Friday, September 29, 2006

The Dispensation of Ghostface Killah

I've already posted elsewhere about this, but I thought it too awesome to pass up the chance to post it here, too.

Ghostface Killah, aka Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, aka Dennis Coles to his momma, is one of the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan, perhaps the seminal rap group/collective/community of the 90s. I remember when my friend Tony had me borrow one of their albums in 1998ish or so, and I found it way too saucy back then (oh, how the times have changed). Ghostface was always one of the hardest to understand of his Wu-Tang compatriots, due to his frequent stream-of-conscious rhymes. He still releases albums under his Ghostface moniker, and has been one of the more active members of the Wu-Tang collective over the past few years.

In a recent interview concerning the prospects of a(nother) Wu-Tang reunion album, Ghostface let it be known that he doesn't mind if people without the means to buy his albums download them instead. While on record as disliking illegal downloading in general, he wouldn't frown upon poor people who downloaded his music: "I mean, if you're poor, yeah."

This is great news, I think. Never before has an artist taken a stand on poor people downloading music before, at least to my knowledge. It's a very Robin Hood concept, but with a 21st century twist: If you can afford it, pay for the album. But if you can't, digitally steal it from me, yeah. Can you imagine Metallica taking this stance? Or Madonna? Or Matchbox 20? (Do poor people even listen to Matchbox 20? I've been nominally poor before, and I've lived in poor neighborhoods, but I don't remember hearing much Matchbox 20.) If anything can be said about this, it's that Ghostface is incredibly progressive when it comes to music downloading. Maybe the RIAA should take the hint.

Perhaps downloading is a bit out of reach for the average person who can't afford to buy Ghostface's latest album. I mean, if you could afford a PC and a broadband connection, it would be logical to assume you would have the means to buy CDs, too. BUT, if you're like some people I know, who were gifted a second-hand computer and steal/borrow high-speed from their neighbor, you can get a picture of how Ghostface's reprieve might work in everyday life.

Plus, should a dispensation such a Ghostface's opens up new doors for artists who might have a special place in their hearts for the poor? (As a side note, it's important to point out that Ghostface, an AfroAmerican artist who has seen/experienced poverty growing up, would be one of the first to "authorize" illegal downloading for the poor.) Can you imagine if Christian artists publicly allowed disadvantaged persons to have their music for free? (Keith Green did something like this in the early 80s.) I'm not saying they'd like it, but still, it's the thought that counts....

Finally, and this is directed to the more pastory types on our blog, how do copyright issues work in performing songs by artists in the context of your worship services? Are churches supposed to pay to use copywritten songs? Do they? Are there any songwriters who exempt churches (strapped or otherwise) from having to pay these charges? And since I'm not as up on the praise & worship scene as I used to be, are there any "worship artists" who disseminate their works for absolutely free?

In closing, I'd just like to give mad eprops to Ghostface Killah, for doing something (even if it was an aside) most artists wouldn't even pause to think about. Including, unless I'm mistaken, our esteemed friends, Bono and Company. Go Ghostface, go Ghostface, go!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Love Letters from Moody

Be ready for the most theological post I've made in probably 6 months...

I know that everyone was wondering what I thought about the comment I got on my Moody post from Moody student Hannah. For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, go read my "Moody Hates Old People" post from a week or so ago.

Now here's the response I got from Moody student and Jenkins hall resident Hannah.

"I see that you come tainted to this issue and obviously you have something in for Moody or for evangelicals or both, for you haven't taken into consideration the long-term goals and motives ofan over 100 year old institute that strives to send people out with a worthy cause. OR maybe you have considered it just disregard it, looking for your next victim to lay over on your little blog.

These people that graduate from here? they're on fire, in love with the Lord like you obviously could never imagine.

You come to visit the campus only to criticize, mock, and offend them. (Community showers with old people? are you serious?)

Recommendations for your next flattening of an evagelical institute: 1)Don't leave empty holes about bribes as if MBI would be instable enough to even consider this form of gaining something desired. 2) As I recall, you made inferences ("for all I can tell") which might be construed as another hole.

If you knew anything about the heart of Moody, you'd know that their goal was not to put out old, poor people. Have you read your entry. You contradict yourself completely. Do you even know what amount of Moody students live in Jenkins this year? 160. That's a whopping 4 floors out of 14.

-disturbed by your naivety. A fellow Jenkins resident"

Let me introduce myself, Hannah, for the sake of conversation and a little context to my postings. I am a graduate of an evangelical institution and sought, with all my heart, to lead a revival alongside Tod DeKruyter and Beth Waterman (amongst others) there my Freshman year. We would pray in the library instead of eating lunch. We were on fire and in love with the Lord and wanted everyone around us to feel the same way. Believe it or not, I can imagine the people who graduate from Moody because I know many of them and I know people graduating from many other great evangelical schools and bible college who love Jesus and are going to devote their whole lives to ministry.

Somewhere along my trip through college I came upon some troubling realizations. Primary among them was the disproportionate relationship between people's love for the Lord and care and concern for the people around them. I remember going to college chapel and worshipping with my fellow students and then going to class and studying the Bible and being very excited about following Jesus. I remember reading my Bible and finding things in there that were very different from the way I, and most everyone else I knew at college, were living their lives. While I often would be critical of people who drank alcohol, had sex, and were gay, I found very little if any statements about these topics in Jesus' words in the Bible. Instead, I found lots and lots of statements about how being a Christian and being on fire and in love with Jesus meant living with very little and giving everything to the poor. I read about how the only way to be faithful to the message of Jesus was to serve ones neighbors and act for peace and repay evil with good.

I remember being very confused because most of my schools worship and chapels would say very little about these things and say a lot about how important it was to not have sex and to be the best at whatever you did. I remember asking people questions about these things that Jesus said, wondering how it was that Jesus said to give things away yet the mission of the college I went to was primarily about building nice buildings and having good video equipment for chapel and raising more money from alumni. Sure, they were proud and happy about graduates who decided to devote their lives to the poor in india or africa, but what was most important was loving jesus and having good worship services and making money. They had noble goals, creating disciples of Jesus who would impact their world because of a good education. They often achieved this goal. I just wondered about how it was done sometimes.

When you said "you haven't taken into consideration the long-term goals and motives ofan over 100 year old institute that strives to send people out with a worthy cause" it made me think about many conversations I have had with evangelicals. Usually I ask a question like "why do you think your church needs 5 huge flatscreen tvs to project live shots of the worship band onto?" or "how come your church is building another building when the old one works ok?" or "why are you spending your money on receiving a youth ministry degree when Jesus says to give your money to the poor and follow him?" Usually the answer is something like what you may or may not be suggesting here. They suggest that the goal justifies the steps they are taking. They have a goal, or in some cases even a mission, and they assume that whatever it takes to get there is ok because they believe this goal is God given. In many cases, the goals are: serving people in ministry, bringing people into relationship with Jesus and the church, etc. But often enough, people believe that if the goal is good, whatever it takes to get there is ok too. Sometimes this philosophy is obviously a bad idea. Like when someone so believes they have figured out what God wants them to do that they end up stealing a bunch of money from their church to accomplish their goals. Other times, though, what they see as the best steps to achieve a goal doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Sometimes it looks like a good investment to rehab a building who's property value will go up. Or move to the suburbs where things are safer and lots of other people are moving. Or take a million dollars from a coffee company to let them sell coffee at your church. In these cases, sometimes people need to be reminded that while certain goals are in line with the gospel, there are other, more basic demands of the gospel, that require one to change the course to their goals. I think this is what is happening with Jenkins Hall.

While I was being more sarcastic than anything else in my original post, and while I did express symapthy with Moody finding out that they weren't properly informed when they bought the property, I think that Moody, as a God fearing, Jesus loving institution, has a mandate that supercedes their mission to produce men and women dedicated to following Jesus in whatever form it takes. While this goal is a good one and one that I respect, I believe that there is a more basic mission for all Christians; the care and respect of the poor and the elderly, that supercedes producing college graduates that love Jesus.

You were concerned with some of my inferences, which is fair, if you are unaware of my particular sense of humor that you may or may not find humorous. Clearly I do not believe that Moody students and old people are showering together, however funny the thought may be. Also, I would be shocked and disturbed beyond words if it were true that Moody had bribed government offices to get the building. I wouldn't consider it possible, hence the joke. Thus, my original post was an attempt to make a sort of bland story about old people, a bible college, and public housing a little more entertaining for my fellow evangelical school graduates. I obviously did not make this clear. Also, to finish out fact debates, the news report I quoted acurately said there are 160 students but only 125 eldery residents.

Now, with these clarifications aside, I want to reiterate my whole point and why I was still slightly disturbed and concerned about the report. I truely believe that Moody, being a God fearing, Jesus loving institution, upon hearing that the building they had aquired had an outstanding contract promising affordable housing to poor elderly men and women in the city of Chicago, should have had a very different reaction than the one they had. While maybe disapointed and frustrated that their original plan for reaching their goal of producing college educated, God fearing, Jesus loving students has to be altered, honoring this contract and providing a place for arguably the most forgotten members of our society (old poor people) should be considered a great opportunity for Moody. Instead, they have suggested that pending the results of the law suit they will move to have the contract disolved in 2008. In other words, they seek out the opportunity to pursue their own goal at whatever the cost, in this case a rare opportunity for affordable housing in the city. While I would expect such a harsh cut and run strategy from secular institutions and reality buisnesses, I am saddened to see the same attitude from a Bible college. I believe that as Christians it is essential to honor ones promises, even ones that we stumble upon. Even more so, I believe as Christians that taking care of the old, the poor, and the sick supercedes whatever other goals we have.

The whole story reminds me of the Good Samaratin. I am pretty sure that the priest that passed by the man who had been beaten and robbed had good, God fearing, Jesus loving goals. He was probably on his way to some very important priestly duty. I mean, the priest had devoted his whole life to professional service for the Kingdom of God. But the Priest walks right on by, leaving the man basically to die because this was not a step toward his ultimate goal. On the other hand, you have the good Samaratin who stops and helps the man because he was simply moved by compassion. He was operating out of no large scale moral agenda or goal that included the step of helping this man. He was definately derailed in his travel plans. Yet he is the hero of the story, not the bible college or seminary educated priest who has been commisioned to a life of service to God and who no doubt does many holy and sacred steps toward this goal.

Do you see my point? Like the priest, Moody is trying to pass along the side of the road in pursuit of its greater goal, producing college graduates who are God fearing and Jesus loving, a great and honorable goal. Yet, in this case, they have stumbled across someone who was left on the side of the road with nothing. And Moody, like the priest, are passing along, hoping someone else deals with it. In this case, like the parable, a Samaratin may stroll along in the form of government aid and care and alternative housing. Just like the parable, then, Jesus would probably applaud the "Samaratin" who has aided and, indirectly, disgrace the holy man who leaves in pursuit of "higher callings."

Do I think Moody hates old people? No. Not at all. Do I think that Moody has bought into the very unbiblical philosophy that the ends, so long as good and Godly, justify the means, regardless their form? Yes. Do I think that Moody should find somewhere else for all you students to live and offer these apartments back up for low income seniors? Yes. I really do. I know that it makes zero buisness sense but it makes a whole lot of Gospel sense.

And finally, in regards to your statements that I "come to visit the campus only to criticize, mock, and offend them," I would love a tour of Jenkins Hall and a chance to visit with the students who live there as well as the remaining elderly residents if you want to invite me. And, for the record, I visited Moody in hopes of being a student there, and have since visited to look at the nice buildings, specifically the chapel, and wonder what it would have been like to be there as a student, not to criticize and mock and offend.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My Mayor Will Save Your Soul

If you are anything like me, you've spent the last several years studying religion and philosophy and one of the things you get sick of hearing all the time is "dualism." One of the most popular/easiest ways to discredit someone else and their ideas is to label them "dualistic" and be done with them. This is especially applied to evangelicals, modern philosophers, classical philosophers, muslims, any religious believers, Kant, Descartes, anyone who believes in souls, anyone who believes in anything transcendental, and anyone who believes in anything that has two part or multiple diminsions. But then just when you are finally about to dismiss anyone who argues against anything by saying it is dualistic you run into a story like this that basically defines the term and you have to tell all your friends about it on your blog even if it took a week to get around to it.

For those of you not from Chicago, we have a very interesting man as our mayor. For starters, fans of politicians who are always saying things wrong love Mayor Daley. He is notorious for saying outlandish things. Further, he is one corrupt son of a bitch and no one in Chicago seems to mind. This is in part because his dad, Richard J. Daley, a previous mayor of this fine city, won and ran this city for a long long time under the simple agenda of keeping the garbage picked up and the ice off the streets, a popular strategy for the current Daley. Other things that Richard J. Daley did that were less awesome include turning away Martin Luther King Jr. and his attempts to bring civil rights to the midwest, ordering police to shoot and kill any black people rioting after King's death, getting kicked out of the 1968 democratic convention in Chicago, and basically inventing the patrionage system of local government that still keeps Chicago running.

Our current mayor, Richard M. Daley, has continued many of the fine traditions started by his dad, including keeping the streets clean, making new parks, and leading the patrionage machine in Chicago. Some of his finest moments include bulldozing down an air field in downtown (without anyone's permission) in the middle of the night so that he could put a park there, having many of his closest advisers busted for hiring corruption, and the potential forthcoming disaster that is Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. One of the things that King Daley II has tried to shake from his dad's reign is the percived hatred of black people. Being a democrat in a city where 36% of the people are African Americans (the largest ethnicity in the city) it is seen as a political necessity for White Daley to listen and serve the African American community. With an election around the corner and several solid African American canidates running against him (including Jesse Jackson Jr.), Daley is acting oddly trying to secure the African American vote.

Many people love Mayor Daley for creating the latest residential building boom in Chicago. Some people benefit from higher property values and are happy to be able to live in downtown Chicago. Some people are happy that they see less panhandlers, garbage, and guns around the city. Many other people hate Mayor Daley for his housing boom. They are furious that one of the prime focuses of this building boom has been tearing down government subsidized housing for low-income families. After tearing down one of these buildings the city is supposed to mandate an equal number of new low income housing units be built, as much as possible in the same neighborhood. Of course this has been a disaster, with thousands and thousands of low income units beings destroyed and very very few being rebuilt. Since many of these units were occupied by African Americans, those campaigning against Daley in the forthcoming election will no doubt focus on this issue amongst others.

(For a hilarious take on this building program and our wonderful mayor in general, see Neal Pollock's speech from 2000 reposted on the McSweeney's website. "I would like to thank our Mayor, Richard M. Daley, without whom none of these programs would have even come close to existing!...The programs we have proposed today will create 700 units of new housing in our neighborhood, while tearing down 4,000 other units, most of which were in pretty bad shape anyway. More good news: The destruction of these apartments will create hundreds of new jobs and thus build opportunities for poorer residents of the neighborhood to buy their own homes, starting at $170,000 a year, so they can own a share of our community's wealth!...I cannot not emphasize enough that Mayor Daley's firm-handed leadership has made our community, and indeed all of Chicago, a place where families can once again feel safe. Without Mayor Daley's strong, masculine presence, all of Chicago would still be a miserable ghetto full of neighborhood bars, street vendors, yard sales, and bizarre old grumps with interesting life stories. This new Chicago imagined by the Mayor, is a far nicer, calmer, friendlier place to live. Thank you, Mayor Daley! Thank you! Thank You!" And it only gets better from there...)

So what do you do if you are a very very white Irish mayor who is attempting to appeal to an African American community that is beginning to believe you hate them? Apparently the correct response is to assume that they are all very very "spiritual" and with that very very stupid. In a recent speech Daley focused on how he and his reign are working on the souls of poor people. Local columnist John Kass has done an excellent job once again busting the mayor's chops about this. Daley was focused in explaining that he and his followers are not just about building buildings that the poor can afford to live in, but more so they are about the business of building souls. Attempting to fix the shelter crisis in Chicago where there are far from enough beds for homeless people, Daley and his clan are attempting to build more temporary/permanent housing for the poor in Chicago. Some estimate that they amount of money put into these programs and others to care for the homeless is $260 million less than that of other major cities in comparison.

Of course what these reports fail to consider is that the more important job, soul rebuilding, does not consist of the petty realities of the material world. Pumping money into programs that provide food, clothes, health care, and housing for the poor can't do anything for the more important issues of the soul. The mayor said, "In coming to this process of the transformation, you're basically rebuilding look at the individual, many have personal issues, alcohol, drug, other just can't be looked at one way, and that's why education, and basically rebuilding the souls and public housing go hand in hand." In other words, (my paraphrase), "all of these people are trying to pressure me into building more buildings for these people to live in but what they fail to realize is that unless all these poor people quit drinking all that booze and doing drugs and turning tricks they will never not be poor, so what's the point in pumping money into housing for them before they get cleaned up?" The mayor appears to believe that once poor people's souls are rebuilt through education (HOW AWESOME LIBERAL IS THAT IDEA!) they will be new people fit for living in new buildings.

In other words, once the poor are no longer poor they will be fit to live in the new buildings. And, interestingly enough, this explains why all of the projects have been replaced with expensive condos and the homeless shelters are shut down, so that the poor will just have to hurry up and start not being poor, move away, or just die, all of which will raise property values in Chicago, including those of the mayor and his friends who run the powerful businesses in this city.

The duality of the mayor's thinking is shockingly similar to Freshman philosophy students at conservative colleges. While some people are worried about things like providing food, shelter, and medicine for people, others are concerned with getting their hearts right. In missions this debate is split between whether Christians should provide aid or evangelize. In Chicago the divide is between people who think the government should spend some tax money on rebuilding the low income housing it destroyed and those who follow the mayor in believing that government helps people who help themselves. Here's hoping that as the forthcoming mayoral campaign picks up in Chicago the focus will be on cleaning up government, not just the sidewalks of downtown, and figuring out how to fix the public housing mess in Chicago.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Moody Hates Old People

Bike Rider outside Moody's Jenkins Hall

Hope you don't mind me dropping a local story on everybody, but this one contains everything I love: evangelicals behaving selfishly, local government screwing up, buildings named after ridiculous people, and lots of old people put out on the streets.

Background: Moody Bible Institute has always had a hard time finding housing for its students because it is located smack dab in the middle of chicago. Instead of paying off the local farmers or tearing down houses on the grounds and building posh new dorms, they basically have no option but to buy older buildings around them and convert them into dorms. I first heard of this situation and the building that is the focus of this story on a campus visit in 1999 when I thought for sure Moody was my future....we can all only imagine what would have happened.

In 1994, MBI made a deal with the Housing Development Authority wherein Moody would pay off $6 million of mortage payments and became owners and opporators of a building near their campus that was currently home to a whole bunch of poor old people for whom the building had been set aside to provide affordable housing. As a part of the deal, the school would convert units into dorm rooms whenever they "became available," or as my tour guide on my Moody visit put it, they died off. Moody was not going to push anyone out and would slowly convert the building into a dorm, all the while the new tenants (eager evangelists and future pastors of all sorts of evangelical churches) no doubt attempted to convert the old tenants from whatever ideological persuasion they held at their old age (though none of the news coverage includes this, just imagine the conversations in the hall way or in the community showers!).

All in all, at this point the only real mistake you could pin on Moody at this point is that they went ahead and named the new dorm Jenkins Hall which, I am 98% certain, is named after Jerry Jenkins who's finest work is in the Orel Hershiser biography Out of the Blue, not those other books he wrote the last few years. While the agreement was reached under the Ryan administration (see any local Chicago news about the mess that this was) there is no indication that Moody offered kick backs or paid bribes for the building (though you never know...).

Recently, the Housing and Urban Development people realized that the building sold to Moody had an independent contract that ensured the building would remain low income housing for the elderly until the year 2018. Whoops. Mind you, this wasn't a contract with the previous owners, but a deal set in law that ensured that regardless of what happened to the building, until 2018 this building would be available for old, poor people.

Now we have an interesting issue brewing, no doubt headed to a court room. Hoping to settle on the lawsuit filed this week, Moody offered to allow the current make up of part old people part college students to remain unchanged, moving in new poor old people when those currently in the building "move on." Those representing the elderly have no interest in such a compromise as a permanent fix, offering to allow Moody until the end of the semester to get things straightened out. As Moody students move in, the lawsuit begins and Moody has already declared that if for some reason the courts decide to uphold what was already on the books (more than likely the outcome, from all I can tell), Moody would simply attempt to "opt out" and void the HUD agreement to make the building section 8 housing in 2008, something the HUD, who must grant such outs, has already said it would deny.

While I feel somewhat bad for Moody since they were told their plan was acceptable when they first aquired the building, their present attitude is not a great idea. For starters, it appears as though their primary objective is to secure as much room for their students as they can. Their compromise basically offers to have 50/50 housing until 2008 and then attempting to opt out of the agreement the building made with the government through 2018, then filling the whole building up with students. I guess what bothers me about the attitude of Moody in this is that they are the most active evangelical institution in the city. They require ministry, evangelism, and service of their students for the less fortunate in Chicago. While I know it makes absolutely no business sense for Moody to own a building filled with low income elderly folks, I don't believe doing good business is Moody's primary objective. Yet, all we hear in their statements regarding the issue is that they have got to find a place to put their students, no concern or regret for the elderly people looking for somewhere to live who can't afford it. There are plenty of forces in this city attempting to convert buildings that offer low income housing into high income condos and various other types of units. You wouldn't expect a Bible school to be one of them (even if they are only accidently breaking the law).

Perhaps they should simply try to void the original contract and get their 6 million bucks back. Or maybe they could honor the agreement through 2018 for at least half the building. What I suggest as the best solution involves the single greatest things about Moody: NO TUITION!! This brilliant idea gives me a brilliant idea: enroll the old people into MBI as full time students, tuition free, and arange for their housing bills to equal whatever the HUD housing was costing in the first place! It's a win-win: Moody gets to boast record bumps in enrollment and the people still have a place to live, not to mention the unique inter-generational housing opportunities Moody could offer.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Important than U2

This is a repost of a comment on my brothers blog where he dared anyone to list 12 more important bands than U2. I thought at first it was a dare to limit your list to 12, but apparently he thought you couldn't come up with 12. I came up with 22 off the top of my head. And I took it serious so I didn't include Paris Hilton or anything like that on the list. And he said Bob Dylan was not to be included because he is too near divine. Anyway, here's my comment.

I can list 4 gabillion bands more important than U2 right now. In fact, I can only think of one band less important than U2 and that is Copeland. But here is an honest list of 12 bands that are not only better but doing things that matter in music as opposed to riding the exercise bike of U2 paint-by-numbers music writing. And, to be fair, I will limit myself to very few alt. folk acts, focusing on the rock and roll that U2 supposedly dominates. (also why you see no Kanye or Outkast on this list, though both are clearly more important than U2) You’re welcome. And these are in no particular order.

1. Yo La Tengo: They have been doing rock and roll forever too, only they learned how to write different types of songs, create musical complexity, and not believe they were the greatest thing ever. Their new CD coming out soon is more important than the last 4 released by U2.

2. White Stripes: Jack White is to rock and roll what Ty from Extreme Home Makeover is to homes.

3. Devendra Banhart and his friends: now you may say “but jake, this guy is alt. folk, not rock and roll” but you are wrong. DB and his friends (i.e. Andy Cabic’s band Vetiver) are reworking rock from the folk end of things, similar to Dylan’s impact on rock and roll, and are writing compelling songs and putting on amazing concerts all over the world.

4. Broken Social Scene: Can you say supergroup? While their first effort was good, they regrouped, got even more super, and released a self-titled album the way any good rock and roll group would. They rock AND write music that makes you think, imagine that!

5. The National: While they may have come around too late in life to make an eternal impact on the rock and roll scene, these guys put out an album (Alligator) that any U2 fan would love and would probably think was awesome and they are nobodies!

6. Arctic Monkeys: I don’t even really like these guys, but they are the hottest brit act coming to the shores of the USA and they just won the Mercury Prize for best album from English or Irish artists, so eat that U2!

7. Arcade Fire and friends: Again, I’m not even crazy about them (though I did enjoy Arcade Fire for a few months of winter dreariness and for this I am forever thankfull) but any fool can realize that what they are doing for music is more important and creative than the last 10 years of U2. AND they were on the cover of Time. AND U2 likes them as much as your little sister.

8. Belle & Sebastian: Sometimes you have to go back in time to be progressive and interesting. These guys are making the retro thing work and using it to find new roads for rock and roll

9. THE NEW PORNOGROPHERS: Maybe the greatest Rock and Roll band going today? A super super group who are always making hits and may someday take over the world.

10. MODEST MOUSE: If I were ranking these, they would be in the top 3 for sure. They are the new Radiohead in that they have taken their “indie rock” and made it main stream. AND JOHNNY FREAKING MARR IS NOW IN THE BAND!! Has this gone unoticed by everyone? Perhaps I should explain, briefly, that Johnny Marr was the musical mind behind The Smiths and if I need to explain further you need to buy some new CDs starting with The Queen Is Dead.

11. Animal Collective: If you think U2 is the most important thing in the world you will probably hate Animal Collective. But they are the psyche-rock leaders of the 21st century. And you may think they are awesome even if you don’t do acid. Check out Feels if you want something different, a lot of people have decided to like them who I never would have expected to. BUT even if you don’t like them, they are more important than U2.

12. THE FLAMING LIPS: This just proves that I am not ranking these 12 more important rock bands than U2. These guys have U2 cornered in every way except maybe friendships with African diplomats. Everyone says that U2 live is one of the greatest experiences you could ever have. I ask you: do they have people in animal suits, confetti, giant balloons, etc.? People say that they were inovative in their recordings, but I ask you: have they ever released a CD that required you to play four different CDs simultaneously on four different CD players? And everyone says that Bono is the greatest front man in rock, but again, I ask you: does he ever smear fake blood on himself to add to the dramatics of the song, or has he ever filmed a Christmas movie in his backyard, or even once made an accoustic guitar into a sound effects machine? I DON’T THINK SO!

Here’s 10 more that I would include: Sufjan, Iron & Wine, Band of Horses, Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, Bruce Springsteen, Akron/Family, Howe Gelb, The Rolling Stones (still), Bright Eyes, Sleater-Kinney, Wilco.

The one rap album I would buy