mr. zilla goes to town

Thursday, September 29, 2005

queen vs the republicans

(There's very few days in the year when over your morning coffee you read news that makes you cackle, dance with glee and want to sing. Which I can't do for shit so I'll step aside and let His Majesty do it for me. Take it away, Freddie!)

“Oh ev’ry night and every day
A little piece of you is falling away
But lift your face the western way
Build your muscles as your body decays yeah…”

Federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the sale of HCA stock by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., whose family founded the company. HCA is the nation's largest for-profit health care chain. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has given subpoena power to investigators looking into the stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, said sources familiar with the matter on Wednesday.

Toe your line and play their game yeah
Let the anaesthetic cover it all
Till one day they call your name
You know it’s time for the hammer to fall

WASHINGTON -- Shadowed by scandal, House Republicans face an uncertain new era after a day of upheaval that left Majority Leader Tom DeLay under indictment and forced to surrender his powerful post. DeLay's indictment marks "the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader.

(Oh yeah! Give it to me one more time, Freddie!)

You don’t waste no time at all
Don’t hear the bell but you answer the call
It comes to you as to us all
We’re just waiting
For the hammer to fall!

Monday, September 26, 2005

free fall

Check out this compelling, strangely hypnotising, artistic representation of Bush's poll numbers. (Via Direland.)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Honey Pot Sounds Good, 24 September 2005

It's been about a month since I've posted up a tracklist and there's a two reasons for that. Firstly, it's been fairly busy at zilla HQ between going off to the V festival, the Bestival, working days, working nights, doing an abysmal amount of study, and moving house. Twice. That last word has a whole story of its own which I'm prevented from blogging about, owing to my thumb heading gobwards, and my posture foetal, with any attempt to relive the drama.

The second reason is that one night not long before Bestival, some genius in these parts (we won't say who - there's no need for blame-gaming) got distracted and managed to attach his 120V Korg mixer from the US directly to the 240V UK power grid.


This is a public service announcement. Whether you're nine years old with cordial and a fork in your hand, whether you're nineteen years old with a disco biscuit in your hand, or whether you're twenty-nine years old with your dandy mixer in your hand:

Don't drink and plug, kids. Don't drink and plug.


So though there's no shortage of residential time on the decks in venues around Oxford at the moment - around 18-20 hours a month in fact - I've nonetheless felt quite discouraged from buying new records. This sad state of affairs came to an end on Friday with the delivery of a new power supply, and the joy was unconfined. You might say I suitably honoured the unfortunate plugging incident's accompanying odour of burning plastic by making my credit card smoke as well.

The results were superbly enjoyable and made a stellar contribution to last night's set. Recent buys are linked:

1. Kokolo – Good Noose, Bad Noose - Afrokings
2. Antibalas – Pay Back Africa – Ninja Tune
3. G Corp - Peace Time – Different Drummer
4. Baby Mammoth - Moonburn – Pork Recordings
5. Yoshinori Sunahara – Music For Robot For Music (Armed Mix) - Bungalow
6. DJ Food – Dark Aeco – Ninja Tune
7. Pushipullyu – Twohands, Forearms, Legs Eleven (The Food Mix) – Woolly Mammoth Records
8. Wicked Beat Sound System – Everyday Dub – Mushroom Records
9. Season Feat. Ernesto – Juice (Math Union Mix) – Goya Music
10. Bebel Gilberto – Winter (Nuspirit Helsinki Reinterpretation) – Six Degrees Records
11. Femi Kuti – Do Your Best (Faze Action Remix) – Guidance Recordings
12. Suba – Felicidade (Funky Lowlives Breathless Remix) – Audiopharm
13. Jazztronik – Set Free (Parts 1 And 2) – Flower Records
14. Tricatel Inc – Friday Night (Moodorama Mix) - Audiopharm
15. Koop – Summer Sun (Marcus Enochson Remix) – Jazzanova-Compost Records
16. Fort Knox Five – The Brazilian Hipster - Audiopharm
17. Paula Lima – Quero Ver Voce No Biale – Audiopharm
18. Jazzanova – Introspection (Calm’s Outerspect Mix) – Compost Records
19. Klaus Doldinger – Ju-Ju Man (Fauna Flash Remix) – Warner Strategic Marketing
20. Akiko Kohara – Miracle Starscraper – Pony Canyon
21. Roisin Murphy – Sinking Feeling - Echo
22. Marschmellows - Swoundosophy (RAS Remix) – Kriztal Records
23. The Allenko Brotherhood Ensemble – Leroy (Tony V. Allen Tweak) – Guidance Recordings
24. Thievery Corporation – The Heart’s A Lonely Hunter (Feat. David Byrne) – ESL Music
25. Big Bang – Smile In Your Eyes (Mark De Clive Lowe Remix) – Arison Recordings
26. Reel People – Spiritual (Seiji Remix) - Bitasweet
27. Royksopp – Poor Leno – Wall Of Sound
28. Mondo Grosso - Star Suite (Shelter Album Mix) – Sony Music Entertainment Japan
29. Black & Brown – Cool Affair (Eric Kuppe Remix) – Mole Listening Pearls
30. Toy Division – Budapest Resonance (Andrew J Remix) – Juice Records
31. Plantlife – When She Smiles She Lights The Sky (4hero Remix) – Gut Records
32. Kyoto Jazz Massive – Deep In Your Mind – SMEJ Associated Records
33. Zero 7 – In The Waiting Line (Aquanotes Naked Adaption) - Quango
34. Freestyle Man Feat. Wanda Felicia – Que Domingo (Nuspirit Helsinki Montana Roha Jazzmix) - Puu
35. Underwolves - Birdsong (Earthbound Version) – Jazzanova-Compost Records

Saturday, September 24, 2005

donahue vs o'reilly

Sometimes it takes a shouty old bloke to get the measure of another shouty old bloke. Go over to Crooks and Liars to watch the video of Phil Donahue dishing it out to front-line foxwit Bill O'Reilly on O'Reilly's own show.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Why We Went To War (version 4.0)

So you thought we kicked shit off in Iraq to take out the WMDs? Or maybe you were sold on the "freedom, flowers, democracy and a pony" package? What about the "Mesopotamia as jumbo roll of two-ply terrrrist flypaper" strategy?

Wake up and smell the coffee, bitches:

O’Reilly: The truth of the matter is our correspondents at Fox News can’t go out for a cup of coffee in Baghdad.

Rice: Bill, that’s tough. It’s tough. But what — would they have wanted to have gone out for a cup of coffee when Saddam Hussein was in power?

As Jake Blues once said: Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, I have seen the light! To think, I was so misguided to once think that the Anglosphere's involvement in Iraq had its roots in promoting and protecting the energy security of the global economy. To think, that while dreading the likely failure of their approach, at least I once begrudgingly gave the Bush administration credit for a gasping fiery breadth of strategic foresight in the PNAC approach to the future, based upon the ability to deny the middle east's oil to the waking dragon.

Oh no! Oh, no. Apparently the whole point was so that when fucking Fox correspondents wake up, wherever they are in the world it's still morning in America. As a result they'll have a spring in their step as they cross the street for a fucking frappucino on their way to work in the lower intestines of the neo-con noise machine.

Let this be a lesson to us all - from the lexicographers, to the latte-liberals, to the bleedin' beverly hillbillies. Apparently the true black gold isn't Texas-T. It's not even buck-a-barrel Saudi crude. No, strategic quintessence is freshly brewed mocha java, with a delightful wafting aroma of hegemony and a velvety capitalist crema.

No wonder Starbucks is taking over the world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

and a busy week it was. still at least we can now just relax. and move house tomorrow...

Monday, September 05, 2005

it goes like this

Failing to plan is planning to fail. So having now been thoroughly castigatory, let me give you some personal foresights for the next week around these parts. See you on the other side.

Monday: Fresh pineapple for breakfast and a productive day in the office. Go home. Within certain personal cultural boundaries, drop tunes best described as “whatever makes the girlies get up and wiggle” down at Thirst. Said cultural boundaries being, you can ask me for R&B but I ain’t gonna play it! Ner ner, sucks not to be the DJ don’t it? Drink Staropramen beer and vodka-bombed banana smoothies for 5 hours. Home about 3. Sleep.

Tuesday: Tea and toast for breakfast. Stumble through work day. Go home. Catch a nap. Up and out. Drop a couple of hours cruisy tunes in the Brickworks… and keep the Czech Budvahhhhhhhh! flowing. Yummy. Home about midnight. Pass out.

Wednesday: Red bull and toast for breakfast. Crawl to bus stop. Drool on keyboard after lunch and hope no one notices. Go home. Favourite motorbiking vegan DJ from Virginia and her boyfriend hit town, for one night only.

Red mist descends.

Thursday: Perform CPR on liver. Complain about jackhammer headache. Feebly flail from beneath the pillows. Get laughed at by hangover-impervious Ms Z. Blubber and be pathetic until she’s sympathetic. Dry wretching, espresso, and a too-many-too-late dose of multivitamins for breakfast. Catch the wrong bus. Arrive at work in time for lunch. Pass out under conference room table.

Friday-Sunday: Rudely early awakening. Pack stuff. Be pathetically grateful when Ms Z notices you don’t have your headphones. Again. Croissants and mocha to go. Train to Southampton. Sleep. Ferry to Isle of Wight. Sleep. Yippee, it’s the Bestival!! Run around like a monkey trying to see Röyksopp, the Super Furry Animals, 2 Many DJs, The Go! Team, Tom Findlay (from Groove Armada), Bez (from the Happy Mondays), Bugz In The Attic, Gilles Peterson, Dub Pistols & Terry Hall, Hot Chip, Annie Mac, Annie Nightingale, Andy Smith, and the Finger Lickin' Soundsystem. Do a bit of DJing there too.

Monday: hurt.

Once more, without feeling

As you may have gathered from the previous few posts I’ve spent far too much of the weekend immersed in the awful news of the disaster in the US. As you may also have gathered that the main way I keep a lid on the despair at seeing such senseless loss of life is to pull on the angry pants and let the steam come out of my ears a little. I’m sure I’m not alone there. Perhaps I can try to be a little more dispassionate for a moment and say this.

This disaster is a ongoing complex humanitarian emergency that created in the order of half a million internally displaced persons across four states in the US, for at least a year.

Every disaster has a unique combination of environmental and social factors at play, and this might seem like an emergency that would test the resources of any nation on earth, but consider this. Bangladesh is a country of 144 million people, and in August 2004 monsoon flooding put 60% of the country under water. 20 million people needed immediate food aid. And while every life cut short is a tragedy, under these circumstances it might be fair to use the word “only”, and say only about 2000 people are reported to have died.

The United States, with a per capita GDP approximately 20 times higher than Bangladesh, seems likely to suffer a comparable or higher death toll, primarily due to the failure to adequately prepare and implement integrated community-level response plans across the gulf states, and effectively bring to bear the financial and logistical resources of the government in the immediate aftermath.

If two hundred billion dollars can be borrowed from world financial markets to finance a war ostensibly to make the American homeland and American interests safer, then adequate resources were never an issue, only political will and policy competence. The failures at all tiers of government in the United States – regardless of whomever is found most responsible in the end -- cannot be underestimated and should not be downplayed.

This might seem that I’m shrugging off a few thousand deaths in South Asia but gnashing my teeth over a similar number in the southern US. Well, unfortunately over the last 35 years Bangladesh has had its share of mass-casualty horror and despite some outstanding improvements since the typhoons of 1970 and 1991, may yet continue to do so. I make the comparison not to dismiss any tragedy. Only to hammer home the point that there with immeasurably more resources on hand in the US, and no shortage of very specific historical lessons to learn, the levels of expectation are rightly very high. And in one short week, the gap between expectation and reality has become a yawning chasm.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

live and pretty damn direct

From the Washington Post, via Pandagon:

NBC's levee broke and Kanye West flooded through with a tear about the federal response in New Orleans during the network's live concert fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina last night.

West and Mike Myers had been paired up to appear about halfway through the show. Their assignment: Take turns reading a script describing the breach in the levees around New Orleans.

Myers: The landscape of the city has changed dramatically, tragically and perhaps irreversibly. There is now over 25 feet of water where there was once city streets and thriving neighborhoods.

(Myers throws to West, who looked extremely nervous in his super-preppy designer rugby shirt and white pants, which is not like the arrogant West and which, in retrospect, should have been a tip-off.)

West: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!

(West throws back to Myers, who is looking like a guy who stopped on the tarmac to tie his shoe and got hit in the back with the 8:30 to La Guardia.)

Myers: And subtle, but in many ways even more profoundly devastating, is the lasting damage to the survivors' will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all.

(And, because Myers is apparently as dumb as his Alfalfa hair, he throws it back to West.)

West: George Bush doesn't care about black people!

Just goes to show how politically out of touch people in the music industry can be, especially when they're pushing their own barrows over some perceived slight. Of course the Bush administration cares about black people! After all, around 15% of black voters nation-wide voted for him in 2004! I mean with 85% of a constituency voting for the other team, it's gotta be one of the number one areas of potential growth in the Republican vote!

Yeah, or, maybe not. And while I realise I've become the Billmon redirection service of late, have a look at this post of his comparing and contrasting the response to this disaster to the aid given to Florida during hurricane and election season last year.

The final word, or lack of one, goes to NBC who found West's criticism of the President untenable:

West's comments would be cut from the West Coast feed, an NBC spokeswoman told The TV Column. (The Associated Press later reported that only his comment about the president was edited out.)

I hope their reasoning was that potential donors to the cause might be offended by West's assessment and decide not to donate to the telethon, rather than executive toadying to the administration. In either case I strongly disagree. A free media is a pillar of democracy because it's a core mechanism of public accountability. If NBC won't bare some teeth and claws at the deadly incompetence of the Bush administration over the last week, they shouldn't have the gall to edit out the people who make proper use of their air time to do so.

To be fair to the US cable news media, it seems that CNN and even the occasional Fox reporter on the ground in Louisiana have actually been making a fist of calling bullshit on the press-release pronouncements of senior officials. The post-disaster media dynamic couldn't be more different to 9/11; I'm sure its got everything to do with the lack of an external agressor to blame.

As my friend Owen in Philadelphia said in an email last week, this is not only a national disaster, but a national embarrasment for the country with the lion's share of the planet's wealth. We can only hope the current righteous anger remains stoked and channelled into positive reforms of FEMA and DHS, and an occasional accountability moment or two. It would be a horror if this embarrasment allowed the story arcs to shift quickly to only cover the warmer tales of recovery and reconstruction that we hope are not too far away.

Friday, September 02, 2005

miserable failure

Get over to Americablog for an inkling of how poorly the US federal and state governments have utterly failed thus far to plan for, or respond to, the immediate relief requirements in Louisiana. This is not outlying Aceh or Tamil-controlled Sri Lanka - this is an iconic metropolis in the heart of media saturated 'murrka. There's no excuse for institutional ignorance of the scale of the problem, nor for the post 9/11 Homeland Security department to have been without comprehensive and complete evacuation and disaster response plans.

The revelation that Secretary of State Condi Rice was observed still shopping for thousand-dollar shoes in Manhattan the day after Bush declared the event America's "worst distaster in a century" is just gobsmacking. I guess with Iraq off the front page for a couple of days she thought she was free to take some time off?

Continued. Kruggles in the New York Times:

Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.


At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ms Z and I spent a couple of days in the Big Easy in the summer of 2003. We had effortlessly tall fruity drinks, found some half-decent Bourbon Street jazz, roamed a few bone yards, and stayed in a lovely hotel in the French Quarter with a swimming pool for a courtyard.

That hotel now has the Gulf of Mexico for a courtyard.

Worryingly for us all, while it might just be possible to drop $200 billion (and counting) on a Mesopotamian misadventure and get away with it by printing a few more pictures of presidents, it looks like Katrina has just sucker punched the US economy. These details gleaned primarily from BOPnews:

Today’s shut-in [offline] oil production is 1,371,814 BOPD. This shut-in oil production is equivalent to 91.45% of the daily oil production in the GOM [Gulf Of Mexico], which is currently approximately 1.5 million BOPD.

Best-Case Scenarios: Oil at $70 to $75 a barrel for a couple of weeks; gasoline prices over $3.00 for a couple of months; and the economy takes a small hit (between 0.5% and 1.0% on growth in the third and fourth quarters).

Worst-Case Scenario: Oil at $100 a barrel for a month; gasoline prices at $3.50 a gallon for a few months; and the economy closer to a recession by the fourth quarter. In such a scenario, oil prices would spike to $100 a barrel for a month before falling gradually to around $70 per barrel by the end of the year.

One of the well-thumbed books in the house that I read as a teenager was one of Tom Clancy’s earlier works, Red Storm Rising. The story begins with Islamic terrorists destroying one of the Soviet Union’s critical oil refineries, after which the politburo assesses that their only viable strategic option is to seize the oil refineries and reserves of the middle east. If the US faces similar turmoil to this, we can only speculate that they too might send a force to occupy crucial middle-eastern real estate. Oh wait… never mind. President Chavez in Venezuela better mind his P’s and Q’s though.

The consequences of Katrina go much further than oil refining though:

The Port of Southern Louisiana is the fifth-largest port in the world in terms of tonnage, and the largest port in the United States. The only global ports larger are Singapore, Rotterdam, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It is bigger than Houston, Chiba and Nagoya, Antwerp and New York/New Jersey. It is a key link in U.S. imports and exports and critical to the global economy.

The Port of Southern Louisiana stretches up and down the Mississippi River for about 50 miles, running north and south of New Orleans from St. James to St. Charles Parish. It is the key port for the export of grains to the rest of the world -- corn, soybeans, wheat and animal feed. Midwestern farmers and global consumers depend on those exports. The United States imports crude oil, petrochemicals, steel, fertilizers and ores through the port. Fifteen percent of all U.S. exports by value go through the port. Nearly half of the exports go to Europe.

The region affected by the storm accounts for just a little over 1% of the U.S. workforce. But about $150 billion, or 20%, of U.S. exports and imports in oil, steel, plywood, grains and other goods pass through gulf ports annually. Industries will have trouble finding alternatives, because New Orleans' port is one of the nation's deepest, and other ports, railroads and shippers were already near capacity, estimates.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the lower Mississippi from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico remained shut to all vessels Tuesday, with no estimate on how long it might take to clear the river.