Friday, July 31, 2009

What Nonsense: Jury awards $675K in Boston music downloading case

Jury awards $675K in Boston music downloading case

by DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press Writer - Sat Aug 1, 2009 12:57AM EDT

BOSTON - A federal jury on Friday ordered a Boston University graduate student who admitted illegally downloading and sharing music online to pay $675,000 to four record labels.

Joel Tenenbaum, of Providence, R.I., admitted in court that he downloaded and distributed 30 songs. The only issue for the jury to decide was how much in damages to award the record labels. Under federal law, the recording companies were entitled to $750 to $30,000 per infringement. But the law allows as much as $150,000 per track if the jury finds the infringements were willful. The maximum jurors could have awarded in Tenenbaum's case was $4.5 million. Jurors ordered Tenenbaum to pay $22,500 for each incident of copyright infringement, effectively finding that his actions were willful. The attorney for the 25-year-old student had asked the jury earlier Friday to "send a message" to the music industry by awarding only minimal damages. Tenenbaum said he was thankful that the case wasn't in the millions and contrasted the significance of his fine with the maximum. "That to me sends a message of 'We considered your side with some legitimacy,'" he said. "$4.5 million would have been, 'We don't buy it at all.'" He added he will file for bankruptcy if the verdict stands.

read the rest here:

What nonsense. If some guy stole 18 compact disc from Costco would he have been fined $675K? Of course not. Heck, if someone stole the equivalent of thirty songs--about $30--and it was a Federal crime, would the fine have been this high? Of course not. Even the minimum fine of $750 per song would have been a pretty stiff penalty: $22,500. This fine is crap.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nostalgia and Fieldwork

A nice post on the topic by anthropolgist Kimberly Christen at her blog.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Racist Message Made Public

It seems like every other day we read about someone who creates or forwards racist emails, mostly about African Americans. In the political arena, the messages are mostly about President Obama (recent examples include politicians and political operative, as well as a doctor active in the health care reform debate). Today it's a policeman in Boston who calls Henry Louis Gates a "banana-eating jungle monkey." He uses the term "jungle monkey" at least three times. And, predictably, he declares that he is not a racist. He was relieved of his duties and may be terminated. Not singling out that case specifically, but looking at all of the recent cases overall, there seems to be a real ignorance on the part of these people that not only do a lot of people of all colors find this offensive, but also that not everyone does this kind of stuff. The main line of defense tends to be, "I didn't make it up, I just forwarded it" or "everybody does it." What these people don't understand is that, no, everybody does not do it. While this defense does not apply to the policeman's case (he wrote the email with the intent to publish), these weekly incidents serve as reminder of the disconnect between sectors of our society on race. A lot of people just don't get it that these things are not cool, not everybody does them or likes them. There is an evolution of attitudes regarding race (particularly among the youngest adults in this country), but as these stories remind me, evolution is awfully slow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

William Shatner's Sarah Palin Beat Poetry

The three biggest reasons music magazines are dying [SLATE]


Spinning in the Grave
The three biggest reasons music magazines are dying.
By Jonah Weiner
Updated Tuesday, July 28, 2009, at 6:47 AM ET

To the varied signs of the economic collapse we can now add a small but notable subspecies of urbanite: You'll recognize him (or her) by the ear buds burrowing into his head, the freebie SXSW tote bag slung over his shoulder, and the unintelligible mutterings about "melisma" and "twee-core" crossing his lips. If you see such a person out and about—likely wandering a neighborhood rich with coffee shops or, even better, two-for-one happy hours—remain calm but keep your distance. This is a music journalist, a type never famous for social skills, and he's in an especially bad mood these days.

Late last month, Vibe magazine announced that it was ceasing publication. The next day, word arrived that Spin was laying off a half-dozen staffers. In late March, Blender folded outright, and a few months before that, Rolling Stone trimmed its masthead. (Blender hired me out of college in 2002, and I worked there until its demise.) For this strange moment, at least, many onetime professional music nerds share a common experience with many onetime investment bankers: whiplash.

Some of the problems that have beset music magazines are familiar from discussions about the publishing industry's woes in general: Readership's down, advertising's down, the old guard has been slow in adapting to the Internet. But like newspapers and shelter titles, music magazines have proven especially vulnerable.

I'm going to leave aside the question of whether Blender and Vibe somehow deserved their undoing, via editorial missteps or poor business-side decisions, and whether Rolling Stone and Spin deserve their present difficulties. Criticisms attach to every title, and while such factors play a part in the music-mag death march, they're negligible when considered alongside three bigger problems that cut deep and wide across the medium:

1. There are fewer superstars, and the same musicians show up on every magazine cover.

Say Beyoncé—or Kanye, or Kelly Clarkson, or any of the few musical acts that still command massive appeal—announces a new album. Rolling Stone may try to book her for a cover, but even if it gets a guarantee she won't appear on the cover of another music magazine, readers will have plenty of time to tire of her face as it beams from the covers of "urban" magazines, women's magazines, teen magazines, fashion magazines, and tabloids (to say nothing of gossip blogs, Access Hollywood, etc.). No matter how striking your cover is, it will pop from the racks that much less thanks to the inevitable media saturation of its star. My former editor at Blender, Craig Marks, identified this phenomenon as "cover fatigue": In trying to book covers with maximum reach, music magazines dunk month after month into the same shrinking pool of monolithic stars.

Different strategies for dealing with this have emerged, but nothing surefire. Not long ago, a Spin editor told me they'd realized that a cover featuring a multiplatinum rocker sold only slightly better than one featuring a critic's darling like Vampire Weekend. Spin decided they might as well choose more acts they loved as cover stars rather than focusing on bands that sold millions. This niche-targeting logic drives the indie-music Web site Pitchfork, whose core audience is perfectly happy to read a 650-word review of, say, the new Black Moth Super Rainbow album. But it's unclear whether the same thinking can sustain a magazine with a circulation of half a million copies a month—and it bears emphasizing that Pitchfork doesn't need to draw readers in with a single image.

2. Music mags have less to offer music lovers, and music lovers need them less than ever anyway.

Time was, record companies sent advance copies of albums to music journalists. They, in turn, offered a distinct service to fans with timely, expert evaluations of new music. In the early aughts, labels, frightened by online leaks, tightened their grip on advance music, and listening sessions became the norm for most popular acts. Often held without the complete CD, these sessions encourage partially informed, snap judgments. They're less than ideal in other ways, too: A colleague once reviewed a G-Unit album while 50 Cent sat directly across from him, nodding vigorously to the beat. Along the way, labels have tried other experiments. I've seen album advances come as preloaded iPods (the Pussycat Dolls), vinyl (the White Stripes), cassettes (Justin Timberlake), and a Discman glued shut (Tori Amos). As advances of high-profile records slowed to a trickle, Blender and other magazines working with long lead times were forced to run many big reviews several months late or skip them altogether.

Meanwhile, with the proliferation of online music, sanctioned and otherwise, music fans don't need critics to play middleman the way they once did: If a fan wants to decide whether he likes a new album, there are far easier ways than waiting for a critic to weigh in, from streaming tracks on MySpace and YouTube to downloading the whole thing on a torrent site or .rar blog. The value of the music reviewer has always been split between consumer service (should people plunk down cash for this CD?) and art criticism (what's the CD about?), but of late the balance has shifted from the former toward the latter—answering the question of whether to buy an album isn't much use when, for a lot of listeners, the music is effectively free. It's a valid point that the professional critic still wields an aura of authority rare in the cacophonous world of online music, but between taste-making blogs and ever-smarter music-recommendation algorithms like Apple Genius and Pandora, the critic's importance is being whittled down.

Reviews are one thing; what about features and interviews, where music journalists get access to stars that their online counterparts can only dream of? Unfortunately, the days when Cameron Crowe could spend months reporting a story from Led Zeppelin's tour bus are long gone. Tabloids have helped make stars wary, if not scornful, of journalists of all stripes, print doesn't fill artists' coffers (many high-powered publicists have repeated the mantra to me that press doesn't sell albums), and so artists big and medium give music magazines less of themselves than ever. Yes, a music-magazine cover can contribute to credibility and prestige, but the best access is often reserved for a title beyond the music ghetto, like Vanity Fair, GQ, or, should it come calling, The New Yorker. When I profiled Beyoncé for a 2006 Blender cover story, I was granted one hour to interview her and one hour to observe her at a video shoot. I stayed on the set for three hours, hoping to wring some lively detail from the mundane proceedings, until a bodyguard showed me the door. Beyoncé's mother, Tina, gave me a warm goodbye, then called a publicist to chew her out for letting me hang around so long and accused me of "going through Beyoncé's underwear." (I'd quizzed a seamstress about a pair of hot pants she was mending.) The writing that arises from situations like these invariably suffers, and readers notice.

3. Music magazines were an early version of social networking. But now there's this thing called "social networking" …

Many readers who are otherwise passionate about culture have little time for music writing, irritated that it speaks in abstract, jargon-stuffed language about ostensibly mainstream entertainment. Movie and TV reviewers can talk about plotlines and acting; video game reviewers can talk about graphics and game play. Music writers are charged with describing more ineffable things, and the frequent result is a pile-up of slang and shorthand references, purplish gushing, and tedious emphasis on lyrics. Even when the writing crackles, for every reader who is confronted with a culture-moving enigma like the Jonas Brothers and hungers for someone to come along with a magnifying glass and fine-toothed comb, there are those who insist that pop just isn't worth the effort—there's dancing about architecture, you see, and then there's hyperventilating about crap.

This has always been an issue for music magazines, but traditionally they've been able to make it an asset, too. One of the most important historical functions of music magazines has been precisely to speak in a semisecret language that separates in-the-know us from square them. Rolling Stone, Spin, and Vibe made their names on the backs of outsider music movements that were storming the mainstream: '60s rock counterculture, '90s alternative, and '90s hip-hop, respectively. (Blender aligned itself with a less oppositional, "poptimist" perspective.) Picture that mythical orange-haired girl walking around a nowheresville suburb in 1994 with a rolled-up Spin in her back pocket—it's not just a magazine but a badge, an amulet, a pipeline to a world far removed from her local food court. At least since the '60s, music has been more integral to youthful identity building than any other part of popular culture, and, at their most successful, music magazines have institutionalized, codified, and made themselves indispensable to that process. Teens trying to hash out (sub)cultural identities today have message boards, fan sites, and YouTube diaries to turn to, not to mention Facebook groups and musicians' MySpace pages. And that's perhaps the greatest crisis facing music magazines: They're being phased out, to a significant degree, by social-networking media, too.

So should we mourn dead music magazines or simply shrug as we pass the funeral? If they were to disappear entirely, people would still find out about new music, after all, and criticism would doubtless live on, online and in general-interest publications. It's the more costly reporting that would be harder to find, and this shouldn't be taken lightly. Although people are buying music at record lows, it's likely that we're listening to more of it than ever before. For every artist profile reduced to a charade (my hour with Beyoncé), there's a piece like David Peisner's fascinating 2006 Spin article on the role of music as torture in the war on terror or 2008 Britney Spears stories by Michael Joseph Gross in Blender and Vanessa Grigoriadis in Rolling Stone, which offered engrossing, intelligent reporting into Spears' nadir without a smidge of "access" to the star herself. In the absence of the great feature writing that music magazines do underwrite (and unless Web writing, video interviews, artists' blogs, and other new forms fill the void), we'll be hearing only part of the song.
Jonah Weiner is a pop critic for Slate.

Monday, July 27, 2009

LA's "Dr. Tattoff" Talks Tattoo Removal


Life in L.A.: Dr. Will Kirby, tattoo removal specialist
6:00 AM, July 27, 2009

he business of removing tattoos is about regrets, reversals and clean slates. It's medical science that makes this business possible.

The lasers used in tattoo removal (quality-switched, or Q-switched, lasers) work by a search-and-destroy method. Instead of cutting out a tattoo or burning it off, the laser technology recognizes the hyper-pigmented skin and breaks up the ink into particles.

Ultimately, “tramp stamps,” ex-girlfriends’ names and the purple butterfly that once meant so much are no more. Over the course of several treatments, the markings of your past can completely disappear.

During a procedure, patients wear eye-protective goggles, put on numbing cream and squeeze a stress ball, and within minutes their laser treatment is completed.

We recently interviewed Dr. Will Kirby of the Beverly Hills-based Dr. Tattoff, a tattoo removal company that has seen it all -- and then erased it.

What’s involved in removing a tattoo?

There are a lot of different ways to remove tattoos, but the gold standard is a quality-switched laser. In the last seven to 10 years is when that technique became readily available.

The other types of removal have become obsolete because the Q laser leaves virtually no scarring.

Are there any dangers to having a tattoo removed?

Every medical device, every medicine has good side effects and bad side effects. The procedure is very painful. It is uncomfortable, but tolerable. That’s a bad side effect, but it does occur. You also get a little swelling and pinpoint bleeding.

The laser works by selective photothermolysis. The laser goes in and fragments the ink, but does virtually nothing to your surrounding skin.

Are there any dangers in getting a tattoo?

What’s funny is that we have a great relationship with tattoo artists. They have a motto: fresh for fresh skin. So oftentimes we see people who are coming in to have tattoos removed in order to make space for new ones. Maybe it’s an ex-lover or something they are no longer involved in, like a band or a gang. So they’ll get those tattoos removed and have fresh ink put on.

There are some risks in getting a tattoo. Most shops are pretty clean, but there have been cases of people getting hepatitis B and C, HIV and even tuberculosis.

Can you remove a tattoo permanently without scarring?

It takes multiple treatments to remove a tattoo. Typically the treatments are spaced out by several weeks. The number of treatments depends on several factors: color, size, location of the tattoo.

The easiest color to remove is black ink. As you get more colors, the harder it becomes to remove. Yellow is very hard to remove.

If you can feel the tattoo, then you’ll always feel it. If it is kind of raised before you come to see me, it is going to be harder to remove.

Why is yellow hard to remove?

The laser light has a specific wavelength of light that black preferentially absorbs. Yellow doesn’t absorb any amount of laser wavelength at all. Green can be challenging as well.

What’s the most regretted type of tattoo?

If you can think of it, I’ve seen it. We’ve seen penis tattoos.

If you get your lover’s name on your body, that’s the kiss of death for the relationship.

We’ve seen a lot of barbed-wire arm bands and tribal arm bands. The Tasmanian Devil and Tweety Bird.
And what was affectionately known as the “tramp stamp.” Girls are definitely regretting that one.

Who are your patients?

Approximately 85% of my patients are women with annual incomes of over $50,000, between the ages of 18 and 44. A lot of young women are stigmatized by their past.

Would you advise people to simply not get tattoos in the first place?

I’m not one to judge. I encourage it, as long as you do it safely. A properly done tattoo has no health ramifications.

When did your business open? Have you seen a year-over-year increase in patients?

The Beverly Hills clinic opened in 2005. Irvine opened in 2006, and the Encino clinic in 2007.

Yeah, absolutely, we definitely saw a dip at the end of last year as the macro-economy had dipped.
But that seems to have corrected, as 2009 is the best it’s ever been.

When you are searching for a job or going into the military, you don’t want tattoos in visible places.

Have you seen patients in your office that are kids [under 18] who got tattoos illegally?

We treat people who are under 18 one or two times per week. They are usually accompanied by an angry parent.

What’s the cost of having a tattoo removed?

Generally, it costs five to 10 times the amount to remove the tattoo as it did to get the tattoo. Price varies based on color and location. Depending on where the tattoo is -- the very vascular parts of the body respond much faster. Parts of the body that have poor drainage take longer to heal.

How did you get into this business?

As a first-year resident after medical school, I had to write a paper on tattoo removal. I realized there was a huge void there.

-- Lori Kozlowski

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Japan's Rebellious Cultural "Herbavores" [slate]

[click on original for hyperlinks]

The Herbivore's Dilemma
Japan panics about the rise of "grass-eating men," who shun sex, don't spend money, and like taking walks.
By Alexandra Harney
Posted Monday, June 15, 2009, at 2:04 PM ET

Ryoma Igarashi likes going for long drives through the mountains, taking photographs of Buddhist temples and exploring old neighborhoods. He's just taken up gardening, growing radishes in a planter in his apartment. Until recently, Igarashi, a 27-year-old Japanese television presenter, would have been considered effeminate, even gay. Japanese men have long been expected to live like characters on Mad Men, chasing secretaries, drinking with the boys, and splurging on watches, golf, and new cars.

Today, Igarashi has a new identity (and plenty of company among young Japanese men) as one of the soushoku danshi—literally translated, "grass-eating boys." Named for their lack of interest in sex and their preference for quieter, less competitive lives, Japan's "herbivores" are provoking a national debate about how the country's economic stagnation since the early 1990s has altered men's behavior.

Newspapers, magazines, and television shows are newly fixated on the herbivores. "Have men gotten weaker?" was one theme of a recent TV talk show. "Herbivores Aren't So Bad" is the title of a regular column on the Japanese Web site NB Online.

In this age of bromance and metrosexuals, why all the fuss? The short answer is that grass-eating men are alarming because they are the nexus between two of the biggest challenges facing Japanese society: the declining birth rate and anemic consumption. Herbivores represent an unspoken rebellion against many of the masculine, materialist values associated with Japan's 1980s bubble economy. Media Shakers, a consulting company that is a subsidiary of Dentsu, the country's largest advertising agency, estimates that 60 percent of men in their early 20s and at least 42 percent of men aged 23 to 34 consider themselves grass-eating men. Partner Agent, a Japanese dating agency, found in a survey that 61 percent of unmarried men in their 30s identified themselves as herbivores. Of the 1,000 single men in their 20s and 30s polled by Lifenet, a Japanese life-insurance company, 75 percent described themselves as grass-eating men.

Japanese companies are worried that herbivorous boys aren't the status-conscious consumers their parents once were. They love to putter around the house. According to Media Shakers' research, they are more likely to want to spend time by themselves or with close friends, more likely to shop for things to decorate their homes, and more likely to buy little luxuries than big-ticket items. They prefer vacationing in Japan to venturing abroad. They're often close to their mothers and have female friends, but they're in no rush to get married themselves, according to Maki Fukasawa, the Japanese editor and columnist who coined the term in NB Online in 2006.

Grass-eating boys' commitment phobia is not the only thing that's worrying Japanese women. Unlike earlier generations of Japanese men, they prefer not to make the first move, they like to split the bill, and they're not particularly motivated by sex. "I spent the night at one guy's house, and nothing happened—we just went to sleep!" moaned one incredulous woman on a TV program devoted to herbivores. "It's like something's missing with them," said Yoko Yatsu, a 34-year-old housewife, in an interview. "If they were more normal, they'd be more interested in women. They'd at least want to talk to women."

Shigeru Sakai of Media Shakers suggests that grass-eating men don't pursue women because they are bad at expressing themselves. He attributes their poor communication skills to the fact that many grew up without siblings in households where both parents worked. "Because they had TVs, stereos and game consoles in their bedrooms, it became more common for them to shut themselves in their rooms when they got home and communicate less with their families, which left them with poor communication skills," he wrote in an e-mail. (Japan has rarely needed its men to have sex as much as it does now. Low birth rates, combined with a lack of immigration, have caused the country's population to shrink every year since 2005.)

It may be that Japan's efforts to make the workplace more egalitarian planted the seeds for the grass-eating boys, says Fukasawa. In the wake of Japan's 1985 Equal Employment Opportunity Law, women assumed greater responsibility at work, and the balance of power between the sexes began to shift. Though there are still significant barriers to career advancement for women, a new breed of female executive who could party almost as hard as her male colleagues emerged. Office lechery, which had been socially acceptable, became stigmatized as seku hara, or sexual harassment.

But it was the bursting of Japan's bubble in the early 1990s, coupled with this shift in the social landscape, that made the old model of Japanese manhood unsustainable. Before the bubble collapsed, Japanese companies offered jobs for life. Salarymen who knew exactly where their next paycheck was coming from were more confident buying a Tiffany necklace or an expensive French dinner for their girlfriend. Now, nearly 40 percent of Japanese work in nonstaff positions with much less job security.

"When the economy was good, Japanese men had only one lifestyle choice: They joined a company after they graduated from college, got married, bought a car, and regularly replaced it with a new one," says Fukasawa. "Men today simply can't live that stereotypical 'happy' life."

Yoto Hosho, a 22-year-old college dropout who considers himself and most of his friends herbivores, believes the term describes a diverse group of men who have no desire to live up to traditional social expectations in their relationships with women, their jobs, or anything else. "We don't care at all what people think about how we live," he says.

Many of Hosho's friends spend so much time playing computer games that they prefer the company of cyber women to the real thing. And the Internet, he says, has helped make alternative lifestyles more acceptable. Hosho believes that the lines between men and women in his generation have blurred. He points to the popularity of "boys love," a genre of manga and novels written for women about romantic relationships between men that has spawned its own line of videos, computer games, magazines, and cafes where women dress as men.

Fukasawa contends that while some grass-eating men may be gay, many are not. Nor are they metrosexuals. Rather, their behavior reflects a rejection of both the traditional Japanese definition of masculinity and what she calls the West's "commercialization" of relationships, under which men needed to be macho and purchase products to win a woman's affection. Some Western concepts, like going to dinner parties as a couple, never fit easily into Japanese culture, she says. Others never even made it into the language—the term "ladies first," for instance, is usually said in English in Japan. During Japan's bubble economy, "Japanese people had to live according to both Western standards and Japanese standards," says Fukasawa. "That trend has run its course."

Japanese women are not taking the herbivores' indifference lightly. In response to the herbivorous boys' tepidity, "carnivorous girls" are taking matters into their own hands, pursuing men more aggressively. Also known as "hunters," these women could be seen as Japan's version of America's cougars.

While many Japanese women might disagree, Fukasawa sees grass-eating boys as a positive development for Japanese society. She notes that before World War II, herbivores were more common: Novelists such as Osamu Dazai and Soseki Natsume would have been considered grass-eating boys. But in the postwar economic boom, men became increasingly macho, increasingly hungry for products to mark their personal economic progress. Young Japanese men today are choosing to have less to prove.

Alexandra Harney is the author of The China Price and a regular commentator on Japanese television.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Japan Anime Fetishes: Love In 2D


July 26, 2009
Love in 2-D

Nisan didn’t mean to fall in love with Nemutan. Their first encounter — at a comic-book convention that Nisan’s gaming friends dragged him to in Tokyo — was serendipitous. Nisan was wandering aimlessly around the crowded exhibition hall when he suddenly found himself staring into Nemutan’s bright blue eyes. In the beginning, they were just friends. Then, when Nisan got his driver’s license a few months later, he invited Nemutan for a ride around town in his beat-up Toyota. They went to a beach, not far from the home he shares with his parents in a suburb of Tokyo. It was the first of many road trips they would take together. As they got to know each other, they traveled hundreds of miles west — to Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, sleeping in his car or crashing on friends’ couches to save money. They took touristy pictures under cherry trees, frolicked like children on merry-go-rounds and slurped noodles on street corners. Now, after three years together, they are virtually inseparable. “I’ve experienced so many amazing things because of her,” Nisan told me, rubbing Nemutan’s leg warmly. “She has really changed my life.”

Nemutan doesn’t really have a leg. She’s a stuffed pillowcase — a 2-D depiction of a character, Nemu, from an X-rated version of a PC video game called Da Capo, printed on synthetic fabric. In the game, which is less a game than an interactive visual novel about a schoolyard romance, Nemu is the loudmouthed little sister of the main character, whom she calls nisan, or “big brother,” a nickname Nisan adopted as his own when he met Nemu. When I joined the couple for lunch at their favorite all-you-can-eat salad bar in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji, he insisted on being called only by this new nickname, addressing his body-pillow girlfriend using the suffix “tan” to show how much he adored her. Nemutan is 10, maybe 12 years old and wears a little blue bikini and gold ribbons in her hair. Nisan knows she’s not real, but that hasn’t stopped him from loving her just the same. “Of course she’s my girlfriend,” he said, widening his eyes as if shocked by the question. “I have real feelings for her.”

At 37, Nisan is already balding, and his remaining hair has gone gray. “I can’t eat meat because of my diabetes,” he said, chomping on a forkful of lettuce and okra. “I’m just an unlucky guy.” As Nisan and I talked, Nemutan stared demurely at her pumpkin soup. It was a national holiday, and the restaurant was packed with young families. Several mothers gave Nemutan inquisitive looks, but the majority seemed not to notice her.

Nisan told me that not long ago he had a real girlfriend, but that she dumped him. He carries Nemutan almost everywhere he goes, though he is more self-conscious about it than he may seem at first. “Some people don’t find this funny,” he said, “and it also takes up a lot of room.” He treats her the way any decent man would treat a girlfriend — he takes her out on the weekends to sing karaoke or take purikura, photo-booth pictures imprinted on a sheet of tiny stickers. In the few hours we spent together, I watched him position her gently in the restaurant booth and later in the back seat of his car, making sure to keep her upright and not to touch her private parts. He doesn’t take her to work, but he has a backup body pillow with the same Nemutan cover inside his desk drawer in case he has to work late at his tech-support job. “She’s great for falling asleep with on an office chair.” Nisan has seven Nemutan covers in total — he buys them at Internet auctions and at fan conventions whenever he finds a good deal (he paid $70 for the original). If one gets too faded and dirty from overuse, he layers a new one over it. On the day that I first met Nisan and Nemutan, Nisan was carrying a new Nemutan cover in his bag in case she needed to look fresh for a photograph. He knows it’s weird for a grown man to be so obsessed with a video-game character, but he just can’t imagine life without Nemutan. “When I die, I want to be buried with her in my arms.”

Nisan is part of a thriving subculture of men and women in Japan who indulge in real relationships with imaginary characters. These 2-D lovers, as they are called, are a subset of otaku culture— the obsessive fandom that has surrounded anime, manga and video games in Japan in the last decade. It’s impossible to say exactly what portion of otaku are 2-D lovers, because the distinction between the two can be blurry. Like most otaku, the majority of 2-D lovers go to work, pay rent, hang out with friends (some are even married). Unlike most otaku, though, they have real romantic feelings for their toys. The less extreme might have a hidden collection of figurines based on anime characters that they go on “dates” with during off hours. A more serious 2-D lover, like Nisan, actually believes that a lumpy pillow with a drawing of a prepubescent anime character on it is his girlfriend.

According to many who study the phenomenon, the rise of 2-D love can be attributed in part to the difficulty many young Japanese have in navigating modern romantic life. According to a government survey, more than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins; 50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex. One of the biggest best sellers in the country last year was “Health and Physical Education for Over Thirty,” a six-chapter, manga-illustrated guidebook that holds the reader’s hand from the first meeting to sex to marriage.

Most 2-D lovers prefer a different kind of self-help. The guru of the 2-D love movement, Toru Honda, a 40-year-old man with a boyishly round face and puppy-dog eyes, has written half a dozen books advocating the 2-D lifestyle. A few years ago, Honda, a college dropout who worked a succession of jobs at video-game companies, began to use the Internet to urge otaku to stand with pride against good-looking men and women. His site generated enough buzz to earn him a publishing contract, and in 2005 he released a book condemning what he calls “romantic capitalism.” Honda argues that romance was marketed so excessively through B-movies, soap operas and novels during Japan’s economic bubble of the ’80s that it has become a commodity and its true value has been lost; romance is so tainted with social constructs that it can be bought by only good looks and money. According to Honda, somewhere along the way, decent men like himself lost interest in the notion entirely and turned to 2-D. “Pure love is completely gone in the real world,” Honda wrote. “As long as you train your imagination, a 2-D relationship is much more passionate than a 3-D one.” Honda insists that he’s advocating not prurience but a whole new kind of romance. If, as some researchers suggest, romantic love can be broken down into electrical impulses in the brain, then why not train the mind to simulate those signals while looking at an inanimate character?

Honda’s fans took his message to heart. When he admitted to watching human porn at a panel discussion in Tokyo in 2005, several hundred hard-core 2-D lovers in the audience booed with shock that their dear leader had nostalgia for the 3-D world. Later, in an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Honda clarified his position, saying that he was worried 2-D love was becoming an easy way out for young otaku, who might still have a shot at success in the real world. “I’m not saying that everyone should throw away hopes of real romance right away. I am simply saying that guys like me who have gotten to a point of no return can be happy living in 2-D.”

In Japan the fetishistic love for two-dimensional characters is enough of a phenomenon to have earned its own slang word, moe, homonymous with the Japanese words for “burning” or “budding.” In an ideal moe relationship, a man frees himself from the expectations of an ordinary human relationship and expresses his passion for a chosen character, without fear of being judged or rejected.

“It’s enlightenment training,” Takuro Morinaga, one of Japan’s leading behavioral economists, told me. “It’s like becoming a Buddha.” According to Morinaga, every male otaku can be classified on a moe scale. “On one end, you have the normal guy, who has no interest in anime characters and only likes human women,” he explained. “The opposite end, of course, is the hard-core 2-D lover.” Morinaga, a self-described otaku, didn’t have much luck with women until he became a well-regarded economist. Now he has a wife and a private office in a fancy apartment building near ritzy Tokyo Bay. “I’m a 2 — I still like human women better,” he said, a wide grin forming. “But there are many men who are on the opposite side of the scale. I understand their feelings completely. These guys don’t want to push ahead in society; they just want to create their own little flower-bed world and live there peacefully.”

For Nisan, who would probably score an 8 or a 9 on Morinaga’s moe scale, 2-D love is a substitute for real, monogamous romance. For others, just as fanatic as he, it can be a way of having more than one girlfriend at a time. Whatever a particular 2-D lover’s bent, there is a product made for him. Moe subculture has spawned a substantial market of goods centered on the desire to live in 2-D, from virtual girlfriends to body pillows to busty desktop-size figurines to cafes with waitresses dressed up as video-game characters. Every day, 2-D lovers come from all over Japan to Tokyo’s Akihabara district just to scour specialty shops and attend fan events in search of new character girlfriends to add to their collections.

I first met Ken Okayama one brisk and unusually windy Sunday morning in February, in front of a towering business hotel adjacent to Akihabara station. A tall and rather good-looking 38-year-old man, Okayama lives with relatives and works at a rural paint-application company in western Japan. He flies to Tokyo two to three times a year for the newest anime-related paraphernalia. “We don’t get a lot of anime in the boonies,” he said as he led me through a maze of nearly identical, unnamed side streets to the Gee! Store, sandwiched between a nondescript apartment building and a row of coin-operated lockers in a narrow alley. The walls were covered with kitschy posters, pillows and paraphernalia featuring wide-eyed, multicolor-haired anime girls in frilly panties and bikini tops. “There are two things you should be mindful of when buying a body pillow,” Okayama whispered as we combed the aisles, trying not to disturb the handful of other men perusing the merchandise. “First, there’s image quality. And then you have to choose one that feels good on the skin.” Polyester, for example, is less desirable than smooth knit.

Okayama was an early adopter of 2-D. He discovered anime about two decades ago when he was new to the work force and feeling suicidal. “I was having a lot of trouble,” he told me over coffee, making a slicing gesture with his hand by his neck. That’s when he encountered Sasami, a blue-haired, 10-year-old cartoon character from the anime “Tenchi Muyo!”

She lifted him right out of his misery. “It’s hard to explain in words, but it’s a feeling similar to romance. Sasami gave me the will to keep going.” Since then, Okayama has turned to 2-D for all his emotional needs — the desire to buy new anime helped him get through a period of unemployment in 2003, and his body-pillow girlfriends, whom he dates two or three at a time, consoled him when his first real-life girlfriend dumped him in 2007.

“I was steps away from getting married,” he explained earnestly when prodded about his experience. “You have to make sure you don’t hurt a real person; you have to watch what you say, and you have to keep your room clean. In Japan, it’s not O.K. to like another person if you’re already with somebody else. With an anime character, you can like one character one day and a different character the next.”

Okayama’s flings were unconsummated, but for others 2-D love is a full-fledged alternative sexual lifestyle. Several hours after parting with Okayama in Akihabara, I met Momo at a fan convention. Momo, who makes X-rated body-pillow covers and sells them through his one-man club, Youkouro, which translates roughly as Furnace of Child Love, was there on business. The convention was being held inside a stuffy warehouse filled with boxes of 8-by-10, pamphlet-style, home-brewed manga and swarmed with thousands of anime fetishists, mostly men. Many 2-D lovers are unsatisfied with what the market has to offer, so they custom-make their own fantasy goods and come to conventions to barter and socialize with the like-minded. We left the warehouse and made our way to a fancy shopping mall, where we sat down on a bench. Momo began to flip through a catalog of more than a dozen prints of prepubescent anime characters with giant doe eyes in erotic poses. I flinched when a 5-year-old girl and her father plopped down behind us, but if Momo felt uneasy, he didn’t show it. On the contrary, he seemed giddy from the great sales he’d made. “I sold four pillow covers today,” he said proudly.

Momo, whose real name is Toru Taima, has more than 150 body-pillow covers at home. His current favorite is Karada-chan, a copper-haired sixth grader from the anime “A Direction in the Day After Tomorrow.” She’s fully clothed in the cartoon, but in Momo’s imagination and thus on his pillow cover, she appears naked, her cheeks flushed, her prepubescent nipples hidden by her forearms, her white panties rolled down to her ankles. A translucent square etched onto the pillow cover censors her hairless vagina.

Every night, Karada-chan and at least two other animated preteens, drawn with large pink nipples and exaggerated labia, share a mattress with Momo, one on each side and another on top. “They’re so cute, I can’t stand it,” he said shyly. “It’s like my favorite girl comes to marry me every night. I just can’t stop thinking about them.” When Momo talks about Karada-chan, his mousy face lights up like a kid opening Christmas presents. “Her existence to me is like daughter, younger sister and bride all put into one.” Does he have sex with her? “Yes.” Is he interested in real women? “It’s not like I’m completely uninterested. But the last girl I really liked was when I was 12 years old.”

Momo told me he never looks at child porn. He lives with his sister and his 3-year-old niece, whom he insists he has no sexual feelings for. “I am not doing anything to harm anybody,” he said adamantly. “To me, these are works of art. They’re cute girls that live in my imagination.”

Momo says he hopes that one day soon, there will be a 3-D version of Karada-chan. In March, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology unveiled a 5-foot-2, 95-pound girl robot made “for entertainment purposes,” with an anime face and human proportions. The robot girl walked, batted her eyelashes and spoke basic Japanese. Momo is hopeful and confident that, in the very near future, this technology will be marketed. “I don’t care if people understand or not,” Momo said. “I just want them to leave me alone. I don’t have any nostalgia for reality. I’m happy living in the 2-D world.”

But not all 2-D lovers, as Toru Honda recognized, are ready to cast reality aside entirely. I couldn’t help remembering what Nisan told me, Nemutan held tightly in his left arm, as we walked out of the restaurant to the parking lot. “Of course I want to get married,” he said as we drove back to West Hachioji station listening to his favorite Eurobeat CD. “But look at me. How can someone who carries this around get married? People are probably wondering what psychiatric ward I escaped from. I would think the same thing if I saw me.” He widened his eyes in self-ridicule, then, the next moment, his expression became somber. “I’m pretty conflicted inside. People say there are some otaku who don’t want to get married, but that’s not true. Some have so little confidence that they’ve just given up, but deep inside their souls, they want it just as much as anybody else.”

If he ever does find true three-dimensional love, Nisan said, he hopes that his wife will accept Nemutan for who she is: “She is my life’s work. I would be devastated if that was taken away from me.”

Lisa Katayama is the author of “Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks From Japan” and blogs about Japanese pop culture at

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wedding Entrance to "Forever"

Y'all probably already seen this viral wedding entrance to Chris Brown's "Forever," but it's a delight:

Creepy: Japanese Wedding Dress Robot Runway Model

The Japanese, who are light years ahead of everyone else in terms of robot technology, have created robots to perform a variety of tasks. This one (Miimu, a HRP-4C robot) looks kind of creepy, though: a robot runway model for wedding dresses. On the one hand it makes sense in that it is a life-like and animated manequin, though cruising down a fashion show runway is way beyond a moving manequin. On the other hand....creepy robot bride Nippon Stepford Wife. From Geekologie, with snarky commentary by iheartchaos by way of the Daily Dish.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Music Business Paradigm: Artists Find Backers as Labels Wane


July 22, 2009
Artists Find Backers as Labels Wane

There was a time when most aspiring musicians had the same dream: to sign a deal with a major record label.

Now, with the structure of the music business shifting radically, some industry iconoclasts are sidestepping the music giants and inventing new ways for artists to make and market their music — without ever signing a traditional recording contract.

The latest effort comes from Brian Message, manager of the alternative band Radiohead, which gave away its last album, “In Rainbows,” on the Internet. His venture, called Polyphonic, which was announced this month, will look to invest a few hundred thousand dollars in new and rising artists who are not signed to record deals and then help them create their own direct links to audiences over the Internet.

“Artists are at the point where they realize going back to the old model doesn’t make any sense,” Mr. Message said. “There is a hunger for a new way of doing things.”

Polyphonic and similar new ventures are symptomatic of deep shifts in the music business. The major labels — Sony Music, Warner Music, EMI and Universal Music — no longer have such a firm grip on creating and selling professional music and minting hits with prime placement on the radio.

Much of that has to do with the rise of the Internet as a means of promoting and distributing music. Physical album sales fell 20 percent, to 362.6 million last year, according to Nielsen, while sales of individual digital tracks rose 27 percent, to 1.07 billion, failing to compensate for the drop. Mindful of these changes, in the last few years marquee musicians like Trent Reznor, the Beastie Boys and Barenaked Ladies have created their own artist-run labels and reaped significant rewards by keeping a larger share of their revenue.

Under the Polyphonic model, bands that receive investments from the firm will operate like start-up companies, recording their own music and choosing outside contractors to handle their publicity, merchandise and touring.

Instead of receiving an advance and then possibly reaping royalties later if they have a hit, musicians will share in all the profits from their music and touring. In another departure from tradition in the music business, they will also maintain ownership of their own copyrights and master recordings — meaning they and their heirs can keep earning money from their music.

“We are all witnessing major labels starting to shed artists that are hitting only 80,000 or 100,000 unit sales,” said Adam Driscoll, another Polyphonic founder and chief executive of the British media company MAMA Group. “Do a quick calculation on those sales, with an artist who can tour in multiple cities, and that is a good business. You can take that as a foundation and build on it.”

The third Polyphonic principal is Terry McBride, founder of the Vancouver-based management firm Nettwerk Music Group and manager of Barenaked Ladies.

The Polyphonic founders, who have provided the company with $20 million in seed financing, say they plan to invest around $300,000 in each band. The company will then guide musicians and their business managers — who will function a little like the band’s chief executive — to services like Topspin, which helps manage a band’s online presence, and TuneCore, a company that distributes music to online services like iTunes, Amazon and Napster.

The partners say they have been thinking about such a venture for several years. They recently tried to raise money for the company from venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, but met with initial skepticism.

“Returns on entertainment products when portfolios are small are typically very erratic,” said David Pakman, a partner at venture capital firm Venrock, which passed on the deal. Mr. Pakman doubted that Polyphonic and similar firms could produce the kind of returns on investment that venture firms typically look for.

Polyphonic, which will be based in London and in Nettwerk’s offices in New York and Los Angeles, says it plans to approach private investors again after it has proved its model works.

The new company will have plenty of company in exploring new ways for artists to maintain control over their creations.

Marc Geiger, an agent at William Morris Endeavor, who tried a similar venture in the late 1990s called ArtistDirect, is now developing a program for musicians at his agency that will be called Self Serve. Mr. Geiger said he was not ready to divulge the details yet, but said that Self Serve would provide tools and financing for artists to create businesses independent of major recording labels.

Even the major labels themselves are demonstrating new flexibility for musicians who do not want to sign the immersive partnerships known as 360 deals, in which the label manages and profits from every part of the artist’s business.

In late November, for example, EMI took the unusual step of creating a music services division to provide an array of services — like touring and merchandise support — to musicians who were not signed to the label.

“We all know the role that the record label has traditionally played needs to change,” said Ronn Werre, president of EMI’s new division. “There are artists that want to have more creative control and long-term ownership of their masters, and they may want to take on more of the financial risk. To be successful we need to have a great deal of flexibility in how we work with artists.”

Artists who have produced their own music and contracted with EMI to run parts of their business include the R&B singer Bobby Valentino and Raekwon, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Mr. Message said that “there are many artists who still want to go with labels, which do still have abilities to really ram home hit singles.”

Bands who take the Polyphonic route, he said, will need to have considerable entrepreneurial energy. For example, they might stay after concerts to “go to the merchandise store and sign their shirts and talk to fans, because they know they are right at the heart of their own business,” he said.

Bands that have taken this approach say it can be arduous. In 2007, after releasing three records with independent labels, Metric, an alternative band from Toronto, finally got several offers from the big record companies. But the band declined to sign after concluding that the labels were asking for too many rights and not offering enough in return.

With help from a grant from the Canadian government, the band cut its own album in April, “Fantasies,” and started selling it directly to fans on services like iTunes, where it has scaled the popularity charts.

“It certainly has not been easy,” said Matt Drouin, Metric’s manager. “When I get up at 6 a.m. the British are e-mailing me. When I go to bed at 2 in the morning the Australians are e-mailing me. It’s an extremely empowering position, but one hell of an undertaking.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rickrolled by way of Nirvana? [an epic mashup]

A subversive Rickroll mashup by Dj Morgoth (if you don't know what Rickrolling is, check this out) and a nice video equivalent. There is one really dissonant note, but it's a pretty damn good mash-up:

[video replaced]

Henry Louis Gates arrest a signpost on racial road


Analysis: Gates arrest a signpost on racial road
By JESSE WASHINGTON, AP National Writer Jesse Washington, Ap National Writer 25 mins ago

It took less than a day for the arrest of Henry Louis Gates to become racial lore. When one of America's most prominent black intellectuals winds up in handcuffs, it's not just another episode of profiling — it's a signpost on the nation's bumpy road to equality.

The news was parsed and Tweeted, rued and debated. This was, after all Henry "Skip" Gates: Summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale. MacArthur "genius grant" recipient. Acclaimed historian, Harvard professor and PBS documentarian. One of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" in 1997. Holder of 50 honorary degrees.

If this man can be taken away by police officers from the porch of his own home, what does it say about the treatment that average blacks can expect in 2009?

Earl Graves Jr., CEO of the company that publishes Black Enterprise magazine, was once stopped by police during his train commute to work, dressed in a suit and tie.

"My case took place back in 1995, and here we are 14 years later dealing with the same madness," he said Tuesday. "Barack Obama being the president has meant absolutely nothing to white law enforcement officers. Zero. So I have zero confidence that (Gates' case) will lead to any change whatsoever."

The 58-year-old professor had returned from a trip to China last Thursday afternoon and found the front door of his Cambridge, Mass., home stuck shut. Gates entered the back door, forced open the front door with help from a car service driver, and was on the phone with the Harvard leasing company when a white police sergeant arrived.

Gates and the sergeant gave differing accounts of what happened next. But for many people, that doesn't matter.

They don't care that Gates was charged not with breaking and entering, but with disorderly conduct after repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number. It doesn't matter whether Gates was yelling, or accused Sgt. James Crowley of being racist, or that all charges were dropped Tuesday.

All they see is pure, naked racial profiling.

"Under any account ... all of it is totally uncalled for," said Graves.

"It never would have happened — imagine a white professor, a distinguished white professor at Harvard, walking around with a cane, going into his own house, being harassed or stopped by the police. It would never happen."

Racial profiling became a national issue in the 1990s, when highway police on major drug delivery routes were accused of stopping drivers simply for being black. Lawsuits were filed, studies were commissioned, data was analyzed. "It is wrong, and we will end it in America," President George W. Bush said in 2001.

Yet for every study that concluded police disproportionately stop, search and arrest minorities, another expert came to a different conclusion. "That's always going to be the case," Greg Ridgeway, who has a Ph.D in statistics and studies racial profiling for the RAND research group, said on Monday. "You're never going to be able to (statistically) prove racial profiling. ... There's always a plausible explanation."

Federal legislation to ban racial profiling has languished since being introduced in 2007 by a dozen Democratic senators, including then-Sen. Barack Obama.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., said that was partly because "when you look at statistics, and you're trying to prove the extent, the information comes back that there's not nearly as much (profiling) as we continue to experience."

But Davis has no doubt that profiling is real: He says he was stopped while driving in Chicago in 2007 for no reason other than the fact he is black. Police gave him a ticket for swerving over the center line; a judge said the ticket didn't make sense and dismissed it.

"Trying to reach this balance of equity, equal treatment, equal protection under the law, equal understanding, equal opportunity, is something that we will always be confronted with. We may as well be prepared for it," he said.

Amid the indignation over Gates' case, a few people pointed out that he may have violated the cardinal rule of avoiding arrest: Do not antagonize the cops.

The police report said that Gates yelled at the officer, refused to calm down and behaved in a "tumultuous" manner. Gates said he simply asked for the officer's identification, followed him into his porch when the information was not forthcoming, and was arrested for no reason. But something about being asked to prove that you live in your own home clearly struck a nerve — both for Gates and his defenders.

"You feel violated, embarrassed, not sure what is taking place, especially when you haven't done anything," said Graves of his own experience, when police made him face the wall and frisked him in Grand Central Station in New York City. "You feel shocked, then you realize what's happening, and then you feel it's a violation of everything you stand for."

And that this should happen to "Skip" Gates — the unblemished embodiment of President Obama's recent admonition to black America not to search for handouts or favors, but to "seize our own future, each and every day" — shook many people to the core.

Wrote Lawrence Bobo, Gates' Harvard colleague, who picked his friend up from jail: "Ain't nothing post-racial about the United States of America."


Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested-Mistaken For Burglar By Neighbor While Entering His Own House


Are you kidding me?

Huffpost - Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested, Police Accused Of Racial Profiling

MELISSA TRUJILLO | 07/20/09 09:26 PM

BOSTON — Police responding to a call about "two black males" breaking into a home near Harvard University ended up arresting the man who lives there – Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation's pre-eminent black scholar.

Gates had forced his way through the front door because it was jammed, his lawyer said. Colleagues call the arrest last Thursday afternoon a clear case of racial profiling.

Cambridge police say they responded to the well-maintained two-story home after a woman reported seeing "two black males with backpacks on the porch," with one "wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry."

By the time police arrived, Gates was already inside. Police say he refused to come outside to speak with an officer, who told him he was investigating a report of a break-in.

"Why, because I'm a black man in America?" Gates said, according to a police report written by Sgt. James Crowley. The Cambridge police refused to comment on the arrest Monday.

Gates – the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research – initially refused to show the officer his identification, but then gave him a Harvard University ID card, according to police.

"Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him," the officer wrote.

Gates said he turned over his driver's license and Harvard ID – both with his photos – and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused. He said he then followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was handcuffed in front of other officers, Gates said in a statement released by his attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, on a Web site Gates oversees,

He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior." He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26.

Gates, 58, also refused to speak publicly Monday, referring calls to Ogletree.

"He was shocked to find himself being questioned and shocked that the conversation continued after he showed his identification," Ogletree said.

Ogletree declined to say whether he believed the incident was racially motivated, saying "I think the incident speaks for itself."

Some of Gates' African-American colleagues say the arrest is part of a pattern of racial profiling in Cambridge.

Allen Counter, who has taught neuroscience at Harvard for 25 years, said he was stopped on campus by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.

"We do not believe that this arrest would have happened if professor Gates was white," Counter said. "It really has been very unsettling for African-Americans throughout Harvard and throughout Cambridge that this happened."

The Rev. Al Sharpton is vowing to attend Gates' arraignment.

"This arrest is indicative of at best police abuse of power or at worst the highest example of racial profiling I have seen," Sharpton said. "I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs."

Ogletree said Gates had returned from a trip to China on Thursday with a driver, when he found his front door jammed. He went through the back door into the home – which he leases from Harvard – shut off an alarm and worked with the driver to get the door open. The driver left, and Gates was on the phone with the property's management company when police first arrived.

Ogletree also disputed the claim that Gates, who was wearing slacks and a polo shirt and carrying a cane, was yelling at the officer.

"He has an infection that has impacted his breathing since he came back from China, so he's been in a very delicate physical state," Ogletree said.

Lawrence D. Bobo, the W.E.B Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard, said he met with Gates at the police station and described his colleague as feeling humiliated and "emotionally devastated."

"It's just deeply disappointing but also a pointed reminder that there are serious problems that we have to wrestle with," he said.

Bobo said he hoped Cambridge police would drop the charges and called on the department to use the incident to review training and screening procedures it has in place.

The Middlesex district attorney's office said it could not do so until after Gates' arraignment. The woman who reported the apparent break-in did not return a message Monday.

Gates joined the Harvard faculty in 1991 and holds one of 20 prestigious "university professors" positions at the school. He also was host of "African American Lives," a PBS show about the family histories of prominent U.S. blacks, and was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1997.

"I was obviously very concerned when I learned on Thursday about the incident," Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust said in a statement. "He and I spoke directly and I have asked him to keep me apprised."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jay-Z: Death of Auto-Tune

Groove doesn't grab me, but calling out rappers for singing (and using auto-tune software to fix it in the mix) sure caught my attention, as did the video's blowing up of rap symbols of excess:

Haitian Music Roundtable in The New Yorker

Sasha Frere-Jones has a couple of roundtables with scholars discussing Haitian music. Check out Haitian Music Part 1 and Part 2 from the New Yorker.

Friday, July 10, 2009

United (Airlines) Breaks Guitars

By now you are familiar with the story:

"In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didnt deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say no to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world."

United has been punked big time by this musician, and they deserve every bit of it. So here's to helping spread the word:

Modern Iranian Music Culture

Andrew Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish has been doing a great job during the Iranian uprising in not only documenting political developments but also revealing elements of Iranian culture that may be surprising to people steeped on "Axis of Evil" rhetoric or the ridiculous conservative leadership in Iran (women's softball league, muscle car enthusiasts, etc.). Check out his blog.

Here is a sampling of music videos that he has posted.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell reviews Chris Anderson's book "Free: The Future of a Radical Price"

New Yorker

It sounds like a provocative book, and Gladwell's review has generated quite a bit of discussion:

Priced to Sell
Is free the future?
by Malcolm Gladwell July 6, 2009

“In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay,” Chris Anderson writes, “but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.”

At a hearing on Capitol Hill in May, James Moroney, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News, told Congress about negotiations he’d just had with the online retailer Amazon. The idea was to license his newspaper’s content to the Kindle, Amazon’s new electronic reader. “They want seventy per cent of the subscription revenue,” Moroney testified. “I get thirty per cent, they get seventy per cent. On top of that, they have said we get the right to republish your intellectual property to any portable device.” The idea was that if a Kindle subscription to the Dallas Morning News cost ten dollars a month, seven dollars of that belonged to Amazon, the provider of the gadget on which the news was read, and just three dollars belonged to the newspaper, the provider of an expensive and ever-changing variety of editorial content. The people at Amazon valued the newspaper’s contribution so little, in fact, that they felt they ought then to be able to license it to anyone else they wanted. Another witness at the hearing, Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post, said that she thought the Kindle could provide a business model to save the beleaguered newspaper industry. Moroney disagreed. “I get thirty per cent and they get the right to license my content to any portable device—not just ones made by Amazon?” He was incredulous. “That, to me, is not a model.”

Had James Moroney read Chris Anderson’s new book, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” (Hyperion; $26.99), Amazon’s offer might not have seemed quite so surprising. Anderson is the editor of Wired and the author of the 2006 best-seller “The Long Tail,” and “Free” is essentially an extended elaboration of Stewart Brand’s famous declaration that “information wants to be free.” The digital age, Anderson argues, is exerting an inexorable downward pressure on the prices of all things “made of ideas.” Anderson does not consider this a passing trend. Rather, he seems to think of it as an iron law: “In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.” To musicians who believe that their music is being pirated, Anderson is blunt. They should stop complaining, and capitalize on the added exposure that piracy provides by making money through touring, merchandise sales, and “yes, the sale of some of [their] music to people who still want CDs or prefer to buy their music online.” To the Dallas Morning News, he would say the same thing. Newspapers need to accept that content is never again going to be worth what they want it to be worth, and reinvent their business. “Out of the bloodbath will come a new role for professional journalists,” he predicts, and he goes on:

There may be more of them, not fewer, as the ability to participate in journalism extends beyond the credentialed halls of traditional media. But they may be paid far less, and for many it won’t be a full time job at all. Journalism as a profession will share the stage with journalism as an avocation. Meanwhile, others may use their skills to teach and organize amateurs to do a better job covering their own communities, becoming more editor/coach than writer. If so, leveraging the Free—paying people to get other people to write for non-monetary rewards—may not be the enemy of professional journalists. Instead, it may be their salvation.

Anderson is very good at paragraphs like this—with its reassuring arc from “bloodbath” to “salvation.” His advice is pithy, his tone uncompromising, and his subject matter perfectly timed for a moment when old-line content providers are desperate for answers. That said, it is not entirely clear what distinction is being marked between “paying people to get other people to write” and paying people to write. If you can afford to pay someone to get other people to write, why can’t you pay people to write? It would be nice to know, as well, just how a business goes about reorganizing itself around getting people to work for “non-monetary rewards.” Does he mean that the New York Times should be staffed by volunteers, like Meals on Wheels? Anderson’s reference to people who “prefer to buy their music online” carries the faint suggestion that refraining from theft should be considered a mere preference. And then there is his insistence that the relentless downward pressure on prices represents an iron law of the digital economy. Why is it a law? Free is just another price, and prices are set by individual actors, in accordance with the aggregated particulars of marketplace power. “Information wants to be free,” Anderson tells us, “in the same way that life wants to spread and water wants to run downhill.” But information can’t actually want anything, can it? Amazon wants the information in the Dallas paper to be free, because that way Amazon makes more money. Why are the self-interested motives of powerful companies being elevated to a philosophical principle? But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Anderson’s argument begins with a technological trend. The cost of the building blocks of all electronic activity—storage, processing, and bandwidth—has fallen so far that it is now approaching zero. In 1961, Anderson says, a single transistor was ten dollars. In 1963, it was five dollars. By 1968, it was one dollar. Today, Intel will sell you two billion transistors for eleven hundred dollars—meaning that the cost of a single transistor is now about .000055 cents.

Anderson’s second point is that when prices hit zero extraordinary things happen. Anderson describes an experiment conducted by the M.I.T. behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of “Predictably Irrational.” Ariely offered a group of subjects a choice between two kinds of chocolate—Hershey’s Kisses, for one cent, and Lindt truffles, for fifteen cents. Three-quarters of the subjects chose the truffles. Then he redid the experiment, reducing the price of both chocolates by one cent. The Kisses were now free. What happened? The order of preference was reversed. Sixty-nine per cent of the subjects chose the Kisses. The price difference between the two chocolates was exactly the same, but that magic word “free” has the power to create a consumer stampede. Amazon has had the same experience with its offer of free shipping for orders over twenty-five dollars. The idea is to induce you to buy a second book, if your first book comes in at less than the twenty-five-dollar threshold. And that’s exactly what it does. In France, however, the offer was mistakenly set at the equivalent of twenty cents—and consumers didn’t buy the second book. “From the consumer’s perspective, there is a huge difference between cheap and free,” Anderson writes. “Give a product away, and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business. . . . The truth is that zero is one market and any other price is another.”

Since the falling costs of digital technology let you make as much stuff as you want, Anderson argues, and the magic of the word “free” creates instant demand among consumers, then Free (Anderson honors it with a capital) represents an enormous business opportunity. Companies ought to be able to make huge amounts of money “around” the thing being given away—as Google gives away its search and e-mail and makes its money on advertising.

Anderson cautions that this philosophy of embracing the Free involves moving from a “scarcity” mind-set to an “abundance” mind-set. Giving something away means that a lot of it will be wasted. But because it costs almost nothing to make things, digitally, we can afford to be wasteful. The elaborate mechanisms we set up to monitor and judge the quality of content are, Anderson thinks, artifacts of an era of scarcity: we had to worry about how to allocate scarce resources like newsprint and shelf space and broadcast time. Not anymore. Look at YouTube, he says, the free video archive owned by Google. YouTube lets anyone post a video to its site free, and lets anyone watch a video on its site free, and it doesn’t have to pass judgment on the quality of the videos it archives. “Nobody is deciding whether a video is good enough to justify the scarce channel space it takes, because there is no scarce channel space,” he writes, and goes on:

Distribution is now close enough to free to round down. Today, it costs about $0.25 to stream one hour of video to one person. Next year, it will be $0.15. A year later it will be less than a dime. Which is why YouTube’s founders decided to give it away. . . . The result is both messy and runs counter to every instinct of a television professional, but this is what abundance both requires and demands.

There are four strands of argument here: a technological claim (digital infrastructure is effectively Free), a psychological claim (consumers love Free), a procedural claim (Free means never having to make a judgment), and a commercial claim (the market created by the technological Free and the psychological Free can make you a lot of money). The only problem is that in the middle of laying out what he sees as the new business model of the digital age Anderson is forced to admit that one of his main case studies, YouTube, “has so far failed to make any money for Google.”

Why is that? Because of the very principles of Free that Anderson so energetically celebrates. When you let people upload and download as many videos as they want, lots of them will take you up on the offer. That’s the magic of Free psychology: an estimated seventy-five billion videos will be served up by YouTube this year. Although the magic of Free technology means that the cost of serving up each video is “close enough to free to round down,” “close enough to free” multiplied by seventy-five billion is still a very large number. A recent report by Credit Suisse estimates that YouTube’s bandwidth costs in 2009 will be three hundred and sixty million dollars. In the case of YouTube, the effects of technological Free and psychological Free work against each other.

So how does YouTube bring in revenue? Well, it tries to sell advertisements alongside its videos. The problem is that the videos attracted by psychological Free—pirated material, cat videos, and other forms of user-generated content—are not the sort of thing that advertisers want to be associated with. In order to sell advertising, YouTube has had to buy the rights to professionally produced content, such as television shows and movies. Credit Suisse put the cost of those licenses in 2009 at roughly two hundred and sixty million dollars. For Anderson, YouTube illustrates the principle that Free removes the necessity of aesthetic judgment. (As he puts it, YouTube proves that “crap is in the eye of the beholder.”) But, in order to make money, YouTube has been obliged to pay for programs that aren’t crap. To recap: YouTube is a great example of Free, except that Free technology ends up not being Free because of the way consumers respond to Free, fatally compromising YouTube’s ability to make money around Free, and forcing it to retreat from the “abundance thinking” that lies at the heart of Free. Credit Suisse estimates that YouTube will lose close to half a billion dollars this year. If it were a bank, it would be eligible for TARP funds.

Anderson begins the second part of his book by quoting Lewis Strauss, the former head of the Atomic Energy Commission, who famously predicted in the mid-nineteen-fifties that “our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.”

“What if Strauss had been right?” Anderson wonders, and then diligently sorts through the implications: as much fresh water as you could want, no reliance on fossil fuels, no global warming, abundant agricultural production. Anderson wants to take “too cheap to meter” seriously, because he believes that we are on the cusp of our own “too cheap to meter” revolution with computer processing, storage, and bandwidth. But here is the second and broader problem with Anderson’s argument: he is asking the wrong question. It is pointless to wonder what would have happened if Strauss’s prediction had come true while rushing past the reasons that it could not have come true.

Strauss’s optimism was driven by the fuel cost of nuclear energy—which was so low compared with its fossil-fuel counterparts that he considered it (to borrow Anderson’s phrase) close enough to free to round down. Generating and distributing electricity, however, requires a vast and expensive infrastructure of transmission lines and power plants—and it is this infrastructure that accounts for most of the cost of electricity. Fuel prices are only a small part of that. As Gordon Dean, Strauss’s predecessor at the A.E.C., wrote, “Even if coal were mined and distributed free to electric generating plants today, the reduction in your monthly electricity bill would amount to but twenty per cent, so great is the cost of the plant itself and the distribution system.”

This is the kind of error that technological utopians make. They assume that their particular scientific revolution will wipe away all traces of its predecessors—that if you change the fuel you change the whole system. Strauss went on to forecast “an age of peace,” jumping from atoms to human hearts. “As the world of chips and glass fibers and wireless waves goes, so goes the rest of the world,” Kevin Kelly, another Wired visionary, proclaimed at the start of his 1998 digital manifesto, “New Rules for the New Economy,” offering up the same non sequitur. And now comes Anderson. “The more products are made of ideas, rather than stuff, the faster they can get cheap,” he writes, and we know what’s coming next: “However, this is not limited to digital products.” Just look at the pharmaceutical industry, he says. Genetic engineering means that drug development is poised to follow the same learning curve of the digital world, to “accelerate in performance while it drops in price.”

But, like Strauss, he’s forgotten about the plants and the power lines. The expensive part of making drugs has never been what happens in the laboratory. It’s what happens after the laboratory, like the clinical testing, which can take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. In the pharmaceutical world, what’s more, companies have chosen to use the potential of new technology to do something very different from their counterparts in Silicon Valley. They’ve been trying to find a way to serve smaller and smaller markets—to create medicines tailored to very specific subpopulations and strains of diseases—and smaller markets often mean higher prices. The biotechnology company Genzyme spent five hundred million dollars developing the drug Myozyme, which is intended for a condition, Pompe disease, that afflicts fewer than ten thousand people worldwide. That’s the quintessential modern drug: a high-tech, targeted remedy that took a very long and costly path to market. Myozyme is priced at three hundred thousand dollars a year. Genzyme isn’t a mining company: its real assets are intellectual property—information, not stuff. But, in this case, information does not want to be free. It wants to be really, really expensive.

And there’s plenty of other information out there that has chosen to run in the opposite direction from Free. The Times gives away its content on its Web site. But the Wall Street Journal has found that more than a million subscribers are quite happy to pay for the privilege of reading online. Broadcast television—the original practitioner of Free—is struggling. But premium cable, with its stiff monthly charges for specialty content, is doing just fine. Apple may soon make more money selling iPhone downloads (ideas) than it does from the iPhone itself (stuff). The company could one day give away the iPhone to boost downloads; it could give away the downloads to boost iPhone sales; or it could continue to do what it does now, and charge for both. Who knows? The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws.

Monday, July 06, 2009

BBC has a 13-year-old iPod owner review the original Sony Walkman


Giving up my iPod for a Walkman

When the Sony Walkman was launched, 30 years ago this week, it started a revolution in portable music. But how does it compare with its digital successors? The Magazine invited 13-year-old Scott Campbell to swap his iPod for a Walkman for a week.

My dad had told me it was the iPod of its day.

He had told me it was big, but I hadn't realised he meant THAT big. It was the size of a small book.

When I saw it for the first time, its colour also struck me. Nowadays gadgets come in a rainbow of colours but this was only one shade - a bland grey.
# 1: Clunky buttons
# 2: Switch to metal (that's a type of cassette, not heavy rock music)
# 3: Battery light - usually found flickering in its death throes
# 4: Double headphone jack (not to be found on an iPod)
# 5: Door ejects - watch out for flying tapes and eye injuries

So it's not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing choice of music player. If I was browsing in a shop maybe I would have chosen something else.

From a practical point of view, the Walkman is rather cumbersome, and it is certainly not pocket-sized, unless you have large pockets. It comes with a handy belt clip screwed on to the back, yet the weight of the unit is enough to haul down a low-slung pair of combats.

When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

As I boarded the school bus, where I live in Aberdeenshire, I was greeted with laughter. One boy said: "No-one uses them any more." Another said: "Groovy." Yet another one quipped: "That would be hard to lose."

My friends couldn't imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.

In some classes in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised it and got nostalgic.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.
“ I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down 'rewind' and releasing it randomly ”

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day.

Digital relief

Throughout my week using the Walkman, I came to realise that I have very little knowledge of technology from the past. I made a number of naive mistakes, but I also learned a lot about the grandfather of the MP3 Player.

You can almost imagine the excitement about the Walkman coming out 30 years ago, as it was the newest piece of technology at the time.

Perhaps that kind of anticipation and excitement has been somewhat lost in the flood of new products which now hit our shelves on a regular basis.

Personally, I'm relieved I live in the digital age, with bigger choice, more functions and smaller devices. I'm relieved that the majority of technological advancement happened before I was born, as I can't imagine having to use such basic equipment every day.

Having said all that, portable music is better than no music.

Now, for technically curious readers, I've directly compared the portable cassette player with its latter-day successor. Here are the main cons, and even a pro, I found with this piece of antique technology.


This is the function that matters most. To make the music play, you push the large play button. It engages with a satisfying clunk, unlike the finger tip tap for the iPod.

When playing, it is clearly evident that the music sounds significantly different than when played on an MP3 player, mainly because of the hissy backtrack and odd warbly noises on the Walkman.

The warbling is probably because of the horrifically short battery life; it is nearly completely dead within three hours of firing it up. Not long after the music warbled into life, it abruptly ended.


With the plethora of MP3 players available on the market nowadays, each boasting bigger and better features than its predecessor, it is hard to imagine the prospect of purchasing and using a bulky cassette player instead of a digital device.

Furthermore, there were a number of buttons protruding from the top and sides of this device to provide functions such as "rewinding" and "fast-forwarding" (remember those?), which added even more bulk.

As well as this, the need for changing tapes is bothersome in itself. The tapes which I had could only hold around 12 tracks each, a fraction of the capacity of the smallest iPod.

Did my dad, Alan, really ever think this was a credible piece of technology?

"I remembered it fondly as a way to enjoy what music I liked, where I liked," he said. "But when I see it now, I wonder how I carried it!"


But it's not all a one-way street when you line up a Walkman against an iPod. The Walkman actually has two headphone sockets, labelled A and B, meaning the little music that I have, I can share with friends. To plug two pairs of headphones in to an iPod, you have to buy a special adapter.

Another useful feature is the power socket on the side, so that you can plug the Walkman into the wall when you're not on the move. But given the dreadful battery life, I guess this was an outright necessity rather than an extra function.

Scott Campbell co-edits his own news website,

M & C comment: I always liked the fact that the President of Sony came up with the idea, not some low-level engineer or development guy.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

What is a M.A. degree worth?

NYT asks experts and solicits feedback from readers.

Soul Power Trailer

1974 footage of James Brown, BB King, the Spinners, Bill Withers, the Crusaders, Franco, et al in Kinshasa. Oh, man, I wanna see this:


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ethnomusiologist Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy: 1927-2009

UCLA press release

I would add that he was, truly, a gentleman and a scholar, a gentle soul and generous and patient teacher.

Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy: 1927-2009

Published: June 24, 2009

Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, an ethnomusicologist with an international reputation as a researcher, teacher, administrator, and an emeritus faculty member of the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology, died peacefully of lung cancer on Saturday, June 20 at his home in Van Nuys, California.

Jairazbhoy joined the UCLA Department of Music as a full professor in 1975 and in 1988 became the founding chair of the new Department of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology at UCLA.

Professor Jairazbhoy’s comprehensive knowledge of India’s folk, classical, and popular music traditions was unrivalled among those in the field of ethnomusicology, which combines the study of music with the ethnographic techniques and theories of anthropology. In addition, his promotion of audio-visual documentation and use of technology to disseminate performing arts traditions, his leadership in advancing the methodological debates of his field, and his pioneering efforts to create institutions which advance the study of “world music” traditions, made a place for him among those whose goal is no less than global human understanding.

Born in England of Indian parents, Jairazbhoy became interested in music as a child watching his mother play the sitar at home. He attended high school in India and England and received and B.A. in Geography from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in 1971 in Indian Music from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Publications to his credit include The Rags of North Indian Music: Their Structure and Evolution and Hi-Tech Shiva and Other Apocryphal Stories: An Academic Allegory. He has also produced numerous audio and video documents, which include A Musical Journey through India, 1963-1964 and, in collaboration with his wife, Dr. Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, Bake Restudy in India: 1938-1984, which received an award from the Society for Visual Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association, and Retooling a Tradition: A Rajasthani Puppet Takes Umbrage at his Stringholders, a fictive documentary. He also taught numerous courses in ethnomusicology at UCLA, including field and laboratory methods, transcription and organology, as well as courses on the folk and classical music of India. He served as director of Indian music performance in the department until his retirement in 1994.

One of Jairazbhoy’s major contributions is in the use of audio-visual materials. The work of scholars such as Jairazbhoy, whose research is based primarily on fieldwork in remote locales of poorer nations, demands a high level of proficiency in the technical facets of photography, sound recording, and video recording. (When a musical tradition has not previously been documented, the scholar must of course do all his or her own AV documentation before [s]he can begin to analyze the music or investigate its history and social background.) Jairazbhoy always had a strong technical bent, and by the 1980s he expanded his publications from the purely text-based to videos and films he edited and produced from his own field footage. In 1994, he and his wife established their own registered non-profit-making publishing company, Apsara Media for Intercultural Education (motto: "Bringing Ethnographic Content to the Classroom"), which is extremely active in publishing AV materials and books on the performing and other arts of South and Southeast Asia (many based on their own work, but including some that are collaborations with or authored by other parties).

Jairazbhoy’s work was revered throughout his life as pioneering because of his ability to think “outside-the-box.” For example, still today in Indian music circles, many people consider Indian classical music to be the only form of South Asian music worth studying. Jairazbhoy began his career in the 1950s playing, presenting, and writing on just that classical tradition. Nevertheless, almost from the outset, he developed a passionate interest in the undocumented but wonderfully diverse folk music traditions of India and Pakistan, and spent the last half-century bringing them to light. In many cases, the only reason we have any documentation of entire genres and their social and historical importance is because of Jairazbhoy's work.

In a related vein, when in the early 1970s the North American field of ethnomusicology was almost entirely focused on classical and folk musics of the world, he courted controversy by reading a paper at the Society for Ethnomusicology annual meeting on Bollywood film music ("How Indian is Indian Film Music?" [1973]), and advocating for popular music to be taken seriously as a hugely influential musical form (a view that is now mainstream). The same pioneering spirit led him to experiment in the 1970s and early 1980s with video field recording and computer applications for data organization and retrieval, to institute the first phase of an ongoing "restudy" of Indian musical genres recorded in the 1930s by Dutch researcher Arnold Bake (in fact, the first restudy ever undertaken in the field of ethnomusicology), and to collaborate with colleagues from other fields in work on acoustics and music perception.

This "can do" spirit also resulted in numerous leadership roles: Jairazbhoy spearheaded the formation in the mid 1980s of India's renowned Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology in New Delhi, which is now considered a worldwide model; in 1975 he became the first non-white President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the premier professional association in North America; in 1988 he was the founding chair of the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA (now arguably the leading program in ethnomusicology in the English-speaking world); he consulted and presented for three Smithsonian Institution festivals; and he served as a member for eleven years of the Board of Directors of the UNESCO-affiliated International Council for Traditional Music (the most high-profile international organization in our field). The ideas and innovations he implemented in these roles still affect these institutions and their missions today.

Since his official retirement in 1994, Jairazbhoy’s career has remained vibrantly active. His most recent book came out in January 2008; he recently had an article published by Ethnomusicology, the flagship journal in the field; he edited and produced two published DVDs based on his field research in 2007; and awards and speaking invitations continued to flow in both domestically and internationally.

Since 1994, Jairazbhoy has spent four months nearly every year during the winter in India continuing his field research; despite his age, and despite difficult physical conditions in the countryside and small towns. An enormous flow of published works resulted from these trips and other research: his 2008 book on puppetry in Rajasthan; seven videos and DVDs as well as an audio CD, some produced in collaboration with his ethnomusicologist/filmmaker wife Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, that document folk music traditions of India, Pakistan, and Hmong Americans; two refereed journal articles; four book chapters; five conference papers; and several other smaller items. This period has also seen publication of the substantially revised second edition of his 1971 book The Rags of North Indian Music, now considered a classic in scholarship on Indian classical music. He and Catlin-Jairazbhoy recently completed a new DVD project based on recent fieldtrips to restudy South Indian musical traditions first recorded in the 1930s by Dutch scholar Arnold Bake. The DVD, Music for a Goddess, was screened in March at the National Centre for performing Arts, Mumbai.

Jairazbhoy was a role model for humanly concerned scholarship: until the end of his life, he continued to support the New Delhi Archive he established, depositing copies of all his materials there to benefit the originating communities and Indian scholars; he spoke constantly at Indian institutions; and following the disastrous Gujarat earthquake of 2001, he and Catlin-Jairazbhoy lobbied and raised funds for destitute musicians of the region, helping them get smashed instruments reconstructed, and ultimately assisting them in obtaining invitations to perform at both domestic and international venues, which helped their families both economically and in terms of social status. They were also engaged in a similar effort to help sacred musicians dedicated to the Goddess Renuka/Yellamma improve their own and their children's prospects while retaining musical traditions they wish to continue (despite local government determination to destroy everything associated with their lifestyle). These activities are in fact an extension of Jairazbhoy's decades-long custom of using his own personal funds to provide financial and counseling support to less well-off artists in India, in particular musicians and puppeteers from Rajasthan, and Sidis (African-Indians) from Gujarat.

Jairazbhoy's achievements have been richly rewarded with both domestic and international recognition. His professional society in North America, the Society for Ethnomusicology, has given him both of its highest awards: in 1995 he accepted the prestigious invitation to give the Charles Seeger Memorial Lecture (the keynote address) at the Society's annual meeting; and in 2005 the Board of the Society named him an "honorary life member," an honor reserved for the most distinguished senior figures in the field. In India, Jairazbhoy was honored in 2005 with the Music Forum Award (Mumbai) for "Contribution to the Cause of Indian Music by Overseas Resident Personality." He has also achieved the rare distinction of an entry on his life and work in the world's primary English-language music encyclopedia, the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980 and 2001 editions). In 2009 an oral history of his life and work was completed and submitted to the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research. In 2008 he received the UCLA Dickson Emeritus Award in recognition of his numerous ongoing contributions to UCLA, to many musicians and institutions in India, and to the wider world of scholarship.

Jairazbhoy donated his body to the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine Donated Body Program for teaching and research.

He is survived by his wife, Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, daughters Nishat Jairazbhoy (Spacek), Angela (Jairazbhoy) Schurer, Judy (Jairazbhoy) Lewicki, son Paul Jairazbhoy, and godson Abdul Hamid Sidi.