Friday, June 3

My Once-Monthly Post-While-Semi-Drunk: Adventures in Mutella

MUTELLA is ... "is a terminal-mode Gnutella client with an intuitive and easy to use interface. Initially written by Max for himself, Mutella has now been released to the general public for the benefit of all of us in need of a solid, high-performance client."

Actually, it's hooked into quite a few interesting little pools of cultural information, not just Gnutella. Some of them you've never heard of, and the minute the authorities move to quack down on them, they'll spring up spontaneously elsewhere. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's a wicked little peer-to-peer file-sharing client. No graphic user interface to slow things down, shill products, or install nasty little software agents into the inaccessible guts of your Microsoft monopoly-box.

Mostly I use it for orgies of nostalgia: Type "find the minutemen" and three minutes later you're burning a disc with most all of "Double Nickels to the Dime," reliving that kickass show at the On Broadway in San Francisco in 198whateverthehellitwas. The fact that "Little Man With a Gun in His Hand" is nowhere to be found on the network, however, means that if you have it on CD, I'm still likely to open up my wallet and contribute to the royalties due to SST Records, if anyone's still alive to collect 'em.

Many have said it better than me, but that's what continues to puzzle me about the behavior of the entertainment consortia. FILESHARING IS FREE PUBLICITY! It's CULTURAL FERTILIZER! I predict the day will come when some creaky old band will wangle a tour on the strength of their Napster-clone stats alone. I mean, look at the New York Dolls, touring around these days. It's not as if their record company or FM radio kept their catalogue current all these years. No way, man, it was the LOVE! The FANS! "Vietnamese Baby" was the song I popped my cherry to, maaaan!

And the Yardbirds, gigabytes of whom I just drag and dropped over to my 200-giga personal transportable cache. Imagine a whole generation of dopey wired kids hearing Jimmy Page jamming with Public Enemy, typing a short string on the command line, and instantly discovering the long strange journey of James Marshall Page (who now lives in a remote inland region of Bahia, Brazil). You can't sell information without context. Why should I give a damn about MTV band No. 47 unless I can immerse myself in the Hegelian processes that culminated in their divinely predordained manifestation?

And The Clash, wow, man. I saw them in '79 at some really grungy auditorium in East LA. The Maoist Socialist Workers of Chairman Bob Avakian were there in force. Mick Jones was kicking people in the front of the mosh pit straight in the teeth with his hobnailed boots until the blood was flying through the air. L.A. hipsters heard that English punks spit a lot and didn't want to be out of fashion. Served 'em right to exit toothless. I remember running into the drummer from my high school jazz band, total loser sitting there doing the lame swing cymbal jive of "Night Train." Now he's wearing a Japanese kimono and a green mohawk and he's going, "Hey, man! You inspired me! I went and got my ass in a PUNK BAND!"

The point is, decades later, I've gotten over the snobbery that dictated that Clash post-Give 'Em Enough Rope were sellouts. Next time I see Sandinista in the bin, I might just make an impulse buy. Stick it on the network to convert my friends to cult of Strummer. Feed some heads.

I'm having another one of those "open-source will change the world" moments, sorry. It's unstoppable, the same way you can't shut down the public highways to keep people from moving around, because commerce would grind to a halt. Why we won the Cold War, right? I am simply using my data connection to engage other human beings in conversation. Wanting to make this illegal is like trying to make it illegal to overhear conversations on the subway. It's like trying to outlaw my ears, for crying out loud, install filters designed to prevent me from hearing the F-word and liberal media bias. Pass software patents in Europe and hordes of postadolescent Finns with T1 lines will be ransoming you back your data, I'm warnin' ya. And Dell will be filing amicus briefs in their behalf because this is their customer base. And this is the "customer-centric" brave new world.

Stress + alcohol make Gringo dull, dull, dull. Good thing me not alpha-blogger, this probly won't come back to haunt me. If it it does, what the hell. My life is an open book. For the record, the bottle in front of me in lieu of frontal lobotomy is a 1996 Pomerol from the Chateau Gombaude-Guillot, "mis em bouteille au chateau." Good thing you can't download this stuff, I'd be dead in weeks, with a smile on my face.


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