Mixed Media

SXSW Dispatch: 17 Hours in Austin

| Fri Mar. 14, 2008 4:30 PM EDT

thurston.jpgAustin during SXSW is a whirlwind of tattoos, cigarette smoke, amplifiers, bratwurst, fliers, long lines, nonstop (loud) music, bad pizza, and a ton of local volunteers who are super friendly but don't often know the answer to your questions. It's chaotic, noisy, and exciting, and it never takes breaks. Here's how my first 17 hours here went:

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Would English Be Eleganter Without Feminists?

| Fri Mar. 14, 2008 2:15 PM EDT

little_five_points_1458528_l.jpgOver at the Weekly Standard, Yale computer science professor David Gelerntner thinks feminism has no place in the English language:

When students have been ordered since first grade to put "he or she" in spots where "he" would mean exactly the same thing…How can we then tell them, "Make every word, every syllable count!" They may be ignorant but they're not stupid.

He also complains that we're taught to use "'firefighter' where 'fireman' would mean exactly the same thing." I'm willing to concede "waiter" for "waitress," but I simply can't accept that "fireman" is superior to "firefighter." So even though my instincts were telling me that Gelerntner was cloaking sexism in the guise of linguistic purity, I paused to consider whether that "or she" appendage really is dragging us, and the English language, down the wrong path.

SXSW Dispatch: Why Lou Reed Hates Mp3s

| Fri Mar. 14, 2008 12:30 PM EDT
reed.jpgLou Reed reminds me a little bit of my grandmother. He's old, he's got bad posture and a New York accent, and he's a little pessimistic. But if you stick around long enough, he'll offer up some keen insight and make you laugh.

The rock singer-songwriter/guitarist, during a SXSW keynote speech at Austin's convention center Thursday, told a packed house that his favorite movie is The Bourne Ultimatum. Why? Because of the fight scenes.

Aggression seems to be a recurring theme for Reed. "Punk is aggressive, steel, street, action. All that young guy stuff," he said. "Where else is it gonna go? It's [music] or jail." He later became more self-reflective about his attitude and his music, adding, "I have a B.A. in dope. And a PhD in soul."

The SXSW Slog Begins

| Thu Mar. 13, 2008 3:40 PM EDT

sxsw.jpgAfter listening to our flight attendant—a former auctioneer from Dallas—rattle off emergency escape instructions in double time and then tell jokes about her co-workers for the entire flight (one was a former Miss Dallas, the other Southwest's steward of the year), I arrived in Austin, Texas, in high spirits.

I'm here to cover SXSW, Austin's ginormous film-music-interactive festival that draws (last I heard) about 10,000 folks from around the country (and abroad) to the Texas capitol.

Times Calls Out Spitzer's Boo on Use of "Boo"

| Thu Mar. 13, 2008 3:02 PM EDT

Buried in the New York Times' outing of "Kristen"—a.k.a Ashley Alexandra Dupré—a.k.a. Eliot Spitzer's boo—comes this strange line:

On [Dupré's MySpace] Web page was a recording of what she described as her latest track, "What We Want," an amateurish, hip-hop inflected rhythm and blues tune that asks, "Can you handle me, boy?" and used some dated slang, calling someone her "boo."

Now, to pick apart this less than charitable and, frankly, catty article would take quite a while. But for now, let's address the linguistic issue here. Opinion at MoJo tends toward "boo" being not only current, but timeless. Urban Dictionary traces the origins of "boo" all the way back to the adoption of the French "beau" at the time of Caribbean colonization. Fast forward a couple of centuries and Tupac deployed "boo" in "It Ain't Easy" off his 1995 Me Against the World album. A full decade later, the term was still in use, as Usher's "My Boo" (feat. Alicia Keys) won a Grammy for best R&B performance in 2005 (see below). The next year, Brooke Valentine sang "He can call me his boo / But he call me dope girl, cuz I got that oooh." So it's pretty clear "boo" is here to stay. But did anyone really trust the Times as an arbiter of slang?

—Justin Elliott

Spitzer Gets Pimped Out on Nation's T-Shirts

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 7:36 PM EDT

mojo-photo-spitzershirt.jpgFeeling like the Eliot Spitzer scandal isn't getting enough attention around the office or your local watering hole? Well, why not remind everyone of the eternal hypocrisy of our nation's elected officials in that most American of ways: with an amusing, topical t-shirt. Besides, your "Larry Craig Wide Stance" shirt is getting a little tattered.

First up, Busted Tees' "Client 9" shirt (pictured at left) is already on sale, but won't ship until March 21st, by which point one assumes there will already be another government sex scandal taking this one's place and you'll have to get a whole new t-shirt. It's so hard to keep up!

After the jump, fun with puns!

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Neato Viddies: McLaughlin Groove, Hulu, CSS, Justice

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 5:07 PM EDT

First up, the still-baffling and still-awesome "McLaughlin Groove," Andrew W.K.'s ode to the rollicking political screamfest, gets a video from Salon's Scott Bateman. Funny, Andrew looks a lot like Mimi did in his Low video–is Bateman the Cathy Guisewite of money-hemorrhaging web sites?
Andrew W.K. - "McLaughlin Groove"

Next, NME is reporting that a homemade music video to Sao Paulo's iPod-shilling "Music is My Hot Hot Sex" has become the most-watched clip on YouTube, racking up over 100 million views. Really? Is that more than Obama Girl?
CSS - "Music is My Hot Hot Sex"

After the jump: get fierce, and play name that logo!

Lyrical Analysis Proves New Portishead Album a Tad Mopey

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 6:08 PM EDT

mojo-photo-portisheadthirdcover.jpgBristol, UK-based trip-hop combo Portishead are known for two of the bleakest albums of the late '90s, Dummy and Portishead, whose claustrophobic, atonal soundscapes drew from jazz, soundtracks and cabaret. The music's chill was matched by singer Beth Gibbons' angst-ridden lyrics—witness 1997's "Only You," that kicks off the fun with the line "We suffer every day." Well, good morning to you too Beth. So, the band have been "on hiatus" for nearly ten years, but their comeback album Third has just leaked onto the intertubes. One wonders: have the intervening years lightened them up at all?

To be blunt: oh, hell no. On the contrary, they seem to have spent their time off in an underground factory/torture chamber in Antarctica, returning to the surface only to be betrayed by objects of affection and promptly sent back down to their cold, echoey prison. Lyrics sheets aren't yet available, so I poured a stiff drink and listened to the whole album, taking notes, and checking in with a counselor every few minutes. After the jump, a chart of all significant words that make more than one appearance.

Do You Live in a Wal-Mart State or a Starbucks State?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 4:50 PM EDT

starbucks.jpg

By way of Columbia University via the all-things-rural blog Daily Yonder come these interesting (albeit unsurprising) maps showing Wal-Mart and Starbuck density, state by state. (The darker the state, the higher the number of stores per capita.) Not too many surprises here. As you can see, the Southeast has the highest concentration of Wal-Marts, while Starbucks are dense on the West Coast. Also unsurprising is the red state/blue state correlation. As Daily Yonder points out:

Blue states don't have many Wal-Marts (except for New Hampshire). Red states don't have many Starbucks (except for Colorado).

But is it really a fair comparison? Sure, both are giant chains, but one sells coffee and the other sells, uh, everything. The Northeasterner in me thinks it'd be a whole lot more interesting to compare Starbucks to its regional arch-nemesis, Dunkin' Donuts.

Bjork "Outburst" Inspires China to Crack Down on Foreign Artists

| Mon Mar. 10, 2008 5:58 PM EDT

mojo-photo-bjork2.jpgThere has been a severe reaction from Chinese authorities after Icelandic singer Björk delved into a bit of a touchy subject for China during a concert in Shanghai. The singer ended her performance with the song "Declare Independence," and chanted "Tibet! Tibet!" as the song wound to a close with the lyrics "raise your flag." Subtle. The Chinese Ministry of Culture issued a somewhat petulant statement, saying "Some artist deliberately turned a commercial show into a political performance, which not only broke Chinese law but hurt Chinese audiences' feelings." No word on whether they stuck out their lower lips and kicked the ground a little. Good thing she didn't mention that their rivers are looking a little red lately.

Now Reuters is reporting that the Ministry of Culture may crack down on foreign performers speaking their minds in China, issuing this statement: