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April 25, 2008

Syke Dyke of Trouble Funk is dead

Robert Reed, known onstage as Syke Dyke, died on April 13, 2008 at the age of 50.

Here's his obituary by Ben Sisario from Wednesday's New York Times.

    Robert Reed, Band Keyboard Player, Dies at 50

    Robert Reed, who played keyboards in Trouble Funk, one of the definitive groups of go-go music — a raucous, high-intensity dance style that flourished in the 1970s and early ’80s — died on April 13 in Arlington, Va. He was 50 and lived in Greenbelt, Md.

    The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his brother Taylor, who played trumpet in the band.

    Go-go grew out of the dance clubs of Washington in the 1970s, when live bands competed with disco D.J.’s for gigs and dancers’ attention. As pioneered by Chuck Brown, the bands kept a taut, midtempo beat for marathon sets and threaded steady rhythms through the breaks between songs so that dancers never had a chance to sit down.

    Influenced by Sly Stone, the Ohio Players and other leading funk bands of the era, Trouble Funk had a playful, futuristic style that brought go-go closer to the rap sound that was then emerging in New York. Famous as a tight live band, it played shows that routinely lasted for hours.

    Mr. Reed, whose stage name was Syke Dyke, toyed with his keyboards to create flashy electronic noises that could resemble science-fiction sound effects. Tony Fisher, Mr. Reed’s childhood friend, who was called Big Tony, played bass and acted as the “talker,” sing-speaking repetitive, call-and-response phrases to whip up both the band (“Hey, fellas, do you want to take time out to get close to the ladies?”) and the crowd (“Get on up!”).

    Early on Trouble Funk was adopted by tastemaking D.J.’s like Afrika Bambaataa, who played its records alongside rap and electronic tracks. The group worked with ’80s rap stars like Kurtis Blow, and certain Trouble Funk songs have become among the most sampled sounds in hip-hop history, used by LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Boogie Down Productions and Will Smith, among many others.

    Trouble Funk’s first album, “Drop the Bomb,” was issued in 1982 on Sugar Hill Records, the New York label that dominated early hip-hop. Along with other groups like E.U. and Rare Essence, Trouble Funk outlasted disco, and for a time in the ’80s, go-go was poised to become a mainstream hit. The group toured the globe and was signed to Island Records, home of Bob Marley and U2.

    But as was true of many go-go groups, its kinetic energy as a live act did not translate into hit singles. After two albums on Island that received lukewarm responses, “Saturday Night. Live! From Washington DC” (1985) and “Trouble Over Here Trouble Over There” (1987), the band ceased recording, though it continued to perform, particularly in Washington.

    Mr. Reed was born in Newport News, Va., and later moved with his five siblings to Washington, where his mother worked as a nurse. He graduated from Howard University with a degree in music and had recently worked at Bowie State University in Bowie, Md., instructing students in recording technology.

    In addition to his brother Taylor, his survivors include two other brothers, Ernest and Melvin; two sisters, Sheila and Toni; his wife, Sheila; a son, Robert Jr.; and a daughter, Angela.


The video up top features the band performing "Still Smokin'."

April 25, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Golf Ball Suction Cup


Because the game is hard enough without your having to bend over and reach into the hole to retrieve your ball.

From the website:

NeverMore Putter Grip

Sinking Putts is Good; Slipping a Disc to Retrieve the Ball is Bad!

Just regrip your favorite putter with NeverMore and you'll never have to stoop to such low levels on the green again.


Cushioned synthetic grip comes with one flat side to lock your hands into the correct grip.

One-piece suction cup butt lets you retrieve putts without wrenching your back or slipping a disc — and cannot fall off.

Fits all standard length putter grips (10.7" long) — does not fit over existing grip, which must first be removed.


For mid-size putters, in Tan, Red, Black or Blue: $16.95

For oversize putters, in Red, Black or Blue: $19.95.

April 25, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Would you offer me $230,000 for bookofjoe?


You would?

Show me the money.

April 25, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

April 25, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Julian Barnes is mortally afraid of dying


Like many writers, he figured if he wrote a book about it, it would make things better.

Didn't work.

At book's end he was just as frightened, if not more so, by the prospect — and that much closer.

Excerpts follow.

    From 'Nothing to be Frightened of'

    I don't believe in God, but I miss him. That's what I say when the question is put. I asked my brother, who has taught philosophy at Oxford, Geneva and the Sorbonne, what he thought of such a statement, without revealing that it was my own. He replied with a single word: "Soppy."

    A common response in surveys of religious attitudes is to say something like, "I don't go to church, but I have my own personal idea of God." This kind of statement makes me in turn react like a philosopher. Soppy, I cry. You may have your own personal idea of God, but does God have his own personal idea of you? Because that's what matters.... The notion of redefining the deity into something that works for you is grotesque.

    The fury of the resurrected atheist: that would be something worth seeing.

    Dawkins [Richard] has expressed the hope that "When I am dying, I should like my life taken out under general anaesthetic, exactly as if were a diseased appendix."

    I don't see why our cleverness or self-awareness should make things better rather than worse.... We presumably fear death not just for its own sake but because it is useful to us — or useful to our selfish genes, which will not get passed on if we fail to fear death enough...."

    In April, 1848, when Flaubert was twenty-six, the literary friend of his youth, Alfred Le Poitteven, died. In a private memorandum which has only just come to light, Flaubert recorded how he looked at this death, and looked at himself looking at it. He kept a vigil over his dead friend for two consecutive nights; he cut a lock of hair for Le Poitteven's young widow; he helped wrap the body in its shroud; he smelt the stink of decomposition. When the undertakers arrived with the coffin, he kissed his friend on the temple. A decade later, he still remembered that moment: "Once you have kissed a corpse on the forehead there always remains something on your lips, a distant bitterness, an aftertaste of the void that nothing will efface."

    Lessing described history as putting accidents in order, and a human life strikes me as a reduced version of this: a span of consciousness during which certain things happen, some predictable, others not; where certain patterns repeat themselves, where the operations of chance and what we may as well for the moment call free will interact...."

    These different kinds of truthfulness will be fully apparent to the young writer, and their joining together a matter of anxiety. For the older writer, memory and the imagination begin to seem less and less distinguishable. This is not because the imagined world is really much closer to the writer's life than he or she care to admit... but for exactly the opposite reason: that memory itself comes to seem much closer to an act of the imagination than ever before.

April 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Solar-Powered Fan Hat


That's hot.

I mean, cool.

Hot and cold.


From the website:

    Solar-Powered Fan Hat

    Solar-powered cap with built-in fan provides a cool breeze over your head on a hot day.

    Uses 1 AA battery (not included) whenever sunlight is insufficient.

    Worn backwards, it cools the back of your neck and head.

    Lightweight and silent.

    Adjusts to fit most.



April 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World's most anatomically correct shoes


"This shoe... and the Adidas sneaker... are trompe-l'oeil paintings applied directly to the feet. Nice as they look, you can't buy them."


Makeup by John Maurad and Jenai Chin; photos by Tom Schierlitz.

[via streetanatomy.com]

April 25, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Spaghetti Portion Control — With 4 twists




"Noooodle," from German design studio ding3000, is a nifty device for measuring out perfect pasta portions for one to four people, then serves as a trivet for the hot pot.


Apply within.

[via pulp.co.nz]

April 25, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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