Welcome to Helio 2, in which we explore the wild and wooly lands where techno logy and pop culture con join! It’s the wild west all ove r again, only this time we’re pioneering into the dig ital, mobile and world wide web realm. Forward ho! In this issue we’ll min e the fertile imaginations of directors Richard Linkla ter and Michel Gondry, relive the history of American har dcore and provide a layman’s guide to just how the inte rnet came to be. Join us for intelligent analysis and some very deep thoughts. The dissemination of art and information will be the same.
8. Channel 101 10. Michel Gondry 14. Alejandro Jodorowsky 16. richard linklater 18. descender Fashion 24. history of the internet 28. jaiku 30. m ward 34. broken social scene 36. Hardcore with Joby t. ford 38. 80â€™s Hardcore 40. rostarr 44. startmobile 46. expatriots 48. Kelly Sears and Davy Rothbart Cover art by Rostarr Right: Dress by Hurley; Belt by Society of Rational Dress
Caveh Zahedi is an independent filmmaker whose most recent film, I Am A Sex Addict, will be released on DVD in September. His previous films include A Little Sitff, I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore, I Was Possessed By God, and In the Bathtub of the World.
John Srebalus is managing editor at Rhino. com and a staff writer at Under The Radar. His love of hardcore punk grew in the unlikely underground-rock hamlet of Morgantown, West Virginia. Today he’d much rather put on an early Elton John record.
Next year, Justin Hall should have an Interactive Media MFA from the USC Film School. A compulsive personal journalist, he publishes Creative Commons-licensed video online with joi.tv, and provides newmedia research for the Creative Artists Agency. Justin lives in Culver City, California with the artist and writer Merci Hammon.
Peter J. Darchuk is a writer and video artist currently attempting to understand his latest manifestation, a documentary/fiction hybrid called the (un)employment chronicles. Shot solo in his apartment over six weeks of transcendent escapism and painful verisimilitude, the piece is... well, strange. He lives by himself in Los Angeles. myspace.com/dannynutter
Tracy Robinson is an artist living and working in Los Angeles. She designs by day and illustrates by night. Visit her store, duskyward.com, for fine art prints.
DW Harper is an occasionally employed writer or director living in Los Angeles with a dog and a cat. Once a high-school computer programming competition winner, he spends his middle thirties reflecting on what might have been.
Michelle Lanz is a 23 yearold Los Angeles-based freelance writer who writes regularly for publications such as Soma, Mean and Teen People. A 2004 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara she was ultra-thrilled to interview Broken Social Scene for Helio Magazine. Look for her interview with actress Lily Taylor in the August issue of Soma Magazine.
publisher StreetVirus Creative Director Random von NotHaus heliomag. com picks e up where th printed mag leaves off
Editor-in-Chief Jessica Hundley Advertising director Dr. Romanelli contributing writers Peter J. Darchuk, Joby T. Ford, Justin Hall, Dante Harper, Michelle Lanz, Steven Salardino, John Srebalus, Caveh Zahedi contributing Photographers Jeaneen Lund, Nicholas Miramontes contributing illustrator Tracy Robinson copy Editor Lon Rozelle
No portion of this magazine may be reproduced, in whole or in part without the written consent of the editor. Any material sent to HELIO Magazine becomes our property. We do not necessarily advocate or agree with the beliefs, expressions or opinions of our writers or advertisers, thank you. © 2006 Street Virus HELIO Magazine is published by StreetVirus 6725 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 270 Hollywood, CA 90028 323.465.9784
HELIO, the “HELIO” logo and any other product names, service names or logos of HELIO used, quoted and/or referenced herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of HELIO LLC. All other product names and/or company names used herein may be protected as trademarks of their respective owners.
Channeling the Unavoidable Future of Entertainment By Peter J. Darchuk
ollywood Steve spins mellow music and magical tales while relaxing in his music nook. Yacht Rock yarns about all your smoothest heroes: Loggins, Messina, McDonald, Goldstein. “We’re not just sailing the sea of smile on a gentle breeze of rock. My artists fuel their vessel with their blood and their broken dreams!” Welcome to Channel 101. Founded in 2003 by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, Channel 101 is a virtual network comprised of shortformat “shows” programmed exclusively by the Channel 101 audience. The nuts and bolts of it? Any Tom, Dick, Harry or Sally can submit a pilot episode (five minutes max), but only five will make it to prime time. The submissions are reviewed by the current prime-time panel. Once selected, approved pilots and episodes from returning prime timers duke it out at a live screening in Los Angeles, where audience members vote for their favorites. The five survivors become the new primetime shows. Without enough votes, a pilot “fails” or a prime-time show is “cancelled.” Holding on to that coveted prime-time spot is no easy task. Prime-time shows are required to generate a new episode each month; a daunting task for even the most accomplished industry pros (see Drew Carey’s Call Me Cobra). The ultimate beauty of Channel 101 is the purity of its paradigm. The artist is at the mercy of the audience, as he or she should be. The fate of a program isn’t arbitrarily determined by a network executive’s fickle mood or an advertiser’s demographic desire; some-
thing Harmon and Schrab know far too much about. In 1999 they made Heat Vision and Jack, a Fox pilot that never aired, starring Jack Black and Owen Wilson, and directed by Ben Stiller. No doubt this experience pushed them to develop a more end-user-friendly form of entertainment. Channel 101 is Bizarro Hollywood, where innovative talent is rewarded and mediocrity falls by the wayside. And the rewards aren’t all just MySpace kudos and virtual hugs; they’re rapidly becoming a legitimately fiscal reality as well. With the demand for online content exploding alongside the exponential proliferation of handheld devices, Channel 101 is at the forefront of what Harmon and Schrab have dubbed, “the unavoidable future of entertainment.”
A Channel 101 Viewer’s Guide: While the genres are all over the map, comedy reigns supreme at this online content behemoth. Here are four of the most downloaded series:
(Created by JD Ryznar, Hunter Stair, Lane Famham) Sail the smooth-rockin’ seas as Yacht Rock reveals the mythology behind rock icons from the 1970s and the inspiration for their ultra-mellow hits.
A Channel 101 pilot was shot for FX, but failed to see the light of day. But fear not, a new version of the show may find it’s way to VH1 in the near future. Until then, you can always get your fix at channel101.com.
(Created by Dan Harmon) You can’t go wrong with Jack Black. The man is brilliant. Especially when he’s part computer, part man.
“The ultimate beauty of Channel 101 is the purity of its paradigm. The artist is at the mercy of the audience...”
(Created by Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone) An O.C. inspired teen drama from the Lonely Island guys. They have since migrated to Saturday Night Live, where they continue to cook up splendid bits like Lazy Sunday. Be sure to check out their failed Fox pilot, Awesometown, at thelonelyisland.com.
(Created by Dan Harmon) A super-hero who battles evildoers by shooting lasers from his butt; a power attained through a freak burrito microwaving incident.
The Child is the Father of the Man By Jessica Hundley ::: Photo by Jeaneen Lund
n Michel Gondry’s world, skyscrapers are constructed of cardboard, stuffed animals can move of their own volition and love is a fleeting and intangible thing. The Versailles-born writer and director has managed to forge a path of visual wonder with the help of glue, scissors and an utterly indomitable imagination. There is simply no one else like him. His work stands in a world all its own, his aesthetic buoyed by childlike glee threaded through with adult desire. And something else too—a strange mix of melancholia and joy. Since his incredible string of collaborations with Bjork, Gondry has defined himself as one of the most unique voices in both music video (where he’s created visual accompaniments for everyone from The White Stripes to Kayne West) and on the big screen as well. He’s partnered with innovative screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann on two feature films: 2001’s Human Nature and 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (the latter of which won both men an Oscar for Best Writing). Just on the heels of helming Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, Gondry will delve out into the wilds alone, serving as both writer and director of this fall’s Science of Sleep. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourgh and Gael Garcia Bernal, Sleep is a gorgeously surreal comic romance that moves between dream-state and reality—with a grace only Gondry could master. You have an innocence in all your work and I think it’s very hard to maintain, especially when working in film. It’s hard to control the chaos, basically. I don’t want everybody to come and make it the way they think it should it be. I want to make the film exist the way it should exist. You hire a lot of people, technicians, people to help you, and everybody is trying to do the best job to help you and the more you are successful. They put a
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lot of themselves in it, which is good and bad. It’s good, because you get a lot of energy and can achieve a lot, and it’s bad, because people project their own expectations. My job is to mix the cards constantly, to get people to react to the moment. I don’t want them to apply their recipes that they learn again and again. Things are to be made a certain way, that attitude. I was talking with one of my producers today. We were having the same conversation. He is very friendly. I love him. He’s a great guy. But he always says that movies have been developed over one hundred years, so there are rules and the recipes to be done, and you cannot reinvent it each time. I disagree with that, I think. I think that’s just a myth. It has to be reinvented each time. That’s how you’re gonna get something different, because when you work in a method that you’re developing, each step of the way is new, is improvisation. And you have to react to what’s happening. By reacting you are creative at every layer. That’s my theory, anyway. Love seems a perfect topic, because it is so multilayered and can go in any direction. What draws you to the topic of love? My pain, basically, and the fact I have always been creative, making things. And the best subject I find so far is talking about what I have experienced. Although I am going to explore a little bit outside of myself, because I want to learn that. It’s a type of earnestness, the idea to look what’s going on on a deep level, but with keeping an absurdity and some sort of humor. Relationships are all about that, when you interact with other human beings. You try to survive and everybody has their own way that they think is the best. We always think of love and relationships. So, it’s on everybody’s mind most of the time. It’s much more on the mind than a gunfight, at least for me. So, I
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think it makes sense that it’s going to be in the film. Do you feel like your ideas of love have changed through making the films you’ve made? Well, I had experiences in my love life, parallel with making the films, so it has evolved. Is it from the film? It’s complicated, because through doing a film I get some recognition that makes me feel different about myself, but I don’t feel different about myself through the problem I am depicting in the film. So, it’s all complex. As well, I do this work and anything I do, maybe, I do to find a person that could like me on the level I want. It’s all completely interwoven. But the process of making the film, I am not sure if it teaches me anything, because when you make it, you don’t know exactly what it’s going to say to people. You are still watching the process of making it. You can’t really forget. What you learn is how actors react to your stories. And then when you do the interview and people ask you to reflect on what you’ve done, then you find out stuff. During the film it’s through the actors and after it’s through the communication with people about the film.
’n’ roll attitude that I despise, I hate. Rock is always people showing off their assurance, their confidence and their masculinity, for guys. The provocation for girls, let’s say. Then there are the ones who just use the fact that they are different to express themselves to show to other people that they can be different and can express themselves and find their place in the world. It’s a clear difference. I clearly chose my side. Now it seems that I’m doing my job to promote my side and people come to me and say they got inspired and they want to do their own project. It’s exactly how I fight for the thing I like. I am happy to carry that. I am not saying I have any truth, I am just saying, I don’t like attitude. No. The testosterone swagger, that’s not present in your work. I am not one of the guys who looks at the engine of the car when it’s broken. Generally when the car is broken and there is a BBQ, I find myself hanging with all the girls. All the guys are involved and at the fire or over the engine, and me, I’m like, “No!” Ideally, I just hang with the girls.
“I think I let myself be naive. And I guess I am. I guess I am on a certain level not so sophisticated. My producer always defined me as a pervert, a naive pervert.”
(Laughter) That’s always a good thing. That’s my goal in life, but it doesn’t seem to happen this way that often. It’s either one or the other. It’s weird. Very weird. I think the communication is the basis.
You’re obviously still doing music videos. Has it been helpful for you and people like Spike Jonze to remain involved in that genre? Spike and I, among all the directors that were from my generation, we were the cheapest. We learned to deal with that and be creative through this process and not be crazy on the money. I think it helped us moving into film.
movies. You need to talk a lot to people, you have to convince people. It’s so much politics. So many times it’s happening and then it’s not happening, negotiation...so, that’s much closer to advertising. But what we did, Spike and I, we took it seriously. We didn’t take the easy way. Each time we turned to take the hard way, because we wanted to explore other things. We didn’t use the videos just like a medium, a step, or, how do you call that? Something to get to another place. We used it, because that’s what we wanted to do at the time. We didn’t use it, we made them and they used us as well. It’s reciprocal. That’s kind of rewarding that we step into the film business and we actually can make it work. At the beginning it was not easy. I still read sometime people saying that I am a video director and they can see that in every image I do. And I just have to ignore it basically. It’s not true.
Does it surprise you how many people connect with your work? I like people who like my movies. Yeah, I have a tendency to not like people who don’t like my movies (laughter). It’s been a fight that started from my choice in music. Between the people who carry the rock
Yes. It seems that it’s a great genre for a filmmaker to begin in. It’s not like with commercials where you have the pitch from the agency. With music videos, you get to create your own world. But you learn from following advertising politics as well, which are in the
Well, with criticism it’s interesting. It can never really hurt you if you don’t believe it. But when you read something that’s true, that’s when it hurts. But there are many ways to learn from it. If you think it’s true, find a way to correct it, which I did for a lot of
It’s interesting what you say about the creative process. How people try to express themselves and at the same time try to connect with people who feel the same way. They just want to have sex with people they enjoy talking with.
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It’s a good idea. Then you’re the only guy over there with the girls. Maybe, I put some grease on my hand like I just fixed the car, and then hang with the girls!
stuff I had in my first film. A lot of stuff I failed on my second film. But in the beginning, to see people putting so much energy to bring you down, it can be really devastating. People like to push people off their pedestals. Well, but I’m not standing on a pedestal. People put you on a pedestal in their imagination and then they kick you off. And then you’re there, on the carpet. A dirty, brown carpet (laughter). Crying. (Laughter) How did you first approach writing feature scripts? Was it difficult? Yes, it was difficult. It took me a very long time. This script was being developed over four years with lots of different stages and completely renewed each time. It transformed. It’s difficult, because it’s embarrassing. When I did my first short film Le Lettre, and I heard kids saying my words, I felt really embarrassed. There was cold sweat running down my back. I felt so uncomfortable. But it got better. Now I distance myself and I feel not so responsible for the weakness. Sometimes it’s a little naive what I do. Sometimes it’s complex, sometimes it’s naive and sometimes it’s embarrassing, these things I put out. I expect forgiveness from people, basically, when they see my work. It’s interesting you say that about being naive. As I said at the start there’s definitely innocence about your work. It’s a naiveté that doesn’t seem forced. Well, I think I let myself be naive. And I guess I am. I guess I am on a certain level not so sophisticated. My producer always defined me as a pervert, a naive pervert. (Laughter) That’s not a bad thing to be. It depends on the day and whom it applies to. But anyway, it’s not whether it’s good or bad, it’s who I am. I just have to live with it.
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The Archives: Mining the Vaults of Film History
Surreal Cinema and the Expansion of Consciousness
f you’re looking to see through the eyes of a true visionary, look no further that the tripped-out hallucinogenic wonders that are the cinema of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Born in Chile in 1929, Jodorowsky worked as a circus clown and puppeteer before heading off to Paris in 1955 to study mime with the great Marcel Marceau. Immersed in the free-for-all of the Parisian surrealist movement, Jodorowsky began writing books and theater plays, eventually making a name for himself as one of the best directors of staged avant-garde madness. He also dabbled in comics, astrology, myth-making and various cosmic explorations. Jodorowsky would eventually translate his vibrant visual talent to the screen, where he would dream with an utter lack of inhibition. By the Seventies, Jodorowsky had become a cult icon, with folks such as John Lennon included among his most devoted fans. He brushed against Hollywood big budgets for a moment later that decade, beginning work on a colossal adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Set to star Orson Welles and Salvador Dali, the project also enlisted the aesthetic talents of H.R. Giger, and Jean “Moebius” Giraud. Pink Floyd signed on to do the score. The film looked to become Jodorowsky’s magnum opus, but the money fell through and eventually the gig would find its way to David Lynch. Nevertheless, Jodorowsky continued on, making not only films but incredibly imaginative paintings, comics and graphic novels as well. The power of his creativity continues, still epically resonant in all his movies—films more akin to fevered delirium than traditional moviemaking. Ultimately, his work is full of phantasms, weird apparitions and the reflections of a consciousness elevated high above most men’s small minds.
Begin your journey into the Jodorowsky beyond with some of the classic cult films below.
El Topo (1971)
Jodorowsky himself stars as a Christ-like cowboy in the midst of a brutal and barren desert landscape. The Western tradition is expanded into broader universal concepts—love, violence and the necessity of freedom for the boundless creative spirit.
Holy Mountain (1973)
In addition to directing, writing and producing, Jodorowsky also created all set design and costumes, as well as penning the score. He stars in the film as a mysterious figure known as “The Alchemist.” This is a movie that defies pat synopsis. Simply see it and have your mind blown.
Sante Sangre (1989)
Jodorowsky’s most commercially successful film, Sante Sangre keeps true to his defiantly bizarre aesthetic. A disturbed young man takes revenge for his father’s sins and his mother’s pain. Weirdness ensues. Today, Jodorowsky continues to make films and his epic personality has translated into additional guises as a renowned astrologer, tarot reader, author and comic-book/graphic-novel creator. He also just recently conducted the wedding of Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese.
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Richard Linklater is far out. By Steven Salardino
16 summer 2006
here are few contemporary filmmakers who have walked the fragile line between the commercial and the contemplative with as much grace and cunning as writer/director Richard Linklater. Thrown into the fray in the ragged birth of the early ’90s indie-film resurgence, Linklater was a defining voice in a moment that was as close to a revolution as Hollywood allows. He captured both attention and the visceral feel of the times with 1991’s no-budget Slacker—a rambling, intellectual rant that followed a loose narrative thread through the lazy-day travails of Austin’s hipster/freak elite. The film took its cues from a very French disdain of the American studio book of rules, a rejection of conformity that started with the New Wave and continues on to this day. It was Robert Bresson’s L’Argent (1983) that was Slacker’s particular parallel, a film by one of Linklater’s cinematic heroes that shares the same playful experimentation with linear storytelling. Since cementing his status as “voice for a generation,” Linklater has gone on to do pretty much as he damn well pleases, integrating earnest, playful Hollywood hits like School of Rock, Spy Kids and Bad News Bears, with deeper, exploratory fare such as SubUrbia, Tape, and Before Sunset (which garnered an Oscar nom in 2004). His semi-autobiographical coming of age comedy, 1993’s, Dazed and Confused, has just been recognized as the comic masterwork it’s always been by recent inclusion in the prestigious Criterion Collection. “I always have a lot of films swimming around in my head, things I’m thinking about or characters that feel real,” explains Linklater of his creative process. “But for me, the litmus test is, I would say the analogy would be—a bottomless well. You can go down to the bottom and never quite figure it out completely. I like a story to have a lot of layers, a lot of meat on its bones, and complexity.” Linklater tends to push the envelope of his own (and the audience’s) intelligence, and his films share a constant, probing curiosity—about everything from love and relationship to metaphysics and the universal collective unconscious. A fine example of Linklater’s exploration into the latter is 2001’s ethereal Waking Life. For this dreamlike series of cinematic meditations, the filmmaker partnered with artist Bob Sabiston, who had just developed an innovative animation technique of overlaying hand-drawn images over video. Sabiston’s organic/tech aesthetic combo resulted in the perfect visual accompaniment to Linklater’s poetic intellectual wanderings. This summer and fall Linklater will helm two very different films—the live-action version of the bestselling nonfiction book, Fast Food Nation and the taut, wry thriller, A Scanner Darkly. For the latter, Linklater utilizes Waking Life’s same eloquent visual effects once again for an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s cult sci-fi phenomenon. As a result, he continues to push himself
forward, experimenting not only with form, but with genre as well. Highlighted by performances from Robert Downey Jr., Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and Linklater staple Rory Cochrane, the film transfers Dick’s paranoid, futuristic vision into a combination of philosophical diatribe and darkly comic graphic novel. “It’s interesting what first draws you into something,” says Linklater of A Scanner Darkly. “I’ve been a Philip K. Dick fan since I was in my mid-20s. And after I made Waking Life, I was interested to see if there was another story I could tell with the technology I’d learn from Waking Life. And I started exploring Dick’s literature and Scanner just jumped out at me as being very personal to him. And I thought the animation technology would work for that story, for the disorientation the characters are feeling. The question Philip K. Dick asks with this film, ‘How do you know what is real?’—I thought the style would encompass some of the sci-fi elements and not make them cheesy, which I think might have not worked in live action.” Linklater’s fascination with Dick seems logical, as both share a certain disregard for status quo and a loose, rambling, almost existential flow to their character development. In both Linklater and Dick’s worlds there is always a fierce inquisitiveness—a wondering about the “why” and the “how” and the “what.” “More than any of his other books,” explains Linklater, “there was something about this one, about those characters. It seemed like something I would do, a story I would tell. I shared the view, both the humor and the tragedy. The humor and the tragedy, hand and hand, or one quickly on the heels of the other. That’s my view of the world—incredibly sad, but funny at the same time.”
“I like a story to have a lot of layers, a lot of meat on its bones, and complexity.”
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18 summer 2006 Jeans by Hurley; Shirt by Society of Rational Dress; Sweater by Hurley; Jacket by Dr. Romanelli; Sneakers by Adidas.
Caftan Dress and vest by Society of Rational Dress; Pants by Hurley; Sneakers by Yoji Yamamoto Y3 collection for Adidas, available at Barracuda LA.
Photography: Nicholas Miramontes Styling: Sarah Sandin Hair & Make-up: Sarah Sandin Model: Abigail at Zoo Model Management
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Jacket, hoodie and pants by Hurley; Blouse by Society of Rational Dress; Sneakers by Converse, reconstructed by Dr. Romanelli.
Dress by Society of Rational Dress; Hoodie and jacket by Hurley; Leggings modelâ€™s own; Sneakers by Yoji Yamamoto Y3 collection for Adidas.
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Dress by Haley Star; Poncho by Hurley; Sneakers by Converse, reconstructed by Dr. Romanelli. Cheshire Cat “Black on Black” edition, Span of Sunset, Inc. x © Disney. Available at spanofsunset.com
Dress by Society of Rational Dress; Vest by Hurley; Sneakers by Yoji Yamamoto Y3 collection for Adidas.
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A humorous historical perspective on the Internet. By Dante Harper
German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
24 summer 2006
omehow the idea of telling the “history” of the Internet seems a little retrograde from the get-go. Thanks to the Internet, we suddenly live in a world on an almost purely need-to-know basis. If you really want historical data, just Google it up, see what Wikipedia has to say…But if you’re entering “Internet, history of,” you’ll want to check back tomorrow. And the day after. Better yet, set your browser to refresh every 20 seconds. Because whatever the Internet is, it’s just getting going, and perspective, especially historical perspective, is getting pretty hard to come by. How big a deal is the Internet, from a historical perspective? As far as events in the history of “civilization” go, the Net may well rank with when humans first figured out how to use electricity. That was a doozy. And we may be in for another. Think about it this way: If harnessing electricity allowed us to move work from one place to another, then the Internet allows us to move information. Before we had the Internet we had things like televisions, telephones, radios, telegraphs, newspapers, books, and uh, shouting really loud if we wanted to “move information around.” But these mediated kinds of communication are to the Internet what, well, rubbing two sticks together is to flipping on a light switch. The best perspective on it is to remember that electricity wasn’t
invented, it was discovered…and then channeled into a million uses that changed, well, everything. That might be pretty good way to think of the Internet – not so much as something that got invented, as something that was discovered.
A NET BY ANY OTHER NAME
Now some will tell you different. Some will explain that the Internet was invented in the early ’90s, with the first “Web” browser. Others will say it was e-mail, which had been around for about 20 years before then. Between those two, there are a lot of good places to claim it all started. We can say it was the invention of the word “Internet”—people will quibble about when it first popped up in common usage, but we think it was around the same time Duran Duran had their first hit single. The word “Internet” was a catchall to describe a bunch of different networks that started talking to each other…What were those networks? Well, as the boring story goes, there were some plucky computer scientists in the 1960s who wanted to connect all their computers together (computers were the size of houses back then, and pretty tough to move from place to place), and a bunch of military guys who thought this might be some cool new way to take over the world. Together, they created gobs of networks; ARPANET,
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history of the internet DARPANET, NSFNET—noticing a trend? And if you’re not satisfied with how fast your Net connection is, think again—your text messages zoom around about sixty thousand times faster than they did back in the days of the these dozers. Anyway…An especially smart guy named Vint Cerf (now there’s a name straight from a science fiction book) and some of his computer-oriented pals came up with a way for all these networks to talk to each other. A common language. He probably wanted everyone to call it the “VINTERNET,” or maybe something supernerdy like “TCP/IP Protocol”…oh wait, he did call it that. But no one wants to say “can you send me that via TCP/IP PROTOCOL?” because that answer’s always going to be “do what?” So people started calling it the “Internet.” Or the Net. How did it work? By cutting all information into little packages, and addressing each and every little package. Sounds simple enough, but from Vint Cerf working all this out to Jane Shmoe ordering her first pair of stockings from Amazon.com? We’re talking about 20 years. From those stockings arriving to Jane reminiscing about them on her online video diary? Another 10. That’s now. Is that really the whole story? TCP whatever and then you have the Internet? No. Because the way the Net talks will change, but it will still be the Net. And however much it’s going to change, and change the world, it’s probably going to run on one much more basic idea than TCP etcetera. An idea that got pretty well worked out, oh, about 301 years ago. When you argue with your cable company about how slow your Web pages are uploading? You’re talking bits. Megabits. Kilobits. Bits. That’s where it started. Germany. Way, way back in the day.
OK. Once upon a time, there was a mathematician with the biggest hair in all of Germany and possibly in all of the civilized world. His name was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In 1705 he published a paper about “bits,” and from that moment, the Internet was probably all just a matter of time. Lebniz had this notion (pretty much useless back in 1697, mind you) that you could reduce any math to just ones and zeroes and it would still work. No more one two three four, but on, off, on on on, off off. Forever. Of all the inventions that had to happen for your phone to give you e-mail access, or your car to show you a live updated traffic map to the megamall, this is the biggie, this is the one that hasn’t changed one bit—ouch, I mean one iota—since its invention. It’s the basis of all modern computing. By the time Vint Cerf was figuring out a way to cut information into packets
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“The Internet is taking over a lot of the duties computers used to have—your life is virtualizing as we speak.”
that knew where they ought to go, binary logic was rote memory from his first computer science class. But now here’s the philosophical part. And Leibniz would have wanted it this way. Because he would say he didn’t invent binary numbers, he would say he discovered them, like an explorer discovering an island. And historians would back him up—other people had figured this out before, like thousands of years before. But it’s pretty safe to say that he’s the one the guys who built the first computers were reading. The thing is, he thought he’d discovered something truly fundamental about the universe, like fire, or electricity…And maybe he did. Think of it this way: “Computers” as we think of them might just be a flash in the proverbial pan of history, compared with the Net. The Internet is taking over a lot of the duties computers used to have—your life is virtualizing as we speak. Your phone does most of the things you used to need a computer to do, and your computer will soon need the Internet to even function. In fact, it was when cell phones switched from old-school “analog” (the digital age’s equivalent of shouting really loud) technologies to digital that they started working a lot better, and the line between the “Internet,” your “phone” and “a computer” got a whole lot blurrier. Everything is going online and the idea of being offline, at any time, will get more distant and strange with every passing month…or day, really. It won’t disappear, but the context will change. Imagine a world where “I saw it on the Internet” is as archaic as “I lit the room using electricity.” Right? The Internet will soon be this…fundamental. Our context is shifting, our perspective is in radical flux. We’re in the middle of something that by any measure is just getting started. Thinking about Leibniz, with his wig collection and his exquisite handwriting, filling up a thousand quill-ink pages on “bits,” might give a little perspective on the Net—or it might make you woozy. Or both. But Leibniz’ “bits” were the first flag on the information moon. They mark the beginning of the new territory, the information-space where everything that can be turned into bits, will be. Thank you for reading. We now return you to the history in progress.
Play with MyWare Mobile By Justin Hall
Establishing the Playfield: Jaiku
pyWare is secret programs installed like a virus, recording our keystrokes to steal our credit card numbers. MyWare is that kind of surveillance, willingly installed by users on their own computers, to record and analyze their time with their devices. Why would someone care? If you spend your waking hours with your laptop or mobile phone, communicating with people, your device knows an awful lot about you. MyWare allows you to track all that data—creating a kind of productivity trail. You could examine this data to find out, for example, that you receive most of your calls in the evening. Or that you tend to send clusters of messages all at once. This kind of knowledge might make you more productive, or at least contemplative. And all this data could also make a promising playing field for new types of mobile games.
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Today, you can go to Helsinki, Finland, to catch a glimpse of the future of the “mobile surveillance” playing field. An erudite ex-Nokia researcher by the name of Jyri Engeström has recently assembled a small team to develop a mobile social software startup: Jaiku. Jaiku takes over your phone’s buddy list and default screen and presents unprecedented levels of personal mobile disclosure. Seated on a blanket in the grass during a rural picnic, Engeström excitedly demonstrates a working prototype—his buddy list, with greatly expanded information: “By glancing at my phone, I know a lot of things about my close friends.” Engeström begins to read from his screen: “I know Teemu is on his way home from work in a part of Helsinki called Haaga. He’s probably on the bus because there are many people around him.” Engeström knows this because Jaiku reads local Bluetooth device signatures to see if other people (friends or strangers) are in the vicinity. He continues: “Mika has been home from work for about an hour and his girlfriend is out. And they can see that I’m working on my laptop at our summer place in Fiskars.” Keeping tabs on your friends is, in a way, a more intimate parallel to government Big Brother surveillance: “sousveillance,” researcher Steve Mann calls it. Engeström explained the appeal of this level of personal information sharing: “I think rich presence is a good thing because it makes you feel closer to the people you care about. For instance, I don’t see my mom as often as I’d like, but now she knows that I’m OK, and I feel good knowing she can see what I’m up to even if I don’t call her every day.” With this software, your buddy list knows where you are—they might join you if they’re able. Friends might ask you to run errands for them as you’re on the road. Your location and status provides a constant performance, and a constant invitation to others.
Everyone in your buddy list knows where you are, and even a bit of what you’re doing: that’s the sort of awareness present in today’s massive multiplayer online games. In environments like World of Warcraft, players can see their list of friends, where they are in the world, what their immediate status is. With a layer of fiction added on top, software like Jaiku could turn all of mobile life into that kind of virtual environment: a multiplayer online game you play—just by living. Instead of waiting in line at the pizza parlor, you are preparing to do battle for the liberation of Hibernia. Instead of driving home from school, you are carrying an important telegram for the galactic trade ministry. Why bother? Because without that layer of fun, real-time information disclosure could seem invasive, or even creepy, at least at first. Abstraction and metaphor would allow people to experiment with their personal data trail without being too specific. If the game takes place as you’re using your device, then you accrue experience and items just from moving and communicating. If the game caught on, you might find yourself going out of your way to boost certain statistics—“I’m showing up as a member of the Santa Monica gang; I better put some more time in Echo Park.”
Or maybe your avatar isn’t you, but your pet instead. Picture a Tamagotchi in your mobile device where your creature is fed passively through the data you consume and process. If you frequent a certain restaurant, your data pet would be fed that food, and so it would dress like that cuisine (a sombrero, lederhosen, salwar kameez). If you attend a Mos Def concert, your data pet would be seen listening to his hip-hop collection. As these data pets take on your characteristics, you can send them out into the world to mingle with other avatars. Picture your souvenir-laden data pet bumping into other data pets: checking out someone’s data pet to see where they had been, and doing a bit of surrogate data pet show and tell.
So much of what we do with technology is social. That time people spend on MySpace, e-mailing, chatting—it’s become the primary way in which we stay connected. And the level of intimacy is constantly evolving. Already you can see a kind of casual exhibitionism on photo-sharing sites and social networking sites: “Here I am eating this crazy food.” “Here I was so drunk visiting our mutual friend.” With systems like Jaiku, and the games that could be built on top of this type of surveillance, moving around and making calls could literally be transformed into a type of performance piece.
From Here to There
It may be awhile before we are technically able to share all this real-time data through our mobile devices. Some services still seem to have enough trouble with picture messages, let alone constant status updates. Besides, this kind of active online life drains batteries and eats through data-plan megabytes. And it’s not clear that all folks will be comfortable with this level of personal disclosure, at least not without some strong privacy controls that take time to learn and deploy. Technical and privacy barriers aside, software like Jaiku shows us what mobile phones are for. Remember when phones used to belong to houses? You called someone’s house and hoped they were there. Then there were phones in cars! Now we have phones on people, and we’re likely only to become more connected. The result? With a mobile device, you are already part of a braintrust: one of many experts scattered around the globe, waiting to solve problems. Think about it—you can contact so many other people who have their phone in their pockets: priests, politicians, performers, professionals. Some farmer in the Philippines could drunk dial you right now and ask for relationship advice. What good can that do? Warren Ellis had an idea: he wrote the comic book Global Frequency, where all manner of folks around the world carry special mobile devices so they might be called in to solve global problems. You might not be a nuclear physicist, ready to defuse a bomb, but you could play one on your mobile phone. Using technology like Jaiku, we can build Global Frequency-type games: shared objectives for teams of people. With these kinds of games, we learn to solve problems, and prototype the collective future: where we are plugged in to each other wherever we are.
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The Music of M Ward By Caveh Zahedi ::: Illustration by Tracy Robinson
ometimes a singer can grab hold of you with his voice, squeeze the ribs and pull the heart out—shake you to the core. There are a few like that. Billy Holiday. Johnny Cash. Otis Redding. The great unsung Karen Dalton, an all but forgotten ’60s Greenwich Village folk singer, doomed by alcohol and self-destruction. Then there’s M Ward. A 31-year-old from San Luis Obispo, California, Ward grew up playing Beatles songs and belting out what was to become his own blues/ folk/gospel hybrid in a wavering, earthy, strangely illuminating purr. Now based in Portland, Oregon, M Ward has leapt to the forefront of the neo-folk Renaissance, spreading a broken-blossom trail of gypsy melodies and thoughtful lyricism. His music culls its inspiration from the ragged truths of old blues and bluegrass records and the smoky warmth of heyday jazz recordings—it sounds simultaneously world-worn and defiantly, thrillingly, innovative. Now releasing his fourth album, entitled “Post War,” M Ward has become both a critics’ darling and a favorite of his peers. He has toured with bands as diverse as Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, and the White Stripes. He has covered hallowed tracks by indie folk hero Daniel Johnston, and performed on Moveon.org’s 2004 Vote for Change tour alongside the likes of Bruce Springsteen and REM. Filmmaker and screenwriter Caveh Zahedi sits down to hear Ward tell his tale.
30 summer 2006
On the new album, you did a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “To go Home.” That’s a great song. But your version of it is so utterly your own, that I didn’t even recognize it at first. That’s because his production style is so stripped down, it allows for the imagination to create a lot of different interpretations. And how did the Daniel Johnston tribute album come about? I was just invited to do that from a guy here in New York City. He said just pick one of your favorite Daniel Johnston songs. And I have a ton of songs of his that I love. So I just picked one of my favorites. On “The Believer” compilation, you did a song, “Vincent O’Brien.” Who was Vincent O’ Brian? An old friend. Something I learned after making my second record, “End of Amnesia,” was to not be overly specific about the meaning of songs. It’s much more interesting for me to keep that window open. It’s not very interesting for me to have a song that’s specifically about one thing. It sort of takes the magic and the mystery away from the song, and half the time other people’s interpretations are much more interesting than my own. Can you talk a little bit about how you got started playing music? I was about 15 when I started borrowing my brother’s guitar and learning how to play.
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m ward “I’m not really up–to-date with modern music. I spend most of my time listening to older records. That’s where I get most of my inspiration from.”
I received as a gift the entire Beatles anthology and I went through all those songs and learned all those chords and that’s how I learned how to play, it was just by following those…do you know what a tablature looks like? Yes. That’s how I learned how to play. So I started four-tracking a bunch and basically I was four-tracking for, let’s say that was like 1988 when I started fourtracking, and I didn’t record my first album until 2000, so 12 years of four-tracking, and then I started making proper records. So from the Beatles to starting to write songs, what was that transition like? Well it’s funny, if you learn all the Beatles chords, you can very easily make your own songs by reversing some of the chords or the chord order or by making one of the measures twice as long, or by taking the exact same chord structure and changing the melody. Because their catalogue is so rich and vast, I couldn’t have asked for a better education. Can you talk a little bit about the Vote for Change tour? Yeah, that I got involved in just by invitation from Conor Oberst [of Bright Eyes]. We did maybe half a dozen shows with Bruce Springsteen and REM. It was really exciting being witness to these giant congregations of people united for a cause. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the election, but it was worth it just to have that experience, to see these huge amounts of people united for a good cause. Was it very much a collective kind of situation with all the bands or was it pretty much everyone on their own? It was REM, and then John Fogerty, and then Bruce Springsteen and then us, and there wasn’t a ton of time to prepare, so everyone just did their own thing and then at the very end there was a giant free-for-all. But was it a fairly communal experience among all
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the people touring? It was. We met everybody, and the spirit of the thing was really inspiring. It was completely a benefit and whenever you have those kinds of environments, people tend to be…you know, community spirit is alive and well in those kinds of atmospheres. Are there plans to do one for the 2008 election? (laughing) No plans yet. What have you been listening to lately? I discovered this blues player Elmore James last year. He’s an amazing singer and an amazing slide player. And I’ve been getting more into the obscure Howling Wolf records, or rather, records of his that I’d never heard before. So I’ve been listening to those two guys quite a bit. And what recent music do you like? I thought the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs record was great. I saw them live not too long ago. I thought they were really inspiring. I did a tour with the White Stripes at the end of last year, and I thought that was also really inspiring. But I’m not really up–to-date with modern music. I spend most of my time listening to older records. That’s where I get most of my inspiration from. What would your fantasy future for yourself be like? My fantasy future would be to just pretty much…well, making music for a living is pretty much the dream job. When I first started making music, I thought my dream was to be able to go to Europe on someone else’s dime, because I’d always dreamed about going to Europe, and so I finally went there, and then I went there a bunch of times. Now the only dream that I really have is to continue to experiment, to continue to be inspired by music and to not get old. To learn more about M Ward and his music, go to mwardmusic.com To learn more about Caveh Zahedi and his filmmaking, go to cavehzahedi.com
pawned north of the border in 1999, Toronto’s Broken Social Scene is more commune than rock band. This collective of indie-rock vets have combined to form what might be termed a “super group,” were it not for BSS’ inherent humbleness. Their music is alternately epic and fragile, but always sincere. Boasting a lineup that swells from five core members to 10 or 12 when touring, BSS make a lovely, enormous sound—loping, melodic and uncategorizable. Check them out this fall at a venue near you. Helio talks shop with Broken Social Scene’s Charles Spearin.
“It’s exactly like being in a giant dysfunctional family.”
I know there’s a core group but sometimes there’s up to 10 of you, right? Is it difficult to work with so many people? Well, I wouldn’t really say difficult. You kind of get used to it. It’s exactly like being in a giant dysfunctional family. How did you all find each other? Well, you know it’s just one of those natural things that happens among a creative little cocoon. People are connected through various people and we are just fortunate enough that we had a nice chemistry when we got together. What about writing songs? I would say most of the songs come from Kevin. He’s got a lot of interesting little shapes and stuff and he strums away and we add on to it. There are certain songs that come from other sources, too, sort of the nucleus. Most of the songs on the first album came from all of us being in a basement and jamming and then Kevin adding the vocals later. There are definitely levels and layers of collaboration. It seems like recently there have been several bands forming collectives where they all play on each other’s albums or form their own record labels (e.g., Saddle Creek, Polyphonic Spree, etc). Why do you think that is? I guess I would say that it’s just a proliferation of digital technology that allows people to make records in their closet. So you and a bunch of your pals are sitting on 10 records all of a sudden. Why wouldn’t you do that? Especially when you feel strongly about what’s going on or what your friends are doing.
Keeping It All Together
Was there a theme or concept you guys had for this most recent album? It’s actually a super-claustrophobic, self-referential paranoia. That’s how I describe our record. Its analogous to Sly Stone’s “There’s a Riot Going On,” which he put out after all his celebration songs and everyone was waiting for Sly to come again and unite the black and white and the young and old and be the one, and then they’re all waiting for him and finally when he puts the album out its called “There’s a Riot Going On,” and its deep and dark and scary and he produces one single called Family Affair, which talks about the tearing apart of a family. I would not put our
record on the same level as “There’s a Riot Going On,” but it’s a very similar situation. How do you feel about the age of music piracy—do you think the ability to download music online is a good thing? I think it’s a good thing. Because what are you going to do about it? We can’t do anything about it. I steal music, but I tend to steal music from dead people. If the person’s alive, I steal it and if I like it, then I’ll buy it. Something does have to be figured out. Something better than a freaking computer-owned conglomerate music store. There’s got to be a better version than that. It’d be cool if there was like a mom and pop store or something. What about Myspace, iTunes and having music on cell phones now? Do you think they are a positive thing for smaller bands? I guess so. I can’t really measure the effects. You hear a story that The Arctic Monkeys gave away their record online and then when their album actually came out everyone went out and bought it. I mean that’s a cool thing you don’t think would happen. Are you surprised at all that you have been able to keep it together and be successful both with BSS and your other projects? Yes, I am surprised at all that, but let’s not forget there’s no safe ground. Music is a ridiculous thing to do and the minute you think you’ve made it no one gives a shit. And that’s the way it should be, that’s kind of how it goes. So, I am absolutely so happy and thankful that I don’t have to teach English right now, but I keep my grammar book on the shelf! Learn more about arts-crafts.ca/bss
By Michelle Lanz 34 summer 2006
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Diggin’ In the Crates: Golden Nuggets from Music’s Past “I remember at that second that Bad Brains was for me and that there was this massive underground music scene that I was oblivious to. And I remember feeling dumb. Very dumb.”
Bad Brains - Rock for Light
When I was in high school, you either liked the Metallica Black album, or you traded Grateful Dead bootlegs, neither of which I cared too much for. My friend Scott brought a VHS tape of Bad Brains playing someplace in New York City. We snuck into an empty classroom and put it in and the volume was so loud and we couldn’t figure out how to turn it down, so immediately some teacher came charging in the room and confiscated the tape. I never saw the rest of that tape until many years later. But I remember at that second that Bad Brains was for me and that there was this massive underground music scene that I was oblivious to. And I remember feeling dumb. Very dumb.
Suicidal Tendencies How Will I Laugh Tomorrow
Joby T. Ford of The Bronx Takes Thrash into the Future while Digging up the Past
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os Angeles-based hardcore act The Bronx have some massive shoes to fill, a long history of hyper-fueled Cali-punk that could either inspire or intimidate. But by the sound of their self-titled major-label debut on Island Def Jam, The Bronx don’t seem the kind to back down. You can either kill your idols, or push it all one step further. In the Bronx’s case, it’s both at once—their frenetic hybrid thrash takes its energy from those raw and manic days of early LA punk, but infuses that sound with a decidedly new Millennial slant. This is neo-punk spawned simultaneously by admiration for their heroes and a healthy dose of original talent. Together, The Bronx are doing their best to keep that Black Flag flying. Guitarist Joby T. Ford gives us a punk-rock history lesson. “Hardcore when I was a kid was like hip-hop is today. You were either West Coast or East Coast. But we all secretly enjoyed the classics from the other coast. West Coast hardcore was ultimately categorized as punk, but there was never really any sort of genre then. West Coast was more in tune with what people were feeling. It was angry. I had a hard time swallowing East Coast because it was so positive…and nothing is worse than positive music. Still to this day.” Some of JTF’s favorites, in no particular order:
ST to me was something far greater, and still is. I always thought that they existed in a place that no one else can exist. They were too talented for punk (yet they were lumped in being from California), didn’t dress flamboyantly enough for metal, but was still associated with it, and I was never sure if Mike was Mexican or white. Didn’t matter. This record sent me for a spin when I heard it. I had no idea what this band was about. But it was scary. And I was hooked.
DI - Horse Bites Dog Cries
DI Ruled. Even if it was kinda a side band. The great thing about this band is no one liked them (except me and a few other fools). Definitely Rick Agnew’s finest. (not The Adolescents).
Negative Approach Tied Down
Probably the finest hardcore record in my collection. A friend of mine had this on vinyl when we were kids. My friends and I grew up poor, so if one of us got a tape we would all copy it. I had a dual cassette recorder, so my room was pretty popular. But if someone showed up with a record, that meant we had to wait till my dad got home, because no one got to touch his prized turntable. I remember giving this record to my dad and asking if he could record it to a cassette for me so I could play it in my Walkman. He looked at the cover and shook his head, then he put it on and started cursing. I bet John Brannon would have smiled.
D.R.I - Dirty Rotten
Nothing has hit me like the first time I heard DRI. When I first heard “Sad to Be” I remember thing 2 things: 1. Is something wrong with my stereo? 2. No way these guys play that fast…something is definitely wrong with my stereo. Still to this day no one is as fast. It’s inhuman.
G.G. Allin - Public Animal # 1
G.G. is pretty much the coolest guy ever. I own everything he ever did. This album is really hard to find, and is has nothing to do with hardcore at all. But I am putting it in this category because G.G. was the most hardcore dude ever. This was back when it was G.G. Allin and the Jabbers. I think he was like 18 years old then. But you can totally hear the seeds that were planted. And how he would go on to rule the world. W.W.G.G.D. (What Would G.G. Do?)
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Diggin’ In the Crates: Golden Nuggets from Music’s Past
“’80s hardcore represented a truly grass-roots phenomenon that helped modernize independent production and distribution, activities that big media are currently either attempting to squash or appropriate in name only.”
If ’80s Hardcore Were Only Rock ’n’ Roll By John Srebalus
ou were living under a rock for the last five years if you missed punk’s canonization. Seventies punk, that is. Green Day, Rancid and other ’90s crews were seen as reviving that first wave—Clash, Damned, Ramones and Pistols. By 2005 three Ramones were dead, Steve Jones had a radio show, and something approximating Malcolm McLaren’s fabled Sex boutique had found real estate at the local mall. Meanwhile, the corporate media party line—awakened to the idea that much of punk was simply great rock ’n’ roll—called the scene dead well ahead of 1980, and it faded fast in the hands of the new wave marketeers. Originating in suburban Los Angeles and reportedly taking its name from D.O.A.’s Hardcore 81 LP, punk’s faster, angrier, uglier phase remains an afterword, an unconnected regional phenomenon that found it hard to be sexy while soapboxing on humorless matters.
There’s of course some truth in that, but it also seems awfully convenient given that ’80s hardcore represented a truly grass-roots phenomenon that helped modernize independent production and distribution, activities that big media are currently either attempting to squash or appropriate in name only. A handful of key hardcore bands get love. Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Social Distortion, Minor Threat, and the Germs all have shirts at Hot Topic, the last earning iconic status via a dead young singer and a Joan Jettproduced album, 1979’s proto-HC GI. Sure enough, many of the hardcore bands sound boring to contemporary ears, trading in tempos that make tight-pocket drumming nearly impossible, and juvenile rants about their peers’ crappy attitudes. But there are many bands with shelf life. Here are a few offerings from some of the finer lesser-knowns.
Faith/Void (1982 self-titled split LP, Dischord)
Die Kreuzen – Die Kreuzen (1984, Touch and Go)
Kraut – An Adjustment to Society (1983, Cabbage)
The Offenders – Endless Struggle (1985, Rabid Cat)
M.I.A. – Murder in a Foreign Place (1984, Alternative Tentacles)
Thankfully, plenty of good hardcore is still—or recently—available on CD. In fact, sub-two-minute songs have made the dying disc a perfect home for two-fers (Die Kreuzen) and complete discographies (Germs, M.I.A., Minor Threat). Steven Blush’s American Hardcore: A Tribal History (2001, Feral House) is the essential written roundup, soon to be released as a feature-length documentary.
Ian MacKaye’s little brother Alec fronted The Faith, and, sure enough, his band didn’t manage to escape the shadow of Minor Threat while sounding more than a little like them. The Void side is rough, reckless and uniquely menacing. Peak-era D.C. hardcore from a worthy B-team.
This Queens quartet had brushes with the famous. Early NYHC torchbearers, they opened for The Clash at Bond’s and got the Pistols’ Steve Jones to play guitar on a couple of this album’s tracks. Some of the thrashers expose weaknesses in the drum department, but melodic anthems like “All Twisted,” “Onward,” and “Don’t Believe” redeem.
Las Vegas’ M.I.A. were one of a handful of hardcore bands that employed melody, tempo changes, and studio savvy to truly great effect. Murder’s snarling vocals, big bottom end, chunky Gibsons recorded with sizzle and smart slow/fast constructions transcend the genre. If you can do without the less-than-subtle politics, dig it for the sheer muscle.
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A rather strange brew, Milwaukee’s Die Kreuzen (German for “the crosses”) sit comfortably on the label that brought us Scratch Acid and Big Black. On this selftitled hardcore mutation, tin guitar, scary vocals and dominant string-rattle bass bring a dystopian mix to familiar beats and chords.
This is as visceral as it gets. If hardcore was over by ’85, nobody told The Offenders, Austin, Texas’ finest footnote. Struggle was dubbed metallic, and the guitar player had long hair, but this thing thrashes like a hooked Great White. Again, a beefy, well-performed recording that doubles as something you can just plain rock to.
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The Medium is the Message
orking in a variety of mediums (painting, sculpture, animation and more), Romon Kimin Yang defies the limitations of visual art. By combining the metaphysical and the mathematical, Yang (aka Rostarr) has created a unique aesthetic he’s deemed “Graphysics”—Graphic Design + Quantum Physics. In 2001 Yang expounded on this theory in his first book, entitled, “Graphysics”. In 2004 he was honoree at the A.I.C.P. show held yearly at the MOMA. And since 1999 he’s been an integral member of Barnstormers art collective. Yang has also worked collaboratively with numerous corporations, including Gravis, Yamaha, Nike, Scion and Agnes B - cross pollinating art with commerce, and enhancing brands with his innovative aesthetic. By combining his skills in design with a fearless visual experimentation, Yang has developed a thrilling, free-form technique. His art incorporates symbolism, psychology, nature and mysticism, into vibrant, continuously evolving work. Helio finds out what makes Rostarr tick. What strengths do you feel design has lent your painting and vice versa? I was driven to paint because of my understanding of iconography design, working with negative space, composition and the super-flat quality of silk-screening. Can you describe your “Graphysics” theory? Graphysics denotes the dynamics at work in my creative
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process; it describes a nexus between graphic art and design and the physical laws governing the movement of energy. Tell us more about the Barnstormers collective—its members, mission, etc. The Barnstormers collective is a group of about 30 members from Tokyo to New York, all the artists have painted barns in Cameron, North Carolina, where hometown native David Ellis (Skwerm) sponsored our first-ever painting trip down south during the summer of 1999. Our original mission was pretty simple in the beginning; all we wanted to do was paint large, beautiful murals. Eventually we started to combine our works and influences together onto public spaces, stop-motion art films and live performances. In what ways have new technologies and methods pushed through to the the world of visual art? I think new technology is helpful to everyone and their mothers. It seems that anyone and everyone is an artist or designer now because of the advancement of digital media and computers. I’m not sure if it’s the death of analog visual art or the end of originality, but I’m excited to see how outputting methods in the future are going to improve. What is your take on the marriage of commerce and art? It’s two things that go well together—like peanut butter and jelly.
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Art Is for Everyone
orget the trite commercial images that provide the banal backdrop to your cell-phone screen. Gallery owner and tech wizard John Doffing is the bright mind behind Startmobile.com, a Web site which provides new and innovate artwork to light up those gloomy interfaces. Helio gets the scoop.
This page from top left: Hypnoteis, Anthony Yankovic, Patrick Nagel, Thomas Wolf, Winston Smitrh, Dee Adams, Luc Latulippe, Zoltron. Opposite page from top left: Tim Biskup, Zoltron, Shepard Fairey, Sugarluxe, Buff Monster, David Choe, Yomiko Kayuka, Terratag.
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What led to the inspiration to provide the world with a mobile art gallery? I have been a fan of emerging and underground art for years. As a new collector, I had NO money and I found traditional galleries pretty intimidating and unnecessarily pretentious. So I simply gravitated to what I liked. And this led me to artists like Aidan Hughes and Winston Smith, whose album covers for bands like KMFDM and the Dead Kennedys really grabbed me. The very first art show that I ever curated was called PROPAGANDA, and featured art from Aidan, Winston, and Shepard Fairey. Over the past few years, I put together a few dozen art shows through Start SOMA (startsoma.com) and the Hotel des Arts (startsoma. com/hoteldesarts.html) in San Francisco, and in the process, exhibited literally thousands of emerging and underground artists from around the world. While I was putting on art shows at night and on weekends, I was spending my days as a technology entrepreneur, and like everyone else, I witnessed the explosion of wireless technology and the proliferation of mobile content. I have always believed that art should be for everyone, and a mobile art gallery is a pretty literal manifestation of this vision—for less than the price of a cup of coffee, we have the ability to deliver some pretty amazing artwork to literally BILLIONS of mobile phones around the world. The implications of this are pretty profound.
MOBILE as opposed to their experience in a traditional gallery space? I have never met someone who doesn’t like art. While tastes undoubtedly vary from person to person, art itself is pretty much a positive constant for everyone. Yet I have heard from countless folks over the years that they hate art galleries—and ironically, even as a founder of multiple art galleries myself, I can relate! For some reason that I have never completely understood, the ‘traditional art gallery’ tends to be pretty cold and unwelcoming. I am not a big fan of the traditional perfectly lit white cube showcasing a few overpriced canvases. Once you get away from the idea that art should cost a lot of money and should only appear on the pristine white walls of a gallery or museum, a whole bunch of new possibilities open up. Technology can facilitate a lot of outsidethe-box thinking relative to the marketing, ownership and appreciation of fine art, and I guess this is a significant part of what I am trying to accomplish. Now don’t get me wrong—mobile art as it exists today is no substitute for ORIGINAL artwork by any means. But it does introduce a decidedly egalitarian ethos into an art world that has become inaccessible to the vast majority of potential art lovers. Mobile art is pretty interesting—for the first time in history, we have widespread global access to digital artwork through portable personal devices. There are over TWO BILLION cell phones in use globally, with ever-increasing processing power, storage, and display capabilities, representing an entirely unprecedented audience for new art. A British street artist like PURE EVIL can create a mural on the walls of an alley in Shoreditch, snap a digital picture, upload it to our site, and our systems instantly format the image for optimal distribution to hundreds of different phones and carriers globally. And the customer owns the digital art—it is in their pocket! Because we
“Once you get away from the idea that art should cost a lot of money and should only appear on the pristine white walls of a gallery or museum, a whole bunch of new possibilities open up.”
are dealing with bits and not atoms, there is no limit to the amount or variety of art that we can offer. The largest art show I ever created in the real world featured a few hundred artists, maybe a thousand paintings, and a few thousand people saw the exhibition. With mobile art, no such limitations exist—right this very second, millions and millions of people have immediate access to our galleries! Singing frogs notwithstanding, mobile content represents nothing less than a creative and artistic revolution.
Helio members can download custom Screens from StartMobile via Helio’s mobile portal (i.e. the “Surf” application).
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The New Global Citizen
t was 1930. Henry Miller—destined to become a world-renowned author of fearless, revolutionary diatribes, but in those days still a lowly employee of what he called, “the Transdemonic Telegraph Company”— gathered up his belongings, said good-bye to NYC and climbed aboard a boat for Paris. He would subsist solely on croissants and the kindness of others before publishing his first book, but the move, the transplantation from one culture to another, was enough of a shock to his system to shake his muses from their roost and set him down on the path he’d longed for. Miller wasn’t the only one. Hemingway and Fitzgerald had arrived in Paris a decade earlier and established themselves as honored ex-patriots. Paul Gauguin went from France to Tahiti in 1891 and spent his days eating mangos and painting voluptuous Tahitian models. The threat of what would become World War II sent a slew of artists scrambling for the West Coast of California, with Los Angeles the unexpected but fortunate host to a wave of German intelligentsia—Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and directors like Fritz Lang and Billy Wilder.
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There is something about transition that clears the air around oneself and fuels a fire within. For some, fresh surroundings and a transitory lifestyle is just the thing to keep the soul from sleeping. Today, this kind of gypsy wandering is all the more seductive and accessible. The world is shrinking and technology has made us all wanderers of one kind or another. The term “expatriate” continues to evolve, as artists, businesspeople, students and seekers constantly criss-cross the globe—interacting, melding, mixing— pioneering always into new realms. The result is a journey that is sometimes also the destination. To find out more about how mobile culture and the Internet and our ever-smaller world is affecting the happily transient, Helio spoke with three modern expats. Rafael Nazario is a Puerto Rican writer, musician and restaurateur now based in Sydney, Australia. Andria Mitsakos is a public relations executive who is nearly always on the move. Rocky Dawani is a musician from Ghana who splits his time between his homeland and Los Angeles, California.
When did you first decide to relocate your life/business and why? RN: Being in Mexico and having lived most of the last 15 years as an expat I wasn’t all that keen on returning to the U.S. Several countries were on the short list—Spain, England, France, etc.—but in the end, an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up arose in Australia. Thus, currently in Sydney. AM: I spent my childhood shuttling between my New England home, the Caribbean and Europe. I always had a sense for other cultures and felt ‘at home’ just about anywhere. My father always made me feel like we had family everywhere we went, and those satellite families watched me grow from pigtails to Prada. This ingrained wanderlust led me to Antigua, where I worked as director of corporate communications for Elite Island Resorts. I then launched a series of PR agencies and after a three-month sabbatical in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in 2003, I knew I could never again live permanently in one place—regardless of where it was—ever again. The same scenery every day? The same people? Sure, I had every opportunity to travel the world for my work, but so many trips were quick stops here and there—living
somewhere is just so different. It gives you depth. RD: I started spending part of my time since the mid ’90s outside of Ghana. It was born out of my need to expand my sources of artistic inspiration...as a musician I grew up surrounded by traditional styles of African music and occasional American music, which to some extent was limiting. I believed that traveling outside my environs was the best way for me to experience other cultures and fully develop my potential. Los Angeles offered a melting pot of musicians from different parts of the world so it was a natural place for me to relocate to. Do you feel like we are becoming a more global culture due to technologies such as the Internet, cell phones, satellite TV, etc.? RN: In some ways yes, in other ways, no. The other day I was online with a friend in Thailand and at the same time, with one in Mexico. Sweet feeling. Yet, I’ve learned that no matter where you move, the view you carry in your head is the one you are most apt to see. Some people live in the small towns or large cities of Mexico (or Austria, or Japan and other foreign-tongue
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countries I have lived in) and they may as well be back in Oxnard—befriending only other Americans (which is to say, U.S. denizens) and rarely mixing with the local culture. Others do mix in but somehow manage to remain “eternal visitors”—rarely venturing beyond self-imposed safety nets. (These are the folks who never learn much more than a few words of the language and if given the opportunity are more likely to eat at an Outback restaurant.) More to the point, perhaps, it is the spirit and attitude of the individual that forges new ties and helps break down cultural walls—regardless of available technologies. If anything, utilitarian toys such as satellite TV and cell phones can be distractions in the process of cultural assimilation. AM: Think about our global marketplace 10 years ago; five years ago. Remember sending a fax? My personal ‘global network’ of friends and contacts is worldwide and I have colleagues and even clients that I have never met in person. From Milan to Miami, today’s technology makes the world spin for me. I simply would not be able to live my lifestyle without it. RD: Technology is definitely closing the digital divide between the haves and have-nots in this generation. Information can be disseminated at a faster rate and there are broader alternative sources available for people all around the world to communicate and access information. This change has brought people closer without them having to leave their geographical location and bringing in its wake an emerging culture and social structure beyond the physical jurisdiction of governments. I believe we are heading toward an era where the concept of nations and citizenry will expand beyond political boundaries to a form of digital social structure where people’s allegiances are globally centered and defined by their subscription to a certain type of philosophy. A potentially positive aspect of this change is the fostering of understanding among peoples and cultures that are requisite for peaceful coexistence. What are the biggest advantages to living this kind of expat lifestyle? RN: As a U.S. citizen the distance helps put into focus just how loopy and extreme the cultural milieu has become in the United States—or rather, the anti-cultural milieu, because for all its preening and posturing the United States has become a country where the banal,
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the dumbed-down and the insipid wins out over the genuine article. Going to the mall is now what passes for culture in the U.S. That and sharing anecdotes about TV, the proverbial Seinfeld re-run. (LOPIL—Living Other Peoples Imaginary Lives, I call it. ) As an expat, one is lest apt to be held in rapture by the latest episode of Desperate Housewives because one has managed quite convincingly without it. Entertainment references aside, the distance allows truth to be sifted through a finer mesh, leaving the subtler shades of gray clearer to the eye. AM: Being able to capture the sensibility of many places and people. And for me, primarily, it’s being able to carry on a relationship with my boyfriend who travels as much as I do. We always meet in fabulous places and although we might be working long days and nights in these locales, we are together.
“I believe we are heading toward an era where the concept of nations and citizenry will expand beyond political boundaries to a form of digital social structure where people’s allegiances are globally centered and defined by their subscription to a certain type of philosophy.”
RD: For me it provides the opportunity to search for common grounds within parallel social realities. It’s provided me with a unique ability to experience, understand and accept cultures other than mine and in so doing my world view has expanded and my music has been greatly enriched. What valuable lessons has this kind of lifestyle taught you? RN: The more you think you know, the less you actually do. Thus, take any of the above stated with a grain of commensurate salt. AM: The need to accept people and culture for what they are—things that are going to make you grow as a person. Being in one place makes you stagnant. Imagine never meeting anyone outside your community. Imagine not knowing the spirit of other cultures and religions. Get out there and live! RD: We are all connected and related—any action that one takes anywhere affects others everywhere.
To learn more about Rafael Nazario, go to sodarecords.net To learn more about Andria Mitsakos, go to andriamitsakospr.com To learn more about Rocky Dawuni, go to rockydawuni.com
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Video artist Kelly Sears and Davy Rothbart from Found magazine discuss the joy of rediscovering the discarded.
avy Rothbart and Kelly Sears have both found a method of transforming lost and forgotten imagery into art bursting with poetic resonance. With his hugely successful Found magazines, books, fiction and an upcoming documentary, Davy Rothbart has taken found imagery to a whole new levelâ€”transforming those discarded love letters, tattered homework papers, school notes and old photo albums into poignant reflections of human emotion. With her animation and filmmaking, Kelly Sears mines the found imagery culled from thrift stores, swap meets and Google image searches to create psychedelic/philosophical video meditations. Her amazing work has been screened at the SFMOMA, the Chicago Underground Film Festival and at various galleries, museums and screenings worldwide. Using media artifacts, Sears forges revisionist histories and creates unforgettable, fantastical landscapes. Helio put the two together to talk about how something lost, is also something gained. Photo from the Found archive
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Kelly Sears and Davy Rothbart
Still from Sears’ movie Crucial Crystal Davy: So I just got back and got to sit down and watch all your films. They’re amazing! Kelly: Where have you been? Davy: I’ve actually been on the Warped Tour doing a documentary about my friend’s band Rise Against. It’s a punk rock band, I love their music and my old roommate from Chicago is the lead singer. So I followed them for two weeks of the tour through, to me, the most American of cities—Cincinnati, Scranton, and Buffalo. I wanted to make a movie about the band, but also their fans. So I would meet a fan in each city and then spend the next day with them, meeting their families, almost doing a mini-documentary on them. I’m trying to weave together the lives of the band with the lives of the people who love their music. You get to explore this whole underground and it’s really riveting to get drawn into the life of a stranger. I would see someone in the crowd who looked interesting and I would find them afterward and explain what I was doing and asked if I could hang out with them the next day at work, at home, with their families. Everyone said yes! It was a thrill; it was like reading a Found note, then actually hanging out with that person. But I was curious about the images you found for your films. I know that some have come from Google image searches, but in the films they have cohesiveness. Kelly: Well, the images all come from disparate sources, but I tried to make the videos create a logic that can hold them together. Almost like one of those Eisenstein montages where you have these two elements together
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and it’s the junction—these two images together that create this third meaning. With some of the images, they’re culled from old National Geographics and encyclopedias and I create fictional stories that spin off or are inspired by those images. It seems like with Found magazine, you find these little artifacts of someone’s life and it kind of opens up bigger emotions that are context for them. And you’ve done a book of fiction too, which I’m interested in. I was wondering where for you, the idea of collecting and the idea of creating stories overlaps? Davy: For me, I think they’re both ways of imaging into other people’s lives, or maybe integrating your own experiences, too. I’ve discovered with these notes or photos that I’ve found or that people have found and sent into me, you get a glimpse into someone’s life and it sparks your imagination. You try to find out what this person’s story is; it’s like a riddle. It can really fill you with wonder. It’s one of the reasons I like traveling, meeting those people that you might not otherwise meet. The book [ed. The Lone Surfer of Montana Kansas] came about because I was traveling, driving through rural Kansas, through these endless cornfields and I saw out my window this kid and he had perched a surfboard between two old tractors and he was standing on top of it, surfing. And the sun was going down behind him and it was totally mesmerizing and I pulled over to watch him. Later I sat down to write and I kept wondering what his story was, what his life was like and so I wrote this whole story imaging his life and what would have happened if our lives had intersected.
Kelly Sears and Davy Rothbart
“It’s finding the context of where this moment of pathos or desire came from and having that be a small piece of a much bigger story.”
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Kelly Sears and Davy Rothbart
Notes and photos from the Found archive Kelly: Thatâ€™s beautiful. Davy: It was. It was a beautiful image and moment. It was such a private moment for him, alone and doing his dance and surfing, thousands of miles from any ocean. Thereâ€™s something cool about that too, his imaginationâ€”a boy growing up in the cornfields dreaming of ocean waves. There was a sense of hopefulness and of sadness, too. For me thatâ€™s the overlap. Both collecting found notes and writing stories, both are the process of creating stories about people you donâ€™t know yet, stories about the kind of lives people are leading out there. Kelly: Itâ€™s these moments that you catch by accident. I think those moments are hard to find in your own life. I think with the magazine it becomes a communal thing, a shared effort to find those moments. Davy: I think a certain degree of voyeurism is healthy. To be curious about what other peopleâ€™s lives are like, of what being human is like. Itâ€™s nice to know that other people are going through the same joys or sorrows. But I want to ask you about your process as well. Letâ€™s start with your music choices, can you tell me more about that? Kelly: I did the music for some of them. And, well, this is going to get into a kind of nerdy obsession of mine, but many of the others use MIDIâ€”I have a love affair with MIDI translations of songs. It stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Itâ€™s a kind of computer language where you can digitally approximate any note
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in any kind of digitally coded instrumentation. So maybe youâ€™re doing a MIDI translation of a Led Zeppelin song, the vocals could turn out to be a horn. So it plays all the notes as the original, but itâ€™s these kind of flat, mute computer tones that re-create the song. Davy: How do you begin to put one of these pieces together? Kelly: Itâ€™s really about collecting as well. I go into thrift stories or swap meets and stories just end up calling out to you. I use everything from found photos, old book images, images from Sunday papers. The hard part is collecting and then it becomes a sort of meditative process. I scan the images and one image eventually becomes the turning point of where the video will go. Itâ€™s in a lot of ways about the associations that lie beneath the images and finding some way to weave all these non-direct associations together, to create a different path. I think thatâ€™s one of the most interesting things working with found images and with your fiction and documentary as well. Itâ€™s finding the context of where this moment of pathos or desire came from and having that be a small piece of a much bigger story.
Look for Kelly Searsâ€™ amazing work at a gallery, museum or film festival near you - kellysears.com Check out the newest compilation of Found masterworks in the magazineâ€™s second book release Found 2 - foundmagazine.com
Published on Dec 19, 2008
Welcome to Hel io 2, in which we explore the wild and wooly lands wh ere technology and pop cultu re conjoin! It’s the wild w est all over...