CINCO DE MAYO… Y DESPUES

Nezahualc├│yotl

One of my favorite Mexican bands calls themselves Super Grupo Colombia. They’re one of those groups who have moments so good they cease being songs or even hits and pass into the DNA of things, transformed into a reference and departure point for cumbia lovers everywhere.

Today was Cinco de Mayo. I ate my breakfast, I had my NY day, and down in Mexico hundreds celebrated this holiday with the start of a 4-day peace march (#marchanacional) beginning in the city of Cuernavaca and moving towards Mexico City, where it will conclude this Sunday. Envio un abrazo solidario. As Geraldine Juarez writes, the march is “to demand the end to the ‘War on Drugs’ and the removal of all government officials responsible for more than 35,000 deaths and the increase of insecurity and corruption.”

Here’s an important video from poet Javier Sicilia, “who became the leading voice of the discontent towards the government’s method of tackling the drug trafficking problem after his son Juan Francisco was killed.” It’s important to me because I fell in love with Mexico, it captured me like no other country has. Cinco de Mayo fiestas & tequila shots can ease the weight of now, but it’s a weight I want to feel. Before we can begin to care about the impact of American drug consumption and U.S. drug policy on the tens of thousands of Mexicans dead, we have to feel… that Mexican problems are American problems. Not just intimate, but interchangeable. You make a border real by policing it, and there’s a disturbing corollary: living in the United States and ignoring the political situation in Mexico helps feed the violence of that border. Wanting to be ‘global’ or ‘cosmopolitan’ is missing the point — so slippery and abstract as to be useless. We should try to be good neighbors and take it from there.

I might not be thinking these thoughts if it weren’t for cumbia. That’s why I’m putting up this Super Grupo Colombia song. The lyrics aren’t topical – though their flow on the chorus never ceases to amaze – it’s simply a nice song from Mexico, and golden minutes help fuel long hours.

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Super Grupo Colombia – Cumbia de la Dinastia

BIN ADJECTIVE LADEN: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

nettleBin

[Nettle, Bin Scrape Laden 12″ EP. Soot Records, 2001]

Everything seems a bit odd these days — a feeling I’m trying to get used to. As places go about compiling their Osama Bin Laden lists, such as PlayGround’s Ten OBL Disses & Tributes, I figure it’s time to clarify:

In 2001 I released a 12″ EP called Bin Scrape Laden. It hit shops around February, well before the September 11th deadline… On the inner vinyl ‘run out groove’ I had them inscribe the standard airport security phrase: “Are you carrying anything that might be considered a weapon?” The vinyl disc came packaged in rough cardboard record jackets that I hand-branded with the Arabic word for ‘Soot’ (and nearly burnt down the Madrid apartment Rocio & I were renting, but that’s another story).

When 9/11 happened, a lot of people who knew the record got in touch, asking — only half-joking — if the C.I.A. had contacted me. I came up with the name after I’d read breakcore pioneer DJ Scud’s 1998 article on Osama Bin Laden (which is weird in & of itself) in Christoph Fringelli’s Datacide zine. Scud had turned in an incredible remix for the EP. And most of the sounds I was sculpting those days sounded a lot like scraped-up trash bins. So the title clicked into place, although nobody got the play on words… until September 11th came and reconfigured our world.

Here’s a track from Bin Scrape Laden, produced by yrs truly under the name Nettle in the simpler days of 1999/2000. It’s named after a (sadly defunct) Pans y Company bocadillo.

T-nettle bin scrape laden-SOOT003-001T-nettle bin scrape laden-SOOT003-001T-nettle bin scrape laden-SOOT003-001

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Nettle – Serranito

So yes, I am available for presidential-level geopolitical consultation gigs and/or palm readings.

The “hidden moral” of this story is that it takes a lot of time, money, and people to make vinyl records, even weird Arabic influenced noise-beat ones with a strong prophetic bent.

In Casablanca last month Maggie and I went to the address of Hassania Editions. A major major label in the 70s, 80s, and beyond. Nothing but a dental surgeon on the top floor. The motorcycle shop dudes next door had no idea. The guy selling candy in a nearby doorway remembered, vaguely, when it had closed. About five years back. We walked around the neighborhood, a ‘popular’ one which would feel like a dangerous slum in the Americas but in Morocco it felt – was – safe, active, the opposite of shady. Spicy greasy bread and the best almonds I’d ever eaten and the first disc seller is peddling Zinga Zinga video CDs — humorous Gaddafi youtubery. Because sometimes you have to laugh. To keep from… I bought the MP3 CD this unlabeled tune came from at the second disc seller. I can’t make out the name(s) in the beginning… Carlos? Anybody?

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Mudd Unknown – from ‘Chaabi One 2010’ / Casablanca

It’s gorgeous. 11 minutes, a stroll rather than an appointment. Make it to the nine minute mark and you get rewarded by one of those Maghrebi rhythmic accelerations that remind you you’ve been drinking tea all day. That the heart can quicken. That love is real. That time runs in one direction: out.

PRINCESS IN A MERCEDES

800px-Alma tunnel Paris

[Pont de l’Alma tunnel, Paris. Wikipedia]

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she’s inconsistent, but she’s still alive…

A haunting new song from Anne-James Chaton & Andy Moor. Haunting: presences which do not, cannot leave. Even – especially – after the song ends. Music as quiet constant supplement to the historical record.

she’s in a hotel, a palace, at the Ritz, in Paris…

available now as a 7″ on the Unsounds label!