Archive for the ‘movie’ Category

si melina…

October 19, 2009

yes, i’ve posted her music before, my favourite laughing woman (allright, c has a great laugh, too. a huge one, that is). and although it has been a gorgeous cover, the music was just allright. so i thought i better post another record. a more interesting one. and to make the link: it includes a brecht/weill song, too. in general the songs are of quite a variety – in a nice and interesting way. and the cover isn’t too bad, either…

melinasmall

ripped with a smile from vinyl, you’ll get it here.

not enough with this, i have some more. this as a tribute to v and j (you might have a look here). thank you again. it has been very nice. and yes it might is (or seems) more for v – but then j got already my, well, a swiss heart, right? so, in rememberance to our talks, and yes, the bouzoukia, i thought i post the music to the movie never on sunday. the music, courtesy of manos hadjidakis, sounds still fresh to my ears. although i am not very familiar with popular greek music (eeer… not at all, actually) this record sounds to me like a rather unique take on it – exploring various moods, not only the upbeat ones a northerner like me usually associates this kind of music with.

and then it is a movie by jules dassin, starring…yes, melina mercouri. the synopsis presented of the back of the record is quite hilarious – see below. love the choice of words… and yes, the male main character is indeed called homer…

but i guess if one can pull such a story off, then it must be ms mercouri. yes, i haven’t seen the movie yet – but it is now on my list. and after all one can also read it as the fight of free commerce against exploiting commercialism (hey, i just try to be original). and at least i learned that the real truth lies in the joy of living.

never on sunday
ilya (melina mercouri), a beautiful young woman who sells her charms in the port of piraeus, firmly adheres to one principle – her customers must appeal to her. greek tragedy is her only weakness and annually she suspends operations during the festival season. the classic texts have a personal meaning for her, including a happy ending for the story of medea.
one day, homer (jules dassin), an american, arrives in piraeus in quest of truth. attracted by the music of the bouzoukia, he goes to a crowded tavern where ilya is dancing and singing with her friends. to homer, she personifies greece and he is convinced that her story will provide an explanation for the fall of the ancient civilization.
he decides to reform ilya and succeeds in persuading her to give up her lovers in order to achieve more profound joys. her decision to “retire” delights noface (alexis salomos), an entrepreneur who exploits all the other prostitutes and he offers to subsidize homer’s program because ilya’s independence has been a bad example for his girls.
ilya finds homer’s teachings tedious and often engages in nostalgic daydreams. nevertheless, she resists the familiar call of the ships coming into port.
one day her friend, despo (despo diamantidou), discloses the pact between homer and noface. bent on revenge, ilya launches a prostitute’s revolt, which includes a general strike.
then to celebrate her return to the profession, she rushes to the bouzoukia, where she finds homer still looking for truth. he is sulking and ilya’s friends gently poke fun at him. he loses his temper, threatens to fight one of them and then suddenly sheds his academic armour. he then decides to open his eyes to what life really is and joins the party – laughing, singing and dancing with the otheres.
before going back to the states, he has discovered in greece that the real truth lies in the joy of living.

so – a shout out to étretat – and for all interested in some greek joy of living, i ripped the record in two parts (side a / side b) from vinyl. get it here. and yes: enjoy!

neveronsundaysmall

live. death. freedom.

February 18, 2009

salò or the 120 days of sodom – yes, the infamous movie by pier paolo pasolini.

saloto get it out of the way first: yes, it is a violent and partly rather gross movie, referring to certain acts. but it has been a long time since 1975, tarantino is mainstream, hardcore porn is easily acessible on the net, and c.s.i. is the favourite series of many.

so for me it appears rather strange that the police, respectively the politicians still dare to raid places showing this movie in public (and yes, there is also no german edition of that movie) – raiding the place for showing that movie, while just a block away movies like seven, reservoir dogs, saw, hostel, and so on are sold in numerous shops… that might be due to the combination of sex and violence in salò, and that the movie does not operate in any subcultural domaine, and that it is showing violence neiter stylized, nor glamourous – but i suspect it basically has to do that it is one of these movies that everybody has an opinion on, but hardly anybody watched.

i do recommend to watch it. it is an amazingly beautiful movie, visually. it is an extremly well made movie, too. and although it employs different strategies to build an emotional and visual distance, it is also a remarkably angry movie. and it is worlds apart from most contemporary movies celebrating violence in a very slick way.

pasolini took de sade and made his account of total sadism a political story. very directly through the titel: salò is the name of the second fascist repulic in italy, and the sadists are high ranking fascists. so while marquis de sade is rather some kind of intellectual experiment, distanced also through a setting in a time long gone, pasolini’s movie makes a direct reference to reality. to atrocities that did happen – atrocities that have gone way beyond what is shown in this movie. atrocities that are well documented, atrocities that still happen today here and there – a connection that makes this movie indeed rather severe. therfore the real perversion lies in trying to still ban this movie – but not spending any amount of energy to ban what the movie talks about happening.

and yes, this is where the anger of the movie is coming from: the onlookers. the opportunists, the ones participating, the ones not interfering. the movie is very explicit in denouncing this, and this is the moral question: why do we look on? just look on? this certainly has been the big question in europe after world war II, a question some people worked hard on, a question that is being avoided until today by others, by people screaming decadence and proclaim the death of society if there is a gay pride, or this movie shown, but did not even utter a whisper while people were tortured, abused, killed, right in front of their eyes – and even are up to today apologetic of what happened in these years. evil or just amazingly stupid? i don’t know.

the movie is structured in circles, reminding of the circles in dante’s hell, describing the descent into madness. but how is such madness possible? through a system that allows this: totalitarian, demanding subordination, and apparatus that delegates all responsability through this subordination everything into a system (“i just followed orders”). and then it hit me during seeing this movie: totalitarian, like softer versions of strictly hierarchical structured systems make you free. there is total freedom through absence of responsability. and yes, there is quite a lot of talking in this movie, and i’ve seen it in italian, and i’m sure i missed quite a bit, but i did not miss that sentence, when one of sadists is proclaiming that the fascists are the real anarchists. and yes, in a way it is true: you can be free, free of all responsability, just allow the system to take over all responsability for you and for the others – and if somebody else does not want that kind of freedom, you are a) certainly not responsible for this person, and b) this person actually endangers your freedom. whereas the political idea of anarchy dreams of a structural anarchy – something that would demand a lot of responsability from everyone – not only for himself, but also for everybody around him.

the problem with being free in a totalitarian system just seems to be that in these kind of systems freedom is only used in an amazingly stupid way. in the movie, especially in the sexually scenes, the brutality comes from the stupidity. one has all these possibilities and what you come up with is this? on the other hand it amplifies the horror for me: being in the hands of dumb people, that are able to delegate their responsability to a system and come up with really dumb , evil shit. yeah, the association to abu graib is an obvious one.

yes, also this is a quality of the pasolini’s movie: it shows sadistic violence not as an expression of a psychotic, deranged, but intelligent and fascinating mind: it shows that sadism is essentially stupid and unimaginative. and no, pasolini does not make it that easy: there are beautiful boys and girls, and the studs are obviously sexy (and obviously pasolini’s type). it’s a movie that shows us that there are circumstances that enables evil behaviour, circumstances that have something to do with our society and our behaviour. but it does also show us that it might be not possible to draw such clear lines as we wish, that there are desires running through that might undermine our righteous stance.

so yes, i really do recommend this movie. just look at it…

sidenote

October 16, 2008

Just a sidenote:
Today I coincidentally attended a lecture by Fred van der Kooij on acting in movies where van der Kooij showed a clip with the relatively unnown actress Brigitte Helm, claiming that she was far more versatile in her acting than Dietrich or Garbo ever could have been.

The clip he showed proved him absolutely right and so Brigitte Helm is my new Glitz & Glam heroine of the 20ies/30ies.
You might remember the female lead character Maria in Fritz Langs Metropolis.  that’s her.
Brigitte Helm (what a charmingly uncool name, much cooler though than her real name Schittenhelm) gave up acting after being typecast for roles where she had to play the angel that turns into a vamp and vice versa.

Here an excerpt from Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna (by Hanns Schwarz)

and the first scene of Abwege by G.W. Pabst

Enjoy

memi beltrame

thanks! me loves some reader participation.

funny enough i never really considered marlene dietrich that much an actress – she was just…marlene dietrich. but then you know that me and movies…i am just not that educated.

the (in)flexibility of steel

September 30, 2008

it feels like taking it a notch further: what applies to zarah leander also applies to leni riefenstahl. aaah, leni: actress, filmmaker, personal friend of a certain adolf. high priestess of heroic beauty. and unable to tell us something about history.

different then zarah leander she did not even keep the most minimal distance to the regime of the nazis. unlike zarah leander she used the totalitarian system of the time directly for her purposes. and it is somewhat strange to see her paint herself as a victim… as seduced by adolf and his writings. well…

but then again i can just be very cautious. and i actually want to use the example of leni riefenstahl for two other purposes then slaging her of as an opportunist – for this we will have herr karl in the next post.

first her work and the reactions to it and the influence it has, the traces it leaves, is an interesting example to muse about art and society – or maybe formulated differently: aesthetics and the political system. the aesthetic of her films are called fascistic – but what does that mean? by showing the parteitag? does the topic make the aesthetic? by showing only beautiful, young, athletic people? hm, ever read vogue lately? the thing is that leni riefenstahl maybe would have made very similar movies in a different political environment. that thought makes her work actually more cynic… but it also shows how we try to distance ourselves, or rather try to draw lines where there aren’t always some: a great aesthetic can show up on the wrong places.

the connection between art and society seems to be more complicated then “fascistic system=fascistic art”. leni riefenstahl’s movies were undoubtly one thing at her time: groundbreaking. and many art that was new and groundbreaking, from music to painting to literature to theater was made by artists with not necessarly good and right political attitudes. and anyway we will have a problem agreeing on what is good and right. maybe it boils down again to the questions if also artists which we hate can make art that is relevant, and how much an artist has a responsability as a citizen in his / her art. I just find it too easy to dismiss it as fascistic and also to insinuate the fascits had bad taste anyway – oilpaintings of the german forest and all that… the example that always springs to mind is the one of the futurists… have a look for yourself here – and be sure to read the introduction – down to the last sentence.

second there is something which fascinates me in the reception of leni riefenstahl. something that was for me maybe the first aspect of her work, but just rarely gets mentioned. it has something to do with the first picture not by her, but of her that i remember having seen:

yep, everybody might talks about the extreme aestheticism of her work – but what about…the sexyness of it all? allright, i was young, and i was terribly impressed to be able to stare at a naked man.

and this picture also denies this nakedness by her appearance and making clear that this colonial style dressed lady is hanging out with the primitives in africa – and has therefore a similar effect like the extreme aestheticism of most of her movies: it is so much about a certain beauty that it seems we do not even see that it is also about sexual attraction. which might be why it fitted so well with adolf: dreaming of this extreme militarise, homosocial society, singing the song of the beauty of the man – but of course deny that there could be something like a physical attraction where it should not belong. So i do find it overdue to point out also the sexyness of her olympia movie. and while totalitarian organisations will fight hard to draw a very clear line between homoscial and homoerotic (don’t ask, don’t tell), it is also interesting that critics of leni riefenstahls work do not like to admit this aspect of some of her films. it is kind of cute how to me it seems that everybody, for different reasons, wishes for a sanitized represantation of the physical: either to glorify it, or to condemn it. hardly anybody ever admits that it would be nice to explore these bodies of these burschen and mädels (of all races, mind you) with more then our eyes… again it seems rather irritating to admit that desire might transgress ideological lines. yes, we are back with – jean genet. is it allright to desire the political enemy? well, jean genet knew all along that politics are also always politics of desire…

and it is especially this aspect which shows up even more visible in one of the clearest examples of the appropriation of her work in pop culture. it is basically a cut up of snippets out of her movies. officially sanctioned by herself.

yeah, rammstein covering depeche mode to the images of riefenstahl. for me still a glorious moment of postmodernist pop culture. and rammstein are the perfect modern day example how desire just will not be acknowledged if it does not fit: using extensive homoerotic visuals in different ways, it is, when acknowledged, seen either as highly ironic, or as actually ridiculing fags. and the style always gets conflated with the question of the band being gay – which can not be, since they’re not doing gay music, right? but while i do find the question if the members of the band are gay or not not so interesting (not true: i do quite like the singer and his, hm, jaded physique. definitly interesting), i do find the occurence of a certain homoerotic, even -sexual aesthetic quite interesting. there is the crass explicitly sexual example (which by its lyrics always seems to me a reply / modern version to soft cell’s numbers), the somewhat odd example, by presenting a not so obvious choice of dominator. and then there is the downright irritating example which is somewhat lesser known – interesting enough this video is said to be one of their most controversial. hmmm…

i think what i want to get at is the idea that, although part of the fun of looking at the work of rammstein is their ambiguity, many videos allow for a reading that they try to install another gay aesthetic: a hard and sometimes cynic aesthetic, one that uses the vocabulary developed within totalitarian contexts. and here closes the circle again: while the homoerotic in leni riefenstahls work could be called “a necessary side effect”, to me it seems that it is an integral part, and it is an integral part, but rather as a starting point for the aesthetic of rammstein. and it is intersting that many reactions to both aesthetics are very similar in denying this element. where we are back at the seemingly annoying quality of desire, and especially this queer one to not respect drawn lines…

mb?

June 10, 2008

mb stands for memi beltrame. and memi beltrame does movies. nice movies. wicked movies. time he becomes famous….

so here an indication where he comes from – a documentary, him discussing with his mother his early experiences with film… yeah, the early exposure to fellini and herzog explains quite a lot.

for more movies by mister beltrame (be it about spaghettis, be it about the (too) perfect lover) you can go here.

enjoy!

and for more information and fan-mail please visit his website.

not only rock…

May 5, 2008

is about cock – hip hop keeps on talking about it endlessly, too. time to show it.

et hop! grrrr featuring big zis

March 3, 2008

GRRRR featuring Big Zis: Gib Mer

because…

January 17, 2008

because it is time for something…light now. and because i have to smile every time i see this video – the pairing of the two is just genius. and because both definitly know how to move their butts (eros is way underrated concerning his hip-movements). and because eros never looked so good (it’s the hair). and because i told n that the next post is for him. and because if you’ve read the preceeding post and now read the lyrics to their song, taking into account the persisting rumours concerning these two artists…wow. yeah, it is all context and subtext.

i got the lyrics off the net somewhere and made a fast & dirty translation – so accuracy might be not a hundred percent. so here the lyris to non siamo soli by eros ramazotti, featuring ricky martin:

Eros Ramazzotti – Non Siamo Soli (we are not alone)
(Feat. Ricky Martin)

Eros: E’ la voglia di cambiare la realtà,
Che mi fa sentire ancora vivo
E cercherò tutti quelli come me
Che hanno ancora un sogno in più…un sogno in più
(it is the will/desire to change reality that makes me feel still alive, and i will search for all these like me that still have a dream (more))

Ricky: Dentro un libro che nessuno ha scritto mai,
Leggo le istruzione della vita,
Anche se so che poi non le seguirò,
Farò ciò che sento…
(in a book nobody ever wrote, i’m reading the instruction of/for life, even if i know i can not follow them, i will make that i feel)

Rit.
Eros: Oltre le distanze, noi non siamo soli
Figli della stessa umanità
Anime viaggianti in cerca di ideali,
Il coraggio non ci mancherà
(beyond the distances, we are not alone, children of the same people/of humankind, travelling souls in search for ideals, we will not lack courage)

Supera I confini di qualunque ideologia, l’emozione che ci unisce in una grande idea
Un altro mondo possibile c’è
E lo cerco anch’io e lo voglio anch’io come te…
(i’ll exceed the confines of any ideology, the emotion that unites us in a great idea, another world is possible, and also i will search for it and also i want it like you)

Ricky: Nelle pagine lasciate in bianco noi,
Diamo spazio a tutti I nostri sogni
(on the pages left white, we give space to all of our dreams)

Eros: nessuno mai il futuro ruberà,
Dalle nostre mani…
(nobody ever will steal the future from our hands)

Rit.
Eros & Ricky: Oltre le distanze, noi non siamo soli
Senza più certezze e verità
Anime confuse, cuori prigionieri
Con la stessa idea di libertà…libertà
(beyond the distances we are not alone, without certainties and truth, confused souls, imprisoned hearts, with the same idea of freedom…freedom)

Eros & Ricky: Oltre le distanze, non siamo soli
L’incertezza non ci fermerà
(beyond the distances, we are not alone, the insecurity will not stop us)

Eros: Supera I confini, non conosce geografia l’emozione che ci unisce in una grande idea
(i’ll exceed the limitations, the emotion that unites us in a great idea does not know geography)

Ricky: Oltre le distanze noi non siamo soli, sempre in cerca della verità
(beyond the distances we are not alone, aleays in search of the truth)

Eros: Anime viaggianti, cuori prigionieri, con la stessa idea di libertà
(travelling souls, imprisoned hearts, with the same idea of liberty)

Un altro mondo possibile c’è e lo sto cercando insieme a te
(another world is possible and i search for it with you)

Eros: Anch’io con te
(also me with you)

Ricky: Insieme a me
(together with me)

Eros: E tu con me…
(and you with me)

see what i mean? looks like they are looking for their paradise – and we can assume it is not one you can buy… i wish them courage.

in the meantime enjoy their video to the song:

UPDATE II: UNFORTUNATELY YOU WILL HAVE TO GO DIRECTLY TO YOUTUBE TO VIEW IT. ALL VERSIONS AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE HAVE EMBEDDING DISABLED. ONE WONDERS (especially since it only seems to concern this particular video. hmmm…)

(update: interesting to note that for the official video (posted by “eros ramazotti” they disabled embedding – because of my post? well, luckily somebody else loaded it up to youtube, too…)

UPDATE, AGAIN:

reader participation! an alternative, better translation. thank you very much, bartolo!

We are not alone
The desire to change reality
makes me feel still alive,
and I will search for all these like me
that still have a dream more… a dream more
In a book nobody ever wrote,
I’m reading the instructions of life,
even if I know that then I won’t follow them,
I will do what I feel
Beyond the distances, we are not alone,
Sons of the same humankind,
Travelling souls in search for ideals,
We won’t lack courage
Exceed the confines of any ideology,
The emotion that unites us in a great idea, Another world is possible,
And I am looking for it too, and I want it like you too
On the pages left white,
We give space to all of our dreams
Nobody ever will steal the future
From our hands
Beyond the distances we are not alone,
Without certainties and truth,
Confused souls, imprisoned hearts,
With the same idea of freedom…freedom
Beyond the distances, we are not alone,
The insecurity will not stop us
Exceeds the limitations, the emotion that unites us in a great idea does not know geography
Beyond the distances we are not alone, always in search of the truth
travelling souls, imprisoned hearts,
with the same idea of liberty
Another world is possible and I am looking for it with you
Also me with you
Together with me
And you with me

et hop! the gangsta as the real whore

December 10, 2007

i mentioned in the “et hop! fight the power” post that one of the first two hip hop-records i bought was public enemy’s yo! bum rush the show. the other one was n.w.a.‘s 100 miles and running. yeah, another record with a lot of wumms. musically less screeching and more forward then public enemy, i was intrigued how hard and at the same time funky these beats were. and to a degree the whole vulgarity was quite , hmmm, exciting (there is a track teaching how to suck)? to give you an idea how that sounded at the time, here nwa‘s track 100 miles and running (and there is, odd enough, some trash-drag in it):

i never liked fuck tha police, though, that “hymn” n.w.a. is most known for. i actually hated it – less because of the song, but of the effects. suddenly you had in europe all these little kids moaning about “police brutality” and how unfairly society treated them – this all between having the mos luxurious brackets for their teeth, spenfing a vulgar amount of money on video games, getting higher education and spending their winter holidays skiing in switzerland. silly – and annoying. little did i know that they were somehow right – just read by what the song fuck that police was inspired by – here. so that was how gangsta hip hop for me was starting…

to mention, while we are writing about n.w.a., is that one member, dr. dre, became one of the most influental hip hop producers. all the other members made also successfull records as solo artists – and ice cube even made the transition to actor and played successfully in quite a number of movies. on a sadder note there is also a link to the post “aids and music”. eazy-e was the first (and to my knowledge the last – at least officially) hip hop musician that died of the consequences of aids.

so slowly hip hop not only was party and social commentary, but produced a subgenre which got extremly sucessfull – gangsta hip hop. the celebration of gangster life, of drugs, whores, and guns. luxury and living on the fast lane. while the early stuff like n.w.a. was somewhat juvenile, this style got more and more refined – and i got really into the so-called west coast sound. large music, very fat produced, ideal for the car. i did like ice cube (and saw a really good show of his), and was of course really impressed by the notorious big – hey, this was really over the top with a big budget – the video to his song hypnotize was really introducing a new level of slickness into music-videos.

and then there was, and very much still is, my favourite gangsta, snoop doggy dog. you have to adore him only for his hair. yes, i do have a very soft spot for men with plaits. and his song juice ‘n’ gin was a big favourite of mine at the time.

and well, snoop doggy dog has humour. something i started to miss more and more in the harder hip hop productions. i still believe that most gangsta hip hop is less inspired by what happens on the streets, but rather by all the mafia movies of the seventies and eighties – catholic glitz and that rather tribal understanding of your “family”, or gang, respectively. well, snoop doggy dog seemed to be rather inspired by blaxploitation – but not taking it too seriously. others took it very seriously – to the point where “eastcoast” and “westcoast” actually started to kill each other. somehow fantasy became brutal reality. for all you intellectuals: the symbolic had to appear in the real. the attempts to be “authentic” became deadly. yep, that became in my eyes one of the major problems of the gangsta’s: authenticity. and authenticity took on the function, “normal” is used in wider society (see the “virtually normal” post). gangsta hiphop suddenly became this extremly controlled space, where what was accepted and what not got rigorously controlled. all that made it less…fun.

it took all the humour, every ambiguity out of it and made innovation a rather difficult task. innovation on the lyrical level, that is. and well, bragging is fun – but also quickly tiring…

musically, it is interesting to observe that hip hop actually went the way of many mainstream genres: innovation is produced by a handfull of big name producers – the most important ones i guess are dr. dre, timbaland and the neptunes, i.e. chad hugo and pharrell williams. so we can get back to snoop dog – here together with pharell. i still find it a really great track. this radically stripped down aesthetic – musically as well as visually – love it. so here their hit drop it like its hot:

so for me one problem of gangsta hip hop is this fixation on authenticity. but then this is for me not only a problem in hip hop – folk for example constructs its authenticity also very often rather rigid – and it is sometimes driving me mad. if i hear another girl / boy with an acoustic guitar singing with “real honesty” totally silly, “personal” lines, i’m gonna, to cite björk “tickle them to death” or so… (n, you know what i’m talking about: if you were a sailboat!). the same is true for indie rock, heavy metal etc. etc.. i’m aware that authenticity always gets constructed according to certain rules – and sometimes i disagree with these rules, sometimes i do not understand them and sometimes i even suffer directly under them.

and here we are on the touchy subject of hip hop’s mysoginy, anitsemitism and homophobia. allright, it is a crass generalisation to say that this holds true for all hip hop – and as most gemeralisations also very untrue (which we already saw and will see in the coming posts). and hip hop is not the only musical genre where this occurs – but then i am not too much into heavy metal, redneck country or dancehall – so there it disturbs me less…by not listening to it i am not confronted with it. by listening to hip hop i am confronted with it, sometimes. and the other problem of insisting on authenticity is that criticism is not possible – if these lyrics are about ones “real self”, how can i criticize them? there are no grounds for it – except by attacking that person personally. so discussion about lyrics is suddenly not possible. yep, authenticity as a defence mechanism.

so i do not want to judge prematurely and also not judge a whole musical genre. but a lot what now seems to be taken today as “hip hop culture” seems to foster growth of this aggressivity towards certain social groups – it seems even to need it. music very often takes also the function to generate social groups. giving a sense of community. the problem comes when this construction of a community is based on excluding. yeah, we’ve come a long way since the zulu-nation.

and this is for me a rather important point. compared to the early techno-scene in europe, which (at least in theory) welcomed anyone that liked the music, gangsta hip hop is quick to exclude you if you don’t seem to fit as a person – by the looks, by your background, age, gender, sexual orientation. yeah, music can not only cross borders, it can also create borders…

well, gangsta hip hop had a certain downfall sometime in the mid, late nineties – but it came back with a vengeance and established itself as one of the bestselling genres in hip hop. that has certainly a lot to do with eminem (produced by dr. dre). and with the commercial rise of the gangsta, its cricism also became stronger. interesting with eminem i find that his line of defence against criticism accusing him of mysoginy and homophobia was that not he was saying this, but his evil alter ego slim shady. what i find funny is that by doing that, he should actually have stated (and somehwo did) that he is doing art – but i think that the demands for authenticity, for keeping it real, do not allow him to talk of his lyrics as art. as art it would loose its specific, individual authenticity.

the other most mentioned point in a critique of gangsta hip hop is its glorification of violence and its vulgarity. to a degree i find this somewhat naïve – sex and violence have always been topics in (popular) music culture. from francois villon to opera to johnny cash. the whole talk about the bad influence of this music on the youth of today seems somehow a little bit moldy. this kind of criticism has benn uttered so often in the course of history, it seems to me a little bit worn.

so i think most critique of gangsta hip hop falls short – be it by not fully analyzing it, be it because it is rather easy to scapegoat a musical genre for whatever malaise in society there is.don’t get me wrong – i do share the disgust of the rather stupid identity construction of many a hip hopper via a rather ridiculous masculinity. and i agree that it should not be accepted. but another point disturbs me at least as much. ft summed it up rather nicely: “although they talk all the time about their ho’s and whores and talk about / show females generally in degrading ways, for me the gangstas are the real whores.” so while there is this image of “public enemy number one” and the real thug, pretending to be anti-society, all these attitudes seem to be very well compatible with society. and these musicians drive also a development to see music purely as product. marketed to a target group. so i only have a tired smile left for anybody pretending that mainstream hip hop is “youth culture”. all it is is having youth as target audience. and as a rather telling symptom for me there were this year the mtv video awards: both (the american, as well as the european) looked not like an award show, but like the meeting of successful entrepreneurs in slick suits (what it actually is). so i guess the un-easyness of a lot of people with gangsta hip hop is its radical commercialisation – and not even (like other forms of popular (popular in the sense of mass-marketed) music) trying to mask it, but actually insisting on it. all while cynically making the product more appealling through violence and sex. nothing really new (we are back at the mafia and blaxploitation movies – or at tarantino, if you want) – but new in its forcefulness.

so for me hip hop is just the most obvious genre glorifiing a ruthless, competitive capitalism where everything and everybody is product, all the while exploiting the possibility of music to produce emotion and identification to make more bucks. and only that. well, i guess i am really a moralist. but then isn’t everybody who is a lover, be it only a music lover?

and then there is one point we might better think about: do we not get the music we deserve?

and this is the moment to send you over to the inspiring and excellent article in praise of assholes by greg tate, analysing the success of the two mega-selling artist 50 cent and kanye west.

to finish that post on a lighter note – all while showing how clear-sighted sometimes even a product can be one song by one of the few tough ladies, lil’ kim’s how many licks. you have to love it for this very postmodern idea of presenting herself as a kind of barbie doll (for adults, of course) in different editions, and having at the same time this extremly confident lyrics, well they just seem to be so…gay (and i know a really likes that one, too):

“How Many Licks”

[Sisqo]
Hold up
So what you’re saying is, oh
(Niggaz got me pissed like Lil’ Kim)
You want to get freaky again, aight
A-ooh-ah-ooh
Oh, oh, oh, oh

[Lil’ Kim]
I’ve been a lot of places, seen a lot of faces
Ah hell I even fuck with different races
A white dude – his name was John
He had a Queen Bee Rules tattoo on his arm, uh
He asked me if I’d be his date for the prom
and he’d buy me a horse, a Porsche and a farm
Dan my nigga from Down South
Used to like me to spank him and cum in his mouth
And Tony he was Italian (Uh-huh)
And he didn’t give a fuck (Uh-huh)
That’s what I liked about him
He ate my pussy from dark till the mornin
Called his girl up and told her we was bonin
Puerto Rican papi, used to be a Deacon
But now he be sucking me off on the weekend
And this black dude I called King Kong
He had a big ass dick and a hurricane tongue

[Sisqo]
So, how many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Cause I’ve got to know)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Tell me)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

[Lil’ Kim]
This verse goes out to my niggaz in jail
Beatin they dicks to the double-X-L; Magazine (uhh)
You like how I look in the aqua green? Get your Vaseline
Roll some weed with some tissue and close your eyes
Then imagine your tongue in between my thighs
[*Moans*] Baby.. ohh.. yes ohh!
Jailer.. open up.. cell, block, eight
[*sexual sounds*]
Alright nigga, that’s enough
Stop, look and listen; get back to your position
Kim got your dick hard, startin fights in the yard
Hotter than a Pop Tart fresh out of the toaster
Niggaz do anything for a Lil’ Kim poster
Eses, Bloods, Crips, all the thugs
Up North in the hole, they all wanna know

[Sisqo]
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Tell me, ha)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Tell me, oh yeah)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh, oh, oh)

[Lil’ Kim]
If you drivin in the street, hold on to your seat
Niggaz, grab your meat while I ride the beat
And if you see a shiny black Lamborghini fly by ya
(Shoom!) That’s me the Knight Rider
Dressed in all black with the gat in the lap
Lunatics in the street – gotta keep the heat
Sixty on the bezel, a hundred on the rings
Sittin pretty baby with a Cash Money bling
12 A.M. I’m on the way to club
After three bottles I’ll be ready to fuck
Some niggaz even put me on their grocery lists
Right next to the whip cream and box of chocolates
Designer pussy, my shit come in flavors
High-class taste niggaz got to spend paper
Lick it right the first time or you gotta do it over
Like it’s rehearsal for a Tootsie commercial

[Sisqo]
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Tell me, ha)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Tell me, oh yeah)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh, oh, oh)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Tell me)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Let me know, let me know)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh yeah)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Yeah)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Baby tell me)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?
(Oh, oh, oh)
How many licks does it take till you get to the center of the?


aids and music

November 30, 2007

yeah, we introduced the topic aids and music already with the post “i’ve got you under my skin”. and today is world aids day. hm, somehow i don’t want to comment on that topic right now.

but i have seen that j d doyle of queer music heritage made in november a radio show (of three hours) to the topic of songs referring to aids. queer music heritage is a fantastic, i repeat fantastic website with a lot to discover on it. i have to admit that i am still discovering a lot of unkown music there. and i have already planned to refer to some of his shows in coming posts.

so if you would like to listen to this show, go here. the general link to his website is www.queermusicheritage.us. just be warned – he makes a show every month since seven years…

then there are two songs he did not play on this show (there are quite a lot of other songs one could have played – but then diamanda galas is not exactly radiofriendly, huh?), but which are for me somehow essential songs dealing with aids – and were at the time important for me also because of this context. the first one is a rather obvious choice, it’s one by u2. not the new version (which i do not like), but the old one. although there has been a strange story not about the song, but about the first video (there are three in total), done by anton corbijn, usually called the berlin-video. soon after its release it has been pulled again – there was some official statement at mtv that the band was worried that showing them in drag would give a wrong idea of the personality of the band members… errr, what? well, i haven’t seen that particular video around for a while, but thanks to youtube we can watch it again. and yes, it is a very fine song. and for me it is about aids…

and now to a lesser known song, a song i already cried to. one of jimmy sommerville finest’s. for a friend from the communards album red. have a – good? bad? mourningful? – aids day…

i’ve got you under my skin

November 30, 2007

listening to peggy lee, more precise to the cole porter song i’ve got you under my skin, reminded me of i’ve got you under my skin – but of the version by neneh cherry. and n had to admit that he has never heard her version and has never seen the very beautiful video by jean-baptiste mondino. great stuff. so here it is.

this version by neneh cherry comes from the sampler red hot + blue. the title refers to a cole porter musical and is a record full of cole porter songs by different artists. this sampler – reissued last year with all the videos included – has been the first release of the red hot organisation – an organisation raising awarenes and funds for the fight against aids. they put out an interesting series of compilations, which are from the quality of the music presented way above most benefit samplers. for more information please visit their website here.

then – neneh cherry is making music again – this time with a band called cirKus – their website you’ll find here.

and jean-baptiste mondino’s website is here.

and the here the website of kd lang – this because we conclude this post with another excerpt of the red hot + blue sampler, kd lang’s beautiful version of so in love:

more fassbinder: lili marleen ost

November 23, 2007

i just found it this week – and i’m quite excited having found it. it’s the soundtrack to the movie lili marleen by r. w. fassbinder. so to share my excitement and to show off my find i decided to put it up here.

frontsmall4.jpeg

the movie tells the story of a popular singer in the second world war – loosely based on the biography of the woman that made the song lili marleen famous, lale andersen. sung by many others in many languages since, with this record you get a german and an english version sung by hanna schygulla. what else do you get? well, have a look at the tracklist:

A1 Lili Marleen (german version)*
A2 Theme Willie – Part I
A3 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
A4 Got A Bran’ New Suit*
A5 Ouvertüre
A6 English Valse
A7 Theme Willie – Part II
B1&B2 In Einem Polenstädtchen/O Du Schöner Westerwald-Veronika Der Lenz Ist Da
B3 Theme Willie – Part III
B4 Theme Willie – Part IV
B5 Willie’s Valse
B6 Abschiedsmelodie
B7 Theme Willie – Part V
B8 Lili Marleen (english version)*

Peer Raben Orchestra
* sung by Hannah Schygulla

so most are instrumental tracks – short bits, actually. then there is to note that the tracklist (taken from the label) differs from the tracklist on the cover (which has obviously some mistakes). and track B1&B2 segue into each other.

ripped@224 from vinyl – you can get it here.

for more information about the song and its fascinating history you can either visit wikipedia or google it – if you want to have a listen to some other versions you can go here.

for a synopsis of the movie in german, french, english you can visit the fassbinder foundation.

rewind: kenneth anger – at jockohomo datapanic

November 9, 2007

scorp8.jpg

i was (and still am) not really happy with my earlier post on kenneth anger. i felt like i will have to do something more informative one day. but i don’t have to – others do it better. and it gives me a good occasion to introduce you to another fine blog: jockohomo datapanic.

a gay blog covering a wide range of topics. from the more personal stuff to wrestling to banksy to manga to art to music to design and more. always a good read and also great for its many links – a recommended resource (and he seems to have facial hair – so doubly recommended)!

so here the link to jockohomo datapanic.

and here the direct link to his kenneth anger post.

enjoy!

et hop! hick hop

November 9, 2007

Hick Hop

If you grow up in a town where they don’t have subway trains you have to find something else to graffiti.

It’s not as easy as it sounds because most subway train drivers don’t wander around with shotguns.” (banksy)

hickhop.jpg

in europe, information about rap-music / hip hop was not easy to get. what you heard was the commercially successfull stuff. if you were lucky, you catched one of the early crews touring europe. or you had a friend coming back from the states bringing back some music and telling you about this new thing. but there was no internet, and the (music) press was somehow reluctant to pick that style up – or unsure about how to cover it.

wildstyle.jpg

as i mentioned, the first to put hip hop in a social context, to promote it as a specific culture was for me the zulu nation. but it is interesting to note that there was something, that by most first generation hip hoper’s always gets referenced as a kind of “initiation” to hip hop culture, establishing also the four pillars of hip hop culture: breakdancing, rapping, graffiti, scratching. the “thing” was the movie wild style.

i’ve seen the movie somewhat later and was not that impressed at the time – but that is already a very long time ago and i haven’t seen it since. but now is a good occassion to re-visit that movie again: the 25 years special edition has just been published. so for anybody interested in one of the important cultural artefacts to promote hip hop-culture worldwide this is certainly of interest.

for more information visit the official homepage.

wavetwisters.jpeg

fast forward to 2001:

“The hero of Wave Twisters the Movie is the Inner Space Dental Commander, a cross between Luke Skywalker, David Carradine, and the family dentist, who must fulfill his destiny by reviving the “Lost Arts” (i.e., the four pillars of hip-hop culture: breaking and MC’ing, rapping, graffiti, and, most importantly, skratching). To do so, he and his posse (the mischievous medical droid, Rubbish, his lovely assistant and comrade-at-arms, Honey, and B-Boy Grandpa, the last surviving link to a bygone era when the Arts flourished) battle their way through an increasingly surreal collection of villains, pitfalls, and booby-traps. Among the villains are an elite corps of turntable warriors, played by key members of the Invisible Skratch Piklz: QBert, Yogafrog, and D-Styles plus DJ Flare. Their electrifying performances blaze a path of destruction which stands between the Dental Commander and his final showdown with Lord Ook, the evil mastermind behind the plot to suppress and control the Lost Arts throughout “inner space”.”

contrary to wild style, the movie wave twisters blew me away. music and image are intertwined in the most intricate ways and the whole thing is utterly mad – in a very good way. or as the official blurb says:

“Wave Twisters The Movie (WTM) is an eye-popping, hip-hop-meets-Hanna-Barbera, animated adventure synched skratch for skratch with DJ QBert’s turntable masterpiece of the same name. Each track of QBert’s original album was designed to provide the audio framework for another chapter in this sci-fi/kung-fu epic; every aspect of the story, music, sound effects even dialogue has been accounted for and seamlessly integrated into QBert’s original musical compositions.
WTM gives visual expression to QBert’s narrative while pioneering the concept of visual skratching; sampling from a wide variety of techniques (from traditional cell animation to 3D to live action to photo collage), WTM defines a unique visual style analogous to the supercharged cutting and skratching of a turntable DJ. WTM catapults the bar on the correspondence between sound and image, taking the Fantasia concept to the next, dizzying level. When the music says, “Jump!” the animation asks, “How high?”

well, nothing more i can add, especially since in this case seeing is believing. therefore i highly recommend you see for yourself.

the official page for the movie does not exist anymore, but you can visit dj qbert’s homepage.

rangoon moon

October 28, 2007

and continuing the association game there is this super reduced video – one take, no camera movement – not much movement at all. totally low budget, but also totally working. if i remember correctly the moma new york even has it in his collection…

it’s rangoon moon by double – yes, R is going to like that, i hope. they were a swiss band, rising to international fame with their interesting brand of lounge-pop in the 1980s. for a detailed biography please visit their website doublecity.

here the video: