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LITERALLY, A CHEESY DRUM SOLO

Posted by Billyjam, March 21, 2008 07:38am | Post a Comment

To call the above drum solo "cheesy" would not be an insult, but rather an accurate description of the art installation piece entitled "Cheesy Cheese Kit Diptych" in which the drums being played are rounds of cheese. The musician working the cheese-as-percussion is Dutch improvisational jazz drummer Han Bennink.  The kit he is playing was made by artist Walter Willems in an installation from three years ago at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto.

Willems built the Cheese Kit Diptych installation, which consists of two drum kits.  One has full rounds of real cheese (Dutch cheese, of course) propped atop drum stands. The other kit is built out of plastic cheese replicas, the kind that are used in store display windows. Apparently the reason Willems, who is Dutch, chose cheese and also the clogs-as-percussion bit at the beginning, was to mock and reinforce the international stereotype of the Dutch by using classic Dutch export products as its main ingredient.

The video of the drum performance by Han Bennink above was recorded on June 17, 2005 and reportedly was a featured artwork in the Demons Stole My Soul: rock 'n roll drums in contemporary art exhibition. As part of the performance Bennink also played a conventional drum kit. 

BIGGER THAN HIP-HOP: SISTERZ OF THE UNDERGROUND

Posted by Billyjam, March 20, 2008 03:15pm | Post a Comment

Major props are in order for the Bay Area founded, all female hip-hop collective the Sisterz of the Underground (SOTU), who are celebrating their seven year anniversary with a big show this weekend in San Francisco. As with many other fine organizations before them, SOTU, which features b-girls, emcees, spoken-word artists, DJ's, graffiti/street artists, and others, began almost by accident. 

But since its inception in 2001 it has grown by leaps and bounds. Besides the numerous showcases, spotlighting women artists, SOTU also branched out and created a wonderful sister organization called DEF ED which holds workshops and classes for youth throughout the greater Bay Area. 

As outlined on their website SOTU is "an open collective for women to: feel comfortable and not intimidated, to share or learn hip hop skills, be open to be who we are while being respected in how we choose to express that, choose to represent hip hop, & feel hip hop no matter what level of skill." 

Perhaps what is most commendable about this organization is that through their passion and positivity for hip-hop, coupled with their genuine concern for their fellow sisters, Sisterz of the Underground and its offshoot group DEF ED, have transcended hip-hop itself to create a family structure and provide a much needed support group for young women (especially in this current sexist era of popular hip-hop where women are constantly objectified and degraded) in which they can learn invaluable life lessons.  What they do is bigger than hip-hop.

To celebrate their seven successful years of putting on shows, workshops, and other events the Sisterz of the Underground are putting on a highly recommended show Friday night (March 21st) at Club Six in San Francisco with a talent packed bill, hosted by Melina Jones, that will include DJs Celski & Deandroid, DJ Zita, DJ That Girl, Medusa, Shredone, Butterscoth, Lady Fingaz, and the Extra Credit Cru. Showtime 9:30PM. More show info.

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BRING THE YELLOW TAPE: THE CRIME OF WAR

Posted by Billyjam, March 19, 2008 06:00pm | Post a Comment

Usually anniversaries are times of celebration; opportunities to rejoice a landmark in the life span of someone or something notable, positive, inspirational, etc. etc.  But today's date, March 19th 2008, which marks the five year anniversary of the war in Iraq, is hardly a time for any sort of celebration for anyone.  Even those few remaining staunchly pro-American, anti-terrorist, die-hard Bush supporters must find little to celebrate today.

For even if they choose to blindly dismiss & ignore all of the damage done to Iraq and its people (approximately half a million citizens of Iraq killed & countless more maimed or left homeless and/or with their lives in total disarray) and just focus on the American lives lost, not to mention the incredible damage done to the US economy that is not even fully felt, and won't be for years, nay, generations, to come -  then even the most stubborn supporters of this war would have to agree that is a losing battle in every sense of the word.

One life lost is one too many no matter how noble a cause might seem. But in this case, in this war, there is no noble cause at stake. There is no honor. Just a tragic waste of lives and money and a huge stain on the future - especially for the USA.  If we were to just forget about all the human lives lost and were to just ponder the financial drain of this war it is simply mind-numbing.  Currently the US has wasted over $500 billion on this war.  And estimated figures point to the US spending close to a total of a trillion dollars (a thousand billion) before this whole war in Iraq can be brought to a close.  Now considering the needs of so many poor struggling American citizens at home, with so many living below the poverty level and dealing with poor medical care, housing, and schooling, etc., this war is not just a terrible waste. It is horrendous crime.

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SAINT PATRICK'S DAY & THE POGUES

Posted by Billyjam, March 16, 2008 10:01pm | Post a Comment


There is so much great Irish music out there-- from traditional folk Irish music to Irish rock, jazz, electronic, and hip-hop Irish music etc.-- much of it available at Amoeba Music. But for Saint Patrick's Day I always find the more traditional or trad/folk rooted Irish music is the perfect soundtrack to celebrate the day with. Above is one of my all time favorite songs performed by two of the best, the Pogues and their main musical inspiration, the Dubliners, together doing a rendition of the traditional song "The Irish Rover."  Below is a video of the Pogues performing "Dirty Old Town" -- another song previously popularized by the Dubliners.   And if you happen to be in New York City on Saint Patrick's Day, you can catch the third consecutive night of the Pogues performing live at the Roseland Ballroom. Also on the bill are Billy Bragg and William Elliot Whitmore.

STAYING ALIVE AS A CYCLIST

Posted by Billyjam, March 16, 2008 12:12pm | Post a Comment
       

In the Bay Area recently there has been a surge of road accidents involving cyclists and not just the much publicized ones like the recent tragedy in which a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy fell asleep at the wheel of his patrol car and veered across the divide and into a group of cyclists, killing two, on Steven's Canyon Road in Cupertino. Besides this and several other recently publicized fatal bike accidents there have also been a ton of unreported crashes in the Bay Area (which has a high density of bike fanatics) that often send cyclists tumbling from their bikes and to the hospital for stitches, or worse.

Coincidentally, this morning just as I was reading a newspaper article about bike crashes in the Bay, I looked up to witness (on College Avenue in Oakland) a cyclist taking a spill on his bike.  The cause of the accident was perhaps the most common one in urban areas.  He suddenly swerved, losing his balance and knocking himself off his own bike, in an attempt to avoid a car door being carelessly flung open by its driver  Luckily the cyclist was wearing a helmet and (seemed) to be okay. Although I think he was still in a state of shock as he told the small crowd suddenly gathered around him,  "I'm fine, I'm fine," as he remounted his bike and shakily cycled off down College. A lot of times you don't realize you are hurt until later after the adrenalin rush subsides.

Parked cars flinging open their doors, along with cars driving too fast or recklessly near cyclists, seem to be the most common causes of accidents for bikers. And it leads me to believe that for true safety for cyclists the only real solution is to completely separate the routes traveled by autos and by bikes: have exclusively bike-only paths and restrict cars to their own routes.   But in the meantime - as bikes and cars are forced to share roadways -  here are some safety tips for cyclists that, although they should be common sense, need reiterating:

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