Amoeblog

East Turkestan / Xinjiang/ Uyghurstan/ شىنجاڭ

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 10, 2008 06:58pm | Post a Comment


East Turkestan is the English name for an occasionally independent region occupied by China since it invaded in 1949. In Manchu Chinese it is known as Xinjiang, which means "new frontier", a phrase which belies its extrinsic nature to China. For the Turkic peoples that live beyond this "new frontier", the country is known as "Sharqi Turkistan" which translates to "Eastern Land of the Turks." The country is largely desert with towns built around oasises that were, in ancient times, important stops on the Silk Road.


The population of the region is mainly made up of Turkic peoples, the largest group being the Uyghurs (less commonly spelled Uighur, Uighur, Uygur or Uigu). Most Uyghurs feel more culturally aligned with their Turkic brethren to the West than the Beijing goverment of the East which currently controls the region. However, as with Tibet, China is attempting to dilute the region's culture and ethnicity by inundating it with Han immigrants lured by economic incentives and an apartheid system that favors them over the indigenous population. In 1949, when China invaded, the region was 75% Uyghur. As of 2003 it had been diluted to 45%. Ironically, identity in the region was largely based on the particular oasis communities and a strong coalescence based on a common, Turkic identity only really began in response to Chinese repression and occupation.

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Eazy-E Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 7, 2008 01:10pm | Post a Comment
Happy Eazy-E Day, a holiday observed over in Compton by order of the mayor. I'm not sure what customs are attached to the day so I'll just share my Eazy-E story.



I first heard Eazy-E back in 1988 when I was in junior high. Even before I heard him, I'd heard of him. Back then, new music was still mostly disseminated by word of mouth and the trade of mixtapes. Our computers were Apple ][es and the internet was still just one of Al Gore's fantasies. The only rap they played on the radio was harmless (but fun) stuff like Whodini, UTFO and the Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff. But just looking around the school hallways it was obvious that there was more to the hip-hop world than what got played on the air. Kids wore enormous clocks around their necks like Flava Flav of the airplay-denied Public Enemy. When teachers distinguished me from another Eric by referring to me as "Eric B.," the question "where's Rakim?" often followed-- uttered by a savvy classmate. The rap that most people listened to as far as I know (with the exception of Ice-T, Too $hort ) was either from the East or South Coasts. Then, seemingly overnight, kids started wearing Raiders and Kings gear. A wind picked up from the west...



One day around that time, my younger brother Evan and I were out riding bikes down past Bill Wolf's property. Bill Wolf was kind of a big man out in the country who built a lot of homes, owned a lot of land and used to shoot copperheads-- plus he claimed to have seen panthers in the woods behind our house, long before they were officially verified to have returned to the area. I remember the tar on Old Mill Creek Road used to bubble in the heat and pop under my Schwinn's deliberately swerving tires. There was probably the loud buzz of cicadas in the air. Down by Mill Creek (where I used to try to catch crawdads) Evan (riding our sister's orange 3-speed) found a chewed up, discarded cassette by the bridge. He said that the tape was unraveled and draped across some weeds. It was labeled "Eazy Duz It." I got excited at the opportunity suddenly afforded us to listen to something we probably wouldn't otherwise hear. Evan wound the tape back up with his finger and took it back to the house.

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Sissy Rappers - Tell me what a sissy know

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 3, 2008 04:42pm | Post a Comment
In hip-hop circles, you often encounter self-appointed arbiters of hip-hop taste who decry certain supposed negative trends in hip-hop. One frequent target for these musical Taliban is the prevalence of "bling," which is regarded as a new corruption of the scene (conveniently ignoring Gucci-clad, Rolls Royce-flaunting, "paid in full"-singing Eric B and Rakim or the massive gold ropes that adorned every rapper from Big Daddy Kane down the alphabet to Yella.) These paternal advocates of fiscal responsibility feel that rappers should be saving their money, I suppose, and not spending on ostentatious jewelry.

These conservative cultural watchdogs usually then go into an oft-repeated, well-rehearsed diatribe about meaningless, party-centric lyrics, the lack of reliance on DJing, the importance of being real and other things that place them ideologically in the traditionalist camp alongside their trad jazz forebears that griped when jazz moved beyond its Dixieland roots, the guy that yelled "Judas" when Dylan plugged in and prog-rock fans who decried the lack of humorless, showy, technical proficiency when glam began took over the charts and hearts of rock fans in the 70s.

But music evolves, regardless (and sometimes in defiance) of the griping and sniping of those stodgy snobs who stand scowling and motionless with arms folded whilst the masses keep on getting down. In 1968 Nik Cohn virtually created rock criticism with his book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of RockAs the title suggests, Cohn viewed the meaningless, shallow, fun music of rock's dawn in higher regard than the pretentious progressive rock of his day.  Another genre of music that haters love to hate is Bounce music. I felt like my love of this despised genre was validated, in a way, when the same Nik Cohn moved to New Orleans and worked with Choppa, an under-rated rapper from Algiers on the West Bank who had a big regional hit with "Choppa Style." Choppa dubbed Cohn "Nik the Trik" and Cohn wrote another book of criticism about his experiences, Triksta: Life and Death and New Orleans Rap.

This Hollywood Life -- poisson d'avril

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 1, 2008 01:29pm | Post a Comment

Lone 5 Star Review On Amazon Turns Out To Be Work of Crew Member
 

WESTWOOD - Derek Lajeunesse is suspected of giving a five star review to The Grim Reaper; a direct-to-video film he worked on the set of earlier this year. Amazon officials became suspicious of the five star review when they clicked on his username, "D-Licious55" and discovered only one other review -- a five star review for last year's direct-to-video horror film, The Yeti Horror which imdb lists Lajeunesse as having worked on as well. In both reviews, Lajeunesse posted the same text, verbatim, in the form of a narrative which is now believed to be fictional. "I walked into a small theater on a whim not expecting much. Boy was I surprised! While it doesn't have the big budget of Hollywood horror films, this little indie flick has a lot more heart... and enough gore to keep any horror fan happy. Awesome!"

The scam was uncovered by Justin Quinn, alias "TheRealTylerDurden," who watched a rented copy of The Grim Reaper based on Lajeunesse's glowing testimony. Quinn's review took a decidedly contrary view, "I don't know if the last reviewer is retarded or what. This movie sucked. It was boring and the acting and effects were awful. I'm only giving this one star because Amazon doesn't allow you to give zero!"

Control Release Date Pushed Back To 2011

NEW YORK - Tamara Jackson, speaking on behalf of her employers, The Weinstein Company, has confirmed her company's decision to not release Anton Corbijn's critically-acclaimed film for another three years. Jackson explained, "In keeping with Weinstein's cautious approach to DVD releases, we have thought long and hard and decided to wait until the smoke clears from the recent HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray format war. While Blu-Ray has proven winner in this battle, who's to say that some new, undreamed of format, like an optolithic data rod, isn't going to render Blu-Ray as obsolete as VideoDiscs?"

Grebo -- Spotlight on the spotty

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 28, 2008 11:57am | Post a Comment
Grebo was the name given to a short-lived music scene/subculture in the late 1980s/early 1990s which was centered in England's Midlands region. Key bands in the scene were Pop Will Eat Itself, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Carter USM and The Wonderstuff. Other bands associated with Grebo to varying extents include The Levellers, Zodiac Mindwarp, Crazyhead, The Bomb Party, The Hunters Club, Scum Pups, Gaye Bikers on Acid, The Senseless Things, Mega City Four and New Model Army. These musically diverse bands on the surface had little in common with one another but were united in their incorporation of (to varying degrees, given the band in question) musical influences taken from many of the more marginal scenes of the day such as heavy metal, alternative, dance, glam, hip-hop, punk and industrial. Though rarely, if ever, termed Grebo; Jesus Jones and EMF applied a strong pop sensibility to an undeniably Grebo-esque formula which carried them to considerable, though short-lived, heights.



Still, where there is little recognizable commonality to the musicologist, there is an undeniable vibe evident in their attitude, sartorial sense and Chaz's Grebo dance, which the subcultural anthropologist can recognize easily. The Grebo look often involved dreadlocks, topknots, crimped hair or otherwise unflattering, grubby coifs. The clothing often saw long-sleeved lumberjack shirts or Ts combined with shorts and heavy boots.  Skate brands and surplus were often topped off with odd hats which were popular in the early 1990s and will prove an essential, if unflattering, ingredient in any upcoming 90s revival. The result was deliberately ugly, comical and political, in keeping with most of the music.

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