Fresh from the anti-RNC scene at Union Square -- it was too depressing to stay. There were hundreds of cops. I watched tons of kids get carted off. The scene in midtown was even worse. Check out nyc.indymedia.org for more details.
On a brighter note, if you're looking for something to do, I compiled a bunch of stuff for the Voice about colorful, interesting anti-RNC events - check out The Week in Review.
08.31.04 @ 10:56 PM EST [link]
I've gotten pretty consumed with following the progress of the RNC protests here in New York. I just found out today that Josh -- one of my key sources for the protest art/technology article I wrote for the Voice yesterday -- was arrested. Here's the sad update I wrote today: Bikes Against Bush Gets a Flat.
08.30.04 @ 07:10 PM EST [link]
Technology, powered by passion, makes the resistance so cool: an article by me in the Village Voice about intriguing uses of technology at the RNC protests.
I also wrote a feature story that examines the insane popularity of Spider-Man in India for the Wall Street Journal Asian edition -- you need to register to read the piece (bah!), but I'll post the text here soon.
And I wrote the 'Epiphanies' page in the new issue of der Wire, so check that out too.
08.29.04 @ 06:57 PM EST [link]
back in new york. full report soon.
08.24.04 @ 10:58 PM EST [link]
Added permanent linx to these on the right sidebar finally!:
Tangerines in a Red Net Bag, The Rambler, Shut Yr Gob, Woebotnik (CONGRATS MATT on the birth of baby woebotnik no. 2!!), Doubt Beat, 86400 seconds, Drip Drop Drap, Koons Really Does Think He's Michaelangelo, Cloud Two, Mondrian's Sketchbook, Poplife. If there's anyone I forgot let me know when I get back.
See you when I get back! Photos and juicy reviews from Cologne in two weeks!
08.15.04 @ 03:14 AM EST [link]
Also I gotta say: this Wiley interview in the Independent that everyone's got their panties in a twist about (the one with the "worrying" "I'd love to work with Alanis" quote) is really, really funny. To wit:
"While Dizzee's poetic prowess has seen him likened to Tupac Shakur, Wiley has been labelled a businessman in the style of P Diddy. His plans for world domination include launching Eski Boy, Eski Girl and Roll Deep clothing-ranges, owning properties, becoming a millionaire, making a film of his life (which will include the towels-on-the-floor scene), doing TV ads and, even more off-the-wall, inventing an alcoholic drink. "I want to get everyone drunk," he reasons."
Go Wiley!! The last line kills me.
08.14.04 @ 10:17 PM EST [link]
So is it just me or does this video, with Superpitcher's head floating creepily over dreamlike forest imagery, scan like a parody of a Kate Bush video from the '80s? I mean, I'm totally down for this trend -- the video for "Running Up That Hill" broke my tender pre-adolescent brain, growing up.
(haha the WOLF HOWLING AT THE MOON!!)
And I've been surprised -- and so pleased! -- at the overwhelming response to my rant against noise! My inbox is flooded, and the comment box is raging. I'll work up another big post on the subject when I get back to America. Right now I can't focus on much because I'm leaving to Germany on Monday; all I'm capable of doing competently at this point is swooning. The surreal touch that comes with writing emails like "Ok, let's meet in Berlin for dinner at 7 pm" is, um, a bit much...see, there goes my mind again, those neurons getting all fanciful and impractical, firing haphazardly instead of in formation...two...more...days...
08.13.04 @ 03:54 PM EST [link]
Do you have a question for Michael Mayer? I'm going to be interviewing him next week -- in Germany! Melted ice cream and Cologne bliss, mere days away.
08.10.04 @ 02:27 PM EST [link]
So I read and re-read the Noise Primer in the new Wire, and I'd been meaning to put in my two cents on it. I'd been following Simon's thoughts on it, and the commentary on a few other blogs. I have nothing against D. Keenan; I've liked a lot of his stuff and I think he's a good writer. And I was happy to see a shout-out to the LA Free Music Society, one of the most criminally underrated scenes ever. But I disagree with his primer.
I should start by saying that I don't like the concept of primers, though I do find them useful and occasionally illuminating -- a case in point is the great Biba Kopf Neubauten primer, which I still refer to often. On the whole, though, they seem too textbooky for me. And when dealing with more than one band -- a whole genre, a host of conceptual approaches, a bunch of wriggling ideas -- the primer becomes problematic. What gets included and what gets excluded with something as abstract as "noise"? How do you draw your reader in with some familiar stuff and some non-obvious stuff, and how do you link those disparate pieces together? How do you avoid looking like you're trying to teach a lesson with a primer; how do you make music seem vital and interesting, something to be experienced, not just studied -- without just uselessly "bigging up" the underground?
The other problem with primers is they tend to be too obvious. God I would be so happy if I never had to read about TG again. What's the most shocking thing about Throbbing Gristle's "Zyklon B Zombie/United" 7", released on Industrial Records in 1978? That "United" was an out-and-out pop song. Nothing I ever heard from TG -- even their super-caustic early stuff -- ever struck me as horrible noise. Let's face it -- Genesis P is about as shocking as Howard Stern is shocking. I also found it interesting that out of all the Neubauten mentions there could have been, "Kalte Sterne: Early Recordings" was listed. The song "Kalte Sterne" itself is also pop music, and when I interviewed Blixa last year he admitted as such. It's a beautiful melody with a conventional verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure, and the most shocking thing about it is how lovely it is, how sad it is.
And what's the most disturbing thing about Metal Machine Music? That it "refuses the notion that everything is consensual, that communication is paramount, that music must be about pleasure"? Hardly. The most disturbing thing about Metal Machine Music is its prettiness. Fluttery and floaty, the thrum of bodies, of life, of the harmonic elements the flit up to the surface in spite of themselves. That's what's shocking about Metal Machine Music: that it's not shocking at all.
I wonder what would have happened if a woman had written the Noise Primer; I wonder if there would have been more mentions of women aside from a dashed-off line or two about Cosey; I wonder if a woman would have described Masami Akita a.k.a. Merzbow's music as "There's no plot and no build-up; instead it cuts straight to the pay-off, a gonzo compilation of vivid, libidinous money shots. Like the greatest high energy rock, it's gratuitously satisfying"?! Oh come off it! I'm so bored of the maleness of this noise canon, the self-congratulatory cock-rockness of it.
TG, Merzbow, Whitehouse, Non, and on and on...these were all people with really warped ideas of sexuality, of course. But their ideas about sex had so much to do with control and repression, of strapping things in, of exposing carnality and ugliness and messiness but paradoxically hiding behind the exposure, afraid of it, afraid of sex, afraid of intimacy...
I'll tell you what the most disturbing noise performance I saw recently was: a Double Leopards (faves of Keenan's, it must be said) show in a dank basement bar for five bucks. What I found shocking was the girl in the band. Her name escapes me, but she was sitting there on the stage, quiet as can be, with a box of effects pedals, and she was gently stroking them--in an almost motherly fashion--to provoke bizarrely contorted sounds. I found her gentle nature TEN TIMES MORE disturbing than all the dickwaving noise rock and the noise "canon" of Whitehouse/Merzbow/Masonna/etc/etc/barf that I've been privy to. Fuck the noise canon, fuck Throbbing Gristle and their useless cash-in reissues, fuck Merzbow and his BDSM bullshit and how he's gone all soft with his laptop stuff recently, fuck Borbetomagus (who are softies as well--I fall asleep listening to them sometimes), fuck Metal Machine Music -- bring me the future. The only hint of the future I saw in the whole primer was 150 words on Wolf Eyes at the end. And that's my rough opinion on noise. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go rock out to some dance music under the "surveillance glare" of this beautiful Sunday; it's my "nine to five soundtrack for regulating work and consumption." At night, of course, I transform into a bloodsucking vampire, and that's when I listen to all that experimental music rotting on my shelf. . .
08.08.04 @ 02:31 PM EST [link]
This festival schedule I've been looking at is weird. There are several concurrent events going on every night, and there's no way to experience it all, so you gotta make choices. Fortunately these choices are ridiculously simple.
Choice #1: a rock event featuring Franz Ferdinand and Radio Four, $22
Choice #2: The Orb, Michael Mayer, Superpitcher, DJ Koze, Tobias Thomas, and Triple R, $15
Choice #1: Arrested Development (I shit you not -- those crazy Germans), $15
Choice #2: Magda, Richie Hawtin, and Ricardo Villalobos, all for $5
Which would you choose, dear reader? Answer in the comment box below!
08.06.04 @ 07:20 PM EST [link]
If anyone is going to the C/O Pop Festival für elektronische Popkultur in Köln later this month, we need to talk. Contact me ASAP.
08.03.04 @ 02:37 PM EST [link]
bands and bees.
A tiny tidbit I did for the Voice on the high school marching band run amuck. A lot of the more colorful stuff got cut, including my favorite bit about the ever-so-comical sousaphone* player with a flair for playing Chic basslines. A worthy skill, if there was ever a worthy skill to be had.
*"Sousaphone" is the word that came between me and victory (the National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, DC) when I was twelve. I note this with no small degree of chagrin, considering that I a) was in band (I played flute -- it sucked); b) had played stuff by John Philip Sousa, but did not make the connection and c) could ably spell words much harder than sousaphone. [d) I loved the doc Spellbound, in case you were wondering.]
08.03.04 @ 02:15 PM EST [link]
People, do not take for granted the fact that the New York Public Library lets you take out 16mm films! Last night, one of the neighbors projected a series of 16mm film shorts from the library onto a white sheet in her amazing backyard. We drank wine and watched weird instructional films, random 1960s horror flicks, and this great Alexander Calder documentary on the grass as the night fell. Then into the drawing room (yes, a drawing room) where I got to tickle the ivories on a 100-year-old Steinway. Ah, pianos!
08.01.04 @ 02:16 PM EST [link]