A Capital anticipation list: Tantrum vs. Only One, Junoon, 'Elizabeth and Hazel,' a Crass zine exhibit
Each week, Capital's editors and writers will offer a list of the events, activities, releases and personal obsessions that we are looking forward to during the next week. Here is a list of our anticipations.
Rap battles, online
Azi: With Russell Simmons, Kanye West and Talib Kweli occupying Wall Street, it's hard not to appreciate a rapper who can make a political statement artfully.
OK, maybe calling Tantrum's third verse in a rap battle against Only One a "political statement" is a bit of a stretch, but it's a rare instance in which one rapper disses another for having a police record.
Tantrum battled Only One two weeks ago, after an earlier contest between the two was postponed because Only One was briefly in prison (something he happily notes in the opening round.)
In the third round (at 7:35 in the video), Tantrum unleashes a lengthy diss of Only One's criminal record, suggesting that he should be despised for failing at life, and not lauded for being some kind of noble outlaw doing things on his own terms.
Your album is called police brutality, implying your war with the cops/
Like we go sympathize your mistreatment of those enforcing the laws.
Word is, you were caught slanging green without a medical license/
Dodging felony strikes, that's a hell of a crisis.
Now, I ain't on the help and advice tip, but on some general life shit/
If you weren't living like a degenerate white kid you wouldn't be complaining
about getting the shitty end of a night stick.
You said you beat three charges they served you in court to face/
Well, having more than one is proof you ain't learning from your mistakes
This is why our taxes are going to general confinement?
Because fuck-ups like you keep ending up inside it.
You think the prison system's there, for him to learn his lessons through them/
Only to get paroled and rob the nearest Western Union.
If we knew you'd fuck off every chance to be a better human/
I'd 'a paid the extra taxes just to have the city execute him.
I've been slightly obsessed with online rap battles since around 2007, when the World Rap Championship in New York City ended in a controversial decision and some of the tapes from the competition were stolen and held for ransom.
(Yes, that's me in the background in this video.)
A lot of the competitors who made relatively undistinguished debuts (see above) in those earlier competitions have matured and developed into talented lyricists. Just see how much better Dumbfoundead and Dizaster, both from L.A., have gotten, both racking up unexpected—i.e. controversial—victories over the immensely talented The Saurus of Monterey Bay.
Sadly, the scene lost some of its most promising characters, with Brooklyn-based rapper Soul Khan saying he stopped battling in order to pursue a more serious music career. It's a shame; his mix of self-deprecating Jewish humor and rapid-fire insults made him a must-watch performer. And his demolition of Fresco last year is a lesson that could be studied.
Sometimes, when gifted rappers get old, funny and fun things happen. In Soul Khan's case, I guess we'll never know.
A haunted house and Junoon's gobi
Dana: I want to go to a haunted house this weekend. I grew up in the suburbs of Poughkeepsie—yes, Poughkeepsie has suburbs—and haunted houses were integral to the Halloween experience. Frankly, they were the best part of the holiday. I hear excellent things about Nightmare on Suffolk Street (the theme this year is, deliciously, "fairy tales"), and Blackout on West 39th Street, though the latter requires patrons to walk through alone, which might well take all the fun out of it for me.
I'm also planning on having a decadent night out with a couple of friends at a new Indian restaurant called Junoon, which the Wall Street Journal had described as "fit for the maharajah." Very excited to try their gobi.
Biking on the Hudson River Waterfront
Joe: The bad news is there's no room for bikes in the one-and-a-half bedroom apartment I share with my fiance. The good news is there are two reasonably priced bike-rental services in our neighborhood. That's my plan for Sunday. The 10-day says its gonna be Sunny and 65. And word on the street is that Capital's Gillian Reagan will be joining me. The route is the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. Not the whole 18.5-miles. Just from Hoboken, across the pedestrian bridge into Jersey City and south through Liberty State Park all the way down to the gated community of Port Liberte, where all of a sudden it feels like you are in a nature conservancy, and then at the beach, and then in the middle of some Mediterranean canal system. In reality, you are just a stone's throw from Bayonne. But I never let that ruin it for me.
Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir; Cowboys vs. the Patriots on Sunday
Reid: My hope is to catch up on a little historical reading this weekend, with a couple of favorite subjects that I haven't had time to indulge lately.
The first is Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir by John Paul Stevens. It's a relatively thin little hardback, given that Stevens logged 35 years on the Court and was the third-longest serving justice in history when he hung up his robes. The title is maybe a little misleading, since Stevens only served with three chiefs. (He was appointed to the Court in 1975, six years after Earl Warren had given way to Warren Burger, and then served with Rehnquist and Roberts.) But Stevens includes Warren anyway, and his predecessor, Fred Vinson, who presided over courts that didn't exactly feign the apolitical affect of today. In fact, both men were political animals: Vinson was a former Kentucky congressman and Treasury secretary, and Warren had been a popular California governor—the kind of service that would disqualify them from even being considered today. I'm curious how that shift has changed the court, so I hope Stevens goes there, at least a little.
The second is Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick. Margolick, if you don't know his work, used to write the At the Bar column for the New York Times, and now writes about everything from Donald Rumsfeld to David Levine for Vanity Fair. For this book, he goes down south, teasing out what happened to the two girls captured in a famous photo on the day Central High School tried to desegregate. In the picture, Hazel, a well-dressed white girl, is snarling at the back of a downcast Elizabeth, who's been surrounded by an angry mob. The premise is a little like another recent book, Sons of Mississippi, which did the same thing with a picture of a Mississippi mob preparing a billy club, to beat back the integration of Ole Miss.
Oh, and I'll be taking a small break from reading to watch the Cowboys and Patriots at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Thurston Moore and Henry Rollins, Peekskill Brewery, Zola Jesus and a Crass zine exhibit
Gillian: On Friday, Thurston Moore, frontman of Sonic Youth, will ask former Black Flag singer and current spoken-word showman Henry Rollins some questions about his new book at McNally Jackson Books. According to their description, Rollins' new book, Occupants, released by the Chicago Review Press, "pairs Rollins’s visceral full-color photographs—taken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few years—with writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary." I'll buy the book if the pictures are pretty (quote me on that), although I don't have a coffee table. I'm really there to see if there's decent banter between Thurston and Henry, who might tell some backstage stories from their recent tour with Dinosaur Jr.
On Saturday, I'm going to a Girls Write Now mentoring workshop in the morning (and meeting my mentee for the first time!). In the late afternoon, I'm taking a MetroNorth train to Peekskill Brewery in Peekskill, N.Y. for a friend's birthday celebration. It's also the brewery's birthday, so there will be dozens of "beer tents" and musical acts—a family affair assembled out of what you can make kid-friendly when there is beer around. My New England heart is swelling with thoughts of fall foliage sightings.
Zola Jesus is playing a couple of shows in New York next week, and I'll certainly make it to at least one of them, ignoring the overwhelming CMJ schedule otherwise. (Although I might find a way to make it to the EMA-headlined show at Bowery Ballroom next week).
Also, before I forget, Boo-Hooray gallery on Canal Street has assembled a powerful, timely exhibit: "In All Our Decadence People Die: An Exhibition of Fanzines Presented to Crass Between 1976 and 1984." On display are all kinds of relics from the English anarchist punk band's collection—signed drumheads, screen-printed posters, Xeroxed manifestos. The works vibrate with the intensity of the "zines" of the past, when they were less like writerly accessories and more like urgent dispatches for disparate readers and fans. Inspiring, powerful art pieces, many of them made the by band members themselves, mingle class warfare, stunning imagery, and challenges to the British punk scene's own complacency and hypocrisy. I went to see the exhibit last week, but forgot to mention it in the anticipations list. Part of the reason for this thing is to suggest a few things to do in the city. I recommend you find the time to go before it closes down on Oct. 20.