Monday, January 31, 2011

A Brazilian Lullaby

All things converged after seeing Waste Land over the concept of American exceptionalism.

I lay in bed awash with the random blast of thoughts related, I suppose, to some sort of AADD -- the adult version of attention deficit. I thought of Pele and Rush Limbaugh, of Tim Maia and Wolf Blitzer, of Brazil and the United States.  I even thought of old musical friend Allyson Royster, Lucas Pagano, and Papichi, a South Miami restaurant recommended to me by the then 13 year-old Brazilian. It made perfect sense and none at all at the same time. It got better, or crazier.

The Sunday New York Times included an article about 24 hours in Lisbon while I listened to a mix called Alma Doce: Brasilian Sweet Soul followed by a hip-hop DJ Nuts/Arthur Verocai set.

Needing closure, this is where it lands: Vik Muniz who lives in Brooklyn and was born in Sao Paolo, is the subject of Waste Land; he showered massive love toward those working in the world’s largest landfill near Rio. City of God’s Fernando Meirelles is the Executive Producer of the documentary (whatever that entails). Somebody decided to use music by Moby. (good move) Lucy Walker directed one of the most uplifting experiences I have witnesed, the screening I saw ending with an audience ovation. (heartfelt) It’s about art, materialism, and dignity.

This is 21st century exceptionalism -- something borderless yet rooted within borders, proud of its ethnicity yet blurry because it has long since crossed boundaries.

Political discussions, political blogs, political TV, and political desperation will have one believe that there is something called American exceptionalism. They are speaking code about Ronald Reagan, trapped in something which knows little about anything but clever ploys to gain control. I am not mad at them; they are angry at something.

There is exceptionalism, and sometimes it is American. Vik Muniz is a Brazilian born, Brooklyn residing example, and the forerunner of what is to come if we are lucky. You could say that those who are exceptional represent a change, but you would be far too late or poorly traveled.

Here is a soundtrack before screening, during research, or while preparing Bobó de Camarão:

Brooklyn: Youngblood Brass Band
City Dump: Dyke and the Blazers
Junkyard Jewel: Maya Azucena
Let Love Rule: Lenny Kravitz
Harvest for the World: Isley Brothers
Everybody Loves the Sunshine: Seu Jorge and Almaz
A Better World (For Everyone): Ernie Hines
Song of the Wind: Gil Scott-Heron
Crying Every Night: Stranger Cole
Farewell to the Welfare: Wendell Harrison
Love in a Trashcan: The Raveonettes
Gostava Tanto de Voce: Tim Maia

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Out in the Streets There Is Violence

It is said that if one shakes the carbonated bottle, the top may blow. And so the theory goes, we had better not shake that bottle. We make sure the bottle does not move, so the top does not blow, so that we do not get wet.

But the world turns, the bottle moves, and the top has blown. Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Dictator/President has sat on top of an authoritarian bottle for 30 years while we have looked the other way, often at Fidel Castro, and never at Saudi Arabia. Now he may be about to get his.

Aside from this, when you watch any of the clips, there are no women on the streets. No Woman, No Cry? I don't think so! There is a lot to process here.

The top has blown in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Yemen, and in Algeria. What's next?

A Soulful Soundtrack for the Tragedy:

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Gil Scott-Heron
The Breakdown Part 1 and Part 2: Rufus Thomas
Love Attack: The Persuaders
Everybody Gotta Learn Sometime: Beck
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death: The Salem Travelers
Killing Me Softly: Roberta Flack
Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards: Lou Bond
Psycho Killer: Talking Heads
Electric Avenue: Eddy Grant
War: Bob Marley
We've Got to Make a Change: Mickey & the Soul Generation
Thin Line Between Love and Hate: Persuasions
I Say a Little Prayer: Dionne Warwick
Freedom: Build an Ark
Stop the War, Now: Edwin Starr
What the World Needs Now is Love: Jackie De Shannon
Never Again: Remedy
Peace Go With You, Brother: Gil Scott-Heron

Friday, January 28, 2011

Early in the Morning, Before You Eat Your Breakfast, You Gotta Get Down

For some unknown reason, with this old song ringing mercilessly in my ears, a kind of funk renaissance has echoed in my head ever since I saw Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen. Unfortunately, I missed it at MDC's Tower Theater on Calle Ocho, but I did catch it at UM's Cosford. If you missed it on the big rectangle, I don't know if it will complete the suburban trinity and be screened in the future at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, but if not, you can select option four and watch it at home on Netflix. No matter how you feel about the film, the soundtrack is beautiful. That's where we need to go.

When I was little, I first heard Funky Broadway by Dyke and the Blazers. I remember friends doing the dance, and with a little prodding, encoragement, or lubrication, I could probable to the pre-AARP version today. Wilson Pickett covered it as well. Now I'm distracted by memories of Otis Redding singing Try a Little Tenderness. Good stuff!

Check out the soundtrack -- Dyke, Bogaloo Joe Jones, Kool and the Gang, Quincy Jones, and supercool Syl Johnson among others. Then, one day we'll talk about the music from 24 Hour Party People or This is England.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beauty and a Beast or Two

President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech last night, and I was impressed if not riveted. Certain suggestions are obvious -- we need to think ahead. All the transportation suggestions make perfect sense to anyone who has ever been out of the country; those who haven't cannot see how much better the European infrastructure is. All the solar stuff makes perfect sense. Seeing the reaction of the three Caucasian generals as the prez spoke of Don't Ask Don't Tell was hilarious -- old dinosaurs. Watching Jackass John McCain applaud the earmark veto threat was hilarious; what a phony chameleon. These suggestions are no-brainers, but the economics more complicated.

When I heard that Michele Bachmann would deliver the Tea Party Caucus response, I turned off the TV and went to bed. She is a lying fool.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Okay, so -- where should we begin?

I ate well this morning -- Organic O's, pepitas, sunflower seeds, plain Stonyfield Farm 2%, raw cashews, honey, and Organic Valley milk.

I played Gene West's In The Ghetto. He later became Barry White.

I thought about designing a new single speed.

I read about Herzog & de Meuron's new Miami Beach parking garage in the New York Times.

That's enough, isn't it?