Histriomastix: Art for Critic's Sake:
The play “does not possess the penetrating truth or revelatory originality of a fully achieved work of art.” Really? So…it’s not art? Is it at least a fully achieved piece of entertainment? What is the difference? If, in 50 years, no one has written a large-scale family drama that is better than A:OC, will it be upgraded to the ranks of fully-achieved art (FAWA)? Is Isherwood speaking as a newspaper reviewer of 2007 or a cultural commissar from the distant future? Where does he park his time machine?
I wonder how often Isherwood’s Tony-named colleagues—Scott and Tommasini—review a new movie or symphony and go out of their way to assure the reader: Well it’s no Citizen Kane or Beethoven’s Ninth, but pretty good! Do reviewers in other fields even bother with this sort of hierarchizing humbug? What proprietary, red-velvet-rope-fondling arrogance. What laughable, bean-counting, pompous equivocation. Anton Such antique snobbery is beneath even pre-ratatouille-munching Anton Ego (and I say that as a Neo-Snob). In closing: If you ever catch me issuing such vapid, flatulent dicti, kick me in my fat ass.
Hilarious and unfortunate mis-caption for my friend Rachel.
Burning Man Set on Fire Early Due To Arson | Laughing Squid:
We could give a fuck less what you all think of us for doing this. Most of you are newbies who have been drawn in by the semi-religious nature of the event, or maybe just the easy drugs and easier sex. You have nothing to offer the event other than your fucking money and obedience. You spend the rest of your lives in mortal fear of everything that insurance companies tell you to fear, and pretend that you’re free and clear because you spend four days at a desert bacchanal where spinelessness is not only encouraged but genetically replicated for implementation in successive generations. In short, you are the swine of which Thompson spoke. Get over yourselves.
Some of us live quite well without fear. Doing so requires the ultimate in what Burning Man used to represent: personal responsibility and individual liberty. That’s all been lost in the last decade of Burning Man’s history. Consider this operation a history lesson that was desperately needed.
Arthur Miller - Theater - New York Times:
As described in Suzanna Andrews’s 5,000-word article, Arthur Miller, who died in February 2005, and his third wife, the photographer Inge Morath, had a son born with Down syndrome in 1966. Soon after, they made the painful decision to put the child, Miller’s youngest, in an institution for the mentally retarded before Miller essentially cut him out of his life.
Ms. Andrews describes in detail how Miller rarely, if ever, accompanied his wife on weekly visits to see Daniel, almost never mentioned him to shocked friends and didn’t mention him in his memoir, “Timebends.”
The picture that emerges is of a father in denial and a son who has moved on to live a happy life without him. “Miller excised a central character who didn’t fit the plot of his life as he wanted it,” Ms. Andrews writes.
America's Most Secret Agency:
Under pressure from the White House, Congress recently gave the National Security Agency unprecedented powers to conduct warrantless surveillance. How powerful is the NSA?
Aspen Daily News | Aspen, Colorado:
As the founder of his own acting ensemble and producer/director/lead actor of its current production, Kent Hudson Reed has given blood, sweat and tears for his craft. But never quite like yesterday during an outdoor performance of "Julius Caesar" on Galena Plaza.
During the climactic third act of the Shakespeare play, in which members of the Roman Senate stab Caesar, some in the estimated 150-person audience noticed Reed's khaki pants were rapidly turning crimson.
"I thought he had a fake blood packet that went off too soon in his pocket," said audience member Scott MacCracken. "They had just murdered Caesar, and his right pant leg was turning red."
"It was a lot of blood," said Dorene Herzog, who was taking in the free performance on a visit to Aspen from Houston, Texas. "I mean a lot, lot of blood."
Reed, who was playing Brutus, had accidentally stabbed himself in the leg.
Jean-Michele's song for the countryside of Holland:
Writing from Prague, where through the wonder of powerline ethernet even ancient buildings from the 14th century can have broadband internet.
This is the Astronomical Clock in the Old Square--it's about 40 feet from the hotel we're staying in, in the heart of the Old Town.
This is the Charles Bridge, which we last walked on ten years ago--it's as gorgeous as I remembered it, though in August it's more crowded and busy at midday. At late night and early morning it looks just as I remember it did.
We've located our favorite restaurant, where we had one of the best meals of our lives a decade ago, and it was like our own dream quest--we didn't know the name or location, but wandered the back streets until Jean-Michele picked up a whisper of memory, and then I added my two cents, and when we walked up the owner was there, just like ten years ago.
We're eating there this evening.
What a fantastic closing show--thanks to everyone at Noorderzon for making it happen so incredibly well.
We're off to Prague, where the internet may be spotty, so posts may become haphazard or completely absent. I haven't been in ten years, and I'm excited to see the city again.
Tonight is our last night at the Noorderzon Festival in the Netherlands--it's been a marvelous adventure here. It's a magical festival--a full-on arts celebration that hasn't lost its popular touch. Artists mingle with everybody, installations are going up everywhere in friendly chaos, there are no beer gardens because you can go where you like with your drinks--it's very freeing. Here are a few photos of what's going on-
This is the Spiegeltent during tech, one of the loveliest examples I've ever seen. I'm performing on a small stage in this 18th century tent, lit only by tiny incandescent units that make it feel almost exactly like candlelight. It's shockingly intimate--maybe one of the most interesting spaces I've ever performed in.
This is the main clock tower in the center of town. The bells on the churches here toll every hour, even in the dead of night, just as they must have hundreds of years ago.
This is my traveling companion and director, who is hot and tired from the sun and from drinking in aforementioned Spiegeltent.
This is the best "pick up your dog litter" graffiti I have ever seen.
Tomorrow morning we leave the festival, finishing up this grand tour of Europe--in the last two weeks we've been to London, Paris, and now this festival, and next we're headed to Prague over the weekend and finishing up in Amsterdam.
Off to the show. If you're coming this evening, stick around and we'll have a drink.
Chinese edition of my book:
So a lot people have been addressing the serious issues brought on by Bacn in their inboxes, but have thought the name is quite silly. Well if you look at the history and origins of the name Spam, you will soon realize that Bacn continues where Spam has left off and sets the internet up for Sausage in the future. This name may be silly, but so was Spam when it was first introduced.
What do Myanmar, Liberia and the United States have in common?
We're at the Noorderzon Festival in the Netherlands--for those who'd like to check it out we're totally sold out for all three performances, though I hear that there is a stand-by line available.
Off to tech--more soon!
Apologies to everyone who is looking for me--Paris has in her grips, and I can't seem to get it together in the least. We leave Tuesday, so expect better correspondence from then on out.
Boing Boing: Essay: "I'm the proud owner of Karl Rove’s father’s solid gold cock ring.":
"Karl Rove's father was not only gay, but a part of the early body piercing scene and a regular at 70s piercing parties... There are pictures of him on BME."
Here is part of that essay. BMEzine just published it in entirety with detailed photos said to depict the elder Mr. Rove's numerous genital piercings.
I have no way of immediately verifying the statements in this essay, or the source of the photos. I am pursuing that now, have received responses which so far indicate that this material is valid, and I will update soon.
Alexandra, Spiritual/Psychic Counselor of Staten Island:
One afternoon at 2:00, which was exactly one hour after she'd said she'd arrive, a busty brunette in a skimpy red sundress burst through the doors of Gawker headquarters and sprinted towards me. It was Julia Allison, of course, coming to take me to a psychic in Staten Island. The kicky rhythm of her four-inch rope espadrilles on the hardwood floor was the loudest thing that had happened in the office all day, but it was quickly one-upped by her voice. "Aren't you SO EXCITED!" she asked-told me as she enfolded me in a candy-smelling embrace. And then she grabbed my hand and the next thing I knew I was beside her in that vaunted convertible Mercedes, speeding as quickly as it's possible to speed down a traffic-clogged street in Soho, accompanied by Whitney Houston ("I Wanna Dance With Somebody"). That's when reality began to blur, so I've had to reconstruct the next part of the afternoon by looking at my sent and received text messages.
Inside Cryptome, the website the CIA doesn't want you to see:
"Why should I believe you?"
John L. Young asks that question a lot. When he poses it to me, leveling his intense, glassy blue eyes at mine across a barroom table on a muggy evening in late May, it is less a direct attack on my credibility than a cruel epistemological riddle. Over the previous week, I had exchanged e-mails and spoken on the telephone with Young, a 71-year-old architect, spy buff, and proprietor of a strange and engrossing website called Cryptome, to set up an interview. In doing so, I supplied him with certain data: my name [John Cook], occupation [reporter], employer [Radar magazine], location [216 E. 45th St.], e-mail address [redacted], telephone number [redacted]. Young craves data. He covets it, collects it, triangulates it, and uploads it to Cryptome—an online repository of forbidden information—where it collides with more data, gig after gig sloshing around in chaotic digital clouds. There are high-resolution satellite photos of President Bush's Crawford ranch, technical documents detailing how the National Security Agency spies on computer traffic, even the home addresses and telephone numbers of government officials, including former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.
But Young knows that raw data is suspect. Before it is loosed on the Internet, scrubbed, cross-referenced, and interrogated by the hive mind for inconsistencies and cracks, it can be used to deceive. People lie. Misinformation is everywhere. People will use you; they will try to get you to believe things that aren't true in order to advance their own agendas. It is, as Young likes to say, "standard tradecraft." I could hand him a business card, show him a magazine, look him firmly and earnestly in the eye, and swear up and down that I am who I say I am. "But," he'll reply with a caustic smile, "that's how liars talk."
At Netflix, Victory for Voices Over Keystrokes - New York Times:
Netflix set up shop here a year ago, shunning other lower-cost places in the United States and overseas, because it thought that Oregonians would present a friendlier voice to its customers. Then in July, Netflix took an unusual step for a Web-based company: it eliminated e-mail-based customer service inquiries. Now all questions, complaints and suggestions go to the Hillsboro call center, which is open 24 hours a day. The company’s toll-free number, previously buried on the Web site, is now prominently displayed.
Netflix is bucking several trends in customer service. Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm, and Duke University studied 600 companies last year and found a continued increase not just in outsourcing, but also offshoring, in which call centers are moved overseas.
“I don’t think there’s any trend to pull back,” said Matt Mani, a senior associate at Booz Allen. “This is a unique strategy for Netflix. There’s so much more competition, this is something they’ve done to get closer to the customer, because without that, there’s really no connection a customer has to Netflix.”
Establishment Threads in a Radical Fringe:
“England,” a gripping meditation by Tim Crouch, also centers on a painfully insecure and entitled Westerner. In this sneakily allegorical work, which takes place on two floors of an art gallery, a nervous English character is played simultaneously by the strangely calm and hypnotic pair of actors, Mr. Crouch and Hannah Ringham, who alternate speaking lines. The speaker, called a guide in the script, can’t stop boasting about his/her strong American boyfriend, a confident type who speaks four languages and knows exactly what to say.
“He saved my life,” the guide says, oddly, before we learn that he had become deathly sick. In the second act, which takes place in an unidentified foreign country, he/she confronts the wife of the dying man, Hassam, who donated his heart so the guide could live.
Mr. Crouch’s “Oak Tree,” which opened in New York in 2006, did not prepare me for the finely sculpted language of this drama that at its best resembles the muscular sentences of Caryl Churchill. In a few economical brush strokes, “England,” which makes its points obliquely, through metaphor instead of sloganeering, hints at a dark world where everything can be boiled down to a financial transaction (the global art market is sent up mercilessly) and moral choice is regularly outsourced.
Our first night in Paris--a short photo essay.
On the inimitable advice of James and Cat, we try what has been proclaimed at The World's Best Falafel...and this is me agreeing with that assessment.
"Florence Finkelsztajn? I think she sat behind me in algebra..."
Paris is against children. Families: BEWARE!
So long, Britain...hello Paris!
This is my first time to Paris, so if any readers have advice on where to go and what to see, please feel free to email us.
Off to go exploring...
Ocellated » Bill Nye in Waco:
The Emmy-winning scientist angered a few audience members when he criticized literal interpretation of the biblical verse Genesis 1:16, which reads: “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”
He pointed out that the sun, the “greater light,” is but one of countless stars and that the “lesser light” is the moon, which really is not a light at all, rather a reflector of light.
A number of audience members left the room at that point, visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence.
“We believe in a God!” exclaimed one woman as she left the room with three young children.
Yoga Bitch opens in London tonight. It is the culmination of almost five years of work—I remember sitting with Jean-Michele and Suzanne and nurturing this scheme of Suzanne's, encouraging her and working with them both to find a home for this work. What followed was a multi-year odyssey of workshops, starts, re-starts, cross-country migrations and occasional long silences.
It is extremely moving to see the fruits of all this long labor coming to light--Time Out London did a feature, as has the Guardian and the London Paper...she's capturing more than a normal amount of press because everyone else ran out of town to Edinburgh, a savvy strategy of the producers that is paying off big-time. It's such a pleasure to see Theatre 503 work so hard to ensure the show is a success, and everyone on the production team pulling together--it makes me feel young and proud to be affiliated with the production, watching artists carve out a name for themselves with nothing but sweat, blood, time and love.
Break a leg tonight, Suz.
In celebration of this event, I'm posting a mass email I received from Suzanne when she was in Bali. You can see the roots of the piece here, and its fascinating to read now that this experience has proved such a fertile ground for her work.
From: Suzanne Morrison
Date: March 26, 2002 1:46:27 PM BST
here i am, in bali. baliblaibaliaiabailb. drunk off yoga and enlightenment. my friends here call me paramahansa suzananda. i am muy, muy serene. very sunburnt as well from three hours at pool yesterday. i thought i was coming to bali to live like a dirty filthy hippy, but i arrive to find my life consisting of a gorgeous house with a gorgeous pool, a weekly 2 hour massage and some incredible food. i even have hot water in the bathroom. so my idea of living austerely has proven to be completely false. i am living rather like a goddamn colonialist. with servants. a bit unsettling for my inner marxist, post-modernist. one should not go to college for liberal arts and then come! immediately to bali.
this place is teeming with aussies and germans and frenchies. they are all tan and gorgeous. they do not help me on my path to enlightenment, especially as i frequently see them in bars with cigarettes and martinis, as i demurely sip my bottled water and prepare for the next two hours of yoga and meditation.
that's pretty much what i'm doing here. envying the aussies and becoming enlightened through approximataely 4 hours of yoga a day, plus hour meditaion or so, and loads of reading-- the yoga sutras, the upanishads, several asana books and the latest herb blau collection of essays just to remind me that enlightenment coudln't possibly be as interesting as terror, apocolypse and revolution.
my classmates are fantastic, from england, australia, guam, italy and me and my roommate jessica from good ole seattle, wash. we are bonded by the pains in our hamstrings and our communal clammoring for the divine. mmmmm i've just been served a crepe with my email.
i've resigned myself to the fact that i will ultimately see very little of this lovely island, as classes pick up in intensity shortly, my workload will double, and only sundays are off. we've got a few sidetrips planned but for the most part i'll be in the temple chanting langvangrangyanghangangommmmmmmmm. for those of you who watch absolutely fabulous, i must mention that every time we chant i think of edina rolling her eyes as she says oinging langingoingboing, to hell with it.
the days are slow, there are many geckos, i've experienced none of the explosive varietys of gastrointestinal ailments, but my roommate has! i'm knocking on wood every second of every day. most of my classmates drink pee, by the way. they are wayyyyy into urine. i think it's totally exciting, the amount of pee that is drunk in my class. many drink 8oz each morning. one fellow snorts it for his hay fever. i think about this approximately twenty times a day, usually during meditation.
i'll have a billion more stories to tell you all when i return home, it's been quite an experience so far, very different from any other two weeks of my life. five more to go. my to do list for tomorrow is: conquer fear of death, release attachments to worldly senses, and tip up into headstand. after that i will probably eat some chocolate, have a coffee (it's exceptional here) bitch about the overabundance of bananas in my astral field and have a swim. as adam from london says, it's a pisser of a time we're having in bali.
love to all,
The Gay Debate:
None of the leading candidates supports our civil equality in marriage, the Ground Zero of the movement. And, more frustrating, none will say why. If you're for civil unions but not civil marriage, you need an argument. One is simply the semantic one that your commitment to the heterosexual meaning of the word trumps your understanding that gays are also family members and deserve not to be shunted into a "separate-but-equal" institution. But none of them will admit that. The other answer is that they do support equality in marriage but fear losing votes if they publicly say so. As president, of course, they have virtually no role in the matter - it's for the states. But they're scared of the Rove machine - still. So they can't say that either. So they all seem illogical. You can say this: if any of them does believe in marriage equality, their conviction is not as strong as their calculation. I guess that tells you something even about a candidate like Obama. If one becomes president and the Democrats maintain the House and Senate, we may get the trivial (and unecessary) hate crimes act passed. I'm not hopeful for much else in the first four years.
Gothamist: Brooke Astor Dies at Age 105:
Brooke Astor passed away today. A gentleman should never ask a lady her age, but once Brooke Astor passed the century mark, she probably didn't care who knew how old she was. Brooke Astor was the wife of Vincent Astor, the only son of John Jacob Astor IV, who died in the sinking of the Titanic. The Astor family's roots stretch back almost as far as the history of New York City itself. The subway station at Astor Place in Manhattan is decorated with beavers, the animal whose pelt was the foundation of the family fortune before John Jacob Astor began buying large swathes of New York real estate.
Left Something in a Cab? Good Luck Getting It Back. - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog:
“The current procedure for recovering property lost in taxis is complicated, frustrating, difficult to navigate, and unlikely to result in the return of lost property,” according to the report [pdf], which was released today by Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, a Manhattan Democrat.
From June 13 to 19, Ms. Brewer’s staff placed a series of calls to test the system’s ability to help cab passengers identify lost property. Their efforts were frustrated by overwhelmed hot lines at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, contradictory information from city officials and a lost-property maze at the Police Department that seemed to gobble up lost items and never release them.
Wired 14.12: Raging Boll:
INSIDE A DILAPIDATED Vancouver casino, Uwe Boll dances around a makeshift dressing room, showboating for the crowd of reporters gathered in front of him. His bulldog face is creased with rage as he leans his meaty body into a vicious right hook, pounding at a pair of punching pads with a thunderous wham-wham!
"Oo-vuh! Oo-vuh! Oo-vuh!" A few steps away, at the rundown Plaza of Nations amphitheater, the chanting has begun as hundreds of rowdy spectators grow increasingly bloodthirsty. In a few minutes they – along with thousands of Internet geeks glued to streaming video feeds – will witness a bizarre spectacle. Uwe Boll, quite possibly the worst filmmaker in the world, will step into a boxing ring to defend his honor – and his livelihood – by beating the crap out of a handful of Web critics he claims are destroying his career.
The Road to Clarity - New York Times:
“So, what do you see?” Martin Pietrucha I asked, turning around in the driver’s seat of his mint green Ford Taurus. It was a cold day in January, and we were parked in the middle of a mock highway set on the campus of Pennsylvania State University in State College. Pietrucha is a jovial, 51-year-old professor of highway engineering. His tone was buoyant as he nodded toward the edge of the oval stretch of road where two green-and-white signs leaned against a concrete barrier.
What I saw, Pietrucha knew, was what we all may see soon enough as we rush along America’s 46,871 miles of Interstate highways. What I saw was Clearview, the typeface that is poised to replace Highway Gothic, the standard that has been used on signs across the country for more than a half-century. Looking at a sign in Clearview after reading one in Highway Gothic is like putting on a new pair of reading glasses: there’s a sudden lightness, a noticeable crispness to the letters.
James Braly: The Roller Coaster of Love:
Anyway...while standing at the bar, I met a statuesque blond from London, who used to be a presenter for BBC, but is now a playwright. She asked me what I do, and when I told her (a funny, dark and brutal autobiographical monologue) she told me--as have others--that I am up against major cultural barriers here. "The British don't discuss their personal lives." She invited me to join her for a drink after a show she was off to see, so an hour later we met again. This led to a meeting with some other of her friends, who echoed the warning against using your life onstage. One performer said, "That's why we have theatre." I told her that at least some New York audiences are used to viewing private lives as theatrical vessels; that there is a culture of ironic detachment. She said detachment is a grave social error here: "The British feel a deep need to be connected with each other." They asked me to join them as they wandered off en masse to another bar, connected as it were, to drink some more.
But I walked home, needing rest more than alcohol, reflecting on my meeting with the American producer a few hours earlier. How, in front of Louise and another performer, having just met me, he had told me of his divorce, and of his nymphomanical Cuban, while Louise gaped at the exchange, which we two Americans felt perfectly normal.
China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People - New York Times:
SHENZHEN, China, Aug. 9 — At least 20,000 police surveillance cameras are being installed along streets here in southern China and will soon be guided by sophisticated computer software from an American-financed company to recognize automatically the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity.
Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens.
Data on the chip will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.
Security experts describe China’s plans as the world’s largest effort to meld cutting-edge computer technology with police work to track the activities of a population and fight crime. But they say the technology can be used to violate civil rights.
Thinking about the Past
Certain moments will never change, nor stop being--
My mother's face all smiles, all wrinkles soon;
The rock wall building, built, collapsed then, fallen;
Our upright loosening downward slowly out of tune--
All fixed into place now, all rhyming with each other.
That red--haired girl with wide mouth--Eleanor--
Forgotten thirty years--her freckled shoulders, hands.
The breast of Mary Something, freed from a white swimsuit,
Damp, sandy, warm; or Margery's, a small, caught bird--
Darkness they rise from, darkness they sink back toward.
O marvelous early cigarettes! O bitter smoke, Benton...
And Kenny in wartime whites, crisp, cocky,
Time a bow bent with his certain failure.
Dusks, dawns; waves; the ends of songs...
Pearl Jam not first to be censored by AT&T :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Entertainment:
AT&T’s controversial edit of comments about President Bush from a Webcast of Pearl Jam’s performance at Lollapalooza last week was not the first time the telecommunications giant has silenced political statements by musicians.
An AT&T spokeswoman initially characterized the sudden audio edit that silenced Eddie Vedder’s lyrics “George Bush, leave this world alone” and “George Bush, find yourself another home” during Pearl Jam’s performance in Grant Park last Sunday as “an unfortunate mistake” and “an isolated incident.”
But yesterday, a reader e-mailed the Sun-Times saying AT&T’s Blue Room Webcast also had silenced comments during two performances at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee last June, cutting remarks by the John Butler Trio bemoaning the lack of federal response to Hurricane Katrina and comments about Bush and the war in Iraq by singer Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.
“The sound did not cut out at any other time — only when someone was talking about George Bush or the government in a negative way,” the reader, who identified herself as Andrea K., wrote. Flaming Lips management said the band was unaware of the edit but was investigating, and the John Butler Trio could not be reached.
But AT&T did confirm that other, unspecified political comments have been cut from its Webcasts.
For those who are interested, I told a story on Weekend America this week for their Song and Memory series--a story about my difficult relationship with the song "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oats. You can listen to it here.
In London as I type this, with a kebab in my belly and The League of Gentlemen on the tube. A good life.
village voice > news > Rudy's Five Big Lies About 9/11
Nearly six years after 9/11, Rudy Giuliani is still walking through the canyons of lower Manhattan, covered in soot, pointing north, and leading the nation out of danger's way. The Republican frontrunner is campaigning for president by evoking that visual at every campaign stop, and he apparently believes it's a picture worth thousands of nights in the White House.
Giuliani has been leading the Republican pack for seven months, and predictions that the party's evangelicals would turn on him have so far proven hollow. The religious right appears as gripped by the Giuliani story as the rest of the country.
Giuliani isn't shy about reminding audiences of those heady days. In fact he hyperventilates about them on the stump, making his credentials in the so-called war on terror the centerpiece of his campaign. His claims, meanwhile, have been met with a media deference so total that he's taken to complimenting "the good job it is doing covering the campaign." Opponents, too, haven't dared to question his terror credentials, as if doing so would be an unpatriotic bow to Osama bin Laden.
Here, then, is a less deferential look at the illusory cloud emanating from the former mayor's campaign . . .
Boing Boing: Google Video robs customers of the videos they "own":
Notice that Google called these videos "purchased" and "download to own" -- as though by buying them, they became your property. Funny kind of property, that. Imagine if these were DVDs: one day, a man from Virgin Megastore shows up at your door and says, "We're taking away all your videos. Sorry! But we'll give you a credit to spend at a different store. Not a credit for videos, though. Also: it expires in 60 days."
This is a giant, flaming middle finger, sent by Google and the studios to the customers who were dumb trusting enough to buy DRM videos. How many of these people will trust the next DRM play from Google (no doubt coming soon from YouTube) or the studios?
The terms that Google sold its video on were similar to those laid down by other downloadable video "stores," like Amazon Unbox. These stores claim to "sell" you things, but you can never truly 0wn the things they sell -- they are your theoretical property only, liable to confiscation at any time. That's the lesson for DRM: only the big motion picture companies, search giants and other corporate overlords get to own property. We vassals are mere tenant-farmers, with a precarious claim on our little patch of dirt.
Postcard from Albany:
The Virginia funerals were intimate and superstitious. Men dabbed the sweat off their foreheads with handkerchiefs while preachers railed about hellfire, eulogists told jokes, and we all sang soulful hymns. The New York funeral was more Catholic and prescribed. The graveyard was a long drive away. The tombstones were small, white, and uniform, like well-tended teeth. A computer at the visitor's center gave us digital directions to Grandma's gravesite where three burly white men in clean denim and hard hats shouted over the din of a backhoe that lifted her coffin by a chain, and swung her into her grave. When the coffin wouldn't fit, the fattest one stood on it to give it weight, push it down. It was an efficient New England burial and the family decamped to a banquet hall where there was baked chicken and beer.
In Virginia, the post-funeral meal was casual, with lukewarm fried chicken and sweet tea and coleslaw on paper plates in the fellowship hall next to the church. The old cemetery was just steps away and the tombstones, if they were like teeth, were neglected—some round, some pointy, most of them stained. Two silent black men lowered Granddad's coffin into the ground by hand, then shoveled the dirt on top. Two plates of the fried chicken and coleslaw brought from the fellowship hall waited for them nearby, covered in plastic wrap.
village voice > theater > How Can We Improve the New York Fringe? by Alexis Soloski:
In order to recapture some of the excitement and oddity of the Fringe's first few years, Clancy suggests moving to a model similar to Edinburgh's, in which the New York Fringe abandons adjudication and makes the festival open to all comers—all comers who can find a venue to house them. Clancy, who tends to swear when excited, effuses: "Any fucking show, anything—fine. You find your space and you're in the festival. It's a radical rethinking." In this model, venues decide which shows they want to host, make deals with the artists, and report the details to the Fringe Office. The Fringe Office would produce the Fringe guide and oversee the festival's PR. (The Fringe would also have to abandon the aspect of its artist agreement that requires authors, for seven years after the festival, to pay the Fringe 2 percent of all royalties over $20,000 for a play mounted at the festival. It's a clause that probably contributes to the amateurishness of much Fringe playwriting, as established playwrights are unlikely to consent to having their plays tithed by an organization that's presenting, not producing the work.)
Boing Boing: Court rules US air travelers can't refuse security searches at airports:
US airline passengers in airport security screening areas can be searched at any time, and may no longer refuse to be searched by leaving the airport, according to a ruling today by the nation's largest federal appeals court. Snip from summary at Wired News Threat Level blog:
The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the circuit's 34-year-old precedent that over time was evolving toward limiting when passengers could refuse a search and leave the airport after they had checked their bags or placed items on the security screening X-ray machine.
The Gowanus Lounge: Helping Victims of the Brooklyn Tornado:
If you had told us at the beginning of the week that we'd be doing a "Helping Victims of the Brooklyn Tornado" post on Friday, we'd have asked you what you were smoking. Nonetheless, the latest tally is that the Brooklyn tornado damaged 32 houses to the point that residents were ordered to vacate. Many more homes were damaged. About 40 families, totaling 157 people, took shelter with the Red Cross at PS 314 on Wednesday night in Sunset Park and about 60 people remained yesterday evening. The Red Cross and city agencies are trying to find housing for them. In addition, about 40 percent of the trees in Leif Erickson Park came down.
Man has thumbs altered to improve iPhone dexterity - Engadget:
This story isn't for the faint of heart. In fact, we wouldn't really recommend it for anybody, but we'll soldier on regardless. Thomas Martel hails from Colorado, and after upgrading to an iPhone, he decided his big hands were just too much of a burden to bear. "From my old Treo, to my Blackberry, to this new iPhone, I had a hard time hitting the right buttons, and I always lost those little styluses," says Martel. So what's a man to do? Why, get those digits downsized, of course. Thomas went under the knife for a new technique called "whittling." The doctors made a small cut in each thumb and shaved down the bones, then they adjusted the muscles and fingernails to fit the new thumb size.
Pearl Jam Ten Club News:
After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the "Blue Room" Live Lollapalooza Webcast.
When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.
During the performance of "Daughter" the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but were cut from the webcast:
- "George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung); and
- "George Bush find yourself another home."
This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.
AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.
wcbstv.com - NWS: Tornadoes Confirmed In Brooklyn, S.I.:
What was thought to be a violently windy thunderstorm that plowed through Brooklyn Wednesday morning turned out to be a weather event of historical proportions.
The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday night that an EF1 tornado touched down in the Livingston-Randall Manor area of Staten Island before eventually becoming the EF2 that slammed into Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
During a 10-minute stretch around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday the twister skipped along a nine-mile path before zipping through the Verrazano Narrows and into Bay Ridge. The storm marked Brooklyn's first tornado since such weather events were recorded. Officials measured it to be an EF2 twister, characterized by winds of anywhere from 111 to 135 miles per hour.
On treating your laptop, iPod, and iPhone batteries right:
Although progress in battery capacity is snail-like compared to the progress in energy consumption of the devices powered by batteries, rechargeable batteries have come a long way the past decade or two. All current Apple laptops, iPods, and the iPhone use lithium ion or lithium polymer rechargeable batteries. Apart from spontaneous combustion (which is rare), the main problem with rechargeable batteries is that they lose their capacity over time. This is especially worrisome with devices like the iPod and the iPhone where the battery isn't easily replaceable. So what can we do to keep our lithium batteries in good health until old age?
b e a . s t . . . Lightbulb - a kinetic sculpture:
light bulb is a levitating yet powered lightbulb. It will float stably in midair and remain on for years without any physical contact, charging, or batteries. Ironically, with the levitation and wireless power circuitry both on, this entire package still consumes less than half the power of an incandescent bulb.
This is not a trick or a photoshop manipulation. The bulb and the casing contain hidden circuitry [shown in figures] that uses electromagnetic feedback to levitate the bulb roughly 2.5" from the nearest object, and uses coupled resonant wireless power transfer to beam power from the housing into the bulb itself.
A Two-Character Play Starring Both Members of the Audience - New York Times:
Silvia Mercuriali, 30, and Anthony Hampton, 32 — the artistic team behind Rotozaza, an inventive London-based company with a growing reputation on the experimental theater circuit — don’t think so. They have found a way around the problem of pesky performers by giving the audience something else to look at: themselves.
The troupe had already been practicing an unusual brand of cerebral theater, building darkly psychological dramas about surveillance, communication and modern love that use a mix of actors and unrehearsed guest performers who are told what to do and say by an Orwellian voice offstage. This chilling aesthetic is based on a certain uneasy ambiguity among viewers over whether a guest performer knows the script or is just following instructions.
But if the line between audience and performer seems blurred, Rotozaza’s new drama, “Etiquette,” which they created with Paul Bennun, erases it entirely.
Boing Boing: Bush signs wiretapping expansion law, permanent backdoors possible:
A new law passed in haste by Congress over the weekend and signed into law by President Bush on Sunday expands the government’s ability to spy on the phone calls and e-mails of US citizens -- no warrants required:
Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.
The Near-Fame Experience of Being a Bravo Reality Star -- New York Magazine:
The contestants on Bravo shows are not allowed money, credit cards, cell phones, newspapers, magazines, televisions, or Internet access. They cannot make independent excursions without a chaperone; they have to schedule phone calls through the producers, who monitor their every word. They can’t listen to iPods, can’t listen to the radio (among other reasons, Bravo would have to pay for the rights to the songs). They can’t even have sex with one another to pass the time. (An STD could result in a lawsuit—unlike hookup reality shows, the contestants aren’t tested beforehand for communicable diseases.) In fact, the contestants are left with little to do on these shows except drive each other barking mad. “Plus, they’re drinking,” says Tom Colicchio, head judge of Top Chef, as he himself simultaneously nurses a coffee and margarita outside his new restaurant, Craft Los Angeles. “Not during the challenges, usually, though no one would stop them if they did.”
Sleep deprivation is rampant, especially on Project Runway, where participants usually rise at six, work until midnight, and go to bed at 1 or 2 a.m. Season Two of Top Chef was additionally complicated by the summer weather in Los Angeles, the hottest on record—the building in which they filmed had no air conditioners. There were days when it reached 110 degrees outside, and far worse in the kitchen. And that was before the contestants fired up the six double-ovens.
Gothamist: Gray Lady Loses 1.5 Inches: New NY Times Size:
Today, the New York Times finally made its move to a 12 inch-width format with today's paper. The paper will stay the same price ($1.25 on weekdays and Saturday, $4.00 on the weekend) and will charge the same amount to advertisers, but can/may add more pages. Headlines and columns are narrowed, but the body copy type is the same (the spacing between letters, though, is more closed up). Interestingly, the crossword itself looks generally the same size, though the clues columns are narrower.
Thanks, Democratic Majority in Congress!
Bush Signs Law to Widen Legal Reach for Wiretapping - New York Times:
President Bush signed into law on Sunday legislation that broadly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.
Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government’s ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.
They also said that the new law for the first time provided a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that is supposed to regulate the way the government can listen to the private communications of American citizens.
“This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, who has studied the new legislation.
Yesterday was a bit of a writing wash-out for me. I was like the cartoon keener with his pencils sharpened and his glasses on and his sleeves rolled up, ready for Inspiration to strike, but Inspiration instead went on strike and took a walk by the river. In dealing with that frustration I became paralyzed, but then I remembered my own advice: Write The Bad Play First. It doesn’t have to be golden at first go. I know that, but how easily I forget.
Hick With A Master's Degree: Starving the Local Artist:
When the play finally opens, the actors will be exhausted by their schedules and broke due to the costs of transportation, parking, meals, and in some cases babysitters and loss of income due to time off for the show. On stage they will probably wear at least one garment from their own “costume wardrobe” at home, and very likely shoes that they have provided. They will wear makeup they bought. They will pay their way to and from the theater every night. And still they will not be paid for their work.
This is a given in theater. It is accepted. It is mentioned and occasionally debated. But nothing is ever done about it. Every show begins with high hopes and plans to pay all the artists, and ends with the producer passing the hat to buy wine for the closing night party. Everybody in theater knows this. But, over the years, I realized that I just couldn’t take it.
More and more, the feeling I associated with theater was shame. I tried harder and harder to write scripts that actors would like to perform. I made the characters as vivid as I could, and made sure every actor had at least one great line, one great moment. But it wasn’t enough to make me feel good about what I was asking them to do. For after all the costs were rung up, and all the rent was paid, there was never enough to fairly compensate the artists.
I tried dividing up my fee and giving it to the performers. But since the fee was small to begin with, it didn’t amount to much, spread over an entire cast. And then I tried not taking any fee, just throwing it into the budget. And still the actors were not paid more than an “honorarium.”
So imagine how it feels to read an article like the one that appeared today in the Seattle Times. One theater company here is asking the public to give them a million dollars by the fall, and another million and a half by next spring. The Artistic Director is not threatening to quit and go back to the East Coast, but the managing director insinuates that holding onto a prize-winning and sought-after AD like theirs requires big-time funding.
Two and a half million dollars, and the money is supposed to come, primarily, from individual donations. So, I’m thinking: Okay, there are rich people in Seattle. All artists know that, and many of them spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to appeal to these rich people: What will they like? What will they pay to see? How much can we charge them for tickets? A couple of local companies have gone broke and out of business, trying to appeal to rich people while ignoring the theatergoers in their own neighborhood.
Maybe it is unkind, but I think those companies deserved to go out of business for ignoring their neighborhood. Theater is not glamorous; it is visceral and it is present, but it is not glamorous. It is not international, no matter how far word of it travels. Theater is local, at all times. And if a company is lucky enough to afford its own theater, then it had better find out what people who can get to that theater will and will not find intriguing. This is not pandering. It is listening. And it has been a long, long time since our big companies listened.
Charles Simic - Poet Laureate - New York Times:
Charles Simic, a writer who juxtaposes dark imagery with ironic humor, is to be named the country’s 15th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress today.
Simic is one of my favorite writers, and I couldn't be more pleased. Years ago I had him as a teacher, and the older I get the more I think I learned from him. Here's his latest, what I often thought was his greatest, and his essays and memoirs are also quite haunting.
A dog trying to write a poem on why he barks,
That’s me, dear reader!
They were about to kick me out of the library
But I warned them,
My master is invisible and all-powerful.
Still, they kept dragging me out by my tail.
From My Turn To Confess by Charles Simic
Sense Of Boundaries - August 2, 2007 - The New York Sun:
Friday night at the "Hairspray" movie: about a half hour in, I realized that the two people behind me were fully intending to chat throughout the movie. I asked them to stop talking. They were mildly surprised.
Saturday night at the musical "Xanadu:" about a half hour in, I realized that the two people behind me were fully intending to chat Â-- this time out loud Â-- throughout the show. I asked them to stop talking. They were mildly surprised.
At that same performance, a couple of men down the aisle were not just laughing but braying like donkeys and bouncing in their seats after about every third line. A movie critic once designated a campy movie of 1980, "Can't Stop the Music," as aimed at "eight-year-old boys whose favorite movies, when they grow up, will be Auntie Mame and All About Eve." Well, here were some of them all grown up in 2007 at Xanadu, based, as it happens, on another bad, campy movie from 1980. Their heehawing was a performance. They thought the rest of us were interested in them showing that they got the in-jokes.
I, for one, was not. However, there are always people in an audience who lack any sense that they are to keep to themselves during a performance. I will never forget a performance of the play "Topdog/Underdog" some years ago, when some Williamsburg-type hipsters behind me were noshing on sandwiches during the performance, including rattling the paper bags they were packed in. I found the crackling, the chomping sounds, and the wafting odor of onions and cold cuts incommensurate with taking in a serious piece of theatre. Yet when the usher asked them to put the food away during intermission, they were mildly surprised.
Fontly Speaking | The Onion - America's Finest News Source:
Hey, as much as I hate to preach, now is the time when I have to get on the old soapbox: No more Futura Bold Condensed! I mean, really! It's such a precocious little font. I know it seems chic and irresistible, but show some restraint! People are using it everywhere, from Surgeon General's warnings to children's arithmetic books, and it really bugs me to see it used when a simple, moderate 18-point Helvetica Narrow Oblique would fill the bill without the pretension. Please, don't fall in the trap of using inappropriate fonts to make up for unimpressive material.
Fantastic and surprising article on the suckiness of flourescent lightbulbs which, as an aside, I fucking hate.
Brother Theodore - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Brother Theodore (11 November 1906 - 5 April 2001) was a monologuist and comedian known for rambling, stream of consciousness dialogues which he called "stand up tragedy." He was born Theodore Gottlieb into a wealthy family in Düsseldorf, Germany, where his father was a magazine publisher. Theodore attended the University of Cologne. Under Nazi rule, he was imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp until he signed over his family's fortune for one Reichsmark. After being deported for chess hustling from Switzerland he went to Austria where Albert Einstein, a family friend, helped him escape to the United States. He worked as a janitor at Stanford University, a dockworker in San Francisco and played a bit part in Orson Welles' The Stranger before moving to New York City.
"Only what we have lost forever do we possess forever. Only when we have drunk from the river of darkness can we truly see. Only when our legs have rotted off can we truly dance. As long as there is death, there is hope"
Herostratus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Herostratus (Greek: Ηροστρατος) was a young man who set fire to the temple of Artemis at Ephesus (currently in western Turkey) in his quest for fame on July 21, 356 BC. That temple was built of marble and was considered the most beautiful of some thirty shrines built by the Greeks to honor their goddess of the hunt and the wild; the temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Far from attempting to evade responsibility for this act of arson, Herostratus proudly claimed credit in order to secure his place in history. In order to dissuade similar-minded fame-seekers, the Greek authorities not only executed Herostratus, but condemned him to a legacy of obscurity by forbidding mention of his name under the penalty of death. Obviously, this harsh stipulation did not preclude Herostratus from achieving his goal.
Virgin America is Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group's second attempt to enter the US domestic airline market, and as a devoted Virgin Atlantic traveler I have been eagerly following their progress to approval. Every time I fly a domestic US carrier I feel miserable. How come I can go from San Francisco to London with food and and a private entertainment system for $400 while San Francisco to Seattle costs me $300 and has no amenities at all? Hopefully that is about to change.
New Freedom Destroys Old Culture: A response to Nick Carr. Many-to-Many::
This isn’t just Carr of course. As people come to realize that freedom destroys old forms just as surely as it creates new ones, the lament for the long-lost present is going up everywhere. As another example, Sven Bikerts, the literary critic, has a post in the Boston Globe, Lost in the blogosphere, that is almost indescribably self-involved. His two complaints are that newspapers are reducing the space allotted to literary criticism, and too many people on the Web are writing about books. In other words, literary criticism, as practiced during Bikerts’ lifetime, was just right, and having either fewer or more writers are both lamentable situations.
In order that the “Life was better when I was younger” flavor of his complaint not become too obvious, Bikerts frames the changing landscape not as a personal annoyance but as A Threat To Culture Itself. As he puts it “…what we have been calling “culture” at least since the Enlightenment — is the emergent maturity that constrains unbounded freedom in the interest of mattering.”
This is silly. The constraints of print were not a product of “emergent maturity.” They were accidents of physical production. Newspapers published book reviews because their customers read books and because publishers took out ads, the same reason they published pieces about cars or food or vacations. Some newspapers hired critics because they could afford to, others didn’t because they couldn’t. Ordinary citizens didn’t write about books in a global medium because no such medium existed. None of this was an attempt to “constrain unbounded freedom” because there was no such freedom to constrain; it was just how things were back then.
“Censorship is advertising paid for by the government.”
History Descending a Staircase: American Historians and American Culture - Chronicle.com:
Who was Marcel Duchamp, and why did his painting "Nude Descending a Staircase" provoke so much outrage at the Armory Show in 1913? What does George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" have to do with both the Jewish and African-American experience in the United States? Why was Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises so influential for modern fiction and journalism? How did Alfred Hitchcock, Ernst Lubitsch, and Billy Wilder, among many other émigré film directors, bring European cinematic styles and ideas to Hollywood? Why was Marlon Brando's performance as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire so revolutionary on stage and ultimately in the movies?
If you are an undergraduate or a graduate student taking a course in 20th-century American history, you are unlikely to find the answers to those questions. They won't even be posed. Nor will the names or the works of the artists, composers, novelists, filmmakers, and actors appear in the lectures or in the books assigned on the reading list. The vast majority of American historians no longer regard American culture — whether high culture or mainstream popular culture — as an essential area of study. The much-vaunted cultural turn in the humanities has run its course in one of the first disciplines it influenced.
Boing Boing: TSA chief: no-fly lists work, but it's a secret:
Security expert Bruce Schneier is serializing a five-part interview with TSA head Kip Hawley. Today, they talk about no-fly lists and ID checks. Schneier points out all the ways that these measures fail -- and all the ways that they compromise our freedom, and Hawley counters that they're actually very good, but only in ways that are too secret to let us know about them. Accountability? Who needs
Some angry white guy in Chicago (his description, not mine) is drawing a connection between Cheney's reprehensible actions and my use of the word in this post. He supports this by posting a tortuous legal definition for assault.
I thought it was pretty damn clear what I was talking about when I used the word assault, but for the record I don't support people filing charges for assault when it's clear very minor physical injury has been done--it's one of those rules in a democracy that depends on common sense to work, so there will always be some who don't exercise it, or monsters like Cheney who abuse their powers. I did nothing of the sort, and I resent unapologetic assholes (his description again, not mine) using my actions as misplaced support in their weak, shitty, rhetorical, boring-ass posting mulch.
In other news: welcome to August!