Perhaps the point of music, like poetry, is to take an available -- oft limited -- medium and make it new. I have always thought of DJs as the preveyors of a new form of music, one which is not formed from notes and lyrics, but from dissembling and reassembling complete other forms. DJ Spooky, who performed at McCarren Pool last Saturday, in my mind, has the status of a musicolocigist, as well as a true musician. Spooky’s set -- going off memory -- began with the theme from Gunsmoke and moved through a set of Indian raga, “Billy Jean,” rap, and so on to end with Jimmy Hendrix’s "Star Spangled Banner."
The best talent of such a great musician is his ability to take any genre of music and make it interesting. This is quite a feat if one considers the segregationist attitude that many people (particularly youth) have toward music. Many of my high school students are unaware that 50 Cent derives from Public Enemy, let alone Miles Davis. Another close friend loves jazz, but refuses to acknowledge rap as a genre. (See poetry friends!)
I also admire Spooky because of his involvement in politics. One of his most interesting pieces is a visual and musical re-mix of "Birth of a Nation." He also writes articles from time to time for periodicals such as "The Nation."
HOWEVER, I was a bit embarrassed for my neighborhood Saturday -- one that prides itself on being cutting edge. Hardly anyone came out, which is not unusual given the threatening weather. But, of those, no one really knew who Spooky, was and we were the only people dancing in many placed throughout the set.