Magazine article Artforum International

Top Ten

Magazine article Artforum International

Top Ten

Article excerpt

The work of Los Angeles--based artist Sam Durant is on view in solo exhibitions at LA MOCA through January and at the Kunstverein Dusseldorf from January through March 2003.

1 DEMOCRACY NOW! With the major news media functioning as infotainment divisions for their corporate ownership and NPR's wholesale submission to its underwriters, Democracy Now! may well be one of the last "free" news programs left in the country. Host Amy Goodman's show is broadcast daily on Pacifica Network and its affiliates nationally, and worldwide on shortwave (find your station on Tune in for a meaningfully patriotic alternative to the mainstream morning news.

2 SOCIETY FOR THE ACTIVATION OF SOCIAL SPACE THROUGH ART AND SOUND (SASSAS) Artist Cindy Bernard has been programming sound performances around LA for the past several years. She's presented an amazing variety of musicians, composers, and improvisers--Solid Eye, Glenn Branca, Pauline Oliveros, and Stephen Prina, to name a few. Her "Sound' series at the Schindler House invites audiences to hear serious sonic intensity in LA's greatest modernist house. SASSAS, which Bernard founded this year, has just released soundCD no.1, a compilation of recordings from these and other Bernard-produced concerts.

3 THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY (Pluto Press, 2002) Greg Palast's book collects stories he broke for European newspapers and news outlets, many of them suppressed or ignored by US media. The muckraking journalist thoroughly documents our presidential coup (the fraudulent "scrubbing" of Florida's voter rolls), the Bush and Clinton administrations' ties to the bin Laden family and the Saudi royals, and initiatives like the IMF and World Bank's pernicious Country Assistance Strategies and the ruthless "logic" of the NAFTA and GATT trade agreements. As the dust-jacket blurb says, the information contained within is "a hand grenade."

4 FELA KUTI Fela had to establish his own country--the Kalakuta Republic in Lagos--just to play funk. Imprisoned and beaten nearly to death repeatedly throughout his life by Nigeria's despot rulers, he still managed to start his own political party and run for president (twice). More than a million people attended his funeral in 1997. Open & Close, Expensive Shit, Zombie, Everything Scatter, and Opposite People are among the dozens of incredible records he made--and they've all been recently reissued.

5 TO REPEL GHOSTS (Zoland Books, 2001) Taking Jean-Michel Basquiat's paintings (and their masses of musical/cultural/political/historical references) as a starting point, poet Kevin Young has constructed an incredibly rich series of interlocking texts that flow across and through modernist lineages--Satchmo, Bird, Ellison, Warhol, Elvis, Baldwin, Miles, Robert Johnson, Jack Johnson, Ali--and back around again. Densely sophisticated, rigorously composed, full of uncomfortable knowledge and scathing humor, this book is building the future of poetry.

6 THE COUP and DEAD PREZ The Coup are Oakland-based radicals politically rooted in Public Enemy and KRS-One but with a new sound that's supported by a full backup band. Boots (lyricist) and Pam (turntablist) are burning down the MTV plantation of hip-hop pabulum. …

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