Toke up for the Mystery Tour: Wu-Tang Clan meets the Fab Four
02.02.2010
03:04 pm

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Music

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When Danger Mouse released “The Grey Album,” his notorious—and quite illegal—mashup of Beatles tunes and Jay-Z’s a cappella wordplay in 2004, EMI Records immediately issued a cease and desist order. The album became a cause célèbre, with “information wants to be free” types providing download links and seeding torrent files all over the Internet. Take that, EMI!

Cut to 2010 and the mashups genre has a pretty well-established presence on the Web and, well… yawn. Who cares, right? Most mashups are clunky ear-bleeders, better read about than listened to, the main joke being, “Hey, I remixed Patsy Cline with Black Sabbath” or whatever. Amusing? Kinda of, in a very last decade sort of way, but do you actually want to listen to it?

So we were surprised when a 28-year-old Englishman named Tom Caruana decided to take some Wu-Tang Clan raps and painstakingly construct a new mashup using Beatles samples on “Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers.” And what’s even more surprising than his flagrant flaunting of EMI’s copyrights is that the mashups are really good! If Wu-Tang’s resident geniuses ever decided to delve into the Beatles catalog instead of soul obscurities for inspiration, this is the album they might have come up with. While most mashups sound like Frankenstein monsters created in Pro Tools, this one sounds less like a mashup and more like an actual Wu-Tang Clan record that uses Beatles samples. You can hear the Beatles, clearly, in the mixes (as well as Beatles songs covered by orchestras and “easy listening” combos) but it’s more covert than overt in this case.

As La Stampa, the Italian newspaper has wryly reported, Caruana’s elaborate Wu-Tang/Beatles mashup has been downloaded three times faster than Ringo Starr’s new record has on iTunes. Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon has even mentioned the project with approval on his Twitter account.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Selleck Waterfall Sandwich
02.02.2010
01:24 pm

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Amusing

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Selleck Waterfall Sandwich (thx Bryan Collins !)

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Get Up Make Love
02.02.2010
12:37 pm

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Sex

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Check out this article I just wrote for h+ magazine on re-sexualizing space now that Obama has cut NASA’s budget to nothing.

I can’t say that I’m particularly surprised by Obama’s new plan to scarper plans of government-funded human space exploration. NASA’s till has been empty for decades—yet with this continued elimination of space agency funds for getting people into space, it feels like we’re letting go of something vitally important.

We weren’t supposed to just get up there to plant some flags and analyze some rocks, and then give up because we’d won the game of King of the Hill. What happened to the Great Dream?

It’s been twenty years since the Cold War ended. Now, in our global bureaucratic paper shuffle, it feels like we’ve lost some of the fight, the big project, the sense of having a goal. Now we’re drowning in our lack of motivation, bereft of that big vision of space that, for a small period of time, gave us a forward imperative, something inspiring enough to get our minds out of our collective crap, our business-as-usual-on-planet-Earth nonsense. Resource skirmishes, religious friction, global warming, and Obama just don’t really cut it in the same way the Space Race did; now, in the twenty-first century, it seems like we’re just coping and making do instead of pushing forward. We’ve taken a big step backward from “one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.” We lost interest because space isn’t sexy anymore—and that’s the problem right there.

(h+: Get Up Make Love)

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Corporate Cannibal
01.31.2010
07:57 pm

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Music

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Striking clip from Grace Jones’s Hurricane album from 2008.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Gerald Ford’s goofy TV commercials: “I’m feeling good about America”
01.31.2010
07:24 pm

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History
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“I’m feeling good about America.” No, not me, those are the lyrics to the jingle in this 1976 vintage Gerald Ford TV commercial. Can you imagine a major presidential campaign doing anything even remotely like this today?

Bonus clip: Pearl Bailey tries to explain, but never quite articulates, why she thinks people should vote for Gerald Ford. In the end, she settles for she likes him, so should you:

See more political TV commercials of olde at The Living Room Candidate. Thank you Timothy Stanley!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Philip K. Dick, an uneasy spy inside 1970s suburbia
01.31.2010
07:11 pm

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Books
Heroes
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Have you been keeping up with Scott Timberg’s excellent multi-part article about Philip K. Dick’s time spent in the most conservative county—that would be the O.C.—in America? From part 3:

Orange County, he wrote, was far to the south of us, an area so reactionary to us that in Berkeley it seemed like a phantom land, made of the mists of dire nightmare Orange County, which no one in Berkeley had ever actually seen, was the fantasy at the other end of the world, Berkeley opposite.

Kidding aside, there were certainly times when suburban SoCal, and life as a married father, didn’t satisfy him. I hadn’t realized before how [expletive] dumb and dull and futile and empty middle-class life is, he wrote in a 1975 letter. I have gone from the gutter (circa 1971) to the plastic container.

Dick’s supposed paranoia didn’t wane during these years: As often happened, the culture and American history caught up with him. Dick was fond of pointing out that the Watergate trials validated his obsession with conspiracy. Tessa, who is hoping to run for Congress as a Libertarian, says that his distrust of the government and fear of the police state increased during his decade in Southern California.

Lethem, editor of Dick’s Library of America volumes, called this a period where he seems less grounded in place. From the evidence of Dick’s work, Lethem said, it’s a time of very strong alienation from any real environment it’s about Disneyland, about condos where you park your car under the building, where you barely get to know your neighbors. It was about Nixon. It’s almost like Dick was a spy in Orange County a mole within the culture.

 
Philip K. Dick, an uneasy spy inside 1970s suburbia (Hero Complex/Los Angeles Times)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
No, I expect deflation, Mr. Bond
01.31.2010
06:59 pm

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Economy

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George Soros tells Davos summit gathering that gold is now “the ultimate,” most worrisome, of financial asset bubbles. Scarily-accurate stock analyst Robert Prechter believes that if deflation takes hold, then gold could see a breathtaking 40% drop in value. This will not be a good thing. Not at all.

Earlier this week Robert Prechter of Elliott Wave told CNBC that this is perhaps the last chance to get out of stocks with the DJIA in quintuple digits. He also believes that stocks will fall below the March 2009 lows.  Prechter believes that if deflation comes, gold could see a 40% drop from its peak.  He feels gold is overbought and starting a new bear move there anyway.

George Soros called gold the ultimate bubble in Davos.  The billionaire said specifically that gold was in the midst of the ultimate bubble and that with low-interest rates the world financial policymakers are running a risk of making new bubbles .  He even noted that when rates are low there are conditions for asset bubbles to form, and he said these are in development now.  Soros said, The ultimate asset bubble is gold.

 
Soros & Prechter: A Gold Bubble Ripe To Burst? (24/7 Wall Street)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hidden Dimensions: Alien implants and conspiracy theories in Burbank
01.31.2010
06:20 pm

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Belief
Kooks
Science/Tech

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Do space aliens “tag” us with implants the same way we microchip our beloved pets? Are we their pets?

The jury’s still out on that front, but if you are an Angeleno and suspect you’ve got an alien implant, then next weekend, at the Pickwick Gardens in Burbank, Dr. Roger Leir, M.D., a SoCal-based podiatrist, well-known to UFOlogists, George Noory fans and Fortean-types will be on hand to help.

Leir no longer feels the need to debate the existence of UFOs; it’s the implants he’s more concerned about, considering them proof positive of the alien reality. What Leir’s research wants to get to the bottom of is, what are their motives? What are their plans for us? And how the heck did those otherworldly implants get there in the first place?

Also appearing at the event is conspiracy theorist Jordan Maxwell, a fellow who describes himself as “a preeminent researcher and speaker in the fields of secret societies, occult philosophies, and UFOlogy since 1959.” Maxwell is scheduled to lecture about “The Hidden Dimensions in World Affairs.”

The tinfoil-hat brigade should be out in force at the event, which will be hosted by Noory himself. A lil’ zany? Perhaps, but something tells us that the people-watching will be very interesting.

The Hidden Dimensions in World Affairs event, Feb. 7, 2 to 9 p.m. (doors open at noon), Pickwick Gardens, 1001 Riverside Drive, Burbank. $50

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The rise of Taqwacore: from parking lots to Park City
01.31.2010
06:01 pm

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Belief
Music
Pop Culture
Punk

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Just when you think there are no new surprises coming out of the underground, something like the Taqwacore movement arrives, a fictional Islamic punk rock subculture that has become a REAL Islamic punk rock movement. Melissa Henderson writes at Brand X:

Originally imagined as a fictional world of living on the edge, Muslim punk rockers in Michael Muhammad Knight’s 2003 novel, “The Taqwacores”, Taqwacore has since evolved into an honest-to-goodness, real-life, fight-the-power scene, replete with young and charismatic activists, artists and Punk the only appropriate soundtrack to any decent rebellion.

Groups like the Chicago doom-crust band Al-Thawra and Boston-based ska-punkers the Kominas are rapidly gaining attention, as evidenced by August’s Los Angeles Times feature. Omar Majeed’s documentary about the subculture, Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, made Spin magazine’s Best Music Documentary list of 2009, and “The Taqwacores”, Eyad Zahra’s feature film adaptation of the novel, premiered this week as an official competitor at the Sundance Film Festival. (For more on that, check out the post at the LA Times 24 Frames blog).

Knight, a Rochester, N.Y., native who converted to Islam in his teens and then struggled with an inability to reconcile his faith with his inner Punk, coined the book’s title from the Arabic word “Taqwa,” which means piety or God-fearing, and hardcore, a subgenre of late-70s punk rock. The novel, which he handed out for free in parking lots before finding a publisher in 2004, resonated so strongly with young Muslims dissatisfied with traditionalists in their own communities and cliches foisted on them by outsiders that it became something of a manifesto.

 
READ MORE: The rise of Taqwacore: from parking lots to Park City (Brand X)
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Trippy Mister Rogers Video Collage
01.31.2010
03:33 pm

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Amusing

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Won’t you be my “special friend?”
 
Also see: Proof Mister Rogers is a Blood

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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