Friday, December 05, 2008


"Pharoah (Sanders) had this song called 'Pisces Moon,' which he was playing every night as a theme in New York and he asked me if I could put some lyrics to it. I came up with 'The Creator Has A Masterplan.' A classic was born...."

"I'd been trying to reach this cat for ages with no luck. I was at home and thought 'I'm gonna make this cat pick up the phone'--mentally. I began my yoga exercises and got to the head stand. With one intake of breath, I planned to walk to the phone upside down, dial his number, and make him answer with this mental projection.

"As I crossed the threshhold of the bedroom, I transcended. I was one place and my body was another. I dropped to the floor, right on my face and my teeth went into my bottom lip. There was blood everywhere....

"So I couldn't do my own show with Pharoah. I had eight stitches in my mouth. I couldn't do anything. Pharoah came by to see me [and he said] you can't pull out."

"I couldn't smile. I could hardly open my mouth...but I went along anyhow. I got up on the stage and when it came time for me to scat, this sound just came out. It shocked me. I didn't know where it was coming from.

"I realised it was me and I realised that the ancestors had arrived. Pharoah, standing beside me on stage just raised his eyebrows at me. The ancestors had given me what we call throat articulation and they said to me 'You will sing like this with your mouth CLOSED.' And that was the first time it presented itself to me, in a church. My God! Thank you....It surprises me, it does everything of its own volition. I call it Soularfone. The pygmies call it Umbo Weti....This voice is not me, my voice is ancient. This person you see before you is controlled by ego but my voice is egoless." Leon Thomas

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


"We didn't know what to call the record and we didn't have any cover ideas until just by chance, in the window of a Turkish food shop, we saw this can, made by a Turkish company called Can who put Okra in a tin. There were about 20 of them, arranged in a display. We saw it, and thought 'this is a funny idea', and made a photograph of it, and called the record Ege Bamyasi, which is Turkish for okra. We wrote to the Turkish company to tell them we have been called Can for a couple of years, and told them that we made this cover, and might send it to them, and we would love to do a promotional thing, like sending cans to journalists. We got a letter back from their lawyers saying 'you are not allowed to call yourselves Can, and if you continue to do so, we will sue you'. I'm not such a big fan of okra anyway, it isn't really my vegetable." Irmin Schmidt

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Cut Ups "Jusserand"

The Cut Ups are a Washington, D.C. duo who employ simple, sparse song structures with an emphasis on mood and lyric. Their understated approach serves their songs well. From the opening notes, their second album "Jusserand" sounds richer and fuller than their first ("Hearts, Kings, Lies"). The band has progressed artistically, with more care paid to the elements of the songs. They've brought in other musicians to enhance their sound as well. Throughout the record the guitar chords are bright and crisp, the simple, unobtrusive drumming propels the songs forward, the light touches of keyboard and synthesizer effects are never overwhelming. The recordings have a live feel. "New Years Eve", the rocker of the album, clatters like a Slanted & Enchanted era Pavement song. "California Questions", another standout track, is reminiscent of The Feelies. Perhaps a few more rockers would have rounded out this record. And the lyrics deserve to be printed on the insert. But these are minor points.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gone But Not Forgotten

Grand Canyon
Originally uploaded by Iburiedpaul
Happy Birthday Dad

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Life Ends

A week ago today I got a phone call that I'll remember forever. It was my brother calling to tell me our father had died. I stood on the street in the rain and tried to comprehend the news.

Here's the obituary we wrote for the local paper:

Wendell Harvey Jones, 70, of Ridgefield, husband of Barbara (Johnson) Jones died on Thursday evening, April 3, 2008 at his home.

Mr. Jones was born in LeSeuer, MN on July 21, 1937. He was the son of Harvey and Clara (Haas) Jones.

While attending the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, he met his wife, Barbara. They were married in January of 1960. After graduating from the University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1960, he served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1960 to 1963. In 1964, he obtained a Bachelor of Foreign Trade from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

In 1966 Mr. Jones joined the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. From 1967 through 1968 he served as Vice Counsel and Second Secretary at the American Embassy in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. After returning to the United States, Mr. Jones pursued a career in international finance in New York City, working as a banker until 2000. He later became a substitute teacher in the Ridgefield and Danbury School systems and was briefly director of the Ridgefield Discovery Center.

Mr. Jones was an avid outdoorsman, hiking many of the peaks of New England in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. He instilled this love of nature in his children, who accompanied him on many family camping expeditions, from California to Maine.

As a lifelong music fan, Mr. Jones was particularly fond of country and western and rock and roll. His favorite artists included Johnny Cash, Neil Young and the Rolling Stones. He was known to often have his nose in at least three books at once, preferring historical tomes over fiction. On the weekends, he liked to cook, often following recipes clipped from the New York Times.

An area resident since 1976, he had been a resident of Ridgefield for the past twenty-two years, coming from Redding. He was a member of the First Congregational Church of Ridgefield.

In addition to his wife Barbara of 48 years, he is survived by two sons; Barrett Wendell Jones and his wife Gabriela Schneider of Washington, DC and Brendan Ronald Jones and his wife Susannah of New York, NY, a brother, Ronald A. Jones and his wife Kay of Lake Jackson, TX as well as nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will take place at noon on April 9 at the First Congregational Church of Ridgefield.

The family will receive friends following the service in Lund Hall of the First Congregational Church.

Internment will take place in Mapleshade Cemetery, Ridgefield at the direction of the family.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks that any contributions be made to the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108 (617-523-0655;

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library

I needed a book for a project and since I just needed a few pages, I decided to go to my public library. I checked online and found a copy available at the central library: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. I took the Metro to Gallery Place, crossed the street and entered the building. inside the door I put my bag through the x-ray machine and stepped through the metal detector, which I set off. the officer made me spread my arms out while he wanded me for guns, knives or whatever.

the central library of D.C. is not a pretty place. it may have been once, but now it's dark, grimy, and stale. after a few wrong turns I found the section I needed (Sociology). the doors were locked with a note explaining the section was closed until further notice due to maintenance. I went back downstairs and asked a librarian if a staff member could retrieve the book for me. the answer was no.

it's been forty years since James Earl Ray did what many feared and some hoped for. by 68, King had turned to economic justice for all people, black and white. he was in the midst of organizing the Poor People's Campaign, which he envisioned as the "second phase" of the civil rights movement.

the poverty rate in America has not changed since 1968. today 36.5 million Americans live in poverty (link). in the District of Columbia, 19% of the city's population live in poverty.

walking down G Street I thought about how the condition of the library reflects the condition of King's ideas of economic justice.
both have suffered from years of neglect.
the leaders who gather to pay tribute to King on the anniversary of his death have done nothing to lower the poverty rate in America. when we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. we should remember his unfulfilled dream of economic justice for all Americans.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Don't Let the Terrorists Win

Over the past few months I've become increasingly concerned for America's future. I don't know why exactly but I just feel that neither of the Democratic candidates have the necessary experience to be president. At this crucial time, America needs a strong, experienced leader. That's why I say John McCain is the man for the job.

McCain faced off against the Viet Cong and he stood up against the tax-and-spend Democrats in Congress. He's a maverick who follows his gut and his Christian faith. He's the son of admirals; his grandfather was an aviator, his father a submariner. You can't say that about any of the other candidates.

Don't let the terrorists win. Vote John McCain for President.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Living Outside the Law

a line from a Bob Dylan song (Absolutely Sweet Marie) keeps popping into my mind these days:
"To live outside the law you must be honest"

I think Dylan is pointing out that if you want to deviate from the social norm, you have to examine yourself and your motives: who am I? what is my role in the world? what are my beliefs? what do I want to accept and what do I want to reject?

if you obey the law, you're in the majority. most people never question their motives or their beliefs. they let others (parents, friends, church, ad agencies) decide their roles. American society has a straight set of rules to follow. they aren't posted anywhere but we all know them.

if you reject the rules, you need to come up with some of your own. and if you're making your own rules, then you need to be honest with yourself and realize your capabilities and define yourself because now there are no more rules to follow.

so it's vitally important to be honest. to say "I Love You" when you feel it and to say "Fuck You" when you feel it. to not avoid your emotions or cling to your beliefs. it all goes on the table for examination when you choose to live outside the law.
Originally uploaded by rebeca_filgueira

that's my interpretation anyway....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don Cherry

my appreciation for early seventies jazz just grows and grows as time goes on. the Miles Davis stuff from those days is heavy and powerful: Live/Evil, On the Corner, A Tribute to Jack Johnson- any one of these records can peel the paint off walls.

Don Cherry was also doing some interesting stuff in the seventies. Orient is a live recording from Paris in 1971. it isn't as heavy as Miles but it is just as powerful, and more approachable. the pieces range from chaotic breakdowns to deep grooves to audience sing-alongs.

in 1971 he staged a series of jam sessions inside a geodesic dome on the grounds of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. this became the album Organic Music Society, also released in 1971.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Let's Talk About Pandas

after a day of antiwar protests there's nothing like curling up in front of the warm infotainment glow of Fox News at 10 to hear about pandas trying to get pregnant. all day yesterday I couldn't stop thinking about Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, that lovable pair of giant pandas at the National Zoo. luckily Fox News and the Washington Post were monitoring the story closely and gave me full reports. I even got to see footage of Mei Xiang getting inseminated! this morning the Post only printed one picture of Mei Xiang on the front of the Metro section, while giving the antiwar demonstrations three whole pictures. it's terrible that on such an important day as yesterday, coverage of Mei Xiang's insemination had to be overshadowed by (using the Washington Post's words) "scattered" "sparse" "minor" demonstrations by "fewer than 1,000". the Post consistently relegates panda stories to the Metro and Style sections. it's as if they're trying to downplay the importance of pandas.

I hope someday the media will give pandas the coverage they deserve.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Five Years Later

Control Room is a stunning documentary of Al Jazeera's coverage of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. It's amazing how the film crew caught so many dramatic moments; the American bombing of Al Jazeera's Baghdad office; the spin of the American spokespeople; the frustration, anger, and fear of the journalists as they watched the violent invasion of their home country.

The Iraq War is a meaningless war that has brought misery to millions of people. Started as a "strategic" action by the conservatives in power, their "strategy" petered out four years ago and since then we've spent $275 million dollars a day to continue a war that has killed close to 100,000 people.

And there's no end in sight.

People ask me why I still go to antiwar protests. They point out that protests are no longer effective (and never were). My reply is that

there is nothing more fundamental than a crowd in the streets, even when the odds are impossible.

March 19th antiwar demonstration schedule

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stop Bitching and Create Something Interesting

If you live in D.C. you've probably encountered someone like this woman standing on a downtown sidewalk.

these people are from Zendik Farm, a commune in West Virginia.

their slogan is "Stop Bitching Start a Revolution". this command doesn't appear to have worked so far. maybe because starting a revolution requires more than putting on a t-shirt.

I'm not bothered by hippie artist commune dwellers selling t-shirts on the street. we need more weird people selling art in our public spaces (instead of FBI t-shirts and hot links). what pisses me off about the Zendik people is their lack of imagination. they've been selling the same black t-shirt with white slogan ever since I came to D.C. ten years ago.

if you drop out of society to create art then create something interesting.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SXSW Tuesday

the music people are starting to arrive...overheard two agency guys on cell phones going over the "talking points" for some celebrity: "We'll run a voice over where she talks about how important Walmart is in her life as we show pictures of a family in a backyard"

new word learned yesterday: administrivia

fact learned today: the tune of the American national anthem is based on an old English drinking song

Glenn Otis Brown of YouTube did a really good presentation on soundtrack licensing issues for film.

ok, ya'll... I've reached the end of the last day and I'm going offline to recuperate after living like a twentysomething these past 4 days. I encourage anyone reading this to check out this conference next year. the mix of people is fantastic and Austin is a helluva party town.

Monday, March 10, 2008

SXSW Monday

at this morning's panel on "beyond the blogosphere" I got to thinking about the money thing again. is advertising the only way to generate revenue? maybe some of these big entertainment conglomerates who are getting content from the blogosphere should pay the bloggers for what they take...wouldn't that be nice?

the Taco Shack on 4th street has been key to surviving this conference

more guys in dockers and bellies are checking in at the hotel...

the afternoon's keynote by Frank Warren (postsecret) was a real tearjerker. at the Q&A a guy proposed to his girlfriend and a woman cried for her dying age secular revivalism.

last night made more recordings of jam sessions...this will eventually be edited and released on CD-R under the name Client 9

Sunday, March 09, 2008

SXSW Sunday

last night on my way home from the opening party I passed a line of 7 cars each with the drivers side windows smashed...demon alcohol at work I guess. SXSW interactive conference attendees wouldn't do this, would they?

ok, here's my excuse: the hotel left a flyer in my room saying they were changing the clocks on sat when they cleaned my room, but they didn't. so I missed all the morning sessions but had a great breakfast of huevos rancheros at the counter of a bustling diner, so all's well that ends well.

today's keynote went off the rails with Sarah Lacy (Business Week) interviewing Mark the audience becomes increasingly hostile she says "this is the problem with web 2.0"... MZ uses the word "communicate" over a dozen times...I don't buy his line; no one becomes a millionaire who's not in it for the money.

12 steps content panel: if I knew who these women were I'd probably be thrilled but not knowing who they are it didn't mean much to me.

meant to go to geek bowling but got caught up in a tide that brought me to emos which turned out to be newcastle brown too many, though...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

SXSW Saturday

this morning's panel on videoblogging was really inspirational. bre pettis especially.

kinda so-so panel (The Suxorz) on the worst social networking ads of 2007.... didn't really flow...too bad, it was a great idea.

sat's keynote address: Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson- the dilemma of "pink collar" workers (librarians were cited as one example) who have advanced education but are not challenged by their jobs so they put their energies into online gaming, fan works (organization of transformative works)....the authorities (government, corporations, educators) assume the populace is dumb. this view needs to change 180 degrees, working instead off the premise that people are smart. they might be annoying but they are not dumb.

right after that was Bryan Caplan talking about how people are dumb....go figure.

last of sat was the Onion News Network folks talking about how they do their to see a piece they'd rejected as too controversial (because of the hardcore porn clips...)
yet, though.

Friday, March 07, 2008

SXSW so far

Sitting on the floor of the Austin convention center, here are my first impressions:
  • my hotel lobby was full of guys in crewcuts and dockers. luckily they turned out not to be SXSW conference attendees
  • the young are taking over, or at least the young-looking
  • the "Silver Dillo" runs to Whole Foods for free!
  • Whole Foods Austin beats Whole Foods Silver Spring by a mile
  • these people are friendly and enthusiastic, I want to give each of them my business card
  • grackles make me cackle
Battledecks II panel: a speaker makes up a presentation on-the-fly to a random assortment of weird slides.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Meanwhile, Outside the Academy

Poetry is dead in America. Sure, there's a U.S. Poet Laureate but, like the swords worn by Marine Corps officers, it's a quaint holdover from another era. In a country where 1 in 4 adults didn't read a single book last year, there's not much of a market for poetry.

Isolated from the energy of the street and coddled by anemic academics, poetry only shows up in college courses and stuffy journals, using big words like hermeneut and Lemnian.

Nashville poet David Berman talked about this situation at his recent appearance at the Corcoran. Since 1989 he's put out seven records with his band The Silver Jews and one book of poetry: Actual Air. Berman spoke of music as a more direct way to reach an audience than print, and more gratifying. He isn't the only poet to reach this conclusion. Allen Ginsberg, who appeared onstage with Bob Dylan (and later recorded with the Clash), also saw rock and roll as the vehicle to get his poetry to a larger audience.

But listening is different from reading. I prefer Berman's poems in Actual Air to his recordings with the Silver Jews. The nuances of his poems shine in the silence of the page. With the records, his words have to submit to the music and something gets lost in the process.

From page 37 of Actual Air:

Inside an abandoned spa
where Swiss hardcore kids squat in polar rooms
underneath fountains of careless feedback,

or within the funeral home's fusebox
which operates the violet shadows on the lawn
and the digital eyes of an elk head
bolted above the respirating fireplace,

you on the edge of rainshot shadows,

con the world into lamenting anything
until no one can recall how true stories end.

If it existed, we'd be used to it already,
the dream of important mail
like trumpets crashing into men
or oceans cruising through the furious night
while lonely seaside dentists hasten
to incorporate chocolate towers
into their huge immovable desserts.

If we are lured into violent matinees
we are only acting as the agents of coin circulation.
Like stuffed animals sharing coffee in the dorms,
or interstate median castaways with wild children,

we are all auditioning for a newish testament
where perfect kids ride pedestals of surf onto the beach
and Lake Speed's legendary hair rots
west of the redrock balconies and neutral horses

with fiery games.

Friday, February 29, 2008

D.C. Cabbie Roulette

Imagine that you live in a city with one restaurant. Sometimes when you go to this restaurant, you get a friendly waiter who takes your order, brings out your food, and takes care of you so that you leave satisfied. Other times you get a waiter who tries to charge you twice the price listed on the menu. Even though the menu says the trout is $25.00, the waiter tells you it's $50.00. When you tell him that's not the right price he calls you an asshole and you leave hungry and angry. But it's the only restaurant in town, so eventually you wind up back there again. Everything goes fine this time, but the next time you come in you get a different waiter. "What would you like to order?" he asks. "I'd like to order the trout" you say. The waiter says nothing. He just turns and walks away and you never get your food.

Each time I hail a cab in D.C. I wonder what will happen. Will I go away satisfied? Or angry? Last night we hailed a cab to go home. Since the route home crossed 4 zones and there were two of us, the fare should have been $15.10. The driver said "$30.00". There were no zone maps in his cab, he was just some joker in a broken-down Ford ripping off tourists coming out of Old Ebbitt Grill.

The night before I missed the last Metro of the night, which leaves at midnight (the time when most bands are still going strong: wouldn't it be nice if the clubs started shows earlier? But then they wouldn't sell as much beer...). It was freezing and the streets were empty. Finally a cab rolled up, I got in, and we had a great conversation about jazz and teaching kids music as we rolled uptown. He charged me $13.60 - the correct amount - and I gave him a fat tip because I was grateful for a ride home and he was a nice guy.

I've had D.C. cabbies drive away when I tell them where I'm going. I've had a D.C. cabbie stop for gas while I sat in the cab. One cabbie charged me $35.00 for going from my office to the Library of Congress- a ride that should cost $7.50.

On April 6th of this year, despite the best efforts of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, D.C. cabs will get meters. Get ready for new, innovative routes like Georgetown to Capitol Hill via Tenleytown, or Union Station
to Adams-Morgan via Petworth.

...half of the cabbies you see in Adams Morgan especially during weekends and last call rush hours are illegal out of state drivers with phony licenses out there to make a quick buck by ripping off people...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Eric Clapton and the Seeds of Addiction

Reading Eric Clapton's autobiography, where he describes spending the first part of the seventies junked-out and the second half drunk, I got to thinking about addictions and people who just can't stop.

Here are some definitions of one addiction: alcoholism

Alcoholism is a progressive, often fatal disease, possibly hereditary. Alcoholics are ill people whose body chemistry is such that they can become addicted to alcohol. In emergency treatment, alcoholism must be distinguished from schizophrenia depressions, head injuries, and so forth.

Alcoholism, like drug addiction and schizophrenia, is best seen as a form of family interaction in which one person is assigned the role of the alcoholic while others play the complementary roles, such as the martyred wife, the neglected children, the disgraced parents, and so forth. As this deadly game is played by mutual consent, any attempt to remove the key factor, the alcoholic, is bound to create difficulties for the other family members, who will attempt to restore their former game.

Alcoholism is a moral failing, not an illness. It is the natural penalty for drinking.

Alcoholics are drinkers who do not obey the rules of the drinking society. They behave badly when drunk, and they cannot hold their liquor. Alcoholism is an unacceptable form of drinking behavior.

Every addiction is different just as every addict is different. It's a puzzle each addict has to figure out. Some figure it out in time, others do not.

I hope my friend figures out the puzzle in time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Naked Cowboy's Work Ethic

I read somewhere how each morning The Naked Cowboy reads a set of inspirational snippets before heading out to play in public in his underwear. The texts are bits from classic self-help books by Anthony Robbins, Dale Carnegie etc.

D.C.'s Bad Brains (the best
punk band this town ever produced) based their work ethic on a single book: Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich", a work that emphasizes the importance of Positive Mental Attitude (PMA).

I guess my inspirational text is a novel called "I Served The King of England", originally written in Czech by a wild writer named Bohumil Hrabal. That's the book I've re-read most often. It's a hero story about good fortune
happening by chance amidst the random tragedies of life.

But an absurdist Czech novel doesn't seem like a good template to work off of right now. I need something more constructive...

Then again, maybe not.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Price of Water

The drinking water in the District of Columbia contains levels of lead 17 times the amount the federal government considers unsafe in drinking water. For children, exposure to this level of lead causes:
  • Reduced IQ
  • Slowed body growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Behavior or attention problems
  • Failure at school
  • Kidney damage
To combat the lead problem, which is caused by old lead pipes, the city's water authority has added orthophosphates to the water.

Exposure to orthophosphates causes:

  • bone decalcification
  • increased parathyroid gland activity
So a lot of people in DC drink bottled water instead of tap water. We're not alone.

Americans ... paid $7.7 billion for bottled water in 2002

The failure of our public works has provided a business opportunity to corporations who bottle and sell water.

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) is replacing lead pipes in the District. Recently they're considering slowing down the replacement project because of costs.

"..what's it worth to you?"
(a WASA official on the cost of safe drinking water)

That's not a question that should be asked. Safe drinking water is not a commodity. It's not a budget line item. It's a human right. And human rights are priceless.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why Do Yoga?

I've been asking myself that question lately because it's been feeling rote.

This morning it was gray outside, gray inside, gray gray gray. So I "went to the mat" as they say in the trade.

I went through the asanas and thought about how each of my teachers has taught me different aspects of my practice.

At the end I sat in meditation. Meditation is the hardest part of all.
The brain is a very stubborn muscle.

In a typical yoga class, the final pose is shavasana ("corpse pose" or, if that scares you- "relaxation pose") where you lie on your back and think about dinner, or about work, or some other complicated knot of a problem until you drift off to sleep and start snoring...

This is when you meditate. All the physical movements preceding this were to get you primed to rewire the mechanism that's been running, running, running every day since your were born.

For a few minutes today my third eye opened. Then some thought came clanking in and I snapped back to the grid. But it lasted long enough to remind me why I do yoga.

Here are two scans of a Buddhist monk's brain:

8 years in and I'm still just at the tip of the iceberg.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Meditations on the Lunar Eclipse

As Stereogab and I stood outside watching the lunar eclipse, I thought about how much things have changed.

In other ages, an eclipse was a terrifying event.

American Indians believed that a lunar eclipse spawned a negative essence that spread over the world. If a particle of this essence landed on a cooking pot, sickness would result. So they turned all their pots over to avoid contamination and threw out their water supplies, believing they'd been tainted with this negative essence.

While we stood outside watching the moon disappear, our neighbors sat inside watching television. Cars drove by, the Metro came and went, life went on just like any other Wednesday night.

I suppose I should be glad that Science has triumphed over Superstition. But is science the reason people don't get up from the couch to watch a lunar eclipse? I read recently that 1 in 5 American adults believe the sun revolves around the earth. So maybe science isn't the reason. Maybe people have become so disconnected that they don't notice (or don't care about) the patterns of nature.

That is really terrifying.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Modern Junkies

Which of these guys is a junkie?

Both are.

Heath Ledger overdosed on a combination of Xanax, OxyContin, Valium, Restoril, Unisom and Hydrocodone- all prescription drugs.

Between 1999 and 2004,

prescription drugs overtook cocaine and heroin combined as the leading cause of lethal overdoses

An article about OxyContin abuse in rural Virginia states that:

A record 248 people died of overdoses in Virginia's western region in 2006, more than those who died from homicides, house fires and alcohol-related car accidents combined. That was an 18 percent increase from 2005 and a 270 percent increase from a decade ago

The modern pushers
Last year, the manufacturer of OxyContin was fined $643 million dollars because the company

... falsely claimed OxyContin was less addictive, less subject to abuse, and less likely to cause withdrawal symptoms than rival pain medications.

More than 70% of Purdue's $1.8 billion in annual revenue comes from the sale of OxyContin.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Infected School Lunch Meat Blues

In DC this week, schools chancellor Michelle Rhee announced an overhaul of the city's school lunch program, noting that:

the in-house program lost $30 million in three years partly because students refuse to buy meals that don't taste good.

Maybe the meals didn't taste good because the meat was from the Southern California slaughterhouse busted by the USDA recently where sick cows were ground up for school lunches and other federal programs (143 million pounds of diseased meat, "most of which has probably already been consumed" has been recalled).

Meanwhile, one public school has The Edible Schoolyard where students grow and cook their own food. They learn the principles of ecology, agriculture, and cuisine. It's a holistic approach to teaching and feeding kids. And it's one that could be implemented at any public school in the country.

Does your local school have an edible schoolyard?

Why not?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Cruelty of Animal Lovers

In an article in today's Washington Post I read a heartwarming tale of efforts by U.S. soldiers and an American organization to rescue a 9-month old from the horrors of Iraq. The U.S. organization spent $4,000 on the rescue. The 9-month old orphan named Charlie arrived in Dulles yesterday and will eventually reside in Phoenix. The rescue organization announced in their press release "We are thrilled to have Charlie safe on American soil"

Charlie is a dog.

Estimates of the number of (human) orphans in Iraq run from a low of 500,000 to a high of 4.5 million as of January 2008.

Closer to home,
there are two bakeries in Alexandria, Virginia that cater to dogs: Madeleine's Dogs and Barkley Square Gourmet Dog Bakery & Boutique. A "Madeleines Dog Bone Birthday Cake" costs $25.00.

As of 2007, %5.9 of the population of Alexandria (7,800 people) have incomes below the poverty line. In the United States, living below the poverty line means lacking the resources to meet the basic needs for healthy living; having insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health.

I like animals. I like them so much that I don't eat them. But it isn't compassion that motivates people to rescue animals from Iraq or bake cakes for them. It's selfishness.

We imbue animals with aspects of our own personalities, channeling our identities through animals who reflect these energies back out to us in a way that appeals to us. In other words, the devotion of a dumb animal makes us feel better about ourselves.

That's how we get to a point where we value the life of a dog over the life of a child.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

swimmingly yours

Heart Tattoo Fish...
Originally uploaded by ~Dezz~
It's Valentine's day. Buy your sweetheart something nice - I'll bet they sell a lot of roses today. But a daisy will do too, you know.
cuz the real gift is

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You Don't Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way the Wind Blows

Watching the weather yesterday on CNN at the gym, the weather guy was talking about tornadoes in the south. The anchor asked him "Are tornadoes usual for this time of year?" and the weather guy replied "Absolutely!"

Are they? Let's go to the Internet:
So they aren't normal for this time of year. But by saying "Absolutely!" the weather guy assured those watching that "Everything is alright, there's nothing to worry about."

Which leads me to the recent refusal of the President of the United States to call our current economic situation a recession:

"Bush, citing some experts, said the U.S. was not in a recession"

The Internet provides this graph to contradict that statement:
This will eventually be called a recession. If it continues long enough it might even be labeled a depression. But that too is just a word.

The people who use the media to control our perceptions know that words matter.
They choose words carefully, staying "on message" all the time, scaring us with warnings of terrorists and soothing us with phony claims of victory.

So next time you hear your government spokesperson claiming that everything is ok, you should feel concerned because most likely the exact opposite is true.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Use Me! (Just Don't Abuse Me)

In documentary filmmaking, one of the most expensive parts of making a film is buying rights for the soundtrack music. This is why filmmakers often choose to have someone compose music for the film rather than paying to license commercial music.

A few years ago I worked with a woman who was making a documentary and needed some music for the soundtrack. I'd been curious about soundtrack work, so when this opportunity came I was excited to give it a shot. I'm not sure what happened but now the trailer for the movie is up and that's my song playing in the background but the music is credited to someone else!

What particularly sucks about this is that all my music is under the type of Creative Commons licensing requiring attribution only. No money, no strings attached, just put my name in the credits if you are using my music and that's it.


POSTSCRIPT: the filmmaker removed the trailer from her site as I requested. But that doesn't change what happened. I have a copy of the trailer, so the link still works.

Monday, February 11, 2008

An Open Letter to the People of Wyoming

Here's a question for those of you who live in Wyoming. You don't have any state income tax, right? Just sales tax. So what if another state - like Pennsylvania - decided your laws needed to be changed, that you need to start charging an income tax. You resist, fighting it in the courts, but you lose and you are forced to change your state rules and start collecting income tax because Pennsylvania wants you to. None of your tax money will go to Pennsylvania. They just doing it because they object to your lack of a state income tax.

Then Ohio decides they want to close your ABC stores. In fact, Ohio feels that you should be a completely dry state. And they take the case to court and they win the first round. Even the Vice President of the United States Himself voices support for the ban. It starts to look certain that all the bars around the state will be forced to close and you'll have to drive 200 miles to Montana to buy beer, just because Ohio wants it that way.

You elect Senators and Representatives to go to Washington, DC to vote on your behalf, right Wyoming? But imagine that your man Mike Enzi goes to Washington and sits in Congress but his vote doesn't count. So if you want him to vote "yes" or "no" on a bill that determines whether to go to war, or fund abortions, or lower taxes, or any issue that concerns you, he can't.

That's our situation here in the District of Columbia. When a Senator from Texas doesn't like our gun laws, she changes them. When a Representative from Kansas
doesn't like our public health laws, he changes them. And there's nothing we can do.

There's more of us in D.C. (
581,530) than there are in Wyoming (515,004).

56% of us are black.

Last September the latest bill for our statehood died because a Senator from Kentucky and a Senator from Mississippi were opposed.

This is the Mississippi state flag: