Posted tagged ‘9/11’

The 9/11/10 Ground Zero Mosque Protest – Protest Review

September 14, 2010

This Woman Supported the Mosque Until She Discovered it Wasn't a 1994 Jim Carrey Film.

I think everyone remembers where they were on the 9th anniversary of 9/11, mainly because it was a mere three days ago. While the original 9/11 was debatably the day that dictated a decade and defined a generation, last Saturday was a much more divisive deceitful affair rooted in distasteful destruction and disrespectful dismissals. Of course, that’s just one man’s perspective. How do I know? Because that one man…was ME! Yes, with all the hoopla over the potential Islamic Cultural Center or, as it’s inaccurately known, the “Ground Zero Mosque,” heating up cable television around the clock, I decided to interject myself right into the thick of things and experience the insanity first hand. Oh, and did I mention I brought my camera? Well, I did, and here’s a glimpse into just another day in New York City:

Those are the final moments of the protest. This was taken at the site of the Pro-Mosque Rally after the Anti-Mosque Rally was forced to disband by police, so the Anti-Mosque Rally’s most vocal participants (still looking for clouds to yell at) decided to crash the party and engage in a debate series of loud angry noises in-between other progressively louder angrier noises. Both sides of the issue seem to be engaging in some Pantaphysics-based call-and-response where the rebuttals have no regard for lack the slightest hint of acknowledging whatever it is they’re responding to. You’ll notice one gentleman seems to believe the whole fandango was a masterminded coup to embarrass Donald Trump.

I like to keep this site as apolitical as possible since we all know new-millennium Politics + Hip-Hop = BOR-ING, but as an objective viewer and lover of the absurd, this just had to be commented on. One thing that strikes me about the whole controversy is how transparently racist the whole shebang is. If you really listen to the Anti-Mosque Brigade, you never once hear the phrase “radical Islam.” Instead, they refer to the actions of a select few fundamentalists as “the middle east.” What also gets me is that, if the more vocal proponents in the press are anything to go by, the same sect who demand the Ten Commandments be posted in public schools. That’s not to say I’m likening the “Ground Zero Mosque” to the separation of Church-and-State, rather I question the justification of fighting for a religious presence in a government-regulated building while denying the right of freedom of religion to the independent individual enterprise that makes America great.

What it all boils down to is that this was a protest against Islam and Muslims in general. The well-documented actions of Saturday, including protesters dressing up like the Dutch Mohammad cartoon and burning the Koran/Qur’an/Harmony Korine, isn’t so much saying “I don’t want a House of Islam that close to a location where a horrible act was carried out by a very minuscule radical offshoot of it” but “I want Muslims to know that they are not welcome here, and I do not respect them.” Did it not cross their mind that perhaps there are some Muslims in New York City who *gasp* might be on the same side that they are?

I was in Minnesota when the story broke, and after spending time there and in North Carolina, I’ve noticed there’s been a great deal of inaccurate reporting on it. For one, the “Mosque” ISN’T IN GROUND ZERO. I think what’s confused a lot of people is that when the original rebuilding of the World Trade Center in 2006 began, there was a non-denominational prayer center in the middle of it. That plan was scrapped and construction was ceased/demolished, as well as another time, making this next rebuilding effort the THIRD ATTEMPT to fill that wound left nine years ago. But I degrassi, the “Mosque” is roughly TWO AVENUE BLOCKS AWAY! It takes over 15 minutes to walk there from Ground Zero, and is really nowhere near it. If people are really concerned with the desecration of a sacred place, why isn’t there more of an effort to rid the area of the subhuman scum who sell 8 X 10″ glossy photos of the towers exploding or commemorative “Never Forget” T-Shirt and plate sets? Or how about using this angry energy to help the immediate on-site volunteers who still need medical help?

While the protest did have a dedicated and vocal turnout, no real dialogue was started. Oh, there were words exchanged from different parties, but there were merely a series of monologues that occasionally intersected each other. While things didn’t escalate into violence, they often felt like they were about to. If a statement was made, it’s that people disagree on an issue and love to relish in it in front of a crowd. While they have gotten some attention, they really haven’t done anything with it. This protest was basically a 2000s mixtape rappers career in a day.

We Give The 9/11/10 Ground Zero Mosque Protest a Two Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

The Forgotten Music Industry of 9/11

September 10, 2010

C is for...oh...my...

It’s been nine years since September 11th, 2001. There’s a lot to say about that day, and a lot of more important things to remember than a bevy of clicks and whistles, so let me begin by stating I’m well aware that what I’m about to explore carries nowhere near the gravity of just bout any other related topic one could report on. That in mind, while the sentiment at the time is understandable, in the world of music journalism it’s bizarre to see how little of that three-month stretch of August-October 2001 has been remembered. Outside Aaliyah’s death, the Concert for New York City, The Coup’s Album Cover snafu and the debate of whether the months-later releases of Bruce Springstein’s The Rising or Eminem’s The Eminem Show is the first proper post-9/11 album, most recollections make it seem like music was just not played for a while. That in mind, let’s take a look back at the bizarre haze that was the music industry around 9/11.

Let’s start with the day itself. 9-11-01 was designated to be one of the industry’s “Super Tuesdays,” a single release date where several big name releases drop at once with hopes that products would be cross-promoted and the consumer would purchase two or three at a time. On this day alone you had Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft, Slayer’s God Hates Us All, Ben Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs, the Glitter soundtrack, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint and Nickleback’s breakthrough American release Silver Side Up. All things considered, had the attacks not happened, this one day had all these important releases that, for better or worse, either captured their respective genres at the moment or went on to define where music went for the rest of the decade.

This came out on 9/11/01

Following 9/11, radio really was at a bizarre standstill. I recall reading an interview with a popular DJ at the time who described the days following as “just not the right time to play ‘Bootyliscious.’” We all grieve in different ways, and there is a level of mood and taste that goes into sensitive times like this, particularly if you’re a major media outlet, but nobody really knew what to do. Radio mega-conglomerate Clear Channel famously released this list of songs no station should play due to “questionable lyrics” that included everything from the somewhat understandable albeit oversensitive “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John and “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, to the puzzling “He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother” by the Hollies and “She’s Not There” by the Zombies, to the laughable banning of “all songs by Rage Against the Machine.” This opening of empty space on the radio forced programmers to play anything that they could to get people’s minds off the attacks, which lead to the Insane Clown Posse’s promotional Halloween song getting regular Clear Channel rotation and becoming the biggest pre-”Miracles” hit of their careers. MTV also began taking call-ins from the likes of Ja Rule (which in nine years has somehow still not returned to the internet) and airing promos from artists like Bad Ronald, telling us that if we need to talk to someone about how we’re feeling, we should. They would shoot promos with any celebrity who would talk to them to help fill airtime, including one with Whoopi Goldberg that I recall her stating “this is the end of all that reality TV, but cause television will never get realer than this.” Any time these weren’t airing, MTV was filling space with this unfathomably awful remake of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” that even in a post ‘We Are the World 25′-world may be the most awful celebrity circle-jerk ever committed to wax, culminating in without hyperbole the absolute worst moment of Fred Durst’s career as he was called in on THE MORNING OF 9/11 to tack on a verse and give this charity single originally meant for AIDS relief a whole new relevance.

...and then, shortly after, this did.

But where did all of this slingshot from? Well, the previous August was a time in popular music so bizarre it’s been all but written out of the history books. The industry had just had its back-to-back biggest years ever, with albums moving 10 million units on a regular basis. Napster had just been completely wiped out, and the biggest stars in the world were boy bands, nu-metal, teenage sex kittens and white rappers. Even the “failures” were going platinum and people were making money hand over fist. While many revisionists have falsely attributed Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP as ending the boy band-era, N’SYNC’s final album Celebrity, which came out a year later, still sold 4.4 million copies and was 2001′s top seller, along with Staind’s Break the Cycle, not to mention the previous year’s Linkin Park album Hybrid Theory and Shaggy’s Hotshot that finally found an audience and managed to outsell them both. Michael Jackson had also reunited with the Jackson 5 one last time and prepped the release of his forthcoming Invincible by playing his final show in New York City as recently as September 10th.

Yet, despite these trends, that summer was a time of “let’s just see what sticks” where record labels were backing random, bizarre artists and pushing their weirdness out into the world. It marked the return of the novelty song, a niche whose fun was extinguished as the planes hit the towers and the artists involved, even quicker than usual, were never heard from again. Let’s take a look back at the careers that time forgot.

Afroman – “Because I Got High”

Starting things off we have Afroman who has remained the most visible of the 9/11 novelty casualties. “Because I Got High,” or as MTV edited the Kevin Smith directed-clip, “Because I Got (handlebar bell sound),” was the likeliest of unlikely hits and to this day has become something of a cult favorite. The same could be said about Afroman himself who has maintained something of a Phish-like following who will follow him to the ends of the Earth and purchase everything he puts out.

Bad Ronald – “Let’s Begin (Shoot the S**t)”

Here’s something bizarre. Like I said, 2001 was a year where the streets ran red with the blood of failed white rappers. The tremendous success of Eminem resulted in some bizarre reverse-affirmative action effect where every label had to have some rhyming caucazoid. The Neptunes’ Star Trak imprint had Lee Harvey, Bad Boy has Kain and, not to be outdone, Reprise Records assembled three white rappers (and the DJ from beloved Twin Cities rap outfit The Oddjobs) to form the proto-Asher Roth frat rap Voltron known as Bad Ronald. While they did benefit from a legitimately well done Mark Klasfeld (Scarface’s “On My Block,” Juvenile’s “Ha”) directed video, (which a quick Google search proved to be very popular in the adult-baby communities), their success just wasn’t meant to be. I do remember the review of their self-titled album getting a particularly scathing review in Rolling Stone, declaring “finally the Bloodhound Gang have someone to look down upon.”

Little T and One Track Mike – “Shaniqua”

Warner Music Group has deactivated the audio on this clip because even they are capable of mercy. If you really want to hear it again, it’s here and it’s awful. A classic example of a catchy chorus and a bunch of noises on either side of it, it’s aged so poorly that Crazy Town’s “Butterfly” is a Chateau Lafite Bordeaux by comparison. I mean, even as someone who has the lyrics to “Surfin Bird” memorized, I find “milking a purple cow” a particularly embarrassing moment in pop culture. Well, at least it doesn’t have Fred Durst rapping about “human beings using human beings for a bomb.” You feelin’ me right?

Never forget.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of Rich Cronin.

Tuesday – Day Review

July 13, 2010

All heads on the rise, you better recognize.

So if you didn’t get the memo that I haven’t sent out yet, PopularOpinions is changing a bit. Instead of being a Monday-Wednesday-Friday affair, we’re moving to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yes, the week’s twin tower alliance of alliteration will now be home to my endlessly fascinating and always topical thoughts on fast food abominations, twenty-year-old failed cartoon pilots and holidays. Is this move because I’m getting lazy? Is it because two is less than three and it makes it less of a commitment? Fear not dear reader, I can assure you this reformatting can solely be attributed to my selling-out and utter love of money. My stock has risen significantly over the past two months, so what better way to thank you loyal readers for getting me there than changing everything you’ve come to expect and enjoy from this site and turning it on its ear. That in mind, let’s take a look at our new home with a look at Tuesday.

Tuesday is probably best known as the set day for important events that aren’t cool enough to happen on the weekend. From election days to CD and DVD release dates (remember those?) it was the day for media milestones that ensured no hangover or verging vacations could distract from what they had to offer. They would either rock your world with change or shock your world with disappointment. But even with the rare political event or the flood of new releases on “super tuesdays” (usually the final tuesdays in May and November when the music industry would attempt the 1-2-3-4-5-punch combo of dropping several hot holiday/summer releases at once) Tuesday was largely the uneventful fence-sitting stepchild of the calendar week.

The day we honor John the Baptist.

By following the dreaded buzzkiller known as Monday, Tuesday’s never really had a hard act to follow. No-one has ever remarked “someone’s got a case of the Tuesdays.” Yet, instead of playing in its favor to make it a better day, Tuesday just slags all of its issues on disillusionment from a mere 24 hours ago. I recall Geometry teacher and football coach Adam Kowles once remarking “at least with Mondays you have some of that residual sleep from the weekend. Tuesdays are torture” and he’s right. With Tuesday you’re one more day removed from last weekend, and still three days away from the next one. BOR-ING! And did I mentioned 9/11 HAPPENED ON A TUESDAY?! Don’t believe me? Ask Melissa Etheridge after seven cans of Surge -

But Tuesday is also the namesake day of Jhumpa Lahiri’s 2003 novel The Namesake beloved chain restaurant Ruby Tuesdays. If you really wanted to make that third date with your midwestern high school sweetheart something she’ll remember for years to come, you could always trust RT‘s to supply the steak kabobs of legends in between the 7:15 screening of the Freddie Prinze Jr. vehicle Summer Catch and a night of mini-golf and lazer tag at Lava Links. Then, as Sixpence None the Richer plays over the mall sound-system*, you make your way over to the photobooth and test the buzz to see if the magic you have will last a lunchtime. If not, you know you’re going to run into her on a Tuesday and it’s going to be super awkward. I believe Scott Jerry Hall’s ex-husband’s band wrote a song about just such an encounter.

Still, when the monumental Tuesdays throw down, it’s hard to deny the awesomeness. Remember when Barack Obama got elected? Or when Hello Nasty came out? Moments like these when Tuesday decides to get its stuff together are when the day works. As awesome as things like Mardi Gras are, John the Baptist’s designated day is often, as composer Karlheinz Stockhausen described it in his opera Licht, a cube of electronic mimes around anyone who bothers to pay it attention. It’s an ordinary day with extraordinary potential it only occationally lives up to.

We give Tuesday a Three Out of Five.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*It’s gonna bring you back up. Yeah, the one thing that you can depend on.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – One Year Later

April 30, 2010

Genesis 18:20

During his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy, French author Henri-Marie Beyel fell victim to a psychosomatic illness now known as Stendahl Syndrome. Characterized by fainting, catatonia and intense hallucinations triggered by being overwhelmed by art, it is believed to be the result of a literal sensory overload. With the majority of the outbreaks happening in Florence where works are particularly lush and plentiful, one could make the argument their art having such an impact the highest compliment an artist could receive. But what about when a work of art causes an overtly negative reaction that pushes its viewers to the absolute limit causing a passionate outburst of violent anger? So was the opening night screening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or as actor Steven Trolinger put it, “the worst thing that has ever happened.”

It’s hard to believe one year has passed since the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, henceforth referred to as The Events of 5/1. Before we continue, I’d like to point out that I absolutely do not care in the slightest about a film’s faithfulness to its source material. While my familiarity with the Marvel Universe is above-average, I can recognize that comics and film are both different mediums and can divorce the merits of one when evaluating the other. My loathing for this film isn’t because I feel some nostalgic loyalty, but rather because it is an absolute abomination on every imaginable level.

Leviticus 18:25.

For every hyperbolic critique people tend to lob at a movie, this was perhaps the first time that all of them were true. Most glaringly, there was no plot. No story. At all. Some of you reading this now may remember thinking the “movie” was “OK,” “wasn’t that bad” or that you even “liked it.” Well riddle me this, what was the “movie” about? I challenge you, in once sentence, to describe The Events of 5/1. The whole 82 minute running time is an attention-deficit fueled* experiment in human endurance. Don’t get it twisted, I love a good summer blockbuster shiny-go-boomy movie as much as the next real American, but if I’m going to turn my brain off I don’t need it pried from my skull.

“Director” Gavin Hood is the “film’s” cinematic angel of death. His inept handling of The Events of 5/1 seems to almost be intentional. Either that, or he has perhaps never seen a motion picture before and doesn’t understand how they work. Evidence for this is seen in an overhead shot of a character looking to the sky and screming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” happening no less than FOUR (4) times in the film. Even what would be the film’s highlight, the opening scene of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds, some truly inspired casting) smart-mouthing a room full of soon dead bad guys, becomes inverted into one of the film’s greatest flaws as we don’t see the character for another seventy minutes until he returns with his mouth sown shut and everything endearing about the character removed.

Psalms 7:14

But the silver lining in the F-5 funnel cloud that was The Events of 5/1 was seeing it opening night in New York City and, for the first time, seeing an entire audience turn on a “film.” Even with the bootleg leaking over a month prior** the entire theater was sold out and packed into Union Square like chickens in a slaughterhouse. The first five minutes seemed fine, heroic action was cheered and one-liners were repeated with the word “bitch” added to the end, all-in-all a typical opening night Manhattan screening. But then, the first “NOOOOOOOO” happen and the audience stared in dumbfounded silence. Were we not in on some joke? Ten minutes later, serious revelations were met with laughter, moments of heartbreak were heckled and action sequences were met with outright groans. Yes, it was that bad and this summer movie “opening weekend” audience knew it. It got so bad that when the credits rolled, the audience (and I swear to gosh this happened) rose to their feet and BOO’ed the movie while pelting the screen with garbage. There was no smattering of applause as rows of disenchanted moviegoers cleared the theater row-by-row with heads hung like a Catholic funeral. When it came time for the bonus scene at the end of the credits, I optimistically yelled from the balcony “HANG ON EVERYBODY, THIS IS GOING TO REDEEM EVERYTHING!” not anticipating that us remaining moviegoers were to be subjected to the absolute worst most hackneyed written moment of dialogue in the history of cinema. The audience boo’ed again, and we all went out separate ways in order to drink to forget.

1 Kings 21:20

With it still having an impressive weekend and Fox hoping to make a sequel and several spinoffs, some are clamoring for a reboot of the franchise. I disagree as, living in a world where X-Men Origins: Wolverine was made and released, I think we need a reboot of humanity as a whole. It’s important that we never forget the Events of 5/1 or else we are doomed to repeat them. Just as the Bush Administration will be defined by 9/11, Obama’s legacy will be that of letting The Events of 5/1 happen under his watch. I attempted to find a copy of the film to listen to the director’s commentary, hoping there would be some explanation for letting such an atrocity take place, but it’s been stripped from all the copies at rental outlets and only made available through the deluxe $34.99 Blu-Ray edition of the film and I flat-out refuse to contribute any more to their evil empire.

We Give X-Men Origins: Wolverine aka The Events of 5/1 a Zero Out of Five

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Realistically speaking, if there was a fuel for the film it would be some mixture of Surge, Red Bull and the liquid at the bottom of the ham in your Lunchables.

**A bootleg which, in all honesty, is a superior cut if only for using the scores of The Dark Knight and Transformers in place of Harry Gregson-Williams’ series of noises.


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