Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Clip-Art Comics II
In conjunction with Free Comic Book Day this weekend, but by accident, pretty much, the Million Year Picnic is hosting an in-store signing with David Rees of My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable.

I'll be in San Diego for RealTime, but you should stop by the shop, snag some free, poorly printed comics, and meet the man behind the trendsetting clip-art comics that have got all the kids buzzing. The signing will run from 2-4 p.m., Saturday, May 4, at 99 Mount Auburn St., in Cambridge.

Despite many retailers' enthusiasm for FCBD -- and despite my thinking that it will do absolutely nothing to introduce new readers to the medium -- this is a classic unintentional coup done up in grand Picnic style. Imagine celebrating one of the most meaningless mainstream comics retail and distribution gestures with one of the snarkiest, lowest-fidelity, independent comics producers. Heck. Don't imagine it. Do it. I wish that I could.
Ravaging Radio III
Astute Media Dietician Clint Scaff recently sent me several essays written by Davey D, a Bay Area hip-hop activist and journalist -- and moderator of some of the sessions at the Hip Hop As a Movement conference Clint recently attended. The essays are as follows:

  • The Crack Down on Internet Radio
  • Internet Radio's Shaky Future
  • The Crack Down on Internet Radio Part 2: How Radio Really Works

    Davey D brings several important qualities to the debate. First of all, he's an active traveler, and he comments that, "One is likely to hear the same 20 songs down to the rotation whether you're in Boston, Philly or Madison, Wisconsin." This indicates that national, syndicated, commercial radio programming -- while efficient and profitable -- negates any possibility for regional musical trends to truly get attention outside of noncommercial or college -- or pirate -- radio stations. Secondly, he's rooted in the indie/DIY hip-hop scene, so he has access to recordings the rest of us can't access because the small-scale media and music activists don't have access to the large-scale, commercial, mainstream media. People like Davey D can dig for the gems -- but can he share them with us? On the Web, yes. He can. "Many of the people I come across are emphatically dissatisfied with what they are having to hear day in and day out on their local commercial radio stations," Davey writes. "Many have gone through great lengths to rig up their home stereos to their computers and have it programmed so they can pick up Internet radio stations from all around the world."

    Davey goes on to say that much of the politically oriented hip hop -- music that might very well parallel the political rock created during the early days of commercial underground radio -- is ignored by commercial and even some college stations. His involvement in grassroots politics highlights the need to remain politically and culturally aware when you're choosing what media you use as a tool -- or even solely as entertainment. Lastly, Davey bemoans the loss of the personal in commercial radio -- the connection with the DJ, the community service aspect of broadcasting, the feeling that there is a family of listeners tuned in right here, right now.

    While Davey goes far to suggest that Net radio might be the tool we need to combat these dire radio forces, Rene Spencer Saller goes even further, even calling the RIAA "demonic." Rene touches on several examples of Web broadcasters who've come into contact with the RIAA, the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel, the Library of Congress and other actors involved in the recent licensing fee proposals.

    The clock is ticking. There's a hearing -- one of many, I'm sure -- at the Library of Congress on May 10, and the decision date is May 21. That's three weeks. It's not too late to get involved and do your part to save Net radio.
  • Near-DIY Distribution II
    Ever wonder about the history of comic book distribution? About the emergence of the direct market and the arguable ghettoization of comics as they were removed from mainstream retail? A bunch of fine folks have been developing a "historical view and predictive query" of and about comics distribution over at Comicon.com.

    Participants include Jim Hanley, Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, Rory Root, Gary Colabuono, and other comics retail, publishing, and creative notables. I hope to track down some folks involved in the DIY, indie, and minicomics distro scene -- a la Wow Cool, Spit and a Half, and Puppy Toss -- but as it stands, it's not a bad introduction to the development and current state of comics distribution as an industry.
    Event-O-Dex! II
    An upcoming DIY and other media gathering you might be interested in:

    May 8, Cambridge, Massachusetts: What Movement? Social Movements Today
    Panel discussion with folks from the Cambridge Peace Commission, Teens Against Gang Violence, and United for a Fair Economy
    I've got to skip this because of the Handstand Command residency, but you should go -- and then head over to the Abbey for the Anchormen's political punk-pop.
    From the In Box: Music to My Ears V
    Thank you very much for your review. I was doing a search for one of our MP3's and came across your site. Not only was I pleased with your musical taste; I appreciate your focus on the media and literature. -- Andre Obin of Matters & Dunaway
    North End Moment XIII
    Despite seeing a squadron of window cleaners in the Scotch & Sirloin building yesterday, it seems as though the Crystal Bright Window Cleaning crew is here today. Right now there's a fellow rappelling down the backside of the building, squeegeeing glass. If you come in the back door, watch out for mystery drips.
    Ravaging Radio II
    To protest proposed record-label royalty payments, hundreds of Net radio stations plan to pull their plugs tomorrow, May 1. Frequent Net radio listeners will either hear total silence or non-stop public-service announcements. The strategic silence comes 20 days before U.S. Copyright Office is slated to make a decision about recently proposed licensing fees -- which seem designed to quelch independent Net broadcasters and to ensure that traditional commercial broadcasters find firmer footing on what could -- and perhaps should -- be radio's next democratic band.

    The recent Net radio activity reminds me of the move from the AM band to FM back in the late '60s (Not that I was around, but I did just read Michael Keith's wonderful book "Voices in the Purple Haze," which recounts the emergence of the seemingly oxymoronic "underground commercial radio."). Originally, AM broadcasters merely duplicated their signals on the new band if they also owned an FM transmitter. Then the FCC passed laws outlawing dual-band broadcasts, opening up the FM dial for new, original, and competitive broadcasts. One would think that this would help set precedent for the current Net radio situation.

    But, no. And I think that's the problem. Instead of guaranteeing that existing FM broadcasters have a lock on any and all Net radio broadcasts, why not consider the Net a new band, limit dual broadcasts from commercial endeavors, and encourage the proliferation of independent broadcast voices, styles, and operations? The people promoting these licensing fees aren't doing so to protect musicians; they're doing so to perpetuate the corporate machine engineered by mainstream record labels, record distributors, and commercial radio stations. It used to be that DJ's would play the records people were buying. Now it's a vicious circle, and the public is largely limited to buying records they learn about through the corporate radio machine.

    That's a disservice to the listening public, to musicians, and to the Net.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XVII
    Sunday, April 14: The Royal Tenenbaums
    Wes Anderson's most-recent film is no Rushmore, but it's not entirely fair to hold him to his past work, especially when the Royal Tenenbaums is such a good film. There's just something about this new wave of ensemble casts. When you put Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Bill Murray, and Gene Hackman in the same room -- and give them the same script -- magic will naturally happen. Add to that Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny Glover, and Anjelica Huston's delightfully understated -- and underscripted -- roles, and you've got quite a story. For the most part, the movie reminded of J.D. Salinger's stories about the Glass family, and I'm quite curious how much of Salinger's work inspired Anderson and Wilson. I need to see this again because I watched it on a little seat-back monitor on a flight to France. Sure I missed quite a bit. Props to the soundtrack, too. Worth seeing.

    Friday: Boogiepop Phantom
    Alex and I braved one of the MIT Anime Club's unofficial showings to catch several episodes of this mysterious anime, and we weren't disappointed. The three eps we saw -- seemingly the last three (Vol. 10 Poom Poom, Vol. 11 Under the Gravity's Rainbow, and Vol. 12 A Requiem: Sleep ends everything) -- didn't really help us understand who the characters were, what was happening, or why, but that's part of the appeal of anime like this and Serial Experiments: Lain, which also confuses me to no end. Apparently, the anime is about a bunch of people trying to cope with and process a series of murders that occurred five years before the anime actually begins. The process of self-discovery is represented and the story progresses as formerly repressed memories become uncovered -- quick-cut flashback sequences abound -- usually in the presence of a "Boogiepop," which appears to be a kind of vengeful phantom. The little interstitial musical bit -- where commercials must have aired originally -- is awesome, especially the stilted robotic voiceover. All that said, Alex and I also did a little people watching. I love going to the MIT Anime Club screenings, but occasionally I'm a little thrown by American otaku. One fellow, upon arrival, changed his shirt right in front of everyone, applied underarm deoderant, and proceeded to comb his hair agressively. He later left a couple of pizza crusts on the seat next to him. You don't see that everyday. Just as you don't see surreal, impressionistic anime like Boogiepop Phantom all the time.

    Monday, April 29, 2002

    Rock Shows of Note XIII
    Speaking of Elephant Six, the musical collective that I'm in, Handstand Command, is celebrating its second anniversary this month. We've got a month-long residency at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville every Wednesday night in May, and we've scheduled shows featuring bands in the collective as well as some of our friends' and favorite bands -- almost 20 musical groups total.

    The residency kicks off this week Wednesday with the Tardy, the Mary Reillys, the Seana Carmody Trio, and Mark Robinson. Hope to see you there!
    Rock Shows of Note XII
    I am so glad that I woke up in time for this show Saturday night. I've gotten into the habit of laying down for a disco nap before going out some weekend evenings (almost every Friday given the workday and all), and it's a rare day indeed that I don't actually end up sleeping through the very event or activity I was saving up strength for. Sigh. Disco naps: Don't take 'em.

    In any event, I arrived at TT the Bear's almost at the end of a solid set by the Essex Green. One of Alex's current favorites, they are decidedly not British -- but are instead part of that wonderful musical collective the Elephant Six. A little sleepy stumbly, I quite enjoyed their performance but wasn't really paying enough attention to comment wisely on their part of the show.

    Ditto for Ladybug Transistor, whom I've seen play before -- but which I swear didn't have as many people on stage the last time I saw them live. Ladybug shares several band members with Essex, as is true for many Elephant Six projects, and they, too, delighted with a shimmering set of dreamy, slightly off-kilter pop. Wonderful. Much better than sleeping.

    Lesson learned: I'm not very good at pool right after waking -- or while drinking. (I have a bell-curve theory about the relationship between drinks drunk and pool hall performance, but that's a story for another day.) Corollary: The cue ball isn't the purple ball. It's the white ball. To paraphrase Al Franken: Oh, the lessons I'll learn!
    Mapping Talent
    Fast Company featured Richard Florida and his work mapping talent, social networks, and social capital more than a year ago. He's gaining new attention today because of the imminent publication of his new book, "The Rise of the Creative Class," and a recent special report issued by the Austin American-Statesman. The report positions Austin, one of my favorite places, as one of the new capitals of creativity -- what folks have dubbed "cities of ideas."

    Citing Robert Putnam, arguably the father of social capitalism, the report serves up a veritable recipe for building -- or at least recognizing -- a city of ideas:

  • More interested in other cultures, places
  • More likely to "try anything once"
  • More likely to engage in individualistic activities
  • More optimistic
  • Higher interest in politics
  • More artists, musicians, writers
  • Wages 30 percent higher
  • Volunteering increasing, but less than in Old Economy cities
  • Church attendance decreasing
  • Community projects decreasing more
  • Club membership decreasing more
  • Population growth 64 percent higher

    And for you locals, don't worry: Boston made the list. So it's Boston and Austin this time around.

    Humor decoder: That last line is a vague reference to an old singer-songwriter compilation CD that -- in title, at least -- positioned the two city's folk music scenes as sparring partners. It's not true. And it's not that funny a joke to quip on something so obscure and unrelated. But explaining bad jokes makes them better. At least in Austin. Or so I've heard.
  • From the In Box: Mention Me! VIII
    Notice I was praising your blog after describing Dan Pink's Just One Thing. Since Dan only writes one thing a day, I go to your blog to read... the other hundred hip things Dan forgot to write about. The "he" who forgot was Dan.

    You guys together are like one big vitamin supplement of smart and cool stuff. Also, you guys do something most very published writers can't do -- give good blog (i.e., still sound like real live people).
    -- Halley Suitt

    Ah. Now I understand. Sometimes I worry that I'm a little too scattershot with my Media Diet entries. Thanks for the kind words.
    Mention Me! VII
    Halley recently characterized Media Diet as "Heath Row's The Other Hundred Hip Things He Forgot." Not sure I know what she's getting at, but I know what I like -- and I kinda like that description.
    Several upcoming DIY and other media gatherings you might be interested in:

    May 9, Allston, Massachusetts: Citizens Media Corp and Allston-Brighton Free Radio Media Town Meeting
    Hand-on media production workshops

    May 15, Boston: Media Bistro Cocktails for Media
    Meet the new local organizer and make some new media connections!

    May 15, Somerville, Massachusetts: Boston Blogs Bash
    Blogging, bowling. 'Nuff said.

    June 22-23, Bowling Green, Ohio: 2002 Underground Publishing Conference
    Sharing Our Tools, Refusing the Master's: Building Media Structures for a Better Future
    The Best of the Web II
    I was a nominating judge for the Webbys again this year, and the nominees in the Community category were just announced:

  • BeliefNet
  • Burning Man
  • Idealist.org
  • Nerve.com
  • The Warren Ellis Forum

    You can weigh in with your vote by participating in the People's Voice election.
  • Big Brother Is Watching V
    A more appropriate headline might be "Big Brother Is Washing," because now a handful of Southern Californian beaches -- including Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, El Segundo, Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo -- will soon be monitored by 24-hour, 360-degree-view video cameras. "Using a new federal grant of $557,000, Los Angeles County has announced it will install 27 panoramic, wide-angle cameras along 72 miles of coastline over the next year," reports Shannon Waxman in the Washington Post. Private areas such as restrooms and private homes will not fall under the watchful eyes of the cameras.
    North End Moment XII
    Just shared the elelator with a guy going to the ninth floor, all decked out with window-cleaning gear -- including a little wooden seat thing. He was munching on a Brazilian pressed sandwich wrapped in tinfoil.
    From the In Box: Rock Shows of Note XI
    Forgot to mention -- we (the High-Steppin' Nickel Kids) were playing at Beckett's (Packard's Corner bar) the night of the high flames -- were loading our gear out into the snow when all the lights on the block flickered, dimmed, then came back on; then we heard thunder and the whole sky turned orange. A column of flame shot into the air -- must've been at least 5-7 stories high because we could see it over the buildings. I was honestly expecting to get wiped out by a nuclear shockwave, but we weren't. Joe, our stoic Hoosier drummer who works at a chemical plant for a living (he's a chemical engineer) was just like, "Oh, a sub-station blew up. Happens all the time," and went back inside to hear some band from Florida.

    Later, we went back to where Morgan (guitar and vocals) and Joe live with a bunch of other people,
    right behind the substation, and found a couple of other roommates getting out of a cab, having been stuck in Harvard Square (or Park Street?) because some woman threw herself under a train. All in all, a creepy night. -- Timmy Nickels
    From the In Box: From the Reading Pile IX
    Just wanted to say hi and thanks for the continued attention and positive comments.

    As far as the danger of Superflux becoming a sterotypical punk zine, well, I hope that's not going to happen, but it may have more overtones of one in the future than the first issue had. I'm starting to wish I hadn't used up so much of my angry pieces in the first issue, because at this point I feel less angry in general and also less inspired to
    be angry on cue. On the other hand, there are still things in life (B.U., say) that get me riled up and I already have a bunch of notes for a few screed-type columns. So, we'll see.

    Interview-wise, as with everything else, I'm just fighting my own inertia. I have a few in the can and ready to go -- it just takes getting comfortably drunk and spending an evening or two transcribing them. I found it interesting that this time around, Aaron Cometbus noted that his previous interview issue hadn't gone over so well, and I can see why it mightn't have. But the way I see it, his zine has a real personality/character/feel to it by now (sorry for the lack of articulation but it's Monday a.m. and I'm temping at some random office), and people miss that when it's gone. Early issues (from what I'm told) of Cometbus featured other contributors and were fairly haphazard.

    That's where I see myself and Superflux right now. I mean, I'll never have the cult of personality that AC does, but I figure at least at this point I can play around a little with format and content, as long as it's all helping me do what I want Superflux to do. I was
    this close to an interview with Richard Branson, for crying out loud -- can you imagine? What an awesome thing that would have been.

    So, I take your point in general, but in particular, at the moment, I think you're doomed to read the odd interview in upcoming issues (assuming you stick around, which I hope you will). Record reviews: Nah. I decided initially that if I loved or hated a record or group enough, I'd just write a column about it/them, just like any other topic. But I'm not going to have an actual reviews section anytime soon. I agree with you; having a record reviews section is pretty close to just running ads, and I'm not about to do that any time soon either.

    Blah blah blah. Thanks for continuing to follow this modest effort, man. Thanks again for reading my zine and my response to your response to my zine. It's all very complicated.
    -- Timmy Nickels
    Email of the Day II
    From a message transmitted to the Nettime mailing list:


    Stop peeping over the wall AT the Internet.
    Be a part of the modern day Gold Rush. How?
    The Zeitgeist Shifts
    One of the Boston area's best and brightest hot spots for improvised music, free jazz, and other performance and exhibitions was destroyed by a fire Friday. From an email transmitted to the Boss Improv mailing list:

    The Zeitgeist Gallery was destroyed in a fire Friday afternoon. The most important thing is that no one was hurt. Apparently no one who lived in the building has had to move. Those of us who were going to the show for Friday night (such as Brendan Murray solo) were on hand to witness what is left, though we arrived after the fire was put out. I don't need to tell you it was a very upsetting sight.

    I just wanted to notify a large number of people who would be intimately familiar with the Zeitgeist and everything it has represented for improvised and experimental music in Boston. Those who have booked gigs there will be attempting to figure out in the coming days how to relocate their shows; we can all show our support by being patient and thinking of places to play.

    My first public improvised music gig ever was at the Zeitgiest, Good Friday, 1997, with Masashi Harada and Bhob Rainey, with Maria Klein doing projections. As the Good Friday marchers moved slowly past the windows, the squad car lights blinked outside, and the sounds and lights inside flickered and moaned, I thought to myself that I had found something I wanted to do forever. That's what I was looking at today between the busted-out windows and the water on the floor.
    -- Mike Bullock

    This weekend's shows were relocated to Twisted Village and Mama Gaia's. Additional upcoming shows will also be rescheduled to take place in alternate venues. For updates on Zeitgeist goings on, be sure to check out the gallery's Web site.
    Science Fiction Fandumb
    Oh, George Lucas. When will you learn? When will you learn that encouraging fans to create their own Star Wars-related films will only help your fandom and film franchise? You shut down Star Wars Generation. You made Jef "R2D2 Is an Indie Rocker" Czekaj nervous enough to change his comic's name. And now you're stomping like a stormtrooper all over online fan films. For shame.

    Friday, April 26, 2002

    From the Reading Pile IX

    Book of Black
    Three pieces Gabrielle Bell wrote and drew back in 1999 as part of the series including Book of Insomnia and Book of Sleep. The one pagers "Psychotherapy Hour" and "Arm Trophy" are jokey commentaries on pop psychology and intergenerational gold digging. The 28-page "Just One Reason Part II," based on Roman Polanski's film "Repulsion," tells the tale of Kate, who, recently freed from prison, wears a hometracking device. Gabrielle details her starry-eyed roommate, dead-end job, encounters with a creepy landlord, and her eventual descent into madness. While the art is quite good -- the last panel on p. 7 is especially solid -- I couldn't really connect with Kate as a character, perhaps the reasons for her disintegrating sanity were unclear. Perhaps I need to watch "Repulsion." $3 to Gabrielle Bell, 3288 21st St. #217, San Francisco, CA 94110.

    Books of Hope Project
    A joint program of the Somerville Arts Council and the Mystic Learning Center, Books of Hope offered Somerville youth between the ages of 13 and 23 the chance to work with a professional writer, videographer, and photographer. At the end of the 16-week course, during which participants learned how to write, publish, and sell their own books, Books of Hope published the following six chapbooks.

    Hear My Voice: Writers of All Ages from Somerville, MA, and Beyond
    Edited by Roubbins Jamal Lamothe, this anthology collects the work of almost 20 writers between the ages of 7 and 45. Topics include stereotypes, abusive relationships, role models, friendship, standards of beauty, parents, communication, and the educational system. Sonny Abraham's "Showtime Part I," a celebration of basketball and finding self-esteem and enjoyment in athletics, is the stand out of the bunch. (40pp, $3.75.)

    Life Through the Eyes of Two Girls
    Evelinette Marrero contributes the eight-page "Life of a Girl," which details the effects divorce, abusive relationships, and teen pregnancy can have on a young woman. Anarosa Tevez's three-page "Dear Diary" tells the story of a 16-year-old girl who reunites with her father after 14 years. Tevez's piece makes good use of the diary device and feels more personal than Marrero's story even if it addresses fewer issues. (24pp, $2.50)

    Protecting Pompilus
    Illustrated by Nick Thorkelson, Vigito Pompilus' screenplay is a science fiction/adventure story about cloning and a conspiracy that runs over more than 15 years. Chase scenes, gunfire, and martial arts bouts make up the bulk of this story. (52pp, $4)

    Spoken Truth
    Amarilys Rivera and Woodline St. Louis collaborate to make this collection of 34 poems and stories. For the most part, the writing addresses relationships, friendship, and the emotions that both can bring. St. Louis' "A Cool Winter Breeze" is a beautiful almost-haiku. Rivera serves up a spunky battle poem with "Haters," and her piece "Him" is an intriguing tak on mistaken identity -- and misplaced affection. I'm slightly confused, however, by the political statement of "Puerto Rico;" Rivera seems to be in favor of American occupation of Puerto Rico, yet "we take advantage of this land." While love is the predominant theme of this collection, it's tempered by an undercurrent of loss. An impressive anthology! (44pp, $3.50)

    'Til the End Volume 2
    The best short fiction I've read in the batch so far, Gelrick Phanor's wartime story outlines the narrative of how a young man and his little sister -- Russian, perhaps -- get the best of German forces that had chased them from their home and were planning on taking them to an internment camp. Because this is the second installation of the story, it's unclear what the conflict is or what happened previously, but Gelrick's tale of young-adult heroism is well-written and hopeful. (24pp, $2.50)

    The Way We See It
    This chapbook collects poetry and prose by three writers -- Leon David, Edgar Hidalgo, and Roubbins Jamal LaMother. An impressively political collection, the book contains poetry on 911 and the futility of war, an essay on racism and economic inequality, and an essay on inauthentic patriotism and America's contribution to the 911 tragedies. Leon closes the pamphlet with his short story "Mother's Right," an innovative mix of almost-monologue-driven dialogue and Shakespearian morality play scene establishment. Leon works in themes of pride, disrespect, and fidelity to show that what goes up must come down. This story is the pick of the litter. (32pp, $3)

    Overall, a positive and productive project that highlights several young writers with lots of promise. Kudos to the organizers! Mystic Learning Center, 530 Mystic Ave., Somerville, MA 02145.

    Cometbus #48
    An all-interview issue of Aaron's long-running zine, this edition focuses on the back-to-the-land movement of the late '60s and early '70s. Even moreso, it concentrates on the effects the movement had on the children of back to the the landers -- and how overly romanticized attempts at self-sustenance and community development can hurt as well as help the people pursuing such dreams. Aaron interviews nine people -- children of back to the landers, people who made the move themselves, and young adults who are considering a rural migration themselves. Aaron touches on the people's motivations, relationships with others nearby, integration with (and sometimes imitation of) urban society, and experiences in the country. Lawrence Livermore and Michael Silverberg contribute a conversation with Bruce Anderson, publisher of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, considering conflicts between locals and newcomers, the flawed environmentalism inherent in the movement, the role of crime in the country, and how Bruce became politically engaged in the area. Aaron provides a personal and considerate look at the movement, suggesting that people not pursue their political and personal ideals at the expense of others. Word is that a Cometbus anthology is in the works. Another groundbreaking zine from one of my long-time favorite grassroots media makers. $2.50 to BBT, P.O. Box 4279, Berkeley, CA 94704.

    Derogatory Reference #98
    Two issues away from #100, Derogatory Reference has been around for practically forever, and I've been trading with Arthur almost as long as I've been interested and involved in zines. This issue includes news on Arthur's job situation, experiences and opinions on 911, Nicholson Baker's one-man war for the preservation of old newspapers and books, the corporate funding and naming of sports stadiums, struggles with technology, and attendance at the Millenium Philcon. Arthur devotes two pages to the science-fiction two and a half months after the fact, detailing the design of the name tags, his participation in a panel discussing early Kurt Vonnegut, the rec.arts.sf.fandom party, and award recipients. Arthur's frequent and verbose zines always offer an interesting mix of personal, copy-editing, Internet, literature, and science fiction fandom commentary and minutiae. Arthur's got a fascinating mind and an interesting life. Derogatory Reference lets all of us peek inside. $1 to Arthur D. Hlavaty, 206 Valentine St., Yonkers, NY 10704-1814.

    The Frozen Weblog #2
    A companion zine to Derogatory Reference, the Frozen Weblog is just that, "amusements gathered from the Internet and set on paper." Mostly excerpts and quotes, this edition includes material by Lynne Cheney, Queen Elizabeth, the Village Voice personal ads, Robert Anton Wilson, the Harvard Crimson, and Herdofsheep.com. A Web surfer's answer to Harper's Readings section, but not as satisfying -- as Harper's or as Derogatory Reference. Arthur D. Hlavaty, 206 Valentine St., Yonkers, NY 10704-1814.

    Superflux #2
    Another flier-pamphlet from a guy in the High-Steppin' Nickel Kids. This edition focuses on the publisher's paranoid engagement in the germ war, hatred of shallow hip-hop homeboy fashion, aborted attempts to say something meaningful about 911, lack of appreciation for the Strokes, inspirations, hatred of NASCAR, and estimation of Van Halen and Bon Jovi as godfathers of punk -- a screed on the increasing commercialization of punk rock and how bands such as Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Faith No More, and Nirvana lost their credibility and edge after emerging into the mainstream. Not as bile-drenched as the previous edition, this issue of Superflux still walks the line of anonymous finger-pointing and critical commentary cloaked as personal writing (Don't take "Communique from the Trenches of the Germ War" totally seriously.), which is good; keep us guessing. But -- if the publisher's remarks in "Thanks Again" are any indication -- Superflux seems to be heading in the direction of a stereotypical punk zine complete with interviews and record reviews. To this I say, "Nay! Bring us more hatred, bile, loathing, and scathing commentary!" It's what made the previous issue so exciting and engaging, and this edition isn't as good as the first.
    From the In Box: Rock Shows of Note X
    Hey, it was great seeing everyone who could make it for the first Boston Blogs Bash on Monday night at 608. If you took photos (or let Sooz borrow your camera to take photos), please let us know where they are on the Web so we can link to them from Boston Blogs or zip up the images and we'll post them.

    This gathering might be a mostly-monthly sort of thing. If you have ideas about places we should hang out and things we could do, let us know.

    The people who were there:

  • Brad Searles
  • Elias Sardonis
  • Geoff Meltzner
  • Glenn Kinen
  • Heath Row
  • Isaac Taylor
  • Jeff Thacker
  • Lee Stewart
  • Mary Stopas
  • Matt Saunders
  • Matthew Yglesias
  • Mike Choi
  • Rebecca St. Amand
  • Shannon Okey
  • Sooz
  • Susan Curran
  • Susan Miller
  • Tony Yang

    -- Shannon and Sooz
  • North End Moment XI
    I was wrong. The construction crew put the finishing touches on the parking lot behind the Scotch & Sirloin building this morning. I owe all of you $20. Grump!
    Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians III
    In combing through some of the blogs in the Bostonites Web ring, I came across Brian Kane Online. Brian's wife's birthday is today, and while he doesn't say how old she is, he does say that she's now three times older than she was in 1976. I haven't done any algebra for awhile, so, inspired by the Algebra Project, here we go.

    x = 1976
    y = 2002
    y = 3x

    y - x = 26
    y = x + 26

    x + 26 = 3x
    26 = 2x
    13 = x

    y = 39

    I emailed Brian to see if this was correct -- and to wish his wife a happy birthday -- and this is what he said in response: "Bing bing bing... Tell him what's he's won, Johnny!"

    Happy birthday! And if you haven't done any algebra for awhile, do some. It's fun!
    Drive-By Journalism
    Parallel to the tragedy tourists who trekked to New York City immediately after 911, it's not uncommon that American and other journalists travel to far-off lands to document military, ethnic, environmental, and economic conflicts -- and then return home after the stories are filed and the reading public's interest in the events wanes.

    TomPaine.com reports that the locals who assist these drive-by journalists are not so lucky; they can't leave. Their homes are the homes of the conflicts. And they need to be careful of what they do for whom -- and who knows about their work. Jennifer Bauduy's article highlights several cases in which sources for sensitive stories were later kidnapped and otherwise silenced so stories wouldn't be told.

    Clearly, people on both sides of the equation have some sense of the risks involved in such journalism -- people decide to travel to hotspots to cover conflicts, and people decide to help reporters tell the most accurate stories possible so the rest of the world knows what's going on. But what are the responsibilities of the journalists in working with and perhaps even protecting their sources and local supporters?

    The journalists can always go home. The locals are already there.
    Internet Idealism
    Vint Cerf and the Network Working Group of the Internet Society just issued a memo entitled "The Internet Is for Everyone." According to the abstract, "This document expresses the Internet Society's ideology that the Internet really is for everyone. However, it will only be such if we make it so." In this day of ICANN/I can't policy and standards dithering, it's good to see a public document that returns to the early-day idealism and ideology of groups such as the Internet Society, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc. Vint outlines the growth of the Net, opportunities it provides, and some of the challenges we face in truly democratizing the technology and media. Do yourself a favor and read this; we need to remind ourselves why we're here -- and what kind of place we can make this.

    Thanks to Boing Boing.
    Rock Shows of Note XI
    Thanks to everyone who came out to the Anchormen show last night! It was a cold, rainy -- and later, snowy -- night, which has been the case every single time we've played at O'Brien's in Allston. I'm not sure how much money Allston-Brighton Free Radio raised at the benefit, but rest assured that fun was had by all. Jonny Pape of the band the Jupiter Project opened with a set of aggressive solo guitar rock. The Anchormen followed with a silly series of songs. We caught our stride midway through the set, I forgot the words to a couple of songs, and we had a lot of fun. People seemed to like us, and we even had a heckler. Woot!

    Then the power plant exploded.

    Alex and I had just stepped outside of the club after the Anchormen performance for a quick walk in the cool rain and fresh air when we were jolted by an enormous booming noise. Louder than a car accident and reminiscent of those deep boomer fireworks that thrill me so on July 4, the sound just screamed that something big had happened. Something bad. We turned around surprisingly slowly to scry the source of the sound just as a mild heatwave hit us. Then the fireballs started rising into the sky. There were several bursts of a mushroom cloud-like flame column, and then a steady pillar of fire visible in between the buildings on the O'Brien's side.

    My first thought was, "We shouldn't have played Airborne Event." My second thought was, "Was that the chemical plant? Which way is the wind blowing?" Relieved that the wind was taking the smoke and whatever emissions existed away from O'Brien's, we made our way back into the club just as the Oxycontinentals were starting an apocalyptic set of sludgy rock. Chris, Emily, Alex, and I glued ourselves to the TV above the bar to see how fast the news would tell us what had happened. Frustrated by a segment about puppies and the weather report, we were pleased when the news ticker scrolled a mention of the explosion along the bottom of the screen. Not too comfortable with the mention of Genzyme, many people were concerned about chemical emissions and debated leaving the show for home.

    Alex and I stuck around for much of the Oxycontinentals set before leaving. I met Scott's friend who used to play in Servotron and recently moved to Boston. Then Alex and I hitched a ride home with Mark and Karen. I dropped my jackets on the sidewalk as we were walking to the car and had to retrieve them, a wet huddled lump, before we headed home. The show wasn't the trainwreck I predicted yesterday, but it did have its explosive characteristics. Rock.

    Here's another story about the explosion.
    Kill Your Television V
    Andy Dehnart loves television. He also loves grassroots movements. But he does not like TV Turnoff Week. In his thoughtful essay about the "stupidity" of TV Turnoff Week, Andy brings up several solid points -- turning your TV off does not a revolution make, TV is not the cause of our societal problems, and TV actually has some value. So instead of turning off his television, Andy is documenting every single TV show he watches this week.

    While I agree with many of Andy concerns with TV Turnoff Week, I'm curious how he feels about other mini-movements such as Earth Day, Bike to Work Week, Buy Nothing Day, and so on. Most of these days and weeks are designed and promoted to do just as Adbusters intends with TV Turnoff Week -- to remind people to be mindful of how they live, to open up some space and time for various activities (even if that's limited to introspection and reflection, the "thinking" that Andy mentions), and to bring public attention to the related issues.

    You know how it goes: Every day is Earth Day. That's the point. People should bike to work every day, not just during Bike to Work Week. People should work for companies that encourage and support the presence of children, not just drag their female children to the office on Bring Your Daughters to Work Day. (On the flip side, corporations should design family-friendly work environments.) And people should consider their passive and unproductive television programming consumption all the time. Yes, TV has value. But only if you use it as a tool -- not as a palliative for an unrewarding life. And I think TV itself is more of a palliative and Band-Aid fix than TV Turnoff Week is.

    Thursday, April 25, 2002

    Humor Me V

    Wacko #1, September 1980, Ideal Publishing Corp., NYC, NY (bimonthly, $1.25)

    Publisher: Phil Hirsch
    Editor: Paul Laikin
    Contributing Editor: Murad Gumen
    Associate Editor: Aron Mayer
    Art Director: Eden Norah
    Circulation: Martin Puntus

    Cover: Murad Gumen image of Wacko's pudgy mascot trouncing the Crazy nebbish, Alfred E. Neuman, Sylvester Q. Smythe, and Huckleberry. Cover lines: Humor to Drive You Nuts; Special (Garbage) Collector's Issue; Big Giant 80-page Super Special; Contains 100% Original Material; Free 16-page Bonus Cutouts: Nutty Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, and Other Hilarious Hangups

    Inside front cover... Wacko Book Titles poster featuring tomes such as "Not Tonight, Darling" by Agatha Heddake, "Lights On" by Freida D. Dark, and "Sleeping Beauty" by Althea N. Midremes

    p. 4 Letters to the Editor Advance copies yielded National Lampoon-styled responses from Pope John, Richard Nixon, Tonto, Oral Roberts, and Dolly Parton

    p. 5 Mork and Mindy Meet Laverne and Shirley for Happy Days at Archie's Place w/Paul Laikin, d/Kent Gamble... Mort Drucker-like art confuses this Mad-styled (even to the speech balloons) parody of too many TV shows. Laverne's screwdriver joke is priceless

    p. 9 America the Beautiful d/Aron Laikin... Do the Statue of Liberty's arm pits stink? You bet

    p. 10 Novelty Gas Pumps of the Future w/Mike Pellowski, d/Al Scaduto... The pinball game, slot machine, and strength test concepts are clever, but otherwise? Getting gas is challenging -- and costly -- enough

    p. 12 Occupational Diseases: Different Sicknesses for Different Jobs w/Mike Pellowski, d/Charles Nicholas... Doctors, postal workers, golfers, plumbers, bus drivers, and actresses; we all get sick. That's funny!

    p. 14 Favorite Lists of Different Countries w/Ernest Werner... Popcult best-of lists parody Switzerland, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Mostly plays on words

    p. 15 Washington Teen: The Fan Magazine of Politics w/Paul Laikin, d/Tony Tallarico... Before there was George and Teen People, there was this parody, 20 years prior. George McGovern, Barry Goldwater, Jimmy Carter, and Ted Kennedy all get theirs. Nice Washington Swap Shop column

    p. 19 American Gothic, 1980 d/Aron Laikin... A Wacko hangup detourns the first family

    p. 20 TV Detective Shows of the Future Uncredited spoof lampooning food inspectors, dog catchers, meter maids, and private eyes

    p. 22 Wisecrack Responses Young People Come Up With w/Andy Lamberti, d/Bill Burke... Porn magazines, being late for dinner, report cards, designer jeas, lawn mowing, messy rooms, and punishment

    p. 24 Attention Losers: You Know Your Luck Has Run Out When... w/Joe Kiernan, d/Murad Gumen... Best line: "You're lucky he didn't aim a little higher!"

    p. 26 Bedtime Stories for Dogs and Cats w/Phil Hirsch, d/Arnoldo Franchioni... Fairy tales for Snoopy, Lassie, Puss in Boots, Rin Tin Tin, and Pluto

    p. 28 Wacko Man-in-the-Street Interview: How Are You Coping with Inflation w/Paul Laikin, d/Kevin Sacco

    p. 31 Damn the Lot! w/Ernest Werner... Political poetry about OPEC sung to the tune of "Camelot"

    p. 32 Combined Magazines for Fun and Profit w/Andy Lamberti, d/Bill Burke... Fake covers and cover lines for Family Circle Science Fiction, Car and Driver Psychology Today, Rolling Stone National Geographic, and the Home Handyman's True Confessions

    p. 34 How Wise Are Wise Old Proverbs? w/Bob Heit, d/Tony Tallarico... Sayings about horses, sleeping, bulls, umbrellas, books, and birds are spoofed

    p. 36 When Women Are Drafted into the Army w/Mike Pellowski, d/Jack Sparling... Didn't Mad do this... better? Nice cat fight scene in the last panel

    p. 39 Wacko-isms w/Murad Gumen, d/Walter Brogan... Last name, first name jokes for celebrities such as John Travolta, Alan Alda, and Suzanne Somers

    p. 40 Are You Getting the Respect You Deserve?: Take This Test and Find Out w/Mike Pellowski, d/Peter Dulligan... Great art!

    p. 42 Pinup of the Month: Miss Piggy d/Murad Gumen... Harvard Lampoon-influenced popcult foldout

    p. 44 Nutty Awards, Loony Diplomas, Zany Certificates Pullouts for backseat drivers, class dunces, hunters, military prisoners, bastards, deaf people, Poles, and mafioso

    p. 61 The American Dream Anti-Ayatollah advertisement

    p. 62 Wacko Look at the News w/Paul Laikin, d/Tony Tallarico... Current events caterwauls a la cancer, the Middle East, hair loss, and germ warfare

    p. 64 I Love New York w/Ernest Werner, d/Walter Brogan... Hookers, restaurateurs, and cabbies all chip in

    p. 66 Future Fads for Far-Out Freaks w/Joe Kiernan, d/Al Scaduto

    p. 68 A Museum Guide to 20th Century Commuters w/Any Lamberti, d/Charles Nicholas... People on the train smell funny, overdress, lay about, play the radio too loud, and talk too much. Wacko whacks 'em

    p. 70 Unsolved Mysteries of Human Nature w/Mike Pellowski, d/Vic Martin... Settling into his more cartoony style, Martin depicts beachgoers, male shoppers, children, couples, drivers, smokers, and spendthrifts all to good effect

    p. 72 Name That Goon Contest Phil Hirsch... Ad to give an appellation to Wacko's mascot -- best suggestions: Fat Freddy Fard, Tubby, and Draculad

    p. 73 Newspaper Headlines We'd Like to Read A dozen story lines about Billy Martin, Henny Youngman, Iran, and Ralph Nader

    p. 74 Specialized Beauty Pageants w/Roger Francis, d/George Siefriger... How can we judge blind dates, mother-to-be's, senior citizens, and feminists? This way

    p. 76 The Medical Game Marylyn Fontaine... Word game pictures of the mumps, diarrhea, and stretch marks

    p. 77 Krummy Vs. Krummy w/Darius Clegg, d/John Reiner... Divorce was funny for five pages. Not really

    p. 82 Wacko World Records w/Mike Pellowski, d/Tony Tallarico... Just goes to show how laugh-a-minute alligators, telephones, and the Chinese are

    Extras: I Want Oil! recruiting poster

    Marginalia: "Old soldiers never die. Young ones do;" "Spare the rod and spoil the drag race;" "Did Carl Sandburg drive a Lincoln?"; "Anarchists of the world -- unite!"; "Ronald Reagan can't act either!"; "Gerald Ford: The human Edsel!"; "UFO's are for real -- the air force doesn't exist!"; "Attention Paul Bunyan: Big Brother is watching;" "Warning: Your local police are armed and dangerous!"; "A sore throat is a pain in the neck!"; "Is beat parks the product of billions of years of evolution?"; "Free the Indianapolis 500!"; "Does the name Quasimodo ring a bell?"; "Norman Rockwell painted by the numbers!"; "Elizabeth Taylor's ex-husbands are fat-free!"; "Keep Grandma off the streets -- legalize bingo!"; "Help stamp out and abolish redundancy!"; "Keep Gomer Pyle off my lawn!"; "Prince Charles' home is his castle!"; "Shakespeare married an Avon lady!"; "Join Gamblers Anonymous -- we'll bet you'll be cured!"; "City schools cause brain damage!"; "Pray for the success of atheism!"; "If ignorance is bliss, how come more people aren't happy?"; "Old fishermen never die... they just smell that way!"; "Acid indigestion? Check your source..."; "The Montessori School taut me to rite at age too;" "The Godfather sleeps with a night light..."; "Help fight poverty -- kill a street beggar today!"; "It's brotherhood week -- take your brother hood to lunch today!"; "Florence Nightingale was a panhandler!"; "Let's get sex out of movies and back into motels where it belongs!"; "It's funny to think that beanbag chairs will one day be antiques..."; "Little Jack Horner's problem is more serious than he thinks;" "Man who speak with forked tongue should not kiss balloon!"; "Children should be seen and not had!"; "The family that sprays together stays together!"; "In every family tree there's bound to be a little sap!"
    North End Moment X
    This morning as I walked down the back alley to work, a construction crew was tearing up the blacktop in the parking lot adjacent to the alley and the old folks' home behind the Scotch & Sirloin building. About 30 minutes ago, the crew had finished flattening the resulting sand surface -- and had started adding fresh blacktop to repave the lot. $20 says they'll finish the job today.

    The Big Dig could learn something from this, I think.
    From the Screen to the Set
    An article in today's USA Today reminded me of when Boston-based Walking magazine started featuring television personalities on its covers. The mag's not big enough to attract stars with Hollywood wattage, but TV actors were just small -- and big -- enough in the entertainment limelight to want to be featured in Walking. Of course, Walking's goal was and might still be to grow in prominence to the point where Moby will want to share his sneaker secrets as well as mug ugly for the cover of Wired, but who knows. TV has always been a stepping stone of sorts to the cinema.

    Now USA Today's Bill Keveney reports that movie stars are increasingly stepping into TV shows to perform guest appearances, walk ons, and other roles. In the past, Keveney says, "movie stars once shunned TV for fear of harming their careers." Now it's fair game -- for further exposure, for friends in the business, and just for fun. Keveney looks at several movie celebs who've recently appeared on TV -- and suggests that it's not always a surefire way to promote other projects, much less save a TV's ratings. In fact, Matthew Perry's appearance on Ally McBeal may very well have been the final nail in the coffin of that struggling series.
    Anchormen, Aweigh! VI
    My band met for the first time in more than a month to practice last night. We were a little loose, a little rusty, and a little sloppy, but it was good to get together -- because we have a show tonight! That's right, the Anchormen are playing at O'Brien's in Allston this evening as part of an Allston-Brighton Free Radio benefit. You are all invited. Here's the little announcement email that Chris transmitted earlier today:

    We, The Anchormen, are heralded across the realm for our "funny" show announcements. Not this time. Our hearts are broken. Heath won't come out from under his bed. Tom goes to work, being the little trooper he is (someone has to provide the payments on the Murphy bed we share in our two room walk up), but he walks the halls of the plant like a zombie in that hairnet they make him wear, his verve and zest for work ripped from his skinny bosom. As for me, I can barely see the screen through my tears as I type this. And Jef? It ain't pretty. He's shaved his head except for ONE LONG TUFT that comes out of the side of his head. What's up with that? It's really messed up! I went down to ask him about it, but he was beating the drums over and over while shouting "no! no! no!" so I decided to let him have some alone time.

    See, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains died, well, we don't know exactly when. But sometime in the past few weeks: no one's really sure. Therefore, out of respect for the great man we all knew as "The Rooster" or simply "Layne," this announcement is entirely without humor. If it happens to be ha-ha funny, it's only funny 'cus it's true.

    Come see us Thursday, April 25 at O'Brien's (3 Harvard St., Allston, MA). It's another benefit for Allston-Brighton Free Radio, which is the only reason we could tear ourselves from our vigil. The Oxycontinentals will be back, which is pretty good. That jazz/fusion band won't, which is even better. Also playing are Johnny Pape and Tracey Husky. We'll be on second or third.

    Do it for Allston-Brighton Free Radio. Because "The Man in a Box" would have wanted it that way.

    The Anchormen

    Come out to O'Brien's. The Anchormen are a trainwreck waiting to happen.
    Technofetishism V
    A colleague just asked me about consumer electronics, gadgets, and other technological gear that are hip, hot, and hyped. In poking around to do some "research," I came across several tech-related sites and services that Media Dieticians might find useful.

  • Street Tech: Hardware Beyond the Hype
  • Cool Tool of the Day
  • Gadget Guru: Your One-Stop Shop for Product News and Information
  • Next Gadget: Your Source for the Latest Electronic Gadgets

    I'm not really a gadget head, so now I can rest assured that you're not coming here to learn about new toys and tools -- you can just go to these other sites. Phew!
  • A Few of My Favorite Sings
    Jacob Wolfsheimer's Maven.Sys isn't nearly as frequent or in-depth as I'd like it to be, but I continue to visit frequently to get a sense of where Jacob's been, what he's studying, and what's on his radar. Today I'm glad I stopped by. Jacob's current entry concentrates on Alaska Jim's Music Charts Top Hits Online, a Billboard- and Rolling Stone-like listing of popular singles.

    But Top Hits Online is different than most pop music charts in one extremely interesting and exciting way. Just as magazines such as Wire occasionally feature best-seller rankings from independent record stores, the singles listed in Top Hits Online are drawn from a survey of more than 225 personal charts. It seems that there's a cottage DIY industry in which folks maintain their own singles listings -- and Alaska Jim compares and compiles their content into this wide-ranging reflection of the top 100 song selections of the week.

    This is collaborative filtering with a difference. And while much of the list features the inane dreck and drivel we've come to expect from mainstream radio, the personal aspect of the source lists introduces some interesting outliers to the mix -- including bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional, both of which are just on this side of mersh. This indicates an interesting potential for a DIY response to the self-referential and -perpetuating qualities of record sales lists. Records sell because they're played on the radio, advertised, displayed prominently in stores, and listed on charts such as these -- for the most part. And records are played on the radio and displayed prominently in stores because record labels spend money to promote and place select records. Advertising contributes to public awareness, and all of this drives sales -- which are then reflected in top 40 and other lists, which in turn drive more sales.

    If we could break free of this cyclical process, if lists actually showed what records people are listening to frequently, if we could easily see what records people are recommending to their friends (a more valuable endorsement than a sale at Newbury Comics, for sure), and if -- as Eugene Chadbourne has suggested -- we could track what records people sell back to used record stores because they were caught up in the hype machine and left listening to a record not worth plastic it's made of -- then and only then could we really see and hear what music was worth making.
    Manufacturing Dissent
    A rally earlier this month protesting the proposed expansion of a synagogue on the Brookline-Brighton line was encouraged and partially organized by a Boston Globe reporter and photographer. Sporting the caption "Neighbors gathering last Sunday to protest a Corey Road synagogue’s expansion plans," a photo in the Globe actually depicts people with signs and banners -- who showed up because they knew a photographer would be there. No rally or protest had been planned before learning there could be a photo shoot, a Globe reporter suggested that there be a photo shoot, and participants say they wouldn't have shown up otherwise.

    While the Globe is going to run a correction this Sunday, I'm not sure the fault lies entirely with the paper, despite its sketchy ethics in perhaps inadvertently organizing the photo shoot and staged rally. On one side, the Globe did kick off the concept of a photograph of local activists involved in the development efforts. On the other side, folks could've shown up for the photo without signs and banners -- the activists were complicit in the staged rally regardless of the Globe's intent.

    Dan Kennedy's perspective in this week's Phoenix largely concentrates on the Globe's involvement in the situation -- and doesn't really address the activists' side of things. He briefly touches on whether the Globe photographer knew that the rally was a set up -- and how the caption goes against Globe policy for dealing with events organized for the paper's benefit. But he fails to question the activists involved. What are the ethics involved in staging protests and direct actions solely to garner media coverage? They feel pretty sketchy, too.
    See You in the Funny Pages VIII
    Artbabe creator Jessica Abel just published an almost-exclusive comics piece on the Web. Originally published in the New Year's edition of LA Weekly, Xochimilco inserts itself into the story already underway in book one of Jessica's comic La Perdida. After La Perdida was published, Jessica realized that she wanted to develop the characters more -- and that she wanted to address Semana Santa (Easter Week), the second-most important holiday in Mexico. So she wrote and drew this piece.

    Eventually, "Xochimilco" will be placed where it belongs, between the first and second tiers of page 32 of La Perdida Book One, but for now, you can read it online -- years before La Perdida will be collected in a book format. Pretty neat. Jessica also offers photographs of the real Xochimilco in the Mexico Diaries section of the Artbabe Army area. You'll need to join the Army to access the photos, but doing so is fast, free, and above all, fun.

    Wednesday, April 24, 2002

    From the In Box: Magazine Me X
    Just noticed yer mention of Lewis Lapham on Media Diet. Did I ever send you this humor piece I published on Mediabistro.com? If not, I've just sent it. -- Ken Gordon

    Thanks for pointing me to that, Ken. It's a pretty funny take on query letters -- following advice offered by Lapham hisself in the book "Magazine Editors Talk to Writers." I hope you have better luck with that pitch than you did with the article you wrote about me on assignment from the Improper Bostonian. I guess I wasn't improper enough. Or Bostonian. Or whatever.
    Magazine Me X
    There's a great profile piece on Harper's Lewis Lapham in SF Gate today. In it, Lapham chain smokes; groups himself with Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky; laments the ever-increasing presence of corporate media; discusses the economics of magazines like Harper's, which depend on foundation and patron support; and takes a brief look at the role politics play in publishing.

    Now, I love Harper's. Especially the Readings section, to which I used to contribute. But I hardly ever read Lapham's editorials. Similarly, I hardly ever read Doc Searls' Weblog despite his widespread popularity (Is there any other kind?). But knowing what I now know about Lapham's life and perspective -- and that this piece inspired Searls to renew to the magazine -- I'm going to read both in a slightly different light.
    Media Meet Space
    Matt Herlihy's Sweet Fancy Moses, an online journal of wit that's been publishing frequently since October 2000, is taking baby steps offline and into the "real" world. Later this spring, Matt will issue the first print edition of Sweet Fancy Moses, a 176-page journal featuring writing by Ken Gordon, Scott Cullen, Mike Sacks, Fletcher Moore, and others. They're beating me to the punch; I've been considering publishing a print Media Diet journal when this blog turns 1 year old in June.

    But that's not enough for Sweet Fancy Moses; oh, no! In a couple of weeks, Matt and his girlfriend will open the doors of a Sweet Fancy Moses art space in Morro Bay, Calif. Word is the space will serve as a hangout for area creative writers and artists, a performance space, a gallery and exhibit hall -- and that Matt will also host writing workshops and sell Sweet Fancy Moses gear.

    The idea reminds me slightly of the Giant Robot store in Los Angeles. I can't think of too many magazines or Web sites that have opened physical storefronts, as well. Can you?
    The Story of Spam II
    According to TomPaine.com, online service subscribers pay almost $8.8 billion a year in connection fees to accomodate spam email traffic. Freelance reporter Laura Iiyama looks at the unequal balance of payment exacted by spam -- while folks cover the costs of receiving unsolicited email, the people who send it pay very little to obtain lists and broadcast emails. Iiyama also looks at how the Anti-Spamming Act of 2001 was pushed aside by the Sept. 11 events, the Direct Marketing Association's misguided support of opt-out standards in which spammers can send whatever they want to whomever they want until people on the receiving end ask them to stop -- a ploy that's often used merely to confirm the validity of email addresses -- and recent Federal Trade Commission thinking about junk email.

    $8.8 billion. I used to think it was free and easy just to delete unsolicited emails. But that's big bank.
    From the In Box: Rock Shows of Note X
    Somehow I was out of the loop when the list of bloggers and their sites were sent out. I'd have liked to have chatted with you about the Handstand Command. Totally love the Operators and look forward to the Abbey Lounge residency!

    Here's my take on the Bazaar Bizarre last year.

    Maybe we can chat next time.
    -- Lee Stewart

    Thanks for saying hi, Lee! We're excited about the Abbey residency, too. You might also be interested in the Anchormen's show tomorrow night at O'Brien's in Allston.

    One of the things that frustrated me about the Boston Bloggers Gathering was my inability to meet everyone who was there -- and my tendency to gravitate to the people I already knew: Alex, Brad, Matt, and Mary. I'll make more effort to mingle next time.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2002

    North End Moment IX
    While waiting in line for my lunch order at Mangia! Mangia!:

    Customer: You were on vacation last week?
    Cook: Yeah. The one little week all year.
    Customer: Did you go anywhere?
    Cook: Aruba.
    Me: You're peeling a little. (Gesturing to his forearms.) Get some sun?
    Cook: I'm peeling a lot.
    Kill Your Television IV
    Continuing the recent attention paid to participatory television, there's a discussion underway at Design for Community about the recent West Wing episode in which a character learns someone developed a fan Web site about him. The discussion -- as does the TV show -- centers on what might happen when people jump into Web discussions about them and their work.
    Recombinant Video
    In a recent post to the Nettime mailing list, Tom Sherman details the "addiction to memory" and the use of nonlinear video editing to deconstruct, objectify, and effectively destroy the meaning and value of video images. His essay is a wide-ranging survey of the effects of technology on video production -- and the role of recombinant aesthetics.
    It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World VIII
    Responding to a recent Unit of One feature analyzing the state of the advertising industry, Greg Paulhus contends that advertising is networking. "The purpose of a business is to create and retain a customer," he says. "A business creates a customer by making contact with them in some way, whether it's a print ad, a TV ad, a referral, word of mouth, whatever. That contact is a point on the company's network. Companies need to expand and add value to their network. Advertising is a way of making multiple contacts simultaneously across your potential customer network."

    While I understand and agree with Greg's initial point that advertising represents the act of reaching out to people, I disagree that it's the same as networking -- unless you relegate it to the traditional, shallow, "Here's my card; I've got to go," approach to networking. To his credit, Greg continues to say that most advertising represents dysfunctional networking and that most companies don't continue the conversation they could start with people via exposure to advertising. His closing statements about cold calls vs. targeted, personalized, relevant information-driven marketing messages resonates slightly with Jacques Werth's work in high-probability selling, but for the most part, I think Greg makes the mistakes many people in marketing make, confusing commercials for communication and customers for a community.
    On Social Capitalism
    My title at Fast Company is Social Capitalist. I am frequently asked what that means. For me, it represents the dichotomy between socialism and capitalism -- and highlights the work I do to increase the value of the connections people make with the FC team, the people we write about, and other readers. Last week in the Com-Prac mailing list, which focuses on communities of practice, their theory and work, Andy Swarbrick contributed a solid introduction to the concepts of social and knowledge capital. It might not help my grandmother understand what I do for a living, but it's a start.

    Andy also spends some time exploring knowledge networks and communities of practice in greater detail. Soon, he intends to add material about social network analysis and how it can be used to visualize social networks and measure cohesion. Good stuff.
    James Kochalka Free-for-all
    James Kochalka, Vermont's indie-rock answer to "Weird Al" Yankovic and Atom and His Package, has a new Internet-only album available. The album is titled "Hotchocolate Superstar," and you can even download artwork to print out a CD cover for yourself.

    James says: "They're demos. It's all available to you for free. I just hope that you can give me a little advice: Which songs really deserve better treatment and eventually release on a real CD? Some of the songs were done on four-track, and a couple were done one my iMac using music ripped out of old Nintendo games. There's also an awesome version of Monkey Vs. Robot made by my friend Jason X-12 (credited here as Reorder Narcotic)."
    Other People's Reading Piles III
    Like reading books? Like reading newspapers? You'll love reading books about newspapers.
    Rock Shows of Note X
    This is a joint report about two slightly disparate but still effervescently rocking shows that Alex and I took in last night. First up, the Boston Bloggers Gathering organized by Sooz and Shannon. Alex and I met up with Brad, Matt, and Mary for this follow-up of sorts to the Boston Mini-Blogcon I wasn't able to participate in earlier this year. I met several area bloggers, including Isaac Taylor, the mastermind behind Laughing Boy, Mike, Geoff, and two more Susans.

    The Susans were sources of two more small-world moments. One Susan, former publisher of the zine Warped Reality, I met back in 1996 at the Queens & Zines fest held at Jacque's when the Ben Is Dead and Bunnyhop folks were in town during their RV tour. And the other Susan currently lives with a former FC colleague of mine. Weird how the world folds back in on itself sometimes.

    I don't think that everyone who RSVP'd showed up -- and I'm sure that Sooz and Shannon will share the attendee list at some point -- but here's who threw their hat into the ring for the gathering:

  • Aisling Kelliher
  • Annalisa Oswald
  • Brad Searles
  • Cameron Marlow
  • C.C. Chapman
  • David MacPherson
  • Elias Sardonis
  • Frances Donovan
  • Glenn Kinen
  • Heath Row
  • Jeff Thacker
  • Larisa Mendez-Penate
  • Lee Stewart
  • Lorissa
  • Mary Stopas
  • Matt Saunders
  • Matte Elsbernd
  • Matthew Yglesias
  • Michael Femia
  • Mike
  • Mizzy
  • Rebecca
  • Sean Hussey
  • Shannon Okey
  • Susan Kaup
  • Susan Miller
  • Tony Yang

    Alex also passed around a couple of galley copies of the new Perseus Publishing book "We've Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture." If you attended the Boston Bloggers Gathering last night and would like your very own galley of the forthcoming book, email John Rodzvilla and he'll send you one, free. If you post a review of or some commentary on the book, be sure to let him know, as well. Galley copies of Rebecca Blood's "The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice On Creating And Maintaining Your Blog" are also available to participants.

    Next up, the Sid Hillman and Neil Halstead show, also at 608. Sid was dressed in Slim Cessna-like garb and performed a set free of his usual musical compatriots the Sid Hillman Quartet. Predominately alt.country-styled songs, Sid's music was punctuated with a delightful near-caterwaul and almost-yodel; I enjoyed his vocals immensely. Then came Neil, former frontman of Slowdive and the Mojave 3. Brad says that Neil's recent solo work is quite different than the moody guitar wash of Slowdive, but his solo songwriter material is also quite solid (and is my first introduction to his music, so what do I know). Reminding Alex of Nick Drake, Neil played a sleepy set of country-tinged guitar pop, and was joined by Sid for one piece, which they miffed midway through. Nevertheless, Sid's higher harmonies to Neil's British-accented singing was quite impressive. I'll have to check out the recordings of both.
  • The Restaurant I Ate at Last Night III
    Last week was chock full of eating in restaurants. In North Carolina; in Ivrea, Italy; and since returning home, in Cambridge. Here's the recent culinary roundup:

    Friday: Southern Lights Bistro
    Reminding me of meat and three's in Tennessee, this unpretentious, unassuming eatery will be missed by most Greensboro, N.C.., passers by. Outside, the building is quite plain, and signage is scant. Inside, the food prepared by chef John Drees is as artistic as the paintings lining the walls. The decor is stylish yet comfortable, and the food was quite good. I started off with a chicken quesadilla -- wolfed that puppy down in no time flat, I was so hungry -- and ended up with a salmon dish complete with asparagus and mashed potatoes. Topped off with a New River Brewing Co. (Blacksburg, West Virginia) pale ale, as well as some quality conversation with local CoF members, it was quite a meal.

    Saturday: Green Valley Grill
    After Martha and I spent most of the day stomping around the greater Greensboro area, visiting a Revolutionary War battleground, the site of the first civil rights movement sit in, the local museum, the defunct railroad station, and other hotspots, we retired to this more-than-a-hotel restaurant at the O. Henry. The hotel's not supposed to be all that, but the restaurant was quite nice. I forget what I ordered, but I remember the interior decor -- reminiscent of old boys' club steakhouses with an open-air feel to it -- the sweet iced tea, and the rosemary fries. Well worth checking out if you're in the area. If it's good enough for Orson Scott Card, it's good enough for me.

    Monday: Hotel Sirio Ristoranta
    Onward to Italy. Slightly outside Ivrea and up a ways into the foothills of the Alps (I guess), rests Hotel Sirio. I was joined by several faculty, staff, and friends of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea for a fixed-course meal of traditional northern Italy -- and mountain region -- cuisine. The meat dumplings and breadsticks made the biggest impression on me, and heck if I can remember what else we ate. Nevertheless, it was good. Of that I am sure.

    Tuesday: Bodega
    I think that's what this restaurant in Ivrea is called. It's just on the other side of one of the bridges crossing the river as it winds lazily around the center city, and it's a bit upscale but wonderful. Because this was a celebration dinner of sorts for faculty, staff, students, and friends of the institute after the first day of the Business Week conference -- and the new school term -- the wine flowed pretty quickly and thickly. And the wine in Italy is amazing. I ordered a fish dish and was surprised and slightly dismayed that the fish was served complete with bones, scales, and head. After being a vegetarian for 10 years (I lapsed at the end of 2001.) I wasn't sure I could eat the thing, but a friend coached and coaxed me through it. I ate half.

    Wednesday: Morbelli
    Another wonderful Ivrean restaurant, this is located within walking distance of the new apartment of institute director Gillian Crampton Smith. An old wine storage facility, the interior is full of stone walls and doored cask storage spaces, and the restaurant blends exquisite food and an intimate setting with an informal atmosphere -- several children ran around the restaurant while we ate, and the music piped in by the staff ranged from electronica and dance music to a string of easier-listening oldies. True to form, I forget what I ordered and ate, but Gillian and her husband coached me through the menu, and the food was quite good, as was the light red (but not local) wine we selected. Doubling as a wine shop, this might very well be the place for local wine enthusiasts. They had quite a stock on hand.

    Thursday: Brasserie Flo
    I've already commented on my free meal at this restaurant at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, so I won't say anything more here. OK, I will: It was less than a positive experience. Word is that there's another Flo in the city, and my guess is that it's much better than its airport counterpart.

    Saturday: Christopher's
    Back home in the Boston area, I was thrilled silly that Alex and I met for dinner at one of my longtime favorite local eateries. Christopher's is a wonderful place. Between the wide range of beers on tap, the excellent new American-meets-vegetarian menu, and the convenient location near several Cambridge-side music venues (Toad, the Lizard Lounge), it's a great restaurant. I sampled the spinach and sesame burrito and was surprised that it was, probably to be expected, a burrito chock full of spinach and sesame seeds. Mmm. It was seasoned and spiced well, and while I'll probably not order it again in order to sample something else on the menu, it's worth trying. Mmm.

    Sunday: Sound Bites
    Still at home, this is a cozy, crowded, neighborhood brunch joint located on Ball Square in Somerville. The proprietors and staff have the seating and ordering process down cold, so even if there's a line outside, it moves quickly. Coffee and juice is self-serve, and the daily specials ably augment the standing menu. Alex and I went south of the border with our orders, with me ordering the Mexican omelette, which was stuffed with salsa, cheese, and other goodies. I know it's a small, simple thing, but the toast is among the best I've ever had. Perfectly toasted. Unbuttered. Tasty.

    Monday: Anna's Taqueria
    Now we're caught up to date. Alex and I grabbed a quick bite at this Porter Square taqueria before heading to 608 for the Boston Bloggers Gathering last night. She had a chicken burrito. I had a chicken quesadilla. Cheap eats, but good. It's good to be back in Boston!
    From the In Box: 'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL III
    Sorry you had a bad flight experience. I know how it is -- once flying from DC to Minneapolis, I sat in the plane on the runway waiting for takeoff for four hours. Four hours when we were only 100 yards from the beer-serving terminal!

    You asked what I'm up to, so here it goes...

    I'm reading "Another World is Possible." Fantastic. I could do without some of the essays, but most make me feel like the world isn't as bad as I sometimes think. I particularly like the essay by hip-hop activist Danny Hoch.

    Speaking of hip hop, this weekend I attended the Hip Hop as a Movement Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Friggin' fantastic. Met some great people, including political prisoner Fred Hampton, Jr.; radio DJ and MTV personality Sway (who had brilliant thoughts on how to affect positive change by infiltrating mainstream media -- a position you seemed to take in your debate with Sander Hicks), and a whole slew of hip-hop activists at all levels. Totally blew my mind. The best sessions discussed the takeover of media by corporations and the how-to's and challenges of indie media. You would've loved it.
    -- Clint Schaff

    Sounds like it!
    From the In Box: 'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL III
    Welcome back Heath!

    I've missed your daily blogs so I've decided to create my own. Dan Pink suggested that I chronicle my experience as freelance writer-turned-barrista (to make ends meet), so that's what I've decided to do. I write little tid bits of info from a coffee house perspective.
    -- Lori Oliva

    Nice to meet you, Lori! Checking out your blog, the Daily Grind, this morning, I'm impressed by your mix of behind-the-counter personal writing, quick-hit economic analysis, overheard executive conversations, and media news items. Keep up the good work! And welcome to the blogosphere.
    Emily informs me that Curious Brain is organizing another screening of local independent music videos. The deadline for submissions is May 15, and the screenings will take place in mid-June. From the Showcase06 Call for Submission:

    "Flip on the tele, see a music video. Doesn't matter the channel, whether it's selling you fashion, technology, or, hey, music. Music video's always been attached to product, after all, back in 1900, when music video -- then called illustrated song -- was invented, it was set up to sell sheet music. More than any other art form, music video is tied to commerce. But like any other medium, its creative upside was immediately recognized by artists everywhere.

    "Curiousbrain proudly presents MU-VI, a showcase of music video's focusing on the art of combination of audio and visual. Co-sponsored by Boston's preeminent independent cinema, the Coolidge Corner theater, the two day event premieres on Friday night, June 14, at 11 p.m. at the Coolidge's state-of-the-art screening room and continues with two shows at 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. The showcase is capped off by a live concert for selected musicians from the show Saturday night! Tickets are 8 dollars, and will be on sale at the Coolidge soon!"

    If you're in a local band, submit. This should be fun.

    Monday, April 22, 2002

    From the In Box: 'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL III
    Ouch, again. I just finished working through the 2,100 emails in my in boxes, after about seven and a half hours of almost-solid laptop time, and do my eyes smart! Wow, oh, wow. Ow. And how. Several people took me up on my offer of distracting me with personal and Media Diet-related email (thank you), so I figured I'd share some of the best bits.

    Next time, give me a call! -- Laurent

    Indeed, Laurent. I wish I'd had your phone number with me while I was stuck overnight in Paris. I would've preferred hanging out with you instead of at the hotel, at the airport, etc. I'm sure we'll meet some day, though. While I was in Italy, I had two extremely small-world moments. One of the other participants at the conference I spoke at lives down the street from me. Imagine! And I went to college with another of the participants. Stuff like this happens to me more and more. It's a small world, after all. (Please don't sue me, Disney.)

    Where's the Media Diet, dude? I was just looking forward to some time chilling out reading it on a Sunday morning. Hope all's well and that you're back online soon. -- Rick Weller

    I hope you're doing OK. I've been thinking about you since last Friday afternoon, when I noticed you hadn't posted to Media Diet all day. -- Charlie Park

    While Laurent's email made me feel good -- and reminded me how blogs and the Web can help people connect around the world -- the fact that people (represented here by the good people Rick and Charlie) missed Media Diet made me feel even better. Even though I fully intended to be back online Friday, that clearly didn't turn out to be the case. Sorry to let you Media Dieticians down. I'd say that it won't happen again, but you know what? It might. These things happen.

    Blogged you today on my site. Your site's cool.

    I seem to be seated next to you in a Pullman coach called Dan Pink's Just One Thing. Our links are alphabetically proximate. I admit to being a louse and actually never visiting your site until today. Je suis desolee. Excusez-moi.

    Your flight sounded like a nightmarish one I took from Paris DeGaulle to SFO to LAX. It took a speedy (and usual) 11 hours from Paris to SF and then we got fogged in. It took another eight hours (instead of one) to go from San Fran to LA.

    Write more and go away often.
    -- Halley Suitt

    Hello, Halley. Thanks for finally checking in! If others aren't familiar with the blog Halley's Comment (great name, by the way!), it's a solid selection of cultural trend analysis, business news commentary, media mentions, blog references, and personal writing. Halley's Comment is cleverly contextual and quite revelatory -- i.e. the entries earlier this month about the death of Halley's father. I'll be adding this to my daily reads -- which, obviously, I haven't been able to keep up with.

    In fact, my eyes are numb. So I'm going to take a break.
    Kill Your Television III
    Emily Nussbaum contributes a thoughtful and engaging piece on the joys of participatory television in Salon. In it, she addresses the role that spoilers play in episode reports, the opportunities offered by access to program writers and directors, and the energy inherent in fan-driven online conversations. Nussbaum's personal account offers a nice balance to TV Turnoff Week, suggesting that participatory television could increase the social aspects and effects of TV programming and viewing.
    'Tis the Season to Be... AWOL III
    Ouch. This is what happens when I go away for a week. I came into the office this morning to 600-plus emails in my personal in box -- mostly spam, which made the deleting free and easy -- and just under 1,500 emails in my work in box. I just finished scouring the personal emails, and now I'm cracking the work in box. It's times like this that make me wish, sometimes but never for long, that I wasn't as well connected as I am.

    Not really. Send me an email. Tell me whether you've ever been to Italy or France. Regale me with travel horror stories. Let me know what you're reading. Punctuate my day as I catch up on email. Your emails will be real; the messages I'm combing through now have the air of the past, of transience and obsolescence. They're still important, granted, but they don't feel like they're of the now. And now that I'm finally back in Boston, I'm a little tired of transience; I need more of the now.
    Kill Your Television II
    TV Turnoff Week starts today and runs through April 28. The current issue of Nature reports that teenagers who watch a lot of television are more apt to grow up to be violent adults. My guess is that it's not so much because they watch television but because they do so in lieu of other social activities with friends and family. Televisions don't socialize children; parents and other people do.

    I'm not saying that it's OK to watch TV if you watch it with other people. I'm not even saying that it's not OK to watch TV at all. Heck, what am I saying? I don't even have cable, much less a TV antenna. And I throw a little rug over my TV so it doesn't collect dust (and so the demons in the box don't escape). I'm hardly a poster child for TV activism on either end of the spectrum. Yet I'd still like to see an episode of the Osbournes. I'm not encouraging copyright infringement, but if you'd like to send me a video tape of the Osbournes, my address is on the left. The tape will be used strictly for personal, archival, and research-oriented viewing. Of course.
    Air France Wasted My Life
    It's good to be home. No thanks to Air France.

    I was supposed to be back in Boston around 5:30 p.m. Thursday but didn't hit my apartment on Magazine Street until about 8:45 p.m. Friday, 27 hours later, not including the time I spent flying over the Atlantic Ocean. My flights home started off without a hitch. The leg from Turin, Italy, to Paris, was quick, and despite a brief stopover at Charles de Gaulle, things looked good. We were delayed because of a mechanical problem on the plane that was to take us to the States -- a compressor in the left wing's engine. It's good they wanted to fix it, but it's not good that they kept us on the tarmac and in the gate area for six-plus hours before deciding it was taking too long, canceling our flight, and guaranteeing that we missed the other flights from Paris to Boston that day.

    So, after waiting in line for about an hour after the flight's cancelation, I had Friday's plane tickets, as well as a meal and hotel voucher in hand -- and instructions on how to catch the shuttle bus to my lodging for the night, the Ibis Hotel just on the edge of the airport. I spent another 45 minutes at the crummy, closed (especially for us) airport restaurant Brasserie Flo waiting to be served some cole slaw and stuffed chicken, and the waiter -- who was overextended, granted -- never did bring me any water, much less anything else to drink. Then I waited for the shuttle, which took another 30 minutes to come back around while a cool rain fell.

    Finally getting to the Ibis around 11 p.m., I considered my fate. Here I was in Paris, stuck in a small room with nothing to do until 1 p.m. the next day, when I was scheduled to fly to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. You see, the "best" Air France could do rerouting me home was to send me to Canada early the next afternoon. No first flight out. No morning passage. Then I'd sit in the airport in Montreal for five hours before continuing onto Boston. Sigh. The Ibis was overrun with junior high school kids on a French class trip (I'm guessing), also delayed overnight, and the payphone lines were extremely long and loud as the kids called home to talk to their parents. The phones in our rooms didn't work. Because Air France was picking up the bill and the hotel registration staff didn't get any billing information from us as we checked in, the phones were off. Who would they bill the calls to? So I had a couple of beers in the hotel bar, watched a little MTV, and drifted off to sleep in my closet of a room.

    Friday morning I spent several hours at Charles de Gaulle, opting to be bored at the airport rather than at the hotel. My flight to Montreal was on time (thank the gods), and once I arrived at Dorval, it looked like I'd be able to make standby for an earlier departure -- avoiding the five-hour stopover. After a brief hang up at security -- they didn't recognize my iPod for a legitimate consumer electronics product, and I had to box it up and check it separately because the batteries were dead -- I was at the gate. Then that flight (now on Delta, to be fair to Air France) was delayed because of weather on the East Coast.

    But I made standby, the plane eventually made it off the ground, and I finally got home. Now if only I could get those 27-plus hours of my life back, things would be just great. It's good to be back, no thanks to Air France.