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It seems incredible to me that when President Clinton left office there was a $23 billion budget surplus, and that it took Robotic Lord Cheney and his unregulated ilk only eight years to completely destroy the U.S. economy. The coming worldwide financial apocalypse has made me fretful, so I’ve been reading a lot more news lately. One thing I see the liberal writers saying over and over is, “Americans aren’t stupid.” I can’t believe that the pointy-heads who say that have ever been to America because, if they had, they’d realize that lots of Americans are, indeed, stupid. Deeply stupid. Not only are they stupid, but they are personally offended by anyone who’s smart. The teacher asks a question. You answer the question correctly. “You think you’re so smart!” hisses the stupid American kid sitting next to you in class. If you’re really smart, you’ll soon realize the only way to get along is to play dumb. If only 10% of Americans are stupid, that’s still millions and millions of people, or “voters” as our politicians like to call them.
This reminds me of Senator Roman Hruska, “the Noblest Roman,” Republican Senator-for-Life from Nebraska. I met Senator Hruska once when I was a girl. He was portly and polite, and seemed like a nice old farmer in his short-sleeved plaid farmer shirt. Afterwards my friend who’d introduced us told me a secret: The shirt was made of pure silk, a fabric especially woven to Senator Hruska’s specifications, in Italy. Senator Hruska knew who his constituents were.
Senator Hruska may be best remembered—if he’s remembered at all— for something he said during the Senate confirmation hearings for G. Harrold Carswell, nominated for the U. S. Supreme Court by President Nixon although absolutely nobody thought Carswell was a particularly good judge. "Even if he is mediocre," Senator Hruska said, "there are a lot of mediocre judges and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and Frankfurters, and stuff like that there.”
Now we are faced with another candidate of the people. Perhaps you think I mean Miss Teen South Carolina:
Q. “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"
A. "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some ... people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, ah, education like such as in South Africa, and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for."
No, I do not. I mean Miss Alaska, First Runner-Up:
Q. “ You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?”
A: “That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. …Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia-- … We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his ugly head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state.”
But do not the many millions of stupid Americans deserve representation, too?
Stop by WFMU's tent at the Atlantic Antic street fair this Sunday, Oct 5 (10am-6pm) in Brooklyn. Your favorite freeform station will be parked between Clinton and Henry Streets on Atlantic Avenue (close to the corner of Henry), where we'll be hawking swag, exchanging high-fives with listeners, gorging on fried food, and stocking up on tubesocks. Swing by and say hi!
Photo by food_in_mouth
Mike Lupica is resurrecting his glorious Anti Static podcast during this crucial time, when we Americans are desperately in need of some light at the end of this tunnel we've burrowed ourselves into.
Remember mail order? Remember 'zines? Remember economic prosperity? Remember when mall graffiti and a New Bomb Turks t-shirt actually meant something?
Here's the second installment of DO or DIY's end-of-summer audio sendoff, lap it up and enjoy, courtesy of People Like Us. If you missed last week's glorious handout, you can pick up the first album-sized volume of avant retard right here. And now... Volume 2:
Zip file (everything: MP3s, cover art jpgs, tracklist)
This might come as a surprise to the flag-pin-on-the-lapel-politicos circling the chicken coop, but our government doesn't actually want us to vote. Millions are being spent on campaign posters, make-up artists and speech writers, yet our government makes it rather hard to actually register to vote. Only Wyoming and Idaho allow walk in registration the day of a general election. The rest of us 48s can check here to see when deadline registration is, and where to do it. A memo sent around this August reminded US Post Offices not to display or distribute absentee ballot forms, as they are seen as election related paraphernalia. A spokeswoman for the USPS explained that they "believe that encouraging people to register to vote is different from encouraging people to vote..." The stocking of voter registration forms is optional.
Surprisingly, all it took was an article in last week's Shelter Island Newspaper to prompt a reverse of absentee ballot policy. A few phone calls later everything was smoothed over and absentee ballots were available nationwide. Perhaps the Shelter Island Reporter needs to temporarily suspend service and shuttle down to DC to help with a much larger absentee bank account issue.
One of my current favorite CDs is the incredible compilation The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru, released last year on Barbes Records. I can't recommend it strongly enough, and you should really go out and buy it immediately, if you have not done so already.
Searching for more Chicha to satisfy my craving for irresistible good-times music, I recently found another compilation in a dark and dusty corner of the Internet. Called Chicha For The Jet Set, compiled by DJ Sonido Martines from Buenos Aires, it is apparently all ripped from vinyl 45rpm singles, and not available commercially (or on the blogosphere, for that matter). So here it is for free download, sure to cheer you up and get you dancing:
Amor Indio - Amor Indio | Los Esplendidos - Muchacha Provinciana | Los Clabeles de Pucallpa - Lamento del Maderero | Conjunto Génesis - Mi linda Haydee | Los Henry´s - Cumbia del Amor | Los Escorpiones - Los Sentimientos | Los Mirlos - La danza de los mirlos | Los Yabar Juniors - Marionetas | Grupo Rosado - El super corcho | Grupo Samoa - La Chinchilla | Amor Indio - Ave pa´ve | Manolo Avalos y su Conjunto Tropical - Cumbia la Cachaca | Mario Cavagnaro y Su Sonora Sensación - San Lázaro | Los Escorpiones - Igual me da | Manzanita - Serrano con orgullo | Los Iguales - Saca chaca | Los Mirlos - Lamento en la selva | Manzanita - Un sabado por la noche | Amor Indio - Chivato Bailarin | Los Iguales - El sonido de los mirlos
If you want more cumbias, check out DJ/Rupture's Mudd Up! show archives on WFMU. In fact, Sonido Martines dropped in twice in 2007 to answer questions and spin some music, on July 18 and on August 29. Listen to the archives and find out what the cumbia rebajada craze is all about. (My theory is cough syrup, but Sonido claims it has to do with bad batteries in Mexican sound systems.)
Hopefully, Kliph won't mind if I hop on his Red Sovine bandwagon and post a couple of MP3's that will add a little extra context to his post from earlier today. The post discusses the hilarious feedback he received from a trio of sisters who sang with Red back in the early 1970's. Several years ago, I went on a major bender and bought all the Red Sovine 45's I encountered. As a result, I have one of the records Red and the girls cut lying around. I figured I'd go ahead and post the songs so you'll have something to listen to while you read the comments left by Red's former singing partners. I note that the girls all indicate their birth surname was Worden and D. L. Worden (the girls' father, I assume) is named as one of the producers on the actual 45, so if they're impostors, at least they've done a little homework!
Red Sovine - Red's So Fine (2:04) MP3
Red Sovine - Can I Keep Him Daddy (2:53) MP3
One of the great things about the internet is that it often puts you in contact with people you never thought you'd ever track down, make contact with, or even knew existed. It can make abstract figures concrete. A post about Jerry Colonna brought comments from his son, an article about Don Adams welcomed input from his son-in-law and a video featuring Mad Magazine publisher William M. Gaines brought comments from Mad's most senior writer and Bill Gaines' daughter.
Well, this week a small, dormant thing I wrote about legendary truck driving music singer/talker Red Sovine over a year and half ago brought on a fascinating and heated discussion in the comments section from some people that were mentioned in one innocuous paragraph. The paragraph in question went like this:
"In 1974 the LP It'll Come Back by Red Sovine and The Girls was released. The Girls, as featured on the cover, were terrifying blonde haired triplets, around eight years old, dressed in nightgowns, crawling all over their uncle Red. The unnerving images on the record sleeve conjure up the notion of what The Shining would've been like had it taken place not in a lavish hotel, but at a filthy truck stop instead. The Girls do not just creep us out on the cover, however, but also join in on several songs. The strangest track is probably Red's So Fine (HA! Get it!?), in which the horror movie triplets sing about how "fine" their uncle is. Sovine seemed to have a slightly morbid fascination with odd afflictions. Other than utilizing young shrill blonde haired triplets, Sovine sang/talked tunes about dead truckers, blind truckers, blind children, paralyzed children, and suicidal depressives."
The comments that appeared this week started off interesting enough - and then transcended into an oddly esoteric debate between siblings. The comments appeared as follows:
OMG! What you wrote about 'Red Sovine and the Girls' just cracked me up, However, you are not correct... Funny but incorrect. How do I know this? I AM ONE OF THE 'GIRLS'! On the album cover, I am the 3rd 'girl' poised on Red's left.
Pentecostal "mouthpiece of God" from Plano, Texas, Doyle Davidson. Right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, isn't he?
This gentle and unassuming ol' boy triumphantly screams from the rooftops how much he loves his new wife, warmly offers kudos to a member of his congregation for that nice e-mail he sent and offers neighborly assistance to a younger congregant who looks as though he's getting ready to puke all over himself. "The Devil and Doyle Davidson"? Folks, the Devil is Doyle Davidson.
Sarah Silverman - the somewhat overexposed but still incredibly funny and potty mouthed comedienne - knows how to make sure this year's election doesn't get all f-ed up again: tell your grandparents how to vote! (or even threaten them if need be)
Beware of blue language (and repetitive music bed).
Another Rodium Swap Meet Mix Tape for the ears.
The Mix Machine is a weekly dive into classic hip hop, freestyle, disco and dance mixes. MP3s encoded at 320k from source with no processing. Embrace the tape hiss and record crackle.
It's no shock to anyone if I observe that radio is becoming increasingly homogenized and boring. I'm sure this is one reason why you and I both find the truly anomalous WFMU so refreshing. I recently became aware of another very cool outlier, Radio Apartment 22, an internet radio station based in Rabat, Morocco. Established last year and run entirely by three dedicated staffers, the station serves largely as an outlet for international artists, documenting various art events through streaming audio and showcasing selected musical works. Recently, the station provided excellent coverage of South Korea's Gwangju Biennale, including interviews with curators and artists as well as recordings of musical performances. I was fortunate enough to attend the Biennale (read my article here), where I had the opportunity to speak with R22 staff.
Unique not just in comparison with blander internet radio stations, Radio Apartment 22 also serves an important local function; it is the only fine art oriented media organization in Morocco. The project began in 2002 when Abdellah Karroum founded Apartment 22, one of the first fine art spaces in the area. Initially he found little support from local artists or the government. "There's not really a forum right now in Morocco for speaking about arts and culture in an in depth way, " said Emma Chubb, R22's Programming Coordinator. "They've been building an art museum for years and years but it seems like it will never be finished" Despite this, R22 proudly bears the mark of its locale - the station broadcasts in English, French, Arabic and Berber, among other languages. For me, this is one of the more charming qualities of the station, a rare preference of local personality over what's become the near universal language of media: American. On a personal note, I'm very relieved sometimes to be an expat...
Over the past five years, the station has found increasing support. "For a long time, I did everything myself. After about three years, people started to become interested because I was working with young, international artists, doing workshops and not really worrying about what the government wanted me to do, " said Karroum. Last year, R22 was able to expand from art space to internet radio station. Further expansion is planned as well; In October, R22 will provide video coverage of the Brussels Biennale. As an internet TV station, R22 hopes to document workshops and art events of this kind and possibly include creative work by video artists. What was once a small gallery in a loft is quickly turning into a fully fledged source of international fine art. Thanks to Abdellah and Emma for taking the time to speak with me and James for setting me up. Pictured from left to right are Pascal (R22's engineer/producer), Emma and Abdellah. Photos by Robert Johnson
"We had a resident who had an outstanding balance for over a month and no one could get ahold of her. The Bookkeeper went inside after so many tries to leave a note and this is what we found..."
WFMU's month-long collaboration with ISSUE Project Room comes to its electrifying conclusion this Friday and Saturday with events curated by DJs Fabio of Strength Through Failure, and Trouble of This is The Modern World. ISSUE Project Room is located on the 3rd floor of the Old American Can Factory: 232 3rd Street at 3rd ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215 [directions]. Shows open at 8pm, $10 at the door.
Friday Sept 26th, curated by Fabio:
MICHAEL EVANS/KEN MONTGOMERY DUO: Michael Evans is an improvising drummer, percussionist, thereminist and composer whose work investigates and embraces the collision of sound and theatrics. He has performed with a wide range of musical talents throughout the world, including Jac Berrocal, EasSide Percussion, Fast Forward(Gobo), God is my Co-Pilot, Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten), Gordon Monahan, Joe Morris, Evan Parker, William Parker, and the KBZ 2000.
Ken Montgomery is a New York-based visual artist and "noisician" whose involvement in the cassette-culture and mail-art movements of the late seventies led to the creation, in 1989, of the first and arguably still the most important sound art gallery in New York City: Generator. As a composer, by the early eighties Ken was creating multi-channel sound works often performed in total darkness. More recently Ken has been focusing on visual art, collage, bookmaking, and international correspondence art. As The Minister of Lamination (a.k.a. Egnekn) he is the world's foremost practitioner of Lamination Art.
LARY SEVEN - Since the late seventies, Lary has been building, soldering, photographing, recording, mixing, filming, playing, collecting, re-interpreting and creating in order to make something happen. He's the founder of the Analogue Society and co-founder of Plastikville Records and Directart Productions Ltd. Lary has released work on Touch, Diskono, Ectoplasm, Plastikville and Plastiktray records. For this presentation, Lary Seven will have an extended and undefined interaction with a film projector. [website]
KENTA NAGAI works with acoustic and electronic sound, visual media and live performance. As a performer on the Shamisen, Nagai has appeared in numerous concerts at venues as diverse as the Sculpture Center in Long Island City and Carnegie Hall. He was composer-in-residence at The Cave Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn from 1999 until 2002. In addition to his work as a guitarist, Nagai is involved in creating multi-media, interactive performance and installations. [myspace]
Saturday Sept 27th, curated by Trouble:
LIGHTS make haunting enchant-folk with three harmonized female vocals. Take a listen "At Midnight" and "Branches Low" (real audio). They'll be bringing their own light show to this Lights show. [myspace]
TEETH MOUNTAIN, from Baltimore, sports 4 drummers playing floor toms and one communal cymbal, distorted cello, singing saw, and electronics. "teeth mountain reminds me of tony conrad w/ faust if they tasted statan's metal!...statan = satan" - comment by North Guinea Hills on Diane Kamikaze's playlist. Download: Teeth Mountain - Keinsein and Teeth Mountain - Black Jerusalem and from their s/t on Shdwply (LP) / Nail in the Coffin (CD) (mp3s shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license) [myspace]
In 1957, stereo equipment first became available for home use. Audio Fidelity records is credited as the first manufacturer of two-channel stereo discs in the United States, and this record represents their first take on creating a catalog demo. Chronologically, this should be contemporary to the undated ABC's of High Fidelity.
As pioneers of stereo recording, Audio Fidelity were the first to bring Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, and Sergio Mendes to home stereo. They were also pioneers of stereo sound effects, thanks to the work of engineer and Audio Fidelity founder Sidney Frey. This Time Magazine article details how far he'd go to get a sound, and you'll find that lion roar, along with other Bronx Zoo snippets, on this recording.
These albums were intended for in-store use to show off the channel separation and three-dimensional quality of stereo equipment. Because Audio Fidelity got a head start on releasing stereo discs, their albums were routinely used for demonstrations, which helped to sell their stereo albums as well. Within a year, Warner Brothers, Capitol and Decca would catch on, producing their own demonstration albums and following the same template, with a mix of narrative, music and sound effects on side one and those record-selling catalog cuts on side two.
The album cover is not quite work-safe, depending on how you (or your coworkers) feel about pasties. By 1950s standards it's downright risque. The image you see is the record in its sleeve, an unusual printed polyetheylene bag.
As Congress debates the finishing touches of the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, it's worth revisiting another bold action taken by our federal government on this date, September 24, half a century ago. While intervention by the feds 2008-style looks to be a big fat mulligan for Wall Street hustlers, back in 1957 the feds came down in a big way on the side of a very different group of American citizens.
The event in question took place in Little Rock, Arkansas, where that state's segregationist governor, Orval Faubus, was refusing to allow "negro" students to integrate that city's Central High School in compliance with the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Ed. Beginning in early September, Faubus began playing a game of chicken with the Justice Department in Washington, hinting that he might admit the black children while stoking the venom of the growing white crowds surrounding the school. On September 24, President Eisenhower called Faubus' bluff, federalizing the Arkansas National Guard and sending them, along with the 101st Airborne, to escort the students to class. (Astonishingly, Faubus moderated his views so much over time, that by 1984, he had publicly endorsed Jesse Jackson for president!)
There has been much written about the crisis at Central High in 1957 and the fate of the Little Rock Nine, the students who ultimately integrated the school, but possibly the most significant commemoration of this key moment in the Civil Rights Movement came from jazz bassist Charles Mingus, who recorded "Fables of Faubus" less than two years later for his album Mingus Ah Um. Columbia Records, Mingus' label, refused to let the musicians perform the tune with the accompanying spoken lyrics, so, a year later, Mingus released his own version, "Original Faubus Fables," on the progressive Candid label, with the incendiary vocals included. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
While we're on the subject of music and school desegregation:
Check out this disturbing pro-segregation tune, The School Bus, recorded in the 1970s by T. Tommy Cutrer. (Curiously, Cutrer was a longtime announcer for the Grand Ole Opry who went on to be elected to the Tennessee state senate, and would later lose a congressional election to a young Albert Gore Jr.).