Thursday, September 30th, 2004

"We Looked At The Same Intelligence…"

And one was missing after about 45 minutes.

Bush really struggled tonight and I was very surprised. I was at the Wake Forest debate in 2000, and he at least battled Gore to a draw there. But tonight, he launched early into his soundbite (pundits call it ‘message’, and have so far been very charitable to him tonight) and stayed in it often.

Kerry ran the table and even got Bush to look real stupid on Iran (“I didn’t establish sanctions against Iran, a previous administration did”…OK so what have you done about Iran?)–a point none of the pundits seem to have caught either, yet.

I think Kerry missed some huge points though. No Abu Ghraib. No baiting on the draft (Bush volunteered that the military would remain “all voluntary” in his closing). Just one mention of “Mission Accomplished”. All in all, though, he wins this one, if only because Bush looked like he forgot to pop his No-Doz and Viagra.

posted by @ 7:02 pm | 6 Comments

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

How Chic Saved Civilization

Got the DFA comp this week which is great, but prompted me to go back to my Chic records, which taught me a couple of things.

1) Topper Headon’s drum sound on London Calling and Sandinista is straight up bitten from Tony Thompson on the first three Chic records. Prove to me it isn’t.

2) Generations of bands have now made a virtue of being completely unable to play or compose anything as technically difficult or breathlessly perfect as “Everybody Dance”. You can take Queen, the Clash, Go4, let alone Pigbag, Soul II Soul. Maybe even Arthur Russell.

More soon…

posted by @ 12:26 pm | 6 Comments

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Writes, Books, and Screams

Copy-editing is no joke. If you are a hyphen, an em-dash, an endnote, or the word “quickly”, I hate you now. I need sleep but the next semi-colon is screaming at me. Malcolm McLaren and Malcolm Gladwell, I’m sorry but it’s all final now. Why does hip-hop history have to be so long?

posted by @ 9:37 pm | 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Maybe Now She’ll Quit Being Republican?

Sad news about Chaka Khan.

posted by @ 9:32 pm | 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

A Big Week Before A Big Month

Big week for hip-hop activism as folks get down for the home stretch of this campaign…not just because of the debates on Thursday, but because the grassroots hip-hop activist movement is swinging into action across the country.

First off, the championship and climax of Slam Bush goes off tomorrow, the day before the debates in Miami. The Roots are performing, and it should be bananas.

Also, three of the Local Organizing Committees from the National Hip-Hop Political Convention have coordinated a weekend of hip-hop summits to get people focused on the final month of the campaign.

Big things will be jumping off in San Jose with Tricia Rose and Adisa Banjoko, in Pittsburgh with Talib Kweli, and here in Oakland with dead Prez and Barbara Lee. If you’re in the area, definitely fall through.

And remember it’s not just about Bush and Kerry, it’s about a host of ballot initiatives that will change three strikes, put more money into schools, and much more, and about getting fresh progressive young blood into office.

At the very least, download some Kweli and Radiohead MP3s for regime change. See, I knew that would get your attention.

posted by @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

Peace At Home: Gangs, Domestic Terrorism, and Three Strikes

Take note, this morning’s New York Times featured a very important article: “Tattoed Warriors”, that is likely to reopen the discussion about gangs and gang violence, perhaps even as a campaign issue.

William Bratton, LA’s top cop, has called gangs “domestic terrorists” and has restored the same gang task force units that led to the Rampart scandal. Gang Injunctions, a legal strategy that failed miserably a decade ago, have been making a comeback.

Gang violence dropped dramatically during the nineties, but since Bush has been in office, it has climbed sharply every summer in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland. Except in those cities, the media has been largely silent about the surge of gang violence. Is it because the rise has been directly related to the failure of Bush’s domestic and economic agenda?

The recent rise in gang violence has been an urgent issue largely for street activists, community organizers, social workers, and sociologists. That hasn’t been entirely a bad thing. In Los Angeles, for instance, two major peace summits have been held in the last 6 months, and peace workers are making strong headway in the community. It’s possible they’ve been able to do this precisely because Bratton’s alarmist, reactionary approaches have as yet failed to win national attention.

This year’s ballot in California features Proposition 66, an act to amend the 10-year-old Three Strikes Law to include only violent offenses as a third-strike. Right now polls show a solid majority of Californians ready to do the right thing and pass this initiative. It would be a shame if Bratton’s pronouncements brought back the hysteria and scapegoating of the early 90s, which led to so many of these horrible laws being instituted in the first place, just at a point a grassroots movement for change is on the verge of moving gang members and citizens in the right direction. The people working for domestic peace don’t need wild emotionalism, they need popular support.

posted by @ 12:35 pm | 5 Comments

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

Hot Words

OK yall, I gotta give it up to Felicia Pride’s The BackList. It’s a great website on the Black literary life I came across while searching for something else. It’s smart, hip, and completely engaging. It makes me fret anew that there really is no print magazine out there that doesn’t just insult the intelligence of us hip-hop-grown thirtysomethings. (And, believe me, some of us have been working on changing that situation for a minute…)

Anyway, here’s the proof:

+a great interview with Gwendolyn Pough and our MAN, Mark Anthony Neal,

+short features on Kenji Jasper, Carl Hancock Rux, and Black Artemis, all of whom I’m big fans of.

+scroll back issues for an interview with Chris Jackson, Crown’s storied editor.

Top notch stuff, definitely check it.

Bonus unrelated goods: this week’s Bay Guardian review section.

posted by @ 7:28 pm | 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

Hatfield Was The Real McCoy

All this talk about how Bush received special treatment during the Vietnam War, and memos and denials and forgeries and stuff, not to mention all these supposedly new investigations into Bush’s cowardly, Daddy-save-me past that are turning up Page One in all these newspapers made me sadder than ever that J.H. Hatfield is no longer around to get his due respect.

Who was he? He was the journalist who did the controversial W. biography Fortunate Son, that came out before the 200 elections, then got squashed when the Republicans came calling. Hatfield had investigated and found Bush was arrested for cocaine possession in 1972. Richard Clarke and Kitty Kelley never got the kind of full-court hounding and harassment that Hatfield got from the Republicans. In 2001, he was found dead under mysterious circumstances. In his alleged suicide note, he cited the treatment he had received over Fortunate Son as one of the reasons.

Here’s a Democracy Now interview with the man. More importantly, read this book.

posted by @ 7:32 am | 0 Comments

Monday, September 20th, 2004

Whatever Happened To…The Avant-Garde?

To me, this is the best piece of cultural journalism news in a while, Margo Jefferson is starting a column to search for the avant-garde. Weird thing to get excited over, I know. But hey, Francisco got the book and Kerry is jabbing again, so me and reality are cool for now.

Great timing on this avant-garde thing, too. Spent the weekend eagerly devouring (and then, often spitting up) Hughes and Kuspit and others on this very topic.

So uh, does this mean I have to wear cargo pants now?

posted by @ 8:13 pm | 0 Comments

Saturday, September 18th, 2004

Some Polls Ain’t Shit

Back on topic, right?

You’re gonna see a lot of polls between now and November 2. Right now the general polls don’t mean shit. Here’s probably the best summary of the existing polls out there. They show the range of poll results out there: from Bush at 13 points up to Kerry at 1 point up.

The Gallup Poll, in particular, which shows Bush up 13 has been the cause of much hand-wringing. But before you start packing for Canada, here’s a smart refutation of its method.

In any case, the polls that really matter are the state polls and the electoral counts. Who needs the popular vote these days?

And here’s where you can go for that data:

+Pro-Kerry state polling and projected electoral vote counts.

+Pro-Bush state polling and projected electoral vote counts.

Interesting point: the pro-Bush pollers give Kerry a much closer race at this point.

Another interesting point: there is quite a debate raging now over how accurate these polls are because of the cell-phone effect. See here for more detailed discussion.

Main point: Clearly Kerry has squandered his lead. Back in mid-August, both sides concluded Kerry had as much as a 100-vote electoral victory in hand. That’s reversed now.

My take: He’s gotta stop talking like Gore ’00 and start talking like Gore ’04: get some backbone and some fire. Bottom line: if this race is going to be won in the trenches, the street soldiers have to be fired up.

Why do these fools only seem able to speak their mind if they have no intention of seeking office? Hope we don’t have to ask this on November 3.

posted by @ 9:52 am | 0 Comments

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