Monday May 9, 2011

Readin Thrasher with John Cardiel

John's as big a fan of skating as anyone on Earth. If this doesn't make your day and remind you to lighten up and enjoy the ride, nothing will.

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Sunday April 17, 2011

face palm

Sunday March 6, 2011

out shooting bands

So I'm going through some of the spin-offs from a associative listening session and I see the Bowerbirds Bur Oak video shot in a candy store and I'm very impressed (other vids of Bowerbirds are super well produced, someone has a video-nerd friend). 

So as I'm going through the next band, Delta Spirit on YouTube and they have a song filmed on the Powell Street CableCar by this same video production crew. 

I like the style. It's what I imagine I'd do. So now I'm on the Take Away Shows website looking around and they've got an Iron and Wine song I've never heard, plus they have the Antlers performing, which was kinda surreal. I'm telling you, as the camera panned over the doll parts and I heard that Hospice music I was like, "Do I want to know what this guy looks like? Do I want them to become a regular band?" I mean, Hospice is probably the most agressive and private music I've heard since "in the aeroplane over the sea" and it's freaking scary. 

Anynow, I could go on, because there's Vic Chesutt and Fleet Foxes and well, this isn't a music blog. Just watch out for the pre-roll ads, since they can be jarring.

Monday February 7, 2011

The Groupon commercial

I was watching the SuperBowl at the house of a rich lawyer on top of a hill in Oakland and when the Groupon ad came on and when Tim Hutton popped his line about the fish I laughed out loud. It was brilliantly arch and subtle and not something I'd expected during the SuperBowl.

In any case I was actually surprised to see the reaction. I guess I shouldn't be. But when some people at work who I respect made the same groaning dismissals of the commercial I started to sense that "group think" was creeping in on this one and was really tempted to blast a rant. It's not a good idea, in my opinion, to blast your opinion on these cultural matters at work, so I didn't. But I thought I might as well share it with the internet!

The commercial is funny to me. It's offensive to others (including the Chinese government). Hmm. I think I know why they think it's offensive but I don't think they know why I think it's funny, so that's what I'm going to write. One thing that has really bugged me since doing a lot of traveling is how westerners (even those that travel a lot) patronize and exoticize and basically exploit people from poorer areas. It's not malicious, since the people doing it are often sensitive and politically correct. It's just the result of a sense of wonder, which isn't bad, but it is still dehumanizing in most cases. I've done it plenty.

The primary response I took in regarding the commercial is that it makes light of the situation in Tibet. Yes it does. Are Tibetans so bereft that they are off limits as a source of humor? I would hope not. I'm sure they don't think about themselves that way. I actually don't think I'm going to be able to show anyone who thought it was offensive that it was funny. So if that includes you, this will just end up getting you pissed off at me too. I could give a shit.

I think people who got offended by it had this happen to them as they watched it:

Commercial comes on with Tim Hutton and beautiful shots of Tibet. Instant concern is swelling. Then comes "their very way of life is threatened" and BANG! the pangs of colonialist guilt hit hard. But right after this pang of guit comes a lightening twist that misses the mark because the natural reaction to the guilt is to try to react by showing how much you care, not laughing. Here's some internal dialog:

"Hey, I care about Tibet and Groupon is acting vaguely culturally insensitive toward Tibet. In fact there are lots of Americans who need to be sensitized to the situation in Tibet, and for 2 seconds I thought this might be happening during the SuperBowl (yay!) but this ad seems to not do that (boo!) but it goes further to also to make fun of the very "consciousness raising" PSAs that I wish were shown during the SuperBowl."

Of course the ad doesn't say threatened by who, and primarily Tibetans are threatened by Chinese, but whenever you show a non-modernized culture that is still hanging around and say it's threatened, "culturally aware" westerners will assume it is their big bad Hollywood-driven culture that is threatening it. There are two big problems here.

The first problem I see is the idea that one culture can threaten another, as if they were battleships meeting in the ocean. Complete bullshit. cultures don't exist as entities, they are generalizations about what a group of people are thinking and feeling and doing. Culture is a by-product, not an actor. Living people are in charge of making decisions for themselves. If a kid in Nepal wants a leather jacket like the one that Marlon Brando wore in The Wild One, that's his choice. He makes millions of individual decisions about how he wants to live his life. That's culture.

I got really sick of this culture war bullshit when I was traveling in India where you hear a lot of hand-wringing about "cultural oppression" and so on. You don't like what is on TV? Turn it off. Ideals you hold dear loosing out to debased notions? If they're so great, others should be able to see their value. Why don't you learn to help sell your ideals to others instead. Each person hosts a marketplace of ideas and hopefully is mostly free to choose the ones that appeal to them.

Granted, soldiers marching in and smashing 2000yr old Buddha statues is one example of the shit that must stop in Tibet. But I doubt this is what is driving all the outrage.

The second problem is that if you feel guilty, you should do something about it instead of spouting politically correct crap. "Doing something about it" is not chastising others for making you feel guilty. Try doing something about it and you may find that it isn't so black and white. There are really no bad guys to go attack. Where are the good guys to defend? Go ahead. I dare you. I knew a lot about Buddhism before I hung out with some Tibetan monks my assumptions about what they were like as people were completely wrong

I got similar schooling when I was pretty young. I was a whiteboy from the suburbs and went to work on a farm in western Washington. I was basically in "Indian country". The rules were reservation rules, even when you were on the reservation. There was a lot of stuff to be scared of. There was a lot of anger. Cheap cigs by the carton was the only benefit. I was overcome by exoticism and had to have the romantic notions beat out of me. The main thing I learned about rich versus poor from that experience was that being poor sucks and poor people want to be rich. I've been to a LOT of poor areas of the world and haven't seen anything to contradict this. This includes many Tibetans that I've talked to.

When you romanticize a poor persons "culture" you're basically saying, "Yeah, I'm rich and I have it way better than you but darn it, I hope you don't get rich too. I hope you can keep you "culture" intact and I hope my pursuit of getting richer and richer doesn't in some way make you just a little bit richer and change your ancient, romantic and colorful culture."

The Groupon commercial is crafted very carefully to MAKE FUN of colonialist guilt. It's not something that is done very often in our culture. That's why I loved it so much. See, uh, Team America: World Police to get an idea of what's going on here. If you don't think that movie is funny, you could be suffering from this over-romanticized exploitative world view. The commercial didn't exploit Tibetans, you do by taking offense.

Tuesday January 11, 2011

Very early Kodachrome

Wednesday December 15, 2010

even infiniter

Here's Vi Hart's YouTube channel. I was tipped to Infinity Elephants and she's got "it", so I'm linking to it.

Tuesday November 30, 2010


This is, according to one of the commenters on TC, "How to get a machine to imitate a human imitating a machine imitating a human playing a drumkit. Brilliant."

How To Turn Google Translate Into Google Beatbox

Yes indeed.

well, now first of all...

May 2011

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