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entertainment

Trip to Montreal

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media

links for 2008-09-06

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media

links for 2008-08-16

  • Why does there seem to be a sudden rise in food allergies. As a kid I knew one or two people with any kind of skin contact allergies to grass and trees. But even then not this kind of life threatening aversion to peanuts. It's another sign something is wrong with the environment.
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media

Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson

I spent an hour or more immersed in this sad tale, reading on Wikipedia. Back in 1967, Dennis Wilson bumped into a couple of Manson Family girls hitchiking around Los Angeles. The rest as they say is history. One can see similarites in all cults whether it be Jim Jones, Adolph Hitler or Charles Manson. Each leader in his turn follows the path over and over again. I was astounded to read so much of the history of Manson and his followers there in California and came to a conclusion. The friendship the Beats had for an outsider like Herbert Hunckethe white, is mirrored exactly in the bored middle class kids (young women especially) who fell into the net of Charles Manson. He too was a ex-convict, like Herbert Huncke. But unlike Huncke whose real motivation was to feed his drug habit, Charlie’s goal was to suck-in every person he made contact with. Woe to those who didn’t see it coming or were too late to realize. Herbert Huncke was never described as vindictive or ‘violent’. Charles Manson was all about being respected. Do not disrespect Charlie, otherwise he’ll have to kill you. No questions asked.

On the topic of Helter Skelter:
Charles Manson was a racist and was absolutely convinced that blacks would rise up and kill all the whites. But then Charlie (who was white) decided he and all his followers (who were white) would come to rule the blacks. Only a fully disassociated person can hold those two thoughts in his head at the same time. I don’t think the Burroughs, Kerouacs and Ginsburgs of the world were THAT crazy. Charlie may have been creative too like the Beats but he used people. Stereotypical convicts like Charles Manson took disproportionate advantage of all opportunities presented to them.

The day in 1967 that Dennis Wilson bumped into the two Manson family members he gave them a ride. Driving around town later that same day he saw them again, hitchiking. In my mind, my paranoia kicks in (I don’t care if it was 1967 or not I get frightened) and I begin to wonder ‘Hey what is it these women do that they hitchike all day?’ If you’re not in college, not going to high school or not working or raising children, you obviously depend on the generosity of others. Dennis Wilson’s protective radar didn’t sense danger at this point. And it should have because the wild ride he found himself on put him smack in the middle of the Mason Family groupthink and group action.

After the second meeting with the Mason Famiy girls, Dennis invited them back to his house. He dropped them off and went to a music recording session. Wilson came back to his house around 3am. Now, Charlie Manson accosts him in his own driveway. Dennis discovers everyone inclusive from the Manson family is now on his property and living IN his house. How does something like that happen? It’s outrageous when you think about it, in the space of just a few hours, the whole Manson Family picked up and moved into Dennis Wilson’s house.

Poor Dennis Wilson. It’s almost as if they had been stalking him, waiting for him to fall into their craziness trap. What makes this worse is Charlie was delusional. But he also wanted to break into the music business, all along the way meeting rejetion and being disrespected (remember don’t disrespect Charles Manson). This had to have been Charles Manson’s dream come true, the chance encounter of his Family members with a real live Beach Boy. Charlie had an actual Beach Boy in his grip and he didn’t let go. Dennis eventually would record some of Manson’s songs and he would pay somewhere around $100,000 in medical bills for the family while they stayed at his house.

Group sex led to raging epidemics of gonorrhea in the Family and it took a while to fix it. Dennis even had to pay for a car wreck when a uninsured Family member wrecked one of Wilson’s cars. As outrageous and unbelieveable as this seems, the ‘solution’ Dennis Wilson decided upon was equally so. Eventually Dennis could only extricate himself by moving out of his own house and severing all ties with the Manson Family. Charlie immediately sensed the snub, the growing disrespect and paid a visit to Dennis Wilson’s new house not long after. Wilson’s housekeeper talked with Manson who then left a message. Charlie Manson gave the housekeeper a bullet with some cryptic non-sense writing on it. Wilson took that to mean he was now the target of Charlie’s anger, and by association anger of all the followers as well.

Years later people were really curious about this brush Dennis Wilson had with Manson. People wanted to know why Dennis didn’t participate in the trials of the Manson Family members. Truth is Wilson feared retribution from the Manson Family (and rightly so, everyone should have taken them seriously). One thing he absolutely did understand after his brush with Manson was the very real threat to both himself and his family. Wilson it is speculated worried about his son’s safety. Otherwise, Wilson didn’t have a bad time or wasn’t willing to say he had a bad time during the days he knew the Manson Family.

I take away a few lessons from this whole story. One should never enable a crazy person. Dennis Wilson gave Manson that sense of ‘possibility’ and ‘credibility’ that having an industry insider on his ‘side’ could only make possible. Until Charlie invaded Dennis Wilson’s house he had been ignored and probably made fun of by all the music industry types he contacted. Worse yet Dennis Wilson gave him this imprint of legitimacy he didn’t deserve though Charles Manson may have had music talent. The minute you withdraw that imprint of legitimacy you diminish that personality. And then you have to suffer the abandonment rage.

This cylce was often repeated with Charles Manson as he came in contact with people and kept the Family going. While seemingly on the surface of things the Manson Family was a ‘new’ phenomenon the history of the organization does seem very similar to the other cults and secret organizations that have existed through time. If Manson’s family had been called the Brown Shirts and went out killing people or say the Ku Klux Klan then we would begin to understand there was an underlying hatred that existed deep within the Manson Family. What is confused as seemingly ‘novel’ or ‘unique’ about the Family is the ‘absurdity’ and ‘randomness’ of the murders comitted by the Family. True while they seemed to be random, Manson seemed to target people he thought were ‘of money’ or ‘privileged’.

Charlie wasn’t a rich kid growing up. No doubt he suffered all kinds of rejection and calls of derision from people who saw him as lower class than themselves. That kind of social prejudice can be terrible to suffer. And the wounds it deals become deeper over time. Anyone who thought they were better than Charlie or even people Charlie himself thought were better than him, were all Pigs. He was very aware of the ‘rich’ neighborhoods and seemed to gate crash parties in places he knew he could get in. He was mysterious and creepy and would suddenly appear in places. Someone like that doesn’t want to be your friend. They want to know what you can do on their behalf. And that is the crux of the matter. At the end of the day you are an object, not a human being. This is the score being settled, the wounds being counter-inflicted. You are to be used and expended and thrown away when it’s necessary or convenient. All Sociopaths are the same in this regard as they see anything or anyone outside themselves.

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media

links for 2008-08-12 [delicious.com]

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media

links for 2008-08-09 [delicious.com]

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media

Herbert Huncke, Greg Corso and Neal Cassady

Every group wishes they were someone else. And no one wishes it more than middle and upper class white kids. Submitted for your approval: The case of William S. Burroughs

While St. Louis MO isn’t the most hot hip happening place in the U.S. if you were in a wealthy family during the go go 1920s you were pretty lucky. And luck is boring it seems when you’re smart and privileged. Burroughs grows up and is so smart he gets an early entry into Harvard. And he meets up with another rich white kid who is similarly bored and drives from Boston to NYC every chance he gets. Finally meeting up with the criminal underbelly, the seedy side of mid-town Manhattan. Burroughs fellow traveler or more likely instigator in these reckless trips was Richard Stern of Kansas City MO. Apparently by Wikipedia accounts Richard liked to hang out. So Burroughs goes along and gets a taste for drugs, and vice. But that’s not where it ends, you cannot begin to pretend to be hoodlum if you only are passing through. Eventually Burroughs ends up meeting Herbert Huncke a real street hustler who made do with whatever was going on around Times Square and 42nd street. Herbert in terms of a literary character was the ‘other’. But even that gets somewhat confused when you look into his background. Herbert was for Burroughs, Kerouac, Ginsburg the person who the aspired to be, the life lived in a truly ‘real’ way. Herbert was from Chicago, his Dad owned a manufacturing company. They were by all accounts middle class. But he was unhappy, and he ran away from home at an early age (around 12). And from then on he got to experience the U.S. in all its decrepit glory. He became a shill for a carnival hermaphrodite. The carny life then led to drugs and the drugs led to other things. By 1939 Herbert landed on Times Square, where he met Burroughs and the legend was born. The Beat lifestyle Herbert Huncke was living was not to be admired, aspired to, it was just getting by. Staying one step ahead of the law. Huncke was in jail for stealing at times making a friend a Rikers Island along the way. This was the story the rich white kids fell in love with, vicariously trying to emulate Huncke’s hard life. Try as they might to emulate (drugs, sex, road trips) they never quite achieved Huncke’s level of freedom and self-determination and beat-ness.

After Herbert Huncke a few more rough types came into the circle by degrees. Again drugs and sex all came along for the ride. Greg Corso and Neal Cassady both served time for crimes at different times. They never were violent types but still they had records and craved the action they found in the margins of society. These two guys had the charisma that held all the beat writers in awe. Everyone wanted to be those guys. And again it was the desire to become what they were not that seemed to draw them into that circle of friends. Kerouac and Ginsburg loved Corso and Cassady. Until I read wikipedia articles about this whole group and the order of events and meetings that brought them together, I never really understood how the Beat phenomenon came about. I’m sure the absolute disdain of society and creepiness of the lifestyles they chose drove them onward into embracing the criminal element. They tried very hard to be different, to not conform to what everyone thought they should want.

The dark side to all this is some people gave up their lies along the way. Two sad stories come out of this  pursuit of the other, the deaths of David Kammerer and Jean Volmer. Kammerer’s story is odd in the extreme. He followed around a fellow student to Columbia U. Apparently infatuated with this young man, he waited patiently for the guy to reciprocate his feelings. One day they had words, Kammerer was repeatedly stabbed in the argument and Kerouac a friend to the younger man (the assaillant) helped him dump the body in the river and helped hide the murder weapon. What price the Beat Life? In another strange episode Burroughs was fleeing the law by living in Mexico City. He had been pursued on drug charges in Texas and Louisiana. He came very close to serving time at the Louisiana Angola State prison. But he skipped the country and  his wife and kids followed down to Mexico City once he let them know his whereabouts. There Burroughs accidentally killed his wife but avoided prosecution by hiring the best lawyer in all of Mexico. The death was labeled an accident and the burial was very quick (to avoid a coroners inquest). Burroughs skipped out again and avoided prosecution.

In the end the Beats aren’t so much portrayed as rebels in the Wikipedia articles I read. They seem more like bored, privileged kids. Who after being given every advantage in life chose carefully the hardships they wanted to endure so they could get a taste of the hard life. And in so doing experience things that were ‘real’. The story has been told so many times after the Beats first met in 1944 in Manhattan, in the upper West Side apartment of Jean Volmer. From the hippies to the punks everyone wants to escape their privilege and congregate on the margins of society. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I feel a big joke has been played on us all in the press accounts and over promotion of these individuals. I for one consider it more a cautionary tale than an adventure.

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media

Nakagin Capsule Tower




11-Nakagin Kurokawa

Originally uploaded by slgFede

Look at this! It’s the elevation of the floors at the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo Japan. I love this photo because it shows the original building site when there weren’t many buildings around it yet. Now it’s completely lost in a neighborhood of skyscrapers.

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entertainment technology

GPU accelerated H.264 encoding

H.264 is the new DivX, the new Xvid as announced yesterday on Anandtech.com:

Right now transcoding Blu-ray movies isn’t exactly at the top of everyone’s list, but using H.264/x264 you can significantly reduce file sizes on any video. x264 is the new DivX and its usefulness extends far beyond just ripping HD movies. Needless to say, its use isn’t going to increase unless encoding using the codec gets faster.

Anand Lal Shimpi writes in regards to the ungodly long encode times it takes to convert Blu-ray Sony movies into any other more ‘portable’ format. x264 will be the lingua franca sine qua non if the GPU manufacturers and third parties like Elemental Technologies step up. Transcoding while being a boring thing, is unfortunately a very necessary thing and speeding that up by any means necessary will be a truly differentiating feature of any hardware/software tie-up. nVidia should be dumping some development funds or payment in kind money into Elemental Technologies in order to raise the margin value of it’s GPU products. nVidia’s marketing department could turn some great amount of hay with badges/stickers saying “Speeds up your video rips!” or some equally lowest common denominator appeal to the mid and low end market for nVidia GPUs. Power users will already know and take advantage of it, but the mid and low end market don’t care and wonder why it’s valuable to them.

I’m impressed by the numbers quoted in the Anandtech article. Under the ‘Insane Quality’ settings for the x264 encoder, it only took 71 seconds to encode a full rez Blu-ray (1920×1080 30fps) stream of 2 minutes in length. It’s faster than real time transcoding for the largest file sizes and bitrates using the extravagantly highest quality settings. That shows great promise for folks at the mid and low end of the market who are trying to dump Spiderman 3 onto their kid’s PSP or video iPod.

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media

Incompetence reigns supreme under Doug Feith

Michael Ledeen, an appointee under Doug Feith to run a program to re-evaluate intelligence on Iraq is now been shown to be collaborating with suspected Iranian secret agents. He had no business meeting with them or believing anything they said, but Rumsfeld and Cheney made sure the CIA and State Department were out of the loop.

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