Sunday, January 29, 2006

Desi Critics Launch

I'm a few days behind the curve. I'll attribute that to the odd half hour someone decided to add to the Kabul timezone. But has launched.

It's grown quite big before birth and came out of labor screaming and annoucing it's presence to the world. My contribution to the cacophony is the post below. It should go up on the site sometime soon. But don't wait for it. Go check out the site now. There will also be a link in the sidebar under "Other."

Oh, and the, as was explained in the comments before, "desi" is a term often used by second generation south asians to refer to themselves and other of the sub-continent. In urdu, and presumably in hindi as well, it refers to the "homeland" or "country-side." Now reclaimed, primarily by the diaspora and the 20-30 year old generation, to refer to all South Asians.

The website...right...It's modeled off of, well birthed by the folks who created A few of the fine folks there put a lot of hard work into this spin-off. The website will follow the same format as it's parent, but with an exclusive focus on all things South Asian. The contributors are south asian bloggers, diaspora bloggers, or those simply interested in South Asia. Go enjoy.

One Giant Robot—The “Muslim World,” India, and Albert Brooks

One could be gracious and give the benefit of the doubt to Albert Brooks and those involved in his most recent film. One may assume that the title of the film, “Looking for Humor in the Muslim World,” is itself meant as a joke on the western perceptions of the named region. I’m not too gracious. And in seeing how the movie has be promoted in the weeks coming up to the recent release, and how the trailer itself promoted the film, I feel somewhat justified. The opposing stance, is that this film, set in a country that is predominantly Hindu but has a sizable Muslim population, and cultural influence from Arabic Muslim culture, is meant to broaden the outlook of the American populace. Show the masses that the term so often tossed around these days, is often misleading, if not harmful.

This is an appropriate place for a significant qualifier: I have yet to see the film, and probably wont, given that except for a poor bootleg, it wont be reaching Kabul anytime soon.

So for the past several weeks, I’ve been subjected to a flood of promotion for the film on quite a few websites such as and and other similarly leaning ones. Something about it bothered me, and I decided to write on just how the film is being promoted. As always, what we take away is heavily dependant on what we bring in. Further, I wouldn’t be surprised if the total amount of time I had seen the ads for the film was equivalent to the length of the film. Also, it’s fairly certain that significantly more people have seen the promotion of this film than will actually go see it. That’s my rationalization for writing on the cultural significance of a film that is meant to be culturally significant.

The film is set primarily in India with a small portion set in Pakistan. The first clip, shown upon loading the film’s website, is a joke where the punch line is a play on the words ‘Gandhi’ and “candy” (said in English with a mock Indian accent). Yes, Gandhi is significant to the ostensible “Muslim world”, the sub-conti’s independence and the ’47 split and all. But I’m guessing a joke about Jinnah would have bombed in both India, Pakistan and most importantly, in the U.S. As equally a joke about Gamal Nasser, Abdul Qassim, or Sukarno would have failed. But we westerners know Ghandi.

The film’s website also includes an interview with Brooks. In it, Brooks states that the motivation for the film was to make a comedy looking at contemporary issues post-9/11. In answering what his inspiration for the film was, he says, “...this was the 700-lb. gorilla sitting in my comedy office saying, ‘deal with this, find a way.’” I’ll take that as a noble intention, and a good route for dealing with some aspects and issues of our post-9/11 state. After that we get some crap about inter-cultural understanding and comedy and such. It isn’t till the sixth question that the fact that the film was shot in India comes to light. The question and answer only address the difficulties of filming in India, and mind you, I believe India produces more films than any other country in the world.

In the next question, Brooks talks about approaching an Imam to get permission to film inside the mosque. Here Brooks makes note that he is Jewish, and that he doesn’t “think that there’s been 15 Jewish people in that mosque ever.” That may very well be true, it is India after all, and though I don’t know for sure, I don’t think there is a notable Jewish population in India. There is, however, a notable Hindu and Sikh population in India, these religious populations being the focus of Muslim extremism and intolerance in the sub-continent. And I’m sure that more than 15 people of those religions have entered the mosque. It is here that I most start to doubt Brooks himself, and how he views his film’s message and assumptions.

I would have been willing excuse Brooks and attribute the film promotion and message to the studio were it not naïve statements like the above. Carrying the stereotype of Arab intolerance of Jews to India, placing it upon the Muslims there and more detrimentally the entire population of India, and making himself a martyr for entering a mosque there is a bit much. And in gaining the Imam’s approval, Brooks says of himself, “ I felt like a diplomat for two minutes.” I greatly hope U.S. diplomats in India have a better understanding the nation than Brooks does.

Two questions further, we have Brooks deftly dodging a question on his understanding of the “Muslim world” upon leaving India. Rather than saying that he has a limitedly furthered understanding of the “Muslim world” upon leaving a country with a Muslim minority, which would in part acknowledge the fundamental flaw of the film, he basically says comedians aren’t as useful as anthropologists at understanding cultures. Self-deprecation, one Brooks’ trademarks, with a joke about the mistake he made in choosing India as being representative of the “Muslim world” would have been used brilliantly here, and made a significant cultural point. Especially as Brooks, a bit further on, acknowledges that his character is the buffoon of the movie. He states this in a question on how the film would be received in the “Muslim World.” This only furthers my assumption that Brooks deserves no benefit of the doubt.

In the final question of the interview, Brooks says it “would be the greatest thing” if the film were to play in India or to a Muslim audience. This because, “America needs to kick itself in the butt a little bit so these people see that we’re human...not this giant robot that’s going to kill them...”

Brooks too needs to kick himself in the butt, a hard and swift kick for coming out of one of the most religiously diverse countries, one that is predominantly non-Muslim, and not having realized this. Brooks needs to kick himself again for promoting a film with many images of Brown skinned South-Asians, who probably have no affiliation with Islam under the title “Muslim World.” Brooks needs to kick himself once more for making a film with images of Sikhs in turbans under the idiom “Muslim world.” (Haven’t the Sikhs in America suffered enough because of this type of idiocy already?) Brooks needs to kick himself until he sees that brown skinned people, the people of the Middle East, the people of South Asia, and Asia in general are “not this giant robot” named the “Muslim World.” Perhaps then I would be a bit more gracious to Brooks.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The World Spins Too Quick...

I woke up this morning, having put up that past post a mere few hours before, and started skimming the news. Right there in Slate’s Today’s Papers, in the first sentence of the column a WaPo article on U.S. aid for Palestinian territories is mentioned. For those not familiar, TP summarizes the major US papers and provides a bit of commentary.

Further down is a link to the article and a discussion of it.

I wont rehash what is discussed there since I’m not going to add anything new. Except to say, that looks like that bureaucratic streamlining is happening a lot quicker. Though these sorts of diplomatically motivated aid efforts aren’t that new (i.e. the recently outed “press program” in Iraq with the paid articles, and VoA), I’m guessing they are going to be less and less clandestine.

“Been Smoking Too Long”

Though Nick Drake was obviously not talking about tobacco with the above titled song, the point remains. The point in particular here, as the title should be adjusted to “Been Smoking Too Much,” is that I smoke a lot more either when I’m quite happy and relaxed or the opposite. I know, I pretty much smoke all the time, and being in expat land hasn’t helped, especially when the expat land has cheap cigarettes, but I smoke more (yes, yes dear friends, it is possible...) when on either side of the emotional range.

I’ve been smoking more since I got here, but relative to that, I’ve been smoking less as of late. And since everything is relative, that’s a good thing. Sure, it’s getting colder too, but that’s not the real reason. No, no, not at all.

So despite me loving “winter” as a concept, it’s usually my worst season. It does, after all, cramp my smoking style. I think I love it because it lets me fully revel in my misanthropic side...ok, so it’s not so much a side, so rather the other seasons have a lot more “counterarguments” to my misanthropy.

Despite my nature, I’m quite happy these days. I think I’ve fully settled into life here. And moreover, am starting to really enjoy life here. It’s gone from being routine in the blasé sense to routine in the normality, with usual ups and downs, sense. That’s good I think. Really good, actually, given the circumstances that I’m living under here in Kabubble. Partly, work is good and interesting, and I’m learning a lot of what I was hoping to come here and learn. Partly, I’m getting along with my housemates really well and enjoy their company. More than partly, things are really good outside of work/home, and that is especially good...and necessary.

Also I’m planning an RnR to Goa soon. I really hope that hits no hiccups because I’m really looking forward to it, and despite what I’ve said above, I could really use it. The sentiments expressed above are surely tied into the upcoming RnR too.

Though outside my comfortable world here in the Kabubble, things seem to be all mixed up, as usual. What makes it different, now, is it has some indirect if not direct impact on what I’m doing here. There have been quite a few news reports based on US Gov’t and other Gov’t statements that things are going stellar here. VP is much better about blogging on such, so I recommend hitting her site up for more reading on that.

So the news has been on the down side. On the up side, I’m in pure bliss. Despite my recent avowal of my fanboydom of The National, it’s been put in check recently. Of course, it would take a mighty mighty band to do such a thing, after all, The National is that good. So it’s one of the failsafes, one of the bands that will always be in the top five. Built To Spill has put out new music. Now has been teasing us poor souls by talking about the new album for over a year. It’s been a painful year. Partly the reason I came to Kabul was because I had given up all hope of BTS doing a new tour. I would have stayed back for that. I’m thinking of coming back for that, or rather when I see the tour dates and there is the usual 2 day stint at the 9:30, I’m gonna be very very homesick. You can hear the streaming version of the new song at their myspace site. It is glorious. Pure bliss. I’m so going to miss not being able to see this tour, especially cause it may rival the tour that had them at the Black Cat: 4 guitarists on stage at once, the typical incredible live adaptations of their songs, pure sonic bliss. The album, well this song off the new album hints more towards “Perfect From Now On,” and Dough Martsch’s statements point that way. If you google the song title, “Goin’ Against Your Mind,” some mp3 versions of the song will pop up.

So come April 11th, when the album is released stateside, someone is hereby delegated (or sincerely begged and pleaded) to get me the album and ship it here. Please. Please???

PROVISO: These are my personal thoughts and views, and do not reflect who I work for or am contracted to. I retain full responsibility for them and in no way are they anyone’s buy my own views and thoughts. (As a graduate of law school, I should be able to come up with a better disclaimer than that, no? And sorry for doing that as it’s obvious, but I felt it was more necessary with the topic discussed below.)

Also, there was a “major” announcement from the U.S. Gov’t on the 19th. VP, again on top of things, pointed it out to me. Though rumors had been floating about the impending shift for about a month, and the topic had already been discussed and was seen as nearly inevitable. Nonetheless, it was finally announced that U.S. AID was being brought under the State Department. Not directly mind you, but more than effectively. A new executive position has been created, and I forget the actual title, but the position is equivalent to a Deputy Secretary of State. I’m guessing here that it’s effectively ‘Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Aid.” This is all in the name of Bush’s “Transformational Diplomacy” efforts. So now Randall Tobias will be both the head of U.S. AID and hold the new State Dep’t position. (More on him later.)

Side-note: how big was this in the news stateside??? Based upon Google News, it doesn’t seem like it was heavily or even briefly covered. Most the papers seemed to have back-paged it. Is that true?

Though there was some news coverage (most of the articles I haven’t read yet):

CBS News: Their headline seemed to point in the opposite direction that I’m taking this as going in. The headline saying “Rice Seeks To Transform Diplomacy.” Somehow I don’t think the U.S.’s diplomacy style is going to change as much in the next three years as their foreign aid policy will. Especially the foreign aid dealt out through U.S. AID, i.e. it’s more focused now on development and relief. Not tying weapons subsidies to diplomatic or executive whims.

A fair amount of the articles focus more on the streamlining of aid that is going to happen. Bureaucratically, that is probably a good thing. But with streamlining, of course, comes a sharper focus. So the inevitable question is what is going to get cut. I think my guesses on this matter are clear. This all is yet to be played out. I’m also guessing I’m in an interesting part of the world to see how it does play out.

So the new guy, Randall Tobais—only a few articles point out the storied side of his past. He is a former CEO in pharmaceutical industry. And see...that made him a very controversial post to head up Bush’s AIDS/HIV program and efforts in Africa. That whole controversy of big pharmo and their market specific pricing, and particulary the accusation sthat bigh pharmo keeping prices inflated for AIDS/HIV cocktails. Tobais picked up a lot of heat for putting so much effort into abstinence programs instead of actually getting his old buddies to do something about getting drugs on the ground. Basically, as is obvious, the claim is that he politicized AIDS/HIV programs. The general fear is that he’ll do the same with Int’l aid and development more particularly.

Either way, I think I still have my cushy life and well paid job here in Kabubble. Given how much I’m really enjoying myself here, I really hope this post doesn’t change that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Scenesters--but not in a bad way.

A good friend has just started a new blog. The first post was quite good. It looks like it will be a lot more interesting than mine. (Exceeding the readability of my blog is not a high enough bar to compliment someone on...and this is not to imply that I think my blog is particularly interesting...)

She and her friend will be writing about the nexus between dating and the D.C. arts/culture scene. The first post was about a visit to a gallery run by one of my former professors. I'm jealous already, but at least I'll get my culture vicariously.

There will of course be a link on the sidebar. So all three of you regular readers go visit it, here is a link to the blog:

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Chief and the Disclaimer Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Long Boring Post.

The Chief came back this week. Though it was no vacation while everyone was gone, it was a respite of sorts. Everything was empty and slow, and I think I’ve said that before, 3 times at least. That’s a testament to how slow it was. I’m still stuck with the same thoughts. But that is, well has changed. As I said, the Chief is back, and with it, we are back in full swing. Rather than one or two things, I have several on my plate now. It’s good, I was getting a bit lethargic, and now I have something besides this blog to fill my insomniac section of the day.

Over the holidays I had enough free time to start getting involved in a new project, and even contacted the comrades at an old project to offer some help. We’ll see if I can follow through on that, though I should have the time. To further that follow-up, I’m even going public with my new commitments. This is a terrible mistake, but hopefully shame will keep me from going A.D.D. on this stuff.

This is all a self-serving post (but then again, narcissism kinda, you know, goes w/ blogging.) For the old project, as I’ve been keeping up w/ what they’ve been up to, I’ve been trying to figure out how to give them a plug. Then the NY Times magazine goes and publishes an article on the living wage movement in the U.S. A good article, of course, but lacking in certain regards.

On a preemptive side note...was at a dinner party at Vasco’s house the other night, stuck around a bit late, and had a conversation w/ her and her housemate. We were all taken aback at the fact that one of the NGO workers there freely admitted that she liked to tell strangers, especially when flying to a posting, that she was an aid worker because of the adulation they would give her. It’s perhaps natural, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of such and will be in the future, but the unabashed pride bordered on self-righteousness. Us three than night seemed to agree that we all generally realize that we aren’t heroes (and would try to explain what the work was really like for those unfamiliar), there are, after all, many people doing this work. And I as a contract worker making more than enough of a salary and living a very pampered life am far from being a martyr. The same holds for the UN, World Bank, and many of the NGO workers. So having just recently just come off of a conversation about not patting one’s self on the back and seeking affirmation of oneself by bragging and such, I hope this post doesn’t come off as that.

Many of you all, of the D.C. folks, probably already know this. My introduction to the living wage movement was through my last year in law school. The main campus kids were doing a living wage campaign on campus, contacted me and asked that law students get involved and I ended tossing my hat in. The kids went on hunger strike, and 10 days later the school adopted what we claimed, at the time, to be the best living wage policy, officially called a “Just Employment Policy,” adopted by a University and likely one of the most progressive policies nationally. It’s likely that it is one of, if not the most progressive.

Some of the folks involved in the GU campaign went on to start the Living Wage Action Center. This group is first focusing on getting more campuses to launch living wage campaigns at their schools, and moreover provide support to campaigns already existing. It is probably already one of the quickest spreading student activist efforts in the U.S. The time was nigh, and the folks coming out of the GU campaign had a lot of valuable experience to share and pass on. Support them if you can, and of course, if you care to.

Back to the article. What is sorely lacking is some of the issues within the living wage movement. Yes, that wasn’t the theme of the article, nor probably of interest to most of the audience, but that was a major issue when we were organizing the campaign. (Key disclaimer, I jumped on board 2.5 years after the group started, and close to the end of the campaign.) One of the issues we had was that we didn’t just want a pay increase for the campus workers. We were looking for the school to change the framework in which it related to and dealt with its employees. The focus was on contracted workers (i.e not direct employees), as many of the local ordinances now focus on.

We wanted more than an increase in pay, which is what most of the local ordinances only deal with. That called for more than just boosting the pay. Though of course, that was the most explicit part of the policy and demands from the group. What was additional to that was a correct way to factor future wages, and include many other forms of compensation in a guaranteed wage package. Additionally, a guarantee of neutrality in union organizing efforts by workers, and measures to guarantee the job security and continuity of the contract workers if the university decided to make those positions internal employees. (There was more, and for those who care the link is above.) This was what we saw as what living wage should be, not only just more pay.

This is where the article and examples lack (and some of the internal issues arise). They don’t discuss that there are efforts to make the living wage movement much more than just about pay and cash. Though ACORN was supportive in our campaign, I believe they are focusing just on pay, and making “Living Wage” equal to “Pay Increase.” But we were in a much different environment that what the people in the article were/are in. We claimed the same moral issues, and had a Jesuit institution to leverage them on. We weren’t dealing with McDs. Nonetheless, I think it’s necessary to remember that a living wage can and should be much more than just about pay. Sadly, I think Georgetown had it right when they called it “Just Employment.” (Perhaps a new slogan, “Just Employment, not Just Pay”...though the word play may be a bit too much...) Though I don’t think that it would be politically expedient for the movement to start factionalizing, and that was our motivation in the group when we decided to stick with “Living Wage.” Either way, it’s simply encouraging and exciting to see the NY Times Magazine picking up the issue. I somewhat wish I was back in the States still working with the LWAC folks.

Ok, so the second effort is a group blog site. is being launched as an off-shoot of It’s an open forum that welcomes any and all bloggers that are some how tied into South Asia, i.e. they are or are concerned with ‘desi-s’ (or should it be desees??) . It’ll be launching at the end of this month, and since this post is long enough, I’ll post then, and when I actually start contributing to it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Eid Mubarak & Slow Days

So we've entered the week of high festivities here. And I'm pretty much going to be spending the week in my room and house. The majority, the vast majority of the local staff has the week off. Three days for Eid. The day before, a holiday called Arafat, something which I've never heard of, and now fell some necessity to learn about. And finally, the day after the 3-day Eid happens to be Juma (Friday), the usual day off.

So not much is getting done, despite us expats not having the day off. I decided to take a mental holiday, as it is Eid for me, and I'm used to at least celebrating the first day of Eid. Don't tell my boss that I've chosen to do this. Sadly, as work is my only entertainment, I'll likely end up doing some despite myself...or to spite myself.

Other recent happenings...I finally made it past one rite of passage. Got sick, stomach sick. It was eventually going to happen. Though I had gone a cumulative 3 months out of 4 in this part of the world with no major stomach problems. I was getting cocky. I have no idea what brought it on, and it was either just food poisoning or a 24 hour bug. Really nothing much, not the somewhat typical week of, um, difficulties. So all recovered now, ready to go eat more unsanitary food. Build up that tolerence.

I'm also trying to arrange for two books to arrive here for me soon. (Thank you J n A.) I know a few people discussed doing a reading club before I left, so if those people still want to, I'd love to do one for the two books I'll be reading next. No idea if you all are interested in these authors. And this invitation is open to anyone. The books are Empire and Multitudes by Antonio Negri, and that other co-author. I have no idea when i'll be getting these books or how to structure the reading group (our last attemp at one failed miserably, but thats what we get for choosing Quine.) Suggestions would be appreciated.

Eid Mubarak everyone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

“I’m put together beautifully...I’m a Festival, I’m a Parade”

Before coming here, I was dreaming of a liberation—a scruffy beard and scraggly hair spilling over my ears and the back of my neck. I was going to go for that dusty nomadic international look, neo-hippie gap shopper, a fading flannel shirt that doesn’t evoke early ‘90s Seattle, corduroys faded at the knees and scuffed boots never once worn from or for hiking. Somewhere between art-punk anarchist and anti-globalization activist. At most, I was trying to make a break, crafting and indulging in a whole new fantasy. In the least, I was rationalizing this production with the oncoming and fabled Kabul winter.

This lede—a long obtuse one at that, was supposed to bring me to winter. The previous line works much better for that end. So: Winter is here, it snowed the past two days, finally. Rang in the new year with a new season, a second late for the former, a few weeks late for the latter. It’s not that windy, yet, the snow coming down small and wet and soft. It reminds me of D.C. this time of year, and has made me the most homesick yet. But the point was the beard—it’s impetus, my crafted image and my intentions. It’s keeping me a bit warmer.

By in large, crafted identities don’t factor here, at least the identities I’m used to, nor in a way that I’m used to. In fact, that is an incredibly brash and revealing statement. I’m sure crafted identities exist here, human nature...blah blah blah... More likely my Americanized hegemonic cultural imperialism doesn’t let me see them, the differences between the afghani that wears nikes and stonewashed jeans and the afghani that wears a Corduroy Cathart jacket and an NYPD baseball cap. That’s not unexpected. (I wonder if in general, because of our mass exporting of our culture, and complete vacuum of importing other’s mass culture, non-Americans have a remarkable advantage at reading and operating in American cultures and American’s with the inverted disadvantage.)

It’s not that this place is untouched by American/Western cultural tags. It’s just that they are heavily distorted and blended and misinterpreted and filtered and repackaged and so on and so on. This place, in particular, is probably inundated with a wider sampling of other cultural tags. Frequency Canceling vs. Fourier Transformations vs. Cultural Syncopation: The Mashup Release. Being inundated with it all around (and by this I mean being driven in an SUV with an armed guard), one starts to see and hear differently. But these two senses are far from yet developed. Maybe a few more months and a few thousand more interactions with Afghanis will help.

So I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt, that this “effort,” this beard growing laziness was pragmatic...though it may be useless. Realizing that certain identities are intrinsically parochial. American/western identities, crafted through our overwhelming consumerism and materialism, are some of the most guilty transgressors. Beirut and Japan are probably up there too. But this is no plea for a “flat-world” or globalized harmony. Because in a few more weeks, I may be able to pass off for a full-fledged Taliban, my beard growing much more on the bottom, adopt an Afghani identity of my own. (And yes, some of these issues were touched on in the previous post, especially in the comments, as Elizabeth pointed out that religion was a topic I glaringly gave short shrift, if not overlooked. AND...this was supposed to be a light hearted post, quoted a song at the top and the way it’s a great song...more on music below.)

But there is Kabul and “Kabubble”, two distinct places. Kabul: the place where the plane I took here landed. The place I point to on a map and silently say “You are...h-e-r-e,” my eyes following concentric circles through surrounding cities I don’t and will likely never know. This is a separate place physically, culturally, and even most of all existentially. (Ugh...I hate to say existentialism casually, I apologize. Moreover to say that just throws a glaring spotlight on how removed I am from this place while still “being here.”) Kabubble: Umm...see that past sentence. Ah, the compounded life.

This always happens. Whenever I’ve spent a more than a month a way from the confines and comforts of home, a home for the past 20 years, the comforts of the known. Whenever I’ve lived someplace without actually settling someplace new, without making that place home, this dispossession strikes, even in the U.S. (so much for that cultural hegemony). Like I said before, a few more months, and a few more interactions...

Learning to Post Better

(Umm...preemptively, sorry KW. A shout out to all my ABBA loving friends first)

The music thing (as referenced in the above post), and reverting back to guilty American identities (as referenced in the above post). I made a concerted effort to buy less music this past year. I’ve been making up for that mistake in the past two months. To help catch up, and to continue an annual ritual, I’ve been perusing the year-end best of lists; a couple of agreements, a couple of finds. For quite a while, Spoon’s ‘Gimme Fiction’ was my shoo-in for the best rock album of the year (but that’s a bias), then I got over my anti-hype and picked up the Arcade Fire a year late (actually a 2004 album, but it was their amazing cover, released in 2005, of one of my all time favs, the Heads’ “This Must be the Place (Naïve Melody).” That made me buckle—David Byrne on vocals to boot.). It took a while, but eventually fell head over heals for them, they even got me to stop listening to “Clap Your Hands...”

Then I picked up The Wolf Parade....finally (my fanboydom of everything Isaac Brock would have made me pick it up immediately, one would think...btw, Mr. D.I. Mouth/Anon. Anon., I want that album back), that took the spot solid.

Until I found a new ‘new to me’ band. The National. Right up my alley. They’ll likely be ‘that band’ for me for quite a while. Got the free download off of recently, their best MP3s of 2005. Go get it, it’s free, the track is ‘All The Wine’, it’s where I pulled the title for the above post from. Immediately bought the album ‘Alligator’. They’ve been on constant rotation. And now I get the pleasure of back cataloging, I hope they hold up. This album album alone suffices though. So well orchestrated and composed, so well balanced, and a baritone voice. Adlibbing what one review said, Coldplay if they could convey emotion authentically, Stellastar* if they wrote better songs. And I’ll add Archers of Loaf if they were still together and Eric Bachman’s forays were forced through the band.


The Jaime Lidell album, though truly a modern album, will have me listening to soul & RnB again and may be my favorite for RnB, even giving Chocolate Genius Inc. a run for the money, despite my biases. For hip-hop, it was Common, then fully supplanted by Kanye, but I’m settling on Common. But for that genre, well rather, for emcees, my glaring absence for the year, eventually I’ll start listening to M.I.A., especially since I really enjoy Diplo’s solo work. And there are a few that albums that remain to be picked up, most obviously the new The New Pornographers and the new Okkerville River, and {insert name drop here}, and {insert name drop of something no one liked here, preferably Japanese avant-noise rock}.

Again: A shout-out to nights at the Folger Theater, bar trivia Tuesdays (and Fridays), and fake ABBA concerts.