Category Archives: real life


[words] existential threats, or not

“an existential threat” ≠ “a threat to all existence”

2015_11 park slope high rise fire

Simple semantics often slip up speakers. The phrase “existential threat” is used too often to imply that something described as such portents the apocalypse, in the way “communist threat” was used throughout the Cold War to as a casual substitute for nuclear annihilation. But “existential” is not a synonym for “apocalyptic” any more than “communist” was. Rhetoric and doubletriplepolitispeak are funny that way, though.

Semantic checkpoint: “Existential threat” implies the threatening thing threatens because it’s existential. To be afraid of something practicing Existentialism, then, for real, connotes a fear of what Sartre termed the “doctrine of self-making” where human reality is an individual, lived experience. Not very scary at all, really, unless making choices for yourself terrifies you.

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[dispatch] 1st hand robot witness 051916.1854

May 19, 2016 at 06:54PM
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[dispatch] drug wars 042116.1838

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[dispatch] 041816.1056

5th Av @ 9th, Dunkin iced, cig-dangle, russet frizzle, 40s, to phone: "Didn't you see my tweet that Shakespeare's so overrated? No? Well…"

— westy (@westyreflector) April 18, 2016 at 10:56AM


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[img] 5th Ave Bingo exit, 10:12p

5th Ave Bingo exit, 10:12p.
“Geraldine, you have a Valium on you?”
“No.”
“That’s ok, I got tranquilizers at home.”
March 26, 2016 at 10:35PM
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[dispatch] ZX81 membrane 030316.1120

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[words] sidewalk snippet 022316.1853

February 23, 2016 at 06:53PM
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every statistic


from Twitter https://twitter.com/westyreflector

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i tell kids not to emulate me

2016.02.19.13:05
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[words] deposition reflections

copter study 06282015c

Truth over time becomes elusive – and relative – so lawyers ply their trade in the fuzziness of memory. Justice relies on absolute truth, and pursuit of it is mere human invention – absurd and Sisyphean as any other attempt to stanch the entropy of the universe.

Yesterday, after four hours of being probed, prodded, picked apart and piecemealed by opposing counsels, I walked out of my attorney’s office thinking of Kurt Vonnegut’s observation that “only humankind is running out of time.”

Untitled


I Could Not Record Today

living-room-corner-09162008-2

I could not record today.
My studio is not soundproof
enough for a city daytime.
Contractors hired by an aspirational
Brooklyn property developer
stamp rumblefooted underpinnings
for a cantilevered condo to be
four times the size of the
sixty year old
two family the developer
demolished a month ago.
The mufflebooms travel
into my rear office studio,
up through my mic stand,
from the sub strata.

On the front side of my apartment,
the back of a post office, across the street.
The carriers often shout at each other
in the loading dock
while jumping
on and off their trucks.
One of them, a man with birdtones,
sings arias from Norma.
As a mechanical gate opens and
closes to let the trucks
in and out, his tenor lends
the gate a mournful movement.

Night will bring challenge, too.
The Bingo Hall on 5th Avenue allows patrons
access to its rear alley abutting
the northern border of my apartment complex.
The alleyway is a de facto back lounge
where winner inksters come out to smoke
and make on-a-lucky-streak joyouts.
The players on losing tails fall off
towards the streetside
exit of the alleyway
and smoke in silence,
as passing headlights echo through
the flickering alleyway’s security gate.

Tomorrow I’m going to mail holiday packages
too long sitting on my dining room table.
I look at the gifts meant to be given,
gifts that people have
no idea they are going to receive.
Procrastination self-inflicts purgatories
between loneliness and connection,
but today I will exorcise this unquiet
into a happy suspension,
as when your partner isn’t talking, and you hear
the soft rustle of a newspaper
and a sweater against a sofa…
things that mean everything,
that you don’t notice,
until you are standing still
or cannot record.


[a few words on] the disquiet.com junto

I started creating tracks for the Disquiet.com Junto in January 2012 upon the group’s founding by Marc Weidenbaum, a San Francisco music, technology and culture writer. A former editor of Tower RecordsPulse! magazine, he has written for Nature, Boing Boing, and The Atlantic online, and he also lectures on the role of sound in the media landscape. Marc is most recently the author of the 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II and since 1996, he runs the website Disquiet.com about the intersection of sound, art, and technology.

The Disquiet Junto is an online music community in which members respond to weekly composition prompts posted every Thursday devised and designed by Marc. Participants have just over four days to complete each project. As of this writing, ~460 musicians and sound artists from all over the world have joined in, creating over 3300 tracks that have been uploaded and shared via soundcloud.com. The playlist above has my contributions, and updates in real time with the most recent (an playlist unstuck from time in a post about Disquiet seemed appropriate).

Participation in the Junto for members is not compulsory, and artists jump in and out at will. The Junto makes it ok to take tremendous risks with creativity, though, so many of us keep coming back for more. As of this post, I’ve done ~50 of the 135 challenges, and a few of the resulting tracks ended up on my last two records, which are released under Creative Commons currently at Bandcamp and the Free Music Archive.

I followed Marc’s writing and blog for years. As a rock and pop songwriter, I was an outlier for the Junto, but always aspire to abstraction and harbor fascination with electronic music and sound manipulation. So after his initial call, I listened from the sidelines for few challenges, then conjured the courage to create a track.

Avant-garde and abstract expression are often low-hanging fruit for ridicule, tossed off as the butt of jokes while dismissed as misplaced fealty to impracticality. Explaining the Junto is not always easy. A couple people – people who should know better – have said “it sounds like a cult,” after I entreated them to check it out.

I told the last one, “Never mistake something cult for a cult. Anyway, what happened? You used to be so cool.”

:^D

The Junto reminds me that in writing music and “songs,” I also create sound(s). These sounds have texture and personality and interact in mathematical and metaphysical ways. I am way more aware of my compositional process now, and every week I mine Junto tracks for technique and marvel at the output. Even when not able or capable to participate in a given challenge, the assignments themselves are enough to spark lanterns otherwise unlit. I’ve also found friends. It’s made the internet not such a cold, commercial place.

Just when you think you couldn’t grow…


This video of Marc speaking in April 2014 at the SETI institute about the Junto is a definitive explanation of its intent and impact: