Tonight, Jews around the world celebrate the dawn of year 5770. Tomorrow night, a lucky few will get to rock out to "Hidden Melodies Revealed," a free, live remix of traditional cantoral music by an indie-rock dream team. 

Jewish religious music, like the religion, is notoriously change-averse, and very few have successfully introduced new tunes to the litergy. The Sway Machinery—consisting of members of Arcade Fire, Balkan Beat Box, Antibalas, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs—doesn't hope to do that, exactly, but the musicians are planning to introduce the crowd to a radical reimagining of High Holiday cantoral music. The supergroup chose Temple Emanu El in San Francisco, erstwhile home of famed singing rabbi Shlomo Carelbach, to reinvent the sacred music of the past, transforming a purely vocal tradition into a thumping, instrumental celebration of Judiasm's venerated back catalogue. Sway frontman Jeremiah Lockwood of Balkan Beat Box gave us the inside dirt. 

Mother Jones: Saturday is the second night of Rosh Hashanah. What's the significance of playing then?

Jeremiah Lockwood: It's the center of the spiritual cycle of the year. Rosh Hashanah is the big show for the cantor, the time they get to shine, and the whole community gets together. Growing up, my grandfather was a great cantor, and for the last 30 years of his career, he only sang for the High Holy Days. It always seemed to me to be the nexis of all the culture of cantoral music was going towards this one moment. Part of my musical concept for the band is that I was going to take this vocal music tradition and work with the melodies and create instrumental music and rhythmic accompaniment to it. 

Look, I'm no prude, and my Spanish is lacking, but I do get what "Hay Trampa!" means, and let's just say these grown-ups—captured in this video posted on YouTube-like site—won't make my list of potential babysitters. I'm not even sure this takes place in America. But still. Where is it okay to teach kids this young to get busy? I think the moment that struck me most is when one of the adult women presents her rear for the little boy to hump. The posting title, referring to the dance music, dissapprovingly asked: Esto es reggaeton?

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In India, women-only train cars have proved so popular that today eight more were added into service. Currently, there are female-only train cars in Chennai, Mumbai, Calcutta, and New Delhi in India, as well as in Cairo and at least a dozen other cities worldwide. In Japan, female-only cars have been running since 1912. Predictably, while women have had very positive reviews of the Ladies Special train cars, as they're known in India, some men are not happy. “Even on this train,” one female commuter told the New York Times, “men sometimes board and try to harass the women. Sometimes they openly say, Please close the Ladies Special."

While backlash is not surprising (especially considering the Ladies Specials are newer and cleaner and smell better than the other cars) it is problematic. The entire reason there are women-only cars are so that women can avoid being groped, propositioned, stared at, or sexually assaulted while in transit. The female-only trains do not educate potential gropers: it just separates them from a few of their potential victims, putting the responsibility on women not to get groped rather than on men not to do it in the first place. It reminds me of this excellent blog post on "Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work": namely, don't do it.

Reigning Sound
Love and Curses
In the Red

After backing Shangri-Las singer Mary Weiss on her 2007 comeback album on Norton Records, Reigning Sound is back with a new album of its own. It's the band's fourth studio album since 2001, and the relaxed, Southernly pace of their output matches the overall air of Love and Curses.

Frontman Greg Cartwright cut his teeth in the stalwart Memphis garage band the Oblivians. Twenty years on, his approach to music has evolved from taking old country, blues, and R&B numbers, blowing them to bits, and burying them in distortion to loving, nurturing them, and letting them breath. This applies to the numerous obscure '60s and '70s covers in the Reigning Sound oeuvre, as well as their own sweet tea-and-slaw songs.

First, Google announced a plan to help newspapers microcharge for online content. Now, it's launching a news aggregator, Fast Flip, that will share ad revenue with participating news organizations.

This is a momentous olive branch on the part of Google, considering the flak it got for not sharing revenue from its flagship Google News. It will be especially beneficial if Fast Flip, an appealing interface that allows users to "flip" through tailored news content, takes off. Said a Google spokesperson to the Nieman Journalism Lab

Google’s interest here is in trying to be a good partner to the news industry and to quality providers of news and try to frankly find ways to help publishers get more out of the web.

Google and the news industry, BFF? Stay tuned.


Jay-Z would like a moment of silence for Auto-Tune, the pitch-tweaking software that gave us basically every Billboard Hot 100 song since Summer 2007. On his latest album, The Blueprint III, the rapper heralds an end to the revamped vocoder and needles his contemporaries for "T-Paining too much." But is Auto-Tune really "D.O.A."? 

Hardly. In its most subtle form, Auto-Tune makes kinda okay singers sound like John Mayer; in its late-decade form, it makes everyone sound like T-Pain, a liability T-Pain himself has been quick to exploit. On Friday, he released "I Am T-Pain," an iPhone app that lets users Auto-Tune themselves in real time, on the go, for $2.99. It also conveniently bundles in several background tracks for karaoke emergencies. If you want proof that the "I am T-Pain" app is evil, look no further than this video review by CNet's Justin Yu:

If 1960s Cambodian pop revival doesn't sound like your cup of tea, maybe you just haven't heard the multi-culti rock group Dengue Fever, brainchild of brothers Zac and Ethan Holtzman, which has been making waves in the Los Angeles music scene. When Dengue came around recently to perform at Outside Lands, I sat down with Zac and lead singer Chhom Nimol to chat about vector-borne diseases, Long Beach's Little Phnom Penh, their genre-bending new album, and the revival of a musical style Pol Pot sought to wipe out. 

Mother Jones: Gotta ask, what's with the name? 

Zac Holtzman: When my brother was traveling in Cambodia, his traveling companion came down with dengue fever. When they were taking him to the hospital they were in this truck and driving on some crazy dirt roads. The music the driver was playing was a lot of old Cambodian tunes from the late '60s, the early '70s, the stuff we're all into—and that's how my brother heard it for the first time. So when we were thining of a name for the band he kind of went back to his sketchboook, and there it was. I heard it for the first time from my friend who was working at Aquarius Records here in San Francisco. I was playing it to my brother and he was like, 'Oh my god, these are all the same music as the tapes I collected when I was in Cambodia!' From there we were just like, we should form a band around this. 

MJ: How did you find a singer? 

Chhom Nimol: I was working at the Dragon House (a club in Long Beach). I worked there for three years, almost, and then I saw Zac and Ethan come; they wanted to talk to me and they ask me to be in their band. They needed a singer, and I said okay.

MJ: Is there a large Cambodian population in Long Beach? 

CN: About 50,000. In Oakland, Stockton, Boston, and Texas there are communities. But in Long Beach we call it Little Phnom Penh. 

This story first appeared at Alternet.

Shock jock Michael Savage, who is not prone to public shows of remorse, has been forced to apologize to progressive video production company Brave New Films after a take-down notice his syndicator sent to YouTube in 2008 resulted in the removal of all BNF's films from the site.

The company's YouTube complaint specifically targeted a Brave New Films video called "Michael Savage Hates Muslims." In the video a nice photo of Savage posing by the Golden Gate Bridge is overlaid with soundbites of the shock jock railing against Islam, Muslims and the Koran. "I can see what it says in their book of hate … make no mistake about it, the Koran is not a document of freedom. The Koran is a document of slavery and chattel!" screams Savage. Kind of hard to misrepresent his meaning.

Can Google save the newspaper industry?

That's the question being posed, now that the search giant has announced it's developing a platform to microcharge for online news content.

The plan promises a win-win scenario: The news industry finally profits online, while Google takes 30 percent off the top (much like Apple with iPhone apps).

Based on the (rough) outline, there's plenty to be excited about. The proposal involves a fee to access multiple sites, a clever way to assuage commitment issues. And Google is, after all, Google—an online behemoth with a ton of power to leverage.

The downside: Precedent. There has been scant luck with charging for content so far, so who's to know if anything will work? And getting the news industry on board may prove difficult, considering Google's contested aggregation practices.

But whether it pans out or not, it's good to hear that interesting ideas are being tossed around. Because if something isn't done to save quality, original reporting soon, we'll all be the worse for it.

Here in the Bay Area, we take our earthquake retrofitting seriously: Hence the Labor Day weekend closing of the Bay Bridge for a crucial step in the ongoing replacement of the eastern span, and the announcement last night that all 260,000 cars that use the bridge on a typical day would have to find other ways to commute this morning due to a newly discovered crack in a steel link. Given the new crack, I was expecting to have to forsake my usual cushy carpool ride from Berkeley to the Mother Jones office in downtown San Francisco for a long, crowded, and expensive train ride today, but when I woke up this morning I checked the news on the computer and, just like that, the bridge workers had beaten the odds and the bridge was operational. All it took was 70 hours of continuous work.

Too bad the print edition of the San Francisco Chronicle couldn't keep up with the news. Millions of people in the Bay Area woke up this morning wondering about the Bay Bridge and the area's largest daily, with a daily circulation of 312,408, got it wrong.

Ironically, I saw this in the newspaper box while waiting in the carpool line for a ride over the Bay Bridge. Ouch.