Friday, September 20, 2013

The Monkees - Show Time

Compilation (single artist)

Just a quickie upload for you all. This was just something I put together on the fly to see if it was possible to compile a decent "lost" tenth Monkees LP out of their 1970-72 solo material. I think this probably makes more sense than doing something like this for The Beatles, which a) has already been done to death and b) is consistent with the fact that The Monkees didn't really play as a unit post 1967 anyway.

The result is no masterpiece, but for Monkees fans this should make for a nice listening experience, not too far removed from PRESENT. The hardest part was narrowing it down to just four songs from Mike, so I just went with his two hits and two catchy album tracks. The cover art is directly lifted from a 1969 tour program.

Show Time!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Through a Vast Crystal Sphere Presents: History of Chillout vols. 6-10 (1967-1969)

Compilation (various artist)

As I sit here in my office considering for a moment what it would take to achieve real lasting positive change throughout this world, the obvious answer has occurred to me that we all must strive to annihilate the arbitrary borders that divide humanity against itself.  Or to approach it another way, no social problem can be justly addressed if the concerns of one sex, race, religion or creed are promoted over another's.

I'm sure few who view this site would argue strongly against the fact that American society in its current form is unjust. Far from being a meritocracy in keeping with the principles of our Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", it seems as though we have indeed been born into a system where toxic living environments, economic enslavement and government tyranny are are still tangible threats against the many.

As such, more than a few Americans will likely point towards unjust persecution by forces beyond their control as but one example of an out of control Federal Government being run by a greedy elite, whom with the help of the vast resources at their disposal regularly manipulate the masses for their own continued benefit.

While there is some truth in this notion of a national or global elite, it is also likely that, as with any other group comprised of individuals, each of these so called "elite" differ wildly in their personal beliefs and values. I believe that this is where sensationalist fear-mongers such as Alex Jones lose the plot. Because as with any other social structure, one should not just simply view a large group of individuals as one single living, breathing organism.

Within the "1%" exist not just the Donald Trumps and Koch Brothers of the world, but also the 50 or so large group of multi-millionaires who recently flew to Ethiopia as part of charity: water-- a humanitarian effort created to help aid with the provision of clean and safe drinking water for those who could not normally attain any.

Over and again, we can see that targeting citizens in large groups is a pointless, counterproductive endeavor. Yet this brand of simplistic, irrational thinking seems as deeply entrenched into our cultural landscape as it has ever been throughout history. Instead of demanding equal justice for all,  many of us outwardly seem more concerned with our self-identified groups attaining their "piece of the pie".

Sadly, it seems that many of us who self-identify as socially liberal are often the greatest offenders when it comes to this vague form of devaluation. Whereas the term "liberal" would seem to connotate an aura of open-mindedness or thinking outside the box, in actuality an almost slavish adherence to political correctness has nearly rendered free speech a bygone notion from an antiquated age within certain leftist circles.

Comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla has recounted numerous times on his podcast how he was subsequently branded a "racist" by bloggers at the Huffington Post and elsewhere, after he suggested to California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom that African-American and Hispanic communities within the United States would do well to address the issues of family togetherness and commitment to education if they would like to see conditions improve for their respective populace.

While I find Carolla's argument to be overly-simplistic and somewhat in line with what I'm talking about when I say that it's counter-productive to address groups of people as though they all think and act alike, nevertheless the HuffPo blogger's (and others') knee-jerk reaction of branding Carolla a racist simply because his opinion on social matters differs from theirs is a blatant example of free speech-suppressing groupthink gone wrong. It reminds me of nothing so much as the title of the old Ice-T album I used to listen to while growing up: Freedom of Speech (Just Watch What You Say).

Speaking of the golden age gangsta rap, I was reading through Robert Christgau's enormous online archives last night (which I highly recommend everyone here go do!) and came across a think piece he wrote back in 1991 in reaction to the kerfuffle over Ice Cube's Death Certificate. It took me a minute to remember what all the fuss over this particular CD was about back then, but then the words to "No Vaseline", "I Wanna Kill Sam" and "No Korea" suddenly came back to me. You see, at the time Ice Cube was embroiled in a bit of a controversy regarding his lyrics and their uniformly negative portrayals of Jews, Koreans and the entire white race, not to mention his apparent desire to rape his old band-mate Eazy-E anally without the use of said petroleum jelly product.

This of course set up one of the classic First Amendment issues of my time, wherein one of the era's greatest rappers impulsively (??) decided to fan the flames of the still-smoldering racial fire lit in the wake of the then-recent Rodney King riots in a transparent attempt to generate much filthy lucre via the sure-to-be controversy set off by his hateful proclamations. Naturally the media (Christgau included) played right into Cube's plan, and much hand-wringing was done in the name of "how much is too much?" and "we need to have an honest talk about race relations".

Of course from today's perspective, there's no doubt that what Cube was preaching at the time on Death Certificate, dope as his flow surely was, was racist beyond belief; and yet ultimately Christgau and many of his peers still came out in support of Def Jam's right to release the album. Better to err on the side of freedom of speech and artistic expression, they seemed to be saying, even if the ideas being expressed are horrific. Anyway, you can read the article here:

At any rate, it's the final sentence of this piece that made me recall it while typing this. In it, Christgau states: "Racist/sexist speech is an effect of oppression far more than it's a cause. It won't be eliminated until racism and sexism are eliminated. But it still sucks--and human beings shouldn't shut up about it."

For the record, I stand in complete agreement that Cube's album deserved to be released, but yet I still find myself in various stages of agreement/ disagreement with Christgau's proclamation. While I do concur that institutionalized racism, if not sexism, is still a large problem endemic to American society; to just sit back and tolerate or even condone someone who speaks ill of an entire subset of society as though they operate within a single hive mind simply because said person is reacting to institutionalized oppression rather than generating it, is still not only directly counter to the goal of a unified, thriving society, but is actually demeaning inasmuch it denies said person agency over their own thoughts.

Now one could argue that the same could also be said about Carolla and his beliefs regarding certain ethnic communities, and I don't think I'd disagree with that necessarily. In a certain sense, both Adam and Cube are reacting to the problems that surround them in society by pointing their respective fingers at desperate racial groups. But the similarity stops there. If we truly see ourselves as socially liberal beings, then we must learn to distinguish between:

a) a well-reasoned and thought-out argument that we happen to disagree with


b) torrents of reactionary, hate-filled profanity and overwhelming detestation directed at entire groups of individuals...

...before we arbitrarily throw out the "racism" tag in its most weasel-wordy sense.

Hell, I'm pretty sure the kinder, gentler Ice Cube of today (if his current "cool uncle" persona is at all indicative of who is really is) would like nothing better than to put his inflammatory 1991 self behind him. But Adam Carolla? He's going to stick to his opinions; and well he should, because in the end Carolla is advocating for family togetherness as a solution-- not murder, anal rape or anything of that sort. As such, I feel that most enlightened people who adhere to a socially liberal mindset can distinguish an obvious difference here.

To sum up this diatribe, I would just like to opine that for the world to advance in a productive and civil manner, that it is important for people from all walks of life to push beyond society-imposed restrictions and rather to begin operating from a more humanistic perspective. Yet at the same time, we should all be rallying against any sort of dogma that restricts our ability to argue our positions in a civil, rational manner, whatever that might be.

As such, most rational individuals should be able to ascertain why name-calling and stereotyping are two of the biggest impediments to progress that a society can shackle itself with. If we can, unilaterally speaking, open our eyes, if we can push beyond borders, then we surely should be able to see that it is really the meek and the needy-- of all countries and creeds-- that truly deserve our attention.

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