There Is No Cat

The alternative to flowers!

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Sufferhead must go

The New York Times has an excellent package about one of my all-time favorite musicians, Fela Kuti, using a new exhibit of artwork about the late, great African musician as its news peg. The Times' former correspondent in Lagos, Nigeria, in the late 1970s, John Darnton, has a great story about how his friendship with Fela landed him and his wife and children in a Nigerian jail cell before causing him to be expelled from the country. There's also a decent multimedia package listed on the side of the page of each of those articles that contains an interview with Darnton talking about his time in Nigeria and his experience with Fela, along with some of Fela's music and some of the art from the exhibit.

The exhibit goes under the name Black President, which just happens to be the name of the album that introduced me to his music about 20 years ago. I was doing a radio show on the campus radio station with a friend of mine, called "The John and Ralph Total Anarchy Doom and Destruction Hour, With Special Guest, The Fuzzy Bat." John's roommate had a copy of the album, and John brought it in to the show one day. I was entranced. I went down to the record store that week and bought my own copy. It was on a French label. By the time the album was released by an American record company two years later, I had worn it out and was glad for the opportunity to purchase a pristine copy.

I have somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen of his albums. I'm just scratching the surface, though; he recorded more than seventy. MCA has been releasing many of his albums as twofer CDs. And I discovered that my beloved Black President album was actually a compilation of tracks from two other great albums, Sorrow, Tears and Blood and Original Sufferhead. Either of those would be a great starting point, as would Zombie, which is used in the Times' multimedia piece. But don't stop there. Collect them all. I'm trying to.

Posted at 10:37 PM

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

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