Saturday, December 30, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

James Brown

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I think James Brown influenced Frank Sinatra's use of tight bands and horn sections in the late 1960's. James Brown's vocals were tight bursts of jazz. He could sing ballads like Lou Rawls and croon too just to please the crowd. But his main mission was to funk. It was a damn shame he got involved with drugs, domestic violence, and jail time but his cultural and artistic contributions will continue to inspire generations.
Flash version, James Brown, Project Vote Smart

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Some bulbs and animation

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Just messing around with the snow plug-in (for lack of the real stuff), Benetton Toybox, and free live music. CC Attr NC Share Alike for the video only, not the music.
Flash version,, Project Vote Smart

Monday, December 25, 2006

Holiday Greeting

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Certain songs sound festive to me. Like Greensleeves for example. Anyhow these three songs sound wintry or festive to me. "Gates of Eden", "Melancholia" (The Who) and "Purple Haze". All the video footage is either public domain or my own. Just go check out the Internet Archive.
Flash version, Freevlog, Project Vote Smart

Friday, December 22, 2006

Times Square Christmas 2004

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This is a rerun. Merry Christmas to All. Music is Handel's Messiah midi pushed thru Garageband 1. Times Square, NYC 2004.

Flash version, Freevlog, Project Vote Smart

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A bit of my 1991

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This episode features a quick review of Jamie Saft dubs on museum montage, a look back to my 1991 share in Brooklyn with records that came out that year and played on the turntable. Everyone in the photographs have moved on to much better and brighter things.

The pictures are from my Brooklyn photo album on Flickr. I used a 35mm B&W film and processed right at home. My rig back then was a student Minolta and a toy plastic Action Tracker camera. I still take plenty of photographs.

I didn't spend time retouching the scanned B&W negatives. All the media was shared within the Mac iLife suite. My vlog and home movies would not have been easy to make without the easy to use Mac.

Flash version, United for Peace & Justice, Project Vote Smart

Monday, December 11, 2006

Near Death Experience

This is a near death experience. Sonic Youth, I saw them a few times in the late 80's to early 90's, is a very rough, unfriendly moshpit. SY's album Sister is British new wave deprograming music (think weaning off the Echo & the Bunnymen). Sounds like it's played thru a portable radio, not even a hi fi boombox. Daydream Nation is their "Metallica" album. I liked Goo & Dirty. The latter had Butch Vig's awesome production quality and pop sensibility about it. In the early 90's, Butch Vig was the producer of the Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dreams and Nirvana's Nevermind.

Back to Sonic Youth. I saw them about 3 times and they weaned me off the British New Wave. SY was a gateway band for me. I saw them perform with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I saw the Boredoms open for them, leading me to look up Yamantaka Eye and eventually open to John Zorn's Naked City. The noise thing they had going on turned me on too to Big Black. It was about surreal alienation for me. Sister is my favorite SY album, followed by Daydream Nation, Goo and Dirty. I had my fill once Washing Machine came out. This cover by Young@Heart is about as American SY can get. Think Aaron Copland. Maybe a little of Varese's Nocturnal in the ending chorus. Very pop. The male lead vocal sounds like Roy Orbison.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Glitter and Doom

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan is exhibiting Neue Sachlichkeit (matter of frankness) portraits from Germany's Weimar Republic 1919-1933. I liked the mixture of anxiousness of Otto Dix's drawing of Frei Korps recruits to portraits of high rollers. During this time period, there was high economic inflation and yet society seemed to go on just fine in the portraits.

The portraits are meant to show archetypes, much like photographer August Sander from the same era and area. What separates the two mediums though is the former's malleability. The portraits can appear caricature-like, even the ones commissioned by the subject. Is this admission of irony or decadence, maybe the acceptance of impending doom? Both of these examples were eventually suppressed by the Nazis. Otto Dix and others branded as degenerate; August Sanders' book plates destroyed.

Can we predict the future looking at old art? From the paintings we can discern types of people- disfigured war veterans, circus freaks, sick aging prostitutes, middle class professionals, and profiteers. Could these artists witnessing and painting ever predict a war as bad as World War I? Unimaginable I say. These people in the paintings and photographs, I wonder what happened to them once the Nazis took over. Conscriptment, concentration camp, starvation, incineration from bombings?

I was thinking about my go bag for a moment walking past these paintings. Is America headed toward a Fascist Theocracy as Frank Zappa predicted? For me, the unthinkable is nuclear warfare. A domino effect of catastrophic thermonuclear explosions killing billions, poisoning the planet. I fear losing everything to the unthinkable. The remedy for my momentary angst is to give so I may receive, learn so someday I may teach, and to have a peaceful occupation.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sectarianist E-mail

I got an e-mail forwarded to me from the American Family Association. Their stand against the Koran instead of the Bible used at a swearing in is sectarianism. The Bible (or the Koran for that matter) is no guarantee against corruption in government. Checks and balances are better for accountability.

This type of baiting reminds me of a cock fight I witnessed in the Philippines. The handlers take turns agitating the roosters against one another. Once the birds' aggression are raised, the handlers remove the sheaths from the blades attached to the claws of the animals. The bet taker in the stand count in the money, the handlers release the birds and there is a cacaphony of gamblers, squawks, feathers and blood. The losing rooster gets cooked and if the winner is still ok to fight, it won't be dinner.

Sectarianism though is playing with dangerous human group dynamics. We all have the right to live peacefully. To agitate people against one another over religion disregards everyone's common interest of living peacefully. It's not yelling "Fire!" falsely in a crowded theatre but is a little more subtle. It suggests religious practice is a requirement to be a human being.

We all smile, we all want to be happy, and we have similiar emotions. Our common interests should not be obscured by religious sectarianism.

Billy Bragg

I saw Billy Bragg in NYC back on 1989. Seventeen years ago. I'm amazed how hammered I got and lost rationality through my years. You have this early idealism and then drift off to apathy. Sad but to listen to these tunes, it's pretty reaffriming to just pick yourself up, get back up. If you ever tried vegetarism and I'm talking about completely vegan, you know what I mean about personal clarity. I'm not talking about fasting but eating five square vegan meals a day for a few days. I feel the same way listening to Billy Bragg, some 17 years later. "Good God", I've been such a foolish clown.