The August 1 issue of the New Yorker is la vie en sepia. It covers Charlie and the Chocolate Factory star Deep Roy, M.I.A.’s spinner Diplo and the Sri Lankan civil war. Roy is hilarious — I’ve never before seen an uncle in leather bellbottoms doing a KISS impersonation:
Inscrutable hybrids of Punjab and Marvin the Martian, their hair sculpted to resemble chocolate kisses, Roy’s Oompa Loompas are the film’s comic engine… As the Loompas, he sings, disco-dances, smashes guitars, and swims synchronically; he’s a chef, a barber, a shrink, a secretary, and exactly one hundred and twenty-one other things…
It took six months of fourteen-hour days to complete the filming of Roy’s four song-and-dance extravaganzas… Eugene Pidgeon, an actor and writer turned labor activist for dwarf performers [said]… “For every Deep Roy, there are a hundred and fifty of us who are forced to do wacked-out shit on ‘The Man Show…’ ” [Link]
[Wesley Pentz, aka Diplo] produced “Bucky Done Gun” for the British artist M.I.A.–it appears on her current album, “Arular”–and it consists in large part of chopped-up bits of a song called “InjeÃ§Ã£o,” by the Brazilian singer Deise Tigrona, which was recorded in da Matta’s studio. Both tracks incorporate a tiny sample of the horns from Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from “Rocky,” to create a stabbing, jittery effect that is both thrilling and irritating… “Bucky Done Gun” … has now been remixed by da Matta himself… [Link]
The baile funk infection spreads. All your remix are belong to us:
Pentz cued up his own remix of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” The song was already great–sharp-edged and minimalist–but Pentz had made it better, embellishing it with cantering, syncopated drums to create a swinging dance track. Under Stefani’s vocals, you could also hear snippets of baile funk–from “Feira de Acari,” a festive track that happens to have been produced by da Matta… [Link]
The Sri Lankan war article is not online yet, but it has a useful thumbnail summary of the war: The population split between the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka is approximately 75%-25%, with Tamils concentrated in the north and the east of the island. Jealousy of the prosperous Tamil minority led to institutionalized discrimination: politicians reserved jobs and education for the majority and enshrined Sinhala and Buddhism as the country’s official language and religion. Tamils went from 50% of the medical and engineering students in the ’60s to 20% by the end of the ’70s. Discrimination against a prosperous minority is commonplace; in the Philippines, it’s erupted as a high rate of kidnapping of the ethnic Chinese, while we all know what happened to desis in Uganda under Idi Amin.
This discrimination sparked a small guerrilla movement, the LTTE, led by Velupillai Prabhakaran. In 1983, a LTTE ambush of 13 Sinhalese policemen sparked massively disproportional riots which killed 2,000 Tamils. They were every bit as savage and state-assisted as the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat (hacking, burning, lynching, arson); many people fled the country thereafter, Tamil and Sinhalese alike.
After the riots, the Tigers grew in strength and killed most of their Tamil rivals. They kidnapped one child from every household because not enough recruits joined on their own. They pioneered the suicide belts now used by the PLO as well as ship attacks using rubber dinghies loaded with explosives, which Al Qaeda used against the USS Cole. A commander named Karuna eventually broke from Prabhakaran and set up a stronghold in the eastern city of Batticaloa.
One guy quoted in the story believes that Sri Lankans have an insufficient sense of nationality and are primarily loyal to their own ethnic group. The Tamil diaspora funds the conflict, as with diasporic Khalistanis, people without a real stake in or sense of the reality on the ground. And all groups involved have splintered the post-tsunami goodwill for their own political advantage.
Update: Here’s the New Yorker story on the Sri Lankan civil war.