Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

The Music of What's Coming

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The best club I've had the pleasure to go deaf in this year is called the Bulgarian Cultural Center in New York. You can smoke there, which already makes it unique in New York, and there is a DJ who mixes a wicked range of Eastern European music with the latest contemporary beats. Everybody in the place was dancing their heads off and knocking back shots of ouzo and plum brandy. There were fashion models, dominatrixes, a gay birthday party, and a fair scattering of euro-trash and Latin Don Juans. I asked some of my young friends what will be the sound of 2004, and they said "mesh," which incorporates smarter hip-hop and Gypsy-Turkish-Romanian-Bulgarian-Indian-dance music. So look for a lot of belly-dancing and swaying in clubs next year, and for a new style of oriental fatalism and languor mixed with raw hip-hop vitality.

The reasons for this are many: the whole area from Iraq to the Urals is exporting music as these places move from obscurity into our living rooms; this music expresses an attitude toward life that can best be translated as, "It's all in God's hands, so boogie till you drop." This attitude is not alien to our American spirit, but it hasn't been this timely since the early '70s when the world was going to hell in a disco basket. Young people from Iraq to all the 10 nations joining the European Union next year, feel hopeless, decadent, and, paradoxically, exhilarated. Gypsy music, in particular, gives one the feeling that the world is such a miserable place you can only achieve nirvana through ecstatic story-telling and sexy dance. If you add to this profound historical knowledge a river of alcohol and a good jobless rate, you get a party-world-without-borders, and that, folks, is what's next.

In addition, every person you'll never see on corporate TV will produce descriptions of this new reality using the abundantly cheap technology, and a whole generation will detach itself from the official media and politics of this country. The young will "mesh," while the older drudges will grow increasingly bitter over the gap between what they are told and how they see things. The latest generation gap is in the making, and it's driven by this mesh-music, which is going to make for a new and indescribable politics.

My journalistic colleagues are busy at this time of the year summing up the weird year 2003 and trying to tease out 2004. The optimists among them like to point to some good economic news, but the masses of unemployed young know better. My own prediction for 2004: there will be a new stock-market bubble with a feel-good patina for the consumption of news-junkies. When this bursts, there will be a swelling of Gypsy violins meshing into devilish apocalyptic dance music. And then the communal movement of the 1960s will be reborn in squats and country places from where a wave of new media will take on the official hallucination of corporate media by ignoring it completely. We already live in several separate political-cultural realities: you've seen nothing yet. There will be thousands.

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