Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Many is Three Trillion?

Indeed, for frail human nature the use of exclusion or denial is immensely seductive as the answer to most problems, including moral and social ones. It is always easier, as Johnson said, to throw out or forbid than to incorporate -- "to take away superfluities than to supply defects." In the title of George Granville's Essay upon Unnatural Flights in Poetry (1701), with all that it suggests, we sense the relief that neoclassic theory could provide: something still remained to be done, and the difficulties were not insuperable.

In the very limitation, in other words, lay much of the attraction. ("No one unable to limit himself," said Boileau, "has ever been able to write.") If in our quick summary we appear to belittle, we should remind ourselves that what we are saying can apply to any formalism that is deliberately exclusive (as opposed to the necessary exclusions in primitive arts), and especially if it is a formalism trying to free itself from,
or establish itself after, a strongly emotional and richly mimetic (that is, "realistic") art. We have only to think of the immense effort of the arts, including music, of the early and middle twentieth century to get the nineteenth century off their backs. So strenuous -- at times single minded -- was the effort that, during the childhood and youth of those of us now middle-aged, many of us began to assume that the first requirement of the sophisticated poet, artist, or composer was to be as unlike his nineteenth-century predecessors as possible. We even had moments when we suspected that the principle influence on modern poetry, for example, was not so much the array of abstractions cited in the recondite search for aim or justification, but rather the poetry of Tennyson. What we are trying desperately to be unlike can tell a great deal about not only what we are doing but why, and a movement may often be better understood by what it concretely opposes than by its theoretical slogans. In short, this is a situation in which we ourselves have directly shared, and when we confront something like it in other periods we should be able to approach it with some empathy if not with the most fervent applause.

W. Jackson Bate, The Burden of the Past, p. 20-21

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Something still remains to be done...right? There's still notes on the saxophone yet to be played, there's still more licks on the guitar yet to be mastered...right? It really isn't all about money laundering and tax write-offs, is it?

Oh to crawl up that cooter and back into the dope drenched goateed womb of Jazz. A nice masters degree program, somewhere warm maybe. Somewhere with a good meal plan. A place to network with other like minded people who also believe that there is still fresh milk in those sagging, well tugged udders.

A coloring book, as opposed to a blank canvas. Or maybe a paint by numbers.

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Are "we" still trying to get the nineteenth century off our backs, or are we trying desperately to get the nineteenth century back on our backs so as to provide some lines in which to color--so as to combat "blank canvas" syndrome?

Now that it is the 21st century (are we off to a great start or what?) is there an effort to get the 20th century off our backs? Is it too early to define the 20th century? What is it about the 20th century might we want to shed? The shedding? Will the 21st century be about shedding the shedding?

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As an entirely unrelated aside, once upon a time I spent an afternoon sharpening all 64 crayons with the built in sharpener. Once I was done I took all the 64 color shavings and melted them. (Do I know how to have fun or what?) In the melting, those 64 color shavings all became one semi solid mass and assumed a delightful monochromatic brownish grey color.

+ + +

Speaking of crayons and Jazz and official versus unofficial tribute bands, how's everyone feeling? Anyone feeling depressed?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Destri Martino's PHLEGM wraps!

from Destri Martino:

"So, we had this random Russian kid at the Phlegm shoot who was determined to do a behind-the-scenes film of us... Fingers are still crossed that we don't end up in some sort of Eastern European human trafficking sex ring thing (I know, I watch too many crime dramas)...

"In the meantime, here's a quick teaser he put together. Gives you a taste of what the shoot was like...We got Phlegm in the can! WOOHOO!!"

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Lest you forget...

Jason Cuadrado's Tales From the Dead will premiere at the New York International Latino Film Festival tomorrow, Friday, July 25. As previously mentioned, Tales is the first horror film the festival has ever screened. It's also the first Japanese-language film in the festival's nine-year history.

Writer/director Cuadrado will also be participating in a festival panel on "Latin Horror" on Saturday the 26th.

Our congratulations in advance to Jason on this historic occasion.

To purchase tickets for both events, visit the NYILFF website:

Kind words are also due writer Robert Hood, who's joined us in spreading the good word about Tales via his blog, Undead Backbrain. You can read his thoughts on the film here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New photos by Wyatt Doyle

"Guy Smiley" by Wyatt Doyle, now on New Texture.

Click here to view the series, or click on the image below.

copyright © 2008 Wyatt Doyle

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vanina Marsot in Cambodia

(click image to enlarge)

Preah Neak Pean

copyright, © 2008 Vanina Marsot

John Blum Quartet at Context, 1995

January 5, 1995

John Blum (piano), Raphe Malik (trumpet), Karen Borca (Bassoon), Marco Eneidi (alto saxophone), Dan O'Brien (bass), Jackson Krall (drums)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Only Right And Natural

To the England of the Restoration and the early eighteenth century, the mature and sophisticated neoclassicism of France had an irresistible appeal. It gave the English poet a chance to be different from his immediate predecessors while at the same time it offered a counter-ideal that was impressively, almost monolithically, systematized. French neoclassicism appeared to have answers ready for almost any kind of objection to it. And most of the answers had this further support: they inevitably referred -- or pulled the conscience back -- to the premises of "reason" and of ordered nature that the English themselves were already sharing, though not perhaps in the same spirit as the French. To dismiss an argument that led directly back to "reason" was something they were not at all prepared to do. It was like attacking virtue itself. Even the most articulate writers who might feel hesitations (for example the group appropriately called, in England as well as France, the je ne sais quoi critics) still lacked the vocabulary to express any effective alternative...

In addition they had ready to hand the central neoclassic concept of
decorum -- of "propriety" or "what is fitting." In almost every way (ancestry, centrality, potential range of application) its credentials as both an aim and working premise were superb. Its origin was the ancient Greek and specifically the Aristotelean conception of the function of art as a unified, harmonious imitation of an ordered nature. As, in the process of nature itself, the parts interrelate through universal, persisting forms and principles, so art in its own particular medium (words, sounds, or visual shapes) seeks to duplicate that process, but at the same time to stress or to highlight it. Hence art concentrates, even more than we in our ordinary experience do, on the general form -- selecting only what contributes directly to the particular end (or form) and rejecting what does not. As such, poetry is more "philosophical," as Aristotle said, than a straightforward factual narrative. It is, in short, closer to the "ideal," but "ideal" in the original sense in Greek -- in the intellectual perception of pattern, form, and general meaning. Decorum applies to the relevance or fitness of every part to the whole in this "ideal" and admittedly foreshortened selection, which permits a finished and rounded totality. Given its success in art, we have not only unity and cleanliness of form (and with them finish and completeness) but intellectual range and pertinence: cousinship at least (in its best moments something approaching the fraternal) to the process of nature itself when nature is viewed with a philosophical selectivity that focuses not on its accidental details but on its persisting forms.

W. Jackson Bate, p. 18-19

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What is nature if not accidental details?

Where is Wilhelm Reich when you need him?

Grandpa, what was nature like before man began detonating atomic devices and striping the skies with, uh, normal jet propulsion related condensation?

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Does anyone remember the 80's? No one will think less of you if you don't (though all said, it was a pretty good time for music.) My recollection of it was that of a culture enamored with "neo-classicism." Ronald Reagan: Lots of answers, lots of "reason," lots of "virtue," lots of knowing better and lots and lots of "decorum." Big houses getting built with columns in the front. Birth of the Mc Mansion--that kind of devilry.

It really was a golden age for the parent culture and the administered society. So much to be proud of. American hegemony was a good thing, wanted by all, it's export a civilizing force to be gifted upon the Godless, culture-less, shopping mall-less peoples of the mostly savage, dirty, mean, scary world.

Indeed, attacking Reagan at that time was to attack a minority of people who were making the majority of the money. To question them and their rapidly accumulating wealth was and is of course entirely unacceptable, as to do so was to question reason, virtue, and the natural order of things.

(blah blab blah blab blah blab blab...)

+ + +

So how's that duplicating of universal, persisting forms going? How's that seeking to duplicate our understanding of the "process of nature?"

Hey, how did we arrive at that understanding of the "process of nature?"

Really now, do "we" have any idea how nature works? (Can you really blame the youth for thinking they do?)

Is the "process of nature" and (our perception, let alone the reality of) "persisting forms" the same now as it was in Restoration England of the early 18th century? If so, is that good or bad?

How about the distribution of wealth? How about the outlook and values of those in possession of the wealth verses the outlook and values of those not in possession of the wealth? That's about the same, right? Not much has changed there since the early 1700's. But nature is nature, right--an unchanging constant where forms persist exactly the same way now and forever? Shouldn't matter if you're rich or poor--everyone sees (and experiences) "the process of nature" the same, right?

+ + +

By now you should be able to read

"[it] offered a counter-ideal that was impressively, almost monolithically, systematized. French neoclassicism appeared to have answers ready for almost any kind of objection to it."

and insert the appropriate "hurt words" and "hurt word recipients" yourself.

Makes its own sauce!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And Another Thing

I got so carried away telling you about my time at free jazz band camp for grown ups that I neglected to give this little nugget the proper attention:

all the most fruitful possibilities in music have already been so brilliantly exploited that nothing is now left for the art except a parody of itself and of its past -- a self-mockery, technically accomplished but spiritually dead in hope, in short, an "Aristocratic nihilism."

+ + +

Say you make a big pot of soup. Flaczki for example. Dinner time comes around, you put the flaczki in bowls on the table, everyone eats, but there is a bit left in the pot. Into the tupperwear goes the left over flaczki.

The next morning you wake hungry. On to the stove goes the entire pot and it all gets heated up again. But alas, you could only finish half of what got heated a second time.

Can the flaczki get put back into the tupperwear to be cooled a second time and later, heated a third? Is that foodsafe?

Just how many times can you heat and cool flaczki before it is entirely without nutrient, taste or texture?

Does music work the same way? How many more times can we cool and reheat Jazz? How many more times can we cool and reheat Bach? How about Charlie Parker? How about Frank Zappa?

I suppose if you made a really really big pot of flaczki--like 842,000 gallons--I suppose you could keep the flaczki on a low simmer and eat it every day for the next 100 years.

Or could you? How long can you keep flaczki on simmer before it met the same mushy, nutritionally empty, tasteless fate?

+ + +

Hands up, who is at once titillated and confused by the line "Aristocratic Nihilism?"

Why Aristocratic? What does wealth and social station have to do with it?

Do wealth and social station influence musical output?

Has anyone made a list of artists by their parents net worth?

Not to harp on this, but the Zappa Plays Zappa thing is quite the interesting test case, if not with regards to W. Jackson Bate's notions, than with regards to the Nature V. Nurture question.

On the one hand, Dweezil has as much of the antecedent's genetic material as one can. On the other, Dweezil's socio-economic reality growing up could not have been more different than his father's.

To be sure, there is no lack of technical accomplishment anywhere anymore, least of all within the ZPZ ensemble. Absolute consummate musicians one and all. Dweezil especially so--a "covering cherub" on the guitar if ever there was one. A huge and capable talent.

Yet to follow the Bate line, one has to ask if they (the group) and it (the mission) are "spiritually dead in hope."

But what does spiritually dead in hope actually mean? And who's the MD who gets to sign that death certificate? Is that something that can be done from the outside, or is that something only the musician knows? Further, does anyone really care about spiritual life in hope? Who books the spiritual life in hope shows and where?

I really am asking.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

TALES FROM THE DEAD to premiere at New York International Latino Film Festival

Jason Cuadrado's Tales From the Dead will premiere at the New York International Latino Film Festival on July 25. Incredibly, it's the first horror film the festival has ever screened. It's also the first Japanese-language film in the festival's nine-year history.

Writer/director Cuadrado will also be participating in a festival panel on "Latin Horror" on the 26th.

To purchase tickets, visit the NYILFF website:

And because it was good of them to mention it, click here to read Fangoria's piece on the film at NYILFF.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Anti Art Again

For Mann's twentieth-century Faustus, a German composer of genius, all the most fruitful possibilities in music have already been so brilliantly exploited that nothing is now left for the art except a parody of itself and of its past -- a self-mockery, technically accomplished but spiritually dead in hope, in short, an "Aristocratic nihilism." It is "anti-art" in the sense of art turning finally against itself. And this modern Dr. Faustus, so cerebral and self-conscious before the variety and richness of what has already been done, sells his soul to the devil -- as in the old Faust legend -- in order to be able once again to produce great art. The special horror is that this involves the willing, the deliberately chosen, destruction of part of his brain in order to free himself from the crippling inhibitions of self-consciousness -- a partial destruction of the brain that is to be followed, after the agreed lapse of years, by what he knows beforehand will be a complete disintegration.

The universality of the problem lies in the fact that the arts, in addition to everything else that can be said of them, are also the sensitive antennae of human life generally; that as with them so, in time, with everything else that we still subsume by the word "culture" (however inadequate the word--but we have no other shorthand term). If what is implied in Mann's fable is or even could be true, or half true, then what of man's situation in general as he is now beginning to face, and will face increasingly, the potential self-division forced upon him by his growing literacy and sophistication -- his knowledge about himself, his past, the immense variety of what has been done and said, all brought with immediate focus and pressure, like a huge inverted pyramid, upon the naked moment, the short flicker, of any one individual life?

Bate, W. Jackson, The burden of the Past and the English Poet, p.10-11

+ + +

Hee-larious that Mann wrote his Fausts fable while "living in exile in Southern California."

Southern California--a great place to disable part of your brain in order to make art.

+ + +

Speaking of "the immense variety of what has been done and said, all brought with immediate focus and pressure, like a huge inverted pyramid, upon the naked moment," I went to VCMI.

Good times, and worth every penny. The chance to have Darśana with the likes of Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Maya Homburger, Ramon Strid, Giorgio Magnanensi, François Houle, Benoit Delbecq, the Bozzini string quartet and Ken Morrison, let alone the chance to suck up plenty of sonic prana spilled freely and generously by the unnervingly capable instrumentalists gathered for said event made it well worth the capital.

What was especially interesting about VCMI (for me, anyway) was all the different huge inverted pyramids pressuring the different individuals.

Certainly everyone has the Bill Dixon/Cecil Taylor/Charles Gayle/Jimmy Lyons/Marco Eneidi pyramid stabbing them in the chest, no?

Well, no, actually. In fact, only one "old guy at the club" had that particular pyramid problem. The rest were plagued by, well, other things and other people. This pyramid disparity became quickly apparent within the first hour or so of classes at VCMI, thus compelling me, as old guy at the club, to keep a list of proper nouns heard at said event.

So here you go, an incomplete list of proper nouns I heard at VCMI in no particular order without citation as to who said them or the context in which they were said:

Jon Falt
John Rahn
Boulez: Dialogue Between a Man and his Shadow
Messian: Quartet for the End of Time
Francois Louie Reeds
Daniel Pinchbeck
David Chokroun
Barry Guy: Phases of the Night
Charles Farrel
Ned Rothenberg
Michael Nyman: The Piano
Lynn Picknet
Richard Hoagland
William O. Smith
Jessee Canterbury
Christopher Dudney
Cornelius Cardew
The Oxford Linguists
Jean-Marie Londeix
Maggie Nichols
Peter Van Bergen
Coat Cook
Hilliard Ensemble
Peter Eisman
Joel Ryan

Charles Muses: Destiny and Control in Human Systems
Jacques Attali: Noise: The Political Economy of Music

Lars Gullin
Stephen O'Malley
Arthur Young
Foucault: Discipline and Punish
Martid Davidson
Tony Faulkner

+ + +

How did that list make you feel? We'll analyze said list another time--for now I just wanted to share.

And I really did have a good time at VCMI, and I am eager to find out who will be at next year's VCMI, as I would love to attend it again (and again.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

From Plato Jesus:

Nothing says Fourth of July like putting a price tag on the killing we're doing in the name of freedom. In that spirit, allow me to reflect on a recent report by Congressional Research Service (CRS) and provide a brief update:

How much have we spent to fight wars in the past 7 years?

About $700 billion since 9/11 on Iraq, Afghanistan, and bunkers.

If you total what has been spent on military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans' health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks - Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) - Congress has approved about $700 billion.

Where is the money going?

Mostly through the Defense Department to Iraq. Of that total, Iraq will receive about $524 billion (75%), OEF about $141 billion (20%), and enhanced base security about $28 billion (4%), with about $5 billion that CRS cannot allocate (1%). About 94% of the funds are for DOD, 6% for foreign aid programs and embassy operations, and less than 1% for medical care for veterans.

What is the current rate of spending?

A little over $12 billion a month. As of April 2008, DOD's monthly obligations for contracts and pay averaged about $12.1 billion, including $9.8 billion for Iraq, and $2.3 billion for Afghanistan.

How much are we going to spend in the short-term (the next 2 years)?

We're committed to at least another $163 billion over the next two years, but this could be supplemented later as has often been done since 9/11.

On June 19, the House passed a new version of H.R. 2642, the FY2008 Supplemental, which is expected to be considered by the Senate next week. That bill includes $163 billion for both FY2008 and FY2009. If this clears the Senate and becomes law, war funding would total $857 billion, including $656 billion for Iraq, $173 billion for Afghanistan, and $29 billion for enhanced security.

How much are we going to spend in the long-term (the next 10 years)?

It depends on how many troops we keep in Iraq and for how long. In February 2008, the Congressional Budget Office projected that additional war costs from 2009 through 2018 under two scenarios: If troop levels are reduced to 30,000 by 2010, we will spend another $440 billion between now and 2018, for a total of over $1 trillion. If troop levels are reduced to 75,000 by 2013, we will spend another $1 trillion between now and 2018, for a total of over $1.7 trillion.

All very fascinating and depressing reading, but a couple of other numbers don't appear in the report:

US soldiers killed in Iraq: 4,413
US soliders wounded in Iraq: over 30,000
US soldiers killed in Afghanistan: 541
US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan: over 2,000
US soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan 32,000
US soldiers currently serving in Iraq 160,000

So, how's the war to protect freedom going?

Let's just say we've spent about $700 billion and if we're really lucky, we're likely to spend only at least twice that in the next decade. As for the human toll, it's a blurry and forgotten footnote.

copyright, © 2008 Plato Jesus

photo by Wyatt Doyle

Red, White, Blue and Newstastic!

The 4th of July means patriotism and cookouts, and our own Plato Jesus manages to bring us both at once - patriotically raking current events over the briquettes with TEN fresh entries in his much-beloved That's Newstastic! series. Why, I have a feeling he's even wearing a red, white and blue "Kiss the Cook" apron.

Click below to read 'em all, and try not to choke on your wiener:

The cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror

Japan's robot for lonely men

North Meets South: Vermont Secessionists Meet with Racist League of the South

Japanese woman caught living in man's closet

The Amazonian tribe that hid from the rest of the world - until now

Foreclosures in Military Towns Surge at Four Times U.S. Rate

A Conflict's Buffer Zone: Rocks, and Inches

Vikings Cheerleaders Visit Bagram Air Base

Paulville? Count Ron Paul out

Reactive Revolution: Meet the Pulverizers

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vanina Marsot in Cambodia

(click image to enlarge)

East Mebon elephant

copyright, © 2008 Vanina Marsot

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New story by Wyatt Doyle

"Interpretations" by Wyatt Doyle, now on New Texture.

Click here to read it, or click on the image below.

photo copyright © 2008 Wyatt Doyle