killing denouement

londonistan calling
January 14, 2009, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
This is from last time I was in London. I hear it’s minus 10, which sounds less than stellar. The weather’s pretty inclement in the dxb too, all rattlley storms and apparently gale force winds? But soon, nyc!

only anarchists are beautiful?
January 11, 2009, 12:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

These are things that are glinty and chintzy pretty, as everything else I’m seeing right now is, in the immortal words of TLC, damn unpretty. I reckon Ryan Paris’ classic italo cut replete with its lovely figure-8 rollerskating falls into this category, and maybe old Roxette and Cyndi Lauper too. I love that the video’s already faded to ice creamlike pastelisation by itself. Today I found out they were actually not Dutch but Swedish? Perhaps my childhood (or at least early musical indoctrination) was a lie? At least there’s still Whigfield for superfrothy nostalgic vibes though.


solidarity forever? (كلنا فلسطين؟ او كلنا غزه؟)

What does it mean to say ‘we are all Palestinian’, or ‘we are all Gaza‘? (And for many now, ‘we are all Hamas‘ – is this a popular semantic de-bantustanising?) Because we’re not. I really don’t know what I understand by the concept of solidarity anymore. There’s different forms and gradations, sure, ranging from statements and Facebook updates, to protests, boycotts and direct action, perhaps all the way to using your passport privilege to plant yourself in front of an Israeli or Mexican tank or bulldozer. And not to knock or denigrate that in any way, but I wonder if there can be real solidarity until you’re standing at either end of a gun? Or perhaps solidarity must instead be defined by its very passive nature – of relative privilege and thus allyship – always in solidarity but never in the struggle? (With an emphasis on the relative as opposed to absolute, tied to [blank] oppression – there’s of course cross-solidarity between differently oppressed peoples).

Maybe this is stemming from frustration, at being in Dubai-not-DC tomorrow, at lacking the aforementioned passport privilege and protection that my decidedly not navy blue passport will never afford. (If you’re not Rachel Corrie, that is). Thinking of the ‘we are all’ standard phrasing though, where does it come from? I can’t seem to find out, though there are suggestions of it coming from Paris 1968, with the denizens of the Quartier Latin’s slogan, “We are all German Jews” in solidarity with the banned Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Or maybe it comes from anti-Nazi peace activist Rev. Martin Niemöller’s famous statement?

MORE.. [graphic warning]

promises of textual healing

Another week, another Fugazi Friday. This one is about words, words and expressions, as the song Promises from their 1989 Margin Walker EP (and the compilation 13 Songs) goes. This was the first Fugazi album I ever heard, and the sweet intro of Waiting Room coincided wonderfully with learning to play bass, coincidently also age 13. It’s not actually that hard but I remember being crazyproud when I finally nailed it. I didn’t actually realise it was a compilation album until probably a few years later – as with, perhaps embarrassingly, the Cure’s Galore. The song Promises can anyway be found audibly here, and also, adorably, here with this video from sometime in 1988 in DC. Having just begun to recover from the doom that was Intro to Linguistics, I’m not so much a fan of words and their phonological microcomponents right now. I still like words on walls though, and words on the street and on signs, so here’s ten for today, with what is probably a shockngly accurate characterisation of my headspace right now. The signage of Fraday I’m in love’ might be the best thing I have seen all week?

MORE: we speak the way we breathe

glamming up the IDF

Is this the new face of war? It’s no secret that the Israeli Defense Forces could probably do with a PR boost these days. Their solution? A new glammed up self-refreshing banner on their english language website, featuring a slew of sexy soldier femme-fatale types, smiling and pouting at the camera, sometimes in fields of red flowers. Some of them look almost editorial, replete with artfully smudged warpaint, and the kind of careful dustings of grainy sand that you most often find in swimwear shoots. The image above is particularly striking, with its sweeping bullets and row of machine gun ammunition. Out of context, I would personally find it very difficult to identify the bullets as anything but jumbo crayon oversized sticks of kohl, perhaps the shimmery highlight kind. Sex sells, sure, but can it really sell occupation and massacre?


is gaza genocide? darfur, palestine and the politics of naming

Is Gaza a genocide; is Darfur a genocide? Where do you draw the lines between ‘land conflict’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and genocide’, and what are the political value(s) of doing so? And how does something get designated as genocide anyway – is it, legally, only when the ICC at the Hague says so?

These are a couple of things I’ve been thinking through lately, having just taken a fairly broad based intro course with Mahmood Mamdani, which ended by looking at Darfur. To be fair, his somewhat controversial views did not come out explicitly in lecture, but having looked them up, I found myself agreeing, at least in part. With Darfur, as with Palestine I admittedly know only smidgens of the context from what I have read, but even in a vacuum, there’s value in the consideration that naming something a ‘conflict’ or ‘genocide’ has very real political affects. (The above is a real ad by the way, not a culturejam riff on Miranda July as I first thought. It ran in the New York Times Magazine, on April 10, 2008).

It’s especially interesting then as I just wrote a paper on said politics of naming in both Darfur and Palestine. (And ‘interesting’ is such a strange go-to-in-order-to-highlight word, one that I awkwardly cycle with ‘fascinating’, and even the aggrandising ‘significant’. Because it is not strange, but indeed heart wrenching and what else can you do in powerlessness but a detatched and masqued quasi-academic commentary?

more… (a lot!)

laura keeble and ZEVS liquidate globalisation

Another globalisation is possible? Probably not. This however is North Road Cemetary, in Southend, England, and it just might be where the phenomenon goes to die. Or rather three of its MNC markers – Macdonalds, Nike, and perhaps unusually, Chanel. The artist in question, Laura Keeble, based the project on “theory of magical thinking, looking at belief systems and idol worship”. She says that it plays with the viewers perception, hopefully creating a pause for thought. I can certainly think of people who indeed positively worship at the altar of the now iconic interlinked Cs, but Macdonalds? It’s nice that it can be read in so many ways though.

When I see it I for example tend to immedately think of corporate imperialism and globalisation, as opposed to maybe aspirational-luxe goods. The markers are at the same time a jolting reminder of just how far brand recognition has permeated into our collective cultural consciousness. These symbols are obviously among the most recognisable, but you’d probably be surprised as to just how many others you recognise – take the corporate logo-d flag, for example.


tufts versus blue cross

This new mural in Salamanca, Spain is pretty sick. And there’s more sickness – of the not so positive kind – brewing in Boston, where Tufts Medical Centre will break with Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurance provider, over doctor pay. That is, Tufts says that Blue Cross refuses to pay their doctors a “reasonable rate”. My first thought is – how much more can they want? I don’t know specific wage breakdowns, but doctors presumably already earn a whole lot more than the average person, who most likely can’t even afford insurance in the first place. Those left in the lurch by this announcement meanwhile have a couple of weeks to scramble, and choose between changing hospitals or changing providers. If they can even afford to keep their insurance going these days, that is. It’s a little hard to reconcile with wanting to support fair wages – yet do these even exist for doctors?


the military, the media and class analysis uber alles
So the US Army’s trying video games to prop up its flailing recruitment numbers in urban areas now. This adds an interesting dimension to the question of whether videogames glorify violence? The Army certainly seems to think so, probably with some pretty solid research before theypour their dollars into it, not to mention consolidating three recruitment centres into this one. I wonder how they can spin this though – killing people is easy, just click this button; killing people is engaging, stimulating, fun? It would be interesting to see a video/interactive game try stimulating something like PTSD, if that can even be done. On the tail end of the recent NROTC debacle, it would have been nice to have had some of these figures beforehand, though:

“The Army recruited 80,517 active personnel in the fiscal year that ended in October, slightly surpassing its goal of 80,000, though as in recent years it fell below its goal of having 90 percent of recruits be high school graduates.”

This blog-essay by danah boyd (I like that she too lower-cases her name) Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace is pretty fascinating,, especially with regards to the military, and the way it plays out with Facebook and Myspace

more more more

destroy 2000 years of culture

Atari Teenage Riot got me into harder electronic music in general, and specifically the hyperpolitical and the deliciously breaky and glitchy. Here began the wanting to live in Berlin one day (it’ll happen one day, perhaps in a huge wave like the original Potluck House?). And along with it, Alec Empire and digital hardcore, the DHR label and my second start-you-own-label personal hero (the first being of course, Ian MacKaye). I don’t know how many times Ive linked this video of the 1999 Mayday riots in Berlin, but here’s the same song, with a sick video to boot. Today’s images are a little darker and more macabre, then. From this interview, with regards to their quote that “Riot sounds produce riots”:

‘destroy 2000 years of culture’ is an ATR song from the 90s, but so applicable today no?


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