Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show -- Episode 28: Troy Davis Blues

I was down at the Supreme Court holding a candle last week as "Justice" Clarence Thomas decided to let Georgia go ahead and murder Troy Davis. I've been trying to articulate my thoughts on the matter since but have failed so far. For now, this blues-oriented podcast will have to do. Please give it a listen. I think a lot of you will enjoy.

Cassandra Wilson - Strange Fruit
Nina Simone - Backlash Blues
Elvin Bishop - What the Hell Is Going On
Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy
Roebuck "Pops" Staples - Black Boy
Solomon Burke - Proud Mary
Rodriguez - Rich Folks Hoax
John Lee Hooker - The Waterfront
Robert Pete Williams - Pardon Denied Again
Son House - John the Revelator
Big Bill Broonzy - Black, Brown and White
T-Bone Walker - Left Home When I Was a Kid
Elmore James - Rollin' and Tumblin'
Little Walter - It's Too Late Brother
Sonny Boy Williamson - Fattening Frogs for Snakes
BB King - Chains and Things
Pigmeat Markham - Here Comes the Judge
Alan Lomax Collection - Early in the Mornin'
Oscar Brown, Jr. - Brother, Where Are You?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Quick Question on Racial Representation

Less than 1 million black men today are festering in America's prisons. There are over 15 million black men who are not. Yet, so much of our music speaks of violence, drug use, and criminality.

Publishers claim that over 80 percent of books published by African-American authors are categorized as "ghetto lit"--which, of course, also speaks of violence, drug use, and criminality. Yet, according to 2010 census data, only 30 percent of the African-American population lives in predominantly minority-majority (not even majority black) neighborhoods.

I've been wondering of late, why then is our culture--dominated by the Sonys, Random Houses, Clear Channels, Def Jams, and BETs of the world--so terribly unrepresentative of its African-American audience?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show -- Episode 27: No Effin Clue

I'll admit it, I'm feeling a bit weird today. Yesterday, I was happy for the end of the Clintonian sell-out Don't Ask/Don't Tell, but I've been even more disheartened by Georgia's decision to execute Troy Davis. I'm not particularly surprised. The one thing I've learned about our justice system is that they'd rather keep someone falsely imprisoned or put an innocent man to death than ever admit a mistake. Nevertheless, I spent yesterday morning every official in Georgia I possibly could to register my dissent. A whole lotta good it'll do. In America, the barbarians are not at the gate. They hold the fucking keys.

Aside from that, in my quest to become an amateur historian, I've been reading about slavery a lot. Never a recipe for happy times.

So, I was pretty much at a loss as to what to play for this week's Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show. I hope you enjoy:

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Random Thought on Race

The world wasn't even aware of the concept of "race" until after Nathaniel Bacon gathered a bunch of black and white indentured servants of slaves to fight their master in 1676.  After Bacon's Rebellion was quashed you start seeing "race"-based treatment. Indentured servitude (which was supposed to be for five to seven years but could last indefinitely) is ended for Europeans. The decision is made to finally make slavery a lifelong "occupation" for Africans and their offspring. And the Virginia House of Burgesses forces every white male in the colony to participate in regular slave hunting parties.

In other words, to base any of your assumptions, convictions, whatever--whether negatively or positively--upon "race" is to fall for the oldest trick in the slavemaster's book.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Obama's Rule" -- Another GOP Lie

For the past few years, I've been noticing a disturbing political trend. It's not just the political rancor and the huge divide in what constitutes in this country as "The Right" and "The Left." It's that we've been so divided that it's no longer a matter of disagreement on our interpretations of reality. We are now actually disagreeing on the facts that constitute said reality.

In my limited contact with some of those on the Right and self-proclaimed Tea Party members, I've sometimes wondered, Where the hell did you come up with that? Despite what some who know me may think, I readily admit that I don't know everything. However, I am a mild political junkie. Yet, sometimes someone on the Right will say or post something or share an article that leaves me absolutely baffled. I have no clue what they're talking about and oftentimes can't even find out where what they're saying is actually coming from.

This happened a couple of weeks ago when a Tea Partier I'm following on Twitter posted an article about "Obama's Rule," which, according to the article (which, unfortunately, I can't find a link to now), is currently strangling the Congo. Now, there was actually a new regulation placed on the electronics industry in the Dodd-Frank Bill, forcing them to provide proof that their gold, coltan, tungsten, and tin ore have neither come from conflict regions within the Democratic Republic of Congo or has been provided by the "warlords" in that country. While intended just for certain regions of the Congo, the article I read (and many self-interested business leaders and Republican politicians) asserted that this new regulation is strangling the entire country.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Bill Campbell: Misanthrope Show -- Episode 26: Burning Down the House: A Post-Punk Party

Last week, after laying down what I felt was a shining moment of rantitude with my very calm, very rational monologue about the Tea Party, Jack Johnson, Obama, and the ever-evolving myths of White Supremacy (check it out: I Is Regusted), I asked Mrs. Anne Thrope what she thought of the music on the show. You could've seen my head about to explode when she almost called the show "adult contemporary." My inner Chris Tucker falsettoed in protest. After all, how can a show that features hip-hop, funk, jazz, rock, world, and all kinds of electronica be considered "adult contemporary." Like any good spouse of an overgrown child, Mrs. Thrope pacified me by saying, "Well, there definitely is a Bill Campbell style."

Fair enough. So, I decided to switch it up this week. And I chose to do it with some post-punk music.

While I'm still not much of a rock fan, I do find something very intriguing about the post-punk period from the late '70s to mid '80s that infected both sides of the globe. I don't know if it was Cold War fatigue, all that inflation, all those recessions, all that premature death-wishing of "late capitalism" talk, the rise of Thatcherism and Reaganism--oh, there were so many things wrong with the world back then--but something really lit a fire under these musicians' asses. And that's what I admire most about the period. It was as though nothing really made sense. Therefore, everything was up for grabs. These post-punk musicians took punk, rock, funk, disco, roots reggae, dub, ska. There were fools picking up instruments for the first time and going in to record. There were nerds going all MacGyver and building synthesizers in their garages. It was a powerful mishmash of everything one could possibly think of and creating a diverse, dynamic sound.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Baby Socrates

One of the most fascinating aspects of being a parent is watching our little ones grow into full-fledged human beings. We document and beam with pride along with every development our children make: baby's first solid food, the subsequent first solid waste, baby's first crawl, baby's first steps, etc.

Well, I will forever shine when I remember Friday, September 2, 2011 (ironically enough, her grandfather's 63rd birthday) 6:17pm. It was the moment that not-yet-four-year-old KiddieBop (aka "The Kid," nee "Poohbutt") beat her father in an intellectual debate.

SCENE: Moving Car

KIDDIEBOP: Daddy, can we go for a walk after school on Monday.

DADDY: Maybe Tuesday. You won't be in school on Monday.


DADDY: Monday's Labor Day.

KIDDIEBOP: What's Labor Day?

DADDY: It's a holiday when we celebrate workers.