Video Fridays: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Ever since my post from Tuesday, I haven’t been able to stop listening to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

It’s funny how some music takes a while to really sink in and appeal. When I first heard their only full-length album to date, Up from Below, back in April, after it was gifted to me by a friend on my trip to southern California, I immediately heard some of the similarities to Arcade Fire that most people point out, and since I’m not an Arcade Fire fan, I brushed them off.

But my wife and son really took to the record, and so it was playing fairly regularly there for a while, and slowly but surely it grew on me. I started to notice all the things that distinguished Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros from Arcade Fire, most significantly that the former takes themselves WAY less seriously. Edward Sharpe has that lovely hippie sensibility that I love so much, and upon deeper listening sound more like a roaming band of hipster gypsies than some artsy-fartsy orchestral rock band.

I just can’t get enough of this song, even though I look at how many members there are in the band and feel like a hypocrite, given the comments I made about Okkervil River back in May.

Of Debt and Dicks

With the interwebs dominated by news of the head-banging-on-brick-wall drama going on in Washington, D.C. over the debt crisis, where U.S. governmental dysfunction has reached farcical levels once again, leading the country to the brink of financial disaster, a disaster that could have disastrous repercussions all around the world…

…well, I never thought I’d say this, but…

I’m grateful to have come across this story at Salon:

Welcome to the world’s largest penis collection

HUSAVIK, Iceland — Three years ago when a local fisherman found a dead walrus on his property, he cut off its penis and called Sigurdur Hjartarson.

“I’ve taken it off. Do you want it?” he asked, figuring Hjartarson, the curator of the phallological museum located conveniently a few miles away, might be interested in the genitals of what he described as an extremely old, two ton walrus.

Hjartarson was thrilled. His Icelandic Phallological Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of penises and penile parts, had scored another valuable specimen.

Thank god for comic relief!

The article vacillates between cringe-inducing:

But not all of the penis specimens on display in Husavik are so frighteningly large. That’s especially true for the organ filed under the code “D15b.”

This one belonged to a human male, a renowned womanizer named Pall Arason who died in January at the age of 95 after claiming to have bedded 296 women (he kept a “gentlemen’s scorecard,” naturally).

In 1996, Arason agreed to have his penis donated to the museum after his death. He kept his word, although right before he passed away he regretted it had “shriveled embarrassingly” in the last years.

Today the specimen, hair and all, sits among the smaller mammal pieces — rats, rabbits and hamsters whose bits, humiliatingly enough, come with a magnifying glass — in the transparent case with the caption: “Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Member whole, with scrotum and both testicles. In formalin.”

…and guffaw-inducing:

“Collecting penises is like collecting anything. You can never stop, you can never catch up, you can always get a new one, a better one,” Hjartarson said as he reached into the museum’s penis-shaped cash register to return some change to a customer, before picking up a phone of the same shape.

…and though I do not harbor a phallus phetish, Iceland has now inched up — so to speak — my travel wish list.

Tweets of the Day: @RiversCuomo

Who ever said that being a regular meditator and having a life filled with fun were antithetical?

Eyecatchers: Skateboard Shades

This is frickin’ awesome!

I just stumbled upon the following outrageously cool example of creative recycling and repurposing via Good.is.

There’s a bit too much skateboarding footage than I’d prefer at the beginning, before getting to the point, but once there I found it a blast to watch.

Turns out the woodshop genius in the video is from Portland, Oregon-based Shwood, a company that makes a range of wood-framed sunglasses, which are very cool, but an average price of about $135 per pair?!!

Gulp.

Suzuki’s Every Van: A good idea, but…

Suzuki Every Van EV

When I came across a post at Inhabitat this morning about an EV van that Suzuki is testing out in small numbers in Japan, I had a strong feeling of déjà vu.

My initial reaction was excitement and my thoughts went something like, “Awesome!!! Think of all the mini-van parents and road trip hippies that would love this thing.”

But then I read:

At full charge, the Every has a maximum range of 62 miles…

…and it all came back to me.

Back in December 2008, at my old blog, Transcendental Floss, I posted something similar after reading about a fleet of cool-looking EV sport utility trucks reportedly planned for deployment in Maui, HI.

3.5 years ago I wrote:

Finally! An electric car that actually looks practical for the average American family…

Heck, a guy could even make a trip to The Home Depot in this thing and not feel ridiculous!

Alas, no amount of Googling would provide any information as to whether or not the EV trucks ever made it to Maui, so I have to assume that the the project didn’t make it very far out of the starting gate. After all, you’d think there would have been all kinds of press surrounding the arrival of the vehicles, construction of the EV infrastructure (charging stations), and coverage of the EVs in action, but there was nothing that I could find.

So, I’ve seen this movie before. Great idea for a vehicle that could meet the needs of folks who need to move more people and stuff around than most EVs will allow, but terrible execution or insufficient technology.

I mean, a range of 62 miles and five hours to recharge?! That might work on the island of Maui, but it’s terribly impractical just about anywhere else. So much for the road trip hippie market, as that’s one pathetically short trip.

Hopefully some of the other EV products in the works, that I’ve written about here, will manifest as a better solution.

Long Live Hippies!

A friend of mine recently tweeted a wonderful YouTube clip (video embedded below) of a joint performance by The Flaming Lips and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros of the Lips song Do You Realize?, filmed in a cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.

I dare anyone to watch the video and NOT have the word “hippies” come to mind, and I’m reminded of a post I wrote back in April 2010, a lament on the fact that for some, in my opinion too many, the word “hippies” carries a negative connotation.

I watch that video of Do You Realize? and it’s quite bittersweet for me. While it’s heartening to see hippie culture surviving, it breaks my heart to think of how squashed the movement got, as I wrote previously, by cynicism and conservatism.

What I see when I watch that video is a crowd of people being incredibly peaceful, lovingly joining their voices together in song, singing about how precious life is and how we should, together, make the most of every single second. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of similar experiences, and while I was raised Jewish and now dabble in Buddhism, I’d have to say that gatherings like that, especially when they involve making music, are really the only church I’ll ever need.

Back in April 2010 I quoted a line by Pete Townshend of The Who, a line that I remembered but couldn’t recall exactly where it came from. Well, I’ve since remembered.

In 1993, Townshend released an album titled Psychoderelict, a concept album about an aging rock star lamenting the fact that back in the late 60s and through much of the 70s artists and their fans really did believe that their music and art, along with their love and community, could change the world for the better.

Townshend’s aging rocker says at one point, “Whatever happened to all that lovely hippie shit?”

Well, despite all the cynicism in our screwed up world, that hippie shit is alive and well and recently showed up in a Los Angeles cemetery. And, it really has very little to do with how people dress or how often they do drugs and drink, and everything to do with a sincere belief that love; peaceful, supportive, inclusive community; and freedom of expression, are the most important things.