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Jun ‘08 No. 3

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Volume 01/Number 03

on the cover:

Jonny 5 of Flobots

3 Color Serigraph on Paper 18” X 24”

Benjamin Hunter Editor-in-Chief

On Stands:

7

Interview

9

Interview

12

The Bronx

The Secret Machines

Seun Kuti

8

10

16

Jun 1st - Jul 1st

Interview

The Dresden Dolls

Cover Story

Interview

Flobots

Art

Hip Hop Chocolate

David Dodde

Creative Director

Shaun Saylor Publisher

Assistant Music Editor: Juliet Bennett-Rylah Music Editorial: William Case • Brian Hoekstra • Benjamin Klebba

20-23

Essays & Interview

Media Ecology Association Preview

28

Interview

The Friendly Skies

Eric Mitts • Emilee Petersmark • Nick Stephenson • Elizabeth Viernes • Andrew Watson

Essays: Corey Anton • Wes Eaton • Nikos Monoyios Copy Editors: Emilee Petersmark • Elizabeth Viernes Contributing Art Director: Andy Cruz Contributing Artists: Jason Murray Photography: Tom Brooks • Kim Zsebe Website: Chris Martinez • Shawn Melton

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Headquarters:

29

32

Essay

The Evolution of Media…

30

Show Review

Flight of the Conchords

Interview

Shepard’s Hope Shepard Fairey Interview Part 2 of 2

Wide-Eyed LLC 1158 26th Street Suite #724 Santa Monica, CA 90403

Comments:

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General Offices: Wide-Eyed, 1158 26th Street Suite #724 Santa Monica, CA 90403. Wide-Eyed assumes no responsibility to return unsolicited editorial or graphic or other material. All rights in letters and unsolicited editorial and graphic material will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and material will be subject to WideEyed’s unrestricted right to edit and to comment editorially. Wide-Eyed, date of production January 2008. Custodian of records is Shaun Saylor. All records required by law to be maintained by publisher are located at 11740 Wilshire Blvd. Building A2203 Los Angeles, CA 90025. Contents copyright ©2008 by Wide-Eyed Publishing LLC. All right reserved. Wide-Eyed, the “Eyecon” and the Torn Edge mast head are marks of Wide-Eyed, registered U.S. Trademark office. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any electronic, mechanical, photocopying or recording means or otherwise without prior written permission of the publisher.

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26

Department

Flavor Savior Interview with Sam Calagione founder of Doghead Fish Brewery

Local Interest

Store Front

24

Department

Music Review


Letters

6

FROM THE EDITOR: We as a culture have a tendency to look at globalization through the lens of economics and trade. While watching M.I. A . perform at Coachella, globalization took on a whole new meaning. The medium was the message. For those moments in the Sahara tent, globalization signified creative synergy. The video screens amplified a world movement of song and dance. The speakers projected a kaleidoscope of globally infused rhythms and melodies. Through technology and art, the kids in the Sahara tent became one with the world. In the prophetic words of Marshall McLuhan, we were re-tribalized. Media are powerful tools of education, socialization, and indoctrination that influence our understanding of the world and the way the world functions. It affects how we perceive ourselves and others. Media technology is rapidly accelerating how we function as a global community. It permeates all aspects of our daily lives. The constructs of time and space contract and expand with the tools we have created for ourselves to stay connected. Aside from our monthly dedication of bringing you the best in music and art, this month Wide-Eyed brings you a fascinating look into the world of Media Ecology. Formed by the brightest minds in the interdisciplinary world of communication, The Media Ecology Association will gather for its 9th annual convention at Santa Clara University from June 19th to 22nd. This preview is but a taste of a vast world of dialog that is taking place in our homes, businesses, and halls of academia. Take a moment to engage in this dialog; participation is always welcome. All the Best,

Editor in Chief, Benjamin Hunter

I rarely have seen a piece of commentary so poorly thought out as “Drinking the Digital.” Mr. Anton appears to have everything entirely backward. Far from his contention that raw video--and this also extends to the blogs, but let’s stay with video right now--is “uncondensed pap”, ready for easy drinking, the truth is that raw video is very difficult to digest by its very nature. That is its essence. Even his metaphor for ruminate falls flat--because that which is raw must be chewed over in order to get it down. That cud chewing process, for video, is editing. The end result can range from the 1:10 news package to the full-length motion picture. What has been processed for easy digestion, the edited piece, fits Mr. Anton’s desciption of what we readily drink in, not raw video. It is the finished product that goes down easily. It has been chewed over for the consumer and that’s why it’s so easy to digest. All the extraneous bits, the pointless red herrings and the halffinished attempts to, say, deepen a charachter or poeticize a situation, have been removed to make the story more accesible, believable, and obvious to the viewer.  All the mistakes are strained out. Now you have your pap, and now it’s truly uncondensed, unencumbered by all those annoying bits that get in the way of pure consumablity. No knotty problems to consider. No extra viewpoints. No wasted seconds that allow you to think. No need to ruminate as you endlessly consume.  That’s the outcome of editing. Edting is not putting in more density, more meaning, more difficulty for the viewer to decipher and wade through. It’s straining out everything that doesn’t fit. What’s left is truly uncondensed, thinner, more easily accessible to a larger number of viewers. Isn’t that the unthinking attitude against which “Drinking the Digital” seems to be railing? Mr. Anton should take a look at Brian DePalma’s interesting recent failure, “Redacted.” It’s a Rashomon-style look at the current war through the eyes of several competing documentors. This multiplicity of opinion does not lead to a coherent arc for any player or viewpoint. And if box office is any determinant of consumability, it does not make a compelling case for the masses being able to chew through this stuff easily and find it enjoyable. Mr. Anton writes well enough. Next time he might get together with William Case, wikipedia, YouTube, and a copy of Language, Truth and Logic and see if they might find a consensus of opinion, at least in your Santa Monica office. I like a screed as well as the next guy--usually even more, actually--but it appears that this argument on the value of the multiplicity of viewpoints is a little adrift. Maybe Mr. Hunter or Mr. Dodde might like to find a consistent tone for your new publication? All the best, Mark Spearin

Mark, Perhaps you should just read the article again. Corey discussed the nature of film and editing and how it is DIFFERENT than the instantaneous plug-and-play creative drivel of online video content. Perhaps you should read the piece again before you expose your inadequacies as a reader; wasn’t that the point of Corey’s argument. Ironically you are the subject of his piece; learn to chew. In regard to our multiplicity of viewpoints, we printed yours didn’t we?   Love, Benjamin Mr. Hunter,   I picked up your 2nd issue at a smoke shop on melrose today.  I needed a new piece and I tend to snatch up free rags with dope covers. When I grabbed the face of Saul Williams and flipped it over, I saw the picture of Obama with progress underneath it and said to myself “Nice… this one I may read”    So I get home, and when the opportunity arouse I sat back and opened your paper, and low and behold the Editor in Chief is from Michigan, where I grew up, and is working in the media being proactive, like I am, and speaking of a real change being in the air, unlike all the other times before us, with a feeling that this may be our last chance to make the big difference. At this point I realized that I spent an 1hr on the phone with my farther, on the way to, and at the smoke shop, before leaving with your paper.  During that conversation, we touched upon several of the same themes, you mentioned in your letter from the editor.  It is refreshing to see there are others who know, and are getting the message out there, without destroying the dream in the process, well done.   BTW If you ever have a moment I am working on a few things and I would enjoy picking your brain.   Best Regards, Erich Smith — Thanks Eric, It’s great to hear from another cat from America’s high-five! Let’s keep the dialog rolling. We appreciate you reaching out. *Correction to Questioning “Mr . Deity ” The text should have read, “the molecules have a tetrahedral arrangement to each other, and during the phase change, ice molecules form symmetrical hexagonal rings.”

— Corey Anton


7

The Bronx interview by Benjamin Hunter

Formed in 2002, The Bronx was signed to Island Def Jam Records with twelve live shows under their belt. Currently they are working on a double vinyl release to come out later this year. This unprecedented studio effort is sure to make the kids go nuts: one record punk, one record mariachi. They will perform every date of the Warp Tour and the guys are completely ready to hit the road, sombreros in full effect. We meet them at their studio in Van Nuys, CA for an afternoon of brews, crusty bandana’s, a ride in Jorma’s Black Caddie, and a special rehearsal session that still has the film crew dazed by the glory of rock.

will have a different line up, it’s funny to look at the catalog, and be like “ Wait that was our old record.” WE: This new album that you are working on there is a mariachi record and a punk record. Are they the same record with a different feel? MC: No they are completely different. It is like they are two different bands almost, but it is awesome. I’m super excited about it. We finished the mariachi record about two

Wide-Eyed: You guys were signed to Def Jam after only performing twelve shows. How long have you guys been playing together before that point? Were there other bands that you were playing in before? Joby J. Ford: Matt and I had played in other bands together, the old bass player and I had played in bands before that and that is how we met Jorma. I think Matt and I had been playing in different bands together for about five years. Matt Caughthran: (Claps) I love you man. JF: Yeah it was kind of a fluke thing. J o r m a V i k : Every thing happened super quick . JF: I think we were pretty lucky, I guess if you would call that lucky to have an opportunity to sign on to a record deal so early on in this bands career. This wasn’t the first time we picked up instruments and started a band. It was like the fifth or sixth. MC: But it was the best one by far. WE: What were some of the other bands that you guys were in before? JF: Let’s start with the earliest bands, those are my favorite. Jorma? JV: I had a band in high school call the Stench Mob. It was like street punk. WE: What part of LA are you ( Jo r m a ) f r o m ? JV: I’m actually from Seattle. So I have been here about ten years now. MC: I was in a band called PFI that didn’t stand for anything (laughs). We couldn’t come together as a band, it should have been the first sign that it wasn’t going to work. But, then I was in a band called Brotherhood of Death. Then me and Joby had a band called the Drips and after that The Bronx got started and that was that. WE: So then with Brad and Ken, did you guys play in other outfits before The Bronx? Ken Horne: I played in a band from San Diego called The Dragons. JV: Was that your only band? KH: I was in a band called M80 (everyone

JV: (busts into hysterical laughter followed by everyone in the room) Bravo! MC: No that’s just a song, it’s no one in particular really. JF: It’s a generalization. MC: Everything starts out specific and then kind of ends general. I don’t want to be a specific finger pointer when it comes to lyrics. WE: So it’s more an ode to the “Prom Queens” from all over the US that come here? MC: Yeah you know, there are nasty women from everywhere and god bless ‘em {laughs}. WE: You are headlining Warp Tour, what are your thoughts on the tour say over the last five to seven years? MC: I don’t know, we steered away from it for a long time because it seemed like the music that was on there wasn’t really something that we were interested in. Now we have an opportunity to do it and I am actually really glad we waited because now we are playing on a really good stage with a lot of good friends. You know it is what it is, any where you go whether it’s a festival or a club or whatever, there is going to be good bands and bad bands. I’m just excited to get in front of some people who haven’t seen us before. We’ll play our half hour of power and it’s going to be great. It’s going to be summer time, the sun is gonna be out, it will be hot out, the music is going to be loud. The site and the thought of young kids showing up to Warp Tour and seeing us in mariachi outfits {breaks out in laughter} and playing acoustic instruments is just going to be amazing.

in the room bursts into laughter for reasons unknown, he is referring to a San Diego punk band from the early ‘90s.) Brad Magers: I was in a band called the Christiansen for almost ten years. Other than that I have had this small stint in another band called The Exit. WE: Was Christiansen an Evangelical Christian punk band {jokingly}? BM: No we were a stoner rock band. CH: They were stoners {laughs}. JV: They were just stoned. WE: Is there any reason why you guys don’t have a title to any of your albums? What is the deal with that? MC: Laziness! WE: Not for purity or continuity, it’s just strait up laziness? JF: Yeah, I would say so. It is interesting because we don’t title our records so all of the things in iTunes are backwards or they

weeks ago and then we finished this record and then we are leaving for tour. So, it feels good because we have been home for awhile, working and working and writing so now that the end of the rainbow is in site, it feels good to look back and know that we are going to have two records and they are both going to be great, so I’m excited. WE: When you tour are you going to play as both bands? CH: Yeah I imagine we’ll probably mix a set up. Some times we will play as El Bronx completely and sometimes we’ll play as The Bronx. I imagine a lot will be pending on if we are hung over or not. It’s kind of cool, it’s an exciting time to be in the band, having the whole other outlet (mariachi) is really exciting. WE: The song “LA Lady” is that about a particular lady? MC: Steve Aoki (aka DJ Kid Millionaire)

WE: What are some of the bands that you are looking forward to touring with? MC: There are some bands there. We did a tour with Circle Jerks and GBH. I know that GBH will be doing part of the tour, those are dudes that we see when we go over periodically to England, but to actually be able to play with them again and get to hang out with them, it’s going to be great. WE: No one is going to the hospital this time? MC: It’s going to get real nasty, I can feel it. It kind of makes me nervous, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. WE: What are some of your favorite experiences touring with our bands? JV: I think one of the coolest things is when we took 400 Blows over to Europe with us. That was really cool. That’s a band that we really love and we had a blast with them. (concluded on page 31)


8

The Dresden Dolls’ Brian Viglione interview by Juliet Bennett-Rylah

It was Halloween in the year 2000 when drummer Brian Viglione chanced to meet singer/songwriter/pianist Amanda Palmer. Together, they now form the two-piece powerhouse that is The Dresden Dolls. Through two albums, The Dresden Dolls (Roadrunner Records, 2004) and Yes, Virginia (2006), they beguiled their way into our cold, black hearts with their emotive vocals, clever lyrics and peculiar rhythms. They could be slow and pretty, they could be brash and dissonant, but their shows were always a balance of unrestricted vaudeville and straight-up rock ‘n roll. In May, the Dolls gave us a third album, No, Virginia, containing b-sides and tracks composed in seasonal sessions. Wide-Eyed’s Juliet Bennett-Rylah caught a moment with Brian Viglione to discuss not only the new album, but also what exactly Viglione’s been up to lately. From recording with Nine Inch Nails and preparing to tour with The World/Inferno Friendship Society, Viglione’s been keeping busy and never losing his spark for imaginative and inclusive performance.

Wide-Eyed: So, I think we’re gonna ask you a little bit about the new album? It’s coming out on May 20th, and contains B-sides and songs from other recording sessions that didn’t make it on Yes, VirginiaBrian Viglione: Well, no, I wouldn’t say it exactly like that. {laughs} Yeah, kind of, I mean, to word it is sort of a delicate thing because it’s not like, “ Well, these are just like the songs we didn’t like and, well, god, I guess since we have to put them out…” It’s basically that when we made the first record and Yes, Virginia, we chose the songs that we felt worked best together as a full album. We deliberately recorded 17 songs when we did Yes, Virginia, and said “ Well, at least we’ve got great recordings of these particular tunes,” and then took another opportunity after the tour this past January to basically arrange and finish songs that we had worked on ages ago that we had always wanted to release. And that’s really what No, Virginia is; it’s basically the companion album to Yes, Virginia. We didn’t want to make, like, a twenty-song record. So, this is basically the second volume of material now that we finally have the time, money, and form to release these songs.

WE: Now, I’ve seen you and Amanda play live several times, and the last time I saw you live was the True Colors tour. BV: Yeeeah, the best tour ever! WE: What made you guys decide to be on that tour. I mean, obviously it was a human rights tour. Is that the primary reason? BV: Well, I think we felt really honored to be involved with that group of people for that cause and we had heard that a lot of other bands that they had asked had denied, or not denied, but refused to join because they were afraid of what it might result in. WE: That’s too bad. BV: Yeah, we were like, “No way, this is something we totally believe in,” and to go on tour with Debbie Harry and Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, and all of those great people -- it wound up being the most wonderful combination of people and personality and fun and beautiful venues and, you know, a wonderful cause to raise money and awareness for. WE: So, you and Amanda have been involved in individual projects for a while now. You were on tour with HUMANWINE, yes?

BV: Yeah, that was ages ago. Actually, what I ’m doing now, I haven’t been this excited about a project in a long time. I ’m going to be touring with a band from New York City called the World/ Inferno Friendship Society. WE: Yes I’ve read about that. What exactly is that? BV: They are basically a punk-rock swing band. Old dear friends of the Dresden Dolls who we met and sort of recognized as kindred spirits back in 2004 when we were booking our own shows and trying to meet other crazy bands that were just kind of out there on the fringe. We found that we definitely had a shared sense of spirit and vision with World/Inferno. Recently, I got a message from Jack, the singer, and he said, “ You know, we’re going off for this five-week tour in Europe and we’d love to play with you if you’re available.” And I was like {exclaims}, “Perfect! This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for!” The music is just like really energetic and creative and they’re great musicians. I’ve never seen an audience a slam dance, swing dance and waltz all in the same show and that’s something that World/ Inferno is definitely good for. WE: Excellent, that seems like it fits in very well, seeing as how you and Amanda are very ‘performance artist’ even in your music. BV: Yeah, absolutely. It feels like that wonderful network for friends and performers that you share a similar kind of vision where, you know, it’s not your standard cookie-cutter trendy band but it’s people out there really playing real music doing what they believe in sort of against all the odds. You know, it’s very difficult to keep a ten-piece band touring around the world but they manage to do it and have a wonderful time at it so I’m really happy to be a part of it. WE: After all that’s done, I know that the Dresden Dolls are going on a little Spring tour. Is there going to be another extensive tour after World Inferno and all that? BV: Eventually, yeah. We’re still sort of on the general hiatus. Amanda is going to go tour on her solo record for a while, basically about a year. I think she and I will probably regroup sometime in late 2009 and sort of reassess the situation and start working on some new songs and do some more touring. But this period of time off for us has been very healthy, very good for rekindling the creative spirit, to work with other people. It’s made it all that much more enjoyable to come back and do Dresden Dolls, to work around that, because you’re sort of able to come up for air once in while instead of drowning under this insane schedule. WE: Are you going to do a solo album of your own? BV: I do not have a solo album planned as I’ve never really considered myself a songwriter, but I’ve been collaborating with a number of different people on writing projects, which I love, and I’ve even been doing a little bit of producing for some of them too. I generally find that my muse strikes when I hear a raw song, in its kind of nascent stages, and it’s sort of only then when I have something concrete to go off on does my mind really start turning. I’ve done a lot of work out of New York with different friends and some stuff here in Boston, just different recording session and things like (concluded on page 31)


9

The Secret Machines interview by Eric Mitts

The Secret Machines haven’t hid themselves from the rest of the world for the last year and a half on purpose. While finding a niche fan base among mostly the indie elite, the band has played from a broader base than the attention of that crowd would imply. Their first two albums, 2004’s Now Here Is Nowhere and 2006’s Ten Silver Drops have resonated with rock legends like David Bowie and Bono – the latter going so far as recording a cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” for last year’s ‘60s-inspired summer flick Across The Universe with the band – to hipster online zine critics who wouldn’t normally embrace anything with such raw power or psychedelic inklings. Drummer Josh Garza, the propulsive force behind the band’s big, classic rock sound, told Wide-Eyed that while The Secret Machines have done some things unconventionally, such as play a tour in the round with the audience surrounding the band on a stage in the center, they don’t want to be looked at as an anomaly. After founding guitarist/backing vocalist Ben Curtis left the band last year to more actively pursue his side-project School of Seven Bells, Garza and vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Brandon Curtis entered an existential crisis, complete with some label woes and resolving in the band’s return to rock. With new guitarist Phil Karnats fully onboard for the completion of their still as-yet-untitled new album due later this year, The Secret Machines plan to get back out in the open starting with a show at the Viper Room June 18.

Wide-Eyed: Being the drummer, what has it been like for you to have moved around the stage so much, from the back to the front and now to the back again? How does it impact how you interact with the audience? Josh Garza: It’s interesting. With the more straightforward set, I’m more toward the middle. I’m not all the way to the back; I’m kind of more where the drummer would be. It’s actually kind of interesting because I haven’t done it in such a long time. It’s actually, to me, new. I would hate to always be stuck in the same place for the rest of my career, which sort of happens to drummers. But I would have to say it’s probably been close to ten years since I set up the standard issue way, with the drummer in the middle, in the center, more toward the back. So to me there’s a newness to it that I kind of dig, but I know that I would probably not like to spend the rest of my career in that spot. WE: Did you shift around a lot onstage when you were playing your four-week residency at The Annex in New York last summer while you were also testing out some of your new songs? JG: Yeah, when we did The Annex shows it was kind of cool because we were limited by the stage size. There wasn’t much we could do. It wasn’t one of those deep stages, it was kind of narrow, so we tinkered around with the set up and it was actually really cool. It was fun because we were presenting these new songs and a new band member. For all intents and purposes it was all about us.

It was about ‘Hey, we’re trying to break in a new guy, we’re trying to learn these new songs, and we’re about to record them.’ We wanted to put on an entertaining show, which is at the top of the list, but at the same time we also needed to get our shit together so that we could record these songs. The Annex was really a part of that. WE: So doing those songs as a fourweek residency, how do you think that helped develop those new songs? JG: Well, it was like a pair of jeans – they actually feel better on you after a few months. With these songs it was not so much a matter of learning them but just playing them over and over again. Just playing and really having them become yours. Any band can rehearse forever, but there’s something different about playing in front of people that makes it real, that makes the songs take on a life of their own. With those shows we specifically did that for that reason. Because a lot of times when you record a song a year later you actually learn to play it and we didn’t want to do that. We’ve never been interested in that. A lot of these songs we wanted to play around with for a while and let them develop before we recorded them. So that was definitely part of that. WE: When you were working on the new album did you try to get a feel for where your fans were at, online or otherwise? JG: It was funny because I think it was the other way around. When Ben quit, that started this whole situation with us. So for

a year and a half it was just like, ‘ We’ve got to circle the wagons.’ And we didn’t really think about anything other than that. The one thought we did have was if we’re going to rally and we’re going to keep this band together and we’re going to make a record, we’ve got to make the kind of album that our fans are going to like. Because you don’t want your fans to be like, ‘ You lost a guitarist, it’s different, it sucks now, or it’s just not the same.’ We made a record where it’s like nobody is going to hear this and be like, ‘ Whoa, that’s a new guitarist.’ They’re going to be, ‘ Wow, this is fucking bad-ass Secret Machines.’ We’ve got to get back to why people fell in love with us. Like that first album, with just kind of bombastic rock. I think the fans will appreciate that because it’s back to basics. W E : W h en yo u wer e w ri t i n g t h e ne w s o ngs wa s i t j u s t yo u a nd B ra ndo n wo rk i ng to g e t h e r ? JG: Yeah, it was basically Brandon kind of doing the lyrics and melody more and both of us getting our hands on the song and arranging and Phil, the new guitarist, contributed quite a bit. He’s an active member of the band. We’re basically calling him an official new member. He contributed a bunch to the arrangements and he’s a wicked guitar player. It’s funny because a lot of people are going to be hearing that. It’s almost like we brought the guitar back. Instead of it becoming like this psychedelic tool in terms of the tone, it’s back to just like, it’s a guitar and you come up with a riff and you bang it out. It’s rock ‘n’ roll. It sounds cliché to say that, but this is a straight up rock ‘n’ roll record by us. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t bombastic and isn’t going to have psychedelic moments. It’s just that our approach was to keep it simple and do what we do best. Don’t try to do something, just do what you’re good at. WE: So did Phil record all the guitar p a r t s f o r t h e n e w a l b u m ? JG: Yeah, Phil was totally there for the whole process. He was there for the track-

ing, the mixing, the mastering, everything. It’s kind of weird because for us we never really stopped to take the time to say, ‘Oh yeah, hey, Phil is here now.’ But he is. He contributed and he was an active member. He actually helped keep the momentum of the band going because he was so into it. And that’s what happened. Ben was no longer interested in being in The Secret Machines and that kind of hurt the last year of The Secret Machines – him not wanting to do it and be the guitarist. He’s such a talented guy that just playing the guitar was boring. He’s so talented and could do so many things that he wasn’t interested in just being the guitar player. And me and Brandon are. I’m interested in just being the drummer. If somebody said, ‘ You’re the drummer.’ I’m like, ‘ Yeah, that’s it. I’m the drummer.’ {Laughs} And Phil was able to bring that attitude to the guitar again. He’s a guitar player. He loves it and he gets off on it and once you see us play you’ll recognize and see what I’m saying. It’ll come across a little clearer. WE: The band has described Now Here Is Nowhere as really capturing your beginning and what brought you together as a band, and Ten Silver Drops as capturing your spending so much time on tour and your life on the road. What part of the life of The Secret Machines would you say the new album captures? JG: This album captured a band at a moment in time where it was like, ‘Are we going to be a band anymore, or do we do something else or name it something else?’ And I think more so than any other record we’ve done, this album is the most honest. Warts and all, this is us. I think that’s why a lot of people did like our first record and I think that’s why a lot of people didn’t like the second one, because the second one was us saying, ‘ We just did that, we don’t want to repeat ourselves, so let’s try writing different types of songs and try different types of production and let’s work with this (concluded on page 31)


10

Flobots interview by William Case

Flobots are a new phenomenon with an old soul. Six shining artists with unique contributions, united to create a more brilliant whole. Melding vibrant, uplifting music, with a progressive, unifying message, Flobots represent much more than the latest iTunes hit, quietly speaking a loud truth in the way that proud, honest artists should. Before rocking the Hollywood & Highland Center on May 20th upon the release of Fight with Tools, Flobots met with Wide-Eyed at the Renaissance Hotel to share a few moments away from the brightening lights and blaring sounds of popularity. Like seizing a microphone overlooking a sea of wide eyes and open ears, Flobots proved fearless in grasping the opportunity to express their thoughts and share their tools of hope. Wide-Eyed: This has been a whirlwind jump into the mainstream music industry for you guys. You’re an indie hip-hop group from Denver doing a lot of local stuff in that area, and you just released your album Fight with Tools under Universal that includes the single “Handlebars” which has been a huge, huge single, with heavy radio rotation, and a huge number of iTunes downloads. Have you guys pinched yourselves yet? What does it feel like? Jesse Walker: It has happened really, really fast. I think faster than our heads can get around. But really our lives haven’t changed that much, yet. This past week has been a little bit different. We played some shows that were on a scale that is little bit larger than in the past. But really, up until this past week, we’ve just been living at home, living our lives. Andy Guerrero: And it’s more a world of numbers too. You hear all these stats, see all these charts, and all these things, and say, “Ok, I guess that’s good.” But it’s been really great that we get to release a record that we put together in our home town that we worked so hard on. We are just excited about the possibility of so many people getting to

hear our record. It’s really, really exciting. JW: That’s the big thing. This is a record that we recorded and produced independently, and we paid for ourselves. And now Universal is releasing it totally untouched. We are really proud of that. WE: Have you run into the occasion in this world of art and world of commerce, dealing with the ideals of social responsibility and being true to your art, and the forces of making a dollar and commodifying your art to an extent to really get it out there? Have you had to deal with that? Have you found that balance? What kind of sacrifices have you had to make? AG: Actually, working with Universal, our biggest thing was to get our art out there the way we did it, and they allowed us to do that. We wouldn’t have done it if we couldn’t put our music out the way that we wanted to do it. And to Universal’s credit, that’s pretty huge. So, yeah, it’s always a balance. We are a pretty community-oriented band, and so our biggest thing is to get our message and our goal out to as many people as possible. Universal allows us to do that. If we can get a few thousand people registered to vote, working with Rock the Vote and other

people all over the country, doing our work with our non-profit, and being able to share our music with so many people, I think we can accomplish both goals. And obviously we are making a living, so we’re able to accomplish both goals. It’s the best of both worlds. We are allowed to be full-time musicians and full-time activists at the same time, so it’s great. WE: So you can find a compromise, the possibility that both of those worlds can work together? Jonny 5: Yeah. And it seems that the country is even in that place politically, where a large majority of people actually agree on some things. So it’s not like an anti-war message is against the grain at this point. It feels like a phase where really the most important thing to do is to galvanize, organize, provide some structures, provide some leadership, or some kind of symbolic leadership. And that really does feel like that’s the fuel for what has been happening. People hear the song Handlebars and a large number of people get that there are these political undertones and gravitate towards it. Then once they hear the rest of the album they feel like, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve been feeling too for these past few years.’ There might be a time when we have to make some tough decisions to make. But so far, the opening has just kind of been there, and so we just sort of went with it. Now it’s like a whole lot of people in the country on the same team, so it’s like, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s win!’ WE: You guys seem to have a very strong sense of collective, a good sense of community, and that you are really support each other and pick each other up, that you really are stronger as a whole. What drives that? As individuals what pushes you to make that choice and commit to the whole? Brer Rabbit: A lot of everything that we are talking about, we try to model with ourselves

in order to avoid hypocrisy, in order to avoid being preachy. If we as a group can’t work together, then who are we to say that things would be better if we all worked together? So being able mediate, communicate, and talk about our issues with each other, and get to know each other and adjust to each other, and form a community within the band, we have a microcosm that we can then take to the macro. Then when we are talking about it we are actually backing up what we are talking about. WE: So in this way, would you say that generally there is a sense socially that we are moving towards a more progressive and collective way of being? With art imitating life, and life imitating art, is this something that just comes out or is this something that you guys are conscious of ? J5: I think it has been in the ethos since Sept. 11th. Really there were two very positive things that came out of Sept. 11th. One of them was the country uniting, for better or worse, whether it was uniting for war, or whatever it was, it was this sense of unity that we are still sort of drawing upon. And then too, is the idea that we are living in this world that is connected to other countries and that we have to pay attention to what is happening outside of our country. So I think that is something that comes out in the response to the song Rise, “Rise, together, we rise…” It’s only three words, but people seem to gravitate towards it. WE: And speaking on the state of the world, the state of politics in this election year, what are your feelings on state democracy in America? What are your feelings on the coming election? J5: Excited. There is a guy named Jim Wallace that says, “Real social change happens when there are real social movements pushing on open doors.” I think as individuals, we have pretty much all been supportive of Obama,


and the thought is that he really represents that open door. I don’t want to speak for everyone else, but I think that he could be that open door, though there has to be a social movement, and I think that a lot of people get that this election isn’t about getting one guy into the White House. It is about a whole lot of people waking up and taking action, and taking responsibility for the things that happen in our neighborhood, and the things that happen around the world. Accepting blame, maybe, and then taking some responsibility. BR: Democracy at its core needs to have a point where people have a bit of dissatisfaction and rage against the way of things are, regardless of which camp you are in. I think that dissatisfaction is actually a unifying factor and it’s waking people up, and people are more involved than they have ever been. That is incredibly exciting because democracy can’t happen without dialogue, and now folks are talking. That is just incredibly exciting.

Original Photos By Kim Zsebe [www.zbimages.com]

WE: Do you guys feel like going forward that this is part of your mission? In what capacity beyond music are you going to develop that? I know that you guys have your non-profit organization. Tell us about that. How did it start? AG: Flobots.org basically started with us wanting to be involved in the community. Jonny5 makes a great point when he says that being in a band you are physically on a platform, and in the public on this sort of social platform. We want to be positive influences and use that platform for good things, to promote change. Right now we have three things going with the non-profit. Over the past year we have been working on a variety of music projects at the Denver Children’s Home, which is a home for youth ages 8-18. We’ve been teaching them how to play guitar, music theory, and doing lyrics classes. We got an iMac with Garage Band and helping them to write raps, and things like that. And that has been really rewarding. Another project is partnering with the Colorado Press Coalition to register people to vote. Our goal is to get 2008 voters registered to vote. We’re getting there… I think we have over 700 people registered at our shows. The third is working with the Student Peace Alliance, and trying to get the word out on that. Now I think that we are going to focus on getting people registered to vote. Hopefully, we can do this through our Street Team and Flobots. org, where we talk about people using their tools to affect change in their community. We want to plug them in. We want them to go to a show and then get on our website and help

to plug them into to their community and get involved. We love Rage Against the Machine, one of the greatest bands ever, we love them, and their songs are true, but when you leave a show angry, what can you do? We want people to leave a Flobots show being able to go to our website, get involved in their local communities, and develop the tools to make changes. And so that’s what Flobots.org is all about. J5: Anyone reading this can sign up. We are looking for people to join our Street Team. And it’s not putting up Flobots posters – it’s voter registration and getting engaged in other community development projects. Right now people can sign up. The can go to Flobots.org and join Street Team. WE: In terms of your legacy in the music industry, you guys are a work in progress, as we all are, but where do you want to take this thing? How big can it get for you guys? Mackenzie Roberts: We’re going global, baby! {laughs} The most important thing for us is that we are getting the chance to do what we love, that we are able to get our message out there, and hopefully making an impact on some people - whatever scale that is on, I think we are happy. We would love to be able to play shows anywhere in the world, travel, and get it out there. BR: If we are talking about fantasy and ideals, I would love to see the entire music industry change back to where there is a community relationship with musicians, rather than one of commodification. The relationship that most bands have with their fans is, ‘ We offer this product, you pay for it, and at the end of the day we are both happy.’ But music wasn’t born out of that. It was usually in a response out of wedding ceremonies and rituals. It was a back and forth that was more satisfying. If somehow we can contribute to bringing that relationship back, if musicians were also gauging their success by how many lives they have touched, and by how many people find their music meaningful, that would be amazing. Because one of the things that we are doing with our non-profit is to give other bands the opportunity to join into this curriculum that we are trying to build, so that they too can use their platforms as musicians, to give there audience a chance to change in a way that they find meaningful. Because it is very easy for people to say, ‘Hey, you should be doing this.’ And that’s part of the problem, the structure of everyone telling everyone else what to do. But if it’s something else like, ‘Hey, here is an opportunity. This myth of American apathy is not real. You guys just don’t know how to help, but you want to.’ And if there were more and more bands just

offering a little ray into ways that people can be effective, it would be a revolution in the true sense of the word, and not the word that is used to sell soda pops and concerts. WE: And so talking about this paradigm shift in our minds and our hearts… BR: Yeah. Let’s use paradigm shift, because the word revolution has just become almost meaningless. AG: When we started this, before Universal and all this happened on the radio, this is what we wanted to do. We would have been happy getting to play for 500 people a night, tour the country, meeting people, and doing our thing with the non-profit. J5: That is a really good point. Universal has just been like a turbo-boost in the direction we were already going, in every category. We were already planning to tour as much as possible, we were already setting up the non-profit thinking that we would be the staff and that would be our day job, and we tried to integrate the two. Everything we are doing now, we were already planning on doing, including promoting this album. The label has just been a sort of turbo-boost, accelerating everything. AG: And to reach more people. Going back to people getting involved and activated, and for me especially, realizing that there are little things that you can do in your own neighborhood. Being a good activist doesn’t necessarily mean going to The Capitol or going to a picket, it means trying to be a better person, or helping the person down the street from you. Sometimes people think that it is so overwhelming, and that the social problems are too big, but maybe they hear our music, maybe get a little bit hope, and then maybe take a small step. Your community can be the people on your block. You can start small, and then build up from there. And that’s what I have learned from being friends with these people and making music with them. WE: Don’t you get the sense that more and more people are taking it upon themselves to make these little steps? And then collectively all of a sudden we see these people are taking these steps together? Then before you know it, real change and real progress? AG: I feel our music is a good example of that. Our song Handlebars is kind of a weird song, and people all over the country are calling radio stations asking to hear it. Maybe it starts getting stuck in their head, and then they maybe see that there is a deeper meaning to the song. And then they start to hear a few more of our songs. I feel like it is something that people identify with.

WE: How does it feel to turn on the radio and hear your music? MR: It’s awesome. It is really weird away from Denver. Our family and friends are there, so for that to happen at home, it feels fairly normal. But when we come to a place like Los Angeles, and the song is all over KROQ, and people are screaming our names and singing all of the words to Handlebars, it’s kind of a trip. It’s kind of unexpected, and when it happens we are really aware of the impact on people. And that is amazing. Kenny Ortiz: And it’s great too that the fans that we have feel it, no matter what level they relate to it. Whether they like the music, or like the message and what we talk about. However they are getting it, whatever they like about the music, we are reaching them somehow. And that is the most enjoyable thing for me and us as a band. We are connecting with them, whether they like Andy’s guitar playing, or the message that our emcees are speaking on. It’s exciting. WE: Last question, for each of you individually: You’re going into a fight with just one tool. You get one tool for the fight. What is it? KO: The brain. BR: Compassion. MR: You totally stole mine! All: {laughs} BR: I felt it. Empathy, compassion, telepathy, it’s all the same thing. MR: A hammer. {laughs} No… Compassion, because that’s what I think so many people are lacking these days in some ways. We don’t think of other people as being people, they are just other units moving around in our airspace. AG: Enthusiasm - just trying to get people riled up and excited to do something. I think that is my tool, enthusiasm. JW: Compassion is important, but also, self– assurance, and the courage to have that selfassurance to carry through. J5: A pencil.

For a live performance that jumpstarts the heart, get a feel for Flobots at Troubadour in West Hollywood on June 8th, 2008. Then visit [www.flobots.org] to activate your self in your world. On the willingness roll with no handlebars, communicate without fear, and commit to a greater creation for one and all, join Flobots in the search for balance in art and life.

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12

By: Emilee Petersmark There is something to be said for the continued suffering and turmoil of presentday Africa—Seun Kuti of Nigeria, son of legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, has erected himself as Africa’s mouthpiece, voicing the country in powerful bilingual verse and moving, orchestrated melodies. Leading his father’s band, Egypt 80, Kuti uses funk fused with African percussion and vocals to paint a picture that defames many African leaders for their negligence and dishonesty. His songs, which follow in the footsteps of his father’s—filled with the corruption, ignorance, woe, sadness, pollution and the many other ills that ravage contemporary Africa—are veritable musical treasures, flamboyant jubilatory songs that teach as well as entertain. Many believe that Kuti’s songs, like those of his father, are akin to “the most beautiful flowers growing out of manure,” gems of musical and political importance blooming from the shit that has overtaken and despoiled their homeland.

From a young age, Kuti had been engrossed in the iconic sounds of Afrobeat, a style of music that would eventually act as the conduit of his messages. At eight years of age, Kuti was the mascot for his father’s orchestra (previously named Egypt 70 to honor the history of black Africans originating from Pharaonic civilization). It was a way for him to be close with his parents while Egypt 80 toured—his father was the band leader and his mother danced and sang in the chorus. Young Kuti would often find himself backstage watching his parents perform, watching his father sing and thinking to himself, “I want to sing too.” Fela laughed and let him try anyway, with much success. From that moment on, Suen was a permanent fixture in the orchestra, taking control after his father’s death in 1997 at the age of fifteen. The orchestra itself is legendary in the true sense of the word, considered Africa’s equivalent of what the world-renowned

Duke Ellington’s jungle music did for the Afro-American Diaspora, boasting some remarkable resemblances in instrumentation. The orchestra is said to embody the major aspect that has been lost in popular music—endurance. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 are more than just an orchestra, they’re a musical family who deserve enormous respect for having stayed united so long, especially since the last years of Fela and those that followed, were so hard. This cohesion and longevity alone explains the absolutely terrifying precision of the rhythmic reflexes down to the thousandth

of a second that makes their ultra-syncopated polyphony the perfect ‘swing’ model. It could seem passé to use a word like ‘swing,’ but it’s difficult to find a better way to characterise Afrobeat at this level of expression. The Kuti family not only draws inspiration from Afrobeat, but also from the adapted jazz style that has been established as the direct ancestor of Afrobeat from the 30’s and 40’s, dubbed “highlife,” making the most of this long musical tradition. Fela’s Afrobeat was a pungent blend of funk and jazz with an African sensibility, reminiscent of James Brown but grittier, nastier


and vaguely unsettling, like fermenting fruit. With Seun, Egypt 80 seem as explosive as they were under Fela, combining horns, keyboards, percussion, guitars and vocals in a sophisticated and overpowering blend that is at times discordant but always insistent. Egypt 80 has been established for more than 20 years, bringing the big dance orchestral influences from the likes of Fletcher Henderson, James Brown and Sun Ra, Count Basi and Lionel Hampton to the groove/funk feel of Seun Kuti’s music. Despite the similarities between Seun Kuti and Fela Kuti, and despite the fact that two thirds of the orchestra’s members had remained from during Fela’s leadership, under Kuti’s direction the orchestra has become more than just a clone of his father’s. Performance-wise, it is a similar sight—crazy, frenetic stage presence must be hereditary.

Kuti’s musical prowess is largely due to his natural talent—he briefly studied music, as his father had long ago, in England. However, Kuti does not consider himself a virtuoso saxophonist, he understands that the clinical details are not what counts in the music he performs. Instead, he focuses on perpetuating the longevity of his father’s music, Afrobeat, mixing ideas, words, melody and percussion with an obvious passion for his work. His musicians, however, are the finest of their kind—bassist Kayode Kuti (no relation to Seun), drummer Ajayi Adebiyi, and guitarists David Obanyedo and Alade Oluwagbemiga work together to form an unmatchable rhythm section that works

but it is his compelling vocals and driving lyrics that define him as a musician. The Yoruba people have always maintained a particular esteem for the youngest family member, and it’s no different for Seun Kuti, the third son to be recognized by Fela Kuti. His father did well to pass on his beloved orchestra to his youngest—Suen has done a spectacular job continuing his father’s music and message. In contrast, his half- brother, Femi Kuti, also a musician, works hard to differentiate himself from his famous father’s image. In live performances, Kuti pays homage to the late Fela Kuti by playing several of his songs, including “Suffering and Smiling,” in which Seun deftly performs his father’s sax solos with little quirks, flourishes and runs of

Kuti is a charismatic figure onstage, channeling much of his father’s enthusiasm and energy and inheriting his commanding stage presence. “Once you’ve met me, you can’t forget me,” Kuti has been known to say. “I’m crazy. It’s just the way I am. My father was too.” He’s a treat to see live, and had made several triumphant tours before Many Things was recorded, charming audiences all over Africa and spreading his truth as far as his voice could possibly reach.

Since adopting the Egypt 80 as his own, Kuti has produced two albums—his first, entitled Think Africa, was a 12” record that was released in 2007. His second and most prolific album to date is called Many Things and was released as a CD in 2008. This album propagates the grave message of corruption, ignorance, and coldness demonstrated by the Kuti family’s sworn enemy, President Obasarjo. Many of the songs he performs pillory by naming Nigeria’s current president.

Last summer, Kuti completed his first American tour to support his newest album with only marginal difficulty—at the very least, he and his band certainly made an impression on the American public. The musicians of Egypt 80 had some issues acquiring visas. Said visas were received only after presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, intervened. Upon arriving in Chicago, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 made sure that their first concert in the United States was something wildly memorable— the concert practically became a riot as hundreds of spectators rushed the stage, leaping onstage to join the musicians and singing along with Kuti with loud, excited voices, much to the chagrin of the security services. Even the festival organizer claimed that Kuti’s electrifying performance and the crowd’s raucous, bracing response made the concert one of the best of his life.

The title track off of Kuti’s most recent release is considered a satirical song, beginning with a well-chosen extract of a recorded speech by Obasanjo, summarizing his dotted 30 years in power, explaining how they build magnificent bridges but the people underneath them still had to drink the water into which they piss. Apart from the erotic “Fire Dance,” Many Things is a ravaging pamphlet against corruption and carelessness of African leaders. Each song is a powerful movement towards change and the voice of the people, bringing exposure to the crimes of the African government and ending with a harsh cry for revolution. Kuti’s family roots have been entwined with Obasarjo for over 30 years—when Obasarjo became president in 1977 following a military coup, he had already organized a murderous assault with over 1,000 armed men on the residence of Seun’s father, dubbed “The Independent Republick of Kalakuta”—this is the area where Seun Kuti and the musicians of Egypt 80 still reside today. Seun’s grandmother, Funmilayo, Nigeria’s most important human rights and feminist activist, was murdered by Obasarjo’s troops. These deep strains of long-harbored antagonism toward Obasarjo are revealed without rage or violence in Kuti’s music, but it is obvious that President Obasarjo’s terrible and appalling actions are a large part of Kuti’s inspiration for the commanding musical messages compiled in both Many Things and Think Africa. But Kuti’s anti- Obasarjo messages have many facets. Having recently joined Youssou N’Dour in a major project fighting against malaria, Kuti uses “Mosquito Song” to explain how the government’s negligence in teaching the importance of hygiene is responsible for the effects of this plague that kills more people than AIDS.

Seun’s name (pronounced “Shehoun”) is 13 an abbreviation from his Yoruban name, ‘Oluseun,’ which translates to “God has done great things.” It is an appropriate title, for Kuti’s music has certainly caused quite a stir within its listeners—no doubt Kuti’s powerful message will someday accomplish the change it clamors for. It’s already clear that Seun’s name and music resonate with a new generation of Nigerians, many of whom are too young to remember his father’s heyday. Ironically, ‘Seun’ is also President Obasarjo’s first name, further braiding the two men together with similarity and opposition. Kuti has also adopted his father’s second Yarouba name, ‘Anikulapo,’ which means “I’ve got death in my quiver.” In other words, his songs have a purpose, a target he aims to destroy—the corrupt, bribers, and oppressors.

as an arresting, unrelenting machine. Egypt 80’s brass section is blessed to have Emmanuel Kunnuji and Olugbade Okunade on trumpet—their remarkable solo performances on “Many Things” and “Mosquito Song” off of Many Things add a whole new level of power to Kuti’s music. Veteran musician Lekan Animasahun— nicknamed Baba Ani—has relinquished his lead bari-sax to the excellent Adedimeji Fagbemi—who goes by the name of Showboy and also plays the role of MC for Egypt 80—as the instrument had become too heavy for the seventy-year-old. Baba has now taken to playing the keyboards for the orchestra but remains a musical director. Kuti lends his saxophone to the music, often taking lead on many songs,

his own. “If I’m in my father’s shadow then it doesn’t trouble me to be,” he says. “If that’s all I can get, it’s a very good place to be. He was a very great man. But of course every artist wants to define themselves.” Seun hopes to offer his listeners a slightly different message from his father’s. “I want to make Afrobeat for my generation. Instead of ‘get up and fight,’ it’s going to be ‘get up and think’.” Suen’s energetic, booming voice is reminiscent of his fathers but it is clear that his own raging rhythm has been influenced by rap. When asked, Kuti cites Chuck D, Dr. Dre, and Eminem among his musical heroes, demonstrating that despite his love of 70’s style funk he also has a taste for the contemporary.

“ You gave me your mud and I made it into gold”—this famous Baudelair quote is a favorite motto of the Kuti family, employed by father and son alike, for it describes how music inspired by the trials and misfortunes of their beloved Africa is a precious entity, a gift that demonstrates the power held in the hands of the country’s people, not its government. Seun Kuti speaks not only to the followers of his father, but also to the next generation already disenchanted with the dark horrors of Africa. It can’t be easy to be a leader to the teeming, aggressive and often undisciplined legions of Nigeria’s youth. But maybe Seun Kuti is one man for the job. Accompanied by both his father’s band, the activist and groovewriter no doubt has a lengthy career ahead of him—you would be well-advised to keep a close watch on his progress. It’s a guarantee that he’ll give you something epic to watch for.


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Dogfish Head An Interview with founder Sam Calagione

Sam Calagione interview by Wes Eaton

Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery talks about his sense of purpose In 1993 Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery based in Milton, Delaware, home brewed his first batch of beer out on the East Coast. The local craft beer scene at the time was limited and underground; Calagione was about to change that. He took a look around, checked to see which way the mass beer trends were flowing, and decided to swim upstream. No light lagers for Dogfish; instead, Calagione opted for candied fruits, old world spices, continuous hopping regiments and parameter shattering abv’s to distinguish his creations. Two years after his first batch, Calagione opened Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats. Back then he brewed ten gallon batches, now he puts up 100 barrels each brew session. This spring Dogfish invaded California with this mighty three beer line-up: 90 Minute IPA (9% abv), a continuously hopped Imperial I.P.A., Midas Touch (9% abv), an anciently inspired honey, saffron, Muscat grape and barley based elixir designed to please both beer geeks and Chardonnay drinkers alike, and Palo Santo Marron (12% abv), a strong Brown Ale aged in massive and moneyed Paraguayan wooden vats. Currently he’s been touring the nation speaking about his latest of three books He Said Beer, She Said Wine. As you’ll find out below, Calagione’s Yankee ingenuity and rugged individualism epitomizes America’s artisan food and craft brewing culture.

WE: How do you think your distinct beers will be accepted here in California? SC: It actually helps us that the wine culture is so evolved on the West Coast because our beers are very wine like in their flavor profiles, alcohol content and their food compatibility. WE: You’re known to many as a poet, builder, brewer, filmmaker and writer – was brewing the key to the actualization of your passions? How do you define yourself? SC: I’m the brewer first; the rest of the stuff is just hobbies. I mean for me they all kind of augment the making and the selling of beer. I write the books as educational programs and components which teach people how to brew and get comfortable with drinking beers that have non-traditional ingredients. I try to teach people just what Dogfish is, that’s sort of what the first book is about (Brewing Up a Business), and then He Said Beer She Said Wine is all about making wine people comfortable appreciating and understanding good beer in the context of food and beer people understand wine in the context of food.

Wide Eyed: Would you give us some back story to your experimentation with non-traditional ingredients with some culinary insight? Sam Calagione: Sure. When we opened in 1995 we were the smallest commercial brewery in America. At that time there were 800 US breweries. I researched what I wanted to do, I was just kind of a maniacally obsessed home brewer and back in my apartment in Manhattan I was creating beers while I was writing my business plan. I was always trying to make beers like nothing that was out there. Then, just as now, the domestic beer landscape was dominated by three breweries: Miller, Coors and Bud, and they’re all essentially making very slight variations of the exact same product: a light lager beer. So I knew from the get-go I had no interest in brewing those kinds of beers. That’s when the concept of off-centered ales for off-centered people came about. Basically, we’re never going to appeal to the majority of people out there, so let’s just have fun and brew for ourselves, and hopefully there’ll be a growing community of hard-core beer folk that want to explore the outer-limit of what beer can be. We opened our restaurant with a tiny, inefficient, ten gallon brewery, and we had to brew two, three times a day, that small scale allowed me to experiment without too much risk. I’d go into the kitchen of the restaurant and take some coffee or raisins or licorice root and incorporate them into that day’s brew. Our reputation for brewing exotic brews came from those humble beginnings. WE: Talk about the relationship between wine and beer. What do you want people new to this cross-roads in alcoholic beverages to understand? SC: Wine culture is further evolved than beer culture in America. The average consumer understands that an amazing bottle of Merlot can justifiably cost three times as much as a crappy bottle. That same consumer is

just now beginning to understand that an amazing four-pack of wood-aged, 12% abv beer fermented with organic brown sugar, as is the case with Palo Santo Marron, can still be a great value at three times the price of a six-pack of generic lager. The West Coast is recognized as the premier wine region in America and the average consumer in that region is more open to the idea of approaching beer with the same respect.

WE: I read Raison D’Etre was designed as a beverage that would be the ultimate complement to a steak dinner. Is food pairing always this important at Dogfish? SC: Yeah. Right from the beginning we knew that we were going to be brewing beers that were a lot closer to wine in alcohol content, complexity and food compatibility. The best way to highlight

that was to pay careful attention to what foods we recommended pairing with each of these beers. Since we opened as a restaurant brewery, we also had the ability to feature on our menu the idea that for every great food item there is a perfect beer match. A lot of times, like in the case of the Raison D’Etre, we were actually designing beers backwards from what would be the ideal partner in the food world. WE: Beyond beer, Dogfish distills distinct spirits which stress the definition even of “Extreme Beer.” Are these natural evolutions of continued fermentation exploration or intentional directions for Dogfish? SC: We use our mission statement as a dynamic compass. If you pull out the word “ale” and put in “distilled spirits” it still rings true. We’re not doing what the big distilleries do; we’re following our own path as we do in our brewery. In the case of a distillery product like our Brown Honey Rum, aged on honey while it sits in oak, which is very unique, it’s perfectly in keeping with our vision. Our distillery is 1/1000th the size of our brewery, but it’s still a fun little project that we think adds vibrancy to what Dogfish Head is all about. WE: Dogfish is also known for its historical and ancient ales like Midas Touch and Chateau Jiahu, talk about these experiences and recipes. SC: Certainly the majority of our recipes come from our own inspiration, we think about which unique ingredients will work in a beer that have never been used before. But we sort of stumbled into being this specialty brewery for ancient beverages, and that’s right up our alley. (Ancient recipe beers) are like liquid time capsules. They allow people to come faceto-face with the history of civilization, not just the history of fermented beverages. In the case of our Chateau Jiahu, it’s got a 9,000 year pedigree and is recognized as the oldest known fermented beverage. This also silences the naysayers about t h e va l i d i t y o f “e x t r e m e b r e w i n g ” because it shows that at the beginning of civilization people were making really exotic, multi-fermentation sugar source beverages to celebrate special occasions. Therefore, Chateau Jiahu has sake yeast, sake rice, and hawthorn fruit. Midas Touch has honey, grapes and saffron. We’re doing another ancient ale with the oldest known chocolate discovered in Central America. Before humans were eating chocolate they were drinking it as a fermented beverage. The beer (called Theo Broma) therefore has Chilean cocoa nibs, cocoa powder and tree seeds and is coming out in August. As for California, our goal is to begin selling the breadth of our portfolio there in 2009, which coincides with when we will have more brewing capacity online to allocate and a full-time West Coast sales manager.


16

Hip Hop Chocolate Marcus Gray interview By Benjamin Hunter Wide-Eyed: Could you fill us in with a bit of history, a back drop to give us the essence of Hip Hop Chocolates. Marcus Gray: First, my intention with chocolate was to create a sacred food for the culture. I’m a student, a long time student of art and theology, and culture. A student of the idea of culture. I am really inspired by the idea that culture is evolving and can evolve, and can remain undefined or can be completely defined, I’m a nerd {laughs}. After September 11th, I was really disturbed by the idea that the media had the power to define terrorism, had the power to point their finger and say “This person is a terrorist” or “This is what a terrorist is.” I saw it as a culture of them (the media) using their power to lynch people spiritually. I wanted to take a symbol of terrorism and make it edible. So what I did was, I heard that they (the terrorists) used box cutters to highjack planes, and I don’t believe any of that shit anymore, there are conspiracies to decide, so I made a chocolate box cutter. IT was a hit in the underground, I showed it to a friend of mine who owned the Anti-Market in Echo Park and he put it in his store and the first one he sold was to a comedian that used it in his play about September 11th. He actually ate the chocolate and it was a great beginning because that is exactly what I had wanted it to exist for, I wanted it to be consumed. After that I started thinking about other symbols that could be used as a metaphor and hip hop was the first thing. Obviously chocolate and hip hop are related somehow and I saw how this could be used, just having a symbol, and an aspect of the culture and having an opportunity to put that inside your body can give that person a deliberate spiritual experience. You can choose to have a relationship with the culture almost instantly by eating a symbol. At least that is how I was thinking about it. It is kind of psychedelic. WE: It’s ritualistic. MG: Yeah. Having a Native American background, and being interested in the culture or just studying religion and the idea of the Catholic communion. Just communion period, infusing a symbol with your intention and then eating it. So this was my gift to the culture, and I hope to at least start a dialog in the culture about how we are affecting hip hop. You are not going to give a tainted piece of chocolate to your little boy or little girl, you (hip hop artists) should really think about how you are personally effecting the culture and then love it and then pass it on. WE: Can we be friends? You are spot on man. MG: I think this is how we should be creating art. WE: You grew up in Colorado. What was the first medium that you got your hands on? Can you recall when you

began creating art or some of the things that were influencing you growing up? MG: I can’t remember the beginning. I was always interested in creating and destroying shit, like most kids growing up especially in hip hop. So I gravitated towards skateboarding and trying to kill myself on a skateboard. I think that culture (skateboarding) is so popular and prevalent with youth, because they are initiating themselves into adulthood in some way, so that was me. I was actually one of five black kids in high school, so I grew up listening to Fugazi, DRI, and Day Glow Abortion {laughs}. I think I heard hip hop for the first time when I was in high school, I heard Low End Theory and Tribe Called Quest when I was like a freshman. Before that it was Anthrax and jazz. My dad listened to jazz, Keith Jarrett and my mom was into funk. I had a unique background, my mom was actually in a biker gang for most of my life.

school because of that. I was able to make it up. She got married and turned into a Christian housewife. I guess that kind of accounts for who I am today. The extremes have lead me always to try to create some kind of harmony, since I was young I have always been interested in the nature of reality {laughs}. Plain and simple, I have always been interested in what the hell is going on. So I was really drawn to religion and mythology, magic and occult studies. So first year I went to the Colorado Art Institute and got my associates degree there.

She was in a biker gang that came from St. Louis and was running from the FBI, because they thought she was Angela Davis {laughs}. I want to write a story about it.

opportunity to study theology in Boston and I went out there when I was 21, I was there six years. Man, I couldn’t make it through that either, because after studying to much religion and belief systems you see that we can create our own belief systems. Anton Wilson, who is a writer, kind of in the vein of Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna, he calls belief systems BS. A lot of intellectuals believe that culture is the problem, culture is what keeps us away from each other but we have to go through culture to create a new paradigm which I believe we are in the middle of right now. I consciously and unconsciously want to embody that in the way I carry myself and the way that I dress. I don’t like the idea that someone could point at me and be like “this is where he is

WE: If you could do an abridged narrative for Wide-Eyed, I’d publish it. That is very interesting. MG: It’s really bizarre to me that they thought it was true. They (FBI) thought my mom was Angela Davis {laughs}. She had a big red afro, running with sixteen dude bikers, and they followed her to Colorado and because of that we really couldn’t stay in one place. So it was me and my half sister on the back of a motorcycle sleeping under pool tables for most of young childhood. I think that I missed my first year of grade

WE: In sculpture? MG: No, I was in the Film and Video program, I wanted to be a director and writing was my first love. I was writing screenplays and short stories and then, I don’t know, something clicked and I just wanted to run away to India and become a Sadu and smoke hash and grow my hair. So instead I had an

from and this is who he is,” because I don’t like to do that to other people. There is no reason to assume anything. So yeah after studying religion, I had a few epiphanies to say the least, I narrowly escaped the mental hospital and then I came to LA to work on a film that a friend of mine was doing. I have been here ever since, I’ve been doing the chocolates for two years now. I have had to put aside the art part and really pick up the business side, I still have a long way to go, learning about the FDA and trademarks, so this is a novelty if anybody asks, you’re not yet supposed to eat it. WE: So you are in the works for getting your patents and trademarks? MG: Yeah and it’s a lot of work. You have to be on the phone with your lawyer, and you’re like, I don’t want to spend more money, but when you have to, you have to. So I have been working on the business side more and collaborating with different artists, which has been my new epiphany, any artist I meet within the culture, I want to collaborate with them. Most artists are used to working independently whether it is music or visual art, especially nowadays there is not as much currency going around, few people get those million dollar music contracts anymore, there is not much room for Andy Worhols and Banksys these days, or overnight sensations in the art community. So I feel like as a community, through association, collaboration and solidarity, its the only way that anybody can be seen. To have a voice and be associated with others, like doing this interview. The little that I read about you guys and just knowing that you were interested in Saul (Williams), I was like, I have to work with you guys, that is what you are associated with, it’s like the chocolates. You are attached to that intention, and as a mystic that’s what creates the path for abundance, because I don’t want to be associated with anything negative. So I have been doing collaborations. This (holding a sculpture of graffiti spray can) is a collaboration that I have done with this guy Thomas the Messenger, he is an amazing sculptor. Man he has a story of his own you should speak with him. He actually went to Pratt Institute in New York. So prolific, yet lives on the floor of this lady’s kitchen floor in South Central right now, and he is getting evicted today so he is moving in with me. He made my large format hip hop chocolates sign. He used to go back and forth from Long Beach on the train and give art lessons to the kids. He would set up and give them crayons and paper and put on a class. There are so many artists like that, who are struggling .


Photo by Tom Brooks


21 BY: COREY ANTON

BY: COREY ANTON

The words you are reading right now, where

Who could have imagined that something

are they? You might be tempted to say that they are on the paper you’re holding. True enough in some sense. But if you think more about it, this seems less and less the case, for to read words you have to say them in some way. Whether aloud or even just silently in your head, to say them is to make them come to life. And here, we need to careful, for the living word, the spoken word, is thoroughly invisible. You cannot see spoken words at all; they have no surfaces and they cannot be held in the hands. So again, we may want to ask: where are the words that you are speaking as you read this? Are they in your head? Maybe you could read this aloud to some friends and ask them: “Are the words ‘in my mouth?’ ‘In the air?’ ‘In your ears?’” Even if we say all three, we still might miss the real point of the question: where are the words? A media ecologist would likely tell you that actual words, real words, spoken living ones, are never merely things found within an environment. They comprise the very environment in which we find ourselves. Words surround and engulf us, and they can be set in a kind of relief only momentarily. Never mere figures against a background, living words are themselves a continuous backgrounding. They do not happen within situations as much make situations possible; situations can be what they are only because of words. That’s why the expression, “we were in a conversation” makes good sense. Whenever we find ourselves, we always already find ourselves within the situations that words make possible. Moreover, the same logic applies to all dominant communication media. All such media may have started as technologies designed to control some aspect of the world, but soon enough, they shifted from figure to background and became the largely invisible environment that now mediates us. Books, for example, are not so much objects within our environment as they are the means by which we have come to live inside literate cultures. Watches are not mere objects resting within an already existing sense of time; we are able to find ourselves within the temporally synchronized environments that watches make possible. Your computer is not an object in your environment; you are in your computer’s environment. The microscope, telescope, mirror, radio, television, and other communication technologies, Neil Postman would suggest, have not simply added something to the human world; they have changed both it and us.

These ideas help to clarify why Marshall McLuhan would say: “media content is like the meat a burglar brings to distract your intellectual dogs while he’s robbing your house.” This is one of the less well-known meanings of his celebrated probe: “the medium is the message.” He makes this point more dialectically where he suggests that: ‘Man is an extension of nature that remakes the nature that makes the man,’ which basically means, as he elsewhere states, “the user is the content of any medium.” The study and application of this important dynamic, the mediation whereby communication mediums become environments that then mediate us, has come to be known as “Media Ecology.” And, as fortune would have it for those who want to learn more, the Media Ecology Association (MEA), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the study, research, criticism, and application of media ecology in educational, industrial, political, civic, social, cultural, and artistic contexts, will be in California for its Ninth Annual Conference, hosted this year by Santa Clara University, June 19th—22nd. This year’s conference theme, largely inspired by the writings of Jesuit priest and humanities scholar Walter J. Ong, is “Communication, Technology, and the Sacred,” and many of the panelists and participants gathered will consider how spoken and mediated word and image impact and alter our experiences of the sacred. Featured speakers include: Fritjof Capra, Leonard Shlain, Frank E. X. Dance, Lynn Clark, and Joshua Meyrowitz. The conference will also bring together media scholars, artists, historians, social activists, general semanticists, environmental designers, and many others to explore how media shape, alter, and impact our personal, social, and political lives. The convention not only recognizes scholarly achievement, it also advances lines of media activism and promotes public intellectual activity. Unlike so many scholarly conferences where overly academic specialists are sealed in their area of expertise, the Media Ecology Association’s annual convention is always refreshingly broad-based, interactive, entertaining, and filled with countless thought-provoking discussions. This is a great group. Get involved today.

On

the

Three-

Associate Professor of Communication Grand Valley State University Editor of Explorations in Media Ecology

It was the telegraph that grabbed hold of clocks and turned them into watches. The telegraph transformed time and took people to a new level of social/temporal regimentation. It was basically the telegraph that turned the clock into a despot. When the telegraph hit, clocks became synchronized to each another, and time-zones were invented. The newly invented time-zones were a response to the telegraph not only because telegraph-coordinated timetables helped keep trains from crashing, but because with the telegraph, the “other than here” was no longer the “other than now.” Consider how the time-zones offered a more objective and yet less accurate measure of time: two people can be in the

Armed

Corey Anton Phd.

Obviously, time-keeping systems can be found throughout history: sundials, water clocks, attention to shadows and to the movements of stars. All of these were quite accurate, though they remained geographically local, and are by today’s standards extremely subjective. The mechanical clock was invented in Italy during the thirteenth century and this was a radical breakthrough. It instituted considerable regularity in people’s lives and communities. But the first mechanical clocks were still much less imposing. They were located in public squares, and they had a handless face and a bell that was used so people could hear what time it was. Only slowly and gradually did the face at first gain an hour hand that people could see, and then a minute one, and then finally a skinny little arm to display seconds. In fact, the first reliable minute and second hand do not appear until the seventeenth century. But if the development of clocks and watches had stopped there, none of this would have been all that problematic.

Despot

Media

Ecologists

Unite:

Santa

Clara,

June

19 - 22

To learn more about the media ecology tradition, the MEA, or the up-coming convention in Santa Clara, go to www. media-ecology.org. I hope to see you there!

utterly invisible could be so oppressive? Did you know that one of the most tyrannical inventions in Western history isn’t but 150 years old? What am I talking about? That crazy little thing called “the minute” and its stepchild “the second.” Seriously, the minute and the second are highly modern inventions, things unknown throughout the vast majority of human history. In a word, modern folks have been more and more subject to the minute and the second, and have been more and more tightly scheduled and synchronized than most people who have lived on the planet. Anyone who wants to understand the impetus to the ultra-modern “digital age” might therefore begin by considering the invention of the “three-armed despot.”

same time zone though they are at a greater distance apart than two people who happen to be in different time zones but who may be just a few miles away from each other. Even more significantly, when the telegraph was invented and clocks became synchronized to each other, a new notion of “work-time” spread across the country. Work-time previously meant “the time that workers worked” but it soon came to mean “the precise time that one had to be at work.” In these early days of synchronization, many industry leaders argued that increased regimentation in the workplace would lead to greater and greater leisure outside it. By submitting to a temporal schedule and wearing a watch to ensure punctuality, workers would supposedly enjoy an increased amount of “free-time.” What actually happened was something very different; many of the mass entertainments outside of the workplace became just as scheduled and time-bound as the workplace had become. For example, people needed to be at movie theatres or in front of their TV sets at precise times if they were to catch their shows. So, why is the telegraph so important to the clock and hence the digital age? Well, because the digital age is the world of 24-7; it’s the world where everything is always already available. People in the virtual world, the digital world, no longer need to try to synchronize down to the minute or second; at digital speeds, time is used less as a means of synchronizing and becomes more a record of the past. As always already there, the digital world offers increasing opportunities for asynchronous forms of interaction. The digital age therefore appears to be a yearning for a time that is one’s own, a time that is less scheduled, a time that is less despotic. The clash of the cultures that we see all around us is between “the mechanical age,” where people and objects must move around through space, and “the digital age” where distances in space and time collapse and the needs for synchronizing wane. But until scientists develop teleporters and food replicators, there will be a need to synchronize bodies in space and time as well as to distribute perishables across great distances. Material objects and bodies will therefore always, to some degree, be subject to the demands of synchronization. The question is: for how much longer will people be able to tolerate life synchronized down to the second? For more on “Clocks, Synchronization, and the Fate of Leisure” come to the MEA conference in Santa Clara this month, or look for Sharon Kleinman’s forthcoming edited book, The Culture of Efficiency.


22

The CrEative Power of Media Ecology BY: LANCE STRATE

C hances

are , you ’ re reading this alone .

Even if there are other people nearby, I doubt they are reading this along with you. Even if they happen to be looking over your shoulder, they aren’t reading the same words at the exact same time as you are. Reading is an alienating experience, turning us into individuals. Speaking, on the other hand, brings us together in the simultaneity of sound, and physical presence. Speech immediately places us in a relationship, makes us kin, forges tribal bonds. The reader is an isolated individual, the audience a collective, a group united by the experience of listening.

bypassing the physical, and reading my mind, thinking my thoughts, or rather, thinking thoughts that I once had, and set down in writing.

different from the impersonal technology of print. And the printed page is fundamentally different from text appearing on your computer screen.

Of course, to me, you are even less real, a barely imagined fantasy, a glimmer of a possibility, an abstract and generalized other. I jot these words down on a pad, addressed to no one in particular. By the time you read this, these words will have been typed into my computer, revised, sent on to the editor, edited and copy-edited, put into page layout, proofed, reproduced, and distributed.

A picture is not worth a thousand words, contrary to popular wisdom, as Susanne K. Langer has shown us. Pictures may serve as evidence, but they cannot present arguments. They do not make statements, unless we add a caption or interpretation. They can be faked, but they are neither true nor false, they just are. As Neil Postman argued, the reason why the Second Commandment forbids the use of all imagery is that it represents an attempt to change the way people think and view the world, from one rooted in imagery and the concrete, to a more abstract and literate approach that open the door to monotheism and ethics.

In speech, we are joined in the moment, which is fleeting. As Walter Ong said, “sound only exists as it is going out of existence.” Writing fixes words in a permanent form, material and visual, so that I can communicate to you from a distance, and a time now past.

By the time you read these words, the me that wrote them will be gone, replaced by a slightly older version of myself, and I myself will read them as if they were written by a stranger—as Eric Havelock put it, “writing separates the knower from the known.” By the time you read these words, I may not even be alive. But through these words, a trace of me can live on.

And as for me, I am little more than a figment of your imagination. I am not present for you, nor can you see or hear me. In reading this, you are essentially

The written word, independent of the specific content or uses it is put to, is fundamentally different from speech. And a handwritten document is fundamentally

Every medium has its own bias, influencing how and what we communicate. Artists know that the same subject will yield different results if they use oil paint or watercolors, or if they sketch with charcoal, or pastels, or if they were to form a sculpture by chiseling stone, or carving wood, or molding clay. Musicians can tell

you that the same melody creates a different effect if played on violin, or trumpet, or kazoo. This simple rule applies to all of our media, and every one of our technologies. And so we arrive at McLuhan’s famous aphorism, “the medium is the message,” by which he also meant that our technologies and our symbol systems influence the way that we think, feel, and perceive, as well as our culture and social organization. The key to under standing media is to understand media as environments, to understand that we live within our words and our images, our pages and screens, and of course within our buildings and cars and cities. Media ecology, the study of media as environments, is the key to the most creative mode of thinking imaginable. And, it is the key to our future.

lance strate Phd. Graduate Director of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University President of The Media Ecology Association


23

DOUG RUSHKOFF INTERVIEW BY BENJAMIN HUNTER Wide-Eyed: Yo u r pie c e entitled “Renaissance Now! Media Ecology and the New Global Narrative” appeared in Explorations in Media Ecology back in 2002. In it you examine digital technology and the paradigm shift that was taking place in the way people create stories. Would you make any revisions or additions to your original piece with the emergence of YouTube and social networking sites such as MySpace? Doug Rushkoff: You are looking at an essay, well it’s weird, because by the time those guys (EME) got it I had probably already published it elsewhere or it was part of a book. So most likely what we are looking at is something from ‘95 or ‘96. Which is interesting because it was like ten or twelve years ago, when I was looking at interactive media and interactive technology as a way for people to participate in the story. It seemed to me that really since biblical times, right through the renaissance and the printing press and top down media, broadcast and all, that most people were consuming stories rather than participating in stories. They didn’t even really understand that the stories that they were consuming weren’t real, or that the structure of them were predetermined by someone or something way outside their control. To use computer language, they were living in a “read-only environment.” These files were not up for rewriting, they couldn’t be edited, they could just be looked at. The advent of the Internet seemed like, all of a sudden, we were in an environment were we understood that these stories were plastic, that unlike television which you can’t really get inside. With the computer you can edit and move and cut and paste or even ideally write things yourself. Unlike say William Boroughs or someone who would take existing media and cut it up to find “what it really means” as he would say. Now you could actually write something yourself and publish it and send it out and participate in conversation. The place of the individual in these stories or even what kind of stories and structures they were going to participate in was up for grabs. This isn’t just the stories that you think of as stories, but news stories and political stories and religious stories, it’s the story that we are living in. The TV movie of life is no longer just a TV movie it’s now something that is open-ended. When the more visual Internet emerged whether it was the world-wide-web with its pictures or now the highly visual experiences of Second Life or Myspace or any of these things, I was at first concerned in the same way that Jews or Muslims were by the introduction of imagery into sacred text. Once you have pictures in there, the medium becomes more opaque and less participatory. Now (because of imagery) there is a way things look and the way they look is sort of locked down. You don’t edit them (pictures) the same way, there is a different skill or requirement to be able to draw something or change something than just text, which is already malleable. So I was concerned about that and particularly that the bias of the world-wide-web was not towards writing and participation, it was towards clicking and buying, you would enter your credit card number and not much else. More recently the world-wide-web’s functionality has been

enhanced so that now the web is almost as functional and participatory as the Internet was before the web. Now there are bulletin boards and instant messenger chats, there are lots of ways for people to type and even program their own sites. What worries me about it though, is that in some of the most free-wheeling creative spaces possible online, we see the majority of activity is constrained by some of the worst limitations of consumer capitalism. You know, Worlds of Warcraft and some of the best players, make stuff and sell it to business men on Ebay. Second Life has become about the linden, which is the currency there and people making money. The most popular activity in Second Life, is people hiring virtual escorts that they pay lindens to in order to go to virtual strip clubs. Then those girls take those lindens and trade them in for dollars. It’s not that it’s a problem necessarily that people want to make money in every online space, it is more of a concern that when we have the opportunity for a genuinely second life, for an experimental opensource community of a really different kind, that it’s not some sort of “Burning Man” participatory culture that we create, but rather another market economy. That’s a little distressing that when faced with this sort of infinite possibility of new creation of a world, that it’s not the tools that constrain us as much as our own imagination or our own addiction to marketizing any form of human experience. WE: So would you say that in this context the cultural meme has gone down to the lowest common denominator? DR: In a way, yeah. I feel like the alternatives to free-market competition, the stuff that got explored by “Generation-X” culture has been just almost absolutely defeated (laughs). There was a moment when it seemed as if people were interested in something other than “selling out”, to the point where maybe in a sense it was to our disadvantage. We were so concerned with not “selling out” that we possibly didn’t accomplish as much as we could have or we ended up constrained in a different way because we were so scared of looking to anyone like a yuppie. But, that has really swung to the other side, where now it seems to me that kids are desperate to “sell out”, that there is no compunction about doing that. What else would you do, but try to get on American Idol? And that is the object of the game, not the downside.

WE: Is that a product of the actual medium? The way I am seeing it, is that many have access to the camera medium where vanity can be encapsulated much more easily than in the textual form. Does this have any baring on the dynamic that you speak of? DR: In a way yeah, that’s a good way of saying it. Instead of participating with your mind or your heart or instead of actually creating something, you are something. So in other words, you are the product, you are objectified. So yeah, that’s definitely true. It’s funny, I remember the moment that they said that young boys were as commodified as young girls are when Bruce Webber did this photo spread of Marky Mark, for Calvin Klein jeans, well now he is Mark Wahlberg right? People say that was the moment when teenage boys started to take steroids and that they became just as imperiled as young girls. Now a boy’s body was being just as objectified and I think that the visual sort of video Internet is certainly a part of that, it’s girls that fall into that more than boys. For the boys I think it is more about what (video) game you play, or what music you have loaded onto your iPod. But for girls, it’s more visual and about which body parts they are willing to show in a chat. WE: In “Renaissance Now!,” you suggested that the Internet had the ability to quell the voices of religious fundamentalism. Is that still the case now that the tools of expression have shifted to video rather than the dialectical mode of typed argumentation? For example, weeks ago at Coachella, I was curious whether or not a subversive Christian message was being propagated. Like the electronic group Justice from France, I couldn’t figure out (by the performance) if the symbols were satirical or if they were “believers.” There was no text involved in the message, there was just imagery. Does this empower fundamentalists? DR: Image-based communication more easily lends itself to a more iconic form of belief and worship. Icons aren’t just symbols. Icons are descriptive, representative, and symbolic. So the problem with them is people, especial today, people don’t tend to relate to icons allegorically anymore. They tend to relate to them literally. So when you have a picture, people think that it is the “thing” rather than it represents the

“thing.” Whereas when people look at words, they pretty much understand that the word isn’t the “thing” and that word is a bunch of symbols put together that make a word that stands for the “thing.” Religions that keep their believers aware that the things that they are believing in are not real, that the things that they are believing in are symbols, are substitutes for understanding these things that they (the believers) do not understand are, I think, are less likely to fall into fundamentalism. But they can anyway, you know the Jews ended up believing in Israel as the “thing,” as an actual holy place where the soil is actually more sacred, and that God loves that land more than other places (on earth). So even without a picture you could end up with a “thing.” Christians misunderstood Christ and decided that he is the “thing” representing God on earth, that his human body and corpse and blood somehow are the “thing” rather than a symbol for or an allegory for the “thing,” or his life as an example as the “thing.” So while pictures and video are certainly very prone to this very literalistic belief, they certainly aren’t the only first instances where this has happened. Just maybe in a world, where we have Photoshop, iMovie, and Final Cut, where imagery is as malleable and as plastic as language used to be, maybe the image will become less sacred than it was before. WE: Has networked technology and the digital renaissance had an impact on the demand for public intellectualism? Has it created a broader scope for more depth in discussion? DR: I think that people who want to engage more intellectually and more deeply in issues and ideas have more opportunity to do that. I don’t think that more people are born that way. I think that there is definitely more opportunity, and if there is more opportunity, then you would have to argue that people who may very well could have given up and just turned into beer drinking bums, now can go on-line and participate. It’s easier to get positive reinforcement for some form of intellectual engagement then it was before. So yeah, I’d have to say that it’s encouraged. I’m sure a lot of other kinds of engagements are encouraged as well, but there are a lot of chances for people to find the others now, where it was harder to do that before. (concluded on page 31)


24

New Wave

Anthems for the Damned

Filter

Scarlett Johansson Anywhere I Lay My Head

100 Days, 100 Nights

Sire

Pulse Recording

Atco/Rhino Records

Daptone Records

Against Me!’s debut on Sire Records maintains the band’s natural grittiness, encouraging their listeners to question authority and disseminating the message of change to the masses. In terms of content, New Wave has taken a decidedly different direction from the moody, self-involved darkness of Searching For a Former Clarity. The title track utilizes a moving backbeat that leads up to the first words spoken on the album: “We can control the medium. We can control the context of presentation.” This powerful song clamors for change, conveying that the control of music and pop culture is in the hands of its fans. The album doesn’t fail to deliver politically-charged tracks like “White People for Peace”, in which vocalist Tom Gabel ironically growls about the ineffectiveness of protest songs. Despite how New Wave is Against Me!’s first full length not to contain acoustic tracks, they do give us a “Summer Lovin”-esque duet between Gabel and Tegan Quinn of Tegan & Sara. —Emilee Petersmark

Filter frontman Richard Patrick, who returns as the band’s only ongoing member, has softened some since sobering up after the release of 2002’s The Amalgamut. Anthems achieves a more uniform sound throughout its early cuts (“Soldiers of Misfortune,” “The Wake”) than its distanced predecessor, relying on a likeable loud-soft dynamic and sounding similar to Army of Anyone, the supergroup Patrick played in with Stone Temple Pilots’ DeLeo brothers. Patrick doesn’t get really heavy until two-thirds of the way through, when on “The Take” and “In Dreams” he brings back the guitar fury and rumbling basslines of Filter’s first two records. He smartly saves solitary soft-rocker “Only You” for last, savoring its sweeping sound with the additional outro “Can Stop This.” –Eric Mitts

Tom Waits is a hero that flies through the sky and lands in your window, like Peter Pan, whisking you out of your mundane life and into a brothel in Singapore, swinging lanterns, fighting sailors, freaky floor shows with bearded ladies… these are the kind of magical experiences that Tom Waits has bestowed upon vast amounts of people, including me. His songs take you on a tour de force of brazen obstacles laced with a tragic visual alchemy that he has mastered like no other storyteller /singer of our time. All the formulaic pieces were there, with T.V. on the Radio’s David Stek doing production, Nick Zimmer of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s contributing, and none other than David Bowie singing some back up on a couple of tracks. All this amazing possibility, and one sad reality—Scarlett Johansson can’t sing. She can “sing,” but not with any discernible feeling that Tom Waits’ songs need. On the track “Falling Down”, I felt like I was at a Zombie Karaoke. Night of the singing dead. No feeling. Zero. This “no feeling” effect makes songs like “Green Grass” and “Town With No Cheer” sound like a monotonous, bad heroin trip. Sorry Scarlett, I just cannot listen anymore. –Liz Viernes

100 Days, 100 Nights is a bold foray back to the heart of authentic old-school funk/soul from the 60’s and 70’s. The album brings back the full, brazen sound of a brass orchestra accompanied by Sharon Jones’ smoky, gut-wrenching vocals, and will make you question the outdated quality of big hair, bell bottoms, and paisley, as well as make you wonder why a funk/soul revival movement hasn’t happened sooner. The title track immediately pulls the listener back into the groove of mid-60’s soul—its hypnotic melody and haunting lyrics combined with Jones’ powerful duet with a bari-sax is reminiscent of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Songs vary from the standard love ballads, to ‘pack-your-shit-and-leave’ tracks, to praise music. Jones’ commanding, semigritty vocals are goosebump-inspiring, and the addition of sax and trumpet accents throughout the album are more than enough to cement this to my favorites list. Definitely a retro treat (and at the very least, something your parents might like). —Emilee Petersmark

Against Me!

The Slip Self-released

Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor rewards fans for imbibing in his instrumental indulgence – the “Ghosts I-IV” EPs released earlier this year – by giving them The Slip, NI ’s full-length follow-up to last year’s Year Zero, for free. In the spectral shadow of “Ghosts,” Reznor’s words come under the spotlight more than ever. The album title alone has already been analyzed countless ways online; some saying it refers to Reznor leaving his major label overlords

or how he has sneakily distributed the disc on NI ’s Web site, or how lyrically it addresses themes of backsliding and addiction. Without question it marks a return to form, and not just because it includes Reznor’s recognizable rasp. The first few tracks surrounding the digital disco single “Discipline” charge forward with an urgency NI hasn’t had since 1992’s “Broken” EP. Still, keeping in mind how happily Reznor has shared this dark creation with the public, it’s getting harder to believe him when he whisper-screams “I don’t feel anything at all” on “1,000,000.” Even though he excitedly encourages listeners to become collaborators by creating remixes of The Slip, the album does feel incredibly personal. Nowhere does this become clearer than on “Lights In The Sky,” a somber number finding Reznor alone, stripped of his attendant noise, barely brushing his piano. It’s a moment so intimate it forgives and requires the inclusion of two more ethereal instrumentals (“Corona Radiata,” “The Four of Us Are Dying”) to completely recover. —Eric Mitts

Wolf Parade

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings’

Mudhoney

At Mount Zoomer

The Lucky Ones

Sub Pop

Sub Pop

Wolf Parade, a band born of necessity when Spencer Krug signed on to support Arcade Fire’s Us Kids Know tour, is now five men strong and holds its own in the realm of indie pop. At Mount Zoomer is definitely dance-able with engaging and energetic hooks in many places, but contains a certain darkness to its tracks. “Kissing the Beehive” is the epic of the bunch, building slowly into a marchtempo anthem and fuck, if it isn’t catchy. Songs like “Call It a Ritual” and “Language City” are driven home by intense and pounding piano. “Bang Your Drum” is the new glam rock, full of synth and arching vocals. At Mount Zoomer is a good album to drive to. It’s catchy, it’s vigorous and it’s adamant. And if you can’t drive, then you can walk to it with purpose, can’t you? —Juliet Bennet-Rylah

This album was recorded in 3 1/2 days and you can totally tell. It brings rawness only achieved by sweating it out with some dudes playing gritty, down & dirty, pure Rock & Roll glory. You won’t leave that mosh pit, you know you’re going to get elbowed in the face by some overzealous stink-ass, but you’ve got that tingle right down to your feet. Listen to “I’m Now” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Can the guitars get any sludgier? Can they sear through your Rock guts any better than this? Yes! “Inside Out” will make you turn your stereo up to speaker-blowing capacity, rock rifts that make you throw a fist up, with a break down into a complete wash of guitar “big muff” blasts! “Next Time” is a call to arms. Storm those gates! We are rocking out and not a damn thing can stop us. Bowing to the bass lines on “New Meaning,” Mudhoney solidly ends this album with a resounding bang that brings you to your rock adoring knees. How the hell did they know we needed something this real? —Liz Viernes


25

Spiritualized

The Roots

Tot ou Tard

Universal

Def Jam

Africa is in turmoil. People are dying. We have the power to stop this. These are the sentiments that Many Things carries along to the funk grooves and tribal percussions of Afrobeat. Seun Kuti’s second album propagates his father, legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti’s political messages as well as his musical styling. The album begins with segments of recorded speeches from the current Nigerian president making empty promises, followed by Kuti exclaiming in obvious derision, “Now everyone is really happy.” Kuti sings with palpable enthusiasm and passion in both Nigerian and English, echoed by a large chorus and brass orchestra. The trumpet and sax solos on “Mosquito Song” (which explains how the government’s lack of educational programs have contributed to the malaria epidemic) showcase the incredible musicianship of Kuti and his band mates, drawing obvious inferences from Duke Ellington’s jungle music and Kuti’s father, Fela. Leading his father’s band, Egypt 80, and keeping Fela’s spirit alive, Kuti passes on a message to his people: Africa speaks. Will you listen? — Emilee Petersmark

J Spaceman is the real deal. This guy’s beaten an impressive heroin habit, a near deathly bout with double pneumonia (!), and a pack a day cigarette affliction – not to mention the normal life strain that befits a 20year rock and roll career. It’s a wonder he’s still standing, frankly, though he has been performing seated of late. Songs in A&E isn’t an overcooked record like his last one, but it bellows with holy fire just like the old ones used to. “Baby I’m Just A Fool” revisits their late-90s free-jazz forays, ending in a most satisfying noise. Mostly, you get Spaceman’s aging croak drifting over sweeping acoustic passages. It’s beautiful, really – simple, direct and quite enjoyable –Andrew Watson

It’s album number three for The Roots on Def Jam, and if you think the move to Jay-Z’s big pimpin’, Bentley bangin’ balla label would rub off on Black Thought, well, maybe it has. These Roots would beat The old Roots bloody and stick that high falutin’ white boy caterin’ hip-hop jazz shit right up their ass. Rising Down is a spectacular record, full of crispy beats and serious flow, but these are angry and aggressive dudes – polar opposites from those Do You Want More?!!!??! hip cats. Maybe the venom is more pointed; the Bush bashing is quite feverish on this record. Still the most reliable crew working, The Roots continue to amaze and impact. This is an outstanding effort. —Andrew Watson

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea Silver Jews

Seun Kuti + Fela’s Egypt 80

Drag City Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, Silver Jews’ sixth studio album, is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll. Lead singer David Berman’s deep voice is an amalgam of Johnny Cash and Adam Green when crooning through cynical lyrics like “how much fun is a lot more fun?/Not much fun at all,” (“Strange Victory, Strange Defeat”). Perhaps more put-together than previous albums, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea has a sense of old-timey, whiskey-slinging, woods-fearing storytelling. Berman gets a hand from his wife, Cassie, who offers her saccharine vocals for a touch of brilliance. From the saloon-style piano in “Aloyisius Bluegrass Drummer,” to the sound effects-ridden, syncopated, Lou Reed-esque jaunt that is “Party Barge,” Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea spins you into another place, something sepia-toned with tattered corners. —Juliet Bennet-Rylah

Flight of the Conchords Flight of the Conchords Sub Pop

For Conchord aficionados, Flight of the Conchords’ first full-length album, (selftitled, of course) is the long-awaited release of classic stand-up tunes, professionally produced in a studio. For fans of the TV show, the album contains most of the memorable jams without the context behind them, reproduced and revamped.  Take the sit-com plot away from the story, and you’ve got an onslaught of hilarious subtlety and quick-wit, running the gamut of genres -- the sultry, bass-heavy funk of “Business Time,” the glam rock to 80s wave Bowie homage of “Bowie in Space,” and intentional so-bad-it’s-awesome attempts at hip hop on “Mutha’uckas” and “The Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenocerous.” —Juliet Bennet-Rylah

Many Things

Songs in A&E

The Dresden Dolls No, Virginia… Roadrunner

Comprised of b-sides, early songs and tracks recorded during alternate recording sessions, No, Virginia is the companion album to Yes, Virginia… (2006). Compared to previous albums, No, Virginia… is more pop than they’ve ever been, but don’t be fooled – Palmer’s voice is still as throaty and moody as we remember, and her lyrics are characteristically clever and crass. Viglione and Palmer are at the top of their game on this album, with tight playing, catchy rhythms and a full range of emotion and style. No, Virginia… is more than a companion album, but a complete collection on its own. —Juliet Bennet-Rylah

Portishead Third Island

There are almost no words acceptable to express when something resounds with such clarity that to talk about it reduces it to a tangible relatable thing that doesn’t reflect its complete and awesome power to just “be.” Portishead’s album Third is like a divining rod. It shows us down paths that will force our minds into colossal realms, tragedies that compete with mysteries staged in glory. I have been reborn onto a planet delicately designed

Rising Down

with foreboding rhythms, deep, richly canvassed darkness, and melodies that act as a guide to every fascinating twist and turn that exposes itself to me. These songs won’t let me go. Beth Gibbons’ voice eerily sensuous and seductive, traps you with the subtle  power of her hypnotic wares. With Portishead’s song “The Rip,” we are forced to reflect on this journey and how much deeper we are willing to go. “Plastic” takes a  loose drumming style and  combines it  with intensely syncopated effects, evocative of rapid beating wings on an electronic raptor in a bizarre evolutionary makeover with Portishead rendering the facts as we know it. “We Carry On” takes us even further, fast forward into complete tantric indoctrination that ends abruptly followed by the sweetness of “Deep Water.” In the song “Machine Gun,” the cumulative rhythmic successions add to the power Portishead wields to define and supersede with inimitable ingenuity. Trust me, this is no easy recant. If we decide to ignore the future mapped out to us by Portishead we will most certainly implode into ourselves and the earth will burn up around us. —Liz Viernes


26

Locals Only Neighborhood Favorites

*See our Free Tee Promotion on Page 26

Blonde

Hama Restaurant

2430 Main St, Santa Monica

213 Windward Ave, Venice

Phone: (310) 396-9113 • Web: blondela.com

Phone: (310) 396-8783 • Web: hamasushi.com

An expansive boutique, Blonde has everything the female clothing consumer could want. Designer choices in every vein, Blonde has a chic and stylish array of choices for every level of formality and for every piece of an ensemble.

Hama Restaurant has more than just the rogue gallery of mainstream sushis. They feature a vast and innovative menu, including eyebrow raising combinations and sakes, putting them above the rest. An informal atmosphere appeals to a diverse clientele, from celebrities to regulars, from sushi experimentalists to connoisseurs.

Fly Or Die Gallery

Nine Star

10958 Weyburn Avenue, LA

1103 Olympic Blvd, LA

Phone: (323) 428-4368 Web: myspace.com/flyordiegallery

Phone: (310) 477-3999 • Web: 9star.com

Fly Or Die is a new streetwear company with styles deeply rooted in and inspired by custom sneakers, fixed-gear bikes, and Japanese pop-culture. In December 2007, president and head designer, Lord Ceniza, opened the flagship store in the heart of Westwood Village by the UCLA campus. In addition, the gallery carries limited edition sneakers and artwork celebrating urban life.

El Compadre

On the corner of Olympic & Sepulveda in Los Angeles lies the one stop shop for any Surf Skate Snow or BMX junkie on the west side. Nine Star stocks everything for or about action sports. Including a stellar selection of clothing from the likes of RVCA, LRG, Quiksilver and Obey. Come to shop, get your snowboard tuned or just hang out. They have a full service shop, video game lounge and a full on half pipe in the parking lot!

C&O Trattoria

7408 W. Sunset Blvd, LA

31 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey

Phone: (323) 874-7924

Phone: (310) 823-9491 • Web: cotrattoria.com

Quality Mexican cuisine, live music, a bustling party scene and the Flaming Margarita are all staples of El Compadre. With both traditional and more experimental Mexican offerings, El Compadre is never boring. El Compadre has flavor in food, décor and atmosphere alike.

C&O Trattoria prides itself on generous portions and rich Italian dishes, stating that “people generally don’t leave here hungry.”An optional garden patio, nightly sing-a-longs and signature cultural cuisine like Killer Garlic Rolls, Calamari Fritti and pastas of all mixes and blends combine for a true experience.

Rocker Board Shop 12204 Venice Blvd, LA

Phone: (310) 397-8300 • myspace.com/rockerboardshop

RBS specializes in gear for women while representing a large assortment of board shorts, wetsuits, rashguards, tees and flip flops for the men. You’ll definitely want to check out the surfboard selection from Guy Okazaki, Scott Anderson, GSI’s sick line of Merrick designed Anacapa boards and skateboards from the local boys at Arbor, Loaded and Juicebox plus knockout decks from Pura Gallo as well.

Re-Mix Classica Vintage Footwear 7605 1/2 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles Phone: (323)936-6210 Web: remixvintageshoes.com Re-Mix is a true vintage store, with a special twist. Re-Mix offers unused, never-worn shoes that smack of the 1920s through the 1960s. Authentic reproduction and true treasures, Re-Mix offers men and women alike quality retro footwear from pumps to wingtips to saddles shoes to loafers.

M Fredric & CO 11677 San Vicente Blvd #214, LA Ph: (310) 207-3438

2302 S. Sepulveda Blvdz, LA Ph: (310) 477-3006

16101 Ventura Blvd, Encino Ph: (818) 990-0445

A fashion retail company with heart, M Fredric provides sophisticated clothing for Women, Men and Kids, while also paying attention to charity and community. For 26 years, they’ve been a popular source for professional stylists, and casual consumers alike.

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery 1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica

Phone: (310) 395-8279 • Web: baycitiesitaliandeli.com

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery operates as both fully-stocked grocer specializing in all the Italian delights one could ever desire, as well as a deli with a healthy bounty of thick sandwiches, hoagies, baked goods and treats. With emphasis on quality, variety and freshness, Bay Cities’ become extremely popular.


June 19 - 22, 2008

Santa Clara University 500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, CA

Featured presentations by

the friendly skies summer tour 2008

Fritjof Capra Leonard Shlain Lynn Clark Joshua Meyrowitz Frank Dance

In addition, panels and papers on media ecology and the sacred, and communication technology and education and environments.

june 18 mr. t’s bowl june 20 the smell myspace.com/friendlyskiesmusic

For full program and registration information, please go to the Media Ecology Association website, www.mediaecology.org


28

The Friendly Skies interview by Emilee Petersmark With all of the mindless, self-important, ego-driven music floating around on the airwaves today, it’s refreshing to stumble upon a band that goes back to putting value on creating a solid song structure without the worthless paraphernalia of most popular contemporary music. The Friendly Skies, a new instrumental duo from Portland, OR , believes in taking a more organic approach to songwriting, breaking away from the laptopdependent cut-and-paste artists of today. The two -man band consists of drummer, Jason Drost, and multi-instrumentalist, David Breese—two extremely talented musicians with a penchant for injecting the music scene with quality compositions. Tired of the egos of guitarists and singers, Breese came up with the idea for The Friendly Skies while scooping ice cream and finishing grad school in Pittsburgh. One summer, he abandoned the bass for a baritone guitar and began writing material for what would eventually become the duo’s first release. When Drost and Breese teamed up in March 2008, they decided to avoid the trappings of current instrumental artists, creating music that showcases their vision and musicianship without destroying the organization of the music itself. When it comes to recording, The Friendly Skies take the punk rock approach, taking quality over quantity and stressing simplicity of process. “ We love how all those punk bands from the eighties would release records and put in the liner notes that it was recorded for $300!” explains Drost. With only two days in the studio, they knew they couldn’t spend lots of time experimenting with ideas. They went into Soundhouse Studios in Seattle, guided by engineer, David Dressel, and knocked out the songs quickly so they’d have plenty of time to mix. “It seems like every band thinks all you have to do is put a bunch of delay over a guitar line and it’s a masterpiece,” says Breese. “ We try to develop songs around melodies rather than

using giant pedal boards of effects to create mood.” He then wryly adds, “No matter how great your equipment is, you can’t polish a turd.” Clearly, the crew delegated their time wisely and worked their e q u i p m e n t we ll, producing six solid songs to be placed on their first self-titled EP. The EP itself spans fifteen minutes, but provides the band with a concise, stimulating intro onto the music scene and firm footing for later development. The Friendly Skies demo combines a steady, lulling drumbeat and meandering, hypnotic baritone guitar riffs, looping haunting keyboard melodies and guitar to add chilling layering to the music. The Friendly Skies use real-time loops and buck the current trend of laptop-dependent artists with their utterly real performances. Drost and Breese compare their music to an ice cream sundae (an unsurprising analogy, considering Breese spent summers in Pittsburgh scooping the stuff for pocket change). Drost’s drumming is like the scoops that lay the foundation for the sound, solid and steady. Breese’s rolling baritone lines are like a layer of thick hot fudge. Loops of

keyboard and guitar melodies are sprinkled on top like nuts and jimmies. It is an audiblyintriguing combination, but some find the missing standards of popular music (like bass and vocals) disconcerting. “I think of our music almost like pop songs without the vocals,” Drost comments. “ We actually had a guy come up to the stage the other night after our first song and say, ‘you guys are good… but do you have a singer?” But The Friendly Skies is quite content with their current set up and has no plans on changing. “ We keep getting MySpace messages from people asking if we want to add another guitarist to the group. I always reply, ‘we’re a happily married duo,’” says Breese. “ We like the simple approach… Jason and I are pretty laid back so songwriting comes easy. I go into practice with three or four riffs, and Jason helps me arrange them into songs. Then, once we have the structure of the song figured out, I come up with the guitar and the keyboard melodies.” Despite their move to Portland, The Friendly Skies still maintains ties to their origins in Pittsburgh. Their new 7” was released on former band mate, Sean Finn’s label, Polar Recordings. Drost and Breese will be out in late June to tour in support of their new release. The duo has two LA shows scheduled for their summer tour—the first is at Mr. T ’s Bowl on June 18th. The second is an all-ages show at The Smell on June 20 th, where the group plans to have an ice cream social before they take the stage (to keep with the band’s ice cream motif ). They plan to release a fulllength follow up to their EP in mid 2009. The Friendly Skies are off to a solid start, presenting a new face and quality to contemporary instrumental music.


29

The Evolution of Media (and the Loss of the Sacred)

By: Nikos Monoyios

Illustration by David Dodde

We all know that sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs regarding piling food onto our plates, but what if we applied the same principle to our society ’s obsession with the advancement of technology and media. Could we possibly try to absorb more media than we can handle? Undoubtedly, this advancement has affected mankind tremendously, but how has this evolution of technology and media altered our experiences of the sacred? I wish to address Stanley Kubrick’s prologue in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Twenty minutes of neanderthal wanderings slowly lead into the discovery of a bone used as a tool. If you recall, this discovery significantly altered their society’s existence. Suddenly, violent altercations broke out establishing a stratified hierarchy -- evolution of mankind. Albeit pain-stakingly boring to watch, the principles of the segment are timeless. Mankind will progress and society will consequently be altered. We live in a society infatuated with quantity and progress. This pursuit has persuaded society to discover and digest information at an accelerating rate. We are convinced that absorbing the increasingly complex messages in the world around us is of dire importance in order to maintain a tip-top perspective. We constantly want and expect more, compounding these confusing complexities in trying to make sense of it all within the context of our lives. Marshall McLuhan, a pioneering scholar of media theory stated, “ Today, each of us lives one hundred years in a decade.” Although this sentiment was coined in the early 70s, his point is made more evident as the decades pass. We are exposed to more and more imagery everyday, inundated with complex messages. How much do we consciously absorb versus what ricochets off of our eardrums? Let’s first look at our history. Human kind is advancing exponentially faster by means of technology and media. For example, hunter & gatherer societies existed for many millennia. Then, in an exponentially smaller time span, mankind evolved and discovered the application of agricultural techniques. Consequently, villages grew around the cultivation of sustenance. These agricultural times existed for about half the time until simple machines accelerated mankind further. New millenia came and went with new advancements evolving us even faster. Eventually, the Industrial Revolution evolved society within 100 years. Soon the Information Age set in for a few decades and now the Post-Information Age will end in the next decade. Evidently, mankind has evolved and accelerated society since the days of Kubrick’s ape-man. Since this progress can

be seen as evolving exponentially, one starts to wonder how long this exponential acceleration can last. The motors on our machine have always spun faster and faster. Can it be that our advancements will eventually accelerate from one year to the next or possibly from one month to the next? So how do we continue to appropriately adjust to this ever-accelerating machine? We live in an age where we rely upon media & technology for so much of what we do. McLuhan noted that, “The ignorance of how to use new

knowledge stockpiles exponentially.” We are convoluting our lives by trying to digest and maintain information at such an accelerated pace that we may not be able to appropriately handle it. Simply put, we are forgetting to stop and smell the roses and live life on terms of what really matters. We’ve forgotten how to live in the present. We forget the humanity of living life and worry about understanding all the media contexts we are exposed to. What happens to us when we continually try to absorb more and more? What will we

displace? What happens when our world around us is moving faster than what we can cognitively or mentally handle? Our lives inherently accelerate, just like the contexts around us. It’s easy to understand why Marshall McLuhan suggested that we are now living one hundred years inside of a decade. Technology and media allow us the opportunity to taste more and our lives are moving faster and faster because we are programmed to do so. Can humans be compared to computers? If we can, what happens when one asks a computer to process more information than it can handle? It will bog it down, unable to perform its requested task. If we are not like computers, then we must either possess the evolving ability to increase our storage and processing speed, or we simply plateau at what levels of information we can digest. Of course we are all familiar with the wellknown saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” However, McLuhan proposed that “invention is the mother of necessity.” This established the societal phenomenon that we invent not simply because we need something, but simply because we desire more. In other words, we are faithful to the virtues of more production and consumption. We can continuously absorb copious amounts of information, rearrange and process complicated contexts, offer rational interpretations, and always want more. Maybe McLuhan is secretly an Amish superhero, disguised in the modern fatigues of suits and sportcoats trying to make the modern world internalize the consequences of advancing media & technology. After all, the Amish reject the life of modernity and progress. They believe in the virtues of the simple life and recognize the negative grip modernity can have on the life of a society. Maybe they are onto something, but not necessarily convincing enough for me. Perhaps what we are learning from figures like McLuhan and the whole of the Amish is that no matter how much or how little we divulge into digesting the complexities of the advancing world around us, we still need to embrace and cultivate our humanity. It’s important to understand that this larger media context is an extension of our lives and not meant to define our lives. Keeping mental pace with the acceleration around us will facilitate something deeper, something more significant. We need to keep our reliance on the larger media context in check, unplug ourselves from time to time, and keep our eyes smaller than our stomachs.


30

Show review by Juliet Bennett-Rylah Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor, MI May 10 The crowd outside of Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor, MI on May 10, 2008 donned hooded sweatshirts declaring it ‘business time’ and paste-on sideburns. A sold-out show, the line extended far down the street. Teenage girls clutched tickets to their chests and contemplated the likelihood of meeting the headliners after the show. The headliners? Flight of the Conchords. The self-declared “fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” of New Zealand, Flight of the Conchords is a two-man comedy band consisting of Jemaine Clement, known for his epic sideburns, and Bret McKenzie, a frequent wearer of a tiger T-shirt. New Zealand natives, their characteristic sound involves acousticbased jams of multiple genres, lyrics punctuated by subtle comedy and clever witticisms. Example? “The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room),” a love ballad features Clement crooning, “ You’re so beautiful… you could be a waitress.” Flight of the Conchords began as a musical comedy act, but found their real success when HBO decided to give them a chance as a television show. The show followed the two awkward musicians attempting to make it as a successful band in New York City. Armed with nothing but their acoustic guitars, a tape-player and a bumbling band manager, Clement and McKenzie fumbled their way through uncomfortable romantic situations and embarrassing performances. Their oblivious characters endeared fans through the banter and music videos scattered throughout each episode. In May of 2008, the Conchords released their first full-length album, a self-titled debut. The album features completely revamped studio versions of show favorites. Along with their album release, the Conchords went on tour. Hitting only eleven stops in the United States, the Conchords were met with sold-out shows and screaming fans.

The show at Michigan Theatre did not disappoint fans looking for the Bret and Jemaine they’d come to know and love through the television series. After a brief opening stand-up by comedian Arj Barker, who plays “Dave” on the Conchords’ TV series, the Conchords came out to play. As awkward as ever, the two took their places in high-backed chairs and bantered their way through a full set and two encores, featuring songs from the television series as well as a few new tunes. McKenzie attempted a keytar solo, jumping from the stage only to pull out his own cord. Clement did his best to toss McKenzie more lead, but the keytar proved tricky. The concert felt more intimate than most rock affairs; McKenzie and Clement frequently responded to the calls from the audience. When an audience member yelled, “Bowie!,” as a request for them to play “Bowie in Space,” Clement said, “I think you’re mistaking me for someone else.” When fans called for “Sello Tape,” Clement threw the set list to the floor and said, “Alright, we’ll do it! We were going to play a cooler song, but whatever!” At their last encore, the Conchords played “Angels,” a ballad about what intercourse would be like in heaven. McKenzie got tangled up in his own microphone cord, and then fell off the stage. “There’s Bret, doing his physical comedy again,” Clement quipped. The audience rose to their feet in a standing ovation following the last number. This was in addition to those already standing, having agreed to last-minute standing-room-only tickets. They’ve charmed us with their wit, beguiled us with their unassuming boyish good looks, and endeared us with their humble repartee. Not too shabby for two clumsy comedians, playing silly songs.


Coda... The Bronx

(continued from page 7)

JF: There’s Ghostface Killah. Talk about just the most diverse crowd ever. People were like…(Joby throws a Wu sign) MC: We were playin’ and people were throwing up Wu-Tang symbols. It was fuckin’ great. JF: The amount of pot that those dudes smoke is amazing. It was a pretty fun experience. WE: Future collaboration with Ghostface? MC: It would be great! JF: For a lot of the bands we toured with there has been some that I haven’t liked at all, but I think in general music is so subjective. People have different opinions and tastes. For some people it’s good for them, but its bad to me. There are only good bands and bad bands.

stuff like this. This is our limited edition, major label Bronx rock and roll bandana! {Everyone breaks into laughter}. JF: What the fuck is all over this (holding it by a corner). MC: I think it might be jazzma. JF: (Putting it around his neck, cowboy style). I think it goes like... WE: I think it gives you that look. JF: What look would you call this? JF: I think you are going to say one thing, and I’m going to tell you that I think I’m actually covered in sperm right now. {Everyone breaks into laughter}. MC: It’s pretty stiff (grabbing the scarf ). WE: You guys are in Van Hays. JF: There used to be a gay porn.. JV: Gay porn ghost house. MC: Ha! Great song title JF: It was a gay porn duplicating house next door over there, it sounded like animals dying.

WE: So when are you planning to release the record? MC: Well it’s a real loose (in a sarcastic tone) schedule. Right now anyway. We have our casual Fridays. JF: We still have work to do. We just got to make sure we get everything done. We have some mixing and mastering to do yet.. MC: But we don’t have to worry about titling them. JV: One less thing to do. MC: We think ahead.

Make sure to check out The Bronx or maybe El Bronx as they will be one of the headliners for this years’ Van’s Warp Tour. Visit www.wideeyednation.com to see this interview and watch The Bronx rock some tracks off their up and coming, once again self-titled release.

WE: Are you guys going to be putting this out on White Drugs again? JF: In other parts of the world...it is a White Drugs release, but it will be licensed to different distribution. MC: Yes! Like that whole thing is kind of up in the air right now, our main goal is finish what we have to finish and we’ll figure all of that stuff out.

that. So, I’m kind of popping up all over the place on different recordings. And then I got to do the Nine Inch Nails thing in December which was a real treat.

W E : Did you ever think of doing a digital release? MC: Yeah… you know digital is great, but you can’t grab digital you can’t touch digital. Sounds like a cool song right. {Breaks into singing} You can’t touch digital! JV: Sounds like Tom Petty’s next record. JF: What is it? You can’t touch it because it’s so good, or you can’t touch it? MC: No you can’t touch it. JV: No it’s not tangible. MC: We’re putting out both records on one vinyl. JF: Double vinyl. JV: Split cover double vinyl. MC: That you can hold and touch.

The Dresden Dolls

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WE: Right, I heard about that too. BV: Yeah, that was really great. So, no, it’s not gonna be like when Kiss released all their solo albums. {laughs} WE: Although you both wear makeup, so it could be similar. BV: Right, we’re halfway there! WE: Is there anything else (The Dresden Dolls) are working on? BV: The Dresden Dolls are about to release our new song book, 384-page Viginia companion, which is basically the sheet music, stories, picture, and strong instruction from both me and Amanda, for the last two albums. It’s going to be beautiful. It looks amazing so everyone should keep their eyes peeled for that.

WE: Everything is DIY, you produce your own record that way, you do the art that way, do you make your own website too then? JF & MC: Yep. JF: I wouldn’t call it DIY, I would call it...control freak maybe. I don’t wan’t anyone else doing it. Definitely would call ourselves DIY.

WE: Would you say No, Virginia… is a lot like Yes, Virginia, or would you say it’s a little different? BV: I would say it’s a little bit different than Yes, Virginia. I feel it’s more short and to the point. I think the songs are tighter, punchier. Just by random coincidence, this collection of songs is more poppy and catchy in certain ways, but it’s still got a lot of different moods to it. “The Sheep Song,” “The Gardener,” and “Boston” certainly have a darker kind of edge to them. “Lonesome Organist” is certainly an up-tempo kind of punk song. It’s all really great, fun material to play live so we’re looking forward to the upcoming tour. And, you know, it’s funny, because a lot of these songs were written in the early days of the band but it wasn’t until now that we were able to sit down and arrange them and I think we’re actually a lot better players now and so I’m happy that we got to wait a few years to develop it before we recorded and released them. I think they sound a lot better now than they did seven years ago.

WE: NOE! No one else. JV: {laughs} MC: This is what happens when you give other people control (Matt gets up and walks to the other end of the room to return with a stiff and crusty bandana with The Bronx’s name all over it. It looks like some shitty winning from a bean bag toss at a county fair) you get

WE: Are you a classically trained drummer? BV: No, not at all. I ’m pretty much self-taught, but had huge influence from a lot of jazz guys and rock performers. All through my growing up, my dad had a real consistent hand in trying to educate me to different great drummers of all styles. He constantly encouraged me to

WE: Do you create your own art within the group? MC: I do everything. JF: Matt (pointing at Matt). MC: I do all of the artwork. No {laughing} Joby does it, he is the graphic design master mind. That is the majority of the real reason why we don’t title albums, so that they can be distinguished by their art and the cover so to speak… JV: And laziness. MC: And laziness, so he does merch, he does record covers, he does all that stuff.

really listen and practice and try to develop my own voice on the instrument as a way of self-expression and not just be kind of like that background backbeat run-of-the-mill drummer but to really take full advantage of the musical capacity that instrument has. WE: Well, you definitely have your own personality onstage. BV: Yeah, absolutely. I think that everything I was drawn to as a child that said ‘embrace who you are,’ and rock and roll in particular is a vehicle for you to express those ideas, express your personality and celebrate freedom. Being in the band with someone like Amanda, who shared so much of that same kind of vision and desire to share that with other people, is tremendous. It only encourages you. I mean, I look back at video of myself playing with The Dresden Dolls in 2001 and 2002 and it looks nothing like I do now. This band and having this opportunity has helped me opened up as a person and a performer. It’s made me able to put more of myself into the music and into the art of it, and that’s great. I think art should be there to help uplift and draw something out of you instead of just like pacify you. It should engage you on a deeper level and this band has done a lot to do that for me. WE: And everyone else too, I think. BV: Good! We hope so, definitely. I think one of the things that Amanda and I really related to each other was how much we realized certain musicians and performers saved us as young people, and helped us through so much of the confusion and frustration of being young and growing up and coming to terms with things in life that seemed so insurmountable and so confusing. Having music as a way to release and to process was this invaluable thing. I think we are proud of the fact that we can help do that for other people as well.

compared you to the legendary John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. How do you feel about that comparison? JG: First of all, it’s just a hell of an honor just to be in the same sentence. But the funny thing is that it isn’t so much that I even sound or even play like the guy, there’s just something about when you make the drums sound real, people are like, ‘Oh, you must love Bonham.’ And it’s like, ‘ Yeah, and I really do.’ He’s not at the top of my list of drummers that most influence me, but he’s definitely in that very short list. I think that’s really cool because some drummers they get compared to Keith Moon, or this guy’s like Ringo Starr or that guy’s like Ginger Baker, but my goal is to obliterate all my idols. Kill all my idols and say I don’t want to live in this shadow. I would like it if in ten years some kid would be like, ‘ Wow, I sound like Josh Garza.’ That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to do what Bonham did, which is do it his way, and I’m doing it my way, and that’s the main influence I’ve gotten out of all the old classic rock is what made them stand out is that they did stand out. They were very individualistic personalities and I feel like that’s missing from rock. Nowadays it’s like all the production sounds the same, all the drums the sound same, and all of it sounds the same except the singer, and to me that’s annoying. Today there are about four or five chick singersongwriters out and I can’t tell the difference. All the music sounds the same. I can sort of tell when it’s one singer over another, and that’s ridiculous. It should be like when it was when every band sounded different. I guess the man likes to think we like our music to all sound the same but we don’t {laughs}. Look for The Secret Machines new album to come out sometime this fall. For updates, go to thesecretmachines.com

The Secret Machines

Doug Rushkoff

different mixer,’ and the record ended up being a little softer. People weren’t really interested in that yet from us, and that’s just too bad because being in a band doesn’t always mean doing what the fans want. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. But on this album it captured us getting back to basics and saying ‘ What are we good at?’ We’re good at writing this type of song with this type of production and I think the whole way from beginning to end, it was just an honest record.

WE: What is YouTube and MySpace doing to the American political process from your perspective? DR: Well, I think that they are doing different things. When it comes down to it, MySpace is a way for bands to get more known and a way for kids to present themselves to their peers. That fact that Obama can have a MySpace page and have a zillion friends, I don’t know how much that really means. It means something, I guess. MySpace is just the web, with some easier tools on it for publishing. YouTube, I would argue might affect politics more directly. In that, now here is a way for video to get distributed without any official corporate approval. You don’t need the editor of the news to approve it. Not that they would have much choice. Anyway, I mean the Rodney King tape came out long before YouTube and spread over the entire news dial, because the image was that provocative. That was just some guy with a camcorder recording these cops beating on a black guy. On a certain level, if the video is provocative enough it’s going to make it anyway with or without YouTube. But, it definitely allows for such a wide and deep video index of our behaviors. In the Reverend Wright situation, it makes it very hard for politicians to be as dishonest as they are accustomed to being, or escaping history. On the one hand, in the short term this is going to make the political sphere even more about rumors and innuendo than it used to be. Eventually, by the time that every single politician has a thirty second cell phone video clip of them getting a blowjob or something, it will be just so common place that it doesn’t mean anything. It won’t mean anything if a politician has smoked pot, or cheated on his wife, or done any of these things anymore, so that the video itself will become just another — it’s like he had cereal or something, it means nothing.

(continued from page 9)

WE: Mentioning doing or not doing what your fans want, I find it interesting how many musicians are supportive fans of yours, like U2 or David Bowie and others. Do you think they stand behind what you do because you do stay true to what you need to do and are able to recognize what you do best? JG: I think the thing with, outside of popularity with, like, regular fans with us, when you start dealing with musicians, anybody who’s in a band or plays music tends to be very snobby, because they know what’s up. And I think what a lot of people hopefully like about us, especially with like Bowie and other people, is that there’s an immediate newness to it. A like, ‘ What is that?’ moment. Especially with Bowie; I mean this is a guy who was into The Velvet Underground before anybody else ever heard of them. This is a guy that helped Iggy Pop back when nobody even gave a fuck. So Bowie’s track record is fucking cemented. So when this cat comes along and is like, ‘Ooh, I like The Secret Machines,’ it validated me to at least another musician. Like a guy who knows his shit said, ‘ Yeah, that’s good,’ and to me that means a lot. But I don’t want to be just ‘that band that Bowie digs.’ I think our music is music that a lot of people would like if they knew where they could hear it. And we’re working on that {laughs}. WE: Outside of other musicians’ opinions, a lot of reviewers, myself included, have

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Foreign Policy class. He was talking about the Vietnam War and I didn’t really understand the dynamics behind the Vietnam War. He was a hippie and had an explanation of our policies and how fucked they were in Vietnam, and all the way up to the present time, which was 1987 for me. He was talking about the Star Wars Program and how the Star Wars Program was a destabilizing program because anything that is defensive means you can defend yourself and you can be offensive without repercussion. That tends to make people nervous and make them think about how can they be more offensive and then there is this trigger finger situation that is created. That was a big thing for me because I think that I always had the preconceived idea that, ‘The US are the good guys and we wouldn’t go into a war without the best intentions.’ Even after having listened to punk rock, and the Dead Kennedys, and Millions of Dead Cops, and groups like that, I still felt like, ‘ Well, it’s probably good to question things, but they sound still a little conspiracy theory-ish.’ That teacher really laid the facts out in a way that was important to me. That had nothing to do with art teaching. At that time, I was doing drawings of my skateboard and things that weren’t really political, but eventually it all sort of converged. I wanted to make art which was inspired by skateboard graphics and punk rock and propaganda posters. With my politics it was just logical to eventually converge.

Part II Shepard Fairey interview By: Benjamin Hunter Wide-Eyed: Your pieces are honest projections of your frustrations with pollution, war, capitalism, greed, etc… You whole-heartedly take on these situations in a number of your works. At what moment in your life - not as an artist – did you begin to consciously engage in a critique of what is wrong with the world that needs addressing? Shepard Fairey: There’s not a moment, I don’t think. Some of the first times that I can remember thinking that maybe the government doesn’t have my best interests in mind, or maybe not all adults have their

shit together, things like that, was I think listening to the Dead Kennedys second album Plastic Surgery Disasters in 1984. I mean, I was already listening to The Clash and The Sex Pistols and things like that, and they had a general spirit of rebellion and critique of the status quo. It maybe laid the groundwork for me looking at my own government and my own social system that I was involved in, even on a local level in South Carolina. Punk rock was the catalyst, The Dead Kennedys, specifically. I remember this song called “Bleed for Me” where Jello is saying, “ We need fuel, but to get it we need puppets. So what’s ten million dead if it’s keeping out the Russians?” He was talking about installing dictators in other countries. It doesn’t matter the cost of human life as long as we got oil, et cetera, and I’m thinking, ‘ Wow, that stuff makes sense to me.’ Then once that door starts opening, it’s like a flood, where

you start to question things more and pay attention and scrutinize. For me as an artist, maintaining that tradition of questioning things and encouraging another generation to do it is very important to me. WE: Can you say that there are instructors in your academic background that you gleaned this attitude from? Were there those that influenced you in art school? SF: I went to a very conservative private school as a kid, which was really oppressive - and which you could say is helpful in that I was reacting against it. And I was saying, ‘There has got to be something different than this out there, because this is absolute torture.’ You know, there was no room for creativity or any free-spirited behavior. So then my senior year of high school, I went to an arts boarding school out in California and had a teacher that was teaching an American

WE: What are your thoughts on doing commercial art, when at your core you are a political artist? SF: It’s something that almost any artist that doesn’t make it as a gallery artist instantaneously after leaving art school which is about 99.9% of people - is going to have to do if they want to make a living using their creative abilities. The choice is: Do I want to work as a waiter or some other job that isn’t art-related in order to keep the idea of artistic purity intact? For me, I always felt like I’d rather be honing my skills as an artist, even if I had to do some commercial things to survive. Also, being part of the world of doing commercial art and understanding it, in some ways, is like an infiltration. Because I always felt like a lot of my work was a reaction to advertising, and sort of understanding the way that advertising works. It would help me not only to work for commercial entities if I needed to make money, but also do stuff that was countering it. It sounds a little bit contradictory, but I think the simplest way for me to put it is that I always used it as sort of a Robin Hood strategy. I will make money doing commercial stuff, and then I will put that into my street art campaign that I think is provocative and tries to get people to question everything that they are inundated with, commercial advertising included. If I had refused to do any commercial work, the scale of my street art project would have been greatly limited because my resources would have been limited. So I would have had no power at all almost, but would have been able to say, ‘ Yeah, fuck the man!’ I felt like it was more important to do commercial work especially when there are a zillion designers lined up to do any commercial job - and that my boycotting doing a graphic for Coca- Cola would not most likely change the outcome of people drinking Coca- Cola or not, but it would definitely change the outcome of whether I can take my project as far as I want to take it. It affords me to travel, put posters up, print posters, you know, pay for flights to go to places and do my thing. It was always something that I would have preferred not to do, but on the other hand there have been a lot of commercial projects that I wanted to do, like a lot of music projects - I love music. Being able to do the Walk the Line poster for


the Johnny Cash biopic, or doing the Led Zeppelin album package, or stuff for the Smashing Pumpkins, or the Joe Strummer Telecaster package for Fender – these are all things that if I can help present them in an authentic way, in a commercial context, then I feel like I am doing a service to the commercial application of it. Everything gets co-opted to a degree once it gets to a certain level of popularity, and people get mad about that. But, what I feel they get mad about is that it gets watered down once the application becomes more commercial. When you look at things that people don’t really get mad about, like when the Beatles got really big and they were commercially successful, everything was controlled about their presentation and the way that they wanted it done, and it was always on their own terms. Commercial success on ones own terms should never really be something that is looked down upon, because art and commerce need each other. A lot of people are bitter that what they do doesn’t afford them a living, but then they are also bitter when someone else does afford a living from it. So, I think that I look at everything on a case by case basis. I will not do commercial work for people that I have an ethical conflict with. I have been asked to do stuff for some cigarette companies and some very large gas guzzling car companies, and I wouldn’t do it because its stuff that would very clearly contradict where I am coming from philosophically. Then there are other situations where I don’t think either a product is bad or that I need take a position as a paternalist. I think it is very dangerous when people start behaving like paternalists. I try to just put my opinion out there, but not say, ‘ THIS IS MY MANDATE, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD OR SHOULDN’ T DO!’ There is a fine line there, and I sort of think that a lot

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of people from the street art peanut gallery {laughs} are very happy telling you what you should do. WE: The next question plays right into that mentality. Hipsters are so guarded about the art they admire and the music that they listen to. They want to have this sense of intimacy, so they are quick to throw away their heroes as soon as they get mass attention. Are we, as a culture, at a point were it can be cool to have mass appeal when the art or the music is true at its core? SF: I would hope so. WE: I mean, I hope your Obama project does that, because it is pure, man. You did a pure thing. SF: Well, thanks. My feeling has always been that hipsters have a naivety; it’s age, it’s an immaturity, and sometimes it’s just a sort of like, fingers in the ears and hands over the eyes simultaneously, like, ‘la-la-lala, I don’t want to hear it,” sort of attitude. Hipsters to me have sort of developed, for me, a narrow-minded connotation. It is interesting because, I think that there is this perception that if something gets big then it sucks, because it panders to the lowest common denominator. They are also taking the position that there aren’t things that are universal that can be acknowledged as being awesome in a way that resonates with a lot of people and that are undeniable pleasure zones for humankind. I totally disagree with them. There are things that suck because they take the easy watered-down route, and that is why they are seen as mass. Then there are things like Gnarls Barkley’s, “Crazy.” Was that song supposed to be huge? That was like a quirky weird band right? It just happened!

Photo by Kyle Oldoerp

What I try to do is, I try to think, ‘ What can I do, that is very like me saying exactly what I want to say without watering it down?’ But also, not being intentionally obnoxious and trying to alienate people just so I can say that I am in the “cool club.” When you look at what is cool with hipsters and what is not, a lot of it isn’t about quality, it’s about this sort of period of gestation. It initially is small with the hipsters and then it incubates there, and eventually it grows bigger, and then they abandon it because it has gotten too big. It is the arc of the life span, but it has nothing to due with a quality shift. How old are you? WE: Thirty SF: I’m thirty-eight, so I was twenty-one when Nirvana’s Nevermind came out. I already had Bleach, then Nevermind came out and I bought it like two days after it came out in the store, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is a good record, it’s really catchy.’ I would tell people, ‘The new Nirvana record is really good.’ They had just toured with The Melvins which was like my favorite band, so I didn’t listen to that record and go ‘This is going to be huge commercially.’ I was just like, ‘Oh, this is a good record.’ A lot of my friends felt exactly the same thing, and it really spread quickly within the RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) scene. It was coming out of every dorm room. Then, like three or four months later, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit number one on the radio. Now a record comes out and it peeks in its first week, Nevermind was like a record that had a build. Then, all of a sudden the backlash starts. People were like, ‘That got big on commercial radio, now it sucks.” No, the record didn’t change at all, it’s not like the mix on the record started to change as it got played more on commercial radio. You liked it three month ago, now it’s

not your secret handshake into your little elitist club, so you don’t want it anymore? That says something about the people, not about the band! It didn’t say anything about Nirvana. It says something about the elitist fickle nature of the hipster fan. That was a turning point in my life. Prior to that I had been a little bit of a music Nazi. I had been like, ‘ You didn’t like the Stooges or the Sex Pistols like five months ago.’ Like it was some huge span of time, ‘ You’re not old school from like five months ago. I’m not down, I’m gonna out you if you try and play that in front of people I know.’ I was a total punk, and then this Nirvana thing happened, and I was like, ‘ Wait a second.’ It was a big turning point for me. So I guess I am being very longwinded about getting to my point, but my point is that my Obey Giant campaign is well past the Bleach record phase of the project, I’m like maybe on the In Utero phase of the project. I’m looking at it like there are certain hipsters that don’t like what I am doing just because it has a level of recognition, but how can I sort of continue to move forward in a positive way and not intentionally move away from doing stuff that has a sort of hipster appeal, but then also not rely on that because that can totally stifle me. It is something at this point that would be impossible for me to recover. I would have to just start over with something new and I am comfortable with that. It’s fine. The shit talking on the blogs and stuff is usually from sixteen-year-olds that still live with their parents. They are like, ‘That ain’t real graf, that ain’t real graffiti.’ Well, little do they know I have done thousands of spots, I’ve been arrested thirteen times. It’s funny… a lot of it is a maturity thing.


WIDE-EYED NO.3  

Official Media Ecology publication for the 2008 conference at Santa Clara University. Essays from Lance Strate, Corey Anton Nikos Monoyios....