Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Palestinian Holocaust?

This BBC article today make me sick to my stomach. The key excerpt:

[Israeli deputy defense minister] Matan Vilnai said Palestinians risked a “shoah”, the Hebrew word for a big disaster – and for the Nazi Holocaust.

Mr Vilnai said Israel would use all its might to defend itself, after rockets hit the city of Ashkelon, 10km (six miles) from Gaza.

The Iranian-made rockets are said to have a range of about 22km (14 miles)

Yeah you read that right. Israel’s defense department just threatened a holocaust on Gaza citizens. Oh, the circle of life. I’m going to stop myself now from writing some scathing things about the Israeli occupation, actually; I just hope this doesn’t escalate (Iran).

Do yourself a favor and download some Sheva (warning: audio plays automatically). Sheva are a new-age Israeli band that just drip with peace and love (that, and didgeridooes!). The song ‘Salaam‘ is a great starting point. It’s an epic song about peace (actually, they just repeat the refrain peace in the world) completely sung in Arabic!

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?

This is fucking hilarious:

I caught this as I was searching through versions of the song to possibly use in the April Drag Show and my shit immediately! On a [more redacted] note, I attempted to purchase the Dana Fuchs adaptation of this song (from 2007’s ‘Across the Universe’) from Amazon Mp3 and couldn’t find it. Guess what? iTunes had it…

The Music Illusion

Five sweet auditory illusions from New Scientist.  Fun times, I got stung by them!

New Scientist magazine this month is running an excellent series on music and (obviously) the science behind it.  Fascinating stuff, really.  The cover story (‘The Music Illusion’) is penned by Daniel Levitin–a long-time music producer who’s worked with some of the greatest rock acts since the 70s (including Dylan and The Band).  His article is a distilled version of his awesome book ‘This Is Your Brain On Music,’ which I’m currently finishing.  He now approaches music, having worked in the producing and mixing field for years, as an academic, and more specifically, an evolutionary psychologist (read Wired’s related story from last year here).  And man, he get into the nitty-gritty of not just ‘music’ as a cultural production, but how individual pitch vibrations are intercepted by the ear and distributed throughout the brain, giving rise to emotions and behavior.

By better understanding what music is and where it comes from, we may be able to better understand our motives, fears, desires, memories, and even communication in the broadest sense.  Is music listening more along the lines of eating when you’re hungry, and thus, satisfying an urge?  Or is it more like seeing a beautiful sunset or getting a backrub, which triggers sensory pleasure systems in the brain?… This is the story of how brains and music co-evolved–what music can teach us about the brain, what the brain can teach us about music, and what both can teach us about ourselves.

Good eats, guys.  Check it out.

Also, after talking with a political science professor friend of mine Monday, she suggested I read some George Lipsitz.  He’s a professor of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz (as well as being part of the Black Studies faculty at UC Santa Barbara) and last year published ‘Footsteps In The Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music.’  I just scored the book yesterday, but so far, it’s an amazing collection of the genealogies and migratory patterns of the musical influences heard in many bands and genres.  I approached with caution because I’m aware Lipsitz’s framework is based on essentialisms of cultures (actually, ‘anti-essentialisms’, but it rallies the same origins of the arguments, hence giving them a passive credence), but I’m definitely impressed by his sonic mapping skills thus far.  A gem in the first section of the book about boy bands:

Of course there are plenty of reasons to dislike boy bands.  Every aspect of their identities–from the physical features of group members to the songs they sing to the answers they give in interviews–is scripted and carefully coordinated on the basis of market research.  They are never original, innovative, or unpredictable.  In their stage personas and song lyrics, the boy bands succeed because they hint at the provocation of erotic desire only to contain it by presenting themselves ultimately as adolescent, innocent, wholesome, and cute, simply longing for longing rather than for love or lust.  Their celebrity status seems to reduce the dignity of their fans, enlisting them as spectators and admirers of boys they do not know, apparently for the simple reason that other girls have focused on the band members as objects of desire.

As opposed to, say, musicians.  My sentiments exactly.  Wow, so two of the three posts on this blog so far have bitched about crappy consumerist record labels (thanks Jive)… I promise more love in the future!


Reuters reports today that iTunes surpassed Target and Best Buy to officially become Number Two in US music sales, second only to Wal-Mart.  What does it reflect about American consumerism when the most often-sought sellers of music notoriously censor both the content and playability of that music?  Apple remains steadfastly married to its low-fidelity downloads crippled by digital regulations, forcing the buyer to play songs only on Apple products and blurring the line between what is means to ‘purchase’ a product versus ‘renting’ it (the latter more accurately reflects iTunes in my opinion).  In addition, Wal-Mart continuously panders to social lobbyists, forcing artists and labels to alter the content of an album in order to meet its moral standards or risk having it removed from the shelves completely.

Never thought I’d say this about a box-box retailer, but thank you  As an avid music acquirer, if I cannot locate a song I want through other nefarious sources (Russian pay-per sites, or P2P networks), I have no qualms purchasing the song through Amazon’s incredibly easy (and totally high-fidelity; sometimes nearly CD-quality) MP3 store.  It’s less expensive than iTunes, free of digital restrictions, allows nearly all of its songs available a-la-carte, and hosts the largest library of songs (over 3 million) available anywhere on planet Earth.  I’m sold, are you?

Patriotism: The Torture Playlist

I figure this is a good starting point for this blog; it integrates both music and the politics of war:

Mother Jones has an interesting run-down of the songs played by US guards and interrogators while torturing inmates captive in US military prisons. According to the author, Justine Sharrock, the playlist is based upon a

‘ leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees’


Yes. The Meow Mix song, the Bee Gees, Niel Diamond and David Gray are all indeed torturous songs. Personally (were I masochistic enough), I would have included some Fall Out Boy, Miley Cyrus, or really anything released by Jive Records after 1991.

Saying that, we’ll see is Bruce or Metallica are disgusted enough by this information to sue the DOD for copyright infringement. After all, I doubt even Don McLean licensed his all-American jig to harmonize with the muffled screams of those humans we deem ‘enemies’.