Sunday, June 28, 2009
Isa TKM is a teenage telenovela from Nickelodeon Latin America, which has been broadcast in several latin American countries, and premiered last week on MTV Tr3s. (I was alerted to the music for the show by Jon Caramica in today's NYT--but for some reason I can't find the link.)
Check out the video for the song "Ven a Bailar," a delightful bit of bubblegum pop, which is just the thing for fans of The Archies and all their successors. (It's available on the show's soundtrack.) In it, Alex (Reinaldo Zavarce), the guitarist, can be seen bopping around, wearing one of those "kufiya print" t-shirts. (Otherwise known as trompe d'oeil.) The first season was filmed in Venezuela--was Hugo Chavez an influence in the style choices made in the vid?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Jason Jones' Iran series, btw, was the best work JJ has done ever.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Jason Jones: Behind the Veil - The Kids Are Allah Right|
For more Hich Kas music, go here. And search for him on youtube: lots of vids.
2. Alexander made a comment on my previous post, with regard to Mohsen Nimjoo:
...one thing to keep in mind about Namjoo is that unlike Bob Marley and Fela Kuti (who are pretty unanimously revered in their home countries, as far as I'm aware), he has not reached that level of popularity and is not uniformly loved. I was surprised to see Mousavi use a Namjoo song in his campaign advertising, mostly because a lot of the older generation (the ones who have heard of him, anyway) don't like Namjoo and feel that he butchers traditional Iranian music. I am sure that Mousavi wanted to reach out to the young, but he could have used a less divisive figure.
Thanks for that information, Alexander--I heavily depend on Iranian friends and informants, because I am no Iran expert. To clarify, the reason I prefer to compare Namjoo to Marley and Fela rather than to Bob Dylan is that the former all mix "Western" and "non-Western" forms of music in amazing ways. Namjoo, however, reall goes all over the place with his borrowing of Western genres. Check out "Jorah-Baz" from his Toranj album, for instance. It opens with the riff based on Muddy Waters' "I'm A Man," complete with blues harmonica and slide guitar. And then takes the song somewhere else.
Listen to it here:
Here is the clip made for Mousavi's campaign, Namjoo's remix of Mohamed Reza Shajarian's "Hamrah Sho Aziz." Namjoo was one of many Iranian artists who came out in support of Mousavi's campaign for president.
3. Now for MJ. And there are some Iran connections. As many have noted, Michael Jackson was truly a global star. Some of my Iranian friends recall that MJ provided their soundtrack during the early years of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). And here's some evidence, from Marhane Satrapi's acclaimed graphic novel, Persepolis. (Thanks to Hegar for providing this.)
4. MJ was popular in Iraq too. Among prisoners incarcerated by the US military, post-2003. Jonathan Pieslak, author of Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War, is featured in the latest New Yorker's Talk of the Town. He tells Lauren Collins that US "soldiers would use [heavy metal band Drowning Pool's song "Bodies"] both to get pumped up for battle and 'to induce irritation and frustration among detainees.' (The detainees, apparently, preferred ’N Sync and Michael Jackson.)"
And, if we can credit the film The Three Kings, Michael Jackson was also favored by Saddam's interrogators. Check out this unforgettable scene from the movie, where Iraqi interrogator Captain Said (played by Said Taghmaoui) educates Sgt. Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg) about why Michael Jackson disfigured his face. (Thanks, Elliott.)
5. Pakistan, too. Check out this scene from Pakistani comedy show "Fifty Fifty." (Thanks, Iftikhar and Nila.)
6. And then there are the rumors about Michael Jackson being a Muslim, which run rampant in the Muslim world. For some reason, such rumors spread about certain Westerners. Two I think of off-hand are Neil Armstrong and Jacques Cousteau (untrue in both cases). When it comes to Michael, of course, the rumors are fueled in part by the fact that (a) he took up residency in Bahrain in 2005 and (b) that his brother Jermaine did convert to Islam in 1989.
Ali Eteraz does a good rundown of the rumors, which he puts to rest, inshallah, here.
Whatever god(s) you did or didn't worship, Michael, RIP.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The song, "Dad Bezan Sedat Berese (Scream to Let Your Voice Be Heard)," was written in response to, and in criticism of, Israel's recent assault on Gaza (December '08-January '09). It provides evidence that the young people of Iran, who are the main social force sustaining the current political mobilization, are not simply Westernized elitists. There is no reason to expect that love for Israel will be unleashed if the forces represented by the Opposition movement comes to power.
It occurred to me a few days ago that supporters of Palestinian and Iranian rights should start wearing green kufiyas to express solidarity with both movements. I posted this random thought on Facebook, and guess what? My niece, who lives in New York City, posted me a few hours later that she was at an Iran rally (June 21), and had spotted a green kufiya. A bit later she posted on Facebook that she had seen another. Let's get this trend going!
More anecdotal information: A friend who recently returned from Iran wrote me this:
On Saturday (the day after the election), I was at a demonstration and when the riot police showed up on their motor bikes, someone in the crowd yelled "the Israelis are here, run!" Also, two different people mentioned to me that "they [the authorities] have turned Iran into Palestine."
2. Here's another music video, brand new, from the Iranian group Abjeez and Congo Man Crew (thanks, Negar).
The song, "Biyaa," features footage of the recent demonstrations in Iran. "A song dedicated to the courageous people of Iran, in support of freedom and Unity!", Abjeez writes on their Facebook page.
Abjeez ("sister" in Persian slang) are, surprise, two Iranian sisters, Safoura and Melody Safavi, based in Sweden. More info is available here. I've posted about them previously. Check out their other videos, on youtube and elsewhere, they are very clever and the music is terrific. Download the song here. I hope that an English translation is forthcoming.
3. For those looking for more Iranian music in a modern vein, I highly recommend Mohsen Namjoo's album Toranj, which is available from emusic. A good article about Namjoo is here. But I cringe at the Bob Dylan comparison--too easy--and think he should be more properly thought of as Iran's Bob Marley or Fela Kuti.
Namjoo's official homepage is here.
And you can even become a Namjoo 'fan on' Facebook, if you like.
4. Some short notes:
Four of Iran's soccer players have now been "retired" from the sport, after they wore green in their match last Wednesday with South Korea.
Renowned Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf recently released a statement on Iran. Watch it here (with an English translation).
We have found each other again. Even with all the violence happening in Iran, the Iranian people are more kind to each other now. For example, some put their motorcylces on fire, destroy their vehicles, so the fuels of their vehicles suppress the effects of the tear gas. They are defending each other. Around the world, we see that people have put their differences aside.
MERIP issued a news release yesterday protesting the arrests of writer and filmmaker Maziar Bahari and reformist intellectual Saeed Hajjarian. (It's not available online.)
Bahari is a veteran reporter who has covered Iran for the BBC and Newsweek. Hajjarian was formerly a top adviser to former President Mohammad Khatami. As he was shot by right-wing vigilantes in 2000 and has been physically disabled since then, MERIP is deeply concerned about his health while in detention.
"Bahari and Hajjarian would be the first to note that their arrests are only two among hundreds, if not more," commented Shiva Balaghi, an editor of Middle East Report, where the work of the two writers has appeared. There are several reliable reports of torture and other maltreatment in Iranian prisons.
Bahari's film "Football, Iranian Style" was reviewed by Shiva Balaghi in Middle East Report 229 (Winter 2003). The review is available online at: http://merip.org/mer/mer22
Hajjarian was interviewed in 2000 about Iran's "reformist moment" by Kaveh Ehsani. The text of the interview is accessible online at: http://www.merip.org/mero/
More to follow...Stay tuned.
Mother Jones blames hipsters for decline of Palestine kufiya industry. Plus, Colin Farrell & Isabel Marant
...why is the the last keffiyeh factory in Palestine about to go out of business?
That's because the one you're wearing (and, increasingly, the ones Palestinians are wearing) are now made in China.
Here's how it happened: Back in '87, during the first intifada, intifadniks couldn't get enough of Palestinian-made $25 scarves. Looser export restrictions meant that Israelis could rep them too, and slowly but surely the scarf and its emblematic pattern began appearing in the West. By the time the second intifada happened in 2000, hardcore activists and the super cool already had them. Then the keffiyeh trend reached its tipping point, and hipsters' insatiable lust for the scarf lured Chinese manufactures into the gig. Fast forward a decade, and Chinese keffiyehs are the norm.
Ironically, global support for Palestinian-statehood-as-fashion-accessory has put yet another nail in the coffin of the Occupied Territories' beleaguered economy. What's next?
So, hipsters are to blame for the decline of Palestinian industry? Ah, they are so easy to blame, aren't they?
But as more responsible reporting suggests, it probably makes more sense to blame the "peace process," which caused the West Bank to open up to "free trade" but created no viable national authority that could impose imports. But maybe criticizing the "peace process" would be too radical a step for Sharp.
One thing that Sharp could have done is to promote the purchase of Palestinian kufiyas by providing a link to the The Kufiyeh Project. (Note to The Kufiyeh Project: get the Hirbawi factory to make green kufiyas, so that we can show our solidarity with both Palestine and Iran. If you need a green kufiya, try the Arab American National Museum.)
And a footnote to earlier kufiyaspotting posts. Here's another photo I found of Colin Farrell (man, he has been photographed a lot in kufiya!--see here and here.)
And here's a photo of a kufiya from designer Isabel Marant, from her Fall/Winter 2008 Runway Show (courtesy Mick Margo, writing in the Fashion Journal):
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
1. "Raks dance," Raks, Waking up Scheherazade (rock from the 1960s)
2. "Dil Dasa Per Mesha," Kouroush, Waking up Scheherazade (rock from the 1960s)
3. "Kalagha," Manouchehr Sakhaee, The Best Of Manouchehr (pop)
4. "Dastgah-e Mahur: Tasnif 'Mahd-e Honar'," Alireza Eftekhari, Music Of Iran I (traditional)
5. "Foroud," Kayhan Kalhor & Ali Akbar Moradi, In The Mirror Of The Sky (traditional)
6. "Mahour," A. Ebadi, Setar Solo : Master Performers of Persian Traditional Music (traditional)
7. title unknown, Hich Kas feat. Reveal, download here (rap)
8. "Testament cover," SDS, courtesy youtube (death metal from Tehran)
9. "Sani," ZAMAN 8 & Hafez Modir, Suryaghati EP 1, Six Degrees (world/jazz)
10. "Neyriz," Jalal Zolfonun And Soheil Zolfonun, Mystic Journey: String Music Of Iran
11. "Bahooneh," Iraj, 48 Golden Hits of Iraj (traditional)
12. "Saz va Avaz," Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Bidad (traditional)
13. "Vaghti Mebanamet," Parva, Shah Mahiha (pop)
14. "Shekayat," Googoosh, 40 Golden Hits Of Googoosh: The Best of 1970-1979 (pop)
15. "Yadesh Beh Kher Tow Tehran," Faezeh, Yadesh Be Kher Tow Tehran (pop)
16. "Djooni Djooni," Minoo Javan, Persian Folk Songs (traditional)
17. "Magham Allahwaisy And Hejrani," Ali Akbar Moradi, Fire Of Passion (Kurdish Tanbur Music Of Iran) (traditional)
ُ18. "Sepideh(Avaz e Hejaz)," Shahram Nazri, Atashi dar Neyestan (traditional)
19. "Demokrasi," Abjeez, Hameh (rock)
20. "Ghame Del," O-Hum, Aloodeh (rock)
21. "Auricle," Kahtmayan, Exir (heavy metal)
22. "Dad Bezan Sedat Berese," Salome, courtesy youtube (rap)
This song is in solidarity with the people of Gaza, assaulted by the Israeli Defense Forces in Dec. '08-Jan.'09.
23. "Talkhi Nakonad," Mohsen Namjoo, Toranj (rock)
24. "Ham Avazi Shushtari," Masters of Persian Music, Faryad (traditional)
25. "Tan Amiri," Ostad Elahi, Spiritual Epic (traditional)
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I'm pretty excited to see this photo of director Kathryn Bigelow, kufiya clad, in the New York Times, June 21. It's from a great article by Manohla Dargis, on the occasion of the release of Bigelow's latest film, The Hurt Locker. I can't wait to see it. I'm a huge fan of Bigelow's Near Dark, Blue Steel, Point Break and Strange Days. It's wonderful to read a review that treats Bigelow with the respect she deserves, and that calls her a "great filmmaker." (Plus, the review mentions the fact that Bigelow appears in the film, Born in Flames, the subject of a previous kufiyaspotting.)
UPDATE: I should have thanked Therese for alerting me to this on Saturday evening. Otherwise I wouldn't have known about it until Sunday morning, when my Times arrives.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
More on culture and #iranelection: Shajarian, Makhmalbaf/Mousavi, Iranian rap and metal, Khamenei's kufiya trim
When it was uttered it was meant as a biting put-down to the thousands who dared to question his re-election as president of Iran.
"The nation's huge river would not leave any opportunity for the expression of dirt and dust," said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a rather elliptical reference to the surging protests on the streets of Tehran...
But, just as street protests the world over seize upon a poignant image to convey their message, so Ahmadinejad's contemptuous phrase "dirt and dust" has entered folklore and provided a focus for the rage of the protesters.
So far it has inspired pithy slogans, blog headlines, posters and a litany of insults throwing the president's words back in his face. "Dirt and dust is you, it is you who are the enemy of Iran," one chant goes. Another frequently-heard slogan has been: "We are not dirt and dust, we are Iran's nation."
The phrase (khas o khashak in Farsi) has become a badge of pride. Etemad-e Melli, a reformist newspaper, carried a huge picture on yesterday's front page showing marchers carrying a banner bearing the slogan, Epic of Dirt and Dust. The offending words were written in green, the colour adopted by Mousavi's campaign.
It has also prompted a high-profile protest from one of Iran's most famous singers, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, who asked the state broadcaster IRIB – controlled by Ahmadinejad supporters – to stop playing his songs because he believed the insulting reference included him.
"I emphatically ask IRIB not to broadcast my voice because this is the voice of dirt and dust and will always remain so," he told BBC Persian.
My friend Shiva tells me that Shajarian has been participating in the protest marches in Tehran this week as well. I've seen him perform in New York, with Hossein Alizadeh and Kayhan Kalhor (with Shiva), and I highly recommend buying any of his recordings, because it is great music, and you get to show support for a progressive artist.
2. Iranian film director and Mousavi spokesperson Mohsen Makhmalbaf issued a statement on behalf of Mousavi yesterday, published in The Guardian. In it, he refers to Mousavi's relation to the arts scene in Iran--as mentioned in my previous post:
Before the revolution, Mousavi was a religious intellectual and an artist, who supported radical change but did not support the mullahs. After the revolution, when all religious intellectuals and even leftists backed Khomeini, he served as prime minister for eight years. The economy was stable, and he did not order the killings of opponents, or become corrupt.
In order to neu[t]ralise his power, the position of prime minister was eliminated from the constitution and he was pushed out of politics. So Mousavi returned to the world of artists because in a country where there are no real political parties, artists can act as a party. The artists supported Khatami and now they support Mousavi.Previously, he was revolutionary, because everyone inside the system was a revolutionary. But now he's a reformer.
3. Mark Levine, author of Heavy Metal Islam, is blogging about hip hop and heavy metal artists in Iran and their thoughts about the current protests. He's constantly updating the post, so keep checking back. Mark also links to the galleys of his chapter on Iran in Heavy Metal Islam, if you are interested in more background.
Mark also observes the following:
one of the main complaints i'm getting from friends in iran is that they are getting hardly any support from the arab world. ahmadinejad is very popular there bc of his 'standing up' to israel and the US (in my mind, it's more like professional wrestling--the iron sheikh vs sargeant slaughter) and no one caring what it actually means to live under the current system. i'm working on a piece now on how hosni mubarak must be viewing what's happening here. it's hard to imagine the egyptian people putting up with another sham election in their country after the courage displayed by iranians. but it is true from what i can tell that support for the iranian people from the arab ngo/activist sector has been relatively weak. if anyone has good examples to the opposite, please send them my way.
I too would be interested in comment on that subject. What is opinion in the Arab world?
4. Finally, when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered his speech yesterday calling on supporters of the opposition to end their protests, and asserting that there was no vote rigging or cheating in the elections, he wore a robe trimmed with the pattern of the black-and-white kufiya. Reasserting, then, that he and Ahmadinejad are the Iranian representatives of the sacred cause of Palestine. As noted previously, some of the protesters are contesting this. Just as they are contesting the ownership of the slogan of the Iranian Revolution, "allah-o akbar."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I'm talking about more traditional forms of culture.
First up is Shiva Balaghi's invaluable report on Middle East Report Online, published a few days before the election, "An Artist as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran?".
Some of Iran’s leading intellectuals and cultural figures have been actively campaigning for [Mir-Hossein] Mousavi. They attended a May rally in Azadi Stadium, marking the anniversary of the 1997 election of President Khatami. The Oscar-nominated director Majid Majidi made Mousavi’s official campaign video. Over 800 filmmakers and actors signed a public letter published in Iranian newspapers supporting Mousavi’s candidacy. Leading directors like Dariush Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Manijeh Hekmat, and Masoud Kimiai appeared in a ten-minute video, “Green Stars,” distributed on YouTube, calling on Iranians to vote -- and to vote for Mousavi...An architect and an artist himself, Mousavi has garnered increasing support amongst Iran’s culture workers who have faced growing pressures in Ahmadinejad’s regime.
Renowned filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, in fact, serves as a Mousavi spokesperson abroad.
Second--and again, my source is Shiva--the renowned Iranian singer Mohammed-Reza Shajarian, who is probably the greatest performer of Persian classical music, has protested that Iranian state television used his music in their pro-Ahmadinejad broadcasts.
Check him out, performing with Kayhan Kalhor (kamancheh) and Hossein Alizadeh (tar).
Finally (and again, thanks to Shiva for alerting me to this):
Five Iranian soccer players, including captain Ali Karimi, wore green wristbands in an apparent sign of support for Mousavi at a World Cup Asian qualifying match in South Korea. State television showed the players wearing them for the entire first half, but the bands were gone by the time the second half started. (from MSNBC)
Team captain Ali Karimi is second from left, and he's wearing a green armband, not a wristband.
Monday, June 15, 2009
And then there's this: Kamran Rastegar reported this on facebook today:
Students chanting seen on BBC Persian TV: "mardom chera neshestin, iran shodeh felestin." (people why are you still sitting, Iran's become Palestine).
Later in the day, Kamran posted:
Love to our Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab supporters in the struggle in Iran... Kullina Ghazzeh, Kullina Tehran! [we are all Gaza, we are all Tehran].
Indeed. On the youtube videos I watched of the Tehran demos yesterday and today, I heard demonstrators chanting, "marg bar diktator," or, "death to the dictator," i.e., Ahmadinejad. The slogan of the Iranian revolution was "marg bar shah": "death to the shah." About time that the symbol of Palestine solidarity was taken out of the hands of the cynical holocaust denier.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Once you are outside Ramallah you immediately face Israeli checkpoints, so you have to see it through this system of controlled urbanization where the Palestinian Authority has some sort of symbols of sovereignty, but in fact it's all very deceptive. There is not much power, this is it. If you go to the restaurants and if you go to the fashion shops you can maybe choose fashion from Italy and maybe suits from France whatever, you think that you have entered this bubble - but it is a bubble, it can be punctured. Like what happened in 2002 when the Israelis invaded Ramallah. Which within one hour the Israelis took complete control, Arafat was besieged in one room, with smelly toilets and it was difficult to get him food. It shows you the real power - still with the occupation, when they want to use it they use it.
I wish I could have attended the Ramallah Syndrome Sound System Performance on June 6, put on by Aswatt (Basel Abbas) of Ramallah Underground and Ruanne Aburahme at the Venice Bienniale.
Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif published an informative piece on the Palestinian artists exhibiting at Venice, Palestine c/o Venice, as well as on the Palestinian festival of literature, held earlier in the West Bank.
I'd particularly like to see this, especially after meeting the Palestinian hip-hop group G-Town in the Shu'fat camp last summer. (See my photos of G-Town and Shu'afat here.)
Jawad al-Malhi's House No 197 concentrates on the "project" where he grew up, Shufhat refugee camp in Jerusalem, where buildings - although built in concrete - are "never conceived as a whole from foundation to rooftop, but rather are built in piecemeal fashion for temporary use as their occupants wait to leave". The work, which also examines community and its durability under stress, is eerie in its crowdedness, emptiness, the occasional splash of colour.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
The practice of photoshopping the kufiya over the head of any political opponent is routine representational practice on the Israeli far right. I'm reproducing below an image I posted previously. It's a poster plastered around Israel in the run-up to George W. Bush's visit to the country in 2008. I mean, if the far-right could label Bush (not to mention Olmert and Peres) as an 'accomplice to terror,' of course, Obama must be an anti-Semite. Right?
Many observers have noted that Obama's speech in Cairo today was, while critical of Israeli expansion of settlements, quite soft on Israel's oppressive policies towards the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, reaction to Obama's Middle East visit was quite positive in Egypt, as indicated by this tourist item for sale in Cairo's Khan El-Khalili (from fridayinla, on flickr--thanks, Robin). Much of this enthusiasm, no doubt, has to do with Egyptian nationalism--the fact that Obama gave his speech in Egypt, as opposed to another Muslim or Middle Eastern country.
For the positive feelings to translate into anything meaningful, however, will require that the US really pressure Israel to not only stop settlement expansion but also dismantle the settlements and leave all of the West Bank, for good. And to negotiate with Hamas and abandon the imprisoning and ruinous blockade of Gaza. Not to mention getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Nice words, but more action needed!
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Meanwhile, Roger Waters is still agitating against that other (apartheid)wall, according to this AP report, via Salon.com (and thanks to Alannah for the heads up).
Ex-Pink Floyd rocker wants Israeli wall down
Jun 2nd, 2009 | AIDA REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank -- The legendary rocker and co-founder of Pink Floyd says he would give a concert in a flash if Israel's West Bank wall is torn down.
Roger Waters made the promise Tuesday during a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp that is hemmed in by the separation barrier's tall slabs of cement.
The 65-year-old co-wrote Pink Floyd's iconic "The Wall" album and performed music from it in 1990 at the site where the Berlin Wall once stood.
Waters had harsh words for the West Bank barrier, which Israel says was built as a defense against Palestinian militants.
The musician says the wall amounts to an oppressive grab of Palestinian land and that he hopes that "this thing, this awful thing, is destroyed soon."Go here for previous posts on Roger Waters, who has been been involved in the campaign against the Wall for several years.