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25 Feb 00:27


10 Feb 20:51

I did not know that Chris Ware did a cover for Candide

by Biblioklept
05 Dec 21:59

by (DCB)

Following the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire the New York State Legislature created the Factory Investigating Commission to "investigate factory conditions in this and other cities and to report remedial measures of legislation to prevent hazard or loss of life among employees through fire, unsanitary conditions and occupational diseases."

How did businessmen and business groups respond?

"We are of the present opinion that if the present recommendations are insisted upon...factories will be driven from the city, labor will be compelled to accompany them, factories, tenements, and small houses will become tenantless with the final result of demoralization in tax collections by the city.
- Resolution adopted by the United Real Estate Owner's Association

"[These changes in the fire code will lead to] the wiping out of industry in this state."
- Spokesman for the Associated Industries of New York

"This condition is depreciating the value of real estate, restricting its marketability, and driving manufacturers out of the City and State of New York."
- Resolution adopted by the Board of Governors of the Real Estate Board of New York.

"Many owners will be so financially embarrassed by the great expenditure made necessary thereby that great numbers of buildings will be forced into foreclosure or otherwise sacrificed."
- The Realty League

"You must relieve [New York's] real estate from the terrible yolk of oppression which has been throttling it for some years past..."
- Charles F. Noyes, "who represents owners of store and loft buildings in Manhattan"

"The businessmen of this country who have made and saved money should no longer be supervised, criticized, or controlled by men who have neither made nor saved it."
- State Superintendent of Banks Eugene Lamb Richards

"Thousands of factories are migrating to New Jersey and Connecticut in order to be freed from the oppressive laws of New York State...The owners of real property are becoming terrified by the number of laws which have been enacted...You can no longer distinguish the real estate owner by the smile of prosperity, because his property is now a burden and a liability instead of a source of income. To own a factory building in New York City is now a calamity.
- George W. Olvany, special counsel to the Real Estate Board.

"We have been legislated to death."
- James T. Hoyle, Secretary of the Manufacturer's Association

"No new laws are needed."
- New York Times

01 Jun 02:47

Clumping Action: Pisswick Crunch

by (DCB)
"Dancing is alien to heavy metal for two basic reasons. One is the continuation of the tradition of the youth counterculture. The audience for psychedelic music and for folk-inspired political protest songs listened while seated, to better concentrate on the lyrics. Second, dance music is understood in the modern West as an erotic activity. As a masculinist and overwhelmingly masculine grouping with an extreme heterosexualist ideology, the heavy metal subculture stresses male bonding, not male-female pairing...Yet heavy metal music is based on a strong regular beat that calls for the movement of the body...The solution to the problem of body movement was to create a code of gestural response to the music that could be shared in common. One of the two primary gestures is the arm thrust, usually a sign of appreciation but also used to keep time with the rhythm. The other primary gesture, called headbanging, involves a downward thrust of the head with a gentler upthrust...A distinctive demeanor and expression are also nurtured in the metal subculture. The familiar insult that  metal fans are "slack-jawed", evincing a look of dull stupidity, needs to be examined. In part it is an accurate characterization of the faces of those emerging from a heavy metal concert, but it could also describe someone who has just spent several hours enjoying ecstatic physical activity. The look also reflects the impact of the downers and beer consumed by metal fans.

...Ingestion of massive quantities of beer has remained a constant feature of the metal subculture. Beer induced urination has influenced at least one venue in the U.S. to spread large amounts of kitty litter in the area near the stage."
-Deena Weinstein

19 May 01:16

The Making of a Charitable Food Movement

by (MSF)

Mission Street Food began as a kind of accident, which gathered momentum as it evolved from a food truck into a pop-up and then Mission Chinese Food and now even an outpost in New York.

A few years later, we’re hoping that another half-baked idea can pick up steam and become something real and lasting, but this time the goal is not just a charitable restaurant but a full-fledged charitable food movement. We will need help to make it happen, just like last time, but we hope you will feel as excited by the potential as we do.

First a bit of background: a few months ago, we started talking with The Kitchen Sisters, who produce radio for KQED, about a big event they are curating at SFMOMA. The theme is “The Making Of…” and they’re bringing more than a hundred local artists and artisans to do what they love to do—from making hats to building furniture out of mushrooms—right in the middle of the museum. We wondered what we could do, and as we daydreamed, we came upon the idea of “The Making of a Charitable Food Movement,” which would be a participatory exhibit in which museumgoers would help us build a new food culture on the spot.

So here’s what we have planned: On Friday May 31st, as part of the “Making Of…” exhibit at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, hosted by acclaimed radio producers, The Kitchen Sisters, we’re putting together an event called “The Making of a Charitable Restaurant Movement.” The idea is to demonstrate a robust public interest in making food more meaningful by giving back.

More than forty of the city’s most respected restaurants will sell $50 gift certificates, of which $5 will fund meals for people in need; gift certificates will be available for purchase May 31 from 10am to 6pm at the museum and online.

At the museum, chefs from Bar Tartine, La Cocina, Mission Chinese Food, Stag Dining Group, Tacolicious and Wise Sons Deli will serve snacks for $5 apiece, of which $1 will be donated to The Food Bank. The event will also feature cooking demonstrations by Chad Robertson (Tartine Bakery), Thomas McNaughton (Flour + Water), Jason Fox (Commonwealth), Ryan Pollnow (Central Kitchen) and Jesse Koide (Mission Chinese Food).

For every dollar raised by this event, The Food Bank will be able to provide three meals for hungry people in the Bay Area—and the need has been rising in the last few years.

We’re launching a new entity, called, which is a philanthropic platform created for this event, but if enough money is raised to feed 50,000 people, we will expand the endeavor into an ongoing accelerator helping restaurants to benefit their communities.

For us, this feels like a bit of a return to the old days of Mission Street Food, when we invited guest chefs to join us in the kitchen and asked customers to bear with our occasional mis-steps for the sake of giving back to our communities. We are even returning here, to our old blog, where we used to announce our latest scheme, from “Mexiterranean” night to “2011: A Seafood Odyssey.” Now we are asking for you to get involved again, whether that means eating charitable snacks at the museum on May 31, or buying gift certificates at the event or online, or just helping us spread the word to get off the ground. This is, by definition, a community effort, and we hope you will join in.

* * *

Full list of participants: Ame, Atelier Crenn, Bar Agricole, Bar Tartine, Benu, BiRite Market, Boulevard, Café Des Amis, Camino, Central Kitchen, Coi, Commis, Commonwealth, Cotogna, Delfina, Fifth Floor, Flour + Water, Foreign Cinema, Frances, Jardiniere, Locanda, Marlowe, Michael Mina, Mission Bowling Club, Mission Chinese Food, Nopa, Park Tavern, Perbacco, Pizzeria Delfina, Prospect, Quince, Rich Table, RN74, Saison, Salumeria, Sons & Daughters, Spruce, State Bird Provisions, St. Vincent, Tacolicious, Tartine Bakery, Wise Sons Deli, Zuni Café.

15 May 20:07

I love this Off the Air series. Lovely combination of the...

I love this Off the Air series. Lovely combination of the glitchy, psychedelic and surreal.

09 Apr 19:14

Morrissey Releases New Statement on Margaret Thatcher (Yesterday's Was From an Old Interview)

by Carrie Battan


Morrissey Releases New Statement on Margaret Thatcher (Yesterday's Was From an Old Interview)

A Morrissey representative confirms that the singer's strongly-worded criticisms of Margaret Thatcher, which surfaced after news of her death yesterday, came from an old interview in an issues of Loaded magazine. (The fan website Morrissey-Solo first noticed this). But the old quotes fall pretty much in line with a new statement Morrissey has released.

His new statement touches on the state of the media, British politics and, of course, the overwhelmingly shitty nature of the entire world:

The difficulty with giving a comment on Margaret Thatcher's death to the British tabloids is that, no matter how calmly and measured you speak, the comment must be reported as an "outburst" or an "explosive attack" if your view is not pro-establishment.

If you reference "the Malvinas", it will be switched to "the Falklands", and your "Thatcher" will be softened to a "Maggie." This is generally how things are structured in a non-democratic society. Thatcher's name must be protected not because of all the wrong that she had done, but because the people around her allowed her to do it, and therefore any criticism of Thatcher throws a dangerously absurd light on the entire machinery of British politics.  

Thatcher was not a strong or formidable leader. She simply did not give a shit about people, and this coarseness has been neatly transformed into bravery by the British press who are attempting to re-write history in order to protect patriotism. As a result, any opposing view is stifled or ridiculed, whereas we must all endure the obligatory praise for Thatcher from David Cameron without any suggestion from the BBC that his praise just might be an outburst of pro-Thatcher extremism  from someone whose praise might possibly protect his own current interests.

The fact that Thatcher ignited the British public into street-riots, violent demonstrations and a social disorder previously unseen in British history is completely ignored by David Cameron in 2013. In truth, of course, no British politician has ever been more despised by the British people than Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday will be heavily policed for fear that the British tax-payer will want to finally express their view of Thatcher. They are certain to be tear-gassed out of sight by the police.

United Kingdom? Syria? China? What's the difference?

10 Apr 00:26

Fennel fry stupid eggs

by Victor Mair

Meena Vathyam sent in this photograph from Shanghaiist:

This one is very easy to solve. The sentence actually means:

huíxiāng chǎo bènjī dàn 茴香炒笨鸡蛋
("fried free range eggs with fennel")

The translator misparsed the last part as bèn jīdàn 笨 鸡蛋 ("stupid egg") instead of the intended bènjī dàn 笨鸡 蛋 ("eggs from free range chickens").

Bènjī 笨鸡 ("free range chicken") is a northeast topolectal word for what in Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) is normally referred to as tǔjī 土鸡 (lit., "local / native chicken").  I've also heard this type of fowl referred to as cháijī 柴鸡 (lit., "firewood chicken").  In Shandong this type of poultry is called cǎojī 草鸡 (lit., "grass chicken").

The semantics of the epithet "stupid egg" were discussed at length in "Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping: presidential language notes".

[Thanks to Cao Lin, Cheng Fangyi, and Rebecca Fu]

08 Apr 20:55

Echo Chamber: Morrissey on the Late Margaret Thatcher

by Carrie Battan

Echo Chamber: Morrissey on the Late Margaret Thatcher

"Thatcher will only be fondly remembered by sentimentalists who did not suffer under her leadership, but the majority of British working people have forgotten her already, and the people of Argentina will be celebrating her death. As a matter of recorded fact, Thatcher was a terror without an atom of humanity."

-- Morrissey will not remember the late Margaret Thatcher fondly. (via Daily Beast)

26 Mar 15:30

Interviews: The Knife

by Ryan Dombal

Interviews: The Knife

Photo by Alexa Vachon

The Knife: "A Tooth for an Eye" on SoundCloud.

Smack dab in the middle of the new Knife album comes a track called "Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized". It consists of precisely 19 minutes and 22 seconds worth of ominous ambient drone. At one point, an antsy, step-like patter cuts through, sounding like it's running away from something awful. The clank of closing metal doors are dispersed throughout. Distant alarms beep in agony. The constant hum of queasy synthetic chords suggest nothing less than a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Play it in your headphones and it'll turn a routine subway trip into a terrifying existential journey. And, in a way, that is what the Swedish duo are trying to do with all of Shaking the Habitual, their first proper album since 2006's stunning Silent Shout. They want to question everything we use to put people into physical, psychological, and statistical slots: gender, race, class, sexuality. All of it.

"There are so many old ideas that are not realized yet: classless society, real democracy, all peoples' right to move and be in the world with the same circumstances, I could go on," says Olof Dreijer. And while the emptiness of "Old Dreams" doesn't exactly suggest a happy ending for these suspended visions, its existence shows that the Knife are unafraid when it comes to obliterating their own musical habits. Because Shaking the Habitual-- out April 9 via Rabid/Brille/Mute-- also dismantles what people expect from a Knife album: six of the double album's 13 tracks clock in at more than eight minutes, as Olof and his sister Karin Dreijer Andersson go from industrial-tinged techno, to doom-laden balladry, to unnerving tribal sing-alongs. "It’s nice to play with people’s time these days," says Karin during a recent conference call, talking about "Old Dreams"' extended running time. Both Karin, 37, and Olof, 31, are calm and careful on the phone, deliberate in their quest to, as Olof puts it, "not be misunderstood."

To that end, the album is also the pair's most explicitly political statement to date as it comments on monarchy, patriarchy, separatism, racism, environmentalism, feminism, socialism, and several other -isms. "Three years ago, when we started to talk about whether we were going to work together again, we wanted to find a way to combine our political interests with making music," says Karin. So they buried themselves in progressive gender studies and political theory books, and then tried to mirror those texts' structure-busting concepts with similarly innovative sounds. Many of the album's tracks came out of live, improvisational sessions between Karin and Olof, a new strategy for the duo, who were used to programming and constructing their songs via computer. For "Old Dreams", for example, they set up a PA and mics in a "big boiler room" and recorded hours of feedback before editing it down. The jam-based approach lends the album a distinct human-ness as the unorthodox, otherworldly instrumentation teases-out the imagination. "We are driven by curiosity," says Olof. 

Pitchfork: The "Full of Fire" video questions a policy that offers tax deductions for wealthy Swedes who employ women as maids for little pay. And in the video, you guys play the yuppie couple who are taking advantage of the tax break-- you're poking fun at yourselves while taking on these larger political issues.

Olof Dreijer: We’ve been talking about the importance of making your privileges transparent in order to be able to say something political. It's something I learned from reading about intersectionality, which is a way to analyze power by looking at its different categories-- gender, race, class, sexuality-- and how they interact. Before we started making this album, after not having worked together for a long time, we were interested in getting deeper into feminist and queer theory. So we read post-colonial feminist and anti-racist theory, and with this comes intersectionality. It's important to see your own position on the scale.

Being brought up in a white wealthy family in a Western country, we were privileged. And we have a privileged position as people being able to make music and study and get asked about what we think about the general political situation. This brings responsibility. When we see people listen to what we have to say, it makes us think about how we can use this attention in the best political way and how we can change our own working process by thinking norm-critically when making choices about who we employ, how we work, what salaries we pay.  

Pitchfork: How did you originally get interested in feminist and queer theory?

Karin Dreijer Andersson: It’s something I’ve been interested at least since I started playing music, when I was around 15. It has taken different shapes during the years, but I've always been interested in trying to understand power structures in society and why some people have a lot and others don’t have anything.

OD: In Sweden, there are a lot of mainstream drag people that have been quite important. And I looked up to my sisters, too. I was the youngest of three, and that had a certain impact. Early on, I got to know activist groups like anarcha-feminists, who were really inspiring. Meeting people who take their feminist theories into action has been really important. 

Pitchfork: Were you worried about taking such a big step into the political realm with this album, or if people would think you were preaching to them?

KDA: I haven’t thought about that at all. This album plays around with questions and issues that we have been dealing with from the beginning, in a way, but it is much more on a structural level rather than a psychological level. The most commercial way of doing it would be to stick with a formula, and, musically, this album is quite far from Deep Cuts. But that was also something we discussed, like, "Should we change our name? Maybe we shouldn’t be the Knife anymore because we are doing something very different." But I think it’s really more important to keep the name and do something completely different.

Pitchfork: How did your research on gender affect the music of the album? 

OD: We read so much, and all these ideas steered our choices when it came to sound and rhythm. We are interested in making sounds where you don’t hear their origin, sounds that are a bit in between acoustic and synthetic. We want to diffuse these borders-- you could say we are queering certain sounds. If we have a sound that we’ve heard in a setting that we don’t like so much, like a white male rock band, we try to make it different through things like alternative tunings. We learned about how you can play around with different scales and why a group of people have come to agree that one scale is more harmonious than another.

Pitchfork: The lyrics to “A Cherry on Top” reference a medieval Swedish castle, and its sounds are very decayed-- it feels like a monarchy that's falling apart.

KDA: Well, that’s good. [laughs] We were playing a zither and tuning it at the same time. And for the lyrics, I mean, Sweden is still a monarchy. We think about ourselves as a democracy but we have built our society upon this structure where the throne is inherited by blood. So when I wrote those lyrics and was singing them, I was thinking of one of the children in the castle. That is something that comes back a few times on the album-- castles and bloodlines-- because it’s insane and fascinating to build a society based on that kind of biological family, which I think is the most fragile construction in society. Within politics, we have the Christian Democrats and also the right wing who talk about how families are the best ones to decide upon how to raise children. But I think it’s very strange to leave so much responsibility to such a shaky construction.

Pitchfork: To many Americans, at least, Sweden seems like a pretty progressive place, but you're saying that's not necessarily the case.

KDA: It’s difficult. Because a lot of Swedish people think of themselves as so progressive, they also think that they don’t have to deal with anything any more. But Sweden has a huge problem with racism, for example. Ever since a few years ago, we have a racist political party [Swedish Democrats]. They talk a lot about “us” as white, Swedish people, and the “others” as everybody else, along with closing the borders and not having any more immigrants.

OD: They are pretty good at packaging it into something else, but often not so good at hiding it. They have some influential power-- in the polls at the moment, they have 8%. It’s quite severe. They affect the mainstream discourse. It has become more OK to be this public racist, but it's often put in the frame of claiming the need for freedom of speech. Many white people see no problem in using the n-word. It’s not so progressive. There are some progressions when it comes to equality between genders, but it only works for people who are white, middle class, have a good-paying job, and are happy with the gender they were born in.

Pitchfork: On “A Tooth for an Eye”, you sing, “I’m telling you stories, trust me.” So while you're pointing out how so much of our history comes from a very white, male viewpoint, you're also acknowledging that this album is coming from a specific perspective as well.

KDA: I actually borrowed that line from my favorite Jeanette Winterson book, The Passion. It's important to question my story and my way of telling it, too. It's good to ask questions instead of serving answers.

Pitchfork: The album takes aim at a lot of traditional values-- have you thought about what your idea of a perfect society or government would look like?

KDA: [laughs] That can be a long question to answer. But I believe that people would be happier sharing things and being much more of a collective rather than working from these neo-liberal ideas of just looking after yourself. I think people need each other.