Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bands to watch in 2014: NO doubt about NO

Warning! The link I am about to lay on you starts to autoplay some great music. It's by a band out of Los Angeles called NO and I think they are very good. Of course, this is an old guy talking, but an old guy who had enough love of good music to spend four days in the cold and rain to catch artists like Santana, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Pentangle, and Fairport Convention at the Bath Festival in 1971.

That said, here is the link to NO. And here is a photo of the band I snapped as they were performing "There's a glow" on the rooftop of the Rio in Las Vegas last summer.

The significance of the setting, high above the Vegas strip, comes partly from the opening of the song that goes:
There's a glow up over the city the city.
There's a glow up over us all.
The other aspect of significance, apart from the amazing view and the electrified atmosphere of the up-close performance, is that the band is playing at a party thrown by my employer, ESET.

And I have to admit this was not my first time seeing the band live. They played an ESET party in 2012 as well. None of which would matter if the band was just okay. But in fact they are awesome when they play live, managing to create a huge sound without it becoming noise, and often generating powerful emotional tension by restraining that big sound until just the right moment.

In February of 2014 the band releases its first LP, with 7 new tracks on top of the 6 you can hear live on the website. Stay tuned to their site for fresh tour dates and try to catch them live. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Furst Last Thing: Paris, spies, women, and an education, what more could you want?

What's the secret to surviving the long dark nights of Winter? I'm not sure I know the answer; they seem to be getting harder to survive, but I'm fairly certain good fiction has a role to play. So I thought I would share what I've been reading lately: the Alan Furst Night Soldier novels. And I'm loving every precious minute. I am up to Blood of Victory which is #7 of 11. Here's the current list:
  1. Night Soldiers (1988)
  2. Dark Star (1991)
  3. The Polish Officer (1995)
  4. The World at Night (1996)
  5. Red Gold (1999)
  6. Kingdom of Shadows (2000)
  7. Blood of Victory (2003)
  8. Dark Voyage (2004)
  9. The Foreign Correspondent (2006)
  10. The Spies of Warsaw (2008)
  11. Spies of the Balkans (2010)
Of course, I'm hoping that #12 appears before I finish reading Spies of the Balkans. Bear in mind that these days I only allow myself fiction reading when on vacation and last thing at night (the rest of my reading is centered around my day job plus figuring a way out from under all the crushing financial pressures--so fiction reading time is tight and no, there is no vacation).

Which is why I can so heartily recommend Alan Furst's novels: they are as dependable as heck. Okay, so dependable may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of great fiction. But to me, dependability is critical. I don't want to be lying there on the warm sandy beach of incoming slumber and get jerked out of my reverie by the cold splash of a clumsy sentence, the rude slap of an awkward description, a broken turn of phrase or shard of erroneous data that breaks my reverie.

Now, I'm all in favor in plot twists or the abrupt presentation of uncomfortable realities, just don't make me have to scratch my head figuring out what you're on about. Furst's genius is to unfold his complex tales of anguish and espionage, amour and zeitgeist, without tying the reader in knots. And given the miliuex of these novels this is no mean feat. For a start, they are not set in English speaking countries. Heck, many of the countries in which they are set don't even exist these days; and as the novels unfold we sometimes learn, or are reminded, why these places are no more.

Although I am a big believer in the instructive power of history, historical fiction has never been my favorite genre, possibly because so few writers get it right. I don't think you can get it more right than Furst. And write now he's the last thing I read before I fall asleep.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ross Noble: Ad Lib Improv Standup as Art

UK comedian Ross Noble demonstrates his amazing ability to create hilarious content out of thin air. Truly a gift. And a great way to cheer up your day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Humor for the Holidays: Free comic clips from Ross "Duck Lord of Absurd Lib" Noble

As a Christmas New Year Hogmanay holiday gift and/or coping mechanism, British comedian Ross Noble has placed a series of clips from his shows in Australia on YouTube. This one is titled "Duck Lord."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Watch Out Wall Street and Central Park, the CEO Wagon is Coming

Look for Jeremy Dean's rolling artwork, Back to the Futurama, in New York's Central Park next weekend. Pulled by two white horses, it will be hard to miss this statement about corporate greed, consumerism, sustainability, and human pride.
Look for more pictures on Flickr. And at the blog: Back to the Futurama. If you are in the area, check out the details.

Run Dates: March 4th – March 7th 2010
VIP Reception: Thursday, March 4th, 9am-noon.
Location: Pulse New York art fair Booth #C4
Daily: Thursday- Sunday 12-8pm
Directions: 330 West Street @ West Houston
New York, NY 10014

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Conceptual Artist Deconstructs Hummer, Video Goes Viral: Art World Take Note!

The buzz about Brooklyn-based Jeremy Dean's art project "Back to the Futurama" has now gone viral, with coverage in a wide range of online media. As regular readers will recall, Jeremy is converting a GMC Hummer H2 into a horse-drawn carriage to create a symbol of America's perilously unsustainable lifestyle.

Jeremy has bet the farm on this project, so to speak, and exposure of the project will be vital to its chances of success. A big boost came two weeks ago when influential car expert and automotive journalist John Voelcker wrote about Jeremy's project under a headline that is itself an alliterative classic: "Hummer-Hating Artist Hacks H2 Into Horse Cart, Cites Hoover." This article has already racked up 16,000 views and 285 diggs.

The story spread like exhaust fumes through the automotive blogosphere and there are now over 100,000 Google hits for Hummer Hating Artist Jeremy Dean. The video that Jeremy made of the first cut into the Hummer has been viewed over 16,000 times on YouTube ( and more in Vimeo (

Not to be outdone, the equine community has picked up the story, appearing here in Horse Journal. Maybe some cart horse experts can help Jeremy match power source to completed carriage. Of course, this story was destined for mainstream press coverage from the start. We now see the project making its way into the Huffington Post and it may be on Current TV soon (it's on their web site's Upcoming section).

When us social media mavens talk about something "going viral" there really has to be a global element. The story has to be covered far and wide. Well here it is on a forum in Russia. And getting from the East Coast to New Zealand probably counts. The story was covered there in the equine press.

What is really interesting, from an art perspective, is the lack of coverage [so far] in the art press. When assessing the work of Jeremy Dean, the art world would be wise to take a tip from the film world. Conventional wisdom said Jeremy could not, as a first time film maker, make a documentary about race, not one that could be nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Dare Not Walk Alone did not win that award, but it did get a theatrical release, positive reviews in national press, a spot in Walmart's catalog and, on Tuesday night, there was an Oscar-winning actor in the front row for the screening at the Skirball Community Center in L.A. Immediately after the screening the actor walked up to Jeremy, shook his hand, and said: "Great Film!"

Footnote: Jeremy's art has been mentioned on the influential art blog EAGEAGEAG but I confess it was me that did the mentioning. (Who am I to talk about art? Well not that it really matters, but I do have a minor in Fine Art from the University of Leeds. I started a Master's degree thesis on Hegel's Aethestics at McMaster University and a doctoral thesis on William Blake's Notes on Laoco├Ân. However, don't take my word for any of this "what is art?" stuff, check out the New York gallery show in March and decide for yourself.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jeremy's New Blog: Back to the Futurama

Jeremy Dean has started to blog his wild "Back to the Futurama" art project.

This should be fun. Talk about life hacking and culture-hacking. This one is a real mind bender. A horse up front, an audio-video-enabled riding experience in back. BTW, if you're a business that has the skills and equipment to convert a Hummer H2 or Cadillac Escalade into something like the model on the left, and if you want a ton of free publicity, let Jeremy know. This thing is going to happen, and the result will make the news.

There is a Contact link on Jeremy's home page.

Update: February 1 -- Slick's Garage of Florida stepped up to the plate. Thanks guys! You Rock!