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Marvin Gaye sings the Star Spangled Banner

I’ve tried to post this somewhere every year around this time. Imagine my apprehension this year when I couldn’t find it on YouTube?! (There’s a version of Marvin Gaye doing the Star Spangled Banner on there, but it’s a completely straight version, sans mirrorshades. Whatev.) Anyway! DailyMotion to the rescue or whatever. I’ll be downloading this one so I don’t have any trouble when it gets pulled off the internet for good by mouth-breathing kunckle draggers.

 

Let's make a social network

Awhile ago I was shooting the breeze with John and Liz and I asked them for ideas for making a social network. I’d been messing around with web programming and I wanted a project. I don’t really remember what they said, but it was a lot of thoughtful constructive ways that Facebook could be improved (these conversations of course are all happening on Facebook at the time, not like now when we have our custom Sharepoint implementation up and running) and whatnot.

Now you’re thinking, but wait: improving and adding features is not how social networks get built these days! All the social networks created since FB are different because of the features they lose, right? Twitter is messaging, but only up to 140 characters. Snapchat only does one thing (I’m not sure what that one thing is, and I guess also now it’s a news portal, so maybe forget about that one as an example). Instagram is basically like Facebook, but it removes everything but photos. The most recent and extreme examples are Yo, which removed everything but one predefined message you could send. Then there’s Secret and Yik Yak, which are like Twitter but without the user accounts. I’ve heard that there’s an Instagram-like photo sharing tool for doctors to share photos of their patient’s weird medical things? Each of these things is great in its own way, and impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t used it.

So that’s my question: what’s your idea for a simple social network that might or might not be interesting? I’m not a savage, so I’m not going to tell you to leave a comment. Post it to Facebook, of course.

 

Václav Havel: a casual rememberence

vaclav havel “Tidy yourself up! We might be Czechs, but we don’t have to let the rest of the world know.” This is apparently one of the lingeringly popular jokes from The Good Soldier Švejk, one of the resounding classics of Czech literature. The fact that I don’t find it any funnier than you will tell you what you need to know about my embarrassingly sparse connection to Czech literature (if the fact that I had to Google it didn’t tip you off). With that serving as a pre-emptive appology, let me tell you as best as I can why Václav Havel was important (without any more Googling, I promise).

At the end of World War II, Roosevelt and Churchill sold my people out to Stalin at Yalta, and the big ‘ol Iron Curtain fell on us. And while it was a light-sneeze version of the Stalinist/Totalitarian sort of thing that they’re, for example, still living up in North Korea to this day, it was still a very different lifestyle from ordinary poverty. There’s an extremely real paranoia that exists, because even if you’ve never gone before the officials on charges that were made against you buy anonymous spies, you know that it happens all the time. Also, this: you can join “The Communist Party” or not. YOUR CHOICE. If you don’t join, the government and others in positions of power won’t trust you. You’ll be denied perks, career advancement, and safety. If you do join, you’ll loose the respect and trust of all your friends. Unless they’re all Party members too. But those are the people with sticks up their ass, right? You either sacrifice your integrity or you sacrifice your prosperity and comfort.

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On The Fence Podcast with Alesh, Steve, and Misael

On The Fence episode 2

Hey everybody! Long time no see. I wanted to let you know about On The Fence, a podcast I’ve been doing for the past few weeks with Steve. Basically, we shoot the breeze about whatever’s going on in the world. Posted on Friday was yet another episode about the #Occupy movement, with Misael Soto on board for a first-person perspective. And there’s a new episode coming soon. As in tomorrow. Subscribe it in your iTunes, add it to your Google-plus-one, like it on Facebook, and retweet it to your followage.

 

Dirty Boy! John Waters' mustache

john waters thl

I’m not a particularly huge fan of Waters’ movies, but like so many directors, he’s fascinating to listen to in interviews. On the occasion of the publication of his book Role Models (same reason he’s coming to the book fair), Terry Gross interviewed him on Fresh Air, and the conversation is predictably fun and “outré” or whatever.

They talk about death and psychoanalysis and role models, but my favorite bit was when Terry starts asking him about his mustache:

GROSS: Since you write about your mustache in the book, I feel like I should ask you about it. You know, we’ve talked many times over the years but I don’t think we’ve really talked about your mustache technique.

Mr. WATERS: Well, I reveal every possible moment of my mustache life in this book, even panic when I don’t have it on right. But it’s very simple. It’s just, it’s there. It’s there for real. I shave it with a Bic razor or whatever kind of razor from the top every day. Use cuticle, nail cuticles to cut it on the bottom. And then if it’s a little gray or you miss a place you just sketch it in with Maybelline Velvet Black, which is my favorite. And I tried the expensive kind, the smear-proof kind, the waterproof kind, but they just don’t do it like Maybelline. And it has to be sharpened every time. And those little sharpeners break all the time, but I keep buying them and I have them in every place I live, in my car. […] This is spinach for Popeye. It gives me power to have my mustache on right and I’m clicked in mentally.

It’s the same thing as the security blanket for a child, or a dirty plaid shirt for a 90s alt rocker. I read something where Madeleine Albright was saying the same thing about lipstick. Of course this was in the 90s, and the internet doesn’t know anything about what was said or happened back then. But it was to the effect of “you can feel like complete crap, and you put on fresh lipstick and you’re ready to face the world.” SOMEthing like that. It’s like we have a vulnerable mode, and putting on that mask, even if it’s just with a makeup pencil, is like putting on warpaint.

 

Clickable

Hey everybody, YOU can be in a Rachel Goodrich video. The shoot is this Sunday from noon to 6, and the info is on the social network. If you know how to juggle or anything I think they want to hear from you, and you might be featured?

by , posted 2472 days ago

News flash: old white guys putting out records

robert plant There’s no shame in being an old white guy who used to be a big-time rock singer. There’s not even any shame in releasing albums of oldie covers when cultural relevance is decades behind you. So what is shameful? That would be when major national “news and information” outlets spend their limited cultural coverage on this has-been claptrap.

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Other quasi-ironic deaths I would *not* like to see

seyway Significantly less funny then Atkins possibly dying because of congestive heart failure, but not without a double-scoop of irony: Segway company owner dies in apparent Segway accident. You can play this game all day. Here are the ways that some of our temporary heroes most certainly will not die:

  • Tony Hayward, in yet another explosion while touring a BP oil rig
  • Al Gore, crushed beneath a collapsing glacier
  • Pastor Terry Jones, tragic cross-burning accident
  • John McCain, shot accidentally by one of the Minutemen
  • The guy from Man vs. Food, in any of a hundred different appropriate ways
  • Any cast member or Jersey Shore, alcohol poisoning/drunk driving accident/in a brawl/skin cancer (the first two would also work for Lindsay Lohan)

Anyone else have any suggestions? General Stanley McChrystal? Stephen Colbert? Ann Coulter?

 

A drastic change that could make elections much more fair

election map

As midterm election primary elections roll on in, one thing is becoming clear: this is the year of the Tea Party. Or, not really, right? Tea party candidates who win primaries against moderate Republicans are less likely to win in their general elections against a Democrat then that moderate Republican might have been, so the whole thing might be a Pyrrhic victory. If I were speaking to a group of Tea Party idiots, this would be a pretty fantastic opportunity for me to talk about my favorite possible election reform. Since our readers are much too smart to be involved with these dunces, all I can do is ask you to imagine “if the tables were reversed,” only the candidates involved were all a lot smarter and on your side.

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September artwalk

How about this: Like a phoenix rising from the heat of August, in September the Miami artwalk reinvents itself, and learns to fly anew. Ok, really the season more officially starts in October, and I got out of the house late and missed all the galleries around Snitzer, but all evidence indicated that Miami’s art scene really is becoming something. Here’s a spraycan-lid barfing skull by graffiti crew TYPOE at Spinello. Can you smell it? Stinks like Basel, baby. Basel.

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Concert review: Crystal Castles at Grand Central

crystal castles at grand central

Crystal Castles are a hot item, with a reputation about a wild stage show that precedes them, so their show in Miami this weekend at was widely anticipated. And so yes, CC brought it. Their music is equal parts dancy and abrasive, and Alice Glass has the sort of vocal intensity and manic stage presence that seems superhuman, in light of the fact that she’s been repeating it night after night, more or less nonstop for the last three years. In the end, though, their show left me with a disappointing aftertaste.

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Clickable

Doh, I forgot to add the video of Boise Bob and the Backyard Band to the Dorsch post. It’s up now, so go have a looksee.

by , posted 2533 days ago

The leek in winks

fleggelation Once again, the “best” of the “web,” presented for your clicking “pleasure.”

 

What's up with Pakistan?

pakistan flooding

Here’s something I noticed yesterday: The number of people living in poverty in Pakistan fell from 30% in 1999 to 17% in 2008. Of course it’s not doing so hot now, what with the Taliban resurgence, GEC (global economic calamity), and more recently the unspeakable damage caused by the floods. Still, even the 30% figure is lower then I’d have guessed. I think the reason is that we always hear it discussed together with Afghanistan, and assume both places to be roughly equivalent. Actually, the purchasing power equity-balanced per-capita GDP (PPEBPCGDP?) of Pakistan is three times that of its neighbor. There are parts of Pakistan that are hellhole-esque, but most of it is not that different from eastern Europe — a little dirty and revenge-killing-y, but with a bustling economy, a sophisticated upper-middle class, and ogles of culture.

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Bubble Raft opening at Dorsch

bubble raft dorsch gallery dino felipe

Putting together a group show during the Summer is pretty obligatory for Miami galleries. That, plus all the closed galleries, make July and August artwalks usually worth skipping. Well, Dorsch was closed for August, but launched its September show early and with a bang — Bubble Raft is a collection of mid- and large-scale sculpture that fit really well with the five bands selected to play at the opening reception. The result was the sort of meta-cultural event that couldn’t have happened anywhere else.

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Clickable

For the first time, there are three women on the supreme court. The significance? “Having three or more women in a small decision-making group constitutes a critical mass that can transform the way that group operates.” Among other positive effects, “the small group as a whole becomes more collaborative and more open to different perspectives.”

by , posted 2541 days ago

Clickable

I think the internet was more amused by the idea of Kanye’s New Yorker cartoons then by the actual result. But. Check out Jersey Shore mashed up with Family Circus for some primo yuks. (Thanks, Amanda!)

by , posted 2542 days ago

Instruments of torture

instruments or torture

Just closed the Instruments of Torture exhibition at the Freedom Tower. Displays of torture equipment are popular tourist traps around Europe, but this was somewhat more upscale, on loan from the Museo Medieval in Italy and with many pieces from “private collections.” There was also a decidedly political bent to the exhibitions, and the informational panels never missed a chance to say that “It still goes on today!!!”

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