Keep Your Eyes Peeled.

My Home Is A Stage

Posted in Uncategorized by johnnysimon on February 25, 2009
Vio Mire playing at Bruce Manor

Annikki Dawn playing at Bruce Manor

What one names their home is kinda of a big deal here in Athens.  No one sheds any tears, but solid amounts of thought go into peoples’ decisions.  Two years ago, before we had even moved into our house, my roommates had already settled on the name Bruce Manor.  It’s a combination of Bruce Banner (the Hulk) and Wayne Manor (home of Batman).  I believe the logic goes: both Batman and the Hulk are great and our house is painted green on the outside.

That being said our house has become a venue for touring musicians to come and play.  We’ve gotten some pretty small (and in some cases terrible) acts, who are traveling the country to come play a show in our living room or basement, and in most cases spend the night.  We’ve also had legends come and stop in as well.  The man who comes to mind most in Michael Hurley.  He’s 68, and has performed folk music all over the country since the 60’s.  He’s been covered by Cat Power and influenced musicians like Calexico, Lucinda Williams and his music was even used in HBO’s Deadwood.

It’s odd how much a show in your living room changes your perception of where you live.  I love it, I really do.  But having to almost leap over people in the room I usually reserve for eating breakfast and reading the newspaper can be jarring.  Attached is a photo taken in my living room last month from a small show in my living room.  The act was called Annikki Dawn and they’re a traveling act from Providence, RI.  This show was beautiful, simple, intimate and probably one of my favorite ones we’ve had so far.

Next month we’re hosting Phospohrescent, which should be amazing and if everything works out, we will be having the front man from the now defunct band Pedro the Lion performing in April.

Rupert Murdoch Still Loves newspapers

Posted in Uncategorized by johnnysimon on February 24, 2009
The New York Times

The New York Times

With everything that is going on with the news industry, it’s interesting to see how that is playing with one of the media’s largest barons. In a recent piece from the New York Times, it appears as though Rupert Murdoch’s love of print may be his Achilles’ heel.

He owns one of the largest cable news channels in America as well as media empire that stretches throughout the English speaking work and beyond. But them man still likes his morning paper. Charming for some, but for shareholders, they aren’t as pleased.

A quick excerpt:

The declining economy and the sinking fortunes of print publications have placed in stark relief Mr. Murdoch’s love of newspapers and his deal to acquire Dow Jones just before the recession set in. Mr. Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation, paid more than $5 billion for an asset that generated about $100 million in operating income last year, a price that now looks like a staggering overpayment. Mr. Murdoch declined to comment for this article.

We’re There

Posted in Uncategorized by johnnysimon on February 20, 2009

If you thought “The Truman Show” was some odd movie about some not so distant reality where we watch people’s lives unfold for our entertainment, then you probably looked at the last decade of reality television (MTV’s Real World preceded all these shows but I’m placing the reality TV boom at the start of Survivor ) with a smirk, seeing us all becoming Trumanoids. We all have some sort of reality vice. I’m mostly a Top Chef fan. And I try to draw the line there. But it is incredible how far we have come from laughing at the bizarre notion of watching someone’s life happne on our TV sets to well…this:

From The New York Time Friday February 20, 2009:

LONDON — Before television shined its warped light on her, Jade Goody was surely destined for a life of hardship and obscurity. Crude-talking, hard-drinking, overweight, barely educated, in debt, the child of drug addicts, she appeared on the reality show “Big Brother” in 2002 as a kind of token lowlife.

But something about Ms. Goody, then 21, struck a chord — even if it was a patronizing one — in a restless nation searching for ways to allay its millennial boredom. She became a bona fide media star, a working-class Paris Hilton. Britons eagerly devoured every detail of her life, no matter how banal. They worked out to her exercise videos, bought her perfume, read her autobiography and, when she made racist remarks about an Indian actress on “Celebrity Big Brother” in 2007, angrily turned against her.

Now they are watching her die.

Ms. Goody, who has two young sons, learned she had cervical cancer last August, on camera, as she appeared in the Indian version of “Big Brother.”

The cancer has since spread to her liver, bowel and groin; on Friday, her doctors told her there was nothing more they could do.

And then she told the British public.

“I’ve lived my whole adult life talking about my life,” she explained on Sunday in The News of the World, one of the media outlets that have bought the rights to her end-of-life story. “I’ve lived in front of the cameras. And maybe I’ll die in front of them.”

This is reality television carried out to its most extreme, grotesque conclusion, one not even envisioned in the film “The Truman Show” all those years ago. The question of why, exactly, the story is so compelling — how to negotiate the line between poignant and voyeuristic, whether newspapers are exploiting Ms. Goody or she is exploiting them — has twisted the media into knots, even as they provide daily updates on Ms. Goody’s deteriorating condition and state of mind.

The most interesting part of the article is that the reporter, and many media critics, are struggling to find out who is taking more advantage of the situation.  Are the tabloids and TV stations taking as much as they can from this woman who has lived most of her adult life in the spotlight?  Or is Jade the one to blame for trying to make as much off of this event as possible.  Later in the article, it is reported that Jade has sold the rights to her wedding to OK! magazine.

To address this, I turn to my perennial favorite, Ricky Gervais, one of the funniest men alive.  If you haven’t seen his show “Extras” well, it is incredible.  In the series finale, Ricky’s character Andy  has had widespread success starring in a base, mindless sitcom which has received huge ratings.  The only problem is that is not what Andy wants.  He has risen from the role of an extra working for little money in the backgrounds of scenes, to the starring role of a major network sitcom.  Frustrated with the wrong kind of success, he is asked a question, “do you want to have integrity, or do you want to be rich and famous?”  He picks famous and find himself on  “Celebrity Big Brother”  What follows is him slowly breaking down, having resigned himself to the lowest of low that entertainment has to offer.  He finds himself surrounded by people clawing their way through show business, sacrificing their humanity for just one more shot at fame.  Please watch the end to the series finale, its one of the best moments television has created in the past decade.

“I’m telling you, it was the Wild West”

Posted in Uncategorized by johnnysimon on February 18, 2009

I just read a truly astounding article by George Packer in last week’s edition of The New Yorker. It’s a fairly long piece, but it describes in incredible detail the free for all that was the real estate bubble in Florida, one of the states most severely affected by the recent economic downturn. The recession is hurting every corner of America by now, but it has hit Florida in a fairly unique way because Florida is one of the few states in the Union not to have a state income tax. As stated in the article:

Florida is one of only nine states without an income tax – the state constitution bans it – and its taxes on corporations and financial transactions have been gutted with exemptions. The state depends for revenue on real-estate deals and sales taxes. In 2005 the LeRoy Collins Institute, at Florida State University, released a report warning that the state budget was over dependent on the housing boom and would soon experience deep shortfalls.

Beyond simply having laws in place that set up the system for failure, the amount of shady deals and laissez-faire policies going on in the state are pretty amazing.  I’m not going to try and preach economics, because I haven’t studied that at all.  But looking at the facts…the story is astounding.

Some other choice quotes.

Nearly everyone you met around Tampa [in 2005] had a Realtor license or a broker’s license or was a title agent.  Alex Sink, the state’s chief financial officer and a Democrat, said, ” When the yardman comes and says he’s not going to mow your yard anymore because he’s going to become a mortgage broker, that is a sure sign that something is wrong.”

Beyond simply telling the story of what went wrong, I was struck by the little glimpses of humanity in a story that can become a tale of dollars and cents.

The Hillsborough County sheriff reported tent villages full of homeless sprouting behind strip malls, along with an outbreak of strange new crimes.  Carl Grooms, a strawberry grower in Plant city, explained, “The economic situation is so bad that you’ve got a low-rent element coming in that will steal anything.  They steal our copper from out churches, they strip the wiring out of trailers.”

Angie Harris moved into a subdivision called Tanglewood Preserve after many of the homes were foreclosed on.  She was able to buy a home on the cheap since home prices had fell.  Her new neighbors, who could not sell their homes, have approached her with hostility.

Easy credit and mistrust are two sides of the same economy.  This explained, at least in part, why Angie Harris avoided her neighbors in Tanglewood Preserve, and why the shunned her: she made them feel that they’d been duped.

Any reactions from Florida?  I haven’t been in the state since 2003, so I haven’t seen any of this first hand.  I’m eager to hear some first hand accounts.

Here’s a video with George Packers with some video of the area of photographs by Robert Polidori

Things I’ve enjoyed recently.

Posted in Uncategorized by johnnysimon on February 18, 2009

Something I’ve been looking at or doing recently to stay sane during the winter:

1. BAgnewsNotes

An extremely insightful blog that deconstructs and examines news photographs in terms of their relevance, socio-political meaning, symbolism etc.  It’s really incredible to see how much someone can glean from a single photograph.  It gives me hope that single images matter and can inject layers of meaning into a frame, so long as people are there to think about it.

2.  My professors.

It just so happens that this quarter I happen to like every professor I have.  I even like the TAs.  I’ve been blessed with four passionate professors who all have their own odd senses of humor and REALLY know their stuff.

3.  Books.

Seriously.  I was such a slackers in high school.  Honestly, books are sweet.  Currently reading Don Delillo’s White Noise for class and am enjoying it immensely.  I had a chance to read a man by the name of Randolph Bourne in my class on the history of American cultural rebellion, and I must say he was decades ahead of his time.  My good buddy Noah just through up an edit of photos based around one of Bourne’s essay “The Experimental Life”.  I’m just gonna say read this . It’s dense stuff, but the amazing thing about his writing is so much of it resonates perfectly in the rise of youth culture in the 50s and 60s (the Beats and then the Hippies) but his most renowed writings were penned between 1913-1918.

4.  Chicken Soup.

SERIOUSLY.  I just made a homemade batch last night and had a bowl for lunch.  This is something that cannot be overrated.

5. Fela Kuti

The man swings.  I love this music.

That’s all. I’ve got some film to scan, more pictures will come soon.

Odd and Ends

Posted in Uncategorized by johnnysimon on February 18, 2009

It has been a long, not terrible cold, not terribly eventful winter. I find myself covered in books and reading, not taking as many pictures as I’ve like. But there is room for some.

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From a recent assignment about the university’s medical facilities for Athletes getting an upgrade. This is Tommy Freeman, one of the big guns on the Ohio University basketball team getting checked out before a game last weekend.

And since I never really put these pictures up, here are some from winter break, taken with my little compact Canon G9.

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Ross.

Madeline Eich with NoahRab.

Madeline Eich with NoahRab.

My girlfriend's grandparent's awesome house in Indianapolis.

My girlfriend's grandparent's awesome house in Indianapolis.

I made some bagels on a whim, I will make them again as soon as possible.

I made some bagels on a whim, I will make them again as soon as possible.