Amoeblog

DOES CALIFORNIA'S NEW HANDHELD CELL PHONE BAN MAKE SENSE?

Posted by Billyjam, July 1, 2008 07:29am | Post a Comment

As you no doubt already know, today (July 1st) is the first day of a new law in California: the law banning the use of handheld wireless phones while driving. Drivers caught breaking this new law can be fined $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent times.

Note that It is okay to use cell phones with a hands-free device, such as a Blue Tooth, while talking, although both ears cannot be covered at any time. Using a handheld telephone’s speaker function is also allowed, but dialing while driving is not allowed.

And if you are under 18 then you may not use any phone (or any other electronic device, period) while driving. Below, courtesy of California's DMV, are answers to the most commonly asked questions about this new law.

But does this law actually make any sense? I think not, because a phone is a phone, and the danger to driving lies not in the type of communication device (handheld or ear-piece) that you are using but rather in the distraction of having a phone conversation while driving.

Instead of a handheld phone, a driver's hands could as easily be holding a map or an apple or a cup of coffee or adjusting the radio volume etc., rather than holding the steering wheel. The distracting thing about phone use while driving isn't so much about holding the thing in your hand, but rather how being caught up in a deep phone conversation can be so consuming that it momentarily takes your mind elsewhere and away from the road in front of you.

So I say either let everyone talk on the phone (handheld or other) while driving, or else ban car phone use altogether. And don't discriminate against under 18 year olds: treat everyone you allow to drive equally. Do you agree or disagree? Add your opinion in the "comments" box  down below the DMV's answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding this new law.

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BILLY JAM'S WEEKLY HIP-HOP ROUND UP: 6:28:08

Posted by Billyjam, June 28, 2008 11:32am | Post a Comment

After having the plug pulled prematurely on the concert he was a part of last Saturday at the Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival in Norfolk VA where authorities charged him with "abusive language" (apparently for uttering the lyrics "What the fuck" during one of his songs),  Boots Riley of The Coup has issued a statement saying that the local authorities' charges against him are "racially motivated."

The obscure local Virginia law, on the books as # 18.2-416, has never before now been applied to a performer, nor has it been enforced against anyone in over 25 years.   But yet the city of Norfok is determined in pressing forward with the charges against the visiting Oakland emcee.

"City Officials claim that they are making the statement that profanity will not be tolerated," said Boots Riley in a prepared statement sent out yesterday by his label. "Obviously, since no one has been charged with this in 26 years, profanity IS tolerated. The statement they are making is that the culture and the people they feel I represent won't be tolerated. I was already off stage; the man they asked to leave the stage was Trombone Shorty, another Black man who looks nothing like me."

"This happened at 10PM, and it was far from a 'family' atmosphere, most of the audience was intoxicated after drinking at the festival's bar -- 'The Missing Kidney.' There was also a VIP section where free alcohol was distributed by the keg. Anyone who has been to a music festival on a Saturday night understands the scene. I did not leave the park afterward, as was claimed by FestEvents, the organizers of the Bayou Boogaloo Festival. I stayed and debated the validity of the charge with police and festival promoters. It is clear that this is part of a larger debate that has nothing to do with profanity, one that is being dealt with nationwide. That debate is about racism, gentrification and the ownership of public space."

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AMOEBLOG INTERVIEW WITH ESPERANZA SPALDING

Posted by Billyjam, June 27, 2008 12:55am | Post a Comment

Hard-working jazz singer/instrumentalist Esperanza Spalding, who recently played several dates in California and whose latest album Esperanza on Heads Up International has been available at Amoeba Music since it was released last month, took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with the Amoeblog this week. The jazz acoustic bassist/vocalist  talked about how she defines the type of music she plays, her recent gig at the Roots Picnic in Philly, the state of jazz music in 2008, and how she got into the style of music initially. 
 
"I fell in love with the music via the bass," said Esperanza. "Playing the instrument automatically made me a draw for jazzers who needed bass in their band, or on a gig. People would literally tell me, 'Hey if you check out these records or learn these songs, you can have this gig.'  And, when the music I was assigned or turned onto was jazz, I would take it to heart and try my best to understand it. Of course, for my musical palette at that time, it took a while before I could really    
   appreciate what I was listening to."

As for the challenge of being both a vocalist and an instrumentalist simultaneously, the artist said that it just takes practice as far as executing the music. "But what can be difficult is being a singer, in the sense that you are engaged with the audience, and really responsible for emoting, and getting into the lyrics, melody, etc and being an effective bassist/band leader," she added. On the topic of Esperanza's music, I asked the artist how she herself describes her style? "Hmm, investigative," she replied. "I am trying to synthesize all the elements that are present, or at least present in my intention, if it doesn't always translate to the listener. I figure in a few years I'll really be able to peg my sound."

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Interview with revolutionary hip-hop emcee Immortal Technique whose new album The 3rd World drops this week

Posted by Billyjam, June 25, 2008 08:20am | Post a Comment

It might well look from a mainstream glance that hip-hop today has evolved into nothing but slickly produced, bouncy, party music with mindless lyrics that are more concerned with ringtone-designed, catchy choruses than any type of political message.

We are in a time in the once widely revolutionary music that whenever you hear of an artist accused of being 'offensive' it is more likely that they are being misogynist  than being lyrically threatening or offensive to the government or the economic or social system.

But there are still hip-hop artists today making politically charged, socially relevant music in the tradition of such militant rap artists as Public Enemy and Paris. Immortal Technique is such an artist and his latest album, The 3rd World (Viper), which arrived in Amoeba Music yesterday, is a prime example of an artist using his craft and resources as a platform to make powerful political, economic, and sociological statements.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the outspoken Harlem, NY emcee, who is as critical of the music industry as he is of the Bush administration. The 3rd World, like his previous releases such as the classic Revolutionary Vol.2, is  released on his own label, Viper, with carefully monitored distribution by KOCH. He told me he would rather have control of his music and his business than have some huge corporation pimp him. Not that any large entertainment conglomerate would not be scared away by such a loud political rapper. The industry won't really push political artists, he told me. "They will champion someone who is not fit to defend those positions for our people," he said, noting that this only inspires him to stick to the script. "It's very important for us to never lose sight of the revolutionary aspect of hip-hop.....that's the 3rd world: the revolutionary side, the street side, the hardcore side, and the independent."

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THE CHURCHES OF WEST OAKLAND (Pt. 2: the signs)

Posted by Billyjam, June 25, 2008 08:08am | Post a Comment

        

 
        

        
     
        

              

        

       

      

     

    

      
 
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