A Fresh Hello

Guessing that some new readers will arrive here on account of the About.Me page I created this holiday weekend (or perhaps because of a search result) and having a little time to fill waiting for the latest BeatConscious show to upload, I’ll post a fresh ‘hello’ and a brief recap of my time online….

MadameFLY achieved conceptual entityhood in the late 90s, and the online presence followed by about 2000.  Hanging out at a few friendly music sites (Art of the Mix and thedownbeat.org were key) encouraged me to build my own website — BeatConscious.org — and to think seriously about what had been a 20 year habit, making mixtapes.  A music sequencing and production program, MixMeister, gave me the essential tools to do the job properly — but not without some years of practice.  My deepest gratitude goes to those individuals, especially in the MixMeister community, who gave me lessons and encouragement from the outset.

The best explanation to date for what I’m about with BeatConscious was given in a post I did for the GuardianUK blog jam series (http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2013/feb/06/blog-jam-beatconscious).  In a nutshell:

This is a down-tempo shop, for the most part, so it stands apart from the raft of blogs devoted to more commercial sounds, and provides a little relief from the newness obsession that drives most music writing. BeatConscious is dedicated to ensuring that excellent, deserving music stays in play, despite that ‘sell by’ date. Sooner or later, a blogger with one eye on the charts starts to sound like every other blogger; BeatConscious offers an alternative.

After a long stint on Live365, the current broadcast comes courtesy of the two streaming options, Mixcloud and mix.dj … and also my website, BeatConscious.org.  Comments may be left here or on the streaming sites, so let me know how you like the music, and feel free to suggest tunes you’d like to hear on the show.

Aaron Swartz, R.I.P.

Today is for mourning the death of Aaron Swartz, if you knew him, or for simply despairing — if you did not — the news of his suicide after having been bullied by the US government through a prosecution that might have resulted in 30+ years of imprisonment for him.  His story will be easy for you to find, as it is being told across the internet by those who knew, admired and loved him, so I won’t recount the details here.  I will just refer to one blog post by Larry Lessig which is available here: http://t.co/jSgrR52U and which includes this reflection:

[Aaron] is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying. I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the United States government behind you.

For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

A strange thought occurred to me, reading Lessig’s words … because I’ve also lately been following on Twitter the outpouring of reaction to the NRA and the “gunners” (in Kurt Eichenwald’s phrase) who seek to justify the massive arms presence in this country by evoking the possibility of the common man having to take a stand against the government. 

Set aside for an instant your recognition of how ridiculous a proposition this actually is; because while a gun would never be my choice to settle anything, when I read the story of Aaron Swartz being bullied and threatened with essentially the rest of his life in prison over his release of copyrighted documents to the public, I can, if only for a moment, understand where the gunners are coming from. 

Some of the threads from 2012’s web of music

I can’t do a straight-up standard best-of ranking, that’s beyond my capacity, if not entirely against my principles.  What I can do (have done) is to review the year’s shows and indicate a few broad categories that appear to have been important to my sense of the music last year.  (I hope it goes w/o saying that there’s not exclusively 2012 releases on this list, because the show was already running long before 2012 had any releases to its name….)

A Face in the Crowd – These artists seemed to be on everyone’s must-hear list for at least part of the year, and I just joined in the chorus:

Lana del Rey, Poliça, Emeli Sande, Alice Russell (a perennial favorite), Stereo Alchemy, Feist, The Walkmen, Maceo Plex, Andreya Triana, Maya Jane Coles, Chromatics, Nicholas Jaar, Mikky Ekko, Pretty Lights (I tend to like their tracks with a soul/R&B/downtempo tilt.)

Am I All Alone?  These artists didn’t pop up as often, but I found their stuff compelling:

The Weather Station, Sea of Vapours, Blondes, Silent Rider, Antler, I Was Totally Destroying It, Stray Theories, Need a Name, Gelka, Esbe, Stac, Groove Cereal (a number of these I know about thanks to the unceasing good work of Dusted Wax Kingdom.)

Independents — well, that’s a pretty broad stroke these days, isn’t it?  These are just a few I categorize as independents because I know they are self-releasing their material, and they do a great job:

All India Radio, The Warheads, Jeremy Latham/Frequency Storm, Joe Sizzlax, Clive Button (a few names on the lists above probably would qualify here as well.)

Remixers of Distinction – I live for these alternate takes, they provided many of this year’s top highlights:

Soundhog’s RMX of Steve Miller’s Fly Like an Eagle; Jozif’s RMX of INXS; Chromatics reroll of Neil Young’s Into the Black; JBoogie’s moombahsoul touch applied to Gotye’s Someone That I Used to Know and Miguel’s Adorn; Gramatic vs The Beatles for a brand new look at Don’t Let Me Down.

And then, of course, the classic tracks that sound good whenever I pull them out and dust them off — this year brought these treasures back onto the set-lists: Natalie Merchant’s Carnival; Malcolm McLaren’s 12″ extended Madame Butterfly; Massive Attack’s Protection from the 2006 remastered set; if I’m mixing deep ambient, I’m mixing Carbon Based Lifeforms and The Emancipator, count on it; the beautiful New Order tracks like Your Shining Face; Spain’s Dreaming of Love;  Blodwyn Pig, David + David … I could just go on …

I could just go on, but you get the idea, and if you want all the details, the entire year’s worth of set-lists for all 27 shows is available here (most recent shows can be found at the bottom of the page): 



Oh, one more thing …

I should be done with Christmas dinner by now, what with the prior “sugar smack bacon” post and all … but actually there’s one other food crime still to flag.  Frozen brussels sprouts.

I remember one PBS multi-part feature on China which took a lingering look at the role of cabbage in the Chinese diet, and the value of cabbage as one of those root cellar vegetables that will winter over, providing nutrition until new crops begin to come along in the spring.  Root cellar vegetables need the minimum in terms of preservation techniques; they seemed designed by nature to endure with minimal fuss and no special techniques to keep them edible for the long stretch.

And so, you know, brussels sprouts are like tiny cabbages, right?  And as such, you can keep them in the vegetable bin of your fridge for unconscionably long times, until you get around to eating them (want to want them sooner?  Halve them and roll them in olive oil, S&P, and roast them, then toss in a honey-mustard-butter blend and serve.  You’re welcome.)  But back to my point: given the in-built enduring character of the vegetable, why on earth would you want to buy frozen brussels sprouts? 

Some vegetables come through the freezing process with less in the way of quality reduction than others, but I think we can agree that some cell wall damage is part of the bargain for having vegetables on-hand and ready to cook in your freezer.  That cell wall damage softens the mouth feel of the cooked frozen vegetable in a noticeable way, but as I say, it’s part of the bargain of keeping something on hand until who-knows-when you’ll feel like cooking it.

Fortunately, that’s not a bargain you’d ever have to contemplate with brussels sprouts, which winter-over in root cellars (never mind freezers) just fine.  But so, then why buy frozen brussels sprouts?  Especially if you have the option of grocery shopping every single day, if you needed to?  (Yes, retired people, I am talking at you.)

The discerning reader will already have grasped the point of this post, and I won’t belabor it — I’m not really a qualified gourmand, I just have my preferences, and they don’t include frozen brussels sprouts or microwaved bacon — things I’ll be avoiding in future.   

And, as I’ve said, in all other respects, Christmas dinner was very fine.

Maple Bacon & Cooking with Friends

So David explained his reasons for cooking bacon in the microwave and it all came down to “prevents grease spattering  on the oven walls”.  I have let this sink in, and my reaction remains the same — you don’t cook food with the ease of the clean-up being foremost in your mind; you cook food with the quality of the flavor and eating experience foremost in your mind.  Or anyhow, that’s how it works if you’re not Dutch (he would tell you that his Dutch ancestry governs his determination to assess things according to tidyness.)

So I made the bacon again for myself today, on a rack over a pan in the toaster oven.  Hints from Heloise: you can tent the bacon with a square of tinfoil and Oh! Look! No spatters in the oven!  How about that.  Plus you throw away one square of tin foil instead of two pounds of grease-sodden paper towels that were wrapped around the microwaved bacon; the frugal among you will be delighted to be reminded that tin foil can be washed and reused, should you choose.

Now!  Now we have bacon worth the eating: light and crisp.  Remember, you are doing this especially for your taste-buds, since bacon is not recommended at all for any internal organ or bodily system.  So if it doesn’t taste exactly as exquisite as it should, then whatthefuck is the point of making it?  Well, there is no point, obvs.

In all other regards, Christmas dinner was very fine.

OccupyWallStreet explained

Short and to the point, Larry Lessig:

Everything is a Remix

It amazed me that I had no page (among all in their various locations) on the work of Kirby Ferguson … consider this a catch-up move:

Everything Is A Remix: THE MATRIX from robgwilson.com on Vimeo.

She says it all

My town?

Change one word and this could be about my town:

In case you thought the war was over…

…Slashdot advises otherwise: http://bit.ly/dhQwjM

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