Friday, September 30, 2005

My Favorite Composers (an ongoing series moving through history chronologically like a mathematical bluebird flying through a grandfather clock)

Guillaume Dufay (c. 1200-1274)

Guillaume Dufay is often described as the most "famous" composer of his time, a innovative voice straddling the end of the Medieval era of church and secular music and the beginning of new styles and forms that marked the beginning of the Renaissance era. I would instead choose to call him a "great" composer who belongs not to a specific time but all-time, no matter if he treated his ailments with leaches or Robutussin.
Glenn Gould once obsevered that much of his favorite music always was written in a period of change, where the old was morphing into something different, but not completely abandoning it; in his case this meant composers like Mahler and Strauss (romantic and modern), or even in the case of specific composer, a group of works that seem to show a change of style in progress, a explorer inspired by new lands, which he steps on ever-so slowly, such as Schoenberg's early 12-tone pieces for piano. Although not as much of a fan of Glenn Gould as I once was, I always identified with this comment, and also his love of prescription painkillers.
But I have noticed that, for instance, my favorite works of Stravinsky are his late "neo-classical" works such as his Mass and Orpheus (which is at times my favorite piece of music of all), and the transitional pieces into serialism, such as the Septet and the Cantata. He does not abandon tonality in these, but uses more archaic modal harmony, rigorously structured and with much more counterpoint than before, giving them such an unique sound absent from the works that came before or were to come after.
Dufay falls in the area of "feeling breaths from other planets". He is a master of every form he writes in, which are many, and could write the most simplistic and solemn church chant as he could an intricate polyphonic secular song in the newest and most advanced style. What I like about Dufay more than any other composer from the Renaissance is the lightness of his counterpoint which is never heavy and tiresomely virtuostic like another master such as Palestrina, and his keen melodic and harmonic sense which is almost Ravelian in its refinement.

Before I die of elitism caused by using the phrase "Ravelian refinement", I will listen to Dufay and he will nurse me back to health, a light and colorful breeze from another time, learned but ready for the future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Pact

I make a pact with you, Wal..Igor Stavinsky-
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has had a pig-headed father,
I am old enough to make new friends.
It was you that broke the new wood,
Now is a time for carving.
We have one sap and one root-
Let there be commerce between us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Don't Support the Troops*

To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason.

-H.L. Mencken

I don't have much time for animals whether Iraqi or American. I like animals, don't get me wrong. I'm an animal lover not a fighter. I often turn off the lawnmower if I see a ant or two on the sidewalk ahead of me so they can get by. (Although I'm sure when I turn it back on and mow the lawn I'm killing a million other insects and rodents. At least I try, okay).

The Abu Grahib thingy opened a lot of eyes and I hate to say it, but those evil people aren't just a couple of "bad apples" as Sean Hannity called them. Once you strap on a gun and run around shooting people you sort of stop being human and become an animal.
Animals do this:

That is a picture, that was posted on the internet by soldiers, of one of America's finest smiling in front of a severed Iraqi arm that hangs from a wall.

This is a picture of our wonderful men smiling in front of a burnt dead body of a middle eastern man:

Yes. Not all soldiers are horrible people. Good point Johnny! Most are not. Most are poor, trying to help out their country, trying to get through school, trying to get a job. But aren't the poor the easiest to train how to blow people up? Aren't the poor the easiest to train how to blow someone's head off?
"Support our troops" as many of them rape and kill other rapists and killers! But be sure to shoot all those looting animal niggers in New Orleans on sight. Fucking animals!

I got these pictures from a wonderful post on AMERICAblog. Apparently, US soldiers (and lots of them) are trading these gruesome pictures online in exchange for hardcore Amateur porn. It's all the same as the Rude Pundit says. Sex, violence. "Getting head and losing head".(Read the Rude Pundit on this here).

I don't have much time for cutting analysis. Let's just admit it-many of the US soldiers are uneducated, racist pieces of shit. I love them though and hate that they die but what do you expect. You throw them with other lions and place bets and one side has God on their side and the other has God on their side. If I ever see these men I wish I could just spit on them Vietnam myth style, but unfortunetly I'm too much of a pussy.

Lynndie England just got three years in prison. I think that's way too fair. First of all, she deserves three years in prison at least for being the ugliest human being in the history of the United States(see below.). She deserves dozens more for ruining dozens of lives and breaking dozens of laws and being an animal. Animals!

Please-read this wonderful rant as well from
"Fuck the Troops."
Sure it may be a offensive and silly way to go about an important point, but it's neccessary to play the game if we hope to win.

*Yes, that's a photo of me a year or two ago waving a flag and wearing an Anton Webern shirt. It's cool to hate america and like ugly music, kids!

Monday, September 26, 2005

I am a tree.

I am waiting for inspiration and time to write some things on two pieces that have been on my mind lately: Dutilleux's L'Arbe des Songes ("Tree of Dreams"), and Debussy's Jeux ("Games").
What else has been on my mind lately? You, baby. You.

Also just finished watching the new Scorsese documentary on Dylan. Lots of interview footage of Allen Ginsberg shortly before his death. Ginsberg in my opinion is the greatest artist to belong to NAMBLA in history, just ahead of Gary "One Way Ticket to Cambodia Please" Glitter.

Thursday, September 22, 2005



Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Varèse Moment

I'm currently in my room listening to music and reading some news and I just had one of those experiences where you stop what you are doing transfixed on some sound, smell or daydream that puts its spell on you. I'm listening to Edgard Varèse's massive orchestral block of granite and marble, Amériques, a 20 minute jamboree of chaotic wind polyphony, blaring brass, Stravinskian ostinatos, whistles, triangles, tam-tams, gongs, sirens, amplified diaper, electric penis enlarging buzzer, and just about every other werid thing that makes a loud noise. About 16 minutes in there is this odd 'beep' amidst a jumble of percussion wackiness. It beeps steady like a pulse rate and calls my attention.
"What the hell instrument is that?" I thought.
I got up to take a look at the CD booklet and before I reach it and discover the instrument the beeping stops. Walking back to my bed I happen to catch sight of something out my front window: A truck backing up.
Fooled me! CAN YA S T A N D IT?!@#$%%^^&&**
My Favorite Composers (an ongoing series moving through history chronologically like a mathematical bluebird flying through a grandfather clock)

Pérotin (circa 1200)

's music works in a way quite different from all the composers who were to follow until about 1960. As opposed to music that exists in linear time with musical discourse moving from point A to point wherever and usually back again, Pérotin and other 13th century composers from the "Notre Dame" school exploit the smallest pieces of musical fabric, a little rhythm, a three-note melody, a single drone bass note and vary it nearly every possible way. Thus (one of my favorite words and the perfect beginning to any sentence), the music seems to be suspended on wires in space despite having tremendous freedom to move around and spin, flip and turn any which way the wires (which are tight) allow. Thus, the effect of this music is hypnotic and haunting. Thus, I will avoid the term "minimalist" as I don't like it and Pérotin doesn't need Steve Reich mentioned to make him worthy and interesting. Thus, his music is important to me (especially through the Hilliard Ensemble's wonderful recording of most of his known works) because of it's singular sound, at once floating and free, and as grounded as a medieval French icon singing one big, eternal "OM."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Richard Dawkins: My Hero

Richard Dawkins is my hero. I'm not a atheist, but sort of a pussy agnostic/atheist. Read this as one of the most important evolutionists and rational minds out there bitchslaps ignorance:

The atheist

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains why God is a delusion, religion is a virus, and America has slipped back into the Dark Ages.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Gordy Slack

April 28, 2005 | Richard Dawkins is the world's most famous out-of-the-closet living atheist. He is also the world's most controversial evolutionary biologist. Publication of his 1976 book, "The Selfish Gene," thrust Dawkins into the limelight as the handsome, irascible, human face of scientific reductionism. The book provoked everything from outrage to glee by arguing that natural selection worked its creative powers only through genes, not species or individuals. Humans are merely "gene survival machines," he asserted in the book.

Dawkins stuck to his theme but expanded his territory in such subsequent books as "The Blind Watchmaker," "Unweaving the Rainbow" and "Climbing Mount Improbable." His recent work, "The Ancestor's Tale," traces human lineage back through time, stopping to ponder important forks in the evolutionary road.
Click here

Given his outspoken defense of Darwin, and natural selection as the force of life, Dawkins has assumed a new role: the religious right's Public Enemy No. 1. Yet Dawkins doesn't shy from controversy, nor does he suffer fools gladly. He recently met a minister who was on the opposite side of a British political debate. When the minister put out his hand, Dawkins kept his hands at his side and said, "You, sir, are an ignorant bigot."

Currently, Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a position created for him in 1995 by Charles Simonyi, a Microsoft millionaire. Earlier this year, Dawkins signed an agreement with British television to make a documentary about the destructive role of religion in modern history, tentatively titled "The Root of All Evil."

I met Dawkins in late March at the Atheist Alliance International annual conference in Los Angeles, where he presented the alliance's top honor, the Richard Dawkins Prize, to magicians Penn and Teller. During our conversation in my hotel room, Dawkins was as gracious as he was punctiliously dressed in a crisp white shirt and soft blazer.

Once again, evolution is under attack. Are there any questions at all about its validity?

It's often said that because evolution happened in the past, and we didn't see it happen, there is no direct evidence for it. That, of course, is nonsense. It's rather like a detective coming on the scene of a crime, obviously after the crime has been committed, and working out what must have happened by looking at the clues that remain. In the story of evolution, the clues are a billionfold.

There are clues from the distribution of DNA codes throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, of protein sequences, of morphological characters that have been analyzed in great detail. Everything fits with the idea that we have here a simple branching tree. The distribution of species on islands and continents throughout the world is exactly what you'd expect if evolution was a fact. The distribution of fossils in space and in time are exactly what you would expect if evolution were a fact. There are millions of facts all pointing in the same direction and no facts pointing in the wrong direction.

British scientist J.B.S. Haldane, when asked what would constitute evidence against evolution, famously said, "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian." They've never been found. Nothing like that has ever been found. Evolution could be disproved by such facts. But all the fossils that have been found are in the right place. Of course there are plenty of gaps in the fossil record. There's nothing wrong with that. Why shouldn't there be? We're lucky to have fossils at all. But no fossils have been found in the wrong place, such as to disprove the fact of evolution. Evolution is a fact.

Still, so many people resist believing in evolution. Where does the resistance come from?

It comes, I'm sorry to say, from religion. And from bad religion. You won't find any opposition to the idea of evolution among sophisticated, educated theologians. It comes from an exceedingly retarded, primitive version of religion, which unfortunately is at present undergoing an epidemic in the United States. Not in Europe, not in Britain, but in the United States.

My American friends tell me that you are slipping towards a theocratic Dark Age. Which is very disagreeable for the very large number of educated, intelligent and right-thinking people in America. Unfortunately, at present, it's slightly outnumbered by the ignorant, uneducated people who voted Bush in.

But the broad direction of history is toward enlightenment, and so I think that what America is going through at the moment will prove to be a temporary reverse. I think there is great hope for the future. My advice would be, Don't despair, these things pass.

You delve into agnosticism in "The Ancestor's Tale." How does it differ from atheism?

It's said that the only rational stance is agnosticism because you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the supernatural creator. I find that a weak position. It is true that you can't disprove anything but you can put a probability value on it. There's an infinite number of things that you can't disprove: unicorns, werewolves, and teapots in orbit around Mars. But we don't pay any heed to them unless there is some positive reason to think that they do exist.

Believing in God is like believing in a teapot orbiting Mars?

Yes. For a long time it seemed clear to just about everybody that the beauty and elegance of the world seemed to be prima facie evidence for a divine creator. But the philosopher David Hume already realized three centuries ago that this was a bad argument. It leads to an infinite regression. You can't statistically explain improbable things like living creatures by saying that they must have been designed because you're still left to explain the designer, who must be, if anything, an even more statistically improbable and elegant thing. Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that's because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.

Those who embrace "intelligent design" -- the idea that living cells are too complex to have been created by nature alone -- say evolution isn't incompatible with the existence of God.

There is just no evidence for the existence of God. Evolution by natural selection is a process that works up from simple beginnings, and simple beginnings are easy to explain. The engineer or any other living thing is difficult to explain -- but it is explicable by evolution by natural selection. So the relevance of evolutionary biology to atheism is that evolutionary biology gives us the only known mechanism whereby the illusion of design, or apparent design, could ever come into the universe anywhere.

So why do we insist on believing in God?

From a biological point of view, there are lots of different theories about why we have this extraordinary predisposition to believe in supernatural things. One suggestion is that the child mind is, for very good Darwinian reasons, susceptible to infection the same way a computer is. In order to be useful, a computer has to be programmable, to obey whatever it's told to do. That automatically makes it vulnerable to computer viruses, which are programs that say, "Spread me, copy me, pass me on." Once a viral program gets started, there is nothing to stop it.

Similarly, the child brain is preprogrammed by natural selection to obey and believe what parents and other adults tell it. In general, it's a good thing that child brains should be susceptible to being taught what to do and what to believe by adults. But this necessarily carries the down side that bad ideas, useless ideas, waste of time ideas like rain dances and other religious customs, will also be passed down the generations. The child brain is very susceptible to this kind of infection. And it also spreads sideways by cross infection when a charismatic preacher goes around infecting new minds that were previously uninfected.

You've said that raising children in a religious tradition may even be a form of abuse.

What I think may be abuse is labeling children with religious labels like Catholic child and Muslim child. I find it very odd that in our civilization we're quite happy to speak of a Catholic child that is 4 years old or a Muslim of child that is 4, when these children are much too young to know what they think about the cosmos, life and morality. We wouldn't dream of speaking of a Keynesian child or a Marxist child. And yet, for some reason we make a privileged exception of religion. And, by the way, I think it would also be abuse to talk about an atheist child.

You are working on a new book tentatively called "The God Delusion." Can you explain it?

A delusion is something that people believe in despite a total lack of evidence. Religion is scarcely distinguishable from childhood delusions like the "imaginary friend" and the bogeyman under the bed. Unfortunately, the God delusion possesses adults, and not just a minority of unfortunates in an asylum. The word "delusion" also carries negative connotations, and religion has plenty of those.

What are its negative connotations?

A delusion that encourages belief where there is no evidence is asking for trouble. Disagreements between incompatible beliefs cannot be settled by reasoned argument because reasoned argument is drummed out of those trained in religion from the cradle. Instead, disagreements are settled by other means which, in extreme cases, inevitably become violent. Scientists disagree among themselves but they never fight over their disagreements. They argue about evidence or go out and seek new evidence. Much the same is true of philosophers, historians and literary critics.

But you don't do that if you just know your holy book is the God-written truth and the other guy knows that his incompatible scripture is too. People brought up to believe in faith and private revelation cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds. No wonder religious zealots throughout history have resorted to torture and execution, to crusades and jihads, to holy wars and purges and pogroms, to the Inquisition and the burning of witches.

What are the dark sides of religion today?

Terrorism in the Middle East, militant Zionism, 9/11, the Northern Ireland "troubles," genocide, which turns out to be "credicide" in Yugoslavia, the subversion of American science education, oppression of women in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and the Roman Catholic Church, which thinks you can't be a valid priest without testicles.

Fifty years ago, philosophers like Bertrand Russell felt that the religious worldview would fade as science and reason emerged. Why hasn't it?

That trend toward enlightenment has indeed continued in Europe and Britain. It just has not continued in the U.S., and not in the Islamic world. We're seeing a rather unholy alliance between the burgeoning theocracy in the U.S. and its allies, the theocrats in the Islamic world. They are fighting the same battle: Christian on one side, Muslim on the other. The very large numbers of people in the United States and in Europe who don't subscribe to that worldview are caught in the middle.

Actually, holy alliance would be a better phrase. Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion. Both have implacable faith that they are right and the other is evil. Each believes that when he dies he is going to heaven. Each believes that if he could kill the other, his path to paradise in the next world would be even swifter. The delusional "next world" is welcome to both of them. This world would be a much better place without either of them.

Does religion contribute to the violence of Islamic extremists? Christian extremists?

Of course it does. From the cradle, they are brought up to revere martyrs and to believe they have a fast track to heaven. With their mother's milk they imbibe hatred of heretics, apostates and followers of rival faiths.

I don't wish to suggest it is doctrinal disputes that are motivating the individual soldiers who are doing the killing. What I do suggest is that in places like Northern Ireland, religion was the only available label by which people could indulge in the human weakness for us-or-them wars. When a Protestant murders a Catholic or a Catholic murders a Protestant, they're not playing out doctrinal disagreements about transubstantiation.

What is going on is more like a vendetta. It was one of their lot's grandfathers who killed one of our lot's grandfathers, and so we're getting our revenge. The "their lot" and "our lot" is only defined by religion. In other parts of the world it might be defined by color, or by language, but in so many parts of the world it isn't, it's defined by religion. That's true of the conflicts among Croats and the Serbs and Bosnians -- that's all about religion as labels.

The grotesque massacres in India at the time of partition were between Hindus and Muslims. There was nothing else to distinguish them, they were racially the same. They only identified themselves as "us" and the others as "them" by the fact that some of them were Hindus and some of them were Muslims. That's what the Kashmir dispute is all about. So, yes, I would defend the view that religion is an extremely potent label for hostility. That has always been true and it continues to be true to this day.

How would we be better off without religion?

We'd all be freed to concentrate on the only life we are ever going to have. We'd be free to exult in the privilege -- the remarkable good fortune -- that each one of us enjoys through having been being born. An astronomically overwhelming majority of the people who could be born never will be. You are one of the tiny minority whose number came up. Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one. The world would be a better place if we all had this positive attitude to life. It would also be a better place if morality was all about doing good to others and refraining from hurting them, rather than religion's morbid obsession with private sin and the evils of sexual enjoyment.

Are there environmental costs of a religious worldview?

There are many religious points of view where the conservation of the world is just as important as it is to scientists. But there are certain religious points of view where it is not. In those apocalyptic religions, people actually believe that because they read some dopey prophesy in the book of Revelation, the world is going to come to an end some time soon. People who believe that say, "We don't need to bother about conserving forests or anything else because the end of the world is coming anyway." A few decades ago one would simply have laughed at that. Today you can't Horgh. These people are in power.

Unlike other accounts of the evolution of life, "The Ancestor's Tale" starts at the present and works back. Why did you decide to tell the story in reverse?

The most important reason is that if you tell the evolution story forwards and end up with humans, as it's humanly normal to do so because people are interested in themselves, it makes it look as though the whole of evolution were somehow aimed at humanity, which of course it wasn't. One could aim anywhere, like at kangaroos, butterflies or frogs. We're all contemporary culmination points, for the moment, in evolution.
Click here

If you go backward, however, no matter where you start in this huge tree of life, you always converge at the same point, which is the origin of life. So that was the main reason for structuring the book the way I did. It gave me a natural goal to head toward -- the origin of life -- no matter where I started from. Then I could legitimately start with humans, which people are interested in.

People like to trace their ancestry. One of the most common types of Web sites, after ones about sex, is one's family history. When people trace the ancestry of that name, they normally stop at a few hundred years. I wanted to go back 4,000 million years.

The idea of going back towards a particular goal called to my mind the notion of pilgrimage as a kind of literary device. So I very vaguely modeled the book on Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," where the pilgrims start off as a band of human pilgrims walking backward to discover our ancestors. We are successively joined by other pilgrims -- the chimpanzee pilgrims at 5 million years, then the gorilla pilgrims, then the orangutan pilgrims. Starting with humans, there are only about 39 such rendezvous points as you go back in time. It's a rather surprising fact. Rendezvous 39 is where we meet the bacteria pilgrims.

The idea that evolution could be "random" seems to frighten people. Is it random?

This is a spectacular misunderstanding. If it was random, then of course it couldn't possibly have given rise to the fantastically complicated and elegant forms that we see. Natural selection is the important force that drives evolution. Natural selection is about as non-random a force as you could possibly imagine. It can't work unless there is some sort of variation upon which to work. And the source of variation is mutation. Mutation is random only in the sense that it is not directed specifically toward improvement. It is natural selection that directs evolution toward improvement. Mutation is random in that it's not directed toward improvement.

The idea that evolution itself is a random process is a most extraordinary travesty. I wonder if it's deliberately put about maliciously or whether these people honestly believe such a preposterous absurdity. Of course evolution isn't random. It is driven by natural selection, which is a highly non-random force.

Is there an emotional side to the intellectual enterprise of exploring the story of life on Earth?

Yes, I strongly feel that. When you meet a scientist who calls himself or herself religious, you'll often find that that's what they mean. You often find that by "religious" they do not mean anything supernatural. They mean precisely the kind of emotional response to the natural world that you've described. Einstein had it very strongly. Unfortunately, he used the word "God" to describe it, which has led to a great deal of misunderstanding. But Einstein had that feeling, I have that feeling, you'll find it in the writings of many scientists. It's a kind of quasi-religious feeling. And there are those who wish to call it religious and who therefore are annoyed when a scientist calls himself an atheist. They think, "No, you believe in this transcendental feeling, you can't be an atheist." That's a confusion of language.

Some scientists say that removing religion or God from their life would leave it meaningless, that it's God that gives meaning to life.

"Unweaving the Rainbow" specifically attacks the idea that a materialist, mechanist, naturalistic worldview makes life seem meaningless. Quite the contrary, the scientific worldview is a poetic worldview, it is almost a transcendental worldview. We are amazingly privileged to be born at all and to be granted a few decades -- before we die forever -- in which we can understand, appreciate and enjoy the universe. And those of us fortunate enough to be living today are even more privileged than those of earlier times. We have the benefit of those earlier centuries of scientific exploration. Through no talent of our own, we have the privilege of knowing far more than past centuries. Aristotle would be blown away by what any schoolchild could tell him today. That's the kind of privileged century in which we live. That's what gives my life meaning. And the fact that my life is finite, and that it's the only life I've got, makes me all the more eager to get up each morning and set about the business of understanding more about the world into which I am so privileged to have been born.

Humans may not be products of an intelligent designer but given genetic technologies, our descendants will be. What does this mean about the future of evolution?

It's an interesting thought that in some remote time in the future, people may look back on the 20th and 21st centuries as a watershed in evolution -- the time when evolution stopped being an undirected force and became a design force. Already, for the past few centuries, maybe even millennia, agriculturalists have in a sense designed the evolution of domestic animals like pigs and cows and chickens. That's increasing and we're getting more technologically clever at that by manipulating not just the selection part of evolution but also the mutation part. That will be very different; one of the great features of biological evolution up to now is that there is no foresight.

In general, evolution is a blind process. That's why I called my book "The Blind Watchmaker." Evolution never looks to the future. It never governs what happens now on the basis on what will happen in the future in the way that human design undoubtedly does. But now it is possible to breed a new kind of pig, or chicken, which has such and such qualities. We may even have to pass that pig through a stage where it is actually less good at whatever we want to produce -- making long bacon racks or something -- but we can persist because we know it'll be worth it in the long run. That never happened in natural evolution; there was never a "let's temporarily get worse in order to get better, let's go down into the valley in order to get over to the other side and up onto the opposite mountain." So yes, I think it well may be that we're living in a time when evolution is suddenly starting to become intelligently designed.

Two nights ago, I engaged in a rare activity-listening to the radio. Sadly, most of Minnesota's radio stations seem to be programmed by really dumb robots who have in turn been programmed to act like lame white men. Luckily we still have NPR, and 99.5, the non-threatening but solid classical station. Sure, they never play much dissonant modern music, and avoid obscure figures from history, and sure, if you tune in before 6pm on Saturdays you'll have to hear a split second of Garrison Keillor (a split-second too much), but they play some interesting things at times by the acknowledged greats. They ALSO broadcast live concerts of the Minnesota Orchestra. So, poops to ya!
So I decided to tune in to hear the opening concert of the season. I missed Adam's The Chairman Dances, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, but caught the tail end of his Fourth Piano Concerto with Andre Watts which sounded strangely messy.
I was a little worried at the quality of my state's top orchestra, and one I have three tickets for (expensive tickets) in the next few months. But the announcer came on to report that the orchestra was going to finish with Ravel's Bolero and I sighed as I knew it's fairly hard to screw that piece up.
I was wrong.
It was a painfully awkward reading, shaky and a little hesitant. Almost every instrumental solo of the famous melody had two or more obvious flubs in it. Even the cor anglais solo towards the middle started a step below, which the poor soul, obviously nervous at his mistake, slid up three steps with a squeak before sliding down two more to the right note. Hopefully Osmo Vanska doesn't whip the players after the concert in a dungeon below the stage, because all the woodwinds would bear the brunt of the lashes.
I had to turn it off before it could finish fearing that the audience would not clap and I would hear three oboeists scream after climbing off the stage onto the first balcony and hanging themselves there.

Was this the Minnesota Orchestra or the Minneapolis Policeman's Concert Band?

Maybe I'm being unfair, but I paid big balls money to see these guys soon. I was very nervous.

I decided to turn off the radio for a minute or two until they went back to their regular programming. When I returned I did so at the exact beginning of a wonderful recording of Ravel's "Mother Goose" suite, one the most beautiful pieces of music in existence. Perhaps they played it to make up for the mess of Maurice before. Both ways I was finally happy. At peace. Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I Worship a Green Candle

Looping, the arches are horse shoes of dark
with three little lights (green candles), a needlepoint blaze
puncuates the dark, like three servants spying a perplexing sound frozen in time inside three dark spaces under marble columned arches, Looping.

This is sanctuary from Muslim arrows
Ignore the sorrowful elderly woman in the cloak who is praying or sleeping
and follow me to the altar.

This altar is where Ryan Seacrest is said to have turned Jesus' blood into bread, and Jesus' body into wine, and exploded them onto the russet velvet banner you see to your left. (Look higher Theodocius).
The banner contains thirteen figures:
Jesus Christ on the throne, Saint John the Baptist screaming in religious ecstacy and spitting blood, and Seacrest himself holding the puppy, "The Puppy of Intimate Forgiveness".
I know that counting the dog that is only four figures, but if you multiply that by two and add one, it comes close enough to 13. Mathology is not taught in Byzantine schools.

Follow me behind the altar into the preist's changing room. Here you see the the wood floor that was stripped and put back once more nine years ago at the insistence of the baselius. When in doubt walk forward, when in hope walk backwards, but never walk sideways or else the bishop might think you a crab and be forced out of habit to fish you out of a pond. It always smells of fish in here but I've never been in here before. This is my first time and each time I come in here I've lied how many times I've come in here to her.

Stooping, she falls of the ceiling
wearing a pendant with a blackamoor's face on it, a savage premonition
I am trying to grab her, moving through space
and I fall on top of the altar, my men watching flubbergusted,
she has shot an arrow in my chest and I explode into the banner holding
a green candle, a sacrifice for nothing, no nothing at all.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thank You "J.L." (whoever you are...)

Kanye West will go down as one of history's most overrated rap artists. He is one of those rappers that white music critics latch unto to heap praise on for the benefit of appearing to know something about hip-hop.
Pitchfork Media is one such guilty offender, a gigantic joke of a review site in which hipsters write long-winded and laughibly pretentious critiques of mediocre indie rock albums and score them on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0. While this system is fun ("Did you see what the new Radiohead album got!?!"), it's quite absurd when you think about an album being "rated" a "6.4" or a "8.1". I usually wonder, "8.1?, why not 8.2 or 8.0? What made this album a tenth of a percent better or worse?" After inspection it is obvious that this system is better for rating Olympic diving.

Pitchfork Media also suffers from the hipster plague of "post-modern irony". Actually , it's one worse than that. It's what my friend Chaz calls "post-post modern irony", in which the hipper-than-thou indie critics are sooo ironic and hip that they MAKE FUN of being ironic and hip! It's enough to make you wanna curl up with a Chuck Palahniuk and listen to Arcade Fire in tears!

While concentrating on independent rock, once in a while Pitchfork will prove it's eclectic knowledge and taste by reviewing a highly praised hip hop album by artists like Atmosphere, Sage Francis, 50 Cent and the Game. These reviews are often interesting for their transparency, through which you can see the clever, hipster, indie-rock critic...:

wearing a mask to fashion himself to be a learned lover of hip-hoppin' beats and rhymes, and African American culture in general. In these pieces the indie-critic is obviously ill-at ease, and knows that he is slightly out of place and is over-analyzing a music that resists it by it's very nature. He applies the same credentials that he does in every other piece of sham music journalism, and in doing so ends up making a "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" reference, much to the chagrin of this man, who has no time for cutesey games:

If you would like another example of this strained attempt at playing another field, and playing it poorly, read the Pitchfork Media review of an album of pieces by 20th century composer Milton Babbitt. Mr. Rock reviewer makes a fool out of himself by fooling himself that he understands Babbitt and his music just because he can enjoy Sonic Youth's more dissonant moments. It's truly a sight to behold.

But back on rap, the indie-rock critics, and rock critics in general more often than not make poor choices in who to exalt and who to ignore. Eminem, 50 Cent, Game and now Kanye are all examples of this. Mild to slimly talented artists who stand out in the barren landscape of mainstream rap. It's all a ploy to feign interest in something before continuing to ignore it again.

Time Magazine fell for the Kanye trick, and put him on the cover calling him the "Hamlet of Hip-Hop". Listening to his ultra-lame flow, and unoriginal beats (mostly sped-up choruses of obscure 70s R&B tracks), and watching himself make a stuttering fool of himself in interview after interview (and not to mention his "Bush hates black people" rant on live TV), is enough to demand Time Magazine print an apology to serious music lovers who've been waiting for worthy rap to get it's due. If Kanye is the "Hamlet of Hip-Hop", Arby's is the "Corlianus of Fast-Food".

Rolling Stone, already a joke of a magazine (the type that will print loving cover articles of Ashlee Simpson, and in the same issue savagely make fun of her for some lost cred), gave Kanye's new album 5 stars. However, the review was penned by Rob Sheffield, a pock-marked piece of skin and bones who's as irritating in his constant smarmyness, as he is in his lisping hyper-gay stereotyped delivery.

"Hey Rob, what do you think of Ashlee Simpson?"
"Ashlee Simpson? PUH-LEEZZZE! She's just another untalented corporate toy riding on her big-sister's coattails with the help of daddy!"
"Yeah...of course, but...umm..didn't you just publish a 24 page interview and article about her?"
(Rob drinks nervously takes another sip of his Jones Soda and then throws down a gay- rock-critic-elitist smoke bomb and disappears in the shadows).

When it comes to Kanye however, I think this reviewer on hit it right on the head:

6 of 29 people found the following review helpful:

RASCIST??? (sic.)NOT SURE. WACK??? DEFINATELY., September 10, 2005

Reviewer: JL (new york) - See all my reviews

the most overrated artist i've ever seen. this dude is an average producer and a well below average mc and you people treat him like you just saw buddha. i wouldn't put this in my top 500 albums released this year. kanye west sucks...he sucked last year...and he sucks now. also, stop mentioning tupac and kanye west in the same sentence or you're gonna get a baby powder pimp slap...want a fresh one?

Please do JL. Please do.

I have been reading a lot about 9/11 as I realized I knew very little about the background. There are lots of fascinating twists and turns with the hijackers and many legitimate non-wacko analysts think that the FBI might have been fooled by some of the hijackers' left-behind "evidence". Not that the men we think we did it didn't DO IT, but their identities are still shrouded in mysteries and many might have been using fake names.
Read this interesting article about Flight 93 hijacker and pilot Ziad Jarrah.

Ziad Jarrah bears a creepy resemblence to my brother Steve. Look at these below and then come to Minneapolis to meet him to see the similarity:

Steve's alive and well of course, but there was that mysterious summer he travelled to Yemen. I think I should talk to my mom about this immediately...

I am always fascinated that a large part of the American justice system seems stuck in 1132.

Notice in the picture that the executed woman's family is sobbing? Sort of reminds you of the victim's family doesn't it?

If I became president my first order of buisness would be a complete abolishment of Captial Punishment just so we'd be like, oh I don't know, the rest of the civilized world and not Iran and China?

My second order of buisness? September 15th becomes....POPSICLE DAY!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

If you need more proof...

...that Religion is one of the most bat-shit crazy things ever, here you go.
I love the internet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A couple of thangs

-Green Day aren't great because they make some hyper-simplistic knee jerk political videos and songs. "Wake Me Up Before September Ends" is one of the most dull songs I have ever heard. Predictable and boring. They suck, their videos suck, they have no idea what they are talking about politically. Next.

-I just started reading the new translations of Proust's "...temps perdu".

-The show "Cheap Seats" is hilarious. How have I, a devoted "MST3K" lover, ignored it for so long? Great writing.

-I am thinking of getting a rabbit, a chinchilla or a kitten.

-My basketball skills are improving. I am deadly from the free-throw line at the Chowen Avenue hoop near my homestead.

-It is raining. Did you know that rain is nature's air conditioner?

-The Discovery Channel's 9/11 documentary on Flight 93 ('The Flight that Fought Back') impressed me with it's editing and interviews. The reinactments were well-acted and about 100 levels above "Unsolved Mysteries" (one of my favorite shows of all-time) in terms of non-silliness, but still a tad melodramatic. I still am haunted by the hijackers putting on red bandanas before standing up and storming the cockpit. Apparently the in-flight movie for that particular flight was "A Knight's Tale". If they had began the delightful film 10 minutes earlier would Ziad Jarrah have re-thought his holy mission of death inspired by the on-screen romantic sparks between Heath Ledger and Keira Knightley? We can only guess.
Two things should be added though:
A) The documentary was too long and the violent scenes of the hijackings suffered from the shaky camera-attached to hijacker cam-view thingy. Remember that Smashing Pumpkins video "1979"?
B) Michelle Malkin and her phantasmorgically evil and idiotic blogger ilk went apeshit over the movie, praising the "patriotism of the men and women who stopped the plane from hitting it's D.C. target". Let it be said that in one interview the wife of one of the men who attempted to take over the plane remarked "These people weren't trying to save the plane from the White House and being larger than life. They were trying to get stay alive so they could go home and see their families." Malkin and her fellow ghouls whore the actions of these poor people killed for evil fundamentalism for the sake of their own fundamentalism.
The fact that they liked the movie makes me want to change my opinion.

-Next time you are at your dvd retailer, purchase "Andrei Rublev". Movies don't get better.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


(insert crappy sentimental post about September 11th here.)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Read James Wolcott

If I ever write a paragraph as smart and funny as James Wolcott I will have proven myself worthy of entrance into Paradisio. As much as I hate the blogster game of linking to the blogsters, his is one of the most insightful cultural/political blogs out there. His last entry finally expresses a point I've always babbled about endlessly, but in perfect English grammar: Katrina has killed perhaps twice as much people as 9/11. The conservative case that terrorism is the most important issue to our country is silly and based totally out of post-9/11 fear. Poverty, the educational gap and flawed domestic infrastructure are more important and damaging than some wacky jihadist blowing up a car. Until you can convince me that Osama bin Laden(remember him?) has a Loony Toons ACME nuclear warhead pointed at the country, I will only say "find him, kill terrorists" but take a breath knowing I'm not at war with anybody in a keffah scarf. All my enemies seem to wear suits.
But as Wolcott points out at the end, once we play with numbers of lives lost, we too often are only playing with numbers and forgetting that every single life lost is important and saddening, whether from 9/11 or a hurricane. Each has infinite consequences.

Read it here.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Berg's Wozzeck: How much expressionism is too much expressionism?

I recently bought this DVD of Wozzeck:

Viewing this production of one of the great operas of all-time made me very, very sad. I cried arty elitist tears (20% Morrocan Mint Tea). I'll be fair, the orchestra and singers were pretty damn good. The production however, was another story. Berg's masterwork is a humane work. And I'll tell you Mr. Hot Shot Opera Director, it's not a chance for you to go haywire with "Cabinet of Dr. Caligary" nonsense.
-The captain wearing a Porky Pig costume? What the hell? Mr. Hot Shot Opera Director, Alban Berg does not need you to telescope his music. We KNOW the captain is a pathetic, loony, freaked-out character. You know how we know that Mr. Hot Shot? THE MUSIC BERG WROTE FOR HIM IS PATHETIC, LOONY AND FREAKED-OUT!
-Andres and Wozzeck working together on top of a tilted mountain of cheese? Looked horrible.
-Marie and Wozzeck's boy wearing a kabuki mask and living in a dog house? Lame and obvious.
-I liked the doctor's office and his costume however. Not TOO post-modern. That's sad when a compliment for your production of an 20th century opera is "not too post-modern".
-Marie and the Drum Major went a little too far with the flirting. We know she is going to be unfaithful with him. What makes her final "Oh what does it matter!?" and submission so powerful is the curtain falls immediately after and Berg uses the last final bars of of the act to 'sum up' what has happened in the orchestra. We do not need to see Marie bury her face in the drum-major's crotch.
-Ugly puppets used in place of Marie and Wozzeck for the Tavern scene? Mr. Hot Shot Director, are you trying to create a parody of a caricature of a caricature of expressionism?
-And who the hell designed the dvd? Between each scene the camera would pan out of the square-shaped stage into a black square. During Berg's incredible orchestral interludes some crappy screensaver of a huge piece of rock floats in and out of the box. Take a cue from Abbado's excellent dvd production: show the conductor conducting the orchestra. Abbado's recording and film with the Berlin Philharmonic is still the best out there. The production is simple but solid. It's realistic but still has moments of haunting uneasiness such as the rising and falling red sun. Oh...realism. That enemy of the 21st century artist!

But I could go on and on with this dreck of a Wozzeck. The distancing that the silly costumes, the ugly sets, the exaggerated acting creates for the viewer is a betrayal of Berg's score and Buchner's revolutionary play. Berg was setting out to punch the face and knife the heart. But there is also sublime moments of sweetness. Marie's teasing her boy with the mirror's light on the ceiling and wall? Come on! Berg wasn't trying to create some nightmare of distorted imagery and grotestquery. Enough with the bullshit 'modern' productions of great opers. If you hope to produce the opera and be true to it's music and libretto you only have to do two things: listen to the music, and read the libretto.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

KQRS Morning Show

Retarded peope and racists often live as outsiders in American society, both segments of the population pacified into silence by cake and Brown vs. The Board of Education, respectively. Thankfully for the Retarded and racist of Minnesota, every morning from 6 to 9am they can feel apart of fabric of our great country with a little help from their friends at the KQRS Morning Show.

Hosted by the controversial Tom Bernard, the KQ92 Morning Show specializes in classic rock, news, scatology, obnoxious sports talk, and woefully willfully ignorant social commentary.
If you happen to be in the Twin Cities and turn your radio to 92.5FM at 6am you will most likely hear the following:
-Tom Bernard and the gang go over the national news (usually straight from the horse's penis hole-Matt Drudge's website). Comments on how dumb liberals are, how important it is to "support the troops", how immigrants are ruining our country follow.
-Sports news. The Minnesota Vikings are usually chief among topics. Complaints about what the veteran coaches and professionally trained athletes are doing wrong.
-The Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane"
-A couple celebrity guests call in to be interviewed and sucked up to.
-Letters from KQ listeners. The stories invariably have to do with genitalia, dirty immigrants or fecal matter, sometimes all in the same letter.
April 28th, 2004 -


Regarding your comments about the "Towel-Heads" using their left hand to "wipe," and right hand for everything else, they also carry around a bottle of water off their "wiping hand" when they're finished crapping in their cat-hole in the "sand box." That is why it is a "slap in their face" to extend you left hand to shake their hand instead of the right hand. I really would like to know why shoing them the bottom of your foot offends them. I have heard that is equal to flipping them off.


An executive from Morgan Quitno Polling Center listening to the show and hearing this letter read on his car radio immediately moves Minnesota in the "Smartest State" poll from 12th to 47th. (Behind Alabama!)

-Local news. Apparently, Minneapolis' Somali, Hmong and Hispanic population are stupid and lazy.
-Bob Seger's "Down on Main Street"
-Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a rare example of the species "Grown Elf" (see below.) calls in to joke with the crew, who fawn on him like he's Abraham Lincoln. After hanging up the phone, the Governor hobbles back to the Governor's mansion in Galadriel to mix night potions.

-Boston-"More Than a Feeling"
It should be noted that it is only 8:40am and the Morning Show lasts another half an hour. You have already been reported missing by your family. Thankfully, your body will be found before any profound decay has taken place. The Hennepin County police who find you dead next to your radio note the dried blood around your ears.

The KQ Morning Show is a favorite among suburban and conservative Minnesotans. These are not the Northern Minnesotan sweet-natured "Fargo" crowd; this is the sports-lovin', hard-workin', straight-talkin', sex-obsessin', shit story-tellin', hard-drinkin', Minnesotan crowd. Some of the typical Morning Show fans can be seen in photos of the Annual Las Vegas trip (where fans join the hosts for some live morning hi-jinx) here

Since you've decided not to click on the link (you are a smart boy or girl!), here's a couple for your enjoyment:

Yes, my friends. The typical male KQRS Morning Show listener trades hard-earned monetary capital for a t-shirt that demands immigrants learn English. My first question apon meeting this gentleman would have to be: "Why do you care?". I just sort of doubt he finds a lot of non-English speakers at the White Bear Lake autoshop where he works. I'm guessing it has to do more with the fact that he is a horribly ignorant and hateful bigot who beats the shit out of his kids.

Here we have some female fans of the Morning Show. To be a devoted listener with an X chromosome requires some work. First of all, you must allow yourself to not be taken seriously. Second of all, you must look like a homely Dental Hygenist.
The woman on the left is a famous fan of KQ, and Native American. She's known as, and this is not a cynical or sarcastic joke on my dickish part, "Feathers not Dots". Get it? She's a Native American Indian and not an Asian Indian! To be non-white and a KQ fan requires willed self-hatred.

No thesis on the KQRS Morning Show would be complete without closer examination of actual members of the Morning Show Crew:

Terri Traen

A blonde 40 something with a peckish but sweet nature, Terri is often singled out for her vagina and breasts. Despite her "female" status, she follows the boys whatever darkened alley or rusty train track their dirt bikes lead, an eternal neighborhood girl who craves male attention and domination underneath a strong exterior.

Phil "Philly Dawg" Wise

Phil Wise is a former football player who plays the token black man. Laid back and amiable, he is nicknamed "Philly Dawg" and is the go to man for the white men on the show when queries of correct usage of urban negroid slang arise.

Mike "Stretch" Gelfand

Mike Gelfand, nicknamed "Stretch" is a nasal voiced middle ager acting as a more articulate, liberal foil to Tom and the boys. Because of his status as an intelligent, liberal jew, he is often made fun of as being homosexual. When confronted with this playful but dark teasing, he laughs uncomfortably and hides under the desk to lick Tom Bernard's dirty Reeboks.


Bryce is an enigma. Rarely vocal, he is the "sound guy" for the Morning Show. His job as "sound guy" means that during discussions about shit he plays farting sounds, and during discussions about sex he hits a worn out button that triggers that 300 year old clip of Austin Powers saying "Yeahh baby, yeahhhh!".
Perhaps his silence is evident of a inner wisdom and strength, but most likely he's a gigantic moron like everyone else on the show. Perhaps you already knew that from seeing the picture of him above (taken with porn star and Morning Show guest Brittany Andrews). He appears to be wasting away from severe anemia and advanced Crohn's Disease.

Tom Barnard

Tom Bernard is the host of the Morning Show. Loud-mouthed, obscene and unabashedly conservative, he is also a noted recluse. A millionaire from a lucrative voice-work career, he turns down all interviews, rarely appears with the crew at sponsered events. Bernard spends his days sitting behind a microphone only taking breaths to chew on a meatball hoagie. Every morning at 9:05 when the Show ends he promptly escapes in a specially modified underground tube system that sends him straight to his mansion basement in Maple Grove, Minnesota. This way, he avoids the throng of Hmong protesters assembled outside the studios demanding an apology for his use of "Me SO SOREEEEEE" while reading a story of a local gun-downed child from Laos. Also, the tube system affords him the luxury of not moving, always a must-have for crimnally fat man such as himself. Unlike most famous recluses such as Thomas Pynchon, J.D. Salinger and Prince, Tom Bernard has no discernable talent.

The KQRS Morning Show is the most popular radio talk show in Minnesota. I should note that I have have never listened to it by choice, but rather because KQRS is the only station that works on my Alarm Clock. All throughout high school and my first year of college I'd be awakened at 6:45 by the "Toxic Crew" (or whatever the fuck they're nicknamed). Like a reminder of the drudgery of my life, as well as the ignorance of mankind and specifically the American public, the Morning Show served as a boatman's call for all that I regard base and wrong. Indeed, Tom Barnard and the fans that call in and write to the heroes of their shameful, absurd and cosmically stupid lives have all indirectly inspired an acceptence of the neccessity of suicide as an option more eloquently than Arthur Schopenhauer.
But I will live and turn it off and go on. The problem is, they will live too and continue to give my state a bad name.
In conclusion, I am not as fat as Tom Bernard. This fact warms my heart and eases my aching mind.
Dutilleux: The enigma wrapped inside David Lynch's haircut

Henri Dutilleux's music often reminds me of that episode of "Seinfeld" where Jerry has a girlfriend who changes appearence in different types of light. One moment strikingly beautiful, grotesque and disturbing the next.
Much of the music seems improvised. Jutting lines of pointilist light cascade throughout the woodwinds while enshrouded in huge, jazzy chords held statically by divided strings (many just harmonics) like stars exploding and falling into a fuzzy red quilt. A huge battery of percussion, usually side drums, cymbals, marimba, celesta and cimbalom add shadows. Much of his best music feels so free and inspired yet progresses with an undeniable logic. But at heart-he is a late-Romantic/impressionist/mystic. His use of artifices such as 12-tone rows and large structural forms serve no "strictly abstract music for strictly abstract music's sake". He attaches extra-musical importance to whatever his artifice. Variation (which he reverses many times so that the "theme" isn't stated till the end) is a musical metaphor for memory and time. Like Berg, a composer much admired by Dutilleux, he seems to use mirror-writing and palindromes to express something about infinity and life/death. Also like Berg, the appearence of the scores is important to him and sometimes aspects of certain passages seem to be inspired by a visually creative need to make a picture of notes on the page.
This dual improvistory freedom and musical/extra-musical logic is very rare and special in musical art. When it comes to this rare combination I can only think of a work like Debussy's Jeux which at first baffles with its "random" twists and turns of melody, striking diversity of timbre, and incredibly subtle and complex rhythmic changes (all aspects of Dutilleux). Closer inspection reveals profound unity and concern for construction.
I have been listening non stop to Yan Pascal Tortelier's recording of Dutilleux's complete orchestral works. Dutilleux's art is an art of mystery. The mystery of time. The mystery of light and darkness. The mystery of memory. The mystery of female ejaculation. It's all there.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Rich was showing me the illuminated score of a imagined Debussy reorchestration of Mozart's Zauberflote
The note heads were drops of bloodred blood and glacial water
The note stems were thin cocaine lines of turqouise and lime green powdered sugar
It looked like Christmas in a bed with her
It smelled like her hair
And tasted like fruit air, nothing and wonderful.
So Soreeeee

I've been absent. My computer keeps crashing and failing. I've been sick and preparing for school and I hope to write more.