Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is the soul of hip-hop in slam poetry?

Music Poem from Saul Williams's journal from 2000 --- From "The Dead Emcee Scrolls" pg. 152

Can music change the world?
Are these simply songs to be heard
And forgotten?
When JB said, "Say it loud..."
Did that affect a shift in conciousness?
Can the music of a society
Help mold its mental state?
Can a great song affect more than the way
A musician approaches his next song?
How about the way they approach their children.
Their loved ones? Their lives?

I believe I am
A man molded by music
And my intent is to mold
To shape
These are the ways
Of a carpenter.


"The Dead Emcee Scrolls" is a challenging book by Saul Williams.

It's about where hip hop had a chance to be, and may not be reaching right now.

I am getting more into the slam poetry scene all of the time.  It speaks to me.  Language is powerful, words are powerful.

Hip-hop had a poetry to it, some does, some is misogynistic and glorifies capitalism and money.

I think some of the best of early hip-hop has become part of the slam poetry scene.  Some of it is rapped, most just spoke, a lot inbetween.

It's about the words, it's about talking about lives.

It's about talking about pain, family, redemption, gladness and sadness.

I am very proud of the Portland, Maine poetry scene.

May it continue to prosper.

Edmund (aka Ed2D2)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

We live in insane times.

So insane that someone live say Nancy Smith who works $10/hour in a McJob pays a higher combined income tax and payroll tax rate then someone who lives off interest income and is worth $100 Million Dollars.

I think current payroll taxes are around 10% for the employee; matched by 10% for the employer (this is not a perfect # just an estimate) .. Even if someone pays no income tax or very little, which is likely since 10x40hours/week = $400/week and times 52 weeks a year equals $20,800.

And many Americans make less then this all around the country.  So let's just say this person makes approximately $21,000 and pays 20% payroll taxes and no income taxes.  Of course, they only see the $2,100 in payroll taxes that are shown by their paystubs.

Let's say this person is also lucky enough to have health insurance at their job which by no means is a given in a low-wage job.

And let's say for her family it costs $100/week, which sadly is a low estimate for the cost of health insurance for a family of 4 in a low wage job.

This means that she in making $300/week.  And she is having another $40/week in payroll taxes, giving her $260/week.

Let's say beyond this she went to college for 4 semesters and didn't graduate and has $100/month in student load debt.

This is $1,200/year which is much less then most students who went to college recently pay.

So this person makes $260/week*52 weeks = $13,520 year - $1,200 for student loan debt, this person is down to $12,320 year .. or $1,026.67 a month for all expenses.

This person would require assistance just to get by with 2 kids and a husband even if he made another $1,000 a month.

And the Republican party says that simple help like food stamps for $200/month is welfare and causes dependency.


Meanwhile, Huxley Rockefeller has a $100 Million Dollar trust fund.

His trust fund is invested through a conservative hedge fund and makes 8% a year.

This gives him $8 Million a year in interest income.

This interest income I believe is taxed at 15% for capital gains equaling 1.2 Million in taxes.  But leaving $6.8 Million in income.

Mr. Rockefeller can afford excellent insurance for his family of four that costs $2,000/month which is a neglible bill that he autopays.

He also gives money to a lobbyist that keeps the capital gains tax % low and has petitioned for 0% Capital Gains Tax.

His basic expenses and overhead like rent and utilities are negligible and he spend approximately $1 Million/year for excellent meals, a Central Park South Apartment, and private school for his children.

This leaves him $5.8 Million dollars in interest income that can accumulate the next year.


Insanely, Mr. Rockefeller pays less of a percentage in total taxes then Ms. Smith.

Mr. Rockefeller earns over $5 Million Dollars a year to his net worth.  Ms. Smith is likely to have to take on debt to just get by and say gains $5,000 debt/year.

The sad thing is this isn't really theoretical.

We are the 99%


Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 of my favorite albums (or really 13)

Don't want to call it my top 10 albums but here are some of my favorites.

Nirvana - Nevermind .. from the great rush of Smells Like Teen Spirit to the awesomeness of Lithium "I'm so happy because today I've found my friends there in my head" .. Come as you Are, Breed ... One of my favorite albums from high school years. (1991)

U2 - The Joshua Tree -- I can't live with or without you, I still haven't found what I am looking for .. Where the Streets Have No Name, Running to Stand Still .. Still U2's best album almost 25 years later (amazing to say that) (1987)

Radiohead - OK Computer -- Rare to have an album for me that only 2 songs are 3 stars .. almost all 4 stars including 5 for Karma Police.  Atmospheric, beautiful, contemplative.  Other bands wish they could reach these heights.  Just stunning. (1997)

Bob Dylan .. One of my 3 favorite performers of all time (Cash, Dylan, Charles) .. 3 albums come to mind for him .. Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited and Time Out of Mind ... Putting 2 on my top 10 for now. Love Time Out of Mind, but not up to the first two.

Blonde on Blonde -- Bob Dylan -- 1966 .. One of the iconic Dylan albums .. Rainy Day Women (ie lets gets stoned) .. the wonderful craziness of Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat; the beauty of Just Like a Woman; and those gorgeous Visions of Johanna

Highway 61 Revisited --- Bob Dylan -- 1965 -- Didn't realize it came so close to Blonde on Blonde, knew both 60s albums but wow .. The iconic Like a Rolling Stone, the wonderful Ballad of a Thin Man -- Mr. Jones .. Desolation Row, It Takes a Lot to Laugh ... Amazing album from top to finish.

Johnny Cash -- The Legend of Johnny Cash -- 2005 -- my pick for best album of the 2000s and I guess the 21st Century so far.  Ironic for one of the 20th Century's great music icons.  Rick Rubin helped make this amazing late career Johnny Cash resurgence.  So many times better then Slate's best pick of the last 10 years -- The Strokes -- "Is This It?" ...

One of the best ways to get into Johnny Cash .. Get Rhythm when you get the blues, Hey Porter that you are getting close to home; My name is Sue .. how do you do .. now you gonna die.  Highwayman, Delia's Gone, one more round Delia's gone .. and of course the knockout that is "Hurt" .. the cover of NIN that went so, so far above Trent Reznor.

Love Ray Charles don't have 1 album that belongs on this list.

The Beatles -- Anthology 2 (Disc 2) -- I am sure some people may not like this came far after the Beatles were together.  Love the multiple versions of Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day in the Life, Mr. Kite, I Am the Walrus, Fool on the Hill.  The fact that many of these versions were alternate takes provides a sparer and awesome power all of its own. -- 1996

Fugees - The Score --- Really sad that they broke after this insanely great album --- so many highs on this album.  Killing Me Softly, Ready or Not; No Woman, No Cry (will admit to prefering it to Bob Marley's version); ... Amazing album, amazing group, huge egos.  Would love a reunion .. I thought I heard a rumor of one. -- 1996

Simon and Garfunkel -- The Essential Simon and Garfunkel (2 CDs) -- My mother's favorite band easily, so I grew up with this music .. So many favorites -- The Sound of Silence, Mrs. Robinson, I Am a Rock, Bridge Over Troubled Water; Scarborough Fair; The Only Living Boy in New York; Cecilia; If I Could ... Just love these harmonies --- 1964-1970

The Simpsons -- Songs in the Key of Springfield --- A must for anyone who loves the show. It's easy to forget how amazing the music on this show is.  Go Simpsonic with the Simpsons is also excellent.  So much fun here -- The Stonecutter's Song (We Do); Your Wife Don't Understand You; Oh Streetcar; 2 Dozen and One Greyhounds ... If you don't have this it's amazing get it.  The Simpsons: Testify is skippable.  1990-1996

Kind of Blue - Miles Davis -- One of the iconic jazz sessions of all time.  Amazing music.  So What, All Blues, Freedie Freeloader.  One of those must own LPs. - 1959

The Aristocrat of the Blues - Muddy Waters, et al (2 CDs) --- I think of this as primarily a Muddy Waters album but insanely great blues from the Aristocrat label.  If you are a blues fan at all, you need to have this, just simply amazing. -- 1947-1950

The Best of the Songbooks (Disc 1) -- Ella Fitzgerald -- Literally got married to this music.  Gorgeous stuff. My favorite Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered; Miss Otis Regrets; 's Wonderful; Love is Here to Stay; Can't Take That Away from Me.  One of the great voices of all time.  Released 1993 -- Music mainly from the 50s I think.

So there you go .. and of course ended up with 13 albums.  All amazing all different.

Try them out and please give your feedback and personal favorites.