Archive for the ‘hackers’ Tag

[50/50] Album #31: “Elastica”

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Album #31: Elastica — “Elastica” (1994)

elastica-frontalA few months ago, an article in Indy Week argued the merits of multimedia gimmicks symphonies and orchestras are using to get people in the seats. In the end, agreed the conductors, directors and musicians interviewed, it doesn’t matter:

“I don’t care how a person arrives at their love and understanding of music. If it comes from loving Renaissance choral music, fine. If it comes from loving the music of John Williams, fine. If it’s Marvin Hamlisch, fine. I can see many avenues in, and multimedia is one of them.” —Timothy Myers, artistic director and principal conductor for the N.C. Opera

And opera man is right. Where and when you discover something is irrelevant — what matters is that you find it. Fans might have been (justifiably) horrified when The Beatles’ Revolution was used to sell Nike (oh how the Boomer hate to be called out on selling out), but a whole new generation discovered Nick Drake thanks to a commercial that single-handedly revitalized interest in a long-dead ’60s artist. Same goes for TV show themes, movie soundtracks, and, more commercials. Some producer champions a favorite forgotten, obscure or undiscovered band, and *bam* you suddenly have a new favorite group.

Such was the case with Elastica, who I discovered thanks to their song “Connection” being used in a TV teaser for 1995’s “Hackers” — tease being the appropriate word here. “Hackers” turned out to be a truly, truly awful movie that was laughable in how hard it tried to be cool. You know, like CYBERCOOL, DUDE. Adding insult to injury, “Connection” wasn’t even used in the movie, meaning I had just gotten suckered into a flick under false pretenses. (Okay, Angelina Jolie did look pretty bitchin’ in that pixie cut, I’ll give it that). It was certainly the last time I ever went to a film based solely on a commercial, even if, admittedly, it did lead me to Elastica.

Elastica had a short and storied career, noted as much for their legal problems as the two kick-ass albums they put out. Accused of lifting, plagiarizing and outright stealing rifts — according to a lawsuit from the band Wire that is — they at least had the good taste to borrow from groups like Wire, the Buzzcocks and Blondie, all of which informed their short, sharp post-punk songs. (They eventually rerecorded most of material for an extended take on the Peel Sessions; I was rather happy to stumble across that unexpected CD a few years back at a yard sale.) That compilation in particular has been in heavy rotation in my car for the last few years now, and isn’t going anywhere soon.

[50/50] Short Story #19: “Spew”

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Short Story #19: “Spew” — Neal Stephenson (1994)

circuit boardBack in its heyday, Wired rarely ran fiction —but it made an exception for Neal Stephenson’s “Spew.” Put it on the cover, in fact. Ostensibly a cyberpunk story about hackers in the near future, it has proven surprisingly prophetic regarding social media and the way it mines for our personal data.

“Spew” follows a tech-savvy slacker who’s hired as a cool hunter by a major media corp to find the next big thing — only the author never stoops to such lame jargon because he’s Neal-fucking-Stephenson. For all it’s hep terminology and ironic detachment however, the story is a fundamentally sad one, a cautionary tale about desire and technology, and the culture shock one experiences when aging out of a desirable demographic. Most importantly, “Spew” reminds you that corporations, no matter how hard they try, can never truly bottle youth — or happiness.

You could track down an old copy of Wired magazine on eBay, or you can go read an online copy here.