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/////

words by jace.

this is an archive page. click above for the now thing.

vinyl rescue service

» LA MOVIDA

remember the dialup days when it took 15 minutes to download a song? or 83 hours to grab something big & illegal?

Well, you can relive those days over at A Best Truth, a Spanish (language) designy blog with mp3s that take ages to download. 
They offer the
Songs of Almodóvar CD in its track-by-track entirety, perfect for patient thieves who can't find it on bittorent.


 23 songs from Almodóvar films


  five comments |
» QUARTERTONE UNKNOWN

I suspect this is a Maghrebi singer/violinist & band recorded live and released on a Saudi label bootlegged by Moroccans, but I might be really wrong.

  I could find out but i'm too lazy.

The music is excellent though - no doubts there:


   ? - cd track 4


This song builds and builds, Andalusi style violin nimbling in and out of percussion and handclaps. The more you surrender the better it gets.

    If the head can't count the hips or toes can. i picked up this CD-r & photocopy version in a Lavapiés music shop several years ago.

  one comment |
» DUPPY HI-FI

Lookin' to email the Skull Disco crew I stumbled across a 25-min. dubsteppity mix by Shackleton on their site. Whale-blubber bass, lots of doubletime ethnic drumhits, & the sounds of people slamming car doors and hitting desks with wooden rulers in enormous reverb-filled warehouses.


My tiny pc speakers suggest that is all quite deep:

  Shackleton - Soundboy Beg Mercy mix


head here for taster mp3s of their buyable stuff


  two comments |
» JAZZ THE FOX


Word the Cat, great fox audioblog, delivers Sun Ra & Niblock drones!


Lest you were sleeping, WTC's mp3-laden free jazz post is still live. free flights on the Trans-Love Airways... 


  No comments |
» YEAR TWO TIRED PASSPORT

Fat Planet hosts a gleefully international


   legal mp3 end-of-year comp.



Konono # 1 (aka the Congolese band who blew up Andy's amp), funk carioca, me as remixed by Timeblind, and rather deliciously, a Huun Huur Tu track that eases up on the throat singing and foregrounds that subtle unhurried Tuvan melodic sensibility... Keak would be proud! It's gorges!


  No comments |

Tuesday 31 January 2006 at 12:42 am


PAIK:You just talked about how we have to learn to use our senses. So, there are three classical visions: Plato said that the word “conception” is the most important thing; St. Augustine said that sound is the most profound; and Spinoza said that vision is the most profound. Now, TV commercial has everything. (Laughter)

                  *   

SHIRLEY: I’m very curious about what Paik wants to say now, because I wonder about how he felt about being able to be part of something like the Experimental Television Lab.

PAIK: My position from the beginning was, though I’ll do all that I can do, that I thought the best thing I can do is not to exercise any of my personal influence, so that it can be as open as possible, and then, I thought of doing as Lao Tzu said, the doing of not-doing.


TRANE

Saturday 28 January 2006 at 5:34 pm

Trane was the loudest, fastest saxophonist I've ever heard. He could play real fast and real loud at the same time and that's very difficult to do.. But Trane could do it and he was phenomenal. It was like he was possessed when he put that horn in his mouth. He was so passionate -- fierce -- and yet so quiet and gentle when when wasn't playing. A sweet guy.
                                        --Miles Davis, The Autobiography


  WordtheCat sows Coltrane knowledge & sound


The bluntness, brilliance, and recurring atmosphere of derangement found in Miles' memoir make for a very readable book. He praises Trane more than any other player, for example, but doesn't shy away from the yucky details of working with a genius who, like Miles earlier, happened to spend several years as a major heroin addict:


...the shit with Coltrane wasn't funny like it was with Philly Joe. You could laugh at Joe's shit, but with Trane it was getting to be pathetic. He'd be playing in clothes that looked like he had slept in them for days, all wrinkled up and shit. Then, he'd be standing up there when he wasn't nodding -- picking his nose and sometimes eating it.


The critical consensus surrounding John Coltrane advocates constant sanctification: if he's a saint, then it is musical heresy to contradict what Word refers to as the "official account [which] argues that jazz reached its historical/evolutionary peak with Coltrane and when he died, innovation died." There is something deadening and derogatory about this reading, the way it mutes and overlooks all that came after Coltrane... 

    Which is why Miles' depiction of him as grubbily human is bizarrely refreshing to folks who don't believe that the black avant-garde died on July 17, 1967.

            Negro saints eat chitlins & other pigparts and sometimes fall into the eye of a needle.

'Innovation' in music is mutation, misunderstanding, theft, kindness and unkillability, nothing to do with a cumulative peak or clear leader. Replacing avant-garde 'mountain' metaphors with metaphors of fever: how contagious, whether it burns hot or cold, spreads slow or fast, whether the afflicted survives the affliction, whether it has crept inside your body and touched your bloodstream too.


plus: You are not allowed to sleep on Word's last mp3, from Alan Silva & the Celestial Communication Orchestra. (the true sound of democracy is discordant)
23 minutes, slinks in almost quietly, growing towards a multi-layered & ferocious thing. I hear lasers at some point, lots of lasers, and twisting metal, and focused musicians.

    Then stillness swoops down from the sky's rafters.

BUDGET FLIGHTS, RHYTHM & FEVER

Monday 23 January 2006 at 4:33 pm

gypsy / traveler / nomad / tourist


SkyScanner is an extremely useful budget airline search engine for flights in Europe. In case, say, you needed a cheap ticket to Amsterdam... or just wanted to get some Old World sightseeing in before the oil crash.

...speaking of nomadicity, don't forget 6109. cryptic, infrequent, rewarding.
   rich information outside the usual containers.

          check the tune behind the cup of (milky tea?).
          Ali El Deek's 13 blessed minutes.

that and Rhythm & Sound ("With the Artists", "See Mi Yah") are the only things i can even think about listening to tonite; certain riddims have no real walls or ceiling or beginning or end, you simply inhabit them, multiplied and supine or dancing inside their singularity.
When Rhythm & Sound are good they are that good, credible & incredible rooted versions of reggae, spirit fever intact.


 here's an excerpt from a live radio mix i did a thousand days ago (give or take a few),
 Rhythm &Sound's 'Empire' riddim with Aaliyah floating on top, rest in peace

               DJ /rupture - track 1 from Radio Mix 58:62


MI-SER-REE!!

Sunday 22 January 2006 at 2:17 pm


 "I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves.”
                    -- August Strindberg


Can't remember how I stumbled across his Inferno diary, but if you are attracted to bugged-out late 19th-century European lit., Inferno provides a highly readable & disturbing/entertaining look at (his own) fullblown Swedish psychosis.


If you dont have time/inclination to dog-ear a journal of madness I suggest Strindberg and Helium, a hilarious flash animation based in part on fragments from Inferno. Especially:


                 Strindberg at home with the Kids


GHETTO COUNTERIMAGINARY

Friday 20 January 2006 at 12:26 pm

When Bird left New York he was a king, but out in Los Angeles he was just another broke, weird, drunken nigger playing some strange music. Los Angeles is a city based on celebrating stars and Bird didn't look like no star.

                                    - Miles Davis, Miles: the Autobiography


Edges of the personal kingdom. Context as conflict.
How far can you go before the people around you think you a freak?

        (just another broke, weird, drunken nigger playing some strange music



Bodies are becoming like cities, their temporal coordinates transformed into spatial ones. In a poetic condensation, history has been replaced by geography, stories by maps, memories by scenarios... urban culture is like a hall of mirrors, its reflections reproduced to infinity. Confronted with their own technological images, the city and the body become ruins. Even technology is attacked by an obsolescence that renders it old instantly. We are faced with a transitory landscape, where new ruins continually pile up on each other. It is amid these ruins that we look for ourselves.

                                  - Celeste Olalquiaga, Megalopolis


Slamming tangentially into the Brazilian favela's prickly post-Apatheid cityspace -- music can travel & live outside the ghetto, but what about the people who make it? Please send clear directions to the nearest quilombo, with a map of who-profits-from what -- here's some funk carioca.

  On the conscious tip. dp interprets: "good stuff. smart lyrics. a little depressing. Dad sees his kid on his knees begging for mercy with a gun to his head."

    Welcome to the ghetto counterimaginary. Strong singing here.

                 Rick e os Muleques - Rap da Favela

I live there, I know how it is. to live in the favela you need to have faith. pra viver na favela tem que ter fé.


A lot of funk carioca incorporates techno in a fresh & bouncy way that seems destined to eventually make Teutonic Europeans go wild. This next track is exciting for its male-female MC sparring (i'm a sucker for that) and the glistening neo-raving trappings (think reverb-drenched synth stabs)

                     Bola de Fogo e as Foguentas - Atoladinha

Someone called me on the phone, it was me--fireball.
    "hot track. yes, a hit.



SP graf via Bastien

SONIC ACTS XI, LIVE DATA

Tuesday 17 January 2006 at 8:44 pm


the Sonic Acts festival in Amsterdam now has a functional info website. Head there & click on Friday for the full details on the night I'm presenting, Fri. Feb 24.


(The Bug feat. Ras B, Beans, Ghislain Poirier, DJ /rupture +  No Lay + G-Kid, Hrvatski, Gustav, Scotch Egg, DroptheLime, Skepta and Jammer + Matt Shadetek and Sheen, Aaron Spectre, Ove-Naxx, Filastine, Nettle, 2/5 BZ, Planning to Rock, Toktek & MNK, Andy Moor + Rupture, Doddodo)


Tickets are available online: Sonic Acts 11 - Donderdag 24 F is what you want.

    ...12.50 euros is real reasonable for this sort of thing


We are working on a special webpage for Friday, with hot mp3frees and other stuff to get you amped enough to get off the internet and come meditate on transnational bass migration with us.


 below is the introduction text for the whole festival -- 3 days of conference & nighttime party.

(more)

OPEN YOUR OJOS / WELMO GRATIS

Monday 16 January 2006 at 02:05 am

crashing after a long day in the studio (benettled, we) so on the quick -- my man Welmo is offering a FREE MIXTAPE of his hi-quality rap.

 

Strong lyrics, spot-on flow, Chaman's chunky production --  all in all a welcome reminder that reggaeton ain't the only sound booming out of Puerto Rico:

         Welmo - Abre Los Ojos mixtape



I'm especially feeling El Peso, Abre Los Ojos, Traigo, and La Causa


Si A Plomo Vives, our tune together (via Sasha Splice) recently made it to vinyl on Broklyn Beats, although it may have reached your ears via Gold Teeth Thief.


   (the mix is Alejandro Amenábar-themed too, with sampled Najwa Nimri whispering the title throughout...)


BUTTER, DARKO, MO'

Friday 13 January 2006 at 11:50 am

       some linkage and audible D.Darko twists but first a little poetry --


If you've heard the opening track on Special Gunpowder, you know I'm a fan of Elizabeth Alexander. On it she read from her third volume, Antebellum Dream Book. She has since published a fourth, The American Sublime, and Elizabeth's work is precisely that. Below are the last lines from a poem in her second book, Body of Life. Which swirls with death and vivacity. There are sex poems, food poems, fabulous poems, poems about aspirin or cough syrup or 'Stravinsky in L.A.'

    This is the end of 'Butter', an incandescent & high-caloric word-tumble of a poem:


                                    ...When I picture
        the good old days I am grinning greasy
        with my brother, having watched the tiger
        chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
        Mumbo and Jumbo's children despite
        historical revision, despite
        our parent's efforts, glowing from the inside
        out, one hundred megawatts of butter.




         *         *         *      

 

It's subtle, but she achieves a rare balance between poetry written to be read and poetry written to be spoken, each way utters new meanings. Or, these poems i voice aloud, all smiling and naive like a little kid reading a book. Butter a mantra to melt on your tongue. Because
 

   we are Mumbo & Jumbo's children, despite historical revision.



        *         *         *       

If you thought I was being too easy on Barcelona in my last post, I suggest you read this article (PDF, en Castellano. gracias a Dani P por el link).

"What we believe -- and what this report intends to demonstrate -- is that Barcelona-as-a-brand, instead of representing a seductive urban alternative, constitutes an authentic laboratory of postmodern fascism: the testing grounds of a new regime of domination that isn't based on discipline and consensus, but rather on the total mobilization of difference towards a single project, towards a single world, towards a single reality."



       ///////

   Donnie Darko.

Wikipedia reports: "Donnie Darko has occasionally been attacked for encouraging and romanticizing suicidal behavior and insanity. Fans often respond that this misses the point, and looks at the film from exactly the shallow level of thought it is trying to combat." Giant bunnies, time travel, and -



  • Gary Jules - Mad World

    you've probably heard this stirring acoustic piano+voice cover of the Tears for Fears classic already, but hey, we're blogging.
          Rules are soft here, etiquette unclear. The song begins when the movie ends.


        //////


    10 Ten Banned Albums.

    Banned, then burned, then replayed! First, these sound great. Stravinsky skipping and swooping, unexpected gasps of harmony. Nice to see he and Mahler on a list with Prince, Cat Stevens, and NWA. Second, and more importantly -- this isn't just a pleasant conceptual piece (Christian Marclay wrings his manicured hands and crys out: why didn't i think of it first!?) --

    it is a glorious testament to the non-destroyability of vinyl, to the stubborn stubborn persistence of sound captured in LP format. F*ck you and your CD collection. [via]


            ///////


a wealth of potentially useful articles for people who make music by peering into computer monitors and tiny LCD screens: Computer Music Tutorials. [via]


Telemarketer Counter-script, hilarious & on-point. In all honesty, i mess with telemarketers when they manage to find my number, but this ups the game to a whole new level. Works well as a more-linear follow-up to This Book Can Be Used As A Floation Device.


JOYRIDE WHOLESALE CHOP

Wednesday 11 January 2006 at 01:31 am

first tune. Lady Saw on Dave Kelly's megahit riddim: Joyride, a reggae classic from 96.


        Lady Saw – Sycamore Tree (Joyride riddim)


I'm gonna resist the urge to turn this into a thematic post on anti-fellatio pop hits in reggae (tropical Victorianism = an unexpected side-effect of British colonialization. but is Mr Vegas crazy? & wasn't CeCile beefing with Lady Saw over 'bowing'? Sizzle's CeCile post is hot, BTW) –

since it's more interesting to head to London, where the Slew Dem grime crew (teenagers all?) take the Joyride beat and just break it,


        Slew Dem – Joyride riddim

break the hit's bones and re-set them at awkward angles – something twitchy and demanding replaces the voluptous bounce of Kelly's original – yet the kid can still walk. Also wild b/c they take Joyride and chop it wholesale: raw reinventive theft. I can get with that.


This flip side to this 12" is 'Da Shooting Range': strung-out piano timbres & gunshots with a little something indicating where the beat should be.

SEE YOU IN NL!

Monday 09 January 2006 at 12:54 pm

Last year the Sonic Acts Festival in Holland invited me to curate/host a night of their 2006 edition. A few months later, I'm proud to say we've put together a Very Strong Lineup... a wildly international group of men & women responsible for some of the most exciting sounds in recent memory, from grime/dubstep to bellydance punk to mutant hiphop to ragga, breakcore, to accordeon+voice electronica. And, as always, more...

All these underground superstars will gather at Amsterdam's Paradiso on Friday February 24, and you should come join us too!   (No excuse if you aren't in the country -- so many budget airlines...)     ok, here's the lineup! more info & links to tickets here--


    SONIC ACTS XI, FRIDAY FEB. 24 @ THE PARADISO
          DJ /rupture presents:


        The Bug feat. Ras B

        Beans

        Hrvatski

        Skepta

        Jammer

        Ghislain Poirier

        No Lay

        Drop the Lime

        Aaron Spectre

        Vex'd

        Matt Shadetek

        Ove-Naxx

        Nettle

        Scotch Egg

        2/5 BZ

        Doddodo

        Filastine

        G-Kid

        Gustav

        DJ Sheen

        Planning to Rock

        & yrs truly, DJing for Mcs No Lay + G-Kid & doing an improv set (decks & guitar) with The Ex's Andy Moor.


oh yeah, the next night, Saturday, looks pretty good too! (less insanely ambitious, more technoid): Jason Forrest, AGF + Sue Cie, Matthew Dear, etc...


TOP 10 UNTYPED, MOST NEGATED UNKNOWNS

Wednesday 04 January 2006 at 9:16 pm


So Three Six Mafia's Rumsfeldian opus The Most Known Unknowns has been steadily growing on me, and I start thinking about how culturally awesome it is that a white Midwestern former tax clerk writes all of their lyrics, then dp sends me an old Kool Keith track and storm clouds break upon the plain:


              Kool Keith - I Don't Believe You


Thusly Kool Keith performs his great work of negation. You own a Dodge Truck -- I don't believe you.
   From the 2000 album Matthew, buyable
here.


            *        *        *

               

            My Top 10 Unwritten Posts of 2005


1. "People Who Need People To Help Them Kill Themselves": a Mudd Up! film roundup on a surprisingly fertile sub-subgenre of world cinema. selections from US, Spain, Iran, and UK.


2. Going to sleep in Bristol listening to the British crack dealers on the corner blast out NYC rap about dealing crack.


3. Losing my voice & luggage in London for Overkill. (Technically, SleazyJet lost my luggage)


4. Graffiti in Brazil. Perilous! Unique! No copycat relationship to NYC/American styles. Looks like gothic calligraphy crossbred with illiterate Mason figures.


5. Cultural encryption. a new Mudd Up! meme. #4 as an example of low-level cultural encryption. People outside of graffiti circles can't quite read it, both literally and figuratively (they can't understand it: why kids would risk life and limb to spraypaint their name on a high rise).

The concept of 'pretty good privacy' vis-a-vis 2-meter high words written on a skyscraper by underclass youth.


6. The Austrian in Osaka who gives girls multicolored vomit-inducing liquids to drink and then amplifies their vomit. Who tapes microphones to chickens and then throws the chickens into an audience of polite seated Japanese noise-appreciators. What happened at Ove-Naxx's house when he & his friends found out i own records by this guy.


7. '2006 Grime forecast'. This was gonna be one of those posts that don't "make" a lot of "sense". At the end I would have  expressed my sincere optimistic hope that grime kids will wise up like the dubstep crews and sell their records to distributors (big up Baked Goods/Boomkat) from time to time (instead of only direct to a few London shops), so we grimey fans across the world can get the stuff for less than 14€ a pop, which is how much it costs to get me a 12" here in Spain.
    Plus I hate (ordering music on) the internet.


8. Spanish TV. I was gonna gush about my favorite TV show here, called HomoZapping (it's a pun on ´HomoSapien'), which is a giddy parody of a pastiche, based on the concept of channel surfing. Very irreverent, totally irrelevant!


9. Fotos! I took dozens of pictures here & there, but lost the USB cable to get those images off the camera! A Modern Dilemma. Most of the time, if you are American, your own incompetence doesn't negatively impact your standards of living. In the political arena, ignorance is often a boon. But man, sometimes it sucks to be stupid.



10. Spanish director Luis García Berlanga


ILLEGAL TO BE UGLY IN BARCELONA

Sunday 01 January 2006 at 12:00 am


January 1. A snarl of repressive laws go into effect in Barcelona today. My friend Maggie sums it up, only half-joking: "it is now illegal to be ugly and to do anything that isn't profitable". In this pleasant tourist-fed/tourist-choked town, the following are now illegal if performed in public: playing music, juggling, skateboarding, drinking alcohol, being homeless, spitting, selling things on the sidewalk, 'visually degrading the surroundings', prostitution, rollerblading, acrobatics, postering, reading tarot cards, graffiti, getting tattoos or massages, etc. The list goes on.

I know, I know: you've come to visit Barcelona and it seemed so chic and sexy and open and warm and free. Beautiful buildings, beautiful people. Socially progressive even. If only the reality were as attractive as the appearance...

        Although difficult to believe, our city's new legislation contains lines such as:

  • The lack of civic-mindedness is due to a loss of our own cultural norms.

  • Those who provoke a visual degradation of their surroundings will be sanctioned.

  • Town Hall will adopt all available means to eradicate the phenomenon of homelessness in any of its many forms. . . Beggars will be fined up to 120 euros. In some cases, these fines can be substituted for short informational courses for the beggars.


Hardly surprising that many folks refer to this hostile mess of 'New Civic By-Laws'  as the New Cynic By-Laws!


While officially bilingual Castillian/Catalan, Town Hall has issued the full text* only in Catalan (thus ensuring a smaller, more localized readership -- the ugly side of Barcelona must not be transmitted internationally, that would be bad publicity for a city economically addicted to tourism).

     *Official title: Ordenança de Mesurer Per Fomentar I Garantir La Convivència Ciutadana a L'Espai Públic de Barcelona


I'm encountering difficulty seeing Bcn as anything other than the city of failed expectations, the city of beautiful facades (masking deep shallowness, and inequality under that). It is painful to watch the local government bend over backwards to service the tourism industry and corporate interests. (I wish I were overstating, but I'm not...) To be true, Barça is blessed with a lively and vital activist community, (en català: El Carrer és de Tothom); in a few days I'll translate an acute, hilarious pamphlet circulating on the New By-Laws...

But for now I hand you over to Ethan, a friend. I've excerpted his open e-mail letter about Barcelona (boldface emphasis mine throughout). Ethan says everything far better than I could:

I and many native Catalans, in fact, see Barcelona moving toward losing the unlegislated, custom- (versus law-) ordained, people-regulated modes of community that have bound it together -- the people-centered style for which is it famous and respected.  In the words of a friend, Barcelona is being redeveloped 'for snobs and tourists'.  Barcelona is leaning toward what so many highly esteemed American cities already know too well.  You can't have your 10 Euro a slice of cake and eat it too... all the non-wealthy people pack up and move away, or are forced to.  It leaves your city core dead with the lack of anything unordained by the police, the television, or the daily mail. Finally, and most disastrously, their remains a class of "real" people and everybody else.  The "real" people can pay [...] and the others can not.

These places become the places devoid of the license for human creativity.    Barcelona isn't going to loose its parks, but it has already banned the musicians (me), the football playing kids, and the vendors from using them.  It won't loose its cultural landmarks, but only the wealthy will visit them.  Its earnings from tourism may actually increase, but less of that money will returned to the communities that host it. America has also struggled with these demons, the quest to 'progress' and still retain what common property we've managed to gather... Alaskan wilderness, freedom of speech and privacy, and unbiased education available to all, to name a few timely examples.


The above occurs late in the letter, actually, it begins with thise -- a long read but worth it. The slow socio-economic violence of real estate speculation and 'civic/cynic' by-laws are not unique to Barcelona... OK, back to Ethan:


A woman I'd dated and who'd spend quite a lot of time in France told me 5 years ago that 'the third world begins in America'.  It makes we wonder, again, what 'third world' means. I suppose it means that this is where people are denied basic needs. This, in turn, reminds me of the simple maneuver that I failed to make quickly enough in Barcelona, one that would have secured me free medical help when I needed it and also a basic document with which I could contend for (and ultimately gain) the right to reside in Europe through a process of legalization of immigrants that occurred this year in Spain.

To attain this help from the government, all an immigrant landed in Europe had to do was ask for it. As a white middle class American male, I was almost by definition bound to an ideology of independence (not interdependence), self-sufficiency, distrust of government, and absence of community that led me to stay put and not get my name on a single bloody public document, a document that would have effectively already made me legal in Spain.  I was a fool, afraid of 'The Man'... that he would kick me out of Spain as soon as he knew I was there without a valid visa. More intelligent immigrants who had come to Barcelona had immediately registered themselves with the city, giving them a document that affirmed their identity as foreigners, the document they eventually used to get their residency.

In fact, 'The Man' wanted to give me residence and a work permit to bolster the Catalan economy, the strongest in Spain.  At that time there were around 1/4 million immigrants (mainly South American, Chinese, North and Sub-Saharan African, and non-EU Eastern European) living without legal residency in Catalunya (population 6 million), using public services, not paying taxes.  This is the workforce that does all the jobs that natives don't want to: construction, crop harvesting, physical labor. They are the same workforce that built America but in different conditions, in a different time and place. All in all, it's a brand new phase in its history that Catalunya is entering.  Daily newspapers almost constantly highlight the percentages of foreigners living among Catalans, going to school with their kids, speaking Spanish instead of Catalan.

Asian, African, and Brazilian lawyers, doctors, and executives with Catalan identity are probably still at least a generation off.  The cultural fabric is as complex as early America's was (or more because of the lack of one single language), and the same promise of economic improvement is being offered.  As it is, I continue teaching English classes under the table without my papers, using public services, not paying taxes.  My skin is not dark so I am not bothered by the police or immigration authorities; I have work because I have the good luck to speak the international business language as a native tongue. I wonder though how much equality and opportunity would be available to me were these not the case.

Maybe the third world begins where people start to value their relationships more than their possessions.  To borrow from some educational theory: The rich value their legacy, the middle class, their possessions that allow them become upper class. and the lower classes value their relationships. Places like AS220 (an art center) give people from any social background a context to reestablish the value of relationships above possessions, to create themselves though their artwork.  AS220 works constantly to provide a means for people - and most importantly young people - to find the way away from conflict and towards the creativity we all have though art.  There are not enough AS220s in America, where the things that are worked for in common are returned to the individual people who do the work.  This 'impossible' reality borrows from the round of early America (not the slavery model, the let's-build-a-small-town-in-the-middle-of-nowhere model) as much a it does from the contemporary third world (agricultural co-ops in Africa that support farmers directly) and also from Spain's Second Republic - one of the few (short lived) examples of the success of economic socialism and social equality, the example that Catalunya set for the world early in the past century.
 

I dream of a mind that always looks into the eyes of the individual before that individual is judged for where they come from, what they represent, what they own. I want that mind for myself, and for everyone. That dream of equality, though, is inextricably bound to money, and perhaps it is in the work of procuring money that we first forget the need for equality.  I have been given a room, food, heat, and phone and internet access for free over the past few days. Somehow it has made me acutely aware of all of the stereotypes that whirl though the media, the conversations - the minds that surround me daily, and especially my own.  I want to wipe my mind clean of the cultural assumptions that I have gathered into it and formulated myself, and I have a long way to go. This trip to America is opening my eyes a bit futher to how people are denied their rights because of cultural or economic differences and how I take these for granted.


During my plane trip to Boston, I was reminded of the example the American system presents which, however effective in making us the go-getters that 'bond together and invent', denies that like health care and the dignity to claim one's existence, identity - even in a foreign country - are human rights.  I had a problem with my e-ticket.  Somehow the names were switched around and I had become Mr. John Ethan.  To British Airways and, in fact, the rest of the world save the US (according to BA), this was a small oversight and I was approved to fly.  I was warned, however, that in the United States I might be prevented from entering the country unless I could pay 180 dollars.

It didn't happen, but how would that 180 dollars have changed anything?  How would 180 dollars have confirmed my identity?

What we owe is a very sticky question.  We learn that the world doesn't owe us anything but what do we owe it?  What do we owe our community?  What gives one the right to have an identity, a passport, a name that carries weight and grants us rights?  And when there is no community (or no rights), to whom or what do we turn to find a foothold, a rock upon which to push off and create something worthy of investing in, something that will give us identity?

The only answer that occurs to me is one's community. I have tried to immigrate to Catalunya and failed in the past year but, as the dust clears, I see that this may be directing me toward other places that ache for community, art, and cultural interaction. Barcelona already has so much these things. Meanwhile, I fear that Barcelona is heading toward the same slavery to the media that we've seen occur in America.  Barcelona sells its visual masters (Gaudí, Miró, Dalí, Picasso) easily and indistinguishably from its decorative spoons and silly tourist T-Shirts.  Meanwhile, it has begun in earnest to defend the rights of corporations over those of the people on the street.  A recent police propaganda video in the Barcelona Metro beats one over the head with the fact that selling a pirated DVD on the street is a heinous crime, one worthy of conviction and jail.  The only problem is that the actor who portrays the criminal, despite the hundreds of almost exclusively dark skinned immigrants selling on the streets, was cast as a young, light skinned Catalan.  Thus, the crime - the ideology - becomes the only reality.  Anyone who has lived for more than a month in Barcelona knows that the only people who do this work are the immigrants, the dark-skinned, the almost real.  Ironically, the few Euros they need to feed their children are being taken from them for a crime nearly all of us do these days when we copy a CD.

 

...thus ends the guest post, excepted from an email sent to me by Ethan V. ¡Muchas gracias señor!
         y Feliz año nuevo a tod@s. Nos vemos en la kalle...