Cyrus on NPR – TOMORROW!

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my radio piece on increased Mac malware will air on Morning Edition tomorrow!

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams).

New York – 5 am to 9 am Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM – www.wnyc.org
Washington, DC – 5 am to 10 am Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM – www.wamu.org
Los Angeles – 2 am to 9 am Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 6 am to 9 am Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM – www.wgbh.org
San Francisco – 3 am to 9 am Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM – www.kqed.org

It will also be archived at npr.org and here if you miss it.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Update: Audio is here!

Taco trucks face strict regulation in Tulare Co.

Taco trucks are once again under threat, this time in Tulare County. This smells of the saga down in Salinas.

The Fresno Bee:

By Erik Lacayo / The Fresno Bee
12/08/07 22:21:02
TIPTON — Taco trucks across Tulare County could be driven out of business, some vendors fear, because of a proposed ordinance that would regulate where they can sell food.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on the new rules for mobile food vendors because county officials have received complaints about them for years, county spokesman Eric Coyne said.

Many complaints have come from restaurant owners, Coyne said, who worry that taco trucks are taking their customers while not having to pay the same fees and taxes.

Under the proposed regulations, the county’s estimated 320 mobile food vendors would be required to apply for business licenses, have restricted hours of operation, such as not being able to operate after 7 p.m., would only be allowed to sell food in one location for one hour at a time and must be at least 1,000 feet away from a restaurant.

Santa Monica High School Marching Band to perform in London on New Year’s Day 2009

More music tourism news, but this time, from my alma mater.

Santa Monica Daily Press:

The Santa Monica High School marching band will be marching over the Atlantic to London, England in 2009, ringing in the new year by performing in the city’s holiday parade.

The 130-member marching band and colorguard will head to perform in the New Year’s Day Parade in London, the entertainment unit’s first trip out of the country since the 1960s when it performed in Mazatlan.

Besides performing, the band will spend the eight-day trip seeing the sites in England.

With the opportunity to travel abroad and spend a week away from home, the number of band and colorguard members is expected to increase next year.

“Of course with that kind of excitement, it (will help) the recruiting,” said Terry Sakow, the director of bands at Samohi. “More kids will want to do marching band, so we might have a slightly bigger band next year.”

The trip is expected to heighten visibility for the 92-year-old high school’s marching band program, boosting recruitment, especially if the trips become a regular feature for the award-winning program.

“Obviously it adds to the reputation to play overseas,” Sakow said.

The parade’s organizing committee contacted the band director in September to extend an invitation to perform in the 22-year-old parade whose route travels along some of the city’s most famous sites, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Piccadilly Circus. The committee learned about Santa Monica High School’s marching band thanks to Gary Locke, the long-time band director at Riverside Community College that endorsed the Viking marching band.

Philharmonic Agrees to Play in North Korea

The New York Times:

The Philharmonic, led by its music director, Lorin Maazel, has been considering the visit since an invitation arrived by fax in August. It was a typed letter from the North Korean culture ministry, in English, accompanied by a cover letter from a private individual in California who said he was acting as an intermediary. The orchestra had the invitation authenticated by the State Department, which has provided advice and help in negotiating the terms of the visit. Mr. Hill said that he did not know how the invitation had come about. But its timing was significant, after a series of breakthroughs in a decade-long effort to have North Korea halt its nuclear program.

In February North Korea agreed to shut down its main reactor in exchange for economic aid and other inducements. The reactor was switched off in July, a month before the invitation. And in September the Bush administration said that North Korea had agreed to disable its main nuclear fuel plant and give an accounting of its nuclear facilities, fuel and weapons by the end of the year. Progress toward the Philharmonic’s visit accelerated when orchestra executives and a State Department official visited Pyongyang in October.

The final major logistical pieces of the concert fell into place late last week, after a visit to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, by Zarin Mehta, the orchestra’s president. The Philharmonic’s spokesman, Eric Latzky, confirmed that the trip was on, but he declined to discuss details publicly until a news conference at Avery Fisher Hall tomorrow, when it is to be formally announced.

Mr. Hill, who was in Pyongyang last week delivering Mr. Bush’s letter and inspecting nuclear facilities, said he planned to attend the news conference. He has spoken privately to the orchestra members. Even more surprising, the Philharmonic said that Pak Kil-yon, North Korea’s representative to the United Nations, would also attend, a rare public appearance by a North Korean diplomat. Mr. Hill said he believed that the conditions sought by the Philharmonic had been met. They included the presence of foreign journalists; a nationwide broadcast to ensure that not just a small elite would hear the concert; acoustical adjustments to the East Pyongyang Grand Theater; an assurance that the eight Philharmonic members of Korean origin would not encounter difficulties; and that the orchestra could play “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

On Percy Grainger

The first piece that I ever heard by Percy Grainger was “Molly on the Shore“. Its tick-tock opening of the lower clarinet and bassoon voices provide an amazing support for the rapid-fire but flowing melody for the first clarinets that remains as captivating now as it was the first time I heard it. That melody became one of the few phrases that I can easily play on my own clarinet with joy and ease.

I was a freshman in high school then, but I had a chance to play that piece with many extremely fine musicians, at least two of whom have since gone on to play professionally. I’m sure that some combination of being part of a wind ensemble with some of the finest musicians I have ever played with made this music resonate with me in a way that has stuck with me my entire life.

As I continued to play in high school, I found myself delighted each time our band director, Terry Sakow — himself a big Grainger fan — brought out yet another composition by the Australian composer.

Nearly each one came with some little bit of trivia that made this funny-haired early 20th century composer that much more interesting, beyond the fact that he was the only composer I had ever seen who took seriously the symphonic elements of a concert band.

As he puts it in the conductor’s notes to Lincolnshire Posy:

“Why this cold-shouldering of the wind band by most composers? Is the wind band, with its varied assortments of reeds, so much richer than the reeds of the symphony orchestra, its complete saxophone family that is found nowhere else (to my ears the saxophone is the most expressive of all wind instruments – the o­ne closest to the human voice. And surely all musical instruments should be rated according to their tonal closeness to man’s own voice!), its army of brass, both wide-bore and narrow-bore, – not the equal of any medium ever conceived? As a vehicle of deeply emotional expression it seems to me unrivalled.”

Another thing about Grainger, he disdained the pretensiousness of musical instructions in Italian, which have been common for centuries and continue to this day. Instead of “poco a poco crescendo molto,” for example, he would write “louden lots bit by bit.” Cute.

Probably my favorite thing about Grainger was that not only did he try to alter music behind the scenes, on at least one occasion he gave the finger to his listening public.

In 1918, Grainger — who by this point was an accomplished pianist — wrote a short two minute piano piece based on an English folk song. It was called “Country Gardens.” For those who haven’t heard it, it’s a simple light-hearted jaunt that evokes skipping along a country road. When Grainger first debuted it that same year, the audience loved it. The tune apparently became a bestseller.

However, as Mr. Sakow tells it, Grainger came to dispise the piece as more and more people fell in love with it. He was eventually commissioned to compose another version of the piece for concert band. Upon doing so, he added various points in the music where the musical phrase doesn’t resolve properly, making it sound as if the entire band is playing a wrong note. Brilliant!

In the summer of 2002, I found myself living in Melbourne for two months — which meant it was winter in that part of the world. A friend indulged my Grainger fandom and arranged for me to visit the house in Brighton that he was born in. I actually stood in the room that Percy was born in. (There’s a regular family living there now, but there is a plaque outside.)

Later on during my stay, I got a rare opportunity to attend a concert of the Grainger Wind Symphony. During the intermission, a man brought out a player piano complete with early 20th century piano rolls — a few of us gathered round and listened to Grainger himself, playing Grainger.

I was so taken by the idea of listening to a recording of one of my favorite composers that I ended up speaking to the man who was taking care of those piano rolls. He arranged for me to get CD copies of those rolls.

The other day, I dug up these recordings, and copied them to my computer. I spent most of the day listening to them while doing some writing. They’re really quite good. The sound is clean and crisp. The dynamics are palatable. And they were recorded over eighty years ago on pieces of punched paper — and now I play them, in digitally reduced form.

Perhaps when I’m in nearby Connecticut later this month, I’ll make a pilgrimage to his house in White Plains: “To get to the Grainger House by train, take the Metro-North railroad from Grand Central Terminal in New York to the White Plains station; take a cab to the Grainger House. Or, if you want to emulate Percy himself, take a brisk walk; it’s about a mile.”

Or, I might just “slow off lots.”

Hossein’s libel case

Hossein asked me to blog about his libel case. I don’t have much to say about it, other than what Ethan Zuckerman has already said:

I’m not in a position to argue the veracity of many of the criticisms of Derakhshan by Iranian bloggers – I don’t read Persian, and I don’t have all the facts. And I will happily admit that Derakhshan can be abrasive and difficult, and that I disagree with much of what he’s currently been writing about on his English blog. But that’s not a reason to ignore the legal harrassment he’s facing from Khalaji. One of the major functions of blogs, for better or for worse, is to allow people to express their opinions – positive and negative – about the people and institutions. This function is deeply undermined if it becomes common practice to seek sympathetic venues to launch libel suits when people are offended by how they’re characterized online. (Derakhshan was residing in Europe when the posts in question were posted; his webhost was in the US. It’s possible that the suit is being brought in Canada, where Derakshan previously resided, because it’s a venue more sympathetic to libel claims than the US.)

A few years ago, Derakhshan was widely considered a pioneer for free speech in Iran. While that may not be the best way to describe his current work, it would be a huge loss for free speech online if the suit by Khalaji goes through or if the costs of defending that suit drives Derakhshan offline. Derakhshan may have changed in the past five years, but the issues at stake in this case don’t ever change – freedom of speech applies even to speech we find offensive, and it’s important to defend all speech that’s under threat.

For the record, unlike Zuckerman, I do read Persian, albeit very very slowly. I’m by no means fluent in the language (although I hope that changes one day), so I haven’t been able to follow the play-by-play of this saga.

Cyrus on NPR – TOMORROW!

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my radio piece on in-flight WiFi will air on Morning Edition tomorrow!

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams).

New York – 5 am to 9 am Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM – www.wnyc.org
Washington, DC – 5 am to 10 am Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM – www.wamu.org
Los Angeles – 2 am to 9 am Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 6 am to 9 am Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM – www.wgbh.org
San Francisco – 3 am to 9 am Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM – www.kqed.org

It will also be archived at npr.org and here if you miss it.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Update: Audio is here.