the amis are an infamous circus troupe, led by the beautiful and terrible firebreather enjolras, who lures a motley band of performers to roam from town to town, country to country, igniting each performance with their brand of fiery anarchy. marius, a young man soulsick with reality, runs away and joins them after he catches a glimpse of the lovely illusionist cosette. eponine, the lion tamer, terrifies audiences nightly with her singular skill with the wildest of animals, while courfeyrac barely grazes the ground as a trapeze artist one would swear floated through the very air. grantaire, the dark clown, rips bloodied laughter from the crowds as he spins tales about the terrible humour of the human condition. jehan composes narratives for their nightly shows, spinning scripts and structures from which his comrades dance upon. combeferre stands apart from them, handling the “business side of things” with seeming sanity, but careful should he offer to read your tarot, because there are some things he knows that humanity oughn’t.
Lobotomy: Definition, Procedure & History By Tanya Lewis
Lobotomy, also known as leucotomy, is a neurosurgical operation that involves severing connections in the brain’s prefrontal lobe, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. Lobotomies have always been controversial, but were widely performed for more than two decades as treatment for schizophrenia, manic depression and bipolar disorder, among other mental illnesses.
Lobotomy was an umbrella term for a series of different operations that purposely damaged brain tissue in order to treat mental illness, said Dr. Barron Lerner, a medical historian and professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
"The behaviors [doctors] were trying to fix, they thought, were set down in neurological connections," Lerner told Live Science. "The idea was, if you could damage those connections, you could stop the bad behaviors."
When lobotomy was invented, there were no good ways to treat mental illness, and people were looking for “pretty desperate” kinds of interventions, he said. Even so, there were always critics of the procedure, he added.
Doctors first began manipulating the brain to calm patients in the late 1880s, when the Swiss physician Gottlieb Burkhardt removed parts of the cortex of the brains of patients with auditory hallucinations and other symptoms of schizophrenia, noting that it made them calm (although one patient died and another committed suicide after the procedure), according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz is credited with inventing the lobotomy in 1935, for which he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1949 (later, a movement was started to revoke the prize, unsuccessfully).
Yale neuroscientist John Fulton and his colleague Carlyle Jacobsen had performed lobotomy-like procedures on chimpanzees in 1935. Moniz and his colleague Almeida Lima performed the first human experiments later that year. The frontal lobes were targeted because of their association with behavior and personality.
Moniz reported the treatment as a success for patients with conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, panic disorder and mania, according to an article published in 2011 in the Journal of Neurosurgery. But the operations had severe side effects, including increased temperature, vomiting, bladder and bowel incontinence and eye problems, as well apathy, lethargy, and abnormal sensations of hunger, among others. The medical community was initially critical of the procedure, but nevertheless, physicians started using it in countries around the world.
The first procedures involved cutting a hole in the skull and injecting ethanol into the brain to destroy the fibers that connected the frontal lobe to other parts of the brain. Later, Moniz introduced a surgical instrument called a leucotome, which contains a loop of wire that, when rotated, creates a circular lesion in the brain.
Italian and American doctors were early adopters of the lobotomy. The American neurosurgeons Walter Freeman and James Watts adapted Moniz’s technique to create the “Freeman-Watts technique” or the “Freeman-Watts standard prefrontal lobotomy,” according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The Italian psychiatrist Amarro Fiamberti first developed a procedure that involved accessing the frontal lobes through the eye sockets, which would inspire Freeman to develop the transorbital lobotomy in 1945, a method that would not require a traditional surgeon and operating room. The technique involved using an instrument called an orbitoclast, a modified ice pick, which the physician would insert through the patient’s eye socket using a hammer. They would then move the instrument side-to-side to separate the frontal lobes from the thalamus, the part of the brain that receives and relays sensory input.
Freeman wasn’t just a neurologist, he was a showman, Lerner said. “He traveled around the country, doing multiple lobotomies in a day,” he said. “He absolutely did this for way too long.”
Happy birthday, Marian Anderson! One of the most celebrated operatic singers of the 20th century, Anderson performed recitals all over Europe and America during a career spanning four decades.
In early 1939, Anderson garnered international attention for a reason other than her famous voice when she was refused permission to sing to an integrated audience in Constitutional Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In the aftermath of the controversy, she became acquainted with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. With the encouragement of the President and First Lady, Anderson instead went on to perform a mammoth open air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, 1939. A crowd of more than 73,000 turned up to catch a glimpse of the star and millions more tuned in to the radio to listen to the acclaimed contralto.
Roosevelt and Anderson remained friends for the rest of their lives. Anderson went on to have a prolific career culminating in a performance of the national anthem at President Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.
For the second half of the 1990s, my standard advice to people buying computers was to max out the RAM as the cheapest, best way to improve
their computers’ efficiency. The price/performance curve hit its stride
around 1995, and after decades when a couple gigs of RAM would cost more
than the server you were buying it for, you could max out all the RAM
slots in any computer for a couple hundred bucks. Operating systems,
though, were still being designed for RAM-starved computers, and when
you dropped a gig or two of RAM in a machine, it screamed.
It’s still good practice to max out your RAM, but it doesn’t get you
much of a dividend. The turbo-charger of the 2010s is solid-state
disk-drives, and they’re screaming up the same price/performance curve
that RAM traversed twenty years ago. Two years ago, I traded my laptop
drive for a 400GB SSD, spending as much on the drive as I had on the
machine, and it was worth every penny. My laptop battery-life nearly
doubled, and I stopped getting watch-cursors altogether; no matter what
task I performed, it was done instantly.
In October, I bought a one terabyte SSD
for a ridiculous $369 — about a third of what I paid for a 600GB drive a
little over a year ago! — and having run it for two months now, I’m
prepared to pronounce it good. I wasn’t familiar with the manufacturer,
Crucial, but they got very good reviews on Amazon, and at that price I
was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. My machine — a
Thinkpad X240 running Ubuntu 14.10 — chugs along with nary a
beach-ball, and I can go six to eight hours on a six-cell battery with
full brightness, and continuous Wifi and Bluetooth usage. I’m rough on
my computer, and it’s taken plenty of knocks and bumps without any
noticeable impact on the drive.
To accompany the new drive, I bought a pair of $60 Toshiba USB3 1TB drives
(one for backing up at the office, the other for my travel bag).
They’re nothing near as fast as the SSD, but combined with the USB3 bus,
they’re plenty quick for daily incremental backups, which take less
than five minutes.
If your storage needs aren’t as massy as mine, there’s a whole line of Crucial SSDs, 480GB for $170, 240GB for $100
and so on. They all come with three year warranties, though I haven’t
had cause to get service for my drive yet (knock wood). The drive is 7mm
high, and comes with an easy-to-fit adapter for 9mm enclosures.
I was less impressed with the adapter I bought
to copy the files over; it was fiddly and prone to losing its
connection. Ultimately, I slapped the new drive into a case in order to
make the transfer.
There are a number of reasons as to why it is that the critically acclaimed folk/blues singer Margret RoadKnight is not known to the Australian public on a higher level. She’s managed to sustain a career over 50 years, yet she’s not a pop singer for one and secondly she has never followed musical fashions. In fact, she called her 1981 album out of Fashion, Not Out of Style.
Perhaps closer to the point is that RoadKnight is a masterful interpreter of other people’s songs so she has never made an impact as a songwriter in her own right. Yet her strength as a performer lies in her remarkable ability to ingest her own personality into the songs she sings. Add to that her soaring voice – which has been likened to those of Bessie Smith or Nina Simone - and imposing presence and you start to get to grips with what makes RoadKnight such a commanding performer.
Decade:’75-84 is a 26-track retrospective that covers nearly all bases of her career. It’s essentially an expansion on the 2001 CD release Silver Platter: The Collection ’75-’84 which took in only 18 tracks. I say “covers nearly all bases of her career” because you have to consider that she started her career in the early 1960s around the jazz and folk clubs of Melbourne. She was singing field hollers and spirituals as well as the standard folk songs of the day.
01. Living In The Land Of Oz 02. GIrls In Our Town 03. Minuet I & II 04. Love Tastes Like Strawberries 05. House In Central Park 06. Ballad Of Dancing Doreen 07. Did Jesus Have A Baby Sister 08. Two Ways 09. Ice 10. Never Quite Catching The Tune 11. Prepare Your Bed For Sleeping 12. Winter In America 13. Another Spring 14. In The Heat Of The Night 15. Cakewalk Into Town 16. Sweet Misery 17. Raw Deal 18. I Ain’t Never Heard You Play The Blues 19. Misery Blues 20. Young Girl Blues 21. Masculine Women, Feminine Men 22. All Blues 23. Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle 24. Tears Their Toll Can Take 25. I’ll Be Gone 26. The Moment
“I loved her. And the thing no one ever realized about me or believed was that I could learn. I could train myself into anything. People always look down their noses at hookers. Never give you a chance cause they think you took the easy way out. When no one could imagine the will power it took to do what we do, walking the streets night after night. Taking the hits and still getting back up. But I did and they’d all miss out. Cause they had no idea what I could discipline myself too and I believed in something - and I believed in her.”
Manrique Larduet stands 1.58m tall and weighs 63kg of pure muscle. He says he originally took up gymnastics just for fun, but nobody doubted that he was born to be a champion.
He flips, turns, and jumps as easily as a person drinking a glass of water. You can’t help but admire all the difficult elements he does on high bar or parallel bars, tumbling passes on floor, or flipping over his hands on vault.
At 18 years old, he’s a quiet and soft spoken guy full of dreams to accomplish in a sport that gives him great joy, such as the most recent Central American & Caribbean Games in Veracruz. There he won the all-around and pushed his team to its best performance in a decade.
Now he has the Pan American Games as his next goal where he hopes to take the top crown, but he’s also longing for another thing: to become an Olympic Champion.
"I can do it. That’s my goal, and if they give me the opportunity to train and compete, it’ll be a dream I’ve had since childhood," he says modestly and surely.
Nothing is difficult for him in gymnastics. He has no fear in doing a difficult element. He enjoys listening to hip-hop but is embarrassed he can’t dance casino (Cuban salsa).
Erick López, Casimiro Suárez, and Emilio Sagré are his idols. Randy Lerú is his best friend on the team. He realizes that sheer will is his most powerful weapon.
He spoke with JIT on these topics and more after a training session at the National School, where he has called home for nine years.
You went to the Central American & Caribbean Games as a rookie. Are you surprised by your results?
No, I was aiming for four golds, but I only won two because the judging didn’t go well for me. I didn’t think I would get a medal on rings or even be in the pommels final. Other than that, I thought it was a good competition.
The expectations will be higher at the Pan American Games in Toronto. Are your aspirations still the same?
I want to win everything I can including floor, vault, parallel bars, high bar, and a good performance for my team. Before we trained to become Central American & Caribbean Champions, now we can reach the Pan American level.
How hard is it being the star of the team?
I’m happy because when I get the results, my team is happy for me. It’s not hard being the center of attention because I have the support of my coach and teammates.
You’ve been at this school for nine years, a long way from Santiago de Cuba and your family. How do you handle it?
At first I was sad because I was away from my family, and although I was always on scholarship, something about this journey was different. Eventually I became accustomed to being around guys my age, made new friends, and continued to learn things.
Sometimes I only go home in December, but last year I didn’t even go home during the summer. Next year will probably be the same getting ready for the Pan American Games.
Why did you choose gymnastics?
I began at 5 years old at a combined sports event by Antonio Maceo. I’m from the Los Pinos neighborhood in Santiago de Cuba. My dad says I started the sport because I was naughty and had good possibilities in the sport. My grandmother’s neighbor picked me for gymnastics. The teacher there was convinced I could pass, so I took the tests and passed.
What’s hardest for you?
In gymnastics? Nothing. I like all the apparatuses including pommel horse, although it’s the weakest for me and the most troublesome apparatus for the Cuban team.
What about the fatigue after training?
Sometimes you’re not in the mood to train, and that’s the worst. I don’t like flexibility. I’m a little “stiff” as we say, and I don’t like to run after a workout, but it has to be done. The best thing is that I have will and continue to seek perfection.
You have to motivate yourself to battle fatigue, so say for example one I tell myself, “I’ll come back and do it tomorrow,” you can’t get back the time you’ve lost, and it definitely shows in competition.
How do you handle the fear of certain exercises?
I really don’t fear anything. I have the coach nearby teaching me the complex elements step-by-step. That gives me enough confidence I won’t fall and hurt myself.
Do you remember your first competition outside Cuba?
It was the Pan American Championships in Puerto Rico 2013, but I don’t remember feeling nervous. Maybe I started a little tense, but after awhile I adjusted and did well.
It’s harder for me to compete here at home because it’s upsetting to fall and fail in front of people who know me and expect results from me. There are also team selections. I have no commitments with anyone outside Cuba.
What has gymnastics given you?
It paved a path of possibilities. I chose it because I like it, and as my father says, “it’s the only thing I know how to do.”
Do you see yourself reaching your Olympic dreams?
I hope they’ll give us a chance in more world competitions and try to qualify more than one athlete to Rio de Janeiro. And of course I could be a champion there.
Why active management fell off a cliff – perhaps permanently
As you are likely well aware by now, 2014 was the worst year for actively managed mutual fund performance in three decades. Less than 20% of stock-picking managers were able to exceed the returns of their benchmarks last year and, in some categories, the number was closer to 10%. How on earth could things have gotten so bad?
More importantly, is it secular or cyclical? Permanent or fixable? There is some evidence that last year was an anomaly and some evidence that the decline of active management is inexorable. Below, I will solve the mystery behind how this happened and I’ll let you decide whether or not things will change.
I’ve just finished reading the excellent new book by Larry Swedroe, The Incredible Shrinking Alpha, in which he lays out the evidence for why active management isn’t working for investors and some reasons for why it will only get harder, not easier, going forward. One of the more interesting ideas he has is that the exodus into passive strategies – which is usually cited as a reason for active outperformance going forward – is actually a major negative. This is because, with all the unskilled investors departing, pros will be left to square off against only other pros. The lack of retail punters and their harvestable mistakes cuts off one of the most reliable historical sources of alpha for sharp-eyed managers.
This is the “Paradox of Skill” theory that Michael Mauboussin has written at length about – wherein it is only relative skill, not absolute skill, that matters. Ted Williams was one of only seven Major League Baseball players ever to bat over .400 for a full season – and he did it back in 1941, more than 70 years ago. No one’s been able to do it since because all of the players have gotten so much better. In the stock selection game, luck plays an increasing role because, relatively speaking, there is so much more talented competition and everyone is highly skilled. Larry explains that in the stock market, as in baseball, “as average skill skill increases, it becomes more difficult to outperform by large margins – the standard deviations of outcomes narrows.”
But the increase in average skill has been happening for awhile now. Surely there must be other reasons for the cliff that active managers fell off last year – the drop being so sharp and sudden from even the existing trend of diminishing outperformance. A new white paper from GMO’s Neil Constable and Matt Kadnar makes the point that there are three reliable sources of outperformance –preconditions, if you will – that need to be present in order for there to be a lot of US equity managers beating their benchmarks.
According to the paper, large cap US stock managers can outperform in decent numbers if at least one of the following shows up as a benefit:
1. Smaller cap stocks within the large cap universe do better than their mega-cap brethren.
2. Cash isn’t a major drag on returns.
3. International stocks perform well or better than US stocks.
In most years, at least one or two of these conditions will manifest itself, thus enabling skilled managers to differentiate themselves from the benchmarks in a positive way. Last year was a Perfect Storm in that a) the small cap or “size” premium was actually negative and b) cash was a huge drag on performance and finally c) international stocks were uniformly terrible versus US stocks. Because noneof those things served as a tailwind, US large cap managers were left to the mercy of the index itself (and the index was absolutely merciless).
Based on their research, absent the benefit of smaller stocks working, cash working or international stocks working, historically it’s been tough for large cap managers in the aggregate to put up competitive numbers.
Here’s GMO (emphasis mine):
It is not uncommon for managers to have several percentage points of their portfolio allocated to each of these asset classes, and therefore underperformance from any of these will act as a drag on the performance of the overall portfolio… …in the 12 months ending September 30, 2014 the S&P 500 beat both international and U.S. small cap stocks by around 10% while outperforming cash by 20%. If a manager were to have had 5% of his portfolio in non-U.S. stocks, 5% in small/mid cap U.S. stocks, and carried 1% in cash, then he will have effectively started with a deficit of 120 bps versus the benchmark. That is a lot of ground to make up from stock picking within the S&P 500 alone.
Constable and Kadnar posit that it is unlikely that all three of these drivers of alpha will fail to show up concurrently in future years, thus their conclusion that there is some hope for active management going forward. This may be true.
My take is that one doesn’t need a large cap US manager to dip into cash, small caps or international stocks. In the portfolios my firm constructs for clients, for example, we can tap into these sources of alpha in their beta forms and reap whatever benefits they offer systematically, without paying a high expense ratio for the privilege of having these exposures taken on by a guesser.
But the issue Larry Swedroe highlights – about the retail migration away from “playing the game” – is probably the more important secular problem for active managers. Minus the exploitable accidents of large numbers of mom and pop investors, there’s simply less alpha to go around. The low hanging fruit has left and gone to Valley Forge, PA. In the absence of so many unskilled players, the field has become much more brutal, much more difficult to best.
There is one last facet of the disappearing alpha story that is also worth considering. Because of the pressure of outflows on actively managed funds, it turns out that the most popular stocks among professional stockpickers are performing very poorly versus the least popular. The logic goes that as funds are forced to sell to meet the redemptions of fleeing investors, the stocks they are most heavily weighted towards are the ones with the most selling pressure. If a stock is largely owned by active funds, and active funds are seeing mass outflows, then that stock is more likely to be held down even amidst a broad market advance.
Savita Subramanian, who heads up Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Equity and Quant Strategy group, revealed that the ten most widely held stocks among active large cap fund managers underperformed the least popular stocks by a wide margin (emphasis mine)…
Of all the attributes we track, ownership may have been most important over the last year. Of the ~50 quantitative factors we follow, ownership consistently ranked among the best explanatory factors for stock returns in 2014. With signs of a continued rotation out of active into passive strategies – flows into passive last year were 15x flows into active – stocks most held in active portfolios may have been under some pressure. We found that the 10 most underweight stocks in the S&P 500 by large cap active managers outperformed the 10 most overweight stocks by managers by 32ppt in 2014.
That’s not a typo – and 32 percentage points is a huge difference. Unfortunately for active funds, this trend has continued into 2015. Here’s what it looks like:
Subramanian says that the answer for fund managers is to avoid crowded trades, because the ten most under-owned stocks are already beating the ten most widely-held by 5.1% in the first five weeks of this year. In other words, the ongoing flight from active funds into index products carries with it a self-reinforcing trend thatexacerbates the underperformance of managers rather than cures it.
Whether or not this trend continues or abates is still a matter for debate. But the reasons laid out by Swedroe, GMO and BAML should be the starting point of any discussion of the topic. These truths should the basis for your opinion about how things will (or won’t) improve in the future.
Founded by The National’s Bryce Dessner, Cincinnati’s annual MusicNOW Festival will be celebrating his 10th anniversary when it runs from March 11-15. Acknowledging the milestone, organizers have announced the release of a special compilation, featuring live recordings from the last decade, including performances from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, The Dirty Projectors, and Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold.
The final video shows how far the art form of music videos came in the 70’s. By the end of the decade, even performance videos had started to develop more complex ideas and that effects had become a common place.
Now to say these effects were always great is a stretch, but it’s interesting to see how directors would use them anyway. Cars has some really kitsch stuff in it. Tambourines televisions, multiple Gary Numan’s, stretches, fades and mirroring, what more could you want?
On the 25th of January, I went with to see Taylor Mac’s performance “24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1900-1950” at New York Live Arts. The six-hour plus long marathon was a musical and visual tour de force.
I was still celebrating my five-decade birthday—and still am, actually, as I am observing for 50 days since the 19th of January—and Dominic and Tony invited me to see the show. I was excited by the prospect, as there are few things I enjoy more than pop music, performance, and clothes, and this show delivered all three in stellar fashion.
The performance was a workshop for a show that will, when completed in 2016, span 24 decades of popular music in 24 hours. The visual direction is by the brilliant Machine Dazzle, who made costumes that are incredibly inspiring, thought-provoking and beautiful, like apparitions melding references literal and surreal from each of the time periods they represent.
For a 1910s costume, the collar of a dress, for instance, was made from a pair of Converse sneakers. I fell in love with this detail, and wanted so much to wear these imaginative, magical garments. After the show, Machine told me those sneakers were actually introduced during that decade.
Taylor’s hat for that segment of the show, which featured his interpretation of both obscure and beloved paeans of the World War I era, was made from a gas mask like the ones the soldiers wore in deep trenches. Taylor sang about the blue sky above those trenches.
For numbers about the Jazz Age, Taylor’s gown had all the allure of an art deco statue, with exquisite touches like a necklace made from Pez containers…glorious!
For songs of the World War II era, Taylor wore an incredible hat made from a green plastic Slinky and an outfit that combined award ribbons from county fairs with a grey on grey striped cape with blood stain print alluding to concentration camp gear. Mac would juxtapose elements of each decade with a shrewd critical eye, presenting a sequence of music and visuals that would evoke a full range of emotions, meshing into a breathless impression of the splendor and strangeness of humanity.
The performance would present lecture-like moments of Mac’s take on the musical eras. Entertaining and informative in themselves, the marathon breezed right through.
The audience was also duly engaged to participate, which was smart, as it kept the crowd moving (literally) and intrigued. As the show progressed, the audience was instructed to move around the bleachers, illustrating, for instance, the huddled masses in Lower East Side tenements during the first decade of the 20th century or the white flight to suburbia of the 50s. (For the 50s segment, the outfit Machine designed was especially wonderful: a hat made from repurposed 3D movie glasses and a hoop skirt made from gigantic zip closures embellished to look like picket fences, houses, and the sky.)
During the segment corresponding to the 1910s, Mac did a rendition of “By the Light of the Silvery Moon,” and asked for volunteers to come to the stage and moon the crowd every time the word came up in the song. Taylor had already recruited Tony, as we were sitting in the front row, to create a romantic tableau on a Lower East Side tenement rooftop.
Dominic and Machine were at hand to do the mooning, and Machine squirted a whole can of Reddi-Whip onto an aluminum pie plate and gave it to me so I could smash it on his butt when he did the mooning.
I gleefully obliged, and in doing do I got whipped cream all over my hands, and I did not have a napkin to wipe it off. I was in quite the predicament, as I was wearing my LaForge party dress and had no way to get the cream off my hands!
From behind me, a napkin miraculously appeared, someone graciously handed it to me. I looked back and saw Justin Vivian Bond waving at me, having provided the lifesaving napkin. I smiled gratefully and proceeded to wipe my hands.
A sort of intermission happened during the 1930s segment, and Taylor recruited Dominic and I to hand out airline peanuts with ladle and soup pot in hand, evoking soup lines of the period, while asking the audience to sit on the stage. Suddenly the atmosphere was very faerie gathering, with people on the floor and plaintive ballads filling the air, much in the spirit of a Know Talent Show.
When the performance was over, we were all elated and energized and I went backstage with Dominic to see if I could ask Machine to quickly let me put one of his creations for the show and feature it. He was super gracious and helped me to put one of my favorite outfits on, from the 40s segment with the county fair ribbons as fabric for a dress.
Dominic snapped away photos of Machine and I, and we said our good nights. We all went for Thai food after with Nayland and Thor and then headed on to the subway.
Photos: 1. Dominic Vine; 2-6. Jorge Clar; 7. Kevin Yatarola.
Terence Fixmer - Depth Charged
Over the past two decades, French producer and live performer, Terence Fixmer, has continued to evolve as an artist while maintaining his influential stance in international techno culture. With his last solo album, Comedy of Menace, already five years behind us, his continuous evolution has led him to produce his most introspective album yet. With this 10-piece composition Fixmer is able to tell a story from start to finish, with powerful, deep, dark, pulsating tones that are essential to his musical approach.
Depth Charged is a complete concept as Fixmer’s track arrangement takes the audience through various emotions illustrating how there is more to darkness than the dance floor. Beginning with a slow but heavy bassline, “Ellipse” acts as a perfect introduction setting the attitude for the album. “Fleeting Beauty” brings us fluttering chords amidst a serpentine drone, while the rolling bass of “Unforeseen” sends you into a trancelike state. “Purity” distracts the listener with its raw analog warmth filled with extraterrestrial energy. “Inside of Me,” exclusively selected by Marcel Dettmann for his Fabric 77 mix, followed by “Outside of Me” are both very dark tracks, filled with atmospheric suspense and quaking rhythms. “Beyond” is a pure exemplary of Fixmer’s signature style with an infectious progression sending anyone to the dance floor as “Pallid Light” follows its footsteps filling a bit more radiance into a modern techno sound. “Thoughts” shows another emotion of the album with deeper dub-like sonorities leading to the final track.
Concluding the odyssey is “Elevation,” the most melodic track of the album, beautifully deep, undulating and atmospheric, it is a breath of fresh air that brings one back to reality. Fixmer’s productions have drawn the attention to stimulate individuals in other artistic mediums, as the track was an exclusive selection of Raf Simons to showcase his works for Dior at the CFDA-Awards. Raf has been a very big supporter of Fixmer’s work since his first album in 2001, Muscle Machine.
Passionate of profound mystifying tones that rise and fall, Depth Charged is the epitome of unique expressiveness for Terence Fixmer. With darkness as a companion, each track has come from deep inside the soul; uncompromised soundscapes that promote taking risks.
05.INSIDE OF ME
06.OUTSIDE OF ME*
Whether I choose to go here or to the U for my master’s, the principles I describe here will be very important to me going forward.
To explain my interest in the Christie’s Art, Law, and Business program, I would point to the historical relationship between two writers: James Joyce and Ezra Pound. We celebrate James Joyce as a great innovator who changed the scope of art and literature forever. Many people read (or try to read) Joyce’s great novels, like Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as a way to try to directly understand Joyce’s writing style and the influence he has had on other writers. Rarely, however, do most people consider the role that Ezra Pound performed for decades, acting as Joyce’s advocate, right-hand man, and business manager.
Reading the letters that Joyce and Pound exchanged from the years circle 1910 to 1940, I came to understand that there would be no James Joyce, as we know him today, if Ezra Pound had not been there standing beside Joyce and supporting him during the critical years of his career. To part from Joyce’s novels and begin to explore his letters and private journals is to begin to understand that conventional business acumen is a critical part of even the most avant-garde artist’s or writer’s success. In the specific example of Joyce’s life, it’s clear that the main reason we are able to enjoy Joyce’s great novels today is because of the facilitative role that Ezra Pound performed as Joyce’s business partner.
Joyce spent years living in cities like Trieste and Zurich, subsisting in relative poverty as he waited for the market to ratify his artistic vision. When Joyce needed entrepreneurial support for his prospects as a writer, he called on Ezra Pound secure the necessary financial support and to leverage existing network connections for the writer’s benefit, helping Joyce publish his work in modern art periodicals like Blast and The Egoist. When Joyce received pushback from skeptics in the art community, Ezra Pound stepped in again. He wrote the famous “Paris Letter,” where he used his knowledge of literature and art history to compare Joyce to previous innovators like Flaubert and to make a compelling case for Joyce’s own innovative greatness. Finally, again, when Joyce faced legal struggles and the American attempts to censor Ulysses, Ezra Pound was there at his side, counseling Joyce and advocating for Joyce wherever needed.
I share this account of Pound’s relationship to Joyce as a way to demonstrate that creative production cannot succeed in the modern market without business acumen, pertinent historical knowledge, and experience with the legal system. Each of these three elements: business, history, and law, is accounted for in the curriculum of this Christie’s Education program. I’m applying to the MSc in Art, Law, and Business, because my passion for art inspires me to gain the professional skills that help make artists’ innovations possible.
Despite the speeches that are to reach out to marginalized populations, and the performance by John Legend and Commons, it would seem like media is becoming progressive, and more people are becoming aware of the number of social issues that need to be addressed.
Except it’s not. The social issues that were brought up during these acceptance speeches and music performance are issues that many other had tried to call to attention for decades by now.
For the past two years watching the Academy Award, I commented to my family about how Oscar felt more and more like, “An extravagant party where white people patting each other on the back”. This year, looking at the nominees, it’s not too far from the truth.
Part of that I think has to do with the fact that the judges are still comprised almost completely of white male, so the films they nominated are still catering to white male audience. Until that has changed so as to include individuals of more diverse backgrounds, from many different culture and walks of life, to discuss what is a good movie, all the acceptance speeches and songs are at the end of the day nothing more than cloud talks.
I think we are past the stage where we “acknowledge” problems, and are way overdue for “acting” on the issues. There needs to be changes in who decides on the films, or Hollywood is not making any social progress.
Sleater Kinney’s first UK performance in nearly a decade is met with a palpable sense of anticipation in the crowd at the BBC’s 6 Music Festival; “marry me!” a fan screams, before the band have even played a note.
Distributed Objects: Sergei Tcherepnin, Sabisha Friedberg / Peter Edwards
Distributed Objects is the new record label founded by ISSUE Project Room, the organization behind countless experimental music / dance / video performances in NYC for over a decade now, hosting (primarily) at the 110 Livingston building in downtown Brooklyn where I’ve seen a number of my favorite acts perform in the last couple years, including Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi, Loren Connors, Yasunao Tone, Kevin Drumm, C Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee, Graham Lambkin, Tony Conrad, Alan Licht, Kim Gordon, J Mascis, David Grubbs, Eli Keszler, Elliott Sharp, Stephen O’Malley, Valerio Tricoli, Aki Onda, Ikue Mori, William Basinski, Marina Rosenfeld, and even board-member Steve Buscemi (reading William Burroughs). I’m glad they’re finally getting into releasing records, and that their first two releases are from Brooklyn-based composers with significant careers in sound art installations and performances, but who until now have not had a major record release. These two 2xLPs come in a limited edition of 500 each, beautifully mastered by Rashad Becker.
When I first heard the name Sergei Tcherepnin I confused him for the inventor of the Serge Modular synth, who is in fact Sergei’s uncle Serge Tcherepnin. They are both members of a dynasty of Tcherepnin composers, much like the Bachs and Strausses before them. Like uncle Serge, Sergei is primarily interested in electronics, and has had a strong developing career in sound art, exploring sound transmissions through various physical objects such as floors, light fixtures, wooden subway benches, metal boxes, even the human body itself. The tracks on Quasar ⇔ Lanterns were composed and used as material (in 8-channel format) for a 2009 exhibition with Japanese performance artist Ei Arakawa which explored the subjective experience of sound in a given space, among other themes. The three pieces used in that exhibition became this three-sided LP. Analog synthesizers play a huge role in the sound, focusing in on mid range frequencies. My favorite piece on the record is Side B’s “Sky”, which seems to combine the synth noises with the clustered overtones of the Japanese shō (笙), a free reed instrument I’m currently obsessed with. Side A’s “Quasar (Death)” uses recordings of extended technique on an acoustic bass, which up actually sound like extended technique on trumpet, and Side C’s “Horse” uses the most field recordings of the three tracks, turning the sound of horses’ hooves on stone into something quite visceral, almost like the sound of chewing. It’s the hardest track to listen to, but only because it works so well. Tcherepnin might primarily be a sound artist, but his family’s immersive history in composition has soaked into the essence of his creativity, and these pieces work as time-structures just as well as they do sound experiments.
Much of South Africa-born Sabisha Friedberg's sound art is concerned with and tailored for a specific site or room. Like Quasar ⇔ Lanterns, The Hant Variance was a performance / installation collaboration (with Peter Edwards) which explored audience’s interaction with sound waves in a given space, in this case at one of the studios at Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate NY, a video of which you can view here. Movement 1, Pt. 1 (Side A) sounds like a machine jungle, with buzzing insects, train bells, and army Morse codes, as if it were a combination Philip K. Dick / WWI universe. Pt. 2 of Movement 1 (Side B) is quieter but rumblier with shoegazy synths and disembodied voices. There seem to be human conversations hidden within the rumbles and hallucinatory oscillation loops of Movement 2, Pt. 1 (Side C), coming from down a mile-long hallway. On any speaker system that isn’t a laptop, Movement 2, Pt. 2 (Side D, the highlight of the record for me) will make you physically feel the room you’re in, the bass rumble from the previous two sides taken to the extreme, with oscillators providing an ear-massaging miasma and ghostly haze. It’s the most accurate illustration of what it’s like to experience one of Sabisha’s live installations. It’s of significant note that each side ends with a locked groove. It’s always bothered me that tracks intended to be longer than a single side of vinyl tend to fade out and in across the divide, but the locked out groove (at least in this instance) feels like a perfect solution. Given the nature of the music, it actually takes longer than a few seconds for it to even register that the side is finished, meaning the sound never actually interrupts until you pick up the needle yourself, making for a much more continuous listen, and also serves as a reminder that the work is more importantly space-based than time-based.