Let’s face it folks

Let’s face it, folks: We’ve been spoiled. In contrast to the last couple of years, we’ve been granted the blessing of fall this year. Not just autumn, but an autumn that’s felt more like summer. The leaves have been holding out for months and the grass is still green. Never before has my resplendent supply of T-shirts lasted me so long. But our time of Indian summer is winding down, and I have a feeling that it might make this winter’s transition even rougher.
Now, to put things in perspective, I will remind you that Pittsburgh actually has a temperate climate. Sure, our winter feels like the worst thing in the world — long and wet and lonely. My friend Ben, however, spent last year in Iceland, and you’d better believe things are a lot rougher there. In a country riddled with depression (that’s personal and economic depression), it’s hard to keep a level head during the eternal winter season.
So what do they do? Well, in addition to eating various kinds of animal meat you’ve never heard of (and probably don’t want to), residents sometimes get together for a good ol’-fashioned sing-along. Using simple acoustic instrumentation, these gatherings are informal and usually just a way of warming up the cold and windy winter nights — a little whiskey, a little song, what more could you need?
On Dec. 4, the sing-along returns to the winter season, but this time as an interactive trans-city experience. Ben will be hosting a group in Cleveland, Ohio that will be in live video/audio communication with a group in Pittsburgh to be hosted at the Waffle Shop. The cities will switch leading songs by the likes of R. Kelly, Beck, Dolly Parton, and more. It’s a modern twist on an old-fashioned winter remedy. We may not be in Iceland, nor yet in the heart of our worst months, but it can’t hurt to start a new routine in curing the winter blues.
-M. Callen



If sex is considered as impersonal as a handshake, I’m worried about what people are coming to think of music. The MP3 has been getting around for almost a decade now. In the beginning, MP3s moved through a point of contact; people exchanged mixed CDs looking for new music. People talked about their musical choices. They exchanged their musical intuitions. It was wonderful; it was convenient; and it never cost anything.
Nowadays, moving music around is so much less personal. People are searching through the Internet reading blogs, articles, Tumbles, and Tweets, searching for good music instead of sitting down and finding it themselves. Any song can be found and downloaded off some file-sharing website on the Internet. It’s all too cheap.
People aren’t finding new music together. With sex, at least someone else is there, but with music, we’re looking for action from something as impersonal as a computer.
Music has become a private affair — almost too self-indulgent. People aren’t exploring their boundaries. They’re just finding more and more of what they already know they like. What are we going to do next? Take music off MP3s and remix it ourselves?
Obviously, that’s what we’ve come to do. Remixes and samples abound in music right now. It’s getting a little old now, though. Originally, remixes seemed like compliments to an artist; remixes were your personal connection to your favorite musician. Now, however, remixes are getting produced on an assembly line with a standardized set of instructions. What is the definitive sound of this generation?
I’m almost afraid to say it, but this last decade of music is going to be known for the technology. Music seems to be amalgamating into some indefinable blurb. Over the last 10 years, no artist has really grabbed our attention. The big bands we hear now are the same ones we listened to back in the early ’90s. This generation has gone to the MP3 and the MP3 moves songs around like a musical prostitute.
-Stephen Epple

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