Monday, January 31, 2005

Getting lost in the Pacific Drift

There's an exciting new locally-produced public radio show in the LA area (about the LA area). It's being
produced by Ben Adair, a recent aquaintance of mine. He used to produce one
of my favorite NPR shows - The Savvy Traveller.

Pacific Drift, 9pm Sunday Evenings, 98.3 KPCC
Using the lenses of art, culture, and documentary to explore issues specific to Southern California, Pacific Drift focuses on untouched artistic resources in and around the region- both established and emerging artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers and performers. Pacific Drift also features documentaries about life in Southern California. Read more about Pacific Drift
(from their webpage:

You can catch the archived show at the URL above.

The first show features urban explorers, a Twentynine Palms preservation story and to the possible links between nannotechnology and yoga.

The show reminds me a bit of Chicago public radio's "8:48" show.

A Hero of a Democracy Hangin' On

Judge Joyce Hens Green, who ruled Bush's "indefinate hold"
policy in Gitmo and God knows where else unconstitutional
bunk. We need more brave people like this in public service.

link's are down - f'n macs and blogger don't mix...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Best of 2004

I won't keep the world waiting any longer:
There's no order in any of these.
And I'm sorry for cheating, but there's
lots of good choons.

Top 10 LPs
Troubleman - Time Out of Mind
DKD - Future Rage
Plantlife - The Adventures of Jack Black
New Sector Movements - Turn It Up
Kanye West - College Dropout
(tie) Dwight Trible and Build an Ark
(tie) De La Soul - The Grind Date and Ghostface "Pretty Toney Album"
Lizz Fields - By Day By Night
Omar Sosa - Mulatos
Zap Mama - Ancestry in Progress

Top 10 Compilations
VA - Bugz in the Attic remix LP
VA - Rewind Vol 3 and 4 (Ubiquity)
VA - New York Soul/California Soul/Philly Soul 2 comps (Harmless)
VA - Gilles Peterson in Brazil
VA - Dj Niuts - Cultura
VA - Kon and Amir - The Cleaning
VA - The Blue Note Project (Blue Note)
VA - Secret Love (Jazzanova picks some of their favorite nu folk flavors)
VA - MPS Jazzy Reworks

Best hip-hop LPs:
Ghostface - Pretty Tony
Strange Fruit Project - Soul Travellin
Crown City Rockers - Earthtones
De La Soul - The Grind Date
MF Doom - Mmmm Food,
Madvillian - Madvillainy
Foreign Exchange - Connected
Masta Ace - Long Hot Summer
Kanye West - Colege Dropout (plus all his prods.)
Devin tha Dude - 2 tha X-Treme

The 10 dancefloor killers (there's a new sound in Londontown):
Lady Sovereign - Random (Solid Groove mix)
Sunship - Almighty Father
Tubby T - Ready She Ready (Seiji mix
Omar - It's So
Paul Murphy - 'Jazz Room (Spiritual South Remix)' (Afro Art Records)
MIA - Galang
Recloose - Dust
Mr.De' - 'Whonleeone'
Jazzanova Feat. Shaun Escoffery - 'Boom Clicky, Boom Click'
Daz- I-Kue -Blood Fire'

Top 10 Rap Songs
Obie Trice - The Set Up
Fabulous - Breathe
Masta Ace - Good Old Love
TY/Roots Manuva - Oh U Want More (Refix Remix)
Skinnyman - Council State of Mind
Ghostface - Run
The Strange Fruit Project - 'All The Way' (Kajmere)
Q-Tip - Scram Jones (white)
Skillz - 'Take It Back' (Okayplayer)
The Beat Assailant 'Chronic Break' Feat Tash of The Liks

Rap With Singers 10
Lord Finesse - 'Ghetto feat. Rell' (Fatbeats)
Jadakiss f/ Anthony Hamilton - Why + remix
Da Rahnjahz f/ Cee- Lo- Insp-Her-Ation
Medaphoar feat. Erykah Badu "Special"
Mos Def feat Vinia Mojica "Magnificent" (white)
Estelle ("Freedom" f/ T. Kweli may be the best song of the year - that no one heard)
Pete Rock f/ Leela James - No Tears
Kanye f/ GLC & Consequence - Spaceship
Isley Brothers - 'Groove With You' (feat Mos Def) (White)
Mad Skillz - Take it Back - the loop sounded live, ok?

R&B/Soul 10Kelis - Trick Me
Platinum Pied Pipers - Stay with Me/I Got You
Sa Ra - Glorious (ABB Soul)
Troubleman - Roll On
Prince - What You Want Me To Do Now?
Jill Scott "Bedda At Home"
Heavy "Do For You"/"Wonderlove"
Amp Fiddler - 'I Believe In You (Jaylib mix)'
Eric Roberson - 'Couldn't Hear Me'
Ty Tribbett - Mighty Long Way

Best Jazzy Bits
Intuit "Western Sunrise"
Jazztronik - Samurai
Build An Ark - "The Blessing Song"
Sebastian Teller - 'La Ritournelle' (Source)
Sleepwalker f/ Pharoah Sanders - The Voyage
The Five Corners Quintet "Three Corners(Nicola Conte rmx)"
Directions - 'Busted Trees' (Diaspora)
The Black Fairy - 'Black land of the Nile' (White)
Troubleman - 'Toda Hora Feat. Nina Marana'
Linn and Freddie 'Keep On Playing' (Swedish Brandy)

Top 10 Movies
Before Sunset
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Farenheit 9/11
I (heart) Hucklebees
Garden State
Maria Full of Grace
We Don't Live Here Anymore

Fighting "Tyranny" With Censorship

(a lead Middle East story on the BBC, that not one US publication has saw fit to print)

US 'terminates' Iranian website

Iran has accused the US government of ordering an American internet service provider to stop hosting the website of an official Iranian news agency.

The Iranian Student News Agency said no explanation had been given by the server, called The Planet, for its abrupt move to terminate the contract. Isna, which is widely read in Iran, says it has moved to another server, which it did not name.

A Fantasy of Freedom

A fantasy of freedom

If Bush wanted to tackle tyranny, he could start with regimes under US control. But liberty clearly has limits, says Gary Younge.

Monday January 24, 2005
The Guardian

There is one tiny corner of Cuba that will forever America be. It is a place where innocent people are held without charge for years, beyond international law, human decency and the mythical glow of Lady Liberty's torch. It is a place where torture is common, beating is ritual and humiliation is routine. They call it Guantánamo Bay.

Last week the new United States secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, listed Cuba, among others, as "an outpost of tyranny". A few days later President Bush started his second term with a pledge to unleash "the force of freedom" on the entire world. "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world," he said

You would think that if the Americans are truly interested in expanding freedom and ending tyranny in Cuba, let alone the rest of the world, Guantánamo Bay would be as good a place to start as any. But the captives in Guantánamo should not ask for the keys to their leg irons any time soon. Ms Rice was not referring to the outpost of tyranny that her boss created in Cuba, but the rest of the Caribbean island, which lives in a stable mixture of the imperfect and the impressive.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

US Man Imprisoned for Same Crime as 75 Cuban "Dissidents"

Nice one to whoever threw that snowball...

As Bush in his innauguration talks about spreading freedom to dissidents sitting in prison in "outposts of tyranny," I have little doubt Cuba was among the top of targets for such bluster. This comes against the backdrop of US and Western human rights organizations berating Cuba for arresting 75 so-called dissidents nearly 2 eyars ago. What is interesting is that yesterday the US arrested an Iraqi-American for the same crime these 75 were arrested for: taking money from a foreign government to influence foriegn policy.

The Iraqi's crime was the take money from his home country to try to arrange discussions and exchanges between Iraqi and American clergy and policy makers during the 1990s. There is no indication that this Iraqi - Samir Ambrose Vincent - sought to undermine the United States or had any ill-intentions to America at all. The Cubans, on the other hand, were working covertly with enemy intelligence services to actively undermine their own country. Yet the world is silent when the US sentences the man to 28 years and raises a hellish ruckus when Cubans are sentenced to half that time - and more than a dozen of those 75 have already been released.

Again US-Cuba relations are a prime lens to view human rights hypocrisy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

740 Cuban-Americans Held Indefinately in US Jails

On a day when our new top diplomat - Condoleeza Rice - declared Cuba an "outpost of tyranny," the Miami Herlad reports that over 740 Cuban-Americans are being held indefinetely in jails across the US - long after serving their original jail terms and with no possibility for release. They were to be held illegally until they died, until the Supreme Court stepped in last week.

Of course, the US originally based its illegal and immoral blockade and travel ban on the Soviet threat that was said to eminate from Cuba. After the fall of the USSR, we suddenly became concerned about "human rights" in our backyard (not in Colombia or Peru mind you). The most cited Cuban sin is the jailing of so-called dissidents. Amnesty Internaitonal claims there are 2-300 of these on the island, including the 75 mercenaries (paid agents of US/Spanish Government or USG funded organizations) arrested last year.

But now we find out that the largest amount of Cubans in jail illegally are in the United States. More than 740 Cubans who completed their time for mostly petty crimes have been held alongside violent criminals with no idea when they may be released at all.

There are more than 5,000 of these INS "long-term unremovables" - mostly from countries that we don't like and therefore don't have extradition treaties with - Libya, Iraq, Laos, Palestine, etc. International law clearly prohibits arbitrary imprisonment, and the Supreme Court has finally decided this appies to non-citizens in the US as well.

Some stories of US justice that arose after a hostage standoff over prison conditions in Louisiana in 1999 (see picture above):

Cuban man interviewed at the Avoyelles Parish Prison recalled, "One guy got pneumonia. He asked for medical treatment, and they put him in a lockdown cell. He never got medical treatment. He was in the lockdown room for along time. He got skinny, skinny, then they let him go."

Nestor Campos, a Cuban detained at the Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana: "The guards used to tell me, ‘You'll be here until you're dead.'"

Human Rights Watch has specifically condemned the U.S.'s indeterminate sentencing policy, saying it is "clearly prohibited by international law." It also said that "detention becomes arbitrary when detainees, who are not serving a criminal sentence, do not know when they will be released and have no genuine mechanism to challenge the indefinite nature of their detention."

Two international human rights documents prohibit the use of indefinite detention, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which was ratified by the members of the United Nations in 1948. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the United States in 1992, also prohibits the practice.

Oh how I love that Cuba provides so many glimpses into the reality of America.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

US As Defender of Human Rights Discredited

For those paying attention to the US' support of murderous capitalist dictators and creation of death squads across Latin America in the 80's, the US' role as a leading abuser of human rights has been widely known. But leading human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International never seemed to focus at problems at home as much as they should have. The tide seems to be changing as recent reports by HRW and AI shed light on the insiduous of our policies of lawlessness, torture and indefinite detention.

BBC Report: US 'erodes' global human rights
LA Times: Detainee Says U.S. Handed Him Over for Torture

“Governments facing human rights pressure from the United States now find it easy to turn the tables. Washington can’t very well uphold principles that it violates itself.” - Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

This is an important first step for any successful reversal of golbal US hegemony. After basking in its apprent "victory" in the Cold War, the US chose human rights as a vehicle to continue intervening in other countries business. Of course, the application was selective and based solely on US national interests at the time - was more commercial/economic but now shifting towards support of the US "War on Terrorism." To be the world's moral police requires the cleanest of records - something that is unsustainable with the current group in power.

Get Your Jaylib Outtakes

For those wanting more of the Jay-D Madlib collab:
Boom, loads of em in mp3.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

TopTen Movies of 2004 (as selected by Jonathon Rosenbaum)

In music I only trust myself - and Gilles Peterson perhaps.
But in movies I often defer - to friends and to critics.

The one critic that I feel is most in tune with what I want out
of movies is Jonathon Rosenbaum - the Chicago Reader's
main critic - as well as author of great film books such as:
Essential Cinema: On the Necessaity of Film Canons
Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinema
Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films We Can See, 2002
Movies as Politics (University of California Press, 1997);

I like him because he does not let us forget that there are hundreds and thousands of movies each year that even a FT critic like himself can not see - whether unavailable in English, not distributed at all, banned or focus-grouped to death. HE also wants a movie that tells us something about the world we live in, that do not shy away from the contradictions of modern life - and hopefully expose them.

Rosenbaum's top ten list for 2004 (for films that opened in Chicago in 2004) is:
(read the whole thing here in the Reader)

1. The Big Red One: The Reconstruction - Richard Schickel's new version of Samuel Fuller's classic WWII opus.
2. Million Dollar Baby
3. Moolaadé - Sengals' 82-year-old Ousmane Sembene's 2nd part of his woman trilogy
4. Los Angeles Plays Itself - Thom Anderson's brilliant doc on how the movies have influence how we see LA was a great intorduction to the city for me. Also won the Village Voice's recent poll for best documentary.
5. The Exiles - An experimental 1961 documentation of the Bunker Hill section of downtown LA that was home to a largely Native American population before being demolished as "urban renewal." Shown alongside #4 above.
6. The Saddest Music in the World - Guy Maddin's precious comment on American imperialism.
7. Before Sunset - This sequel holds a soft place in my heart as well...
8. Young Adam - Adaption of a 1953 beat novel starring Ewan McGregor (got to find this)
9. Coffee and Cigarettes - Maybe my main disagreement (save the couple outstanding shorts, I thought too many were superflous).
10. Springtime in a Small Town - Tian Zhuangzhuang's remake of a Chinese pre-revolution classic about unconsumated adulturous passion - far more moving than say Closer or We Don't Live Here Anymore.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Chicago Hip-Hop History - A Chronological History

Just came across this magnum opus of a Chicago hip-hop history written by the right man: Kevin Beachem aka AMC aka Formless aka the host of THE best hip-hop radio show this country has even seen (Time Travel on WNUR 89.3)... yeah I said it and meant it.

Time Travel once did a year by year retrospective of hip-hop from 79-99 I think - 20 shows in a row. They did shows on the evolution of sampling, on Canada, on DJ Premier on the beatbox, etc. The man did his homework... those shows should have been saved for the Smithsonian.

Mmmm.... Just reading this brings me back: Props Awards (local hip-hop awards show), Caught in the Middle magazine - one of the best mags ever, Flypaper, Steady Serv's "you go the time," Upski, teh Elbo Room, Dem Dere parties, the Rage hip-hop events phone line, 3rd Rail's Subway hip-hop tapes....

The history is hosted on the Galapagos 4 label's website (big up yourselves)

Black Pundit Paid $240K to Promote Bush Policies

From USA Today's Gregg Toppo:

Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004. (more)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Message of Tsunami Hope from Bluey (Incognito)...

(from the Incognito news forum

Like all of you I'm operating in a state of shock at the loss of human life caused by the Quake and Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. My heartfelt love and condolences goes out to all those who have lost family and friends in this terrible tragedy.

I have so many friends from the devastated regions of Indonesia who lost their lives. So many children who once greeted and treated me like family are gone. Their small islands disappeared forever! My spirit is lifted by the incredible and positive response for aid from everyone the world over. We the human race are now closer than ever and behaving like One Nation, I hope we can go on showing this Love, Understanding and Support to our brothers and sisters around the globe from here on!

I have written a song with Graham Harvey which we will record with the help of all the Incognito family and friends, the proceeds of which we will donate to help save and rebuild the lives of those so desperately in need. Our project name will be 'HOPE COLLECTIVE'. Featured artists recording with us tomorrow include:

Chaka Khan
Jocelyn Brown
Steve Winwood
Maysa Leak
Carleen Anderson
Taka Boom
Amp Fiddler
Maxi Jazz
Jamie Callum
Lemar Raghav

Look out for us on the various news channels tomorrow. We¹ll be doing it for all our brothers and sisters around the world! I thank you all for everything that you are personally doing to help, and for the support that I know you will be giving us with this record. I also thank all those who will be taking part in this project ahead of time. I quote Mother Teresa at this time: 'In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love' Peace Bluey

And The Moral of the Story is....

A story of 3 Men; 2 are heroes and one died disgraced.

One man spent his life trying to uncover hidden terrorist and extra-judicial acts committed by our Government in our name. Another man spent much of his early life participating in these very kinds of acts - sabotage, terrorism, assassinations, bio-chemical warfare - on another innocent country. The third man is a lawyer who prepares shamefully one-side legal briefs that result in highly questionable executions and the circumvention of democracy to allow torture.

The first man is Gary Webb, a hero of a journalist. He died broke, lonely and a man disavowed by those who were supposed to share his passion for telling truth to power. The second man is our new Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss. Goss cut his teeth at the secret JM/Wave CIA station in Miami, where Italian mobsters and Cuban terrorists received training and checks from you and me - in failing to bring down Castro's Cuba. The last man is of course Alberto Gonzales, Bush's pick for top law enforcement official in the country. Able to accomplish rendering the foundation of international law irrelevant as a private counsel, it will great fun to see what he can do as Top Cop.

And we wonder why people don't take the War on Terrorism seriously. In what other country do heroes for democracy get treated this way, while villians get promoted? Look at General Shinseki, look at those leaving the CIA, look at Richard Clarke, look at the Medal of Freedom award winners, look at Powell and Rice, look at the terrorist-connected people running our Latin American affairs Department.

Webb is a most tragic story. A man who risked literally everything to tell the truth to power. Even after his apparent suicide, most of his newspaper writing peers still could not stop themselves from doing the Empire's work - by continuing the myth of Webb's groundbreaking work having been "discredited." This is because the liemasters at the CIA says aspects of the story was not so (the major gist of our Government's involvement in drugs and guns was never disputed). Even upon Webb's death, and after facts had piled up to support the story, the press still could not muster a tribute without using the word "discredited." This word never appeared in tributes to Reagan's economic polcies of course...