The Duhks (pronounced "ducks") have a style that's hard to classify: They describe it as a blend of "Gospel, Celtic, Old time, Zydeco, Country, Latin, French-Canadian and sheer Rock & Roll." Sure, the band was nominated for a Grammy in a country music category, but as anyone who has heard them knows, they're hardly boot-in-your-ass CMT stars.
Country or not, one label that applies is "green." As claw-hammer banjo adept Leonard Podolak explained to me after one recent show, even musicians need to pull their environmental weight if we're going to solve our society's sustainability problems.
To that end, the band—which spends 75 percent of their time on the road—has invested in a biodiesel van to reduce their environmental footprint. (Podolak acknowledges that biofuels are not a perfect solution, just the best they can do for now.) The band is also spreading their message through Green Duhks, their sustainability project. Environmentally-minded fans can join the "Flock" and support The Duhks Sustainability Project by purchasing a "very limited edition original art poster" printed with recovered ink on 100% recycled paper.
"We've forgotten what is sacred in this fast paced world," sings Sarah Dugas. "We take, and keep taking, without thinking of what we're given." It's true, and it's not just her sirenic voice that's got me convinced. Here's "Fast Paced World," the title track of The Duhks' latest album:
Allo, le Riff. I just got back from a quick little DJ tour of Canada, eh, and on this jaunt I had the opportunity to play in Montreal for the first time. Turns out Montreal isn't unlike San Francisco, strangely at odds with North America but not quite European, culturally vibrant but chock full of homeless, except there they ask for change in French. In addition to Paul's Boutique and tasty Portuguese grills, one of my happiest Montreal discoveries was CISM/89.3 FM, the radio station of l'Université de Montréal. I'm not sure why it was so good, exactly; perhaps its focus on musique en français works as a kind of limiting factor allowing a wider creative freedom within that zone, or maybe French music in general is just really awesome right now. But there was something uniquely Quebecois about CISM's playlist--with Paris obsessed with the latest fashions in dance music, CISM is a happily grungy alternative, shifting between soaring indie rock, wobbly dancehall, avant-garde electro and bouncy hip-hop. My French is terrible, but the DJs' Quebec accents are strong enough to be amusing even to the uninitiated, which is a little bonus bit of entertainment. Thankfully, the station is actually kind of professional, with some solid production and a good compressed sound. Moreover, if you don't catch the name of that last song, they include archived playlists on their website for your convenience. Of course I wouldn't be telling you this if they didn't have a high-quality online stream: go to their website and click "écouter en direct." Alternately, after the jump, check out some of the Quebecois artists I heard over the course of a couple days' listening.
Ghost Town (watch the trailer here) may not be original, but it is amusing. The romantic comedy starring Ricky Gervais (of Britain's "The Office") trails the life of an aloof dentist who can see dead people after a botched colonoscopy. Haunted by NYC ghosts pleading for help with their unfinished business, he proves heartless until the widow (Téa Leoni) of one cheating spirit (Greg Kinnear) perks up his otherwise lonely life.
The film clings to clichés and wastes screen time on some flat characters, but still manages to glide along on Gervais' dry, charming humor. Devoid of gore and messy back stories, the ghost story stays lighthearted, aside from a tearjerker montage near the end.
It is doubly shocking, then, when Gervais' character twice whips out racist humor that seems both unexplained and excessive. In the first instance, Leoni and Gervais are holding back giggles from her fuddy-duddy human rights lawyer boyfriend when Gervais peeps out that the Chinese are the only ones different from the rest of the human population. Refusing to stop there, he continues by mocking names like "Pong." Later he targets his Indian colleague for tips on how to torture a patient for information (after asking his religion, of course).
Gervais' character is selfish and socially-awkward, for sure, but the racial comments seem contrived and tossed in for cheap laughs. See the film yourself and let us know what you think about movies with racial implications.
Annoyed by non-believers micro-blogging their hourly moods, eating, and exercise habits?
Thank God, Gospelr just solved that messy societal problem for you. And what do you know, Christians are just as boring as everyone else.
A quick scan of Tweets on Gospelr, the Christian Twitter knockoff, reveals such minutiae as:
"I had an awesome night at the KPC men's group here in Rogers."
"Checking out Gospelr, I must say glad to finally be able to "follow" people who Follow Him. Greetings <3."
Jesustxtswithu's sentiment is, of course, the ostensible reason for the site to exist. But the thing about following people who follow Jesus is that, much like people who don't, they mostly post things like:
Sarah Silverman is so convinced Florida's Jewish vote will tip the election in Barack Obama's favor that she's joined a campaign called "The Great Schlep." The campaign pushes young Heebs to visit their grandparents in Florida and educate them about the Democratic candidate, thereby saving the country from another Broward County nightmare, a la 2000.
Silverman outlines all the reasons Jews should vote for Obama in the video below, including the fact that "Barack" means "lightning" in Hebrew, while "John" is just another word for toilet:
You gotta give it to Radiohead: they know how to use that internet. While other bands fret about file-sharing or unauthorized mashups and remixes, Thom Yorke and his merry bandits gave away 2007's In Rainbows for free, if you wanted, and happily sold the individual instrument tracks from the song "Nude" on iTunes a few months back so amateur remixers could have their way with them. Now they've done it again, with (in my opinion) a slightly more compelling track from In Rainbows, the haunting "Reckoner." The band have set up a "Reckoner Remix Project" web site where producers can upload their tracks and fans can listen and vote for their favorites. There doesn't appear to be any prize (other than the possibility Mr. Yorke himself might pop your mix onto his iPod) and the fine print makes it clear that Radiohead owns everything, always and forever, but it's still pretty interesting to see what people have come up with.
To a Miller Lite-drinking, displaced Ohioan like me, wine is wine. I enjoy it—the redder and drier the better—but I don't care if it's Cabernet, Merlot, or Pinot Noir.
But my fellow San Franciscans take their wine seriously enough that the vintners' label actually means something: The owner of a wine bar in the city says sales of "Palin," a Syrah, have plummeted since John McCain tapped Sarah Palin to be his running mate:
"It was our best selling wine before (the V.P. announcement)," said Chris Tavelli, owner of Yield Wine Bar, which has offered Palin Syrah, a certified organic wine from Chile, by the glass since July. But after Sen. John McCain tagged Sarah Palin as his running mate, sales of the wine with the conservative's inverted name plummeted.
Sure, the wine's name is ironic, but it's just wine; it's not as if naming it "Palin" turns it to moose blood.
I've always believed part of science fiction's power comes from its ability to offer both a narrative and a symbolic, fantastical metanarrative, that can either reinforce or supplant the apparent meaning of the narrative. Also, granted, I've been known to insist on, ah, somewhat sinister readings of current sci-fi hits, even when everybody thinks I'm nuts. But in discussing tonight's mildly-anticipated season premier of Heroes, Times writer Alessandra Stanley seemed to reveal more of her own personal issues than elucidate any metaphorical meaning. Basically, she wants those damn kids off her lawn. She has no sympathy for the super-power-endowed mutants, calling the show a "venting of [their] self-pity," and then makes a bit of a leap to those brain-searingly annoying spots for Freecreditreport.com:
I'm embarrassed to admit I even watched part of the Emmys telecast last night, though in my defense it just happened to be on during dinner, and I was flipping back and forth to Die Hard With a Vengeance, at least. The ceremony managed to exaggerate the most infuriating aspects of awards shows, extending the pointless blather and witless tributes while cutting off speeches after about three seconds. Apparently America agreed, as the broadcast achieved the lowest ratings in the history of the Emmys. Congratulations.
One of the few highlights of the show was waiting to see what sly (or not-so-sly) political reference would come next. There were quite a few, with winners and presenters perhaps inspired by the stultifying boredom of the rest of the ceremony. In any event, please welcome Party Ben to present the five nominees for best political commentary at the Emmys broadcast last night.
On his way out of the Tokyo G8 summit on climate change last July, President Bush famously punched the air and announced with his trademark grin, "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter!" At that moment Dubya could have been the mascot for Herve Kempf's How The Rich Are Destroying the Earth, a polemic about the world's wealthiest people, who treat global warming like an inconvenient joke.
The villains of Kempf's book are familiar: an oligarchy that consumes greedily and a capitalist system that inspires others to do the same. The rich insulate themselves from the environmental havoc they wreak, while the poor pay the price, with skyrocketing asthma rates and living quarters near dumps. Kempf, an environmental reporter for the French newspaper Le Monde, navigates this well-worn territory with confidence and clarity. But when it comes to making his main point—that the rich are singularly responsible for environmental downfall—his case falls apart.