Video Time

A Keith Olberman Special. The man appears to be reaching for the mantle of Edward R. Murrow. So far, he's not doing a bad job of it. Here's Keith flaying the conservatives on the Clinton interview/sneak attack:

And here's Keith's commentary on 9/11:

I look forward to hearing more from him.

Local Paper Covers Local Justice

Following up on my previous post on unqualified Village Justices issuing illegal decisions, the Saranac Lake based Adirondack Daily Enterprise has an example of a judge who doesn't know how the court system works:

After sentencing a Saranac Lake man to jail time over a traffic infraction, a prosecutor and public defender have accused a village justice of overstepping his authority in village court.


Herrmann reportedly said he’d start collecting maximum fines in cases such as these as way to defray costs for the village.

Bringing village finances as a consideration in criminal justice cases violates important principles, public defender Virginia Morrow said.

“He wanted to raise money for the village police department,” Morrow said in an interview. “But we have a separation of powers. We don’t have village justices raising money just as we don’t have village trustees writing tickets.”

Also, the judge decided that decorum isn't necessary for the courtroom, and had a temper tantrum:

Ken Pickreign, Amell’s grandfather, who appeared with him several times in village court, corroborated Delehanty and Morrow’s account of Herrmann losing his temper and yelling at attorneys.

“He was out of control by his screaming and hollering and throwing paperwork around and slamming it on the desk,” Pickreign said of Herrmann. “The judge was doing all of the hollering. The lawyers conducted themselves in an orderly way.”

My day-after take on the local justices has softened somewhat. You can't be justifiably angry at the ignorant. But coverage of all breaches of the judicial process should be reported. After all, you don't want a bunch of "activist judges" subverting the law of the land, right? Judges apply the law, they don't make it.


Unqualified Yokels Subvert Judicial Process

Flipping through the NY Times this morning, I saw upstate NY was not-well represented with its front page article "In Tiny Courts of New York, Abuses of Law and Power" (link on the post title). In what appears to be a long-researched report, the Times found some shocking breaches of what we define as common judicial proceedings. Courts closed to the public, courts without transcripts of proceedings, courts whose training is a true-false test easier than the one for being a manicurist. My girlfriend's hometown of Malone has a place in the (presumably unwanted) spotlight:

A woman in Malone, N.Y., was not amused. A mother of four, she went to court in that North Country village seeking an order of protection against her husband, who the police said had choked her, kicked her in the stomach and threatened to kill her. The justice, Donald R. Roberts, a former state trooper with a high school diploma, not only refused, according to state officials, but later told the court clerk, “Every woman needs a good pounding every now and then.”

You think racism is just for George "Macacca" Allen and the rest of the south? Think again:

A black soldier charged in a bar fight near Fort Drum became alarmed when his accuser described him in court as “that colored man.” But the village justice, Charles A. Pennington, a boat hauler and a high school graduate, denied his objections and later convicted him. “You know,” the justice said, “I could understand if he would have called you a Negro, or he had called you a nigger.”

It's not just about breaches of basic human rights (because at this point in our history, we're just about ready to legalize torture anyway, so who cares?) It's also about millions of dollars that aren't accounted for:

The courts also handle money — more than $200 million a year in fines and fees. But the state comptroller’s office, which once conducted scores of justice-court audits every year, now does only a handful. When it looked most recently, auditing a dozen courts in May, it reported serious financial-management problems and estimated that millions of dollars a year might be missing from the justice courts statewide.

Let's hope that this article starts a conversation about revising New York's judicial system.


Polyphonic Ramblings #2

Month 2 of the mix tape project. This time I put together a mix tape with some live music on it, and finished it off with a back-and-forth between classic jazz and loungey-style electronic music. Here we go:

1 - 3. Tea Leaf Green - Garden (I, II and III): A California-based quartet, these guys play a more structured set than other jam bands, but aren't unwilling to let things go and rock out for awhile. The Garden suite starts with a poppy head in part 1, stretches out for a jam in part 2, and comes together to conclude in part 3.

4. moe. - Jazz Wank: From an old 1996 show, my only moe. before Karen and I went to moe.down on Labor Day weekend. moe. will definitely stick with a tune and explore it for 10, 20, 40 minutes at a time. This Jazz Wank is a bit more concise, clocking in at just over 5 minutes.

5. Steve Kimock - Improv #1: Steve is a stellar guitar player with his band. This is from a solo acoustic show, just him exploring. Some nice Zep-esque chords get pounded on in the middle of this piece.

6. Tim Reynolds - Jemez Rolling Waves: Following up on the acoustic guitar thing, here's a solo piece from the guy better known as the side man to Dave Matthews when Dave plays without his band. Personally, I'm a bigger fan of Reynolds than Matthews. But Dave certainly has good taste in friends.

7. Porcupine Tree - Sound of Muzak: Found these folks while reading reviews on amazon. Well structured songwriting.

8. Buckethead - Ghost: The softer side of the KFC bucket, kabuki-mask wearing artist known as Buckethead. His harder stuff is 80's metal style, very articulate, distorted, rocking.

9. Spacetime Continuum - Vertigo: Straying away from guitar-based rock, moving into electronica.

10. Miles Davis - So What: The classic track from the best-selling jazz album of all time. Staying on the mellow mood.

11. Sneaker Pimps - Velvet Divorce: Trying to seamlessly transition from jazz to electronica.

12. Vince Guraldi Trio - Greensleeves: OK, OK, so the track is really titled "What Child is This", off of the Charlie Brown Christmas album. But I prefer to think of this along the lines of Coltrane's interpretation of Greensleeves. Guraldi is amazing.

13. Theivery Corporation - Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes: Going out on a mellow lounge note.


I am Musically Pretentious

As shown through this little feature from the Onion AV Club. Here are some of my favorite rock instruments featured:

2. The Chapman Stick

Art rock—especially '80s-00s King Crimson—wouldn't be complete without the Chapman Stick, a combination guitar and bass that looks like a 2x4 and is played by tapping the strings with both hands. (Or with little drumsticks tied to your fingers, if you're Tony Levin.) Though its clean lines look best next to the stylishly bald and mustached Levin, it's forever connected to serious, ponytailed men like Trey Gunn, who look like they treat "picking" and "strumming" with a sniff of contempt. The Chapman Stick is also worn across the chest with the top resting on the player's shoulder, giving the impression that it's so precious, it needs to be cradled.

5. Bagpipe

Who hasn't had a bad experience with a bagpipe? It's the loudest, most boorish acoustic instrument there is, whether it's outside, ruining a perfectly fine public park, or on a concert stage, where—as one example—the Battlefield Band wheels out its bagpiper with almost circus-like fanfare, like the audience is about to watch someone take a cannonball to the chest. The only safe place to use them is at funerals: That's the only time they don't think they're the guests of honor.

Here's another instrument I never heard of, but think sounds pretty damn cool:

1. The Eaton-Moog Multiple-Touch-Sensitive Keyboard

For years, prog rockers tainted Bob Moog's name by playing his keyboards while wearing in shiny silver capes, or standing in the orchestra pit at Rick Wakeman's King Arthur On Ice tour. But the late, legendary synth-maker wasn't immune to delusions of grandeur: In 1992, Moog and University of Chicago music prof John Eaton debuted a revolutionary new instrument: the Eaton-Moog Multiple-Touch-Sensitive Keyboard, sometimes called "The World's Most Sensitive Musical Instrument." Its 49 keys respond to five kinds of movement—from touch pressure to the way players roll their fingertips and slide them up and down the keys—to adjust the volume, vibrato, and pitch. Reportedly, the prototype sits in Eaton's attic, but the instrument never made it into production. Has anyone pitched it to Keith Emerson?

They frequently mention Bob Moog, creator of the greatest synthesizer ever, the Mini Moog. Perhaps it's my preference for prog rock, as opposed to minimalist indie rock (definitely a staple of the writers of the AV Club).

Anyway, long live the Chapman Stick!


What's in a Name?

On the way back home from work (where I've apparently going to become a non-peon, and start to be able to crack heads), I was listening to the VPR news, in which they said that the Ethan Allen Homestead is going to close.

That's quite a shame. It was the home of uber-Vermonter Ethan Allen, who took Ft. Ticonderoga from the Brits. He retired to Burlington (where else) and lived in the Intervale. At first, I thought of him on this side of the pond, and enjoying his raid on "the other side of the pond" (which is how all Vermonters think of the Adirondacks). My self-identified Adirondackerness chafed at the thought.

Thinking more, though, the inhabitants of the Champlain Basin are much alike, as Bill McKibben noted in his short little book Wandering Home? Is there a common culture in the Basin? I'd say so. St. Albans is nothing more than an extension of the dreary North Country towns of northern NY (drive across Rt. 11 and see what I mean), albeit with a little Vermont flair and a tiny downtown (makes me think of Potsdam, if anywhere in the NC). The accent is the same.

I keep the name of my blog as such to take note of that, and I hope we can get together. That whole Adirondack seccesionist movement was a pretty radical idea, I bet Allen would approve...


Week in Review: moe.down 7

Writing this from textedit since I'm supposed to be net-free for this week of vacation I took. It's been refreshing to not be refreshing my RSS reader every half hour for new blog posts on the sorry state of world affairs.

At any rate, the beginning of the vacation was taken in Turin, NY - the site of moe.down, a three day music festival at the Snow Ridge ski area. The weather was wet enough to get some of that good festival mud generated, but not too much as to ruin the overall event. Our neighbors were a bus full of amateur musicians who set up a pretty extensive camp with stage and kitchen. On a rainy, cool Sunday morning, they started a fire on the front lawn, which was eventually nixed by an eager security dude cruising in on a golf cart.

Here's a pic of a sculpture made with the remnants of the fire:

Our camp was a much simpler affair, but still quite functional:

As for the music, it was a good time to catch onto some new bands, moe. has a good ear for new talent. Cool acts on the second stage were Toubab Krewe, U Melt, and Moonshine Still. On the main stage, pieces of Phish were present; Paige McConnell and Fishman had their own band, and Mike Gordon played with a honky tonk band that has a regular gig at the Radio Bean, a tiny Burlington coffeeshop. The best show, in my opinion was the Umphrey's McGee set on Saturday night. Exercising their musical background, they played Zep's "Fool in the Rain" to pay tribute to the showers that happened throughout the set (with great timing with the music).

moe. themselves played a Friday, 2 Saturday and a Sunday set. I haven't listened much to them since I saw them last, a SUNY Potsdam spring concert event some time ago, where I was probably not in a condition to objectively evaluate them. I tried to do a little crash course in moe. tunes by listening to the one live show I had of theirs. Surprisingly, they hit tunes I knew at least once a set, which always helps a show. They brought out other guests frequently, including Paige, Gordon Stone, Jake Cinniger, and some dumb trumpet player who spent more time jumping up and down like that Bosstone.

Getting out was pretty easy, thanks to the power of my Golf's diesel engine. We booked it on Sunday night, beat the crowd, and had a great night drive through the North Country back to Malone, where we regrouped and headed back out into the rain for a few days of camping in the St. Regis Canoe Area. More on that later. Now, it's time to head out to the Burlington South End Art Hop.