Anything not covered by music, reading, or links.
I would love to see Michael Heizer's City in my lifetime. From what little that's leaked out, it seems like no other work I know. While very few images are available, and he'd really rather not want you on his land (as these art-tourists found), there's a satellite image, there's a good profile from the New York Times, and some other images have shown up here. During the reign of Bush and Cheney, City's site came under threat from the proposed rail link to carry radioactive waste to Yucca Mountain, but the economic downturn may have saved it, with the Yucca Mountain project being scaled back.
Oh, man. Way too much has been going on, and it's impossible to keep up with the culture that's been sustaining me. Because it's easy to listen and work, most of this shows up in Music Listening.
Who'd'a thunk? The photo record (at the now-sadly-defunct Pandomag.com) shows that Joel Phelps is now playing a Jazzmaster. And a fine one it is, to be sure. I'm interested in hearing how it affects the sound of the songs.
Tops on the addicted-to list is Naked City's Radio, more than just a great introduction to the band--there are some masterpieces here. More to come.
Two months go by, and what's going on? Well, a lot. But for today, I found this marquee of a local theater worth sharing, mainly for the first "film" listed:
Terrorist Pokemon 2000--sure they're cute one minute, but the next they're blowing up a crosstown bus. It's about as good as some of my past favorites, Scent of a Woman Assassin and Reality Bites the Piano.
What's in the bag today? Naked City, Painkiller, and Spy vs. Spy. Apparently I'm on a Zorn/noise kick. A friend of mine loaned me Spy vs. Spy some years ago, and I returned it to him before he left town. At the time, it seemed astonishingly brutal--a true assault of noise. (I loved it, of course.) On listening now, it's still noisy--gloriously so--but it's not nearly as shocking to me. (This is not to say that it's completely impenetrable, jumbled, or without structure--there's a definite musicality to it.) It's interesting, though, how acclimation reveals structure. Or, put another way, as Brian Eno has said, any two sounds occurring in a sequence, repeated often enough, will sound inevitably linked.
Bitch though the critics will, I dug Eyes Wide Shut. Not perfect, but real good, and it is a lot of work to meet it. It's not the commercial porn flick people thought they were going to get. Particularly striking in the Cruise/Kidman scenes were the way relationship tensions turn into absurd arguments, almost laughable, and then instantly become devastating. The air of sustained menace is impressive, too--great use of Ligeti, which also got positive reviews on the Zorn list, but I'm sure alienated the critics. Maybe the film's pro-monogamy stance put people off, too. Oh, how unfashionable...
I'm speechless about Kubrick.
I'm also working on restoring an old (~1960) Eico HF-81 stereo amplifier, as part of my continuing journey into tube audio. I picked this up at ebay, for whatever that's worth. It's apparently been in a basement for years, and it was cobweb city under there, but I've cleaned it out, and I'm in the process of mapping the resistances in the circuit. Unlike some other audio equipment I've had the displeasure of repairing, this was (as a kit) meant to be worked on by humans. By all accounts, this can be a sweet-sounding amp, but I'm not powering it up until I have everything mapped, and I've replaced the power cord, which is iffy at best.
I've been using the Web extensively for research into general tube information, components, prices, advice, etc. A good source of general HF-81 Information can be found at that link, and I've gotten some pointers and some very good email suggestions from Roger Stevens, who has a page of modifying the HF-81 that you shouldn't start without checking.
It's been a while since updates. I've been under a load of work, which shows no sign of changing anytime soon--although I have managed to finish off some of my commitments. Use, a project of mine supported by a grant from the "Pennsylvania Council on the Arts", has been online since August. Check it out.
Surrounded by Memory, my piece in this year's Aliquippa Embraces Art festival, has been reinstalled in the Three Rivers Arts Festival gallery, in downtown Pittsburgh at 707 Penn Avenue. It's in the room at the back of the gallery. Go on in, sit down, and check it out. It'll be there until October 12.
The opening was great, except for a partial failure of one of my tape machines. But the piece is fully functional from a listener's point of view. I was worried about the mix, because there was no facility for mixing anything other than volume, the tape machines we were using had no noise reduction, and the tapes were CrO2--I was sure the piece was going to come out sounding like an Edison cylinder, but that turned out not to be the case.
I'm also listening to crickets, cicadas, trains across the valley, one or two light planes, and distant thunder. The perfect summer soundtrack.
A few days ago I saw D.A. Pennebaker's film of Dylan, Don't Look Back. I liked its lack of context--you don't know who half the people are; there's no narration; you're just thrown into events. Some of the famed "Dylan's a jerk" scenes seemed tongue-in-cheek to me, although the session with the Time magazine reporter seemed like pointless pseudohip revolutionary posing. Maybe it's just the naïveté of the times--in those days maybe Time magazine and its readers in the straight world actually seemed like the enemy. On the other hand, Time's corporate parent Time Warner and other megamedia conglomerates (along with corporate lobbying interests) have enough control to make them worth watching closely. (I should throw in some links here.)
The style of the film--the there-you-are, noncontextualized freewheelingness--reminds me of that first NPR broadcast in 1970. I talk about this sort of thing at some length on my Reading page.
A fine quote from Albert Einstein, from the book "Before the Big Bang: The Origins of the Universe" by Ernest J. Sternglass:
Don't do what I have done. Always keep a cobbler's job where you can get up in the morning and face yourself that you are doing something useful. Nobody can be a genius and solve the problems of the universe every day. Don't make that kind of mistake. When I accepted the position at the University of Berlin, I had no duties really. Nothing to do except wake up and solve the problems of the universe every morning.
I'm not reading the book, but came across it quoted in the latest copy of my alumni magazine. Yup, I actually read it, on occasion.
A sticker I saw as I was going home this evening:
- Sell yourself until you can afford to buy yourself back.
Intense video artist Gary Hill, mighty writer Ishmael Reed and Tim Berners-Lee, without whom you wouldn't be reading this, are among this year's MacArthur Fellows.