steev's blog

High and Dry

I went to a little party just a few hours ago in a little hidden gem of a beautiful villa right off the main hipster drag of 4th Avenue. All the drunks and college kids never know this place exists. There was a pool and food and drink and a guy recording whatever you wanted to say or sing or play, onto a laptop, and looping it and mixing it with whatever anyone else did before, and then playing it back on the PA. It was a cool little collaborative-interactive touch. and there was poetry and music. I read a portion of "The Invisible Generation" into the microphone over the sound of fingers tapping on a stand-up bass, read the Burroughs essay about tape cut-ups, and how you can change the world with recordings. You can remix reality and make it better or worse, Burroughs was saying.
My friend told me I sounded good, on the recording.
I think it was because that essay is a part of me. It was something I first read around 19 years ago, the first I'd ever heard of William S. Burroughs, and it had a profound effect on me. It's internal, so when I read it aloud, I guess it makes sense that I perform it well, because I believe it, and live it, and have for a long time.

Suprisingly, there were mostly women at this party. Only women used the pool, none of the men. I guess it's too hard to look properly hip when you're in a pool. Also, only 5 of us participated in the audio loop thingie, out of about 30 people. Like I keep observing, interactivity isn't for everyone.

Here's a brief glimpse from the eye of my phone during the event, a brief flash of the at least somewhat sublime, in some way, Tucson summer:

More Thoughts About Memorial Day

Yesterday as a comment to my previous entry here, my friend Carolyn made a good point about what the holiday is about - the veterans who died in our wars - but the media and our leaders certainly don't limit it to that in their rhetoric. Obama last weekend "called on Americans Saturday to tribute to the nation's veterans and service members" (UPI story) And veterans like our old highschool classmate Jeff Klaessy spent their valuable Facebook-time yesterday reminding everyone to think of their (still living) selves.

Meanwhile we have most people just thinking of the day as another chance to get off from work and drink beer in the park. Which is what most holidays get used for.

I'm sorry about your Uncle, Carolyn. I wish there was truly a day where people really just focused on those who died in wars. I wish every holiday still had its original focus, with laser-like precision. I wish Xmas was still about the winter solstice and not about buying and receiving presents. I also wish there was a holiday to honor all the slaves that this country was built on. And a hundred other holidays to focus on and honor all the other honorable people that have sacrificed or been sacrificed for this country, holidays that people really used for their intended purpose.

But that's not how our messed up society works these days. Culture has become a battleground where people fight over the meanings of things and what people will pay attention too, every moment of every day. And if, on Memorial Day, some feel the need to call attention to WHY some people were sacrificed, well... I don't know. Maybe I just don't get it because I don't have any relatives who died in a war - thankfully. I just really wish that nobody did, and ever will again. But sadly, that's not how our society works either.

Kutiman's Amazing and Brilliant Palimpsestual Recycled Culture

I decided to take a few minutes break from subtitling an interview with a Mexican environmental law professor to read some blogs and I am so blown away by this, this guy who goes by the name Kutiman has made a bunch of wonderful songs and music videos out of unrelated youtube clips, mostly random people practicing their instruments. His work has been re-posted here:
http://thru-you.org/
It's absolutely brilliant. and fun! It makes me smile.
Like my friend José said on his blog "The video sequencing is clever and lighthearted, the music tastefully composed and the overall conceit exudes love for humanity.... Much of music is a conversation across space and time, a retracing of other people’s gestures, a palimpsest. Today’s sampling technologies expose those overlays like so much colorful sedimentation."

If I may riff on those ideas - it is truly interesting how positive and light these pieces are. There are some similar projects, like the various "shreds" or like the Evolution Control Committee's "best of default" or whatever it was called, where the ECC went trolling napster for mostly embarrassing stuff that people recorded and accidentally left in their napster share folders, and then made hilarious but kind of mean-spirited ensemble pieces out of them - these were making fun of the sources - but Kutiman seems to rather be celebrating the immense collection of human soul and talent and skill and energy that YouTube is now a sort of repository of. He's taking these people's individual efforts and turning them into some sort of massive global jam band, and the results are beautiful.

It makes me wonder what lies ahead. This may be the beginning of the global hive mind society that some science fiction writers like Vernor Vinge have written about. At some point the interconnected creativity and brainpower of all the millions of humans may become so powerful that what it come up with will be something nobody would be able to understand right now, especially on their own.

That is, if we don't blow ourselves up first.

Chicken Coop Tour!!

Last Saturday, Greta and I took part in a special tour of households in Tucson that have chickens.

Ours was one of 18 stops on the tour, and we had over 100 people stop by in 4 hours to look at our chickens and coop, as well as check out our garden and solar oven. (our friend Matt's house was also on the tour). It was pretty fun and it seemed like a lot of people were inspired and thinking about raising chickens themselves, or doing it differently if they already did, and/or inspired to garden more, or use greywater, or build/get a solar oven. It was encouraging to see that so many people are into these sustainable practices -- Apparently the food co-op sold 200 tickets to the tour, raising 1000 bucks for the community food bank, and they had to turn away 200 more people.

Blood-Drenched Dope

Lots of stupid fear-mongering about "border violence" lately, even from Obama now.

I think it's important to keep in mind and include in any discussion of this that this whole topic is just another example of the fear-based society we live in. Chertoff started spinning this "border violence spillover" idea back in December and it's pure hype just to get people to be afraid and give in to the idea of even more militarization of the borderlands and more loss of civil liberties. The violence is worse in Mexico, yes, but the spillover is mostly a myth. The last thing the cartels have ever wanted to do was involve gringos in their gun battles. Here's an example of the fear-mongering: recently the statistic came out that Phoenix is the #1 city for kidnappings, but the counterstatistic is that most of those kidnappings are loads of migrants being smuggled by one smuggling cartel and getting "stolen" by another cartel. It's not mom and pop citizen getting yanked into a van at the mall parking lot or whatever.

The other thing to realize is that drug trafficking isn't going down or being restricted, counter to what the migra says. The increased violence in Mexico is because the Calderon administration's "Mano Duro" has upset the delicate balance of power between cartels. But there's still plenty of drugs flowing north, and there always will be till we deal with the demand that us gringos have for the stuff. The problem is not only the demand for the drugs themselves but the flow of money from the drug trade and the drug war that flows to U.S. banks, prisons, private prison companies, rehab centers, therapists, guns, fancy cars and yachts and stuff that the narcos buy for themselves, hospitals, etc etc etc. Sorry to sound negative but the drug war CAN'T be won, ever, or all those industries will crash and burn, not to mention Mexico's economy, since the drug trade is the 2nd largest industry after their oil. All that will ever happen is posturing and faking.

But the real question is: why do gringos like their drugs so much? Why do their lives seem to suck so bad that they have to medicate themselves so much? Is there some other way to make gringos' lives happier, so they don't need the blood-drenched dope?

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