Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rolling Stone: "The Great Iraq Swindle"

"Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up."

Rest of article here

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Opposite of Sexy


Sexy is in the eye of the beholder. In the brain of the beholder. It's too variable to be pinned down. Your sexy muthafucka might be my instant wood-killer, and vice versa. But really... Mariah. Ain't sexy. Maybe she is in that faded porn-star, "Oooooh, I bet she let'choo do N-E-THANG you wanna do" kinda way. Except Mariah is constitutionally incapable of giving off actual sexual heat, let alone suggesting that she has an arsenal of sex tricks up her sleeve. She's seventy years old and comes off like a retarded ingenue. The thing is, when she ain't being ridiculous (i.e., posing for pictures like the one above; being the Diva of Ditz on MTV) and really puts her mind to it, she still makes fantastic music. Emancipation of Mimi had some undeniable gems on it, some classic r&b grooves she worked the hell out of. I'm looking forward to the new album... to see if she's still hungery, if she's held on to that do-or-die / I'm reclaiming mine focus she had when making Emancipation, or if the comeback has made her lazy and self-indulgent again.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tears Dry On Their Own


Fuuuuuuuck.

This might just be more tabloid sensationalism but... From the linked story:

"Bloody and battered after ripping into each other during a drug-fuelled row, this is Amy Winehouse, the cream of Britain's young singing talent, and her junkie husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

Stumbling around the streets of London at 4.45am, the pair bore the wounds of an almighty row which spiralled wildly out of control.

They have been holed up in a suite at a five-star hotel in Soho for the past three days after checking out of rehab for crack and heroin addiction."

Rest of this klorox-crackhead tale here.

For Tino and BBrown

Monday, August 20, 2007

LOL... I luh huh

Video of the Day

Black Butterfly Grounded


      This past weekend I briefly attended Sunset Junction, the annual street fair that normally takes place right in front of my Silverlake apartment and stretches several blocks down Sunset, one of the major road arteries in Los Angeles. This year it was moved a few blocks west and expanded, complete with big-name corporate sponsorship. The bad news, as anyone who attended the festival in the past will tell you, is that Sunset Junction has become a too precise mirror of this genrified, hipster-infected neighborhood. Years ago, what made the festival so dope was that it was a true community event, and the community itself was an effortless fusion of cultures and types: immigrants from across Latin America; a healthy sprinkling of all stripes of Negroes; gay folk whose idiosyncrasies made them too quirky, too real and too undigested for the gay ghetto of West Hollywood; true struggling artists of all hues and backgrounds.
      Now, of course, Silverlake is crammed with trust-fund bohemians, the same strain of obnoxious faggotry that permeates West Hollywood / Chelsea / the Castro, and lots of rich folks with dollar signs in their eyes and calculatedly ill-fitting, second-hand clothing on their ever-posing frames. Latino families are still here but, in many cases, just barely holding on as rents skyrocket and apartment buildings that were once allowed to all but rot are cleared of old tenants and then kissed with costly make-overs to lure a new breed (i.e., lighter complexioned) renters. Negroes are fading fast, though resilient scraps of Negritude are holding on. (There are small, roaming bands of young half-Negroes with their good hair done up in dreads, though. Clad in ripped, skinny jeans and punk tee-shirts. Little Lenny Kravitzs and baby Ben Harpers.) Silverlake is a very self-conscious theme park of faux-diversity that has a money-driven, class-banked, reinforced center of whiteness. But I can't lie. It's relatively safe, centrally located, and I have a good deal on an apartment in a city where good deals are all but dead.
      Sunset Junction has replaced all those booths of amazing, diverse Latin American cuisine with pretty much the same greasy, overpriced crap you can get at any neighborhood's street fair in the country; seller's tables that years ago were heavy with handmade blankets and clothing largely have been traded in for tee-shirts and overpriced trendy shit. It's cookie-cutter community clap-trap.
      Where the festival has improved, though, is in the musical line up. Check here to see what this year's roster looked like.

      Saturday night, I attended the line-up of the Emotions, Deniece Williams and Morris Day & the Time. Click here to read my review of the Emotions and Deniece Williams. (That's all the LA Weekly wanted me to write about.) I'll just add that I fell in love with Niecy all over again, in large part because of the way she handled what happened to her at the concert but also because I was simply reminded of how amazing her older music was/is. I'm not a fan of her gospel music and would be happy to never hear "Let's Hear It For the Boy" ever again, but those first few albums, and then the brief musical comeback she had starting with "Silly," are simply unfuckwitable.
      I didn't stay for the entire Morris Day set. The Time wasn't the real Time, of course, just some dudes wearing some vintage suits, trying to get paid by backing Morris. They were fine but... so very much not the Time. And Mr. Day was sprinting through the songs like his ass was aflame. He sang all the hits: "Get It Up," "777-9311," "Wild & Loose," "Cool," as well as some of that bullshit music the Time did from Purple Rain forward. He was in great but badly miked voice, still pulling off that synchronized choreography and still charismatic as hell, but kind of on auto-pilot. What did make a favorable impression was how much sexier he is now than he was when the Time were those ninjas. Back then, he was a cocky punk, flamboyantly and theatrically full of himself in the way that young men often are. Unearned self-adoration. It was all for show, of course, tongue-in-cheek, and balanced out by some seriously, seriously funky music. (Those first two Time albums are mandatory listening.) But Saturday night, those same elements of the cocksure strut and gleefully lascivious sexuality gelled and resonated in a different way; Day had an air about him that was truly c-o-o-l. He was a man, seasoned, been through some shit. And he was leaner, seemingly more fit, than the last time I saw him a few years ago. Which made it all the more disappointing that the show he put on was just a slightly better performance than you'd get in one of those casinos dotting the outskirts of Vegas proper. Seriously, if he could reunite the whole of the old Time and bring all that he now is to the table, that would be one hell of a show.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bolka Means "Pain" in Bulgarian


“Influences are tricky things. Nina Simone is the closest thing to an actual influence, in that she accepted that she was a freak of nature and was fearless in laying her heart out for the world to see. I love Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Son House, Yma Sumac . . . I suppose my tastes tend to be dark and lyrical. I do love words. And people. Darkness, words and people.”

The quote above is from an interview I did with LA-based musician Dorian Wood. Full article is here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Miss Cleo & shit...

I missed this USA Today write-up (cut & pasted below) when it first ran. My friend Brett tipped me off about it a few days ago. I chuckle at being described as a novelist. Somebody's been peeping my bedside notebooks and looking into the future.

Vandross legacy plays out with 'Love'

Luther Vandross' sweet, soulful voice was the gold standard in romantic music for more than two decades before his untimely death at age 54 two years ago. Love, Luther, a new Sony/Legacy box set due in stores Oct. 16, is a paean to his long career.

The four-disc, 53-track set traces his beginnings as a jingles singer and New York sessions vocalist through his 25 years as a solo artist who earned 15 platinum records and sold 30 million records. In addition to his hits and "Lutherized" covers are six previously unreleased songs and duets with the likes of Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick and Frank Sinatra.

The set makes clear that the eight-time Grammy winner — who was a vocal arranger for such stars as Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Donna Summer, Bette Midler and David Bowie before he became famous — also was an exquisite songwriter, hitmaking producer and passionate performer. An accompanying book includes rare photos and an essay by novelist Ernest Hardy and a poem by Nikki Giovanni.

"His music has gone all around the world," says his mother, Mary Ida Vandross. "The message in his music that God wants to get out is that we have really to love each other." -- Steve Jones

By the way, the Janet Jackson duet ("The Best Things in Life Are Free") just fell out of the project.

Link

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Updated blog... soon


The last few weeks have been hectic as hell. Tomorrow (August 10) we're sending out the unedited galley of Blood Beats Vol. 2 to a handful of folks for blurbs. Still have to clear a few samples. I don't wanna be singing Erykah's line from Love of My Life, "... but the shit didn't clear!" And we are still very much on track for the October publication date. (I'd like to big-up Gordy...)

There's been so much cool and crazy-making shit that I've wanted to blog about but I haven't had the time or energy to write coherently ... There's the transparent, they-don't-even-give-a-fuck-enough-to-hide-it racism in the prosecution of the "murder and consipiracy" cases against the black youth from Jena high school in Louisiana... the DVD release, at long last, of Isaac Julien's classic art-house/queer-cinema/Harlem Renaissance essay Looking for Langston, from the good folks over at Strand Releasing... the land grab taking place in New Orleans, as taxes that are as much as 17 times the standard rate are being levied on the folks that are still there... the amazing writer's retreat I attended a few weeks ago in Austin, Texas (which I am going to blog about soon)... My morphing and down-graded opinion on Amy Winehouse (though I do love the fact that she is both clearly conflicted by and unconcerned about the rules of the game)... the Marcus Patrick spread in Playgirl being on it's way to claiming "best-selling issue ever" for that magazine, just as he hits the big screen this weekened as an omni-sexual nightclub guru / sexual pied piper in the Rosario Dawson flick, Descent. (Do not pay money to see this pretentiousness on the big-screen. Net-flix it in six minutes when it goes to DVD and you can fast-forward to the last ten minutes, the best part of the film)...
The hit that Ledisi has on her hands with her new single, "Alright," which ain't even the best track on her fantastic new good CD, Lost and Found, which drops August 31... and the ever growing Duggar family, who inspired the image below (about three puppies ago):
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I'm out for now. Will update the blog very, very soon.

EH

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fear of Black Dick Will Turn You Gay




Fear of the "pretty stocky black guy" who turned out to be an undercover cop made Fla. Rep. Bob Allen perform the actions that led to a charge of solicitation to commit prostitution, Allen told police in documents aired by the Orlando Sentinel.

Rest of story here

PS: I suspect that, in the bit of Allen's quote that is given, there should be a comma after the word pretty.