Blogs

Kanye West Collaborating with Takashi Murakami

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 10:26 PM EDT

mojo-photo-murakami.JPG First we hear Kanye is off to Sweden to perform with Peter Bjorn & John; now we get news that the hip-hop superstar is working with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami on the visual aspects of his upcoming album Graduation, out September 11th. Murakami has already designed two covers for the first two singles from Graduation, "Stronger" and "Can't Tell Me Nothin'" (see below). West met the "Japanese Warhol" on a recent trip to Japan, where he visited Murakami's Kaikai Kiki studios; photos from the visit are here on the Kaikai Kiki website (including a possibly NSFW glimpse of Hiropon, the girly anime sculpture). Apparently Murakami has also created an animated video to one of the tracks from the album. Artnet points out the rapper and the artist have something in common: a fascination with Louis Vuitton.

Cover artwork after the jump.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election Records Mysteriously Disappear Again

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 9:19 PM EDT

Exactly two years ago, Mark Crispin Miller, writing for Harper's, presented a highly detailed and shocking report of the presidential election shenanigans that took place in Ohio in 2004. There is no way anyone can read this collection of facts and still believe that the election in Ohio was honest. Everything from violation of Ohio's own election laws to destruction of ballots to intimidation of voters is clearly documented.

The news media, however, paid little attention to Miller's report, and the Democratic Party paid even less attention to it. Almost a year later, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a similar story for Rolling Stone, and for some reason, liberals paid more attention to that piece, in most cases, behaving as though the Miller story had never seen the light of day. But in no time at all, even the Kennedy story faded away.

Earlier this week, Steven Rosenfeld, writing for AlterNet, reports:

Two-thirds of Ohio counties have destroyed or lost their 2004 presidential ballots and related election records, according to letters from county election officials to the Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner.

The lost records violate Ohio law, which states federal election records must be kept for 22 months after Election Day, and a U.S. District Court order issued last September that the 2004 ballots be preserved while the court hears a civil rights lawsuit alleging voter suppression of African-American voters in Columbus.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell was sued in 2006 by a community organization in Columbus for allegedly conspiring to prevent African Americans from voting in the 2004 election. The current secretary of state is Jennifer Brunner, the woman who discovered the missing records in the spring.

Though it is unlikely that anyone will be able to prove that the records were intentionally destroyed, there has been a clear pattern of obstruction, evasion and lawlessness in the Ohio election Republican community. Possibly the worst part of this story, however, is that hardly anyone will even learn about the destroyed records, and even fewer will care.

Ozomatli: Diplomacy You Can Dance To

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 8:46 PM EDT

Ozomatli, the Los Angeles-based Latin-rock-funk band, is touring the world on the government's dime.

U.S. officials, who I'm sure are eager to present an image of an America different from the footage of soldiers fighting insurgents in Iraq, recently sent the Grammy-winning band to Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia on a U.S. State Department grant. Their trip included visits to orphanages, schools, and community centers. They also hosted master classes and music workshops.

A government-sponsored trip of diplomacy really does suit this funk band, which was founded 12 years ago—at a labor workers' protest—to promote issues of social justice and community involvement.

Ozomatli: Diplomacy You Can Dance To

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 8:33 PM EDT

Ozomatli, the Los Angeles-based Latin-rock-funk band, is touring the world on the government's dime.

U.S. officials, who I'm sure are eager to present an image of an America different from the footage of soldiers fighting insurgents in Iraq, recently sent the Grammy-winning band to Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia on a U.S. State Department grant. Their trip included visits to orphanages, schools, and community centers. They also hosted master classes and music workshops.

A government-sponsored trip of diplomacy really does suit this funk band, which was founded 12 years ago—at a labor workers' protest—to promote issues of social justice and community involvement.

Piracy Prevention Reaching New Heights

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 5:47 PM EDT

Illegal piracy has been around for quite some time, but alarm over the issue has increased dramatically with the rise in downloading and sharing capabilities. Students and young people are often targeted as the most likely culprits. It appears, though, that stern letters and a shaken finger from a parent or official aren't taking care of the situation, and some are taking the matter into their own hands.

One solution attempted by the film industry is that Los Angeles boy scouts are now able to earn a copyright patch by watching public service announcements about copyright violations, touring movie studios to find out how piracy can harm people, and identifying types of copyrighted works and ways they can be stolen.

And the government has their own scheme. Universities will soon have to submit annual reports to the U.S. Education Department on illegal downloading. Punishment for the worst offenders? Decreased government funding.

What ever happened to the days of a good old-fashioned fine?

—Anna Weggel

M.I.A. Track Review Correction: Hooray for Bollywood

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 3:53 PM EDT

mojo-photo-discodancer.jpgIn my recent rundown of the new M.I.A. album Kala, I said track four, "Jimmy," sounded like Boney M; turns out I was both way off and weirdly close. The track is in fact a spot-on cover of "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja," by Parvati Khan and Mithun Chakravarty, off the soundtrack to the 1982 Bollywood musical "Disco Dancer." Actually, it pretty much sounds like M.I.A. just sampled the whole song and sang over it. The reason it was confusing to me is probably because both this and Boney M were huge in Russia—er, the Soviet Union—back in the '80s and '90s. By the way, how weird is Russia's obsession with super-gay disco? Army of Lovers, anyone? That song was inescapable back in 1990 when I was studying over there, and it's basically like full-on trannies covering "Haveinu Shalom Alleihem." Seriously. Anyway, like most Bollywood stuff, "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja" is super super duper awesome, and you can buy it on iTunes, watch the video below, or grab an mp3 at Gorilla vs. Bear who tipped me off on all this.

"Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja" from "Disco Dancer"

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Questions for GOP YouTube Debate Not Friendly

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 1:32 PM EDT

Want to know why most of the Republican presidential candidates are ducking their scheduled YouTube debate? Just take a look at some of the questions they're getting. Brutal.

Body Blow to John Edwards: Unions Might Not Issue Endorsement

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 12:52 PM EDT

Bad news for Jedwards. Union leadership is "so happy" with the Democratic candidates for president that it might not endorse a contender in the primary, according to the NY Times. John Edwards, of course, has spent literally years courting organized labor in the hopes of getting its endorsement, which would be a huge boost for him in Iowa, where as many as one-third of Democratic caucusgoers come from union households, and elsewhere.

What's particularly sad is that poor Edwards hasn't done anything wrong. "There's a pretty strong sentiment across the labor movement for Edwards," said Steve Rosenthal, a former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. "But I think some unions are a little leery of endorsing him without more evidence that he can win."

Ouch. How's that for a catch-22? Edwards can't get the labor endorsement because he can't win, and he can't win without the labor endorsement. It's tough being number three.

Start Composing Your Own Background Music, Bar Owners

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 12:34 PM EDT

mojo-photo-ascap.JPGIn a move that says to the world, "no, of course we're not desperate and fearful, as our industry crumbles around us," music-licensing group ASCAP is now going after bars, clubs and restaurants that play any of the over 8 million songs by artists they represent without paying appropriate fees. ASCAP have apparently sued over two dozen venues recently who have failed to pay their royalties. Of course, legally, ASCAP is right: if I charge people $5 to come listen to the new U2 CD, it sure seems like that's money U2 should get. Since, you know, they need more money. But business owners often pay music services for chatter-free background tunes; is that different from just turning on the radio? Most amusing is this statement from Vincent Candilora, ASCAP senior vice president for licensing: "As long as it's [played] outside a direct circle of friends and family, it is considered a public performance." So, how many friends and family can I have before it's not considered a "direct circle?" We need friendship guidelines!

Tuesday is Music News-Day

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 9:14 PM EDT

mojo-photo-joannanewsom.JPG

  • San Francisco singer/harpist/folk heroine Joanna Newsom to perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall November 9th (NME)

  • 62-year-old Debbie Harry reveals her secret to eternal youth is, er, sheep embryos (Us Magazine)
  • Kanye West asks Swedish alt-popsters Peter Bjorn & John to be his backing band (Pitchfork)
  • Faith Hill decries fan crotch-grabbing of husband Tim McGraw (Yahoo! Music)
  • Ozzfest at Red Rocks erupts into cheap-seats-vs-reserved-seats class warfare (MyFox Colorado)