Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brooklyn in Autumn with an Orange Hue: The Doggy Halloween Party

Autumn is here, you can tell by the brilliant moon passing through the crisp, clear evening air. Leaves are beginning to turn and Brooklyn is taking on an orange hue, from pumpkins to t-shirts, Autumn, in its ominous tones of harvest and decay, begins to take root. We celebrated that first of the true, Fall holidays, by attending the Dogs' Den Halloween Party for (who else) Pups held in Park Slope on Sunday.

Dogs Den, on 5th Avenue near 12th Street, hosted a party for dog owners and their better halves. We showed up with Guinevere the Corgi, dressed in a bun, like a hot dog with mustard. But there were many extremely twee and charming pups of all breeds and sizes. Just like kids at a party, they danced, they tangled with each other a little bit, and a couple of the 4-legged guests even jumped up on a table to raid the goody bowl (filled with doggy treats). But there was food and fun for the petowners, too, and a doggy costume contest with prizes. Costumes included a Physician, a French Maid, a Chippendale, a few spiders, and a toy poodle dressed up like a skunk (Pepe LePew?)

Even though we now live in Flatbush, we, like many Brooklynites, still reside at least part of the time in the Virtual Slope, and the Dogs Den has been a really great resource for occasional boarding, doggy daycare, and grooming. The Den's owners and staff are wonderful, they genuinely like dogs, and never fail to take good care of Gwen whenever we have dropped her off when we are in the neighborhood for a shopping visit or boarding her when we leave town for an overnight. Sometimes, when Gwen becomes too whacko, we just need to drop her off for a couple of hours so that she can bond and socialize with other four-leggers and perhaps remember that she is a pup, not a person.

Together with our 12 year olds and our older daughter home for the weekend from college, it was great to make the scene at the Dogs Den Halloween Party. You may want to take a look at the Den's website; they promise a videolink of the party in the near future.

--Brooklyn Beat

TV EYE: Human Tetris & The Future of Media

Check out this peculiar link from a Japanese TV Game Show (I am not sure if it qualifies as Reality TV, unless you have a really twisted sense of reality):

What more can you say about that? But it certainly casts a bright light on one question -- is this really what TV was meant for ?

I was watching a recent episode of the very funny 30Rock and Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey) invites one of her idols, a TV writer from the 70s (played by Carrie Fisher), to guest write on her show. They bump heads when looking at TV now and then, how all of the groundbreaking TV of the 60s and 70s set the stage for what is possible and funny today. Today, Flava Flav and his spin-off, New Yawk, America's Top Model, actually all the shows about people trying to make it into the celebrity stratosphere, and the other series that continue to come and go, I guess we are amusing ourselves to death. But is TV really necessary as an informational medium or a learning tool anymore? Is it just destined for different versions of "Human Tetris" And if so, then it seems like the internet will become what appears to be the home for "un-intermediated" communications, which is a totally brand new, complex medium in our society. It seems as though TV is the great entertainer, the follower of the middle path, the bottom line, but if you want real information, social awareness, the cutting edge, you go to the internet (or of course, you go to Real Life).

But as virtual reality and computer theorist, musician and writer, Jaron Lanier, posits, how useful, from the perspective of the individual is the internet ? Has it become, as he refers to it, a collective experience, like a "Digitial Maoism" where the individual is lost, and more and more the voice of the anonymous collective, whether it is questionable, unmediated, Wikipedia posts, or Youtube posts ( such as, I guess, the recent John Edwards posting by a college student about the location of the Edwards headquarters in a more upscale area of North Carolina, that seemed to hijack the Presidential Candidate's message for several news cycles), or the enormous Google operation which has remarkable influence in the web world, both commercially, and as the Gatekeeper for many internet functions which can define what is real, meaningful, or important. We turn on the internet and it is there, like (hopefully) water from the faucet, but there are commercial and political issues underlying web life, about which we are only beginning to understand and become aware. Now that we have the internet, where will network TV, even cable, evolve to in the next decade? The next 20 years? Where will the internet be? what will be the role of "information experts" and professional journalists and analysts versus the role of the "amateur" journalist or commentator on weblogs ? Those are my questions. Lanier's questions aim to prompt discussion of the structure and foundation of the new web institutions and where it is going as a social organization. The title of the article, "Digitial Maoism" is a bit strong and off-putting but he discusses the growth and dangers as he sees it of the development of online collective "all-wise" social organizations on the web that diverge from representative democracy and the meritocracy...

The Jaron Lanier post on "Digital Maoism" located on the The Edge is here:

For additional reflection on the underpinnings of the various New Edens, go to the source:

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo