Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Danger In Your Eyes

The Danger In Your Eyes
(The original by Don Evans and the Paragons.)

The Danger In Your Eyes
(The Mighty Diamonds)

The Danger In Your Eyes
(Judah Eskender Tafari)

The Danger In Your Eyes
(Your Sound is Going Down)

The Danger In Your Eyes
(Linval Thompson)

The Danger In Your Eyes
(Giuliano Palma & The Bluebeaters)

The Danger In Your Eyes
(Empire All Stars)

The Danger In Your Eyes
(Gregory Issacs)

+ + +


Some songs hold up well to versions. Some songs (and musicians, and non-musician "music industry professionals") don't hold up well to versions--versions are like holy water, or wreathes of garlic to your typical, run-of-the-mill blood drinkers.

So is there "variation music" and "non variation" music?

Living music, and ossified music? (Let's not say dead.)

Would we be the richer or the poorer if every version sounded exactly like the Paragons?

What if someone told us (because I don't know either) that in every version, the artists were trying to duplicate exactly the original version by The Paragons?

Can any two pieces of (the same piece of) music sound exactly alike? Even if they are played by the same person? Sure, once you start heaping on the digital what not, things get pretty symmetrical, but really, just how exactly can any piece of music be duplicated?

Musical biodiversity? or stream-lined musical (re)production?

Musical reproduction?

copyright © 2009 Stanley J. Zappa

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Gilbert Gottfried
Brian Jones
Gavin MacLeod

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Yuki" by UA

From an educational children's program, apparently.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More Beheadings, More Stevie Wonder

Nothing starts the week quite like a beheading. Sure, taser-ing (?) someone to death is a real attention getter, what with it's more modern reading on humanities inescapable brutality, but there's just something timeless about a beheading--and timely too. Certainly by now you've all seen this--the episode of The Oracle where Max Keiser and James Kenneth Galbraith (not to be confused with John Kenneth Galbraith) discuss beheading bankers.

(As with the first beheading post--as with all blog type things--it's the comments really make the subject matter come alive.)

Since the media is trying so hard to put the beheading meme front and center, I though the polite thing to do was to join in--both in thinking about beheading, and amplifying that thought-form. Team player!

To be honest, I don't much care for beheading, and see it as, for starters, a crisis of creativity. Besides, beheading is a far too quick (and ultimately ineffective) way of balancing the books, so to speak. No, the bankers should lose their jobs, their homes, their health care, their teeth, their hair, their continence, and all the rest. "What? We can't live in New York City on $500,000 a year!"

But again, the "gangster nature of the state" demands we think about heads being removed from bodies, and so who to behead first?

+ + +

Here's a fun quote from internet super star Adolf Hitler: The Victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

What if "we" beheaded liars. If you lie, off with your head.

Would it be a deterrent?

What would be left of industry?

What would be left of government?

What would be left of education?

A lot of job vacancies, that's what!

What would the world be like if the lying were to stop? What would music be like? Not only would the music industry be immediately de-populated of musicians and those extra musical characters who make money off of musicians, but the music industry--the mechanisms in place by which extra musical characters promote and sell music would forever be changed. (Of course the economy will recover and the Grammy's will proceed as scheduled, and lying will never stop so don't get too worried.)

Speaking of fun quotes, here's a fun quote from Albert Einstein: I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

If I had to look forward to one or the other, I'm inclined to look forward to World War IV. Will the music industry be better or worse once we're back to sticks and stones? When defending the sacroscant, how will music industry and intellectual property lawyers duke it out against savage barbarians? Too bad there won't be any television at that point, as that would make for some good viewing--the staff of Berger Kahn issuing their C&D's with their fists. How about an ultimate fighting match between Owen J. Sloan and Jerry Outlaw. Who wouldn't want to see that?

How about Dizzy Gillespie's prophecy of the future of jazz being that of "a man beating on a drum?" Did he mean a synth drum with a "patch" downloaded (legally of course) from the internet?

+ + +

Getting back to Stevie Wonder and things you shouldn't really have to explain, here is Mr. Wonder's version of the Carpenter's hit We've Only Just Begun.

No difference since both taking money and both totally co-opted. Uh, sure, you can say that, if that makes you feel better--everyone likes to say things that make themselves feel better, and most of us do it compulsively, regardless of truth content. Far be it from me to get in the way of that. For those of you who truly find "interesting" the question of how artists make a living in the wider "parent" culture with out compromising their art perhaps it will be "interesting" to see my personal, subjective, no-relation-to-truth-or-reality reading of the actual beginning of the end for Mr. Wonder--the point of no return--the event marking the point where the ferment has turned the fruit into booze.

(Of course "we" never defined what constitutes "making a living" and I suppose that means different things for different people.)

But first, a quick Bill Dixon memory. Bill Dixon used to give a lecture class on Saturday's that lasted around 4 hours. He'd pick an artist each semester--Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Cecil Taylor--and go deep into their work mostly by playing their music and, either through personal memory or printed examples, attempting to paint a portrait of the social conditions from which the music evolved. One time when discussing Cecil Taylor the question came up of how Cecil Taylor could "afford to live in New York City" making the music (and not the money) he did. Bill Dixon paused and asked "would you rather talk about Cecil Taylor's music or would you rather talk about Cecil Taylor's finances?"

+ + +

While it has been opined that the moment you take any money for any kind of musical labour (but not computer work?), you've already lent your hand in your own destruction and started a quick bidding war on your soul, it is also true that someone can walk around for a long time with cancer before they actually "have" cancer. Can you dig it? Does life begin at the moment of conception? I guess that all depends on what you mean by "life" and who did the conceiving. Does music end with the taking of money? I guess that all depends on how much money you take, who you take it from, and what you're taking it for. There's plenty of people out there who would say Bush II was a delightful president, too, so maybe words don't mean anything after all...

So here we are, at the Grammy's in 1975. Stevie is seen and heard here taking a mega swipe at the Nixon administration, and by mega swipe I mean annunciating many of the frustrations and hurt feelings of many of his (Stevie's) constituents.

And that was the end of that (depending, of course, on your agenda, because in a way and at that point, Stevie had only just begun...)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Recycling Is Not Enough [Verse 2]


Flow Chart:




+ + +

* Superstition on Sesame Street = 1,872,357 views

* Superstition with Whitney Houston on the Arsenio Hall show = 11,692 views

* Superstition with The Jonas Brothers at a "surprise post AMA concert in Hollywood" = 1,419,372 views

+ + +

For now, lets consider the first two only, and by consider I mean this:

Imagine there are two large vats--one Sesame Street vat and one Arsenio Hall Show vat. Now imagine cutting off everyone's head on Sesame Street and draining all the blood into the Sesame Street vat. Now imagine cutting off everyone's head on the Arsenio Hall Show (you can take more time imagining that if you like) and, as before, draining all that blood (and what ever other so called "blood" drains out) into the Arsenio Hall Show vat.

Comparing these two imaginary vats, which vat contains more booze? Which vat contains more cocaine? Which vat contains more saturated fats? Which vat contains more heavy metals? Which vat contains more dioxins? Which vat contain more active cancer cells? Which vat contains more microchips?

Does that have any relationship to the music in the two projects?

Do we even perceive a difference between the two projects? I mean, they're both Superstition "by" Stevie Wonder right?

+ + +

Leaving our vats of blood aside for the moment, lets consider the non-corporal extra musical factors of each performance.

Audience: Was Stevie Wonder aware of the audience in either performance? Yes, yes, we know he couldn't see the audience, but did Stevie Wonder understand that one performance was for an audience of children watching TV in the day time and another was for an audience of adults who are up late at night watching Arsenio Hall?

Did Stevie Wonder have a cultural conception of Kermit the Frog? Did he have a cultural conception of Whitney Houston? Is there a cultural difference between Kermit the Frog and Whitney Houston? How about an energetic difference? How about a psychic difference? Having experienced both, do you think Stevie Wonder favours one over the other?

Administration: Was Stevie Wonder aware that Sesame Street is a production of the Children's Television Workshop, and aired on Public Television? Was Steve Wonder aware that the Arsenio Hall show is roughly the exact opposite--a totally corporate experience who's main goal is to appease and delight advertisers and corporate overlords?

Recuperation: Which performance was the more lucrative for Stevie Wonder? Which performance was the more lucrative for the respective interests controlling the respective television shows? Which performance is more likely to endure--or said another way, which performance is more likely to be come "obsolete?" If you could only take one youtube video with you to your next life, which one would it be? Would it be the Sesame Street video with the children dancing, or would it be the Arsenio Hall performance where neither Whitney nor Arsenio are really all that sure of the lyrics?

If Stevie Wonder could only take one youtube video with him to his next life, which one do you think he would choose? Did any of that come into play for Stevie Wonder, or is "a gig a gig?"

+ + +

So what Stevie Wonder debased himself on the Arsenio Hall show...double so what if Stevie Wonder made a bunch of money for the networks and their handlers. Is not the frantic hoarding of money at the expense of everything else the ultimate, highest good?

+ + +

A quick joke.

This one was told to me by an old Italian man with whom I worked as a teen. It goes something like this:

Once upon a time, the Italian police were out doing their police things when they came upon a "crazy" person acting "strange." Naturally, the police men arrested this "crazy" person for his "strange" behavior.

When they returned to their police car with the "crazy" person, they saw that someone had stolen one of the wheels of their police car. They stole the nuts too. Since there wasn't enough nuts, they couldn't use the spare tire at all, what so ever.

Then the "crazy" person said

"hey you stunad cops, why not take one nut off the remaining three wheels--with three nuts you'll be able to put the spare tire on and drive me to the police station where all the fun is"

The cops breathed in and out their mouths for a moment, and then did what the "crazy" person said.

As they drove to the station, the "crazy" person said "I may be crazy, but that doesn't mean I'm stupid!"

And then the police beat the "crazy" man to death in his cell.

+ + +

Now what about those Jonas Brothers? And how about the old guy on the acoustic guitar at around 0:37? How does that make you feel? Did it make you feel the same way as the kid on the Sesame Street video at 0:38?

If you were to have told me that video two was actually an 'evil spell' cast to neutralise the song "Superstition" once and for all--that by consenting to and becoming complicit in a larger, darker 'ritual' called "The Arsenio Hall Show with Whitney Houston"--by Stevie Wonder lending his own hand to the parent culture's re-framing of the initial conception and gestalt of Superstition in the name of commerce--by sipping that blood, that filthy filthy blood, Stevie Wonder actually gave birth to the Jonas Brother's "surprise" performance.

+ + +


Because really, nothing says spontaneous and surprising like a concert in Hollywood by the Jonas Brothers after the AMA awards. And since words only mean things when words meaning things help consolidate a multinational plutocracy's position in the marketplace, then here's to more acoustic guitars and flat irons to take that unfortunate kink out of your hair, more 4.99 radios, and versions of songs that, like most consumer products, shall become entirely obsolete before the song is even over.

The economic health of the 'civilised' world depends on it!

+ + +

While this is probably totally un true, I seem to recall reading something (though I don't remember where) about Willem De Kooning wherein the author (who's name I don't remember) said that he, Willem De Kooning, the artist, wasn't mixing his own paints, and by that I mean some assistants were, in a parental way mixing his paints for him, and by that I mean mixing them in a way that they--the parent culture, and not Willem De Kooning, the artist--thought best.

Even if this is totally untrue, a gross mis-representation of the 'truth' it asks the question to what degree is intervention by the parent culture in the goings on of the artist appropriate?

Is someone mixing paint for Willem De Kooing in the colours and consistency they think is appropriate a "half truth?" Did we ever get a consensus on the value of a half truth?

How about when a 'presenting organization' says to the artist "well, we 'art administrators' from the parent culture realise that you, as artist, want a particular instrumentation for your piece of art that you are creating, and we understand that you, as the artist, want things to go a certain way in this piece of art that you are creating, but we as the parent culture, as professional 'arts administrators' have a more pressing agenda that trumps yours, and since what you do is "just" improvisation, perhaps you can 'improvise' with our version of your instrumentation, based upon our needs as administrators and owners of credit cards. We appreciate your co-operation and thanks for being a team player!

If given the choice between a work of art that was the realisation of the artists conception or a work of art that was the simulacrum of an artists conception as bent by promised wages, profit potential and personal likes and dislikes of the administrators, which would you choose?

Can we even tell the difference any more?

Is the creation of lasting works of art as envisioned by the artist even part of the larger, administered program?

Wash my face and hands...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Reviews Are In...Again

When Takashi Miike's "banned" contribution to the Masters of Horror series, Imprint, was released to DVD by Anchor Bay a while back, many reviews singled out the audio commentary by Chris D. and myself for special praise. Now Imprint has been released to Blu-Ray with our commentary in tow, and the kudos are flying once again.

Says Gabriel Powers of DVDActive:

"...Every episode does come with an audio commentary, but of the four tracks only Imprint's commentary is particularly stunning. Japanese film experts Chris D. and Writer Wyatt Doyle are engaging and entertaining as they try to contextualize Miike’s wacky feature within the realms of their expertise."

I can't say for sure whether or not it's a first, but Imprint is the only DVD release I can recall where critics have lambasted the movie while praising the commentary track. It's very flattering, to say the least.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Gordon Shoemaker Reel

Says Gordon:

"This is a demo reel I made of some of my early films that I screened at The Haverford School Open Mic Night as part of a promo for the Main Line Student Film Festival on April 28, 2009 (7-9 P.M.) at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. The films shown are copyrighted."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pionero del Rock

Poor Buddy, 50 years gone today. Since you barely hear him even on "oldies" stations, does this mean he'll finally get some proper airplay, at least for the day?

Favorite Buddy Holly records no longer played on terrestrial radio:

"Well...All Right"
"It Doesn't Matter Anymore"
"Think It Over"
"Take Your Time"

Thanks to Plato Jesus.