Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Damian Marley Walks to Zion–and My Play List

Damian “Jr Gong” Marley (Bob’s youngest son) plans to keep on walking the “Road to Zion,” as one of his songs repeats. And with his latest album, “Welcome to JamRock,” released in September 2005, he has walked his way somewhere else too: the top of my play list.

“Welcome to Jamrock” is reminiscent of the music that is born from deep within long, sweeping dreadlocks and the smoke that curls around them. But what Marley has done to create this masterpiece is combine the sounds his father would approve of with the current splashiness of the American R&B/hip-hop wave. His song “Road to Zion” features Nas and “Beautiful” features bad-boy Bobby Brown.


Not only is this album blatantly and shamelessly political–Marley explains the reality of poverty and drug-addictions in Jamaica and comments liberally on war–but also it is deeply spiritual. In “Confrontation,” Marley touts the importance of having faith:

You see, you gave precious life to me
So I live my life for you… You…
You see, you’ve always been there for me
And so I’ll be there for you… You…
…Bless your eyes and may your days be long
May you rise on the morning when His kingdom come.

Like all Rastas, Marley believes that with Jah (the Rastafari word for God), everything is gonna be all right.


Will I seh, “Baby you’re the cleanest
The true definition of what my queen is
Nothing coulda ever really come between us
Share the same room and Jah will feed us.”

Though religion isn’t usually thought of as arousing, who said being spiritual can’t be sexy?
In “Beautiful,” Marley toasts to that and outlines the kind of passion that is all encompassing:

Now it typically became an everyday thing
Regularly, physically communicating sexually, scientifically penetrating
Until she start spiritually resonating
Ah so mi know she real and seh she ah nuh play thing.

Whether he’s wailing in a raspy reggae that’s as buoyant as a Jamaican breeze or crooning in strong, defined dancehall style, Marley proves his ability to reconcile his heritage with the direction mainstream music is moving.


But perhaps his most recognizable creed is also his most powerful. In “Road to Zion” Marley tempts us with a call of redemption and reconnection to his Creator:

Clean and pure meditation without a doubt
Don’t mek dem take you like who dem took out
Jah will be waiting there we a shout
Jah will be waiting there!

Until we get there, Marley’s reflective, free-spirited nature promises not only a successful career but also the lightness that is evoked through listening to his precision.

And who doesn’t fall for someone who spouts truths as often as he honors humanity? “Just walk the narrow pavement/And of love not hatred,” Marley says in “For the Babies.” He continues: “And if you can’t be good, at least be honest to your babies / The strength of Ras Tafari I’m hoping someday maybe / They don’t obey their parents maybe they will [obey me].”

And let’s face it, who wouldn’t?


“Illusion” Is Almost Magical

posted by kris rasmussen

What if someone made a movie of your life? Would you want to watch? And if you did, what would be the highlights? What would you change? The independent film “Illusion,” currently in limited theatrical release, ponders these questions and more through the eyes of a legendary but ailing film director, played by legendary but ailing actor Kirk Douglas in perhaps his last big screen performance.

The movie begins with director Donald Baines waking up in the middle of the night to find that he has been magically transported to an old film house, where he is reunited with a deceased film editor Baines once worked with. The film editor gives Baines the chance to look at three film clips from Baines’s life The talented but lonely director has always regretted abandoning his only son, Christopher, and chooses to see three different moments from Christopher’s life as a way of reassuring himself that Christopher’s life turned out okay. The three film clips show Christopher in his teens, his 20s, and in his 30s, and all the clips center around a thwarted romance between Christopher and a woman he has admired from a distance, Isabelle. When Donald sees that Christopher’s life is about to take a dangerous turn for the worse, he hopes that he can still make a difference in Christopher’s life before it is too late.


While “Illusion” is very sweet and charming at certain moments, more often than not the movie tends to be a little too heavy-handed for me in its treatment of life, death, and reconciliation. And while the gimmick of having Baines on his deathbed in a movie theater as he observes Christopher’s life is clever at first, in the end, I felt that, as a storytelling device, it eventually gets old. Still, Douglas gives an unsettling performance, though perhaps not his best, as he fearlessly uses his own age and infirmities (he suffered a stroke a few years back) to portray an ambitious man who wasted much of his life on work that was ultimately not important. One can’t help but wonder while watching the movie if perhaps Douglas is, in some way, reflecting on his own successes and failures as an actor and a father. So for some movie buffs, his performance will be a spell-binding enough reason to watch “Illusion.”


Anxiously Awaiting ‘Sopranos’ Season Six

posted by donna freitas

Fans of HBO’s “The Sopranos“–the award-winning mafia family-crime drama that many claim is the best show on television–will finally satisfy their long-awaited desire for a new season this Sunday, March 12th, at 9 p.m. It’s been almost two years since the controversial and shocking season finale of Season Five. I won’t give away that ending here, just in case people are still frantically trying to catch up before Sunday. But–SPOILER ALERT–stop reading now if you’re one of those people and don’t want the surprise ruined.


One of the most interesting developments in the show has been within Tony and Carmela’s marriage. In early seasons, Carmela Soprano was determined to stay in her marriage despite the extreme emotional cost she experiences living with a criminal who also enjoys extra-marital affairs with just about any woman (or gumar, as they refer to these mistresses on the show) to whom he finds himself attracted. For Tony, especially given what we see in Season Five, no woman is off limits, even if it’s the fiance of one of his most trusted men.

Why did Carmela stay so long? Because to Catholics, marriage is sacred, a bond formed in the eyes of God that cannot be broken.

Despite this view of marriage as eternal and unbreakable, one of the major themes of Season Five is Carmela’s decision to leave Tony and ulimately pursue a divorce, much to his great anger and dismay. Regardless of her parish priest’s advice to go back to the marriage, Carmela seems determined to end her bond with Tony and find a way to live independently. (A theme very consistent on the show is priestly advice that women should stay in marriages regardless of having husbands who are criminals and unfaithful, and who even may abuse them physcially.)


Without Carmela as the mitigating moral force in his life, we have seen Tony degenerate even further as a person, making him significantly less sympathetic as a character than he was in previous seasons. I am curious to see what happens in their family life, and how Carmela’s and Tony’s characters (and their relationship) develop as Season Six begins.

Will Tony ever be redeemed?


What Profiteth It a Man to Sell His Soul? About $504

posted by burb

The Wall Street Journal reports today on a former pastor who engaged a young atheist to attend a dozen church services in order to critique how Christianity was being offered. The pastor got the young atheist’s services by buying his soul off of eBay.

People have put their souls up for auction on the Internet shopping site before, including a British man who forked over his eternal spirit in 2002 for less than 12 pounds, a move that local clergy called “dangerous.” This time, Jim Henderson, a maverick evangelical minister whose Christian website, called Off the Map, is dedicated to “helping Christians be normal” paid $504 for the soul of DePaul University student Hemant Mehta. (The WSJ story, not available to nonsubcribers on their site, is reprinted on Off the Map.) Henderson proposed that Mehta write his critiques for the site. Mehta in return asked that Henderson donate the money to the Secular Students Alliance, which supports agnostist and atheist groups at schools.

Full disclosure: Beliefnet did not purchase my soul in return for this or any other writing, though they do retain possession of my favorite weird orange tie, which I left in my office closet when I left my position there.

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