Jun 30, 2005

The Compton Homies and the Popz

I hadn't heard about this before - but this is AWESOME. The Compton Homies and the Popz was established in 1995 by an activist hoping to battle homelessness in Compton. The primarily black and latino team plays against other teams, which are primarily immigrant, and are planning a tour that will take them around the world. Listen to the clip, read the article, and hopefully, check out the documentary, which I found out about via a google search.

Cricket has always seemed to be a foreign, inaccessible thing to me, relegated to the world of my cousins and the world out there. I thought that it had a limited following, and later, as I became more nuanced, thought that it was only a colonial vestige that should be abolished. But now, I'm realizing that it was my pro-baseball (and limited American) view that closed my mind to a game that has really become synonymous with the post-Colonial world of nations that had once been under the Queen's thumb. Though I still am uncomfortable with cricket's past, I really want to learn more about it, and since I'm not fit enough to play futball, the true world sport, I want to try to get more into Cricket. Maybe it's that part of me that's so interested in the Caribbean coming out, though Cricket is a national obsession in India comparable to the perpetual struggle with Pakistan.

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Mercy Mercy Me/Jack FM

Last Heard on Jack FM:
Mercy Mercy Me: Marvin Gaye

There's something about this song that makes me so sad whenever I hear it, moreso than any other song, I think. I don't know if it's the convergence of real soul music and environmental consciousness (that's the brain speaking) or the feeling that Marvin cared, and he was taken from us too early. But whenever I hear the song, I feel almost paralyzed.

Hearing it on the radio is a totally different thing, and that's why I'm such a proponent of Jack FM when you're in the mood for popular music, but not the same damn songs every 10 minutes. Jack FM is the new format that WCBS has adopted, it's now in different markets around the country, and in NYC, it's conveniently located between zzzzzzz100 and Sleepy (CD) 101.9. Hearing Marvin Gaye, Flock of Seagulls, and Quiet Riot in succession is a trip. Check it out.

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Jun 29, 2005


Just started to get more interested in podcasting (with the new release of iTunes, it's finally possible without upgrading the old Jaguar). I suddenly got the idea that aside from listening to my favorite news program, I could actually use a good podcast to learn something useful. So I began the quest to find language learning podcasts. To date, I've only found a Spanish language podcast by some guy who lived in Spain for 7 years.

It would be really neat if I could find something in desi languages, with Gujarati and Hindi as my primary objectives, and a whole slew of other languages as a close second, at least for survival/introductory phrases and grammar. Any leads on this (or any takers to actually create these) would be welcome. Sign below.

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Lassi in the Village

Yesterday was another good day - ran an errand in Greenwich Village (GreenVil) and ended up next to a shoebox-sized place called Lassi that I hadn't seen before. It was only when I read the article in the window, that I realized that it had replaced Thali, a favorite little place that I'd never actually visited (but recommended to folks nonetheless).

Ends up that Lassi is the latest in a hot trend of small, quaint Indian joints that specialize (read: appropriate, exoticize, etc.) in specific Indian delicacies. I wouldn't put it in the same category as the beloved NY Dosa Cart, though. This little spot is the creation of a pastry chef, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, who has been taken by the cuisine of Northern India, or perhaps the allure of the dollars that could come from selling her creations to white liberal gastrotourists looking for "fresher, cleaner" Indian food.

The namesake refreshing drink is offered in new flavors, from traditional sweet/salty/mango to cardamom/coconut/coffee/cinnamon (all 'c' words. how fascinating). I ordered a coffee lassi - small, in the interest of trying something new and staying mildly within budget, though the $3.50 price tag seemed a bit excessive. When it was delivered with a smile, I almost gagged: the diminutive beverage was all of 4 ounces tall, dwarfed in its sad plastic cup by the straw that rose awkwardly above it.

Simultaneously, a white patron leaned conspiratorially towards the counter and stated earnestly "this is fantastic. This is my favorite Indian place in the city." I restrained myself from laughing out loud, half-sipped my micro-drink and waited for my aloo paratha. The paratha, priced at $3.95, was quite doughy and unremarkable for the price. I was dissatisfied enough with this experience to want to visit Queens today, just to make up for this sad slippage into the hip(age).

Guess there's another 'C' word that we can attach to this place. It rhymes with Asian, and it sure ain't Amazin'.

For future reference, if you are downtown, and looking for a good lassi, take thee to the Himalayan Cafe, a slightly larger shoebox of a space off the corner of 1st St. and 1st Ave. The lassis, which come in traditional and one new flavor (banana), are great, $2.50, and come in a pint glass.

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Jun 27, 2005

Why Does Middle America Hate Us?

With all the vitriol against people like us in this country, I sometimes wonder if it's worth fighting at all, and whether I would be better off going to a nation that only truly exists in my imagination, a vision of the land of fables, unfathomable history, and my parents struggles to bring me here. I feel tired sometimes, living on the very edge of the fringe in this society. I feel scared, sometimes, that if I drive into the wrong neighborhood, or the wrong part of the nation, I may be targeted in more ways than one, a perpetual bullseye painted upon my chest, crosshairs focused upon my heart of hearts. I worry for my friends, my peers, my nieces and nephews. I wish that I knew less, because perhaps in this case, I wouldn't feel so tired that it is our responsibility to address this hatred, this animosity. I wish that at least I didn't think it possible to overcome it all. I wish that I knew, in some clear way, what the true hearts of people in this nation hid underneath the layers of silence, smiles, and euphemisms.

And then, how can I, as a South Asian in America, child of educated immigrants who struggled to bring me here, post my feelings with any sense of importance when I realize that there are so many others, from my own communities, and the other communities without the tools or the time to voice what they feel about the wave of hatred, animosity, and disgust that seems to have taken over the airwaves, the op-ed columns, and definitely the letters sections. Even in NYC I feel cornered sometimes by the power(ed) establishment. When all we want is a fighting and equal chance, why are we so demonized? How can information be so twisted, gnarled, and spit out with such gusto and disregard for the truth? The protectionist, bully patRIOTism that is an easy fix for acultural Anglo-Americans appears stacked against us.

Living in the United States can be quite a challenge when your neighbors don't always believe in "live and let live."

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Rehberg backs move to drop illegal aliens from census

And so it begins.. I knew that something like this was on the way, and that it was just a matter of time. But there are a couple of noteworthy facts to consider when reviewing Rehberg's statement, and the United States Census.

1) Proposing an amendment to the Constitution has become a way to drive a wedge into an issue, bring the media calling, and get the angry- with-nothing-better-to-do callers to busy up the Baby Bell phone lines on the reactionary talk shows. They probably don't see this particular tactic as winnable, and I don't think that we should be fooled that this is where it stops. Look at the push for a "Gay Marriage" (or Bigotry) amendment. It won't be passed, but it becomes the flag to rally the troops around, and the vision of an ultimate goal that helps folks to think about attainable goals to get there.

2) With fewer than 1M residents, Montana's population is not booming and won't be booming (or - ask yourself, have YOU met anyone from Montana?). Regardless of the "counting of illegals", reapportionment will not suddenly afford Montana a large number of new districts. Even if there is an impact of 1 seat, a small state like Montana still has 2 Senators with equal power in that House. I've seen a few great breakdowns of how the system of the Senate actually gives more representation to states with smaller populations than states with larger populations. Rehberg should shut up, lest a lot of us come to his state and diffuse the impact of the special interests who probably put him there to begin with.

3) If we're going to look at unfair federal government practices that favor particular states, we should look more closely at Montana. For example, in this highway bill, the Senate (led by Montana Senators Burns (R) and Baucus (D)) committed highway robbery, granting the state more than twice its share in dollars (the proposed bill was for $295 Billion, roughly $1 Billion for each resident in the United States. MT's cut would have been $1.9 Billion, which would amount to $2 Billion for each of its residents). Forget that - what about all the militias?

4) Undocumented Immigrants Pay Taxes and Should be Counted. It's a common tactic to state that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes and are leaching off the system. First, I don't believe that illegal immigration is a good thing, but I think that our isolationist, racist, xenophobic, faulty immigration history belies a much more sinister evil: this nation is built on illegal immigration - from the first Pilgrims who invaded this nation, to the generations that followed. The criminalization of those who are desperately fleeing oppressive economic and political climates, many of which are directly or indirectly caused by the policies of the United States, is another unAmerican development, at least when held up to the American ideals that I still believe in. Why are some people "illegal" and others "legal"? But regardless, sales tax, real estate tax, tolls - these are all ways that the government squeezes money out of everyone - and folks who make a lower wage, which is generally the case for many undocumented immigrants, pay a disproportionate percentage of their income for many things that they can't even use.

5) Rehberg is not only after undocumented immigrants. If you read his quote, and the language mentioned (and in blue below) from the proposed amendment, they are out to target all non-citizens, turning the Census, which was part of the original Constitution, into a demarcation of caste by paperwork, more cleanly drawing the line between citizens and non-citizens. It would be a significant step in a continuum of attacks against non-citizens, hoping to render them invisible as the majority of this country remains expressly threatened and uncomfortable with neighbors who are not limited by the narrow restrictions of nationality, culture, and heritage that they have been resigned to. What is next? Further stripping away of rights from permanent residents? Restrictions on the right of citizenship by birth? Naturalization restrictions from specific nations? Oaths of loyalty? Where does it end?

Don't take this lying down. Write a letter to the editor. Make friends in Montana and Michigan, where these sponsors are located. Don't sit back and wait for this to grow.

Rehberg backs move to drop illegal aliens from census
Posted Jun 24, 2005 - 11:49 AM
Lee State Bureau

HELENA - U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said Thursday he is co-sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment that would stop the federal government from counting illegal aliens in the U.S. Census.

A 2003 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that backs tougher restrictions on immigration, concluded that counting illegal immigrants cost Montana and some other states seats in the U.S. House after the 1990 census and denied Montana a new House district after the 2000 census. Counting illegal immigrants benefits states such as California, while penalizing those without illegal aliens, the study said.

Rehberg said states with large populations of illegal aliens have benefited in the Electoral College to choose presidents, congressional representation and federal funding at the expense of states like Montana.

"Most Montanans know that census takers, every 10 years, do their best to count each person residing in each state," Rehberg said. "What most Montanans don't know is that all this time they've been counting illegal aliens and other non-citizens, giving states like California greater representation in the Electoral College and in Congress."

He said the proposed amendment by Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., would restore fairness to residents of states like Montana.

Rehberg said the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for counting "the whole number of persons in each state." The proposal he's co-sponsoring would replace the word "persons" with "citizens," excluding illegal aliens.

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creative commons

Fascinated by the concept of Creative Commons.

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Jun 26, 2005

LGA and a Dream of India

While at LaGuardia Airport at an unGodly hour (the wrong side of 5:00 AM) this past Saturday, I remarked that the old main terminal was reminiscent of India in some ways. It wasn't that the security and other staff were predominantly people of color, or that our companions in line were predominantly people of color (with a good number of desis, it's true). It was the general sense of lagging behind the ultra-modern airports that seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays. LGA almost seems like a throwback to India now, with uneven lighting, unfriendly yellow signs proclaiming directions, destinations, and diatribes in monosyllabic hieroglyphics. We even had to walk outside between terminals, almost unheard of in this age of rapid transport from here to anywhere.

I was reminded of the overzealous, young airport staff in Mumbai International. I was reminded of the uneven lighting, and air conditioning (which in itself was a welcome relief from what I was expecting when disembarking from my long journey to the [m]otherland).

I remember the long queue, the particularly Indian way of using simple but effective rubber stamps and small pieces of paper (conservation and self-reliance seem to be embedded in the Indian consciousness). I remember the frenzy while trying to pick up my bags from the carousel - more difficult and trying because of the limited space than some peculiar pushiness or hostility from my fellow flight-weary travelers. I remember the blast of humidity and sound and excitement all wrapped into one as I stepped out of the airport, and into the bustling scene just outside its door.

LGA - where parking for one day is equivalent to the cost of a dinner for four at an outstanding restaurant - is nothing like Mumbai Airport, and yet, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I had a fleeting wish that I was back in India, back in the comfortable chaos of 110 crore dreamers, each yearning for her own piece of escape, modernity, or peace.

Back where, until I opened my mouth, my nationality was never questioned.

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Does Maroon 5 Have Anything Original to Offer?

As a music lover, with a pretty diverse range of interests, I find myself often listening intently to a song, trying to pick out references and parallels to other songs that I've heard. In hip-hop and other genres that utilize digital sampling, it's more overt, as you try to place the beat, the melodic snippet, catch phrases, or even full lines (Mos Def singing Rakim's line "I start to think, and then I sink into the paper, like I was ink..." from Follow the Leader, which had in turn been remixed using Billie Jean from Michael Jackson). Hip-hop is outstanding at paying homage to predecessors and influences (what compares to shout-outs!), but even rock and other genres have their ways. I remember hearing Down with the Ship (Slight Return), by Scatterbrain, which is a tribute that uses riffs and snips of songs by other iconic artists in the midst of their original song. It's taken me 10 years to figure out most of the references (which I'll post as well, when I get a chance).

But there's also the situation in which the resonance you hear is not homage. It's just plain biting. And that sucks. So let's call some of these folks out, shall we? Oasis is just too obvious. I really liked What's The Story, Morning Glory until I realized that I liked the originals better: namely, the Beatles. Lenny Kravitz is rightly much maligned as purely derivative. And there are more Joni Mitchell retreads than I care to exhume in this post.

But I wanted to pay specific attention to Maroon 5. The group made it big with their first single, This Love, and I swear, the first time that I heard it, I was immediately reminded of Jamiroquai, who hit it big with Virtual Insanity and subsequent soulful dance/funk releases. I may have been the only one, but I definitely didn't think that the sound was original.

Then comes the second hit single, She Will Be Loved. The minute that I heard it, I thought immediately of Cheap Trick's The Flame. This one was too close to be coincidence, though once again, I've heard nothing about it anywhere. Please - if you're going to rip off a melody that directly, try to use something that wasn't a single.

I've not heard the third single, but did hear that it's frighteningly close to a bad Stevie Wonder outtake. Three strikes and you're out. Come on guys - come up with something original!

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Jun 25, 2005

Nepali Guerilla Radio

Saw this on Boing Boing, and thought I should at least comment on it, since it underlines the notion of fierce resistance and resilience from beneath the oppressive might of systemic control and institutional violence against peaceful people that I have started to read about.

Banned Nepal radio hits the street
Banned from broadcasting news since February's royal coup, Nepali radio reporters have found a new way to get their bulletins out: loudspeaker.

Every evening, about 300 people gather on a roadside in Biratnagar, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Katmandu to listen to Keshav Bhattarai read out the news from an open air studio on the roof of a narrow, three-story building.
[Full story]

The power of information, the powerful desire to know what is happening in the world, and in this troubled land, is truly inspirational. The courage of those who would defy a regime willing to go to great lengths to make an example of dissidents is even more admirable. Not to mention the power of self-publishing - namely, blogs - in this context, as the only news that's come out of Nepal since the lockdown more than 4 months ago is through the writers utilizing this format. Let's wish them success in their fight.

For more information about what's happening in Nepal, check out these blogs:

United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal
Radio Free Nepal

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Jun 24, 2005


My brother-in-law was just in a car accident this evening. He's shaken up, and has good right to be, as he crashed into a railing to avoid a crazy driver, and ended up crossing 4 lanes of traffic as the car spun out of his control when the air bag activated. It's a miracle that he's okay, and regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there is some good in the world, and someone watching over our family.

I wish there was some more convenient, cost-effective, and safe way to travel great distances without having to take the wheel in your own hands. If there's anything that I really appreciate about New York, it's the fact that I can be completely wiped out and exhausted, and I can just get on the train and not worry that my need to get from point A to point B may endanger my own or other lives just because I'm tired.

May you all have safe journeys in the days and months to come, whether your destination is near or far, real or imagined.

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iPods and Apple Brand Loyalty

As I've written a number of times before, I'm an ardent Apple user with a few bones to pick with Apple. I love my iBook, but hated it when the motherboard freaked out on me, twice. I think that the iPod is a brilliant little machine (and shrewd/maverick business decision), but I don't own one and can't stand how prevalent they are in the subways and on the streets of New York (and even in the not-so-hip laundromat in Brooklyn where I'm writing this, there are at least 3 4 5 people with those damn white earbuds).

I think that it has been quite a coup for the little Apple who could to make such a dent in the market, take over a relatively new genre of portable music, and make even peecee users have to tote around a piece of Apple cool. Still, it bothers me that there are so many peecee users among the Apple faithful, and they aren't clearly identifiable. If I were Steve Jobs, I would have found some way to identify which iPods are connected to Apple users. I would make it more hip to be an Apple user (either through some specific connection or option that is not available for peecee users, or some radical and lustworthy color that only Apple users could access). Why would I do this? Thanks for asking!

1) Brand loyalty should be rewarded. Apple users have been a sad, down-trodden, and sulky bunch over the years of fat, decline, and confused product lines. Many took a lot of hits as Pentium-powered boxes seemed to zoom far and away, Windows seemed to be in facelift and reengineering mode, and Apple's market share seemed less likely than a prudent Bush energy plan. The prices of Macs during the dark years didn't really justify that intangible cool factor as they did in the beginning, and in the recent history of the brand. A special Apple-only feature would be a nice thank you.

2) Apple users should be envied.
There are a lot of folks who have dished it out over the years to the aforementioned loyal user base. They should at least see that membership in this small cohort of fanatics at last has some reward. Additionally, why should everyone be recognized to have coolness equity when there are folks who may have a cooler Apple product at home?

3) Really make others want to buy Apple computers.
You are already trying to appeal to them by making the iMac G5 look like a giant iPod anyway. Go the extra distance. Through Throw in a special edition Apple-only iPod with the purchase of a Mac as a real incentive. After all, Mr. Jobs, if you're so confident about the product eventually selling itself (or at least the ability of high-end technology companies to lock folks into brand loyalty as a result of pigheadedness, the need to believe they made the right choice, and perpetual investment in proprietary peripherals)2, you should just sweeten the deal to get folks to buy the whole package. And it is also a nice way, again, to thank fans of the brand who will inevitably buy new Macs anyway (and perhaps an easier way to get them to upgrade and move forward in the world).

4) Build a community of users outside of the regular geek channels.
Okay, I admit it. I look more favorably upon Mac/Apple users than peecee users. It's just a fact. Maybe I'm secretly harboring a love-hate fascination with the white color scheme and have to check into race-envy counseling. Though white people aren't really white, and are actually peach in hue. But that's a different conversation altogether, right? Anyway, wouldn't it be great for fellow Apple users to know one another from some clear identifier in their iPod? After all, if the burden of the personal computing revolution will rest upon the shoulders of the lowly footuser1 shouldn't they be able to quickly identify and build alliances with others of like mind and consumer urges?

Of course, the only real way this could happen would be some change in the Apple user's headphones, since iPod possession is announced to the world by the ubiquitous white earbuds. How about wireless headphones/earbuds with the Apple logo clearly visible? That would be pretty cool. Dangerous, and potentially carcinogenic, but cool. While we're offering unsolicited (and unrewarded) design ideas, how about making the earbuds Bluetooth-enabled, with an efficient mechanism to switch between phone and iPod. Hell - make the damn iPod into a phone so that I can use any of my 1,000 songs that I bought in one way or another as a ringtone instead of making me fork over more money for a favorite tune. But I digress.

Or, as another idea, how about plugging in some Apple-only options for (dot)Mac subscribers? You'd probably have a lock for subscribers if you can score some content for them that is only accessible through the (dot)Mac interface (how about weekly podcasts of live shows that expire, but can be burned to disk at least once?). Reward the Apple base, converts, and true music fans. Bring the music closer to them and open up new ways of thinking about content.

Basically, I'm just thinking that it would be really cool if Apple had found some way to reward and truly grow the base of Apple computer users. It's disheartening to know how many people are so proud of their latest-model iPods but would never consider trying a Mac, and how many folks there are (myself included) who are saving their pennies and dollars to pick up a copy of Tiger.

Maybe the ideology of base-building feels out of place in a free market setting, but I think that Apple has used the rhetoric and images of revolutionary thinkers for long enough that perhaps I started to believe that there was some substance behind the sell.

[1] Using military terminology doesn't appeal to me (as my refusal to use "Ground Zero" to narrowly define the space of the WTC attests), so this is the best I can do to replace the "footsoldier" that seems to fit here.

[2] See Sony Memory Stick, the DVD wars, and miscellaneous other scams.

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Jun 22, 2005

Cool Music-Related Blog with MP3s

Listened to NPR yesterday, and as usual, got some interesting facts and useful tidbits. It may be more white liberal than one can stomach for too long, but there's a great show in the morning called News and Notes, with Ed Gordon, which covers African American issues, and it just so happened that music critic Toure was filling in for Leonard Lopate when I was listening, and had an awesome show, part of which I'll write about later.

He interviewed firebrand writer, cultural critic, and MacArthur genius Stanley Crouch, legendary guitarist Vernon Reid of Living Color, and mentioned a few blogs that he reads with music content that you can download. I've been checking out Stereogum, and it's pretty neat, both to get music news (gotta wean myself off of Rolling Stone, since I got ribbed for reading it), and for actual music. Check it out.

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Jun 21, 2005

Zimbabwe and Revolutionaries Who Lose Their Way

Last Friday, I listened to a program on the Brian Lehrer Show on NPR, in which he was speaking with journalist Andrew Meldrum, who has recently written a book called Where We Have Hope about Robert Mugabe's reign in Zimbabwe, which can be listened to in its entirety here. I was riveted by the broadcast - first because Brian Lehrer is bright, an excellent interviewer, and has enough time to explore issues with more depth than the traditional news report of 1,500 words or 3 minutes.

More importantly, I was reminded that as a product of the education system of the United States, and the choices that I have made to dig deeper in particular areas of United States and world history, I have a very limited frame of reference regarding most African and South/Central American anti-colonial struggles, as well as current political climates around most of the world. It is not for lack of interest now - but I almost feel like I need time and determination to delve into primers to buttress my less than adequate knowledge base.

In Zimbabwe, Mugabe was part of the anti-colonial movement and eventually became Prime Minister and then President. Mugabe has initiated a very controversial and violent land reform movement, to redistribute the land (70% of which was held by a fraction of the population, the descendants of the original white settlers). As Meldrum mentions, the land reform resulted in the distribution of the land to the elite, rather than the peasant farmers.

It seems like this is a case of what we've seen again and again: the idealistic, iconoclastic, charismatic leader of the people's movement bought into the cult of personality, drank from the chalice of power, and started consolidating the channels of control, shutting down the outlets of dissent, and becoming the dictator that he seemed ideologically opposed to in the first place. Perhaps they realize at some point that democracy is a messy thing in which consensus development takes too long and results in less than ideal decisions (at least from the point of view of the "leader"). Perhaps they grow too accustomed to their identification with the people's movement - buying into the world distillation of great revolutions into soundbites and individual leaders - to the point where the sacrifices and losses of the people are washed out in the white noise of personal achievement.

What is very interesting, however, especially in this broadcast, which can be downloaded (or podcast)1, is that despite the state policies that abuse the human rights of their people, and the mismanagement of the Zimbabwe economy, Mugabe is actually still held with high regard by many world leaders (although, of course, he is now on the Bush Administration's new hitlist - the Outposts of Tyranny)2.

The questionable American moral highground aside, even South African leader Thabo Mbeki, is still supportive of Mugabe. Meldrum assigned this position to the reluctance to proclaim that a former liberation leader is now a despot, especially for Mbeki, who is part of a former liberation movement. No one wants to create a guilty by association scenario, though I can't imagine South Africa being in the same boat as other nations in Africa, or even the world, given the way that the ANC and others have handled the end of apartheid and the reconciliation of a population that's been through so much.

After all - radicals in the U.S. sometimes wave Fidel Castro in the face of American imperial/neocolonial tendencies, but Castro is not really a revolutionary anymore. He's more or less irrelevant, removed from his revolutionary beginnings as the reality of running Cuba and navigating between the third world/non-aligned movement, and his strategic relationship with the USSR have worn down both he and the vision of a truly different world. He is now further isolated as some of the remaining communist governments, namely China and Vietnam, are warming their ties with the United States and embracing more bold forms of capitalism. The point is - he represented hope as a revolutionary, but no matter what he did in the 50s and early 60s, he has suppressed his people, been responsible for the imprisonment, torture, and death of countless dissenters, and torn the population, both in Cuba and in the diaspora, apart politically, between those who are strongly opposed to him (and have extended this to include all left-of-center ideology, leading to the well-known Cuban Republican phenomenon) and those who are more supportive of his stand against the United States, and commitment to socialist ideals of education and health care for most of the population.

Anyway - the point is, are there revolutionaries who we can point to who don't fall into the trap of tossing out the old power structure, but then repeating the sins of former leaders, or worse, creating a more totalitarian or oppressive regime? I know of very few - either they are taken from us too early, or they haven't "won" in their revolutions and are still fighting, or they become despots or dictators. Where is the hope? Perhaps that's why South Africa is so amazing...


[1] Though I can't do that yet, since I don't have Mac OS 10.3 or higher. The lovable bastards at Apple keep coming up with cool innovations in their operating system, but I can't afford to upgrade every year, my machine doesn't have the skull to tolerate more complicated brainware, and I haven't found my community of friends to do a little trading on the side. Yet.

[2] The list, which includes Cuba, Burma, and Belarus, also has two oldies but goodies, namely Iran and North Korea. Do you really think that they won't be attacking either in the near future?

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Jun 20, 2005


Proof that the arts of writing and grammar are fast becoming relics of an ancient age. I saw this headline in the daily Rolling Stone email that I get:


Wonderful. Perhaps it is the fine art of copy-editing that we should be mourning.

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Jun 6, 2005

Exodus takes exception to ignorant flag-waving

There are a few things that I've been uncomfortable with in the metal scene over all these years, the first being the overwhelming predominance of white men who find solace in the scene, and how it becomes a haven for chaunvanistic nationalism - as a last refuge for antiquated visions of race, gender, and so-called patriotism. I have felt scared, more of the fans than of the music, though there are clearly some bands that cross the line on all counts. Still, for each of these groups on the fringe, I am reminded time and again that more than anything, many folks in the metal scene are ideological mavericks, or even angry progressives, and the music affords them the ability to be aggressive and yet say something meaningful at the same time. As a result, some of my favorite music in the genre has killer riffs and strong/powerful lyrics.

Case in point: I just came across the latest album by Exodus, one of the Bay Area bashers from the late 80s who had seemingly lost their way after releasing a string of brutal and funny albums. Enter 2004, and the band released Tempo of the Damned, a return to grace, from what all the reviews have bene saying. I have only heard one song so far, called the "Scar Spangled Banner." When I saw the title, I feared the worst - the unfortunate juxtaposition of nationalistic bravado and hokey re-envisioning of tried and true themes. But it shocked me - first because of its intensity, then, Steve Sousa's razor-laden vocal delivery, and believe it or not, the lyrical content, which you have to see to believe. I guess even an old vet of this scene can be surprised sometimes:

Scar Spangled Banner
Oh say can you fucking see
The missiles fall like rain
Bloody mountains majesty
Dead bodies on the plain
By the bombing's eerie light
See the crimsons waves of red
What so proudly they all fell
The twilight of the dead

America - the violent
The indifferent
God shit its grace on me
America - the arrogant
The belligerent
Will live in infamy
We the people, for no people
Secure the blessings of tragedy
Do or dare we have established
The scar spangled banner

We pledge allegiance to no god
Only to the blood
Liberty is just a dream
When dying in the mud
This, the land of the deceived, home of the depraved
Bombs, they drop like falling leaves
And the deadly flag still waves

Red - the beautiful color of blood
Flowing like a stream
White - the color of bleaching bone
Lovely and obscene
Blue - the bruising color of flesh
Battered, ripped and torn
The colors of the flag of hate
Of violence and porn
What you see is what you get
You haven't see the bloody trail yet
I'm no patriot, just a hate-triot

Blood sport, my sure bet
See the flag, get a body bag
Salvation from a .44 mag.
Nothing left, no one saved
Cause our goddamn motherfucking bloody ass
Banner still waves

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Jun 4, 2005

Spring is finally here, and it even feels a bit like summer. Settling into a new routine, preparing for another summer replete with reading, visiting sites in the city both beloved and unknown, connecting with those who have been touchstones, and others who remain fondly on the blurry periphery of memory. Hopefully, I'll be able to take some more time to just process the past and prepare for the new life that lies ahead.


But first, a word from our scary sponsors. If these guys aren't terrorists, I don't know who is. Actually, I fell upon this site while doing a little random site-jumping, and quickly realize that I've been sheltered from the madness of some of the folks out there who are writing just as often and as rabidly as folks on this side of reason. Problem is, with the pre-emptive attack strategy overseas, the corporate monopoly in the House, Senate, and White House, and the lack of clear strategy from the Dems, it seems like these folks are enjoying with gusto and a bit of gun-brandishing bravado that we didn't see when Clinton was in power. Not that Clinton was as far left from ideological "center" (if you believe that such a thing exists) as the current president is to the right of it.

Still, I heard ol' Bill on NPR yesterday, and it was interesting to hear him as he defended his record while in office, and concede that some of his priorities were not on par with where they should have been to stem the tide of regression in which we are currently mired. Speaking of which, stem cell research was an easy regret for him to acquiesce. But while he didn't fully acknowledge that he was responsible for selling immigrants down the river in the '96 Welfare Reform, he seemed proud to have recovered "most" of the benefits lost to immigrants as a result of the bill's passing. Seems that the nuance that he was guilty of accepting the hateful amendments on the bill to begin with has missed him entirely. After all, they are only immigrants.

Maybe I'm contributing to the problem by pointing fingers at the lesser of two evils, instead of just focusing on the King.

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