Archives for the month of: February, 2013

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In President Barack Obama’s words, from the 2013 State of the Union Address..

“America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.” 

At first glance, this looks fine. Cyber attacks are a real threat, and defenses need to be there. But the nature and scope of these defenses, and their invasive, vague language is a big problem. CISPA would allow private companies, intelligence firms and homeland security a way to freely share private user information. If the information is deemed a “cyber threat” it can be shared with impunity. As if it wasn’t enough for every American to have their online activities recorded since 9/11 via the NSA. CISPA goes further and removes any legal problems a third party business or intelligence agency could run into for sharing information with the government. So for our own protection, Americans will have absolutely no privacy online. Once again the rights of the people are trampled over by the government, all based on fear. 

 

I see a big gap between what the President says, and what’s going on behind the scenes. The U.S. government has hounded whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, for revealing America’s true colors. They would deem whistleblowers as “cyber threats”, and with the passage of CISPA it would be much easier to hunt these people and organizations down. From childhood I’ve been taught that if you’re dishonest about your activities or your doing something that’s harming others, that’s wrong. If someone points this out to you, you should listen, examine yourself and stop the bad behavior. It seems that in the world of American government, those rules don’t apply. If you do something that’s wrong, hide it, lie about it, and if someone points it out, try to throw them in jail. Great lesson for all the youngsters out there. 

These attitudes show that this country doesn’t actually believe in all that freedom and liberty stuff. They are only words if actions do not follow. I’m not sure what to call this country anymore. Tracking every move of Americans online, stripping away my right to a trial under the NDAA, leading a witch hunt against those exposing corrupt government practices and pushing for a final end to internet privacy with CISPA doesn’t sound like America. Call it the United States of Dystopia; one nation under fear, with liberty and possible indefinite detention for all. 

 

CISPA, aka H.R. 624 has now been referred to the House Committee on Intelligence. With an executive order passed to give it a boost, support from companies like Facebook, and a lack of serious conversation about it in the mainstream media, the government hopes to get it passed into law. It seems intentional to constantly bombard citizens with confusing acronyms like SOPA/PIPA/FISA/CISPA and cryptic language so they don’t understand or don’t care about the nature of these bills. It’s draining to attempt to unpack all this information at my small level. But for the sake of the internet, and to join those who wish to protect and encourage it, I will continue to share my thoughts and stand up against the powers that be. Internet pioneers and activists like Aaron Swartz didn’t die for the rest of us to sit back and take it lying down. 

There is still time to contact Congress and say “violating our privacy is not an option.”. To find out more information and get involved, check out these sites..

Cispaisback.org

Savetheinternet.com 

– Jimi Jaxon 

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Up until a month or so ago, I had never seen Blade Runner. Crazy I know, but I wasn’t raised to have an affection towards movies, especially ones that challenge my reality and society at large. The timing of me experiencing Blade Runner, and the soundtrack by Vangelis for the first time was perfect. I was building a very long dystopian themed DJ set for a party at True Love Art Gallery in Seattle. After downloading the Blade Runner soundtrack, I spent a long time listening to it before I saw the film. The music Vangelis created here works really well with the often times dreary look of Washington, and I developed my own narrative driving around the city. I recommend using his music to soundtrack your own driving adventures, it’s relaxing and surreal.

 

So after hearing the music on it’s own for a while, I finally got to watching the movie, and since then have watched it close to a dozen times. These have all been of the Director’s Cut, with the voice-over’s taken out and the additional scenes put in. Early this morning I watched Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner; a three-and-a-half hour documentary taking you inside the development and  execution of the film, complete with all the difficulties involved with it’s production. It can be easy to view a film like Blade Runner, recognize it’s significance, but still not understand the depth of pain and suffering going on behind the scenes to get the final result.

Adapted from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a novel by Philip K. Dick, it took several other choices and a fair amount of convincing before Ridley Scott agreed to take on the project, originally titled “Dangerous Days”. Scott was in the process of directing Dune, but a combination of slow filming pace and the death of his older brother lead him to the task of bringing Blade Runner to life. The final title of the film came from William S. Burroughs Blade Runner (a movie), a science fiction novella and proposed screen adaptation of Alan E. Nourse’s The Blade Runner. With a small budget and a script originally written by Hampton Fancher, re-written by David Peoples, the film was on it’s way. Blade Runner eventually got the approval of Philip K. Dick, after he read the re-written script and saw a special effects reel, demonstrating what this world would look like. He said that Ridley Scott perfectly realized the environment he imagined in his novel.

 

Scott named French comic series Heavy Hurlant, aka Heavy Metal  and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks painting as influences for the style and mood of this science-fiction noir film. Interpretations of a worn down Hong Kong and the industrial landscape of northeast England where Scott was from, were also used.

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I was amazed by lengths Ridley Scott and his team went to make the world of Blade Runner as real as possible. The building of the city, the props, the costumes, the miniatures were done with the utmost precision and care. The crew worked at night, outside, in the rain almost all of the time. You’ll have to watch the documentary to see for yourself, but it’s astounding and incredibly inspiring. Ridley Scott took charge of some many levels of this film’s creation, taking talented people and bringing them up to a much higher quality level. Many feel that the roles some of these actors played in the film (Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, Joe Turkel etc.) are some of their best performances ever. During filming, Scott would blast the early Vangelis music for the film from speakers on top of the buildings, so everyone felt completely immersed in the environment. 

 

 

Vangelis is a Greek composer best known for the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire. He is a genius in my book, for his perfect audio representation of Blade Runner. It’s dark, it’s melodic and emotionally gripping from start to finish. The combination of classical composition and synthesizers encapsulate the film’s themes around what it means to be a human. 

For all the incredible, forward thinking elements of this film, the audience in 1982 wasn’t ready. With E.T. dominating the movie theater experience, people wanted something more utopian, more positive. A small group of people held onto the film, recognizing it as a revolutionary presentation of the future, and over the years it gained recognition and respect. It’s reassuring to see that a film I instantly understood as mind-blowing was seen as bizarre and unintelligible to many at the time of it’s release. Some things take time for people to fully understand, and the first reaction is not the best way to calculate something’s importance and worth. Blade Runner is to many, the ultimate science-fiction film noir, and it’s influence and legacy are constantly evolving. 

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– Jimi Jaxon 

 

I don’t think it’s necessary for me to analyze these Shackleton releases too much. The limited edition box set of Music For The Quiet Hour / The Drawbar Organ EPs consists of three 12″ records and a CD, released on Shackleton’s own label, Woe To The Septic Heart! (digital purchase via Boomkat). The artwork is delightfully bizarre and perfectly matches the strange, intricate quality of the music. I enjoyed the collaborated work of Pinch & Shackleton on Honest Jon’s Records, and after searching for new tunes, came across Music For The Quiet Hour / The Drawbar Organ EPs. My reaction to this music is that it’s something to fall into. It’s got a dark, meditative quality that seems to be in a category of it’s own. In Music For The Quiet Hour, vocals from Vengeance Tenfold take you deep into a dystopian land. The tracks in The Drawbar Organ EPs are more rhythmically defined, while still holding a murky, ghostlike feel. Expect more Disco Droppings features on the mysterious Shackleton, after I’ve delved deeper into his other productions. 

 

 

Shackleton – Discogs 

– Jimi Jaxon 

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A couple days ago I was inspired by an episode of Breaking The Set with Abby Martin. She is an artist, founder of Media Roots, B.O.D. of Project Censored and host of my favorite news program, RT’s ‘Breaking The Set’. She has a fearless attitude toward investigative journalism, presenting her stories with a burning passion. I think some people watch the show and think that she’s coming on too strong, or too radical. Unfortunately, many newscasters read their teleprompters in such a robotic, insensitive fashion, that they make others appear over the top. It reminds me of an M.I.A. interview from a few years with Q TV. I’ve mentioned it in the past, and continue to return to her words, as I think she nails this topic. She says, “The only reason why you think I’m causing a stir is because no one else is doing it. Like, that’s why you think I stick out like a sore thumb as someone whose obviously so wrong..”.

 

In the episode posted above, at 7:51, Abby begins her “Artists’ Duty” segment. Nina Simone once said, “An artists’ duty is to reflect the times.”. Abby goes on to say, “In today’s society, art is going through a transformational crisis. Contemporary artists are becoming victims of the consumer culture of mass commercialization and corporatization.”. She empowers and challenges artists to carry on with Nina Simone’s message, instead of becoming another victim of a twisted system. One such person exemplifying this attitude to a T is LA-based street artist and muralist, Mear One. Abby Martin interviewed him for ‘Breaking The Set’, starting at 19:08. This was my first time seeing his work, and I was completely blown away by his politically charged art.

They discuss a few of his pieces including “Freedom For Humanity”, “Humanity vs. The Machine” and “Allegory of Complacency”. These political satires depict the socio-economic system that has a stranglehold on our lives. This system is often hidden from the majority of the public, and sadly, conversation about these issues can result in people being dismissed as crazy and/or conspiracy theorists.

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The remedy for this lack of conversation often comes in the form of art. It can speak in ways that words cannot, conveying messages that penetrate deeper than any argument. It has the ability to reach and challenge people across all borders of language, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political affiliation.

 

Since 1986, Mear One aka Kalen Ockerman has been building a body of work that has gained him the title of “The Michelangelo of Graffiti”. His bio states,  “He is considered by many to be Los Angeles’ most prolific graffiti artist because of the way he revolutionized graffiti with his fine-art realism, breaking out of traditional 2D letter forms, and using perspective to develop complex characters with dynamic backgrounds in epic scale.”. He takes his inspirations; ancient technology, science, philosophy, mythology, mysticism, political and cultural revolution and the apocalypse, and blends them into deeply powerful statements through the medium of visual art. 

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Mear One – Twitter Tumblr  Facebook 

mearone.com

– Jimi Jaxon