Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Can Has Musics: Office Naps

Yeah, yeah, I know this is exactly a week late. My bad. Worth the wait, though...

Thanks to Booooooooof for recommending this gem. Office Naps promises "Fresh 45 rpm curios every Monday," but that tagline should have been modified when blogmaster DJ Little Danny went back to school at the beginning of this year, as he updates far less frequently now. However, even with less quantity, he's got quality by the crate load. And his academic pursuits - graduate study in audio archives and preservation - clearly ties in with the consuming passions of Office Naps.

DJ Little Danny says, "Thinking about music's place in the context of American post-War history is a big thing for me. I wanted to freely elaborate [ooh, split infinitive!] on music and, moreover, I wanted to do so online, where much discussion about records is either acutely anti-intellectual or mired in hopelessly cutesy collector talk."

Danny's discussion is fiercely anti-anti-intellectual and uncutesy. As a complete sucker for serious consideration of pop culture 'ephemera', this blog is right up my alley. Essays on various aspects of generic, geographic, thematic, etc, history are accompanied by three-song playlists illustrating the main points.

Everything on here sounds great and is accompanied by some fantastic essays, so check out all of it. Here's what I played on the show last week:

Del-Rays, "Night Prowl", from "Booker T. and Beyond"
Tony Martinez and His Mambo Combo, " Pharaoh's Curse", movie music from "Vibraphones, flutes and California Latin jazz"
Eden 'Nature Boy' Ahbez, "Tobago", from "The sea" (truly fascinating back story!)
The Other Four, "Once and For All Girl", from "12-strung"

PS. Booof recommends the sitar pop posts here and here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Politics, again

So it would appear that TV3 are playing right into Clark and Key's hands - playing the commercial considerations card, they've cancelled their leaders debate, and will likely schedule a head-to-head instead. Commercial imperatives or no, that's exactly the opposite of what they should have done - what C & K deserve is to be told, "That's just fine - you don't have to appear with the other leaders if you don't want to. I'm sure they'll all appreciate the extra time to talk. Just don't expect us to roll over and give you the cosy twosome you are demanding." It would be beautiful to see them come crawling back when they realise that such bully tactics are not acceptable. Ooh, it makes me so mad...

On the local politics front, I'm still not sure how I feel about the Awatea St stadium. Having absolutely zero interest in sports makes it hard for me to care about supporting it, but that's not necessarily great reason to take a position on it. If I was going to take a stand as a stadium opponent though, Peter Entwisle's Art Beat column in yesterday's ODT would be mighty fine ammunition - it is one of the more intelligent, wide-ranging, evidence-backed critiques I've seen in the pages of that august institution (or anywhere else for that matter), and it takes into account the aesthetics of the proposed design, something I don't recall being discussed much elsewhere. If we are going to have a shiny new showpiece stadium, it would be nice if it could be an architectural treasure.

And in international politics, the US veep debate on Friday is going to be great entertainment. I've loved the trainwreck fascination Palin has been providing with her interviews, so she should be good value. Biden, on the other hand, has faded into the background in the media coverage we get here, so it'll be a good opportunity to get a feel for him. They are both gaffe-prone, it would seem - surely there's some kind of drinking game to be played here?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The King and Queen have decreed...

I just saw on the news that Helen Clark and John Key have teamed up to decline appearing with other party leaders in the traditional Leaders Debates on TVNZ and TV3. They have agreed to only appear in head-to-head debates, with the logic that they are the only two possible people who will be our Prime Minister after the election. I'm not one to swear, but I am seriously fucking pissed off by this arrogant decision. Despite the way the major parties and the increasingly personality-driven media try to frame it, our election is not a presidential race. Nobody will be voting for Clark or Key except the people who choose to do so in their respective electorates. It's certainly not at all likely, but any other party could potentially get enough of the party vote to score their leader the top job.

In MMP it's the party vote that determines the composition of Parliament. At the Leaders Debates, said leaders are there as representatives of their party, to convince you to give your vote to their team (and not them personally). All the parties should be prepared to discuss all the issues, not just those prioritised by the major parties - who, after all, fit increasingly closer together on the political spectrum. Each party should get an equal shot; not a showcase for the big boys and a sideshow for everyone else (this is of course problematic, as we won't see the Kiwi Party, ALCP, Democrats for Social Credit, etc, lining up alongside either way; and TV3 had to be forced to allow the Progressives and United Future into the debate in 2005).

We already know National would like to trample all over MMP, but they haven't had their referendum yet. Labour's complicity is even more aggravating, given their supposedly egalitarian values and also their reliance on the support of valuable minor party partners, particularly during their last term.

The perception that the choice is simply between Labour and National - apparent in the rhetoric of politicians, framing in the media, and polls consistently showing the minor parties currently in Parliament struggling to break the magic five percent threshold - is frustrating. Given the circles I tend to run in, many people seem to believe that a vote for anyone but Labour is essentially a vote for National. But there are other parties they can vote for that are essentially a vote for a Labour-led coalition; and there are equivalent parties for National.

I gather that support for minor parties tends to increase as we approach an election, but arrogant moves like this jawdropper from Labour and National certainly don't help us shake the FPP mentality.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

And now for a 'jebus, kids are cute' chaser

From Overheard in New York:

Then Go With My Blessing, Caped Crusader

Mother of four-year-old boy (looking at display case): Wait up for me, Jack. Don't go on the escalator without me.
Four-year-old boy: It's okay, I can do it.
Mother of four-year-old: No, Jack. Wait for me.
Four-year-old boy: It's okay, mom. I can go up by myself.
Mother of four-year-old: Jack. Don't go up without me.
Four-year-old boy: Mom. It's okay. I can do it. I'm wearing my lucky Batman underwear.

- Overheard in Macy's

I know you all care passionately about American politics

So, we've finally got a date for our general election here in Aotearoa - so it looks like you've got a date on November 8. Don't miss it! And if you're not enrolled yet to vote, then why the hell not? Go to elections.org.nz to enrol, and for lots of other helpful and fascinating information.

And now to return to the title of this post, I just wanted to point out this article from the Business section of the New York Times:

In "Economic View: Would Obama’s Plan Be Faster, Fairer, Stronger?", Alan S. Blinder outlines the thesis behind Unequal Democracy, a new book by Larry M. Bartels, professor of political science at Princeton.

According to Blinder's article, the guts of Bartels' book is that "the two Great Partisan Divides combine to suggest that, if history is a guide, an Obama victory in November would lead to faster economic growth with less inequality, while a McCain victory would lead to slower economic growth with more inequality."

Simple, really..?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Can Has Musics: Flea Market Funk

*If you do nothing else, skip to the bottom of this post to nab the amazing Marsha Hunt track*

Flea Market Funk (tagline: "FUNK SOUL JAZZ REGGAE") provides the scratchy 45 awesomeness that can only be found through the most thorough digging of crates (well, and some Kool & the Gang). Not being a particular audiophile myself, I love it that so many people of impeccable taste (and more patience for flipping through bloody great stacks of records than me) are ripping old 45s and LPs for teh benefit of teh denizens of teh tubes.

And DJ Prestige certainly does a thorough job of it, with posts covering the artists and labels behind his chosen tracks, descriptions of just why he thinks the tracks are so damn awesome, and anecdotes about how he came to acquire the records or decided to post about them. Here's a representative example: his post on Jean Austin & the Choir's "Straight 'Em" (dig that 'fro!).

Unfortunately, the file-sharing service DJ Prestige uses is quite temperamental, with restrictions on downloads set by intricate formulas involving the time the tracks have been available and the number of downloads they've had. I think this is why I couldn't download the most recently-posted track, Chick Willis' "Mother Fuyer", even though all the other tracks I tried were available, and it had had less downloads than most. I'll keep an eye out though, 'cos I understand it'll unlock eventually and the description sure sounds tantalising. And that album cover, oh that album cover (see above).

Anyhoo, of the tracks that were available, I played:

Jean Austin & the Choir - Straight 'Em (great gospel)
Kool & the Gang - Funky Granny ("weaves a tale of a hot pant wearing Grandma")

and one of the bonus tracks you can access by following the download link to "Funky Granny" (Easter egg!). Download this one right now, it's absolutely fantastic:

Marsha Hunt - (Oh No! Not) The Beast Day (srsly, right now)

Finally, DJ Prestige has a whole swag of mixes and live sets available for your downloading pleasure. Go nuts!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Daily dose of Awesome!

This is a few days old now, but if you haven't yet seen it you really should. Over and over again.

Sometimes I get a little sick of Jon Stewart's smugness, but sometimes he hits one of the park - often by letting the douchebags speak for themselves, as in the following example:

Despite being part of the evil evil Viacom family, The Daily Show has a pretty great setup on the web. Full shows, up pretty much immediately. Top job!

PS. This one's pretty great, too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My random gift to you

I had to put this track online for another reason, but I thought I'd share it here as well.

I discovered Eric "Monty" Morris' great track "Enna Bella" through the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes. I tracked down the CD for the Skatalites track that plays over the "No Problem" scene with Alex Descas and Isaach de Bankolé, but as you would expect with a Jarmusch soundtrack, there's plenty of other gems in there.

Including this track from ol' Monty - teh internets knows very little about him, except that he's been around since the birth of ska and is still touring as of quite recently. What I do know is that this song makes me happy.

Eric 'Monty' Morris - Enna Bella

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The transvestite Lego army is coming - and it's mad as hell!

In a serious dose of WTF?, The Bloggess got sent a promotional box of random Lego body parts. As she put them together, she discovered that, despite containing pretty pink floral torsos and legs and jaunty ponytail hairpieces, all the faces were of the "angry mustashioed man" persuasion.

Lego sez, “Each kit was supposed to contain an assortment of random parts; however, it looks like yours somehow consisted only of angry mustache faces. Please know that this was not at all done intentionally or to freak anyone out in any way.”

Who's freaked out? This is the first time I've wanted a particular Lego playset since I was twelve!

I Can Has Musics: Pinglewood.com

This week's featured blog was a recommendation from sneaky ol' Luci. Pinglewood.com is light on background info, heavy on stacks of fresh tunes, vids, etc. A wide range of genres is covered, and it's still alty enough for Luci's demanding standards.

Check out a fantastic video for Fiasco's "Oh You Horny Monster".

And download tracks from Japan's Avalon, Young Jeezy (he's Michael Phelps' favourite rapper, doncha know?) as well as the original Billy Paul track he's working from, and - my pick of their recent posts - fantastic weirdness from Volcano!. For my money, that last one is probably the only real keeper from the tracks I downloaded, but Pinglewood has enough variety you're sure to find something to your own taste.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

After the Massacre

So, the Brian Jonestown Massacre played their first-ever NZ gig at the Backstage last night, and it was an amazing night of really, really happy wasted people and some first-class psychedelic droney freakoutery. Absolutely no complaints there.

The whole mythology surrounding the BJM makes for an interesting experience. As someone who has never really listened to or otherwise followed the band (heck, I haven't even seen DIG!) and - despite my best efforts - as someone who was pretty much stone-cold sober for the entire concert, I felt like a detached observer of this intriguing phenomenon. The audience were clearly there expecting an amazing show - which was delivered in spades - but a big proportion of them also expected to see the fireworks the band are known for. There wasn't much of that at all, and as far as I was concerned that was a good thing, but for some the night wasn't really complete without Anton Newcombe throwing some kind of hissy fit. There was some light heckling of one crowd member, and you could tell that that piqued the audience's expectations before not really going anywhere. The band put on an amazing show, playing for a couple of hours before going out on an epic tide of drone and feedback. Then they put on The Thirteenth Floor Elevators over the soundsystem, which topped of the night wonderfully for me, even if I seemed to be the only one still grooving around on the d-floor to "You're Gonna Miss Me."

The most surreal moment of the night, and the real point of this post, was chatting to some guy (I think he may have been a member of my party at some point earlier in the evening, but I'm not entirely sure) about the show. He was raving on about how amazing the show was, but also about what bastards the band were for getting fucked off at the audience, giving up on the gig, and storming off early. This was not what happened at all - as I said, they played a totally-committed, really long show before going out on a perfect wall of sonic overload - but this was clearly the BJM show this guy had been expecting to see, and so that's what he did see. Now he shall forever have the memory of going to one of those BJM gigs, and therefore feels a part of that whole mythology surrounding the band. I tried to point out that they played a really long, really epic set that we should all be very grateful for, but beyond that I didn't push it - he had had the experience he wanted, and who am I to argue? And that's not a phrase you'll hear me use very often...