A mountain is a living thing

The National Film Board of Canada was founded in 1939 in part as a way to distribute World War II propaganda throughout the Great White North, but went on to become a bastion for experimental animation, “socially relevant documentaries” and other film projects “which provoke discussion and debate on subjects of interest to Canadian audiences and foreign markets.” In particular the NFB is known for producing some of the dreamiest nature documentaries of modern times — it’s where Boards of Canada got their name and a lot of their soft-focus naturalist vibes. And now the NFB has started posting their library of films online.

A lot of these docs are wordless montages of natural imagery accompanied by droning Eno/Tangerine Dream-style synthesizer soundtracks — our favorite so far is William Canning’s 26-minute short Temples of Time (1971), described by the NFB as follows:

A mountain is a living thing; it has an ecological balance, a process of evolution manifested in slow, subtle ways; but it is also subject to the ravages of human intervention. Filmed in the Canadian Rockies and in Garibaldi Park, this picture brings to the screen magnificent footage of mountain solitudes and the wildlife found there, of natural splendor in all its changing moods. The film carries the implicit warning that all this may pass away if people do not seek to preserve it.

Hook your computer up to your stereo for the full effect of Edward Kalehoff’s warbling synth drone soundtrack. Who needs to figure out the whole new digital TV upgrade chip whatever thing when we’ve got this treasure trove to explore? More to come …

Note: The NFB’s online library is brand new and still a little wonky from time to time. If the embedded Temples of Time isn’t working for you, go here to watch it on the NFB site.

"LED ZEPPELIN PLAYED HERE" preview by Jeff Krulik


Part rough-cut, part camera test, this video is going to be part of a longer documentary project about the evolution of the concert industry in the 1960s, early 70s DC/MD/VA area, told through the words of promoters, musicians, journalists and the fans.

If you were at the Wheaton Youth Center when LED ZEPPELIN PLAYED HERE, please get in touch:


And a special thank you to Brian and Andre Dahlman of http://www.hiptv.com for helping with this video.

hipped to this via Andy Giles!

The Small Science Collective

SSC Zine Library

The Small Science Collective makes free, totally awesome zines about earwigs, protein structure, intestinal bacteria and facial gestures. Their motivation for this DIY public science publishing project? “Overall scientific literacy in the U.S lags at the very same time that the privatizing and patenting of scientific knowledge becomes more and more common.”

Some of the zines are charmingly straight and to the point like science fair projects, others are collaborations between astrophysicists and graphic designers looking into the “gossip and hearsay about the universal nature of spiral forms.

spirals within spirals

All the SSC zines are available as downloadable PDFs, and are distributed for free in “subways, benches, coffee shops, and any place someone might least expect them. Perhaps catching the attention of strangers who might what to learn something new about ants, spirals, food, or genetics?” Or those who want to know how to best play host to the parasitic bot fly.

So Easy!

Check out the full zine library here. Print one out, follow the folding instructions and pass it along. They’re looking for new contributors too. Sweet. Read their manifesto after the jump. (via Bug Girl’s Blog.)

Continue reading

And this is what you call a proper interview: STERLING MORRISON (Velvet Underground), 1980

Sterling Morrison – wikipedia entry

Found floating on the internet:

Sterling Morrison: Reflections In A Lone Star Beer
by Nick Modern, et al

The complete transcript of this interview originally appeared in SLUGGO magazine. It was reprinted in NYROCKER July/August 1980.

SLUGGO: What do you think of this music compared to what you used to play? Or what you’re playing now?
STERLING MORRISON: What I play now is different. But this is very close to what we used to play. What I’m doing now is a diddling homage to old rock ‘n’ roll.

S: Do you think New Wave is new, or is it just a rehashing of old stuff?
SM: I’m afraid to say what I think about New Wave.

S: Don’t be. Go ahead. Please.
SM: I’m worried a whole lot about it. People that have known me know that the major bitch in my life has been between rock ‘n’ roll and folk singers. That’s it.

S: Is New Wave rock ‘n’ roll or is it folk?
SM: I’m afraid it’s folk singing and this pains me.

S: What do you mean, it’s folk singing?
SM: Well, let’s drag Lou Reed into this. (Not to embellish me or diminish him.) Lou and I had some of the shittiest bands that ever were. They were shitty because we were playing authentic rock ‘n’ roll. If you were playing authentic rock ‘n’ roll in 1963 that meant you were playing the stuff that people think it’s very fashionable to revive now… Old Chuck Berry and Jimmy Reed.

S: Why do you say that New Wave music is folk music?
SM: Maybe I’m trapped by certain beliefs, but in the early ’60s, on college campuses, you went one of two ways. Either you were a very sensitive young person, who cared about air pollution and civil rights and anti-Vietnam or you were a very unsensitive young person, who didn’t care about civil rights because all the blacks he knew were playing in his band or in his audience. I was a very unsensitive young person and played very unsensitive, uncaring music. Which is Wham, Bam, Pow! Let’s Rock Out! What I expected my audience to do was tear the house down, beat me up, whatever. Lou and I came from the identical environment of Long Island rock ‘n’ roll bars, where you can drink anything at 18, everybody had phony proof at 16; I was a night crawler in high school and played some of the sleaziest bars. You can’t quite imagine them in Texas – people didn’t carry guns, that’s the only difference. In the ’60s, I had King Hatreds. I was a biker type and hung around with nasty black people and nasty white people and black rock ‘n’ roll music. On the other hand, you had very sensitive and responsible young people suddenly attuned to certain cosmic questions that beckon us all, and expressing these concerns through acoustic guitars and lilting harmonies and pale melodies. I hate these people.

S: Do you think we should go back to the basics?
SM: Yeah. When I talked with Joe Nick Patoski, he said, what do I think the future of rock ‘n’ roll music is? And I said, “Whatever’s being played in garage band today.” And I believe that! It excludes so much. What does a garage band do with ELO? Nothing. ELO doesn’t exist. What do they do with Fleetwood Mac? Nothing. the whole joy of rock ‘n’ roll music was anybody could play it if they wanted to.
But the ’60s fouled that whole thing up. Everybody decided to get good and they pursued virtuosity. The thing that ruined music was virtuosity – competence – as an end in itself. It means nothing. It was a very terrible thing.

S: But what were you trying to accomplish with the Velvet Underground? Just play music?
SM: It was self indulgence. We wanted to play a certain kind of music. However far we could carry it, more power to us.
We were fired from our first gig as the Velvet Underground. We played “Black Angel’s Death Song” and the owner came up to us on a break and said, “You play that song one more time and you’re fired.” So we opened with it next set. The best version of it perhaps ever played. We just wanted to do whatever we wanted to do. And some people came up and said, “Hey, would you like to have a record contract?” We said, “Might as well.”

S: Who in New Wave makes you “afraid” of it being folk music?
SM: Look at a recent Rolling Stone – it’s happening to Elvis Costello: “You’re rocking to Elvis Costello, but did you ever sit down, Jack, and listen to the lyrics?” Well, no Jack, I never sit down and listen to lyrics, because rock ‘n’ roll is not sit-down-and-listen-to-lyrics music! Why is it that the Velvet Underground’s celebrated lyricsmiths never published a lyrics sheet? Was that to make you strain to hear the lyrics that you could never hear? No. It’s because they were saying, “Fuck you. If you wanna listen to lyrics, then read the New York Times.” It has nothing to do with the intellectual apprehension of content.

S: Everything I’ve heard about the Velvet Underground made them seem very gloomy…
SM: We used to play the Whisky A Go Go all the time, so how gloomy could we have been?

S: Well, “Sister Ray” still seems to me like a really perverse song…
SM: It’s a good dance song! I presume that nobody can hear the lyrics – I did my best to drown them out!

S: Why do you have such an aversion toward people who talk to you?
SM: ‘Cause I read books!

S: You don’t believe you can get the same stuff through music?
SM: Anybody who needs Bob Dylan to tell him which way the wind is blowing is a serious mental defective. See, I go back to: How well can you hear the words in a rock ‘n’ roll song? Listen to Rolling Stones records. The words are mixed so far back… they are non-important. If you’re going to rock music to learn something verbally rather than physically or viscerally, then you’re in a sad shape, baby. Death to me – and one of the reasons I wanted to stop playing – was when when we had start doing these giant sit-down things – where you stood on the edge of the stage and you’d look at people sitting down, gazing up reverently.
Continue reading