Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Truth or Fail:: Internet Vigilanteism

Two recent social media episodes erupted in users taking to their keyboards to mete out some justice or lash out at perceived wrongs. Last week's Vancouver Canucks riot prompted a social media backlash, with users posting photos, vidcaps, and videos of those caught in flagrante delicto. Although, according to CBC, some fingers were pointed at the innocent, allegedly as a result of setups and 'Shopped images. While this is nothing new, there is concern that the use of social media to target those subject to moral or other outrage is getting out of hand and needs to be addressed. 

So, is social media now the release valve for outrage or a possible flashpoint for lawless activity? The use of the Internet as an {albeit imperfect} surveillance tool double underscores how there is no privacy in the era of social media. There are at least two problem issues with mob surveillance when people are seeking justice::
  1. Mistaken identity
  2. Vigilanteism
I think the issue with both is how far do people take it. Calling someone a douche and contacting law enforcement with misinformation is where the vast majority of online vigilanteism is going to lie. The real issue is where are the boundaries and how are they to be determined. So, on the other end of the spectrum is an Internet lynch mob seeking brutal street justice or disinformation being spread about someone who is innocent with a call to action, but what about all the grey area in-between where most behaviour is going to be?

I think in the US and Canada it would be very difficult to craft good policy that would balance free speech and vigilanteism in this era of social media. While it might seem like a good idea to prosecute those overstepping their bounds in the public shaming of alleged rioters or those spreading disinformation, what should the yardstick be in terms of true individual or societal harm?

Two Tribes
This week, Roger Ebert flippantly tweeted what I feel was an unfortunate response to the early reports of the death of Ryan Dunn::
"Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive"
I say unfortunate, as I don't see a big anti-drunk driving payoff offsetting the haterade he unleashed. While some may think less of Ebert, I doubt if it will have any lingering impact on his brand, limiting his personal #fail. Nevertheless, his wag of the finger take on Dunn's death elicited the ire of Jackass fans, as well as Dunn's friend and fellow Jackass cast member, Bam Margera::
"I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and piece of shit roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents"
"About a jackass drunk driving and his is one, fuck you! Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat fucking mouth!"
What was curious was how people on social media took sides hurling insults at one another. The pro-Ebert crowd supporting the film critic for keeping it real, dawg and telling the "truth". Jackass fans embraced the call of the vigilante for their fallen hero and called a red card on Ebert for his insensitive remark, often in a {mean} spirited manner evocative of Anonymous on 4chan's /b/. I'm sure it shocked the sensibilities of many who aren't accustomed to such bald wishes of ill-will and illness {cancer}, as well as vague threats. Earlier today, on Ebert's Facebook wall, Jackass fans and Ebert fans were going back and forth and at one point Ebert fans were finding their personal information being posted online as retaliation to tangling with a particular Jackass fan, claiming to work for an Internet security firm and had the results to back it up. I question the logic of arguing with a Jackass fan over Ryan Dunn's death on several levels, but it highlights even more how privacy is nonexistent. More interesting is how social interactions between the two factions easily degenerates into an all-out battle for winning.

I'm not in Ebert's head, but he clearly feels strongly about alcohol use and abuse and during the maelstrom he cited his own struggles with his own alcoholism. Anecdotally, I've seen online that people in recovery can be extremely vocal about their judgments regarding substances and substance abuse. What I saw unfold with the Ryan Dunn tweet aftermath was Ebert setting up a dividing line along  defined by the immorality of drunk driving and setting the tone that Dunn's death should be marked by shame in the name of "truth", i.e., an opinion and/or agenda. It may be easy for many to see the "Jackass guy" as a reckless arrested adolescent putting the lives of himself and others at risk, which would explain why many, including Ebert, gave themselves an internal green light to say "I told you so" in the name of telling the "truth". This is speculation on my part, but I've also caught a whiff of cultural elitism with respect to Ebert's take on the Jackass neo-Vaudevillean antics, which would make it easy for him to target and marginalize Dunn in his own mind. Ebert has chosen not to review any of the Jackass movies, despite the fact that they say quite a bit about the current state of pop culture and film, and freely admitted to not getting the whole Jackass thing, in discussing "Reel Paradise" {2005}::
"If I had seen 'Jackass' in John Pierson's theater with those 300 uproariously happy kids, I might have liked it. I certainly would have understood it better."
When Ebert made his tweet, there was only speculation on Dunn being under the influence of alcohol. So, yesterday, Ebert made a non-apology apology::
"I don't know what happened in this case, and I was probably too quick to tweet. That was unseemly. I do know that nobody has any business driving on a public highway at 110 mph, as some estimated -- or fast enough, anyway, to leave a highway and fly through 40 yards of trees before crashing. That is especially true if the driver has had three shots and three beers. Two people were killed. What if the car had crashed into another car?"
and was a bit overzealous in justifying his actions in social media::
"Perez Hilton's readers agree with me and not with Perez about my tweet on Ryan Dunn. He drank, he drove, 2 people died."
Given today's police report of Dunn's BAL, I'd imagine Ebert feels even more vindicated for his original tweet.

I don't find the content of what Ebert said or the backlash to be particularly interesting. Clearly, Dunn's death touched a nerve and it's a thing for him. What is interesting is how the divisiveness channelled so much sentiment and emotion. While social media can of course foster dialogue, it can also fuel the instantaneous adoption of causes and/or the taking up of sides. I think this is an emerging part of everyday online social life and it's probably far too early to think of it as problematic, but rather where we are today with the current technology and social order.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Internet vigilanteism in social media: New part of everyday social life? #vancouverriots & Ebert v. Margera @Prof_K

Monday, June 20, 2011

Newmusicmonday #99:: Cloud Nothings

Band Cloud Nothings
Genre indie pop
Members Dylan Baldi, TJ Duke, Jayson Gerycz, Joe Boyer
Base Cleveland, OH
Label Carpark
Tour DatesN/A


If you need a review of the Cleveland band, look here. It's youthful low-fi indie pop ranging from the hyperkinetic "Understand at All" rife with catchy pop hooks to the more melancholy "Turning On" from last years EP compilation of the same name.

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday featuring Cloud Nothings. @Prof_K

You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby:: Canadian Foreign Affairs Under Harper

Stephen Harper makes an unsuccessful plea for Canada to be on the UN Security Council
Lysiane Gagnon had a piece in the Globe & Mail on Stephen Harper's lack of cosmopolitanism and how it affects Canada's foreign policy {h/t LinnyQat}. A big black eye was received last fall when Canada lost its bid to be on the UN Security Council to Germany and Portugal. Gagnon 
"Canada’s defeat was mostly due to the massive support of European countries and Latin America for Portugal, and to the Harper government’s enduring lack of sophistication in international affairs. 
If Mr. Harper had developed a wider network of allies abroad, and if he had encouraged Canadian diplomats to do so at their own level, perhaps Canada would have gained more votes at the UN. At least, it could have tried to turn the tide that favoured Portugal."
Gagnon brings up Harper's affinity for military deployments and questions them, but back in 2009, Nicholas Hirst has an interesting quote of Joe Clark's take on Harper in the foreign arena::
"The Harper government has increased military spending, but reduced spending on foreign affairs and aid. 'Why the double standard?' asked former Progressive Conservative prime minister Joe Clark. 'Why are we prepared to accept more of our share of the military burden than we are of the diplomatic and development burdens?'"
Save for Arctic sovereignty and Afghanistan, there is a perception that Canada has turned increasingly inwards and environmentalists are quick to point out the lack of leadership Canada has taken regarding Kyoto.

Why is this so? Politics. While it would be in Canada's best long-term interests to have more of a positive presence in world affairs and better ties with other nations, the political payoffs of better diplomacy are often unclear. In the logical calculus of elections in Canada, Harper knows he needs to speak to a specific 40-45% of the population that isn't necessarily going to see better diplomacy {versus military} as a win.

What's interesting is how the Republican hopefuls are moving away from military action, much to the ire of Senator John McCain, who is accusing them of isolationism. Again, I think this is more politics on the part of presidential candidates. They are differentiating themselves from Obama by ceding foreign policy to him. Currently, Barack is hard to undermine on the diplomacy, terrorism, or military fronts.

Without strong diplomatic relations {I think particularly with respect to BRIC}, Harper has few cards to play in the global arena, but probably more to the point is what does he really hope to accomplish, given the steep domestic challenges. Gagnon cites he's ill at ease playing the diplomacy game and I'm not sure Baird is up to the challenge as Minister of Foreign Affairs, given he has some growing up to do. I don't expect much movement towards diplomacy because of the political payoffs angle—even with respect to increased trade liberalization. An increasingly cosmopolitan Conservative Party would serve to undermine the NDP and appeal to the newly Conservative suburban ridings {districts} in the 905, but the thorny question and limiting factor is regional support for isolationism. In the would cosmopolitanism play in the West?

Twitterversion:: [blog] Will Stephen Harper & #CPC foreign policy embrace cosmopolitanism & more diplomacy over the military? #cdnpoli  @Prof_K

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Canadian Housing Bubble? Oh, That One...

Jim Flaherty-Canadian Finance Minister, MP Oshawa—Whitby
Last November, Jim Flaherty told the House of Commons there was no housing bubble, only to reverse himself this week by tabling a budget implementation bill::
"Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled a budget implementation bill Tuesday he says will formalize his powers to intervene in Canada's hot housing market to restrain borrowing."
It doesn't give me a great deal of confidence in Flaherty and the Conservative government's ability to manage the economy, given that the statistics have shown a very different story that's been emerging over time::

Household debt, including mortgages, are taking up an increasing percentage of Canadian GDP. Canadian debt as a percentage of disposable income is outstripping the US::

but the kicker is how housing prices have been increasing at a rate far greater than incomes::

These statistics are particularly telling, i.e., the housing price to median income ratio::

So, generally speaking, in Toronto with a median family income of $66,560 {2007}, the average {unadjusted for inflation} housing price was 5.7 times the median, i.e., $379K in 2007 and over $457K in 2011 {using 2008 incomes} [these numbers reinforce this analysis]. This forces homebuyers to commit more disposable income to housing and a rise in interest rates can be disastrous to  those with adjustable rates, if the historically rock bottom rates go up. Beware of those fibbing with the numbers by comparing percentage increases of the ratios. In Toronto, the ratio went from 5.7 to 6.7 for a seemingly modest 18% jump between 2007 and 2011.  The reality is an extra $78K+ pricetag that increases the amount being financed, the monthly mortgage cost, and the interest payments to Bay Street. Just looking at the Vancouver ratio of 11.2 makes my head hurt.

I don't know if Flaherty is a liar or not too bright, or a combination of both, but in light of these numbers and his previous statements, as I've said already, I don't have much confidence in his ability to manage the economy. Plus, this week he went to the US to admonish lawmakers to address the deficit, which in my opinion is more deficit feedback loop that's more politics than economics. 

I understand why Flaherty would try to downplay a housing bubble. Housing has been driving GDP, accounting for 20% of it and employment has been bolstered by consumption in construction. While Flaherty's bill seeks to give him authority to cool off the now-acknowledged bubble by tightening lending requirements, the government took an active hand is building this bubble by creating tax incentives and has a history of economic liberalizing and retreating when the "bad idea" handwriting is on the wall.

Analysts expect business investment to pick up and growth to follow, which the Conservatives are praying for. The problem as I see it is that the economic environment is too uncertain {the strong dollar is throwing a monkey wrench into exports} and I wouldn't bet on Canadian businesses expanding, particularly if the housing bubble starts to deflate causing ripples in the economy. I also think that the blind faith in deficit reduction in this era of ultra cheap capital and low interest rates is odd and makes little sense. The Conservatives appear to be cherrypicking their definition of small government, almost as if they're using the deficit to re-engineer government that cuts spending in some areas, while holding on to rather hungry sacred cows like defense spending.

Twitterversion:: [blog] "What Canadian Housing Bubble? Oh, That One..." Jim Flaherty's most recent flip-flop. #cdnpoli @Prof_K

Vancouver Canucks Riots:: Critical Mass & Social Contagion in "No-Fun City"

Vidcap of Saltspring Island teacher Kristi Kallip attempting to keep the crowds at bay,
sitting atop a police car being smashed while holding out peace signs.
I'm not sure why, but I just had a feeling the Canucks were going to lose Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. It may well be from my experience in the 2002 World Series when San Francisco went up 3-2, only to lose two straight and series. So, when I was flipping around in the wee hours of EDT to catch the score, the Canucks loss was overshadowed by the riots following the loss. The Province has an interesting article on how Vancouver hasn't progressed since 1994 [see 1994 footage of 40-50,000 rioters taking to the streets], when the Canucks experienced a heartbreaking game 7 Stanley Cup loss. A Vancouver constable summed things up::
“People complain that this is a ‘No Fun City,’” said Const. Colin Naismith, lifting up his riot-protection mask. “Well, they had their chance. This is what happens when you let the floodgates open.”  
Rioter wielding a hockey stick takes out some frustrations on a Bank of Montréal branch.
I think the Vancouver Police made the right call in how they handled things, given that there were estimates of 100,000 people watching the game on Georgia St. on bigscreens in downtown. The scale of people out on the streets was immense and giving the crowd a reason to escalate the violence would have been a bad move. Imagine the use of coralling with 100,000 people on the streets. In contrast, during last year's G20 protests in Toronto, there were only 10,000 protestors and allegedly a splinter group of 2,000 black bloc was responsible for damage caused through vandalism. While it may be disturbing to see vandalism and property damage, it's a delicate balance between ensuring public safety and not pouring gasoline on the fire, given the huge crowd, and ensuring civil liberties. Moreover, a heavy-handed approach, a characterization levied at the Toronto Police for their handling of G20, can result in a PR fail and a sense that free speech rights within the Canadian Charter of Freedoms are being undermined, in the name of public safety. The Vancouver riot had nothing to do with public safety, but with a brutish Hobbesean state fueled by social contagion—as rioters sense a lack of consequences for acting out given the sheer scale of the mob, it gave more people the courage to act out. The best thing for law enforcement to do would be to focus on stopping any assaults and getting out videocameras to add to the panopticon of visual surveillance in the city consisting of about 1,000 cameras. Let the rioting crowd simmer down and document the vandalism and sort it all out later—criminally and civilly. Imperfect? Sure. Some scofflaws might get away with their vandalism or worse, but as evident in this case of a Toronto officer accused of assaulting a bystander during G20, the panopticon can catch up with you long after the emotion of the moment and the criminal deeds were done.

Here's some video footage from The Province, showing vandals, along with some concerned citizens trying to stop the violence::

Well, it makes one wonder what would have happened if Canada lost the hockey gold last February in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver {although the crowds on the street were in the tens of thousands, not 100,000} and also what would happen if election results were big screen televised public spectacles with large gatherings.

Finally, all of this reminds me of Paul Thomas Anderson's video for Fiona Apple's cover of "Across the Universe", on the soundtrack for Pleasantville {1998}::

Twitterversion:: [blog] #Vancouver Riots-Critical Mass & Contagion:powder keg w/ safety, property, civ liberties, & exacerbation at stake @Prof_K

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Music & the Ad:: Heineken & The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

The above is a 60" spot for Heineken that uses "The Golden Age" by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, a Danish band that got their real start opening for Amy Winehouse. Here's a 90" version of "The Entrance" and a 3m5s music video version::

The song came out in 2009 and here's the original music video. The part with Mette Lindberg's head on a vinyl record made me think of Rob Wells {best known as Ricky, from the Trailer Park Boys} in Hobo with a Shotgun.

A little after "the Golden age" was released, the band's "Around the Bend" was used by Chiat Day in Apple's iPod Touch ad demoing its gaming capabilities that take advantage of the device's accelerometer::

Twitterversion:: [videos] #MusicAndTheAd Heineken & The Asteroids Galaxy Tour's "Golden Age" @Prof_K

Monday, June 13, 2011

newmusicmonday #98:: Mise en Scene

Band Mise en Scene
Genre indie pop
Members Stefanie Blondal Johnson - Writer, Vocals,Guitar
Jodi Dunlop - Drums
Kena Olson – Keyboard
Marco Fiore - Bass
Plus various guest musicians
Base Winnipeg/Gimli, MB
Label none
Tour DateNXNE, 15 June 2011 The Painted Lady, 9h


Part of a double shot of newmusicmonday {see #97-Careers in Science}, Mise en Scene serves up its brand of arty pop with folksy overtones. The band has a forthcoming show at NXNE this Wednesday and the band is known for its cinematic leanings with its use of projections during its sets. Their sound is evolving, going from a slower jazzy folk to a faster tempo pop/rock/folk. They recorded an EP, 'Late Night Triple Feature', and are recording a follow-up EP.

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday feat. folksy pop of #Winnipeg's Mise en Scene. 15Jun #NXNE show at The Painted Lady 9pm @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #97:: Careers in Science

Band Careers in Science
Genre post punk/new wave
Members Dave Proctor - SING-MAN
Callum McPhee - STRING-MAN
Jedi Eric - HIT-MAN            
Base Toronto
Label none; 'Whateverwolf' EP on Bandcamp
Tour Dates15 June 2011 NXNE-Rancho Relaxo, Toronto, ON
16 July 2011 The Atria Oshawa, ON
24 July 2011 Gus’ Pub Halifax, Nova Scotia


Call it nerdpunk, but Careers in Science fuses the geekiness of The Venture Brothers and old school punk & 80s new wave. They have an upcoming show at NXNE on late night Wednesday at Rancho Relaxo. Their lyrics are laden with satire, along with plenty of pop culture references of geekdom and suburban paranoia {e.g., "ROCKETS!"}.  Perhaps the "Careers in Science National Anthem" best sums up their Weltanschauung::

"we're not here to save rock and roll, we're here to save tokyo from the 70 foot monsters outside the show. we're not fighting for the common man, we're not a working man's band, we are a band of working men. we're not living on borrowed time, we're punching in 9 to 5, and I think we're doing fine. and if we lose tonight, we'll change sides... if our weapons don't work, we'll wear the monsters shirts. whatever happens, we're not free men."

Twitterversion::  #newmusicminday feat. old school punk of #Toronto based Careers in Science.  Upcoming #NXNE show 15Jun at Rancho Relaxo @Prof_K

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday Night Videos:: The Style Council & The Jam

This is rare footage I've seen around taken from a videotape from Dutch television. It was from early 1983, which is early days of The Style Council, fronted by Paul Weller ex of The Jam. The video is an odd performance of "Speak Like a Child" where the vocals were sung over a tape and Paul Weller's mother, Anne Weller, brings in a tray of tea in the middle. It features the early lineup of Paul and Mick Talbot, along with vocalist Tracie Young and then 17 year old Dutch bass player Claudia Konijin. A commenter on YouTube mentioned that Claudia was in a Dutch band, Dance Stance, originated from the town of Hoorn, 40 km north of Amsterdam.

Here's the video from a year before, the last few days of The Jam with "A Town Called Malice"::

Finally, here's Tony Wilson {yes, of Factory Records and The Haçienda fame} introducing The Jam doing "In the City" on So It Goes::

The last mid-sized {or larger} venue show I went to was a Paul Weller show way back in 2005. I recall the set had a very rock oriented sound, which was a pleasant surprise. At the time, I wanted to, but I never did wind up buying the album, 'As Is Now'. Here's a blurry photo below and another one on Tumblr.
Blurry photo from 17 September 2005 Paul Weller show at
The Warfield in San Francisco

Twitterversion:: [videos] Rare/odd video of early StyleCouncil fr DutchTV+ TheJam "Town Called Malice" & "In the City" #FridayNightVideos @Prof_K

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mapping 12 Minutes:: How Far Can You Go in Toronto?

WikiTORONTO tweeted the link to Mapnificent where you can generate maps like the above, not only for Toronto, but many other cities. You can also specify time {experimental} and whether of not you have a bike. I chose 12 minutes, as opposed to 15, in order to map several points together on one may without overlap. I'm not sure if the algorithm factors in wait time, but it looks like it's assuming minimal waits.

I wanted to test the hypothesis that being in the centre of the centre of the universe {after all, the riding here is Toronto Centre} yields greater proximity to amenities and things to do. It feels like a lot is within walking or walking+TTC distance. I used the map mashup to compare Yonge/Bloor, the Beach, and Queen West. It looks like being in close proximity to both the Yonge and Bloor subway lines increases reach in two dimensions, while in Queen West and the Beach, the Queen car is the main determining factor of how far you can get in 12 minutes. LinnyQat once showed me how to catch the bus to the Main St. TTC station, which pushes the coverage radius north on the map. I found it interesting that from fairly close proximity to Yonge/Bloor, 12 minutes includes Union Station, Davisville station, the stations in Greektown, Cabbagetown, and Christie Pitts Park.

Twitterversion:: [blog+link] via @WikiTORONTO, how far can you go in 12 minutes in #Toronto? @Prof_K

Monday, June 06, 2011

You WILL Worry About the Deficit:: The Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop

US Unemployment & Interest Rates
Originally blogged on ThickCulture, 6 June 2011, 7:39PM EDT

Today, the Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled a budget with plenty of emphasis on reducing the deficit, much like what's going on in the US. This, despite the fact that the interest rates are telling a story where financial markets are not that concerned about the deficit. This pattern is evident in both Canada and the US. Interest rates are showing there's no crowding out—government spending taking up capital and resources that businesses can use. The reality of the situation is uncertainty and a dearth of good prospects is causing the business community to sit on huge stocks of capital.

Nevertheless, for various political reasons the deficit is touted as a menace that must be dealt with, not just in North America, but globally. The media is contributing to the Jedi mind trickery, dubbed the "Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop". The WaPo blog by Greg Sargent states::

"The relentless bipartisan focus on the deficit convinces voters to be worried about it, which in turn leads lawmakers to spend still more time talking about it and less time talking about the economy,"

while linking to a National Journal study examining the gap between mentions of "unemployment" versus "deficit"::

"the broadening gap demonstrates just how effective conservatives have been at changing the narrative of economic policy from one dominated by talk of fiscal stimulus to one now in lockstep with notions of fiscal austerity."

In Canada, the opposition parties aren't on the same page with the Finance Minister and the Conservative Party, but don't have the votes to stop the budget. While ink is being spilled about how fast the deficit will be reduced in Canada and whether of not the Conservative projections are wide of the mark and overly rosy, the elephant in the living room is the lingering high unemployment rate::

Canadian unemployment rate, 2008-11

The problem with the deficit discourse is it fails to address the issue of unemployment and real economic problems, with the only way the issue goes away is if the economy grows. In fact, I feel being a deficit hawk in this economic climate is playing with political dynamite. The economic indicators do not support deficit reduction, given that the business community is loathe to expand. So, if the deficit hawks are wrong and unemployment and economic stagnation persists, they are opening themselves up to criticism. I think the hope is that a business cycle upswing will render the deficit issue moot, so the perception is that it's "riskless" to jump on the deficit reduction bandwagon.

In the US, both Democrats and Republicans are viewing the deficit as the evil menace that must be thwarted at all costs with ample help of the media. While a Republican presidential candidate would differentiate themselves by embracing a populist and expansionary economic approach, it would be political suicide. Any politician advocating increases in government spending would face an uphill battle and be forced to educate the public on matters many don't have the time and the patience for.

The jury is still out on how the New Democrats and Liberals play the deficit card in Canada in the future, but it may be an easy one to play if unemployment remains relatively high, businesses remain tentative, and the economy continues to stagnate.

Twitterversion:: [blog] #ThickCulture post:: "You WILL Worry About the Deficit:: The Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop" @Prof_K

newmusicmonday #96:: Beekeepers Society

image:: Facebook

Genreindie pop
MembersDarcy McMann vocals, train whistle
Fred Yurichuk bass, guitar, keys
Sean Krause   keyboards, guitar
Jessica Fisher vocals, glockenspiel, recorder
Brendan Black guitar, bass, mandolin
Sarah Burton vocals, keys, guitar
Danah McCollum vocals and rain stick 
David Mueses M.I.A
Base & upcoming showToronto, ON, Canada 
NXNE C'est What Friday, June 17 @ 9PM 

NXNE is coming up and I'll be featuring a few of the bands playing. I do have a soft spot for indie pop in the vein of Beekeeper Society. They've gotten a rap for dreary melancholy pop, evident in songs like "Family Ties"::

I'm also a fan of low-fi girl-meets-alien videos that evoke Ed Wood. "House of Frost" isn't so dour and has a campy video echoing the same::

The song "Douglas Coupland" {streamed on CBCr3 and MySp} is definitely worth a listen. It took me a second listen to piece together that this unlisted video was a live version of the song from last fall, recorded in Toronto at El Mocambo::

Twitterversion:: [blog+videos] #newmusicmonday featuring Beekeepers Society fr. #Toronto. Upcoming NXNE show on 17 Jun. @Prof_K

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Tony Wilson, 24 Hour Party People

Tonight, TVO was airing 24 Hour Party People {2002}, a fictionalized comedic biopic of socialist impresario and diehard Mancunian Tony Wilsonand the rise and fall of Factory Records. I remember the film airing in Toronto almost 4 years ago, the night Tony Wilson's death was reported.  I've always been a fan of Peter Saville, the Factory designer, who designed Tony Wilson's headstone {above} with Ben Kelly.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Tony Wilson, 24 Hour Party People @Prof_K

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday Night Videos:: Five from Lloyd Cole

The above video is of a track from Lloyd's latest, 'Broken Record'.

It took me a while to warm up to this track, from the last Lloyd Cole & the Commotions album, 'Mainstream' {1987}::

Here's the video that got me interested in Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, way back around this time of year in 1985::

Here's a great live version of "A Long Way Down" with orchestra accompaniment from 'An Eye on Music' {1991}::

Here's a 1985 "live version of "Perfect Blue" from 'Whistle Test' & here's a link to the interview::

Finally, a bit of a bonus. Here's Jools Holland as host of "Juke Box Jury" in 1989, which featured Lloyd as a guest::

Twitterversion:: [videos] Five #FridayNightVideos from Lloyd Cole + 1989 appearance on Jools Holland's 'Juke Box Jury' @Prof_K

The Non-Story of the Might Be Social Media Fail:: Rep. Anthony Weiner

The fingerwaggers and failhounds are out in force ready to pounce on Congressman Anthony Weiner's social media debacle, be it a hacking or an intentional wooing gone awry. It's one thing to be the butt of the joke, but the fact that this is a news story is perplexing. Even if it's true, so what. It's between him and his wife—and not something that should force a resignation or an investigating of {a} whether he sent it or {b} lied about not sending it. End of story. Call me overly modern, but this and the Chris Lee incident seem to stretch the idea that a politician's "morals" reflect her/his ability to do their job. After all, how many people would be out of a job if browser caches on home and work computers could be used in personnel reviews.

I think it may take some time, but how the Internet serves as a nice warm medium for oversharing and instant transmission of content will eventually cause people to get over such scandals. I'm hoping this whole non-story gets put to bed. Now, a better story would be how Weiner's second grade bully, Brooklyn lawyer and churlish assclown, Alex Grossman {plenty of joke fodder there} becomes targeted himself after coming out of the woodwork to rehash his glory days of douchery::
"As the representative’s most vocal heckler, Mr. Grossman has reappeared periodically throughout Mr. Weiner’s life in order to make fun of his name. When Mr. Weiner dirtied his baseball uniform at Brooklyn Technical High School, Grossman yelled, 'That’s one filthy Weiner.' When Mr. Weiner gained 20 pounds at State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Grossman bellowed, 'That’s one big Weiner.' When Mr. Weiner became the youngest person to serve on the New York City Council, Mr. Grossman was there to holler, 'Now, that’s one serious Weiner.'”
I think Alex needs a drubbing of his own. Take it away /b/...or any of the dark forces of the Internet out there.

Twitterversion:: [blog] The non-story of Weiner's wiener. How long will it take us to turn the corner on fingerpointing moralizing? @Prof_K

Music & the Ad:: Nestea & Cass Elliot

A version of this ad has been getting airplay diring the French Open coverage, featuring Cass Elliot's sunshine pop song, "It's Getting Better." It got me thinking that some indie pop band must have covered this bit of summery treacle. A bit of research showed that the Popinjays did just that in the early 90s {1992}::

I think I have "Vote Elvis" {1990} somewhere in a storage box in California, but I never kept track of the band::

Twitterversion:: [video+blog] #MusicAndTheAd Nestea commercial & the sunshine pop of Cass Elliot's "It's Getting Better" @Prof_K

Unrestricted Trailer for "Bad Teacher"

I have to admit that on paper, this film looked as interesting as an updated version of Summer School {1987}. The above trailer is also on the film's website, which loses a bit in the all-ages translation::

While this might not be a "mark the calendars" type of film {seriously, what is these days}, Jake Kasdan may have a sleeper comedy on his hands. While there's virtually no plot, solid performances from Diaz, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, Phyllis {Smith, from NBC's The Office}, and Lucy Punch {of Hot Fuzz fame} may build enough buzz to get people into the theatre and, ideally, realize that by comparison The Hangover II really sucked. 

Twitterversion:: [blog+video] Restricted trailer for Sony's "Bad Teacher" feat Diaz & Timberlake. Makings of a possible sleeper raunch comedy hit. @Prof_K

New "Blacktag" Twitter Meme:: #ghettospellingbee

On Wednesday, I tweeted about a Pew Internet report on the US demographics of Twitter users. Just now {h/t:: LinnyQat}, I was informed of a new trending topic meme, #ghettospellingbee. There's plenty of funny to be had, but the interesting thing I've noticed over the years is how memes cross cultural boundaries. First off, there's a school of thought explained in this Slate article that says that blacks use Twitter differently::
"Black people—specifically, young black people—do seem to use Twitter differently from everyone else on the service. They form tighter clusters on the network—they follow one another more readily, they retweet each other more often, and more of their posts are @-replies—posts directed at other users. It's this behavior, intentional or not, that gives black people—and in particular, black teenagers—the means to dominate the conversation on Twitter."
So, these "blacktags" {perhaps made famous by #ifsantawasblack}  are more prone to go viral. According to Baratunde Thurston, the Web editor of the Onion::
"Twitter works very naturally with that call-and-response tradition—it's so short, so economical, and you get an instant signal validating the quality of your contribution. (If people like what you say, they retweet it.)"

Where things get fuzzy is who can participate in the joke. I think things are more nuanced than being in stark terms of participants being "in-group" {black} versus "out-group" {non-black}, but more in terms of an ironic post-racial poking fun of cultural usage of language versus a poking fun of others for being out of the norms.

A few years back on NBC's "The Office" {'Diversity Day's01e02}, Michael Scott {Steve Carell} did a Chris Rock impression about blacks being racist against other blacks. This impression caused complaints, necessitating the staff to engage in diversity training under orders from corporate::

Mainstream culture is still figuring out where the lines are with respect to being racist, since one person's context isn't the same as another's. This fuzzy area makes it easy for people to get slammed for what they don't see as being as offensive—a more nuanced version of the "who can say the N-word" debate.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Explanation of how blacktags like #ghettospellingbee go viral. Demographics? Likely cause: usage & follow patterns. @Prof_K

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Retro Advertising:: Vintage Banquet Frozen Meals

I was doing a search for vintage frozen retail cases and stumbled on this from a post. The camp factor's on overload in the 60sec spot, in an era before trademark infringement became its own industry. Note the use of the Oscar statue and part of the 20th. Century Fox logo.

Twitterversion:: [video] #RetroAdvertising feat. 60sec spot for Banquet's frozen meals. Camp factor = 11. @Prof_K