Will live argument change the way we understand justice in the United States, or will greater accessibility to the high court’s inner workings increase our partisan divide?
It’s a big day. For the first time in history, anyone can listen in on Supreme Court oral argument as it happens. Yes, the public could previously go into the hallowed chamber, but only so many were able to obtain such privilege. Starting today, however, anyone with an internet connection can access the audio live. …
Today’s big story is Biden’s response to the Tara Reade allegations. To briefly recap, Reade is making allegations that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 by forcibly inserting his fingers into her vagina without consent. This is horrifying conduct that is uncomfortable to even talk about, but the focus of the conversation should start with the allegation, and not everyone’s reaction to the allegations. …
I’ve had strong feelings about Robbie and his conduct towards other members of The Band. I put the rant on Twitter and now you can read it here, all in one place!
Here’s the thing. @r0bbier0berts0n’s reputation rehab tour has to stop. It is insulting and self-aggrandizing and totally fucking dismissive of the genius and contributions of the other members of #TheBand /1
And I am sorry, but I don’t think @jmseabrook is helping. How do you say in one paragraph that @r0bbier0berts0n will make sure people “remember” Levon Helm as something more than Virgil Caine… /2
And then a couple paragraphs later you give credence to @r0bbier0berts0n assertion that Levon was just a paranoid ass with vicious drug dependency. That’s the version of Levon Helm Robertson will make sure gets remembered. /3
At least @jmseabrook points out that @r0bbier0berts0n admits to abusing drugs while he was trying to get everyone to stop abusing drugs. One can see why that might not be too effective at bringing about change. /4
The truth is that @r0bbier0berts0n, from the beginning of #TheBand did not see his bandmates as equals, and he concealed that fact. They never had a chance to get on equal footing financially b/c @r0bbier0berts0n exploited their dependency, their talent, and their innocence. /5
This is appalling, but forgivable. @r0bbier0berts0n and everyone else in The Band got out alive, and that is something that weighed on Robbie when he put down #TheBand. He didn’t want anyone (including himself) dying on his watch. /6
Also, think of how young @r0bbier0berts0n was when this all got so big so fast. There was no way he wanted to let the opportunity to do something world-changing slip by. I applaud that instinct, but the cost was too high. /7
They should have been equals. They had equal talent and contribution, no matter what @r0bbier0berts0n says. They should have shared the money equally. /8
But instead, he milked them for all they were worth. He took their creativity and their emotion and passed it off as his own. And when they later asked him to pay, he refused. /9
In the song #CaledoniaMission, the narrator (Robbie) can’t get the heathen (Levon) out of Arkansas. He foretells his own departure from the prison where he tried to help the heretic. /10
Why is @r0bbier0berts0n everywhere now, working harder than he has ever worked in his life? Because this is the last chance he has to write the legacy. No one is left alive to challenge him. /11
It is sad that @jmseabrook simply credits @r0bbier0berts0n’s stmnt that all other members of The Band agree with him that Levon was wrong. The proof is on millions of albums sold over the last 5 decades. “Words and music by R. Robertson.” /12
It made me sad to see (from afar) Rick and Levon die without getting to enjoy the fruits of a legacy they created. They changed music and they changed the world. Richard and Garth too. /13
But to @r0bbier0berts0n they were tools. Lower forms of life who tried to cheat him out of what he deserved so that they could buy more drugs. /14
And maybe the saddest part is that @r0bbier0berts0n was a genius too. He did so much and wrote such incredible songs. And he completely squandered that legacy. /15
And as much as I have anger about his apparent greed, I find @r0bbier0berts0n’s amazing lack of self-awareness to be very appropriate for these times. /16
Having worked in crypto for just 18 months, I have this weird combo of feeling like I don’t understand anything that’s going on around me, especially the tech, and also feeling like everything is taking so long to develop throughout the industry. One focus of my work at the moment is preparing for the release of token creation software that is built right into the wallet app that holds your coins. There is a lot of other stuff I’m working on, but I’m thinking about that a lot lately, because it’s not just a unique thing I’m working on, but also a thing that I want to succeed and I’m looking for signs that might tell you whether that’s going to happen.
Tokens and alt-coins
In all fairness, the most obvious indicator is the alt-coin market. Conflation of tokens and alt-coins is a dangerous oversimplification, but they share an important characteristic. There is Bitcoin, and then there is everything else. Both alt-coins and tokens fall into the ‘everything else’ category.
If this makes you ask, “why tokens”? I get you. No one is unseating BTC for value any time soon, and if you look at crypto only as a replacement for fiat, then it’s easy to understand the drawbacks of too many currency options. I think this is a bit of a reductionist argument. The reason is utility.
Tokens as a key to community
Some may think the explanation that follows is a word salad; like I am twisting things just enough to get the outcome I wanted in the first place: tokens are awesome! If this is you, I’m not sure how to dissuade you. Suffice to say, it’s just a prediction and it could be wrong.
Bitcoin, extraordinarily, appears to be the evolution of money. At this point it has enough acceptance and has been around long enough that I don’t think it’s going away. So the point is that BTC is one of (and the best) attempt to re-engineer MONEY using this fancy new technology.
Those who analogize each alt-coin to the fiat of a tiny nation miss the point. The difference is this — for geopolitical subdivisions of terrestrial real estate (nation-states), the community was there first. The users are already in the physical location and it is that PROXIMITY which creates the need for a common and convenient unit of exchange.
Crypto is different because it has never been beholden to confined portions of real estate. In other words the value proposition predates the creation of a community. The bad news is that community building may be an inorganic process. Excessive marketing can (and sometimes does) devolve into cult-like megalomania.
On the other hand, blockchain allows for securing of value as a fundamental building block. The application of this technology to established industries like banking and gambling is easy to understand. What about other industries? Where else (and how else) is value transferred, and, more importantly, what are the building blocks of the relationships that lead to those value transfers?
One place we know this to be the case is entertainment, and in particular, in gaming. Value gets transferred in mobile games all the time via in-game economies. These mimic the movement of currency, but it’s completely one-sided with the game developer controlling all aspects (and custody) of the asset. With crypto, as I’ve discussed before, the in-game economy can be unleashed so that it is not hemmed in by the boundary of the game.
Another place we are seeing value exchange where we did not see it in the past is with attention. This may have actually come from the gaming economy where viewing advertisements is incentivized by the opportunity to obtain more in-game assets. Similarly, websites are offering crypto rewards for visiting and looking at their content. That data is being tracked anyway, in most cases at least, and the crypto (even if valueless) acts as a kind of receipt for the collection of that data.
The ability of industry to use huge amounts of personal data is still relatively new. That data is something we did not realize was so valuable until after we let Google and Facebook steal it from us. Now that the cat is out of the bag, we are seeing more and more crypto projects trying to “pay” for that data transfer. What we can do with that “payment” is another story. There are attempts to make loyalty program coupons. Other cryptos think their coin will become mega valuable so payment today supposedly equals value tomorrow.
I’m not sure how I feel about these use cases. I don’t think they will make anyone richer. But, the transparency that comes with this practice is noteworthy. The evil of Facebook and Google was not just their taking our data. The greater sin was not telling us. The free and fair flow (exchange) of information, in multiple directions, is the original dream of the internet.
Being a part
And what happens when that flow of information is going transparently in both directions? That’s when communities form. And that’s why tokens will work. Whatever the use case may be, it is the community that gives the token value. If people cluster around a project, then the token that permits PARTICIPATION in that community will become valuable.
The evidence of this concept can be seen in the United States’ most important crypto exchange. Coinbase obviously recognizes the potential of alt-coins, despite the current market prices. The trend over the past twelve months has been to add more support alts, not less. I don’t know if this is about trading or dumping or something else. It certainly means that the BTC maximalists have not yet been proven right. Just look at how many coins Binance supports.
Is this where the ionomy platform’s Atomic Token Protocol is going? I have no idea. I do know that ionomy tokens will be trade-able on the ionomy exchange. I also know that the ability to configure tokens in the new wallet will be very user friendly.
So I renew the observation about my impatience, especially since it is part of my livelihood and fealty to the ION blockchain. I know I am also not the only to be impatient about the release of tokens in the ION community. But, with that being said, I can’t help but feel that crypto is in a sweet spot right now. A lot of the garbage projects got washed out of existence during ‘crypto winter’ and the space is clearly maturing, especially with players like Coinbase and Gemini trying to show that a regulated platform can expand crypto’s reach. At the same time, the space is still vibrant and filled with young people who are willing to take a chance to realize their vision.
The ‘only’ thing they really need to be successful is a community.
First a tangent. I’m so disappointed the Sony noise canceling ear buds (WF-1000XM3) aren’t out yet. Listening to music for the purpose of a review while on a train is just brutal. These headphones are getting great write-ups as an upscale Air Pod replacement. I have been thrilled with the AirPod (1st Gen) for connectivity and sound, in that order. Hooking up to phone (with adorable animation) had never been so easy. And I also like the sound. Now, I have a chance to get improved sound (because the Sony is sonically better and because it has the active noise canceling). By all accounts, I will sacrifice some ease of connection because only Air Pods and Power Beats Pro have the H1 chip, but I think I can manage. Having now introduced other devices to my Air Pods, I almost never get to see animation, and it is not uncommon that I actually have to connect under Bluetooth in settings. Not so easy after all. So, just a few more weeks till the Sony comes out.
Now on to the new Tool record, Fear Inoculum. I have an interesting history with this band, despite not being a huge fan over the years. I’ll get to that history in a second. Everyone knows that this is the first release in over a decade. I have not yet ascertained the reason for the delay, but the music really stands (or falls) on its own. I’m not too worried about an explanation on the earliest listening.
Sometimes it’s good to just take the work on its own. I realize artistic expression is often designed to have a certain outcome. Sometimes bands get back together after a really long hiatus just for the money. can you imagine? Music, perhaps more than any other mode of expression, gives the audience a chance to approach the work on its own terms, without the worry of someone constantly trying to make the hand fit into the glove.
Also, it should be noted that this album features the ‘classic’ lineup (thank you, half-assed internet research). I have an unexpected affection for the original bass player Paul D’Amour. He helped create one of my favorite albums of he 90’s after he checked out of Tool. It was Free Mars and the band was Lusk. Nothing else came of that project – no tour, no follow-up record, nada. D’Amour has landed on his feet twenty plus years later as the bass player for Ministry. I have no idea what kind of creative control he has in that endeavor, but when he DID have maximum creative input, the result was spellbinding. I could go on at length about Lusk’s one and only record, but instead I will draw focus back to more relevant matters. The new Tool.
There is a thickness to the sound with thunderous and rhythmic drums and heavily distorted guitars. Odd time signatures and polyrhythms create an atmosphere of constant movement, almost bordering on chaos, but it’s cool. That power remains, almost drones, and forms the contrasting backdrop over which singer Maynard James Keenan spills his poisoned honey. Even from the very beginning:
In other words, when you get to be this old, you can’t be harmed any more. Not by the fear of life’s cruelty and uncertainty. No explanation about why it’s overdue. Like I said above, it doesn’t really matter. My opinion might be that the Immunity CAN’T come without that passage of time, and that what seems overdue is actually quite punctual. But the real sentiment is that the freedom of Immunity should have come sooner. That dissatisfaction and agitation is the young man’s game. The game that involves a stalking vision of inadequacy. This band still runs from that. This is not an album by aging superstars who are now somehow comfortable in their own skin. Instead, the search into thse dark sounds and the pain they suggest is an ongoing process. Indeed, the more time you take off, the more you have to prove upon return.
It’s not just Immunity, although that’s a good place to start and even gives the album it’s name. But the lyrical theme at the albums dramatic conclusion shifts from the ‘I don’t give a fuck you can’t hurt me’ to the other key ingredient that can only come with time: familiarity.
You are darkness
Trying to lull us in, before the havoc begins
Into a dubious state of serenity
Acting all surprised when you’re caught in the lie
We know better
It’s not unlike you
The worry over being ‘overdue’ is now replaced by a cunning that can only come with age and experience.
Let’s turn to the music. As much as Keenan provides a substantive incantation that speaks to a primal and violent side of masculinity, the amount of time when the vocal instrument is silent is by far the majority.
When it comes to music, the intensity of my love necessarily creates a lot of baggage. I have listened and studied and learned and joined and rejected and tried and failed to love every kind of music. Heavy Metal could charitably be described as a blind spot. I look to the familiar ground of Prog. Dream Theater is not a band I adore, but I have listened to several of their albums and have seen at least one love performance. I know their association with both Prog and heavy metal communities. Does that help create an easy path to Tool? Many have told, and I have read as much, that Tool is a form of Prog band.
There are similarities with Dream Theater, but I’m more struck by the difference. I would summarize the key distinction as patience. Tool seems to be a far more patient band. Perhaps that is evidenced by the thirteen years it took to get this record released. When Dream Theater engages in a ten plus minute excursion, it’s often a dance of swords. There are acrobatic feats of daring that keep the listener on their toes. Tool may employ a fancy time signature, but the emphasis is more on a chunka chunka built around Danny Carey’s controlled chaos. The pattern may be hard to discern at first, but it is there and it is relentless.
Guitarist Adam Jones is a founding member, yet his playing is so understated. There is not a single solo in this mass of music that seeks to draw too much attention to itself. On the contrary, the purpose of guitar on this record appears to be building drama and clearing a path for percussion.
And that’s the on-ramp. I was really surprised to learn that Tool wasn’t started by Carey because that polyrhythmic thunder seems to be the foundation of Tool’s sound. And not just on this record. This percussion design is not a motif or calling card, it’s more like a religion, or physics. A unifying principle from which all things in Tool-world can be better understood. Having embraced that for the first time while listening to this latest record has been a powerful revelation.
Hot take alert. I apologize in advance, but to put this in context I would suggest that the funk infusion which makes Rage Against the Machine so listenable and lovable is a mere parlor trick by comparison. A gadget play that subsequent history has proven to be unsustainable. The building plod of Tool, on the other hand, is more akin to an infinite army of Lovecraftian nasties, marching over the hill with an unimaginably huge Cthulhu leading the charge.
Both are heavy music, but in one case the reference point (hip-hop, rap, funk) takes over and becomes the thing itself, larger than anything in Rage’s music. They put themselves behind the eight ball. With Tool, the sparse simplicity of tone and poly rhythm suggests a much greater power, of which we can only see a glimpse.
And this brings me to the opening of Lollapalooza 1993. In the sweltering August heat of Philadelphia, a friend and I staked out a space just behind the mosh pit. We were waiting to see Rage Against the Machine, then at the height of their powers. And we saw them alright. All of them. Because they came out, each completely naked (thank you, Red Hot Chili Peppers, except of a large letter painted on the chest. They turned all amplifier setting up to maximum and laid down their instruments with pickups facing the speakers. This created the most horrifying and painful feedback loop anyone should ever have to experience. The noise continued unceasingly as the band members came to the front of the stage and spelled out P-M-R-C. Take that, Tipper Gore!
After what seemed like an eternity, an unknown quartet came out to take Rage’s place. I don’t remember much of Tool’s set, but I’m proud to say I got to see one of their earliest performances. Now that I have embraced that big beat, I’m going to have an even better time reuniting with my old friend in another seat just behind the mosh pit.
SPOILER ALERT! Major plot points of seasons 2 and 3 of Legion are discussed below.
When this final season of FX Network’s Legion began, the previewers told us this was a story about time travel. That’s certainly a big part of it, but now that the last episode has aired, the more important thematic take away for me was about ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ and all that is conjured by those two simple and complicated concepts.
First, telling a story well, whatever the story, involves communication aimed at all the senses. That’s not so easy with a TV show where only our ears and eyes are open for business (smell-O-vision, anyone?). But I think show-runner Noah Hawley had the right idea about the very unique comic-book adaption Legion, which just wrapped up on the FX network a couple nights ago. This show, unlike, say, ‘Better Call Saul’ draws so much attention to its production that it risks distracting from the story. Maybe that’s by design, as the story of Legion‘s final season involves a lot of time travel, plus a land between time, plus the Astral Plane, plus three new characters who are REALLY important. Lots of stuff going on.
Do the audio and visual elements help explain the story? Or does the story provide a playground for the outrageous production? Or does it even matter?
Well, yes and no. If the viewer has absolutely no idea about the plot and where their sympathies should lie, then there will be zero investment. It will be like looking at a pretty rock.
The good news is that Legion season three does a decent job of telling the story of how David Haller, an omega-level mutant with unimaginable power, realized, to some extent, that he had become a force for evil, and sought to go back in time to change his behavior and save the world. There really isn’t too much more you need to know.
That basic framework is the sandbox in which this show successfully plays with ideas of love and family. The time-bending plot and the over-the-top production cause a different kind of confrontation with those issues, fusing the universal with the inexplicable.
Hush now baby don’t you cry Mama’s gonna make all of your Nightmares come true Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you
It’s a brutal note, but fortunately not the one the series wrapped up with. Still, the mommy pain is important as it comes, in part, from David’s being adopted. He has felt abandoned and unloved his whole life. Mix that with probable mental illness he inherited from Gabrielle, and his near god-like abilities, and the fact that he was basically inhabited by a malevolent demon for most of his life, David is deeply damaged goods.
Much of the third season is about the cult that David forms, planting the seed of love (and desire) in all of his attractive adherents. They call him “Daddy.” It’s creepy as fuck, especially considering this is an expanded version of the power he used to rape Sydney (ex-girlfriend) in the second season. That particular horror was so effective because the viewer had no idea how bad David’s action were while they were being depicted. Wait a minute, is this… ?Is he…? Did he just…?
Syd is much more than just the ex-girlfriend, of course. She is, in effect, the true protagonist through most of Season Three. Her backstory deeply concerns being raised by her wealthy single mother, and she has her own formidable mutant power to manage. As David tries, and fails, to get from Syd the love he was denied from his biological mother, Syd refuses to conform herself to the reality David needs. It is the one place where he is powerless.
My Three Dads
And of course we have dad, or should I say dads. There is Charles Xavier, himself a super mutant and David’s biological father. There is Amhal Farouk, the demon mutant secretly living inside of David for over thirty years, and then there is young Amhal, before he lost a telepath battle with Charles and subsequently infected the son for revenge. Current day Amhal explicitly takes credit for raising David and says he loves him. These four clash beautifully at the end, each with their unique point of view on the matter at hand (saving/controlling the world), but it is a clash of wits and words, using, as the show always has, cheap practical effects to effectively suggest other times and dimensions.
We see Charles and David working together as a mutant super-force, maybe for good. We see Charles and current-day Amhal trying to bury the hatchet in the astral plane. We see David trying to murder young Amhal before he has a chance to infect. It all ends in a dramatic and satisfying truce where maybe, just maybe, all the adversaries understand each other a little better.
Love Doesn’t Always Win
And then we are left with Syd and David and baby David. An appropriately fucked-up version of the nuclear family based on what Legion has provided so far. As they await their trip to oblivion that a new timeline will bring, they look down at the baby and he is their baby. In the characters’ final exchange, there is dulled pain, acceptance, and sadness, but not despair. David is his narcissistic self: “I have to say, I didn’t think you’d help me [change the timeline, save the world, whatever]. Syd responds, looking down at baby David: “I didn’t. I helped him.” She then tells adult David to “Be a good boy,” and we see the baby, smiling just as he did in the first episode of the series, Syd and David disappear (as parents do), cue the ‘Happy Jack’ and we’re out.
It’s a bit frustrating because, as the same Pink Floyd song asks:
Ooooh aah, is it just a waste of time?
So, there’s ample reason to think maybe this will all repeat. I’m not too worried about that, though. We had three seasons of emotional, fun and risk-taking TV. So, whatever conspiracy theories may arise from the actual ending of Legion, I’m not too broken up if this is really it.
As a parent, I greatly appreciated the reconciliation between time traveler Switch (who sort of made this whole mess possible) and her father. This was an emotional catharsis that I needed to not be so overwhelmed by the uncertainty and sadness of the main story lines. Switch was a new character appearing only the last season and still, with limited screen time, was able to make a tremendous impact. The same can be said for David’s parents Charles and Gabrielle. They are new, yet pivotal. Somehow, without the prior seasons for development, and competing for screen time in the current season, they are still able to make sincere contact with the viewers’ emotions. It’s a great testament to the writers and performers.
The Impenetrable Beauty of Love
Two characters who both embody and transcend the parent/child relationship are Carey and Carey. They get an elegiac ending that is supremely fitting for their one-of-a-kind connection. She calls him “old man” and he says that doesn’t work any more because she has now caught up to, and surpassed, him in age. Then she says: “Then how about ‘brother’?” and Carey responds: “That works, my lover. That works.”
There are aspects of love that make no sense and can never be put into words. That’s why sumptuous productions and big musical montages are so important. You can’t just do it with words. But we need words, even when they will never be adequate. Ultimately we have to go with what works.
And maybe that’s a better place to stop with Legion. It’s colorful and crazy and pretentious and over, but that works.
How many friggin’ twitter accounts and subdomains and jobs does a person have to have?
Well, I guess the number is “more than I expected” in all cases. So this post is intended more as a way to explain to myself just what the hell I think I’m doing. The @mpomy twitter account has a lot of music on the mind, but also sports, entertainment, politics, social justice. Then there’s the @mdp_esq twitter account. That’s now got crypto, upcoming lawyer AI project, upcoming data analytics project and also general law stuff, some of which may shade into social justice. These aren’t rules, by the way, it’s just what I’m observing. These two twitter accounts have existed in this fashion for a good little while already.
Now there is an ionomy/crypto podcast, which is hosted on an mpomy subdomain and is described (by me!) as an “mpomy production.” But hang on! Isn’t the subject of that podcast closer to the @mdp_esq persona? Yes, but I don’t care. I’ve already got all this organized in my brain and I don’t want to get rid of the _esq twitter account. Even though it has almost no followers. Maybe I like it that way.
As I talk this out, I realize I need to clarify on both twitter accounts that I, we, are the same person. Gemini stuff. #smdh
There will be more podcasts, which, I guess, will mean more subdomains. Or at least one other. I’m getting outstanding feedback, which is the benefit of knowing and working with a lot of really cool people. Over the past week, I’ve had a single mammoth content plan start to take shape, and there are even early notes, preliminary discussions and some scripting. This could be a work of bizarre fiction, where i need no one elses help, all the way up to a documentary film, which is what I really want to do. The music-related subject will be discussed later, but I feel strongly that whatever happens with the project, there will be a podcast discussion to accompany (or embody) the work. Is that opaque enough?
The idea of merging a pre-existing wiriting idea with a podcast production, especially when music will play such an essential role in the content, makes sense to me. I am not abandoning a project, but co-opting it’s momentum for a better project.
Still on podcasts, I would like to have another project just to discuss music and bring on the amazing individuals who have contributed to my musical knowledge. discuss songs, albums, concerts, etc.
All of these musings are leading me to a potentially significanrt expenditure on pro-level tools/subscription software. It would be a real shame if my eyes were actually a lot bigger than my head in this regard, but the more I contemplated the project (even before consdiering Adobe CC), the more I kept coming back to it as a viable solution. Overkill, perhpas, but that’s how you win. When I asked about podcasting, CC was the suggested solution. I looked up animation, and I immediately got to CC. I dream about making a fancy documentary – and again I see that CC can do the job. So, today i’m going to start the free trial and then decide what I want to do.
And this long running, often dormant, blog will continue in some capcity, particularly for the exercise of celebrating life with music. I feel like this is an exciting moment in the journey, and I can’t wait to see what happens. I’ll probably write about it here.