John Cage is No. 1, Alvin Dexter is taking photos and Gina Violina needs your support
Four minutes and 33 seconds worth of column Did you know that Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” was Britain’s No. 1 Christmas single last year? It’s true. In an effort to keep the winner from Britain’s X-Factor (the Simon Cowell-created singing-competition show that replaced Pop Idol) from walking away with the top spot for the fifth year in a row, a Facebook-organized viral marketing campaign successfully prodded half a million people to download the rap-rock band’s 1992 single that memorably repeats the line: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” (Rage donated the money from the sales to the same homeless charity that the stunt’s organizers raised money for.)
It was a beautiful example of grassroots anarchy, one that just might be trumped this holiday season. Another Facebook campaign—Cage Against the Machine (www.facebook.com/cageagainstthemachine)—is similarly attempting to raise money for charity as well as thwart X-Factor’s return to the top by releasing a recording (feat. British artists Billy Bragg, Imogeen Heap, The Kooks and more) of experimental composer John Cage’s “4' 33"” on Dec. 13, one day after the show’s finale. Cage’s notorious piece, of course, features performers not playing their instruments for the four minutes and 33 seconds of the “song” (in three movements), so the only thing audible on the recording will likely be some fidgeting and breathing in the background (and some petulant sighs steaming out of Cowell’s face in the distance).
Also, as an offshoot of the CATM effort, the Global Silent Orchestra will be hosting a worldwide simultaneous performance of “4' 33"” on Sunday, Dec. 12. Play along from home (with the live conductor at www.ustream.tv/channel/john-cage-4-33) starting at 1 p.m. PST.
I like mail Oroville painter Alvin Dexter dropped off a note a couple weeks ago with a CD attached filled with some photos he’s been taking on the 12 acres where his wife and he live above Palermo. He writes: “We are treated to a new wildlife experience every time we go out the front door. … How sweet is it that most of the artistic inspiration is in our own back yard?” It’s very sweet, like your awesome black widow pic. Thanks for the note, Alvin.
Artist in need Gina Violina, violinist and puppeteer in local gypsy jazz/puppeteering duo Hibbity Skibbity, is battling cancer, and her bandmate Matt Selznick has started a fundraising website (weloveginaviolina.com) to help her get back on her feet. The initial two-week drive raised more than $2,000 to help with her bills, and a new campaign is under way at the site as of this week, so visit today and give what you can.
• Duffy’s will rock: The Yule Logs will be joined this year for their traditional, sweaty, nog-rock fest at Duffy’s Tavern with S.F.’s Uni and Her Ukelele tonight, Dec. 9, at 9:30 p.m.
• Cool shows in weird places: The Blue Room Theatre hosts live rock Saturday, Dec. 11, 8 p.m., with Arcata’s Strix Vega, plus local hip crews La Fin du Monde, The Shimmies and Steve French. And everyone’s favorite warehouse art/show space Ol’ HawkEyes Art Shackle reopens Friday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m., in its new home at 2145 Park Ave., with performances by Aberrance, Mom and Dad, Chingado and more.
• Slam dunk: It takes a special kind of masochist to be a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers, but the lowly franchise’s rookie manchild power forward Blake Griffin gives Billy Crystal and Frankie Muniz a reason to show up to the arena. Do a YouTube search for Griffin and enjoy some of the most brutal/athletic in-game dunks ever.