Saturday, August 30, 2008

Leaving Fear Behind: The Tibetan Uprising

Leaving Fear Behind (in Tibetan, Jigdrel) is a heroic film shot by Tibetans from inside Tibet, who longed to bring Tibetan voices to the Beijing Olympic Games. With the global spotlight on China as it rises to host the XXIX Olympics, Tibetans wish to tell the world of their plight and their heartfelt grievances against Chinese rule. The footage was smuggled out of Tibet under extraordinary circumstances. The filmmakers were detained soon after sending their tapes out, and remain in detention today.

In a remarkable coincidence, filming concluded in early March 2008 on the eve of the eruption of unprecedented mass Tibetan protests across the Tibetan plateau. Shot primarily in the eastern provinces of Tibet, the film provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people and their longstanding resentment of Chinese policies in Tibet.

The filmmakers traversed thousands of miles, asking ordinary Tibetans what they really feel about the Dalai Lama, China, and the Olympic Games. The filmmakers gave their subjects the option of covering their faces, but almost all of the 108 people interviewed agreed to have their faces shown on film, so strong was their desire to express themselves to the world. Excerpts from twenty of the interviews, including a self-recorded interview of the filmmaker himself, are included in the 25 minute film.

The footage reveals with stark clarity that Tibetans are frustrated and embittered by the deterioration and marginalization of Tibetan language and culture; the destruction of the lifestyle of Tibetan nomads through Chinese forced settlement policies; the lack of religious freedom and the vilification of the Dalai Lama; and the broken promises made by the Chinese government to improve conditions in Tibet in the run up to the Olympic games. All are united in their reverence for the Dalai Lama and long for him to return, and as some even dream, to attend the Olympic Games.

The footage, which was smuggled out of their occupied homeland, “reveals with stark clarity that Tibetans are frustrated and embittered by the deterioration and marginalization of Tibetan language and culture; the destruction of the lifestyle of Tibetan nomads through Chinese forced settlement policies; the lack of religious freedom and the vilification of the Dalai Lama; and the broken promises made by the Chinese government to improve conditions in Tibet in the run up to the Olympic games,” explains the film’s official website. “All are united in their reverence for the Dalai Lama and long for him to return, and as some even dream, to attend the Olympic Games.”

“Shortly after concluding the documentary, Dhondup and Golog were arrested. They have now been missing since late March,” reports the video advocacy group, WITNESS. “In July, the family received word that the filmmakers had been ’severely tortured’ for ‘at least five days’. Since then, their whereabouts have remained unknown. The film was edited and completed by Gyaljong Tsertin, who now lives in Switzerland and is working to draw attention to the case.”

“On the closing Sunday of the Games, Dhondup’s wife, Lhamo-Tso, wrote a letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge to express her ‘desperation and sorrow’ and urge the IOC to pressure China to remain ‘true to its promise of freedom of expression’. ‘Their crime was to film Tibetans’ peaceful expression of their views on the XXIX Olympic Games,’ she says.”

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Cockettes

The Cockettes were a psychedelic drag queen troupe founded by Hibiscus in the late 1960s in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. The troupe performed outrageous parodies of show tunes (or original tunes in the same vein) and gained an underground cult following that led to mainstream exposure.
In 1971, over differences in philosophy, the group split into two separate groups, the Cockettes and The Angels of Light. The Cockettes continued to work as paid performers while the Angels of Light chose to do free theatre without admission charge.
The Cockettes were the subject of a 2002 documentary, The Cockettes

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Doors are in Fashion Again

The End

It seems there is a emergence of The Doors going on at the moment. As the many videos on YouTube suggest the dark poetic revelry of The Doors is still very popular, with a $15 million dollar deal offered in 2001:

Seven years ago, for instance, General Motors offered the partnership $15 million to use "Light My Fire" to sell Cadillacs, and everyone but Densmore wanted to take the deal.

Yesterday the news came that the name The Doors cannot be used without Jim Morrison, a nice gesture by John Densmore (whose book Riders on the Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison and The Doors from 1991 is worth reading if you are interested in a myth-free take on the band and the man) who won in a California court for himself and the estate of Morrison. He was opposed by Ray Manzerak and Robby Kreiger also of The Doors but who can no longer use the name for performances. More on the case and the intense dynamic of the band HERE.

At the same time this is going on, Classic Rock magazine is selling this month's edition at my local newsagent (at a rather inflated price). This month's issue features Jim Morrison on the cover and offers a 'Free DVD' (ha ha ha) on The Doors and is titled The Doors and the Psychedelic Revolution.

Finally in my RSS the other day came the tip that someone had posted some film of The Doors live in 1970:

The Doors Bakersfield 1970 rare footage

Expect more books, documentaries, films, box sets, DVDs, and so on and on....But what I remember in all this is the strength and beauty of the language and music that The Doors were capable of. I advise checking out some of the many videos on YouTube to reacquaint yourself with the Brechtian theater of the psychedelic dark ones.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Avarus life in the huishoudschool

Avarus are a band from Tampere, Finland. They were formed in 2001 by members of The Anaksimandros and Pylon and soon absorbed members of other Finnish bands such as Kiila, Munuaissymposium 1960, Kemialliset Ystävät. Avarus' floating line-up varies between 10 and 20 members.
Avarus are considered a key element in the Finnish psych folk scene which emerged in the early 2000s.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Lorax

The Lorax is a children's book, written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971 (I grew up with it). It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax (a "mossy, bossy" man-like creature resembling an emperor tamarin), who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. As in most of Dr. Seuss's works, most of the creatures mentioned are original to the book.

The book is commonly recognized as a fable concerning industrialized society, using the literary element of personification to give life to industry as the Once-ler (whose face is never shown in all of the story's illustrations) and to the environment as the Lorax. It has become a popular metaphor for those concerned about the human impact on the environment.


Friday, August 15, 2008

One World One Dream Free Tibet

With the help of three support people, two pro-Tibet activists rapelled from the top of a large Olympic billboard and unfurled a 375 square foot/115 square meter banner in front of Chinese state television’s new headquarters in Beijing early this morning.

The activists dropped the banner, which read “Free Tibet” in English and Chinese, over an Olympics billboard reading “Beijing 2008” at 5:45 am Beijing time. Chinese security officials gathered quickly outside the China Central Television (CCTV) building. After approximately 30 minutes, officials detained the five activists, whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Monday, August 11, 2008

How Buildings Learn

This six-part, three-hour, BBC TV series aired in 1997.

From Stewart Brand:
"I presented and co-wrote the series; it was directed by James Muncie, with music by Brian Eno. The series was based on my 1994 book, HOW BUILDINGS LEARN: What Happens After They’re Built. The book is still selling well and is used as a text in some college courses. Most of the 27 reviews on Amazon treat it as a book about system and software design, which tells me that architects are not as alert as computer people. But I knew that; that’s part of why I wrote the book. Anybody is welcome to use anything from this series in any way they like. Please don’t bug me with requests for permission. Hack away. Do credit the BBC, who put considerable time and talent into the project. Historic note: this was one of the first television productions made entirely in digital--- shot digital, edited digital. The project wound up with not enough money, so digital was the workaround. The camera was so small that we seldom had to ask permission to shoot; everybody thought we were tourists. No film or sound crew. Everything technical on site was done by editors, writers, directors. That’s why the sound is a little sketchy, but there’s also some direct perception in the filming that is unusual."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yakoana - The Voice of Indigenous Peoples (1997)

"Indigenous Peoples are united by a circle of life," declares Marcos Terena, leader of the Terena Tribe in the Amazon, one that the contemporary world does not understand. "It's a circle of life that circles the Earth, waters, the air, what you call ... the environment."

"The temple of centuries old wisdom, the life code that no scientist has ever managed to unveil rests with the Indians," he claims. 'You don't have to look any further or research any further or spend millions of dollars on new research."

'We do not have slums .... We do not have psychiatric hospitals in our villages," notes Terena. "We practice sustainable development. For us, this has been a daily routine in our lives."

YAKOANA is the authorized documentary of The First World Conference of Indigenous Peoples held in the jungles of Brazil the week prior to the United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro June 1992. Attended by nearly 1000 Tribal leaders from every continent on earth. YAKOANA captures the stories, music, ceremony and dance of this historic gathering. YAKOANA tells the stories of Native cultures, of their struggle for recognition and human rights, and of their ancient ways of living sustainably and in harmony with the earth. It presents the Indigenous People's world view which sees humanity as part of the sacred web of nature.

ya/ko/an/a n. dust from the resin of the virola elongata tree used by Yanomami Shamans in ceremony to enable them to perceive the breath of the planet, the song of the earth.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

88 Boadrum

88 Boadrum composed by the Boredoms and conducted by Brooklyn's Gang Gang Dance at the Williamsburg Waterfront in New York City on August 8th, 2008, 8:08 PM.

Ryan Sawyer (Tall Firs / Stars Like Fleas / Thurston Moore / Eye Contact / Lone Wolf and Cub)
Chris Brokaw (Come/ ffffflashlights/ Thurston Moore's New Wave Bandits)
Will Shmee (Knox Dad)
Suzanne Rogaleski (Lone Wolf and Cub / Badmittons)
Alex Holden (Big Numbers)
Brian Mcleod (Modest Mouse / Lights / Love as Laughter)
Torbitt Schwartz (Chin Chin / Reverend Vince Anderson)
Jaleel Bunton (TV on the Radio / Reverend Vince Anderson)
Brian Tamborello (Psychic Ills)
Jim Siegel (Ning Nong Radio)
Greg Anderson (Oakley Hall / Windsor for the Derby)
Dreiky Caprice (Crash Worship)
Matt Heyner (Malkuth / No-Neck Blues Band)
Joseph Stickney (Bear In Heaven / Rhys Chatham / Paul Duncan)
Matt Sweeney (Chavez / Zwan / Neil Diamond)
Samara Lubelski (Hall of Fame / Thurston Moore's New Wave Bandits)
Pete Nolan (Magik Markers / Spectre Folk)
Abby Portner (Rings / Hex Message)
Tom Peyton (Fakers / KGB)
John Moloney (Sunburned Hand of the Man)
Andrya Ambro (Talk Normal)
David Sparks
Spencer Herbst (Matta Llama)
Timothy Monaghan (J.A.C.K.)
Andrew Barker (Gold Sparkle Band)
Joseph Noll (My Best Fiend)
Dave Witte (Municipal Waste)
Nick Lesley (Necking / Gunung Sari)
Jim Sykes (Parts and Labor)
Michael Evans (God Is My Co-Pilot)
Dong-Ping Wong (Necking)
Spencer Sweeney
Nondor Nevai (Aborted Christ Child)
Jonathan Lockie (Sightings)
Dave Bergander (Celebration)
Jules Scott Key (Metric / Bang Lime)
Yuval Lion (Pink Noise)
Ronnie Seward (Whooping Crane)
Corinne Jones (Effi Briest)
Adam Lee (Let's Go Bowling)
Nancy Garcia (Monotract / Thurston Moore)
Ben McConnell (Phosphorescent)
Pascal Spengemann (Hex Message)
Speck Brown (Orphan)
Laura Rogers (The Rogers Sisters)
Rupert Clervaux (Sian Alice Group)
Kyle Warren (Dinowalrus)
Adam Marnie (The Mess of New Mexico)
Alex Epton (Spank Rock / XXXchange)
Otto Hauser (Espers / Bert Jansch / Vashti Bunyan)
Nick DeCarmine (Slow Dynamte)
Frank Haines (Blanko and Noiry)
Brian Deran
Marcus Burrowes (Rockersnyc)
Avi Cohen (Soiled Mattress and the Springs / Silk Flowers
Emmy Miller (Xtreme Violence / The Peppermints)
Ryan Tozzi
Oran Canfield (Child Abuse)
Erik Rappin (A.R.E. Weapons)
Matt McCauley (A.R.E. Weapons)
Brian McPeck (A.R.E. Weapons)
Brian Weitz (Animal Collective)
Kyle Simon (Baby Talk)
Danny Tunick (Arnold Dreyblatt / Fakers)
Leah Moskowitz (Bloody for Me)
Joe Wong (Parts and Labor)
Nathan Corbin (Excepter)
Hamish Kilgour (Clean and the Great Unwashed / Samara Lubelski)
Linnea Vedder Shults (LIGHTS)
Lacy Lancaster (Durty Nanas)
Kathleen Cholewka (Les Sans Culottes / Discovery)
Noah Lennox (Panda Bear / Animal Collective)
James Buonantuono (Other Passengers / Ruby Glass)
Sadie Laska (I.U.D. / Extreme Violence)
Keith Connolly (No-Neck Blues Band)
Jason Mills
James Corrigan (ON?OFF / Wool, Rivers)
Miles Levy (Malcolm Mooney / No Doctors)
Tommy Rouse (Entrance)
Eric Cohen (Caroliner Rainbow)
Christopher Weingarten (ex-Parts and Labor)
Tim Evans (Bogan Dust
Ian Vanek (Japanther)
Chris Millstein (Jah Division)
Nick Ray (Golden Triangle)
Travis Chance (Usurp Synapse)
Michael Colin (Aa)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Pipilotti Rist

I'm not the girl who misses much

Elisabeth Charlotte Rist (born in June 21th 1962 in Grabs, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland) is a well-known video artist. She lives and works in Zurich and Los Angeles.
Elisabeth Charlotte Rist was born in 1962 in Grabs, Sankt Gallen, in Switzerland. Since her childhood she has been nicknamed Pipilotti. The name refers to the novel Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren.
Rist studied at the Institute of Applied Arts in Vienna, through 1986. She later studied video at the School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung) in Basel, Switzerland. In 1997 her work was first featured in the Venice Biennial, where she was awarded the Premio 2000 Prize.
From 1988 through 1994 she was member of the music band and performance group Les Reines Prochaines. From 2002 to 2003, she was invited by Professor Paul McCarthy to teach at UCLA as a visiting faculty member.
Pipilotti Rist currently lives with her common law partner Balz Roth, with whom she has a son, named Himalaya.

Pipilotti Rist. Aujourd´Hui

Pipilotti Rist - I'm a victim of this song.1995

Pipilotti Rist talks about her video installation ‘Show a Leg’ (2001) at the Tramway gallery in an edition of Channel 6 Broadcasting’s television show, ‘Art in Scotland’. Recorded in the gallery Rist says ‘Show a Leg’ is about positive hysteria, our common wish to be special, balanced by a desire not to be crazy. The programme is illustrated with lengthy shots of her ethereal projected videos in the large spaces of the Tramway, which she describes as a moving poem. The dreamlike images take a deliberately female perspective, the viewpoint of a wild strong human being, on the fine borderline between uniqueness and insanity. A former stage designer for musicians, the artist tells Robert Morgan about her influences, her use of new technology and her views about the role of art in the age of television and mass entertainment.

Currently at FACT (Foundation for Art and Technology) in Liverpool Pippilotta is haveing a show and you can download the PDF gallery guide which provides an insight into this amazing artist's work and thought.

See also Pickleporno
A Compilation of 14 Rist videos can be seen on UBUWEB

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The World Turned Upside Down

Set in the present time the story is narrated by a historical figure, Gerrard Winstanley, an important writer and figure head for the Diggers movement. The story ghosts a past struggle against the enclosure of common land through a series of flashbacks. The film explores how our relationship to land and ownership has not changed since the Diggers claim that England is a 'common treasury for all'

The film begins in London as two squatters, Sam and Cath are evicted from their home. Now homeless, they travel to the country to stay with friends, Michael and Jane, who are living on a farm, searching for the 'goodlife'. However the farm is not the tranquil idle they seek. Trouble is brewing and the locals are trying to evict a traveller band that is camped out on the farm. The farmer Michael is caught between his liberal beliefs, the local's prejudices and his relationship with Josh, the traveller's leader.

Through a series of flashbacks the struggle of the Diggers in 17th Century England parallels the story, and echo's of a battle fought long ago on this same land begin to creep into the tale. Illustrated by Winstanley's prose, the film questions our relationship to the land as inevitably, peoples true feelings begin to rise to the surface leading to a tragic final conflict.

Michael Wesch on Space, Media and Literacy

An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube
Michael Wesch, a professor of cultural anthropology, has become something of an internet phenomenon, having produced two wonderful videos that help demystify the world of Web 2.0. (Definitely check them out here and here). Now he has a new video getting some play. Below you can watch a talk he recently gave at The Library of Congress, where he uses video to dissect the new mediascape that we’re living in, and how it’s changing our relationships … for better or for worse.

A Portal to Media Literacy. Micheal Wesch speaks at the University of Manitoba June 17th 2008.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rock Arena, Queensland and the Dreams of Punk

In the mid-1980s I was a teenager living in a tiny village on the edge of the outback in Queensland, Australia. The state was run by the National Party, a group of right-wing religious loonies who thought gambling, music on the Sabbath and dancing wildly were wrong. We got one channel on TV, the national ABC. On the ABC was Rock Arena, a lifeline for a young man with a fringe who enjoyed new wave and old punk music. I watched Suzanne Dowling deliver music clips in her deadpan style from far away centres of cultural enlightenment (London, New York, Sydney), where music was not just "the two sorts" we had (country and western) and art was not an insult. When I was about sixteen I tried to organize a band for the school dance (local proto-grunge band from Toowoomba 'The Artbeats') but the principle told me not to be ridiculous. So, in a mood for reminiscing I put up some clips from Rock Arena and three documents that reveal something of the environment I (and millions of others) grew up in Queensland ruled by Joh and the nationals (the government from 1969-1989), described today by the Fairfax Press as.

Those who are shocked at George Bush's questionable intellect, his mangling of the language, his blind Christian certainty, the use of righteous force against opponents and the strong suggestion of business cronyism, if not outright corruption of the body politic, need to get out more. Or read Evan Whitton and Phil Dickie on Queensland in the 1970s and '80s.
Johannes Bjelke-Petersen's reign - and it was a reign, for power rested in him in a virtually feudal manner - offered all those horrors.
And while it was on a modest scale by international standards, and led to no invasions or wars, it was nonetheless an astonishing, giddy madness so close to home.

Gravity Pirates - This Way To The Cargo Cult. Introduced by Suzanne Dowling on Rock Arena. Produced by Lobby Loyde (who is mentioned in the chapter you can download below from the book Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden, the story of rock music behind the bananna curtain, in Brisbane 1974-2000)

TISM (This Is Serious Mum)- Anarchy (Live @ The Club 1988)

Hunters and Collectors Talking to a Stranger (1982) Not actually from Rock Arena but I remember seeing it on the show a lot when I was a teenager and liking it.

Severed Heads made an appearance on Rock Arena in 1986 to perform a in studio set. This is part one of two.

- Petrol
- A Million Angels
- Bless This House

Severed Heads made an appearance on Rock Arena in 1986 to perform a in studio set. This is part two of two.

- Big Blue Is Back
- Harold & Cindy Hospital
- Propeller
- Halo

Jesus and Mary Chain, Just Like Honey (1985). Another that was introduced to me via Rock Arena.

The Smiths, How Soon is Now (1984). The Smiths were a favourite on Rock Arena. The Smiths were about as a far away from Queensland politics in the mid 1980s as you could get.

And now for some documentation:

Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden - UQ eSpace
This is chapter 1 of Pig City: from the Saints to Savage Garden by Andrew Stafford. From cult heroes the Saints and the Go-Betweens to national icons Powderfinger and international stars Savage Garden, Brisbane has produced more than its share of great bands. But behind the music lay a ghost city of malice and corruption. Pressed under the thumb of the Bjelke-Petersen government and its toughest enforcers - the police - Brisbane's musicians, radio announcers and political activists braved ignorance, harassment and often violence to be heard. Pig City maps the shifts in musical, political and cultural consciousness that have shaped the city's history and identity. This is Brisbane's story - the story of how a city finally grew up.

[Originals in the possession of John E Ransley]
A collection of papers relating to the banning of all public protest without a permit by the National Party government. My parents were involved in the Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) and the civil liberties movement in Toowoomba in the late 70s and early 80's. I wasn’t watching alternative music videos then (I do remember my aunt returning from London in 1977 and giving me a gold razor blade, she said all the young people were wearing them in London), but this gives an idea of the atmosphere of Queensland at the time.

The Revolution will not be Televised!
A Campaign for Free Expression in Queensland
(1982-1983) by Ciaron O'Reilly

The successful Free Speech campaign in Brisbane during 1982 and 1983 is well documented in this pamphlet by Ciaron O'Reilly. Since the late 1960's Brisbane has had an active and diverse number of anarchist and libertarian groups, which have been prominent in all protest movements and local campaigns.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Shamanism among the Sanema

Bruce Parry, Tribe

The Sanema People
Live in: Upper Caura region of Venezuela
Culture: spiritual rainforest dwellers, partly nomadic
On Bruce's visit: he trains as a shaman
Part of a larger group of 20,000 people known as the Yanomami, the Sanema people believe that spirits dwell in everything around them. The trees, rocks, rivers and animals all have a spirit with whom the tribal shamans can communicate. Once totally nomadic, the Sanema now settle in villages and cultivate papayas, bananas, yuccas, chillies and sugarcane. Though they live in a biosphere reserve, an area protected by law, their way of life is threatened by the continual destruction of huge swathes of the surrounding rainforest.

"A powerful shaman can invite particular hekura to occupy him. The spirits crawl in through your feet or arsehole and up into your chest cavity, then hack away at the foliage which they believe to be there. They then string up a hammock between your ribs and start to sing. This is the song you hear coming out of the mouths of the shaman." Bruce Parry "Tribe: Adventures in a Changing World" (Michael Joseph Ltd, 2007

Two Nick Drake Documentaties

Nick coming back from gathering breakfast

Nicholas Rodney Drake
(June 19, 1948 – November 25, 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician best known for his acoustic, autumnal songs. His primary instrument was the guitar, though he was also proficient at piano, clarinet, and saxophone. Although he failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, Drake's work has grown steadily in stature, to the extent that he now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years.

Drake signed to Island Records when he was twenty years old, and released his debut album Five Leaves Left in 1969. By 1972 he had recorded a further two albums (Bryter Later and Pink Moon), although none sold more than five thousand copies in their initial releases, while his reluctance to perform live or be interviewed further contributed to his lack of commercial success. Despite this, he was able to gather a loyal group of people who would champion his music. One such person was his manager, Joe Boyd, who had a clause put into his own contract with Island Records that ensured Nick's records would never go out of print. Drake battled with depression and insomnia throughout his life, and the topics were often reflected in his lyrics. Upon completion of his third album, 1972's Pink Moon, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. On 25 November, 1974, Drake died from an overdose of the prescribed antidepressant, amitriptyline.

A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake (2000)
Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

A Stranger Among Us: Searching for Nick Drake (1999)

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Alan Moore on Subversion

Alan Moore (born November 18, 1953 in Northampton) is an English writer most famous for his influential work in comics, including the acclaimed graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell.He has also written a novel, Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some of which have been released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moore is notable for being one of the first writers to apply literary and formalist sensibilities to the mainstream of the medium as well as including challenging subject matter and adult themes. He brings a wide range of influences to his work such as; William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson and Iain Sinclair, New Wave science fiction writers like Michael Moorcock and horror writers like Clive Barker. Influences within comics include Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Bryan Talbot

Moore discusses his unconventional religious beliefs with the comedian Stewart Lee.