Category Archives: Politics

Musicians Scoring Famous Talks and Speeches (MSFTS)

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Holy geez.
This night was more than special.
Tuesday, January 20th Phog Lounge held a group of musicians willing to put themselves on the line.
They knew they’d be playing to some famous speeches, but they didn’t know which ones.

I thought I knew what I was doing.
I had twelve speeches ready, loaded, prepared to go.
I wish I had done more research into the length of the speeches. I was telling the musicians that the speeches were 8 minutes long, unless they were longer, like, 18 minutes.
Well, the first speech was 25 minutes or longer, and the second was almost 40 minutes long!
The bands were expecting one thing, and then being forced to persevere and give it all they had to last the length of an entire set on one song!

The musicians were:
Martin Schiller and Kyle Marchand of What Seas, What Shores.
Adam Rideout of Yellow Wood
Stephen Hargreaves of Not_Digital
Stefan C. formerly of Oh Vanya
Chad Howson of Another Saturday Knight

The speeches aren’t perfectly represented here…recorded from the bar, there are some interruptions…technical and otherwise, but minor at worst. These speeches are MORE than worth listening to, and I am extremely grateful for the musicians who volunteered themselves to come out an perform in this way…exposed…brutally exposed.

Speaking with some of the people in attendance, it was the icing on the cake for their day, as it was held on the same day as Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. Others said that, at first listen, Obama’s speech was ordinary and uninspiring. But on the second listen, with a military drum beat and an emotional synthesized landscape of transitions, the speech came to life and was worthy of the praise being given it on the news.

It will happen again. It must.
I just hope the talented musicians (veterans now) come and participate in the next one.

Here’s the first speech of the night:
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Ronald Reagan- Tear Down This Wall – June 12, 1987 in West Berlin, Germany
performed by Stephen Hargreaves, Chad Howson, and Stefan C.

VIDEO FROM SAMANTHA COOPER!!! JUST ADDED! Thanks Samantha! Jump to 3:00 to get past my mumbo-jumbo…

Phog Speech – Ronald Reagan in Berlin from samantha maryann on Vimeo.

Second speech:
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Richard Nixon – Resignation Speech – August 8, 1974 in Washington, DC
performed by Martin Schiller and Kyle Marchand

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Save File: nixons__resignation_speech.m4a

Third speech:
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This one has a little gap, where my batteries died, without warning. I stitched it together as best I could.
Martin Luther King Jr. – I’ve Been To The Mountaintop – April 3, 1968 (the day before his assassination) in Memphis, Tennessee
performed by Adam Rideout and Stefan (electronic)

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Save File: ive_been_to_the_mountaintop.m4a

Fourth and final speech:

2009 Inaugural Celebration. Washington D.C. National Mall thanks to Geoeye.com

2009 Inaugural Celebration. Washington D.C. National Mall thanks to Geoeye.com


Again, there was an issue with this speech that the performers played through. The streaming video of the speech was slow, and choppy.
So, there was some overlapping, and I again, did my best to stitch it together.
Barack Obama – Presidential Inauguration Speech – January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC
performed by Stephen Hargreaves and Stefan C.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Save File: obamas_inaugural_presidential_speech.m4a

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Green Shift in Detroit?

picture-5I listen to Detroit Today (on WDET 101.9FM) most mornings. It’s right in my wheelhouse between my writing hour and my Phog band-booking hour.
Today, from the time I turned on the stereo, Quinn Klinefelter was interviewing Rick Bowers. The City of Detroit has created its first office of Energy and Sustainability. Rick Bowers is the new chief of that project.

I was audibly laughing in my living room (even being stuffed-up) because they were talking about bringing green collar jobs to Detroit, and how incredibly attractive the City of Detroit is to people wanting to make these changes. I laughed because their conversation consisted of precisely the bits I was able to cram into my little Windsor Star article the other day.

And for some reason, I doubt that Quinn Klinefelter will get the responses I got on the Windsor Star website such as:

We need to abolish the WTO and NAFTA. Then we can start a green industry. The way China keeps its regulations illegally low compared to us makes it so all manufacturing goes there. E-waste goes there, so why wouldn’t “green collar” jobs? We are overlooking the structural problems in our country and think that environmentalism will solve it all when it has nothing to do with it. The bankers control everything with their fractional reserve banking.

or

To Tom: Manufacturing will never stay here because labor can be done cheaper in China. What we need is to setup recycling plants here to recycle e-waste, but right now that stuff goes to China. We have to take care of the financial structural imbalances (China’s keeping their currency/labor/enviro laws lower than ours) before we dream of setting up a green industry. Wake up Tom. We do not buy your humanist agenda to depopulate the city of Windsor thru scaling down.

or

Global warming is a fraud. Tens of thousands of scientists signed the oregon declaration to prove it. The earth goes thru cold and hot spells and this is normal. Water vapor is more of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is, but you know why they chose carbon? Because you breathe it! Eventually they will tax life itself if we get a carbon tax. Don’t be an extremist, please.

or

The green concept is based on putting the economy first, like to building a park to save it (instead of just letting it be.) By that (foolish) definition, that won’t work after the “big 3” leave. Ironically though, the air will be cleaner, and the poor will still be poor.

I mean, these comments are completely welcomed, as they get conversations started, but I have an extremely hard time getting into the mind-space of these people. I mean, when you hear about people wanting to bring green collar jobs to Windsor or Detroit, how can you think of China? Green industry jobs (installing solar panels, cleaning up toxic spills, landscaping/urban gardening, organic farmers, tidal/wind/solar energy farm technicians, etc.) are grassroots in design. Green thought is local thought. If a green energy push is made, China is the last place people are looking to go IF (big if) they have an infrastructure and a willing local government to implement these kinds of objectives.

Sure they make TONS of solar panels in China. No one here has made enough of a push to lure in these companies. Bitterfeld Germany certainly has, and look at them!

I think people find an issue they have a feeling about, and then they try to connect any given topic or story to their agenda, and then they harp on it at every chance. They have a pre-formed view of anything “green” and when they see it pop up, they go into their mantra about NAFTA, China, or what-have-you. You can’t please everyone, I get it, but to go off on a tangent about the WTO and NAFTA, when what I’ve written is clearly about is self-sustainability using local people to create LOCAL solutions…People are so funny!

I thought it was funny that this discussion was happening on WDET, which for some Star readers, might be a “more legitimate source” than some kid on The Scene page. I just wish that more Windsorites were dialed-in to this movement, which is not as hidden and unknown as it once was in the past. What can I do to make this clearer? Deliver the New York Times to every house in the city for free for a week so they can see how many of these positive changes are happening…written by the most reputable news source I can think of?
Who knows?

To hear more about this idea of greening the crappier parts of the country…the hurting urban spaces…see Majora Carter’s TED Talk here

But beware naysayers!!! There are NEW IDEAS on this website! Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!
By the way, this is one of the best websites I have ever visited.

Me-dia, and why Gus Morin fascinates me.

photo-12photo-13The images above are crude computer-camera photos of a postcard.

But they’re so much more than just a postcard. With a nod to the printer, Jen Kimmerly of Standard Printing, these postcards are so sharp looking, it reminds me of the scene in American Psycho when the executives (including the psycho – Christian Bale) get together and start comparing business cards. They notice the variations of white (ha!) and the ribbing of the paper…the tooth of the fibre. And the psycho can’t stand to see a card other than his looking so exquisite.

When I see something that Jen is printing for Gus Morin, I get like that. I want to run away instead of seeing something so good that I am not engaging in myself.

This postcard is Gus’ way of saying, “Broken City.”

The problem I face when trying to explain something Gus has done is misrepresentation because he is usually thinking on so many levels, and so many steps ahead of me (and everyone else) that it is often better to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

You see, Gus was in Phog the other night, and we were discussing the media, and how unreliable it can be due to advertisers wishes and influence. I always make clear that my piddly existence supplying the Windsor Star with freelance stuff has been very nonrestrictive, yet I see an inexcusable amount of omissions of REAL news from various papers, magazines, and TV news every day.

Gus, ahead of the curve, calls bullshit when he sees it. He actually screams it ,whether in person or on paper. His postcard says a lot more than you might think at first. He’s clearly saying that the old is out. The car companies have had their run. Tires = zero. Windsor is sick, and the money we bathed in because of the auto industry is drying up, going away, and so will we if we don’t sharpen up.

These postcards are Gus’ blog. He sits and pens them out to media outlets, people of “importance” and “circumstance” at a rate of one-per-twenty-minutes. This connection with the paper, the pen, his thoughts, is a special ritual. He loves it. He knows that in the digital age, he is connecting with “media releases” (postcards) that NO ONE ELSE is taking the time to write, let alone design. Gus is also a visual poet, and a collage-maniac. The design on these postcards, I can assure, took a lot of thought and time to make.

So he writes, and he writes, and he mails, and he mails. He knows the Canadian mail system back to front, and he’s a big fan of the US Postal system because of the money saved by sending his postcards FROM the US to the US, saving many, many dollars (including border tolls) by refraining from sending them in Canada. His messages are important, and eloquent, and when it comes to budgeting for your passion, I am full force in favour of him taking his dollar to the US if it makes the difference between Gus getting the message out or not getting it out.

So he decided to read a sample of the postcard he had written to the media. It was brilliant, as usual, and I practically needed a thesaurus to understand what he was saying, but in it’s essence, he was crying out for help, for reform, for a paradigm shift in the media to wake up and cover the death of a city.

The failure of the Big 3 is a sore spot with Gus, but not for the reasons many would think. So, he makes it very clear in his postcards.

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It is his own media. Me-dia. It is his editorialized news story (no different from any packaged news story, with a slant, and a clear viewpoint. He has reclaimed the mail in the name of justice in the way a radio-hopeful, desperate to express themselves, uses a pirate signal to project.

Gus, no stranger to oppression and struggle, is an artist and writer. His voice is a beacon of reason, and often times an outrageous anarchistic breath of fresh air. What I mean by that is…at least he cares enough to say something outrageous (to my senses) in order to convey his disdain for the way things are being mismanaged. He is every bit a Broken City Lab of his own. He just does it all offline, which in a way is awesome and very Gus-like…but I wonder what he could illicit in people being online in a big way. Who am I kidding? If he’s given this thought, he knows the best avenue for his his mind and talents. As a quick sidebar…Gus once set out to send 1000 postcards to many people, from his huge list, as an art project, an outreach, a correspondence, and who knows what else? Like I said, I fear I will misrepresent this unique genius. He got about 800 of them sent, which is UNREAL!!! 800 postcards in one year!? Ha! I couldn’t do 800 blog posts in a year if I was being paid!

Back to his note. His postcards. They’re all different. Even when he has a common campaign like this, asking the media to shed light on something that needs to change, his individual letters are composed like a new letter each and every time! And he doesn’t send five of these things…he sends 50, or 60, or 100! I don’t know if I could do that for my convictions. I can’t say that I’d find the time to write that much for a cause, if I had to HAND WRITE IT EVERY TIME!

Let this be an instigator to bubble something up inside of you…to bring an idea to the fore, to see light of day, because it means too  much to you to squander…no matter how much work it takes to manifest.

In finishing, I just wanted to show you what passion looks like. It looks like a postcard with red ink, a nice tooth, and focused (democracy-defining) writings and pleadings…and a stamp.

Technology, Creative Culture, and the Gap in Between

I spend my working nights around people who have ideas.

They’re always running their mouths about politics, art, music, religion, and regularly reaching an audience of one. Or two or three. Maximum.

“Why don’t you blog this or post this kind of information somewhere?” is what I respond with, pleading. But I know it will not happen, not unless I install computer terminals in the bar, at my cost, and eventually take these brilliant people over to the device, create accounts for them, and maybe even toss their hands at the keyboard. Like trying to start a motor-boat, it might take a couple of tries.

I, for the life of me, can not understand why, in Windsor, there is such a huge disconnect between the creative class and technology. Is it this way in other places?

I’ll give you another example of where I have been faced with hurdles of disbelief when trying to communicate in tech terms.

Bands rumble through Phog Lounge, where I work and book bands. There’s a disproportionate amount of Mac computers accompanying them on their journeys. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a PC brought in by anyone except my business partner Frank. And if he heard I was Twittering, he’d make a pee-joke.

I came to learn that a major reason they have Macs is because they have some fairly fantastic musical applications, allowing bands to do all sorts of things they could not do otherwise. It wasn’t as if they were doing any open source programming, or anything (which I have never and will never do myself). I just assumed that because they had a superior product, they’d be a little more forward thinking technologically, and maybe even be keeping tabs on the web applications being designed monthly to make their lives easier.

When I started reading about Twitter, Pownce (now dead), Digg, Skype, Google Reader, YouTube, Blip.tv, Seesmic, WordPress,  (the list is unending) I clearly saw how those tools could help my business, and possibly even my freelance writing/radio career (whenever that comes). Where did I hear about these tools? My friends and family primarily told me, as they saw the same usage I did. Dan Misener (good friend) has told me about tons of new programs, and my brothers Rodd and Todd have dumped LOADS of web apps on me in the past year alone.

Without discussing the usefulness of these apps, or how quickly they become obsolete, moved out by better apps, there is really no excuse for musicians and promoters, artists, and designers to be so clueless. Aside from Facebook, Myspace, and Flickr, there’s an incredible self-handicapping happening locally on the web and about the knowledge of the web.

“Twitter? What the hell is that?” I have heard countless times, or at least they make crooked, pained faces of confusion.

“Well, let’s put it this way…you sign up under the name of the band, and you then get people you know (that love your band) to join and FOLLOW YOU, much in the same way they do on Facebook and Myspace…and when you send a micro-blog (140 characters or less) everyone who cares…can see it. Soooooo, if you have a show starting, you can let people know that you’re going onstage in 25 minutes. Forgetful fans can make a snap decision and run out to your show. Or you could use it to inform people that you just finished writing a new song, or that you’ve just posted live footage from that concert you played last month in Montreal. It’s another way to connect. You know your Facebook status? Yeah? Well, you can set up your Twitter account to update your Facebook status WITH your Twitter posts so ALL of those people are getting the crucial updates you feel worthy of sharing.”

This is usually followed by a body-posture that tells me this is WAY too much work to engage fans. And within a week of this chat, they will be back in front of me, bitching that the turnout for their show was less-than-desired. I just say, “Twitter? No? Oh.”

I’m no tech-freak either. I just use the stuff that’s useful. And with my arcane knowledge, I remember telling musicians about Flickr a couple of years ago, WAY after it was a regularly used web app, and these wonderfully gifted photographers were looking at me like I had two noses. How does the arts community live in a vacuum related to tech? Shouldn’t they be pioneers? Early adopters? Shouldn’t they be gentrifying these programs like they do with low-rent, start-up communities? Aren’t the creative class a grassroots movement, known for doing things BEFORE everyone else? Aren’t the creative classes of other cities kicking our technologically-atrophied asses!

I would think that connectivity would be the rule, THE RULE, for someone trying to share their talents, gifts, and ideas for change. I mean…Obama’s people were on Twitter before my underground-ers. And it isn’t like it’s a secret that Obama’s web presence was a huge factor in reaching undecided (independent) voters. But then again, if my customers aren’t hearing about Twitter, I have a feeling they aren’t hearing about (or tuning out) when the news shares info of Obama’s tech prowess.

Anyone have ideas of how I could be helping these bands increase their profile, even if it’s just to connect to its current fans, without trying to become “the next thing”?

I see so much opportunity for the unique, clever, useful, and brilliant ideas, art, and concepts to get into the masses, but I am having the toughest time bending anyone’s ear toward tech.

Should I have a technology night at Phog? Should I get a presenter for each of these ultra-useful web apps to come in and walk people through registration, use, and upkeep on the projection screen? Would people come to get informed? Maybe they would. Then they could weed out all of the superfluous apps they have no current need for, and go home and get going on the ones they could actually use!

Yes.

This is going to happen.

Stay tuned for dates.

Broken City Lab on NIMBY

picture-41In what will likely be one of many posts about Broken City Lab, I will simply leave you with the content I have collected.

What is Broken City Lab? Well…

A collection of artists/activists who see a broken city in front of them, and use their creativity to interact with the people, groups, bureaucracy, items, places, and mediums necessary to make things less broken. It’s art-through-action. When speaking to Justin Langlois, the guy who decided to get this group together, I was astounded, amazed, proud, and appreciative of the concept and eventual action this group represents. Langlois said something like, “I began to realize that my art could be this…this action…this sharing of concepts to make things better instead of making paintings…” I’m paraphrasing. But if you watch the videos below and listen to his interview on this week’s installment of Not In My Backyard (Tuesdays at noon on CJAM 91.5FM in Windsor/Detroit), you will hear him communicate this clearer.

Here’s the CJAM interview on Not In My Backyard (NIMBY)!

And as usual, there is a TON of extra content on the videos where Justin is able to talk about some of the other projects Broken City Lab is looking at starting.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1565756&dest=-1]

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1566332&dest=-1]

To find out more, go to brokencitylab.org where there is a regularly updated blog with awesome info.

As a further added bonus, check out the blog post that Justin made after taking part in the Big Walk.

Van Jones…Green Job Enthusiast

I read a blog I found out about recently from the writer himself (he commented on this blog in the past). His name is Peder.

His blog feels very similar to mine, except he’s from the US.

His post, recently, was about economic “happenings” in the US, and about the beliefs of a man named Van Jones, founder of Green For All…a green-collar-job promoter.

I am simply borrowing his post, forwarding it to you, and in the same breath, informing you of his blog address and encouraging you to check it out.

http://pederhanson.wordpress.com/

That’s the address. Visit often. And thanks Peder for writing about this Oakland-based inspiration.

Here’s Peder’s post:

“A recent article by syndicated New York Times columnist David Brooks got me thinking about the way our government has been spending our money. We’re all aware of the $700+ billion package intended to loosen credit markets which has done little of that up to now. As if that’s not enough, President-elect Obama has stated his desire to see further short-term stimulus packages, either in the final months of Bush’s term or the first months of his own.

This year our federal spending has increased 13.8% over last year, driven in large part by an 18% increase in military spending (bottom of linked article). In spite of this historic credit and economic crisis, the US government has no problem spending money, and will borrow without apparent limit to do so.

But the spending is misplaced. Over the last five weeks the financial sector bailout money has paid for executive bonuses and lavish corporate conferences, and funded the purchase of other banks. It has not loosened up credit markets or relieved individuals’ financial stress, in spite of a recent spat of historic interest rate cuts. The lesson: Banks are greedy. Greenspan has admitted he underestimated this reality. And it’s time for us to quit giving all our [future generations’] borrowed [Chinese] money to them.

Really, we should probably be saving our money right now; tightening our belts, spending less and saving more. But if we’re going to spend it anyway (and this is the point of the David Brooks piece) let’s spend it on something with a lasting, long-term legacy for our nation. Brooks says we should spend it on a National Mobility Project, which has merit; he cites good reasons in his article. But I have another idea.

Van JonesI’d like to introduce you to Van Jones. If you haven’t yet heard of him, he’s an Oakland-based activist, author and founder of Green For All, an organization that promotes “green-collar” jobs and opportunities for the disadvantage. He’s a very talented speaker and motivational leader. In a series of blog posts published by the Huffington Post, Mr. Jones proposes a series of investment priorities into electricity production and building retrofitting programs which will (1) reduce our energy consumption and reliance on foreign-produced, carbon-emitting fuel sources, and (2) provide jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors that can employ disadvantaged and lower-educated individuals, and cannot be outsourced or taken overseas. (Unfortunately, ever the salesman, Van’s posts come across as sales-oriented. His either selling his book or his foundation’s program.) Nonetheless, this video will let you hear his ideas in his own words:

His ideas, and the concept of green-collar job creation in general, remind one of FDR’s Public Works Administration, and Jones cites several studies which point to the potential upside to spending that amounts to fractions of what has already been promised by the government in the 3rd quarter of 2008. It’s important to note that the bailout bill passed about a month ago did include some provisions that support clean tech. But they amount to tax policy. I’m talking about an investment program. As you can see below there are many options here, all of which improve our energy efficiency and create jobs.

No Money, No HoneyIt is important to note that government subsidy has to be viewed as a stimulus, not as an income source. That is, before implementing any spending we need to define return on investment projections and set time limits on these expenditures. We can use our money to prime our economic pump, but we need to ensure it addresses the problem it’s intended to solve, has reasonable ROI expectations and lasts a finite period of time. By my count the economic bailout of October 2008 misses on the first two points. And it’s costing us a lot of money. To alleviate the ruin we’ve wrought so far, the best of what I’ve read says we need to require US banking institutions take the money we’ve given them and feed it directly into credit markets.

And if we’re going to spend more money, then let’s invest in this green-collar revolution. To me it just makes good business sense, and it seems we could use some of this in Washington right now.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Which is why I copied Peder’s post in the first place.

Oh-Bama. The best version of the speeches possible…

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Listen up.

Last night at work (Phog Lounge), I had some musicians scheduled to play. They weren’t being paid. The money  made from donations was going to go to a cultural project needing extra funds.

Stupid me forgot, when booking this music, that the elections were on the same night.

Elections = People stay home

So, as quiet as it was during the election, Chad Howson, and another piece of his band, Another Saturday Night, decided that they would play anyway. I thought it was a good idea.

They took the stage for a second set moments before John McCain began giving his concession speech. A surprise to us all. So, as we listened, we watched all of the election coverage on a crackling black and white TV perched on the end of the bar.

Chad had an idea.

He placed a microphone on the speaker of the TV and cranked it.

He then got on the stage, two guys, guitar and drums, and started playing softly over the concession speech of McCain. It was incredible. Why? Well, McCain’s speech was gracious, and it allowed the Obama supporters to see and remember the man who existed BEFORE McCain was instructed to attack. He was his old (pun) self. He was real. And I liked him again.

So, after hearing this live music over the candidate speaking, I decided to be prepared for Obama’s victory speech.

I had the recorder ready, and I got the entire speech with live music (a musical score, if you will) playing in the background. The result is pretty damn AMAZING! I KNOW you will most likely to agree.

There are moments that the musicians feed from the speech and give a sense being felt by myself and others who were excited to see what was happening. Take a moment, listen, and allow yourself to be impassioned by this speech again, but this time, with some indie/instrumental music in the background. It’s so wicked, I am thrilled that I was able to capture this.

Share, share, share!

I think when musicians hear this, they will see the opportunity to make their own Victory Speech Remixes, much like musicians get together en masse to remix, say, Radiohead.

Check it out!

Download it. Share it.

http://www.filedropper.com/obamavictoryspeechphogstyle

The moment of 16:30 in this file is perfect timing which leads to a triumphant end that I have listened and re-listened to over and over again tonight. I am ecstatic for The United States of America…finally.

If you’re interested in hearing the chunk of McCain’s speech in the same style, here it is:

http://www.filedropper.com/partialmccainconcessionspeechphogstyle
I cannot wait to challenge instrumental bands/musicians to come to Phog and freestyle over famous speeches from unknown speakers. Meaning, I will line up a famous speech, and not tell anyone which is being played. The band must react to the voice, like Another Saturday Knight did tonight, and try to make magic. It may be Ghandi. It may be JFK. It may be Martin Luther King Jr. Hell, it may even be a famous, lengthy movie speech!

Look for this event in the near future.