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Sunday, Jun 18, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Jamie Lidell
“Multiply” (in a Minor Key) [MP3]
multiple songs [MySpace]
PopMatters review: Multiply

Jamie Lidell - Multiply [live on BBC’s Later… with Jools Holland]

Fatboy Slim
multiple songs [MySpace]
PopMatters review: The Greatest Hits: Why Try Harder

Fatboy Slim - Right Here Right Now

The High Violets
“Sun Baby” [MP3]

The Wowz
“Channel 3” [MP3]

“Find a Way” [MP3]
PopMatters review: Free to Stay

“Record Function” [MP3]

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Saturday, Jun 17, 2006

Well this was inevitable. A Chinese restaurateur plans to serve a banquet just outside of Hong Kong with dishes made with human breast milk. This takes the peculiar gastro-sexual practice of serving sushi on a naked woman to the next level, I guess. Is it supposed to be erotic? Exotic? Over-the-top decadent? Perverse?  According to the BBC news, “The milk used so far is reported to have come from six peasant women who were still breast-feeding their children. No details have been given on how much they were paid or how much milk was used.” So is it a warped display of power, to command the milk meant for a peasant baby for your own use? Says the unnamed restaurateur: “Our opinion is that we should respect natural things . . . . When the customers are having the human milk banquet, they can experience maternal love at the same time.”

That’s fantastic. (Though I wonder, do the diners at White Castle experience atavistic bloodlust and the thrill of the kill at the same time when they eat their burgers? Do we experience the cow’s love when we eat cheese?) Could this be the reductio ad absurdem of the organic food trend? What could be healthier than food made solely for humans by humans? No plants or animals are harmed in the process; we lessen our ecological footprint.

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Friday, Jun 16, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

The Dr. Octagon Chronicles

Catchdubs “Al Green” (Chapter 2, Verse 908 Remix)

The Return Of Doctor Octagon, Chapter 7: Catchdubs “Al Green” (Chapter 2, Verse 908 Remix)

OCD International HQ

Rob Sonic sat around the OCD HQ with a cup of coffee in front of him, As he slowly poured a healthy serving of whiskey into it, he looked around him. Mike Relmn, Gray Kid, along with the OCD staff sat to his left while on monitors to his right were the people of the Money Fight, Cassettes Won’t Listen and Kid Loco (whose transmission looked smoky at best.) All Rob could think was, “how the fuck did I get into this?”

It had all been pretty much pieced together. The Gorilla who had come after Sonic and Loco was the evil mastermind behind all this. It was somehow connected to the clones that had helped destroyed TMF’s home planet, but they were still unsure what that connection was.  And that damn package was still flashing 06272006 and no one had been able to stop it. Ok, maybe there were a few things to figure out.

Sonic knew he was at least safe and he had a plan. Well, he had a dream. A dream with a man dressed in a hooded robe. The man had appeared in a yellow robe in the center of Sonic’s room with a hood covering most of his head with number 908 emblazed across the front. On the back of the robe in big black letters, were the letters AG.

“Greetings. I am a disciple from the house of AG.  We are an ancient society whose sole purpose is to help in times of need before great battles. You are going to war Rob Sonic. The Gorilla that chased you has been responsible for destroying countless worlds all over this galaxy. They were the ones that invented the cloning technology that was used to create the Dr Octagon clones. What Cassettes Won’t Listen thought were Aliens, were actually The Gorillas, who lose the ability to retain their body hair in space.

OCD had done everything right. But someone made a fatal mistake. You. You think you lost The Gorilla? You lead him right to the source.  He knows exactly where you are, and he is planning to destroy OCD HQ and steal the good Doctor’s package before the world can hear his message. This cannot happen. You must fight. You must save the planet. It is up to you.”

With that, Rob had awoken from his dream to find a dark room and a bad headache. As he fumbled for the lights, he found a space raygun and a training tape with the word Disciple 908 imprinted on it.

As Sonic relayed this to the stunned table around him, he picked up the space gun and pressed play on the training tape. As the beats from the House of AG dropped in, he looked around the table and told them:

“Pack yo shit. We going to war. Suckahs.”

Catchdubs “Al Green” (Chapter 2, Verse 908 Remix)

Previous Chapters:
“A Gorilla Driving A Pick-Up Truck” -  Kid Loco (Banana Loco Remix) [MP3]
Cassettes Won’t Listen “Aliens” -  Hearing Aid Remix [MP3]
A Gorilla Driving a Pick-Up Truck -  Rob Sonic Road Rage Remix [MP3]
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, Jun 16, 2006

I’m all for collaborative effort, but Jared Sandberg’s refutation of management-inspired brainstorming in The Wall Street Journal resonated with me (a rare instance when reading the regular “Cubicle Culture” column has reaped some dividends). Sandberg lists the main reasons why brainstorming fails—it degenerates into backslapping sessions because people are more intersted in being liked by everyone else than in producing workable ideas, or the session is hijacked by the loudest prick in the group, who cows everyone else into submission—and cites the hegemonic faith in teamwork as the principal reason the tactic is employed. My primary experience with it has always come in academic situations—mandatory group work, which I resented as a student and refused to institute as a teacher (unless I was underprepared and needed to waste class time). Group work allowed the weaker students to leech off the work of the stronger students, and the stronger students often seemed to be reinforced in their budding arrogance. Group work always seemed less about learning and more about socializing students for corporate bureaucracy, preparing them for middle-management group think, buck passing and contentment with mediocrity—developing strategies for seeing all decisions as someone else’s problem while perpetuating the idea that what’s really important is covering your back and maintaining a superficial level of amiability with everyone else. It’s a phony democratic method, where everyone is given a voice regardless of whether they have done anything to deserve it, regardless of whether they are cognizant of the responsibilities that come with having a voice (if that voice is to signify anything). It tends to obviate the notion that ideas can be fairly judged—that some are stupid and some are valuable—and reduces them to the level of opinions.

Collaboration, unfortunately, can’t be decreed by force—the various failures of collectivism seem to suggest at least that—it only works when people volunteer to cooperate, when they recognize shared goals, shared values, shared faith in specific methods. Everyone has to care about the goal more than having their own ego stroked, obviously, and our culture sepdns a great deal of effort telling everyone its their inalienable right to have their ego stroked all the time. Technology can afford more opportunities for such combinations to occur, and such groups could find more encouragement in a society that celebrates civic activity (as opposed to spectatorship, passive consumption and suburban-bunker individualism), but when these combinations are mandated, participants usually find petty ways to subvert them in hopes of resotring their sense of autonomy. No one likes to be lashed to the mast of a sinking ship, or to be strung together in a kind of corporate chain gang.

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Thursday, Jun 15, 2006

I was a bit surprised to discover that this 1976 AM pop classic has its own website but then I shouldn’t have been, because I found it in preparing to write my own paean to the song, the lone hit by Starbuck, from Atlanta. (I’m not sure if the band is named for the Battlestar Galactica character, but it seems plausible.) The picture of them is worth seeing, because it exudes the kind of bearded, mellow maleness that reached its apogee in the 1970s and which their hit delivers in spades. If you don’t know the song, it’s bongo-driven synth-pop (back when synth pop meant “Dream Weaver” rather than “People Are People” or “Don’t You Want Me”) with priceless dopey lyrics, which deserve to be quoted in full:

The wind blew some luck in my direction
I caught it in my hands today
I finally made a tricky French connection
You winked and gave me your o.k.
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
And watch the moon smilin bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
Cause southern belles are hell at night
You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss
Class of seven four gold ring
The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss
To make the tide rise again

We’ll see the sun come up on Sunday morning
And watch it fade the moon away
I guess you know I’m giving you a warning
Cause me and moon are itching to play
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothin like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Imagine those words delivered in a leering drawl and insert an epic marimba solo, and you have a pretty good idea of what’s happening with this song. “Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion” always starts me wondering what the hell is going on, but the second verse is what takes this over the top for me: “The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss to make the tide rise again”? This is sublime nonsense, a perfectly paradoxical combination of trying too hard and not really giving a shit.

And that seems to be the quintessential idea evoked by the 1970s when we regard them with nostalgia: people working really strenuously to seem laid-back, people stressing out about relaxing. In the 1970s it became incumbent on everyone to visibly live a “lifestyle”. For perhaps the first time, relaxation itself became a medium for competitive consumption, and the imperative to be casual swept through the culture, generating effluvia like this song in its wake. My friend Brandon Young calls this genre “hot-tub music,”  what he imagined former student protester types of the 1960s, newly mature and family laden and cynically hedonistic, would play at 70s suburban backyard parties, when the smell of sneakily smoked joints and the promise of spouse swapping were in the air.  Think Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album, the Peter Asher–produced Linda Ronstadt records, Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” Walter Egan’s “Magnet and Steel,” the works of Little River Band, Mac Davis and England Dan and John Ford Coley, Lobo’s “I’d Love You to Want Me”, “Just Remember I Love You” by Firefall—immaculately recorded love songs that disguise the inevitable messiness of real feelings; ballads that push earnest sincerity into the realm of camp; crisp, seductive melodies from anonymous groups that come and go like so many sensuous and empty one-night stands, shimmering beyond coherence, barely surpressing the desperation: “I’m not talking about movin’ in and I don’t want to change your life, but there’s a warm wind blowing the stars around, and I’d really love to see you tonight.”

Starbuck should earn pop-radio immortality for evoking the hot-tub spirit better than anyone—the syrupy, simpering synth-note fills (Mweow, mweow), the little chuckles in the vocal, and the aimless cruising and lunar imagery in the lyrics all work to conjure cocaine-snorting couples waiting for something to happen, waiting to get the nerve to make a move or perhaps hoping they’ll all lose it. In its way this song encapsulates an entire generation staring down adulthood, waiting to see if it would blink, if it would reveal some gaps in which a sense of freedom could be retained in the face of its mounting sense of responsibility and disillusionment. There she is, a nubile coed, class of ‘74, hitchhiking by the ocean, looking to catch a ride and have a good time, and she’ll let you dose her potion and play your southern stations and she won’t ever stop and make you question whether or not what you’re doing “feels right.” This was what was left of the dream of freedom by bicentennial 1976: meeting this woman, or perhaps even more distressing, being this woman.

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