Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Buke and Gass

It's so rare to find music that really hits that pleasure spot in my brain—the same spot that makes my eyes roll up in the back of my head when I fiercely scratch that mosquito bite that's been itching all afternoon. I mean really rare. There are songs that can get me going, hype me up, follow me around and stick in my head with T-1000-like tenacity (Hannah Georgas' Bang Bang You're Dead is the most recent example I have of that). But sometimes it's years between finding a band that just brings a smile to my face.

Buke and Gass are it right now. Their music gives me that blissed-out sensation. It's unlike anything I've ever heard before—just two people with homemade instruments, a modified bass ukulele and a hybrid guitar-bass; they also simultaneously play a kick drum and bells with their feet.  While they're singular in their sound, Buke and Gass's aesthetic is right up my alley—it's melodic, cacophonous, dynamic, fiery, percussive, and cerebral yet emotive. Mostly they just rock my socks off.

Judge for yourself.

PS Thanks Radiolab.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Mike Daisey's a monologist. Really he's a storyteller who draws on autobiographical material. I attended his performance of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, an examination of the history of Apple, the cult of Apple fandom, the "visionary-asshole" who is Steve Jobs, and most stirringly the seedy underbelly of electronics manufacturing.

Apparently half—HALF!—of all electronics in the world are produced by one company: Foxconn. Foxconn has its largest manufacturing facilities in Shenzhen, which is southern China, a town that grew from a fishing village of 500 (according to Daisey) to a city of 14 million in only the past 30 years. Their facilities employ 430,000 workers. They have 25 cafeterias that each feed 10,000 people at a time. Daisey, who went there, interviewed Foxconn factory workers about their working conditions and posed as an American businessman to get access to the insides of the factories to see what the conditions were actually like. His report, not surprisingly, is hella depressing. While he was there a worker died from exhaustion after a 32-hour shift. He met factory workers who were as young as 11 years old. He met an employee who was labeled a troublemaker and blacklisted by the labor board after asking why she was not receiving overtime pay for working 105-hour weeks. He saw the netting that was installed around the office and factory buildings at Foxconn after a series of workers committed suicide by jumping from the roofs.

Despite all this, Daisey still loves his technology. He remains optimistic that things will change because, he says, "they do change." He notes how Apple was once near the Greenpeace's dirtiest companies (due to their uses of heavy metals, packaging waste, etc.). Now Apple is atop Greenpeace's list of cleanest companies. Why is that? Primarily pressure from consumers. I plan on emailing my buddy Steve Jobs about it soon.