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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"All I ever wanted was love"

The new(ish) Lauryn Hill, "Lose Myself." It's pretty good. I dont know why it s on the Surf's Up soundtrack but it s pretty good. Could Lauryn really be back on track? Everyone's been saying that for years. A year or so ago, I remember reading something where a producer was saying that what Lauryn was working on was groundbreaking, a new sound, so ahead of our time and so on.

I think this song sounds fresh. Contrapuntal is the word, isnt it? Opposites. She's half singing, half rapping, slow and mid tempo but the melody and beat s quick and thumping.

Shades of Outkast, Andre and Big Boi. But the lyrics are all Lauryn.

And theyre good lyrics too.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Best Prime Minister Ever Is...


NOT BRIAN MULRONEY.

In advance of his memoir, Brian Mulroney has attacked the late Pierre Trudeau for not serving in the miltary during World War II and, as the Great Chin sees it, not suppoting Jews.

Despite conventional wisdom, military service is not a prerequisite for elected office. Where does Brian Mulroney think he is? The United States? You could subsribe to the idea that fascism is the future of humanity, the dark boot kicking a face, but we re not quite there yet. You dont have to have killed someone or ordered someone to kill someone to be a leader.

Interesting how he brings Jews into the fold. I cant help but think that a part of his demagogery is in service for Harper and the Conservatives and the impending elections. This current government more than any other Canadian government, has been vocal about publicizing their support for the state of Israel and getting involved in Mid-East politics as part of their effort to make Canada, a middle power, into a real player. Which is also the reason why were stuck in Afghanistan til at least 2009.

The rest of the article is below but this part is my favourite:

"Mr. Trudeau's government was the architect of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and brought home Canada's Constitution from Britain, even though Quebec refused to sign it.

Mr. Mulroney negotiated the free-trade agreement with the United States and introduced the Goods and Services Tax."

Hilarious. Whether or not you liked his policies, Trudeau was a visionary, a big thinker. He came up with a constitution for Canada (along with other things like decriminalising homosexuality, contraception and abortion in 1969 and adopting a policy of official multiculturalism and bilingualism).

Mulroney came up with a tax.

He should stick to watching his son host Canadian Idol.

--

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070905.wmulro0905/BNStory/Front/home

Mulroney lashes out at Trudeau
Fresh comments about late PM's wartime activities fan flames of long-running feud

BRIAN LAGHI

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
September 5, 2007 at 11:49 PM EDT

OTTAWA — The late Pierre Trudeau wasn't morally fit as a leader because of his failure to support the war against Nazi Germany, says former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

In an interview to promote his soon-to-be-published memoirs, Mr. Mulroney takes direct aim at his long-time foe, whose intervention is widely considered to have derailed Mr. Mulroney's Meech Lake constitutional accord.

"[Mr. Trudeau] is far from a perfect man," Mr. Mulroney said in an interview with CTV News.

"This is a man who questioned the Allies when the Jews were being sacrificed, and when the great extermination program was on, he was marching around Outremont [Montreal] on the other side of the issue."

The interview is part of a two-hour documentary that the network will broadcast Sunday, on the eve of the release of Mr. Mulroney's autobiography, Brian Mulroney: Memoirs.

Mr. Mulroney's remarks underscore the long-running animosity between two men who authored landmark changes in Canadian society.

Mr. Trudeau's government was the architect of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and brought home Canada's Constitution from Britain, even though Quebec refused to sign it.

Mr. Mulroney negotiated the free-trade agreement with the United States and introduced the Goods and Services Tax. His comments about Mr. Trudeau came in a portion of the documentary that reviews the failure of the Meech Lake accord, a deal aimed at getting Quebec's signature on the Constitution.

In the interview, Mr. Mulroney resurrects Mr. Trudeau's adamant opposition to conscription during the Second World War, when the latter was in his early 20s.

Asked by CTV news anchor Lloyd Robertson whether Mr. Trudeau's opposition might be seen as a product of the times in Quebec, Mr. Mulroney said Mr. Trudeau wasn't alone in his opposition.

"But they aren't around 50 years later to say: 'I'm Captain Canada'," he said.

"Look, out of 11 million citizens of this country, there were a million people — young men from British Columbia to Newfoundland — who rose to fight the Nazis. The most evil machine ever known to man, trying to exterminate the Jews, everybody knew that, and all these young Canadians rose and went overseas to fight them. Pierre Trudeau was not among them. That's a decision he made. He's entitled to make that kind of decision. But it doesn't qualify him for any position of moral leadership in our society."

Mr. Mulroney's remarks regarding Mr. Trudeau's opposition to the draft in the Montreal riding of Outrement appear to be a reference to the latter's decision to campaign for anti-conscription candidate Jean Drapeau during a 1942 by-election.

A recent book by retired academics Max and Monique Nemni detail the young Trudeau's resistance, noting that he spoke passionately against the candidacy of a military official put up by the Liberals.

At the time of the war, Mr. Trudeau's status as a student allowed him to avoid regular service, and he was instead part of the Canadian Officers' Training Corps. He was kicked out of that unit for disciplinary reasons and moved to another group, but was never called up.

Lloyd Axworthy, a cabinet minister in the governments of Mr. Trudeau and Jean Chr├ętien, called the comments "low-level remarks."

"I think it is really unbecoming and unfortunate that a former prime minister of Canada is using his new pulpit to even old scores in a way that the person can't respond," said Mr. Axworthy.

"I think if one talks about moral leadership, it's not exclusively derived from going into battle. Some of the most effective moral leaders of our time, like Mahatma Gandhi, were pacifists and conscientious objectors and promoted non-violent means as a solution."

Mr. Trudeau's son Justin declined to comment, and said he would not be addressing the matter in the future.

This latest barrage follows a book in 2005 by author Peter C. Newman, in which Mr. Mulroney called Mr. Trudeau a "son of a bitch" for undermining the Meech Lake accord. Mr. Mulroney has also said that Mr. Trudeau aimed to prevent his successors from succeeding where he failed.

He was similarly critical in the interview.

"He called me a weakling, he called us cowards, he called the premiers snivellers — well, you name it," said Mr. Mulroney. "It was all there, it was a vicious personal attack."

Mr. Mulroney did, however, praise his former antagonist when he died seven years ago. At the time, Mr. Mulroney expressed respect for the depth of Mr. Trudeau's beliefs, and the tenacity with which he defended them.

"I find that's rather strange," said Warren Allmand, a Montreal city councillor and former Trudeau cabinet minister. "Mulroney must have been a child at the time and Trudeau wasn't very old himself."

"I don't consider Mr. Mulroney a great historian," he said. "He may have had certain success as a politician but I don't know if he's known to be a historian."

He noted there were many young men who didn't fight in World War II, including Mr. Allmand's own father. He worked in the railway industry and was told he was needed more on the home front.

"It would appear that what Mr. Mulroney is trying to do is knock down Pierre Trudeau to put himself in a better light," he said.

"Let Mr. Mulroney's accomplishments speak for themselves and let Mr. Trudeau's accomplishments as a political leader speak for themselves. I don't believe in knocking down other people, especially when it doesn't even relate to their period of government.

"Some people would attack Mr. Trudeau for bringing in the War Measures Act, others would support him for that. These are policies in which you can have an opinion."

With a report from Joanna Smith

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pangarap na Bituin

Im bummed that I left the Philippines just as the new teleserye, Pangarap na Bituin, was starting up.

I use the term "new" loosely.

I dont know how "new" it is. As far as Ive pieced together from personal memory and things Ive picked up during my research trips to the Philippines the past few years, Pangarap na Bituin has had several reincarnations.

The song- about the necessity of dreaming and the possibility of turning a dream into a reality- was a song written who knows when? The 70s? Early 80s? It's quite poetic. Tagalog, not the kind of everyday Tagalog I use and the type heard nowadays is really beautiful, the kind of Tagalog I used to hear my grandparents and their friends use or the kind of Tagalog I associate with the rites of formal courtship and other social conventions and graces that are no longer observed or practised. Anyway, so it was a song then it was a movie in the early 80s starring Sharon Cuneta. I forget the story. Sharon's a poor girl, she becomes a famous singer, the end. That's probably pretty accurate. Throw in a rich land owning family who tries in one way or another to oppress her and thwart her class transcending affair with the landowner's son and I bet you that really is the plot. There's a scence towards the end of the movie where Sharon sings the song, Pangarap na Bituin, on stage, a dark stage and it's only her face under a spotlight. The song was also used as a theme song for Jewel in the Palace, a Koreanovela imported to the Philippines a year or so ago. And, now, it's an ABS CBN teleserye starring Sarah Geromino.

Aside from the song being really poetic and beautiful, my real interest in the historiography of the song, the movie, and it s various versions and incarnations. Ive said before that the Philippines is a place where odd things exist side by side. Rich and poor live cheek by jowl. But more than that juxtaposition, I think the real issue in a place like the Philippines, in the third world, in a place that's only partially developed in terms of, say, physical infrastructure (sidewalks are an afterthought to roads) or civic ones (fair and free elections, for example), is recycling.

Yes, Manila is one big garbage dump. Patayas and Smoky Mountain. But things are salvaged out of this rubble. The desperately poor who come out at night to sift through garbage, whether on street corners or in Manila's dumps, pick out recyclables, bottles, shopping bags and so on that they can re sell or re use. But Im talking about symbolic recycling, the recirculation of not only goods but ideas and cultural artifacts. Like songs or movies so that Pangarap na Bituin, a song, is made into a movie is used as a song for an imported drama and is then resurrected as another soap opera with the original song as the soap's theme song.

It's another matter as to why this is. Is it because there are some things, some cultural products, that are so well made that they re timeless, classics and can endure the particular tastes of one generation to be equally appreciated by the next? Is it because the Philippines has run out of ideas and can only keep going back to the past?

Regardless..regardless...

Pangarap na Bituin is a beautiful, poetic and utterly moving song. Of the versions Ive listened to, I like this one the best. It's sung by the three finalists of the latest installment of Pinoy Pop Supertar which was eventually won by Mark Gagarin.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Vilma Santos on Deal or No Deal

The Philippines can be a hard place. Aside from the heat, the desparate poverty, the blatant everyday injustice, there's also the unbelievable traffic, the alternately hostile or exceedingly kind but altogether unnecessarily protracted customer service exchanges, the paperwork and all the receipts involved in ordering a piece of bread at Red Ribbon...

It all takes a toll on you.

Last week, I started getting the early symptoms of the flu and was laid up in my hotel room, having rubbed myself from head to toe in Vick's and consumed 3, 4 or 5 capsules of Paracetemol. I lost count. I was miserable.

My tv was tuned into Deal or No Deal, in keeping with my odd simultaneous like and dislike of Kris Aquino. Legendary actress turned politician Vilma Santos, was the contestant.

As I breathed in and out of my nose, wondering what germ was invading my body, I was enjoying Governor Vi's appearance on the game show and wished that her ex-husband, Edu Manzano, would make an appearance. That would have been even more perfect.

Decades ago, Vilma and Edu were the movie industry's golden couple and I recall keeping track of their romance alongside the goings on in Dallas and Knots Landing. Thank goodness for my grandmother and her sister who exposed me to such things. The two have long ago divorced though their fame continues. Vilma became the mayor of Lipa City. She married a man who became Senator (who probably became a Senator based on the popularity of his wife). Edu continues to be a television mainstay and is the host of two popular game shows. They're son Lucky has become a bankable matinee idol and commercial endorser.

Start the video at 2:26.

This was seriously one of the highlights of my latest trip.

Seriously.

It brought me unexplainable joy.

The Philippines is a strange juxtaposition of disparate things including personal pain and pleasure that make for an intoxicating brew that's more potent a balm for individual afflications.

I started to feel better, I could breathe. I dont give credit to the Vick's but to the magic of Filipino television resurrecting a legendary romance if only briefly.

The Philippines is still a place where some wishes still come true.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Buy the book

First off, if you havent yet...

SONGS IN THE KEY OF MY LIFE (Harlem Moon/Random House)

available on amazon.com and fine bookstores everywhere.

Ok. With that public service announcement outta the way, last Saturday (July 7...Im late posting this, Ive been busy, overwhelmed...) Ferentz had a reading at the Brooklyn Museum.


People came. Lotsa them.


People bought books. Lotsa them.


I played DJ. Sorta.


Ferentz was, is, amazing.

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I'd like to stand on my head. It's been a while.