January 9, 2010


After watching the documentary on Les Paul's life, and being introduced to him this way for the first time I felt like I had been out of the loop, but I guess I have an excuse because 1. I don't play guitar, and 2. I never was in the music loop to begin with, so no big surprise there.

The documentary portrays Les how he portrayed himself throughout his career. Les, unlike Pete Seeger who avoided the spotlight whenever possible, naturally belonged in the spotlight and benefited from it.
He strategically organized his life around promoting his music.
One thing he is praised for among musicians is TONE. Tone is probably key in all art. Photography, movies, music, expression, writing. What does the viewer, listener, reader all get out of it? Les knew how to market his goods. Music was a medium he could filter his inventions through, but his inventions were inspired by music, instruments, and SOUND and what made him marketable was the obvious appreciation for his craft.

This documentary even provided "marketing material" for the Les Paul electric guitar.

Would his collaboration between him guitar, technology, and Mary Ford be as accepted today as it was then? Or would we just pick up something some old guy invented and think we were creating something new on it? Remember his brother did say he was weird, because he wondered why rather than just accepting it as the way things were. This reflects back to What are you Laughin' At?! post. Did those Bluesmen create anything new? Or were they continuing a tradition that had roots older than them?

New, different, was in but it was also out. People did accept Mary Ford and Les Paul and their multitracking, but they were not so accepting of the youth culture's, Rock n Roll. However because of the rejection of rock n roll Les and Mary were back in again, another example of pure LUCK!

I believe his attitude had more to do with it then anything. But also this documentary was to celebrate, commemorate a legend. One example of a talented inventor who got lucky at every turn he made, and proof that passion and attitude really are all one needs... once they got talent of course.

January 8, 2010

K-State Video; A Vision of Students Today

a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what...
a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. So you are welcome to download it, share it, even change it, just as long as you give me some credit and you don't sell it or use it to sell anything.
Category: Education
education statistics media ecology KSU ksudigg digital ethnography WEC2008

What Are You Laughin' At?!


The South has a separate culture, and the people livin' there have a kind of pride in their culture that outsiders, especially those from the city, or otherwise known as "civilization", cannot understand. Matthew Johnson is intrigued by the Blues in Mississippi where R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Cedell Davis, and T-Model Ford indulged in a sound and performed for the locals every week.

Johnson made a documentary, You See Me Laughin'; Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen takin' place in Mississippi, about Blues musicians that are not well known. This documentary has received certain amounts of criticism and praise for either finally recording this culture, or for exploiting these musicians.

Many questions came to mind when I watched this film such as, is this film humiliating for these musicians? Musicians who, can't walk, don't have the use of all their fingers, have health problems and don't go to the doctor, live in a shack, and drink, smoke, shoot..people..and curse. R.L. Burnside mentions that "anybody can have to Blues", it isn't specifically for people in the South, or people in poverty. Blues can be when your wife leaves you. Truthfully these Bluesmen bring these Blues on themselves, and if they don't experience the Blues but just play them like T-Model Ford they are just selling something, and figured it is the only thing they could sell.

Most of these musicians express disinterest in record labels and touring and performing and were satisfied with where they were. This has more to do with their age than anything, maybe if they were in their 20s or 30s their dreams wouldn't have worn down before this opportunity come along. But seein' as it did, money is what matters in the end and dreams are what mattered in the beginning.

Would these Blues musicians be has cultured if they had made it big in their 20s or 30s? Is suffering what really triggers this Blues music? At the very beginning Ford mentions he never been in the Blues and Davis was told if he played the Blues he will go to hell. The Blues was these men's only way not to be Blue.

T-Model Ford. however, didn't pick up a guitar til he was middle-aged. He is quoted saying, "I cant read, I can't write, I can't even spell, but I can play the guitar when I wanna".

I think that if these cats can't read, can't write, don't give a shit about shooting someone and the only way they can express themselves is through a musical instrument and that expression sounds like what the Blues sound like, then yes I think their lives, their experiences, their situation, and their culture is what creates that sound, whether they know it or not. They might not think of it as the Blues, or "in the Blues", however it might just be a culture one becomes accustom to having lived in it for so long, never known anything better, never wanted to.

Is what Johnson doin' threatening the Blues culture? Does he exploit these Bluesmen in the quest for a recorded history? These Bluesmen were playing Blues to play them but also to have something to do. Is Johnson providing them with a final pay off for doing what they "love".

The documentary itself is not exploitation, and the record labels provide an income, and a choice to receive that income for these Bluesmen. In this case the Bluesmen ain't workin' they are playin' for money. "If you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life".

January 7, 2010

New Media Old Media

Welcome to a perspective on literature, music, politics, old media, and even education through new media. Yes we are talkin' about a technological revolution that has redefined how we apply for jobs, critique books, movies, and music, and entertain ourselves.

Exploring the use of old media in the new is something I might explore through literature, journalism, politics, and the impact new media is having on cultures that have not even experienced the old media.