Meow Mix – Random Gum of January 2018 soundtrack

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Meow Mix – Random Gum of January 2018

Follow me on Spotify.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/comraderadmila/playlist/2k0qZu0AIqoePAqcBYeepW

01 Grace Lightman – Halloween is Over
Because Halloween really is over
02 Inspiral Carpets – This is How It Feels
Lonely and nostalgic
03 Robyn Hitchcock – Raining Twilight Coast
“Just one thing, baby, you forgot my heart”. Glasgow in May
04 Soccer Mommy – Switzerland
“i trace and memorize your curves and lines until my fingers start to bleed
we could go some place alone
don’t you see
we could go somewhere it snows
just you and me
we could go to switzerland
never come back home again “
05 Calypso Valois – Amoureuse
06 Luwten – Double for Me …You don’t want to need but need to know what you want/You think that if you need too much you’ll end up with none…
“What you said is not what you meant
You haven’t quite figured it out yet”
07 Lykke Li – Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone
Sweden
08 Nap Eyes – Alaskan Shake
Nova Scotia
09 Moonface, Siinai – The Nightclub Artiste
Pretty prolific Canadian from delightful British Columbia
10 Elvis Perkins – While You Were Sleeping
11 Niobe – Hawaii Duet
12 Summer Aviation – Thrust
Old friends
13 Nana – Gato é Crime, Denuncie
meow… meow…
14 DRINKS – Hermits on Holiday
For beloved grumpy would-be hermits and mugwumps
15 The Amazing – Perfect Day for Shrimp
Why, Swedish, of course…
16 Black Marble – Iron Lung
17 Vashti Bunyan – If I Were
A name-dropping opportunity
18 Lily & Madeleine – Devil We Know …Come the memories, come the shivering cold, let the rain fall…
Better the liar you know…
19 Fats Domino – Every Night About This Time
RIP – 2017
20 Al-Masrieen – Asef Gedan
Egypt. Cheers to Aurélien and Cat
21 Moon Palace – Shapeshifter
Is a person a liar or just a shapeshifter? …Seattle
22 Sylvia Striplin – You Can’t Turn Me Away
23 The Third Bardo – I’m Five Years Ahead of My Time
24 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Pilot …A tough-love motherfucker, who was born a clown…
“What could I say? What was I after?
I forgot, but you figured it out for me again with your radio silence”
25 Sevdaliza – The Language of Limbo
Iranian-Dutch
26 Over the Rhine – Faithfully Dangerous
Memories of the 1990s. “I wonder which part of this will leave a scar”. Ohio.
27 LCD Soundsystem – Emotional Haircut
Glasgow in May?
28 Anchorsong – Butterflies
29 David Cassidy – I Think I Love You
RIP – 2017
30 Cults – Right Words
31 An Luu – Pourquoi tu me fous plus des coups?
32 Christopher Owens – Heroine (Got Nothing on You)
33 St Vincent – Sugarboy
34 Sébastien Tellier – Drunk on the Radio
35 Luwten – Indifference
Netherlands
36 Maggie Rogers – Alaska (acoustic)
“And I walked off you
And I walked off an old me”
37 Kyu Sakamoto – Sukiyaki
The old days: Japan
38 Laibach – Drzava
Slovenia
39 Otis Redding – That’s How Strong My Love Is
You can’t not love Otis
40 Eivør – Salt
Much love to very music-loving colleague, Eva
“langt burtur úr landi
hómi eg gráan av minnum
lati aldurnar taka meg
føli djúphavið darra
havið er í mær
er saltið í tárunum”
41 Tropic of Cancer – The Dull Age
42 Helado Negro – Lengua Larga
Ecuador-USA
“Abre tu boca que quiero conocer
Adentro
Y hay un gran vacío
Conocido”
43 Sound of Ceres – Gemini Scenic
For twins of all kinds: birthday twins, astrological twins, lost twins
44 Patio Furniture – Please, Please, Please Let me get what I want
A song for the hardy, sturdy patio furniture
45 Neşe Alkan – Kaçma Güzel
Turkiye
46 Acetone – Shaker
47 Aimee Mann – Knock It Off …You had your chances but now they’re gone…
“Seattle finally couldn’t hold her”
48 Summer Aviation – Angle of Attack
Old friends, lovely sounds
49 Coparck – A Dog and Pony Show
Netherlands
Martina! Here’s to, if not the end of dog and pony shows, at least new and exciting ones
50 Shura – Nothing’s Real
“I’m a dead girl walking
I need medicine”
51 Salma Agha – Barish Men Main Khari
52 Natalia Lafourcade – No Más Llorar
Mexico
“No más llorar
Sé que ya lo nuestro no tiene remedio
Pero no más llorar”
53 Anna Burch – Tea-Soaked Letter
Detroit
“I forgot to fake
The way that I was feeling
I guess it’s too late
Now all my cards are showing”
54 Malena Zavala – Should I Try (acoustic)
Argentina
55 Mdou Moctar – Iblis Amghar
Tuareg/Niger
56 Softer Still – 1993
England, of course
57 Ages and Ages – How It Feels
Portland, Oregon
58 Jaws of Love – Love Me Like I’m Gone
Thanks, with love, to Andreas
59 Heartless Bastards – Marathon
Cincinnati (why are people always surprised that Ohio has not only a bunch of cities but a ton of bands?). Not my kind of marathon, but okay…
60 Marta Kubišová – Cesta
Requisite Czech. Love to Martina, dearest Anne and Mr MI
61 P.P. Arnold – Medicated Goo
Good goo of random gum and love and life
62 Hatchie – Sure
Australia
63 Mattiel – Not Today
“Everything’s okay – but maybe not today”
64 Cinnamon Tapes – Cinnamon Sea
São Paulo.
65 France Gall – Les sucettes
RIP – 2018
66 Xenoula – Tororoi
South Africa/Wales
67 Essaie Pas – Futur Parlé
Montréal, bien sûr
68 Jonathan Bree, Clara Viñals – Say You Love Me Too
Thanks to Tom
69 Julia Holter – Don’t Make Me Over
The simplicity of this song makes me overly emotional
“Don’t make me over
Now that I can’t make it without you”
70 Angel Olsen – Fly On Your Wall
“I found a feeling inside
Or should I say it found me
I turned into someone I
Never imagined I’d be”

Africa 101: Togolese radio, stereotypes and Africa in small doses

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“What is Africa to me:
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang?
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?”

-Countee Cullen – “Heritage

Like many “westerners” (or whatever you want to call us – which is a group of mixed, all-over-the-place folks), I never used to give much thought to the specifics of the African continent. It was some “other place” I had not seen, dreamt of or had feelings about one way or the other. It was not really included in any appreciable way in my education, and I did not know anyone from Africa or who had been to Africa. Thus, it was a nebulous concept – just “Africa” without subtlety and nuance. It was not unlike the application of this blanket term “westerners”. What does it even mean?

Of course when I got older, it dawned on me that Africa is a vast place and the diversity was something I could not even begin to fathom. If each state of the American union, sharing a common language and currency, can each be as different as they tend to be, then the countries and regions of Africa would have to dwarf American diversity in some ways (although of course America is a land of immigration, making it a strange concoction as well. In fact most western countries, through years and years of immigration activity, have become their own strange concoctions).

Still, despite the few little tidbits of specific information I gathered haphazardly – nothing systematic about it – Africa was still just a jumble of faces in magazines or on tv, stereotypes, unusual names, places with ever-changing borders, names and leaders but nothing cohesive.

I could swear I had written about this “incremental introduction to Africa” in a previous blog entry before but cannot find any evidence of it now. All I can find is someplace that I wrote: “It seems that it does not matter how much one protests that Africa (especially sub-Saharan Africa) is not just one monolithic entity. Most will continue to treat this massive and diverse continent as though one remedy, one answer, one strategy works for the entire place.” Not that I was ever that different before really giving it some thought and consideration and a lot of time learning.

Where did all the questioning start? I cannot pinpoint an exact moment. In elementary school, when I was a child, I had absolutely no exposure to Africa or anything of direct African origin, other than some carved wooden turtle knick-knacks my grandmother gave me. They were “made in Kenya”, which she informed me was a country in Africa. It sounded so far off and exotic – very hard to comprehend. Later, in elementary school, our social studies textbook mentioned “Mba, Aubame and Bongo” – the only thing I learned about Africa in my entire public school education. The fact that I remembered only their names and a picture but nothing about where they came from shows only how disconnected this piece of information was from anything else. It was as though the textbook creators wanted to mention Africa but did not really have anything to say about it. (Later, of course, with these disconnected names floating around in my head, I checked into it to discover that these men were figures in la politique gabonaise.)

Later, as late as university, I felt a real elevation in my consciousness about this idea of “Africa” as a monolithic entity. A musician from Ghana, Obo Addy (RIP, 2012), came to my university and lectured about this topic – and it was, even though obvious, as though a light came on. The light of ignorance versus stupidity. Haha. No, I wasn’t stupid – I just didn’t know and, like most people, had no reason to think about these things. How did Ghana differ, I started thinking, from Nigeria, or from Gabon? How, even, did North Africa differ from sub-Saharan Africa? As ridiculously surface-level and limited as this sounds now, for 17-year-old me, it was all new. Meanwhile many of my classmates had spent parts of their lives in places like Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire (I want an Ivorian passport – it has an elephant on the front!) and thus had this air of experience and of being cosmopolitan. They had such a different worldview – or seemed like it – and I had no reason or circumstance to know more than I had before this point in time. I suppose this is partly what filled me with an awkwardness and feeling of inadequacy – that my life then was so sheltered and limited in scope. Even my aspirations, reflecting on it, were so puny and plodding. In a comparative light, my experience, despite being mine, just felt like nothingness. My closest encounters with Abidjan were little French-language profiles in my high school French-language text when we were optimistically introduced to all kinds of characters in le monde francophone. (Naturally I also enjoyed our little vignettes of the Swiss, Canadian, Tahitian and Martinique francophones!) To this day, it is hard to imagine spending part of childhood in some part of Africa (again, high school viewing of the Claire Denis film Chocolat should fill that gap in some one-dimensional, take-a-quick bite kind of way).

But then, all my knowledge about “African things” comes from “take-a-quick bite”, almost accidental approaches. From the strange trend in my life of meeting a string of strange men from Gambia (either in the Turkish fruit-and-veg store I frequented in Oslo to being seated next to a Gambian on an Icelandair flight) to the unusual way that Congo (formerly Zaire) keeps popping up in my life (watching When We Were Kings, reading a book about Congo that I found in Trondheim, Norway, seeing a film about Patrice Lumumba and thinking that maybe – just maybe – there was a mention of Lumumba in a schoolbook in my childhood, but that might just be wishful thinking. It’s hard to resist a story with names like Lumumba, Kasa-Vubu and Mobutu Sese Seko), it is as though I am meant to absorb Africa in small doses.

There was the strange flood of postal letters in both English and French that I received from misguided but hopeful suitors from Togo that put Togo on the map (quite literally) for me. Years ago when I was very active in the postal pen pal community, I used to exchange “friendship books” – small, decorated little booklets one might make for herself or a friend that included some info on interests and the postal address. You would send this to a pen pal, who would include his/her information and forward it to another of their pen pals and so on, until theoretically, this little booklet would be full of decorated pages and addresses of new potential friends. Occasionally these booklets would make their way, somehow, to African destinations. Normally this resulted only in a few unwanted letters (many people actually made a point of specifying on their friendship book pages: “No Africans!” – it still strikes me as kind of a horrible generalization but I imagine people had their reasons). In many cases – and very likely for a good many others – it resulted in a few weeks of receiving 50+ letters, daily, from men in Togo who were, according to their letters, “very excited for our marital relations to begin”.

I had no idea who these men were – where were they getting my address? Eventually one of the letters explained that they had heard an ad on the radio – someone was selling the addresses of women in the once-again-undefinable “west” seeking African husbands. All these guys had paid some undetermined amount of money to get their hands on addresses of women who had no interest whatsoever in an African husband. I imagine some enterprising, entrepreneurial type got his hands on one of these friendship books and used it to make a bit of cash. (Advertising on the radio seems a bit weird, but then I don’t have a clue if the radio in Togo is a normal means of advertising.) After seeing probably 400 or more letters come to my postbox, I really could not take it anymore. I just started throwing them away without opening them. Receiving the letters suddenly felt at once creepy and sad.

But I had my little slice of Togo and took in information I would not otherwise have had.

I met a French guy who had African parents (from Ghana and Benin); I knew quite a bit about Ghana by that time, but Benin was a bit mysterious. I managed to learn that Benin is the only country in the world (or at least at that time) which counts voodoo among its state religions. Voodoo, widely associated with Haiti, is only so associated because of the slave trade. It actually came from places like Benin.

I worked with a guy who was part Tanzanian, part Norwegian, who remarked on the “personal space bubble” of northern Europe. If you were to get on a bus, for example, in Tanzania and sit alone, the next person who got on the bus would sit down next to you – somehow being alone or perceived as lonely or wanting personal space is not perceived as “normal”. Life is much more about being a part of a community.

Eventually getting into development studies, Africa is often at the core of this discipline. My studies have taken me (virtually) to Mali (warfare and the films of Malian-Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako – such as Bamako, which was a film I watched several times for its multilayered commentary). My obsession with news and tendency to watch AlJazeera English (which focuses a lot of attention on Asia, Latin America and Africa – all under-reported on American news channels) has given me insight into Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Mali – among a million other things, including France’s continued influence in the African sphere, as evidenced by its eagerness to jump into military conflicts and/or peacekeeping (most recently in Mali and CAR).

But it is still a slow and incremental learning process, especially because I am only doing it on screen or paper. I still have not travelled to Africa. But because Africa, African geography, African issues are all so distant and perceived as so esoteric, if you happen to know one or two facts about a given African country, people – sometimes even people from that country – imagine you are an expert. Comparatively speaking, maybe I have become a pseudo-expert – but I am still a novice with so little expertise or experience. After having eaten Ethiopian food perhaps once and knowing that the spongy bread is called injera and is made from teff flour, an Ethiopian guy decided I must know everything about Ethiopia (he was just impressed perhaps that I was not one among the multitudes of insensitive assholes who always reply to comments about Ethiopian food with, “I didn’t know Ethiopians had food.”)

Most recently, I watched a film, Rêves de poussière (Dreams of Dust), which was about a man from Niger who travels to Burkina Faso to try his luck as a gold miner in horrific and dangerous conditions. Cinematographically beautiful, all these films, I am still a geography dunce. I find – still – I always have to look at a map.