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Discovering this album in a thrift-store was one of the most startling experiences of my record-hunting life. Hearing good ol' Johann Sebastian performed on the likes of snare drums, woodblocks and tom-toms had me completely bewildered. The New York Percussion Ensemble didn't cheat by using melodic percussion instruments like xylophones or marimbas - the list of instruments on the back include, apart from the ones I just mentioned, tambourines, cymbals, maracas, castanets, bongos, claves, triangle, cowbell, tympani, boobams, and sleigh bells.

The sound lies closer to traditional African music then to classical. To quote a Time magazine review: "The result has the effect of an X-ray photograph of a flower — barely recognizable, eerie and oddly fascinating." We make available three of the album's four cuts - the first track, a version of "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," had a nasty gouge in it, but don't worry, it wasn't as good as the other three tracks.

This was no joke. Arranger John Klein's credits on the back cover are extensive - an early classical training, numerous classical and pop credits, and authorship of a "monumental two-volume work entitled 'The First Four Centuries of Music.'" I have no idea what this means, though: "Mr. Klein has composed music for no less then 137 dramas for the United States Treasury Department NBC Transcription Series..."

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RIP Popcorn Sutton


thx adman
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american culture between the wars kalaidjian

The avant-garde, popular, and working-class texts that Walter Kalaidjian discusses in his new work attempt to revise episodes in American culture that together constitute what he calls "a neglected cultural history" (8). Concentrating on such supposedly marginal moments in American culture as the Russian Revolution, the Harlem renaissance, the radical experimentations of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, and the popular interventions of feminism, Kalaidjian dexterously blurs the boundaries between high and low culture, politics and aesthetics, and academicism and popular forms. Kalaidjian's book is divided into five chapters, each of which is, in turn, nicely divided into subsections dealing with a more specific aspect of the theme that the chapter treats. The first chapter, entitled "Revisionary Modernism," discusses the role of transnationalism during the interwar years as a key episode in the shaping of American culture. Within the chapter, Kalaidjian pays particular attention to the influence of the Russian avant-gardes in the formation of a strong Marxist-socialist consciousness in America. The second chapter explores how various "subgroups," like the Chicago John Reed Club, the New Negro movement, and the politicized aesthetics of Diego Rivera, Hugo Gellert, and Louis Lozowick, among others, "signaled a communicative difference from the dominant ideological signs of American commodity culture" (61). The section on Diego Rivera is perhaps the best part of the whole book. Chapters 3 and 4 discuss feminist concerns and radical movements in poetry respectively. Kalaidjian places these two important contemporary movements vis-a-vis the economic, political, and social concerns that he claims inform these movements. The work of authors who tend to reclaim the mode of "cultural critique," whose political edge, Kalaidjian claims, "cuts through the semiosis of everyday life and goes to the heart of postmodern spectacle," is the concern of chapter 5. This chapter criticizes the postmodern emphasis on the disappearance of the "real" (263).

Kalaidjian's purpose is not, however, simply to subvert the traditional, learned critical paradigm. His text shows that in High Modernism, Eliot, Pound, and Stevens, for instance, cohabited with the Dynamo group of poets. Kalaidjian's conflation of such apparently dissimilar poetic modes is not aimed at privileging one over the other. He argues, correctly I believe, that a thorough understanding of the period should take into account both discourses, since frequently the existence of one can throw light onto the other. One commonplace of High Modernist criticism, for instance, is to focus on the ahistorical stance most of the canonical poets adopted. By centering their discursive practices on transcendental concerns, poets like Eliot and Stevens ignored the urgent economic conditions affecting the country. This kind of anti-High Modernist discourse proves futile because it does not move further from the figures it supposedly attacks. Anti-Eliot discourse is, as it were, still focused on Eliot. Kalaidjian pushes beyond this sterile and circular critical move and cleverly shows, for example, how Ben Matt recasts Hart Crane's mythic bridge into a more politicized language to accommodate The Bridge to the discourse of political criticism. Kalaidjian argues that this kind of poetry arose from the period's deep dissatisfaction with American culture's emphasis on an increasingly automated labor process. Thus the critical veneration of such ahistorical writers as Eliot and Pound parallels the fate of society where workers "found themselves increasingly alienated from ever more automated systems of production, engineered and administered by a new class of technological experts" (154). Sol Funaroff, similarly, in "What the Thunder Said: A Fire Sermon," rearticulates Eliot's transcendental and historically unspecific resolution of social disillusion by turning it into a "materialistic vision of international class revolt, linking the unrest of pre-revolutionary Russia to depression era America" (154). Kalaidjian's work thus uncovers a historical and cultural layer that the predominant critical mode in United States, with its emphasis on individual genius, as it were, has buried in forgetfulness. His work therefore forces the reader to understand that the work of literature is, whether we like it or want to admit it, always inescapably part of a social field.

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rip eddie bo (new orleans pianist)

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Various Artists
The Art of Field Recording, Vol. 2
[Dust-to-Digital; 2009]

In November 2007, Atlanta's Dust-to-Digital Records released The Art of Field Recording, Vol. 1 , a sweeping, 4xCD collection of field recordings assembled by the folklorist and visual artist Art Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum's considerable personal collection (which spans a half-century, contains thousands of hours of tape, and is supplemented by Rosenbaum's own photographs, paintings, and drawings) demanded more than just four discs; Dust-to-Digital plotted a second volume in response. Vol. 2 follows the same basic organizing principle as its predecessor: The four discs are arranged by theme (Survey, Religious, Accompanied Songs and Ballads, Unaccompanied Songs and Ballads), and are comprised exclusively of field recordings, provoked and captured in living rooms, churches, front porches, backyards, graveyards, and parlors across the Southeast, Midwest, and Canada.

Without discounting the participants' musicianship, the real pleasure of these boxes is in the peripheral noise, the clinks, rustles, guffaws, giggles, and snorts of ordinary life, the self-composed and self-delivered introductions, the soft-spoken folklorist nudging from the corner-- that's the true and precious miracle of field recording. We now know, for example, that there exists no more sublime a preface to "Steamboat Bill" than Iowan Jack Bean-- in his deep, gnarly, slightly-too-loud voice-- barking "My name is Jack Bean, I live in Wapello, I'm 70 years old, and I'm a half-assed musician. Or was." This is how folk music functions; this is what it means. It is as real as anything.
thx dave
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The mosaic pavement system, however, as we know it today in Lisbon, was used for the first time in 1840, on a large surface in the parade ground of the military headquarters, on the main hill of Lisbon. After this first experience, the inventor of this system, Lieutenant-General Eusebio Furtado, a military Engineer and Governor of Castelo de S. Jorge between 1840 and 1846, presented the Town Council with a project for the paving of the main square in Lisbon, Rossio, and got the approval, for the making of the famous waves called "mar largo".

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RIP Lionel Ziprin

I have never been arrested. I

have never been institutionalized.

I have four children. I am in

receipt of social security benefits.

I am not an artist. I am not an

outsider. I am a citizen of the

republic and I have remained

anonymous all the time by choice.

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pepsi/coke bottle

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copacabana sidewalk

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In The Function of Criticism, Terry Eagleton (1984) shows that contemporary literary criticism, though it is ensconced in academic domains, tends to be complicit with market forces and the ideologies that support them. He shows that contemporary literary theory, even while it is supposedly anti-authoritarian, is complicit with established structures of power by its epistemological nihilism, its social insulation, its intellectual abstraction from the affairs of everyday life, and its consequent impotence as an effectual form of social criticism. Eagleton's critique of literary theory is comparable to the Frankfurt School's critiques of scientism and positivism that charge that much of scientific inquiry is complicit with systems of domination. These critiques suggest that systems of ideas that attain prominence in intellectual or scientific worlds often tend not to unsettle, if they are not directly complicit with, established structures of power. The compliance of intellectuals with these structures is thus secured without direct coercion.

Formalist art criticism is also subject to this charge. By excluding considerations of idea content and social context, it obscured the substantive concerns that artists frequently sought to express in their works. Thus, while Piet Mondrian wrote extensively on art's role in a dialectical revelation of harmonized oppositions, for example, by reading Clement Greenberg on Mondrian we could learn no more about this than that the artist "has theories" (Greenberg, 1986: 64). Greenberg's disregard of the idea content of Mondrian's art was typical of his approach. Even in cases in which artworks, according to the extensive writings-of artists such as Mondrian (Holtzman and James, 1993) and Wassily Kandinsky (Lindsay and Vergo, 1982), were heavily invested with ideational or affective content, Greenberg evaluated such works only in terms of their formal properties. If he acknowledged the content at all, he gave it short shrift, dismissing it a priori as not pertinent to the value of art.

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Bach’s birthday is celebrated on March 21st. around the globe, perhaps even in every time zone. Born fifteen years before the German states adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1700, Bach and his music get their biggest airing on this day, all calendars now properly aligned to play and pay them homage.
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patterson and the society of usefull manufacturing

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Since it seems obvious that I'll have once again to try to free "formalism" from the life-insured mortgage Greenberg has been granted on its very premises,(2) I'll first take his work as an example in order to assert that, notwithstanding what he had to say on the matter (he and several Bloomsbury writers such as Roger Fry and Clive Bell who shared such a silly dream), it is impossible to keep meaning at bay. Then I'll use his work to show that if "formalist criticism" currently has a bad name, it may be because it was not practiced well enough. This will lead me to respond to the charge that formalism equals a- or antihistory (a charge common since the days of Stalin's cultural commissar Andrei Zhdanov and carried to the present: it is the main argument of the "business-as-usual" critic quoted above). All along, I shall try to define the tasks of the type of formalism I have in mind with regard to the practice of its most vociferous enemies.

A word on these enemies, in passing: although they come from different factions, they share an idealist conception of meaning as an a priori construct existing before its embodiment in a form. They all speak, as Roland Barthes would say, "in the name of the Cause." Their idealist conception of meaning combines with an idealist conception of form (as existing prior to its embodiment in matter) in order to insure the apotheosis of the concept of image - an apotheosis whose current symptom is the rise of what is called Visual Studies. It is not by chance that the image was precisely what abstract art struggled against, or that it has been the main target of the Russian formalists in their literary criticism, or that Riegl's groundwork concerned essentially nonmimetic decorative arts, for in the absence of the image one is, or should be, forced to abandon the idealist concept of meaning I just mentioned. The enemies of formalism usually keep away from abstract art for that very reason - but when they occasionally approach it, it is most often in a desperate attempt to retrieve the absent image (business as usual) and thus to negate the historical specificity of abstraction.

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With the new century come two new building types: the dead superstore and the dead mall. The dead mall is a victim of economic chill. But dead out-of-town superstores are something else. They're like old skins shucked off by saurian retailers as they gobble up sites and pursue unending growth.

Julia Christensen's book Big Box Reuse examines the lifecycle of these creatures, the far-reaching transformations they bring about in towns and cities, and the waste structures they leave behind. Her research is valuable and timely - the unexpected bonus is that the story is fascinating and lucidly written. When a big box superstore moves into a city, or (as is more common) appears on its periphery, it gives that city a new economic centre of gravity. The sales tax that it raises means that local authorities bend to its will. The thousands of car journeys that it generates can attract other businesses to set up next door. And the fabric of the city warps around it: freeway exits are built, turning lanes implemented.

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george jouve tiles

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Volunteers are learning to rip down plaster, pull apart walls and tear off roofs. To the nonprofit group’s long-held aim of constructing houses for those in need, Saginaw’s affiliate has lately added to its mission by doing the opposite.

As part of an agreement with the city, and with at least $500,000 from the state and federal governments, the Habitat for Humanity volunteers and paid workers plan to demolish two vacant, dilapidated houses here a week, every week, over the next two years. As for creating homes, they will build or refurbish eight houses this year.

The shift in the organization’s focus is a sign of the times in Saginaw, a shrinking city northwest of Detroit where at least 800 houses sit empty and doomed, and offers a glimpse of what increasingly empty neighborhoods in many cities may soon face as foreclosures continue.

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hogarth the enraged musician

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The most polarizing issue in architecture today is no longer whether celebrity architects are ruining the profession. It’s what to do with the leftovers of postwar Brutalism.

For an older generation of architects these buildings embody the absolute nadir of the welfare state. Destroying them would be an act of mercy. But for younger architects the aggressive concrete forms that gave the movement its name are a welcome antidote to the saccharine Disney-inspired structures of today. Their demolition amounts to urban shock treatment, an erasure of historical memory that substitutes a sanitized city for a genuinely complex one.

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It may be the design world’s best-kept secret: Donald Judd’s furniture doesn’t have to be purchased at auction or ordered through the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Tex., which can take up to a year to deliver. It can be bought at retail prices — and taken home the same day — from Artware Editions, a West Village gallery that carries a rotating inventory. Rebecca Kong, a founder of the gallery, calls it “an affordable way to own something by one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.”

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"One of the reasons that reconstruction of earlier playing styles is so difficult is precisely the fact that we start from the viewpoint of late 20th- century taste and habits, and use them as the basis for comparison. But what does modern taste consist of? If the style of Elgar's day is 'old-fashioned', in what ways is modern style 'new-fangled'? The that we use more vibrato and less portamento than was used earlier in the century, we are more concerned with clarity of detail and exact note values, we take most music more slowly and we change tempo less frequently and to a lesser degree. If these characteristics of modern style have arisen so recently, do we not have to be very cautious in using them as a basis for investigating much earlier playing styles? What would happen if, in order to reconstruct, say, the performance practice of Beethoven's day, we were to start not from modern style but from the style preserved on early gramophone records?

. . . . our conjectures would be quite different if we were living in the 1920s instead of the 1980s. Similarly 18th- and 19th-century descriptions of tempo rubato make a very different sort of sense if we take early, rather than late, 20th-century style as the starting point for comparison. My own very strong suspicion is that many of the habits preserved in early gramophone records had their origins at least as far back as Beethoven, and in some cases earlier. This is something to argue about, but one central point is indisputable: the styles of the early 20th century did not arise overnight. For this reason, if for no other, it is time for historically minded performers to start considering the implications of early gramophone records."

Robert Philip
The Recordings of Sir Edward Elgar -- Authenticity and Performance Practice
Early Music, Vol. 12, No. 4, November, 1984, pp. 481-489, pp.

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96 tears

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blood puddle pillows

thx vz
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