Archive of posts tagged with "seasonal"

August 25th, 2011

A Pucker Is Born

the willing victims —

pucker #
pucker #
pucker #
pucker #

the sour culprits

black black cherrrrries


June 12th, 2011

See How Time Fly #2949



April 6th, 2011

April Is the Cruelest Month

What is it with early April? Two days ago we mark the assassination of MLK, yesterday is the day we lost both Layne and Cobain (some years apart) — I don’t talk much about my grunge years here, but rest assured I sported mad plaid in the mid-90s — and today was the day the Rwandan genocide began in 1994, taking some 800,000 precious lives before it was over.

April 6 also marks a memorial closer to home. 12 years ago today our dear friend, Sharif Moustafa, a core member of our tight-knit West Cambridge crew and the BFF of my younger brother, suddenly collapsed on the same basketball court where we all spent countless days and nights — a court now named after him.


Thinking about Sharif — his life and his death — makes me want to write about our neighborhood and our city and things like race and religion and community, but rather than mobilize his passing for some politicking, I’d prefer to focus on Sharif here — and on the larger questions his untimely departure raised for us with regard to loss and mourning.

None of us really knew how to deal with losing a dear friend, with no warning, in the prime of his and our lives. Some dark, cathartic days followed. The strangeness of encountering Muslim forms of mourning and making peace was, I think, actually quite helpful in bringing some of us — some of us infidels, that is — to terms with an experience that seemed to resist explanation, that seemed in its own way utterly foreign.

(The Moustafas’ religious life was largely a private affair — one conducted in the privacy of their family home or outside of the neighborhood entirely, with fellow faithful in Greater Boston — and Sharif’s death was a notably rare moment where that veil was lifted.)

For my own part, inspired by the likes of “T.R.O.Y.,” which itself became endowed with new meaning in the wake of Sharif’s death, I wrote a “Song for Sharif,” an attempt to work/rap through some of the intense feelings I was having and witnessing, and though I actually recorded it and shared it with my friends and with the Moustafas (including his devout parents, who loved the Umm Kulthum sample and didn’t mind the additional blasphemy of sampling Koranic recitation), all of whom received it positively, today I find the recording a little too heart-on-sleeve to share more widely without embarrassment.

So allow me instead to offer a few lyrics that remain resonant (and perhaps work better on the page than in my cracking voice) —

How to persevere through this sudden shock of a loss?
Some cry, some wail, some chant their hum-du-Allahs
And some to a cross wanna grasp
How else to fathom the chasm left by a friend who’s passed?
So many questions to ask, so much left unsaid
Some people punish themselves, wish it were them instead
On new ground I tread: how to fill this void?
First time I find that emptiness could have such heaviness
I guess we just gotta remember the very best
Please rest in peace, my brother, you know you passed every test
Of friendship and family and everyday I plan to be
Reminded by the visual memory of the man I see
And when I cannot see, I’ll still hear your tune
You’re like a favorite song, that always ends too soon

Now, I’m not saying any of that’s profound or anything. The process of writing the song was much more about articulating the confusion and searching that followed our friend’s passing — and which, in retrospect, looks a lot like a stage of mourning, both for our friend and for ourselves. Along these lines, I was happy to run across the following quotation from Judith Butler over at Zunguzungu today; to my mind, it presents a poignant and helpful bit of thinking about mourning:

… Perhaps one mourns when one accepts that by the loss one undergoes one will be changed, possibly for ever…I do not think, for instance, that one can invoke the Protestant ethic when it comes to loss. One cannot say, “Oh, I’ll go through loss this way, and that will be the result, and I’ll apply myself to the task, and I’ll endeavor to achieve the resolution of grief that is before me.” I think one is hit by waves, and that one starts out the day with an aim, a project, a plan, and finds oneself foiled. One finds oneself fallen. One is exhausted but does not know why. Something is larger than one’s own deliberate plan, one’s own project, one’s own knowing and choosing…

On that note, May flowers anyone?

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March 17th, 2011

Tribal Greengo

I’m happy to announce, and not a moment too soon, that I’ve arranged some festive music for today.

When I put together my first St. Patrick’s Day mix some years ago, it was an obviously tongue-in-cheek gesture. You might recall that I began with House of Pain before bringing in the romping stomp of the Timelords’ (aka KLF’s) “Doctorin’ the Tardis” — a formula-breaking (if formula following!) ravetastic classic that seems to anticipate mashups and jock-jams alike.

Consistent with the track’s logic — and often in shuffle-step with its triple-time roll — I mushed together a bunch of iconic Irish jigs & ballads and (corn-)beefed them up with electronic dance propulsion. Not all the festive selections had the 6/8 swing that interlocked with the proto-shaffel Timelords track, so I teased it in and out of the mix. Here ’tis again:

wayne&wax, “doctorin’ the guinness” (9 min / 9 mb)

But that was then, and this is now.

Readers here are no doubt familiar with tribal guarachero, the Mexican techno mutation centered in Monterrey and DF, which has enjoyed an enthusiastic, international reception among DJs, listeners, and bloggers in the last year. You might also be aware that the genre’s distinctive rhythms happen to line up perfectly with some of these jiggy Irish jams. Or maybe that’s never occurred to you. Given this tempting correspondence, I decided to cook up a little tribal irlandese for El Día de San Patricio — or, if you’ll permit an irresistible but probably awful pun, tribal greengo.

Before I launch into the backstory, let me present the 2011 version for your St. Paddy’s party pleasure (some standalone tracks are available at the end of the post, FYI):

wayne&wax, “tribal greengo” (12 min / 27 mb)

You may have heard the story, recounted here, that the term gringo derives from 19th century pop songs sung by Yankee invaders that began with (and repeated in every chorus) the words “Green Grow,” a sound that became so associated with foreign presence, it became the name for it.

John Ross, the longtime resident of Mexico (City), American activist, and recently deceased author of the epic El Monstruo (which I’ve quoted here before), tells the tale of the “greengos” in a section of the book bearing the heading, PINCHES AMERICANOS. “Of all the invading armies,” writes Ross, and he recounts a great many in Mexico’s history, “the Yankees were the most annoying.”

The US had long coveted and sought to annex, as Ross carefully puts it, “the vast, sparsely populated (except for 200,000 native peoples) northern territories of Nueva Galicia that Mexico had inherited from Spain.” In the mid-1840s, the “expansionist” President Polk began taking action. As Ross explains, despite its association with another set of conquistadors, “greengo” was not always clearly an epithet:

With his headlights set on the 1848 election, Polk promised the American people a “short war” (where have we heard that one before?) and orchestrated a Gulf of Tonkin-like provocation at Matamoros, drawing Mexican troops across the Río Bravo where they managed to whack a few Americanos. Polk wept at the death of the Yanqui soldiers — “our blood has now fallen on our own soil” (sic) — and organized a five-point invasion of Mexico. The U.S. Navy sailed into San Francisco Bay, and Los Angeles was besieged by Kit Carson and his irregulars in Alta, California. Marines landed at Mazatlán on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Zachary Taylor would swoop south from Tejas, and grizzled old General Winfield Scott landed in Veracruz and followed Cortez’s footprints to the Halls of Moctezuma.

Starting out in the spring of 1847, General Scott directed his army to take Tenochtitlán, encountering, as expected, little resistance from the Mexicans. Indeed, like Cortez, Scott forged alliances with disaffected Mexicans along the route — the “Polkos” rejoiced in the Americano invasion. As the Yankee Doodle Dandies climbed into the antiplano (highlands), the sang the popular songs of the day, one of which, “Green Grow the Lilacs Oh,” became their signature tune, and forever they would be known as “greengos.” (71-2)

Whether affectionate or pejorative initially, the term survives today, and over the years I think it’s safe to say that it has taken on some real sting. (That gringos remain perennial invaders of Mexico can’t help.) And why shouldn’t it sting? What we in the US call the Mexican-American War is remembered in Mexico as “El Gran Despojo — the Great Robbery.” Here’s Ross again, taking stock of what was settled by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (signed on 2 feb 1848), which

ceded the Americanos all the land from the Río Bravo to Wyoming, 13 western states from Iowa all the way down to California where gold had just been discovered, 1,572,741 square kilometers, a land grab the size of western Europe and fully 51 percent of Mexico’s geographical territory. Mexico got nothing in return. (74)

The story of the “greengos,” regardless of its veracity, offers a provocative opening for a little musical project I’ve been plotting. The prominence of music in the term’s myth of origins is, of course, a nice touch — not to mention the color green. But the Irish-Mexican connection, and the significance of this story (and this war), is deeper than a colorful coincidence. Irish people have been living in Mexico for centuries. (Indeed, an image search for some fodder for this post turned up a small cottage industry around “Irish-Mexicans” — with or without injunctions to kiss one.)

Perhaps the best known Irish arrivals in Mexico are a group of soldiers who famously switched sides during the Mexican-American War. These notorious turncoats, a preponderance of whom were Irish, are known (fondly in Mexico) as St. Patrick’s Battalion, or El Batallón de San Patricio — national heroes of a sort, whose sacrifices (many were ultimately hanged as traitors) are celebrated every September 12 on the agreed-upon anniversary of their executions, as well as on March 17, today: the feast of Saint Patrick, patron saint of the Irish in general and this battalion in particular.

Many reasons are given for their extraordinary act: not merely deserting, but taking up arms for the other side. Like their European compatriots in the Batallón, Irish immigrants enlisted in the US army in exchange for pay and land, many having fled the Potato Famine. Mistreated at the hands of Protestant superiors, some soldiers found themselves more sympathetic to the cause of their Catholic brethren in Mexico. (Notably, Catholic churches in Texas were terrorized in the years of provocation that became the “run up” to the war.) Indeed, such sectarian appeals were allegedly part of a Mexican recruitment campaign. They fought bravely alongside Mexican militia members — sometimes a little too bravely: a few desperate San Patricios, refusing to surrender (for it was death on the battlefield or death by hanging, perhaps after a good lashing and branding), physically rescinded their comrades’ attempts to wave a white flag, even killing a couple Mexican soldiers in the process.

While reading up on the Battalion, I discovered a felicitous fact: they “first fought as a recognised Mexican unit in the Battle of Monterrey on 21 September 1846, as an artillery battery.”

Battle of Monterrey? Artillery battery? Sounds like 3ball to me!

The foregoing isn’t intended as an elaborate bit of cultural baggage to freight some frivolous mixing and mashing. I simply mean to share some of what goes through my head as I work on such a juxtaposition and reflect on what it means for someone like me to make something like this. Far as my relation to the San Patricios, it’s not all that clear to me that we’re not already embroiled in a war with Mexico (and one with a grossly disproportionate deathtoll), but if the US ever did formally declare war on our neighbors to the south, I’m pretty sure where my sympathies would lie.

Beyond the connections I trace above, and the shared rhythmic sensibilities of jiggy & guarachero shuffles, tribal irlandese cultivates other types of possibly productive symbolic ground too. For just as St. Patrick’s Day and Irish heritage more generally (at least in the US) have been blown up into cartoonish proportions (certainly a sickly green sometimes) — in a sort of auto-essentializing practice — tribal/3ball producers in Mexico frequently play with figures of “tribal” identity whether Aztec or African (and often both, as Jace notes in his excellent profile of the scene). I didn’t go so campy on this mix as with Doctorin’ the Guinness (which includes a version of “Danny Boy” for chrissakes) but I want to note that a certain kitsch factor is unavoidable given my points of departure.

Essentially, what I’ve slapped together here is a series of mashups, in both mini-mix and standalone form. I didn’t have a lot of time to work on these (and, at bottom, it’s still a novelty act — I don’t expect these to be listened to beyond mid-March, or just today), so I went looking for relatively easy correspondences, matches that didn’t demand too much pitching around, tempo tweaking, or super-precise attention to form (though, naturally, I’ve attended in some detail to all those things).

Given that these contain such large chunks of other people’s productions, let me give an extra big thanks to: on the Irish side, Column MacOireachtaigh & the Irish Ceili Band, the Dubliners, and Tommy Makem & the Clancy Brothers — from whom I’ve generally borrowed whole tunes; & on the Mexican side of things, from whom I’ve borrowed a mix of loops and partial tracks, Shark DJ, Erick Rincon, DJ Mouse, an uncredited producer (on an MP3 CD I bought in DF) who made an awesome track called “Raspale” that sounds like it samples Buju’s “Walk Like a Champion,” and, last but not least, a brief bit from 3ball ambassador Toy Selectah‘s new album (which is a major banger, btw).

If nothing else, mashups always offer a ripe opportunity for playing with titles. That said, I present to you: the mini-mix (again) & three standalones (y’know, just in case you’re DJing just the right gig tonight) —

W&W, “Tribal Greengo” (12 min / 27 mb)

W&W, “Watagataroscarbury” (2:00)
Column MacOireachtaigh’s “Roscarbury” + Shark DJ’s “Toca Toca” & “Tumbao”

W&W, “Scarce O’Tacos” (1:21)
Column MacOireachtaigh’s “Scarce O’Tatties” + Shark DJ’s “El Saxofon”

W&W, “Merrily Kissed the Guarachera” (2:46)
Column MacOireachtaigh’s “Morrison Merrily Kissed the Quaker” + Unknown, “Raspale” & DJ Mouse “La Noche Es Tribal”

I could have stuck to more percussive sections of the Mexican tracks, but I wanted to represent tribal bass and melody too, so I was glad when a needling guarachero synth melody seemed to dovetail with the pentatonic heterophony of the jigs and reels. I’m not saying these things ever really match up. There’s a fair amount of strange stuff going on here, harmonically speaking. Pardon any sour notes in your doctored Guinness! Generally, I hope I’ve been able to do the main things I wanted to: 1) let you hear these two musics alongside each other, and 2) give your St. Patrick’s Day just a little extra push in the tush.

If you’ll permit me one final dedication: to San Patricio, his Batallón, and leprechaun-like dancing shoes!

Oh, and here’s a video of the mix as assembled with Ableton, just in case you’re curious as to what’s what and how I’ve chopped things up —

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January 4th, 2011

Prides & Joys of Yesteryear

All right, enough already with the sad-sacky bald-faced new year’s greetings; instead, here are some pictorial highlights from the latter part of 2010, in reverse order to prevent early-onset SAD


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January 3rd, 2011

What Will I Write On My Face This Year? What Will I Wear?


look, ma, no beard

here’s to more joy than oy —

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December 21st, 2010

Screw Remix-mas

Well, five years on and I’ve still yet to produce a follow-up to my woozy take on Xmas music. But since this appears to be the year when the world, ironically, finally caught up to screw, here’s ye olde Remix-mas pitched down a few —

w&w, remix-mas (screwed) 43 min / 99 mb

Tis the season for giving and screwing — so go grab yourself some more molasses for the mind over at DuttyArtz c/o Wordthecat.

And if you’re really in the mood, Gavin’s annual effort never fails to disappoint.


may your holidaze be sweet and slow–

minor molasses disasters

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August 9th, 2010

Midsummer Famlee Vacation: Sandpile 2010

famlee vacation
charlie naps
ducks in a row
charlie in motion
tim & drink & setting sun
the sweeter the juice
funky caterpillar
buncha blueberries
charlie turns
self-portrait in seaside sun
nico looks down from the deck
my 3 gals, sorta serious
sunset w/ hefeweizen
warm green glow
nico chomps another apple
fresh picked berries in a bowl
charlie screening #
dad & daughter catch some z's
pretty pink drink
green beans
btwn the sky and the algae
sandcastle drumming
some beach plant, edge of the dune, quite closeup
beachy grassy sky
charlie radish
charlie hurdle
drink done, sun almost
sunset on one side
amazing rolling clouds
making pretend
whap'm, buoy
baby horseshoe
sandcastle closeup #
How To Wreck a Nice Beach
another lovely #
wonderful watermelon cocktails
yet another #
sunset over sandpile

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July 13th, 2010

Cow and Then

nico & cows


July 2nd, 2010

Mix, A Lot — Summertime Edition

cambridge peoples

Despite that the majority of what I listen to takes the form of DJ mixes, and that I probably download something around 3 per day, and that I probably like a good third-to-half of what I DL, I rarely find the time to write about all this great stuff I’m listening to. So aside from when I occasionally find myself with the impulse to tweet what I’m DLing, there’s this very occasional mix-a-lot series.

Given that this weekend offers many opportunities for road-trippin and cold-chillin — both of which go great with “mixtapes” — I thought I would take the moment to throw some mixxage your way. Included below are some recent rinses and oldies-but-goodies. Pardon the bullet points, but bang for your buck.

  • You can thank @pm_jawn for helping roll this ball down the hill yesterday with a request for “beach/driving/bbq music for the long weekend” — and of course one could go many ways with that range of related settings, them summery vibes. First thing that came to mind, though, were two beautiful African mixes that always find their way back on my device this time of year: Fatmix by Melonhands, and Slow Music from West Africa by Brian’s friend Simon.
  • Other recs for Alexis served to affirm my love for the sweet-and-sour dance-pop romps of Rich FourFour, one of the foremost interpreters of television reality today, the man for whom Jersey Shore would have to be invented if it didn’t already exist. His latest, No Enigma — “so named,” he writes, “because I could not bring myself to include anything from the weird drum-machine druids that helped define the sound I’m exploring here” — is a straight shot of adoiescent awesome (for me anyway). The mixing itself is not always pitch perfect — the first segue, from “Keep on Moving” to “Don’t Make Me Over,” two songs I adore, is, as Randy would say, “a lil pitchy, dawg” — but so are many of the tracks included, so it seems kind of apt. Also worth your time/drivespace are his New Jack Swing mix, his Freesytle freakout, and the one weh name Radio Dance 90s (I was a big fan of Kwamé — and those fckn polkadots — back in the day).
  • Summer always feels especially welcoming of that ol’ boom-bap bump. Maybe it’s the warmth letting the neck snap a lil easier. Anyway, it gives me another good excuse to return to a mix I’ve been digging for some time and haven’t had a proper chance to big up: the dense and definitive, despite the title’s humilty, “A Boom Bap Continuum” (note the indefinite article). Presented late last year by 2tall, Kper, and DJ Clockwork (including some great cassette-culture artwork), the mix traces out the state of the art in head-nodding hip-hop beats over the course of the last decade, with some tasteful connections/digressions into grime and ultimately more recent efforts in wonky leftfield abstrakt beats (but always with a good sense of snap). The pacing is amazing, reminiscent of another great hip-hop mix that works as summer soundtrack, Bobby Corridor’s Hip Hop Megamix. Most audibly, for me, it traces the wide and deep influence of the late great J Dilla, which, while we’re on the topic, I can’t help but recommend — despite them being a dime-a-dozen — a stellar, gorgeous Jay Dee mix by Deniz Kurtel for Wolf + Lamb (which, while on the topic of W+L, & even if I’ve mentioned it before, this mix by W+L artist Nico Jaar is still basically unfuckwitable at times like these). Also, if you dig Boom Bap Continuum, you might also like Kper’s/Laurent’s tributes to Digital Mystics & Loefah or what he calls post-rave bastard child music.
  • While we’re at a hip-hop angle, let me just make sure that you’ve heard DJ Primier’s mix-eulogies to Guru and Malcolm McLaren (you’ll have to scrounge around a bit for mobile versions of those). See also, Das Racist‘s inspired, hilarious mixtape from this spring, Shut Up, Dude (which is maybe topical again b/c Pfork finally got around to reviewing it? nah, this is just late notice — no worries, tho, they’re hard at work on a next one!). And if we’re riding for hip-hop straight-up, I gotta recommend, if you’re not already well familiar, the Rub’s History of Hip-hop mixes, which they’re rolling out one for every year, now spanning 1979 to 2004, with the last couple arriving just in the last week.
  • It kind of goes without saying that a large part of my phone’s gigs are occupied by the regular flow of amazing, future-present mixes coming from what I think of as the extended Night Slugs family, a bunch of great DJs on resonant wavelengths: Bok Bok, L-Vis, Kingdom, Girl Unit, Manara, Ikonika, Nguzunguzu, etc. I’m sorry to say that I can’t be bothered right now to go back collecting links for all these fine folks and their recent output (ok, here’s one), but a little googling will get you a long way. Better yet: follow them all on Twitter (see the links back there) for breaking news about the latest greatest.
  • Or maybe you’re in the mood for a globe-trotting exploration of the sound of house with Crooked Clef as your guide? How about a little Panama Doaba, aka MPC & Korg assisted “hiphop remezclas of Panamanian calypso, funk and cumbia from the 1960s & 70s” cooked up by the Gnawledge crew? Or perhaps a double shot of bubble’n’juke c/o Massacooramaan aka the driven, dynamic, and downright dope Dave Quam, who’s been grinding out one of the best music blogs out there and with whom I’m conspiring to kickstart a bubbling book.
  • I want to end, tho, by nodding to some mixes that knocked socks off well before the internet began belching them out at a rate that would humble an Icelandic volcano. I’m talking about the mighty Poirier’s Grimey Land, recorded on a request from Mary Anne Hobbs back in 2007 and recently re-upped for your listening pleasure. A half-hour of blistering African hip-hop (or “crunk and grime” in GP’s words), I quite agree with him when he says that “The tracks in the mix still sounds fresh!” That said, I confess that I remain more partial to his earlier effort in the same vein, originally dropped on his MYSPACE BLOG in Jan 07 (whatwhat?!), Mix Afrique, which is a little scarce on the webs these days thanks to some (c) disputes, but see what you can scare up if curious.

Pardon — and thanks! — to all the mix-makers out there that I’m unable to big-up right this very moment. Plz keep on!!

(& if anyone has anything to add, by all means…)

Happy long weekend & happy summer!

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April 12th, 2010

One Happy Year of Charlie

charlie in red

I’m a little late announcing this on the blog, but at the end of March our little Charlie turned one!

It’s amazing how fast and how slow that year went by. Time does funny things with kids (or vice versa?). At any rate, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have Charlie in our lives. She’s just about the awesomest, as can be glimpsed but hardly contained in some recent snaps

charlie mustard

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I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com


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