Archive for June, 2005

Pre-trip post

Jun 28, 2005 in Music

Heading out tomorrow for a two-week trip to W. Virginia and NYC. To occupy myself during the long drives I’ll have to undertake, I’m in the process of downloading and burning as much music as I can. I was in the mood for something a little French, which led me to dig up these fine websites on 60’s French pop:

So far I’ve grabbed a 2 CD Serge Gainsbourg comp and a Francoise Hardy comp off the newsgroups. See my earlier post on Serge Gainsbourg here. Also, iFilm recently posted the infamous video of Serge telling Whitney Houston on live TV that he’d like to f*ck her.

Another “Dead” Mall

Jun 24, 2005 in Film

Yesterday’s post mentioned the Dixie Square Mall in suburban Chicago, a long-abandoned shopping center that was used for the destructive mall car chase in The Blues Brothers film, a year after the mall had closed for business.

Last night, IFC showed both of George Romero’s zombie classics, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. The original Dawn of the Dead was filmed at the Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh, PA. A few fansites uncover the history behind this location, including a 2003 tour of the mall by fans and cast members.

Much like the way that The Blues Brothers put Chicago on the moviemaking map, Romero’s zombie trilogy (and many of his other films) used Pittsburgh and other nearby locations extensively.

“We’re on a mission from God”

Jun 23, 2005 in Film

This week marks the 25th anniversary of The Blues Brothers movie — the first film to put Chicago on the cinema map and the second most popular SNL spinoff film that is not Wayne’s World.

The Chicago Sun Times is doing a five-day series of articles about the Blues Brothers film, its locations, stunts and historical importance to the city of Chicago. Today’s lead article is on the Dixie Square Mall, the long-abandoned suburban shopping center that was the site for the mall car chase scene. Dixie Square is likely the most famous decayed hulk of suburban retail architecture ever because of it.

AMC, which constantly shows The Blues Brothers movie anyhow, will be playing it next Monday at 8pm ET/PT.

The Downing Street Memos: Just another link in the chain

Jun 22, 2005 in Current Events

This past week, the infamous Downing Street Memos have finally started to get some serious attention from the mainstream media. Many news reports and opinion pieces dismiss the importance of the documents, stating that the memos’ revelations are “old news,” and that anyone paying attention would have come to the same conclusions already.

This may be true, but the elephant in the room that many people are ignoring is the sheer amount of evidence suggesting that Bush was planning an invasion of Iraq all along — even before he was elected into office. 9/11 and the war on terrorism provided the perfect opportunity to sell this war to a wary and vengeful public, and the White House purposely manipulated the intelligence to support their case for war. Several credible and high-level sources have already emerged to reveal Bush’s long-standing intentions:

  • Mickey Herskowitz, an author and journalist who was originally chosen to ghostwrite George W’s biography, recalls that as early as 1999, Bush told him that he was thinking about invading Iraq. Investigative journalist Russ Baker details these charges in this recent article.
  • In his book Against All Enemies, Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism chief under Clinton and Bush recalls that a discussion of Iraq came up at the first Security Council meeting — ten days after Bush took office, and eight months before 9/11. He further recalls that on the evening of 9/11, a discussion took place at the White House about Iraq — instead of al-Qaeda and Afghanistan. In a widely publicized incident from his book, Clarke recalls that the president took him aside and demanded he find a link between Iraq and 9/11. The report that Clarke produced as a result, which found no link between Iraq and 9/11, was rejected by the White House.
  • Paul O’Neill, Bush’s former Treasury Secretary, also substantiates the incidents of the first Security Council meeting where an impending invasion of Iraq was being discussed. O’Neill was the primary source behind the book The Price of Loyalty, written by former WSJ reporter Ron Susskind.
  • The Downing Street Memos are just another high-level source supporting the case that the White House was determined to push for the war in Iraq, despite the lack of strong evidence supporting it. The White House dropped the ball on al-Qaeda before 9/11 because of their insistance that Saddam was the real threat, and they diverted needed resources from the fight against terrorism afterwards with the war on Iraq.

    The right wing pushed for Clinton’s impeachment in 1999 because he received a blowjob from a White House intern. Somehow I think that deceiving Congress and the public about the case for the Iraq war is far worse. Untold thousands have died, our reputation with the rest of the world has declined to new lows, and our soldiers and tax dollars will be tied up in Iraq for years to come.

    Ruining Pet Sounds from the Congo

    Jun 18, 2005 in Music

    Konono No.1 is a Congolese street band extant for over 25 years now who recently recorded their first album for Belgian label Crammed Discs. Konono was discovered by producer and Congolese music afficionado Vincent Kelis, who recorded their debut Congotronics with a Mac G4 laptop at an outdoor session in the Congo city of Kinshasa.

    Konono No.1’s sound is a combination of traditional trance music and contemporary Congolese pop, but what makes their music truly exotic and extraordinary is the homemade amplification that lifts their traditional rhythms into the realm of experimental psychedelia.

    Using a collection of homemade and found instrumentation — including three likembe, or thumb pianos, and a variety of percussion including whistles, hubcaps and drums — Konono’s whirling dervish of rhythm is broadcast through a set of homemade microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers and electronics.

    Here is the band page on the Crammed Discs website. For a taste of the band in action, check out this amazing video, filmed at a street performance in Congo. Kelis wrote a letter to this blogger offering a little history behind how he discovered the band.

    Congotronics is available as an (expensive) import, but the album can easily be had through iTunes, Napster, eMusic or your favorite online music store.

    I was a little late to this party, but last month, the online label released a remix compilation of one of my favorite albums, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.

    Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds is a reimagining of one of pop’s greatest masterpieces by a collection of electronic artists. The results range from transcendent (”Don’t Talk”) to merely annoying (the 12-minute remix of “Here Today”).

    As is to be expected with things such as this, legal pressures forced the sites hosting the album to take it down. It has since found a new home at Banned Music, along with other quasi-illegal remix classics like the Grey Album.