Monthly Archives: March 2007

Wu Tang’s Got the Answer To Terror

Wu Tangs Got the Answer for Terrorism

The other day in one of our pre-shift dinner meetings at the Grill, towards the end when the staff is anxious to jump up outta their seats and get back to work, the wizened owner gingerly took a piece of paper up to his spectacles, lowered it, and said to me, “Arthur, tell us about security.”

I’m sorry, but aren’t we living in a post-9/11 world? When someone says the word “security” to me about a million thoughts strum my brain strings. It was hard to find a tune, and so I sat there with a blank expression on my face, empty plate in front of me. I said nothing. The disappointed owner became annoyed. “Alright, nevermind then…” He went on to cover issues such as calling the police or using the bats on criminals. An incident was recalled when a purse stealing perp was chased and tackled.

Again, I apologize. First of all, I do think about security all the time, especially in the world of heightened dangers that is the city. Rarely, if ever, do I worry about foreign acts of terror. Sometimes, watching the evening news or even listening to NPR, witnessing the brutality that takes place everywhere everyday I feel damn lucky to be alive. But as a forward leaning street attorney, as a double major in “keep the peace” and “protect ya neck,” my security protocals are strictly personal.

The vacant eyed stare usually is not the best way to look up to someone who controls your job, especially not when they are in your face with a serious question, but I wasn’t about to spill my secrets for free when its totally unnecessary. Every staff member in that room knew how I roll out or roll back or roll with the punches. In a lot of ways, I kept my mouth shut because I was on the cusp of revealing a waking dream that I’d had the same day regarding security.

My headphones were on and I was computing before work. The album playing in the discman was, “Fishscale,” by Ghostface Killah, whose flow evokes wild imagery for me. New York City defense squads, grime, ambulances, drug issues… in the pre 9/11 world it might have been possible for me to hear about such things in front of a compelling beat without drawing the lines of a larger picture, but in the new world order my brain is reordered.

The terrorists who attacked on September 11 tried to take down the WTC, just as had been previously attempted in the early 1990s, except this time they thought they had found their success. However, being foreign terrorists, they couldn’t find the WTC, especially not in a plane flying at hundreds of miles an hour. Instead of locating and bombing even one of the 36 Chambers they drove those death planes into the largest dullest buildings in the city…

Yes, my mind had made the post 9/11 jump into victory think, flamboyant glorious. The real WuTang Clan was underground in New York that day, in basements, corner stores, living rooms, bedrooms. Safe in studios that savage men from Afghanistan and points Middle East have never heard of. Places that would take their breath away because thats where the real enemy they searched for on the internet and in religious texts is found.

Hip hop, as birthed in New York, whose iron flag is still in the grip of the RZA and Ghostface, is probably the best way known today to get into the heads of the youth of the world, to change their hearts and minds. Its the sexiest and most seductive cultural export to the impressionable young of the world that this country has to offer. It is our sword, and for the aspiring jihadists, it becomes a leering seductress.

Can you focus on jihad when our new culture is making your head nod? Can you see straight to shoot when your ears sieze up in spasms? That’s when you shook, over to the dark side for the beats and rhymes… In terms of who is writing the storyline for the potentially angry youth grown up in the toughest places on Earth, the final showdown is between extremism and hip hop. And to the self-satisfying American censor suckers; which side do you think holds the most potential for present and future positivity?

Hip hop is part of my security. I side with the Shaolin.

Early Spring Jazz Workout with Two Third Arms

My roommate Andy has the same initials as me and is an aspiring trumpet sample king. In this early spring video, my man goes chop chop chop at a sample that the Bhu has cooked up for him. And though he ultimately nails it (but not on video), this one here captures the rare raw sound of two third arms banging cymbals. Its bombast for the final chills…

The I’m Saving Babies Edition

Yesterday was not a game. I woke up and ran 5 miles with Koh and Jess, then reported to work in a short sleeved purple polo. We did 360, making it an official East Coast banger. After work, feeling unfulfilled, I donated $1. to premature babies at the Hess Gas Station. Yes.

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Here is a cartoon the Notorius G made for me. I know its hard to see. The captions read “I hope it goes in, I hope it goes in, I hope it goes in.” “Fuck yeah I hope it goes in too buddy. Christ this gay basketball league is way more intense than I’d bargained for.” Hahaa… happy Sunday snitches.

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Reppin’ Rileys Roast Beef

Sorry piggies…

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Posting Up for the Skyhook

This afternoon, finally with a day off, I hit up the courts with the Doctor and Moody. Took some pics with the active lifestyle cam. Had to edit properly so you all can see how I hit the boards and hang on the rims. Ya’ll know how I hang on those rims… like a tree lemur.

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Pep Does Pep

Last night former ECG server Scuba Steve swam off into the sunset. I swilled champagne after work at the snorkel party… upon waking today (God, champagne hangovers give me the shudders) thought I’d post a couple pictures of that Jazzy Spaniard, Pep.

The best way to view these images is to play the accompanying sound file first. That way you can hear Pep doing what he does best… Pep. I want to compile several audio tracks very similar to this style and release an LP called “Pep on Pep” for release exclusively in Spain (I don’t know how well it would sell here). This is a sample of how awesome that release could be. Get pep!

Listen to the bebop skitskat sound of Pep doing himself, Pep on Pep. It’s all the rave with the Inman Square crowd.

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Put It in My Eyeball!

I have a fear of, or rather an disability for, dropping eyedrops into my eyeballs… and so I enlisted the help of my friend Keeks, and videotaped it. Funny thing is, I set it up to scare my friend, complete with Eric Burdon playing a live version of “House of the Rising Sun” in the background. Take a look at Keeks face as I start screaming. All I can say is, “Got ‘em!”

I Ain’t Just a Bear Trackin’

wernerwild.jpgThe other day when I was hanging out with my friend Kiki before work, we discussed the possibility that there is a word in the English language that means “to do with, or having to do with bears.” Both of us insisted that the word has to exist, and later agreed the word probably contains the root “ursus”. Timothy Treadwell, who spent thirteen seasons living amongst the bears of Alaska, probably knew the word, and I would email him my question had he and his girlfriend not been killed and partially eaten by bears.

The documentary filmmaker Errol Morris comes into the East Coast regularly. Before I realized that he was the man behind the cameras I thought he was just a gentle white haired regular with a funky eyeball. His wife is nice. Now I know that the man has his offices on Cambridge St., never stops filming, and got his start by being pushed by Werner Herzog. Herzog is the one behind the documentary about Timothy Treadwell, Grizzly Man.

Specifically, Herzog’s the creepy narrator who listens to the human meal tape and intones, “You must never listen to this. You should not keep it. You should destroy it because it will be like the white elephant in your room all your life.” White elephant, black bear, same difference? If you don’t know which lines I’m talking about, think of the above quotation spoke aloud in a warbling, creaking German accent.

I consulted several books on language in my struggle to find the word for to do with or having to do with bears, a search which bore the following etymology: Modern English “bear” derives from Old English “bera”, which itself derives from Proto-Germanic “*beron” meaning “the brown one”. (Compare Old Norse “björn”, Dutch “beer” and German “Bär” all meaning “bear”).

Both Greek (“arktos”) and Latin (“ursus”) have retained the Proto-Indo-European root word for “bear” (“*rtko”) but it was ritually replaced in the northern branches of the Indo-European languages (The Germanic, Baltic, Celtic and Slavic branches) because of the hunters’ taboo on the names of wild animals. For example the Irish word for “bear” translated means “the good calf”, in Welsh it translates as “honey-pig”, in Lithuanian it means “the licker” and Russian “медведь” literally means “one who leads to honey”.

Still, that didn’t lead to the discovery of what the word is that means, “to do with or having to do with bears.” Please leave me a comment if you know what this word is. My legwork did recover a new way to use bear in slang…

“In the old west and to this day in the former Dakota Territory, the expression, “You ain’t just a bear trackin’.”, is used to mean “You ain’t lying.” or “That’s for sure.” or “You’re not just blowing smoke.” This expression evolved as an outgrowth of the experience pioneer hunters and mountain men had when tracking bear. Bear often lay down false tracks and are notorious for doubling back on anything tracking them. If you are not following bear tracks, you are not following false trails or leads in your thoughts, words or deeds.”

B Sides

Sometimes in preparing images for this blog I have to leave some gems on the cutting room floor…

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Also, a friend from work, notorious David G, took the time to remix some of the recent images, which I thought I’d share…

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I’m Still Gon’ Be Here

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The picture to the right is of the last of the foam from my cappuccino at Simon’s today. The barristas put a perfect swirling fern into the skim milk foam, that remained until the last sip, pictured at right. I thought it was sharp. “I loved professionals who could do what they were supposed to do. They were rare,” wrote Charles Bukowski.

In the shower today I was using the new conditioner, and it got me thinking about conditioning in general. As spring approaches, or rather lumbers frigidly forward, I will be running to condition my body. The whole wine and weed thing is also a form of conditioning, designed to keep me healthy and out of trouble as a person. Of course, Big Hair by Charles Wurthington of London is a conditioner, and a shampoo. One of my cousins, who was with me through my mom’s tailspin and death, recently wrote to me about a dream:

“Yesterday I was programming in the office, alone, under the fluorescent lights. I looked at my right wrist, at the veins under the surface and the pasty color of the skin, and it made me think suddenly of your Mom’s wrist, of your Mom’s wrist working to realize various projects, and lying now in the ground. This brought a brief flash a tears, and then I set my wrist back to typing.

That night I started the book you gave me by Orhan Pamuk about his childhood and about Istanbul. He described a melancholy and a mist hanging over a city that was once the center of the great Ottoman empire. In the fold of the book I found an old photo of a bridge that I bought from a street vendor during my trip there. I picked it out from a chest full of old photos, photos taken of families and landscapes and buidings and now scattered to the wind. I set the alarm for 7:55 AM and went to sleep.

I dreamt, though it has retreated now into a mist like that that hangs over Istanbul, of being in a bookstore, in the children’s section, and seeing books that you once liked. I cried uncontrollably, hysterically, even though I was in a public place, as I looked for more of your favorite books. You had committed suicide; that is why looking at the books you once read with pleasure made me sad. For some reason, a dream-reason, your Mom was also alive, though older now. She was outside with a deep tan. I did not talk to her, or anyone else, but it was just so: she had never died, but you had, and of suicide. Now it was you that was gone.

I awoke with a start at 7:54 AM and for the first time in many, many mornings did not lie in bed snoozing for another fifteen minutes or half and hour. A leftover sob still caught in my throat I turned the alarm off and escaped the bed and the dream.”

I wrote her back to let her know that I was deeply moved by the dream, and to say that I would never commit suicide unless I was late-stage terminally ill or more ancient than the mountains. Or handicapped and unable to write like Hunter S. Thompson. Also perhaps I may inadvertantly qualify for a Darwin Award later in my life. In any event, from a cautious child to street attorney, I have always been and always will be conditioning myself, solving future problems…

Upon embarking on my program of only weed and wine, I picked up a Black Sparrow Press bound Bukowski book from 1989, Hollywood, in order to replace time at the afterwork bar Bukowski with time with Bukowski the writer. Late last night, sleep saturated and recovering from a cold, I finished that book. One paragraph from those last pages really stuck to me, like Charles Wurthington sticks and marinates my head of hair, except this seeped through the hard bone of my skull:

“You never were a writer. You had to become a writer each time you sat down in front of the machine. It wasn’t that hard once you sat down in front of the machine. What was hard sometimes was finding that chair and sitting in it. Sometimes you couldn’t sit in it. Like everybody else in the world, for you, things got in the way: small troubles, big troubles, continuous slammings and bangings. You had to be in condition to endure what was trying to kill you.”

Amen to that. Fuzzyheaded from a contact cold that I contracted earlier in the week, yesterday afternoon I was watching Animal Planet. It was a show about wolves titled, “Growing Up Wolf,” about a litter of wolf pups that were separated from their mother for a few crucial months and introduced to human contact by a tough female dog/wolf trainer and her husband and kids and a gaggle of German shepherds.

The pack including the alpha female wolf and the litter’s mother were kept separate in a large enclosure. Eventually, in order to let the pups grow properly into their natural roles, they were reintroduced to the pack. The female alpha would either accept them, by letting them nuzzle her, and lick her mouth until she regurgitated a meal, or not accept them, in which case the dog/wolf trainer worried the pups would be killed and she wouldn’t be able to stop it. Luckily, the female alpha wolf put a little love in her heart and took the pups into the pack.

The last scene of the show was the entire human family sitting in the grass with the human conditioned wolf pack plus pups, with twenty or so German shepherds swarming around, and the lady dog/wolf trainer initiated a howl. All, from fang to tooth, joined the howling chorus. I started to cry… Later that night I took that paragraph by Bukowski as a form of howl, and so I write this.

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