The couple in the iconic ‘Woodstock Photo’ – What’s wrong with this picture?

The other day I ran across a kind of cute story in the Daily News about the couple holding each other wrapped in a quilt, the photo of whom was used on the cover of the Woodstock album and has become one of those iconic 60s images — see “Woodstock concert’s undercover lovers, Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, 40 years after summer of love.”

Upon looking at the photo, though, what occurred to me was not how romantic or evocative the image might be, but how much litter is on the ground and what a mess the festival made. Here’s a link to the photo:

And here’s the same couple today (still married):

AB — 20 July 2009

The Ukulele Tsunami

Who knew that the humble ukulele would become the object of a worldwide surge of musical passion? An upcoming documentary, Mighty Uke, explores this phenomenon. Take a look at this fun trailer to get an idea what I’m talking about:

Margaret Meagher, writer and producer for the film, informs me that the team has nearly finished the editing for the movie. “Post-production,” she says, “will take a couple of months and the DVD should be available in early fall [2009].”

The filmmakers have this to say about the growing interest in ukulele music:

In the internet age, the ukulele is making a comeback. Clubs and ensembles are sprouting up around the world, and a new generation is pulling their grandparents’ ukes out of the closet, challenging our images of the humble ukulele. Ukes top the charts in Japan, Swedish punks thrash uke angst, California popsters serve it to ya ukulele style, classical composers carefully pluck out musicbox sonatas, and all of them meet together at the myriad ukulele festivals from New York to London to Tokyo.

AB — 22 May 2009

Global collaboration produces a beautiful cover of “Stand by Me”

The organization Playing for Change is producing music videos by inviting artists worldwide to record accompaniments to a base track, then mixing their tracks together. The effect is like a more polished version of the remix “The Mother of All Funk Chords,” which I reported on previously.

One nice feature of the Playing for Change videos is that each artist or group is recorded in his or her own environment, mostly outdoors, so you really get a beautiful international flavor in the videos.

Here’s a great version of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” that they’ve done:

AB — 28 April 2009

Best argument for remixing: Watch this video

Just today I saw a video that is probably the best argument I have ever seen in favor of remixing. Please watch and listen to Mother of All Funk Chords. Fantastic!

Here the author explains how he makes his remixed music videos.

If you prefer an intellectual argument over an experiential one, see this video lecture by Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig. Lessig has spoken at some of our meetings at the Institute for Innovation in Large Organizations (ILO). See Lessig’s blog here.

Lessig is probably the best thinker around remixing and interesting to listen to. But watching Mother of all Funk Chords is a lot more fun.

AB — 10 March 2009

Is media bias making the economy worse?

Recently I raised the very gloomy question whether the whole economy is one big bubble.

This got me thinking about the roles of optimism and pessimism in the ups and downs of the economy. Often I hear people claim (or at least express the fear) that all the pessimistic media coverage about the current economic turmoil is actually making things worse. A cynic might point to this claim as yet more evidence of Bubbleconomics at work.

This article by Faye Mallett of the Galt Global Review raises the question,

Could media be held legally liable if exaggerated reports of the global economic crisis prove to further decrease consumer confidence and actually worsen the situation?

(The date of Mallett’s article is given as January 13, 2008, but I’m pretty sure 2009 is meant, so the article is probably more current than one might think.)

Mallett cites research supposedly demonstrating that the media are biased toward economic pessimism in the current economic crisis. On the other hand, media during the Great Depression “invoked a much more positive and optimistic outlook,” she writes.

I read a certain irony into that: Is it possible that the overly positive press in 1929 blinded people to the reality of how bad things really were?

As a source, Mallett references a report from the Business & Media Institute (BMI), “The Great Media Depression.” BMI’s web site describes the organization as devoted to “analyzing and exposing the anti-free enterprise culture of the media.”

AB — 23 February 2009

Some documentaries that make you think

I’ve been meaning to make note of some striking documentary films from the past couple of years. If this makes sense, one thing they have in common is their diversity of viewpoint. Another point is their uniqueness of viewpoint — all of them really make you think.

Sicko — Michael Moore’s exposé of U.S. healthcare — and an opportunity to see Moore’s work in a non-R-rated production.

Knocking — A rare non-biased look at an unpopular minority religion.

Expelled — Ben Stein’s controversial movie about Intelligent Design.

What Would Jesus Buy? — An inside look at Reverend Billy Talen, his Church of Stop Shopping, and their anti-consumerism message.

AB — 16 February 2009

Edited Movies

Porting this post over from Socialtext:

A few years ago, I heard about CleanFlicks, a service that would allow you to “rent” edited DVDs. I don’t watch movies with sex scenes, nudity, profanity, or gory violence, so CleanFlicks seemed like a nice idea.

I should say that their position was that they didn’t rent movies, but that their customers were asking them to edit movies on their behalf. Too fine a distinction maybe, because CleanFlicks got hit with a lawsuit by entertainment interests who forced them to shut down.

I think the argument of the plaintiffs was that the copyright holder should be the one who gets to profit from editing movies. That might have been the technical legal reason, but I tend to think some professional moviemakers just didn’t like the idea of someone tinkering with their creative product and removing certain content to cater to customers’ preferences in that way.

CleanFlicks recently reopened, offering prescreened movies rather than edited movies — possibly a good idea. These are movies that they have previewed and certified to be more friendly to those who dislike profanity, sex scenes, and other undesirable content.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend them, as they have refused to even respond to numerous emails I have sent them about something I paid for and never received. It’s not that they contest my complaint — they just don’t even respond. That’s even stranger than the many companies with poor customer service, which we have all come to expect.

I checked out some other purveyors of edited movies and eventually settled on FamilySafe Movies, which has a good selection and reliable service.

In my search for a provider, I also found Flick’s Club (this company might somehow be associated with FamilySafe Movies, because the DVDs I receive from them often bear the Flick’s Club brand) and Hollygood Films.

AB — originally posted 21 March 2007