music, technology & life in pasadena, california

Short Takes

William Bright, a designer living in NYC, opened a website that offered iPod users downloadable subway maps for several cities, but because he accepts donations on his site, certain of those cities objected. Cities don’t sell their subway maps and most are paid for via taxpayer dollars, so what’s the problem? Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC all decided to give permission but NYC was the holdout, asking $450 for an annual license. That sounded ridiculous to William, so he designed his own version of the NYC map. He was also slapped with a cease-and-desist from Apple who complained about the use of the word iPod in the site’s name and domain name. I Googled and found a lot of sites that use the word iPod in their name and domain. Did Apple come down on them, too? Don’t they realize that Bright is expanding the value and use of the device? Anyway, if you’re tired of all the petty copyright wars, head on over to and check out the 23 cities available.

This past weekend I saw "Good Night and Good Luck", the latest movie from actor/director George Clooney, featuring actor David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow. It chronicles the newsman’s heated conflict with Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1950s. The parallels to our present time are shocking and I left the theatre wishing we had someone in the media today who wouldn’t be afraid to stand up and tell it like it is when government begins to overstep its constitutional boundaries. Dianne Reeves sings several period tunes on camera during the movie in what amounts to the only music heard during the film. The effect works and it all adds up to one of the strongest films I’ve seen in a long while.

Back in July, I wrote a piece about Steve Wynn and his west coast hijacking of the Monty Python musical, Spamalot. Did he happen to read it? Because a few weeks ago in the LA Times he tried to defend himself against one of the arguments contained in the article.

"Are you really going to play that on me — make me feel guilty about the poor people of Pasadena? This is unconscionable — you're playing the pity card. First of all, there are no poor people in Pasadena. And second, what about me? What about all the people who need jobs in Las Vegas? Don't they have the right to be employed and to be entertained too?” – Steve Wynn

What about me, indeed, mmm-hmm…in the meantime the LA Times also reported that Wynn’s “art museum” is closing. It seems that not enough people were willing to fork out a $15 admission charge to see his 14 paintings, which included a Picasso and Vermeer among them. The gallery will be used to add yet more retail space to his namesake hotel/casino.

Writer Joan Didion appeared on The Charlie Rose Show last week and talked about her new book, The Year of Magical Thinking, a book about the year following her husband’s sudden death. John Gregory Donne and Didion had been inseparable for much of their long marriage and she wrote the book as a kind of catharsis in order to understand what she was feeling. Six months after the book was finished Didion lost her only daughter as well. Charlie Rose was as sensitive and elegant as I’d ever seen him and the intimate interview that resulted was one of the best television shows he’s produced.

Joan Didion will read and discuss The Year of Magical Thinking at All Saints Church at 132 Euclid in Pasadena on Friday November 4 at 7pm.

And finally, another front in the copyright wars has opened. Tattoo artists are now carefully monitoring rights to their art on the bodies of high-profile athletes. Read about it in the November 2005 issue of WIRED.

October 31, 2005 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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