Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Random Post #4 (N.Y.C.'s Like A Graveyard)

A Real Man - Sleater-Kinney

Tears Stupid Tears - Half Japanese

I recently got back from a trip to New York City. The Big Apple. The greatest city in the world. Blah blah blah. I had a great time and I understand better now what all the hype’s about, i’st an amazingly huge and intricate city with a million neighborhoods and a million scenes. Every night there’s some new art opening, or indie film, or off-off Broadway play or hip hop show to check out. But visiting New York City made me realize something very important; namely that I don’t want to live in New York City. New York is the center of the world, the only place to be if you want to catch the nation’s attention as an actress or a playwright, or an artist, or whatever. But being surrounded by some many doomed pre-failures gives the city a real sinister atmosphere. I have no desires to be at the center of the world’s attention, or to live on the fringes of an art empire, existing as a perpetual tourist and casting-couch whore, surrounded by people who make it clear that they are richer, hipper or smarter than you. I have to admit, I don’t understand the stubborn hubris to move to the most competitive art scene in the world, when there is so much great art and music being created in America’s smaller cities. These former industrial and agricultural centers, which have put a state-funded premium on creativity and expression in the last few decades, ground an art scene potentially much more free from the restrictions of the urban canon and top-heavy notions of what is currently ‘hip’, or even what is currently ‘art.’ More importantly, these smaller metropoli like Minneapolis or Denver or Milwaukee, provide an art world that is more penetrable, and more malleable, and hopefully less viscous.

All this being said, I did have a great time in New York, and was indeed exposed to some things much harder to come by in the fly-over cities. Like this film, The Cats of Mirikatani, which will be playing next month at Madison’s own 8th annual Wisconsin Film Fest. Linda Hattendorf’s documentary both recounts the past of Jimmy Mirikitani, a classically trained artist living on the streets of Manhatten, and chronicles his journey and that of the filmmaker as she open her small NYC apartment to him and begins to help him search for his family and citizenship. What struck me most about the movie though is not only its use of consumer grade hi8 digital video, but its fore grounding of a hands-on digital only aesthetic. The use of intercuting only between Hattendorf’s hand held handicam and shots from unobtrusively placed cameras in the small apartment they share, gives the movie an immediacy and grounded realism missing from most contemporary celluloid documentaries. This fore grounding of the apparatus by leaving in the camera shakes and off-camera interjections of the filmmaker, ironically makes us trust the images more than if we were watching a smooth undisturbed and perfectly exposed celluloid image by alerting us that we we're seeing is a more direct and personal experience. Whereas many digital videomakers are trying to legitimize the medium by mimicking film aesthetics, Mirikitani achieves its power by grounding its form in the rawness and accessibility of small-scale digital cameras and editor systems. It’s force comes from the feeling of inclusion and penetration only possible with the cheapness and duration of video cameras, along with the feelings of hands-on personal contact between the videomaker and the work, only possible with home computer editing. Such personally penetrating documentaries, done so well in the 60’s and 70’s by such filmmakers as the Maysles Brothers, D.A.Pennebacher, and Errol Morris, are no longer that possible in film because film stock and equipment has blown up to such high prices. The lack of affordable light weight equipment or flatbed editiors, as well as the high price of film stock make the feeling of being right alongside something achieved by Mirikitani much harder to do on film. It forces most contemporary documentarians to rely heavily on the Ken Burn’s technique of still photos and omniscient voice over. Further, the amount of money involved in even small scale film productions involves further creative oversight, often diluting any personal vision on the part of the filmmaker, who in a digital documentary is more free to be involved in every step of the process (Hattendorf for example is listed as director, camera, sound recordist, and editor). This powerful feeling of personal vision and actual experience achieved in her work is one solely possible through the possibilities of digital cinema.

The flip side of this random post inspired by the big apple is THIS TRACK by now defunct Portland punkers Sleater-Kinney, off their self-titled debut. Despite the shit I talked about New York, finding something like this at a used record store wouldn’t happen much in the midwest. It’s interesting to note that the lyrics on this track, Real Man, which rail against the assumptions of heteronormativity, are being spat out by the now happily married young mother, original riot grrrl Corin Tucker.

In his last post, ohmygodimmike challenged us, his co-bloggers, to post some covers. Well HERE'S MINE, outsider genius Jad Fair of Half Japanese covering outsider genius Daniel Johnston, with Tears Stupid Tears, off 92’s Fire in the Sky.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


She did film it!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

No Broblems in the Enchanted Land of Egypt

Alright, I have returned from my travels in Africa now. ( Although most Egyptians don't consider Egypt to be part of Africa per se). And just like I promised I have brought home stories and music and trinkets. Well..I don't know how to start. So here are some pictures.

This is the view from the Citadel were we went on our second day. Doesn't the smog give the city a mystical magical glow? Yes, and the best part about it is that one day of just breathing the air in Cairo is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes! Breathing is free! Cigarettes aren't! Well they almost are, in Cairo.
It is a truly gorgeous, crowded, happy, dirty city though, and after being there most places seem
like ghost towns, with only the tumble weeds missing. It blew our minds when we realized that 8 million people ( the population of Sweden is 9 million) live in this one hard core, poverty stricken part of Cairo called Shubra where you kiss all the fingers of you hand before shaking hands with someone you like. Pinkey first. Pretty sweet move eh?

We went to the Pyramids of course, and I would feel like an idiot if I were to try and describe it in detail. They were awesome, in the true sense of the word. I took polaroids and walked around in silence, mostly, because like when you're in say, New York, all that comes to mind are obvious things like " wow, they're so huge", and " how the hell did they build these things? I don't get it". Oh yeah, Aida did actually say that last one haha. Anyways, after seeing the Pyramids, the enigmas of humanity, we felt like getting our hair done. What can I say, "girls will be girls " haha. Just kidding. But yeah we did.

As you can see here, it was really fun. The only time it wasn't fun was when that hair dryer thing got painfully warm and started making weird sounds and I could no longer concentrate on looking at the pictures in the Egyptian gossip magazine because I kept envisioning my head exploding. I thought about what a strange death that would be. Still totally worth it. I came out looking like someone from Grease and I liked it.

OK, time for some music.

Avenue D- My Dirty South

Thanks to Hedvig this song became our anthem for this trip. We listened to it every single day in our gross smelly room at the hostel where we stayed. I think us blasting this every morning kind of interfered with the " chilled out atmosphere" and also with the yippie- american's yoga exercises. He said he'd been there " For EVER", but it turned out he'd been in Egypt for like 2 and a half weeks. Sacrificing so much to go to the third world countries and taking pictures of the truth. Ahh, yes. What an asshole.

Bob Dylan- Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

We went to Alexandria for 2 days, and stayed with Aida's aunt and 2 cousins in their nice apartment from which you could see the Mediterranean Sea. We took the train there and on the way back I listed to this song on repeat for 2 hours while drifting in and out of sleep. I saw corn fields and palm trees and houses. When I was waiting in line for the train bathroom this one guy laughed at me so hard he almost cried , you know, just at the idea of me going to the bathroom. It was pretty bad. Yeah.

One night we played Egyptian Monopoly, Monobol with Aidas two American friends. A very healthy looking couple named Jane and Billy. When we entered their home, I swear to god, it was like stepping into a different world. Everything just felt so American, they had even made chocolate chip cookies. And they had Jack Daniels. Monobol definitely wasn't. I mean it was, but everything was in Arabic. The game was super old, from a time when Shubra was one of the not half bad pink ones I think. These pictures are from when I lost all my money except for one measly Egyptian pound. Aida thought it was hilarious, and I think she even filmed it.
I wish I had a better picture for this last song ( this is the view from the little computer room at the hostel) , but Hedvig is the one who took all the taxi-pictures. (She made a really cool project out of taking a picture of the driver + Aida in every taxi we were in. ) OK, last song for now:

Samira Said- Aweni Beek

This song came on when we were in taxi, crossing one of the bridges over the Nile. And since we know it from before we started singing along to it ( Aida in Arabic and me just going aweeneebiiiree), so that driver turned it up super loud and started singing it too. It was just so over the top emotional, flying over the bridge in the sun through all that chaos, just screaming this song as loud as we could.

I'm going to post more Arabic music next time because I haven't had time to listen to the CD containing 135 songs, that our friends Methat and Aladin gave us. All the pictures in this post are courtesy of Aida because I left my camera in a taxi in Cairo.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Roadtrip Mix Tape

UFO Expert - Half Japanese

Formed A Band - Art Brut

Alive With Pleasure - Viva Voce

The Future - Leonard Cohen

As promised (although about a week late), today marks the first installment of the Official Transmissions From Wintermute Roadtrip Mixtape. Sorry for the delay, but my house is still intra-netless. However, I just started a second job at my sweet little neighborhood coffee shop, east of downtown Madison, so soon I should be able to syphon informational superhighway juice from my employers’ pipes. Hopefully my co-bloggers will soon be posting contributions to this mixtape as well, when they’re done riding Camels in Cairo (like Laz) or attending chemistry symposiums in Baltimore (like DJ).

I recently moved from Boulder CO to Madison WI, and it was along that Nebraskian stretch of 1-80, while my copilots were sleeping, that I started brain storming the perfect roadtrip tracks. But although that last trip cross-country was the catalyst for this mixtape, it’s true inspiration is from the roadtrips the four members of this blog have taken together in the past, piling into OMGIMike’s Honda like a big sexy alternative family. Personal journeys of wonder, like THIS ONE to Stockholm Wisconsin, or THIS ONE to Interlochen Michigan, or THIS ONE to Devil’s Lake which resulted in the picture above, or our ongoing roadtrip through the blog-O-sphere into your hearts.

Anyway, here are a few tracks to help kick off any good roadtrip. Burn them onto a CD with my co-bloggers contributions, and Transmissions From Wintermute guarantees your roadtrip will completely and utterly kick ass.

No one rocks like pop-genius Jad Fair (the driving force and only consistent member of Half Japanese, the authors of THIS FIRST TRACK). This song is actually off the last CD I bought at Denver’s famed Wax Trax before moving back to Madison, Fire In The Sky, but after hearing it I can’t think of any possibly better way to start off a pilgrimage. This CD is one of Fair’s several collaborations with VU drummer Moe Tucker (she produced it and plays on a few tracks).

, some brit-rock. I love Art Brut, and I think their debut Bang, Bang, Rock and Roll was certainly one of the best albums of 2006. The new rock revival as we all know has been done to death, but there’s a refreshing sincerity, uniqueness, and unapologetic yet modest cockiness gushing from Art Brut’s cock rock. As lead Singer Eddie Argos states squarely on this track, “It’s not irony, it’s not rock n’ roll, we’re just talking, to the kids.” By being unique without being self-important and by playing balls-out garage rock without layers of ironic references, Art Brut’s sound is made all the more powerful and immediate, a point made clear by the stunning superiority of their set at the Pitch Fork Music fest last summer (which this blog roadtripped to, to bring you back sloppy first hand coverage) over their whinny self-important shoegazer counterpoints.

NEXT we have Alive With Pleasure. This song by California’s Viva Voce, off their 2004 album The Heat Can Melt Your Brain soars with sonic wonder, perfectly fusing impenetrable double-neck guitar rock with an emotional and musical vulnerability. It’s the perfect accompaniment for your bloated metal eagle as it careens down the blacktop.

Like with all aspects of a successful roadtrip, you’ve gotta pace yourself. Otherwise you might flip your van in the middle of Nebraska. So around TRACK 4 you gotta bring it down a little. The inhumanly beautiful and penetrating voice, as well as the immaculate songsmithship of the legendary Leonard Cohen will provide the perfect backdrop as the initial rush and excitement of your journey melts into the solemn contemplation of the open road.

I think Cohen’s line here, “Give me crack and anal sex. Take the only tree that’s left. Stuff it up the hole, in your culture.” is one of the more brillant nuggets of wisdom pop music has ever had to offer.

And there you have it. Now go get out on the open road and burn some blood-oil like a true American, even if your not American (the world’s oil reserves aren't going to deplete themselves you know, we all gotta do our part).

Stay Tuned
for a review of tonight’s Cold War Kids show.

Monday, March 05, 2007


The whole world now knows all too well that our great leader George W. Bush is a murdering murderer. However, very few know that his quiet, unassuming wife, the first lady Laura Bush is a murderer, or as she was known at the time, Laura Welch.

She was dating the most popular guy at school until she ran a stop sign and killed him. Here is the article

It turns out that they had recently broken up, so is it possible that she killed him on purpose.

Of course not, she's not that clever.

Regardless, many who in an act of negligence kill someone behind the wheel are charged with manslaughter, whether it be right or wrong. No charges were filed against Laura Bush. The City Attorney said "as far as we know, no charges were filed." and "I don't think it's unusual that charges weren't filed."

O.K. I've had to deal with a lot of district Attorney's, and I'm pretty sure most of them aren't that nice(or dumb). It is there job to press charges against people, and if it were a young black male that did the same thing would he have been charged? I would be willing to bet on it, and if one of the Bush kids was killed by a young black male would the prosecuting attorney be saying, " seemed like an innocent mistake, I don't think it's unusual not to file charges."

It actually doesn't matter at all, it was 40 some years ago, but Laura Bush pisses me off almost as much as the president, just because everyone likes her so much, she's not that great. Seriously.

To sooth my agitated mind I will be posting some more great music, this time it will be from an album of covers called, "Songs we Should have written" by Firewater. A band that has been described as "Eastern Europen circus music" is much tamer and friendlier on this album. They have ties to such bands as Balkan Beat Box and Gogol Bordello.

I challenge my cobloggers to do a post of covers as well, although I believe Mazur may already have done that, I challenge thee again.

Firewater - The Beat Goes on

A sonny and cher song. Played at Bono's funeral

Firewater - I Often Dream of Trains

A Robyn Hitchcock song. I must admit I've never heard the original but I love this cover.

Just Doing My Job

I guess my job as a music blogger is to help people find out about new music... and since we have such a glorious readership these new bands will inevetably become famous. They may not realize it was because we posted them on Transmissions from Wintermute but that's o.k. We're just doing our job.

Todays lucky band is my friends sisters band hailing from Minneapolis Minnesota. There Name is Digitata. Here is their Myspace Page

This band is cool. They have tracks with names such as "Oscar Wilde Breakdown" and "Bangin' Jessica Alba". However their fame will certainly be a result of being featured on Transmissions from Wintermute

They have lots of indie friends too, who are on what I believe is a record label called Totally Gross National Product.

This label features bands with cool names such as Mel Gibson and the Pants and Building better bombs, who share members with Digitata.

One of there better known friends is Punk/Rapper P.O.S. (Building Better Bombs is actually his side project as well)
Who is trying to follow in Atmosphere's path of genious into fame and glory (I heard somewhere that Atmosphere has the largest female following (By %) as any other musical group on the planet), and will inevitably succeed because of the help of Transmissions from Wintermute

Back to topic...I will be posting a Digitata track from their first release Sexually Trasmitted Emotions, I happen to know they have a new album coming out as soon as it is finalized, if it isn't already. My friend wouldn't let me burn their new album since it was hijacked off his sister's hard-drive, and I guess I'm not privy to such things, even though I'm a famous blogger.

Digitata - Any Way You Work It