Monday, July 30, 2007

Bells Were Rocked

It's a done deal. Newly reformed Rage Against The Machine and most of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan have rocked the spot at this years NYC stop of the 2007 Rock The Bells festival. My wife and I were there for day two.
The show was at Randall's Island located directly under the Triboro bridge. The stadium, currently undergoing construction, proved to be a difficult experience for the average concertgoer. Where the old concrete seating once was, a strip of the partly built new seating now stood. All of these areas were naturally fenced away from the people making places to lounge almost non-existent. It was consideration good in theory to place lots of porta-potties all throughout the venue, but the end result - it just plain stinks. Imagine yourself trying to eat food around that. My wife and I didn't have to use our imagination. For a good three hours starting at Immortal Technique's set and ending before Rakim's set there was a downpour. I rationalized it as paying dues for no hot sun and humidity, as the people experienced at day one. My last gripe before I break down the entertainment has to do with the crowd control staff who remained incompetent and ignorant of simple tasks and knowledge about the venue. Having your civil liberties violated is degrading and dehumanizing. Being told that you and less than a dozen of people can't leave one way because they blocked off a grip of people waiting does not fly. And for the female staffer who started a shouting match with my wife when we told her we had to leave to get home to our baby girl - you get the infamous four-lettered. Okay, now that I got all that off my soul, the first set we saw was Immortal Technique's. His politically radical, street revolutionary style energized and informed the crowd. His brother, rapper Diabolic and C-Rayz Walz joined the stage as Immortal did tracks off the Revolutionary series and also included "Bin Laden" for good measure. Pharaohe Monch brought his A-game with a high level of excitement and a live band to a crowd that were mostly uninterested or preoccupied. He still gave an excellent performance, pulling out some oldies as well as doing some of the new ones from 'Desire'. Talib Kweli caught a concertgoer urinating in a cup and called him out on it. On the second stage, Brother Ali seemed to be gaining new fans with his earnest and personal rhymes while Mos Def was working the main stage. Rakim along with Kid Capri flipping different beats behind the ones and twos gave an all-out tremendous performance. Breathing new fire into his classics and rocking the crowd, it was unforgettable. For some reason, Erykah Badu was a no-show which pushed Cypress Hill up a few spots, causing small stampedes of drunk and weeded white people to rush the stage. Slug and MURS (Felt) traded rhymes on the second stage about women and Slug made it a point to tell everyone that he loves California. Public Enemy, powered by Flavor Flav did justice to all of their classics including a special guest appearance by Scott Ian from Anthrax for "Bring The Noise." Flavor Flav then shamelessly thanked everyone for making his reality shows on VH1 popular. Then to our right we heard some noise coming from the second stage again. I looked carefully to what appeared to be a fat man wearing a green jersey. I was very confident he was wearing a metal mask too. There lied the definitive conflict of interest: do we go see a few minutes of Doom before the Wu take the stage or do we stay put because they could show up any minute? We made the right choice and stayed put. Very soon after that, we saw an image on the stage's backdrop. Could it be the Shaolin Temple? Indeed it was the Wu, represented this time with the RZA, GZA, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, U-God, Masta Killa and Method Man. A high-energy performance from the Clan reciprocating from the crowd, they did most of their catalog one or two verses deep each and did a track off the upcoming '8 Diagrams' album. Displaying their street savvy, they incorporated Cypress Hill's "Hand On The Pump" chorus into one part of their rhymes. The Wu also did a tribute to O.D.B. (Shimmy Shimmy Ya) and asked the crowd to join in the spirit. Headliners Rage Against The Machine took the stage and all of the crowd's culminating energy exploded when they went through their material. Guitarist Tom Morello's sharp signature stylings were executed well and frontman Zack De La Rocha's politics were slightly updated with a call to try George W. Bush as a war criminal to be hung and shot. To deal with the aforementioned weather and stadium issues were the dues to be paid. We got to experience a lot of quality music as bells were rocked, and a lot of money was spent this weekend.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

When Thuggin' It Out Turns To Huggin' It Out

Pulled from the headlines:

WASHINGTON - Police on Capitol Hill are baffled by an attempted robbery that began with a handgun put to the head of a teenager and ended in a group hug. It started about midnight on June 16 when a group of friends was finishing a dinner of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp on the back patio of a District Of Columbia home. That's when a hooded man slid through an open gate and pointed a handgun at the head of a 14-year-old girl.

"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he said, according to D.C. police and witnesses.

Everyone froze, including the girl's parents. Then one guest spoke.

"We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, told the man. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The intruder had a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupery and said, "Damn, that's good wine."

The girl's father, Michael Rabdau, 51, told the intruder to take the whole glass, and Rowan offered him the whole bottle.

The robber, with his hood down, took another sip and a bite of Camembert cheese. He put the gun in his sweatpants.

The story then turns even more bizarre.

"I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said before apologizing. "Can I get a hug?"

Rowan, who works at her children's school and lives in Falls Church, V.A., stood up and wrapped her arms around the armed man. The four other guests followed.

"Can we have a group hug?" the man asked. The five adults complied.

The man walked away a few moments later with the crystal wine glass in hand. Nothing was stolen, and no one was hurt.

Once he was gone, the group walked into the house, locked the door and stared at each other — speechless. Rabdau called 911, and police came to take a report and dust for fingerprints.

Police classified the case as strange but true. Investigators have not located a suspect. The witnesses thought he might have been high on drugs.

"We've had robbers that apologize and stuff but nothing where they sit down and drink wine. It definitely is strange," said Cmdr. Diane Groomes, adding that the hugs were especially unusual. "The only good thing is they would be able to identify him because they hugged him."


Information from: The Washington Post,

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