Ah, Joys of Studying…

Giving myself the night off.

Actual partying being out of the question, we ran to Tsutaya to rent a DVD…

Probably one of my favorite of all times as it stands (and to all the ladies out there: if you think Brad Pitt can hold a candle to Marcello Mastroianni, you’ve got no taste).

Qualche volta, la notte, quest’oscurità, questo silenzio, mi pesano.
Sometimes at night the darkness and silence weighs upon me…

E’ la pace che mi fa paura. Temo la pace più di ogni altra cosa:
Peace frightens me; perhaps I fear it most of all.

mi sembra che sia soltanto un’apparenza , e nasconda l’inferno.
I feel it is only a façade hiding the face of hell.

Pensa a cosa vedranno i miei figli domani…
I think, ‘What is in store for my children tomorrow?’

Il mondo sarà meraviglioso, dicono. Ma da che punto di vista, se basta uno squillo di telefono ad annunciare la fine di tutto?
‘The world will be wonderful’, they say. But from whose viewpoint? if one phone call could announce the end of everything?

Bisogna di vivere fuore dalle passione e altri sentimenti nell’armonia che c’è nell’opera d’arte reuscita, in quell’ordino incantato.
We need to live in a state of suspended animation like a work of art, in a state of enchantment.

Vodremmo reuscire al amarci tanto, da vivere fuore del tempo, distacati…
We have to succeed in loving so greatly that we live outside of time, detached…


Steiner to Marcello in La Dolve Vita

Bashing crappy movies, while providing a delightfully entertainming substitute at the same time, is an art that the Filthy Critic has mastered to a point rarely seen before:

That The Day After Tomorrow even has a plot is an obligatory nod to what director/writer Roland Emmerich must feel is a quaint old tradition of story-telling in movies.


The movie also wants us to despise Dick Cheney. I hate Dick Cheney; I bet his wife and his dog hate him but stick around because he’s got a fucking awesome bomb shelter. But a true and worthwhile hatred has to be rooted in facts and reality. That’s how I establish my hatred for almost everything. If you have to lie to make people hate the same things you do, you’re either an asshole or too fucking lazy to collect the facts you need. This movie’s too lazy.

Recently, I ended up pondering for a few microseconds whether one should see Jean-Michel Jarre as
a) a visionary pioneer, bound by the technological shortcomings of his era

b) a talentless wanker guilty of some of the cheesiest music this side of Miami Vice.

For those of you who missed this particular episode of the apocalyptic genre that would come to be known as 80’s Synthesizer Music, here is a quick reminder:

Jean-Michel Jarre is the son of famous movie score composer Maurice Jarre (Lawrence Of Arabia and heaps of others) and apparently was spoiled at a very early age with more machines and expensive Casio keyboards than one can only think of. The results was an uninterrupted string of somewhat catchy, electronic-ish, cheddar-laced tunes, played from the late 70s until now in front of massive audiences, whose attention was safely diverted from the insipid music by record-setting amount of eye-popping pyrotechnics and more laser lights than at a Jedi sex orgy.

Admittedly the sound of yesterday’s electronic synthesizers really sucked beyond words, and creating a track with of one these without raising immediately a vivid imagery of supermarket PA systems and tech support waiting time is a hopeless task.

But here is the problem: with roughly the same equipment, both Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder did better than him, before him. Granted: a good 90% of Kraftwerk’s music would bore even the most neurasthenic East-German to tears while Moroder is himself guilty of things like Flashdance (oh yea, What a feeling)… However, the formers also produced some of the most anthemic (and widely pillaged… err “sampled”) tunes of all time, and “I Feel Love” remains the mother of all electro tracks.

On the other hand, a quick listen to some of JMJ’s hits (yes, I went that far, that’s how dedicated I am), will quickly bring you the proof that, back in the 80s you could definitely sell *anything* provided it had long hair, dark glasses and a pastel suit. Give it a try yourself: if you strip these tracks from their three-note melodies and endless sequences of filtered pads, you come face to face with the depressing sight of a pathetically naked beat-box that has roughly as much depth as an ethiopian lake in mid-Summer.

Other than that, one positive aspect of it all, is that we are probably talking about one of the very few artist whose work doesn’t suffer in any way when converted to midi files (aka: “all the power of a $30 Casio electronic organ into a $3000 computer”).

In conclusion, we can safely postulate that Jean-Michel Jarre is indeed a talentless wanker.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the creative genius of Vangelis Mike Oldfield and his seminal Tubular Bells.

Update: Indeed, prolonged exposure to JMJ’s music seems to yield some sort of brain damage, as I completely blanked on the actual author of that other monument of new-agey Bontempi music. Of course Vangelis was way too busy exploring the endless possibilities of the five “chorus” keys on his Yamaha keyboard… Lovers of crappy music among my readership will have rectified by themselves.
Thanks to Guru for ever-so-kindly pointing that out… I will gently overlook the lameness of his apology for the King of Cheddar (in a nutshell “You wrong. me right. JMJ great.”: I’m blown by such depth of argumentation), probably to be hanged on excessive marijuana consumption (or naturally limited intellectual capacities). While this might also be linked to his loose grasp of English syntax, I am not sure how it ties in with his morbid fascination for underage pornography (edited his post to remove the porn URL).
Since we are at it and since I seem to have stirred anger among the Supermarket-music fan masses: I shall temper my disparaging comments on JMJ by pointing out that, before eventually coming to the sad realization that most of it was utter crap, I used to actually listen to his music. And as most everybody know, you can only truly hate what you have at least once liked (even if you were only an influenceable 6-year old at the time). Kind of an oedipal post, I admit. But let’s face it: his music really sounds like what my cat could do, left alone with my cellphone and a metronome.

Update: a full up-to-date list of mixes is available here.

Lest we forget that the gentleman ranting endlessly on these pages actually spends a sizable share of his time lovingly fondling wax and stroking keyboards until harmonious bleeps of satisfaction come out in arpeggios… I added a little something to my online mix repository.

I should probably tell you this is some old mix I recorded 3 years ago and just found yesterday while cleaning up my room… ’cause none of the tracks are any more recent than that: didn’t do that on purpose, it just happened… and I’m not one to shun old tracks just because they are old.

truth be told, I was originally planning to put together a nice & clean new demo with all the shiny new stuff I brought back from my last US incursion. Some sick SF Deep House, loads of funky tribal white labels from Miami and countless other studio experiments courtesy of yours truly and his little robot friends…

So I started playing, garden bay-window wide open, basking in Tokyo’s shining April sun, and completely lost track somewhere amidst the heavy incense fumes.

OK. Maybe I should stop here in order to explain the incense part: I do NOT usually light up sticks of sacred incense every time I’m on the decks… See, the nice part about living right next to a cemetery, beside the fact your neighbours don’t mind the loud music at night, is that, every once in a while, the whole surrounding area is filled by the spiritual smell of dozens of massive incense sticks burning outside of the Buddhist temple. It’s like Benares, without the hundred of corpses floating on the Ganges in an advanced state of decomposition…

Anyway, the warm sunny day, the smell of incense (staple of every freakin’ tree-huggin’ peace-lovin’ Californian househead party, as everybody knows), my overall mellow disposition toward that shitty planet on that very day, all concurred to make me record this.

It’s not very funky, definitely not cutting-edge, not progressive, not loud, not like these at all… but it’s a rather groovy soundtrack to your spring & summer afternoons. It’s got some of my favorite tracks of the decade, along with a few gems straight from the secret stash of Master Dave. It’s mostly deep house, with some chunks of electro, to make sure everybody stays awake. It’s far from perfect and would most definitely call for a second take, but as I said, it’s merely a sidetracked session that came out nice enough. So I ain’t spending more time on it.

I just figured it would be nice to put some new music here and help putting at rest the aching ears of my fans… so here goes:

Dr Dave’s Summer Nostalgia Mix – 2004


PS: I might update this entry later on with a succinct tracklisting if I feel like it.

PPS: I guess now is also a good time to announce officially that we’ll throwing our first Summer Park Party in Yoyogi Koen next Month! On Sunday the 23rd of May, we’ll be bringing decks, groovy beats and good vibes to a lovely little spot inside the Park and playing for whoever cares to come share the afternoon with us. Stay posted for more info or contact me directly.

A small update to my entry on the Kusama Yayoi exhibition at the Mori Museum:

The Mori’s website has a really good page dedicated to the exhibition and the crazy woman behind it (I had looked in vain for this link last time, probably not hard enough):

Here is the English version, Here is the Japanese version.

Kusamatrix is going on at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills until May: go check it out it you’ve not done it already!

In order to keep up with this world’s latest trends, and think global while acting local and eating very local (gyosa with natto and pasta at lunch, to be exact), I regularly go on an extensive browsing and skimming of that mythical “blogosphere” I’ve been reading about in hip media (the same that used to tell me how balls.com was gonna “revolutionize the way I was buying balls online” etc). From my entirely unscientific study sample, it seems one of the latest question on every bloger’s mind is whether Sofia Coppola’s last movie is very racist, kind of racist or not so racist. Even our dear froggy blogers seem to take a keen interest in this burning issue.

The movie, according to its detractors, greatly harms the US Asian population by perpetuating negative stereotypes about Japanese people…

Indeed, as most pointed out, and from what I remember, it does feature:

  1. Overly polite Japanese business people who bow every 30 seconds
  2. Wacky TV show hosts that go out of their way looking utterly ridiculous, shooting for the lowest common denominator’s type of humor, while more or less humiliating their guests all along.
  3. Japanese people unable to tell apart L’s and R’s for the life of them, making way for all kind of crazy misunderstanding and wacky situations.
  4. Fading american actors paid a hefty sum to advertise the merits of Suntory Whisky to the japanese masses…
  5. Horny young chaps who like to get “private dance lessons” from pretty long-legged ladies…
  6. Same young chaps, always ready to massacre a drunk rendition of old american classics at 3am in one of the countless karaoke bars cluttering the city…

And probably countless other examples…

Now, are there any truth in these stereotypical scenes and descriptions?

Hell yea!

I seriously suspect that some of the people throwing rather bold accusations of racism (explicit or “submerged”, as some contend) against Sofia Coppola do not have a fraction of her knowledge of Japan. Actually, it is pretty safe to assume they have close to no first-hand knowledge of contemporary Japanese culture. Otherwise, they might have realized how, in a lot of aspects, the “stereotypes” they loudly decry in the movie are, in fact, very much actual – watered-down – traits of Japanese culture…

Let’s take a quick look at the aforementioned points, shall we:

1) Overzealous politeness and incessant bowing is not a myth: ask anybody who’s ever had a business relationship with a typical Japanese company. Not that this is actually something the movie or I would think about criticizing. It is simply a part of Japanese life and common business practice as much as shaking hands is in a western country.

2) Preposterous TV shows featuring excruciatingly annoying hosts: I mean, come on, have you watched any Japanese TV lately??? In comparison, the slightly doppy host in LiT is a model of professionalism.
Update: Actually, my bad. The show host featured in LiT is a real Japanese TV show host (can you tell I never watch TV). I saw a few bits of his show, and can tell you he really toned it down for the movie.

3) One word: Engrish

4) Foreign celebrities and “japandering“: would you be surprised to learn that Bill Murray’s commercial for some local whisky brand is for real – only with a different actor…

5) Regarding “Private Dance Lessons”: if my stint as a bartender/waiter in one of Tokyo’s “most refined gentleman’s club” is any indicator, Japanese youths are indeed very keen on taking the ladies to the champagne room… Yes, Japanese men sometimes are total hornballs who go to sleazy places and pay to see naked girls (or guys). just as much as every other men from about every country on that freaking planet: get over it!

6) Karaoke: Did I mention that before working in a strip club, I did work in a small neighbourhood bar near azabu-juban? did I mention that said bar was equipped with the latest in terms of Karaoke technology for the enjoyment of drunk salarymen and tipsy O.L.?
I will merely point you to my current state of mental imbalance and overall borderline psychopathic behaviour, as well as my irresistible urge to stump repeatedly on any microphone-shaped object whenever I hear the word “my” and “way” in the same sentence nowadays… Let’s just say it was a deeply psychologically scarring experience.

So a vast majority of these so-called “stereotypes” about Japanese are irremediably and undeniably true
Does that make the movie an objective, unbiased look at Japanese culture? Of course not! It is not a freakin’ documentary, it is a movie aimed precisely at showing how people have difficulties understanding foreign cultures and can feel somehow alienated by these differences…

The movie does not claim Bob and Charlotte’s attitude toward their Japanese counterparts to be exemplary behaviour, but since when do movie heroes have to be flawless embodiment of humanistic qualities?

The movie does not imply that the quirky and strange facets of Japanese civilization do not exist elsewhere, otherwise why would Bill Murray’s character feel so alienated by his own all-american Martha Stewartish wife as well?
All of the above points can be successfully matched with equal quirkiness or sheer imbecility by about any culture on Earth: Japanese TV only seem really stupid until your remember Jerry Springer and what passes for TV in the US. I’ll take twenty japanese polite bows any day over your average American sales consultant’s colgate smile and pushy demeanour. And need I say that the occasional melting of English consonants by Japanese locals speaking an otherwise decent English is nowhere near as hilarious as what you get when hapless gaijins take a shot at speaking basic Japanese (and that is, assuming we overlook the fact that most americans have trouble mastering their own language, let alone bothering to learn any foreign language)…

Of course Lost of Translation is packed with clichés a dozen, but if this is a punishable offense, I think it’s time to fold the whole Hollywood industry and call it a day, ’cause the competition is rather fierce in this domain…

I will finish by saying I might give more credits to some of the valid arguments fueling that controversy, if not for the fact that the official boycott site:

  1. complains in the name of “Asian Americans and the stereotypes it is conveying about them“. If this is not racism, then I don’t know what is. Implying that a movie that talks about people living in a certain country (Japan) could be applied to people living in another country (US), not even because they are of Japanese descent, but because they are somewhat of the same skin color! Tell me who’s using racial stereotypes here?
    I don’t see how cultural traits of people living in Tokyo are supposed to reflect poorly on American citizen, who just happen to have parents born somewhere in Asia…

  2. gives the grossly inaccurate, ridiculously one-sided, historically incompetent Last Samurai as an example of “positive, unbiased” take on Japanese culture. no comment

Frankly, I’m the first one to be appalled at Hollywood’s “lack of cultural sensitivity” (major understatement) and its overall cultural imperialism. But picking on Lost in Translation on that ground is seriously looking in the wrong direction, when it’s so obvious Sofia Coppola has a lot of affection for Japan and Japanese people, and shows it in her movie.
This kind of PCness bigotry only serves to weaken an otherwise very respectable cause.

In our pre-apocalyptic days of fear and anarchy, where every pimply teenager equipped with $300 of CompUSA hardware and a broadband connection can contribute to sap the very foundations of our cherished capitalistic society, different people have different ways of fighting “intellectual property theft”.

For the RIAA, which is obviously not reticent about jailing half the 12-29 population in the US and abroad, it has meant hiring a lot of lawyers and turning to court settlement fines instead of record sales, as a source for profit. So much so that they are now being sued under the RICO Act (originally tailored to fight more traditional forms of organized crime and racketeering, but still seems pretty fitting in this case).

The MPAA is slowly coming up to speed in terms of random scare tactics and other useless gesticulations, but in the meantime, they have settled on whining and moaning the usual corporate way, with a touching chorus on their huge profit loss. At this rate, they might even *gasp* have to stop shelling out millions of bucks to semi-articulate actors so they can show their familiar face, bleached teeth, cancerous tan, silicon implants and overall incapacity to convey the slightest human emotion with an ounce of conviction. Come to think of it, they might consider diverting an extra amount of that cash toward hiring real screenwriters to replace the brain hemorrhaging hollywood hacks who come up with such mind-blowing ideas as “Glitter, Maria Carey: the real Story” or “Bring it on: a no holds barred immersion into the fierce world of professional baton-twirling competition”… yea maybe they will (hope is cheaper than most food and you can live on it for a while)…

All in all, the way these people dealt with the unavoidable evolution of technology mostly revolved around raiding kids bedroom and showering Capitol Hill with lobbying money in order to get inept, unconstitutional, protectionist texts voted into laws.

And then, there’s French director Jan Kounen and actor Vincent Cassel, who, in order to thwart the intense trafficking likely to arise around their soon-to-open new movie, decided to release it themselves on P2P networks.

Well, not the real thing, of course: just a very convincing fake file. The actual movie titles would start rolling for a few minutes and suddenly cut into a recording of the two men, explaining with a good-natured smile to the pirate-that-be, how their movie would be much more enjoyable with the nice crispy photography and surround sound of a theater, instead of the usual crappy quality you get with internet telesync rips. The rest of the file cleverly consisting of looped promotional materials (“behind the scenes” footage etc).

How not to be seduced by this smart and funny way to fight for your bread and butter: rather than sue everything in sight, try to appeal to people’s intelligence and expose your case with rational arguments.

Well, this approach does postulate that your intended audience is not essentially composed of gregarious dim-witted simpletons, something that might be hard to establish with regards to your average Hollywood movie…

Though I’m not such a huge comics fan (especially the online kind…) the stuff at Electric Sheep Comics really caught my eye.

Not only does this guy really put the web format to good use, with a few very subtle animations and some nifty interactive tricks here and there, but some of the stories make a pretty good reading, tackling serious issues in an original way.

His last piece, Delta Thrives is a bit too mushy new-agey for my taste, though not totally uninteresting and featuring some beautiful graphics… but the series I really liked, was his sci-fi take on the recent US war in Afghanistan, the Spiders, which features both over-the-top, though not so stupid, ideas for what war could be in an alternate dimension, what it could become some day, as well as accurate commentaries on what it already is these days…

The oddly familiar Overheard @ the Rave, “Written in Willits, California September, 1997“, brought back many fond memories of one of my favorite place under the sun… (and by the way, her name is Kelly, and she likes to watch the stars hint, hint).

The life of wannabe-pioneers of the dot.com era and the arising of the golden computer age will sound eerily close to home to anybody who’s lived in SF somewhere around the late 90’s… Ahhh, the cyber-dream…

Definitely a worthwhile way to kill a few minutes in front of your computer.

For boring technical reasons, I need to create individual blog entries for some old contents. Nothing new here: feel free to skip…

First Retrogressive mix, recorded in 2001 with Rakshasa and Arteghem.
Deep and Funky San Francisco sound, some personal productions and old classics.

Fun Fact: 12 years later, Arteghem is currently topping the Progressive House charts (on Beatport).