Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Unpacking This Is Going to Take Me a Lifetime

"The Ghost Dance was a technology. Literally, a technology is a systematic practice or knowledge of an art, and though we almost always apply the term to the scientific and mechanical, there is no reason not to apply it to other human-made techniques for producing desired results. Maybe the best definition would be: a technology is a practice or technique, or a device for altering the world or the experience of the world. To propose annihilating the inexorable march of history and the irreversibility of death was to propose a technology as ambitious as a moonwalk or a gene splice."

- River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West
Rebecca Solnit
p. 114

Opportunity in Adversity

So I was at Disneyland, staying at the Doubletree in Anaheim, and I read USA Today. What can I do?...

Realism and optimism are recession 'musts'

Plain Talk By Al Neuharth, USA TODAY Founder

You're getting all kinds of advice on how to survive this recession. Some is sound. Some is silly.

It's been my good fortune to have lived through 15 recessions and one depression in my 84 years. Based on those experiences, I suggest you not only will survive but ultimately thrive if you practice the proper mix of these two recession "musts":

• Realism.

• Optimism.

Reality is that we've been in a recession since last December, even though it took the National Bureau of Economic Research a year to figure it out. That reality means that if you haven't already done so, you should tighten your belt as much as necessary.

Optimism means you must understand that if you handle this problem properly, you can ride high on the wave of recovery and prosperity that follows every recession.

Tightening your belt does not mean putting money under the mattress. It means spending only what is necessary on necessities and funneling what you can into the future. The sooner the better.

That means investing now in everything worthwhile you can afford. New ideas of your own. New products. The best time to market anything new is during a recession.

We planned and launched USA TODAY during the 16-month recession of 1981-82. Because it was a popular new product, it rode the recovery in the late '80s to become the nation's No. 1 newspaper.

During the current recession, we opened the new NEWSEUM on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Because it is a popular new product, it will ride the recovery to become the No. 1 must-see attraction in the nation's capital.

If you invest in the future in time of recession, the best of times are ahead of you.
Other views on dealing with the recession:


"Right on, Al. People who keep their cool and invest in a reasonable mix of stocks and bonds will be the ones reaping rewards when the economy rebounds."

— Walter Updegrave, Ask the Expert columnist, CNNMoney.com

"Also, invest your time, to help the people overwhelmed by the recession, and stay positive about the leaders trying to get us out of this mess."

— Jane Bryant Quinn, columnist, Bloomberg.com

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Long Tailin' It


Blockbuster Openings, Lackluster Box Office
By Michael Cieply

"What a year for movie openings.

I mean, who could forget 'Twilight'? Teenagers screaming for free tickets outside the dual-theater Westwood premiere here. Mayhem in the malls. Girls thirsting for Robert Pattinson. Box-office projections growing bigger and bigger as online vendors sold out theater after theater.

It was amazing. When all is said and done, maybe 24 million tickets will be sold to that movie, based on current sales. That makes it almost as big as, what?

'Patch Adams,' the No. 10 movie of 1998. Or roughly the size of 'George of the Jungle,' which placed No. 13 the year before."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Looking back, in fact, 2008 may be remembered as the year when Hollywood succeeded in redefining the Big Event."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"It’s all great fun — and, in the heat of the moment, can seem tantalizingly real. Remember the high-heeled stampede toward 'Sex and the City'? What a romp! Cosmopolitans. Bus tours. Girls’ nights out.

Eventually, about 22 million tickets were sold. That puts it on a par with 'Steel Magnolias' in 1989 or 'The First Wives Club' in 1996 — movies that played to about the same number of viewers, but did so with considerably less noise."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[o.k., I LOVED seeing Twilight, because I saw it with my niece and that meant so much to me. But as a movie it was missing some pluck*. Thriller had so much more punch packed into 14 minutes.**]

* -- "pluck," is a word I just learned, or at least heard for the first time in this usage, when listening to some Canadian lady read the Émile Zola book Thérèse Raquin that my wife has in the car on cd. It's so peculiar -- pluck -- and "retro" as a colloquialism to no particular time...I wonder what the original french word is they've translated it from?

** -- y'know this isn't really true, but it just sounds like something a forty-something person should say in a blog. So I'm doing it in some kind of hip-to-be-square kinda way, y'know? It's bad and awkward like an "old" tape of Britney Spears on a Michael Jackson special. Do we want the blockbuster back?



Oh, she's got pluck in this one. That's for sure.

the twilight phenomenon

peace on earth

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Third Mind

Everyone wants to write a book. And now everyone can.

This seems sort of true, though who and what “everyone” means is certainly relative. There are pirates off Somalia and desperate poverty in every region of the globe.

But indeed everyone means a lot more of everyone than it did one hundred years ago, even fifty.

It's FFFin' beautiful. Look at me write here. It ain't no book, but it sure is published.

But on the other hand the printed book industry's crapped out. A good friend who just had a really successful run on a new book says her publisher could care less about the writer.

And according to recent OpEd in The New York Times by Timothy Egan:

I know: publishers say they print garbage so that real literature, which seldom makes any money, can find its way into print. True, to a point. But some of them print garbage so they can buy more garbage.

My mind is still processing the time I spent reading Chris Anderson’s Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.

The time is dispersed and filled with lingering, third-mind like connections of listening to the radio, reading the newspaper and living while I took in as much of the book as possible.

I will not complete these thoughts now. They are are liminal.

Following are a few:

* THE BURROUGHS-GYSIN COINED PHRASE: THE THIRD MIND
(note: the pic above is of Burroughs and Cobain)

You and Brion have described your collaborations over the years as products of a "third mind." What is the source of this concept?

Burroughs: A book called Think And Grow Rich
Gysin: It says that when you put two minds together. . .
Burroughs. . . . . there is always a third mind
Gysin: . . . . a third and superior mind. . . .
Burroughs: . . . . as an unseen collaborator.
Gysin: That's where we picked up the title. Our book The Third Mind is all about cut-up materials.


* THE QUALITY AT THE "TOP" IS DETERIORATING

Grammy nominations a snooze

Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Friday, December 5, 2008

So-called illegal downloads may no longer be the gravest danger faced by the imperiled recording industry: Just plain bad music may be what ultimately does the business in, and if you're looking for evidence, just scan the list of Grammy nominees announced Wednesday night in a prime-time TV special that was anything but.

It's not just that the biggest selling record of the year is rapper Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III" - last year's top seller was "High School Musical II," followed closely by Josh Grobin's Christmas album - or even the uninspiring lineup of dull, predictable Grammy nominations.

It is the complete and utter absence of any major work by an industry that once shipped masterpieces weekly.


* IS THE NICHE THE NEXT: CAN SMALL NFP'S PROFIT AS A NEW INFINITE?

In his Annual “cutting the Long Tail down to size” roundup, Anderson writes:

My answer to that is that fortunately social media creates an infinite number of networks, many of them focused on niche subjects, so that many winners can take “all” of their micromarket, while still having the collective effect of redistributing demand in the entire market over more variety.

* justreeeead this one.

Chris Anderson posted on November 15, 2008 --
Does the Long Tail create bigger hits or smaller ones?.

* DOES DWINDLING QUALITY AT "THE HEAD" CREATE VALUE FURTHER DOWN EVEN IN THE STAID CULTURE OF FINANCIAL SERVICING?

Seeking Financial Guidance on the Web
By Claire Cain Miller
December 21, 2008

Amid the big slump, many people are turning to the Web, as I wrote in an article on Saturday. Disillusioned by banks and the stock market, they are logging on to sites that pull together their financial data from across the Web, help them create budgets and offer a community where they can talk about their finances with others.

* WRITE A NFP SUPPLEMENT CHRIS ANDERSON. AND HOW CAN I HELP SINCE I THINK YOU LIVE VERY NEARBY IN BERKELEY?

I do think that Anderson should be exploring an edition for the Not-for-profit Sphere. There are different standards there, and in much the same way Jim Collins produced Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great.


* VALUE?

In the non-profit world there is more room to explore shifting definitions of VALUE as “goods which can be exchanged.” The economic and relative meaning of VALUE is very important in the not-for-profit world.

At the upcoming California Association of Museum’s conference in S.F. in late February, I am on a panel about monetizing websites.

And I am leading sessions at the 2009 Western Museums Association.

In both I will explore different meanings of value and seek feedback.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

twitter






interesting piece re:twitter and friend feed. Inneresting because metrics, value systems and honest assesment of the new life that is on-line.

looking forward.
james

P.S. is it true that twitter won't update my facebook status any longer? is it a feud? or am I just being punished?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fingers Crossed





From The Chronicle: Year-End Giving Update

Charities have chalked up mixed results as they seek donations in the final weeks of the year, reports The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Thirty-seven of the 66 charities The Chronicle contacted said that contributions had dropped this year. The remaining 29 said contributions were flat or had risen.

Even organizations that have received big increases are worried, however, because they say demand is increasing fast and they are facing cuts in government aid.

The Chronicle will continue to report on year-end results in the coming days; feel free to send your results to editor@philanthropy.com.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Disneyland December 2008

We went to Disneyland this weekend. It was the trip of a lifetime. I hope there will be others -- trips of a lifetime and Disney excursions -- and I hope this one stays up there amongst both lists.

Coming down, Poppop drove the whole way and there was SNOW in what’s known as the “grapevine.” So we did not go the inland route, but followed down the 101 toward Los Angeles. We did not see the snow, but we’d see it on the way back.

Altogether, including a Mickey D’s stop and some sushi well outside L.A. – maybe even before Oxnard -- it was fourteen hours. For me Oxnard was made famous by Ill Repute as the "Land of No Toilets." They had a ”gold vinyl” release of their record “What Happens Next/Oxnard - Land Of No Toilets.” We drove through Oxnard, needed a toilet and found no useful exits. I'm not sure if that’s what Ill Repute meant. But it sure felt true on this trip.

Big driving in California is still so weird for me, because I do not know California and it is so gosh darn amazingly beautiful. The brown grass, the golden grass. I will never forget the cross country trip Karen and I took together to move to California some seven years ago and the first I saw this golden brown grass. We’d read Capote’s In Cold Blood together for a book group only month before. I always remember vividly the way Capote talks about the grass of the west like a lion’s fur.


L’il E’s been inventorying the Disney catalog since for longer than many of us can remember. And maybe that’s sad; cuz the boy ain’t even three. But he has a keen memory, a pretty profound sense for narrative and the ability to understand drama.

Now sure, maybe I am projecting, but it does seem like one of those Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter type things.

His grandmother was worried that the size and scale of things outside of the boobtube might disconcert him. The first thing he did when he saw the first large-scale Mickey repro was to try and untie the bow, to topple the package, to bring Mickey down to him. His cousin joined in.


The rides did not freak him out. In fact, he had a great time. We took the advice and counsel of Disney veteran Allyson Lazar and headed straight for Peter Pan, then Snow White. Then we did Dumbo and Emil saw Buzz Lightyear, “in person.”


The drive down was a really great thing for two reasons: I hadn’t been on a long, crowded family drive for some thirty years and I finally got a round to reading the most recent compiled essays by David Sedaris entitled When You Are Engulfed in Flames.


Thanks to Karen's sister, we rented a Kia minivan. I slept most of the way, which is what I was really looking forward to.

The new Sedaris is a very serious book that clearly displays his increased talents as an essayist and social theorist. His story telling has limped a bit and he confesses to stopping drinking and smoking at the very end. But he has honed his craft so that each essay shimmers unexpectedly like a Kincaid.


When it was over, it was over. Li'l E's face-painted cousin was done. I waited outside the French Quarter with Karen's sister and the boys, while other folks took in The Haunted House as the sun went down. A small dixieland jazz band played Christmas songs.

Oh, there's much more to be told. And the next day we saw the snow that has kept us from the pass the two days earlier. We had an inkling of that snow from the view in Santa Barbara we'd seen two days earlier on the way down -- where, from the highway, you can see from ocean to mountainous, sometimes snow-covered peak. California's something else.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Milk Post Three


MILK so effectively stays on-story: Harvey Milk awakens at forty; moves to San Francisco with his new lover Scott; Milk helps develop the Castro as a gay Mecca; runs and runs for office until redistricting turns in his favor and he joins the City’s Board of Supervisors; as the first openly gay elected official in the United States Harvey Milk permanently and irrevocably affects positive change in the American psyche; lastly, he is shot down by a jilted co-worker, shot violently, tragically tumbling down with a banner advertising Tosca at the Opera in clear view.

All of this is historical fact (don’t know about the Tosca banner; though if the real-life friends and community leaders who helped to develop the film chose this fictitious embellishment, more power to them…).

So I am not ruining anything, and in fact one of the film’s strengths is that, like some other great works of art, it starts from the end. Diane Feinstein’s announcement of the assassination kicks off the film. Penn begins the recitation to a cassette tape of a script to be read upon the event of his assassination from the onset. And early on in the narrative, Milk proclaims to his lover on the event of his fortieth birthday that he will not see fifty. (One of the least elegant moments in the film is the heavy-handed repeating of this scene after the Honorable Supervisor Harvey Milk is shot.)

As someone who is about to turn forty, another thing of-note is the very promise of turning forty. Really, at every turn life presents renewal, and longevity encourages investigation, reassessment and opportunity, the promise of something new.

The other day I was talking to someone who said, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life.” I told her that’s a sentiment you will try and reclaim throughout your life -- “I don’t know what I want to do with my life" -- and to cherish it, cultivate it.

“My name is Harvey Milk and I want to recruit you,” he says over and over again to the public as a broad come on. Come on. Come on!

Milk Post Two

The closing scene of the film is an elegiac march of candle bearers by the tens of thousands down Market Street – artful harbingers, mournful bellwethers.

I remember that image, as a child, on the national news…a strange media silence, before the ridiculousness of the “Twinkie defense” took hold.

MILK mentions the “Twinkie defense,” only as a footnote and right before the credits roll.



The movie forced my psychic recall of the march and forced away any possible familiarity with Twinkies, junk food junkies, or the eerie old hit penned by Larry Groce that got a lot of play around the same time as Rick Dees' Disco Duck.

Meaninglessness.

It’s odd and amazing to consider how much the world was upside down when Harvey Milk was being as serious as he could be, as serious as humanly possible.

He said then, “My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.”

MILK Post One

I saw MILK two weeks ago. I knew MILK would be one of the few movies I saw in 2008. As the father of a two-and-a-half year old boy, my wife and I do not get out to the movies much. When the movie’s forthcoming started a buzz around the S.F. Bay Area, with Sean Penn (a Bay Area celeb) playing the once San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, I knew this one was necessary. And because of Milk himself.

MILK. It's important for now and future generations. I was a kid when he was shot. As someone from the east coast, I knew more about the “Twinkie defense” than Harvey Milk himself, somewhat and until now.

Sean Penn’s MILK was equally as much a compliment to Penn’s skills as an actor as the characterization was a testament to the fullness of being that Harvey Milk embodied. You got the sense there was enough Milk for Penn to climb up into and populate.

In the film, there could have been more about Milk’s philosophy, more about his love life or more about his abasement or spiritual transcendence. Penn’s portrayal was moving, human, sparse and complete to the very confines of the film. He filled the box. So too was the movie itself expansive and contained.

I can’t get The Little Mermaid off my mind, mainly, because with a two-and-a-half year old at home, it is often on.

The Little Mermaid is a simple story about a girl, a sea witch, an absent mother of four and a benevolent, bumbling patriarch who relies on a crab to rear and to admonish his daughters.

The movie follows one linear track, but all that it suggests of importance:

- Mother, daughter, father relations at a time of sexual awakening
- Issues of identity and assimilation
- Alterity
- And the truly remarkable degrees of invaginative (*) imagery in the Disney animation

are never dealt with directly, by choice.



(* - A stunningly evocative term introduced to me by Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime that proposes a counter point to the phallic, “A space before it was a figure, whether or not the figure then becomes a reason for the space and thereby its retrospective origin."
Gilbert-Rolfe, Jeremy. Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime. New York, NY: Allworth Press, 1999. p. 64.)

O.K., I digress…I guess, I just had to get that off my chest.

But I was struck by the strategic, moving and thoughtful manner with which Gus Van Sant and his team chose to deal with certain subjects by omission, namely the AIDS epidemic that decimated the souls that populated MILK and only a few short years after the films historical culmination. (con't)

Friday, December 12, 2008

high fire ceramics

This Ron Nagle/Don Ed Hardy show at Rena Bransten Gallery is the bomb!






This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things - a mass conflagration of thoughts, adventure & commodity crammed into a small gallery in downtown San Francisco for a brief period of time.

It takes you from the distribution of "china," Empire, tattooing and the body-politic politics of body, to pop & funk and the flac·cid·i·ty of late twentieth-century; post-nuclear aesthetics, back around through high-fire ceramics to the commercial distribution of amalgamated mass culture through the recent success of Don Ed Hardy in every Macy's and Nordstrom's in America.

It's quiet. But if you can hear the noise, this show's the bomb.

And the old guys sit around in the gallery by way of the power of video and say piss and sh*t and f@ck and everything.

Jesse Hamlin wrote a nice brief intro in the Chron's Date Lines: News from the Bay Area arts scene:

Ron Nagle and Don Hardy have been chums since the early 1960s, when Hardy - an Orange County surfer who'd bring a sophisticated visual vocabulary to the rogue art of tattoo - went north to study at the San Franciso Art Institute, where Nagle was teaching ceramic sculpture. Equally attuned to the forms and colors of Asian art, Giorgio Morandi and California hot-rod culture, the artists have always shared a certain sensibility. Now, for the first time, they're showing their work together, in an exhibition at the Rena Bransten Gallery called "Duo Mysto."



Opening Thursday, it features some of the intriguing little organic forms that Nagle has been making lately, as well as his drawings, and ceramics and prints by Hardy. Nagle gave his friend a crash course in ceramics, helping him cast models for the vessels that Hardy created with master craftsmen in Akita, Japan. Using underglaze, China paint and etched lines, Hardy layered some of the forms with his signature beasts and mythical figures.

The show runs through Jan. 10 at 77 Geary St. in San Francisco. The genre-defying duo will be there for the opening reception, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11. More information at (415) 982-3292 or www.renabransten.com.


This show's the bomb. Don't miss it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Angus Makes SF Weekly

In an article showcasing fans at the AC/DC show at the Oracle Arena on 12/4, SFWeekly called out Karen's coworker for whom I did her Angus poster.


Caption reads: "One fan shows us a poster made by a Berkeley artist."

Comment (1) reads: "Christopher…Great pic of me and my prized Angus painting. Thank you! Artist credit goes to James Leventhal. But all the credit goes to Angus last night for a front row experience of a lifetime! Cheers, Kelly"
Comment by Kelly K. from San Rafael on Dec 5th, 2008, 18:10 pm

Thursday, December 04, 2008

SYNOD

MAGNES & artist Jonathon Keats bring together a panel of scholars for a disputation, a "synod".

All this as part of the MAGNES project www.magnes.org/atheon

Very successful. Panelists included:


Dr. Robert A. Burton, neurologist and author of, On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not (2008)

Professor John Campbell, Professor of Philosophy at UC Berkeley and author of Past, Space and Self (1994) and Reference and Consciousness (2002)

Dr. Ilan Roth, Senior Physicist, Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley, and Co-Investigator on the Cluster satellites

Alla Efimova, Ph.D, Acting Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Magnes

Friday, November 28, 2008

a little time off...

...and painted for the first time in what feels like forever. Angus Young commission. She's gonna see AC/DC and is hoping to get it signed!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Times Pome

Y'know, I can't really say it's the new administration yet, and I guess I know that The Times only prints what its supposed to, but what a news day! ...according to The New York Times:
There's dancing on the streets of Baghdad. Because "Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout"

Karim Kadim/Associated Press
Iraqi policemen danced with a United States Army soldier in Baghdad on Sunday, the day Iraq’s cabinet approved a security pact.

Dan Rather "...has unearthed evidence that would seem to support his assertion that CBS intended its investigation, at least in part, to quell Republican criticism of the network."
Germany’s Green Party Elects First Ethnic Turk as Leader

Jens-Ulrich Koch/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Cem Ozdemir, whose parents immigrated from Turkey as guest workers, joined Claudia Roth on Saturday as party co-leader.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Frances Dinkelspiel at the J School, UC

After 8 years of work-Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California comes out...officially...tomorrow!

Be the Media

After I posted the piece below "Facebookedness First Finale (part III): The 80s Punk Rock Made Me Do It," I got "friended" by a David Mathison.

His "Google Alert" went off, because I quoted Jello Biafra saying, "Don't hate the media, BE the media." Mathison's self publishing a book entitled Be the Media.

David wrote, "Yeah I got a Google alert set for "Be The Media." Your tweet and blog came up, thought we should connect. I quote Jello in my book, www.BeTheMedia.com, of course ;-)"

You gotta check out Mathison's photo gallery. It's him all runnin' around the country holding his book out in front of web-and-otherwise celebrities. Included are Slash of Guns & Roses (bring on the Chinese Democracy! and the free Dr. Pepper...) and there's a great shot of Mathison and Bill Moyers pushing each others' book forward at what looks like a book buyers conference. Also on deck are Vint Cerf, Arianna Huffington, Garrison Keillor, "Larry" Lessig, Craig Newmark and our man Rushkoff!

Lovin' that Mathison's reaching out is one of those funny innernetz stories, like my old friend David Hantman finding me in three minutes and forty-five seconds and thanks, too, to Google Alerts.

Thanks, Google Alerts.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

MAGNES Friends & Family Day!!

Watteau

About a new book by Jed Perl concerning Watteau NY Times reviewer Richard B. Woodward writes,

"Among his finds is a taped conversation about Watteau from 1956 in which Jean Cocteau tells Louis Aragon that “all that smoky beauty somehow predicts the storm to come. The people at those parties of Watteau’s are like people coming together as a result of a railway accident, or during a halt or bombardment when they have left their cars on the road.”

Overall the review is harsh. I am not a fan of Jed Perl's. But I LOVE this quote above. (Click the pic to read the full review.)

Facebookedness First Finale (part III): The 80s Punk Rock Made Me Do It

The day after Rosh Hashanah I went to hear Jello Biafra and V. Vale speak at the all-ages, Berkeley, mainly punk venue called 924 Gilman.

(When I was growing up in the eighties, Jello Biafra -- lead singer of one of the most important U.S. Punk Bands the Dead Kennedys -- was the biggest thing…at least amongst the “punks” in my progressive high school.

I never got to see him or hear him in-person, though. None of us did back in Baltimore.

The Dead Kennedys did not come to my town, so getting to hear him finally and see him twenty years later as an adult now living in the Bay Area meant a lot to me.)

924 Gilman was so intimate. The evening made me want to find old friends with whom I had lost touch. And the New Year made be circumspect.

Like a lot of forty or almost-forty somethings, I sent pictures or “mobile blogged” what I had from my cell phone. I wrote in my blog:

“This evening was some real lo-fi, D.I.Y. …that reminds me of the youthful energy that's got me to where I'm at on this planet…”

The next thing I did was I sent a link to the post on my blog about hearing Jello Biafra and V. Vale speak at 924 Gilman to a “friend” -- “J.S.” -- on Facebook, with the following note:

“I cannot even tell you how much this evening of seeing Jello Biafra was the realization of a life's dream, cultivated in [your] home(s) in Baltimore.....and it was all that and more. the joint was so much like Jules'...and THE KIDS...it was all just a coupla kids?! c.1985 whatver...it was like a time capsule…”

J.S. is one of my oldest friends, in tenure; but we have not been in direct contact for over twenty years. We went to High School together in Baltimore with a pretty tight group of friends.

A long exchange ensued. We reveled in each other’s successes, shared memories and it helped to ameliorate unresolved issues, mainly of lack of communication.

Oh, and this went on for days! One “friend” wrote another,

“I doubt anyone would refute that you were at the center of much of what was going on those days. I think that was when your life as a Maven started to take off.”

More confessions unfolded. Then J.S. found old flyers, scanned them, posted them to flickr then shared on Facebook.

I proclaimed, “o.k. I just have to say that I am awash with emotion over all of this. I am learning. You are all my heroes. I am only sorry there's something about the internet that says -- read ‘ironic.’ Right now I am being quite serious. I am way too glad this thread got started, good friends, it's meant a lot to me. there's much love for you here.”

And later I added, “...that's how this all got started!...I mean, my question to Jello Biafra (and V. Vale) was, ‘o.k., since you started the DIY phenomenon and on-the-ground community sh*t...’...how do you feel about the internet where now every kidz got the power to publish from Poughkeepsie to Peoria?...and what about the new viral media, Obama's use of it and all that... Jello's quote was ‘don't hate the media: BE the media.’ i hadn't thought about it all like that until then....and, until now.”

At that point, one of my “friends” created a Facebook group called “Eutaw Street Clubhouse (Baltimore 1984-86),” and we all joined. The group’s numbers went to fifty-five in a couple of days almost doubled to ninety-five. Now it is at well past one hundred "kidz." So at the end of all this we organized, created and made a space for others.

While I do not pretend to fully understand all that’s at play here and this may seem like a minor event there are major implications. And while there’s certainly something about Facebook and all those tools that appeal to a kind of addictive behavior, I am confident that I am a better person after this recent exchange. Along with resolution, there was product.

And I have to say I was inspired both by finally getting to meet Jello Biafra and V. Vale and the encouragement of the Jewish New Year. Now I am healed.

Facebookedness First Finale (part II): New Day Rising

Maybe with the possible exceptions of Chuck Klosterman and Douglas Rushkoff, few writers have spoken for me.

Maybe there ain't much to say. Or it's all been said before.

What is now intriguing to witness is that history, with the tools at-hand, is being written "live," on-line and together.

Soon we will all move to video almost completely, but till then there's still a lot of writing go on. Not just to focus too much on writing/typing, but it's a part.

With these tools, we are scanning the analog and making it digital for us to share with each other. This is happening thanks to Amazon and in our living rooms.

And on the other end, the Christian Science Monitor just announced this week that they are doing away with their print version entirely to continue on-line in perpetuity. There is certainly a movement afoot.

While my story may be personal, the societal implications are huge. Think of it like the thesis of one age – 80’s grassroots alternative rock and progressivism – joining the antithesis – 90’s corporate acceptance – and synthesizing in a new, grassroots progressivism working within an accepted corporate framework at the beginning of the 21st century.

This is no joke – scientists and think tanks have defined the “Pro-Am” era as being upon us, a time when, thanks to the massive proliferation of microprocessors, professionals and amateurs work side by side now. Think SETI project, for starters.


Think of the Obama campaign. Think of the new forty-ish leadership, like Daniel Sokatch founding the Progressive Jewish Alliance and now heading up the massively well-endowed SF Jewish Federation or thirty-five year old Ben Jealous heading up the NAACP. Did someone say "new administration"?

I mean, c'mon...the revolution is beyond televised now -- go to change.gov. The paradigm has shifted. It’s outpacing pornography.

*read read on*

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Facebookedness First Finale (part I): Naked in High School

Right around Yom Kippur this year, I did something on-line that felt really good. I was “social networking.”

Over the past several months social networking sites like Facebook have overtaken porn sites in popularity, according to Reuters and an article last week in the UK Guardian. The article has been posted a lot on Facebook profiles and received a lot of diggs at DIGG.com.

Everybody’s doing it, or at least “three in four US online adults,” according to a recent report by Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research.

And that’s what is so amazing. The massive proliferation of Facebook and LinkedIn has brought it closer to the white pages than any earlier iteration of America On-line or other “services.”

I been doing things on-line for years, right? But something was different this time. What did I do on Facebook? I atoned. I made recompense.

And I reconnected with a group of old high school friends through Facebook about a stretch of time when we all defined ourselves together for a moment.

Together we attended a small, progressive, predominantly Jewish high school in Baltimore. It’s was the 80’s and we were very into politically progressive, grassroots punk rock music.

With all this necessary and remarkable talk about the growth in networking utilities, like twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn -- what really amazed me about this exchange was that I was accessing formative years in a way that was new and psychologically instructive. I learned so much about others, with whom I had been out of touch for decades, and myself. I made peace with my past.


You can now conjure up the past. It’s palpable, even dream-like.

But rather than reliving seminal moments and walking through your old high school naked, only to wake up and find it’s time to go to work -- now, with the new social networking tools so well "populated," you are there again.

With Facebook especially, you can really and truly uncover those once locker-bound legions and write them in a way that is new a rich with content.

There are no more six degrees of separation (LinkedIn likes to play of the “degrees of separation” concept). It seems like now you really can now connect to everyone you have ever known and everyone they ever told you about.

You can say, “Sorry.” You can convey a crush and thank them for helping to form your life. Long harbored resentment can now be released and redirected.

What unfolded from there was a series of discussions about relationships that might have been lost to memory and isolated recollection without Facebook.

To quote a friend who I share this story with, “This is SO much cheaper than therapy.” And in some way it is really. You are connecting with your past and actually exchanging information in a meaningful way, full of metaphor, scents, memory, confession and the wisdom to compliment and admire others.

*read on*

MAGNES Makes It in Today's Oakland Tribune

Angela Hill writes in today's Oakland Tribune:


Whenever my brain needs a good teasing, I turn faithfully to San Francisco conceptual artist and all-around cerebral confounder, Jonathon Keats, well known in Bay Area art circles for such works as punching a time clock whenever he had a thought, or producing "intergalactic art" from radio signals from outer space, or developing a prototype voting booth out of a Ouija board.

Now he's done it again with his latest public art installation called, "The Atheon: A Temple of Science for Rational Belief," which will be up through February inside a two-story downtown Berkeley building at Harold Way and Kittredge Street.

Right now, you can only see it from the outside as the building undergoes rehab to become the new Judah L. Magnes Museum. And to the naked eye, the Atheon appears merely as pretty blue stained-glass windows. But wait. There's more. The blue glow is actually an enlarged version of a cosmic microwave background image, originally generated by NASA, mapping very slight differences in temperature over many millions of years. Variations which ultimately resulted in the formation of the universe, the planet Earth, bacon ultimate cheeseburgers, us and chimps, but not necessarily in that order.

(You can also access your own personal Atheon by going to magnes.org/windows.)

Basically, the Atheon is a thought experiment, giving science religious trappings like windows and liturgies. It's an attempt to "explore the shape a religion might take in which the content of the religion is science," Keats said.

Ow, my brain.

"It's a merging of worlds that seem very different from each other, but are perhaps not that different. At some point, we will have to reconcile the great divide between religion and science," he said. "Science, which is to some degree mysterious and miraculous, does have a component that is truly religious by nature. And those with a religious persuasion can find the miracles in it. There's this sense of awe at the cosmos, which is what people seek out in religion."

Keats' work is such that you don't always know if he's serious, or just messing with your mind. Maybe both. "As many of my projects are, this is a prototype at this point," he said. "You know how hard it is to get funding for new religions, much like for new Ouija-board voting systems."

Goldsworthy's Spire



In case you have not already read about it Andy Goldsworthy's got a major commission in Ess Eff and it's a spire.

Ken Baker wrote about it in the Chronicle. (Sorry, but his piece sorta sucked...but its got some interesting details.)

Today could not have been a prettier day to take the spire in, with the smog as thick as cream. The best view's gotten by pulling over at Inspiration Point, turning off Arguello in the Presidio. (Those are pretty words to type.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Jesse won! Jesse won!


Man, this guy's so grassroots, it is what we should all aspire to...

Rock on, Jesse "D.J. Luscious" Townley! Rock on.

JESSE TOWNLEY:
I am a 19 year Berkeley tenant. I was Executive Director of the non-profit Easy Does It, which provides Emergency Services to people with Disabilities. With the non-profit venue 924 Gilman & the non-profit Independent Arts & Media I’ve expanded low-income access to arts. Councilmember Dona Spring appointed me to the Disaster & Fire Safety Commission in 2003, which prepares our community (and our pets) for hills fires, earthquakes and pandemics. Tenants and landlords need massive help in preparing for the next earthquake & wildfire, including Community Emergency Response Team training & emergency supply caches. As Chair I gave input to the Soft Story Ordinance that will retrofit many unsafe apartment buildings, & to new single family home standards called Plan Set A. I will protect tenants in apartments & houses from outrageous rent increases while encouraging landlords to retrofit. I will bring to the Rent Board disaster preparedness expertise derived from my tenant perspective. I will expand the greening of all rental units by pushing composting, recycling, and solar power. I will encourage the Berkeley FIRST solar program to target multi-unit building owners.

Friday, October 31, 2008

MAC


Jetpack Dreams Trailer from Mac Montandon on Vimeo.




...thing is what trips me out is that is this a guy who described me as "Jim—a poet or whatever..." once in a piece he got published in Modern Spectator, and I dig that. thing is.

O.K. I L-O-V-E love Facebook



Here's some guy I went to high school with who just "friended" me...how the FFF was I ever supposed to find this guy, or have him find me like ever in any other "world model"?

Never.

He'd've never showed up for the reunion. (Like I would have?!...)

He'd've gone off-my-radar...even tho he plays a part or two in sleep-time dramas when my personal 90210 comes on in the midnight hour.

Christian Barry

- Teaches philosophy in the School of Humanities and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the Australian National University.

- He also produces Public Ethics Radio, an online audio broadcast with ethicists discussing timely and important practical dilemmas.

- Christian has served as a consultant and contributing author to three of the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Reports.

- He was editor of Ethics & International Affairs, and directed the Carnegie Council's program Justice and the World Economy.

- He is author (with Sanjay Reddy) of International Trade and Labor Standards: A Proposal for Linkage (Columbia University Press, 2008).

- He is co-editor (with Thomas Pogge) of Global Institutions and Responsibilities: Achieving Global Justice (Blackwell, 2005), and (with Barry Herman and Lydia Tomitova) of Dealing Fairly with Developing Country Debt (Blackwell, 2007).

- Christian holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University, where he was a fellow at the Center for Law and Philosophy. He is the recipient of the 2009–2010 Leverhulme Visiting Fellowship.

And we just usta be friends...now we're "friends" again.

RSS



From Terry Heaton's PoMo BlogReport author Julie Katz goes on to make three recommendations to address the ignorance:

1. Advertise syndication as “easy information.”
2. Create RSS tutorials.
3. Collect and share customer testimonials.

RSS feed images from the website inquisitr.comFor information-seekers, RSS is a life-changing experience, and let me give you an example of exactly what this report is talking about. My 27-year old future son-in-law is a manager at a GameStop store. He’s an XBOX360 guy and an expert at “Call of Duty.” He wants to make retail gaming his future and is in with a very good company. Thinking that staying informed about the online gaming industry would benefit his career, I asked him a few days ago if he’d ever heard of RSS. He hadn’t, but that’s no surprise, so I walked him through setting up a feed reader and loading it with news feeds from his industry. He faithfully uses it now, and I hear him quoting things he’s read from the feeds. He admits that he is “the guy in the know” at work.

Now he knows what RSS is, why he should use it and how it works. He’s a convert, and his information-gathering life is changed as a result.

The real problem with RSS — and the Forrester report does not get into this — is that traditional media companies and advertisers are the most ignorant of the whole lot. Moreover, there’s no incentive for them to become educated, because they cannot see how to make money by using a consumer pull technology like RSS. The best Steve and I see are feeds from companies designed with one thing in mind: drive traffic back to their portal sites, so they can monetize the page views.

Rushkoff




I make the case that Judaism was really intended as a form of media literacy. Out with the heiroglyphs (literally, “priestly writing”) and in with the aleph bet. Judaism asks, “what would a world of literate people look and act like?” Of course, over time, being a literate person got replaced with being a literal person.

Halloween in Berkeley

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh Bondage Up Yours!


...if you don't know the title, it's the name of the Xray Spex song that helped kick off the whole punk rock movement in the 70s, so this interview's gotta have a point to it, right? I mean wasn't the whole scene a play on BDSM culture?

From Vice magazine: an interview with Nayland Blake, none of which really touches on the mysterious and mercurial nature of his art, that's VERY focused on his fetishes...

but I only just learned at the last interview that being a big, gay man with a BDSM and role playing fascination is a significant part of the singular and insightful nature of his works that are beyond categorization.

Below's a clip from the interview (the portrait's by Richard Kern):

VICE: A lot of art films that included graphic sex had no other outlet but those places. I guess it’s a function of just being in New York City, but it doesn’t surprise me that the communities of so-called perverts and artists overlapped a lot.

Nayland Blake:I have a kind of high-falutin’ theory about it.

VICE:Let’s hear it.

Nayland Blake: I think that the rise of leather culture in the mid-60s through the 70s paralleled the rise of performance art. People like Marina Abramovich and Vito Acconci were basically born out of the same impulse as the leather men, but one was taking place inside the art world and one was taking place in the underground. Many of the same issues were being looked at. You can talk about leather culture as being the anonymous folk-art version of the supposedly more respectable gallery work.

VICE:I like that way of looking at it.

Nayland Blake: It’s also no coincidence that both of those things were being cracked down on in the 80s by Ronald Reagan. It’s that sort of cultural surge, that way of playing with power and trying to expand the body’s limits that was met with all this backlash and repression later on.

VICE:It seems like this impulse is nowhere in the art world right now. Nobody is carrying on that tradition and I don’t know why. I had a really good theory about it a second ago, but I forgot it.

Nayland Blake: Well, for one, it’s really hard to sell. Also, ideas no longer really occur in the art world. Ideas have been turned into style. The social implications of all of that body work have been stripped away, and now it’s just seen as a style of art-making. It’s a style that’s down right now, but it will be up later on.

VICE:Shit, so there are no ideas in the art world right now?

Nayland Blake: It’s really pervasive. I lay the blame for it on the internet. Here’s another way to tie the leather world and the art world together—there was a time when, to be interested in either of those things, you had to put your body on the line. In other words, you had to show up to the gallery or the club.

VICE:And now, everything can be seen on the internet a couple of minutes after it happens. It’s the same thing with music. It’s way easier to be a poser and a dilettante with the internet as a research tool for more effective bullshitting.

Nayland Blake: And that’s one of the reasons why I’m loathe to talk much about the event I’m going to this weekend. I think it’s great that there are still some things in society that you have to be initiated into. You have to make a commitment to it to be able to see it.

VICE:Sometimes I wish the internet would die and we could just use the phone and the mail and zines and mixtapes again. Maybe that means I’m getting old.

Nayland Blake: Some of the work I’m doing now involves these things that I make totally anonymously and leave out on the street. I’ve been doing things like drawing on garbage, making little pieces that I leave out, sort of as gifts for people. I don’t document them with photographs or anything.

VICE:That’s awesome. Nowadays if there isn’t a photo of something on Flickr, it’s like it never existed.

Nayland Blake: On the internet, we have all this information but it doesn’t necessarily have any value for us because we didn’t work for it. You turn on the tap and information comes out. We don’t know what the consequences of that will be yet.