31 August 2010

Some Dog Days Listening

Just discovered a new blog, Mixtured, in fact it's the first post: Mix #1 Pure Power Pop for Now People. Twenty songs picked by 20 different people, including musician Adam Schmitt and music writer John M. Borack and fellow blogger Curty Ray. Even a comment by yours truly.

Check it out. Cool pop songs for hot dog days.

And if that's not enough, here's some more for your listening pleasure:

Cotton Mather - Camp Hill Rail Operator
Found at abmp3 search engine

Adam Daniel - Hershake
Found at abmp3 search engine

The Fletcher Pratt - Track 1
Found at abmp3 search engine

29 August 2010

Foggy Notion

Yesterday would've been the 68th birthday of Sterling Morrison ex and always of the Velvet Underground if tomorrow weren't the 15th anniversary of his passing. If you drew a straight line from Bo Diddley to The Edge, it would necessarily pass through SM's work with VU.

The following song's a tribute to Sterling who, after an academic career in Medieval/Renaissance lit decided to become a tugboat captain. Interesting life.

UPDATE: For example:


Rumor has it there are other birthdays around—some even with fit tribute.

25 August 2010

Double Whammy

Harry Shearer's new project, The Big Uneasy, reminds us of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as we approach the fifth anniversary of that devastating storm—and the disastrous human-caused atrocities that followed. And weren't there reports that armed Blackwater mercenaries were in there as well? I wonder if we'll ever get to the bottom of this.

With respect to the Gulf Oil spill, did you see this? Apparently, petroleum eating microbes have been eating up the oil plumes floating around out there in the Gulf. Hmmm. Where had I heard that before? I can only hope the reporting is accurate. Still, it's too early to gauge the consequences of this human-caused disaster.


Please vote in the poll "America is..." in the right margin. Thanks to those who've already cast theirs.

22 August 2010


New video/song from Clinic: "I'm Aware"


Did you see this? A group of students and programmers from Columbia Engineering, NYU, and Princeton used the Wikileaks data to create the following visualization of war-like activity in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2009.
The intensity of the heatmap represents the number of events logged. The color range is from 0 to 60+ events over a one-month window. We cap the color range at 60 events so that low intensity activity involving just a handful of events can be seen — in lots of cases there are many more than 60 events in one particular region. The heatmap is constructed for every day in the period from 2004-2009, and the movie runs at 10 days per second.

The orange lines represent the major roads in Afghanistan, and the black outlines are the individual administrative regions.

Visualisation of Activity in Afghanistan using the Wikileaks data from Mike Dewar on Vimeo.


Saw these guys, The Church, in concert this summer. Didn't think I would enjoy them without the Rickenbacker, but they put on an amazing show—30 years worth of songs and surprisingly proficient musicianship. Here's Steve Kilbey's new web site.


Don't forget to vote in the poll in the right sidebar: America Is...

21 August 2010

Young Hare

Don't forget to vote (see sidebar and previous post). It's your patriotic duty.

19 August 2010

America Is... [Poll]

Here's an old joke a propos of nothing: A man runs into his psychoanalyst's office screaming, "I'm a wigwam. I'm a teepee. I'm a wigwam. I'm a teepee." The doctor, though briefly taken aback, calmly tells the man, "It's okay. Take it easy. Lie down. You're just two tents."

Lately I'm feeling whipsawed kind of like the man in the joke. Seems like all I'm hearing these days is "America's a third world nation. America's an empire. America's a third world nation. America's an empire. "

Webnewspreneur, wannabedigimogul, and tireless self-promoter Arianna Huffington has a new book coming out claiming that the U.S. is becoming a third world nation because its middle class is becoming extinct: Third World America. But you wouldn't know it from looking at her vast site.

Others take the seemingly opposite view, to wit that America is an empire:
"The inordinate power of the United States disturbs people on the American left and excites people on the American right. Liberals are uncomfortable with the notion of an American empire because they are uneasy with the fact that America has so much power, especially military power. They would prefer that America simply be part of the community of nations, perhaps a first among equals but an equal nevertheless, and use its power to further human welfare. Conservatives, on the other hand, are jubilant that America is finally breaking out of multilateral strictures and is unilaterally asserting its imperial prerogatives abroad. For them, national self-interest, enforced by military supremacy, should be the guiding principle of U.S. policy."
Of course, this is nothing new.

What's a boy to think? Does it have to be either/or?

Let me know what you think. Take the poll on my sidebar. You can make multiple choices.

You have until the end of August, so vote early and often!

Remember, this is not a scientific poll; so, please, no wagering.

18 August 2010

Mission Accomplished: A Man Ahead of His Time

He was right. Son of a bitch was a prophet. Glorious day (or it's about fuckin' time).

(Now let's get the rest of them, some 50,000 so-called 'non-combat' troops, out of there. And those guys in Afghanistan, too.)

Speaking of Detritus

Got an extra million lying around? You could be the proud owner of this. As described on eBay: "This is the toilet that was personally owned AND used by J.D. Salinger for many years! It sat in his home in Cornish, New Hampshire, and was installed in the 'new wing' of his house.

When he died, his wife inherited all of his manuscripts with plans to eventually release some of them! Who knows how many of these stories were thought up and written while Salinger sat on this throne!"

Apparently, for $1 million you have to supply your own seat. Bummer.


Anecdote: Swear to god this is true: When we bought our first apartment in Manhattan, we had three cats. It was so small and their boxes smelled awful. We taught two of them to use the toilet like the above pic—there are kits out there! It wasn't 100% successful, but we didn't have to clean out the boxes as much. They never learned to flush, though.


Can we talk about global warming now? I mean, I know that a winter snowstorm or two in the I-95 corridor means it's all a hoax, but still... Seriously, a tutorial on the proper uses of inductive reasoning seems to be in order here.

This has been the hottest summer ever here in the ATL. You might not believe it, but because we're at about 1000 ft elevation, we usually don't have many 95°+ days of a normal summer here. Low-lying areas—below what we call the 'gnat line'—are a different matter altogether. This year, I would wager, we've had more than 40—beginning in May. (Of course, this calls for an essay on the absolute centrality of (1) refrigeration and ice, and (2) air conditioning in the development of the Sunny South.)


Are we a nation of loners?

"You want a social life, with friends.
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What’s true
Is of these three you may have two." Kenneth Koch

I often wonder what Facebook has done to the notion of 'friend'.

Here's an anecdote: When Wisdaughter recently got her college roommate assignment, she decided to "Facebook stalk" her—i.e., find out a little about her. To her shock and dismay, the roommates did not have a Facebook page. "Daddy, I'm worried," she said. "There must be something wrong with her." The funny thing is: I had the same thought. That generation is totally tied into the social networking thing in a way most of us just don't get. Even I recognize that.


Related: Email and wristwatches: relics of a recent past?

Anecdote: On our recent trip to BVI, I sat on the last row of the plane with my kids. Somehow Wisdoc managed to get a seat farther up. They were completely agog when I told them about how, at the time of my first international flight (to Mexico) just after college graduation, you could smoke cigarettes in the back of the airplane after takeoff. They thought I was lying. "What about your clothes? Didn't you smell like smoke when you got off?" Duh.

Then I told them about how at my high school (on Tobacco Road in NC, naturally) there were not one but two separate smoking areas where over-16 boys (usually) could smoke cigarettes at lunch and between classes. They looked at me like they used to look at the fossils at the Natural History Museum and went back to watching 'The Office' on their iPod touches.


Yesterday I went to an osteopath. I threw my back out while working out several months ago. My hip and lower back were misaligned. He righted me pretty well the first time. This was a follow-up visit to tweak the last 10% stiffness. He performed what I come to find out is "craniosacral therapy". Not sure, as a rationalist and a sceptic, I fully buy in to its validity w/r/t to all it claims to do and the way it claims to do it, but I walked out of there feeling great—and no longer injured and misaligned.

Here's the deal: the theory is that somehow by adjusting the skull in relation to the brain it releases either the body's natural endorphins or cannabinoids. Now I'm a runner, so I know from endorphins, and what I felt after it was over was not like any endorphin rush I've ever had. That's similar to heroin. I felt completely stoned: like I was smoking weed or tripping: euphoric, slightly disoriented, mellow, with a taint of paranoia (mental alertness). I can't say I've had that feeling for decades. No more 10%.

I want to find out more about how those natural cannabinoids work!


I had planned before I went to sleep late last night ('cause I saw it on my new iPod Touch that the fam gave me for my birthday) to blog about this, but this morning I saw that BDR has it too—so credit for the scoop. Call it serendipity. Early to rise, etc., etc.

If I read the data correctly, it only shows the changes in the percentages of use; it does not show increases in the actual totals. That is to say, there may in fact be more traffic on the "World Wide Web" now than in 1990, but the proportion of that traffic to other Web functions is considerably less now.

Still, I guess that makes this poor little blog what it's really always been: just another piece of cultural litter(-acy).



15 August 2010

Witt and Wisdom

“I believe that one of the things Christianity says is that sound doctrines are all useless. That you have to change your life. (Or the direction or your life)

It says that wisdom is all cold; and that you can no more use it for setting your life to rights than you can forge iron when it is cold.

The point is that a sound doctrine need not take hold of you; you can follow it as you would a doctor’s prescription. – But here you need something to move you and turn you in a new direction. – (I.e. this is how I understand it.) Once you have been turned round, you must stay turned round.

Wisdom is passionless. But faith by contrast is what Kierkegaard calls a passion.

Religion is, as it were, the calm bottom of the sea at its deepest point, which remains calm however high the waves on the surface may be.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value


"If a person tells me he has been to the worst places I have no reason to judge him; but if he tells me it was his superior wisdom that enabled him to go there, then I know he is a fraud." Conversation with Rush Rhees


'Wisdom is grey.' Life, on the other hand, and religion are full of color."  Culture and Value.


"Wisdom is something I never would expect from Freud. Cleverness, certainly; but not wisdom" (Lectures and Conversations, p. 41).


"It seems to me that, in every culture, I come across a chapter headed 'Wisdom.' And then I know exactly what is going to follow: 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'" Conversation with Rush Rhees

12 August 2010

Speaking of Serendipity

I just picked up my copy of the latest The New Yorker to find an article by Tad Friend in the 'Downtown Chronicles' section entitled: "Sleeping With Weapons: Why did John Lurie disappear?"

Was it the zeit or the geist that led me to post all those "Fishing With John" shows the last couple of weeks?

The entire article is behind the mag's paywall, but here's the abstract.

"The protracted duet has become a kind of living performance piece, but neither man is able to see it as art: Perry because he views himself solely as a painter, and Lurie because he never before associated art with a fear of death."

Hey, if Lurie had "never before associated art with a fear of death," maybe he might've benefitted from reading a few of my Ur-story theme posts? Particularly the earlier pieces (scroll down, John; start with Gilgamesh and work your way forward).

Some Pre-Punk Cultural Detritus

Because it's my birthday and I'm feeling self-indulgent (-pity?), I want to play DJ some more. Here's a set of the kind of stuff we listened to so as to avoid the Scylla of "prog" and the Charybdis of disco, the hammer of the Osmonds and the anvil of the Southern "boogieocracy", while we were waiting for punk[?] and hoping not to get drafted. Some music in the Seventies didn't completely suck (no Big Star or Motown in this set). Enjoy.

11 August 2010

The Life Aquatic

Diving was wonderful. First dive, the strap on my 24 year old mask broke, and I had to make a 45 ft ascent from the bottom without. No panic. No worries. Nice 'n easy. Exhale all the way; follow your slowest bubble up. Borrowed a mask from the boat; great dive. Dove two great wrecks, the RMS Rhone and the Chikuzen. Saw two loggerhead turtles mating off Ginger Island, BVI. Not sure whether I should submit a report to National Geographic or something. Naturalists don't really understand when and where these guys mate—though I could be mistaken. We were all cheering for there to be more loggerheads. There's nothing quite like seeing your teenagers under 80 feet of seawater playing around with a giant sting ray (10+ feet) or chasing after toothy, grinning barracuda.

On my return I found this article about the 15 most overrated contemporary American authors. Here's the list: William T. Vollmann, Amy Tan, John Ashberry, Mary Oliver, Helen Vendler, Antonya Nelson, Jorie Graham, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Louise Gluck, Michael Cunningham, Billy Collins, and Michiko Kakutani.

I've come up with an idea for a new serial post. Some of you may recall my series entitled "Thyraphobia" which could have been subtitled 'Fear as Metaphor.' The new series will be titled "Fear of Metaphor." Subtitle is not 'Why I Am Not a Poet,' but could be. Look for it come fall.

Here in the ATL, public schools started back on Monday. College kids start reporting this week and next. How messed up is that? (Course, they get midterms done before Christmas and get out before Memorial Day.)

I feel like playing DJ. Enjoy.

[I know it's a cover, but Mouse authorized it.]

Paul Westerberg - AAA
Found at abmp3 search engine