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Friday, May 26, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

The Dr. Octagon Chronicles

“A Gorilla Driving a Pick-Up Truck” -  Rob Sonic Road Rage Remix [MP3]

Chapter 4: Rob Sonic’ Vs.“A Gorilla Driving a Pick-Up Truck”

The Setting:
3 AM, a wet, but warm late night, or should we say early morn, in the Bronx. Def Jukie Rob Sonic finds himself, as he has many times, at his favorite joint, The Telicatessen. His head in his hands, elbows on the table, over a cup of the blackest cup of Joe this side of 110th Street, he recounts the events to the evening.

Earlier That Night:
A blowout party downtown was taking place in the honor of slain sucker MCs. Rob’s place at the bar was firmly in place when a hand drops on his left shoulder. As he turns to find no one there he returns face forward to a small box on the bar. “What the ... ”

The box reads “For your eyes only.” He expects it’s a joke played on him and decides to pause on the opening.

Back at The Telicatessen:

A strange headache has descended on Rob by this point and the short stack with sausage hasn’t helped the cause. A solid stroke of the cloth napkin to clean his lips and leaves his staring back at the mysterious box. “Screw it, ...” he mumbles to himself as he grabs the knife beside him, gives the box a shake and digs in. The contents reveal two things; a CD burn labeled “Dr Octagon” with a Sharpie and a note from OCD saying:

“This is what I wanted you to hear.”

“What ever…” He says to himself as he drops two Lincolns on the table face down and nods to the cute waitress behind the counter.

As Rob looks up and heads to the door he swears he sees from the corner of his eye two beady eyes glowing green through the window. But it’s late and he plays it off to exhaustion.

On the way to the car an eerie feeling of being followed consumes him. Nothing but shadows behind him yet still the feeling persists. His pace quickens… Movement to his right… Shuffles heard to the left ... and a strange musty smell floats in the air. He darts to the car and locks the door with a feeling of momentary safety.

The disc still in hand, he slips it in the player and kicks on the ignition. The track begins, the gas pedal descends and he pulls off. Soon after Rob feels a sharp shock as his car is bumped from behind. Looking in the rearview mirrors, he sees a green pick up truck, just inches behind him. A large, dark, muscle-bound figure is behind the wheels. The pickup drops back and smashes them again. This time, a taillight is broken off. Rob expels expletives “What the f#@k!”

Rob accelerates, pushing 70 mph, trying to escape this madman insisting on a dangerous high-speed chase. The truck changes left, then right, then back again trying to overtake Rob’s vehicle. Rob glances at the gas tank gauge on his dashboard - It’s getting close to empty. Rob is surprised; he distinctly remembers filling up just earlier that day. Rob searches for a truck stop but there doesn’t seem to be any in sight. Bam! The truck hits him again.

He turns back…

“What the ...!? Is that a gorilla?”

The rest unfolds such.

“A Gorilla Driving a Pick-Up Truck” -  Rob Sonic Road Rage Remix [MP3]

Previous Chapters:
The Gray Kid Al Greezy remix [MP3]
Al Green: The Gray Kid Al Greezy remix [MP3]
Mike Relm 20-minute Return of Dr Octagon megamix [MP3]

The Return of Dr Octagon hits stores June 27th.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Early in Land of Desire, William Leach’s history of the rise of advertising and retailing in America, he argues that “brokers”—his term for people with no fixed convictions other than the righteousness of profits who facilitate the flow of money on its circuitous route through the economy—have fostered a “new amoralism essentially indifferent to virtue and hospitable to the ongoing inflation of desire.” Ordinarily I would have simply said to myself, Amen, and rolled right along with my reading, but instead it became a stumbling block for me. What is the “virtue” that he’s talking about here? Is it defined tautologically as that which is not profitable of self-interested? Brokers are often parasites, yes, but you could almost argue that they spend all their energies pimping other people’s desires, catering and fomenting other people’s pleasures, stimulating other people’s desires. Is this really selfish? It seems like a lot to sacrifice for cash. The implication that desires are manufactured suggests that there are “natural” desires that are inherent to us all and only these are appropriate to satisfy—it seems more likely that all desire is socially produced, and the “inflation” of desire is simply an expansion of the field of motivation, giving people more incentives for more aspects of their lives. Inflating desire gives people a reason to do things; it gets people out of bed. It makes things in life seem worth doing for their own sake—the very thing brokers have extricated from themselves and sold off.

My objection to inflated desire has hinged on the notion of some “bad” desire, inherently unfulfillable, that leads to dissatisfaction and depression, feelings of hopelessness. Possibly desire can be inflated to a point past what people can tolerate, and they start to break down from an excess of longing. The economy as a whole grows as desire expands, but perhpas each individual is strained to the breaking point carrying the restless burden of keeping up with one’s hyperstimulated dreams. But the “moral” aspect of this perhaps begins with a rejection of hedonism but soon corrodes into a subjective disapproval of other people’s priorities, a contempt for what gives them energy. I wonder if the existence of that energy, no matter what has prompted it, is not a blessed thing. The real problem is when that energy is robbed from us, when industry profits from our laziness or from an instigated desire for oblivion.

Scarily enough, marketing guru Clotaire Rapaille says something in this Salon interview that gets at the benevolence of manufactured desire. He contends that American culture is “adolescent”—that we have juvenile ideas about sex and money and a teenager’s impatience and attention span. But he prefers this to “senile” cultures like those in Europe. “I don’t want to know what I’m going to do when I grow up even if I’m 75 because I don’t want to grow up. I want to have fun, to be rich and famous now, to play. Now, I choose to be American because I’d rather be part of an adolescent culture than a senile culture.” There he reflects the at times imbecilic immaturity and hedonism typical of Americans, and fomented by American capitalism—get what you want now, have paradise here now via material goods, via this great car, this HD television or this ultraefficient egg poacher. Fun is made to seem synonymous with media attention and the cultivation and gratification of whims. For example, my leisure can lead me to idly read about yerba mate in some lifestyle magazine (the drink of Che Guevara!), and then I can go out and immediately buy some at Whole Foods and brew it for myself and have a revolutionary beverage experience. But this same adolescent mentality is imbued with energy: “To be an American you have to have a big dream, for you, for your family, for the world. In some other cultures, this is just ridiculous: Save the world? I just don’t want rain tomorrow. On the other hand, because we don’t know it’s impossible, sometimes we do it.” This smacks of the insoucient crypto-optimism I generally complain about, but these big dreams might be more credulous than cynical and that seems to redeem them a bit. That credulity activates hope and obviates the force of truths that inevitably push us toward indifference. It may be that capitalism’s effect is to make credulity the necessary prerequisite to energy and enthusiasm, to make cluelessness synonymous with happiness.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006
by PopMatters Staff


Electronica / Dub / Hip Hop from Berlin, Germany “After two brilliant 12-inches, berlin dub magicians Tolcha release their first longplayer Gestalt. Put out by Shir Khans and Tolchas new digi-hop label Meta Polyp, this album is going to be something like dark electronica, mixed with smokey dub and grimey post hip-hop.”—Meta Polyp Records

18-minute album sample: [MP3]
multiple tracks [official site]
more tracks [MySpace]

Stephen Fretwell

PopMatters review: “Magpie is indeed a stripped down, acoustic affair, packed with lovelorn melodies and bruised lyrics, but there is something else brooding here also. The album is shot through with a world-weariness and scruffy charisma that lends some of the songs a devastatingly understated emotional punch. And if at times, it fizzes more with promise than anything else, Stephen Fretwell is definitely a singer who could easily find his way into a tiny corner of your heart.”

“New York” (video) [windows | real]
“Emily” [windows | real]
“New York” [windows | real]

Amadou & Mariam
“Senegal Fast Food” [MP3]

Electric Soft Parade
“Cold World” [MP3]

John Ralston
“I Believe In Ghosts” [MP3]

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Breaking news in today’s Wall Street Journal: having baby photos e-mailed to you can be really annoying. Working America is in the midst of “an onslaught of online baby exhibitionism, fed both by Americans’ increasing love affair with digital photography and their obsession with their children.” How do we know this? By 2009, 25.7 billion photos will be sent in e-mails, and “experts beleive that a significant percentage of these photos will be of babies or children.” Hmm, they might have been a little less specific; I’m surprised the fact checkers could verify that “significant percentage.” The story goes on to relate gory instances of birth videos and ultrasounds being disseminated via YouTube. What’s next? Smellograms of dirty diapers? Videos of the bris?

But really, how is this a problem? If this stuff bothered you, couldn’t you just delete the emails? If you can’t muster up the polite effort to look at a picture of a friend’s kid, that what kind of a creep are you, anyway? I refuse to accept that people are truly overwhelmed with the responsibility of responding to baby photos, but then again, I’m the sort of creep who never thought for a minute they required a response. Also, a bullet-pointed etiquette primer is provided for how to send photos appropriately, with such useful advice as “Make sure they are good quality photos.”

So okay, this is probably one of those bogus trend stories, with the half-conscious agenda of making it clear that the office is still basically a masculinzed realm, no place for family talk, baby photos, etc. (Though another article on the same page revisits and refutes the notorious 1986 Newsweek story that argued that women who hadn’t married by 40—who pursued a career, perhaps—were more likely “to be killed by a terrorist” than to get married.) But part of it resonated with me, because I’ve long had the feeling that Americans are obsessed with their own children at the expense of being able to muster up any interest in anyone else’s children or anything else at all in the world. Touting one’s children can seem the worst sort of narcissism, acting as though no one else has ever had children before and that one’s own experience is entirely unique to the universe simply because it is new to oneself. And the consequences of childcentric obsession is to atomize society that much further. Inevitable we prioritize our own families at the expense of society in what seems a perfectly natural act of selfishness that no one could possibly blame us for. Famliy feeling is the wedge driving society further apart from itself; it can be the spike into the heart of cooperation: Justice is irrelevent if our children end up with advantages. The irritation expressed at e-mails of other people’s kids is simply impatience at the very existence of those kids, when we all know that only ours really matter at the end of the day.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

The Procussions

“The Procussions are set to saturate the globe with their B-boy energy and powerful message of positive change.  They are a multi-cultural group that not only break the normal stereotypes of what mainstream hip hop must be but as well aren’t afraid to discuss issues that other rappers don’t: rape, child abuse, neglect.  One example is “Miss January” featuring Talib Kweli which discusses the perils of having to say goodbye to a destructive relationship.  The three man crew consisting of Mr. J Mederios, Stro and Rez befriended each other while growing up in Colorado but now make Los Angeles their home.  With musical influences stemming from the Golden Era of Hip-Hop, to J Dilla to Megadeth, their sound is a style that reflects all genres of music.”  — Rawkus Records

“Miss January” feat. Talib Kweli [windows | real]
“The Storm” [windows | real]
“The Storm” (video): [windows | quicktime]

Code Pie
“Little Bamboo” [MP3]
“Cement Truck” [MP3]
“Gala” [MP3]

“Yoko Majikick Ono” [MP3]

The Like Young
“Dead Eyes” [MP3]
“For Money Or Love” [MP3]

The Black Angels
“The First Vietnamese War” [MP3]

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