Thursday, August 30, 2007

BBC News on New Orleans Musicians


Marking the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina the BBC has a multi-part story on displaced musicians from the Big Easy, asking if August 29, 2005 was "the day the music died?" Their coverage includes the stories of how Katrina affected the lives of six musicians, and Katrina as muse.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What I'm Listening to...This Week...



Still listening to the classical (but occasionally veer off into experimental funk and r&b gospel), right now it's Richard Goode Plays Brahms: Piano Pieces Opp. 76 & 119/Fantasies, Op. 116. Reportedly Richard Goode tends to hum along with his playing (similar to pianist Glenn Gould (?)) on a number of these tracks but I couldn't hear it.

The Intermezzo in E Major, Op. 116/4 features some of Goode's renowned lyrical playing, but he also can play with a lot of power, as well as giving particular phrases great weightiness which is also apparent in this piece. I like the narrative arc of this piece--there seem to be all these stops and starts in the flow, which mirror moments of engagement, then reflection, then retreat, then re-engagement and finally resolution. I had thought of intermezzos as these little jocular interludes in between two main segments of a longer work. But composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897; pictured above left as a young man) gives these pieces (the previous piece as well as Intermezzo in E Minor Op. 116/5 and Intermezzo in E Major Op 116/6) considerable personality, and they aren't quite the interjection of something light to clear the auditory palate that I would have thought. There's a nice little minor ascension motif of three notes in the right (treble) and then the left (bass) hand, which resolves somewhat ambivalently as though a conversation in which no one got to say what they really meant. The Capricco In D Minor Op 116/7 that rounds out the pieces selected from that Opus, is one of the more aggressive works (not really capricious) but short and deliberate which feels almost abrupt after the more complex give and take of the prior Intermezzos. Known as a major composer of the Romantic period of classical music (approximately 1815-1910) mood and color are quite important in these works, they often feel moody, speeding up, then quickly slowing down and lowering dynamics, and working within the delicacy suggested by pianissimo dynamics to create another mood. Variations in dynamics are much more of a factor in Brahms works than say those of Haydn who was composing during the Classical period (yes, the classical period of classical music, ie. the canon of the canonical, right? Hey, I didn't define this stuff I'm just trying to understand it like everyone else). Now what's funny about Rhapsody In E-Flat Major, Op. 119/4 is that it was clearly inspirational for some compositions for silent films--you can hear what presently sounds like overwrought romanticism, and the rapid (allegro?) arpeggiations that suggest high states of excitement as well as the heavy-handed percussive elements that often suggested the presence someone of great importance, with tasks of equal importance awaiting them, having entered the center of the frame.

Took a little break to check out Mavis Staples' latest, We'll Never Turn Back, produced by guitarist/composer/archivist Ry Cooder as well as to revisit Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber's underground masterpiece Blood on the Leaf - Opus No. 1. Yep, to me it's a masterpiece, and according to band leader/conductionist Greg Tate it is as well. Here's his statement from the liner notes:

"So this is our bitches brew. Our my bloody whirled axe quartet. Our belated elegy for Eddie Hazel, A.R.Kane, and the black lesbian we once claimed to have buried in our bones. Our crude impersonation of a Butch Morris conduction. Our stab at signifyin' funk electronica. we've got Rene Akan, our applejack tossed into yon whither the future of the phunk ring. Our anachronistic bid for 1983 a merman I will be status. A wink and a nod to Mwandishi, sun Ra, the Motor Booty Affair, Drexciya and Kodwo Eshun.

"The music on this album, with duly noted exceptions, was recorded in a single four-hour session on December 19,1999. Except for Blood on the Leaf, nothing was rehearsed or prearranged but the electric bass parts. Meaning anything that sounds like it was orchestrated beforehand was actually improv-ed and conducted into being on the spot, on the fly, off the cuff, in the raging, bloody-impromtu moment..."

Upon listening I was seriously impressed, although having had the privilege of listening to much of Lawrence Butch Morris' Testament: A Conduction Collection I knew that
conduction compositions could be complex sensical affairs that didn't devolve into a standard bag of improvisational riffs. Still the cohesion of this recording session is profound to me demonstrating a superlative commitment and focus on the part of the participating artists and Tate. Imaging collective composing through conducting a group of musicians for 4 hours straight. Hmph. Gives me pause anyway. There are repeated motifs, but that's not atypical for a work operating within the grammatical forms of the classical tradition which I take the inclusion of "Opus" in the album's title to be referencing. That motif didn't get tired for me at all. A piece might mine it for it's entire length or just begin with the motif and then move into attendant territory.

The work has soaring guitar sonics ("mandarinsprechen guitar") from Rene Akhan; "badmuthshutyo guitar" from Morgan Michael Craft; "unstemmed crimson tide guitar"
from "Captain Kirk" Kirk Douglass (of The Roots, not to be confused with him or him, although Douglass' guitar is featured on the track "Spartacus Free the Slaves"; pictured right, photo David Mitchell/Plastic Jesus); chill-out, and percussive acoustic piano grooves from Vijay Ayer (pictured left); on synthesizer Bruce Mack; double bass work from Jason Di Matteo; mid-frequency and accented electric bass work from Jared Michael Nickerson; three different drummers with three different styles listed (Breakbeat Drumming, Swiss Chris [pictured below left]; Freestyle Drumming, Eric Eigner; Vedic Drumming, Qasim Naqvi [pictured below right]); the ever-versatile ("sangin scattin whistlin") Eisa Davis on vocals; and Simmie on electric violin.
















(pictured right, singer/actor/playwright Eisa Davis)
There are two exceptions to the 4 hour session "recorded live December 19, 1999, 7:30pm": tracks 1. "Steals A Kiss from the Merman" and 6. "04.29.92 Justice X On the Flex" which were both recorded Winter 1998 by Moomtez (an earlier Greg Tate
improv band, which at one point included Alice Smith as a backup singer) with Rene Akhan and Greg Tate, guitars; Maximina Juson, bass (pictured left); Trevor Holder, drums; Justice X, Alice Utley, Tabla Suphala, vocals.











More on this and other
Burnt Sugar recordings from Daniel Garnett @ Compulsive Reader.



On We'll Never Turn Back, singer Mavis Staples revisits songs from the Civil Rights Movement, but more than that she recounts tales of growing up in Mississippi during Jim Crow and the loving parents and grandparents who instilled in her a greater sense of self that what was offered via a "Coloreds Only" sign. The legendary slide guitar of producer Ry Cooder appears on a number of cuts, and co-wrote a number of the original songs with Staples. Cooder's arrangements are instrumentally spare, I'm guessing that Staples and he wanted to focus on what this music primarily was for people during that era-vocally driven. Songs you sang while riding to a protest on a bus, or at a march or rally, or while being driven away in police vehicles. On the first three tracks "Down in Mississippi," "Eyes on the Prize," and "We Shall Not Be Moved," Ladysmith Black Mambazo provide backing vocals. There's a richness to their vocal mix that almost overshadows the instrumentation.

But it was "In the Mississippi River," that really got me. I had never heard this song before, or I
felt like I hadn't even though I'm pretty sure I've heard it performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Staples' version starts out a cappella with vocalist/activist Charles Neblett singing out, "In the Mississippi River," with a harmony just underneath followed up by the plaintive soprano cry of probably singer/activist Rutha Harris, answering back "Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord!" then moves into an ominously rhythmed counting song, with Neblett's baritone chanting, "well, now you can count them one by one," followed by Staples' alto rhythmically intoning, "it-could-be-your-son." Neblett continues, "and you can count them two by two," and Staples is right there with, "it-could-be-me-and-you," and finally she repeats "well, into-the-river-they-go, into-the-river-they-go." Neblett calmly chants, "now you can count them five by five," to which Staples responds "now-they-don't-come-out-a-live." Neblett gets to six, and Staples gives a rueful laugh, "in-Mississippi, they-got-it-fixed." To Neblett's "seven by seven," she sings "Mississippi, it-ain't-no-heav-en" and to "eight by eight" she sings more fully, "and-they-were thrown-in-because-of-hate." If you hadn't already figured it out, by now it's clear that the song is about the numerous bodies of murdered African Americans that were dumped in the Mississippi River during the Civil Rights Movement. The Mississippi River is the second longest river in the US and travels through ten states--Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Minnesota--the last two of which are at the forefront of most recent associations with the river: the construction failures of levees and a bridge respectively, along with the temporary closing of the Mississippi River Bridge in Memphis, TN due to structural concerns. But prior to those events, the history of loss associated with the river had to do with it being a place where a number of black bodies had disappeared at the hands of white killers in the southern states it runs through, particularly Mississippi, as well as Tennessee. (above right, Mavis Staples; photo Paul Natkin; above left SNCC Freedom Singers from Albany, GA; l-r Neblett, Reagon, Matthew Jones[?], and Rutha Harris)

Neblett was a SNCC field organizer and member of the SNCC Freedom Singers along with Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, and Bettie-Mae Fikes, the latter two, with Neblett, offer backing vocals on much of the album. "In the Mississippi River" was written by Marshall Jones, another member of the SNCC Freedom Singers who was involved in the movement as a student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Apparently, Jones composed the song to honor the slain Civil Rights workers Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney (Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Earl Chaney, murdered in 1964) and "all the others" who lost their lives in the struggle.


I had something of a surreal experience while I was listening to Staples' album. At the same time because of research for an unrelated project I'm working on, I was going through all the Jet Magazines for 1968. It was so overwhelming I had to stop and haven't yet gotten back to it. That year witnessed a lot of grief over the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. . I could see why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had reportedly given the weekly publication quite high praise for its reportage of the Civil Rights struggle. Along with every week's legendary/infamous social scene and entertainment gossip and two-page bikini model photo, Jet gave considerable space to the coverage of various aspects of the Civil Rights Movement. Notably neither the issue devoted to the assassination of Dr. King, nor that of Robert Kennedy included the bikini spread. Back then Jet featured a two color background cover with a white and black photo in the foreground, and black and white inner pages. Going through the months of Jet for the first half of 1968, I'm embarrassed to say was the most I had ever read about the multi-ethnic effort of the Poor People's Campaign, and the construction of Resurrection City on the Washington Mall, in Washington, D.C., led by "Mayor" Hosea Williams and Dr. King's successor as SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) leader, Ralph Abernathy. (above left "Resurrection City at dusk"(1968); photo by Ollie Atkins) Because Jet published a lot of photos in its coverage, all black and white, some, as with the Kennedy and King assassinations, almost creating a time-lapse succession of images of tumult and grief, I found myself having one of those experiences of being not quite in the moment you're looking at, but simultaneously not being in the present historical moment you're in. I'll always remember the images of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner from that FBI missing persons poster because a political illustration based on it hung in my home, and I looked at it every day when I was growing up. I would have that same feeling in those moments as well.



What can I say. I don't really have words for an album that can make you feel all that just half way through its 12 tracks. Just go listen.

Here's a sample: The music video for Mavis Staples and Ry Cooder's arrangement of the traditional "Eyes on the Prize." Staples, backed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo: background vocals, Ry Cooder: slide guitar, Mike Elizondo: bass, Joachim Cooder: percussion.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Stevie Wonder + T.O.N.T.O

An Endnote to the previous post: Here's an excerpt from the 6-part BBC documentary Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music (2005) featuring producers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff talking about the Wonder/Cecil & Margouleff collaboration from their perspectives. They (as well as the BBC's narration) offer some insight, perhaps unintentionally, regarding the potential tensions present in working dynamics between innovative sound engineers/inventors and innovative genius musicians, as well as on issues of authorship and race, albeit less explicitly. Plus, there's some sweet commentary from the always inspired Bootsy Collins.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thinking about music...Stevie Wonder's "Tuesday Heartbreak"


Well, when am I not, thinking about music?

But I was contemplating a recent conversation that touched on Stevie Wonder's later career output. And well, I love some Stevie Wonder, but I think the last album I purchased was Hotter Than July (1980). I couldn't help thinking about that Jack Black line from High Fidelity (2000) about early genius versus later, well, less mind-blowing work.

So, I was thinking about instrumentation today and had tracks from Talking Book and Songs in the Key of Life (1977) on "repeat" and I was giving a deep listen to "Tuesday Heartbreak." Now if you compare a song like that to "I Just Called to Say I Love You," (The Woman in Red Soundtrack, 1984) granted the lyrics on the former are more thoughtful, and definitely even stronger on tracks like "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)" (Talking Book) and "As" (Songs in the Key of Life).

Nonetheless, I think the main difference is Wonder's arrangements. By the time of Talking Book (October 27, 1972) Wonder was self-producing with Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff of Taurus Productions taking on Associate Producer duties specific to engineering and Moog programming. Sound designers and engineers Cecil and Margouleff were the inventors of T.O.N.T.O. (The Original New Timbral Orchestra), a "customized and expanded" Moog modular synthesizer instrument renowned for its warm full sound, and founders of the short lived group Tonto's Expanding Head Band, which released the ground-breaking album Zero Time (out-of-print) by which Wonder was impressed enough to recruit them as engineers; they won a Grammy for their efforts on that second collaboration with Wonder (pictured right, l-r: Cecil and Margouleff circa 1973 with Grammys). They had previously engineered Music of My Mind (March 3, 1972) and went on to engineer Innervisions (1973) and Fullfillingness' First Finale (1974)*). Margouleff also took that famous cover photo. Wonder was an early user of both the Arp and the Moog synthesizers, and his keyboard work takes on parts normally played by guitar and bass, as well as keyboard. These recordings are also notable for their layered arrangements. If the 1960s cult-pop group Left Banke was baroque-pop, this was baroque-funk-R&B, without the strings, and with a layering up of James Brown's highly percussive elements, the edged spare muscularity of Brown's arrangements rounded by the bubbly, warmer sounds of the Moog and Arp, but no less percussive. Additionally, Wonder's drumming certainly is arguably employed more for accentuation in the verse sections of "Tuesday Heartbreak" than time-keeping/pushing the groove. (above left, l-r: Robert Moog, Margouleff, Cecil, and Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and big Moog fan, circa 2000)

It's the bass guitar programming on the Moog, and the percussive guitar funk sound from the Clavinet keyboard that drives the groove. Wonder's vocal is the only thing carrying the melody, all the other instrumental voicings are working as counterpoint and/or harmony. In other words, one of the few times the instrumentals are echoing the same note as Wonder's voice is during the chorus when he sings, "I wanna BE with you..."and then only on "BE," the first note of the measure, which creates a great emphasis notably not on the noun "you," but on the verb "be." The lyric and music are weighting the desired action and, in doing so, the emotion behind it, thus creating a more visceral emotional experience than if the "you" were given similar emphasis. The verses' minimal background vocal arrangement with some obligato vocal and some call-and-response (mostly Wonder) are not arranged as a set pattern, meaning they don't automatically repeat the same arrangement in response to particular lead vocal section. The effect builds subtly to a higher climax, so even though the song has a typical pop song A-B-A-B (verse-chorus-verse-chorus) structure (with a really short break/segue featuring a swirling ascension of different instruments between the verse and chorus and final repetition of the chorus), it has a more complex payoff emotionally for the listener. Much of this Wonder/Cecil & Margouleff achieve by embedding certain instrumentation. Unless you're giving serious study to the song, or naturally have a great ear, you might miss the spoken word macking that Wonder mixes in the background within the same frequency range as the lead vocal on the second verse. That second verse also features a somewhat staccato, funkified call-and-response moment from the background vocals, the response in the prior verse was much more airy-head voice located--longer intonation. (pictured above right, Wonder checking out Hartmann keyboards (manufacturer of the Clavinet) at the 2004 NAMM Conference**)

In this chorus the embedding makes layered use of background voices, particularly Wonder's own voice, the result being an emphasis on sound and color more than the actually lyric (if there is one) or melodic or harmonic structure. On the other hand with the chorus, the background vocals come in with Wonder having Shirley Brewer and and Deniece Williams (credited as "Denise Williams in the liner notes) supply some smooth, full "oo-oo's" mixed center, and somewhat back, while he "hmm's" an ascending then descending line (melisma) mixed more forward and somewhat to the right. Then Brewer and Williams hit these high, gospel-colored (as in jubilee, as in Fisk Jubilee Singers-style of vocal arrangement) , percussive ascending then descending "hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-ooo" notes, while Wonder's voice is doubled "hmm'ing" a descending line immediately afterwards. And during the chorus the cymbals are mixed forward; their decay fills out mid-highs in the sound field.

Midway through the chorus Wonder puts handclaps on the the fourth beat. These handclaps appear periodically throughout the song at different accent points, usually on the fourth beat. Wonder doesn't limit himself to any one instrument to provide accent however, also using Dave Sanborn's alto sax timbre to create focused moments throughout the song. While he credits Sanborn (listed as "Sanborne" in the credits) with the "Alto Solo," the horn part doesn't appear as a "traditional" solo. Undeniably a key element in the song, it's given its own aural space, but through judicious mixing, not through the attenuation of every other instrument as if to announce "and now for our guest player!" Of course, this was before Sanborn was signed to a major label and became a household name, so there wasn't external pressure to do that sort of thing (and back then I think even a "star" would be too intimidated to act much the fool on a Wonder recording date). It's clear that Wonder as producer was involved in the album's mixing from the album credits which list the "Recordists" as Joan DeCola*** and Austin Godsey, and no mixing engineer credits. (Williams pictured left; Sanborn pictured right)

More about T.O.N.T.O. and the Wonder/Cecil & Margouleff collaboration during Wonder's "Classic Era" can be found here

Here's some YouTube video of Wonder seriously jammin' "Superstition" (Talking Book) on Sesame Street, back in the day. A pretty good view of his synthesizer set up, including the Clavinet, is available.




And Wonder playing Yamaha's Motif XS at the Winter 2007's NAMM, where he's a regular attendee. Reportedly Yamaha seduced Wonder away from the T.O.N.T.O. after Fullfillingness' First Finale. It's surprisingly uninspired playing, compared to the subsequent clip where he's videotaped riffing on some of his own classic motifs on an unidentified keyboard by an awestruck fan (who can't resist calling his friend in the middle of taping).

At the Yamaha Demo...



And just playing...



* For Songs in the Key of Life, Wonder worked with with Engineers John Fischbach (whose Ninth Ward-located Piety Street Recording I believe survived Katrina) and Gary Olazabal (who also gets a special credit for "Bass EQ") with Dave Henson credited under "Assistant Engineering," with Assistant Engineer Howie Lindeman (Hit Factory, NY, NY); Assistant Engineers Steve Smith and Rick Smith (Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA) and Assistant Engineer Cris Morris (Record Plant, Sausalito, CA). Yep, those were the days of the big recording studios.

**The International Music Products Association’s name, NAMM, comes from the acronym "National Association of Music Merchants,” their previous name.

***A rare female engineer (especially in the 70s!), DeCola is also listed as the "engineer" on Wonder's Fullfillness' First Finale; and under "remix, engineer [digital transfer]" for John Coltrane's Interstellar Space.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Incoming.....Upcoming.....Burnt Sugar + Faith + MuthaWit + Tranzducer.008

From the experimental/funk/eclectic side, some muy yummy ear-brain-solar plexus nutrition coming up in the NYC area....and MuthaWit's southern soundscape incarnation playing in the ATL area at a location so secret you need a password...


Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber

• Friday, August 24th
Williamsburg Music Center
367 Bedford Avenue
Williamsburg - Brooklyn, New York 11211
718-384-1654
10pm (photo © Maarit Kytöharj, 25th Annual Int'l Tampere Jazz Happening)
$10.00

• Tuesday, August 28th
Knitting Factory Tap Room
with special guest Hip Hop MC Legend....Ramm El Zee!!
74 Leonard Street
New York, NY 10013
9pm (doors 8:30pm)
$8 adv / 10 at the door

"Burnt Sugar Vs Ramm El Zee--Burnt Sugar is pan-African conducted improv at it's loopiest. Ramm El Zee is a painter, sculptor, MC, hiphop astrophysicist who devised Ikonoklast Panzerism, a theory that sees graf as Alpha Betic warfare. He can be seen in the legendary film WildStyle and heard inventing a style of rhyming that would influence The Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill and Zach De Rocha on the equally epochal 12 inch single "Beat Bop/Ramm El Zee Vs K. Rob" produced by Jean Michel-Basquiat. Come witness the clash of our madnesses!" (photo: Shiho Fukada)
-Greg Tate

Plus, due to popular response, Burnt Sugar has released their previous giveaway item for Burnt Sugar CD purchasers (hey, that's some love for the audience) Chopped and Screwed Volume 2. A collection of re-mixes from a band that never plays the same thing once, so a quote goes (although I think the repeated motif on Blood on the Leaf - Opus No.1, may nullify that claim. I quite enjoy that motif, so I'm not complaining). Available as a limited release (uh, should I be listing this before I get mine?--Hmm, fortunately, not a lot of people read this besides me...).
Where? Where else but CDBaby (love 'em!).

**********************
Faith

Lincoln Center: La Casita Festival 2007 - 8/25 and 8/29
Lincoln center out of doors event.
• Saturday, August 25th (near Lincoln Center)
1:15pm
FREE

&
• Wednesday, August 29th (in the garden on 9th and C).
5:00pm
FREE

*****************
Yeah, eat your heart out...MuthaWit's southern incarnation is gonna throw down with an old-fashioned turn your hair back jamfest round near the ATL...

MuthaWit
Sunday, August 26th
@ the One and Only Batcave
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Check the MuthaWit MySpace page "Upcoming Shows" listing to get the details


*****************
Tranzducer.008
Friday, August 31, 2007
LEMURplex
461 3rd Avenue,
Brooklyn (between 9th and 10th Streets)
Tel: 718-576-1066
8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
$5 at the door
Google Map

"Tranzducer.008 is is very lucky to host three of the most talented and accomplished individuals ever to grace the LEMURplex stage. Stephen Lehman (pictured below, left), Downbeat magazine's two-time "Rising Star" pick on alto saxophone, will be debuting new work for computer and sax.




Leon Gruenbaum (pictured below), inventor of the Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee, [and who also plays with Vernon Reid and Yohimbe Brothers] will be presenting his new project "Genes and Machines." And last, but certainly not least, we'll behearing from creative force and ex-Antipop Consortium member High Priest (a.k.a. HPRIZM) (pictured above, right). As always, Season of the Bit video game tune selections between sets."





*****************

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

18 Nigerians Facing Sharia Death Sentence for Being Gay

I've been aware for the past year or so that the Nigerian government has been taking an increasingly hostile stance to gays and lesbians. But I wasn't aware of the extremity of punishment in the Islamic north. I know it's naive of me, but these past few years find I keep asking myself whatever happened to the judicious and tolerant Islam I studied in school? Although, it wasn't communicated to me as a uniform theological quality, it was identified as a strong aspect of the religion's ethos.

From j's theater comes this report. I'm linking to his entry on it, instead of creating a full summary here. I will quote some details from reportage on the case:

"Eighteen Nigerian men have been found guilty of sodomy by a Sharia judge in the Islamic northern part of the country. The men are awaiting sentencing and under Sharia, or Islamic law, they could be sentenced to death.

"The official government news agency Nan reports that the men were arrested in a hotel in north-eastern Bauchi State.

"Bauchi is one of a number of northern states which recognizes Sharia law. Elsewhere in the country gay sex carries sentences up to 14 years behind bars...."

"Nan reports that the men were wearing women's clothes when they were arrested and had gone to the hotel to celebrate a gay wedding.

"The government frequently alleges that men arrested for being gay were dressed as women and were attending or preparing to attend gay weddings.

More than a dozen men have been sentenced to death in recent years for alleged homosexuality. In most cases their fate is unknown."

In addition, the government has been taking steps to strip gays and lesbians (and presumably bisexuals and transgenders/transsexuals as well) of all their civil rights, even to the point of making a non-gay meeting with a gay group for any reason illegal. The law would also make criminal the distribution of any information on AIDS/HIV illegal. Both of these would be punishable by 5 years imprisonment with hard labor. Apparently there are also cases of death by stoning and amputation punishments in the same Bauchi, Nigeria where these 18 men are being held.

The j's theater post includes a number of links to background resource materials as well as contact information for the US Ambassador to Nigeria and the Nigerian Ambassador to the US.

Endnote I: As long as BET is willing to sling cultural dirty laundry across the airwaves to make money, isn't this the sort of "hot mess" they ought to be addressing? Black people willing to actually kill and maim other black people, using state sanctioned horrific methods, as punishment for sexual orientation. Recently, commentary on the U.S. focus on gay rights as a source of national instability has emerged with the "It's All Because (The Gays Are Getting Married)" music video making the rounds on YouTube parodying the argument that outlawing gay rights and marriage would make for stronger heterosexual marriages and family values, and comic Wanda Sykes offered up her own commentary on the absurdity of that argument in a bit also available on YouTube.

Endnote II: For more on the unfortunate advisement that is BET's renamed "We Got to Do Better" check out Race Wire, the ColorLines Blog and Jay Smooth's ill*doctrine blog entry on the premier show.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What I'm Listening to... + Peace Be With Max Roach


I have been listening to Haydn: The Piano Sonatas by Franz Joseph Haydn and John McCabe. Something about Haydn (1732-1809) is very orderly. It's like listening to someone who has learned all the rules and relishing in the walls of those particular boxes. Emblematic of the classical tradition, everything resolves nicely, you can start anticipating his next move after you've listened enough. His bass-clef counterpoint was sometimes a little haunting but usually only for the length of a single measure. I don't imagine Haydn experienced particular compositional expectations as either traps or limitations. I sense he sort of reveled in the grammar of it. Plus having a clear affection for repetition and arpeggiation, he really indulges both in the sonatas.

The funny thing is that he was isolated much of his professional life from other composers, playing as court musician for a rich family. What now sounds like an orderly enunciation of rules is mix of Haydn being an original and his in depth study of the work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (second of the five sons of Johannes Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach). I couldn't listen to Haydn all day long, but the joy and playfulness he communicates in the sonatas is definitely infectious, and McCabe is clearly in tune with this spirit. Those qualities make me smile and shake my head in wonder that boxes, for a minute at least, can sometimes be seductive for their own sake/aesthetic not just because of the promise of power and acceptance in their mastery.

Finally got Harriet Tubman's I Am A Man (Knitting Factory, 1998), because I kept hearing "Frozen Fire" on guitarist Brandon Ross' Myspace page and it was driving me nuts not to be able to hear what came immediately before and after it on the album. I'm digging parts of it, though I find myself sometimes frustrated that it doesn't have the explicit sensuality of his solo work Costume (2004). But Harriet Tubman is a masterful trio, and the sensuality that is present is more muscular, more consciously negotiated as far as shared space between the three players, Melvin Gibbs (bass), JT Lewis (drums) and Ross (guitar, banjo, vocals). It's also their earliest easily available recording.

Not only does it have different layers, it has different sonics, different articulations, distinct grooves inhered in the instrumental voices of each of the players. The unique conversations between each of those elements has its particulars depending on the theme, mood, color, genre, legacy being mined. So I Am A Man is a rich album. Even though it's only 46 minutes I myself can be full-up needing to walk around studying on Harriet Tubman after a single listen.

A little more about that sensuality: check out the more recent pieces on the Harriet Tubman MySpace page to get a sense of what I mean about a more explicit sensuality, e.g.: "Araminta's Dream" (2007) and "Don't Be A Slave" (2007) the use of space is really distinct on those tracks, particularly the way each instrument is recorded (I'd really like to know what mics they used, and the set up on Lewis' drums on "Don't Be A Slave") and mixed spatially. I'm hoping to get to Treasure Hunt for the Prototype (2000) in the near future, but have just seen it as a $50 import thus far. (pictured r-l: JT Lewis, Brandon Ross, Melvin Gibbs)

Stevie Wonder's Talking Book: well this never stays out of the player for that long. Classic. Nuff said.













Astor Piazzolla y Su Quinteto Tango Nuevo/ Astor Piazzolla and the New Tango Quintet, Hora Zero/Zero Hour (American Clave/I.R.S. Records, 1986) I love how in Spanish it's "and his New Tango Quartet" but that "su"/"his" was perhaps considered too 196os-corny in 1986. Like it's: "Xavier Cugat and His Latin Beats!" Anyway, I'm still getting a feel for this. Found it listed on MuthaWit's blog. I definitely will listen to music suggested by musicians whose work I like (that's how I got deep into slide guitar), and that reminds me I have to listen to Habib Koite, a Malian guitarist that Felice Rosser (Faith) mentioned at Faith's URB ALT show and also in this great interview by Daniel Garrett. OK, so while I was listening to the late Argentinian composer/musician Astor Piazzolla (who has also composed works for orchestra and bandoneón) I was thinking about passion and my mind gravitated to Mexican singer Chavela Vargas whom I was thinking (at the time) wins out over Piazzolla and his gang with just her voice, a guitar, and an otherwise empty Carnegie Hall stage.

But then I listened to Piazzolla again in a quiet space, not in my car (as I had previously), and it blew me away. The first track, "Tanguedia III" reminded me of a film soundtrack, it has such a feeling of motion. I was sure that I'd heard it in some film. You can't listen to this in a car, or I couldn't, because you've got to move. When you're driving, the only thing in motion is the car. Your body moves very little, and I realized it's pretty hard to respond to tango when you have to hold onto a steering wheel with one or both hands and have only one foot free. There was so much interplay between the instruments, charges and retreats, call outs and answers back (an elegant mosh pit?). I imagine a visual parallel as some of the physical scenes between soldiers in director Claire Denis' ethereal film Beau Travail (1999). I think of tango as unfolding heartache, whether over a lost nation, or love, family, etc so it's not surprising that Vargas, who sings like to break your heart, occurred to me. Piazzolla's bandoneón is, on the other hand a voice of controlled wild abandon, with the constant potential of chaos or implosion. Reminiscent, again, to me of actor Denis Levant's solitary, anguished, yet highly precise dance at the end of Beau Travail. Meanwhile the rest of the group, particularly Fernando Suarez on violin and Pablo Ziegler on piano, often play like the devil's after them. Plus it was produced by Kip Hanrahan. Kip Hanrahan? When was the last time I heard his name? Unfortunately, not in connection with the label American Clave (I mean you gotta look twice at a label that would produce an album of music for various writings by Ishmael Reed, c'mon! Conjure: Music for the Text of Ishmael Reed) But notably in the label site Hanrahan tells this story about Piazzolla:




After the wave of critical and public approval and the swelling of satisfaction on our part (the two only peripherally connected) that followed “Tango: Zero Hour”, Malvi and I bet Astor that he couldn’t come up with a new music that was even more beautiful, more passionate and more complex (honest?) than the Magnus Opum. Unnerved and sneering at the challenge (as always), he came up with “La Camorra” suite, which in many ways was an even more spectacular and transcendental piece than we had even hoped for. Although more mercurial (like it’s creator) than TANGO: ZERO HOUR, it more than satisfied the terms of the bet in dealing with beauty, passion and complexity, while relentlessly shifting and gaining in intensity. It also continued, maybe fulfilled, the Piazzolla incline of The Rough Dancer... pointed out by Fernando Gonzalez, playing with and against tango form, making references to tango passed and tango future, and to Piazzolla’s own past and (possible) future, with direct references to bandoneon players that influenced his understanding of the instrument, and of tango itself, while transcending them. Wow! For some reason, probably because it was eclipsed by the continuing (and justified) attention still being given to TANGO: ZERO HOUR, this piece, and this recording, which many of us who were close to him consider to be perhaps his best recording, the best half hour of Piazzolla recorded, got lost and was never given the prominent place it deserved. If fortune has any sense of balance, this record... Oh, fuck, if fortune had any sense of balance, so many things would be different. Right?
—Kip Hanrahan [La Camorra: The Solitude of Passionate Provocation]
So, I already know what I'll be listening to next right? Well, after some Brahms, Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven. Dang.

Penultimate: listening to a friend's unreleased work which he kindly gifted me. Always puts me in a peaceful space.

I've also been listening to WKCR 89.9 FM NY's week-long tribute to Max Roach who passed on Thursday, 16 August 2007. He was 83. I flat out hollered when I read that he had gone on. Roach was one of the folks that made me fall in love with rhythm. Learning rhythm in school was about a rigid math problem. (Whack-whack-whackity-whack-whack.) It wasn't alive, it was a metronome that got turned on to ensure precision along the melodic line. But Roach, man. He. Was. Time. He made time something alive out of that notation and those time signatures. No less precise, but he gave it breath for me, a heartbeat, a flow. And he could play in a tailored suit without seeming to break a sweat (!) and never looked tight (as in uncomfortable or forced). This morning I was listening to the drummer's Freedom Now Suite: We Insist! which I hadn't heard in years, and some of his early work with Theolonius Monk including a breakdown of a recording of "Well You Needn't." It's a real gift that WKCR is devoting this amount of airtime to Max Roach allowing for the broadcasting of the diversity of composing, playing, and recording work he created in his outstanding 50+ year career.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The grasshopper that came to visit...

Sometime yesterday a grasshopper/katydid/cricket wandered into my home, lured by goodness knows what. Now it's living under my stove and rubbing it's little legs like there's no tomorrow. A nostalgic reminder of the ATL, or it was for the first 18 hours.

Now he, I guess it's a he since they are the one's who rub their legs against their wings to make sounds in order to woo. It is apparently mating season. They live 30 days so worst case scenario I have 28 more days of wooing. Isn't dude noticing that there are no females of his species in his immediate geography? Yeah, I'm ascribing more sentience than is probably the case.

Remember the sound of grasshoppers at night when you laid in the grass, looking up at the stars? Imagine that sound confined to an enclosed space, when that sound is intended to say, "yeah, baby, you know I'm the one. Why you lookin' over there baby, he can't do you like I can. I can give you some handsome strong babies. C'mon baby, who's their daddy?"

Anybody know how to get a cricket in heat from underneath a stove?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Upcoming....Incoming....NYArea events

I wish I could go to hear John Keene and Christopher Stackhouse this weekend, but I have to be in another state. It's going to be an intriguing conversation.

Saturday, August 18th, 2PM

GO NORTH: A SPACE for CONTEMPORARY ART
469 Main St., Beacon, NY 12508
gonorthgallery@hotmail.com
www.gonorthgallery.blogspot.com
Google Map, Mapquest map

Drafting a Common (Abstract) Language: Seismosis as Conversation

Go North is please to present “Drafting a Common (Abstract) Language: Seismosis as Conversation”. Co-authors of the book Seismosis (1913 Press, 2006), John Keene and Christopher Stackhouse will explore the process and practice of conversation across and through distinctive generic lines--visual art and literature--by discussing and reading poems from and selected texts related to this collaborative project. Issues they hope to touch upon include the question of formal and thematic abstraction in specific genres, its relation to questions of race, identification, and authorial agency and autonomy, and the problematics of interpretation. How can the artist and poet speak to each other, and are there languages other than the ones they enact through which to enter their conversation?

Gallery hours: Saturday - Sunday 12 - 6 PM; Friday by appointment

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Tuesday, August 21, 7pm
Lincoln Center Out of Doors presents:
Pauline Oliveros' The World Wide Tuning Meditation
Damrosch Park in the South Plaza, NYC
Free Admission

In cooperation with Deep Listening Institute in Kingston New York, Lincoln Center Out of Doors will host over 1000 voices to perform noted composer Pauline Oliveros' World Wide Tuning Meditation. The World Wide Tuning Meditation is an interactive "sound-a-long" in which the audience becomes an instrument. The audience voices at Lincoln Center will blend together with a broadcast of voices from 8 additional locations around the world to blend together to make beautiful music informed by Oliveros' score. The Tuning Meditation is a unique sonic event which Oliveros describes as "a gesture of sonic peace." Oliveros supplies the score, you supply your tone.

Voices from remote locations will be broadcast via free103point9's online radio transmission. With the technical support of free103point9's Executive Director Galen Joseph-Hunter and transmission artist Tom Roe, Oliveros will lead the voices of Lincoln Center with the voices of 8 additional locations to be broadcast into Damrosch Park. Remote locations include radio
stations such as Neighborhood Public Radio in San Francisco, Soundart Radio at Dartington College in the United Kingdom, Lemure TAZ in the Czech Republic, reboot.fm in Berlin Germany, Radio Corax in Halle Germany and other locations around the world to be announced.

Everyone is invited to participate in this unique event at Lincoln Center and no experience is necessary.

For more information, to view the score and to sign up, visit the Deep Listening website. Listen to the Live Online Radio Webcast at free103point9.org.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sights & Sounds @ Luna Lounge + Inquisitive Black Girls


So I did really want to write about photographer Ed Marshall's Sights & Sounds (August 8th) at the great space that is the Luna Lounge: (read about the rich history here) great layout, big stage, clean bathrooms (hey, it matters), nice bartenders, lots of floor space for dancing, or standing with your hands in the air like you just don't care, and no obscured views. But it's been a busy day, and I owe someone else some writing, so I'm gonna try to put something short down so I can remember the event. Apologies for the disorganized recollections that follow:

Marshall put together an amazing line-up: The Batterie, Apollo Heights, Social Hero, MuthaWit, and Pillow Theory. And it's a testament to the talent in the room and Marshall that folks came out, and cheered on the bands despite the rain and train insanity. Before dawn, 3.5 inches of rain over as many hours resulted in major flooding that had the NYC subway system completely shut down through the morning rush hour into the afternoon. I was blissfully ignorant on the train to NYC happily talking on the phone to friend from Boston who commented, "oh, you're on the train, so they're running?" She meant the subway, of course, but at least I was prepared for the delays when I arrived.

After a morning of battling sticky humidity, traffic, sardine packed buses, afternoon and evening delays in underground saunas that were many a subway station, folks came in shifts. The adverts billed the doors as opening at 6pm, and the air conditioning came on full blast sometime after 9pm. For real, HVAC is expensive (and it takes a while to cool down a big room)! The renowned Anthology Film Archives has AC in the theater only and that's it, folks. So a lot of people stood outside waiting for the bands to hit the stage. Of course there was also the heat likely generated by The Batterie, who with the train delays I unfortunately missed. Dang. (pictured left: Apollo Heights, l-r: Danny Chavis, Honeychild Coleman, Daniel Chavis, Monk Washington)

If not for the aforementioned fatigue-inducing commuting experiences, and humidity, I think folks would have initially been more lively. Still, the bar was doing brisk business (and using lots of ice!). Most folks were doing the stand-and-sway during Apollo Heights' set. With lead singer Daniel Chavis's deeply physical expressiveness I felt like we were were in a moment from singer/songwriter Stew's recent Passing Strange: essentially a live musical theater experience--'stay in your seats and listen'--but it was also rock 'n' roll, and the band was perhaps waiting for us to meet them a little bit closer to the middle--'hey, people it's a live show.' But then again it was also an art show. As each band took the stage filmmaker/photographer Yuko Sueta (who also provides images for Apollo Heights' shows) projected various images of their performances, rehearsals, candid backstage moments, and press photos from Ed Marshall's impressive body of work onto two large screens on either side of the stage. Thinking about it now, I also wonder how much was a Cocteau Twins thing (big influence on Apollo Heights, see more below). I can't imagine Elizabeth Fraser being as physically emotive as Chavis, but I also can't imagine that even if she were, people would be pogoing, and moshing, or dancing in the midst of their set (OK, I might be a little mistaken about the audience, and Frazer's letting lose at the beginning of the bridge). (pictured right, l-r: Danny Chavis and Coleman on lead and rhythm guitars, respectively)

The 'Heights music does encourage a certain degree of emo-meditative listening. Plus that theater energy which was intense, made me for one inclined to watch and listen. Maybe the "stand-and-sway" stance is also a result of the snake charmer effect created by the band's sound. I enjoyed their guitar wall sonics, which easily could have been overbearing given how heavily they wear their Cocteau Twin influence, plus just the trickiness of creating nuanced sound with multiple guitars occupying the same frequency range, but they were really tight. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear much of the lyrics. There was something going on with Chavis's monitor during much of their set. He kept signaling for more volume, but no matter how much the FOH sound person (OK "sound guy," still not a lot of women in FOH) turned up his channel Chavis never got the mix he wanted. But he was amiably good-humored about it smiling at the sound guy and shrugging like, 'well, what can you do?' Chavis had some sweet second-brother rapport with the background singer (sometime keyboardist?) who had a strong voice, and no problems with his signal. Checking out the band's page made clear the strength of Chavis's vocal talents. That said, for me, some of their harmonies weren't quite reflective of the sonic territory they were creating. I'm not sure if it was going to a major third, or what. Some "power chord" harmonies reference classic rock 'n' roll moments, but because they're such the tried and true go-to harmonies, they sometimes dilute the nuances of an individual writer's, or in this case band's meaning or intention. Admittedly, however, I have been told that I have a thing for tritones; I do like intervals that catch me off guard and take me the unexpected place. Again, those monitor issues may have been at work in this dynamic.

This was my first time seeing Apollo Heights, an interesting set from a group heralded by some as a downtown legend. They've been working with producer (and former Cocteau Twin) Robin Guthrie, and have an album, White Music For Black People, that's going to drop in October (OK, I can't help but think about the semiotics of authority and ownership signified in that title, and the further problematizing of a problem which itself becomes a signification,... yeah, but moving right along...). The lead singer, Daniel Chavis is, like I said, a highly emotional performer, and "3rd wave" rhythm guitarist Monk Washington (pictured right) was himself propelled forward with intense bursts of passion that had him covering half the stage, and occasionally moved to wail a lyric off-mic; clearly emotionally resonating with Chavis. Meanwhile, rhythm guitarist Honeychild Coleman and lead guitarist Danny Chavis (twin to Daniel) carved out their specific spaces on the stage and mainly kept to them. Creating a shimmering wall of guitars, live, is a delicate thing. A lot of charisma was present, definitely a band with considerable stage presence, and serious skills as well. Apollo Heights has three guitarists, a lead vocalist, a sometime keyboardist and backing vocalist, with a digital rhythm section provided via an Apple laptop by Hayato Nakao. I couldn't help but think about all the session drummers whose careers dried up overnight with the digital beat apparatus, as well as the relief of some bands who run through drummers like "sands through the hour glass of time," to just have a rhythm section that can be depended on to show up at a gig as long as there's an electrical outlet. I appreciated their guitar work, which reminded me of mid-80's Cocteau Twins, The Church (e.g. "Under the Milky Way Tonight" without the acoustic intro), and currently TEA, who was associated with the 4AD universe back in the 80's, and manages to achieve this effect on recordings layering her own guitar parts (harder than it sounds). Nakao's work is a great mix of live electric bass and programmed beats, with an effect both organic and still hinting at something ominously industrial (a future-city feel). Things were running long and though clearly they wanted to stay on for another song, and the crowd excitedly shouted for more, after checking with the house they left the stage without playing the number they had planned to dedicate to Ed Marshall. A very friendly band too: most of them hung out after their set and socialized with friends and folks enjoying the energy. (pictured above right, l-r: Daniel Chavis and Coleman)
















Next up was MuthaWit (pictured above with Social Hero's generously lent drumkit), sans drummer and cellist. Well, almost, Boston Fielder proved he does do a little bit of everything when he got behind the drum kit, substituting for the absent Jeremy "Mr. Bean" Clemson (no, the above riff on digital rhythm sections was not a dig at Mr. Bean). Drumming on it's own is challenging, pinch-hit drumming while singing lead and playing guitar is a almost completely unenviable situation in my book, and a lot of people wouldn't have dared; maybe tried for something more ambient(which can backfire), or canceled the gig. So really, hats off to MuthaWit and Mr. Fielder for persevering, with humor (Fielder introduced them saying, "we're The Ed Marshall Band, I'm Ed Marshall," then pointed a drumstick at bassist Sam Fernandez and continued, "this is Ed Marshall on bass," bassist Sam Fernandez smiled and gave a short bow, beside him guitarist Lou Rossi was at the ready when Fielder drawled, "no, no I'm only kidding, I'm Boston..." (pictured above right: Fielder on drums, etc)

(pictured left: Sam Fernandez makin' that bass give it up)

(pictured below: the fleet fingers of Ben Tyree)
(pictured left: the man and his horns, V. Jeffrey Smith)
















I love the subtle layers of Southern-inflected delivery (Fielder's a Mississippi native), but I can't think of how to distill that moment properly here--some of it's in the drawl, often what's said is something that could be corny with another delivery, but definitely isn't in this instance--it's warm and playful. Really, everyone was giving Ed Marshall much love, and Marshall being Marshall was unobtrusively clicking away, documenting the whole thing. MuthaWit had folks dancing, playing a dynamic set, as usual, however brief as they were mindful that the show was running behind schedule. Unfortunately, I had to leave soon after and missed most of the set by Social Hero (another family affair with brothers on bass and lead guitar, and father and son on vocals--gotta love it--dad's got his own music legacy and seriously rocks, no lie. I think was a fan of every Foreigner song to which he added vocals!). I completely missed the great Pillow Theory. I'll have to see if I can catch them another time. A fantastic night and from what I've heard, all of the performers are chomping at the bit to do it again. I too am looking forward to seeing what's next from Marshall. (pictured above right, l-r: Fielder, Fernandez, Rossi, and Ed Marshal photo of Fielder on-screen; pictured above left, l-r: Tyree works the Crybaby™, Fielder keeps the anti-matter time)

* * * * *

(The Trouble with) Being Young, Inquisitive, & Black, and Female
OK, this story from Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) is making the internet rounds, but it was stunning to me to finally have this confirmed by a study. You know, about 142 years after manumitted black women and men realized this was a problem, and some 300+ years after black folks, who were colonized in their countries of origin and then colonized again in the colonies of the "New World" also came to this clear determination. What "determination" or "problem"? Well, that many educators see curious and bold/fearless little black girls as a challenge to their authority, and treat their excited inquiries as a disciplinary issue: "New Study: Making Black Girls 'Ladylike' Discourages Achievement"

Based on two years' observation at a Texas middle school, the Ohio University study found that teachers' class- and race-based assumptions of black femininity made them more likely to discourage behaviors and characteristics that lead to class involvement and educational success. The teachers' actions appeared to be less the result of conscious racism or sexism than an unwitting tendency to view the behavior of black girls through a different lens than that of their peers.

Among the findings of the study: black girls who actively sought out the positive attention of their teachers in class by asking questions were reprimanded by teachers, while boys and girls of other racial and ethnic groups behaving similarly were rarely disciplined in the same manner for their actions.

(Note that while the above quote doesn't specifically mention it, the study's findings suggest enthusiastic little black boys aren't faring well either.) Check this flickr photo from the the GenderPAC webpage on this recently completed Ohio University study of two Texas middle schools. (BTW, I've been told by Texas black folks that they are a particularly proud bunch--can't tell them nothing.) But this little girl working her lower lip does look womanish, doesn't she? Like any minute a ring of white teachers might enter the frame, encircling the girl, singing, "What do you you do with a problem like Marquita?!" (to the melody of the famous Sound of Music tune). Maybe if black girls knew from an early age they were guaranteed a childhood of respect and encouragement within the nation's public education system they wouldn't throw the heavy attitude. But wait, the report says that when the same behavior--assertively raising a hand and asking questions until they are satisfactorily answered by the teacher, "seeking the positive attention of their teachers"--is enacted by girls and boys of other ethnicities, the reprimand isn't of the same "manner" (read: severity?). Why is there reprimand at all if a student is looking for "positive attention?" Isn't that what most teachers dream of, reaching the students? But one teacher at a school in the study was quoted as saying, "'A lot of the females, especially Black females here, try to have some authority over me in class. I say to them 'Uh-uh—I'm the only adult in here.' But they think they are adults too...'" Further there is the foregrounding of black girl sexuality:

The study found that many teachers described black female students as too sexually provocative in dress and behavior, a finding consistent with a 2004 study which found that girls of color are pre-tracked for underachievement because of teacher beliefs that they are hypersexual and willing to invest more energy in their appearance than in academic pursuits.

Oh, come to think of it this little brown girl does have an expression of some peavishness. But note that while her body is forward, her face is turned away from the front of the classroom, or certainly away from that adult female figure in the upper left of the frame. Could that expression be one of frustration with constantly being ignored by the teacher, and told that she's not being lady-like because the teachers feel that black girl's assertive in-classroom behavior (academic womanishness) is directly tied to sexual permissiveness outside of the classroom (sexual womanishness). Ain't that a blip. You get punished enough for being enthusiastic about education, with implications and then wow, surprise, you start veering towards developing a part of yourself that does get a "positive" response: your ability to be sexual at an early age ("if I can't learn enough in school to make my science experiment better than yours, I'll learn enough outside of those walls so my "milkshake" will be?) Anybody else see the self-fulfilling prophecy, the tragic boomerang catch-22? Anybody else notice that the wording of the report is "teachers" as a monolith, not "white teachers" as a specific demographic. Yes, these issues run deep, as Taneika Taylor, director of GenderPAC's Children As They Are program, comments:
Young girls need to be encouraged by educators and parents to achieve and explore, not to curb their enthusiasm for life and learning in order to be 'proper ladies.'
I think that quote ought to be on a banner in every classroom, and available free as a magnet for every little girl to put on her family's refrigerator and point to at key moments.

Endnote I: After writing this entry it occurred to me to think about what it means for a black man/black men to be mining the emo/shoegazing/etc. territory. It's different than James Brown declaring it's man's world and then howling, "but it ain't nothin', nothin', without a woman or a girl." Plus, as I recall that tune was actually co-written with a woman. Is it like Son House singing in one breath about how a woman did him so wrong that he'll hate her to the end, and in the next saying to her, "but if you ever feel like writing me a letter..."? Or Bobby Blue Bland singing about shadowing his woman's every emotion on, "Ain't That Lovin' You"? I suppose those songs talk about male angst, but all in the context of heterosexual relationships. Maybe there could be other social issues being implicitly referenced, but it's all through the prism of love, or a man's need for and vulnerability to the love a woman (good or bad). I suppose it's just some kind of revolutionary thing that a black man could be emotive, vulnerable, confused, anguished in a song, and not have it hinge on romantic love, but on dealing with complexities of having an inner life, and not have to abandon his cultural background/identity in so dealing. Or have the only allowable manifestation of that complexity be the delineations of tensions concerning his ethnicity and relationship to social structures and institutions. Yeah, maybe that's some kind of serious change.

An interesting piece on Apollo Heights by Ben Malkin on Perfect Sound Forever.