Culture

Firesign Theatre – 50 Years!

Surreal audio at its finest! These mind-bending journeys into the absurd recesses of American culture have aged well – or perhaps they haven’t aged at all.

It’s like listening to an old radio show, only there are always several things happening at once, and they don’t quite make sense till you understand the whole album and figure out who all the different characters are.

Which takes about 200 listens. So get started! See youtube links below.

Historical Note – classic rock-era albums require repeated listens to grasp the flow of the entire work. The early tracks on an album make more sense after you get to know the later ones, etc. Ditto for Firesign – there are layers of interweaving meanings, references, characterizations….

Choose one or two albums and play them a hundred times in the next week/month/year/decade. Don’t worry – all will become clear in the end!

Where to start? Depends on who you ask, and what time of day. Try these:

How Can You Be In Two Places At Once (includes Nick Danger episode @ 28:11)

Don’t Crush the Dwarf (featuring “High School Madness”)

Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death (End of Millennium Radio Show)

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activism, Culture, Satires

Curbing Rampant Pedestrianism

Lately I’ve noticed an ugly phenomenon in our fair bayside communities – careless and inconsiderate pedestrians have been taking over the sidewalks, forcing legally-sanctioned scooter riders to dodge, swerve, and ultimately to dismount and walk their electrified vehicles!

This has got to stop! Unfortunately, no one acts more entitled than a pedestrian on a sidewalk. You’d practically think they paid for them!

We need to get pedestrians under control before someone gets hurt. When I see scooters constantly having to dodge people on foot, I know it’s just a matter of time until a careless pedestrian is going to accidentally hit and kill a scooter rider. I’m surprised it hasn’t accidentally happened already. Those kind of accidents are to be expected when pedestrians get out of control.

Pedestrian Lanes & Laws

I propose that all sidewalks be marked with clear lanes, and pedestrians be required to stay in their lane unless they signal a turn at least 50 feet in advance.

Anyone intending to walk around SF or Oakland must obtain a license; provide proof of insurance (in case they accidentally hurt a scooter or a scooter-rider); and at all times wear a helmet, kneepads, and turn signals.

A Long-Term Vision

Ultimately, our urban vision must eliminate pedestrians entirely from the city. If enough scooters are strewn around on sidewalks and streets and dumpsters and lakes, there will no longer be any excuse for walking.

Join our campaign to eliminate pedestrianism! Email bartcourier@gmail.com

Image: San Francisco activists pile yuppie scooters in front of techie megabus.

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*****

Culture, Satires

Becoming A Cultural Influencee

I think I’ve found my new activist calling. I am going to apply to be a cultural influencee.

First I thought I might try to be an influencer. But it looks like you have to do stuff like go on the internet all the time and tell people your innermost random thoughts and all the times someone disses you at a nightclub. That doesn’t sound very fun.

But when I look at the people who are becoming influencers, it’s an impressive bunch – we’re talking Cardi B, Keireth Knightly, and even Steph Curry. Women, people of color, women who are people of color, people of color who are trans women, trans women who are not yet people of color but aspire one day to be – my kind of folks!

An Ally to the Rich and Famous

I started thinking – maybe instead of trying to be a famous influencer myself, I should endeavor to support these already-famous celebrities of diversity.

When they do something that aims to influence people, such as denouncing the president or wearing a new brand of shoes, I could be among the first to be influenced.

I’d be sort of an early adopter of influences.

Just My Luck

Of course, it would be just my luck that I’d wind up starting a trend, and pretty soon everyone would want to be the first in line to be influenced by famous influencers. I’d have to tweet press releases disclaiming any intent to actually influence people to be influenced, all the while realizing that my denial was likely to influence impressionable people to start yet another trend.

So for the record – please respect my desire not to start a cultural trend by becoming an influencee. Go find your own way to impact society!

You can support my efforts to become a cultural influencee by donating to my Anarchist A-Go-Go fund – email small, unmarked bills or large chunks of unsweetened chocolate to: <directactionnovel@gmail.com>

Photo: Famous cultural icon Cardi B, shown here influencing people to make weird faces.

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Culture

In Memory of Woody Allen

Remember Woody Allen?

I do. I once thought he was a great film maker.

The problem isn’t so much, “How did he get away with being a predator for so long?” Rather:

“How did he get away with making such shoddy films for so many years?”

A Handful of Classics?

As a young person, I thought Love & Death, Sleeper, and especially Annie Hall were great films – funny, rich with observation and meaning, well-written. I learned a lot about writing from the non-linear, anecdotal style of Annie Hall.

Then came Manhattan. Very artsy, black-and-white, new-yorkey. I really wanted to like it. But I didn’t.

Honestly, the 17-year-old kid in bed disturbed me. I wondered – where are her parents? Do they notice she didn’t come home at night? Do school officials notice him lurking around the playground?

Isn’t New York Lovely?

But that was secondary to my disappointment with the film itself. The visuals were predictable and saccharine – the direct forerunners of a piece of schlock like Serendipity. It’s as if every still shot had a title under it saying, “Isn’t New York lovely?”

Worse – the writing. A typical blundering scene: Woody and the other male lead are arguing in a classroom. Between them is a chimpanzee skeleton – remember? A rather obvious symbol, no?

Apparently the auteur wasn’t so confident in his work – because Allen’s character actually says: “We’re no better than this chimpanzee!”

Wow! Talk about subtle insights from a cinematic master! Roll over, Truffaut!

Cheap Knockoffs – Of His Own Films

The whole film is in that vein. I saw it several times when it came out, hoping to find more in it -and finally had to realize it was just a cheap knock-off of Annie Hall.

And so it has gone ever since. About once a decade I accidentally see one of his films, mainly because the old video boxes used to hide his name in the fine print and play up the famous actors he suckered into believing he was an important film maker.

A few years ago, I read a short interview with Allen in which he was asked why he made so many films, instead of focusing on one project for longer. His answer:

“After six months I get bored with the project.”

We’re Bored Too

Woody – read that sentence aloud. You’re bored – and so are we.

That will be history’s verdict on Allen – not so much the predator stuff, which will tarnish many a Hollywood legend as the truth comes out.

No – he’ll be remembered for making a couple of funny films, followed by an endless string of shoddy, repetitious dreck.

And that will be true justice.

Photo: Take a nap, Woody!

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*****

activism, Culture, Resources & Downloads

Resistance Chants!

Campfire Chants, released by Reclaiming, features a dozen street-friendly chants and songs written by Starhawk, T. Thorn Coyle, Suzanne Sterling, Ravyn Stanfield, and others.

Several of these chants were written for specific street actions – see the Lyrics and Lore booklet for details (see below).

Chants recorded by a small grassrootsy ensemble backed by conga, guitar, flute, fiddle, and more. Mixed ages and genders, with women’s voices up front. (Word is that Direct Action author Luke Hauser can be heard harmonizing in the background!).

Songs stream and download on all the usual sites – search <Reclaiming Campfire Chants>. Help boost the album by visiting Spotify and Youtube and giving it some Likes!

Free downloadable Lyrics and Lore book accompanies album – visit our website.

Visit CampfireChants.org

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