Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I actually have been blogging quite regularly--sort of. I've been reading quite a bit, researching steadily if not on anything earth-shattering, but whenever I make a blogpost, I just save it as a draft. Then I realize I'm just journaling, and that nobody should care about what book I just read or what youtube video I just watched. For example, Walter Benjamin wrote that because of letters to the editor, people would no longer be content to be readers, but would want a share in the author function. Then again, he never had to suffer through a facebook note about 17 things I didn't know about someone I once sat behind in chemistry. Would this warrant a blog post?

I had the strangest experience last night. I was reading an august, overpriced, east-coast based magazine that Conde Nast target-markets to all of my demographic. Am I ironic and vaguely liberal, yet pragmatic? Check. Am I a self-consciously critical consumer who's hopelessly susceptible to Elektra/Nonesuch's marketing practices? Check.


My assignment for the night was to read three articles by Christopher Waterman on Yoruban identity and pop music, of course via PDF. My weary eyes had to take a break, and lo and behold, found myself flipping through the New Yorker.

By the way, David Remnick, YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE WITH THOSE 90 PAGE SUMMER DOUBLE ISSUES. Or am I the only one who still buys magazines?

Anyway, I was in a vaguely African frame of mind, so picked up the magazine and turned to a mammoth Jeffrey Goldberg article (good job, Jeffrey Goldberg--now that's content!) on Mark and Delia Owens, who ended up settling in a giant game park in Zambia, away from modern conveniences save for, you know, a Cessna. After early experiments in infrastructural investment (proto-micro-lending), Mark Owens started to go all Colonel Kurtz on suspected poachers.

I was reading along in a special room I reserve for magazine reading, and ran into this passage:

We received a radio message that Bernard Mutondo [one of the commercial poachers] was coming to camp to shoot elephants, to kill them. . . . That evening I went to the airstrip with Kasokola, my most trusted assistant. And I took the door off the airplane and turned the right-hand seat around and strapped him in, with a shotgun across his lap. No, this wasn’t loaded with conventional ammunition. It was loaded with a special shell that shoots firecrackers. . . . It shoots cherry bombs, honestly. And it projects these to one hundred yards, and they go off with a tremendous roar and a flash of light and smoke and everything. And they’re perfectly harmless—farmers use these things to scare marauding animals away from their crops . . . but of course poachers wouldn’t know that.

I guess there still are readers. I guess.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Free Philip Glass!

No, that's not a peroration, exhortation, or rallying cry; he's not in jail or otherwise oppressed (in fact, it seems he's doing quite well).

If you've been wanting to check out any of Philip Glass's work on the Orange Mountain label (I highly recommend the Wendy Sutter album) but don't like spending money, you're in luck: a free sampler at the Amazon MP3 store. Listening to the sampler all the way through, sure, you'll hear your fair share of minor arpeggios, but variety really starts to emerge favorably. [I'm too tired to erect, and then knock down, the familiar, too-easy knocks on Glass. Suffice it to say, go listen to the Violin Concerto 25 times if you need convincing. You'll be a believer sooner or later.]

If you think you're not a fan, well... What have you got to lose but some hard drive space?

I'm too tired to expand on this, but more's coming later. Lots of news, ruminations, information, links bubbling in my mind, if I can keep my "projects" on hold long enough to type in this silly little box.