Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

KEXP’s Song of the Day for Mondays

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Hello readers. The summer is almost over and I will be living in Eugene, Oregon in the fall. This means that I’ll be back in a city with a hospitable taping environment and venues that host bands that are not Uncle Wilson’s Bluegrass Experience. Expect some uploads from me around late September.

Secondly, in addition to filming in studio performances, I am now working for KEXP as a contributing writer to the Song of the Day feature. If you’re interested in reading my entries, make sure to read the write-ups on Mondays.

Here are some entries I’ve already written:

  • Rubik – No Escape (2009-08-10)
  • Yppah – Sunflower Sunkissed (2009-08-03)
  • So Many Dynamos – New Bones (2009-07-27)
  • In honor of the Crocodile Cafe re-opening

    Friday, March 27th, 2009

    I know it’s sort of late (at least in Internet Time) but to celebrate the re-opening of the iconic Crocodile Cafe I give you Wolf Eyes live at The Croc in 2003.

    I did not film this. Actually, this was before I even owned (or had access to) any equipment for recording shows. My friend Craig Mueller filmed this using a Canon XL-1 with a shotgun mic mounted on it. It looks great and sounds great. I guess it might look and sound awful if you’re not into noise music but maybe I kinda don’t care and you should man up and grow a pair.

    SD MP4 (276 MB): we2003-03-23.mp4 Video Zine Forthcoming

    Monday, February 23rd, 2009

    I’m making a video zine that I am going to publish on the Internet and locally using DVDs.

    The idea is to feature five or six bands with an emphasis on instrumental bands. Hopefully I can overlap that interest with many local bands but I can’t promise there won’t be times when members of Partman Parthorse are putting beer bottles in places that aren’t supposed to feature such glassware. Because, in all honesty, that’s coming down the pipe. Excuse my word choice.

    Here is a rundown of what will be available:

      Each video from the zine in individual videos.
      The entire video as one continuous video.
      The entire DVD as an ISO.
      A 300dpi printable DVD cover.

    A lot of the footage in this DVD might be old news since it will be content that I’ve featured on my site but I’m doing this to connect with a wider local audience as well as build my portfolio of works as a professional. There are a lot of edges to this sword that I’m swinging.

    There will also be footage that I’ve never put online before for various reasons. Some of these reasons include: I’m lazy, I’m unmotivated, I’m forgetful.

    Hopefully this will be a great way to feature a handful of choice songs from bands that I enjoy in an easy to process format. Maybe you’re the kind of person who just wants to watch one song and not sit through an entire production. If that’s the case then this is going to be just the thing for you.

    And finally, if you enjoyed the Sleepy Eyes of Death show I recorded at The Holy Mountain then feel free to come to their next show at The Sunset Tavern on March 7th.

    Sleepy Eyes of Death, Bronze Fawn – 2009-02-07

    Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

    There’s a guy wearing a pair of air traffic controller headphones and he’s got to be at least sixty. Next to him a lady in her early fifties is grinding up against a young man who should appear to be but isn’t at all out of his element. A fifteen year-old drinking Pabst. Some guy peeing in the bathroom sink. It smells like paint and cigarettes. What is this.

    Oh. It’s an art space show.

    These kinds of shows are my favorite sort. There’s no security and no heat. The start time of the show is fluid and sometimes bands start playing that aren’t even on the bill that doesn’t really exist. It’s everyone’s favorite party and usually the sound is pretty good because there’s no way a co-op art warehouse has the funds or a space big enough to own a decent PA or mic kit. This way all you’re hearing are the band as they would sound on-stage at a proper venue. You know, if that stage were shoved into the room venue’s bathroom.

    The Holy Mountain is such a place. Once named The Booty Cave and now drawing it’s namesake from the most nonsensically obtuse movie I’ve ever seen, The Holy Mountain is such a space where people live, work, play, and puke.

    Both Sleepy Eyes of Death and Bronze Fawn are bands that have members who some might consider auxiliary or who? In the case of Bronze Fawn, it is Dan. At most shows he’s right up front near the stage where you can peer over your nose at his frantic yet controlled button pushing. Almost always when a band uses live projection it’s a looped DVD but since two of the members are Adobe employees who are heavily into video I can understand the inclusion of a live VJ for their set.

    Unfortunately for Bronze Fawn, the use of any sort of plain white wall was not to be had. Every wall: covered in painting, sculpture, and creation. I thought to myself “Their video projection could look sort of cool on this wall.” as I looked at a pentagram painted on the wall. My mind is immediately sent back to the images in the film that haunt me still.

    It was then I realized that the venue shares with the film not only name but visual effect as well. The surfaces of the room all shimmer and stare with sculpted masks and crossed grid pattens. The video projection over the pentagram was not as cool as I had hoped. The band really needs to invest in some sort of backdrop for these situations.

    Bronze Fawn – Live @ The Holy Mountain

    On the completely different end of the spectrum, Sleepy Eyes of Death were not affected one bit by their surroundings and made it clear during their performance that it didn’t matter where they were. With a complete fog and lights show to accompany their performance, there were times when you couldn’t see but a few feet around the band as the fog billowed up from around their feet. Behind the fog the lights shone up from the floor giving the air around the band texture and color. Dramatic shoots of amber and neon blue silhouette each member along with the tone and pace of the song. Enough to make you wonder “Is there some old man in a beanie working this Lazer Lightshow I’m trippin’ on?”

    And, in fact, there is. He sits at the side of the stage with his light mixing board and an itchy finger on the fog release. When the crescendo hits so does the lightning storm of strobe and moonbeams straight from the ether. If you pay attention closely in the video you can spy him hunched over at his station. You can see him making the show that much better for you. Unsung.

    With so many bands hiking the instrumental route anymore, it’s refreshing that a band like Bronze Fawn is engaging not only with their melodies but also with a visual show to make their performance stand out from the rest. That the visual show is handled on the fly makes it that much more engaging. Likewise, Sleepy Eyes of Death remain one of the most exciting and head rush inducing performers in their genre. While bands like The Depreciation Guild and Anamanaguchi are experimenting in 8-bit sounds washed over with guitars, it seems that Sleepy Eyes of Death are attacking the mixture with so much more presence and urgency.

    Sleepy Eyes of Death – Live @ The Holy Mountain

    Bronze Fawn – 2009-02-07 The Holy Mountain – Seattle, WA

    Download FLAC:
    Download MP3:
    Sample: bf2009-02-07sample.mp3

    SD FLV (344 MB): bf2009-02-07.flv
    HD MP4 (1.66 GB): bf2009-02-07.mp4

    Sleepy Eyes of Death – 2009-02-07 The Holy Mountain – Seattle, WA

    Download FLAC:
    Download MP3:
    MP3 Sample: seod2009-02-07sample.mp3

    SD FLV (331 MB): seod2009-02-07.flv
    HD MP4 (1.38 GB): seod2009-02-07.mp4

    I made a zine

    Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

    The entire contents of the zine I made this week could have been poured into this website. How boring would that have been. Now I have something tangible. 47 somethings, actually. It was supposed to be 50 but there was one instance of me flipping out and tearing a zine into pieces and two more instances of me screwing up enough to throw away the one I was working on.

    The zine is called Wish you were here. I made the contents entirely in notepad.exe which was probably a terrible idea considering notepad has no formatting options whatsoever. Its saving grace is that it prints in monospaced font so I could (not so) easily make a half-page design (two pages per each side of an 8.5×11 sheet of paper).

    The cover is heavy cardstock that I bought in bulk at the store months ago for a different project. Each cover has a Polaroid picture attached to the front, on to which I fed through an old typewriter and printed the title of the zine. I had to buy a long-arm stapler so that I could bind the zine down the middle with two staples.

    Each copy has a CDR in the back which relates to one of the entries. I fed the paper cases through the typewriter as well so that I could print the zine title on them.

    All told, I probably spent almost two hundred dollars making these things. Between the Polaroid film, the stapler, the copies at Kinkos, the typewriter, the paper CD cases and the CDRs… it got sort of expensive. Oh well. If I wanted to recoup expenses I’d probably have to charge about four dollars a piece for them but I don’t really care about all that.

    I’m not sure how I’m going to distribute it yet. I was thinking of dropping some of them off at Sonic Boom Records in Ballard and Fremont and maybe seeing if the news stand next to the Fremont location would consign the zine (just to see what kind of interest there is this sort of thing in Seattle). If you think you want one, email me with your name and address and I’ll send you one.

    And if you just want to look at it and don’t want to deal with me mailing you a copy, then here you go:

    Wish You Were Here Issue #01:
    Wish You Were Here Audio CD:

    I’ll definitely do more issues of this zine. It was fun to make and I like it a lot more than a blog. It’s like a magazine that I have full control over which is very exciting for me. I plan to schedule some interviews with bands and maybe do some record and concert reviews for the next issue. I have some ideas for the design and since the next one won’t require Polaroids (nor will I have to buy the stapler or typewriter again), it will cost a lot less.

    Cold Killer: More Thoughts

    Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

    I’ve been busy. Boy howdy have I ever. I’ve successfully pared down three of my jobs to two without taking an income hit so I have plenty of time to sit around and work on this book.

    I’ve decided to scrap my original layout mock-up. It was too easy to lose the focus of the book by futzing with captions and multiple images per page. My new idea, inspired by comments two friends of mine made, is to have each page speak for itself. Every page will be a full-sized image without text (save for the header and the page number).

    Secondly, I’ve chosen to make the table of contents as much a visual part of the book as the photos. I am going to illustrate the contents of the book on a map of Seattle with each page represented by a numbered circle on the map. The location of the circle will correspond to where in the city the photo was taken and the number will tell you what page to go to. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure of glorious street art!

    I am going to try my hardest to make a presentable electronic version of the book. I don’t mean a simple PDF (though there will be one of those), I’m talking about a full-fledged Flash version of the book with animations and sounds and such. I don’t know Flash but I’m willing to learn (or, at the very least, find someone else to do this for me). I just want something people can look at and enjoy without having to bind hundreds of copies of the finished physical product.

    Finally, I have spent a lot of time looking at digital processing techniques to make the images pop out of the page. I really like the way the photos shine when they’re processed to look like they were taken with a Lomo camera, so I believe I am going to edit them to look as such. Here is the before image and here is the after. If you have any other ditigal editing techniques, opinions, tips, or criticisms for me, please let me know!

    Beware of the Walls. My Journey Into Book Binding.

    Monday, October 17th, 2005

    I’ve written about Cold Killer often on other sites. I’ve even put up an entire photo album of Cold K tags on Flickr. I think more people should know about this. Judging by the amount of Cold K photos on Flickr, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    My fascination with these ubiquitous ghosts began in the fall of 2004 when I began noticing them all over the city. Sure, there were other taggers painting all over Seattle, but Cold K’s expressionless ghosts were identifiable, noticeable, and varied enough in style that they didn’t become boring. I imagine that if I owned property in the city I wouldn’t be too fond of graffiti artists but, since I don’t, and since I’ve always been a big fan of culture subversion, Cold Killer is my favorite tagger in Seattle.

    So I began photographing.

    I had a photography class last year during my senior year of college. I took that as an opportunity to splurge on a decent digital camera and started on my quest to document this art.

    His art quickly became my own as I logged hundreds of photographs of these subjects using varying angles, exposures, and frames. It’s amazing how much more you will shoot given the digital age’s no-cost media.

    I turned in my Cold Killer documentation as a final project in the introductory photography class, but felt like the project remained unfinished. I wanted the photographs presented in a more suitable manner. I wanted the documentation to manifest itself in something more tangible than a photo portfolio.

    The idea for a book was born. At the moment, I am making that book.

    I began laying it out last night like I promised myself I would. Here is an initial mock up of two example pages: mockup.png.

    The layout process is rather tedious, but I’m quickly learning to employ the use of guides and snap-to grids in Photoshop. The pages are laid out on a tabloid sized template in landscape mode. After alotting the proper amount of paper for margins and binding, each page should end up being 7.25″ x 10.50″. I want the book cover to be constructed of something unusual… like plywood or something. There’s no end to what you can do with a book made out of plywood.

    Oh, yeah. I’ve never made something like this before in my life. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I figure after countless hours of laying out pages and building this labor of love, I will, inevitably, transcend both space and time in a flurry of misplaced rage.

    Keep an eye out, I’ll post updates on my progress as it happens. It will happen, I promise.

    These are the things journalists need

    Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

    I’m a journalism student at Seattle University. In my Senior Synthesis class today, during our discussion on war correspondence, my professor handed out a photocopy of this article. It’s a list of things (compiled by the Columbia Journalism Review) that journalists in the Middle East carry in order to survive the job. I realize this is about two years old, but I’m just now getting around to seeing it so I’d like to weigh in my thoughts on these necessities and point out some things I found rather humorous.

    Sunglasses, $40-$150. (“Not the mirrored kind because some indigenous tribes in the Middle East think the mirrors allow you to see through women’s burkhas.”)

    I don’t know if that quote is true or not (could be made up for all I know), but it’s funny nonetheless.

    Money belt, $10, containing $10,000-$15,000 cash in U.S. dollars and/or euro notes to cover one month’s expenses (including lodging, meals, use of press center, driver, fixer, translator, and money for “getting out of emergencies”).

    Well here is where the bulk of the cost comes from. $15K in cash on my belt? Jesus, no wonder journalists get kidnapped.

    Laptop computer, $2,000, with duct tape over places sand can get into, stored in large ZiplocĀ® bag to keep out dust. (IBM or Dell, because “there’s nowhere to service Macs in the Middle East.”)

    The accompanying quote that goes with this item strikes me as stupid or maybe they were just trying to be funny, I’m not sure. I’d imagine the amount of computer repar shops in general is fairly dismal. You’d most likely have the same chances of finding someone capable of fixing your Powerbook than someone to fix your Inspiron. Moreover, if i was faced with bringing either a Dell laptop or a Powerbook with me on the road, you can bet I’d pick the Powerbook. Those things are like rocks. Admittedly, the IBM Thinkpads are sturdy too, but if Macs are the computer of choice for rock bands to tour with (not just because of the software), then it’s good enough for me.

    Secondly, I’m not sure the benefits outweigh the detriments when you block any and all airflow ducts with tape in order to keep out dust, especially when you’re in the sweltering desert heat. The chances of your computer getting gunked up with sand go down, but the chances of your processor going up in flames increase dramatically.

    Syringes. (“Iraq makes you take an AIDS test at the border. If you can’t talk them out of it, you will want to use your own needle.”)

    I’d wager that the Iraqi officials requiring you to take an AIDS test upon entering the country don’t do it because they get their kicks from jabbing people with needles. In fact, it’s most probable that they do it to keep their country from being infested with an AIDS epidemic. If you have to “talk them out of it” then I think you’re coming into the country with the wrong frame of mind. That’s not to say it’s unwise to B-Y-O-Syringe.

    L.L. Bean wrinkle-resistant travel blazer, $179 (“for interviews”).

    Yes, because when you’re wearing a wrinkle-resistant blazer the person you’re talking to won’t notice that you haven’t showered in six days (god bless those baby wipes!) and that you’re wearing sand-encrusted cargo pants.