It only took me about 39 listens to really start enjoying the new Wilco CD, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which, funnily enough, is the same number of outstanding used CDs being sold on the Amazon site. It’s an unusually high number for an album that received critical reviews from every known reviewer in the universe. But it’s a difficult album, and I don’t blame folks for wanting to get rid of it. It’s a combination of a high-art Beatles concept album and a minimalist commentary on Radiohead’s dark symphonies. It also doesn’t flow very organically, feeling as if the songs popped out of the daydream of a lysurgic acid affcionado. A strange and baroque little album that I’m glad I took out again, dusted off, and replayed.
As you probably well know, it’s always a struggle keeping up with work, life, and new things to look at. I’ve also been unable to really keep up my long-term project of showing artists and writers “of extreme vision” on The Site at MANOVERBOARD.
But there is some good news in the mix — a new artist will be featured very soon — an extremely talented painter who recently received a NYFA Award.
We went to Jones Beach on Friday, July 4th, 2003, a.k.a. Independence Day, and I put suntan lotion everywhere but my back. Boy, that was dumb. I now feel like I have a fried pancake permanently affixed to my back. It’s not fun but it can be funny. For instance, taking a shower this morning, I could increase the temperature 10 degrees on my front and decrease it 10 degrees on my back. Also, I can see the effects of walking without my moving my arms; they’re minimal. Lastly, I’ve found that I’m getting a good deal of work done because work requires sitting while sleeping requires lying on my back.
I realize one irony that I left out of yesterday’s unironic post: The FTC is using the Internet, the mass medium of choice for pornographers, hucksters, and political activists alike (and, oddly, these groups don’t belong together in any other communication medium), to fundamentally regulate telephone marketers. Of course, there’s a half-operational and half-marketed telephone system (the number is 1-888-382-1222) that allows consumers to opt out of telephone marketing systems. But it’s the Net that took in 10 million individual opt-outs during the first week of the the Do Not Call Registry’s existence. It would be interesting if the FTC ended up using a different medium (e.g., cellphones?) to allow consumers to opt out of email spam.
As much as attention as the FTC’s new Don’t Call Me, Please, Telemarketers initiative is getting (full disclosure: I signed up for it today and it was extremely easy and frighteningly simple to give away to the government my two telephone numbers) in the news, there is an interesting parallel to this story and the story around spam and spamming, privacy and free speech.
Telephones have been around for about 8 times longer than spam (in my estimation), so certainly it seems time to ask telemarketing companies to leave consumers alone if they so desire. But the question is, how will the Federal Government, likely within the next few years, deal with companies who deliver massive amounts of unwanted emails to consumers. The philosophical difference between telephones and the Internet is a fascinating one. The latter is still more “real,” more intrusive, always-on, and is critical to the privacy and communication of daily living. The latter, however, is none of the above but it’s moving quickly in that direction. Telephones and their “addresses” are simple to pinpoint but it is difficult for a marketer to connect a consumers’ potential interest with an service or good based on telephone history alone. Intelligent Internet marketers, on the other hand, have tremendous amounts of data (both public and private) about our consuming lives, making it all the more difficult for the Fed to interfere.
At what point does the FTC intervene in spam? At the consumer’s computer, at the desk of the marketer, or at the server sending the stuff out. It’s extremely complicated, and while I’m glad that Microsoft et. al. are getting involved in attenuating spam, which admittedly is a horned demon, my fear is that privacy and freedom of speech are also quickly being curtailed by the urge to stop the marketers. The line between not letting companies call or spam you and not letting people call or spam you can be very, very thin.