Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

New work by Moby Pomerance!

"He knows four words of English and his name is one of them. He’s pale and skinny with long hair and a more than a little devilish goatee. Even more sinister, he brings a violin. To a blues jam. That’s bringing a rock to a gun fight."

The Gitter Cranicals 7: When the Devil comes, show him the skinny kid from Silesia.

Click here to read it in full.

Missed an installment?

To read Part 1, click here.

To read Part 2, click here.

To read Part 3, click here.

To read Part 4, click here.

To read Part 5, click here.

To read Part 6, click here.

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Captain Sensible
Raúl Velasco
Albert Zugsmith
Robert Penn Warren

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vanina Marsot in Berlin

(click image to enlarge)

the TV tower and the Spree

copyright © 2009 Vanina Marsot

Vanina Marsot will be speaking on the Window on the World panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Saturday April 25 at 1:30 pm. For more information and the full schedule, click here.

Click here to order your copy of Vanina's new book, Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris.

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Franco Citti
Sandra Dee
Lee Majors
Vladimir Nabokov
Roy Orbison
Sergei Prokofiev
William Shakespeare
Simone Simon
Hervé Villechaize

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vanina Marsot Interviewed

A pair of typically charming interviews with our own Vanina Marsot, now online:

Paris Through Expatriate Eyes

The Literate Housewife Review

Vanina will be speaking on the Window on the World panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Saturday April 25 at 1:30 pm. For more information and the full schedule, click here.

Click here to order your copy of Vanina Marsot's new book, Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris.

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Iggy Pop

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Re: two screen caps‏

The first is from Knight Rider, episode 1; Knight of the Phoenix. (You might remember this one.) The band is playing their Las Vegas version of 'Proud Mary'.

The next one was an unexpected transition.
I think it's Frances McDormand superimposed over Michael Douglas. I'm not sure who the guy on the right is.

copyright © 2009 Dan Nicholson

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Tim Curry
Suge Knight
Jayne Mansfield
Paloma Picasso
Alan Price
Don Sharp

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Vanina Marsot in Berlin

(click image to enlarge)

here you leave the capitalist sector

copyright © 2009 Vanina Marsot

Click here to order your copy of Vanina Marsot's new book, Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris.

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Charles Chaplin
Anatole France
Herbie Mann
Spike Milligan
Catherine Scorsese
George "The Animal" Steele
Robert Stigwood

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New work by Moby Pomerance

"He's had a rough time of it recently. A bi-polar friend of his had drunk himself to death. Work had been tough. His wife (number 2) was recovering from an operation. We'd been sitting there for over an hour before he mentioned his sister had died two weeks before."


Click here to read it in full.

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Michael Ansara
Claudia Cardinale
Butch Cassidy
Leonardo Da Vinci
Lita Grey
Gert Wilden

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FOREIGN TONGUE released today!

Vanina Marsot's new novel, Foreign Tongue, is released today from Harper Collins.

Get yourself to an independent bookstore and pick it up! Or order your copy online here.

Congratulations, Vanina!

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Daniel Clowes
Brad Garrett
Liz Renay
Rod Steiger
Lee Tracy

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

From a Philadelphia Notebook

(click image to enlarge)

copyright © 2009 Wyatt Doyle

Tambourine Assessment

Still skipping through Capital. It's a real springtime laugh riot!

I thought these were fun, and by fun I mean something we could do our ol' put-words-in-paranthesis game as a way to get our minds around some concepts:

As capital has the tendency to reduce the direct employment of living labour (get rid of the extraneous guys in the band) to the necessary minimum and constantly shorten the labour needed for the creation of a product by exploiting the social productivity of labour, i.e. economising as much as possible on directly applied living labour, (less pay for less people) so it also has the tendency to apply this labour, which has already been reduced to its necessary amount, under the most economical circumstances, i.e. to reduce the value of the constant capital (musicians) applied to the absolute minimum. If the value of commodities is determined by the necessary labour time contained in them (that includes rehearsal) and not simply by labour-time as such (the time it takes to play the songs), it is capital that first makes a reality of this mode of determination and immediately goes on to reduce continually the labour socially necessary for the production of a commodity (a CD, a concert, a DVD). The price of the commodity is therefore reduced to a minimum through reducing to a minimum each part of the labour required to produce it. (eventually you 'learn the songs' and can play them with ease--and less rehersal time.)

Marx, Carl, Capital Volume 3, the Transformation of Surplus-Value into Profit, p. 180

and then there's this one:

If we consider capitalist production in the narrow sense and ignore the process of circulation and the excesses of competition, it (capitalist production) is extremely sparing with the realised labour that is objectified in commodities. Yet it squanders human beings, living labour, more readily than does any other mode of production, squandering not only flesh and blood, but nerves and brain as well. In fact it is only through the most tremendous waste of individual development that the development of humanity in general is secured and pursued, in that epoch of history that directly precedes the conscious reconstruction of human society. Since the whole of the economising we are discussing here arises from the social character of labour, it is in fact precisely this directly social character of labour that produces this waste of the workers' life and health. The question raised by factory inspector R. Baker is very pertinent here:

'The whole question is one for serious consideration, in what way this sacrifice of infant life occasioned by congregational labour* can be best averted? (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories...31 October 1863, p. 157 [Marx emphasis].)

* 'Congregational labour' means here labour carried on by large masses of people working in association.

Marx, Carl, Capital Volume 3, the Transformation of Surplus-Value into Profit, p. 182

+ + +

Capitalism hurts families--especially babies!

+ + +

Ah yes, the social character of labour. I seem to recall reading somewhere in that cute Goodwill-bought Lenin book that "labour becomes socialised, profit remains privatised" which I took to mean that while everyone in the band becomes friends (or not) and works together (regardless of the duress that may cause) profit remains the personal private plaything of "the leader" or "the owner" or "the boss."

What is "profit" anyway? Is it really earnings for something which the capitalist did not pay? Is it really an arbitrary amount arbitrarily chosen by the capitalist?

Reading Capital has given me a wonderful opportunity to confront my own Stockholm-syndrome reluctance to accept the idea that everyone should have the same hourly wage.

Tambourine players come to mind. 'Anyone' can play the tambourine, right? Shake the it a bit, smack it against your ass now and then and poof, you're a tambourine player. No need to go to Julliard (or Bennington) for that and so...what?

What would reggae music be without a tambourine? Reggae music without a tambourine, that's what...but what good is that? It would appear that in the song at the top of this blog, the tambourine seems pretty darn central. Someone had to play it...did they get paid less than the drummer? Did the tambourine player get paid less than the people at the record company, whom one cannot hear at all on the recording?

How does one begin to assess the, uh, "value percentage" (my term, obviously) of the tambourine contribution in relation to everything else?

Has that tambourine player been replaced by someone named Roland? If so, who benefitted from that change? The music? The out of work tambourine player? The recording industry? The lucky workers at the Roland factory?

If a job can be done by machines, does that mean it should be done by machines--is that all the justification needed?

Is there an instance (in music, at least) when efficiency and economy does not trump everything else?

copyright © 2009 Stanley J. Zappa

Universal Labor Mix (Marx Is So Hot Right Now)

Boing Boing...what can you say? They rule to where this humble blog runs the risk of becoming simply a place where I go "oooh, aaah" over their latest posts. But c'mon now, you gotta love a post called Marx was Right!

And indeed, as Marxism might have it, it is the people (and their comments) that bring the post to life, so do read those if you go.

Reading Capital is a real devotion. It's worth it, but it isn't easy. Not for me anyway, so I'm going to take Richard Metzger's tip and I'm going to read it with David Harvey. Won't you join me? C'mon, a Capital reading group featuring the lads of free jazz bloggery.

Because really, how can you deny passages like these:

Finally, however, it is only the experience of the combined worker that discovers and demonstrates how inventions already made can most simply be developed, how to overcome the practical frictions that arise in putting the theory into practice--its application to the production process, and so on.

We must distinguish here, incidentally, between universal labour and communal labour. They both play their part in the production process, and merge into one another, but they are each different as well. Universal labour is all scientific work, all discovery and invention. It is brought about partly by the cooperation of men now living, but partly also by building on earlier work. Communal labor, however, simply involves the direct cooperation of individuals.

All this receives fresh confirmation from certain facts that have frequently been observed:

(1) The great difference in costs between the first construction of a new machine and its reproductions. See Ure and Babbage*

(2) The much greater costs that are always involved in an enterprise based on new inventions, compared with later establishments that rise up on its ruins, ex suis ossibus.** The extent of this is so great that the pioneering entrepreneurs generally go bankrupt, and it is only their successors who flourish, thanks to their possession of cheaper buildings, machinery etc. Thus it is generally the most worthless and wretched kind of money-capitalists that draw the greatest profit from all new developments of the universal labour of the human spirit and their social applications by combined labour.

* This is Charles Babbage (1792 - 1871), best remembered as the inventor of the first calculating machine. Marx refers to his book On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, London, 1832. The work on the same subject by Andrew Ure (1778-1857), The Philosophy of Manufactures, published in 1835, Marx considered the best work of its time on large-scale industry, and he makes frequent use of it in Volume 1 of Capital
** from its bones

Marx, Karl. Capital. The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Profit, Economy in the Use of Constant Capital, p. 199. (Penguin Classics)

+ + +

Did you pick up on the part about Babbage and the calculating machine? I heard that the Sumerians had an abacus in 2700 BC. Don't you do calculations on an abacus? What am I not understanding about the meaning of words?

+ + +

Is music a "universal labor" or is it a "communal labor" that only sometimes dips into "universal labor?" Does it (our beloved improvised music) fall under the heading of "all discovery and invention?" Does it fall under the heading of "science?" Is it none of those things? It has to be something. I know that much.

If it is "the most worthless and wretched kind of money-capitalist" that preys upon the "universal labor of the human spirit," then what kind of money-capitalist preys upon definitely-not-universal-labor-music-but-music-just-the-same music?

And what is that music? Is that the symphony orchestra? Is that the "tribute" band? Is it less worthless and wretched to prey upon non-universal-labor-music because their job is somehow easier? Is it "easier" being in a pre determined right-and-wrong musical situation, or is it "easier" to be in a make-it-up-on-the-spot musical situation? I suppose they both have their attendant nightmares. Has anyone else ever heard of musicians in pit bands (on Broadway, for example) bringing books with them to read while they aren't actively playing? Inspiring, no?

These are all questions...not super important ones, but questions just the same.

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Charles Beaudelaire
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Hugh Hefner
Paul Krassner
Gian Maria Volonte

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Francis Ford Coppola
John Dark
James Garner
Billie Holiday
Freddie Hubbard
John Oates

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

FOREIGN TONGUE on Literate Housewife Review

"I cannot recommend this novel enough. It is invigorating and inspiring and is one book you won’t want to miss."

Read the entire essay here:

The Literate Housewife Review

To order your copy of Vanina Marsot's new novel, click here: Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris

Birthdays Worth Remembering

Serge Gainsbourg
Emmylou Harris
Camille Paglia
Leon Russell
Jack Webb
Emile Zola