Monday, March 31, 2008

Still awaiting news from Zimbabwe

It is now Tuesday morning in Southern Africa. The government of Zimbabwe hasn’t yet announced the winner of last Saturday’s presidential election.

Zimbabwean citizens can’t understand why it’s taking so long.

It probably has to do with the fact that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is ahead of incumbent Robert Mugabe in the early results.

According to Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg, South Africa, there’s no indication of when the final results will be announced.

“My heart is bleeding,” said a Zimbabwean caller to 702 a few minutes ago. “The Zimbabweans have taken a civilized stance to tell Mugabe to go. But unfortunately, Mugabe is stealing the vote.”

Something funky from Dean Bowman

Last week’s Playlist was just the beginning. I’ll be having more to say about Dean Bowman, vocalist extraordinaire.

Below is a cool 2001 performance of “Mighty Mighty,” the old Earth, Wind & Fire jam. It’s Bowman with the Charlie Hunter Quartet. (I will have more to say about that funky-ass Charlie Hunter too.)

Two things about this YouTube video: it loads very slowly, so give it a couple of minutes to load in pause mode. Also, don’t mind that Hunter’s spoken intro is out of sync. The song itself is synced up perfectly.

And awaaay we go...

Coming attraction: ‘Redbelt’

As a film director, David Mamet is an iffy proposition. His early movies “House of Games” and “Homicide” were exciting little mind puzzles. Later ones like “Heist” and “Spartan” were easy to forget.

Now Mamet has a mixed-martial-arts movie coming out in early May.

(Yeah, I said “mixed martial arts.” Finally... David Mamet is writing about something that matters.)

The movie is called “Redbelt.” Chiwetel Ejiofor is the star, which means I will pay to see it. (Hat-tip: Invisible Woman.)

Below are two different trailers for “Redbelt.” Which is interesting because it illustrates how studios can package and market a film to appeal to different audiences.

The top trailer, released a month ago, is all about the men. All about the fighting.

The bottom one, released last week, has the female characters front and center... as if “Redbelt” were some kind of relationship movie.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Which way Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe held its presidential election yesterday. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai reportedly polled very strongly against longtime president Robert Mugabe.

But the Zimbabwean government has not released the election results yet. Does this mean the fix is in for Mugabe?

From the U.S. government’s Voice of America website:

“The U.S. embassy released a statement warning American citizens in Zimbabwe that a ‘volatile situation’ was developing in the wake of the elections ‘with the possibility of violence across Zimbabwe’ through Sunday night into Monday. It advised American citizens to ‘move to a safe location until the Embassy provides further information.’

“U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the Mideast, said Mr. Mugabe was a ‘disgrace’ to his people and Africa, voicing concern on whether the elections could be determined to have been free and fair given the scarcity of international observers.”

UPDATE (03/30/08): It’s already Monday morning in Southern Africa. And via the magic of the internets, I’m listening to Johannesburg’s Talk Radio 702. Figure they’ll have some news from South Africa’s neighbor to the north.

As of right now, they don’t. But a news reader reports the obvious, based on the front pages of South African newspapers: The Zimbabwe election is “the overwhelming big story of the day.”

It is so wild to be listening to a radio station on the other side of the planet!

An American tradition, updated

This will be my last item on “racial masking” (unless and until some Tracey Ullman blackface clips appear on YouTube). The performer here is Vaginal Davis. Be warned: He’s got a dirty mouth.

An American tradition, reanimated

My little retrospective on “racial masking” leads us to the current example of Charles Knipp, a white gay comedian who performs as “Shirley Q. Liquor,” an ignorant black welfare queen with 19 “chirrens.”

In January 2007, I wrote about blogger Jasmyne Cannick and her protest campaign against Knipp’s grotesque caricature (which gay audiences seem to love).

The protest continues. There’s a new website called Ban Shirley Q. Liquor. Bloggers such as Invisible Woman, the Villager and Craig Nulan – among many others – are spreading the word.

(Plug the name “Shirley Q. Liquor” into my black-blogosphere search engine, and see how far and wide the word has spread.)

I’m curious to know what you think of this:

Friday, March 28, 2008

An American tradition, subverted

An American tradition

The only politician who feels more entitled to run shit than Hillary Clinton...

... is Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe. The 84-year-old ruler is up for re-election tomorrow. And anti-Mugabe activists fully expect the election to be “stolen” so that Mugabe can remain in power.

Below is a 3½-minute interview President Mugabe granted to Al Jazeera this week:

Now playing: ‘Planet B-Boy’

Here’s a movie I’m excited to go and see: “Planet B-Boy.” It’s a documentary about the global culture of breakdancing.

It opened last weekend in New York and West L.A. It opens today in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Diego, Pasadena, Orange County and Washington, D.C. Next week it reaches Chicago, Boston, Austin and Phoenix. And so on and so forth throughout the spring.

I wanna hit you with two different trailers. The top one is all dancing. The bottom one provides a sense of the narrative of “Planet B-Boy” and the different human personalities involved.

I tip my Kangol to filmmaker Benson Lee. This movie looks like big fun.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright on iTunes

While Fox News continues to hype Jeremiah Wright as if he were the biggest issue facing the nation – (What war? What recession?) – members of Trinity United Church of Christ are waging their own public-relations campaign on the internets.

Last week one member launched a blog called The Truth About Trinity United Church of Christ. He (or she) has already produced 22 posts.

On YouTube, “TRINITYCHGO” has uploaded 37 videos over the past nine days, most of them featuring Rev. Wright in the pulpit.

And now... a number of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons are for sale at iTunes.

I am not a fan of Rev. Wright’s politics. Sounds to me like the same old hard-left rhetoric with some racial-nationalist woofing on top. But the bullshit Fox News tactic of combing through the pastor’s sermons to pull out the most inflammatory sound bites... for the sole purpose of crippling Barack Obama... is sickening.

But since Jeremiah Wright is now the most famous black preacher in the U.S.A., let’s hear him unload on President Bush, why don’t we?

I’m streaming a 7-minute excerpt of one of Rev. Wright’s iTunes sermons on my Vox blog. The 2006 EP is called “The People of God.” This sermon is called “In Freedom.”

In this passage, the minister slides from Old Testament exegesis into full-bore Bush-bashing before you can say “God damn America.” Click here to listen.

Wanna watch ‘Miami Vice’? has the first two seasons of “Miami Vice” online for your viewing pleasure.

Young’uns who don’t remember “Vice” might wonder what all the fuss was about. I kinda wonder that too.

I’ve embedded a 1984 episode, “Cool Runnin’,” at the bottom of this page. You can stream and watch it right here. It was written by Joel Surnow, who later made his fortune as co-creator of “24.”

But what’s really interesting about this episode? It features Charlie Barnett as “Noogie,” a small-time hustler and snitch. Barnett parlayed that role into a semi-regular gig on “Vice.”

His performance raises a question as to the difference between “cooning” and “clowning.” I say Charlie Barnett was a gifted clown. And he was obviously doing a lot of improvising in this episode... to the very end, when he breaks out with some “Rapper’s Delight.”

Barnett, who died of AIDS in 1996, made his reputation performing in New York City parks. He come close getting hired for “Saturday Night Live” in 1980... but the “black” slot went to Eddie Murphy instead. The rest is pop-culture history.

Charlie Barnett did have an impact on comedy, though. Dave Chappelle thought so highly of him, he tried to get a movie made based on Barnett’s life.

Embedded below is vintage video of Barnett in his natural habitat: Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. It’s broad humor, yes, but the man knew how to work a crowd. Check him out...

A free Arrested Development download

Remember Arrested Development? Damn, 16 years flew by like a bitch, didn’t they?

Todd Thomas, a.k.a. Speech, combined the spirits of Chuck D and Sly Stone, and made music that captured the vibe of the early ’90s.

Arrested Development faded fast (though they remain big in Japan). Now the group is back out there gigging, mostly at festivals.

Did you know AD put out an album last year? It’s called “Since the Last Time.”

Click here to hear a remix of a song called “Miracles.” This remix is available as a FREE MP3. Other tracks are too.

Just follow this link to the Arrested Development website. Then scroll down. Under the words “Free Music,” there’s a music player. Press play and you’ll see a list of downloadable tracks. “Miracles (Metamorphosis mix)” is at the bottom of the list.

Below is the video for the original mix of “Miracles.” (It’s better than the remix.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Name this preacher, win a prize.

Sean Hannity continues to mention Jeremiah Wright’s name every night on Fox News, as if convinced that this eventually will destroy Barack Obama.

But if Hannity is truly shocked that a resentment of America’s racial past would be expressed in black churches, he’s stupider than he looks.

Here’s a contest. Click here and listen to a black preacher preach.

The first person to correctly name this preacher in the comments section here will win a prize.

The prize is a double CD from Smithsonian Folkways: “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs, 1960-1966.”

One guess per person.

UPDATE (03/28/08): We have a winner. Lolo figured out that this preacher is the Rev. Jasper Williams.

The sermon, titled “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” is for sale at eMusic. It was recorded in the late 1960s.

I present it here to make the point (for those who need it explained) that talking about “white oppressors” from the pulpit didn’t start with Jeremiah Wright.

Playlist: Bow down to Dean Bowman

Long after I’ve burned out on blogging and quit, you should remember one name: Dean Bowman. Dean Bowman. Dean Bowman.

He is a great vocal talent... and yet, one of America’s best-kept secrets.

I have pointed to Bowman’s work with the funk-rock band Screaming Headless Torsos (here and here). But he has recorded with a worldwide array of eclectic artists – jazz players, hip-hop producers, alternative- rock songwriters. Bowman has chops to suit any task.

He can scat like a bebopper. He can render a Negro spiritual like a concert performer. His signature trick – a deep-throated warble – fits wherever he wants it to fit. And he can tell a story in song.

Hell, I’m ready to put on robes and follow this dude!

And yet Dean Bowman hasn’t put out an album under his own name. You have to hunt for his tracks on other people’s stuff.

Herewith, I offer a selection of recordings featuring Dean Bowman vocals. Click the song titles below to stream the music on my Vox blog:

1. “The Sour” – Peder featuring Dean Bowman

This moody track is from a Danish hip-hop producer named Peder. It’s off his 2007 CD “And He Just Pointed to the Sky...” Downloadable from iTunes and eMusic.

2. “Giliad” – Dean Bowman/Scotty Hard

Old-school spiritual meets underground hip-hop. From a 2004 CD compilation called “The Turntable Sessions, Volume 1.” Downloadable from iTunes, eMusic and Amazon.

3. “Hide” – Fred Eisler

A dark and compelling song-story from Austrian Fred Eisler’s 2005 CD “Camena to the Fallen.” Downloadable from iTunes, eMusic and Amazon.

4. “Notorious Thugs” – Lester Bowie Brass Fantasy

Leave it to the late Lester Bowie to remake a Notorious B.I.G. hit with a jazz ensemble.

Bowman doesn’t rap, but he pays righteous tribute to Biggie. From the 1998 CD “The Odyssey of Funk & Popular Music.” Downloadable from iTunes.

5. “Switch Around” – Borrina Mapaka/Dean Bowman

This naughty-minded collaboration with Congolese artist Borrina Mapaka is available as a FREE MP3 download (along with several other tracks) on Bowman’s official website.

6. “Cleo’s Mood” – Don Byron

Bowman stretches and flexes toward the end of this groovin’ track from saxophonist Don Byron’s 2006 album “Do the Boomerang: The Music of Junior Walker.” Downloadable from iTunes and Amazon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MBP of the Week: Daily Variety

The show-biz newspaper Daily Variety reported today that Vinnie Jones, Michael Madsen, Armand Assante and rapper DMX will star in a horror movie called “The Bleeding.”

But the folks at Variety didn’t publish a photo of DMX. They published a photo of DMC... as in Run-DMC... as in Darryl McDaniels.

And that’s our Misidentified Black Person of the Week.


(Thanks for the heads-up, RP.)

Who is Morgan Tsvangirai?

Let’s do something “un-American.” That is, let’s pull our heads out of our asses for a minute and look at what’s happening in the rest of the world.

Obsessed with our own political campaigns, we are ignoring the presidential election taking place this Saturday in Zimbabwe. It could bring to an end Robert Mugabe’s iron-fisted rule. Or not.

President Mugabe, at age 84, isn’t ready to go.

Mugabe’s main opponent is Morgan Tsvangirai (pronounced CHANG-a-rye), head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). One year ago Tsvangirai was arrested and beaten by Mugabe loyalists; Tsvangirai calls it a “near-fatal” ordeal.

To hear a sound bite of Morgan Tsvangirai speaking at a rally two days ago, follow this link to Voice of America. "We will stand for freedom as one, for a new Zimbabwe,” he said. “We will line up at those polling stations and we are going to vote in our millions. ...

"We expect the enemies of justice to engage in every trick in the book,” Tsvangirai continued. “We are ready for them."

According to VOA reporter Peta Thornycroft, Mugabe will not allow “white Western journalists” to cover the upcoming elections.

Embedded below are two video clips featuring Morgan Tsvangirai. The first is an interview he did four months ago with David Frost for al-Jazeera.

The other is an Australian news report about Tsvangirai’s violent detention last year.

Hendrix at Woodstock

I’m feeling like some Jimi this morning. Here is his complete, one-hour Woodstock set:

Monday, March 24, 2008

A free N.E.R.D. download

Pharrell Williams fan? Want a FREE MP3 of the new N.E.R.D. single, “Everyone Nose”? Just follow this link to and you can download it.

Click here and you can hear it on my Vox audio stash.

The group’s new album, “Seeing Sounds,” is due in June.

Something for the white folks

I love white people. I do. And it hurts my heart to see some of them in such anguish during this election cycle.

From having to endure 15 seconds’ worth of the fiery preachments of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to being confronted in the media with a phrase like “typical white person”... let’s face it: it has never been harder to be white in America.

On the positive side, y’all still own everything worth owning. So it balances out.

But for some white folks, the future looks grim indeed. Far-right blogger Lawrence Auster says the election of Barack Obama as president “would be like four years of blacks dancing in the street over the OJ Simpson verdict.”

Or, to unpack that thought, “a four year long post-OJ Simpson acquittal extravaganza, in which the full madness and idiocy of black America is on display...”

Obama is “outright evil,” writes Mr. Auster. “This man is... the most sinister figure in American politics in my lifetime.”

Lawrence Auster needs a pick-me-up. So for him – and those who think like him – I offer something to brighten your day... if only for a couple of minutes.

White people, watch and enjoy:

Black Kids are coming...

Four months ago, I pointed y’all to a free EP download from a quirky young pop band out of Jacksonville, Florida... Black Kids.

The British music press drooled all over them, and the Kids have been gigging their butts off in England ever since, opening for Kate Nash on her tour.

Now Black Kids are coming home.

From late April through mid May, the Kids will do their first North American club tour, hitting spots from Boston to Baltimore, from Denver to Detroit, from Seattle to Salt Lake City. And then it’s back to England for the summer.

Black Kids are living the rock ’n’ roll dream. And they seem like such nice young people, playing such happy music. Go, Black Kids, go!

And look... their first music video came out last week. The single (“I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You”) drops April 7.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hannity’s ‘guilt by association’ problem

I’m no stranger to Malik Zulu Shabazz, chairman of the New Black Panther Party. Back in his Howard University days (my journalism days), Malik led a rap group called Defiant Giants.

Matter fact, at a Howard hip-hop conference in 1991, Malik Shabazz referred to me as an “Uncle Tom.” (Guess why?)

I ain’t mad at him. Because Malik – clever Malik, beautiful Malik – CLOWNED SEAN HANNITY on “Hannity & Colmes” last week! And it went a little sumpn’ like this:

For the past week, Sean Hannity has been waging a campaign of “guilt by association” against Barack Obama, drum-beating the names of Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan to smear Sen. Obama as a black militant.

Even Jack Kemp, a Republican, whacked Hannity on the snout Friday night for his constant “ad hominem attacks” against Obama.

The problem with playing the “guilt by association” game is... it puts one’s own associations on the table.

Today, Malik Shabazz’s artful jiu-jitsu was spotlighted on the Huffington Post.

So let’s talk about Hal Turner, one of the most notorious bigots on the Internet. Turner’s blog and radio call-in show are a phantasmagorium of race-baiting, Jew-baiting, queer-baiting and immigrant-bashing.

“Jews hate this program,” Turner said on his show last Wednesday night, “because I expose them for the scumbags that they are.”

Before we get to Turner’s connection with Sean Hannity, I’d like you to hear a few snippets from Turner’s radio show last week. I’ve done a 4½-minute edit. Turner’s theme for the evening was the imminent economic and social collapse of the United States.

Click here to listen. (WARNING: Foul language and epithets.) It ends with a surprising mention of Malik Shabazz’s appearance on “Hannity & Colmes” that same evening.

Now... what does this deranged individual, Hal Turner, have to do with Sean Hannity? During the 1990s, Turner was one of Hannity’s favorite callers to Hannity’s radio show. And a friendship grew from that.

Liberal writer Max Blumenthal documented their relationship three years ago in an online article for The Nation.

And Turner himself blogged about it this weekend. “Yes, we were friends and yes, Sean agreed with some of my views,” Turner wrote.

“In 1993, My wife got pregnant and around a month later, Sean reported that he and his wife were expecting their first child,” according to Turner. “We got to talking about things expectant dads talk about and the relationship grew. ...

“Over the course of the next three or four years, Sean and I spoke regularly off the air about our kids, politics and news of the day. My on-air calls to his show remained regular and welcome.”

Around 1997, Hal Turner says, “Sean invited me and my then-three-year-old-son, to come to Fox News Channel to be in the studio (NOT ON THE AIR) during a live broadcast of ‘Hannity & Colmes’. I accepted the invitation and my son and I went.”

According to Turner, his phone calls were no longer welcome after he ran for a New Jersey congressional seat in 2000.

But dig this: “I can tell you from my firsthand, personal experience that Sean Hannity does, in fact, agree with many of my political and social views,” Turner blogged.

“[H]e and I exchanged the kinds of views that most White, Irish-Catholic guys hold, but won’t speak in public.”

Turner continued: “It seems to me that a big difference between Sean and me is that I am willing to say publicly what I think about savage Black criminals, diseased, uneducated illegal aliens and the grotesque cultural destruction wrought by satanic jews while Sean and many others keep quiet to protect their paychecks.”

What say you to this, Sean Hannity? Do you “denounce and reject” the bigot Hal Turner? Or do you, in fact, share his world view? And is that the reason you persist in smearing Barack Obama?

For now, Mr. Hannity, all we have to go by are Hal Turner’s own words. Including these:

An Easter special

The name “Charlton Heston” doesn’t usually bring to mind old Negro spirituals. But I found a great artifact that combines the two.

It’s a 1959 recording titled “Charlton Heston Reads from the Life and Passion of Jesus Christ.” (Available on CD and by digital download.)

Mr. Heston’s recitation of New Testament scripture is backed by traditional African-American spirituals such as “Were You There?” and “I’ve Been ’Buked and I’ve Been Scorned,” as sung by the Robert De Cormier Chorale.

I’m streaming a 6½-minute track – “The Crucifixion/He Never Said a Mumberlin’ Word” – on my Vox blog. Click here to listen.

Cooler still, this album includes solo performances by Roland Hayes, the great black tenor, a son of former slaves.

I was vaguely aware of Mr. Hayes before, but I had never heard his singing. Click here and enjoy his beautiful rendition of “He Never Said a Mumberlin’ Word.”

Happy Easter to all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Now this is just wrong...

(Thanks again, dez.)

UBM on the radio (and HuffPo)

Yeah, I get around. On NPR’s “Morning Edition” yesterday, my voice could be heard at the end of a 5-minute piece about Peggy Seltzer (the fake-ass gangsta writer chick). Follow this link to NPR’s website if you wanna stream that audio.

Also, I took my battle for truth regarding the Tuskegee syphilis experiment to the Huffington Post... BAM!

More than 100 comments await moderation. I expect to see tons of hilarious horseshit.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Stuff White People Don’t Like

Okay, I can admit it. I’m jealous of Stuff White People Like. (And I’m not alone either.)

That satirical blog, just a few months old, has blown up huge. Everybody’s talking about it, linking to it. Stuff White People Like gets page views by the millions, comments by the hundreds.

All because the No. 1 biggest thing white people like is pretending to poke fun at themselves.

My good friend Nipsey Muhammad was in my ear about this the other day. “These crackas make me sick,” he told me. “What you need to do, Dave... you need to start a new blog. Call it ‘Stuff White People Don’t Like.’ And be real about the shit.”

Well... I’m not starting a new blog. But maybe this will make for an interesting post. So Nipsey and I put our heads together...

Here are a few things that white people don’t like:

1. Black bosses.

2. Mexicans.

3. Being told they’re wrong.

4. Panhandlers.

5. Black people on magazine covers.

6. Islam.

Readers are invited to add to this list.

Coming attraction: ‘The Dhamma Brothers’

I recommend you keep an eye out for a new documentary film called “The Dhamma Brothers.” It’s about an outreach program that trained hardcore prison inmates in Buddhist meditation techniques.

Intriguing, right?

The movie opens in New York City on April 11, then spreads to San Francisco, L.A., Seattle, Portland and Boston in May.

Also, “The Dhamma Brothers” will screen at the Green Mountain Film Festival in Vermont next week, and at the Sarasota Film Festival in early April.

Here’s the trailer:

Keep It Honest in ’08

Desmond Burton of Afronerd has done the work of launching a new group blog – Keep It Honest in ’08 – focused on the dirtier aspects of this presidential campaign.

This follows through on last week’s exciting conversations at Afronerd Radio featuring me, Michael Fisher, DeAngelo Starnes and other black bloggers.

I intend to contribute original material to Keep It Honest in ’08. Matter fact, I posted something last night. Follow this link to read it.

A free Moby download

If you’re into Moby, you know he’s got a new album coming out on April Fool’s Day. The lead single, “Alice,” is available as a FREE MP3, courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio.

I’m not very into Moby, but I do likes freebies.

To hear “Alice” streaming on my Vox blog, click here. U.K. rapper Aynzli Jones handles the front-line vocals.

If you want that track, hit this link to commence downloading. (The link should be live through the weekend.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nazi jazz mindf*ck

When it comes to World War II propaganda, everybody probably has heard of “Tokyo Rose.” But do you know about Charlie and His Orchestra? This was a German jazz band put together by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Jazz was banned in Nazi Germany as “degenerate art.” But Goebbels figured he could weaponize the music and screw with British and American minds.

So Charlie and His Orchestra recorded versions of many popular songs – from “St. Louis Blues” to “Stardust.” And they swung.

These performances always began with the original lyrics in tact. But midway through, singer Karl Schwedler (a.k.a. “Charlie”) would deliver anti-British, anti-American, anti-Communist or antisemitic messages straight from the Ministry of Propaganda.

The songs were broadcast via medium-wave and short-wave radio to Great Britain and North America. It was all about taunting and demoralizing the Allies... and trash-talking Winston Churchill and F.D.R. by name.

For example, click here and check out the Nazified version of “You Can’t Stop Me From Dreaming.”

Charlie’s rap might seem just plain weird, or even a little comical, today. But what if you add some Jew-baiting? Click here and listen to “You’re Driving Me Crazy.”

Okay, now... ready to turn the bad vibes up to 11? Click here for the Nazi version of “Makin’ Whoopee,” which includes these lines, sung from a Jewish point of view:

We throw our German names away
We are the kikes of U.S.A.
You are the goys, folks
We are the boys, folks
We’re makin’ whoopee

WFMU’s Beware of the Blog has downloadable MP3s of these tunes and others by Charlie and His Orchestra.

Interesting footnote: Charlie and His Orchestra were also known as the “Templin band”; the conductor was Lutz Templin (pictured above). After the war, with the U.S. Army controlling part of West Germany, Lutz Templin and his orchestra were put to work at Radio Stuttgart, broadcasting swing music for the entertainment of American soldiers.

Templin’s band performed on West German radio through the mid-1960s.

The cutest thing you’ll see today

Something new from Daniel Lanois

I got into Daniel Lanois just five years ago... long after he’d established his awesome reputation as a producer (for U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan and the Neville Brothers) and as a solo artist.

His new album, “Here Is What Is,” came out this week. Wanna hear a track?

Click here to stream “Moondog” on my Vox blog. Danny’s steel-guitar chops are not to be ignored.

Lanois got a film crew to document the making of this album. Embedded below is a trailer for the “Here Is What Is” documentary.

Judging by that, the ratio of fartsy to artsy could be troublesome. But I still might un-ass $60 for the limited-edition deluxe CD/DVD package. Then again, I might not.

Lanois will screen the movie at L.A.’s Vista Theatre next Thursday – two showings, with live performances also. Maybe that’s the move.

Reviews of the album have been mixed. “Highbrow shtick,” wrote Jim Farber in the New York Daily News. “We’ve heard all these tricks before....”

All Music Guide’s Thom Jurek was more harsh: “Lanois has lost his way as a musician.”

But Matt Gewolb of Crawdaddy hails the new album as “a brilliant achievement.”

I can tell you this: My favorite Daniel Lanois track of all time is “Fire,” from his 2003 CD “Shine.”

If I could’ve made more episodes of “Kingpin,” I would have written a love scene between Yancey Arias and Sheryl Lee around this tune. (The second verse in particular.) Click here to listen.

Katherine Dunham speaks

Here is a wonderful television interview with Katherine Dunham, the legendary dancer and choreographer who died in 2006 at the age of 96.

I knew almost nothing about Ms. Dunham’s life before stumbling on this video. I didn’t even know she had trained as an anthropologist.

But this 1982 program – produced by a Chicago TV station and archived at the Museum of Broadcast Communications – covers some fascinating ground, from Dunham’s glamorous life in New York, Hollywood and Paris to her passion for the people and culture of Haiti.

She attracted media attention for marrying a white man. As a lifelong social activist, Dunham was accused in the 1950s of being a Communist.

She founded a school of cultural arts in Manhattan where Eartha Kitt as a teenager learned to dance (and Marlon Brando learned to play the bongos).

Just listening to Katherine Dunham speak, you can tell she’s a brilliant woman. She lived a great life.

The full 22-minute TV show is embedded below.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A free Manu Chao/Prince Fatty download

The global fusionist Manu Chao has a digital EP coming out next month. It’ll have multiple remixes of “Politik Kills,” a track off his 2007 album “La Radiolina.”

One remix is available right now as a FREE MP3 (courtesy of Pitchfork Media) – a heavy reggae version by England’s Mike Pelanconi, a.k.a. Prince Fatty.

To hear the Prince Fatty remix on my Vox blog, click here. (Compare it with the original album mix here.)

The free download is available for one week only, starting today. So grab it now if you want it.

To commence downloading, hit this link.

Here’s something else cool if you’re interested in Manu Chao... especially the roots of his activist left-wing politics. It’s a 39-minute podcast recorded last summer for the Times of London; follow this link and you can download it.

I’m streaming a 2-minute excerpt; click here to listen.

Let’s play Throw Your Grandma Under the Bus!

It’s one day after Barack Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech... “a speech worthy of Abraham Lincoln,” according to that dear old, silly old Chris Matthews. So is America better off?

The right-wingers sure ain’t feeling that Obama love, I can tell you that. Newt Gingrich on Fox News last night said the speech “was really infuriating. The more I looked at it, the phonier it got.”

Now Rush Limbaugh says some conservatives are calling Obama’s address the “Throw Your Grandmother Under the Bus Speech.” (Rich Lowry at National Review Online started that one.)

They say it was in bad taste for Obama to publicly chide his own white grandmama for her occasional cringeworthy statements and stereotypical racial views... especially as a means of defending his closeness with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

To me, Obama was saying that none of us is without sin, while also making a point about the progress in racial attitudes over decades. It’s time to speak openly about such things.

In that spirit, let’s play a game... a game in which we share some of our own families’ dirty laundry.

Did your grandfather hate white people (as with my commenter Dragon Horse)? Did your aunt despise Jews?

Maybe your great-uncle was a Klansman. Or your mom talked around the supper table about how all gays should be shot.

Now is the moment to share it... here inside the non-judging walls of the House of Love. Go ahead... throw ’em under the bus!

I’ll start. I never knew my grandfather on my father’s side. He died soon after I was born. My grandfather was born in the late 1800s, a light-skinned colored man (“mulatto,” according to the U.S. census). We’re talking about a man from a different world.

Well, this item of information was shared within the family for laughs. But supposedly my grandfather used to say: “Don’t let a black nigger with purple gums bite you. They’re poisonous as a snake!”

See, that’s what I’m talking about. There had to be somebody in your family who said stuff like that. Come on... please share.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mikey Dread (1954-2008)

The reggae world is mourning the loss of Michael Campbell, a.k.a. Mikey Dread, who died Saturday at his sister’s home in Connecticut.

He was diagnosed last year with brain cancer.

Dread was a pioneering radio DJ in Jamaica during the 1970s, spinning late-night reggae music for the otherwise-stodgy Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

He went on to write, perform and produce his own songs... and to own his own record label, Dread at the Controls.

Rock ’n’ roll fans may know Mikey Dread as the producer of the Clash’s 1980 single “Bankrobber.” Click here to hear it streaming on my Vox blog.

I’m also streaming one of Dread’s own tracks, “Break Down the Walls” (1980). Click here to listen.

“Break Down the Walls” is available as a FREE MP3. Click the song title below to download it.

“Break Down the Walls” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store
Album available at eMusic
Album available at Amazon

No cure for the syphilis meme

Okay, time to get serious about stopping the repetition of this damn myth that the U.S. government infected black men with syphilis. (Truth is, contracting VD is one aspect of life where black folks never needed government assistance.)

Anyone who doesn’t bother to get historical facts right isn’t entitled to be taken seriously in the public discourse.

On MSNBC’s “Hardball” today, it was Ed Gordon. He responded to Roger Simon’s condemnation of Jeremiah Wright’s suggestion that the government invented the AIDS virus as a genocidal weapon.

Gordon said that this suggestion is “not so far-fetched” when you consider that “the government was giving syphilis to black men.”

Likewise, on CNN last Friday night, Roland Martin said: “I was watching another channel where they played a sermon where [Rev. Wright] said that America infected African-American men with syphilis, called the Tuskegee Experiment. That actually did, indeed, happen.”

No. It. Did. Not.

And the only reason Ed Gordon and Roland Martin didn’t get their face broke on national television is because Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper and white people in general are more ignorant about black history than they are.

Coming attraction: ‘Tropic Thunder’

By now you’ve probably heard about Robert Downey, Jr.’s blackface role in the upcoming Ben Stiller comedy “Tropic Thunder.” (Actually, he doesn’t play a black character. He plays a white actor playing a black character.)

Well, the official trailer was released yesterday; a YouTube version is embedded below. To watch a high-def version, follow this link to the “Tropic Thunder” website.

In the still photos I’ve seen, I thought that Downey’s makeup looked interesting. I wasn’t put off by it. But watching the trailer and hearing Downey’s “black voice”... I can pretty much guarantee I won’t be spending my money to see this post-postmodern exercise in meta-irony. Or whatever it’s supposed to be.

Plus there’s a black actor in it doing some bona fide cooning. (Looks to be some Asian cooning happening also.)

Where’s Rev. Wright when you need him?


Faced with a media crapstorm that could bring down his campaign, Barack Obama this morning delivered a big speech that succeeded on multiple levels.

Strategically, it puts Sen. Obama in front of the Jeremiah Wright controversy... at least for this news cycle. All day and into tonight, cable-news talking heads will chatter about Obama’s elegant oratory.

On a deeper level, Barack Obama displayed the qualities of self that got millions of Americans excited about him in the first place. He was intelligent, thoughtful... cool under pressure... conciliatory, unifying. Forward-looking.

Most of all, he didn’t seem like a manipulative politician. He seemed sincere.

The instant reviews were rapturous. The speech was “sweeping, some would say stunning,” according to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.

Broadcast essayist Nancy Giles, who is black, said on MSNBC: “I’m so staggered by the speech that I can hardly put it into words.”

Author and high-society priestess Sally Quinn, who is white, said: “This may be hyperbole, but I think this was the most important speech about race in America since Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”

CNN’s Candy Crowley said admiringly: “He took kind of his entire campaign and wrapped it around the issue of the day.”

Even right-wingers offered grudging praise. “It was deft, it was graceful,” said Brit Hume of Fox News, adding that whether or not it ends the Rev. Wright mess “remains to be seen.”

Pat Buchanan on MSNBC said: “I think he delivered an outstanding speech.” But parts of it were “grating,” he said. Particularly when Obama seemed to put all the blame for black people’s problems on white society and none on black people themselves.

Did y’all watch? (I know y’all watched. But if you didn’t, the entire 37-minute address is embedded above.) What did you think?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Black men ‘injected’ with syphilis? Never happened.

You know what bothers me? When educated black people talk shit about America’s past but have the facts wrong.

Take the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s former pastor. In one of his now-notorious fulminations, shown on Fox News, Rev. Wright said: “The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment! They purposely infected African-American men with syphilis!”

Tonight on “The O’Reilly Factor,” it was Obery Hendricks (pictured), a professor at New York Theological Seminary... and a member of Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee.

Hendricks declared to Bill O’Reilly: “We do know the government injected black men with syphilis.”

And 19 years ago, during my most famous interview as a journalist, Professor Griff of the rap group Public Enemy said this:

“How about the genocide of black people perpetrated by Jews and other white folks? No, but we don’t talk about that genocide, do we? We don’t talk about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, where black men was injected with syphilis.”

For pity’s sake, people... get it right for once. No one was injected or infected with syphilis. Okay? The U.S. government DID NOT give black men syphilis. That’s not what the Tuskegee experiment was.

In the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” federal researchers denied treatment to a group of black men who had syphilis already.

Which is horrible enough. Why go the extra step of accusing the government of actually poisoning people? Especially to bolster the paranoid claim that the government invented AIDS to kill people of color?

Keep your ears open, y’all, as this Jeremiah Wright story remains a media fixation. You’re bound to hear other ignorant black folks say that the U.S. government injected black men with syphilis.

Such is the staying power of bullshit.

On May 16, 1997, President Bill Clinton apologized on behalf of the United States to the survivors of the Tuskegee study.

That night, on PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” Charlayne Hunter-Gault interviewed Dr. Stephen Thomas, a health researcher at Emory University, and Fred Gray, a lawyer for the Tuskegee victims and their heirs. (Both of them are black.)

Ms. Hunter-Gault asked flat-out: “Did these men have syphilis before they volunteered for the experiment, or... were they injected with syphilis by the government, as many people believe?”

Dr. Thomas answered: “The common view in the black community is that the men were injected by the government doctors. And that is why you see the kind of anger, and that has been repeated by Minister Louis Farrakhan and others that really are voicing a common folk myth in the black community.

“But in my work... I have found absolutely no evidence that the men were intentionally injected by the government doctors,” he said. “And maybe we can clear that up right now on this show.”

Attorney Fred Gray added: “We made a thorough investigation of it, and we found no evidence... whatsoever that the government inflicted them with syphilis. The tragedy is bad enough, and we don’t need to make it any worse, but there is absolutely no credence to the fact that they were injected with syphilis.”

Got it, Rev. Wright? See what happens when you run your mouth off without a command of the facts? You make a joke out of yourself.

And you don’t do your congregants any favors either.

But I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to admit you were wrong, Reverend. That ain’t your style.

Russian yuppies love Obama, too

Sen. Obama will give a major speech tomorrow morning on race. It will either put the whole Jeremiah Wright mess behind him... or not.

There will be folks in Moscow watching it live. Seriously.

In the words of Michael Idov, a writer for New York magazine: “There is a subset of young, educated Moscovites that are completely obsessed with Barack Obama. He’s got quite a fan club here.”

Idov posted this 3½-minute video on two weeks ago. Stay tuned for his buddy Alexei, who explains, with dry wit, the Russian brand of Obamamania:

“People do not discuss who’s winner of Grammy Awards, but discussing how perfect is the clip ‘Yes We Can,’ which we can see on YouTube.”

Evidently Obama’s charisma extends beyond America and her peculiar racial hang-ups.

MBP of the Week: Newsday

David A. Paterson was sworn in today as governor of New York. How appropriate that I can also swear him in as a member of the Misidentified Black People’s club.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the pictures to go along with this one. But here’s the correction that Newsday published last Thursday:

“David Paterson is pictured above in the Hempstead High School 1969 yearbook. A photo yesterday incorrectly showed another student in some editions.”

(Hat-tip: Regret the Error.)

Playlist: Irish funk

I attended an all-black elementary school... and we were expected to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. What was that about?

But I do love the Irish. That proud and hardy race has contributed so much to world culture... like Shamrock Shakes, Wild Irish Rose and police brutality.

And when an Irishman decides to get down and get funky... watch out, boyo!

Here go some tunes straight outta Dublin (and Belturbet). Click the song titles below to stream the music on my Vox blog:

1. “Comeback Girl (Remix)” – Republic of Loose

Republic of Loose claims influences as diverse as Sly & the Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson and Wu-Tang Clan. Earlier this year, they backed Sinead O’Connor on a cover version of Curtis Mayfield’s “We People Who Are Darker Than Blue.” (Video is here.)

You can download this remix of “Comeback Girl” from the band’s official website for FREE.

2. “Tripping in the Meadow” – Pete Pamf

Pete Pamf lists P-Funk, Prince and Public Enemy among his influences. This track, and a couple of others, are available for FREE on his MySpace page.

To see the “Tripping in the Meadow” music video, follow this link.

3. “Cosmic Girl” – Ian I. Brow

Ian I. Brow is a funk-rock bar band that covers tunes by James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Talking Heads. This song was a hit for Jamiroquai in 1996. You can download the track for FREE from the Ian I. Brow MySpace page.

4. “Tóg é go bog é” – Kíla

Kíla is a forward-thinking folk-music group. And I think this track definitely qualifies as funky. You can download it from the band’s website.

5. “First Place” – Messiah J & the Expert

Now for some straight-up Irish hip-hop. Messiah J & the Expert have gigged with PE, De La Soul and Gangstarr. This track is available on their website.

An hour and a half with David Simon

Yesterday felt weird without a new episode of “The Wire” to cap it off. (Although watching Tigerman sink that birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win it all... that had me cheering.)

Anyway, look what’s on YouTube! USC’s Annenberg School for Communication has uploaded an 83-minute video of David Simon discussing “The Wire.” (Hat-tip: TV Tattle.)

The seminar is titled “Journalists and the Public Square.” Here is all of it:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

McCoy Tyner with Savion Glover in San Francisco (03/14/08)

Bay Area jazz writer Andy Gilbert hooked me up like I haven’t been hooked up in a while.

McCoy Tyner has been high on the list of musicians I’ve wanted to see in person. On Friday night, Tyner’s trio performed at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. And there I was in the front row.

The surprise was tap dancer Savion Glover, who has been touring with Tyner for the past month. It’s a breathtaking collaboration.

Glover functions not as a dancer but as a fourth musician... a master percussionist trading licks with the drummer, with the bass, and with Tyner’s thunderous piano. Glover gets a wide variety of sounds out of his kelly-green tap shoes.

Early in the show, while Glover stepped jauntily to “Blues on the Corner,” he had a smile permanently fixed on his face. I did too. Looking around, I saw everybody in the audience with the same smile.

Glover and the band earned a standing ovation for their performance of “African Village,” one of Tyner’s signature tunes. It’s a thrill to watch the sweat rain off Savion Glover’s face.

Based on Tyner’s tour itenerary, no more shows with Glover are scheduled. But if that changes, I’ll let you know. You have got to see this if you can.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Harlem minister says Obama ‘was born trash’

So there’s a nut who calls himself “The Honorable James David Manning, PhD,” and he runs a church in Harlem, and his YouTube videos attract tens of thousands of views.

For comedic purposes, no doubt.

In the video embedded below, “Pastor Manning” calls Barack Obama a “long-legged freak” and “an emissary of the devil.” He says things about Obama’s ancestry that would get the average black man shot.

I never heard of Manning until one of my O.G. commenters – “SJ” – linked to him in a thread here. Other bloggers are way ahead of me.

Lynn at Hicktown Press wrote about his “delusional” ass a few days ago. InkogNegro has been having fun with Manning for weeks.

Bossip embedded a similar Manning vidclip two months ago... and got 205 comments. (“This is a disgrace before God and lightening should hit him and set that grease in his hair on fire!”)

If you really want some laffs, spend a little time exploring Pastor Manning’s website. I am especially intrigued by his “Witch Doctor Project”:

“We must remove the false leaders of the day like ‘The Magnificent Seven’ – Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Bill Clinton, T.D. Jakes, Louis Farrakan, Don King, and Cornell West – and replace them with men and women who will repent, and preach righteousness, and truth.”

That’s right, he misspelled “Farrakhan” and “Cornel.” Yet Manning claims to hold a doctorate from the esteemed Union Theological Seminary. (I bet he don’t.)

Anyways... on with the show:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jeremiah Wright’s ‘Audacity to Hope’ sermon

For the likes of Sean Hannity and Michael Medved, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright will be known forever as the man who preached “God damn America.”

For us thinking individuals, more context is desired... and more information required.

On my Vox blog, I’m streaming a 10-minute excerpt from Rev. Wright’s 1990 sermon “The Audacity to Hope” (which inspired the title of Barack Obama’s 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope”).

Click here to listen.

I have removed the minister’s exegesis of the story of Hannah (I Samuel 1:1-18). But you can stream the entire 18-minute sermon – or purchase it as an MP3 download – by following this link to (which is a mainstream Christian website... not a black-nationalist hornet’s nest).

The image above – “Hope,” by the Victorian painter George Frederic Watts – is an element of the sermon.

‘I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright...’

Barack Obama, in a statement posted this afternoon at the Huffington Post, tries to thread the needle. He “strongly condemn[s]” the “inflammatory and appalling remarks” uttered by his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright... while defending the man as a community leader, a scholar and an ex-Marine (?).

This won’t end the controversy. Indeed, the Clinton campaign now has a license to confront Obama – legitimately – on his close ties to a man rooted in the resentful rhetoric of black nationalism and the radical-left doctrines of “liberation theology.”

And even if Hillary doesn’t go the “Sister Souljah” route, the Republicans surely will bang this gong from now till the end of time.

See what that played-out Mau Mau shit’ll get you? You can’t expect white folks in Sheboygan to comprehend the nuances of the black-nationalist critique of America.

For all the commenters who’ve complained that Obama hasn’t yet been “tested” in this campaign... well, he now has a No. 2 pencil in hand. The test has begun.