(nature noises)

On my nightly visit to the uptown N/R/Q/W subway platform I happened upon an interesting sight.

Those of you who frequent the Broadway line platforms at 34th St. might be aware of the art installation known as REACH New York, An Urban Musical Instrument. If you are unfamiliar with it, it's a bank of infrared light emitters and reflectors connected to a synthesizer and speakers all housed in a green metal case hung about an arms reach above the platform. If one blocks one of the many beams, various musical nature sounds like birds twittering or bamboo windchimes knocking together play from the speakers. There are two of them, one on the uptown platform and one on the downtown. People love this thing and it's rare that you spend any time waiting on the platform without hearing someone playing with it.

The uptown platform's installation has the largish box which houses all the controller equipment and I'd always envisioned some ancient Power Macintosh living in there serving all these sounds. Well, tonight I saw none other than (I assume) the artist himself, Christopher Janney, up on a ladder fiddling around inside the control box:
Christopher Janney?

The train in the picture pulling into the station was mine, so I didn't have time to talk to him. Visible inside the open box was some recent model of Powerbook, an audio amplifier, and an apparatus that I assume was the switch detecting the IR beam trips. Janney appeared to be either loading new sounds into the installation or perhaps just testing it out.

Anyway, that was neat.


could you be loved?

I spent Friday night out on the town with my friend Cristian at a bar in Red Hook called The Hook. They were having a reggae night kicked off by a pretty good cover band from Jersey called Smoke and then the rest of the time was given over to Thrillamatic Sound System and King David High Five who DJed the shit out of some awesome old-school reggae tunes. No cover charge. I got there stupidly early by not noticing the start time on the flyer for which I was awarded a free beer by the highly accomodating bartenders. Cristian and I agreed that we felt very much like we were back in Amsterdam. I hope The Hook makes reggae night a regular thing because I will definitely be there.

me and my wisp

Cristian, by the way, would like to organize a shuffleboard tournament between himself and a chess Grandmaster to be played out in Iceland. Coming soon.

Also, my good friend René spent Sunday getting a Decepticon logo tattooed onto his left calf. Here's a photoset.



The Garageband export problem is solved!

Somebody (shout out to ronkurz at the Apple Support forums) has received an answer from a helpful Apple Store employee. Apparently all my problems have been caused by having forward slashes (/) in my filenames! For the non unix-types out there, the forward slash demarcates a filepath. When iTunes attempted to import the mixdown from Garageband it got all confused by the forward slashes and when 'HUH WHAT THE HUH NAH I'LL DISCARD THAT' and dissolved the file off into the ether.
Whaddya know. Exports work just fine now.

I feel kinda stupid. But hey! Who woulda thunk?


snow business like your mom's business

The snow cancelled any official band-related activity this weekend, though I did take the bus out to NJ to René's house and I played him some of our recent recording. He's feeling, in my opinion, overly self-critical. I'm still very happy with how easily Bianca dropped right in and caught on to stuff. Turns out René didn't call Bianca this week to tell her we weren't practicing so I hope she's not aggrivated by that.

Second meeting of the Nameless Art Collective on Saturday, again in the DUMBO loft. We added Farid's ex-coworker Nicole to the mix and she brings a desire to produce which is one of our missing pieces. She also apparently spent some time shooting a documentary about a real-life "School of Rock" situation that she may be interested in me cutting. The NAC decided that for our next meeting, in two weeks, we would pick a project to move forward on, and also perhaps consider a name for ourselves.

I was struck with the desire tonight to "mash up", as they say, the glory that is/was Sifl & Olly with the other glory that is/was The Wu-Tang Clan's classic album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Two of the greatest expressions of their respective media in the '90s. I want to watch characters from Sifl & Olly perform the entire record.


what the HELL, people?

Okay, this issue with Garageband failing to export to iTunes is becoming infuriating. The problem itself is infuriating enough, but there appears to be no known solution.

I've gone over (and posted to) the forums at Apple support, and every person who has had this issue has not had it resolved. The ones who've called up Apple Support directly have received nothing helpful from the list-readers on the other end of the phone who seem just as baffled as those of us having the problem, and nothing they've suggested to any of these people has helped. What the fuck is going on here?

This seems to me to be a fairly common problem given how many instances of it I've found out there on the interweb, but there is NO FIX? This is unbelieveable. You'd think Apple would be all over this.

Then again, I realize that Garageband is a $15 piece of software (if you happened to pay for iLife) and is essentially crippleware to entice you towards buying Logic (or Soundtrack Pro with the Final Cut Studio package, but AFAIK Soundtrack Pro does not allow multitrack recording...) but come on. It's stupid enough that the only way to export audio from Garageband is as either an AAC file (for "podcasting") or via iTunes. You SHOULD be able to export from Garageband as a .aiff to any destination you choose, but, again, I assume this is the crippleware factor. Failing that, it's unacceptable for iTunes export to break for unknown reasons and NOT BE FIXABLE.

I'm an Apple fan, but this is really chafing my hide.



Thanks to the ever-helpful ninja I have a new, fast hard drive in my Powerbook and thusly trouble-free 8-track recording is a reality! Testing over the weekend went very well.

Also, us three boys in the band brought in our acquaintance Bianca to play some bass with us and that also went very well. It's always awkward (for me, anyway) the first time a new person comes in to play, but it looks like it could be a very good thing. Our first homework assignment is for all of us to learn Black Sabbath's "Hand of Doom". Doooooom!

My friend Farid made good on his proposal to assemble a group of like-minded filmic folks to start producing some work. We all met at member Alexei's awesome loft down in DUMBO which overlooks Manhattan, the East River and both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. Beer and discussion were both plentiful and it really looks like we might in fact Start Something. The current shakedown proposal is to do a very short film which would be ideal for portable video devices, very possibly based on a poem Farid has written. Off we go!

I received an email from, of all people, my old Latin teacher from way back in 7th and 8th grade. He's married to the woman who cast me in my first major children's community theater production waaaay back in the day and he's hoping I'll come up to the hometown for this year's production of "Oliver!" to talk to the kids in the cast. Maybe, maybe. I'll have to think about it.


big fat liars

You know what? I don't understand why everyone (or, at least, I get the impression from The Media that it's 'everyone', but it could be no one) is so pissed off at James Frey.

Now, granted, I did not read his book and therefore I don't have an emotional investment and cannot feel betrayed. I understand that people don't like being lied to, and I'm not a fan of people willfully misrepresenting themselves for reasons that aren't whimsical or amusing or muckraking or at least funny to me.

But here's the thing: what the hell difference does it make if A Million Little Pieces is gospel truth or a big pack of lies? Readers purchased the book to be entertained. Extrapolating from the popularity of the book I'd say people were entertained. The vast majority of readers do not know James Frey, James Frey has zero impact on their lives and vice versa. There is absolutely no difference if the James Frey in A Million Little Pieces is a fictional character or a depiction of a real person. The experience is the same. It was a good story that entertained readers and has no greater impact on the world than that.

A Million Little Pieces is not a history of nations or an analysis of current events or a biography of an important person or even "reportage". It is a novel-length personal essay at best. If you connect with the story contained therein, you connect with it regardless of whether or not it "really happened". Your time was not wasted, you sacrificed nothing, you were not asked to participate in anything other than the exchange of money for entertainment.

As I said, I haven't read it so any conjecture about my reaction to this revelation if I had read it is mere speculation, but I feel that if I had read and enjoyed A Million Little Pieces and subsequently found out that it was entirely false, my reaction would have been something like: "huh. really? okay. that guy's kind of a dick." and that would be the end of it. Now, I may be atypical because I am a Media Guy myself and basically take it as a given than any piece of mass media is, in large or small part, artifice. But I honestly don't understand why the general public thinks it's a Big Deal. Oprah, okay... she has to defend her "credibility" I suppose, but even she seems a little excessively indignant to me.

Perhaps in this age where practically everyone in our culture is aware of the fact that they are constantly being lied to by those in power about Things That Actually Matter, whether or not you support or don't support those doing the lying, having one's trust in a simple True Story violated is the back-breaking straw. Maybe everyone should be grateful that James Frey has actually provided the public with not only an entertaining work of essayish fiction but a case study in Media Literacy. You shouldn't implicitly trust anything presented to you by media. Everything must be questioned.

Except me, of course.