Word from a Fab Five Freddy tweet and a post on his own MySpace blog is that New York hip-hop futurist Rammellzee has passed away at age 50 from as-yet-unrevealed causes. (@149st features a great, fact-filled interview with the man.) Emerging as a teen graffiti artist in the mid-‘70s, bombing the A-train from its last stop in his Far Rockaway, Queens hometown, Rammell ended up like many of his talented peers—a multidisciplinary creative icon submerged in the nascent metropolitan hip-hop scene. He first surfaced as a persona to the world in amazing fashion, dressed in trenchcoat and wielding a sawed-off shotgun as he MC’ed for the Rock Steady Crew in the Amphitheatre scene of hip-hop’s famous first film, 1982’s Wild Style.
As you can see, London artist collective Liberate Tate were at it on Monday, letting the Tate Modern art museum know during their BP-feting summer party that taking sponsorship money from the oil giant is unacceptable. Don’t be misled by the occasional media reports of indignant Englanders bristling about the supposed anti-British nature of BP bashing. While we in the US have been driving around barely knowing what “BP” stands for, UK orgs like Art Not Oil have been working since 2004 to call attention to BP’s and Shell’s beneficent use of arts sponsorship to divert public attention away from their actual activities.
If your going to attack a city, I would suggest weapons & better tactics. I knew these guys were gonna attack 10 minutes before it happened…
Anyways, they didn’t like people taking photos & video. It was kind of too late only a few minutes into the protest, the year is 2010, and everybody has some sort of camera. One protester attacked me when I yelled “Do you think this burning car is going to change the world?”
I hope you at home are sane and human enough to see what they did to this city & what they put innocent people through is completely wrong. It was embarrassing for the City of Toronto and it was embarrassing for Canadians. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. I heard you guys smashed a Tim Hortons. If that isn’t crossing the line I don’t know what is.
Barbosa points out the extreme mediation of the event—“everybody has some sort of camera.” Although it can be useful in documenting and possibly preventing police abuse—which seems to have been somewhat the case since, say, Chicago ’68—it’s hard not to detect a bit of collective narcissism as well.
The wonderful Tracii Macgregor at Gargamel Music hepped me to this latest project put together by New York hip-hop DJ/producer/scene-vet Rich Medina. Like any device, the mash-up/remix can yield a good amount of garbage (Gaga vs. Bieber, etc.), unless the sources are well-chosen and assembled.
It hardly gets better than pop king Michael vs. Nigeria’s Afrofunk prez Fela Kuti—much has been made of how Fela and James Brown mutually influenced each other, so the R&B/Afrofunk connection is hardly a surprise. Medina’s put together 10 rounds of it for The King Meets the President in Africa, which is downloadable for free. Unfortunately, the videos below are uncredited—if Rich did these as well, I’d consider him even more of a badman talent than I already do.
Although Charles Manson had been interviewed on television from prison previously, the 1981 chat he had with Tom Snyder that was aired on the Tomorrow show 29 years ago tonight was the first he did outside of his cell. On review, it’s instructive in two ways.
Twenty-three years ago today, Fawn Hall became the most famous secretary in America. On June 8, 1987 Hall testified in the Iran-Contra hearings to helping her boss Lt. Col. Oliver North shred documents having to do with the affair, in which senior Reagan administration officials facilitated arm sales to Iran in order to fund the Nicaraguan contras.
Fawn Hall dated Contras politician Arturo Cruz, Jr. In one mishap, she transposed the digits of a Swiss bank account number, resulting in a contribution from the Sultan of Brunei to the Contras being lost. On November 25, 1986, she smuggled confidential papers out of her employer’s office hidden inside her leather boots…
Life after the hearings proved just as interesting for the late-20s Hall, who predictably pursued a modeling career and eventually met and married former post-Morrison Doors manager and archetypal L.A. music business maven Danny Sugerman. The Inside Edition clip below—hosted by a then-second-tier Bill O’Reilly—provides a snapshot of mid-‘90s tabloidism as the sordid strands of politics, drugs and entertainment tangle together deliciously. Sugerman later died of lung cancer in 2005 at age 50.
Over at Salon today, Glenn Greenwald has posted a terrific, take no prisoners rebuttal (more a demolition) to an article published in the NY Times about how the citizens of Pakistan harbor dark and paranoiac thoughts about the United States, and of course, Israel (and India). It’s a well-established fact that some absolutely insane conspiracy theories are widely believed by the Arab man in the street. Even elite media types—people who travel a lot for work—fall prey to and propagate such memes—like the long discredited anti-Semitic text Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was made into a TV mini-series in Egypt. Yes, it’s safe to conclude that utterly false, and quite unhelpful conspiracy theories about the USA are common currency in the Arab world… but… but what about the batshit crazy stuff Americans believe about the Middle East, Islam and Arabs?
Initially, it’s worth asking how these “conspiracy theories” compare to this: from the front page of The New York Times, September 8, 2002:
More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today. . . . In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. . . . An Iraqi defector said Mr. Hussein had also heightened his efforts to develop new types of chemical weapons. An Iraqi opposition leader also gave American officials a paper from Iranian intelligence indicating that Mr. Hussein has authorized regional commanders to use chemical and biological weapons to put down any Shiite Muslim resistance that might occur if the United States attacks.
He goes on to give example after example of mind-numbing misstatements of fact, fear of the other—and just plain awful reporting—all courtesy of America’s chattering classes, i.e. the folks who are supposed to be better informed than the public, the media elites.
It’s not hard to conclude that there are extreme misconceptions on both sides of the equation. If you watch, say, Al Jazeera in English (which is all we really have access to) it’s a pretty measured news organization, much more BBC than Fox News, that’s for sure. But look at our media here and the flouting of woefully misinformed—just fucking stupid—people like Sarah Palin as opinion makers. There was an article I came across just today about how the CIA was planning to make a phonied up video of Saddam Hussein screwing a little boy (before abandoning the idea because they realized it wouldn’t have the same taboo shock value over there as it would here!). I mean, this is the shit the CIA admits to! Is there any wonder at why the average Pakistani citizen would feel that the United States is the Great Satan and not trust us?
Paranoia? Or rational fear?
I highly suggest reading Glenn Greenwald’s entire piece, this is just a teaser for it.
Those irrational, misled, conspiratorial Muslims (Salon)
In conclusion, here’s a lovely bit of homegrown convoluted thinking… the maker of this video actually seems to believe in his heart that this man is a liberal plant at a Tea party! The Democrats sent him! Blame Obama! (To be clear, the guy is right to fuck with the idiot, but to call him a Democrat plant is quite a leap, I think you’ll agree! Can’t just be a conservative idiot, can he, he’s got to be a liberal plant? Or ACORN! WTF?)
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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