CONFESSIONS OF A DJ

…is the name of a piece of mine recently published in n+1. I mentioned this before – now there’s an excerpt online.

This issue also contains a nice Bolaño poem, yet another anxious-to-crown Bolaño review which leaves you with the impression that the reviweing author hasn’t read anybody else from Latin America except García Márquez and maybe Vargas Llosa (we don’t need more reviews of The One Or Two Big Foreign Authors, we need more translations – of everybody else), and David Harvey discussing the financial crash.

Here’s the beginning. An excerpt of the excerpt. if you’re into it, it’s worth getting the journal, as the piece is long, offline and in full honesty/demystification mode:

I’ve DJed in more than two dozen countries. What I do isn’t remotely popular in any of them.

It’s hard to reach North Cyprus—the Turkish portion of the island that seceded after a war with Greece in 1974—not least because only one country, Turkey, officially recognizes it. Yet there we were, whizzing through arid country past pastel bunker-mansions, the architectural embodiment of militarized paranoia and extreme wealth, en route to an empty four-star hotel. We were going to rest for a day and then play music in the ruins of a crusader castle. It was the year 2000. I was the turntablist for an acid jazz group from New York City. The band didn’t really need a DJ, but it did need someone to signify “hip-hop,” and that was me. There were six of us—our saxophonist leader, Ilhan Irsahim; a singer, Norah Jones, before she was known for anything besides being Ravi Shankar’s daughter; a bassist, a drummer, and a Haitian sampler-player. There were four attendants in the hotel casino, bored behind the gaming tables, and only two other paying guests—British pensioners, holdovers from remembered pre-1974 days when Cyprus was undivided.

I sat beside the pool talking to our host, trying to figure out why we were there. Down the coast, thirty miles away in the haze, a tall cluster of glass-and-steel buildings hugged the shore. “What’s that city?” I asked. It looked like Miami. “Varosha,” she said. Completely evacuated in the 1974 conflict. A ghost town on the dividing line between North and South Cyprus. The only people there were UN patrol units and kids from either side who entered the prohibited zone to live out a J. G. Ballard fantasy of decadent parties in abandoned seaside resorts.

If North Cyprus represented the forgotten side of a fault line of global conflict, how were we getting paid? Who owned those scattered mansions that we saw on the way from the airport? Was our trip bankrolled with narco-dollars, to please the criminals hiding out in an empty landscape, or with Turkish state funding, to win tourists back? I never found out. I bought a laptop with my earnings, quit the band, and moved from New York to Barcelona.

7 thoughts on “CONFESSIONS OF A DJ”

  1. cool…will read… im a recent fan of mudd up, but listen to it in the pod cast version cuz i live in barcelona… and for next new years special i suggest
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUnw0vsGLyE
    this song, i don’t know if you know it already…its a tradition in many latin american countries to listen to it on new years and maybe it can become a gringo tradition and its an awesome song… and this is a gift… i dont not if you know it already but it was a hit couple of years ago from panama…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtMx8Ll5DO4&feature=related
    si te metes conmigo te saco la gillette!
    thanks for the program! i really enjoy it!

  2. Haha I can’t tell from your review whether I should kicked down the $10 to buy this mag or not (that’s assuming I can find copies at City Lights or Green Apple.) I mean yet another piece on the financial crisis sure does sound exciting. . .

  3. haha yes. i havent had time to read more than those, its pretty thick.. when in doubt, find it in a bookstore where you won’t get bad looks for reading w/o buying….

  4. Hey Jace,
    I’ve been resisting buying the n+1, only bc I’m trying not to bring additional paper into the house if I’m not going to read more than once, but now I want to see your writing in longer mode. Pido cacao, I give up.

    Don’t get me started on the translation thing, it’s something I’m thinking and writing about of late…

    We need to do another taco night on 5th Ave. soon! Abrazos a Rocio…

  5. I’m broke (what else is new?) but I gave in to subscribing to the magazine. The topics seemed relevant & I’m quite curious about your piece as someone who’s completely surrounded by dj culture from all sides.

    thank you.

  6. That was a great piece in N+1, thanks for that!

    I am a swedish journalist who would like to ask you a question. Would you send me an email? Couldn’t find contact info.

    best/
    emil

  7. Finally came across that journal at St. Marks Book Store. Good point about the economic whiplash musicians get when crossing borders. This is one reason it’s so important to create regional support systems.

    What you said about choosing between money and music is extremely relevant. But I would have added nuance to that by saying your PRIORITY has to be money or music. If you expect everyone to stay broke, you’ll lose everyone by their 20s. But the goal definitely has to be making art, with money as a means to an end.

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