mr. zilla goes to town

Monday, June 28, 2004

foxy lovely, Kitsuné: Midnight

This week's aural exuberance is directed at new CD Kitsuné: Midnight. I hit on some vinyl releases from the French Kitsuné label while in London and was intrigued and took a punt on the newly minted Midnight concept collection. It is...

"...a never monotonous patchwork without any musical orthodoxy. Sexy midnight, dancing midnight, shady midnight, midnight for romance and also midnight for whores and moods. At midnight, everything topples over and cracks, the dead rise and kids want to forget everything in dancing. These are more songs, words and tunes than mere musical gems. Kitsuné Midnight: a balanced vision between indulgence and intransigence, delicacy and obscenity. A sound that is in turn carnal and relaxed and oppressive, sexy, morbid and mournful."


The collection as a whole fools around in the more relaxing end of french disco and post-pop than Dmitri From Paris was laying down last weekend. It smells like mastercrafted peccorino in a world of Kraft cheddar. Eeeeaaoow [Narcoleptic edit] by Freeform Five has me shamelessly and dementedly body rockin to its midtempo postprepostmodern gasping apresdiscosynth. What Time Is It? whispers a seductive enticement to dim the lights. While Hotel 17 by Zongamin is almost too lazy to slide its own guitar licks out of bed the morning after in time to check out.

It is very, very, cool. Go buy it.

Less good on first several listen is re:mix, third and final of the re:jazz series. I picked this up on the strength of it being the vehicle for Jazztronik's remix of Cupid and Orlando which I gushed about last week. I'll stand by that gushing and make no move to call in a plumber, but the rest of the album is weak and bland in comparison. Still, the album drew a strong reaction from one reviewer:

...this CD makes me want to run off and serve espressos in some uber-trendy coffee shop in Berlin and stare at girls with mullets all day.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

allah built my hotrod

Was out at a club tonight to ear a spankin good DJ. However before reaching the 4th floor loft where he was playing, there was necessary time in the 1st floor lounge which had ubiquitous HD screens, showing some shithouse movie. And when you walk in the joint and drain a pre-emptive Heinekin, and it's showing the very very end of this movie trilogy, all of a sudden the Wachowski Bros seem to be begging the question:

if Jesus was alive in the present, was he a Palestinian suicide bomber?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

tinnies of corona: quite expensive
in a suite at the MCI center: freebie
while Eric Clapton is on stage: priceless

yes, yes, out of the closet... I've been enamoured of EC since loooong before the present dalliance with all things "electronic". But having taken in eight or so minutes of "Sunshine Of Your Love" in the flesh, I think I can die happy.

Now if you'll excuse me, its been a really awesome night and I'm so happy I feel the need to go beat up... hmm... I think DC's Latvian community tonight.

Monday, June 21, 2004

shellyhatesfags.com

Normally I don't discuss the curiousity called Neurocam as there's little I can add from this distance, but information has come to light that Graham's double-oh-dalliance with Neurocam and Shelly Innocence may be no iocus at all. Here's something for the authors of Bandwagon, and Egotript, and their readership within the conspiracy, to chew over.

Yesterday the New York Times reported on an study in last month's Psychological Science periodical:

Researchers found that angry people are more likely to make negative evaluations when judging members of other social groups. That, perhaps, will not come as a great surprise. But the same seems to be true of happy people, the researchers noted. The happier your mood, the more liable you are to make bigoted judgments -- like deciding that someone is guilty of a crime simply because he's a member of a minority group.

Consider this: Neurocam certainly make a swathe of statements about what they/it are not, however none of these statements are applicable if you consider their main role at present seems to be the promotion and staffing of the Shelly Innocence hysteria. I don't buy into the supposed distinction between Neurocam and Innocence. It's a "you're with us or you're against us" kind of world. And now we see that the sale of Happiness(tm) may be not so innocent at all.

Folks like Graham and Tript might like to consider their complicity in publicizing, and participating in, the activities of an organization selling a product scientifically shown to increase bigotry.

Come to think of it, in a recent comments thread on his blog, Graham and I traded references to intolerant groups purporting to pass on received wisdom such as "God hates..." gays, shrek, shrimp, you name it. I didn't bat an eyelid at the time but Graham folded his cards as soon as I broadened the terms of reference to other types of hate groups. There are enough shady characters and secrets going around the Neurocam escapade, I begin to wonder if Graham doesn't actually know more than he is letting on. I wonder if he didn't want this conversation about hate groups to go any further, lest it tangent in a dangerously revealing direction for his Neurocam masters... or is that colleagues?

Also from the same New York Times article:
...an earlier American study found that children who are cheerful and optimistic end up having shorter life spans (perhaps because they take more risky chances).

So let me summarize: Innocence - and by extension Neurocam - are going to promote civil unrest and kill children. Hell, at least the evil bastard tobacco companies didn't try to profit from bigotry. Perhaps that's what all the protesting was about at the launch? No wonder. Now maybe, just maybe, the directors of Innocence and Neurocam were unaware of the deadly consequences of their product. But with this report they can no longer plead Ignorance(TM). If they won't go quietly, they must be sued, stopped, shanghaied and shut down, else future generations have to bear consequences only revealed in a Shelly Size Me doco they exit craving magenta lipstick.

So, operative G, let's see where you really stand, and who you stand (up) for... will you continue the puppet play of emails with shadows? Are you on the take, or will you take them down? Will you do somemthing about these deadly Weapons of Mass Delight?

francophono in

Last night Dimitri From Paris (not to be confused with Dimitri from Lygon St) packed Club Five and treated a couple of hundred of the more and less beautiful night creatures of DC to a fantastically competent and creative presentation of next month's disco tunes.

I didn't arrive till around 2 due to a party where a lot of folks weren't wearing togas, but it took all of three shakes to come to the conclusion that if the kermit kings had been able to wield their cavalry as well as this playboy DJ handled the Pioneer EFX-500 in battle then Harry V might be a cultural apostrophe rather than the good hundred odd pages of verse he has today.

phono in

Procreation - Rhythmatism (Compost Records)
Miguel Migs - City Sounds 3 Barcelona (NRK Music/Deluxe Tempo Music)
Little Louie Vega - Elements of Life (MAW Records)

It's choice stuff. The first is a multivite of subtle bite of percussion over syncopelectro. The second is your first drink at 10:57, filling your mouth with expectation of late night flavour. The third is melodic and bright, and in the case of the latinjazz b-side, a smooth-smailing deep breath.

But I don't want to get too attached to these, as I'm sure to mangle the favourite cue points beyond recognition before too long. Instead I'm going to save this weeks #1 rave for Jazztronik's remix of the Viennese trio Aromabar's Cupid and Orlando. This is completely beautiful music. In every bar, the non-fourfloored brokenbeat open collar with a tight and expectant bassline sidles up to the mischievous and spiralling escapade of femmejazz vocals. They make a beautiful couplet. This week I could marry both Cupid and Orlando. Next week, eh, we shall see!

Friday, June 18, 2004

line in...

via Corrente, we now discover that amongst the 20,000 private mercenaries in Iraq, leaping to the fore with a USD 290 million contract is Aegis Defense Services, headed by Tim Spicer, formerly known as Sandline International, that great pro-democratic force in parts of the South Pacific I'm somewhat familiar with.

Let's look for a moment at the due diligence inherent in the tendering process:

In his bid for the Iraq security contract, Spicer disclosed his military service and said he had done private security work in "Southeast Asia" and "Africa" since 1995. The disclosure gave no further details about what he did there, said an Army spokesman, Maj. Gary C. Tallman. Army contracting officers from Fort Eustis, Va., which vetted the bidders, would not have done a computer search or other search of news accounts on Spicer as part of their review, Tallman said.

Flippin heck. Seriously, people don't go on a first date in this country without googling their prospect. It's in the rules. (Craigslist is the new Rules, girls, have no doubt.) And now we hear the US is ponying up a substantial rounding error in a billion bucks to get into bed with this mob because of the arsefaced ineptitude of archaic Army procurement procedures?

There's an obvious lack of political interference in the contracting process here that would, naturally, have achieved a sounder outcome. After all, the previous Vice President invented the internet, so it stands to reason the current VP has at least heard of google!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

dizzy zillespie

I've had one or two unwelcome moments of excitement in the last week. Well, three actually. Each involved me sitting at a table minding my own and the world's business. In the first instance out in a restaurant on Capitol Hill with friends, and the latter two occasions at home while calmly reading the newspaper before work. Well, as calmly as you can read the newspaper these days.

You see, I've been having episodes of the most curious and peturbing palpitations and dizzy spells, and three times headed off fainting for no apparent reason.

Fortunately I'm not one of the forty million people in the US without medical insurance, so for a minimal sum I've had some lovely chats with some doctors in the George Washington University Hospital ER, been prodded and leeched, was allowed to play with the machine that goes 'ping!', and finally scheduled some more tea and scones with a nace uptown cardiologist.

What's going on? Well the GWU boffins suggested the term vasovagal near syncope, which after a later chat with my GP appears to be how you say "yeah, you've been fainting alright" when you've had a hundred thousand dollars worth of education. Hence the followups to get to the bottom of it, so we'll see over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, watch some shhhhhhort film.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Sunday, June 13, 2004

sounds on sunday

I notice Graham's had a professional encounter with enthusiastic Christians as well lately. It reminds me I didn't round out talking about Thursday night's meeting with members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

If you followed through any of the links about them on my recent post you will see that these people are not your garden variety enthusiastic "love thy neighbour" Christians. They are, quite simply, hate-spewing bigots. If you missed those links, here's another on their perspective on the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepherd in 1998. Here's more the kind of action their rhetoric encourages.

To me the horrors of this group were twofold. First, watching eight year old girls wearing "god hates fags" t-shirts and waving "thank god for 9/11" placards. Unfortunately no imagination is required to see what becomes of these poor souls, because I saw an example of that too. I had an extended conversation with one church member who was a thirtysomething woman. Never in my life have I looked into eyes of such flinty vacancy. I felt like there was no one, absolutely no one in there looking back at me, as her mouth delivered scriptural bile at me, concluding with declarations of my eternal presence in hell. These blue eyes were an appalling glimpse of the mental in fundamentalist.

Thank God for the separation of church and state, eh?

Anyway I digress from the intended purpose of today's entry, which is on a much more cheery note or three.



I've been cleansing my aural of the above with some quite marvellous new tunes. I've been familiar with Monday Michiru for a couple of years now, and have recently added Adoption Agency and a half dozen or so other tracks to my collection, including the above. I'm sure the hunt for more material from her back catalogue will continue. Michiru (and her collaborators, like DJ Krush) simply keep producing world class contemporary jazz and downtempo grooves.

Staying in Japan, after picking up Jazztronik's Nanairo (Seven Colours) while in Tokyo, their 2003 and 2003 albums Set Free and Inner Flight are just as slinky, sophisticated, seductive, compelling. Also on rotation is Hajime Yoshizawa's self titled release. Next purchase in j-beats is going to be some of FLower Records' Far East Easy Listening series over at dustygroove.com to scattershot some more artists in the field, but I've spent more than enough for now...

... especially taking into consideration that once I saw Stanton had released the STR8-30B direct drive turntable into the market at a ridiculous USD125 I had one set up at home about four days later. Thank you, amazon free shipping! It's pretty basic, no bells or whistles, but doing the job of training my fingers. The TT is getting a workout with some wax from the Nite Grooves label bought from my friendly local DJ Hut, as well as a double vinyl of Antibalas' first album. When I got the Nite Grooves records home and read the fine print, turned out to be by (surprise, surprise?) Japanese producers, DJ Shingo and Tetsu Shibuya.

Finally, the sounds around town: on Friday night, technomaestro Richie Hawtin dished out some challenging beats down at Nation to a crowd of punters that had somewhat diminished by the time he finally came on to play at 2.30. (Last metro trains run around 2.45... club closes between 4 and 5... first trains run from 8. And there's not an all night cafe in sight down around the warehouse clubs by the Navy Yard.) Tonight I'm off to Baltimore with a couple of friends to check out a few lounges and Dave Seaman at Sonar for a terrific twelve bucks.

Friday, June 11, 2004

the horror. the horror. (next 477 exits)

Via Brad DeLong, notes from a person in the audience at a talk by Seymour Hersh at the University of Chicago:

He said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, "You haven't begun to see evil..." then trailed off. He said, "horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run."

He looked frightened.


In today's Washington Post:

President Bush said Thursday that he expects U.S. authorities to follow the law when interrogating prisoners abroad, but he declined to say whether he believes torture is permitted under the law.

Pressed repeatedly during a news conference here about a Justice Department memo saying torture could be justified in the war on terrorism, Bush said only that U.S. interrogators had to follow the law.

Asked whether he agreed with the Justice Department view, Bush said he could not remember whether he had seen the memorandum. "The authorization I issued was that anything we did would conform to U.S. law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations," he said.

A second questioner asked Bush whether he would authorize "any means necessary" to elicit information from a prisoner who had information about an imminent terrorist attack. The president replied: "What I've authorized is that we stay within U.S. law."

Pointing out that the administration lawyers who wrote the memo believe terrorist suspects could be tortured without violating the law, a third questioner asked whether torture was ever morally justified. "Look, I'm going to say it one more time," Bush replied. "Maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you."


Can you tell from this kind of language that George W. has had a visit from John W. lately? And to think the last US president was impeached for lying about having consensual sex with an adult. See The Daily Show's 'Finding Memo' segment for a leavened explanation of Ashcroft's possible contempt of Congress. Or read the inestimable Fafblog for an even clearer explanation of this madness.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

sliding through the city

...A dozen protesters fronting the Australian Embassy chanting for stolen Timorese oil. Flailing at presence, missing.

...The dc guerilla poetry insurgency, staking claim to Dupont Circle, mesmerising the converted and perverted. No rhymes were massacred during this pro-democratic intervention. (They were greeted as adliberators.)

...Riding into the smog inversion's blood orange sun, across the hundred foot high spans of the Taft Bridge over Rock Creek Park. The city's lungs far below, sucking down the co2, waiting for nightfall to exhale a cool breeze into my windows.

...On the main stage in the Black Cat: the Antibalas afrobeat orchestra. Awesome funk grooves that only a fully loaded horn section can infuse. Flashbacks to Birdseed back in the day, but richer, with tone and tongues and tempo further south. Go pick up Who Is This America. G'own now. When the CD gets to track three, sing along your own "Rumsfeld" response to the call "Indictment."

...A dozen multitudes of Reagan mourners, lined thousand upon thousand in an hours long queue for entrance into the Capitol rotunda when I went past about 11pm. (live video feed inside the Rotunda here. They're changing the guard as I'm writing).

...Picketing the queue nearby, members of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka Kansas (yes, that's right, the people who brought you www.godhatesfags.com), holding placards such as "Reagan is in hell". When I asked why, it is apparently for his pro-gay (!) stance. Also "thank God for 9/11" - again, for His benevolence in sending America such a merciful but clear message to clean its act up. Also, "God hates America" for good measure. And you thought that only Islamic fundamentalists held that view?

Never a dull moment.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

on war, by non cloudywits

Tim Dunlop puts the question: Was the US/Australia relationship sufficient reason for our involvement in the Iraq War?

Rob Schaap replies:

"We invaded a country that was no threat to us and no longer one to its neighbours, were complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands, have produced a failed state all the King's men can't put together again, and have contributed to a self-fulfilling prophecy of Christian/Muslem belligerence. So no."

A-bloody-men. You know how to mark the damn ballot. Tell your friends. Tell them to tell their friends in marginal electorates. And don't tell me its relevant to piss around with arguments about an untried opposition leader in response. Or who broke whose taxi driver's arm.

The soundest strategic political vote, if you want to live in an upstanding democracy, is to demonstrate that those who make war against our will are placed such that their history is written by their opponents, who consign them to the rightful place.

You know it makes sense. But does this argument hold for voters in the UK, whose alternative government are more strongly in support of the war than Blair's Labour?

Monday, June 07, 2004

Reagamournics

Shots fired in proxy wars and/or by US backed right wing death squads at the behest of authoritarian regimes and/or anti-democratic regime change actions in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chad, Honduras, Grenada, Afghanistan and Libya notwithstanding,

'Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty, and he did it without a shot being fired. To have achieved so much against such odds and with such humour and humanity made Ronald Reagan a truly great American hero'

said Baroness Thatcher.

Typically Ronnie is credited as saving the capitalist world from the communist menace by amping up a new arms race and puttting the reds too far into the red to continue. If this is true, are there any lessons we can learn for the present predicament?

Nah. History begins anew each Morning In America. Still, here are some perspectives on his presidency free of the current burst of stored-up hagiography.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

filmstock

I've taken in a couple of movies lately, here's a bit of a rundown.

Easy one first: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. More of the same, but in tiny teen gap clothes not wizzy robes. Watchable, but Y Tu Mama Tambien it ain't.

Super Size Me. First of all you've got to admire the ambitious genius of director/protagonist Morgan Spurlock: making a documentary about yourself in which you begin to take on the proportions of that other Oscar and Cannes winning rotunda, Michael Moore. However unlike Moore's current works, Spurlock is much less whiny in front of the camera. In person he captures his own enjoyment of Maccas food -- both early on in the experiment, and towards the end where his sugar/caffiene/fat addiction hits are his only source of joy -- while prosletyising the dastardly facts of the obesity meltdown. It's gonzo journalism more conflicted (and dangerous?) than Hunter S. Thompson amongst the Hells Angels.

Also, Coffee and Cigarettes: a film of whispered, subtle coherence staged across nine conversations over coffee and cigarettes. Marvellous, particularly the scenes with Iggy Pop & Tom Waits, Meg & Jack Stripes (and Jack's Tesla coil), Cate Blanchett & Cate Blanchett, and Bill "motherf**kin' ghostbustin" Murray serving the Wu Tang Clan's GZA and RZA. Some other performances (notably Stephen Wright and Roberto Begnini) are a little weak but they are more than offset, I'd rate this one not to miss.

Finally, the video for DJ Junior Jack's new single Stupiddisco. Viewing discretion advised. (What am I talking about? Lads, remove the word discretion from that last sentence.)

Thursday, June 03, 2004

torn from the pages of the DSM IV/IV

The Second Sign of Vinyl Addiction

The maligned individual will try to convince others to buy turntables. Quick-witted enough to realize their own problem, the subject will try to convince slower and more corruptable individuals to purchase so as to allow for their own usage. (Horny japanese men are the foremost target, not quite sure why.) If this doesn't work though, the individual will fall into stages of withdrawal or depression, bouts of alcoholism or "drunkeness" before pulling up the tab on the credit card and realizing they've already bought a turntable worth of Lebatt Blue. (poor sod.) Totally distraught and at the end of the line, the malignant will finally bite the bullet and pick up a turntable. There will be much rejoicing amongst the village that is already drunk on Lebatt Blue. (pathetic sods.)

The Third Sign of Vinyl Addiction

So you've sold your girlfriend into slave labor for a rare Bootsy Collins mix...


Alas, true. I'm into a program of professional therapy sessions to ensure I don't slip into stage three. (Not yet anyway... got to hold out for the higher post-doctoral market value...)

As referred and diagnosed by after-hours colleague Sean, who as you can see, clearly has his own menagerie of mental health issues in this area... fourth sign, staying the course?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

the new che?

Angles in Adams Morgan sports good burgers, a Tasmanian barchick and eternally cheap beer.

So why are there eight photographs and one creative crayon sketch of the late Ahmed Shah Masood on the walls? The latter of him downing a Hind?

Some nights just get you to the bottom of beers, not mysteries.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

the camera adds ten wounds

Last week a friend in Canberra asked me to compare how the images of returning coffins and abused prisoners were being received by people here in Washington.

The impact of the Abu Ghraib scandal, and perhaps also the US being forced to accede to negotiated outcomes in Fallujah and other hotspots, has had a much greater impact than the flag-draped coffins. These images are time-honoured, respected... known unknowns even.

Abu Ghraib was an unknown unknown. It is the first time I have heard a number of quite staunchly pro-Republican friends openly despair about the course of the war and talk about voting against Bush. This surprised me, as they have the option of just not voting at all, rather than delivering two votes, one in each side of the ledger, to Kerry. They remain quite pro-Republican on a range of issues, but the appalling execution of the war in Iraq - not the decision to go to war itself - has become a deal breaker for them.

I was at a Friday afternoon beery roundtable at a wonkshop down in the Penn quarter recently, and talked to a bloke who until recently was a union organizer for manufacturing workers at the Boeing plant in Seattle. He said the average age on the shop floor was about 48, and many were Vietnam vets or Vietnam-era vets. He said the one thing that hurt them most about Vietnam now, 30 years on, was not the comrades they lost. And it wasn't the anti-war sentiment they faced at the time. It was the fact that America lost the war. I think the greatest threat to Bush's re-election from that demographic is the perception that the US (under Bush) cannot 'win' Iraq - however the meaning of that term degrades and evolves. Should he one day be capable of thinking about his mistakes, Bush may yet rue the decision to support Rumsfeld to the hilt instead of telling him to fall on his sword.

The Abu Ghraib images have become the iconic images of the war in the West. (How tragic for us that we never saw the Al Jazeera's bloody footage during major combat ops? Are these images sanitized enough to stand in their place?) All the playstation missilecams and the like simply lack the short-circuit to our empathic humanity. In 10 years time, not even Saddam being checked for lice will be fresher in people's minds than a bag-headed black-draped figure on a box who crucified our pre-shrunk credibility.

Which, to put this in broader context, I think is a crying shame. The numbers are still coming in, but there are currently 53 confirmed mass graves in Iraq and 200 more have been reported. Estimates are as high as 400,000 killed (Tony Blair) or 290,000 'disappeared' (Human Rights Watch).

This is not to excuse the former in the context of the latter like so many rightwingnuts are prone to do. You might as well say that 40-odd deaths in US military custody over 2 years is not as bad as what Lt Calley and his company inflicted upon 500 people, two nations, and our one humanity, in one afternoon. You have to reject these ameliorating gradations of horror. Damnit, we set our bar higher. Nonetheless I am completely disgusted that the soldiers involved, and the failures of leadership from above, so stupidly and avoidably overshadowed their removal of a sadistic tyrant, and have sabotaged the political course of the exit(victory?) strategy.

I think Bush's chin-jutting doggedness in the face of the Iraqi uprisings is a poor approach. At the very least I hope that it is merely for domestic consumption. The CPA should be (and probably is) making very clear to Iraq's moderates like Sistani that the extremists are their problem, and that if they won't step up, take them on and deny them legitimacy, the US _will_ leave in short order -- leaving the moderates without even the current semisecure environment in which to build a new framework. The problem is that Abu Ghraib makes any semblance of cooperation with the CPA even more risky and radioactive: observe the recent assassination of the head of the IGC.

Update: Snap. See Road to Surfdom for a similar post about the views of Washington's republican real estate agents. E. J. Dionne in today's Post also talks about the conservative fragmentation.

My anecdotal evidence notwithstanding, I'm not sure this will be enough, not yet. As I previously mentioned, I think Kerry is yet to set the electorate on fire. Or at least have it warm to him. But speaking of asbestos underwear, check out Al Gore's recent speech at NYU on the CSPAN front page. It is well worth viewing rather than reading if you can.