I picked up a mesmerizingly good Mohamed Rouicha CD (for 1 euro) in Madrid (Lavapies, c/ Tribulete 9) last month and listened to it nonstop for days. Then it disappeared. A few days later my laptop died (not a light death – very dead). Soonafter that, my MP3 player was stolen.
I’m obliquely reminded of a phrase I read in Richard Skelton’s excellent Landings book yesterday: “All that mattered was without weight or consequence. Nothing lingered or resonated beyond the instance of its own making. Everything listened.”
There is a word for words who have lost their meaning and remain as sound, most commonly preserved in traditional songs. I can’t remember the name of this word.
Here are two Rouicha tracks. I don’t know any of these words – Berber words, Tamazight – but I wish I did, especially in the first one which is essentially a long poem kissed by outar flourishes. The outar is Rouicha’s instrument of choice, a gentle, rustic thing that looks as if it were dug up from the earth.
So. By now we should all know that MLK is beautiful and Auto-Tune is culturally complicated. A lot can be said about this video, from the elemental power of oratory to the ways in which technology can amplify or disperse political potential to the notion that rewiring history is an act aimed at future change.
But what keeps running through my head is a paraphrase from Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. here: I’m trying to tell America about a dream that I had.
on Saturday night…. DUTTY ARTZ is organzing a Haitian aid relief party.
As Matt explains: We’ve decided to throw a last-minute benefit show to help make a financial contribution to the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti. If you’ve followed this at all it is an absolutely harrowing, horrible catastrophe that has befallen a place that was already a very difficult place to live for many people. The show is in only two days so PLEASE email this to your friends in New York, put it on your Facebook, Twitter, etc. and help us get the word out. We as DJs will not be taking any payment from this and the proceeds will be donated to charity. We are currently seeking expert advice on who to donate it to, suggestions are welcome.
DUTTY ARTZ TROPICAL RELIEF FOR HAITI
DJs: DJ Rupture Matt Shadetek Lamin Fofana Feliz Cumbe
THIS Saturday 1/16 10PM Bowery Poetry Club 308 Bowery $10 (more is welcome). All proceeds donated to Haitian relief
Anyway, in case you haven’t seen Avatar, its about a white (American!) dude that goes native and becomes their most awesome leader and achieves an improbable, lo-tech victory (but with soul power! and the animals help them!). Awesome battle sequence ! Good vs. Evil, get it ?
In the real world you live in a complicated global capital network that sometimes deliberately but mostly inadvertiantly leverages injustices so that your locality can exist with the wealth and convienience it enjoys. You cannot opt out. You can’t just choose the right items on the Health Food store shelf.
You can use your influence to convince specific companies to change behavior and you can make the best decision when you personally have a decision to make. Don’t just say “fuck it”.
That’s the resources issue. The other issue is racial and cultural understanding. Most of the people who see Avatar will not be White Americans. But we get it, its supposed to be a character you can relate to.
I saw Avatar on it’s opening night here in New York. At first I wasn’t going to write about it, but in retrospect I should have, for reasons Dan Visel mentions here, referencing the Economist piece I upped yesterday, emphasis mine:
A lot of people wanted to talk about Avatar, and there’s a fair amount to discuss there: how pretty it is, how it works as mass spectacle, the film’s deeply muddled politics, how ecology and religion are connected. What stands out to me is how rarely this happens any more. .. The sheer ubiquity of Avatar changed how it could be discussed: something so big can cut across our individual interest groups, enabling broader conversations.
But the inevitable question arises: what does it mean if the only cultural object that everyone can talk about costs $300 million?
me: i couldnt wait, got it off —-. itd been there since July or something. criminally slept on by us!
Lamin: yeah. the album had very little buzz, considering the fact that it was released by Def Jam and produced by The-Dream (& Tricky Stewart)! my sis mentioned it to me after she heard about it from a cousin in Maryland who’s 14 years old! so yeah, this is what 14 year old girls are listening to in the DMV.
A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read â€œThe Lost Symbolâ€, by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it.
Salvador DalÃ: Have you realized that snails are like El Greco? Yes, yes, like Domenicos Theotocopulos, who, having been born in Crete, learned to paint the type of icons they make there with a sense of ownership, yet, as soon as he relocated to Venice, his admiration for Tiziano and the influence of Tintoretto transformed him into the most Venetian of the Venetians, the most sensual, colorful, and excessive painter of the Serenisima, but upon arrival in Toledo a tramatic conversion rendered him sober, austere, old Castillian, the gentleman with his hand on his chest, with an overflowing mysticism, the most sincere character in all of deep Spain.
Oscar Tuquets Blanca: Excuse me sir, but the relationship with snails is still a bit unclear to me.
DalÃ: But Tusquets – it’s obvious! The thing that distinguishes El Greco, the thing that makes him an immortal artist, is his absolute lack of personality, is his ability to metamorph himself, like a chameleon, to absorb the values of his surroundings with such intensity that, in the end, he becomes more authentic than the natives. And the culinary value of a snail? What’s converted it into one of the heroes of so many kitchens and gourmet cooks? The utter absence of its own flavor, it’s capacity to absorb the essences of the condiments that accompany it and transform itself into what the cook desires. Besides, when I use my little fork to extract the snail from its shell, notice how it lengthens, taking on an appearance quite similar to those of the saints floating in El Greco’s skies…