Was it, uh, as good for you..?
Passed on without comment:
What a stunningly beautiful game. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like. Both teams playing at the peak of their abilities, with well-executed, distinctive styles of play. Moves and counter-moves. Effort, but no goals. Overtime. Four minutes until the horrid fate of a penalty kick shootout, and Italy scores on a beautiful diagonal shot from the top of the box. The Germans come on strong, and then whoops, Italian counterattack, and another heart-rendingly perfect goal with one minute to go. The diving keeper's glove inches to the left, the goalpost inches to the right, the defender moments behind, and the promise of an awkward turnaround moments ahead. German fans crying. Players in white, orange and black jerseys lying face down on the field, in pain quite a bit worse than what you feel when you knock knees with a defender or bounce your temple off an opposing player's forehead while fighting in the air for a header. Maximum tension, maximum release; the phallocentric eros of football doesn't get any better. One big male orgasm in an enveloping oval stadium, lined with the softly corrugated undulations of the crowd's emotions that caress the game to its finish. The second goal left no question about the finality of its achievement. The rift between joy and grief emotions overwhelmed by their unmistakable combined intensity.
Why does this matter? Its beauty lies in the fact that it doesn't, but manages to supercede things that do. Pointlessly beautiful, beautifully pointless.
Wolf Parade is getting a lot of attention as, um, the next big thing. And their song "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" is stuck in my head in a pretty intense way.
The Hype Machine is a searchable archive of audio tracks posted to weblogs. It's neat.
I have it on good authority that the next next big thing is think about life!. Their live show is pretty great, anyway.
I'm oddly fascinated with the... well, hype machine. And how it chooses what's going to get the attention of hundreds of thousands of people.
I know I'm supposed to just listen to music and like it or not independent of the amount of attention it's getting. But I inevitably rely heavily on the opinions of other people, and that seems to collide with a love of analyzing systems, making my music listening an abortive subset of what's being talked about, what my friends make, and what I happen to have heard and liked.
God doesn't always have the best goddamn plans, does he?
Yep, it's stuck.
Thee AP has a long piece today about Montreal's hype-hype-hyped music scene.
I moved here in January, and unwittingly showed up in the middle of this (apparently) super-hot scene. Since I arrived, my roommate (Matt Miller of Mandatory Moustache, the series mentioned in the article) has been interviewed I don't know how many times by journalists who have shown up looking for the hot new thing, making documentaries and filing wire copy.
Having been to shows at Casa Del Popolo, El Salon, Sala Rosa, Pharmacie Esperanza and other venues mentioned as "hotbeds" or whatever the cliché of the day is (and lived with two people who are immersed in the "scene"), I couldn't have told you that there was a red-hot music scene going on. I'm told that turnout to shows is a fair bit higher than normal, though.
I'm not sure if this just means I'm blind, but this paragraph struck a chord:
In many cities, this would qualify as a see-be-seen crowd. But in Montreal, it's the status quo. This is one cosmopolitan city where celebrity and pretence don't exist -- just a strong community of musicians and artists dedicated to their craft.One thing I find refreshing about Montreal is the lack of regular fretting about being a "world class city" or the variation-du-jour on that theme. There's a self-confidence that means people don't feel like they need to move to NYC to feel like they made it--or need to make it at all, for that matter.
They don't necessarily need approval from the outside world, despite the onslaught of international media attention. But now that it has arrived -- making Montreal a successor to former musical "hotbeds" like Seattle; Austin, Texas; Omaha, Neb.; and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn -- many here have mixed feelings.
I felt like I had the quintessential Montreal experience a few nights ago. I was heading to a friend's place on my bike, and caught a tiny glimpse of what was apparently the grand finale of a massive international fireworks competition, but I was late, and kept going. All I mean is that there are billion decadent, exciting things going on all the time, but I end up missing almost all of it because there is a whole layer of other creative activity on a smaller scale to distract me, whether its indy rock, activism or a horde of zombies clashing with the Society for Creative Anachronism.
New York and to lesser extent Seattle felt that way too when I spent time there, but Montreal feels like a place where more people do things, and fewer people jockey to get into positions of power where they'll be able to do things.
That's probably totally subjective and possibly quite unfounded. However: assuming for a moment that its true, I'd have to further hypothesize that it's due to Francophone Quebec's willingness to substantially support cultural endeavours (I can go see free dance and theatre any time, though I'm alway busy) and its socially progressive edge. I hold the latter (and the high level of tenant organizing and public support for antipoverty work, squats, etc.) responsible for Montreal's celebrated low rent, which is usually attributed to seperatism and an economic downturn, which haven't been factors for a decade. When the intensely militant Quebec students beat the government and rolled back education cuts, it was indicative of the underpinnings of Montreal's unique status quo that are more often than not ignored by those who benefit from them.
All of which is to say: yay Montreal! It's the most militantly left-wing city north of the Rio Grande, it's a great place to live, a firehose of art and music whether it happens to be hyped or not, and let's not forget why, you silly hyped anglos.
Eva in Tibet: "A highlight for most travellers is arriving between 3 and 5pm, when the monks daily debate. Debate. I had pictured small groups of introspective monks. I approached the courtyard to an orchestra chattering and slapping. Someone was getting a beating. The debate procedure, as it turns out, is to take a text or philosophy (or, as my night students later explained, a simple concept like 'yaks have horns. Those without horns are not yaks.' I don't know how exactly one defends or destroys that statement, but then i'm no philosopher.) and spout it out in a rapid stream of sounds, emphatically punctuated with a slap of the right hand into the left. Before the slap and during the babble, the debater winds up like a baseball pitcher, one knee bent and leg high up until he marks his point by stepping forward and slapping (again, the hand)."
Victrola, a coffeeshop in Seattle, has decided to turn off the wireless access during the weekends to balance out the inundation of non-tipping, lingering, rude wifi-heads (in addition to the more appreciative customers). (via kellan)
The ensuing discussion included this suggestion:
Hey, you could always go wired on weekends. It would be sort of retro, you know, in keeping with Victrola's theme. Put an eight port hub in the middle of the coffee table in the back, and make all of those antisocial net junkies (like me) sit next to each other on the couch-- that would solve the sparsity problem that's created by lone laptop users monopolizing four-person tables.Some small-town bars (I've heard it's more common in Europe) have a big round table that--it's understood--is where you sit if you just want to chat with folks who are there while you have your beer, or whatever. This kind of thing seems to be a natural fit for people with laptops. There's something a little more balanced about working next to a whole bunch of people who are all working on their laptops, and occasionally bantering about something geeky, as opposed to sitting at one's own table, engrossed in the solipsism of the screen. Restricting laptop use to a certain section or a big table might have interesting social results (and would also keep any given coffeeshop from degenerating into a sea of self-centred laptops.
(I'm writing this from the Bridgehead Café in Ottawa. Good coffee, free wireless, and so far, a good laptop-to-people-ratio: 2:14 right now.)
Completely based on my current, long-standing and recent musical obsessions, in descending order of how obsessed I am right now...
Los Lobos, By the Light of the Moon
Los Lobos, The Neighborhood
Los Lobos, Kiko
Lila Downs, La Lìnea
Lila Downs, Una Sangre
Pearl Jam, Riot Act (Seriously though.)
Sarah Harmer, You Were Here
Rheostatics, Whale Music
Rheostatics, Night of the Shooting Stars
The Slackers, basically any of their albums
The Weakerthans, Reconstruction Site
Ani DiFranco, Revelling/Reckoning
Wyclef Jean, Welcome to Haiti: Creole 101
Fela Kuti and the Africa '70, Expensive Shit
Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town
Elvis Costello, My Aim is True
Elvis Costello, This Year's Model
Martin Tielli, Operation Infinite Joy
The Pogues, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
The Pogues, Hell's Ditch
The Pogues, If I Should Fall From Grace With God
Not a lot of new stuff, mostly because I can't decide that I'm going to keep on liking it. And not a lot of really old stuff, because everyone knows about it. And a kabillion things were left off the list. But those there are solid.
Am I the last person in the world to realize that Green Day's American Idiot is an amazing album?
I saw the windows of the local global record store outlet filled with posters it, and figured it was more of the same.
But I'm listening to it for the first time, and am totally surprised. The "I'm alienated, life is shallow" theme can only be taken so far, but this album is all the more impressive for delivering a mature and sophisticated kind of punk aesthetic (not literally, though: the musical styles on this album are fairly diverse).
It's Dookie, ten years later. Comparisons to the Clash wouldn't be unwarranted.
(Another megaband that has been really surprising in a similar way after a series of misstep releases is Pearl Jam. Their 2002 "Riot Act" is very much worth a listen.)
I've been listening to Pink Floyd's The Final Cut: A requiem for the post-war dream. It's generally dismissed by critics as Roger Waters' self-indulgence gone to far, and not up the the band's usual standards. (The band had effectively split up when it was recorded, and it's usually considered a Waters solo album that that rest of Pink Floyd happens to play on.)
I had that as a first impression as well, but I've recently rediscovered it as a subtle and brilliant (and newly relevant) anti-war album. Considered as something other than a Pink Floyd album, it's a remarkably solid exploration of the horrifying possibilities of war, and the human psychology of what perpetuates war, and what resists it.
And some of the lines are brilliant:
The sun is in the eastOr:
Even though the day is done
Two suns in the sunset
Could be the human race is run
They flutter behind you your possible pasts
Some brighteyed and crazy some frightened and lost
A warning to anyone still in command
of their possible future
to take care
In derelict sidings the poppies entwine
with cattle trucks lying in wait for the next time
Someone has compiled a series of blush-inducing snippets of sexual innuendo from the latest Harry Potter book. They're mostly out of context, but nonetheless quite amusing.
I recently read #3, and since everyone has an opinion, I'll note that the first two chapters seemed to take great pains to identify being fat with stupidity, ignorance, mean-spiritedness, and as just generally Bad. Bitch Magazine has made the case fat people are the one group that it's still ok to make fun of. I should add that this is far too often combined with race. The silly fat black guy is still a Hollywood staple; watch for him in 'Old School', 'Blue Crush', and many others.
In any case, Rowling makes this case in a grotequely overstated way. After that, though, the book gets better, and ends up being a well crafted fusion of Hardy Boys and Roald Dahl, like the others. As literature, though, I think it still falls well short of the mark in its observations of and insights into human activity. The Potter books lean on plot twists and magical knickknacks the same way action movies rely on special effects. They are what makes the books compelling, but they also obviate the need for (and reduce the expectation of) anything more substantial.
I've enjoyed the books so far, but I feel some obligation to stem the cultural tide that inevitably grants blockbusting bestselling phenomena more than their due in areas unrelated to popularity.
I found this to be resonant. Though I'm currently avoiding the lifestyle described, the imitation of some imagined norm is not easily escaped. When I find what I think is authenticity, it seems to be hidden in the surface of the imitation, not in some radical deviation from it (which ends up being imitation, newly covered).
So that was us last night: a bunch of strangers drinking lychee martinis out of glasses from Zellers, figuring out how to make a few extra bucks on the side, not flirting. It's an act and we all know it, a sort of by-the-book yuppiedom. We're imitating something, some rite of the upper crust, but what exactly we're imitating remains unclear. We swirl our swizzles and lift telltale pinkies off the glass, by habit, as if we do it all the time. At breakfast, even. But who are we pretending to be? Surely even the highest of high society with martini glasses in hand are just pretending, too.
I've had this song stuck in my head off and on for quite a while. Perhaps, I thought, transcribing the whole thing and posting it here would somehow help with that. The rap song in question is called 'Ahm the System', written and performed by mcenroe, who makes intelligent, high quality Canadian hip-hop. It might also be good to direct some attention towards Peanuts and Corn, the label he runs. There, one can find even more good Canadian hip-hop. I recommend it. (And dang, I hadn't noticed that mcenroe's new album, disenfranchised is finally out. That's good news.)
The song goes something like this, though I have no idea if it comes across as well in text as it does performed as verse (I've still got the song in my head, you ee...). Take my word that it works well in the latter format.
I tow your car away
for not bein' on the payment
so better get used to
the sweet smell of pavement
investor equity [??]
because we doubt that you'll get it back anytime soon
for years I've teased you
you're dad's on TV
your glamourous lifestyle
a cost that's measly
so easily you were hooked
at the chrome trim was all it took
I saw ya comin
welcome to the system
where history's being rewritten continuously
offering protection conditionally
unless you occupy a certain section
(I'll) fix your sickness
and clean your teeth
but there's a line that you don't wanna fall beneath
and if you do then I can't guarantee your safety
it's the ones that need me
that always hate me
ahm the system and you better decide
are you rallying against me or along for the ride
ahm the system and without me you're lost
I can work to your advantage but there's always a cost
ahm the system and let's face it you're mine
they say justice is blind but my eyesight's fine
ahm the system and I shouldn't be new to ya
here's what I'ma do to ya
put you in handcuffs and sign an attorney
try you in a court where all sides work for me
show you the news while I raise an army
promise you the world
make you love you country
I take your picture and issue ID
dim the lights so I make you ugly
check your hearing
test your eyesight
change any law just to make sure I'm right
I'm the one that teaches
your dumb kids to think alike
boys in blue and girls that wear pink
I'm your babysitter and father figure
my only purpose is to make myself bigger
coz my power is endless
it's never enough
I need obedience
and I want your love
I call you reckless and
knock you senseless
ensure your safety
leave you defenseless
pave the roads
and erect the fences
I built your home
said want the rent is
and if you don't pay
then you're evicted
if you still don't pay
then you're convicted
and it all went the way
that I predicted
and you don't have a say
against the system
I provide the food
and I suggest ground beef
I'm the noisy neighbor
that you're livin' beneath
and you can't complain
coz I'm the landlord,
superintendent and the man you work for
whether on welfare or in the workforce
you're just a number to me
just another workhorse
you've been replaced and replaced again
I'm your worst enemy and I'm your closest friend
I'll take everything away to make you believe
coz I saw you on the way in
and I'll watch you leave
Dean Allen: "Folksy wisdom. If in the warzone of a breakup your instinct is to cut loose and part with whatever pride you can salvage, then fair enough and on your bike. But know that in doing so, it's entirely likely that elements of what attracted you to the person on the other side of the burning bridge in the first place, and indeed all the reasons you even care enough to be upset in the moment, are going to congeal and ferment and blow spitballs at the back of your head forever."
David Byrne: I hate world music
White folks needed to see Leadbelly in prison garb to feel they were getting the real thing. They need to be assured that rappers are "keeping it real," they need their Cuban musicians old and sweet, their Eastern and Asian artists "spiritual." The myths and clichés of national and cultural traits flourish in the marketing of music. There is the myth of the untutored, innocent savant whose rhymes contain funky Zen-like pearls of wisdom — the myth that exotic "traditional" music is more honest, more soulful and more in touch with a people’s real and true feelings than the kid wearing jeans and the latest sports gear on Mexican television.
There is a perverse need to see foreign performers in their native dress rather than in the T-shirts and baggies that they usually wear off stage. We don’t want them looking too much like us, because then we assume that their music is calculated, marketed, impure. Heaven forbid they should be at least as aware of the larger world as we are. All of which might be true, but more important, their larger awareness might also be relevant to their music, which in turn might connect it to our own lives and situations. Heaven forbid.
(From Quebec City FTAA protest, April 2001)
Dixie Chick Natalie Maines to a concert in London: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Maines later explained on the country band's web site: "We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our governments' position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."
Now radio stations are boycotting Dixie Chicks songs.
I wonder if people will start replacing "dixie" with "freedom" now.
I saw the Two Towers, liked it except for the racism and counter-intuitive-bordering-on-idiotic-but-distracting-at-best changes to the plot and that goofy dwarf. I'll let other people's posts speak to both issues:
Baraita: "All the characters except Aragorn are supposed to be idiots?"
Golublog: "the Two Towers, which was basically a three hour long George Lucas smack down."
Boston Review: a review of Charles Taylor's book on William James
But as James points out, this scientific posture may obstruct access to truths that we can grasp only through a stance of openness and commitment. Taylor offers a striking illustration of this possibility: "Do you like me or not? If I am determined to test this by adopting a stance of maximum distance and suspicion, the chances are that I will forfeit the chance of a positive answer."
Books of which I plan to read at least a chapter (more in most cases) in the month of January (in no particular order):
Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement
Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish
Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women
Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, In Search of Islamic Feminism
Claire Colebrook, Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition
Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows
Desmond Rochfort, Mexican Muralists
Martin Heidegger, Letter on Humanism
Martin Heidegger, Being and Time
Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool
Various, Gender Politics in Global Governance
For a bigger list of books that look interesting to me, see my Amazon.com wishlist. Amazon wishlists are a convenient way to keep track of books that I plan to read at some point, though it doesn't hurt that people can (easily) buy books for me if they want to.
This was bugging me this summer while I was reading Lord of the Rings for the first time: the story is about as racist as it gets, and there's no getting around it. (via Laughingmeme)
This genetic determinism drives the plot in the most brutal manner. White men are good, "dark" men are bad, orcs are worst of all. While 10,000 orcs are massacred with a kind of Dungeons and Dragons version of biological warfare, the wild men left standing at the end of the battle are packed off back to their homes with nothing more than slapped wrists.
We also get a sneak preview of the army that's going to be representing the forces of darkness in part three. Guess what: "Dark faces... black eyes and long black hair, and gold rings in their ears... very cruel wicked men they look". They come from the east and the south. They wield scimitars and ride elephants.
The Age: Spielberg plans Tintin movie
I want it to be good, but mostly, I fear the end result.
Unwittingly, I ended up writing a fairly long response to Stephen Johnson's response to a review of Pinker's "Blank Slate". Which was still comfortable, because responding to a response to a review of a response to "left intellectuals" is probably the highest level I can aspire to at this point in terms of contributing to a debate about evolutionary psychology. Mostly, it's fun stuff.
Two RoboCop bits:
Take a close look at the track record of this company, and you'll see that we've gambled in markets traditionally regarded as non-profit--hospitals, prisons, space exploration. I say good business is where you find it. --Richard Jones, VP at Omni Consumer Products---
Criminal 1: We're robbing banks, but we never get to keep the money.
Criminal 2: It takes money to make money--we steal the money to buy the coke to sell the coke to make even more money. It's capital investment, man.
Criminal 1: Yeah, but why bother making money when we can just steal it?
Criminal 2: No better way to steal money than free enterprise.
I just saw RoboCop for the first time. Despite the gratuitous, truly gruesome violence, it has some very interesting social commentary as scathing parody of corporate culture, which overlaps generously with organized crime. I keep forgetting that the corporate dystopia was a fairly common setting in 80's movies (Blade Runner being the other full-scale example).
But if you look at dystopic visions today, they're watered down, and the corporations that profit from crime and have taken over public services are strangely absent. In RoboCop, Omni Consumer Products (OCP) prides itself on corporatizing things "traditionally thought of as non-profit," like Police and Hospitals. Looking at Spielberg's Minority Report, we would be led to believe that in 20 years, the corrupt people in positions of power are going to be... mayors? Instead of Back to the Future, it's forward to some idealized-yet-mildly-disconcerting past of the 1950s.
Setting aside for the moment that mayors and politicians are not the ones really in power in the present, it's a little disconcerting that in the 80s, corporate control was a concern that showed up in mainstream culture, but now that the same corporate control is actually showing, pop culture goes out of its way to avoid these concerns. The worst thing about corporatization in Minority Report is the constant in-your-face marketing. Is this really the only real concern we can come up with about where we're heading? RoboCop, flawed though it is, effortlessly shows this not to be the case... fifteen years ago. From the movies I've seen, this trend seems to be fairly inclusive. 80s movies (which I've been watching a lot of lately) tend to comment directly on institutional issues, whereas 90s movies project these concerns onto individuals or ignore them altogether.
What brought all this to mind was, oddly enough, something that Stephen Henighan said when I interviewed him last week about novels and how they reflect and define the concerns of the day:
I think literature is extremely influential in shaping our view of ourselves as a nation. However, what worries me in the present situation is that a lot of the literature that has become very popular portrays a rather nostalgic view of our nation. There's very little that engages in an interesting way with the present. This has fortified or enhanced a certain tendency in Canadian life at the moment to turn our eyes away from the present and avoid a lot of the difficult issues we have, like "do we integrate our military with the states," or "do we sign Kyoto," and meanwhile we're all reading Alistair Macleod or Ann-Marie Macdonald about some misty Cape Breton of many years ago. In a way, the popularity of those novels actually goes along with our general reluctance to confront the present.
The following is an unedited transcript of an interview I conducted with Stephen Henighan on Wednesday, Nov 6, 2002.
Stephen Henighan is the author of When Words Deny the World: The reshaping of Canadian writing, a book of essays about Canadian literature, in addition to two other books of criticism and several novels and short stories. He currently teaches Spanish at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada.
Edited portions of this interview will appear in the Argosy, the independent student journal of Mount Allison University, as well as on Monkeyfist.com. I'll add links when they are available. Though I was careful to record the words as they were spoken, this text may contain errors or erroneous quotations.
Kendall's Hacking Food has been on a roll lately, and with content that's a bit more lighthearted than the usual Monkeyfist fare. A good thing in these dark days.
Two new Monkeyfist pieces by Kendall Clark:
As for guilt-free reveling in carnivorous gustatory pursuits, I'm screwed. About three years ago I read and was convinced by the ethical arguments about meat-eating, primarily Peter Singer's. I eat accordingly.
But I am a weak, weak man.
If contemporary Canadian writers were less hasty to capitulate to what the international market appears to want, they might eventually create novels sufficiently committed to local detail to achieve universal resonance.
I'm reading Stephen Henighan's When Words Deny the World, which is as scathing and incisive as it is beautifully written.
Onion AV Club: White on Both Sides: Alternative-Rock Radio's Race Problem
Still, what makes alternative radio's unofficial ban on black hip hop especially appalling is its eagerness to embrace white hip hop. The Beastie Boys has long been an alt-rock staple, as well as one of the few current acts that can get straight-ahead, non-genre-mixing hip hop on these stations. This year in particular has seen the floodgates open for genre-mixing white hip hop, with Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, and Everlast all scoring crossover success and major airplay. But alt-rock radio's embrace of hip hop is extraordinarily limited, meaning that the cartoonish antics of Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock qualify as alternative, but not the work of black rappers making music with ambitions beyond commercial success.
The New York City Anti-Hipster Forum. A bit of non-objective (partial?) cultural anthropology.
Mediageek has a good rant about "anything goes" radio.
Norman Kelley: Rhythm Nation: The Political Economy of Black Music
A four-part series.
Today, most analyses of black culture are processed through the theoretical prism of the Frankfurt School's "cultural industry" paradigm or through the theoretical template of cultural studies, where the lexicon of post-structuralism thought can be dropped on any subject, provided one uses the requisite "acadospeak" to obfuscate the fact that nothing of real importance is being discussed.
Rather than analyzing the trajectory of black music through the music industry, today's new jack intellectuals have been more interested in discussing or breaking down the high/low distinctions of culture. They are more interested in "interrogating" certain "privileged discourses," than in the nuts and bolts of the music industry:
• how artists are recruited,
• how contracts are structured for maximums profits for records firms,
• how much firms spend on the production of an artist's CD,
• whether rap artists make their living solely by selling units or doing performances (a situation similar to that of blues musicians),
• how musicians lose their copyright to their music,
• the lack of royalty payments, and
• the incredible monopoly of the Big Six.
She is 19 years old and a soldier in a revolutionary movement. Her brother has died for the cause, and she has killed for it. A volunteer is needed for a suicide mission. She steps forward, fiercely and silently, and is accepted. She will become a "thinking bomb," and after she places a garland of flowers around a politician's neck, she will blow them both to pieces.
"The Terrorist" does not name its time or place, or the politician, but it seems broadly inspired by the 1991 assassination of India's Rajiv Gandhi. It is not a political film, but a personal one. If you have ever wondered what kind of person volunteers to become a human bomb, and what they think about in the days before their death, this film wonders, too. -- Roger Ebert
God's heavens built an appetite... for fear and pain. For fear and pain. How deep's your war? How deep's your war? How black's your heart? How black's your heart? Are you heavy inside? Are you dead? Are you heavy inside? Are you dead?
Martin Tielli's solo album, "They didn't even suspect he was the poppy salesman". It's good.
Robert Jensen: Blow Bangs and Cluster Bombs (via Daily Churn)
Not for the faint of heart or stomach... a category that apparently doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of American men who get off on the humiliation of women or other "enemies".
One of the facts initially censored from a journalist's report during that war was that on the USS John F. Kennedy, pilots watched pornographic movies before flying missions, apparently to help get them pumped up to drop bombs. The censor told the journalist that the facts were too embarrassing to allow to be published.
What do blow bangs and cluster bombs have in common? On the surface, very little; pornography and war are different endeavors with different consequences. In pairing them, I am not making some overarching claim about the connection between patriarchy and empire.
But I can say this: To be effective, contemporary mass-marketed pornography and modern war both require cruelty and contempt. The pornography I watched in the summer of 2001 was about the cruelty of men and men's contempt for women. The war I watched in the fall of 2001 was about the cruelty of Americans and Americans' contempt for people in other parts of the world.
Salon:Was Hitler human?
Even before it has been seen, the film has set off an angry reaction among people who are offended by the very idea of a movie presenting a figure of such profound evil in human terms. To do so, they charge, renders the monstrous sympathetic and reduces the enormity of his crimes. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd branded "Max" a cynical exploitation, and the Jewish Defense League is campaigning to block Lions Gate, the film's U.S. distributor, from releasing it. On the group's Web site, JDL official Brett Stone declares that "not only is the film in bad taste, it is also a psychic assault on Holocaust survivors and the entire Jewish community. There is no moral justification for making such a movie. To glorify or humanize Hitler makes a mockery of the 12 million -- 6 million of them Jewish - victims of Hitler's tyranny ... This is not art! This is obscenity!"
Hannah Arendt was attacked for saying something similar, for observing the banality of evil. In her conversations with Eichmann, he told her, "You don't understand, it was all about logistics, I just did the logistical part, I didn't really have a point of view on it." And that's what makes the whole thing terrifyingly plausible.
Some people take finding recipes with google to the next level, and do a search for all the ingredients they have available. Then they can look for a recipe that looks good.
It's time to go back to school, and I'm taking seminars on Kant, Feminist Epistemology/Methodology and Philosophy of Science, and an independent study on Foucault. I'm also still trying to finish painting and arranging the appartment.
Which means fewer updates (as you have probably already noticed). Although, one should never underestimate the utility of the weblog as a procrastination tool, and there will be plenty of opportunities for that while I try to plow through the Critique of Pure Reason and secondary sources in one term (leaving aside the other courses for the moment).
Two good recipes that Syl and I recently used with some success:
That's two for two from giving Google a recipe name and getting a good recipe back.
I go to Amazon.ca, and what do I see?
In Red Rabbit, Tom Clancy returns to vintage cold war thrills and the beginnings of Jack Ryan's career. Ryan's first assignment as a young CIA analyst? Merely to squash a Soviet plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II.
The NYTimes review of Blue Crush has an interesting thought, though maybe I've just missed it from other sources...
The movie is also the latest example of a subgenre that might be called feminexploitation. (Earlier examples include "Bring It On" and "Charlie's Angels.") The idea is to find heroines who are strong, tough, capable and resilient, but who also look fabulous in bathing suits and other revealing attire. The audience appeal is theoretically universal. You can ogle Anne Marie and her friends or you can aspire to be just like them, or even a little of both.
I'd say the camera and script of BC were a bit more respectful, though the marketing wasn't.
Somehow, EPN World Reporter (an online magazine for journalists and photographers) chose misnomer as one of their "top blogs". They describe my coverage thus: "For those looking for a good conspiritorial [sic] rant, keep checking on Dru Oja Jay . As if his watchdog-style blog, Misnomer, isn't enough to keep you on your toes, try keeping up with his movements around the web!"
Two places I don't mind visiting when I'm in Toronto (which I was today) are the Bau Xi Gallery, which has decent painting, and Pages Books and Magazines, which houses a high-quality selection of magazines, and books, with a focus on politics and cultural crit.
I'm reading John Metcalf's Kicking Against the Pricks, a series of biting essays about the state of Canadian literature ('Canlit', they say). His sensibilities remind me at times of Dean Allen's little rants, and his interest in/obsession with the appearance of text (something not lacking at Porcupine's Quill, where Metcalf is The Editor.)
Contrary to all appearances propagated by a misleading marketing strategy, Blue Crush is not a movie about attractive women in bikinis that happens to include surfing. In fact, I found it quite interesting in a lot of ways. At the very least, the surfing footage is visually compelling, and the plot has some surprising elements. And it is progressive in a lot of ways for a hollywood flick (women can be independent, competent, and human in all the ways they usually aren't in the movies.. who'dve thought?), though I had a few quibbles as usual (did they really need to use a goofy, fat black guy for most of the comic relief?). I may be temporarily deluded by my low expectations being exceeded, but I reckon these reviews almost universally miss what made the movie interesting.
I wonder what Bitch Magazine will say about Blue Crush.
XXX, on the other hand, managed to spend a lot of money and be utterly incompetent in all but the most rudimentary technical sense (but look for the super-secure NSA fortress door that wobbles on cheap hinges), in addition to offensive and dehumanizing. A Toronto alternative rag got it right: "Vin Diesel parades around like a fetus on steroids..."
Song o' the moment: The Rheostatics' Home Again.
On that note, I'm home from Camp Monkeyfist and a short visit with my friend John Powers in NYC, who put me to work installing his massive new sculpture. Many thanks to Kendall Clark for getting me down to Atlanta.
Monkeyfist/Argosy editorial: The "War on Terror": Sense and Nonsense
Some discussion of the article is happening over at the argosy site.
My roommate, Matt, worked all summer and much of the fall on an audio documentary about beauty and meaning in popular music called The Art of Pop. I highly recommend it. At the very least, listen to the segment where he interviews Michael Franti [4.6MB, MP3].
An interesting interview with David Mamet.
"How many blistering insights into the precise texture of misogyny do we really need?" A review of HurlyBurly.
I'm on a big Rheostatics kick. Canadian Art Rock at its best.
Since folks haven't their music, I uploaded a few tracks (just pretend you're listening to it on the radio, it makes the intellectual property side of things a little easier.. or not.).
I was young and idealistic, a little crass
With a bouquet of flowers and a tear gas mask
I knew I had a serious task
The day the PM was pied
What started out as me joking to my roommates about the need for a Canadian version of "American Pie" (the song, by Don McLean) ended up as a fun little commentary on Canadian politics and culture. So, to the tune of the aformentioned song....
[Warning: non-Canadians may be mystified by some content]
The Onion's interview with Berkeley Breathed is chock full of sharp commentary, of which the following excerpt is not really an example. Well worth reading.
I started as a news photographer at the University Of Texas' Daily Texan. They failed to see the marketing advantage in manipulating news photos (this is pre-digital, remember) to enhance the drama. I recall a dandy front-page photo of a community street preacher, in which I burned a halo floating above his head. I got fired and started writing stories for the campus magazine. I wrote about an unnamed student who secretly released hundreds of baby alligators into nearby Lake Travis, which would have been compelling if I hadn't made it up. Property values around the lake plummeted over $70,000,000 the next week, which brought federal game agents into town. I was arrested, eventually--you think I'm lying again, but I'm not, check the records--and then the death threats and getting kicked out of my apartment complex and I won't bore you with the rest, except to add that some wise sage finally suggested that the cartooning desk might be where I belonged, as I could let my little imagination soar wherever it wanted, and federal agents wouldn't be needed. So I started copying Doonesbury, and you know the rest.
The Transformers Multiverse. Information about every Transformer. Through some combination of nostalgia and geekiness, this stuff still fascinates me.
Some films I have recently seen (some for the second or third time), and think are quite worthwhile. So next time you feel the inclination to go see Planet of the Apes or similar worthless tripe, rent one of these instead. I command it.
More examples of Corporate appropriation of revolutionary imagery, accompanied by some rather clueless analysis.
Some interesting photos of the 1968 (?) World Fair.
I saw planet of the apes. I'm really too disgusted to write about it at any length, so go read Dave Grenier's review, which I mostly agree with (Except for the suggestion that the plot has any redeeming qualities. It must be emphasized that it doesn't).
I bought the recent CD's by Spearhead and Radiohead, and a friend sent me the new one from Vennaskond. It's interesting how each uses the web. Vennaskond lists urls of five different fan sites; Spearhead prominantly lists the urls www.mumia911.com, nodeathpenalty.org and indymedia.org; Radiohead's links to a bunch of sites. Just refreshing to see artists straying from the record-label run, cookie cutter site and the whole 'sticky site' ethic.
(The title of this actually a reference to the role of the woman who is romantically involved with a man who is some kind of genius, and supports/comforts/inspires him while he does his own thing. It's a common motif in movies, books, and contemporary mythology. It's also annoying and probably damaging.)
I went to Webzine NY yesterday. Here are some fun quotes.
"I can't write salacious shit anymore, I've got advertisers." - Jason Calacanis, explaining why his Silicon Alley Reporter can't operate the same way as sites like Urban Expose, Fucked Company, or Dot Com Scoop, i.e. fast, irreverant, and often inaccurate.
"I get email 20 different times from 20 different people saying 'my boss just spent $10,000 of company money on hookers and crack', but I don't post it, though it would be a lot of fun if I did." -Phil Kaplan, of Fucked Company, explaining that he doesn't post stories that are explicitly personal.
"I ate that big mac because I wanted people to know that I was a flawed person." - Michael Moore, on why he ate at McDonald's in one of his films.
The Print vs. Web folks seemed to agree that print was much more engaging than the web, at least for longer or less time-sensitive content. Ok, that's obvious, I guess.
The "Investigative Zines" panel was the liveliest that I saw, but it was more a 'you had to be there' thing. It was interesting that almost everyone there agreed that the corporate media were about as far from "objective" as they could possibly be. Most of them had been misquoted repeatedly. They also agreed that journalists are generally lazy, so PR has a huge influence on what is reported. No suprises there, but it's good to hear that people other than left wing wackos like myself know that the media is Really Quite Messed. Cease and Desist letters were also mentioned. Ways of dealing with pissed off corporations ranged from deleting the offending page and asking them to prove it ever existed, to posting the cease and desist letters and linking them from the offending comments, to making factual corrections.
Lori Berenson's dad showed up and talked about the vile misrepresentation of his daughter's trial in Peru. She's been sentenced to 20 years in prison for doing what a human rights activist does, it seems.
The Free Speech panel was chock full of near-free speech absolutists, but there was some interesting (if familiar) talk of how corporations (or people with lots of money) can shut down speech by suing someone with little money who say things that they don't like. Even if the 'offender' in question wins the case, they end up being bankrupted by legal fees.
Michael Moore started out kind of mumbly and said "um" a lot, but soon found his groove, and gave an inspiring series of digressions, all somehow related to the theme of doing good work (in independent media) without losing your moral bearings and ideals. He talked about being published/broadcast by the folks who work for Rupert Murdoch, and how at some point, he would ask for outrageous things from the corporate types, like spending $250k on free screenings of movies in poor communities, and people would just say "ok". Compromising to get ahead, on the other hand, just builds the expectation that you can bend more. He also talked about/digressed into the idea that we're taught as soon as we get into school to fear failure, that it's punished, that it's bad, etc.. What we forget is that one person can make a big difference, if s/he doesn't feel the need to rely on a system or others to get there. If you want to make a zine/film/whatever, don't wait for a grant, or funding, or whatever, just make it happen, and go into debt if you have to, and learn from your mistakes. Another theme was how powerful the internet is as an organizing tool. Examples include organizing a nation-wide protest at Fox affiliates in a short amount of time, whereas before the net, organizing a nation-wide movement would take a year of hard work.
Jason Calacanis had some interesting things to say about the whole indy vs. commercial dichotomy. He said that cultural movements like internet publishing start out as labours of love, which generate lots of interesting stuff, but then people get greedy, and try to make money. Nothing I haven't heard before, but more interestingly, he argued that zines like Inside.com, and even Feed and Suck failed, and brought the content business down with them, because they tried to turn themselves into multi million dollar businesses, instead of regular old magazines. The harder they fall, I guess. He also stressed the need for alternatives to banner ads, including truly disruptive (to the extent that they are analagous to TV and Radio) interstitial ads. The porn industry, he noted, didn't have the option of advertising from day one, so they developed an industry wide way of paying for access to thousands of sites, which I guess is worth looking into. Keenspot is working on a similar "pay once, get access to a whole bunch of sites" model, though they do it by hosting all of the sites.
Bob the Angry Flower is quite well-done comic strip done by some guy in Alberta. Every strip ever done is on the web. Some of my favourites, from going through the back issues (and wasting a lot of time doing it): 1, 2, 3, 4.
Salon has an interesting feature on Priit Pärn, an Estonian animator.
Pärn completed "Hotel E," a bitter critique of the hypocrisy of both the East and the West. While the East represses art and language, he contends, the West, for all its freedom, lacks art and language and, with that, individuality. Playing with stereotypes, Pärn paints the East as a dark, gray world while filling the West with bright colors and friendly, smiling faces. Beneath this pop-art sugarcoating, he seems to be saying, the West is a culture of sterility and illusion. No one does anything, no ones says anything, yet everything is "just great."
Salon: One Big Happy Channel?
But suddenly, without the FCC's input or any public hearings, the kind of sweeping deregulation that most broadcasters hadn't even fantasized about two years earlier was ushered in overnight.
One 25-year radio veteran, and current Clear Channel station executive, estimates the Telecom Act has eliminated nearly 10,000 radio-related jobs.
Bitch Magazine. "A feminist response to pop-culture." Beautiful layout, intelligent (not business focussed) writing, and not enough funding. I picked up a copy and ended up reading it cover to cover like I used to do with Wired. Since Wired (and Shift) seem to only focus on money (any coverage of interesting ideas is usually also framed in terms of how much money will be made), and Utne seems just a little too much on the byte-size side of things, there has been a need for an interesting magazine that is as critical as it is unpretentious. Bitch is just that (the issue I just read, anyway).
I also watched American History X for the second time. A fine, even amazing film... but what makes me a bit nervous is that it frames racism as a belief that is explicitly espoused, rather than a privilege that is exercised unconsciously on a daily basis. I guess I'd feel a lot more comfortable recommending this film if there was another film that examined white privilege as effectively. It's telling that there isn't. Actually, there probably is, except it's obscure enough that I haven't heard of it. That's telling.
Paul Ford took a walk around Jerusalem with a guy from Indymedia Israel, and came up with a bunch of pictures. I think I prefer looking at raw sets of pictures that people have taken -- as opposed to professional photo spreads -- if only because they don't have the "edited for effect" feel that takes a specific angle on a story and leaves the rest out. Paul's photos take an angle and probably are edited to some extent, but they seem to let the different threads of the story unfold on their own. The captions give me the sense that it's one person's experience, not a made up composite of experiences.
Don't Let Disney Teach You About History. A few facts about the Pearl Harbour attack.
The culture war is not just phony, but reactionary. It commodifies powerless groups to project a fearsome image of constantly escalating menace, suppresses discussion of real social inequalities, and promotes repressive government solutions. Youth are the most convenient population upon which to project damage, keeping the debate safely away from questioning adult values and pleasures that form the real influences on youths. In short, the culture war is not about changing genuine American social ills such as high rates of child poverty, domestic violence, and family disarray, but fomenting an endless series of moral panics that obstruct social change.
I recently decided to make a concerted effort to eat and cook healthier food, so I started with the Open Directory's soup recipes, and came across the Moosewood recipe for split pea soup, which turned out really well, and was a hit at the potluck that I brought it to. It's a vegan recipe, and it's yummy. I recommend it.
For the last two summers, I had a routine of cooking a large stack of crepes every Sunday morning, and inviting everyone I knew to drop in and partake, on the condition that they bring something to drink or something to put on/in the crepes. It made for some good conversation, but mostly just a chance to relax and talk to people who are usually really busy. Today, some of the regulars from last summer decided to pick up the tradition and serve crepes in their apartment; people brought all kind of decadent toppings, like stewed apples, rhubarb, pecan and peanut butter, cream cheese and rasberry, rhubarb, strawberry, and apple spreads/jams. A good degustation (sp.), and good conversation was had by all.
a few lemons
buttermilk (soy milk will probably work, but I haven't tried it)
Beat the eggs with a whisk, and gradually sift flour into the eggs, while mixing to avoid clumps as much as possible. Add flour until it's difficult to mix in any more. When a fairly consistant dough has been achieved, add some buttermilk, letting it soak in to the egg/flour mix without creating chunks. Once the mix is back to consistant, liquid form, grate the and juice the lemon(s), adding both to the mix, along with a few teaspoons of vanilla extract. Finally, add buttermilk until the batter is thin enough spread over a pan in a thin layer, but thick enough to stick together on a pan. (This is kind of tricky. When the batter starts to drip off the fork quickly, it's close, but it's probably wise to cook a few test crepes to get a sense of the desired consistancy.)
Cook the crepes in a pan over medium heat. Add a spot of cooking oil to the pan before each crepe (this is more important for the first few, as the pan tends to be sticky at first). To get thing crepes, tilt the heated, oiled pan at a 45 degree angle, and pour a small amount of batter at the top with a ladle and let it spread over the pan. Meanwhile, shake the pan back and forth to get the batter to cover the surface, while dripping batter from the ladle to patch up spots. Cook until the surface looks dry, then wait 15-30 seconds and flip. You can also use a crepe pan to make equally thin crepes, but it's not as much fun.
This animation [flash, 1.3 MB, violence] is pretty fun on its own, but it probably makes a lot more sense if you've seen the Stick Figure Death Theatre. Of course, I made my stick figure death animation, years ago.
Porn Star or My Little Pony? is pretty disturbing, in a critical theory kind of way.
Oh yeah, I'm going to Quebec (still) in about five minutes. If you have any suggestions as to what I should take pictures of, who I should interview, or what I should ask, post them below as usual. I'll check when I arrive, and I'll probably write updates and post them here from time to time.
This seems just a little too familiar for comfort, though not really in the context of dating.
More interesting artists from "Drawn and Quarterly".
AnarchoGeek: Democratic media, rating systems, and indymedia.
Jeez, someone must be really after my self esteem to repeatedly visit the site just to lower the karma on all of the postings. Wierd.
Everyone and their (apparently) grandmother have told me that the text was too small, so now it's really big, to me, anyway. It would seem that I like small text.
I saw Crimes and Misdemeanors (a Woody Allen flick) last night. 'Have to say, I was very impressed. It directly echoes Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment in a lot of ways (and probably some other classics of various aspects of the human condition) and puts a very interesting spin on it. Confused the heck out of me, but in a good way. I'd don't think I'll review any more except to say that the movie is well worth seeing.
Looks like the incident was done by a Danish (?) artist. By the looks of it, he got so much email that he had to admit it was art, not reality to get people to send him less (though the distinction between those two is often over-emphasized, IMO). In any case, it's good to see that interesting art is happening on the net, especially stuff that plays to the urban legend and conspiracy theory genres.
Last week's issue of the Argosy has been up since friday night (see thursday's entry for the gorey details). This week, I wrote about Democracy on the Internet, specifically in Canada. There has been an interesting discussion of democracy going on on the Argosy bitch page.
I've changed comments to be inline. In other words, if you click on "post a comment" below, your comment will be shown at the bottom of this message. I'm still experimenting with the possibilities that Greymatter affords.
I saw Stardom, a Canadian film which parodies the media, and how women are treated in it, last night. I thought it did what it set out to do - that is, provide a scathing critique of the media quite well. As for questions of what needs to really be examined in that area and how, I'm not really informed enough to say yeah or neigh. Worth a look, though.
Here's a fascinating debate on metafilter about corporate domination of culture. Lots and lots of good links.
Why corporations are different than you or me. And yet they have the same rights, and then some.
What the government spends your money on.
Is google making an editorial comment about Shrub? The text of the search doesn't appear anywhere in the source of the first-ranked page.
I just finished reading this article about the relationship between Zeta functions and Quantum physics aloud to Sylvia, who understood considerably more than I did. The connection between pure math and physics is pretty interesting, though -- even to ignorant ears like my own.
Apple's new SuperDrive will burn DVD's and CD's, and it comes installed on high-end power macs. In a year or so, it'll make sense to have an iMac with DV software. Of course, I'm not expecting oodles of interesting things to be done with it. Desktop publishing still has a lot of unused 'revolutionary' verve that never seems to be tapped in to.
Lots of good links at Randomwalks that I don't have time to look at. :<
AOL-TW is gonna publish On, a magazine about "what people do with the web".
Jeremy Bushnell of Invisible City sent me a link to a Feed article about the insane amount of product placement in the film Cast Away. Admittedly, the unabashedly pro-corporate subplot never really crossed my mind (the movie was engaging enough), but it's a bit sickening. And if the artists (there still are artisitically minded people who make films, right?) don't put the product placements in the final cut, they get sued.
Today, Castle Rock Entertainment , CBS, Columbia, Dreanmworks, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, MGM, Miramax, Morgan Creek, New Line Cinema, Paramount, Trimark, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Disney, and Warner Brothers all employ Product Placement or Production Resources executives to consult with the hundreds of companies seeking to place their brands in pictures. These executives analyze scripts before
they go into production, come up with breakdowns for "production opportunities," and go in search of sponsors. Given the cost of promoting a film in today's market, merchandising deals are becoming mandatory. Merchants, on the other hand, get captive audiences, get celebrities that
wouldn’t ordinarily endorse their product to do so, and minimize advertising costs. "Imagine the impact of your customers seeing their favorite star using your product in a feature film," one placement company's ad reads. "Both your company's name and product thereby become an integral part of the show, conveying both subliminal messages and implied endorsements."
I finally figured out the name of a book I have been looking for for quite a while. Drummer Hoff, a beautifully illustrated childrens book about military types firing off a cannon. Best when read aloud.
General Border gave the order
Major Scott brought the shot
Captain Bammer brought the rammer
Sergeant Chowder brought the powder
Corporal Farrell brought the barrel
Private Parriage brought the carriage
but Drummer Hoff fired it off.
Lorne Elliot's Madly off in all direction on CBC Radio tends to have some great comedy. 'Tis a shame one cannot hear it online.