New Digs (what's new?)

After bouncing around places for the past year, finally moved to a new apartment farther north in Chicago. Thai, Pakistani, Indian, and all sorts of good eats are in the area, and we live within walking distance of several cafes / train / record shops / and a movie theater. One of the things that sold me on the apartment was the farmer's market that is held every Tuesday about a block from where we live. Finally went today and for about twenty bucks I walked away with a ridiculous amount of produce, including some raspberries. I *thought* I knew what a raspberry tasted like until I tried these. There is a certain aftertaste and flavor that is straight up MISSING from store-bought raspberries. Highly recommended.

Also after about two years of riding loaner bikes, I finally bought my own. I had trouble finding a bike that fits due to my odd torso / leg ratio and because of my riding style (lazy?). I like to be able to lean back at low speeds but lean forward at higher speeds. Finally decided that a smaller frame was the way to go and then I could adjust the seat height and handlebar height - plus it would be lighter which is good for hauling up/down stairs. After searching for a while I finally found an old chro-moly Shogun 12 speed with friction shifters. I paid a reasonable price for it, but goofed by taking it to a nearby shop to swap out the drop handlebars for something more upright. I regret going there 'cause the guy really messed up. He put in a ridiculously tall handlebar stem which made the handlebars waaay too high, and he replaced the brake housing with some antiquated housing that required a bear claw grip to squeeze the lever and made an insane grinding noise. Also he put the grips on backwards...

So after some futzing I swapped out the stem, but the brakes were really messed up. I had to take it to another (better) shop to fix the previous guy's shoddy work, argh. But even with the goofup I still stayed under my budget, so it worked out. I don't mind the friction shifters for now but might swap it out for an internal hub some day.

All in all, been trying to level up my living situation. Probably wise too, with winter approaching...


Haven't been giving this site enough love as of late...since about mid July I've been kinda hooked on the Facebook / Twitter scene. Not that I'm posting that much really (I don't even own a twitter account) but I have noticed I get more info about what's happening with people I know through these sites. But those sites definitely feel like socializing in a bar, whereas this site feels a little more like home.

Funny thing is this post will soon be visible on Facebook anyway as it pulls it in through RSS...

I could see myself being more engaged in social networking sites except I feel like I already spend too much time online. And I also have this nagging feeling that where now it feels like we still have a choice whether or not we have to participate in online networks, in the future I can see it being pretty much full blown social pressure. Kinda like how if you don't own a cell phone now you are almost off the grid. So I'm kinda biding my time until that pressure ratchets up (I think it already has), and I'll be involved anyways whether I like it or not.

Also I've noticed the average length of text messages I'm receiving from people has increased. I think it could be more reliance on text messaging to send greater amounts of information and also just that more people I know have smart phones and can type faster. Me, I'm still trying to tap 3 times to get the letter "z". Again, biding my time till the inevitable purchase of a smart phone.

I heard somewhere that younger kids have anxiety when they AREN'T able to access online networks. This should be surprising, but isn't really. I feel like the more you engage with lots of people online, the more touching human interactions can occur and then when you take that away of course you feel disconnected / detached without it. And you start worrying that you are left of the loop, that you don't know what your friends are up to, that they'll think you are ignoring them, people might be worrying what happened to me, etc..

This seems like a recipe for addiction / dependency. I already know that my online habits have a tendency to get fidgety and compulsive - I check my email over and over or check the same website over and over - so tapping myself into a broader information stream could be pretty overkill. The Iranian election was the first time I've ever been glued to a twitter feed, constantly refreshing it and sifting through it for real information...and that was *incredibly* draining. I think I did that for about a week or two weeks straight and had no mental energy left to do much else. Rumors, speculation, truth, lies - it was all coming at once at 1000 tweets a second.

Too bad the proposal Eric and I wrote didn't get accepted. It was conceived as an absurd joke but it feels more relevant every day.

I wonder if other people know this feeling I'm talking about, the drain of spending too much mental energy filtering through a wealth of raw data. It's completely different than trying to cram for a test or studying a wealth of knowledge for some purpose or goal. It's more like a million people trying to tell you something at once and feeling an incredible compulsion and urgency to decipher it all. Afterward you wonder if the information you've learned is even that important and if it could have waited till tomorrow.

No time to think about that though, I've gotta check

Secret appearance tonight at Orange Drink Show! [short notice]

There have been rumors of a secret sushi performance by zirafa tonight, as he attempts to hijack Orange Drink's show at the Gallery Cabaret. Show starts at 10pm at Gallery Cabaret (2020 N Oakley Ave), hijacking to occur at approximately midnight.

Bandcamp fills the void!

Holy crap, this is impressive. It's what I hoped Muxtape would do. And people who follow my critiques of music websites know that I'm very hard to please.

What I like about the Bandcamp website / service:

1) MINIMAL BRANDING. On a band page there is very little branding by bandcamp (only at the bottom of the page).
2) GOOD LAYOUT. The standard layout is great and puts the emphasis on graphics and the music player, which is all that matters.
3) DOWNLOAD OPTIONS. A visitor can choose what format they want to download a track - OGG, FLAC, MP3, etc.
4) RETAIL OPTIONS. A band can give away a low quality MP3 but charge $1.00 or whatever they want for a higher quality download. Simple and effective. The band has total control over the pricing and options for selling their music.
5) BAND TOOLS. This is where they've nailed it. They provide statistics for where songs are being linked from and who is listening to the songs and provide graphs over time. This allows a band to figure out how their music is spreading across the web and see trends. This is the void that has been missing from all previous music sites!

I'm really amazed that Bandcamp was able to balance two incredibly tough aspects of music sites: 1) making it simple enough for a visitor/fan so that they are 100% engaged in the music right away and 2) providing incredible tools for a band to make the most out of posting and selling their music online.

The one thing missing (hey there has to be one thing) is that it'd be great if a band could customize the domain name. *EDIT* Nevermind, actually I just looked again, and it looks like you can. So instead of I can simply use - fantastic.

So far, I can't find anything they've done wrong. It's simple, powerful, and seems very usable. Plus, the people behind this seem to have a sense of humor which is a plus. I will seriously consider using this for my next release. I would be very happy indeed if this would mean more time for music making and less fiddling with my site.

Here is the video that sold me.

I need to start playing more gigs.

More gigs is better then less gigs and supremely better than zero gigs.

Theta Blast (from the past)

Video for Theta Blast, a song off my first album Makeshift Drifters, circa 2000. Uploaded by Doruk. This video was done so long ago my memory is a bit fuzzy about by Asif and Doruk ('s shadow), starring confused staff at Zeros.

Kind of Bloop

Pretty cool thing here:

The 8-bit thing officially has momentum (at least in my world sphere). After seeing Blipfest 2007 I've noticed more and more links being passed my way that relate to 8-bit-ish things. It has influenced my own music. And then there is this weird merging of 8-bit blippy styles and L.A. sloppy hip hop thing happening. I would credit 2 Player Productions for the recent 8-bit pandemic :D.

But yea pretty cool project to try and interpret something as organic and straight up spacey and chill as "Kind of Blue". So far chiptunes style music has tended to be pretty upbeat and super energetic, frenetic, with little room for silence. Kind of Blue is all about subtleties, silence, and dynamics, and presents an interesting challenge for chiptune makers.

The other thing that is cool is that they've raised over $5000 for the project when the goal was $2000, and there is still several months left before the fundraising is over. It's cool to see alternative music funding schemes put into practice (after yapping about it a lot on this site) and yielding pretty awesome results. I'll have to check out more later.

Works in Progress

I have a really, really, really backed up queue of songs/beats/noise I'm working on or little things I make that have no place to go. I figure every once in a while I should post some of these so that I don't forget about them and maybe, just maybe, actually finish them. Here are a few.

1 Zirafa and Rahul - Demo 2-19-08
Rahul wrote this song and played guitar and bass, I played drums and keyboard, we recorded it last year in my (short lived) rehearsal space.

2 Zirafa and Rahul - Roopy 2-29-08
I sampled Rahul playing guitar and did this weird dubby thing.

3 Zirafa - Cut Jeans Remix
A short little remix of Blue Jeans by Spinnerty/Bozak.

4 Zirafa - Chatterhead E
This is a dubsteppy/blippy B-Side from Hipshooters.

5 Zirafa - 87-3 Peru
I was workin on this beat for a remix but it wasn't working. p.s. psychedelic peruvian music is hot.

Actually just taking the time to look for some of these tracks, I discovered a bunch of pretty solid jams I want to develop more and potentially release! It's a good sign if I thought about posting something here but didn't because I don't want to reveal it yet.

Grown Kids Radio, Audiozine, OD Release

The Grown Kids are a rag tag crew of DJing, producing, beat making, bike riding, youth mentoring, in the cut laying individuals that are all making things happen in the 'Sco on their own. When they combine like Voltron, it's curtains for any wanna-be's. They all put in steady work to throw events, put out records, and bring new sounds to the Bay and beyond. Each member of GKR brings years of radio experience to the table, they feel right at home behind the boards producing high quality broadcasts.

So far the GKR Podcast is blowin' me away. And not just because Spinnerty is one of the members, although I am taken back to my college days listenin to Needle Drops. And not just cause my Jazzanova remix is featured in the latest podcast & the intro music includes a beat-in-progress. :D

But anyway the show doesn't need my endorsement, just check out the latest podcast. I've attached a snippet of the show highlighting one of my favorite tracks they played (Heralds of Change - Spotted). Hotness!

As if the GKR podcast wasn't enough, Kaveh's posted up some awesome mixness up at, and Orange Drink has started the serial song release of his newest album over at Orange Drink Music.

I've been busy pickin up some part-time work and trying to launch Soapbox Music. Hope to post some Soapbox and music related news soon, stay tuned!

Attached audio files: 

Songs that Just Stick

My sis put me on to the Pilooski remix of Frankie Valli's 1968 hit "Beggin'" a few months back which, along with the Madcon cover of the same tune, were supposed big hits last year. But per usual I'm late to the game on hearing chart hits (I think I was about a year late on hearing "Hey Ya" and my excitement with that track was met with groans from everyone I knew who had already been saturated by it). Anyway watching Hulu recently they have been featuring the Pilooski remix of "Beggin'" on the syrupy Adidas NYC party commercial thing which again, you've all probably already seen a million times.

I think from all the versions I've heard, the original Franki Vallie recording is still best. It's the perfect length and has just enough changes to keep it interesting but repeats the main theme so many times you have the song stuck in your head for days. What's also weird is that Frankie Valli is usually known for sugary pop ballads (Can't Take My Eyes Off of You) so the upbeat-meets-dark-esque flavor is unusual.

The track is great because it feels like it bridges two worlds, one hanging on to the corner doo-wop, happy-go-lucky sounds of the '50s, and that of the much more chaotic '60s, and perhaps even foreshadowing beyond. The song is about love lost, and maybe I'm just reading too much into it, but I think it could be a metaphor for any fracture in time which leaves one stuck, angry, and wishing for change. And that energy for wanting change propels the track forward furiously through the years, giving it meaning 40 years later.

That and the beat is hot as hell.

Franki Valli - Beggin'