THINK LOCALLY, FUCK GLOBALLY: Gogol Bordello, Trocadero, July 19th
Despite all the negative chatter the issue of immigration generates, the fact is that Americans love the trial-and-error tragicomic saga of fresh-off-the-boat immigrants who try to fit like square pegs into America’s round hole. The latest proof is the runaway success of the movie Borat. Before there was Borat, there was Taxi’s Latka Gravas, Andy Kaufman’s lovable mechanic of mysterious Eastern European descent. In between, there was, and for that matter is, Gogol Bordello, led by human-cannonball front man Eugene Hutz, perhaps best known for his role as Alex in the movie version of Everything Is Illuminated. Like Latka and Borat, Hutz — a native of Ukraine residing in New York — makes his art out of the joys and miseries of assimilating into a strange and foreign land. The Balkan equivalent of the Pogues, Gogol Bordello combines an iconic Eastern European folk sound — which itself combines elements of bolero and flamenco — with the iconoclastic swagger of punk.
The band’s irreverent take on tradition is perhaps summed up best in the chorus of the opening track to their new album, Super Taranta, which goes: “There never were any ‘good old days,’ they are today they are tomorrow, it’s a stupid thing we say, cursing tomorrow with sorrow.” While Super Taranta marks the band’s fourth proper album, Gogol Bordello is best experienced live — ideally while drunk on the wine of life, if nothing else. Gogol’s vibe is that last hour of the wedding reception when everyone is sweaty and untucked and feeling no pain. The band is all about circus-like spectacle, thanks in no small part to the gravity-defying gymnastics of nubile dancer/percussionists Pam Racine and Elizabeth Sun. However, the center of the show is undeniably Hutz, who arrives onstage looking like Lemmy Kilminster covered in honey and shot from a cannon through Nils Lofgren’s wardrobe. Veddy nice. [JV]
The situation between the transitional government in Somalia and Ethiopia and the U.S. military is creating conditions that jihadists can exploit. We discuss the region with KEN MENKHAUS, Professor of Political Science at Davidson College in North Carolina and ELIZA GRISWOLD author of a recent article in The New Republic about Somalia and Ethiopia entitled, “Occupational Hazard: The Other Failed Invasion.”
Everyone studies writing in school, but our guest SUSAN BELL, advocates for the study of editing. Bell has edited fiction and nonfiction professionally for twenty years and created a course in editing at the New School. Her new book is The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself.
Named for the 1953 Saul Bellow novel The Adventures of Augie March, the wry and winsome pop band Augie March has spent the last decade winning loyal fans in its native Australia. An English major and avid poetry fan, singer Glenn Richards has been widely praised for his distinctively smart lyrics — most recently on Augie March’s third album, Moo, You Bloody Choir. The 2001 death of keyboardist Rob Dawson helped lend a degree of depth and melancholy to Augie March’s sound; the album that followed, 2002’s Strange Bird, spanned a broad array of emotions and instrumentations. Moo, You Bloody Choir, the follow-up, just came out here. Elegant and refined, its subtly epic sound makes it a strong candidate for sleeper success.
AUGIE MARCH: One Crowded Hour
This is really great — like the second coming of the Go-Betweens, or something.