Fela

Listening to the massive compilation of Fela Kuti tracks that I got from eponymous dave, or “Torrent Master,” as we now call him.

Afrobeat rocks so hard.

OK, say you’re a rock star… and you think you’re pretty big stuff, right? Fela started his own country, jack. Top that. The Kalakuta Republic was autonomous from the Nigerian government and maintained its own “security force.”

Fela and his band, renamed “Africa 70″, then returned to Nigeria. He then formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune which also served as a recording studio. Fela also changed his middle name to “Anikulapo”, stating that his original middle name of Ransome was a slave name. The recordings continued, and the music became more politically motivated. Fela’s music became very popular among the Nigerian public. However, it was also very unpopular with the ruling government, and raids on the Kalakuta Republic were frequent. In 1974 the police arrived with a search warrant and a cannabis joint, which they had intended to plant on Fela. He became wise to this and swallowed the joint. In response, the police took him into custody and waited to examine his feces. Fela enlisted the help of his prison mates and gave the police someone else’s feces, and Fela was freed. He then recounted this tale in his release Expensive Shit.

I am listening to Expensive Shit as we speak. When US/UK pop/rock gets to be too boring/materialistic/sophomoric/cynical, I pop in some Fela or King Sunny Ade and rock the house… If you can listen to Afrobeat and not have the urge to jump around and shake something, you’re past salvation. Seriously.

There’s another documentary out there

Control Room is a documentary about the newsroom at Al Jazeera, the only independent Arab news network. Al Jazeera has been criticized by True PatriotsÙ as being anti-American, biased, and a propaganda tool of anti-American Islamists. For that matter, so have I, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

I have not seen the film, and I dearly want to. Here is a brief plot summary from IMDB:

A chronicle which provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jazeera, the Arab world’s most popular news outlet. Roundly criticized by Cabinet members and Pentagon officials for reporting with a pro-Iraqi bias, and strongly condemned for frequently airing civilian causalities as well as footage of American POWs, the station has revealed (and continues to show the world) everything about the Iraq War that the Bush administration did not want it to see.

I would also encourage you to check out the Film Threat review:

Three Arab stars emerge in this fascinating documentary. Senior Producer Sameer Khader acts as our eyes and ears at headquarters, while reporter Hassan Ibrahim is our man on the ground. Deema Khatib is a young female producer who never seems to leave the control booth. These three hold us spellbound as we watch them fight to transmit the news in what is – for them – as truly “fair and balanced” a manner as possible, though many in the U.S. might disagree. Of course the biggest complaint about Al Jazeera is that it’s biased against America. Well, duh. Fox News is the number-one cable news network in this country; is Fox News not blatantly biased?

This has to be somewhere that I can check it out….

Hm…

Another dog saves humans’ asses story. We gotta start feeding our higher powers something besides kibble.

Toronto ðÛð A heavily armed man says he called off plans for an east-end shooting spree Wednesday afternoon following a chance encounter with a friendly dog.

The 43-year-old man told police that he’d travelled from New Brunswick with the plan of randomly shooting Toronto residents.

After parking his gun-packed car near Queen Street East and Victoria Park Avenue, he stepped into a nearby park to load his weapons.

There, he said, a playful dog approached him. That encounter apparently changed his mind.

This is breaking my heart

It’s going to be a nation of Lila Lipscombs the brings down the House of Bush…

A mother in Sacramento isn’t letting Bush’s press blackout keep her son hidden from the world.

The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq invited news coverage of the arrival of her son’s flag-draped casket at Sacramento International Airport.

Nearly a dozen reporters, photographers and television crews were present when the coffin of Army Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey, 34, was transferred to a hearse outside a cargo terminal late Sunday.

McCaffrey “did not die for nothing. … The way he lived needs to be talked about. Patrick was not a fighter, he was a peacemaker,” his mother, Nadia McCaffrey, told the Los Angeles Times.

I should add this qualifier, though

I am becoming a huge fan of Sasha Frere-Jones’ writing.

He is in the studio with his own band, The Sands, with John Agnello.

Sahsa says this:
“Listen to the Kim Deal message on John’s siteÛit’s worth it.”

So I go to Agnello’s site, listen to his answering machine messages that he has posted on the web, AND whaddya know…? There’s a message from Kim Deal from his answering machine, where she’s being kinda bitchy and a little crabby and it sounds like this might have been recorded before her recent decision to be a little more careful with herself…

OK.

Kim Deal might be a complete pain in the ass. The fact that she’s recently become a sober person might indicate that there have been long stretches of time in the past where she was not a sober person, and it is probably safe to assume, not a sane person.

This recording sounds like it might have been made at one of those times. Based on the message, it is also (probably) safe to assume that Agnello was in the contractual employ of either Kim Deal, Kim Deal’s band or Kim Deal’s label, or varying degrees of all three.

So what the fuck is this doing on his website? OK, she’s a famous person, and therefore surrenders her right to privacy, I suppose one could argue, but if she’s calling Agnello to talk about work, then he’s not just some papparazzo or a reporter for ET!, he’s a contracted professional, arguably like an attorney or a doctor, or for that matter, an investment broker. Barring a subpoena, he shouldn’t be splashing personal correspondence around, in my opinion.

Perhaps he has her permission- we do all kinds of goofy stuff in the studio, and if we were being stoopid and the producer thought it was funny, putting it on the website would be allright with me. If that’s the case, I take it all back.

Otherwise… damn. That’s pretty rude. “I’ll take your money and buy myself nice stuff with it, AND I am going to ridicule you on my website.” Producers are generally paid out of the band’s advance, which the band will then slave at some ridiculously low royalty rate to try and pay back. If that was my money, I would be up this guy’s ass with a lawnmower. (or, arguably worse, an attorney.)

I am not trying to pick a fight here, I’m just saying.

Writing about music

It isn’t really like dancing about architecture if you’re good at it. Sasha Frere-Jones is Good At It.

The New Yorker has been the primary outlet for Sy Hirsh and the music critic there is S/FJ. (The S/FJ weblog.) What makes us so lucky that we can get this all in one magazine? AND online?

I feel like I have sat in the corner in a coffeeshop and I am able to eavesdrop on some brilliant music writers as they talk on their cell phones.

I knew this interweb thing was good for something!

Fahrenhiet 9/11

LTGF and I and a whole posse of folks went to see F911 at The Mall of Georgia (it didn’t open in Athens this weekend. Please google “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” and “Movie Theater” and “Corporation”) (That’s a joke, you humor challenged folk).

I have so many reactions to the film. I thought about publishing a series of psuedonymous reviews here. F911 conjures a complex set of emotions in most people, I think. It made some folks angry, some sad, some both. It validates a lot of what many of us have felt watching right wing autocrats hijack the nations’s grief in the wake of 9/11, run away with American foreign policy, and define discourse in terms of “You’re either with us or you’re a moonbat communist and probably a homosexual.”

F911 defies all of the false dichotomies of the Limbaugh/Coulter right. I am an American, and in many ways, I consider myself to be a patriot. Michael Moore’s film reminds me of that. When I see these 22 year old NCOs in Iraq saying “I don’t believe that you can kill someone without killing a little piece of yourself…. I really believe that…” I think, “This war better be worth it, to do that to that American boy.”

When I see the only footage I have ever (EVER!) seen of the same guys in the VA hospital getting physical therapy for their missing limbs, and the guys in the encounter group for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I think the same thing.

The Right is left squalling about this film without having seen it. They do so at peril to their own credibility, especially when those of us that have seen it have found it to be such a pro-American and (in the best possible way) pro-life film.

That’s one review of the film that I wanted to write. Here’s the other:

I loved it, but I gotta say, that guy they had playing the president, man… he made Bush look like an idiot.

Go Fuck Yourself

Does Cheney have “pump head“?

A substantial proportion of patients after coronary artery bypass surgery experience measurable impairment in their mental capabilities. In the surgeons’ locker room, this phenomenon (not publicized for obvious reasons) has been referred to as "pump head."

The guy’s clearly out of control. Perhaps we have found the reason….

::Update:: Anyone else you’d like to say “Fuck you to, Mr. Cheney?

Something I almost forgot

Nothing cooler than finding something I’d forgotten about in someone else’s iTunes library.

Even though I could bore you to sleep with stories about what a bad seed he is, Greg Dulli’s old band Afghan Whigs was at times brilliant, maddening, blistering. At no time were they were more so than on 1993’s Gentlemen. I was turned on to this record by Sean D., guitarist and gentleman in his own right with whom it was my pleasure to play in a band with for eight years. We were going somewhere (I think it was to the river to swim) and he said “Let me play you something.” He put the cassette(!) in the player and kept inching the volume up until we got to the river, stopped the car, and realized that we had deafened ourselves (again).

We toured for years, and one tour we were one stop behing the Afghan Whigs for just about the entire tour. Everywhere we stopped, there was another tale of a drunken, violent Greg Dulli somehow turning the whole business transaction of a rock show (band plays, crowd pays club, club pays band, band drinks free beer and leaves) into some kind of shattering psychodrama.

But the album still holds up. “Gentlemen” is still a brilliant piece of work, for all its flaws.

::Later that same day…::
this record (Gentlemen) is really making my head spin. I listened to it once a day for the year after I heard it that first time. That was touring time- crazy girlfriend, life without air conditioning, 210 shows a year time. I would give just about anything to know what ever happened to Marcy Mays (from Scrawl). She dueted on ‘Gentlemen’ on a song called “My Curse,” which is one of the most sad/crazy/desperate songs I have ever heard. It really captures that time for me. *sigh*

through a glass darkly

Jane Dark is the best blogger you aren’t reading. (shame on you.)

She just flat intimidates me, actually.

Today she posts this:

“It was time, after all, to play my other favorite game: Googling the name of the most recently appointed US ambassador to, oh, anywhere really, along with the search term ‘death squad.'”