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a crack in your ear through which sound surreptitiously slips, or an illicit substance which gives your ears immense pleasure while enslaving them to a crippling addiction

Thursday, October 27, 2005

post coast

I think conferences are an interesting social laboratory. You end up saying the same things over and over and over again to each new person you meet, but with radically different responses depending on the person. Just goes to show that it's not you, it's them. Really.

(Photo Credit: Jared Benedict)

I was at the Third Coast Festival last week, and it was a great big pool of new people, all open to meeting one another, all with different backgrounds and reasons for being there. I spent a good 2-3 days with them, passing them in the lobby, making eye contact with the person I just spoke with 10 minutes ago... oh there you are again. Didn't I just pass by you near the elevator? Maybe we should just give each other a gentle nod, no need to say anything. In fact, maybe we should look away quickly and pretend we didn't see each other. I mean, how many passing acknowledgements can you give a person before it becomes ridiculous? Nothing personal, you understand. In fact, you probably feel the same way, right? I hope I didn't just offend you. Oh maybe I did... the next time I see you, I'll have to be extra nice, just to show I'm an ok guy and all... oh there you are again. Do you have a twin here? Because I'd swear I just saw you standing next to the coffee cart...

I often feel as though I'd make better social decisions if I could just go back and change one little thing I did, like in that movie Groundhog Day. I think one of the reasons I'm so drawn to recordings is that it allows me to share ideas with people outside of real time -- there's an editorial process involved. And I make much different decisions if I have the opportunity to reflect and make changes later. This blog post, for instance, has been edited many times. I don't talk like this, really. In fact, I'll probably edit this again after it's been posted. Whereas, if I were forced to just type with no delete key, I think I might come accross much differently than I do now. So which is closer to who I really am? Is the spontaneous, stream of conciousness me more true because it's a reflection of how my mind works in real time, warts and all? Or is the edited, thought-out me truer, because I've had the opportunity to reflect on what I've said and make sure that it's consistent with what I really want to say?

The thing is, even with all that editorial control, I still can't control how that plays to another person. For example, I was in what they called a "Close Listening" session, moderated by the Kitchen Sisters. It was 8-10 producers each playing a recent piece for the group, a really wide variety of work from a really wide variety of producers. I played a piece called Eye Contact that I produced for Weekend America last summer.

click on this picture to hear
Eye Contact

One person in the session said he thought the music should be taken out. Another person said she loved the music and thought it was great as is. In fact, everyone in the session seemed to have a different sense of what worked and what didn't. If anything, it gave me more confidence in my own instincts, because everyone's just going to react differently anyway.

This brings to mind a perennial debate: how much should the audience matter? It came up recently in Rick Moody's discussion forum on transom. I think it was an interesting thread, you can read the whole discussion by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

hip hop anthology

hiphopLast weekend, Studio 360 re-broadcast a piece I produced two years ago about hip hop battles. When the radio piece was first produced, Eminem's movie 8 Mile was still in theaters, so it had a slightly more topical feel to it. But certain purveyors of the hip hop artform seem intent on being hate-uhs (why oh why can't they just be play-uhs? oh yeah, it sells), so it wasn't all that hard to find a new peg.

Over the years, I've produced three pieces about hip hop for Studio 360, so I decided to provide an anthology for those of you who may be interested in my hip hop oeuvre. Here they are, in chronological order:

1. Gangsta Rap
2. Hip Hop Battles
3. Hip Hop in the 90's

In other news, I'll be at Third Coast this weekend, I'm looking forward to seeing old faces and meeting some new ones. And after that, it's off to meet my new niece! Should be a fun vacation.

Monday, October 17, 2005

meet olivia!

Olivia Grace Simonson
born October 13, 2005 at 9:39 pm
6 lbs, 1 oz

My sister gave birth last Thursday night, this photo is from the hospital's website.

You can look at lots of babies there. It's really fun -- each baby has four pictures that you view one at a time, and if you click through them really fast, it looks like the baby is doing a little baby dance. Very entertaining.

Kevin (my brother-in-law) gives this report in his blog:

"Greetings from le Hospitale. Yesterday morning, A's water broke at 7:30 am. Her first contraction was around 8:30. O arrived via C section around 9:30-9:45 last night and is the approximate size of one of those 'dare you to eat it' burritos. 6 pounds, 1 ounce.

It was less stressful for me than a typical day at work.

Everbody is fine."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

the good old days

In 1977, NPR gave experimental sound artist Max Neuhaus free rein over the national airwaves for two hours. He was never asked to return.

This is his story.

This piece was produced by Roman Mars for the show he produces, re:Sound on WBEZ. You can hear all of their shows online, they have hours and hours of stuff, all of it worth a listen.


For more on Max Neihaus, here's a bio and list of works.
And here's a recording of his 1977 broadcast:
::- part 1 -:- part 2 -::

Saturday, October 08, 2005

sound of the universe

Ever seen the film "Powers of Ten"? It was made by Charles and Ray Eames in 1977, and it starts with a close-up of a couple and moves farther and farther away every ten seconds until the perspective reaches the edge of the universe, 40 powers of ten from where it began. Monday is Power of Ten Day, a holiday that's clearly a construct of the greeting card industry. But I decided to celebrate anyway, by producing this piece for Weekend America.

It may not be very precise, but it will blow your mind.

The piece is built around a conversation I recorded with Ellen Horne (friend and co-producer of Radio Lab). If it gets too confusing, here's a handy diagram that will clear everything up, courtesy of my editor Amanda Aronczyk:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

tasty treat

as you can see, I'm having a bit of trouble with the title photo at the top of this page, the thing that's supposed to show you the lovely "ear crack" logo... I think this will take a bit of HTML knowledge to fix, I hope to learn that little bit of code someday.

In the meatime, here's a snack treat to keep you distracted...
compliments of Jonathan Menjivar, who says:

"they're available at my local market just down the street here in chicago. me and hillary have bought several packs for friends but have yet to try them ourselves. word is they are pretty terrible."