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February 18, 2008

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You wouldn't guess it from the somber background, but today was the sun sun sunniest and warm warm warmiest day of the year thus far. And like every Monday, I had it off, which gave me time to bask and picnic with out-of-towners Franklin Lopez (new acquaintance) and Anne Elizabeth Moore (former housemate), who after presenting their work at the Rendezvous last night slept on our futon and couch, respectively.      I wasn't the only one with the day off, for it was Washington's Birthday, a national holiday commonly misnomed "Presidents' Day." The fact that the holiday has been re-branded and re-purposed by re-tailers might have made it an appropriate example for use in Anne's new, concisely titled book Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity which explores how local DIY, punk, and hip-hop subcultures are being co-opted to sell corporate product.      Perhaps most significantly, it cites many examples of corporations brazenly breaking the law by deploying their logos and slogans via stickering, stenciling, and graffiti. They do so with impunity because the fines when caught--and they have been caught--are scaled to punish individuals, not multimillion-dollar corporations. The suits have discovered vandalism as a new cost effective marketing tool.      I think this marks the first time that companies have dropped any pretense of being law-abiding "members of the community" by engaging in blatantly illegal activities for which they feel no need to offer justification or apology (however specious such excuses might ultimately be). It's part of the culture of unaccountability that drives the grinding machine's death spiral, forward, forward at any cost in an ever-tightening circle. Well, it was a nice day anyway. The evening took us to a house on a perch in Beacon Hill where media activists gathered for a celebratory potluck supper. It was nice to be in a room full of intensely engaged people. It was like being back in New York.     Now, as for the background picture... It was taken from Gasworks Hill in broad daylight, color reversed and otherwise manipulated to create a simple positive/negative optical illusion. Scroll down to better make sense of it....