Noosphere Blues

[ Tuesday, December 31, 2002 ]

Coming out of a year of political reaction, economic doldrums, and runaway foreign policy arrogance (but other than that pretty good), there are plenty of cultural-political things to look ahead to in 2003- here are a few pretty much at random:

Two new books from Jim DeRogatis, a revamped edition of Kaleidoscope Eyes, covering four decades of psychedelic rock, and an anthology on the alternative rock movement of the 90s.

Perhaps a new issue of 21st Century, the ambitious but occasional e-zine from Australia.

A continued proliferation of local revolts against the USA Patriot Act.

More avant-literary poetry blogs.

An interesting web-based grass roots insurgent campaign by Howard Dean ( and perhaps Gary Hart as well) for the Democratic nomination. If for no other reason (but there are others) to truly establish the medium as a tool for upstart off-center political candidacies.

More excoriations of lifestyle authoritarians like this one from Reason Magazine.

Warren Zevon in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame (lame as that institution is)

More Ray Sweatman poem cut-ups.

More ambitious visionary manifestoes.

The continued blossoming of Jesse Walker's film criticism, an adjunct to his already fine political writing.

Some report on the progress of R.U. Sirius's book on the history of counter-cultures: Abraham to Acid House.
More eccentric timeline juxtapositions.
More Uggabugga historical idea- maps.
A chance to use Grokker.

Phil [3:07 PM]

[ Monday, December 30, 2002 ]

With infinitely more insight and accuracy than Allan Bloom, Brian Eno laments the real closing of the American mind.
Phil [3:15 PM]

[ Saturday, December 28, 2002 ]

Peter Bochan, the master of political sound-mixes, collaging media sound footage, oral history archives and music, will broadcast his annual "Shortcut" through the year this week. Archives of some previous Shortcuts and Bochan mixes are available here.
Phil [3:10 PM]

[ Friday, December 27, 2002 ]

Forty years after General Ike spoke of the military-industrial complex, Bruce Sterling adumbrates the next stage new wave Cyber-Security Industrial complex. Thanks to Jon Lebkowski's Weblogsky, a source of high-energy links on science, technology, culture and the special sauce that makes for a great sandwich.
Phil [4:25 PM]

[ Thursday, December 26, 2002 ]

The case that 2002 may (mountains of meretricious crap notwithstanding) be remembered as a classic year for pop culture in 2022.
Phil [3:18 PM]

The case for 1982 as a (not yet acknowledged) classic year for film.
Phil [3:12 PM]

[ Tuesday, December 24, 2002 ]

I generally ignore most best of the year lists (and not necessarily only cos I'm not on them), but Jason Gross's list of 25 favorite music scribings (by which he seems to mean mostly rock) of 2002 is a big exception. Guarantee that even if you're an avid reader of music mags online and off, you'll find 10 good pieces here you've missed.
Phil [3:10 PM]

A hot Sweatman political punk collage/elegy for Joe Strummer.
Phil [2:27 PM]

Jacob Sullum continues to be America's best neo-Menckenesque debunker of yuppie classist paternalism, which is reaching its apotheosis in the Bloomberg regime in New York City, and insidious nanny-state moralism.
Phil [2:16 PM]

A fine liberal blog I hadn't heard of before. (named after a Woody Guthrie song too). With some good links that haven't gotten much attention. One in particular, a common sense manifesto by publisher Tim O'Reilly is a bracing antidote to all the b.s. coming from the big media industry regarding intellectual property.
Phil [1:53 PM]

[ Friday, December 20, 2002 ]

Bobby Darin, a major celebrity, but actually quite underrated musician during his lifetime died 29 years ago today. A memorable appreciation of Darin by Jim Wolcott appeared a few years ago in Vanity Fair.
Phil [3:26 PM]

NarcoNews. Continues to be one great example (and there are plenty more) that the web and blogs in particular are bringing an increasingly important new dimension to serious hard beat journalism (especially on stories given short shrift, or ignored almost completely by the corporate press), as well as commentary.
Phil [2:50 PM]

The intrepid handful who've stopped by here for interesting or otherwise pertinent and worthwhile links will be familiar hopefully with Mike Finley, whose blog regularly provides passionate, personal, well-written, unpredictable commentary (topical and otherwise), and ought to be bookmarked by every fan of good writing out there. Today Mike unveiled his first annual MFF Awards, devoted to recognizing the best of the "small" blogs, the blog medium's answer I guess to the "little magazine". Worth checking, and not at all only because Noosphere Blues gets a mention.
Phil [2:36 PM]

[ Thursday, December 19, 2002 ]

Seymour Hersh, in a reflectively autobiographical interview on the New Yorker web site, says he's more than half convinced a hundred years' war is commencing, adding he hasn't been this scared since watching the Wizard of Oz at age 6.
Phil [4:48 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 18, 2002 ]

Eric Alterman (writing for the American Prospect) rightly lays into that ridiculously overrated hack Bob Woodward who, at least since splitting off from Carl Bernstein, has done nothing much but trade the staged and inconsequential effluvia of insiders as substantial investigative journalism.
Phil [4:14 PM]

[ Tuesday, December 17, 2002 ]

Long, engaging, surprising Interview with an irascible Iraqi scientist-dissident, slamming both Saddam and the U.S. from a hotel in Baghdad.
Phil [3:46 PM]

For those who look forward to year-end box set CD's, Jim DeRogatis reviews this year's prospects. Disappointed in the Dylan 75 set, he picks out a sleeper, When the Sun goes Down: The Secret History of Rock n Roll, a collection of Chicago and Delta blues, as the year's best.
Phil [3:30 PM]

[ Friday, December 13, 2002 ]

Enough with all the Orwell citing. Hendrik Hertzberg makes the case that the true literary prophet of TIA is the author of The Simulacra, and much else.His conclusion, Bush doesn't know Dick.
Phil [4:00 PM]

A win against puritanism and protectionism. New York to get wine online.
Phil [3:48 PM]

Despite the GW Bush administration/neo-con cadre's global ambitions, regime change and Yanqui imperialism apparently isn't quite what it used to be in Latin America, according to NarcoNews, one of web publishing's (hell, any publishing's) greatest innovations.
Phil [3:37 PM]

In the interests of keeping the home front safe for democracy, visit this site. (thanks to Gene Healy)
Phil [3:09 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 11, 2002 ]

If Calvin Trillin's topical doggerel seems a little too genteel, here's some regular poetic op-ed that might be more to the point.
Phil [3:43 PM]

For those of us a little wary of having the highest profile mass anti-war coalition too tied into to the far left sect, the Worker's World Party, here's a good looking radical alternative. (thanks to MaxSpeak)
Phil [3:12 PM]

[ Tuesday, December 10, 2002 ]

Like rock n roll, or any other authentic American popular art, the history of classic American journalism offers a rich variety of more obscure, eccentric, renegade figures, as crucial and compelling a complement to the canon in their way as the Kingsmen are to the Beatles.

Unfortunately, till recently, journalism has not really had its equivalent to the rare and used record shop of the kind featured in the John Cusack movie High Fidelity, and found in the boho section of most American cities and college towns. So unlike obscure classics of pop, blues, or jazz music, which music buffs, aficionados and nerds have avidly been salvaging and collecting, much of literary journalism of the past generation has been, for all practical purposes, lost. This is especially true now that mainstream book publishers have largely written off collections of fugitive pieces by reporters and columnists as a no-win commercial proposition.

While the web has barely begun to change the world of current news and opinion gathering and publishing , another thing it’s successfully doing is providing a new way of keeping alive lost, fugitive, out of print work and reviving “out of print” journalists.

One of my favorite such is The Blacklisted Journalist, a site begun by Al Aronowitz, one of the original “new journalists” of the late 50s and 1960s. Aronowitz, now 72, who pioneered coverage of counter-cultural subjects such as Beat poets, folk music, civil rights activism and rock music, while a columnist for the New York Post, has archived many of his classic Post pieces, along with updated introductions, and, in some cases, new writings.

Aronowitz, by all evidence the Zelig of 60s hipdom, is quite an egomaniac, and one of the greatest name-droppers and gossips in recent history, as can be guessed from the title of his memoir (reprinted on the site), THE INVISIBLE LINK: From the Beats to The Beatles or Why the 60s Wouldn’t Have Been The Same Without Me”). Consequently I'm not at all sure how much of his "memoir" is fact, how near-fact stoked with much imagination. But it's absorbing reading, as in this chapter recounting Aronowitz's introduction to and brief sojourn as manager of The Velvet Underground, circa 1965.
Phil [3:26 PM]

Since I've been managing to mix up Jim Henley and Gene Healy in earlier posts, now's a good time to link to both of their fine sites, Gene and Unqualified Offerings.
Well worth catching, Healy's celebration of David Chase.
Phil [2:37 PM]

[ Monday, December 09, 2002 ]

In a review of the just released 2-CD Rolling Thunder Revue collection Bob Dylan Live 1975 Adrien Begrand makes the not yet fashinable case that the 1975 live performances (more even than the mid-60s Hawks' tours) mark Dylan's musical peak.
Phil [3:29 PM]

The 21st century so far seems off to a disappointing start, what with politics and economics sounding very 19th century, and Clash of Civilization geo-religious warfare looking eerily 17th century (or 8th century). So this visionary enterprise, the Beagle 2, is welcome.
Phil [3:07 PM]

One potential historical irony (thinking optimistically for the moment) of the current trend towards giving federal authorities unprecedented (highly abusable) police state powers is that it may catalyze the formation at long last of an alliance between principled constitutional conservatives and principled democratic liberals.Edward Lazarus, reviewing recent rulings regarding the FISA Court and USA Patriot Act, sounds a pessimistic note about the intellectual integrity of "state's rights" anti-centralist conservative judges.
Phil [2:47 PM]

[ Thursday, December 05, 2002 ]

In his recently published book Exiles from a Future Time critic and literary historian Alan Wald continues his now several decades old project of re-visiting and radically revising 20th century American literary history by unearthing marginalized, but in many cases quite good writers too intransigently radical, "unpolished" and politically unrespectable to be included in the conventional collective memory. While his too single-minded focus (from a cultural point of view anyway) is socialist and unionist writers (neglecting others less Marxist or political) his work is valuable, and deserves support. Here's an excerpt from the new book, this one on 30s leftist poet Sol Funaroff, 'The Apollinaire of the Proletariat". Other memorable characters include Alfred Hayes, “the Byron of the Poolhalls” who was “addicted to pinball machines” and preferred the company of cabbies to intellectuals.

Phil [4:08 PM]

[ Wednesday, December 04, 2002 ]

Today in the war-engorged vessel called National Review Joel Mowbray gives the best account I've seen of the current machinations within the Bush administration on how to respond to Iraq's WMD weapons inventory this Saturday. His analysis (plausible, but perhaps wishful thinking on his part) is that the intra-mural squabble between uni and multi-lateralists is moving into hardcore end-game over the question of whether to declare Iraq's expected denial of WMD's a "material breach" invalidating the UN inspection process. He suggests his "sources" at the White House think Colin Powell, due back from Columbia tonight for a major meeting tommorrow on how to respond to Saturday's declaration, is edging closer to the Rumsfeld-Cheney camp, though there are other unnamed, increasingly marginalized, give inspections a chance holdouts.

Phil [1:35 PM]

[ Tuesday, December 03, 2002 ]

Admittedly a little obnoxious, but then again so is the spook who inspired it. Declan McCullaugh on how to bug John Poindexter. (thanks to mobius one for link)
Phil [4:05 PM]

When I profiled then very young dotcom entrepreneur Elon Musk a few years back (after he'd cashed out of his of his first company Zip2 for about $500 million and right before he launched PayPal) I hoped his insistence that he was actually more interested in scientific adventure and socially visionary experiments than in money was more than just perfunctory PR. So I'm glad to see (via slashdot) what he's gotten into lately. This other project of his, The Life to Mars mission, looks good too.
Phil [3:56 PM] had been rather sparse on new content of late. Happily it's now got a couple of interesting new links.
Clouds and Clocks, an online Italian rock zine. A good, long interview with Richie Unterberger, historian of esoteric garage bands, folk rock and the roots of psychedelia.
Phil [3:36 PM]

[ Monday, December 02, 2002 ]

Glad I caught (a little late) this intriguing (semi-paradoxical) rumination (disguised as a cluster of books-review) by Malcolm Gladwell that creativity is best nurtured by groups of loners.
Phil [1:55 PM]

Ray Sweatman- The first purveyor of (quite good at least in this example) found poetries in the blogosphere.
Phil [1:23 PM]

Conflict between factions of the presumptive post-Saddam coalition appear to be heating up in advance of the December 13 "summit", according to this report this morning.
Phil [8:39 AM]