Archive for May, 2009

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Why I’m Moving To Vienna And Forming A Balkan Funk Band

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on May 26, 2009 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture, Music

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The Internet is dangerous. One day you’re watching an American film about suicide, the next day you’re moving to Vienna and starting a Balkan Funk Band.

The Internet is dangerous. It’s because of the Internet that I’m moving to either Barcelona or Vienna and starting a Balkan Funk Band. Let me explain. The other day, I finally saw Wrist Cutters – A Love Story (and wrote about it). I loved bits of the soundtrack, especially the tunes by Gogol Bordello, so I picked up their CD Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony, because I couldn’t get the song Through The Roof ‘N’ Underground out of my head. There was one part of the lyric that I couldn’t make out, so I googled it, and amongst the results were images of a grass-roofed, insanely organic building designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, whose work is a little suggestive of Antoni Gaudi, one of my favorite architects. As I kept browsing images of Gaudi and Hundertwasser, I got more curious about Gogol Bordello , and found out that one of their ex-members had formed a band called Balkan Beat Box. The damage was done, I had found my life’s new purpose: I am destined to form a Balkan Funk Band. I decided the only way I could draw the inspiration I need is to live in an apartment that has no corners. Don’t ask me why, but it is one of several things that Hundertwasser and Gaudi had in common. The images speak for themselves, but if you haven’t heard the music mentioned here, well, Gogol Bordello plays an odd sort of acoustic slavic folk punk. Their songs routinely capture a bemused melancholy, a hopeful resignation, sort of suggestive of Borat’s more thoughtful brothers or something. Balkan Beat Box is a different story. Imagine Drum ‘n’ Bass, but with the bass lines beefed up with tubas, and the synth wails tempered with trumpets. All with a gypsy-like arabic scales running through it. They use a lot of samples and drum loops. Imagine you hung out with a polka band, dropped some acid and smoked some really good hash, and headed off to the club. Which is what I think I’ll just be doing now.

Del tha Funkee Homosapien – Funk Man (The Stimulus Package)

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 25, 2009 by admin in Music

Monday, May 25th, 2009

How Del Tha Funkee Homosapien started a hip-hop revival on my hard drive.

I was so busy grinding my own music career into oblivion in the early 90′s that I was too busy to dig deeper into a lot of the cooler music that was going down, especially upbeat hip-hop as defined by bands like (these are all YouTube links) Digable Planets, Dream Warriors, Arrested Development, Digital Underground and others. Which is why I have to thank Del tha Funkee Homosapien for releasing his latest collection for free; I’m a cheap bastard, and I couldn’t resist seeing what he’s been up to. Del was only eighteen when he recorded the infectiously brilliant Mistadobalina, featured in the clip at left, and unfortunately a lot of what hip hop was about at that time got buried in popular perception by the gangsta crap bullshit that followed. Fortunately all the fools who used music to promote hatred and violence have done a pretty good job of offing each other, and now some of the more positive 90′s hip-hop acts are enjoying a little revival this summer, at least in Boston (and on my computer). Take a minute to download Del’s new release Funk Man (The Stimulus Package), it’s worth a spin, and the price is right. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but he definitely foments some downtempo funk with a crunchy mix (which sounds almost like it was done on tape) that puts to use a lot of heavy compressed bass, Fender Rhodes, and clavinet. Even if Del doesn’t stimulate your package, it’s an excellent stress test for your woofers. Read the rest of this entry »

Wristcutters – A Love Story

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on May 24, 2009 by admin in Popular Media

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

The best foreign film of 2009 was made in America in 2007

Although Harold and Maude pulled it off, it’s hard to imagine a light-hearted quirky romance that begins with a suicide. Wristcutters – A Love Story manages this, and is one of those rare creations that actually gives the term sui generis a purpose. You are unlikely to see another film that you will easily compare to it – the best I might come up with would be Box of Moonlight, Leningrad Cowboys, or Bagdad Cafe – which is why you might as well just go ahead and see it. If you didn’t know otherwise, you might assume the film to be one of the best foreign films of 2009 because of its unique pacing, atmosphere, and weak distribution, but it was in fact produced in America, and released in 2007. If you’ve ever been close to suicide, whether yours or someone close to you, you’ll appreciate an aspect of the film that may be lost on some.  Although there’s a sort of glib humorous tone, the acting and direction throughout brilliantly maintains a more subtle, powerful feeling of a bleak, humorous, detached hopefulness that only those who have experienced some real depth of feeling will recognize. The visual style of the film – you feel like you’re in a perpetual southwestern U.S. netherworld of monochromatic modern ghost towns – was created digitally, but evolved out of the filmmaker’s original intention to shoot on infrared Super 16 film stock, which proved too costly. Tom Waits turns in a great performance, the acting across the board is perfectly pitched, and the soundtrack is excellent on its own. Where else will you find Joy Division flowing effortlessly into Russian folk punk? I look forward to any future projects by director Goran Dukic, and I just ordered the book of short stories by Etgar Keret that the film’s story was taken from (the specific story was “Kneller’s Happy Campers”); I’m dying to see if the writing is as good as the concepts.

WARNING: This Warning Sign Is Useless

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on May 23, 2009 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

And the parody of it probably isn’t funny, either.

Signs are odd. People are often unlikely to do what they suggest – unless they were going to do it anyway – and in the case of safety signs, the person who’s careless enough to do the thing that the sign is warning them about is pretty unlikely to read the sign. And then there are the safety inserts on airliners, which do little more than terrorize those who are already afraid of flying. So we’ve decided we need a guerrilla sign campaign. There are lots of collections of amusing signs out there (and Japanese wii Manuals too), but it always seems that as soon as someone slaps the label “funny” on something, it isn’t. So help us out by using one of these tools to create something actually funny. First, we have a collection of “hazard” signs right here on Dissociated Press. Use the text box below the image to suggest a caption. You could also try this Warning Sign Generator or this Street Sign Generator . This tool at St Clair Signs offers a lot of choices, but you need to create a log-in. The thing is, it’s so easy to create these signs with even the most basic software, that there’s almost no reason to go looking for them. If you don’t agree, maybe you need a copy of Warning Signs For Idiots. And since notices and signs are so ineffective, we’ll repeat that we’d love it if you’d submit a caption for one of our hazard symbols.

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Our Constitution: It’s Just To DIE For

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 22, 2009 by admin in Politics

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Memorial Day weekend is a great time to ask if our constitution is still worth dying for. The latest change? The FCC can inspect your baby monitor without a warrant.

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, maybe it’s time to take a moment to honor those who have died for our great country. Or, more importantly, maybe ask ourselves if we would do the same, or if we even live in the same country they did. I mean, if one of the things you’d be willing to die for is the constitution, shouldn’t you check first to see if it still exists? We now know that not only did the Bush administration declare the 4th Amendment irrelevant, but apparently the new administration isn’t doing a lot to change things, and recently, the FCC has been taking things to a new level regarding search and seizure. You know that tag you’ll find on mattresses that says “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law“? By now, most of us know it wasn’t directed at the consumer. But there’s another tag in your house you might be concerned about. Do you own a wireless router, a cordless phone, a baby monitor, or a cell phone? You know the label that you’ll find on some devices (and in that chapter of the manual you didn’t read) that refers to Part 15 of the FCC rules? Well, in a rather bizarre twist, the FCC has perverted these regulations to give themselves authority to conduct warrantless searches on private property. I’d suggest you mount your wireless router on the outside of your house, and put all your other devices in a lockbox outside your door. That baby monitor’s gonna be a problem though.

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