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Archive for July, 2008

Serial killer bugs bunnies

Google Earth Doesn’t Kill Rabbits; Rabbit Serial Killers Do”

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Alambara, again

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Hip Hop and R&B are largely misinterpreted and misrepresented. But these people do neither.

Love Rain by Jill Scott and Mos Def

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Soul Music by Hezekiah

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Downtown Swinga by MOP

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Daydreamin’ by Lupe Fiasco

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The Truth by Pharaoh Monch, Talib Kweli and Common

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You know how in the modern epic Baasha, Rajinikanth had this cool piece of music playing in the background as he did his freestyling, patented walk. Well, that was quite something. Ridiculous and overtly dramatic, but quite capable of making you understand why this man epitomizes local pop culture.

I have background music too. Difference being that no one else can hear it.

For years, Radiohead, Faith No More and Pantera played in the soundtrack to my daily life. A lot of violence, tomfoolery, and embarrassment have been this avoided thanks to the intervention of these fine musicians. I guess music has that effect on me.

And such a fitting weekend it has been to the memory of this motley crew of my favourite bands.

On Saturday, I got to write about Tom Yorke and Radiohead.

Today morning, after years of expecting to stumble onto, I came across this article on the vastly under appreciated Faith No More. It was posted on Floodwatchmusic, a really engaging repository of good music and better content.

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A dark, dark knight

Proof there’s God: I got a pass to watch the premiere of Batman: The Dark Knight. Proof he’s evil: I had to attend the premiere show at Sathyam Theatre.

Despite being subject to the annoying clamour of socialites and film actors at the theatre, I experienced pure bliss at the end of the film. Suffice to say that I was a bit irritated with those photographers at Sathyam and their goddam cameras clicking photos of Namitha, Simbu, Arya and a few others who rightfully should be locked up with the Joker for the sake of their own redemption.

But screw that. Everything paled in comparison to scenes where a siren accompanies Joker’s haunting verbose. And may angels kiss Maggie Gyllenhal for being graceful, charming, courageous and undoing the damage caused by Kate Moss.

Language still eludes me, as I am still unsure how to describe The Dark Knight. Matter of fact, I won’t.

Let’s try something else.

Watch it and if you don’t think Heath Ledger has had one of the most memorable exits from modern cinema, fuck off.

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Chennai's zeitgeist

Ever since I have started writing columns for Zeitgeist, New Indian Express’ stepchild on Saturdays, an uneasy calm has descended upon the way I write. For brevity’s sake, let me argue that this is indeed a good thing.

Some sort of kudos is due to the good folks of Zeitgeist. Breaking the norm is frowned upon in the media community, especially in a city that has set its standards so low that Metro Plus is actually widely-read.

Break it some more. Snap the fucker and throw away the pieces. More, the merrier.

Biases aside, I am having fun with words and music.

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Hatchooo

Style, substance and serious slips by K Narayanan

From The Hindu – Chennai,

Menon’s reproaches are always gently worded. Not so the one from Christy Bharath (Chennai) and he seems to have reasons for “lashing out against such humiliation of the English language.”

Bharath proceeds to make a line-by-line dissection of a Chennai report in the paper. He has a pen (or keyboard?) sharper than the scalpel and it hurts. The angry reader concludes with a piece of advice: “Call in the ghost of Bergman (the Swedish film director). He made a career out of conjuring beauty out of the mundane.”

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When Roger Waters came to Bangalore, I had semester exams. When Rolling Stones performed here, I had my internal reviews at college. Just before Sting graced this city, I discovered Sixties garage rock and free downloads through Kazaa to give him a second thought.

Hard rock dinosaurs Deep Purple put on a concert at Cathedral Grounds in Bangalore sometime last year. Amidst brooding excitement we purchased tickets a week before the concert. As the week drudged along, we realized that we never did like Deep Purple. Adrenaline sometimes accompanied Highway Star. We liked Hush and we are certain that Space Truckin’ kicks ass. But we were either ignorant or wary of the other stuff Deep Purple has been putting out there over the years. So what the hell were we doing here? As soon as we entered the arena, answers to such questions exhausted themselves.

It was a cold night. The mind was far from sobriety. Far, far away. The opening band were as metrosexual as light pink shirts. But their brand of rock and roll was sort of entertaining. Chilli Peppers and AC/DC were covered with a bit of style. The crowd was bad. Awful even. Every one and their third cousin were waiting for the familiar riff that kickstarts Smoke on the Water. A couple of in-bred morons even started a “We want Metallica” chant. What we wanted was quiet appreciation. And what we really didn’t want was what we ended up with. A crowded spot near the speakers.

Two hours later, I was still unsatisfied. Headbanging seemed out of place. Moshing bordered along the lines of frivolity. I hadn’t felt so vacant at a rock concert since some silly band from Delhi covered Europe’s Final Countdown at IIT Sarang, 2001.

Ian Gillan and Steve Morse looked older than Walt Disney’s grandparents. They tried. They really did, but these dinosaurs could muster up all but energy. Then the dam riff started. Ten ten ten…ten ten…ten ten…ten ten ten…ten ten. We grabbed our jackets and ran towards the exit.

If music be food fit for kings, then this kingdom just collapsed under the weight of its own eagerness to rinse and repeat.

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Upon hearing the acoustic chords sounding the intro of ‘that syrupy ballad, which sucked in apocalyptic proportions and consequently deposited a shitload of money in Aerosmith’s bank account, we stubbed the cigarettes on the moist ground beneath our feet and scurried past the exit sign. I guess it was predictable. They had to end the show on an audience friendly note. Considering the audience largely consisted of people who thought of Aerosmith as that rock band, which made a song for that Bruce Willis movie about a gigantic meteor crashing down on Liv Tyler’s abdomen, I didn’t take too much offence to the curtain closer. Fact: Aerosmith still rocks and rolls like a bulldozer on amphetamines. Fact: I sang along to ‘Dream On’ until my throat pleaded for the music to stop. Friggin’ Fact: This was the greatest concert experience I have ever had.

Of course they began the show with ‘Taste Of India’, but so fucking what? Mindless fun was what coursed through my veins when Tyler screamed ‘Sweeeeeeeeeeet taste of India’ and I realised that I knew the lyrics. Aerosmith then crashed headfirst into a plethora of classics including ‘Living On The Edge’, ‘Dream On’ and an absolutely kickass version of ‘Sweet Emotion’. With the final solo of ‘Dream On’ still rummaging near my brain cells like feathered guitar chords in heat, Joe Perry strummed a lonesome blues note as the band joined in for a menacing blues explosion. The ghosts of Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal and BB King were thrown into a blender along with a few leftover cocaine strips snorted by Rolling Stones in 1969 – whipped, stirred and thrown at us with such a blissful haze of rock and roll.

Like I said, we didn’t stay till they played ‘that song, which has a video featuring that no-talent sonofabitch, who somehow managed to win an Oscar along with his best friend Matt Damon’. But from the parking lot we could hear the crowd giving head to Aerosmith with a few retards even begging for an encore. We didn’t care too much. One of my friends said, ‘We could have left after ‘Dream On’, it wouldn’t have fucking mattered…’. Even after sobriety kicked in, we kicked it right back out by hitting the rewind button on our memory capsules.

We were right there listening to Aerosmith – live and raw. We heard them ripping the living hell out of Garden City’s summer night. We even missed ‘that song which got Steven singing about not wanting to miss something else’. Our lives have not gotten better since then but we could at least say we jumped the fuck up and didn’t stop until the final chorus of ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ died down. And any music enthusiast would tell you, it matters.

Oh and just so you know. Fuck Kabbalah. Fuck Scientology. Fuck Ritchie Sambora. Joe Perry is God.

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Travel morgue

I have always professed a great love for traveling with a cultivated fascination for visiting places seldom explored by archetypal tourists. I am rather predictable in my vociferous dislike for visiting national monuments or botanical gardens tucked away a little too neatly under the foul armpits of polluted hill stations. Having been a land scout for nearly six years, I have explored ethereal places such as Yellagiri Hills, Top Slip in Pollachi and exotic parts of Kathmandu. Having spent close to three years in the company of guys who rightfully should be restrained with sedatives and leather straitjackets, I have journeyed to nether regions of Kodaikanal, serene rivers in Kottayam and also taken photographs and collected skeletal remains of exotic starfish as erstwhile souvenirs in sleepy coastal villages en route to Pondicherry. Most of all, having befriended my favourite cousin sister’s hubby (an obsessively adventurous chap) for the greater part of 1997 – 2001, I was willfully led astray to strange jungles near the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, Malai Mahadeswara hills and ghostly stretches of dense vegetation in the Western Ghats.

It’s been nearly a year since I had a proper trip. My business trip to Singapore was a nightmare only rivaled by kidney stone surgery I had to go through the year before. My last visit to Kodaikanal was when I was switching careers and henceforth even consumption of copious quantities of magic mushrooms could not lift the realistic distractions that kept annoyingly fluttering in my mind. I am pretty sure that I have lost a considerable amount of interest in getting out of the city and into the tender arms of quiet destinations. Maybe life has caught up with its gentle worries or perhaps I have simply grown tired of such indulgences. Maybe I just don’t like taking such trips anymore. Whatever it is, one thing is for sure. I am going to do this one more time, if not for reclaiming a distant memory then at least for hitting the pause button on life to send a gentle reminder to self that I once was a traveler.

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