Pop Philosophy

Hip hop show in memory of Ken Hamilton; music in Matt Gonzalez's office

A moment of silence The Foothills College radio station, KFJC-FM (89.7), has a distinct reputation: It offers difficult listening, absolutely and unapologetically. This stance may not win the station many friends among publicity companies or major labels but it does guarantee listeners a unique experience. It also necessitates a certain kind of individual, someone like Ken Hamilton.

"Ken would call it how he saw it," says KFJC General Manager Steve Taiclet. "He was respectful of others' ways but very sure of his own. He was wild and out of control on the surface, but in another way he was well contained, a no-bullshit kind of guy. I think [fellow DJ] Jason Biggs said it best when he said, "He was as pure as black, as clear as white.'"

Unfortunately, as Biggs wrote in a recent eulogy for Hamilton on the KFJC Web site (www.kfjc.org), "Tragedy is as normal as fire on a match, only the burn is hotter. The real puzzle is how we manage to escape it for such long stretches of time." When Hamilton died as a result of a car accident on Dec. 22 last year, the airwaves lost a unique voice. Not only was Hamilton the music director for the station, but he was also the producer of The Monday Morning Beat Down, a valuable showcase for local hip hop and turntablist acts.

Shane Nesbitt, owner of the Burlingame hip hop shop Below the Surface and a good friend of Hamilton's, says, "He's going to be missed by Bay Area hip hop and so many other people beyond the scene. He helped out more people than he ever knew." In honor of Hamilton, Nesbitt has organized a hip hop show on Sunday, March 4, at the Justice League. The bill is composed of Hamilton's friends, listeners, and show guests. Performers will include Third Sight, Sacred Hoop, Subcontents, Displex6, Lip Service, Tape Master Steph, Optimus Rhymes, Logic, Kinx, and Insomniac. All proceeds go to KFJC. Tickets are $5 at the door; call (650) 342-1042.

Goodbye goldbrick roadLast week it was Matt Gonzalez's turn to be puffily profiled in the Chronicle's ongoing "Who the heck are these kooky supes?" series. Staff writer Ilene Lelchuk seemed to think that the former public defender was the wackiest of the bunch. Not only does he wear Doc Martens and recite poetry, but he also played techno music at his inauguration party. Quel bizarre!

Hoping to get a clearer picture of Gonzalez's shindig, I spoke with him via phone. "We had these DJs from [the record store] Braindrops play," Gonzalez recalled with a chuckle. "They got really loud and presented this very unwelcome atmosphere for all the lobbyists who were poking around. They would look in and say, "Uh, we'll come back later.'"

Things at City Hall are a bit different since Gonzalez took over Amos Brown's office. "We get a legislative account to spend money on what we want so we got a CD player," Gonzalez explained. "When our aide took in the receipts, they gave him this look. You know, "Furniture is fine, no problem, but what's this for?'"

Not wanting to be outdone by the Chron piece (which, my female friends point out, didn't once mention how "dreamy" Gonzalez is), I asked him which albums were in heavy rotation on the office player. "We're listening to a lot of live John Coltrane, Bill Evans. Do you know this band Grandaddy?" Then he went on to mention local jazz composer Marcus Shelby, Sea & Cake leader Sam Prekop, and, when pressed, his brother's band, Lessick's Kid.

The obscurity of Gonzalez's selections may not seem like a big deal until you realize that public figures tend to have more, shall we say, mainstream tastes. A couple years back, then-Giants pitcher William Van Landingham caused a small stir by mentioning his appreciation of indie rock acts Pavement and Yo La Tengo. For baseball players, this admission was akin to "President" Bush admiring the ungodly warblings of Diamanda Galas. Or having an admittedly gay artist like Elton John duet at the Grammys with a devout homophobe like rap star Eminem -- oh wait, that happened. Now, I know Gonzalez is busy with this city-running thing and all, but perhaps he could see to it that aging rock stars and their bad toupees were banned from going onstage and acting like they've defeated world hunger when they're really just trolling for exposure.

Beats don't fail me nowLast week's Lesser record release party (Mike Rowell's "The Lesser of Two Evils") was canceled due to the Peacock Lounge's fire code problems. The event has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 7, at "Synth" at Blind Tiger, 787 Broadway (at Powell), S.F. Tickets are $5; call 788-4020.

 
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