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 sister...new 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 Zuckerberg...as 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 fun...one 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 show....got 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:


CXXXII
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.