Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama's DNC speech

In an email thread, someone raised the issue of the propaganda-like elements of the DNC production, specifically quoting "a friend in the Canadian military" who referenced Leni Reifenstahl's Triumph of Will. People were offended by this comparison.

This is what I wrote in response:

Against my better judgment I watched this speech (I will confess fatigue set in for me months ago in this electoral process). I did so because for years I have been interested in political speeches from the perspective of craft (speech writing was once part of my job). The speech was a great one both as it exists in time (relative to the audience expectations) and as a composition generally. It was also very well delivered (even his stumbles over teleprompter lines seemed perfectly delivered from a prosodic perspective, which is very, very hard to pull off).

What I could not stop thinking about is what is the relationship between CNN's feed (which is what I was watching because it was on in the house when I got home) and the DNC production feed? The whole of the speech and its presentation were powerfully delivered and orchestrated in Denver, and it appeared that way in my living room in California. How did it vary between the two locations and how did that variance get decided? I know I saw a lot of CNN branding during the time I was watching too (at this point I can't remember when I noticed this, but it was several times and probably before or after the speech). I also noticed stadium branding and adverts burned into the screens of the jumbotrons, which, while off topic, was kind of funny to me (at one point I thought "is United the official airline of the DNC or something?" before I realized it was just a screen artifact).

Frankly, the questions that kept popping into my head about the feed and CNN's coverage at times overpowered even the incredible speech. Yes, I was moved in my living room (it does not help that I watched everything 10 feet wide), but I certainly feel manipulated by being moved. Who was I manipulated by, on what level, and for what purposes, well, those are good questions. Broadcasters and politicians have a kind of creepy relationship to each other and politics is politics.

As for comparisons to Riefenstahl, come on - someone put this together. Even outside of the context of the words, which were not, I gather, scripted by the show's producer(s) or director(s), it's a creative work on multiple levels; even the selection of the venue and the choice of podium (both of which I thought a lot about) are debated over for the contribution to message. It's foolish to think otherwise and it's foolish to criticize comparing it to similar works. But just as the stadium was chosen over another venue for particular purposes, the subject of comparison (Triumph of Will) was chosen for particular purposes. Zingers are hard to understand outside of the context in which they were delivered, and this one can surely cut multiple ways (we are talking about art and politics here folks). I have no idea of the intent of the original deliverer ("Canadian" and "military" do pre-load a set of assumptions which may or may not be accurate) but if the goal was not to offend, I personally would have found a different point of comparison. If the point was to raise concerns over the balance of "news" and the political goals of individuals, parties, and nations and the potential for horrific outcomes, well, the zinger is probably not the best delivery mechanism for such a subtle point. But I also concede the context of a political speech at a political rally where "fitness of being commander in chief" is a campaign issue makes it seem reasonable to think Riefenstahl before one thinks Zhang Yimou, even though both may be appropriate.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

respect due

straight up

i saw this as a work in progress (searching for the minutemen on the youtube and finding sickles and hammers), without knowing that's what it was. subsequently I discovered husker du's something i learned today. and was like "hmmmm......."

a song for every day of the year. danced out. pretty good taste in music too comma dammit.

from the black sabbath to the sister nancy to thee headcoatees to the france gall who has been in heavy rotation for me lately. but why stop there? the jam, the television, j dilla, the misfits with a bird in the foreground. why stop there? well, because there are 366 pretty damned good songs, to say nothing about some good dancin'

Thursday, August 21, 2008

a little moonlight and some clouds

Anyone that fails to recognize how incredible a composer debussy was is pretty totally pathetic.

the clair de lune:

seriously, this piece contains so much of what I love in composition.

the clouds?

pop up video advert from youtube the first time I viewed this. guess they have to make some money at it somehow, but really - an ecko commercial over debussy? can't you do better than that?

okay, let me rephrase that: youtube: fucking retarded. an advert that covers what you are trying to look at and cannot be closed makes your service useless. good job. I'll be sure to use another service that allows me to actually see things. If I wanted to watch advertising I would prefer it to be like television where you can actually see content not covered by adverts. it says a lot for me to say television is better than what you've got here.

note to google: please figure out which asshole MBA you hired to come up with this idea and fire them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


i think congratulations are definitely in order to the entire olympic community after china sentenced two women in their late 70s to a year of forced labour for seeking permits to protest the prices they received for their homes being destroyed for the olympics.

I want to be sure each and every one understands exactly what just happened so when you enjoy watching 16 year old girls jump up and down in tight outfits better than other 16 year old girls, you understand what you're paying for.

two women in their late 70s asked for permission to protest in a designated protest area because their houses were destroyed for the olympics and they did not receive what they thought was fair compensation for their houses. they were denied permission to protest. they came back another day to seek permission to protest. their request was denied. they came back another day seeking permission to protest. they were denied. on the 5th day they were informed that they had been sentenced to 1 year of forced labor for asking for permission to protest over the previous days.

so, global community, let's just get this straight - in your greed to exploit china's lax environmental policies and incredibly cheap labor pool as well as trade a little quid for a little quo on getting support for Chicago hosting the olympics in the future you decided a country that forces septuagenarians into forced labor for seeking permission to complain about their government.

well that certainly epitomizes the spirit of the olympics.

for me this event more than any other (and there have been many) clinches the end of my tolerance of the olympics in any form.

Monday, August 18, 2008

insert metallica lyrics here

jimmie hetfield is harshing my mellow.

an actual hike/bike ride I like to take from my house has apparently been nixed by mr. kill 'em all hisself. no life til leather I guess.

I mean, I need this trail to be able to bike the whole way out to the ocean without touching pavement dude.

As a fan from the ride the lightening days (really, are there any better?) I'm pretty bummed. nothing says "I am not the band you used to like" like a nimby protection of of a 2nd or 3rd local property. seriously? what would cliff say about all of this?

well, I think he would have quit the band a goddamned long time ago and this would have just made him feel like it was the right thing to do.

and he wouldn't be the only bass player that thought that.

"but mom, all I wanted was a pepsi!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

morris, errol morris

EM is a teller of stories, but also a scientist practicing and studying the darker arts of telling stories.

for some reasons, this make his nytimes opinion piece on photoshop and news pics quite awesome.

some of it is of course hyperbole, some of it is just a bit wrong, but most of it is incredibly insightful and well done.

I was surprised to see the little green footballs blog referenced, which I found (on accident some months ago) and also found both well done and sadly a bit too agenda driven at times.

is it a sign of me getting older that I am becoming more irritated with agendas of any ilk? can you not just trust that we are smart enough to see your assumptions for what they are and get on with it?

Morris, actually, does a great job not irritating me. I see a slant of course, but it seems the liberties he takes are a sort of smart man's ecstatic truth rather than blunderbuss.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

long lost dub records

some years ago I loaned away a great many dub records to a guy with a dub show on WHPK. He was named Matthew as I rememeber. This must have been in 1997 or 1998 or so. Anyway, at the time I wanted folks to hear them. Now I want to hear them. Maybe someday Matt with eventually show up, I know he was from Columbus, OH and worked at the Regenstein library at the University of Chicago.

I had been fortunate enough to get into the singers and players via Jason Lee in high school, so I had a head start coming to Chicago and knowing a chunk of Bim Sherman, Adrian Sherwood, the Roots Radics, Ashanti Roy and of course of course of course Prince Far I (who had material available on the cassette only Reach Out International Records) - Slim, I never took that ROIR sticker off the back of the poopmobile when I sold it for some reason. I will some day make it up to our collective karmic consciousness.

Anyway, someday, maybe I will find all my Prince Far I, Singers and Players, African Head Charge, Mikey Dread, and of course the creation rebel and the new age steppers.

despite the total awesomeness of all this stuff, it's very hard to find. even the onU sound wiki basically says "there was no record keeping so who knows what was actually released".

here was one I found:

but right now the song "foggy road" from a live ROIR cassette is what I'm missing.

looking at the prince far i stuff online I am amazed at how much of it I had, but how much of it I don't have.

now I am missing:

cry tuff chapter 3,4

voice of thunder, ten commandments, free from sin, spear of the nation come to mind...

this is an awesome site.

nytimes piece on the cyber attacks on georgia

As referenced earlier, here's a full story.

Of course the most interesting line is the last, hinting at the known snooping problems associated with packet mirroring running through central offices and data centers... better, it appears, to run fiber via a less porous route.

jon theodore in the LATimes

I was unexpectedly surprised to see a photo of jon theodore in the LATimes today.

Complete with an interview with his new band mate Zach de la Rocha (he of Libertyville) - the project is called "One Day as a Lion" which is a pretty awesome name and for some reason (probably what's going on in georgia right now, but maybe because of the raymond roussell worth alliterative homonym of night and knight) reminds me of the epic poem Rustaveli The Knight in the Panther's Skin.

Jon is an amazing drummer. Had no idea that he was in the mars volta or I'd have sought him out some years back when I last saw them at the coachella.

It was interesting to me that his past gigs were downplayed (maybe the wrong word) as "underground bands" because I don't think of the royal trux or trans am that way. I dunno, maybe golden or Doug Scharin's HiM project might count that way (if dubby jazz doesn't just count as jazz). Our point of departure remains one of my all time favorite albums.

I still think so fondly of the memory of doug and jon playing together in the loft on lake street one day. definitely one of those time and place memories to cherish.

Monday, August 11, 2008

will someone please tell the LATimes

? yeesh. john wayne never wore a kangol 504.

so for the record: snap? if yes do not stop at beret.


russians entering tbilisi?

my friend zvi informs me that the russian army is about to enter tbilisi, the capitol of georgia and, obviously, far from the areas of conflict. assuming this information is correct, this would appear to be a full invasion and occupation of georgia by russia.

unfortunately zvi is afraid he'll be losing internet access shortly but he passed on a few sites that represent some georgian perspectives of what's going on.

he also points out that there appears to be a coordinated black hat attack from russia on georgian-centric sites trying to get information out to the rest of the world.

I haven't had a chance to look at all the sites so I can't speak for them, but one I found interesting and informative (if not totally disturbing) is this one.

ladies and gentleman

I just want to remind those of you out there that might have forgotten:

Maynard Ferguson sucks. If you're not careful you might just not think about that, like, forget it somehow. but you shouldn't.

If that was the height of his career, what was this?

(note that's Ferguson in the left 7/8th of the screen)

but does it all become okay when you get the awesome subtlety of this piece?

note - it's a wonderful balance between the first few seconds when the title appears and when the actual song becomes identifiable.

then it just becomes more maynard fergusun tripe being tripe at the newport tripe fest main teepee. seriously folks, in case you forgot the 80s SUCKED.

oh god, more teepees:

seriously, like, WTF?

I would now like to personally thank china for not hiring maynard ferguson to lead the olympics opening event.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

RIP Chef

everyone's favorite scientologist soul singer died.

black moses.

I guess that's how it goes sometimes.

Anyway, Issac, I like your music stuff before you got into religion.


i guess we are supposed to feel sorry...

for someone in this situation but I have a very hard time doing so.

you took over your parents' house which they bought for 11 grand and took out multiple loans on it over the course of several years including the last one for just shy of half a million dollars (which was WAY more than the house was ever worth even at the peak of the market). in celebration of the foreclosure of your parents home based on loans you took out on it, you're name checking brands of booze you're going to go get drunk on. well done.

so i guess the ones I feel sorry for are the parents with dementia who may or may not even be aware of what is going on.

one thing should be obvious - taking a loan out on a piece of property with NO INTENTION of ever paying it back (the last mortgage was inked in "late 2006" and the last payment received was December of 2006) should be a criminal act.

Friday, August 08, 2008

what is the whole part about?

long ago, in the mid 90s or so, whole foods changed their mission statement, much to the frustration of many I knew who worked and shopped there.

the change was subtle, but completely obvious to everyone who actually cared about the food they were eating: whole foods was going to back off its commitment to organics and opt for pretty, easier to sell food.

well, today we learn that means buying ground beef from the same factory farms that every other giant supermarket in the US buys from, and selling it to people as "healthy". Turns out that ground meat whole foods has been buying since June 2nd was contaminated with unacceptable levels of e. coli and finally people have gotten sick from it.

in keeping with their commitment to local, healthy food, the meat whole foods purchased in nebraska "may have" been shipped, well, everywhere.

"The recalled beef might have been sold at Whole Foods Market stores in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D. C., Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Canada."

well done.


holy shit!

have you ever heard of this thing called the internet?


I can't wait to tell the guys in Gang of Four!

okay oka y oka okay okay okayok ayok

i remember, the 80s weren't all THAT bad. All the crappy politics made for some GREAT music off the beaten path.

none better exemplifies this, for me, than the minutemen's little man with a gun in his hand, which I could not separate in my mind from an intensely visual strangelovian punker take on the absurdist cold war drama we all were forced to live through.

punk rock may have changed our lives, but it took the minutemen to sing us the stories.

georgia and why this all ends badly

Shit is hitting the fan in georgia. I'm a bit freaked out about it. Georgia is the first place I've been in my life that has had a war AFTER I've been there. I know and like people there. Bombs are falling within a few dozen miles of their homes right now.

What is going on is, to put it bluntly, europe basically said they're willing to be beholden to russia for gas via pipeline and a return to russia's superpower status. This is obviously their call, but it's also absolutely no good for georgians or any abstract concepts such as self governance. It also 100% ensures the reabsorption of the NIS into Russia or some approximation thereof.

In most regards this represents a total failure of US foreign policy in the region, if not globally. Staking a claim on iraq, brokering deals with the kurds to do so, losing much of the reliance on turkey in the process, absurdist detente with iran, failure to develop a pipeline from the caspian, temporary and useless air bases in the southern steppistans focused on some absurd idea that a quasi-lawless state must be made lawful to prevent terrorism (or, more aptly, to attempt to save face, as afghani pipelines are even less likely than georgian ones, especially given the collapse of independence in the caspian), it's just so much blundering.

I understand that the intelligence community has long viewed energy as the single biggest security element for America's long term prospects, so obviously there are close ties given the complexities of petro-geo-politics, but at some point this relationship got too close. Capture of foreign policy decisions were so complete that long term strategic interests cased to be based on a broad based worldview. I fear (but hope it is not so) that a sense of "victory over communism" slanted the purpose of the intelligence community into a 1 sided perspective that makes for bad foreign policy. Sadly the replacement of "communism" with "islamofascism" (which is a retarded and totally inaccurate term for the real issue) does not provide a distinct enough pole from which to make complicated geopolitic strategic gaming decisions. We are, for all intents and purposes, content with an arrow that point always and only north, and we cannot figure out we can't get there.

What I fear has happened is that we have (and not collectively) snookered ourselves. Georgia was a too little too late backburner. Trust there will be a step higher than with bay of pigs cubans and what political resistance survives russian reassertion long term offers nothing more than instability for all and great cost to georgia most of all.

In light of all of this, it is hard to not respect Putin for his vision and what he has accomplished, despite it's poor implications for our survival as a species.

If there is any hope, it lies in industry and commerce opting to act in its own self interest on energy it can locally control. How did this happen? What is the government supposed to be doing? Not, I would posit, what it's been doing.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

industrial porn loses a star

sad to hear andrea pininfarina died while commuting to work on a vespa.

it does not take too much love of beauty to appreciate some of their great pieces.

but i will never forgive them for the cadillac allante they designed, which remains one of the ugliest cars ever.

yes. they have designed cars that are more effective than viagra and at the same time, have designed some of the most painful suppositories of design ever.

i will say it again:

cadillac allante

juxtapose that with some quality porn.

more on olympigs

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

for just one second

I want you to think that you are hot shit.

then I want you to admit that you wouldn't know hot shit if you wore a poop hat to armageddon.

And with that, I will die knowing that I am a wimpy wimplesaurus.

it just gets worse and worse

Jim Scherr, you're embarrassing me.

Maybe there's a need to provide a little clarification here:

"At a test event last year, smog covered the city and even seeped into the velodrome. Several of the track cyclists came down with upper respiratory infections." (from the nytimes).

In case you were uncertain, the velodrome is INSIDE. The air quality is so bad that people performing INSIDE are getting respiratory infections. Whoever thought this was okay is responsible for the long term health of these athletes. end of story.

So big up to the athletes, especially the TRACK TEAM!!! and Mike Friedman from the PGH!!! w00t!

why be happy about the olympics

...when it's such a load of rubbish.

It is safe to say that, while the Olympics brings out the best in athletes, it brings out the worst in governments.

The USOC's embarrassing behavior (to say nothing of China's) regarding Joey Cheek is pretty pathetic, but old greedy men cannot stop common sense.

Seriously, if there is anyone that is a loser in this, it's the IOC - WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Old, greedy men have lost all touch with the hope of the young, so in reality the olympics are about money and power for the organizers and nothing more; with that in mind, they should have been a lot smarter about the damage they're doing to their brand.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

63 years ago today...

...the United States dropped a nuclear bomb over Hiroshima Japan.

In other news, the presence of C14 isotopes in beef broth used to grow a culture of anthrax bacteria was used to determine the anthrax could be no more than two years old.

In case you are wondering, the cows eat the grass that grew out of the soil that the atomic dusts fell on during tests from the very same kind of bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb tests were all in Nevada. The cows, well, they can be from wherever.

And also in case you were wondering, the United States' formal position is opposition to the UN resolution calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Friday, August 01, 2008

40 shorts about elliott gould

Nytimes piece on one of my faves.

I did not at first like him. he was too everyman real and somehow not there because of it. I think also I did not "get" the eastcoasty edge to his unease, a sort of cultural naivete on my part, growing up in the middle of nowhere and slowly easing into a broader awareness in chicago...

The long goodbye changed all of that for me. I love that movie.

Chandler, but not chandler, altman but not altman, gould; marlowe; awesome.

(and of course that AWESOME score)

QT, for me somehow, stole Mexico from Altman, but re-Chandlerized it. And I think it certainly would be but the bride is no Marlowe partly because there is too much purpose to her story and partly because there is too much Bill and partly because UT is no Gould.

To be fair, it's probably impossible for a woman to be Gould, because of the way we frame women on screen (and in society).