The Null Device
I just came back from the Punters Club, where I saw Minimum Chips (this time with their bassist), and the last song-and-a-half of a supporting band named Light's Surprising Constancy (who are sort of post-rock ambience; they were playing in a guitar/bass/drums configuration, though they also had some kind of keyboard on stage and a portable CD player containing a CD-R; I'll have to keep an eye out for them). Minimum Chips (as before) played mostly tracks not on their recent EP; though apparently they're going into the studio to record some of their material soon.
There was also a DJ who played various things of the sort that you can only get at Synaesthesia. I'm going to have to go there sometime and further drive myself into credit-card debt.
Neal Stephenson's long out-of-print debut novel, The Big U (the one collectors have shelled out hundreds of dollars for dog-eared copies of) will be back in print in February. If you can't wait and don't have the US$500 or so that it goes for on eBay, there is apparently an OCRed ASCII bootleg somewhere on the web .
American cultural imperialism: Latino gangbangers deported from the US to Honduras are raising hell there. Trained on the streets of the US, they're more violent and heavily armed than anything in the Honduras (including the police), and go around robbing, raping and killing indiscriminately. As the police can't match them, the invisible hand has stepped in, and the local citizenry are forming death squads and killing anyone that looks like a gang member (the tattoos are a dead giveaway).
Until the homeboy invasion, local gangs got by with knives or primitive steel-pipe guns. They got drunk and maybe smoked a little grass. But that all changed under the deportees' murderous influence. The pipe guns were replaced with AK-47s and Uzis, and the marijuana with crack, which in San Pedro Sula sells for only $4.25 a "rock." Now, gang members aspire to have a teardrop tattooed on their cheek, to signify they've killed a rival. The new-look gangs quickly began shaking down grocery shops, factory girls and bus passengers for "taxes." They hijacked buses for drive-by shootings in rivals' neighborhoods, and began raping local girls, some as young as six, according to San Pedro Sula police.