Ramsey's guests include yours truly and Craig O'Hara, the author of The Philosophy of Punk: More Than Noise, a new edition of which is scheduled to drop in the new year. If you're interested in the band, in punk, or in how music and politics collide, we pretty much cover it all.
Despite the fact that this was a book writing year, I still managed to pack in a few titles that were distinctly off-topic. For regular MashDown readers, of course, that means, unsurprisingly, I read a lot about politics, music and the visual arts, though not necessarily of the gallery kind.
This was also the first time in almost a decade that I was able to read for pleasure, and not for the purpose of assigning books for review. That, in itself, was a welcome change. Instead of scanning a chapter or two and then sending them off, I was able to take in new books in their entirety.
In no specific order, here are the ten tomes that made the biggest impression on me in 2007:
2007 was an astounding year for dubstep and Indo-Arab impacted American hip-hop. Chicago's long gone Los Crudos finally made it back into print, while baile thug funk and Tuareg guitar rock reminded worriers about the world music category that it's not just about happy natives penning primitive campfire songs. Thumbs up to Pressure Sounds for putting out the best dub reissue of the year. As usual, Sublime Frequencies outdid everyone by coining the term 'jihadi techno.'
In light of these observations, here's what we played the most:
Two blocks away, an Israeli-American couple sat down to a late lunch in a local cafe. Ten minutes later, a young woman and her middle aged mother took the table next to them, and in Hebrew, began discussing the differences between San Francisco and Tel Aviv real estate prices.
Walking back to our car afterwards, we talked about how much more familiar this city is starting to feel. The prevalence of pita and hummus on restaurant menus, how often we run into Israelis. And, the increase in signs like this, which we caught as we got into our Toyota.
While written for progressive Jews and their communities, anyone
struggling with the age-old conundrum of "…but what can I do?" should
sample this wonderful buffet of ideas, replete not just with tradition,
but with innovative interpretations suited to a 21st-century approach
toward social action and reform.
A slimmed down version of "Everything Falls Apart", the first chapter from my forthcoming book, Israel vs Utopia, has a home in Righteous Indignation's Israel section. A representative excerpt, The New Jewish Left, was posted to Mashdown last July.
Covering everything from Middle Eastern media coverage of the recently released National Intelligence Estimate to Iraqi refugees, the Russian elections and Mitt Romney's bid to capture the Republican Presidential nomination, it should be an interesting conversation.
If you're outside the US and want to listen to the show, click here to subscribe to the podcast.
If the National Intelligence Estimate published on Monday is true, and Iran is not actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program, it poses a potential problem for the Bush administration's relationship with American Jewry. Given how the US President said last August that Iran is aggressively expanding its military capabilities in order to trigger a nuclear 'holocaust' - using such explicit language - how might we reconsider Bush's willingness to employ such loaded terminology when no such preparations are actually taking place? In light of this revelation, should Jews reproach the head of state for employing terms that unnecessarily stoked our deepest-held fears?
Invoking the specter of the Nazi genocide for political purposes is nothing new. In the Jewish community, nearly sixty three years after the Second World War, the legacy of the Holocaust continues to exercise enormous influence over how we think and talk about politics. From the slightest turn of phrase to the ways in which we understand our relationship with the Christian and Islamic worlds, the Shoah ('catastrophe'), as we call it in Hebrew, is almost always a point of reference. Though there are numerous problems with the manner in which we grapple with this patrimony, there's something even more problematic when its memory is ideologically leveraged by non-Jews.
If Israel were not locked in a long distance conflict with Iran, it would be easier to overlook the inflammatory nature of the American leader's language. The problem is that Israel is in a heightened state of tension with the Islamic republic precisely because of American policies in the region. Frequently treated by its enemies as though it were an extension of the United States, witness Iraq's repeated missile attacks on Israel during Operation Desert Storm as but one example. Factor in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated denials of the Holocaust, and his threats to 'wipe Israel off the map' and Jews have every reason to take the US President's warnings with the utmost seriousness.
That is why it is incumbent that Israel's self-declared friends express their care for the country a little more wisely. To stand in solidarity with Israel, in opposition to demagogues who threaten its dissolution is one thing. But to take at face value the words of a crazed paper tiger, and repeat them as though they were the genuine item is another. Instead of assessing their empty threat responsibly, by repeating them as though the threat was indeed real, the former Governor of Texas ended up reinforcing the feelings of fear many Jews already felt instilled in them by the Iranian leader's racist rhetoric.
The appropriately-titled Continuity has finally arrived. A CD/DVD by the Tokyo-based, Polish sound artist Zbigniew Karkowski (in collaboration with Japanese videographer Atsuko Nojiri), this unorthodox career retrospective is the last project we signed when I was Asphodel's label manager. Already receiving excellent reviews in Europe from publications such as Vital Weekly, given press like this, I have the sneaking suspicion that Continuity will cement Karkowski's reputation as one of the world's most forward-thinking electronic musicians.
The new issue of Other is officially out. Though I'm running a little late posting this terrific postcard, (the release party took place a couple of weeks ago), we finally had the time to scan a copy.
A contributor (and sometimes contributing editor) to this great, freethinking mag since it was first launched, there's a piece in the current issue by me, about my years editing the late Punk Planet.
For the first time since 2003, when I served up a really loud noise set for a bunch of tranny friends at a local hair salon, I brought my Macbook and MIDI controller to the Other party and played DJ.
Speaking of Punk Planet, Paul M. Davis posted his article on the distribution crisis that triggered PP's collapse to the magazine's website. Click here to read his analysis. It's from the very last edition.