Friday, March 28, 2008

Dutty Dutty

On Wayneandwax, Wayne details the good news that he spoke on what would have been an amazing panel. He also mentions the phenomenon of the "titty wine"--clearly a play on the "dutty wine". Whereas doing the dutty wine isolates the ass and the hips, the titty wine isolates exactly what you'd think. So one's about the A and the other is about the T.

I'd be interested in what Sonjah Stanley Niaah would have to say about this new dance...

Also, in Donna Hope's Inna di Dancehall, she describes the phenomenon of "buffer zone" contests in Jamaica where women compete for nether-region notoriety (sorry, couldn't think of a better way to put it). One of the Kingston newspapers had (and maybe they still do--a few minutes of searching can't seem to locate it) a weekly spread of "buffer zones". It's a bit of a change from the page-3 girls I've grown up with!

Of all the dancehall queens I have seen, none (I suppose until recently), has really spent that much time drawing attention to her chest--there's much more emphasis on other areas, including the aforementioned buffer zone. Sure the titty wine is different, and dancehall queens are always looking for something different...but as a dance, aren't there any other options than doing what looks like breast self examination?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pantsula for Life

The Masala boys were nice enough to put up with my blathering French on the radio this past Saturday. They played a whole bunch of wicked stuff--quite a melange, but that's what they're best at. I put together a mix of my favourite kwaito tracks. This month's Fader is their "Africa Issue". In it there is a piece on suggests exactly what I noticed when in Durban this past summer--that house music has very much become the soundtrack of South Africa. Hence, my kwaito selection is not exactly up to the time--but it's still a series of what I consider to be spectacular tunes. Listen and subscribe here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I want money for cookies

A public petition, signed by Canadian residents and addressed to the House of Commons, the Government of Canada, a Minister of the Crown or a Member of the House of Commons, is one of the most direct means for people to communicate with Parliament.
Last night, dearest Julie came over for dinner. We started discussing the existence of direct democracy in Canada, as two fashionable urbanites are wont to do. The topic was that of petitions--how a citizen can present a petition to the government. Thing is, anyone can present a petition, so long as it is in a proper format. All you need are 25 signatures.

Yes, there are certain other restrictions. You can't petition for anything if it could be handled by any other level of government or judicial body, but you CAN petition for the expenditure of public funds.

This started me thinking. What kinds of petitions are actually read? Perusing the Hansards suggests that there are tons of people "communicating with Parliament" (four petitions were read last Friday, for instance), though I don't really understand what the governments response to these petitions actually is. The house sets aside an hour and fifteen minutes a week for the reading of petitions-- 15 minutes at 3:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, 15 minutes at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 15 minutes, beginning at 12:00 noon on Fridays. As per our Parliament's procedural services website:

"When presenting a petition, no debate is permitted. A Member may make a brief factual statement, referring to the petition being duly certified, to its source, to the subject matter of the petition and its request, and the number of signatures it carries. Petitions are not to be read in their entirety. The statement is reproduced in Hansard, the official record of the debates, and a record of the petition appears in the Journals for that day."

Ok, so I write a petition for who knows what, I give it to my MP, they read it out to the Parliament and then what? It's just part of the "Routine Proceedings" of Parliament. I'd like to know how many petitions have had any impact. Where would I find out this info? I don't want to think this stuff is totally futile and symbolic.

Monday, March 24, 2008

There must be an angel

Because, if not, Ron C wouldn't have done this (Thanks to Dave):
"You're Beautiful"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just like heaven...

The Dears were a bit of a stand in for the lack of new Smiths material (or, more specifically, the lack of new old Smiths material--if that makes any sense). I've been wondering what it is about the Black Kids that I like, and as their new video (with new, fancy recording of "I'm not going to teach your boyfriend how to dance with you") demonstrates, I think it's that the Black Kids serve the same purpose, except this time they're resurrecting the Cure. It's as if Head on the Door-era Robert Smith is "do do do do do do do dooh"-ing it up on this tune. Nice.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lazer Frere-Jones

I have been promising to tell you about "lazer bass” (my own dumb term) for a while now.
So the New Yorker/SFJ has written about the lazer-guided melodies coming out of Montreal--specifically those of the folks I wrote about last month in the Mirror, though I already linked to that below, so doing it here is probably overkill.

I'm happy these guys are getting some shine--and from the New Yorker, no less. I had been thinking about writing more about the whole interconnected fun that is what Megasoid, Blingmod, Lunice, Mofomatronix and co. come up with. It really is terribly enjoyable music and there's a lot of Montreal in it. I wanted to write a response to Louis Pattison's piece "Electro feels the shock of the old" where he states that if you "look to the new innovations in electronic and dance music in the last couple of years, and they, too, seem curiously retrogressive."

Maybe it's just me, but I do see something a little new in the stuff that's being created here in Montreal, down in California and across the pond in Scotland (and probably in other places where there's access to the internet and an interest in bass-heavy dance music).
When talking to the boys behind Turbo Crunk, the monthly celebration of lazer fun here in Montreal, I said that I thought this stuff was the anti-dubstep. Now, I've been told that bassline is the anti-dubstep--where dubstep is boy music, bassline is girl music. I see bassline as being much more heterosexual-it's-dark-let's-dance-sexy-and-hook-up music, but I see what Sasha Frere-Jones calls "lazer bass" as being an antidote to dubstep in a much different way.

Sure, dubstep draws a very male crowd. Having being to FWD a coupla times, I can testify to this fact. Thing is, I think that what's more emblematic about dubstep is its earnestness. It's no surprise that Burial, who may not sound like a lot of dubstep, comes out of this scene. Burial's stuff simply matches other dubstep where this earnest factor is concerned. "Lazer bass" (I might as well use the term) seems to be able to balance this factor with terrific fun and almost self-mockery--if you don't believe me, check Blingmod's costumes and Lunice's myspace videos. SFJ says this stuff combines hyphy, Autechre, and Timbaland--among others. But it's not pretentious. There is no pretense of this being some "scene" to end all scenes. If music like this took off in London, they'd be calling it a movement. In Montreal, it's just damn good fun.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pmanny: Drop Out

"Will Hutton, author of The State We're in and chief executive of The Work Foundation describes the private school/Oxbridge system as 'a secure passport to the upper echelons of British life for which the entry ticket is cash'. And, even if you gatecrash it, or hitch a free ride on the tails of a state-school education, it's still wrong. Britain has the worst levels of social mobility of any country it's possible to measure. And key to that stasis, to the maintenance of the status quo, to a diminution of opportunity for 93 per cent of the population, is Oxbridge."
I watch a ton of British documentary television and read a ton of British press. There's a little piece of me that wishes I were a part of all of it--I remember perusing the "training schemes" at the BBC while I was toiling away at a rather undesirable publishing job (one of my main responsibilities was choosing photos of celebrities for hack-penned bios--I've seen more of Mariah Carey than anyone ever needs to). They seemed like such great opportunities--but, much like my dream of an internship at Harper's, the obstacle was cash. Reading Carole Cadwalladr's piece about the remaining power of the Oxbridge elite demonstrates that entering journalism or broadcasting (among other professions) demands cash not only to support one's self through a six-month unpaid internship, but cash to support a private education throughout one's life.
I have come to learn this over the past little while. Every time I read a particularly interesting article or watch a particularly interesting documentary, I have done a wee search on Wikipedia only to come to the same conclusion as Cadwalladr. Everyone whose anyone seems to have gone to the same bloody two schools. I suppose this is an open secret (and an annoying one) to Britons, but for me, as much as my Wikipedia searches kept confirming the real and true reality of the Oxbridge influence, I kept hoping it wasn't the case. Of course, this reality doesn't make me like Louis Theroux any less, but it does make me cheer somewhat for Charlie Brooker and Dawn Porter (even though Ms. Porter was private-school educated, though she did attend theatre school in Liverpool).
What's weird is that I have absolutely no idea where my favourite Canadian journalists and broadcasters were educated. A quick look shows that Stombo went to Humber College, Avi Lewis to University of Toronto (but attended prestigious boy's school Upper Canada College), Carole MacNeil to the University of New Brunswick, Evan Solomon to McGill, Christie Blatchford to Ryerson, and the great Peter Mansbridge dropped out of high school. If 45% of all British journalists of note attended Oxbridge, my small Canuck sample demonstrates that within Canada this is not the case--yes, McGill and U of T are good schools, but they hardly hold the weight that a degree from a place like Cambridge apparently does.
I suppose I would have to check the educational backgrounds of lawyers, corporate titans and legislators to really see--I am sure that posh private education and prestigious post-secondary study does open doors for Canadians, but the incredible sway two universities have over the media in Britain is just overwhelming. So overwhelming that I missed CBC Sunday, presided over by two public-schooled folk. I'll make a point of watching CBC's flagship newscast this evening, taking great pride in our high-school drop out anchor.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"The life of kings"

On Sunday night, I watched the series finale of a program that took me a long time to get to know, but then wouldn't let me go until I'd seen every last minute of it. This show, of course, is The Wire. I've read a whole ton of different takes on the series finale, and I sit on the side of the underwhelmed who were upset at David Simon's no-so-subtle attack on his former employers, the Baltimore Sun. Unlike the compelling portrayal of the education system in the fourth season (reflecting fellow Wire creator Ed Burns's post-po-leece work profession), the depiction of the fourth estate in the fifth season felt like, well, it had been written by Scott Templeton. Essentially writing himself into the story (watch the finale closely), Simon's newsmen (and the were mostly men--but we'll get to the girls in a later post) felt exaggerated--too perfectly bad, too gleamingly good. There was no nuance, no complexity, no moment of ambiguity, as when McNulty, in the last episode of season three, asks "Who was I chasing?" after taking a look through String's book collection. It was tough to know just how to feel about Stringer--and McNulty. But we were told just exactly how we should feel about the angels and devils at the Baltimore Sun.