Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kitty Howard Johnson, R.I.P.

Last week's episode of The Closer starring Kyra Sedgwick (playing Brenda Johnson) had a sympathetic and well done storyline about her cat, Kitty. Over the last half a dozen shows the cat was not doing well, sick vomiting going to vet. The characters struggled with letting her go, but eventually arranged for euthanasia with their vet. The episode was done so well and it was very sweet. This week some how the amazing writers then found a way to incorporate humour and Brenda's eccentricities into the plot with her poor cat's ashes!

What a great tv show and fantastic character played by Sedgewick!

Goodbye National Accordion Awareness Month Of Posts

Thats all folks!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pinata Protest

Listen to streaming Pinata Protest at their MySpace page...

An interview with the band...and Pinata Protest defies Punk Rock Norm" here

The boys of Protest grew up hating the Tejano music forced upon them and decided it was time to change the sound of San Antonio into something harder and faster.

"What we wanted with this band was to mesh together music we hate with music we love," Salas said.

The boys wanted to show that they were from San Antonio and that this is the music of Texas, Garcia said.

Related Links:

-Punk Rock Workshops
-William Schimmel, showcase in NYTs "Accordionist on a Mission in the Age of Guitars".
-Architect of the Resurgence of the Accordion Bill Schimmel on Wikipedia
-Bella's Bartok page...
-The Accordion Pimp

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy Pride!!!

We're going to the parade and then a Pride pool party...Happy Pride and tolerance everyone!!!!

Pictures from Gay Pride, Toronto, 2006

Baby Doll Polka Club, Chicago

Inducted into the International Polka Association...Pioneer Category - Inducted 1998

Few can equal the contributions made by Eddie Korosa in popularizing polka music. Eddie has left his mark across the entertainment spectrum, inspiring new generations of polka lovers along the way.

Eddie Korosa was born in the Southwest side of Chicago in 1918; a first generation American of Polish and Slovenian heritage, and 1 of 7 children. He attended St. Blaze’s grade school in Summit, and Argo High School. His father, Joseph, an accordion player, purchased Eddie’s first button-box accordion and taught him to play at the tender age of 8. With his first song, Over the Waves, Eddie’s musical destiny was in sight.

Before long, young Eddie Korosa embarked on the professional path – playing neighborhood parties by the time he was 10 and engagements in local taverns during his teens, including the tavern owned by his parents at 18th and Throop. His band was called “The Merry Makers”.
Shortly after expanding The Merry Makers in 1940, Eddie decided to join the war effort and served in the Army’s 180th Infantry Division. Although the war interrupted Eddie’s budding career, his music never stopped. With his accordion as his constant companion, Eddie was frequently called upon to give impromptu performances.

Returning home, Eddie resumed playing at clubs like the Topaz and Club Irene in Chicago. He wrote and recorded “The Baby Doll Polka” in 1951 – a perennial favorite to this day. Due to his song’s widespread popularity, Eddie and his band were soon in demand for appearances on polka radio shows. And in 1952, Eddie was honored with the title “Prince of Polkas” by radio station WTAQ. In 1971, he was the recipient of the Mr. Personality Award.

In 1954, Eddie built the Baby Doll Polka Club at 73rd and Western in Chicago where he and his Merry Makers, as the house band, entertained polka enthusiasts for decades. The Baby Doll Polka Club became famous for Eddie’s ability to dance on the bar during his performance (without spilling too many drinks) and as the broadcast home of his long running polka radio show. The club’s celebrity allowed Eddie the privilege to launch the careers of many other bands and musicians.
Eddie broadened his horizons in the fruitful years that followed. From 1954-1960, Eddie cut 5 albums, including the work on Ron Terry’s Polka Party album and 2 albums recorded with his sons. He wrote and recorded another hit “All I Need Is You” in 1964. For 30 years, Eddie entertained vast audiences with his own Eddie Korosa Polka Party television program on Channel 2 in Chicago, his regular appearances on the Ron Terry Polka Party on Channel 9 (WGN-Chicago) and his polka radio show from the Baby Doll.

Great article from The Washington Post called "Someone Else's Chicago"

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Legal Drug Pushers

Here is a very good interview with Deepak "we are all love and particles" Chopra.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Acting With An Accordion

Rachel Weisz found learning the accordion "silly." The actress' character in "The Brothers Bloom" plays several musical instruments, and although she had to take hours of lessons before shooting started, she had the most difficulty with the bellowing squeezebox.

She explained: "We were in Serbia when we were doing the scenes and I learned the accordion with a professor who spoke no English and I spoke no Serbian. I just wish someone had made a documentary of me trying to learn the accordion because it was so silly."

"Then I had to learn the banjo, guitar and fiddle. I was doing my homework in my room for hours. Learning the chords. I had to look as if I knew how to play these instruments."

As well as becoming an amateur musician, Rachel also had to undertake magic lessons, which was the toughest part of her preparation.

James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince On Stage Together...

Below is just a cool compilation video of the three of them dancing...

Martin Scorcese's 18 Minute Film

Sky Sunlight Saxon, R.I.P.

What day did Mother Theresa die? The same day as Princess Diana.

While Fawcett and Jackson had worldwide mass fans..a less known but fascinating musician died as well yesterday. Sky Sunlight Saxon was an American rock and roll musician who was best known as the leader and singer of the 1960s Los Angeles garage rock band The Seeds.

here and Wiki

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

It's all about the dancing.

I'm a wreck and can't believe the news. I'm inconsolable and can hardly see the keyboard right now. Right as Jackson was about to start three years of touring, for a big comeback. I'ma wreck but I am so glad for all my happy memories of being out all night at discoteques dancing to Michael Jackson. The dance floor would always fill up.

I saw Michael Jackson perform in 1984 and it was really one of the best concerts I've ever seen...maybe only rivaled by Prince, Muddy Waters, The Cramps, Alien Sex Fiend, Rosemary Clooney, Madonna, The Clash, Springsteen??? I don't know he was WAY UP THERE for live performance.He is in my top ten best concerts list for sure. I'm so glad I saw him.

"Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" was off his remarkable mindblowing album Off The Wall.

And here is the video that set the standard for music videos when it was a new-born art form...

Accordion Girl

A really interesting person with an interesting blog. Wow! Accordion Girl

Cool Endings

I had seen X-Files: I Want To Believe when it came out...but didn't stay through all the credits. A friend recently asked if I enjoyed the end credits and I had no idea there was a little treat for fans at the very end. I've watched the whole movie again about three times and love it, but this little finale is so cute. You can't see it in this video because of the poor resolution, but they both wave up...

Who picks him up at the side of the road at the ending?

I always thought it Keanu Reeves character, in a taxi, but it looks like his dads red car...and look there is a deleted scene below...

The ending of Jaws is just terrific fun even so many years later. The movie and a couple of it's sequels have been playing on the movie networks this past week and I found myself watching both the first and second films. The jaunty banter and friendship at the end of the movie between the Richard Dreyfus and Roy Scheider characters reminds me of Casablaanca. We know it's just the start of a beautiful friendship for those two. Did you ever notice during the credits you can see Dreyfus and Scheider get to shore during the end credits?

One of the best and possibly one of the best classic sketches on SNL is the Landshark sketch. I couldn't find it on YouTube...but did find the animation version below where someone has taken a cartoon and applied the actual soundtrack to the scene....

The Season 1, Episode 4 skit, titled "Jaws II," featured the "Land Shark," a cunning urban predator (voiced by Chevy Chase). As narrated by John Belushi (playing the Matt Hooper character from Jaws)
... the Landshark is considered the cleverest of all sharks. Unlike the great white shark, which tends to inhabit the waters and harbors of recreational beach areas, the Land Shark may strike at any place, anytime. It is capable of disguising its voice, and generally preys on young, single women.
The skit showed the Land Shark attacking several people by knocking on their doors and pretending to be repairmen, door-to-door salesmen, and the like. Once the victim opened their door, the Land Shark would swoop in for the kill. The skit is typified by the following exchange:
[Scene: A New York apartment. Someone knocks on the door.]
Woman: [not opening the door] Yes?
Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Arlsburgerhhh?
Woman: What?
Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Johannesburrrr?
Woman: Who is it?
Voice: [pause] Flowers.
Woman: Flowers for whom?
Voice: [long pause] Plumber, ma'am.
Woman: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever shark, aren't you?
Voice: [pause] Candygram.
Woman: Candygram, my foot. You get out of here before I call the police. You're the shark, and you know it.
Voice: Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.
Woman: A dolphin? Well...okay. [opens door]
[Huge latex and foam-rubber shark head lunges through open door, chomps down on woman's head, and drags her out of the apartment, all while the Jaws attack music is playing.]
The "Land Shark attack" scenes are intermixed with other scenes directly spoofing Jaws, featuring Dan Aykroyd as Chief Brody and John Belushi playing Matt Hooper.

The ending of Quadraphenia has often been a mystery. Some audiences think he killed himself. Some say just the bike went over the cliff.

Have you got a movie ending that stuck with you or was weird?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tom Torriglia...Founder of National Accordion Awareness Month!

Let's Polka asked: How did you make the case to get the piano accordion named the official instrument of San Francisco?

Tom: In 1989, I met San Francisco Supervisor Willie Kennedy at an event, told her of my intent to make the accordion the official instrument and asked her how to go about that and would she help me.

She guided me through the process. The first step was to write a support paper talking about the history of the accordion in San Francisco and how the piano accordion got its start here and why it should be the city’s official instrument. After reading the piece I wrote, she felt my request had merit and she then introduced a measure to the full Board of Supervisors asking that the accordion be named the city’s official instrument. The supervisors then held a public hearing on the issue. A lot of people showed up to City Hall to speak for and against.

The Board of Supervisors passed the measure and the measure then went to the mayor’s office for his signature. Realizing what a hot-button issue this was, the mayor, Art Agnos, decided not to act and the measure became officially approved by default.

Bella Ciao!

Bella Ciao is a six-piece band that plays and sings everyone's Italiano favorites from the late '50s as well as today's hottest Italian-American hits in a fun-filled show that has everyone livin' la dolce vita.

Legends of the Italian Lounge is the very cool initial CD by Bella Ciao. It's a combination of pop, swing, rock and more and evokes the fun spirit of the likes of Dean Martin, Louis Prima, Rosemary Clooney, Carosone and more.

For information about the band, including videos, please visit www.ladyofspain.com or call Tom Torriglia at 415 440 0800.

Bella Ciao is the famous rallying cry of all the Partigiani. This song will get you going in the morning like no other. From CD Baby

A great article with Tom in the SF Chronicle

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bois Sec

Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin was born November 16, 1915, in l'Anse de 'Prien Noir (Black Cyprian's Cove) near Bayou Duralde, Louisiana. Duralde is an unincorporated village between the towns of Mamou and Basile on the southwestern prairies of Louisiana. Within Duralde are a number of anses (coves) or small settlements. Family history tells that Ardoin's great-great-grandfather Cyprian settled in the area in the 1830s. The family has lived in the village since then.

For many years, the Ardoin family sharecropped fields, raising rice or soybeans or using the land for grazing, depending on the year and the season. Ardoin's nickname, "Bois Sec" (dry wood), was given to him as a child because, he said, he was always the first to the barn when a rainstorm interrupted work in the fields.

When Ardoin was about two years old, his father died. His mother took a job doing laundry for a white family to earn money. Ardoin's older brother hired himself out to help support the family. When Bois Sec was about seven, he started to take his older brother's accordion and hide in the barn to practice. The young Ardoin didn't realize that his sound carried, and one day he got caught. "I didn't know that when you're high up, you can see far, but the sound carries far as well," he recalled. But his brother was impressed and, instead of getting angry, gave him permission to keep using his accordion.

As a young man, Bois Sec often joined his first cousin, Amédé Ardoin, at dance parties, where he played accordion. Amédé was well known in the area and was the first French-speaking black musician to make 78 rpm recordings in the 1930s. Bois Sec played the triangle for Amédé and watched him play the accordion. Eventually, Bois Sec was able to buy his own instrument. "I bought one from one of my cousins," he said. "I paid three dollars for it. Boy, I was really proud of my accordion. I had gotten a job paying 50 cents. When I finished my work, I had three dollars. I had a little cinnamon-colored swayback horse. I rode it about 10 miles down the road to buy that first accordion."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pauline Oliveros-One Righteous Babe!

In 1989, Tom Torriglia – formerly of the band Those Darn Accordions and now a member of Bella Ciao – established the month of June as Accordion Awareness Month.

I thought it would be fun to try to make a post about accordions every day this month. So somewhere searching for cool music I stumbled on Pauline Oliveros and it's been really cool to find out about her music and life's work.

Oliveros is an accordionist and composer who was a central figure in the development of post-war electronic art music.
Oliveros was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, and served as its director. She has taught music at Mills College, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Oliveros has written books, formulated new music theories and investigated new ways to focus attention on music including her concepts of "Deep Listening" and "sonic awareness".

"Through Pauline Oliveros and Deep Listening I finally know what harmony is....
It's about the pleasure of making music." John Cage 1989

Pauline Oliveros, composer, performer and humanitarian is an important pioneer in American Music. Acclaimed internationally, for four decades she has explored sound -- forging new ground for herself and others.
Through improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation she has created a body of work with such breadth of vision that it profoundly effects those who experience it and eludes many who try to write about it. "On some level, music, sound consciousness and religion are all one, and she would seem to be very close to that level." John Rockwell Oliveros has been honored with awards, grants and concerts internationally. Whether performing at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in an underground cavern, or in the studios of West German Radio, Oliveros' commitment to interaction with the moment is unchanged. She can make the sound of a sweeping siren into another instrument of the ensemble.
Through Deep Listening Pieces and earlier Sonic Meditations Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating all environmental sounds into musical performance. To make a pleasurable experience of this requires focused concentration, skilled musicianship and strong improvisational skills, which are the hallmarks of Oliveros' form. In performance Oliveros uses an accordion which has been re-tuned in two different systems of her just intonation in addition to electronics to alter the sound of the accordion and to explore the individual characteristics of each room. (Tuning Chart)
Pauline Oliveros has built a loyal following through her concerts, recordings, publications and musical compositions that she has written for soloists and ensembles in music, dance, theater and interarts companies. She has also provided leadership within the music community from her early years as the first Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (formerly the Tape Music Center at Mills), director of the Center for Music Experiment during her 14 year tenure as professor of music at the University of California at San Diego to acting in an advisory capacity for organizations such as The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council for the Arts, and many private foundations. She now serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College. Oliveros has been vocal about representing the needs of individual artists, about the need for diversity and experimentation in the arts, and promoting cooperation and good will among people.

Columbia University School of the Arts has announced its plans to honor composer Pauline Oliveros with the William Schuman Award, a major recognition given periodically over the past twenty-eight years. According to the school's dean, Carol Becker, Oliveros is "a truly adventurous artist, who has contributed so much to redefining the boundaries and potentialities of contemporary music."

Named for its first recipient William Schuman, the award, in the form of a direct, unrestricted grant of $50,000, is one of the largest to an American composer. In the language of the gift establishing the prize, the purpose of the William Schuman Award is "to recognize the lifetime achievement of an American composer whose works have been widely performed and generally acknowledged to be of lasting significance." Previous winners have included Schuman, David Diamond, Gunther Schuller, Milton Babbitt, Hugo Weisgall, Steve Reich, and, most recently in 2006, John Zorn.

Columbia University's Miller Theatre will host an awards ceremony and concert in honor of Oliveros on Saturday, March 27, 2010. (info here from Wikipedia and Oliveros web site)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Notes on YouTube: "Undecided" is a popular song written by Sid Robins and Charlie Shavers and published in 1938. The first recording was made by John Kirby and The Onyx Club Boys on October 28, 1938, and released by Decca Records as catalog number 2216. i taped Lloyd Fisher live in 1978 in Enumclaw Washington at the VFW hall. Recorded live on an Akai Reel to Reel sorry no video I just enjoy the music. LlOYD FISHER-BANJO LlOYD JOHNSON -CHORDAVOX, HAYDEN MORGAN-CLARINET,

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What I've Been Up To This Week

Last week I had to leave the house really early and Stagg was still sleeping. I often go out the back alley and often...there is some really good garbage out there. UYep, I'm a dumpster diver. It was about 7:30 and there was anawesome piece of kitchen furniture. No way I could carry it up stairs by myself...and plus, even if I could I was in a hurry I had an appointment. Rats. Good bye cool furniture. When I got home about 8 hours later I get upstairs and there in the studio is the top piece of the furniture set...and Stagg has painted it!!! (see two photos belw) I was so surprised and told him how much I liked it. Great minds think alike because he saw it too a couple hours later when he woke up! I told him I was bummed we couldn't get the bottom piece....and it was amazing he was able to get this. There are tons of trucks that salvage grabage in Chicago. You see them all the time collecting metal and old cast-off furniture. We went out and looked in the alley and the major bottom section of the furniture was still there! Yippee kay yah! Sp we hauled it upstairs. Stagg painted the top half...and I am working on the bottom section then we are putting them together. That's Lil Wayne on the MTV channel on tv if you're wondering...

Above...you can see I'm painting over this aspect...because I made it too big..it is a rip off of Da Vinci's Lady With An Ermine and I'm making the head a potrait of Stagg...you know that song by "Grits Ain't Groceries...and Mona Lisa was a man"...written by Little Milton in 1969. I'll post a few more pics of the progression tomorrow as I work on his portrait tonight...

Accordion Playing Merman?

For real?

Those who’ve seen his arms rising out of the tidal backwaters of Maine and New Hampshire call him the “creek monster” or “creek man.” To radio fans across the country, he’s host of WUNH’s raucous polka show. Surf music fans know him as the Grammy-nominated frontman of The Serfs. And as a child, he played accordian on vaudeville.

Gary Sredzienski is one those legendary personalities we don’t run across too often. His varied character comes alive in Creek Man: The Unbelievable True Story of the Accordion-Playing Merman. It’s a one-man dinner theater production

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why We Should Read Ed Paschke's Accordion Paintings And How

A shruti box is a small wooden instrument that traditionally works on a system of bellows. It is similar to a harmonium and is used to provide a drone in a practice session or concert of Indian classical music. It is used as an accompaniment to other instruments and notably the flute. Use of the shruti box has widened with the cross-cultural influences of world music and new age music to provide a drone for many other instruments as well as vocalists.
Adjustable buttons allow tuning.

Kugler, 1971.

Over the years here at this blog a number of visitors have commented that they don't understand art. They don't know how to relate to it and have asked me "What is it's purpose". I've often enjoyed trying to struggle with these excellent questions in the comments when I post something about art. I think one of the best things anyone can learn about art is how to figure out WHAT questions to actually ask. Instead of asking what art means...what is it's value...I suggest a leap of faith. Let's pretend that since everywhere in the world in every culture...people make images and they narrate stories with words and/or images or music with much enthusiasm: lets assume it is valuable. Just gor giggles and shits let's aassume art is meaningful to our everyday lives.

Art is a format of narrative. It is a non-verbal language. So let's just pretend art does have a purpose and meaning. I like to think of humans as "meaning machines". Humans add layers of meanings to life.

Keyed Fantasies: Music, the Accordion and The American Dream in Strozek and Schultze Gets The Bluesby Emily Hauze..."The strange body of the accordion, breathing, undulating, strapped to the chest of its player, is among the many striking elements linking Werner Herzog's Stroszek (1976) and Michael Schorr's Schultze gets the blues (2003). This paper considers Schultze to be a complex response to Herzog's film, using the accordion as a link between German and American culture as well as between contemporary German cinema and its towering predecessors in New German Cinema. Both Stroszek and Schultze are interested in some strain of the `American Dream': Stroszek hopes to find wealth and happiness, and Schultze seeks a certain ethnic spice found within the `melting pot' of American culture. In both cases, the complex machinery of the accordion is a metaphor for dreams that might be realised in America and for the mobility required to realise them. In tracing the link between these two films, my paper investigates ways in which music is bound to cultural landscapes, and to what extent a new cultural identity can be attained through one's relationship to musical sound. For Stroszek, and, more successfully, for Schultze, the accordion is a symbol of an intact and mobile body capable of crossing cultural boundaries."

You'll have to click on the photo to read the gist of this work by Marius Barbeau. Brabeau was a somewhat controversial anthropologist using oral and musical traditions to study human behaviour but his early championing of the theory of migration from Siberia across the Bering Strait has since been vindicated by science.

Pauline Oliveros explained why she has played the accordion all her life "Symbolically it is aligned with *the people* - working people. It is also a challenge to play an instrument that grew up after the period of classical music. The piano is centered in that period. The accordion has a life of it's own."

Ed Paschke was born in Chicago, where he spent most of his life. His childhood interest in animation and cartoons led him toward a career in art. As a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago he was influenced by many artists featured in the Museum's special exhibitions, in particular the work of Gauguin, Picasso and Seurat.
Although Paschke was inclined toward representational imagery, he learned to paint based on the principles of abstraction and expressionism. Paschke received his bachelor of fine arts degree in 1961, and later his master of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1970.
Between his graduate and undergraduate work Paschke traveled and worked a variety of jobs amassing the experiences that would shape his artistic style. During a brief period in New York, he was exposed to Pop Art philosophy and began to incorporate elements of this style borrowing images directly from the print media and other elements of popular culture.
Themes of violence, aggression, and physical incongruity prevail in his work of this period. Returning to Chicago in 1968 he exhibited with other artists whose work, like Paschke's, shared references to non-Western and surrealist art, appropriated images from popular culture and employed brilliant color throughout a busy and carefully worked surface. Known collectively as the Chicago Imagists, their work attracted attention both regionally and nationally.

Along with Jim Nutt, Peter Saul and to some extent Ed Ruscha, Mr. Paschke was an artist whose contribution to the art of his time was somewhat obscured by his distance from New York. As with Paul Klee's assimilation of Cubism, his version of Pop Art proved that an art movement's ideas need not weaken as they spread outward.Like Mr. Nutt, Mr. Paschke was associated with the Chicago Imagists, a group of artists whose intensely mannered figurative styles borrowed from popular culture, outsider art and Surrealism. But Mr. Paschke was alone among them in basing his images on photographs culled from television, newspaper and magazines.

One of the first artists to paint using an opaque projector, he was crucially influenced by the photo-based paintings of Andy Warhol, whom he considered the most important of all postwar artists. This admiration had an indelible effect on his best-known student, Jeff Koons.

His early paintings focused on movie stars, wrestlers and circus freaks of all kinds, their appearances exaggerated by illustrational precision, strange textures and inharmonious colors. He painted Marilyn Monroe as a green-faced accordion player and Claudette Colbert as a tattooed lady. As he developed, identifiable personalities gave way to blank faces and silhouettes. These were not so much images as afterimages that seemed to have burned through one scrimlike layer of color to reveal another. His surfaces were further defined by horizontal bands, staticky patterns and flitting lines of color that reflected an attention to electronic media. His brooding fluorescent tones, often painted over black grounds, kept pace with the palette of color video exploited by artists from Bruce Nauman to Matthew Barney.

Although an accordion is not a primitive instrument like the shruti box, it does allow for the kind of incanataroy drone music evocative of spiritual ragas and emulates the breathing of a human. How does this mechanical function affect how we see Ed Paschke's accordion paintings?

What is the significance of the shoes displayed with the accordion? These aren't rudimentary shoes. They seem to be very stylized of a particular time and place within pop culture. The shoes are classic men's wingtip dress shoes. Very popular in the 1940's and then again, in the 1970's. How do these shoes relate to the accordion? Perhaps they are the kind of shoes a person might wear to go dancing? What about the idea of a fashion trend resurfacing? The shoes also are with a buckle and slip on style. They likely have an elastic that allows some give for putting on and taking off. Why would these shoes be associated with an accordion?

If the accordion is a musical instrument of "the people" as Oliveros says, and we can see it's archaic cousins like the shruti box, the music of aboriginal societies how does this effect how we see Marilyn Monroe? Is Monroe like an instrument played droning through our popular culture? Is Marilyn an object of and for the people? Is Marilyn like the accordion...played by working clas folks, in circus or freak shows? Is Marilyn as accessible as folk music? What does the tattoo on Marilyn make us feel? And remember...this was painted years before investment bankers were getting tattoos as often as longshoremen, criminals or rock stars. In 1970 only "outsiders" had tattoos. Carnys, criminals and merchant marines. And a woman having a tattoo?

The accordion is a "breathing" machine with a voice: is Paschke suggesting painting a portrait or constructing images is much like putting song into language? Since Paschke was a Polish-American could the accordion represent his family's past from Europe? Could Marilyn playing an accordion represent her father's Norwegian European narrative? Is Hollywood, the accordion and Marilyn all used to represent the "American Dream" and therefore aligns Paschke's story arc in these paintings to Herzog's Strozek?

-New York Times
- Rockford Art Museum

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Le Vent Du Nord

Peek in a kitchen window on a Saturday night in some Quebec villages, and you’ll see French, Irish, and Native American roots intertwine. You’ll hear the sound of a land where instruments were once scarce, the mouth music and foot tapping that makes Quebecois music unique. You may glimpse a later arrival, too: the button accordion that an enterprising 19th-century potato company helped spread across rural Canada. And, of course, you’ll see locals singing their favorite songs, drinking, flirting, dancing, and doing what for centuries Quebecois have been famous for: having a contagiously good time.

Le Vent du Nord, a young quartet of singers and multi-instrumentalists, captures the energy and mirth of a Saturday night kitchen, infusing old Quebec with a breath of fresh, cosmopolitan air. Their latest album, Dans les airs, meshes old songs they learned from the forgotten songkeepers of French Canada—including a school janitor on Cape Breton—with their own reels and tunes inspired by family traditions and the sounds of Ireland, Scotland, and medieval France. It’s a Saturday night get-together with a gently modern twist. Rock Paper Scissors

I don't think you'll be able to sit still if you listen to their streaming website!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ed Paschke

Green Lady by Ed Paschke, 1970.

The Accordion Man 1968, by Ed Paschke.

Ed Paschke paintings in lounge with Daft Punk. (Paschke's paintings kind of were ahead of their time...because they now look like a lot of digitial art made in the last ten years on a computer)

Key Bulb by Paschke, 1970.

Accordion Shoes by Ed Paschke, 1971.

-Jeff Koons influenced by Ed Paschke when Koons lived in Chicago.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nuit Blanche

This is me and my daughter's friend, Amber, at Nuit Blanche in Toronto. (this photo is funny for me because my eyes are puffy: my daughter and I had gone to see the movie Into The Wild and seriously had been crying for like, three hours. We have a gag order not to ever discuss the movie again. It's right up there with crying gag orders Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, and Breaking The Waves. We will NOT talk about those movies ever...or we'll start crying all over again ha ha)

Nuit Blanche is an all night event where artists have set up exhibits inside and outside...in galleries and in alleys. It is in so many ways one of the best responses I've ever seen to art in my life. It is unbelieable how many people go out to see the exhibits and works. It's a terrific amount of fun and the artwork is really good. It's funny because I have a couple of friends who get really excited and go all night to see stuff and they are always gushing...Candy you have to go look at all the art.

I'm always, like, well you see, for one night out of the year...you understand how I feel every day! I go to look at art all the time, I am either making something, thinking about making something or filming something or thinking about filming something...or I am looking at something someone else made or filmed.

I am so glad that people are excitied about art and walk around the city to look at it and stay up all night!!! I hope that it awakens them to doing it more often and buying some art too. There is a lot of art available that is a good price and can be taken home!

In 2006, Nuit Blanche came to Toronto. (click on grey text to see this years schedule) Christophe Girard, Deputy Mayor of Paris, who dreamt up the idea of Nuit Blanche in 2002, travelled there to help launch the event, praising its citizens for their love of "the magic and the mysteries of the night". Attendance at this inaugural event was estimated by City Hall to have been 425,000 people; the following year almost doubled that, attracting 800,000 revelers.

Stagg and I hit the Chicago version in 2007.

We didn't plan on it per se...we had gone downtown (click on grey text to see previous post on Alexie) to hear author Sherman Alexie speak and then remembered about the all night event so we stayed downtown and went for drinks and walked around a bit. The reception in the States was quite different than in Canada...

From Wikipedia:

Not all reactions were favorable. Many internet bloggers spoke of the swarms of people overcrowding the event. Looptopia 2007 also fell on an extremely cold night for mid-May in Chicago.
Although it is legally closed every night, Millennium Park, a public outdoor park next to the loop, was by police control completely closed off at midnight.
Few restrooms were made available for the large number of people who attended the late night event. Those that were available were in centralized locations.
Sound system inadequate—many people could not hear the music performed on stage at the Daley Plaza.
Some museums and other spaces closed their doors at midnight or earlier contrary to the billing and spirit of the evening.

Accordion School

Great folk lore stuff here

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hoping For Audacity

On Friday...Bill Maher, above, gave a great set of "New Rules" and a critique of Obama regarding health care in the U.S.

Today ...Obama was in Chicago to the American Medical Association.Here are some highlights from his address:

"To say it as plainly as I can, health care reform is the single most important thing we can do for America’s long-term fiscal health. That is a fact. That’s a fact."

"If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

"As Newt Gingrich has rightly pointed out - and I don't quote Newt Gingrich that often," Obama ad-libs, drawing laughter and applause: "We do a better job tracking a FedEx package in this country than we do tracking a patient’s health records."

Preventive care -- Obama wants more fitness, nutrition, etc. Says it's time to fight the "epidemic of obesity, which puts far too many Americans, young and old, at risk of costly, chronic conditions."

"You did not enter this profession to be bean-counters and paper-pushers. You entered this profession to be healers – and that’s what our health care system should let you be."

"A recent study, for example, found that only half of all cardiac guidelines are based on scientific evidence. Half,"

"Replicating best practices. Incentivizing excellence. Closing cost disparities. Any legislation sent to my desk that does not achieve these goals does not earn the title of reform."

"Alongside these economic arguments, there is another, more powerful one. It is simply this: We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women, and children. We are not a nation that lets hardworking families go without the coverage they deserve; or turns its back on those in need. We are a nation that cares for its citizens. We are a people who look out for one another."


ABC News’ Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer to Moderate a Primetime Conversation with President Barack Obama about the Future of the Nation’s Healthcare System

Special Edition of “Primetime” to Air from the White House Wednesday, June 24th at 10pm ET

“Questions for the President: Prescription for America” will continue on “Nightline” at 11:35pm ET on Wed. June 24th.

“Good Morning America” and “World News” to Originate From the White House on Wednesday

“GMA” to Feature Exclusive Interview with President Obama

As the nation debates sweeping changes in healthcare, ABC News’ Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate a conversation with President Obama about this critical issue on the nation’s agenda. A special edition of Primetime “Questions for the President: Prescription for America” will air on Wednesday, June 24th from 10:00-11:00 PM ET on the ABC Television Network.

Gay Penguins Adopt Chick

Gay Marriage

Tricrotic In Chicago

tri·crotic (trī krät′ik)
PHYSIOL. designating or of a pulse having three separate rhythmic waves to each beat
Etymology: < Gr trikrotos, (rowed) with triple stroke < tri-, tri- + krotein, to beat (< IE *kret-, to strike > OE hrindan, to pus

Tricrotic means, literally, a heartbeat that has three parts. As a band,

Nomy Lamm, Marcus Rogers and Erin Daly illustrate this concept by bringing together three distinct, authentic, powerful self-taught, community-based musical voices. Based in Chicago , Tricrotic blends elements of hip hop, punk rock, soul, classic rock, tent-revival hymnal, and vaudeville stage. The effect is something never heard before, something to feel in every part of you, something to respond to: solid beats, driving accordion riffs, soaring violin, growling vocals with spellbinding harmonies, audience sing-alongs, hand-clapping and ecstatic dance moves invented by audience members on the spot.

Tricrotic are harbingers of a new old school; their songs have been known to affect weather patterns.

Here you can listen to several songs by Tricrotic at their site

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Be Bop Accordion

Some Sites...

-Karen Templer (Templar created and managed the redoubtable book site Readerville) has a blog called Collapse and Delight with all kinds of fantastic links and notes.

-Check out the beautiful photos at Lark About..I especially enjoyed these photos of "Dressing For The Garden"...they reminded me of my grandparents.

-The Open Road also has some lovely photos, especially of O.

-A literary weblog: The Elegant Variation

-American Fiction Notes

-Once Upon A Bookshelf...has a LOT of Book reviews

-The site "Imagining Toronto" ...Imagining Toronto is a pilgrimage into the imagined city. Beginning with the familiar terrain -- the ravines, downtown towers, neighbourhoods and inhabitants who give shape to Toronto -- it ventures deep into the imagined city, dowsing for meaning in literary representations of Toronto as its writers experience and narrate it. It explores how the city changes us even as we alter its contours. In doing so, the book crafts a literary genealogy of Toronto, tracing for the first time the long and interwoven heritage of writers engaging imaginatively with the city.

My fix with Toronto is often from these last two sites....and I love Spacing Toronto which is the blog of Toronto magazine Spacing: Understanding The Urban Landscape. Although it is often focused on Toronto's urban issues, it is a great matrix for urban studies in general. As many visitors know I have a fetish with agriculture and it's relationship to urban life and it's effect on how we move and how we think. This blog is JUICY reference material! The site also links to local newspapers with urbancentric issues like public transit.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Peep Culture

A new book on the idea that we've become some kind of over peeping tom culture is published by Hal Niedziecki...and he has a blog. I took a few minutes to read some of his entries and it looks like a pretty thoughtful joint. Looks like Oprah put this book on her top 25 summer reading list...

I tend to have a much more positive attitude towards people sharing their ideas, opinions and lives online...but it's nice to hear someone elses perspective. At first I was worried this book was going to be all doom and gloom,but maybe it's more of a work in progress...

"Real Simple collected some of the best books out there to help you find your great summer read. . . . If You're Having On-Line Withdrawal. . . . Take a peek at The Peep Diaries an erudite (but not too erudite) look at the culture that Facebook, Twitter, et al. have spawned." --Real Simple Magazine

"Hal Niedzviecki's new book coins the term 'peep culture' and harnesses a ton of research - as well as his impressive analytical skills - in a way that's sure to make the term stick. Peep culture refers to the phenomenon that currently finds us all yearning to watch and be watched. It's spawned everything from reality TV to Facebook to complex spy technologies used for entertainment and other, not so benign purposes. . . . Writing with astonishing clarity - and even beauty - Niedzviecki piles on the ironies. In peep culture, TV shows like 'Cops,' originally intended to curb crime, wind up promoting it. . . . Essential reading." --NOW Magazine

"Ubiquitous video technology and the Internet have ushered in a "peep culture" that makes us all either--or simultaneously--exhibitionists or voyeurs, according to this eye-opening study. In good participant-observer fashion, Niedzviecki (Hello, I'm Special) dives into our mania for observing and revealing pseudo-secret personal information: he starts a blog, applies to reality television shows, does video surveillance around his house and slips a GPS tracking device into his wife's car. He's content to merely interview, rather than join, the middle-aged couples who post their amateur porn online. He argues instead that peep culture reprises an ancient impulse to bond through the sharing of intimacies, but worries that our digital version of village gossip and primate grooming is a weak and fraudulent foundation for community (out of his 700-odd Facebook friends and blog readers, only one showed up for his offline party). Niedzviecki's smart mixture of reportage and reflection avoids alarmism and hype while capturing the strange power of our urge to see and be seen." --From Publishers Weekly

Downtown Train

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just Dance

This dance was pretty incredible. Really beautiful the other night on So You Think You Can Dance. I could have don'e without that song by Marx, but whatcha gonna do. Check out the lift at about 52-57 seconds into the video!!!

Hip Hop Accordion

Compelling Letterman...and Major Pop Culture Stuff!

We tuned in to see Kathy Griffin (LOVE HER!!!) on Letterman last night and Sonic Youth (LOVE THEM!!!) and were lucky to catch one of those evenings that show why Letterman has had the run he has had....he was absolutely fascinating in his rebuttals to Sarah Palin's blog taking umbrage with his jokes about her and her daughter Bristol. I found this segment absolutely fascinating tv. You go Dave!

And here is Kathy Griffin...I love how she cheered him up, and had him giggling...

Kathy Griffin's BRILLIANT series Life On The D-List began it's 5th season with a stunning combination of Kathy Griffin and Bette Midler. I almost couldn't believe we were going to be so lucky to see these two women do what they do so well and so funny. This season is so yummy, with Lily Tomlin T.I scheduled to be on it too. This is total crack/heroin for pop culture freaks like me. Oh my god...Kathy Griffin AND Bette Midler. And Bette is absolute genius at being a catty bitch. I've watched this episode a few times now and these women are really taking the piss out of tabloids, bitches, divas, celebrity...they are genius! They are High Priestesses of Trash, Trash-Talking and Throwin' Down Fun! Jesus, even Toni Basil is in the above clip! This is total old school bitch comedy...I only wish I had been at a gay bar watching this the other night: watching it with my peeps!

There is such a trend right now about taking offense, people having moral outrage at tabloid stories, celebrities pretending to be above it all, focus on celebritiy marriages, splits, rehabs, while humour and laughing at ourselves seems to have gone by the wayside.

It's as if people have such a strong need to be politically correct, they resent it when others aren't being "polite" or politically correct, or is it...that they are seeking out validation by takiing offense? By letting themselves be oversensitive and forgetting to laugh? Or...maybe the trend in getting all offended is because people are watchign celbrities get offended all the time. Celebrities are always saying how hard it is to have paparazzi, to have rumours in tabloids about them...celebrities are always offended by being joked about...so now people act like offended celebrities? It's trendy to be offended? I don't know but it seems to have escalated in the past ten years...Meanwhile...no one seems to take offense at really serious problems, like homelessness, poverty, gas fueled cars, water shortages, broken down funding and maintenance for schools...but oh shit, if you say something offensive...or joke about a touchy subject, or have a different lifestyle or opinion about something...look out. Someone is going to take offense and get in your grill.

People are addicted to being offended about petty superficial things...and it is so refreshing to see world-class-bitches in their prime of funniness offending each other, and offending "good taste" by riffing on "class".

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Squeeze A Boo

Happy birthday Unix---and the Internet!

In August 1969, Ken Thompson, a programmer at AT&T subsidiary Bell Laboratories, saw the month-long departure of his wife and young son as an opportunity to put his ideas for a new operating system into practice. He wrote the first version of Unix in assembly language for a wimpy Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) PDP-7 minicomputer, spending one week each on the operating system, a shell, an editor and an assembler.

Thompson and a colleague, Dennis Ritchie, had been feeling adrift since Bell Labs had withdrawn earlier in the year from a troubled project to develop a time-sharing system called Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service). They had no desire to stick with any of the batch operating systems that predominated at the time, nor did they want to reinvent Multics, which they saw as grotesque and unwieldy.
More of the really interesting story here

In the 1980's I had a friend who worked in a small legendary Canadian publishing house on the campus of U of T. I would go to visit him at work and he showed me all the really cool Macintosh Apple computers. They could share screens, and make amazing prints of art, archives texts. It was a wonderful place called Coach House Press and began in the 60's...Tucked away on Toronto’s historic bpNichol Lane, Coach House Books has been publishing and printing high-quality innovative fiction and poetry since 1965. Coach House is Canada’s most venerable literary press and has, during the past forty years, published books by Michael Ondaatje, George Bowering, bpNichol, Nicole Brossard, Christian Bök, Guy Maddin, Steve McCaffery, Gail Scott, Jonathan Goldstein, Anne Michaels, Michael Redhill and hundreds of others. A refuge for the refined, an asylum for the aesthete, a sanctuary for the scribe.

I also had (still do have and he still works there) a friend, who worked at a particle accelerator at Triumf in Vancouver...who was always turning m on to weird, alternative foods, science, medicine...and when I told him about hanging out at this publisher and all the awesome computers they had...he said...why don't you hang up the phone...and go write to me on the computer. I was like, "What?"

My friend Pete in Vancouver who could name every star in the night sky said, "Yeah, forget the long distance phone, hang up and write me on the computer, it's free.It's called electronic mail." It turned out that...of course everyone knows this now...that universities had Unix on their facilities. At that time, about 1988, the screen for inter-computer writing was plain black with white text. My friend Pete gave me his electronic mail address at Triumf. And my friend at Coach House helped me send him messages. Pete also used to spend a lot of time reading (lurking har) at Harvard Paleontology BBS (BBx is like the old fashined term for "web board" or forum). So my first web board experience was also as a lurker at the haarvard Paleontology forum. These Harvard folks could fight. The major discussion occurring when I first visited the forum was about swimming apes. It's called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. The "discussion" was a verbal banter part Shakespeare part street knife fight and a delightful precursor to reality tv spectacles. It was some of the best discussions online I've ever read...these paleontologists were eloquent and evil. Har!

Meanwhile, I tried to tell my friends that I was talking to my friend on a computer between Toronto and Vancouver. My friends thought I was nuts. I explained that he worked at a particle accelerator and his job was to build little boxes that "kick back" invisible particles through a long magnetized contraption. My friends still thought I was nuts. (well and I am duh)

I should add that my friend Pete was horrified I was writing him on an Apple computer, he said "No self-respecting scientist would be caught dead using a Mac." He was so funny.

Thompson and Ritchie were the consummate "hackers," when that word referred to someone who combined uncommon creativity, brute force intelligence and midnight oil to solve software problems that others barely knew existed.

Their approach, and the code they wrote, greatly appealed to programmers at universities, and later at startup companies without the mega-budgets of an IBM, Hewlett-Packard or Microsoft. Unix was all that other hackers, such as Bill Joy at the University of California, Rick Rashid at Carnegie Mellon University and David Korn later at Bell Labs, could wish for.

"Nearly from the start, the system was able to, and did, maintain itself," wrote Thompson and Ritchie in the CACM article. "Since all source programs were always available and easily modified online, we were willing to revise and rewrite the system and its software when new ideas were invented, discovered, or suggested by others."

Another advantage of Unix -- the second "wow," as Salus puts it -- was that it didn't require a million-dollar mainframe to run on. It was written for the tiny and primitive DEC PDP-7 minicomputer because that's all Thompson and Ritchie could get their hands on in 1969. "The PDP-7 was almost incapable of anything," Salus recalls. "I was hooked."

A lot of others got hooked as well. University researchers adopted Unix in droves because it was relatively simple and easily modified, it was undemanding in its resource requirements, and the source code was essentially free. Startups like Sun Microsystems and a host of now-defunct companies that specialized in scientific computing, such as Multiflow Computer, made it their operating system of choice for the same reasons.

Then, in the late 1970s, AT&T realized it had something of commercial importance on its hands. Its lawyers began adopting a more favorable interpretation of the 1956 consent decree as they looked for ways to protect Unix as a trade secret. Beginning in 1979, with the release of Version 7, Unix licenses prohibited universities from using the Unix source code for study in their courses.

No problem, said computer science professor Andrew Tanenbaum, who had been using Unix V6 at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. In 1987 he wrote a Unix clone for use in his classrooms, creating the open-source Minix operating system to run on the Intel 80286 microprocessor.
Entire article here

The video in this post is the iconic first tv ad for a home computer. I was watching the Superbowl on Jarvis when this ad came on and it blew my mind. People talked about this commercial for weeks later. 1984 used the unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh (indicated by her white tank top with a Picasso-style picture of Apple’s Macintosh computer on it) as a means of saving humanity from "conformity". Now the commercial seems so tame, so pedestrian, but it felt like it was mind-blowing back in the early 80's. And it was directed by the brilliant Ridley Scott...a full year before the John Hurt movie version of 1984, directed by the also fantastic, Michael Radford.
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