Thursday, October 30, 2008

Found Cartoon - She's Not A Christian

We live in the vicinity of a high school. The local litter has a certain sophomoric cast. I've learned to pick up odd bits of paper in hopes of finding some mind-blowingly perplexing works of ... uh, art.

Previous Mixed Meters found cartoons include Fink and It Looks At The Atom. I also recommend Graffiti Animals of California although those drawing come from a much wider geographic area.

Today's offering is "She's Not A Christian." The title text appears three times. A fourth line reads (possibly) "I'm not a Christian". Speaking as a non-Christian I'm so glad to see religious tolerance is alive in our public schools. Figure drawing, however, may not be part of the curriculum. (Click either picture for an enlargement.)

Found Cartoon - She's Not A Christian
Found Cartoon - She's Not A Christian
Media: unlined notebook paper 7.5" x 10" with unidentified brown and pink stains, black marker and blue ball point pen. There's a lot of bleed through from front to back.

P.S. Apparently the phrase "She's not a christian" originates with the TV Show, Wife Swap. See an excerpt here.

She's Not A Tagger Tags: . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bird Brains of Pasadena 2

You can visit Bird Brains of Pasadena 1 which shows pigeons and a hawk and a poor lost finch and a dead something and the pelican in our kitchen. Later, this post shows the parrot in our kitchen.

Here's a Mockingbird which can be an inspiration to a composer, but it's not much to look at.

Mockingbird in a bush
My little pocket point 'n shoot camera is not a bird watchers dream even with 10x optical. For a long time I've wanted pictures of the wild parrots and the large black crows. Recently I had a couple chances. I met with partial success.

The crows around here are BIG. They are very suspicious of people. They stay out of the sun. And their coloring is so dark that it's hard to distinguish details. That's all bad for taking pictures. This one was Photoshopped to bring out contrasts. The crow flew off a second later. (You can click any picture for an enlargement.)

Crow on pavement
Large flocks of Wild Parrots are noisy. They are descendants of escaped pets. Not unique to Pasadena, there is a movie about wild parrots in San Francisco. Read about the Feral Parakeets of Brooklyn in this WFMU blog post. There's a blog Brooklyn Parrots.

Pasadena CA Wild Parrots in a tree
Pasadena CA wild parrot on a phone wire
A large flock of wild parrots in flight, turning together, all gleaming green in the sun against our bright blue skies is an inspiring sight. These pictures don't do it justice.

Flock of wild parrots in flight, Pasadena CA
Flock of wild parrots in flight, Pasadena CA
Here's the promised picture of the parrot in our kitchen

parrot sculpture with plant in our kitchen
And finally, action photos of hummers.

Hummingbird in a pine tree
Hummingbird in a pine tree
Brain Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why J. Edgar Hoover is still important in 2008

This is the twenty-first Mixed Meters post about politics. It is a review of a book called Young J. Edgar: Hoover, The Red Scare and The Assault on Civil Liberties by Kenneth D. Ackerman, a book which tells an important bit of U.S. history with frightening parallels to recent events.

Young J. Edgar by Kenneth D. Ackerman(Click the cover for larger image.)

The story begins with multiple co-ordinated terrorist attacks inside the United States, all on a single day. The public demands that culprits be caught. We, the public, demand that more attacks be prevented. So government officials target certain groups of people, mostly foreigners with unpopular political beliefs, unfamiliar ethnicity and strange religion.

Desperate to get results, U.S. officials, even the very highest ones, break our own laws. They ignore our Constitution. Their fervent, fanatical determination to catch anyone who might be planning more violence turns out to be a worse crime than the violence itself.

Of course Ackerman's book is about 1919, not September 11, 2001. The suspects are not Arabs or Muslims or members of Al Qaeda. They are Russians and Jews and Communists; Italians and anarchists and members of unions. Any "true" American assumed their guilt; it was just a matter of rounding them up.

Unlike the ongoing aftermath of 9/11, historians can tell us how the Red Scare story of 1919 turned out. The seditious groups were squashed and their remaining members intimidated. The fanatical officials who twisted the laws were eventually exposed and humiliated.

All except one. That person, J. Edgar Hoover, survived like Darth Vader escaping the Death Star. He went on to become America's most powerful secret policeman, head of the FBI. After his death we learned about his many evils.
J Edgar Hoover in Hollywood
Hoover was a mama's boy, a snappy dresser and (probably) a repressed homosexual. Above all he was a workaholic and a highly capable bureaucrat. He started out tracking alien Germans but was soon spying on Commies. With great success he introduced modern information technology (the card catalogue) and communications (long-distance telephone) into law enforcement. He would have loved facial recognition software.

He co-ordinated massive raids (the "Palmer Raids" named after his boss who wanted to be President). Thousands of people were rounded up for sedition. Without doing anything illegal, if you said the wrong things or belonged to the wrong group, you could get hauled away. (I think that's the really un-American part.)

Fortunately, right-minded people prevailed. I hope they prevail again in post-George II America. I hope that the evils perpetrated by our current government, which were intended to protect us but actually weakened us, will be corrected. Based on how little discussion this has gotten during our current election cycle, it's a faint hope.

J.Edgar Hoover with Shirley Temple

No matter who becomes the next president, the George II era will continue to have its effects. Bush has appointed incompetent cronies to important jobs; they were picked for their adherence to right-wing dogmas.

Along with the bozos, however, there are sure to have been some highly capable fanatics who, with heads down and noses to the wind, will manage to keep their jobs. These people are the ones to watch out for. A future J. Edgar Hoover, who was hired to correct the problems he himself caused, might eventually find a way to restart the cycle of repression. We need to watch out for that person right now.

The J.Edgar Hoover Building in Washington DC 
Postscript: Along with the sobering similarities of our recent history with events eighty years before, Young J. Edgar lets us glimpse how society and politics have changed. Here are a few random quotes from the book that made me laugh and/or shudder.

In Chicago, a crowd cheered when a sailor in uniform raised his rifle and shot a man at a victory loan pageant, wounding him for refusing to stand up and take off his hat during the nation anthem. (page 22)

At local theatres, crowds flocked to see Helen Keller, billed as "The Famous Blind, Deaf, and Formerly Dumb Girl," appearing onstage with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, in a musical cabaret called Vanity Fair. (page 320)

[Hoover] requested, ... from the State Department, twelve copies of the pamphlet "The Jewish Peril" or "Ten Protocols," versions of the discredited but still popular Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which Edgar devoured. Even knowing it was a hoax, he found the Protocols so fascinating that he asked the State Department to check on whether six particular Bolshevist leaders were in fact Jewish. (page 342)

An article about cronyism under George II
A Wall Street Journal article about litmus tests at the Department of Justice under George II
Someone else's review of Young J. Edgar
A previous MM post about J. Edgar oover
Read all Mixed Meters' posts labeled Politics, about one out of every twenty.(more to come)

Red Scare Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Should Be Doing Spanish Homework Because It's Due Today, But I Don't Feel Like It

In classic 30 Second Spot fashion the long title of this short quarter-tone piano piece was a sentence spoken by a high school student to no one in particular while he was relaxing at Starbucks before class at the very same moment I was writing music at Starbucks because I did feel like it. He'd probably be mortified to discover that his disinterest had been frozen in time -- immortalized.

It's kind of a non-sequel to the previous 30 Second Spot called Live Chat.

This is Not a Doodle

45 Seconds - Copyright (c) 2008 David Ocker

If you don't feel like listening to this, maybe there's something you would feel like doing intead. Leave a message and tell me what you did instead of listening to "I Should Be Doing Spanish Homework Because It's Due Today, But I Don't Feel Like It"

Homework Tags: . . . . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live Chat

I haven't composed anything in some time - several months at least. And I've been feeling bad about that. There are several nearly finished pieces on the laptop waiting patiently for me. And posting my pieces here was one of the main inspirations for creating Mixed Meters.

One day last week, trapped by the prospect of solving my computer-related technology problems by engaging in a "live chat session" (a horrendously imperfect form of communication the speed of which is dictated by the slowest typist involved) I decided to write a new 30 Second Spot, another horrendously imperfect form of communication.

Railing reflected in a plate glass windowSince I was writing at home not at Starbucks (so it can't be good), I modified the rules of writing 30 Second Spots slightly, as I often do. There were no conversations to overhear; instead, I picked the title Live Chat.

It's only a minute long. It's for a solo piano with one bad string. Part of the ending was inspired by the Stravinsky Octet. Listen to Live Chat now. Listening to it is the easiest way for you to waste the next minute; I know you've got nothing better to do because if you did you'd be doing that rather than reading my blog.

Copyright (c) 2008 David Ocker

Live Tags: . . . . . .

Friday, October 10, 2008

Art Night In The Daytime

Walking down Fair Oaks Avenue this morning I noticed an empty lot which looked like it was straight out of my days in graduate school. You see, there was an art school in the same building as the Herb Alpert School of Music. They did things like this. I stopped by to investigate. A nice man said I could take pictures.

Art Night Pasadena paper sculpture and sign
The most affecting work I saw was a field covered with human skulls and piles of bones. Ceramics. At least I assume they aren't real remains. (UPDATE: The artist's name is Sierra Pecheur.)

Art Night Pasadena skullsArt Night Pasadena skullsArt Night Pasadena skulls
This previous MM post contains pictures of piles of actual human skulls. (Scroll to the end past all the stuff about Nazis and Abu Gharib.) The pictures were taken by Kristina, the friendly barrista, while she was in Cambodia.

Art Night Pasadena bones
The nice man - whose name might have been Jon Lapointe - said that they were preparing for Art Night. And it is TONIGHT! (October 10). Who says Mixed Meters isn't on the ball?

Art Night is when many Pasadena arts organizations provide art for free all at exactly the same time - so people can wear themselves out deciding what to take in and what they must miss. Click here to see a previous MM notice of Art Night.

In addition, he said this particular empty lot was part of Side Street Projects ( which in turn is part of the Armory Center for the Arts (UPDATE: Wrong!! See Jon's comment at the end of this post.)

Art Night Pasadena Armory Center Trailer
Furthermore, John said this particular exhibition was "off the grid". There were large solar panels. To make sure things would work properly all electrical devices were being turned on while I was there.

Art Night Pasadena Solar CellsArt Night Pasadena Compact Florescent Lamp
This included the fan for an inflatable sculpture called Butt Man. I wonder why it's called that.

Art Night Pasadena Butt Man
Traffic is always a problem in Los Angeles.

Click any picture for an enlargement. Sorry, but I didn't find out the name of some of these pieces or the names of the artists. If you know, please consider leaving that information in a comment. Thanks.

Here's another recent MM post about an Armory Center art project in Pasadena. And about ice cream.

UPDATE: A Response from Jon LaPointe (whose title is Creative Director of Side Street Projects)
hey man, thanks so much for the kind words and great photos!

one detail clarification: we are NOT part of the armory, we're our own 501c3 nonprofit. the armory loaned us their airstream for artnight to house a video/audio installation by doug henry and joe potts. side street projects & the armory are simply good friends and we collaborate and share resources with one another quite often.

come on by & visit us anytime. thanks again!
Find this "empty" lot yourself:
730 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA
(...the NE corner of Fair Oaks & Orange Grove,on the vacant Lot behind Church's Fried Chicken)

Art Day Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Drummer Replaced By A Machine

Recognize this tune?.

Of course you do; even though this midi sequence is just the chord progression. But it represents my first encounter with a venerable, senior composer.

Back in my high school years I performed in my home town summer concert band, the Sioux City Municipal Band, Leo Kucinski, bandmaster. We played two Sunday concerts - one in Riverside Park (actually near a river) and the other in Grandview Park Bandshell (a tiny Hollywood Bowl clone).

Every year this guest artist would come and conduct his most famous work. His name was David Bennett (I can't find any web link about him personally). His was my first image of how a composer looked and acted. Can you say "stereotype"? Of course you can.

Much more recently - like last week - my friend Wildman (yes, that's what we call him) sent me a wonderful YouTube link of Sweet Georgia Brown.

Wildman is a drummer. We went to graduate school together and were housemates. He used to drive many miles every day through Los Angeles traffic to play in a Top 40 band at a hotel in the City of Industry. Or was it in Commerce?

Wildman knows that drummers can be replaced by machines. But usually not machines like this one. It even does some basic drum breaks.

What does this have to do with composer David Bennett and his hit tune Bye Bye Blues? Just watch the whole video.

Previous Mixed Meters Mentions of My Home Town.

This MM article about growing up listening to Mahler has a picture of the Grandview Park Bandshell and another of my father and me in our band uniforms holding our horns.

Update: Wildman confirms that his Top 40 Band gig was in City of Commerce. He wrote:
I still have the silvery white jumpsuit with rhinestones and matching jacket but lost the white patent leather shoes.
Remember, that was in 1976. Just imagine!

Bye Bye Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .