Monthly Archives: March 2009

Alt. Transportation 2


I’ve already made my preference for two-wheeled transportation abundantly clear. That doesn’t, however, make me one of those people that don’t think cars can be done well. Especially if they have as good a commercial as this:

If I wasn’t already a die-hard Honda fan, this would probably convert me. Using individual lights to make a screen is nothing new, but using cars certainly is, despite the fact that it’s part CGI. I just love the filming style, and the scoring works really well, too.

Calling a hybrid car “alternative transportation” is perhaps sketchy, but for the moment I’m content to call it that. There may be a day when alternative-fuel cars (there’s that term again) are the norm, but for now, unfortunately, they aren’t. As a former hybrid driver, I can attest that they’re really no different to drive than anything else their size. They’re a bit slower and more expensive than their normally-powered bretheren, but they’re cooler. In a dorky kind of way.

That said, bikes that cost a quarter as much can beat the pants off of any hybrid’s fuel economy. Sorry, I just had to.

This first track is for Christian.

This second track is for me, since I can’t get over how much I like the instrumental intro, alone.

This final track is for you– that is, if you’re the kind of person that wishes Animal Collective were less challenging and more synth-pop.


CMUN 297 Final Project


(If you didn’t notice, I took the weekend off from posting, this week. I find that people don’t really read the site often on weekends anyway, and the days/nights are so packed that I rarely have time to post something meaningful. It may become a trend. It may not. Anyway, to the post itself.)

The final project for Guerilla Media is fairly open-ended. Essentially, we’re challenged to either create or document one of the movements/products we’ve been studying. I toyed with the idea of making a mashup series, but decided that I don’t yet have the know-how.

Instead, Nicole and I have decided to document the DIY/Craft movement in Chicago. Video-style. Here’s the proposal we turned in:

For our final project, we are going to explore the DIY and craft movements in and around Chicago. The primary product of this exploration will be a digital video, though we may blog about our progress, as well. I, Nathan Bobinchak, will most likely include bits about the final project in my daily updates for this class’ blog at the very least. We will also explore distributing our final work to the places that we will be going to do interviews, especially if the final product is over 15 minutes or so long.
So far, we have mostly crafting and utilitarian DIY sources lined up. We’re going to be talking to a Loyola professor/artist about her pottery and why she and so many others create functional objects, even though the same thing can be purchased for very little money in a store. We’re also going to be talking to sewers and knitters on the same topic. The Chicago Craft Mafia and their Do It Your Own Damn Self exposition will contribute to that exploration, as well. The Old Town School of Folk runs a circuit-bending workshop that we hope to get some information from, but we’re also interested in exploring the DIY/traditional side of folk music. Finally, we will be analyzing the means of documentation for these movements, through places like Spudnik Press, the Alternative Press Center, and zine distributors like Quimby’s.

The following are our sources, so far:

Chicago Craft Mafia
Kate Biderbost  (potter)
Old Town School of Folk
Mess Hall in Rogers Park (art collective)
Third Coast Comics knitters
Renegade Craft Fair/Artists
Spudnik Press

I’ve already filmed at the “Do It Your Own Damn Self” craft fair (the header picture is the poster for it), and I’ll post some of the footage soon.

If you can think of anything else that we’re missing, please let me know! We want to get as broad a view of the DIY/Craft community as possible.

Instead of mashups today, here’s another cool bit of audio-witchery. From the Third Coast International Audio Festival:

If all of the millions of mp3s on the web were played at the same time, it would sound like a deafening cacophony. But composer and computer scientist Peter Traub has figured out a way to sift through this sonic detritus to create something beautiful. He created a computer program, called Bits & Pieces, which culls linked sound files from the web and then automatically blends them, generating compositions with the found sound. Bits & Pieces produces an original web song every 15 minutes.

You can listen to his installation here, or here (if you have slow internet). Since it always changes, it’s worth checking back on. You’ll need iTunes or the like to listen to it, mind you.


Alt. Use


I got so distracted by the “Best of Craig’s List” that I almost forgot to post something tonight. However, I found this “alternative” use for a sink (which I have heard spoken of in the past, but never in this detail), which I thought I’d share.

I can think of violently few disadvantages to peeing in a sink. Off the top of my head:
– peeing into a sink after eating asparagus is very unpleasant;
– fishing a contact lens out of the sink while ‘multitasking’ is disturbing; and,
– reflexive tumescence may result from the splash of overly cold or hot water, which can have messy consequences.

I am aware that this technique d’avant garde might offend the eyeballs of an accidental witness, so I always exercise discretion when I pee in the sink. That said, peeing in the sink is so routine for me that I am complacent, and I never thought up a contingency plan should someone walk in on me.

Just this morning my girlie busted me peeing in the sink, rather (as I now understand), ‘her’ sink. She f***ing had a cow and slapped my d***…hard …like it was a big hairy f***ing spider on the countertop.

Thus I know from experience that getting caught peeing in the sink does not garner even the tiniest, wee little bit of appreciation of or for any of those benefits I mentioned above. Therefore, heed this exhortation: make damn site sure no one will walk in as you pee in the sink.

The story continues, with an even funnier conclusion, here (though without the editing, it’s a bit NSFW).

I read a passage in Don DeLillo’s White Noise where some men were comparing the coldest place they ever peed in a sink. I suppose that suggests it’s more commonplace than just “have you ever” peed in a sink. I’m not sure– I prefer the woods to any place else.

Speaking of “multitasking,” this first track has an absolutely incredible number of tracks running simultaneously. Plz to listen.

I can’t tell how many different songs are mixed into this second track, but it sounds fantastic.

They really play some games with the frequency range of this final track, so make sure to listen to it with good headphones. Half the fun will be gone if you just use laptop speakers.

Culture-Jamming 2


I’m assuming that most of the people that read this blog also read Boingboing. And if you don’t, you should. It’s kind of the inspiration for how this blog is written– more of a re-posting of cool/interesting things than a personal rant.

So many of you may have seen this already, but it’s really a wonderful example of culture-jamming. Culture-jamming, for any of you who may have forgotten, is primarily based on manipulation of pre-existing images, namely advertisements. Ads have their power in repetition– we see the “golden arches” and immediately assume “McDonalds.” Taking those same icons and distorting their meaning can give an entirely new meaning to an advertisement, which often serves to completely contradict what it was trying to do originally.

Thus, some enterprising photoshoppers have created this reaction to the UK’s new anti-terrorist fear-mongering advertisement campaign. They’ve really started to go wild with these things, apparently with the intent  to make every Briton suspicious of every other one. And that goes double for immigrants. Or people that look like they might be immigrants. Or people that look like they know people that might be immigrants… And so on.

Fear-mongering is a terrible thing. In fact, it’s a kind of low-grade mental terrorism. You gain your end by creating fear, which is, of course, a synonym for terror. It’s one of the reasons I’ve resisted posting the “neighborhood crime map” on the Phoenix website. If I’m ordered to do it, I probably will, since it’s my job. I don’t want to make people any more scared of where they live, however, especially since it’s not very dangerous. I may be jaded from living in a much more perilous place for years, but it’s how I feel. You can disagree– I understand.

The editors of the Boingboing post asked their commenters for more submissions, so you can check them out here.

I suppose the end of that turned personal, didn’t it? Ah well. Such is the nature of blogging.

Instead of posting individual tracks today, I’m instead going to point you towards Culture Bully‘s Top Mashups of 2008.

Click through and enjoy!



Today I just want to share the artwork of Zach Johnsen, an artist from Portland. Kanye West’s blog showed a picture by him, and I followed the link-maze to get here, his personal website (titled Zenvironments, the source of this post’s header).

I got totally lost in his work, and I think the best thing I can do is just re-post a couple of bits here.




There’s tons more on his site, so plese check it out.

He also has a blog, apparently, here on Blogger.

I can’t decide what I like most about his work. It all appeals to my most sensitive aesthetic soft-spots. I’m an unabashed fan of pen+ink with watercolor, and the addition of cutouts and paper/wood art just makes it irresistable to me. Your tastes may differ, but I’m absolutely blown away.

Anyway, to the music.

Since I found the subject of today’s post from Kanye, I decided to make him the star of this first track, from Party Ben. The ending is especially fine.

The inclusion of the title song for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air immediately qualified this second track to be posted.

I always thought the vocals in this final track was one of the weaker bits of NOW 3, but this mashup makes me appreciate it in a whole new way.

Citizen Journalism 2


Yesterday, I was rather negative towards the idea of citizen journalists. If you want more details, scroll a couple of hundred words down.

Today, though, I’m going to share the brighter side of citizen journalism. For one, I like it better if it’s called “guerilla journalism.” Not only does it sound cooler, but it’s more accurate. Like guerilla fighters going up against a huge army, guerilla journalists have to use whatever their shoestring budgets will allow them to use to try to break their stories. And maybe break the giant media corporations.

When bloggers and citizen journalists are talked about in class, the “Dan Rather case” always comes up. In short, Rather and his CBS crew produced a story based on anonymous documents that showed evidence that former President Bush (44) skipped out on his duties in the National Guard. The blogosphere discovered that the documents were forged, Rather claimed that he did not know, and resigned shortly thereafter. Whether CBS knew they were faked or not, the bloggers brought them down.

Guerilla journalists continue this kind of work all over the globe. Though Tibet has been on lockdown from China for years, Tibetan bloggers still struggle and manage to get information out to the wider world, to tell their stories. I think that’s the strongerst type of guerilla journalism– personal accounts that wouldn’t otherwise be picked up by news sources, which make no pretense to follow traditional news templates. Instead of seeming like biased journalists, these people instead can come off as story-tellers, which makes them much more credible, as well as more interesting.

I’m running out of gas, so Daniel, if you have anything to add, please do.

Speaking of gas, this first track from DJ Earworm is one of my favorites.

Let’s just make that the theme for tonight. This second track isn’t my style, but it has gas in the name.

Actually, this final track has nothing to do with the word gas, but the track above it did. It just didn’t work. This one’s probably better anyway.

“Citizen” Journalism


Though it is sometimes heralded as the future of the media, citizen journalism has raised my hackles for a while now. One of the reasons is this: the term “citizen” implies that there is some kind of vetting process to being a journalist, like getting a law degree or a pilot’s license. In a sense, there is a vetting process– your job application. Though it’s sometimes recommended (especially if you want to jump off into a big market), getting a Master’s degree in journalism isn’t required. This blog (the irony does not escape me), agrees:

“Calling it “citizen journalism” and holding it to a lower standard is nothing but a cop-out. Journalism is not a licensed profession, like law or medicine. But it is similar in that it has some fundimental ethical principles that journalists follow:

–Don’t publish things that aren’t true.
–Check your sources. Check them twice. If you’re not sure, don’t publish. Being right is better than being first and wrong.”

And so on.

All you need to do is be a capable journalist. With that and some clips, you can become a professional. Even if your major was Cat Astrology. That’s not to say that all citizen journalists aren’t adept enough to get jobs. Some are retired journalists who just don’t have the time or patience for deadlines anymore. Many, however, are simply reporting things how they see it, which is not journalism.

I had a great distaste for most blogs for years, because of this very reason. If I wanted news, I would go to a trusted source. If I wanted someone’s opinion, I’d ask them myself. The opinions of untrained “citizen journalists,” however, were unsolicited, and I believe there’s a reason they don’t get paid. If it sounds like I’m being something of a hypocrite, then good– that means you’re reading closely. While there are some opinion pieces (such as this), I try to share interesting alternative media artifacts, rather than wax on and on about how they make me feel. My level of success varies.

Anyway, I’ve been pointing out what I don’t like about citizen journalism, but I haven’t given any attention to their positive effects. For that, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. For now, the music.

Lady Gaga makes her triumphant return to this site in this first track.

The instrumental and vocals on this second track have both been played here before, but not together like this.

This final track features two British bands close to my heart, the Beatles and Oasis. As much as I’d hate to distort “Let it Be,” I feel like it should be sped up a bit. Other than that, I absolutely love it.