June 26, 2004
Why Clear Channel gotta own all the radio?
Jadakiss' "Why?" just might the summer song (although Nina Sky appears to have pole position) and given that its the 04, no surprise its political. The surprise is that its Jada, always a second rank gansta in my book, cooked it. And make no mistake the gansta is there deliriously sliced in with the political, seamless. "Why they let the Terminator win the election?" No doubt, say it 'kiss.
Course Clear Channel holds half the hip hop stations cross the nation. And if you tune in there is a line "Why did *bleep* knock down the towers?"
And behind that bleep? "Why did Bush knock down the towers?"
Why is "Bush" a word you can't say on the radio?
June 25, 2004
Hosting a couple new blogs, go forth and enjoy friends.
And on the global scale is Hyperstition run by Reza Negarestani, the Iranian intellectual. Quite honestly I don't quite understand just what Hyperstition is or what they are talking about... but it features Mark K-Punk and a gaggle of other hyper intelligent posters.
June 20, 2004
The Champ is Here (Street Fire)
With a hat tip to Jon Caramanica we snag that fire for the streets. Jada as in Jadakiss. "he's been a threat from the hood to the internet". The Champ is Here. Green Lantern branded. Big Mike branded. "this right here is an official doctrine/ from a smart young real nigga with options" The options are the mix tape. Put the streets in a frenzy. Only the permanent button ups call it guerilla marketing. "ya know wha the fauck I'm talkin bout here guys?"
We bootleg the bootleg. Slsk represents true. Options. The "official" release is up there. We don't think twice, all we need is that mix tape. Never had love for the Jada before. Never had love for Yonkers, never felt substance past those beautiful DMX growls. Lox/D-Block always rolled like number 8 batters. Defense, a single here, a single there. No big hits. Major label maybe, but their game is still pick up. Street ballers. "Why is the industry designed to keep the artist in debt?".
When the legal single drops does it still ask: "why did Bush knock down the towers?" Jadakiss. "Currently a slave to Interscope". But does he stay that way? The mix tape economy is strong enough to make the hottest records. Is it strong enough to support the artists, or does record company capital reign supreme? Symbiotic, parasitic, or at war? There are two record industries now. One perpetuates legal crimes, the other criminally illegal. "Why sell in the stores what you can sell in the streets?"
As Far As the Eyes Can See, Alt2, Detail
wind is the enemy || June 20, 2004
June 17, 2004
The Corporation, Take 3 (of 3), Constructions:
The jewel of The Corporation is its conception of the corporation as being a psychopathic organization. I've previously mentioned its value (or invalue) as a propaganda tool. But this also stands as a key point from which to begin constructing solutions.
I'm not sure to what extent the filmmakers view the psychopath diagnosis as metaphor versus being the actual truth, but I'm fully in the metaphor camp. As a metaphor the psychopath construct's utility is basically constrained to its propaganda value. I don't think you can give a corporation the same therapy you would human psychopath. But right beneath the surface of the psychopath metaphor is an extremely useful analysis of the corporation.
Essentially the filmmakers look at the Corporation as an organizational form, one with a deep genetic flaw. Within the legal and cultural code of the contemporary joint stock corporation are serious flaws that influence the behavior of many, if not all corporations today. By locating and analyzing these flaws we unlock the potential to both alter the corporate legal code for the better, and to construct better organizations capable of replacing the corporate form.
The film underscores one particular flaw in the legal status of a corporation, corporate personhood, the fact that corporations have many of the rights of people under the law. Pretty much an absurdity, so much so that the law doesn't always actually follow the concept. Still a strong legal acknowledgement that corporations are not humans and thus subject to a completely different set of laws and rights could go a long way towards a better conceptualization of what roles these entities should play in society.
Ultimately though I suspect that corporate personhood is an effect of the corporate drive for power, not a cause. Is shifting the balance of power back towards another organization with repressive tendencies, the State, an answer to the problems posed by big business? In order for the answer to be "yes" the State must be ready to recode the corporate laws in a constructive manner. A dubious but not impossible prospect, and one that can be furthered greatly if the ideas on how to recode these entities are in existence. And this my friends is our job.
plus a note: this piece was actually intended to be much longer, and might be updated, or might birth another piece. I'm putting it up now mainly because I dislike having an essentially negative piece as the first one on my site, my personal take on the Corporation is more positive then critical and hopefully the site will reflect that now.
June 16, 2004
The Corporation, Take 2 (of 3), The Permanent Critique:
The contemporary left has seemingly unlimited capacity for the negative. Their ability to find faults with world is match only with their in ability to offer viable alternatives to the awful picture of the world they generate.
An hour into The Corporation I'm fully convinced of the evil of this organization form, and I want to change things. Another hour passes, and I'd would like to thinking about the viable alternatives, the course of action. Instead I'm approaching the point of nihilism, of surrender, situation normal - all fucked up.
Its is at this point where point where one thread in my mind leaves the movies flow. If the world is really as awful as this movie paints it, then perhaps I am better off not caring? Would you rather be a medieval serf, toiling in servitude, or instead the king, living in luxury off the exploitation of the same serfs? Robber baron or the labor leader shot dead by Pinkerton guards? If the world is so bleak in helpless, perhaps you best of accepting that and living in ignorant pleasure.
Happily that is not my world view. I do not see world as half empty and out of resources for a refill. I don't see critique as a bludgeon or sword, but instead think it should be wielded more like a scalpel. With extreme precision and only when deemed necessary.
The king of the American left's materialist ubercritics is linguist Noam Chomsky. Now Chomsky occasionally is spot on. But I've never yet seen Chomsky acknowledge that life has room for pleasure. Chomsky seems to believe the overriding goal of most people's lives should be worrying about the world's atrocities. And from a propaganda standpoint that's a dud. Doesn't matter if he's right or wrong, few but the pessimists and sadists are going to subscribe to that world view. Critique as a bludgeon. Can someone please surgically remove this man from my mindscape?
It's not that The Corporation is 100% negative, there are a couple mild positives in the mix. Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface an industrial carpet company, pops in repeatedly through the film as a something of a hero. His Paul Hawkin inspired transformation of his company into a vision of sustainable development comes off quite well. Of course there is a certain violence between the possibilities he preaches and the filmmaker's "corporation as a psychopath" thesis, that unfortunately never gets addressed. Hmmmm.
The other hero is Oscar Olivera the Bolivian anti water privatization activist. And while I don't know his story other then through the film, he serves as a guide to what seems to be an old school marxist revolt against government privitization. Inspiring, yet hazily told, with no indication on how to reproduce or maintain such an action. More please!
Ultimately looking back on film (and bare in mind I have only had the opportunity to view it once, I will be rewatching once it is fully in the theaters), there is a clear junction of potentiality where the film could have run in any number of directions. The point is maybe an hours in, when the corporation is diagnosed as a psychopath. This could have easily been the climax of the film, a critical point, made sharply and strongly. Or it could have been the point of inflection, the diagnosis is in, time to develop a cure. Instead the filmmakers opt for more brutalist approach, they have diagnosed the corporation's illness and then proceed to kick the shit out it. And I'll admit I took some pleasure watching the god of neoclassical economics, Milton Friedman, hang himself with his own rope, for the most part the film criticizes endlessly into a cycle of despair. A cycle that seems perhaps perversely enjoyable to a certain breed of leftist. Count me out, I exit at the point of inflection. Critique ultimately breeds more critique and so its time to jump back and move on.
June 15, 2004
The Corporation, Take 1 (of 3), Propaganda:
The Corporation - A film by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott, and Joel Bakan is some damn good leftist propaganda. Be even better where it 40 minutes shorter (cut Noam no pleasure Chomsky please...) but well worth watching. The corporation as a psychopath is brilliant meme to propagate, let it spread. Propaganda is a good thing, Emma Goldman proudly produced it, todays left could gain a lot taking that perspective. Hopefully a couple kids with some free time and a copy of Final Cut Pro will do just that and make a good piece of propaganda even better.
June 10, 2004
click to see the full image
June 09, 2004
Come & Together
AT&T has a huge new campaign to save it fading brand and Slate's Seth Stevenson rips right into it. I don't particularly agree with Stevenson's critique, but that's not what interests me about this ad. I'm not concerned with critique though, what interests me in this campaign is the use of Primal Scream/Andy Weatherall's "Come Together".
"Come Together" might just be the penultimate Ecstasy song. True enough entire genre's of music developed to almost solely out of their power to mechanically enhance the Ecstasy experience. But "Come Together" predates most of rave music's 90's run, and celebrates not the rush of the drug, but the overwhelm of the drug. An ecstasy song born before the subtle darksides of the chemical crept into realization. Its not just an ecstasy song, its a "just discovered ecstasy and it will change the world" song. Pure, joyous and naive. A rock song with gospel vocals, constructed almost entirely in the studio by the producer not the band.
And now its an AT&T commercial.
But that's not really surprising. The surprise is that its 2004, a time of terror, the reign of George Dubya Bush. And here is a giant corporation pumping interracial image (no surprise), to a song with lyrics that basically say "lets all orgasm together". That is a surprise. A small corporate flower in the immanent wastelands of Bush's military industrial complex.
Is it a flashback or is it a looping? Early 90's revival or an aging of a culture? One suspects perhaps more then anything AT&T wants to turn back the clock a decade to a point were they still were relevant as a dominating business power. And like many desperate forces they seem to be lashing out against the world rather then healing within. But in this context, this day and age, lashing out against world means lashing out against the Bushco ideology, pushing borderline subversion onto the television screen. Come together indeed, bring back the ecstasy, this Bush shit has got to go.
June 01, 2004
For a second I was about to get mad. I could actually feel the emotion begin to take off inside. Some fool had just stickered my bike! Grr.... Hold up wait. Something in my emotional process got cut off. I read the sticker. "TrackstarNYC". An all track bike store. News. Information. Delivered straight to my bicycle. Even more efficient then the internet!
The sticker peeled right off, and I was happy, I learned an interesting piece of information. Valuable even. I ride a fixed gear bicycle. A converted road bike, not a track bike, but damn, damn close.
Most bike stores in America don't stock a single fixed gear. Talk to the staff and they'll think you're crazy to ride one. One speed, no coasting, sometimes no breaks. Until a couple years back, only messengers and bike racers even knew these bikes still existed. Back in time, they were the only types of bike around.
A store devoted to fixed gear bikes is a cultural watershed. A phase change for a culture. Anyone watching the bikes roll by will have seen the fixed gears multiply on the urban streets. It's beyond the messengers now, its a microculture, a mutant breed of punk rock, graffiti art and bicycle mechanics. Cyberpunk bohemians in a deeply urban sense.
Does the store last? Does the culture evolve? I'll bet yes on both for the sort term. The long? No money down, but its not a bad bet. Watch the streets, this will be interesting.