Monthly Archives: December 2012

Jeff Mills Live with Montpellier Orchestra

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This has got to be one of  the most innovative collaborations in music history. Techno wizard Jeff Mills performing live with Montpellier Orchestra in 2005 at the base of Pont du Gard bridge, France. The perfect marriage of classical and electronic music, this amazing collaboration demonstrates the versatility of techno and the sheer brilliance of Mills’ compositions.  From his humble beginnings as an aspiring DJ from Detroit to having his tunes conducted by Alain Altinoglu, Jeff has certainly come a long way in his career. It’s a real treat to hear classics such as “The Bells” and “Sonic Destroyer” performed live by an 80 piece orchestra to an enthusiastic crowd of ravers and music aficionados alike. I can’t say it enough – JEFF MILLS IS GENIUS! 

 

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HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY MDMA!

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Source: fkinghateit.blogspot.com

Image: fkinghateit.blogspot.com

It’s Christmas Eve, a time when a significant number of Earthlings happen to be feasting, fighting and fucking under the mistletoe. I would think by now, dear reader, that you would be happily engaged in some festive gangbangery but if you happen to be reading this article, mo’ power to you!

Fuck Santa and his Merry Elves. There is no way I could live with myself if I didn’t give a MASSIVE BIRTHDAY SHOUTOUT TO MDMA – THE WONDER DRUG THAT’S HERE TO STAY !!! HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!!!

Now I’m curious to know as to whether any of you, during all of your pill popping, jaw clenching escapades ever thought, “Dude, like, where does MDMA come from? And who invented it?” If you answered yes, then it means you weren’t freakin’ high enough.

Until fairly recently, I thought MDMA might have been invented in the 80’s. So I was blown away to discover that in fact, it has been around much longer.

Let’s travel back in time to early 1912, Darmstadt, Germany. Native scientist, Dr. Anton Köllisch, is commissioned by drug giant Merck to come up with an alternative to hydrastinine, a styptic (blood clotting agent) previously patented by Bayer. While experimenting with methylhydrastinine, a similar compound (so as not to infringe on Bayer’s copyright), Köllisch discovered an intermediate chemical which he considered rather interesting. He subsequently named it 3,4-Methylendioxy-N-methamphetamine. Köllisch brought this bastard baby to the attention of his superiors. They weren’t altogether sure exactly what to do with it, but they thought the discovery was significant enough to file patents, which they did on December 24th 1912. So if you want to get technical, MDMA’s birthday was back in May. However, I thought it would be fun to celebrate MDMA’S 100 birthday on Christmas Eve. You do see the delightful irony in this right? The timing  is highly symbolic, as Merck’s actions heralded the dawn of a new era in chemically induced self-exploration. There was no way they could have predicted the huge impact MDMA would have on millions in the not too distant future.   

 

Ecstasy - the happy result of MDMA

Ecstasy – the happy result of MDMA

Despite the nefarious efforts of the Anti-Fun Brigade to banish the main ingredient to Ecstasy, it’s definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. Hell, even my grandchildren might end up dabbling in the thing. I’d much rather smack a cigarette out of their hands than discourage them from using Ecstasy, that’s for sure.  As a matter of fact, E is currently enjoying a surge of popularity in England. Manufacturers have apparently exploited a loophole in accessing the precursors to making Ecstasy, which have allowed them to produce pills of high quality for the first time in decades.

It’s like giving the royal finger to authorities, who’ve embarked on a major Ecstasy smear campaign over the last little while. If anything, prohibition is the problem, not MDMA/ Ecstasy itself. It is obvious that it’s time for governments everywhere to reconsider their hardline stance towards psychoactives in general. As of November 2012, legislation has been passed in Colorado and Washington, U.S.A., legalizing marijuana for personal use, albeit with some restrictions. It’s not perfect but at least, it’s a step in the right direction! Let’s hope that one day, MDMA will be recognized for its medicinal value, and be given the respect it deserves in like manner.

Source: E, the Incredibly Strange History of Ecstasy by Tim Pilcher.

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Strange Sightings Issue # 383

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Photography by Frankenräver

Wow, it’s the official start of winter and it’s snowing right on schedule! With the much publicized end of the Mayan calendar looming large, strange things are bound to happen. Like Armageddon and a shitload of cash mysteriously deposited into my bank account. No I haven’t stocked up on tinned food and candles, but I do have a couple of flashlights. Only one has batteries though….anyway, just in case the Internet is still around but I’m somehow relegated to cosmic dust, I thought it would be fun to commemorate this historic occasion by posting what could possibly be my last issue of Strange Sightings. Now I’m gonna run out and score that last copy of The Zombie Survival Guide …BOOYAH!!

WHAT NOT TO BUY FOR CHRISTMAS

Well it’s that time of the year where millions of peeps run around like chickens ugly sweaterwith the neck cut off, spraying psychically violent gore and expletives everywhere in search of that elusively Perfect Gift. With the recession in full swing and malls noticeably less crowded, gifthood is getting increasingly more difficult to come by. Enter The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Guaranteed to make foes out of best friends and fuel bitter estrangement between relatives, U.C.S. will most surely create resentment in the darkest recess of otherwise joyful hearts. (“I can’t believe Ange brought me that f*&k!ng ugly ass sweater!”). But you most likely won’t hear anything about it…til the repressed anger surfaces six years later after one eggnogg too many. Ultimately, the Ugly Christmas Sweater scenario is best avoided unless you have an old-fashioned auntie or uncle with eclectically hideous taste. You’re much saver giving Bobby a Grinch hat instead. At least he’ll get the humour.

BOY BITES FISH

This strikingly bizarre mural occupies a stretch of wall on Queen Street West. I fishboytried to convince myself that this boy was not biting a live fish. However, the ominously pained expression of anguish in the animal’s eye really begs the question. If human beings could eat live octopi and scoop brains out of a quivering monkey’s skull, what’s to stop ‘em cannibalizing fish? Note how close the boy’s mouth is to the body, as he squints with studied concentration. Is he merely looking at the fish in curiosity or taking a humongous bite? Undoubtedly, the animal squirms in unfathomable agony. Whether this is from lack of oxygen or from the excruciation of being bitten I will never know for sure. Apparently, the artist has decided to torture unsuspecting passersby with this unfinished piece, thereby creating an unsolvable dilemma, thereby fomenting emotional malaise in art lovers as they stroll happily down the sidewalk. Look up and you’re confronted with an image that confounds the daylights out of you, with skillful execution and disturbing ambiguity. Sinister? You bet.

MUNDAY MUNDAY

One of the things I love about London are the street signs. Think about how OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcool it would be to say, “I live on Coke Street!” (that’s in Shoreditch by the way). But who’d want to claim bragging rights for Munday Road? Personally, I’d feel like I’m sentencing myself to a lifetime of small office hell with such a mundane addie fixed to my moniker. Shudder… But if you think that’s bad, check this. Pudding Mill Lane conjures up wonderful images of Bill Cosby hawking chocolatey treats in many a North American mind. I thought, “What a swell address!” Then I found out that street was named for the tripe that fell off carts carrying butchered animal carcasses centuries ago. Munday’s prospects just got brighter.

PEE ALLEY

The perfect signage for horny couples and piss filled alkies. Just in case you pee alleywere wondering where to go for hormonal or instant bladder relief at 2 a.m. London is a city famed for its efficient use of signage. And at this rate, soon Toronto will be too.

madpusherPUSHER’S SERENADE

Another gem from Mad Magazine, Issue Number Seven. Heroin is aptly portrayed as the proverbial monkey on the junkie’s back. And the poem’s a spoof of an actual song too. What a wicked job that must have been…getting high on your lunch break so you can come up with amazing sketches on drug propaganda. “I’ll be bleeding you – Cause soon the reefers that you puff / Won’t give you wild kicks enough/ You’ll move up to that “mainline” stuff!” One would hope that George Woodbridge (the artist) didn’t seriously believe that crap. But the anti-drug message gets to ya anyway. And therein lies the brilliance of Mad. Fucking with young, impressionable minds everywhere. Classic! 😉

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Martha Wash: Queen of House

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Martha Wash

Martha Wash

When it comes to belting out powerhouse vocals, few can compare to the inimitable Martha Wash. This legendary diva has racked up a slew of chart-topping hits during a career spanning well over three decades. She is the lead vocalist on C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” (released 1991) which was a massive dancefloor hit. In addition, Martha provided lead vocals on Black Box’s landmark album, “Dreamland” (1990). Despite the phenomenal success of the aforementioned acts, there was one glaring omission from the spotlight: Martha Wash herself.

 

The Weather Girls with Martha Wash (l.) and Izora Armstead (r.)

The Weather Girls with Martha Wash (l.) and Izora Armstead (r.)

At that time, Ms. Wash was a much sought after session vocalist within the music industry. Her previous credits included a stint as back-up singer for disco sensation, Sylvester, and as the other half of the bodacious female duo, Two Tons o’ Fun, formed with the late Izora Armstead. They had scored a major hit with “It’s Raining Men” (1982), a dance floor and gay club classic before they disbanded in the late 80’s. Martha was subsequently tapped to do lead vocals for C+C and Black Box. However, she was not credited on the liner notes as the original vocalist. To add further insult to injury, Martha was not included in any of the live performances or music videos promoting the aforementioned acts from that period.

I remember when “Dreamland” took the airwaves by storm during the early 90’s. When “Everybody Everybody” first reached my nubile ears I was like, “Whoa – what’s this?” It was fresh yet soulfully slick, upbeat and ultimately radio friendly. Black Box had accomplished an enormous feat: bringing house music into the mainstream. The stylishly hip video featuring a tall, svelte, attractive sista caught my attention and that of millions of my peers, who were tuned into this new sensation. It received heavy rotation on Much Music and VH1, among other outlets. I thought, “She looks like a model AND she can sing like that? Damn…lucky!” It seemed Black Box had it made. More delectables followed: “I Don’t Know Anybody Else,” “Ride on Time,” “Open Your Eyes,” and “Strike It Up.” Fandom ignited. I bought both Dreamland and the remix c.d. of all the hits from that album. I never thought to question, “Hmmm….who’s really making the music?” I was sold on the image of the attractive sista and the songs themselves, accepting what I was being shown as factual.

A few years later, the proverbial shit hit the fan. The fallout was huge (no pun intended). Martha Wash emerged from the shadows to announce that she was the vocalist behind Black Box’s hits, as well as C+C Music Factory and Seduction (“You’re My One and Only True Love”). It came as a shock to yours truly to know that BB’s frontwoman was a French model who lipsynched her way through live performances and was featured on the cover of the album itself. The message: fat women aren’t pretty enough to be famous (unless they’re funny). Apparently, label execs had decided that Martha was too big to sell records, despite her earlier chart-topping success with The Weather Girls. They somehow managed to convince Martha that her image was “unmarketable” but her chops were solid gold. Gold that they so desperately needed minus the image of the magical goose. One can only imagine the immense emotional anguish Martha suffered, watching from the sidelines as the songs she provided vocals for became massive hits with a skinny model miming her parts while she remained ignored, forgotten.

Wash decided enough was enough and finally put her foot down. She took the labels to court and won, receiving royalties and proper credit for her contributions. As a result of her landmark case, legislation was enacted in the United States, making it mandatory for vocals to be credited on c.d.’s and music videos. At last, Martha had reclaimed her right to be respected not only as a talented singer, but as a human being. Normally, this kind of experience would crush a person with less moxie, but not Martha. She had the absolute audacity, the utter nerve to demand that as a fat woman with formidable talent, nobody could make her invisible any longer.

Ugliness ensued. Remarks were made to the effect that many actually sympathized with the labels’ decision to exclude Martha’s image from their marketing. “Yeah, I can understand why they did that; she’s too big,” was an oft heard sentiment. There was no question that sizewise, Martha Wash was big. But did that give the parties involved the right to discredit her involvement as a vocalist? Hell no! During the scandal that followed, I saw for the first time, pictures of Martha Wash.  Personally I thought that although she was plus size, she was very pretty. I could not understand why they would not want to use her image. She wasn’t a size 4 but she was far from hideous. This debacle proved to be an eye opener. I realized that meanness didn’t stop at high school, but continued far beyond it. The people that were grown up, that should know better, really didn’t. If they could misrepresent a singer on their albums and videos, what else were they capable of? Mind you, this incident occurred during the post-Milli Vanilli period. As a result of that scandal, the general public became aware that on occasion, window dressing tactics were covertly employed in the music biz, all in the name of aesthetics. Subsequently, this paved the way for Wash’s case to be recognized as an indication of serious flaws within the system that needed to be rectified, in order to safeguard the integrity of recording artists.

To her credit, Martha recovered, dignity intact, and went on to record number 1 hits under her name such as, “Carry On” and “Give It to You” (1993). The unstoppable soul diva created her own label, Purple Rose, in 2005. She is very active as a performer within the gay community, having supported numerous events and causes. This can be interpreted as Martha’s way of showing gratitude for all the love and support she has received through her many ups and downs. Just as many gays refuse to accept being marginalized about who they are, so did Martha. Her rich, booming voice has graced dance floors around the globe, and that is a testament to her triumph over adversity.

The good news is that attitudes towards plus size women in the music industry are changing, with the success of vocalists like Susan Boyle, Jennifer Hudson and Adele. Record honchos are realizing that at the end of the day, talent matters more than dress size. Consumers are informing them of this fact by supporting artists that, in many instances, resemble them. Any business that ignores this upward trend is guaranteed to miss out – bigtime.

Perhaps Martha Wash’s story serves to exemplify the importance of demanding respect for one’s abilities, in a world that equates thinness with talent and beauty. It is also an example of how we sometimes allow others to dishonour us in order to gain acceptance. Self-negation might seem rewarding in the short term, but often comes at high personal cost in the long run. By remaining silent about exploitation, we give others permission to continue taking advantage of us. Recognizing your own self-worth is key to reclaiming your power. Then and only then can we attain the rewards we so richly deserve. As a true survivor, Martha said it best in “Carry On”:

I stand alone in the eye of the storm

Pressures  all around, tryin’ to wear me down

But I hold tight to what I know is right

Still can hear the way, mamma used to say

Never, never let your spirit bend

Never give in, to the end I carry on.

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.