ambient tension23 September
i'm moving forty hours and a suitcase
listening to hey ma and pa
("what the hell is wrong with ya'll?")
i feel nearly moved to tears as
Angelo Moore decries divorce
instead i keep building basement shelves for
three years of accumulated costumes
trade show bags
satchels filled with photos
ratty boxes brimming with ink-lined tree-skins
as i dig up my life to replant
i bid goodbye to kin and blood
i feel a bit backwards
looking forward to leaving
tomorrow i'm moved to tears
long lines for USA wheat
fights at airports
ill at ease
today I can feel it all coming on
Cleaning - WOW!
How about rediscovery?
I just found some seven year old DMT and $300 in checks and cash from an 1996 advertising campaign
What good is that?
From 10am until 10pm today friends and folks came by my house to bid me farewell. My visit to my roots was postponed to allow this delicious time to see all the friendly smart faces I've learned from already and will only practice distance communication with in the future. Immediately these friendships have an exciting quality reminiscent of the times I spent longing for Amy or Chandra. You know you're leaving and you make some effort to pack time in together. I was honoured by these folks. Terence, for one, marinated 10 pounds of steak for 40 hours, so we were all quite meatfed. Two of my Japanese language teachers showed up.22 September
Because the party lasted so long, the event was consistently subdued, with small groups of people sitting and talking, the composition of the conversations, permutations, my recent life reconfiguring and socializing before my eyes. I won't remember the exact phases until I see digital photos, but I had a feeling of sitting into one or another moment over time, subjects and familiar friends all taped together by a four year old fashioning rings of too little paper and too much scotch tape. I wonder if I didn't live so that I feel stretched out, would I feel understimulated? Note to self: try to understimulate, see how it feels. My fun at the party was turning on as many audio and video sources as possible. At one time, there was the Creatures on the kitchen stereo, Apocalypse Now and Tokimeki Memorial competing for the living room (Captain Willard fighting a mirror behind animated schoolgirls with shocking pink hair dashing about the schoolyard), and in the office Lain and Akira audio and video overlay a mix of Reverend Gary Davis Cocaine Blues on repeat with Aphex Twin/Beethoven mix and another Winamp playing a random loop of everything on this hard drive, starting with Lou Rawls. I think Chris Evans snuck on my computer later and rigged it to play only 80s; Love is a Battlefield and Turning Japanese at once.
Now it's just Charlie Mingus from the basement, and making a cyborg up here in the office. I leave for Nebraska on a 6am flight. Security rules dictate I get to the airport at 4am. Har har. I fly out of Oakland so I can risk a slightly more late arrival. Now to the confusion of my last week to prepare for moving out of the country, add cleaning up from a twelve hour party, attending a funeral 11 hours away for three days, packing and dealing. I guess I'll be going abroad with a scrungy passport, and a warrant for my arrest if I don't take care of this no-left-turn ticket.
Fortunately the time to travel slowly across a broad hilly land with my family, eating heavy salty food, it should serve as a good solid anchor before I move to Tokyo. First I visit where I'm from before I wander into where I'm going.
Hope I can call Tokyo from Bassett - I still haven't nailed down these mansion reservations. Shouldn't I be mulling over my grandfather? The last time I talked to him I think was from Helsinki - he seemed fairly excited that I was calling from so far away (on a bad mobile phone connection), and he spent much of the conversation describing his ailments. The signal dropped out occasionally, so it sounded like this: "Well Justin, the doctor said.................. in my back and each morning............... the pain in my legs............ the best way to die." I was a bit unsettled and I couldn't find a real constructive way to resolve that conversation. It didn't seem to matter much that I couldn't synch up exactly, I think to myself today that he wanted me to know that he was in pain, so when he went to sleep and didn't wake up, I'd understand that his active mind had found a way out from hurting. Right now, a window seat and a pillow sounds like the best way out of hurting for me.
Steve Rhodes: unfortunately, it looks like this will start soon.21 September
Warren's Gone; one more round
I felt weary, tired, so I took the time to lay down on my bed and go to sleep.
I woke up when my Mom called to say that Grampa died.
Glad for one last visit.
Reverend Gary Davis - Cocaine Blues on repeat.
I'm sure I'll have more processing on this subject as I get into an American car with my mother, George, Colin, Jim and Lori, and drive across Nebraska one last time, telling stories about that driven man, telling each other that he is happier now. Right now, I'm just a bit sad, because Grampa dies, and that is my last connection to North Central Nebraska - my last close flesh living in those tiny spare American towns. And it's a part of me that has died. And it's little different than when Gramma died, except that I learned from her passing how better to honor my family. What will I learn from this passing? I already learned much from him in life. Sometimes I think I am him, I guess now I can feel more fully incarnated Warren McClurg. Tonight I'll have to sleep wearing the magnet wrist braces he bought for me.
After he finished scraping out my overgrown yard for money, I sat around with Oliver, sitting around talking stories, part of American I hadn't heard from first hand. His father was a pullman porter from Louisiana. his mother sewed rubber in the side of his bag so dad could carry a few fifths of whiskey on the train to sell to soldiers. his father used to make 50 cents a week. Oliver said, how did you survive on that? Bread cost a cent a loaf, he didn't have a car, he lived in the country. He used to cook one big pot of food on sunday night for the whole week, because it would be dark by the time he got home. And he said that he didn't used to look under the pot lid because he knew there were some bugs in there.
We talked over his fatherhood, and my family. It was relaxing, Southern sort of. On his way out, Oliver pointed out, once you stop doing things, that's when they shovel that dirt on you. Grampa stopped doing things about three days ago, so we knew he was headed for a bigger fishing pond.
Martin Luther King speaks on the tragedy.
Let's march our troops into Vietnam during a Russian Winter!
Everything I read about Afghanistan makes it sound like the first intractable unresolvable ugly drawn out conflict of the 21st century. Fighters with their back to a corner and divine inspiration to die, familiar with an impassable alien landscape, fighting from caves and holes dug in the ground, against American boys wearing giant backpacks loaded with nightvision goggles and long range scopes and videophones and all sorts of other high tech soldiery gear that will likely distract them from the fact that a five year old just cut their tendons. Fighting in Afghanistan will be an ugly business, even for the select special forces. Say we send in two teams of ten. Twenty guys. Bin Laden is surrounded thick with his people, who would knife themselves in the heart before they would see an infidel pass on their watch. And our black suited badasses are supposed to find the right tent and slit the right throat? Or maybe just get within eyeshot and call down some kind of satellite strike with their Dick Tracy watches?
(PBR streetgang, this is almighty, over; You can see where that got them.)
What if some of our SEALs get captured? Then do we send even more men in to reclaim them? I just don't see much of an easy way out of this, and I'm wary of stepping into it. The Soviets got their ass handed to them wrapped in a bloody turban after 9 years of pouring young male bodies and cash into a dusty hole. As a result, Afghanistan is poorer, and a Carter- and Reagan-load of American expertise and weaponry is undergirding a group with a lethal distaste for our entire way of life (thanks GK). Intractable. Do you kill the heads of this group before they kill us? It makes a certain sort of protective sense. But then I read Friedman and I wonder if we are just urging radical inspired Muslim recruits by attacking the toothless infant mortality laden lands out east. And I want to bomb them with butter.
The only member of congress to vote against a declaration of war after the terrorist attacks was my representative from Oakland. That's 98 (senate) plus 420 (house) versus 1 (oakland).
"The lone member of Congress to vote against the measure, Rep. Barbara J. Lee, Democrat of California, said the nation risked entering an open-ended war without a clear target. She said in a statement, 'I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.'"I admire her resolve, though my neighbors think she's just looking for attention.
My concerns are primarily strategic - we propose to end terror by attacking a phantom foe in impossible territory? I can see some white haired generals with trim dark outfits rubbing their hands together relishing the chance to win a war the Soviets lost. Maybe Vietnam was enough of a lesson to keep us from losing, fighting ignorant against passionate people on their home soil. Or maybe we will finally learn to adapt ourselves for appropriately medieval combat, abandoning all of our research and technology, resorting to rat meat and long knives.
I was loosely espousing alternatives to war when Peter pressed me - where do you draw the line? If an army came marching onto American soil, would you stand back, or would that be time to fight? And the natural extension of that I guess - would you have ordered World War II attacks against Hitler? What about Japan? Unfortunately those conflicts were born by years of poor communication and antagonism, and so was this one. After all that antagonism, perhaps some retaliation is what's needed to right things again.
efficacy and angry people
Howard theorized that the next attack would not have anything to do with the airlines. Why wouldn't they just drive a rented truck filled with explosives onto the Golden Gate Bridge? he wondered. When something like that happens, round two, that will be sobering, and a call to war perhaps. And I will think to put my Gandhi and MLK down and swallow a bit of flag-waving and chest-thumping as I imagine my lovely neice as a body counted and cleaned up by search and rescue; wouldn't I rather have a tent somewhere far away bombed before they can get to her?
I just can't believe that attacking these angry people with all of our percieved American might is going to lead to a better world. Reading this is when my first real tears fall, perhaps more sad for the future than mourning for the past.
Can you really strike terrorism with force, or do you become the animal you hate? Where are the degrees to that? Can we use a judicious, little bit of lethal force after being punched in the stomach? My optimism leads me to believe that a massive PR campaign combined with substantial aid to some mostly-neglected indigent muslim countries would do more to dissolve terrorist hatred for the USA than bombs and force. If it's attention they want, let's give them attention the way we know best - a telethon for Afghanistan.
As much as humanity seems to be evolving, we can't seem to stay away from armed conflict. People I know and love, mostly older, seem actively in favor of a little ass-kicking as a preventative and curative. I just can't believe American ass-kicking is going to be effective against people who crave reasons to hate us, and seek out activist ways to die.
Help them provide their kids with adequate food and medical care, and these folks will leave terrorism for fatherhood.
Thanks to Monte for the Strange Love.
Thanks to Aaron Solomon for the Sea of Bloodshed article link.
Being an inside view of the process of freelance article making, this instance accelerated by poor planning and miscommunication.18 September
A few weeks back, TheFeature asked me to write about Mobile Entertainment. So I contacted a few aspiring game designers and some large game publishers and interviewed them as I researched the state of and future of games on mobile phones, with a smattering of business models for the companies that produce them. I sent in my final draft Saturday before the Monday the Mobile Entertainment series of articles was to go live. They read it over and discovered that my article did not, in fact, cover movies and music as they had expected. Slightly stranded, they asked me to write an article on movies and music, within three days. Excited by the challenge, and the chance to raise more cutter this month, I willingly agreed.
All the events that I had scheduled in the meantime transpired. I spent five hours working on the TV show with Ryan, and we went to see Lily Tomlin (thanks to Dana). I got three fillings, experienced psychedelia in a dentist's chair and actually turned down more nitrous oxide, I went to the
SFMOMA with Wayne and Kathleen, Kathleen and I helped Carl carry two couches across SOMA to a storage space.
W and K
A few weeks ago I called my long distance provider to confirm; phone calls to Japan run me about twenty cents a minute. After reading over what more articles they had in store, Japan seemed a ready target, thus far uncovered. I reached Eno-san and he agreed to be interviewed late tuesday night (my time). With my deadline for 6am Wednesday (afternoon in Finland) that didn't leave me much time, but Eno is a loquatious brilliant fellow and I was feeling optimistic.
Tuesday evening, I went grocery shopping, picked up supplies for a basic tomato meat sauce for pasta, and settled into my last 12 hour window to crank out an article on the state of Japanese mobile entertainment as beef and onions bubbled in red juice on the stove. I called Kenji and had a great hour long conversation with him, typing furiously. And when I looked over my notes, I had everything I needed for an article on a largely unrelated future project.
Now ten and some hours remaining, panic creeping, but I couldn't be beaten while I had a phone to Japan, just a matter of finding someone to talk to. Getting ahold of Japan's leading mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo turned out to be a great challenge. There's no phone number listed on any of their press releases (PR firms generally list a point-of-contact on their releases in the US). Their english language web site boasted only a phone number for toll free calls within Japan. I elicited the creative dialing skills of MCI operators to no avail, as I dug on and came up with a switchbard from an annual report.
Here: three phone lines, two telephone headsets, 17 faxed pages from Japan, 144 minutes international talk time, polar bear, drinking water and eating pasta with too much meat.
All the pieces in place, but you can never conquer sleep. With 8 hours until my deadline is done. Two hours until businesses close in Japan. My crying eyelids and aching back sez I'd love to take a power-nap, but if I come up with a critical question after that time, it would be up to the scant information online to answer.
this is very reminiscent of final exams. as long as i keep writing something i'm almost not falling asleep. it's an endurance test, balancing very deep human physical urges with the estimated unhappiness i'll feel in a few hours if I just pass out and Japan leaves the office with my data. loud music helps for a little while. Desparate for quick energy and lacking cola, I turn instead to the massive sugar/chocolate flavour fix in Dreyer's chocolate-peanut butter ice cream. The fat and sugar crash will invariably knock me out. But I might have bought myself 20 minutes of eyelids open to do another round with Japan on the phone.
Three chats withi DoCoMo, each time reaching someone with better english skills. Draft a piece and sleep from 1.30 to 3.30. Wake and rewrite, discover some useful links and assimilate. 5.54am call my editor, ask for a half hour extension and she sounds grateful. She did inform me that my other idea from Kenji that I so happily typed up is already a work in progress by another author.
The Result: Entertaining Japanese People
Shortly after this writing session, my doorbell rang early in the morning. From across the street, Oliver stood with tools, ready to redo my front yard. It had simply grown too ragged, and he was tired of looking at it. I welcomed him to do his worst. Later his wife showed up to help him. I gave them some money later for their trouble - they did a bang-up job of spiffin' up my plants out front. Man how things grow.
Oliver in his "fish n' chips" hat, being removed by his wife (darn it I forgot her name!)
Latest article: Mobile Phones: Reporting from Death's Doorstep; thanks Mindjack.16 September
Josefa and Jared share a wedding shot of Patrón while behind them Jim is steadily beaming transmissions back to his mindpod in dimension Zodz.
Driving back from a wordzoo wedding where freak friends were pulled together into conscentual communal living for some short weekend, I was feeling at the beggining of an unwinding and mixed pulled towards my work. Eased down the road by Willie Nelson but urged to the tall trees by leather pants sleeping in the back seat, I stopped at Montgomery grove. Hiking up past two trails into a hidden slope in slick bottomed shoes I ended up beneath a giant tree crotch, burnt out instead with two legs standing long, covered in tiny webs. It was the arboreal spirit of California and I lay there for some long time.
It's perfectly natural why you found comfort enveloped in the tree's embrace:
The emerging modernity and complexity of these terrorists and their planning is something to behold. Reports they may have been short selling stocks in Europe to finance their efforts, and speading word of the attack over mobile phone:14 September
"a text-and-graphics message began to circulate, via the mobile telephones of terrorist sympathisers throughout the Middle East, showing an aeroplane crashing into a skyscraper with the caption: "It hit and did not miss" in Arabic."
- 14 September, The Economist: The Pursuit
Colin called a little bit shell-shocked from relentless four days of CNN broadcasting moaning crying tragedy familial separation, dest covered survivors and estranged children. Please, Colin, you can turn it off. Sure there's new news, speeches, information on the folks responsible. At some point I think it's okay to reclaim your sanity with some downtime away from media. That tragedy media is anywhere you want it, flying thick and dense, makes me want to cry when I turn it on. I did my time immersing the nuances of this thing and now I want to be useful to the world as a person of balance. This weekend is TV free, maybe even Internet free. Dare to dream.13 September
just a little bit - bud.com and plastic
Discovered something mindblowing and wonderful today:
You can run two copies of Winamp at once. If you like, there's a plugin to fade between them. Now I have Philip Glass, Dealership and Apocalypse Now going all at once. If I could stop tweaking my sound setup or my web site, it would be an ideal environment for something, I know.
Wait - holy smack, by following the directions on this page, somehow I'm able to launch as many Winamps as I'd like - currently six. This is my entire radio show made easy! Forget this writing stuff - I'm laying audio from here on out. I don't think I've ever done ten streams before! Let's see what this baby can handle! Fourteen simultaineous songs starts to sound like Akihabara. Other applications aren't too happy.
This terrorist bombing incident is an amazing chance to learn - the radio and TV offer wall to wall coverage, including interpretation by foreign policy experts, structural engineers, writers, military historians, government officials, forensic scientists, aviators. If you listen and absorb the content, there's chances to learn how buildings are built, the history of middle east policy, the relative place of this incident in a spectrum of fanatical attacks and American antipathy. Of course, more of the edification happens on NPR; the primary TV networks concern themselves with active recycling. And of course, as Chris Hecker would say, many of these folks are guilty of "Male Answer Syndrome," answering when there isn't always an answer. But what is knowledge but theory?11 September
The latest writing: on Hypertext Kitchen a review of GameStudies.org
My critique of the first issue of an academic journal of videogame studies. The short version: "GameStudies would do well to put down their George Landow books and download some Dani Bunten games."
Links.net: Writing from the day of the terrorist attacks on New York City10 September
I have been lucky in lust lately, if I count frequency and permutations as the greatest glory. And still I feel somehow as though my sixteen year old pledge into a sweaty pillow "i will take all i can get" is not the best way to lead my groin. I'll see this through with some sobriety and writing, I assume, and then who knows what shape life may take after the first blush fades.9 September
Links.net: Extended Flight Math
Plantation White Bread, Children Should be Seen and Not Shot.
Dangerous Graveyards, Jazz Dancing with an Animated Hat:
Links.net: New Orleans
New Japan Links4 September
Perpetual motion! I dream of 100k frequent flying - why? because I'm in the air so much these days it seems the logical exploitation of personal discomfort.
My brother is sleeping in my garage; he fit his sophisticated six foot six frame to sleep in my spare futon. He's now moved to this coast as I am pushing my bare feet over the edge of the naked ski lift. it is summer, and i dream that the lube spilling from my mouth and ears will coat the shiny bent plywood beneath my limbs - i need frictionless motion to get momentum flying over this life to Tokyo. All this postal mail! Possessions! When can we take the "L" off of "URL" to go from "Universal Resource Locators" to "Universal Resources" - a loaning library for everything. I don't need to have all these books in my house all the time, I just want to be able to have it twenty seconds after I think of it. Meet Justin Jetson.
Seventeen hour layover between London and New Orleans, something's got to be lively to welcome me home. Come back, no car in the driveway. Oliver the neighbor, hey justin, your car drove off some time around 3pm - you know who? Not yet, but I have an idea.
Street Snap - People Postcards
For months now I have been tempted by teenagers in the street. The way they dress, the way they flirt with culture and style. What they choose to represent themselves from the whirling media maelstrom. Their attitude and posture. So finally in Helsinki I worked up some courage to approach a group of young folks for a "Street Snap:"
I showed this photo to Tomoko, a Japanese fashion reporter I met in London: "Oh yeah, street snap, I do that all the time." Her professional street snap process involves finding the right kind of neighborhood, waiting for a few hours, watching people go by to get a sense of the overall patterns, and selecting interesting looking folks within that context (maybe folks who exemplify the "fall style" or "urban look" or whatever your focus could be). Then you approach them, ask to take their picture, and then write down where they bought each item of clothing, and for how much. Modern personal item storytelling. I'm fascinated.
Street Snap #1
Arts Night Festival, Helsinki
It's a tantalizing process - capturing only the beginning of a conversation. Deliberately limiting yourself. You see someone in the street, you ask to take their photo, get two lines about them, and never ask them about their drunk aunt or their painted washing machine or their passion for furniture arranging. I look at that photo above and I want to ask about each of them. That photo fires an old fashioned lead shot stimulation between my ears - six billion street snap superficial impressions rattling around hoping to make me crazy. Pick and choose pick and choose.
Publishing this is a deliberate defiance! Who are they? How could I find out? The stories of a thousand pair captured eyes merged back into human traffic!
Tomoko looked over all this; "Looks like they get their clothes at H&M." Hmmm.
Somehow, I travelled to2 September
Finnish International Party Beat:
FinPro Tango Queen