england's dreaming

last wednesday free103point9 had a benefit for its radio station, headlined by colin potter of nurse with wound. since i love nww, especially the most recent work they've done, and this is the closest we can expect to a nww show in the US for the time being, i had to go. there was also a show the following sunday at mercury lounge, but the openers on this night sounded interesting and i like supporting this place.

the first act was mostly two laptops, which i'm getting used to now. the secret to dealing with this, if they don't bring visuals of their own, is to either find some small detail to stare at and enter a hypnotic state, or close your eyes. this night free103 had a video camera trained on the stage, and the image projected on the wall (see above). it also helps if there are seats, which there were. the music was a lot of minimalist clicks, drones, and loops made from field recordings, plus a third person's unfortunately hidden live manipulation of various mic'ed objects, making various squeaks and scrapes. this was not as boring as it sounds, at least if you're into deep listening and you're somewhat familiar with this sort of thing. it made me think of a more digital version of organum.

the second set consisted of one of the previous laptop artists and free103 alumna tianna kennedy. tianna played an amazing combination of melodic/harmonic/atonal cello sounds and looped them live on a guitar pedal. her output was also fed into the laptop where it was further manipulated.

colin potter played two sets of long, slowly building soundscapes, manipulating pieces from nww's angry eelectric finger and shipwreck radio volume one, the latter of which was released on colin's own ICR label. using recognizable snippets from the CDs as jumping-off points, he ran them and who knows what else through a laptop and a tangle of wires and knobs, which he twisted and clicked to create layers of beautiful waves and drones in real-time. the small but dedicated audience's warm applause was proof that if the sound is good enough, you don't need a dynamic stage show to give people a great musical experience. between these shows and his recent work with nww mastermind steven stapleton, colin has proven the value of his quiet but invaluable work over the years, and probably taken a step forward in the minds of experimental music fans.

the title of this post comes from a book about the original 70's british punk explosion, without which, arguably, artists such as nurse with wound would have had a much harder time releasing and selling records.


it's got to be perfect

the latest promotional rounds have gotten jamie lee curtis' image in more places recently. i mused aloud that she finally seemed to be getting a bit older and this photo shoot from a few years ago was mentoned to me. she decided to have a picture published of her with no makeup, no styling, no retouching, no "help" of any kind - just a plain sports bra and briefs. a quick net search later and i found the picture above. it's not as brave as it could have been - the bright lighting tends to smooth things out a bit, and a tank top rather than a sports bra would have been more realistic in the gravity department. but i do applaud it as a good step in the right direction, and even better is a scene in her new movie. believe it or not, some people are still not aware of digital retouching, not to mention the difference camera angles or stylists can make. the average person just calls all this "makeup," as though a pound or two of max factor can make anyone look like a movie star. and if not, well then normal ugly people just don't have it.

on the opposite side of the same reality- and perspective-free coin are websites and tabloids that go out of their way to publish the crappiest pictures possible of celebrities. now, i'm not a big fan of the whole star system in the u.s. to me it's our equivalent of the british monarchy - what are most of these rich people good for anyway? but this kind of cheap shot is just mean-spirited and smacks of envy. some famous people truly are naturally good-looking, some are not. but even really pretty people can have an off-moment, whether they're drunk, just woke up, sick, in bad lighting, in disguise, or any other reason. rather than try to fight the prevalent view (all celebrities are perfect) with an equally untrue opposite (all celebrites are hideous), why not simply present more of the truth? and i mean this from both sides.

i'm beyond sick of commercial culture (now there's an oxymoron) and how its pervasiveness oppressively dictates social mores. even moreso when so many people seem ill-equipped to filter the bombardment of images and words with logic and perspective. even those with a good head on their shoulders are susceptible to the repeated message of most advertorial content (i.e. almost everything coming out of mainstream media): "you are not good enough."

it's gotten to the point that women with average or slightly thicker-than-commonly-seen bodies are invisible, or considered "fat". i'm aware that obesity in america is considered a problem of epidemic proportions, and i agree. but on the opposite end of the scale (literally) are those who are obsessed with starving themselves to attain an ideal that may be impossible or just plain unhealthy for them. nothing against skinny people who are naturally and healthily that way, but not everyone is built like that.

jamie lee curtis is an anomaly among american actresses. she's in her 40's, she's had short, butchy hair most of her career, her breasts are larger than average (and not implants), and she is neither rail-thin nor "hardbodied" (at least not by today's standards, even in her most buff roles). even other actresses who enter the public consciousness with her general type of figure tend to drop weight as soon as they can (neve campbell, christina ricci, thora birch) or only gain weight for a role (renee zelwegger in the bridget jones films). sadly, the myth they're forced to live themselves ends up being perpetuated, and anyone outside of a small range of cookie-cutter body type is rejected or relegated to extras or the dreaded "best friend" roles unless they eventually break out, and get the chance to make the same choice: be yourself and disappear, or disappear yourself and be everywhere.

the title of this post comes from a corny minor alterna-hit by fairground attraction.


he loves my french way

saturday night i finally got a chance to see the band la laque at sin-e. their songs, most of their website, and even their onstage comments are all in french, although they seem to hail from brooklyn. while this might seem gimmicky, in their case it actually works. this is no novelty act; their music and delivery are both professional and sincere. an emotional high point was when the guitarist started ranting and screaming in english as the band built up to a climax. i don't recall what he said any more than i understood the french (i'm a bit rusty on it), but it still made sense on a gut level.

the singer was coquettishly vamping while remaining on-key the entire time, which is no mean feat for someone who moves around onstage a lot. regardless of this comment, the band admirably makes gender a non-issue by having an equal number of males and females, all clearly quite talented and not just pretty faces. the music was a mix of minor-key 50's/60's spy-theme and surf music with an indie rock/punkish flavor, lots of twangy reverbed guitars and merseybeat drums. perhaps it was their sophisticated style, lack of goofiness, and relative low volume of the organ that kept me from thinking of the b-52's until just now. more like the dark side of serge gainsbourg or a less angsty portishead without the trip-hop. there were some problems hearing the violinist, which would have brought the music into another dimension, but that's a common problem using live strings with louder instruments onstage. overall though, they were quite enjoyable and impressive.

the title of this post was spoken by vivian, a character in the excellent underground comic love and rockets (who used the name before the band).


video made the laptop star

wednesday saw another installment of jon keith brunelle's psychasthenia society, which i talked about in more detail in this post. this time brunelle told three separate short stories instead of a long three-parter. clever and wryly amusing as always, with a touch of pathos and poignancy in the second story about his former trade show years.

besides the promise of the excellent storytelling, angel, bianca, and i went mainly to see ryan smith of stars like fleas debut his project a million billion, which will have an album out on praemedia next year. i likened it to recent live coil but not as harsh, lovely clean-but-edgy electronic tones shifting and bouncing between speakers. good for deep listening. glomag was also quite enjoyable, although more beat-oriented, and daniel vatsky did some excellent video work.

the title of this post is a paraphrase of a song by the buggles.


it's beginning to and back again

monday night i crammed myself into a tiny theater to finally catch the independent film primer, just before it disappeared completely. i found myself immediately sucked into its world and overwhelmed by endless conundrums which wound tighter around each other as the film built up to a somewhat unfathomable climax and ominous dénoument. unfortunately, like the matrix, no one can be told what it is; you have to see it for yourself. i think it's harder to market, but more rewarding if the viewer figures things out in real-time. this isn't an easy task, in fact its storytelling style is even more oblique than memento, which it seems related to in some ways. the main characters speak fluent, frequently-interrupted tech-talk and business jargon that needs as much audience attention as shakespeare dialogue. it's still basically english, but slightly removed from the language most people are used to speaking and understanding. even those without knowledge of certain buzzwords can glean the story from the context, but if you get distracted for a minute, you may find yourself lost. others may find the bland backgrounds and small cast boring, but if you grasp what's going on it's quite a ride. i plan to pick this up as soon as it's out on DVD because it necessitates repeated viewings.

the title of this post comes from the album of the same name by wire.


a trail of gossamer

shannon of stars like fleas clued me in to the doveman show this past sunday at tonic. yes, for anyone who's been following this blog's short history, that means i spent three sundays in a row there. i guess someone thinks that's the night to have quirky experimental alt-folk and electronica.

i wasn't initially too interested in this group. the tagline "sad songs about girls" doesn't exactly set it apart. however, the music does. singer thomas bartlett lives up to his press as seeming like he might crumble from the emotional weight of each song. in case you find his delivery too mannered or lightweight, the rest of the band achieves a beauty worth the price of admission by itself. the lack of any bass enhanced the music's fragile quality. the drummer was particularly into it, although the delicate banjo work, sparse trumpet and electric guitar all helped create a lovely tapestry of earthy sounds. bringing it a bit more into this century was a combination violist and laptop musician, who added clicks, crackles, and old-timey loops on his computer.

the same player also joined michigan-based flashpapr onstage. this band were a bit more traditional, repetitive, and droning, but in a good way. quiet guitar picking or strumming was always joined one by one by the other musicians, whose instruments were a bit more on the classical side (including 2 violas, clarinet, upright acoustic bass), but also included a subtly-used laptop. the songs unfolded naturally like a story handed down by oral tradition.

neither band invited obvious comparisons; none that were valid, anyway (my initial pegging of flashpaper's singer as beck-like was lazy). this uniqueness was a good thing, a view which was obviously shared by the crowd, a fairly impressive number for a sunday night of any kind of music, much less this alt-folky weirdness.

the title of this post comes from a song by a dark ambient project i'm in from time to time called a murder of angels.


in heaven

for some reason i never got into the pixies while they were around. "monkey gone to heaven" made an impressive dent in my consciousness at the time, and the "UK surf" version of "wave of mutilation" was an enjoyable song on the excellent pump up the volume soundtrack. but most everything i heard after that seemed really boring and straightforward. they were just another alt-rock band to me, and i didn't mourn their passing. i actually had the chance to see them opening for the cure, but i found their show too loud and abrasive at the time (even moreso than love and rockets at their loudest) and i stayed as far away from the stage as possible .

then slowly, over the years, their name came up again and again. i seemed to recall various friends of mine having the surfer rosa CD, whose unmistakeable cover i would periodically find in record stores. i realized one of my favorite engineers, steve albini, had recorded the album. the massive drums, blistering guitars, and strangled vocals of pj harvey's rid of me and nirvana's in utero echoed through my head. one day i was in a café and "bone machine" started up. by the time i paid the check i knew i had to get my own copy. even better, the reissues have come on pilgrim tacked on as a bonus. it quickly became one of my favorite CDs of all time, as i couldn't believe i'd been missing out for so long. and realized here was yet another classic band that i didn't get to enjoy live. until the rumors started a year ago. since i'd heard the split was very bitter, i didn't think a reunion show would actually happen, much less a tour. rarely have i been so happy to be wrong, as months later pixies sold out 8 consecutive nights at the hammerstein ballroom. kudos to them for doing that instead of one big show at the giant booming gymnasium known as madison square garden.

regardless of the ridiculous price i paid for my ticket, the privilege of seeing this band live was entirely worth it. from the first moment they took the stage it was magical. if a bad note was struck, i didn't notice, and it would only have added to the fearsome noise they made as they tore through multiple songs without pausing. from poppy crowd-pleasers to scathing punk to the now-familiar sound of the cornerstone of indie rock, the band rarely disappointed. everyone went so wild when they finished, they didn't even get to leave the stage, soaking up the roaring adulation until deciding to encore with "gigantic," ending the night as it began, with the raspily angelic voice of kim deal, giving a needed counterpoint to frank black/black francis' yelps and screams.

the title of this post comes from the beautiful song of the same name, which the band opened with.


whiplash girlchild

a strangely enjoyable time was had by a rag-tag group of ne'er-do-wells at flux factory during the cute and scary exhibit on saturday afternoon. most fun was the claustrophobic structure you have to crawl through in order to see an episode of strindberg and helium. highly disturbing psychosexual sculptures were strewn about, which weren't very cute or childlike. i enjoyed the fractured little girls of ciou, such as the painting shown above. most impressive were the psychotic paintings of camille rose garcia, whose sick tableaus best balance the two themes of the show. her work is like paul klee, edward gorey, and tim burton on bad brown acid. the show runs through 12.18.04, so if you're in the area of astoria, queens, nyc, make it a point to go.

the title of this post comes from "venus in furs" by the velvet underground. the linked group photo was taken byjosh.


we are all individuals

in another case of random net synchronicity, two articles once again connected in my brain today. a pitchfork media review of the excepter album begins with a simplified summary of chaos theory. the article says, "if you put a thousand people on a deserted island, they'll turn into a society. it might seem hard to predict what they'd do for more than a very short period at a time, but if you graph their behavior, they start to look pretty orderly." though the writer was bringing this up in relation to excepter's chaotic noise-rock, it can be applied to a lot of underground music and culture.

meanwhile, in a popmatters book review, the same sort of theory comes into play in regards to individuality, especially as pushed in modern western society. there are a plethora of "you are unique" messages being promoted in mass media, especially in advertising. the irony is, there are only a few avenues we're being told we can take towards this alleged individuality. as the review summarizes, "when pop culture appears to be in decline, those who control it seeks to redefine it by shuffling it over to a 'special' market in a bid to reclaim its tentative hold over our collective interest." such as when major labels open up "indie" boutique labels and sign small bands to retain their underground credibility, while making sure they're the ones to make a profit. i have nothing against major labels per se, i just don't see the need for the posing.

this kind of thing is touched on in the book no logo: the branding of the anti-brand, the creation of the "antihero". even the fact that that term exists is a signal something's slightly wrong with it. in the same way, i've always thought having a unifying symbol for anarchy is contradictory.

as the author of hello i'm special asks, "if i'm a rebel sanctioned by society, encouraged by my parents, and cheered on by hallmark, what is left to rebel against?"

underground music and culture (or some facsimile thereof), is sold as a way to set oneself apart from the crowd. however, the very ideas of individuality and mass production are diametrically opposed. if people are wearing the same kinds of clothes and chanting the same sort of slogans, they're just creating a new pattern, or more likely, simply falling into another preexisting one. even those who don't follow the more obvious "alternative" trends, supposedly carving their own paths, eventually reveal traits similar to one another. the order inherent in chaos begins to take over and patterns emerge between seemingly unrelated "individuals".

i suppose it's a good thing that disparate people can share some common ground. but doing it under the auspices of a repressive society, while simultaneously pretending to act outside of that society's rules, just seems like a big and unnecessary farce. which, sadly, all of us are complicit in.

the title of this post is from one of the more clever moments in monty python's life of brian, which is much funnier than anything you just read.


movin' on up

today i found this magazine at my local post office next to the other free papers and was momentarily incensed, until i read the headlines and got the joke. i was fooled for a few seconds by this fake back cover because i've seen serious brochures similar to this left in stores.

it's always hard to tell which things you believe are based on "the right thing" and which are opinions born of your station in life. gentrification is one of those diificult topics that i haltingly bitch about because there are several facets to the issue. it's great to be able to walk in a neighborhood without fearing for your life. but when they add that third starbucks within a 2-block radius, things have gone too far.

the story usually goes like this: a neighborhood is basically zoned and ignored into some kind of ghetto, where rents are low but danger is high. this could stay like that for years. people like artists and students getting starter apartments can't afford the kinds of neighborhoods that are nice and safe (where some of them come from) or hip (where they'd like to be). so they move to the crappy areas, little by little. they bring their friends, people visit, have parties, open art galleries, hold poetry slams, form bands. there's a period of adjustment; people get hurt, the police start coming around more often, the criminal element thins out.

somewhere around this point i think a nice balance is struck, where the neighborhood's worst parts are cleaned up a bit, the new residents bring in a bit more money, and everyone coexists fairly peacefully. perhaps i like to think that because that's the point i'm comfortable at. the place still has much of its original vibe, and things aren't too expensive, but exciting things are happening. at this stage, opportunities arise, and locals and new people alike seize them to make something better for themselves and the area.

that's usually when the wolves come sniffing. well-heeled investors start opening businesses catering to the new people. the media touts the new up-and-coming neighborhood, usually giving it a silly name if it doesn't already have one (new york city must have some of the most plentiful neighborhood subdivisions around). greedy landlords smell money and raise rents. real estate agents open up storefronts and start pushing the area in their ads. developers buy entire blocks, tear down perfectly good buildings and replace them with strip malls. people who had nothing to do with the original neighborhood or its development into something interesting suddenly start frequenting the new businesses and moving in, waving their checkbooks and driving prices even higher.

eventually the people who made the place cool can't afford to stay even if they want to, never mind the poor locals who were there when it was an armpit no one else wanted to visit, much less live in. the neighborhood retains its name, and maybe an echo of its hip character. meanwhile the people who made things happen have moved on to another slum they can afford. and the cycle begins anew. kind of sad.

but sometimes, you just gotta laugh. and this cover is funny.

the title of this post comes from the theme song to the jeffersons, a show that dealt with issues of race, class, and gentrification, while annoying a lot of people and making others laugh. i can't say i loved the show myself, but it's one of those shows that was always on reruns as a kid, and the theme song is burned into my head.


heaven and hell

sunday night was a study in contrasts at tonic. the music and atmosphere was fairly laid-back in some ways; the artists were pretty much unassuming people in street clothes, indistinguishable from the crowd, and they didn't move around a lot onstage. the lights were dim rather than dramatic, and much of the sound could arguably have been filed under "ambient". but there was another edge to the proceedings that counteracted the effect of this being some kind of spacey chill-out night. at times the lush music washed over us like cool water, at others we were attacked by shrill frequencies and harsh buzzes that made heads turn uncomfortably and fingers slide covertly into ears. several of the artists also exuded an intensity which belied their dressed-down appearance and low-key attitude.

the duo wobbly began right away with buzzes and glitches that morphed into a huge continuously changing soundscape of electronic but somehow also rounded and organic music. the two members then did short solo sets which were nearly as impressive, each showcasing their individual talents. wobbly founder jon leidecker came across as a college science professor who had too much excitement to sit still in front of his lab equipment, and for good reason; his music was incredible.

after keith fullerton whitman's set, leidecker returned to the stage as a member of sagan. sadly, due to a missing member, the show was lacking the video element i'd read about in the wire. still, the combination of leidecker with blevin blectum and lesser was an intoxicating mix of synths and beats. blevin often added highly warped live vocal samples from a microphone, and leidecker was constantly grabbing the others' audio output and messing with it as well as adding bizarre stabs of his own. the overall sound was balanced between their namesake carl sagan's themes from cosmos, crunchy breakbeats that often got deconstructed or derailed, and experimental cutups.

the title of this post comes from the song by vangelis on the aforementioned cosmos soundtrack, in reference to the contrast of sounds brought to the evening.


i tried to get to you

on saturday the cave gallery in williamsburg was completely packed for the opening night of floatingpoint-forest. at 9pm there was a performance with sound by grundik & slava. they mainly manipulated nature recordings and feedback, but used them sparingly and artfully along with silence. meanwhile three dancers played out an excruciatingly slow but fitting tableau of passion and frustration, laden with metaphor which could be taken in several ways. there was a marked contrast between the movements of the three, one of whom could not move at all and wasn't trying. the woman was blindfolded, but had complete freedom for her often violent motions which included confused searching, writhing in apparent agony, and beating the floor with her hands. the third figure was both blinded and restrained as he attempted to reach out in various expressive gestures. there were a few projected video light sources in the mostly bare room which changed depending on the dancers. it was fairly intense and open to many interpretations, any of which could serve as a kind of rorschach test of the viewer.

elsewhere in the gallery, there was another dance performace of a similar nature (more restrictive gauze and green lights), while a noise-rock guitarist improvised over an ominous loop bringing the likes of glenn branca or michael gira to mind. meanwhile, in the back room, we were confronted with a disheveled man acting as a raving lunatic, asking everyone who entered who they were and to point themselves out in cutouts, found objects, or on a map, while surrounded by junk, broken glass, and tv sets showing mostly static. there were also paintings and mixed-media sculptures. a very interesting place to say the least. josh took pictures that will probably come out better than mine and eventually be on his site, along with his other photos from past cave gallery shows.

the title of this post comes from the song candidate by joy division.


transmission / transition

the above image is a good metaphor for last night at free103point9. it's a great place that began as a microcasting (read: really short range, like six blocks) radio station and has grown into a lot more, putting on live shows in their williamsburg space and other places such as the tank as well as broadcasting online.

the night's music was fairly freeform and avant-garde. the musicians often seemed to be transmitting from some other place, while they themselves were receiving signals directing their playing from another dimension. sometimes it worked, sometimes not. or maybe my own receiver needed to be retuned. in any case, the george steeltoe ensemble, pictured (barely) above, made a good impression with their spacious avant-jazz. the upright bassist (left) warped the low end, the drummer kept things sparse but moving along, the guitarist did excellent microphone and soundhole feedback in between playing well-chosen notes. the saxophonist (center) spent most of the set balanced on his toes, swaying while clenching his eyes shut, listening for the next appropriate moment to add his beautifully rough bursts of melodic fragments to the music. it's wonderful to see players who interact with each other well and know when not to play.

my main reason for going was to see nick forte, who has an excellent album called pasted lakes, which is utterly unlike anything else on schematic records. tonight he was playing in an ensemble called hellsbells. forte used very few effects pedals but worked with them just as well as when he played with a few more toys on the schematic tour at tonic last year. as then, he manipulated a kaos pad with his shoeless feet. tonight he was joined by a guitarist who played more chordal, delayed structures and looped rhythms, while a keyboardist tweaked a synth and drum machine run through yet another labyrinthine set of pedals. by contrast, greg peterson played a hollowbody guitar through a "brand x" amp from the 70's that gave a clean or lightly distorted tone to his simple yet beautiful and effective melody lines.

the set was excellent; deep, full of rich textures, and balanced between spacey and earthy. i hope this configuration of musicians plays together again. i found their name amusing, since there was nothing hellish about their sound at all. peterson told me afterwards that he wants the band name to be pronounced "hubble," as in the telescope, possibly to avoid the horror of people with no sense of humor, or those who hate ac/dc. in case you're wondering, i number among the latter, although i have a soft spot for the song "back in black".

the title of this post comes from tvc15 by david bowie.


discontinued parts

two articles i came across the same day struck me and made a connection of sorts. pitchfork media, in a review of a collection by the "shoegazer" band slowdive, asked, "is this what we're doing now: packing up the 90's for posterity? and why should finality be a grave?"

i can understand this reaction. for one reason, it hardly seems like the 90's have been gone for very long. and yet, as each decade turns, the media races to define it and put a distance between the present and the past. the aim, whether conscious or not, seems to be to reduce a period of time to a few hollow signifiers, pre-fabricated for sound-bites and the inevitable marketing campaigns that rise up when everything old can be new again. but of course, as the article allows, "some reappraisal is necessary", and i agree. this can introduce artists and sounds to audiences that missed them the first time around, because generally, the window of opportunity to discover music is fairly small. but the effect of it being a re-appraisal is an automatic assessment that it is in fact "dead." this is like freezing a certain state of development, after which there can be influence and replication, but no further growth.

as this was rattling around in my head, by chance i found an old post on the excellent contemporary music blog beepsnort that asks, is experimental music today really experimental?. echoing my thoughts on the pitchfork article, the writer paraphrases an old prediction that "a dead end would be reached in experimentalism and that musical styles would freeze".

if this is the case, we've brought this on ourselves with our willingness to build steel walls between genres and eras of music. i can understand the need for names of different types of music, in order to point people towards something they might be interested in. but these days, each genre and micro-genre springs up so easily and completely, with a whole set of cultural rules to be followed. you can almost imagine the retrospective magazine articles, the documentary, and the digitally-remastered box set from the moment a freshly-coined term becomes common knowledge in any musical community. even more tragically, there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between some of these styles, much less the artists that rigidly follow them, adding to the cookie-cutter musical releases that litter the musical landscape.

further compounding the problem of lack of real growth is our post-post-post-modern culture. to paraphrase one of the best lines in ghost world, we live in a mental space where things are so new, they've swung all the way around back to old. for many, the excitement over new approaches has been worn out and replaced by the expectation of such discoveries. we're left with the sensation, as the beepsnort article suggests, that "the experiments have all been performed."

going back to the first article, one way out of this quagmire is buried between the lines of praise: "these days we all know that, in the end, slowdive were hardly shoegazers at all. that didn't stop them from recording some of the classics of the genre, but still: there's something in this work -- from the earliest singles to the beyond-rock of their last album -- that's just singularly theirs, something that's made them as influential to today's electronic music artists (or, hell, to goths) as they have been for rock kids."

the people who make really special music aren't concerned about what genre they fit into, they just make the music. the most innovative of these end up coming up with something truly new, or at the very least something that turns an old trick on its head and makes it seem fresh.

the title of this post comes from a song inspired by slowdive on the excellent blue skied an' clear tribute compilation released by morr music.


ninja tune

my copy of the year-end issue of res magazine arrived yesterday. while some people complain that it's a glorified collection of obvious and discreet advertising, i enjoy reading about films i might otherwise never have heard of. of course, the best thing about it is the free dvd it comes with. bizarre music videos and short films that usually end up in the touring film festival resfest. the company that owns res, palm pictures, also put out the mostly excellent directors' label series of dvds, focusing on
chris cunningham, spike jonze, and michel gondry. i say "mostly" because the cunningham dvd is brilliant but thin on content, teasing us with stills and looped clips of the auteurs and other cunningham works that weren't included.

coincidentally, today i accidentally came across a link to one of the clever and amusing short films featured in res, a ninja pays half my rent. i apologize for the file format.

the title of this post comes from the label of the same name, which released kaleidoscope, a really good album by dj food.


this machine kills fascists

i was extremely annoyed to learn from gothamist that the mta is once again proposing a ban on subway photography. reading over the specific sections that deal with this change, i fail to understand how banning photography will "improve police officer enforcement capability" or "enhance customer security and safety."

the proposed ban is not outright; it allows for members of the press with badges or "others duly authorized in writing to engage in such activity by the authority" to take photographs. but where does that leave the average snapshot photographers, tourists, photobloggers and artists? we need permission in writing to pull out a little digital and take some random shots? what exactly is the point of making such activities difficult?

if someone seriously answers "terrorism," i will scream. terrorists need to do a lot more than snap a picture to do any damage. photos of anything accessible by ordinary people in the subway would not be useful in causing harm, and if that's not the case, then the mta needs to hide their goodies a little better. and if terrorists really want to snap a picture, they'll find a way to do it anyway. just like ordinary citizens will. but making it a crime to do so is ridiculous.

several months back, while kneeling down shooting the train link closeup shown above, a woman approached me suspiciously and asked what i was doing. i said "just taking some pictures." she looked worried and moved away. a few minutes later, two cops showed up and asked me about it. i told them it was an art thing, and they said "that's what we figured, but we have to check it out if someone asks us to."

a few months later, i was near the edge of a platform shooting into a tunnel, when a transit worker started asking me what i was doing. i pointed out i wasn't beyond the line i was supposed to be, and asked if there was a law in effect yet. he then switched tactics, acting as though he was on my side and just warning me the cops upstairs would probably arrest me, what with "all this terrorist stuff going on."

terrorism is the all-purpose excuse to destroy civil liberties in the new millennium. are we supposed to not live our lives, flinching at shadows and stifling every little freedom until someday, miraculously, the terrorists are all gone, and we can breathe easier? as blisteringly funny comedian david cross said about terrorism, "at no point in time, ever are we gonna go, whew got 'em all. everybody loves us again."

the title of this post comes from woody guthrie, who wrote the phrase on his guitar.