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Friday, 17 September 2004
Now Playing: The Push Bin with Lou (wfmu.org)

?How does a middle-aged black woman turn a room full of housewives into a group of screaming teenagers? There hasn?t been this much screaming since the Beatles invasion.?

That?s my wife Beth talking about The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ever since Oprah gave away all those cars on her season opener, an ad pitch line I made up has been stuck in my head: ?Buying the love of housewives everywhere.? That?s probably unfair of me to say, since apparently everybody that got a car that day really needed one. Sister woman?s rich and she doesn?t wanna horde her wealth; more power to her. That?s rather beautiful, actually. Still, you have to wonder who?s coming to the show with their hands out, just to see what they?ll walk away with that day. And every now and then, the show will get on a spirituality tip. ?Discovering Your Spirit?Of Materialism.?

Yeah, I know: Don?t hate, congratulate. Perhaps if the band of banshees in the audience were able to maintain an excited yet calmer demeanor I wouldn?t be writing this. So I dig sister Winfrey?s generosity, but it doesn?t make me want to stray from the idea of starting up a punk band called The Screaming Housewives.

?I loves Harpo. God knows I do. But I KILL ?IM DEAD ?for I let him beat me.?
-Sophia (Oprah) to Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) in The Color Purple.

Posted by macedonia at 12:24 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 15 September 2004
a trio of thought clusters
Now Playing: Monica's show on WFMU

One. Collector?s Blues.

I know I?ve said it before, but it bears repeating: when you?re excited about so much music yet you have so little money, there is no joy in Mudville. Absolutely none. Almost makes me wanna join the peer-to-peer collective. Almost. I like buying music and DVDs too much to be a KaZaa addict. It?s the nature of a collector, I guess. Don?t get me wrong ? I like free MP3s as much as the next person. But even if I had a broadband connection, I just don?t see myself going the P2P route. Yeah, I?m one of those ?free and legit? guys, go figure. I also enjoy digital sampling and making sound collages, so I?m certainly not free from major label scrutiny.

Two. Anniversary.

Today marks one year at Rosen Publishing. Excuse me while I wait for the confetti to fall from the ceiling.

They say that ?the customer is always right.? No, they?re not. They?re right even though they?re wrong. And they?re wrong often.

I?m still trying to process the idea that I?m almost 31 years old and I?m working an entry level job that keeps me bored out of my f**king skull. But I do my work. And I get things done. And I try to make customers as satisfied as possible. And let?s face it: it?s kinda hard to screw up a job that you?re dangerously overqualified for. All this because it?s required by law to accept a job position if you?re offered one while on unemployment or be in violation of Department of Labor laws. Ma Dukes doesn?t seem to understand that and I don?t have the time or the patience to explain it.

Since Sunday, I?ve had this weird feeling. It?s as if something spoke to me and said, ?This week is the week that will change your life.? I have no idea where that voice came from. I haven?t a clue as to what the change will entail. I?d like to think that it can?t be any worse than what I?ve already gone through. Seeing as how a thousand years are but a day in God?s eyes, my idea of a week and His idea of a week are two totally different concepts. But I do know this: I?m still here. My circumstances haven?t killed me. And God will deliver me from this when He sees fit to do so.

Three. RNC remembrances.

There was one day during the Republican National Convention that I saw a number of delegates wearing Band-Aids on their cheeks. I had no idea what that was all about. Couldn?t figure it out. I mean, I didn?t think Republicans liked Nelly. I just couldn?t see them partying to ?Tip Drill? at an after-hours club somewhere. Then I noticed the purple hearts on the Band-Aids and the light bulb came on over my head.

Oh, it?s a dig at Kerry, I said. And everything made sense again. As much as it can when you?re watching the RNC, the only place where they have the nerve to launch into McFadden & Whitehead?s ?Ain?t No Stoppin? Us Now? after Chaney?s acceptance speech, then follow it up with a Brooks & Dunn tune.

McFadden & Whitehead, Brooks & Dunn. Apparently the pairing made sense to somebody behind the scenes. I didn?t even think Republicans wanted to be associated with a song that had the word ?Ain?t? in the title, country ditties notwithstanding. Gotta break off a little somethin? for the black GOP reppin? the spot, I suppose.

Black GOP. Jews for Jesus makes more sense than that. Did I mention that Giuliani?s speech made me violent to the point where I would occasionally start shadow boxing at my cubicle the next day?

As for my wife, she has come to two conclusions: 1) Laura Bush is on heavy medication; and 2) somewhere in the back of Zell Miller?s closet you will find a white sheet.

I can dig it.

Posted by macedonia at 3:28 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 September 2004
WMP3 with DJ Shuffle Play
Now Playing: Nickel and Dime Radio w/Small Change (wfmu.org)
Topic: playlists

There was an interesting article in the New York Times a few weeks ago talking about the IPod community and the shuffle function on their beloved MP3 players. Apparently, there are a number of Pod people that strongly believe that their IPod has a brain and that the Shuffle function is not as random as Apple would have them think it is. There were testimonies from Pod owners suggesting that it responds to their mood by playing a certain song at just the right time. Others lamented that their IPod embarrasses them in front of their cool friends by playing that one bubblegum pop tune at exactly the wrong time. Still others swear that the player seems to prefer certain songs and plays them all the time.

Prior to the release of this article, I decided to try a little experiment of my own. While I don?t own a portable MP3 player that holds up to 10,000 songs, I always bring jukebox CDs into work and play them on my computer. For some odd reason, I never used Shuffle Play until last month. Between four different jukebox CDs, each of them holding between six and ten hours of music, I threw on Shuffle Play to see what the result would be.

It?s been an extremely fun ride. I like the idea of not knowing what?s going to come next. And Shuffle Play has a tendency to create segues that I never would?ve thought of (such as switching from legendary hip-hop DJ/producer Marley Marl to the fuzzed-out hard rock of Daisy Chainsaw, a segue so interesting that Shuffle Play did it twice in one week?using the same two songs). I did notice some repetition in the choices and it happened more often than I expected. For instance, the shuffle function on my Real One Player at work seems to really dig Primus. There are only five Primus songs on my jukebox disc containing 137 MP3 files (about 9.5 hours of music). And yet, it kept going back to those Primus songs, all of which happened to be cover tunes featured on the Miscellaneous Debris EP. Shuffle Play also took a liking to Prince and Frank Zappa, which is really weird because they?re two of my favorite artists.

Shuffle Play also enjoyed the comedy stylings of the late Robin Harris. It was almost as if the comedy bits were thrown into the mix to create a break between one genre of music and another. I kept thinking to myself, this CAN?T be random. And I have this one disc where half of it is filled with selections that I downloaded from the 365 Days Project, a site dedicated to ?outsider music? (rare celebrity recordings and novelty productions). That made for a real interesting time on shuffle ? just plain silly.

And being the total and complete geek that I am, I made a list of the top 50 artists in the mix by DJ Shuffle Play over the past month. I?ve indicated particular albums and songs where I could and even put an asterisk (*) next to anything that can be downloaded from 365 Days. No, I don?t have that much time on my hands?I really don?t?yet I still found time to do this. Don?t ask?

  1. Robin Harris ? Special Radio Edits from Be-Be?s Kids
  2. Primus ? Miscellaneous Debris
  3. Frank Zappa ? Sheik Yerbouti
  4. Bel Canto ? ?Unicorn?
  5. Prince (tracks from his Warner Bros. days)
  6. Therapy? ? Teethgrinder EP
  7. Moms Mabley ? Abraham, Martin & John
  8. DJ Hi-Tek & Talib Kweli ? Reflection Eternal
  9. DJ Drilla (unreleased downbeat joints)
  10. Invisible Skratch Piklz
  11. J.J. Johnson ? Man and Boy (soundtrack)
  12. Blackalicious ? ?Swan Lake? b/w ?Lyric Fathom?
  13. Cornelius - Point
  14. Marley Marl - Re-Entry
  15. Louis Farrakhan ? ?Is She Is, Or Is She Ain?t??*
  16. Freelance Hellraiser (bastard pop mashups)
  17. Ezekiel Honig (Microcosm Music/Anticipate Recordings)
  18. Nasenbluten (hardcore techno)
  19. Charles Bernstein ? Gator (soundtrack)
  20. Jerry Goldstein ? Sebastian (soundtrack)
  21. The Ken Nordine Group ? ?Six Commercials in Search of a Client?*
  22. Atrium (Astrakt Reality Records)
  23. People By Us ? ?Swinglargo?
  24. Discorobics ? ?Hokey Pokey Disco?*
  25. Shorty Petterstein ? The Wide, Wide World of Shorty Petterstein
  26. Star Ads (medley)*
  27. Opus III ? Mind Fruit
  28. Daisy Chainsaw ? ?Pink Flower?
  29. The Pixies ? ?Gigantic?
  30. Yo La Tengo ? ?Today Is The Day?
  31. Ween ? Pure Guava
  32. Techno Animal
  33. The High & Mighty ? Home Field Advantage
  34. Stark Reality ? Now
  35. The Sugarcubes ? ?Cindy?
  36. DJ Empirical ? ?Good to Be a Maneater?
  37. V/VM ? ?Simply?
  38. James Cotton ? ?Beat Ya!?
  39. John Oswald (Plunderphonics) ? ?Worse?
  40. Mudhoney ? ?Fix Me?
  41. Malcolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra ? Waltz Darling
  42. Sean Thomas (Esho Recordings)
  43. Fabulous Souls ? ?Take Me?
  44. Zion I ? ?We Got It?
  45. Dondero High School Symphony Band & Chorus ? ?Fox On The Run? / ?Sunshine Of Your Love?*
  46. Dick Clark ? ?Open Letter To The Older Generation?*
  47. Bob Chance ? ?The Van Man?*
  48. Morvizion (tracks on hiptingle.com)
  49. The Space Lady ? ?Major Tom?*
  50. Marilyn Sokol ? ?I Want A Monster To Be My Friend?*

Posted by macedonia at 3:54 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 September 2004 4:04 PM EDT
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Friday, 10 September 2004
the day before the day...
Now Playing: The Push Bin with Lou (wfmu.org)

Whereas September 11, 2004 will mark the third-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America, today marks the third-year anniversary of a time we can't get back to. For me, September 10th has become somewhat historical and poignant in its own right because it represents what we want back and can't have. Everything the USA didn't have to know before the day that came after it is gone.

As people gear up to remember the day, I still find myself fascinated by the elusive nature of the day before the day. And I still hold fast to the belief that while we commemorate September 11th, we long for September 10th. For Americans, for the world, it's the ultimate example of what we all want...and can't have.

Posted by macedonia at 9:30 AM EDT
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Thursday, 9 September 2004
the rain on urban terrains can really screw up the trains...
Now Playing: Bryan Ferry - Mamouna [Virgin]
Topic: transportation

I?m sure that there were those of us who live and/or work in New York City dreading a repeat of yesterday?s commuting events. Although there was rain off and on this morning, it was smooth sailing on the subway. Yesterday was a whole other animal.

A random straphanger on the subway hit it right on the nose: ?The MTA is clueless on a normal day. When things go wrong, it?s just chaos.? I couldn?t agree more. Sometimes I think that Mother Nature throws the weather pattern into a tizzy just to watch the MTA cause more confusion than it solves. Their current slogan is ?Going your way.? I would like to propose an addendum to that:

?The MTA: Going your way?until some sort of natural disaster happens. Then we pretty much make things up as we go along.?

It was raining pretty hard when I stepped out of the door yesterday. I was determined not to let things get me down: not the weather, not the job, not anything. So the meditation started the moment I walked outside and put up my umbrella. Of course, the umbrella didn?t do a bit of good as the rain was coming down at an angle. The bottom of my pants were soaked?almost up to the crooks of my knees. I?m standing at the bus stop with another brother whose umbrella is twice as big as mine, his pants soaked also. And we?re looking at each other as if to say, ?Why are we even using these things? It?s pointless.?

Bus picks us up and we?re whisked to the subway station. I think I boarded the train around 7:45 A.M. Usually, this is a 45-minute trip at the most. I didn?t get to work yesterday until 10:15 A.M. Six stops into my trip, the train sat for what seemed like 20 minutes due to a sick passenger. Once we went underground, things got worse. My train emptied everyone out at the 149th Street-Grand Concourse stop. Flooding problems had killed West Side service. Nothing was running: no 1, 2, 3, or 9. I think the A, C, and E were affected also. So everything was running on the East Side, which meant crossed signals, misinformation, and maddening delays.

The next express train I boarded turned into a local around 125th Street. I don?t think I need to tell you how crowded that train was. I remained surprisingly calm throughout all of this, just closed my eyes and meditated. People around me cracked a few jokes and shared stories about their traveling mishaps. One man commented that he never took a local train before today. ?I didn?t even think the trains stopped at 77th Street,? he said.

On the plus side, I was almost dry by the time I got to the office. I wasn?t the only co-worker with a horror story about the subway, so when I finally arrived, it wasn?t news to anyone what had happened to me. Thankfully, yesterday was our breakfast day at work ? folks bring bagels in and all that. Along with the bagels was a cookie platter with plenty of oatmeal raisin still left. So I happily munched on some cookies, checked my messages, fired up the computer, and listened to WFMU?s Listener Hour. The show from last Saturday was hosted by Otis Fodder. An interesting character, he hosts a website that?s sort of a portal to incredibly strange music and a showcase for his various projects. His hour-long show was dedicated to the music of high school bands. You haven?t lived until you?ve heard a high school band perform Rod Stewart?s ?Do You Think I?m Sexy??

Posted by macedonia at 12:21 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 September 2004 12:25 PM EDT
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Thursday, 2 September 2004
late bloomer syndrome (or "how can i be DOWN?")
Now Playing: Japanese pop...and lots of it.

What would you be doing if you were not making music?
M: God, I don't know. Probably have a regular job or be stressing on the street doing something that I ain't supposed to do, like my other homies. Luckily music can save your soul, and you can be in tune with more of yourself.

-Taken from an interview with Madlib, Tokion Magazine, September 2004.

I read this interview earlier in the week and it made me smile. I have so much respect for Madlib as a producer, DJ, and musician. Seeing him spin along with Peanut Butter Wolf and Trevor Jackson at P.S. 1 back in July was easily the highlight of my summer. It?s funny some of the traits that some record collectors share, like buying records just for the cover art or getting a certain feeling about how an album will sound without even listening to it first, then getting home and discovering that you played the right hunch. I totally relate to that. Some of the most challenging and creative music in my record crates were purchased by playing hunches.

I look at all that Madlib?s doing and think to myself, damn?he spends all day in the studio. If only that could be my life? At the same time, Stones Throw is an indie label and at the end of the day, you need to move units. So they gotta put in work: promotion, tours, in-store appearances and all that. But still, they?re doing what they want to do. You gotta respect that. The same can be said for so many other artists and hard-working labels dedicated to releasing quality sounds.

A good friend of mine and his girlfriend were over my place this past weekend and he asked me why I wasn?t already doing the same. I said something about having too many other responsibilities to really pursue it, as well as lacking connections. I?d like to think that at least the first part of those sentiments ring true. I gave up rapping a long time ago; I?m a poet, but I?m no MC. I just don?t have it in me to be that boastful ALL THE DAMNED TIME. The house that MCs built is fortified with bravado at its foundation. Meanwhile, I?m a Christian, which means I?m supposed to make it my business to crucify self daily. Kinda hard to do when you?re claiming bragging rights, isn?t it? Besides that, it?s through the blog and my rants that the vocal side of me comes out.

Most musical ideas that I have these days are more instrumental than vocal anyway. I could probably say a lot more through the rhythm than my vocabulary. Sometimes you just need to know when to shut the hell up. There are beats in my head that have been haunting me for years. They will more than likely continue to do so until they are fully realized outside of my mental. So what are my excuses for not doing so already? Time and money. Both of these are my greatest enemies. Working a pride-swallowing, soul-sucking job for craptacular wages can seriously sap your energy. Most of my day is spent at the job and traveling to and from the job. When I get home, there is always something to be done that keeps me away from the music. And the money?s spent before the pay check?s even in the account. The few dollars that I?m not even supposed to spend usually end up going towards music purchases.

I suppose I?ve been championing other artists? sounds for so long that I?ve left no time or money to bring my own to fruition. This is about the point in the conversation where my friend responds, ?You need to stop doing that.? The thing is I like being the person that turns others on to cool sounds. I?m a selector before a producer. Granted, back in my college radio days, I was able to do both on the regular. I was a lot hungrier then. I was also more conceited and considerably more dishonest. Long story short, I was a so-called follower of Christ who ran game on people on the side. Once I graduated from college, I did my best to distance myself from the person I was back then. To a large degree, the producer in me may have been swept up while I was internally cleaning house.

I haven?t been spinning anywhere since March and I don?t have a radio show, so my circle of influence isn?t nearly as large as I would like for it to be. I?m a man with much music and very few outlets. Other aspects of my life (primarily the job and the never ending war of economics) have done well in beating me down to the point of where I?m just numb to so many things. These days, I can swing from really numb to verbally violent (just exactly the states in which every employer loves to see their customer service representative, wouldn?t you say?). I don?t like extremes, so this has gotta stop, but without a new corporate gig lined up, there?s likely more on the horizon. Listening to Giuliani?s speech at the Republican National Convention Monday night (yeah, I know, should?ve known better) had built up a murderous rage, which thankfully subsided Tuesday afternoon...shortly after I started reading the Madlib article.

I have a picture of myself at 11 months old, dragging Roberta Flack?s Quiet Fire album over to the record player. I recently found that record for three bucks at a vinyl spot I stumbled upon in the East Village. Things like that remind you of who you are. More than often, who you are has nothing to do with what you do for a living. It?s no accident that I found that record. Maybe fetal beats will actually have a chance to become newborns. It would be nice to be pregnant with production again. It would probably take my mind off of the unnecessary annoyances. It?ll happen when it happens; I?ll only dread it if I rush it. Until then, tempos and chord changes wipe their feet on the tissue of my brain and take residence, nagging me every so often to become ?the poor man?s Prince Paul? that I?ve always pictured myself being.

Posted by macedonia at 11:08 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 September 2004 11:17 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 25 August 2004
Now Playing: Choking on Cufflinks w/Michael Goodstein (wfmu.org)

The worst states of being for me are boredom and numbness. I?m trying to avoid both, but the monotony of a never changing, everyday routine makes it increasingly difficult. And when the changes do come your way and they look as if they may not be for the better, the built-in anesthesia immediately goes to work. If you live or work in or near a city like New York City, the numb candy gets injected into your skin after a while. I don?t know if it can be avoided. It?s part of the survival mechanism that?s necessary to exist amongst the denizens of the urban jungle.

Change is inevitable. It can be good, necessary, irritating, just plain frightening, or a combination of some or all of the elements. Autumn?s peeking over summer?s shoulder, and while I appreciate the cooler temps, changing leaves, and picturesque road trips, the season has become this yearly reminder that I better get ready for the deep chill of winter. Only a few days before September is here: back to school, back to work, back to the routine, back to being busier than you already were, back to having more people wanting to take your time and energy in various increments. I know I shouldn?t expect such scenarios, but the patterns of my life since January of last year have informed me when I need to brace myself.

It?s been a week since Beth?s last day of work at CNA. She?s currently gearing up for the fall semester at Hunter College. She is now a teaching adjunct preparing to take her first crack at shaping young minds. At the same time, she also needs to finish up a pair of term papers hanging over her head since the previous semester. It?s the career change she always wanted to make, but never wanted to actually go through because she knew that the adjustment period would be rough. I?ve been living that reality for at least a year and a half now.

The idea that I?m the main breadwinner of the home just kills me, especially considering that I?m making half of what I used to make?doing something that I absolutely despise doing. Come September 15th, I will have been here a year. I?m almost 31 years old and I have an entry-level position in a customer service department. This CAN?T be my life. I keep wondering how the annual review?s going to go. It?s not that I haven?t done my job. I have ? quite well. How could I not when I?m dangerously overqualified? So the question remains: how do I get through the upcoming review without letting on that I?m bored to tears, that I?ve been considering other possibilities, that I consider clipping electrodes to my nether regions a more pleasurable alternative?

Okay, maybe that?s going too far, but you get my point. I?m here because it was the only opportunity made available to me after 6.5 months of not working. This isn?t a first choice, it isn?t even a last choice, it is what it is. And nothing more. If it wasn?t for God?s grace and a constant stream of music at my cubicle, I?d go completely mad. Like I said, boredom and numbness are zones I can?t afford to go into.

The war of economics that I fight daily just got more intense. I?m trying to figure out how bills are going to be paid from now on. When your inflow is considerably less than your outflow, it?s like battling a monster with a pair of barber shears. Maybe you?ll get close enough to actually cut off an ear, only to have it grow back within a few weeks? time. Still, I?m reminded that things could be far worse every time I take my lunch break and step out for some fresh air.

Within a few blocks of my office, the faces change but the scenario remains the same. A person sits on the sidewalk, head down, their worldly possessions in a knapsack, and their sign on display explaining their plight. New faces appear every week along my walk to the park. There are days I think they all rotate positions every so often. Hard times don?t discriminate; clearly all shades have been affected. I?ve seen a brother roam these streets with headphones, pontificating about various homemade theories with random passersby. There?s a sister a few doors down from where I work who wears a winter hat and jacket all year round with denim jeans, one leg rolled up to the kneecap. Her words are coarse and unforgiving as she carries several grocery bags around, their contents concealed from the multitude that hustle and bustle along East 21st Street, cell phones permanently attached to the sides of their heads.

I look at all of these people in these unfortunate circumstances, think about how many others there are in this city, and wonder when the NYPD will begin tucking them away?just in time for the Republicans to take over Gotham.

Posted by macedonia at 4:29 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 24 August 2004
back to the party
Now Playing: check the list, man...
Topic: playlists

This is it. The new mix is finally done. Almost 79 minutes in length, starring my good friends disco, house, techno, soul, and funk. After wrestling with this for several months (when I could sneak in the time), I have to say that I?m happy with it. As I?ve stated before on this blog, I?ve been calling it a ?lo-fi booty shake session,? so this one?s for the rump shakers out there. I?ve done the introspective, contemplative mix thing already and I needed to let loose for once?long overdue. Funny thing is it still feels like victory to me, or a soundtrack to overcoming obstacles in a way. That?s probably only because this thing is finally done. But before I overanalyze something that I never designed to be brainy in the first place, let me recap the playlist and step away from the keyboard.

Oh yeah, click here to listen. And enjoy. I hope?

-prelude to a celebration-
mouse on mars*diskdusk*thrill jockey
metro area*dance reaction*environ
the nick straker band*a little bit of jazz*prelude
cookie monster & the girls*c is for cookie (sweet version)*ninja tune (uk)
roy ayers*running away*polydor
cosmic rocker vs. zeb*hashish*codek
djinji brown*chango?s house*seven heads
aardvarck*non spoken (track b1)*delsin (the netherlands)
claro intelecto*tria*ai (uk)
the soft pink truth*soft pink missy*soundslike (uk)
the rapture*killing*dfa
liquid liquid*optimo*soul jazz (uk)
the soul searchers*blow your whistle*harmless (uk)
the joe cuba sextet*bang! bang!*tico
$tinkworx*whut*down low
ezekiel honig*cape cod getaway (john tejada remix)*microcosm music
matthew dear*in unbending*spectral sound
akufen*in dog we trust*force inc. (germany)
!!!*intensifieder ? sunracapellectrohshitmix ?03*touch & go
serge gainsbourg*marabout (bob sinclar remix)*mercury (france)
underworld*rez*wax trax!/tvt
carl craig*tres demented*planet e communications
-the comedown-

Posted by macedonia at 11:15 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 August 2004 11:21 AM EDT
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Thursday, 5 August 2004
a wedding, a reception, an afterparty, and the aftermath
Now Playing: WFMU - Noah Zark (wfmu.org)

In order for you to truly appreciate the wonderfully bizarre victory that was the afterparty, I need to fill you in on the wedding and reception that preceded it.

On Saturday, July 31, 2004, the heavens smiled as two souls were joined together to be married: Dawn Crandell and Baruch Israel. In a world where so many senseless things happen, this event was a reminder that beautiful moments ? the type that you secretly wish for and jump for joy when they do ? can still occur on this imperfect planet. The wedding wasn?t the typical religious service, as Dawn and Baba aren?t typical human beings. In fact, it was its unconventional nature that made it so memorable. Both artists, educators, and activists, the bride and groom culled from their individual upbringings and shared experiences to pull off an awe-inspiring union.

The wedding took place that afternoon at St. Mark?s Church in New York City. For the rest of my life, I will never get their processional out of my head. Baba and his wedding party lined up on one side of Parish Hall, Dawn and her wedding party on the other. They would enter with a personalized rendition of ?The Wedding March,? the women singing in luscious harmonies while the men laid down vocal percussion. It was a brilliant decision, one that still leaves me speechless just thinking about it. As the judge led them through the ceremony, a hush fell upon us all, followed by the feeling that all was right with the world. Few dry eyes were left in the place as Dawn and Baba recited their own vows. Again, we were speechless, save for a lone voice amongst the congregation that simply stated what we were all thinking: ?That?s deep.? And when they kissed, it was magic. It said more than all the words they?ve weaved together ever could.

From there, the wedding party exited the hall for a toast ? well, several actually. Get a bunch of artists and their close friends together and everybody?s gotta have their time in the spotlight. Leave it up to that nutty bunch to spark a bride and groom toasting cipher (?I got next!!?). It was all love, though. Two amazing people became husband and wife that day ? and for that, there?s plenty to say and to celebrate. After that, it was back into the hall for the reception. Amazing food and drink, largely a vegan selection and quite tasty. Did I mention that there was no air conditioning in Parish Hall? I think we all lost five pounds just by sweating. Music was provided by my man Emil a.k.a. DJ Center, Baba?s ace boon and groove purveyor for Open Thought. Moving deftly from soul and funk to old school hip-hop, afrobeat, and other flavors, he held it down, as always, giving folks a taste of what was in store for the afterparty.

So we said our goodbyes, offered more hugs and handshakes to the newlyweds, and headed off to spruce up for the jump off later on that night. And that?s when things really got interesting.

Emil had been briefing me for about a week and a half prior what he wanted the afterparty to be like: ultimately a celebration of Dawn and Baba through their favorite music. ?All I ask is that you bring your Macedonia vibe and I?ll bring my Center vibe.? That?s what he said to me. I was with it from jump. I love how that cat gets down in the mix and I knew that the both of us together would create something special for our newlywed friends. It was located at a place called Le Souk on Avenue B, a two-level restaurant/bar with a Middle Eastern-flavored decor and belly dancers to boot (a few of them male). The party would be located downstairs in an open area spot of the club. Ideally that area should have been closed off to us. It didn?t turn out that way, but more on that later.

Emil said that the owners never pay the DJs what they?re worth, but he could guarantee me a certain amount, which was more than I?ve seen at my last several gigs combined (not hard to do when you?re constantly spinning for free). No complaints outta me. Two nights before the big day, he calls me up stressed because dem shady Souk cats flipped the script on him. They figured they?d cut into our cash in order to make as much money as possible that night without spending a lot. That?s what it?s all about now regarding bars and clubs in the Rotten Apple, so I wasn?t surprised to hear that. He was getting a bad feeling and needed some encouragement. So we decide to stick it out and not let the bad vibe get us down, just feed off the positive energy that our friends would bring. But negativity is a worthy adversary and would show up in more ways than one that night.

The moment that Beth and I turned the corner on Avenue B and I saw all these trendy people lined up in front of the spot, I already knew what kind of night I was in store for. I quickly filed the coming attractions under ?one of those nights? and it played out just like I thought it would. Friends of mine who had RSVPd for the afterparty guest list were getting hassled over dress codes that management never bothered to tell anyone about. So after Emil comes out and tries talking with one of the staff (to no avail), he escorts me downstairs. He looked vexed, but still wanted to vibe out through the music, so he spun some more tunes. The trendy outnumbered the wedding folks 12 to 1. So much for having the room to ourselves. I was ready for whatever, so I tried to get a feel for where Center was at in terms of a rhythm. In the corner, a bachelorette and her giggly cohorts were making a scene. Our people were scattered amongst the room. There were a few heads that looked like regulars that seemed to be diggin? Center?s groove, though.

Dawn entered first, soon followed by Baba. The new husband needed to holler at Center regarding the illness of the evening, so I took over and played the following records:

cloud one*atmosphere strut*p&p
cookie monster & the girls*c is for cookie (sweet version)*ninja tune (uk)
talking heads*once in a lifetime*sire
jamiroquai*supersonic*sony (uk)
prince*17 days*warner bros.
prince*i wanna be your lover*warner bros.
booker t. & the mg?s*melting pot*harmless (uk)

While ?17 Days? blasted through the speakers, much to the delight of the bride (a MAJOR Prince fan), I crouched down to find another selection, only to hear the needle skate violently across the record. I sprung up to catch one of the bar backs zoom by out of the corner of my eye and figured they must have bumped the turntable or something. To make matters worse, one of them had turned a huge floor fan toward the mixing console, which would?ve been fine if it was blowing at us. But no?it was blowing directly over the turntables. So the slipmat from the other turntable gets blown over to the one that the Prince record is on and knocks the needle a little further. I pick the tonearm up off the record and shout at the top of my lungs?


People thought I was pissed, but I really wasn?t. I?ve ended up spinning in this type of environment more times than I care to count, and I already knew what I was in for. I figured if they were gonna play those types of games, let me get straight Negrocles on these mofos and speak in my Monsieur Big Nig voice. I let Center and Baba know about the happy haps and keep doin? my thing. This is probably around the time that a Plan B started to formulate. As I switch from ?Melting Pot? into a DJ Vadim joint, Dawn asks for a microphone. We hook up the headphones to the microphone jack and turn down the music. Dawn proceeds to announce to all in attendance that, due to the rudeness of the management, the afterparty was being moved down the street to a spot where her friend tends bar. Packed up our records and whatever else we had and left the place with no DJs, no music, no vibe.

Now, THAT?S how you shut a party DOWN.

This is obviously not the Alphabet City of ten years ago, because back then people who looked and acted like the trendy folks at Le Souk would have been scared to even walk down Avenue B. Gentrification is a cruel and harsh mistress. New York City, supposedly the most progressive city on earth, has become economically draining to artists. Due to outdated cabaret laws, bogus quality of life issues, and everything being geared towards the tourists and the rich, New York has been excluding native New Yorkers for years now. And forget about trying to champion new and exciting sounds at a club ? the owners would much rather play it safe. So everything?s geared towards the beautiful people, needlessly rife with dress codes and way too much attitude. The only time they?ll even consider taking a chance is when they?re down on their luck and figure that they have nothing to lose.

But the heads I was hanging with that Saturday night weren?t goin? out like punks. Seeing as how our time at Le Souk truly Le SUCKED, a mass exodus took place. The party would continue about a block and a half down the street at a discreet yet friendly spot that actually had air conditioning. After all that we had been through, we welcomed the change with open arms. The DJ was playing some danceable tunes with a Moroccan/Arabian flair. While my wife tried to figure out exactly when Avenue B turned into Little Tehran (her words), the people brought the party atmosphere with them. The dining area in the back turned into a dance floor in seconds flat. Want to know the key to getting a party started? Just call Dawn?s father and let him do the rest. No matter what the circumstances, brother Bernard will get it started.

So in a strange way, we won. The underdogs pulled it off. Granted, the music to our victory dance was supplied by a guy who would segue from Punjabi MC into Marc Anthony with a straight face, but who cares? The point is we still won. And the family and friends that surround Baba and Dawn were just the motley crew necessary to pull off such an upset. Emil was even able to spin some joints around two in the morning. Yeah, it was one for the books, all right. It was a conclusion that just proves how much sense it makes for them to be married: they sidestep the pitfalls, jump the hurdles, climb over the obstacles, and make victories happen.

Together. Just the way it should be.

Posted by macedonia at 3:06 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 5 August 2004 3:26 PM EDT
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Sunday, 1 August 2004
party for your right to fight: culture jamming in NYC
Now Playing: Howard University Marching Band - "Got To Get You Into My Life"
Topic: event reports

Saturday, July 24, 2004

It was around 9:30 p.m. when I found myself looking up at the Manhattan Bridge from a Brooklyn street corner down by the water?s edge. I was waiting on line with dozens of others to get into the Lunatarium. They were hosting a party entitled New Nation, some sort of multi-purpose festival with DJs, bands, carnival acts, and activist organizations. The heads at Complacent were involved, so I already knew the angle: somewhere between revelry and revolution. These functions are rarely ever without their share of hedonism, which was the very thing that made me wary about going in the first place. Decadence and I just don?t see eye to eye lately. Then again, when you tell yourself that you?re trying to live life like you know God is watching you (and sometimes acting as if you never said that to yourself), the tug-of-war between the spirit and the flesh reminds you that this battle is a daily operation?with no signs of an end anytime soon.

Visuals from a laptop were on display along the side of the warehouse with people text messaging from their cell phones in order to fill in the blanks of the broadcast statements. A man appears from around the corner in a white suit and a preacher?s collar, speaking through a megaphone. ?Now appearing on stage?the beautiful?sexy?Female Bureau of Investigation! Your chances of getting laid will increase greatly if you see this band! One can only hope that they investigate us?conduct a search?pat us down?? Apprehensions or no, too many people I knew were performing for me not to be there, plus there were some acts that sounded interesting. So I paid my ten bones, cast my dispersions to the side and walked in.

F.B.I. provided live funk and soul from a garage space. Opposite them was a tent area peopled with various organizations including Greenpeace, Dancesafe, and The League of Pissed-Off Voters. Functions like these always bring an interesting mix of people out: the ravers, hippies, hipsters, hackers, b-boys and b-girls, the well-to-do, the down and out, the anarchists, the activists, the undecided, and everyone else in between. Spent about the first half hour walking around and talking with random folks in the crowd (it?s amazing how easily my Boondocks/Okayplayer t-shirt can start up a conversation), as well as catching up with some heads I hadn?t seen in a while. It?s always wild when you see people from different areas of your life all in one spot. I could already tell it was going to be a memorable night.

I was encouraged to step into the garage to check out Femm Nameless, an all-female afrobeat band. Live bands that lay down a danceable groove are definitely my flavor right now and these sisters did not disappoint. They were tighter than a mosquito?s posterior from the moment they started and quickly whipped the crowd into a dancing frenzy. The lead singer (who also played a mean trombone) brought the politickin? to our doorstep in between songs: ?It?s not only about making your vote count, but who counts the votes. DEMAND YOUR MOTHERF**KING RIGHTS!!? The crowd answered back with cheers of approval. They closed their set with a cover of Fela Kuti?s ?Water No Get Enemy,? leaving us wanting more. We clapped, stomped, and chanted for one more song. The femmes took the stage and absolutely KILLED Fela?s ?Zombie,? which I was secretly hoping they would perform. I went nuts. Once it was over, I made a beeline to their booth to cop their CD.

By this time, the festivities under the night sky began to resemble a carnival. People piled onto a bus that ran on vegetable oil that sat across from a van serving as a confessional booth. Out near the water, short films were projected onto a silver screen and people took turns being tossed back and forth on an apocalyptic-looking machine complete with a body harness. Got a nice hook-up from one of the activist booths handing out goody bags from The Nation. Meanwhile, anti-Bush administration shirts were a big hit that night ? ?My Bush would make a better President? for the ladies, ?My Dick would make a better Vice-President? for the men.

Video installations of Dubya and protests line the walls inside. People are having their faces painted in a corner. A naked man walks among the crowd as if nobody's supposed to notice that the emperor has no clothes on. Three rooms separate one series of sounds from another. Just around the bend emanate the sounds of disco and tribal house. My man Jordan?s got the multitude body to body on the dance floor. The lights go out and screams of delirium erupt. I leave this scene to condense my two carry bags into one, just in time for the DJ to drop ?The Nervous Track? by Nu Yorican Soul. And from there it?s on. I think it was Tyler Askew of Rude Movements holdin? it down on the tables. Deep and soulful house met up with broken beat in the mix. Every musical experience so far was further confirmation that I was in the right place?and my friends hadn?t even taken the stage yet.

During a 15-20 minute wait on the porta-potty line, I was entertained by The Hungry March Band, a raucous dose of Mardi Gras spirit infusing their performance. Between Femm Nameless and Tyler Askew, I danced so hard that I was literally wringing sweat out of my Boondocks tee. Luckily, The Nation goody bag had something to change into: a short-sleeved shirt that simply read ?November 2.? I made it back in time for the second half of 3rd Party?s set. As always, they did their thing ? real hip-hop at its finest. Rabbi Darkside, Farbeon, and my man Hired Gun sound better every time I see them. The way in which they trade verses off each other and keep the crowd going consistently is a beautiful thing to witness. And it was just getting started up in there. A seamless switch was made from 3rd Party to Open Thought, and the hip-hop flow continued. MC/beatbox artist Baba flipped verses off the dome, including a freestyle about hooking up with Dawn (his fiancee). That in particular was a really touching moment, especially if you know them and what a blessing it is to see them walk through life together. Baba called Dawn up to the stage (who was taken to the spot blindfolded by members of her bridal party, including my wife) and just kicked the verse, then kissed his bride-to-be as the crowd applauded and cheered.

(Let?s just stop there: how many hip-hop shows have you been to that celebrate love in such a fashion? Or even take the time to mention it? I didn?t even think about that aspect of it until just now.)

It had become a bit of a sweatbox inside and my wife needed to get some air, so we headed out for a few minutes. A drum circle started by the water with fire dancers adding their own pyrotechnic movements to the spectacle. Feeling the breeze come off of the river, reality begins to set in. I began to think about the war of economics that my wife and I fight daily, the idea that the money that I make at my current job is half of what I used to make at my previous one, and the bills still have to be paid. The fact that my wife's full time gig ends mid-August and then it's back to grad school, leaving us with nothing but my current salary to live on. The lack of savings, the abundance of passions and dreams, and how the two sides never seem to come to a compromise. Beth and I held hands under the bridge, the wind from the water numbing us both, trying to make sense of it all.

Back inside, the crowd was merely concerned with the get down as DJ Rekha hit 'em with the bhangra beats. Around the corner, DJ Chrome assaulted body movers with dark drum and bass as MC Hired Gun supplied microphone motivation. After about 20 minutes or so, I retreated to a corner to rest. The sounds from different rooms began to bleed into each other and the visuals would follow suit. George W. loomed large on a wall while a video manipulator put words in his mouth with a few clicks of a mouse. Behind Bush Jr. came a parade of protestors demanding to be heard, refusing to leave until their concerns were addressed. This symphony of sensory confusion provided an apt soundtrack to what I was feeling at the moment, let alone the political climate of our nation at large.

Watching the sun rise during the drive home, synapses in my brain called out for a rewind. Tyler Askew's set came rushing back to my memory, along with the feeling of euphoria while dancing to certain selections. It was good to have been in the midst, to party and politick alongside so many. What we do with the information that we have shared and received remains to be seen, although word has it that $16,000 in donations were raised for a number of political and activist organizations that were there that night. One thing's for certain: no matter what happens, the next few months leading up to Election Day are going to be quite interesting...and that's probably putting it lightly.

Posted by macedonia at 2:10 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 1 August 2004 2:15 PM EDT
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