Saturday in Santa Fe

02010-06-19 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Beautiful Morning. Grocery shopping followed by a bike ride to Downtown Subscription for a green chili croissant. Damn, those are fine! Hotter chili than those tourist burritos at Santa Fe Baking Company! The coffee at DS isn’t great, but still good enough to make fine accompaniment to the croissant.

We are leaving on Wednesdday and the mind keeps turning to what I will need and what I might need for nearly seven week on the road… Canton promised to get my photoblog going by then – as soon as he has defeated the Indonesian zombie botnet mp3 scraper that attacked one of his servers…

Email from SM on Saturday Morning:

From You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto (p89):

I set out once again to find some cultural types who were benefiting from open culture. We have a baseline in the form of the musical middle class that is being put out of business by the net. We ought to at least find support in the new economy for them. Can 26,000 musicians each find 1,000 true fans?or can 130,000 each find between 200 and 600 fans? Furthermore, how long would be too long to wait for this to come about? Thirty years? Three hundred years?Is there anything wrong with enduring a few lost generations of musicians while we wait for the new solution to emerge?

Lanier goes on to describe an experiment in which he searches for musicians that “A new kind of professional musician ought to thunder on to the scene with the shocking speed of a new social networking website.” He says, “Quite a few musicians contacted me to claim victory in the new order, but again and again they turned out to not be the real thing.


This is astonishing to me. By now, a decade and a half into the web era, when iTunes has become the biggest music store, in a period when companies like Google are the beacons of Wall Street, shouldn’t there be a few thousand initial pioneers of a new kind of musical career who can survive in our utopia? Maybe more will appear soon, but the current situation is discouraging.

He goes on to mention in a sidebar:

The people who are perhaps most screwed by open culture are the middle classes of intellectual and cultural creation. The freelance studio session musician faces diminished prospects, for instance. (((true, word on the street is that only a handful of drummers can sustain themselves through freelance studio work – there used to be thousands!))) Another example, outside of the world of music is the stringer selling reports to newspapers from a war zone. These are both crucial contributers to culture an democracy. Each pays painful dues and devotes years to honing a craft. They used to live off trickle-down effects of the old system, and like the middle class at large, they are precious. They get nothing from the new system.

From my reply:

And then there is the role of the musician as minstrel, storyteller, political commentator. The Sixties wouldn’t have happened w/o the musicians who gave voice to their generation.

So there is certainly a political element to the story. Without musicians any revolt is doomed and much much less likely to happen – and by revolt I also mean sudden peaceful change.

Was the death of the musician middle class planned by big business and the politicians? I doubt it. Is it tolerated for o obvious reasons – that seems possible, if remotely so. Do away with those pesky minstrels! Or, have people simply not seen this, to me, very obvious angle of the story. This seems to be the most likely scenario. We have never been a very forward looking people. Seven generations etc… not something we generally do ((but should, but should!)))… storm ahead and figure it out later, or even better, let the next generations figure it out!!

To which I want to add that I am very intrigued by this new book by Jaron Lanier who is one of the few über-geeks who sees the big picture. He understands tech as well as anybody, but he also sees the cultural aspects. To quote Wikipedia:

He was a pioneer in, and popularized the term “Virtual Reality” (VR) in the early 1980s. At that time, he founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. His current appointments include Interdisciplinary Scholar-in-Residence, CET, UC Berkeley. In 2010, he was named to the TIME 100 list of most influential people.

I mean, this guy has the street cred! Or to quote someone else:

Some claim he lost it, I just think he sees Web2.0 for what it is. He’s not drinking the W2 kool-aide, and lotsa geeks don’t like it.

When Ford discovered the effiency of assembly lines it seemed exciting. Now the shinyness has been rubbed off and we know that it creates unhappy and even sick workers and often inferior products. When we discovered oil as a means to power all of our wildest dreams… well that dream has gone south as well. We are discovering the dark side of video games – the average kid plays 10,000 hours of video games by the time they leave high school… They may have trouble reading or listening, but they sure can kill whatever you kill in those games…

What I am trying to say, we will discover the personal and cultural ills of the internet, and in many ways we already have, the chrome will come off and we will be left with – well, whatever we will be left with. Impossible to predict.

How long would be too long to wait for this to come about? Thirty years? Three hundred years?Is there anything wrong with enduring a few lost generations of musicians while we wait for the new solution to emerge?

Maybe there is nothing wrong with it. I mean, when the syntsizer came out the death of string players was foretold. when the first drum machines came out, many people predicted the end of the drummer. But, in 1984 already, my brother and I had a rock/pop band that combined a great “real” drummer (((it was Carl Coletti, who was part of Luna Negra in the mid-Nineties))) with an Oberheim drum machine. Imagine a heavy, real kick in tandem with a smaller machine kick, and a real hi-hat combined with a stuttering machine hi-hat… anyway, drum machines forced drummers to be more precise, and many drummers have been inspired and influenced by what a machine can do.

We don’t know what enduring a few lost generations of musicians will look like. That picture can only be truly seen many years from now. Maybe Spain will be the West’s canary, because it has the highest amount of illegal downloads in the World. I am truly interested in how Spanish musical culture changes in the next decade. It may surprise us and end up really great and vital, but I am not holding my breath.


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