I have heard the record of the year, and it is Ricardo Villalobos' Alcachofa, due out this fall on Playhouse. "Dexter" -- the plaintive, melodic merry-go-round that he played live at MUTEK 2002 -- is here, and so is "Easy Lee," recently heard in after hours sets from Richie Hawtin and Villalobos himself. Villalobos of old is still in effect -- margin-scribbling details, hard-scrabble percussion, Latin rhythmic scraps weighted with magnets and tossed into the scrapheap. But it's the plangent vocalizing, vocoded but somehow new-sounding, as though reading the larynx with a geiger counter, that sets the record apart and declares Villalobos the king of a new style of microhouse. This is a sad, solitary record -- a stuck-in-the-brain, hungover brood of a record -- that nonetheless rocks dancefloors, as though uniting us by bringing out our essential autism. All its grooves spiral deeper and deeper into the heart of things.


Pity the backpackers.

That tourists should fall prey to pickpockets in the "Easy Everything" internet cafe -- not just even here, but especially -- seems a particularly cruel irony. Shouldn't the internet, and its house of worship -- this sadly necessary (and thus artificially peppy, dressed up in orange and cheerful fat serif fonts) physical point-of-entry -- afford a kind of diplomatic immunity?


"Some argue that holding a vote now would favor a handful of groups in Iraq — well-organized religious fundamentalists, politically sophisticated exile groups and anyone with cash to burn," writes David Rohre in the New York Times' Week in Review section this week, analyzing why democracy remains a problematic concept in Iraq, and free elections moreso.

Assuming that tax-dodging expat corporations like Tyco count as "politically sophisticated exile groups," this differs from the situation in the U.S. exactly how?

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