Posted by: Steve Coplan | June 8, 2007

Ankle Injuries

Their performance on KCRW’s Morning Sounds Eclectic left me cold but this stop motion video using dice (yes dice) is enormously impressive. Their sound is much better with the benefit of production.

Via a Very Short List 

Posted by: Steve Coplan | June 7, 2007

Julie Andrews sings a Yiddish wedding song

“It’s Jewish” from Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Posted by: Steve Coplan | June 5, 2007

Nina Simone sings a Hebrew folk song

Land of Milk and Honey. Must be seen to be believed.

[Tip of the hat to Ben Bayit]

Posted by: Steve Coplan | June 4, 2007

Links for a rainy early June afternoon (mostly music)

The Beastie Boys Off the Grid. Past their prime maybe, but still can kick it.

Jean Luc Goddard’s Sympathy for the Devil. Worth watching a few times for the camera work and to watch how the song slowly builds through a collaborative process.

Bongo Maffin. Because it’s such a tight pop song, the detail that it’s delivered in Shona, Tswana and Zulu is easily overlooked. For some perspective, it’s as if a European band was singing in Portuguese, Spanish and French.

On that note: The Catalan band ‘The Farts’. Good thing they have linguistic chauvinism in their favor.

Saudi TV spoof of Israeli politics. Maybe I am missing the humor here.

Posted by: Steve Coplan | May 19, 2007

Selling pencils out of a tin cup

I have my issues with Hitchens — see No Apology and Arrogant Bastard –– but he is spot on with his analysis of Falwell, religious hypocrisy and the ungodly link between Christian fundamentalists and Israel’s right wing (and its supporters across the globe.)  I have no plans to read his book – The New Yorker review will suffice for my purposes.

Posted by: Steve Coplan | May 17, 2007

Would you be considered a leading man?

Implausibly, Salvador Dali on Helene Curtis’ What’s My Line.

One of my favorite books is Dali’s autobiography. I’ve never felt quite the same about him since I discovered he supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War on account of his fantasy he was the king’s brother, separated at birth. This delusion is, however, consistent with the rest of the insane propositions that populate his autobiography. Dali’s support for the Royalists was the cause of the rift between his collaborator Luis Bunuel, the subject of the stunning portrait below.

Posted by: Steve Coplan | May 4, 2007

Those crazy Normans and their Bayeux Tapestry

Via a Very Short List

And, the Battle of Hastings 2006.

Posted by: Steve Coplan | April 20, 2007

Links for a Spring Friday

For fans of South Park’s incisive political commentary: Google search turns up that Niger ‘yellow cake’ letter was a fraud. In other words, a group of Washington Post journalists have written a book about the US Administration’s blind rush to war that could be a punchline in a cartoon show. The barbarians at the gate grow more numerous.

Microsoft’s Ms Dewey: certainly easy on the eyes, very expensive to produce and an interesting attempt at a search user interface. What works in Microsoft unfortunately doesn’t work for most other people on the planet.

Frederic Galliano’s new album, drawing inspiration from Angolan and Brasilian dance music.

When the Nazi war machine swept into the Soviet Union in 1941, a half million Jewish men and women donned their uniforms and heeded the call to protect their country. The Jewish Soldier’s Red Star.

Video for Abdelli’s new album, the result of four years of global peregrinations. Attempts at fusion of traditional styles is sometimes gimmicky, but sometimes manages to achieve its aim: use music as a common language. Still not sure about Abdelli, but the lute is one of my favorite instruments after the banjo.

Sephardi Bakashot from Brooklyn’s Syrian community.


From queropere

Posted by: Steve Coplan | April 16, 2007

Kaizer Chiefs


Last week I had the good fortune to see Kaiser Chiefs grace the stage at Roseland Ballroom. The bars of Hoboken probably had to endure the loss of a few hundred patrons that night, if my read on the very ‘mainstream’ crowd is accurate. Kaiser Chiefs acquitted themselves well, keeping things tight and the energy high even as the crowd gradually lost interest. Radio play can be a double-edged sword apparently. But evening also held a degree of cognitive dissonance. My mental and emotional associations with Kaiser Chiefs are not with a bunch of pale English blokes. Kaizer Chiefs (and not Kaiser Chiefs) is the biggest football team in my hometown of Johannesburg. Allegiances are largely split between the three biggest clubs in Jo’burg – the Chiefs (aka Amakhosi), the Moroka Swallows (aka The Birds) and the Orlando Pirates (aka The Bucs, as in Buccaneers), with Jomo Cosmos and Wits University accounting for a small and idiosyncratic crowd. The Bucs supporters (as ‘fans’ are known in South Africa) could be likened to ‘The Raider Nation’ in their sometimes macabre inventiveness and undying loyalty to the team, as Pieter Hugo has chronicled here.

The eponymous Kaizer Motaung is along with Jomo Sono (whose team is known as Jomo Cosmos) known for being talented players in their day but were also largely responsible for the creation of a professional soccer league in South Africa. The creation of a professional soccer league by Africans for Africans was both a daring, revolutionary and astoundingly entrepreneurial act in a society where race determined economic opportunity. I can imagine that the name held some amusement for the Leeds fans who comprise the band, encountering the name when the end of apartheid afforded South Africa captain Lucas Radebe the opportunity to close out his career in the north of England. Kaizer, I would venture was the child of parents educated by Lutheran missionaries, but the strange juxtaposition of the team name was never the source of much amusement in South Africa. Support for Kaizer Chiefs was shorthand for refusing to let the past define the future.

Related: Nostaljah 

Posted by: Steve Coplan | April 7, 2007

Links for a chilly Friday in April

Buy the first pizza after Pesach auction

This auction raises some interesting issues, halachically speaking. The laws of Pesach dictate that a Jew cannot own or derive benefit from any products containing wheat (apart from matzah) during the eight days (or seven if resident in Israel) of the festival. Does the right to buy the first pizza out of the oven confer ownership, and hence constitute a direct violation of the law? The answer seems to be that because this is ownership of the second order — a derivative if you will — and the auction winner will only own the pizza when he pays for it, the auction is halachically acceptable.

The related question is whether this is appropriate? Pizza I can live without for eight days, but a cold beer is a different story (and a Scotch wouldn’t be terrible either), so to some extent I can understand the value attached with the first morsel of hametz to pass the lips. Still, hametz (wheat products) are forbidden for a symbolic reason that is intimately tied to the spiritual aspect of the festival. Pesach commemorates freedom from oppression, and to some extent ties into the spring theme of birth, in that it’s related to the creation of the Jewish identity. It does not celebrate spiritual or religious maturity, but the release from some constraint. In fact, it takes 40 years of wandering, punishment and revelation before the Jews reach the level of cohesion and self-awareness to act as unified political and military force in the conquest of Israel. From a personal perspective, restricting our diet is a trigger or an exercise in understanding the limitations we impose on ourselves or old habits we won’t shake (our own personal Egypts so to speak) that stand in the way of progression. Salivating about pizza seems to defeat the purpose, in my opinion, although I am not sure I’d go as far as some of the posters on this message board.

Topknot video

I eagerly await the release of Cornershop’s next album, which has been some time in coming. The video is an excerpt from PATANG, a feature length film by award winning director Prashant Bhargava. During the jubilant atmosphere of Ahmedabad’s treasured kite festival, three stories unfold capturing the joys and struggles of a city in flux, or at least some I am led to believe.

Zeb – the spy from Cairo. Bauls of NY best of the bunch in my opinion.

Beat Pharmacy’s latest. Also nice to another transplanted Joburg boy doing his thing. Great album cover too.

The enigma of the Etruscans. This is a more academic paper on the findings discussed by a typically unfocused New York Times article on the subject of the origins of the Etruscans.


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