Tuesday, March 31, 2009

playlist 3/31/09

queens of the stone age - in the fade
mad season - long gone day
diplo - sarah / into the sun
pnuma trio - dab
extra golden - brothers gone away / thank you very quickly
dj cam - success (thievery corporation remix)
me'shell ndgeocello - andromeda & the milky way
habib koite - sirata
amadou & mariam - compagnon de la vie
U2 - last night on earth
the verve - weeping willow
blockhead - cherry picking
cafe tacuba - encantamiento inutil
rem - crush w/ eyeliner
gutter twins - bete noire
pigeonhed - marry me
twilight singers - love / annie mae
afghan whigs - come see about me
radiohead - the national anthem

shows coming to Cleveland that look awesome:

Diplo @ the b-side 4/18
Habib Koite @ Nighttown 4/21
Extra Golden @ the Beachland 4/25
the Bellrays @ the Beachland 5/7
Mudhoney @ the Grog Shop 5/16
the Meat Puppets @ the Grog Shop 6/6

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cleveland, Africa

So we get done tutoring with the kids and they want to me to come over to their friend's house with them. I know the friends as well and I didn't have to be at work until this afternoon so I figured hey why not.

So we're hanging out there. I get to meet the rest of the family and have dinner, ugali and chicken stew and cooked bananas. We were sitting on the floor eating out of common bowls and watching old-school kung fu movies while the older kids practiced their English and we played games with the babies.

I took the kids home and their parents had friends in from out of town, so they were having a party. Ended up hanging out with a girl from Tanzania and debating love, money, and marriage with one of the older brothers and his two friends, who were showing me videos they made of each other dancing to Lil Wayne. Everyone would translate for me so I'd have some idea of where the conversation was going, and we stayed up laughing and talking as the guys grilled skewers of goat meat on the back porch and the music played.

I was getting ready to go around 1am when the kids' parents said they had something for me and took me down to the basement where there was a goat hanging from the ceiling and they sheared of a huge side of raw goat meat for me to take home and share with the roommate.

So... I have to figure out how I'm going to cook this thing now. I hope that at some point I can return the hospitality and the warmth that's been shown to me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

playlist 3/24/09

dj krush - ryu-ki
pete rock & c.l. smooth - t.r.o.y.
jurassic 5 - sum of us
dawn penn - no no no (dj spooky remix)
antibalas - go je je
angelique kidjo - voodoo reprise
extra golden - hera ma nono
desmond dekker - 007 shanty town
tinariwen - cler achel
gutter twins - who will lead us?
massive attack - karmacoma
tribe called quest - check the rhime
amadou & mariam - m'bife
juana molina - no seas antipatica
blockhead - sunday seance
martina topley-bird - anything
telescopes - spaceship
blonde redhead - spring and by summer fall
soulsavers - revival
radiohead - i might be wrong
habib koite - ma ya
regina carter - higher ground

Monday, March 23, 2009

other places

I was looking at some slideshow of photos that some journalist took of Cleveland on Time Magazine's website.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that this is what the rest of the world sees when they hear about my city. A place where entire streets are abandoned. But maybe it's just become what I'm used to. Slavic Village was starting to look this way ten years ago, when I was barely in my teens and me and my friend would sit on her porch and watch her neighbors deal crack.

It seems like there's hardly a street anywhere that doesn't have some place that is vacant and covered with plywood, and the black and white makes the starkness more evident.

The town where my grandma grew up in southern Ohio is getting to be that way. No one has lived in some of those places for years either. The kids aren't going to come back when they get older, and no one is going to move down there to revitalize it because the closest thing to city is St. Clairsville or Wheeling.

I sometimes wonder where all the people go. I guess it's out east or down south or out west. No one seems much happier out there, and I think about how impossible it is to sustain most of those places in the middle of the desert where the lawns are freakishly green like the water's going to last forever.

For those of us who are left, I wonder... Is it still a neighborhood if all the people are gone? When does it become a ghost town?

One of my friends grew up off of 105th and Superior. Another of my friends lives off St. Clair, around the corner from where my great-uncles used to hang out, where my dad was born, before they were part of the white flight exodus and scattered to places like Parma and Garfield.

We drove through his old neighborhood via East Boulevard, where there are truly beautiful homes overlooking the Cultural Gardens, but so many of these old houses have been unloved and neglected for years. There are so many, and we think about how many families grew up there, how people used to hang out in the parks. We wonder if it will ever be like that again.

We're blessed enough to still have employment, but we're in no position to move back into neighborhoods where our grandparents fell in love and reclaim them. We can't afford to. People from past generations tell us about the jobs in factories and downtown, but few of us have those.

Few of us have stability in our relationships, and even fewer of us can even think about kids or houses right now because most of the time we're treading water as it is. A lot of us are still living with our parents, splitting rent with housemates, because we don't have another alternative if we want to fight to stay.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


It's like I have a whole new family of younger siblings now from another continent. I'm hanging out on the porch, having dinner, taking the kids to class, trying to figure out how to get the older brother's computer to work.

I've got one of the girls in my car on the way over and she likes the Amadou & Mariam I have on the stereo and says it reminds her of Africa and starts talking about singing and dancing and her dad cutting down palm trees and how she misses it there so much. I can't even imagine what that would be like.

I had music practice for church after tutoring class last night and a couple of the kids begged me to let them come too. I checked first with the parents, and brought them along. They were all shy at first, sitting in the pews watching everything, but my roommate brought them up to sing and when we were done, we let them play with our instruments.

I have never seen two kids more happy than when they were given free reign over the drumset and the djembe. They have better rhythm than I do, and me and Joe were actually able to play along with them. Seriously awesome.

From March & April

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

we don't exist

One of the things that's weird about writing on here, and then doing my show, is that I connect with people I don't know. I attempt to maintain a semblance of anonymity, but I have had people put two and two together and figure out it was me.

There are some that I've interacted with occasionally in real life who I know read what I write on here, but have no clue that we're one and the same. One of my listeners called up this morning and I realized I knew who he was but he wouldn't know who I was even though we've met before.

It reminded me of how different my life is at 25 rather than 21. I can't remember the last time I've been to a vegan potluck or watched someone's band play in a living room. I'm no longer a college kid going to shows three nights a week and showing up to work in old jeans and a Clash t-shirt.

Despite any countercultural attitude I once had, I now have a real job where I have to look respectable and an existence that is always surprising but not in a way that is easily explainable. I didn't put enough effort into my appearance to be part of any scene, but now I've almost completely dropped out of that whole thing. And to be honest, I don't miss it much at all.

It's funny because people will get these ideas about you being this totally cool person with this great show or a neat blog, but if you didn't know me, you'd never know it was me.

oh yeah, and these guys are coming through Cleveland in June for the first time in forever. This 90's girl is going to be there for sure.

playlist 3/17/09

Despite being 1/4th Irish, I didn't play anything remotely Celtic this morning. St. Patrick is awesome and all, but the holiday itself doesn't do anything for me, as I'm not a fan of corned beef and am not much of a drinker. Not looking forward to driving home from downtown today.

folk implosion - my ritual
daara j - babylone
diplo - big lost
rokia traore - kounandi
pinback - hurley
georgia ann muldrow - patience
the nazarenes - song of righteous life
diplo - summer's gonna hurt you / into the sun
burial - etched headplate
pigeonhed - marry me
extra golden - brothers gone away
tinariwen - toumast
amadou & mariam - fete au village
flying lotus - unexpected delight
african head charge - headed to glory
emmanuel jal - elengwen
oumou sangare - djorolen
lauryn hill - when it hurts so bad
meshell ndgeocello - akeldama
gnarls barkley - who's gonna save my soul
martina topley-bird - soul food
blockhead - road rage breakdown
john frusciante - with no one

Thursday, March 12, 2009

keeping it interesting

Spent my sick days trying to get over a sore throat and aching ears, drinking tea, ingesting several antibiotics and generic ibuprofen, re-reading Zadie Smith for the umpteenth time, chilling with the roommate's cat who probably was hanging out with me because I had the space heater next to me, not because I'm so awesome.

Also, if anyone finds out how to put that chemical that makes chicken soup so darn good when you're ailing, they'll be crazy rich and set for life. Stuff works wonders.

Through our conversations in the car where we practice their English, I learned that my kids love reggae music, Nollywood (Nigerian) cinema, Bob Marley, Biggie, and the word motherf-er (try explaining to a 9-year-old that you're not supposed to use that word to address law enforcement). For some reason, rides in the Sexy Saturn are also thrilling.

I dropped them off at their apartment and their parents ended up having me in for dinner, which was orange pop with African chicken and rice. One of the kids' friends brought over some VHS tapes full of music videos from the homeland. The kids have already introduced me to the Tanzanian gospel of Rose Muhando, but this time I had one of their older brothers translating lyrics by the likes of Big Fairouz and Lolilo. Chilled out with the family and felt honored to be a part of their life.

This is one of the kids' favorites.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

everybody loves us and it gives me the creeps

It's hard to find a fill-in for my time slot so I did it with the aid of a bag of cough drops and as little talking as possible.

Our webstream was down but I did get a couple calls, one from a regular, and another from a drunk guy who said he was from Seattle but was stuck in Cleveland and said my show was "pretty good." He told me that this is a great compliment coming from someone on the West Coast and I thought about playing Mudhoney's "Overblown" from the Singles soundtrack but he sounded like a mess and that seemed like it'd be almost cruel. I'd feel bad for anyone down and out who's stuck here and wants to be home.

playlist for 3.10.09

funkadelic - i'll stay
mighty underdogs - escape
boubacar traore - baba drame
emmanuel jal - gua
daara j - boomerang
U2- please
rokia traore - dounia
juana molina - rio seco/misterio uruguayo (request)
volga - verejushki
common - everywhere
MIS - drume negrita
ollabelle - john the revelator
jane's addiction - classic girl
duke spirit - the step and the walk
tinariwen - chem achel
kadda cherif hadria - djezair
nahawa doubia - minia
amadou & mariam - senegal fast food
the funkees - acid rock
morcheeba - the sea
erykah badu - didn'cha know
cut chemist - the garden
massive attack - unfinished sympathy

Friday, March 6, 2009

the first warm night of the year

I worked late last night.

Drove home and took the long way home down Detroit. I love nights when it's warm enough to roll down the windows and let the music play. Then I started seeing TV cameras and police cars and people outside and I knew that something had happened. A mother and four kids are dead. How can people do this to each other?

I was supposed to go over to a friend's to hang out who lives around the corner over there but it just seemed to crazy to be out and so I spent the night in solitude, sat on my balcony for the first time all year and prayed for my city.

It needs all the help it can get.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I learned a lot about teaching English this weekend, which left me simultaneously encouraged and somewhat overwhelmed. First time I've really been out "far east" and for me Kirtland has that creepy small town vibe which probably isn't fair, but the sheer saturation of Mormon everything and the weird looks I got in the gas station probably added to my gut feeling.

Got to see my good people this weekend, hanging out, drinking espresso, laughing so much that the candle at the table kept burning out, and dancing til 2am.

Promptly got the flu bug that's been going around Saturday night, and spent the next two days sleeping and drinking orange juice and croaking at anyone who ended up calling me.

I was also served the best cup of coffee ever by a guy who calls himself Picasso. That was awesome.

playlist 2/3/09

radiohead - climbing up the walls
saul williams - pg
autolux - turnstile blues
tribe called quest - we've got the jazz
meshell ndegeocello - water
curtis mayfield - give me your love
fiona baptiste - calypso blues
sharon jones - just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in)
the pharcyde - Y?
the roots - break you off
dan dyer - lover's chain
pigeonhed - full sentence
twilight singers - papillon
morphine - buena (request)
luna - sweet child o' mine
morphine - cure for pain (request)
throwing muses - limbo
devotchka - along the way
mark lanegan - don't forget me / resurrection song
mono mono - kenimania
ofege - adieu
the constantines - hotline operator
john frusciante - water
fugazi - close captioned
the dirtbombs - i'll wait