Archive for 2004-10


02004-10-30 @ 11:10

Concerts I would love to see or have seen:

1. Bjork‘s Vespertine tour in 2002 – she played almost exclusively in Opera houses. I have the Minuscule DVD, which gives some insight into the Vespertine tour.
2. Vicente Amigo – I ordered the new DVD of a live performance by Vicente Amigo in his hometown of Cordoba, which is hopefully the next best thing to being there…

Side Note: I bought a region-free DVD player that also converts PAL DVDs to our NTSC system for under 300 bucks. It plays any NTSC or PAL DVD from anywhere in the World. Why people buy region-limited DVD players is a mystery to me…

3. Paco De Lucia tour in 2004 – I was deep into La Semana and did not want to get distracted by going to any shows. I would see Paco anytime. Who knows how much longer he will tour.
4. Brian Eno – I have nearly all of his albums, but have never seen him live. He performed in Europe last year, but you know, my jet was being repaired…
5. Jon Hassell (nice link to a fan site here) – I love the trumpet and his album Fascinoma is one of my favorite CDs.

This list could go on and on, but 5 is a good start….

Vizcarra Negra

02004-10-29 @ 15:10

The photo shows the back of my Vizcarra Negra, which I sold today. This guitar has a very interesting story:

Remember the Pimentel Guitar that turned up on Ebay a few months ago? Well, this Negra is related to that guitar. In 1990 I had two Pimentel guitars. The first one played better and was used on Borrasca and some of NF. The second one had a most gorgeous body made from old, old Brazilian Rosewood. Senor Pimentel told me he found the wood in his attic when he moved to a new home sometime in 1989 or thereabout. He said he had aquired the wood in the mid-Sixties and had simply forgotten about it.

When my first Pimentel was broken to pieces by an Airline around 1994 or 1995, I approached Keith Vizcarra and we worked out this plan: he was to attach the neck of the second Pimentel to the body of the first Pimentel – because that neck was completely broken – and then rebuild the body of the second Pimentel completely, adding a new Vizcarra neck and his V-pegs.

I played this new Negra on every track of Leaning into the Night, except for The Winding Road/La Primavera. I also played the guitar on some of the pieces for christmas + santa fe.

I haven’t played the guitar in over a year and had promised myself that if I did not play a guitar for a year I would sell it. Maybe the next guitarist will put it to some use. I am not a collector, it seems. There is one more guitar I might sell next year. The one-year mark is approaching for a Blanca by Eric Sahlin, which he made for me in 1995 and which was used on every single recording since then – up until La Semana that is…

If you are interested in the Sahlin, look to these pages in January or February. I will put up a notice and a photo of the guitar at that time. Eric has a six year waiting list, I might add, and this guitar is in great condition.


02004-10-28 @ 15:10

Ashlee Simpson iPod Edition
ashlee_ipod.jpg image
I really don’t have to explain this, do I?

Apple iPod Ashlee Simpson Karaoke Edition [AirBagIndustries]
(Via Gizmodo.)

In case you are wondering: go here or here and check out the clever spin…

Subscription Thoughts

02004-10-28 @ 14:10

It would be cool to hire someone to go on tour with us and capture music and visuals of the band with a digital video camera. The occassional magic moments at soundcheck, or special performances that happen outside the usual tour – like when we played for dinner at the restaurant Sol Y Luna in San Francisco in the mid-nineties. Or, when I used to invite a few dozen people to unamplified solo, duo and trio performances at my house. Stuff like that.

It would feel rediculous to put a price-tag on each of these video clips and music files like – well, this one is slightly longer than that one, but the sound quality is a bit worse – shall we say 85 cents?

What do you think?

V-Pegs close

02004-10-28 @ 14:10

Close-up of the famous V-Pegs.


02004-10-28 @ 13:10

Throughout human history, material innovation has been defined by the persistent testing of limits. Transmaterial is a catalog of materials, products and processes that are redefining our physical environment, based on a compi-lation of Blaine Brownell’s product of the week electronic journal developed at nbbj.

Download the intro on PDF.


02004-10-27 @ 19:10

At 19:20, MichaelV said…OL I heard that it’s a good idea to loosen the guitar strings when shipping it by air (FedEx or as a cargo luggage) Strings tend to expand/shrink drastically due to climate change and near zero temperatures. What’s your experience about this. Have you lost a guitar because the neck felt apart after shipping it?

That is true for steel-stringed guitars, but Flamenco and Classical guitars use nylong strings and the tension is much lower. Steel strings require a serious amount of tension, hence the steel rod inside the neck of every steel string guitar including electric guitars. I also think that nylon strings do not expand and contract as much as metal strings. I haven’t loosened my guitar strings for a flight in a decade… if I did It would take even longer to get the guitar to stay in tune after a flight! My guitars definately don’t like the altitude, lack of pressure and low temperatures on the plane. The guitar won’t like the three shows in Mexico next month. Play a show in Tijuana and get on the red-eye to Mexico City. Arrive in the morning and play the same evening…

ACS – Part 2

02004-10-27 @ 13:10

Lookout! It’s another long post without photos…. ah, what the hell – here is a gratuitous guitar-shot:

Other Options Speaking of alternatives, if we don’t move toward an ACS or an Entertainment Coop, what is likely to happen? Most likely, one of three things:

1. Unauthorized copying continues to increase, and consumers increasingly rely up materials obtained (free) online for their entertainment needs. The film industry, in its current form, collapses – perhaps replaced by small, independent studios, financed by donations from corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Musicians continue to make recordings (inexpensively, using the rapidly improving digital recording technologies) but don’t earn any money from them, treating them instead as advertising for their performances.

2. The record companies and film studios, dismayed by the prospect of #1, persuade Congress to reinforce the copyright system substantially – for example, by adopting the INDUCE Act and sharply increasing criminal penalties for unauthorized reproduction of digital recordings. We see a protracted “war on piracy” very similar to the longstanding “war on drugs.”

3. Alternatively, the record companies and film studios persuade Congress to adopt some version of the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act – which requires the manufacturers of all consumer electronic equipment to embed in their products technology that recognizes and respects watermarks, and to remove from their devices all analog ports.

I’ve already explained in prior posts why I think #1 is an unattractive outcome – though plainly I have not persuaded everyone. That said, #1 is the least probable of the scenarios. The record and film industries are sufficiently powerful, and the majority of Congressmen are sufficiently sympathetic to them, that, if the fundamental transformation contemplated by #1 seems imminent, we will see legislation of type #2 or type #3.

Any thoughts, folks? Also, check out this response the author has for the value question:

Excellent question by Cory, echoed by Erik: “It doesn’t seem that this system addresses variation of value to the consumer. The Economist, for example, can charge a significantly higher yearly subscription fee than Entertainment Weekly, because its relative value to its (I suspect) smaller subscriber base is much higher. How does this system support niche items of high value to their niche?” It’s quite right that my proposal contains a mechanism for incorporating only one of the many variables that give rise to differences among recordings in terms of their value to consumers – namely, duration. But that seems to me acceptable with respect to music and film, where differences in value are not very great – as reflected in the fact that, in the current, market-based system, CDs and DVDs of all types sell for very similar prices, and the cost of admission to theatres varies little with the content of what’s shown on the screen. The same cannot be said (as Cory’s example notes) for print media, software, or games – which partly explains why I haven’t proposed incorporating such materials in my plan.

Perhaps, if we are to change the way we do business in the whole music and film industry, we should consider adding value differentiation to music and film? I have mentioned this before, specifically commenting on the fact that acoustic music is more expensive to produce than midi-music for example.

Coffee-Based Log Burns Cleaner

02004-10-27 @ 13:10

The Java-Log weighs 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms), and it’s a little smaller than a sawdust log. It comes in a wrapper, which is used to light the log. It burns for two to three hours, the same as a regular log, but it produces three times the flame capacity of wood.
(Via Mekka.)

Also check out this and this.


02004-10-27 @ 12:10

Check out the sounds Matmos have used on their recordings! I’d love to do an album with these guys. Create beats and bleeps from nothing but guitar sounds…

SIM Card Vending Machine

02004-10-27 @ 09:10

sim_card_machine.jpg image
The next time Verizon or Sprint cripples some phone’s Bluetooth implementation or locks you into some crazy two-year contract, take a look at this rechargeable SIM card vending machine in Tsim Sha Shui, Hong Kong, and ask yourself why we aren’t using a system where switching carriers is as easy as putting $13 in to a machine and buying a new card. Then ask yourself why you aren’t drinking a foil box with a quenching fruit concoction. And then ask why your juice box doesn’t include some promotional mobile phone minutes.
(Via Gizmodo.)

This week should I buy Tropicana OJ with the free Sim card or Horizon OJ with free music files?

Putting all inside the wheels

02004-10-27 @ 09:10

Michelin’s shown off a concept car whose “active” wheels contain all the elements you’d expect to find in the car itself: “Why not … use the space within the tire to put as many components as possible, including all the suspension, and make it active, and put in an electric motor, and even eliminate the need for a mechanical transmission?”
(via Futurismic)
(Via BoingBoing.)

Also check out the Dutch Whisper Bus, which uses wheels containing motors.

Flying with a Guitar

02004-10-27 @ 08:10

Flying with a guitar sucks, especially since 2001. I wonder how many instruments have died in the name of flight security since then.

I used to be able to either get a Business Class ticket – they always have space for a little guitar case in Business Class, or buy a second ticket for my guitar, usually called G. Liebert, if I flew Southwest Airlines for example. Yes, you actually put the guitar in its own seat and use a seatbelt extension to make sure it is safe and secure. Naturally I ate the guitar’s peanuts…

Then came the day that I flew to L.A. for a session and when I arrived at LAX in the evening to fly back to Santa Fe I discovered that shields had been added to the X-Ray belt. My guitar case did not fit through the shield. This shield was something new they were trying out at LAX and did not use in Albuquerque yet. I showed the security person my ticket for the guitar and suggested they could hand search the case. Nope, they would not. I ended up having to return to the Southwest Airline check-in and demand that someone go up to security with me as I held a valid ticket for my guitar. A gentleman then accompanied me to security and signed some kind of document which caused the security person to remove the shield for a minute, so I could stick my guitar on the X-Ray belt. Ludicrous, insane, idiotic, childish.

I called the FAA, I emailed them – never got through to anybody who could tell me why no exeptions could be made for instrumens with a valid ticket. Seems simple to me: if a person has bought a ticket for an instrument, they should be able to get the shield opened for the instrument…

Well, since then I do one of two things: First I had a heavy-duty flight case made. I stick my guitar case into the flight case, pay the overweight charge, and hope for the best. Second, when time permits I send the guitar via Federal Express to the gig and travel without the guitar. I have done this a few times already and for some reason I trust FedX more than any airlines.

Tuning the Guitar

02004-10-27 @ 08:10

From an email I received:

I do have a question , Like always , What key do you tune your guitar in?

That depends on the song I am playing.

When I play a Buleria in Dm, Duende del Amor for example, I make sure the A major chord sounds right, especially the C# on the second fret of the second string. Getting the A major chord to sound right is also very important for the song Santa Fe.

When I play Snakecharmer, I have to make sure the C chord sounds right, specifically the third string open G, which I use for the chorus. You will almost always notice me adjusting the third string before playing Snakecharmer.

When I play in C, a Solea for example, I have to make sure the E chord sounds right, specifically the G# on the third string, and the Am chord, specifically the C on the second string. Important for Barcelona Nights also…

The strings I have to concern myself the most with are the second and third strings.

Other people have tried to find solutions to the second and third string tuning problems and the below photo shows the Fretwave system. I have not tried a guitar with Fretwave. Not sure I would like it. I think I like arguing/fighting with my guitar. It feels like family that way.

Alternative Compensation Systems

02004-10-26 @ 22:10

The owner of the copyright in an audio or video recording who wished to be compensated when it was used by others would register it with the Copyright Office and would receive, in return, a unique file name, which then would be used to track its distribution, consumption, and modification. The government would raise the money necessary to compensate copyright owners through a tax – most likely, a tax on the devices and services that consumers use to gain access to digital entertainment. Using techniques pioneered by television rating services and performing rights organizations, a government agency would estimate the frequency with which each song and film was listened to or watched. The tax revenues would then be distributed to copyright owners in proportion to the rates with which their registered works were being consumed. Once this alternative regime were in place, copyright law would be reformed to eliminate most of the current prohibitions on the unauthorized reproduction and use of published recorded music and films. The social advantages of such a system, we will see, would be large: consumer convenience; radical expansion of the set of creators who could earn a livelihood from making their work available directly to the public; reduced transaction costs and associated cost savings; elimination of the economic inefficiency and social harms that result when intellectual products are priced above the costs of replicating them; reversal of the concentration of the entertainment industries; and a boost to consumer creativity caused by the abandonment of encryption. The system would certainly not be perfect. Some artists would try to manipulate it to their advantage, it would cause some distortions in consumer behavior, and the officials who administer it might abuse their power. But, on balance, it is the most promising solution [to the intensifying crisis in the entertainment industry].

Use the title-link to read more about this Alternative Compensation concept, especially how the Office is to monitor what consumers actually listen to and watch.

Note: the RIAA has co-developed ISRC codes, which are already embedded into many songs, and which basically already do what is mentioned above. They are unique to each song and will be used to track digital performances for the performing rights organizations, BMI, Ascap etc.

Is this the solution we have been waiting for? I don’t see it. But it raises an interesting point of view and is something we need to add to the stew.

Rain Chain

02004-10-26 @ 13:10

Spiral Tile at Studio

02004-10-26 @ 13:10

Two-year Exposure

02004-10-26 @ 07:10

Music: water boiling
Mood: rested

For more than a decade, Michael Wesely (German, b. 1963) has been inventing and refining techniques for making photographs with unusually long exposures-some as long as three years. In 1997 he began using this unique approach to photography to explore major urban construction projects, such as the rebuilding of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Buildings that are demolished or constructed over the course of Wesely’s long exposures often appear ghostlike, evoking simultaneously a vanishing and emerging presence.

Open Shutter focuses on a major body of work created by Wesely at the invitation of The Museum of Modern Art. In the summer of 2001, he set up cameras at several locations in and around the Museum’s ambitious renovation and construction project. Completed in June 2004, at the conclusion of major construction, Wesely’s photographs provide an absorbing perspective on the historic transformation of the Museum’s home in the heart of a thriving city.

Beautiful photos. Time crystalized. If you should be in New York, the exhibition of the long term exposures starts at the MoMA on November 20th.

Spaghetti Carbonara

02004-10-25 @ 17:10

I made Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner yesterday. Discovered I did not have any flat-leaf parsley, and substituted Baby Arugula instead. Hm, tasty. Arugula has a nutty flavor, which complimented the pasta and bacon. Above title links to an earlier post of my recipe.

Sarah McLachlan – World On Fire

02004-10-25 @ 10:10

Watch the video! It’s brilliant! And check out the donations from this video.
via Critical Selection


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