Wednesday, November 30, 2005

EARLY BRYAN ADAMS

LIFE UPDATES:
-Trying to stay positive and finish out the semester strong

-Setting up "CREATION STATION" in room where Rhodes used to be. Vampire Weekend trailer will be online VERY SOON.



-Still loving population facts: The other day Jeff Sachs told me that there are at least 45 (i don't remember the exact figure) cities in China with populations of over 1 Million. He didn't have a list on him but he assured the class that we wouldn't have heard of most of them.

America has 9 cities with populations over 1 million.



MUSIC UPDATE:

This weekend I was chilling out at home listening to WKTU, New York's Dance Station. It was great. I have to do that more often. They were playing a mix of early 80's/late 70's club bangers. Right after Madonna's "Borderline", an amazing song came on. I tried to remember the lyrics so I could look it up later. The voice sounded like Michael Jackson.



Turns out the song ("Let Me Take you Dancing") is Bryan Adams' first single from 1978. The reason he sounds like MJ is because the producer decided to speed up the track after he'd recorded the vocals. Apparently, Adams is embarrassed by the song and has refused to put it on any comps despite its status as an all-time classic disco song. The only way to get your hands on it is by finding a used 12".

Luckily, the BLOGOSPHERE has not forgotten "Let Me Take You Dancing". You can DL an mp3 of the track here at a cool dude named Bruce's livejournal.

I strongly recommend checking this track out. Aside from the Bryan Adams factor, it's a brilliant synthesis of Motown and disco, kind of predicting the mid-80's British Soul/New Wave genre.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

VAMPIRE WEEKEND

Hope everyone is living the high life this Thanksgiving. Shout out to Rostam who is spending this Thanksgiving in the beautiful Hollywood Hills for the animated gif from the last post. SPEAKING OF HOLLYWOOD...

It's been almost two and half years since production began on VAMPIRE WEEKEND. I am happy to say that the bulk of the footage (once thought to be lost by KING DARVES) is now in my custody and the EDITING has begun.

The film was made by Wes, Andrei, Dan, Steve and me. I play the protagonist Walcott, a young man whose country is invaded by vampires. The film opens with the death of Walcott's father at the hands of a sunglasses-wearing werewolf vampire. His dad's last words are:

Walcott, you must go to Cape Cod. Tell the Mayor that vampires are taking over your country. You must kill as many of them as...possible.

The rest of the film is Walcott's bloody march to the Cape!

Here are some stills to whet your appetite:









Tuesday, November 22, 2005

THANKSGIVING


LIVING THE HIGH LIFE

Friday, November 18, 2005

RIDDIMS UPDATE


This week in CARRIBEAN MUSIC:

1. Last weekend, Hawaiian skateboarder/Columbia student/super-musician Anton Glamb hipped me to some dope dancehall/soca videos on a website called MUZIK MEDIA, based in NJ!

The one that really blew my mind was the "Escape 2 Soca Megamix". You can find the video at the bottom of this page. It's really long and features at least 10 different rappers/singers. I think it's kind of like a year-end wrap-up mix which takes all the different versions of a Soca Riddim (is that the proper terminology?) and stiches them up into one song. It kind of has a "Do They Know It's Christmas?"-feel with all these different voices cutting in for a verse or two.

A bunch of videos on MUZIK MEDIA feature dudes riding in cars which made me realize that they DRIVE ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD in JAMAICA. Jamaica wasn't independent until 1962 so it makes sense that they would drive British-style. Still, I imagined that Jamaica's proximity to the huge automobile-plants of the US and Mexico might sway them over the right side.


BOB MARLEY

This lead to me to a totally DOPE Wikipedia article called "Rules of da Road".

There are so many interesting driving facts in there.

-Did you know that in left-driving Japan it's considered really classy to have an imported car with the steering wheel on the left side? Some rich dudes are so into this conspicuous consumption that they will pay extra to buy AMERICAN-versions of BRITISH CARS!

-A lot of countries have switched driving sides. Former British colony Nigeria went to the right side (probably b/c they hated the British so much). Sweden made the switch in 1963 in an ineffective attempt to make driving safer:

The changeover took place at 5am on Sunday, September 3, 1967, which was known in Swedish as Dagen H (H-Day), the 'H' being for Högertrafik or right-hand traffic.

Check out this awesome picture from Stockholm on H-Day:


That must have been a CRAZY DAY!

-About 1/3 of the world's population drives on the left-side of the road, but as this map shows driving on the right side clearly dominates in terms of area:

Red = Right, Blue =WRONG

India accounts for almost half of all left-side drivers.

2. I also received a Wayne Smith cd "Sleng Teng & Prince Jammy's Computerised Dub" in the mail this week. Wayne Smiths's 1986 song Sleng Teng is widely regarded as the first reggae/dancehall song to use a drum machine.
You know that MIA song where she goes "Slang Tang, that's my MIA thang" or something? Well, clearly she is familiar with Wayne Smith. Do you think his album cover inspired hers?



I'm sorry I couldn't find a bigger version of the Wayne Smith cover. These have a very similar vibe yet lack any explicit similarities. I don't know...

Anyway check out "Sleng Teng":

Wayne Smith - Sleng Teng

3. I found this great Reggae Riddims database: www.reggae-riddims.com

It's helping me to understand it all a little better (see: Diwali Riddim discussion).



Did you know that the Sean Paul song "Like Glue" (probably my ALL-TIME favorite Sean Paul song) originally appeared on a Riddim Compilation in 2001? "Like Glue" uses the Buy-Out Riddim. It's pretty amazing how much better "Like Glue" is than any of the other Buy-Out Riddim tracks.

Compare "Like Glue" with this:

Bud- Tonight

All of this Riddims Research is getting me pumped for an English class I'm taking next semester called "Parody, Plagiarism and Postcolonialism":

This course examines historical, cultural, and theoretical notions of authorship, originality, singularity, and copyright as they intersect with colonialism, postcolonialism, and globalization as processes of cultural reproduction, replication, and theft.

I wonder if we'll talk about Simple Plan at all. Canada is a postcolonial nation...


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

How Could This Happen to ME?

When I was driving up to Syracuse two weekends ago with Andrei P in his mom's SCION (which is funny because Andrei is also his mom's scion), we listened to a bunch of radio. A few times I heard a song that really jarred my sensibilities. It had "punk"/emo vocals (of the whiny, auto-tuned variety) over SUPER-CHEEZY, TV MOVIE SOUNDTRACK pianos, strings and timpani swells.



I recently found out the song was "Untitled (How Could This Happen to Me?)" by Simple Plan. You might remember Simple Plan from hits like "Welcome to My Life" and "Perfect". The video for "Perfect" features the band performing on the roof of a suburban house. Check it out here. It's really funny when everyone jumps at the same time.



Try as I might to avoid HATERIZM, I find the recent crop of MTV Pop-Punk bands (Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, New Found Glory, etc.) VERY PROBLEMATIC . I don't want to say it but...THEY SUCK!! See? I'm no better than Christgau dissing BJ. OK, let me chill out for a second...

Look, I kind of like Blink-182 and Sum-41 and in middle school I was totally into a Fat Wreck Chords compilation but there's something really fucked up about this new Simple Plan song. Other pop-punk/emo bands will at least dress up their schlocky sentiments and melodies with a little bit of "edge". Simple Plan fans can't even pretend they're punk or edgy anymore. "Untitled" is basically a Barbara Streisand song.

Here, you listen to it:

Simple Plan -Untitled (How Could This Happen to Me?)

I find it helpful to think of this in terms of a Jon Spayde article I read for a class. The Spayde article is about authenticity aka "THE REAL". Spayde formulates a 4-stage progression from REAL to HYPERFAKE:

1. REAL (not bogus)

2. REAL FAKE (classically bogus)

3. FAKE (merely bogus)

4. HYPERFAKE (so bogus it threatens the idea of the real)



He gives a bunch of bad examples. The best one is probably "LATIN DANCE CRAZES":

1. REAL- SAMBA

2. REAL FAKE - CHA CHA

3. FAKE - LAMBADA

4. HYPERFAKE - MACARENA

Does this make sense to anyone? Let me try and place Simple Plan in this hierarchy. This will be sticky because defining PUNK can be very difficult and controversial. Rather than split hairs about what REAL PUNK is let's just talk about POP-PUNK which, in and of itself, is probably HYPERFAKE to some nerds.

1. REAL - The Ramones

2. REAL FAKE - Green Day

3. FAKE - Sum-41

4. HYPERFAKE - Simple Plan, especially "Untitled"

I'm not to attached to this, but I should probably try and defend it.:

The Ramones are OG punk. No one would deny this, right??? Well, Morrissey wrote a letter to NME as a teenager extolling the virtues of the New York Dolls and proclaiming "The Ramones are rubbish!" but we all know that dude is weird.



I picked Green Day as REAL FAKE because they came out of a legit punk scene but were still thought of as pop-punk KNOCKOFFS and thus not REAL. They are "classically bogus" in the sense that they were one of the first pop-punk bands to become mainstream and thus not punk. Therefore they are ORIGINAL FAKES.




Sum-41 clearly grew out of Green Day's success. They dress punky and play in a punk-style but are so far removed from the Ramones sphere that there's almost no debate as to whether or not they deserve any true punk props. They are "merely bogus"; a cutesy, silly caricature.




Now, Simple Plan is very similar to Sum-41 but boldy went where their peers hadn't gone. With "Untitled" they take Sum-41's FAKE into the HYPER REALM! They essentially turn pop-punk into the kind of CHEEZY MELODRAMATIC CRAP that the Ramones (and maybe even Green Day) stood in opposition to. I'm not defining "Untitled" as cheezy and melodramatic by my own standards (although it certainly is). It is cheezy and melodramatic in the context of any notion of "cool", "hip" or "edgy" from the past 40 years.

For Simple Plan to fly under the punk or pop-punk banner AT ALL threatens the entire notion of punk, pop-punk.

Why should I care that Simple Plan is wack? I can always listen to the Ramones or the Clash and feel like "I GET IT". Well, I'm just scared for the kids growing up listening to this. I feel like they're being bamboozled! They are being tricked and soon their entire worldview will collapse in on itself. This strikes me as perverse and subversive!!! OMG, SIMPLE PLAN IS PUNK!

Friday, November 11, 2005

post-hippie domesticity

NOTE: I started working on this post last week. It almost turned into a novel, so I had to reel it in a little...

Have you seen The Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach's semi-autographical film about his parents' divorce? I saw it last weekend at the Lincoln Center Plaza Theater at 62nd and Broadway. There were lots of old Jewish ladies sitting behind me. We could easily vibe-out on the Upper West Side old Jewish ladies but the movie is more about the generation after them: our parents!

This vibe is not explicitly Jewish, so when I say "our" I really mean "our" - assuming your parents grew up in America and didn't have crewcuts and go to Pro-War rallies in 1968. However, the vibe is tinged with Judaism in my vibe-consciousness because it has been framed by, duh!, my Jewish parents and some of their Jewish friends. If we want to take it beyond that we'll have to start bringing in that jerk David Brooks:


(From his recent review of "The Chosen" in the NYTimes Book Review)

A few years ago, I wrote a book about the rise of a new educated class, the people with 60's values and 90's money who go to Starbucks, shop at Whole Foods and drive Volvos. A woman came up to me after one of my book talks and said, "You realize what you're talking about is the Jews taking over America."

Let's save that can of worms for another day...

So, the Squid and the Whale takes place in Park Slope, 1986. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney play the parents. Noah Baumbach's real parents are Village Voice film critic Georgia Brown and Brooklyn College MFA Professor and author Jonathan Baumbach. Blah, blah, blah - go see the movie for more on plot; we're here to know and understand the vibes.

Before I even saw the film, I could sense certain vibes. Take a look at Jeff Daniels:


He's got a great look in the movie. Very reminiscent of the dad from "Family Ties".



Know what I mean? Bearded, eighties, semi-crunchy - what should this vibe be called? For now I think the umbrella term for the vibe I'm searching out should be called "post-hippie domesticity".

It's easy to imagine a chronology in which each and every hippie sold out and turned into a yuppie in the 80's (or earlier). Hippie Johnny got a job with "the man", had kids and was eating Haagen-Dasz for breakfast by 1985, right?

Well wait a damn second! Michael J. Fox (as Alex P. Keaton) was the "yuppie" of the Family Ties family. Mom and Dad were post-hippie domestics! Alex's Reaganomics-yuppie-Gordon Gekko vibe was constantly at odds with his laidback parents. This is not to say that they were still hippies. On the contrary, they ran a successful and happy household. They weren't hitting the bong or dumpster-diving to feed their children but they weren't managing hedge funds or lusting after Japanese stereo systems either.


DAD = OPEN COLLAR, MICHAEL J. FOX = TIE

Sometimes this group gets lost in the shuffle. Maybe they all eventually succumbed to yuppie-values. Can you think of a living specimen in your own life?

I think I can, but it's hard to be sure. Having met lots of middle-aged people in my day, I think I can safely make a distinction between the different kinds of households - therapists, academics, people with media-related jobs tend to have earthier households whereas bankers and lawyers tend to have more glistening formica in the kitchen. Is this fair to say? After all, they're all sipping on soy milk from Whole Foods...

Hmmmm, maybe the post-hippie domesticity vibe is more pervasive than I first thought. Have you ever met a total middle-aged hippie? Still driving the VW bus, still wearing tie-dye, probably doesn't have any kids, never got a "real" job. Try to imagine one...

Now imagine the most tight-ass, corporate dad you've ever met. He wouldn't even wear sandals on the weekends. He's kind of racist. He listens to CD 101.9 and may not know who Jerry Garcia is.

OK, now imagine the adult/parent in between these two extremes: it's most of them!



VIBE PATROL:

All that Carnaby Street/Swinging 60's/If yer going ta San Francsico stuff is very youth-oriented. Live in the now! Do drugs! Free love! All of these values are at odds with the traditional notion of a family...

Does the cultural shift from wild and crazy hippie to post-hippie domestic parallel the musical shift from late 60's psych rock to the singer-songwriter movment?

Well, it would take a lot of time to sufficiently look into that. However, I can say that a lot of my post-hippie domestic musical touchstones involve singer-songwriters:



-Cat Stevens - He's always singing about children and stuff. This song has always been special to me. Mostly because Cat Stevens drops some seriously twisted grammar in the chorus:

"Give me all the love you've got...to me."

I've tried to put myself in Cat's shoes and imagine what he was thinking when he wrote that line. I guess the "to me" at the end is for emphasis, but c'mon! It does not work! Whatever, this is still a goddamn gem of a song! All about the pleasures of post-hippie domesticity - washing dogs, shifting logs, etc.

Cat Stevens - C'mon Baby (Shift that Log)


NOTE THE DOG!

- The mother of all post-hippie domesticity songs is "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. This probably should have been the theme song for "Family Ties". This song immediately conjures images of a crunchy, earthy, deep brown wooden dining table kind of family.

I remember two summers ago I was subletting a Columbia professor's apartment with some buddies. For some reason, I was jonesin' really badly to hear "Our House". I was bumming because the internet wasn't working but then I went over to his relatively small record collection and found Deja Vu. Everyone that age has this album!

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - Our House

Can you imagine a hit song about the pleasures of home life today???

OTHER VIBE ELEMENTS:

-70's Cookbooks
I'm not sure if my parents ever used any recipes from these, but the aesthetics of their 70's cookbooks really left an imprint on my mind.

The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two by Anna Thomas emanates some seriously post-hippie domestic vibrations; from the colors to the fonts.



The Moosewood Cookbook also has that earthy yet clean vibe.



- We could probably also throw "This Old House" into the mix; sensitive craftsmen working hard for the sake of domestic life.





Conclusionz:

As I said before, it would take a novel to fully explore this vibe. Let me know if you can think of other vibe elements from your own life or from the collective consciousness of AMERICA.

-The parents in "the Squid and the Whale" represent the post-hippie domestic vibe gone wrong! They are selfish and bitter. However, they retain enough of the vibe to raise some smart, sensitive kids.

- Remember my post about that lame issue of Vice? Well in that very-same issue, they interview Michael Gross aka THE DAD FROM FAMILY TIES. In the interview they call his character from the show a "boomer pussy".

Later in the issue, the "Vice Staff" writes:
Everything about this generation comes back to what Paul Begalacalled “the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation in American history.” They are the "Me Generation”...

What a load of horse-shit! Sensitive, intellectual parents (aka post-hippie domestics) like the Keatons are not self-obsessed. The children of such parents who, in an effort to rebel against the positivity they grew up with, turn into rampant haterz are the "ME GENERATION".



FINAL THOUGHT:

Can post-hippie domesticity make a come back? I'm a little too young to have any married-with-kidz peers, but I can imagine some play-your-love-songs-all-night-long households springing up in the next 10 or so years.

Here's some hope from the NYTIMES:

Dr. Pennebaker, the University of Texas psychologist, has shown from an analysis of writing samples from 3,000 people taken at various ages that even the number of positive words people use rises significantly over time. The rate at which people refer to themselves, a measure of rumination or self-absorption, falls off dramatically.

People become more positive and less all-about-me as they grow older!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

chilling with the ORANGEMEN

Yo, I'm "BLOGGING" from Syracuse, NY where I'm visiting the famous Wes Man of Tennisman's Wharf fame. He's pretty cool in person although I didn't think he would like apples so much...JK, we go way back...

Some fun facts about Syracuse:

-Robocop is a professor here.
-The house from the Addams Family movies is here.
-It is very hilly, some might say the San Francisco of Upstate New York.

Peep this scary website:

Occult Reading

Friday, November 04, 2005

LAFFY TAFFY

SO BUSY RIGHT NOW, BUT PLEASE ENJOY THIS OFFERING FROM MY TRICK-OR-TREAING BACK:

A TASTE OF LAFFY TAFFY

D4L - Shake That Laffy Taffy



This song is Halloween-y for many reasons:

-First, it's all about candy. Although, I heard it might not REALLY be about candy. My question: if "laffy taffy" is supposed to represent a "sexy" body part what part is it? Normally, when you tell a girl to shake something it's her ass. Maybe "laffy taffy" is about long, taffy-ish labia?? I'm not trying to gross anyone out. That's just the first thing I thought of.

-Second, the production is eerie as hell! It evokes vibe memories of i-don't-even-know-what. Maybe some really scary level in an NES game?????




Yo, while I'm at it I might as well post the all-time eeriest NES track. The theme from Friday the 13th...The Game!

Friday the 13th Theme

This game sucked, but I think that made it even scarier.




Shout out to Camp Nobebosco - 11 Sand Pond Road, Blairstown, New Jersey, USA where the first Friday the 13th was filmed.