Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sorry, Underground Mixtapes Happened 10 Years Ago

Busdriver, influencial alternative hip-hop artist, has issued a challenge to his fan base. Recently back from a short tour in China, Busdriver is reviving the lost art of mixtape.

With mp3s and ipods completely redefining the way we listen to music, there stems the feeling of mixtapes being apart of the Great American Past. As if mixtapes, their culture, popularity and charm are part of a generation of folk art. As a child of 10 I remember sitting at home making mixtapes to listen to on the bus to school. I went so far as to create my own personal "radio station" where between songs I would spout off fake news and weather reports. As I got older and the technologies permitted me to make mixed cds for friends, my ambitious mixes gained more depth. Sure I could make a playlist and give it a fun and ironic name, but where are the creative covers? The descriptions of the songs that I included so my friends could get that little glimpse of my soul? And trying to decorate the CD itself the best I could with a sharpie. I can't do that to my ipod. Or my laptop. Well, maybe I could, but chances are I would regret it.

I'm hoping those fond memories of childhood creativity is what inspired Busdriver to issue this mixtape challenge over on his blog. Certainly the reward would be enough to get those 20-something hipsters off their ass and do something truly creative! But we'll get to the reward soon enough.

Busdriver lays out some basic rules of engagement:
- Your mix must be presented on an audio tape, that's kind of the point.
- The mix must be done by the person(or persons) who presents it.
- No DJ mixing software should be used to execute your mix.
- You are only able to submit one tape, once.

What you will be judged on:
- Content: Your song selection and merit of your choices. Whether the songs are rare, from out of print records, random, timely, etc.
- Cohesion: The pace and continuity of your mix. If you begin with a theme, stick to it.
- Packaging: How you dress up your J-card and actual tape. Whether you insert a graffiti piece in sharpie, a picture of you dressed as a Subway sandwich, it all contributes to the aesthetic value of your mix tape.

Grand! It's something that will appease my sensitive creative talent, and my overwhelming urge to crush everyone else with my knowledge of hip and indie music.

And what will be the illustrious prize? Busdriver and crew will come out and throw a kickin' house party. At your house. Ah, imagine all the hipster cred I could gain from having Busdriver perform at my house.

Contest runs October 26th thru December 1st. Full details can be found at the blog.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dancing Through Rapture

I've been watching my boyfriend play a lot of BioShock lately, and besides being absolutely engaged in the visuals, story, and game play, one thing sticks out as the icing on the cake. The musical score of BioShock really adds that final touch, making the game go from just good, to great.

Like everything else in BioShock, the music feels organic. Sometimes you'll hear a rousing old tune on a jukebox or on the overhead speakers. Other times, the orchestral score composed by Garry Schyman, really sets up scenes and upcoming battles or just builds the tension in a room. If there is an award for best original soundtrack in a game, I'm pulling for this guy.

2K Games not only produced one helluva good looking and sounding game, but they really went that extra mile for the fans by giving back something extra. On their site, you can download the full orchestral score and a high-res version of the BioShock Artbook.

But what about the other music in game? There are many classic tunes heard throughout BioShock from greats such as Bobby Darin, Billie Holiday, and Frank Sinatra to just name a few. Going through the game and matching up every song to singer can be hard to do, specially with mislabeled mp3s in Soulseek and other downloading sites. Here is a compiled list of known songs and their performers as of the time this article was published:

  • 20th Century Blues - Noel Coward
  • Bei Mir Bist du Shon - The Andrew Sisters
  • Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
  • Brother Can You Spare a Dime? - Bing Crosby
  • God Bless The Child - Billie Holiday
  • How Much is that Doggie in the Window? - Patti Page
  • If I didn't Care - The Ink Spots
  • It Had to Be You - Danny Thomas
  • It's Bad for Me - Rosemary Clooney
  • Jitterbug Waltz - Fats Waller
  • Just Walking In The Rain - Johnnie Ray
  • La Mer (Beyond the Sea Instrumental) - Django Reinhardt
  • Liza - Django Reinhardt
  • Night and Day - Billie Holiday
  • Nutcracker (Waltz of the Flowers) - Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky
  • Oh Danny Boy - Mario Lanza
  • Papa Loves Mambo - Perry Como
  • Please Be Kind - Frank Sinatra
  • The Best Things in Life are Free - The Ink Spots
  • The Party's Over - Noel Coward
  • World Weary - Noel Coward
  • Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams - Bing Crosby
  • You're the Top - Cole Porter
2K Games has also released an EP with Moby and Oscar the Punk. This combines some of the dated songs like "God Bless The Child" by Billie Holiday with horrible electropopvomit. My opinion is to skip out on this little extra. It'll make your ears bleed and Bobby Darin roll over in his grave.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Ain't Yo Mama's Golden Girls

Once again, Mr. Furious has directed my attention to a train wreck of imagery.

This time, the culprit is a gallery opening in California entitled Golden Gals Gone Wild and boasts the down right nastiest senior citizens. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and even Sophia bear all in this art exhibit curated by Lenora Claire who is "... a Los Angeles based writer, glamour girl, performance artist-glass eater, and event producer". Well it's good to know I have all these criteria to meet before curating my own show. Now to find a theme that can outshine our favorite ladies over 50 flapping in the wind.

And where did Lenora get the idea for this unusual show? From purchasing a now infamous painting of Bea Arthur by Chris Zimmerman from eBay for only $110.

Numerous artists joined Lenora in her cause, including Angus Oblong (of The Oblongs fame), Ed Mironiuk, Jason Merciers, Jim Winters, and Zackary Drucker. Chris Zimmerman even added a new painting of Bea.

Opening night on August 11th, 2007, included men and women with Golden Girl puppet heads made by Mad Puppeteer. The show runs through September 7th with a closing party.

More information can be found here, along with a great interview with Lenora Claire:

What will be next? I'm hoping for an erotic gallery show involving Della Reese.

Zackary Drucker VK7 1 Rue by Sam Woolley

Jim Winters 1 Jason Merciers Ed Mironiuk

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nerdcore United in NYC

In case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Nerdcore Godfathers, mc chris and MC Frontalot are performing together in New York City this upcoming weekend.

Chris hinted about it on his MySpace a few weeks ago, and the rumors were confirmed in his blog.
show starts around four, but that might just be when the grillin starts. bring grill foods and ur own sodas. i guess u can bring beer but down go crazy on us. front is doing something different and playing with just his drummer, i'll be showing new mixes for my set and trying out a new song or two. oh and there will be some other rappers rapping as well. so it will be a mini rap festival with hot dogs that is in no way a part of the brookyln hip hop festival.

Oh how I wish I could make it out to New York this weekend, if even just for a day. This is the first time Front and Chris will have played together, except for their weekends at PAX once a year. Why has it taken them so long to perform together? Is it as my cynical friend suggested? Is the success of Nerdcore coming slowly to a burning and flaming end?

With new Nerdcore artists popping up everywhere on MySpace, and documentaries coming out such as Nerdcore for Life and Nerdcore Rising, has Nerdcore outlived its quirky, tounge-in-cheek, nod-to-the-nerd quality? I for one, certainly hope not. But after reading a scathing review of the newest MC Frontalot album in the local paper, I can't help but question if Nerdcore will ever break out of its stigma of being nothing more than parody?

Is this the beginning of the end for Nerdcore? Hold your breath.

For those of you with means to make it out to New York this weekend, here are the must know details:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Warriors For Innocence declare War on LiveJournal

Also known as "Strikethrough 2007"

As I'm sure many of you are aware of by now, an internet blogging site called "Warriors For Innocence" has, with the help of LiveJournal, affectively taken down a number of communities and personal blogs dealing with shota, lolicon, rape, and incest. This was first reported to me last night via Warren Ellis' Blog.

Here are some of the facts that I can make out, difficult as it may be to decipher through the dribble that plagues most LiveJournals.

On May 18th, Warriors For Innocence wrote an open letter to LiveJournal and Six Apart stating:
I have found many ads on very inappropriate web pages that are hosted by These ads are in close proximity to such subjects as Child Rape, Child Molestation, Child Abuse, Child Pornography, and other disturbing topics. I am sure that as a responsible and well respected company, you know nothing about this, just as the advertisers on LiveJournal do not.

I have been in contact with the LiveJournal Abuse Team about this very issue for quite some time now, and my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. I have also contacted Six Apart, but never received a response ...

...I have contacted these advertisers and informed them of where their ads are placed. I have had nothing but shock and thanks for my efforts. These ads are placed through Google Adwords and Google Adsense. The companies buying these ads do not know that they are paying for representation on web pages that list interests as "child abuse, child f***ing, child molestation, child porn, child sexual abuse, f***ing kids, f***ing little kids, f***ing young girls, kiddie porn, child sexual abuse, incest" and more.

I have taken many screen shots of these disgusting pages with the ads on them and will be glad to email them to you if someone will contact me with an email address to which to send them.

Unfortunately, these ads not only appear on individual sites, they also appear on general category pages, some of them called “f***ing children”. These general category pages will have the ad at the top of the page and show many sites listed that are “interested” in the same category.

Since there are literally thousands of sick pedophile and child sex sites like this on LiveJournal, merely requesting to have the ad removed from a single page or site will not stop the problem. The advertising companies have had to ask to withdraw their ads from all of in order to protect themselves and the reputations of their companies. I have emails from several advertising companies who have done just that.

Your advertisers are leaving LiveJournal. LiveJournal is doing nothing to stop this. You need to assess this situation and consider “cleaning up” LiveJournal and removing the sites that not only list these “interests” but also describe in graphic detail the sexual abuse and rape of children as young as 3 years old.

It’s time to value child safety above free speech. It’s time to do the right thing. If morals will not compel you to do this, then maybe loss of advertising dollars will.

As I see it, LiveJournal and Six Apart folded to WFI, and as of last night, systematically began purging LiveJournal communities and personal journals. Today WFI made this statement on their blog:
Setting a new precedent, LiveJournal, owned by Six Apart Incorporated, deleted over 500 of its sites or journals today. Responding to requests from Warriors For Innocence, LiveJournal chose to remove sites that promote pedophilia, child sex, child abuse, and other illegal activities.

LiveJournal has revised their Terms Of Service (TOS) to include new standards that will ensure that they protect the safety and well-being of everyone who visits LiveJournal.

And in an interesting statement, among accusations that WFI was targeting innocent groups, Lolita Fashion, survivor communities, and communities discussing the novel Lolita WFI points the finger back at LiveJournal and Six Apart by saying:
You may find it easy to blame us for the deletion of these sites, but we are disturbed by their deletions as well. LJ is obviously trying to avoid accusations of discrimination by deleting all sites with specific interests listed. They made that decision, not WFI. Go ahead and point a finger at us. Call us vigilantes and idiots. Accuse us of banning or deleting you. But you forgot something. LJ is hosting your sites. It’s their call, not WFI’s.

Warren Ellis, who really first broke the news to the blogging community, wrote today on his site, this amazing statement, that I find to be very powerful and well thought:
Without contradicting my previous take on the situation:

Until such time as LiveJournal/Six Apart work out how to tell the difference between fantasy fiction communities/support groups/fashion discussion communities/survivor histories and actual criminal use and traffic, and restore those fiction groups and survivor support teams to full working order, my own LiveJournal will become read-only, and I will produce no new content to be read on that system.

I do believe that some stupid people got what was coming to them today. But a lot more people have been mistreated by LiveJournal for no reason beyond blind panic. I see no reason to tacitly support that by continuing to write under a LiveJournal URL.

Clearly this is a very tough situation for LiveJournal and Six Apart to have been caught up in. I will not display my personal views on the matter here, but rather want to inform people of what is actually happening. Warriors for Innocence, by name, are warriors, and warriors incite war. The war that they seek is against pedophiles and to protect the innocence. But every war has victims, and the victims today have been the many LiveJournal users who are not pedophiles, but by expressing strange and deviant interests have had their right to post on LiveJournal revoked.

LiveJournal is however, working with the victims of their own attack by providing them with software to help back-up all their old entries both on personal journals and on communities. catrinella provides many useful tools and tips over in this entry. ancarett also provides users with helpful advise on how to have your voice heard in this era of electronic correspondence, no matter what your stance on the matter may be, including the phone number for Six Apart's office.

While no official statement by LiveJournal or Six Apart has been posted yet, I'm sure that we'll see one within a few days, if not sooner.

I will say this on the matter, LiveJournal has been around since 1999, and I'm sure that through the many years they have had a number of complaints from various organizations, watchdog groups, and government agencies. Warriors For Innocence cannot be the first. But as any good company, LiveJournal and Six Apart has a team of lawyers, and while these complaints must have surfaced before, they have been able to deal with them in their own, albeit slow way. Most likely through individual suspension of accounts as complaints have been lodged. What I find most astonishing, is how quickly LiveJournal responded to this matter not from a government agency, not from a large watchdog group, not from the media, but by a small group of bloggers. This small group of bloggers did nothing more but to go for the jugular. They went for the cash vein. And it is through this means, through the this threat that LiveJournal and Six Apart have decided to act.

Monday, May 28, 2007

How Star Wars Still Rules the World

We've been head over heals in love with the R2D2 Mailboxes that the USPS has thrown towards us in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars. Or was it their feeble attempt to distract us from the still rising cost of postage? Either way, these metal marvels are a fun way to celebrate 30 years of Star Wars ruling the world.

But these droid themed mailboxes aren't the only way people have remembered Star Wars this year. Celebration IV was underway this weekend in California, as thousands of fans massed together to share in their favorite nerd past time. Dressing up like Storm Troopers hoping to get laid by that hot girl dressed like Leah.

Amongst news and release of the new Clone Wars trailer, there was something else that caught my eye.

As reported by Metaphorge a few days ago, The Vader Project shows off 75 of the top artists and designers as they revision the iconic Darth Vader helmet.

The Vader Project is presented by Master Replicas Inc. and curated by Dov Kelemer of DKE Toys. Kelemer gathered 75 of the hottest underground and pop surrealist painters, artists and designers to participate. Each artist was given a Master Replicas 1:1 scale prop replica of the actual Darth Vader helmet used in the Star Wars films. Each helmet served as a blank canvas for each artist to paint, design, mash up, and customize.

A list of artists is also available at The Vader Project and a Flickr Gallery of the helmets can be seen here, though there are no artist names matched up with the artwork.

My favorites include Alex Pardee:

and this scary one by Jim Koch:

This one by MAD is definatly a nod to the roots of Star Wars:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Did Facebook Just Jump the Shark?

I logged into Facebook today, mostly to check the "News Feed" section. Its a great way to, you know, stalk your friend. They're your friends, right? Why can't we just ask them how they're doing? We don't. Instead we wait and refresh the page to see who is dating who, which event our friend attended, and to try and find horrible and incriminating photos of our coworkers.

Well, despite the fact that Facebook is just another in a long line of social networking sites, I like having a profile on it. There are a number of reasons why Facebook holds up and is far superior to MySpace. One, it just looks nicer. Also, there's this sense of privacy on Facebook that I don't get through MySpace. There is this sense of organization through Facebook that MySpace just can't hold up to.

I believe it's because Facebook actually gives very little control to the user. You can add your friends, your interests, your albums, user pictures, and comment on your friends pages. That's about all you can do that would change the look of your page. Where MySpace allows way too much user control. You can change the background, add music, videos, have horrible glittery text, and if you're really good, completely change the look and layout and make it unrecognizable as a MySpace page. Sometimes MySpace profiles will crash my browser.

But now Facebook has added Applications. Applications allow outside developers to create widgets for Facebook users to embed in their profiles. You can choose from things that allow users to see the latest mp3s you've listened to, play music in your profile, and add movies. Digg has gotten in on this sweet deal, letting users see articles that you've recently dugg. Jesus, there is even a Hot or Not application. Politics aren't spared either. You can add a "directional compus" that allows users to really see where you stand in the world of politics, and there's even a "Obama '08" application that will keep you informed of the latest Obama-related news and video clips.

So now Facebook has gone even further down the same road as MySpace, but I'll give Facebook this, all of these applications are well placed and hidden. They've always given users the choice to hide information that you might not find crucial while surfing your friends pages. Even though I'm complaining now, I'll probably make use of some of the more informational and web-smart applications. But you'll never find my picture popping up in the Hot or Not section!