Friday, August 29, 2008

A Few Facts About Governor Palin

• She has been a lifetime member of the NRA (National Rifle Association).

• She supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (a position John McCain himself opposes).

• She has consistently voted against opposed a woman's right to choose (having served as a mayor and governor, she doesn't have a voting record). She said during her gubernatorial campaign that she is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

• From her own website: "I am pro-life and I believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman."

• She supports a non-binding referendum for a constitutional amendment to deny benefits to homosexual couples.

• She does not "attribute" global warming "to being man-made," ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence by asserting that climate models warning of the threat of melting polar sea ice are "unreliable." Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity has said of Palin: "She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming...Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming...The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this."

• In May of this year, she threatened to sue over the Department of the Interior's listing of polar bears as an endangered species, fearing it would disrupt oil and gas development.

• Her husband, Todd Palin, is an oil production operator.

• On health care: "I support flexibility in government regulations that allow competition in health care that is needed."

• She is currently under investigation for her firing of a state official.

• During her gubernatorial campaign, she advocated the teaching of creationism as part of the science curriculum in public schools, along with evolution (she later clarified that she proposed having both discussed, but didn't favor the inclusion of creationism as a formal part of the curriculum).

I wish I could commend McCain for selecting a female running mate, but unfortunately it seems clear this is simply a shrewd strategic move to capture voters still feeling disenfranchised by Hillary Clinton's loss in the Democratic primaries. Unfortunately—at least for McCain and his campaign—the only thing Palin appears to have in common with Hillary Clinton is that they are both women.

I think Hillary framed the issue perfectly in her DNC address: if you supported her and continue to support her, were you in it just for Hillary Clinton, or were/are you in it for the values she represents and the policies she advocates? Because I seriously have a hard time understanding how any Hillary Clinton supporter could be a Sarah Palin supporter...

And for comparison's sake, here are a couple facts about Biden:
• He authored the monumental Violence Against Women Act.
• He has a consistent record of supporting reproductive rights and has been outspoken in his opposition to Supreme Court nominees that threaten to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Check out Michael Ian Black's thoughts on the matter.

Favorite Albums of All Time: Nostalgia Edition, Part I

I was a bit of a late bloomer regarding Depeche Mode. I remember being in the Virgin Megastore in Chicago (which no longer exists) around 1998 and hearing "Enjoy the Silence" come over the speakers. Even though I had heard that song many times before, for some reason that time it stirred up something and I couldn't get it out of my head. I bought the 86>98 collection right there, and everything DM had ever put out in the following weeks.

I also remember driving over a bridge on the highway in IL, and while I was opening the CD case for the live album, 101, the liner notes flew out my window and over the edge. I freaked out quite a bit.

This song and its video are to this day two of my favorite things in existence:

Obama's Speech

Al Gore's Speech

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What is in the Swedish water?

(And please don't answer "Swedish fish.")

Here are two young sisters from Sweden covering a Fleet Foxes song. I've never heard Fleet Foxes, but this is pretty spectacular. Apparently they call themselves First Aid Kit and have signed to The Knife's Rabid Records imprint. (via GvB)

The Republicans Are Coming: Make An Effort

The UnConvention is a non-partisan collective of citizens who have come together to create a forum in which to promote the democratic and free exchange of ideas on important issues. It exists as a counterpoint to the highly scripted and predetermined nature of the contemporary presidential nomination process and convention.

Snapple Cap Facts

DNC '08 Speeches

In case you missed any of these...

Michelle (Part 1):

Michelle (Part 2):

Hillary (Part 1):

Hillary (Part 2):

Hillary (Part 3):

Bill (Part 1):

Bill (Part 2):

Bill (Part 3):

And for nostalgia's sake...

Thomas Campbell

Check out more of Campbell's work here.

(Thanks for the tip, Kyle!)

Monday, August 25, 2008

GOOD Magazine's Education Issue

I just wanted to post an update on the Obama/McCain education debate. The latest issue of GOOD Magazine is the Education Issue and likewise features an illuminating (and slightly distressing) bunch of articles on the state of learning and teaching in the U.S. and abroad. Included is a breakdown similar to the one I posted from the NEA pamphlet.

Here it is:

face off on the education issues:


Obama: Slammed NCLB as an “empty slogan” and an unfulfilled promise. He voiced his agreement, however, with the policy’s initial objectives, differing on the importance of standardized testing.

McCain: Believes in the policy’s emphasis on accountability, and holding American kids to competitive standards. He acknowledges its imperfections, but would push for the legislation to continue if he were president.


Obama: Believes in continued federal funding for charter schools.

McCain: Supports the existence of charter schools, as well as private schools and public schools, and favors leaving the decision to parents.


Obama: Wants to raise teachers’ salaries, pay off their student loans, and design programs to recruit more of them.

McCain: Advocates a system for pay increases, with teacher testing and merit pay.


Obama: Fears that school vouchers will further deteriorate public schools, leaving them underfunded and de facto segregated.

McCain: Wants to enable parents to privatize their kids’ education with federal funding—$5.5 billion over three years, presenting a million students with vouchers of up to $2,000 annually.


Feature writer and education expert Gary Stager sums up the problems with NCLB quite succinctly in the cover story: 
"The theory behind the tests seems to be analogous to the theory that taking a sick patient’s temperature every seven minutes will cure him."

Be sure to pick up the issue. GOOD continues to present vital information in innovative and eye-opening ways.

[image courtesy of GOOD Magazine]

Wipe those blue paint chips off your bum, it's time for another outing at the pool!

Due to a rain date, The L Magazine's super-popular and super-fun Summerscreen is taking place tonight! An added bonus, it's for David Lynch's super-weird [and super(b)!–BJK] Blue Velvet.


Not this:

Date: Monday, August 25, 2008
Time: 5:30pm–10:00pm
Street: Lorimer St between Driggs and Bayard Sts
City/Town: Brooklyn, NY

(Or see the Facebook event info.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sound & Vision: Dither

Sound: "Tervehdys, Roskasakki!" by Kemialliset Ystävät (from Harmaa Laguuni)
Vision: light my candles in a daze: drops of heavenscent by Laura Brothers

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kalimba Song

Yer Sweet Chimneys began, well before it became a bloggity blog, as the name of a band. Well, not exactly a band... It was the name I used whenever I was playing a show on my own, without whatever band I was in at the time.

Here is Yer Sweet Chimneys performing a cover of "Book of Love" (Magnetic Fields) on a kalimba.

It was a really weird show at Stain Bar in Brooklyn. There were about 5 people there... notice their shadows as they exit to hang out in the back yard. (I'm not complaining—at least one person stayed to record this video!)

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Most Addictive Online Thing I've Done in a Long While

I don't know what this flash game is called, and I can't read the instructions as they're in Japanese, but: this little flash game is great. Here's how to play:

1. Press "Start"
2. Wait for the countdown: 3, 2, 1
3. A group of numbers will flash on the screen for just under one second; your job is to try and remember the position of those numbers.
4. After the numbers flash on the screen, they will be replaced by circles.
5. Your job is to try and put the numbers in the correct order from lowest to highest.

After 10 progressively more difficult levels, your score will be tabulated. The lower your score the better. The idea here is that your visual memory (AKA: your immediate perceptual memory) is related to your age, so the better you score, the "younger" your brain is.

The best I can seem to score is 7 out of 10, which is tabulated (depending on the difficulty of the particular level) about "20 years old." Let's face it, though, we're a society obsessed with youth. I'm not going to be satisfied until I score an 18 or lower.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Obama vs. McCain on Education (plus a story about getting caught in a storm)

My good friend Jon and I were sitting on a bench in Washington Square Park during his recent visit.  Talking politics.  A shirtless guy was throwing a tennis ball against the base of a statue, over and over again (he was really into it), and some peculiar lights were scanning a cloud overhead (we still can't figure out what is was...UFOs?).

At some point in the discussion, Jon posed a question: "I understand how some people disagree about certain issues, but how can anyone not support better education?" People might not see eye to eye on stem-cell research or military spending or gay rights (due to differing religious convictions, world-views, etc.), but how can anyone not agree that education should be a (the?) chief priority of any society—and therefore any government?

Jon's question reminded me of an article my mom cut out of her NEA (National Education Association) newsletter for me a while back. It compares the presidential candidates' stances on a number of issues related to education. It's interesting to see such clear-cut distinctions on such paramount policy issues ...

Barack Obama

John McCain

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)


"The fact is, No Child Left Behind has done more to stigmatize and demoralize our students and teachers in struggling schools than it has to marshal the talent and the determination and the resources to turn them around. That's what's wrong with NCLB, and that's what we must change in a fundamental way."

—Manchester, NH, 11/22/07


"There's a lot of things that need to be fixed about No Child Left Behind, but just to say what was a bipartisan agreement, as we all know, and was the first real attempt at trying to gauge and reward performance, including teachers, as well as students in America, I think would be a mistake. But should we sit down and fix it? Yes. And we should do it in a bipartisan fashion and recognize that the first—the first challenge that I think this nation has is to provide a qualified workforce."

—Political Transcript Wire, 2/22/08

Pay Teachers Based on Student Test Scores and Other Factors
Opposes Individual Pay for Test Scores, but Supports School-Wide Enhanced Compensation

"I'm not in favor of merit pay as it is currently understood, which basically... involves taking test scores and then rewarding people on how they score on tests, how students score on tests."

—MSNBC transcript, "Hardball," 4/2/08

Supports Pay for Test Scores

"We should reward the best of them with merit pay, and encourage teachers who have lost their focus on the children they teach to find another line of work."

—Alexandria, VA, 4/1/08

Reduce Class Size

—NEA's 2008 Presidential Candidate Survey


Voted against a federal program aimed at reducing class size.

—Roll Call Vote 103, 5/15/01

Pay Teachers a Starting Salary of $40k and ESPs a Living Wage

—NEA's 2008 Presidential Candidate Survery

No Public Information Available

—Did not return NEA questionnaire

Increase Minimum Wage

Obama supported clean vote on minimum wage increase; voted against amendment that would permit employers to opt out of federal minimum wage; and voted for final passage of minimum wage bill.

—Senate Roll Call Vote 23, 1/24/07; Senate Roll Call Cote 24, 1/24/07; Senate Roll Call Vote 42, 2/1/07


McCain opposed clean vote on minimum wage increase; voted for amendment that would permit employers to opt out of federal minimum wage; and voted for final passage of minimum wage bill once tax breaks for businesses were attached.

—Senate Roll Call Vote 23, 1/24/07; Senate Roll Call Vote 24, 1/24/07; Senate Roll Call Vote 42, 2/1/07

Expand Healthcare, Create Universal Health Insurance

"[B]y the end of my first term ... we're going to have universal health care for every single American."

—Presidential Forum, 3/24/07

Supports Expanding Health Care; Opposes Universal Insurance

"I believe that every American should have affordable and available health care ... But I'm not going to mandate that they do."

—CNN, 2/16/08

Privatize Social Security

"Part of the reason I'm so opposed to the president's privatization plan is it would cost trillions of dollars in transition costs—basically the money that would be going to current seniors would be siphones off into these private accounts, and you've got to figure out how to pay those seniors back."

—Obama's Senate website

Partially Supports

McCain "supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts—but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept."

—McCain Tax Cut Plan

Increase Federal Education Funding

Supported major amendments and appropriations bills that would increase funding for education programs.

—Democratic Presidential Debate, 9/9/07

Opposed Bills to Increase Funding, but States Support for Adequate Funding

Opposed major amendments and appropriations bills that would increase funding for education programs.

—Roll Call Vote 46, 2/13/07; Roll Call Vote 58, 3/16/06

Expand Early Childhood Education

"Children's ability to succeed in school relies on the foundation they build in their first three years. Prekindergarten for four-year-olds is important, but it is not enough to ensure children will arrive at school ready to learn," instead advocating a Zero to Five plan.

—Obama Education Plan

No Public Information Available.

—Missed 2007 Senate vote to renew Head Start; Did not return NEA questionnaire

[all info reprinted from NEA newsletter]

The temperature dropped suddenly and thunder roared somewhere west of the Hudson. The shirtless guy said, "Storm's a-brewin'." "Nah," I said, "I think it's gonna pass us by." "I'll quote you on that." A few moments later, Jon and I were completely drenched.  

What the hell were those lights?!

Friday, August 8, 2008

An Interview with Luke Hart

Luke Hart’s work examines and challenges our ideas of physical utility. From amorphous rubber sculptures that both mimic and abstract biological forms, to a wearable, mechanical extra arm, Hart’s examination of bodily forms and function seems particularly relevant in an age when our conceptions of the body are informed by everything from biotechnology to the latest elective cosmetic procedures. We recently emailed him a few questions about his work, which he was kind enough to answer.

NB: I know that you recently graduated from Pratt. Can you tell us a bit about how your work changed over the course of your time there?

LH: Pratt is an interesting place and a mixed bag in terms of the people one can meet. Mostly I've come away with respect and gratitude for the place, but you have to remember that I was very young when I went in, and very much in search of what I wanted to do with my life. I was lucky that I was able to meet enough people that I was able to respect enough to allow them to guide me and help inform how I see art and the world.

I only just recently read the first novel of my first year English professor and was able to realize what an immense influence she had on me and my work, which I was unaware of.

NB: Now that you're done with school, what's next? Grad school? Travel? A day job?

LH: I've spent a lot of time traveling, I went to Europe, to Australia for six months, to Japan, and to the residency program where we met [Vermont Studio Center]. It's been great but financially taxing, I'm lucky to have very supportive parents. My plans are to get a post-graduate degree in the UK, where I was born, so I'm moving there very soon, and searching for a job. All three then?

Disarticulated Mutation -silicone, pigment, and hair - 2006

Disarticulated Disarticulation - silicone, pigment, and fiberglass - 2007

NB: I'm really interested in your sculptural work, particularly the amorphous, biological rubber pieces. The detail in those pieces is remarkable: they have wrinkles and blemishes, freckles, moles, and even hair, and yet the forms aren't purely representative of any recognizable organism. In that way, we can kind of recognize something of ourselves in the piece, and yet we're alienated from it as well because, well, they're almost biologic aberrations. Can you talk about the process of making those pieces and about how viewers have responded to them?

LH: I started this series in my last year at Pratt. I was really bored with what I was doing and I was looking at a lot of hyper-realist sculptors kind of in awe. Eventually I decided; fuck it, I can do that, and this was a big step for me, not so much conceptually or philosophically, but personally. So I figured out how to do it. It's really just a simple sculpting and mold-making process, with more even more attention paid to detail. I sculpt everything by hand then make the simplest mold possible, then cast in rubber and its just a matter of the right paint and thin application. The fun thing about this level of realism is that viewers are so familiar with elements of the work that it seems approachable. You see your own skin, or a simulacrum of it, and then you see it in this form and get confused, maybe scared. People have expressed an attraction and at the same time a repulsion, which is something I find really valuable. Hyper-reality is that weird level of re-creation where what is created can take on its own life beyond that of, or different from, what it's depicting.

Yes, they are aberrations, but I think that we have to remember that they seem like aberrations to us, in our evolutionary state, things change.

NB: One thing I've wondered about your work is whether it is to be seen as something macabre, or whether there's something more satirical at work. On the one hand, it's completely arresting and even a bit uncomfortable to encounter a hyper-realistic sheet of rubber skin. Then again, there's something kind of droll and wry about your work as well. Do you consider a piece's reception as your working, or is that an afterthought? In your opinion, is it even within the purview of the artist to consider how a piece might be received?

LH: Ambiguity is very important to me. I generally hate work that 'says' something in such straightforward terms, It seems oversimplified and proselytizing. It is very important for me to say things without forcing opinions on anyone. I like to raise questions then try to answer them while looking at my, or anyone else's work.

I think that everyone has to consider reception while they are working, for me its paramount. I don't think you can make work of this sort and not be fascinated by watching people watch it. One of my favorite things is seeing people interact with this skin, their revulsion, their attractions. I once had a professor say that she didn't know whether or not to be frightened by one of my sculptures (an early one) or if she should sit on it and, you know...

The artist wearing Synthetic Being 6: Skin Sheet - silicone, pigment - 2008

Detail of Synthetic Being 6: Skin Sheet - silicone, pigment - 2008

NB: You were nice enough to let me touch and interact with a more recent piece of yours, which was a large sheet of skin, and I found that it was actually a lot of fun to play around with. Is that an experience you think you'd ever be able to replicate in a gallery setting? That is, would a viewer typically get to touch one of these pieces, or are they purely meant to be seen?

LH: This is tough. I said myself that I love watching people interact with this work, and with my newer work this question just gets more complicated. Some of the most fun I've had in the studio recently was that time that a group of us were 'trying on' the sheet of skin. The trouble is translating that environment to any sort of public exhibition without having the work come off as some sort of pastiche of a children's museum. Video is an option but it lacks the immediacy of your experience. Perhaps it's something best left to the type of setting we were in then, happenning-like, but this is still a large question in my mind.

Third Arm Project 5 - steel, leather - 2008

Modified shirt, part of Third Arm Project 5 - 2008

NB: I also wanted to ask you about the arm you've been working on that, as I understand it, is essentially a prosthetic that you can wear as an extra arm. That seems to dredge up a lot of ideas of utility, uselessness and excess. And because we live in a world in which people have all sorts of elective surgeries every day, when I first saw the piece, I couldn't help but think about our own willingness to modify and manipulate our bodies. Is that something that generally interests you? Can you tell us a bit more about the arm?

LH: Elective surgery is fascinating and every day it becomes more and more integrated into our lives. As computers continue to evolve they will become more and more parts of our bodies. Granted, I'm more interested in the ridiculous and obvious physical changes we make to our bodies, but I see it as all very inter-related. Even the rubber I use in the skin pieces is silicone, which is being used in cosmetic surgery and computers.

The arm is a direct and early exploration of prosthetic placement (rather than re-placement) in my work. I just kind of became obsessed with having a third arm, not four, (because symmetry is boring) but growing an extra one under my right one. Just think of how much easier soldering would be. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we don't have that elective surgery yet, so I had to settle for making one myself. Now I also don't have the technology to link my brain to it, or the money of Stellarc, but I think this made my arm more interesting. It's absurd, it vaguely follows the motion of my right arm, it gets in the way all the time, it doesn't even have any sort of attachment on the end yet. (I'm still thinking, it might even get skin) It's much more of a hinderance than the aiding prosthetic extra limb I envisioned, but that's great, it's more ambiguity, it looks stupid, and it does nothing it should. It's also very important to me to keep this work linked to the earlier work. There I was creating synthetic living beings of a sort, here I've made a synthetic 'functional' part of a living being. In the future i'd like to make these things walk and move around, but without getting trapped in being a movie special-effects guy, a lot of the things I do hinge on not going to far.

NB: What kinds of things are you working on now?

LH: I've been spending a lot of time just playing with that skin sheet that you saw, I drape it over anything I can, people, objects, I stretch it, fold it, I'm trying to see what it can and can't do while retaining it's skin qualities, and I'm trying to decide what to ultimately do with it, as well as getting a lot of really fun photos.

I've also been writing more proposals and thinking more and more about how to make performance and video work in a way that I can be satisfied with.

Mainly I'm writing until I can get myself a more stable studio atmosphere to make things in.

NB: Are there any trends in contemporary art that you find particularly interesting or compelling? What kind of work are you most interested in?

LH: I'm interested in the ways that artists try to change and re-invent the media (or genre's?) in which they work, and the ways in which lines are drawn and then blurred between disciplines. I'm struggling a lot with how to make performance relevant in a global technological society without becoming a youtube snippet.

There are subtle ways to do this as well as the obvious though, the play between video and sculpture really intrigues me, but its also really daunting.

NB: On the flip side of that coin, are there any trends that don't interest you, or that you're bored with?

LH: Most political work, lots of the things that I see that I don't respond to are not so much trends but things that are very hard to do but are very popular, video and installation fall into this category. This is not to say that I don't like these things, all of them can be done, and can be incredibly well, but not many people can do it.

NB: Is there anything outside of the world of visual art from which you draw inspiration?

LH: Definitely, prosthetic limbs, conjoined twins, any type of so called birth 'defects.' There was a child born in China recently who had two equally formed left arms. The doctors made a choice of which one to remove, more so that he could learn to use at least one of them, but also so he could lead a more normal life. The word freak is still very much part of our vocabulary. I also work back and forth with a lot of the fiction that I read. You told me (I think it was you) that you were jealous of visual artists, but I get incredibly jealous of writers, there's a lot of different freedoms and ways of manipulating what you make as a writer that have to be addressed differently in the plastic arts.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reading Lists

Here's what we at YSC have been reading lately...

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
The Hotel Eden by Ron Carlson
Monsieur by Jean Philippe Toussaint
Mafeking Road and Other Stories by Herman Charles Bosman

The Collected Poems: 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop
The Nightingales of Troy by Alice Fulton
Ommateum with Doxology by A. R. Ammons
Monsieur by Jean Philippe Toussaint

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia
In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen

Straight Talk? Huh?

Sigur Rós @ MoMA

I cannot wait to see Sigur Rós in September!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We ♥ Jonathan Miller: A Rough History of Disbelief

First, here's a tribute to Jonathan Miller (the British neurologist/theatre director/author/television presenter/humorist/sculptor/...), which Nik and I performed and which our friend Aimee recorded a while back at Goodbye Blue Monday in Brooklyn...

"A Song for Jonathan Miller" by You Aren't My Mother (live @ Goodbye Blue Monday):

Now, here is a segment from A Rough History of Disbelief, a program Miller presented for the BBC in 2005:

Let us know if you'd like us to post more segments from the program.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Things to Read, Drinks to Drink: Nostalgia Edition

Nostalgia has a bad rap. Sure, hearing your friends go on and on about how much cooler they were in high school, and how they had Pavement's Slanted and Enchantedon tape—before anybody else even knew about it, gets really old. But we've all got our secret, nostalgic indulgences, don't we?

Last weekend, I was inspired by a friend to pick up William Golding's Lord of the Flies, a book I hadn't read since grade school. I couldn't put it down. I mean, it's not just interesting subject matter, but it's incredible writing. Somehow, I'd managed to convince myself that no book from childhood or early adulthood would stand up to an adult reading. In fact, just the opposite was true; the book was better this time around.

This necessarily made me reexamine a few other points of serious nostalgia, and this one's more embarrassing than Lord of the Flies. Like a lot of drinkers, when I first picked up a bottle, I liked bad booze: sweet stuff, crappy vodka that you could cover up with fruit juice, etc. The Rum & Coke was a standby: it more or less tasted like cola, and boy could it get your ripped. Now older and wiser (and, again, at the urging of a friend), I recently found that the Rum & Coke has something going for it after all, especially if you use decent rum.

I suggest using Don Q Cristal Rum and Coke or Diet Coke: Fill the glass with ice, pour in equal parts rum and coke and garnish with a generous slice of lime (rub it on the rim to make it extra lime-y). When it's hot out, it's totally refreshing, which is probably why this is an old standard in tropical locales.

Pair with a book about British boys gone savage on a tropical island, and you've got a winning combination for a hot summer day.

Sound & Vision: In the Pines

Sound: "In the Pines" by Smog (from A River Ain't Too Much to Love)
Vision: Evening Sky — Lake Pillsbury, CA — by Jon Aizen

Monday, August 4, 2008

We ♥ Mt. Eerie: New song with Julie Doiron!

A couple months ago, I ordered the vinyl reissue of The Glow pt. 2 from P.W. Elverum & Sun. It came in a box adorned with Phil Elv(e)rum's unmistakable handwriting and this beautiful custom shipping tape. I can't throw it away!

Elverum's aesthetic has always been impeccable, and his recent limited edition releases have made a pretty compelling argument for the longevity of tangible musical artifacts.

Below is the artwork and a track from the upcoming Mt. Eerie release, Lost Wisdom, which comes out October 7.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Lovin's For Fools"

(Bon Iver and Bowerbirds performing "Lovin's For Fools" by Sarah Siskind at the Bowery Ballroom on 7/29/08.)

The Separation of Retail and State?

The separation of church and state isn't the only separation dangerously deteriorated in this election season.

In case the grim images in Wall-E didn't make us all think twice about the ubiquity and economic/political influence of corporate behemoths, Wal-Mart just went and made themselves even more despicable.

From The Wall Street Journal:
According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise.

The actions by Wal-Mart -- the nation's largest private employer -- reflect a growing concern among big business that a reinvigorated labor movement could reverse years of declining union membership. That could lead to higher payroll and health costs for companies already being hurt by rising fuel and commodities costs and the tough economic climate.

"The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'" said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said.

Through almost all of its 48-year history, Wal-Mart has fought hard to keep unions out of its stores, flying in labor-relations rapid-response teams from its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters to any location where union activity was building. The United Food and Commercial Workers was successful in organizing only one group of Wal-Mart workers -- a small number of butchers in East Texas in early 2000. Several weeks later, the company phased out butchers in all of its stores and began stocking prepackaged meat. When a store in Canada voted to unionize several years ago, the company closed the store, saying it had been unprofitable for years.

From commenter "Tom Cleaver" on The Carpetbagger Report:
Yeah, those fine upstanding entrepreneurs, the Walton family, might lose a few million of their $100 billion net family worth and wouldn’t be able to finish their underground “headquarters” at the family compound.

Several years ago, when Wal-Mart employees were holding a company-wide campaign to raise money for an emergency fund to aid the “associates” (what a godawful word - this word needs to become illegal in this context) when they had personal trouble.

The Walton Family, at that time worth a collective $98 billion, donated a whole $6,000 to the campaign.

The five members of the Walton family who control the company are half of the list of Ten Richest People on Earth.

(Thanks for the tip, Dad!)

Short Fiction (shameless plug alert)

If you're in NYC, you can now pick up The L Magazine's third annual Fiction Issue. This year's installment features stories from Benjamin Percy, Ed Park, our good friend Kevin A. González, Julian Barnes and April Wilder. Ch-Ch-Check it out here.

"I'm a pretty dark person..."

Magnetic Fields @ Town Hall - 2/22/08 
Originally uploaded by

Here are two new videos from the folks at Other Music, capturing the curmudgeonly Stephin Merritt backstage at Town Hall...

"The Nun's Litany"

"This Little Ukulele"

New Magnetic Fields tour dates:
10/10 - State Theatre Minneapolis, MN
10/11 - Overture Center for the Arts Madison, WI
10/15 - Boulder Theater Boulder, CO
10/17 - Symphony Hall Atlanta Atlanta, GA
10/18 - Progress Engery Center Meymandi Concert Hall Raleigh, NC
10/23 - The Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre Jersey City, NJ
10/24 - Southern Theatre Columbus, OH
10/26 - George Washington University - Lisner Auditorium Washington, DC


Peculiar Piglet Born in China

A pig in China just gave birth to the above piglet "with the face of a monkey."

Farmer Feng Changlin told a reporter from Oriental Today, "It's hideous. No one will be willing to buy it, and it scares the family to even look at it!"

It also has hind legs that are longer than its forelegs, causing it to hop instead of walking like a normal pig.

Air pollution?

Any relation to this?