Saturday, December 25, 2004

Hey, Conservative Christians!

Interested in really living up to the tenets of your namesake?

1. Forget all that crap about whether or not political correctness has made us afraid to say the word "Christmas." (Though truthfully, the holiday committee has gotten Mr. Jesus's birthday all wrong. And by the way, is it just me, or does this sound like the most disgusting birthday cake ever?)

2. Stop buying all that creepy Veggie Tales propaganda for your kids. (Vegetables: good for eating, but do we really want to emulate them?)

3. Hell, skip a week or two of church this December.

Why? Because you can redirect all that energy into something useful: like doing for the U.S. Military what the U.S. Military should be doing for its own. That's right--send clothing to the wounded troops! Try to imagine what it must be like to spend Christmas sans clean underwear in a hospital ward in Germany, thousands of miles from your family and friends.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I got a rock

Give the RIAA and the MPAA coal for the holidays. They're dinosaurs, so what better gift than fossil fuel?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Shameless self promotion

From the most recent Downtown Music Gallery newsletter:

"INDUSTRIAL JAZZ GROUP - the Star Chamber (Innova 615) This is the fourth release (2nd for Innova) from this incredibly cool progressive/chamber/jazz unit from California, I believe. On 'the Star Chamber' they are a nonet led by pianist Andrew Durkin and feature Evan Francis, Cory Wright & Beth Schenck reeds, Kris Tiner & Phil Rodriguez on trumpets, Garrett Smith on trombone, Aaron Kohen on bass and Aaron McLendon on drums. All horns and rhythm team with no guitar! Andrew runs a tight ship and writes layers of intricate lines for his impressive six person horn team, giving each player a chance to solo over the intricate, interlocking parts. In some ways this is similar to Zappa's 'Grand Wazoo', but without the guitar or quick-changing complexities, yet still retaining with that wacky humor which is never forced. The strong point here is Andrew's rich writing for those layers of contrapuntal horns, at times it is only flute, sax and clarinet that we hear, used just right with equally strong harmonies for the trumpets and trombone. What is interesting is that this music is really in between categories, although it does use elements of modern jazz, chamber music and other quirky elements too difficult to pigeonhole. The group name is somewhat misleading, as there is nothing industrial about this and jazz is just one part of what this draws from. Leader Andrew Durkin concentrates more on writing, arranging and conducting and keeping his piano playing down to a minimum, hence it is crafty composing that makes this so special. I hear occasional snippets from different ethnic areas, which are just used as some minimal exotic spice to flavor things for subtle but satisfying taste."

Another item brought to my attention by KT.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A mighty wind

We're currently without cable, and so I've been temporarily disconnected from my beloved C-SPAN. As part of my withdrawal process, I've been turning to the local news. Last night I sampled the fare on our local channel 9 (KCAL).

The lead story? Wind.

I shit you not. Apparently, the fact that it's going to be a little breezy over the next few days is more important than anything else happening on the world stage at the moment.

Huh? What about that TV news adage, "If it bleeds, it leads"? Iraq is certainly bleeding at the moment, and it took the good people at KCAL half an hour get to that.

The first story on Bush (fifteen minutes or so into the program) was some human interest thing about his freakin' dog.

Alexandria, part 2

So you probably know about Project Gutenberg. Tonight I discovered this interesting sub-project, which has the goal of digitizing public domain scores.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Reviewing the reviewers

So the great Kris Tiner, a key player in the IJG (but more importantly a real gnarly and righteous musician / composer / artist / educator / fellow), passed along the following in response to our recent AAJ review (the latter has apparently pissed some folks off):

What Price Criticism? Bill Dixon at Victoriaville

A sampling:

"The collected press attempted a parley, 'You seem to be saying that we have to like your work, no matter what,' exclaimed one of the sages present. Bill roared back, 'No, I am saying that you should understand what my work is about before you decide whether you like it, and your liking it has nothing to do with it, your public wants to know THAT I have done it. I do not know anyone who does a work that they want someone to like overtly, that’s not why I do what I do. Why do I do music, that’s what they want to know about. It isn’t that you should endorse what I do, but you should try to inform your readership what it is that I do.'"

Get in it to win it back... or for real... or whatever

Remember the protests that accompanied Bush's first inauguration?

(Maybe not, as they weren't well-covered by the mainstream media.)

Well, there will be more.

Nancarrow would be proud

Just found the most amazing set of robot-performer-instruments here.

Check out the items on the audio and video page to get the full effect. Especially Josh Fried's piece for the GuitarBot, and the videos of Mari Kimura and the ModBots. The latter takes place in a church, and the visual effect is stunning.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Here's a story I never thought I'd see: egomaniacal porn star Jeff Stryker giving crap to the gentle folkie performance space Kulak's Woodshed.

Hey, we played at Kulak's back in 2001. That just goes to show you how nice a guy Paul Kulak, the proprietor, is. (What he should have said: "Industrial Jazz, huh? Do we look like we cater to Industrial Jazz? Do we look like we cater to jazz at all? This is a singer-songwriter venue, moron! It's not my problem if you can't play anywhere else in this fucking city!!" What he actually said: "Sure! Why not?")

The hearing is tonight if you can make it: 11724 Addison in Valley Village, 7 pm sharp. Urinating on cars strictly prohibited.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Have you seen my soul?

Because I need to "reach" it. At least according to Chris May at All About Jazz.

Ah well, it's not our first bad (misinformed?) review. Certainly won't be our last.

I won't go so far in my rebuttal as Leo Feigin recently did after The Wire trashed Anthony Braxton's latest recording (released on Leo Records). Feigin writes:

"Although this review is very bad, I am convinced such reviews are absolutely necessary, for they are a true indication that the album under review is really special. Mediocre or ordinary recordings never create controversy. Where would Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Charles Mingus, Art Ensemble of Chicago or Ganelin Trio be without the controversy they created with their music? When an artist comes up with something really new or radical there are always conventionally minded reviewers who don't understand the new aesthetic. Paul Bley said in one of his interviews, how do you know that something new has arrived? You know because you don't like it."

No, I won't go that far...

Alexandria, here we come!

Well, maybe. Some libraries are going online, but this process is long overdue, and likely to be stymied at some point by the copyright cops. (After all, it's not always possible to know what exactly is in the public domain.)

Why I love the web...

It's little things like this documentation of a set of experiments with Twinkies that justify all those otherwise wasted hours surfing the web, as far as I'm concerned.

I especially dig the haikus.

We lived in Houston very briefly, and can testify that Rice University has a totally bitchen radio station.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Everything old is new again, and again

For those who have tried to argue that this war is somehow unlike Vietnam (or who just don't see the recurrent pattern of American hubris and its deleterious effects), there's this.

So add rank-and-file-soldiering to the list of professions that are grossly underpaid and disrespected. (Also on that list: teachers.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

...and we're back

Been doing a lot of traveling, performing, and recording of late so not much time to post. I do have a few items waiting in the wings, just waiting to be bloggified... perhaps tonight I'll get to them.

In the meantime I feel compelled to share this review of The Star Chamber by Brian Morton; it appeared in the November 2004 issue of The Wire. I'm a little surprised that they bothered to review us, actually; I didn't think we'd be their cup of tea (so to speak). Here's the text in toto (I don't think you can find it anywhere else on the web):

"The group name is only misleading if it leaves you expecting full-on metallurgical ugliness instead of machine-tooled modern jazz compositions of exquisite precision and strong aesthetic appeal. IJG have previously been heard on Hardcore and City of Angles, on which composer/pianist Andrew Durkin, publishing as Ugly Jazz, unveiled his slightly too selfconscious hybrids of classical and kitsch (though the Laurel & Hardy theme apparently counts as classical too with some senior Wire folks). This time out, he settles for what's effectively a live document of the IJG 2003 vintage, and a set of themes and solos that will recall the Either/Orchestra or one of the jazzier downtown ensembles of the late 80s. It's a comparison that in no way belittles Durkin's team, which numbers a couple of outstanding soloists--saxophonist Beth Schenck and trumpeter Phil Rodriguez--and a crisp, punchy ensemble sound anchored on bassist Aaron Kohen and drummer Aaron McLendon."

Oh, and there was this little note in the LA Weekly last week, regarding last night's show at Club Tropical:

"Jazz on a Monday Vibe presents The Industrial Jazz Group, whose leader Andrew Durkin's arrangements are weirdo cool, like hanging out stoned at Sam Rivers' loft arguing about Mingus vs. Threadgill, Duke vs. Raymond Scott..."

Thanks, Brick Wahl (if that really is your name).

Oh, and speaking of last night's show, we were honored to have in our audience (once again) Jacki Apple and Bruce Fowler. I guess they're fans! My friend Paul recently lent me some bootleg Zappa videos--concerts, interviews, and such--and Bruce is featured in a few of them. What a great musician, and what a sweet guy.

Monday, December 06, 2004

We will not have an all-volunteer army!

I'm paraphrasing, but remember when Bush made that slip-o-the-tongue statement back on the campaign trail? And then immediately flip-flopped--"Er, we WILL have an all-volunteer army!"--once someone cued him in on the blunder? (Via remote control, perhaps?)

Anyway, now there's this.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Purge it, baby

These three sentences by Bob Dreyfuss (posted under a blog entry about Colin Powell's resignation) really capture (well, in my humble opinion) what is happening at the highest levels of government (notice all those suddenly empty offices?). Which is just to say that the Bush administration is going all bulemic on our collective asses, barfing up everyone who might prevent it from getting its way in foreign policy matters. (Hmmm... bit of an awkward metaphor, perhaps, but you get the drift.) Anyway, Dreyfuss writes:

"It’s clear to me that the invasion of Fallujah was just a diversionary action. It was meant to distract attention from the real offensive: the blitzkrieg against the CIA and the State Department. Those two agencies were the locus of opposition to Bush’s reckless foreign policy, and they are no more."

Check out the whole damned blog here.

Oh yeah, is there any other "Colin" in the world who pronounces their name "Colon"?!

If you're at all interested in the future of creativity... should tell your Senator to oppose the omnibus copyright bill currently emerging in Congress. Here's why this proposed smorgasbord of laws is so heinous.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

If you're at all interested in the future of jazz... should probably check out the recent (2003) NEA-funded report on the worklife of jazz musicians. You can get it here. Scroll down and download the PDF of the Executive Summary.

Right there, in the introduction, I finally saw in writing exactly the thing I've been struggling with over the last four years with the IJG. I quote:

"As A.B. Spellman indicated in his introduction to the NEA publication American Jazz Masters Fellowships 1982-2002, jazz was 'built on the discipline of collective improvisation ... which allowed for maximum expression of the individual within the context of the group.' The group, however, is often an ever-changing one. Unlike classical music, with orchestral members staying together for decades, or even rock, where more often than not musicians make their music as a group, jazz musicians often look for jams or gigs as individuals rather than in groups."

And later:

"Playing with multiple groups can be problematic. Musicians may not stay in a group long enough for it to grow into a solid band, and moving from group to group and gig can make linear career development difficult."

Yes... for both musicians and bandleaders. What you end up with are fewer cohesive, innovative groups, and more pickup groups that get together ephemerally to play--what else?--standards. Think about it: how can you pull off something Mingusian, something Ellingtonian, in a session, in a weekend, even in a tour? Those guys had more or less regular working bands which, though never entirely consistent in terms of personnel, were together long enough to push each other in some concerted but fascinating new directions.

Anyway... everything else you might have assumed about the extra-musical aspects of jazz is borne out by this study: in particular, most of its musicians are highly educated, pathetically underpaid, and lacking in health and retirement benefits. All this in the face of jazz being identified as a "national treasure" by the US Congress. Dontcha love the irony?

(Thanks to Robert Jacobson for forwarding this to me.)

Let the healing begin!

(But first there's this...)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Tomorrow is "Impeach Bush Day." (Probably the first of many.)

National Impeach Bush Day
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to initiate the impeachment process. (Faxes are particularly effective.) Tell your friends. Make an "Impeach Bush" sign for your window. Restore law and order to the White House! Refer them to this website for more information.

And now for something completely different...

My first two reviews for All About Jazz were just published:

Here's one about the Yohimbe Brothers's Tao of Yo.

And here's one about David Sanchez's Coral.

Funny, I liked the Sanchez album more, though I think the review of the Yohimbe Brothers is better written and more interesting. Both reviews were edited very slightly, I'm not sure to what effect.

Friday, November 12, 2004

More on civil war... within the Republican Party

George Paine picked up this item from America Blog:

Religious right BLASTS Mary Cheney's "flaunting" of her homosexuality.

Red Dawn, sort of

Okay, I was hesitating to blog this, because it at first seemed so, well, incredible (in the literal sense of the term). A few (very few) places on the web are addressing a story about tanks on the streets of LA, apparently used to intimidate an anti-war protest. I'm still skeptical (I'm skeptical about everything these days), but I just got off the phone with a friend who has a friend who was there. So I wish some qualified investigative journalist would get on this story and clarify it for the rest of us. (Particularly those of us who actually have to live and work in LA!)

Friday, November 05, 2004

United States of Canada

Remember when Dave Foley (of the Kids in the Hall) referred to Canada as "America without the guns"?

America the Beautiful

You need to read this, though be sure to have a barf bag nearby.

How can you have an intelligent discussion with someone who rejects the notion of compromise out of hand?

Moral values, eh?

Someone sent me this. There was a story on Salon too, but I won't send you there because you have to be a member or watch an annoying History Channel ad. The original video was released by Texans for Truth sometime at the end of October (as far as I can tell). Why did Kerry not just put this in a campaign ad and saturate the swing states with it?

And then there's this...

Whaddya know? There were problems with electronic voting in Ohio.

More about the kids...

Students at a Colorada high school protest Bush.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Insult to injury

Elizabeth Edwards has breast cancer. We all hope she will have a speedy recovery.

I saw a C-SPAN broadcast of a town-hall meeting she participated in a few weeks ago. She's an amazing, articulate, super-smart woman.

Speaking of C-SPAN, I saw the rebroadcast of Kerry's concession speech last night. I had already read the transcript, but watching the video, I realized that there was something about his expression that seemed to convey what those of us who had supported him were feeling: a sense of exhaustion, incredulity, and grief. It was as if someone we loved had unexpectedly died.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

In the words of Hunter S. Thompson...

"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it -- that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

Things to do today

1. Pick jaw up off floor. (You mean the combined forces of Bruce Springsteen, Howard Stern, and Eminem couldn't sway this election?!)

2. Bitch and moan for 24 hours or so (hey, I think we're all entitled).

3. Get over it.

4. Note to self: Nixon was re-elected too. (Indeed, as Eleanor Holmes Norton put it today, Kerry nearly did the impossible by almost unseating an incumbent war president. These guys (i.e., incumbent war presidents) tend to get re-elected without much trouble.)

(By the way, all you working class folks who voted for Bush... I don't know why you're rejoicing. It's primarily your kids who are going to be killed in this war. It's primarily your jobs that are going to be outsourced.)

5. Consider that Bush is now emboldened. He thinks he has a mandate. That means that at some point very soon, he will probably get so extreme that the more center-leaning of his supporters will make attempts to rein him in. There may already be signs of this, in fact. As Bruce Bartlett told Ron Suskind in a recent New York Times piece, "if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3." Let's hope.

6. Sit my lovely wife down and make a plan to have more kids. Why? I realized during one of my many half-awake / half asleep moments last night that the reason the evangelicals tipped this election (assuming they actually did) is that they procreate like rabbits. Hey, that's what happens when you're opposed to both abortion and birth control. And I'll bet there's a study somewhere that says that progressives are less likely to raise big families. C'mon people, let's get on this! It will have the added benefit of relieving some of the tension of the last few months.

7. Brainstorm about ways to develop out progressive religious movements (like liberation theology, for instance). Now, I'm the least qualified to speak on this topic, as I waver between being a lapsed Catholic, an agnostic, and an out-and-out atheist. But someone on the left needs to pick up and run with this thread or we're never going to win those damned "red" states. Sean Carroll has a similar idea.

(By the way, what's up with that color scheme business? Didn't it used to be a bad thing to be "red"?)

8. Beer. Lots of beer. And music. Lots of music.

9. Hug my wife and daughter and make sure they know I love them.

Monday, November 01, 2004

One more before voting...

Hey, get a load of this.

For whatever convoluted reason, it reminds me of the RIAA's amnesty program.


This election sure is bringing out the worst (or at least the most extreme) in people. Look no further than my last post, for instance--clearly over-the-top for someone who prides himself on rational, even-handed thinking.

It's a broad phenomenon. On Friday conservative psycho-bitch Ann Coulter (ah, shit, I did it again!) roused the antipathy of Bill Mahr's audience, and particularly that of Mahr's other guest, Richard Belzer. Belzer reached a boiling point ("She's repugnant!" he exclaimed--she, earlier, had referred to him as "Osama bin Laden") and a usually in-control Mahr actually seemed, for a few wincing moments, well... hapless in the face of this confrontation between his two friends.

On Saturday I saw a CBC program on the election (broadcast courtesy of C-SPAN, one of my favorite channels). Some anchor was moderating a kind of town-hall meeting of American voters; the discussion was interspersed with comments by concerned Canadians. One of the latter was actually a soft-spoken middle-aged American woman who had renounced her US citizenship as a last-resort protest against Bush's policies. It wasn't a violent protest in any sense; at one point she actually started weeping, apparently while considering the ramifications of her decision. It was horrible, pathetic, moving. One might argue it was patriotism at its most poignant, and at its most extreme.

I have always tried to resist the tendency, whether on the right or on the left, to see the world in Manichaean terms. Much as I admire Michael Moore, for instance, part of me is slightly embarrassed by his penchant for broad strokes; he's like the Oliver Stone of documentarians. You would think that the bald truth about the administration's actions would be horrifying enough to serve as the kind of searing indictment Moore is ultimately after; the creative edits and ironic soundtrack moments are fun, sure, but not necessarily convincing to those who aren't already anti-Bush (as the recent spate of anti-Michael Moore books and films has demonstrated).

On the other hand, reason doesn't seem to do the trick either, because there are plenty of more measured critics of the administration whose message is nevertheless not getting through (again, quoting Belzer: "Americans are stupid!"). So maybe we need Moore, however much we might not agree with his tactics (Todd Gitlin aptly called him the "anti-Bush"). And maybe we're just living in an era of extremes. Time and again I re-consider the evidence, trying to find some weakness in the argument against Bush. Time and again I come to the same dreary conclusion: that the administration is absolutely, insanely wrong. That conclusion terrifies me--it's a Manichaean conclusion, after all--but I can't escape it.

I hope we all escape it tomorrow.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Idiots of this election

Look, couldn't we just have Bush and bin Laden settle their feud with a Roman gladiator-style battle to the death? The money raised from ticket sales, international pay-per-view sales, T-shirts, and so on, could be paid directly to the poorest people on both sides. Whoever survived the match could be fed to the lions.

Fuck them both.

Idiosyncracies of this election

When people talk about this election many years hence, I hope they don't forget small, seemingly inconsequential but nevertheless interesting developments like this:

Bush relatives for Kerry.

And this:

Billionaires for Bush or Kerry. Not sure if they're affiliated with the satirical group "Billionaires for Bush," which seems to be lacking a web presence at the moment. In any case, the latter was funnier, though there were people on both sides who didn't get the satire.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Woolsey's wool / our eyes

Did anyone else find it strange that former CIA director James Woolsey used the word "totalitarians" to describe al Qaeda on last Friday's installment of Real Time with Bill Maher?

Don't you need some sort of massive state apparatus behind you to qualify as a "totalitarian"? Wouldn't a "totalitarian" organization or government be relatively easy to locate? (It would presumably have to be fairly massive and immobile to enforce its ideology.)

The assumption that al Qaeda was and is such an entity is, as George Paine argues today at, one of the major miscalculations of the Bush administration. Al Qaeda is not a totalitarian organization, it is a "non state actor." That is, the goal is the same (followers of Hitler and followers of bin Laden both want the same thing: "to take over the world," as cartoon villains put it), but the means for accomplishing that goal are very, very different. Mistaking "non state actors" for "totalitarians," we've gotten bogged down in precisely the war that al Qaeda wanted us to fight; it's one that will misuse and sap our resources, inflame and motivate our enemies, and finally threaten to exhaust us as a nation.

As Paine puts it at the end of his piece:

"These are gigantic miscalculations in the War on Terror. They are the greatest mistakes that could have been made. They are fundamental misunderstandings of the problem America faces. The actions and assumptions taken by the Bush Administration were exactly wrong. [...] The Bush Administration shows no sign of learning. We have six days until we learn whether the American people have learned. Think before you vote."

"Free" / dumb

Found this amazing paragraph at the American Library Association website a few minutes ago. It's a German professor's description of the coming of fascism in the early part of the twentieth century, as excerpted in Milton Mayer's book They Thought They Were Free:

“What happened was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to be governed by surprise, to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believe that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. [...] The crises and reforms (real reforms too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. [...] To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it — please try to believe me — unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted.’ [...] Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. [...] Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing) . . . You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


George Orwell would probably be astonished at the accuracy of his predictions.

The linguistic looseness of this presidential campaign (Bush, Inc.: "X." America: "Why did you say 'X'?" Bush, Inc.: "I never said 'X.'"), for instance, has really put the screws to any semblance of critical discourse in this country. Power accrues not to those who use language for the purpose of reasoning, but to those who use it as an instrument of forceful definition. George Lakoff has some interesting things to say about this process (and how to counter it) in his latest book.

But it's not just presidential politics. I find it amazing, for instance, that the RIAA has managed to turn "sharing" into a dirty word.

The point of this post, however, is to reference this site, the purpose of which is to "reclaim the term 'hacking' for the good guys--innovators who explore and experiment, unearth shortcuts, create useful tools, and come up with fun things to try on their own."

Lots of neat publications there.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Chop up a film, put it back together

Check out this cool contest, courtesy the good folks at free culture.

If I get my shit together, I may make an IJG entry for this. I've been meaning to make videos for some of our stuff anyway...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

How to prevent the kids who are not alright from stealing the candy of the kids who are...

Man, I love Halloween.

My favorite one of these is the clown in the van.

The kids may be alright, but they're oversexed

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I can't think of any context less erotic than the aftermath of an election that revolves around two wrinkled rich white geezers:

I can only hope that there is some truth to the stereotype that Republicans are frigid and repressed (and thus unlikely to participate in this, er, drive).

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Kids Are Alright

This supports my contention that kids have more common sense than most adults.

Now if only they could really vote.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How 'bout that spittle?

Anybody notice the buildup of froth at the corner of the president's mouth tonight as he regurgitated the ready-made phrases that had been prepared for him by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney?

A perfect metaphor for how the Bush campaign is (fingers crossed here) starting to come apart at the seams.

And Larry King--of all people!--actually had a poignant question for Rudy Guiliani: if Kerry really represents a position so far outside of the mainstream in America, how is it that he can be doing so well in the polls?

One other thing: a sign seen in the background during MSNBC's coverage of the debate. It read: "Screw Iraq, I Need a Job!"

And so say we all.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

An oldie but goodie...

I just came across an interesting and underemphasized point on the RIAA lawsuits: “What would be obscene (and immoral on good Kantian principles) would be for the government to prosecute a few 'copyright violators' selectively, as an example to others. If they are going to actually enforce the NET Act, they ought to go after all ten or twenty million of us-an attempt to do which would, of course, bring the entire justice and prison systems to a state of complete paralysis. Selective enforcement of a law is unconstitutional (since it violates equal protection) and unjust; a law that can only be enforced selectively is itself unjust.” Though Steven Shaviro made this point almost two years ago, I haven't seen or heard it anywhere else. In other words, it hasn't really entered the debate.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

In Canada They're Called "Smarties"

Earlier this week Bush mocked Kerry by saying that the latter could "debate himself." The administration got a lot of mileage out of that one, but what a sad comment on their attitude toward intelligence. I mean, I get the joke, but isn't this also a roundabout way of trashing introspection, deliberation, critical consciousness? Shouldn't we have the ability to "debate ourselves" before making any important decision? Otherwise, aren't we just going through the motions?

Speaking of the role of intelligence in this campaign:

Scientists Appear to Tilt Toward Kerry

"First came the report accusing the Bush administration of politicizing science. Then came the letter from a bipartisan group of Nobel laureates endorsing John Kerry for president.

Now, from laboratories, classrooms, and boardrooms, comes Scientists and Engineers for Kerry, a group of researchers intent on unseating President Bush. Its goal: to recruit scientists and students to write letters and deliver speeches supporting the Kerry campaign."

Kelly Field, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1

And then there's this great piece by David Corn. A sample: "The Bush team has done a marvelous job of infantilizing the campaign. With Bush the Big Daddy you will be safe; with Kerry the Big Weenie, you are in peril. It’s that simple, and Bush and his lieutenants push simplicity as the ultimate virtue. They promote strength and steadfastness as the Olympian ideals—regardless of the ends to which these traits are applied—and deride thought, analysis and re-evaluation as evidence of impotence." And: "In my darker moments, I’ve often said that human interaction doesn’t evolve all that much past high school. In this campaign, the Bush clique is doing all it can to prove this theory correct. But it is the rest of the kids—I mean, the voters—who will determine if the politics of derision, big lying, fear mongering, simplicity and immaturity will work."

Smart guy.

Monday, September 27, 2004

New York, New York

Gotta be brief but before I forget:

The IJG will be on WNYC this coming Wednesday evening. We'll be featured in a program of large ensemble music played during John Schaefer's New Sounds program.

Even though I still haven't figured out the trick of making this group financially lucrative, getting on New Sounds is something of a personal milestone for me; the show was an important source of new music for the pimply-faced suburban high school kid that I used to be. And although I don't get to listen now that I'm in LA, I'll bet it's still one of the best programs of its kind. (Don't believe the hype: L.A.'s "Morning Becomes Eclectic" is one of the most overrated new music shows ever.)

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Eyes Have It

Did Rembrandt have extropia? Some scholars think so.

My favorite quotation from this piece: "[Rembrandt's condition] illustrates that disabilities are not always disabilities. They may be assets in another realm."

What a Difference Three Days Make

Apparently, according to whatever the latest polls are, Bush and Kerry are now neck-and-neck. At last, it seems, Kerry is starting to focus his attacks. Yesterday's speech to National Guard folks in Las Vegas was apparently pretty scathing; today's press release has Kerry stating: “It is clear:  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have mismanaged every aspect of the war in Iraq." Even that is putting it lightly, but anyway this statement is much more relevant than having to engage the Vietnam issue.

At least it's more relevant for people like this lady: "A woman wearing a T-shirt with the words 'President Bush You Killed My Son' and a picture of a soldier killed in Iraq was detained Thursday after she interrupted a campaign speech by First Lady Laura Bush."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mal: Adroit

One of several things on the jukebox today: Mal Waldron's The Quest, recorded in 1961. With Waldron on piano and compositions, Eric Dolphy on alto and clarinet, Booker Ervin on tenor, Ron Carter on cello, Joe Benjamin on bass, Charlie Persip on drums.

The IJG has grown so much over the last year that it was a nice change when this last tour forced me to revisit the quintet format (because of space considerations at one of our gigs). To get in the mindset for that I started listening to a lot of small groups again, and Waldron's on this recording is one of the best I've come across. One might anticipate certain problems before checking them out. Ervin and Dolphy together, one might assume, would echo the intensity of each other's playing. Carter and Benjamin together would produce an excess of low frequency. But these fears are unjustified: it all works.

The tunes themselves are focused, minimalistic, haunting. There is an "unfinished" or "sketch-like" quality to many of them, but it doesn't register as a deficiency. In the end the quality of the tunes and the quality of the players makes it difficult to tell where the lead sheet ends and the improvisation begins.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

You've got to be kidding me...

How is it that an election that should be a slam dunk in the Democrat's favor could possibly be going the way the polls claim it is? It's true that with each Bush fuckup the media tends to get quickly bored, even after an initial flurry of attention (is anyone even talking about Abu Ghraib anymore?). But Kerry / Edwards should be picking up each and every one of these stories and hammering them home. I mean, this stuff is gold! A stolen election, a superstitious and inept commander-in-chief, a war based on lies, a rising casualty list, a perversion of language that would shock even Orwell, etc., ad nauseum.

Siva Vaidhyanathan recently suggested that the Killian memos (assuming they turn out to be forgeries) could actually have been planted by the Bush campaign. I'll take that suspicion to a ridiculous extreme and wonder aloud if Bush isn't somehow getting Kerry to take a dive in this election. That's a completely outlandish idea, I admit, but at the moment it's no more outlandish to me than the idea that Bush could actually be ahead.

Of course, there's also the question of how reliable the polls actually are.