Fortnightly(ish) review: Albright, Obama, Hankx3

Madeline Albright is to receive a Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz award for her “jazz diplomacy” next month.  Read about that diplomacy, and Bill Clinton’s saxophone skills, in this article from the Washington Post.

Hank Williams Jr recently called President Obama anti-American.  Jr told an 8,500 strong crowd at a concert in Iowa that “we’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the US and we hate him”.  This review of his latest album calls it a “well-produced parody of Southern culture and Tea Party politics”.  Hank Williams Jr is my least favourite Hank, even just from a musical perspective.  We all know his Dad, so here’s something from his son, Hank Williams III, an interesting character I recommend checking out.

Who knew Insane Clown Posse were still a thing?  Their fans identify as Juggalos.  Genius.  Problem is, the FBI classified Juggalos collectively as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” and “criminal organization formed on the street” in its 2011 Gang Threat Assessment.  The Posse has decided to hit back and is suing the FBI for defaming its fans.  Those insane clowns.

Back to Obama, apparently hip-hop has given up on the once hip-hop President.  Perhaps to compensate, Obama’s campaign office has put out a video showing his support from DJs.

And so from America to the rest of the world.  Well at least South and Central Asia…Goths in Uzbekistan are having a hard time. Read about their travails, including government clamp downs on the “alien” musical genres of rock, rap and metal in this BBC article.  A recent edition of ABC Radio National’s Correspondents Report visited Afghanistan’s rock school.  And, finally, read about Sufi music and sectarian politics in neighbouring Pakistan in the cleverly but misleadingly titled ‘Peace, Love & Pakistan‘ on the Global Mail.

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Fortnightly(ish) Review: Punk Using Its Power for Good and Evil

News

Iranian nuclear facilities were recently attacked by malware.  The malicious software, of unknown origin, pumped AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ through the infected computers’ speakers.

It’s probably fair to say that the annual United Nations General Assembly is generally considered to be a bit of a yawn-fest.  This year though a concert called ‘Global Festival‘ is being held concurrently with the UNGA.  Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the Foo Fighters, Band of Horses and the Black Keys are playing, with the aim of raising funds for various causes including polio eradication, which is facing a $500 million shortfall.  The concert doesn’t raise funds through ticket prices: there are none.  Instead, patrons must earn their ticket by completing actions recommended by various global organisations, such as signing petitions and writing letters.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan decided to let the world know that he takes his cues from Springsteen this week.  His speech was widely panned for being dorky and embarrassing, but nonetheless praised for being tactically clever.  It both effectively conveyed a message (Swan and the Labor Party are pro-worker and, like Catwoman and Bane in the latest Batman flick, anti-billionaire) and managed to garner significant coverage despite the stiff, Olympic, competition.

Opinion

Russian female punk group Pussy Riot have been making many a headline over the past couple of weeks because the trial of three of its members has started.  They even have Anthony Kiedis getting political.  If you’re wondering, they have officially been charged with ‘hooliganism’.  Foreign Policy gets a bit overexcited and claims Pussy Riot (who seem to be singularly lacking in musical talent, even for a punk band, just by the way) has “perhaps given punk rock a future as a global force for justice and freedom”.  They reckon that – until Pussy Riot – the “high-water mark of punk’s geopolitical relevance” was Crass’s 1982 song critical of the Falklands War, ‘How Does it Feel to be the Mother of 1000 Dead?’ and subsequent production of a hoax tape, widely believed at the time to be a conversation between Thatcher and Reagan.

The shooting of six American Sikhs in Wisconsin earlier this month is a reminder that punk can also be a vehicle for those with less progressive views.  The shooter was a “frustrated neo-nazi” and leader of a racist punk band.  The same is of course true of any genre.  I always associate hip-hop with progressive, leftist politics because that was its major theme when Australian hip-hop got good in Sydney and Melbourne in the early 2000s.  Here in Mongolia though, the country’s most prominent rapper is proudly xenophobic, frequently rhyming against China and the Chinese.

 

Inside Story has a brief article on politically and religiously motivated repression of music.  The author draws a distinction between musicians victimised for the content of their music (Pinochet’s exeuction of musician Victor Jara) and for the form of their music.  Apparently the Nazis could not abide twelve-tone music – the form devised by Austrian Arnold Schoenberg.

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