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from The Santa Monica Mirror, October 10, 2001. Used by permission.

Point of View

Where In The World Are We?


Saturday, October 6, was an oasis in the midst of the national crisis. Highways and the 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica held an open house as part of a local open arts weekend. Artists' studios were open to the public, booths sold food, drink, and art knicknacks, bands and storytellers entertained, and adults and children made flags for and about their own universes.

One event however, provided both fun and some food for thought. Denise Uyehara, a performance artist who frequently appears at Highways and is on the faculty, invited people to come up to the second floor auditorium of Crossroads School, across the street from the 18th Street complex. On the floor was a huge map of the world in sketch outline. The countries were unnamed. Denise had divided the map sheet into sections and asked people to choose sections they would like to work on. Each small group then had to color in the countries, draw representations of the people who lived in these countries-and name the countries.

I don't have to tell you that the coloring in part was the easiest. Identifying the countries by their shapes alone was tough. Denise handed out lists of the countries in each section but the smaller countries were tough to distinguish.

My group, for example, was doing the Southeast Asian-South Pacific region. Australia was easy and the East Indies as a group of islands we knew-but which island was Java, which was Sumatra, which was Indonesia, and were any of them to be confused with New Guinea? I found Fiji (I think) somewhat east of Australia. I had my doubts that Thailand was as far south as another person in my group had chosen to label it.

Still, we may have done better than the group who worked on the European-Middle Eastern land mass. Israel was completely missing! A woman asked me where I thought Israel was. I said it was south of Turkey, but Lebanon and Jordan were tucked in there with it. On another map, China was somehow stuck in the middle of the Russian terrain, while Afghanistan, of all places, was misspelled.

No matter. It was supposed to be a fun exercise. We laughed at our blunders, Denise asked us to applaud ourselves, and we were free to take home the sections of the map we'd worked on. I took the South Pacific map -- and as soon as I got home, I went through my collection of travel brochures, looking for real maps of the South Pacific area so I could check the accuracy (or the lack of it) of the map from our event.

Americans who appear on TV game shows have continuously demonstrated a sad lack of knowledge of both history and geography. Jay Leno's "man in the street" interviews have also focused on our collective lack of knowledge of the provisions in the U.S. Constitution, and even our representatives in Congress. Despite all the flag-waving and patriotic sentiment that we have seen in the last month in reaction to the events of terror, it would seem that our critics would be justified in accusing us of not knowing enough even about our own country, much less understanding the issues of other countries. Much less even being able to find where in the world these countries are.

I was an excellent student in social studies and received an award for social studies when I graduated from high school. Yet I felt humbled by my participation in Denise Uyehara's art event. I realized that even I am not as conscious of other parts of the world as I'd like to be.

Our amusing little game of coloring in a map was a reminder that we are always in need of more education about our world. And however we feel about ourselves as Americans, it is important for us to see ourselves foremost as citizens of the world. The current struggle is a worldwide struggle, for terrorism threatens the planet, as do environmental ills, nuclear weapons, diseases, and ignorance. And of all those, ignorance is the threat that creates all other threats.









































from Music Id web site, October 2000



Alternative News



Meow, It's (Kitten)Freaky

I was going to try not to say it but Kittenfreaky have it in their own press release: a description of themselves as "reminiscent of Shonen Knife if Shonen Knife were made up of a kindergarten teacher, a cartoonist, and a single mom, none of whom are Japanese." One other significant difference is that they do not do songs about food-at least not yet.

I caught Kittenfreaky recently at a gig at a club actually called "The Gig," in Los Angeles. They were the first act and very appreciative of the club for booking them, as they haven't been together too long. It may be too early to review a band who are in their infancy but you know how "years later," people claim they saw (fill in band name) when they were only just starting out at some small club? Why not a review? Why not a bit of hype for a band who don't seem to take the whole stardom thing that seriously anyway?

Kittenfreaky are a trio, consisting of Viva "LaKitty" Krasinski (the single mom) who sings and plays "grooves"(synth loops), Eleanor "Meow" Mak (the teacher) who plays keyboards, bass, violin, autoharp, and kazoo, and Cindy "Pop" DeSantis (the cartoonist-she does the band's art) who sings most of the lead vocals. At the Gig, they ran through what I suspect is their entire repertoire during their very informal 45-minute set. As if they were performing in someone's rumpus room rather than at a music club,they handed out lyric sheets to their songs, checked their set list to remember what they were supposed to sing next, gave away free copies of their CD by holding quickie contests ("How many fingers are there in the band?"), and performed songs with titles like "Stupid Stupid Girl," "Volcano Baby," "Gorgeous," a "cover song" from the soundtrack of A Clockwork Orange called "Lighthouse Keeper," and their potential big novelty hit "Jigglypuff," an ode to a Pokemon. All of these were nonsensical songs, in the tradition of Shonen Knife, but equally in the tradition of such bands as Ween, Presidents of the United States Of America, and The Mothers of Invention. While all the lyrics had the tone of material written by children, the simplicity worked well on a rare serious-themed song by Viva LaKitty called "Babadababa," about the problems of single motherhood. And the musicianship of Eleanor "Meow" as she worked her various instruments, had a seasoned flair that stood in contrast to the fluffy nature of the lyrics.

The vocals are nice too, in a time-honored girl group way. With time, Kittenfreaky may or may not choose to venture into more serious songwriting-but if they remain a novelty just-for-fun band, they certainly will be seen more around town and maybe around the country. Four of their songs are downloadable on MP3.com, where in fact, "The Jigglypuff Christmas Song," is currently number 5 on the Mp3 chart! Their CD can be ordered from www.kittenfreaky.com and they are available for your club (or wedding, bar/bas mitzvah, or party) by calling Cindy Pop at 310-829-2166. Meow!

In Brief: The alternative music world is still in shock about Rage Against The Machine singer Zack de la Rocha's sudden departure from the band. According to activist film director Michael Moore, de la Rocha's plans to record a solo album contributed to the riff between the band members. Other bands influenced by RATM's style expressed regret over de la Rocha's split, while some fans vented their anger and contempt for what they perceived as RATM's hypocrisy on MTV.com's "You Tell Us" page. * A tribute album dedicated to "'70s Glam" is being executive-produced by KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer. The album, entitled Blockbuster, will feature The Donnas, Cyclefly, Dramarama, Nick Heyward, and Tube Tops 2000, a "supergroup" composed of Hole's Eric Erlandson, former Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, and Go-Gos bassist Kathy Valentine. Look for the album on Conspiracy Records in January. * Blur's new single, "Music Is My Radar," is available as a mobile phone ringtone. It can be downloaded for free at www.iobox.com. * Germany's Rammstein is mixing their new album, Mutter in Sweden. The title doesn't mean that they are singing the way R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe has been known to sing but rather is the word for "Mother" in German.--Lynne Bronstein



Alternative News, August 23


The Shirley Chronicles

"I can't believe it's Friday already. I'm totally freaked out by how fast time is unraveling before me.I'm gonna be a hundred years old in the blink of an eye and I won't even know what's happened"...Shirley Manson in "Studio Diary #3" on www.garbage.com.

Remember Garbage? Not much has been heard from them during the last two years. They were even rumored to be breaking up. But for those who have't discovered it yet,
there is a regular "studio diary" available on the Garbage web site (www.garbage.com). It's been going since April, when the band began recording their third album and it's all
by and mostly about Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson. She tells all, her observations on popular culture, her female troubles, her musical ideas, etc. The latest entries find Shirley frustrated about her lyric-writing skills, incensed and then relieved over last week's incident with the sunken Russian submarine, sentimental about the farewell of President Bill Clinton, and misty-eyed over an Iranian movie she recommends we see(but with a pack of Kleenex). She also says she's received a movie offer that she's "kind of interested in. I somehow can't actually believe that a
geek like me could possibly be in a movie but there you have it."(Nothing further on what this movie project is yet). And she lists seven new tracks that Garbage are
working on. The titles are "Begging Bowl," "Shut Your Mouth,""Use Me," "Over A Cup Of Coffee," "Walking On Shells," "Silence Is Golden," and "So Like A Rose." Oh yes,
the projected album of Garbage B-sides has been scuttled in favor of working on the new songs.

Shirley has an entertaining diary style and it would be nice if eventually(maybe as a promotional tie-in when the new album comes out) her diary were to be published. It would even make a fun movie(fictionalized) but probably NOT starring Meg Ryan(see diary for details). The real Shirley Manson will also be emerging from this literary/musical cocoon to chat on gURL.com on Tuesday, August 27 at 8 p.m. EDT.
Maybe she will explain her diary disses of Jennifer Lopez and Joni Mitchell among other celebs that she sounds off on. She's one opinionated Rock Grrl--but we love it!

In brief: The press release alleged to be from Radiohead that made the rounds of several Radiohead fan sites last week was bogus. Radiohead singer Thom Yorke
posted a notice on his band's official message board explaining that the release was "complete lies." * Aimee Mann will perform two songs at the "Ace For A Cure" benefit
in support of "Tennis Against Breast Cancer" on November 19 at Madison Square Garden. * A new biography of INXS singer Michael Hutchence, Just A Man will be published this fall. The authors are Patricia Glassop, Michael's father's ex-wife, and her daughter Tina Glassop. The other Hutchence bio in the works will not be published due to a successful libel action by Paula Yates, Hutchence's partner. * Monster
Magnet's next album, God Says No won't be released until next year although it's ready right now. The band's management says the album is being held back to avoid
coming out amidst a glut of new releases by such bands as Limp Bizkit, the Wallflowers, and U2. * The 99X "Big Day Out 2000" benefit concert set for October 1 in Atlanta will feature Papa Roach, Stone Temple Pilots, Deftones,Green Day,
Everclear,Eve 6, Incubus, SR-71, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Stroke 9, Disturbed, Linkin Park, and Travis. There may be even more acts added to the bill in the next few weeks, say organizers. Tickets go on sale August 26 at all Ticketmaster outlets. For more info go to www.99x.com. * The Call, who are one of those underappreciated bands who've been around for years, have a new album coming out in November. It's a
live album called Live Under the Red Moon on Conspiracy Records. Call frontman Michael Been was reportedly surprised to learn that the Democrats used the Call's
anthemic 1989 hit "Let The Day Begin" as their closing theme music at the DNC last Thursday.---Lynne Bronstein