We’re on this Sunday at 5pm.  Here’s a map of the grounds, replete with giant dome.  
https://www.facebook.com/events/463988857036807/
http://outinthestreets.com/

We’re on this Sunday at 5pm.  Here’s a map of the grounds, replete with giant dome.  

https://www.facebook.com/events/463988857036807/

http://outinthestreets.com/

Friday night at Kings may have been the closest we’ve come to touching the full-frontal Goldsmith. What magic there was! Thank you for being there and bringing exactly what you brought.
This Sunday we play the Out In The Streets festival (Outside! In daylight!). It will be our last show in New York for a while. Please come hang.


F.book Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/463988857036807/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

Friday night at Kings may have been the closest we’ve come to touching the full-frontal Goldsmith. What magic there was! Thank you for being there and bringing exactly what you brought.

This Sunday we play the Out In The Streets festival (Outside! In daylight!). It will be our last show in New York for a while. Please come hang.

F.book Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/463988857036807/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

We’re in New Haven, CT tonight.  Let’s keep this summer snowball rollin’.  
Poster by Alex Saraceno.
https://www.facebook.com/events/264462780406156/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

We’re in New Haven, CT tonight.  Let’s keep this summer snowball rollin’.  

Poster by Alex Saraceno.

https://www.facebook.com/events/264462780406156/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

We’re on at 10:30 tonight. Free show. Be with us.
https://www.facebook.com/events/482241728588876/

We’re on at 10:30 tonight. Free show. Be with us.

https://www.facebook.com/events/482241728588876/

Friday Endorsements 05.30.14

Have you met The Saint? This Sunday, Not Blood Paint will be returning to Asbury Park to absorb and radiate some saintly vows in the name of rock & roll. What’s even more exciting is that we’ll be playing with our great friend Steve Nelson, the musical mage for the ages bringing it back home to Jersey.

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Are you from Jersey? Are you from elsewhere in proximity to Jersey?

Then you need to get with us! Doors open to thee at 8:30 p.m.

\Now WE (EK) ENDo! Go!


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Uncle Dougie’s Tomato Heaven Small Batch Ketchup

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I’m endorsing a ketchup. No, I am not bored. This is the first time I’ve felt compelled to endorse a condiment, and let me tell you, this is the one for me.

Now, I’ve always been a ketchup kinda guy – Midwest style. Sloppy Joe, meatloaf, and using potato chips as a scoop for maximum ketchup delivery. The food items that require ketchup require cups and cups of ketchup and the brand is always HEINZ. Well whoopty doo. Now, everything gets compared to the monolith that is HEINZ. So, I want to avoid high fructose corn syrup? Tough luck! Artisanal ketchups are all “interesting” but aren’t the ketchup I crave. Same thing happened with Prego brand spaghetti sauce. It wasn’t ground beef spaghetti unless it was MOM’S ground beef spaghetti, and only Prego would do.

Enter Uncle Dougie’s. This ketchup doesn’t taste like HEINZ, and it certainly doesn’t taste overwrought in the attempt to be unique. It’s subtly layered yet still as bold as a ketchup should be. It is chunky (usually a turn off for me), sweet with a perfect vinegar kick, and it has a hint of orange peel and burbon. Add to that the fact that Dougie keeps his sauces small batch and clean label, and the distinction between overly processed and fresh becomes screamingly obvious to the previously addicted t-buds.

It’s one of those ideal food times where you don’t find an alternate solution to satisfy the specific taste for which you’ve developed a habit, but instead find that the taste door has been blown wide open again. Ketchup doesn’t mean HEINZ. Ketchup can go anywhere! However, I’m gonna roll with Uncle Dougie for a while. Dude also make bloody mary mix, wing sauce, marinades, etc.

Summer tomato, tomato summer here I come!

FRIDAY ENDORSEMENTS 5.23.14

Tomorrow, we’ll be emerging from the core depths of the Mckibbin Lofts to do an assessment and make some vital rearrangements, get the details up to code. We’re teaming with the )((BROOKLYN WILDLIFE))( crew for this one, and we plan to shake the foundation!

You’ll be there, you say? Great!

That’s what we hoped you’d say. We like you.

Sets from

SOUTH SECOND,

HEENEY,

MERIDIAN,

and BROOKLYN WILDLIFE.

We’ll play an hour long set, wherein we make the aforementioned necessary adjustments, and then we dance the night away.

DJ: JX Cannon

Dollars: $10.oo USD
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST
Coordination: 255 McKibbin St. BK, NY 11206 (Between Montrose and Morgan L stops). Entrance via Boerum Street.

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To Endorse Time!


Mozes and the Firstborn - ‘Bloodsucker’
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http://www.rollogrady.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Mozes+And+The+Firstborn+++Mozes.png
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I listened to this song many times this week.  The sound is so warm and classic, like an old Yardbirds tune. The slow simplicity of the verses makes me feel darkly satisfied and comforted somehow, the way music can do that. I’m fond of the dude’s voice. There are a few other choice cuts on the album but some duds too. Listen at your own risk.  
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This video below probably doesn’t serve the song very well. Don’t worry about it. Here’s what I’ve heard about this band: they’re young and Dutch.
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— Joe

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Season Finale of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop

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…Wherin Brian Henson goes from being a mildly awkward and informative guy to full blown Willy Wonka CEO in the space of one segment.

My main thought pertaining to Brian Henson up to this point in this new series was that his “eliminator/challenge winner” pointy fingers seemed like some sort of boardroom decision (whether his own or someone else’s).

“You know, we can’t just eliminate the competitors. We need a good pointing motion, that’ll make it an official signature!”

Sure. It’s a little flat, though. I personally don’t think it’ll catch on, Mr. Henson. 

But, oh! What strange and subtle television magic takes place when Brian invites the 3 remaining competitors to his office for a one-on-one sit down: some advice and a presentation of their final challenge. The way his office is set up (big man important desk, but SURROUNDED by puppet guts and awards), his presentation of a mini scene craft set that he whips out of nowhere, and his little hand gestures, all these details seem delightfully familiar. It’s something of the essence that Gene Wilder captured so brilliantly with his Willy Wonka: Joy and whimsy, but with dark under currents flowing. This is someone you want to play with, embrace with abandon, but when you do, you find there is some deep well within that is evasive and a little scary. It made me nervously giggle, just like a child in a chocolate factory, and I was all “where was THAT GUY in the other episodes?”

Of course, I’m just having fun with about a minute of TV. I actually endorse this show for similar reasons that I endorse its predecessor Face Off on Syfy – it’s a legitimate learning experience. There is a steady flow of brilliant and creative problem solving in a highly specialized field, and anyone who has a knack for imagining and bringing life and creative expression to the fantastical and other-worldly (whether with professional ambition like these cats, or not) will assimilate technique after technique into their arsenal.

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I love these creature creators, fabricators, and makeup artists because their domain of work represents a wonderful intersection between craftsmanship and art, between useful skill and creative expression. There are less and less of these types of folks to be found since post-modernism deeply influenced how art often is made, thought about, and experienced. Quite often as a result, the “skill” aspect is devalued (or eliminated) and much more depends on the intellect, the theory, the philosophy to bring value. I’m thinking of a black line stretched over 3 canvases that represents the ambiguous movement of necker cubes and their relationship to social constructs in 21st century France. You know?

By contrast, I would actually put these creature designers on a continuum with the medieval cathedral builders and Greek sculptors, where specialized skill was the filter (or focusing lens) through which the creativity flowed. This is where knowledge of electronics, anatomy, textiles, etc, commingle to bring to life a moving interaction with an alien being who is weeping over the loss of his race. Earth meet sky. Creative skill can be successful on so many planes, both revealing common practical usefulness and cultivating channels for transcendent communion, ideas ideas ideas!

The artists on Creature Shop are performers and storytellers just as much as they are skilled craftswomen and men. Their success or failure is realized on multiple planes, and it is a pleasure to learn from their challenges in working this way. 

-Seth

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RuPaul on WTF with Marc Maron

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We all know that RuPaul is great. I would have never guessed he was THIS great. This was a really inspiring listen. His perspective is so spot on, so sharp and really realistic. He gets it. And he doesn’t really give a shit if you get it or not, in the best way. “It’s all a fucking joke.” In the best way. Listen and live.


http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_498_-_rupaul_charles

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-Mark

Friday Endorsements 05.16.14

Hey, you. Whatcha doin’ Saturday, May 24th? Oh yeah, that sounds boring. I mean, that sounds cool.

A humble suggestion:
Come to our neighborhood!
Come to our street!

Play with us!

We’ve got music!

255 McKibbin St. BK, NY 11206 (Between Montrose and Morgan L stops). That’s our former home and our current road. Actually, entrance for this show will be via Boerum Street, the next over. Get it.

We’ll be shaking the stage with Stonehenge Parnashnakovsky, Meridian, and Heeney! Maybe you dig that?

5.24.14 // 9:00pm we roll //

NOW WE ENDORSE!

…………………………….

RICK AND MORTY

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I heard terrible sad news recently that Community has been cancelled. This isn’t too surprising, as I suppose the show was “past its prime” what with the loss of Chevy Gambino and everybody, but damn, we’d just got Dan Harmon back! For barely a season!  The world needs Dan Harmon.   Many of my colleagues believe this and one consoled me this week by turning me on to Rick and Morty, a new gem on Adult Swim created by Harmon and Justin Roiland.  
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Rick’s an old, drunk super-scientist who lives with his daughter’s family in suburbia. He takes his nervous grandson Morty on adventures through time and space, drinking and stuttering and saving the world/ putting the world in danger, etc. The best part is that Rick’s expanded view of existence results in impatience or ambivalence toward regular human life on earth, and he sort of drunkenly abuses Morty and his family throughout.  
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The voice acting is superb and the humor is twelve steps ahead of convention. You can watch all episodes on adultswim.com, and because you can you should.  
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JOE

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More Than Any Other Day – Ought

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The spirit of Post-Punk. Does this mean anything to you?

I want to invoke the spirit of Post-Punk at the beginning of an endorsement about an album of music by a band called Ought for a number of reasons. First, this is my attempt to address and circumnavigate a major issue I have with most writing about music these days – crrrritic! – in that it has reduced itself to a litany of genre and personality signifiers, as if this in itself were some sort of service worthy of performing. Is it a worthy office to liaison between musician and listener and essentially inform the latter that any inner value their listening experience may appear to offer is illusory because the music is only composed of and made quantifiable by its list of signifiers? Instead of offering a box of tools useful for orienting oneself to and investigating an experience, the crrrritic! hands us a cabinet of #badges. This type of thinking and writing about music confuses quality and quantity. It robs us of experience, obscures the spirit of the work, and judges that work summarily – a lazy damnation, a bored death sentence. 

No content, no transmutation of information, no experience, and no point. Music is essentially only useful as a cosmetic status symbol or cultural signifier. Personality botox!

How does it feel? “Feelings” should be dulled for such an endeavor. They are a strange and silly nuisance.

These sound a lot like the conditions that brought about Punk, actually. The unfettered impulse to destruction. Fuck the man becomes “fuck it!” Chaos reigns. Passion for chaos, a real passion that erupts to consume the edifice that sought to smash it. No point? No boundary, then. All gets smashed.

In addition to wanting to avoid “judgement by signifier” type writing about music that I appreciate, I invoke the spirit of Post-Punk in talking about More Than Any Other Day because in this music I recognize the spirit of that which sometimes comes after the impulse to destruction. This is the impulse to synthesis of experience (conscious//unconscious, fact//idea, that which was//that which is to be) wherein one “rips it up and starts again”. This is the creative impulse springing from the depths of despair.

“Everything is fucked, and what does it mean?”

That’s the spirit of Post-Punk to me. There’s work involved, but it is possible for the work to be joyful. Ought is radiant with this energy. I had to break down some obstacles for me to be able to recognize it, but now this music is living with me. I haven’t consumed it. It walks with me. I don’t know where we’ll go next. Here’s how it started:

 

I listened to the above track, embedded in a music blog that told me a few things about which singers the lead singer sounds like, what genres and/or subgenres the band is using, where they are from, and their general age. Ok, fine.

I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I was excited that the lead singer sounded like _____, who is one of my musical heroes, so I peeled back another listen. Ok, this time I’m hearing the words and my focus shifts there.



There is something

something you believe in

but you can’t touch it and you can’t hold it

There is something

Something you believe in

and you can’t wait for it to take away a bit of time

Wow. So now, I’m intrigued. I listen to the whole album and a similar process as the above happens on the macro level. Now the music sounds like _____ and _______ and, ooooh, that’s just like ______.

Peel back again, those lyrics speak up. The music hasn’t truly soaked in. It feels obscured, hazy, sketch-like: exultant bliss one moment, huge earworm moment, then a stretch where I zone out and lose the tension.

Turn your light on, off again

you know you shouldn’t, but then again


Peel back another layer, and I’m finally free of the signifiers. No more passive listening. I start to sing along, I start to think with the singer. I’m through the door.


We have reached the intermission

and the Lord is in attendance

we can ask him all our questions

I know I will…


Suddenly everything inverts and the music WAKES UP! It vibrates with tension, free to do whatever it wants, no gloss or presentation. It reveals itself as the predecessor to the formation of words. The musicians are its vessels, and they feel each other.

Now the lyrics feel like an investigation of the meaning of the music itself, which simply DOES without fear. The words penetrate from every angle - floating above, drowning within, swimming against. It’s thrilling! I’m laughing, I’m dancing, theatrical gestures everywhere.

I’m not bored, I’m not afraid. I’m open and ready for anything. Today, more than any other day.

I almost dismissed this music. I’m happy that the music was gracious with me through my initial stiffness. Instead of a presentation of a body of facts and a pronouncement of judgment, it feels like we agreed to an adventure that is ongoing.

-Seth

Friday Endorsements 5.9.2014

Three ways:

  1. the pursuit of knowing for the sake of curiosity (the groping trial)
  2. the pursuit of knowing for the sake of usefulness (water in the room, neighbor!)
  3. the pursuit of knowing for the sake of love (the goldsmith is not…)

 

Tools: mantle// lamp//  staff// 

How to endorse, again and again? Let’s see now!

 

No Logo by Naomi Klein

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There are a number of you, dear readers, who will think “Seth is late to the table on this one”. Of course, you’re right. This book made a very large impact in 2000 and the years following, particularly on artists (Radiohead was a big proponent of this work). I feel like I should have read this one when it came out. I wonder where I would be now had I done so. It’s that sort of book.

On the other hand, I suspect that there are quite a few others who are aware of No Logo, aware of the problem it presents, and therefore put the read off for various reasons (it’s depressing, it’s already out of date, etc, etc). It’s to these readers that my endorsement is aimed. I want to convince you that Naomi Klein is a master of presentation of information, which leads one to “see” the pattern with greater depth than previously possible. On the personal end of things, I think that Klein understands that it is only when we plunge into the depth of our experience and begin to think multi-vocally (synthesis of manifold meaning) that we can actually act creatively. I think it includes suffering. This is an argument I make often, and if it is true than Naomi Klein may be thought of as a shaman leading us into the underworld so that we might find the strength to pull ourselves up creatively of our own volition. She helps us boil our bones, separating us from the parasitic conceptual beings that we have swallowed up and have allowed to attach themselves to our psyche. Move the center.

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My introduction to Naomi Klein was a few years ago with her follow-up book, titled Shock Doctrine (endorsements of which you can find by both Joe and myself), and immediately I recognized in it one of the most important politically oriented writings of our time. It synthesizes so much information about a force that looks like chaos and sounds like the Siren: disaster capitalism. “Freedom and Democracy” its often called in presidential speeches aimed at rearing the US population up for an illegal invasion of someone else’s land, or a covert terrorist operation for internal destabilization of “regimes”, all for the sake of domination. Er, “resources”. Shock Doctrine is a terrifying key, and once you turn it the problem becomes impossible to deny: human beings are using the world they inhabit as a stage for the acting out of a mass psychosis. We’re all complicit by degrees, from the fully embodied psychopath to the naïve believer.

Now, No Logo focuses on multinational corps and big label brands and their activity. This is the way that was paved for us and by us. It is by and large why we either “accept” or are too overwhelmed to fight the current of disaster capitalism as it bathes in blood non-compliant societies and ramps up surveillance and personal controls on the citizens of the empire. Even if we consider this force un-ethical, amoral, or alien, we swallowed a piece of it at some point, identified ourselves with it, nourished it, began to make petitions to it, allowed it to grow until it reached maturity and became the independent and living nightmare that we all wanted to avoid confronting in our own minds. Ms. Klein presents endless facts and figures, offering her own route of “political awakening” for analysis, and identifies a pattern. The corresponding psychological pattern, as far as I can see, is the Jungian conception of the projection of the shadow writ large across the globe.

It’s first about identity. Brands don’t sell products anymore, they sell “ideas”. Nike is not about shoes, it’s about SPORTS – a shiny platonic ideal. Therefore it is permitted to “encourage the spirit of sports” in such places as inner city poor neighborhoods, where kids crave the swoosh they can’t afford, during school sports (schools which used to be public spaces before they “got milk” and the corresponding advertisements and vending machines), and in militarized tax free zones in Indonesia, China, etc, where teenaged slave girls are forced to sleep under their “swoosh generating” sewing tables and submit to regular humiliating pregnancy tests all for not enough pennies to send back home.

Once we’ve identified ourselves with the brand (again, even negatively identified), we begin to legitimize it by asking for it to comply to our wishes. We ask it to mirror us better. We can’t do anything about the brand invading every inch of our personal lives, so we must demand that the brand represent us accurately damn it! Of course, the brands are happy to oblige. The brand is endlessly adaptable – it can make fun of itself, it can be a political slogan, it can be culture and art, and it can be our inflatable scapegoat for when we want to get whipped into a frenzy and kill kill kill. All is safe for the brand as long as the “consumer” is certain that the evil is fully separate from him/herself, that they are righteous in identifying said evil and condemning it. Why? Because all it takes is a little time in this scenario for the “consumer” to go right back to the mechanical function of eating (or clothing themselves in, if you like) ideas for the sake of image. Identification facilitates roving blind spots in our awareness.

This is largely why such a phenomenon has been so difficult to address in a pro-social sense. It is a phenomenon that has likely been with us for thousands of years, and yet I’m not convinced that it is a fundamental part of our nature. It is perpetuated by the actions of abuse, and the reaction of fear.

This leads me to conclude with a reiteration of one of the core features of Naomi Klein’s writing, perhaps the most healing aspect of her work. It is the task, after having amassed a truly daunting pile of facts and figures relating to a core problem, of highlighting and encouraging true creativity in action and thought. Ms. Klein is very wise in accepting that she does not have the answer that will solve this problem, and so never falls into the trap of overreach. However, she is fully aware that she has the ability to point toward a way, to cultivate fertile ground for growth that will always remain fearlessly unpredictable. In No Logo, we learn of ad busting, pop-up gatherings centered on the reclamation of public space, the internet opening the instant connection of endless watchdog and activist groups around the world, each fighting related but distinct battles, eggs inside of eggs inside of eggs. We learn of the Zapatistas in Mexico, of Marcos, masked and anonymous, who assures us of the following:

Marcos is gay in San Francisco, Black in South Africa,

an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro,

an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel,

a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal,

a Jew in Germany, a Gypsy in Poland,

a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia,

a single woman on the Metro at 10pm,

a peasant without land,

a gang member in the slums, an unemployed worker,

an unhappy student and, of course, a Zapatista in the mountains.


We’re in this together. Our psychosis is shared, our neighbor is the same, and our love can be simpatico and voluntary. As long as a light shines, The Shadow can never overtake it. Naomi Klein has got a hell of a lamp to pass…

Seth

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THE RESIDENTS’ videos

I’m hesitant to endorse these videos because I have a plan to blatantly copy them. What a bunch of eye-poppingly masterful forays into the bizarre!

http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2008/lookingatmusic/images/residents.jpg

Constantinople




Third Reich





The imagery and style of the Residents’ videos inform their music perfectly. I don’t generally enjoy Residents albums on their own (not for more than about 30 seconds at a time) but I can usually appreciate what they might be “getting at.”  And now these videos propel the sincere dark absurdity of their art to a new plateau of Residential clarity!  The band’s real gift is in the marriage of A and V, which, as someone who exalts multimedia and live presentation, I accept greedily. I wish other bands married those two letters better, and it’s hard to imagine why they don’t try.  Maybe I’m just watching the wrong youtube channels. What am I missing out there, endorsers?  Whose audio and video are on equal footing, serving each other so well? R. Kelly’s? Name me some.

Hello Skinny



One-Minute Movies




JOE
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Maria Konnikova
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Maria Konnikova came into my life by way of two different podcasts I happened to listen to on the very same day. The first was on Slate’s The Gist where she exposed the bullshit that is online quizzes (which she’s also written about). And the other was a New Yorker Out Loud interview with her, which is great. She writes a lot about psychology and human behavior. My favorite aspect of her writing is how she uses a psychologists approach to examine the things we do quite mindlessly in our daily lives how they effect us deeply (eg. yawningsnoozingmultitasking and, in fact, mindlessness). For instance, did you know that yawning has nothing to do with oxygen? That it is a psycho- or physio- logical desire for a change in our current state of being? And that in the same way, so is contracting an ear worm?
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Anyway, her whole blog is pretty fascinating. Thought she’s written much more for the New Yorker than whats on her blog, which is relatively new. If you’re interested in spending a whole day on her stuff, just search her name at the New Yorker website. 
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-Mark

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Friday Endorsements 5.2.14

We might have to isolate you if you stay elected enemy. However, submit yourself to this battery of tests and we shall be able to deduce which anti-path will best suit your needs in congruence with the Society. The Society welcomes any questions you might have regarding your choices. Do not fear. This is a kindness.

Hold please.

(25 second pause)

Congratulations! You’ve been approved to Endorse Every Friday among a quorum of your peers. Let’s begin…

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Let England Shake by PJ Harvey



I love the tone of this record. Dark and big and quiet. The musicians play relatively simple and reserved parts, droning or charging calmly forward to outstanding effect. It sounds very mature but if I didn’t know any better I would’ve believed this was a cool new indie band, like Here We Go magic. Modern/Timeless. She really nailed it with this one (back in 2011 when it was released).

I tried to like PJ Harvey a years and years ago but it didn’t really take. I have an entirely new respect for her now and I’ll be happy if she keeps on in this vein.

Here’s the one thing I wonder: why the bugle in “The Glorious Land”? It’s such a great song otherwise, I don’t understand that choice at all. But hey, it’s all good, baby. Let England Shake, excellent record.



Joe

Bécs by Fennesz

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In 2001, Christian Fennesz tapped into a technique for creating “experimental” music that has since become instantly recognizable as only originating from him. A simple guitar, layers upon layers of static feedback fuzz, and a computer are essentially the only tools here but in the hands of Fennesz they are magic, they are rays of sun pushing through the mesosphere, stratosphere, troposphere.

The album is ‘Endless Summer’ and it is one of the most gorgeous, mysterious, and texturally dense albums I have ever heard. The fact that it is also a meditation on the soul of Beach Boys summer jams solidifies it as a classic that will live with me for my whole life. 

Here we are, almost 14 years later. Fennesz, 14 years older, 14 years removed from the inspired synergy of Endless Summer and yet somehow, miraculously (for us) in a nearly identical headspace with his new work, Bécs. Well, never identical - though we may long for recaptured magic, if it were truly presented back exactly as it was it is bitterly discovered that the context has changed - and Fennesz acknowledges and embraces the new perspective that he enjoys while still delighting in tones, shades, and currents that overlap with the past.

Bécs is perhaps darker than Endless Summer, but that makes sense. Too much sun can be painful. However, this darkness would have us more fully earning the ecstasy resulting from exposure to layers upon layers of grating feedback until WE release, scales falling from our ears, and discover the beauty, depth, and space in the stifling and oppressive environment we experienced moments before.

It wasn’t the environment that changed, but our listening.

-Seth

This Years Polk and Pulitzer Awards

This is sort of old news, and I don’t know that it’s necessarily surprising news, but it’s surprisingly heartening for two separate bodies to award Glen Greenwald, The Guardian and The Washington post the two most prestigious awards in journalism for their NSA reporting and their work in releasing the Snowden documents. They were certainly deserving of the awards, as far as I’m concerned. It was a hell of a thing to pull off and expertly analyzed, as well as being a great service to the US and civilization in general. But I was not expecting the committees of those two awards to go out on a limb and give them the highest prizes. To me, it seems like they are not only rewarding these people for their difficult and daring work, but also saying to the world at large, “pay attention to this.” I think after a few months people may have stopped listening to this very important story that has huge ramifications on all our lives. In an act that can be labelled “activism,” the Pulitzer and Polk bodies are bringing it back to the forefront and imploring us not to fall asleep. I hope we can listen.

-Mark

Friday Endorsements 4.25.14

Hello Newark, NJ: Get ye ready for tomorrow! We’ll be joining you at the Index Art Center with Tawny Blooms, Evan and the Early Birds, Makeout Vertigo, and Perennial Reel. Tell your favorite friends! Bring your boys and girls! The event page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1478024899079164/?ref=3&ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

And back to the BK: This Sunday, we’ll all explore the roll of “Pool Shark” at Union Pool (484 Union Ave, Bk 11211). Problem is, what happens when the room is filled with all Shark and no Mark? We’ll be flanked by new allies Rifle Recoil and Reindeer. This week, our besties Bad Credit No Credit confirmed that they would join us as well! Here’s THAT event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/430143497122458/?ref=22

And now we Endorse like the wind!


Nymphomaniac Vol I and II by Lars Von Trier

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I’m going to go ahead and endorse this, even though I am still very much digesting it. I just finished part II last night. Those who are familiar with Lars Von Trier know he likes to get all the machinery humming along really nice before he throws a wrench in. In other words, this one will take significantly more reflection, so I’ll be light on the specific commentary.

Part of why I want to endorse this sooner than later is cause I want to appeal to those who are planning to see it to wait for the 5 ½ long director’s cut. I will be rewatching in that format for sure, possibly also revisiting his last three films from the point of view that they are all pieces of one overarching existential trilogy (Antichrist, Melancholia, Nymphomaniac), which, taken together, probably represent the finest work of Von Trier’s career. I watched Nymphomaniac in two 2 hour chunks on iTunes, and found the format perfectly fine. In general, I am totally into directors experimenting with the duel theater/digital release thing. It’s worked really well for Dupieux, all of who’s films I’ve seen online.

However, with Von Trier, it felt clear to me that splitting the film in two and presenting it online at the same time as in theaters was merely considered necessary from a commercial standpoint. It wasn’t done to serve the film. I get it, but I am immediately reminded of Steven Soderberg’s Che. Seeing that film in it’s originally intended format – as two distinct halves spanning over 4 hours split by a 10 minute intermission – in the theater, was one of the best film going experiences of my life. It was demanding, to some degree, but the overall effect was certain confirmation for me that a film that is made for the long form can build to emotional heights and atmosphere unparalleled. You live and breathe with a long-form film, and the good ones have an uncanny ability to stay with you and become part of you. This is one of the most secret corners of the art form these days, as most filmmakers work to make things more compact, flashier, shocking. GUYS, PEOPLE DON’T HAVE ATTENTION SPANS ANYMORE. EVERYBODY KNOW’S IT.

I sense that Von Trier is an admirer of Andrei Tarkovsky (there may or may not be multiple references to Tarkovsky’s films in Nymphomaniac), and it seems he is tapping into a meditative atmosphere that shares more than a few parallels with the Russian master’s work. I say this in reference to the long-form spiritually infused storytelling, but also as a warning to those who have already dismissed this movie as too perverse, sadistic, or disturbing before having seen it: everything about the set-up and pitch/spin/advertising of this film is one giant bait (red herring, if you like) for certain pre-conceived notions about what it is to be. Again, typical Lars Von Trier. He loves to play the antagonist out the gate, I imagine in an effort to guard his work from superficial engagement. Again, I get it.

However, it may also keep some folks safely away from taking the dive into what is actually an often times lighthearted and humorous, sometimes theoretical or contemplative and sometimes visceral and painful, exploration of the word ‘nymphomania’, the condition itself, femininity vs. masculinity, the sex drive and the limitless build up of cultural/spiritual/social edifices that we compulsively add to it.

"Perhaps the only difference between me and other people was that I always demanded more from the sunset — more spectacular colors as the sun hit the horizon — that’s perhaps my only sin." Says Joe, the titular self-professed nymphomaniac, recounting her story to the a-sexual Seligman (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgard respectively)

"Fill all my holes." the younger Joe pleads with Jerome, the man who she loves in spite of her anti-love ideology.

Nymphomaniac is about power vs force, about being vs. non-being and the void. What disposition do we take toward our feeling, our life - victim or lover? The void is limitless, yes, and as such is also the space from which springs absolute freedom. Nature has a horror of emptiness but the spirit has a horror of fullness.


Seth

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The Punk Singer a film about Kathleen Hanna by Sini Anderson

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Nothing like a good music doc to make you fall in love with an artist whose real value lies a little deeper than their sound. Kathleen Hanna is a Force and I’m counting myself among her loyal supporters. I’m only sorry I didn’t know until just now. Good film.
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It’s these real solid rockers —who embody righteous belief, whose energy comes from a place of fundamental understanding and will, whose resolve and message are so clear and intelligent that they don’t need to sell or convince you of anything— who really get me ramped up and remind me that we get to decide on our own who wins the battle between good and evil. These rockers fuel me. I want my art to be honorable and progressive, not time-killer.

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Hanna’s contribution to feminist advancement is one thing (one huge thing) but her ethos can be applied to any sphere wherein small-mindedness/greed/FEAR/etc. threaten individual/societal/human potential and well-being. That’s rock & roll for me, dude. Rebelliousness not for the sake of bratty self-indulgence, but as a stand against faulty standard practice and accepted cultural shortcomings.
What a voice, wow. I shouldn’t try to write about it. The sound and lyrics really do sum it up in the best possible way. Her positive charge astride the indignation is my favorite part. From “I Like Fucking”:
Just ‘cause my world, sweet sister, is so fucking goddamn full of rape—
Does that mean my body must always be a source of pain?
No. No. No.

Just ‘cause I named it right here sweet
chickadee
don’t mean for a minute you should think I’m the opposite of anything—
but if you wanna know for sure I’ll tell you
We’re not gonna prove nothing nothing
Sittin around watching each other starve
What we need is action/strategy
I want I want I want
I want it now.
I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe.

I do, I do, I do.


Here’s some footage of “Don’t Need You” live (featured in the doc at higher quality— streaming on Netflix, btw) that has me mesmerized.
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Joe

Friday Endorsements 4.18.14

Here we are, next Friday already. It’s like time is looping in, eh? Or spiraling out, not sure which. We have a show coming up, pop that sidebar if you live in Newark, NJ - Saturday, April 26th at the Index Art Center! Sunday the 27th, too, at Union Pool in Billyburg Brooklyn. We’re going to bring all our special forces, special forces…

But where are we now? Looping in, spiraling out?

It’s not Friday, its the resonance of Friday.

It’s not endorsements, its the spirit of endorsements.

Let’s jump!

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Double Endorsement!


1. Azealia Banks: Fantasea

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This is one badass woman hip-hopping all in your face. The production’s tight and Banks’ flow is unbeatable. It’s a mixtape so it’s free! Download it here:  
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If you wanna get right to the best stuff start at ‘F**k up the Fun’ and let it roll from there.  My personal fav lately is ‘Fierce’.  I love the sample in this track.


2.  Cotton Candy Machine (Brooklyn)
I’m a big fan of this gallery. Great taste. The artists they bring in are top tier. Top shelf. Top drawer. Top notch. Top of the pops. High tops.  Right now they’ve got this dude Dima Drjuchin with the cartoon wonder and someone named Ciou bringing the big-eyed intricacy. I’ll post a couple of pics here but they won’t do the detail justice.  You could spend a long time in this place peeping these paintings.  Get in there when you’re in Williamsburg. .
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Dima: 

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Ciou: 

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Now, somebody go buy Alan Deeb a burrito, in memory of a truly wonderful artist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
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Joe
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Personal Re-education Regarding Soviet Collapse, Post-Cold War Russia and Application to Better Understanding of the Ongoing Crisis in Ukraine

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So, yeah. My endorsement is complicated today. I’ve spent all spare time in last 2+ weeks on the above endeavor. So much has come from it, so much I’ve been itching to discuss or apply in a useful way. Paying close attention to what’s going on in Ukraine this past month has brought frustration, anger, sadness, even fleeting moments of glee - and has through it all been profoundly informative.

As to how far along I am in my self-directed re-education process, I’d say I have a way to go. This topic is like a giant onion and bound up in it are questions involving mono-polar global political power, self-determination on a personal and collective level, 20 plus years of absolutely devastating US foreign policy, EXTENSIVE propaganda from every direction imaginable, East/West relations, Non-alignment Movements, Capitalism, Communism, Terrorism, Russian Orthodoxy and Islam pit in opposition to post-modern liberal Western ideology, Putin’s career moves and his rise to huge popularity in Russia and many other countries of note, the destabilizing of the petrodollar, increased fracking on US soil for shale oil, and the list goes on infinitely.

I certainly don’t want to soapbox all over my developing opinions, which forever and always are to be considered in process, but I very much crave discussion on this topic. I’ve been amazed at how little I knew, what I had understood incorrectly.

Some observations so far…

Over the past few months, while out and about, I have noticed a bit of what is called ‘Russophobia’, which would be the un-informed or irrational fear of/or disgust with Russia (whether that be centering on social issues or political ones), mostly around Olympic times and mostly regarding the issues of LGBT rights and Pussy Riot, but as far as my experience goes it has been mild. Unfortunately, more predominant seems to be a lack of interest. 

If you “got beef” with Russia, for whatever reason, it’s probably a good idea to sincerely meditate on the issue and sort it out as clearly for yourself as possible. There’s a load of brain science that helps illustrate how unconscious biases (confirmation bias, bandwagon effect, false-consensus effect, etc) are the main hooks for propaganda of all ilk, but we can safeguard ourselves with attention and curiosity. I’m always trying to ‘de-bug’ myself by noticing these narrative hooks. So sneaky.

I have to make one thing clear: based on what I have been able to find, the US media and government has been non-stop lying, twisting, and obfuscating damage-control throughout the entirety of the Ukraine crisis.

Hence why I am advocating anyone with an interest in global affairs or social ethics look into this themselves, take a little time out to dig, and discuss it!

I think we should all be talking about it. The more I learn, the more this inevitably leads to the question of action. What is to be done? How? What can I do here, what can I do with the people I know? What can I do in communication with others around the globe? In what ways can we use our bodies and minds to foster and breath life into inspired innovations to problems that link us all together round this hot rock falling through space?

I’ll end with a few resources I’ve found useful. Skip if you want to avoid getting more of a sense of my Current Personal Pinions on the topic:

1) Be sure to watch some of recent speeches and addresses coming from the Russian government. I spent hours this week watching Putin, Lavrov, Pushkov, and others speak and I have to say, for me, to watch them has more than once provided a quick shock that gave me a burst of energy to keep digging. It’s a style and spirit of public address quite different from the ‘talking point’ theatrical grandstanding usually seen in the U.S. And to watch them speak to the EU and Western political/media folk really highlights the extreme level of absurdity in the behavior of the latter two, and the restraint and measured wit of the former. That’s what I’ve seen and read so far.

Did you notice that after yesterday’s Geneva de-escalation agreement between the US – Ukraine – EU – and Russia, each representative gave private media addresses at the same time in different rooms? At a diplomatic peace agreement press address! Lavrov mentions that this was at the behest of the other contributors to the talks (ie Catherine Ashton and John Kerry). Just simply stating this in passing, Lavrov lets the situation speak for itself.

At the PACE press address, reporters cut the various Russian leaders off, repeatedly imploring them to speak in English, and storming out of the room en masse. After finishing what they had come to say, in Russian, the floor was opened for questions to the few remaining. A question which had already been answered was asked in French. Immediately, the point was remade in fluent French.

It seems to me that the Russian leadership understands all too well that you can’t win an information war waged by grandiose liars, but with patience and restraint you can facilitate the amplification of said grandiose lies until they explode in the faces of the liars. Carlos Castaneda referred to this practice as ‘Stalking Petty Tyrants’.

I’m not saying you’ll see the same thing that I see in these videos, but you should watch some of em anyway: Rabid Danger Freaks or Reasonable Sounding Humans? Neither? And you’ve got a lifetime of U.S. presidential and Secretary of State addresses to compare/contrast to for super fun!  Remember this?  

Here is the statement made by Vitalii Churkin to the UNSC April 12 2014


And here is President Putin’s Address regarding the reunification of Crimea

**p.s. it’s hard practicing a detached attention when millions of people are in direct danger of civil war today. But I think the above aspect is an important part of understanding why things have gotten to the place they have, and where they seem to be heading in the future.

2) Finding the above public addresses probably would have been pretty tough had I not found a blog titled ‘The Vineyard of the Saker’. This is a blog run by an ex-military analyst who has since turned his efforts to anonymous armchair analysis of various world events as they unfold (often with a focus on military analysis, for obvious reasons). He lived in Moscow during the 1993 constitutional crisis, and has a number of key sources in Russia. He has a huge readership since he started covering the Ukraine crisis, and has been mirrored on some pretty prominent sites like Chris Hedges’ Truthdig. His commenters are proving to be a wealth of information, as well, often massing 60 to 100 multi-linked comments in hours time. He is focusing on daily SITREP analysis of Ukraine, and getting important addresses and videos translated or dubbed.

You may find that you disagree with his analysis, or you may be turned off by his being an Orthodox Christian unafraid to use scripture to illustrate a point (remember Russian Orthodoxy is an important piece of this puzzle, so don’t conflate it with any version of Christianity you’ve experienced in the US) but you will find that he is a tireless generator of resources and links that one can utilize to jump in whatever direction so chosen. I particularly recommend his series titled ‘Russia and Islam’ which can be searched for from the main page.

3) If you haven’t listened to Victoria Nuland’s now infamous phone call, please do. This is the voice of one of our foreign policy leaders. What do you hear? 

 

To the people of Ukraine in the days and weeks ahead, as well as to all who pay close attention to this struggle and contemplate it from the ‘zone of silence’: may your yoke be easy and your burden light!

Seth

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Nina Simone at the Montreux Jazz Festival

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A few months ago, I decided it was about time for me to dive into Nina Simone. Many of the musicians I love often cite her as one of their most powerful influences and I needed to see what she was all about. One afternoon, I was pondering what track to begin my exploration with, and started with her 9 minute live recording of Sinner Man (no video, only audio). Initially, I was tickled, but not blown away, as I expected to be. About 2/3rd’s of the way through the song, there was a moment where the piano player played a little flourish that nearly took my head off. I perked up and listened closer. The band had come to a sort of breakdown in the song and I started hearing her breathing. Then she started clapping, completely out of time and yet somehow still very with music. You could almost hear spirits welling up inside her. The song ended and I knew I was onto something autochthonous, something coming straight from the source.

I bought her ‘best of” collection and she sang to me for a few weeks during my commutes around the city, becoming more familiar with her burnt velvet voice and her ferocious piano playing. I felt like I was getting let in on some huge secret. LIttle did i knew, my mind had yet to fully fathom what this woman could do.

A short while later, I was looking for a live video of Ms. Simone to really get a grasp on what that may have been like. I found this:



This video is a collection of her performances from the Montreux Jazz Festival, and here lies the golden bleeding sun of her material. She is simply bewitching. You can practically see the ghosts and gods moving through her, tearing her this way and that, effortlessly bubbling with all the emotion and energy available to one who really taps into that ever elusive source. This, to me, is the most important and hardest thing to do in life. She has tapped in and is such a palpable conductor; speaking in tongues, moving with grace, ripe truths about humanity flying off the cuff as quickly and fluidly as her hands move over the keys of that lucky piano. She is completely bare. She is completely aware. The look in her eyes is haunting.

Do yourself a favor, take and hour and a half, turn the lights off, commit to it, and watch this performance.

G

Friday Endorsements 00004.10.200000014

G.O.O.D.E. Friday Has arrived!

Go On: Orate Deep Endorsements!
Go On: Oust Dicey Endorsements!

Got One Over Dose Endorsement? Send it right this way….


The Speedy Surrealist: Quentin Dupieux

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Have you seen any of this guy’s mooovies? He keeps making them all fast and incredible like! There are so few filmmakers that have come and gone that know how to tickle the surrealist fish just right: Jodorowsky, Luis Bunuel, and Ryan Trecartin have long been favorites of mine. Dupieux, with his first three rapid-fire feature length films (2011, 2013, 2014 U.S. releases), has surely secured himself among the above masters in no time at all. Where did this guy come from?

Before he was Quentin Dupieux (well…after he was the baby Dupieux and before he was the film director Dupieux), the man was known as Mr. Oizo and he was a human electronic musician named after a corruption of the word “bird” in French. His first big hit in Europe came in 1999 with a track called Flat Beat. Flat Beat was picked up by Levi’s to be featured in one of their ads, and Mr. Oizu began shilling for the Jean Monster with a few commercials featuring a small yellow puppet called Flat Eric. As far as I know the commercials were directed by Dupieux, which you can look up as you please, but the music video for the song Flat Beat certainly was directed by him. It looks like this:



Eventually, it seems, Dupieux and Flat Eric became disillusioned with Levi’s and Flat Eric made a break for it after serving his time in this non-commercial short film, WHERE’S THE MONEY GEORGE?:



I like to think that after that, Dupieux, handsomely paid by the multinational corp, turned his weird ass around and created his own film company to do with whatever he pleased. Thank the Goldsmith for that! The company is called Realitism Films, and these oddities are truly something special. Mr. Oizo shed the moniker, and new film director Quentin Dupieux released his first full length vision: Rubber.

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Rubber is a “horror film” about a psychic rubber car tire that explodes humans with its mind. Yes, a killer rubber tire. You already have a pretty good idea whether or not you’re gonna jive with Mr. Dupieux’s universe right there. I consider this film absolutely brilliant from start to finish. Oh, and with original music by Mr. Oizo and one of the dudes in Justice. 



Following that was last year’s Wrong, among the best movies to come out all year. This one is a bit more dreamy and whimsical.

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A man named Dolph Springer loses the love of his life, his dog Paul, and encounters a whole slew of interesting folks on his quest to bring Paul safely home: a nymphomaniac pizza deliverer, a French-Mexican gardener, a Wrong Cop, a pet detective, and Master Chang (a totally brilliant William Fichtner) as a spiritual leader that is primarily concerned with the psychic and emotional connection between dog and man.  Check it:



And, finally, this week I had the pleasure of viewing Wrong Cops. Wrong Cops is NOT a sequel to Wrong, how dare you assume such things? It’s just that when Mark Burnham filmed his cop scene in Wrong, Dupieux was so inspired that he quickly wrote another scene for him, and then a whole movie.

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This one is about cops that do wrong tings, got it? It has car humping, pot sold in dead rats, Marilyn Manson, and Eric Wareheim. It is also awesome, though certainly more free-form…which is to say it makes even fewer concessions to any sense of convention or “pay off” that movies usually come packaged on. I imagine if you are in this French surrealist rabbit tree with me, then it’ll be just what you need. Lookie:



So, this is why we don’t have nice things! Crazy musicians all trying to make movies without plots and stuff. Enjoy your chaos, suckers!

Seth

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CAKE (the band)


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I’ve loved CAKE for a long time, since a friend turned me on to Fashion Nugget back there in the ’90s. There’s not another band much like them. John McCrea has a singular voice and writing style: unaffected, deadpan funny, and controlled. Every once in a while I’m convinced he has the best voice in the history of singing.  Add to that Greg Brown’s unrivaled twang-rock guitar and it’s no wonder they’re the best American band since Johnny Mitchell.  (GB left the band long ago but don’t sweat it.)

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Just recently I decided to see what these guys have been up to and it turns out what they’ve been up to is straight-up goodness.  First of all, they created their own record label because Columbia was pushing them to release a greatest hits record and Cake knew that would be lame. So they built a solar-powered studio and recorded 2011’s “Showroom of Compassion” entirely with electrons shoved around by Helios. The whole record!  Everything! The energy they don’t use goes right into the grid.  
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That’s one thing you can read about on their website along with the “Cake Forest” (where they track the growth of trees they’ve given away as prizes across the continent), a tool to find a safe community banks near you, and a carpool page so fans can set up ride shares to their shows.  There’s also an advice page where the band replies to questions. 
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Following Cake on facebook is a real pleasure because they post serious news items and interesting articles, usually with the tag “Explain your concerns.”  The congruence with NBP is marked, and much loved.  Here’s a band in the Worker Harder Together spirit, doing it right. Level-headed and engaged, without soapboxing. Humble superheroes from Sacramento.  
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The newest tagline on their homepage is “Candide or Don Quixote?”  I’m so close in the soul to both of those books that I’m starting to think Cake was sent by the Goldsmith specifically to thrill me.  
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Joe
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p.s. I hope one of my compatriots is endorsing The Ragged Claws today, an historically smart and moving play by Lina Patel.  We saw it last night. This production at Cherry Lane theatre in Manhattan is running for TWO MORE NIGHTS ONLY.  Get there if you can.  Our lover Kahan James is a part of the supremely talented cast.  A diamond among diamonds. Very well done, folks.
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SZA - Z
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Been waiting on this a while. Spacey, sensual electronic R&B with a kick. I endorsed SZA’s previous EP S a while back. This is her first full length and it makes damn good on the promise she gave in 2013. Everything I loved about her previous EP’s and singles are here in full form, if tempered a bit. There’s a little less darkness than on S, which is a bit of a bummer but not if in exchange we get some pop gems. Which we do, in the form of Julia. Also great guest spots from Chance The Rapper and Kendrick Lamar.
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Stream the whole thing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5BZu6GEXu8
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Mark

Friday Endorsements 4.4.14

Hi! Do you like endorsements?

……cause, that’s sort of what we do here, dude.


LODRO

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Listen to their music here and definitely see them play it live. One of my favorite local acts, with one of my favorite guitarists I’ve seen maybe ever. Something special in this band. Dark, smokey, bluesy. Certainly in possession of evil magic, which they dispatch with an appropriate amount of discretion. “Neo noir punk” they call it and that seems to nail it.
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Big Sleep for Alice, ”Lazy Bones" and "If Life Was Like A Movie" are my favorites. I put them on repeatedly when I need to scare the shit out myself.
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-Mark
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Valerie by Celestial Shore
from the album 10x
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I saw these guys by chance about a year ago (two years ago?) in Brooklyn. They’re incredible musicians.  Really interesting unconventional guitar work, crazy precise drumming.  I really like their songs because I never have any idea where they’re going to go.  How do they come up with this stuff?  I found myself thinking the other day “I wish I could be a fly on the wall of their rehersal/writing space.”  And then I tried to remember which comedian said something like:  That’s a dumb saying. Why would you want to be a fly who no one wants around and who can’t even understand English?  You should say ‘I wish I was someone these guys trusted enough to have around while they worked.’   
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Still can’t remember. Norm MacDonald?  My favorite track by Celestial Shore is Valerie.
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Joe
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Venezuelan Prez Nicholas Maduro’s NYT Open Letter
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This week, I’d like to endorse Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro’s open letter to Americans published in the New York Times this Tuesday. In doing so, I realize I may incite ‘feelings’. Lots of people, it seems, have feelings about the publication of this piece.

‘A disgrace giving voice to such a despicable human’, someone vigorously typed. ‘Comparing a gutter to the NYTimes is an insult to the gutter!’

Well, ok! I’ll try to explain my thought process arriving at what I think this letter is about, why I find the response to it fascinating, and what it all might say – nay, scream! – about the condition of our global politics. As I am explaining a thought process, I am leaving what I write open as a part of a pattern recognition exercise that is constantly looking for new information. If I’m faulty, give me your information. Por favor.  

This is what Mr. Maduro wrote to US: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/opinion/venezuela-a-call-for-peace.html?_r=1

And this is what he is being accused of in the Western medias: rising crime rates, violent protests, massive censorship and jailing of members of the press, a giant inflation rate that has left Venezuelan’s without toilet paper. He’s a hallucinating, out of his mind narcissist on his way to brutal dictatorship.

The Western solution? Sanctions, support of opposition, regime change. The people are calling for change they can believe in! Sound familiar?

Maduro’s self-professed commitment to carrying forward the ‘new democratic project’ started with Chavez and his revolution, his slashing of extreme poverty figures, his lessening the gap between extreme wealth and extreme poverty, and his work with public programs like free education and healthcare aren’t so much debunked as drowned out with noise and feigned horror.

Another interesting thing to keep in mind is that Maduro’s opposition in the democratic elections that landed him the presidency had been campaigning against Chavez for years leading up to this election. Most of them are Western backed and seek to return their country under the safe wings of the IMF, NATO, and the “structural conditionalities” that would guarantee national compliance to the loaning, occupying empire. The fact that in a time of extreme sorrow and uncertainty over Chavez’ death, with increasing economic attacks from the outside leveled at the suffering of the citizens of Venezuela, and propaganda power-beaming the whole time, that Maduro was able to take the elections by 55% is quite impressive.

It’s at least no less legitimate than our neck and neck elections of the past years, eh? Is it less legitimate than the 98% vote from the Crimean people confirming themselves as Russian citizens?

Is there dissent in Venezuela? That seems obvious. Things are currently difficult. Their money is going out of control, resources are disappearing. However, is it possible that people living inside of Venezuela have a more sober realization of what is happening in their country given what South America went through with the repeated economic attacks from the West during the 70s and 80s? Is it possible that the thinking is far more complicated than the black and white shooting from our TV screens? These people would like to not suffer. A majority of them joined Chavez as he embarked on the impossible attempt to openly say “no thanks” to US Imperialism, to gain some sense of national independence, and most seemed quite aware that things would get worse before they got better because the fix they were trying to implement had nothing to do with cosmetics.

The IMF offers makeovers that erode a country from the inside. When the fix is cosmetic and therefore temporary, it’s much easier to sway a population plummeted into terrifying conditions to accuse their own government for the problems. Usually, you still get to act like the benevolent loan angel.

And besides all that, given the state of global politics right now is it not understandable that folks inside of a country might be misinformed or confused about the cause-effect relationships between their leaders and the conditions in which they find themselves? I can’t think of any other way to make sense of the absolute arrogance coming from so many US citizens who criticize Putin, Maduro, Al-Assad, or whomever else is the “crazy enemy of the day” in today’s Great Dominance Games. I’m not even trying to defend these people right now. I’m simply saying this is absolutely a “don’t badmouth your brother for the speck in his eye when you’ve got a log in yours” type of situation.

President Barack Obama is set to walk out of office forever known as the “biggest liar” in U.S. Presidential history. Every single platform promise.

In this light, Maduro’s open letter might be seen as a truly generous gesture aimed at average American citizens and not the government. It’s an acknowledgement that we truly are being held hostage globally by post-modern imperialism, and that if the Empire falls everybody suffers – even relatively independent countries like Russia, China, Brazil, etc. It’s a call for dialogue between people who live in a world where the elite power players have been operating on a borderless globe for nearly 100 years, while still dividing and conquering the little people who still live in, and identify with, their nations. We have choices, but alternative choices are going to be made maximally painful if they are to weaken either the actual or perceived dominance of the reigning empire.  

At this point we really have to be starting from the assumption that the US is the aggressor, that tried and true tactics will be used to achieve aims, and work backwards to prove such an assumption wrong.

Hard power: bombs, drones, war drums, etc.
Soft power: NGOs, economic warfare, psychological manipulation of public opinion, etc.

In other words, when listening to the words of these leaders that are saying “thanks but no thanks” to US brand democracy publicly, suspend judgment on how evil they are for the moment, and ask yourself if they a) are telling the truth about our Democracy & Freedom Empire, b) if they have the right to attempt to do things differently than you.

Is post-modern US Imperialism responsible for every problem the world faces? No. However, I do think it is the greatest human threat to life on earth right now (save the “mismanagement” of nuclear facilities the world over).

Here’s the truth: I don’t currently have any personal contacts in Russia or Venezuela. I don’t have the means to travel to either place currently. This is the case for many, many people with official opinions about the world while living in the US. We are increasingly raised to feel like we live on a borderless globe, while our actual mobility to and immersion in cultures contrary to our “homeland” is covered in red tape. Our data pool consists of the words of our leaders, the evidence from the actions of our leaders, the same for leaders in other countries, our “homeland” media, global social media, and the study of history. Propaganda lives on the internet in the form of “independent” youtube videos from pretty young protestors in Ukraine, through internet trolls, through “viral” social media memes. We have to think about surfaces and mirrors, about cover story and content – we are after all dealing with diametrically opposed psychological dispositions when talking about the average person and one who’s sole motivation is power and control. 

The story is that the NYTimes decided to run Maduro’s open letter in order to add a sense of balance, having just run a piece by one of the opposition leaders critical of Maduro’s government. I think the NYTimes knew that such a piece from Maduro would be readily and easily attacked using the same tactics that have been used by our press and meme’d by the population to demonize leaders of other countries. I’m not inclined to overstate praise for any major US media outlet though some still struggle to publish independent material, and I am thankful for the Times allowing this piece to be run. I am thankful to Nicholas Maduro for taking the time to write it, and for continuing to interact with our press despite extreme ignorance and insulting behavior repeatedly trumpeting.

For example, check out this Maduro interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37901.htm

Love,

Seth

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