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Thus far, I haven’t written anything political or controversial in
this log. It’s all been pretty standard day to day stuff. In posts on
Dueling Modems I have been debating with a
few people the question of whether or not downloading of free files
(music via MP3, free books) hurts the livelihood of the creators. My
belief (just my belief – if we had facts we wouldn’t all be arguing)
is that they do not. Here is a post I made on that subject, slightly
edited to remove some of the personal remarks between myself and the
person I was responding to and make it more of a statement of my
philosophy. I was going to edit out every personal you/me type of
remark, but just pretend I am addressing all affected creators, and
they are the “you”. I’ll still be the “me.” Alle ist klar, kommisar?

No one has all the answers. We are still miles away from even having all
the questions. We are all fumbling around here. Please please please,
understand that doesn’t mean I want to see your livelihood
impaired. It is my gut feeling that in a world where less friction is
spent fighting free downloads, you would make more money. I’d rather
see all the money spent in fighting them (via the expense of DRM,
opportunity costs of sales not made, etc) go straight into your pocket.

I keep mentioning this stuff because some people are finding success in
making free downloads work for them. Janis Ian seems to have, the
musicians I know are having varying of degrees of success with it. I’m
not a wild-eyed “Intellectual property is theft” slashdotter and I’m not
advocating anyone doing anything without the permission of the rights
holder(s). However, I think loosening up might very well make y’all more
money. I don’t know this and cannot provide you with evidence for it,
but I feel it in my rheumatism. I also feel there are benefits that the
rights holder get that we have no models to describe or measure, an
“enthusiasm” value that increases when people have cheap or free access
to some of their work.

Here’s one example: I preordered
Aimee Mann’s new album
this week. Right
now, I can hear the entire thing for free via her website. Its in high
quality RealAudio files, but with about an hours worth of work a dork
like me could create my own audio CD that would have better audio
quality than a cassette copy of the CD. Why did I order the CD rather
than doing that? A variety of reasons, hard and soft, that include:

  • It cost $15 and 2 minutes to order it. The value of my time that it
    would have taken to burn an illicit copy far exceeds that cost

  • The CD includes a booklet with illustration by Seth, an artist I like
  • A bonus CD with unreleased tracks is included for those who preorder
    (also a reason for buying now rather than later)

  • I like Aimee Mann and want her to continue putting out albums, rather
    than quitting and going into advertising jingles

  • Burnt CDs are cheezy and I’d rather have the “real thing”
  • It would be a hassle and not be fun
  • I give her extra credit for the way she has stuck her middle finger
    out at the major labels and that’s worth some money to me

I believe that this great loss of money you are worried about is a
bugaboo to keep power in the hands of the same plutocrats who at best
don’t help writers much and at worst rob them blind for their entire
careers (and y’all have it good compared to the indentured servitude of
major label musicians.) I think you as a writer would be better off with
a system that would force publishers to be more efficient, to not have
sales forces claim “But I can’t sell a book about that”, with a market
place with lower friction. It is my belief that, ala Jack Valenti
fighting against VCRs in 1980, the world you are fearful of is one that
will be better for you and that will increase the market. I could be
wrong but dear god I hope I’m not.

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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is another one I
have to hedge a little on the major label front. They are the amazing
Primus! These guys have an amazing collection of their bootlegs available on the site, and they
have for many years. They rotate them through – there are currently
15 full concerts up there. Good god! Les Claypool is
an amazing musician, and he really seems to be exercising his Pink
Floyd fetish. One of the bootleg shows is from the Fearless Frog
Brigade tour where they played a bunch of 70’s and 80’s prog rock
including doing the entire Floyd Animals album. Dave
says “Thumbs up, Primus!!”

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Technology TopicI’ve got the borrowed wireless card in the laptop now. It’s
kind of disappointing to set it up when you have no immediate network
to join, kind of like buying a fax machine in 1987 and having no one
to call. I’m taking it to work and seeing what it does
there. According to some online sources, The Red Light Cafe by Piedmont
Park has a wifi access point. Perhaps I should go have a latte there
and check it out. I haven’t been there in years, and every time I’ve
gone there was to see live music. I’m a little amazed they are still
in business after, what eight years? The half-life for
bars/restaurants/coffee houses in Atlanta is about 1 year.

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Music TopicOK, so Sonic Youth is today’s band of the day. I found a technicality
– I really don’t need loopholes when I make the rules, but I have one
anyway. Lee Renaldo has MP3s available under
his section
of
the main SY website
. Lee has always done a lot of these
experimental guitar things. I remember seeing a copy of a project
entitled Barefoot in the Head come through WREK a
decade ago. It caught my eye because of the Brian Aldiss novel from
which it took its title, but it was one of these Renaldo improv guitar
noise things and was very intriguing. I’m listening to “Outside my
Window” right now, and I like it. I think I might excerpt it and stick
it into WREK automation.

Rock for the aged

I was willing to go rock out tonight as well, to
see Atlanta musician David Ryan Harris. Once a month, he has what
isn’t billed as a show, but a “social.” He brings nametags and
everything, so that it’s more like a gathering of friends than a concert.
He sent a message to his mailing list that it would be tonight, and we
were geared and willing to do it, but now it turns out it will be next
week. This used to be what my lifestyle was 15 years ago, seeing bands
3 or 5 or 7 nights a week. It’s hard to maintain that when you get
old.

Orders

I plumb forgot that I was reordering how I did the weblogging, and
doing new entries at the top. I rearranged the nonconforming entries
so they are all back up to spec. Everything is fine with BlogMax
except that the upload-month command has stopped rewriting several of
this month’s days. I’ll have to look into that.

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So I rocked out last night, and I’m not in too bad
of shape now. The show ended relatively early, so I was at home by
12:15 AM. I didn’t get to bed that much later than I usually do. Sonic Youth was good, noisy
fun. They didn’t play “Teenage Riot” or “Mary Christ” but they did
play “Candle”, “Kissability” and “Silver Rocket” from Daydream
Nation
and “Kool Thing” from Goo. All in
all, a good investment. The Vortex was quite good, and I bought the CD
of Daydream Nation at Criminal, replacing the worn
cassette I have played 1000 times. That Ragin’ Cajun burger and cheese
dip was the
end of the line, today I start working on losing weight.

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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is
Jill Sobule
. You may have heard her one hit, “I Kissed a
Girl”. That’s a great song, but she is about much more than that. I
saw her open for Warren Zevon a year or two back and she put on a
great show, just her and her guitar. I hadn’t checked on her website
in a few months, and when I went back today, I see that she has really
beefed up her MP3
download page
. Wow! On top of that, she has a song called “Mexican
Wrestler” about wanting to put on the mask and become someone else
(and beat up a truculent lover.) I love it.

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Tonight is the night, Sonic
Youth
is playing at the Variety Playhouse. I
believe we’ll be making a Little 5
Points
night of it. First, we’ll be eating at The Vortex (where I
will get a “Ragin’ Cajun” burger not unlike what I used to eat in
Lafayette), then we will browse and shop at
Criminal Records
where I’ll be looking for an album by yesterday’s band of the day, The Gentle Readers. I might
also pick up the graphic novel of Road to Perdition
while I am there. After that, Darlene heads home and I go to rock at
SY. I would have liked it if she wanted to go as well, but she
really didn’t. Part of the deal was that for my birthday celebration,
I go to the show and for her’s, she doesn’t have to go to the
show. Sounds like a pretty good evening to me anyway.

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Back home after our power trip to Augusta. Much cooing and googooing
and other baby fun was had by all. I was quite the baby hog, and sang
to her quite a bit, mostly “Two of Us” by the Beatles and
“Hallelujah”, the Leonard Cohen song. I also fed and burped, the only
man present who seemed to want to do this. I’m in touch with my
caretaker nature!

Music TopicToday’s band of the day is a new discovery for me. This year,
on Superbowl Sunday we went to
Eddie’s Attic
in Decatur to a benefit show for Circle of Grace
Church. There were a lot of great bands (including one that I’m
keeping up my sleeve for a killer future BOTD). Yesterday’s band, Michelle Malone played, as did the
fabulous Gentle Readers. I
remained flummoxed at how I missed hearing about this band. They are
unbelievably good. We picked up their album You in Black and
White
and still need to get their most recent. I must have
listened to YIB&W one hundred times since January. Their record
company has MP3s available for YIB&W and
their newest one Hi
Honey
. Seriously, check out the song “California” and listen to
the lyrics. They are all about getting screwed by record companies! In
this RIAA driven world, this song gets more relevant every
day. Besides that, it is catchy as all hell! This band is an A-one,
bonafide wonderful group. I wish I had the cash to buy $10,000 worth
of their records. I have been avoiding buying Hi
Honey
at a records story, hoping I could buy it at a show and
give them all the cash. I don’t think I can wait any longer,
though. Maybe I’ll just buy it and hand them a $20 when I see them.

New Experience (after all these years)

Music TopicThe band today is special for me, and I’m picking her because
she is within a month of the same age as me (we’re both aging pretty
well, I think.) She is Michelle Malone. She’s a
staple of the Atlanta music scene, and one of my most favorite
songwriters and performers. When I was turning 21 (and she was too),
she performed every Saturday night at the White Dot in midtown
Atlanta. I went to nearly every show. I later booked her on Live @
WREK and basically did everything I could in my meager way to spread
the faith. I still absolutely adore her music. Here is her MP3
page at MP3.com.
Listen to “Avalon”, an absolutely fabulous song,
one of my favorites of all time.

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Is it just me or does a lot of what mainstream blog
culture consist of is some kind of big cybernetic Ponzi scheme? A lot
of the logs seem to point to other people pointing to cool things,
etc. Why is this, and how the hell do I get into the scheme? Link to
me!

Music TopicI’m bending my own rules. It’s my party! Today’s musician of the
day is Aimee Mann. Although
she doesn’t have MP3s available to download, you can get a nice
quality streaming feed of every song on her upcoming
album. Jesus Christ, this is how you do it! You big labels with heads up
your asses, pay attention! I absolutely loved her album Bachelor #2,
which I believe she put out herself on her own label. She does have
the independent spirit that I so love. I saw her on that Brian Wilson
tribute show on TNT where she and her husband did an amazing rendition
of “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”.

OK, I’m two songs into the streaming and I have now pulled out my
credit card and will be preordering it. You get an extra CD with bonus
tracks if you do. Can’t beat that deal with a stick. Way to go
Aimee! Also, although she doesn’t have downloadable MP3s on the site,
there are
downloadable movies
. Check out the computer animated music video
for “Red Vines” – it is great! I love that song, much like I love
all her songs. I’m saving a copy of this just in case they ever take
it down. I wonder if her people ever submitted this video to VH1?
Apparently the guy just did it as a project and then asked her manager
for permission to use it. I could be wrong on that, it might be an
official thing. Give this dude a job, someone! Look at how
good this is relative to most music videos!

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Another change to how I handle this stuff. I’m going to start adding
new entries on the top, so the order of reading is always newest to
oldest, top to bottom. I suppose I might redo the previous entries,
but probably not. I’ll just start doing it now and let the old ones
ride. I’ve only been doing this log a week, and coming up with titles
has already gotten difficult. Thank god I’m not titling each entry.

I have a picture of Emily Nicole hanging on my computer now. I can’t
wait to see her tomorrow. It is really hard to concentrate on my work
when all I really want to do is to play with piggies and sing songs to
her.

Music TopicOn Monday I’ll be going to Sonic
Youth
playing at the Variety Playhouse. I have
commented to my friends that all the shows I see are by aging
post-punks – just like me! I’m not nailing down dates, but somewhere
around this time I’ll be aging a little more (as measured by yearly
milestones.) This is part of the celebration. I’ve never seen them,
but their album Daydream
Nation
remains one of my favorite albums of all time. They’re
not the band of the day because they aren’t giving any MP3s away. They
should if they’re so DIY, but there you have it. I’m excited about the show.

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Music TopicSo I need to clarify a little what I’m after with posting
these music links. This is really the thing that got me wanting to do
the weblog in the first place, so I should canonize the ground rules,
if for no reason other than to allow myself to focus on what I’m
doing.

Originally, I thought that I’d post links to musicians that:

  1. I am enthusiastic about
  2. Make their own MP3s available on the web (ie, they choose them to
    be there)

  3. Are NOT major label/RIAA artists (this webcasting
    fee business is abominable)

  4. Have some of that roguish air of independence about them

Now, today’s artists presents a little challenge under point #3
above. She is a major label artist, yet she also is the owner of a local
(to Atlanta) independent record
label
and the champion of many causes for the underdog. I’m talking about Amy Ray of the
Indigo Girls. I’ve always
loved the Indigo Girls. The night I turned 21 I celebrated by seeing
them play at the Little Five Points Pub – if that doesn’t date me
nothing will. Amy released a solo album, Stag that I
really like. Most people seemed lukewarm on it, but I welcomed the
departure from the standard Indigo type songs. One of them, Late
Bloom
I slipped into the automation rotation at WREK. The other
one she has in MP3 form, Lucy
Stoners
is fabulous and would be worth note for no other reason than the feminist
chorus “Lucy Stoners/don’t need boners/no man could/ever own her.”
Both songs are great. Listen to them.

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My coworker Darin sent me this link to
The Poetic Systems
website. How is that for a work environment? I
want one. We’ve got four guys in a not huge office, two of whom are
subject to fits of farting, giggling, whooping over naked women
pictures and other fratboy behavior. Maybe if I worked in
The Aura
this wouldn’t bother me.

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Music TopicToday’s band is linked to yesterday’s
band
, both musically and personally. Well, the “band” is actually
a person, Diana
Obscura
. She plays cello, amongst other instruments, and her music
is medieval, ambient, haunting and beautiful. I took some of her MP3s
and added them to WREK’s
Atmospherics rotation. I really like her music. Years ago I met her
when she was the one working the Changelings table at
Dragon*Con
and later when she was doing her Creepy Puppet
Theater. She’s very nice, cool and I love her music. Here is
her MP3.com download page.

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Technology TopicAt work one of the tools I’ve used recently is
the GMT – Generic Mapping Tools
. It is unbelievably cool! You can
generate practically any map you can think of via this tool. I
generated all kinds of maps with this, changing the colors, adding the
state or country borders, altering the projection type. If you wanted
to and you had an external data file relating population density to
coordinates, you could generate a 3-D topographic map where height
was related to population in a few command line
statements. Incroyable! I truly love this thing.

Changelings

Music TopicToday’s band is The
Changelings
. I’ve known them a while and I used to use their music
as bumpers for my radio show quite frequently. They have gothic,
ambient, Middle Eastern influences amongst others. I truly dig
them. You can download some of their music from their page at
MP3.com
. The only bummer is that my favorite song of theirs –
“Johnny Ether’s Great Escape” isn’t up there. Check them out, you will
like them.

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Mmmmm, just had dinner at
Rocky Mountain Pizza
over by Georgia Tech. I’ve never had pizza
there, only their Smokehouse Burger. We’ve taken to always getting the
sweet potato fries. Tasty! Part of the deal was that we also got to
play the South Park pinball machine, one of my favorites.

Haven’t yet mentioned it here, but I’m on a mad dash to finish the
next Reality Break book. It will have interviews with Michael Moorcock, Kage Baker, Storm Constantine and
probably a fourth writer as well. I have targets on the length, so if
it runs short I’ll add another person in. I’m leaning towards James
Patrick Kelly, but Elizabeth Hand is also on the list. I’m trying to
group them such that it makes sense having them all in the same
volume. I just don’t know. This part is hard. To think that at one
point I thought I could put out three volumes a year. Ha! I’ve been nine
months on this and I’m not done! I so want to be done with the text by
next weekend, but that’s looking unlikely.