Alchemists of Sound

This documentary on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is the best hour of Internet I’ve consumed in ages.  It is absolutely wonderful.

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Should Be More Famous, Volume 2: Kevin Eldon

If Steve Buscemi can’t be corralled into doing a Don Knotts biopic, we do have a backup.

Continuing my whenever-I-feel-moved-by-YouTubing-ly series featuring performers I love that I want you to love, too, I offer Kevin Eldon.

Last time, I talked about Dylan Moran, and like Dylan, Kevin is a stand-up comic and Britcom actor with a difference…and a tendency to pop up in Simon Pegg projects. Unlike Dylan, he’s freaking insane. I mean, maybe he’s not insane. Maybe he’s one of the most brilliant conceptual surrealist comedians of his generation. It’s hard to know. He also does voices, plays guitar, and is clearly going to hell.

It was actually in Dylan Moran’s show “Black Books” that I first became acquainted with Mr. Eldon, in a series-stealing performance as The Cleaner…

Dirty.”

In the DVD commentary, which I have had on while I did light housework and don’t you judge me, I remember Bill Bailey saying something to the effect of “Here’s Kevin Eldon playing…Kevin Eldon” to laughter and noises of assent.

OK, this isn’t really a Kevin Eldon clip. It’s actually from Bill Bailey’s show “Part Troll,” but I think Kevin really sells the bit. I’ll get to a Bill Bailey post one of these days.

The sci-fi-themed Britcom “Hyperdrive,” starring Simon Pegg’s bestie Nick Frost, didn’t always work for me. It was like “Galaxy Quest.” Shoulda loved it, but by Grabthar’s Hammer…meh. Maybe it’s just me. But Kevin Eldon’s probable sociopath Lt. York was reason enough to smile and nod through the rest of the show, in much the way I’ll still endure the datedness of TOS Treks for Nimoy’s scenes. At least until William Shatner starts explaining what a kiss is.

My favorite York line is “We don’t have long to kill it before it dies.” I like to find opportunities to use this in my personal life. Here’s an unrelated clip that begins with Nick Frost’s Commander Henderson convinced Lt. York is a saboteur on their ship.

If you liked “Galaxy Quest” or “Red Dwarf,” you might want to check out the whole “Hyperdrive” series on Netflix.

Now to the ensemble sketch show “Big Train,” featuring Simon Pegg, Catherine Tate, and other people I’ll probably be moved to blog about in the fullness of time. If you haven’t seen it, they did fairly bizarre, but brilliant sketches like this one, in which Kevin IS Chairman Mao IS Bryan Ferry in Roxy Music playing “Virginia Plain.” Like SNL, a lot of the sketches were clearly born out of in-joke gestalting, and this sketch is a good example, but unlike SNL, the sketches are not unnaturally prolonged. I also really like this song, so that helps.

I haven’t even begun to mine his  2011 one man show “Kevin Eldon is Titting About” or his appearances on most of the other successful Britcoms of the last 20 years that didn’t star and concern the elderly. The interwebs also tell me that he’ll have his very own show on BBC2 in 2013, “It’s Kevin.” So there you have it. Should Be More Famous, volume 2: Kevin Eldon. I’ll close with a clip of one of his most famous characters, the pretentious poet Paul Hamilton. It’s probably fitting for him to have the last word.

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Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay is one of those artists who seems to have experimented with almost every medium out there. In the 1980’s he was pioneering the use of the turntable as an experimental musical instrument by playing intentionally scratched or skipping records on multiple turntables simultaneously. He has performed with some of the giants of avant garde music such as John Zorn and the Kronos Quartet.

He is also a sculptor and installation artist who works with found materials that always involve the idea of sound.

Tape Fall- reel to reel recorder, ladder, magnetic tape, 1989

Moebius Loop- cassette tapes, zip ties, 1994

 

Virtuoso- altered accordion, 2000

He is a collage artist who uses album covers as his medium.

And most recently, he is a video artist who obsessively cuts and splices together scenes from existing films of similar everyday actions such as telephone conversations or people checking the time on a clock or a watch.

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Craig Stecyk: The Inventor of Skateboarding as an Artform Rather Than a Fad

What I have always loved about skateboarding is the individual expression involved in the sport… Whereas other sports involve statistics and records based on a set of strict guidelines, skateboarding literally makes up the rules as it goes… In other words, there are no rules… and that is what is so beautiful about the sport. I tend to think that it is more art than it is sport…

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Damned Tornadoes Interfereing with My Art

All I wanted to do today was to go to Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas and install about 700 arrows in the ceiling of a hallway there for an exhibition at the school called “Temporary Occupants”. My piece is called “Inhale-Exhale” and it involves the arrows interacting with the intake and output air vents in the ceiling of the hallway…

But just like every other time it seems like I have to install or transport artwork, mother nature just HAS to show me who’s boss… Fifteen tornadoes were spotted in the DFW area this afternoon, many just miles from my location, and so two hours of my precious install-time were spent sitting in the basement awaiting the impending doom…

And if that image is not enough, here is a video from the same storm of some semi-trailers being tossed about like balloons… And THAT is the tornado that was still headed toward Mesquite, exactly where I was installing artwork.

Amazingly, we dodged that bullet and my truck survived without even a hail dent. I was finally allowed to continue my installation and I was finished by around 9:00 tonight. So at least mother nature was simply a road-block and not a wrecking ball for my artwork…In retrospect, the mechanics of fluid motion that are at play in a storm are exactly the things I am interested in with the air currents in this piece on a much smaller scale. Coincidence? I think not… 😉 Here are some images I got of the finished work tonight.

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012 detail image

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012- detail image

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Nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn anyway.

I think I’ll round off the evening with one of my all time favorite music videos by a band called Wolf Parade… The song is titled “I’ll Believe in Anything”. The line from that song, “nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn anyway”, is one of the most humbling, but also one of the most freeing lines from recent rock music…

You see, when people know you, they have expectations based on what you’ve done before… But when they don’t know you, then you have nothing to lose and you are free to try anything and everything… I just wish that more established artists could realize this and get over their own success…

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Kony Kids, Mike Daisey, And The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Chic Kony Youth infographical photoshop by Edward Stafford with all due apologies to Sonic Youth and Raymond Pettibon.

Every now and then, I just have to sort of turn off the Internets and remind myself that there is a world around me that I am not powerless against and where my actions do make a difference.  Usually these actions involve making sure my son doesn’t break a limb or paint the floor silver.  This past week, it’s meant dropping out to finish some gratifying crafty projects and spending time with people who have become very dear to me.  I enjoy dropping out and venturing into the real world.  I used to think it was so much worse than the virtual world that springs into existence when I hit the Safari or Firefox icons.  But lately, that virtual world has become the bigger drag.

In the last week, a confluence of media clusterfuckery wafted across the binary landscape like that scary fucking dust storm that swept across Australia.  Or was it Arizona?  First, there was the Kony 2012 bear trap that Paul documented here.  I can’t add anything useful that hasn’t already been screamed across the Tweetisphere or Facebookistan.  Between everyone trying to tell me what I should think– or worse yet, how I should feel about it– I have to admit that I really just don’t fucking care.

There’s a term for this — Compassion Fatigue.  There is just so much of a shit one person can give.  Yes, what Joseph Kony is responsible for is reprehensible.  Yes, something should be done about it.  And yes, it’s a good thing that people are being made aware of it.  But I honestly believe that Invisible Children made things worse.  It’s the same problem that arose over the weekend with this douche nozzle:

Mike Daisey: pathological liar dirtbag infographical photoblop by Edward Stafford with apologies to all the 13-year-old girls who don't really work at Foxconn

I’m a big fan of This American Life.  I love Ira Glass and have a deep appreciation for the magic he and the crew bring to the radio box every week.  So I was stunned to hear this weekend’s show, “Retraction,” which is basically an hour long apology and serious look at how one of their most popular shows, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” was mostly a fabrication.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s basically an hour-long exposé of the shitty working conditions at Foxconn, the Chinese superfactory where many computer companies, including Apple, have their ideas turned into reality.  As you might imagine, the shitty conditions at the Chinese superfactory are pretty fucking shitty.  Like, way worse than working at Wal Mart or Starbucks.  This particular episode of This American Life was based on Mike Daisey’s one-man play, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which was supposed to be based on his reporting done in China while he posed as a fatcat businessman, which I imagine he pulls off convincingly.  The problem is, well, he just made a bunch of shit up.

Which is fine.  I’m a big fan of making shit up.  But I don’t try to pass it off as the truth.  There needs to be a disclaimer, like when you go to the movies and it says something like “this film is based on actual events.”  You know it’s been cooked a bit for dramatic effect and it’s okay because the filmmakers gave you a knowing wink.  I understand that maybe Daisey thought that because it was This American Life, he could get away with not telling the whole truth and call it creative license and claim the high ground because he brought these deplorable conditions to the attention of millions of people.

Which brings us back to the Kony Kids and what they have in common with fellow numbskull, Mike Daisey.  There’s a danger in playing this game where you insert yourself into the story.  When it’s your story, you embellish, embroider, and embiggen.  It’s hardwired into our DNA.  When the story is about something particularly heinous, like Joseph Kony or the terrible conditions at Foxconn, isn’t it enough that the story is terrible?  Why the need to make it more terrible through exaggeration, misstatement of fact, or not being upfront with your reasons for bringing the story to light?  It’s pretty obvious that the purveyors of both of these stories are attention whores and it’s maddening that the media doesn’t call them out on it.

But the worst thing is that, just like that other famous attention whore, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, these guys ultimately do more harm than good and end up as dinner for the wolf.  Wolf Blitzer.  The important stories they try to bring to light become secondary to the rise and fall of the hero.  Daisey and the Kony Kids  become the story, the media looks at their belly buttons and wonders how the fuck they got duped, and everyone forgets about Foxconn and Kony because it was all just made up, right?

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