Monday, August 27, 2007

Dancing In The Streets

"The question that motivates this book originates in a sense of loss: If ecstatic rituals and festivities were once so widespread, why is so little left of them today? If the 'techniques of ecstasy' represent an important part of the human cultural heritage, why have we forgotten them, if indeed we have? If we possess this capacity for collective ecstasy, why do we so seldom put it to use"?
-Barbara Ehrenreich

Dancing In The Streets, A History of Collective Joy

No problem for the annual migration of "Burners" that take to the Nevada desert for a bit of "ecstatic celebration" and all sorts of creative foreplay in the process.. All the latest from SFGate here, and from 10 Zen Monkeys here, which includes the silly guy that wanted to "Burn the Man" a couple of days early. Not a good boy...

But what would you expect from such a character?

Everyone else seems to be having a grand old time..

I always thought it might be a bit uncomfortable camping out in the blowing sands for a fortnight with very little else to do but build and burn...but hey, haven't been there, so I will trust it is a tribal thing.

In tech news, the Wikipedia vandals have been found out, and now you know where some of those entries come from, and what happens to them (and by whom). Pretty clever.

Who's afraid of Google? The Economist asks the question, and according to them, plenty of folk. Mainly around privacy concerns, but anytime you have a company that grows that fast, it just has to have some kind of secret agenda. Doesn't it? Simply to organise and rule the world's information, seems fairly innocent enough... Yeah right. It is really a targeted advertising company selling you products aligned with your specific interests that they just happen to know about because of your search history. OK with that?

At least they have got some characters working for them, like this guy, reported in NYTimes, who gets his photograph taken with all the VIP's passing through the
Googleplex. Just an ordinary engineer, eh?

Gotta be a fun place to work, though...

No doubt everyone saw Miss South Carolina give her answer to on a Teen Beauty Contest as to why so many Americans cannot find their way around a map...
It makes Bush seem articulate!

Biopics of famous people, dead or otherwise, have been prolific in recent years, especially in the musician category. Paul Harris in Alternet asks why Bob Dylan himself doesn't play a role in the upcoming movie about his life called I'm Not There. Perhaps he thought 6 actors was enough.

Want to know all about private islands, and the eccentric people that own, inhabit and visit them, for say, up to 8years at a time? Well look no further. Private Islands blog is here.

Pick one up today. And don't forget to invite me around.

Gotta love those Africans.. They are becoming adept at blending culture and technology into a real art form:

Now that's what I call Hands Free!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Under Mouse Arrest

"I will visit a place entirely other than myself.
Whether it is the future or the past

Need not be decided in advance."

-Susan Sontag

A plethora of links, clips bits and bytes of completely unrelated, yet undoubtedly culturally important information on offer today, in case curiosity got you as well as the cat:

That icon of American journalism Bill Moyers, has a chat with Barbara Ehrenreich (author of Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch) as well as Clive James, Australian born cultural critic living in U.K. Lively and entertaining discussions on the state of affairs here, there and just about everywhere. Moyers' PBS show called The Journal, is indeed a worthwhile view, either on the television or the net.

The current state of the Music industry, how it got to where it is, and where it might be heading in this article "off The Record", by Robert Sandall in Prospect Magazine.

A nice little ditty from the SF Chronicle on the beautiful Waimea Falls Canyon on the North Shore of O'ahu, since it has been run by the Audubon Society these last few years. One of my favourite spots, and worth every plaudit.

Why are we so afraid of offending Muslims? asks Christopher Hitchens in online magazine Slate.

Gee, I dunno, maybe it's something to do with being afraid of what we don't understand?

Not to get stuck into politics and World Affairs for too long, there is always that little bit of 40 yr old gossip for ardent music fans about 2 greats: George Harrison, Eric Clapton and their relationship with well, one lady. Patti Boyd tells what she remembers here.

Leave it to good ol' New Zealand to come up with some innovative ideas for getting out there and enjoying the scenic wonders this country has to offer: All the Great Walks are now free for under 18's including great accommodation in the Department of Conservation Huts (DOC). Take it from me, that is a really good deal.

If you are a reader, you will appreciate Venezuela's mobile library that has 4 legs. Great stuff.

A new documentary film entitled Dr Bronner's Magic Soapbox about a one Emmanuel Bronner, a chemist who escaped from a mental asylum and developed his own brand of peppermint soap (as you do) is previewed here on NPR, as well as chat with the director, Sara Lamm.

Staying with the health and food, an interview with Andrew Kimbrell , author of Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and The Secret Changes in Your Food is important. This is not going to go away. Half of the processed food on American shelves has been genetically modified in some form or another. Own the brand, and own the business.

Wiser Earth, Paul Hawken's enormous database of NGO's and environmental activist groups (literally thousands) all on one portal website. Head off wherever your interest and time take you. What a great visionary. His latest book is entitled Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in History Came Into Being, and Why No One Saw It Coming.

Speaks for itself, really.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Being Bob

"There must be some way out of here", said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion", I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, ploughmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

"No reason to get excited", the thief he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late".
All Along the Watchtower

The cynical reviewers harp on about the ageing audience, and lack of intimacy , or the clinical nature of his performances in Bob Dylan's current tour down under. His re-working of the songs, far too many in nearly 50 years of performing to reach everyones favourites, also cops some flak.

None of it matters. Not to him. And not to those who experience the essence of a living legend performing the way an artist does best: with creativity and surprise.
Since when is music just for the young? Yes, each decade I see him is a different show, and each one has a magic all its own. Auckland sold out its first show last night, and after a stint over in Australia, he is due back for two more shows at the end of the month in a small theatre. He must be doing something right for that kind of demand. And for someone who has been called everything from god to the spokesman of his generation, the lyrics say it all:

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

Masters of War

That was Vietnam, now it is Iraq et al. The words mock and they taunt, they make you think. His backup band as tight a R&B unit as you will ever see. No, rock concerts are not as they were 30 and 40 years ago, and a commercial pall hangs around some of the concrete arenas like a bad odour, totally inappropriate for the man who set the tone launching an important cultural revolution in the last half of the 20th century.

He says what he needs to say, plays what he likes to play, and does it with truckloads of class.
For me, that is enough.

Winter creeps slowly along it path towards conclusion in the Southern Hemisphere, with warmer and longer days pointing towards Spring, albeit the skies still frequently showering us heavily, and keeping the ground too wet to work for us growers.

Waiheke Island only has about 7000 inhabitants full time, and in the winter, it is isolated and removed from the mainland by a 30 min boat ride, and everyone feels it. Especially when the weather cancels the ferries, which is not too often.

One of the things I like most about living in a small rural community (at least this one) is the fact that so many people wave as they drive past. I don't know who they are, most of them, but it doesn't really matter. They are saying hi and smiling, content in the knowledge that they too, are experiencing something unique in todays urbanised and industrialised world. there are no traffic lights on this island. No MacDonalds and no Wal Mart. Refugees all of us, it's as if we all have a very special friend in common.


I take the opportunity to embrace the solitude available, and though I have been called a bit of a hermit by more than one of my friends, it is not an exclusionary practice, but one borne out of both desire and circumstance. It certainly has its benefits, not the least of which is an ability to practice the art of living in harmony with my environment, which at times can be a challenge. It's both serene and wild, a small island in a big ocean,
and I don't want to miss any of it. Right now, the clouds hang low and dark, pellets of rain pounding down from one of many showers today, and in between welcome sunny periods to walk and refresh from the onslaught of power that so characterises the natural beauty.

Hare Mai.