“Jesus Jones? THE Jesus Jones?” Holy Crap!

The Guardian has an editorial from Mike Edwards, the not-former lead singer of Jesus Jones (of “Right Here, Right Now” fame). I say “not-former” because it turns out they are still around and still touring; the article is about the travails of being a band for corporate gigs.

Like other teens, when I was younger I formed a notion about the purity of art versus payment for art (this correlates inversely with the number of 15-year-olds paying mortgages) that made it an Offence In Rock to accept an honest month’s pay for an honest three minutes’ work.

It’s well-written and intelligent and fairly self-deprecating, the kind of thing that makes me root for someone and hope the absolute best for them.

Funny thing is, I was this close to seeing them in concert when I was in high school. My girlfriend had bought tickets and was going to take me (I think they were playing on my birthday), but she was in a car accident, the car was totalled, and the tickets that were in the glove box were stolen. Turns out later, they weren’t actually stolen; one of the police officers who reported at the scene thoughtfully cleared out the vehicle and gave it to her stepfather, who was a cop as well. He never bothered to give the bag of remainders to her until a few weeks later. We broke up too.

On a whim, I just looked up their band site jesusjones.com, and it’s fairly witty. You go Jesus Jones!

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Eigenradio: “only the beats with the highest entropy”

If I could do it all over again, I would have gone to MIT and worked in the Media Lab. Curse you Negroponte!

An example: Eigenradio.

Quoting from the site:

Eigenradio plays only the most important frequencies, only the beats with the highest entropy. If you took a bunch of music and asked it, “Music, what are you, really?” you’d hear Eigenradio singing back at you. When you’re tuned in to Eigenradio, you always know that you’re hearing the latest, rawest, most statistically separable thing you can possibly put in your ear. Tune in and hear the future of music

While I listened for a few minutes, I caught some hip hop, Norah Jones, a classical piece, a polka klezmer ditty, and much glitchy randomness. It’s strangely relaxing, sort of like the warm crackle of an AM radio tuner at night, when you can catch signals from around the world.

Only difference is, Eigenradio is possessed.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

before

after

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Music for a Monday

Got Kung-Tunes up and running on the site over the weekend. Don’t know why I think it is so freakin’ cool to have people know what I’m listening to, particularly when it’s a guilty pleasure like this one

In honor of cool technology that may or may not change the world, check out www.napsterbits.com/. This is a promo site for Napster 2.0, which should be debuting sometime this fall. Don’t know if I’ll care for the actual product but the site has some pretty sweet flash animations of the Napster kitty busting out of music purgatory, getting shot, and then coming back to life. More episodes are forthcoming. I can dig it.

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Saw Daredevil last night. Ugh.

Finally got around to watching Daredevil, seeing as Wendi’s 10-year-old neice Morgan says it’s one of her favorite movies. Oh the future of America!

My biggest issue with the movie actually wasn’t Ben Affleck, although I dislike him now even more than I did before the movie. Nor was it the unremarkable special effects—the funky echolocation second sight was cancelled out the crappy, Spiderman-esque CGI. Even the script, such as it was, could be excused for being a shallow rip-off of Batman.

No, the thing that bugged me the most was the wildly uneven tone and pacing. It was as if there were four different movies being made, with separate editors and directors: there was the cartoony action movie with the slapdash seques, the tormented vigilante flick with the dark alleys and slow pans, the court procedural with the straight blocking, and the music video (self-explanatory). There was also the romantic comedy that ended up on the cutting room floor—how else to explain the thoroughly bizarre “we fought the other day, now let’s date” sequence of events?

At least it wasn’t Batman and Robin.

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My Two Cents on Nickled and Dimed

Don’t know whether anyone else has been following this story, but briefly, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has issued a required summer reading list for incoming freshmen that includes Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Righties say the book is too-one sided, that it villifies capitalism and corporations without providing the context of economic competitiveness. University officials are shocked and surprised that anyone would complain about a book that explains the state of affairs for working stiffs everywhere.

(For a nicely balanced description of the situation in context of the war between conservatives and liberals, read this article in Raleigh-based The News & Observer)

I, for one, don’t think that the freshmen should read the book, but not because of the underlying message—I agree, for instance, that the minimum wage should be increased. The students shouldn’t have to read it because it isn’t a very good book in the first place.

It’s supposed to be a first-person account of the struggles being working poor, but I never felt true sympathy for Ehrenreich and her flight of fancy into temporary poverty. Sure she cuts her access to savings, limits the amount of education and experience she puts on resumés, and so forth, but she always has her upper-class life to return to and uses that as a psychical barrier between her and the people she works with. This distance ends up coming across as condescending, that these individuals are characters in her novel, with only enough detail to show their other-ness when compared to her. It’s this half-amused, half-pitying “let’s save the poor, ignorant natives” kind of reporting that truly rubbed me the wrong way. They are “her” people in the Marxist class struggle sense, but not in the “equal, let’s hang out” sense at all.

In fact, I never got the feeling that she ever gets to know any of the people she works with, that when she isn’t working at the low-paying job, she’s back at her apartment writing notes and preparing this book. She focuses on the struggles of living at a lower income but ignores any positive experiences or enjoyable moments that can make a hard life bearable, namely friends and fun. And that’s sad, because I think it would have really helped the story (and her case) to get to know the people who aren’t just “experimenting” but actually have to live the life of working poor. How do they live their lives when they aren’t at work? What do they do for enjoyment? How do they view their predicament?

To capture the emotion of the working poor, to feel outrage about their predicament (which I believe UNC was trying to foster by assigning the book), I think a better bet would be to have them read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Sure, it’s a hundred years old, but it manages to get me frothing about corporations and exploitation like few books can.

Sometimes first-person nonfiction just doesn’t cut it.

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