May 27, 2004
My friend Max makes art
My friend Max makes art, and she now has a temporary website where you can check out some of her work. Click here to visit.
Posted by matt at 03:20 PM
May 24, 2004
Hey people, it's Bob Dylan's birthday. Give the man some props. And if you're not into Bob, spoil yourself and buy his Freewheelin' album. I swear, it's mighty good.
So a few Fridays ago (May 7, 2004), after living here almost two years without drums, I officially made my UK percussive debut playing for a covers band called the Distractions. We're an unlikely gang of Film and Media students and staffers, and without bragging too much, I must admit that we rocked the department's end of semester party. Check out the pics below to relive the glory...
The thronging masses of revelers:
Our lovely singers in mid-clap, Mike, Maggie and Christine:
Rhythm guitarist Pedro and lead guitarist Adam, playing it cool:
Bass player Mark, who does an admirable job of jumping around the stage like a gleeful maniac while executing some solid low-end lines:
Yours truly, making my usual range of drumming faces, from elation to constipation:
Christine, singing Nena's "99 Luftballoons", I believe:
So there you have, the first gig. Hopefully not the last.
Posted by matt at 02:51 PM
May 18, 2004
Dig hip-hop? Read this book
The best book I read recently was Westsiders by William Shaw. It's an account of the lives of seven young black men living in South Central Los Angeles, and particularly Compton. All of these men want to be famous rap stars, but the odds are stacked against them in an area ridden with violence and poverty.
Worthwhile reading for anyone who wants to learn more about the music which informed Eminem, 50 Cent, and the other stars who currently dominate the pop charts, and essential reading for anyone interested in hip-hop.
The amazon.com review: "What Shaw finds, apart from conspiracy theories, horrifying death rates and universal "dreaming of greatness", is desperately vulnerable men struggling with their fractured identities, often without fathers, caught up in the grimly violent struggles of gangs. It's all about colour: black or white, Blood red or Crip blue, as they either shoot bullets or word plays at their adversaries. You may prefer your beats unbroken or your jeans less baggy but that is precisely why this should prove an informative and challenging account of the people inside the genre, fabled for its oral tradition but here proving its worth on the page."
Posted by matt at 11:10 AM
May 14, 2004
Prague Vacation Photos
Today I chose to ignore my work and instead scanned some of the photos I took from my vacation in Prague. Hope you like them...
A view of the lovely city itself, including the Charles Bridge and the Vltava river:
My gracious hosts, Matthew Trafford (left) and Linda Besner (right), and fellow freeloader Katie Bryniak (back), as we dine by candlelight on the "table" (actually an old broken door that Matt and Linda salvaged):
The most elaborate clock I've ever seen, built in the 15th century and located in the Old Town Square:
Linda with an unidentified tree in the old town:
Prague has got some seriously wonderful churches:
All kinds of architectural adventures, from gothic ...
I found a store which sold nothing but babushka dolls. Some serious cultural collisions in this shot--see if you can spot the Britney Spears or Osama Bin Laden dolls:
Prague is also famous for its puppets ...
and random sculptures:
This is a stained glass window made in the 1940s, advertising the communist "Tesla" radio station:
The old Jewish cemetery:
When I first arrived, Trafford and Besner had no light bulbs in the kitchen, so this is me making veggie burritos with a head lamp. 'Nuff said:
We also celebrated Easter while I was in Prague, so Linda and I painted a bunch of eggs. Linda made some nice eggs, while my proudest contribution was the "Easter Bunny Robot of Doom" egg (see below):
The city has some nice graffiti tucked away on the side streets:
A karaoke bar, Czech-style. Live band, no tv screens, western pop tunes sung in Czech, a ceiling that rolled back during set breaks to let the cloud of cigarette smoke drift away. Plus a seriously inebriated karaoke enthusiast (bottom right) we refered to as "tie-dye guy":
A bonfire at the edge of town on the Vltava river, courtesy of my hosts' friend Johnathan Shef. We drank fire-warmed medovina (honey wine, not unlike mead), made 'smores and told stories:
Thanks a bunch to Matthew and Linda for a great time. And if any of you are interested in coming to Scotland for your vacation, don't be shy--I feel like I'm due for another one already...
Posted by matt at 02:26 PM
May 10, 2004
Canada: Downloading music is legal
Although this is actually an old piece of news (I first read about it in January), several people have told me they've never heard about it, leading me to wonder whether it might still be news to some of you folks.
Anyway, downloading music in Canada via P2P file-sharing services like Kazaa, Morpheus, and the rest, was deemed perfectly legal as of December 2003. Uploading music through the same services, however, is not. And as I mentioned in an earlier post to this website, some pundits predict that regardless of where governments stand on the issue, music-lovers worldwide will end up losing some of their current rights to use music due to computer manufacturers' new ties to the music industry.
Posted by matt at 03:17 PM
May 05, 2004
Mao on the link between art and politics
I was reading some Mao today, and that man has some forceful ideas about the role of art and culture. Here are a few to get you thinking:
1) In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause; they are, as Lenin said, cogs and wheels in the whole revolutionary machine. (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art" (May 1942), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 86)
2) Revolutionary culture is a powerful revolutionary weapon for the broad masses of the people. It prepares the ground ideologically before the revolution comes and is an important, indeed essential, fighting front in the general revolutionary front during the revolution. (On New Democracy" (January 1940), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 382)
3) In literary and art criticism there are two criteria, the political and the artistic.... There is the political criterion and there is the artistic criterion; what is the relationship between the two? Politics cannot be equated with art, nor can a general world outlook be equated with a method of artistic creation and criticism. We deny not only that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable political criterion, but also that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable artistic criterion; each class in every class society has its own political and artistic criteria. But all classes in all class societies invariably put the political criterion first and the artistic criterion second.... What we demand is the unity of politics and art, the unity of content and form, the unity of revolutionary political content and the highest possible perfection of artistic form. Works of art, which lack artistic quality, have no force, however progressive they are politically. Therefore, we oppose both works of art with a wrong political viewpoint and the tendency towards the "poster and slogan style" which is correct in political viewpoint but lacking in artistic power. On questions of literature and art we must carry on a struggle on two fronts. (Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art" (May 1942), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 84)
Posted by matt at 12:37 PM