And then they added "In Europe." What's the point of that? Isn't Al Qaeda already an international terror network, supposedly? It makes me think that there was already a group called "The Secret Organization of Al Qaeda" but that group wouldn't let these guys join it. Then these doofuses couldn't think of any better name for their group. "How about The More Secreter Organization of Al Qaeda? No. The Secret Organization of Al Qaeda, Part 2? No." It's like they're Al Qaeda's minor league team. These guys are the Pawtucket Red Sox.
It all adds up to a ridiculously unwieldy name. The name of your terrorist group really shouldn't be longer than many sentences. What if you were in this stupid-ass group, trying to do some hit-and-run tactics or something, and you tried to yell out what group you were in? You'd get shot by the 10th syllable. "Long live the Secret Organiza-" blam blam!
I would understand if their name spelled out a scary "Get Smart"-style acronym, like CONTROL or KAOS or UNCLE, but it doesn't. It spells SOOAQIE. "Oh no! It's Soo-acky!" What happened to good old terrorist group names, like the Fists of Righteous Harmony, the Shining Path, and the Black Hand? Even the Red Army Faction is a little scary sounding. You can't just put "Al Qaida" in your name and think your name is frightening. "We're the American Al Qaida Super Explosion Mean Guy Brigade of America! Watch out!"
But never having heard Q and Not U's music, I was pretty pleased. They're kind of herky-jerky dissonant funky dance rock, I guess, with lots of handclaps and what not, and the crowd was pretty into them, which makes sense, because they are pretty famous among the hip folks in DC. People "in the know" say their first album was great and they've been so-so since then, but I wouldn't know. I enjoyed the first few songs a lot, and they're pretty entertaining in concert, with some falsetto vocals and lots of various knobtwiddling on guitars and keyboards. The lead singer is pretty obnoxious, but in a good way, and he also seemed kind of reverent or something, I guess because the band is breaking up after a couple shows in September. They make a lot of racket for just three guys, which is cool. The bass sounds cool as well, they were getting crazy and it was really clear. So it was fun. The opening band, Son of Nun, was like a multicultural rap group (or maybe just the rapper was Son of Nun, and he had a band.) There were white guys playing african drums, an Indian guy in traditional garb on the keyboards and other things, and so on, and they were pretty decent. Pretty political, and when the guy said "this song is about the war in Iraq from an Iraqi militant's point of view" I was pretty worried it was going to be terrible, but it was not half bad. So in short, it was fun. I hope Ted Leo plays there, since last time I checked there was an open date. I'm not counting on it though.
Here's a couple other sites about the bands:
another Q and Not U page
them on Myspace. I like Wonderful People especially, which I heard on college radio in Knoxville awhile ago and had no idea what it was. I wrote down "running running song."
Son of Nun
There was a decent crowd, maybe 10 kids who seemed to know something and 10 or 20 curious bystanders, as well as about 10 cops lingering nearby. Some of the kids were talkative and chatting with random folks, some of who, like me, were asking questions about Borf, some seemed to be debating a little bit with the kids, and some who'd never heard of Borf. so I asked a couple bystanders what was going on, then talked to a few of the knowledgeable-seeming kids. The kids all seemed like 18-22 year old hip art student types, and they were friendly but a bit reluctant to answer my questions, which I guess I can understand. The ones I talked to said they were Borf, I was Borf, and everybody was Borf, and didn't really answer my questions, such as "who was the person that was arrested?" and "who is the face in the stencil?" they'd usually say "I don't know," or along the lines of "it's an ongoing case so I don't want to say." I asked one of the kids what Borf was, and he said "it's a feeling," and I replied, "more than a feeling," like the Boston song, so maybe he thought I was making fun of him. But they encouraged me to take some spray paint, which I declined, but I did draw some with chalk they had provided, a little cloud, and later when some people walked on it, I said "hey hey, you you, get off of my cloud." I actually didn't, but I thought it.
There was a lot of brochures and things piled up as well, like some anarchist stuff, which I avoided, and some things about graffiti, which were the ones I took. Some of them have sensible advice, like bring a lookout and don't be conspicuously radical-looking, but one is pretty funny, it's called "Give Graffiti the Thumbs Up," and is written like a cheesy sales brochure, with topics like "How can I get graffiti artists to beautify my property?" and "I have noticed that when the lighting around my property is bright at night graffiti writers don't around much. Why is this?"
But despite the pro-graffiti message, I wasn't too sure these kids were really Borf and not just pulling everybody's leg or copycats. The kids seemed knowledgable and all, talking about wanting to do graffiti to take back their environment, but it wasn't until I saw some of the kids draw with the chalk that I thought they were probably telling the truth, as a lof of the things looked like various Borfs I'd seen, such as the bubble letters: . And they didn't say anything bad about the arrested guy (John Tsombikos), so I figured he must have been part of their crew, or at least not just some person claiming to be Borf. Though my theory is that he's one of the main guys. So I hung around a bit more, taking a few more webcam pics and listening in on various conversations. Gradually a few policemen came over and chatted with the Borf kids, apparently about the stuff they were drawing with chalk, like people, various BORFs, some animals and things, nothing crazy or offensive, and both sides seemed pretty laid back and respectful, which was good. Then I got a green tea frappuccino at Starbucks, which was tasty but probably negated any healtful effects of the green tea.
Below are a few more various pictures:
"Tomorrow, Saturday July 23rd
MEET BORF at Dupont Circle
Meet at 4pm in Dupont Circle for a celebration and discussion of
public art, graffiti and vandalism. There will be sidewalk chalk,
stencil cutting materials, free spray paint, hopscotch, handstands,
millions of dollars, and the first in a series of communiques from
Borf. Borf is not caught. Come tomorrow so we can talk about what all
this shit means."
Pretty odd. I wish I could go. There was also a really funny cartoon in the City Paper by Ben Claassen III, who does the funny drawrings in there.
Then I noticed something else odd - it was the "dead ball era" or something, players didn't hit a lot of home runs for various reasons - the ball, huge fields, etc. It was not uncommon to get 2 home runs and 80 rbis. So Cap Anson hit from 0-2 home runs every year from 1871 - 1883 (mostly 0, only 2 once) and then in 1884, he hit 21. The league leader, Ned Williamson, hit 27, but only 2 the year before, and so on down the top 5 home run hitters. I wonder if they changed the rules or something. The next year, everybody was back down, and the league leader hit 11 homers. And a quick Google search finds a Wikipedia article saying that his home field had a very close fence, and that balls hit over it usually counted as ground rule doubles, but in 1884, for some reason, they counted as homers. The top 4 home run hitters that year were also White Stockings, with the fifth place hitter pretty far from them. So there you go.
But anyway, I went with a Rockies fan from Denver, and we got pretty good seats from some kids, they had $40 club level seats and we bargained them to $15. Well, we just walked away when they offered $25 each and said we were getting $15 seats, so they said ok, $15. They told us to follow them up, so I was a little worried they'd take off running once they got in the gate and we'd have fake tickets. But we made it in, and went up to a place with a door and an usher, then went into this nice office-type room, which we figured this was probably a good sign. It was sort of a weird place though, the seats were pretty low (the same height as the press boxes and luxury boxes and such) but so was the ceiling, and there was no circulation or breeze so it was really hot. And whenever a ball was hit high, we couldn't see it, because the other seats were overhanging. I was fine sitting there for $15, and we moved to under a fan, which helped, but I can see why big wigs might not want to pay money for those seats. But the game was good, the Nats held the Rocks' usually anemic bats to 3 hits, only two off the starter, John Patterson, who went into the ninth inning. A good game, but we also didn't get to see the fireworks, since they were up in the air.
I guess you can describe VHS or Beta's sound as dance rock, of if you want to be clever, Robert Smith fronting Daft Punk (versions of which lots of reviews say.) But both are pretty accurate descriptions, they at times have some cool Daft Punkish beats like, and the lead singer sounds a lot like Robert Smith of the Cure, but they're clearly just influenced by them, as they don't sound like they're ripping either band off. A lot of the songs build at the beginning and then break, and most are pretty long but dance trance-inducing. The bass sounds great, and the drummer is really impressive and precide as well, even live he sounds like he could be a drum machine. But an awesome one. Their website has a lot of really good quality sound clips.
The opening act, however, was pretty bizarre. It was Edie Sedgwick, which sounded familiar to me. I looked her up, and apparently she was an actress in a lot of Andy Warhol movies. But the musical act of the same name is a guy in a Warhol wig and a shiny grey dress, half singing and half rapping to some beats. Some of the beats were pretty cool and sounded like the Faint, but the performance as a whole was pretty strange. He'd make a lot of weird statements from the stage, and the music was sort of inspirational maybe? It's hard to say really. He was pretty entertaining though, especially his between song rants, like complaining about the Department of Homeland Security, reading a passage from Bill Clinton's "My Life," and listing off a bunch of acronyms, ending with "the most important - HJO! Meaning Haley Joel Osment." Then a big morphing photo of Haley Joel Osment came on the video screen he was using. It seemed a lot more like performance art than a show (which I guess is the idea), but it was obvious the crowd wasn't into it, and I think he cut his performance short. He showed a lot of other random stuff from TV and movies on the screen, like old commercials and montages from various Arnold Schwarzeneggar movies. Weird stuff.
so it looks like Borf was arrested, which I think is too bad. Apparently he's an 18 year old from Great Falls, although the Post article doesn't say if that's Great Falls, Maryland or Virginia - dum-dums. And in further shoddy journalism in the piece, the MPD spokesperson says "Citizens are ecstatic about him being caught." What citizens? I'm not ecstatic. I liked Borf's stuff, it was usally funny, clever or impressive, like the huge face on the route 50 sign in Virginia. This story screams for people's reactions, both because it would interesting, and because you shouldn't always take statements like that as facts. DCist has a post on it as well, with the usual battles in the comments section. (Posted is my most recent Borf sighting, as well as some highlights from Flickr)
Originally uploaded by djscram.
Originally uploaded by storker.
Borf on the Bridge
Originally uploaded by barkingmoos.
(update, 5 minutes later:)
Actually, this is getting funny now. Half the people are writing "AARGH QUIT IT GOD DAMNIT!!!" and the other half are amused, such as "I'm dying! this is the funniest thing i've ever read. thanks new friends!" I think people are going to start typing random off-topic stuff soon. Luckily it's started going to my spam filter.
But on a lighter side, I think it'd be funny if somebody dyed their hair the color of the terror watch level, orange, yellow, green, etc. It would be an amusing art project, sort of saying the terror watch level is a silly way of doing things, while at the same time making it omnipresent. If only I didn't have a job.
Most bands played 2 or 3 songs, though some played more, I guess if they were getting broadcast to other places or on TV. I know Dave Matthews (who everyone called Dave, "oh, what is Dave going to play next?" which annoys me) played a bunch, maybe 5 or 6. Alicia Keys only played one song I think, but that's fine by me, I could do without. And as I thought, part of Jay-Z's set got ruined by Linkin Park, with that doofus lead singer rapping half of Jay-Z's songs, and the band playing their shitty rock instead of Jay-Z's good beats. We missed the Kaiser Chiefs and Ludacris (although I haven't been able to find anything that said Ludacris actually played), which sucks, and also sucks because they weren't on the schedule I got from www.live8.us. If they had been on there, we might have tried to get there earlier. Then again, my roommate and I are lazy dudes, me especially. And we missed Bon Jovi and Destiny's Child, but oh well, no big loss there. I read the Black Eyed Peas did a Bob Marley song with Marley's widow Rita, which would have been cool, but we missed that one too.
Kanye West was on when we walked in, and he played "Jesus Walks," which was cool. Apparently he said something about AIDS being created to kill Africans and the CIA brought in crack to destroy the Black Panther party, but I didn't hear any of that. I mean, I've heard that before, but I think it's pretty dumb to say at a big concert like this.
They also beamed in a few performances from other cities, like Madonna, REM, Coldplay, and U2. I especially liked the REM one, "Everybody Hurts," even if Michael Stipe was wearing some kind of weird Boy George makeup. The song was a good tie-in with the theme of the show though, which most bands didn't seem to do. And I could have gone for more indie rock, but oh well.
Most of the performers did mention some things about poverty and the G8, which was good, and there were videos between the sets about it, some of which were pretty moving. There were also various stars, Chris Tucker, Richard Gere (who made a good little speech), Don Cheadle, Jennifer Connelly, Natalie Portman and Jimmy Smits, who'd come on stage and talk about world poverty. I don't know if the concert really accomplished much, but I suppose it couldn't have hurt. Some people were bound to know more about it after the show, though I don't know if they'll do anything about it.
The show itself was pretty well organized, though they definitely could have used more trash cans, there was garbage everywhere. There were tents with free water, which was good, and some food stands around, though I mostly avoided them. I did but a $5 fruit smoothie, which was ok, but a little small. There were lots of port-a-johns, which was good, and they had jumbotrons around so everybody could see and hear the show. And there were also a lot of "entrepreneurs" with obviously ironed-on shirts and CD-Rs and things of the bands. But hey, can't fault them for trying. And there weren't too many activists once we got far into the show, which was too bad. At the outskirts there were lots of folks from the ONE group and various other anti-poverty groups signing people up and handing out literature about the G8 and so on. But thankfully I didn't see too many off-topic groups, besides the ever-present Larouche nuts. We parked in Chinatown and avoided the crowds that way. And after the show we ate at the Sang Kee Duck House in Chinatown, which is cheap and good. My other friend Adam recommended it. There were lots of other Live 8 attendees there, including these annoying Southern girls with a really loud-talking dude. They had a funny exchange:
Southern girl 1: "I'm a morning person, I get out of bed as soon as the sun is up!"
Girl 2: "I'm a night person, I stay up late."
Girl 3: "I'm an all day person."
Then they talked about something else.
I guess that means she is awake sometime during the day. Pretty dumb.
Here's everyone I did see, in rough order
Kanye West - pretty good
Will Smith - fun, did "Fresh Prince" theme song, "Summertime," but no "Parents Just Don't Understand"
Dave Matthews - he was ok
Keith Urban - eh
Alicia Keys - short, nothing special
Sarah MacLachlan - didn't recognize her songs, but pretty good
Josh Groban - played with Sarah Maclachlan, see her comments
Def Leppard - pretty good. They played a good cover of Badfinger's "No Matter What", which I enjoyed, and "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
Jay-Z - good, until Linkin Park came on. He did lots of good ones, "Big Pimpin," "99 Problems," etc
Linkin Park - don't like them, and I wish they weren't with Jay-Z, but they were good performers
Maroon 5 - also pretty good performers. The lead singer would yell "yeah!" but his voice was so high that it sounded like a squeaky 5 year old or a yappy little dog. It was ridiculous. But they played "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World," which sounded good and fit the mood too
Toby Keith - eh. didn't play the "America is gonna kick your ass" song, or whatever, so that was nice
Rob Thomas - actually pretty good
Stevie Wonder - very good, played "Superstition," "Higher Ground," etc. I didn't know the funky bits were played on a keyboard and not a guitar or bass. I guess it makes sense though, since he's a keyboard player. Rob Thomas and Adam Levine from Maroon 5 joined him on stage for songs, which was surprisingly not annoying. They're both pretty good singers and did the songs justice.
There's more photos here, here, news and photos from the Philadelphia Inquirer here, and some news from MTV with more photos here
I'll post some of my own photos whenever the Blogger Images thing starts working.
Some funny fake pages from kids' books. Not too safe for work.
"Hammerspace," where cartoon characters and video game people pull stuff out of thin air from.
And lastly, I had some Presidente beer the other day. It was surprisingly good. It's from the Dominican Republic, and I assumed it was going to be like most other Central American beers, a plain, bland, lager. However, Presidente is a tasty pilsner, along the lines of Pilsner Urquell, Eggenberg, or Jever. It's not as good as those, but it's cheaper and tasty. I recommend it.
And it's got good ratings from beer sites: here and here.