general


My wordpress software was updated a week or so ago, and evidently it resulted in some downtime on the blog. I’ve been traveling and on the move the last couple of weeks so I wasn’t able to attend to this problem. Now that I’m settled I’ve had some time to deal with the blog. It’s fixed and running again. Stay tuned for updates on my new Brooklyn digs and life and times as a PhD student in NY!

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The Owl Tree


This is kind of cool. I took the picture to the right on my Blackberry some time ago. It’s the sign that used to hang above a funky old bar in my neighborhood, called The Owl Tree (as you may have guessed). The bar was right down the street from my house, and I used to pass by it every day on my way to work or Bart or pretty much anywhere east of my apartment. As you may have also guessed by the name of the bar, there was a not-so-subtle Owl theme going on in The Owl Tree. Everything was owls. There were stuffed owls, carved owls, paper owls, stone owls, owl dolls, owl clothes. The menus were in the shape of owls, as were the napkins. Owls everywhere! It was overwhelming at times, but also so cooky as to make it interesting.

The owner was this old cantankerous guy named Bobby C. (the full name of the bar was Bobby C.’s Owl Tree), and he had owned and operated The Owl Tree just so for about 25 years. He played like he was mean, but he was really a softy. I used to wave to him every time I passed by, and I would frequently pop in for a drink. I loved going in there with people he didn’t recognize, because he would put on a show for everyone. He was that old school type of bartender; he’d put down a napkin, give you a bowl of that pretzel/nuts/wheat chex snack stuff, a packet of moist handy wipes and take your order. If you came in regularly, he remembered you and you’d usually get a drink on the house.

Anyway, old Bobby C. died of cancer several months ago. In his last few months, Bobby seemed to want to pour all his customers a final drink on the house before he died. I remember him encouraging me to come by for a drink. “Stop in, I’ll buy you a drink,” he insisted. Eventually I did, maybe a month before he died, and indeed he poured me a couple of drinks and wouldn’t let me pay for them. That’s the last time I saw him.

Bobby worked his last day on earth (so the story goes), and while I wasn’t there that night, my money says he was up to his old tricks that night. After Bobby died, the Owl Tree shut its doors for good. It’s now being renovated, and if the trend in the rest of the neighborhood carries, it will be home to some suave, pricey, uber-swank hipster bar. So it goes in the TL.

But the point of my post isn’t to talk about the Owl Tree and all the great stories that came out of there, but rather to talk about how cool I am. The photo I took was selected to be used in the Schmap San Francisco 2007 Guide. As far as I can tell, Schmap is a mash-up application that uses flickr, Yahoo’s geocoding API, Yahoo Maps and some venue review data to provide a map-based photo review of various venues in the city. It’s pretty cool (although not that smart since it doesn’t know that The Owl Tree is no more). They provide a widget (at right) that people like me can post on their blogs. Somewhere in there is my photo of the Owl Tree. I will probably add this widget to the side bar at some point.

Anyway, I’m proud of my stunning, thought provoking photographic work. I’m blessed, really. It’s a gift. Some say I’m channeling Ansel Adams, but I say he should be so lucky.

Arcus Logo

This weekend I started migrating the Arcus Associates website to its new home on MediaTemple.com. I hoped to complete the migration last night, but it’s dragging on into the work week. I apologize for any disruption or problems with email.

This move to a dedicated server will allow me to better manage the Arcus environment and website, improve and upgrade some of my software and tools, and support running the Orpheus backend server, as well as the database documentation and automated metadata browser (more on the reincarnation of Orpheus in a later post).

The DNS migration is presently under way. Please be patient with any returned emails or errors you receive in the next 24 hours. I’ll post an update with any problems or once the migration is complete.

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This morning some interesting comment spam was in my mailbox. Well, I don’t actually know if it was interesting or not, since I don’t read Russian, but it looked cool. Click on the image to see the screenshot.

I’m pretty sure this is my first non-roman alphabet spam. I’ve received some spam in Spanish and French, but nothing in a different alphabet. The text actually reads “Хорошая разработка сайта волгоград Посетите создание сайта санкт Вы найдете нас на разработка сайтов ижевск

I can only guess the translation has something to do with viagra, cialis or enlarging or shrinking various body parts, but a direct translation would be appreciated!

I’ve been a horrible blogger, I know. Life has superceded my compulsion to blog the last several weeks. I’ve been bouncing about between the coasts, working too much, playing just enough and spending time in the company of close friends. Tonight I’m off to spend Thanksgiving in Viet Nam. I can’t wait! And, fortunately, I don’t have to.

Unfortunately, I’ll be sharing Ho Chi Minh City with several heads of state, including our unfortunate and bewildered “leader.” But hopefully that won’t get in the way of a great and informative trip.

I may try to dive once while I’m there, but I doubt I’ll be near the good diving this time of year. I wanted to dive in Hoi An, but evidently the season there is over and the best diving is on the western side of the country (actually off the island of Phu Quoc), which I won’t be visiting. I may try to dive in Nha Trang, which is closer to where I’ll be travelling.

I am armed with a new camera, two unlocked GSM phones, a veritable gaggle of crazy crackers, and a friend with a video camera and mad editing skills, so don’t be surprised if you get more than you bargained for the next time I post on this blog.

Anyway, I wanted to write a brief post to say that I have plenty to rant about, and will spend some time doing exactly that when I get back to the states. Until then, enjoy yourselves.

Today, I’ll be blogging once again over on The Great Whatsit, one of my favorite community blogs. My topic today is “Life and Death in the Long Tail of Music.” The post should be up on the site today around 8:00 AM New York time.

The posting is a bit scattered, but I hope entertaining… Please read and enjoy. All of my greatwhatsit posts (all two of them!) can be accessed here.

I’ve had it up to here with the monthly Critical Mass ride in San Francisco. For those of you unaquainted with this ‘protest,’ it is a semi-organized bike ride through the streets of San Francisco. The ultimate statement, I suppose, is that bikes are better than cars, and if you drive to work instead of bike, you should be summarily shot, sliced into little tiny slivers, and stuck into the spokes of a higher being’s bike tires.

In a perfect world, we would have less cars and more bicyclists and pedestrians. And I appreciate what Critical Mass is intended to do: Raise the awareness of bicyclists in the city, and push for more bike lanes, etc. As someone who braved the streets of SF on his bike for a few years before forgoing wheels for feet and public transit (and cabs, of course), I fully empathize with the tribulations of the urban cyclist. Shit, I’ve even done a movie about it. I get it.

But these little protests are fucking annoying. Rather than make the intended point, they annoy motorists, infuriate the poor folks stuck on public buses who just want to go home but are instead stuck on a bus, unable to move because of a loud and self-serving demonstration. As a pedestrian, I find these protests totally offensive.

This afternoon I walked down to my corner store to grab a snack, only to find Geary Street, a major thoroughfare, totally jammed up with thousands of bicyclists towing loud speakers with annoying music, doing their monthly Critical Mass ride. Why they were on Geary instead of Market is beyond me, but I would speculate they lost their protest permit for Market Street, so they are getting pushed to the backwaters. Next, their annoying ass protest be ought to be pushed over to Treasure Island, and that would be a good thing.

One would think that protesters seeking to highlight the need for less cars and more bikes would be sympathetic to people *not* in cars. I mean, shouldn’t these people actually endorse people like me, people who are car-free citizens who traverse the city on foot, on public transport and in cabs? I mean, I’m “one less car” too, right?

Wrong. Evidently, pedestrians are just as much the enemy as cars. Rather than heed the red light and allow me to cross Geary when the little green man said I could, these whack ass motherfuckers just kept on rolling through. When I tried to traverse the intersection, I was hollered at and jeered at by the protesters. WTF? This isn’t the first time I’ve been scorned by Critical Mass for going about my business on foot in the city, and it won’t be the last. But I hope someone from CM reads this and tries to create a more agreeable and effective disposition amidst the CM riders.

After all, the goal is to raise awareness and sensitivity about bicycles in the city, isn’t it? Or is it just an annoying, prolonged, aggressive migrating rant from the soapbox? I’m beginning to think it’s the latter. These cats don’t give a shit about any one but themselves, and that makes them just as annoying as motorists with a similar sense of self-entitlement. So Critical Mass, you can kiss my pedestrian ass.

View from the DJ Booth
View from the DJ Booth @ Olive

Last night’s gathering at Olive was a smashing success! After a couple of technical hiccups in the early going, the music flowed and the crowd thickened. Jeannie’s DJ prowess again caused heads to nod and booties to shake. We had so much fun on Thursday, we are returning to Olive for another night this Sunday, 5/28/2006 from 7 to late! We all know you don’t have to work on Monday, so what better place to pass the evening after Sunday BBQs? Come celebrate the official start of Summer with your pals.

This coming Thursday, I’ll be spinning some records and drinking some delicious cocktails at Olive in the glorious TL, SF. I’ll be on the tables from ~6:00 to ~7:00, so come around 7:00 if you want to hear a real DJ. My co-hosts will be Turntablistress DJ Jeannie Yang and the infamous Vijay Viswanathan.

We’ll be there from 6:30 until 10:00 or so, we have the tables until 9:30. Come visit for a drink, a chat and some music. Olive has a delicious menu as well, so stop on by!

An article appeared in New York Magazine recently hailing the death of the generational gap and the rise of being forever young. The idea was sort of interesting at first glance, but withers under a deeper analysis. This article was the topic of an interesting post over on The Great Whatsit (thanks for a nice analysis, Farrell). I thought I’d take some moments to blast it here.

Sternbergh’s central thesis seems to be ‘Omigod, these people aren’t grown up! Just look at their pants! They all have iPods! The generation gap is no more!’ Could we have a more superficial analysis, please? Don’t blink or those jeans will be out of fashion. Pre-ripped jeans were lame in the 80’s, and they are lame now. iPods are ubiquitous, not because we are all stuck in our youth, or because we don’t have to grow up anymore, but because the technology exists to have all of your music in your pocket. Everybody has an iPod. Ditto cell phones, computers, broadband at home, etc. Does this mean that adults these days aren’t grown-up? It depends on the definition of adulthood, which is a purely contextual term. Are our gadgets and style of dress evidence of a vanishing generation gap? Nope.

The author’s analysis mistakes fashion trends for a signifier of a diminishing generation gap. It uses the most superficial observation imaginable as evidence of sweeping societal shifts. Instead of digging down and looking at how our reality is different from our parents’, Sternbergh is content with waxing philosophical on ripped jeans and music preferences. Society is changing, really fast, and a more interesting analysis would have been to look at how technology has accelerated the change and made new lifestyles possible and fashionable. As society changes, of course one would expect the people that live in it to respond accordingly. Duh. But that doesn’t mean that adulthood is no longer desirable or the generation gap has evaporated.

It may be true that some adults, even the small, probably anomalous sample of rich aging hipsters interviewed in the article, have slightly different priorities than older generations. But how different are those priorities? Money still seems to be the ultimate measure of success in this article. The difference is in what young adults are required to do to be successful.

It’s no longer necessary to have a corner office and a staff to make 6 figures and have a nice life. All you need is a laptop and some knowledge of technology. Thanks, broadband! Moreover, the office culture in some places has changed because the dot-com experiment of the ’90s indicated that giving highly skilled, highly motivated knowledge workers long leashes translated into higher productivity. Successful companies today are different in so many respects than the companies previous generations worked for and built.

And what about that missing generation gap? I would argue it’s right where it’s always been. Let’s accept one of the premises of the article, that all ‘grups’ are downloading Bloc Party and wearing goofy ripped jeans. What are 15 year olds doing? Some research suggests that kids these days don’t care about Bloc Party; they’re all into that new Bloc Party/Kanye West mashup just released by DJ Matt Hite, featured on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto and re-mixed for that fresh new anime joint that just got posted on YouTube. Their noses are buried in their hacked PSP3 with the AJAX plugin they wrote during English class to IM with their friends, and they are hanging out with said friends on MySpace. The grups in the article are living in the download culture; kids these days are living in the remix culture. At least they were last year. This year, that’s old news. We know MySpace is dead, since Bill O’Reilly knows what it is. Next year? Who knows.

A nice thing about being grown-up is deciding that pre-ripped jeans are lame, no matter how much they cost and who is wearing them, and wearing whatever the hell one wants. So don’t worry. The generation gap is alive and well, we’ll be as aliented from our children as our parents were from us during our teens. And just because the uniform of the modern professional has more holes and less khaki doesn’t mean we are all doomed to be 15 years old forever. It is merely a sign of the ever-changing fashion cycle, powered as it is by a changing society. Nothing more, nothing less.

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