Mixed Media

Dennis Kucinich's Deep Pockets

| Thu Oct. 18, 2007 6:34 PM EDT

Last week, Stephen Colbert revealed that pocket-sized Democrat Dennis Kucinich carries a lot of stuff in his pockets—a copy of the Constitution, a union card, a green tea bag, and—courtesy of a 2003 Mother Jones profile by Charles Bowden—a baseball card of Cleveland Indian Rocky Colavito and a quotation from Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. This week, Kucinich made a good-natured appearance on the Colbert Report, emptying his overtsuffed pockets, and even getting in a nice comeback:

Colbert: "This is the famous pocket Constitution. Did you shrink this down yourself?"

Kucinich: "No, no, no. George Bush already did that."

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Lights Out San Francisco

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 7:37 PM EDT

logo-dark.png Sydney led the way last March. San Francisco is going dark this Saturday night, October 20, from 8-9pm, to send a message on global warming:

Lights Out San Francisco is a citywide energy conservation event on Oct. 20, 2007. On this night, we invite the entire city of San Francisco to install one compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and turn off all non-essential lighting for one hour.

Word has it that both bridges and the Transamerica Pyramid are on board, and many restaurants will offer candlelight dining. There's also a great party going on in Dolores Park. Drop by. . .

But why just one CFL? And why wait for your city to catch on? Join in from afar.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Neato Viddys on the Intertubes: The B-52's

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 6:58 PM EDT

B-52s

Looking for tunes as part of a random "consulting" assignment led me to the B-52's today, reminding me how much I love them, although you really shouldn't need an excuse for that. Most people will know "Rock Lobster" and "Love Shack," but I was introduced to them by MTV after their 1986 album Bouncing off the Satellites (I was in the middle of Nebraska, how else was I supposed to have heard them?), so let's go backwards from there and look at some of their less-widely-known tracks.

Terror on the High Seas and the Future of Media

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 5:18 PM EDT

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Here's the update you've all been waiting for. New York media/celebrity gossip blog Gawker passes on a report that pirate attacks (yes) are up 14 percent this year. (Yes, pirates still exist. Now they have power boats and machine guns instead of corsairs and cannons. Yes, Mother Jones has covered pirates in the past. Basically, modern pirates are kind of like Dennis Kucinich: They might need to be taken more seriously, but they're just too amusing to really think critically about.) Anyway, is Nick Denton's Gawker the future of media? Old-media New York magazine investigates.

Has Rock Lost Its Soul?

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 8:30 PM EDT

Snoop vs. Axl
Photo collage by Adrian Roberts

Sasha Frere-Jones opens up the, erm, "race box" in this week's New Yorker with an extended piece lamenting the racial "re-sorting" of popular music. It's a dangerous topic, and he's to be commended for bringing it up, but I'm not sure where it's all going. Frere-Jones wrote an eye-opening (if slightly more specific) essay on the same theme a few years back; called "When Blackface Has No Face," it seemed to lament the lack of, well, current white "minstrels" (his word), or white artists playing music from traditionally black sources. He gives the examples of DJ Shadow and Diplo, both of whom were known for DJ sets celebrating black (and brown) music but solo albums full of "white signifiers" like electric guitars, sluggish tempos and dramatic strings. The current NYer article brings up Arcade Fire and Wilco, but the message is the same: white people are making really, really white music these days. It's an interesting question: why aren't there more white people making hip-hop?

Tuesday Spews Music News Day

| Tue Oct. 16, 2007 7:05 PM EDT

Newsy News

  • U2 are planning Ireland's first skyscraper, which they will call "The U2 Tower." The nearly 400-foot structure will be designed by Norman Foster; the band's new studios will occupy the building's peak. Doesn't this sound like a cartoon? Will they have superpowers? Presumably to help fund this venture, the band are releasing special 20th-anniversary editions of The Joshua Tree next month. That was 20 years ago? Ugh.

  • J Dilla fans are being asked to support Lupus research by joining the Alliance for Lupus Research's walkathons. The events, set to take place later this month in cities around the U.S., will feature "J Dilla Project teams." The ground-breaking hip-hop producer died from the disease in 2006.
  • Relive the magic that was Live Earth with a CD/DVD package out November 20th from Warner Brothers, and a digital version hitting the intertubes two weeks earlier. Free Nobel Prize with purchase.
  • Rapper Nas has caused a bit of a stir by announcing he will call his next album, ahem, Nigga. The LP is set for a December release. The New York artist told MTV he'd planned to use the title for his last album, but instead decided on Hip-Hop Is Dead.
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    Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things - 10/15/07

    | Mon Oct. 15, 2007 11:45 PM EDT

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    This week, French techno duos get silly, Joy Division gets the dub treatment, Beirut gets, uh, weird, and who likes Radiohead? Everybody likes Radiohead!

    10. Daft Punk & Various Artists – 10-Minute Louis Vuitton Fashion Show Score (Video below, audio at Discobelle)
    Where do they get the time for all this stuff? This stripped-down mix features rearranged Daft Punk hits as well as sly references to Kanye, Justice and Ratatat; it almost makes me kind of care about the silly fashions. What's next, Daft Punk score the Chili Cookoff?

    9. Justice – "D.A.N.C.E." (Live on Jimmy Kimmel, 10/9/07)
    In the biggest electro-prank since the KLF had a metal group perform for them at the BRIT awards in 1992, Justice thumb their nose at pseudo-live performances, standing off to the side of the stage as a variety of Hollywood Boulevard celebrity impersonators mime along to the song. Look, it's Stevie Wonder on drums!

    Jah Division8. Jah Division – "Heart and Soul" (mp3 at The Social Registry or listen at Jah Division's MySpace)
    Okay here's what a nerd I am: hearing this buzzy, dubby cover instantly reminded me that New Order and reggae have come together at least once before: on the phenomenal "silver" Peel Sessions EP, where they do an extended cover of Keith Hudson's "Turn the Heater On." Man, so good! I'll have to get an mp3 up of that next week. Anyway this is good too.

    Underworld7. Underworld – "Crocodile" (from Oblivion With Bells on Different Records)
    (mp3 from Are You Light Green)
    What a long strange trip it's been for the British electronic combo. After lineup (and life) changes, it's surprising to realize this is only their fifth studio album in their "Mark 2" incarnation. They used to excel at a kind of ecstatic, hands-in-the-air release, but times have changed, and now they're more thoughtful. "Crocodile" has their standard driving beat, but Karl Hyde's filtered vocals are melancholy: "All these things/In me," he sings, unable to name them.

    Cut Copy6. Cut Copy – "So Haunted" (from In Ghost Colours out in March, 2008 on Modular)
    (Stream at The Fader)
    Australia's Cut Copy made a great, underappreciated album in 2004, Bright Like Neon Love, whose fashionable cover helped it get lumped in with all the other minimal electro/rock of that heady year, but the surprisingly solid songwriting made it something special. Now they're back, and, jeez, kind of different. "Haunted," for its first 2/3, is a full-on rock song, making the sweeping electronic breakdown all the more exciting. Plus, major bonus points for use of the tinkling xylophone we heard on LCD Soundsystem's "Someone Great."

    Monday Music Blog Roundup

    | Mon Oct. 15, 2007 4:37 PM EDT

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  • My Old Kentucky Blog rounds up all the "Umbrella" covers. Tegan & Sara, Mandy Moore, Plain White Ts, Dresden Dolls? Check, check, check, check.
  • Diplo is "journaling" his DJ tour, and his adventures include drunken stage-falls in Baltimore, Russian bootleg CDs, and, apparently, hanging out in the Amazon with his dad.
  • Idolator finds a strong candidate for the "Worst Village Voice Media Music Writer" award. Ooh, it's so hard to choose!
  • Abba to Zappa ranks the Top Ten Right-Wing Rockers. Elvis, Ted Nugent, we knew about, but Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet?! I did not know this much is true-hoo-hoo.
  • Led Zeppelin to Be Available Digitally; Bulge Now Available in the Times

    | Mon Oct. 15, 2007 3:26 PM EDT

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    One of the last digital holdouts are finally giving up and joining Soulja Boy, Feist and Britney Spears in the exciting new world of online music sales, reports the New York Times. Led Zeppelin resisted digital sales for years, but a new set of contractual agreements with their label, Warner/Chappell, now includes downloads. Their catalog will be available on iTunes starting November 13th, but Verizon Wireless gets first dibs, somehow, with what the Times calls "mobile features" available starting this week. One can only hope those mobile features will include phone screen savers featuring the crotch bulge of Jimmy Page, which the Times apparently wanted to get in its hallowed pages so desperately they used a shot that the photographer couldn't even remember the date for.

    The Times has a couple choice quotes about the band; first, David Dorn, the senior vice president of Rhino Entertainment, gushes a bit optimistically about them, saying:

    "The great thing about this band, unlike almost any other band that you could think of, is that every single day there is a new 13-year-old kid who's just starting to get into music" and will discover the group.

    Call me crazy, but aren't 13-year-olds listening to High School Musical these days? Later in the article, the music supervisor for School of Rock boasts of licensing the band's music for the film, calling them "the holy sound of the temple of rock." Jeez, he's been spending a little too much time around Jack Black.

    Anyway, as we've covered here before, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin will reunite November 26 for a show in London; Jimmy Page promises two extra socks will be stuffed down his pants for the occasion.

    Friday? Have Some Pie and Music News Day

    | Fri Oct. 12, 2007 1:16 PM EDT

    Music News

  • Snoop Dogg will be picking up trash and cleaning toilets in an Orange County park as part of his sentence for weapons possession after trying to board a plane with a collapsible baton in his luggage. While Snoop was able to choose his community service option, he was restricted from any choices where he would be "glorified in the eyes of children," according to the district attorney.
  • Madonna is set to close a ginormous deal with concert promoter Live Nation, in what is being called the first agreement of its kind. The new contract, reportedly worth $120 million, includes payments for three albums as well as tours, and all of this is after she finishes out her contract at Warner, whom she still owes a new album and greatest-hits package. That's a lotta Madonna.
  • Portishead's irascible Geoff Barrow apparently disagrees with Radiohead's recent decision to allow flexible-priced downloads of their new album. He wrote on Portishead's website, "If you can get our album for nothing or very little, does that mean I can get my boiler fixed for free?" You're in Portishead, don't you get everything for free? He also revealed that the band are in the mixing stage of their long-awaited third album, and you'll get free plumbing with every copy.
  • Kanye West has announced he's been working on music with Michael Jackson, saying (somewhat defensively) to the London Sun that "If I like…what a person brings to the table then I'll speak to them," and then, one can assume, adding, "even if they're a creepy alleged child molester." Jackson recently sent a letter to his European fan club telling them to anticipate "exciting and surprising news." Like anything could surprise us at this point. You can bend spoons with your mind?