Touring with The Ex was a wonderful experience, even in cities like Chicago where a predominantly ‘rock’ audience has overtrained themselves into a ‘stare-at-the-spectacle-onstage’ template. Minneapolis and Baltimore were the best — folks got loose during my set and the energy just kept mounting as The Ex took over. “I saw The Ex last night, and they were probably better than any band I’ve seen in the last five years!” There’s talk of us touring Ethiopia together, stay tuned…
Here’s a more recent Ex track, from their 2004 CD, Turn.
The Ex – Huriyet
i’ll write more about the tour later, mmmm, maybe even review a review or two. Because I am not down with music journos who both can’t I.D. any of the tracks The Ex played and write about my set only referencing the tunes they can recognize. Epistemological corniness will not be tolerated…
Met up with Michael Taussig and Marcus the other day. On the way over I was leafing through Taussig’s My Cocaine Museum — one of those asymptotic books that i haven’t finished, because it is too good; the closer to the end the slower i go — and was reminded, yet again, of just how special the darn thing is. The rigor, rhythm, and quickmix effervescence of his prose underscore the conservatism (structural if not social as well) of most lauded contemporary fiction writers.
(What other artistic form has changed less over the past 100 years than that of the literary novel? Opera perhaps?) Of course, Taussig isn’t writing a novel; he writes anthropology but bends it deliciously, a slide through thought and heat. The chapter A Dog Growls begins:
A dog growls in the doorway of the house where I am staying in Gaupí. I have never heard this dog growl before. I look out into the street, There are two armed soldiers walking by on patrol in standard-issue camouflage. Strange how the dog picks up what most of us feel but do not express. What would happen if we all growled when soldiers walked by? A whole town growling! How wonderfully appropriate to growl back at the state, mimicking it, growl for growl, watching it magnify in the fullness of biological prehistory, writing being but another form of hair rising on the back of the neck. Slap up against the wall of the forest, you get an acute sense of the thing called the state. To me this is more than a heightening of contradiction exposing something hidden. I think of it as natural history, the natural history of the state.
Writing is sixth sense, what does are supposed to have, same as what filled the space between the words. …
Unleashing dogs on Indians was, like the use of the horse, a principal weapon of conquest by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. J.H. Parry tells us of mastiffs — the name alone makes my hair stand on end — weighing up to two hundred and fifty pounds. Is that possible? Could a dog be that big? Two hundred and fifty pounds of vengeful teeth ripping Indians apart in one leap? These are the canine ancestors of those you see today sniffing in airports, leaping at baggage carousels, and asleep at the feet of guards in black Armani-like outfits in the doorways of pharmacies in Bogotá and Mexico City. “Their dogs are enormous with flat ears and long, dangling tongues,” says a sixteenth-century Native American text found in the Florentine Codex. “The color of their eyes is a burning yellow; their eyes flash fire and shoot off sparks. Their bellies are hollow, their flanks long and narrow. They are tireless and very powerful. They bound here and there, panting with their tongues hanging out. And they are spotted like an ocelot.¨
What beauty there is in these monstrous dogs of prey! And note that other mimesis, not just the one that converts cruelty into hollow-bellied fire, but the fear on the part of at least one conquistador that the Indians might raise dogs to attack the Spaniards! Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, fabled conquerer of what is today called Columbia, told his kind early in the sixteenth century that as the Spaniards had made gifts of dogs to Indians, there were now many villages with five hundred to a thousand dogs. He envisaged a day when the country as a whole might rise up “because they could use their packs of dogs against us.” A whole town growling! How wonderfully appropriate to growl back at the state, mimicking it, growl for growl, watching it magnify in the fullness of biological prehistory, writing being but another form of hair rising on the back of the neck.
which reminds me, tomorrow is as good a time as any to quote Galeano on Pinochet, who is dead.