Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Do the Damn Thing! Albany on Blast!

This one is strictly for my mami, who is in Albany right now finishing up the NY State Bar Exam. This post is intended to send out the good vibes to her, although I know that she is going to come through this with flying colors. Why am I so confident? Well, since she left, I have seen a man in pants that had apples (red and yellow) all over them, a midget was on Blind Date (the television show) with a regular-sized person, and the cat jumped nearly 4 feet in the air to catch a fly. If those aren't good omens, I don't know omens. Plus, she is brilliant and smart and prepared, meaning that she done the damn thing! Come back to the Illadelph ASAP, as the cat keeps making cheese curls.

Good thoughts are going out to MF, EC, LD, ML and anyone else taking this exam this week. I am certain that you will all pass, and will be doing real big things at the end of the summer.

-I couldn't help but smile when I saw this article in Slate looking at one of our favorites, Rachael Ray. She is the host of 30 Minute Meals on the Food Channel, a cooking show designed for the average person who doesn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen nor spend a lot of money to make a meal. Her enthusiasm, giggle, and use of entire sticks of butter (and occasional 50 Cent quote) hooked me immediately, and she has become a staple of my TV viewing from 6-7 pm. It ain't Charlie Rose, but it is an enjoyable, fun show.

Unfortunately, the very qualities that endear her to me has made her the bane of the foodie community. Go here for the meanest site, Rachael Ray Sucks, which proves that these critics are quite creative with their titles. Read the ongoing dialogue and you will need no more proof that the Internet is frequented by sad, lonely, pathetic idiots. (Go here for more proof.) Their constant insults about her appearance also proves that the mirror industry will be out of business shortly. Go here and here for more hating, as they froth at her use of common ingredients, her ditzy personality and anything else they can come up with.

-Here is the funniest thing I have read in a minute. This woman has put together a list of Rachael Ray comments from her show that come across as sexual innuendo. Again, only funny to me and MC, perhaps, as she has had to put up with my numerous observations about Rachael's penchant for sausages. Whatever.

-MC told me this week of the prevalence of poop, pee and semen on bedsheets and blankets in hotel rooms. I thought that this was ridiculous, but the story was confirmed by AJ, meaning that it had to be true. I was horrified at this thought, whereby I have laid my face on some other dude's poop molecules or touched a semen-stained remote control. This is not right, people, not at all! All of this made this article all the worse, the equivalent of the hotel concierges roughing me up, then dunking my head in the toilet, which was just used by an entire convention of retired cops. Step your game up, Hilton and Marriot and Howard Johnson. Change the fucking sheets every day, for real. Oh, and wash your hands. I mean, really.

Check back later, as there will be a massive music post. Don Omar mp3s, links, and a look at a new site or two.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ivy Queen

Ivy Queen, Guillaera

Ivy Queen, Tuya Soy

Ivy Queen, Quiero Saber

Ivy Queen, Tu No Puedes (remix)

Ivy Queen, Quiero Bailar

Okay, this one's for the ladies. Reggaeton is often referred to as Spanish hip hop. While I think that is a stupid, condescending tag, there are similarities. One unfortunate one is the lack of female artists on the mic (or behind the boards or in the boardroom). It is rare to see female reggaeton stars, which is not surprising considering the dearth of women in hip hop's much-longer history.

The exception to this rule is Ivy Queen, the First Lady of reggaeton, La Reina de Reggaeton. She succeeds in this man's world, as she is one of the most popular, respected artists in the genre. I am not sure what the perception of her is with the hardcore fans, if she is seen as a sort of a token figure or what. Having heard her albums and mixtape appearances, I believe that she has earned her lofty position. I mean, it's not like reggaeton, dancehall or hip hop are incredibly PC or open to women's voices. They usually have to have skills better than the average guy in order to get a listen, if you know what I mean.

Above are a few mp3s from her album, Platinum Edition Diva, which is all the proof that you need that Ivy is for real. While I feel like she could do better in the album name game, these songs are heat. She comes more from the Daddy Yankee school (which I am attending in the fall incidently) with aggressive songs that are made for the dancefloor or for bumping in your car. Her lyrical style matches the music, as she projects the rough, gangsta bitch image. Actually, she seems to be following the template for women in hip-hop, bringing the gangsta shit with the occasional softer, feminine songs. While the format is tired, her songs, talents and lyrics stack up with any woman making hip hop in America.

The first two tracks are the two most popular off of the album, getting the video treatment and all. The last three tracks are remixes only on the Platinum Edition of her best-selling and most-acclaimed album, Diva. Let us know what you think of these ones, as we are nearing the end of our look at reggaeton (for now). Stay tuned for Don Omar.

-Speaking of divas, say it ain't so, T.O. I mean, really, say that this ridiculous mess you have created isn't really happening. Say it was really just a stunt to pass the summer away. Tell me that you will report to camp, and honor the contract you signed last year (!!!!). You remember last year, when your team went to Super Bowl XXXIX and lost by three points. When you had the city of Philadelphia and Eagles fans in your hands, you have ruined that, proving yourself to be an obnoxious, ignorant (see quote below) individual. I hope that the Philadelphia Eagles do not budge, but I would imagine that Terrell Owens will talk his way out of town. I can't add much to Phil Sheridan's piece from the Sunday Inquirer, as he discusses the idiocy of this plan, or lack thereof, for Owens and his agent Drew Rosenhaus. Go here, here and here (for godsakes, you pissed off Mormons!) for some better rants on Owens and his recent behavior. I will add that I am thinking of sitting out, as well, unless more fucking people live comments on this blog. Don't test my gangsta, people!

-Quote of the week: “At the end of the day, I don’t have to worry about what people think of me, whether they hate me or not. People hated on Jesus. They threw stones at him and tried to kill him, so how can I complain or worry about what people think?” --Terrell Owens, talking about Jesus Christ or Nas, I'm not totally sure.

-Quote of the week (runner-up): "You've got to score to win." --Charlie Manuel, Phillies coach, presumably auditioning for the role of Sherlock in "No shit Sherlock." I think that he has the part. [via thebmrant]

Friday, July 22, 2005

Reggaeton in Philadelphia

I just wanted to drop a quick post here, since Thursday seems to be reggaeton night here in Philadelphia. I had originally intended to post this yesterday as a preview of the night ahead, but decided to hold off on it when I realized that I wasn't totally sure what events were going down in Philly last night. There will be some mp3s up later today, probably from Ivy Queen or Don Omar, so have no fear.

The main event last night, which I have attended each time since its inception a few months ago, is Esta Bien at Silk City. This is the monthly put on by the G-13 Sound crew, a Philly crew dedicated to the music of reggaeton, hip hop and dancehall. I cannot recommend this night more, as it is a great opportunity to hear the music and see how dancebable and exciting it is in a live setting. G-13 dropped a few reggae and hip hop tracks last night while I was there, but they are so focused on reggaeton. I give them huge props for sticking to their guns, as this music never struck me as diverse or varied enough to make a whole night out of it. They have proven me wrong, as the crowd last night was the biggest and most energetic I have seen. Unfortunately, these guys have no web site or presence online, making it impossible to give more info on them. I hope to remedy this in the next few weeks, as I would love to get permission to upload the wonderful mix they gave out on the opening night of this monthy. More to come on them, and I will obviously give a heads up next month about Esta Bien.

The confusion last night stemmed from a listing in the Philadelphia City Paper about a weekly, Mucho Mas Thursdays, at the Wax Bar in Old City featuring many of the same DJs. I assume that this did not happen last night, and instead will become a weekly starting next Thursday. I hope to come up with more info on this, as it sounds like another nice night.

Finally, Fluid Nightclub has a monthly jawn devoted to reggaeton, called Reggaeton Xplosion, but it seems to have moved to the second Thursday of the month. This one features DJ Juno, and is supposed to feature live acts, all brought to you by Section 8. I have not checked this night out yet, but hope to make it next month and I will let you know what's going down there. Here is a flier for the opening night, and go here to check out Libertad Records site, which is the label behind this night and a great source for Latin American music.

Okay, I am not sure that this has been at all helpful. Sorry for the weak info, but there is not much shit on the Internets about these nights yet. Reggaeton seems to just be bubbling up in the clubs of Philly, so I hope that Pound for Pound can be one of the first to report on these developments. If you know of any reggaeton events in Philadelphia, please holler at your bol.

On a similar note, I would love for Pound for Pound to be a source for what's going on in Philly and other cities, a place to hear about cool shows, exhibits, readings, etc. So, for any DJs, artists, writers, creative people doing big things, send along news of upcoming events or projects. I am always willing to try to get the word out about creative people in Philly (or any city), bringing energy, ideas and passion to the urban environment. Holla at your bol at the email on the right-hand side.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tego Calderon

Tego Calderon, Abayarde

Tego Calderon, Pa Que Retozen

Tego Calderon, Guasa, Guasa

Tego Calderon, Los Difuntos

Tego, Tego Calderon. Tego, Tego Calderon. Pound for Pound keeps the heat on, in step with this brutally hot July. Time to take a look at another major figure in this music, Tego Calderon. Calderon is not as well-known to the novice as Daddy Yankee, perhaps, but he is as respected and loved as anyone making music in the world today.

The best way that I can put it is Calderon is sort of the Puerto Rican version of Bun B. Yes, yes, I know that this is a forced and ridiculous comparison, but bear with me. Calderon is the talented artist, the one who may not sell the most CDs or be on Total Request Live, but who is the choice of those in the know. His presence on a mixtape or concert bill confers respect, a situation far more desirable than the one-hit wonder. He is a living legend, unfuckwithable, respected for his skills.

Here are a few tracks off of his first album, El Abayarde. This is considered a classic reggaeton album already, despite the fact that it was just released in 2002. It is another great purchase for anyone looking to check this music out and has no idea where to start. For me, it is the best thing I have heard in the genre, an amazing album that I come back to often. Reggaeton is my summer music, and Calderon's album is my first choice.

Check out the mp3s above, and it should give you an idea of how amazing Tego is. Whereas Daddy Yankee tends to have an aggressive lyrical style (with the beats to match), Tego has the more versatile and impressive skills. He can bring the anthem style, putting out a club banger to get the girls shaking their asses, but he can also lay back and showcase his lyrical skills and content. His music also seems more flexible and open, reflecting reggaeton's myriad influences more explicitly. You can hear the sounds of salsa, bomba and plena, the sounds of the islands providing the more laid-back feel.

-Go here to check out Tego's home page, as it is the best source for news and videos. Be warned, it is not the easiest site to navigate, unless you speak fluent Spanish.

-Good news on the 76ers front, as the team announced that it had resigned two of their young free agents, Willie Green and Kyle Korver. It's a necessary move, and is hopefully a sign that the team is going to commit to playing both of these guys more minutes this season.

-In much more important news, check here to view an attempt to come up with the all-time All-Ugly NBA team. Great stuff, as I had no complaints with their choices. I have always considered Tyrone Hill the ugliest athlete ever, as he seemed almost exo-skeletal to my eyes, a sort of 21st century homo erectus. However, taking a good look at Gheorghe Muresan has forced me to reconsider. Yikes, tough looks all around.

-I wanted to highlight a few more great basketball blogs, which all seem to be the product of the same two people. End of the Bench and What's Really Good are getting to be required reading for me, as it is nice to see two other people who obsess over basketball even in the depths of July and August. Don't forget to check out Straight Bangin', which looks at politics and hip-hop, a mix dear to me.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Saul Williams and Catchdubs

Saul Williams, Real Niggery Volume 1

I have been meaning to post this up for the past week or so, but I have not been on top of my blogging game recently. Anyway, this was originally posted up on Catchdubs, free for download and recommended for upload. It is the mixtape that Nick put together for Saul Williams, the spoken-word, hip hop artist, with Nick bringing his remix and blend skills to this nice intro to Saul's music. Since I am guessing that this had a small pressing, this might be your only chance to hear this and get up on a new, exciting artist.

Anyway, for those who have never heard of Saul Williams, he was a legendary figure in the spoken word movement of the 90s. His starring role in the indie film Slam brought him acclaim and slam poetry to the world. Logically, it is his verbal skills that set him apart. I first heard him on the track "Lists of Demands" from his solo debut last year, which Catchdubs has used as his base. What struck me most was the passionate, political lyrics that never came across as preachy. Unlike the Common-Roots-Talib Kweli axis, I felt like this was an artist talking to/with me, not down to me.

Download the entire mix. Unfortunately, I do not have the track listing, so perhaps someone can fill us in on the song names or provide a link to get the info. Check back during the week for lots of reggaeton heat, in honor of the reggaeton events in Philly this week.

-Go check out Catchdubs, as he has been dropping lots of link goodness. More to come on him, as I finally copped his mixtape this past week.

-I have alphabetized the links list on the right (OCD people stand the fuck up!). There will be some additions this week, which I will let y'all know about. I hope that everyone had a great weekend, in spite of the sweltering heat and torrential downpours. Pound for Pound va a conseguir muy caliente esta semana, as there will be lots of Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Tego Calderon, Ivy Queen and reggaeton remixes for your listening pleasure. This is the music that is killin' it for me this summer, and I hope that it will become your first choice for July and August, my dear readers. By the way, that Spanish is supposed to say "Pound for Pound is going to get very hot this week." Please let me know if it does not read this, and instead says something like "Pound for Pound likes to show his sexual parts to invalids."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

An Apple Store for Philadelphia?

I am sure that many of you are wondering what happened to the mp3s, as you patiently await the return of Booty Week or Month or whatever the hell I called it. They will be returning shortly, as I am going to do a whole week dedicated to ghettotech, that filthy, dirty, booty-obsessed music that came out of Detroit.

First, I would like to offer a brief explanation (i.e. an excuse). A few weeks ago, a tragedy occurred for me on a day like any other, when I plugged my iPod in to transfer the new songs that I had uploaded into iTunes. Unfortunately, my computer took that time to freeze up, forcing me to test the validity of the message on the screen: Do Not Disconnect. It turns out that iPod don't lie, as I lost all of the songs I had on it. Subsequent attempts to restore the songs exposed a problem with the iPod, as it was clearly broken. After a tantrum and nap, I confronted a bleak future where I would not be able to listen to the Three 6 Mafia on my way to work. I must thank MC here, the wonderful woman in my life, who has let me borrow her iPod until I got mine fixed.

Okay, while I am great at whining, that is not the point of this post. In trying to get my iPod repaired or replaced, I learned that the closest Apple store to Philadelphia was in King of Prussia, PA or Marlton, NJ. I was shocked. I do not have a car, which meant that I was shit out of luck. This is unacceptable, dear readers, unacceptable. Philly has to have one of the largest concentrations of Mac users in the United States, as evidenced by two unauthorized Mac stores and the tons of Macs one sees at cafes and parks around the city.

This got me to thinking. Why is there not a Mac store in Philadelphia? Why are the suburbs getting so much respect from Apple? What can Pound for Pound do to change this situation? I came to imagine a new Apple store going up in Philly, much like the Apple Center that went up in Soho neighborhood of Manhattan in 2001. The Soho flagship store is a massive center for Mac users, a visually stunning store that fits in with the brilliant design concepts of the company.

I see a similar flagship for the Philly region, as it is time for Apple to acknowledge that this area deserves something better. I definitely could see them setting up shop in the Rittenhouse Square area (perhaps Chestnut Street above Broad, where every new establishment seems to be happening) or on Broad Street, where there is still way too much open space, providing a chance to really make a splash. Or how about in the area a few blocks east of Broad, Center City East, around Washington Square. Some of the trendiest stores are there already, providing an environment similar to Soho. Old City? Possibly, although the neighborhood's foci seem to be restaurants, clubs, bars and condos. My choice would be Northern Liberties. No, not because I spend most of my time there. It just seems like a good fit, as Apple always has assumed the role of the alternative, artsy, cool. This fits real well with NoLib, and I can totally see them rehabbing one of the old factories or shells down there.

Oh, one other idea I had. They should choose one of the more progressive architects in Philly to design the store. I was originally thinking of Robert Venturi, the dean of postmodern architecture and Philly icon(oclast). But, perhaps Apple should use one of the young, upstart firms that have been making a home in Philly over the last decade. This would be a great opportunity for one of these firms to gain a bigger profile, which again would benefit the city in the long-run.

Okay, I won't waste too much breath on this, since it is clearly fantasy. I will update this post later tonight, and try to give everyone contact info to demand a Philly Apple store. I feel like this can become a project for Pound for Pound and its readers, as it shall take a nation of millions to hold us back. I also wanted to put the focus on the retail situation in this city, as I feel like it needs some attention. It has been called to my attention that Philly is not seen as a retail destination, as many people go to NYC to buy clothes, shoes, etc. We are still not seen as a retail destination for luxury brands or major retailers. While this has little impact on my life, it does seem like an area that Philly could improve on and that is enough for me. Does anyone know of a way to influence companies to locate here? Is there someone in city government who is supposed to be working on this issue? Are there any stores that readers would like to see in the Illadelph? Leave comments, and check back soon for resumption of mp3 ish.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Philadelphia Freedom

I want to drop a few more July 4th Weekend posts, as it was a real great weekend for Philadelphia. The actual holiday featured a concert on the Art Museum steps by the one, the only, Elton John. Year in and year out, this concert has been a diversion until the fireworks go off at 10 PM. This year, Mark Siegel, the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, stepped up and put together a meaningful event, bringing in Elton John for a concert and making this entire event an AIDS awareness- and fund-raiser for John's charity.

A few thoughts on all of this, despite the fact that I'm sure that you're sick of me talking about this weekend. First, I hope that everyone takes note of Siegel, who exhibited the attitude that Pound for Pound has always harped on, a can-do, creative, driven vision. He spent a year or so working on this, and brought off a major event. He dealt with Elton John and his organization, the city, and the unions. I am sure that it was frustrating at times, seemed impossible at other times, but he pulled it off. Take note, everyone.

For the city, it's another success. Things went off perfectly, at least from my vantage point watching on TV and reading about the day after. It's funny, as this event was overshadowed by Live 8, which took place two days before. Rightfully so, as MTV and the world's eyes were on us last Saturday. However, I am not sure that everyone has contemplated what an amazing event happened Monday night. The city of Philadelphia devoted its July 4th to the cause of fighting AIDS and spreading awareness of a disease. The same city that elected Frank Rizzo, a man who used fear and predjudice to his advantage, held a concert whose fundraising benefits groups fighting against AIDS discrimination. The same city that was synomous around the world for dropping a bomb on the supporters of MOVE hosted two concerts over the weekend that stressed compassion and charity. The same city that has been synomous for police brutality had a peaceful weekend with hundreds of thousands on the streets. As the Piano Man himself said, "This is an incredible step for a city to go through." As the article says, "The city in effect turned over its annual July Fourth Parkway festivities to an AIDS benefit." Daniel at Young Philly Politics was already on this story, dishing out kudos to our Mayor.

All of this begs the question: Why can't this become the norm for the city? On a practical level, this weekend should provide a blueprint for the July 4th weekend. N0 more Beach Boys concerts, with John Stamos drumming (for reals, that was one of the 4th concerts when I was a teenager). This holiday should bring our city to everyone's minds, and a major event should happen. After all, this is the birthplace of the nation, and this is the holiday to celebrate said nation. More to come on this topic, as I hope to brainstorm some ideas, and perhaps my dear readers will join in. I see that Karl over at Philly Future has already brought up this idea, and issued a call for ideas.

-Go here for the reaction in the blogosphere to Live 8 and the Fourth of July weekend in Philadelphia. Props to Philly Future, which really took the lead on this event and gave readers all the info and opinions one could need. PF has really become a pivotal source for anyone interested in the city of Philadelphia and what is going on here. The on-site reporting alone has made it a nice addition to the daily papers and a daily read in its own right. Go here, here, and here for upbeat looks at Philly and its work as host for Live 8 in said papers.

-Thanks to EC, and most importantly, our host MF for making the night a fun one. I got to watch the fireworks from the top of the city, and it was worth it. Top of the world, Ma, top of the world.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I Survived Live 8 and All I Got was a Lousy T-Shirt

I hope that everyone survived the long weekend, as it was a long, hot, crowded time here in Philly. That's right, people. Pound for Pound stuck around Philly for the July 4th weekend, braving the mass influx of tourists and suburbanites who came for the Dave Matthews Band and stayed for the African poverty.

I don't have much to add to the many accounts on the Internets about Live 8 and the Elton John concerts on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. MC and I checked out the Live 8 scene briefly on Saturday, as I wanted to see how many people were in attendance. While the idea of being a part of history was enticing, the image of being surrounded by large groups of people doused in alcohol in sweltering heat held as much appeal as a rectal exam. Upon making it to Logan Circle, my instincts were vindicated in full effect. There were people everywhere, in all of their sweaty, shirtless, burnt skin, alcohol fueled glory. The groups of men, loosely defined, were unbearable, participating in the age-old fun of harrassing women who dared to show up to a public event. Best of all, our brief visit was concluded by being screamed by teenage Lyndon Larouche supporters for not wanting to take their flier against Bush and the War in Iraq. (Leave it to Larouche and his morons supporters to make me seem like a Bush supporter!)

Okay, now that I have gotten this off of my chest, let me get to the good things. This was a wonderful weekend for the city of Philadelphia. Everything went off as well as possible, with few arrests, no major snafus in planning, and great weather. People behaved themselves, treating each other, the performers and city with respect (for the most part). The city did an excellent job putting together this mega-event on short notice. The no-car zone for Center City was a stroke of genius, and only made me dream of making this a permanent thing. No cars in the city!!! No cars on the Parkway!!! Yay!!! Mayor Street deserves the credit here, as he has assembled a great team around him, who made this a special event.

For Pound for Pound, the nicest part of all was seeing the name Philadelphia right there besides London, Toronto, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, et al. The idea that people around the world were seeing Philly, perhaps for the first time, warmed my heart. The fact that our city was chosen as the American host could not be missed. I don't know if this will lead to more international tourists or immigrants (I secretly hope so, but doubt it will), but it did put our name alongside some of the greatest cities of the world. This status leads to my next point, another central theme of this blog.

I feel like this concert's major impact is on the psychological level. I know, I know, this sounds like a crock of shit. But, for anyone who has lived in this city before the 90s, it won't sound far-fetched. There is a mindset in place in this region that the city is not capable of doing anything well, that we are inferior to NYC and DC, and that it is pointless to try to change the status quo here. This entire Live 8 experience should add another brick to the wall of confidence (sorry, I couldn't help myself) that is being built. Philly was able to put together an event for hundreds of thousands of people on short notice, with the eyes of the world on us. This was a complete success, confounding the doubters who love to revel in Philly's faults and mistakes. In short, the haters need to go to sleep now. Philly is working to become a world city, an open, creative, vibrant center. All of those who do not believe this is possible nor want to contribute to achieving this goal, go away. You are a relic of the past, and must get out of the way.

Finally, the pictures above are the t-shirt that my mother bought me as a souvenir. At some point this past weekend, she clearly had a psychedelic experience. There is no other explanation for a rational, functioning adult to purchase anything tie-dyed. I mean, really who buys tie-dye? Who throws a shoe? Anyway, I love my mom, but this purchase will never see the light of day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy Fourth of July!!!!

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July! Blogging will resume tomorrow with a well-rested, patriotic Pound for Pound.

In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful picture by MC, which captures a Philly house in all of its patriotic splendor. Actually, it's a really beautiful Philly house, as I know that I didn't grow up in no home with a garden or balcony. Thanks Mom and Dad. For nothing. Love the graf on the fuse box in front, and the American flag hanging off of the balcony in the soft light of a hot summer day. It seems a perfect image for this past weekend, which I will get into shortly.