Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jack White - Servings and Portions from my Boarding House Reach (video)

Fresh off the presses, a look at Jack White's upcoming album. Presumably.  Sounds like there's a lot of stuff here.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Twitter is paralysed by Trump's tweeting - BBC

I remember someone, probably the NME, puncturing the ego of a massive rock star by saying, "C'mon, you're just some bloke who runs a danceband!" Someone needs to tell Twitter's Jack Dorsey, "C'mon, you're just some guy who runs a bulletin board." He has no clue how to steer his glorified BBS now 45 is using it to promote his fave racists. 

Can you imagine the owner/moderator of Birmingham Area Sega Fans or whatever message board you grew up on handling international diplomacy? Those mods couldn't handle the split when two members divorced and stopped speaking to each other. The weird one who kept saying she had cancer just to get attention?  The one who wouldn't shut up about his collection? Nobody's ever managed to deal with that, never mind a standoff between two nuclear armed states.

People ought to stop treating Twitter like it's the First Amendment and the Second Coming wrapped up in cute 280 character packages. Similar goes for Facey McFacebookface, whatever his name is.

BBC story here: 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Meanwhile, on Earth Three, things get worse

These two tweets were next to each other in my timeline today. (And they're not the only ones like it.)

No wonder the young people hate us. On the other hand, they will have the interesting challenge of trying to re-site cities and ports in a land where most of the crops are having to be grown in new latitudes, most all of the trees are dead and there's no usable internet.

That should keep them busy.

Tweets are Sarah Kendzior on dismantling net neutrality in a Trump world and David Simon (quoting Eric Holthaus) on how quickly sea level rise will change coastlines.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Blues and Gospel Train: Sister Rosetta Tharpe and others at Manchester station, 1964

This is the program from which that Sister Rosetta Tharpe song, Didn't It Rain, is taken. You know, the one everyone shares and says it's rare. The film also includes Muddy Waters (a bit) and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee (a lot).

Many English people study trains and train stations the same way some people study the blues. So unlike most YouTube videos, you get comments like this:
Exactly 50 years on. The recording was made on a rainy day in Manchester (UK) on 7th May 1964. There is dispute about exactly where it was filmed, but TV producer Johnny Hamp says it was on Wilbraham Road, Chorlton Cum Hardey in South Manchester. The station was closed around 1959, but still had freight trains rolling through. I think it was closed permanently in 1967 and was knocked down. The site was used as a cycle way, with Safeway opening a store next to it (this is now a Morrisons). Over the last year or so, tracks have been re-layed and it is now part of Manchester's Metrolink Tram Station. 
mlw61Around 11 minutes in, you can hear the rain battering down. Manchester has a reputation of being a rainy city (and here's proof). This lead to Sister Rosetta Tharpe to change the song originally meant for the programme to "Didn't It Rain". Hence the hilarity at the start of the song :-) 
Neil Ferguson-LeeHi mlw61 - can I add to your observations? The station was indeed called Wilbraham Road and did close in 1958 although you are quite right that trains were still running down that line including through passenger trains. Having a TV show there that evening would have been rather disruptive and they would have had to have diverted trains off that line. As it was a Thursday, it must have been extra disruptive.Just one detail: you have got the station confused wit Chorlton-cum-Hardy which is the one next to Morrisons. That one did close in 1967 although at Chorlton Junction (which is where St. Werberghs Road tram stop is), if you turned left then the next station was indeed Wilbraham Road.What would I give to have been there on that night!
(I have no idea why one of them uses "freight" instead of "goods" train though. Maybe that's English now.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dead Weather: I can't hear you (live video 2010)

House of Blues, July 2010. 

I was there!

I love the twin lead guitars. I have to say there's been some drastically crap dual lead guitar playing over the last fifty years, but this works, possibly because Dean and Jack show no signs of even knowing there's someone else on the stage. Off in their own little worlds, reacting to the music. 

I also like the way it's been filmed in B&W by a mole person with a camera that fought every step of the way to only focus on the little light on one of the amps.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Culture, jammed

I've seen this image doing the rounds on Twitter lately, and garnering quite a few "WTAF?" comments. 

It's a picture of a rather raddled looking woman in a dressing gown in a kitchen, with a glass of Smirnoff vodka (the bottle is on the table) and the caption "Every Morning's a Smirnoff Morning."

It's presented on Twitter as a real ad which common sense should tell you Smirnoff would never do. A reverse image search (through Tineye or Google images) would...eventually, after some patience, tell you where it's from.  Most of the hits are people laughing about the Bad Old Days or saying one version or another of "Jeez! Promoting alcoholism. Nowadays relegated to the bin along with tobacco and sexism in advertising. How did they every thing this was a good idea is beyond me!" 

Only one hit on the first couple of pages gives its actual provenance. The "ad" is a piece of "culture jamming" from the early 90's, a fake ad from Adbusters.  The mention is in an LA Times Op Ed from 1992, and does not include the matching picture, only a description. 

Culture jamming. A new dance fad? No, the new dissent in America.
How does it work? Simple. Take a commercial message and turn it against itself. Sabotage advertising, sabotage television.
Just as the entertainment-consumption complex filched America's most cherished images, language and values, so now culture jammers use the same tactics to obstruct their adversaries' ideology. To defend culture jamming as a First Amendment freedom is to support an insurgent idea--and that's precisely what these new radicals want.
Their strategy is to meet the enemy on its own turf. They take space on billboards, in magazine ad slots and on commercial television--they even distribute T-shirts--to plant critical messages in the style of the targeted offenders. Some examples:
* Magazine ad of a riderless horse in a cemetery with the caption "Marlboro Country."
* Billboard ad showing a bedraggled woman sitting at a breakfast table with a glass of vodka in hand. The caption: "Every morning's a Smirnoff morning." [...]
Another source a bit harder to find, Culture Jamming in the Carnival, gives an exact reference for the image:
ADBUSTERS Q., Winter 1989 ­90, at inside cover. Consider another such example: an advertising photo of a high­ gloss and expensive coffin with the caption "Absolute Silence" and the subtext "The birthdays, the graduation, the wedding day ... we were there to toast them all. So from one great spirit to another, here's to the most enduring ritual of all." ADBUSTERS Q., Summer/Fall 1992, at inside cover.
And so there you have it. It's a splash page at Adbusters, a magazine I never bought but often eagerly read in one of those bookshops that had racks upon racks of magazines and a cafe, so you could read the magazines without buying them. Younger people don't remember those because they all went bust in the oughties for some unknowable reason. Adbusters itself is still going strong.

Adbusters' aim - to get people to think about consumer culture, by any means necessary - was admirable and still is, though of course, since it's not possible to do anything about consumer culture it's very irritating.  However, the current air of mild disbelief about this "ad" - were the Bad Old Days really that bad? I guess so! - reveals that the persistence of the memes outside their intended context simply shores up the status quo. Culture is now so distorted, and 'truth' is now so kaleidoscopic that this "ad" becomes just another brick in the wall. Culture jamming just jammed the culture tighter into place.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Edgar Varese: Deserts (documentary 1966)

An hour long documentary on Edgar Varese.

Described as (translated by Google):

Movie of Gérard Patris and Luc Ferrari. "Great Rehearsals" Ionization, Deserts

This show is primarily a tribute to the musician Edgar Varèse who died in the United States on November 6, 1965 at the age of eighty-two years, a few days before the scheduled date for the filming of the repetition of one of these works. Through the testimonies of personalities who have known him, the extraordinary vitality of this composer has evolved for more than forty years, in an almost total isolation, a revolutionary sound research. Ferdinand Ouelette, his Canadian biographer, traces the life in Paris and New York of the musician. Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Hermann Scherchen, André Jolivet, Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Boulez and Marcel Duchamp evoke the personality and work of this sound architect. All these insider witnesses also recall how much this brutal music 
In the second part of the show, Bruno Maderna conducts a rehearsal of "Desert". The conductor wrestles with the score, striving, with great skill, to bring the orchestra's instrumentalists to a proper understanding of the required sound materials and their temporal organization. Finally, he directs the execution of a fragment developed from this rigorous, aggressive, powerful, and revolutionary work of the sixties. 


(Can't embed so you'll just have to click the link!)

Friday, November 03, 2017

Koi at the Mission, San Juan Capistrano

The Mission, San Juan Capistrano, has huge koi in ornamental fountains who live in their little world forever cut off from us. (And us from them.)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hurricane Ophelia vs. the Great Storm of 1987

It's 30 years since the Great Storm of 1987, which took place on the night of 15-16th October. It's uncanny that the first hurricane to reach Category 3 so far east is about to hit Ireland on the anniversary of the Great Storm.

I was living in a tower block in East London at the time and I remember the wind whipping up during the evening and the subsequent rather sickening and anxiety-producing *swaying* of the tower block as the wind hit it. Even so I managed to sleep and awoke in the morning to find every fence and billboard down and strewn across the streets. All over southern England, trees were down, including famous and ancient oaks such as six of the seven at Sevenoaks in Kent.  Specimens of rare and exotic trees in Kew Gardens were lost along with thousands of more prosaic town trees lining streets.  Gales reached 115 mph. It was not, however, a hurricane, as its formation didn't meet the criteria for such a thing.

I hadn't prepared for it, partly because the weathermen on the telly famously didn't warn us, and partly because you don't get hurricanes in the UK, so I had no idea wind could be so destructive.  Waking up to feel the astonishingly clean air (it had, after all, been completely refreshed over night) and see the devastation, I was taught a salutary lesson.

Now, exactly 30 years later, Storm Ophelia is about to make landfall in Ireland, and ready to go on over Northern Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. It will be weaker - a tropical storm rather than a hurrican - by the time it hits, but winds of 100 mph are expected. One hopes people have heeded the warnings because these things are destructive.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Housekeeping: All pictures on this blog now reinstated...

Well, every one I could find, anyway.

A couple months ago Photobucket decided overnight to charge $399 a year for hosting photographs for blogs and message boards. All pictures on affected sites disappeared and were replaced with an ugly black square demanding money to have the picture restored.  It would have been much better to simply have the pictures disappear, rather than have ransom demands appear all over the blog. The black squares didn't contain any useful information, like which Photobucket folder the original picture was in, for example. This meant that the only way to patch up the blog was to read every entry, decide which photo had been between which paragraph, find it in a sea of unsorted downloaded photos and replace the black square with the correct photograph.

I had about 1100 to find and replace over 1600 blog entries.  It's taken so long that if I'd paid myself minimum wage to work on it, I would have spent more than the $400. But that would only have solved the problem for a few months, before the next year's fees were due. I found all but 30 or 40.  In some of those posts I've left a note that the link died and there is no picture, and in some cases I deleted the post entirely.

Additionally, more than 500 YouTube links had broken in the past ten years, just due to the natural turnover on YouTube. I've found almost all of them on another uploader's channel and relinked. More than nine or ten years back, I didn't spend any time on this, so the very early posts on the blog have those empty video containers. If you come across one and you can't find a re-upped version, let me know in comments and I'll see what I can do.

I didn't check very many of the text hyperlinks. Where I had time, I fixed broken ones or linked to the Wayback Machine where I could. If I couldn't relink, I left a note. However, there are literally thousands of links that I didn't check. There's probably an app that will point them all out to me. If you know of an app, let me know.

In some cases where there's a sequence of pictures, I made an effort to put them in the right order but there may be errors. For example, I have a fairly long analysis of Jimmy Page's eyes in the movie The Song Remains The Same.  Thumbnails (not Jimmy's thumbnails, the pictorial ones) were linked to larger versions and to gifs or clips. I hadn't annotated any of them. I had to simplify those, and one hopes I got the right screen cap with the right description. If anything's unclear, once again, let me know in comments.

Another thing I found was that, over the years, I've written some thoroughly goofy stuff. The temptation to just delete them (especially some of the early ones which have had literally less than 20 views) was almost overwhelming but I just let them be. Just as retweets are not endorsements, my patching up a four-line post about some minor long-forgotten online battle is not an indication I'm still carrying that grudge.

Here's to the next 1600 and obstacle course of platform changes!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Cymatics - music visualization by Nigel Stanford

Cymatics - visualizing music using Chladni's figures, that standing wave pipe with the flames coming out of it whose name escapes me and the ever-fresh High Ball Stepper-ish Putting Stuff on Speaker Cones So It Leaps Up.

All accompanied by real music that sounds a bit like Jean Michel Jarre's famous Anodyne played in a Chicago House Style.

Won't catch me walking around a Tesla Coil in chain mail I can tell you that!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Josh Homme and Dean Fertita on Jools Holland

It's nice to see Dean Fertita become a star after his stint with the Dead Weather. To be honest I could do with more Dead Weather instead but them's the breaks.

This clip from Jools Holland is only available for 29 days from October 4th, 2017. It is, however, viewable internationally, unlike the show itself on iPlayer.

Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05hznkt

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Men for the Debs' Delight

Growing up in England, I was always acutely aware of the class divide - that people from working class families in the north were not expected to make anything of themselves, and, in order to prove the point, were mostly not allowed to make anything of themselves.

I can well remember visiting the home of a college-mate boy from Beaconsfield, who told me afterwards, with little to no regret in his voice, "Mummy told me not the bring the girl with the awful accent to her house again." This wasn't Lord Beaconsfield's house, or Sir Baron Smugly of Beaconsfield's house, it was the house of the class that's normally called "middle" in England. (Though in the US it would be "upper".) I remember him once boasting that the house had "half an acre" which was admittedly more than my parents' council maisonette had, but wasn't exactly impressive landholder level. Nevertheless, they were better than me, and not only knew it but were happy to tell me so.

There was a time in the late sixties and early seventies when it seemed this sort of thing was dying out.  People with accents were allowed on the BBC, a few working class people got rich, entrepreneurs were encouraged, Mick Jagger hung out with posh birds and so forth. I held a semi-firm belief that a meritocracy might blossom. No such luck; though I don't live there anymore, the word I hear is that the Establishment is not only back in force, it never really went away. It just pretended for a while, until people like Boris Johnson could walk the streets safely.

This pictured Guardian article contains the passage: Peter [Townend, of Tatler] is widely credited as being the man who single-handedly kept the debutante “season” going for decades; he would suggest to parents that their daughters should be debs that year, and wouldn’t they like to host a party? I was what was called a “debs’ delight” – one of the men chosen by Peter to attend all these balls and dances.There would be two or three a week for the three months of the season, in London or at someone’s house in the country. All the men and girls were supposed to be available. It was a bit like the Young Conservatives used to be 20 years ago, a bit of a matchmaking thing.

The pictured event is from 1982, when Kitchen Sink writers and rock stars living in Cheyne Walk were a thing of the past. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wyoming Road Trip Day 11: Scottsdale-Orange County

August 26th

We took a normal car to Scottsdale for breakfast and had very large but not particularly special pancakes at the Breakfast Club, or perhaps BC Café. I wasn’t sure which name they preferred. Apart from the Venusian temperatures, Phoenix is a normal city and Scottsdale, while not exactly normal, is at least an upscale version of normal. After thousands of miles often with 100 miles separating one living thing (a pronghorn) from the next living thing (a cow) the proximity of so many people was enjoyable because it was familiar, but you can see why neither Soleri nor the many Native Americans we passed in the last two weeks wanted to live there.

We returned the RV, which necessitated me learning how to use Lyft so we could get back to the car. The getting-a-ride part of it seemed suspiciously easy. Easy enough that I fear that, as I once butt-dialled my boss while talking loudly in a bar, I may eventually butt-dial a fleet of Lyfts to a distant destination. Once back at the car, we made a detour to get my boarding pass printed on paper (smart phones may be clever but they do run out of battery at the worst times) and spent the rest of the morning at Phoenix Art Museum, which was very nice but unfortunately marred by the fact that I got suddenly dizzy and had to sit down. It’s not a great art museum. It’s collection seems a bit random, more like a magpie’s nest than a curated assembly. One standout is the room of doll’s house rooms crafted by a woman who obviously had too little to do, as she had put together more than a dozen tiny rooms of different historical periods and nations.

Phoenix Art Museum's brochure is a folded piece
of typing paper.  STB's comment, "Well, I
normally just go on the free day each month."

Since we’re both old and cranky, it can be difficult to find art to satisfy both of us. For instance, STB doesn’t like Chinese art because he can’t stand jade. Or maybe soapstone. Something that’s invariably present, anyway. There was some sort of conference or teacher training going on there, so wherever you might normally expect to find exhibits there was a gaggle of people chattering and eating sandwiches. I treated them as installations and walked round them stroking my chin. Perhaps one of them put a hex on me because I sure caught a bad case of vertigo a few minutes later. We cured that by going to the café and eating lunch.

At the airport, the Global Entry magically worked and I went through without having to remove any of my clothes. I had arrived plenty early; since I didn’t feel particularly well there was no point traipsing around the city and anyway, I hate being in a rush for a plane. With plenty of time to spare, I sat down and tried to put an icon for Lyft on my phone screen. I expected it would be as simple as thumbing a Lyft. It proved to be so difficult that it occupied the entire hour (and even now there isn’t an icon on the screen).  At least I didn't have to re-sort my entire baggage - since Global Entry had worked, I could just heave the unopened bag into the overhead compartment.

OC Smog layer seen from the plane

Orange County, as usual, was first visible from the plane as a thick yellow-brown layer of smog blanketing the mountains. People often think of Californians as tree-huggers who just want high-gas-mileage cars and high speed trains because we have some vague unexamined love of the environment. In fact, we're just trying not to choke on the air.

Eventually finding the Lyft App on my phone even without an icon, I confidently signaled for a ride and got possibly the only person in Orange County who does not know where to pick up at John Wayne Airport. I eventually talked him back round the one way system, got in, politely listened to him fretting about the possibly of missing the unbelievably important Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight and then…

Home sweet home.

On unpacking my bag, I found the tumbled-together toiletries had leaked into my t-shirts. Contents had shifted in flight.


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