With notes this week on hippies, raconteurs, the M8 controversy, and a dead Russian.

Hippies · When you think about all the subcultures that have streamed by over the decades, mostly they come and go; but in each new young generation a certain small proportion, it seems, wants to be hippies. It’s no longer reasonable to be a beatnik or a punk of the old style, and I doubt that the goths or emos will make it much out of this decade, but the hippies seem to self-renew.

This was brought to mind when last week I visited friend & IETF colleague Paul Hoffman in his Santa Cruz digs; we went for a walk to the Farmers’ Market, which was pretty well Hippie Central. I particularly liked the T-shirt that said Keep Santa Cruz Weird. The food on sale looked scrumptious; I wanted to buy lots but I figured the Canada Customs people at the airport might have an issue. Here’s a picture of some salad pre-mix with edible flowers; all-organic of course.

Salad pre-mix with edible flowers from the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market

The only big change over many decades since I was a hippie is that a certain proportion of them are now rastas as well, which is logical enough.

The Camera has No Clothes · For the best part of a year, the photo-geek community has been gathered in a circle gazing inward at the Leica M8; it’s insanely expensive, a rangefinder not a SLR, and acknowledged to be quirky. Oddly, serious reviews from serious publications have been thin. Suspicion is afoot that this because they don’t like saying nasty things about expensive flagship products. Well, Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer has done a medium-deep dive and wrote a two-parter Leica M8 Pro and Con: Pro and Leica M8 Pro and Con: Con. If you’re a camera geek, you probably want to read these.

My understanding of the Leica value proposition was a smallish, lightish, really fast-shooting camera with good optics. Which would suit my style just fine; none of the pictures I take that I like are planned. I’m beginning to think that one of the smaller DSLRs, equipped with a couple of the smaller lenses, like for example the teeny Pentax 40mm I just bought and perhaps its 21mm wide-ish angle companion are about the best support my photo-habit is going to get.

Raconteurs · I actually mean The Raconteurs, Jack White (of the White Stripes) collaborating with Brendan Benson and friends. I caught them playing a half-hour set on TV and was really knocked out; going to have to get their record. Well, maybe their rendition of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) was a little over the top; actually it was a lot over the top, but I’m not sure it 100% worked. But they played some nice ballad-y stuff and a crisply violent straight-ahead rocker and a completely deranged blues that kept veering between free jazz and Led Zep’s Since I’ve Been Loving You. Jack White makes his guitar do a lot of things and we disagree on whether some of them actually constitute music, but still, the song was really something special.

Slava · Ah, Rostropovich died. I have absolutely nothing to add to what I wrote here.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Robert Sayre (Apr 29 2007, at 22:37)

My last trip to Santa Cruz was a trip. Item: My girlfriend and I were heckled on the sidewalk by a group of goth children who shouted "yuppies!" at us. I am pretty sure their parents make lots more money than I do. Item: We were there for the Farmer's Market and there was a drum circle going on. I started to walk over and watch for a second, but my girlfriend grabbed my arm and asked if they would mind. I assured her that they wouldn't. I grew up in Oregon; she didn't. Item: I think your visual style is more suited to large format photography. I know you think you're off-the-cuff, but try a 4x5 field camera soon. Item: writing "Item:" makes me sad about fence post hierarchy in syndication formats.


From: Kevin Lipe (Apr 29 2007, at 23:20)

Hey, don't you mean "Since I've Been Loving You" by Led Zeppelin? Sorry for being pedantic, but I've been listening to the third Zep album on vinyl all weekend.



From: Byron (Apr 29 2007, at 23:23)

Er... goths have been around since the 1970s. They showed up about the same time as punks (the two are not unrelated).


From: Eric (Apr 30 2007, at 00:03)

Just FYI, the "Keep *your city name here* Weird" came from Austin in drive to promote local businesses. Austin has quite a hippie culture as well. I write this on the weekend of Eor's Birthday, a huge hippie fest full of drum circles and patchouli. What is somewhat ironic is that while Santa Cruz is a rather peace loving town, it is also home to most martial artist per capita in the nation and is home to some of the best Brazilian Jujitsu and Ultimate Fighters around. Both Ken and Frank Shamrock hail from Santa Cruz as well as a slew of Gracie's students.


From: Scot (Apr 30 2007, at 02:27)

Seeing as Goths have been around since the late 70's/early 80's (it's a genre that splintered off of punk, rather early on in punk's history), I wouldn't count them out just yet. They might fade away for awhile (like they faded away in the 90's), but I doubt they'll ever really disappear. After all, hippies have only been going for around a decade longer.


From: Ben Donley (Apr 30 2007, at 14:22)

Also there are a ton of brand new punk kids. They're different from old school punks, and they don't have drum circles in public places, so you aren't guaranteed to run into them.

The Santa Cruz psychobillies can't be the only ones, right? There are shiny punks at suburban malls, too, I think.

And Goths are definitely not about to leave us. Whether we will always have goths wearing *lace* is debatable.


From: Colin (Apr 30 2007, at 16:27)

Try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb3srWNFZqg for the deranged blues one ("Blue Veins" - although you probably saw the Austin City Limits version?) and their KCRW session is worth checking out at http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/mb/mb060803the_raconteurs

The Raconteurs are supposed to be finishing up recording their second album about now but it won't be released for a bit because of the next White Stripes album, "Icky Thump" (out in June) and touring commitments for that (including a trek around all of Canada - see http://www.whitestripes.com/lo-fi/shows.html)


From: Francis Hwang (Apr 30 2007, at 22:58)

Well, once upon a time you had individual subcultures, which would either rise up and seize control of mainstream culture, or simply die out anonymously. That's different now, and I suspect we'll have some iteration of goths, punks, hippies, and ravers -- don't forget ravers, someone's gotta take all that Ecstacy -- pretty much for the rest of our lives. The items of clothing may change but the attitudes will stay roughly the same. You could think of this as an early manifestation of the Long Tail, if you like.


From: Kris (May 01 2007, at 08:24)

Heh, Goths have actually been around WAY longer than that...



From: Stuart Marks (May 05 2007, at 08:46)

I too had the privilege of seeing Rostropovich perform a couple years ago when he played in SF. If I recall correctly, the performance included Dvorak's Cello Concerto. It was fabulous. I'm saddened by his passing.


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