I installed a pop-up shop for Franklin Street Works last month as part of their show House Arrest. I built a collection of objects around the idea of domestic antipathy that includes cod-piece riot gear, probably Thomas Kinkade’s last installation piece, 9mm bullets from Wal-Mart, ILoveU crack pipe roses, flexi-cuff cutters, a teddy spycam, an Ajax cleaner stash box, your yearly allotted amount of pseudoephedrine,  and the very first appearance of the St. Google Prayer candles I cooked with Kaye, Alexis and Diego (more on those soon.)  Check out the show catalog featuring an interview I did with Bodhi Landa.

Check it all out at
41 Franklin Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Metro North New Haven Line to Stamford station (30 State Street), one mile from FSW.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday,
and Sunday: noon – 5:00PM
Thursdays: noon – 7:00PM

drake smoking in front of planes, looking sad

 Marvin’s Room (Shlohmo’s thru tha floor remix) – Drake by shlohmoA question I hear frequently asked about Toronto based Hiphop/RnB rapper/singer/child actor Drake in the press is why his new music is so depressing sounding and what does he have to be unhappy about? He’s young, rich and famous! He’s got a seemingly endless supply of adoring fans, pretty women, drugs, alcohol, money and a venue for his artistic expression to talk about his feelings. Hot97 is his psychotherapy couch.

When he sings:
‘Cups of the XO
Bitches in my old phone
I should call one and go home
I’ve been in this club too long
The woman that I would try
Is happy with a good guy

But I’ve been drinking so much
That I’ma call her anyway and say
“F-ck that nigga that you love so bad
I know you still think about the times we had”
I say “f-ck that nigga that you think you found
And since you picked up I know he’s not around”

(Are you drunk right now?)

I’m just sayin’, you could do better
Tell me have you heard that lately?
I’m just sayin’ you could do better
And I’ll start hatin’, only if you make me’

Drake strikes me as being honest here. Even though he has all of the above material and ego-enhancing things that many of us want, he is still not happy.  When artists are honest and speak about what’s really happening with them instead of repeating tropes that seem like the ‘industry standard’ (I’m balling! I’m awesome! I’m getting money!) it adds a richness of meaning, the texture of personal reality.  The current vogue for sipping XO (aka sizzurp, purple drank, or cough syrup made with promethazine and codeine) popularized by many rap/rnb artists including recently Drake and The Weeknd seems to support this pretty well. Codeine is an opiate, the same active ingredient found in heroin. It’s a central nervous system depressant that makes you sleepy and dulls pain when used when you’re sick. If consumed when you’re healthy it pushes pleasure buttons in your brain and feels great.   Taking codeine also kills you.  If you slow your central nervous system down enough you’ll just stop breathing. RIP DJ Screw and Pimp C. My question is: how much must you be suffering to make this glamourous lifestyle choice? Scientific research has pointed to links between the way we experience physical and psychic pain, like the pain of depression, including the fact that depression sufferers seem to have more acute physical pain.  As far as I can tell people who are happy and fulfilled don’t need to constantly take large amounts of central nervous system depressants like codeine and alcohol.


DJ Quik – “Fire And Brimstone” from The Book of David (2010 Mad Science)

Here’s what I was listening to, as I read Tally post about fresh and exciting new Dutty Artz gear; the opening track from that other legendary producer/rapper from Compton, California DJ Quik. Undoubtedly, one of the most underrated rappers/producers, Quik is without question one of the greatest producers. Super talented, adventurous, and unafraid to experiment with with bugged-out rhythms and structures. If you dig “Fire And Brimstone,” definitely don’t sleep on his new album The Book of David, or his last collaboration with Kurupt BlaQKout or Trauma or any of his early album. Get it how you live!

Large Hangars and Fuel Storage/Tonopah Test Range, NV/Distance ~18 miles/10:44 am by Trevor Paglen

Mark Danner is one of the good journalists. His work navigates nearly impenetrable messes of deceit and deception like the 2000 Florida vote recount, the nefarious path to the American war in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. Military intervention in Reagen era El Salvador… the list goes on- but I think when you have Susan Sontag call you “one of our best, most ambitious narrative journalists” you’ve pretty much fulfilled your journalistic duty to the world.

One of my biggest fears during the election was that once/if Obama was elected there would be a psychic closure on the Bush years. In a more utilitarian sense, I am afraid that people are so excited about entering a “new era” that they  forget that there is a lot of unfinished business from the last 8 years that needs to be sorted out. Danner’s latest piece, “US Torture: Voices From the Black Sites,” which appeared in the new issue of the New York Review of Books on Monday, is doing some of the heavy lifting. It contains detailed accounts of interrogations of “highvalue detainees” at secret “black site” prisons. An excerpt from the piece – about a tenth of it – appeared on the OpEd page of Sunday’s New York Times. It’s a potent reminder that the clean up process has just begun.

Wayne says PDFs are the new MP3s- so here is a PDF of the whole article as it appeared in the New York Review of Books. This is painful to read, and while for some it might be confirming what they thought they already knew- there’s something deeply moving about reading first hand accounts of the abuse against “our enemies.”

Mark Danner “US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites” PDF (9 pages)

It’s hot like hell in the South
It feel like we like we in the devil’s mouth in the South…


Killer Mike – God In The Building

from I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, another remarkable rap album from the south that didn’t get much exposure in ’08. Killer Mike brings to life the unimaginable with this potent mix of bluntness (is there really a better word to describe Killer?) and southern/black American spirituality…

Young player from the South, tell stories like Biggie
Take the King’s English, paint pictures so vivid
Make the listener swear to God they lived it
If that ain’t God in motion, nigga tell me what is it
The church ladies weep when they hear ya man speak
They say they see God in me, but I’m in the streets
They ask me why I’m rappin’, tell me I’m called to preach
I smile, I kiss ’em on they honey brown cheeks
I tell’ em “God bless ’em” and they concerned for me
But you can never walk on water if you still fear the sea
If Jesus came back, Mother, where d’you think he’d be?
Probably in these streets with me…

Through my travels in the internet I read this article on the NYtimes site. It’s an article about a budding sub-culture of American Islamic punk bands, criticizing both American imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism which arose in response to a novel. The novel is Michael Muhammad Knight’s ‘The Taqwacores’. From the blurb for Knight’s forthcoming memoir, via his Wikipedia page:

“Impossible Man follows a boy’s struggle in coming to terms with his father—a paranoid schizophrenic and white supremacist who had threatened to decapitate Michael when he was a baby—and his father’s place in his own identity. It is also the story of a teenager’s troubled path to maturity and the influences that steady him along the way. Knight’s encounter with Malcolm X’s autobiography transforms him from a disturbed teenager engaged in correspondence with Charles Manson to a zealous Muslim convert who travels to Pakistan and studies in a madrassa. Later disillusioned by radical religion, he again faces the crisis of self-definition. For all its extremes, Impossible Man describes a universal journey: a wounded boy in search of a working model of manhood, going to outrageous lengths to find it.”

Here’s an interview with him where he talks about progressive islam, wrestling and the Five Percenters.

Not quite sure what to say about this more than I think it’s interesting to see that there are people out there rebelling against, wrestling with and writing sincerely about the big questions. That kind of passionate engagement seemed like something my generation had lost in the haze of cynicism, non-position taking coolness and infinite consumer choice. As someone else as well who felt that reading Malcolm X’s autobiography was an important event but felt unsure how to respond to it I thought this guy’s response was interesting if a little extreme (move to Pakistan and attend a Madrassa). As a lover of books in general I also love the idea that a novel could generate this kind of response and create this kind of cultural space.