Saturday, February 13, 2010

Musical Interlude: Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush

"Another Day", which is a 1979 cover of a Roy Harper tune. This Mortal Coil also covered this song a few years later, with Elizabeth Fraser doing the vocals. Both covers are well worth a listen.

Musical Interlude: Gil Scott-Heron

It's good to know he's back in action. The new album (I'm New Here) just dropped this past week. I'm hoping he'll be sticking around and recording a bit more.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Musical Interlude: Talking Heads

this must be the place

dirk | MySpace Video

"This Must Be The Place" from the Stop Making Sense concert video. The studio version of the song can be found on Speaking in Tongues, closing out that LP on a hopeful note. Up to that point, David Byrne was not known for penning love songs, so the lyrics along with the melody were definitely something of a revelation.
Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - burn with a weak heart
(So I) guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong . . nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight . . . say goodnight

Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home - -she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this where I'll be . . . where I'll be

Hi yo We drift in and out
Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head Ah ooh

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Worth reading

Jonathan Kay's article on the recent Nashville Tea Party Convention attendees: Black Helicopters Over Nashville, deserves a read. While a lot of the attention got lavished on Palin and her low tech "PalmPilot", self-identified conservative Kay was looking at the make-up of the rank-and-file attendees. What he saw was far from flattering. Apparently, he's writing a book on 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and has the ability to discern conspiracy nuts:
Within a few hours in Nashville, I could tell that what I was hearing wasn't just random rhetorical mortar fire being launched at Obama and his political allies: the salvos followed the established script of New World Order conspiracy theories, which have suffused the dubious right-wing fringes of American politics since the days of the John Birch Society.

This world view's modern-day prophets include Texas radio host Alex Jones, whose documentary, The Obama Deception, claims Obama's candidacy was a plot by the leaders of the New World Order to "con the Amercican people into accepting global slavery"; Christian evangelist Pat Robertson; and the rightward strain of the aforementioned "9/11 Truth" movement. According to this dark vision, America's 21st-century traumas signal the coming of a great political cataclysm, in which a false prophet such as Barack Obama will upend American sovereignty and render the country into a godless, one-world socialist dictatorship run by the United Nations from its offices in Manhattan.


A software engineer from Clearwater, Fla., told me that Washington, D.C., liberals had engineered the financial crash so they could destroy the value of the U.S. dollar, pay off America's debts with worthless paper, and then create a new currency called the Amero that would be used in a newly created "North American Currency Union" with Canada and Mexico. I rolled my eyes at this one-off kook. But then, hours later, the conference organizers showed a movie to the meeting hall, Generation Zero, whose thesis was only slightly less bizarre: that the financial meltdown was the handiwork of superannuated flower children seeking to destroy capitalism.

And then, of course, there is the double-whopper of all anti-Obama conspiracy theories, the "birther" claim that America's president might actually be an illegal alien who's constitutionally ineligible to occupy the White House. This point was made by birther extraordinaire and Christian warrior Joseph Farah, who told the crowd the circumstances of Obama's birth were more mysterious than those of Jesus Christ. (Apparently comparing Obama to a messiah is only blasphemous if you're doing so in a complimentary vein.) To applause, he declared, "My dream is that if Barack Obama seeks reelection in 2012 that he won't be able to go to any city, any city, any town in America without seeing signs that ask, 'Where's the birth certificate?'"
I tend to be allergic toward movements that embrace conspiracy theorists and/or advance conspiracy theories. I might be somewhat sympathetic toward individuals who are concerned about the economic problems we face or the rather dysfunctional state of our government. However, the moment I'm asked to contribute time or money to groups that go around advancing eliminationist or hate speech (think of Tancredo's address at that convention), or weird conspiracy theories (e.g., the birthers and New World Order nuts), I'll simply have to say "no thanks." If a populist movement that is considerably saner forms (and by saner I mean no racists, no conspiracy idiots, etc.), I'll give it a look. The "Tea Party" bunch is not it. Avoid like the plague.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Musical Interlude: Wire

From the "it's nice to be reminded" department, here's one of Wire's videos from the late 1980s:

H/t BLCKDGRD. Easily, "Kidney Bingos" serves as simultaneously both Wire's catchiest and weirdest song. It's one of those tunes that's hard not to sing along to, but those lyrics - the chorus goes: "money spine/paper lung/kidney bingos/organ fun" and yet the song itself almost has the feel of a love song. Then again, that was always part of the charm of Wire: the listener never quite knew what to expect from album to album, which was why they were one of my favorite bands back in the day.

Say hello to

2L4O: Too Liberal For Obama (h/t). Wish my budget weren't so tight - I wouldn't mind one of those t-shirts!

What exactly is the demographic makeup of the so-called Tea Party?

This quote from Meghan McCain (via LGF) made me wonder:
McCain: Congressman Tancredo went on TV and he was the first opening speaker and he said, ‘People who could not even spell the word vote or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House whose name is Barack Hussein Obama.’ And then he went on to say that people at the convention should have to pass literacy tests in order to be able to vote in this country, which is the same thing that happened in the 50’s to prevent African Americans from voting. It’s innate racism and I think it’s why young people are turned off by this movement. And I’m sorry, but revolutions start with young people, not with 65-year-old people talking about literacy tests and people who can’t say the word ‘vote’ in English.
My emphasis added. All I've had time to do is a cursory scan of the internet, and I am not really finding any solid data on the demographics of the so-called Tea Party Movement. My impression has been that the bulk of its activists and adherents are predominantly white, and predominantly middle-aged to elderly men and women (before you go apeshit here, please note the use of the term "predominantly" as opposed to a term like "exclusively"). Again, that's an impression largely based on scanning coverage from media reports from all over the political spectrum over the past year (give or take a couple months). I also do spend a considerable amount of time around young adults, thanks to my current vocation, in a relatively conservative part of the US. One thing that does seem to resonate with what Ms. McCain says is that the young white conservative adults I tend to encounter do seem to be turned off by racist language and conspiracy theorizing, which the Tea Party seems to bring in abundance. Of course my data base is one that is largely college-educated, and clearly limited to my personal contacts. I'd hate to make too many generalizations from that set of observations alone. My hunch is that Ms. McCain is probably correct here, and typically when I think of reform movements or revolutionary movements, they are largely youth-driven. I remember P.J. O'Rourke used to propose a "babe theory" of social movements, which though thoroughly sexist did make a similar point. His thesis was that to gauge the potential success of any social or political movement, look to see if relatively large numbers of attractive young women attended its rallies and meetings. If the answer is yes, then you have a movement that would probably be formidable. If the answer is no, then, it's a movement that will fizzle. The broader point, regardless, is that where you find young females, you'll also find young males, and they're the ones who are going to provide that social movement with most of the energy and ideas that it will need in order to flourish. Go back to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, for example of a reform movement that was very youth-driven. Or if revolutions are more your flavor, it was largely college-educated youth who were the movers and shakers of the overthrow of the Shah in Iran in the late 1970s. If those movements had been driven by older partisan or elite apparatchiks, does anyone seriously think they would have gone anywhere? Now of course, that's not to say that a movement's leaders or figurehead spokespersons also must be young - I'm merely looking at the rank and file members of a movement.

Which makes me wonder - have any of the legitimate pollsters bothered to gather demographic data of the Tea Party crowd using proper scientific sampling techniques? If not, will they? I'd like to know with some certainty whether my hunch (and Ms. McCain's hunch) is correct.

Sidebar: usually I don't quote or refer to conservative pundits or writers at such length, but since the Tea Party crowd identify themselves predominantly as conservatives, it seemed fitting.

For your listening pleasure this morning

Kat Boelskov.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Musical Interlude: Cabaret Voltaire


Nothing like some vintage early 1980s CV. That sample ("There's 70 billion people out there, where are they hiding?") is classic.

Pictures of starving children sell records: Double take!

Like Dennis Perrin, I certainly found the news that some pop music stars were remaking "We Are The World" to be incredibly lazy, though I don't necessarily see it as an indictment on this era's music scene - seriously, was the original version of the song all that creative in the first place? Hell, the original seemed pretty derivative of the sort of crap you might have heard on a Jerry Lewis telethon back in the day. But I digress. This bit, though, I do think pretty well nails it:
It's a feel good moment for celebs and their sucker fish, a "humanitarian" gold star on the resume. Meantime, nothing significant changes. The same power relationships resulting in more death, starvation and disease. Yawn.
Chumbawamba broke it down back much the same way in the mid-1980s with "How to Get Your Band on Television" (from their album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records):

The lyrics:
Product sells, People die
Same manipulation wrapped in lies
Give a little money and play your rock and roll
The biggest prizes to the biggest fools
In keeping with the fashion for charity, not change
Here's our contribution: we've called it Slag Aid
For every pop star that we slag off today
A million pounds will be given away!
Paul McCarney - Come on Down!
With crocodile tears to irrigate this ground
Make of Ethiopia a fertile paradise
Where everyone sings Beatles songs and buys shares in EMI
Freddie Mercury - This is Your Life!
Thank the Lord that you were born white
And thank apartheid for this wonderful opportunity
To peddle your hypocrisy in Sun City
David Bowie - The Price is Right!
A suitful of compassion and a gobful of shite
Still the voices of those who doubt
Coca-Cola for the peasants to end this drought
Jagger and Richards - Game for a Laugh!
Dancing us down the garden path
To a place where money grows on trees
Where cocaine habits are financed by hunger and disease
Ask the puppet-masters who pull the strings
"Who makes the money when the puppets sing?"
Ask the corporations "Where does the money go?"
Ask the empty bellied children "What are we singing for?"
A Cliff Richard - 3,2,1!
The God who remains when the religion's gone
Cliff, we've got a special surprise for you today
So come closer, step this way
Cliff, you're such an example of moral worth
Such a purist saint come to bless our Earth
That on behalf of our viewers watching telly
And on behalf of the millions with empty bellies
We're donating something special that we're all going to like:
Cliff Richard, we're going to nail you up to a cross tonight!!
I know there must be more
Than giving just a little bit more
When half of this world is so helplessly poor
Starved of a real solution -
Only charity and tradition
And the cycle of hungry children
Will keep on going round...
Note, I've mentioned the celebrity charity CDs/iTunes thing before, back when Darfur was the flavor of the month cause. The celebrities get to look all "sensitive" and "humanitarian", while whatever political and economic forces that have already starved Haitians for ages continue unquestioned and unabated. Someone will pocket a nice profit, thanks to the rubes who go off and buy the CD or mp3s (so they, too, can feel "sensitive" and "humanitarian" - and I'd be willing to wager that the Haitians will see hardly a dime. "And the cycle of hungry children will keep on going round..."