Trivia question for the day

This is a fun one, I think. Okay: Belle and Sebastian's "Seymour Stein" is about the president of Sire Records. It's not the first song about a music-industry label head. In fact, there have been two much better-known songs, actually hit songs, about music label heads. Both of these executives are still very prominent in the music industry. Neither song has that person's name in the title, and one doesn't mention the person by name. What are the songs, and the executives?

Oh, and the two executives aren't themselves performers, so a song in which, I don't know, P. Diddy or Master P raps about themselves doesn't count.

UPDATE: Okay, no one knew either one, although Noah amazingly enough correctly guessed both producers. I thought at least one of them would be pretty easy, but I guess it's hard to gauge the difficulty level ahead of time. The first song is "Cherchez La Femme" by Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, which starts with the lines "Tommy Mottola lives on the road/ He lost his lady two months ago" (according to a web search, he was the band's manager at the time, before he was the head of Sony Music). The second is Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris", which is about David Geffen, who was the head of Geffen Records and her producer.

Partial credit would have been given for Ghostface Killa's "Cherchez La Ghost".

More Lebanon news

True democracy in Lebanon by mid-June? It looks like it. Michael Totten at the Spirit of America blog says the Cedar Revolution is over and the protest tent-city in Beirut is being taken down. The Syrians finished withdrawing (mostly) yesterday.

Wow. Sometimes you have to step back a little from current events to see how much things have changed, but not in this case, because everything's moving so fast. The Rafik Hariri assassination, which kick-started the whole movement, happened in mid-February.


Good time, plus a fun link

I just got back from a listening party (theme: early 60's psychedelia), and I had a really good time. So thank you to everybody who enabled my good time.

You know, I was going to just forward this on to someone else, but then I thought, why can't I ever have funny stories like this? So here it is:
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Soviet victory in World War II a circus show will dress monkeys as Nazis and have them act in wartime stories, NewsRu reports.

(Via Tim Blair.) So there you go. When you need non-human performers to represent the Axis powers, it's monkeys every time. I wonder if the monkeys will get booed, or if everyone will just point and laugh. Because, really, monkeys are hilarious.


Bread on the seder plate

Somehow I often seem to end up at Passover seders with an orange or orange slice on the seder plate (it symbolizes feminism, basically). I don't know if it's becoming a more popular ritual or if it's just the types of seders I go to. In any case it's based on a myth (well, so is all of Passover if you want to get technical, but the rest of it has a little more... historical heft behind it).


Happy Passover

Princess Anonymous (who I guess gave up on her blog because it looks way down right now, like broken-HTML down) tells me I should boycott Heeb Magazine. She has her personal reasons, but to some extent I can agree with her because their whole we're-so-hip tone, coupled with instinctive left-wing politics (but of course) can be annoying.

But this, their latest magazine cover, is nicely done. What can I say, sometimes the holidays just make you want to party. You know what I'm saying.

Happy Passover, everyone, to Jews and non-Jews alike.



There's a new "pass-it-on" questionnaire running around, about listing things that are overrated. I assume no one will pass one to me, since I slagged the whole concept the last time around, but I'd like to take part anyway, especially after Candy Girl demonstrated the potential of the form so beautifully (especially the Jon Stewart bit).

The assignment (modified to Candy-speak) is "name five things that are overrated by the people you hang out with." Here goes:

1. Martinis. Yes, it's a "classic drink", but I really can't get these down. And they give me a headache when I do. I've tried supposedly top-notch ones and they still have a medicinal taste to them. My space-age bachelor pad will just have scotch instead, I've decided. The beige shag rugs will still be there.

2. Nirvana. I admit I only felt better about sharing my dislike after being in a band last year with some actual musicians who, it turned out, shared my opinion. I never listened to them when they were around (I wasn't really listening to popular music at the time, but now for me the early 90's are about My Bloody Valentine, Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, etc.); and the cult that's grown up around them doesn't make sense to me, except in the non-musical, "savior of our generation" terms. Somehow people tagged them as "punk", but punk is supposed to be fun and there was nothing "fun" about them. The monotonously dark lyrics, the tortured vocals, the power chords - these are all heavy metal staples. The truth is, Nirvana were a heavy metal act for people who don't listen to heavy metal. Me, I don't like heavy metal.

I admit "Come As You Are" is a good song, though you should know that guitar riff was stolen point-blank from Killing Joke's song "Eighties". So there you go.

3. Online petitions. Oh, man. Every once in a while someone forwards me one or links to one on their blog, even people who I think should know better. This is just about the laziest form of "slacktivism", thinking that a group of unknown names and addresses stuck on some website will sway the opinion of anyone in power. How many of these petitions are even read by their intended recipients, I wonder?

4. Josh Groban. Okay, this one's kind of obvious, but I'm sticking it in for sentimental reasons, because his whole act is so hilarious. Plus I'm having trouble coming up with enough.

5. Owning (vs. renting). It appears we're in the middle of a housing bubble, which makes me feel better about the fact that I have yet to own any housing.


More Mideast updates

Chrenkoff cites a new poll that shows that we're even more popular in Iraq than I thought (and that's saying a lot):
778 Baghdadis were asked:

"Do you support the pull out of foreign troops?

"At once - 12.56%

"According to a future timetable - 81.80%

"Do not know - 5.64%

Only 12% want us out now - and that's in Baghdad, which is in the "Sunni triangle" and supposed to hate America more than most of Iraq. Can we all admit now that the terrorists of Iraq have no popular base?

But I think the biggest story in the world right now (no disrespect to the new Pope) is the ongoing revolution in Lebanon, which continues despite the lack of coverage. If this thing is successful, it means that bloodless "people power" revolutions, like the one in the Ukraine, can work in the Middle East and actually bring about democracy. If so, it'll be an even more direct inspiration to those still living in tyranny to take things into their own hands (looking at you, Iran).

The latest news is that it appears the Syrians really are fulfilling their promise to pull out all troops by the end of the month:
Kssara, near Zahleh, has been totally vacated by the Syrians as the last remaining troops in nearby Saadnayel were seen Saturday packing to leave. The garrison in Rashaya, the forward-most Syrian army outpost close to the border with Israel is almost empty of troops, but intelligence personnel were seen stall manning a few centers in the area on Saturday.

International agencies says no more than 3,000 Syrian troops are still left in the Bekaa two weeks from the April 30 deadlines set for Syria's total evacuation of Lebanon. There are no Syrian soldiers left in south Lebanon, Beirut, the Druze hinterland to the southeast and the Christian heartland to the northeast.

Via Pulse of Freedom, a blog run by Lebanese protesters themselves, in what may be some kind of first.

Their site really has all sorts of interesting information. Also, you can see a photo of them here. Hmm... yes, good bloggers all.


From your favorite Sri Lankan-British MC

Since some people asked about M.I.A., I found the video for her big single "Galang" online - you can see it here. The video's pretty dopey (okay, maybe there's some great 80's-retro thing in there that I'm just not catching), but anyway the song's cool.


Man after my own heart

For your consideration: Steve Shaw, running for mayor of New York City on the Republican ticket. A youngish banker who lives in Park Slope and supports lower taxes and school vouchers... basically, if you're upset that you can't vote for me in the race, he's the next best thing. (Via Slantpoint).

Speaking of the mayor's race, now former senator Bob Kerrey (living in New York for the past four years) is considering jumping into the race. He says he's "just crazy enough to do this," prompting this bit of political wisdom from Karol:
Rule #1 of politics: you can be crazy but you really should never admit it.


Almost infamous

It's the classic American dream story, with a really big twist... the New York Post has a profile of Osama Bin Laden's niece, Wafah Binladin (note clever spelling change), who's living in Manhattan of all places, with what appears to be a sizable trust fund. She dreams of making it as a singer, with stage name "Wafah DuFour" (that's her mother's maiden name). I didn't expect to feel much sympathy for her, but she does seem to have had a difficult life story despite her pampered Euro-trashy background. Her mother's ethnically non-Arab, and married one of OBL's brothers; mom is now trying to get a divorce from him (very difficult or impossible under Saudi Arabian law), and neither mother nor daughter has seen him in 7 years (now it turns out the guy is under investigation himself for possibly having foreknowledge of the attacks). So she can't show her face in Saudi Arabia, and she feels constantly under judgment living here... it really feels like she's more a victim of the Bin Laden family than some sort of representative of them.

So, the sympathetic side of me thinks she's gotten sort of a raw deal (I don't know, is there any point feeling sorry for her?)

The manager side of me thinks that, if she wants to make it, she should forget the singing career and just become a rapper instead. She could go political (in a pro-American way, of course - no sense having angry mobs chasing her). And the novelty value works a lot better in hip-hop, where people's life story works its way into their music. There's already a precedent: M.I.A.'s dad is a Tamil Tiger, and now she's sort of a superstar.


Economics in One Lesson

Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" is now online (in PDF format). Written in 1946, it's the most succint and well-argued explanation I've seen for laissez-faire thinking; it bases most of its argument around Frederic Bastiat's "broken windows fallacy" and takes it from there.

Anyway, now you can read it for free!

Via Jane Galt.


Good news for now

My buddy who joined the Marines (I mentioned him briefly a while ago) is back in New York now, after a little over a year of training, with some hilarious Marine-life stories in tow, and staying at my place until his new apartment's move-in date. He's in the reserves now, and hoping (as am I) he won't get called to Iraq; It's heartening to read news stories like this (that troop reductions might be planned for the near future) but you never know what'll happen.

After having been around him for a while, I now remember to say "the military" instead of "the army" when mentioning our armed forces in conversation (those two are not at all the same thing, turns out). Also, I figure it's just a matter of time before I start referring to going to sleep as "hitting the rack".


Quick hits

Haven't posted anything, I know... here's a bunch of links to hopefully tide people over:

  • Ivan Lenin goes to Belarus, and now they're talking about revolution there. Coincidence?...

  • Dawn recalls meeting the pope, getting good advice.

  • Shaister's great "Friday Pop Culture" series focuses this week on Subliminal. I confess I'm a bit obsessed with this guy and his crew. It pushes all sorts of buttons for me - Israel, right-wing stuff, hip-hop.

  • Mark Steyn on the disappointing CIA: "One of the great sub-plots of the post-9/11 world is the uselessness of 'experts,' the guys who get unlimited budgets to run 24/7 agencies devoted to their areas of expertise."

  • First cross-Kashmir bus service in 60 years starts running. Note that peace talks there started in earnest soon after our invasion of Iraq.

  • Google Maps + Craiglist postings = a searchable map of available apartments in America's cities. Neat!

  • Hey, nobody's made fun of Williamsburg in a while - maybe it's because... oh, never mind.

  • 4/06/2005

    The face of the New Iraq

    Iraq's assembly has finally chosen an interim president: Jalal Talabani, a Kurd. That's right, the new president of Iraq is a non-Arab.

    If Iraq will function anything like other parliamentary democracies in the world, most of the power will be held by the prime minister; the president has more of a ceremonial function (the interim prime minister hasn't yet been chosen). And it makes sense in that having a Shiite or Sunni might have been seen as a slap in the face by the other side. Still, it's an amazing development for the Kurds: marginalized in every other Middle Eastern country they live in, in Iraq one of them has assumed the presidency.

    Kurdish blogger "Kurdo" has more on Talabani. It's a bit of a Mandela-like life story.


    Been there, done that

    Mark Steyn offers some historical perspective:
    We live in a present-tense culture where novelty is its own virtue: the Guardian, for example, has already been touting the Nigerian Francis Arinze as "candidate for first black pope". This would be news to Pope St Victor, an African and pontiff from 189 to 199. Among his legacies: the celebration of Easter on a Sunday.

    In fact, amazingly enough it turns out that Pope St. Victor was just the first of three black popes, according to this page I found.

    The whole column is good, as always, by the way; it's about Pope John Paul II but really it's about Steyn's favorite topic, the death of Secular Socialist Europe.

    Now a Latin American pope, that would be new. I'm envisioning some Telemundo-style pepping-up of the Mass.


    More democracy news

    Syria has announced they're pulling all troops and intelligence agents out of Lebanon, by the end of this month. That's quite a large task, even if they're sincere about it, but I hope it's true.

    Kyrgyzstan's president Aksar Akayev, who was in power since the end of the Soviet Union, and is now exiled in Russia, has agreed to finally resign.

    All the opponents of the war in Iraq who claimed it might "destabilize the region" have been proven right, of course. Hats off to them.

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