Monthly Archives: August 2013

Notes on recent podcasts…

Standard

One of my goals this year, especially during the hiatus from print journalism earlier this year, was to put more time into electronic media–specifically, the wild world of podcasting. Like most of you, I’ve been listening to them avidly; for the record, my two favorites are both pro-wrestling related, of course: The Steve Austin Show, and The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana. Both shows have been highly entertaining, and I dare say, inspirational to my own efforts.

However, my output in the podcasting business has kinda sucked ass so far, in large part because I lack the discipline of Messers Austin and Cabana. My own podcast, “the HullCast“, has been sporadic; I’ve only done a few episodes on the existing platform over the years. I have no idea how to edit sound, and I’ve procrastinated on making the crucial hardware/software/bandwidth investments needed to get it all going at full-speed. (Also, I’ve not designed a logo yet; I had a very nice artist in mind, but I guess she thought I was kidding about the whole “commissioning a logo for my podcast” thing.) So, instead and supplementary to that stuff, I’ve spent a bit of time doing guest-shots on other people’s podcasts, and here are a couple quick notes on the ones I’ve been involved with recently.

The Side Hustle Podcast is the brainchild of my good friend Walter Gant; it spun off from “The List FM” podcast (currently on hiatus), which he was a regular on, and I an occasional guest. Walt’s day-job is taking to bigger and better places (namely, Orlando), and it appears that he’ll be passing the torch to me after his departure. So, preparatory to that, I did a guest shot on August 16. This episode also features regular panelists Cody Barksdale, Sarah Hatfield and Willis LeRoy.

The Pretend Radio podcast is run by my friend Devin Clark, and its focus tends to be on the world of stand-up comedy. I’ve been a guest on his show a couple times, which is interesting because I’m not a comedian (although I’ve been accused of it on occasion). Chris Buck is always there with me, as well, and the most recent episode (recorded August 4) also included the delightful Kris Niblock. (We are billed as “Kris Niblock and friends”, which is hilarious in many ways.)

The Ali B Variety show is hosted by Alicia Bertine, one of the most interesting and inspirational people I’ve ever had the opportunity to know. She touches on a variety of topics, including health and wellness, politics and affairs of the heart. She was kind enough to invite me on the show on August 13; we mainly discussed cancer and birth defects, and their relationship to the use of depleted uranium in Iraq, as well as our shared disdain for genetically-modified foods. It sounds really heavy, but it’s actually pretty funny–indeed, probably funnier than the stuff I did on the other two shows, which was supposed to be funny. That says something about me, but I don’t know what. Again, when I find the link to that show, I’ll put it here.

Advertisements

Random thoughts on blood & guts, and Syria… [NSFW]

Standard

I’ve been a journalist, as I care to define it (getting paid for it, albeit not that much) for about 16 years or so, but that was mostly music and whatnot. In that time, I was never really squeamish about blood and guts; I had no particular desire to see it, but it didn’t bother me much when I did. Part of that was probably culture; I grew up seeing fights, bleeding, people who’d been shot or otherwise injured violently. I was a wrestling fan, so I was weaned on the bloodbaths that often typified the southern territories of my youth; I also watched stuff like “Faces of Death”, and the various websites catering to those interests, which disturbed me, but never enough to just avoid it.

From a professional standpoint, it wasn’t an issue until September 28, 2000–the day that Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount (aka al-Aqsa Mosque, aka Haram al-Sharif), in a political move that led immediately to the Second Palestinian intifada. It was a nasty, brutal conflict that I never saw up-close, but wrote about extensively–that work entailed parsing the visual data, which was both copious and exceptionally awful to see: Bombed-out Israeli buses with dismembered dead bodies still in their seats, left there for the media to understand why Likud was ascendant; old Palestinian women with their chests torn open like Thanksgiving turkeys come wishbone time; children shot to death on-camera. I’ll never forget the image of a young man who’d been allegedly hit with something big enough to bisect his skull from crown to cuspids; it was, for me, the visual embodiment of yet another needless war.

Those images were made somewhat tolerable by the context: Those depicted were often combatants, or at least innocents who could be credibly categorized as “collateral damage”. But 9/11 was something different–a mass-murder of entirely innocent people, carried out in real-time in a manner that was impossible for the general public to ignore, in America or everywhere else. Our nation was instantly plunged into a collective PTSD-type state, with the inconsistency and reckless behavior one might expect of that condition–not just the wars, but the overall character of our nation and its sphere of influence. America got a lot more cold, callous and ruthlessly violent at that point, and it remains that way to this day. The new war brought new methods, which coupled with the proliferation of communications technology meant an unprecedented amount of human carnage visited upon casual consumers of mass-media. That process really began–or at least peaked–with the killing of Daniel Pearl, a reporter whose head was chopped off by the terrorists he was attempting to investigate. His murder, along with many others (Margaret Hassan, Nicholas Berg, etc.), were videotaped by the killers and disseminated through the internet; never had it been easier to watch people die on-camera. The effect was chilling.

I watched all this stuff, and rarely flinched. But over the past few years, my ability to watch such things has curtailed dramatically. I can think of several reasons for that, none of which are of any particular relevance at this moment. The point is that I mostly avoided such material, even when there was a journalistic imperative. For example, there are tons of photos documenting the immediate aftermath of the Haitian earthquake from a few years ago, none of which I’ve really looked at. I tried, but kids crushed in rubble was too much to even attempt to look at. Those tendencies have persisted, almost without exception until a few hours ago, when I started looking at reports about the alleged poison-gas attack in Syria.

Courtesy Associated Press

 

Putting aside discussion of the actual conflict (about which there is plenty to say, and plenty to see all over the web), as well as the wide discrepancy in the estimates of those killed (which range from 600-1,300, last I checked), I’ll note that i spent a good couple hours just looking at pictures of the people killed and injured by whatever it was that was dropped on them. Most of them were children, many of whom died with their eyes still open, and not much visual sign of any trouble, aside from blue lips and blank expressions. They almost looked like drowsy kids daydreaming in the summer heat, which is probably exactly what they were before they were murdered by the hundreds. It was hard to even look, at first; the cursor danced swiftly from top to bottom, allowing me to take in outlines without real detail, until it gradually became more tolerable. Eventually, I got to the business of scrutinizing the faces of the dead to see if they gave any casual indication of what had happened to them. The blue lips suggested hypoxia, rapid oxygen deprivation, which could come from drowning, suffocation, asphyxiation or strangulation. But they weren’t wet, they had been gathered in the open air, not inside a building, and there were no external markings to indicate any trauma of any obvious kind. Also, their eyes were clear; they weren’t jaundiced or bloodshot, and there were no broken blood-vessels, like there would be if someone had been strangled.

I sat there for a good while, trying to think of how all those people could be killed so fast, leaving corpses that looked like that, without using some type of banned chemical or biological agent on unarmed civilians, and it was only after I’d satisfied myself as to the likelihood of what happened–which would be a war-crime, enough to merit the immediate execution of anyone involved on any level of its formulation or implementation–that I became even slightly comfortable with having made myself look at those pictures. It helped that, eventually, I was able to stop thinking about myself, and start thinking about the victims, and their silenced voices. Always a good idea…

Courtesy RT

Random links to recent Folio Weekly stories…

Standard

Folio Weekly logo

As you know, I took most of the first half of the year away from print journalism, for various reasons best saved for a podcast elsewhere (thanks, Meggybo!). But I’ve been back in the saddle this summer, returning to Folio Weekly, where I’ve been writing on a regular basis since summer 1997. Just wanted to take a quick moment to post links of the recent stuff I’ve done, for the benefit of all my little Hull-A-Maniacs who aren’t in Jacksonville and can’t read the print edition. So, here ya go…

*Canary In the Coalmine (june 26): http://folioweekly.com/Songbirds,5663

*“Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” (July 10): http://folioweekly.com/There-Will-Be-Blood,5915

*Black Kids (August 14): http://folioweekly.com/Not-Just-Kids-Anymore,6544 

*Mick Foley (August 21): http://folioweekly.com/A-Hardcore-Humorist,6681

Notes on Scared Rabbits, PopNihil, etc.

Standard

Track list and flyer…

Scared Rabbits/Burnt Hair/Vase/Cyril/Andy Borsz/Vile Wine

CoRK Arts District, 2689 Rosselle Street

Friday, August 9, 9pm

Artist Morrison Pierce has been performing and recording as “Scared Rabbits” for nearly a decade, but Darkness To Black marks the group’s first official full-length release. Although he’s already sold couple dozen copies of the album to friends and patrons, its formal debut occurs as part of an event being held at CORK on Friday, August 9 featuring five other bands. (They will also be doing a release party at Rain Dogs on the 22nd.) I met him there, a few days ago, to listen to the album and talk about its development.

While a number of talents have been involved in Scared Rabbits shows over the years (most notably Jay Peele and the late great Brian Hicks), the current incarnation as documented on the album features Pierce on vocals atop instrumental production by Chance Isbell, who’s been involved in the project for about a year. It’s just the latest multimedia collaboration between the two, both men are visual artists by trade, and both fixtures in the CORK scene from practically its inception.

Morrison Pierce, occupying his studio

The album was recorded entirely on four-track tape, and was culled together from hours of material, which will eventually spawn further albums. Tracks range from 2:21 to 12:44, and the overall noisy freak-out vibe is tempered (however briefly) by moments of genuine beauty. For me, highlights include the opening track, “America Loves You”, a tour-de-force running nearly 12 minutes, built around vocal samples of politicians’ overly sunny spin on what the artists view as a society in economic and moral decay. And then there’s the simultaneously  offensive-yet-funny “Lesbian Chicken”, which is the closest thing they have to a radio single—though really not that close.

Chance Isbell, setting that trap…

The evening also sees the release of new product by the local Popnihil label, whose founder Matthew Moyer will be performing as Burnt Hair with Trenton Tarpits. “The genesis of popnihil was really just a dissatisfaction with the creeping, all-consuming digitization of the parts of popular culture that I liked best (music, books, magazines),” writes Moyer, “and a realization that if I truly valued the physical artifact and truly wanted to stand against a sterile future of mp3s and ebooks, it was time to put my money where my mouth was and help make tangible, physical objects. popnihil began with Jason Brown and I making collaborative zines, and I started releasing cassettes soon after, just to get the music of Keith Ansel/Mon Cul out there. Since then, I’ve released a number of other tapes by Jacksonville-area musicians operating on the harsher fringes of sound. And zines, always zines.”

For Moyer, who spends his days toiling at the Jacksonville Public Library, and certain nights hosting “Lost In the Stacks” for WJCT, popnihil has been a labor of love for the music, and his friends who are involved in making it. The CORK show will function in part as a showcase for that whole scene, a scene whose potency has only increased over this long, hot summer. “The product being released this Friday includes the new cassette by Voids, ‘Burial In The Sky’,” he writes. “Voids is the project of noise prodigy Jon Thoreson, and it’s really his most fully realized work yet. Beautiful, spare soundscapes give way to discipline-and-punish grind. And he collaborated with members of NON, Swans, Chelsea Wolfe, and Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show. No foolin’. Then there’s the debut demo from local garage savages The Mold. They make a mighty, blown-out racket with just keyboard, bass, drums and snotty (oh so snotty) vocals. Fourteen minutes of pure juvenile delinquency on a snot-colored cassette, that repeats on the other side. Just like ‘Reign In Blood’ does. They’re not going to be a local secret much longer. And I need to give another mention to the new Game Show tape, which came out at the end of July. It’s Josh Touchton and Zach Ferguson’s severely damaged hip-hop project. It’s kinda the line in the sand between people who say they like weird music and people who REALLY like freaked out music. Also the new popnihil music zine is coming out, if I can get it together in time. And, of course, the last remaining copies of tapes by Encounters and Beach Party will be on offer.”

So, that’s up to a half-dozen new recordings available that night, not to mention whatever else the other bands bring with them; Moyer “handpicked all the bands for Friday’s lineup,” and is far better equipped to describe them than I: “There’s the aforementioned Voids for starters, as this is the their tape release party. Burnt Hair, my coldwave/goth project with Trenton Tarpits of 2416/MREOW, will play a set. Vase (formerly Mohr) is John Ross Tooke’s project, first show of 2013, and it will be full-on overcast industrial nightmarescapes. Andy Borsz from the noise juggernaut Slasher Risk (and new Jax resident) is going to play a rare solo set, and you never what to expect from him. I’m excited that some friends from Austin are going to play this show as a one-off: Cyril is the solo endeavor of Aaron from Weird Weeds, and it’s just evil electronic hypnosis, and Vile Wine is a collaboration between Aaron and Sheila from No Mas Bodas/Suspirians, and it’ll be total armageddon, for certain. Closing out the night will be cult volume abusers Scared Rabbits. What will they sound like? Who will be in the band for the night? One never knows….”

https://www.facebook.com/events/618494358185002

 

Show flyer

 

sheltonhull@gmail.com

August 9, 2013

Notes on Gannett layoffs, and the business in general…

Standard

I just finished reading about the latest round of layoffs in the newspaper industry, in this case Gannett, arguably the most powerful media organization in America today. Props to Jim Romenesko for breaking the story, which is Brutal–just brutal. As a journalist based in Florida (where Gannett owns seven newspapers, three TV stations and four radio stations), I’ve watched in horror as this process has unfolded over the past decade.

This is the first generation of newspapermen who’ve proven incapable of doing business correctly. The number of veteran reporters, photographers, cartoonists, etc. laid off over the past decade could fill a medium-sized arena–and the papers and magazines they left behind are, in most cases, either shells of their former selves or just out-of-business altogether. A number of papers have installed pay-portals in hopes of increasing revenue, but that has the effect of limiting the size of their audience; even The New York Times, the greatest newspaper of all-time, is suffering, although it appears new editor Jill Abramson has done a really great job getting the “Old Gray Lady” back in fighting shape.

Consumers of media need to be more aggressive about using their power to make clear what they want from the product, and editors and publishers around the country need to grow some balls and stop playing a defensive game with new media. The web caught fire in the late-’90s, right as the old guard of print media management was exiting the stage; having weathered multiple storms in the post-war era, they might have managed the transition more effectively, but their replacements seemed to instinctively view the Internet as an existential threat to their operations. Around the country, editors and publishers alike were largely dismissive of the potential of “new media”, and the bias can still be discerned from their public statements. As a result, most papers did not begin to develop their digital game until it was almost too late–and once they did, the transition was handled badly, because their heart wasn’t really into it.

I’ve always likened the dynamic to that of the radio industry at the dawn of television. Many performers and executives for those networks similarly dismissed the new technology’s potential, and either refused to familiarize themselves with it altogether, or waited until it was too late. As a result, many careers ended, and several companies went defunct. But those who were open to the new technology, and made sincere efforts to acclimate themselves to it, ended becoming the people we now recognize as the pioneers of television; most of the top stars thus remained viable for the rest of their lives, and their families benefit from the royalties to this day. Likewise, print media outlets should stop thinking of the web as competition for the business, while engaging in counter-productive, reactionary decision-making, and instead start appreciating it as simply a powerful new tool to augment and enhance their business. Those who prove capable of doing this correctly will end up as the dominant forces in the media environment of the future–a future that may already be upon us.

Random extra thoughts on #Trayvon, #Zimmerman and their fans…

Standard

Have you ever noticed that many of the same folks who say that Trayvon Martin should have just submitted to the random, arbitrary authority of some gun-toting stranger are the same ones who openly encourage sedition against our government? That many of the same folks who suggest that the boy’s clothing, gold teeth and junk-food preferences lead inexorably to his being a “thug”, and thus fair game for an assailant with similar prejudices are also the same ones who say that, because the president’s dad was a Muslim, that he must be a Muslim, too, no matter how vigorously he asserts his allegiance to Christ? That many of the same folks who say the boy’s social media pictures with guns and pot also have pictures of guns and pot on their pages as well? That the same folks who say Trayvon should have just done whatever the guy told him are also the same ones who say George Zimmerman had no responsibility to follow the 911 dispatcher’s professional instructions? That protesters are accused of “playing the race card” by some of the same people who’ve accused every black person who has complained of any type of mistreatment over the last 50 years of playing the race card, as well? That the same folks who accuse Obama, of dividing the country have been pushing a narrative of “us vs. them” from the moment he took office? Yeah, me neither, LOL…