Reading Boing Boing earlier in the week, or weeks ago maybe, I came across a brief article about the National Archives. All of those government commissioned movies from bygone eras, Why We Fight, CIA reports on China’s development, documentaries on Patton, are languishing in some musty closet. You can watch previews from them on the National Archive site but the feds suggest you purchase the films on DVD from Amazon.

These are citizen funded movies and the government, not wanting to deal with it, sent them over to be produced and distributed by a private company. In practical terms this makes obvious sense– the market is so small for this sort of nostalgia you may as well let private enterprise take the risk on repackaging and selling the flicks. But we don’t care about what’s practical, right? We care about what’s right. So does Carl Malamud, who bought the DVD set and then posted them all on the Internet Archives. Not all, as many as he’s been able to. He’s encouraging people to watch them so he can use the number of viewers in testimony before Congress to convince people that these films should be widely available to the public.

As I’m isolated from culture that I understand I’ve been digging through them. Tonight I learned about mosquitoes and malaria courtesy of Disney and seven dwarves. Did you know you could run around pouring oil into ponds, drain them, and bury cans? Spray toxins everywhere? That was official government education back in the days before color.

Okay, they’re also on youtube but I prefer the Internet Archives for no particular reason.

Underwire - 3D Concerts

My most recent posting on Wired’s Underwire was in regards to a concert movie showing in 3D. Dave Matthews, Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello are the focus of this first release by new venture inconcert3d, a company founded by several larger businesses. My efforts to get more technical details regarding who designed the systems and how the post-production is handled was met with silence, which may explain why the piece was altered by my editor to sound like a press release. Or maybe Underwire just wanted to make a press release, or I’m a talentless hack, or many other possible reasons.

Vingt - Emir Kusturica & TNSO

Meanwhile on the Vingt front I did a show preview of Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra. Kusturica is obviously better known as a film director but he lends his guitar and name to this band. It’s a high energy outfit of old Serb guys who mix theatre, comedy and rocked out Balkan/Gypsy tunes for a pretty entertaining show. Or I imagine so as I’ve never seen them, and by the looks of ticket prices I wont. This is pretty heartbreaking to me as seeing the poster for this show was one more instance of, “my God, things I want to check out are happening in Paris”. Do yourself a favor and click the second link– goes to a video that has some amazing violin action. I know it’s long but do it at work or something.

Vingt - Staff Benda Bilili

Feeling like I needed to come up with something else I was prowling the internet and came across this group from Kinshasa, Staff Benda Bilili. They lay down a compelling blend of afro-funk and American influences, riding a rollercoaster from deeply emotional reflections to high-energy dance numbers. The big media draw is that the core of the group are all disabled, mainly from polio, and until recently have only existed as street musicians. A Belgian label decided to release an album and this is their first European tour. I’m going to see this courtesy of Vingt’s press power and am really looking forward to it. I would recommend you also check these guys out, videos or whatever you can find. Hell, I’ll start you out.

Indescribable pain racked my body, shooting white-bolts of blistering agony from the low of my back down through my legs and up to the top of my skull. Each spasm caused by body to convulse, twisting like a burning scrap of paper, compounding the torment. I slowly shifted to my other side to lay panting, sweating, terrified of the next attack.

The possibility of rising from my inflatable mat was remote. Muscle contractions had left me spent, near vomiting and pissing. While there was little I could do about the former I groped behind me in the dark for my water bottle. We stared at one another in this sudden calm. I drained the last of its contents. We stared some more. I experimented with pulling myself up using the bed next to me but this sent me perilously close to another seizure. The two sleeping girls shifted under their covers. (more…)

Vingt - Dorian Wood

A preview I wrote for LA based holy water drunk, Brothers Grimm acolyte, backstreet cabaret rocker Dorian Wood. Never heard of him before either but then I checked out his music and would encourage you to do the same. Unfortunately I think I’m gonna miss his show here. (more…)

Moving On Up

At the beginning of summer I clicked through to a forum debating the development of DSLRs beginning to include HD video recording. A group of Oregonians had utilized a Nikon D90 to shoot a feature length movie and I mentioned this to my editor who encouraged me to dig around and build a story. Sent out some e-mails to the filmmakers, a camera reviewer/photographer and a favorite indie director of mine. My editor liked the facts and color commentary I had collected when he finally got around to reading the draft, just not how I had written it.

He proposed a redirection and focus but I was well in the midst of getting ready to move. One evening I brought my notes up to a cafe by my parents’ (where I lived for a month before disembarking) to try and make sense of it all and failed miserably. Flew across the world and got my bearings before making another stab at it, which essentially meant rewriting the fucker, double-checking for new developments in the field and seeing if anything new was going on with the film.

The second copy went ignored for a while until my editor had the time to go over it. Together we worked out some clarifications and then he posted it, telling me I was holding the top slot of the front page overnight. Why? That answer remains a mystery, but any and all zombies awake at indecent hours had the opportunity to see me in all my glory underneath and Apple ad.

Montmartre a Nuit

I’ve moved to Paris. There’s none of the traditional reasons behind this– there was no girl, no job, no school. I basically hit a point in my life where I was sick and tired of feeling miserable and trapped in the perpetuation of existence that I’d started when I got my first shit job at the age of fifteen. There are amazing, inspiring people out in the world who find what’s important to them and pursue it, make it work, and cling to it with their very lives. I had a couple failed bands, a couple failed relationships and struggled to find the time and energy just to write little things here. My health was in decline and although I can’t say I was unhappy, really, I knew complacency was killing me.

My trip here last spring caught me at the right moment. Paris is amazing, and as inspiring as the people who I’ve been fortunate enough to know who demand the right to chase their dreams. I knew before returning home that I wanted to live here, and so I started figuring out ways to make it work. This is why I started writing articles for Wired– I asked my editor friend for advice about getting into freelance writing and he suggested I start working with him; he’s been there every step of the way so far, teaching me how to self-edit, teaching me how to develop pitches, teaching me how to become a desirable commodity. The fact that the industry is choking right now didn’t bother me any more than the fact that I can’t speak French does.

And so I’m here, a month in, trying to figure out my life. It’s been tough for the obvious reasons and thrilling for the not so obvious. Trying to get into a steady work rhythm to churn out articles for my two Wired connections and build up a good set of clipping to expand my subject field. I also started a new blog:

Je Suis Le Grand Zombie (after the Mekons) (more…)

Shit, I’ve been busy. I’ll explain, but first part of my excuse is:

Brett Beyer

Got assigned to profile a New York photographer who mashes up prints and exposures. Didn’t really know how to deal with the obtuse, approach but I tried to represent the guy as fairly as possible– my editor really likes to trim quotes down. I’ve never seen anyone get savaged by Wired readers like this guy and I do feel bad for him. (more…)