Sunday, April 29, 2007
The Creatures - Mad Eyed Screamer
Ian Dury and the Music Students - Spasticus Autisticus
L7 - cat o' nine tails
John Cale performs "Heartbreak Hotel"
the Adolescents - Kids of the Black Hole
CRAZE (w/ Kenichi Fujisaki on vocals)/ I LOVE YOU
CRAZE (w/ Tusk on Vocals)/ TRUE HEART
X the band Johnny Hit and Run Paulene The Unheard Music DVD
Guniw Tools - Baby's One Do
Butthole Surfers - Interview in bed (part 1)
Butthole Surfers - Interview in bed (part 2)
Skinny Puppy & Front Line Assembly Special (Part 1 of 2)
Skinny Puppy & Front Line Assembly Special (Part 2 of 2)
Saturday, April 28, 2007
L7 with Dave Grohl - used to love him / shove
Skizoo, Renuncia al Sol
John Cale, MEZZ, Breda, Holland 15th Feb 2007:Venus In Furs
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Il Est Ne le Divin Enfant
X - Wild Thing (Music Video)
Skinny Puppy - Harsh Stone White (Doomsday)
Pansy Division plays "Dick of Death" at the Houston Pride Festival 2005
CRAZE / BEAT SO LONELY,ALLNIGHT LONG
Das Ich - Garten Eden
Arbor Vitate-Pig Music Video
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all
Tuesday April 24, 2007
Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.
They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.
Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.
It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.
Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."
Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.
It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.
2. Create a gulag
Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.
At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.
This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.
With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.
Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.
But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.
By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.
3. Develop a thug caste
When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.
The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution
Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.
Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.
In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.
In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.
5. Harass citizens' groups
The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.
Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.
In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.
Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".
"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.
"I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."
"That'll do it," the man said.
Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.
James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.
Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.
It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.
7. Target key individuals
Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.
Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.
Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.
Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.
Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.
8. Control the press
Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.
The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.
Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.
Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.
Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.
You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.
9. Dissent equals treason
Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.
Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.
In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".
And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.
Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)
We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.
Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.
10. Suspend the rule of law
The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.
Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."
Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.
Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.
Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.
It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."
As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.
That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".
What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.
What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.
Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.
We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.
· Naomi Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot will be published by Chelsea Green in September.
|China Gets Punk’d|
|23 April 2007|
| Punk rock is alive and well in the Middle Kingdom, as evidenced by a handful of very loud bands and Brain Failure, one group poised for a breakout.|
"You can only be safe when you have nothing to expose!" A skinny Chinese guy screams. In English. The words may not mean much but the pose is everything.
In his black v-neck sweater and hip red glasses, Chen Xi is the lead singer for the band Snapline and he is a guy on the on the outer border of rock's frontiers in Beijing. Gyrating like a zombie on a dimly lit stage in front of about 30 people – an even divide of foreigners and locals – Chen is in his element. Empty beer bottles, half-finished bottles of wine, a framed picture of Kurt Cobain behind the bar and one girl who falls to her knees and repeats his lyrics. Three red Mohawks nod in unison from the balcony above. Cigarette smoke dances in the air to the music. Some audience members simply hop up and down.
This is Friday night at D-22, a "bar music club, and performance space" dedicated to supporting young musicians and artists, according to its website. Located in the western Beijing neighborhood of Wudaokou, D22 is a dive that attracts the hipper edge of Chinese looking for experimental music, punk and hard core and foreigners wanting something more than love songs and pop.
But Chinese punk rock? The anguished cries of angst and despair beaten out in three-chord hooks at top volume don’t really seem the stuff of modern China’s incessant rise to economic superstardom. Originally the music of working-class England in the late 1970s, punk has its origins in urban decay, sung by young Brits who despaired of Maggie Thatcher's Britain and the decline of everything. Kept alive by waves of angry young kids, the music has continued, being reborn every few years and always, it seems, right at home in dirty smoky little clubs. Clubs not unlike D22.
So is this music of rebellion catching on in authoritarian, get-rich and stay in line China? Probably not just yet.
"This kind of music doesn't enjoy much popularity in China," admitted Li Qing, Snapline's lead guitarist. "In my view, it's firstly because China doesn't have a solid foundation for the broad sense of rock music."
But Li and his bandmates are trying and in this slice of the urban subculture, they have become believers. "The punk, in our opinion, is music of destroying the old and establishing the new," said Li, 24. "It is not confined to any present form or timbre. Among other things it breaks through. It is marvelous and touching."
Spiral Cow, a band from Dalian on the east coast, is another edge-of-the-scene band, dubbed by fans as a "progressive-Chinese-country-post-meth-punk-rock-band." For the uninitiated, think loud. They also perform at D22, when they can get it together to make the haul from Dalian to Beijing This Friday they didn't make it. That's a band thing that transcends genres and nationalities.
"With all kinds of music there are certain ideas attached," wrote Spiral Cow drummer Derrick Fore via e-mail. "Punk was originally born in the 1970s, and was a sort of response to the mainstream of that time. Punk was a kind of rejection of the status quo. Today, in 2007, in the west, punk is just a word, a label, to a degree it's become part of what it originally rejected, mainstream. Here in China, the initial spirit of punk still has some life in it yet."
But why must Spiral Cow travel 475 kilometers to perform a gig? "There really isn't a scene here [Dalian] yet," Fore continued. "You could say there is a scene here, but it's confined to a very small circle of people. There are a handful of bands, and even fewer playing original music. Almost all of the bands here are happy playing cover songs, and there are virtually no places to play."
So Spiral Cow anticipates dates in Beijing and Shanghai. Just like an earlier generation sought out CBGB's and the Mudd Club in New York.
"I come from the countryside where there is no knowledge of punk music, and if there is, it is rejected," said Magang, 21, one of the fans at D22. "There is just something that I like about it," he said, struggling to explain the appeal of the noise and heat. "It just wakes me up."
Mu Yao, a music writer for Sina.com, was more specific. "Punk music gets in kid's heads sometime because it's so cool," he wrote, "If you listen to the punk you are different from other kids. On the other hand, some kids like punk because they hate their parents, their teacher, or they hate the system. Punk becomes the entrance. But sometimes they suffer a reverse and they just want to run away. Punk is their exit. Chinese punk is always limited, though, to a certain range and many people think punk in China is hopeless."
"I think many Chinese punk fans like the idea of rebelling," said Frank Carlson, an American expatriate and casual punk fan. "But I don't think they're actually rebelling against anything. I think they just like the idea of punk music. And maybe that's enough."
So if punk music is more than a mohawk haircut and ripped denim, can the spirit of punk exist in a country where it’s taboo to openly criticize the government? The seminal punk band the Clash famously sang of London burning and working class riots. Spiral Cow skips the lyrics. "Censorship has never been a concern with us since we have no vocals," says Fore.
Snapline, which sings primarily in English, keeps it basic. There are no manifestoes from this band. "There are only some simple or primitive thoughts about the world in our music," said guitarist Li.
Probed on the problem of government censorship, Snapline is suddenly back in the realm of the obedient comrade. "We are good citizens who obey the law and love our country," said Li. "We neither drink nor take drugs. We are in full support of the construction of our harmonious society."
Harmonious society? Punk is about as far from harmony as one could get. What would Sid Vicious make of Good Citizen Snapline?
Hard to say but one band that does address more controversial topics in their music, is China's most commercially successful punk band, Brain Failure. Formed in 1995 by lead singer Xiao Rong and some schoolmates, they have gone on to become something of an international success, playing with an intense punch that has as much in common with Social Distortion or Green Day as it does with anything quintessentially Chinese. According to their Web site, Brainfailure.com, the music is “loud, melodic songs about politics, parties and ‘Anarchy in the PRC.’”
But while the sound is western punk, the inspiration is pure modern China. On the band’s MySpace page, Xiao explains a song called “City Junk” from a new album called Beijing to Boston (Bad Boy Records, 2007): “And you working day to night in the city/Running between no more than three locations./Coke and coffee keep you awake. /Yeah, you are a city junk, /You hate it and you love it./You’ve got a big dream /‘Cos you want get out from this hell.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols was the quintessential punk album of the 1970s and Brain Failure is paying homage with a vengeance. The guitar riffs churned out by the quartet are reminiscent of the early Clash, with an urgency and drive that have made them heroes in the small punk scene in China. They are also not afraid to piss somebody off. Take the lyrics to the song, The Party's Down from the band's first album, Turn on the Distortion (2002, Bad News):
"Hey you! I just wanna tell you what I think about you!/You were a leader you were an emperor!/You've murdered many, many people!/But many people still believe you!/Hey! Look at this, it's not your big time/Look at this! /Don't you know the party's down!"
Brian Failure has toured extensively in Asia and America, released a handful of albums and played with the popular American punk band, The Dropkick Murphys, who have helped the band gain a toehold in the west.
Brain Failure's success may contribute to its flexibility in lyrics, a luxury unsigned bands like Spiral Cow and Snapline from the local music scene are not afforded. But even the term "local music" is hard to define these days. Brain Failure, Spiral Cow and Snapline all have MySpace accounts, so they market themselves worldwide. A recent comment posted on Snapline's MySpace page - www.myspace.com/snapline - read, "Your music is good! Greetings from Italy.”
"Myspace.com enables us to get to know many new friends," said the guitarist Li of Snapline.
"It's not long ago that rock music, a kind of expression, was first introduced to China through all sorts of channels," added Li. "It is a step-by-step process. It needs time. But I believe, in the course of globalization, more and more people will make this type of music popular."
Until such time as punk in China conquers the world or fades away interface of the next fad, the fun of rock and roll is really the point and for that the lyrics of Brain Failure are as cool as need be:
"Sexy punk rock girl/ She's walking down the street/ She is going to a punk rock show tonight/ She is ready to meet some cool punk rock boys/ But in her life she wants to stay free/ Stay free/ Stay free/ I don't know her but I saw her in the show/ she's drinking beer and smoking cigarettes/ She's cool/ She's rock/ She's nice/ She's rad/ In her way she wants to stay free/ Stay free/ Stay free."
The man tried to gain access to the kitchenA man cut off his penis with a knife in a packed London restaurant.
Police were forced to use CS gas to restrain the man when they entered the Zizzi restaurant in The Strand on Sunday evening.
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said the man was aged between 30 and 40 and that his injuries were self-inflicted.
The man was then taken to hospital in south London where his condition is stable. It is understood surgeons were unable to reattach his penis.
The man then picked up a kitchen knife and slashed himself across the wrist and groin
A spokeswoman for Zizzi said the man was not thought to have any connection with the restaurant.
She said: "At around 9pm on Sunday, a man walked into the Zizzi restaurant on The Strand, down the stairs to the basement restaurant area and tried to enter a kitchen.
"Members of staff stopped him, at which he ran into a second kitchen area.
"The man then picked up a kitchen knife and slashed himself across the wrist and groin areas before running back into the restaurant, where he continued to stab himself.
"This happened in a matter of seconds and was obviously extremely frightening and distressing for the many customers and staff in the restaurant at the time."
She added: "Apart from the man, we understand that no-one else suffered any physical injuries."
Russell Simmons is chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action NetworkThe founder of legendary hip-hop label Def Jam has called for three sexist and racist words to be banned from songs.
Russell Simmons said there was "growing public outrage" about the use of the terms, which he said should be viewed as the same as "extreme curse words".
He asked broadcasters and record companies to voluntarily remove, bleep or delete the words from music.
And he suggested setting up an industry watchdog to recommend guidelines for lyrical and visual standards.
'History of oppression'
Simmons, the pioneering entrepreneur whose label has released music by Public Enemy, Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, objects to the use of "nigger", "ho" and "bitch".
He said: "The words 'bitch' and 'ho' are utterly derogatory and disrespectful of the painful, hurtful, misogyny that, in particular, African-American women have experienced in the United States as part of the history of oppression, inequality, and suffering of women.
"The word 'nigger' is a racially derogatory term that disrespects the pain, suffering, history of racial oppression, and multiple forms of racism against African-Americans and other people of colour."
Last week, Simmons called a private meeting of influential music industry executives to discuss the issue.
But no music executives were associated with the announcement by Simmons' Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
Simmons added: "It is important to re-emphasise that our internal discussions with industry leaders are not about censorship.
"Our discussions are about the corporate social responsibility of the industry to voluntarily show respect to African-Americans and other people of colour, African-American women and to all women in lyrics and images."
His comments follow the sacking of US DJ Don Imus for referring to the players on the Rutgers university women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos".
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Rage Against the Machine-DNC Protest- Killing In The Name Of
Skizoo - Arriesgate (videoclip)
NO FUN - STOOGES SXSW 2007
SPIZZENERGI- SOLDIER SOLDIER (banned video 1981)
System of a Down - Suite-Pee
The Ruts - Jah War & Babylons Burning
Mick Ronson Ian Hunter and David Bowie
Zi-Kill Desert Town 1991 part 1
Zi-Kill Desert Town 1991 part 2
Zi-Kill Desert Town 1991 part 3
Zi-Kill Desert Town 1991 part 4
Zi-Kill Desert Town 1991 part 5
Chinese epic loses the plot as actors quit £40m project
Friday April 20, 2007
It is a film with as many twists and turns as any thriller. But the plot of The Battle of Red Cliff, John Woo's multimillion-dollar Chinese epic, started to unravel as soon as the director snapped shut his clapperboard.
Woo, making an eagerly awaited return to Chinese film after a stint in Hollywood, lost his two leading men in the space of a couple of days this week, only for one to return, but in a different role.Tony Leung Chiu-wai, who won best actor at Cannes in 2000 for In the Mood of Love, was the first to go, saying Red Cliff came too soon after completion of his most recent film, Ang Lee's Lust, Caution. Then his co-star, Chow Yun-fat, stormed off the set in a rage after complaining that he had been sent the script too late and had not been given enough time to prepare.
The casting nightmare has proved a huge embarrassment to Woo, who had hoped to use the $80m (£40m) Red Cliff to showcase his talents after directing, among other Hollywood films, Mission: Impossible II.
If that wasn't enough, he is under pressure from the Chinese government to ensure the new film, based on an epic Chinese battle in 208AD, is released before next summer's Olympics in Beijing.
Leung has reportedly agreed to return to help out his old friend, but is expected the fill the role of General Zhou Yu vacated by Chow. Leung's original role, as the military strategist Zhuge Liang, will be played by the Taiwanese-Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro, reports said.
"[Leung] and John Woo go back more than 20 years. When a situation like this happens, he's willing to help out," Wen Wengli, a publicist for China Film Group, which has invested in the film, told the Associated Press. Woo is credited with giving Chow's career an early boost when he cast him in the 1986 Hong Kong gangster film A Better Tomorrow.
In a statement issued after his walkout, Chow said the script posed additional problems because it was in Mandarin and not his native Cantonese. "I only received the script a week ago. I honestly don't have confidence I can portray my character well," he said.
Chow's decision has caused consternation among Woo's production team. They insist that the actor received his script last year and that they had parted company because of his unreasonable demands, although they did not give details.
Woo's business partner, Terence Chang, told the Chinese news website Sina.com that the film's Hollywood insurer had rejected more than 70 clauses in Chow's contract. "There are too many [demands], and many exceeded industry standards," Chang said, adding that Chow had been promised $5m for the film in addition to royalties. "We didn't mistreat him," he said. Wen said the film, in production for less than a week, would be completed in six months and released next year as planned.
WHO, WHAT, WHY?
The Magazine answers...
Pope Benedict XVI's anticipated pronouncement on limbo will have been informed by the International Theological Commission - a group of leading Roman Catholic theologians who have been meeting to consider the issue.
The Pope, himself, has been quoted in the past as saying that he would let the idea of limbo "drop, since it has always been only a theological hypothesis".
He was quoted as saying that limbo has never been a "definitive truth of the faith".
So what is limbo?
According to the BBC's Religion and Ethics site [see internet links, right], the church held that before the 13th Century, all unbaptised people, including new born babies who died, would go to hell. This was because original sin - the punishment that God inflicted on humanity because of Adam and Eve's disobedience - had not been cleansed by baptism.
This idea however was criticised by Peter Abelard, a French scholastic philosophiser, who said that babies who had no personal sin didn't even deserve punishment.
It was Abelard who introduced the idea of limbo. The word comes from the Latin "limbus", meaning the edge. This would be a state of existence where unbaptised babies, and those unfortunate enough to have been born before Jesus, would not experience pain but neither would they experience the Beatific Vision of God.
The current review of limbo began in 2004, when Pope John Paul II asked the commission to come up with "a more coherent and enlightened way" of describing the fate of such innocent babes.
This review is part of a wider re-examination of the notion of salvation that has been taking place within the Church.
Many Catholics would see the abandonment of limbo as a good thing - there is little doubt that some interpretations of the teaching may have caused untold misery to the millions of parents whose children have died without being baptised.
But there are those who argue that it is not simply a "hypothesis" that can just be swept aside; that the notion that unbaptised children do not go to heaven has been a fundamental part of Church teaching for hundreds of years.
Then, of course, there is the argument that if this can be abolished, what else is disposable?
According to church historian Michael Walsh limbo is so unpopular it has all but dropped out of Catholic consciousness.
It has not really been standard teaching for decades and it has not been part of official teaching since the early 1990s, when it was omitted from the catechism - the Church's summary of religious doctrine.
But, there are a number of conservative and traditionally minded Catholics who say they are shocked by the notion of getting rid of limbo.
Father Brian Harrison, a theologian, told the BBC News website that while limbo may have been a "hypothesis", he argues that the clear "doctrine of the Catholic Church for two millennia has been that wherever the souls of such infants do go, they definitely don't go to heaven".
He argues that this is borne out in the various funeral rites for unbaptised children practised by the Church.
"A papal decree reversing the firm Catholic belief of two millennia that infants dying unbaptised do not go to heaven would be like an earthquake in the structure of Catholic theology and belief," he said.
Some argue that the question of limbo has taken on fresh urgency because it could be hindering the Church's conversion of Africa and Asia, where infant mortality rates are high.
An article in the UK's Times newspaper this week suggested that the "Pope - an acknowledged authority on all things Islamic - is only too aware that Muslims believe the souls of stillborn babies go straight to heaven".
The theological commission ends its deliberations on Friday. Most commentators believe the Pope will not make any decision immediately. Until he does, the fate of limbo is in - well, limbo.
Rockers who flirt with the Heil life
Bryan Ferry's fascist fancy is just the latest in Nazi dalliances, from Bowie to Primal Scream
Sunday April 22, 2007
In every dream bunker, a heartache. One can but imagine the atmosphere in Bryan Ferry's recording studio - nicknamed 'the Fuhrerbunker' - this week. A few loose words of praise in a German magazine interview for the aesthetics of the Reich and its main propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, and an entire second career as Marks & Spencer's elder statesman of cool hangs in the balance.
Amid the countless column inches of opprobrium heaped on his head, Bry might have some cause to feel sorry for himself. In the annals of Nazi pop chic, he is not even remotely in the same league as, say, the post-punk group Joy Division, who were named after the section of a concentration camp given over to enforced prostitution, and whose early EP, 'An Ideal For Living', featured a drawing of a Hitler Youth member banging a drum. The unapologetic Joy Division - who later metamorphosed into the even more Teutonic-sounding New Order - remain one of the most influential groups on the planet, with a forthcoming biopic of Ian Curtis, a documentary on the group and a series of reissues all due later this year.
Back in the pre-Joy Division Seventies, Mick Jagger once asked Riefenstahl to photograph him with his wife Bianca. Back then, Ferry's pal and fellow glam rock pioneer David Bowie was the coolest pop star on the planet. Following a cocaine-fuelled sojourn in Berlin, Bowie famously arrived at Victoria station for a press conference in an open-topped, black Mercedes from which he seemed to give the Nazi salute. This on the back of some mid-Seventies American interviews in which he claimed that 'Britain is ready for a fascist leader', and called Hitler 'one of the first rock stars'. In his defence, Bowie later pointed out that he was wired on cocaine, dismissed the salute as a wave and pointed out that saying Britain was 'ready' for a Fuhrer was not the same as saying it 'needed' one. Was that an apology? Not really.
The coming of punk rock took Nazi chic to another level - as in deeper and dumber. Both Siouxsie Sioux and the predictably moronic Sid Vicious had a fondness for the swastika as the ultimate punk fashion accessory-cum-shock tactic. In early photographs of punk's inner-circle, Siouxsie sports an authentic SS armband. She seemed to wise up as fame beckoned, but Sid continued to wear his swastika T-shirts with pride, despite the derision of his more left-leaning punk compatriots. He also, lest we forget, wrote the creepiest song in the Sex Pistols' repertoire, 'Belsen Was a Gas', which he claimed was 'a joke'. On the sleeve of a tacky live album, it was credited as 'Einmel Belsen war wirklich vortreflich', which is a bad translation of the line, 'Once Belsen was brilliant'. Sid, of course, was the ultimate fall guy for manager Malcolm McLaren, who really should have known better but never seemed to. Malcolm has yet to apologise for anything, ever.
In the pre-punk Seventies, dressing up as a Nazi was a more pantomime affair. Before Freddie Starr made it famous, though not altogether funny, Keith Moon of the Who, and his regular drinking buddy, Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, liked to amuse themselves, but hardly anyone else, by donning Nazi uniforms and staggering around the East End of London.
Stanshall, a rock Dadaist if ever there was one, introduced the Bonzo's classic cool jazz parody 'The Intro, the Outro' with the immortal line, 'And, looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes!' Which proves you can namecheck the Fuhrer and be funny. Unlike French rocker Serge Gainsbourg, who recorded a very odd concept album called Rock Around the Bunker which comprised several dreadful songs including 'Nazi Rock' and 'Tata Teutonne'. Songs that mention the Nazis are blessedly few and far between these days, but Primal Scream's recent 'Swastika Eyes' has just been covered by veteran art rockers Suicide. I doubt either version will ever make it on to Bryan Ferry's iPod, though.
By Dean Goodman
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Iggy Pop marked his 60th birthday on Saturday just like any other respectable senior citizen would.
The eerily athletic "Godfather of Punk" stripped down to a tight pair of blue jeans and dived off the stage into the arms of his adoring fans during a concert in San Francisco with his reunited band the Stooges.
Towards the end of the 80-minute show, the crowd at the Warfield theater sang along as his bandmates struck up "Happy Birthday," and Pop was surprised as balloons bearing his image dropped from the ceiling.
A fan also handed him a white T-shirt inscribed "Birthday Boy Iggy," which the singer proudly displayed to his unimpressed bandmates.
Pop, whose real name is Jim Osterberg, seemed thrilled by all the attention, but did not dwell too much on the special occasion. He muttered a few thanks along the way before resuming his usual routine: manic singing and dancing, spitting into the crowd, scampering onto the speakers and throwing his microphone stand around the stage.
During the song "No Fun," he invited fans in the mosh pit to jump onto the stage, and generously shared his microphone with the motley troupe he termed the "Bay Area Dancers."
Pop no longer carves up his chest with a steak knife, rolls around in cut glass, smears himself in peanut butter, or follows a drug regimen that makes Keith Richards look like a choirboy. But the Michigan trailer-park kid otherwise outruns rockers one-third his age.
Pop is back on tour with the Stooges, the band with which he first made a splash in the late 1960s. Their enthusiastic garage rock, a dissonant distillation of Chicago blues and British Invasion rock, helped pave the way for punk rock bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.
The Stooges self-destructed in 1974 after releasing three albums whose influence was not reflected by their meager sales. Pop ended up penniless in the gutters of the Sunset Strip, and checked into a psychiatric hospital. He launched a comeback in 1977 with the help of David Bowie, with whom he co-wrote such tunes as "Lust for Life" and "China Girl."
A prolific recording artist and touring act, he reunited with Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and his brother, drummer Scott Asheton, in 2003. With California punk veteran Mike Watt subbing for late bass player Dave Alexander, they last month released their first album in 33 years, "The Weirdness."
After their North American tour ends on May 4 at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, they will launch a brief summer tour of European festivals.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
THE AVENGERS - Paint it Black @ Universum, Stuttgart
System of a Down-Cigaro (Live at BDO)
Skizoo - Dame Aire
Patti Smith at the Bruce Springsteen Charity Tribute at Carnegie Hall. April 5, 2007
"I'm Gonna Be a Slut" - Pansy Division
Iggy Pop - Sixteen
Ministry Jesus built my hotrod
Revolting Cocks - Attack Ships on Fire (Live)
Ziggy Marley sings for peace, live in Israel 2006
Stephen Marley "The Traffic Jam" feat. Damian Marley
Damian Marley feat. Stephen Marley - All Night
Seth et Holth starring hide and TUSK. Part 4 (high quality)
Global Tribe - Anarchist Punk Collective in Mexico
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Seth et Holth starring hide and TUSK. Part one(high quality)
Seth et Holth starring hide and TUSK. Part two(high quality)
Seth et Holth starring hide and TUSK. Part 3 (high quality)
Richard Hell & the Voidoids- Blank Generation/Love Comes In
Skinny Puppy - Pro-Test (Live Montreal-Toronto)
DEAD BOYS - Anarchy In The UK
Mucc "Libra" with lyrics and translation
Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun
Ministry - Stainless Steel Providers (Live)
The Heartbreakers LIVE 3 songs RARE original line-up w Hell
Skizoo - Habrá que olvidar
SEX PISTOLS - No Fun - rare live at sweden 1977
Nine Inch Nails - Head Like a Hole
Hole - Celebrity Skin
the Revolting Cocks - Da Ya Think I'm Sexy
The Beat live 1980 from Dance Craze - Ranking Full Stop
das ich - sodom und gomorra (live)
In his father's footsteps
Sunday, April 15, 2007
When your last name is Marley, your birthplace is Kingston, and your chosen career is reggae musician, you could be in danger of never meeting the public's high expectations.
But to Bob Marley's second son, Stephen Marley, the inevitable comparisons his cheekbones and dulcet tones draw to his late superstar father are no burden.
"No, man!" he says, on the phone from New York two days after the March release of his solo album, "Mind Control." "It is an honor being compared to such a great man. Even better that he's my dad."
Although the record uses his father's trademark one-drop as just one of a wide palette of grooves, Stephen doesn't worry about what his father's fans might say.
"I think after time they will get it, they will be convinced, in that sense," he says. "But at the same time, my father would say, 'We can't run away from ourselves.' This is who we are. We are the children of Bob."
Stephen, who will be 35 on Friday, is releasing his premiere CD at an age when most pop stars are in their golden years. (His father died at age 36 in 1981 from complications of cancer, with more than a dozen albums completed.) But he realized what his destiny would be early on. Born in 1972, as his father was perched on the edge of international success, Stephen spent his early years dancing and singing onstage with his dad's band the Wailers. At age 7, he joined brother Ziggy and sisters Cedella and Sharon in the Melody Makers, and had a global hit with "Children Playing in the Streets." He spent his teenage years touring the world with them, trying to live up to their billing as the rightful heirs to their father's throne.
Perhaps such expectations explain why Stephen Marley has taken a relaxed approach to his 27-year career. Since the Melody Makers ended, he has played primarily a background role, bringing musical muscle to releases that usually feature his brothers in the Ghetto Youth Crew. He executive-produced the 1999 hit compilation album "Chant Down Babylon," an update of his father's music for the hip-hop generation. He has overseen the breakout career of his half brother Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, whose 2005 album, "Welcome to Jamrock," slowly grew into a critical and popular smash. He has quietly amassed five Grammys. "Mind Control" is, characteristically, off to a low-key but promising start. It sold 20,000 in its first week and premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard reggae chart and No. 35 on the album chart.
"You know in soccer? I'm like the link man. I put that ball through so that we can score the goals," he says, also calling himself "the leader of the (Marley) army."
Perhaps Stephen is the midfield general of the new Marley generation. "Mind Control" is polished, assured and casually virtuosic in a way that most premieres are raw, edgy and ferociously single-minded. In the same way that hip-hop producers like Timbaland and Just Blaze have renewed rap by emphasizing the music's omnivorous rhythmic appetites, Stephen Marley updates Jamaican music for an era of globalized pop by tracing the connections between local styles. Reggaeton influences show up on "Let Her Dance," bossa nova stylings on "Fed Up." He updates nyabinghi drumming on "Juna Di Red" and pairs classic hip-hop beatboxing with a tried-and-true dance-hall riddim, "The Answer/Never Let Go," on "The Traffic Jam."
"My influences are very vast and wide, from Africa to Mexico," he says. "This music is so close to each other. It's close to Brazilian music. It's close to Nigerian music. So it's universal."
Marley sees his music as "conscious music," and he hopes to turn North American audiences not just toward his own family's messages but to the rebel music of youths from Brazil, Africa and the Caribbean. Yet he disavows any political agenda, in part because of his experiences during the tumultuous years in the 1970s, when his parents were attacked in the midst of warring Jamaican political parties.
"My mother got shot in her head through our voice and our opinion. My father got shot also. In my family, we have had our hands-on experience with politics, and me can tell you that it's a dirty game," he says. "At the same time, not to be naïve, of course we need to have governing bodies for oversee the people's interest. But until we see those people that have the people's interest, I have to be an advocate against politics, because I have seen nothing good out of it in Jamaica. It has been the same from my father's time till now. It even get worse. A lot of youths don't live past 16. It's like a plague."
Stephen brings his family -- now living in Miami as well as in Kingston -- with him on the road as much as he can. "Mind Control's" most moving number is "Hey Baby," a song that began as a lullaby he would sing via phone to his children from the road.
"Every day I pray to Jah that one day you will see and overstand the fact I must fulfill my destiny," Marley sings, before adding in a gentle falsetto, "I'll be coming home to you again."
The album ends with his children singing an old Rastafari chant, and Marley laughing at the sound.
"I tell you the truth, I am always surrounded by my family," he says, noting that Damian and another half brother, Julian, are usually touring with him if his children are not. "Not having my old man around as much as we would have wanted him -- some of that has been missing, of course, so with me and my kids, I make sure that I see them as much and do as much with them to fill that little void. I make sure that I double that for them."
STEPHEN MARLEY performs with Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley at 8 p.m. April 22 at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. $23. (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com.
Jeff Chang is a freelance writer.
This article appeared on page PK - 46 of the San Francisco Chronicle
The couple laughed through the entire session and didn’t hide their affection for each other. Even as the shoot went late into the night, they didn't look tired but seemed to enjoy the moment.
Meanwhile, the couple plans to show off their love on TV, with Jung due to make a cameo appearance in the cable drama "Police Line" at the suggestion of the transgender celebrity, Harisu’s agent said. Harisu said she wanted to work with her fiancé who also helps out by reading her scripts with her. Harisu stars as a female detective on the show. The two will kiss in their scene. Jung also contributed his rapping skills in the recording of Harisu's digital single last winter. The shooting of the drama kicked off on April 9. It will begin airing in June. (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Sunday, April 8, 2007
He's a tall man, Robyn Hitchcock. Not by American basketball team standards, but by English standards he's tall. By rock musician standards, too. He has to fold his body -- dressed in a sharp green wool jacket and luminous purple shirt -- into the seat at the game table we've requisitioned for an interview. We're in Austin, Texas, in the lobby of a movie house where we've just watched a screening of "Sex, Food, Death and Insects," a documentary that follows Hitchcock as he makes an album with his new band, the Venus 3. It consists of Peter Buck, a full-time member of R.E.M., and R.E.M. part-timers Scott McCaughey of Young Fresh Fellows and Bill Rieflin of Ministry. And it's the band that will accompany Hitchcock on Tuesday at Slim's in San Francisco.
This band (and he's had several these past 30-odd years, including the Soft Boys and the Egyptians) is American. The film, though, is very English -- at least the parts shot in the London home Hitchcock shares with his artist wife, Michele Noach. It's all damp brown brickwork and rambling gardens; you almost expect Michael Palin in "Monty Python" old lady drag to pop his head over the fence for a natter. Instead we get John Paul Jones (the former Led Zeppelin bassist and acclaimed producer) and Nick Lowe (the singer and writer and Johnny Cash's only English ex-son in law) dropping by.
Hitchcock, when he's not playing songs, is talking about them -- how they'll come from things that pop into his head like "Note to self: Kill more flies." How they'll often start out dark, but he'll make them lighter, "otherwise you're making people's difficult lives even worse." Laughter, he says, "is the dateline that you cross when life becomes unbearable." As fans of British TV comedy can attest, very English.
His songs -- music critics tend to call them psych-folk-rock -- are light of touch, surreal, intellectual and whimsical. A bit like the Incredible String Band without the drugs or Syd Barrett without the madness. The new Hitchcock documentary grew out of "Crazy Diamond," which British director John Edginton made about the late Pink Floyd singer-writer Barrett. It was one of a rash of recent film treatments of musicians with mental health issues (Daniel Johnston, Brian Wilson, Roky Erickson).
Hitchcock, though, appears entirely well-adjusted. Musing on the idea that one might consider him a rock casualty, he concludes that "if I were dead or institutionalized, I would probably be a lot more famous." Like most people, he says, he finds life "difficult at times, but I also find things to celebrate, so I'm not a lonesome guy gibbering in an attic. I'm more like Brian Eno. I wander around the world in nice clean clothes and hold forth at festivals. I am currently in the world. What I probably have in common with these other people you mention is I try to find my own language as a songwriter, which probably restricts my appeal because not everybody can pick up on it, but it probably intensifies its appeal to the people who do."
American audiences, he says, are among his largest and most devoted.
"It's probably that the preproduction was done by 25 years of 'Monty Python,' but people in America actually seem to pick up on what I say more than the Brits," he says.
Do Americans understand his dark sense of humor? In one scene in the film, for instance, Gillian Welch, who made a guest appearance on his album "Spooked," talks about being a bit creeped out by the lyrics of his song "Dead Wife."
The short version of Hitchcock's long, measured answer is that he does think that Americans in general, his fans obviously excepted, have "trouble looking at their own dark side," mostly because the United States is a country more interested in looking forward than back, since it's "a relatively recent country, one that is not based on memory but on erasing the indigenous culture, so it does not want to remember things. You can see that in the way those great old buildings from the '20s and '30s are being knocked down. It's like a cancer of memory being erased.
"Britain, on the other hand, is older and much more fatalistic. You assume that things mess up, that you won't succeed, that if you're waiting for a bus it doesn't come, your relationship will go wrong, you'll get fired from your job. Everything is ultimately for the worst and futile. But with that mind-set you can almost sit back and laugh and go, 'Well, it's not going to work anyway, so let's take it easy.' You're actually very protected from what life throws at you. Whereas the Americans would say, 'Why not? We can do something. Sue the bastard who threw you out of your job.' "
He says he likes that "America never stopped rocking. The Brits sort of did. In Britain, as a whole, there's been this thing since the mid-'70s, where rock became very uncool and was renounced by the British hipsters. It was OK if it was punk rock or art rock or new wave -- everything had to disguise itself as something else. I mean, the Clash was really a rock band, but they couldn't call themselves that. They had to be a punk band, though when they came to America, people realized they were a great rock band."
Two countries separated by more than a language?
"Maybe. But personally, I've not had a problem. And I've found that people on the West Coast are particularly hip," Hitchcock says.
He's had a long, warm relationship with the Bay Area.
"I'd always wanted to come to San Francisco because I was a big fan of Country Joe and the Fish in the '60s," he says. "I would dream of going out to Berkeley and tripping in the Haight and all that stuff, and I finally got there in 1985, sort of 10 years after it was all over. But I was very excited to be there, and in fact I had two successive girlfriends from San Francisco with the same name. I went to see the Airplane reunion in '89, and one time I played in Golden Gate Park. Oh, and I recorded an album in San Francisco in 1989 and '90, 'Eye.'
"In fact," it just occurs to him, "the 2-inch tapes for 'Eye' are still in (the) studio. So ... I left my tapes in San Francisco."
ROBYN HITCHCOCK performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Slim's, 333 11th St., San Francisco. $18-$20. (415) 255-0333, www.slims-sf.com. Sylvie Simmons is a freelance writer.
Sylvie Simmons is a freelance writer.
This article appeared on page PK - 40 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Sex ed fails to raise teen abstinence
ABSTINENCE-only education programs meant to teach children to avoid sex until marriage fail to control their sexual behaviour, a US Government report says.
Teenagers who took part in the programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, the survey found.
The report, ordered by Congress, was not released by the Health and Human Services Department, but by activists and a California Democratic congressman, Henry Waxman.
The report revived debate on government abstinence-only education programs, which are strongly supported by President George Bush's Administration.
"For both the program and control group youth, the reported mean age at first intercourse was identical, 14.9 years," says the report.
Teens in both groups were just as likely to use condoms or birth control — countering critics of abstinence-only education, who say children ignorant of how to protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases will have more unprotected sex.
For the report, Christopher Trenholm and colleagues at Mathematica Policy Research interviewed more than 2000 teenagers with an average age of 16½, living in rural and urban communities. About 1200 had taken part in abstinence-only education programs four to six years before.
"Over the last 12 months, 23 per cent of both groups reported having had sex and always using a condom; 17 per cent of both groups reported having had sex and only sometimes using a condom; and 4 per cent of both groups reported having had sex and never using a condom," the researchers wrote.
About 25 per cent in both groups had already had sex with three or more partners.
"This data supports what a growing body of public health evidence has indicated: abstinence-only programs don't protect teen health," said Mr Waxman. "In short, American taxpayers appear to have paid over 1 billion federal dollars for programs that have no impact."
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