THE ABSENT

THE ABSENT
THE ABSENT - out now!

CRIPPLED HEARTS

CRIPPLED HEARTS
Out Now - For sale on Amazon and other onlne book sellers

SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju

SOLIDARITY WITH THE FLESH EATING MOSAIC AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju
Out Now

THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju

THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT NINNY AND OTHER POEMS by Raj Dronamraju
My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers www.rajbooks.com

Sunday, February 22, 2015

WHY I WAS WRONG ABOUT INTERVENTION IN LIBYA


I’ll be the first to admit when I am wrong and I was wrong at the time about the US/ United Nations intervention in the Libyan civil war.


Why do I feel this way?  Because Libya has been turned into an anarchy state like Somalia which might have been the intent of the neoliberals and neo conservatives to begin with.  This means the oil flows with no one to collect revenue and monitor and also Libya becomes a convenient source to blame for the next false flag attacks.  We already saw Libya mentioned during the Charlie Hebdo false flag incident.

Libyan society has vanished as if washed away by a tsunami.  Two rival government claim power (One made of Ex Quaddafi associates and the other an Islamic group called Libya Dawn) and there are also numerous well armed groups in the country under one Islamic banner or another.

This is a set-up – for further US intervention and for a target for blame when the US and Israel commit more phony terrorist attacks on the citizenry to further eat away our rights and sow discord in the Middle East in order to allow US/ Israeli hegemony.

I won’t be fooled again.  US intervention post-World War II has been a disaster and I should have known Libya would not be any different.

Friday, February 13, 2015

STEVE STRANGE RIP


Steve Strange wasn’t just the visible face, vocalist, and de facto leader of Visage, he was a trend setter and created the foundation of the new romantic scene in Britain.  He did this two ways 1.) Through his club Blitz 2.) Through his own personal appearance which he promoted and exported.

I am a big fan of Visage’s music and what is especially sad about Strange’s passing is that they recorded a comeback record a few years ago that was actually pretty good.  I wrote about it here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2013/06/music-round-up-june-2013.html

Visage’s take on synth pop dressed up in the blitz fashion was largely devoid of cornball overemoting and dance grooves as the main priority (although they were there).  Rather, Strange’s music had an air of mystery coupled with the celebration of artifice that originally came from glam rock.

One of best aspects about Visage’s music was they did not have a fixed line-up so Strange employed a revolving gang of musicians, the cream of the new wave crop from Ultravox (Midge Ure co-wrote a number of Visage tunes and was actually in an earlier version of the band but left to join Ultravox full time, however still continued work with Viage), Magazine, Bow Wow Wow.  Earlier Visage tunes are often organic filled with guitar (“She Moves”) or bass and drum driven (“Mind of a Toy”).  The band’s most well known song “Fade to Gray” is however full Euro synth pop.

Strange created a scene (New Romantics), he provided its first main hangout, he gave it its look and then he made music for its soundtrack.  I can’t think of another person in music history so in control of a time and place.  A fitting tribute for man whose excellent recorded output would have been enough.


     

Monday, February 9, 2015

IN LOVE AND HAPPY PEOPLE BY PEACE


I neglected to post on Peace’s debut album IN LOVE when it came out in 2013 so I am reviewing both it and their brand new second release HAPPY PEOPLE.

Peace’s debut IN LOVE was like a combination of Stone Roses, early Blur, and in the vocals Oasis.  Swirling Madchester retro versus traditional guitar rock.  Some very good tunes - catchy and complex - Higher than the Sun, Float Forever, Delicious, Waste of Paint, Sugarstone, California Drain, Scumbag (Last two only on the deluxe version).  A groove is present but anchored to a guitar and swaggering britpop attitude in the vocals.

HAPPY PEOPLE turns up the groove considerably and also throws in shorter faster songs with a few slow songs mixed in featuring new touches like an acoustic guitar.  The Blur/Stone Roses/ Oasis influence still is strong but many of the songs now recall a punked up version of the Happy Mondays – Call it the Happy Roses if you will.

The best songs on the album – Perfect Skin, Gen Strange, God’s Gloves, If Music Was to Blame – contrast the swinging bass with the britpop guitar in a tension free party atmosphere.  The big difference between HAPPY PEOPLE and IN LOVE is that IN LOVE partly separated the rock songs from the swinging songs though there was a little overlap.  On HAPPY the overlap is now everywhere.  This is a classic example of a band coming up with a sound and fine-tuning and honing it over their first and second record.  I can’t wait to see what they do on their third.



Sunday, February 8, 2015

SCATTER BY CRUSHED BEAKS


SCATTER, the debut record from UK trio Crushed Beaks, brought to mind two immediate musical memories – The sound of the Housemartins albeit with a bigger backbeat and the guitar sound of the debut album by San Francisco group Wire Train.  I know I date myself as these are both 80’s groups. Early 90’s band Adorable is also present here to my ear.

But Crushed Beaks is not a retro record.  It is suitably engaged in post-ironic distance and the timeless and swirling post-punk guitar style (of course acknowledging shoegaze in volume and dubbing) as to be immediate.  I am an old guy and I like it.  A bearded hipster could also enjoy this music although they do get some heat on in some of the faster songs.  These guys are not particularly gentle or fey.

The first single Overdone puts melody in the driver’s seat while other tunes like Rising Sign and Feelers rock out in mood and atmosphere.   These guys have a great energy but I would like to see them make their song structures more complicated on future releases – Longer song lengths but maybe more diverse in speed.


ON THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF MEAT IS MURDER BY THE SMITHS


Notice a lot of music zines starting to write about the 30th anniversary of MEAT IS MURDER (which is on February 11th). This is one of those records I can remember exactly when and where I was when I heard it for the first time so hard did it hit me, move me, effect me with its delivery of lyrical and musical truths. I pretty much like everything the Smiths did but I still think this is their best record as well as one of my four or five favorite records of all time.

It contains Morrissey’s best lyrics – More complex ,more imaginative, less self-parodying as well as a number of their greatest songs - That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore (Perhaps my favorite Smiths song), I Want the One I Can’t Have, The Headmaster Ritual, and of course How Soon Is Now?

It is also Johnny Marr at his very best. My favorite guitarist of all time and this record is a big reason why – Tons of overdubs, interesting textures, creative arrangements.  I just love the sound he extracts from his instrument.    

THE QUEEN IS DEAD is a brilliant record and often singled out as The Smiths best record.  I enjoy it very much but it is a cut up bouncier less deep version of their music.  Moz as soundbite artist and stand-up comedian, Marr as riff snippet machine.  The genius of it is making The Smiths music more accessible and understandable to all.  As a hardcore fan though, I prefer the deeper, more rawer, more difficult Smiths of MEAT IS MURDER.

Getting back to the songs for the moment, Morrissey has always been the greatest chronicler of the rejected, the lonely, those who can’t find someone who wants to share their life.  He is direct when it is necessary – Shyness is nice but can stop you from having a satisfying life, the DJ never plays the songs that relate to my life etc.  On MEAT IS MURDER there is plenty of directness such as on the ridiculous and carnophobic yet enjoyable title track with another classic Marr lick or How Soon is Now - the Stairway to Heaven for a very different generation.  However, there is much more mystery here than on other Smiths albums such as That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore with its incredible shift in mood, the “it’s too late to be happy, loneliness turned to violence, no satisfaction in finally finding someone because of the horrific, degrading effort it took”.  


Saturday, February 7, 2015

WHY SCOTT WALKER IS THE CANDIDATE MOST LIKELY TO BE THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE IN 2016


At this time, objectively speaking, my feeling is that Scott Walker is the most likely 2016 Republican presidential nominee for the following reasons. (My disclaimer – I no way support Walker or the Republican Party.  This is just my thoughts from an analytical perspective).

1.)  He’s a governor whose state has been both ground zero and a petri dish for all the most extreme conservative ideas in governance to be acted upon most notably anti-union and anti-teacher legislation.  This will pump up the base like none of the other candidates.  Also a governor traditionally has been viewed as better preparation for the presidency.

2.) He’s a bit of blank slate on foreign policy and immigration but that is coming.  He touches the many different wings of the Republican Party (financial, social issues, etc.) in a way that only Ted Cruz does of other potential candidates (And I personally think it’s likely Cruz won’t run)

3.) Despite his hard right position on issues, his public persona is of a bloodless technocrat.  The image in many people’s minds of the Republican Party as a group of crazed lunatics has so far been contradicted by his mild mannered persona.  It will be hard for the Democrats to present him in this way.

4.) He is apparently the most popular candidate of two of the main Republican donors – The Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson.  Money is everything in politics in the USA.

5.) Democratc overconfidence – In addition to the self-created feeling of the inevitability of Hillary Clinton (topic of another post – She’s far from inevitable even as the nominee), I’ve noticed from reading different political websites that Walker is being mocked for his lack of a college degree.  That’s a dangerous and elitist path for the Dems.  Many Americans have been unable to complete their degree due to the rising cost of education.  Not having a college degree is in no way an indicator of intelligence and ability while many lawmakers of both parties are lawyers – Still a hated profession among the general public.  Also none of the various scandals that have been looked into around Walker (most noticeably campaign finance violations) have panned out.  None of them were sexy enough unfortunately to warrant further investigation or prosecution despite the presence of (in the campaign finance case) of e-mails that implicated Walker by himself.

In general, the Democratic strategy of besting Walker so far has consisted of campaign finance accusations, Koch Brothers linkage, and not having a college degree –Pretty weak.  Dems underestimate Walker at their own peril.

We’ve still got a long way to go with many candidate debates to come.  Walker, however, sums up the Republican party now in terms of what he wants to do better than anybody else at the moment.  If you want to see how a Republican president would govern in conjunction with a Republican house and senate, take a look at the career of Scott Walker.


Monday, February 2, 2015

WILDLIFE I HAVE SEEN IN IPOH, PERAK, MALAYSIA


Living in the Malaysian city of Ipoh in the state of Perak affords me a chance to see close-up some interesting animal life I might not see other places.  While Ipoh is a relatively big city, a couple hundred thousand people, the jungle is not too far away.  I’ve been meaning to make a list of the animals I’ve seen since moving here.

1.) THE ASIAN WATER MONITOR –I am continually surprised by how common this large lizard is – I’ve seen them in drainage ditches, in fields,  even walking down the street in front of the Ipoh Train Station.  Where I currently live is only a few blocks from a large river and on my morning walks I often see them swimming and otherwise conducting their life there.  I’ve watched them kill and eat fish as well as fight and mate.  If I was judging the health of Ipoh’s rivers by the number of water monitors, I would have to say they are very healthy indeed.  As far as size goes, I’ve personally seen ones as big as six feet long although the record is ten feet long .

Here are a few photos.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera at the moment and have to rely on my phone.  I was not able to get any shots of the other animals on the list






2.) MALAYSIAN CIVETS – The Civet family is found through Asia and also in parts of Africa.  There are two primary types in Malaysia – The Palm Civet and the House Civet.  I have seen the House Civet a few times (It gets its name because it generally lives near people including in the attics of homes and abandoned buildings).  It has a pretty coat, kind of resembles a large mongoose (its closest familial relative) and a cat, and I’ve watched them climb a tree in a nearby park and also climb on top of power line poles.  All of these sightings took place at night as the Civet is nocturnal.

3.) FRESHWATER STING RAY – On one of my morning walks very early in fact, I saw from the bridge over the nearby river a medium-sized sting ray slowly making its way upstream – Quite beautiful in motion.

4.) THE ASIAN SHORT-CLAWED OTTER- Another bridge sighting.  Malaysia actually has at last three different otter species but this is the only one with a population in the area I live in (The other two species are very rare in general).  It was eating a fish by the side of the river, had a light colored coat, and webbed feet.  I tried to get close to it to take a picture but it vanished into the river before I could get too close.

In addition, I’ve seen turtles a few times once in the river and a number of times in a downtown park not to mention monkeys which are fairly common.

Interestingly enough, despite Malaysia having a large snake population including large pythons and the King Cobra and having been on several jungle treks, I have never seen a live snake, only dead ones on the road.  In California, where I grew up, I had numerous sightings of rattlesnakes over the years.

The crown jewel of animal spotting in Malaysia is most definitely the tiger.  Malaysia has the second largest population of wild tigers in the wild (second only to India) and while the official line is that they are only found in wildlife parks and preserves, there is a good sized population outside the parks some living close to human habitation “hiding in plain sight” as they say.  I’ve met a few people in and around the Ipoh area who have seen tigers and I hope to see one myself one day.