A Black singer named Tina Bell helped invent grunge

If you’re like most people, when you think of the term “grunge,” you picture a bunch of white guys with long hair and plaid shirts playing angst-ridden, power-chord style rock and roll. Canadian folk artist turned rock musician Neil Young is often seen as the godfather of grunge, for his love of both plaid shirts and hard-rocking music. But some would argue that one of the real pioneers of grunge in the 1980s was a tiny Black woman named Tina Bell and her band, Bam Bam. Not only was the music pioneering, but the band gave some more famous grunge artists a start as well, including a drummer who went on to play with Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, and a young roadie name Kurt Cobain.

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New York eccentrics and their apartments

New Yorkers reveal their fabulous apartments in photographer Sally Davies’s portraits of larger than life characters in their equally colourful homes– a glimpse into the grit, elegance, poverty and humanity of an ever-changing city:

Flloyd NYC. Photographed at his home in the East Village on 26 October 2019.

Flloyd: “Shortly after moving in I discovered the person before me paid one-fourth of what I paid and I spent the next two years in court. Afterwards, my rent was lowered to an insanely low amount. This has given me the ability to live the life of a starving artist. I live a very sober life, and I enjoy cooking and baking, and watching old movies with my boyfriend.”

X Baczewsky. Photographed at her home on 1st Avenue on 2 May 2019.

X Baczewsky: “When I moved into this tiny apartment I decided that I would think of it as a small parlour in a much larger home, rather than the small apartment that it is.”

James Kaston. Photographed at his home in Stuyvesant Town on 2 November 2019.

James: “I still like New York City, but not the bike lane, not the bikes, not the people on the bikes. I don’t like the glass towers and I don’t like all the chain stores in this city. It’s really become a city of greed. I don’t like the way the word ‘luxury’ is tossed around regarding things that should just be described as “plain”.

The “influencer selling her farts in jars” story just will not stop, but is it true?

I know there are those who will argue this story is beneath me, but they are wrong! I first came across Stephanie Matto when the former reality-TV star (who appeared on something I have never seen, called “90-Day Fiance”) talked with a British tabloid about how her sideline — selling farts in a jar to obsessed collectors online — had sent her the hospital. Matto, who claimed to be making as much as $50,000 *a week* selling the jars, said she overdid the flatulence-inducing foods and thought at first she was having a heart attack, but it was just (you have probably already guessed it) gas.

“I thought I was having a stroke and that these were my final moments,” Matto told the UK’s Jam Press about her unexpected trip to the hospital near her home in Connecticut. “I was overdoing it.” Matto, who refers to herself as a fartrepreneur, started farting in jars and selling them online in November and documented the foods she was eating on TikTok to keep up her flatulence, like beans, protein muffins, and eggs. Matto was reportedly taking in roughly $50,000 per week through her highly profitable endeavor.

But wait! That’s only the beginning of this story. If you follow along a little more, Matto talks about how she is now selling NFTs — non-fungible tokens, a cryptocurrency invention that gives buyers a digital code that represents ownership of an image — of her farts in jars. This is some next level stuff!

Matto has launched a website selling 5,000 fart jar NFTs for .05 ether, which at the current exchange rate works out to about $191, not including ethereum’s notoriously high gas fees. In this case, ether’s gas fees, which are just transaction fees for the blockchain, are rather appropriately named. Matto’s new website claims that 100 of the virtual fart jars will be redeemable for real-world fart jars.

Another 70 tokens will be redeemable for used panties and 30 of the fart jar tokens will be redeemable for some of Matto’s used lingerie. “These NFTs are just as beautiful, unique, and rare as my actual poots! You can practically smell how delightful they are through the screen. Just use your imagination!” Matto said in a statement on her website.

All of this seems bizarre and incredibly stupid, and yet it is a fact that some people (mostly men, let’s admit) pay money for all kinds of things so long as they are related to attractive women, including spending thousands of dollars watching them eat food. So the fart-in-a-jar thing is not out of the realm of possibility. But is the story true? Thankfully, someone at Input magazine has tried to get to the bottom of it (sorry):

“Based on the evidence that the NFT launch was planned well in advance, that it was minted the day before the hospitalization story and that [journalists] used a three-year-old photo to show the influencer as ‘hospitalized,’ it calls into question whether this was really a story at all — or just a made-up PR stunt to promote sales of a newly minted NFT project,” says @interlunations

The Luddites weren’t against technology, they were protesting industrialization

Almanac: The Luddites - CBS News

Whenever someone is opposed to or criticial of technology — or even just not that familiar with it — we often call them Luddites. But what does this term mean? Science-fiction writer (and Canadian) Cory Doctorow wrote about this term recently, and how misplaced our current use of it is:

From 1811-1816, a secret society styling themselves “the Luddites” smashed textile machinery in the mills of England. Today, we use “Luddite” as a pejorative referring to backwards, anti-technology reactionaries. This proves that history really is written by the winners. In truth, the Luddites’ cause wasn’t the destruction of technology – no more than the Boston Tea Party’s cause was the elimination of tea, or Al Qaeda’s cause was the end of civilian aviation. Smashing looms and stocking frames was the Luddites’ tactic, not their goal.

The Luddites weren’t exercised about automation. What were they fighting about? These new machines could have allowed the existing workforce to produce far more cloth, in far fewer hours, at a much lower price, while still paying these workers well. Instead, the owners of the factories – whose fortunes had been built on the labor of textile workers – chose to employ fewer workers, working the same long hours as before, at a lower rate than before, and pocketed the savings.

via Locus magazine

The Trevor Bastard Extended Universe

If you should happen to come across any tweets or Instagram posts or discussion of two non-league soccer clubs from south London — the Streatham Rovers and Sydenham United — or the league they play in (the Xtermin8 Rat Poison League,) beware: you are entering a long-running “alternate reality game” or ARG known colloquially as the Trevor Bastard Extended Universe. Although in this case, the ARG term might not be totally appropriate, since there is no real winner in this game — it’s just a prank that took on a life of its own.

The TBEU encompasses not only other fictional south London non-league teams — from bitter rivals Dynamo Catford (known for their slogans “Shit on the Streatham” and “Solidarity with ISIS”), to bit players like CSKA Wallington and Edenbridge Bridge FC (check out that completely wild club crest) — but also SRFC’s lawyer, a divorce solicitor named Oliver Laughdugry (a man who hates Brexit so much he had his beloved pet dog put down so that he can fight it full-time, a “tragedy” he attempted to blame on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn) and Laughdugry’s friend Simon Hedges, a “Sensible Labour” journalist and online politeness activist.

Streatham figures such as manager Goose and Club committee member Roger Parnsip (bio: “Hope Dynamo Catpiss die in a car crash”) , have their own Twitter accounts, and the universe also draws in other parody accounts such as the Blairite Politics Professor Dr. Robert Zands. This world is known by the acronym “Trevor Bastard Extended Universe” (TBEU), although the pseudonymous authorship is in part collaborative: while Bastard is behind the majority of the accounts, some, like Hedges, are run by other people.

via The Trevor Bastard Extended Universe is modern art

Thrift store find leads to release of album 48 years after it was recorded

Kevin Howes was at a thrift store in rural Alberta in 2014 when he came upon an old vinyl record in a plain white cover. The music historian, who was on a cross-country trip digging to find lost music from the analog era, paid the cashier 25 cents for the record, not knowing what to expect. “I took it home to my motel room later that night and I had a portable turntable and I listened to it and I was just flabbergasted at what I was hearing,” Howes said. “This was a really personal, progressive folk album from the early ’70s.” About five years after discovering the album, Howes emailed musician Duane O’Kane, asking if he had anything to do with a band named Catseye. O’Kane was stunned to have someone reach out to him about a band he helped form decades ago.

Source: Thrift store find leads to release of B.C. musician’s album 48 years after it was recorded | CBC News

A tribute to B95 — also known as Moonbird

A red knot (a species of shorebird) whose tag is B95 has been nicknamed “Moonbird,” because of his prodigious flying record. The oldest known member of his species, at about 30 years old, B95 has flown about 20,000 miles every year on his journey from the Canadian Arctic to Tierra del Fuego, which means his total flying distance has exceeded the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

A trip down memory lane, via this blog

I recently moved this blog to a new server, so I ‘ve been reconstructing it, and in the process looking through some *really* old posts. It starts in 2005, with some columns I reposted from the newspaper I worked for (the Globe and Mail in Toronto). At the time, I thought I would create a website where I could cross-post my newspaper work, the way Malcolm Gladwell and others were doing at the time, but then I started actually blogging about “Web 2.0” and cross-posting went by the wayside. One of the first non-newspaper posts was about “the revenge of the blog-o-sphere,” sparked by a column in Forbes written by Dan Lyons (who would later write The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, among other things) and the negative reaction from people like @om and @dangillmor.

From there on, it’s like a time capsule: posts about Yahoo integrating RSS into Yahoo Mail, about the rise of Craigslist — which had 9M unique visitors when I wrote about it in 2005, and has about 200 million now — and TiVo (remember that?), and the battle of Flickr vs Webshots. Other blasts from the past include a post about Jason Calacanis selling Weblogs to AOL, one about Google Reader and Bloglines and NewsGator, and one that pits Dave Winer against Nick Carr, Paul Kedrosky and others.

Then there’s a classic: me arguing with Dave Winer over whether a blog without comments actually qualifies as a blog or not 🙂 It seems like a lifetime ago that this is the kind of thing we spent our time worrying about! At some point, my personal blog posts were getting more traffic than the technology page of the Globe and Mail, and I tried to convince the paper to let me create a separate site, the way Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg did with All Things Digital, but the paper balked 😦 Posting got light in 2009, after I became the social-media editor for the Globe — the “communities editor,” we called it — in charge of reader comments, and of getting reporters to sign up for Twitter, etc. (explaining the concept of “tweeting” to newspaper execs was so fun).

At the time, having a “social media” editor was such a new concept that no one really knew how it worked, or how it should work. I remember the new social-media editor hired by the New York Times called me to get some advice, because I was one of the first to hold that position at a major daily in North America, and I confessed that I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing, but that she should try to convince reporters and editors to get on Twitter 🙂

in 2010 — 12 years ago this month — I left the paper to join GigaOm. It seems like a hundred years ago now, not just because of COVID, but because the media landscape has changed so much in the past decade. Do I miss the old blog-o-sphere? (Yes, we actually used that term unironically). I do — mostly because even when there were the same dumb fights and interpersonal BS, they happened more slowly and with fewer participants. But it was also a very male and white and well-off world. Do I regret pushing the message that the social web could help journalism? No. Maybe that makes me a Pollyanna, but I honestly think it has led to good things — more voices, different voices, worthwhile criticism etc. — although that gets lost amid the larger dumpster fire.

Anyway, if anyone is still here, thanks for indulging me in this little trip down memory lane! It has been an interesting time — maybe a little too interesting 🙂

The Ingram Christmas Letter 2021

Hi everyone! Hope you and your loved ones are all well — or as well as can be, considering <gestures vaguely at everything>. Please read (or skip) to the end for a nice surprise! A beacon of hope amid these dark times — M.

Until just a few weeks ago, I had some hope that this Christmas letter would be significantly different from last year’s version, which looked back on the year that COVID-19 arrived and became a global pandemic (we found a Christmas ornament online that expressed our thoughts about 2020 — see if you can make out what it says). Before about mid-December, things were looking pretty good, relatively speaking: most people (the smart ones, anyway) had gotten not one but two shots of vaccine — in many cases, mRNA vaccines, which were developed faster than any other vaccine in human history. The rate of COVID growth had slowed in most places, hospitals were no longer overwhelmed, and Christmas looked like it might be something approaching normal.

Then we found out about the Omicron variant, which spreads somewhere between two and three times as rapidly as the Delta variant. International — and even local — travel suddenly became a gamble. If we’re double-vaxxed and boosted, does that mean we can still get together with family, or should we bail on Christmas yet again? With so many unknowns (is Omicron milder than Delta? Is this the beginning of the end, where we all get COVID but it doesn’t turn into anything serious and it gradually becomes just like the flu?) everyone has had to make their own personal choices — it’s like a roll of the dice, except you’re rolling at the same time you’re playing Russian roulette.

Last year, we wound up shelving our plans to have family at our place near Buckhorn for Christmas, and instead had a delicious meal and quiet evening with our next-door neighbours Marc and Kris. On Boxing Day, we wound up having a wonderful surprise visit from our oldest daughter Caitlin and her husband Wade, who called to say they were out for a walk and then showed up at the door, having driven all the way from Ancaster. We set up chairs and a propane fire-pit in the garage and had a charcuterie plate and some drinks, then went for a hike, and it was lovely. After things calmed down a bit, and we had gotten our first vaccine, we got together for a late Christmas at our place in March, and went for lots more hikes and skated on the pond and visited the neighbour’s sheep.

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