Thursday, July 31, 2003

Spam Slam

Thought I'd never get another bit of free verse spam again. I was wrong...

Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 19:06:31 GMT
From: Qazoturia Iazotus
Subject: Very sma11 girls (G4o5xV hastily)
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level S

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Monday, July 28, 2003

Lola Magazine Bids Farewell

Lola is no more. A press release announcing the end was issued this afternoon:

(Toronto, July 28, 2003) With the recent publication of its first summer issue, Lola magazine, a favourite among the art cognoscenti of Toronto, will cease publication. After seven years of independently publishing the feisty visual arts magazine Lola’s three principles, Editor Catherine Osborne, Art Director Sally McKay and Publisher Sharon Salson Gregg, today announced they will no longer publish Lola as they wish to move on to other projects.

Near the bottom of the release was this:

"Our goal was to take a different approach to discussing art," says Osborne. "We set out to take art beyond the mildewy halls of academe and into the world where anyone can be a part of it. With Lola, we’ve been chiseling away at art-phobia, that great rush of stupidity many feel when they look at art and aren’t sure what to make of it. It turns out there was and continues to be a huge and growing appetite for contemporary art and when you communicate about art in a credible way, more people get turned on. I think we’ve done something important."

I have little to add beyond reinforcing the idea that Lola in fact did do something important. The publication will be missed, but after seven years, it's easy to understand why those involved decided to move on. I wish them nothing but sucess in their future pursuits.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Mark Kisswell

Last night I went to the summer launch for This Magazine’s Love and Hate issue, held at the Cadillac Lounge in trucker-hat-trendy but still-not-quite-gentrified Parkdale.

The party occurred on a large patio in the back of the bar, which I had heard about, but never enjoyed personally. It was spacious, which was good, because the place was packed.

Once there, I made a beeline for the kissing booth, staffed by philosophy sexpot Mark Kingwell, along with This mag’s "ladies of the left" (a phrase coined by Andrew Potter, if I’m not mistaken, who wanted to create a calendar of the same name). I paid Kingwell – author of a bunch of books, including the upcoming fish philosophy tome Catch and Release -- $2 and got a big smack on the right cheek.


So I had something to blog about today.


Also, it was for a good cause, as they say – This magazine can always use some extra coin.

My girlfriend seemed more comfortable with me getting action from Kingwell than a kissing booth staff member of the of the opposite sex. Not that I didn’t have other options. There was also an Advice for the Lovelorn Booth, manned by art critic and local gadabout RM Vaughan, and an Insult Shack courtesy of Hal Niedzviecki. Vaughan provides me with free advice often and Hal has been equally good about slagging me gratis. But Kingwell has been strangely reticent in the puckering department, so I thought, Hey! Why not?

For the record, the kiss lasted a few seconds (three, tops) and was accompanied by a one armed hug/draw the person closer maneuver. I deem it worthy of the $2 spent.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Mom, Why Did That Bear Turn Purple?

I like bears. This bear is purple.

Purple bears are super cool. When I grow up, I want to be a purple bear.

(A zoo in Mendoza, Argentina sprayed Pelusa, its 23-year-old bear with an antiseptic spray that turned her normally white fur a dark shade of violet).

Wednesday, July 23, 2003 Live!

On July 10 I went to see founder and editor David Talbot speak in Vancouver (about a hundred people made it down). His lecture was about the Art of Survival (although my pink ticket stub says the event was entitled Last of the Independents). The best part was the lengthy Q&A session. In fact, I was disappointed in Talbot’s public speaking abilities – he was stilted and choppy, letting more than a few moments of clarity and emotional resonance slither past him due to clumsy phrasing and verbal stumbles. He felt noticeably more comfortable answering questions, however, and I assume this is because of the hundreds of investors and other suchlike folk he has had to deal with over the years. He spoke with ease and intelligence about blogs and why advertisers fear unmoderated reader forums and provided much candor about finances and day-to-day details: $60 million spent since 1995; a current freelance budget of $600K per year; 75,000 current subscribers with 125,000 required to be profitable; a current marketing budget of zero; a 72% renewal rate amongst subscribers; a staff of 60, down from 150.

The best moment for me was when a fellow in the crowd asked Talbot about e-books and whether the purchase of MP3Lit was something he regretted or something Salon would revisit and better utilize in the future.

"We bought that?" asked Talbot, quite seriously.

It took 30 seconds or so of description from the guy who had asked the question before Talbot remembered the purchase. He admitted to overseeing a blur of co-deals and synergies -- "we tried it all" -- during the heady days of the dot-com crush (their IPO raised $25 million). He wasn’t sure about the future of MP3Lit, but did go on to proudly note that Salon did manage to avoid at least one stupid .com idea: digital smell.

Things might sound bad at Salon – Talbot certainly didn’t try to dissuade us of his dire financial situation – but as it was pointed out, gave up the subscriber model at the 12,000-14,000 mark. The passion, the pleading, the urgency and the lack of money all reminded me of my Adbusters days, and the same question always frustrates: How to battle the right when they have bundles more cash than the left? Our cause is just and necessary, but the means and the method (begging for money) seem so primitive, even for a website.

The main idea of the Talbot talk (the bad part of the evening, the non-Q&A part, the part not worth $10) was that Bush is Bad, and only is brave enough to say so. Perhaps being Canadian gives us enough critical and geographical distance to make us say Duh, but I suppose such political sentiments are considered far more radical in the United States.

For all his many examples of attacking the Bush regime with constancy and vigour, I still really think of (especially in its heyday) as a smart analyzer of tech trends and pop culture. As I said, for me the Bush is Bad analysis is so obvious as to be redundant. Or perhaps I’ve become shallow and lame and only care about the fluff coverage, and thus overlook their investigative efforts. Although, as Talbot pointed out, one of their biggest and most consistent targets has been our nauseating fascination with celebrity culture, a hungry ghost that eats up more and more of the media spectrum and bandwidth with each passing year.

Back in 1995, when was launched, Talbot believed that "intelligence was the next growth market" in the magazine world.

"We’re still waiting," he said, with a rueful laugh and smile.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Smart Ass Question About a Dumb Ass Song

This is from an interview in last week’s Onion (July 16, 2003 Volume 39 Issue 27) with Seattle rapper Anthony Ray, a.k.a. Sir Mix-A-Lot, conducted by Nathan Rabin. Further comment by moi would only serve to ruin the delicate magic contained herein:

O: You were one of the first popular entertainers to talk about asses in a sexual way, whereas that happens all the time now. Do you feel validated by the current focus on asses?

SM: Sometimes I feel validated, and sometimes I think, "Oh, shit, did I open Pandora's box?" I don't really try to take credit for it. I just think it's about time. I had somebody tell me today that J. Lo owes me royalties. I thought that was great, because I always thought that curvy women are beautiful. It's weird how America would say that these asses are terrible. Marilyn Monroe had one! She was considered America's darling, and she had one. It's kind of weird.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Hello Punk! Hello Kitty!

Got an email / low-fi press release from SST records recently – the label that first released Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets and Dinosaur Jr. – saying it’s back in business after six years. Included was the following bit of unintentionally hilarious and head-scratching info:

Eddie Solis here at SST Records. Legendary Punk band Black Flag will reunite for a reunion show on Friday September 12, 2003 @ The Hollywood Palladium. All $$ will go to Cat Rescues. Let me know if you are interested in speaking with Greg Ginn regarding this.

A strong strain of animal rights is threaded through the punk subculture -- being a vegan is something to aspire toward, etc, etc. But it seems strange, however, for a punk band to reunite over kitty cats. I mean, Black Flag was Hardcore and Hatred and Heavy -- not exactly the first band you’d think would reform for rainbows, hugs, sunshine and lollipops.

A bunch of months ago I finally read Get in the Van, the Henry Rollins tour diary about his years in Black Flag, and it left me emotionally exhausted. Here are three choice quotes from that book:

"Ripped my right arm apart with piece of wood. Felt good at the time. Club colder inside than outside."

"I was listening to the radio the other day in California and one of our songs came on and I jumped because I couldn’t find my microphone. Now that’s damage."

"One minute, you’re up onstage with all these people that are real nice to you. An hour and a half later, you’re sitting alone in the shed with a bunch of spiders and moist air."

That last quote, by the way, refers to the fact that the young and penniless Rollins lived in a shed in the backyard of Greg Ginn’s parents, although that assertion came under scrutiny in a 1997 Punk Planet interview (which is reprinted in the anthology We Owe You Nothing). So, first off, here is Ginn setting the record straight on the shed issue:

"Get in the Van? It’s all false. I don’t need to read that stuff to know that it’s inaccurate. He makes such a big deal out of living in a shed – it’s constructed like a house; it used to be my father’s study."

Conversely, here is Rollins talking about Ginn’s interpersonal skills:

"Do you know why everybody left? Because of Greg. Did Chuck Dukowski tell you how he left the band in tears after Greg Ginn vibed him out of the band? Did Bill Stevenson tell you how he left the band in tears, crying and screaming? Did Kira tell you how many nights she came to me crying, wondering what was up with Greg?"

Meowch! Now who’s being catty?

Thursday, July 17, 2003

More and More and More SPAM Poetry

I was in Vancouver for two weeks – got back into Toronto yesterday (Wednesday). Thought holidays would be conducive for blogging, but nope.

The SPAM poetry has finally subsided, gone flaccid so to speak, so I’m happy to share with you the final deluge I collected during June and early July. I’m still convinced the random word generation was a method of bypassing the SPAM filter my university installed. Anyway, enjoy or ignore the last of this doggy-style doggerel.

Date: 17 Jun 2003 08:37:22 -0000
From: "Ruthann Cauffman"
Subject: RE: special care must be taken at all times

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Date: 17 Jun 2003 18:00:40 -0000
From: "Malissa Zapata"
Subject: RE: what the?

absolutely awesome!!

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Date: 18 Jun 2003 06:30:41 -0000
From: "Fay Slostad"
Subject: RE: got a sec? pls ph..

why did the chicken cross the road ???

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Date: 19 Jun 2003 00:05:55 -0000
From: "Donnetta Sandquist"
Subject: RE: next week i cant..

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Date: 19 Jun 2003 19:20:08 -0000
From: "Cherelle Konecni"
Subject: RE: why dont you mail me!?!?

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Date: 19 Jun 2003 19:26:12 -0000
From: "Chrissy Loshe"
Subject: RE: stand upright at all times!

is this yours??

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Date: 20 Jun 2003 06:07:45 -0000
From: "Wendy Legoullon"
Subject: I've moved and you can find me here
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SS

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Date: 20 Jun 2003 13:41:17 -0000
From: "Herma Petet"
Subject: RE: finito kaput the end


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Date: 21 Jun 2003 03:07:51 -0000
From: "Carli Patrylak"
Subject: RE: wooah havent seen one like this before..


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Date: 22 Jun 2003 07:56:42 -0000
From: "Inez Beckel"
Subject: Read your email quick!

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Date: 22 Jun 2003 09:41:22 -0000
From: "Kaitlin Newkirk"
Subject: **SPAM** You must see this
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSSSSSSS

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Date: 22 Jun 2003 13:04:53 -0000
From: "Belva Chirdon"
Subject: **SPAM** Heavenly H0T!
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSSSSSSS

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Date: 23 Jun 2003 06:06:09 -0000
From: "Erlene Mezzina"
Subject: RE: Urgent Delivery

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Date: 23 Jun 2003 06:25:11 -0000
From: "Dayna Huor"
Subject: RE: Damn thats bad!?

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Date: 23 Jun 2003 10:59:07 -0000
From: "Petra Skalka"
Subject: Divine Women!
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSS

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Date: 24 Jun 2003 05:46:22 -0000
From: "Lorrie Hibbitts"
Subject: RE: Phone Call

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Date: 25 Jun 2003 10:15:10 -0000
From: "Eulalia Goodwin"
Subject: RE: Email Recommendation

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Date: 26 Jun 2003 08:32:13 -0000
From: "Carolyn Turton"
Subject: RE: Phone Call

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Date: 27 Jun 2003 06:56:31 -0000
From: "Alona Biddie"
Subject: Exciting Entertainment
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSSS

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Date: 27 Jun 2003 01:05:25 -0000
From: "Voncile Teichmiller"
Subject: RE: Have I got the right email address?

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Date: 26 Jun 2003 06:31:18 -0000
From: "Teena Delima"
Subject: You'll be squirming with Pleasure!
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSSS

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Date: 25 Jun 2003 07:29:42 -0000
From: "Dusti Hartsock"
Subject: They hired me as their new model !
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SS

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Date: 27 Jun 2003 12:22:25 -0000
From: "Iraida Lattimer"
Subject: RE: Can you change this for me?

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Date: 28 Jun 2003 03:07:58 -0000
From: "Sulema Baltzley"
Subject: RE: Email Recommendation

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Date: 29 Jun 2003 09:28:30 -0000
From: "Anika Martowski"
Subject: **SPAM** Erotic & Sexy ...
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSSSSSSS

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Date: 30 Jun 2003 17:02:22 -0000
From: "Merna Sea"
Subject: RE: In 30 Minutes!!

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Date: 1 Jul 2003 03:25:28 -0000
From: "Yolonda Crockarell"
Subject: New downloads available
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSSS

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Date: 1 Jul 2003 10:15:40 -0000
From: "Penny Rosselli"
Subject: RE: If this document is sent in error

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Date: 1 Jul 2003 12:44:07 -0000
From: "Daisey Coulter"
Subject: In need of someone ?
X-Spam-Level: Spam-Level SSSS

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