SteadyBlogging on Twitter (SteadyTweets?)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Much more on later. For now, I wanted to see if the code they provide works: click on the following button to listen to a radio stream based on my profile:

Currently playing: "Chapter 13 (Rich Man vs. Poor Man)", one of my favorite tracks off of Resurrection. Before that: a 13-minute track off of Danny Hathaway Live, a J-Live track, a Biz Markie track, a track off of Kind of Blue....Hell, you can see for yourself what's being played on my page. Although the tracklisting there is an interleaving of the radio stream tracks I'm listening to right now with tracks being played through iTunes running on our computer at home. After dowloading the iTunes AudioScrobbler plugin yesterday, I've left Party Shuffle going so as to add more tracks to my profile.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Broken beat

After doing that reggaeton post last night, I thought I might do another one or two posts introducing and collecting some links on certain musical subgenres. Check back here for a post on broken beat. A few of the links I'll work in:

Broke n' Beat Radio: "A Nu Jazz and Broken Beat mix show based in Philadelphia"

Benji B's Deviation show on BBC Radio 1xtra

This article from the Bay Guardian

Riddims by the Reggaetón

I'd been hearing about reggaeton here and there over the last few months--maybe I saw a disc in Cancun's jukebox? A flyer for a reggaeton show ended up on the sidewalk outside our place. Glanced at some mix CDs by local DJs at some show(s) we hit, and then a couple weeks ago read this blog entry by Jeff Chang (more about Chang and Can't Stop Won't Stop in a future post).

At the time I didn't follow the link to the Raquel Cepeda Village Voice piece that Chang links to. It was only today, as I was cleaning out the past few weeks' VV e-mailings that I opened up that article:

Riddims by the Reggaetón
Puerto Rico's hip-hop hybrid takes over New York
by Raquel Cepeda
March 28th, 2005 3:07 PM

The article is good primer on what reggaeton is and where it comes from ("an approximately 20-year-old fusion of dancehall, born in the poorest neighborhoods in Puerto Rico, with mostly Spanish-language rap and tropical rhythms"); and who to look out for (according to Cepeda: Ivy Queen, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Tego Calderón. I'm thinking Cepeda is a writer to be trusted on matter like this. I'd been saving a review-a-day from Salon of And It Don't Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years, edited by none other than Cepeda.) It even comes with an accompanying compilation of links to sample the music online: Riddims on Demand: A Reggaetón Download Feast.

So I read the VV piece around lunchtime today. As I was walking back from 16th St. along Capp and passed Balompie Cafe, a concert poster caught my eye: Ivy Queen and Daddy Yankee at the top of the bill for a show at the Cow Palace in a week. Interesting coincidence, I thought.

After swinging by home, I strolled down S. Van Ness to the Post Office (to drop some checks for the taxman in the mail), made some phone calls while sitting in the sun outside the 24th St. BART station, and then walked back up Mission a couple blocks. Poked my head in a couple stores, and then saw that Musica Latina (Mission Music Center) had the same concert poster in the window. I took a look at some of the titles hanging behind and displayed under the counter. I didn't see anything I could recognize as reggaeton, and I headed toward the front door, but the store was quiet, so I had the chance to askthe guy working the counter if they had any reggaeton. Turns out they had plenty. His first recommendation was what I ended up walking out with--a CD/DVD set titled Chosen Few: El Documental, with the CD a collection of 25 tracks, the DVD a documentary about the music--all for only $10.

(If it turns out I and/or you need more: Guy also pointed out a 2CD/DVD set--top tracks from the past few years + the videos; while Chang recommends this mix.)

That remarkably affordable price is possible, I think, because it appears that the scene is still DIY and indie. There's no major label intermediating between the artists, the record store, and me. It may be because the hype hasn't yet filtered into their executive offices, or because reggaeton's creators have consciously held on to their creative capital. A Daddy Yankee quote in Cepeda indicates it's a mix of the two factors: " 'Reggaetón artists have learned a lot about business by studying hip-hop's history. Hip-hop had people who abused it and the first artists were taken advantage of,' says Daddy Yankee. 'We learned from it. And much like early hip-hop, the record labels ignored us.' "

I was taken aback to find, at the bottom of a flyer tucked inside the jewel case for El Documental advertising itself and some other upcoming releases, these words: "the freedom movement: FREEDOM is a movement of artists and producers who own their creative works which we deliver everywhere at revolutionary FREEDOM prices"

Speaking truth to power, and more power to them. Check the group that put out El Documental: Urban Box Office, which has lots of audio samples (and is selling El Documental for $7!).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Fukuyama on Weber

Brady told me he's still checking on me, so I'll keep up the new spate of entries, with a UofCentric post:

I was just cleaning out some NYTimes Books Update e-mails from the past couple months, and came across an essay by Francis Fukuyama on Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism titled "The Calvinist Manifesto."

Figured I'd save the link for if and when I ever get around to reading Weber. Weber's book was one of those handful of texts that it seemed like everyone at the UofC intersected with in some core course, but it was one that I missed out on. I was talking about this when I was hanging out with Jon Groat when I was in AA last summer for SMB, and so I borrowed his copy of his bookshelf (along with a couple other sociology books he recommended, all of which have merely been sitting on our bookshelf since then).

Another one of those UofCentric texts that I missed catching while there--and that I was recently thinking that I really should read--was Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. I've had a copy of that one all along--I received it as a high school graduation present, paired with another such text: Tocqueville's Democracy in America. (Who gives such a present as a high school graduation gift? A UofC alum, naturally.)

Tocqueville I did read, in my Soc class, but I've been thinking about revisiting ever since. Which bring me to another link I was going to post...

The current Atlantic Monthly's cover story is the first in a series in which Frenchman Bernard-Henri Lévy reprises Tocqueville's journey through America:

The Atlantic Monthly | May 2005
In the Footsteps of Tocqueville
How does America look to foreign eyes? This year marks the bicentennial of the birth of Alexis de Tocqueville, our keenest interpreter. We asked another Frenchman to travel deep into America and report on what he found by Bernard-Henri Lévy

Edward Rothstein--who we learned, through his piece on Bellow that appeared last weekend (look here), was a grad student in the Committee on Social Thought (can't get much more quintessentially UofC than that)--wrote a piece on Lévy's project that was in Monday's Times: "Touring an America Tocqueville Could Fathom."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Freakonomics: Steven Levitt and Roland Fryer

Back in August 2003 I blogged (here) a link to a fascinating NYTimes Mag profile of a young UofC economist named Steven Levitt. (The original NYTimes link doesn't yield the full article anymore, but at the time I found this link that does.)

I was reminded of that profile because, first, the NYTimes Mag ran another very interesting profile of a young and unconventional economist a couple weeks ago: a profile of Roland Fryer, headlined "Toward a Unified Theory of Black America" (pdf).

The profile mentions that Fryer has collaborated with Levitt. In fact, both profiles were written by the same guy, Stephen Dubner, and now Dubner and Levitt have published a book on Levitt's work, titled Freakonomics. Just came across this excerpt in Slate, which describes some work of Levitt's and Fryer's on a typically atypical (and controversial) subject:

A Roshanda by Any Other Name
How do babies with super-black names fare?
By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005, at 3:32 AM PT

The book's website is here.

Update (Sun, April 17): I was going to mention that Levitt & "Freakonomics" reminded me somewhat of Gladwell and his "Tipping Point", in a superficial way--popularizations of clever and counterintuitive explanations of social phenomena. Coincidentally, the newest addition to the NYTimes' op-ed roster of op-ed columnists, John Tierney, wrote a column for yesterday's paper about a public discussion between Levitt and Gladwell: "The Miracle That Wasn't"

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Saul Bellow roundup

I'd been thinking about blogging something about Bellow after a spate of essays about Augie March appeared last year, with the 50th anniversary of its publication. Below are a bunch of links that appeared after Bellow died last week.

First, for reference: the lengthy NYTimes obituary.

Also in NYTimes: A nice essay by Ian McEwan that ran on the op-ed page, centered around the barking dog of The Dean's December, touching on Bellow's stature among contemporary British writers. McEwan mentions this edition of Augie March with an introduction by Martin Amis which I'd like to pick up (searching for that link turned up links to this edition with an intro by Hitchens, and this nice Amazon feature by Aleksandar Hemon).

McEwan's essay includes a passage from Herzog which is, interestingly, as Hitchens cites in his Bellow obit ("He Was an American, Quebec-Born: Saul Bellow's legacy"), the epigraph of McEwan's new novel Saturday. More on Saturday in a later post (incl Hitchens' review of it), but for now back to Bellow--here are the famous lines from Herzog:

"Well, for instance, what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organized power. Subject to tremendous controls. In a condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who have discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do. As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs..."

Of Bellow's novels, I've only read Augie March (in the summer after my first year of grad school, spent back at home in MN) and Ravelstein (about a year ago). I didn't feel like I really "got" either--in particular, I never really cracked Bellow's peculiar language. Which was the reason I gave up on Henderson the Rain King about 50 pages in. But in addition to a re-reading of Augie March, I'm adding Herzog (and perhaps The Dean's December and Mr. Sammler's Planet) to the near-term reading list.

Herzog is cited by Dave Eggers as "my favorite book, by anyone, anywhere, anytime" in this Slate collection of Bellow reminscences, which also has short pieces by Stanley Crouch, Hilton Als, James Atlas. While those were written in the days after his death, Salon's collection culled their selections from writers recounting their impressions of Bellow over the past 50 years. Slate also ran a piece about "Editing Bellow."

Returning to the NYTimes: there was the obligatory highbrow literary appreciation by uber-critic Michiko Kakutani ("Saul Bellow, Poet of Urban America's Dangling Men"), and two shorter, more anecdotal pieces: one by Brent Staples ("Mr. Bellow's Planet")
and one by Edward Rothstein ("Saul Bellow, Saul Bellow, Let Down Your Hair"). (Seems as if it's obligatory to headline these Bellow pieces with an allusion to a Bellow title--in which case I don't the last one.)

Both Staples and Rothstein were grad students at the UofC--their pieces come out of their (rather different) interactions and encounters with Bellow in Hyde Park. For my own small remembrance of Bellow, I was thinking I would pull out my copy of Staples's memoir Parallel Time and read the chapter about his stalking of Bellow in streets of Hyde Park. The piece above complements the Parallel Time chapter, with Staples evoking gossipy discussions of Bellow's latest novels taking place in Jimmy's. (As I've written before, I'm a fan of Staples's writing. I included in that entry links to two more of Staples' literary essays, one about Naipaul and one about Phillip Roth & Anatole Broyard.)

Finally, Bellow's city is of course Chicago (one of the reasons I feel a connection to him, even if I don't feel as if I have any sort of deep appreciation of his work). But the Times tries to claim him as <"A Writer Captivated by the Chaos of New York" as well.