Feb 28, 2007

The Wayward Cloud

The Saddest Music in the World
Dir. Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan

By Michael Koresky, posted on Reverseshot

through an otherworldly, almost dreamlike logic. The opening images, of Lee Kang-sheng finger-fucking a halved watermelon compressed between a naked woman’s legs, its juices splashing all over the bed in merciless red puddles, prepare the audience for a queasy trip, and Tsai doesn’t disappoint. Tsai has said that he intended to make a film that was very explicitly about pornography, and the porn industry in Taiwan: Lee Kang-sheng, Tsai’s stoic eternal muse, this time doffs all to display his increasingly muscular physique (seemingly gone is the wiry disaffected teen of Rebels of the Neon God) as porn actor Hsiao-Kang, living in the same building as Shiang-chyi Chen‘s introverted young woman, named, naturally, Shiang-chyi. As with the blackout-sketch setup of Vive l’amour (which nevertheless dwindles into ever more profound depths of melancholy discontent). the film flirts with a delicate romantic comedy structure—we secretly hope these lost souls will find each other. Tsai even ups the ante by homaging, of all things, Annie Hall, when the two deal with a case of runaway crabs that just won’t stay in the boiling pot. This precarious balance of the comic and the calamitous isn’t new to Tsai, and the darkness to which The Wayward Cloud descends only has its equal in the final moments of The River, which devised a way for a father and son to unknowingly engage in consensual, neck-wrenched, steam-room sex. Believe it or not, Tsai goes even further here into the horrors of body invasion, using pornography as an incisive launching pad to explore all types of social exploitation. Never has Tsai seemed so angry, which also may account for the film’s odd tonal imbalance.

Interspersed with the nasty sex, masturbation, and watermelon engorging (water is short yet melons are apparently bountiful) are a series of increasingly absurd lip-synched musical sequences, the first involving Lee Kang-sheng transforming into a melancholy mer-man caterwauling at the moon; the final outfitting Lee with a huge penis hat as he maniacally dances around a grungy bathroom with a bevy of Busby Berkeley-esque pink bikini-clad girls in inverted scarlet bucket-hats and clutching blue toilet plungers. Obviously, it’s hit or miss, but how can this balls-to-the-wall stuff work any other way? The balance of the gorgeous and the grotesque is best expressed when Yi Ching-Lu, another Tsai mainstay, gets splooge sprayed across her face by Lee (who, ickily, has often played her son in Tsai’s previous films). Suddenly, we cut to her musical mindscape, a sultry, evocatively lit Kander & Ebb-esque Spider Woman number, entrancingly set in a garage; following her is a cobwebby bunch of male dancers in black unitards, leashed and under her spell. German expressionist, Fosse-esque…whatever you want to call it, it’s a dazzler and a creative apex for Tsai.

If the method to all this madness seems a little hard to decipher, then the final 20 minutes are a terrifying crystallization. The mild courting between Lee and Chen finally intersects with the pervasive sexual exploitation going on upstairs. Yet Tsai’s final, truly shocking images are not bolstered by casual moralizing; rather, we realize we’ve been watching the literal deterioration of a civilization. It’s in the face of Chen Shiang-chyi, and her growing moral awareness, that Tsai finds his emotional outlet. In one of the film’s sole moving shots (if not the only one, but only a second viewing can corroborate this), the camera creeps ever closer to her horrified face as she watches a particularly nasty porn scenario being enacted on the other side of a windowed wall. Her witnessing isn’t voyeurism as much as it is coming to terms with social decline (which she had been staving off through out the rest of the film, endlessly re-filling bottled water and hoarding melons). Here there is no way to reclaim what’s been lost; her head becomes nearly literally impaled on a penis. Nearly dystopic in its portrait of decline, The Wayward Cloud shows Tsai giving up a little restraint. It may be slightly out of control, but the mess suits Tsai well.

Does Bush Know What Neocon Means?That isn't a rhetorical question.

Bahman sent me this a few days ago
Current events, news, politics, culture, and more from Slate Magazine

Near the end of his new book, Rumsfeld: His Rise, His Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy—an unfriendly but persuasive portrait of the former secretary of defense—journalist Andrew Cockburn relates a story about an encounter between Bush père et fils that I put in the category "remarkable if true." It is August 2004, and the president is taking time off from his re-election campaign to visit his parents at their summer house in Kennebunkport, Maine. Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to the elder Bush, and also a public critic of the younger Bush, has written the president a memo on Iraq. Scowcroft has asked the father to give this memo to the son. Bush père uses Dubya's visit as an occasion to do so. I'll let Cockburn take it from here:

The president glanced at it disdainfully for a few seconds before tossing it aside, reportedly with the words "I'm sick and tired of getting papers from Brent Scowcroft telling me what to do, and I never want to see another one again." With that, he exited, slamming the door behind him.

This part of the story could very easily be true and wouldn't be all that remarkable if it were; there's very little love lost between Scowcroft and the president. But then Cockburn continues:

Notwithstanding this episode, Bush 43 still sometimes drew on his father's wide knowledge of the world. Though he refused to read newspapers, he was aware of criticism that his administration had been excessively beholden to a particular clique, and wanted to know more about them. One day during that holiday, according to friends of the family, 43 asked his father, "What's a neocon?"

"Do you want names, or a description?" answered 41.


"Well," said the former president of the United States, "I'll give it to you in one word: Israel."

Let's set aside the question of whether it's fair to describe neocons as caring only about Israel. (My own view is that it would have been unfair, and possibly anti-Semitic, 20 years ago, but that the neocon agenda has since dwindled to such an extent that by now it's an acceptable shorthand, if slightly risqué.) Instead, let's focus on the anecdote's suggestion that as recently as two and a half years ago, the president of the United States didn't know what neocon meant.

Can this possibly be true?

Cockburn is a good reporter who has covered national security for decades. He wouldn't make it up. He writes that he got this anecdote from "friends of the family," which means multiple sources—probably not eyewitnesses, but rather people who heard the story from the elder Bush or (more likely) from Scowcroft. Scowcroft is a very close friend to Bush père, making it plausible that he would have heard about the conversation between father and son. And because Scowcroft is close to Bush père, one can easily imagine that two other people who would have heard the story (third-hand) from Scowcroft would also be friends of the elder Bushes.

When someone is as uncurious as George W. Bush, it's easy to underestimate what he knows. A friend of mine tells the story of discussing the income tax with the president early in his administration and, after using the term progressive, acting on the impulse to explain to the president what, in that context, progressive means. "I know what progressive means," the president snarled back, irritated that anyone would think him so ignorant. ("How was I supposed to know what he knows and what he doesn't?" my friend says in self-defense.) With that lesson in mind, let's proceed cautiously.

It's possible that Bush fils was not asking Bush père to define a term whose meaning was unfamiliar to him, but rather inviting a ruminative conversation about the category's proper parameters. If Irving Kristol were to ask me, "What's a neocon?", he wouldn't be demonstrating ignorance of the term's meaning. He'd be initiating a lively give-and-take about the movement's nature and evolution. The problem with this interpretation, though, is that ruminative conversations really aren't Dubya's style (nor his father's, as his terse answer makes clear). The president is the kind of guy who, if he asked you what neo-Platonism was, would expect a simple declarative sentence and, if you went on longer than a sentence, would wander out of the room.

It is not possible, I think, that the younger Bush would be asking his father to define a word he'd only just heard for the first time, like gardyloo or chalcedony. It isn't possible to work in the White House and never encounter the word neocon. It is just barely possible, though, that neocon could be, for Bush, one of those words you hear all the time and keep meaning to look up but somehow never get around to, or that you look up again and again but whose meaning you can never seem to remember. (I'm that way with eleemosynary. I pray that doesn't mean I lack a charitable nature.) Moreover, throughout the current administration, I've had the experience again and again of learning some new fact that indicated life in the White House was much worse than I'd previously allowed myself to believe.

Is it true that Bush didn't know what neocon means? I don't know. But if it is true, that's astonishing.

Feb 26, 2007


Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
Issue of 2007-03-05
Posted 2007-02-25


In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.............


The Administration’s effort to diminish Iranian authority in the Middle East has relied heavily on Saudi Arabia and on Prince Bandar, the Saudi national-security adviser. Bandar served as the Ambassador to the United States for twenty-two years, until 2005, and has maintained a friendship with President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. In his new post, he continues to meet privately with them. Senior White House officials have made several visits to Saudi Arabia recently, some of them not disclosed.

Last November, Cheney flew to Saudi Arabia for a surprise meeting with King Abdullah and Bandar. The Times reported that the King warned Cheney that Saudi Arabia would back its fellow-Sunnis in Iraq if the United States were to withdraw. A European intelligence official told me that the meeting also focussed on more general Saudi fears about “the rise of the Shiites.” In response, “The Saudis are starting to use their leverage—money.”

In a royal family rife with competition, Bandar has, over the years, built a power base that relies largely on his close relationship with the U.S., which is crucial to the Saudis. Bandar was............

Read the full article on The New Yorker

Feb 24, 2007

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Andre Berne-Joffroy, Paul Valéry’s secretary: "What begins in the work of Caravaggio is, quite simply, modern painting."

from the ago.net

known by the name of his northern Italian hometown of "Caravaggio," was one of the most revolutionary artists of the 17th century. He began his career as a painter of genre with pictures of gypsies, musicians, card players, still lifes and portraits, but quickly developed into the most powerful religious artist of his age.

The major impetus on Caravaggio's art was the artistic principles articulated as a result of the Counter-Reformation. Art was to act as a media for propaganda and its depictions of biblical stories, and figures were to be realistic, in direct contrast to the idealistic style during the Renaissance. His paintings were vivid and his bold naturalistic style, which emphasized the common humanity of the apostles and martyrs, suited the aspirations of the Counter-Reformation church. Caravaggio's dramatic use of light and shadow, a technique called chiaroscuro, and his placing of figures directly in the foreground was revolutionary, and his works attracted a large following from all over Europe. His artistic influence was pervasive throughout the century, particularly on such artists as Rembrandt and Velazquez.


At age 24 Caravaggio was commissioned to paint for the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. In its Contarelli Chapel, Caravaggio's realistic naturalism first fully appeared in three scenes he created of the life of St. Matthew. The works caused public outcry, however, because of their realistic and dramatic nature.


Despite violent criticism, Caravaggio's reputation grew and he began to be envied. He had many encounters with the law during his stay in Rome and was imprisoned for several assaults and for killing an opponent after a disputed score in a game of court tennis. Caravaggio fled the city and kept moving between hiding places. When he reached Naples, probably early in 1607, he painted there for a time, awaiting a pardon by the Pope.


Early in 1608 Caravaggio went to Malta and was received as a celebrated artist. Fearful of imprisonment, he continued to flee for two more years, but his paintings of this time were among the greatest of his career. After receiving a pardon from the Pope, he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned for two days, at which time a boat that was to take him to Rome left without him, taking his belongings. Misfortune, exhaustion and illness overtook him as he helplessly watched the boat depart. He collapsed on the beach and died a few days later on July 18, 1610.

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The Caravaggisti (from wikipedia)

The installation of the St. Matthew paintings in the Contarelli Chapel had an immediate impact among the younger artists in Rome, and Caravaggism became the cutting edge for every ambitious young painter. The first Caravaggisti included Giovanni Baglione (although his Caravaggio phase was short-lived) and Orazio Gentileschi. In the next generation there were Carlo Saraceni, Bartolomeo Manfredi and Orazio Borgianni. Gentileschi, despite being considerably older, was the only one of these artists to live much beyond 1620, and ended up as court painter to Charles I in England. His daughter Artemisia Gentileschi was also close to Caravaggio, and one of the most gifted of the movement. Yet in Rome and in Italy it was not Caravaggio, but the influence of Annibale Carraci, blending elements from the High Renaissance and Lombard realism, which ultimately triumphed.

Caravaggio’s brief stay in Naples produced a notable school of Neapolitan Caravaggisti, including Battistello Caracciolo and Carlo Sellitto. The Caravaggisti movement there ended with a terrible outbreak of plague in 1656, but the Spanish connection – Naples was a possession of Spain – was instrumental in forming the important Spanish branch of his influence.

A group of Catholic artists from Utrecht, the "Utrecht Caravaggisti", travelled to Rome as students in the first years of the 17th century and were profoundly influenced by the work of Caravaggio, as Bellori describes. On their return to the north this trend had a short-lived but influential flowering in the 1620s among painters like Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerrit van Honthorst, Andries Both and Dirck van Baburen. In the following generation the affects of Caravaggio, although attenuated, are to be seen in the work of Rubens (who purchased one of his paintings for the Gonzaga of Mantua and painted a copy of the Entombment of Christ), Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Velazquez, the last of whom presumably saw his work during his various sojourns in Italy.

Feb 20, 2007

Chinese Zodiac -- Happy year of the Boar

The animal zodiac signs for one another in an established order, and are repeated every twelve years. 1976 was the Year of the Dragon, and 1977 was the year of the Snake.

Animals Years
Rat 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996
Ox 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997
Tiger 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998
Rabbit 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999
Dragon 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000
Snake 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001
Horse 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002
Sheep 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003
Monkey 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004
Rooster 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005
Dog 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006
Boar 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007

Chinese Year of the Rat (zi) 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996

Chinese New Year zodiac , rats are said to be imaginative, charming and very generous to those they love - although they do have a tendency to be quick-tempered and over-critical. This Chinese zodiac sign work hard to achieve their goals, acquire possessions, and are likely to be perfectionists.

They are basically thrifty with money. The people under this Chinese New Year zodiac are easily angered and love to gossip. Born under this Chinese zodiac sign, one should be happy in sales or as a writer, critic, or publicist.

Chinese zodiac rat are most compatible with people born in the years of the Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.

Chinese Year of the Ox (chou) 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997

People born in the Chinese New Year zodiac of the Ox are patient, speak little, and inspire confidence in others. Oxen are born leaders, however they tend to be eccentric, and bigoted, and they anger easily having fierce tempers. They are conservative, methodical, and good with their hands. Chinese zodiac sign Ox are mentally and physically alert. Generally easy-going, they can be remarkably stubborn, and they hate to fail or be opposed.

Chinese zodiac oxen are most compatible with Snake, Rooster, and Rat people.

Chinese Year of the Tiger (Yin) 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998

Chinese New Year zodiac , Tiger are sensitive, given to deep thinking, capable of great love. Tigers are said to be bold and adventurous, and are bestowed with initiative and charm. However, Chinese zodiac tiger can be extremely short-tempered. Other people have great respect for them, but sometimes tiger people come into conflict with older people or those in authority. Sometimes this Chinese New Year zodiac cannot make up their minds, which can result in a poor, hasty decision or a sound decision arrived at too late.

Chinese zodiac tigers are most compatible with Horses, Dragons, and Dogs, are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract.

They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. Chinese zodiac rabbit are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog.

Chinese Year of the Dragon (Chen) 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000

This Chinese New Year zodiac called Dragon tend to be popular individuals who are always full of life and enthusiasm, with a reputation for being fun-loving and a "big mouth" at times. People born in the Chinese New Year of the Dragon are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. They are also honest, sensitive, brave, and they inspire confidence and trust.

People under Chinese zodiac neither borrow money nor make flowery speeches, but they tend to be soft-hearted which sometimes gives others an advantage over them. People under this Chinese New Year zodiac are well suited to be an artist, priest, or politician.

Chinese zodiac dragon are compatible with Rats, Snakes, Monkeys, and Roosters.

Chinese Year of the Snake (si) 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001

Rich in wisdom and charm, people under this Chinese New Year zodiac are romantic and deep thinkers and their intuition guides them strongly. They say little and possess great wisdom. Chinese zodiac sign snake never have to worry about money; they are financially fortunate. Snake people are often quite vain, selfish, and a bit stingy. Snake people tend to overdo, since they have doubts about other people's judgment and prefer to rely on themselves.

They are determined in whatever they do and hate to fail. Although calm on the surface, they are intense and passionate. Chinese zodiac sign snake are usually good-looking and sometimes have marital problems because they are fickle. The Snake would be most content as a teacher, philosopher, writer, psychiatrist, and fortuneteller.

Chinese zodiac snake are most compatible with the Ox and Rooster.

Chinese Year of the Horse (wu) 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002

People born in the Chinese New Year zodiac of the Horse are popular. Their capacity for hard work is amazing. They are on their own and are very independent. People under this Chinese New Year zodiac are cheerful, skillful with money, and perceptive, although they sometimes talk too much. They are wise, talented, and good with their hands. They are impatient and hot-blooded about everything except their daily work. Also people born under this Chinese New Year zodiac like entertainment and large crowds. They are successful as an adventurer, scientist, poet, or politician.

Chinese zodiac horses are most compatible with Tigers, Dogs, and Sheep.

Chinese Year of the Sheep/Goat (Wei) 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003

People born in the Chinese New Year zodiac year of sheep/goat are elegant and highly accomplished in the arts. They seem to be, at first glance, better off than those born in the zodiac 's other Chinese zodiac years. But sheep/goat Chinese zodiac year people are often shy, pessimistic, and puzzled about life. They are usually deeply religious, yet timid by nature. Sometimes clumsy in speech, they are always passionate about what they do and what they believe in. Sheep/goat people never have to worry about having the best in life for their abilities make money for them, and they are able to enjoy the creature comforts that they like. Sheep/goat people are wise, gentle, and compassionate. Jobs as actors, gardeners or beachcombers would suit them best.

Chinese zodiac sheep/goat are compatible with Rabbits, Pigs, and Horses.

Chinese Year of the Monkey (Shen) 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004

People born under this Chinese New Year zodiac are very intelligent and have a very lever wit. They are the erratic geniuses of the cycle. Clever, skillful, and flexible, they are remarkably inventive and original and can solve the most difficult problems with ease. Because of their extraordinary nature and magnetic personality, people under this Chinese zodiac sign are always well liked. They want to do things now, and if they cannot get started immediately, they become discouraged and sometimes leave their projects. However, they must guard against begin an opportunist and distrustful of other people. Having common sense, Chinese zodiac sign Monkey have a deep desire for knowledge and have excellent memories. People born under this Chinese New Year zodiac are strong willed but their anger cools quickly.

Chinese zodiac monkey are most compatible with the Dragon and Rat.

Chinese Year of the Rooster (You) 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005

The Chinese zodiac sign Rooster is a hard worker; shrewd and definite in decision making, often speaking his mind. Because of this, they tend to seem boastful to others. People born in the Chinese New Year zodiac of the Rooster are deep thinkers, capable, and talented. They like to be busy and are devoted beyond their capabilities and are deeply disappointed if they fail. They always think they are right and usually are! They frequently are loners and though they give the outward impression of being adventurous, they are timid. Chinese zodiac sign Rooster people's emotions like their fortunes swing very high to very low. They can be selfish and too outspoken, but are always interesting and can be extremely brave. They make good restaurant owners and world travelers.

Chinese zodiac rooster is most compatible with Ox, Snake, and Dragon.

Chinese Year of the Dog (Xu) 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006

Chinese New Year zodiac Dog will never let you down. People born in this Chinese zodiac sign possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people's confidence because they know how to keep secrets. They are plagued by constant worry. They have a sharp tongue, and have a tendency to be a faultfinder. They care little for wealth; yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. Chinese zodiac sign Dog people make good leaders. They would make an excellent businessman, activist, teacher, or secret agent.

Chinese zodiac dog are compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit.

Chinese Year of the Boar (hai) 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007

Chinese New Year zodiac Boar is a splendid companion, an intellectual with a very strong need to set difficult goals and carry them out. People born in this Chinese zodiac sign are gracious and gallant. Whatever they do, they do with all their strength. They have tremendous courage and great honesty. They don't make many friends but they make them for life. They don't talk much but have a great thirst for knowledge. People under this Chinese zodiac study a great deal and are generally well informed. Boar people are quick tempered, yet they hate arguments and quarreling. They are kind to their loved ones. No matter how bad problems seem to be, Boar people try to work them out, honestly if sometimes impulsively. They thrive in the arts as entertainers.

Chinese zodiac boar are most compatible with Rabbits and Sheep.

Feb 17, 2007

Wiki wave sweeps on

From The New scientist Blog
Tom Simonite - online technology reporter.

While one wiki has become a major feature of modern life, experiments with the medium are still continuing.

One is the "wiki novel" started by established, conventional book publisher Penguin. Amillionpenguins is fascinating, chaotic and often perplexing for the editor appointed to oversee it. Here's a recent extract from the editors blog:

I, your miserable and long suffering editor, admit to feeling completely at odds with the novel as it stands...I’ve found the best way to approach amillionpenguins is to sample it basically at random.

Other people seem to love it. One participant contends that it is already better than On The Road or Lord of the Rings. This academic blogger is also a fan, although this one is less keen.

My colleague Will pointed out that it's a little reminiscent of William Burroughs' novels - I agree. Burroughs was a fan of the 'cut-up technique' where a finished manuscript was cut into pieces and shuffled. Onemillionpenguins is a bit like that in reverse - contributors seem to be adding in their own disconnected snippets to make the confusing whole.

I think the best way to experience it is to embrace the change - I'll be checking back to see how it evolves over time. I think that will be more interesting than sitting down with the 'finished' text.

In other wiki news, wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has launched three wiki magazines - on politics, entertainment and local issues. They only got started two days ago but a lot of articles have been added. Contributions so far are generally short though - and aren't really being edited by the community. People seem far more interested in commenting on the articles.

Perhaps a more community-led style will emerge over time. I think wiki magazines have a lot of potential - regular ones are a kind of collaborative product anyway. The wiki novel won't fare so well, I fear. The existence and identity of a single author is too central to the construction and form of such works.

Feb 15, 2007

top ten movies you should see but probabaly don't want to #10

Female Trouble -- John Waters (1975)

New Times (L.A.) David Ehrenstein
It's the hallmark of a classic that must be seen to be disbelieved.
Read Full Review

TV Guide
Robert Pardi
Raggedly produced, savagely funny movie.
Read Full Review

Staff (Not Credited)
Camp is too elegant a word to describe it all.
Read Full Review

Feb 14, 2007

Feb 13, 2007

Overlapping Circles

Juergen Jazzanova mixtape on FUTUREBOOGIE

from flavorpill NYC

A jack of all trades, Futureboogie advances jazz-oriented dance music with a booking agency, design collective, and, most notably, a rock-solid radio show. Also an online outpost for the group's Bristol-based club night, the website features revolving updates and a vast archive of past sets. This week, Tru Thoughts/Ubiquity artist Quantic drops jazz and deep funk in Bristol and Berlin-based Jazzanova delights with a mixtape featuring cuts from International Pony, on-the-rise UK producer and remixer Jesse Rose, and drum 'n bass don Marcus Intalex. For a fresh weekly fix, be sure to catch Futureboogie's radio broadcast, live in the UK and archived on the site, which comes complete with detailed tracklists for cratediggers and hardcore heads.

Jazzanova Mixtape


mp3 [53mb]

  • Billy Bang Sextet – Abuella (Soulnote)
  • Jesse Rose – Stop, Look and Listen (Henrik Schwarz Version) (Front Room)
  • International Pony – The Royal Pennerkaums (Island)
  • Markus Intalex – Refreshed (Soul:r)
  • Dub Tao – Season Dub Hard Edged)
  • Dimlite – Outernational Duet (SK)
  • DJ Type & JB – The P.L. (Root Elevation)
  • Thief – Hold On (SK)
  • DJ Shadow – This Time (Island)
  • Winfield Parker – I Wanna Be With You (Parker & Lyles)
  • Stereotyp – Take the Weight (G Stoned)
  • Guida de Palma & Jazzinho – Da Tempo ao Tempo (N.Conte Mix) (Freestyle)
  • Drumlessons – Strings of Live (Sonar Kollektiv)

Feb 7, 2007

Saam Farahmand -- Music Video Director

Saam Farahmand has directed some of the best videos of 2006 for up and coming UK bands such as Klaxons, Buzzworthy, Dead Disco, and New Young Pony Club. He is definitely on my watch list. Here is a sample.

one (tame version)

Two (the original by Saam)

Simian Mobile Disco -- Hustler
Dir: Saam Farahmand

Feb 1, 2007

Is Iran Next?

Joschka Fischer

Can politics learn from history? Or is it subject to a fatal compulsion to repeat the same mistakes, despite the disastrous lessons of the past? President Bush’s new strategy for Iraq has posed anew this age-old philosophical and historical question.

Ostensibly, President Bush has embarked on a new political and military strategy for the war-torn Iraq. Bush’s new course can be summarized under three headings: more American troops, more Iraqi responsibility, and more US training for more Iraqi troops.

If you apply this new plan to Iraq alone, two things immediately catch the eye: almost all the proposals of the Baker-Hamilton report have been ignored, and the plan itself – in the face of the chaos in Iraq – is quite simplistic. In light of the failure of all previous “new strategies” for stabilizing Iraq, there is little to suggest that the newest “new strategy” will succeed any better, despite the additional 21,000 US soldiers.

What is interesting and really new in the US administration’s recently announced policy is the way it reaches beyond Iraq, to deal with Iran, Syria, and the Gulf states. Here, unexpected and genuinely new decisions have been announced: an additional US aircraft carrier group will be moved to the Persian Gulf; Patriot anti-aircraft missiles will be stationed in the Gulf states; and the additional 21,000 soldiers far exceed what the American generals had asked for to deal with Iraq. So one wonders about the purpose of this military build-up? One might almost think that Saddam was still alive and in power, so his overthrow had to be prepared all over again.

The surprise of Bush’s new policy is its shift of political focus from Iraq to its two immediate neighbors. Bush accuses Syria and Iran of interfering in Iraq, threatening its territorial integrity and endangering American troops, and, more generally, of seeking to undermine America’s allies in the region. If you add to this the seizure, on President Bush’s orders, of Iranian “diplomats” by US forces in the northern Iraqi town of Erbil, a completely new picture of the President’s plan comes to the fore: the “new strategy” does not follow the advice of the Baker-Hamilton report, but harks back to the disastrous strategy of the neo-cons. Iran is now in the superpower’s sights, and the US approach brings to mind the preparatory phase of the Iraq war – down to the last detail.

Where does all this lead? Basically, there are two possibilities, one positive and one negative. Unfortunately, the positive outcome appears to be the less likely one.

If the threat of force – a force that the US is quite obviously building – aims at preparing the ground for serious negotiations with Iran, there can and should be no objection. If, on the other hand, it represents an attempt to prepare the American public for a war against Iran, and a genuine intention to unleash such a war when the opportunity arises, the outcome would be an unmitigated disaster.

Unfortunately, this danger is all too real. Since the Bush administration views Iran’s nuclear program and hegemonic aspirations as the major threat to the region, its new strategy is based on a newly formed undeclared anti-Iranian alliance with moderate Sunni Arab states and Israel. The nuclear program is the dynamic factor here, because it will set a timeline for action.

But air strikes on Iran, which America may see as a military solution, would not make Iraq safer; they would achieve exactly the opposite. Nor would the region as a whole be stabilized; on the contrary, it would be plunged into an abyss. And the dream of “regime change” in Tehran would not come true, either; rather, Iran’s democratic opposition would pay a high price, and the theocratic regime would only become stronger.

The political options for stabilizing Iraq, and the whole region, as well as for securing a long-term freeze of Iran’s nuclear program, have not yet been exhausted. The current state of Iran’s nuclear program does not call for immediate military action. Instead, the focus should be on diplomatic efforts to detach Syria from Iran and isolate the Tehran regime. But this presupposes American willingness to return to diplomacy and talking to all the parties involved. Tehran is afraid of regional and international isolation. Moreover, the recent municipal elections in Iran have shown that betting on diplomacy and a transformation of Iran from within is a realistic option. So why the current threats against Iran?

The debacle in Iraq was foreseeable from the beginning, and America’s numerous partners and friends predicted it quite clearly in their warnings to the Bush administration. The mistake that the US may be about to make is equally predictable: a war that is wrong will not be made right by extending it – that is the lesson of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

The ideologically driven strategy of regime change by means of military force led the US into the Iraq war disaster. Getting into Iraq and defeating Saddam was easy. But today, America is stuck there and knows neither how to win nor how to get out. A mistake is not corrected by repeating it over and over again. Perseverance in error does not correct the error; it merely exacerbates it. Following the launch of the new American policy, the old question of whether politics can learn from history will be answered again in the Middle East. Whatever the answer, the consequences – whether good or bad – will be far-reaching.

Joschka Fischer was Germany's Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998 to 2005. A leader in the Green Party for nearly 20 years, he is now a visiting professor at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

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