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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Michael Franti
Consumer Dystopia: The future doesn't look so bright to Spearhead's Michael Franti.

Photo by Michael Miller

Stop the Revolution
Spearhead's Michael Franti has his doubts about the technological future

WHILE INVESTIGATING last week's high-tech gift guide, I received this thoughtful, if contrarian, response from Michael Franti, lead vocalist of hip-hop group Spearhead. The enigmatic leader has been busy in the studio recording Spearhead's second CD, Chocolate Supahighway, which is due in January.

"Yes, yes, yes, technology," he replied to my question about his favorite high-tech toy. "First, allow me to begin by saying that there is a price that the entire world will pay for all the so-called advances that we see in technology today. The first one is spiritual--each technological advance is aimed at removing human beings from the rigors and cycles of day-to-day life. Rather than seeing you face-to-face, we talk over the computer. This is great if you think written communication is all there is. I don't. There are so many ways people communicate--body language, vocal inflection, eye contact, facial expression, touching, even smell--that cannot, and will never be, replicated.

"Technology seeks to take physical work out of the hands of the laborer, mental work out of the minds of the scientist and questions of the heart out of the souls of the philosopher. The ultimate goal of technology is consumer utopia--anything you want at the push of a button! All within a world where two-thirds of our population has never made a phone call!

"We see every day the effects of pollution. Environmental death for the convenience of modern living. However, rarely do we see how this affects people in countries who don't have the luxuries of, say, garbage men. A few years ago, I stayed in a village in Belize. I saw tons of trash and Coke bottles everywhere and thought, Don't these people want to clean up after themselves? Then I saw some kids eating a mango and dropping it on the ground--simple, drop it, and it regenerates the way it's supposed to. Decomposition--something plastic and silicon and refined paper and metal products cannot do on their own. At best, we can recycle, but technology does not regenerate. Therefore with each technological advance, we create something which is dead."

Lest Franti appear entirely a Luddite, he also told us about his favorite high-tech toy: "I got a really cool MPC60 drum machine which is my favorite technological tool/toy and life breather of DOPE ASS beats."

No Pork Flavor

On Sunday (Dec. 8), the Cactus Club will host Living Legends, an afternoon hip-hop show featuring underground fablers and recent KSCU weekend hosts Mystik Journeymen, the Grouch, Aesop and Rino from Japan's Lampeye Crew. The show starts at 4pm and is $5 with a package of Top Ramen. Make sure it is pork-free. ... If you were tuned into KSCU (103.3FM) last weekend, Mystik guest-hosted the station's rap show. One successfully freestyled a line about going to Mars, eating marshmallows with a buck-toothed girl from Uranus. Off the hook.

Wednesday Night Fever

Will Wednesday night replace Saturday night for catching fever? Local turntable wizards Mark Farina and Harry Who? take over Agenda's Cellar in downtown San Jose on Wednesdays for Mumbo Jumbo, a tribal/jungle disco fantasy. ... Across South First Street, at the new B-Hive, DJ Bernard spins soulful treacle at Soulfood. ... Club Kaos in Fremont presents up-and-coming Warner Bros. act Catfish with local longhairs Floodland on Dec. 11. ... Edge booker Jimmy Arceneaux has assembled his second Rubbergroove explosion. Fat Opie, the Alley Boys, Tribal Disco Noise, Suck, Smashmouth, Slag, Crack, Simon Stinger and Salmon are scheduled to perform short, sharp sets of 15 minutes. The show is at the Edge on Dec. 19; the $5 admission helps benefit the Down Syndrome League.

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From the December 5-11, 1996 issue of Metro

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