Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
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Like my brownhouse:
   chuckling at state television
Friday, April 9 2004
I couldn't get enough enjoyment out of the ongoing Suni-Shi'ite shitstorm from viewing the static pages of the web, so I turned to CNN on satellite television hoping to see swarthy men dancing atop burning Humvees. But what I got instead was propagandistic state television. I'm referring here to the kind of television produced by a totalitarian regime in an effort to control the populace. Despite CNN's long history of shoddy journalism, I was astounded to see such transparent event spinning from this ubiquitous news source. The program was Wolf Blitzer Reports, and it concerned recent developments in Iraq. The propaganda I'm referring to came in the tightly-edited background piece preceding the talk show part of the program. Instead of showing burning convoys and pissed-off Shi'ites, we were treated to a disorganized bullet list of video clips, each highlighting aspects of the supposed situation in Iraq. We saw scenes of brown smiling faces receiving education in recently-opened schools. A couple of attractive young Iraqi women dressed in trendy western attire used flawless English to express frustration with the unrest, as if it was a stalker boyfriend. An unnamed "leader" in the town of Kufa was said to be disgusted with Muqtada al-Sadr. We were assured the quelling of unrest in Kut was one of the things going well. There were no mentions of deaths, Iraqi or American. Nothing was said about the Japanese hostages in danger of being burned alive. Photogenic as it might have been, we weren't treated to video of the burning oil convoy west of Bagdad. Now I know that Wolf Blitzer is the same guy who allowed National Security Council spokesman Jim Wilkinson to distort a literary allusion in Clarke's book into a constellation of "weird aspects in his life." But at least that took a little research (as always, thanks Paul Krugman!) to uncover. This reporting was so at odds with and beside the point of recent events in Iraq as to be laughable. I know I chuckled, probably the same way Russians used to chuckle back in the mid-80s when they'd read Pravda reports from the front in Afghanistan.

As I said on the day our DSL was fixed, I've been listening to a lot of internet radio lately, mostly picking from among the many options in the Winamp radio list. The station I listen to the most is SOMA FM's "Indie Pop Rocks" since it consistently plays the kind of obscure would-be pop music I prefer. The music is often so obscure that I can't even find it on KaZaA Lite.
I remember when the rules for webcast compulsory licensing were being drafted and I vividly recall how the little webcasters protested that the exhorbitant fees being considered would destroy their stations. Like every regulatory component the music industry has asked for, it got those licensing rules. Evidently, though, the predicted death of webcasting never came. In the case of Indie Pop Rocks, I get the feeling that arrangements have been made with the individual artists whose music they play such that no money changes hands. This would account for the obscurity of the bands, many of whom are pleased just to be heard. The most familiar music I've heard on Indie Pop Rocks has been Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr., Guided by Voices, Badly Drawn Boy, Sonic Youth, Pavement, White Stripes, and Superchunk. They must have a huge playlist, because I don't think I've ever heard the same song twice on this station.
It's been a great way to discover music. Some weeks ago I wrote about Sunny Day Real Estate. More recently I stumbled into a band called Ladytron, my latest obsession. Ladytron is straight forward rock-pop sung with beautiful female voices over lush layers of proto-electronica, much of it sounding as if it was performed on vintage synths from the 1980s. The lyrics are unusually repetitive even for a pop song, but they're so good they never get irritating. Here's what I mean (from the song "Playgirl"):

Hey playgirl, hey playgirl
Northern lights catch you coming down
Sleep your way out of your hometown
Hey playgirl, hey playgirl
Northern lights catch you coming down
Sleep your way out of your hometown

Other favorites include "Blue Jeans" amd "Paco!"

Mary Purdy came up from New York City today and in the evening she, Gretchen, and I went out to dinner at Luna 61, a vegetarian restaurant in Red Hook (across the Hudson). As usual for my ordering habits in vegetarian restaurants, I got the tempeh reuben (only because it was available). It was great, but it wasn't quite as great as the Rosendale Café's open faced reuben or, for that matter, the closed-faced Mother Earth's Storehouse reuben.
Gretchen and Mary were very excited about Luna 61. It wasn't just the delicious selection of food that had them going. It was also the cozy, tasteful, and (most importantly) adult atmosphere. They nearly made plans to come back again tomorrow for brunch.

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