Technically a "neo-Hittite" lion, but whatever.
The Kingdom of the Hittites
by Trevor Bryce
Here's a tip if you are going to delve into non-fiction: "Try not to read crap." Can't over-emphasize that point. People put out a lot of shitty books and non-fiction is not exempt. As in collecting music, the intelligent reader should be cognizant of who is putting out the book. For example, if Oxford University Press puts out a book, I know it won't be filled with crazy bullshit. It may be a little stodgy stylistically, but I don't read non-fiction for style, I read it for facts.
I wanted to do a Friday book review for Kingdom of the Hittites to rave about it, basically. There aren't many books where I read it, put it down and say 'Ah, perfect" but such is the case with The Kingdom of the Hittites by Trevor Bryce. It is possibly the only book anyone should ever have to read about the Hittite empire and yet it packs greater pound-for-pound "wow" punch then any other book I can remember reading.
Perhaps the signal highlight of Kingdom of the Hittites is the Chapter on Troy (fabled local of Homeric myth.) Early on Bryce argues that the Kingdom identified by "Ahhiyawa" was actually the Mycenaean Empire of the pre-Greek bronze age. Later he introduces us to a man named Piyamaradu(Paris???): he's a rogue prince in conflict with both the Hittite King an the Ahhiyawa king, who may or may not be the Homeric Agamemnon.
Ultimately, he sees The Odyssey as a weaving together of several disparate attacks on the city of "Troy" by both Hittites and Mycenaean/Greeks that happened over a lengthy period. It's pretty heady stuff, and in his recent book Travelling Heroes Robin Lane Fox confirmed as much (which is where I read about this book originally.)
Running a close second is his theory that the fall of the Hittite empire was triggered by a drought, and resulted in the migration of several central Indo European/Anatolian peoples to new locations in the Meditteranean basin, perhaps directly spawning the Etruscans in north-central Italy and creating whole tribes of Pirates who show up in Egypt, Crete and Mycenae as the so-called "Sea People."
And it's not a long book- the whole thing wraps up in about 400 pages. And there is nothing to follow up on- every source cited is either in a specialist publication, written in german or written in Turkish.
Finally, the Hittite's are a very important link in the dissemination of cultural ideas from East to West. They were in regular contact with the Mycenaean empire. It's something that is completely at odds with the picture presented by Mycenaean experts, who portray that culture as having little contact with the Anatolian sub-continent.
Dedicated to classics and hits.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Technically a "neo-Hittite" lion, but whatever.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Mario Orduno Presents
@ The Whiste Stop, July 17th, 2009 FREE
July is a magical month in southern california. The temperature at the beach is in the low 70s and the temperature in the communities just off the beach varies between 65 and 80. People often comment on how nice the weather is in San Diego, but it's most advantageous aspect is its mildness. The two best days in weather-terms are a cool summer day with sunshine and a warm winter day with sunshine. The days here fit into one of those two categories 75% of the time. That is to say nothing of the culture, only of the climate, the physical geography, not the cultural geography.
San Diego is a Mediterranean place: As I sit in my backyard reading ancient history, it isn't hard to imagine Diogenes strolling down the street on the way to his academy. The mildness of the climate is often ascribed to the culture- it is a reverse anthropomorphism: The ascribing of characteristics of natural phenomena to human beings. It makes sense- humans haven't been here long enough to make a deep impression on a breath taking physical environment. People think of southern California as being the ultimate in terms of excessive civilization: freeways, huge cities, smog, etc. but really it's just the opposite. In my mind, our human world here in southern California is like ancient Timbuktu, a place where future occupiers will look at this period an wonder how a city could have ever stood in this location.
I. Pearl Harbour
Pearl Harbour springs from the same well that brought forth No Age and Mika Miko: the fact that they played their first show ever at the Whistle Stop in San Diego is a testament to a certain level of savviness. They brought with them at least 10 fans, likely from the Los Angeles area. Pearl Harbour is a live three piece- with a boy on guitar, a young 20 something female singer and a younger female guitarist. It's certainly the later two that will draw all the attention. The reaction from the people I talked to was positive "I liked them," "like a fresh southern california breeze." They used a drum machine for their beats a la other acts. I've noticed mixed reaction to the "ipod backing tracks' phenomenon in other parts of the country. It seems like an ill informed opinion to be critical of this newish trend among "rock" acts: ditching the drummer is the best thing a young artist can do to ensure some kind of tour-ability. The days of wide spread prejudice against the integration of electronics into rock music has been left in the dustbin of history along with other sad "rock-ist" beliefs that have largely obliterated among music enthusiasts by Pitchfork era genre hopping.
The entire band is totally adorable and the repeated use of arpeggio's by the young guitarist recalled classic pop/rock melodies dating back to the 50s. Surely the integration of Roy Orbison/Buddy Holly/Motown era song structures is one of the hallmarks of the sound of Pearl Harbour, as well as other acts. I suspect in time this band will be presented in the Smell lineage of No Age, Mika Miko et al. I support it, and I weep for the comments that this band is going to generate from misogynistic indie rock aholes who hate on all women artists that don't fit into their pre-conceived stereotypes about what female artists "can" and "can't" do. I hear it all the time here in San Diego, but I think it's a minority view and I think that one of the characteristics of the cultural environment in southern California towards women is "above average friendly." We're not afraid of female artists down here.
Certainly, the sustained work rate of a band playing its first show is unknown so it's premature to be making any value statements about Pearl Harbour, but I want to hear the recordings for sure- also other people should check them out live in other cities if they have the opportunity to find out themselves about a band that is going to polarize critics.
II. Best Coast
This is the second band in a row where my inclination has been to protect them from, rather them expose them to, the wider world of music enthusiasts. No doubt, they are going to have their shows upcoming at the Smell, and they gave me a tape which I can't wait to listen to on my office boom-box (the only way I play tapes ha ha.) Best Coast is sonically more complex then Pearl Harbour, with fewer of the picked out 50s era guitar lines and more of the distorted guitar fuzz. Best Coast has a 7" coming out on Art Fag Recordings. I'm really looking forward to it. The live performance was very static, that needs to be worked out before it's taken to a wider audience. She wrote a couple of songs that I would call "hits."
They have a 7" coming out on Volar Records/Single Screen and I can't wait to review it here, at the appropriate time, of course. If there is Justice in this world, then is a band that will make it outside of San Diego, CA.
Are these the people who show up on a saturday night at the Whistle Stop? Half the people ignoring the music, half the people paying attention. That's the way it has always been here, that's the way it always will be. Fine with me- easier to actually see the bands. Of the people that were there to see the music I recognized maybe half of them and some were down from LA to see the first two bands, others seemed to be new- (guy wearing a k records/beat happening t shirt I'm looking at you.)
Certainly, the attention level of the people who were there indicated that there was some local interest in this show among local amateur music enthusiasts. It ought to emphasized what a minority enthusiasts for this brand of music represent in the local area. There are perhaps 75 people who attend these shows with any kind of regularity.
That is the way it will always be here, and there is freedom in invisibility. It's the Roman style freedom: "Freedom FROM." In San Diego, the artists and their fans are ghosts, walking amongst the citizenry unnoticed in between tanning plastic surgery freaks and american idol finalists. Two things that San Diego is "not" is a place where a local musician can achieve fame and notoriety amongst the locals or a place where the locals "care" about interesting local music. Trust me about that.
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