It’s true! I have my very own Tumblr site and, thanks to Rin, it has unicorns! I don’t update this blog nearly as much as I’d like to, but I often find images, videos and sound clips that I’d like to share. These small bits seem awkward as full blog posts, but are perfectly suited for Tumblr. I hope you continue to come here, but that you also check out the more frequently updated, miniblog-like scrapbookesque monster I keep there. Cheers!
After a five month stretch of unemployment in London which ended with me having to move back to Chicago, I’m very pleased to announce that I found a brilliant new role within a week and a half of returning. Starting today, I’ll be the Marketing Web Application Developer at National-Louis University. Wish me luck!
As my regular readers are well aware, until recently I worked at Design UK, a small design agency based in Soho, London. I enjoyed a fulfilling career as the developer of their CMS product, LavaSuite CMS, until the company faced extreme financial problems in September 2009 and were forced to make almost a quarter of their staff redundant. One of those people was me.
We all know that the world economy is in a rather unfortunate place at the moment, so redundancies are a sadly common occurrence these days. My case was more tragic than most, however, because I am a US national on a work permit that only allowed me to work for Design UK. When I was made redundant, I had a brief window during which I could try to find another UK-based company to sponsor my visa. That task proved impossible in the end and I was forced to say goodbye to all of my London friends and move home to America, homeless and jobless. My wife had to quit her job, because her right to work was tied to mine, and we had to put moving expenses for our belongings and flights home on my credit card. Due to this redundancy, I am now in debt in excess of £4000.
I’ve only been back in the States for two days, but I’m already getting back on my feet. I had a job interview today that went really well and I’m confident that I will find a fantastic new role soon. Nevertheless, the pain of being severed from the life I made for myself as an immigrant in the United Kingdom still exists. I was quickly getting over it until this appeared in my Monster job alerts today:
ColdFusion + Java Developer at Design UK, London, W1B 5LZ
Fast growing independent digital agency is looking for an enthusiastic, experienced, self motivated ColdFusion and Java developer to join our Product team to work on eCommerce and CMS systems.
Ideal candidate would have experience in developing CMS solutions. The core of the role will be CF development, but you will be involved in broader scope of technology. Knowledge of general Computer Science is a big plus too.
I stared at the screen in disbelief as the reality hit me like a punch in the stomach: the company that made me redundant and forced my move back to my home country was now hiring for that same job only five months later. The company that put me in debt after it promised me bonuses every six months but never gave me nor any of my colleagues one was now looking to hire for the very same roles it cut less than half a year ago.
Is this fair? Well, obviously not. Is it even legal? I’d be shocked if it were.
There’s nothing I can do to ever reclaim the life I just lost. There’s nothing I can do to reclaim the money I owe because of Design UK’s dodgy, possibly illegal employment practices. My story is over, but I’m worried about the ColdFusion developers that apply for a job at this “fast growing independent digital agency”, because the last time I checked, paraphrasing “made one quarter of the staff redundant” as “fast growing” is a stretch even for a creative writer like myself.
If you stumbled upon this post because you’re researching your application for this role at Design UK, please take the time to read the past several posts on this blog to familiarize yourself with my experiences during my final days at this agency. Despite the pain and hurt they have caused me, I had hoped they would sort themselves out and get their business working again. No matter how many numbers they could hope to show me now, however, I cannot believe that my round of redundancies was above board and that in five short months the company is now doing amazingly well. As much as I would like to assume the best in people, I cannot come to any other conclusion than the fact that I was shafted. I don’t know why, but I was.
My sincere advice to any self-respecting, professional developer, unfortunately has to be this: avoid this lying, insincere agency like the plague. If you got this job, they would most likely do the same thing to you that they did to me. Nothing can fix what I lost as a result of their actions, but if I can help another person like myself avoid a similar fate, perhaps what I experienced didn’t occur in vain.
UPDATE: After examining the list of visitors to this site, I found a number of recent hits from a Design UK server (duk.designuk.com). It seems as though they Googled me on January 29th and then came here, which coincidentally is the day that they posted my old job on Monster. They’ve visited repeatedly since then and seem to be particularly fond of this post. Although Googling me and reading my site on the day they reposted my old job certainly seems suspicious (as in, “hmmm, let’s make sure he’s left the country and can’t easily bring legal action against us”), I must say, I’m well chuffed at the increase in site traffic. Ta!
Welcome to the third instalment of our saga, wherein our hero runs out of options and is forced to move back to his hometown with no money, no job and no hope. Well, there was the PJ Media Romanian money laundering option, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Yesterday began with my first talking therapy session with an NHS counsellor. When I explained my current situation—how Design UK unjustly made me redundant and how PJ Media completely botched every attempt they made at procuring a work permit for me, resulting in my need to move back to America—she noted that I still sounded hopeful that something would work out to allow me to remain in the UK. I quickly clarified, “Oh no, I’m sorry. There’s no saving this situation. I’m moving back to Chicago on 1 February, I just haven’t fully accepted this yet. Any hope you hear in my voice is simply denial.”
Indeed, this is the plan. On 1 February 2010, Rin and I will board a one-way flight to Chicago with our two cats, Chloe and Toulouse. We have purchased extra baggage allowances for several suitcases which will contain all our clothes and a few household items like a pot and pan for cooking and some forks, as we’ve learned from one international move already that you don’t want to wait for the boat with all your boxes on it to arrive two months later before you eat. As it’s an early flight, I’ll leave in darkness, with my life in my suitcase. I’ll leave like a dirty fucking immigrant, the same way I came.
The cost of the flights and the excess baggage was approximately $1,200 (USD). The cost of shipping the rest of our belongings by boat will be close to £1,600 (GBP). All of this went on my credit card.
On 18 December 2009, shortly after I posted my last entry, I received a telephone call from the person who would have been my future boss at PJ Media in Marlow. He apologised profusely for completely fucking up my work permit application yet again and said that he had a new option that just might save me. He apparently spoke with someone at the Home Office who helped him find a loophole: if they could somehow off-shore my salary, they could employ me straight away, although technically it would be in a legal grey zone that could risk my deportation. As they had a company office in Romania, they decided they could have me start on Monday, 21 December 2009 as a contractor by simply paying from their budget into the Romanian office’s budget and then paying me from that. Then, once they could properly sponsor my visa in late January, they would, and I’d be totally legal. Come again?
In order to work in the United Kingdom, I require a work permit sponsored by the company that employs me. In order to simply live in the United Kingdom, I require what is called “leave to remain”. When you visit as a tourist from the United States, you are granted leave to remain as a visitor, and generally that can last up to 90 days. When you’ve been living in the United Kingdom for several years on a work permit that ended a few months ago, you can be fairly certain that you no longer possess anything resembling proper leave to remain. As I considered his offer, I knew that if my acceptance put me in a legal grey zone, I would probably occupy a space closer to the black, illegal, should-be-deported edge of that gradient than the white, legal, upstanding citizen side.
I told him I’d have to discuss it with my wife and that I’d ring him back on Sunday. The discussion with Rin mostly involved the words “money laundering scheme”, “illegal”, “dodgy” and “no”. Can you blame her? If it was just me making the decision, I’d have done it. This should give you some idea of who the most sensible person is in this relationship.
When Sunday came around and I had to ring with my answer, I told him that we had no choice but to return to the United States. I told him that I’d already put my family through enough of a struggle with this and that I couldn’t risk our deportation and whatever potential loss of our belongings and our cats that would entail. Nevertheless, I added that I was desperate for money. I said I could work for them as a contractor for a few days each week until my end of January departure, after which point I would work for them remotely from the States as a freelancer. He said that he would need to discuss this option with his colleagues the next day, adding that “my decision” was unfortunate.
In fact, through the rest of our conversation, he kept referring to my return to the States as “my decision”. One thing I was too shocked to clarify with him at the time was that nothing in the past few months has felt very much like “my decision”, least of all this. I was hired by a major corporation (owned by “Dragons’ Den” star Peter Jones) for a job that said that they would have my work permit sorted within a month or two. It dragged out so long that I ran out of money, then was given an illegal option as my last hope. Apparently upon deciding that deportation was rather unfashionable these days, I came to “my decision”. My fucking decision.
Although he said he’d have to discuss it with his colleagues the next day, I received a call at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning, for which a voicemail was left asking me to come to Marlow as soon as I could that day. I didn’t listen to the message until 12.30 p.m., at which point it seemed silly to spend two hours getting to Marlow for only 2 or 3 hours of work. I rang back and left a message indicating that I’d plan on coming in the next day and would be there first thing in the morning so we could get started planning how to get the most out of the next few weeks of work.
That evening, the boss rang to tell me not to bother coming in at all. Apparently, in the time between his 7.30 a.m. urgent voice mail instructing me to come into the office for work and the end of the day, he had spoken with his colleagues and they decided that there was no way I could be of use to them unless I was going to always be in their office. He said that unfortunately the role had no room for telecommuting, which was really odd, because earlier that day, it did.
The extent to which I’ve been fucked about by employers and potential employers in England is shocking. My first job here promised me the moon and gave me Sweet Fanny Adams. They said I’d learn new programming languages and help craft cutting edge social software applications, but what they really meant was that they’d stagnate my existing skill set and have me reskinning sub-standard web sites which they had produced several years earlier. My second job gave me two stellar employee reviews, noting that I performed so well that they were hard-pressed to find areas in which I could improve, then my boss quit and my new manager put me at the top of his redundancy list.
It’s almost a shame that I never got to see what the third job would have been like, considering it started with a money laundering offer and all.
This is the view from the kitchen window of my flat in Kensal Green in the afternoon. Soon after this was taken, the sun would set, as it’s winter now and the days have grown quite short. It’s a view I’ve become rather accustomed to seeing since I was made redundant. The chimneys, the Victorian rooftops, the vacant sky. It’s beautiful and sad. It comforts me and it torments me. I want to work, however it’s December and I’m still waiting on the work permit that my new job promised me by October.
Back in October when the visa didn’t come and hit its first delay, I told them very truthfully that I only had enough money to last me through November. I was assured that once I started working for them, I’d be given an advance to help pay my rent and bills, so I waited. What else could I do?
November came and they realized that the company that they had hired to work on my visa application had actually done nothing at all with it. In other words, in late November, I was told that all the waiting I had done up until that point was in vain: no progress whatsoever had been made. They assured me that now they were taking matters into their own hands and would push this forward immediately.
For this company, getting me to work there is a two-step process. First, they need to be able to sponsor a foreign worker. When I first accepted the position, I was told they already had this approval in place. That was quite sadly wrong. Second, I need to apply for the work permit to work for them. Once those two steps have been completed, I’m cleared to work.
When I say that nothing had been done by late November, I mean nothing: they weren’t even allowed to sponsor a foreign worker yet. Immediately they submitted their application to be a sponsor. I was told this would take several weeks. Today, 18 December 2009, was the day they were supposed to have this authorization. Two days ago, however, I was contacted by my recruiter and told of the latest hiccup: the company had forgotten to post the job publicly with a Job Centre, which they needed to do in order for me to apply for a work permit for that position. I was told this week that they did that immediately and that now I would have to wait until 12 January 2010 to apply for my work permit. My permit application, if I’m lucky, could get expedited and I could start work for them in late January.
The trouble is, I barely have any money. Since the bad news of mid-November, I’ve been putting every expense I can on credit. This debt will haunt me for years to come, but it’s helping me survive now, when I’m not even sure if I’ll have years to come. Rent is, probably thankfully, something you can’t put on a credit card.
Since I’ve been putting so much on credit, I can afford to pay my rent for January, but that’s it. They now say that I’ll have this job by late January and that they will advance me February rent once I start working for them, but if another unforeseen glitch occurs, I’m completely screwed. I’ll be unable to pay my rent and I’ll face eviction. I’ll have to pack up all my belongings as fast as possible, secure international movers within days and also buy last minute plane tickets for my wife and my cats and put those on credit as well.
It’s looking like my hand is forced to make a decision now. I need to buy late January plane tickets to my home country by next week, otherwise they’ll be insanely expensive. But is that the best choice? I have a job that wants to hire me, so they say, waiting for me here, but I have nothing at home. Going back in late January means staying with my wife and two cats in a friend’s spare room in their apartment while I look for work and try to save money for our own place. It will take a while to get back on my feet.
Aside from all this, there’s the stress of being wrenched out of my life here in London. Over the course of three years, one builds up a substantial life in a place. I have loads of good friends I’ll leave behind, plenty of travel left undone and tons of loose ends that will never get tied up. It’s fucking rotten.
I’ve begun aggressively looking for jobs in Chicago. Next week, it seems very likely that I will have to purchase one-way tickets to Chicago for the end of January. Everything completely sucks right now, but it will suck a lot less if I can line up a job before the move. At least then I’ll have an immediate source of income and will know I’ll soon be back in a more stable situation.
I’m an honest, hard-working web developer with many years of experience. I can do client-side creation of rich user interfaces as easily as server-side code and database administration. If you know of anyone in need of these skills in the Chicago area who would not only like a fantastic addition to their development team, but also to help out a hometown boy, please put them in touch with me. You can find my latest resume here.
Will it all work out? Everyone says it will, somehow, but what else are your friends going to say? No one would tell you even if they thought you’d soon be eating out of a garbage can.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a few weeks now, but when you lose your job, I’ve found that you tend to lose a lot of your motivation along with it. Yeah, I was made redundant by Design UK on the 21st of September (hey, tomorrow is my anniversary!). Luckily, I have enough money to hold me over until the end of November and even more luckily, I have another job lined up that is very kindly and patiently working on my visa right now. So I’m not completely fucked. I’m up Shit’s Creek, but I do have a paddle.
Never before in my life have I lost a job, so this knocked me off my feet a bit and came as a shock, even though it really shouldn’t have. After having had a boss that was quite alright indeed, when he left for greener pastures, I was stuck with an authoritarian nightmare of a task master. I work best with a manager who I can “work with” rather than “work for” and so it wasn’t long before I found myself topping their redundancy charts.
Now before you say, “Oh, it’s probably for the best. You were miserable there!” allow me to tell you what’s best: a fucking pay cheque you can count on each month. That’s the bottom line. When you’re in a bad situation with rotten luck, one thing you’re never short of is advice from people that haven’t a clue.
It’s been a weird month. Emotionally, I’ve run the gamut from shocked to confused to angry to bitter and back again. I resent the former colleagues that kept their jobs, even though that doesn’t make any sense and I know it’s not their fault. On the plus side, however, I’ve taken the time to focus on my photography, learn a few new tech skills and play with my cats. You truly have no soul if you can stay depressed with a kitten in your midst.
The tech education has centred around iPhone development, as I have a top secret, truly awesome project that I’m working on to be debuted early next year if all goes well. I’ll get to combine coding with music and photography, so that’s one part of my life that’s completely falling into place. The people I’ve met as a result of this work are lovely and I couldn’t be happier that we’re collaborating. I promise I’ll be incredibly less vague once I have it nearly ready (I’ll need beta testers, of course!).
The new job should start in three or four weeks, which I’m sure will fly by in haze of Objective-C classes and afternoon beers. I will almost certainly regret not having done more with this time off, but it’s really hard to tell time right now. Days of the week have lost all meaning and it’s all one big amorphous expanse of time deprived of units with which to measure it by.
Shit, I should get to the post office before all the people with jobs get home and make me wait in a queue. Time might be one of my only commodities right now, but I still don’t like queuing. Three years in England or thirty, I’ll always hate waiting.
Did I mention this visa I’m waiting for? Oh yeah, the post office. Procrastination is another bad habit exacerbated by a period of redundancy. My already fragile work ethic is in danger of fading into non-existence.
“Vanity Records in Osaka was one of the unforgettable hallmarks of the early Japanese underground music scene of the late-70’s. This label was founded by Yuzuru Agi, the music critic/editor of ROCK MAGAZINE. Agi was a sort of alternative visionary with a superb talent to assess new musical modes at a time when blues and West Coast-style rock still dominated the local music scene. He was also responsible for cloning the Japlish term “techno-pop” – which he used to describe Eno-produced bands like Talking Heads and DEVO – that later became internationally known via Yellow Magic Orchestra. Inspired by punk and the flood of indie labels that swept New York and London, Agi started Vanity Records in 1978, releasing 11 LPs, 3 singles, 12 flexis, and 6 cassettes between ’78 and ’82 (each release limited to 300-500 copies).”
– Satoru Higashiseto from Music No. 2, 1998.
If you’ve ever extensively scoured the outer limits of a musical genre, then you understand the fear that one day you’ll run out of new discoveries from your chosen obsession. Long ago I thought I’d reached that point with late 70s / early 80s electronic music and post-punk, but thanks to a handful of brilliant blogs, I was recently proven wrong.
Every single track I’ve heard on Vanity Records is fantastic, which is more than I can say about even Factory or Rough Trade. Minimal, electronic and anxious, the closest contemporary of theirs that I can think of would be Germany’s Ata Tak, although Vanity’s releases feel colder and more alien than that. Had Raster-Noton existed in 1980, this might be what they would have sounded like. It’s a tragedy that no current label has begun a proper reissue campaign covering all of their releases, but thankfully some dedicated individuals have made vinyl and cassette rips available.
Since I had to spend several hours tracking each of these albums down across several sites, I thought it would be helpful to assemble a master list here for anyone looking to explore this remarkable label’s discography. I’ve refrained from posting the direct Rapidshare/Mediafire/etc links and instead direct you to the original posts, because each of these blogs deserves your time and, after this, I’m sure you’ll count yourself among their regular readers.
I haven’t found any of the flexis, but you’ll find links to the 11 LPs, 3 singles and 6 cassettes below, which will keep you busy for quite some time. If I find the flexis, I’ll update this post with links, but if you find them first, please tell me in the comments. I’ve also included links to a few records that weren’t on Vanity, but are related enough to deserve your attention.
Please note that I didn’t write the descriptions below, rather they were taken from Satoru Higashiseto’s feature in Music No. 2. I found them in the comments of Mutant Sounds‘ post on the Aunt Sally LP, and I’m not even familiar with the original magazine they were found in. If you have a copy or can point me to some further information about it, I’d love to check it out.
DADA: JYO (Vanity 0001/LP/1978) Drawing inspiration from German electronic music, Fripp & Eno and Heldon, Dada (Kenji Konishi and Mutsuhiko Izumi) infused synth and guitar driven sounds with gagaku-inspired drones to achieve a sort of Oriental lyricism. The band subsequently released the album DADA (King ’81) before splitting. Meanwhile, Konishi formed 4D, shifting his direction towards techno dance music, while Izumi joined the jazz-rock group Kennedy, and later After Dinner.
SAB: CRYSTALIZATION (Vanity 0002/LP/1978) A 19-year-old Sab produced this spacey-electronic music almost entirely by himself using multiple recoring and such instruments as guitar, synth, and various electronics. Here, Sab creates crystal-clear electronic music comparable to Magical Power Mako, Kitaro, and the Sky label. Pre-new age music. Since this talented musician went to India, nobody has known his whereabouts.
AUNT SALLY: AUNT SALLY (Vanity 0003/LP/1979) Aunt Sally’s debut album incorporates waltz and tango into rock, evocative of pre-war European nostalgia with excellent literary lyrics. This high school band consisting of three girls and two boys had an idiosyncratic presence in the local Osaka punk/new wave scene. After the band’s brief existence, the vocalist Phew went solo and released several albums including: PHEW (Pass ’81), OUR LIKENESS (Mute ’92), BLIND LIGHT/ABSENCE OF TIME (Alida ’94).
TOLERANCE: ANONYM (Vanity 0004/LP/1979) The sound of this artist duo (Junko Tange and Masami Yoshikawa) from Tokyo was abstract and monolithic, using electronics, guitar, piano, and vocal. Nurse With Wound supposedly took the phrase, “To The Quiet Men From A Tiny Girl,” from this album sleeve for the title of their second album.
MORIO AGATA: NORIMONO ZUKAN (Vanity 0005/LP/1980) Morio Agata is a folk-rock singer, known for his “Red Elegy” which became a huge hit in 1972. Joined by various musicians – including Phew, Yukio Fujimoto, Jun Kitada (Inu), Taiqui (Ultrabide/pre-Hijokaidan), and Chic [Chie] Mukai – Agata produced electro-pop music fused with his unique song world. Low-tech, yet experimental, this musical project was sort of similar to Neil Young’s TRANS. Agata is now active as a film director and actor, as well as a musician. Takehisa Kosugi played violin for his album EL JAGUAR DEL BANDONEON.
RNA ORGANISM: R.N.A.O Meet P.O.P.O (Vanity 0006/LP/1980) Receiving a cassette tape from RNA Organism by air-mail, Agi mistakenly thought that they were from overseas and highly acclaimed the band in ROCK MAGAZINE; however, it was a clever ploy from by Kaoru Sato from Kyoto. This album is amazing dub music with funky bass, noise guitar, trumpet and rhythm machine – sort of like a heavier version of Andy Partridge’s TAKE AWAY. Subsequently the group changed its name to EP-4, which became known for its guerilla live performances as well as simultaneously releasing its debut album from both major and indie labels. Meanwhile, Sato disappeared from the music scene in the mid-1980s.
SYMPATHY NERVOUS: SYMPATHY NERVOUS (Vanity 0007/LP/1980) Using a self-designed computer system called “Universal Character Generator,” Sympathy Nervous produced an interesting fusion of industrial noise and dance music. The music sounded low-tech, but it was full of interesting ideas and imagination. Analogous to Daniel Miller’s Normal and Thomas Leer & Robert Rental, Sympathy Nervous was prototypical of “bedroom techno.” Along with the techno upsurge of the 1990s, they reentered the music scene, releasing their music from the Belgian KK label.
B.G.M: BACK GROUND MUSIC (Vanity 0008/LP/1980) Similar to ESG and Liquid Liquid this high school band played new wave garage funk. As with Sympathy Nervous, the leader of the band Takayuki Shiraishi reappeared to the techno scene of the 90s under the name of Planetroid, releasing Detroit techno influenced works.
NORMAL BRAIN: LADY MADE (Vanity 0009/LP/1980) Normal Brain was a project of Yukio Fujimoto, using electronic gadgets like analog-synth, rhythm machine, and Speak & Spell. His music was intelligent and witty, traversing the fine line between modern art and pop. Fujimoto’s minimalist approach also had a child-like playfulness and elegance, conceptually paralleling the music of early-Kraftwerk or Eno. Currently, Fujimoto is active as sound artist, producing sound objects and installations.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: MUSIC (Vanity 0010-11/2LP/1981) This box set includes a two LP compilation of various home-recorded materials, in addition to a postcard and numbered armband. It features 13 groups – Pessimist, Unable Mirror, MR, Anode/Cathode, Kiiro Radical, Tokyo, Daily Expression, Plasma Music, Nose, New York, Arbeit, Isolation, Nectar Low – that were totally anonymous and obscure. Most of the selections are low-fi electronic music with lots of interesting ideas, which are quite entertaining as well.
TOLERANCE: DIVINE (Vanity 0012/LP/1981) Tolerance, the only band that released a second album from Vanity, continued the musical explorations of their debut album on DIVINE. Driven by their uniquely female sensibilities, they produced an interestingly mysterious sound. Soon thereafter, Tolerance/Junko Tange disappeared from the scene. Incidentally, Agi picked this album as his favorite from the label.
Flexis (Supplement to ROCK MAGAZINE)
Max V. Mathews: “The Magnetic Fields of The Earth” (Vanity 2001/’79)
Brian Eno: “The Voice of Brian Eno” (Vanity 2002/’79)
Morio Agata: “Koi No Radio City” (Vanity 2003/’80)
Normal Brain: “Frottage” (Vanity 2004/’80)
Tolerance: “Today’s Thrill” (Vanity 2005/’80)
Hovlakin: “Pelakin Girl” (Vanity 2006/’80)
Kurt Schwitters: “Phone Tisch Poesie” (Vanity 8101/’81)
System: “Love Song” (Vanity 8102/’81)
B. C. Gilbert & G. Lewis: “Cross, Grow, Prayer” (Vanity 8103/’81)
Die Krupps: “June 6, ’81, Krefeld” (Vanity 8104/’81)
Furious Pig: “June 3, ’81, The Venue, London” (Vanity 8105/’81)
Related releases not on Vanity Records
Sympathy Nervous: Apple Head – (cassette tape, 1995, Japan, 150 copies)
Symapthy Nervous/Anemic Session: OUTPUT Vol. 1 7″ (Out Put D-0001, 1981)
MLD: Perpetual Motion 7″ (Kitchen Records DRUM 2, 1983)
Various Artists: Foam (YLEM YDL 0000, 1981)
As I cycled home the other night up Tottenham Court Road, I was entering that tricky lane change just past Heals and Habitat when a minicab honked loudly behind me. When I noticed he was honking at me, I threw two fingers up at him, shouted, “What the fuck!?” and gestured towards the cycle lane that I was clearly entering. As he pulled up alongside of me and rolled down his window, I prepared for an ugly confrontation. When he said, “Excuse me, something fell out of your pocket back there,” however, I felt like a total douchebag.
I only had time to ask him where exactly I dropped the mystery object. After he indictated the crosswalk in front of Habitat, I only had time to thank him before we both had to make sure we didn’t cause an accident. I never got to apologise for giving him my best V sign.
Pulling over to the side of the road, I backtracked and retrieved what I had lost. It was just an old print out of a rather unimportant email, but it could just as easily have been my wallet or my phone. What a nice minicab man!
I felt quite bad about my initial angry response to perhaps the only kind person left in the whole of London, until I realised that I did my bit. London doesn’t need to go soft and helpful: it’s a cold and unfriendly city. I helped preserve its character, like a responsible resident. I also picked up my accidental litter, so double good: I kept Britain tidy. Good on me!
If you love electronic music, Twitter and OS X, you need to download Tweet-a-Sound immediately. It’s a MAX/MSP-based synthesizer for OS X that’s tricked out to tweet! It’s a not sonic Twitpic, either. Rather than simply turn your creation into an audio file and linking to it, it sends it as text. If someone wants to hear the sound you’ve made, all they have to do is copy it from their web browser or Twitter client and paste it into Tweet-a-Sound. The application uses this long and rather cryptic string of numbers to set the appropriate parameters on the synth and play it.
You can produce sounds that last anywhere from 0.1 seconds all the way to a full minute. When you’re finished fiddling with frequencies and your waveform is ready for transmission, you can either send the tweet straight from Tweet-a-Sound or copy it and paste it into the Twitter client of your choice. Messages are prepended with #tas so that other synth geeks can find your work easily with a simple search.
I made a few sounds with it, the source of which you can also find with a Twitter search. I’ve also made mp3s of two of them if you’d just rather listen here.
The first sound is exactly how Tweet-a-Sound plays it, I only boosted the volume slightly in post-production.
Forecast For You From 127a [audio:forecast127a.mp3|titles=Forecast For You From 127a|artists=Dave Knapik]
For this next one, instead of making the sound and then playing it back once to record the direct output, I used Tweet-a-Sound to restart its playback periodically. I also changed parameters on the synth whilst it was playing. This audio file cannot be expressed in a tweet, of course, as only its initial settings can, but it shows that you can use the application for more than its main intended purpose.
The Dragon Kills St. George [audio:theDragonKillsStGeorge.mp3|titles=The Dragon Kills St. George|artists=Dave Knapik]
I don’t think I’ve stopped listening to large quantities of Burroughs’ recordings since I last mentioned them. Perhaps the best thing about the longer pieces is how deeply you can get lost in them, only to be suddenly jolted out by the most remarkable phrases. Thirty odd minutes into “Are You Tracking Me?”, I found the best advice I’d heard in years.
William S. Burroughs – “Are You Tracking Me?” excerpt taken from 33:34 to 34:16: [audio:burroughs-WithParticularAttention.mp3|titles=Are You Tracking Me?|artists=William S. Burroughs]