Sunday, April 30, 2006

50 Cent with Haifa Wehbe in Beirut?

According to K. Real, Haifa Wehbe may be performing in Beirut in concert with US rap artists 50 Cent, The Game, & G-Unit on June 10th. K. Real says that he is working on locking the show in. Hard to believe, but I will keep looking for a confirmation.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Listen to Neil Young's "Living With War" while you petition your senators

Here's a pretty cool culture-politics synergy. is now streaming Neil Young's new album, Living With War, on a site where you can sign a petition to get the troops out of Iraq and send it to your Senators.

The cause is important, and the album is great. It's due out on May 8.

I'll never, ever forget watching the concert that was broadcast on virtually all TV stations to memorialize the victims of 9/11, just a few days after the attack. Neil Young's performance of John Lennon's "Imagine" was gutsy, beautiful and inspiring.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Bushwar Blues": Billy Bragg

More music critical of the Shrub: Billy Bragg's "Bushwar Blues," which you can download here. It's essentially an updated version of Leadbelly's immortal "Bourgeois Blues." This has been out for awhile; I found this at the Rootsworld News.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Peaches: "Impeach My Bush"; Neil Young: "Impeach the President"

Both Peaches and Neil Young have announced forthcoming albums which stick it to the Shrub. Peaches' third album, due out on XL Recordings on July 11, is called Impeach My Bush; its tracks include "Fuck or Kill," "Two Guys (For Every Girl)," and "Boys Wanna Be Her." Peaches recently performed at the "Bring Em Home Now" Concert for Peace in New York City.

Neil Young's forthcoming album, Living with War, includes the tracks, "Impeach the President" and "Shock and Awe." The title track includes the lyrics, "I raise my hand in peace/I never bow to the laws of the thought police/I take a holy vow ... to never kill again/In the big hotels ... in the mosques and the doors of the old museum ... I take a holy vow ... to never kill again." (No info yet on when it is to be released.)

Neil and Peaches join Green Day, Merle Haggard, Steve Earle, Mary Gauthier, and many others in expressing their opposition to Bush and his Iraq adventure. When will the Democrats sign up?

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Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) Calls Off Planned Tel Aviv Concert

Roger Waters, ex-Pink Floyd (1965-1983) and since then a solo artist, was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv, but has called off the concert in response to appeals by Palestinian artists and cultural organizations as well as Israeli refuseniks. Amazing. No US pop star could ever get away with this. Waters has also been very vocal in expressing his opposition to Israel's apartheid wall. Read more about this at ElectronicIntifada (and thanks, Laurie).

P.S. After doing a little more research, I've learned that Waters has moved his concert from Tel Aviv to Neve Shalom, a mixed Arab-Jewish village in Israel, near Jerusalem. So he's not boycotting, but trying to encourage peaceful coexistence.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Immigration Rally in Springdale, Arkansas

Immigration Rally
Originally uploaded by tsweden.

Today thousands rallied in Springdale, Arkansas (just north of my hometown of Fayetteville), joining the hundreds of thousands who rallied throughout the country in favor of fair and humane immigration reform. I'll report on the estimates of the crowd when I read the papers tomorrow morning, but it was huge. The state of Arkansas has had the fastest growing Hispanic population (percentage-wise) in the entire US, and Northwest Arkansas is one of the most important centers of Hispanic growth in the state, due to the construction boom and the poultry industry (Tysons and others). Tysons did not even bother opening its plants here today. Si, se puede!

I'll post more photos from the rally on my flickr account (see right column) soon, I hope.

(Postscript: Local papers reported the size of the crowd at 3-5,000, but I believe it was bigger. One third of the population of Springdale (total, 60,000) is now Hispanic, according to the results of a census released in the last week.)

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Kominas: Islamic Punk on MTV-Desi

Check out the report on The Kominas (which means "The Bastards") on MTV Desi here. According to MTV Desi, they were inspired to form the band by Michael Muhammad Knight's novel, The Taqwacores. Their song, "Rumi Was A Homo," is a must-listen.

When I read Knight's book, I couldn't believe that there actually was an Islamic punk scene, but Mike assured me there is, and sent me a CD with a few cuts. A compilation is forthcoming, I believe, from Alternative Tentacles. You can go to the Kominas site on myspace and download 3 of their songs, for free. It's all, as they say, halal beats.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Unspeakable Love to Be Launched in Lebanon

I just received this press release from my friend Mai Ghoussoub at Saqi Books.

Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East

by Brian Whitaker (£14.99)

Launching in London on Wednesday 10 May at Candid CafĂ©, EC1, Unspeakable Love is the first book to be written on the topic of gay and lesbian life in today’s Middle East;

Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker is a journalist whose wide travels in the region have given him a unique opportunity to meet and talk to people who are affected by the Arab world’s strict taboos against homosexuality;

Saqi is taking the unprecedented step of launching Unspeakable Love in the Middle East on Wednesday 5 April with the support of Helem – the only openly gay rights organisation in an Arab country;

Deeply informed and engagingly written, Unspeakable Love draws long overdue attention to an issue that many regard as too contentious to discuss. Whitaker treats gay rights as fundamental to the wider topic of human rights in the Middle East and provides fascinating comparisons with similar struggles in the West in the 1960s.

‘Anyone interested in reform in the Arab world must read this book.’ Mai Yamani, Research Fellow at Chatham House and author of Cradle of Islam

‘This is an important, timely book, and lucid to boot – a must-read for anyone who believes in human rights.’ Rabih Alameddine, author of Koolaids and I, the Divine

Unspeakable Love will be published on 1 September in the United States. For further information about the launches or to request an invitation, please contact Lara Frankena on 020 7221 9347 or email

Brian Whitaker is Middle East editor of The Guardian and has a website at He is available for interview.

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Rolling Stones Rice Krispies

A must see video, an amazing advertisement for Rice Krispies recorded by the Rolling Stones in 1964.

(The Rolling Stones have recorded the second-best Condi song, "Sweet Neo-Con." Steve Earle's "Condi Condi" gets top honors. But the Earle has no Rice Krispies song that I'm aware of.)

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Update (September 22, 2008): the old link is dead, but here's the vid at another location:

Deep Purple Baghdad: Archaeology Resists the Ba'th

Interesting tidbit from an article in today's New York Times about the director of the Baghdad Museum, which today sits full of treasures but empty of visitors (it remains closed to the public). During the days of Saddam, the director Donny George, who was a Ba'th Party member, used to play in a Deep Purple cover band called 99 Percent (as in 99% perfect). The income he earned from the band helped tide him over. (Plus it must have been great fun to pound out "Smoke on the Water" near the banks of the Tigris.)

The other thing I liked about the story is that Mr. George used to get out of Ba'th Party meetings (which no doubt were frequent and endless) by going off on digs at all of Iraq's thousands of archaeological sites.

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Condi: Rock Star

Back in December Joel Brinkley wrote a terminally silly and wishful thinking article in the New York Times about Condi's travels and her "rock star image" abroad.

How's that image doing these days? Today's New York Times has a report today on Condi's trip to England, which tells us that she "faced more protests and public embarrassment here on Saturday" and that it has been a "two-day run through a raucous, mishap-ridden gantlet." Not only have British Muslim protesters given her hell, but her fellow rock stars wouldn't even meet with her.

"On Friday, Ms. Rice had to content herself with a visit to the Liverpool school where Paul McCartney studied instead of meeting him — and had to face a short line of students wearing T-shirts that said: 'No torture. No compromise.' During a visit to a school in Blackburn, she was greeted with chants of 'Condi Rice go home!'"

There was a concert for Condi at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall on Saturday. Poet Roger McGough (who used to be in a 60s pop band called The Scaffold with Paul McCartney's brother Mike) was supposed to host, but pulled out last week, in the wake of calls for protests outside the event by the Merseyside Stop the War Coalition. Singer Jennifer John, who agreed to perform at the event, chose to perform John Lennon's utopian pacifist song, "Imagine," as a form of protest. (Imagine no religion...). Condi was supposed to visit a mosque in Blackburn yesterday, but that invitation was withdrawn due to pressures from anti-war activists.

Some rock star. Eat your words, Joe Brinkley! (Although one might argue in defense of Brinkley, who was just doing what most reporters do these days: copy the statements put out by government PR and spinsters.)

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