Hip-hop, Cuba, and a new book by Eugene Robinson titled Last Dance in Havana: The Final Days of Fidel and the Start of the New Cuban Revolution.
''I felt a lot of concurrence with what was going on in Cuba and with what was happening with music,'' Robinson said. The economic, political and social realities reflected in popular music form what Robinson calls ``the start of the new Cuban revolution.''
''I don't think hip-hop is going to overthrow the government,'' said Robinson. ``What hip-hop has said to the government on behalf of young people who participate in it is you've got to do better.''
''These people dance,'' writes Robinson, sharing in the amazement of many foreigners at the Cubans' incredible ability to shake it up. Robinson said he learned a few of his own moves during visits.
''I'm not that bad, but I'm not that good as your average person on the street in Cuba,'' said Robinson. ``If you didn't start learning this vocabulary of moves when you were three or four I don't think you'll ever speak the language that well.''
Web site alert: hitch up to the listening post
All folk, all the time, at folkalley
New book and website alert: Peter Blecha's Taboo Tunes
(check out the Taboo News for a steady stream of updates on music censorship)
Meanwhile, across the great water, the Centre for Political Song
continues news updates on music censorship (and, of course, freedom as it finds expression through music).
Talking about cultural criticism while talking about music:
Norman Kelley says, "Indeed, music for most market intellectuals is an afterthought, which they use as a means to an end, and that end is seldom about understanding the entire political, economic and cultural nexus of the various art forms that blacks have produced but have no real control over."
Norman Kelley also says (about the writings of some well-known culture critics), "What’s missing from these books is any sense that 'black culture' or 'soul' is defined by social, political and economic environments that came out of a basic folk culture, an ethos based on a 'structure of feeling' about a certain time and place in history."
Want to read more of Norman Kelley's "Black Cultural Criticism, Inc"
-- just jump from the link (then, follow the links in his article, too).
Uh-oh. July 14th came and went without my baking a cake and celebrating or even commenting it was Flaskaland's second year in the world of blogs. Before I pushed the key to transmit that first entry, I'd already read online forums determine that a weblog is not a "blog" unless:
1) the blogger is highly opionated or suffers from some advanced stage of verborrhea, which subjects the innocent and unsuspecting world at large to
2) regular posts, at least one a day.
On July 14 this year, flaskaland published post 720, which (when divided by two) means flaskaland has succeeded in supplying the requisite minimum number of posts.
To the many thousands of readers who have paused here to scan, (and yes, many thousands, or actually many many thousands because I just checked the sitemeter), this means you can rest assured you have indeed wasted your time reading a blog.
Why I like the Internet (pt. 30,243)
I get to stumble across writing I won't likely see anywhere else, that sometimes tells stories about people I've actually encountered when they were living and breathing and in the flesh. Just reading it feels similar to having a conversation with everyone.
Elijah Wald on Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller
(color photo of Jesse from back in the day)
Saturday Morning Matinee
The recently migrated Rock Critics Daily
reminded me I was at least a day behind in my reading, AND the good news is that Steve Rubio contributed a chapter to a new book: Post-Punk Cinema.
Narration Enhances Music Experience
"This disc also can be slid into your computer, where you can do something amazing and unexpected: As the sublime music is heard, you're able to follow along with the original manuscript, written in Mozart's hand (completed by a pupil after the composer's death)."
A brief history of the Sony Walkman
(only 25 years old this month!)
"Michael Schiffer, author of "The Portable Radio in American Life",
is an archeologist at the University of Arizona, and when he looks at something, he starts thinking about what happened before. He doesn't blame the Walkman for a decline of Western civilization. Not entirely. It was just another step, like the transistor radio, something he loved as a kid, in private, because it let him listen to Dodgers games when he was supposed to be sleeping. "The Walkman was critical in altering the rules of being with other people," Schiffer says. "People thought it was rude to listen to music in public. Now our standards have eroded to the route we've gone down with cell phones, which is to sanction rudeness. We are losing sociability."
(and now, the "NY IPOD
" -- An Observation During A Commute Hour)
Today, at mediabistro, DeRo Q&A on his new book, Kill Your Idols
(registration may be required, but it's worth it)
Reading between the lines,
a hometown fan thinks about why she can't read about Prince's hometown concert in the local hometown papers.
Lots and lots of online resources and other helpful tools in this site dedicated to magazine copy editing
“Old songs are more than tunes,” the playwright Ben Hecht said. “They are little houses in which our hearts once lived.”
(from "KING COLE" by JOHN LAHR
. The New Yorker music critic writes about the complex contradiction known to the rest of us as composer Cole Porter. Via Arts and Letters Daily
"A number of years ago, I was in the White House when a famous singer came to see the president of the United States. I watched as each of these extraordinarily powerful and famous men began to feel insecure around each other, clearly feeling like a nobody in comparison to the somebody they thought they were shaking hands with."
(Robert Fuller when talking about Rankism
Music critics talking about each other (music journalism seen from the inside out)
Two Hats: At times, the role of the 'critic' and the role of the 'creator' seem at odds.
(Back on May 17, after looking over 50 zillion entries, Michael Goldberg went down to the bottom and then back to the top and shared a polaroid of what it's like to be an editor.)
(Back on June 30, Rob Harvilla took a sharp look at Pitchfork.)
Rockin' around the world dept.
As Censorship Weakens, Kenyan Youth Culture Takes Off
(Hip-hop, sheng, and why some kids will continue on talking about things)
Meanwhile, across the world and just stepping out of the archives, an oldie is reconsidered:
Ed Cray's biography on Woody Guthrie deserves another look and listen
"As Cray reflected recently on his just-published biography, Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie
, he said he came to realize that he had something else going for him that perhaps previous biographers didn't.
'I was part of what Arlo - Woody's son - calls that great folk music scare of the 1950s,' quips Cray, a diminutive, whispy-haired man of 72."
(subscription may be required)
About biography, Washington Post's David Maraniss recently looked at The Places Beyond A Biographer's Reach
"A skilled biographer, acknowledging the limitations of his craft, once noted that nine-tenths of a human life remains essentially unknowable to an outsider. It is uncharted land, hidden from view, experienced only in the mind of the individual. The truth of that statement is apparent enough when you think about your own daily existence and all the things that run through your consciousness that you never tell anyone, not even those closest to you."
go gaga after a taste of Paste. "Finally a music magazine that is (gasp) about music and sometimes written by (ohmigod) musicians. Paste
is a bi-monthly music magazine that seeks to distribute 'signs of life in music in culture' to its readership."
(But about those music reviews ... "One thing about the music reviews; most of them are like legible blowjobs. Instead of the reviewers acting like groupies they should throw in some criticism in their criticizing.")
"A woman told me she went to visit an old bullfighter who now raised bulls. She had told him about Sketches of Spain. He said he didn't believe that an American--especially a black American--could make a record that demonstrated such a deep understanding of Spanish culture. She played it for him. When it was finished, he put on his bullfighting outfit and went out and fought a bull for the first time since he had retired. When she asked why, he said he had been so moved by the music that simply had to."
(via this morning's rockandrap
Jim DeRo on Idle Worship
, a new book where music critics essay about the small gods enshrined forevermore among the pantheon of greatest albums ever made. Though worshipped by others as eternal classics, the music on some of these albums or what the album came to signify did not instill the same level of belief in the critics. In fact, DeRo doesn't like Sgt. Pepper
at all and apparently never did. He'll share why with you here.
New Book Alert (from Daily Yomiuri Online
Words and Music
By Paul Morley
Bloomsbury, 7.99 pounds
For a whole generation of readers of the quasi-intellectual British music magazine New Musical Express (NME) in the late 1970s and early '80s, Paul Morley was either an icon of cool or a total "pseud" (pretentious fool) with his highbrow mixing of European philosophy and literature with the cheesiest of pop sensibilities. He obviously always fancied himself a serious author, and here he gets a chance to pontificate over 360 pages (many of them filled with lists), which mostly consist of him fantasizing over Kylie Minogue and dropping an infinite amount of names of records, only a very few of which you will have heard of, let alone heard. Time has not been too unkind to Paul Morley, whom most people would happily have strangled in his heyday. Nostalgia apart, he now seems a kind of institution, who defined the boundaries of music journalism, and who communicates infinite passion for consuming records
Driving your Blog past the mournful graveyard of cultural criticism (Keep your mind on your driving, and your hands on the wheel -- keep your dirty eyes on the road a-head ...). A discussion of blogs, public intellectuals, and, of course, a comment on the death of cultural criticism as we knew it ...
"The democratization of criticism -- as in the Amazon system of readers' evaluating books -- is a messy affair, as democracy must be. But the solution to the problems of criticism in the present are best not discovered in the musty basements of nostalgia and sentiment for the cultural criticism of a half-century gone. Rather the solution is to recognize, as John Dewey did almost a century ago, that the problems of democracy demand more democracy (against the corporatization of culture), less nostalgia for a golden age that never was, and a spirit of openness to what is new and invigorating in our culture."
(From The Chronicle, 7-2-04
via the mediabistro
The problem with hipness is that it can become terminally hip:
"Unfortunately, I think these reviews make many listeners feel like cultural outsiders. The reviewers sound as if they know and enjoy the music. Can't they convey that to the rest of us?"
A self-scrutiny of NPR's hip music criticism
(Why Music journalism and criticism should strive to add clarity and not another veil of opacity ... via the daily newsfeed at mediabistro