Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Video & the Journalistic Eye:: Montréal Gazette & The Matthew Besner Case


image:: vidcap from video posted on Montréal Gazette website

I was doing searches on the Lachine Canal in Montréal, as I'll be visiting the area shortly, and I came across a sad story of a man who died on its south shore. Here's a blog post from Footprints at the River's Edge that was posted when Matthew Besner went missing, along with news updates. While the police do not expect foul play, how and why Matthew got into the canal is a mystery.

The Montréal Gazette posted an 18 second video of the recovery scene, which caused a bit of controversy. The gist of it being the nature of video with respect to journalistic integrity. Catherine Wallace wrote a story chronicling the story and the fallout of the video::
"Does video have more emotional pull than still photos? Does it, as one reader said, make things more real? And if that's the case, should we apply different standards for video than we use for still photos, whether we use the photos in the print paper or online?
Did it make a difference that the video was posted on our YouTube channel, which is how we handle all our videos, as most news organizations do? Is YouTube more associated with entertainment? Or was the video viewed differently when not accompanied by the news story that ran with it at montrealgazette.com? 
Would it have made a difference if the video were more polished - if there had been a voiceover from a reporter or some text relating the facts of the story?"
My initial reaction to the video [warning to those who may find this too graphic or an invasion of privacy] on its own is that it does contextualize the remote location, as Catherine Wallace mentions, but the video packs an emotional punch.


It's not graphic, but it paints a somber picture of a death scene, near an iconic landmark of Montréal, on a lonely canal bank while snow falls. It also strikes me as an invasion of privacy, specifically, the showing of the covered body. 

I think what could have changed things is contextualizing the video within a larger picture of solving an open mystery. So, I do think more text imploring anyone who may have seen Matthew in the vicinity or have any information regarding the case. Social media has the power of allowing for content, including video content, to be shared quickly. Because of this, I'm glad the Gazette is keeping the video online. This could help figure out what happened, which I feel makes this situation different than one where posting a video could be construed as serving voyeuristic purposes.

I've chosen to post the video not just to illustrate a question of journalistic praxis with the advent of social media, but also to help get the word out on this case. As of last week, the police don't have any idea why he was at the canal. Here are links to the Montréal Police {SVPM} contact page [Eng/Fr.]

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] Montréal Gazette reports on a death along the Lachine Canal & controversy erupts w/video of the scene. @Prof_K


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Naomi The Show




I was clued into this, Naomi The Show, not to be confused with The Naomi Show, which is far infinitely less entertaining, by Marcel Perro, who stars in this episode. Here's a link to YouTube channel and Naomi Dayneswood's website. The Internet comedy show juxtaposes normality with the crazy and all of the ensuing awkwardness—all on a park bench and showing that Vancouver does indeed have a few sunny autumn days.

Twitterversion:: [blog+links] Season one of Naomi The Show online, showing that cancon need not be drivel! @Prof_K


newmusicmonday #74:: Collapsing Opposites


image:: Collapsing Opposites, MySpaceMusic


Genreexperimental pop
MembersRyan McCormick
Laura Hatfield {drums}
Jarret Evan Sampson {bass}
Chris-A-Riffic {keyboards}
CityVANCOUVER, BC, Canada
Recent releasevia Geographing Records, 'In Time' LP $11














      MySpace





        CBCr3







       last.fm

I'm behind on my newmusicmondays due to travels to Ottawa, but I'll try to catch up next week with two instalments. Ryan McCormick's Collapsing Opposites evolved out of his solo endeavour after his stint in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?. Collapsing the band into labels like quirky or nerdcore wouldn't do the band justice. The lyrics explore darker themes and Ryan's distinct vocals give the band a distinct signature and meaning. There are plenty of tracks streamed on their CBCr3 page and this Weird Canada review might give you a better impression of what they're all about. Here's a video of a live performance of "You Can Escape from Time"::




Twitterversion:: [blog+video] #newmusicmonday featuring Ryan McCormick's Collapsing Opposites from Vancouver, BC. http://goo.gl/DLtYw


Friday, December 17, 2010

More Friday Night Videos:: Nouvelle Vague with Julie Delpy


I think I'm unfair in my dislike of some actors crossing over into singing. The other way around isn't such a problem with me, as I still believe that Mick Jagger in Freejack {1992} was cinematic gold {cue laughter} and still remember Chris Isaak in Silence of the Lambs {1992}. Anyway. I've been irked by Zooey Deschanel and Scarlet Johansson dabbling in recording. Maybe I'm just cranky.

Somehow, Julie Delpy doing "La La La" works for me. I tend to like Nouvelle Vague and I think this song is a good vehicle for Delpy. The retrovideo doesn't hurt...


I wanna dance like we used to
When it was pure, when it was new
Love me whole, like I love you
Wanna be free, but free with you
I wanna dance like we used to
And not worry about you and me
We’re gonna die of global warming
Or even flu or creating smoking
I want to stay here for a while
Until it’s time to let go
I like to really take my time
Explore all that comes to mind
I like dance like we used to
Before the new world order world
Don’t wanna do what others do
Let’s pretend there’s no rules
I wanna dance like we used to
We’re so lucky and so spoiled
You and I have such futile jobs
Let’s stop acting like kings and queens
I want to stay here for a while
Until it’s time to let go
I like to really take my time
Explore all that comes to mind
FRENCH VERSES
Lalalalala…

Twitterversion:: [video] #FridayNightVideo:: Julie Delpy doing "LaLaLa" w/Nouvelle Vague. http://goo.gl/Ea74z    @Prof_K







Friday Night Videos:: China Crisis, The Stranglers, & Buzzcocks





Twitterversion:: [videos] #FridayNightVideos, three from the wayback machine:: China Crisis, Stranglers, & Buzzcocks http://goo.gl/q2c2F   @Prof_K


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Zuckerberg as Time's Person of the Year


I don't take much stock in Time's "Person of the Year", but I must say I thought Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame was a lock, but I think that choice was a bit too radioactive. I just wonder if in a decade that Zuckerberg or Facebook are still a going concern or fall back into the woodwork like so much AOL and their signature, "You Got Mail"::


Not to knock Zuckerberg, but I could see Facebook being the "technology of the year", which seems to be the driving reason for the choice. In 1982, the computer was the machine of the year::


My thoughts on that choice with 20/20 hindsight is that this was about 14-15 years early. I feel that the computer really became an important, everyday technology with the adoption of the web. My point being is that it's often hard to gauge what's a "big" idea and when. While Facebook may seem like a gamechanging technology that's ubiquitous, I wonder if this will actually come to pass as living up to the hype.

Anyway, maybe Time is being prescient by choosing Zuckerberg for Person of the Year. Here's Lev Grossman, a Time senior writer talks to CNN about the choice::


I'm curious on how Zuckerberg's Facebook evolves with Web 3.0, which might be at cross-purposes with user concerns about privacy. I don't dispute that Facebook will get to 1B users worldwide in 2012, but I wonder about its interoperability with other sites and how it will relate to Google. I say this, as I think there is an anthropological meaning system that users have with respect to Facebook. I think it does a great job of social reproduction, but it's more problematic when it comes to bridging functions—since users often aren't interested in knowing strangers. Facebook is trying to be a one-stop social networking site, but fails to consider that users may want to compartmentalize their ties:
  • Familial
  • Social
  • Economic & work-related
  • Political
  • Entertainment
Given that there's an emphasis on "real" identities, I feel a great emancipatory possibility of networks has been lost—although I understand why technology is evolving this way. It makes it more commercially viable.


Twitterversion:: [blog] Thoughts on Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg as Time's Person of the Year. What? Not Assange‽ http://goo.gl/p26TC @Prof_K

Viral Video of Bellagio Bandit

This video of a motorcycle robber hitting The Bellagio is making the rounds::


Makes me think of the Ocean's Eleven scene with the top casino heists::



Twitterversion:: [video] Viral vid of motorcycle riding casino bandit that hit The Bellagio, plus Ocean's 11 top heists scene. http://goo.gl/CTm7R @Prof_K


Murdochville, QC


image:: Downtown Murdochville, QC, Daniel Silverman, To Gaspé and Back

I've never been further east in Canada than Sutton, Québec in the Eastern Townships/Cantons de l'est, but I hope to remedy that this year. I've been hoping to get out to the Gaspé and also have been eyeing the Trans-Labrador Highway. Reading up on recent Québec history has made me want to visit places like Thetford Mines {I might pass on the mine tour} and Murdochville, sites of labour struggles in the province.


I've been reading up on the FLQ and the writings of its onetime philosopher, Pierre Vallières. As an aside, here'a a link to an Archives de Radio-Canada video on Vallières, which would make the Toronto Sun staff livid, given their reaction to the coverage of the 40 year anniversary of the October Crisis. Oh, where's Sue-Ann Levy to call the felquistes, felchistes or something of that ilk, but that might be too clever for her. I digress.
Vaillières was politically motivated as a reaction to Maurice Duplessis and his dealings with labour unions and strikes in Asbestos and Murdochville. The 1957 Murdochville strike lasted for 7 months, with Duplessis working to disallow union formation by the United Steel Workers of America. The USWA was thwarted and wouldn't represent the workers until 1965, when the labour code was changed.

The mines at Murdochville closed in 2002 and the town is trying to reinvent itself and getting into wind power.


Twitterversion:: [blog] musings on Murdochville, Québec on the Gaspé. @Prof_K

When Broadband Isn't Broadband




image:: Speedtest for Rogers Cable highspeed Internet, downtown Toronto

When it's too slow.

I've been working on a project dealing with the Internet in the Canadian North, i.e., Nunavut and Nunavik, Québec, where the satellite broadband speeds aren't quite up to standards of southern Canada. Well, Rogers here in Toronto is no great shakes, either {above}. A colleague of mine in the Chicagoland office sent me this Endgaget post on a FCC report on the state of broadband in the US, geographically. [FCC report pdf]. The new standards for broadband are 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream::
"...about 68% of reportable Internet access service connections (or 90,963,000 connections) in December 2009 were too slow in both the downstream and upstream directions, or too slow in a single direction, to meet the broadband availability benchmark adopted in the Sixth Broadband Deployment Report."
My Rogers connection in Toronto also doesn't pass muster. Below is a map of households by census track with 768 kbps downstream and 200 kbps upstream.


In other FCC news, the agency is set to vote on net neutrality next week on 21 December. Julius Genachowski has an open Internet proposal, but there's opposition from the left and the right. The political football is over the regulation of broadband and the telcos are surprisingly not categorically against it.

Twitterversion:: [blog] When is broadband not really broadband? FCC report shows 68% of broadband falls short of being truly highspeed   http://goo.gl/eB5pL @Prof_K

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rockcoon!


image:: hip raccoon, near Baldwin & Augusta, Toronto, ON, CA, via Vandalist

I was looking for background on drawings of or by "Andrew" showing up around Toronto {still working on that}, but I found the Rockcoon on Torontoist's Vandalist. Here's another "installation"::


Twitterversion:: [images] Rockcoon showing up on the mean streets of #Toronto. @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #73:: Lux



image:: Lux, MySpace Music

GenreShoegaze indie noise fuzzpop
MembersDavid {Vocals, Guitar, Noise, Synth, Beats}
Leah {Vocals, Synth, Guitar, Beats, Noise}

CitySeattle, WA, US



   


   






  reverbnation










'Disorders 1.5'
I don't know why, but I've been known to get into noisy fuzzpop this time of year. This seattle duo is definitely worth checking out, if that's your bag. There's plenty of tracks for listening on the ReverbNation, MySpace, Facebook, & Bandcamp links above. I love how they have the pay what you want philosophy on Bandcamp. The haunting vocals, fuzzy noise, and machine gun drumming of "Out of Love" on 'Disorders 1.5' makes it one of my favourite tracks of theirs::






Leah did a great remix of of Montreal's "Famine Affair" [of M official video], which is part of a SoundCloud remix contest .

 Famine Affair (Luxy Little Leah Mix) by LeahLux

Their bio is simple and to the point::
"David was looking for a gal to start a band with. Leah was looking for a guy to start a band with. They had never met, but through a twist of fate and a turn of unexpected events, one found the other. Within days they exchanged a number of recordings and had their first practice, and discovered that their musical styles fit together like Bonnie and Clyde. Thus Lux was formed."
If I were stuck in the 80s, which I'm not, I'd say there were homages to Kraftwerk, early Orchestral Manœuvres, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Siouxie, but that would just be so much pretentious name-dropping without noting anything really obscure. It doesn't look like Pitchfork has written about them, yet—I have a feeling they will, so I'll leave it to them to rattle off the name of bands Lux sounds like that precious few have heard of.

"Candylux" on Disorders Part I is another gem with an infectious chorus of "Candy Luxembourg..." Their October single, "I'll Try to Ignore the Fact That You're Drowning" draws you in with its pop hooks, but surrounds you with a psycho-psychecholia that makes you feel you've gotten into more than you bargained for. In other words, great stuff.


I'll leave you with "Little Cripple", fusing sweet vocals amidst all kinds of disturbances, sonic and otherwise::



Twitterversion:: [blog+music streams] #newmusicmonday featuring the shoegaze indie noisepop of Seattle's Lux. @Prof_K

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Apollo 9

I just needed to hear this::


Twitterversion:: [video] Just needed to hear this for no real reason:: "Apollo 9" by Adam Ant http://vox.rhizomicon.com/2010/12/apollo-9.html  @Prof_K

Monday, December 06, 2010

newmusicmonday #72:: The Russian Futurists

CBC Session
image:: CBC Session, MySpace

Genrealt pop, space pop
MembersMatthew Adam Hart

CityToronto, ON, Canada
Upcoming Tour Dates & LabelNo dates scheduled
Upper Class Recordings














It's not as if Matthew Hart's The Russian Futurists are unknowns, as it's received some acclaim from the first release in 2000, but it's been 5 years since their last album. The band consists of Matthew Hart and others join him for live performances.

Last month's "The Weight's on the Wheels" [insound; emusic; first single "Hoeing Weeds Sowing Seeds" free download] is a bit of a shift in direction. The sound is lusher and fuller. Several tracks from the album are streamed on the CBCr3 link above. His minimalist style is still there, but surrounded by clever arrangements that create a melange of sounds that aren't muddy or disintegrate.

"Paul Simon" from 'Our Thickness' {2005} [as well as 'Me, Myself, and Rye: An Introduction to The Russian Futurists' {2006}] is a bit of pop confection that's been featured on Samsung phones. I like the video shot in Toronto with Matthew's nonchalant demeanor. In my mind, it's merging 70s sugar pop, backed with horns, and juxtaposed with his low key vocals.


"Let's Get Ready to Crumble" is the title track to the 2003 album of the same title, fuses his low-fi sound to an interpretation of 80s UK synthpop::

The new album, The Weight's on the Wheels, has more mergings of styles and influences with production help from Michael Musmanno {Outkast, Lilys, Arrested Development}. A deft ear can hear Matthew's hiphop background bubbling through. The Pitchfork review on the album is a bunch of words that typically really don't say much. Well, I do agree that Matthew's pushing his vocals up in the mix on this album, which might take a bit of getting used to. The KCRW blog does a better succinct job here. The 10 tracks are all streamed on CBCr3 {above} and I suggest checking them out—and keep it going to hear older tracks like "C'mon" with a nod to psychedelia with a twist.

I like where this album is going in a trajectory, with tight lyrics and a willingness to eschew obvious and pedestrian pop hooks—the hallmark of an obvious cash grab.

The duet with ex-Heavy Blinkers' vocalist Ruth Minnikin {left}, "One Night, One Kiss" is a great pop song. There's not much edge here, but that's not the point. It's crafted indie pop to satisfy cravings for sweets::



Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday featuring #Toronto's The Russian Futurists. New album out, 'The Weight's on the Wheels' @Prof_K


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Don Cherry to Introduce Rob Ford at Council Meeting:: We Have the Perfect Song...



"Hockey Night In Afghanada" by The Consumer Goods. Track page on Bandcamp [streaming+download available].

"Hockey Night in Afghanada" was submitted to the CBC for consideration as the new theme music for Hockey Night in Canada. It was rejected.


lyrics


"fuck don cherry! there, i said it. how long are we gonna let it be okay to turn hockey skates into recruitment gates for the army? 'beautiful boys' on the screen, white faces shaved so smooth and clean - noble hearts in the noble arts of war and occupation. there's nothing about pucks in nets, skates on ice, sticks on skin that says "it's okay if some brown person loses a limb." there's nothing about ron maclean, the CBC, hits from behind that say "it's alright to bomb a few foreigners from the sky." fuck the anthems that celebrate the ass we kick on a foreign stage - the only leaf i see is losing 6-3 and that's fine with me, oh i know... it seems a harmless thing as we stand and sing, but in afghanada it's another thing. there's no peace to keep when you ride up in a jeep and you blow the bleep out of some children. there's nothing about pucks in nets, skates on ice, sticks on skin that says "it's okay if some brown person loses a limb." there's nothing about ron maclean, the CBC, hits from behind that say "it's alright to bomb a few foreigners from the sky."


credits



   from The Anti​-​Imperial Cabaret, released 01 June 2008"




Twitterversion:: [blog+video+music] Don Cherry to introduce Rob Ford at city council & here's the perfect song to regale both... @Prof_K

Writing & the Concept of Cool...

I was reading this Heather Havrilesky review of "Men of a Certain Age" on Salon.com, a site which tends to be a punching bag of mine due to their ridonculousness [see "Conning Capitalism" on ThickCulture]. Heather brings up an interesting point, in that this new TNT show that features older guys talking like "post-menopausal women" and that the show eschews cool, making it charming. 

Early this year, I blogged about NBC's 'Parenthood', which is another show that isn't that cool, although it inserts hip songs to assure thirty- and fortysomethings that they're not totally relegated to irrelevanceland. I'm sort of curious how 'Men of a Certain Age' portrays this widening demographic of middle-aged viewers with broken dreams, diminished expectations, and a sagging 401-k portfolio. I'm a fan of Braugher, although he does have a penchant for being given overly dramatic lines, but I'm mainly going by his work on NBC's Homicide. and I have a sense that Bakula might be underrated and worthy of more than Quantum Leap or Star Trek: Enterprise.

Heather's review made me think of shows, writing, and cool. See, I think shows need a certain amount of cool, in the production, be it in characters, writing, and staging, as it gives shows a certain degree of freshness. There's nothing sadder than a show trying to be cool. Two and a Half Men being a textbook case. Charlie Sheen's Charlie Harper is a cookie cut-out cliché, which is fine for a audience with a mean age of 13. In contrast, Barney on How I Met Your Mother plays off a cool with better writing and better acting, but Charlie Sheen is no NPH. While I like 30 Rock, I think the cast tends to triumph over material that often tries too hard to be cool and/or clever, but isn't—or at least falls short of that goal.

Heather seems to find solace and comfort in the quotidian and understated tine of the show::
"But the utter lack of hipness of 'Men of a Certain Age,' the total lack of concern for what's deemed cool and what isn't, the complete disregard for matching the breakneck pace, the action, the swooning romances, the spitty outbursts, the shiny thrills of other TV shows, is exactly what makes this drama so lovable. Where other dramas would pack in more zaniness and intrigue in every available second of airtime, 'Men of a Certain Age' rolls out the familiar, the ordinary, and locates poetic folds and sweet pockets of emotion there..."
I would argue that this seems like creating a false dichotomy...equating cool and hipness with over-the-top production and performances—what I would deem as Hollywood slick {see:: Gray's Anatomy}. If the writing and performances are as mundane as this is leading one to believe, I'm not even sure this "lovable" drama stands a chance.


Seeing this preview clip, the premise of the aging uncooly doesn't mean a show is uncool. Ask Rusty Venture. Although, if the dialogue is indeed more like that of post-menopausal women, well, that's the target market and that ain't cool.

I think the challenge of TV and film writing today is writing to what I see is two schools of thought:: {a} mass-audience stuff that gives the audience exactly what they want and {b} more niche audience stuff that pushes the boundaries, but not too much, and has an air of cool. So, Mad Men's cool is the product of a tension with a glorious and sumptuous rendering of 1960s America with its ugliness that's identifiable, but that we're "over", at least in its overt manifestations. We get immersed in that world that fascinates us. Arguably, good reality television does the same. Some shows are faux cool like Dexter and Weeds, as they try to juxtapose the everyday with the criminal, but, in my opinion, the execution is OK at best. It's as if the juxtaposition trope drives the entire premise and appeal. I think these shows give their audiences a formula that tries not to look like a formula. The Office-NBC juxtaposes the everyday and the extremely quirky, which works best when it's not trying too hard—one of the tenets of cool.

I think genuine cool is something that resonates with audiences and it's more than a look and feel, which aren't unimportant, but more importantly represent an attitude and a cultural relevance. Marketing departments try to manufacture cool, which makes the field more of an art than a science, but cool is a fleeting thing. 

I'm rereading this and can't help but think that I'm being just as reductionist as Heather. I might be reifying cool as a saviour of modern entertainment, but, I do believe that cool matters. I don't think just anyone can produce, write, or direct cool. I look back on my screenplay work and I think I strive for cool, but only execute it in isolated bits and pieces. I feel it requires a certain cultural awareness and deep historical knowledge of things that are cool {things, symbols, ideas, memes, etc.} to draw from, but also an attitude that has both a confidence and restraint—along with telling a good fucking story.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Havrilesky review of 'Men of a Certain Age' causes musings on the concept of what is cool. @Prof_K