Archive for the 'new media' Category


Visual Images without the Visuals – 1a – Summer Camp, maybe 10 years ago

For the longest time it was the only place in the world where I always knew the exact location of the Big Dipper. As an awkward pre-teen, and teen, I spent at least one Saturday night there a summer. The incline of the hill just the perfect angle for stargazing. As I got older I could still spot it, to the bottom left, just above the ‘Boys’ bathroom, standing now instead of laying down. Generally speaking, they were always the same thing. The same ironic nostalgia, nothing current, that wasn’t the point. Eventually the clothes grew as ridiculous and gaudy as the music. Dressing up as a competition. Who can wear more differing prints? More neon? More costume jewelry? More sunglasses at night? More androgyny?

A dark and muggy night like so many others. The colored ropes and Christmas lights blazing. Tiki torches. Not taking requests. Before the switch to Ipods. For the life of me I can’t remember the song that came on before it. Of the cordoned off and encircled space, the least available could be found directly in front of the DJ Booth. A volleyball court, a full size basketball court, the perfectly slanted hill in between, and 3 by 12 feet of dried out and browning grass on the other side of both. The first electronic notes hit and there is no mass convergence inspired by something so out of character. This isn’t Bon Jovi or the Spice Girls. The crowd slowly gets its bearings, as certain people start to recognize what’s happening. It’s the kind of music that makes you lose your job as DJ. Radiohead. The early 2000s uniter, to some. The jam kids and the trustafarians, the punks, the hip-hop kids, the suburban and oblivious, they all collectively seem to have no problem with the band still. Perhaps because they were mislabeled for years as the next Pink Floyd. It’s starting to get really dark now. The crowd descends into the 3 by 12 space of former grass, slowly but en mass, and they don’t dance. They don’t stand still. They don’t mosh or pogo. There is no skanking or lip synching or air-synth jamming. The gathering crowd simply ceases to be single entities. Moving as a whole, up and down, to the constant electronic drum beat. ‘WHO’S IN BUNKER, WHO’S IN BUNKER.” The outfits, the rest of the nights music, including the perpetual last dance ‘American Pie,’ where your friends are, where your girl went, it doesn’t matter. No one lacking control of their facilities, most underage. A strange song for some standards. And yet, it inspires a reaction on a level never seen since. 5 minutes in the woods. Hours until the nearest city. Dial-up only internet. Piles of CDs in binders supplying the music, a stereo borrowed from a low wattage radio station.


Visual Images without the Visuals – 1 – Summer Camp, maybe 14 years ago

A lanky man in a dark vest with a name tag walking in circles, face shrouded in cloudy Coke bottle thick glasses. He’s holding a briefcase. As we get closer, collectively the group notices that that he is whispering to himself, muttering quickly and methodically, “I like cheese.” It’s hard to get close to him, nothing seems to stop him from walking in circles, not even the pole of a nearby soccer goal. It’s as if he is on some sort of premeditated route. He collides with the goal post so believably that most of the group jumps back in fear and concern. When we finally encircle him, holding hands as is the custom, he motions for us all to sit down. We do, and he sits as well, opening his briefcase in a swift motion. In the movies, when some sort of deal goes down, and large amounts of money are exchanged it usually lines a briefcase in stacks of bills. The briefcase is lined in the same way, with individually wrapped slices of American Cheese. My counselor dutifully takes off his shoes, as he is motioned to do without words, his socks as well, and then, even more methodically than the circles the man unwraps the slices of cheese and shoves them between the toes of my counselor.  Shoes and socks go back on quickly, without any sort of clean up, so as not to lose any time. All of this is for the lanky bespecteled man’s signature, on a pre-approved sheet of paper.


The Other Side of the Mirror – 1963,64,65


On Sadness and The Brutal Rationality of the Modern Era

Last night I had trouble sleeping. After reading a bit of The Corrections and drifting off (go figure!), something, I don’t know what, shocked me awake and after that I was fully alert, though a little delirious. Listlessly scrolling through my netflix queue, I finally decided to watchIn The Realms of the Unreal, a documentary about Henry Darger,  one of the United States’ best known “outsider artists” and the author of the longest known single piece of writing in existence, standing at 15,000 pages.

In the Realms of the Unreal

How did he manage to write 15,000 pages and a sequel of 8,000 more? Darger lived an especially sad life and these stories were probably his escape–let the body work while the mind flees. As for his story: Henry’s sister was given up for adoption after his mother died in childbirth and for some years following he lived with his father who many speculate was probably a sad-sack a-hole who could barely take care of himself, never mind his son. He was then sent from public school to a hospital for the mentally “feeble.” After escaping from a state work farm requiring hard labor for long hours, he walked a few hundred miles back to Chicago, where he settled at age 17. He worked as a menial laborer for the rest of his life, most often living alone–winding gauze, washing dishes, standing and repeating the same blunting tasks for 14 hours a day.

In short, he had a classically dour, harsh, and storybook-cruel life. What I find the most fascinating is that his story was based around Chicago, which brings it into consonance with many of the other stories I’ve been reading lately: The Devil in the White City and Jimmy Corrigan. All three of these stories, in one way or another, touch on the story of an outsider (sad-sack or serial killer) standing on the edge of the future in the midwest, watching the 20th century gather steam.

The Devil in the White City explores the stunning architectural grandeur of the Chicago World’s Fair as parallel to the birth of a new american type: the serial killer. The spatial mastery of man is forced into comparison with an increasing divide between action and empathy as exemplified in the psychopath. Jimmy Corrigan is also set against the backdrop of Chicago’s World’s Fair. Both stories feature fatherless losers, men born into a childhood they could not navigate emotionally and thus could never quite leave.

Now, in my own imaginary, Chicago and the rest of the midwest stand as a symbol of the promise of modernity’s once-future that has since become the melancholy of the now-past and forever-present. It is a place of longing and loneliness, and to risk sounding cliche, it results from something brutal and monstrous in the grandeur of modernity. The visual style of Jimmy Corrigan is very evocative of this–it features small, simply-drawn figures standing in the foreground of large, complex public architecture. In fact, these figures are not so far off from those that director Jessica Yu uses to fill in the earlier portions of Darger’s story in her documentary–blueprints of institutions and rows after rows of hospital beds. It would seem that Darger’s stories were his Wonderland crafted in response to a world designed by Jeremy Bentham.

I think these stories have such resonance with us from where we stand because they register the psychic shock delivered by modern technology in the 20th century’s start, a shock we are still feeling as we continue to find our emotional lives steamrolled in new ways by the terse, abstract rationality of modern life. It is, for many intents and purposes, the record of struggles particular to our time.

They all work so well, measure this punch so smartly and delicately because in the era they are documenting, the punch is still in its infancy. Like Tacita Dean’s photographs of the closing Kodak factory, a dominant paradigm (whether an era, a form, a medium, or an idea) would seem to be at its most profoundly insightful and expressive when it is recording its own death, its own limits in the face of the neverending onrush of novelty. Here we have sorrowful representatives old era recording its death in the face of a technical and rational revolution.

Darger’s story hits so close to home, I believe, because it is about the subjugation of modern life to the unexpected results of our own technological mastery. So is The Devil in the White City. So is Jimmy Corrigan. It’s about the then-new emotional and psychic bruises left by the rational/emotional divide of modern progress. Which are, of course, bruises that we keep giving ourselves, and with which we continue to struggle.


Response: The Top 5 Reasons Dan Shaughnessy is a Moron

Spring is nearly upon us! The Grapefruit league is beginning. The Red Sox have finished their annual trouncings of the local college teams, so it’s time to bring on the real competition. But wait, there might be some trouble ahead this year… that all depends on who you ask. If your source is Dan Shaughnessy I am concerned.

It’s one thing to write an anonymous comment to an article posted on the Boston Globe website, joining the parade of uneducated and uniformed negativity. It’s another thing to be arguably the most established Red Sox writer, on a national website, writing an article that tries to shoot the team’s entire season in the foot before it begins.


So let’s break this down:

1) Jason Bay is an old streaky hitter, who does not field well, and has some major health questions. The Mets overpaid him, drastically. Mr. Shaughnessy please get over your sour grapes about the Red Sox not wanting to do the same. Is he a subpar athlete? A bad baseball player? Of course not, I certainly enjoyed him while he was on the Sox. But, is he worth the money that the Mets threw at him? Of Course not. His services were simply not worth his demands. The way the free agent market is set up this happens all the time. Get over it.

2) Definitively stating that Jacoby Ellsbury will become a drastically worse player by shifting to left field, and that Josh Beckett is in his final season with the Red Sox, has no factual basis whatsoever. Why would the Red Sox let their most dominant pitcher since the prime of Schilling walk? Because they paid the market value for the best available starter? That seems like highly sound logic to me… As for Ellsbury he is a young player with a massive upside. Odds are very good, baring serious injury, that he will steal 70 or more bases, that he will continue to perform in the field, and will become more confident at the plate with a 3rd full season of experience, all of this still occurring regardless of where he stands in the field.

3) Ragging on David Ortiz is like shooting fish in a barrel. He’s old, has less protection in the lineup than he once did, should not be paid the money he’s currently receiving, and tested positive for steroids 7 years ago. These are the facts of the situation. I don’t really know how restating them adds anything to the article. Everyone who knows anything about the Red Sox knows these things, why beat a dead horse? The other facts of the situation, that Mr. Shaughnessy decides to disregard, are that Ortiz will hit home runs. He won’t be reliable at the plate, but he will hit an above average amount of home runs.  After complaining about the fact that the free agent acquisitions this offseason were focused on defense, and claiming that “Historically, the Sox have won games with a lot of home runs,” it seems like a major oversight to forget the close to 30 home runs Ortiz will probably hit this season. Will he suddenly cease to hit home runs because you don’t like him anymore Mr. Shaughnessy?

4) Mike Lowell WILL NOT PLAY A GAME FOR THE RED SOX THIS SEASON!!! You heard it hear first folks…

5) This article completely forgets anything positive about what the Red Sox have done going into this season. How about the fact that they have arguably the best front three starters in baseball?  The competition, the Yankees or Angels for example, have nothing close to the combined dominance of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey. How about the fact that the Red Sox actively pursued, and got, all of the best free agent players for the positions that needed filling? I realize that Scutaro is not Ripken, and Beltre is not A-rod, Cameron is not Griffey in his prime, and Lackey is not Nolan Ryan, but, three out of  four are drastic improvements over the people they replaced. The defense on the left side of the infield last season was embarrassing at best, costing a lot of hits and runs, and let’s not even discuss Penny or Smoltz.

The real moral of the story here folks is that this team will win a lot of games. I would be shocked if they won less than 90. They will probably go to the playoffs, and they will probably do well there. If there are problems during the season, they will be fixed by the trading deadline. Odds are good that more than one Gold Glove will be won by this team. Calm down a little bit Mr. Shaughnessy, Red Sox nation, we’re fielding a great team and we have a great farm system. It’s not like we’re the Pirates.


$96.25 (before shipping) head to toe


A diagram for a music of the spheres.

///// In 3 (three) parts – making the universe sonorous, listening to space.


Part 1 – The movement of artistic sonic production from structured musical works toward sonic landscapes.

Aurora Musicalis – Brian Eno

An interview with Art Forum in which Brian Eno speaks about his invention of Ambient music and the making of sounds in the form of a landscape rather than the form of a musical piece.

Important quote

* “Classical music works around a body of “refined” sounds — sounds that are separate from the sounds of the world, pure and musical. There is a sharp distinction between “music” and “noise,” just as there is a distinction between the musician and the audience. I like blurring those distinctions — I like to work with all the complex sounds on the way out to the horizon, to pure noise, like the hum of London. If you sit in Hyde Park just far enough away from the traffic so that you don’t perceive any of its specific details, you just hear the average of the whole thing. And it’s such a beautiful sound.”


Part 2 – On the synaesthetic expressiveness of analog recording technologies.

Primal Sound – Rilke

A piece written by Rainer Maria Rilke on the potential of  recording logic to produce sound where there was none rather than re-produce it. (Also touched upon about a year ago here)

Important Quote

“What is it that repeatedly presents itself to my mind? It is this: The coronal suture of the skull (this would first have to be investigated) has–let us assume–a certain similarity to the closely wavy line which the needle of a phonograph engraves on the receiving, rotating cylinder of the apparatus. What if one changed the needle and directed it on its return journey along a tracing which was not derived from the graphic translation of a sound, but existed of itself naturally–well: to put it plainly, along the coronal suture, for example. What would happen?”


Part 3 – On making the planets sonorous.

NASA’s “Symphonies of the Planets”

Voyager recordings of the electromagnetic transmissions of various planets. Recorded, converted into sound and released. (Now out of print.)



celebrities whose names are also sentences:

Tom Waits

Pete Rose

Rosa Parks

Mark Spitz

Jeremy Irons

Jeff/Beau/Lloyd/Nash Bridges

Karl Marx or any of the Brothers

Ben Folds

Lester Bangs

Barry Bonds

Wesley Snipes

Britney Spears

Julia Stiles

Leann Rimes

Edward/George/Ken Burns

Bill Withers

Timothy Leary

Drew/Jim Carey

Cary Grant (which works both ways)


Saturday Finds

Since I received a  this tie bar for my birthday, I have become really into wearing ties again. Everday, Monday through Friday, I wear a tie.

Last Saturday, while waiting for a spot at the local Salon, Ms. L and I ended up in what would be descirbed in the States as a ‘Junk Shop,’ or perhaps on a good day an ‘antiques store.’ Buried deep down in a pile of other unfortunately loud ties I found these three gems:

Photo 104

To the left we have Maroon with yellow shields of some sort, in the middle a classic 50s stragight across the bottom stunner. Which as a student told me last week while wearing another tie of similar cut, is a ‘cravata without a punta.’ Hopefully Ms. L can fix my non point nice an straightly un-frayed.  Finally to the right we have the real jewel of the haul, the classic Navy/Bright Yellow/Hunter/Canary Red repp tie. Upon turning it over I noticed this (excuse the mirror image text, and generally bad photography from my built in camera):

Photo 105

The showing part of the white tag here reads ‘Canton School.’ Turn the tag over and follow the text around, the whole thing reads ‘Canton High School B.’ As in, if you go to Canton High School, which coincidentally was the name of the High School I attended, you have two options to wear with your school uniform, tie option A, and tie option B. Amazing. And only five Euro each.


ghost island style icon: john lydon

Dick Clark at his finest.

required viewing

(more required viewing – watch both parts)

Tom Snyder at his prickliest.

It’s not just that he’s an unimaginable dick, because he was certainly not the first or the last. It’s that he somehow managed to weasel his way into the system in spite of that, working every possible angle for his ‘communications company’. Can you possibly imagine 10 minutes of music like that on television today? A shambling Tommy Bahama reject nowhere near the microphone.  Or how about ten minutes of music in general? What really does it are the next two clips, almost 12 minutes of unimaginable awkwardness. I’ve seen uncomfortable interviews before, Orly Taitz comes to mind, but these questionings are always weird and stilted because the people being interviewed have nothing of substance to say.  Forget about ‘Rotten,’ Mr Lydon sets a different standard. I love his notions of an even ground between fan and audience.

December 2020