Saturday, September 18, 2004

Some Favorite Jazz Labels

From the 1960s (the heyday for advanced hardbop and free/avant-garde jazz) and 1970s (free, fusion, kozmigroov):



Strata East: Put out some classic records by Pharoah Sanders, Juju, Mtume, the Heath Brothers, Gil-Scott Heron. A small indy label that was good while it lasted.



ESP Disk: Another indy label that managed to survive for over a decade before folding. Some great avant-garde jazz in that label's back catalog, including recordings by Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Giuseppi Logan, Albert Ayler, Marion Brown, Noah Howard, and countless others. In addition to recording some classics from the jazz underground, ESP Disk recorded and released a number of underground rock classics from acts such as the Fugs. I always liked the principle behind ESP: the artists had complete control over the final product. To me, that's the way it should be.



BYG-Actuel: A French indy label that released some incredible jazz recordings from the end of the 1960s to the first years of the 1970s. Shady business practices aside (Sunny Murray refers to the propietors of the label as gangster), the label did manage to document some great music. Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, Don Cherry, Frank Wright, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra, among others, led sessions for the label.



Impulse!: This was closer to a "major label" as jazz labels go, and was eventually bought out by ABC before folding. Eventually the back catalog was bought out by MCA, then GRP, which along with Verve and several other smaller jazz labels got bought out by Seagram-Vivendi (I think I have the conglomerate's name correct). For a while during the mid to late 1990s, Verve's parent company had an aggressive reissue program for Impulse! (referred to as The New Thing Series). Alas, that was short-lived. Impulse! did issue numerous classic albums from such giants as John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Marion Brown, Archie Shepp, Sam Rivers, etc. If you have open ears, it's really hard to go wrong with the label's releases (up until about 1975).



Blue Note: Here's a jazz label that flourished during the mid-20th century, folded in the mid-1970s and has had something of a revival starting in the 1990s. I usually think of the label more for its classic hardbop recordings (Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock all come readily to mind) and soul jazz recordings (Donald Byrd, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderly, etc.), but the label also found plenty of room for avant-garde visionaries such as Sam Rivers, Don Cherry, and Eric Dolphy. Critics often say that the label went downhill after about 1967, and they're probably about right. Still, since the 1990s there's been some primo releases from acts such as Medeski Martin & Wood, and although Norah Jones isn't strictly a jazz vocalist, she sure has a sweet voice.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Dystopia

From the Wikipedia:



A dystopia is any society considered to be undesirable, for any of a number of reasons. The term was coined as a converse to a Utopia, and is most usually used to refer to a fictional (often near-future) society where current social trends are taken to nightmarish extremes.



[...]



Dystopias are frequently written as warnings, or as satires, showing current trends extrapolated to a nightmarish conclusion. In this, they frequently differ from utopias; idealistic utopias have no roots in today's society, being in some other place or time, or after some major discontinuity in history



[...]



A dystopia is all too closely connected to current-day society. A considerable number of near-future science fiction stories of the type described as 'cyberpunk' use dystopian settings of a high-technology corporate dominated world where national governments are becoming steadily more irrelevant.




The entry goes on to list numerous dystopian novels and films, with many of which I am familiar. To the list I'd probably add THX-1138, an early George Lucas film. Although intended as a reaction to trends from the 1960s including consumerism, conformity, the numbing effects of drugs and entertainment, the use of religious ritual to maintain a rigid social order, etc., those trends seem to have continued unabated in the ensuing decades.

Surprise, surprise....NOT!

Sharon Repudiates the Road Map



Like we couldn't see that one coming. Juan Cole does a decent job of summing up the plight of the Palestinians:



...Sharon insists on acting unilaterally, intends to occupy the Palestinian population indefinitely, and intends to permanently incorporate much of the West Bank, conquered in 1967, into Israel, while leaving the Palestinian population stateless. They lack so much as a passport or a country, many of their children are hungry, unemployment is astronomical, and their lives are ruined by a dense network of Israeli roads and checkpoints that make it difficult even just to go to the hospital.



I am sure that most Americans are not even aware that Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation and that every day Palestinian territory shrinks as it is stolen by fanatical Israeli colonists.



[...]



There are several examples in the contemporary world of land-hungry states attempting to incorporate neighbors' territory into their own...But in each of these cases, the conquering state wants the people along with the territory. Tibetans have Chinese passports, and Saharans have Moroccan ones. But Israel isn't giving the Palestinians Israeli passports. It just wants their land, not them, and sets things up to try to force the Palestinians out of their homeland. It is an ongoing injustice, with Israeli colonization creeping forward.




A true American ally, I suppose. Sadly, I imagine that the Zionist fanatics are unable to realize just how Nazi-like they are in their treatment of the Palestinians - either that or they plain don't give a damn. And naturally, their enablers here in the US tend to denounce any criticism of Israel's excesses as anti-semitism, which is absolutely ridiculous: the issue has to do with basic human rights. Then again, thanks to our own politicians, there isn't much of a high ground that the US can take on human rights now, is there.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Iraq FUBAR. Bush's war an absolute disaster

Unprecedented Disaster: We LOST the War: Blumenthal MUST READ, from reef the dog's Daily Kos diary. Gives us a Sidney Blumenthal article from The Guardian. The freaky thing is that those wack-jobs in the White House are likely to keep on escalating things in Iraq and the surrounding region if they get their claws on the White House for another term. Taking a line from an old Last Poets tune (and reef the dog's diary): This is Madness!

I just love satire

Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'



A reprint of the classic Onion article with some hyperlinks added. Those folks at The Onion must have been psychics.



Props to Doug of George W. Bush, Will You Please Go Now?! for the scoop.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Read this:

With trembling fingers by Hal Crowther.



Clips:



Where does it go from here? The nightmare misadventure in Iraq is over, beyond the reach of any reasonable argument, though many more body bags will be filled. In Washington, chicken hawks will still be squawking about "digging in" and winning, but Vietnam proved conclusively that no modern war of occupation would ever be won. Every occupation is doomed. The only way you "win" a war of occupation is the old-fashioned way, the way Rome finally defeated the Carthaginians: kill all the fighters, enslave everyone else, raze the cities and sow the fields with salt.



Otherwise the occupied people will fight you to the last peasant, and why shouldn't they? If our presidential election fails to dislodge the crazy bastards who annexed Baghdad, many of us in this country would welcome regime change by any intervention, human or divine. But if, say, the Chinese came in to rescue us--Operation American Freedom--how long would any of us, left-wing or right, put up with an occupying army teaching us Chinese-style democracy? A guerrilla who opposes an invading army on his own soil is not a terrorist, he's a resistance fighter. In Iraq we're not fighting enemies but making enemies. As Richard Clarke and others have observed, every dollar, bullet and American life that we spend in Iraq is one that's not being spent in the war on terrorism. Every Iraqi, every Muslim we kill or torture or humiliate is a precious shot of adrenaline for Osama and al Qaeda.



[...]



I struggle against the suspicion that so many of my fellow Americans are conceptually challenged. I want to reason with my neighbors, I want to engage these lost Americans. What makes you angry, neighbor? What arouses your suspicions? Does it bother you that this administration made terrorism a low priority, dismissed key intelligence that might have prevented the 9-11 catastrophe, then exploited it to justify the pre-planned destruction of Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with al Qaeda? All this is no longer conjecture, but direct reportage from cabinet-level meetings by the turncoat insiders Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill.



If the Pentagon ever thought Saddam had "weapons of mass destruction," it was only because the Pentagon gave them to him. As Kevin Phillips recounts in American Dynasty, officials of the Reagan and first Bush administrations eagerly supplied Saddam with arms while he was using chemical weapons on the Kurds. They twice sent Donald Rumsfeld to court Saddam, in 1983 and 1984, when the dictator was in the glorious prime of his monsterhood.



This scandal, concurrent with Iran-Contra, was briefly called "Iraqgate," and, yes, among the names of those officials implicated you'll find most of the engineers of our current foreign policy. (They also signaled their fractious client, Saddam, that it might be all right to overrun part of Kuwait; you remember what happened when he tried to swallow it all.) Does any of this trouble you? Does it worry you that Dick Cheney, as president of the nefarious Halliburton Corporation, sold Iraq $73 million in oilfield services between 1997 and 2000, even as he plotted with the Wolfowitz faction to whack Saddam? Or that Halliburton, with its CEO's seat still warm from Cheney's butt, was awarded unbid contracts worth up to $15 billion for the Iraq invasion, and currently earns a billion dollars a month from this bloody disaster? Not to mention its $27.4 million overcharge for our soldiers' food.



These are facts, not partisan rhetoric. Do any of them even make you restless? The cynical game these shape-shifters have been playing in the Middle East is too Byzantine to unravel in 1,000 pages of text. But the hypocrisy of the White House is palpable, and beggars belief. If there's one American who actually believes that Operation Iraqi Freedom was about democracy for the poor Iraqis, then you, my friend, are too dangerously stupid to be allowed near a voting booth.



[...]



"A lot of so-called conservatives today don't know what the word means," Barry Goldwater said in 1994, when the current cult of right-wing radicals and "neocons" had begun to define and assert themselves. Goldwater was my first political hero, before I was old enough to read his flaws. But his was the conservatism of the wolf--the lone wolf--and this is the conservatism of sheep.



[...]



I don't think it's accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It's polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not. Thanks to some contested ballots in a state governed by the president's brother, a once-proud country has been delivered into the hands of liars, thugs, bullies, fanatics and thieves. The world pities or despises us, even as it fears us. What this election will test is the power of money and media to fool us, to obscure the truth and alter the obvious, to hide a great crime against the public trust under a blood-soaked flag. The most lavishly funded, most cynical, most sophisticated political campaign in human history will be out trolling for fools. I pray to God it doesn't catch you.




That's a pretty decent taste of the whole editorial. Do yourself a favor and read the rest, then send it off to your undecided friends as food for thought. If we consider a re-election as something of a referendum for or against the incumbent, then it's pretty safe to say that the facts warrant Bush's immediate eviction from the White House. Whatever one might say about Kerry, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of Kerry picking sane people for cabinet-level positions, as advisors, and such. That in and of itself will be many steps in the right direction. We might finally begin to right ourselves both at home and abroad. Let's hope that collectively enough of us do the right thing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A reminder of the human toll of Bush's War

Another day in Baghdad.



Pictures of journalist Mazen al-Tomasi on the scene before and after he was hit by shrapnel caused by a US missile. I've seen some of the other pictures of injured and killed civilians, and all I can say is this: I don't know any more whether to cry or punch a hole in the wall.

Sometimes Bu$hCo flip-flops are amusing, sometimes deadly

Bush's Bloody Flip-Flop



A clip:



A flip-flop by George W. Bush worsened the military-political debacle in Fallujah last April when the Bush administration overruled the Marine commanding general twice, first ordering him to undertake a retaliatory assault against the rebellious Iraqi city and then abruptly reversing direction three days later.



Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, who commanded U.S. forces in western Iraq, told reporters that he opposed the decision to attack Fallujah in April and then – after committing Marines to the battle – he objected to the follow-up order to cease offensive operations and pull back, a decision that effectively ceded the city to insurgents as a “no-go” zone for American troops.



“We follow our orders,” Conway said in the interview on Sept. 12 after relinquishing his command.



The order to attack Fallujah in early April followed tough talk in Washington about punishing those responsible for the gruesome deaths of four armed U.S. contractors whose vehicles were ambushed in Fallujah on March 31.



Senior U.S. officials in Iraq say the order overruling the Marine commander, who favored a more measured response, originated from Bush's White House, the Washington Post reported. Conway said he and other Marine officers had a more deliberative plan for bringing the city under control.




It goes on.

Bu$hCo and HYpocrisy Go Together Like Ugly on an Ape

Professor says Bush revealed National Guard favoritism



NEW YORK (CNN) -- A business school professor who taught George W. Bush at Harvard University in the early 1970s says the future president told him that family friends had pulled strings to get him into the Texas Air National Guard.



Yoshi Tsurumi, in his first on-camera interview on the subject, told CNN that Bush confided in him during an after-class hallway conversation during the 1973-74 school year.



"He admitted to me that to avoid the Vietnam draft, he had his dad -- he said 'Dad's friends' -- skip him through the long waiting list to get him into the Texas National Guard," Tsurumi said. "He thought that was a smart thing to do."



[...]



"What I couldn't stand -- and I told him -- he was all for the U.S. to continue with the Vietnam War. That means he was all for other people, Americans, to keep on fighting and dying."



[...]



Tsurumi said he remembers Bush because every teacher remembers their best and worst students, and Bush was in the latter group.



"Lazy. He didn't come to my class prepared," Tsurumi said. "He did very badly."

It Can't Happen Here? Riiiiiight!

Via Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest, is some excerpts of Sinclair Lewis' classic work, It Can't Happen Here posted under the title, "Can It Happen Here?"



Check it out. And while you're at it, check out the book itself online: It Can't Happen Here. It may be a bit dated, but still very timely for these dark days. Feed your head.

Some Fun Thanks to a Colleague:

George W Bush Speechwriter. Just whated I needed - another excuse to avoid grading exams!

Monday, September 13, 2004

From the "Winning the Hearts and Minds" Dept: This can't be good

US troops face new torture claims



A clip:



Allegations that American soldiers routinely tortured and maltreated detainees have emerged from a third Iraqi city, renewing fears that abuse similar to that inflicted in Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad has been systematic and widespread.



American soldiers in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul beat and stripped detainees, threatened sexual abuse and forced them to listen to loud western music, according to statements seen by the Guardian.



[...]



Two statements have been taken from Iraqis detained in Mosul and more are expected.



In one, an Iraqi lawyer says he was hooded and stripped naked in a building known as the "disco".



Yasir Rubaii Saeed al-Qutaji describes how loud western music was played and cold water poured over his body; he said he was also threatened with sexual abuse.



"For the next 15 hours they tried to break me down by taking me frequently inside and repeating the stripping, cold water and loud music sequence," he says.



"Due to the very loud music," he adds, "they would talk to me via a loudspeaker that was placed next to my ears."



[...]



Mr al-Mallah says he was taken to a room where there was a "group torture".



He adds: "I heard nothing but screaming and suffering of detained Iraqis. The usage of cold water along with beating seemed to be a standard procedure. We were then asked to perform exhausting exercises of squatting while they were playing extremely loud (and dirty) music.



"Whoever fell to the ground out of exhaustion would receive painful beating and cold water. We were prevented from going to the toilets despite our pleas, which made many of us soil ourselves".



[...]



Mr al-Mallah says the next day, he saw "a young man of 14 years of age bleeding from his anus and lying on the floor.



"He was Kurdish and his name was Hama. I heard the soldiers talking to each other about this guy, they mentioned that the reason for this bleeding was inserting a metal object in his anus."

The Legend of Wild George Dubya: High Plains Grifter

Jeffrey St. Clair's four part series, The Life and Crimes of George W. Bush



Part One: The Ties That Blind



Part Two: Mark His Words



Part Three: More Pricks Than Kicks



Part Four: Jesus Told Him Where to Bomb

Fun with old bookmarks

Cabaret Voltaire: an analysis of Cabaret Voltaire's 1983-1987 recordings (when they were with Virgin and later EMI). They were probably my favorite industrial group.



Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth fame) writes of the trance music of the Master Musicians of Jajouka in Into The Mystic. Among other things I have a fascination with Moroccan trance music (I've got a couple albums of Gnawa trance music that I simply love playing).



A review of Alice Coltrane's Universal Consciousness cd by David Toop (an album finally re-issued stateside a couple years ago). Alice is truly an amazing improviser and composer, and one who deserves far more recognition than she has garnered. Hopefully the new album coming out later this month will help to correct that situation.



Happy reading!

Dave Lindorff asks

what if Bu$hCo opponents are the real "silent majority"?



There maybe something to that. I'm thinking back to a few months ago. Most folks who know me around the university and the surrounding community know how stridently anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War that I am. One day about mid-Spring Semester one of my top students asked me after a class, "Aren't you concerned for your safety, saying all those negative things about Bush?" We chatted about that for a bit, and the impression I got was that this somewhat conservative lady had some first hand experience of the sort of fierce reaction meted toward those expressing even mild criticism. I told her that of course I do think about my safety, and that I too had been rather astounded by what seems like a cult of personality around the man - the likes of which I have never experienced in this country in my lifetime. It occurs to me too that the this cult-like quality extends to a fair proportion of his "base", but that said, the sheer sound and fury of that portion of his base far outweighs its numbers. That sound and fury can be intimidating, to be sure. But that dark cloud comes with a silver lining: there may be a portion of the voters who publicly will parrot a pro-Bush line while privately questioning how that bozo ever got the keys to the White House in the first place. If that turns out to be correct (i.e., a solid portion of the supposedly "pro-Bush" voters privately believe they've been sold a bill of goods by the current White House occupant) - and there's probably no good way of knowing ahead of time - we could all be in for a huge surprise on November 2.



In the mean time, there's work to be done. Like staying vocal, getting out the vote, etc. The next few weeks are going to be long, indeed.

Thought Piece to Begin Your Work Week

Some ideas for political jujitsu from Jennifer Van Bergen in a column titled, How to Beat Bush: A Simple Strategy for the Average American.



Some key clips to ponder:



"The centerpiece of Boyd's theory is that one's adversary is always human. The counterposition of two set-piece strategies, especially in modern warfare, is a recipe for a bloodbath of attrition. To defeat the leadership (a perceiving human) is the goal, according to Boyd, and that is accomplished by maintaining the initiative through audacious, often uncoordinated, rapid actions until the adversary is overwhelmed by the "mismatches" between perception and reality. These mismatches are not the result of your "plan." They are an outcome of your agility--your superior ability to accept chaos and adapt rapidly to changing patterns. Improvisation."[3]



[...]



Mismatches between perception and reality are beginning to occur for the Bush Administration. Bush will surely fight hard to retain his perceptions, no matter how far removed from reality these may be. But the further those perceptions are from reality, the more likely is the ultimate demise of the policies and practices based on those perceptions. And all we need do is to keep stirring up and revealing the mismatches. We must be able to rapidly adapt to the various changing patterns and we must, as Goff further points out, "stay inside the adversary's decision cycle."[7] This means to establish "a tempo in decision making and execution that outpaces the ability of the foe to react effectively in time."[8] We do not need to control events. We need only to keep exposing the mismatches and, within the Administration's reaction cycle, as each lie and deception unravels, we need only expose the next one.



As for being audacious and uncoordinated, the peace and justice movement has an advantage. We have no leaders telling us what to do or how to do it. We have no central organization and we are not temperamentally inclined to adhere to one. We are just a loose collection of ordinary people, or what Browning's unsympathetic man would have called "this rabble's-brabble of dolts and fools."[9]




Some things to think about. Now, how do we go about putting these ideas into fruition? To what extent are we already doing so? What else could/should we be doing? Any thoughts?

I love gossip as much as the next person

Via the Smirking Chimp, here's an article appearing in the Glasgow Sunday Herald, Unmasked: The George W. Bush the President doesn't want the world to see. A preview of the potential shitstorm unleashed by Kitty Kelley's new book.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Bu$hCo: Flip-flopping more than a stack of pancakes

Bush Flip-Flop theme taking root!



Thanks to fellow Kossack HadIt for the word that the AssPress is finally picking up on Bush's own flip-floppery. Here's some examples of infamous Bush flip-flops:



_In 2000, Bush argued against new military entanglements and nation building. He's done both in Iraq.



_He opposed a Homeland Security Department, then embraced it.



_He opposed creation of an independent Sept. 11 commission, then supported it. He first refused to speak to its members, then agreed only if Vice President Dick Cheney came with him.



_Bush argued for free trade, then imposed three-year tariffs on steel imports in 2002, only to withdraw them after 21 months.



_Last month, he said he doubted the war on terror could be won, then reversed himself to say it could and would.



_A week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush said he wanted Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." But he told reporters six months later, "I truly am not that concerned about him." He did not mention bin Laden in his hour-long convention acceptance speech.

Another Bu$hCo Goon Picture

Via David Neiwert's post Feel the love:



Image Hosted by ImageShack.us




Caption: A member of the audience pulls a demonstrator's hair as he forces her out of an auditorium where President Bush was addressing a crowd of supporters at Byers Choice in Colmar, Pa. Thursday Sept. 9, 2004. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)




What is it with these right-wing geezers attacking relatively young protesters?

wasting away in wingnutterville

Mini Carnival of the Wingnuts thanks to World O'Crap.

Some more afterthoughts on 9-11

Courtesy of Juan Cole: September 11 and Its Aftermath. Definitely on the must-read list.