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  • Archive for November, 2011

    And the beat goes onnnnn


    2011 - 11.12

    Bear Creek continues to deliver! Just finished watching the new mastersounds, who were in excellent form.  Guest appearances by Robert Walter, Skerik, Roosevelt from the lee boys and more.  Pete’s bass playing was fast and furious tonight, and Simon played those drums with aplomb. 

    Highlights of yesterday were Orgone, who put on the best show I’ve seen from them yet (I’ve seen them 4x), Soulive, and Medeski, who threw it down pretty funky.  Sometimes Medeski can get too avant/abstract for my tastes, but not last night!  Awesome set.

    Galactic had some nice crowd pleasing moments, and Stanton Moore never seems to disappoint, although their sax player still just doesn’t cut through to me.

    Eric Krazno and Chapter 2 tore it apart this morning, including an incredible rendition of the Beatles “Get Back” which culminated in a half-tempo swingin version of the refrain.  That was a treat.  Anxious to listen back to the recordings on that and tonights mastersounds.

    And there’s still more.  Egads!

    Houston, we have landed


    2011 - 11.11

    First show of Bear Creek: Dr. Lonnie Smith.  B3 black magic!  His guitar player is Jonathan Kreisberg!  Sweeeeeeeeet

    Also, the purple hat stage is outdoors this year!  Big improvement, sound-wise from last year.

    Much more to come

    As I fly off to catch the funk, some fly beats from the underground to get it groovin


    2011 - 11.11

    We were riding the subway in NYC when we pulled up to the West 4th street stop and there was this kickass drumming going on when the doors slid open. I listened for a split second and then said to my brother & girlfriend, hey let’s get off for a minute and check this out. My bro was like … YEAH!

    So we step on to the platform and I pull out my admittedly huge camera and the dudes kinda trailed off. They looked at me and said ‘hey we gots to get paid or else we can’t play!’ So I dropped some jazz millions in the collection bucket and told them to keep it rolling.

    True story.


     

    Countdown to the FUNK!


    2011 - 11.10

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

    Bear Creek is imminently upon us! I cannot wait to scope out what badassery it has in store this go-round. I’ve rented some extra camera gear and the emails have been flyin’ fast and furious this week to set up some interviews with musicians. I’ll be chatting improvisational wizardry with Eric Krazno of Soulive fame, riffing with Sam Kinninger about horn lines, and maybe chatting with Karl Denson and/or Robert Walter as well. HOT. DOG. The anticipation and excitement cannot be overstated.

    Those interviews will be filmed so stay tuned in the coming weeks for some heady video of people who know their music.

    Awesomeness guaranteed.

    Happy 77th to the poet of Science


    2011 - 11.09

    It’s Carl Sagan’s birthday today, November 9th. He’d have been 77. Today is a day to rejoice in the legacy he left behind, and maybe to lament his absence just a little too. Like so many other people he’s affected, I have a profound admiration for Carl. It’s hard to pin it down to one reason why, or even a small handful of reasons.

    Today in the news I read that the amusingly-named Russian “Phobos-Grunt” probe (ok, grunt is the Russian word for “dirt”) has apparently stalled in Earth orbit after launch. The probe was supposed to travel to Mars’ Phobos moon and return to Earth with samples of the soil. Roscosmos has a downright dismal failure rate of attempting to send probes to Mars. To the tune of 19 missions with partial sucess at best but mostly outright failures. The record was so lousy that they gave up for the last 15 years. So it’s some combination of ironic and sad that this one should fail too. The engineers still have a chance to get things back on track. We’ll see. But something that sort of sticks out in my mind is that while Russia is the traditional US rival, really we all lose when any attempt at space exploration fails. I think Carl was a big pusher of that kind of thinking. The idea that exploring space is all about expanding the boundaries of human civilization as a whole, about the survival of our species, and about the next leap in our evolution–from sea creatures, to land dwellers, to explorers of other worlds. From that point of view, to think of humanity as a contest of nations seems petty, narrow-minded, backwards. Feudal.

    Another sweet piece of news this week was that the team at JPL has instructed the Voyager 2 probe to switch over to secondary thrusters. The spacecraft radioed back that it had done so successfully. It’s 9 billion miles away and it took 4 days for the command-acknowledgement signal round trip. That’s amazing. The Voyagers have been rocking for 34 years now, older than I am, and still running. What a triumph for all those who worked on the probes; and also for every human. We have probes that have almost made it to interstellar space. Seriously, that’s a milestone for a lifeform. And they both carry a hello message from Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. It’s perfect.

    Maybe if I wasn’t preoccupied with many other things this evening I’d try to make an apple pie from scratch as a tribute. Tonight I need to start packing for Bear Creek music fest, but there will probably be time to sneak in an episode of Cosmos and enjoy some time with Carl, one of the best humans of our times.

    Occupy Microcosmologist


    2011 - 11.07

    So the weekend before last I was in NYC visiting my bro (I still need to compile several time-lapse scenes from this trip!). We visited a bunch of cool places in the Apple and I got some cool pictures of the city. Among the places we went was Zuccoti Park, home base of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It was cool to see people both this amped up and also dedicated enough about their cause to live outside in the freezing New York weather. Saturday there was a particularly nasty triumverate of wind, rain, and snow. Yikes. Anyway enjoy the slideshow.

    Get Fired UP: GTA5 trailer one.


    2011 - 11.04

    There’s a NEW Grand Theft Auto! And it’s going to have stuff in it that’s never been in those other GTAs before! OMG!

    Alright, but seriously. Wait… I’m still not over it yet–Oh. My. God.

    Just check out this trailer.

     

    Aw man, GTA, how I adore thee.

    One thing I definitely look forward to is the launch night. For the past two releases in the series me and my buddy Roberto have made an occasion out of this with an all-night GTA binge. Last time this happened, we were so excited to go pick up the game that on the way out, I forgot to grab my keys… which I then realized after we were locked outside of my apartment building. And my apartment was on the 2nd floor. Rob was like, did you lock your balcony door? Answer: No!–and a high five! Boosted him up with my hands and he climbed over the railing, then came running down the stairs roaring triumphantly. I asked, “So did you get the keys?” and he was like, “Ummm, actually no. I thought I just had to let you back in the building door??” (my apartment door locks behind you!) Solid laughs right here. “So rinse and repeat on the infilitration routine, then?” Good times.

    Another amusing thing that we did was to set our own goals and just forget about the game storyline. For example, when San Andreas came out, the first place we wanted to go on the map was Las Vegas (aka Las Venturas). Sadly, this area is locked at the beginning of the game, inaccessible to even the most obsessed motorist due to barricaded bridges. Hmmm, what to do? Undeterred, we hatched a plan so crazy it just might work: find a tall truck, park it next to the barbed wire fence at the airport, climb the truck, jump the fence, and steal a learjet which we could then fly to Vegas!

    It took many tries. Every step of this process turned out to be more difficult than we’d anticipated. Including the unexpected twist that there were fighter jets that will shoot you down if you stray into locked parts of the map, which we had to evade! But lo and behold, after hours of trying and against the handicap of inebriation, we totally crashed a learjet into the Vegas strip. And it was pretty amazing really.

    It made me pretty excited to see the learjet at the end of the first GTA V trailer, just because it makes me remember our crazy, successful plot to cheat our way into places we weren’t supposed to go. And I also know that stealing this jet is also going to be one of the very top objectives when we get set loose in GTA V!

     

    If this article interested you, check out my winding yarn about what makes GTA so great.

    Only ONE more week until Bear Creek!


    2011 - 11.03

    Oh man. I am fired. Up. Fired up for the FUNK.

    Fired up for the press access, fired up over maybe getting to meet some of these musicians backstage, fired up to take a boatload of pictures, and fired up for the music festival atmosphere.

    As a recap, check out this post with the discussion of Soulive’s performance last year.  AWWW GIT IT!

    If killing Courier was the right thing to do, then why are we all still talking about a non-existent device one year after the project was cancelled?


    2011 - 11.03

    This week CNET published a fascinating two part article on the death of the infamous Microsoft Courier project, which I had rapped about on here previously. It was a maddening walk down memory lane to read; the story of how a categorically innovative product was sacrificed on the altar of “platform synergy” or whatever corporate doublespeak you want to call it.

    The intriguing insider tale of exactly how it all went down reads a little bit like the Empire Strikes Back, with an ending that sees the team you rooted for in defeat and their forces scattered to the wind with their home base destroyed. Peppered around CNET’s analysis and echoed by Ars Technica (among many places I’m sure) are references to the device being “consumer-focused”. I have a beef with this term; it should be “creator-focused”.

    Someone like me, who curates a website, likes to photograph, and is perpetually jotting down ideas, would truly stand to benefit, perhaps dramatically, from the use of a “digital moleskin” like the Courier intended to be. Ars Technica could not be more wrong when they said that killing the Courier was the right move made for the wrong reasons; it was the wrong move made for Microsoft’s own “right” reasons–maybe preserving a product lineup that operates in lockstep with MS Enterprise 2015 is the right decision to keep your users corralled into your tiny little pen, but squashing this hardware that creative types could use for a whole new digital workflow: that’s a defeat for the everyman, no two ways about it.

    It’s not about the device; it’s about what people will do with it. Apple didn’t create Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, nor did they create Filtatron, the Moog synthesizer app; two of the coolest things to do on the iPad. They set up a platform for people to do neat things, and then creative types figured out how to use it, and turned it into the awesomeness that it is now (and wasn’t on day one). In a smiliar way, you can’t foresee the fresh ideas that would have been inevitably spawned on the Courier. If iPad is meant for consumption and Courier was meant for creation, these devices would have been complimentary… everyone loses in its absence. I would probably be using a Courier to collect, organize, and publish content on this blog right now if it existed. That’s just one narrow, specific example.

    The sad part is that only a company like Microsoft, with huge amounts of resources in software and hardware design, could actually manufacture a compact device that combined slick interface design, multi-touch/gesture input, pressure-sensitive stylus input, handwriting recognition, integration with cloud content hosting, seamless web publishing and so forth. I don’t see anyone else making something that offers up the “whole package” like that. Maybe it’ll be another 10 years before someone manages to work up to that level. Maybe one company will never do it, but it will only be possible with a hodgepodge of various services and some DIY know-how.

    In any event, Courier was a tantalizing glimpse into the future by some very forward-thinking people. A vision too far ahead of it’s time–a byproduct of a company with the creative brainpower to shatter the boundaries of what portable electronics could do, but too straightjacketed by legacy products and enterprise strategery to see the real-world potential of what Courier was.

    But whatever. I’ll step off the soapbox. Microsoft will be Microsoft I guess. It’s unrealistic to expect something miraculous from them.