I just found this excellent dub poetry take of LKJ's "Inglan is a Bitch", the musical version of which was one of the first reggae songs I ever heard on the radio. "Reggae Fi Peach", which can be found along with this one on the excellent Independent Intavenshan retrospective, remains one of my favorite tracks of all time. Read up on Linton Kwesi Johnson here.
Here's a good/short read on the Future of Music Coalition's recent action in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the FCC's perplexing and wildly inconsistent indecency policy.
As someone who's been putting together weekly radio shows for getting on 20 years now, the constant wondering if some expletive's variant exceeds these cryptic "standards" is something I've grown quite weary of. (And is perhaps part of the reason I've packed up the broadcast version of my radio program for the wild west of the internet.) Here are two popular examples of the bewildering topics I've had to consider vis-à-vis so-called "indecency" in the broadcast environment:
1. The word "pissed". Used on air in one context, i.e. "pissed off", it's OK -- not indecent. Used on air in another context, i.e. "pissed on", NOT OK -- indecent, and a punishable offense. Yet strangely, the variable that makes the difference—the word "on"—isn't a cussword by anyone's standards. Except for the FCC. Come again, sailor?
2. The late night "safe harbor" period is alleged to grant some broadcast leeway in the airing of expletives, so long as they are not sexual or excretory in nature. If you've read this blog even semi-regularly, you know that I am not one for needlessly lewd discussion or extraneous profanity. I'd even go so far as to say that I keep things downright family-friendly most of the time. Yet thanks to the FCC, I have had to give professional consideration to matters of whether or not an instance of the word "shit" is excretory in nature. Similarly, I have labored exhaustively on numerous occasions regarding the sexual or non-sexual implications of various uses of the word "fuck". Believe it or not, working in mass media today frequently involves discussions of sexual/non-sexual fucks and excretory/non-excretory shits with one's colleagues.
At the lunch table.
One time, I paged the entire building in a panic because I suddenly feared that something I was playing could be construed as having a sexual or excretory subtext. And why are we so paranoid? Because the FCC demands it. And before you tell me that if I just listened to nice music like the Jonas Brothers or Mariah Carey, such language issues would never come into play, let me remind you that these same standards apply in a news/talk radio environment. And as recent history has taught us, sometimes saucy language is newsworthy in and of itself.
Suffice to say, all this talk of f*cking and sh!tting is probably enough to make a truck driver blush. It makes me wonder who the perverts are that get paid to think about this stuff all day long and come up with these policies. Whoever they are, I certainly wouldn't want to introduce them (let alone Ernie Anastos) to my parents. If only there was some kind of agency I could complain to about them...
While on assignment for The Awl, writer Abram Sauer attended an anti-healthcare reform tea party in North Dakota, where he encountered a gentleman named Zack. In Sauer's words:
I met Zack after walking over to ask him if he had to make two trips to bring his sign and his enormous balls to the event or if he was able to do it in just one trip. Zack was the only counter-protester at the entire event. He stood in plain sight, not fifty feet from the tea-folk, at least one of whom was openly armed. He asked where all these patriots and small-government champions of freedom were during the last eight years. Zack works at a store in Grand Forks and probably faces many of the very protesters regularly. [Full article here.]
A fantastic point, and one I'm glad someone's finally made with some real brevity and precision. Angry people of America: Where have you been?
It's apparent that the so-called "coastal elites" have finally captured the reigns from those we once defined ourselves against. We're the patriotic family values crowd now, whereas social conservatives have re-cast themselves as the radicals and revolutionaries. "Hippies", of a sort. Who saw that coming?
The lunatic fringe aside, I'm hopeful that the tea parties and town hall shouters represent little more than the customary rumblings associated with any such transitional period. People are scared, pissed off, and worried, and The Government is an easy and obvious target to focus their anxieties upon. But perhaps the anti-reform crowd is most frightened by the coming abandonment of their long-cherished fuck-you-I've-got-mine ideology. With 47 million Americans lacking health care, it's quite apparent that their system has failed with spectacular efficiency. (I happen to think that even if only ONE million Americans were uninsured, it would qualify as a crisis demanding immediate legislation. Trying to comprehend 47 million is simply impossible.) But above all, I take issue with what I suspect may be the deeper motives behind these protests. Although I admire their take-it-to-the-streets style of activism, the movement's apparent contentedness with the last eight years reveals more about its core values than any sputtering, ill-informed tirade ever will.
The corruption scandal that tore through Brooklyn and north Jersey last week had me on the edge of my seat along with everyone else in the metro NYC area, and I've greeted the followup stories with appropriate astonishment. (Organ trafficking with crooked rabbis and Jersey politicians? Seriously?! That sounds like the Sopranos AND the Wire! Where's the HBO development team when I need them?)
Anyway, rumors have begun circulating that Hoboken's mayor, who is accused of accepting a $25,000 bribe, may be announcing his resignation sometime tomorrow. However, I'm more interested in the idiotic widget that NBC's website is running next to their coverage of this breaking story. Readers are asked to "rate" the news in much the same way that Indian restaurants on 6th Street ask diners to rate their meals with those "how was the service?" cards. As of this writing, 67% of the respondents claim to be "thrilled", and 33% are "laughing", yet 0% report any sensations of fury, boredom, sadness, or intrigue. (As I recall from my last voyage to 6th Street, the options there are no less confusing. How does one distinguish between food that is "sumptuous" versus that which is merely "exquisite"?)
Meanwhile, at yesterday's council meeting in Jersey City, it seems that some WFMU fans were among the concerned citizens who showed up to pressure resignations from the accused. Pow to the people! [Screengrab via NJ.com]
As with most people who keep an orifice bent towards the illegal art world, I'm a big fan of Steinski -- as much for his storied relevance to the hip-hop and sampling communities as for his on-again/off-again Rough Mix radio productions at WFMU. He's an undisputed champ when it comes to pulling down fresh content from the media glob-o-sphere, and then re-modeling it to create social commentaries that are critical, humorous, or as with his most recent offering, filled with expectancy for what may be yet to come. Reverend Joseph Lowery's benediction at Barack Obama's inauguration last week was no doubt an event that will be celebrated by history texts and civil rights supporters for years to come. Listen to Steinski's masterful remix of the good Reverend's speech, and revel in the days at hand.
Steinski & Reverend Joseph Lowery - None Shall be Afraid
"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen! Say Amen! And Amen!"
It's no great secret that something deeply troubling has happened to the Republican Party. With John McCain's decisive loss to Barack Obama, mainstream American conservatism has made public the profound identity crisis it's been careening towards throughout much of recent history. In this week's Economist, Adrian Wooldridge makes some truly compelling connections between the folly of Republicanism in the newly realized post-Reagan age, and charts a number of possible routes through which the GOP might re-invent itself. Granted, this has been a topic of much discussion lately, but this piece makes its assertions with unique poise and clarity. Check it out here.
Elsewhere on the digital magazine rack, David Grann wrote a great piece in last week's New Yorker on John McCain's tumble in public pereption following his bewildering antics on the campaign trail. For my part, I feel that McCain's candidacy was doomed by his being too fine and intelligent a man to convincingly appeal to the anti-intellectual Republican base. Throughout the campaign, I found myself frequently noting McCain's clear unease with adopting ideologies so far below the stature of those upon which his reputation is rightfully shored. As a result, Obama's already astute platforms were granted futher resonance by an opponent who appeared helpless, angry, and disfigured in reflection to his former self. I would also argue that liberals who cast John McCain in a role as duplicitous as that played by George W. Bush have overlooked a great many facts which might otherwise dilute that all-too-simple argument. As always, the devil is in the details, and it's not hard to imagine that willful ignorance on the part of the new American left might cultivate a dangerous infection with us only just out of the gate.
Inspired by Colin Powell's recent announcement on Meet the Press, I would like to take the opportunity to make my election day intentions official:
The prolonged season of political discourse that we've all been enduring will soon be coming to a close, with the nation's selection of the 44th president scheduled to take place this coming November 4th, 2008. After being duly engaged by the conventions of both major parties, all four debates between the presidential hopefuls and their running mates, countless hours of bickering commentators, the intellectual midgets who populate online discussion boards and political blogs, and most important of all -- many evenings of quiet and concerned dialog with my wife -- it has been revealed that the logical choice for our nation's highest office at this critical hour of the American journey is Barack Obama. My vote will be cast accordingly.
From this plateau of clarity, I can say with confidence that the value system which the Republican party has recently aligned itself with is of the most morally reprehensible variety. As someone who feels that a profound belief in democracy need not preclude a sense of moral and civic obligation to the less fortunate, it is apparent that the trajectory which current Republican leaders would set us upon will only worsen what is already an intolerable state of dysfunction, disarray, and juvenile mindlessness. That the party who claims to hold the first and last word in "family values" continues to demonstrate such a pronounced blindness to concerns of the modern family is utterly baffling. Furthermore, their lambasting and vilification of scholarly pursuits, and the naked hostilities they have revealed towards the virtues of volunteerism stand in polar opposition to any amount of basic Christian decency that was ever instilled in me. With nothing more than the tools of their own demonstration, the Republicans of modern history have proven themselves to be a pack of unimaginative, unskilled, and dangerously self-serving buffoons. Intelligent conservatives -- of which there are many -- have been suitably appalled by these most unfortunate developments. That their outcry has not been more rigorous and apparent remains a source of deep concern.
Conversely, the Democratic party has nominated a sensible, skilled, and inspiring leader who summates the urgency that so many Americans are experiencing at this salient moment in history. I believe that Barack Obama has the wisdom to guide us out from under the worrisome wrappings this country has cloaked itself in of late, and the vision to navigate us towards a more secure future where the core values of responsibility, benevolence, and an awareness of the world beyond America's borders share equal space in the spotlight. Such goals need not be sought at the expense of our safety or prosperity, but as a grand and conspicuous extension of them.
If elected, Obama's task will be a formidable one and the chances of immediate successes on the scale that most of us would want are unlikely. But his efforts will be aided by the swelling numbers of mobilized citizens who are passionately prepped to assist in the rebuilding. Obama's greatest asset is not the ease with which he has raised insurmountable campaign dollars, nor is it his ability to elevate the hearts and minds of Americans through his considerable oratory skills. Rather, it is the unprecedented appeal his candidacy has made to those who have never before felt a vivid and immediate connection to such grand affairs. As an Obama supporter, I am all too aware that the world will not be suddenly transformed, should he become our next president. November 4th is merely one possible point of departure, and it will be at the discretion of every citizen to decide upon their willingness to initiate this most critical step forward. Thankfully, as is so often the case, there is comfort to be found by examining historical precedent. Americans have a long and celebrated history of looking ahead and greeting epic tasks with great expectation, and we are all fortunate that this election is being cast in a language and light that is accordant with that ideology. It reminds us of the gathering momentum that any object
needs to be first set into motion. Barack Obama has repeatedly proven his resolve to utilize that momentum to help guide our greatest aspirations to their eventual fruition. His election would be among this nation's finest achievements.