Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Now You Can Listen to Kurt Weller Twice as Simply - Just as Free!

The Kurt Weller Electronic Resource Center has found a new home at Multipy!

The Plaza of the Mind is just beginning to get acquainted with the Multiply service but so far so good!

The expectation is that it will now be easier for us to host multiple files in one location that is handsome to look at and easy to use!

So go ahead and check it out - we are now offering the four track Kurt Genius Memorial Songbook Collection to start you out on your Kurt Weller electronic audio collection!

I was cute at 19 as well...

A Sexy Symbol for Death and Rebirth

The young lady strapped her assignment to her chest and they thought that it was some sort of bomb.

The police say she is lucky it turned out as well as it did.

This all happened at an airport.
For me the airport as always represented success, so I would never dream of committing hi-jinx there. While at the airport I try to dress to the nines and read books that make me feel as though I am at the cusp.

Star Simpson most likely has a long and fruitful career ahead. I doubt that this story will cause the outrage that the people that reported the story were hoping for. I think they were going for some Jennifer Wilbanks and instead they got Sam Hooks.

Don't know about the Sam Hooks controversy?

My point exactly.

I was cute at 19 as well, I think I remember everything from back then but you can never really know. Did I do something like this as well?

Nothing that made it on the news.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Exciting News from the Outer Channels... and it's FREE!

If you had trouble understanding David Lynch's latest masterpiece Inland Empire, you might want to check out Para Media Ecologist Bob Dobb's three hour audio commentary here:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dream Agent K's Dream Geography Mapping Project

Grocery Store
[Location Unknown]

Tan tile floors
Huge floorplan
Unable to see beginning or end of supermarket from area I stood at
Dim lighting
Owner: Shipper?

Somewhat upscale mixed with old fashioned supermarket design

Some teenagers played pranks on me near Brach's Candy Kiosk placing their empty drink cups in my empty paper bag

The pranks were in good fun

A young African American male smiled at me broadly when I found his cup in my bag. I patted him on the shoulder and he walked off with a giggle.

The Working Hospital
[Location Unknown]

Basic Hospital lighting - depending on space - mostly Brutalist style architecture
Huge floorplan
Unable to see beginning or end of hospital from area I stood at but almost always seem to be in a large room with various exits
Dim lighting in the carpeted areas - somewhat brighter lighting in tile floored areas and the walls are stained

Owner: The Corporation?

I work at a hospital in Darwinian Space

The Working Hospital seems to combine aspects of all the hospitals I have ever worked in along with a touch of the ubiquitous Shin Megami Tensei hospital

The Working Hospital is quite large in every aspect and sort of seems to have no end, in many dreams I simply continue walking through corridor upon corridor with no stop.

It seems to be inhabited by people and patients I have met in the past. I rarely see anybody new in the Working Hospital [unless they are composites]

Dream Geography Mapping Project:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It Is A Process

Teacher in Bold

Student in Normal

Only when the instructor lay prostrate before themselves can they truly find the reality of self.

Is this the case even for those of spiritual talent.

Even more so, the spiritualist looks deep within on a consistent basis and soon finds herself without equal in the world of the Darwinians.

They are still referred to as Darwinians, I thought by now they would have had a new title.


Sound too much like a career.

The holy have always had the best libraries.

That continues to be the case, however, the holy will soon see that they are not the holiest of all...


Well, soon Mr. S will lie prostrate before Mr. D and they will realize that everything is A-OK.

We can only hope.


this is loosely based on Erik Satie's 1916 work Parade.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kurt Weller on Film

Death Wish 2

Paul Kearsy
seems to be losing control as the action of this film plays out. After trying to make a fresh start in Los Angeles, his housekeeper and daughter are raped and murdered by a gang of hoodlums, mirroring the events that first transformed the low key architect into a vigilante in the first film. This time, however, he is able to track down the actual perpetrators of the crime and he hunts them down, one at a time, using an economy of action and dialogue in doing so. My father was always a huge fan of Charles Bronson, and I am beginning to understand why. Bronson is a man of action, he doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about what he is going to do, he simply does it without fanfare. He keeps his post-kill quipping to a minimum and seems to respect the gravity of his actions, not killing so much to make himself feel better as much as to simply clean the streets.

Zero Woman – Dangerous Game

This film excels when we are allowed to inhabit Agent Zero’s apartment with her. It is minimally furnished with a couch a bed and a fish tank and is always washed in the dark blue of closed blinds with city darkness behind them. The fish tank gives off the sole light in the apartment, the television is never on and the monotonic delivery of the vapid dialogue creates an ultra-realistic mood. When Agent Zero brings the witness she is assigned to protect to her apartment to hide out, the young girl tries to get the stoic agent out of her shell by rambling on and on at her. Agent Zero seems unaffected in the beginning but seems to slowly warm to the girl’s overtures of friendship. When we step out of the apartment we are on a rooftop overlooking the city. The sky is white and serves as a nice backdrop for the concrete gray skyscrapers that pierce it from the fog covered streets below.

The Outer Limits – The Man with the Power

Donald Pleasance creates such a mesmerizing aura around himself that the viewer begins to believe that he is indeed the man with the power. Pleasance appears, quite a bit younger than I am used to seeing him, to be in his early forties. Quite thin and purposeful, his usual low key manner replaced by a hypnotically believable intensity, as if he were actually channeling all of his real-life emotions. I found myself chilled by Pleasance in this episode. His eyes so intent and purposeful while maintaining his soft-spoken manner even as his forehead was dripping with sweat. His pupil’s seeming as though they must be off white or yellow in the stark black, white and gray tones of the early sixties television cameras. The environments portrayed in a minimalist manner, the space center is not pictured as a large expansive concrete construction but rather a non-descript office front that could belong to any commercial undertaking, echoing Pleasance’s performance as not some sort of omnipotent god but rather an insecure man imbued with power that he can neither understand nor control.

Megazone 23 – Part 1

In a story that reminded me quite a bit of Philip K. Dick’s novel Time Out of Joint, Shogo finds out that he does not live in Tokyo and the year is not 1985. Bahamut, a supercomputer, has recreated the Tokyo of 1985 down to the last detail on board a giant space ship and has fooled all of the passengers on board with Coca Cola, Mc Donald’s and the Hard Rock Café. Watching this film was interesting on many different levels, and as I traced my thoughts as the minutes clocked by, I found that this piece had successfully recreated that same time period for my melancholic mind. 1985 was my first year of high school and I fondly remember fevered conversations at the lunch table concerning Robotech and the controversial influence of Carl Macek over its North American packaging. I must admit that I didn’t understand all of the arguments, I was after all, only a freshman and the young men who usually did all of the arguing were themselves juniors, but they did serve as my first taste of how truly one could commit himself to fandom. Carl Macek came to mind as I viewed this piece, because during the late eighties he had attempted to create Robotech: the Movie out of Megazone 23, an idea that would have been an interesting feat, had he been able to complete the task, of demonstrating his genius when it came to the art of the remix. He had, after all, created Robotech from three disparate shows and had fooled American audiences into thinking the 105 episode story arc had actually come from the minds of Japanese animators. In that way, Mr. Macek was himself somewhat like a small scale Bahamut putting together a false reality within the already false reality of the anime television program. Yui, a hopeful young actress, states early on in the film, ‘I just feel like right now is the best time to be alive’, words that, looking back upon 1985, would have been just as fitting for the false reality of my freshman year of high school as they were for the false reality of an animated Tokyo.

Megazone 23 – Part Two ‘Please Give Me Your Secret’

I always seem to forget how violent the animation of Yasuomi Umetsu ends up being because I seem to be more taken by his singular character and environmental designs. Sort of a combination reimagining-follow up, this segment of the Megazone trilogy focuses more on a gritty realism than the melodrama of the first episode. However, the dense plotline and meticulous attention to detail continue to dominate the presentation, especially within the character designs. Umetsu has always had an uncanny ability to transform, through use of everyday objects, the familiar into the mysterious. It is not so much as though he is holding up our reality to a fun house mirror but a multifaceted one that captures bits and pieces and rearranges them into new compositions never before seen. His character designs, when animated, are some of the most detailed hand-drawn images ever created. His characters often undergo many costume changes with no loss of model-identification for the viewer, a very risky action in the craft of animation. The clothes have wrinkles and multi-colored logos, the hair cuts and colors change. In this episode of the series one of the main characters, Yui, cuts her hair off and the face we see is the same as the one before. For it is a real face, not a face defined by the costume beneath it or the hair above. It is as if Umetsu has created actors, not characters, actors that come alive within the animation, play their parts, and still exist long after the film has ended.

The Outer Limits – 100 Days of the Dragon

In this masterpiece of Cold War storytelling, we are introduced to such a novel idea for espionage that it could only seem as though it had come from an acutely paranoid mind. An unnamed Asian country has developed a means of making the flesh pliable for two-minute periods, during witch time they have created an agent who is the perfect double of the next president of the United States. The agent takes his place the night before the election and wins; he then begins to change foreign policy to make it easier for the Asian superpower to take control of the world through business and policy rather than bullets and bombs. Only the razor sharp instincts of the vice president save the country from total takeover as he uncovers and unmasks the conspirators. As in The Man with the Power, this episode seems another exercise in minimalism, though it was most likely not an artistic choice so much as a budgetary one. The image, however, is all that remains, and this image does such an excellent job seamlessly blending insulated locales with stock footage that the story shines through quite convincingly. The viewer is completely immersed within the story and the mood of the piece creates a tension that is still plausible today. The portrayal of the vice president as a man of action that relies upon his own wits and strength to solve this most dangerous problem on his own is a convention that strikes an emotional cord and serves as a reminder of what heroism can truly be.

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

I have seen this film in different incarnations numerous times since first being exposed to it in the summer of my junior year of high school. One of the aforementioned upperclassman [see Megazone 23 Part One] had given me a copy of the original Roger Corman dub entitled ‘Warriors of the Wind’. This was a truncated and heavily rewritten version of the film, missing some twenty minutes of footage and making several changes in character names. However, for all of its shortcomings, the warriors of the wind dub had always had a place in my heart. The voice of princess Nausicaa [Princess Sandra in this version] had always held a particular resonance. There was something quite guttural about it, something quite real. Ten years later I finally came across an original subtitled version of Nausicaa, this version, with all of the footage restored, came closer to the feeling I had gotten when I had read the original Hayao Miyazaki manga in the early nineties. The viewing copy I had procured, however, was quite poor and as is the case with most subtitled films, too much of my attention was pulled from the images to the captions just below them. I was afraid, when Disney had procured the rights to the Miyazaki library, that I would not care for their dub of his works, especially Nausicaa, due to the fact that I had become so fond of the warriors version several years earlier. It is no exaggeration to say that the new dub is quite excellent and that watching this newer, cleaner version of the film as it had originally meant to be seen was quite satisfying. Nausicaa’s voice was quite excellent, as was that of Lord Yupa. The dub had an innate sense of eeriness to it as well. I think this was achieved by the distortion the voices went through when the characters were outfitted in their gas masks and by the overall understated way in which the lines were performed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Cathartic Release of Outer Channel Weight

I sold 85% of my vinyl records yesterday. I carried two heavy boxes of vinyl and cardboard to one of the last record stores and received money for them. I felt like the weight had been lifted from my chest. I used to so love the Vinyl LP and its cover but I now find the whole medium tedious and depressing. I looked out across the floor of the record store and saw all of this plastic and vinyl and realized I was so happy that these items would be here for evermore rather than taking up both physical and psychological space at home.

I also sold off 85% of my compact discs. The compact disc packaging is every bit as ridiculous as the vinyl LP. The plastic and paper and the images all seem so unnecessary. For the past several years I have thought that the recording artist would be better served to release the music digitally and if they need images or notes to accompany the songs they could release an annual detailing their musical outpourings for that year.

I am happy to see the change coming and wait eagerly for the day when I can purchase all of my musical entertainment without having to interact with a human being. The best case scenario would be music-creating machines that would randomly generate beats, hooks and vocals in the style of your favorite artists - that way you would always have something new to hear and you wouldn't get disillusioned or bored. It would be like having an Elvis Machine that would put out a new single every month, or every week, or day or hour if you wanted. And you could save them all, collect them all, and they would all sound exactly like Elvis.

You'd say, give me one like the last one and the machine would oblige. The collection would be a simple list of the tracks. No paper. No plastic. Weighing nothing, collecting no dust, sort of a audio version of this Plaza of the Mind.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Plaza of the Mind Interview with Negativland's Don Joyce!

I picked up a copy of Negativland's Escape From Noise back in 1991 or 1992 and it was really unlike anything I had heard before. It was like a smörgåsbord of found snippets of dialogue mixed with upbeat rhythms and lyrics with a glazing of suburban humor. The band later went on to record albums such as Free, Dispepsi as well as the infamous The Letter U and the Numeral 2 (though not in that order).

Besides their musical work the band has long advocated for the fair use of electro-quoting and appropriating of images. Because of pioneers such as Negativland, the Tape-beatles and John Oswald younger suburban kids such as myself felt a sort of empowerment to have more of an active role in our intake of the outer channel media that came into our lives.

You think South Park Mexican's Wiggy sounds better slowed down? Slow it down! You think Aimee Mann's Say Anything sounds better with the last ten seconds cut out? Cut them out! You think it would be cool to see a version of Star Wars Episode One starring only Jar Jar Binks? Then for god's sake edit all of those other goofballs out!

On that note, Don Joyce graciously accepted an invitation to participate in an electronic interview for the Plaza of the Mind [and while I didn't change any of Mr. Joyce's words, I did appropriate and alter two images from the band I found online to make the above image].

[The Plaza of the Mind quotes appear in Bold-type, Mr. Joyce’s in normal-type]

Could you explain your role in the origination of Negativland?

I was not there at the beginning. Negativland was originated by Mark Hosler and friends while still in high school. They produced three albums ("Negativland," "Points," and "A Big 10-8 Place") before I knew them. About 1981 I met them through my radio show, Over The Edge, which I was doing at KPFA in Berkeley (and still am 28 years later!) when we were introduced and they came up to do the show. They brought in a lot of equipment - instruments, tapes, noisemakers, etc) and they began performing a live mix on the show, which was a revelation to me, a fairly normal record playing DJ up to that time. That changed OTE forever and it's been a live mix, collage radio show ever since. I also started working on their records at that point and became a member. "Escape From Noise" was the first Negativland record I worked on. I think I brought a sensibility for dialog editing and media clips to the group, mainly coming from my interest in radio production and editing at the time. My cassette recorder was on Record/pause all the time, recording all kinds of clips and actualities from radio, TV, soundtracks, etc. I began collecting all kinds of audio material for cutting up and editing to be used on the weekly radio show, which became a weekly found sound collage, and a lot of this material also found its way into our records.

What does an average day in the life of Don Joyce look like?

Extremely boring and uneventful! But that's what I like it to be in order to devote myself to this work, which comprises almost all my interests. I have remained single, stay up all night and sleep days in order to avoid jet lag doing the late-night radio show weekly, and am pretty much a loner and a recluse otherwise. I do not intend to assassinate the President however, and probably remain fairly sane in an increasingly sped up society that does not encourage sanity... In this context, I am able to come up with such pertinent and contrary catch phrases as: "Digital is annoying."

What has been your favorite era for the band?

We had our biggest flash of recognition (and sales) during the mid 80s, around the time of Escape From Noise, our biggest selling album. At that time, the whole idea of sampling and using found sound in new work was new to popular music (though not new in more obscure art based work) led primarily by Hip Hop music sampling at the time. Now all that is well worn and nothing new, so the "freshness" of the techniques is gone, though the social/cultural potency of found sound usage is not. But it's tougher to have any new type of effect with these approaches and techniques, it's true.

But I don't really think of the whole adventure as having "favorite" eras, it's just an evolving, ever changing bunch of points, conceptions, topics, and compositional challenges over many years. It's all been quite amazing in my mind in terms of staying together as a collaborating group for this long, somehow keeping what we have made in print, and regularly releasing new work as well. I think it's quite unusual in music/show business to last and persist this long, regardless of how our now too many works might be received. Economic success has never been our goal, which means this is a pretty rare bunch of people to work together.

I enjoyed your solo record Mort aux Vachei - it seemed a departure from your Negativland works. Can you describe your work on it?

That work was commissioned by the Staalplat label in Europe, and at that time the horrors of Bosnian ethnic genocide and concentration camps were all over TV (and will it never end?). So that work was my straightforward reaction to all that and how it keeps coming back over and over as history plods on in its usual unenlightened fashion. It's all about that familiar "...doomed to repeat it" observation about history.

Do you plan on doing any other solo material?

Nothing in particular at this point. However, the particular way that Negativland has always collaborated ranges from intensely intimate sharing in the making of our work to virtually solo efforts on various parts, pieces, and works. We are all very individual artists and collaboration has never been easy, so we often end up with all our efforts, more or less solo to more or less shared, being put under the Negativland umbrella. We actually call ourselves a "collective" in the European sense of artists banding together to work together/ and/ separately, all the results coming under one name or artistic intent, the whole being bigger than the sum of the parts.

My friend got to see one of your recent shows, I missed it. I caught you back in '99 though and it is one of my favorite live music memories - it felt like I was hanging out in someone's basement - it was so mellow. How often do you do live performances?

We do not play live often or regularly. When we do come up with a live show concept, it usually has not much to do with our recorded works specifically. We can't just go on stage and play our greatest hits, reproducing all that studio production live. And that's not interesting to us. So we have always put a lot of work into live show concepts, all of which have been designed for that specifically, usually coming up with whole new content for that context. As in our records, we also try not to repeat ourselves in succeeding works, trying to make every show or record significantly different from what we have done before, at least in content. So it's a lot of whole new work to put together a live show, complicated and time consuming. At the moment we are occasionally going out with a new show called, "It's All In Your Head FM," a quite different approach for us concerning the unlikelihood of the existence of a supernatural God. This is a sort of "documentary collage" in sound, the dialog being taken from all kinds of documentaries on religion, and is unusually serious throughout with humor minimized. And yes, in two parts we cover both Christianity and Islam...

I have often found that the electro-quote holds a certain aesthetic magic in it - depending on the quote and its usage [of course] - it is somehow able to say much more than if I were to simply perform the same statement. -- Any insights?

Yes, the found audio statement (meaning media content) seems to carry a lot more useful and culturally evocative baggage within it than anything I could repeat or originate myself. It just seems to be about more... Also, I am very conscious of the power of a particular voice quality as well as what it is saying. The audio nature (timber, accent, pacing, etc) of a particular found voice can impart a kind of memorability to the statement I can't. It's the "actuality" of found sound too, that gives it a whole range of impact involving out-of-context "familiarity," (the powers of surrealism) and the (possibly illicit) subversion of the original intent of the quote - changed meaning.

Are you familiar with the 8 Seasons of Chromalox?

No, I'm not. What am I missing?

What has been the strangest fan interaction you have ever dealt with?

I can't think of anything really strange. I am regularly gratified mostly, as we seem to get a surprising amount of feedback from people telling us what a big effect we have had on their lives and thinking - the kind of intellectual adjustment stuff one doesn't ordinarily attribute to mere music, at least not since the 60s...

Who are some of your favorite authors?

It turns out I don't read a whole lot, but when I do it's not really based on favorite authors but the nature of specific books. I recently finished "Shadows Of forgotten Ancestors" by Carl sagen and his wife - great background reading for our current live show, "It's All In Your Head FM." Before that I was reading Lawrence Lessig's "The Future Of Ideas." I tend to prefer non-fiction, and not just in books. I find myself less and less interested in fictional works of any kind - TV, movies, or whatever. It all just seems so redundant and unrewarding these days. This seems to be an effect of my growing older as I used to be very interested in fiction when I was younger.
Have you noticed how utterly saturated most contemporary fiction is with supernaturalism? It seems to be the main motivational factor in almost everything fictional now. We are obsessed with it for some reason, when in fact it is all utterly useless and pointless "solutions" to problems.
I realize Hollywood is just thrilled by stretching its newfound CGI abilities to amaze us, but we sure eat it up and want more as well. It seems to lead nowhere to me....

What is your favorite style of architecture?

I like Gary's monuments to unexpected whackyness, but in a smirking sort of way. Frank L. Wright is my favorite for serious elegance. But I don't really follow architecture enough to know everything that's going on or what I think...

Your work with Negativland was, arguably, at the very beginning of the sound collage style of recording [for want of a better name - how do you describe Negativland's music?], looking back, is there anything that you miss about the older style of recording rather than the new digital methods? "Digital is annoying."

I describe Negativland's work in general as "modern noise." This tends to cover it for me, though other band members don't like this term that much.
"Digital is annoying" refers more to the whole array of digital equipment and appliances around us which seem to actually produce a lot of frustration in their operation, reliability, and compatibility with whatever you already have, not to mention constantly learning how to use them as newer is constantly replacing the new. I don't remember anything like this level of "not working" in the analog world of the past. I would never forsake ProTools for audio editing, it is amazing. However, I still use analog cassette technology as well for on the run dubbing and capturing on a dime. There is still nothing quicker, easier, or more reliable in the digital world. I also use a cassette walkman as a performance instrument live too.

I've often imagined Negativland having a massive audio and video library at their disposal - are you guys hooked up to some sort of large underground network of 'forbidden audio'?

No, I just have been collecting audio since the 80s (some being sent to us unsolicited too) and now have a huge archive of such stuff. The radio show which uses up so much stuff on a weekly basis has encouraged this collecting.

What kind of music to you listen to on a day-to-day basis?

Hardly any, in terms of recorded music. I find myself listening to dialog sources in all media much more, as I require so much of that in our work and for the radio show. I do buy a lot of music, but hardly listen to it after I hear it once, and think of my music collection also as show fodder more than entertainment.

Do you ever go to the mall? I have always loved everything that I am, as an artistic person I suppose, supposed to hate. Bruce Willis movies, television, the suburbs, the mall, etc. I have always enjoyed being in those big enclosed spaces and the ambient sound. I think it was more meaningful for me in the seventies and I am unsure if that is because that was when I was growing up or if it was just better back then.

No, I never go to malls, never have.

What would you consider the pinnacle of modern recording? I read a book about elevator music and it made me reconsider what I thought about 'public exposure' of music - making the radio and cds seem somehow smaller in their influence on human kind.

I don't know. I'm totally against all "top 10" concepts in art as it is actually the incredible variety and diversity of it ALL that makes good cultural sense to me. Reducing it all to favoritism is just encouraging inevitable boredom. Art is rapidly spreading out to include all kinds of "everyman" efforts and attempts. Any individual work becomes less noticeable as the overall volume increases. Everything is becoming "niche" oriented and gathers smaller audiences as individual works in a vast sea of same. Artists' survival on their own work becomes more and more problematic. Negativland is broker than we've ever been...

I have always been completely blown away by TimeZones on Escape from Noise. I suppose this is a statement rather than a question.



Sunday, September 02, 2007

'Deadline' Bob MASTER of A n n A r b o r 1978

A new page has been released here...

The plot, the mystery... they have all thickened.

Father Robert Lisiewicz, 'Deadline' Bob has been transmigrated into the form of Copper Anemia...