December 2009

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.