Archive for October, 2007

i <3 radiohead

Jon Hicks' cover art

(cover art by Jon Hicks)

Radiohead has been one of my favorite bands since I first adopted “Paranoid Android*” as my anthem of teenage angst back in 1997. But with In Rainbows, they’ve gone and outdone themselves, at least in my esteem. (I have this sneaking suspicion that the phrase “outdone themselves” usually has a negative connotation, but I’m certainly feeling completely positive about them.) Not only have they put out an album that looks to be very good (though I’m still not convinced it beats OK Computer or Hail To The Thief), but they’ve also chosen to distribute it themselves, over the internet, for whatever price one deems fit. Including no price at all. Really. I paid $13 myself, thinking it worth at least the cost of an iTunes album, plus a little more to show my love. I can’t find the article, but I did read about one person who paid a whopping 100 euros for it – guess he has more love and/or cash for them than I do! Anyhow, I paid my 9 euros and change, got the confirmation, downloaded, and have been enjoying it since.

Radiohead’s bold move definitely pleased the anti-big-business, anti-RIAA, open source loving and tech geek in me. They did so even if they didn’t exactly mean to make some huge statement; this is what guitarist Johnny Greenwood had to say about the band’s motivations for releasing the record in this manner:

Just getting it out quickly. It was kind of an experiment as well; we were just doing it for ourselves and that was all. People are making a big thing about it being against the industry or trying to change things for people but it’s really not what motivated us to do it. It’s more about feeling like it was right for us and feeling bored of what we were doing before.

It’s just interesting to make people pause for even a few seconds and think about what music is worth now. I thought it was an interesting thing to ask people to do and compare it to whatever else in their lives they value or don’t value.

Fittingly, there’s some open source cover art creation going on over at Jon Hicks’ blog, as the official cover art has not yet been released. The cover art up top is Jon’s design.

* To listen to OGG files (and play just about any other audio or video file you can find), get the open source, totally free VLC player.

Jena, New York

At a Brooklyn rally for the Jena 6 on September 20, many speakers spoke of “Jena, New York,” referencing the fact that egregious and often violent acts of racism and injustice occur every day right here in NYC, pointing out that this sort of racism is not just an anachronistic, small-town Southern ill.

That phrase and concept was immediately called to mind this morning when I got the news that a prominent Black professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College found a noose hanging on her office door yesterday. From the Columbia Spectator:

On Tuesday, an African American professor at Teachers College, the nation’s top-ranked education school, came to her office to find a noose hanging on the door. Today students clad in black will rally in protest of this hate crime at 2 p.m. in front of Arthur Zankel hall before a town hall meeting at TC.

The hate crime comes after a series of politically and racially charged events that have occurred over the past two weeks including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial appearance, the discovery of racist and Isloamophobic graffiti, and the announcement of an appearance by conservative author David Horowitz, CC ’59, for Islamo-fascism awareness week.

With the nooses found on the University of Maryland’s campus in early September, it seems like we have a new racist trend on our hands. But while the fallout from Jena’s nooses has been much more severe, violent, and endangering of the victims of racism, it is important to note that these two other prominent incidents have occurred on college campuses – one an Ivy League institution in a “liberal” urban center. I think some people might be tempted to write off Jena’s racism as something endemic to “backwater” Southern whites, but that view is inflected with classism and regionalism, trivializes the state of racism in this country, and is proven patently false by incidents like these.