'MERIKA. Libarty comes in a V8 engine!

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post was the insane air traffic these days on the beach. When I had to walk down to the bus stop, I think I witnessed at least ten fighter jets scream through the air, I'm guessing headed home from an aircraft carrier on the ocean to the nearby naval base. But jesus, these damn things sound like they are tearing a hole through the sky. If you've ever been to an air show, you know what I mean - it's like taking a giant sheet of paper the size of the sky and slowly ripping it in half. If you don't cover your ears and you are within a few hundred feet, the pain is kinda excruciating and mind numbing.

That morning I had woken with this terrifying dream I was stuck in a San Francisco earthquake - only to wake up realizing the trembling I was feeling was from a giant jet returning home from Iraq. Kinda disturbing.

Today when I went on a bike ride down the beach, I couldn't help but notice something new: a fleet of military helicopters flying probably only 100 feet up in the sky. I mean, glancing up I could see the face of the pilot, it was that close. It feels kinda eerie to witness these helicopters and fighter jets flying overhead. I don't know if people around here find it comforting, but just knowing these things representing death and destruction liberty and freedom are literally looming overhead - it kinda freaks me out and makes the whole situation that much more real.

As I biked back home, it appeared that they were closing the boardwalk for the festival of lights they do every year. Basically every year, the city decorates this long stretch of beach with christmas lights in the shape of nutcrackers, drummer boys, santa, dolphins and mermaids playing catch with a beachball, and various other imagery.

Despite my love of things that go blinky in the night, a number of things weirded me out this year (and also proved how 'merikan virginia beach is):

1) Helicopters and jets were flying overhead. 'MERIKAN!

2) There was a GIANT christmas light display in the shape of an american flag with the words: GOD BLESS AMERICA underneath. DOUBLE 'MERIKAN!

3) They closed the beach sidewalk to pedestrians and bikers. CARS ONLY! In fact, several "security" types yelled at me, "EXCUSE ME YOUNG MAN, THE BOARDWALK IS CLOSED". I threw strawberry sherbert (sherbit?) in their face and continued on. I guess I wasn't creating enough pollution to have a right to be on the beach? V8 engine = 'MERIKAN!

4) The first car to cruise the boardwalk was a nice yellow Hummer. Ironic, yes, but definitely 'MERIKAN!

I think the guy yelling at me to get off the boardwalk really pissed me off though. I didn't really mind any one of those things, but the combination of all of them really added up to a fucked up picture in my head.

$1.50 Suburban Adventure

Growing up in Virginia Beach, there wasn't a whole lot to do. We generally had to make up our own fun or just get in a car and go somewhere...anywhere. The idea of driving around aimlessly, usually from one store to another store, basically summarizes what we call a Suburban Adventure. It was mostly about just hanging out with friends, having fun, and becoming incredibly determined to accomplish some goal, like finding a place that sells sour patch kids, playing four square in the local walmart, or visiting every single thrift store on Va Beach Blvd to rummage through their dusty record collections.

I thought while back in VB, I'd try an adventure without a car - by taking the bus around town. While the bus system has been the butt of many jokes in VB (sparse service, limited routes, overwhelming dominance of cars), having lived in Chicago I thought I'd give it a shot to see if it is possible to get around VB without a car.

I set out with an admirable SB goal: find a notebook and running shoes.

I think I left my house at around 4:30 pm, with $1.50 in hand, and waited at the nearby bus station for about half an hour. I saw a bus go by, but waved it on 'cause I thought it was the wrong one. After waiting another ten minutes, I realized the bus I wanted wouldn't come until 7:30 pm. Ok...I would have to pick up the bus I wanted much farther down, on 19th street. So I started walking down the beach, about 30 blocks. I could've waited for another bus to take me that distance, but I'd have to wait another hour. So by the time I got down to 19th street, I saw the bus I wanted and ran towards it.

When I got on the bus at 6:08 pm, I paid the fair and sat down, only to have the bus driver tell me we had to sit around for ten minutes before we could start going. Nobody else was on the bus. We started going at around 6:20 pm, picking up a few people on the way as we winded our way towards Norfolk.

I got off the bus around 7:00 pm near Pembroke Mall. This area is the manufactured "downtown" district of Virginia Beach. Back in the day, this area only had a small sized mall and a movie theatre. Now they've constructed some moderately tall sized buildings bunched up together in one spot, with Town Centre Dr. road running through it. The local "skyscraper" is a tall parking garage about 30 stories high with a large pole and blinking light at the top. Laughable, but endearing - you have to give them an "A" for effort. It wouldn't be half bad if there wasn't a monstrous four lane semi-highway bordering one side of it. This road is freakishly unfriendly to pedestrians, which means getting off the bus and crossing this street involves a 60 yard sprint. This place was built for cars, and I felt like a small human running wildly through its deserted parking lots to avoid getting hit.

First stop was a giant Barnes and Noble which is hard to miss, so picking up the notebook was pretty easy. I then crossed a parking lot to get some soup at a Schlotsky's, which brought back some strange memories (my friend's band once played a show in this parking lot). I meandered through the "downtown" district and found myself lost in a sea of construction and buildings just tall enough to obstruct my view of what was down the road. After finding the massive sports store outlet, I found the shoe section and then my shoe-buying phobia kicked in so I quickly ran out of there.

Heading back home, I walked about 3/4 a mile down the boulevard searching for the bus stop. It was pretty hard to find as the street lamps combined with car headlights pretty much silhouettes anything in the distance. I waited about twenty minutes and picked up the bus around 8:20, which was suprisingly crowded. I fell asleep only to wake up as the only person left on the bus. We were back on 19th street. This bus was supposed to go all the way to 68th street, so the driver asked me where I was headed. He then quickly got in gear and started trucking down Atlantic Ave. Then all of a sudden two blocks later, he stops the bus in front of a subway, tells me "I'll be right back" and jumps out. I thought maybe he had to go to the bathroom or something, but as I look harder, I see him standing in line to get a sandwich.

Sure enough, ten minutes pass by and he comes running back with a sandwich and large soda in his hand. Too funny.

He dropped me off near my house and I think I walked through the door at 9:30 pm.

I can't imagine trying to use this bus system reliably as an alternative to driving a car around these parts. Things are just way too spaced out. It's tough and there is little flexibility with timing. The schedules also run at odd times and not always bi-directionally. And then when you get off the bus, most likely you'll have to run across huge intersections of traffic to get to your destination. Kind of exhausting in a man-vs-machine sort of way.

But it was pretty hilarious and with a group of friends during the summer could rival the best driving adventures. Although don't count on getting home on time!

Oh Yea, It's Pomegranate Season

Get 'em while they are hot.

OiNK, Saul, Trent

No doubt you've heard the news about the popular bittorrent website OiNK being shut down. Here's a short article with Saul Williams and Trent Reznor, talking about why they released their new album in the Radiohead style and Trent explaining how he was an OiNK user.

They're not stealing it because they're going to make money off of it; they're stealing it because they love the band. I'm not saying that I think OiNK is morally correct, but I do know that it existed because it filled a void of what people want.

In stock!

Saul Williams w/ Trent Reznor...Album Release

Hey guys,

Just a heads up about another D.I.Y. digital distribution strategy. Saul Williams has released his new album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! (produced by Trent Reznor of NIN) online, and has given the option to either pay $5 and download the album in your preferred format - options available are 320 kbps, 192 kbps, or FLAC (lossless). The other option is to pay $0 and download the album in 192 kbps. I kind of like this strategy even better than the Radiohead release, mainly because it lays out the options very plainly. For me, I immediately opted to pay (they support Paypal too) and get the FLAC version. It looks like they are using Amazon's S3 service to deliver the album.

Site: http://niggytardust.com/saulwilliams/download

How much did you pay for the Radiohead album? Survey Results

A website surveying how much people payed for the new Radiohead album has released their results.

Check it out at What Price Did You Choose.com

Average price per download: £3.88 ($7.93)

(Average price per download, excluding discbox buyers*: £3.55 ($7.25))
28.5% of respondents said that they had decided to pay £0.00-0.01 ($0.00-0.02)
56% said that they had paid between £0.02 ($.04) and £10.00 ($20.43) for the download.
2.5% paid between £10.00 ($20.43) and £39.00 ($79.68) for the download.
13% said they had paid £40.00 ($81.72) for the download (which came free with the discbox)

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Back on the Scene

Whew! Had to shutdown the mothership for some emergency repairs. Things should be back to normal...

Attached audio files: 
  1. Slum Village - Fantastic 2

    2.02 MB

OD show

Orange Drink will be opening for the amazing group, Baby Magic, next Wednesday, Oct. 3rd at Gallery Cabaret. This will be a 2-man acoustic guitar+sampler+surprises setup, so watch out!

Baby Magic w/Orange Drink
Wednesday, October 3rd 2007 @10pm
Gallery Cabaret
2020 N Oakley Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

(bring quarters, their website says they have arcade games!)

Amazon MP3 Store

Amazon has just opened their new Amazon MP3 Store. So far it looks like a promising alternative to iTunes.


1) You can browse songs on the web, no need to download a client like iTunes.
2) The interface is very simple, and works the same way as other parts of Amazon.com.
3) The single song prices are variable.
4) Some bands (Radiohead) only want to sell full albums, with no single downloads available. iTunes doesn't support this, but Amazon does. I really, really like this.
5) No DRM.
6) It's not iTunes.
7) It's an actual STORE. I can buy other things like shoes.


1) They only sell MP3s. I still can't convince myself buying lower quality music is worth the money. When will these stores start selling high quality audio? They could set multiple price points based on quality.


1) What's the price breakdown of a sale? iTunes gets .30 for every .99 cents. Will this be variable? Fixed? Set by the seller, or Amazon?

2) Openness of the system
What I'm hoping happens is that Amazon can open the doors of this system to any Joe that wishes to sell their music on their store, even if they don't have a label. Amazon already lets you stock your independent CD directly with them, so it seems like a natural progression. If, however, they go the route of iTunes and only deal with labels, that will be a mistake and they will broil in the fiery pits of hell.

Open up the goddamn floodgates already!

From someone who has never bought an MP3 in his life, and shuns the concept of third party vendors selling an overpriced, lower quality product, the Amazon store seems interesting.

I'll still always support artists selling directly on their website first. But having fair and decent alternative methods is important too.

To be continued...

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