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.

[audio: grupo colombia – Cumbia de la dinastia.mp3]

Super Grupo Colombia – Cumbia de la Dinastia



[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


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?


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.


CIAfrica coverf

[DJ Rupture presents CIAFRICA cover art, Dutty Artz/Soot 2010]

So the music of Abidjan’s CIAfrica crew does sound a bit like a grimey, glitchy elephant staring you down as angular new-money architecture burns or smolders or looms in the background and the sky’s color stumbles from white to black with a few lasers for good measure, because we’re not living in the future, they are.

(The original cover artwork pictured above is by Timothée Mathelin.)

Sometime last year the visionary ringleader, Amadou aka Green Dog (RZA to their Wu) gave me access to their deep hard drives — packed with singing, rapping & fwd-thinking beats. Thrilling material. I pulled out my favorite 17 songs for a CD which will be released physical/digital on August 24th, DJ Rupture presents CIAFRICA. This coincides with CIAfrica, Nettle, and myself performing at Gotenburg’s Sweden Way Out West festival next Friday, August 13th. I’ll be DJing separately from them, in a party with Sleigh Bells and Fool’s Gold (the band). It’s a 3-day affair, with folks like Wu-Tang, M.I.A., Jay Electronica, The xx, etc performing, so if yr in Scandinavia, might be worth the trip… & I’ve found that drunk Swedes tend to still be really nice, at least in Gotenburg.

It will be the first time the CIAfrica MCs and vocalists perform outside their Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast home base! They have this awesome Pam Grier video for one of their female MCs, Nasty, but it keeps getting censored by YouTube. So here’s a vid from one of the guys coming over, Manusa:

and a placeholder vid for the Nasty tune:


[El Eco, location of Postopolis DF]

Readers of this blog should know my love for Mexico City by now, so it’s with great pleasure that I announce my participation in Postopolis DF! A 5-day conference-conversation on urbanism in one of the world’s most amazing cities… In other words, if you were thinking of coming to DF this summer, now’s a great time… And don’t worry gringos, vamos a tener realtime Spanish-English translation for y’all. It’s going down the second week of June, June 8-12, at El Eco…

The basic setup is us 10 organizing bloggers each invite around 5 people or groups to present, with conversations from 4-9:30pm daily.

I’ll go into details soon, but I’m especially excited to announce my confirmed invitees:

David Lida, author of the must-read book on contemporary D.F., First Stop In The New World; Geraldine Juarez & Magnus Ericksson discussing Tepito, tunnels, and the internet (here’s a taste); architect and water systems expert Jorge Legorreta; Mariana Delgado of Proyecto Sonidero; Artist Ximena Labra & academic/zine-maker Carlos Prieto Acevedo presenting su nuevo zine físico, “Interregno” cuyo tema es cartografías de la crisis del espacio, poder y monumento, ciudad-fábrica de concimiento…

Main info below. Check Postopolis over the next few days for the final list of presenters and participants.VIVA MEXICO.


8-12 June 2010
Museo Experimental El Eco
Sullivan 43, Col. San Rafael, Mexico City

From 8-12 June 2010, Storefront for Art and Architecture, in partnership with Museo Experimental El Eco, Tomo and Domus Magazine, will host the third edition of Postopolis!, a public five-day session of near-continuous conversation curated by some of the world’s most prominent bloggers from the fields of architecture, art, urbanism, landscape, music and design. 10 world-renowned bloggers from Los Angeles, New York, Turin, Barcelona, London and elsewhere will convene in one location in Mexico City to host a series of discussions, interviews, slideshows, presentations, films and panels fusing the informal and interdisciplinary approach of the architecture blogosphere with rare face-to-face interaction.

Each day, the 10 participating bloggers will meet in the magnificent courtyard of Museo Experimental El Eco, designed by Matthias Goeritz, to conduct back-to-back interviews of some of Mexico City’s most influential thinkers and practitioners – including architects, city planners, artists and urban theorists but also military historians, filmmakers, photographers, activists and musicians. The talks will be conducted in either Spanish or English, and translations will be available. Each day of talks will end with an after-party hosted by some of Mexico City’s most influential music blogs.

Participating blogs:
Urban Omnibus (Cassim Shepard)
Intersections (Daniel Hernandez)
DPR Barcelona (Ethel Barona Pohl)
Toxico Cultura (Gabriella Gomez-Mont):
Tomo (Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa)
Mudd Up! (Jace Clayton aka DJ /rupture)
Edible Geography (Nicola Twilley)
We Make Money Not Art (Regine Debatty)
Strangeharvest (Sam Jacob)
Wayne & Wax (Wayne Marshall)


Global Bass Underglaze


[blue and white ceramic tile from dramagirl’s flickr]

For centuries, Persian potters had been using cobalt to paint underglaze blue decorations. In the early fourteenth century, some bright entrepeneur had the idea of taking it to China. The Chinese potters tried out this ‘Muhammadan blue’ on their highly prized white porcelain, and in about 1325 started to export the barbarous results back to the Near East. The shapes were based on those of Islamic metalwork, the blue decorations incorporated jolly chinoiseries. Soon, imitations were being made in Persia, then in Egypt and Syria. Later on, the Ottomans took blue-and-white to heart and put tulips on their pots; the seventeenth-century Dutch then fell in love with it, putting windmills and armorials on their pots, and tulips in them. The bastard transfer-printed descendants of blue-and-white still leave Stoke-on-Trent in their willow-patterned millions.

-Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Travels with a Tangerine


My friend, filmmaker B, whom I am not allowed to call Texan, is in Iran right now. Sending out dispatches via email. After the photo is an excerpt from dispatch # 11. The personal weight and texture of an email augments the realness of the situation, at least for me.

It is so easy to change your Twitter icon to green and read newsfeeds… the hard thing is anything else, information into action.

Returning to New York’s poverty and hi-rent capitalism was particularly strange after spending so much time this past tour in Scandinavia and the Netherlands. (Staying in a now-legal squat in Amsterdam, playing at some festivals with arts funding and kids paid to curate and produce them.) Northern Europe has its share of problems, yes, but also strong social nets for its citizens (health care, education..). The challenge is not to remain informed about large-scale upheaval abroad (although that is part of it), but to find things to push towards and fight for, here, on one’s block, neighborhood, city. Distance is comforting. Intimacy is the hard part.

Maybe I’m just saying I’ve got too many broke, talented friends in NYC who are just barely hanging on, and that I want this city to resemble us, our city, more than it does now.

IMG 1831

from Bani:

It is hard to know exactly what is happening in the top ranks, and what political phase the country is moving into. It is a time to be thinking, interacting, and planning. There is no real strategy nor an idea of what shape this action should take. It is refreshing to be constructing a movement with people and working towards something collectively without leaders around or political parties, but at the same time, there is no hope of having enough force to confront the regime without some structural help or some internal battles being fought at the top levels – that is unless we want this to become a bloody battle once again. But with the thousands killed during the revolution and the purges that took place afterwards on everyone’s minds, this is not what people want to move towards. Not now at least.

The resilience and the determination to change things peacefully is remarkable for me. It has made me think about a lot, and to watch how people work together to maintain silence during the demonstrations is beautiful. At yesterday’s quiet march, people held signs with sentences, slogans, photographs of the violence of the past days, and the names of those who have been killed. There was a feeling of mourning in the air, but also of tension. We all know that things are serious, and our great numbers in the streets are our only protection. This will continue until we achieve the minor request of announcement of election fraud, or until people tire and move towards other methods. There is the possibility that those imprisoned remain there, that Moussavi is done away with by some means (exile, house arrest, etc), and that Ahmadinejad remains the illegitimate president of an unlawful dictatorship. If this happens, the next four years would mean major organizing in the underground and a new stage in Iranian political activism. One thing is sure: people are no longer going to accept the self-censorship or fear that has been imposed upon them. It is already easier to speak to people on the street and in shops without wondering if they work for the secret service, or if they will tell the police. Our collective trauma from SAVAK times, and mainly from the Islamic form of ideology and socio-political cleansing that has taken place for the last 30 years, persists today. Yesterday was a reminder of that.

In addition to this psychological war that the regime wages upon us by cutting our connection to the outside world, and to each other, there are a number of ways that we are threatened. I cannot go into detail now, but starting yesterday morning, our house received phone calls every 15 minutes from an unknown number. The caller ID showed a number with many zeros at the end, which from our experience means that the secret service or police are trying to get in touch. We did not answer, and luckily I had taken all my videotapes and other things to another house, but there is a still a feeling of insecurity. Like many others in the city, our house had become a sort of unofficial ‘newsroom’ with people coming in and out, working, making phone calls, emailing, and sleeping in different spots around the house. We decided to calm things, now that Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and blogging have made it possible to announce our resistance to the world. But this is precisely what we are worried about, that the psychological games of the regime and the disappearances and arrests will begin again, at an even harsher intensity.

Last night Bassijis were roaming the neighborhood, going into some homes to gather satellite dishes. We got rid of a lot of things, hiding others. This is what will begin happening; and paranoia will set in again. We can already feel it. Now we have word that some of the reformists and other political figures are saying that they should put an end to the direct opposition to the Supreme Leader. This is disheartening for us. Right now, there is definitely a threat to the tight grip that Khamenei maintains over the people, and within the hierarchical structure of the Republic; a threat as well to the pillars of the 1979 revolution. As of today, we have reports of 500 people arrested: political leaders, students, activists, journalists, and others who have been suspected of dissent. The latest news is that the French Embassy in Tehran has been attacked. Fifteen members of our Documentary Filmmakers Association have been arrested in the streets since Saturday, despite having official permits to film in the streets. Many of them were beaten by plainclothes police or Bassijis, and their homes have been raided. There is a harsh crackdown. I am debating on leaving soon, before it becomes impossible to do so. We are strategizing, trying to be pragmatic, and intelligent. It is a hard situation to judge.


quick reminder that I’ll be speaking alongside Jedediah Purdy @ the Strand tonite, in a discussion moderated by Mark Grief, editor of n+1. Says Mark: “Audience participation is very much invited. Do you want to know why it’s better for Jace to deliberately hand his music over to bootleggers with names like ‘Vampiros’ than go through record distributors? Or why Jed, liberal stalwart, seems in his new book to be telling everybody to go read Edmund Burke and Adam Smith?

Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway at 12th Street, THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 7 PM.

+ + +

And the kind folks at Mondomix asked me to put together a chart of current global hotness. They found some nice youtubery to accompany my writeup as well..



me: world music marketing is so crazy right now. on the back of a cd i just got sent:
“a group of parapalegic street musicians who live in and around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa, Congo
matt: wowwwwwwwwww
me: they make music of astonishing power and beauty.”
matt: man
that’s really crazy
what does that mean?


[King Leopold II caricature, from Vanity Fair 1869]

me: hardcore sick novelty post-Konono
its apparently true
it means in order to sell african music 2 younger market they need sensationalist backstory
matt: yeah that’s a really weird flavor of exploitation
they live in a zoo!
pity sales
me: w/ Konono (also from kinshasa) it was “they make their own amps and it distorts, f#cked up folk-urban”
backstory sales
spectacle sales
matt: yeah
me: the zoo bit is jawdropping
oh yeah, bikes rigged up to be taxis/mobile transport units. on cover of CD
matt: parapalegic zoo resident music
me: made in yet another failed african state undergoing massive crisis, but not so famous as Zimbabwe..
now on sale by Belgian label,.
Sent at 11:21 PM on Tuesday
me: ‘King Leopold Productions” – just kidding. i should post this convo on the blog.
Sent at 11:22 PM on Tuesday
matt: haha yes
it’s very odd out there
Sent at 11:25 PM on Tuesday

+ + +

“Today at the dawn of 2009, people in the Congo are still dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month and already 2,700,000 people have died since 2004.

– wikipedia sourced from this New York Times article.


party might ram up. Just finished debating w/ Geko Jones (check the interview & minimix) about the # of bassbins to bring.
Also: A new Rupture cumbia mix CD will be on sale for cheap: K-K-Kumbia!

The Dutty Artz family is back with another installation of its tropicaliente beats and bassline party: New York Tropical. Residents Geko Jones, Matt Shadetek and DJ/ Rupture will be joined by Brooklyn’s hometown heroines Bunny Rabbit. This is your last chance to chance to check B.R. out before they head to Easten Europe and spread the Cult of Miracles gospel. Bed Stuy get ready!

FEB 20th @ Kodeez
834 Myrtle Ave @ Marcy (G Train to Myrtle-Willoughby)

DJ/Rupture (Soot Records, Dutty Artz)
Geko Jones (Que Bajo?! Dutty Artz)
Matt Shadetek (Dutty Artz)
+ special guests Bunny Rabbit!

$3 PBR, $4 Mixed Drinks, $4 Wine
$2 Hotdogs, $3 Hamburgers, $4 Cheeseburgers (yes, cheeseburgers)
Doors @ 10pm – $10
Reduced $8 dollar before 11pm



my friend from CIA Africa who lives in Côte d’Ivoire and will be performing in Paris on the 28th and 29th of this month emails:

in all Africa people remix the name with ethnic name reference…”

today we’re gonna have our cake, and we’re gonna eat our cake.