Friday, January 29, 2010

Grassroots Mapping

This website is amazing. It offers social cartography of extralegal indigenous communities in Peru.

A disaster that bears your name...

"Individual life is a serialized crisis in miniature, a disaster that bears your name."
--Brian Massumi.

(oh, the creative uses of stock footage).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Beats...

So reading On the Road for my exams, which is much better than I remember it being pushed me to seek out photos of the Beats, in particular Neal Cassady the avenging angel and inspiration for On the Road.

Additional history offered by the introduction indicates that Neal Cassady, recalling his days as a street hustler, amorously pursued Allen Ginsberg in order to coax Ginsberg to teach him to write poetry. Moments in the novel suggest a quasi-sexual union in which Ginsberg (i.e. Carlo Marx in the novel) and Cassady take benzedrine and speak with complete and utter honesty with each other, experiences of which Cassady's girlfriend at the time was extremely jealous (suggestive rather than illicit).

Anyway, hot photos of Cassady and also William Burroughs looking sophisticated and hot in his youth from the Allen Ginsberg archive.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Honour Killings

I love London Review of Books, they give you some rather in depth history of a subject often reviewing multiple books so you don't have to, or exploring significant issues with some sense of the interlocutors. Here is one article that seized my attention by Jacqueline Rose discussing "Honour Killings" committed by immigrants to Europe.

She is careful to distinguish exactly how these killings are mobilized for internal and external colonial efforts and brings the relevant issues to bear on feminist approaches to the subject.

I'll be holding all the tickets, and you'll be owning all the fines.

Monday, January 4, 2010


This is a band I happen to enjoy but can recognize the monotony of their sound over 3 albums; or as my sister once put it, "this sounds like elevator music," on a long car through Mexico. I think for Ratatat detractors you might find their sound a little more palatable or interesting when added to the work of already extant artists in the form of remixes. Here are a few I recommend (although I reveal too much with suggesting one of these):

(this video kind of sucks, but the track is pretty good)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Moral Hazards

I was listening to the Bill Moyers Journal podcast a few days ago, and came upon an interview with an organizer for the organization City Life / Vida Urbana who assist people whose homes are being foreclosed upon, by informing them of their rights and helping to make them stay in their homes, and perhaps compelling the banks who "own" the foreclosed homes to resell the mortgages at the current market price to its current occupants. One of the interviewees made an excellent point about the rationalization of foreclosure and the ways those working markets seek to "punish" lower-strata consumers.

From the transcript of the interview:

"One of the unheralded things about this crisis right now is that there's an awful lot of owners who come to us who cannot afford their home at the inflated value, at the adjustable rate mortgage price. But they have plenty of income to afford their home at the real value at a 30-year fixed. And so why not just give them the property back at that amount? If they're foreclosed on, the best the bank that can do is sell the property at the real value. By definition, that is the absolute best.

If Deutsche Bank forecloses on Joe Schmoe the best they can do is to sell that property at real value. So if Joe Schmoe can afford the property at real value, why not sell it back to him? But the only reason the banks aren't doing that is because of what they call moral hazard. They say basically that homeowners should be punished because they signed these loan documents.

These are the same guys who have run our entire economy into the ground and who have been rewarded with billions in taxpayer bailouts and have used billions of that money to give bonuses to the very executives that drove their companies and the whole economy into the ground. And they are citing moral hazard as the reason why they can't resell that property to the existing homeowners at the real value. That is disgusting and hypocritical and in the extreme."

The fact that there are mechanisms within the housing market to not only dole consequences out to buyers but also "punishment" all under the suspicious concept of a Moral Hazard seems almost like a textbook example of an ideological construct. But makes starkly apparent how the "punishment" or austerity of a financial crisis always gets displaced down to the economically subordinate, whilst those at the top are shuffled around, nameless, and without material consequences.

This story also reminds me of other recent movement within the U.S. to occupy unused and/or tenantless property and institutions. For example a movement in St. Louis that moves homeless people with major health problems into empty homes, or the recent University of California student occupations. A paper presented at last summer's Marxist Literary Group Annual Institute where the presenter described movements to occupy and retake the housing presented the possibility for a new radicalism in the United States organized around housing.

In a post-civil rights movement moment it would almost seem like civil disobedience tactics like occupation would seem to not really address the fluidity of power (thanks to networked communications technologies, i.e. you can't shut an institution down by merely occupying it, thanks to these technologies an institution can continue to function). But such tactics seem to be gaining national momentum and attention.

Trapped in the space of the 1990s

2009 was a pretty terrible year for everyone I know. But for some reason my lack of knowledge about contemporary music in general has pushed me to return back to the 1990s/early aughts (meaning '00s) for guidance.

I even recently looked up Hot Water Music, a band popular with many of my friends at that age, but not so much with me. I found this video for their track "Remedy:"

As a result I returned to an earlier conclusion that the lead singer for Hot Water Music is indeed fucking hot as hell, and their music is ok. (For some reason the visual and soundtrack don't match for the whole video.)