Monday, November 07, 2005

Give And Take

("sighting up" plates at Zion's Gate Records)

It was a little give and take in the Northwest over the weekend. Nature gave the gift of rain and wind, and I took it graciously, along with steaming mugs of soy latte with designs in the foam from Cafe Vivace. Two days in Seattle, one of my favorite Northwest destinations, followed by two in Vancouver were good for a 1) a break from SF's boring architecture 2) a break from SF's lame club soundsystems 3) organic food "on demand" and 4) part one of a two-part reflection on ForwardEver on race and riots in America and abroad.

First, congrats to journalist Jessica Hopper on the release of her latest Hit It Or Quit It zine, featuring a very special "2005: The Year of Men In Rock" edition with Hold Steady, Ssion, Orac Records, Miranda July, MOP and the Sunset Strip. Get it here, now sucker!

Back to the Great North, Olympic Cascadia and Puget Soundsystems. In Seattle at Zion's Gate, I searched for the 7" version of the Morgan Heritage cut on the Seasons riddim, "How Come," the most overlooked/unlistened to cut on what is the best riddim of 2005. Jah Cure's "Love Is" and Sean Paul's "Never Be The Same" are getting all the spins, but its the Heritage lick and Jah Mason's "Far From Reality" that deserve your ear's attention. Regardless, ZG had multiples of the Jr. Gong "Jamrock" US promo 12" (with the dub instrumental) and the excellent remix b-side, "Lyrical 44" feat. Red & Mepf. I plucked a Jr. Gong "Khaki Suit" seven from the bins, found a classic dubstep bin-wobbler from Darqwan and was Audi in 15 min flat. Easily a vacation vinyl shopping record.

The rest of the trip was spent at the SAM (which is expanding by triple, leading me and my partner to surmise that it'll include luxury lofts and market itself as "Museum Living...", listening to EXP and in the nes watering holes, chopping it up with my man Kento from IQU and Bogling at Baltic Room's dancheall night. Seattle you were proper. Cold and wet, but proper fun.

Wish I could say great things about Vancouver, but besides its supposed healthy employment market (14, 000 unfilled 6-fig management jobs the local headlines screamed--apparently none of jobs are in clubs or underground recreation) it was Blandcouver. Sure, you could find a Starbucks or Blendz on every corner of downtown...but zero Wi-Fi, and cultural offerings in that city rarely were more exceptional than a Roots concert at a 3000-person theater, or the random downtempo lounge night in West Van. Instead, I was greated by a legion of Hot Hot Heat cut-outs, all with black coifs, tight jeans, white belts and Chucks, most being Caucasian or Asian. Try and find a black man in Vancouver; I saw only two.

Which leads me to think that, like in rip-roaring rioting France, the poorer browner folks (which I know from anecdotal knowledge include many, many Persians, Nigerians, Arabs and South Asians) are living the suburban outer rings. My drive though these areas revealed haunted strip mall landscapes that rivaled the charm and glamor of, say, Shickley, Nebraska. Beneath the Socialist veneer, a volcano simmers. Same here in the U-S-of-A, as my future posts will explore. Concluding with Vancouver: a night in watching a Mystic River DVD took the place of the city's sparse electronic offerings.

However, surplant my cynacism with repeated viewings of the North's magic natural wonders; cloud formations, farms, mountain ranges, stands of tall leafy trees, aquatic bays, and oceans whose waters churned with autumnal energy. That for four days was plenty 'nuff to straighten my head out.