Archive for the ‘ Thoughts ’ Category

Life is Music April 16, 2013, edition: Boston Marathon

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song. This week’s story is one I didn’t want to cover. I looked for a way around it; I tried to find a different story that had a lighter angle. I thought maybe I could cover something easy, and include a brief message in memorial for the Boston Marathon bombing.

But I couldn’t. This story has dominated the news and spurred constant discussion. The questions about why this happened are still unanswered; the carnage is still being tallied. An issue went viral that divided people on social media — how can Americans be in such shock and uproar about this act of terror, while staying in the dark or writing off (at times) daily bombing deaths of dozens or more in the Middle East?

Bombings, murders, unexpected deaths of innocent lives are all tragedies. Always. Civilians at a market buying food in Afghanistan don’t deserve to die or get hurt, just as runners feeling the elation of completing a major marathon, perhaps a life goal, don’t deserve it.

The song choice may be cheesy, but Dropkick Murphys are quintessential Boston punks. In the US, terror attacks are infrequent, and we will remember. Let’s make an effort to know and remember when this happens to anyone, anywhere.

Life is Music April 11, 2013: ‘Accidental Racist’ is awful, not accidentally

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song! This week’s rudieTuesday falls on a Thursday, because, well, life happens. But it’s worth it, because this week is a playlist instead of one song.

You may have heard about this week’s story on or before rudieTuesday. It may have prompted face-palming, eye-rolling, or laptop-across-the-room-throwing.

That’s because this week’s news story is the existence of and subsequent viral nature of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s hit single, “Accidental Racism.” Whoops!

Most articles written about this song have had a decent grasp on how bad this song is, and why it’s so bad. Unfortunately, but as to be expected, not everyone realized this.

The Village Voice’s take on the song, for instance, is disappointing at best, and offensive at worst. Author  Alan Scherstuhl calls the song “imperfect” at worst and “more complex than the simpleminded reactions it has stirred” at next-to-worst. Oh, how now even close that is. I adore the Village Voice and hoped for better, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from someone writing about country music in NYC.

This song is awful for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that racism is still a problem. The generalized white guy in the song’s biggest problem is his t-shirt is offensive and he’s ignorant. The generalized person of color in the song’s biggest problem is that he’s likely to face discrimination in education and employment, and be targeted by police who assume he’s a criminal because of his skin color. Brad Paisley’s biggest problem is he probably thinks this song is a positive step towards stomping out racism. LL Cool J’s biggest problem is he thought participating in this song would be a good idea.

In response to this inane song, The Atlanic posted a list of songs about racism on the non-awful end of the spectrum. I thought the idea fit with the spirit of this blog, so below is my own short playlist. Enjoy! And, ya know, smash racism. (Some lyrics NSFW.)

The Coup – “We Are the Ones”

Brother Ali  – “Uncle Sam Goddamn”

Mos Def – “Wahid”

OPM – “Unda”

Operation Ivy – “Officer”

Blogger’s note: You may have noticed this playlist is half the length of The Atlantic’s playlist, and still not all punky music. This is because, while a number of punk bands do tackle the issue of racism, few of them are people of color themselves. It’s an interesting tie-in to this issue. Punk is dominated by white dudes. As a result, this playlist is short, as to not also be dominated by white dudes.

Life is music: April 2, 2013, edition

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song!

Today, the AP officially removed “illegal immigrant” from acceptable terminology in its vocabulary. This is cool, because that kind of language (calling a person illegal — as though a human could inherently be taboo) is not cool.

In addition to coolness, this is interesting because, as much of the western world is aware, yesterday was April Fools Day. In accordance with the tradition of creating phony news stories to let the average consumer figure out what’s real and what’s a prank — a situation that is sometimes clear and sometimes leaves a bit too much gray area — one blog wrote an article with breaking news that the AP had stopped using this term.

While the article took it a step further and said the AP decided to swap out “illegal immigrants” for the much more politically correct “Pitbull* fans,” the fact still remains that the lede read, in part, that the AP executive board voted “to no longer use ‘illegal immigrant’ or ‘illegal’ in any of its news stories.” The next day, this happened in real life!

So here’s to you, the Latino Rebels, for writing one of the rare April Fools jokes that came true. And here’s to you, AP, for discontinuing a dehumanizing term. And here’s to you, The Menzingers, for writing the soundtrack to this week’s news story. Here’s to your song that describes a story repeated, and the red ink that is sure to be metaphorically splattered across one more phrase in the story of a reporter who hasn’t kept up with the stylebook.

*Were you expecting a Pitbull video? If not, I’m sorry/you’re welcome!

Undercover cop poses as Boston Frankenpunk

(L)oud rock shows can, in fact, be a nuisance to neighbors, as many of the people who put the shows on will admit. But are they worth the man-hours the Boston Police have put into them? And are they worth the distrust such tactics create within a community that, loud music aside, are certainly no worse, and in many cases a lot more respectful, than typical twentysomethings partying in any city?

I can answer that one for ya. Nope. No they’re not. A bunch of noisy punks at a basement show are not worth the effort, time, and civilian money. It’s not worth the work that it takes to create all the fake Facebook profiles and email accounts that rat themselves out immediately with phrases like “DIY concerts.”

That does raise a good point about elitism, though. One wrong word can out someone as not being part of the scene. It happens in a lot of groups, scenes and movements, whether unintentional or not. The hierarchy of who has the most street cred causes friction, fallout and distrust. It potentially alienates an actual person who is new to the area, or just new to a kind of music or idea. Pitting undercovers against a bunch of punks that probably aren’t plotting much more than where to sew the next patch onto their jean jackets creates unfair skepticism against people who have a legitimate interest in the group.

via Boston Punk Zombies Are Watching You!
The Boston police go undercover on the Internet to stop the city’s most dreaded scourge: DIY indie-rock shows.

How does she rock so hard in those shoes?!

How does she rock so hard in those shoes?!

Seriously. I literally have fallen down while trying to put on shoes like that. I wish I could rock out on stage half as hard as Laura Jane, and I could probably only make that happen in flats.

h/t FY!QM

John Lennon red-links on Wikipedia…

SAN FRANCISCO—Users of the popular reference website Wikipedia were reportedly surprised this week upon discovering that the online encyclopedia contained no entry for Beatles co-founder and legendary singer-songwriter John Lennon. “John Lennon sold over a billion records and influenced an entire generation, so I guess I just figured he would have his own Wikipedia page,” said Collin Acker, 34, after clicking on a red link bearing Lennon’s name, which directed him to a page indicating that an entry on the iconic songwriter behind “All You Need Is Love” and “Imagine” did not exist but that he could create one.

Yep. I definitely went to his Wiki page after this just to make sure the article wasn’t based in fact. I sort of wonder if there was a bet going on at the Onion “news”room on whether they could get Lennon’s Wiki page to seriously spike in hits.

You win this one, The Onion.

(While this article could/should have been real. But I mean I guess profanity isn’t SCOTUS’s style.)

Race + Hip-Hop + LGBT Equality: On Macklemore’s White Straight Privilege

(I)s it revolutionary for white people to get mainstream recognition for talking about homophobia in hip hop, when queer hip hop artists of color are routinely ignored? The fact of the matter is, the success of “Same Love” is largely due at least in part to white audiences being more receptive to white straight men talking about oppression than oppressed people, as well as the comfort of being able to remove themselves from misogyny and homophobia because the oppression at hand is the fault of Black people in hip hop. What could be more revolutionary than that? How about listening to queer people of color?

As I mentioned to FY!QM, to whom I must give credit for showing me this piece, I was wondering when something like it would be written. I’m really glad to see that it’s so well thought out, well put together, well done. Seriously worth the read, worth thinking about, worth discussing.

I think “Thrift Shop” is a fantastic song. Overall, I enjoy Macklemore’s music. He has rapped about white privilege in the past, so he’s got to be at least somewhat aware of what’s going on here. I’m interested to see if and how he reacts to criticism of this song.

H/T to FY!QM for inspiring (and being the content of) the last few posts on my blog!

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