January 7, 2021 in 4,171 words

• • • an aural noise • • •

word salad:
Essence Project – Moments Of Being; Released January 21 2020; Eucalyptus Network. Eucalyptus Network is happy to present a new release by Essence Project! Featuring amazing instrumental talent – Jonathan A, the two embark on one more journey together. This time around we dive deep into an immersive 20 minute long story about the circle of life. A harmonious cycle of constant renewal, setting the natural order in unending moments of being.

• some of the things I read in antisocial isolation while eating breakfast •

Meet the Photographer Hunting for the Scars of Soviet Rule

Matthew Moore captures places where monuments once stood—and then finds the statues as well.

Discarded Monuments, Tallinn, Estonia (2015): “I found this location through a traveler’s blog. He had visited Tallinn’s History Museum and happened to wander around back, where he discovered all these statues just dumped there by the authorities. This is a good example of a place still in transition. I’ve seen photos of this location since I shot it in 2015, and the statues have been moved into more deliberate positions since then.” Embiggenable. Explore at home.

Ed. Your flight via Google Earth brought you to an historical landmark in Tannin. May not be the location where the stone head once sat. Following the more info you’re presented with an address, phone number and web link. Clicking the link takes you here. Once translated you may learn the history of the address and details of how this modern office building came to be.

POP CULTURE HAS ITS CROCODILE hunters, house hunters, ghost hunters, and more. Matthew Moore, a photographer currently based in Maryland, has lived on and off in Czechia for the past 20 years. In that time, he has become fascinated by public relics of Soviet power. So he became a statue hunter or, more precisely, a void hunter, seeking out the places where since-relocated Soviet monuments once stood, and then the monuments themselves.

“When I first moved to the Czech Republic in 2000, I found out about the ‘pink tank’ in Prague, and became obsessed by it,” Moore says, referring to the Soviet Tank Monument—an actual military tank used by Russians during the Czech invasion, left on display in a city square for decades. Following the Velvet Revolution of 1989, it was famously painted bubble-gum pink by artist David Černý. Though the tank had been relocated to the Military Technical Museum of Lesany by the time Moore was living in Prague, he was determined to find the spot where it once stood.

This turned out to be a difficult mission for a non-native—particularly before Google Maps and smartphones. The Czech government had taken great pains to erase the remaining traces of Soviet occupation, removing once-ubiquitous statues of Lenin and Stalin, renaming streets and squares, and reclaiming public spaces. The original location of the tank wasn’t associated with any name or address, and though it may have been recorded somewhere in newspaper accounts, Moore didn’t then read or speak Czech.

Stalin, Berlin, Germany (2017): “The local municipality attempted to repurpose this spot by putting a fountain in place of the statue of Stalin, but the fountain doesn’t work. Instead of fixing it, the authorities erected a construction barrier around it, which, as far as I know, is how it stands today.”

So he used an old detective technique. “I asked my Czech girlfriend to call her mother,” he says. “I specifically remember her mother directing us, in Czech, which tram line to take to go find this random square where a tank no longer was. She thought we were crazy.”

RELATED: Lessons on Enduring a Lonely Winter From Antarctic Voyagers
They whiled away the dark months with poetry, banjos, and Russian grammar—and you can, too.

Members of Ernest Shackleton’s crew grooved to a gramophone. Embiggenable. Explore at home.

DUE TO ANTARCTICA’S EXTREME WINTER, which includes four months of total darkness, polar explorers endured intense confinement in close quarters for long periods of time.

American pioneer Richard Byrd explained, “little things … have the power to drive even the most disciplined … to the edge of insanity. The ones who survive with a measure of happiness are those who can live profoundly off their intellectual resources, as hibernating animals live off their fat.”

How did the Antarctic explorers of the early 1900s survive tedium in the time long before the internet?


Music was vital to the sanity and welfare of the explorers. “It is necessary to be cut off from civilization … to realize fully the power music has to recall the past…to soothe the present and give hope for the future,” said one of the youngest members of the Terra Nova Expedition (1910-1913).

The Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (1902-04) included an official bagpiper. Admiral Byrd brought a phonograph to the Advance Base in 1934, calling music his “only real luxury.” When abandoning the slowly sinking ship Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s men were allowed to carry only two pounds of personal effects. But Shackleton insisted that meteorologist Leonard Hussey take his six-pound banjo along, saying, “It’s vital mental medicine, and we shall need it.”

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Presently it’s summer in Antarticia.

Breaking: President Donald Trump’s Actions Actually Have Dangerous Consequences

After spending more than four years spewing blatant falsehoods, glorifying violence, and dangerous misinformation, it seems President Trump is finally seeing the tangible consequences of his reckless actions, as right-wing protesters have stormed the United States Capitol in Washington D.C., a moment that will likely be remembered as one of the most terrifying and surreal moments in our nation’s history.

A protester has been killed. Several police officers have been injured. Explosives have been found at the RNC, with the DNC evacuating after receiving a suspicious package.

Amid the madness, other cops have even allegedly stopped to take selfies with the insurrectionists terrorizing our nation’s capitol. Because who doesn’t want an Instagram-able snap with individuals described as ‘domestic terrorists?”

As the dust settles, leaving us to grapple with this rage, confusion, and fear, we’ll start to rationalize the events of this gut-wrenching day as yet another event in the American story. Tomorrow morning, papers across the nation — and perhaps even the world — will publish countless think pieces, not too much unlike this one, questioning how our nation found itself at this terrifying crossroads, how we could have possibly prevented such a tragedy, and asking who, exactly is to blame.

RELATED: When First Invented, Everyone Hated Shopping Carts

For something that’s such a physically and financially huge pain in the ass, we don’t tend to give much thought to the miracle of refrigerators. What did people do before they could fill their own personal, stainless steel Hoth to the brim with hot dogs? Just eat all of their food right away?

Well, yeah, pretty much. In the 1930s, customers of newfangled self-service supermarkets could only buy as much as they could fit in their small, finicky iceboxes, but the technological advancements that made it feasible to put a refrigerator in every home that decade completely changed the way people shopped. Suddenly, they could buy weeks’ worth of food at a time — except they couldn’t. Stores only provided small wire baskets because until then, that’s all their customers needed.

Grocery kingpin Sylvan Goldman attempted several increasingly complicated solutions before he hit on the idea of the shopping cart. First, he allowed customers to fill up their baskets, leave them with a clerk, and lather, rinse, repeat until they were finished, and when that immediately proved unfeasible, he devised a railroad track that moved baskets alongside customers throughout the store. Finally, he realized he could just put a really big basket on wheels.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

RELATED: Republicans Own This Insurrection
Responsibility for the storming of the Capitol extends well beyond Trump.

The scene that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol yesterday—an insurrection in all of its ugliness, all of its violence, and all of its kaleidoscopic horror—is the responsibility of Donald Trump. But it doesn’t stop there.

It is also the responsibility of countless of his aides and supporters, those in right-wing media and Trump’s evangelical backers, “intellectuals” and pseudo-historians, Republicans in Congress and outside it, all of those who have stood with Trump at every moment in his corrupt and corrupting presidency. It is the responsibility of Trump allies who attacked those who warned that Trump was malicious and malignant; who said that he was an institutional arsonist who would do grave damage to the nation; who warned about his race-baiting, his constant provocations, the psychic delight he took in dividing Americans and stoking grievances; and who raised concerns because Trump’s sociopathic tendencies might lead him, and those who followed him, to very dark places.

President Trump is the architect of this insurrection, but so are his acolytes.

Donald Trump has been deformed and deranged for much of his life. It has been the pattern of his life to lie and to cheat, to intimidate and hurt others, to act without conscience, to show no remorse, and to make everything about himself. None of this was a secret when he ran for president, and certainly none of it was a secret once he became president. His viciousness, volatility, and nihilism were on display almost from the moment he took office. As president, he has acted just as one would have expected. He has never deviated from who he is.

But Trump couldn’t have done this by himself. He needed others in his party to defend him and support him, to make excuses for him and to go silent at key moral moments. He needed others to attack his critics, advance his conspiracy theories, and pretend that his lawlessness and impeachable crimes were perfectly fine.

RELATED: The Sun Is Up. Impeach and Convict.
What can we take away from yesterday’s coup attempt?

The U.S. government is relatively coup-proof because, like the president who heads its executive branch, it is bloated and sluggish, and due to its sheer inertia resistant to being jostled far out of position. That does not stop some from occasionally trying—and yesterday a crowd of deranged seditionists, encouraged by specific Republican officials, took a hard run at the government and tried to knock it down. It did not fall, and today the sun rose. Let’s see what we’ve learned.

(1) The president is still a coward. Donald Trump’s attempt on Saturday to hector Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into committing election fraud, released by The Washington Post, revealed that he believed every conspiracy theory about the election and—like some kind of idiot savant—had mastered even small details without developing any higher mental function. He really believes that dark forces have stolen his victory, and when he incites his followers to behave accordingly, he asks them to supply courage where his own is lacking. This limitation was always going to stop him from waging a civil war. A man who has spent his life avoiding situations that would demand physical courage, and despising those who have it, will be at his most cowardly in a moment like this.

Contrast his cowardice with the courage of some of the people he sent into battle on his behalf. Ashli Babbitt, 35, became the first martyr for the cretinous religion of QAnon. A 14-year veteran of the Air Force, she was shot point-blank by a plainclothes security officer while in the act of lunging over a barricade of furniture in an interior section of the Capitol. (She was at the front of an armed insurrectionist mob. That officer could reasonably expect that she was not lunging to shake his hand.) Lunging at a man who is pointing a gun at you is suicidally brave, and I suspect that Babbitt—like Trump, apparently—believed all the stupid tales she promoted. The difference is that she died for them, and around the same time, Trump spent nearly half an hour hiding from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Ed. You’ve arrived at the fold where my errant rambings dissolve from the stupid and segway into the ridiculous barely uninteresting at all things.

Danny Lyon’s Visions of a New York That No Longer Exists

Shot in 1967, Lyon’s photographs offer a more nuanced and human perspective of the destruction of the old lower Manhattan, one that is often paved over by history books.

Danny Lyon, “Washington Street. View north from Chambers Street” (1967). Embiggenable. Explore at home.

OVER THE COURSE OF 1967, Danny Lyon meticulously chronicled the large-scale demolition project taking place in his backyard, as his one-hundred-year-old neighborhood was razed to make way for New York’s transformation into a global financial center. Taken as a whole, his project wicks traces of the contemporaneous urban renewal debate that raged between community-based activism (Jane Jacobs) and top-down planning (Robert Moses). Simultaneously, each of the exhibit’s 76 black-and-white photographs offer a more nuanced and human perspective — one that is often paved over by history books.

Taking stock of the historical loss, the first section catalogues TriBeCa’s iconic cast-iron facades. Nineteenth-century structures near the Brooklyn Bridge, Washington Market, and West Street are rendered as probing portraits of their former inhabitants, whose traces linger on inside the empty apartment interiors. These photographs are as much documents of the spaces that were abandoned at the behest of expropriation as they are an elegy to the lives that former inhabitants lived inside of them.

USA, New York, 1967. A burner is lifted to cut the bolts in the cast-iron front of 82 Beeckman Street. The cast-iron is then smashed to pieces with a sledgehammer.

Gradually, the emphasis shifts towards labor, with intimate portraits of the demolition crew — their subjects occasionally framed by Playboy images hung in lockers. Nearby, wide-frame shots image workers dismantling the buildings by hand, literally brick-by-brick. Although these men are labeled “Housewreckers” in the wall text, the photographer reveals a paradoxical sense of awe evoked by the enormity of such an enterprise. Debates about urban renewal tend to assess what has been lost in order to evaluate what has been gained; by focusing instead on the physical process of destruction, Lyon bypasses the rationalist logic used by planners, bringing the immediate human toll of urban upheaval into the fold.

Ed. Click the link for a short slideshow of Danny Lyon’s work.

Insecure wheels: Police turn to car data to destroy suspects’ alibis

Looser privacy standards for vehicle data are a treasure chest of data for law enforcement.

Law enforcement agencies are finding a treasure trove of evidence in vehicles that they can use to solve crimes.

On June 26, 2017, the lifeless body of Ronald French, a bearded auto mechanic with once-twinkling eyes, was mysteriously found in a cornfield in Kalamazoo County, Michigan.

French, a grandfather of eight who always tried to help people “down on their luck,” his daughter Ronda Hamilton told NBC affiliate WOOD of Kalamazoo, had disappeared three weeks before. According to the police report, a cord had been wrapped around his neck, his face and his feet. He had been dragged behind a vehicle so forcefully that he had abrasions along his back, and his skull had been partly flattened. The medical examiner attributed French’s death to “homicidal violence.” But then his grieving family heard nothing about arrests.

For more than two years, Kalamazoo County sheriff’s detectives investigated French’s murder without making any arrests. Then, according to police records obtained by NBC News, one of the detectives learned of an emerging field — digital vehicle forensics — which focuses on extracting the treasure trove of data stored in an automobile’s onboard computers.

They returned to French’s 2016 black Chevy Silverado pickup truck, which had been stolen around the time he vanished, and discovered time-stamped recordings of someone else’s voice using the hands-free system to play Eminem on the radio at the time of French’s murder.

Sheessssh. First you need a burner phone to commit the act. Now it seems you’ll be needing a burner car to make your getaway as well.

POINT OF REFLECTION: Perhaps it was insensitive to the victim to be poking fun at criminal acts.

In a Whitney Museum Exhibition, Jewish Artists Go Unrecognized and Unexamined

It seems that, in reinscribing the Mexican muralists who were “written out” of American history, the curators of Vida Americana replaced one exclusion with another.

Diego Rivera, “Man, Controller of the Universe,” (1934) Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Embiggenable. Explore at home.

In February, 2020, the Whitney Museum of American Art opened Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945. A decade in the making, the exhibition strives (as stated on the museum’s website) to rewrite art history “by revealing the profound impact the Mexican muralists had on their counterparts in the United States,” inspiring American artists “to use their art to protest economic, social, and racial injustices.” Vida Americana garnered strong reviews praising the corrective it offers to the established narrative of American art during the first half of the 20th century as primarily influenced by European Modernism and striving toward abstraction. (New York Times critic Holland Cotter also hailed the exhibition’s timely response to “the build-the-wall mania that has obsessed this country for the past three-plus years.”)

When I saw Vida Americana, I made an intriguing discovery: a Yiddish sentence, faintly visible, on one of the exhibition’s major pieces, a full-scale reproduction of Diego Rivera’s 1934 mural “Man, Controller of the Universe.” In 1933, Rivera began a notorious earlier version of this mammoth work for Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center, until Nelson Rockefeller ordered the mural destroyed for its pro-Communist content. The lower right side of “Man, Controller of the Universe,” which is jam-packed with figures, includes a group of demonstrators, among them Leon Trotsky, Friedrich Engels, and Karl Marx. They hold a red banner that reads “Workers of the World Unite in the IVth International” in English, Spanish, Russian, and, in much smaller, faded letters, Yiddish.

Detail of Diego Rivera, “Man, Controller of the Universe” (1934), from left to right, Leon Trotsky, Bertram Wolfe, and Friedrich Engels hold a banner, reading “Workers of the World Unite in the IVth International” in English, Spanish, Russian (to the left of the detail), and Yiddish. Embiggenable.

Hidden in plain sight, this sentence exemplifies the extensive presence of Jewish artists whose works appear in Vida Americana but whose Jewishness goes unexamined — and unrecognized — in both the exhibition and its catalogue. The curators do discuss the significance of this galvanizing encounter between public art and radical politics for much smaller numbers of Black and Japanese American artists included in the exhibition. However, Vida Americana ignores the prominent and distinctive participation in this artistic moment by those Americans who were Jews. It seems that, in rewriting this chapter of art history by reinscribing artists who were “written out” of this narrative, the curators of Vida Americana replaced one exclusion with another. This omission is telling, not only for understanding American art of the period, but also for the larger public discussion of culture, identity, and politics in the United States today.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

After the unprecedented assault on democracy that took place in the Capitol Building today, Stephen Colbert kicks off his LIVE monologue with a message for cowardly Republican lawmakers who for five years have coddled the president’s fascist rhetoric: there will be a terrible price to pay.

THANKS to CBS and A Live Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

Seth Meyers discusses the surreal and horrifying scenes of an armed insurrection incited, directed and encouraged by Donald Trump.

THANKS to NBC and Late Night with Seth Meyers Live for making this program available on YouTube.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Here is me critical analysis of racoons. The ones that steal food, the ones that go into houses, yeah nah mostly the ones that are the dodgiest overall in the animal kingdom.

Kitten Miri drinks milk and Hana’s intense affection expression.


UFO report set to be released as a result of US emergency relief bill

A law buried in the 5,600-page emergency relief bill requires the US intel agencies to deliver an unclassified report on UFOs.

A report revealing more details about the US government’s taskforce researching Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), more commonly known as UFOs, is set to be released.

LAST WEEK THE COVID-19 RELIEF bill was signed by President Trump, committing the country to a $2.3 trillion (£1.7trn) pandemic aid package as positive cases continue to rise.

Buried within the bill’s 5,600 pages were a number of laws with little to do with the coronavirus pandemic, including one requiring the US intelligence services to submit an unclassified report on UFOs to the Senate intelligence committee within 180 days.

The report must include “a detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting collected or held” by almost all of the country’s intelligence agencies.

It must also include: “Identification of any incidents or patterns that indicate a potential adversary may have achieved breakthrough aerospace capabilities that could put United States strategic or conventional forces at risk.”

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Likely, if I find nothing more barely uninteresting at all to do.


ONE MORE ONE MORE THING: The Confederacy Finally Stormed the Capitol
And then, because the rioters were white, they were allowed to walk away. But just imagine if they had been Black.

Right-wing extremists climb the west wall of the the US Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

President Donald Trump should be impeached, removed from office, and then arrested for inciting his supporters to besiege and invade the US Capitol. At a speech he gave to a rally of his supporters right before Congress attempted to certify his Electoral College defeat, Trump told his people to go to the Capitol to “support” members of Congress objecting to the certification. He recited his long list of lies about the election, and then egged his people on by telling them that Vice President Mike Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.” He spoke for nearly two hours.

Not long afterward, his people breached the Capitol, stopped the certification process in the House and Senate, and forced Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to be taken to a secure location.

For me, that’s enough to charge him with a crime. Trump’s speech failed the Supreme Court’s “Brandenburg Test” (so named for the 1969 case Brandenburg v. Ohio), which determines when speech becomes an exhortation to violent action and loses its First Amendment protections. The test asks if the speech was “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” and the speech has to be “likely to incite or produce such action.” Speaking in “code” is no defense. Trump’s statements were directed to produce immediate lawlessness—and were likely to do so.

There’s also a statute: 18 U.S.C. Section 373 makes “solicitation to commit a crime of violence” a federal offense. The language there is: “Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony…solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct,” shall be imprisoned or fined or both.

Authorities would remove and arrest Trump—if he were Black. That’s not a guess; that is literally what has already happened to Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson. In 2016, at a protest in the aftermath of the police murder of Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge police arrested McKesson and charged him with incitement. He hadn’t said anything violent, but apparently one protester—one—threw a brick that injured a cop. McKesson was just the most visible organizer at the event, and so he got locked up.


BONUS READING: McGruff the Crime Dog

Ed. Soon, hopefully.

Good times!