NYC Radio airwave sweep, Sunday Sept. 14th.


here’s the first selection. Think about this recording in situ: three days after the September 11th commemorations (most visibly, the twin spotlights in the sky marking the World Trade Center’s absence with their enormous shafts of white-blue light, often framed with Olafur Eliasson’s waterfalls in sight – waterfalls which, lovely though they may be, intimate some large dysfunction: impossible waters, the urban landscape disobeying natural law, and then you see that the stated purpose is that of aiding gentrification and tourism, another kind of ending) on an ominously hot and humid mid-September eve, with the commentor talking nonstop about the end of the world, asking you to contemplate it, call us and tell us what you’d do if the world ended tomorrow.

Then he plays a chilling autotune minor-key violence anthem from the hornets’ nest that is Kingston Jamaica, in a post-hurricane Carribbean (there are also commercials asking for aid to Haiti). This Mavado-inspired tune cuts immediately to a Wal-Mart advertisement (“save money, live better: it’s Wal-Mart!”). One type of destruction sells itself attached to another. Adjacency is aid, which is another way of saying that on corporate NYC radio, Wal-Mart ads and Mavado darkness come to us wrapped in the same blanket. The space that is radio here = the system where these things intertwine. So I think to myself: this is what – and how – capitalism sounds like. This music is, to me, incredible; Mavado has hit a nerve, and he and his followers keeping hitting it… And when a station like Hot 97 asks you to call in, they want listener feedback, they want marketing demographic information, that are externalizing the city’s nervous system as they simultaneously hotwire it with the bizarre combination of advertisements (for: usurious ‘debt relief’, the military, used-car pickup, concerts, etc) alongside the latest entertainment offerings from record labels who can afford payola in today’s hemorrhaging (music) economy, palming it on us as populist, which it is, but skewed more towards top-down than ground-up.

After Wal-Mart comes Yankee B’s amazing live performance of Christian dancehall with a strong anti-materialist stance, rhetorically executed so it sounds just like the badman chat it condemns. I’m tempted to get (more) Jamesonian but let’s put that elegant thinker and awkward writer on pause and listen to the radio, which I recorded with my cheap Chinese mp3 (and Ogg, FLAC, etc) player:



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this next section is notable for 2 reasons: the first piece, about teenage mothers, is the quietest I’ve ever heard Hot 97 – a whole five minutes with just women speaking, without any background music!(in a weird way we may have Palin to thank) Then, its Di Genius, Mavado (singing “we shall overcome”) & others over new Stephen MacGregor.



6 thoughts on “NYC AIRWAVES”

  1. Your description of Yankee B reminds me of my experience with students in a class I TA’d for called “property and liberty”

    The only students who had a coherent resistance to total commodification were the devout christians – everyone else pretty much collapsed into “that doesn’t seem right what but whaddaya gonna do.”

    I really came to love them for being bold enough to stand up for other principles than market principles, even if I didn’t always agree with other aspects of their worldviews.

  2. nyc airwaves have their virtue, but only in dc do they put go-go covers of Jessica Simpson and Sade rotating heavy.. But I am wondering – if you don’t mind placing a more specific product placement.. wha is this cheap chinese mpfree replayer + recorder you are endorsing… I must be prepared for if and when inevitable go-go Mavado is broadcasted

  3. Jace Rupture, what mp3 player are you using? I need a decent one that supports FLAC. I don’t like Rockbox on the iPod.

    Keep comin’ with the humid and sticky heat. I’ve been happy with the rubber band bouncing around the globe of music, notes and jabs thrown in the mix.

    Be good. How do you stay so skinny? You just keep puttin’ in work, right? (props to Gangstarr)

  4. @ripley- Some time ago in Madrid they closed the church of Enrique de Castro, “the red priest” renowned for his commitment to the poor and for turning the building literally, into a center for the community. He made a similar point, that nowadays the only (and proper) place for Christianity in the west wasn´t as the pivotal cultural/political force of day´s past (and not so past) but rather in the offering of an real alternative understanding of what human life was/meant. I thought it was rather interesting, as I’d never looked at it that way… but then again he isn´t your typical priest at all.

  5. @jeronimo, that’s interesting.

    there is a tradition of social justice and anti-capitalism in many parts of christianity, historically, but my impression is that Catholics were more prominent, from the benedictines to the Catholic Worker Moevement ( active in the US since 1933.. and down south of us, Liberation Theology does so too. on the protestant side, the Quakers have some of that vibe, sometimes as well.

    I don’t think the folks in my classes come from those traditions, though, and I confess at first I assumed that they would be ‘conservative’ in less interesting ways..

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