Chicha, or Peruvian cumbia

In the late 1960’s, the influence of popular western music mingled with the indigenous musics of the West Amazon to produce Chicha (which is also a corn-based libation), or Peruvian cumbia:

There’s an excellent compilation of this stuff (apparently the first such comp made available outside of Peru) from Barbès Records, streaming on youtube:

Here’s an excerpt from the comp’s Barbès Records description (which seems to offer a pretty comprehensive historical explanation):

The music was so fresh, so exciting, and its appeal so effortlessly universal that it still seems strange that it never managed to find an international audience. The oddly post-modern combination of western psychedelia, Cuban and Colombian rhythms, Andean melodies and idiosyncratic experimentation was close in spirit to the pop syncretism of Brazilian Tropicalia bands such as Os Mutantes.

But unlike Brazilian Tropicalia, Chicha was not an intellectual movement. Its main proponents were working musicians who mostly came from poor backgrounds. Their job was to make people dance. They didn’t travel to London. No discourse was elaborated around the music. It never became popular with the Peruvian middle class. Art students didn’t embrace it. Critics and intellectuals didn’t write about it. As a result, the music was scorned nationally – and largely ignored outside of Peru.

Buy it at

And here’s one more:

¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido! (and Rzewski’s and others’ variations thereupon)

Quilapayon were a leftist Chilean folk band component to the Nueva Canción movement. They wrote the lyrics to this wonderfully catchy protest song from 1973:

This brand of politically charged folk music spread across Portugal, Spain and Latin America, and seems to have picked up the popular inertia which American political folk music was losing (now that we have the common archival power of the internet, that great aqueduct of data, we can glean that there has for most of the last century been consistently great, however obscure, political music in America, a la Death, etc.)

A friend of mine remarked today that the best music throughout history was non-secular – that he thought (or as I recall) maybe in order to focus your creative intent most effectively (i.e. more accurately commit to reality the mental image of the protean art) it was necessary to channel the belief in some higher power.¹ We agreed that the higher power didn’t really have to be godly, and with that in mind this hopeful, endearing political anthem seems to have a similar reverence to the ecclesiastical stuff we like.

American composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski wrote The People Shall Never Be Defeated! in 1976, a brazen tribute to the recent failed leftist movements of South America from which the titular piece was derived, a piece in which “The pianist, in addition to needing a virtuoso technique, is required to whistle, slam the piano lid, and catch the after-vibrations of a loud attack as harmonics,” so sayeth wikipedia. See for yourself, in another raw balls performance by Steven Drury (part one of three):

El Pueblo Unido has been adapted into many languages and its lyrics conformed to variegated political purposes worldwide, including an Iranian version whose title apparently translates roughly to Arise, Demolish the Foundations of the Enemy’s Palace! (pending actual translation).

Where is American folk music going, and when is American political music coming back?

1 – This model of course assumes that it’s better to accurately cast into reality your vision of your art-stuffs. In reality I concede a great deal of artistic trust to chance, as I’m sure many creators do.


Charles Ives

charles ives

“This song is for wankers with too much time on their hands”

Haha, unfortunately for this commentator, this forty-eight minute sonata takes just as long to listen to as any other forty-eight minute piece of music.

I’ve heard that there are people whose names, pronounced Shuh-theed, are spelled Shithead. Urban legend?

review: If Thousands – For

What I like about Duluth, Minnesota duo If Thousands is they’re unpretentious (having chosen to play instruments they weren’t trained in when they started in 2000) and their music is unobtrusive without being spineless.

Silber Records’ artist profile of If Thousands describes them as ‘angst laden slumbercore ambient’ [sic] – and I can’t stand how accurate that is – but For rides a slow, angular tension which belies a motivation more complex and driven than angst. This is big, open music; its function is undeniable, but its purpose is elusive – and that’s a good thing.

A mellow first few tracks of nearly static chord interaction usher complacency as they stay the minimalist course; this ends with an abrupt, discordant forewarning from the keys, dropping back into place before the fourth track, a moody bass and violin piece that belongs in the fifteenth episode of Firefly. That’s probably the last unexpected event on this album.

Competent in the craft though they are, you might find yourself wishing they’d push harder, challenge your participation and/or your ear-holes, which they’d probably do well. If Thousand drones with a drawl, and it’s surprisingly claustrophobic, outdoorsy. It’s music for in-between places, but not necessarily transit.

It’s notably difficult to make noise without being overindulgent, but If Thousands are anything but, and in this record present a tastefully stated argument for less harshness in your drone meals. Alternately sweet and disjointed, For attracts more than it repels, which admittedly isn’t what many prefer from a guitar/synth duo, but there’s much to be said for music that gives you space to do the thinking.

Bottom line: If Thousand’s For exemplifies the saudade of the Midwest.  Though more variety of composition is needed, it’s a solid, hankering statement about gentleness in musical experimentation.


Listen/buy here ($5)

No grits – day one

Just shared my first and last cigarette so far today with my brother, on this the first day of the big cold turk. The withdrawal, unremarkably, breeds aggression and anxiety; brooding results. Booze does not help. Nothing helps.

I’m reminded of the Colorless M&M review from McSweeney’s New Food Reviews:

Colorless M&Ms

Submitted by Michael de Leeuw

In the midst of the grayest, coldest winter in thirty-seven years, the candy man has taken the last pigment from my bleak existence. I commute, I work, I eat lunch, I work late, I go home. Daylight wakes me up but does not sustain me and does not figure into the rest of my life. My office building is a tower of ugliness in lower Manhattan, and I spend far too much of my life—my prime—here. Somewhere outside, there is a nineteen-year-old film student drawing on her cigarette and getting used to the mouth-feel of her new tongue stud. I will never meet her. Somewhere outside, there is an ignored old man on a park bench with a head full of stories that would captivate anyone who would dare to listen. I won’t dare to listen.

And now Colorless M&Ms. They are white, black, and shades of gray. I try them after lunch. They disappoint. I know I am losing my mind: it’s the same candy! I work on a brief and distractedly reach for more. Again, they are not the same. I have lost my mind. I walk down the hall and everything is black and white and gray. I feel panic set in. I duck into a conference room to compose myself. I lean my face against the cool window and look out on the chunks of ice floating in the Hudson River. They are gray. The snow in Battery Park is gray. Tomorrow, I will buy Skittles.

Separately – but somehow parallel – is today’s discovery of Load Records, whose auspicious roster includes some wildly great groups (Harry Pussy, the Hospitals, Yellow Swans, Sightings).

Updates on not having any grits, Load Records, the South Miami election and The Bens forthcoming.


Kitchen’s Floor / Nanne Tepper

Here’s a lovely, rainy 7″ from the wonderful Kitchen’s Floor and a stoned Dutchman’s plaintive, endearing rant on rock n roll.

Kitchen’s Floor, Nanne Tepper, y’all can stay at my place if you’re ever in South Florida.

More generally, I’m going to try to put the best of my innaneps here daily, so expect frequent short-format posts of little consequence and you’ll not be disappointed.


South Miami Election Guide 2014

Politics produce more laughter and anguish than anything else, and there comes a point where we must choose the former reaction lest we herniate with rage. South Miami election campaigns are underway, and they’re as hilariously hernia-inducing as ever. While this will attempt to serve as a (not impartial) guide to the candidates, it will also describe some of their idiosyncrasies, and will endeavor to add some levity to what is too often a frustrating, sad aspect of our democratic republic.


The mayoral candidates

 The three candidates for mayor are incumbent Mayor Philip Stoddard, Commissioner Valerie Newman and local barbershop owner Rodney Williams.

The clearest way to illustrate the vast difference in professionalism between these folks is this: Newman and Williams don’t have websites, blogs, or any personal online forum to platform their ideas (or if they do, they’re not well-used or easily found). I will allow them the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is not meant to conceal insidious political leanings, but a failure this basic paints them as disconnected and probably incompetent personal and public communicators.

Mayor Stoddard, a biology professor at FIU, has a frequently used and well-maintained blog ( which he uses to offer neighborly advice to, and solicit input from, his community. What really pushes Stoddard to the fore of this pack are 1) his forward-thinking environmental activism and awareness, and 2) his unquestionable role as the astoundingly fair and honest arbiter of the city council (if you’ve ever attended or seen a circus South Miami Commissioner Meeting and observed his calm and industrious attitude, you’ll know this is self evident).

In lieu of the dearth of official information on Newman and Williams, my best educated guesses at their motives (culled from years of local news coverage) are that Newman is an obstructionist driven more by ambition than public service, and that Williams is an opportunist looking to bank on the black vote (upon which Commissioner Newman famously told then-commissioner Randy Wiscombe to ‘screw’ [the black vote]). While Mr. Williams may indeed have valid and constructive ideas about how to serve as a South Miami Commissioner, his inability to communicate this to the people of this city wholly discounts him from consideration. (The most certain thing I can say about Mr. Williams after cursory research is that he charges $10 for ‘eyebrow arching,’1 which sounds like something I can photoshop for free.)

Regarding Newman, besides her clear indifference towards black people’s votes, she seems to conduct herself in Commission Meetings with all the passive aggressive charms of an elephant in heat (q.v. the infamous video wherein she repeatedly shames a city volunteer for a lack of qualifications, which divulges a huge misunderstanding on the part of Newman regarding the meaning of the word ‘volunteer.’) Here’s an excerpt from the Miami Herald‘s recent article on the candidates: In 2011, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust dismissed a slew of complaints against Newman, but issued a letter telling her that “rude, boorish and tyrannical behavior by elected officials, while perhaps not actionable under an ethics code, is inexcusable nevertheless.”’


Furthermore, she writes in South Miami News2 (like an ineffectual marketing exec no less, capitalizing the word ‘image’) that ‘Branding and Image are most important’ for the city’s beautification. Also, she wants South Miami to have a boutique hotel. Gross.

Have I mentioned that Mayor Stoddard is considered a state leader in clean energy advocacy, and has outstanding marks on

Verdict: Stoddard all the way

election guide - stoddard

*eyebrow arching courtesy of MS Paint

Commissioner – Group IV race

 The race between CommissionerWalter Harris and disgraced former mayor HoraceG. Feliu is as simple a choice as Rocky versus Ivan Drago, good versus evil, or bacon versus no bacon. Horace Feliu, while acquitted, was charged with three counts of election fraud during 2008’s elections, so I feel the term ‘disgraced’ is warranted. The Miami New Times described him as the kind of guy who hires ‘volunteers’ (yet another misuse of the term) to hold his signs and ferry elder voters to the polls: “…old people provide the essence of democracy. Indeed, they were being bussed in to the polls like cattle in a variety of “volunteer” cars and vans. Here’s Feliu’s wife preparing a van for a load of old people. She rode shotgun. …The incumbent added that people complaining about hired drivers and sign-holders were just bitter that they didn’t have any volunteers or money to pay for such things.”3

Now that Mr. Feliu has turned your stomach, let’s reflect upon what he’s accomplished in his four years away from politics:

The Nativity Conspiracy cover

Yes, this is real. Horace G. Feliu wrote a Da Vinci Code ripoff a-la Nicolas Cage (q.v. National Treasure films) about biblical aliens, or something. Following is the most informative of the novel’s five (5) Amazon reviews:

(2 stars) Really? December 15, 2012

By Kathleen B. Havener

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

This book was too stupid for words. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Two thumbs and two big toes down.
Feliu, like Newman and Williams, incredibly doesn’t appear to have a website of his own to communicate his ideas. (I mourn the fact that these prospective and extant politicians haven’t done us voters the small favor of making their values and ideals known through anything other than community newspaper quotes – is this the result of conceit or incompetence?) The first google result for ‘Horace G Feliu’ yields a biography – Smashwords is an e-book publishing company with a specialty in erotic fiction, which we can only hope doesn’t describe Feliu’s opus – and this bio is tagged with the telling terms ‘ancient ufos,’ ‘jesus alien,’ ‘ufo bible aliens,’ &c, and mentions that Feliu is working on a sequel to The Nativity Conspiracy. From ignoring his constituents’ scruples with Florida Power & Light to his chronic inability to correctly use facts, the list of his slights against the people of South Miami goes ever on; with his laughable epistolary hobbies, election abuse and indefatigable demagoguery, this would be an easy decision were he running against a chimp.

Thankfully, opposing Feliu is incumbent Commissioner Walter Harris, who resides at the opposite end of the integrity spectrum, and is not a chimp., his campaign website, touts recent endorsements from Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, The Sierra Club, the mayor of Pinecrest, and many local citizens and activists (many of these endorsements overlap with those of Stoddard). Harris stands with Mayor Stoddard against FPL’s schemes to abuse their monopolistic relationship with taxpayers (superfluous transmission corridor extensions and new reactors at Turkey Point, etc.), and helped prevent a boat yard from being built in Matheson Hammock. These are just the latest in his efforts to preserve our verdant community’s environment (and taxpayer wallets from predatory business practices). In pop music terminology, Walter Harris is to Horace Feliu as Freddy Mercury is to Justin Bieber.

Verdict: Walter Harris (will rock you)

election guide - harris


Commissioner – Group I race

 The final commission seat up for grabs is that of Commissioner Valerie Newman (not eligible for this seat as she’s running against Stoddard for mayor). This is big – reelecting Stoddard will kill two proverbial birds: it’ll keep the best man for the job in office and remove a spiteful hack from the city commission. The candidates are Gabriel Edmond, local history teacher and former congressional aide for Senator Bob Graham, and Donna Shelley, a grant writer with a background in arts management.

The sometimes off-color5 but benign Commissioner ‘Bicycle’ Bob Welsh endorses Edmond (along with Stoddard and Harris), while Shelley’s in the same camp as Newman and Feliu. So effectively, there are two groups of candidates: the Stoddard gang and the Feliu/Newman/Shelley group.

In comparing statements issued to the Miami Herald from these candidates, the distinction is manifest: Edmond talks about the community and its future; Shelley talks about herself and her credentials.

Verdict: Gabriel Edmond



Bottom Line

 Stoddard and his sometimes bumbling allies are well-meaning local politicians who’ve inherited a legacy of corruption and incompetence, and are now tasked with running against folks who are just the latest incarnation of a dysfunctional status quo. How can local editorialists6 be surprised with the mess of lawsuits, payouts and blown opportunities in the South Miami goverment’s recent history when the only players exhibiting signs of sanity have been fighting against corporate-funded mudslinging7 and working amidst a team of ambitious obstructionists?

With luck, the ne’er-do-wells will be replaced with less incompetent and more sincere public servants and this small city’s commission can get down to the business of righting a decade of mishandled government.



  6. Miller, Michael. “It’s Time for the Voters to Decide.” Editorial. South Miami News 4 Feb. 2014: 1+. Print.