Saturday, September 29, 2007

‘Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)’

I never made it to see the Pras documentary “Skid Row” like I wanted to. But I stumbled upon an excellent doc a few weeks ago – “Manda Bala (Send a Bullet).”

It’s about the epidemic of kidnappings in São Paulo, the financial capital of Brazil and one of the most populated cities on Earth... a place where rich people live in high-rises that tower above the slums where poor people live.

Director Jason Kohn doesn’t tell a linear story. It’s more of a meditation on political corruption and class warfare.

But he paints a fascinating picture of the whole sub-economy that has sprung up to deal with the kidnappings: fleets of private helicopters to move the very rich from place to place; car customizers who specialize in bulletproofing; a plastic surgeon who specializes in rebuilding ears, because so many kidnappers slice off the ears of their hostages. (Kohn shows actual video footage of one such mutilation.)

He interviews a former hostage in her high-rise apartment... and also interviews a professional kidnapper (wearing a ski mask) in his slum dwelling. With a sharp eye for characterization, Kohn interviews cops, politicians and businessmen.

Plus, the film is pictorially beautiful.

As if all that weren’t enough, the “Manda Bala” soundtrack is wall-to-wall amazing Brazilian music. I went back to see it again... just for the music!

“Manda Bala” is rolling out slowly across the country. It opened yesterday in Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, San Diego and Washington, D.C. The week before that, it opened in Detroit and Minneapolis. Next weekend, it opens in Miami and Pittsburgh. And so forth.

If you enjoy stepping inside a moviehouse and being taken to a totally different place, I recommend you go out of your way to see “Manda Bala.”

Here’s the trailer.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Happy birthday, Koko Taylor.

On September 28, 1928, Cora Walton was born just outside of Memphis, Tenn. Growing up, she sang in the church choir.

But destiny carried her to Chicago, where she married Robert Taylor and began performing in blues clubs alongside the likes of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells.

Koko Taylor had a big hit in 1966 with her cover of Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle.” And through the ’70s and ’80s, her stardom in the blues world grew and grew.

But I only heard of Koko Taylor by way of Paul Shaffer, of all people. Shaffer is a great friend to blues, soul and funk music. On his 1989 album “Coast to Coast,” he featured Ms. Taylor on a remake of “Wang Dang Doodle.”

I’m streaming that track on my Vox blog. Click here to hear it.

Koko Taylor is still making music. This year she put out a CD called “Old School.” (Downloadble from iTunes and

To hear “Piece of Man” from that CD, click here.

For some oral history, there’s a great online “audio tour” at the Chicago Office of Tourism webiste titled “Chicago Blues.” (Also downloadable as a FREE iTunes podcast.) Narrated by Buddy Guy, it’s a thumbnail history of the music, encompassing Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, the Chess and Vee-Jay record labels, and more.

Click here for a minute’s worth of Koko Taylor’s recollections for that “Chicago Blues” piece. She begins by addressing the fact that, though women such as Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie were major stars of the early blues, very few women were singing the blues when she came up in the 1960s.

Here she is, doing her big hit:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Playlist: It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month!

What... you didn’t know it was National Hispanic Heritage Month? Well, it is. That’s why the Google logo has a piñata in it right now.

For some screwed-up reason, National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. (It started under Lyndon Johnson as “National Hispanic Heritage Week.” The week of September 15 was chosen because September 15 is independence day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. For reals.)

So... the perfect excuse for me to stream some of my favorite tracks en español. These are some of the tunes I would’ve used if my TV show “Kingpin” had lasted longer.

Click the song titles below to let the music play on my Vox site.

1. “Pinche Stereo Band” – Plastilina Mosh

Pinche is such a bad word that iTunes spells it P****e. A little linguistic tidbit for y’alls. Anyhoo, Plastilina Mosh (pictured above) is a funky alt-rock group out of Monterrey, Mexico.

This track is also downloadable from I think it’s neat that Amazon is in the MP3 business now... selling high-quality MP3s for 99 cents (or 89 cents) that would cost you $1.29 through iTunes Plus.

2. “Más Bonita” – Ely Guerra

Ely Guerra is also part of Mexico’s sexy new-school rock scene. This track is downloadable from Amazon as well as iTunes.

3. “La Vida No Es Igual” – Jaguares

Mexico City’s Jaguares are one of the top bands in Latin America. And lead singer Saúl Hernández has been kicking out the jams for 20 years.

Downloadable from iTunes.

4. “Marea” – Los Pinguos

Los Pinguos, an Argentinian group based in L.A., is on the poppier side of things. But I like how this song moves.

Downloadable from Amazon (for 89 cents) and iTunes.

5. “Burbuja” – Si*Sé

The New York electronica band Si*Sé, fronted by Dominican Carol C (pictured), was signed to David Byrne’s boutique label, Luaka Bop, before being picked up by Sony.

Downloadable from Amazon, iTunes and eMusic.

UPDATE (09/27/07): Ooops. The Google-logo piñata might have nothing to do with National Hispanic Heritage Month. Could merely be in celebration of Google's ninth anniversary. My bad.

Is Obama ready for this?

I figured it was finally time to check out one of those Democratic presidential debates (even though it still feels too damn early to me).

So I watched the Dartmouth debate last night on MSNBC. And I was surprised by how unimpressive Barack Obama was. Shoot, doesn’t he have, like, 50 presidential debates under his belt by now?

But he was stammering, and talking about fuzzy shit like “bringing people together”... which doesn’t really mean anything. Obama seemed insubstantial.

When asked by Tim Russert about his qualifications for the presidency, Obama mentioned his experience in the Illinois state legislature, and building coalitions during his campaign for the U.S. Senate.... “the kinds of experience people are looking for right now.”

Uhh... no.

I thought, when Obama stepped into this race, it was a mistake. His time – if he’s destined to have a time – is probably eight years from now, after acquiring some kind of record of accomplishment as a senator.

But then the whole “rock star” mystique swirled up around him, and I figured, “Well, let’s see what happens. Maybe he’ll rise to this.” Besides, a little rock star mystique isn’t bad to see in a presidential race. (Or am I wrong, and you’re just dying to go hear Fred Thompson or Bill Richardson speak?)

Sen. Obama is gonna need to do more than touch the hem of Oprah’s garment and post slick campaign videos on YouTube. He has to start looking like somebody who’s supposed to be President of the United States. (Which is hard to do if you’re not.)

Has anybody been following this debates closely or semi-closely? Was last night an off night for Obama?

Season 5 theme song for ‘The Wire’

Ooh, looky-here... Steve Earle’s new CD came out on Tuesday. And it includes his cover of Tom Waits’s “Way Down in the Hole.”

Yep, this version will be the main-title music for the fifth (and final) season of HBO’s “The Wire,” premiering in January.

It’s a hot track, y’all. The entire album, “Washington Square Serenade,” was produced by John King, one half of the Dust Brothers (who produced “Paul’s Boutique” and “Odelay”).

To hear “Way Down in the Hole” on my Vox audio stash, click here.

You can purchase this track from iTunes or (as I did for the first time) from

FYI, there’s a FREE MP3 of another song off the album – “City of Immigrants” – available through Minnesota Public Radio. But you’ll have to move quickly to snag that one; MPR’s free tracks are only up for a few days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bill O’Reilly’s Harlem adventure

I’m on record as being a Bill O’Reilly fan. Not saying that I agree with him regularly, or even think he’s particularly intelligent. But I do find his TV show entertaining. He’s a natural-born broadcaster.

Okay, so now O’Reilly’s in a dither because of the left-wing website Media Matters, which uploaded a couple of audio bites from O’Reilly’s radio show last week – in which O’Reilly referred to a recent dining experience with Al Sharpton in Harlem – and made him seem like a racially insensitive boob. (Hat-tip: justjudith.)

Basically, O’Reilly said he was shocked to discover that the soul food restaurant Sylvia’s was just like any other restaurant in New York... “even though it’s run by blacks,” with “primarily black patronship.”

A number of mainstream media outlets – including CNN – reported these comments.

On his cable show tonight, rather than acknowledge that he expressed himself poorly, O’Reilly made it all about the “smear” tactics of the liberal media. He even asked Sharpton to speak up in his defense. (Sharpton said he’d have to listen to O’Reilly’s remarks “in context” before passing judgement. Sharpton did say this wasn’t the first time he and O’Reilly had broken bread in Harlem.)

To hear O’Reilly’s radio remarks for yourself, click here. This clip (via Media Matters) also includes O’Reilly’s subsequent remarks in a conversation with Juan Williams concerning the remarkably normal behavior of diners at Sylvia’s (as well as the “well-dressed” black people he saw while attending an Anita Baker concert).

To Mr. O’Reilly, I say: Keep your head up. You will weather this storm. And if you’re ever in Southern California, and have a hankering for home-style meatloaf, I suggest you hit Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch, where I can attest that black customers do NOT toss chicken bones on the floor.

Also, Bill, the next time you’re in D.C., check out Georgia Brown’s. Believe it or not, I have not personally witnessed any African-American patrons cussing, belching or farting at the table there. Go see for yourself if you don’t believe me.

(Now... I have to say, I’m glad Sharpton didn’t take O’Reilly to a movie theater in Harlem. Y’all know what I’m talking about...)

UPDATE (09/26/07): And fuck Keith Olbermann for trying to pump this thing up into an Imus-like shitstorm. (As if Olbermann’s heart bleeds for the hurt feelings of black people.) What O’Reilly said was comical. He deserves to be mocked, not compared with Al Campanis.

My kind of humor

Whoever submitted my blog for this recognition has my gratitude. (And yes, that is a parody site).

Eldridge Cleaver, fashion visionary

Back in March, when I posted part of my 1982 interview with former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, my friend Susie commented that she was dying to see the pants Cleaver had designed. You know... the pants with the external penis pouch.

I had never laid eyes on them myself. Until today.

I tip my hat to nom de grr, who presented this vintage magazine page (click it for a larger view):

Corey Harris, certified genius!

Ten days ago, I pointed y’all to a couple of free MP3s from Corey Harris, neo-traditional blues artist.

Well, Mr. Harris is in the news, because yesterday he was named a MacArthur Fellow. That means he’ll receive a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation – $500,000 over the next five years, “no strings attached.”

Congratulations, Corey Harris!

(Here are all 24 of this year’s MacArthur Fellows.)

Let me celebrate by streaming a track off his new reggae CD, “Zion Crossroads.” (Downloadable from iTunes.) Click here to check out “Heathen Rage.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

‘Run, N-gger, Run’

I stumbled upon a classic American folk song earlier this year... one I’d never heard of before.

It’s called “Run, Nigger, Run.”

This tune – under the variant title “Run, Boy, Run” – is an old-time country music standard. It has been recorded by famous fiddlers such as Eck Robertson and Earl Collins, and by banjo-pluckers like Uncle Dave Macon and Jim Smoak.

But those were instrumental versions. You can click here and sample Fiddlin’ Eck Robertson’s rendition from the 1920s, streaming on my Vox audio stash.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Catchy little melody, isn’t it?

Now, ready for a version with lyrics? Click here for “Run, Nigger, Run” as recorded in 1927 by the Skillet Lickers (pictured). Again, I’ll wait.

Oh, I wish I could see your face right now. In case you couldn’t make out the words, he’s saying:

Run nigger run, the pateroller catch you,
Run nigger run, well you better get away...

Nigger run, nigger flew,
Nigger tore his shirt in two,
Run, run, the pateroller catch you,
Run nigger run, well you better get away.

Just so you know, the Skillet Lickers were NOT the house band for the Ku Klux Klan. They were a popular and influential group that recorded this song (and more than 100 others) for Columbia Records!

Also, they didn’t write it. “Run, Nigger, Run” was already a part of Southern folklore. Click here to listen to a verse recited by a white woman in Tennessee, as documented by folklorist John Quincy Wolf.

Now here’s the real surprise: “Run, Nigger, Run” was originally a black folk song. More precisely, a song sung by slaves.

And that, of course, gives a whole different meaning to the lyric. “Run, nigger, run” isn’t supposed to be a threat; it’s a cheer... and a word to the wise.

Listen for yourself. The only black version I can find is a half-minute fragment by prison inmate Mose “Clear Rock” Platt, recorded by folklorists John and Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. Click here.

There is much documentary evidence that this was a popular song amongst colored folk. Joel Chandler Harris, that famous white expert on Southern Negroes – (he wrote the “Uncle Remus” stories) – mentions the song by way of defining the black term “patter-rollers” (“patrols”).

“In the country districts,” Harris wrote, “order was kept on the plantations at night by the knowledge that they were liable to be visited at any moment by the patrols. Hence a song current among the negroes, the chorus of which was: ‘Run, nigger, run; patter-roller ketch you – Run, nigger, run; hit’s almos’ day.’ ”

Another white gent, Abraham Hoss Yeager, wrote in his autobiography about a folk song which “grew out of the custom of appointing patrols to see that the Negroes stayed in their quarters at night.”

“It gave them extreme pleasure to elude these nocturnal guards,” Yeager continued, “and they celebrated their narrow escapes by song. The Negroes called these guards ‘patty rollers,’ and they embalmed the name in the chorus: ‘O! run Nigger run the patty roler’l catch you; O! run Nigger run it’s almost day.’ ”

Deeper still, the song was referred to by elderly ex-slaves in various documented “slave narratives.”

Harre Quarls of Texas remembered: “[U]s couldn’t go anywhere ’cept us have pass from our massa to ’nother. If us slips off, dem patterrollers gits us. Patterroller hits 39 licks with de rawhide with de nine tails. Patterroller gits 50 cents for hittin’ us 39 licks.

“Captain, here am de words to de patterroller song: ‘Run, nigger, run, patterroller cotch you...’ ”

Likewise, Cresa Mack of Arkansas told an interviewer: “I remember that they used to sing: ‘Run nigger run, The paddy rollers catch you...’ Course if they catch you without pass, they’d beat you nearly to death, and tell you to go home to your master.”

The most detailed recollection comes from a man named Sylvia Floyd of Mississippi. Here is what Mr. Floyd told a U.S. government interviewer, exactly as it was rendered in the official transcript:
SYLVIA FLOYD: ... Dey never let ’em leave de plantation wid out a pass, an’ dey had patrole riders to go out an’ git ’em ifen dey didn’t come in. Dey didn’t hab to be much late ’fore yo’ could hear ’em commin’ after ’em.

De darkies use to pull pranks on de patrole riders by strechin’ grape vines across de road to throw de horses. At other times de slaves ’ud git a little riled up an’ jump de traces a little by fightin’ back wid fire, but dey couldn’t never do much fer dey never was allowed to git together enough to carry out nothin’. De patrole riders kept ’em purty well rounded up an’ seperated only ’cept long enuf fer a little frolicin’.

Dey use to sing dis ole song ’bout ’em:

Run, nigger, run, de patrole’s a commin’,
Run, nigger, run, de patrole’s a commin’,
Dat nigger run, dat nigger flew
Dat nigger tore his shirt in two
Run, nigger, run!

‘Amos ’n’ Andy’ on UBM-TV

Ahhh... they don’t make TV shows like this anymore. Not since “Steve Harvey” went off the air.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A free Queen Latifah download

I’ve always liked Queen Latifah. Her looks are appealing, her spirit is appealing, she can act... she’s an entertainer. When “Chicago” kicked her Hollywood career to a higher level, I went “Yay!”

All that said, I didn’t run out and buy her “Dana Owens Album” in 2004, when she repackaged herself as a pop-jazz songbird. Just didn’t feel the need to go there with her.

Same is true with her new CD, “Trav’lin’ Light,” which hits the street tomorrow.

But I would download a FREE track off of “Trav’lin’ Light.” In fact, I did. It’s a cover of “Poetry Man.” Follow this link and you can get that MP3 – nice and legal – from

Now here’s the thing. Phoebe Snow sang that song as well as anyone could possibly sing it. I don’t think it was a good idea for Latifah to record it... especially with an arrangement nearly identical to the original.

It’s a pleasant version, I guess. And Latifah enunciates such that I can understand a few lyrics I didn’t get before (like “sultry vamp”).

But... well, ummm... you know, like... who cares?

Click here to check the song out on my Vox blog.

Sending this one out to spoonfedcornbread

As I reported on September 13, YouTube shut down the account of “spoonfedcornbread,” the source of my Wednesday 45 Flashbacks.

In spoonfed’s honor, another YouTube record-spinner – name of “nelsonwalrus” – dedicated a few platters to the man. One of them was “Harvest for the World” by the Isleys.

Rock on, spoonfedcornbread!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fred Williamson on O.J. Simpson

This is overdue, but I salute Eric Easter, the man hired nine months ago to upgrade the Web presence of Ebony and Jet magazines.

He has attracted a talented bunch of writers to (I would’ve been one of them, but my head is in a place right now where I can’t deal with any kind of obligations to others. I just need to chill in the Batcave for a while.)

Easter launched a new feature on Friday – a recurring commentary by Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, ex-football star, American film legend. A brilliant concept!

The Hammer’s debut commentary is on the Juice. O.J., that is.

Here is part of what he had to say:
FRED WILLIAMSON: I play a lot of golf – three, four times a day. Great character analysis comes out on the golf course. The way a man reacts on the course is a true measure of his character.

OJ he’s a golf club thrower, he kicks the green, he makes holes in the green. The guy is not in control of himself. Golf brings out this quality in people. The way a guy handles himself, handles adversity on the golf course is the way that man is in life. It’s a true measure – works every time. The most obnoxious human being on the golf course is the man who throws his clubs, kicks the ground.

There’s no worse swing than Charles Barkley’s, we all know that. And when he misses a shot, he laughs. It’s funny to him. OJ goes berserk. It’s quite clear he is a man not in control of himself.

Unnecessary ‘Soul Train’ flashback

I happened to flip on the TV around 2 a.m. this morning, and was startled to hear that sproingy bassline from the “Soul Train” theme, circa mid-1980s. The one by O’Bryan.

Yep, they’re showing old “Soul Trains” in syndication now.

The trippy thing about this one was, I recognized one of the dancers. It was none other than Rosie Perez... shakin’ it and breakin’ it.

Cute to see. But here’s the problem. After hearing the first two records – Nu Shooz’s “Point of No Return” and James Brown’s “Gravity” – I couldn’t stands no more. Who needs to be reminded just how sucktastic and craptacular mid-’80s music was?

Not me, brah. I was outtie 5000.

Then I gots to thinking to myself: “Self, if they’re gonna show old ‘Soul Trains’ in syndication, why don’t they bring the real treasure? The hard, nasty ’70s funk... along with the honey-sweet ’70s soul?”

I’m talking ’bout something like this joint right cheer.

So what about that, Don Cornelius? And where them DVDs at?

Everybody needs hobbies.

And one of my hobbies – ever since that nut John Mark Karr “confessed” to murdering JonBenet Ramsey – is finding the MySpace pages of folks caught up in high-profile criminal cases.

MySpace is such a vast phenomenon, it gives a global public presence to damn-near every teenager in America.

Here’s the one for John Mark Karr’s eldest son, for instance.

For me, this is kind of like “trainspotting.”

Anyway, here’s the page for one of the Louisiana high-school kids known as the “Jena 6.”

It’s got the obligatory Tupac quote: “I feel like Black Jesus got his hands on me and guides me through life to put me where I’m supposed to be!!”

Musically, it features a surprising choice of display tune: John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” Chosen for its lyrics, I suppose. (“Me and all my friends, we're all misunderstood...”)

And it’s got this big piece of artwork (quoting Tupac again):

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A free 3 Tenors of Soul download

Speaking of badass falsettos, there’s a CD coming out on Tuesday that all Philly-soul fans should know about.

Veteran guitarist/songwriter/producer Bobby Eli conceived a project called 3 Tenors of Soul, bringing together ’70s balladeers Russell Thompkins, Jr. (the Sylistics), Will Hart (the Delfonics) and Ted Mills (Blue Magic). The resulting album is titled “All the Way from Philadelphia.”

Three tracks from this album are available as FREE MP3s on the 3 Tenors of Soul MySpace page.

The one I highly recommend is “How Could I Let You Get Away,” originally recorded by the Spinners for their classic 1972 album “Spinners.” Crazy as this sounds, I say the 3 Tenors version – with Thompkins singing lead – might be better than the original.

Listen for yourself on my Vox blog; just click here.

Russell Thompkins’ voice is still a wonderful thing. He sounds great on another of the free songs – “A Love of Your Own,” an old Average White Band ballad.

Unfortunately, you need to avoid the third free offering, a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Fantasy.” Ted Mills had no business messing around with some Philip Bailey.

This concludes my cavalcade of daily free-music links. If some of them blew past you, let me point you again to tracks by Susana Baca, Katie Webster, Angélique Kidjo, Gail Ann Dorsey, Toshi Reagon, Greg Osby, Corey Harris and Fay Victor.

Every now and then in the future, I’ll point you to some more free goodness.

Cephas & Wiggins on UBM-TV

Bringing up Cephas & Wiggins the other day got me in a mood to check out the D.C. bluesmen on YouTube. There’s quite a bit of fan-shot video from events like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

The clips I’ve pulled up on my Video Bar come from a fan known as ibchilln.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A free Billy Bang download

Jazz violinists. Yes, they do exist.

If you get a chance to see Billy Bang live, I suggest you take advantage of it. I caught him last year with Kahil El’Zabar, and it was a hell of a show.

A Vietnam combat veteran, Billy Bang has explored that experience in his music – most recently on his 2005 CD “Vietnam: Reflections.” (Available through iTunes and eMusic.) You can download a FREE MP3 off that album (“Doi Moi”) by following this link to Firehouse 12, the New Haven performance venue. (Look under “Music Samples.”)

But I want to play you a different track. Click here to hear “Reflections” on my Vox blog. It also showcases John Hicks on piano, Henry Threadgill on flute and Ted Daniel on trumpet.

Tomorrow being the final day of summer, it’ll also be the end of my cavalcade of free-MP3 links. Hope y’all enjoyed it as much as I did.

Things that make you go ‘Hmmm’

BARBARA WALTERS: If your son says to you, “Mom, is the world round or flat?” –

SHERRI SHEPHERD: I’ll have to go, “Baby, we gotta go to the library and find some books!”

Hat-tip to Prof. Paul Butler at, who proclaimed comedian Sherri Shepherd the “Flat Earth Negro of the Week.”

UPDATE (09/22/07): Poor Sherri Shepherd. You should see some of the comments people posted on her personal website over this flat-Earth business.

Sherri’s site administrator has shut down the discussion, saying that some folks have sent messages “laced with profanity and racial slurs.” Those have been deleted.

But some critical comments remain. Such as these:

“Mind boggling. Sherri, I never imagined anyone with such a sub-standard education would be allowed on as a regular member of a panel discussion show like the ‘The View’. I mean this is elementary school stuff. You have humiliated every black person in the US with that performance.”

“Sherri, stop whatever it is that you're doing at the moment and go look at a globe. It's round for a reason, Einstein.”

“I can’t imagine anyone having the guts to criticize evolution when they don't even know if the earth is round or flat! If I were you I’d be ashamed to air my ignorant opinions to millions of viewers.”

“A grown woman who claims not only not to know whether the earth is flat or round but also to never have thought about it is too stupendously ignorant to be on any talk show. What are the names of the schools at which Sherri Shepherd claims to have been educated?”

Ol’ girl is gonna have to straighten this mess out Monday on the show.

UPDATE (09/23/07): Actually, she explained herself on Friday’s show, saying “Of course I know the Earth is round,” and attributing her confusion to nervousness.

But still, the way Shepherd got attacked on her own website, I think she might be inclined to talk about it some more on Monday.

Friday Concert: Swamp Dogg

Here’s the last of my weekly concert-video embeds. Because I done squeezed all the funk I can squeeze out of that Dutch website It was cool while it lasted.

Below is an Amsterdam gig from five months ago by Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams, an old-fashioned funky soul man with an eccentric vibe... plus a political edge.

Swamp Dogg’s been out there doin’ it for decades. My only problem with this concert is that he doesn’t sing my favorite song of his: “Surfin’ in Harlem.” (Click here to check it out on my Vox site.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A free Cephas & Wiggins download

Being a D.C. boy, I’m down with Cephas & Wiggins, the world-travelling Piedmont blues traditionalists. John Cephas and Phil Wiggins were always playing at the Folklife Festival and things like that. They always rocked.

Follow this link if you’d like to download a FREE MP3 by Cephas & Wiggins, courtesy of The song is “Ain’t Seen My Baby,” off their 2006 CD “Shoulder to Shoulder.” (Available on iTunes.)

You can hear “Ain’t Seen My Baby” on my Vox blog by clicking here.

‘30 Rock’ on UBM-TV

Cheers to Tina Fey and the rest of her “30 Rock” team for winning the big Emmy on Sunday night. It was an absolutely cool surprise. Nice to see the good guys win one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rush Limbaugh’s black fan

I heard something crazy on the radio this morning. But let me say first: I don’t make a habit of listening to “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”

As disenchanted as I am with liberal orthodoxy, I cannot stomach Limbaugh... or that smug loudmouth Sean Hannity. (O’Reilly’s cool, though. He’s a gifted broadcaster, no denying it.)

So what happened was... I fell asleep with the radio on in the wee hours. And then a voice snatched me out of my dream sleep. It was a black man’s voice. On “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”

’Twas a talk-radio moment to savor. Click here and listen for yourself to “A.J. from Houston.”

(Then perhaps we can pitch in and explain to this brother what a passport is, and why illegal immigrants aren’t likely to have one.)

A free Screaming Headless Torsos download

I pointed to a free video clip of the Screaming Headless Torsos last month. Now let me direct y’all to an audio track – “Just For Now,” off the band’s “2005” CD.

Dean Bowman’s wigged-out vocalistics are (as always) a trip.

Follow this link to Bowman’s own website. You’ll see “Just For Now” among other FREE MP3s on his downloads page. (The rest are non-Torsos tracks. Bowman be croonin’ on a lot of different projects.)

To hear “Just For Now” on my Vox site, click here.

Negro, Not a Negro: The groove factor

We’ve looked at faces, we’ve looked at booties. We heard singing voices and speaking voices.

Now I wanna go to the deepest level of our conscious and subconscious perceptions of race. Can you listen to a group of musicians in a groove... and tell if they’re black or white?

With so many white boys out there givin’ up the funk, it might not be so easy. Then again, it’s hard to fool Mother Nature. (Not to be confused with: “Is it live or is it Memorex?”)

So... let’s have a contest. There are six musical snippets below, roughly 40 seconds apiece. Some are by black musicians, some are by whites. The first person to correctly race-identify all six tracks, A thru F – black or white? Negroes or not Negroes? – will win a prize.

That prize is an excellent Johnny Otis CD from 1992 – “Spirit of the Black Territory Bands.” (Downloadable from iTunes and eMusic.)

Mr. Otis, of course, is the son of Greek immigrants who decided to become a black musician. (And became a legendary one.)

For an example of the old-style swingin’ on the “Territory Bands” album, click here and spin “Harlem Nocturne” on my Vox blog.

The rules are simple: Post your six guesses in the comments thread. Only one set of guesses per player. And if you happen to recognize any of these bands... please keep the information to yourself until the contest is over.

Here we go:

Track A

Track B

Track C

Track D

Track E

Track F

UPDATE (09/21/07): No winner this time, y’all. Dang... some white muthafunkers got their game tight enough to pass the blindfold test! Wild Cherry would be proud.

So here’s the rundown:

A: white
B: white
C: black
D: white
E: black
F: black

Even though most of you pegged Track A as a white band, this one had me fooled. When I copped it via Napster years ago, I assumed “Message from the Godfather” by the James Taylor Quartet was some obscure James Brown tribute/ripoff from the 1970s.

Nope. JTQ is a British band (pictured at right), and this cut came out in 2001.

Track B is “Tighten Your Wig” by Galactic, a highly regarded New Orleans funk unit (pictured below).

Track C is “Pledge” by Jef Lee Johnson, a one-man band out of Philadelphia.

Track D is a cover of the J.B.s’ “Damn Right I’m Somebody” by T.J. Kirk, the hipster quartet of Charlie Hunter, Will Bernard, John Schott and Scott Amendola.

Track E is an untitled live jam by Jean-Paul Bourelly, Vernon Reid, Dennis Chambers and T.M. Stevens. You can download this one for FREE from Bourelly’s website. Just follow this link, scroll down to where it says “Jean-Paul Bourelly & Vernon Reid – Live,” and click “track 2.”

Track F is “Funk Reaction” by Lonnie Smith. Or Lonnie Liston Smith. There is much confusion on this matter. Either way, he black. This track was recorded in 1978.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Something clever from Stew

I thank my friend Susie for pointing me to this YouTube video by singer Mark Stewart, a.k.a. Stew. The song is “Black Men Ski.” It’s a bone-dry satire about racial stereotypes.

Stew earned a rep in L.A. with his rock band, The Negro Problem. Nowadays he seems to be focused on theatrical and cabaret-style writings and performance. Hey, whatever it takes...

As for this vidclip, please suffer through the cryptic commercial at the beginning.

A free Andrew Cyrille download

For the past few years, I’ve been swimming in the ocean of hard bop... loving every minute of it. Only recently have I dipped my toe into free jazz.

But I know enough to point you without hesitation to a FREE MP3 from Andrew Cyrille, free-jazz drummer par excellence.

Follow this link to the website for Firehouse 12, a performance space in New Haven, Conn. Scroll down to “Music Samples.” You’ll find the MP3 for “Low Blue Flame.”

On this cut, Cyrille duets with saxophonist Greg Osby. It’s from a 2006 CD (released in Europe) also titled “Low Blue Flame.”

Click here to sample the track on my Vox blog, and see if this type of thing strikes your fancy.

Cute white chick outwits GIANT NEGRO!!

Since I launched this blog last December, one post has drawn more attention from across the internets than any other: “Attack of the GIANT NEGROES!!”

All summer, the giant Negroes have been discovered and pointed to by fans of American weirdness. My post was cited last week by the law-professor clique at And yesterday, a MetaFilter commenter linked to it, sending hundreds of new eyeballs here.

Nobody doesn’t like the giant Negroes.

All of which reminds me: there’s one giant-Negro story I never got around to writing about. So here it is now.

It’s about Sallie Kline, a 21-year-old “flapper” and Smith College graduate who, having fallen asleep on a sofa in her father’s Manhattan apartment, woke up to discover a burglar creeping around in the darkness.

She didn’t realize at first, but this wasn’t any old burglar. This was a “huge negro burglar.”

The New York Times reported Sallie Kline’s story on April 30, 1922. And much of the tale was told in Miss Kline’s own voice. Here’s what she said happened, after she saw the beam of the burglar’s flashlight moving around her father’s library and settling upon a desk:
SALLIE KLINE: It would have been stupid for me to yell, wouldn’t it, with father and mother and my brother Edward away back in the apartment. They probably would not have heard me. First I thought whether I looked nice. I really thought I’d vamp him.

So I said: “What are you doing there? I know you’re a burglar, but why don’t you try some of the rich families. We are poor – really we are.”

The light then was turned upon me. The burglar could see me plainly. I heard his voice. “I want your ‘vallables,’ ” he said. I especially noticed that word. Then I knew the burglar was a foreigner. He repeated he wanted our “vallables.”

“We have only a few here,” I said, “you are wasting your time.” Again – “why don’t you go to some rich people?” It seemed at first as if the man was going to do something rash, but I thought I could manage him.

“How did you get in here?” I asked.

“I came in through that window,” he said, and he pointed with the light to the open library window, which is about ten or twelve feet above the street. I had left this window open when I went to sleep. He said he had scaled the wall.

The conversation really was becoming interesting. I reasoned with him, and bargained with him, too. I told him that if he would go quietly out he probably would find some persons who did not need their “vallables,” and besides that I would scream if he did not go.

“My father is a large man and if I scream he will surely come, and my brother is there, too, and besides, you wouldn’t hurt me if I screamed, would you?” He said, no he wouldn’t.

“If you’ll go quietly I won’t squeal on you or tell the police – or anything,” I told him.

He seemed to agree with me that to go out quietly would be better all around, and with a few more words I had convinced him that this would be the best course. But before he went I decided to see whether or not he had taken anything from the desk.

So I said: “Come over here.” And, what do you think, he came right over near the sofa. “Are you sure you haven’t taken anything?” I asked.

“No, ma’am, I swear I haven’t.”

“Turn out your pockets.” And he turned out his coat pockets and his trousers pockets and turned the flashlight on them. He kept the light away from his face all the time, though.

“All right,” I said, “now you can go if you promise me one thing. Don’t take anything.”

“I promise,” he said.

“All right, then, shake!” The hand that was thrust into mine was large and black. I realized then for the first time that I had been talking to a huge negro burglar; but let me say right here that he was the nicest burglar I could have met. Do you think I would tell the police on him – anyway, I wouldn’t recognize him, because I didn’t see his face. ...

He climbed out the same way he got in – he literally hung for a few seconds and then dropped to the street. Just as soon as he had left the window I went to it and saw him walking, unhurriedly, mind you, toward Riverside Drive. There he turned the corner and disappeared.

Then I thought a minute to make sure it had not been a terrible dream, and then I ran back in the apartment and wakened my brother Edward. I realized that if I waited until the morning to tell the family they would say I had had a dream. ...

But really I’d like to do something for that burglar. I told him to be a sport, and he was a sport. I’m a sport, too, and so I wouldn’t yell. ...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Playlist: Today’s word is ‘motherfucker’

Author and filmmaker Nelson George plans to shoot a documentary this fall about “the life and times of the word ‘Motherfucker.’ ”

As he announced on his blog in July: “I’m looking for stories, songs, novels and personal memories of the word.” (Hat-tip: Rock & Rap Confidential.)

Very cool concept, Nelson. So here’s five motherfuckin’ cuts from my personal stash. (If anybody else has some motherfuckin’ recommendations, put them in the comments section.)

Now, click on the song titles below to hear the tracks on my Vox blog. (NSFW... MF)

1. “The Dirty Dozen” – Jelly Roll Morton

This one might rock your world a little bit. Jelly Roll Morton was a founding father of jazz. In 1938, folklorist Alan Lomax recorded extensive interviews with Morton for the Library of Congress... an oral history of the music’s early days.

Those interviews are now available on an 8-CD box set from Rounder Records – “Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings.”

The Lomax recordings include this demonstration of a raucous, filthy ditty which Morton says he first heard in Chicago around 1908.

2. “Nuclear War” – Sun Ra

Sonny cracks me up.

3. “Dolemite” – Rudy Ray Moore

Comedian Rudy Ray Moore’s 1970 LP “Eat Out More Often” was a turning point in the history of the word “motherfucker.” The track “Dolemite” alone smashed all record-industry taboos regarding America’s dirtiest cuss word.

This album – and its wild success – allowed Richard Pryor to step up and do his thing on wax, no holds barred.

4. “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker” – D’Angelo

Whatever happened to that motherfucker D’Angelo?

5. “Sexy M.F.” – Prince

Prince can’t rap for shit. But he is a sexy motherfucker.

A free Fay Victor download

If you’re unfamiliar with vocalist Fay Victor, I’m happy to introduce you. And what better way than with a FREE MP3?

Ms. Victor does a great avant-jazz interpretation of The Doors’ “People Are Strange” on her 2004 CD “Lazy Old Sun.” To download this track for free, you need to register at (which is also free).

All About Jazz has a whopping 845 tracks available for downloading. Many are from no-name artists. But if you kick around in that database, you’re bound to stumble upon some gems. Like I did with Fay Victor.

Anyhow, once you’re registered, just go to the downloads page and plug Fay Victor’s name in the search engine.

To give “People Are Strange” a listen beforehand, click here because I’m streaming it on my Vox blog. (Give Fay about 45 seconds to start cooking.)

For your further delectation, Ms. Victor’s website is here; her MySpace page is here.

Nona Hendryx on UBM-TV

“... I think that we as a people discard what we have too quickly and don’t sustain it. And if it’s good, you can’t blame somebody else for picking it up. ... You leave a good-looking woman laying around, somebody gonna pick that up!”

That’s Nona Hendryx talking about rock ’n’ roll and race.

My thanks to a commenter named George, who pointed me to the BoldasLIVE webpage, which is a spinoff of Rob Fields’s black-rock blog, Bold As Love.

Two months ago in New York, BoldasLIVE presented a conversation with Ms. Hendryx; the video is on YouTube (and on my Video Bar for the time being).

This is absolutely what the Internet should be about: free cultural knowledge, to inform and inspire. Rock on, Rob Fields.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

And the Emmy contest winner is...

... Neptune! He (or she) went Tiger Woods on our asses, getting 6 out of 10 picks correct. The closest anybody else got was 4 (Susie, Marcus, Anna Laperle and Adam).

Congratulations, Neptune. Hit me with an email at the address on my profile page, and tell me where to ship those “Hill Street Blues” DVDs.

‘Talking Jazz: An Oral History’

[NOTE: The following article, written by Lee Ballinger, is from the September edition of Rock & Rap Confidential, the free digital newsletter created by Dave Marsh. You can subscribe to Rock & Rap Confidential by sending your email address to rockrap(at)]

TALKING BOOK... Ben Sidran was once the keyboard player in a band with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. He played on sessions with Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. But his true passion was jazz, which led him to write the 1967 book“Black Talk: How the Music of Black America Created a Radical Alternative to the Values of Western Literary Tradition.”

Now there is, in a sense, a sequel: “Talking Jazz: An Oral History” (Unlimited Media). This is sixty interviews from Sidran’s mid-1980s NPR show, spread over 24 CDs. Sidran’s subjects range from Miles Davis to Grover Washington, Betty Carter to George Benson, Dr. John to McCoy Tyner.

Collectively, these interviews serve to take stock of the growth and consolidation of jazz as a world-shaking art form, as they were done at a time when the peak of jazz was still in the rearview mirror.

As I spent several days immersed in this collection, the first thing that struck me was how unique and striking each voice was – if someone listened to these interviews who had never heard jazz they would start downloading it immediately to find out more about these extraordinary people.

On the other hand, these artists had much in common – a love of life, a sense of humor and of history, a passion for music and other musicians, a burning desire to get better at what they do. Sidran shares these qualities and each morning I couldn’t wait to enter the world his conversations revealed.

These are ten of my favorite moments, in no particular order:

Sonny Rollins describing how sax men used to battle each other (battles which find their parallel today in the faceoffs between rappers). Rollins also gave a fascinating description of how circular breathing is done.

Dr. John at the piano giving a musical description of the history of New Orleans music.

Tony Williams playing drums for about a minute, revealing a whole new way to hear rhythm.

Gil Evans on how his never-locked mid-Manhattan apartment became a laboratory which helped to shape the development of bebop (also Evan’s answer to the question of why he was absent from 1949 to 1957: “I was waiting for Miles”).

Miles Davis on the limits of formal training and how he often wanted to send his over-playing sidemen to “Notes Anonymous.”

Dizzy Gillespie returning over and over to the theme of using music to promote world peace.

Drummer Steve Gadd on how he got his start as a tap dancer.

Art Blakey on forging a band through love.

Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen’s love for jazz, which served as a reminder that there was a time when the love of jazz by many rock musicians, from Roger McGuinn to the Allman Brothers to Jimi Hendrix, brought jazz and rock onto common ground rather than holding them apart, as many jazz musicians do today.

Marcus Miller on how he overcame his indifference to samba by watching the dancers. – L.B.

Two free Corey Harris downloads

I know next to nothing about the blues. But my main man David Simon is deep into it.

When the time came to record a theme song for our HBO miniseries, “The Corner,” Simon hired a young gun named Corey Harris to cover Steve Earle’s “South Nashville Blues.” It turned out wonderful.

Harris’s worldwide reputation as a roots musician grows year by year. His new CD, “Zion Crossroads,” is a reggae project inspired by his travels to Africa.

Wanna know where to cop a couple of FREE (and legal) MP3s off Harris’s 2005 CD, “Daily Bread”? Follow this link to, and scroll to the bottom. You’ll see download links for the tracks “Daily Bread” and “Mami Wata.” It’s that simple.

I’m streaming “Mami Wata” on my Vox blog; click here to hear it. It features guest vocalist and trumpeter Olu Dara.

You can learn more about Corey Harris at his MySpace page.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wilson Turbinton (1944-2007)

Such is the hard march of time that we are losing more and more of the folks who created the great music of the 1960s and ‘70s.

This week, in addition to losing Joe Zawinul and Bobby Byrd, we lost the New Orleans singer and songwriter Wilson Turbinton, who performed as Willie Tee.

Funk fans are indebted to Turbinton for one track alone: “Smoke My Peace Pipe (Smoke It Right),” a mid-’70s monster jam by the Wild Magnolias. Turbinton wrote it and played some nasty electric piano. Click here to spin it on my Vox blog.

As Willie Tee, he had one R&B hit in 1965: “Teasin’ You.” Turbinton quickly released a sequel, “Thank You John,” which didn’t chart but was a jukebox hit throughout the South. Today “Thank You John” is considered a “beach music” classic. I’m steaming that one, too – here – because of its oddly cruel sense of humor and old-school hipster attitude and slang.

Here is Mr. Turbinton’s obituary from the New York Times.

Some free Greg Osby downloads

Far-reaching saxophonist Greg Osby is an artist who gets it. Or maybe he’s just an extraordinarily giving human being.

You put some free music out there on the internets – especially if you can blow like Osby – and you’re gonna create new fans.

Mr. Osby has a ridiculous amount of free MP3s out there on the internets. I would estimate 800 MB... tons of live concert performances, mostly recorded in Europe, spanning the last 10 years of his fruitful career.

But you can start with his MySpace page, where he offers a few studio tracks for your downloading pleasure. I suggest “Penetrating Stare” for a start. It’s from his 1998 “Zero” CD, and he works out on the soprano sax.

(Click here to sample “Penetrating Stare” on my Vox site.)

When you’re ready to dig deeper, go to for the live stuff. For instance, check out this 14-minute version of Charlie Parker’s “Big Foot” (recorded at New York’s Jazz Standard in 1998) on my Vox thang.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bobby Byrd (1934-2007)

Bobby Byrd – James Brown’s longtime “hype man” and singing partner – died Wednesday in his Georgia home.

In Mr. Byrd’s honor, I’m streaming his 1971 single “Hot Pants – I’m Coming, Coming, I’m Coming.”

Made during the apogee of James Brown’s funky empire, this record is 2½ minutes of fire and smoke. And Bobby holds up his end with a down-home, gutty vocal. His voice will not be forgotten.

A free Toshi Reagon download

Today’s gift from the free-music gods: an MP3 by Toshi Reagon, from her 2005 CD “Have You Heard.”

The track is “22 Hours.” It shows off Reagon’s smooth-flowing syncretism of folk music, rock and soul. Follow this link for the FREE download.

You can listen to “22 Hours” on my Vox blog by clicking here.

UPDATE (09/15/07): Toshi Reagon was born into a world of music. Many people have heard the voice of her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded the group Sweet Honey in the Rock.

But you probably haven’t heard Toshi’s father, Cordell Reagon. He, along with Bernice, was a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers in the ’60s.

Mr. Reagon can be heard on the Smithsonian Folkways double-CD “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement.” (Downloadable from eMusic.)

I’m streaming “Uncle Tom’s Prayer,” a satirical song written by another SNCC Freedom Singer, Marshall Jones, and recorded by Cordell Reagon in May 1964.

Friday Concert: Nona Hendryx

Who’s badder than Nona Hendryx? Not many people.

Embedded below is a clip of Ms. Hendryx as part of a May 2005 Amsterdam concert billed as Daughters of Soul.

Organized by Sandra St. Victor of the Family Stand, this gig also featured Lalah Hathaway (daughter of Donny Hathaway), Indira Khan (daughter of Chaka) and Simone (daughter of Nina Simone). Plus an appearance by Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy of Mother’s Finest.

(To watch the complete concert, follow this link to

Daughters of Soul have done shows in Europe and Asia, but not in the United States. Which is a damn shame. You’re telling me they couldn’t fill a 3,000-seater in L.A., Atlanta, Chicago, D.C.?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A free Héctor Lavoe download

I gave half a thought to checking out that J.Lo/Marc Anthony flick “El Cantante” last month. Maybe learn something about salsa music.

Then the movie vanished. So I went and found a FREE MP3 by Héctor Lavoe instead. This track, “Mi Gente,” is from the CD “El Cantante: The Originals,” released in conjunction with the film.

Follow this link to get it from You can also sample it on my Vox blog... BAM!

The Emmy contest

Yo, TV geeks... let’s make the Emmy Awards on Sunday night a little more interesting.

Below are 10 major Emmy categories. Pick your choice to win each category. Then post your 10 picks in the comments section.

Whoever picks the most winners gets a prize: the complete Season 1 and Season 2 DVDs of “Hill Street Blues” (my favorite TV series of all times).

I’m gonna play this game too. And if I win, I’ll give myself a prize, and nobody else gets squat! But I don’t watch a lot of TV nowadays, so my chances aren’t good.

Again, simply list the numbers and names (3. James Spader, 4. Sally Field, 5. Ricky Gervais, etc.) in the comments thread.

Contest deadline: 12 p.m. noon (Pacific time) on Sunday, September 16. Which gives you plenty of time to ponder your choices.

1. Outstanding Drama Series
“Boston Legal”
“Grey’s Anatomy”
“The Sopranos”

2. Outstanding Comedy Series
“The Office”
“30 Rock”
“Two and a Half Men”
“Ugly Betty”

3. Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
James Spader (“Boston Legal”)
Hugh Laurie (“House”)
Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”)
James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”)
Kiefer Sutherland (“24”)

4. Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Sally Field (“Brothers and Sisters”)
Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”)
Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”)
Patricia Arquette (“Medium”)
Minnie Driver (“The Riches”)
Edie Falco (“The Sopranos”)

5. Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Ricky Gervais (“Extras”)
Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”)
Steve Carell (“The Office”)
Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”)
Charlie Sheen (“Two and a Half Men”)

6. Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”)
Tina Fey (“30 Rock”)
America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”)
Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds”)

7. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
William Shatner (“Boston Legal”)
T.R. Knight (“Grey’s Anatomy”)
Masi Oka (“Heroes”)
Michael Emerson (“Lost”)
Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”)
Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”)

8. Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers & Sisters”)
Katherine Heigl (“Grey’s Anatomy”)
Chandra Wilson (“Grey’s Anatomy”)
Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy”)
Aida Turturro (“The Sopranos”)
Lorraine Bracco (“The Sopranos”)

9. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Kevin Dillon (“Entourage”)
Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”)
Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”)
Rainn Wilson (“The Office”)
Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men”)

10. Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Jaime Pressly (“My Name Is Earl”)
Jenna Fischer (“The Office”)
Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”)
Conchata Ferrell (“Two and a Half Men”)
Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty”)
Elizabeth Perkins (“Weeds”)

Something anti-jihadist from Stuck Mojo

I don’t give a damn what god you claim,
I've seen the innocent that you’ve slain,
On my streets you’re just fair game...

As a rebuttal-in-kind to Mos Def and Immortal Technique’s left-radical agitprop video, I bring you “Open Season” from the Southern rap-metal band Stuck Mojo.

It’s wild to see rapper Lord Nelson flowing like Chuck D but with a pro-U.S.A., pro-military message.

This video has generated close to 3,000 comments on YouTube since last December. Comments along the lines of “Chicken shit MTV, demean women all day long but can’t show this video”... and “USA!!!! HELL YEAH!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jack McClellan, media-star ‘pedophile’

The weirdest ongoing news story of the summer in Southern California involved Jack McClellan, a self-identified “pedophile” who says he hasn’t actually had sexual contact with a child, but who used to blog about the cute little girls he’d see in public places.

(McClellan also used to take photos of children in public, then post them on his blog.)

Last week, McClellan left Los Angeles for Portland, feeling infringed upon by a court order prohibiting him from being within 30 feet of any place where children congregate.

Before coming to California, McClellan had been hounded out of Washington state for his Internet antics.

The weird part about all this is... Jack McClellan kept turning up on TV newscasts and talk-radio programs, freely discussing his legal difficulties and his attraction to pre-pubescent girls.

He gave Portland news organizations the heads-up on his arrival last week, telling the Oregonian newspaper that he chose Portland because of its “reputation as a Northwest haven for offbeat people.”

I am not the only one wondering, based on McClellan’s high media profile, whether we’re dealing with a mental disorder quite apart from pedophilia. Might McClellan be just a pathological attention-seeker? Can his declarations of “girl love” even be believed?

Tomorrow (Thursday), McClellan will be seen on “The Steve Wilkos Show,” a scuzzy new Jerry Springer spinoff. Presumably the entertainment value will accrue from big, bald Steve heaping verbal abuse on the pathetic “pedophile.”

This Wilkos appearance was taped a month or two ago; I heard about it at the time on my favorite talk-radio station, KFI. KFI followed the comings and goings of Jack McClellan with intense interest.

Last month, in fact, McClellan went to KFI’s studio for an on-air interview with John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of “The John and Ken Show.”

I’m streaming a 4½-minute audio bite of that interview on my Vox blog. Click here to listen, and see what you make of him.

A free Gecko Turner download

Wanna try a little global groove music?

“Dime Que Te Quea” is a free track from Gecko Turner, a Spaniard whose influences include bebop, blues, rock, reggae, and Cuban and Brazilian music. (“Afrobeatnik” is what he calls his style.)

Turner’s first U.S.-released album – “Guapapasea!” – is available on iTunes. To cop the FREE track, follow this link and scroll down to where it says “Download Free MP3.”

To test-drive “Dime Que Te Quea” on my Vox site, click here.

Mos Def on UBM-TV

Bill Maher’s HBO talk show “Real Time” is one of the best things on TV. (One of the few shows I regularly watch, actually.) Last Friday, Maher had on Cornel West and Mos Def – an intellectual trying to be an entertainer, and an entertainer trying to be an intellectual.

Fun to watch, but dayum... I quickly got fed up with Mos Def, whom I used to think was smart. He was popping plenty shit about how he doesn’t believe al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center... and he don’t believe O.J. killed nobody neither.

Mos Def would probably be cool to have in the car on a four-hour road trip... never a dull moment. But he can’t be taken seriously as a social critic, not when he’s that disconnected from reality. Or else that determined to define himself entirely by his oppositional stance against white America, common sense and honesty be damned.

It was good to see Maher challenge Mos on his wildest shit. And it was hilarious when Mos Def flipped it around and said he does believe in Bigfoot.

Only today did I discover the rap video “Tell the Truth” on YouTube – a track featuring Mos Def and Eminem but mainly a revolutionary-left firespitter known as Immortal Technique. “Bush knocked down the towers” is one of the lines repeated in the chorus.

Let me embed it right here, so you can see what I’m talking about:

The video is real slick in terms of design and graphics... but the politics is bullshit masquerading as courage. “Tell the Truth” should’ve been part of my “9/11 insanity mix.”

Anyway... if you missed “Real Time with Bill Maher,” check out some clips I pulled up on the Video Bar. (Ralph Nader appeared via satellite.) Any day now, this entire episode will be downloadable for free via iTunes. Not yet, though.

Mos Def on “Real Time” was one of the topics this morning during the bloggers’ roundtable on NPR’s “News & Notes,” where I was a guest. Follow this link if you’d like to check out that 14-minute segment (in streaming audio) at NPR’s website.