Saturday, May 28, 2005

Black Eyed Peas stole from R.D. Burman in latest hit

First rule of Bollywood: Never ever cross Amitabh Bachchan.

In 1970’s spy-movie time, Bachchan shined in his role as Don, in the movie of the same name. Don is the badass smuggler who kills anyone who messes with him. He isn’t distracted by money or sexy vamps who throw themselves at him. He says “some other time baby!” And is off.

Everyone knows this rule. That is, everyone besides the Black Eyes Peas.

Earlier this week I stayed late after school after all the students and most of the teachers left. It was just me and some janitors blaring hip-hop on the stereo as they mopped the floors. All of a sudden I heard the beginning few notes of “Yeh Mera Dil Payar Ka Diwana” and thought “are they really playing R.D. Burman on Q102 (a fucking Clear Channel station)?”

Then instead of Asha Bhosle’s voice coming in, I hear Fergie singing “Oh no no no no, don’t mess with my heart.” I was outraged. I’m mad that “Don’t Phunk with my heart” is the 2nd highest download on iTunes now and I can guarantee the majority of people listening to the track think that its some hot original work…. When its totally not. Could it be anymore repetitive? Most people will tell you how great this album is and how the BEP are so "original" and “edgy” with their genre bending sound. Yes it’s true that music recycles itself, but I think it is unfair for artists to make money and not give credit to the original. And in a place like India, which has no concept of intellectual property (or doesn’t have laws to protect artistic work like in the States) it is easy to steal. And since most people who listen to current Top 40 don’t also listen to Bollywood music from the 70’s it is easy for artists to get away with sounding original and not recycled.

So I want to write a post to pay homage to the original song, Yeh Mera Dil Payar Ka Diwana, sung by Asha Bhosle (lip synced by actress Helen) and produced by her husband, the late R.D. Burman (hope you aren’t turning in your grave dude) exclusively for the 1978 movie Don.

You can hear the lame, yet popular, “Don’t Phunk with my Heart” on iTunes or played every hour on any cheesy Top 40 station. (But first, listen to the original, Hindi version that the BEP bit off of.)

In Don, Bachchan plays a Dirty Harry, Shaft-like cool dude smuggler who has men trying to catch him from all angles. Don is killed within the first quarter of the movie (the cops don’t know this). But, what the cops ALSO don’t know is that Don has a look alike. Some unsuspecting, goofball street performer. Sure the story line is cheesy, but I think it is one of Amitabh’s most complex roles. He MAKES the movie. You know what also makes the movie? The music. And the fact that some corny, gimmicky hip-pop group stole it saddens me. At least when Dan the Automator sampled from old Bollywood tracks in Bombay The Hard Way: Guns, Cars And Sitars, he does it with class and more importantly, he gives credit. He isn’t trying to “hide” the fact that he swiped the music.

In the scene leading up to the song, Helen tries to seduce Don by getting into a skimpy white outfit and singing “Yeh Mera Dil Payar Ka Diwana” which loosely translated, means “My heart is maddened with love.” But is Don impressed? No.

And either am I (with the Black Eyed Peas.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

New Gorillaz album nothing to go ape shit over

Why does is seem like every single music critic is jerking off to Demon Days?

I mean its above average when you compare it to other albums that have been released in recent months, but its definitely not a classic (I wouldn't even call it a solid album) and kind of a disappointment after the first album. But if you are a procrastinator like me, than its worth buying for the fun extra features on the CD.

All in all, the creative packaging and marketing doesn't make up for an inferior album. It won't make you want to lock yourself up in your house, playing Donkey Kong and listening to "Double Bass" on repeat like the first album will.

It makes you wonder why they put this quote on the first page of the free comic book that comes with the album....

"Every great band is destroyed by their success..."

The Ringman

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Last night I had a dream so odd

Last night I had a dream so odd that I felt that I must share.

I was sitting on a rooftop recently with an old man, like Isaiah, but it wasn’t Isaiah. We were talking and the sounds of traffic way down below were slowing down, becoming more sporadic. It sounded like:

“Beep” (a small polite car)…. “HOOOOONK!” (a driver pissed off at a bike messenger)

[high-pitched] “Hey! Look at me!” (a brat screaming at her nanny at Rittenhouse Square)

[fast-paced, Valley-girl like] “I put on this lotion, feel it. Can you smell it? Its smells like lilies.” (two girls walking out of Bath and Body Works)

“Hmmmmphhhhf” (a SEPTA bus hitting the break)

Maybe the sun was starting to set too…. I don’t really remember.

For some reason, there was a scarecrow on the roof. And it was made out of jute and wicker baskets. Like you know how in the suburbs they have those “ducks on a stick” that people put in their gardens? And their feathers spin around when it gets windy? Well, it was like that…. with arms capable of spinning around…. But instead of arms, the scarecrow had wicker baskets to catch things. It was twice the size of me….. the size of those puppets you see at protests. The hand baskets were coated with dry leaves and old newspapers mostly…. I guess valuable stuff didn’t fly up there.

So I was talking to this old man…. I don’t know about what, I just remember the way he smelled. He didn’t have that old man smell…. More like the smell of someone who worked hard. Anyway, it got windy all of a sudden and the scarecrow started going ape shit….. its arms spun around like an old Brit at a punk show. When it slowed down we saw that it caught a little bottle in its hand basket. It was a tiny black bottle with dust all over it and a fading white label. I was glad it didn’t hit me in the head, but the old man wanted to see it.

He opened the hotel-fridge-sized bottle and took a whiff of it. I remember feeling disgusted. He didn’t know where it came from.

He leaned back, closed his eyes and went “ahhhhhh”

I went “Ew, throw that away. Why are you touching that?”

“Its whiskey” he said.

“But you don’t know where it came from. If you want a drink, I will buy you a drink” I said.

I don’t think he heard me. He put the dusty bottle to his lips and leaned his head back and took a sip.

“Ahhhhh!” he screamed. His eyes weren’t closed anymore. His scream echoed.

“Are you OK?”

He flashed his teeth and said “You gotta try this.” I stepped back and curved my posture. “Its fucking New Deal whiskey girl!” I gripped the edge of the building with my fingers. “Somebody was saving this bottle for something real special. “ He held the bottle up to the sky to examine it in the last glow of natural light. “Person who bought it probably died. Too bad he didn’t get to enjoy it. We gotta do it for that guy. We gotta celebrate on his behalf, it would be a shame if someone threw this down the drain. Damn, sure am glad this didn’t fall into the wrong hands.”

I apprehensively took the bottle into one hand and examined it. “Probably saving it since the 1930’s” I heard him say as background noise. It smelled horrible.

One drop got on my tongue and burned it. “That’s the way you do it girl. You’re drinking history baby, HISTORY!” He was worse than a frat boy screaming “chug chug.” My adrenaline was rushing so I decided to close my eyes and chug the whole thing. “You show ‘em baby. You show ‘em. Nobody can control you! That's the way you say fuck you to the American government.”

It was an adrenaline orgasm.

I fell on my back and opened my eyes. Bad idea. You know how it’s easy to deny you are drunk when you aren’t standing up or have your eyes open? The sky was spinning and the clouds were on fire. The old man was laughing in the background. It all seemed so so real.

Then I woke up.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nature shots

I spent a few hours in the burbs.... maybe a move won't be THAT bad. Sure, there might be less "culture" but there is more nature.... so that's good. Here are some of my favorite shots from the day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

25 years after Ian’s death

I wasn’t one-year-old yet when Ian Curtis hanged himself. Now, I’m not gonna act like an expert…. or even a fan (I don’t own any Joy Division albums) but because Ian’s lyrics intimately reached the masses, I want to write a post to honor his 25th death anniversary.

I heard at least 4 different bands covering “Love will tear us apart” years before I heard the original, and I know many people agree that other bands covering it (New Order and The Cure come to mind) surpass the original, but a part of me believes that Ian was holding back.

Maybe New Order put more emotion in it because SOMEONE ELSE wrote it, therefore singing it with tons of emotion won’t make it seem totally autobiographical. Autobiographies make you naked and vulnerable. But when Ian sang it, he was robotic and removed. If you listen closely, he sounds like a lounge singer wearing a tux and snapping his fingers like Tony Bennett. My theory is that he sang hokily on purpose because that made it seem like he was singing about someone else’s problem.

But I think the tragic thing about Ian’s suicide is that many of us share his same paranoia. Thinking that the whole world is more interested in watching us break down than listening to what we have to say. Thinking that falling flat on your face is entertainment for others. Unfortunately for Ian, this paranoia led him to take his own life.

I have two people close to me who, like Ian did, suffer from epilepsy. Therefore, someone like Ian is important to listen to, because what I learned is that epileptics have a tendency to tell strangers things that they don't tell their closest friends and family. Listening to his lyrics helped me to better understand them.

I remember one hot, sweaty, summer day I was at a zine festival and sort of on a first date. There were people at tables promoting zines everywhere and bands playing loudly on stage. I walked past tables trying to find this guy and when we finally met eyes, this punk band took the stage and very loudly played… what else? Love will tear us apart. We looked at each other and smiled as the singer angrily screamed the lyrics and the bass and drums made the zines jump on the tables. When moments like that happen in movies, they have songs like “Why do birds suddenly appear?” in the background. The whole scene was ironic. A part of me saw it as a bad sign, even a prophecy, but I kept that to myself.

Oh, going back to covers…. I think bands really need to stop covering this song. Why is there a shitty version of this song in every genre now? Come on now, take a break you are killing it. DJs, you too…. we don’t need any more remixes.

So I just realized this post was supposed to be about Ian and his suicide, but it ended up being all about one song. So one more comment about suicide before I sign off…

Suicide is not funny (unless you are this bunny.)

Bye bye!


When the routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
And the resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways,
Taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again

Why is the bedroom so cold
Turned away on your side?
Is my timing that flawed,
Our respect run so dry?
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives
Love, love will tear us apart again

Do you cry out in your sleep
All my failings expose?
Get a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold
Is it something so good
Just can’t function no more?
When love, love will tear us apart again

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Bengali quiz

This is for all you out-of-town folks who don't have Quizzo in your towns....

Some of you may know that I had to host a quiz show this weekend. I included a sample of some of the questions here so y'all can test yourselves too.

Take the Bengali quiz and then Check out the Scoreboard!

(Feel free to post how you did..... I want to know if I made the questions too hard/easy)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Excuse me, there is a finger in my chilli

RE: Finger in chilli

Dear Wendy's customer,

We have received your complaint regarding the piece of finger in your chilli. Here at Wendy's we take customer complaints very seriously. But first, I need some information from you.

1) Did the finger have a nail on it?

2) Was it a nail-polished finger? Possibly a woman's finger? (Damn Affirmative Action!)

3) Did the finger appear to be darker in color? Was it possibly an Arab or African finger? (If so, please contact the FBI and INS)

4) Which store location did the incident happen in? (Please say San Jose or some southern U.S. border..... those illegal border crossers wouldn't sue over an industrial accident)

5) Did you order the Atkin's-friendly chilli? I mean, you WANTED extra protein and fewer carbs, right? (Whachya complainin' about?)

We wouldn't want to lose a loyal, paying customer to our fine eating establishment so we would like you offer you a reward for being such a brave sport and for not telling your friends, lawyers or the media.....

Hell, I'm feeling nice, how about a free Jr. Frosty to EVERYONE in America this weekend? Absolutely free. No coupon needed. No purchase necessary. Just come in and say "Free Frosty" Friday May 13th through Sunday May 15th.

So why don't you quit complaining, and get to a participating Wendy's now? Then you can sit back and relax like me, with your high-calorie, ice-cold chocolaty refreshment in hand. Ahhh, what a better way to spend a hot summer day? ....... Wait, I'm choking on something..... somethings stuck (pulling out a small curly piece of hair covered in Frosty from teeth.) There, its out (I TOLD those employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom.)

Anyways, thank you for writing. Now if you'll excuse me.... the Spice Channel isn't gonna watch itself.

Wendy's Customer Services Department

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Another friend lost to Reality TV

I was searching the internet today and to my surprise I find an old buddy on Missy Elliott's new UPN show. I have three friends who ended up on Reality TV. For some, it will be the biggest thing in their lives.... but for others it will be just a small milestone.

First, there was Ellen Cho. We met in an airport in Chicago. I was a sophomore and she was a junior in college.... we were headed to Seattle for our summer internships. When I saw her Asian American Journalists Association bag, I went up to her and started saying "Hey, are you going to.....?"

"Seattle? For that minority journalism students' boot camp?! Yes!!" she enthusiastically finished my sentence.... and proceeded to drag me through the airport like a new best friend..... or a puppy. Whatever. I don't think I've ever met anyone like her..... she was the "Alpha-est" female I ever met. This is what I remember of Ellen.... once we got to Seattle, while the rest of the interns and I slept till the last possible minute at our University of Washington dorms (which are beautiful) .... Ellen got up at 6 a.m. every morning for a run. She talked non-stop, and was misleadingly flirty with the boys (even if she had a boyfriend back home.) If I had to equate Ellen to a place, it would be Manhattan. Energetic and inspirational, but you gotta take it in installments or it will burn you out. Months after our internship we met for dinner in Philly. We went to a Middle Eastern restaurant and she proceeded to give me that "Asian mom guilt trip" when I ordered hummus after she ordered the goat. "Great! Now I feel like a PIG!" I remember her saying. God damnit! Must everything be filled with so much drama?! No wonder you ended up on the Real World, your biggest accomplishment being the ability to sit on a block of ice with your hands in the air for the longest time. Actually, in all fairness I think the Real World made Ellen look a lot bitchier than she really was in person..... but it wasn't far from the truth.

Either before or after Ellen.... or maybe around the same time, Jake Bronstein started appearing on another MTV show, Road Rules. He wasn't a friend actually.... I just say that at parties to look cool :) He sat behind me in Spanish 2 at dear old Central High. Of course, I was too shy to talk to cool, good-looking upperclassmen. Maybe we said four complete sentences to each other the whole time in high school.... and they weren't even in English.

Most recently, I saw Akil Baker on UPN's "Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott." Apparently, he changed his name to Akil Dasan. He was my date to the prom..... and from the day I met him, I knew he was destined to become a great musician. As we waited for friends to come pick us up in the limo, Akil and I played around with my guitar and he played a song he wrote (this is when we were like 17) and I was speechless. Around graduation time, when he told me he was going to Columbia to "be a doctor" I remember feeling proud and sad. Proud that he picked such a noble profession and sad knowing that so many others in the world will never get to hear his music.

It only takes stage presense and good looks to be on the Real World or Road Rules, but Akil has real talent (I'm sure you'll agree if you check out the "behind the scenes video") and out of the three friends who made it to reality tv.... I hope that Akil gets far more than his 15 minutes of fame. He was always mad cool, intelligent and polite and could make everyone in a room smile. He doesn't have the "drama queen" element going for him.... but hopefully his talent will outshine the need for it. I hope that his "realness" isn't spoiled by reality tv. Best of luck Akil, I hope you win!

Friday, May 06, 2005

I'll miss this neighborhood

Felt like I was in college again this week.... lots of late nights and early mornings spent in bed surrounded by piles of paper, not-hot-enough tea and music. I had to write 19 assessments about the kids in my class for the government. Each assessment took approximately 1-2 hours to complete. Thanks a whole lot No Child Left Behind Act!

19 students x 1.5 hours = too little sleep for Space Cadet.

Last night I had two hours of sleep and wanted nothing more than to come home after work and crash on the bed (now I get to the part on why I'm gonna miss this neighborhood) I have the best neighbor ever!

Imagine to my surprise when I open my front screen door today and there is a bottle of rum and a package wrapped in brown paper. It was the best thing to come home to after a rough week. It was a gift from her trip to the Virgin Islands. Oh, and in the brown paper package was a box of Caribbean Rum Balls. Think Irish potato, but with cocoa and rum. Sometimes people magically read your mind.

Something I've always admired about alcoholics is their carefreeness to drink any place they freakin' please. I just think drinking at bars/parties loses its appeal after awhile. I always enjoyed those times in my life when I was "partying" (in my head) while everyone around me was completely sober. Those memories are so much funnier. Like that time I shroomed in the morning before my Law & Ethics class (I was giving up coffee and looking for ways to get a "bump" in the morning) I think I participated way too much in class that day.... or drinking Mudslides in the park with Rockstar...... or getting blazed in the middle of Rittenhouse on a sunny day with Repressler's roommate. Those moments are much more memorable because the people around us were so serious. There was no loud music or dim lights....

I have to go to a teacher's conference tomorrow. Maybe I will take a mind trip to the Virgin Islands.....

Thursday, May 05, 2005


American grocery stores soothe and inspire me.

Through the years, walking up and down grocery store aisles has been a somewhat useful coping mechanism for dealing with my scattered brain. I love the organization in them. Speaking slowly and filtering out useless (and sometimes useFUL) information helps, but when life seems illogical and disconnected, nothing beats a nice walk at the Fresh Grocer.

Grocery shopping to me feels like the only time in my life when I have control. Therefore I must visit one whenever I have lost it. There are probably a million products in there, it has the potential to be a total wreck…. yet you always know where to find that very particular thing you are looking for, whether its Gummy LifeSavers or imported gorgonzola cheese.

The grocery store is a microcosm of life. You have many choices…. I love how the canned foods section is shelved. Canned soups, canned meats and fish, canned beans, vegetarian-canned beans. Amongst that you have everything from the expensive gourmet crabmeat to the generic chicken soup, low-sodium to high-protein. I’m not saying I’m an advocate of mass production and monotony ….. I totally feel Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans but I think that sometimes it is nice to have the extreme organization of a grocery to depend on.

And just like in life, you can go in with a list (that can help you stick to a practical budget) or you can walk around aimlessly (overspend maybe? and find something that you really like but never heard of) but in the end you have to pay for your choices.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Children behave!

Its tough being a kid. In some ways you are absolutely powerless and some ways you are full of power. Have you ever noticed how some kids get whatever they want? They have their parents wrapped around their little, chubby fingers.

I think we SHOULD give kids power.... but there is a delicate technique. Kids should work for getting what they want (whether its a shiny sticker, candy or a trip to the park) by doing something nice for someone else or behaving well.

You should NOT however, give kids what they want because they act charming or to stop them from crying. I see too many parents giving their kids whatever they want just to stop them from throwing an embarassing tantrum. What I want to tell every parent, teacher, neighbor, friend is this.... Some kids cry when they are genuinely upset.... but many cry just because it is the only power they have. You mustn't give in. And absolutely don't look at them. If in public, act like it's not your kid.


Take this kid for instance. If someone who didn't know him saw him looking so upset, they might think "Aww, look at that poor kid crying on the bus. Someone must have done something awful to him." See, kids always get sympathy simply for being kids. I see them as little drunk people who can't vote.

This kid ran away on a field trip. We did a head count and were short one. Our hearts raced. When I found the little rugrat I made him sit on a rock and take a time out. He cried maniacly. In a polite but firm and cold tone I said "You are gonna sit on this rock until you get it together." When my eyes were occupied elsewhere he ran away AGAIN, and this time I took him to the bus (where I took this shot). Then I didn't look at him for the rest of the ride. Later, he calmed down and fixed himself.