R.I.P. Albert Hofmann, LSD Inventor

Albert Hoffman Autograph, originally uploaded by strikerr.

What's left to say about this man that isn't already being said by the likes of BoingBoing and Wired? His research was influential on a lot of people who were influential on me. Especially during my college years. Nuff said.

Hoffman was 102 when he died, just ten days after the 45th anniversary of Bicycle Day. While those numbers will surely inspire fits of numerology amongst fans of psychedelics, I'm inspired to pick up a copy of LSD: My Problem Child in his honor.

Dr. Hofmann Stencil, a graffiti tribute spotted in Lisbon last year by yours truly.


Orchestral Meltdown

I never find out about these things with enough time to coordinate a trip to see them. But this sounds cool. Massive Attack and the 45-piece Heritage Orchestra are recreating Vangelis' original soundtrack for a rare one-off screening of Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

Incidentally, a slimmed down 35-piece Heritage Orchestra is playing a show of Amon Tobin covers on May 3. Tobin protege Bonobo DJs as part of the 180-minute event, too. Judging from the preview tracks on the orchestra's site, it's going to kick major orchestral ass.

If any of you attend either of these events, kindly return here to share the details.


Suspiring Over Spires & Spindles

Sigh. What is it with pointy structures around here? As one goes up, another is set to be taken down. Neither effort seems to do much for the local culture.

First, the sad news: Sun-Times and Tribune report that the Berwyn Spindle is up for auction. As a former resident of Berwyn, I have to say that this is a sad moment for the small city. Not sure what Berwyn would have going for it otherwise, frankly, save for a few Son of Svengoolie mentions, the Houby Day Parade (I have yet to see a single mushroom in Berwyn), and bungalows. If you want to help save this historic piece of Berwyn, visit SaveTheSpindle.com. (The Spindle will be there for at least a few more months, but get on it now.)

Secondly, the not-sure-if-it's-good-or-bad news: The Chicago Spire isn't for Chicago, it's just being built here. When some co-workers wondered out loud last week about who would buy all the condos in the Chicago Spire, I quipped "Japanese investors." I was closer than I thought. Turns out there's strong Malaysian interest in the 'Spire properties.

The Spire condos aren't remotely affordable for the vast majority of Chicagoans. (Compare the price of the Berwyn Spindle auction to the price of a single unit in The Chicago Spire, and think about the relatively small expense to nurture local culture versus the exorbitant expense put into making Chicago more like NYC or London. Consider our ridiculous new sales tax, the highest sales tax in the entire country. We're selling out in the hope of attracting the Olympic Games, tickets to which none of us will be able to afford by 2016. What fun!)

The lesson we can all learn here is, don't get rid of pointy structures you already have - they define your character more than another Walgreen's store ever could. But if you're building a new pointy structure, don't make it too expensive for the city in which you're building.

Spindle photo by Andrew Westel. Rendering of spire by Shelbourne Development Group.


June the first feels so far away.

Lately I've been rounding out my collection of my favorite J. G. Thirlwell side-projects, namely Manorexia and Steroid Maximus (thanks in part to foetus.org's digital shoppe). Listening to Steroid Maximus often turns my thoughts toward a certain cartoon I'm sure some of you know... Particularly when I hear Fighteous on Quilombo -- a track that was re-worked into the Venture Brothers opening theme. Knowing that Thirlwell is hard at work on next season's soundtrack only intensifies my craving for new Venture Brothers episodes.

Throwing gas on the fire, I read the LiveJournal lamentations of show creator Jackson Publick. Apparently, Cartoon Network aired very rough cuts of a new episode on April Fool's Day. To his dismay. Publick also reports that Kid Robot has created action figures of Dr. Girlfriend and The Monarch, to be sold in blind boxes with a variety of other Adult Swim characters. There was one other nugget of news...
Venture Brothers Season 3 June 1
With or without Stephen Colbert. In high-definition. Action figures drop April 17.
Go. Team. Venture.

We Can All Believe In Monique Davis' Resignation

Representative Monique D. Davis (IL) is not fit to hold public office. Just listen. In fact, I think you should email her and tell her what a bigot she is, demand her resignation, and maybe even tell her that she's probably already guaranteed a spot in whatever hell she believes in. To spit so much venom, to be such a short fuse... she's a liability to Illinois.

For added kicks, check the comments on this little site (coincidentally) run by a guy who used to sport Skinny Puppy T-shirts in the same World Religions and Journalism courses I took at NIU.

It took a while to bounce back, but it's dead. That email address for our favorite hater-faith-having politician is undeliverable. No good. You'll have to contact this winner of world's worst person the old-fashioned way.


Hello Muxtape, Goodbye Muxtape?

For the past couple weeks, all kinds of folks have been hyping the Muxtape. I say live it up now, because it isn't likely to last. Why? The basic-yet-totally-vague requirement that your MP3 uploads must meet for Muxtape: "Users may not upload multiple songs from the same album or artist, or songs they do not have permission to let Muxtape use."

So, the first thing I think is, how do I know if I have permission to let Muxtape use a song? Apparently there's no way to know for sure. Muxtape doesn't explain itself, which could spell trouble with a capital R-I-A-A.

What was Muxtape thinking, exactly? The blog implies that it's a way for bands to post their original songs, but if you're a band you need to do more than just post your songs (you use sites like MySpace to collect fans' info, too). The majority of Muxtapes posted are begging for legal action. In fact, a cursory look at just a few random posts reveals rampant unauthorized duplication. (The only "safe" mix I can find is this genius offering from Catbirdseat.)

I'm going to get this out of the way now: Nice sorta knowin' ya, Muxtape. Find a good lawyer and make room for all the C & D's you're about to get.*

* Unless you're some elaborate means of entrapment, rigged by the RIAA, in which case I salute your sinister scheme and simultaneously shiver at the settlements you'll wring from the stupid saps who keep uploading illegally.


Will Power*

* While supplies last.

According to this New York Times article, we each have a limited supply of will power.
The brain’s store of willpower is depleted when people control their thoughts, feelings or impulses, or when they modify their behavior in pursuit of goals. Psychologist Roy Baumeister and others have found that people who successfully accomplish one task requiring self-control are less persistent on a second, seemingly unrelated task.
So, bolstering your will power on one initiative can deplete your will power on another, however unrelated. Perhaps this, combined with certain other factors, explains why I have such a hard time quitting smoking or drinking less while continuing to work in advertising. Or why I have less patience with the demands of my workplace when it's necessary to turn attention to my mental and physical health. Over time, this reallocation of will power is supposed to help give us more will power... at least, that's what the article suggests:
The good news, however, is that practice increases willpower capacity, so that in the long run, buying less now may improve our ability to achieve future goals — like losing those 10 pounds we gained when we weren’t out shopping.
I think this is fascinating and at the same time a little concerning. Have you noticed yourself slipping in one area while concentrating on another, in terms of will power? How do you compensate for any depletion of will power you might notice in yourself?

[NYT link via Kottke]