Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reggie Ledoux and Nihilism too

True Detective isn't water cooler-worthy anymore, and the director has a new film about child soldiers in Africa, but I stumbled upon this article interviewing a philosopher about TD's philosophic heft and found it interesting.

Someone brilliantly spoofed an Eddie Bauer ad featuring True Detective's problem-of-evil character Reggie Ladoux. If only more ads were this honest. 


Intriguing article on the computer game (?) Mountain/MTN, designed by the guy who made the fictional in-movie game that Joaquin Phoenix plays in Her. I like the direction some game designers are taking, away from quest-based, violent, serialized, escapist shoot 'em ups, and toward a new definition of what a game is in the first place. There's Papers, Please (you get to be a bureaucrat! woo-hoo!*), The Stanley Parable, Gone Home, and even long, meandering games like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus (the latter two have everything going for them if not for the fact that they are souped-up versions of Super Mario Bros: rescue the damsel-in-distress, yawn). There's Limbo and Lifeless Planet. These are not so much games, as worlds-unto-themselves, experiences, interactive films, rewriting the rules of computer game-playing. Mountain probably challenges the existing order the most....

* I wonder if anarchist theorist David Graeber, whose new book is The Utopia of Rules (about bureaucracies), has heard of this game....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jail, Mail, Rail (and a Taco Truck)

Sometimes life just doesn't go our way, in different ways, and for an extended period of time. I was reminded of this recently when some important paperwork I mailed never apparently reached its destination; I had a rough day at work (teaching creative writing in a jail); and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) had delays and problems just in time for Friday rush hour (not the first time this has has happened). Since I was innocent in all this -- all I did was mail a letter, go to work, and buy a ticket for the light rail -- when all these systems performed less admirably than I would've liked, I got angry, and righteous, too. And I saw the common denominator: government, which controls all these things, and whose umbrella and authority we live under. I had downright anarchistic thoughts! And then I tried to get cheap tacos from the wonderful taco truck near my home, and it was a ten minute wait. As my frustrations rose, it was good timing that I attended a half-day retreat at the brand spankin' new Against the Steam Buddhist center in San Francisco (2701 Folsom) thanks to their generous and inclusive sliding-scale policy. Dharma Punks/ATS founder Noah Levine spoke, as well as Vinny Ferraro, a Dharma Punk meditation leader. I asked them about the fine line between holding people (and systems, which are ultimately just composed of people) accountable versus blaming people for fucking things up. Noah brought up a good point that Buddhists can sometimes be too passive about fucked-up things in the world because we try and let stuff go and work on ourselves sometimes more than working on the outside world, so one has to choose one's battles. There's a time to fight/improve/challenge systems, and a time to remember that everything (mail, jail, rail, hail, etc) except our attitude toward things is out of our control. Why add an extra layer of suckiness if things are sucky and out of one's control?

The Folsom Street ATS center just opened and rents are at an all-time high in San Francisco; if you can help support them, that would be great, and good karma, to boot. The Dharma Punx movement helps a lot of people, perhaps most noticeably and transformatively in its Refuge Recovery arm, which is an alternative to the 12 Step program for people struggling with drug and other addictions.

Sunday evening in Oakland, AK Press is having a party. Though the world is still incredibly far from the anarchist utopia envisioned by some (just kidding), it's important to celebrate, just for the hell of it, even though lots more work remains to be done. AK Press just survived a fire at their Oakland hq and trying to get back on their feet. Support them too and your karma will be doubly in the black.

So this weekend was a good tune-up for me to get back in touch with two movements I think can make this world a better place: Buddhism and anarchism. Anarchism in how we structure society, and Buddhism is how we treat one another and ourselves. And since Noah also brought up that we can't effectively fight anger with anger (or hatred with hatred, etc), it's important to anyone doing activist work toward a better world that we do such work with as much compassion, understanding, kindness, and skillfulness as possible. Anarchism and Buddhism put together could be a very powerful tool for positive social change. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Believer interview with Ai Weiwei

Read a now-8-years-old but great interview with artist Ai Weiwei from 2007. It's sad that the interview foreshadows his 2011 arrest and detainment that has done great damage to his mind and body, as shown in documentary films about him. Hang in there, Ai.

Stop the TPP

Stop the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). Please take action. Here's a good breakdown of what it's about and what's at stake.

That pesky liberal-biased media

The Residents on the front cover of the Oakland Tribune ("The Art of Anonymity") -- that's punk rock! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beast it


(Chris) Burden of Dreams

Came across a kind of clunky but good overview of an artist I admire, Chris Burden. The blogger writing about Chris seems amazed that UC Irvine has had interesting people attend there -- remember, Jacques Derrida spent some time at UC Irvine (as a professor, not student, of course)! He's not as exciting as Burden, but perhaps that depends how you define 'exciting.' The blogger, Chalk, didn't quite have his facts straight about Burden's gold bar artwork debacle, but that's okay, because the blogger states he's telling the story from memory. What I do like is Chalk's enthusiasm for Burden and the way he does a nice Burden drive-by/overview of the artist's work.

Burden does elaborate and interesting sculptural-type art now, but started his career with some pretty wild, bold, self-injurious performance art, such as "Shoot," above, where he was shot in the arm with a .22 rifle by an assistant. The incident was safe for spectators, but apparently the bullet didn't pass through the meat of the arm as planned but resulted in a complication. 

I thought of Burden today as a blimp passed overhead in Oakland and I thought about taking a shot at it with my bb gun, or at least pretending to, in homage to another Burden piece in which he shot at a 747 plane. But Chalk is right -- times are different now. The 1970s when Burden did his performance was years and years before the post-9/11, subtle police state we have now. Burden adapted with the times and now makes his art outside of his own body as the subject of the art. But I agree with Chalk that there's a certain allure and nostalgia about the 1970s -- I was just a wee lad in that decade, but I watch movies from that time and think about how different life and culture must've been. I especially like 1970s films from California. Burden's art didn't harm anyone (except himself), and it can be argued that he has a certain right to do that. But of course his art was edgy and envelope-testing, as much art is. But o how times have changed. Now we have Ai Weiwei making very peaceful art and being treated like Burden might be treated these days if he (Burden) did the same kind of performance art he began with. What have we lost, what have we gained? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

2000 Man; 400 lb Man

Been listening to this nonstop and reminiscing and feeling amazed how, in 1999 (?) ish, I saw Grandaddy play in someone's living room in the small-ish town of Cotati, just before The Sophtware Slump was released and they got big. At this house show, some of their inebriated, diehard fans actually stole a forklift from a nearby business and drove it to the house where the gig was held. That was my first introduction to Grandaddy, and I've been devout since.

It's been a long haul since then.

Been reading George Saunder's amazing short story collection CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and having my heart broken by the darkly beautiful shorts "The Wavemaker Falters" and "The 400 lb. CEO." Man, that guy can write, and he can break hearts. Powerful fiction.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Damaged and Preserved

Picked up Erick Lyle's SCAM zine issue all about the making of Black Flag's Damaged album, an expanded story based on a write-up in the LA Weekly he did on that album's 30th anniversary. I actually hesitated buying the zine, because, although I like Black Flag enough and certainly admire their anarchism, work ethic, and groundbreaking contribution to early hardcore, I didn't necessarily need to know all the gory details about a single BF album (that I don't even own, though probably should). However, I'm glad I picked it up, because Lyle's tale is about far more than a single BF album: it's a historical look back on the very emergence of hardcore music, the times and culture it was born in, and the general southern California scene that produced some of punk's most legendary bands. It also documents some appalling statements and behavior from the LAPD of those days (early 1980s), who were reactionary against both (largely white) punks and people of color in troubled, poverty- and drug-rich communities, foreshadowing the times we live in now and the apparent open season on young black males declared by cops all over the U.S. that continues to make headline news. What we learn through Lyle's analysis is that this has been going on for a long time for black people; while punk has emerged more relatively recently. What both have in common is harassment and, at times, active violence from police simply for being who they are.

It's a bit painful to go back to these times, even though great things like Black Flag were birthed then, because it's the Reagan 1980s and, more specifically, the Daryl Gates*-led Los Angeles Police Department declaring war on drugs, and war on communities of color and basically anyone non-establishment who threatened the conservative social order (such as punks). It's a well-researched, well-written read, even though the copy I have was apparently misprinted and the pages are out of sequence, which isn't a huge deal. I would even argue it's required reading for Punk 101.

In other "news," I saw a film that gave me very mixed feelings and which I think demonstrates some of what's best and worst in filmmaking (wrapped up in one handy film) called Preservation. Survival horror. Excellent musical score and sound design, well-done cinematography and imagery, and very topical social commentary on returning war veterans, cell phone culture, and helicopter parenting. It also suffers from recycled cliches, plot holes and excessive suspension of disbelief, and not-complex-enough characters. But I like a movie that disappoints me as much as pleases. The soundtrack alone is worth the admission price. And I like how the film is both bad and good enough to leave a mixed feeling aftertaste.

* one of the "great" old white guard/racist police chiefs

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Apocalyptic, yet magical

Got a chance to go to the OMCA due to finding a deep discount to get in. What an excellent and amazing museum in such a paradoxical place as the troubled city of Oakland. One of the best museums I've ever been to in one of the most challenging and disturbing cities I've ever lived in! What drew me to OMCA was a temporary exhibition about our endangered and important friends, bees. What I didn't realize is the museum is home to an impressive permanent collection of contemporary art, including a piece I fell in love with, Aristotle's Cage (Michael McMillen, 1983-1992). They also have an interesting temporary exhibit about Oakland, and I liked the emphasis they put in this exhibit on interactive displays that reveal just how (police-) surveilled Oakland is, in high tech, creepy, and Constitutionally-questionable ways. There's also a permanent collection documenting the history of California, from Indians to Spanish conquistadores to the present, which is fabulous. Not just the history of California, it's a great lesson in the general history of the U.S.

McMillen's Aristotle's Cage. It's hard to get a representative view because the installation is pretty big, there's sound going on, and you access the dark, haunting, fascinatingly detailed artwork view a hole-ridden screen door below a sign reading ELSEWHERE. I found a pretty good analysis of the work here

Aristotle's Cage is a micro-world that I just wanted to jump into and live in -- even though it portrays a somewhat postapocalyptic desert scene full of mechanical detritus, loneliness, a power station in the distance, a train track that's sanded-over in parts, and a certain spookiness (conveyed via looped sounds of wind and mumbled voices). It instantly reminded me of the film Trona, whose surreal storyline mostly takes place in a junkyard in Trona, California. 

There's also Small Fridge #5 by Kaz Oshiro, which is a really cool readymade piece of art. It's just a minifridge with a Black Flag sticker, but somehow becomes art when put on a pedestal with a name card. 
In the cafe I had an amazing noodle salad and listened to a nice jazz trio comprised of piano, guitar, and trombone. The museum has easy steps to climb to reach its different levels, lots of places to sit and recover from overstimulation-museum foot-fatigue, clever interactive displays, and a nice way of presenting thorny historical events, from Indian and conquistadore interactions to modern-day illegal immigration, with a sense of balance and unbias. My only complaint was that I'd love more brochure-type things to share with the inmate students I have, since they can't obviously visit a museum or hop on the internet (one of the guards/ushers directed me to the internet). I was just overall so impressed by how the museum made use of space, kept things interesting, incorporated the building's architecture into displays, and combined actual animals to see (such as desert snakes) with NYC Museum of Natural History-quality displays. For some reason I never would have guessed Oakland has such a first-rate museum, but I was so pleasantly surprised. Perhaps this is what Triclops! were singing about with their song "Jewel of Oakland"?

I also had the chance to take in Michelle Dizon's excellent documentary about the Philippines, Perpetual Peace. Dizon used long takes and a semi-unnerving and semi-pleasurable ambient score to document the Filipino/a diaspora, life in the islands (specifically the southern part of the Philippines), and ways in which militarism, neoliberal economics, and natural events have shaped the country and its people. I especially loved the film's fluid opening sequence and scenes inside exploited workplaces like banana processing plants and fish slaughterhouses. I noticed other patrons had trouble sitting still for her long takes and the mantra-like quality of the soundtrack (which I noticed came to us via like a 56 mini tweeter speaker system), but I personally loved it.

Last but not least, I wanted to mention Miguel Arzabe's big, colorful painting Occupy Space, which depicts what Miguel sees as the inevitable colonization of other planets besides Earth. He depicts Mars as having been colonized and then, due to humans being humans, destroyed so that humanity keeps looking for new planets to escape to and repeating the whole quest for utopia/creation of dystopia over and over. He depicts Jupiter looking lovely and uninhabited in deep space, but with human rockets heading toward it.
Perhaps a pessimistic take on things, but I think he's right. I think he's captured something essential about humanity's amazing abilities (getting to Mars) and self-destructive tendencies (having the chance to start anew but fucking it all up again). Let's hope he isn't prophetic.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lep 2: a Closer Look

I noticed with some amusement that Netflix seems to have acquired the entire Leprechaun franchise (lucky us!). I mean, what a thing to spotlight (especially since the latest installment, Leprechaun: Origins, was so abysmal)!

At the same time, it felt nice that the whole Leprechaun series was in one cozy place, all together, in all their glorious awfulness. Everyone who appreciates these so-bad-they're-good movies has their favorite (apparently Leprechaun 3 (Las Vegas) has the highest approval rating, whatever that means). Mine still remains Leprechaun 2: maybe because I saw it twice on opening day and it was the last film to be in theatres; maybe it's Sandy Baron's show-stealing, penny-pinching Bukowski performance; maybe it's Shevonne Durkin's atrocious performance and Valley Girl-with-a-bad-head-cold voice*; maybe it's the groovy music; maybe it's the white slavery, St. Patrick's Day reference to Tod Browning's Freaks (1932), and using an awl as a plot point. Maybe all of these things, plus the fact that the film is basically what you'd get if, in an odd juxtaposition, mixed BARFLY with LEPRECHAUN. I watched it again and had a realization: you can watch really bad movies multiple times and notice things you hadn't before just like with good movies

The Writing on the Wall

"Charlie Don't Surf" is a reference to a line Robert Duvall says in Apocalypse Now. Also, protagonist Cody is played by Charlie Heath (whom I think turns in a decent performance). My mom's maiden name is Heath. Wonder if ol' Charlie and I are related? 

Andy Kaufman lives! Perhaps he does. Do the makers of Lep 2 know something the rest of us don't about the enigmatic Kaufman? Also: nice duck. 

The Stunt Boob Body Double Debacle

Pretty much every viewer notices during the big sex scene in Lep 2 -- a strange threeway between a dude, a lawnmower, and a voyeuristic Leprechaun -- that the filmmakers try and pull a boob switcheroo. 

These are Shevonne Durkin's boobs. 

Whoa! The bra doesn't fit, and the skin tone is different. And the boobs seem possibly fake. 

There is some cool music during this scene, and during the scene where Cody experiences sadness while watching a movie because Shevonne is whoring it up at the go-kart track. 

Meditate and Destroy

Never noticed this before -- Shevonne does a great sitting meditation posture when she gets frustrated being trapped in the Lep's lair, but quickly does the right thing by straightening her spine and going into an on-the-spot meditation. Maybe her performance ain't so bad after all!

This is Why it's a Lep Movie

This guy was a white slave of the Leprechaun 1,000 years ago. He is one of the first characters in the movie. He has on TONS of makeup, and -- perplexingly -- GLUED-ON FACIAL HAIR. Did they cast a guy who is unable to grow facial hair? I mean, it only takes like a day or two to grow.... 

The titular star himself spending some qual time in the ceiling. You can always count on him for shiny shoes, bad limericks, gruesome killings, bowlegged getaways, never wavering from the gold standard, and, of course, a slew of awful movies. 

All in all, it's just a great, great, very bad movie. Lots of fun. It (somehow) cost 2 mil to make and earned $260,622 in the box office alone. That's pure profit, baby! 

Apparently, after an absence from acting, Shevonne has resurfaced in a film called Spermicide, whose premise is interesting: a once-sperm donor now turned sociopath goes on a killing rampage of all his sperm donation-created offspring.... 

* just giving you a hard time, Shevonne. You know we love you. You spanned time in Lep 2. You spanned time. 

RIP Sandy Baron. You went out with style. (Sadly, you can hear Sandy/Morty cough unintentionally in the film, indicating the emphysema that would claim his life a few years later.)

PS: I came across this surprisingly positive review from back in the day. The reviewer (for the LA Times) gets Charlie Heath's character's name confused: in parts of the review, it's Joe, in others, Cody. Let's just call him Jody. (Which is funny, 'cause I used to have an uncle Jody Heath.) 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hurry Up Shotgun, Porch, and Captured! by Robots

Thanks to the generosity of my friend Zach, caught a really memorable show at the Golden Bull in Oakland: Hurry Up Shotgun, Porch, and Captured! by Robots. All bands were great in their own unique way. HUS reminded me musically of Emok, and vocally of Soundgarden or Fleshies.

 I took this pic of the Hurry Up Shotgun singer-guitarist only to capture the listener above him.

It was my first time seeing Porch, but I remember playing them on my college radio show back in 1994. Fronted by Todd Huth, the original guitarist (pre-Ler LaLonde) of Primus, Porch do something very original. I talked with Todd after they played: nice guy. He looks like the perfect combo of Quint from Jaws and John Malkovich. 

Porch. The dark blob in the lower right is none other than Gabby Lala in the crowd. It was a kind of Prawn Song (Les Claypool's record label) all-star night. Lotsa great overdriven bass from Porch. 

Captured! by Robots is a very memorable live experience. It's a one man band, but there is a robot drummer and robot bassist/guitarist. Epic, anthemic metal and punk songs, with sarcastic comments from the robots in between the songs expressing their misanthropy. The syncopation and mechanization of the robot musicians is pretty fascinating to watch, and it amazingly all works and holds together. It's the first time I've seen a hybrid human-robot band that together forms a cyborg musical experience. And yes, the robots really "play" their instruments, via pneumatic tubes, chains, belts, and computer programming. 

The robot rhythm section of Captured! by Robots. 

JBot, the human being in the band, reminded me a little of Doc Brown from Back to the Future: a little scattered, esoteric, funny, and utterly brilliant. 
Overall, high quality musicianship, great bands. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A haircut

I read a lot of disturbing news stories today, so I had to balance things out with a reminder of the goodness and sanity in the world. I also got a haircut at a barbershop, thanks to winning a raffle at a fundraiser for the excellent Project What! program of the excellent nonprofit Community Works. Project What! provides support for youth who have incarcerated parents, and Community Works offers different programs helping people affected by incarceration.

My latest headshot. LOL. I sound like a douchebag saying "headshot." But, seriously, I'm a talented, yet currently underemployed, guy. Don't you wanna hire me? And thanks to Aaron at E Cuts in Oakland for the spiffy haircut. He did a good job, methinks. 

Interestingly, this was only the third time in my four decades-long life that I've gone to a professional barber. I'd never been to a black barbershop either; E Cuts is also black-owned, which is good. I'm so generally saddened by the state of racial affairs in the US right now, and not just small towns or deep South places, but allegedly progressive places like San Francisco, where an openly gay officer resigned amid the racist text scandal that occurred recently. It seems like we're moving backwards after the ugly battles in the mid- and late-1960s for civil rights and equality. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I came across this funny, well-written article by Siouxsie Q of the SF Weekly about the pretty wonderfully odd juxtaposition of baseball, bondage, and consensual (of course) gangbang. It reminded me of once seeing a woman in San Francisco clad in Giants regalia fall down in a parking lot, and when we asked if she was okay, she was, and all we could awkwardly say was "Go Giants!" So I started thinking of awkward, borderline inappropriate moments to express support for one's favorite team.... Anyway, Q did a good job, humanizing an often-objectified profession, with humor and team pride. 

Who owns San Francisco? (Or: Why Do I Continue to Tackle Major Social Problems?)

I admit I struggle with living near the epicenter of a huge displacement of vulnerable people going on right now: that is, the tech industry migration into San Francisco, and how landlords and property management companies have driven housing prices to ridiculous extremes due to this new money influx. San Francisco beats out NYC as the most expensive city to live in. Where to pin blame for this creates a cacophony of heated arguments: blame tech, blame property speculators and land barons, blame both, blame government, etc. I think one of the smartest voices to emerge belongs to a writer named egg, who wrote in a recent issue of Slingshot that the biggest culprit is capitalism itself; and another smart voice is that of Jaron Lanier, who says the average person created this mess (unintentionally).

In a review of the zine Piltdown: Behind the Wheel #s1 & 2 (po box 22974, Oakland, CA), egg writes:

...this zine humanizes the aggressors [tech jerks] revealing that they are actually fallible people who are struggling -- a few of them are even well intentioned. Much of the money floating around is unsustainable...and the techies are a door knock away from shitting in the streets themselves. ... A document of the rotting corpse of capitalism. 

In Buddhism we have a saying that "There are no enemies, only experiences. (And also no saviours.)" I think it is always important to humanize those we blame for creating dystopic conditions, and it's important to remember that our winners-and-losers, competition-based, social Darwinism economic system -- capitalism -- is the superstructure in which questionable groups like landlords, techies, etc, are displacing the poor, the working and middle class, artists, and other more vulnerable populations from the once-great city.

This crazy-looking guy is one of the smartest people alive today. 

One of the most brilliant and lucid voices is that of Jaron Lanier, an early visionary of cyberspace and tech itself who has sort of become a traitor to the very industries that gave him fame and sustenance, because he sees the damage that tech barons are doing to the overall socioeconomic landscape. His recent book, Who Owns the Future?, posits that if we, the people, give away our information for free to tech companies who run social media sites, then we can't be surprised when it creates a super-wealthy elite of people who basically get their raw material -- participants (users) and their uploads, shares, tweets, status updates, etc -- for free and turn it into big money (via advertising). This creates a society that doesn't have a nice, robust middle class (with hopefully a small lower and upper class), but a pyramid-shaped society with a wealthy elite and a wide foundation and body of have-nots and struggling people.

A great visual example drawn by San Francisco artist Packard Jennings. I just showed this to my creative writing students who are incarcerated (find them on the pyramid, if you will). 

Of course everyone wants to be toward the top, but there just isn't room. Lanier does not have any social media (free) accounts: he has a website he evidently pays for, and that's it. He has put his money where his mouth is. I followed his example and have been off Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, for awhile now. (Often the reasons are multi-faceted. My dad, a kind-of retired techie himself (systems analyst) agrees that social media tech, largely based in the Bay Area, is doing major damage to vulnerable populations, but he also hates the layout and interface of Facebook.) Being out of the social media loop has certain disadvantages, though. As a freelance writer, I'll reach more people if I'm on all those sites, but I don't want to fuel the gentrification and displacement going on in San Francisco. At the same time, I can't be a complete Luddite, so I have to use a minimum of web tech to survive in the early 21st century. Ethics battles survival battles keeping up with the Jones.

I took a look at what I was using to see if there was any more fat I could trim.

Scribd: I recently found something hard to find on there written by bank robber cum philosopher Bernard Stiegler. But Scribd is based in SF. So bye bye, app.

Yelp: I'd always had mixed feeling about this site. Based in SF. I scalped Yelp. It let out a small yelp but died gracefully, and life will go on. I'll have to try a new restaurant blind, like the old days!

Dropbox: I got Dropbox as a requirement for a previous job. Did I really need it? I looked at what files I had. None essential. Dropbox is hq'd in SF. I dropped Dropbox.

Wikipedia: I use Wikipedia for info and even edit and contribute sometimes. Based in SF. Can I really live without Wikipedia? I mean, I think Wikipedia is trying: they're aware most of their knowledge comes from the perspective/contribution of white males, so they are trying to get more females and people of color (and international people) to contribute as much as white males. I give them credit for that.

Blogspot: This here blog is powered by Blogspot, who is owned by Google. YouTube is also owned by Google. Google has an SF presence, but I tend to think of Mountain View/Silicon Valley when I think of Google. Can I live without Google? Without YouTube? I don't like other search engines I've tried, like Bing, and YouTube is an amazing archive of free, cool stuff. A dilemma.

Skype: Don't use it much, but it's based in Luxembourg and Washington state. Which brings up a good point: I have no idea if tech in those places is displacing people and negatively gentrifying areas, driving prices up. Is it?

That's about it. I have a free meditation app on my phone, and some apps I've paid for. Paying for a service doesn't worry or bother me; it's the free websites and social media giants that worry me (and Lanier). For as he points out, when you get something for free, you give up a lot, and even though you're getting certain benefits (connecting with long-lost people, sharing pictures with Grandma on Facebook, clicktivism (online activism), etc), you're also giving away your valuable info for free, which Lanier thinks you should at least be compensated for. He thinks social media sites paying people micro-payments for sharing their info could create a sustainable, healthy middle class, rather than a lopsided social structure defined by stratification and large gaps in wealth and power.

Recently I saw two people saying that cost of living and housing in SF has gotten outrageous, but both these people are also hardcore social media users. There's a contradiction there. What has made SF the most expensive city to survive in? Tech, and opportunistic, greedy landlords and property management businesses. Are they the enemy? No. What is the solution? I don't know. All I can do is try and follow Lanier's example and use a minimum of free tech to survive, while nonviolently divesting from tech barons. Am I missing out on things? A little, but I really don't miss it. Humans are amazingly adaptable creatures. And while techies and landlords in SF aren't going to be seen as the most noble human beings right now or in retrospect, they're also mostly well-intentioned, sane people who are trying to survive under the great capitalism umbrella. That is where I think the root of the problem lies: in the umbrella itself we're all under. And I think Lanier's solution, laid out in detail in Who Owns the Future?, is one possible solution worth trying.

But, ah, California. Now we are facing less than a year of water reserves from the drought, and water thievery has already begun. So, since nature bats last, maybe, as the Dead Kennedys once sung, We've got a bigger problem now....


Interesting recent article on Lena Dunham from The Atlantic magazine. I like how it starts. I first came across LD in the film Tiny Furniture, which I would categorize under "Horror Movies not Found in the Horror Section." This particular type of film can really disturb and haunt me. I'm not even talking the "psychological horror" genre such as (the excellent) Jacob's Ladder or the darkly funny revenge film The Corndog Man. I put together a list of "Horror Movies not Found in the Horror Section" to illustrate this genre. I think the first film, Synecdoche, New York, exemplifies it best since the filmmakers behind it intentionally went for trying to capture the horror of everyday life, the horror of the banal.

Synecdoche, New York
The Life of David Gale
The Ice Storm
Pieces of April 
The Music of Chance
Killing Them Softly
Only God Forgives
Swimming Pool

I could talk about what elements make these films horror films to me, but I don't want to spoil anything.  Let's just say there's nothing supernatural going on horror-wise, nor even horror in the traditional sense of life endangerment from other people or nature. It's just the horror of people existing.