The conservative (and generous) economics of Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry has become one of my heroes.  His writings and ideas are among the most penetrating I have encountered in any living author, and he has a wonderful and luminous presence.  He was featured on the Diane Rehm show earlier this year, and that conversation was selected for re-broadcast on New Year’s Eve, a fitting editorial choice about what we Americans should be thinking about as we compost the years 2000-2009 and decide what seeds we will plant in the coming decade (with what little fertile soil is left).

As I was driving around town and thinking about the extraordinary costs going into both the construction of Manifold Recording (not to mention the equipment budget), I was struck by these comments (at 17:16 into the one hour program):

Useful criticism always begins with an appropriate standard.  And consumerism—the flourishing of consumerism—is not an adequate standard, just as economic feasibility is not an adequate standard for human behavior.


What might this mean?

Continue reading “The conservative (and generous) economics of Wendell Berry”

Week 103 (Dropping the Hips)

Before this past week, I had thought that the maths involved in framing a 5:12 pitch roof was fairly straightforward: for every 12 feet of run, there’s 5 feet of rise, and so there’s not much to figuring out how to cut a rafter and put it into place.  That may be so for rafters that are running perpendicular to the walls and/or roof pitch, but things get a lot more interesting at the hips, when two facets of a roof come together to form one common line.  If you don’t believe me, check out these hip shift and hip drop calculations.  With many tangents and arc tangents, it’s not for the faint of heart!  And so our brave carpenters begin the most complex part of the Control Room roof yet: the hips…

Continue reading “Week 103 (Dropping the Hips)”

Week 102 (Control Room roof framing begins)

With the masons and the carpenters running full tilt, and more trades beginning to participate in the project, the idea that I could write a weekly blog posting with a suitably descriptive title now seems quaint.  Yes, we have begun putting up the rafters on the control room roof, but that tells less than one third of the story of what’s been happening this week.  So instead of trying to make the title tell the story, I should let the pictures do the talking.

The first step of the raftering process was the installation of wooden members into the bent steel beam.  Here’s what was built:


according to this detail drawing:

Continue reading “Week 102 (Control Room roof framing begins)”

Week 101 (Laying the Bent Steel Beam)

One fact of our construction process is this: everything is important.  The blocks on the 7th course depend on those in the 6th, and those in the 6th depend on the 5th, etc.  Nevertheless, there are days when something extraordinary happens, something that opens the door to the next major transformation of the project, and this week was special because we had one of those days.  This is the week that we laid the bent steel beam that defines the roof ridge of the Control Room.  Here is that profile from the West Elevation:


This beam has already perplexed a few who have seen it, so let me just explain a few details.

Continue reading “Week 101 (Laying the Bent Steel Beam)”

Jazz Music and Open Source Software

Who knew that Open Standards maven Andrew Updegrove was a jazz fan?  He riffs:

Jazz, of course, is open source all the way — it’s the ultimate freedom machine. Once you’ve grasped the melody line and basic chord structure of any song, you’re on your own, encouraged to take the author’s initial inspiration anywhere you wish. A jazz musician isn’t judged by the faithfulness of his rendition but by what he codes at the musical keys.

Even the legal underpinnings of jazz are different, at least in the trenches. No one who is really serious about jazz goes out and buys, say, an Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis or Mahavishnu John McLaughlin song book, setting down note for note what the great musician played. How could you? They played it different every time.

You can read more of this wonderful entry here.  Me?  I need to go practice more songs from The Real Book.

Weathervane Music points to a new future

Weathervane Music is a non-profit, community supported production company, making music and video to support and advance the careers of amazing independent musicians. Unlike traditional for-profit production or record companies, the vast majority of proceeds from the recordings of this music go straight to the artists, which Weathervane Music selects. I first heard about them when Brian McTear made this announcement in June, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it ever since:

Hi all,

Long time no speak! I’ve been really busy putting together a new non-profit organization called Weathervane Music. In a nutshell we’re experimenting with a new model for how to fund and promote the work of great independent musicians.

Our main focus to start is something we’re calling the Weathervane Music Project Series. It’s a curated music and music-related video series produced for the web in which selected artists come into the studio (at no cost to them, of course) and record a song. The whole thing is artfully captured in hi-definition video, providing great exposure for the artist, some interesting material for gear enthusiasts, and a general primer for Weathervane’s mission.

Now NPR‘s All Things Considered has beat me to it, six months later as part of The Decade in Music: ’00s. NPR’s extraordinary instinct of going beyond the death and destruction of virtually all the major recording studios in New York City (Recording Studios Face an Uncertain Future) paid off by looking at the dynamics of low-rent Philadelphia (where commercial studios are also struggling), and discovering the diamond-in-the-rough story of an environment providing free recording services to a handful of deserving artists. But the reporting could have gone much further…

Continue reading “Weathervane Music points to a new future”

Week 100 (Upper ext. soffit finish, Annex to 9th course)

This week features two parallel story lines: the installation of half the upper soffit cypress soffit, and the raising of the Annex walls to the 9th course.  Here is a single photo that shows both achievements (plus more which are detailed below):annexoverviewcourse9.jpg
Continue reading “Week 100 (Upper ext. soffit finish, Annex to 9th course)”

The Jazz Loft Project

On December 3rd I attended the Jazz Loft Project book and website launch event at the West End Wine Bar in Durham, NC.  WUNC’s Frank Stasio, always on top of local goings on, clued me in.  It was packed, despite the venue being situated by LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY signs from all approaches.  Where else would Jazz fans congregate, if not in some well-hidden bar that’s so small you’d need three of them just to hold all the people who came to hear the music?

Needless to say I bought the book, got it signed, and have since met people who are on their third reading of the text.  I’m trying to save it for Christmas!

I look forward to the time when, perhaps 40 years from now, The Miraverse has become the definitive archive for a new collection of music representing a meaningful continuum of talent and community.