CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 Feb]

 
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Wednesday, Jul 15, 2009

At a recent exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland, I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse at Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Jim and Tom, Sausalito”. This, Mapplethorpe’s most notorious image, depicts a man urinating into the mouth of another (with his subject accepting graciously). The photograph was displayed as part of an exhibition entitled, “Sh(OUT): Contemporary Art and Human Rights”, a collection of installations and art pieces that are as much about acceptance, as they are about activism.


By the time I returned home from this trip, I felt compelled to revisit the music of Mapplethorpe’s esteemed collaborator and friend, Patti Smith. Of all her works, my strongest inclination was to reach for her 1997 album, Peace and Noise. Released a year after her memorial compilation Gone Again, Peace and Noise possesses the same lingering heartbreak of her previous album, albeit with a vitriolic edge.


Instead of sitting back and watching her dearly departed ghosts swirl about, Smith adopts a rabble-rousing persona, virtuously professing to her specters that she is ready to start a riot. OK, she may not have been perpetuating the same anarchistic angst of the 1970s, but Smith (who had notoriously retired from the musical world for years), was now fuming with a more concise anger.


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Monday, Jul 13, 2009
In praise of disco on the anniversary of the notorious disco demolition day.

July 12th, was the 30th anniversary of disco Demolition Day, a day when radio host Steve Dahl declared a cultural war on the aforementioned music by blowing up stacks of records in Comiskey Park in Chicago. It’s now generally accepted that the seething crowds were at least partially motivated by the subcultural and multicultural context of disco’s reign, seeing the gay, black, latino, and women-friendly movement as an affront to the ordained thrown of rock, which was at this point mainly a chauvinist enterprise. That this came at the height of radio’s racial re-segregation formatting certainly encouraged the backlash. In the aftermath, disco was declared dead, which was widely accepted as a historical platitude for years, and even still is today. “I think it was a fad and it was probably on its way out. This probably hastened its demise,” Steve Dahl said in 2004, reflecting on the incident on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown


While disco may have become a dirty word in mainstream culture after scores of alpha males began parading around in “Disco Sucks” and “Death Before Disco” T-shirts and the clubs began collapsing from the white lines snorted across broken mirror tables, disco continued to expand exponentially. Indeed, years later, the explosion in Comsikey Park seems to have scattered disco’s ashes across the globe, where it has manifested in myriad different vital forms. Ironically enough, the two teams playing that night, Detroit and Chicago, became the epicenters of disco’s revitalization in both house and techno music.


Below is a smattering of disco from its heyday through the present. It is by no means a complete representation, but hopefully you will agree that this is dynamic and exciting music, whose shelf-life has already far surpassed many of the rock dinosaurs being defended at the time of the disco demolition. 

First Choice—The Player (Philly Groove, 1974)



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Thursday, Jul 9, 2009

Before the international frenzy that Barack Obama commanded following his historic presidential campaign and win, Michael Jackson was the global face of black exceptionalism and achievement. His death at the age of 50 on June 25, 2009, almost succeeded in crashing the Internet and suspended social media mechanisms such as Twitter. In excess of 1.6 million people logged into a random lottery system in hopes to garner one of the 20,000 tickets needed to gain access into Jackson’s memorial service this past Tuesday. His face has graced the cover of virtually every major (and minor) international periodical, newspaper, and news program since his untimely death. Much has been written and reported about Michael Jackson from his impact on an impressively diverse and large demographic to his transformation from a beautiful, cherubic child to a grotesqueness unknown or unseen before him to his massive debts and legal troubles stemming from allegations of pedophilia. As a child of the ‘80s, Michael Jackson was the model for many of my own personal interpretations of Thriller, but for me it’s his role as the seminal figure in the integration of African American musicality into the global pop culture stratosphere that bears the seismic weight of his significance.


Tagged as: michael jackson
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Wednesday, Jul 8, 2009
Inclusiveness, all the Jackson’s music seems to say, is the underlying means of respecting one another, and the planet. That’s a genuinely mature message for any artist to relay.

Listen to the Jacksons sing “Can You Feel It”: “All the colors of the world should love each other wholeheartedly.” Or, dare you sit and play “Earth Song”. “Heal the World” probably never left the easy listening stations. Consider the type of orchestration behind creating “We Are the World” and daring to show Third World kids as subjects, not objects; they created music with Michael and he with them. It would make a crippled person want to jump up and take action and that’s exactly what lay at the heart of the matter.


Inclusiveness, the Jacksons’ music continually says, will lead us to not only take care of one another, but also to respect the earth. Take a close listen to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, the whole album including, and especially the interludes. The Jacksons inspire hope. They dared stand with humanity—in front of humanity—asking: “What about us?” Indeed, their music says, what about all of us For the Jackson family, their music was neither about their bling, nor were their messages ever about ‘them and us’—but all of us! Do we dare care enough about us?


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Wednesday, Jul 8, 2009

Sorry but I couldn’t find a video of Little Milton doing his signature tune (don’t worry he takes his well-deserved bow later anyway). So you go to a blues festival for the music and ‘cuz you’re some kind of purist, right? Don’t think you’re totally fessin’ up now, are you? Good I knew you’d agree! Of course, summer blues festivals (they’re seldom anytime else except in the deepest darkest South) provide culinary delights, but also a babble of possibilities from which one needs to choose wisely. I, a native Southerner, doyenne of the Starkville “slow jam” food scene, long time host of “One Bourbon, One Sotch, One Beer” on WMSV’s The Juke Sunday blues programming, and general know-it-all wiseacre, am happy to guide your Northern, Midwestern, Western and/or Foreign asses through the best and wurst (sorry Wisconsin so much to answer for) of Blues Festival Food.


We start with the simplest of non-Einsteinian equations: Blues=Bar-B-CUE or something like Q=ps2 where Q is the end product; p is the pork input and s is the appropriate sauce squared. Really it’s all about the sauce Almost anybody can grill meat, but only a master can slow grill it over hickory in a pine bark pit for a day until the meat sloughs from the bone of its own lazy accord. Re: Bar-B-Que, just don’t ask too many questions about the main product, where it comes from, and how it is prepped pre-pit.


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