Category Archives: Sohrob Kazerounian

Results: Ghosts

Rob Law

Attaboy Skip – Ghostbusters Theme

I don’t have many songs about ghosts. So after deciding that a Ghostface song or any song from that fucking Unicorns album would be a copout, I figured I should go with what I know.

Attaboy Skip were a band from Las Vegas, my hometown. They rolled in near the middle of that third-wave ska thing that you either love unrepentantly or still try your damnedest to forget. Largely because of this band, I was in the former camp. I’m not sure what it was: inserting non-sequitur bongo breakouts into their sets? The warm regard for their fans (the lead singer once thanked me personally and another time called me out in front of several thousand people for wearing one of their t-shirts)? Bizarre-ass covers such as this one, the Ghostbusters theme song?

Also, their drummer later went on to play for that other Vegas band, the Killers.

Sohrob Kazerounian

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Ah, ghosts. The millennia old notion of the paranormal, metaphysical spirit that haunts all of us stuck here in the physical world. They range from friendly creatures (casper comes to mind) to those that commit unspeakable (except when spoken of) acts of horror. You might think that the only justification for ghostly obsession with the living is complete and utter boredom with the netherworld. And – you’d be right. The thing is, being dead sucks. Granted, I can’t know this with certainty, but judging by the dumb ghost-y things ghosts do, and the even dumber people they choose to do them to, Hades isn’t exactly the eternal club-med some people make it out to be.

Thats why I’ve chosen the epic ghost song Thriller, by Michael Jackson (ghoulish zombie song really, ghosts are supposed to be transparent no?). In an apparent cluster-fuck of boredom, this zombie collective decides that terrorizing MJs girlfriend is a quality use of time. Moreover, if terror is to be the order of the day, they decide it should come in the form of killer dance moves that ironically, would one day revolutionize hipster (zombie) dance parties.

The confusion over MJ being a zombie or not aside, this song (and video, AND ALBUM) are absolutely awesome. If I had the time, and an old betamax, I would find old videotapes of me at 3 dancing to thriller. No matter. Find me today, and you can still see me dancing to it (and in all likelihood, in just as uncoordinated a manner).

Matt Silver Alex Storer

Concrete Blonde – Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man

Lots of people report of ghost experiences.  Their TV turned off without them touching it, or some dead guy transubstantiated in their mouth.  But rare is the experience of ghost lovin’.  For that, you’ve got to turn to the gothic underworld, or at least its radio-friendly counterpart from the early 90s, embodied by Concrete Blonde and the $20 set they constructed to tell their harrowing tale.

I’ll sum it up for you.  Dark queen Johnette Napolitano is taking a shower, when she sees some weird shit in the fog on her shower.  And when her towel isn’t where she remembered putting it, she deftly concludes that there is a GHOST among her.  Not just any ghost, some sort of otherworldly slut ghoul that wants to peep her naked body and inject some ectoplasm into her or something.  Clearly then, this is a ghost of a Texas Ladies Man.  They fuck during the guitar solo, right when that sepia-toned train (Freud, much?) crashes into Johnette’s crucifix-fingers.  Hot.

At least nobody picked that Indigo Girls song about being in love with your ghost…




Filed under Alex Storer, Response, Rob Law, Sohrob Kazerounian

Results: Civil Rights Movement

Sohrob Kazerounian

Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam

“This is a showtune but the show hasn’t been written for it yet…” Far from from a showtune, this protest song was released as part of a collection of live recordings from Carnegie Hall made in 1964 and marked the beginning of Simone’s explicit incorporation of civil rights themes into her music (which had already contained political undertones). The song, a response to the killing of Medgar Evans (a civil rights activist) in Mississippi and the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama which left 4 schoolgirls dead, captures Simone’s frustrations with calls for the civil rights movement to ‘take it slow’.

But that’s just the trouble

“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Simone went on to perform the song the next year at the end of the third march from Selma to Montgomery, a five day, 54 mile march to demand that then Governor George Wallace provide protection to Selma’s black population – who were prevented from registering to vote through police intimidation. The day after Simone and others performed, the number of marchers grew to 25,000 – and a speech was given by Martin Luther King Jr. by the State Captiol building. Five months later, the Voting Rights act of 1965 would be passed. Aside from Simone’s status as a civil rights icon, her music is often cited by many musicians as a primary influence on their own work.

Rob Law

Dead Kennedys – I am the Owl

Wiretapping has come up in the news a lot lately, and I just wanted to try and calm everyone down. It’s no big deal!

Disabuse yourself of the notion that wiretaps will ever be used against you or anything you stand for. Nobody peaceful is going to have their communications monitored or their well-being threatened! Hell, it’s not like Martin Luther King, Jr. was wiretapped and harassed for… Oh, that’s right. He was!

Sexual indiscretions as blackmail fodder? Planted letters from supposed civil rights activists demanding King’s suicide? Saint Bobby Kennedy as the authorizing attorney general? What a story!

The Dead Kennedys’ “I am the Owl” was written only a few years after the Church Committee released its report outlining the FBI’s and CIA’s abuses of power. These included COINTELPRO, the counterintelligence program under which King was harassed, as well as MKULTRA, which included dosing unknowing targets with LSD. While I’m certainly a proponent of responsible drug use, I wouldn’t want to be turned loose tripping on the freeway as happens to one of the song’s characters.

But hey, don’t worry! That sort of thing couldn’t possibly happen again!

Natty Raymond

Staple Sisters – When Will We Be Paid?

When will be paid?
That is the question being asked by the Staple Singers, arguably the premier R&B group of the Civil Rights Movement. What is so powerful, so moving about the Staple Singers (besides the fact that their elderly father, Roebuck “Pop” Staple, played bass) is that their music was more than simple protest songs. In tunes such as “Long March to DC” and “The Challenge,” the Family Staple created inspirational and supremely optimistic anthems that challenged the United States to transcend the worst of its history while simultaneously facing it.
It would have been easy for the Staple Singers to simply have been just another angry voice in the fist-pumping chorus of “Black Power” bands calling for the easy tropes of “revolution” and “revenge,” themes which typified the Blaxploitation period in funk and soul music. Instead, the Staple Singers were different. They invited the entire nation to join in that “Long March to DC” and they challenged all of us to move beyond the sins of the past towards a shared future.
However, their songs, especially this week’s special feature, “When Will Be Paid,” speak poignantly of the necessity of justice as a prerequisite to equity. It is a lesson that this country, this world is still struggling to learn.

Soylent Green is made out of people? Who gives a shit! Now you can…


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Filed under Natty Raymond, Response, Rob Law, Sohrob Kazerounian

Results: San Francisco

Jef Doon

MC Lars – White Kids Aren’t Hyphy

When we hear the name San Francisco, we immediately conjure vivid images of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, earthquakes, cable cars, gays, and the hyphy movement.

“San Francisco” represents much more than just a city in California. It’s a state of mind. We all want to escape to a place where seagulls roam freely and sea lions laze all day. We all want to eat delicious Chinese food and watch the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. We all want to be just a short drive from Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. We all want to be able to walk down the street wearing buttless chaps in the middle of the day (well, some people might). And at the end of the day, we all want to get stupid and ghost ride the whip.

In “White Kids Aren’t Hyphy,” MC Lars captures the sentiment that everyone has inside them: we all long for and want to be a part of the city by the bay.

Vishal Trivedi

José González – Heartbeats

There are moments of immediate certainty where you just KNOW that you are meeting a true love for the first time and you can embrace it without hesitation… these occasions are rare and precious. I have been fortunate to experience it twice in my lifetime, and the first was when I moved near San Francisco. The city’s physical charms are readily apparent, with its famed hills and vistas, but what really makes the place so romantic is the sense of intimacy and acceptance that it seems to radiate, something quite unique for a major city. SF will take you as you are. It wants you as you are, no matter where you’re from or what you look like or what you might think. SF will love you back.

This song is by a Swedish band, covered here by another Swede of Argentinean descent. And the video I am about to show you is actually an advert for a fancy TV set. What does all this have to do with San Francisco, you might ask? If you haven’t watched it before, see for yourself:

High Quality .mov

Although the video doesn’t highlight any of the iconic San Francisco landmarks (aside from a hazy shot of Coit Tower), anyone who has been to SF should easily be able to identify it as the setting. Nowhere else looks like this, feels like this. Here, the balls bounce both in chaos and in harmony.

And oh yes, the song itself… As I alluded earlier, the original is a quirky techno-pop number by The Knife. This one is a sweet, intimate cover by José González; both versions are appropriate. I can (and tend to) listen to it over and over again without ever getting sick of it. The lyrics describe… what else? The bloom of an instant love.

Sohrob Kazerounian

Joanna Newsom – The Book of Right-On

Given my particularly indecisive nature, I had a considerable amount of difficulty deciding on a ‘winner’ for this weeks topic (San Fran). Do I choose one of the many songs written about San Francisco, or should I choose an artist who was born out of (and helped shape) the burgeoning music scene that blew up the scene in the mid-late 60’s?

In lieu of either of these options, I have decided on Joanna Newsom (“The Book of Right-On” from her album The Milk-Eyed Mender). I chose Newsom, who I first came across while on vacation with a couple of good friends. Afraid that we would be lost and utterly incapable of finding our way home, my friend handed me his music player, blasting Newsom’s screechy and child-like voice. Playful lyrics like “I killed my dinner with karate / Kick ’em in the face, taste the body” will warm you up, as will the more beautiful and soul-tickling lyrics peppered throughout the rest of the album.

What, then, does Joanna Newsom actually have to do with San Francisco you ask? Well, her cousin is the mayor, and she grew up in nearby Nevada City.

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Filed under Jef Doon, Response, Sohrob Kazerounian, Vishal Trivedi