Posted by: cannedcumulus | February 13, 2009

Flow: For Love of Water

What if one day you turned on the faucet and nothing came out?  What if you went through the entire day with not a drop to drink?  Finally, with aching pains in your stomach, you try one final time and a spurt of blackish brown water spurts out.  You quickly cup it to your lips, careful not to spill a single drop and feel its comforting wetness on your parched throat.  A few days later, you are dead from cholera.

A couple of days ago, the assignment for one of my classes was to watch the movie,flow-719407 “Flow: For Love of Water.” It was being screened in the theater of my school so the class was canceled and we went to go watch it.  Walking out of that theater, my notions about the future of water were completely changed.

I have known that water is becoming scarcer and scarcer of a resource for a while.  However, I had no idea the problem was so bad.  I have to be honest: Flow probably scared me more than any other film I’ve ever seen.  The possibilities and repercussions discussed in the eighty- five minutes of this film were absolutely terrible.  Among the issues discussed was the privatization of water supplies, bottled water and its stranglehold on various town’s water supplies, and the lack of clean drinking water around the world.  All in all, it was a very effective movie and certainly motivated me to get interested in the topic so that I can possibly be able to have a clean glass of water in the next twenty years.  Below is the trailer for the film:

Privatization of water supplies for bottling companies is actually something I am familiar with from my own experiences so I immediately identified with many parts of this film.  This last summer, Nestle, operating under its subsidiary, Poland Spring, tried to buy the rights to a large chunk of my town’s water supply in flowmovieframe2Kennebunk, Maine.  Protests erupted from every which way and eventually Nestle was not allowed to come in and pump.  Seeing Flow and looking back at this summer, I am truly grateful some people had the common sense to see this immense problem coming.  In the film, there is a less fortunate town in Michigan that had their water supply almost completely destroyed by Nestle and their irresponsible pumping tactics.  It seemed like no one was there to stop the big corporation from completely draining the public’s water supply.  This was one of the most frightening things in the movie: the government and public officials would not stand up for the public interest.  Corruption was everywhere!  When water is a $400 billion dollar industry, will politicians stand up for their constituents or buy into the industry?  Kennebunk might have made the right decision for now, but what about other towns that might not be so lucky?

On a global scale, privatization of water resources seems to be disastrous.  Whoever thought of selling a common resource is both a genius and the worst kind of person in the world at the same time.  While they may make tons of money fromflow it, all of that cash is from sucking the world dry, even the poorest of the poor.  It is one of the most immoral schemes I have heard in a long time.

Flow did bring up some solutions.  One segment focused on UV water treatment in India and the method seemed to work miracles.  I think that if some money was put into researching and producing more of these machines, a big damper could be put on the problem of dwindling water supplies.  However, it wouldn’t stop the privatization of water resources.  For this, the people must get involved.  At the film’s website, flowthefilm.com, there is a list of organizations that one can look into to possibly get involved.  First, however, I would heartily recommend watching the movie.  It can be rented on Netflix and on other sites I’m sure, as well as purchased at Amazon and other online marketplaces.

No matter what, we must get involved or we will have a crisis on our hands.

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Posted by: cannedcumulus | February 9, 2009

Ice on the Hudson

The Hudson froze today…

Ice on the Hudson © J. Sullivan 2009

Ice on the Hudson © J. Sullivan 2009

It was fascinating watching the huge chunks of ice collide into each other and either sink or float further down the river…

Posted by: cannedcumulus | February 3, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009 Initial Lineup Announced

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The initial Bonnaroo lineup has now been officially announced, putting to end months of speculation.  The lineup is as follows (Bold being ones I am psyched about):

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Phish (two shows)
Beastie Boys
Nine Inch Nails

David Byrne
Wilco
Al Green
Snoop Dogg

Elvis Costello Solo
Erykah Badu
Paul Oakenfold
Ben Harper and Relentless7
The Mars Volta
TV on the Radio

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Gov’t Mule
Andrew Bird
Merle Haggard
MGMT
moe.
The Decemberists
Girl Talk

Bon Iver
Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabate
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Galactic

The Del McCoury Band
Of Montreal
Allen Toussaint
Coheed and Cambria

Booker T & the DBTs
David Grisman Quintet
Lucinda Williams
Animal Collective
Gomez
Neko Case
Down
Jenny Lewis
Santogold
Band of Horses
Robert Earl Keen
Citizen Cope
Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
The Ting Tings
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Kaki King
Grizzly Bear
King Sunny Adé
Okkervil River
St. Vincent
Zac Brown Band
Raphael Saadiq
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Crystal Castles

Tift Merritt
Brett Dennen
Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue
Toubab Krewe
People Under the Stairs
Alejandro Escovedo
Vieux Farka Touré
Elvis Perkins In Dearland
Cherryholmes
Yeasayer
Todd Snider
Chairlift
Portugal. The Man.
The SteelDrivers
Midnite
The Knux
The Low Anthem
Delta Spirit
A.A. Bondy
The Lovell Sisters
Alberta Cross

So there we have it, possibly one of the best concerts of the summer, since bonnaroo_image1Coachella announced its rather lackluster lineup (at least to me).  I think the variety in the headliners is great and will draw a very good crowd, especially with the reunion of Phish and 2 SHOWS!

More artists are to be announced in the coming months but I believe the good folks at Bonnaroo already deserve a hand for rounding up this amazing crowd of fine musicians.  The festival takes place June 11th- 14th in Manchester, Tennessee.

Posted by: cannedcumulus | January 26, 2009

the frog of wood

A handmade frog of wood is perched precariously upon my desk’s edge.  Its carvings bear marks of painstaking effort and an engineering mind.  Deep brown in coloring and with fine wood grain texture, it charismatically smiles and stares at me.  Strange ridges run down its back and it sits in a squat, its arms and legs ready to spring into action, propelling it forward in a strong leap.  It holds in its mouth a rod of the same wood grain texture and composition.  I remove it from its place in the frog’s mouth and rub this upon its ridged back.  The quintessential sound of summer emanates from within this statue’s hollow insides; a bright chirping noise with a slight grating, the song of the evening peepers that lull small children to sleep in the country night, their window open to the stars and beyond.  It is almost as if Earth wanted man to remember it, their home planet, when he transcended those great stars of the night sky to achieve his place in the universe, the Earth long since grown too primitive to satisfy his needs.  The sound of those country peepers would remain with him in his head, sounds from his very beginnings: his roots: the sounds of nature.

Night falls on this room, the straggling light of the sun fades from the open window and the previously unnoticeable blue lights lining the decorated walls illuminate this wooden effigy of the frog like those bright celestial lights in the evening sky.  Night falls: and I sit at this desk, admiring the handiwork of the craftsman who fashioned this musical image.  Surrounded by technology, suffocated by its ever-growing presence, this wooden frog stands as a remnant of a lost craft; hand crafted and refusing to bow to new, more “efficient” and godless ways of working.  It sits poised, bathing in the baptizing blue light of the room, ever staring, ever chirping; long after the nearby computer and television blow out and are tossed aside, the frog will continue to stare and chirp its song of nature.

The room fades until there is no light and everything is obscured in darkness.  The room and the tiny wooden frog still exist in the blackness but only as a memory for now, a dream, in my mind and on these pages.

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Posted by: cannedcumulus | January 23, 2009

The Beginning of an End

Marist's Hudson #1 © J. Sullivan 2009

Marist's Hudson #1 © J. Sullivan 2009

At this moment, as I sit quietly at my desk, I know that my final semester at this beautiful and surreal place called Marist College is upon me.  After this semester, I will no longer be regularly traversing the long distance between Poughkeepsie, New York and Kennebunk, Maine, leading a sort of double life.  I will be free from this strange world called college with the world at my feet, but I will also be vulnerable and untested in real waters of harsh reality.  Nevertheless, I believe I have grown exponentially since coming here in the fall of 2005 as a timid freshman and I have complete confidence that I finally am ready to take on any challenges through smart problem solving and determination.  I look forward to proving myself as a competitor with skill and intelligence to contribute in the global story.  This semester as a start will be exciting and filled with lots of work.  I will be making a narrative film this semester, as well as taking up photojournalism and screenwriting.  But for now and tonight, I can only look to the future, ready for anything and looking forward to everything as a challenge to be met and bested.  Let’s go!

Marist's Hudson #2 © J.Sullivan 2009

Marist's Hudson #2 © J.Sullivan 2009

Posted by: cannedcumulus | January 20, 2009

Obama: A President We Can Respect

While some people may be sick of the constant press surrounding today, I for one wholeheartedly welcome it and have been waiting for this day since 2002.  While it is true that this term we will undoubtedly be disappointed in many ways by partisan bickering and politics as usual, one cannot help but feel hope that for the first time in eight long years, things will get better and a new era is dawning in America.

When Bush took the 2004 election, I swore off politics and the American people as unreacheable and idiotic, as the country voted once again for the candidate whom they thought was more “moral” when really his team was just the opposite.  The government, I believed, had failed us and it was no more than a machine to bend to the will to those who held power.  As Obama started to rise in popularity last year, however, I glimpsed moments of redemption in the American people.  Intelligence and deep thought seemed to be returning to the land after a long hiatus.  Today, I finally once again can say that I am proud of my country and really say it with conviction.  Sure, we still have our flaws and soon we will have to face the reality of our immense problems and all of our differences that we still have.

But today, I walked out of my class and straight into a crowd of people huddled around a TV in the lobby of the building, listening to wise Obama’s words.  I couldn’t help but feel the oneness in the room and the nation as we all stood, as Americans, and welcomed our new president into office.  While rhetoric may not solve all our problems, I believe Obama has the determination and skills to put his words into action.  Speaking for myself and probably a great many others, I am glad to have a president that I can finally respect.  It’s our time now!

obama

Posted by: cannedcumulus | January 17, 2009

The Tragic Demise of the State Theater

The lights suddenly go off.  You and a sellout crowd of 1,500 are plunged into darkness as screams erupt from all around you.  Silhouetted figures take their places in front of you on a monstrous stage.  No, this isn’t a horror or disaster movie, in fact, quite the opposite.  This is a live concert of your favorite band and you are mere feet away from the lead guitarist.  It doesn’t get better than this.

When I was but a young lad in high school, I remember with fondness the memories of the ultimate destination for national touring bands to come to Mainestate_follow_inside and rock the city of Portland.  Concerts were my lifeblood and the State Theater was my favorite intimate venue, due to its relatively close proximity to my town, its reputation and history as a real concert hall as opposed to a bar with a stage, and the multi- tiered standing room.  Seats were not for sitting; to see the band, you had to go on the floor and earn your spot.  The relatively small size of the venue allowed you to be as close to the bands as you truly desired.  Everything about the venue seemed to be just perfect and bands and comedians loved to perform within its hallowed halls, including Guster, Moe., Thursday, Reel Big Fish, String Cheese Incident, My Morning Jacket, Sigur Ros, Stephen Lynch and Mitch Hedberg.  In fact, Guster liked the venue so much they played a two- night stand at the State for 175095_1_fthe filming of their 2004 DVD, Guster on Ice.  I remember being at the Friday night show, helping some of my friends hold up a sign requesting a song.  The lead singer, Ryan Miller, read it from the stage and the band proceeded to play it.  I’ve never seen the DVD but I’ve always wondered if my beaming face made it onto the final cut.  The thrill of seeing one of your favorite bands, coupled with the possibility of being on their film is a huge rush and one of my favorite memories of this wonderful venue.  Below is a video of one of the songs from the DVD set, “Happier.”  I think it really captures the spirit of the Theater and the adrenaline that flowed when songs got into full swing with the audience singing along.  If you don’t want to watch the whole song (which you should, it’s a great song!), at least view a part with a shot of the audience and stage.

Even when I was in high school, however, the Theater had its problems.  It was shut down for a short period in 2004- 2005 when it encountered a problem with fire hazards.  I spoke to the manager, Chris Morgan, during an interview for my high school newspaper.  He seemed optimistic that it would open again soon and indeed, it opened by the spring of 2005, ready for more concerts.

I left for college in the fall of 2005 and when I returned for the summer of 2006, I looked forward to a summer of concerts at the State.  I was sorely disappointed when I realized that it had closed indefinitely with no plans to reopen at the time.  I assumed it was for those pesky (but absolutely necessary) fire codes again.  However, it was actually due to a dispute between Morgan and the property owner, Grant Wilson of Stone Coast Properties.  Since then, the State Theater has remained closed and national touring music in Maine has been all but non- existent.  Bars like the Asylum up in Portland will sometimes get a decent touring band, but these dates are few compared to the glory days of the State and are usually not well publicized.  The Space is a very small dedicated arts venue for gallery and music use, but the bands they get are usually very small and indie, whereas the State Theatre would usually get already established acts or civiccentercolorsmall1up and comers.  The Cumberland County Civic Center will sometimes host very large arena concerts but it is not intimate at all like the State Theater was and these concerts are very rare as well.  The closest venue akin to the State Theatre in the area is the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire, but concerts are only booked in the Summer.  The winter months leave a dreary dearth of nationally recognized music in Northern New England.  While I suppose this is good for up- and- coming local bands, it would be nice to have a bit more well- known bands in the area.

So, the State Theater lives on in the memories of those who can remember its nights of glory, their ticket stubs their only tangible evidence of the deeper soul behind the boarded- up facade of the Theater.  One of mine is particularly special to me: a Mitch Hedberg signed (i.e. drunkenly scribbled) ticket stub dated November 9th, 2004, four months before his tragic death.  Rest In Peace Mr. Hedberg and hopefully someday the Theater which you filled with the sound of laughter will once again open its doors for a new era of entertainment and memories.

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Posted by: cannedcumulus | January 15, 2009

It’s all in what you see: HDR Photography and its wondrous results

The Backyard Wild © J. Sullivan 2008

The Backyard Wild © J. Sullivan 2008

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography has been around for a long time and has been utilized by many different photographers, famous and obscure.  Recent developments in computer technology have made it much easier for both professionals and casual photographers to experiment with HDR photography and unleash their creative potential with these types of photographs.

House on Kennebunk Beach © John Sullivan 2009

House on Kennebunk Beach © John Sullivan 2009

HDR photographs are created through the overlapping of three nearly identical images, the only differences between them being the exposure settings; one of them is underexposed, another is normally exposed and finally one is overexposed.  Upon combining these three together in a computer program and tone mapping the image, much more detail is revealed.  Overexposed areas can be brought down and details can be seen finally in the shadowed areas, previously invisible to us. This is a very simple explanation and a more detailed explanation can be found in this article. Also, other people’s examples can be seen here or here.

Kennebunk Beach © J. Sullivan 2009

Kennebunk Beach © J. Sullivan 2009

Many people think that this type of photography seems daunting and only professionals can do it.  This is absolutely  untrue.  A new software program called PhotoMatix has now made it easy for even a casual photographer like myself to create breathtaking and creatively inspired images with a surreal hint to them.  The only knowledge required is a basic knowledge of aperture settings and focus controls.

Kennebunk Beach © J. Sullivan 2009

Kennebunk Beach © J. Sullivan 2009

With these techniques, I have created four images so far which I have put throughout this post, one of which is also my header on my blog.  I hope you enjoylooking at them as much as I enjoyed creating them.  Remember, a camera takes a snapshot of what it sees as a machine; you have to make it align to your human vision of the world!

Posted by: cannedcumulus | January 11, 2009

The Beatles- Costumed Metal Grandaddies?

Many music connoisseurs and Beatles fanatics will tell you that the song “Helter Skelter” off of disk two of the White Album was the closest the Beatles ever came to creating a metal song.  The heavily distorted guitar wailing from power chords to wild solos, the crunching overdriven bass line, the drums utilizing elaborate drum fills as well as pervasive crash cymbals and Paul’s wild wail of chaos and anarchy all point to the beginnings of punk and metal and a wild step away from the traditional Beatles songs.  In fact, even John Lennon said that “Helter Skelter” was “Paul’s completely … It has nothing to do with anything, and least of all to do with me,” distancing himself from the wild chaos ride of the song.  The Beatles sound to many was all about bubblegum pop blossoming into an immensely diverse sound that explored the boundaries of music at the time, but “Helter Skelter” was the only song really ever tied to punk/metal.  However, if one looks at the album Magical Mystery Tour, and specifically the song “I Am The Walrus,” another striking evolutionary step towards the creation of metal can be found.

Watching The Beatles in their movie, The Magical Mystery Tour, really lets you see this interesting similarity firsthand (First glimpse at 1:00):

magical mystery tour album cover

Magical Mystery Tour album cover

Now take a look at some modern “metal” bands:

Les Claypool of Primus

Les Claypool of Primus

Kiss

Kiss

Gwar

Gwar

The similarities are incredible; the Beatles created a template for the look of future hair metal and heavy metal bands, before metal was even an idea or sound.  Although “Helter Skelter” is most widely regarded as the Beatle’s predecessor  to the “metal” sound, who would have thought back in 1967 that “I am the Walrus” and the psychadelic Magical Mystery Tour would breed the future fashion statements of all metal heads?  Unfortunately, many young metal enthusiasts don’t believe that the Beatles really had anything worth listening to and prefer to idolize Insane Clown Posse instead, as demonstrated in some of the responses on this message board.  A true metal fan today would be well inclined to appreciate  a wider array of music and perhaps respect his distantly aged elders, as well as his more recent ones.

“I got blisters on my fingers!”

Posted by: cannedcumulus | January 8, 2009

Clouds in a Can

cannedcumulus3

As humans living in the Industrial Age, we seek to contain and assimilate everything into our everyday lives; we seek to bend nature to our whim.  Everything is dumbed down; everything can be explained with rational scientific thought and controlled with proper scientific method.

Even with all this scientific knowledge, however, nothing can compare to emptying the mind and just wondering about everything in the world; to do this, one must try to see as a child might see or as our ancient ancestors in their mythopoeic societies.

cloudsbirthplace

I want to go to the ends of the Earth, the literal dropping off point.

I want to see the birthplace of the clouds in the middle of the ocean, foggy, living, breathing, with clouds rising up from the water to begin their journey floating on so far above us.

If one can imagine this place, it exists.  While science is truly a great art, nature is meant to be admired for what it is and that is beautiful and wondrous.  In becoming masters of the Earth, we have lost our vital ancient connection with it as our Mother.

Do not constrain.

Reconnect.

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