

posted by Zentronix @ 11:08 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Still mad about Monday. Rookie umps should only be allowed to work Expos and Yankees games. Red Sox fans are like roaches, they're everywhere and their only function is to annoy. Don't tailgate in my parking lot or eat my Gordon Biersch garlic fries. Go Huddy.


posted by Zentronix @ 11:15 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, September 06, 2004
Chi-Chi Man Redemption?
Kelefa Sanneh, brilliantly, on Beenie Man, bu'n battyman lyrics, and the gay activist backlash.

This is a controversy that's really heated up this summer. In fact, unlike 3 years ago, bu'n chi-chi lyrics are in decline in the dancehall, and the Outrage!/J-Flag campaign has played no small part in this. But as Sanneh points out, it also has to do with dancehall's continuing global crossover.

He writes:

"Even as they portray themselves as swaggering "bad men," reggae stars also present themselves as forces for good: folk heroes, social activists, prophets. (Buju Banton, for example, sometimes calls himself, "the voice of Jamaica.") To be really successful, you have to do both at once, which is one reason vocalists find antigay rhetoric so useful. It gives them a way to gesture to religious and cultural injunctions against homosexuality (in interviews, the stars often cite Scripture) while also reminding listeners of their "bad man" bona fides. With antigay lyrics, vocalists manage to seem simultaneously righteous and wicked."

Indeed, progressive dancehall-watchers have been making these same points for a while. But just as it was with Boom Bye Bye in 1992, the discourse has reached a new height in light of the platinum success of Sean Paul, and the underground influence of T.O.K. and Elephant Man.

Sanneh's article makes two passing points that are interrelated, and that deserve elaboration.

+ "This state of affairs has bred no small amount of resentment among stars and listeners alike, who see something neocolonial in the way Britons are criticizing Jamaican music."

+ "Frustratingly, gay Jamaicans have been largely absent from this discussion."

For a dancehall artist, anti-gay lyrics are part of a closed system within which an interesting feedback loop develops. Here's how it works:

If you've ever been to a dancehall show, you'll see that chi-chi man lyrics draw an intensified response from the crowd. We could talk about who's doing the responding, perhaps compare it to the response rappers get when they ask females to strip, or much worse scenarios (note: I'm never the one to go Fox News and start talking Nazi Germany), but it's basically empirical fact.

The artists then hit the studio and develop their money lines to voice over a riddim--against tons of other artists trying to get recognized on the same beat. That stuff goes to the shop or the DJs, where the buyers and the DJs sort through the stuff. Here, with 25 seconds to catch the attention of the tastemakers, the tracks with the clearest expressions work the best, and let's face it: "Fiya bu'n" was a pretty strong trope, yall. The song gets played in the dance, to the same effect as before. And the stuff gets filtered up and up to the top of playlists and charts.

In the end, the reasons that folks dance and respond to this stuff is complicated, but there have been multiple places for the music to be ratified. A small clique of tastemakers can seal the deed. And it is small. We're talking in the low hundreds. Folks who want to generalize homophobia to the entire country of Jamaica, or speak of it broadly in terms of abstract nationalisms would do well to start first by studying the process of making a dancehall hit.

On the other hand, that group is a powerful group, one confident to believe it can shape the attitudes of the island and the culture. Homophobia also allows that group--let's call them the cultural elite because that's what they are--to also gain acceptance from the island's political establishment. Not a small thing when you consider the fractious, often bloody history between politicians and musicians on the island.

Homophobia, in the same way the culture war does for American fundamentalists and business interests, strikes a strong bargain between the two most powerful forces in Jamaica. Together, the alliance of the establishment with the most influential anti-establishment types can make any kind of dissent look nothing less than treasonous. No wonder gay activists in Jamaica appear tentative to First Worlders.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, September 03, 2004
For Bay Area Hip-Hop Activists
The Bay-LOC website is up!

And save this weekend for two events by local organizations that came out of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention:

San Jose State Student Union
Featuring Tricia Rose, workshops, B-Boy jams, film festival, MC battles

Laney College Campus, Oakland
In Conjuction with POWER 92.7


These will be two of the biggest hip-hop political events in the Bay this fall. Clear your calendars!

posted by Zentronix @ 1:41 PM   1 comments links to this post

Bring On The Debates
Debate season begins now. But even if they let Nader in the front door--not likely--none of them will be likely to top this. Click now!

While we're on the topic, what about the Kerry daughters vs. the Bush twins? Hamster Girls against Crack Babies. There's a concept.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:50 AM   0 comments links to this post

Republican Ketchup
Missed the last 2 days due to a summer blizzard of deadlines. I stayed home this week to make money. So I played ketchup last night. Can't keep coming up wth lint! Yelling at the kids during Bush's speech cause he gets me that way. Then watching pundits and Kerry's oh-shit-I-better-say-something speech until I passed out from boredom and round-the-clock-writing exhaustion.

Stuff to peep:

+"Bush is a no-tax, still-spend "conservative," which means he's spent more than Clinton while decimating the treasury w/ tax cuts. Waytago!" From Farai Chideya's annotated guide to Bush's speech.

+"America," he proclaimed from that altar-like podium, "is called to lead the cause of freedom in the new century....Freedom is not America's gift to the world. It is the Almighty God's gift." From David Corn on Bush's Mission From God.

+""I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and who misled America into Iraq". From Kerry's speech last night. About time he defended himself. He was starting to look like a sorry-ass mark.

+"These people have already been the victims of a process." A quote from State Supreme Court Judge John Cataldo. From Sarah Ferguson at the Village Voice. Andre 3000 was apparently waiting in the crowd on a crew member who was among those released yesterday.

+"There never have been so many people arrested in the history of our 80 political conventions in the United States." From Tom Hayden. Quoted in Newsday.

+"This morning, the Labor Department quietly released data showing that new unemployment claims rose by 19,000 last week, a number Bush will likely be far too manly to mention when he takes the stage tonight." Esther Kaplan on the economic girly-men beat. BTW the new economic numbers hit today...more soon.

+"Truly inspiring. His powerful message was conveyed with the gravitas and charisma of Kindergarten Cop and the rippling eroticism of Conan the Barbarian." Ed Helms on Arnold's speech.

+"You've got to tell the delegates what they want to hear in order to win them over. Politicians always talk the way it fits into their agenda," an Austrian waitress on Schwarzenegger's bizarro history of Austria.

+"I really wish the GOP had scheduled Alan Keyes as a speaker. Now that would have been really entertaining." From Notes from a Different Kitchen

+"Dissing Michael Moore? Why not, I feel like doing it myself sometimes. But biting Saturday Night Live and "Jump?" Offensive. Unforgivably wack." From Hua.

+Bonus: Jay Smooth grokking the Twins. Be easy on em yall--they're crack babies!

posted by Zentronix @ 8:07 AM   0 comments links to this post

Division Beat
Robert Christgau and John Payne on protest music.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:48 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Hawai'i on TV
So NBC's "Hawaii" debuted this week. Minors, brah. Just some tourist shit. Here's the real story.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:23 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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