Bundy in Captivity: In America, “culture” is a crap argument.

Now that it appears that the standoff in Oregon has already turned for the deadly worse and is due to get bloodier, we really need to put a lid on this “culture” thing.

If you live in America, unless there are some serious economic special cases, you are rich. You are educated. And most importantly, you have access to any number of different forms of transportation that can allow you to live anywhere you like. In or outside of America.

All of which is to say: if you insist that your actions are somehow normal or acceptable within the boundaries of your “culture,” that’s a crap argument. No, a mid-Westerner is not appreciably different from a New Yorker. A cattle rancher is not different from a web designer. What differences may occur between these demographic groups is not about their life. It’s about their life-“style.” They all chose to make a conscious choice about who they are and what they do.

We cannot continue to excuse bad behavior because of “culture.”


Rochester Jazz Fest: Point of Order: What the Hell is “Jazz?”

The dissection and analysis of Rochester’s biggest festival, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival continues. And I for one couldn’t be happier. Its wonderful beyond words for a person who has been so active in the musical community (admittedly years ago) to see a really vibrant debate on a genuinely successful musical endevour. Most any musician in this town is bored to tears of the foot-shuffling, “we have no music scene” mope-fest that predominates most of the discussion much of the time.

@roccitynews (City Newspaper)’s Mary Anna Towler discusses the crowds and selection of music, much the topic here and on the @13wham news blog with @rachbarnhart (Rachel Barnhart) and @scarroll13 (Sean Carroll) weighing in. But I had to point out one bit of silliness that has permeated the discussion that Mrs. Towler addresses:

Nugent’s talking about adding more events – but he says they’d likely be free outdoor-stage events. Ummm… I like the outdoor events. But they are trending more toward rock – or jazzy music so loud that it feels like rock. And while I’m all for as much rock as we can stage in the summer – and all for doing whatever we can to attract young adults – too many loud, rock-like events could change the tone of the Jazz Festival. This year, frankly, we seemed to be at a tipping point.

Oh, boy. Not to get all music history on you, but Jethro Tull and King Crimson played jazz festivals all the time. Is Spiro Gyra a rock act or a jazz act? What the hell is Bela Fleck’s music? Dave Matthews? Steely Dan?

The list goes on and on, but you see the problem. There is no “Jazz.” There is only a sliding scale between a huge variety of genres, nor should we shy away from that panoply of sounds if we want a real jazz festival. Yes, there’s room for a Dixieland band and a Glen Miller tribute, if that’s what some people insist on seeing as “jazz.” Or whatever that guy in the beret and sunglasses insists is “jazz.” Fine. But not at the expense of the rest. And most jazz festivals are outdoors, from Newport to Monterrey.

I think that if the festival was allowed to spill out onto East Avenue, we could cater to more sounds. There’s buskers o’plenty out there anyway, why not setup small tents (like the $75 Sears canopy size) for smaller acts as well? I want more music, not easily defined music, and as much of it outside as possible.


Are Movies Getting Crappier, or Just More Expensive?

One of my favourite haunts on the Internet is, where Nathan posts some of the coolest charts anywhere on the Internet. As a political blogger, I’m very used to looking at trendlines for public opinion, economic indicators and the like. But when I get to use some of that – admittedly limited – analytical prowess to view completely different types of data, its a real treat. For example:

Visual evidence that movies are getting worse.

Nathan’s contention is that, because the polarization increases over the years, that means that the movies are getting worse. The theory being that if everybody loved it, the movie must have been better.

That would probably be true if there were no other factors involved. But I rather think that the price of the movie – and its attendant expectation level – is also a powerful driver of the division. If I get to watch a movie for three bucks on a Saturday afternoon, I’m less likely to require it to blow me out of my seat. But if I have to shell out eight bucks? I better get a fucking cameo.

Which brings up another big thing for me: comedies should be no more than an hour and a half, period. After that, you’ve just overstayed your welcome and played the joke out. But I think the pressure to make a movie worthy of the huge sums they make us pay compels directors to include more of the movie than should have been.


My New Favourite Author: Thomas Pynchon

I confess to being more than a picky reader, which prevents me from being all that well-read. I pick up a book in the store and randomly flip to a page in the book. If I don’t like the way the words sound, I don’t buy the book because I know I can’t read it. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I’ll never get Hemingway and his boorish eight-word sentences. It’s like getting smacked in the face with beef.

But then there are authors. Amazing poets that really send me away from myself and into their worlds. Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Inherent Vice, appears to be one such work of fiction. At the risk of getting sued by Penguin Press, let me give you but one sample of the delicious words that keep me turning the pages of this book:

Club Asiatique was in San Pedro, opposite Terminal Island, with a filtered view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge. At night it seemed covered, in a way protected, by something deeper than shadow – a visual expression of the convergence, fron all around the Pacific Rim, of numberless needs to do business unobserved.

Glassware behind the bar, which might in some other type of saloon have been found too dazzling, here achieved the smudged cool glow of images on cheap black-and-white TV sets. Waitresses in black silk cheongsams printed with red tropical blossoms glided around on high heels, bearing tall narrow drinks decorated with real orchids and mango slices and straws of vivid aqua plastic molded to look like bamboo. Customers at tables leaned toward each other and then away, in slow rhythms, like plants underwater. House regulars drank shots of hot sake chased with iced champagne. The air was dense with smoke from opium pipes and cannabis bongs, as well as clove cigarettes, Malaysian cheroots, and correctional-system Kools, little glowing foci of awareness pulsing brighter and dimmer everywhere in the dusk. Downstairs, for those nostalgic for Macao and the joys of Felicidad Street, an exclusive fantan game went on day and night, as well as mah-jongg and dollar-a-stone Go in various alcoves behind the beaded curtains.

Doesn’t tell you much about the story, in fact, it doesn’t tell you shit. It’s just the words – the images. The way they fit together in two paragraphs and tell the whole story of a place in California. I guess I know who I’ll be looking up after I’m done with this book. Thank you, Rolling Stone!


A Burr in the Saddle, . . Again

When are Republicans going to get that you can’t just use a rock and roll song without at minimum earning the commentary of the original rocker? John McCain had John Mellencamp. Now the Minority Whip, Eric Cantor has Aerosmith up in arms over his use of Back in the Saddle.

And am I wrong? It seems to me that if anyone would be on the side of DRM and the “rights” of corporations, it should be the Republicans. How could you be so stupid as to not have gotten the performance rights before releasing a video to YouTube?


News Updates for Wednesday

We finally figure out the obvious and start buying banks, Gene Simmons buys a record company, and masturbation becomes a healthy ((not to mention natural and zesty)) enterprise in this latest of news roundups for DFE. Lets whip out some stories, shall we?

  • Buying jets with bailout money is for pussies. How about this: take bailout money, then host a conference call filled with influential business leaders and lobbyists to try to break the back of the Employee Free Choice Act. Why not take taxpayer money and then use it to spend on lobbying politicians? And so you can break the bank of the unions that fight for the taxpayers you just bilked?
  • The Obama Administration sees the banking industry sliding farther and farther into trouble and it’s beginning to look more and more obvious that some “nationalization,” or the government buying a controlling interest in distressed banks, may be necessary. As a side note, see Dean Baker for why shareholders of bankrupt banks actually make out quite well in such a scenario. Hint: a few bucks for paper worth nothing is a good thing.
  • Corning expects that of the 3,500 jobs they’re cutting back across the enterprise, 650 of them will be local jobs. Bad news, people. I feel for ya.
  • Peanut butter recalls continue. It was reported last night no less than twelve incidents at the offending company where testing revealed traces of salmonella and they sent the stuff to market anyway.
  • Gene Simmons announced on his website that he’s starting up a new Universal Records company in Canada, eh? Can’t wait to see Gene in full KISS regalia on the Canadian $5!
  • It’s been a long couple months for Toyota. In addition to posting it’s first annual loss in its history, now they need to recall a million vehicles for defective seat belts.
  • Calling all mad hatters! If you thought the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter was fun, get ready for the long-term effects of corn syrup laced with mercury. Yessiree, Bob! Bad news: you may go insane or this may have something to do with the increase in Autism. Good news: you’ll more easily be able to find your way home after you’re diagnosed with mercury poisoning.
  • People are flocking to small business ownership as a way to avoid the layoffs going around right now. Why you would think that selling pizza would be a way to save yourself is beyond me, but interesting, nonetheless.
  • Finally, mixed news for the porn industry: studies show that masturbation among teenagers increases the risk of prostate cancer, yet masturbation among the 50-something set actually decreases it. I guess based on the bell curve, I’m free to whack it whenever I want.

Why Doesn’t Someone in America do Something Like This?

Inner Space Boy reports today about a group of German artists spreading mayhem in the advertising world of Berlin, defacing models and paying tribute to the immortal John Carpenter movie – entirely misunderstood and underappreciated by the non-geek set – They Live.



Do Kids in Cotes du Rhone Think the Local Stuff is Piss Water?

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, LENNDEVOURS is a great semi-local blog that discusses wines and wine making. There’s some really fascinating stuff that’s totally worth a read. You can check out their stuff right here on this blog, in the Blog Updates widget to the right.

But this article by Evan Dawson on why wine continues to have an elitist stigma in this country got me to thinking. He’s right that one reason that wine is so ubiquitous in Europe is because there are so many wine regions that if you live in France, you’re probably right by a great winery. If wine is everywhere around you and people you know work at wineries, there’s probably going to be a certain obviousness about drinking wine. But does that mean drinking the wine from your own region?

And that made me think of Genesee Beer, whose work is cherished in other parts of the country but not here. We’re major beer drinkers here in Rochester, yet the local stuff gets short shrift. Personally, while I don’t drink much beer these days, I always liked Twelve Horse Ale when they still made it.

So, do the kids in Bordeaux have the same hang ups about their local concoction? And do androids dream of electric sheep ((It’s a book reference))? I dunno. Just extemporaneous blogging, here.


Pure Rage

Minneapolis has been the site of some of the most intense protesting America has seen in a long time.  Video shot from amongst the protesters getting hit with tear gas and shock grenades recalls images more familiar in France or Russia than in the United States.

And Rage Against the Machine has done it’s part to incite its fans to protest, as well.  They first tried to play an impromptu performance outside the RNC that was dispersed by police.  And last night, their concert ended in another spontaneous protest in the streets of Minneapolis.

Take it for what it’s worth.  But personally, I think change requires many levels of pressure to accomplish.


Introducing Jamie Piazza!

There’s a new blogger in town, here in DFE land, and his name is Jamie Piazza.  His first post is an interesting republication of an article about the legendary gods of Goth, The Cure, and the controversy surrounding their song Killing an Arab. How timely in so many ways!  Maybe it’s a good thing to remember that anti-Arab hate is not a new or original thing, born solely of a misplaced anger over 911.

Go check him out and say hello!


Highway to Hell

I’ve never been all that big a fan of AC/DC, though I did see them at Sars-stock (AKA, The Rolling Stones and Friends benefit for Toronto). Still, they’re a bedrock Rock-n-Roll music making machine that deserves plenty of respect. Or at least, they used to. Now, they’re living in Wally World:

Report: New AC/DC Album To Be Wal-Mart Exclusive

AC/DC’s next studio album will be exclusively sold at Wal-Mart stores in the United States, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The as-yet-untitled Columbia album, which, as previously reported, was produced by Brendan O’Brien, is expected in the fall.


Happy Trails, Albert Hoffman

What does it say that the man who invented acid lives to be 102? Probably nothing, but I’m glad this man got to live a long, long life. He changed my life, like so many others, and I’ll never hear Yes Close to the Edge the same way again. Thanks, Al.

Father of LSD takes final trip – World –

The father of LSD and the first person to experience an “acid trip”, Albert Hoffman, has died aged 102.

Swiss-born Hoffman was renowned by chemists, pharmacists and hippies the world over for stumbling across the world’s first synthesised hallucinogen, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), in 1938.