The Null Device
Two art links filched from bOING bOING: firstly, a gallery of 1950s/60s TV commercial art; a lot of it very groovy in that 50s/60s way (hipsters take note). Secondly, this gallery of contemporary Japanese op art; optical illusions which do weird things as you look at them. (Well, some of them did; others didn't have an effect on me.) (Also, the second page didn't seem to load properly in Mozilla, though Safari had no problems.)
Hacker/cracker tirelessly crusades to expose security holes, ends up persecuted by the FBI; the usual story, right? Except that there's a twist. According to rotten.com editor and bOING bOING guestblogger "Macki", fugitive hax0r Adrian Lamo brought it on himself to get glory:
The fact that there's now a warrant out for his arrest won't come as a surprise to anyone whose has been following news of his exploits. He has been roaming the country hacking into corporations (not necessarily a bad thing) trying to generate the maximum publicity. He's been doing things that would be very easy for him to get away with and that no one would really care about all that much. Instead of getting away with it, Adrian made a decision a long time ago to become a hacker martyr. A close friend of his already registered FreeAdrian.com over a year ago. So with each hack he rubbed the companies' noses in it and gave juicy leads on his latest exploits to friendly reporters. He dresses it up with rhetoric relating to the responsibility of people to secure their networks and about doing a public service.
Or so one guy (who admits to having a grudge against Lamo) says.
I recently read a very interesting book (Where You're At, by Patrick Neate) about the spread of hip-hop culture from the inner cities of America to places like Japan, Brazil and South Africa, becoming a sort of lingua franca of globalised pop culture. Today I found an article which ties in to that, about multi-ethnic hip-hop in Israel, a scene which includes everybody from marginalised Arabs to Ethiopians and Moroccan Jewish rappers rhyming in French. I saw another piece some time ago about Palestinian youths on the West Bank taking to rap to voice their grievances; perhaps we really do live on a hip-hop planet.
Jordan's parliament overwhelmingly rejects ban on "honour killings", claiming that the ban would "encourage vice and destroy social values". Which is almost exactly the same words as used by Christian conservatives in America opposing anti-bullying laws for schools. Funny how religious reactionaries of all stripes will rally in the defense of thuggishness, because, in their world view, the alternative is far worse.
Researchers in Manchester have shown that infrasound can induce anxiety, sorrow and chills, as well as other weird sensations. Extreme subsonic vibrations and their effects on the human nervous system may be behind the phenomena of "haunted" locations. Could this be a hint of what's on at the next What Is Music? festival.
Today, I received in the mail a copy of the 7" Manufacturing Resent, by Clag, an indie-pop band from Brisbane in the early 90s. The album was recorded almost exactly 10 years ago (the sleeve says September 1993), and consists of six shortish songs; it spins at 33 1/3 RPM, presumably a common indie trick to squeeze more on a cheap 7".
The songs tend towards the twee indie-pop side of things, though the naïve, childlike lyrics (which probably make Architecture In Helsinki look like Burzum or someone by comparison) are underscored by very polished and competent pop arrangements. The two sides of the raspberry-cordial-red vinyl single are labelled the "Happy Side" and "Scarey Side" (sic.), with appropriate drawings in an underground-comics style on the labels.
The "Happy Side" starts with Goldfish, a song about vaguely anthropomorphic goldfish ("look look look in the goldfish bowl and they'll look right back at you"); the lyric about them having a party, eating gelati and drinking Bacardi reveals the song's Queensland origins; were the song written in Melbourne, the partying goldfish would probably have been drinking vodka or Melbourne Bitter or something. The knowing way the singer sings "at the little girly fish the boys will be glancing" is worth it in itself; though I'm not sure about the gargling solo. The icthyan theme continues in the more downbeat Paranoid ("fish have eyes they're following me, yeah, don't know why they bother with me, don't they know I'm bo-o-ring?"). The side ends with a song about a security guard at a shopping centre, with some nice almost ska-ish trombone.
The "Scarey Side" starts with "Barberella Part 1", presumably a homage to the Jane Fonda film. Then there's "Cow", with lyrics like "cow, c-c-c-c-cow cow cow cow, dog d-d-d-dog dog dog dog", and finally a slightly more meaningful song named Chips & Gravy.
The sleeve folds out to reveal a page of lyric fragments, random graffiti-like phrases ("What do you mix powdered water with?") and drawings (such as the Triple J logo with "Triple 6" underneath it), copyright-violating drawings of cartoon characters and even some cut-up text about the pathology of atonal music.
Oh yes; the Chomsky reference in the title. Chomsky is mentioned in the graffiti inside the sleeve, and the credits thank him "and social engineers the world over". However, that is is about as political as this record gets; there is no politics or social commentary, radical or otherwise, in the lyrics. Unless, of course, there is some sneaky subliminal subversion buried within the twee-pop lyrics and arrangements, designed to subconsciously instil political consciousness over repeated listenings to the ostensibly innocent lyrics. (Which is an interesting tangent for speculation; though if someone was to do that, they'd presumably choose a vector more likely to reach mass audiences; top-40 dance-pop, perhaps? Perhaps, in a more paranoid parallel universe (or a Philip K. Dick novel), such a record could have been an ideal test of subliminal persuasion/mind-control technologies; a low-profile, low-risk dry run before the personnel involved got new identities and jobs at major labels churning out boy bands? Actually, perhaps I'll use that idea in a story sometime...)
But yes; Clag's Manufacturing Resent is a charming piece of twee indie-pop. Last time I checked, 3 Beads of Sweat in Chicago were selling copies for US$2 plus shipping; they may still have some, but if they're all gone, I'm afraid you're on your own. Unless some kind soul posts MP3s somewhere or something.