So, I won't name names but I'm in this local consensus-based collective and I don't know if I should be in it anymore. Just about every week, at every weekly meeting, we have some argument about one thing or another and I'm pretty much always on the one side and everyone else is on the other and I always end up saying "well, I still disagree but I stand aside." I do this because it's never something important enough to block, and yet I always feel like I've given up on some matter of minor principle. Minor, but still a principle, something I firmly believe. And so, the question is, if this keeps happening week after week, does that mean I should leave the collective? I can't leave right away because we're in the middle of doing a lot of work on a big project. And I don't want to leave at all because it's really a subject that is important to me and the collective is responding to the subject in ways I believe in. But it just feels really bothersome and lonely to always always be alone on the other side of a debate every single week. Maybe it's not a sign that the collective is wrong for me but is just my problem and I should talk to my therapist about it. I dunno.
A new addition to indyblogs, Turtel, in New York, posted a great entry (a while ago, but I guess it showed up on my feedreader now because the blog was just added to indyblogs) about the frequency on TV of depictions of violent acts against women and how that serves to portray those acts as okay.
As Cialdini writes in science-speak, the problem is that “within the statement “Many people are doing this undesirable thing” lurks the powerful and undercutting normative message “Many people are doing this.” In other words, all the shows that have tons of people killing and raping women give the idea that that is normal behavior, even though they do communicate that its bad behavior. Within the statement “Many people are killing and raping women, and its bad” lurks the powerful and undercutting normative message, “Many people are killing and raping women.”
Shades of Barthes' "Mythologies"...
In this article in the Pasadena Weekly, the author discusses the situation in Juárez and its tip-of-the-iceberg status in the global problem of violence against women. She is the director of a new documentary as well, Beauty Bites Beast, which focuses on efforts to make self-defense skills accessible to women in Juarez and elsewhere and how important that is.
Violence against women, a pandemic as maiming and fatal as any deadly microbe, is not unique to Mexico. It's global. Ironically, Juárez may ultimately be useful by shining a spotlight on the ubiquity of violence perpetrated against women. It often takes a particularly blatant example of deadly misogyny to focus attention on more banal crimes perpetrated daily against women and girls worldwide
Yes yes yes.
(Crazy For You But) Not That Crazy The Magnetic Fields Crazy Patsy Cline Crazy (Britney Spears) Richard Cheese Crazy Baldhead Bob Marley & The Wailers Crazy Horse Stereo Total Crazy Train Richard Cheese So Fucking Crazy [Metallica & Britney Spears] Wild And Crazy Dr. Octagon
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were neccessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?--Alexander Solzhenitsyn
I read this within the first 5 minutes of waking up this morning and I was immediately struck by how powerful and perfect an idea it is, and it has proven to be absolutely completely the single overarching uniting idea of this whole day.
(Well, except for the part of the day when I was hacking SQL and PHP code in order to enable website users to enter into a relationship with VJs.)
Oh man, I just have to vent - it really annoys me when announcements of a work meeting are delivered only via an iCal file sent by email as an attachment, with nothing else in the email. no time, no explanation of what the meeting is about or why we need it or what the agenda is. And then you click the attachment and iCal wont let you see the information, just the time, unless you accept the invitation, but if the time is bad and you decline, then you never see any other information. Argh. whatever happened to good old text? just a "hey, let's conference call at 4 on tuesday about the contract?" and then i'll reach over and grab my organizer and a pen and write "4pm - work meeting" on tuesday. is that so hard? Argh.
Did I mention I'm sick?
The Venezuelan legislature is in the process of giving Hugo Chavez "the power to rule by decree for 18 months so that he can impose sweeping economic, social and political change." Wow. How long before he declares himself president-for-life?
Appropriately enough, I just saw an excellent film called Land of the Blind, about a fictional and archetypal country that goes from totalitarian right-wing rule to totalitarian left-wing rule thanx to a palace guard, played by Ray Fiennes, who later regrets his role in the revolution when things are even worse under the new "People's Committee for Justice and Democracy" regime, and is imprisoned for refusing to sign the loyalty oath to the Chairman-for-Life, played by Donald Southerland. It's a really great dystopian absurdist black-comic story, kindred in set design and mood to Terry Gilliam's Brazil, tho not as funny.
This weird fluffy white stuff started falling from the sky last night during a screening of films by Bill Daniel at Dry River that I had set up. I guess this substance is called snow and is very rare in this part of the world. I and other people looked out the window in amazement and some even rushed outside to feel its cold mushyness. I think it's been many years since it last snowed in Tucson. There was even enough to start accumulating and cover up the surface of our Dry River "open" sandwhichboard sign on the sidewalk.
In other news, it was another extremely interesting weekend, but I'm not at liberty to write why here. (If you want to sneak in my house and read my journal you can learn all about it.) Meanwhile, I'm sick, fighting the early stages of a cold. Hopefully I can stop it before it gets any worse. I think i've been staying up too late and riding around in the cold too much.
Snow is sort of exciting, or rather, seeing the excitement over snow of more longtime residents is exciting, but this cold weather is not what i came to Tucson for. I'm going to have to ramp up plans to move further south or something if this keeps up or becomes normal. Last winter was much milder than this one.
Is there somewhere I can ask for my money back? hah...
I can't remember where I first was referred to this, but according to various blogs, there's an amendment to a bill in Congress now, Section 220 of S. 1, though "on hold," that would basically require anyone writing about Congress to register quarterly with Congress. WTF? Insane. Both left and right bloggers and organizations seem to be complaining, but there's not as much chatter about this, or media attention, as I would expect. I looked further and found this on the SF Bay Times site:
Checking the actual text of Section 220, a laborious exercise indeed, I find that the text requires that third parties who pay money in order to engineer what might appear to be a grassroots lobbying effort must declare themselves. I also learn that the tactic, presumably one close to the heart of James Dobson and Focus on the Family, is called “Astroturf lobbying.”Ok, so this doesn't seem to be the fundamental threat to free speech that some are saying. Plus, even if it passed, how would one ever enforce it? wouldn't it be hard to prove in court that something "appears to be a grassroots lobbying effort?"
But speaking of taking away freedoms, I found a really great video by an indymedia videographer named Flux Rostrum, about the NYPD attacking him and stealing his camera at a protest in NYC. The irony is that the protest was a Oaxaca/Brad Will solidarity protest at the Mexican Consulate, protesting the murder of a videographer by government/PRI/paramilitary thugs. Flux ends his narration poignantly when he says, holding up the lens of his camera that stayed in his hand when the cops ripped the rest of it away, "how many years before they just shoot us here, too?"
Last Wednesday I went to Club Congress to see Giant Sand play, but I was even more impressed by the opening band, Lonna Kelley and the Brokenhearted Lovers, from Phoenix. Her voice is soooo great. Here's a song from the show I recorded that keeps being stuck in my head.
Another one is now on the top of Me Encanta Los Sonidos, the main Phonophilia podcast.
Enjoy. oh and her website is lonnakelley.com. Go buy a CD.
The 57th Berlin Film Festival will include the world premiere of Gregory Nava's "Bordertown", the J-Lo film (also starring Martin Sheen and Antonio Banderas) about the Juarez murders that we've all been waiting to see if it will ever get a distribution deal. Rumors on the IMDB discussion board say that it has a distributor and release date is january 31, but don't say who or give any references to prove it. However I would think if it's showing in festivals it won't be out for another few months at least.
Wow. A lot of social time. The centerpiece of the weekend was this huge Capricorn party at my building. There were tons of people there, an it was one of those great parties where lots of different people from different social ciricles were there, mixing together. lots of friends i knew, and new cool people i met. I floated around splitting up my time between everyone like i always end up doing when i'm a host at a party, but it was great fun. reconnected with people i havent seen in a while, and deepened other connections. And no one was hurt or horribly burned by any of the 5 bonfires! heh.
The next day I woke amazingly not very hungover and had a great little bike ride with a friend over to Frank's, my favorite Tucson greasy spoon diner, for breakfast. Then we went to the Family Art Fest and wandered around and saw lots of cheesy art and cute kids and old people doing things like tap-dancing or singing.
In the afternoon I went on a hike in the desert with some other friends and we found a secret cave with some petroglyphs in it. It was so cool, tho the walk was longer than i expected. oh well. Then there was the weekly sunday night community dinner that several of us started doing about a month ago (starting with one at my place!) There were about 30-40 people instead of 16, and many of them were strangers to most of us. So it felt not as good, like it was more of a party than a community dinner. it was less cozy and friendly. so i hope it quiets down a little now. but the food was awesome. greek theme. including homemade baklava, which was to die for.
Anyway, i started falling asleep shortly after dessert and decided to head home, then went to sleep at about 9:30. it was that kind of weekend.
I'm officially announcing the new, improved version of Phonophilia, the site I started 5 years ago dedicated to field recordings and sound. About a year or 2 before that I had purchased a minidisc recorder and some binaural microphones, mainly to record my live performances. But then I started getting interested in making field recordings. My love for this is explained on the site's about page.
Now what I've done over the last 3 weeks is revamped the site, making it driven by a content management system (Drupal) with modern bells and whistles like tags and RSS feeds and flash audio players an stuff. I like how it has turned out. I've slurped most of the audio content from the old site into the new system, but it's not all quite organized into pages and playlists and stuff, there's a link to the old site that i'm keeping around.
As I go forward, I'll be uploading and publishing lots of recordings I've made over the years that I never got around to putting on the site, because of the time factor involved. Now that I have the content management system, it wil be alot easier to put up these files with metadata and stuff. I'll also be posting new recordings I make.
There's a main iTunes-friendly rss feed, or podcast, that will have regular content on it - not neccesarily all content, but representative samplings. There's also an overall RSS feed that has absolutely everything that gets posted.
I'll periodically post here with links to stuff too. Like this recording of Calexico's song "Guero Canelo" at their show last Saturday. It's particularly interesting because they sang some Manu Chao lyrics over the top of it.
I just read a really wonderful essay in the January issue of Harper's, called "Army of Altruists," by David Graeber. It deftly links a tapestry of related topics: why Republicans won in '04, why they represent the working class, why working class people join the Army and why they hate intellectuals and even why some people have children. His thesis is basically that "Americans" (estadounidenses) are really all about wanting to be altruists, rather than all about ego and self-interest like the common wisdom and most economists say.
I was particularly struck, in a personal way, by this passage:
How many youthful idealists throughout history have managed to finally come to terms with a world based on selfishness and greed the moment they start a family? If one were to assume altruism were the primary human motivation, this would make perfect sense: The only way they can convince themselves to abandon their desire to do right by the world as a whole is to substitute an even more powerful desire to do right by their children.This is an extremely important and resonant idea to me, especially since I have never wanted and have resolved to never have children.
Graeber goes on to explain in detail how ego and self-interest come out of markets, which historically have always spawned organized religions that extol the opposite: selflessness, charity, and a belief that material things aren't important. This explains, he says, how the U.S. can be the most materialistic and market-driven country in the world but also one of the most religious. But in our society, the poor are now precluded from the sort of priveleged life that enables people to have altruistic careers like human rights lawyers or professional activists. And so they join the Army, which takes care of them and gives them something noble to believe in that they're doing, and makes their life an adventure (which is what i always say i'm after, too).
This is important stuff. I wish it were online. Find this issue and read this.
So, I had a really great and exciting and interesting weekend. Well, I guess the last item I'm going to mention is not technically great, but it makes for good conversation, at least.
Saturday I went hiking with some friends. We went to Mount Lemmon, in search of snow, and boy did we find some! We trekked up and down ridges and valleys in 6 inches of the cold white stuff, at first thrilled at the novelty of this in southern Arizona, and then some of the party started getting cold feet, literally, since they didn't bring the right footwear. I had my gortex hiking boots so i was fine. We must have hiked about 6 miles, and for about 4 hours. When we got off the trail the whole mountain was crawling with families and tourists looking for snow too. we were glad we had gotten there early. Afterward we descended back into town and bought dry socks and vietnamese food for lunch. There's nothing better than working up a big appetite hiking and then eating a whole bunch.
That night I went to Calexico again, at the Rialto once again, this time playing with 2 Mariachi bands (one from a local high school) and a bunch of other guest musicians. They were SO GREAT. It made me smile a lot. I have a newfound respect and love of mariachi music now, and it was cool, as the friend I went with said afterward, how Calexico basically tricked a bunch of hipsters [and, I might add, jaded ex-hipsters like myself] to watch mariachi music. right on, that's fine with me. Anyway, these groups were literally huge and at the end both mariachi bands and all the other musicans all were on stage at once doing the last few songs. There must have been about 40 people up there.... A cool thing is that I recorded the whole show with the r9. i'll have some excerpts up here soon.
Simultaneous with that was Jessica's going away party that night, which I couldn't bear to attend, so I was glad there was such a fun other activity to go to instead, and many friends who also were there with me. But the next day, sunday, we saw each other briefly, probably for the last time ever in our lives (part of me hopes so), or at least for a long time, but it was a good, positive closure with apologies and kind words exchanged. what a crazy 8 months it has been. But I'm doing better every single day, I am not kidding you.
That night was another awesome community dinner; i helped Maryada and Walt cook stuffed peppers and it was a lot of fun. then I went over to the Pan Left studio to do some digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital dubbing, and in the process I somehow hit my head on the wall and started bleeding and it hurt a lot and was scary. The gash on my head still looks really bad, worse than it feels or is. I thought about maybe that I would pass out and die there and the other panlefties would find my body there monday night when they came to the next meeting. But no, I'm fine. I think I'm going to tell people i got in a fight and someone broke a beer bottle on my head. pssst, don't tell anyone the truth....
Now it's definitely a monday and I have that frantic agitated monday mood, to-do lists exploding on me like IEDs on a Baghdad roadside. sigh....
Here's a test run of the Edirol R-9 from the day I got it. I was going to link to it before but something was weird with the site... anyway i just doodled around on guitar and sung a song by Cake that's been stuck in my head again a lot lately.... Sorry, indulge me.
This linkage also serves as a sneak preview of the new revamped, cms-driven version of Phonophilia, the site i set up like 6 years ago devoted to sound and field recordings.
I recorded a bunch of stuff over the last few days that i'll be posting soon. stay tuned.
Yesterday I received a present I ordered for myself on my birthday almost 2 weeks ago. It's a solid-state portable digital audio recorder, the Edirol R-09. I've been wanting something like this for a couple years now, something small i can take around and make high-quality recordings with - interviews, field recordings, music.
It's really a great device. Incredibly light, easy to use, very good sound quality, easy to get stuff off of it to the computer. I'm happy with it so far.
I say tool/toy in the title of this post because I feel a bit guilty about buying it. It wasnt cheap. But I hvaen't bought an electronic gizmo for awhile, and the deal is that I promise to myself i'm going to use it to make worthwhile stuff, media that matters, so to speak. So it will be a tool, whereas if i just used it for stupid crap or not at all, it would be a toy.
Cool, a graduate political science course at MIT is using a photo I took in Nogales of the border wall on their webpage about the class. The class is called Globalization, Migration, and International Relations.
As this goes to press (heh) I have 6 photos in my Flickr photostream that I put there directly from my mobile phone. Yes, I figured out how to send a photo in an email, to Flickr, and even include tags and title and description.
This is a really cool thing to be able to do, especially for indymedia-type purposes. I wonder if any techies have made a nice fuzzy indy version of this technology. I seem to dimly remember some mention of this kind of thing, maybe at the 2004 RNC or whatever, but I'm not really aware of it as a commonly used tool. Imagine witnessing some injustice on the street and immediately being able to put a photo of it up on the web without even going home to your computer. That would rock.
For the past week or so, since my brother told me about it, I've been starting to get into this super cool video blog called "The Show with Ze Frank." It's an amazingly entertaining daily videocast that consists of mostly just this guy, Ze, camera close-upped on his face, as he rants in this really witty but spastic, tweaker kind of way. like the the smartest funniest speedfreak you'll ever meet.
Friday's episode was a rare political one, mostly about what's been happening in Somalia. He has a great way of mixing the standard news take on something with his own little comedic asides.
I want to do a videoblog sort of like that. A continuation of my so-far still secret series "Meditations on Nature with Esteban Caliente" - it would be sort of mix of Ze Frank, Geraldo Rivera, Nick Broomfield, and.... myself, i guess. yeah.