Month: December 2018

The Montréal Massacre

Twenty-nine years ago today, a violent misogynist marched into the École Polytechnique in Montréal, separated the men from the women and gunned down fourteen women.  Another fourteen were wounded.  He then killed himself.  In his suicide note, he blamed feminists for ruining his life.  He claimed that feminists attempted to play the advantages of being women whilst also seeking to claim advantages that belong to men.  He had a list of nineteen prominent women in Québec whom he considered to be feminists and whom he wished dead. The Montréal Massacre shocked a nation.  I was sixteen and living at the other end of the country, in the suburbs of Vancouver.  This felt a little more real for me because I am from Montréal.  My mother, also a montréalaise, was ashen-faced and shocked watching the news, crying.  At school the next day at school, a Thursday, the shock was real and palpable.  Nearly all of us felt it.  Nearly all of us were sickened.  Some were crying in the hallways.  Some looked like zombies.  We talked about this incessantly.  We didn’t understand.  We didn’t understand such violent misogyny. I remain shocked by this event even today.  What I didn’t know or understand about violent misogyny as a teenager I now do.  I am a professor myself and teach my students about misogyny.  And violent misogyny.  I often talk about the...

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Jah Wobble — The Butterfly Effect

Jah Wobble The Butterfly Effect Rough Trade Jah Wobble is a legend.  He was the founding bassist of Public Image Ltd., the most essential of post-punk bands.  PiL (comprised initially of John Lydon, Keith Levene, Jim Walker, and Wobble) essentially invented post-punk with their first two albums, 1978’s First Issue and 1979’s Metal Box. Wobble brought a new way of playing bass to rock music, heavily influenced as he was by reggae and dub.  His big, fat basslines were the perfect counter punch to Levene’s jarring, metallic guitars and Lydon’s singular voice. Wobble quit PiL in 1980 and seemingly faded into obscurity.  There is an apocryphal story of him working on The Tube in London in the mid-80s and announcing into the PA system, ‘I used to be somebody. I repeat, I used to be somebody.’ He resurfaced in the early 90s with The Invaders of the Heart, heavily influenced by dub, reggae, as well as Middle Eastern music.  The album, Rising Above Bedlam, featured the hit single ‘Visions of You,’ with Sinéad O’Connor on vocals.  It was and remains one of the most mesmerizing songs I’ve ever heard, as much for Sinéad’s voice as Wobble’s bass.  Since then, he has regained his musical mojo and has released more albums, eps, and singles than I can count. Wobble’s music is instantly recognizable, I don’t think there is another bassist in the history of...

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Black Eyed Peas — Masters of the Sun, Vol. I

Black Eyed Peas Masters of the Sun, Vol. I Interscope It is hard to remember, but before the Great Sell Out with the addition of Fergie around the turn of the millennium, the Black Eyed Peas were an underground hip hop collective.  Will.I.Am was the obvious and undisputed leader, but Taboo and Apl.De.Ap pulled their weight.  Amongst other things, they were notable due to the multicultural background the three members.  Will is African American, Apl. is Filipino, and Taboo is the son of Mexican immigrants. An earlier group Will was in caught the attention of the legendary Easy-E of NWA, and this got him his break in the business.  BEP’s first two albums were 90s back-pack rap, focused on positivity and organic beats.  And whilst they weren’t exactly classics, they were both standout albums, complete with beats, rhymes, and life. And then the less said about the 2000s and the mega-stardom, the better.  Fergie came into the band, replacing the previous female vocalist in the band, Kim Hill.  Fergie left the Peas sometime in 2017 or 2018.  She has been more or less replaced Jessica Reynoso. So Masters of the Sun, Vol. I is a return to BEP’s roots.  And, well, the results are pretty damn fine.  Will.I.Am, Apl.de.ap and Taboo are all nimble rappers and their rhymes are once again blended with positivity and funky beats.  Like their first...

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Mermaids Want Shoes

Speaking once again of “The Little Mermaid,” I took my 3-year old daughter to see it when it came out (she’s now a 31-year old attorney). She didn’t yet have the viewing skills to understand such a complicated story–not to mention the musical discourse, beyond the plot, where you’ll find most of the graceful gestures to ancient myth and modern literature, from Prometheus to Faust–so I wrote her a letter to be opened when she leaned to read. It was my crash course in writing plain speech rather than sticking to my adopted academic tongue, and it was so...

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