"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Cultural Trends

I'm generally sensing a positive shift in the zeitgeist. There are three movies out this year about the Beat Generation, one of those clusters of hindsight or nostalgia that can catch impressionable minds. That's a good thing in my book — phalocentric as they may have been, the original hipsters (angel-headed) still have a thing or six to teach young minds about freedom. Not sure what the corresponding equivalent would be lending itself to the liberation of young women, but hopefully it too is on the rise.

Also, there's the Obama inauguration, and somewhat more importantly the fact that his administration successfully won a couple negotiations, which I admit was a surprise. It appears that the slow roll of generational demographics that underpinned his electoral victory may coalesce into some kind of new national consensus. It's still a long shot, and I think anyone putting much hope or trust in this administration from the Left is likely to be disappointed, but at the same time it's hard not to notice momentum.

The "Big Mo" is there culturally, no doubt about it. I think we're going to look back at 2004 as a kind of last hurrah for the hugely successful cultural politics that a generation of conservative activists executed in reaction to civil rights, feminism, Lyndon Johnson and hippies. Call it the Buckley brigade. They were able to push a not-very-popular GW Bush over the top with patriotic rhetoric and an intelligent strategy of linking "traditional marriage" constitutional amendments to drive base turnout.

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In Which I Badmouth the Scene for a Minute

There's a lot to like, even love, about being an entrepreneur. There's agency, opportunity, creativity, the singular challenge and potential rewards of doing something different and new. I wouldn't want any other kind of career.

That said, there are things I really don't love about the Startup Scene, and I've had a stressful week. At the risk of bemoaning what are undoubtedly "first world problems" (and then some), I want to write a bit about what I find irksome about the Valley. Writing helps me process, and maybe my scribbles will help some fellow traveller somewhere down the line.

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The Unified Theory of Josh

Starting to settle into the new groove. I took the temperature of the neighborhood last night, a little solo wandering. I haven't lived in the Mission for nigh on five years, and it's definitely changed. Gentrification was well underway when I arrived in '03, and has continued apace in my absence.

For instance, there are coteries of "pretty people" who I don't really think are all that pretty, but do make me feel underdressed. This reminds me of North Brooklyn in its heyday, and in the way of all NYC-to-SF comparisons feels a bit like being sent back to the minor leagues, but on the other hand this is where most of the good art comes from so you have to take the lumps with the cream.

Somewhat less pretentiously you can run into this action at a sidewalk cafe:

<a href="http://conbrio.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-hip">From The Hip by Con Brio</a>

This band is really good live, reaffirms faith in humanity via Korg and wail, etc.

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DIY Campaigning

I've been tracking these efforts for a while. It's going to shake things up. A lot.

Fun times ahead.

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Mashup Maturity

I twittered about this, and posted a video in my last post, but I have to say I'm just blown away by the latest release from The Kleptones. These guys are the shit. They evolved from making ultra-clever — and still totally listenable — album-based mashups (Yoshimi Battles the Hip Hop Robots and A Night at the Hip-Hopera, which will make your head asplode with Queen+KRS) and have moved fully into the realm of Art.

I've listened to Uptime/Downtime several times though, and it takes the more free-form explorations of the 24-hours double-album to the next level. Plus they're using the dirty beats now too. It's just great to see post-postmodernism at work.

People of PDX and SF can unlock the magic LIVE this weekend...

Live fast, die old.

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More Vampire Squid

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Sons of Anarchy

Um yeah. Ultra-cheezy title. Ultra-questionable premise.

Ultra-awesome show.

See, you get good actors and a decent budget, and give the creative types (writers, directors, etc) enough room to be dangerous, all of a sudden something worthwhile might happen. It won't likely be a mega hit, but it will likely be good. And that should recoup a decent budget. And then you make money and produce quality culture. Win!

(Also, wikipedia informs us that the original working title was Forever Sam Crow, further confirming that marketing douchebags are generally worthless; had they stuck with that I'd have had to come up with a different counter-positive to lead off my post.)

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Well There's Only So Many Ways You Can Give Your Loving To Me...

...But I'd give up my soul for just one of them now...

It's been a packed week down in the Bay. Wheeling and dealing, painting and sanding, whooping and shouting; the whole nine yards.

Went and saw The Avett Brothers on Friday night. They're pretty great showmen as expected, and I got me a t-shirt -- a much more effective way of supporting working musicians than paying for their music, btw -- but I felt the concert could have been more. Slims is not my favorite place to see a show, and the crowd vibe was a little off. That and I had great expectations, which is generally unfair and I try not to do for the sake of giving artists a chance, but c'est la vie. That's what you get for being real good.

They were touring on 2007's Emotionalism, which is a great album, the first one I heard -- coming via Pickathon and Chelsea late last summer -- and probably the most natural cultural fit for SF. But having been exposed to their entire catalog, I celebrate the mo' twangy stuff a bit more fully than that which leans indie. The crowd was on the other side of that leaning, didn't seem to know a lot of the other/older stuff, and just wasn't as lively as I'd hoped.

I suppose I was looking for something really wild and free, like when we saw The Devil Makes Three at the Starry Plough last month. That was hot and packed and foot-stomping scream-along-singing until you got light in the head and then another song would start up that was even better and more worth jumping around to; lather-rinse-repeat. By contrast, the crowd's energy at this gig made it tough to even break a sweat. I also felt the encore was a bit too scripted, and there wasn't sufficient demand in the room to draw out a spontaneous second round.

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The West Wing

Kellymundo succeeded in getting me to watch a few consecutive episodes of The West Wing on DVD the other day, and as someone who's been steeped in politics over the past five years, it leaves an interesting impression. If 24 is the Dark Side of the contemporary political debate, The West Wing represents something of the sunny side.

The stuff I've seen is from Season two, which is something of a historical time-capsule, having been made prior to both the onset of the Bush Administration, and of course 9/11. It's totally enjoyable, but also strikes me as anachronistically sanguine, a grown-up Schoolhouse Rock but with the benefit of excellent production values. The cast is strong, and the writing is excellent from a literary standpoint. On substance, though, I think the text reflects all too well the hazy miasma that surrounds our allegedly elite political discourse.

Two quick examples from the three or four episodes I've seen:

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