Atomized junior- The Web log

Dedicated to the smallest particles of meaning on the web
Atomized Links:

theUsual Suspects:


Atomized junior- The Web log

Thursday, 24 February, 2005
Evil by Numbers

There was an article on a movement by forsenic examiners and psychiatrists criminal pathology to consider evil as a label in their work. This was in the New York Times a few weeks ago  New York Times > Health > Mental Health & Behavior > For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be 'Evil'. There are few areas where psychiatry or psychology have lurched further astray than in examinations of the criminal mind. I don't find use of the term adds much to any discussion, and I've been held up by a man who was willing to kill me for my wallet,  he wasn't evil he was pathetic and he had a gun.  I often stop and examine articles that point to a burgeoning cultural use of evil.

 The particulars here:

    -- Dr. Michael Welner, an associate professor of psychiatry at New York University, has been developing what he calls a depravity scale, which rates the horror of an act by the sum of its grim details.
    -- Dr. Michael Stone a prominent personality expert at Columbia University has published a 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, derived from detailed biographies of more than 500 violent criminals.

 Three things seem to stand out. The scales - integer level data - are graduated measurements of intensity of perversity, of multiple infliction of harm with evil assigned to the far end where understanding fails. A deliberate seeminly goaless infliction of pain, suffering, fear terror. Along with this adding to the level of perfididy seen is these individuals residual ability to behave normally at times and remain in society. Psychological pathology giving way the moral plane of guilt and blame. Do we have deontological ethics problem, a plain bad, or does a trace of teleologic still lurk here.

 A brief appeal to authority. From Franz Kafka : "nothing can be more evil than the thought of doing evil." From Shakespeare: "like flies we are to wanton boys they mock us for their sport." What would be the nature of evil is we decide it does exist. There would be those who would have an evil nature. We could say they were morally reprehensible to an absolute degree. Essentially they are different from us because they commit evil acts and cause, harm, sorrow, distress.

Consider the word Shakespeare choose to use wantonness: it can mean untrained; the connotation is those who were not brought up right, were not taught how behave how to exist in society. It also can mean those who inflict suffering for sport or pleasure. Shakespeare did not have the word 'sadist' available to him, and might not have used it anyway. 

 There is a basic problem with evil. It seems to presuppose a cosmic evil, a particular evil is allied with. This makes it a theological issue. If evil exists; either God isn't almighty, or God isn't all good. Misfortune implies the latter to some, willfulness the former to others. It's a category problem I have with the term evil - what goes in it, that can't (also) go elsewhere.

 Looking at practical problems in evil. This behavior, as a pathology which often denotes a self destruction, does it represent weakness, a dis-ability? Or does it represent strength, a preternatural ability? Can it scale from the individual level to group - instutionalised group such as the state? does it affect things is we regard it as opinions and acts of one vs. the many or the few vs. the many? Can it be judged at the time - in its time or only when the party's over as a "collective thoughtlessness" Again from the article

In Nazi prisoner camps, as during purges in Kosovo and Cambodia, historians found that clerks, teachers, bureaucrats and other normally peaceable citizens committed some of the gruesome violence, apparently swept along in the kind of collective thoughtlessness that the philosopher Hannah Arendt described as the banality of evil.
The author of the piece notes this as suggesting "how much further people can go when they feel justified."

 In a further quote just down from this is reiterated: "Evil is endemic, it's constant, it is a potential in all of us. Just about everyone has committed evil acts," said Dr. Robert I. Simon, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and the author of "Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream." After this you might ask can a group proceed pathologically while the members proceed normally - blamelessly? If the leader is evil/pathological are or are not the followers? Can a leader issue a pass ticket on latent evil in us so that if it becomes an active evil, we are not responsible. Can a theory of evil survive admitting these. That moral culpabilty beyond redemption exists, but dissapates when it passes beyond the individual.  Is anything pathological that obtains its end? Does it make any difference when that end pursued in a sembalance of rationality admits to no fellow feeling.

11:31:02 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005
Nova Express Laptop

There was a story last week from the BBC: BBC NEWS | Technology | Digital guru floats sub-$100 PC. Nicholas Negroponte has an idea to take a basic laptop, skinny it down, and have it run Linux. Used educationally it would be the New Model Horn book, an updatable multi-subject textbook and inexhaustible notepad.

Whenever I think of Nicholas Negroponte I always think back to when I first heard of him (I may have run over this before, but even if). A number of years ago I bought an old book called the Soft Architecture Machine. It was written back in the 70's by a grad student at MIT and proceeded on the topic of the possible ability of computers to aid in design and graphics. It did this in breathless style and prose that seemed to owe debts to McLuhan and William Burroughs. The title even seems to refer to a Burroughs' novel the Soft Machine, written using what Burroughs called the cut-up technique and from the same stack of notes done during his Tangier days that he used to write Naked Lunch. It's a tetralogy: Naked Lunch, the Soft Machine, the Ticket That Exploded, and Nova Express. The cut-up technique is just like it sounds: write it, cut it up, tape it back together, shuffle, mail to publisher. The Soft Machine is the human mind or rather the human brain. Linearity and the dead weight of temporality are just control systems that keep us down. One chapter in Negroponte's book describes guinea pigs pushing servo-motor assisted blocks around to make their nest home in a big cage. An ideal for living.

This is always linked in my mind with an article by Dora Merris: "Product Engineering in Technological Forecasting : Half Science Half Magic."(Product Engineering p.80 16Jan1967 ) Which I came across about the same time. I have a two line note in a notebook from 10 years ago that tells me this. The article dealt with Kaiser Aluminum and a board game (Cordon/Helmer, creators) they had made from something called project delphi. It all seemed very fashion forward and futuristic. I allowed this to symbolize for me a lost technological optimism of the 60's. Asking then - this just before the dot com boom: Where did that go?

Like a carefully banked ember tucked away in a corner of the fire place, it didn't go anywhere. As I discovered a few months latter. As head of MIT's media lab, cofounder of Wired magazine, and author of Being Digital, Mr. Negroponte continues to exemplify technological optimism even as he did at that time with his soft machines. I don't know how that whole board game thing for Kaiser turned out, but I'm guessing that the Helmer of my note is Olaf Helmer who developed the Delphi Method  system of trend forecasting for Rand Corporation. The relative fortunes of Dephi method (=LCSH) over the years show how the future continues to be be elusive, both in what the future will give us and what it needs from us; as though it were just out of reach.

11:31:51 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Saturday, 19 February, 2005
Lonesome death of Dorothy Strand.

 A small example of a media story where the varying coverage of it seemed to have a  meaning all on its own was the murder of Dorothy Stang last Saturday.  The  Washington Post gave this 77 words,two column inches, on page A29 the next day. The Washington Post that invincible Sword of Justice's coverage: a 79 year old American nun, a missionary of the order Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was shot to death a close range by two gunmen near the town of Anapu in Para Brazil.
The BBC ran a piece on this, Reuters ran a piece, the CS  Monitor ran a piece. All several times more in depth than the Posts "in brief" coverage. It may be a murder but all these article indicate it's no mystery. From Reuters American Nun Shot Dead in Brazil's Amazon:  "The logging companies work with a threat logic. ... They elaborate a list of leaders, and then a second movement appears to eliminate those people," Stang told the magazine. "If I get a stray bullet ... we know exactly who did it." The Monitor article adds that "1,379 rural workers have been killed in land conflicts in Brazil since the commission began keeping records in 1985... Over the past 20 years, only 80 people have been convicted on charges stemming from the killings." (Death of nun shows peril of Amazon activism |
Later in the week the Post did cover the funeral. As well Amy Goodman
Democracy Now! Headlines for February 18, 2005 reported the President of Brazil cut short a trip out of the country, and sent in 2000 troops to restore order, admitting that that isn't enough to restore justice. In that part of Brazil its all about the land  straight enviro's are safe, land reformist are not. The 37 biggest landowners own more land than the 2.5 million smallest ones

 I suppose someone will step forward to point out that the agriculural workers in Brazil live above bare substinance survival and ought to be content with this victory of their class.

4:47:40 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, 17 February, 2005
Garden Gnomes

I couldn't recall when I read this, whether I knew this previously or not.  John Cleese based Basil Fawlty on a real man, Donald Sinclair: Guardian Unlimited | Arts news | Original Fawlty Towers goes for £1.5m - who actually did run a small hotel in Torquay. Makes me even fonder of that show than I was before.

11:43:59 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Tuesday, 15 February, 2005
Political Typeology chart

This post is intended to be a companion piece to the previous post. While I was writting that one I remembered a diagram I had seen in Kuro5hin a few years ago.
Politics in a Third Dimension (Politics)
By 3ebnut Sun Jun 15th, 2003 at 01:57:28 PM EST.

Which I had saved - it took me a while to to remember where I had seen it and then pry it out of my hard drive. The poster there had taken a graph I had seen before. The Political Compass quadrant typology and had done something I though quite clever with it; he added another axis. This added an entire new dimension to it. It also fit in with my thinking on this type of chart. In the K5 post he explains it in great detail so I won't go through all that. By way of orientation; though, beliefs - political beliefs lend themselves towards being easily represented by a line between contrasting extremes. The original chart had the tradition liberal - conservative dichotomy understood as the degree of government involvement in the economy, plus another for the presence of government involvement in personal comportment. Generally this arrangement is viewed as a rhomboid allowing left right politics to be read from left to right. Libertarians are pleased to see themselves on top, the bottom quadrant was renamed at some point totalitarian, from populist. This involved no real change. A three dimensional space is created by adding attitudes on corporate rights and power on a third axis. In a society organized as a market economy this is not only valid but likely a neccesary adjustment. When I think about political power I see two essential features about it. First unlike wealth perhaps power is in a very real sense a zero sum game (lester thurow) When you have more, I have less. Collarary to this, it is relative wealth and power that matters, because from this come the secondary powers to compel, preclude, and shape the choices available to others. When politicians talk about "getting government off the backs of the entreprenuer, the businessman, the corporation, I am left a little cold. To me it makes little difference where this power comes from. If it is taken away from government - where at least I have a vote, I know I will see it again, from corporations who do not ask me for my leave or from the workplace, where I spend half my life. It will come from those vectors quite oppressively and I will little to say about it.

If you compare the diagrams in the k5 piece and mine, you will see I made some minor cosmetic changes. I also want to emphasis that the corporate axis is not just pro and anti corporate attitudes but an ameliorating of corporate dominence; by other authority and moral value bearing cultural institutions. Such as religion, philanthropies, the judicial system and the like.

Fig. 3 the three axis Vosem Chart
 / | New Labour    / | Authoritarian / |
+.................+.................+  |
|  |              |  |              |  |
|'Liberal         |'Totalitarian    |  |
|  |              |  |              |  |
|  |--------------+--+--------------+--|
|/ | Libertarian  |/ | Conservative |/ |
|............... .+.................|  |
|  |              |  |              |  |
|'Anarcho-        |'Paleo-conser-   |  |
|  syndicalist    |   vative        |  |
|  |              |  |              |  |
|  o--------------+--o--------------+--o
| /               | /               | /
[ X ] Command v. Laissez faire, Economy
[ Y ] Personal freedom v. Gov't control
[ Z ] Anti v. Pro corporate or cultural institution primacy v. Corp.dominance
10:52:54 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Monday, 14 February, 2005
warrior class web loggers

Current Inextricates: Joseph Steffan, James (Gannon) Guckart, and Eason Jordon. This is my word for people who have gotten themselves into a position they cannot extricate themselves from. Usually by being too clever by a measure.

Joseph Steffen in MD for Ehrlich, Led a campaign to spread rumors (and brag about it) concerning infidelity and out of wedlock children, by Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley. Who as it happens is contemplating challengeing Steffan's boss, Robert Ehrlich, for Governor next year Ehrlich Issues Salvo on Steffen, Purge of Staff. He also seems to have functioned as a bureaucratic hitman circulating through a number of Maryland state agencies, targeting mid-level employees for ideological purging. Mr. Ehrlich's 'Grim Reaper'. Similarly there is James (Gordan) Guckart for the Bush administration. pseudo-named weblogger off the street, who self identifies himself as a journalist, gets a never ending string of day passes to White House press briefings (which I never get). Pointedly serves softball - rubber bouncy ball questions, and uses others to launch vituperative forays against congress :Globe and Mail: White House correspondent exposed as pseudo-journalist. Some articles Guardian Unlimited | Fake reporter unmasked at White House note he may also be a person of interest in the Valarie Plame matter. Eason Jordon chased himself right out of a nice job at CNN with his comments at Davos. What can I say? The guy is an idiot. This war is uncoverable enough as is between defacto and de jure censorship on DoD's part, and murdurous thuggery on the insurgencies part, without incendiary accusations. It is a war where no one has much use for the press.

In company with these folk I'd like to give a dis-honorable mention to Harry W. MacDougald for Docugate and Dan Rather's bum rush. He is in no unfortunate circumstance himself; in fact he is "king-of-the-world" at the moment. I hope I'm not the only one to notice that the ultimate effect of that- for the remainder of the election and continuing up to the moment, that story - of how President Bush and the Texas National Guard parted company has remained uncovered and un-answered.

So what is going on here. If you look at who these people are you see Powerline for the latter, and Freeper activity for all them, a New Age seems to be upon us (see:

Will the Media Survive Weblogs? | Metafilter). This sets me wondering who is in the Blogosphere. The Pew internet surveys having been trying to keep tabs on this. A memo from last month Pew Internet & American Life Project: Blogosphere the state of blogging shows

    Blog creators are more likely to be:
  • Men: 57% are male
  • Young: 48% are under age 30
  • Broadband users: 70% have broadband at home
  • Internet veterans: 82% have been online for six years or more
  • Relatively well off financially: 42% live in households earning over $50,000
  • Well educated: 39% have college or graduate degrees
Another report from last year which concerned the election and information consumption online found. These sentences are not direct quotes, originally they referred to the candidates and election I changed some terms to more generic wording (brackets).
    Respondents divide into four types when it comes to their exposure to arguments.
  • Omnivores 43% They get news from many sources, including TV, newspapers, and the internet.
  • Selective Reinforcers 29% Know a lot about the arguments they favor. They are about average in terms of their interest in the campaign, media consumption, and internet use.
  • Tuned Outs 21% Those in this group do not express great interest in [public affairs], and are not news hounds from any media source. [T]hey are less likely than the general population to go online or have college degrees.
  • Contrarians 8% know a good deal about the arguments they oppose, and relatively little [else]. Their interest in public affairs is a little lower than average and their use of traditional media and the internet is at about the national average.
  • Pew Internet & American Life Project: Internet and Democratic Debate

For the 'Blogosphere' the question emerging from the last election is: who doesn't get it? Even as the Howard Dean takes up duties as Chair of the DNC largely on the strength of his use of the Net for fundraising and organizing. Its becoming clear the republicans had their own measure of under the radar effectiveness online. The democrats were sand-bagged by republicans in their gambit to play the candidates military records against one another, they are gradually realizing they were played, and were playing catch-up, but not comprehending quite how. Occam's razor obtains; behind their pseudo-names republican web loggers had more information and benefit of timing than ordinary circumstance allows.

The other question seems to be: Are web loggers journalists. This has been a pointless argument of semantics. Turning on journalists sense of themselves as an entitled medieval guild, and who uses what technology. Web loggers are demonstrating an increasing role and influence in the Marketplace of Ideas a traditional realm of journalism, and academics. This equals power. Power and transformation. As much as I'd like to say 'Freepers and the like can go their own way,' that they are not me or what I do. If Web loggers have opened a new level of public dialogue, and they like the power they have; they must take on the responsibilty that comes with that power in an open society. When I write; I know I am involved in public speech. I am who I say I am. I write about things that I have observed directly, so that my words testify to the veracity of these things. When I comment on what others observe, there are transaction costs. It takes - costs - time, money, information, to judge information, or an information source. I like professional journalists for this, because they have editors, and a Code of Ethics. A creed of commitment to an informed and balanced view. I see the general tenets of this code applying to web loggers: seek truth, minimize harm, act independently (or state who you act for), be accountable - do not hide obscure or evade. Why wouldn't it? Reputation is more than just readers.

When some of these web logging torpedos disparage the "Main Stream Media" I am often left with the impression that it is just that - it's avoidance of rigid ideology - they don't like.

12:07:48 AM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, 10 February, 2005
Tete a tete

This week is the first new moon of the year (after the middle of January). This marks the lunar calendar New Year, or to my way of thinking Tết Nguyên Dán. This is the first Têt in a few years when Tran hasn't been around to stop me and try to explain Têt and its customs. She's very earnest in this. She explains the visits to friends and relatives homes in the morning of the first day, or their visits to you. The exchanges of gifts. Tea is served with pasty and fruit; was it pastry or was she just using the word pastry to try to convey some meaning to me without wrestling with specifics? Then there is the traditional Vietnamese dress, the Ao Dai, that is often worn by women during Têt, She seemed especially fond of this.

There were details about lanterns as well and fire crackers. What kind of holiday could it be without fire crackers? All this said watching for some hint that I was understanding - understanding something about her life that she had been obliged to leave, and not just listening politely. What would I tell her if ever possessed by the same degree of earnestness?

This year she is in Vietnam, doing all these things she spoke of I imagine, and in narrow flowing dress. So I'll mark the day on my own, and watch the phases of the moon grow through the month. Through to full brightness, then down across to the Nones of March, to a slender white crescent that will tell me when she will be back.

11:39:07 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Wednesday, 9 February, 2005
Steak and Eggs Kitchen

Kid A: how many indie rockers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Kid B: I don't know, how many?
Kid A: What! You don't that know that already?
( I'm thinking that must be a line from High Fidelity or something, but I heard it from the tues afternoon dj's at WZBC)

Thinking about Derrick brought to mind a particular set of incidents belonging to a Spring Break trip up to Worcester MA to see his friend Alan Spears, the 3rd member of Exiled, and editor of this book: Fast Talk, Full Volume: An Anthology of African-American Poetry. I think, all told, I only met Alan three times. The University of Maryland separated Derrick from a lot of his high school friends.

I remember three things about this trip. We had a tape of the Dove album in the car with us. I thought it was great and listened to it through several times. I wanted to buy it when it came out, but I could never find it later.

I don't remember the name of the school in Worcester that Alan went to. I remember standing in the kitchen of the off campus housing he was living in. Looking down at the floor and being able to see through the cracks and gaps of the boards the dirt of ground below which was remarkable well lit for being under the house. This was worker housing from Worchester's mill and factory days, perhaps one hundred years earlier. I believe it took a certain amount of imagination and joie de vie to consider that home and domicile, Things that Maryland for all its creature comforts lacked.

The third thing - I can't recall whether this happended on the way up or the way down. It was round about breakfast time. We decided it would be nice to pull off the interstate and land at some diner to get some diner breakfast. I was thinking scrambled eggs, eggs over easy, eggs benedict maybe, and toast. Toast with some of those little packs of butter and jelly that you have to peel this layer of aluminized plastic back from to get into. We arrive at just such a place. shortly after we get in; though, Derrick begins to seem slightly uncomfortable. He starts to hem and haw. About half way to a delightful red vinyl booth, warm and soft in the morning sun, he decides we have to leave, and we have to leave now. So we go back to the car. I wasn't puzzled by this for as soon as we walked in a half dozen conversations stopped dead and the eyes from all those silenced conversations tracked our progress through the diner."you'd think, Derrick said "that they'd never seen a Chinese guy with green hair before." I'm going to stop a moment and confess that I don't recall whether his hair was actually green at that time or whether it was orange or one of the other colors. I'm making it green in honor of Dean Stockwell - the boy with green hair. He has a part in the show JAG these days, From war orphan to Secretary of the Navy; is this a great country or what. I looked over at Derrick and answered predictably "Well you know, Derrick, maybe they hadn't." "Maybe", Derrick replied with a pause, "But I'm not going to spend any time being the first."

Despite the title of the post, this didn't take place at a Steak and Eggs Kitchen, That was a local place that used to stay open all night long, it was on University Blvd, about a block or so before Riggs rd. Right by the power line.

10:39:47 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Monday, 7 February, 2005
Eyes off the Prize

A while back the was an article in Toronto's Globe and Mail How copyright could be killing culture. The triggering event seemed to be a study by a group attached to American University: Center for Social Media.

The article takes as its starting point troubles the documentary "Eyes on the Prize" is having. From there it goes on to the wider issue of documentary film making in general in the new millenium age of copyright control. EOTP like many modern documentatries is a collection of filmed events arranged in a broad unified narrative, the five-year minimum rights for use of the various clips originally bargained for are up, those rights no longer belong to EOTP so now, no new copies allowed to go on sale.

When I read this I remembered a month earlier noting my friend Robert Bratton who is film cataloger for the University of Maryland College Libraries  processing a video series (folk dances of the world or some such) that I knew we already had. I remember it coming in a few years earlier, Robert indicated that they were buying a second 'archival' copy, after the publisher indicated it was going out of print due to © issues.

At the time that information passed by without awakening my curiousity, but now I went back over to his desk and asked him how widespread this is. He indicated it was a fairly common occurrence, but short of forcing Nonprint Libraries like the one at Maryland to organize a comprehensive re-acquisition program. The publishers seem to take care to give film libraries a heads up when a title is going out of print. Robert also added that discussion on library list-serves confirm that the clerical cost of re-obtaining clearances is often as much if not more money than clearances themselves, the costs together are often prohibitive for the small producer. It's the sheer number of entities, pictures in a historical documentary, or tv and radio broadcasts, music whether in foreground or background that documentaries were used ladling in previously. Ironically I imagine that documentaries success as a category in recent years may be fueling its demise, by making it profitable.

A few weeks latter Robert forwarded a press release on a protest called Eyes on the Screen. They advocate hosting screenings in contravention of the ban on broadcasts and copying. He followed this with a second e-mail forwarded from a list-serve (an EOTS'er receiving indication they would be sued) the information comes from this link which seems to be the organization sponsoring this protest effort. I wonder if I'm the only one noting that protest movements aren't having quite the same effect people imagined they used to have. The Man is less touchable with every passing day.

I think I see patterns in the substrate. I recall a web site I came across a few months ago: Grace What I use them for is to get discographies of bands, and track lists from individual discs. I like them because they are fast, comprehensive, and function with a minimum of clutter. Looking around the whole site; though, you find yourself wondering what their business model is. The business is music data and meta data and it's clear they expect it to be a good business. I'll go out on limb and give a name to this business - "Taming the wild." With digital reproduction, for the first time (in a long time) the mechanics of original manufacture do not produce an inherantly better product, with unauthorized copies inferior and subject to degradation. If they escape from control, they can enjoy a nearly eternal life in the realm beyond the laws. Digital, plus the right political climate, can turn this digital fungibility on its head by making intellectual property a loan transfer that can enforce limited duration possesion and require explicit renewal payments for continued use.

There is emerging IP model where you are never buying ownership, when you buy an instance of a work embedded in (or transfering through) some physical media. Rather a carefully defined subset of limited usage rights. This is not a legal break from most theoretical notions of property rights; the bundle of sticks view - one stick allowing mutability of property, one for collecting a rent, another for transfer rights etc. IP Rights owners undoubtly feel this was the situation all along, they were just letting circumstance and materiality mediate it for them. The difference is they are now going to make it explicit. They are going into the digital wild and shepherd every transfer copy and instance they come across in every machine, broadcast, wire, fiber, or wire free flow they can monitor. Of anything they can regard as property. They will do this while supplying you metadata information as a service function.

We seem to be in a period of transition from a set of limited rights - reward for an act of creation - to a revenue stream/profit center model. Copyright not dependent on, even unconnected to the IP creator(s). Ownership justified on investment, ownership of the process in which creation took place. This ownership is assigned to a corporate body which will attempt to claim or structure into the law a permanent and perpetual rights restriction. This is not entirely new, Copyright has had a somewhat cyclic history (which underscores that it is not a settled question lest someone say it is). [Intellectual Property Law - Wikipedia]

What, or rather, where is the public good in this equation. I look at the specific instance of Eyes on the Prize, or documentary film making as described in the G and M article and I don't see it. Elections do not turn on issues of copyright law, so politicians are largely untouchable on this. Intellectual property law is codified within the terms of agreements of the World Trade Organization, inherited from earlier GATT rounds or the WIPO. Both of which are many levels of abstraction from my life. Exquisitely tuned to the arguments of lawyers and those who hire them. Profoundly unconcerned with the publics good.

11:43:31 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, 3 February, 2005
Takin' a ride

I want to point to the Twintones 'Mats bonanza The Replacements - Video. Two sets of the Replacements taped on a single night around the time the [Replacements] Stink ep was released, cut up into about 10 bite sized quicktime streams. Yes this is a month old retread of something I found out about in Metafilter. My defense: I only got around to viewing them two weeks ago, and with the songs "Careless" and "Taking a ride" still echoing in my head beginning a new week ("Customer" I have as an mp3) ; I decided to write about it. I'm not sure why Twintone is doing this. I thought there was bad blood between Twintone and the Mats, something to do with Westerberg supposedly throwing the mastertapes of the first couple of records into the Mississippi river. But that may be an urban legend. Odd thing to think about - that Tommy Stinson is only a few years older than my niece Nicole in these videos.

A year or so after this show was video taped the guy across the hall from me Alex Schneider says he has a band staying at his house, the Replacements, who are playing at the 9:30 club. I say. who? So he takes me up to the campus student radio station to listen to "Sorry Ma, forgot to take out the trash". He had only to drop the needle down on the thing, not sure what to say, those boys had a great notion about something. After this I started hanging out at the radio station more - listening to more records. This proved to be Alex's first, last, and only semester at Maryland. I remained for many more, but it's not as though the final result was any different. As I think about it, Alex had a roommate named Pierre, who, happened to have a kid sister still in high school named Nancy...

The next year his friend and band partner Derrick Hsu arrives from Georgetown Day. Derrick and I ended up friends for the next several years. Derrick for those who care to trace the DC music scene put out the Blackmarket Baby, Crippled Pilgrims, Government Issue records as well as the Artificial Peace/Exiled single. Artificial Peace was later Marginal Man, Exiled was derrick and alex. This was done by Fountain of Youth Records run out of Derrick's basement. At various times his hair was different colors, but always the same crew cut. Nancy had one very similar to it when I first met her. I remember once Derrick said his grandfather had been the the first ambassador to the United Nations for a Chinese government which no longer exists. "How can you have a government that no longer exists", I asked, but he said it happens all the time.

Derrick graduated (with a BA in English - maybe American Studies - I can't remember now) and at some point subsequent, leaving employment at Second Story books, he opened his own book store in Georgetown. There was also a store in Bethesda. Both were called the Old Forest, after a short story by Peter Taylor. During those years he also ran Gut Punch Press, which published poetry - folks like Richard Peabody and Sunil Freeman. The stores seem non extant now, I don't even think Derrick lives in this area any more. But I finally got around to reading that story (the old forest) today.

1:55:52 AM    comment [];trackback [];

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.
Click to see the XML version of this web page.
Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
2005 Paul Bushmiller.
Last update: 2/25/05; 23:35:17.