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January 10, 2008 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.comh

Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 3B

Fluff isn't
all bad in
Presidents, politicians and
world leaders are bound to
become at least partial pop-
culture icons, constantly the target
of highly critical media attention.
But at what point does the cultural
overlap run the risk of diluting the
political process?
GQ recently enlisted new con-
tributing editor/hot-tempered
supermodel Naomi Campbell to
interview Vene-
Hugo Chavez,
presumably to
boost the mag-
azine's political
edge. But how a
fancy-fluff pub-
lication plans CAROLINE
to utilize a less- HARTMANN
than-credible --
voice to depict a deeply controver-
sial figure remains tobe seen. When
GQ talks politics, it does so in the
same swooning language it uses to
debate this season's pinstripe suit
jackets. In a feature article on pres-
idential candidate Hillary Clinton,
writer Jason Horowitz seems more
concerned with the "silk blouses"
and "orange cheese cubes" dotting
the scene of a political event than
the real topic at hand.
According to Reuters, Camp-
bell's interview with Chavez
ranged from the Spice Girls and
Castro's wardrobe to Jesus Christ
as the foremost revolutionary fig-
ure. What exactly Campbell is
after here is somewhat unclear, but
perhaps more curious is herunique
Campbell has
Hugo Chavez
position as interviewer. Chavez
has been notoriously difficult with
American contacts - journalists,
politicians or otherwise - but
Campbell falls outside his black-
listed label. Born in London and
the daughter of a Jamaican dancer
and father of Afro-Caribbean and
Chinese heritage, Campbell's asso-
ciation with the United States rests
largely in the fashion and music
(Also on Campbell's agenda is a
possible meeting with Fidel Cas-
tro, though it hasn't been reported
whether the project has been put
into motion.)
Several months ago Chavez
i expressed interest in meeting with
another American celebrity, Sean
Penn, and apparently respects him
for being well-informed global
politics. Maybe it's the haze of
Hollywood stardom that puts the
American actor onneutral grounds
with Chavez, or maybe there's a
link that a disillusioned public
refuses to recognize. And caught in
the stereotypical assumption that
L.A. celebs lack the intellectual
capacity to tackle politics head-on,
it's unlikely that a politician would
feel particularly threatened.
The real issue becomes less of
a limelight abuse situation than a

questionable method of credible
reporting and criticism.
If GQ seems to be on the bor-
der of serious news reporting, try
Glamour on for size. The women's
magazine has incorporated a cam-
paign blog to its site. It's called
Glamocracy, and it's very ... pink.
With mini stars flanking each
writer's name and ads for a 30-Day
makeover running down the side
of the page, it's not easy to keep a
straight face. Like GQ, Glamour's
news reporting stays in line with
the tone of the rest of the maga-
zine, delivering a political mes-
sage through casual gabbing and
personal asides. (Glamour's other
blogs cover fashion, beauty, sex
advice and health.)
I don't mean to imply that pop-
culture publications are incapable
of providing legitimate coverage,
but the line between accessible and
irrelevant has become increasingly
In isolated instances, the cir-
cumstances of such reporting
can sound downright ridiculous.
Glamour analyzing Hillary's tear-
ful moments isn't pressing cover-
age, but for many readers, it may be
what works. With so much atten-
tion of the press centered on the
2008 campaigns, the relaxed tone
of popular publications could be a
much-needed break from the hour-
ly policy rants on CNN. And when
you look at the list of pop-culture
elements seepinginto politics inbig
and small ways, it's hardly surpris-
ing that a seemingly niche market
is actually what the public wants.

Rapping in cars

Even this many speakers can't help the author become a rapper.

Daily Music Editor
During the summer of 2006,
spurred on by "8 Mile" ambitions
and a general sense of awe for
those who could freestyle, I prac-
ticed the underground art during
my daily commute to and from my
summer job. Vainly desiring a hip-
hop handle as much as the actual
ability to wax poetic about spliffs,
Voltaire and skateboarding, my
motives may have been a bit taint-
ed. And yet day in and day out, I
would drive across I-96 in my 1992
purple Saturn Twin Cam, attempt-
ing to flow over short instrumental
My friend Dave, a co-worker
and fellow journalist, had similar
delusionsofgrandeur. Buthe never
made the effort of establishing and
perfecting his style the way I had.
And though I've all but given up
hope, I still have the occasional
text-style with my friend Andrew
- freestyle battling through AIM,

mocking each other's whimsical
and often surreal lines.
But during that summer, as
my lyrical prowess grew and was
henceforth uncontainable by four
bars of Kanye West chipmunk
samples, I had to find more exten-
sive pieces that I could spit over.
Fortunately, I had long since been
a fan of the experimental quartet,
The summer before my MC
dreams, I had taken a girl I was
admittedly rather obsessed with
to the Prefuse 73 concert at The
Blind Pig. I paid for her ticket - a
mistake, as we didn't stay past the
first act - and we walked in just
before the opening group, Bat-
tles, stepped on stage. Their set
was incredible. As I tended to my
friend, who was having trouble
breathing and, not throwing up
through the satiny smoke of the
crowd, I was dumbfounded by the
group's precision and IDM-cum-
rock stylings.
The t-shirts they were selling

said, "I
ered my
before P
to see t
work ha
asked if
ing "Br
as, "Te
and gro
sively: B
I had
least IC

have Bttls in my life." I heads in a ghastly basement, with
help but agree as I ush- an inconspicuous DJ and crowd of
'pained date out of the Pig 10, hell, 200 people, watching and
'refuse took the stage. cheering me on, chanting whatev-
even though I didn't get er rap handle I would've attained
he headliner, the ground- at that point in my then-prolific
d been set for the ensuing and notorious career. My child-
e delusions. When people ish dreams weren't laughable only
I had heard any good new because I practiced solely in my
I'd reply with a resound- car rather than on the playground
attles," describing them with all the other kids. But with
chno played on instru- time, I realized that I didn'tbelong
anywhere near a microphone and
axing poetic that thinking Battles a legitimate
hip-hop backdrop was simply not
ut spliffs and possible.
Imagine my surprise then, lis-
Voltaire teningto Battles's latest release, the
Tonto EP, when New York lyricist
very groove-oriented and Joell Ortiz drops aguestverse over
So when those four-bar the remixed "Leyendecker" (from
nks no longer satiated my their full-length debut Mirrored).
I turned toone of the few If this isn't vindication, I don't
ss groups with great beats know what is. While it's not a par-
roves that I knew exten- ticularly revelatory verse, nor is it
attles. even moderately proficient, the fact
l Battles in my life. Or at that it exists is inviting and poses
d imagine I did, cutting immense possibilities. These mash-

ups are the sort of thing Battles
seem spawned of and could help
revolutionize a hip-hop industry
lately devoid of serious innovation.
Tonto even boasts the electronic
comparisons I made on my first
encounter. A remix of "Tonto" by
The Field shows Battles's Fran-
kensteinian techno connections
while Four Tet's remix of the
same track stands as some of its
best work since its masterpiece
Rounds. All of these various mixes
don't relegate Battles to the realm
of resident producer/beatmaker
for progressive MC, but it cer-
tainly enlivens some discussion,
as the last truly relevant mash-
up (The Grey Album combining
the Beatles's White Album with
Jay-Z's The Black Album) was
sued for more than it was worth.
And yet, I can't be entirely happy
with this situation, because my
most reliable source of freestyling
beats may soon be hoarded by the
likes of Joell Ortiz. I guess I actu-
ally do have Battles in my life.

Paper lovers are not Luddites

ManagingArts Editor
Without a doubt, my favorite
letters to the editor are the ones
chastising us for not putting the
Sudoku and crossword puzzle
nearer to each other. If you're
goingto rip out those distractions
for your Angell Hall lecture, put-
ting them on opposite sides of the
same page is mighty convenient.
How evil of us to deny you, gentle
reader, the Greater Good.
Ironically, it's pessimistic to
view this as a good thing. Many
media critics believe we are wit-
nessing the slow death of paper as
a medium. It's an added expense,
it's outdated and the online mar-
ket is burgeoning. All these obser-
vations are true, to some extent,
but it's tough to envision a world
where everyone owns an iPhone,
a laptop (though the MIT-bred
One Laptop per Child initiative
is trying to provide $150 laptops
to children in Africa), an Internet
connection or even a cell phone.
The vast amounts of information
available in a newspaper can't be
completely streamlined into tiny
displays and touch screens. No
one is going to be completely con-
nected to the world-as-Internet
anytime soon (or at all). There
will always be a market for paper
Technological improvement
is not universal and there exists

a very intangible, if real, attach-
ment to paper. You can't deny
the (admittedly pop-Roman-
tic) charm of rustling through
a hefty A-section. It just feels
... real. online's wheelhouse is
its variety of content. You skim
and click, click and browse, and
maybe by the end of an hour
or so you've read the equiva-
lent of a full front-page article
- in the form of a dozen or more
links. Of course you can rapidly
scan through newspapers, but
they're much more inclined to
keep you focused on the article
in hand.
Without paper,
there would be
no crosswords
Culturally, we've always
looked to the front page as a cru-
cial qualifier. If our top news-
papers deem a story front-page
worthy, then it's probably worth
your time to check it out. Head-
lines are entities that scream,
plead, finger-point, bemuse (New
York Post, anyone?), ostracize,
etc., etc., ad nauseum. You just
don't get that kind of exigency
online. When everything is a key-
stroke and few clicks away from
everything else, it's harder to dis-
cern what's actually important.
Though the Sudoku/cross-

word addicts might not care
what's on the front page or right
next to their puzzle of choice,
they still need the paper. Their
need (puzzles, rationale for tun-
ing out of lectures) is met by this
medium, and it's an immediate
trade-off: No printing of online
puzzles, no cell phone feeds. It's
the same formula for the actual
news: Readers are given a glance
at a part of the world and are
vaguely up to speed with it. You
can carry the Daily with you in
between classes (if it makes it
that far). The Washington Post
has its own Express edition,
readily available for crammer
commuters - who, as it happens,
don't have wireless reception of
any kind when shuttled under-
ground. The Onion, America's
great satire machine, lays out it's
A/V Club section, especially film
reviews, in a quick-hits fashion,
ideal for commuters and coffee
There are too many moments
in a day where paper is simply
more convenient. No matter what
Apple says, it's not chic to squint
at a tiny screen filled with music
videos by The Shins when you're
on thebus. Are you going to muck
up your iPhone with greasy fin-
gers on your lunch break when a
Bathroom stall? Easy. Then there
are the waiting rooms of doctors
See PAPER, Page 4B

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