Archive for 2011-09


02011-09-29 @ 12:09

A long time ago I used Delicious to bookmark webpages. It felt like a great way to share internet discoveries with people.

Well, how different this landscape looks to me now. Anything “social” and “free” will be used to create a dossier on a user that can then be sold to the highest bidder in corporate advertising – Delicious is no different than Google, Facebook, Twitter and so on…

At first I switched to Yojimbo, which I used for Bookmarking and logins and collecting just about anything, including images and quotes and so on. I love Yojimbo, but since there is no iOS app or syncing the information remains stuck on my laptop… then I discovered Evernote, which I currently use to gather stuff…

I did not verify any of these quotes, but they speak for themselves no matter who came up with them:

It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.
– Aldous Huxley, Island

That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.
– George Carlin

In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.
– Ram Dass

The nature of our motivation determines the character of our work.
– Dalai Lama

Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible.
– Kelsang Gyatso

The difficulty of always feeling that you ought to be doing something is that you tend to undervalue the times when you’re apparently doing nothing, and those are very important times. It’s the equivalent of the dream time, in your daily life, times when things get sorted out and reshuffled. If you’re constantly awake work-wise you don’t allow that to happen. One of the reasons I have to take distinct breaks when I work is to allow the momentum of a particular direction to run down, so that another one can establish itself.
– Brian Eno, cited by Eric Tamm in Brian Eno: His Music and The Vertical Sound Of Color

An intelligent person does not need the promise of heaven to see the merit of good deeds.
— Unknown

The only people who ever get anyplace interesting are the people who get lost.
– Henry David Thoreau

The world is a wonderfully weird place, consensual reality is significantly flawed, no institution can be trusted, certainty is a mirage, security is a delusion, and the tyranny of the dull mind forever threatens. But our lives are not as limited as we think they are. All things are possible, laughter is holier than piety, freedom is sweeter than fame, and in the end it’s love and love alone that really matters.
-Tom Robbins

Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.

– Lewis Carrol

When I open them, most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out between the pages – a special odor of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers. Breathing it in, I glance through a few pages before returning each book to its shelf.
— Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.
– Banksy. Make art, not ads.


02011-09-29 @ 11:09

A Luca Marenzio moment

The famous opening of this madrigal — a setting of Petrarch’s “Solo e pensoso” (“Alone and pensive”) — has the top voice rising by chromatic steps, over the span of a major ninth; the summit is reached at 0:50. The effect is wonderfully vertiginous, evoking the poet’s solitary wanderings. But the really ecstatic, spine-tingling event occurs at 1:08, when (in the transposition on this recording) the harmony slips eerily from E minor to G minor and then cadences in D major. The reason it sounds like pure Romanticism for a moment is that on the third beat of the G-minor bar (around 1:10) the alto rises from D to E-natural and holds the E into the next bar while the other voices go to D major. The ache of that suspension is universal. Something quite similar happens as Isolde breathes her last (listen for the suspension in the high winds):

(Via Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise)

Scanning Dreams

02011-09-27 @ 09:09

Brain scans let computer reconstruct movie scenes
It sounds like science fiction: While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed.

Scientists reported that result Thursday and speculated such an approach might be able to reveal dreams and hallucinations someday.

Frightening and exciting possibilities: could be used as a self-discovery tool, and by psychoanalysts to unlock dreams, by the military to discover secrets, to establish guilt or innocence in courts of law…

And I am sure plenty of idiots will upload their dreams to Facebook, which in turn will enable advertisers to custom tailor commercials…

Spotify Fail

02011-09-27 @ 09:09

Can you sign up for Spotify without Facebook?
There seems to be nowhere on Spotify’s website that lets you sign up for Spotify without a Facebook account. The sign up links ask to to log in to Facebook or create a new Facebook account.

Is there a hidden link anywhere on the website that lets you sign up without linking it to a Facebook account?

You can read many ineresting comments here.

As an early adopter I was able to get a Premium account before Spotify put all of their chips on Facebook this week, but I smell a rat. Having done this I don’t feel I can trust them anymore. It’s an epic fail.

Spotify Premium is about $120/year. That equals iCloud at $25/year PLUS the purchase of about 10 CDs. And CDs still sound quite a bit better than Spotify.

I cancelled my account this morning.

Mending Bowls + Amber

02011-09-24 @ 12:09

I would love to learn how to do kintsugi and have a couple of very nice bowls that need repair.

Blake Gopnik – ‘Golden Seams: The Japanese Art of Mending Ceramics’ at Freer
It’s not often that an exhibition makes you want to run home and smash your best china. But that could be the result of a visit to “Golden Seams: The Japanese Art of Mending Ceramics,” a tiny gem of a show at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery. Of course, before you start smashing, you’ll want to make sure you have access to a master of kintsugi.<

Gold repair, Kintsugi | Nanban ceramic

Horaizons: The Broken Tea Bowl
Kato Kiyomasa and the Broken Tea Bowl


Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.
– Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday Morning

02011-09-24 @ 11:09

For me there is nothing that compares to the feeling of having recorded a nice guitar part. It settles me in my skin, makes me see the beauty around me, urges me to smell the roses, makes everything alright.

Bike with Steel Tires

02011-09-24 @ 11:09

Soft-Ride Bike Has Steel Tires, And You Can Ride It Now | Co. Design
Twenty-five years after his Well-Tempered Chair, Ron Arad has used a similar process–in which the naturally sprung properties of tempered steel, bolted in tension, gives a natural yield or “softness”–to build a bike with wheels made of sprung steel.

Gut Brain

02011-09-18 @ 08:09

The Psychology Of Yogurt | Wired Science |
This research shows that the immateriality of mind is a deep illusion. Although we feel like a disembodied soul, many feelings and choices are actually shaped by the microbes in our gut and the palpitations of our heart. Nietzsche was right: “There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom.”

Also see this post regarding gut brain from 2005.

It has long been my position that the brain is not the isolated seat of mind. While it is, perhaps, the main switching station, it works and relies on the entire body (and perhaps even more, if we consider that consciousness may not be strictly localized). This might rain on Kurzweil’s parade, where he desires to analyze the brain with nanobots in order to upload himself- whatever “himself” means – into a computer/robot/new body. Perhaps it simply complicates matters and widens the area of discovery, from the brain to the entire body. Very interesting.

Limited Edition

02011-09-17 @ 18:09

Would love to find out whether that works out for Robbie Robertson. As you can see here, the Limited Edition (2,500 pieces) version of his new album costs $300. I wonder which artist I would be willing to pay that kind of money to. I have bought some fancy Miles Davis packages, but they included a lot more music. Tarot cards? Really??

PS: I think the reason I would not be interested in this package is that it does not feel artistic to me. Playing cards, a stamp and photos – it feels like somebody tried hard to think of what they could throw at a fancy package. Maybe they should have add chewing gum?


02011-09-16 @ 16:09

The following photo shows Jon’s Fender Princeton on the left and the Kelemen Champ, a copy of a 1960’s Fender Champ, on the right – I think this is a new amp for Kelemen as it can’t be found on their website.

This photo shows the Princeton on the left and my new Boogie on the right. Height and width are about the same, but the Boogie is deeper.


02011-09-15 @ 19:09

What a fun day in the studio. Recorded a bunch of guitars for a groovy new tune. Used the Blanca for most of the rhythm performances and the Negra for the melodies. Right after lunch I received my new guitar amp, a Mesa Boogie 5:25 Express with a 10″ speaker.

Yesterday I came across the bill for my first Boogie, with a 15″ speaker, which I bought for $1,330 in June of 1979. I used it on The Hours Between Night + Day and on Opium, but in 1996 I started using a Groove Tubes amp instead, and eventually sold the Boogie. The GT uses tubes to create the guitar sound, but since simulates the load of a speaker it is therefore silent on stage. I used the GT for the last time on Little Wing, I think. Then I tried different digital amp-simulations. On “O Little Town of Bethlehem/City of Tihuana, the second track on the album Winter Rose, I used the “Guitar Rig” from Native Instruments. That software and pedal has been unused in a cupboard in the studio for six years because I hated the latency of Guitar Rig. Live I have been using a Line6 Pod-Pro, which features tons of simulated amps… but does not sound very realistic. Stephen recorded his solo on “Silence…” (The Scent of Light) with a Pod and while I like what he played I am not crazy about the sound.

So, fast forward to 2011 and I got sick of the Line6 sound during the Summer tour and started looking for a “real” guitar amp. Jon lent me his Fender Princeton, I borrowed a Champ from Santa Fe’s Kelemen, I considered a Vox AC15 hand-wired… and in the end I ordered another Boogie. The Princeton is super quiet and nice, but doesn’t get the sustain unless one plays really loud. The Champ was a favorite, a little noisier, but with a sweet tone. I could have made this work if I wanted to continue to use the Line6 for effects and sustain. The Vox was out after I found out that everything is made in China.

Well, I turned on the Boogie and it was love after a few notes. I used the amp in the 5W Class A configuration, which is plenty loud. In fact I think I will use it next year without any pedals or effects: just the guitar plugged straight into the amp. And the Boogie is made in Petaluma, California.

I think this is symptomatic for my attitude towards digital tools and the internet, which is this: it’s time to get real, to figure out what works and discard what does not work. Where digital tools are an improvement over the analog world we should of course use them, but where they are not, we need to support analog manufacturers before they go out of business. The same is true for the internet. There are many ways in which our lives can be enriched by the WWW, but we need to drop the stuff that does not. Time to make a few choices.

Four Nights in November

02011-09-13 @ 12:09

I will perform solo at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco November 10th through 13th. More information here.

New Album

02011-09-08 @ 22:09

The new album I started working on is coming along very nicely. I think we might release three flavors:
1. A regular CD, available from the usual CD outlets and Amazon. A digital download version will mirror this release.
2. A double CD package that we will only be sold at live shows – the second CD will contain alternate versions, different mixes, edits and such. I have been thinking about making a special package to be sold at the shows for a while and it will be fun to create this.
3. A uncompressed 24/88.2 FLAC version that will be available from

Today, after our weekly breakfast, I picked up a Kelemen guitar amp at Jon’s to try out this weekend. It’s a handwired copy of a Sixties Fender Champ, a tiny, but excellent amp. I think Clapton used a Champ for “Layla”, and Keith Richards used Champs. A little more noisy than the Fender Princeton I am borrowing from Jon, but with a sweet tone. Then I discover that I still have the effect pedals I used in the early Eighties, an analog Roland Chorus and other interesting stuff. I am glad I didn’t get rid of those and will mess with them and the Champ tomorrow. As I sat in the studio beside the Kelemen Champ, playing my Vizcarra Strat – plugged directly into the amp – I was wondering whether I should drop the Line6 for next year’s tour altogether. Hm, speaking about next year’s tour – we are cooking up something very special for the Summer tour. I don’t want to jinx it, but let me just say Boris would love it.


02011-09-05 @ 16:09

I am currently working on nine pieces for the next album. The arrangements and drum machine tracks are done and today I recorded the first guitar parts, for a new piece in 5/4.

If it is free…

02011-09-05 @ 16:09

From Bruce Sterling’s protected Twitter stream a couple of weeks ago:

*New Twitter’s most annoying features aren’t there for user-friendliness. They’re all about Twitter’s business model & data-mining capacity.
– bruces at 8/18/11 9:59

*Social media does not exist for you. You are the PRODUCT in social media. That’s why it’s free.
– bruces at 8/18/11 10:02

A friend’s comment:

I wouldn’t mind being the product if I was being paid and could negotiate terms.

Back to Sterling:

*Thinking that New Twitter is here for our high-tech convenience is like thinking that newspapers existed to tell people the truth.
– bruces at 8/18/11 10:06

@GreatDismal: imagine giant, dystopian bulldozers piloted by Iranian cops and Chinese cyberwarriors, that scrape off every RT-able remark
– bruces at 8/18/11 10:11

*Or imagine you had a jolly London-burning looting frolic and you’re now staring aghast at the bronze monument of your public tweetstream
– bruces at 8/18/11 10:13

Recently Don Norman said about Google:

Most people would say ‘we’re the users, and the product is advertising’,” he said. “But in fact the advertisers are the users and you are the product.”

Then he went further. “They say their goal is to gather all the knowledge in the world in one place, but really their goal is to gather all of the people in the world and sell them.”

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:

No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Of course Nietzsche wrote this a hundred years before Google was founded, but if the quote fits…

My mom used to say this:

Nichts is kostenlos. Selbst für das Leben muss man mit dem Tod bezahlen.

Nothing is free of cost. Even life has to be paid for by dying.

A few weeks ago a friend called in panik. Her friend’s hotmail account had been hacked and everyone in his online address book had received a version of that famous Barcelona letter: I am stranded in Barcelona, my wallet was stolen, and I need $2,000 to get home…

I told her that they should use better passwords and to change them more frequently. I also mentioned that I myself do not access Gmail on my browser and I keep no online address book. If my Gmail account was to get hacked they would have no address book to send emails to. By the way, I use the excellent Sparrow Mail app, which is Mac-only.

I think one needs to be distrustful of anything that is “free”.


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