October 29, 2009

Climate Cover-Up

Those of you who haven't visited DeSmogBlog.com should do so. A great site that works with diligence to source out and debunk the host of lobbyist-funded climate change skeptics causing confusion in the world of media.

Chances are you've come across a host of them. If you're at all skeptical about climate change, you've been suckered in. Any and all climate scientists will tell you that dramatic change is happening to our climate, and we have something to do with it.

Anything else is carefully-planned confusion by big energy groups who stand to lose a ton of money.

A new book called, Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore, exposes the global-warming denial campaign in vicious, irrefutable fashion. This book isn't some silly bit of finger-waving by activists, but a concise, well-researched (thanks in large part to my friend, Kevin Grandia) piece of journalism by people who have been immersed in the PR industry for decades.

These people are qualified to call shit...well, shit.

Here's a quote from a review of Climate Cover-Up in The Vancouver Sun:

"Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming is a remarkable deconstruction of what he (Hoggan) argues is a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign whose goal is to set the agenda in climate policy by discrediting legitimate science and manipulating public perceptions of the scientific evidence.

This isn't a book about the science behind global warming scenarios, it's an analysis by a well-informed insider of how the debate was skilfully framed by public relations experts to call that science into question, exploit the media's weakness for a good controversy and ultimately to sow confusion and doubt in the public's mind."

October 19, 2009

The Passionate Eye

The date rolled by this year without so much as a second thought from me. The horror of what happened on Sept. 11/2001 now displaced amongst news blurbs, the shitty "9/11" pseudo-pun, the massive amount of conspiracy speculation. Kind of bothers me how my weariness of rhetoric also makes me callous.

Last night, 102 Minutes That Changed the World (also known as 102 Minutes That Changed America) played on CBC's The Passionate Eye. If ever there is a reason to keep CBC alive, it's The Passionate Eye. That and Rick Mercer.

The "102 Minute..." documentary covered the events of Sept. 11 from the impact of the first jet into the World Trade Center, to the collapse of the last remaining tower--almost entirely from raw footage gathered from over 100 sources. No commentary from imbecilic news reporters, no manipulative agenda (that I could see). Just the events cobbled together from personal videos, phone videos, sound bites, phone calls, CB radio between firefighters and central hubs etc.

Watching it I felt like I was being repeatedly kicked in the balls. The footage (some not seen anywhere else) made me queasy: a mother behind the camera, telling her kids to go lie down in the other room while her and her husband watch out their windows, as the buildings fall a few miles away. Young adults--about the same distance away, though in a different direction--musing at what we know to be people leaping to their deaths from 80 odd floors up. They could be chairs, they must be chairs. And then, mid-sentence, the second jet hits, windows rattle, the people in the apartment scream, the camera's scope fills with fire.

Another moment--this one a sound clip--has a dispatch operator telling a lady who's managed to get through on her cell phone to stay put. Help is coming, don't go down the stairs, they may not be safe. The woman, so close to panic but trying to stay positive, talks of injured people, smoke. Break a window if you have to, she's told.

The entire time I watched, and listened, I thought any other context and this shit would be entertainment, right? I mean, we'd pay money to watch a movie like this, its drama and horror and unresolved pathos. Yet because I know this actually happened, two months after I got married, and my first day back to college after 4 years--the irony is weighed down with a certain gravity--which may be nothing more than proximity, really. A crude form of self-concern? How odd.

October 2, 2009

Review: Alice In Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue

Grade 10 and a schoolmate hands me a cassette tape--one of the new, clear kinds that allow you the benign pleasure of watching the ribbon unwind from one spool and load up another. Facelift by Alice in Chains. I played that bastard until the tape warped. By the time Dirt came out, they were my faves and all subsequent releases only solidified this. Why? Their dirge-like power chords, the sorrowful harmonies, the fucking wretched sick that was Staley's voice. How often does one get to listen to a band where the singer's voice actually physically embodies the misery he sings about?

Staley's Death:
Expected but tragic nonetheless. I remember phoning my wife at work when it happened, just to talk. I was gutted, feeling like I lost some of my own identity with music--silly as that sounds. Spent the day playing the old albums quietly and writing. I remembered when John Lennon was shot and the hush that came over the parents of my friends. Wondered if my own petty responses were of the same ilk.

The New Album:

When I heard mutterings this was going to happen I thought I couldn't listen to it. No reason to. But I caught clips of the music from time to time, the fat hooks, the familiar harmonies. I got excited about it all and now, CD in hand, I've cruised through the tracks on Black Gives Way to Blue twice.

It's good, really good. Ethereal, gliding, moody as hell. Beautiful sound, outstanding harmonies. Parts of the album border on greatness--especially the ones where all you can do is imagine Layne's voice singing, as if the melodies are rightfully his (which they are not, of course). It's a bit tragic, really, and I think this is a significant, though understandable, problem.

William Duvall has a good voice; good control, nice range. But it doesn't always come out on this CD. The vocal tracks often sound over-produced, I suspect in an attempt to try and re-create a Staley-esque type of aesthetic. The whole album isn't like this, only a few tracks. Perhaps it makes sense, as this is a segue album to a potentially new era for the band. But on the other hand, it's unnecessary.

Cantrell has always written most of the songs, the band really being more a product of his talents than Layne's--and I say this not to downplay Staley, whose voice was and is the most haunting and beautiful thing I've ever heard. But I don't think his death necessitates the end of the band's sound, nor do I think they need to try too hard to recreate it on their new albums. Cantrell's song writing brings out the familiar AIC sound. Duvall's voice should be new and inviting--which it often is. But not always.

I will say this: Duvall is the right replacement. His voice is congruous with the music, works with it, sounds professional without any bombast.

I can't remember the last time I ventured into a music store with the excitement only brought to a person who knows exactly why they've walked through the door--and for what. All the shit I hear on the radio today--my sad recognition that I'm no longer on the up and up when it comes to current music. Today is different. A nostalgic grail, the sounds of the greatest era of music for my generation, the kind that puts an ache in my chest--just a little.

Did I mention I also purchased a new flannel shirt?