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Tuesday, 29 June 2004
Shadow's a celebrity. Who knew?
Now Playing: the wonderful silence of an empty workplace

Don?t know how many of you in the NY/NJ area watch Eyewitness News in the morning, but it?s always amusing to watch the celebrity birthdays scroll by on the bottom of the TV screen. This morning?s roll call was particularly humorous. Along with folks like Fred Grandy (TV?s Gopher from The Love Boat), there was also Mr. Josh Davis a.k.a. DJ Shadow. The fact that Shadow was even included was somewhat cool. The fact that he was mentioned in the same list as Gopher was downright hysterical. Even better than that, however, is how he was listed.

?Rapper DJ Shadow is 32.?

That?s right. You read that correctly. Rapper DJ Shadow is 32. Unbeknownst to him, he has joined a long line of DJ/producers that MC on the side. Either that or the folks at Eyewitness News still aren?t able to distinguish the difference between DJs and MCs. Then again, seeing as how they don?t even use the term ?MC? when referring to those who rock rhymes, I think we all know the answer to that one. I suppose it?s my fault for expecting more from those that only report on hip-hop culture whenever there?s violence going down or an arrest taking place.

At any rate, a happy birthday shout out to Josh Davis, student of the drum, master of the sampler, a sick archivist and digger of great music, and one who reminds that the possibilities in hip-hop instrumentals are endless.

And if you spot him spittin? verbals, let a brother know.

Posted by macedonia at 5:38 PM EDT
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Monday, 28 June 2004
the possibility of an iron worm beatdown
Now Playing: Various Artists - Body and Soul Vol. One
Topic: transportation

For those of you that may still need evidence that common sense has been outlawed by present-day society at large, check this out?

Last Monday, my wife parks the car across from the Pelham Parkway subway station and we make a mad dash for the number five train. Within one stop of our travels, we hear this commotion in our subway car. A man starts yelling at a somewhat malodorous individual to go back into the car from whence he came. Almost immediately after, this loud individual presses the emergency call button and says?

?Conductor, there?s a bum on the train that?s stinkin? up the whole car. Get him off.?

At this point, we?re on our way towards the East 180th Street stop. About a minute later, he presses the call button again. ?Are you gonna get him off?? Then he tries to get confirmation from the people around him. ?Nobody wants to smell that s**t. Am I right??

With all the attention he was paying to the bad odor (which, in the grand scheme of things, was a walking, breathing personification of hard times, mind you), he was completely oblivious to the air of aggravation growing around him. You could feel it rising to the surface. The only thing that the rest of us wanted was to get to wherever we had to go on time. And the self-appointed Smelly Bum Patrol was seriously getting in the way of that. Keep reminding yourself that he used the emergency call button for this situation - not because someone was having a heart attack, not because someone fainted, but because someone smelled bad. While it may not be pleasant to be around, smelling bad still isn?t a federal offense. Unfortunately, neither is being rude or stupid.

So we pull into East 180th Street and sit there. Big Brother Buminator hops onto the subway platform and finds the nearest police officer. ?Yeah, he?s over in the next car. Yeah, that car over there. He?s stinkin? up the whole train.? At this point, the natives are beyond restless and muttering obscenities to themselves as the conductor comes over the loudspeakers.

?Attention passengers: we are experiencing delays at this time. We should be moving shortly. We thank you for your patience.?

He would repeat this twice over the next ten minutes. To make matters worse, we see another number five train pull up. We watch people depart and board the train. And we watch this train that was once behind us pull out of the station. Now here comes the icing on the cake: do you think the man who caused all this ruckus actually stuck around when that other train pulled up?

That?s right, boys and girls: he held up our train, he boarded another one, and left the rest of us behind. And I?m sure when Tuesday morning came along, we were all secretly hoping that we?d see him. I haven?t seen him since, actually. I?m starting to wonder if he takes an earlier train most of the time or if the wrath of last Monday caught up with him and I just don?t know about it. Honestly, I hope the latter isn?t true. Although he was pushy and careless, it?s not within my rights to bring down that kind of judgment. On the off-hand chance that somebody made sure that he would catch a bad one, I?m not saying they should?ve killed him?

But I understand.

Posted by macedonia at 4:36 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 2 June 2004
Now Playing: Jazzanova - dj mix on d-i-r-t-y.com

People who own IPods: they?re everywhere. And if you live or work in New York City, chances are you know a Pod person. On the off hand chance that you don?t, you?ve probably sat next to one on the bus or the subway. Maybe you?ve seen them in passing. It becomes a game after a while: spot the telltale white ear buds.

However, I?ve noticed that white ear buds do not necessarily a Pod person make. Could just be a regular FM tuner or CD player. Some Podsters have tried to throw me off the trail by donning different headphones, disguising the fact that they?re receiving transmissions from their fearless leader. But others proudly show off their allegiance like a badge of honor, IPod strapped to their shoulder bag, clipped to their pocket, strapped around their wrist. I once counted five Pod people on one street corner alone in NYC. This isn?t just a phenomenon?THIS IS A CULT.

Within my cluster of cubicles at work, I sit across from a pair of Pod people, their white-faced players leaning against their computer monitors, a mixed bag of sounds from Tom Waits to Jay-Z occurring between them. I myself rock online mixes and radio show archives. My pockets are way too lean to keep up with the IPod?s current price. It?s clearly become a luxury item at this point, not just the cool thing to have. Hipsters aren?t the only ones who have them on the hip, but older, well-to-do jetsetters have them, too. Accessories come in a bunch, including special IPod leather covers made by the likes of Gucci and Coach.

Pod people rate each other?s playlists online. If they spot each other on the street, one might look down at another?s player and jack in with their own headphones to see what they?re listening to. (While that is an actual phenomenon, I can?t see that happening a lot in Gotham?not without someone getting their face rearranged in the process.) I sit on the sidelines with a curious eye, staring at the next pair of white ear buds that pass me by, wondering if this person?s ?one of them? as well. Heck, all I want is a CD player with MP3 capability. I ain?t picky.

Posted by macedonia at 4:35 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 26 May 2004
brought back like lazarus
Now Playing: Advanced D&D with Donna Summer (wfmu.org)
Topic: playlists

Earlier this month, a friend of mine threw a surprise party for their girlfriend. Got her good, too, I might add. Anyway, he was having a few friends spin records and wanted me to bring some wax. Being in the midst of deciding whether or not I should hang up the headphones for good, I said yes. And I?m glad I did. I arrived all glum and left super psyched. Good vibes, great people, and fantastic sounds. I brought some stuff that people knew and some they didn?t. All in all, I was pleased with the set and the heads in attendance were extremely supportive. I?m glad I didn?t chicken out ? it was good to be there.

Perhaps the secret to continuing to tag the tables is strictly house parties and loft parties. Maybe an outlaw if the right set of circumstances presents itself. At this point, a bar would have to really special in order to get me to spin there. I don?t like bars and I like bar owners even less. At any rate, my appetite for music is back ? BIG TIME. Been making mix tapes and CDs for friends and having a lot of fun doing so. Sharing music on a smaller scale is another element to all of this that I can?t overlook. But I really ought to give props to my man Fitz who reminded me that music will always be there whenever you need it. No matter how occupied you become with other aspects of your life, it will always welcome you back with open arms. It won?t bring up how you never called while you were away or anything like that. It wants your time with it to be creative and fun, and when it?s not, there?s something wrong.

It was the reminder that I desperately needed this month and it came at just the right time. Thank you, Fitz.

*brought back like lazarus* / saturday, may 8, 2004
{dj set at a friend?s surprise birthday party}

snares man!*clearance bin*history of the future
daedalus*busy signal (make you go bombing mix)*eastern developments
the pointer sisters*pinball number count (dj food re-edit)*ninja tune (uk)
prefuse 73*why I love you*warp (uk)
the prunes*not what you think*new breed
baba*let it shine*velour
a tribe called quest*spirits*jive/rca
dj krush*meiso (radio mix)*mo?wax (uk)
open thought*force of life w/Michael Erwin (trumpet)*wide hive
zeb/crnobrnja*sublime porkrinds*codek
quannum feat. lyrics born & the poets of rhythm*I changed my mind (stereo mcs rattlesnake mix)*quannum
headshock*do the jazz again*new breed
soul II soul*back to life (acapella) / jazzie?s groove*virgin
sharpshooters*bye bye porkpie*conception
moments and whatnauts*girls (part I)*stang
james brown*soul power pt. 1*king
marvin gaye*T plays it cool*tamla
jimmy edgar*morris nightingale theme*warp (uk)
deee-lite*say ahhh?*elektra
aretha franklin*rock steady (danny krivit re-edit)*ibadan
deee-lite*apple juice kissing*elektra
ballistic brothers vs. eccentric afros*blacker (94 eq)*delancey street (uk)
liquid liquid*cavern (the cut chemist rocks a rave in a missile silo remix)*mo?wax (uk)
bobby byrd*i know you got soul*king
cookie monster & the girls*c is for cookie (sweet version)*ninja tune (uk)
talking heads*once in a lifetime*sire
dj smash*say ow*new breed
the rapture*killing*dfa
manu dibango*soul makossa*atlantic
mr. scruff & mark rae*the squirrel*grand central (uk)

Posted by macedonia at 4:53 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 June 2004 2:07 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 25 May 2004
how i be...
Now Playing: Nickel & Dime Radio with DJ Small Change (wfmu.org)

i be a child of GOD. i be a human being. i be an individual. i be a black man, spirit housed in a brown-shaded shell. i be 30 and restless. ravenous. relentless. i be extremist erraticus. i be the war-torn site of a battle waging between the spirit and the flesh. I be a potential disciple for Jesus, wondering at times if He truly meant to call *my* name.

i be a walking contradiction. part Passion of the Christ, part Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. i be the edgiest Christian in my congregation, the guy who loves you with the love of Christ but doesn't yet feel that believers are exempt from ass whippings when necessary. i figure if the Messiah can take a beating that He didn't deserve for two days straight - the beating which i should've gotten - then you oughta be ready to catch a bad one when you know you've done dirt and wanna hide behind holiness to boot.

(okay, that's not entirely true. i'd like to think that i've been getting better about forgiveness. it's not the forgiveness part that i have problems with so much as the "be patient with ignorance and stupidity" part. that's NEVER been my strong point. yes, Lord, i know. i really don't mean to give you that migraine...)

i be extremely thankful that i have beth to share this life with. the past 4.5 years have been challenging, but i wouldn't trade them. and i wouldn't want to go through them alone - not with all i've been through. come september, it'll be five years married, twelve years together. children will really put things into perspective. someday soon.

i be spinning records in a club with the decor of a bordello for the last time, for bar owners who say I need to play more variety and weren't even there to hear most of the set for the last time, whose policy was, is, and always will be to sell suds, not promote vibe. so in the meantime, i be making mix tapes and CDs for friends to remind myself to continue to give to others and why i should still get giddy and excited about music.

i be customer service lackey. i be taking far too much crap from teachers, librarians, and smarmy school district pissants from all across america. i be WAY too angry to be in this position. and i know the Lord?s looking down on me and thinking...i didn't die so you could hold a grudge against a media specialist in a middle school in seattle who hung up on you twice last month. harden not your heart.

i be the guy that half my co-workers need to be real thankful i haven't acted out 5% of the things i've thought about in the office. i be the frightening reminder that we all aren't far off from taking it to a place called "there". but since i care not for becoming another dark-skinned cog in the machine called the prison industrial complex, i be a law-abiding citizen of the divided states of america.

i be plotting, planning, scheming, drawing up blueprints to move out of one situation and into another...hopefully one that's a closer fit to my personality and spirit. cause the one i'm in clearly ain't working. i be thankful for the small things in life: sunshine on my face, music in my headphones, a blog on which to post ramblings, any time i can laugh during the work day, and any day i don't leave the office angry or defeated.

to whoever reads these words, I hope and pray that you be how you need to be and where you want to be.

be well?

Posted by macedonia at 3:44 PM EDT
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Monday, 24 May 2004
Felix has left the building...
Now Playing: Mister C's Soul Spectacular (wfmu.org)

Last Monday, I was humming the TV theme song to The Odd Couple. The next day, my wife calls me at work to tell me that actor Tony Randall died. Haven?t been able to listen to that theme the same way since.

Time Magazine printed a touching eulogy from Jack Klugman. Brief, but quite poignant.

Posted by macedonia at 4:20 PM EDT
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Thursday, 6 May 2004
...signifying nothing...
Now Playing: macedonia - the substance of things hoped for (mix cd)

I sip tea because it?s supposed to be soothing. Today it just burns a hole in my stomach. The churning in the pit of my belly reminds me of the ever-present knot that the bile washes over. Some days I can deal just fine with the phone ringing at the job, but today isn?t one of them. Not even 15 minutes in and the most irritating sales rep calls me to talk about issues that they know I?m not prepared to talk about. Or should know. I?ve been looking for the ?out? from this place of business ever since I got in. I?m wondering if I was happier unemployed?only to come to the conclusion that I know that?s not true. Clearly I?m supposed to overcome some obstacle while I?m at this horrendous halfway point in my career. More than likely, it?s an obstacle within myself. I?m supposed to learn something through all of this before I?m allowed to leave this behind. I?ve accepted that. But let me just state something for the record?THIS IS NOT FUN. Not in the slightest.

The knot in my stomach may as well be the thorn in my flesh: that thing that you ask GOD to remove and He shakes His head no. And no matter how many times you ask, the answer is always the same. It?s even worse when you know that you?re responsible for the thorn, as if you jabbed it into your side yourself. It?s one thing when your mistakes only affect you. It?s another when they affect someone else. The decisions I?ve made in terms of employment affect both my wife and I.

I was making good money at a job I couldn?t stand for 4.5 years and then I was terminated from said position. I leapt for joy. I thought it might be a chance to turn things around in my life, to change careers. Doors closed all around me for a little over six months. And then came the position I?m in now. In an industry I thought I would be better suited in (although making far less money), but far from a position I wanted. I took it anyway. And our income has suffered tremendously as a result. Beth only works two days a week ? a majority of her time is spent in grad school. She?s gotta do her thing in order to make sure she?s where she wants to be in terms of her career. I respect that and encourage it. At the same time, I should?ve made sure that I was bringing in the same type of bank that I was making before. The hell with turning back time or trying to back track work history, I should have been looking out for our standard of living. And I didn?t. I only thought of what I needed for my sanity?s sake. And I?m paying for it in more ways than one now.

I?m sitting here trying to figure out when I lost it: the drive and determination that I once had to create a world outside of the one that I had to deal with and fill it with fun. I used to write music reviews every week, as if my life depended on it. I loved working on my website. I used to hunger after new sounds and experiences. I used to dance without shame and embarrassment, completely uninhibited, like I had five minutes left to live. I had to practice mixing, I was hungry for the next gig, the next chance to spin records for people. I had a love to play what they wanted to hear and turn them on to what they didn?t expect. Now it seems like I couldn?t care less if that world withered and died.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. I woke up this morning knowing that GOD gave me the gift of life, that He allowed me to see another day. So why do I feel like a dead man walking?

Posted by macedonia at 2:50 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 7 May 2004 10:41 AM EDT
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Monday, 26 April 2004
when the beats are no longer in sync
Now Playing: the silence that accompanies a mental quandary...
Topic: spinna steez

A few weeks back, the belt on one of my belt drive turntables snapped. Honestly, I?m surprised it didn?t do that several years earlier. I always took pride in making superior mixes with inferior equipment and this particular turntable was bargain basement, discontinued, and at least ten years old when the belt went bust. But a strange thing has occurred: I don?t feel the need to rush right out and get another one. At least not anytime soon. I hardly have the time to practice mixing at home these days, anyway.

I don?t even think I have the insatiable desire to spin anymore. If I didn?t spin a gig for the next six months, I probably wouldn?t complain. I?m starting to question if I even miss it. Drama with bar managers probably has a lot to do with it. However, last year I had a residency that I was able to hold down for about nine months or so (and had some fun in the process), but organization wasn?t exactly the order of the day and I always felt like I was the last one to know everything. So even when I got what I thought I always wanted - a DJ residency at a bar/club - even that went sour after a while.

I?m at the place where I don?t have to be the one spinning at a party. I?m more than happy being one in the number, gettin? my dance on, spreading positive vibes and showing love for the spinner. Maybe if I did more loft parties or outlaws or parties outside of New York (I still smile when I think of Squeeshee up in Poughkeepsie back in January), the craving to do my thing before a crowd would still be there. Maybe my current job has beaten my ambitions out of me. But I think the day the belt snapped was the day my need to spin music died.

I won?t stop sharing or talking about music ? I couldn?t if I tried. I?ll probably do so on a much more intimate scale. I?m currently making mixes for friends, but they?re the personal kind, not mixes that I create to pass out to everyone. I know I have at least two more of those in me, but I don?t think I?ll continue after that. My last music purchases were in February and I?m still trying to find the time to listen to stuff that I bought or was sent to me a month before that. You know what I?ve been buying lately? DVDs. Not a lot of them ? just enough to know that I prefer staying home to going out.

Clearly I?ve hit a transitional period in my life, as far as music is concerned. It doesn?t scare me, although I do find it a bit strange. I honestly didn?t think that this would happen now. I figured it would happen in another 15 or 20 years from now. I still love music, but it doesn?t seem as important to me as it did about a month and a half ago. Odd?just plain odd. Maybe it?s a sign of growing up, maybe it?s quietly admitting defeat, chronic jadedness, who knows? All I know is that even though I have a ?music must-have? list about seven pages long, it?s not a moral imperative that I chop away at it every month with four new purchases. Or even one, for that matter. Meanwhile, the DVD wish list continues to grow. And the chances of those wants being fulfilled grows by the minute?

Posted by macedonia at 5:55 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 7 May 2004 10:44 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 14 April 2004
why the night @ madame x had to die...
Now Playing: Advanced D&D with Donna Summer (wfmu.org)
Topic: spinna steez

Soundscraper Sanctuary @ Madame X is no more. This is due to various factors, none more annoying than the one who was running the show. They tell you that you need to play more of a variety and weren?t even there the whole night to hear what you played. They tell you that pay will come with more heads in the bar; however, when said heads rolled through, they tell you that it?s not really your money because they invited particular heads?only to follow it up with the snide-ass question, ?If we?re bringing in people without you, then why do we need you?? All of this was said to my partner Enrique and then relayed to me. All I can say is?it?s a damn good thing I wasn?t there to hear this. I?m a man that desperately needs to stay holy, and that wasn?t going to happen at this place. In short, we left so that I could save some lives.

I have grown rather tired of bars in general. I imbibe occasionally, but not on the regular. As of late, It?s rare that I drink alcohol while I?m out at a club. During the Madame X gig, it was all about cranberry juice and ginger ale for me. Same goes for Enrique ? he wants to live a sober existence and has been quite faithful in making that happen. Meanwhile, we?re spinning in places whose aim is to make money by slinging suds. Our aim is to create a vibe; theirs is to get loot from others getting drunk. Music is merely the background noise for their main purpose. This is bound to create problems when you want to stay away from that whole scene, and that may or may not have been a factor that Enrique thought about beforehand.

In addition, the decor was also a hindering factor for me. Don?t get me wrong ? the place is beautiful. Red color scheme, lots of comfy couches, very relaxing. Only problem is?the bar looks like a bordello. And every other portrait on the wall is of naked women touching themselves. One of them is larger than life and writhes in ecstasy from the bathroom door. This is one of the first things you see when you initially walk in. An overabundance of flesh is exactly what I?ve been trying to escape. When you?re married, you become cognizant of the fact that you really shouldn?t tempt yourself. The whole concept made me uncomfortable after a while.

So that's the story. Whether or not I?ll be back at another bar, I can?t say. Just not feeling bars right now.

Posted by macedonia at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 7 May 2004 10:44 AM EDT
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Thursday, 8 April 2004
music appreciation moment: Scott Herren
Now Playing: Prefuse 73 - One Word Extinguisher
Topic: music appreciation

he has released music on labels such as Warp, Schematic, and Hefty. he records under several pseudonyms: Savath & Savalas, Delarosa & Asora, Prefuse 73. it's the last moniker which has me completely enthralled with his work. as Prefuse, he has shown the possibilities of where hip-hop can go. marrying them with the glitch-ridden tendencies of the laptop contingent, an MC's flow can be chopped up into Julienne fries and sprinkled over his instrumentals, punctuating the rhythms with staccato syllables and phonemes. his 2001debut album Vocal Studies & Uprock Narratives could be described as hip-hop for reluctant b-boys. you could tell that brother Herren obviously had skills behind the boards. he was holdin' back, though, and in time he would reveal all that he was capable of.

The 92 vs. 02 Collection gave a glimpse of what was to come. a quick four-song EP to tide us over between full-lengths, his b-boy stance got a little wider, his confidence more exposed, the beats more rugged and complex. during the summer of 2002, the single "Wylin' Out" was released on the Chocolate Industries label. Featuring Mos Def & Diverse trading verses, it became the sleeper hit of the summer. but he still had higher to go. everything that had come before would only scratch the surface of what was in him.

last year saw the release of his sophomore full-length *One Word Extinguisher, one of my favorite releases of 2003. words fail me. seriously. pure audio magic from start to finish. vocals of divas are deconstructed and dive in and out of snare drum hits. the words of MCs become the exclamation points of Scott's beat sentences. an unbelievably good album. and if that weren't enough, soon after he released Extinguished, a collection of alternate takes and outtakes from One Word Extinguisher. his outtakes could take out most full-lengths out there.

last i heard, he moved from Atlanta to Barcelona. his latest release is under the Savath & Savalas moniker, a quiet little LP entitled Apropa't filled with traditional Catalan selections and instrumentation. not sure what he'll do next, but he's already solidified a place in my mind as one of my favorite producers. i encourage you to check out his work. not sure if his Eastern Developments label is still up and running, but he started an imprint of his own to modest fanfare. some interesting artists on there, too.

Posted by macedonia at 3:28 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:30 PM EDT
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