Diversions

This week’s musical news recap is called “Diverted”.  Every week I tell myself that I’m going to make it an easier undertaking and not throw so much behind the production.  Alas, I am a slave to my own ambition and once again I stayed up until 5 am to put the finishing touches on it and upload it to You Tube.  The upload process takes about 45 minutes.  All I want to do is go to bed, but I have to baby sit the darn thing in the event that something goes wrong.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you….”Diverted”

The Art of Misdirection

Every day, everyone of us is exposed to countless pieces of information. As I browse my Farcebook feed, i see an exponential number of reactions to different news stories.  The reactions run the gamut from shock to indifference or indignant resignation.  ANd where several weeks ago, I didn’t see any real action , I am happy to say that a large volume of my friends have taken up the struggle and are doing what they can to reverse the tide, shore up the embattlements and dig in.

One guy I know complains quite a lot.  He made a comment this week that kind of irked me. He posted a meme with some sort of “breaking now” kind of headline and the wrote, “you saw this coming, why didnt you read the writing on the wall?”  His response, like that of many Americans, just seems out of place to me.

I wrote back to him as lovingly as I could:

Dear ________,

I appreciate you, love your sense of humour and know that if we ever hung out we would probably have a ball.  You are an important person to me and I would never want to extend any disrespect.  That said,  I will ever understand why you or any american for that matter, would decry the state of your nation.

It is no secret that  30 years of Neo liberalism made all Americans this way. Republican or democrat, all of you, and I mean ALL of you, even the ones who say they believe in equality and justice and all that shit, have believed, for decades, that individualism and the pursuit of the almighty dollar are central to your being.  Deceit, covert activity and a strange kind of moral duality are central to most American business models. To make it all palatable, Americans have always created euphemisms to allow words like deceit to be changed into  “strategic planning” or, one of my favourites “collateral damage” to justify the murder of innocent people during war.

Your nation sets the global example by employing the corporate model for business.  We all know that corporations have been defined as psychopathic entities.  If these organizations are at the heart of your nation’s economic plan, why would you expect anything other than what you have right now.  A psychopath who runs a corporation is now running your country.  It makes perfect sense.  It’s poetic and all of the hate and lies he brings to the table are in keeping with decades of hate and lies that have been promulgated by your past leaders.  The only difference is that, before, everythign was covert.  Now it is out in the open.

Add to this fact that pretty much every home owner in North America is complicit in the theft of aboriginal lands and the use of property speculation for human subjugation and you have the recipe for Trump Stew.  You guys made it, now you gotta eat it or toss it out.  Tossing it out means completely destroying the current America and replacing it with a new one.  I don’t think that’s going to happen too soon.  If anything, America will move back to Deep State Politics from the current Shallow State politics that have pulled back the curtain on reality, but nothing will really change.  Too many people make money selling guns and war, which are also central to American ideology.

I don’t know how the rest of us are supposed to take Americans seriously when they complain about Trump and what he is “doing” to your nation.  He is the manifestation of everything Americans have come to represent and aspired to being.  Your should be proud, this is the society that you have been building your entire lives.

Your nation is built on stolen land, your global dominance has come on the heels of your destruction of democratically elected governments in countess other countries that don’t follow your economic ethos and your most powerful and influential people have all acquired their fortunes through subjugation and manipulation.

We tell our children that there is no honour in theft  and deception and yet Americans hold up those who do it and place them in your highest offices. You respect the billionaires.  You all want to be one.  There is a saying that all Americans, even the poor ones, consider themselves temporarily inconvenienced millionaires which is why poor red neck republicans would rather vote to shoot themselves in the foot rather than vote for any kind of real social reform.  That’s too communist.

Then Americans try to ignore the reasons why things got so fucked up and try to blame it on something else.  There is nothing else.  This America is the real America.  The only thing that is missing, in my opinion, is the veil of decency that allowed previous leaders and captains of industry to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes more easily.  Deep State politics.

I think it was Tyler Durdin in Fight Club that said, “You are nothing until you have lost everything.”

Having lived under the thumb of Americans all my life, lost jobs to them, gotten paid less than them, suffered ridicule by them and never being able to work there, I know this one thing to be true.

America is now Ancient Rome and Trump is your Romulus Augustulus.

Crypto Fascists

One of his friends answered me, in a singular german expression “Lech Mich”, to which I asked him if he was clean.  He proceeded to throw ad hominem ttacks at me and tell me that my arguments were facile, juvenile and a raft other insults.  I engged him for as ong as I could bear and then he just slinked away.  When someone slinks away like that, I know that they must be a Republican, an agent provocateur or some sort of Crypto Fascist and I move on.

It is so important no to allow yourself to be diverted from what is actually going on.  While everybody is immersed in their news feeds, laws are being passed.  I think it might be better to do less complaining and more campaigning, if, indeed, the complainers are interested in manifesting some sort of real change.  But is change what Americans really want.  And what sort of change?  Do they want to change from being capitalists to socialists?  Somehow, I just dont think so and even if they did, they would hve to undo 65 yers of programming.  We are talkong aobut some serious time management if it is going to happen in a single generation.

The Republican Agenda

Correct me if I ‘m wrong…

America’s two party system is about the normalization of slavery to increase profit. Republicans seem to push for anti abortion and “right to life” positions because it provides a platform for the creation of more worker and consumer “units”.

After a person is born they are required, immediately, to struggle as they grow up so as to instill the work ethic.

They remove education so that the unit cannot define hardship nor understand subjugation.

They pollute their environment so as to create more revenue for the medical industry.

Then, as the pressure of over work and under pay takes its toll, the units are required to pay for the services that keep them alive thereby always paying out and never being a drain on the corporate profiteering agenda.

If a unit can’t break free and can’t afford to invest in their health, then they are left to self exterminate and the new batch of young, unbroken, units comes to take their place to repeat the cycle.

That’s what I think, based on what I’ve witnessed. Am I wrong?

The Age of Connectivity

The Long Clap

This weeks song is called “The Long Clap”.  I watched Dumpolina’s address to Congress and was completely floored by his attempt to steer the focus away from all of his other problems by diverting attention to  the widow of a serviceman who got killed because of his lack of vision, leadership and control.  The speech itself made gratuitous statements about condemning hate and violence which makes no sense because any leader would know and understand that behaviour such as his would result in such outcomes.  Anyhow.  I hope you like the song.  Brian was sick this week, so you will have to put up with my very basic bass playing. With out further delay…

A Place Called ‘Other’

Last night we wanted to shoot a little video on my wife’s phone, but the phone, which didn’t have any photos or video on it, told us that there was no more memory.  Upon further investigation it was discovered that the phone’s memory was full of 5.1 GB of something called “Other”.  Apparently unknown third parties are allowed to harvest and store information about you and your connected activity on YOUR phone for future use so that they can monitor your every thought, keystroke and movement so that they can sell you shit you don’t need.  This data gets stored in the ubiquitous category of “Other” and eats up your memory over time if you don’t know about it, or how to delete it.  I didn’t and it destroyed our one fun evening this week.  So much for technology improving our lives!

There is no easy way to remove this data and you can’t open the data and look at it either.  To clear the memory, it is a four fold process and can take a substantial amount of time.  First you have to back up the phone.  It is not clear if doing this also backs up the data, or some reduced form of it that will relaunch later, contained in the “Other” category.  Once you have backed up the phone you then need to “Reset” the phone which means erasing it completely and reinstalling the iOS.  Once you have done this you need to “Restore” the phone from the backup.

Here’s the great part.  When restoring the phone from the backup you will be prompted to enter a password, but there was no password.  One had never been created.  The phone had a PIN code, but that didn’t work.  The phone was asking for a password that wasn’t created and didn’t exist.  When backing up an iPhone, the software in iTunes  does not ask you to create a password.  Apparently you are expected, without any guidance, to select the  “encrypted” option when creating the backup so that you CAN create one.  Once again, there is no prompt or info that points this out.  It is a trial and error kind of thing, like most digital crap out there.  The age of “connectivity” is well upon us and while one would like to think that this connectivity relates, in a positive way, to humans connecting to each other, it does not.  It actually means connectivity to a network and networks that seem to be there to isolate us as much as possible and capitalize on our time by creating frustrating connectivity paradigms that we will inevitably spend money on more apps and services trying to correct.

I go on about his a lot.  But enough about my point of view.  This next video pretty much says it all and I will be pasting it every where I go as I prepare to distance myself, and my child, from  the dysfunctional reality of the digital paradigm and the people who allow it’s superficiality to wash over their lives.

Going Off Grid

Sure I will continue to use the internet, but increasingly on my terms.  I no longer use FB to do recreational things.  I read articles but only from sites that I know aren’t loading massive numbers of cookies into my system. I will begin to develop a more stealth like approach which will probably involve pro VPN and really just turning the stuff off or leaving it at home when I travel.  Customs can’t check my phone if I don’t have one. Facebook and Twitter aren’t returning the increase in audience and the “sales” of my products that I was hoping for with out shovelling large quantities of cash at them, so I might turn them off too.  Maybe it’s time to change direction, return to analogue, go rural.

I got hundreds of tapes and DVD’s I collected over the years I could watch in my isolation.   I’ll pay to go see a new movie, just to stay up to date and get out of the sanctuary I may find for myself and my family one day. But the truth is that I have become bored of sitting around watching, even if it is only for an hour or two a day.  I’d rather be doing.  I’ve always considered myself a trendsetter. Maybe being a luddite with a hammer is the next trend.

Simple truth.  You can’t be tracked by GPS if you are not carrying one.  I never wear a watch but I always know what time it is.  Does anybody actually need Twitter, except for Twitler?

Speaking of  Twitter, here is a video about Twitter’s new “rules”.  Trigger warning for those who don’t like bad language, personally, I think he’s hilarious.

The Destruction of Real Time Connectivity

The last four years we have been living in Vancouver have been an expansive exercise in connectivity, both real time and virtual. Of all the cities I have lived in around the world, this city proves to be the most challenging when trying to make social connections in the local community.  At least for an active guy my age.

Never before have I encountered such resistance to collective gatherings in public spaces that aren’t controlled by some authority or other. In addition, increasing the volume of friends in the social network real time is like fumbling with the tumbler of a combination lock.

**As a matter of note I am dictating to my phone and spellcheck decided to re-spell the word ‘tumbler’ with the product name “Tumblr” which is not a word but a website. That is not what I was referring to. The word is ‘tumbler’, defined as the mechanism that drives a combination lock.  I find it disconcerting that a corporate social communications tool seems to believe it’s okay to replace proper words with corporate logos and identifiers.  Algorithm specialists will argue that people today use the brand-name Tumblr more often than the word tumbler and so it comes up as a matter of convenience for people ho are using those things AND LOVE IT. I get that.  But I do not want my articles to be peppered with misspellings and misuse of language through spellcheck because of some corporate agenda.  I know I will lose this fight, because we live in The Dumb Ages and there is a huge backlash against intelligence, knowledge and facts, but at least I am aware of the fight.

And there in lies the definition of the problem at hand. Our lexicon is being changed by the Internet and the corporations that dominate it.  We are being forced to use new vernacular in an attempt to re-define what it is to be social and connected in your activity.  While a very few benefit from it, I see alot of social carnage.  Two moms that I know have decided to stop using digital media and have reverted to using the telephone with the curly cable on it.

It is positively Orwellian.  Oh wait. I’ve said that before and it’s all over the internet too.  So people know.

But I want to know who is deciding what the new words will be? Someone has to write the algorithm that makes the decision. Will we eventually use the term “double plus good?” To describe a reduction as a perceived increase. To make the increase a negative and to make the decrease a positive.

We all want to be positive and it follows that if you defy or question the negative you are being, well, negative.  Or….never mind.

If decreasing things is good then we become self deleting and are thankful for the opportunity to be that way.  That seems wrong to me.

In this “Age of Connectivity” I yearn for the interpersonal contact I used to have.  Recently I had a rare chance to sit with some other parents and just talk about all the stuff coming out of America and how we are a all concerned about in what manner it will impact our children.  We all felt better afterwards for being able to get it off our chests.  We discovered that we all have the same concerns.

It is most interesting to note that this meeting happened at the home of one of the people who had decided to give up their mobile phone.  We still find each other when ever we need to.  Connectivity in real time is out there if you want it. Having a phone in your hand all the time is not actually necessary at all. Unless, of course, your are using it to read my blog, watch my videos and order custom songs from me.

Then it is imperative to have one.

Handcrusher

It’s been a month since I started blogging.  I decided this week to stay away from news, but, despite my efforts, I still had some things get in my face.  My favourite event of the week was the handshake showdown between The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and that thing down in the States that they are calling POTUS.  This week’s song is called “Hand Crusher” and once again features Brian Knox McGugan on bass.

So today’s blog is a follow on from my first blog of four weeks ago, “My Digital Future” where I talked about “the paradox of progress”.  In the month that has elapsed I have, of course, had to use computers and devices because, whether we want it or not, these infernal machines and the industry attached to them, foist their will upon us.  It is increasingly difficult to exist without one.  I can’t make songs and videos or write this blog without one, so I am self flagellating in that regard.  If I had the cash,  would probably drop out in a heartbeat to live in a little solar powered cabin in the forest some where.

This week WordPress decided to update it’s interface and once again I have spent hours trying to find out where everything is.  My iPhone constantly asks me if I want to upgrade to the latest version.  The only options are “Yes” and  “Later”.  If you click on “Later” it brings up another window asking for your phone’s password so that it can update, later, while you are sleeping.  “No thanks” is not an option.  Push notifications always cover something I am working on.  If I don’t get the swipe right, it takes me away from what I am doing and forces me to look at it.  But enough of that.  Let’s just get on with some good old time solutions, shall we?

The Dungeon in my Mind

As I wrestle yet again with another wave of upgrades, website and software failures I discover that my subconscious has started to build a room.  It is a dark, dank room deep inside the basement of my mind.  It is lined with ancient bricks and has an iron maiden hanging in the corner. There is a table or workbench that contains a whole host of 9th century torture tools.

As I encounter each new electronic incursion into my life, I imagine having a dungeon full of shackled app and software programmers, each waiting to be introduced to Dave’s Digital Inquisition. My questions are simple and freedom is imminent if the answers prove truthful or helpful. Else wise I seek to change their approach by subjecting them to the very frustrations I have, 10 fold.  It’s my imagination, I can do what ever I want in there.

I ready the fire and place the pokers neat to the embers so that they can’t actually get hot.  I don’t actually want to hurt anybody, I just want to know if these people feel anything.  Do they think of the ramifications of the paradox they are building?  How do you make them think about it?  How do you make them feel even just a tiny bit guilty and make them care?  And then it dawns on me…well torture, of course.

We know that torture doesn’t actually work. When subjected to agony anybody will say anything just to get out of the chamber. But still, there is something satisfying about watching a good revenge movie that I think everybody likes.  So before you start freaking out, understand that there is worse stuff on Netflix than is presented in my little foray into darkness here.  I watched the first episode of “Santa Clarita Diet” with my wife last week and it ended with images that put her off the show completely, so we won’t be watching that again.  But hey, I guess you gotta sell that kind of gore to get viewers in the 21st century and so…

I bring my first digital transgressor to the table.  I have readied “bamboo shoots in the finger nails” for this guy.  He’s the one who decided it would be acceptable to make gifs and movies go full screen in Facebook on a second tap instead of stopping, which is what we all want to happen.  The button choice to stop the playback is a smaller button and harder to hit.  Every time I want to stop the playback I am required to add 2 extra taps to my task.  With each unwanted full screen playback the desire to plunge my steel pokers into the fire and actually make them hot, increases.

I ask my question; “Why?  Why do you make me do all those clicks?  My wrists hurt and the additional clicks are exacerbating my shoulder injury from when I was using  a mouse too much”.  I need an intuitive interface, not a forced compliance interface.

The reedy bespectacled techno dweeb just looks at me with a blank stare while he soils himself, not because he is afraid, but because I haven’t let him use the bathroom yet. The place stinks, but its my own fault, I should have been a more compassionate torture chamber master.  With a smarmy grin on his face he says,  “We need YOU to use all of your data bundle on your cell so the phone company can charge you for extra data AND we must somehow force you to watch the ads.  Even if you don’t see the whole ad it still registers as a click through and a view.  The advertiser is happy and then I get paid”.

His answer leaves me empty.   I think to myself, “How much of my data bundle is sucked up by ads?  Am I paying to watch these ads?  How twisted is that?”.  I continue my interview. “Do you love your job?”  I ask.

“Yes, I love it”, he spurts, a little bit of spittle hanging off of his chin.  Seized by an uncontrollable reflex, I gouge out his eyes with my thumbs. For some reason he doesn’t scream but just laughs at me, so  I cut off his thumbs, knowing how important they are to his use of a digital device.

He sniggers at me and, in between maniacal screams, blurts out “Siri”.  My phone answers him “How can I help?”   With that, I become completely numb and cut out his tongue. For some reason there is no blood and he just continues to snigger and chortle.   In my frustration, I blurt out more questions to my imaginary tongueless, thumbless, eyeless computer dweeb.  “Who gave you the right to do that, or was this a unilateral decision?  Is that your thing? Subjugation?  Is that the kind of person you are? ”

I ask him “do you have any understanding of ‘elegant degradation’?”  To which he responds with undecipherable gobbledygook gook because I have, after all, removed his tongue. And so I give him back all of his body parts and release him knowing that he will tell probably the police and my days of freedom will come to an end.

I snap out of my dream state and take stock of what this reality is doing to me. I wonder if I am alone in this or if others experience the same ennui.  This constant, ever shifting library ladder of life that only seems to move sideways.  I want to go straight up, not sideways.

I want spend less time on machines.

The Path of Least Resistance

All those years ago, I had an objective in mind and I plotted a path on how to get there.  I never expected that I would encounter so many forced deviations that would derail my chosen path and force me to select a new one that is no where near the objective I had in mind.   It feels like cultural appropriation at the hands of programmers.

You see, I want human connectivity to be free because, before the internet came along, it was.  The internet and the people who run it, are intent on making us all miserable for their personal gain.  Connectivity is what keeps us all sane and healthy. As this video explains, addiction in our society (to drugs, to phones, to sex, to whatever you use to fill the gap) is caused by a general lack of connectivity.

I don’t want my audience to grow because some click farm in The Phillipines has given me 250,000 likes for a price.  I want to develop my audience old skool, person to person, but the internet won’t let me, it’s profit model is constructed around isolating people under the illusion of connectivity.  My accessibility to a public is completely dictated by how much money I spend on any one of a number of advertising services. Today you have to pay an admission fee to get social connectivity and that fee is not only paid in cash but time as well.  Those who can’t afford the price of admission are more than likely going to become addicted to something. So my imaginary torture of the aforementioned dweeb programmer was really in the best interests of humanity because the programmer is the pusher in our school yard.  It’s time to stop the programmers from destroying our world while they proclaim that they are actually saving it.

When I was young, I used to hand out flyers and mail parcels to people to get them to come to my shows or book me on tour in far off lands.  There was something real about a piece of mail and a phone call.  But today, every way I turn, it’s all, “You don’t want to do it that way, you want to do it this way”.

But I don’t want to do it their way.  In the creative world, forced compliance is not an option, it stifles innovation.  I will not be assimilated.  Of course, i haven’t worked out my alternate plan just yet, but I become increasingly more motivated to do so with each day that passes and every upgrade I must endure.

If anyone has ideas about this, I am all ears.

Paying to get a job so you can pay off the debt of getting the job.

I saw an article in the Globe and Mail today.

Mulcair poised for clear shot at becoming prime minister as NDP surges in polls

In the article it states, “the NDP Leader will pitch himself Thursday as a salesman-in-chief, willing to travel overseas to personally nail down major contracts that promote jobs in manufacturing.”

Now that property is up and wages are down, the NDP can use this leverage to create jobs in a global market place where labour is willing to compete using the lowest cost for service.

I call it the WLCD equation and I think it may look something like;

(W-L)/C=D

W minus L, the sum of which is divided by C, which equals D.

…wherein W is wages, L is rent, C is the cost of living and D is the debt accrued in order to stay alive.

Essentially, the more a person is willing to pay to have a job, the more likely that they will get a job. This is the leverage that a working class person has.
I know people who spend 75% of their earnings on rent or mortgage. The remaining 25% of their wages is applied to the other standard non luxury stuff, which actually costs more than they earn. No boats, holidays or new shoes. No lattes, or frivolous Sunday sandwiches. No American Netflix, pirated via VPN.
My current job leaves me 30% short every month. Even if I work 16 hours a day, I need a loan to pay for health, transport, power, and my daughters future. We live in the lowest priced 1 bedroom apartment in our city. It happens to be central, and on top of a hill, so hooray for us!

Working harder means getting sick more and sick days mean less money, so working while sick is the result.

Working while sick means generating a risk of spreading infection and making others sick. The current government embarks on a war against terror, telling it is protecting us. But by dismantling national health care, the government defies it words. It is not interested in really protecting us. Consider this;

When a country has 1 billion workers, the labour pool is expendable, when you have a work force of 30 million it is not.

So the NDP need to address the long term effects of sub standard wages in a property driven marketplace that will, most definitely, result in a lower, non competitive form of mental and physical health.

Happy workers produce better products and are more likely to innovate and increase productivity when their lives have value. When lives don’t have value and people are pushed to their breaking point, they get angry, behave irrationally and do something that immediately classifies them as a terrorist.

And then the police state restores order, and private prisons get more slave labour. And everybody works on computers because that is the best place to keep an eye on you and make sure you aren’t complaining.

Something a major cola company calls “Open Happiness”.

Repeal bill C51, #‎rejectfear
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Shrink Wrapping Street Performers in Key West

Will Soto

Will Soto is a legendary tight rope performer and comedian who has been playing Mallory Dock since 1976.  Recently, he announced that  “the city of Key West, known as an island of the Arts, has just signed a lease with the CULTURAL PRESERVATION SOCIETY (how ironic) to charge the Sunset Street Performers a fee of $20 per night for the privilege of accepting tips.”

Crazy.  Installed performers will now be required to pay $6000 a year, each, to play.  That becomes an income stream for the city of $66,000 a year given that there are 11 performers listed on the “Sunset Celebration” website .  With that fact, the public space contracts even more than usual under the pressure of a newly evolved absurdist form of über – capitalism that seems bent on shrink wrapping street performers and placing them on a metaphorical shelf of discounted over stock items.

Artist or Vendor

As a street performer I spent much of the early part of my career negotiating with city councils who felt compelled to reclassify cultural activities into commercial ones. The argument has always boiled down to whether or not the performer is an “artist” providing much needed social dynamics in public spaces, thereby increasing the quality of community life, or a “vendor” who is dispensing goods and services and profiting from exposure in public areas. The primary difference being that the former receives a fee from the city to provide a cultural service, the later pays the city to conduct trade.

Over time, the word “culture” has been quantified by placing the word “consumer” in front of it thereby justifying the change in the direction of the interpretation of culture, from one focusing on arts and social engagement, to one focusing on consumption and social isolation, which are ideal to the long term success of a consumer based system.

The shrinkage of arts culture is, unfortunately, the result of the Chicago School Economics, which became the de-facto financial system of the USA under Reagan and was enthusiastically embraced by Americans in their pursuit of the profit motive. Public money is not to be spent on social programming in America because it is too closely associated with the word “social” and brings the society (another word that finds its roots in the word social) closer to “socialism”, which is continuously being discredited in America because of its proximity, in the past, to communism. And it creates an unfair barrier to trade…

Socially responsible government policies and behaviour takes power out of the hands of corporations and puts it in the hands of the people, which does not serve the profit motive. While it has taken over 30 years, the situation in Key West is representational of the final closing of traditionally recognized social constructs in favour of commercial ones. I personally think that commercial constructs defy nature and anything that defies nature is destined to fail.

Through out history people have always assembled on the street to debate the issues. That trend has been suppressed in the 21st century, mostly through the privatization of public space and the use of police forces and private security firms who have been empowered to protect corporate interests by what ever means necessary.

The defunding and devaluing of the arts has been central to American economic policy. To maintain the status quo, the removal and/or restriction of the arts is synonymous with the suppression of the only real voice of public opposition towards unpopular government economic policy.

American Street Theatre History

America has always been a trend setter. In the 1970’s, America reached a zenith of socially active theatre companies, many funded by the state, who performed outdoors in search of social change often questioning governmental policy and stimulating debate. Their shows were often huge spectacles involving all sorts of tricks and music, as we see today, but there was also the subject or theme of the show. Street shows had stories and sought to enliven debate about social issues. The San Francisco Mime Troupe was one of the greatest trend setters in this regard, but there were many others as detailed in “The Radical Theatre Notebook” by Arthur Sainer.

In a society where everybody is told that they must pay for everything, it was only a matter of time before this sort of thing happened. With the implementation of user fees for street performers at Key West, it may very well be that the thirty year process of extinguishing the urban social campfire in America is complete.

Perhaps the only way to find out if there is a public that will help to reverse the tide, is to use social media channels to generate a street show crowd that is willing to stand up publicly, in real time, until the desired change is manifested.

I’m Coming into your Living Room

Busking the Internet

In 1993 I made this video and put it on the internet hoping to get work as a street performer at international festivals.

There used to be a short clip at the very beginning, now located on some 20 year old hard drive that is buried in storage, where I came at the camera doing this strange dance and saying “I’m coming into you living room”.

It ended with the kiss that this video starts with.

Back in 1994, a 3.4 MB video took several hours to download, so I took the 5 second arty bit at the front off to reduce the file size and get to the montage so I could sell my show. It was my first internet video, made out of VHS and Hi8 formats shot on tourist grade cameras and crunchy as hell. It took weeks to edit on my 9 GB Avid Media Suite Pro. The computer was so big I had to build a room for it. I paid for it by doing street shows, busking and getting gigs. I figured I should always have a back up career and multimedia was it. I did a lot of digital work for my own projects and continue to do stuff for clients who have been with me for years, designing their packaging, building their websites and producing their videos.

That first on line video of mine worked a treat, so 10 years later I produced another video designed to do the same thing, and it did. The internet was just opening up and I was one of the first to benefit from the exposure that this new medium provided.

Lo Res Version originally posted in 2005:

Hi Res Version Reposted 2010:

As the years have unfolded, the market has changed dramatically and the availability of new and younger talent doing weirder and more wonderful things, usually on poles and requiring a chainsaw or some kind of piercing, has reduced my street level opportunities. Over the past few years I have been concentrating on indoor shows, film, television and cartoons. It is the natural order of things. I still do really fun shows but no where near the number I used to do when I was 35.

This video is my latest offering on the internet for a show that got it’s start 20 years ago. I think I look pretty good! I’ve lost a few kilos since this was shot back in the spring and the video is getting me gigs!


The Need for Speed

I am a performance junkie. I need to create and perform, it is my raison d’être. My mind is awash with an unrelenting arsenal of live performance ideas and, after I weed out the dreck, I need to produce and present them. But as the stability of live opportunities remains an eternal question (think Billy Crystal, Mister Saturday Night), I have needed to find a replacement, so I’ve taken to busking on the internet. It is actually very lucrative and something I never thought would gel, but it has and the results are more satisfying than I could ever have imagined.

A lot of people have said they have tried busking the internet, but this usually involves putting some content or video on a website and then asking for donations. I don’t consider that an approach to busking, just ineffective marketing.

On the street you can do a show and ask people to pay afterwards because they are in front of you and there is a personal connection. I wrote a book about it:

 http://www.davidcassel.com/thepavementstage.html

On line, particularly in music, there is an ethos that many follow; “I want it, but I won’t pay for it.” This might be sounding alarm bells for the music industry and can be soul crushing for a performer, so I came up with a way to reverse that trend and make my music and performances pay on line.

Fiverr

For over a year I have been selling a custom song service on Fiverr.com. Fiverr is a controversial place because there is a lot offered there and the range of quality is hugely dramatic. It is also hugely competitive. If a Fiverr artist isn’t careful, they can end up exhausted after months of giving their stuff away for next to nothing, hoping for the payers to come and spend real money. To present a gig on Fiverr means holding fast to your sense of self worth while still providing excellent customer service. It is a delicate balance made more challenging by the fact that you never speak to your client except by message system and sometimes they can just disappear.

Since joining Fiverr, I have generated a customer base of over 300 reliable people and created over 200 songs, ballads, jingles, cartoons , animations and videos for a very diverse selection of clients. I’ve made love songs for guys and girls who want to impress somebody, jingles for podcasts, radio shows, travel companies and product manufacturers to use on their websites and video greeting cards for birthdays, holidays and some unusual project launches. I’ve worked for ad agencies doing voiceovers and in one instance managed to land a $10,000 animation contract for a major industrial player that allowed me to pay talent, rent a pro studio and hire technical assistants for a one day shoot with pro cameras.

All the projects start out as $5 “samples”. The secret here is to have something you can offer that takes only a few minutes (or seconds) to generate. As clients get to know me they start booking the extras that include song writing, additional instruments, extended songs, video, animations and, most importantly, the “express delivery” extra which is where the real money is.

A lot of these projects have mushroomed into full scale productions with professional budgets that get delivered all over the wold. I now have clients in Switzerland, Singapore, Korea, The USA, Holland, Spain, Germany, Sri Lanka Australia and New Zealand, just to name a few and I never have to leave my studio. I have modified my garage to be a mini green screen studio with lighting and an HD camera. I have a costume rack and all kinds of ideas for creating digital magic in a confined space.

This is a song commissioned by a comedy group in New York about Pirate Penguins. They just said, “write a song about penguin pirates”, so I did. Five minutes later I had this. Got a great tip!

This song was created for a guy who wanted to put together an album of children’s songs to be used in his pre school classes. He paid for the first video I ever did in my garage.

This is the video we ended up with.

This jingle video was created for Beemo, who manufacture tablet screens in Malaysia:

And this video, well, this was epic. I made it before I updated the green screen and lights, so there are chromo flaws, but the client wanted to help me upgrade my equipment so he offered this project and paid full price for it. There are 7 characters in it. First, he wrote the words and then he paid for me to compose the music. Then he said, “Do what ever you want, creatively”, so I did. We had a ball…

Live Shows Via Skype

Back in May I was hired as a guest to appear live via Skype at a Theatre in Switzerland singing a custom made song for which I was given the topic 15 minutes before going live. It was such a hit the first time that I got invited back to be on other shows in the series. I put on a tux and a bow tie, set up a theatrical backdrop, got to speak german and play comedy ukulele for a theatre full of people on the other side of the world without getting on a plane. Because the audience could only see me from the waist up, I didn’t have to wear pants, there was something liberating about that.

The Boston Living Room Show

A couple of nights ago I sent an email out to some of my clients on Fiverr on my quarterly push for new customers. Almost immediately I got a message back and an order for $5 song from a lady in Boston who runs a web management firm.

I have an online gig where I invite “clients” to send me their words or poems and then I spontaneously turn them into a 30 second or 1 minute ukulele song. Last night my client ended up ordering about 10 songs and started paying really hefty tips while she and a bunch of her friends sat around writing songs. It became an exercise in “how fast can I turn this around”. Each of my gigs comes with a “Quick Delivery” extra. This is where the money is. It seemed the faster I was, the more orders, quick delivery extras and tips would pour in. It was a very lucrative night. The kind of night where you start thinking, “how can I do this all the time?”

This song took about as long as it is to make it.

By the end of a couple of hours I had managed to generate about $300 from this one client and her collection of friends…something I call my “virtual edge”. In street performer language an “Edge” refers to the front line of people who gather at a street show. An edge can be turned into a paying audience in about 45 to 60 minutes.

Whenever I get a good tip ($10 or more), I send the client a digital download of my album. My back catalogue is extensive, so I have a lot of “tip resources”.

The cool thing about this client was that she was writing poems about all of her friends and family. This started a knock on effect whereby each of them started placing orders and now I am flat out “busking the internet” for the next few days. I am always home for my wife and child and my little one loves to dance around as I do my job as a Tunesmith.

This song was created for a power company called GeoSolar that books songs from me regularly, this was their third gig!

Connectivty, Isolation and The Internet

I got into performance because of the human connectivity attached to it. I really enjoy performing to a live public and nothing will ever be able to replace that experience. As the age of smart phones and digital services evolves, human connectivity seems to be shrinking along with the outdoor public spaces that I used to rely on to make my living and many of the gigs I used to get as a young man. While the virtual version of this experience is more anonymous and isolating, I was pleasantly surprised at the relationship that developed between the lady in Boston and myself. Her words were bold and her subjects engaging. I became inspired and thought to myself how this on line “show” had fulfilled my deeply personal need for audience connection and engagement.

Of course the biggest dream of all is that I get booked to do this live, with people in front of me so that I can hear them breathing, but until that happens, this is an exciting way to earn money from home!

And so I would like to extend an invitation to you all. Come join me for an evening of collaboration by booking one of my custom song gigs over a Fiverr.com. Bring your friends, sit around and have drinks, make it a social occasion, buy some extras. If you are a Producer, put it in a theatre, I’d love to virtually fill your stage!. At the end of the night you will have an album of songs and I may have an order for that big animation or video that you always wanted to produce.

This is my Ad on Fiverr! Go and book something today!

The Palestinian Israeli Conflict – When Killing Kids Becomes Okay

The Palestinian Israeli conflict.

First. A short video

If there is one thing that strikes me about this conflict more than anything else, it is the foundations upon which this conflict are built.

I have a daughter who just turned two. I know I have some time before I will have to answer any questions of hers about war and killing and why humans do it. I think I will probably ruminate for some time to come about my response because the questions she will ask I have been asking myself most of my life.

I always wanted to believe that we lived in enlightened times, but there is one question I don’t think we as parents can ever reconcile. How can we teach our children not to steal property or hurt others when North America, the continent I live in, was founded on the precepts of theft and murder?

When the colonists showed up in North America they simply annexed what they wanted. It was not an action that was to be questioned, the powers that be cited “manifest destiny” under the terms of their religion as the justification and proceeded with a program of relocation and genocide as a solution. Of course, those who led the charge did not see themselves as anything other than “righteous ” and proceeded, guilt free, until there was almost nothing left of the people or the culture they chose to annihilate. After the job was done, government proceeded to tell us that killing and theft were bad and established “laws” to deter further incursions.

How convenient.

We try to teach our children to be good. We tell them that lying, stealing, fighting and being pushy are bad things. Some of us try to change the world through our off spring, but as I look at how the works operates around me I begin to ask myself, “am I training my child to be a lamb, ready to be led to slaughter?”

It would seem that goodness has no real effect on stopping monsters and mobsters from controlling everything around us. While those who pursue peace do what they can through non violent means, the sharks and wolves of our society simply snigger and then let loose another volley of missiles so that they can destroy something that belongs to someone else and then make a fortune rebuilding it according to their own vision.

Property ownership has been, from the outset, a loaded gun. The idea that we want our children to grow up respecting property rights while simultaneously being honest and caring seems a bit hypocritical. Maybe, in the pursuit of truth and honesty, we should start teaching about the inequality that has become central to how our society operates and show our children how to protect themselves from potentially dangerous situations and people. Tell them the the truth about how, when you want something, the example should be taken from the historical origins of America, or, more currently, Israel and Palestine.

And, before I go any further, I would like to point out that I am on neither side of this fight. In my opinion, both parties to this conflict think that killing children is okay. In my book, the whole region should just magically disappear so that those who love peace and understanding can just get on with the business of loving and living.

It is hard for me to be critical of Israel because some of my family, which has Jewish roots, was exterminated in Hitler’s Germany. Yet I find myself repulsed by what the Israelis have become and what they do in the name of protecting their religion. I don’t care what the origin of the attitude was, but if that attitude leads to the killing of children, then I have a hard time rallying behind the cause. The killing of children is something a monster does and nullifies any credibility. I may have listened to you once, but now I cannot. You killed children. I cannot forgive you for that. Ever.

I don’t expect the Palestinian Israeli conflict to end in my lifetime. It has been there since before I was born, and, sadly, after generations, it is all they know. The region has become a multigenerational breeding ground of hate and stupidity born of a misplaced belief in a spirituality that seems to mean nothing and does nothing to make the world a better place. They should be ashamed of themselves. They have cheapened their religion.

The Middle East wouldn’t be the Middle East if Palestine and Israel weren’t duking it out all the time. But as a parent, I have to call a spade a spade and point out that The Jews (remember that I have Jewish roots) arrived in Palestine after the United Nations decided they could move in with the Palestinians. I don’t recall if the Palestinians were asked what they thought, but regardless of that, one would think that, if Jewish mothers and fathers were trying to be good families and raise good children, they would have taught them how to be better neighbours to their hosts. One cannot forget that Palestine was made a country back in 1917 at the urging of the British.

Instead, we are reminded that this is how the world operates. If you want something, be nice at first, lie a little bit about your good intentions and then, later, just take it and be ready to fight. And if given the chance to fight, make it a bloody one. It doesn’t matter if you kill children or obliterate anything that was there before, there are countless historical examples from which justification can be drawn, the most recent being in Israel.

I think it a strange paradox that a people who have historically been oppressed eventually evolved to be oppressors. Being that they are people of faith I will never figure out how they could not become the world’s shining example of forgiveness and hope. I also can’t work out how they can practice their religion every day while children are killed and maimed in the name of their god. I know that there are Jews in Israel who just as horrified as I by what their countrymen are doing, but it always seems to be the animals that get their way.

It would have been so great if Israel could have coexisted with their new neighbours, but, instead, we have a confirmation that things can never change and that theft, murder and oppression are what creates successful communities. Why shouldn’t the Jews jump on the band wagon.

If the Palestinians and the Israelis can’t sort themselves out before my daughter asks me ‘that question’, i’m going to have to enroll her in some kung fu classes so that she can protect herself from the monsters that may one day come to take her home.

That is if she can ever afford one.