The man who killed the delirious party of late Romanticism

Glenn Gould – Webern

[…] Gould' s thoughts on ‘ideal' music were most vividly expressed in a few
lines he wrote about Jan Sibelius in 1974: “at its best, his style
partook of that spare, bleak, motivically stingy counterpoint that
nobody south of the Baltic ever seems to write.”

Spare, bleak, motivically stingy counterpoint. You might describe the
music of Webern or Schoenberg the same way, without meaning to praise
either one of them. But for Gould, stinginess could be an artistic
virtue and bleakness could be liberating, just as the North that Gould
idealized was free of buildings, roads and other people. […]

"Our Man for Bach, but Also Schoenberg," Robert Everett-Green, Toronto Globe and Mail, Sept. 22, 2007

‘Could it be by the sea, Your Honor?’

Scene from "The 400 Blows": Antoine Runs Away

[…] He moves through the Paris streets (photographed with exhilarating
clarity by Henri Decaë) confidently but a little anxiously, a trace of
unease betrayed by an odd scurrying half-run he breaks into from time
to time, as if he he’d suddenly remembered that someone was chasing
him. It’s the gait he uses in the movie’s famous final sequence, when
he escapes from the reform school he has wound up in and, his pursuers
well behind him, makes his way across a bleak beach for his first-ever
glimpse of the sea.

The camera travels with him, recording every
jerky small step until he reaches the edge of the water, looks at the
big-deal sea for all of about five seconds and then turns back,
expressionless, to face us in what quickly becomes a freeze-frame: the
last, powerfully ambiguous image of the film.

This sort of
ending wasn’t common in 1959, and viewers were impressed. Mr. Truffaut,
overcoming the considerable ill will he had earned as a Cahiers critic,
won the prize for best director at Cannes; the movie was a hit in
France and all over the world.

That freeze-frame stuck in
people’s minds as if it were a sharp, nagging memory of their own. What
looks most remarkable now, though, isn’t the blank still face that
closes the film, but the daringly long run that brings us to it, that
allows our emotions to gather and build with each short, stiff step
until, without quite understanding why, we end up overwhelmed. It’s the
movie in miniature, really.

Right from the start of his career
Truffaut had the sly gift of holding our attention while appearing to
be doing almost nothing, just moving at his own casual pace away from
the traditions that dogged him and toward something that might have
looked to him as huge and vague and daunting as the ocean. […]

"A Troublemaker Who Led A Revolution," Terrence Rafferty, New York Times, Sept. 21, 2007

Route 66: Panels I’d hit at 2008 SXSWi


I read descriptions for all 736 proposed panels at next year's South by Southwest Interactive Conference. Here are at least six dozen and half a dozen more that deserve either five-star or four-star ratings. That means any one would either justify my trip or I will definitely attend them. (This is not to slight any of the other ideas, which include at least six dozen three-star-worthies — and, hey, you knew I've got a panel proposal you can vote for, right?)

What's that matter? Well, if you like them too, you have less than nine hours — until 11:59 p.m. EDT today (Sept. 21, 2007) — to open an account and vote for them at the 2008 SXSW Interactive Panel Picker. O click and see!

Lynne d Johnson,, Where Are The Black Tech Bloggers?
Karsh, How To Roll Your Own Blog Awards
Sean Mills, The Onion Behind the Scenes at the Onion News Network
Jenifer Hanen, Black Phoebe Designs The Web Standards Confession Booth
Erica Mauter, Metroblogging Minneapolis Building Hyperlocal Websites for the Future
Karsh, Your Ticket to the Afrospear
Christian Crumlish, Yahoo! Online Identity: And I Do Give a Damn about My Bad Reputation
Halley Suitt, Zindicate The Evil Axis of Videoblogging: SF, NY, LA
George Kelly, Roll Over Gutenberg, Tell McLuhan The News
John S. Bracken, MacArthur Foundation Whither Citizen Journalism: A Critical Review
Andrew Huff, Gapers Block Working Over the Web: Managing Distributed Staffs
Rashmi Sinha, SlideShare True Stories from Social Media Sites
Kevin Cheng, OK/Cancel     Breakups 2.0
Jeremy Keith, Adactio Building Portable Social Networks
Souris Hong-Porretta, The Supercollider: A Hero of the Social Network
Laura Merritt, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Identity Crisis: Communicating Online Without Getting Fired
Jeff Beckham, AT&T The Social Implications of Being "Always-On"
Will Smith, Maximum PC Modernizing Old Media
Jay Allen, Textura Design State of the Invisible Blogosphere
Tantek Çelik, Body Optimization: Why Stop at Health & Fitness?
Violet Blue, freelance writer Sexual Privacy Online
Sergio Villarreal, Widgets: Is It Worth It?
Ryan Gantz, Better Collaboration Through Comedy LULZ OMG
Rachel Lovinger, Avenue A | Razorfish Cage Match! Taxonomy vs. Folksonomy (and I don't know whether Thomas Van Der Wal will fight or referee)
Jamais Cascio, The Future is You
Sergio Villarreal, Startup vs. Corporate: How's it Really Like?
Tantek Çelik, Effective Multitasking
Ben Brown, Your Blog Is A Niche Community
Heather Armstrong, Dooce Content Boundaries: A 12-Step Program
Brian Oberkirch, Small Good Thing The Future of Presence
Alice Marwick, New York University "I'm Internet Famous": Status in Social Media
Ron Teixeira, National Cyber Security Alliance Cyber Safety in the Interactive Age
David Thomas, Links as Language: The Advent of 3-D Writing
Joseph Smarr, Plaxo In Defense of the Open Social Web
Kevin Smokler, English: Technology's Universal Language
Jeffrey Zeldman, Happy Cog Respect!
Jason Levitt, Yahoo! Online Identity Crisis
Michele Bowman, Global Foresight Associates Futurists' Sandbox: Scenarios for Social Technologies in 2025
Kevin Cheng, OK/Cancel     Comparing the Giants: How Design Happens in Large Companies
Thor Muller, Satisfaction Judo Moves for Defending Your Reputation Online
Jina Bolton, Apple, Inc. Social Networking and Your Brand
Molly Wright Steenson, Meet The Architects
Jamais Cascio, The Whole World Is Watching
Dave Madethis, Emma Who the Hell are You? Personal Branding 101
Stephanie Troeth, CloudRaker Opening the Web to Linguistic Realities
Susan Price, MediaRich Controlling the Dialog: Civility and Censorship in Social Media Spaces
Jay Allen, Textura Design Hacking the Enterprise with Social Media Applications
Kit Seeborg, How to Evolve Your Irrelevant Corporate Website
Will Smith, Maximum PC Modernizing Old Media
Annalee Newitz, Techsploitation Social Network Coups: The Users are Revolting!
Brian Oberkirch, Small Good Thing Self-Replicationg Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing

None must sleep, none must sleep

Pavarotti – Nessun Dorma

[…] Perhaps his biggest gift to the music world was when he teamed up
with Spanish stars Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras at the 1990 soccer
World Cup and introduced operatic classics to an estimated 800 million
television viewers round the globe.

Sales of opera albums shot up after the gala concert in Rome's Baths
of Caracalla and since then Puccini's aria "Nessun Dorma" from his
opera "Turandot"
has been heavily associated with Pavarotti and soccer. […]

"Pavarotti in 'serious' condition: Italian media"
Gilles Castonguay
Wed., Sept. 5, 2007 7:04 PM EDT
Paul Potts singing Opera

[…] "This is insane," Rubin said enthusiastically as the clip began. In
the video, an ordinary-looking middle-aged man waited nervously
backstage. When he faced the judges, he told them he worked at a
mobile-phone store and wanted to sing opera. The studio audience looked
annoyed — they clearly wanted to hear a pop song — and the judges were
cold and dismissive. No one expected anything remarkable from this
dull-looking, forgettable guy.

But then Paul Potts sang —
"Nessun dorma" from "Turandot." He had an improbably beautiful voice.
"Where does that come from?" Rubin said as he watched. Tears were
rolling down his cheeks. "I can't look at this without crying," he
said. "His voice is so beautiful." When Potts finished his song, Cowell
said, "I thought you were absolutely fantastic." The studio audience
roared with approval, and Potts beamed.

"It's August now — that
show was eight weeks ago," Rubin said. "In England, Paul Potts is
already gigantic, but we are going to launch him in America. This just
blew my mind."

No one could have predicted that one of the first
new Columbia artists to excite Rick Rubin would have been a would-be
opera singer from a televised talent contest. "I certainly didn't
expect his response to be so positive," said Steve Barnett, who
originally brought Paul Potts to Rubin's attention. "I was surprised
and pleased that he wanted to jump on it."

Rubin has an immediate
plan for Potts — he wants to test the powers of his "word of mouth"
department. "I want to see if we can create interest without there
being a record to buy," he said. "I've told our whole staff to send it
to everyone, to tell everyone, to mention it everywhere. I want to get
Paul Potts out to the world." Rubin stopped for a moment. "Although, if
someone tells you how great this is, it's not as moving. It's the
element of surprise that makes you interested in Paul Potts: he looks
so bland, and then he sings so well. If you expect him to be great,
will the clip still be great?"

The question cannot be answered. A
word-of-mouth campaign, like so many possible remedies for the ills of
the record business, feels forced. "I just don't know how else people
will see Paul Potts," Rubin said. "And I'm really glad I saw him." He
paused and looked out at the surf. "I know this sounds hard to believe,
but I never had any expectations of success," he said finally. "I knew
what I liked, and I didn't really care if anyone else liked it. I still
never assume that anyone will like anything. But I can't imagine that
they won't, either." […]

"The Music Man"
Lynn Hirschberg
New York Times
Sept. 2, 2007

B major, suspended

So, however rude and annoying Obama got in his repeated insistence that
he would not dislodge the earbuds from his senatorial ears, I felt the
strong urge to make him comfortable, happy, and part of the party.
"Tell me what kind of music you like." I said, "Maybe we have a CD
you'd prefer to the one that's playing." Obama obliged, listing six or
eight band names I'd never heard of. If only I could recall some of
them, but all I can say is that 1. they sounded like indie rock bands
and 2. they were totally unknown to me. I felt foiled.

Then I got another idea. "Let me listen to a couple of songs on your iPod, and I'll see if I have some music that I think
you would like, based on what you're listening to." Reluctantly, Obama
obliged, handing his earbuds over to me. At this point a surreal,
only-in-your-dreams moment occurred and I realized that Obama's iPod
was somehow connected to a heavy cable that trailed off into the other
room, which made it awkward to manipulate. I managed to get the earbuds
in and, to my great astonishment, I recognized the song that was
playing. Quite improbably, it was "Race for the Prize," the first track
off the Flaming Lips' CD The Soft Bulletin. I got inordinately
excited, all of the frustration and anxiety that had built up over
Obama's musical intransigence and my inability to please him melting
away in a wash of excitement. "The Flaming Lips! We listen to that
band! We have this CD!" As I disentangled myself from Obama's iPod and rushed off to put The Soft Bulletin on the CD player, my dream melted into some other scene…

"Barack Obama's iPod,"
Oral Hygiene Queen,
May 5, 2007

[…] Barack Obama said his last purchase was "probably" "Ray," the score
from the Oscar-winning movie on the life of R&B crooner Ray Charles. […]

"Prez pols' sound of music,"
Neil Graves,
New York Post,
May 10, 2007
(via stereogum)

At first listen, the Indigo Girls
don't make any sense, not for the hyper-macho world of a presidential
campaign, much less a summertime rally for a superstar like Barack Obama.
But his sound people are piping in the feminist folk duo's music anyway
to pump up a crowd of hundreds at this small-town coffee shop on the
Fourth of July. They play "Hammer and a Nail," a 1990 declaration of
female empowerment and emancipation. "You've got to tend the earth,"
the Girls sing, "if you want a rose."

Then Obama comes out, looking lithe and dashing, with his
6-year-old daughter, Sasha, in his arms. The soundtrack starts to make
sense. "I'm a sucker for girls," says the man who wants to be president.
"There is nothing more difficult than me being on the phone hearing
about their soccer game, hearing about what happened to them in school
and knowing that I am not there in the evenings to share a lot of their
life." He turns to his wife, Michelle, who is sitting nearby on a
stool. "She is smarter," he says. "She is tougher." […]

"Hillary is from Mars, Obama is from Venus,"
Michael Scherer,,
July 12, 2007

[…] "I'm old school, so generally, generally, I'm more of a jazz
guy, a Miles Davis, a John Coltrane guy, more of a Marvin Gaye, Stevie
Wonder kind of guy," Obama said in the interview. "But having said
that, I'm current enough that on my iPod I've got a little bit of
Jay-Z. I've got a little Beyonce." […]


p style=”text-align: right”>
"Barack Obama gets name-dropped in hip-hop,"

Peter Hamby,
August 17, 2007
"You've been in a room once in a while with a rock star. He walks into
the world, and he takes your breath away. I'd love him to be president,
quite honestly. […]"

"Clooney: Obama's Like a Rock Star,"
Colleen Barry,
Associated Press (via Washington Post),
Sept. 1, 2007

[…] Rock stars may hide behind all sorts of masks — be it makeup, a
thuggish image or an alter ego named Sasha — but when they perform,
the best of them give the audience the sense that it's witnessing a
very real part of their personality.

There's something charmingly old school about the notion of a rock
star, a larger than life character that at once seems untouchable but
also like an intimate friend. The Internet can't make a rock star — at
least not yet. Sites like YouTube
celebrate accessibility and the notion that everyone should be equally
seen and heard. Rock stars still benefit from the quaint notion that
they are more subversive, more audacious, more fearless, more sensitive
than everyone else. They speak truth to power. They speak for the
disenfranchised. They are poets. It doesn't matter that some of the
biggest stars are akin to private corporations with all the
hierarchies, for-profit motives and mainstream popularity that implies.
The myth of the rock star endures. And at some point, everyone turns into a groupie.

"For Those Who Rock, We Salute You,"

Robin Givhan,
Washington Post,
Sept. 2, 2007

Songs I’m not listening to on the radio

If Everyone Cared

With her bangles and her spangles and her stars

the making of "beauty and crime"

[…] “I met Philip Glass as I was walking
down the street,” she explains over the phone from, of course,
Manhattan. “I run into him fairly often. And he said, ‘How’s it going?’
I said that I was without a record deal, and he looked really happy and
said, ‘Congratulations. That means you can do what you really want and
finally have freedom.’

“I wasn’t clear how I felt about it at the time.
I wasn’t seeing it from that point of view. Two weeks after 9/11, I
found out my deal with A&M was up and asked them for another year
on the label, and they didn’t pick up the option, so I quietly went

But she began thinking about Glass’s reaction.
“I decided to hire an engineer to work with, Brit Myers, and we just
played music into the computer. I riffed around and made loops and
things, without lyrics. It was a new way for me to work, and part of
the sleekness of these songs may be that I was working on a computer,
which compresses everything and allows you to edit and alter your work
in really interesting ways. It becomes like a collage."

That's from Ted Drozdowski's "Village Folk" in The Phoenix

Music exists partly to challenge those authorities (i)

Sinead O'Connor Rivers of Babylon (live)
Sinead O'Connor - Fire On Babylon
Sinead O'Connor - Downpressor Man / None a Jah Jah Children
Sinead O'Connor - War

[…] In order to understand the
dynamics of reggae, however, a clear understanding of Rastafari must be
grasped. Reggae is an auditory representation of the experience of
Rastafari which is based on the mystical union of the human and the
divine. Rastafari, like many syncretized religions of the African
diaspora seeks a unity (
inity) of the personal, social, and intrapersonal aspects of being. This inity is expressed in the concept of InI,
which depending on the context, could refer to the individual, the
community, or divinity located in the personage of His Imperial
Majesty, Haile Selassie I, Jah Ras Tafari. Everything begins and ends
As Dawes explains, “Rastafarianism represents a fundamental break with
traditional and conventional Judaeo-Christianity. It redefines the
meaning of deity and recasts the figure of God in terms that are
antithetical to colonial representations of the Christian godhead. By
establishing a god in Haile Selassie, Rastafarianism breaks away from
the patterns of conventional Christianity that operate in Jamaica and
brings into being a new and very elaborate series of modern myths”
(98). Rastafari’s insistence on the validity of individual experience,
the indwelling god, “I,” whose union with the ever living God, “I”,
provided an
intellectual and experiential basis
to its claims. There was no difference between “I” and “I”. The
Cartesian mind/body split and the “I” and “Thou” of Buber were
obliterated. As Dawes further states, “This lends to reggae a defiant
but complex mythology and offers the reggae influenced artist an
approach to art that allows for a dialogue between the political and
the spiritual. Essentially, this quality in reggae defies much of the
binarism that characterises much of western discourse” (99). In other
words, the
legitimacy of a reggae influenced artist’s work would be based on her depiction of the experiences of the landscape, peoples, religions and cultures of the Caribbean or Plantation America […]

That's from Geoffrey Philp's "Reggae, Rastafari and Aesthetics" (via Planet Grenada) and it went well for me this evening with Spinner's "Sinead O'Connor Gives a Lesson in 'Theology'"