Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sellouts? or I'm Not a Dr. But I Play One on TV on the Radio

...I'd put up a post on MOG about TV on the Radio when I went to see them open for Massive Attack at the Hollywood Bowl back in September...when I downloaded those TV shows I was talking about onto my iPod the other day, one of them were the first four episodes of Grey's Anatomy...on the wrap up montage of the fourth episode, the part where Izzy's reading a letter left by Denny (a patient that she'd had fallen in love with but had croaked b/c of heart trouble at the end of last season) the started piping in "Province", my favorite cut on TVOTR's Return to Cookie Mountain LP , and I was simultaneously happy for the group but was wondering if they'd be considered sellouts because their music's included on the playback of a popular medical TV show...hmmmm...I still dig on the tune and probably shouldn't even plex...but, still, I wonder...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Scratch: See, Look & Learn about the Birth of a Hip Hop Nation

A friend of mine gave me her copy of the film Scratch, Doug Pray's Hip Hop-umentary, to check out because she thought I'd like it--she was on it. I'd written pieces before wherein I reflected back on how hip hop was in the early days back on the East Coast ; outside of hours of extensive readings of books and album jackets, Scratch is one of the best filmed chronicles of how the hip hop nation came to fruition. The flick's jumping off point begins with DJ Premiere's recollection of hearing a scratch for the first time as a kid in Texas and quickly cuts to Mix Master Mike (speed cutting in his den) who expounds on what a scratch is --- these two separate 30 second segments set the tone for what's covered in the fim proper: getting to the heart of what hip hop is a transcendental journey of sorts and everyone devoted to it has his own love story to tell about where he/ she found the funk.

Clocking in at 1:32, Pray manages to cover a lot of ground in a segment entitled Elements which begins in the Bronx River Housing area (the low-income housing skyscrapes where some of the first seedlings of hip hop found purchase; began to germinate and eventually took root all over the globe). The first quarter of the film gives the viewer a peek at what was known as "Little Vietnam" as described by none other than Afrika Bambaataa, a foundind member of the Zulu Nation; Soulsonic Force (still rockin' those Star Trek shades) and it gives an in-depth exposition on the early, humble beginnings in one of the poorest sections of NYC; in the early 70's and makes for a fascinating reflection on what has now a world-wide musical phenomenon overrun by the bling set: things weren't always so...see whole story here

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On Gore Vidal's Birthday

When asked to think of a Rock 'n Roll writer the names that come to most people's minds are people like Ben Fong Torres; Cameron Crowe or Lester Bangs. Me, when I think of a Rock 'n Roll writer I tend to go in a different direction -- I focus on scribes whose written work has had the same affect on me as, say, Jimmy Page's solo in Led Zeppelin's "How Many More Times" or Coletranes round house glisses while running tandem with Don Cherry on "Cherryco" or maybe even Jimi Hendrix' solo during the live version of "Machine Gun" on the Band of Gypsies' Filmore West album...Bearing that in mind, a couple of my fave Rock 'n Roll writers are Hunter S. Thompson who did, in fact, pull a stint writing for Rolling Stone back when the magazine actually meant something to me. Thompson, the godfather of gonzo journalism, took off with the book "Hell's churned out articles, books, essays and letters that pulsed with life. Dude had a real penchant for kneading truth with his observations and biting humor that sometimes takes the reader down roads they'd rather not traverse -- ain't that one of the pillars that sustains the tabernacle of Rock 'n Roll? Like Mr. Mojo Risin' said -- you gotta "break on through to the other side...His gift for gonzo and tangential personal hijinks aside -- dude worked hard but he played even harder -- HST embraced the seeming futility of railing against the status quo on levels existential and physical; convictions are hardest to hold onto when they're inconveniently unpopular and nobody should be more aware of that than my next Rock 'n Roll Writer -- Gore Vidal.

I live by the credo: "two wrongs don't make a right but a whole bunch of wrongs make a great writer" and when I look back on all the shite that Gore Vidal's been through in his lifetime I gotta say -- rock on my brother from another mother. Today is Vidal's birthday, he's 81, and while some might not agree with all of his politics and life choices (I don't) I will still tip my hat and stand tall before the man becase as one who tries to chronicle his thoughts on the regular, I learned early on that it ain't easy -- this cat's been at it or decades and continues to do so. A year and some change back, during whatever political snafu was happening, I wrote a blog piece that pit the (then) wildly popular comedian " Dave Chapelle against Gore Vidal and will admit that though he's geriatric in body, in spirit Vidal still continues to keep on keepin' on and that, if not anything else, is a Rock 'n Roll writer, yo...