Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Unknown Music of Birds

"The essence and the theoretical significance of the discovery of true animal (avian) music have been explained in detail and illustrated with numerous slowed down bird vocalizations in the author's book "The origin and the three realms of music - on the levels of pre-life, animal, and human existence", published in Hungarian in 1982 ... In making the choice of sound material for the record the author was guided not so much by the beauty of the vocalizations but by the beauty and the importance of the recognition of the Unknown..."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Local trees

Japanese Monster Trees

essay on the Trailer Park Boys

"The anti-social, indeed violent nature of TPB and its characters may be interpreted as a typically Canadian reaction to American cultural hegemony. It is not active, but rather, an indirect attempt to assert a unique cultural manifestation into the marketplace historically dominated by American corporatists and their generic products. Recently, Canada has given the undiplomatic finger to our American cousins through our relaxed marijuana laws, and the legalization of same-sex unions, despite repeated political pressure from Conservative government representatives. Let us observe that the themes of the show include habitual criminality, addiction and homosexuality, garnished with a vernacular of profanity; themes that brashly oppose all that are traditionally deemed appropriate for American audiences. It may be argued that the popularity of TPB both domestically and internationally negates the failure of the characters themselves. In essence, our industry has emerged triumphant in the marketplace while resting on the shoulders of hosers.

In addition to its inverted family value system, TPB has comparatively far less interest in the subversion of cinematic representation by corporate interests. All of the commodities consumed on-screen are deliberately obscured, signaling the show’s non-alignment with a policy of product placement exercised by many of its American contemporaries. There is a growing disparity between the lifestyle portrayed on television (i.e. Friends, The Sopranos, Sex and the City) and the lifestyle affordable to the average viewer. But TPB resists this trend; although the characters are consumers, their products of choice are chiefly illegal, or at least condemnable by U.S. production standards. In terms of the representation of bodily features, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles truly personify a more realistic physicality than the flawless skin, freshly cut hair and chiseled abdominal sections of Joey and Ross. TPB represents a departure from the culture of commodity fetish endorsed by mainstream television series, making it virtually the only counter-commodity on the dial..."

Thursday, April 10, 2008


"Key to this dynamic is that the public apparently continues to remain unimpressed by several inconvenient facts. One such fact is that there have been no al-Qaeda attacks whatsoever in the United States since 2001. A second is that no true al-Qaeda cell (or scarcely anybody who might even be deemed to have a “connection” to the diabolical group) has been unearthed in this country. A third is that the homegrown “plotters” who have been apprehended, while perhaps potentially somewhat dangerous at least in a few cases, have mostly been either flaky or almost absurdly incompetent.

Beyond these facts are a few comparisons that ought to arrest attention. One is that the total number of people killed worldwide by genuine al-Qaeda types and assorted wannabes outside of war zones since 9/11 averages about 300 per year. That is certainly 300 a year too many, but that number is smaller than the yearly number of bathtub drownings in the United States. Moreover, unless the terrorists are able somehow massively to increase their capacities, the likelihood that a person living outside a war zone will perish at the hands of an international terrorist over an eighty-year period is about one in 80,000. By comparison, an American’s chance of dying in an auto accident over the same time interval is one in eighty.

Despite these facts, polls since 2001 do not demonstrate all that much of a decline in the percentage of the American public anticipating another terrorist attack, or expressing fear that they themselves might become a victim of it. The public has chosen to wallow in a false sense of insecurity, and it apparently plans to keep on doing so. Accordingly, it will presumably continue to demand that its leaders defer to its insecurities, and will uncritically approve as huge amounts of money are shelled out in a quixotic and mostly symbolic effort to assuage those insecurities..."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

don't miss your chance to grab the immortal 1986 EP Against the Glass by Expo-marring Slow, a steaming slab of snotty postpunk that gives a glimpse of what grunge might have sounded like if it had come from Vancouver...

"Slow are most famous for a controversial incident which both marred the Expo 86 festivities and effectively ended the band's career. On the opening night of the Festival of Independent Recording Artists, several people who were not attending the concert wandered into the pavilion, witnessed the band's outrageous live show, and rushed out to complain to Expo management. The officials turned off the power, ending the band's set. Anselmi expressed his displeasure by mooning the audience, and Hamm quickly followed suit, also exposing himself frontally.

The band were detained by the Vancouver police, who considered charging them with indecent exposure. Expo officials initially cancelled the evening's concert, citing security concerns.

Some of the fans in attendance got onstage and refused to leave the venue, others began to riot, and yet another group stormed BCTV's onsite studios, where they protested the concert's cancellation so loudly and persistently that the station had to pull its 11:00 p.m. newscast.

The following day, Expo announced the cancellation of the whole concert festival..."

terrific Ange Mlinko on National Poetry Month...

"...elitism is a laughable charge to levy against an art that doesn't require tickets or a premium cable subscription..."

Jacques Tourneur's not-seen-by-me location shot (by Lucien Ballard!) Berlin Express with Robert Ryan & Merle Oberon, on at 1930hrs, part of TCM's evening of train movies...

relevant chapter from Chris Fujiwara's Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

a lovely memoir of Jonathan Williams in England...

"As the car pulled off I felt that the end of some essential organ in my body had been attached to their bumper and was slowly, smoothly unspooling. I didn’t know who I was, nor where; with what was left to wave goodbye or with what had been drawn out, away, and gathered up, like wool, by what had happened. Thirty-six hours later, having made up my mind that I could never just go on with my life as it was, which now seemed as false and hollow as I’d become, I was on the road for Dentdale..."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Police State UK--Was it like this for the Irish?

"Through a myriad other routes Britain attempts to evade internationally recognised legal restraints. Several years ago Tony Blair attempted to deport an Egyptian human rights lawyer who had been the victim of truly terrible torture in his own country: Blair argued that an assurance from Egypt of the man’s safety would suffice. Unusually, during a court challenge to the legality of his detention, private memoranda between Blair and the Home Office were made public. Across a note from the Home Office expressing concern that even hard assurances given by Egypt were unlikely to provide real protection against torture and execution, Blair had scribbled: ‘Get them back.’ Beside the passage about the assurances he wrote: ‘This is a bit much. Why do we need all these things?’ The man succeeded in his court challenge, but today, on the basis of secret information provided by Egypt, he is the subject of a UN Assets Freezing Order managed by the Treasury. He has no assets, no income and no work, and can be given neither money nor ‘benefit’ without a licence. ‘Benefit’ includes eating the meals his wife cooks. She requires a licence to cook them, and is obliged to account for every penny spent by the household. She speaks little English and is disabled, so is compelled to pass the obligation onto their children, who have to submit monthly accounts to the Treasury of every apple bought from the market, every bus fare to school. Failure to do so constitutes a criminal and imprisonable offence. A few weeks ago in the House of Lords, Lord Hoffman expressed horror at ‘the meanness and squalor’ of a regime ‘that monitored who had what for breakfast’. The number of such cases now multiplies daily. They have nothing at all to do with national security, they only succeed, as they are intended to, in sapping morale; they have everything to do with reinforcing the growing belief of the suspect community that it is expected to eradicate its opinions, its identity and many of the core precepts of its religion..."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Trabant Man

"A Derbyshire man who has spent almost 20 years collecting East German Trabant cars has lost his final appeal against an order to remove them...

...Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Keene said: "The reality here is that he was, to a large extent, the author of his own misfortune."

farewell Charlton Heston--the last actor who could play iconic figures without the need for cheap irony--try and think of any actor currently working who could do Moses, El Cid & the last man on earth, twice...