Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ian MacKaye and I discuss some of the photos in my forthcoming book. (video)

Advance copies of the book MY RULES have been trickling out into the hands of a few scattered press sources and those folks who have contributed to the book in one way or another. I am so happy that the reactions and responses have been phenomenal. As i've said before, i really can't wait for y'all to see it. it's a monster! Official release date is September 16th.

You can get all the details you might want about it here on my web site at a special link we set up and if you like, you can pick it up as a greatly discounted pre-order HERE.

Below is the short film I told you all about a few months back that Ian and I did with my friend and film maker Eric Matthies, I think you may like it. If the response is good enough perhaps we'll put together a longer version of the afternoon talk, Please let us know what you think ;-)

Thanks for your appreciation and support, it's been an INSANE week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Noam Chomsky: How the Bin Laden Raid Could Have Led to Nuclear Annihilation of Humanity

"Ever since the first nuclear weapon was deployed, we have been playing with fire."

via Tom Dispatch
If some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of Homo sapiens, they might well break their calendar into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NWE (the nuclear weapons era). The latter era, of course, opened on August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but -- so the evidence suggests -- not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.

Day one of the NWE was marked by the “success” of Little Boy, a simple atomic bomb. On day four, Nagasaki experienced the technological triumph of Fat Man, a more sophisticated design. Five days later came what the official Air Force history calls the “grand finale,” a 1,000-plane raid -- no mean logistical achievement -- attacking Japan’s cities and killing many thousands of people, with leaflets falling among the bombs reading “Japan has surrendered.” Truman announced that surrender before the last B-29 returned to its base.

Those were the auspicious opening days of the NWE. As we now enter its 70th year, we should be contemplating with wonder that we have survived. We can only guess how many years remain.

Some reflections on these grim prospects were offered by General Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which controls nuclear weapons and strategy. Twenty years ago, he wrote that we had so far survived the NWE “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”

Reflecting on his long career in developing nuclear weapons strategies and organizing the forces to implement them efficiently, he described himself ruefully as having been “among the most avid of these keepers of the faith in nuclear weapons.” But, he continued, he had come to realize that it was now his “burden to declare with all of the conviction I can muster that in my judgment they served us extremely ill.” And he asked, “By what authority do succeeding generations of leaders in the nuclear-weapons states usurp the power to dictate the odds of continued life on our planet? Most urgently, why does such breathtaking audacity persist at a moment when we should stand trembling in the face of our folly and united in our commitment to abolish its most deadly manifestations?”

He termed the U.S. strategic plan of 1960 that called for an automated all-out strike on the Communist world “the single most absurd and irresponsible document I have ever reviewed in my life.” Its Soviet counterpart was probably even more insane. But it is important to bear in mind that there are competitors, not least among them the easy acceptance of extraordinary threats to survival.

Survival in the Early Cold War Years

According to received doctrine in scholarship and general intellectual discourse, the prime goal of state policy is “national security.” There is ample evidence, however, that the doctrine of national security does not encompass the security of the population. The record reveals that, for instance, the threat of instant destruction by nuclear weapons has not ranked high among the concerns of planners. That much was demonstrated early on, and remains true to the present moment.

In the early days of the NWE, the U.S. was overwhelmingly powerful and enjoyed remarkable security: it controlled the hemisphere, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and the opposite sides of those oceans as well. Long before World War II, it had already become by far the richest country in the world, with incomparable advantages. Its economy boomed during the war, while other industrial societies were devastated or severely weakened. By the opening of the new era, the U.S. possessed about half of total world wealth and an even greater percentage of its manufacturing capacity.

There was, however, a potential threat: intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. That threat was discussed in the standard scholarly study of nuclear policies, carried out with access to high-level sources -- Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years by McGeorge Bundy, national security adviser during the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies.

Bundy wrote that “the timely development of ballistic missiles during the Eisenhower administration is one of the best achievements of those eight years. Yet it is well to begin with a recognition that both the United States and the Soviet Union might be in much less nuclear danger today if [those] missiles had never been developed.” He then added an instructive comment: “I am aware of no serious contemporary proposal, in or out of either government, that ballistic missiles should somehow be banned by agreement.” In short, there was apparently no thought of trying to prevent the sole serious threat to the U.S., the threat of utter destruction in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Could that threat have been taken off the table? We cannot, of course, be sure, but it was hardly inconceivable. The Russians, far behind in industrial development and technological sophistication, were in a far more threatening environment. Hence, they were significantly more vulnerable to such weapons systems than the U.S. There might have been opportunities to explore these possibilities, but in the extraordinary hysteria of the day they could hardly have even been perceived. And that hysteria was indeed extraordinary. An examination of the rhetoric of central official documents of that moment like National Security Council Paper NSC-68 remains quite shocking, even discounting Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s injunction that it is necessary to be “clearer than truth.”

One indication of possible opportunities to blunt the threat was a remarkable proposal by Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin in 1952, offering to allow Germany to be unified with free elections on the condition that it would not then join a hostile military alliance. That was hardly an extreme condition in light of the history of the past half-century during which Germany alone had practically destroyed Russia twice, exacting a terrible toll.

Stalin’s proposal was taken seriously by the respected political commentator James Warburg, but otherwise mostly ignored or ridiculed at the time. Recent scholarship has begun to take a different view. The bitterly anti-Communist Soviet scholar Adam Ulam has taken the status of Stalin’s proposal to be an “unresolved mystery.” Washington “wasted little effort in flatly rejecting Moscow's initiative,” he has written, on grounds that “were embarrassingly unconvincing.” The political, scholarly, and general intellectual failure left open “the basic question,” Ulam added: “Was Stalin genuinely ready to sacrifice the newly created German Democratic Republic (GDR) on the altar of real democracy,” with consequences for world peace and for American security that could have been enormous?

Reviewing recent research in Soviet archives, one of the most respected Cold War scholars, Melvyn Leffler, has observed that many scholars were surprised to discover “[Lavrenti] Beria -- the sinister, brutal head of the [Russian] secret police -- propos[ed] that the Kremlin offer the West a deal on the unification and neutralization of Germany,” agreeing “to sacrifice the East German communist regime to reduce East-West tensions” and improve internal political and economic conditions in Russia -- opportunities that were squandered in favor of securing German participation in NATO.

Under the circumstances, it is not impossible that agreements might then have been reached that would have protected the security of the American population from the gravest threat on the horizon. But that possibility apparently was not considered, a striking indication of how slight a role authentic security plays in state policy.

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Beyond

That conclusion was underscored repeatedly in the years that followed. When Nikita Khrushchev took control in Russia in 1953 after Stalin’s death, he recognized that the USSR could not compete militarily with the U.S., the richest and most powerful country in history, with incomparable advantages. If it ever hoped to escape its economic backwardness and the devastating effect of the last world war, it would need to reverse the arms race.

Accordingly, Khrushchev proposed sharp mutual reductions in offensive weapons. The incoming Kennedy administration considered the offer and rejected it, instead turning to rapid military expansion, even though it was already far in the lead. The late Kenneth Waltz, supported by other strategic analysts with close connections to U.S. intelligence, wrote then that the Kennedy administration “undertook the largest strategic and conventional peace-time military build-up the world has yet seen... even as Khrushchev was trying at once to carry through a major reduction in the conventional forces and to follow a strategy of minimum deterrence, and we did so even though the balance of strategic weapons greatly favored the United States.” Again, harming national security while enhancing state power.

U.S. intelligence verified that huge cuts had indeed been made in active Soviet military forces, both in terms of aircraft and manpower. In 1963, Khrushchev again called for new reductions. As a gesture, he withdrew troops from East Germany and called on Washington to reciprocate. That call, too, was rejected. William Kaufmann, a former top Pentagon aide and leading analyst of security issues, described the U.S. failure to respond to Khrushchev's initiatives as, in career terms, “the one regret I have.”

The Soviet reaction to the U.S. build-up of those years was to place nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962 to try to redress the balance at least slightly. The move was also motivated in part by Kennedy’s terrorist campaign against Fidel Castro’s Cuba, which was scheduled to lead to invasion that very month, as Russia and Cuba may have known. The ensuing “missile crisis” was “the most dangerous moment in history,” in the words of historian Arthur Schlesinger, Kennedy’s adviser and confidant.

As the crisis peaked in late October, Kennedy received a secret letter from Khrushchev offering to end it by simultaneous public withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba and U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey. The latter were obsolete missiles, already ordered withdrawn by the Kennedy administration because they were being replaced by far more lethal Polaris submarines to be stationed in the Mediterranean.

Kennedy’s subjective estimate at that moment was that if he refused the Soviet premier’s offer, there was a 33% to 50% probability of nuclear war -- a war that, as President Eisenhower had warned, would have destroyed the northern hemisphere. Kennedy nonetheless refused Khrushchev’s proposal for public withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba and Turkey; only the withdrawal from Cuba could be public, so as to protect the U.S. right to place missiles on Russia’s borders or anywhere else it chose.

It is hard to think of a more horrendous decision in history -- and for this, he is still highly praised for his cool courage and statesmanship.

Ten years later, in the last days of the 1973 Israel-Arab war, Henry Kissinger, then national security adviser to President Nixon, called a nuclear alert. The purpose was to warn the Russians not to interfere with his delicate diplomatic maneuvers designed to ensure an Israeli victory, but of a limited sort so that the U.S. would still be in control of the region unilaterally. And the maneuvers were indeed delicate. The U.S. and Russia had jointly imposed a cease-fire, but Kissinger secretly informed the Israelis that they could ignore it. Hence the need for the nuclear alert to frighten the Russians away. The security of Americans had its usual status.

Ten years later, the Reagan administration launched operations to probe Russian air defenses by simulating air and naval attacks and a high-level nuclear alert that the Russians were intended to detect. These actions were undertaken at a very tense moment. Washington was deploying Pershing II strategic missiles in Europe with a five-minute flight time to Moscow. President Reagan had also announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) program, which the Russians understood to be effectively a first-strike weapon, a standard interpretation of missile defense on all sides. And other tensions were rising.

Naturally, these actions caused great alarm in Russia, which, unlike the U.S., was quite vulnerable and had repeatedly been invaded and virtually destroyed. That led to a major war scare in 1983. Newly released archives reveal that the danger was even more severe than historians had previously assumed. A CIA study entitled “The War Scare Was for Real” concluded that U.S. intelligence may have underestimated Russian concerns and the threat of a Russian preventative nuclear strike. The exercises “almost became a prelude to a preventative nuclear strike,” according to an account in theJournal of Strategic Studies.

It was even more dangerous than that, as we learned last September, when the BBC reported that right in the midst of these world-threatening developments, Russia’s early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States, sending its nuclear system onto the highest-level alert. The protocol for the Soviet military was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own. Fortunately, the officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, decided to disobey orders and not report the warnings to his superiors. He received an official reprimand. And thanks to his dereliction of duty, we’re still alive to talk about it.

The security of the population was no more a high priority for Reagan administration planners than for their predecessors. And so it continues to the present, even putting aside the numerous near-catastrophic nuclear accidents that occurred over the years, many reviewed in Eric Schlosser’s chilling studyCommand and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. In other words, it is hard to contest General Butler’s conclusions.

Survival in the Post-Cold War Era

The record of post-Cold War actions and doctrines is hardly reassuring either. Every self-respecting president has to have a doctrine. The Clinton Doctrine was encapsulated in the slogan “multilateral when we can, unilateral when we must.” In congressional testimony, the phrase “when we must” was explained more fully: the U.S. is entitled to resort to “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.” Meanwhile, STRATCOM in the Clinton era produced an important study entitled “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence,” issued well after the Soviet Union had collapsed and Clinton was extending President George H.W. Bush’s program of expanding NATO to the east in violation of promises to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev -- with reverberations to the present.

That STRATCOM study was concerned with “the role of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War era.” A central conclusion: that the U.S. must maintain the right to launch a first strike, even against non-nuclear states. Furthermore, nuclear weapons must always be at the ready because they “cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict.” They were, that is, constantly being used, just as you’re using a gun if you aim but don’t fire one while robbing a store (a point that Daniel Ellsberg has repeatedly stressed). STRATCOM went on to advise that “planners should not be too rational about determining... what the opponent values the most.” Everything should simply be targeted. “[I]t hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed… That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project.” It is “beneficial [for our strategic posture] if some elements may appear to be potentially ‘out of control,’” thus posing a constant threat of nuclear attack -- a severe violation of the U.N. Charter, if anyone cares.

Not much here about the noble goals constantly proclaimed -- or for that matter the obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to make “good faith” efforts to eliminate this scourge of the earth. What resounds, rather, is an adaptation of Hilaire Belloc’s famous couplet about the Maxim gun (to quote the great African historian Chinweizu):

“Whatever happens, we have got,

The Atom Bomb, and they have not.”

After Clinton came, of course, George W. Bush, whose broad endorsement of preventative war easily encompassed Japan’s attack in December 1941 on military bases in two U.S. overseas possessions, at a time when Japanese militarists were well aware that B-29 Flying Fortresses were being rushed off assembly lines and deployed to those bases with the intent “to burn out the industrial heart of the Empire with fire-bomb attacks on the teeming bamboo ant heaps of Honshu and Kyushu.” That was how the prewar plans were described by their architect, Air Force General Claire Chennault, with the enthusiastic approval of President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall.

Then comes Barack Obama, with pleasant words about working to abolish nuclear weapons -- combined with plans to spend $1 trillion on the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years, a percentage of the military budget “comparable to spending for procurement of new strategic systems in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan,” according to a study by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Obama has also not hesitated to play with fire for political gain. Take for example the capture and assassination of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs. Obama brought it up with pride in an important speech on national security in May 2013. It was widely covered, but one crucial paragraph was ignored.

Obama hailed the operation but added that it could not be the norm. The reason, he said, was that the risks "were immense." The SEALs might have been "embroiled in an extended firefight." Even though, by luck, that didn’t happen, "the cost to our relationship with Pakistan and the backlash among the Pakistani public over encroachment on their territory was… severe."

Let us now add a few details. The SEALs were ordered to fight their way out if apprehended. They would not have been left to their fate if “embroiled in an extended firefight.” The full force of the U.S. military would have been used to extricate them. Pakistan has a powerful, well-trained military, highly protective of state sovereignty. It also has nuclear weapons, and Pakistani specialists are concerned about the possible penetration of their nuclear security system by jihadi elements. It is also no secret that the population has been embittered and radicalized by Washington’s drone terror campaign and other policies.

While the SEALs were still in the bin Laden compound, Pakistani Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was informed of the raid and ordered the military “to confront any unidentified aircraft,” which he assumed would be from India. Meanwhile in Kabul, U.S. war commander General David Petraeus ordered “warplanes to respond” if the Pakistanis “scrambled their fighter jets.” As Obama said, by luck the worst didn’t happen, though it could have been quite ugly. But the risks were faced without noticeable concern. Or subsequent comment.

As General Butler observed, it is a near miracle that we have escaped destruction so far, and the longer we tempt fate, the less likely it is that we can hope for divine intervention to perpetuate the miracle.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among his recent books are Hegemony or Survival, Failed States [5], Power Systems [6],Occupy, and Hopes and Prospects. His latest book, Masters of Mankind [4], will be published soon by Haymarket Books, which is also reissuing twelve of his classic books in new editions over the coming year. His website [7].

Copyright 2014 Noam Chomsky


Monday, August 18, 2014

How Much Room Do We Need To Supply The Entire World With Solar Electricity?

from IFLscience
by Lisa Winter

In 2009, the total global electricity consumption was 20,279,640 GWh. The sun creates more energy than that in one hour. The tricky part is collecting that energy and converting it into useful electricity with solar panels. How much area would need to be covered with solar panels in order to capture enough energy to meet global demand? Actually, it’s not as much as you’d think.

The image above has three red boxes showing what area would need to be covered for Germany (De), Europe (EU-25), and the entire world.

So what the hell are we waiting for? Let’s start getting more solar panels on some rooftops and start chipping away at those boxes!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

155. BANKSY: Taking the piss


please click on the image to view properly

(if this does not enlarge properly in your browser, please go to the original post
Banksy is an anoynomous English street artist and activist who has become a cult hero for his anti-establishment and rebellious artwork.

Unlike someone I know, who stays in his house all day drawing comics and watching Simpsons reruns, Banksy is a REAL artist who challenges the status quo, forces people to think and puts himself in danger, all while remaining a complete mystery to the world. I mean think about it, he’s one of the most famous artists on the planet, his work has been popping up in major cities for the past 10 years and sell for millions of dollars and no one knows who the hell this guy is! I take my hat off to the dude.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend the documentary Banksy directed, Exit Through the Gift Shop. What was meant to be a film about Banksy instead turned into a movie about the man who was obsessed in trying to meet him. Although many have claimed that it’s a ‘mockumentary’ and the plot a set-up, it’s still a brilliant film. It not only documents the street art movement, it also deals with the meaning of art, and whether or not an artist actually needs any talent or can just survive on hype alone. Two thumbs up!

This quote was taken from Banksy’s 2004 book Cut It Out. Some of the passage was inspired/appropriated from an essay by artist Sean Tejaratchi. I rearranged the last couple of sentences for this comic.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

An old friend has died.
The Original, There is no other.

Jay and I go back, way the fuck back. My First published photo was a full page subscription ad for SkateBoarder magazine (see above). I took the photo when I was 14, Jay the belligerent "Radical Little Rat" was 15. Jay often rememberd it as his first published photo too -- it actually wasn't but he remembered it that way, which was always funny to me. It was very flattering. We were kids and we thought we knew everything, like most kids do. I found out about this pool near the Kenter Canyon School yard, borrowed a 35mm camera, invited Jay and PC to come and I'd take some photos (another with PC in the background below). That's where the documented history of Jay and I started.

Over the years we would travel around the southern California basin to skate spots, parties and punk gigs. Jay was the youngest of the original Zephyr crew and I was a year and a month younger than him. I've witnessed some pretty incredible shit around him, both positive and negative, he was a wild one that's for sure.

Jay was no slouch, he often surprised me, and others, with his brilliance on and off his board. Even though he was one of the most out of control motherfuckers, he would do some wild shit, and then, could hit you with some science that would have you asking yourself, "Where the fuck did that come from?". Although he didn't always act that way, Jay was smart. He was no doubt one of my favorite all time subjects to shoot, he was an inspiration to me and countless others of his generation, and generations to follow. Jay Boy's legacy and inspiration will forever be unparalleled in the art/sport of skateboarding.

When you look at Jay you have to think of the personification of all the DogTown stories that Craig Stecyk wrote and all the DogTown photos that I took: All we were trying to do was capture Jay Adams' essence. He was really fucked up crazy, and he was really incredibly great, all at the same time.

For so many, he was the inspiration, he was the seed. He was one of the originators, and he didn't do any of it on purpose. He was as spontaneous as they come, and because of that he was one of the sport's great revolutionaries.

Above, one of my last photos of Jay down at the Skatepark in Venice, 2011.

He was a living legend... and a crazy friend... now he's gone, we have the memories and for you all who didn't know him personally, i am happy we have the photos to share. I suspect his legend will live on gloriously.


(click on any of the images to enlarge)


Here are some more images I could not go without posting, I was not the only one to get great shots of Jay, in fact two of the greatest skate photos of all time are here below taken by C.R. Stecyk III, a mentor and friend to both Jay and I.


And here are some excerpts from the book I was so proud to help put together for Jay (while he was incarcerated), with the photographs taken by his step father Kent Sherwood, many of Jay before most of us ever knew him - I believe the one with the dog even won an award. If you can find this book, it's a gem...


and last but not least a great image of Jay's "Skatopia" membership card that's floating around in cyberspace:


There's so much more I can say about our friendship over the years, the experiences shared, but i think this shall do for now.

The world's always had a lotta love for you Jay Boy ...

thanks to Jess Braam from Juice Magazine for the pic's of Jay and I!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chuck D. Breaks Down Public Enemy's Most Seminal Work

Uncompromising, bruising, loud, groundbreaking—Public Enemy’s 1988 landmark work "It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" has been celebrated as the greatest hip-hop album of all time, amongst other grandiose titles. And such talk is no mere hyperbole. The thunderous voice of frontman Chuck D gave chest-beating testimony of black struggle, pride and presented the B-Boy as a prophet of rage over the Bomb Squad’s (Hank and Keith Shocklee, Eric "Vietnam" Sadler and Chuck) game-changing, 100-plus-beats-per-second production, sample-heavy style. Less than a decade removed from hip-hop’s 1979 commercial breakthrough, It Takes A Nation made “Rappers Delight” sound like a Gregorian chant.

Future reality TV star and Chuck D foil Flava Flav created the rap hypeman template for all to study, pick apart, follow and copy. Professor Griff added fire to P.E.’s already neck-grabbing message. Terminator X controlled the turntables like weapons of mass destruction. And the SW1’s personified the group’s nod to ‘60s Black Panther radicalism and do-for-self mantra. With the arrival of the 25th anniversary of "It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," Chuck D—who will lead Public Enemy into induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18—breaks down the album that changed everything.—As told to Keith Murphy (murphdogg29)

Part 1: Public Enemy Sets Out To Bring The Noise

Chuck D: Yo! Bum Rush the Show was recorded for 1986 during a time when we were being influenced by great people like Schoolly D, Run-D.M.C. and Whodini. It came out in ‘87, but with hip-hop still being a singles’ market, somebody could cut something in the studio and be in the streets two weeks later. We had difficulty with this because in 1986—Eric B & Rakim and Boogie Down Productions and KRS-One changed the game. They fucking changed the world, man. Hip-hop became much more aggressive and much more faster. And Public Enemy had to get with that, so myself and Hank had to develop something in 1988 that was a lot faster, funkier, and also saying something serious that the people could feel. This lead to It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

“Rebel Without a Pause” was like hearing a loud, jarring siren…a call. It was one of those things where when we recorded it we knew it has to be perfect. Because we needed a single that could smack the streets. We had to come up with something that matched what was going on musically, but with our own identity. And ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ matched that intensity. I went into the studio to cut the vocals. I stayed in the crib for a whole two days because I was so mad, yet inspired by Eric B and Rakim’s ‘I Know You Got Soul.’

I had never heard a record that had smacked my face right off like, “What the fuck?!!!” Cats were so good that they made you damn near quit [laughs]. So I stayed in the crib all day and wrote “Rebel Without A Pause” with a combination of what Rakim and KRS were doing.

Part 2: The Bomb Squad Breaks New Production Ground

Chuck D: Hank [Shocklee] has a whole other story on the production of “Rebel Without a Pause,” which we had to make with even more feeling. I really dug into myself and came back next day and started fucking with [my pitch] and I came into the studio and nailed it. But I had to nail it because Public Enemy had to have a real street record. Even with all that noise happening on “Rebel,” we could always trust Hank’s ears to put the music all in perspective. Any producer or engineer can make a song louder. But when it comes down to sonics, no one was better than Hank. So when Hank was making the mix I was like, “Yo, man, don’t touch that…” I just thought this was already a perfect mix. I just hoped we didn’t fuck it up with [the] mastering.

We then got the acetate disc of “Rebel” and went by Kiss-FM (the iconic New York radio station). Hank was outside standing by the car because back then they would tow your shit in a minute. By the time we came back down from the second floor, Chuck Chillout was playing “Rebel Without a Pause” like crazy on Kiss-FM! I have to salute Chuck Chillout, He’s my brother for life.

As far as the [Bomb Squad’s] production [on It Takes A Nation], if it wasn’t for Marley Marl doing MC Shan’s “The Bridge,” I don’t think we could have pulled that noisy sound off. I like noisy shit, but you can’t just like it. You have to have the ability to be heard over it. So the fact that myself and Flava didn’t have ordinary voices and we were totally different in contrast, that allowed us to cut through the noise. A lot of other cats that tried to do that loud sound had problems doing it.

It was difficult putting all those record samples together, but it’s supposed to be hard. You had four people in the room beat digging, evaluating and seeing what sounds worked and didn’t work. But at the end of the day, the music had to make some kind of sense. Songs like “Bring The Noise,” “Don’t Believe The Hype,” and “Nights of the Living Baseheads” had turned all of these crazy noises into actual songs. We never thought about making hit records, but our aim was to make distinctive records. You can make something that everyone else does, but what good is that?

Part 3: A What’s Going On For The Hip-Hop Nation

Chuck D: [Public Enemy] also understood the history of black music. When it came to the 60’s and 70’s those black music artists were like aunts and uncles to us. Although I had yet to meet Isaac Hayes [when we sampled him for “Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos”], I felt like Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin were family. They were getting played and cosigned by our people in your house. You couldn’t just play anything in the household like you can now. You had to have a respect for these records and for what they meant and where they came from. So we took that into consideration going into making those records.

When we finished It Takes A Nation a lot of the political messages on the album went over the heads of most people at the label. Contrary to popular belief, nothing we did was contrived. We were old enough to remember the ‘60s and ‘70s. That time was a part of us: the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, Nationalism, Do For Self…all of this stuff was instilled in us. But a lot of people at the label were clueless about black folks and our history.

What Public Enemy damn near did was turn over the news station and put it inside hip-hop records. White folks were in their own world, and we were in ours. Our deal with Rick [Rubin] and Russell [Simmons] was, “We deliver the music and everybody just leave us the fuck alone.” Bill Stephney should get more credit. He was an important figure during our 87-89 years. He kept a lot of shit at bay. There were things jumping off at the label, but we were not affected by a lot of those different things.

We set out to make the greatest rap album of all-time. We wanted to make a What’s Going On of hip-hop music. The thing that made that record so unprecedented is that we didn’t just want to deliver an album that was straightforward from cut to cut. We wanted to show something different. We introduced the live feel to record. We were influenced by Earth Wind & Fire when they did Gratitude live back in the day.

We had just finished playing London, England. I get asked the same dumb ass question: 20 years later, what do you think about hip-hop going international?’ And I tell them, ‘Well, if you open up It Takes A Nation… it tells you we were always international when we said live onstage, “Alright London!’ So our point was to say that hip-hop could be a live genre and it could be international. We were coming at you with a higher speed that was going neck and neck with anything that you call rock & roll. And we broke the album up with instrumentals, which was new. We wanted to put together a real album. It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was the next design of the hip-hop album.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A video montage of every Alfred Hitchcock cameo

from Tara at Dangerous Minds:

Here’s a nice little montage of all (or nearly all) of Alfred Hitchcock trademark cameos in his films. By far, his most clever cameo is in the 1944 film Lifeboat, IMO. Just watch.

The films are as follows: The Lodger (1927), Easy Virtue (1928), Blackmail (1929), Murder! (1930), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Sabotage (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Rebecca (1940), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), Suspicion (1941), Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), The Paradine Case (1947), Rope (1948), Under Capricorn (1949), Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), I Confess (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), To Catch A Thief (1955), The Trouble With Harry (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Wrong Man (1956), Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), Family Plot (1976).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'll be at the Jaberwocky festival in London!
This Friday and Saturday, previewing my "MY RULES" exhibition

If you happen to be in the UK around London, going to the "Jaberwocky" All Tomorrow's Parties festival - Be sure to stop by the preview exhibition I will have up for MY RULES. The entire exhibition will be exhibited at a yet to be announced surprise venue in London during October. We will officially announce that in the next few weeks!

UPDATE!!! I was notified only a little sooner than the public that the Jabberwocky festival was totally cancelled. A real shame! I was expecting to be on the plane this morning on my way to London, hence made this post beforehand - - sorry for the confusion - the official ATP - Jabberwocky website can further explain the circumstances, but it had something to do with the venue really making last minute demands on the promoter that were unfair. Good news is this was only meant to be a "Preview" of the full exhibition I have coming to London in the fall, so indeed I hope I get to see anyone who planned to see me at Jabberwocky will be at the London show - Those details will be coming in the next few weeks. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Perils Faced by an Atheist Family in their God-Obsessed Community

"My children are surrounded by other kids' prayers and patriotism, but I'm determined to teach them to ignore it."

By Julie Drizin

from via AlterNet
“Goddammit!” “God bless you!” “For God’s sake!” “God forbid!”

My children have heard me take “the Lord’s name in vain.” These expressions slip out as easily as expletives and are part of my vernacular, even though I don’t believe in God.

God is not exactly welcome in our home.

I’m not a hater (at least not anymore). I’m an atheist. My daughters know I’m the tooth fairy; they have no use for Santa Claus; and would consider the Bible a collection of boring, inaccessible stories (at worst) or fables on par with Greek and Roman mythology (at best).

I’m raising good kids. They are good without God. They will not go to hell … because there is no hell. Neither will they go to heaven … because there is no heaven. I have taught my girls that “heaven” and “hell” are what we humans create for ourselves and each other right here on earth.

Atheist. Say it over and over again and it sounds like a meaningless label. I prefer to call myself a humanist, which expresses what I embrace rather than what I reject. Humanism is my religion. I have faith in the higher power of people – our capacity, indeed our yearning, to do good. If you think sustaining faith in an invisible God or his sacrificial dead son is challenging, try being a spiritual humanist. People fuck up all the time: We disappoint, we hurt each other, we fail miserably. To err is human. But to forgive at least feels divine.

So I forgive all of the evangelicals who’ve come knocking on my door to share the “Good News” with my family and save our souls.

I forgive my former next-door neighbors – a Baptist minister and her husband ­– for having a “Veggie Tales” video marathon while baby-sitting for my non-Christian kids. I forgive my mom’s Orthodox Jewish friend for “gifting us” with a mezzuzah when my first daughter, Sophie, was born. A mezzuzah is a little box that houses a teeny-tiny scroll with a Hebrew prayer on it that many Jews hang on the doorposts of their homes as a sign of their faith. I would hang one if it could ward off Jesus’ traveling salesmen, but it doesn’t. And I forgive Kayla’s dad for suggesting that I solve a childcare crisis by sending my 11-year-old daughter Jessie to Bible camp with his children. Thanks, but I would rather her binge-watch reruns of “I Love Lucy.” Finally, I have to forgive myself for many years of ruthlessly judging those who believe in God as gullible, fearful children holding on to the security blanket of an imaginary friend.

Parenting has transformed my perspective on religion. I don’t want my children to face prejudice for their beliefs and I don’t want them to feel prejudice toward anyone else. On some fundamental level, I think world peace begins with me teaching my children respect for freedom and diversity. So how did a nice Jewish bat mitzvah girl become an outspoken believer that Dieu n’exist pas? Feminism made me do it. Sure, let’s blame feminism. Everybody does.

A women’s studies class at Penn introduced me to the religious origins of gender oppression. I concluded that God didn’t create man, rather mencreated God in their own image. Patriarchy strikes again! So, God was yet another male authority figure to reject.

I dabbled with the Goddess ­– Mother Earth – and found the concept of a female divinity empowering. But she didn’t stick.

Still, I had a spiritual awakening. It didn’t happen inside any houses of worship or appear to me in the shadowy curves of a bagel. It happened, actually, during political demonstrations, when I felt a soulful connection to a larger group as we joined together to promote a common vision of justice. And I experienced an epiphany again during pregnancy and after giving birth, when I felt my own power of creation plus a deep connection to all women, across cultures and throughout time, who have grown a human life inside them, pushed a baby out of their bodies, fed that child from their breasts, and felt love of divine proportions.

Many people find God in these moments of mystery and clarity. I found my way to the Washington Ethical Society (WES). [3]What looks like a church, acts like a church but isn’t a church? A congregation of spiritual humanists.

Both of my daughters had baby naming ceremonies at WES. These rituals don’t feature holy water or the drawing of blood. Instead, parents stand before the congregation, promise to love and accept their child’s uniqueness; and the congregation pledges to support our family, to know and care for our children, too.

My daughters have also attended Sunday School at WES and (like most parents there) my partner and I have taught our kids and others in class. The kids engage in social justice work, like campaigning against slave/child labor in the cocoa industry and serving meals at a shelter for homeless women. Instead of Valentine’s Day, we have Pay Attention to Love Day. We hold a humanist seder at Passover and celebrate Spring Festival in place of Easter. “Stone Soup” is our Thanksgiving and Winter Festival is our end of year holiday.

But God wormed his way into my children’s lives anyway. (He works in mysterious ways.) Where? At public school, of course, where my kids have been required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every day, a ritual I find nauseating both for its nationalism and its invocation of God.

I decided that perhaps my children should have more religious literacy than I do. I purchased a series of books called “This Is My Faith,” which are first-person journals of children explaining the symbols, rituals, tenets of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism and how their family practices their religion. One summer, I tried to get Jessie interested in creating her own “This Is My Faith” book about humanism/ethical culture, but like many projects launched with great enthusiasm, we never finished.

My older daughter hasn’t really asked about God. But I’ve asked her plenty. Most recently:

“Sophie, do you believe in God?”

“I don’t know!”

“You don’t know if there’s a God or you don’t know if you believe in God?”

“I don’t know! Now, leave me alone!” (She is 15, after all, and has better things to do, usually involving earbuds and a palm-size screen.)

Jessie, at 11, is surprisingly clearer on her beliefs. While rehearsing at home for a school chorus concert, she admitted to me that instead of singing “God shed his grace on thee” during “America, the Beautiful,” she silently mouths the words, just as she’s been doing for years, ­she confessed, during the pledge of Allegiance.

This summer, Jessie went to a week of overnight camp, where they sang songs before meals and bedtime. At the end of the week, Leslie, the camp director, asked the girls for feedback on what they liked most and what they would change. My daughter pulled Leslie aside and explained that she is an atheist and wished that they didn’t sing songs that mentioned God. Leslie thanked her and said that she usually tells kids they can substitute “Earth” for “God” but just forgot this year.

This past year, Sophie participated in the Coming of Age program at WES, a year-long rite of passage that educates parents about adolescent development. It includes spiritual experiences, like camping alone on a mountain. The program concluded with a moving graduation ceremony in which the teens gave speeches about how they had grown over the year and we parents tearfully sang songs to our children.

It’s been a challenging year. Sophie and Jessie are the only two of their vast brood of cousins who aren’t having bar or bat mitzvahs. We’ve been to so many of them, I wondered if Sophie felt like she was missing something, a special event that focused just on her transition from childhood to young womanhood. So, I offered to throw her an alternative quinceaƱera. “We’re not Latino, Mom,” she reminded me.

No, we’re not. We’re Jewish(ish). We’re liberals. We’re a two-mom family. We’re vegetarians. We’re not “nones,” that growing population of Americans who are disconnected from religious affiliation. We aren’t going it alone. But still, somehow, the thing that seems to push our family over the edge of mainstream America is our atheism.

[4] on The Perils Faced by My Atheist Family in Our God-Obsessed Community

Monday, August 11, 2014

Incredible astrophotography time-lapse
of stars and meteors

via our friend Xeni at Boing Boing
Photographer and time-lapse video genius Gavin Heffernan has done it again with this amazing video of the night sky over Sequoia and King's Canyon national parks in California, near the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Makes me want to drive out there right now. Below, a "behind the scenes" video. More photos here.

a kind of "making of" here:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday special:
Dove, the Band of Love: DEVO’s Christian alter-ego

from Dangerous Minds:

The dawn of the ‘80s was an amazing time for DEVO. After a late-1979 Saturday Night Live appearance made them notorious among the normals, the resolutely weird and misanthropic Akron, OH band managed an actual pop radio hit with “Whip It,” from the Freedom of Choice LP. That song probably remains their best known work among civilians who consider the band a one hit wonder.

Those civilians do kind of have a point. Though they’re inarguably among the most influential bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and their still-growing cult is as ardent as any band’s, DEVO would never experience that kind of mass-marketplace success again, and they remain a connoisseur’s buy. But while they had the world’s ears and eyeballs, they did their best to spread to the masses the prophetic, only half-satirical “Theory of Devolution” that gave them their name. One of the funniest moves they pulled to that end was to serve as their own opening band in the guise of “Dove, the Band of Love.” To satirize the devolution-proving emergence of that puritanical, self righteous, money-hungry, and censorious strain of Christian Evangelicalism that was beginning its pernicious spread through American political and cultural life—and which remains disturbingly powerful still—Dove (an anagram for DEVO, if you didn’t catch that) performed tepid, bowdlerized, Jesused-up versions of DEVO songs, wearing cheap leisure suits and accountants’ visors.

Dove’s Evangelical satire was so spot-on that they earned a cameo in the seriously underrated 1980 Dabney Coleman spoof film Pray TV. It’s not unlike “Weird” Al Yankovic’s UHF, but it beat “Weird” Al to the punch by nine years, and it’s centered around televangelism.




Previously on Dangerous Minds

Attention all spuds: DEVO in concert 1980

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Life After Manson

My Life After Manson
Forty-five years ago, Patricia Krenwinkel killed for Charles Manson. Now she provides an emotional account of her life from prison.

Friday, August 8, 2014


from Dangerous Minds

Dialectical materialism as explained by 8-bit philosophy, a kind of “Super Marxio” or “Marxism for Dummies” for the digital generation. Why bother with boring old Das Kapital when you can bluff your way through the exam with this four-minute video?

More low resolution gems of useful information on Plato, Nietzsche, Kant, Sartre, Zeno, Descartes and Kierkegaard can be found here, or better still, read the books.