Thursday, June 30, 2005

Brief Film Review - "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"

I haven't been 100% thrilled with Wes Anderson's work. I rather liked Rushmore, but The Royal Tenenbaums left me more annoyed than thrilled. Despite some excellent performances and clever ideas (it's basically a surreal, Salingeresque romp among an eccentric New York family), Tenenbaums felt self-indulgently cutesy rather than deep or purposeful. The Life Aquatic received very mixed reviews on its initial release, and I was prepared for more "too cute to care" filmmaking.

I am delighted to report that The Life Aquatic is a surprisingly generous film anchored (no pun intended) by Bill Murray's beautifully understated performance as a fading, Cousteau-like oceanographer and documentarian. Murray has an extraordinary gift for playing aging stars (he single-handedly saved Lost In Translation from dissolving into its own self-pleasure), and here he manages the difficult task of portraying a very famous man who is by turns acerbic and charming, self-effacing and self-indulgent, pompous and pigheaded and childish and wise - often in the same scene. You can see and feel the ravages of time in both his eyes and the way he steps back and observes the dramas unfolding around him. He's grieving the loss of both his best friend (eaten by an unknown sea creature he refers to as a "Jaguar Shark,") and his wife (Anjelica Huston), who has left him (possibly to return to her ex, a wealthy and sleazy oceanographic rival played with smarmy enthusiasm by Jeff Goldblum).

Much has been made of the surreal, candy-colored world of The Life Aquatic, and the film is a joy to behold. Anderson makes no attempt to depict anything like a real undersea film; this is a production designer's wet dream, a phantasmic, crazy-quilt world of childhood dreams and adult disillusion. Yet through it all Anderson manages to maintain a warm edge to the procedings; even at it's most outrageous (a violent pirate attack and a deadpan Special Ops-style rescue) you never lose your attachment to the characters.

The Life Aquatic is too bizarre and quirky for me to recommend it without qualification, and I can already predict which of my friends would like it and which ones wouldn't (and no, I won't say). The film has some very funny lines and situations; let's not forget that Murray is a deadpan comic genius. If you have a high tolerance for the oddball, this one is definitely worth your time and energy.

Brief Film Review - "Holes"

Okay, time to start living up to an earlier promise to at least attempt to say something useful about every film I see. These will almost always be films I've checked out on DVD, since I never seem to get around to seeing films in the theater anymore (and there's very little out that I care about that much).

Holes (2003) was adapted for the screen by Louis Sachar from his own prizewinning (and very popular among the pre-teen set) 1998 novel of the same name. This one got great reviews when it came out, even among discriminating, intelligent critics like those at Salon, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and the Chicago Reader. So I felt pretty confident I was in for a treat.

Well, I can happily report it is indeed terrific, and far stranger and more resonant than I expected. Holes is the story of one Stanley Yelnats, a young teenager mistakenly convicted of stealing a pair of shoes belonging to a famous basketball player. Stanley is sent to a prison camp in the desert where he and the other young inmates are forced to work in the blazing sun digging 5' deep and 5' across holes in the hard desert floor as a way to "build character."

Holes is also a story about a family curse dating back to Latvia, a famous Old West Bandit named "Kissing Kate," buried treasure, "God's Thumb," and an inventor (Stanley's father) trying haplessly to develop an antidote to foot odor. If this all sounds a bit wacky, I assure you it's really not; Holes is, at its heart, both a serious story of friendship triumphing over adversity and a sly commentary on the way the criminal justice system breeds abuse.

That's not to say the film isn't both entertaining and funny. Holes unfolds deliberately, spending a lot of its time observing the way the other juvenile inmates interact with each other and their "caretakers" (Jon Voight, wonderfully cracked, simpering Tim Blake Nelson, and a deliciously venal Sigourney Weaver as the warden). Best of all, Holes avoids both the treacly sentimentality and the ironic, "hipper-than-thou" detachment so endemic in children's films, especially Disney product. The film plays for real and it plays like it matters -- and it works beautifully. Highly recommended.

Addendum: On watching this with my 9-year-old son.

My son hasn't seen many films not geared to very young kids, and this one gave him quite a ride! He spent some of the film watching intently, other parts leaping up and down, and still other parts (scary parts include a racially-motivated lynching and a death-by-lizard) hiding behind the couch. At one point, he said, "I don't know if this is a good film for me. It's kind of weird." (I LOVE that he's sensitive and aware enough to be able to make these judgements out loud.)

I paused it and asked him if he wanted to turn it off. He thought about it for a moment and decided, "We can just watch a little bit more and see what happens." Needles to say, we watched the rest of the film and he liked it a lot -- although I think if he watches it again in a few years he'll understand it better. But it IS quite a ride!


I've been spending a bit of time at Screenhead recently, and sharp-eyed readers will note that I have added it to my Blogroll. They call themselves "an online review of funny shit," but they're broader than that and they often feature extraordinary art, online films, and flash animations you're unlikely to find elsewhere. They tend towards the dark and twisted (which works for me), and what's most impressive to me is the scope and range of talent on display in cyberspace.

Some particular standouts:

Kid Koala's Basin Street Blues is a beautiful song and a melancholy animated video -- a very controlled and haunting work. Polite Winter is a creepy but beautiful online art project, as well. And definitely check out Le Building, which is kind of a compressed Triplets of Belleville on acid.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sarah Suicide - UPDATED

October 25, 2015 -- Her 3 amazing performances can be viewed here:
Sumeray is now an actress/comedian in the UK. Her website is here:

November 8, 2005 -- The magician's name is Sarah Sumeray, and unfortunately the links on her site have been down for months. [Dead links removed].

I'm not the first to note the tendency of magicians and their tricks to be lame and pointless [dead Magic Circle Jerk links removed]. Here's an amazing antidote: Sarah Suicide (Click on the "Suicide" link). This is absolutely the most convincing presentation of an old classic I've ever seen. I have no idea who Sarah is (the site is UK-based) but I count myself a huge fan just on the basis of this one effect.

If you have a weak stomach, you may not like this.

This is one of the most visceral effects I've seen since David Blaine freaked out Carson Daly, which you can check out here (Click on the appropriate link, and while you're there be sure to also check out the footage of the legendary Cardini). [Dead link. Here's Cardini's amazing performance.]

* Thanks to Steve Pellegrino, who shut down Magic Rants and repoened his doors with the all new MagiCentric, for the incredible Sarah Suicide link. Steve also has a good link to magician and self-proclaimed "psychic" Uri Geller's humiliating 1973 appearance on "The Tonight Show." Unbeknowst to Geller, Carson consulted with magician and "skeptic" James Randi, who made sure that Geller couldn't cheat. The result? No psi on display that night.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Petals Around the Rose

Petals Around the Rose is a tricksy little puzzle that has apparently been around for years, but I just heard about it so I'm passing it along. It's devilishly clever, or devilishly simple, depending on your point of view. It only took me a minute or so to crack, once I realized that the name of the game matters.

Once you solve it, head over to the Fraternity of Petals Around the Rose to register yourself as an uber-geek. While there, check out the story of how Bill Gates tackled the problem back in 1977.

Pull quote from the September/October, 1977 issue of Personal Computing:

The rotten kid [Gates] must have had two dozen rolls, with answers, committed to memory by the time this discussion came up. ("Kid," because he ordered a Shirley Temple at lunch one day just a few months ago, and drank it before the awestricken eyes of his tablemates, some of whom realised that they were at least twice Bill's age. He had taken leave of his undergraduate courses at Harvard to lead this little company, Microsoft, which is creating BASIC and FORTRAN, etc... interpreters and compilers for various microcomputers. No applications software in their product line yet, just system packages that are already making them famous and may at length make them rich. *Sigh.*)

* Thanks to Rick Carruth's Magic Bullets blog for the link. Carruth's blog covers "Magic and The Marketing of Magic," although he shares my tendency to stray over whatever interests him. Carruth also runs the Street Magic Bullets site, which includes the complete archives to the Magic Roadshow Journal of Magic. These are filled with great advice and ideas; well worth checking out if you're interested in working professionally as a magician.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

"The Aristocrats"

Have you heard about The Aristrocrats? This documentary, produced by Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller), features over 100 famous comics (including Robin Williams, Bob Saget, Chris Rock, and George Carlin) telling a single legendary -- and very very filthy -- joke. The film's tagline: "No nudity. No violence. Unspeakable obscenity."

Here's a clip of the South Park version. Warning: Very very filthy. Definitely NSFW!

And a SFW New York Times review of the film.

I first heard this joke about fifteen years ago when my very funny friend Joe Monti, a magician and comedian, told it to me at the Magic Castle. His delivery was exceptional; I literally haven't ever laughed so hard at any other joke, ever. I'm talking incapacitating laughter, continuing for a good five minutes.

If you have a high tolerance level, the potential is extraordinary. I'm DYING to see this...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Classic Psychedelic Story

There's a famous (in psychedelic circles) story about how pitcher Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while tripping on LSD back in 1970. I always heard that Ellis later recanted the story, but now apparently he's owning up to the whole thing, and there's a lovely article in the Dallas Observer all about Ellis, his colorful career, and his subsequent reinvention as a prison drug counselor and all-around nice guy. Nice to see at least one story confirmed at the source!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wow! Derren Brown Trips Out a Gamer!

English Mentalist and Hypnotist Derren Brown is one of the handful of geniuses working today. Though virtually unkown in the U.S., this talented performer has starred in numerous TV Specials and his own full-evening show. Brown has had a huge influence on a generation of magicians and psychic entertainers. His books Pure Effect and Absolute Magic are fantastic primers on how to make your performances more magical and memorable and should be on every magician's must-read list.

Just imagine you're in an arcade, playing a Zombie-shooting video game. You zone out for a moment, and when you next look around you're INSIDE the game! Here's an insane new Derren Brown clip that's bouncing around the web. In it, Brown purports to manipulate the lights on a video game to hypnotize a player...then leads the zoned-out player into a 3D simulation of the game and sets him loose!

And if you like this one, you can find more Derren Brown clips here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hip Hop Comments and Reactions

My last post generated some heated comments from Katterfelto and a couple of "Anonymous" posters. Ay Caramba!

The first Anonymous accuses me of saying somewhere in my post(s) that anyone who dislikes Hip Hop or Rap is necessarily a racist. I said nothing of the sort; to the contrary, I specifically said in my last post that it's fine to dislike a musical genre (and used opera as an example of a genre that doesn't work for me). It's when people dismiss a genre as valueless that I start looking for something deeper.

And, incidentally, when I said, I wonder if [Anonymous] would be so tolerant of Thelonious Monk if it were 1963? I wasn't refering to racial tolerance but rather to artistic tolerance. It's easy to love a long-accepted artistic genre; how much harder it is to find the "meat" in newer artistic forms. Improvisational Jazz (like Abstract Expressionism and Beat Poetry) was radical and alienating when it first showed up, and even today it remains fairly difficult to access. But at least no one's seriously arguing any longer about its worth.

Katterfelto accuses me of dissing opera (!) when all I said was that I don't personally like it. There's a difference between not liking a genre and dismissing it as worthless. I'm quite sure opera is a beautiful, deep art form filled with brilliant talents, it's just not to my taste.

In any case, I concede (slightly) and I back off the racist charge a bit. Many of the comments I hear from people who don't like Hip Hop and Rap -- that it is violent, misogynistic, and that it glorifies sexual promiscuity and conspicuous consumption -- are the same arguments previously used against Heavy Metal and before that good old Rock and Roll. So maybe I'm overstating the case.

That said, the willingness of many so-called Progressives to completely dismiss the possibility that there is any value to Rap and Hip Hop feels a little unclean, to me. Let's leave it at that.

Every musical genre is a language, and Hip Hop/Rap in particular is a very specific language with parameters different from most other music. It is well known that the younger you are the more easily you acquire new languages. Maybe that's why most major artistic breakthroughs seem to catch on among the young and only become mainstream when those young people grow up and become middle-aged adults fluent in the new language.

[The late Arther Koestler believed that the evolutionary concept called Paedomorphosis (also known as "Juvenilization") -- which is the notion that evolution happens through some useful evolutionary novelty that appears among the young and then carries over into adulthood -- applied equally to humans and their culture as to amphibians. Is Pop Culture, including Hip Hop, a Paedomorphic force?]

This is NOT the view taken by the original Anonymous (Don't you guys have some sort of name or handle?), who dismisses ALL Rap and Hip Hop as "talking over someone else's music." This view is simply ignorant and silly, and anyone who knows anything about the genre knows that it is a mischaracterization. Some hip hop uses sampling as an integral part of its pastiche, much of it uses wholly original music, and some uses atonal rhythm in lieu of melody (hence the frequent use of samples from avant-garde minimalists like Steve Reich and early Industrial pioneers Kraftwerk).

To the first commenter, I would recommend starting out with the widely acknowledged classics. Check online for lists of "top ten" Rap and Hip Hop albums. This is how I learned who's who and what's most highly regarded; look for the albums and artists who crop up consistently and look for reviewers who seem literate and intelligent. [Kudos once again to the web for the rise of orthogonal trust networks.]

And get over the language; much has been made in the mainstream press of the extensive use of the F-word and especially the N-word, and the truth is if you can't get past it you'll never "get" Hip Hop. A friend of mine recently told me he didn't approve of Hip Hop for just that reason; he doesn't approve of the use of the N-word. I tried to explain that "Nigger," and the related "Nigga," are broadly-used terms, meaning different things in different contexts (rather like that other versatile word, "fuck").

This site has a good overview of the etymology of the N-word, along with this summation:

Oxford Dictionary of New Words

Nigga / ’nig∂ / noun A Black man. A representation of American Black English pronunciation of the word nigger. This and other forms of nigger have been in use within the African American community and have been recorded in print since the twenties. However, recent usage of nigga, and its plural form niggaz, represents a conscious, politically motivated reclamation by blacks of the term nigger. This term, which had been regarded as typifying offensive and derogatory attitudes within the white community, was adopted by the black community as a form of self-assertion, with the aim of reducing the term’s derogation. (A similar development may be seen in the adoption of the word queer by the gay community…)

And here's an interesting review of Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy's book Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.

By the way, I want to thank everyone for reading and caring enough to post comments. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject of Hip Hop and Rap; I'm an outsider looking in and starting to grok the contours of the language. As I have become more attuned to the nuances of Hip Hop I have begun to encounter an increasingly dense set of cultural beliefs and trends which I am only now beginning to unpack. Stay tuned and be gentle; anything I post to this blog should be considered embryonic at best!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hip Hop - An Alternative View

Thanks to Anonymous (boy, he posts a lot of comments!) for this silly comment to my Hip Hop post:

I have to are dead wrong. I don't like hip-hop. I find it maddenly repetitive and uncreative. My opinion doesn't "betrays a subtle and unacknowledged dismissal of the power, intelligence, and creativity of the mostly-black Hip Hop community." I love Jazz. I love Soul. Both of which were and still are predominately black enterprises. Jazz is commonly considered the only original form of music to come out of America. I just think hip-hop is nothing more than glorified plaguerism. Call it "sampling" is still taking someone else's music and talking over it. I don't find that to be original or creative.

Let's take a closer look at this, shall we?

Anon is correct that his opinion doesn't "betrays [sic] a subtle and unacknowledged dismissal of the power, intelligence, and creativity of the mostly black Hip Hop community." There's nothing subtle or unacknowledged about his ignorance and dismissal. It's only surprising that he's willing to say it publicly (albeit anonymously).

The fact that he does supports one of the premises of my original post, that many of those who dislike Hip Hop think there's no "there" there. It's fine to dislike a major art form (personally, I can't really stomach opera), but to dismiss it in its entirety brands you as clueless at best. That's great that Anonymous loves a fifty-year-old musical genre; I wonder if he would be so tolerant of Thelonious Monk if it were 1963?

Jazz is commonly considered the only original form of music to come out of America.

Actually, Jazz, the Blues, and now Hip Hop and Rap have all been tagged as American originals.

I just think hip-hop is nothing more than glorified plaguerism [sic]. Call it "sampling" is still taking someone else's music and talking over it.

This sweeping mischaracterization illustrates better than my original post the kind of Hip Hop bashing I described. Thanks for providing a concrete example of the silly anti- Hip Hop rhetoric I've been talking about!

Monday, June 13, 2005

More on Hip Hop

In the Comments to my first big Hip Hop post, Katterfelto of The Magic Square takes issue with my "pronouncements from the Mount" style. He says:

I'd be able to take this with a little less of a grain of salt if you didn't present it so much as unimpeachable gospel.

Point taken. It's my blog, and I reserve the right to rant. Many of his arguments against my post will be taken up in a later post; this was merely "the opening shot across the bow."

I certainly didn't mean to suggest that every person over thirty hates Hip Hop or is racist, merely that the contempt for Hip Hop I've seen repeatedly (even among friends who are otherwise extremely progressive Lefties) often betrays a subtle and unacknowledged dismissal of the power, intelligence, and creativity of the mostly-black Hip Hop community. This is a form of "liberal racism" that is pernicious and hard to illuminate.

Much of this can be traced to the fact that people over thirty (and especially over forty) tend to consume and trust mainstream news sources in a way that young people don't anymore. In a previous post I covered the general problem with the mainstream press; as soon as they cover something you actually know about you notice how often they get things wrong. The story of Hip Hop has, until fairly recently, been one of demonization and sensasionalism. Only in the last few years or so (when it became clear that Hip Hop isn't going away anytime soon) have serious reviews of Rap and Hip Hop appeared -- and much of the coverage feels like grampa's attempt to be hip for young readers rather than serious, in-depth coverage.

Things are changing; the mainstream media will eventually be overtaken by the Hip Hop generation. I predict that such issues as racism and classism will have a very different face in twenty years, a face I hope to explore further in upcoming posts.

On-Line Picasso Project

Picasso was without serious question the most important painter of the twentieth century, and one of the key visual artists of any period. Just in case you're wondering what all the fuss is about, here's an incredible chronological record of Picasso's work. The main page takes a while to load, even with a fast connection, because it contains thumbnails of one painting for every year from 1889 (an amazing painting of a boy on a donkey done by the then eight-year-old prodigy) to 1973, the year Picasso died. What's more, click on any painting (1907's seminal Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, for instance), and up pops another page with, in this case, twenty-six more paintings from 1907. Click on the year instead of the painting and you get a very detailed biographical account of what was going on in that year.

It's an exhaustive and valuable archive; the man generated an awful lot of extraordinary work, and we're blessed to be able to peruse most of it online.

[Thanks to Grow-a-Brain for the link.]

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Micropayment Meme

I have a longstanding interest in the future of creative work -- who will pay for it, how, and will artists see any of the money. Much ink, both digital and otherwise, has been spilled on questions like: Is the availability of music on "free" download services like Limewire and Kaaza going to spell the end of the music industry? Will anyone be able to afford the studio time to produce a CD if it's only going to pop up for free the day after it's released?

Or, will the current system simply eliminate the greedy corporate middlemen and free up artists to produce and distribute their own content -- and thereby hold onto a much bigger share of the profits?

The mainstream media has trouble with file-sharing services, seeing them as a means by which millions of otherwise fine, upstanding citizens can commit mass piracy (read, theft). Along comes cartoonist Scott McCloud with a beautiful summation of his own history with music taping and downloading. He also describes how micropayments can work for comic book artists and other independent artists. Highly recommended for its clarity and wit.

And when you're done with that, check out Sean Barrett's detailed response.

I'm inclined to think that McCloud's approach will somehow win out in the long run. I-Tunes' .99 a song has always seemed ridiculously expensive for digital content, but I'd happily pay 10 cents a song, or $1.50, to download a fifteen-song CD. As Chris Anderson stated so clearly in his brilliant and seminal Long Tail article (ESSENTIAL READING! IF YOU HAVEN'T CHECKED IT OUT, DO SO NOW AND THEN COME BACK), you can compete with free, but only within reason.

Not only will more material be available to more people for less money, but artists will earn a bigger percentage of the pot, too. Ignore the naysayers; thanks to the web, the future of creativity looks very bright indeed!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hip Hop Racism - UPDATED

In a comment to my previous post, Anonymous refered me to this article from the Village Voice. The article covers an interesting side controversy; the endemic and largely unacknowledged racism towards Native Americans in our culture, and it's visible manifestation in the Hip Hop community. One can only hope that these are growing pains. The first Native American superstar will change everything overnight, but we're still waiting for him or her to emerge.

In the meantime, shame on Outkast for not manning up and apologizing publicly and vociferously.

UPDATE: Thanks to FK who sent this link to an interview with Native American Hip Hop artist Litefoot about Outkast and Hip Hop stereotyping. Stories like these help to illuminate the insidious "hidden" demeaning messages that often course through popular culture. I have seen huge improvements in my lifetime; I can remember when blacks and whites never appeared in the same commercials, gays existed solely to be the object of contempt or ridicule (sometimes both), and Native Americans only appeared on TV whooping it up in old John Wayne movies or crying for Mother Earth, like Chief Iron Eyes Cody (who was actually Italian).

We still have a ways to go, but the culture as a whole is much more sensitive and accepting -- and it will only get more so. My next Hip Hop post (whenever it arrives) will specifically address this issue.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hip Hop Culture -- The Opening Shot Across the Bow

It's quite fascinating to watch the reactions to Hip Hop music and culture among many of my friends and acquaintances. I'm going to generalize here for a moment, but I can roughly divide them into two camps. Camp One consists almost entirely of people under thirty. Indeed, pretty much every person under thirty I know is in Camp One. Camp One is the group that understands Hip Hop, that loves Hip Hop, that simply accepts Hip Hop as the fundamental cultural language in which they are living.

Camp Two, just about everyone over thirty, does not understand Hip Hop. More importantly, Camp Two consists of people who don't think there's any "there" there with Hip Hop, that there's nothing to understand. So Camp Two people not only don't understand Hip Hop culture, but they also don't understand that they don't understand. Camp Two has contempt for Hip Hop, its creators and, by extension, its fans.

In a sense, Camp Two people are little different from the naysayers who lamented Elvis' pelvis, who decried The Beatles' long hair, who saw the Devil in Heavy Metal. What's amazing to me is that many of them are yuppies who came of age under such social messages; they suffered hearing their own beloved subcultures demonized and spat upon, and they knew the true power that lay beyond what their parents and teachers could see. And yet these Camp Two folks can't (or won't) give Hip Hop the same benefit of the doubt.

Now, in order to disrespect an entire social movement in such a sweeping manner, it's necessary to also disrespect:

1. Youth -- Only a person who thinks young people are stupid could accept that their media of choice are stupid. Contempt for youth and their passions is a time-honored tradition within the maintsream in America; "kid culture," which begets mainstream culture, is always ignored when it's new. Later, when the "kids" grow up and become the next generation of yuppie journalists and tastemakers, the previously-marginalized culture (Rock and Roll, long hair, and MTV, as examples) enters the mainstream with nary a note of apology or reticence.

2. Blacks -- Again, only a person who is implicitly racist would accept the rap (no pun intended) that's pinned on black people for their music. The music is perceived as misogynistic and violent (some is, most isn't), and this being so, it then follows that it incites its fans to also be misogynistic and violent. This is an especially noticable viewpoint among people who consider themselves liberal and progressive and would be horrified at the notion that their reactionary dismissal of Hip Hop betrays a deeply racist worldview.

The standard liberal argument against Hip Hop (always confused with Rap, which is a tightly connected and similarly-misunderstood art form) is twofold. Part One says that Hip Hop encourages violence and demeans women. That this is untrue is of no concern to the smiling happy denizens of Camp Two. Part Two of the "Hip Hop is bad" argument is that the negative image of Black Men portrayed in Hip Hop is bad for the Black Community. As a strong proponent of Building Healthy Black Communities, Mr. Liberal Camp Two Dude can't help but see Hip Hop as anathema to Black Progress.

Unfortunately, the people of Camp Two have been fed bad information. There's a propaganda war out there to destroy Hip Hop culture (usually targeting Rap). This disinformation campaign is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the world's young, but it was quite effective in the early days. Anyone old enough to have been reading newspapers or watching TV news when Gangsta' Rap first hit (circa 1988 with NWA's explosive Straight Outta Compton and Public Enemy's seminal It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back) can remember the extraordinary demonization that went on in the mainstream media. Every other rapper was a cop killer, or a thug, or advocated beating and raping "ho's."

If you think Rap and Hip Hop is all shit, then the propaganda war worked. You've been effectively brainwashed. Nearly twenty years of creative work by some of the best and the brightest young, mainly black, artists is now easily dismissed as irrelevant, undeserving of our attention, indeed NOT the work of the best and the brightest but that of the society's dark forces, greedy non-talents debasing global culture.

Luckily, almost everyone under thirty simply accepts Hip Hop the way my generation accepts Rock and Roll. No amount of contempt from our parents and their mainstream culture could dissuade us from our passion; our passion was pure and sacred. And you know what? We were right. The music was worth our time and energy. It was a force to transform the world, both artistically and politically.

The same thing is happening today with Rap and Hip Hop. It is the lingua franca of people under thirty. They know what it is and they know how to use it.

And one more thing. Hip Hop is much much, more powerful than Rock and Roll.

More to follow.

Coming up next: Why and how Hip Hop is transforming the world.

Monday, June 06, 2005

How to Beat a DWI

If you live in Seminole County, Florida, you can beat a breathalizer-based DWI by asking for the software source code on which the breathalizer runs. It seems that the source code is a closely-guarded trade secret the manufacturers don't want to reveal. Since a defendent is entitled to know how the incriminating machine works, if the State can't provide the answer they have to throw out the case.

This argument has apparently been rejected in other Florida counties, but at least it's another angle to try. Busted for speeding? Ask for the source code for the radar detector!

Link (via BoingBoing)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Boing Boing

Sharp-eyed readers will note the addition of the legendary Boing Boing blog, "A Directory of Wonderful Things," to my blogroll at right. Boing Boing spun off from bOING bOING magazine (of course) and has been around since 2001. Co-founder Marc Frauenfelder was an editor at Wired; the other contributors inclued writer Cory Doctorow, and "tech culture journalist" Xeni Jardin.

Two good links I just found off Boing Boing:

1. Very funny modded Romance Novel covers. Titles include: The Cleavage of Mary Ann Pushup, Summer Heimlich, and a pic of a macho cowboy holding a rifle gracing the cover of Compensating for Something.

2. My old acquaintance Johnny Fox, Sword Swallower extraordinaire, has had to close The Freakatorium, his New York museum. Sad; I hope one day he finds an open-minded millionaire to sponsor a new location.

And don't forget to check out Boring Boring, "A Directory of Dull Things."

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Yikes! Almost another week without a post! Well, dammit, I've been busy!

Nothing really turned up this week that thrilled me enough to want to post about it, but a lot of little gems crop up all the time and here's a personal recommendation:

If you haven't checked out the Grow-a-Brain blog from my blogroll at right, do so now. This is consistently the most entertaining, informative, and often mind-boggling set of links I've found on the web. Real estate agent Hanan Levin's taste is excellent and broad; he covers a wide variety of subjects and always seems to locate informative, mind-altering, often poignant links. Updated daily.

Some Grow-a-Brain links I recommend: Mr. Twitcho, a raunchy but funny short animated film about life; a truly strange karaoke version of the Beatles' "Revolution #9"; New Scientist's list of Life's Top Ten Greatest Inventions; the only-in-San-Francisco International Clitoris Day; and the clever Ken Burns-like The Old Negro Space Program.