Sunday, October 30, 2005

Monarchist blog has prestige design

Monarchist blog has prestige design

My first quick impression of The Monarchist blog was of overwhelming prestige, credibility, professionalism, focus, and sincerity. But this is all based on a cursory, rapid scan at the colors, design, and topic headings.

I have not travelled down many links here, but my point is this: blog design matters.

Your blog or web site should appear congruent with your purpose, audience, and overall credibility that you wish to convey.

Each type of audience and objective has its own set of user expectations. An appropriate design will make a favorable impression on visitors to your site.

Credibility studies indicate that most users determine within a few seconds if a blog or web site looks "right". If the site has an amateur, sleazy, or childish look, users will depart and never return. Too many ads is also repulsive to users, especially if they're placed at the top of your blog.

Content may be king, but design is queen. Your potential readers will turn swiftly into Never To Returns, if your colors and design are annoying, amateur, or just ugly.

Bleak, sterile, bland looking blogs don't cut it anymore.

Spend a little time learning some HTML, some CSS, and some web design principles for readability, usability, and beauty.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Forbes stupidly attacks blogosphere

Forbes stupidly attacks blogosphere

[NOTE: This is an exact replica of a post I just published at Vaspers the Grate today. Reprinted here due to the enormity of its importance.]

Friends, I have to go attend a family emergency right now.

But I just got an alert from Google in my Gmail inbox, an alert that we all need to pay attention to.

WebProNews, Micropersuasion, BL Ochman, and others are responding to this, bless them. (Attack of the Blogs art image found at WebProNews.)

Look at just a small excerpt of this ridiculous article in the distinguished tradition of Psycho-Capitalist, Totalitarian Thought Control, Anti-Democracy, Mammonist, Money-Worship, Consumer Fraud belief system, appearing in Forbes.

Attack of the Blogs


Blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries.

[STREIGHT/VASPERS: bullshit #1. Blogs began as geeks listed links to technical information and software offerings, not as pesonal journals. Screwed up journalism strikes again in ignorance.]

Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns.

[STREIGHT/VASPERS: Typical brain dead MSM accusation. Rather than "they can be", Forbes says "they ARE..." Irresponsible journalism, incompetent liars. The blogosphere is successfully annihilating the MSM, and its rotting corpse is now twitching and vomiting hate all over the place.]

It's not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can't even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory.

[STREIGHT/VASPERS: Ha ha ha. Take that, Morbid Stream Media twerps!]

Microsoft has been hammered by bloggers; so have CBS, CNN and ABC News, two research boutiques that criticized IBM's Notes software, the maker of Kryptonite bike locks, a Virginia congressman outed as a homosexual and dozens of other victims--even a right-wing blogger who dared defend a blog-mob scapegoat.

"Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek, a Cincinnati firm that sifts through millions of blogs to provide watch-your-back service to 75 clients, including Procter & Gamble and Ford. "The potential for brand damage is really high,"says Frank Shaw, executive vice president at Microsoft's main public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom. "There is bad information out there in the blog space, and you have only hours to get ahead of it and cut it off, especially if it's juicy."

Some companies now use blogs as a weapon, unleashing swarms of critics on their rivals.

[STREIGHT/VASPER: Freedom of expression declared to be "a weapon". Right. It is. I said recently that the blogosphere is a weapon--learn how to use it. Now Forbes rightly agrees, but in a whining manner.]

"I'd say 50% to 60% of attacks are sponsored by competitors," says Bruce Fischman, a lawyer in Miami for targets of online abuse. He says he represents a high-tech firm thrashed by blogs that were secretly funded by a rival; the parties are in talks to settle out of court.

One blog, Groklaw, exists primarily to bash software maker SCOGroup in its Linux patent lawsuit against IBM, producing laughably biased, pro-IBMcoverage; its origins are a mystery (see box, p. 136).

The online haters have formidable allies amplifying their tirades to a potential worldwide audience of 900 million: Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, plus a raft of other blog hosts.

Google is the largest player; its site attracts 15 million visitors a month, more than each of the Web sites of the New York Times, USAToday and the Washington Post. An upstart, Six Apart in SanFrancisco, owns three blogging services--TypePad, LiveJournal and Movable Type--that together run a strong second to Google.


This is just an excerpt. Read the whole article at Forbes. Laugh and howl at their idiotic whining and fear.

Bloggers: they will respect us, or feel our WRATH.

Viva Le Blogs!

[signed] Vaspers the Grate aka Steven Streight


Friday, October 28, 2005

Newsboys Our Daily Blog book

Newsboys Our Daily Blog book

It looks like the word "blog" is starting to enter the language of the people finally. In fact, it's being used as a synonym for "journal", "writing", or "text", judging by a new book by the Newsboys.

The Newsboys, a highly successful Christian music band, has just released a new book called "Our Daily Blog" (Inspirio, Zondervan, 2005).

The title is probably a variation of "Our Daily Bread", which is a popular devotional publication.

The book is actually a collection of daily devotions by their pastor, Jim Laffoon, with "reflections" by individual band members.

I thought this was noteworthy, and I may be the first blogger to notice and post about it. Not "astonishing" of course, just interesting.

Be prepared to see the word "blog" begin to lose it's original meaning, and take on various nuances.

"I'm feeling kinda bloggy today."

"I'm all blogged out."

"What the blog are you doing with that hammer?"

"That stupid blogging idiot!"

"Oh, go blog about it and leave me alone. I'm tired of hearing you rant and rave."


But this book may get music lovers interested in blogs, since the Newsboys are a very influential and popular band in the financially profitable Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) scene.

It's nice seeing the word "blog" really big on a book.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Picking up the pace and the pieces

Picking up the pace and the pieces

Sorry about my sluggish posting here at the notorious Blog Core Values.

I have a new job, a family member in the hospital, a new house, new music studio, new electronic music composition, recording, and distribution projects, and a broken scapula.

I will be picking up the pace, posting more frequently here, as I also pick up the pieces of my shattered and reformulating life.

Watch for some astonishing posts here, coming soon.

[signed] Steven aka vaspers the grate

Friday, October 21, 2005

This blog has vanished again

Why can't I see my blogs?

[NOTE: This is an exact replica of "Why can't I see my blogs?" post at Vaspers the Grate.]

Two of them are invisible to me right now:

(1) Vaspers the Grate

(2) Blog Core Values

{EDIT UPDATE: After publishing this post, my Vaspers blog appeared in my browser. Still, please read on, and contact me if you have any answers or suggestions. Or a similar experience.}

Why just these two blogs? When I click-select the link in my Bookmarks, or from any other starting point, nothing appears in the browser window. A blank.

I was able to go to the Blogger site and enter my template. Everything seems to still exist. If anyone can read this to verify my next remark: I can publish posts to it.

You can help me by posting a comment to let me know if you can see VTG and BCV blogs in your browser.

Even though I cannot see these two blogs, I will receive Gmail notification whenever anyone posts a comment on any of my blogs. See how this little feature is beneficial in yet another way?

This really bugs me.'s also uncanny, ironic, and coincidentally crazy.

Two nights ago, at a client web development meeting, I had mentioned the fact that many web sites are blank when I arrive at them. An empty screen in the browser window. The address bar indicates that I am indeed at the URL, but I see nothing.

Now it's two of my own sites that do this. This is creepy and frustrating.

I asked why this happens. No one had any idea, except the possibility that the web site was deleted and the URL somehow pointed to the void where the content of the site resided. I'm a bit confused about these online mirages, ghost towns, and spectres.

Art Test Explosion and Stinky Ugly Toys seem okay. They appear in my Firefox browser whenever I visit the URL.

You could tell me to research the topic online. Okay. That's what I usually do when faced with a dilemma. However, I'm not even sure what keywords or phrases to type into the Google search engine.

What type of error is this?

What's broken? Network? Browser? Template? Blogger web site? My eyes? My very sanity itself?

Post a comment or email me if you have a clue.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


(This ad, displaying jovial blindfolded motorcycle driving, an image culled from the Dvorak Uncensored blog, seems appropriate to post again.

Is she removing the blindfold...or tying it tighter? Is she removing the blindfold to see what it is her man has bought for her? Can't she perceive that the gift is a motorcycle and not a box of candy? I mean, she's ON it, for crying out loud.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blogging and Percy Bysshe Shelley



Percy Bysshe Shelley


Blogging is Liberty
Expressed in Writing

A blog core value is Creativity.

Ask any artist, poet, sculptor, painter, musician.

To Create, one must be Free.

Art and music and literature and the plastic forms are All About Freedom, creative explorations, unbridled imagination.

"How did she ever come up with that painting, song, filmscript, dress design, recipe?" we wonder.

The answer: she was free to let her mind roam. It may have even been habitual, a continuous feed of creative thought and artistic inspiration.

Please keep that fact in mind as you blog or post comments on other blogs. You contribute to human emancipation every time you read, recommend, email the author of, or publish a post or comment at, a blog.

Not that all blogs are worthwhile, relevant, truthful, accurate, or without bias. But as a good family culture helps a nation be great, so a good blogging culture helps the blogosphere and the plight of humanity, most of which are still in shackles of some type, metal or meNtal.

Every time you freely express yourself, your ideas, your dreams, your complaints, your criticism of government, family, society, institutions... are acting in liberty.

Some of my readers may live in countries where they must be careful about what they say, write, and publish in any form. We bloggers are fighting for your total freedom. Some day it will be.

Even if you cannot fully express all your thoughts, you can still think independently and keep your thoughts to yourself. Or veil them in poetic, symbolic, clever code language.

I know a woman whose daughter has traveled with missionaries in some repressive countries. The daughter, when in these dictatorial regimes, uses secret language in emails to her mom.

I won't give you any examples, but they are very clever. I don't want the tyrannical authorities to have an inkling of what these poetic code words are, but I'll just make up some of my own as an example from fantasy, rather than reality.

"Your color is being poured out of the paint cans." might mean your presence is missed and we love you very much.

"The sky is bright with moon rays" might mean we received your message last night and it cheered us considerable.

I happened to re-discover some old books that I bought, then tossed into a closet, bookshelf, or box.

One of those books is SHELLEY: POETICAL WORKS, Oxford University Press, 1970. Edited by Thomas Hutchinson: a new edition corrected by G.M. Matthews.

Here is one of the poems, found on page 622. Notice how Shelley compares "liberty" with "lightning flashing, and being transmitted from person to person, city to hamlet, nation to nation.

The free nations, massively far from even a vague semblance of integrity, are nonetheless, miraculously, somehow transmitting Liberty, from nation to nation.

Blogs are helping Liberty to flow and grow.

Blogging and Percy Bysshe Shelley

I like to read the following poem as a symbolic description of blogging and the immense, overwhelming Power of Independent Thought, Religious Freedom, and Eccentricity.

This poem is worth memorizing to impress your friends with.

"From a single blog, the posting flashes, illuminating all the world to see."


Percy Bysshe Shelley
(Posthumous Poems, 1824)


The fiery mountains answer each other;
Their thunderings are echoed from zone to zone;
The tempestuous oceans awake one another,
And the ice-rocks are shaken round Winter's throne,
When the clarion of the Typhoon is blown.


From a single cloud the lightning flashes,
Whilst a thousand isles are illumined around,
Earthquake is trampling one city to ashes,
An hundred are shuddering and tottering; the sound
Is bellowing underground.


But keener thy gaze than the lightning's glare,
And swifter thy step than the earthquake's tramp;
Thou deafenest the rage of the ocean; thy stare
Makes blind the volcanoes; the sun's bright lamp
To thine is a fen-fire damp.


From billow and mountain and exhalation
The sunlight is darted through vapour and blast;
From spirit to spirit, from nation to nation,
From city to hamlet thy dawning is cast, --
And tyrants and slaves are like shadows of night
In the van of the morning light.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Blog History or Hall of Fame?

Blog History or Hall of Fame?

...which do you think we need more?

What would be more useful, or more interesting to you?

(1) what the authors of various types of successful, high traffic blogs (political, personal, business, marketing, science, religion, art, etc.) think are the best bloggers.


(2) a comprehensive history of blogs, from Tim Berners-Lee's "What's New" page, through Evan Williams/Blogger, up to the current scene.

Would you like to see both a hall of fame that honored important innovators AND an authoritative history of blogging?

I refer to the history of blogs that is at Meatball Wiki as a good chronology from 1992 up to 2003/Evan Williams/Blogger. Now we need a continuation to bring it up to date.

Steve Rubel, back in the summer of 2004, posed the question of a Blogger Hall of Fame. The comments he received on his post at his blog, Micro Persuasion, were not very complimentary. I got the feeling that there is a backlash going on against the hegemony of so-called "A-list" bloggers.

Many people seem to feel that there's an elite circle of bloggers who huddle together and try to defend their turf against newcomers. I don't really see this happening, but there is always a danger of it. Perhaps there is a "clinking" problem.

"Clinking" = clique linking, linking to and promoting only certain blogs that do the same for you.

New bloggers sometimes complain that nobody visits or comments at their blogs. "Why do the big blogs get all the traffic?" they ask.

"Because they have good content, entertaining formats, valuable information, engaging style of writing, unique perspectives, and correct netiquette" is a partial answer to this question.

Also, top bloggers tend to post comments at other blogs and to promote other blogs by writing posts about them and linking to them.

Do something remarkable for a long time, and the top bloggers will probably notice you, and blog readers may spread word of mouth about how great your blog is. Be sure to post as frequently as you can, at least once or twice a week.

I admire Steve Rubel, and I follow his lead on many aspects of blogging. If Steve Rubel is doing something on his blog, it's a good idea to figure out why.

For example, I was using Bloglet email subscriptions for my blog updates, because Steve Rubel was doing it. Now he has switched to another service, FeedBlitz, which I will check out.

I don't believe in mindless imitation, but I do believe in mentors and role models to learn from and be guided by. I hope a few people see my blogs as reliable guides to blogging practices.

Here's the interesting post that Steve Rubel published.


Why We Need a Blogger Hall of Fame

Blogging is growing. And let's face facts. As a result there are some webloggers who have been at it a long time and are truly outstanding.

They write better than the rest of us. They break the news. They define what blogging is and then smash the rules. These bloggers deserve special recognition. They have graduated from the ranks and are superstars. They're Hall of Famers.

So who are these folks?

Ask 100 people and you'll get 100 different answers. We need to institutionalize a way to publicly recognize the cream of the blogging crop.

We need a Blogger Hall of Fame to help us define the Joe Dimaggios and Ty Cobbs of the blogging world, just as the Baseball Hall of Fame has defined the true greats of America’s Pastime.

I propose that professional journalists who cover media/technology are in the best position to nominate/elect members to the Blogging Hall of Fame, just as they do in the sports world. If enough bloggers and others feel this is a worthwhile idea, I would like to recruit some volunteers to help me draft this.

Specifically we need…

* A Blogger Hall of Fame weblog

* A wiki where the community can discuss/determine the specific criteria required to become a member of the Blogging Hall of Fame

* A committee of respected folks who will over see the Hall of Fame and help shape its direction

Any volunteers? Any suggestions?


Does this sound self-serving?

Is it really necessary?

How would it benefit others...or is it just a way to honor "superstar" bloggers?

Is the Core Value of the Blogosphere opposed to such a "Hall of Fame"?

Blogs represent, to a large degree, a "level playing field" where every voice is theoretically equal.

Yet there are qualitative differences in blogs, in terms of ethics, personality, aesthetics, posting frequency, linking policy, comments enabling, practical value, scholarship, and professionalism.

Now, what do YOU think about all of this?

Post a comment or email me. Thanks.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Everything Struggles for Survival

Everything Struggles
for Survival

[NOTE: This is an exact replica of a post that was published at Vaspers the Grate. In case you BCV readers missed it, I'm re-publishing it here.]

I've been very busy working on some audio projects, and gearing up for a website User Observation Test for a client.

Let me at least toss these gems at you, from the book:

Conversations With Iannis Xenakis
Balint Adras Varga (Faber & Faber, 1996)

Xenakis is one of my favorite music composers of all time. He listened to the patterns of raindrops hitting a tin roof, and called the seemingly random, yet structured patterns, "stochastic". There's a lot of math involved in his theories, but that's the basic idea.

He was an electronic music pioneer, in the "classical music" tradition, but he also used melodic systems from ancient Greece. In his final days, he was using computers to create music, while many of his colleagues merely experimented briefly with computers and synthesizers.

Here are two Xenakis quotes from this book of interviews:


* "Composition, action, are nothing but a struggle for existence. To Be. However, if I imitate the past, I do nothing, and consequently am not. In other words, I am sure I exist only if I do something different. The difference is the proof of existence, of knowledge, of participation in the affairs of the world. I'm convinced of that."

* "My greatest achievement would be to compose something which could include any form of expression...It has the precondition that I free myself of any ties or conditioning that prevent me from being free."


How true this is: everything, all compositions, all products, blogs, web sites, technologies, religions, political parties, ideologies, poems, songs, paintings--are struggling to survive and endure.

I lost all my solo music I had recorded on cassette tapes. But my friend Bennett Theissen, lead singer and songwriter in our old band, managed to preserve most of our Camouflage Danse music, and he transferred it to CD. He also transferred our music videos and live performances to DVD.

You must preserve your work and also promote it, for it to survive and endure for future generations.

Everything is struggling to survive.

Your blog, web site, food recipes, poems, marriage, family, reputation, spirituality, rationality, business ideas, whatever--they all can be destroyed, taken from you, lost. They all can perish and be forgotten forever, if you don't devote time, money, and effort to them.

I personally believe that the universe itself is a vast recording device. Eastern mystics refer to the "akashic records" or something like that. I just have an intuitive feeling that this has some truth in it.

When you write a poem, create a blog, marry a person, start a business, whatever you do, is somehow inscribed into reality as a fact.

But we also need to preserve things through our own effort. A failed marriage, an abandoned blog, a lost opportunity--these also are inscribed into reality as facts.

Survival. An interesting way to look at inanimate and conceptual entities. The fight for survival amongst ideas, beliefs, art, science, etc.

What are you doing to ensure the survival of what is important to you?

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


Monday, October 10, 2005

creative music band names

music band

give us bloggers a hefty amount of inspiration, and it sadly seems that some music band names sound better than the band themselves.

Be that as it may, let's look at some creative, imaginative names that musicians have decided to call themselves. Remember, these are actual names of actual groups.

* Sicilian Vespers

* Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee

* Electronic Music Composer

* Dead Meadow

* The Fiery Furnaces

* Sex Pistols

* Celibate Rifles

* Vulgar Boatmen

* The The

* The High

* Desperate Bicycles

* Nervous Eaters

* when people were shorter and lived by the river

* Young Marble Giants

* Tuxedo Moon

* Mouse on Mars

* I Don't Care

* Champion Birdwatchers

* August Moons

* Dead Artist Syndrome

* Cabaret Voltaire

* Chemicals Made from Dirt

* Neutral Milk Hotel

* The Sixths

* My Dad is Dead

* Dead Horse

* Gong

* Caroliner

* Lt. Caramel

* Sleep Chamber

* TV Personalities

* Felt

* The Adverts

* The Only Ones

* The Nobodies

* The Plasmatics

* Bubble Puppy

* Balloon Farm

* Fever Tree

* Mad River

* Electric Prunes

* Virgin Prunes

* Tape Beatles

Now, whew, what weird music band names do you know of?

Post a comment to add your favorite strange band names to this list.

Thanks for your input.

[signed] Steven Streight also known as Vaspers the Grate

8 is 9 shy 1


Sunday, October 09, 2005

blogging Antarctica

(blue auroras and Discovery Hut)

blogging Antarctica

In my quest to be The Favorite Web Usability Analyst of Antarctica, I came across the bloggings of some explorers at TravelBlog Antarctica.

(nacreous clouds)

Antarctica is the most romantic and alien spot on this planet, to my mind. I wish to someday be an ArctoNaut. Arctoecology and arctometeorology are of great interest to me, as well as arctopsychology.

(a lady arcto-naut)

The Antarctic snowscapes look like they're from a weird location in some other galaxy. The idea of being very cold all the time, and encountering snow and ice storms, all bundled up, gazing on spectacular light shows in the sky.

A bleak white eternity.

I love extreme winters.

I love walking like an arctonaut through desolate snow channels and frost tunnels, simply clambering up onto ice bridges to the moonish dream realms in the sky up above me.

(storm condition 1)

My favorite scene. Desolate, Diminished, Diminutive, and Receptive to Pure Light.

Here's an opening excerpt from a post called "A Fond Farewell to Winter" by explorer_keith, dated September 7, 2005. How often do you think of those who are at the very bottom of the world?


Like a barbarian horde invading from the north, Winfly has descended on McMurdo Station.

In total, four planes arrived and departed leaving in their wake waves of energetic invaders who made short work of ransacking our small, peaceful, winter-over community.

The tan intruders pulled a shroud of fresh fruit and sunshine over our eyes to blind us from the destruction to our way of life that was going on all around us.

They brought with them new and improved bugs that shocked our immune systems and set in motion a plague of sickness that has not been present here for nearly six months - The Crud, which is what residents of McMurdo affectionately call this sickness, has returned!

The sacking of McMurdo took about a week and, of the 241 winter over crew, less than 100 of us survived the onslaught - The rest of them managed to escape the mêlée on the northbound planes and are now enjoying their freedom in the warmer regions of the world.

The population on station is now about 441 people. The swing in population is most noticeable in the galley during meals, where the noise level has gone through the roof and the food lines wrap around the Earth -

Now, the once barren tables are filled to capacity at dinner time. The formerly quiet Coffee House, which was my hangout and reading place during the winter, has been transformed into a standing room only club with a rowdy atmosphere - Gone are the quite evenings at the coffee house relaxing with a cup of tea and reading a good book.

Also, the already overbearing rules are now being enforced with an iron fist - Saturday night we were denied permission to hike the Castle Rock Loop and we were told that it was because of a condition-2 wind-chill, but there was only a slight breeze and it was, in fact, nicer than any of the other six times we did the loop over the winter.

I have now come to grips with the fact that winter is gone and I suppose it is nice having new people to talk to and the new activity around station is energizing.

Despite the gloomy picture I painted above, there has been a lot of fun and excitement here since I last wrote. We had a day with -112° F wind-chills and we were allowed to play in it! The station was at condition-1, but, unlike condition-1s due to wind speed or visibility, we were still allowed to move around the town as long as we covered all exposed skin.

The End of Winter party and barbeque at Scott Base was great.

We got to rope up with the SAR (Search and Rescue) team and take a walk through a crevasse field.

We had the end of winter award ceremony. There have been several aurora sightings and a few more nacreous clouds in the sky. I have eaten some excellent salads and lots of fresh fruit, and I have seen the sun! The giant fireball in the sky has returned to us after a five-month absence and it was difficult not to stare at it!


Antarctica is a metaphor, an inner island of languishings.

(polar plunge hole with only her shoes on)

I can't wait to go exploring there, with other bold, cold adventurers and scientists. I bet a cup of hot Joe and a funny stick would be great at night.

It's exciting just to shiveringly contemplate it beneath my layers of blankets.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

Friday, October 07, 2005

Blogs Creativity ESP-Disk

Blogs. Creativity. ESP-Disk.

Blog core value #6 is "Creativity".

An effective blogging consists of using your imagination, exhibiting your unique personal flair and sense of style, in your blog's content and design.

How creative is your blog?

Are you creative?

Most people are, if they try and practice and learn.

"Creativity" DEFINED

Creativity is mostly just well orchestrated Change:

turning things

* inside out

*upside down

* larger to gigantic

* reduce to tiny

* to stripped minimalism or complex embellishment

* other, better, nicer, easier, faster, safer, cheaper, richer. Sleeker. Bulkier. Faster and brighter. Easier and stronger. More organized. Sharper focus.

Creativity is also mixing, listing, or sequencing things in a new and improved order.

Or juxtaposing two unexpected things, for shock effect or to illustrate a complex idea.

Applied Creativity, the finished product, should ideally be beneficial to users, easy to interact with, and ultimately satisfying, stimulating, inspiring both praise and progress.

My favorite art is whatever is benevolent and astonishing.


When I was very young, I discovered ESP-Disk records.

This obscure little New York label had a catalog me and my friend Bennett Theissen carried around with us like some people carry around Proust, Joyce, or Dickens.

We ordered a large number of ESP-Disk records through their catalog or asked another friend, who worked at Byerly Music downtown, to order them through the store.

To us, it was as if the recordings were from Mars or Alpha Centauri.

Every ESP-Disk recording we were able to obtain contained highly unusual, extremely experimental music that fit right in with the other music we were listening to: Leonard Cohen, Silver Apples, The Incredible String Band, Dick Hyman (moog), Wild Man Fischer, Captain Beefheart, Moondog, 50 Foot Hose, Mad River, Morton Subotnick, and Everything is Everything.

It was exciting, underground music was ringing triumphantly in our ears, and the whole private experience was a distant, exotic, esoteric artistic world.

It transmitted an extraordinary feeling that hooked you through the sounds of the records and through the album cover artwork.

A web site devoted to preserving the historical significance of ESP-Disk gives the following description of a creative music album concept...


LP, 1974, 290 West End address. This LP comes in a plain solid black sleeve (kinda like spinal tap) and it comes with stickers inside so you can design the cover yourself.

It comes with a yellow arrow sticker that says the album title on it. A red and a green center LP label (vinyl labels come blank too) and an orange sticker with all the album info on it. This was later re-issued as "Godz Bless California".


I notice how this band was letting the fans interact with the recorded album packaging, enabling them to choose elements and make their own distinct version of the musical project. The users, listeners, customers could impose their own creativity upon the product. The band empowered their fans and honored them, even if it may seem trivial. It was unique.

Another landmark album cover innovation was seen in an LP by the punk band the Violators: the album featured large squares of sandpaper glued to both sides of the cover. When you slid it in and out of your record collection, this album would scratch and destroy the other albums it rubbed against.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate