Monday, July 31, 2006

Very useful resource on Hizballah

A primer, from Middle East Report, on Hizballah, written by anthropologist Lara Deeb. Deeb is the author of the award-winning An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi'i Lebanon.

As noted by The Arabist, it shows: "there is no distinct 'Hizbullah' before 1985, it is not clear what Hizbullah’s responsibility with the 1982 Marine barracks bombing is, and it cannot honestly be called a terrorist group like Al Qaeda."

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Blues in My Heart

Blues in My Heart
Originally uploaded by tsweden.

For some reason, today I felt like hearing Elmore James' "Sunnyland Blues." So I dug into my record collection and drug out this LP. After I listened, I noticed the cover, and was reminded that I had bought it in Beirut, Lebanon, in '73 or '74. I lived there between 1964 and 1976. Those were great years and also crazy years; Beirut was wonderful, cosmopolitan, and yet the gap between rich and poor seemed to be growing and one could foresee a social explosion, which came in the form of horrendous civil war in 1975 and which eventually forced me, along with many others, to flee. Among other things, I played in a blues band, The Bliss Street Blues Band, from 1973-75. (See a photo here.) The group played a reunion gig in summer 2003 in London, which I made it to, and this summer in Beirut, at the end of June. (For various reasons, I didn't make it.) The band members, including George Bisharat, fortunately all made it out before Israel started blowing up Lebanon again. I've not been able to get back to Lebanon since 1976. This would have been a good summer to go; now maybe it'll be 10 years more before on would want to go again.

Lebanon is being blown up, and I've got blues in my heart. (But maybe not rhythm in my soul!)

Note the yellow label, which says "Prix imposé au Liban 12 LL" (price in Lebanon, 12 Lebanese pounds, a little less than $4 at that time.)

I bought quite a few blues album's at Beirut's record stores in those days. I even own an Etta James album that was made in Lebanon. That's how cosmopolitan it was.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Give Money to This Guy!

At last, a courageous Democrat. (OK, so 7 Congresspeople voted against the "we support Israel 1000% percent" bill recently passed.) Jonathan Tasini, challenging Hilary Clinton in the upcoming primary, is actually critical of Israel's actions in Lebanon and Gaza, reports the New York Times. Israel has “committed many acts of brutality and violations of human rights and torture,” he said in an interview with the blog Room 8. "Are your actions in violation of the international norms of the Geneva Convention, and so on? And I think it’s sad to say, but it’s clear, yeah.”

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson responded, "It’s outrageous, offensive and beyond the pale.” Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said of Tasini, “His ignorance is appalling.”

For Hilary's enlightened views on Israel, go here. (In her running after Israel, of course, she is not at all out of line with mainstream Democratic leaders. Reid, Pelosi, and Kerry all expressed their outrage yesterday at Iraqi PM al-Maliki's criticisms of Israel.)

One Way to Help Lebanon

I quote from an email from The Nation: "Nation columnist Naomi Klein is urging support for the Sanayeh Relief Center, established by a group of non-sectarian Lebanese leftists. Sanayeh is providing relief at 27 schools in the city of Beirut, which are currently housing 9,117 displaced people--more than 1,000 under the age of five--from the southern regions of Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut."

Check out the Sanayeh Relief Center's blog for updates. Here are the details on how to contribute. The girls pictured here have taken refuge at Sanayeh park, in central Beirut, where hundreds are "camping out," in the open.


Peaches' "Downtown" Video and more!

Check it out here. Peaches plays the male and the female part--nasty herm that she is.

And a snippet of Peaches performing at Irving Plaza, and a great MTV of Peaches performing "AA XXX" in concert in Japan in 2004 (you have to register for this one due to the "inappropriate" content). This is before-the-band (the Herms) vintage, and demonstrates the inimitable Peaches showmanship.

And, check out her podcasts on AOL Music's the interface. Live performances of "Tent in Your Pants" and "Hit It Hard" for you to download.


Pareles on Peaches

New York Times critic John Pareles reported yesterday on Peaches' New York City concert. His report, correctly!, is positive, and includes some smart, and not-so smart, observations:

"Every one of her songs is about sex: straight, gay, bi, all-purpose."

"Lately she has been shifting from raps, which take a lot of writing and rhyming, to hard-rock songs that allow for far more repetition; luckily, Peaches can sing, wailing like Joan Jett, and now she occasionally plays guitar." (Comment: I'm not sure why Peaches made this shift, which I noted in my review of the Lawrence concert, but I'm sure it's not because she was averse to writing and rhyming. Her writing and rhyming were brilliant, but not to be judged, as Pareles does, by comparison to rap. Peaches did not just start picking up the guitar, but used to play it in her previous concerts. She plays a bit more now than she used to.)

"The musical upgrade [playing with a band], as Peaches called it, puts more punch and variety in her music and frees her for more showmanship. At Irving Plaza she performed onstage, on a speaker cabinet, in the balcony and on the dance floor." (Comment: no, it just allows for a different kind of showmanship. Without a band, Peaches also used to perform on any surface she could get to.)

"Compared with Ms. [Joan] Jett, Madonna or Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peaches is less an object of desire than a pep-rally yell leader; her raps often have the rhythms of football cheers. Her material is closer to a checklist than to a fantasy, and her audience finds it amusing, not shocking." (Peaches frequently refers to herself as a "sexual conduit," someone who enables sexual turn-ons.)

What's funny about reading Pareles article is that he can't really describe what Peaches is about, because, as he says, "Most of her lyrics can’t be quoted in this family newspaper."

It appears from Pareles' report that the NYC show did not feature the kind of dancing I witnessed in Lawrence. Someone told me that there were no dancers at the Philadelphia shows as well. So maybe the Lawrence show was the most provocative! What, indeed, is the Matter with Kansas?

Now I'm going back to reading the incredibly depressing news about Lebanon...


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kufiya footnotes

Here are some particularly dumb attacks on kufiya wearers: one a video from Michelle Malkin (it takes her a couple minutes to get there) dating from June and a blog from Malkin today, linking Zapatero and other "jihadis" and "anti-Semites" wearing "hate couture" (like Ricky Martin and Howard Dean) with links to other sources linking kufiya-wearing to solidarity with "terrorists."

Kufiyaspotting #11: Spain's PM Zapatero

Ha'aretz reports that Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero accused Israel of using "abusive force" in Lebanon while addressing a meeting of young Socialists on Wednesday. Israel's ambassador to Spain said that these remarks had "damaged" Spanish-Israel relations. According to Ha'aretz, Zapatero was wearing a black-and white "Palestinian scarf" (Ha'aretz can't say kufiya, although the word is well known in Israel--but perhaps Reuters, the source of the report, is to blame) while making the remarks, given to him by one of the young Socialists.

Last kufiyaspotting here.

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What Are You Doing To Prevent This?

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Peaches Falls into The Gap

I had just finished the review of Peaches' Lawrence concert below, and was eating lunch and watching a rerun of last night's "The Colbert Report." An ad for The Gap came on, and I recognized Peaches' song "Do Ya" from Impeach My Bush. "Livin' the dream, whatever that means/It's time to come clean, when you're rockin' the scene..."

It's a great song (nothing that you couldn't play on college radio and not get fined by the FCC), no overt sexual messages. Sorry to see it put to the uses of The Gap. If I'd been reading my New York Times closely, I would have known that the Talauega Brothers were responsible.


Peaches Rocks the Shocker in Lawrence

I've seen Peaches in concert twice before, in Memphis in October 2003, and in Austin in 2004. She is out on tour again, promoting the new release Impeach My Bush. For the first time, she's touring with a band; its members are JD Samson (Le Tigre) on keyboards, Samantha Maloney (Hole, Courtney Love Band, Motley Crue, Eagles of Death Metal) on drums, and Radio Sloan (The Need, Courtney Love Band) on guitar. I caught her in Lawrence, Kansas, at the Granada Theatre, on July 16, on what I think was the second date of the tour.

Peaches started the show appearing onstage alone, performing "Tent in Your Pants" (from Impeach) wearing a silver outfit that reminded me of what Nona Hendryx used to wear in the early 90s: leather, metallic, space-age shoulders. The song is hilarious, a great way to start. One of the great lines: “Hurts so good I got a soregasm.” The band appeared on stage, also dressed in those N. Hendryx-style outfits, for "Fuck or Kill" (from Impeach). (JD managed to look very macho, unlike his/her nerdy look when I saw him/her performing with Le Tigre last August.) Drummer Samantha looked terrific, her blonde hair blowing in the wind of the fan, her drums on a raised pedestal. Radio Sloan looked pretty butch too. Favorite lines from the song: "Let's face it, we all want tush. If I'm wrong, impeach my bush." A few times, Peaches let silence stand in for the "my," yielding: Impeach...Bush. The Lawrence crowd cheered. Next up, "Hit It Hard" (Impeach), followed by "Hot Rod" from The Teaches of Peaches: "You like it when we play hardcore/the panty war/then you get pussy galore."

Then, the outrageous "Two Guys (For Every Girl)" from Impeach, where Peaches performed the amazing task of getting a mostly hetero crowd (yes, there were some boys in dresses and some drag queens) to cheer for a song with the lyrics:
I wanna see you boys get down with each other
I wanna see you do your lil nasty brother
Just one thing i can't compromise
I wanna see you work it guy on guy

Next up, "Rock the Shocker" (Impeach) which featured six or so female dancers onstage, dressed, and moving, like strippers. Peaches demonstrated with her hands how to "rock the shocker": "thumbs up, fingers out, pull back" and got the audience to participate. Now everyone knows how to perform digital sex ("Stop relyin' on your dick").

"Rock Show" ("You came to see a rock show, a big gigantic cock show") from Teaches of Peaches is next, a song that highlights Peaches' rockstar qualities. She plays a V-neck guitar; as the song ends, she licks the crotch of the v-neck. Next, "Do Ya" off of Impeach, another pure rock song. Peaches plays guitar again, even performing a short, dissonant guitar solo. The very nasty "Downtown" (Impeach) follows, a song featuring a very sweetly sung chorus: "Cause I wanna take you down town/Show you my thing, show you my thing" and more lowdown verses: "You keep on pinin' for me to go dinin'/ I had me a meal and that keep me belly from whinin'." Two female dancers are onstage for this one, using boa umbrellas to reveal and conceal themselves, going "downtown" on each other behind the boas. Eventually, they strip down to reveal star pasties. (Can't believe this for a "rock" show!)

The famous "Lovertits" follows (from Teaches). By now Peaches is wearing a metallic burgundy bikini, and she gets on a bike and rides around on stage. This references the Super 8 "Lovertits" video she made, which is up on her website. (Go first to "photos+videos" and then to Super 8. The vid is uproarious, featuring two women riding around on oldschool bikes, stroking the chrome.) At the end of the song, Peaches stops the bike and puts her feet up on the handlebars, spread wide, mimicking the female position on the gynecologist's stirrups. (Thanks to my compadre Lissa for spotting that.) "Lovertits" is followed by the anthemic "Shake Yr Dix," (from Fatherfucker). Peaches' faithful tool, the Roland MC 909, is rolled out for her to play (almost all the sounds on Teaches and Fatherfucker are produced by the Roland). Six female dancers fill up the stage, and there is some serious titty shaking (especially from the girls with the pasties.) Meanwhile, guitarist Radio Sloan is at work with a hand pump, and then an enormous dick balloon appears, and is erected behind the drums. (This seems to substitute for the lack of males on stage shaking their dix.) Next up is "AA XXX" ("Only double A but I'm feelin' triple X") from Fatherfucker, with Peaches again playing the Roland. She's on the Roland again for "Slippery Dick" ("it's just a fish in the Atlantic") which features the hilarious lyrics "Can you cut the custard to clear the mustard?" During the song, the big balloon dick falls down. Efforts are made to revive it, and then two male roadies appear with a big stretcher, to clear it off. (Reminding us that the dick is mostly NOT hard, NOT omnipotent. The real material dick is no phallus.) Peaches then pushes the Roland, and it moves offstage, like a robot.

Back then to some more hardcore rock'n'roll with "Give'er" from Impeach. Next, "Boys Wanna Be Her" (Impeach), with both Peaches and Radio Sloan playing hard-driving guitar. "The boys wanna be her, the girls wanna be her": genderfuck. (And this is true: boys do wanna be Peaches.) For "You Love It" (Impeach), Peaches changes into a black bikini and puts on her patented black-and pink cape with the letters "XXX," and it's time for "You Love It," another rock number. ("I scream and pull my own hair/I turn into Linda Blair...You love it when I'm mad.") Finally, what is arguably Peaches' most famous song, "Fuck the Pain Away" from Teaches (which shows up, among other places, in the film Lost in Translation). I still wish I understood what a "Chrissy behind" is--who's the Chrissy? "What else is in the teaches of Peaches? Like sex on the beaches." On this, and I think all of her "old" numbers that she performed, Peaches fools around a bit with the lyrics, delivering the words with a slightly different emphasis and intonation, making the song new.

The group goes off the stage but comes back for an encore after prolonged applause. Peaches does "Hanky Code," a song that is not on Impeach, but available on the "Downtown" EP. (I downloaded it from itunes.) "Hanky Code" refers to the "code" of wearing hankies, whose position on the body and whose colors indicate particular preferences for sexual acts. Lots of girls came out on stage, shaking it, and wearing hankies in various positions and colors. A tall drag queen came out and simulated various acts with the girls, based on the preferences indicated by the hanky. This was a raucous, crazy number, very campy and burlesque. Next, "I U She" from Fatherfucker, Peaches' anthem to kinky bisexuality. "I don't have to make the choice, I like girls and I like boys...Whips, crops, canes, whatever, come on, baby let's go/Cuffs, chains, shorts or leather, come on, baby let's go." Appropriately, at this point Peaches and her band are wearing matching outfits with black denim jackets, and we learn from what is written on the backs of the jackets that the band is named: Peaches and the Herms. (Peaches got the notion of herm, a combination of her and him, from JD Samson. I guess JD Samson may have got it from the work of Anne Fausto-Sterling.) Third song of the encore set is "Get It" from Impeach, with Peaches back again on the Roland. "We got givin' and gettin', that's all that we've got": about sex as exchange rather than domination/subordination. Last song of the night is the kick-ass anthem "Rock 'n' Roll" (Fatherfucker). It's pure, celebratory rock'n'roll, with Peaches screaming "rock'n'roll" over and over and over. Again, the stage is filled with girls, some of them stripped down to the pasties. (By now, we are clear that they are there not just for the male spectator but for the female as well.)

The first two times I saw Peaches it was just her onstage (accompanied on 2 or 3 numbers by dancers), just her, larger than life, with all the presence and swagger and charisma of any famous rockstar. In the course of those shows where she was solo, she occupied and channeled numerous sex/gender positions, performing lots of costume changes. At one moment she was a blonde-wigged bimbo churning on a guitar like a cock-rock god, another moment she was channeling Elvis, in go-go boots, then she was in bondage, then she was shaking her tits and then shaking her microphone dick. Her music is its own, sui generis genre, a combination of classic rock, electro and hip-hop (but this description is inadequate). (3-4 years ago she was often classified as "electroclash," a label she correctly rejects.)

The solo shows were amazing spectacles, high energy, anarchic, with Peaches scrambling all over the stage, hanging from the rafters, climbing up the stacks of amps, jumping on the pool table, stomping on the bar in her high-heeled white boots. They were like queer performance art. With a band, it's a bit different. Peaches is of course the center of the show, but there's more going on onstage (the band, obviously, the props, all the dancers.) It's as amazing and as powerful a performance as the solo ones, but more like a queer burlesque rock'n'roll show (thanks LIssa!) now than performance art. Peaches does fewer costume changes and when she does, she gets the help of her roadies (perhaps it's the above-the-knee boots that she keeps on that cause her to need the assistance). She's not channeling so many different sex/gender positions. Instead, the songs do that, with all their props and the lyrics themselves, running from going "Downtown" and "Rocking the Shocker" (activities that both male and female spectators can practice at home) to the reversal of the male fantasy of sex with two girls who also do each other (on "Two Guys [For Every Girl]") to the celebration of dick ("Tent in Your Pants") and the dick's good-humored deflation ("Slippery Dick") to equal-access exhibitionism ("Shake Yr Dix") to hard-core cock-rock appropriated and performed by chicks (except JD Samson doesn't look like no chick, deliberately). It's an entirely queer show, queer not in the sense of a synonym for GLBT, not in the sense of identity. Rather queer as a set of actions that problematize and destabilize straight notions of gender and sex and sexualities. It's a queer notion that, unusually, is very inclusive of hetero males. In fact, the whole Peaches project is very much aimed at them. As she has recently stated, "her real mission is to help those with the most perceived power in society: straight men. 'They're the only ones in society who haven't had a liberation movement...I want to tell them something really revolutionary," she says. "It's okay to be vulnerable.'" She manages to do this, successfully I think, by using humor. Adolescent humor. Whenever I listen to her, and especially in concert, when I'm paying special attention to the lyrics, I find myself constantly chuckling. For instance, on "Two Guys (For Every Girl," where she's talking about two guys doing it, and says, "He's covered in marmalade," or on "I'm the Kinda Bitch": "my labia majora soft as angora." Peaches is never a male-bashing queer feminist, she's instead always working to entice, seduce the male, always with jokes and kindness. There may be whips and chains and leather but it's all a game. Even when it's boy on boy, as in "Two Guys," it's all in fun:
I'll slink in when you boys are in a french knot
We play a game its like your gonna get caught
That's the time you're gonna get so damn hot
You wanna see my pussy pop pop pop

Even if that scenario doesn't entice you, it's bound to make you laugh.

The band was great. I was particularly impressed with JD Samson, who looked so tough and was so good at producing those electronic old-school basslines, and great on backing vocals. Samantha Maloney looked fabulous on her drum platform, like the epitome of the rock'n'roll drummer. I particularly liked it when she came to the front to play 80's vintage electronic drums. Radio Sloan on guitar and occasional electronic keyboard was great too, and especially lent the rock'n'roll numbers an edge. Performing with the band, Peaches' show was a bit more rock'n'roll focused than in Memphis or Austin. This reflects the album, which also features more singing than the previous two Peaches releases.

The dancers, a provocative and fun part of the show, were all from Lawrence, as I discovered when I met a couple of them after the show. I would never have guessed it, their performances all seemed so rehearsed and yet fresh and spontaneous to me.

Opening acts were SSION (from Kansas City), who were fun, very theatrical, queerish punk, although I thought the quality of the music did not quite match up to the level of the theater. Next up were Eagles of Death Metal, who are on the tour with Peaches. They are a very fun and energetic metal band, but I don't care for metal, at least their sort. In their defense, two members of the band make guest appearances on Impeach My Bush.

Unfortunately, cameras and VCRs were banned, so I only got to take a couple shots when I managed to find Peaches in the alley after the show. (But cellphone cameras were ok. This is the only time I've ever wished I owned one.) You can get a sense of what the show looked like from these photos here and here. If you go to flickr and search for the tag Peaches, there are now lots of photos--but not of Lawrence. Do not miss this, whatever you do, if it's anywhere near your area. (My only regret: Peaches did not perform "Back It Up, Boys," her song about "pegging.")

(Addendum: Katherine [see comments] claims that "Chrissy behind" is Chrissy Be-Hynde, standing for Chrissy Hynde of The Pretenders. Sounds plausible to me. Thanks, Katherine!)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Positive review of Fun^Da^Mental's "All Is War"

At last, a critic able to actually engage with Fun^Da^Mental's forthcoming release (due out at the end of the month) All Is War--a review by Chris Campion, writing in The Observer. Some choice bits:
Strip away the outrage, then, and what's left is an album pieced together with great consideration. To provoke not just a reaction but thought and debate...Musically, too, it's audacious and, at times, is underpinned by a militant faith: a faith in humanity to lance the boil afflicting society and reveal the poison swelling up within. Fear, intolerance, ignorance and self-interest are the hallmarks of Blair's Britain underneath its thin veneer of civility and morality.

(Previous Fun^Da^Mental posts here, here, here and here.


Israel Lobby?

Here's an amazingly candid article about Israel and Congress from today's Washington Post. A few choice quotes:
Democratic and Republican congressional leaders are rushing to offer unalloyed support for Israel's offensive against Hezbollah fighters, reflecting a bipartisan desire to not only defend a key U.S. ally but also solidify long-term backing of Jewish voters and political donors in the United States, according to officials and strategists in both parties.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman punctuated the day with a speech to Christians United for Israel last night, declaring that "today, we are all Israelis."

Many Democrats, who are among the largest recipients of Jewish votes and money in federal elections, are working with Republicans to pressure President Bush to reject calls to strike a more measured tone and prod Israel to show greater restraint.

Based on a study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans are also getting a larger percentage of money from Jewish political committees and self-identified Jewish donors. So far this election cycle, Republicans have received about 42 percent of money from Jewish groups and individuals. If that number holds, it would be the highest percentage since the center started tracking these donations in 1990.

Without massive pressure, which will take years to organize: no chance that anything good will come out of Congress with regard to Israel, Palestine, Lebanon...

[Addendum: BUT that work should be done, and here are some suggestions from United for Peace & Justice about actions to take.)


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hillary on Israel, Lebanon and Gaza

Presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed a crowd of "thousands" at rally in support of Israel on Monday. Here are some of her entirely predictable words:

"I want us here in New York to imagine if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?...We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing up for American values as well as Israeli ones...America will support Israel in her efforts to send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians, to the Iranians - to all who seek death and domination instead of life and freedom - that we will not permit this to happen and we will take whatever steps are necessary."

American values: to date, upwards of 200 Lebanese civilians killed, 12 Israeli civilians killed. Beirut's airport bombed, Lebanon's searoutes blockaded, highways and bridges bombed, Beirut's lighthouse destroyed. Electricity cut off in Beirut.

I participated in a demonstration on Saturday, calling on Hillary to come out for a quick withdrawal of US troops from Iraq; she is certainly showing her cred as a "peace" candidate. Hillary is also a big fan of Israel's apartheid wall.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Peaches in Lawrence, Kansas

Peaches, champagne, dancers
Originally uploaded by tsweden.

I went up to Lawrence yesterday to see Peaches perform at The Granada Theatre. She's touring to promote her new album, Impeach My Bush, and performing for the first time with a band, Peaches and The Herms. The show was theatrical, provocative, sexy, fabulous. I'll post a more detailed report soon. (I managed to track her down after the show, and to share a bit of champagne with her.)


Demo urges Hillary to get some spine

July 15, 2006 Appeal for Peace
Originally uploaded by OMNI Photo Center.

Hillary Clinton spoke in Rogers to a crowd of 650 at the Arkansas Federation of Democratic Women on July 15. The Omni Center for Peace Justice and Equality organized a picket outside, in the blazing 92 degree heat. About 30 people showed up, including me (but I forgot to bring my camera). As far as I can tell, the event received ZERO media coverage. Media coverage of HIlary was instead, fawning.

My favorite sign reads (click on it to enlarge): Hilary: Get spine or run as a Republican.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dave Zirin on why he supports Zidane

A head-butt against racism!

"According to a FIFA employee transcribing what was said during the match, Materazzi's called Zissou a "big Algerian shit. A Brazilian television program that claims to have used a lip-reader said Materazzi called Zissou,s sister "a whore. The highly respected French anti-racist coalition SOS Racisme issued a press release stating, "According to several very well informed sources from the world of football, it would seem [Materazzi] called Zissou a 'dirty terrorist'....

Zissou is the son of Algerian immigrants who has sparred verbally with Europe's far-right political machine for more than a decade. He is an outspoken anti-racist on a team that has defined itself by its multiculturalism and stubborn insistence to stand up against bigotry both inside and outside the sport. Materazzi on the other hand, will be playing this year for the Italian team Lazio, where his father was the former coach. Lazio's fan club, The Ultras, are notorious for their Fascist-friendly politics. Lazio's hardcore Ultras, known as the "Irriducibili," have members in Italy's extra-parliamentary far right and try to use the club to recruit. The group has frequently uses racist and anti-Semitic banners, one time hanging a 50-foot banner that said their opponents were a 'team of niggers.'"

And an update: Zidane apologizes and claimed that Materazzi said something personal about his mother and his sister. Materazzi denies saying anything about Zidane's mother or calling Zidane a terrorist.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Soul on Islam": Ahmad Cleaver

Ahmad Cleaver, son of Black Panther Party leaders Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver, has recently published Soul on Islam (riffing, obviously, on his dad's Soul on Ice). The book deals with his experiences growing up in exile, in Algeria and France, and his subsequent conversion to Islam. Ahmad is currently on a book tour. Here is the description of the book from its publisher, Seaburn Books:

I am a child of what America is and how she came to be. I come from a story that starts with the Africans who arrived on American shores some 400 years ago. So begins this heartwarming and non apologetic book by Mr. Cleaver.

My father was a soldier, a fighter and a writer. He used to run with the Black Panther Party troops across the battle lines of America’s ghettos in the turbulent 1960’s. Those were the days when some of the young Black men went from being hunted by the police to being hunters of bad policemen who liked to see African-American blood. My father and my mother were part of the leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver. His voice was heard by many. His was “Soul on Ice” and mine is “Soul on Islam."

About the Author:

“Soul on Islam” is the first book by Ahmad Maceo Eldridge Cleaver, the son of Eldridge Cleaver, best-selling author of “Soul On Ice.”

The book is an informative memoir sketching Cleaver’s life with his parents, activists in America's civil rights movement. It includes details of their life in France, America and Algeria, where he was born. The book continues to unfold and gives the reader a very moving description of when the author discovered and embraced Islam twelve years ago.

For the past decade, Cleaver has traveled amongst Muslims in countries within Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. He shares stories and scenes of his experiences while living in Sudan and in Qatar.

Ahmad Maceo Eldridge Cleaver graduated with a B.A. from the Africana Studies and Research Department at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Since embracing Islam, he is a dedicated student of Islamic studies and the Arabic language and studied the teachings of Islam under Imams in America, Sudan, Kuwait, and Qatar.

He currently lives in Doha, Qatar.

Ahmad is not the only son of famous Pan-Africanist militants to have taken up residence in the Arab world. David Dubois, son of W.E.B. Dubois, resides in Cairo, at least part of the year. Gamal Nkrumah, son of Kwame Nkrumah, is a very fine journalist, living in Cairo, who writes for al-Ahram Weekly.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Roger Waters Concert

Here's a report from War on Want on Roger Waters' recent concert (June 22) in Israel, at the "mixed" community Neve Shalom.

The crowd of 50,000--mostly Israeli Jews, due to the relatively high prices--received Waters enthusiastically, and reacted positively to his subtle and his direct criticisms of the (apartheid) Wall. War on Want reports: "It was not until the encore that Waters decided to speak out directly against the Occupation, asking Israelis to tear down the wall!', before launching into Pink Floyd mega-hit Another Brick in the Wall."

We learn from the report too that Sting recently visited Palestinian refugee camps and has called the occupation "an obscenity." (Recall Sting's collaboration with Cheb Mami on the 1999 hit "Desert Rose" and the boost the video gave to the Jaguar Corporation.) I'm still looking for more information on Sting's trip...

On a side note, it turns out that Waters' father worked in Palestine between 1934 and 1938, a period of Palestinian history that I'm quite interested in. (See my Memories of Revolt: The 1936-39 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past.) According to the report, "The night before the concert, Waters met with Palestinian musicians at the Edward Said Consortium of Music in East Jerusalem as part of a tour organised by UK anti-poverty group War on Want. He recalled that his mother would receive letters from his Dad telling of the migration of rich Jews into Palestine and their hostile attitude toward the Arab people."

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Alessandra Sanguinetti: Virtual Gallery at ArteEast

Remarkable photos from Palestine by renowned New York photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti, from ArteEast. Accompanied by a very smart essay from Lori Allen, who argues that Sanguinetti captures a “tragic magical realism” in Palestine and does not replace the liminal uncertainty there with “message, hope, symbolism or sentiment.” The photo above shows two Palestinian schoolgirls in front of the separation barrier (apartheid wall) at Qalqilya.

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Palestinian Hip-Hop

Filmmaker Joyce Salloum is at work on a film about Palestinian hip-hop, SlingShot Hip-Hop: The Palestinian Lyrical Front, to be released this winter. A CD has been released, called Free the P, available here, to raise money for the film, featuring mostly Arab-American groups, but also including a cut from the most high-profile Palestinian hip-hop group, DAM. Listen to the CD here. Read about the film project here.

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Hutnyk on Aki

Check out John Hutnyk's post on Aki, from his blog Trinketization. Says Hutnyk: "Aki Nawaz is just the sort of threat we need much more of, in the sense that we have to debate, discuss, challenge and change." And check out the comment, there's one from Aki. (It's the same post, dated July 4, found on the fun-da-mental website.)

The Fund-Da-Mental site now has the lyrics available for All Is War. (I hope to have a chance to look at them more closely, soon.)