If You Can't Dance To Chromeo, You Don't Have A Pulse

Being that I have a very eclectic taste in music it goes without saying that when tunes are recommended to me I give 'em a listen.  So when my friend Das told me to check out Chromeo I immediately downloaded their songs and was instantly drawn to their unique style.  Das is not only responsible for turning me on to this incredible duo, he also needs to be credited with the title of this post.  As I mentioned in Where'd All The Good People Go? I love music that either evokes some kind of true emotion inside of me or it makes me - a non dancer - want to dance my ass off.  Chromeo did both.

Chromeos mission is to make slick-ass lovers funk with nary a trace of irony. "They refer to themselves as the only successful Arab/Jew partnership since the dawn of human culture." Their songs, "Needy Girl," "Tenderoni," "Fancy Footwork" and "Momma's Boy" have been playing nonstop on my iTunes at home and on my Grooveshark at work.

This Sunday was the second to last JellyNYC Pool Party of the summer at the East River State Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the headline act was Chromeo. This date also coincided with a visit from Wild Child and there was no doubt that we would go to the concert.

When we left my apartment that morning the rain was pouring down in heavy sheets.  We swam to the L-Train and made our way to Brooklyn wet, sticky and uber excited.  All the while wondering if the show was even going to still be on.  I for one never let a little rain stop me.  Brian Boitano wasn't so into the idea (he hates the rain) but he couldn't resist the positive aura that was being emitted by myself and Wild Child. It's not as though we weren't prepared for the rain storm.  Having been to many an outdoor show, WC and I rocked bathing suits under funny t-shirts, bought new umbrellas and placed our cameras and cell phones in plastic baggies.

The venue was sweet to say the least.  The stage was set on the edge of the East River with views of the NYC skyline spanning the background. Although the sky was extremely unforgiving - the rain only added to the splendor. "I'm only happy when it rains" - Garbage.

Hipsters, hippies, punks and the like were all drawn to the free music show.  We made new friends and saw insane things go down.  The rain came in spurts of heavy then light and eventually it got to the point where as Ollie Williams would say, "it's raining sideways!" and the umbrellas proved to be useless.  Chromeo never let up no matter how hard it rained.  The crowd as a whole succumbed to the storm.  My friends and I (at this point JZ had joined our trio) dropped our umbrellas, took off our shirts and danced like lunatics (not Brian Boitano, he enjoyed the show from under his umbrella). As the rain continued to pour, drenching all in attendance, we reacted by jumping and screaming and dancing and singing with each other and everyone near us harder and louder and faster.  People were splashing and laughing and just having simple unadulterated fun.  There's something about the rain and good music that unleashes your inner child and makes for a ridiculously good time.

So kudos to Chromeo, a peaceful union of two of the worlds minorities that are constantly at war with each other, for bringing all kinds of people together through their music. I can't help but wonder that maybe if everyone would rock out to the same good tunes then we can lay down our weapons and let the music win the world's wars.


Really? $100,000,000 on a Community Center?

Since I last posted about the Cordoba house aka the Ground Zero mosque (GZM) I have been involved in a multitude of debates and conversations.  The overwhelming majority opined in favor of the construction claiming that anyone who thought otherwise were uneducated bigots who think of Al Qaeda and the Taliban as a synecdoche for all Muslims.  Those who were against the construction seemed mostly to be disturbed by the fact that they couldn't understand why any religious group would want to pray so close to the site of a mass murder.  While both of these views are simply opinions, that is all that they are opinions.  I did my best to extract steadfast reasons from my friends and family to support their initial reactions and the result was a slew of jingoist polemics emphasized by a lack of education regarding Islamic beliefs.

The United States is supposed to be a nation that is run by a government that separates church and state.  By strong, influential, revered politicians ostentatiously proclaiming their views through various mediums they are, ironically, blending church and state while trying not to.  The GZM should remain a local religious issue and not one that reaches politicians in Alaska or President Obama. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Obama has been criticized for his support of the GZM, his opinions are less aligned with average Americans than they are with an Eastern, liberal elite.  This is not only a reflection of Republican views, in fact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada joined other Democratic candidates in repudiating the president's position.  Obviously the widespread knowledge that some leading Democrats disagree with Obama's statement at the Ramadan dinner at the White House last Friday will have a tremendous affect on the Senate elections this November. 

Obama said Friday,

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the founders must endure."'
I'm sorry, while I have a deep respect for our president I can not help but think of this famous quote after that: (I did some censoring for my own amusement).

"So like, right now for example. The Haitians Muslims need to come to America pray in Manhattan. But some people are all, "What about the strain on our resources? 9/11 attacks?" Well it's like when I had this garden party for my father's birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. 'cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin'. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party pray with the Haitians Muslims. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you very much." - Cher, Clueless

Regarding the upcoming election, in that same article from NPR, Republican consultant Steve Lombardo said that "Voters in Ohio do not sit there with a map of Manhattan in their heads - all they understand is 'ground zero mosque.'...it's now a noun."  This reminds me of an essay I read just last week by David Foster Wallace The View From Mrs. Thompson's.  In this essay DFW discusses where he was when the twin towers were struck by the Islamic fundementalists on September 11th, 2001. 
It turns out the cause of poor old tendony Mrs. R—'s meltdown in the kitchen is that she has a grandniece or something who's doing some kind of internship at Time, Inc. in the Time Life Bldg or whatever it's called, about which Mrs. R— and whoever she's managed to call know only that it's a vertiginously tall skyscraper someplace in New York, and she's out of her mind with worry, and two other ladies have been out here the whole time holding both her hands and trying to decide whether they should call a doctor (Mrs. R— has kind of a history), and I end up doing pretty much the only good I do all day by explaining to Mrs. R— where midtown is. It thereupon emerges that none of the people here I'm watching the Horror with — not even the few ladies who'd gone to see Cats as part of some group tour thing through the church in 1991 — have even the vaguest notion of Manhattan's layout and don't know, for example, how far south the financial district and Statue of Liberty are; they have to be shown via pointing out the water in the foreground of the skyline they all know so well (from TV).

This is the beginning of the vague but progressive feeling of alienation from these good people that builds throughout the part of the Horror where people flee rubble and dust.
These ladies are not stupid, or ignorant. Mrs. Thompson can read both Latin and Spanish, and Ms. Voigtlander is a certified speech therapist who once explained to me that the strange gulping sound that makes Tom Brokaw so distracting to listen to is an actual speech impediment called a "glottal 1." It was one of the ladies out in the kitchen with Mrs. R— who'd pointed out that that week was the anniversary of the Camp David Accords, which was news to me. What the Bloomington ladies are, or start to seem, is innocent. There is what would strike many Americans as a bizarre absence of cynicism in the room...Nobody's edgy or sophisticated enough to lodge the sick and obvious po-mo complaint: We've Seen This Before. Instead what they do is all sit together and feel really bad, and pray. Nobody does anything as nauseous as try to make everybody all pray together or pray aloud or anything, but you can tell what they're doing.
I quoted this essay at such length because not only is it appropriate since the 9/11 attacks are the reason for any debate at all, but because it provides brilliant insight to the feelings and point of views of American citizens living outside of Manhattan. 

It is important to keep in mind that we don't see the news that is shown in Afghanistan and other mid-east countries.  I don't mean to make light of 9/11, my feelings of what happened that day can be read in my last post, but what we fail to realize is that by sending troops into Afghanistan and dropping bombs on where we think those who are responsible are located, we are essentially evoking war on civilians as well.  We don't view it this way because we are not terrorists, but we are killing innocent people, its just not on purpose so those innocent deaths are considered to be collateral damage.  If we were able to see the mangled women and children that are being hurt or killed by our doings, then maybe, as a nation, we could rethink war as the answer to 9/11.

This reemphasizes my conclusion in my last post regarding the proposed mosque.  Since the problem is so deeply ingrained in religion, the only solution is to further education.  Individuals need to rethink their preexisting religious thoughts. "Thought, actuated by edifices of discourse would help educate those who are unaware by showing that there is no absolute truth regarding religion. We need to put aside much of what we have learned and instead, focus on the greater good." It requires a complete change in our nation's foreign policy.  Obama needs to stop sending more troops into Afghanistan and start focusing on the change he promised us.  Afghanistan doesn't need any more bombs they need food and shelter and peace. Too, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq et cetera could use help.  Helping these countries in positive ways will be much more successful in ending terrorism, as opposed to fighting fire with fire.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is facing a lot of criticism regarding his (U.S. funded) trip to the mid east and the sources he is using to raise the $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars) required to fund the project. (read this from Forbes if you want to know more). However, he is a Sufi Muslim.  From what I have read, this branch of Islam could not be further from the radical Islamic sects.  Sufi's are a peace loving religious group of Muslims who want to build a place of worship for the 1 million plus Muslims who are currently living and working in lower Manhattan.  Aside from the need to educate not only New Yorkers, but all Americans, on the difference between terrorist groups and all other Muslims Abdul Rauf, as a Sufi, should use some of that exorbitant amount of money to help other Muslim countries escape the totalitarian fundemental abusive control they are currently facing.  Of all the reasons against the planned GZM the amount of money that is going to be spent is the one that resonates within me the most.  I don't want to flat out say whether I am for or against the Cordoba house, as I'd like for my readers to continue to form their own opinions, but I will stick to my opinion that a large chunk of that money could be put to much better use.  Yes, I know Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich also share that same view.  But what can I say?? I'm Lucky I'm Pretty! :)


So They're Building a Mosque at Ground Zero...and This is My Opinion

This post has been condensed for smoother readability.

I find the concept of building a mosque at Ground Zero to be ludicrous but interesting. It is a topic worthy of discussion, much more worthy than any discussion about Inception.
When I reflect on the years prior to the cataclysmic event that took place on 9/11/2001, I remember feeling safe and comfortable with the way our nation was being governed. I was not concerned about politics involving war or the war on terrorism. I was sixteen years old and my mind was occupied with thoughts of my impending road test, my boyfriend at the time and the notion that graduating from high school in May meant that college was just around the corner.  However, our nation was lacking in the defense department and has since implemented new security measures as a reaction to what occurred.  Terrorist groups infiltrated our system and destroyed our preexisting faith in our safety as individuals within our country’s borders.  Was the United States simply not proactive or in retrospect were we just naive?
The days following the disaster were harrowing.  Almost everyone I knew was affected. My high school is roughly 30 miles from the site that is now Ground Zero and we were literally able to see, smell and breathe in the asbestos filled smoke.  The smoke was almost metaphorically representative of the figurative fog we were living in as kids.  A metaphorical fog that was filled with rudimentary thoughts that were occupying our minds.  When the air was finally clean, there was a sense of a new awakening, an enlightenment, a revolution and a realization that the world we lived in was forever changed.
NYC was attacked by Muslim fundamentalists and now there are plans in place to build a mosque at the very site where they committed a mass murder of United States citizens.  While it wasn't Muslims as a whole that destroyed the towers but rather a terrorist group, that happened to be Muslims who misinterpret Islamic beliefs, doesn’t change the fact that it lacks a certain element of taste.
It raises the question that maybe what is going on is a battle between religions?  Would members of the Islamic faith support a Christian church being built on a site where there was a mass murder of Muslims? If that is the case, the solution would be for everyone to rethink their preexisting thoughts on religion.  Thought, actuated by edifices of discourse would help educate those who are unaware by showing that there is no absolute truth regarding religion. We need to put aside much of what we have learned and instead, focus on the greater good. World Peace?
Should I run for President or Miss America?
People tend to view what is told to them by those in positions of power, as an absolute truth , based on the mere fact that it is relevant right now. This is not only true regarding religion, but can be seen with regards to pop culture.  We are interested in reading certain articles and opinions of others because we can relate to them, because right now in our lives they are relevant.  We could even go so far to say that what science tells us to be true may not be.  Science could be viewed as just another method of presenting the ancient ideas of mythology and the more current ideas of religion in a brand new way, one that is just more relevant to 2010.  I mean time and time again science disproves itself.  I don't know about you, but I miss Pluto as a planet, but I digress. Terrorist groups ignore the fact that society and culture change over time and their followers listen to what they say out of an instilled fear. These individuals need to make autonomous decisions by realizing that they don’t have to obey what they don't believe.

It is important to remember that history repeats itself - always.  We can not just assume that we will not be attacked simply because we are the United States of America, the greatest country in the world.  The ideas of enlightenment and revolution that developed nationwide after 9/11 further emphasize the fact that, as a nation, we should’ve been more aware of historical sociological dynamics.  We would have been more aware of our weaknesses and possibly less susceptible to attack. I don't mean to say that we should have known or expected 9/11 to happen, just that we shouldn't have been naive to think that it couldn't.
The antagonistic approach contains the belief that building a mosque at Ground Zero sends a message of tolerance to the rest of the world, specifically to terrorist groups. I don't support that notion at all. It exposes us as weak and vulnerable. I am not saying that we need to develop a more volatile foreign policy. But it has never been our policy to negotiate with terrorists, so why would we think building a mosque at Ground Zero would render any sort of positive reaction from these groups?  Again, I will stress that it isn't terrorists who are building the mosque - but that fact just further elicits my excitement about this topic.  One that can be discussed at bay since there is no definitive solution.

Here is a link to an interesting documentary that is coming out.  Sent to me by my friend Das:
Check it out, yo.