Archive - 2007

Another Interesting Weekend

music around the bonfireWow. A lot of social time. The centerpiece of the weekend was this huge Capricorn party at my building. There were tons of people there, an it was one of those great parties where lots of different people from different social ciricles were there, mixing together. lots of friends i knew, and new cool people i met. I floated around splitting up my time between everyone like i always end up doing when i'm a host at a party, but it was great fun. reconnected with people i havent seen in a while, and deepened other connections. And no one was hurt or horribly burned by any of the 5 bonfires! heh.

The next day I woke amazingly not very hungover and had a great little bike ride with a friend over to Frank's, my favorite Tucson greasy spoon diner, for breakfast. Then we went to the Family Art Fest and wandered around and saw lots of cheesy art and cute kids and old people doing things like tap-dancing or singing.

petroglyphs in a cave!In the afternoon I went on a hike in the desert with some other friends and we found a secret cave with some petroglyphs in it. It was so cool, tho the walk was longer than i expected. oh well. Then there was the weekly sunday night community dinner that several of us started doing about a month ago (starting with one at my place!) There were about 30-40 people instead of 16, and many of them were strangers to most of us. So it felt not as good, like it was more of a party than a community dinner. it was less cozy and friendly. so i hope it quiets down a little now. but the food was awesome. greek theme. including homemade baklava, which was to die for.

Anyway, i started falling asleep shortly after dessert and decided to head home, then went to sleep at about 9:30. it was that kind of weekend.

Phonophilia Relaunch

I'm officially announcing the new, improved version of Phonophilia, the site I started 5 years ago dedicated to field recordings and sound. About a year or 2 before that I had purchased a minidisc recorder and some binaural microphones, mainly to record my live performances. But then I started getting interested in making field recordings. My love for this is explained on the site's about page.

Now what I've done over the last 3 weeks is revamped the site, making it driven by a content management system (Drupal) with modern bells and whistles like tags and RSS feeds and flash audio players an stuff. I like how it has turned out. I've slurped most of the audio content from the old site into the new system, but it's not all quite organized into pages and playlists and stuff, there's a link to the old site that i'm keeping around.

As I go forward, I'll be uploading and publishing lots of recordings I've made over the years that I never got around to putting on the site, because of the time factor involved. Now that I have the content management system, it wil be alot easier to put up these files with metadata and stuff. I'll also be posting new recordings I make.

There's a main iTunes-friendly rss feed, or podcast, that will have regular content on it - not neccesarily all content, but representative samplings. There's also an overall RSS feed that has absolutely everything that gets posted.

I'll periodically post here with links to stuff too. Like this recording of Calexico's song "Guero Canelo" at their show last Saturday. It's particularly interesting because they sang some Manu Chao lyrics over the top of it.

On The Alienated Right To Do Good

I just read a really wonderful essay in the January issue of Harper's, called "Army of Altruists," by David Graeber. It deftly links a tapestry of related topics: why Republicans won in '04, why they represent the working class, why working class people join the Army and why they hate intellectuals and even why some people have children. His thesis is basically that "Americans" (estadounidenses) are really all about wanting to be altruists, rather than all about ego and self-interest like the common wisdom and most economists say.

I was particularly struck, in a personal way, by this passage:

How many youthful idealists throughout history have managed to finally come to terms with a world based on selfishness and greed the moment they start a family? If one were to assume altruism were the primary human motivation, this would make perfect sense: The only way they can convince themselves to abandon their desire to do right by the world as a whole is to substitute an even more powerful desire to do right by their children.

This is an extremely important and resonant idea to me, especially since I have never wanted and have resolved to never have children.

Graeber goes on to explain in detail how ego and self-interest come out of markets, which historically have always spawned organized religions that extol the opposite: selflessness, charity, and a belief that material things aren't important. This explains, he says, how the U.S. can be the most materialistic and market-driven country in the world but also one of the most religious. But in our society, the poor are now precluded from the sort of priveleged life that enables people to have altruistic careers like human rights lawyers or professional activists. And so they join the Army, which takes care of them and gives them something noble to believe in that they're doing, and makes their life an adventure (which is what i always say i'm after, too).

This is important stuff. I wish it were online. Find this issue and read this.

What A Weekend!

So, I had a really great and exciting and interesting weekend. Well, I guess the last item I'm going to mention is not technically great, but it makes for good conversation, at least.

mount lemmon hike group shot 1Saturday I went hiking with some friends. We went to Mount Lemmon, in search of snow, and boy did we find some! We trekked up and down ridges and valleys in 6 inches of the cold white stuff, at first thrilled at the novelty of this in southern Arizona, and then some of the party started getting cold feet, literally, since they didn't bring the right footwear. I had my gortex hiking boots so i was fine. We must have hiked about 6 miles, and for about 4 hours. When we got off the trail the whole mountain was crawling with families and tourists looking for snow too. we were glad we had gotten there early. Afterward we descended back into town and bought dry socks and vietnamese food for lunch. There's nothing better than working up a big appetite hiking and then eating a whole bunch.

calexico/mariachi concert
That night I went to Calexico again, at the Rialto once again, this time playing with 2 Mariachi bands (one from a local high school) and a bunch of other guest musicians. They were SO GREAT. It made me smile a lot. I have a newfound respect and love of mariachi music now, and it was cool, as the friend I went with said afterward, how Calexico basically tricked a bunch of hipsters [and, I might add, jaded ex-hipsters like myself] to watch mariachi music. right on, that's fine with me. Anyway, these groups were literally huge and at the end both mariachi bands and all the other musicans all were on stage at once doing the last few songs. There must have been about 40 people up there.... A cool thing is that I recorded the whole show with the r9. i'll have some excerpts up here soon.

Simultaneous with that was Jessica's going away party that night, which I couldn't bear to attend, so I was glad there was such a fun other activity to go to instead, and many friends who also were there with me. But the next day, sunday, we saw each other briefly, probably for the last time ever in our lives (part of me hopes so), or at least for a long time, but it was a good, positive closure with apologies and kind words exchanged. what a crazy 8 months it has been. But I'm doing better every single day, I am not kidding you.

head wound
That night was another awesome community dinner; i helped Maryada and Walt cook stuffed peppers and it was a lot of fun. then I went over to the Pan Left studio to do some digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital dubbing, and in the process I somehow hit my head on the wall and started bleeding and it hurt a lot and was scary. The gash on my head still looks really bad, worse than it feels or is. I thought about maybe that I would pass out and die there and the other panlefties would find my body there monday night when they came to the next meeting. But no, I'm fine. I think I'm going to tell people i got in a fight and someone broke a beer bottle on my head. pssst, don't tell anyone the truth....

Now it's definitely a monday and I have that frantic agitated monday mood, to-do lists exploding on me like IEDs on a Baghdad roadside. sigh....

Test Run Recording with R9

Here's a test run of the Edirol R-9 from the day I got it. I was going to link to it before but something was weird with the site... anyway i just doodled around on guitar and sung a song by Cake that's been stuck in my head again a lot lately.... Sorry, indulge me.

This linkage also serves as a sneak preview of the new revamped, cms-driven version of Phonophilia, the site i set up like 6 years ago devoted to sound and field recordings.

I recorded a bunch of stuff over the last few days that i'll be posting soon. stay tuned.

A New Tool/Toy

edirol r-09Yesterday I received a present I ordered for myself on my birthday almost 2 weeks ago. It's a solid-state portable digital audio recorder, the Edirol R-09. I've been wanting something like this for a couple years now, something small i can take around and make high-quality recordings with - interviews, field recordings, music.

It's really a great device. Incredibly light, easy to use, very good sound quality, easy to get stuff off of it to the computer. I'm happy with it so far.

I say tool/toy in the title of this post because I feel a bit guilty about buying it. It wasnt cheap. But I hvaen't bought an electronic gizmo for awhile, and the deal is that I promise to myself i'm going to use it to make worthwhile stuff, media that matters, so to speak. So it will be a tool, whereas if i just used it for stupid crap or not at all, it would be a toy.

Border Photo Used by MIT

Nogales Border Wall - 25Cool, a graduate political science course at MIT is using a photo I took in Nogales of the border wall on their webpage about the class. The class is called Globalization, Migration, and International Relations.


As this goes to press (heh) I have 6 photos in my Flickr photostream that I put there directly from my mobile phone. Yes, I figured out how to send a photo in an email, to Flickr, and even include tags and title and description.

This is a really cool thing to be able to do, especially for indymedia-type purposes. I wonder if any techies have made a nice fuzzy indy version of this technology. I seem to dimly remember some mention of this kind of thing, maybe at the 2004 RNC or whatever, but I'm not really aware of it as a commonly used tool. Imagine witnessing some injustice on the street and immediately being able to put a photo of it up on the web without even going home to your computer. That would rock.

Ze Frank on Somalia

For the past week or so, since my brother told me about it, I've been starting to get into this super cool video blog called "The Show with Ze Frank." It's an amazingly entertaining daily videocast that consists of mostly just this guy, Ze, camera close-upped on his face, as he rants in this really witty but spastic, tweaker kind of way. like the the smartest funniest speedfreak you'll ever meet.
Friday's episode was a rare political one, mostly about what's been happening in Somalia. He has a great way of mixing the standard news take on something with his own little comedic asides.

I want to do a videoblog sort of like that. A continuation of my so-far still secret series "Meditations on Nature with Esteban Caliente" - it would be sort of mix of Ze Frank, Geraldo Rivera, Nick Broomfield, and.... myself, i guess. yeah.