Thursday, September 09, 2004

P.King has graciously deigned to give the love and the rough mix odyssey it's world premiere tonight on 106.7 PBS FM. Thanks mate!
If you're in Melbourne, he'll be playing it midway through his Radio de Janiero show, around 11pm tonight. If you're somewhere else, it streams live from the site (check a world clock).
We're doing the late shift at Republika this Saturday so come and say hello if you'd like a real copy.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Despite, or maybe because of, its decreasing speed as a target, I've been reluctant to have a go at Vice magazine. There are a lot of reasons for not getting stuck into them, but few of those reasons have anything much to do with whether they deserve it or not, which they of course do - setting themselves up for nitpicking killjoys with aplomb you can only admire. For me it's around being bothered I guess, but their sorry state has been niggling at me because there was a time, and there must be a lot of folks who feel like this, when you really did feel Vice was that rare media outlet which conveyed how you felt about anything, even (especially) when you hadn't worked out how you felt yet.
I have no issues with their expansion or the fact they're becoming more mainstream and well known. I feel disappointed there's less to love.
Time was, Vice was full of words that managed to be acerbic and cutting and funny and angry at the right things while remaining hugely compassionate and hopeful, always avoiding the descent into fist-pounding empty rhetoric by, more often than not, adding something positive to whatever debate they were entering into. Their articles did everything you wanted a magazine article to do, and made you care about things and feel angry and appalled and stirred into action and sometimes even overwhelmingly glad because there were these other people who cared about people and had the balls to be responsible for how their actions impacted on others, even if they were fucked up on pcp.
For the past year, when not running terrible photos of their (celebrity and otherwise) friends, telling people what to listen to and wear or alienating any readership outside an apparently rigorously-defined demographic, their rage has been empty. Their newer readership is expecting sass, so when Vice editorialises about something that really matters the impact is lost. Current issues remind me nothing so much as the kid watching Homer perform at Hullabalooza, and going 'pffft. That's cool.' When asked by his friend if he's being sarcastic, the kid looks suddenly forlorn and says "I don't even know anymore."
Vice Australia launched last year, and I was stoked. I was surprised that I didn't know who was behind the move, but they held a few great parties and in the main just reprinted the US version of the mag but with local ads, so I wasn't complaining. Today I found out why I hadn't heard of the people behind Vice Australia, when pointed in the direction of this.

"... (Michael Slonim) has undertaken research projects, guided brand strategy and developed communications for a range of advertising agencies and clients. Michael worked with Nintendo on the strategic development for the launch of Gamecube, and ... conducted a major research study into the role of brochure merchandising in business banker communications at National Australia Bank.

Michael is also the publisher of VICE magazine. He discovered VICE in New York City on a trend-hunting expedition, and instead of reporting on it decided to launch it in Australia. Michael negotiated a joint venture arrangement for the Australasian region and successfully introduced the Australian version of the magazine in May 2003, boasting an advertiser list including Diesel, GeneralPants, Zoo York, Asahi and Rockstar Games."

I don't know Michael Slonim and I'm not interested in casting aspersions about him. He is a strategic marketing consultant and clearly good at his job. He recognised Vice for its marketing potential and put together a pitched based on that potential, which the owners of the magazine went for because he proved there was a ready advertising base for their product.
I don't use the above to excuse the downturn in Vice's editorial. Becoming wildly popular and making lots of money is no excuse for being less essential, credible, good. The Onion has shown you can sell out, go well and truly mainstream and make out like bandits while still retaining something of the integrity, humour and charm that drew people to your publication in the first place. Vice is on the fence, and has been for some time. It seems the only reason they haven't toppled the wrong way quite yet is that to most of their audience (here, at any rate), they're still relatively new, and the coolness associated with a new find is yet to wear off.

It's one more magazine to fall by the wayside, but Vice matters to me because for awhile, I believed them.

*Late addition: Excellent post
here with vastly better reasons to be irked by Vice
(Courtesy hiphopmusic)

what to do when you care about stuff.
Voicing opinions on how the world should work is a tricky thing. Being aware of the fine line between 'interesting', 'sanctimonious' and 'preachy' can be both good and bad, although it helps to keep the voicing of one's prejudices to a minimum.
It's not that I don't have courage in my convictions, it's just that I don't do that much in waking life to make good on them. I care a lot about stuff, but I don't do much about it, so am aware I've no grounds to whinge. With this in mind, the fact that seeing people driving to the park near my house to jog around it before driving home again ruins my day and makes me despair for humanity is one I in the main keep it to myself; like most things that happen, I don't presume it's that interesting to anyone else.
Sometimes though, an example of people's, say, ignorant hypocrisy hits you so hard it almost feels like a punch in the guts. Like the sticker I saw while riding to work this morning telling me 'Remember to Breathe.' It was of course on the back of a car, and of the same design as those 'Magic Happens' stickers, except so much worse in its smug implied assumption by whoever placed it on their car that they're more aware of life's bigger picture, and are deigning to impart a smidge of their wisdom on the rest of us poor, workaday saps. I hate 'Magic Happens', it makes the red mist descend, but 'Remember to Breathe' ... on a car. What on earth could that person possibly have been thinking? What?
Global warming isn't coming; it's here. The biggest environmental disaster we face (not to mention the biggest contributor to global warming) is the car. Nuclear power, deforestation, ozone depletion devastate in their own ways but don't come anywhere near the scale of damage caused by the way we use our cars, and the way our car use is supported. The Great Barrier Reef, to use a close to home example of the largest living thing on earth, isn't going to be dead in our lifetime because of over-fishing or tourism or evil big business or any other easily solved problems, it'll die because the increase of the average water temperature by one degree is enough to sufficiently stress the coral to death. That rise in water temperature is a direct result of all of us driving everywhere, all the time.
Why I am writing about this on a blog I'd decided would be about music? I'm not sure. It's alienating, talking like this, it makes people uncomfortable and worse, it makes me a bore. So many things happen every day that render you inert, struck dumb by the relentlessness of our narrow-mindedness and how defiantly comfortable most people are with their ignorance it honest to God distresses the hell out of me, but I have no idea what to do about it, to even begin to make my peace with it. Because I guess that's what you have to do.
Most people are not interested in being challenged into thinking about how their lifestyle impacts on people around them, much less the environment. When reporting for a current affairs program on national radio last year I had to fight surprisingly hard to get environment stories run; convincing the producer that actually, people are interested was a task I in the end wasn't up to. Most people are aware on some level that they aren't living sustainably and could be more aware of these things, which I guess is why they get so defensive and prickly if you bring it up, no matter how diplomatically. Everyone drives, why the hell are you giving me a hard time about it? I do my bit and put out the goddamn recycling so get off my case seems to be the general reaction so I try to hold my toungue outside of sympathetic company, because there's no point being a preachy git no-one wants to have a beer with. If you care a whole lot about stuff, you've made it your problem, and it's fascinating how badly some people react having you try to involve them in caring too. When they feel you're being presumptuous and holier-than-thou they've got a point, but the thing is, we're not hectoring because we like the sound of our own voices, or we want to score better-person points. We've got the world to a really scary, desperate point, but to most people, global warming simply is not happening, because it isn't affecting them in any real sense. To use an oft-trotted-out metaphor, we are that frog sitting in the slowly boiling water, and while there is a minority aware we're about to boil ourselves to death, most people chose not to listen because they don't feel it's happening.
What's horrible to me is all the fiddling around the edges. When people try to take misguided stands, like the colleague who hasn't caught public transport for decades but refuses to buy a real Christmas tree because cutting down trees is bad, and has often voiced concerns about my health because riding my bike through all that smog can't be good for me (she keeps the car windows up) - I often can't help myself. But where do you start when you've got someone like that who genuinely means well? How do you turn that well-meaning into something more tangible without being alienating, or, as the current federal government currently paints the increasingly-likely-to-have-a-real-impact-at-this-election Greens party, 'kooky'? And should you even try? It's not like you're Gandhi, so get back in your box, and act as surprised as everyone else when the apocalypse comes in our lifetime.


Friday, September 03, 2004

Being able to track your online order is clearly a great addition to one of the Best Things Ever; like using sonar to watch Santa make his way toward your chimney. Occasionally though, it begs more questions than it answers.
F'rinstance: What's so problematic about using an NY airport for freight that necessitates taking my records through six (6) different US states before shipping them to Australia?
25 Aug 2004 18:56
23 Aug 2004 21:38

somehow it always turns out green ...
Jill Scott, we salute you.
No really, how do you do it? I want to know.
How can you be so goddamn incredible alla time?


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