“I’m a New Yorker from Brooklyn. I’m not a community activist, I’m not an Islamic academic. This isn’t something I’ve been studying. I’m a New Yorker who is a real estate junkie who has ambition…” Sharif El-Gamal pauses. “That’s who I am.” Premiering on 27 September,, Frontline: The Man Behind the Mosque considers who that might be, as well as how his plans to build at Park51 became a symbol of across the United States and beyond. Called the “Ground Zero mosque,” the project at Park Place was supposed to provide space for prayer and community activities, and make El-Gamal some money too. But when blogger Pamela Geller raised an alarm on her website and her and Robert Spencer’s group, “Stop the Islamization of America,” began to protest the falsely named “Victory Mosque,” the controversy “caught fire,” says El-Gamal. Frontline briefly notes the famous people who jumped on this fast-rolling bandwagon, from Newt Gingrich to Sean Hannity, but it stays mostly focused on El-Gamal’s professions of surprise, his tearful concerns for his own children as the focus of strangers’ fear and hate, and his increasing tensions with his mentor and, for a time, Park51’s Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf. The mix of personalities and interests is, of course, much more complex than the Fox News debates or the NYC tabs presented them. Frontline makes that much clear.
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Earlier this year, PopMatters premiered Anika’s video for “I Go to Sleep” just as she set out on a number of Stateside DJ appearances. Now shes back to the States for a full tour in live performance mode. Her stops along both coasts include a visit to Toronto and a stop at this year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties event in Asbury Park, NJ.
To celebrate, we’re presenting a stream for her track “No One’s There” from her debut album along with a remix edit from Ratman and a bonus track “He Needs Me”. Check it out and catch her on tour soon.
“When we are home, we won’t even know what to say to the kids.” As Chen Suqin imagines the holiday visit she and her husband Zhang Changhua will make in a few days, she’s hardly happy. Some 16 years ago, the couple left Huilong Village, Sichuan Province to find work in the city. As they head home, along with some 130 million other migrant workers during the Chinese New Year, they ponder their decision. “We were very poor when we left,” Suqin remembers. “My mother held our baby when I left. Qin was only one year old. I was crying when I left.”
During the heady days of the electro revival a few years back, Anita Blay—aka CocknBullKid—looked set to make her mark. I saw her in Sheffield in 2008, where she won over a fractious crowd with nervous charm and a distinctive brand of stomping, instantly catchy electro. An appearance on British music show Later… With Jools Holland happened at around the same time, along with several nods to her talent in end-of-year ‘ones to watch’ lists. Then - nothing.
Luckily for us, she’d gone nowhere. Taking time out to rethink her sound and sign to Moshi Moshi, she burst back on to the scene with an impressive debut album, Adulthood, in April this year. With her brutally honest, self-deprecating lyrics, quirky visual style and sense of fun, she’s a cut above the usual pop-electro hybrids. The video for single “One Eye Closed” says it all—brilliant and bonkers. Watch and love.
Like a cross between Vandaveer, the Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens, Brooklyn songwriter Argyle Johansen (a.k.a. John F. Wentz) hammers his way into your ears with the multi-layered textures from Inner Demo(n)s, his latest EP. Johansen argues that “a free man on earth ought to make his life worthwhile, and [my] music is an attempt at a means to that end.” Self-aggrandizing pretensions aside, the music’s actually quite solid. “You Try”, a live version of which you can hear in its entirety below, showcases his psychedelic folk sound in full force, a frenetic wheels-on-train-tracks percussive propulsion system atop which guitars, accordion and echoing vocals are layered. Fans of Vampire Weekend’s Contra will know the sound pretty well, and are likely to find plenty to enjoy here. Inner Demo(n)s has been available since 6 September, and though there hasn’t yet been a groundswell of mainstream acceptance, this is music which fits into the groove alongside the best of 2011’s folk-pop newcomers. You just haven’t heard it yet.