Friday, December 28, 2001

Blogging About Blogging II
Just came across the blog of a friend of a friend: Michael Dietsch. In recent entries, he recounts his vacation travels to Indiana, from where my folks hail.

Which reminds me... in May 2001, I participated in a Well discussion about zines and blogs. This is where my interest in blogging started.

Do you do a blog? Do you regularly visit any particular blogs? If so, let us know.
Visceral Lit
The kind folks at Diversity Inc. have been friendly enough to send me their recent poetry booklets, and Catherine May's "Guts," which hit my P.O. Box not too many weeks ago, is of particular interest. The more than 40 poems -- grouped in thematic sections addressing devotion, people, home, and life -- are as the title implies: visceral, emotional, and raw.

Many of the poems deal with the emotional scars left by relationships and abuse -- physical, sexual, and psychological. Even though Catherine's background is largely unknown, the writing hints at experience working -- or working through -- therapy and psychiatric treatment. "Psychoanalyzing a Private Poem" speaks to this -- the assistance poetry can offer in working through problems and the emotional weight that a poem can carry for the writer, as well as the reader.

The poems -- including "Hot," "An Almost Empty Office at Sunset," and "Droll" -- invoke the idea of escape through looking for one's self in the body of another, suicide, and alcoholism. Catherine has felt and seen pain. Her poetry is one way we can escape it ourselves.
A "Blast" from the Past
After posting an index of the second issue of Blast magazine, a Mad-like parody periodical from the early '70s, I emailed Marv Wolfman to see what he remembered about his work there. This is what he said:

"Nothing more than when the editor -- whose name I can't remember right now -- edited my copy he actually put in curse words, which I don't use. I wasn't pleased. However, I enjoyed working there."

So, um, if anyone else knows anything about Blast, let me know.
Sax Punk II
A continuation of the Media Diet interview with Jake Williams, tenor saxophonist for the punk band, the River City Rebels:

What's the worst show-related injury you've ever received?

The worst show related injury I've ever received was during this set we played in Warren, Vermont, in our friend Gavin's barn. The barn was pretty tightly packed, and the stage had just been repaired since the last show we played there -- but had also somehow shrunk in size. Anyway, during the very first song we played, I jumped up like I was some kinda rock star, but when I was coming down, someone knocked me over, and I fell face first into the drum set, simultaneously slamming my forehead into something hard enough to cut it open and give me a huge lump, and I also managed to practically dislocate my shoulder. I kinda stood aside for one song, and then danced cautiously for the rest of the set.

You were actually in a band called Cobra Skammander? Did the band consider any other names before they settled on that? That's pretty rad.

I honestly can take no credit for the name Cobra Skammander, unfortunately. But I think the name existed before any kind of band actually did.

You said the band wasn't able to play out very often lately because folks are in college. What are the River City Rebels studying? How does the school experience influence or inspire the band, if at all?

College is gross. I'm a writing major at Emerson in Boston. Everyone else is studying very random things. College really only makes me appreciate the opportunity that I have to play in a band that much more.

Fair enough. You also mentioned that you'd like to do more in response to the Sept. 11 tragedies. How have you been affected by the tragedies and the subsequent military actions? What role do you think the band could play in helping further the antiwar effort?

Sept. 11 was supposed to be my first day of class, but I only had the first one before the rest were cancelled. Everyone was freakin' and told me not to get on the subway. I just walked to a record store, bought the new Grade album -- and then I went to work. The truth is I haven't been affected by 911 any more than I have by any other world tragedies. Natural disasters occur all over the world, killing thousands at a time, and it's barely headline news in the US. Ethnic cleansing and civil war take place in Africa and Asia semi-frequently, and yet Americans can't be bothered with it. Just because this event occured within a few hundred miles of my home doesn't mean I would any more or less affected. I'm really unsure what the band can do except tell our fans to think for themselves about the events taking place -- and not buy into all the blind flag-waving going on right now. I'm not sure how bands in Boston are politically engaged, but if the punk scene is representative of Boston itself, it's just a bunch of "patriots" talking about justice and pride while they drink beer and watch football. I'm sure there are bands who are just as against the war effort, but I know none personally. My politics borrows from early punk ideals of an underground community that stands against a corporate government and consumer-based society. It's hard to communicate because punk rock now to me goes beyond being a music; it's an idea that transcends a musical style. The music is unimportant if the message is unpolluted. The message is unity of all people, a burning of all barriers that separate, be it by race, gender, age, class, or religion.

You went straight to work Sept. 11? Sounds like a pretty crummy job. What do you do to make it fun and worthwhile? Do you at least get to see movies for free?

There is little that makes the job fun or worthwile except the fact that I will never have to pay money to see a movie in any Boston theater again. Suckers.

Back to the engagement of the Boston-area punk-rock scene... What do you think small-town punks bring bigger-city scenes? Coming from Connecticut, what were some of the biggest differences you saw moving here?

Hmm. Small towns punks have a naivete that is quickly swallowed up once they realize how little fun big city shows actually are. The biggest change moving to Boston from Connecticut was mostly the increasing access I now had to all types of music shows -- but then quickly enough, a lack of desire to go to any after I'd seen the way kids act at them. There is little similarity between the two scenes. Kids in smaller towns sometimes wish they were in big cities, and vice versa. If you could mix the potential for big city shows with the integrity and eagerness of small town punks, you might have something there.

Feel free to email Jake. To learn more about the River City Rebels, check out the band's Web site.

Thursday, December 20, 2001

'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL
I'm heading to Wisconsin from Dec. 21-28, 2001. While I hope to update Media Diet while in the Midwest, if I don't, that doesn't mean that Media Diet is dead (long live Media Diet!). It just means that it's resting. Happy holidays!
Sax Punk
Jake Williams plays tenor saxophone for the punk band River City Rebels. Media Diet recently interviewed him about what it means to play sax in a punk band, the Boston punk scene, and what small-town punks bring big-city scenes. If you have additional questions, you can ask them in the Media Diet forum and I'll add his responses to the interview.

Simple statistics

Age, horoscope sign: I'm a vital 21-year-old, but my sign is kind of a different story. My birthday is May 21, which is on the cusp between Gemini and Taurus, and I've yet to determine which is my official sign. I usually just say Gemini.
Hometown: The lovely, yet terribly consumer driven South Windsor, Connecticut.
Saxophone make and model: Well, I usually just play a Yamaha student model tenor. I tend kick the crap out of it at shows, and right now it's in pretty bad shape, but I've got no substantial cash flow with which to repair it.
Mouthpiece make and model: I think it's a Selmer Paris. It's sweet.
Reed brand and hardness: Rico Royal, 3 yo.
Favorite saxophonist: Hmm. Angelo from Fishbone is a total badass, and I always really dug Derron, the original baritone sax player for Less Than Jake, but I'd probably have to say... Roland Alphonso, formerly of the Skatilites. He was one smooth mofo.

The questions

Having seen you guys play at the Middle East Upstairs and listening to your records, I've noticed some differences between the live shows and the recordings. Live, the Rebels evoke some kind of youth crew ska punk; on record, the band seems more assertive, a la Black 47 or the Strike. I've noticed a similar difference in your role in the band. Live, you're overshadowed by Brandon's fist pumping and trombone enthusiasm; on record, you stand out in several songs -- at the end of Long Lost Life and at the beginning of 22 Years, particularly. How do you see your role as saxophonist for the Rebels? What do you bring the band?

Well, Brandon might overshadow me physically because he's way bigger than me. I just like to dance, jump, and get down on stage, and Brandon likes to pump his fist and toss his bone around, and get right in the kids' faces. Just different approaches I guess. I tend to be left holding down the fort while Brandon drops his horn and gets in the crowd. As saxophonist for the Rebels, I'm supposed to play the horn lines, sing backing vocals, and dance in between. That's pretty much it, and I'd like to think I do it pretty damn well. I bring to the band some crappy emo glasses, and more dyed black hair. Go figure.

Are you ever concerned that Brandon's going to hit you or knock you into the wall when he's jumping around? He's got a lot of energy for a big guy.

After a show on a small stage, everyone in the band has pretty much had the crap beaten out of him. It's OK; there's never any hard feelings. Brandon will run me over sometimes. Drew will slam everyone in the back of the head with his guitar, and I tend fall over a lot. It's just how it is, and everyone's OK with it. No one really bitches about injuries. And yes, Brandon does indeed have a lot of energy for a big guy. He's very virile.

I understand you're relatively new to the band. How did you connect with the Rebels? What got you into sax and punk in the first place? Have you played sax in other bands?

I've been with the Rebels since February 2000. They posted an ad on, and I was bored, so I responded. Bopper liked my creepers, so they let me in. I started playing the saxophone because it was cooler than the clarinet. I started listening to punk because it was cooler than Pearl Jam. I've played sax in local Connecticut ska-punk bands, most notably the ridiculous Cobra Skammander and the illustrious Glueseaspiders.

Why did Dan McCool step away from the trumpet to sing? Now that he's switched from trumpet to vocals, is the horn section now a farm league for the next front man? Do you want to sing for the Rebels?

McCool switched to vocals following the original vocalist leaving the band. However, Bopper has now switched to vocals from guitar following McCool's departure. As far as me singing goes, I'm content to do my crappy screaming backing vocals. I'm really bad at screaming, but if I don't practice I'll never be any good at all.

Listening to the new record, there's a certain amount of youth crew trappings -- many of the songs deal with topics like being in a band, playing shows, hopes for the future of the band, going on tour, and getting into punk. That's a lot of songs about being in a band! What's the reason for the self-referential song writing? What's the biggest challenge or issue facing the folks in the band right now? Any pet causes?

Our former singer, Dan McCool is responsible for some of the lyrics on the album, and no one in the band is exactly sure why he got so stuck on the topic of being in a band as inspiration for writing songs. The biggest challenge facing the band right now is the lack of time we actually have to play shows, on account of almost everyone attending college in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The biggest issue is of course the atrocities being committed in Afghanistan, and the compromise of human rights for national safety. My pet cause would have to be the antiwar effort.

In the CD's thank-you list you give props to the Kendall for not firing you. The Kendall Cafe in Cambridge? If so, what do you do there? If not, what's the Kendall?

Actually, I'm thanking the Kendall Movie Theatre for not firing me (it's right up the street from the Kendall Cafe however). It's the indie movie theater I've been working at for almost year, and it's a very hip place with some of my favorite people in Boston being employed there. Essentially, my job is to cater to the petty whims of the predominantly rich white wannabe cultured intellectual crowd. This includes fetching their mineral water, making change from their $100 bills, and sweeping up the insane amounts of trash they manage to leave beneath their seats in the theater. It's great. Really.

Do you think the Rebels will ever play at the Kendall Cafe? There aren't many clubs in the Boston area that hold punk shows regularly. What do think of the state of the scene these days? What do you think needs to happen to improve it? What's the neatest stuff going on?

The Boston scene is in serious trouble right now. My friend Kim actually explained to me that no one in Boston actually plays music; they just wait for bands to come through so they can stand in the back in their hip mod clothes and talk shit about the kid wearing a ska shirt (not necessarily her exact words). But seriously, what bands are there playing Boston right now? The clubs are very unsupportive of the bands, but then again, so are the kids who go the clubs. The neatest things going on where I live are Aurora Seven Records and the Panda Squad, the best goddamn band in Boston.

Where are you from originally? How long have you lived here? In Small Town Pride, the band paints a pretty divisive picture of punks in rural and urban areas. How do you think the two groups are different? What do you think small-town punks bring bigger-city scenes?

I was born in Connecticut and then moved to Boston. But in general, small towns are better scenes. True, more kids might come to shows in a larger city, but the kids in smaller towns appreciate the shows so much more because they occur with less frequency. Small town kids aren't into the scenester shit that city kids are. There's just the scene without pretense to fashion or elitism. It's the jam.

What do you want to ask Jake?

(Thanks to Kathi Haruch of Victory Records for her help.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Other People's Reading Piles
Arizona-based Almost Normal Comics features a pretty solid review section that looks at comics and zines. The proprietor's kept it constant since April 2001, so I'll be sure to check back in a month to see what's crossed his transom.
Book 'Em II
Just got a new book in the mail from Upski Wimsatt, scribe of Bomb the Suburbs and No More Prisons. Titled Another World Is Possible, this new release from Subway & Elevated Press and New Mouth from the Dirty South is subtitled "conversations in a time of terror" and features more than 100 contributors responding to Sept. 11 and its impact. The book is accompanied by a video produced by the NY Independent Media Center, Paper Tiger TV, and Big Noise Films, as well as by a forthcoming hip-hop album. The book's editors will also be conducting a six-month, 36-city tour.

That's the neat part. In Upski's publisher's note, he puts it thusly: "This isn't just a book. It's a conversation sparking campaign. Carry the book around. Read it in public. It's not just a book to spark idle conversations. It's a book that raises the question: 'What can we do?'"

Indeed. What can we do?
Poli-tick, Tock, and You Don't Stop
In the news today, Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence has been overturned by a federal judge. The decision doesn't call for a new trial -- but there will be another sentencing hearing, at which Mumia could be sentenced to death again. (Mumia's been imprisoned since 1982 for the shooting death of a police officer.) For more information on the efforts to free Mumia, check out the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Math with Mammals
Sometimes you just have to love the Web. Here's a site at which you can watch a bear poop prime numbers. Huh.

What's your favorite weird Web site?

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

From the Reading Pile III

Low Tide #4
Another top-notch Paper Radio comic! This edition includes comics, fiction, and found art that touches on an early morning at work, 14 good things, a meeting in Arabia, a postal worker's adventures, art school, and food. The standout is "Tiger Threat," which entails a man's search for his tiger friend, an amplifier, and the dissipation of their friendship. The surprise ending of that story is worth the $2 alone. Box 254, Allston, MA 02134.

March Madness
Ben Jones' love of basketball is made manifest in this cryptic sketchbook-style comic. Combining images of Basketball Land, how a basketball feels when it hits you in the face, high-top shoes, a basketball juicer, ghosts, scooters, and people playing the game, this 16-page minicomic is a psychedelic ode to the game. Three points for pursuing an obsession! $1 to 23 Forrest Hills St. #2, Boston, MA 02130.

Modern Industry: Futurista!
A two-volume, 116-page anthology published early in 2001, this edition of Modern Industry would have benefited from better production. Photocopied with rubber stamp logos, these two comics would have made a nice perfect-bound book. Still, the comics are impressive. Jack Turnbull emerges as a self-publisher to watch with his piece "The Girl from Outer Space," which captures connection, frustration, and dedication quite well. Carrie McNinch's "My Dear" communicates the multiple, life-long forms of love that couples can feel -- almost all captured in drawings of photographs. F.C. Brandt's "And Another Thing" is a Jef Czekaj-like romp through time travel, politics, and good humor. Bruce Orr's "Linka" is a two-page existential quandary. And the seven-page "... Stalin Joe Stalin" by Trevor Alixopulos is an insightful parallel between historical world politics and the current business landscape. The art is often rough, but the ideas and concepts carried by these views of the future are strong. A quality roundup of comics creators from three countries, the collection also includes work by Jason Shiga, Mike Tolento, Marissa Falco, Jess Reklaw, and Dylan Williams. $8 to TFR Industries, Shawn Granton, 3719 SE Hawthorne Blvd. #243, Portland, OR 97214..

Perfect Plastic #2
A bit pricy, but this screenprinted, handmade wonder is one of the most beautiful minicomics I've ever seen. I'd like to blame this on one of the Paper Radio or former Fort Thunder crew members, but I really have no idea who produced this amazing piece of small-press ephemera. [I didn't when I read it; I do now: Alex Barry of Jamaica Plain.] Screenprinted in three colors throughout, the booklet juxtaposes raw comic art and mysterious writing such as, "A good robot friend is hard to come by. Sure you could purchase one in a supermarket gumball machine, but those ones, oh boy, they listen to the worst albums." The art reminds me slightly of Ron Rege Jr., Gary Panter, and Ben Jones. Alex informs me that there are four editions available.

  • #1, $5, xerox, color and black and white ( very few copies left)
  • #2, $15, color silkscreen book ( currently reprinting)
  • #3, $5, silkscreen cover, b&w xerox, blotter paper LSD insert, 83 pages (500 copies)
  • #4, $10, color and b&w xerox, on executive and photo glossy stock (100 copies)

    You can write Alex at 6 Pond St. #3, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. Tell him Media Diet sent you.

    Snow Bits 2001
    Another mind-blowing minicomic out of Massachusetts. This almost-anonymous work [I've since exchanged emails with a Donald P. Grady.] is drawn almost entirely on graph paper, with the artist using the boxes to fill in pixels -- or as panels for non-pixellated art. It's largely a stream of consciousness story that invoked Larry Marder's process comics and former members of the Fort Thunder collective. The plot involves snow, robots, a digi-dog, a frozen castle (the best page spread!), a book, pixellated goggles called Digi-Eyes, and a bird lady who makes gift boxes. The story flows scene to scene by falling into an aspect of the art, and the resulting read is one of free association, cascading progress, and ambivalent relevance. Wonderfully done! Email Donald to request a copy.

    Sparkly Angel #1
    A stunningly personal zine that described encounters with physical abuse, emotional abuse, eating disorders, sleeping pill overdoses, bisexuality, stuffed animals, racial discrimination, and Harvard Square. Sara's lived a lot for a 19-year-old, and discovering zinemaking seems to be good therapy. I read almost every word, and Sparkly Angel reminded me of the zine Navelgazing in many ways, from its charmingly sloppy collation to its revealing handwriten layout. A mix of personal writing, clip art, poetry, and child-like artwork, the 52-page Sparkly Angel helped me realize that my relationship and work problems are small -- and make me want to tell Sara that she's OK, beautiful, smart, and not alone. She says her mom helped her with the zine. That's pretty cool. $2 to Sara Berry, 9 Ellsworth Road, Nahant, MA 01908.

    Superflux #1
    This stark, black-and-white, bile-drenched pamphlet was produced by Mr. Graham, who published these "notes from the front lines of the analog resistance" just after he quit his job this summer. Oh, how he hated that job. Here are some other things Mr. Graham hates: cell phones, yuppies, the rich, pretentious design, JFK Jr., Survivor, and the Internet. But -- lest you think that this almost all-text screed is merely a rant or whining, know that Superflux is extremely smart and very, very funny. Mr. Graham does more with these four pages than most zines can do with 48. His writing is spritely, his sarcasm is whip smart, and his sense of humor outshines even the most dire of his commentaries. Of the eight easy pieces, my favorites include "If You Have a Cell-Phone, I Hate You," "Thank God for the Rich," and "" Extra punk points for the distressed typewriter on photocopier layout. Look for this in the Boston area or email Mr. Graham. He informs me that #'s 2 and 3 are now available for $1.

    Have you read these? What did you think?
  • From the Reading Pile II
    Adam Greene expressed interest in a spare Rentals CD I had, so we traded -- the CD for his comic. Little did I know that I'd be throwing in a review! Written by Adam and drawn by Sonny Andreotte and Mark Audette, The Prince (#1, August 2000, 28pp, $2.95) is a self-published story about a "serial killer that targets serial killers." Adam's writing is relatively slow-paced and cinematic, and Andreotte and Audette's pencils and inking reminds me of many a Faust, Warren Ellis, or Grendel comic -- lots of dramatic (bordering on awkward) shadowing and Howard Chaykin-meets-Rob Liefeld hash-mark texture. Adam says there will never be a #2, which is a shame because there's a mysterious hero, a mysterious undead boy (?), anda character named Corum -- a nice tip of the hat to Michael Moorcock. Send Adam $3 and demand more. And ask him about the New Vanguard, Ikan, Cyberosia Publishing, Broken Boy, Combustible Muse, and New Toys. I smell an indie comics co-op! (Soundtrack: Propaghandhi, "Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes)

    What comics are you reading?
    The Story of Spam
    Ever wonder why bulk emails and unwanted commercial messages are called spam? Brad Templeton did a bit of etymological research. According to his research using Google's new Usenet archives, the term dates back to the late '80s, when it was first used in MUD's.

    Monday, December 17, 2001

    Making the Move
    As you might know, there's a low-traffic mailing list associated with Media Diet. I've made the executive decision to largely scotch that list and move the conversational aspect of this project over to a Web discussion area. I'll probably keep the mailing list active until the membership dwindles -- or until I decide the Web discussion thing is a Bad Idea -- whichever comes first.

    In the Web discussion area, you can do more than post comments to entries here. You can start your own topics. And if you're lucky, something you post might make it back here -- and vice versa, ad infinitum. Whatever!
    Mention Me!
    So, um, I'm searching Google for references to, well, me. And I'm finding all sorts of fun stuff. I'd forgotten that I'd won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association's College Gold Circle Award in 1995 for a critical piece on P.J. O'Rourke. I stumbled across Thomas Madsen-Mygdal's blog, CommonMe, a delightful commentary on all things technological, entrepreneurial, and Thomas-ish. I found a picture of me and Oil Can Boyd in a dive bar in San Diego. And one of me, Jordan Crane, and Oil Can looking for another bar in that same city. I tracked down an interview I did with Skip Williamson in 1993. Some people make fun of my name in a chat transcript. And I found an article from the New York Times Magazine about the work I do; it makes me look like some sort of rabble rouser.

    Anyhoo, the upshot of this bit of self-gratification is that if you mention me in your blog or elsewhere online, I will mention you. All you have to do is let me know.
    The Name Game
    Ever wonder why Heathrow Airport is called Heathrow? Ever wonder why I'm called Heath Row? Me, too.
    Blast from the Past
    When I was in college, I wrote a paper about the history of zines. Imagine my surprise when I found it on the Web. Now if only DePaul University wouldn't confuse me with Chip Rowe, I'd be fine.
    Off the Shelf II
    Steve Portigal, who's been mentioned in Media Diet previously, recently started a blog called All This Chittah-Chatah. In it, he details his recent stand-up and improvised comedy performances, a new car battery, and holiday misadventures with And... he says he's "working on a large update to the foreign grocery museum." Keep your eyes -- and those wrappers -- peeled. Huzzah!
    See You in the Funny Pages III
    Tom McManamon of Big Wheel Records drew this quirky Web comic "on college rule notebook paper with a pen found on the ground." It's a cautionary tale, so be... careful!
    Weather Report
    It's snowing in Boston, and it's beautiful.
    See You in the Funny Pages II
    This Web comic hasn't been updated since October, but there's lots here to catch up on. Demian.5's When I Am King is a beautiful, horizontal-running comic with 63 parts broken up into five chapters. What I've read so far is an interesting Chris Ware/Larry Marder/Jim Woodring-like process comic that involves a man and a horse. I'll be checking out all of this -- good to learn about, late though it be.
    Free Radio II
    My friends Charlie and Andrew suggested I check out several other Web-based radio broadcasts, so I'm passing their suggestions on to you. You can find Vin Scelsa's freeform show online, as well as Fairleigh Dickenson University's radio station. Charlie says WFUV-FM has become a sort of refuge for great NYC DJ's who can't get hired. And pal Andrew gives props to the Milwaukee School of Engineering's WMSE-FM. Wonder if it's similar to WMBR-FM. You know, engineers and all.

    A Napkin for a Nickel?
    The fellows at Cardhouse recently turned me on to this online museum of napkin holders that also contain coin-operated machines. You can wipe your mouth, and you can buy perfume. Now that's progress!
    Ignore the War VI
    The president and publisher of the Sacramento Bee was booed, hissed, and heckled Saturday when he mentioned threats to civil liberties inherent in the federal government's investigation of terrorist attacks. He made the seemingly incendiary remarks during a commencement speech at California State University in Sacramento. "When Heaphy raised questions about racial profiling, limits on civil rights and the establishment of military tribunals, the audience interrupted by clapping and stomping their feet for five minutes." So much for our liberal college campuses!
    Pooch Music
    Just Dogs Records recently released a CD called Just Dogs Touching Tunes: 2001. Music for pooches! Some quotes from the news release: "Our CD ... contains specialized music ... to comfort [your] canine companion in the time and space of each song. ... [The] CD is produced to bring about a greater consciousness in dogs making life more manageable for both the dog and the owner/companion. ... Take the time to use our CD and touch format with the dog and sense for yourself the calming effect and a feeling that will pulse back and forth between each of you, while lightening the burdens of the heart." For more mammalian music, check out the Furry Discography.

    Friday, December 14, 2001

    Free Radio
    Salon recently published an article on how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act might shut down college radio station Webcasts because the stations' can't afford the exorbitant streaming fees that their commercial counterparts can more easily bankroll. This is bad news, especially because college radio remains one of the bastions of independent broadcasting -- and because if you don't live on or near a campus with a station, the Web is one of the only ways you can access the broadcasts. Take some time today to tune in to a Webcast. I recommend WNUR-FM from Northwestern University, WMBR-FM from MIT, WMFO-FM from Tufts, WFMU-FM (which isn't a college station but is still independent and community-oriented), and Allston-Brighton Free Radio, a great microbroadcaster in the Boston area.
    Hot Water Muse
    Turns out that Scott Sinclair, the dude who does the wonderful artwork for the Hot Water Music records, lives and works in Boston! Enough Fanzine recently interviewed Scott, and you can eye some of his artwork online. Also of note, Scott runs a local label that's released material by Pilot to Gunner and my friend Brad's band the Also-Rans. So I'm three degrees of separation from Hot Water Music. Not bad for a Friday afternoon!
    Talking Heads Are Men
    The White House Project recently released a study analyzing who participates in the high-power Sunday-morning talk shows such as CBS’s Face the Nation, ABC’s This Week, CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, and Fox’s News Sunday. It's a pretty sad showing -- 10% of guests on these shows are women. Then, the weekend after the report was released, the shows gave women even shorter shrift: "Out of the 23 guests appearing on Sunday morning Dec. 9, NBC’s Meet the Press was the only one this week that featured a woman guest. Thus, this Sunday women comprised only four percent of all guest appearances." Just goes to show how few women are given positions of political power and how unbalanced the political talk shows are in their coverage.
    A San Francisco-based organization called the Cultural Conservancy is working to preserve Native American songs. In so doing, they're documenting songs about the spiritual connection the Native Americans they're working with feel with the land on which they live. This connection can then be used as a tool to better preserve Native American lands. An interesting methodology... and an interesting idea: that the places we frequent can be captured and coded in cultural artifacts such as artwork and songs. The art becomes part of our culture, and our culture can transmit the value of a place.

    Thursday, December 13, 2001

    Book 'Em
    In my copious free time, I edit books on the side, just for kicks. My "first" book, a collection of short stories by a middle-aged brittle diabetic and cancer survivor in South Dakota named Dan Buck, is now available for sale on the Web. Check out the offerings from Highwater Books if you're interested.
    Blogging About Blogging
    If you're interested in reading about what people are trying to do with their blogs and how blogs affect the people who make them -- and read them -- pop on over to Keep Trying, a wonderful new meta-blog I just came across.

    Monday, December 10, 2001

    Lap Dog
    A friend of mine is friends with someone who operates a dog kennel. This weekend, that kennel held a fundraiser event at which people could bring in their dogs to be photographed with a person dressed up as Santa Claus. My friend helped pose the dogs with the Santa, and the results, he says, were hilarious. I'm pushing for some of the photographs to be digitized and posted online so they can be shared with the world. Until that happens, you can whet your taste buds here, here, and, yes, here. Bow wow wow. I mean, ho ho ho.
    Caught in a State of Address
    My mailing address has changed, signaling the completion of my move -- physically and mentally -- from Somerville to Cambridge, which started back in, um, September 2000. No longer holding a P.O. Box in the 02144, my new mailing address is

    Heath Row
    P.O. Box 390205
    Cambridge, MA
    02139 USA

    You may send any and all items for commentary and consideration to that new address. Fill my P.O. Box with love. Please.

    Friday, December 07, 2001

    Email of the Day
    From Mike Topp, author of the new book "I Used to Be Ashamed of My Striped Face" (published by Elimae Books):


    When Banzan was walking through the Union Square greenmarket he overheard a conversation between a vendor and his customer. "Do you have chocolate mousse?" asked the customer. "We have chocolate pudding," replied the vendor. At these words Banzan became enlightened.

    16 O'S, 16 0'S

    O O 0 O 0 O O
    0 O 0 0 O 00
    0 O 0 0 OO 0
    0 O O O O O
    0 0 0 0 O


    As it turns out they have relaxed the restrictions and I think your son should reapply. Make sure he wears protective clothing since he will most likely appear before one with a bird head, one with a rat head, and one with the head of a snake.



    Thursday, December 06, 2001

    Make Your Own Media
    If you're interested in learning how to deal with the different ways of reproducing zines and comics, Jordan Crane of Non fame offers a free, downloadable guide to zine and comics repro. It's a Crane, David Choe, Ron Rege Jr., and Brian Ralph joint.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2001

    Patent Insanity
    British Telecom claims that it holds a patent for hyperlinks on the Net, and they're taking the ISP Prodigy to court because they're using links illegally. Huh? Yeah. I hold a patent on the word "the." So stop using it.
    Winging IT
    The Bergen Linux Users Group in Norway recently experimented with how carrier pigeons can distribute information using the Internet Protocol. It took an hour and 42 minutes to transfer a 64-byte packet of information. Doesn't look like that supplant the Net any time soon.