October 20, 2018

Change Ads To Art

Arrows indicate where ads have been replaced with art on this sample web page.

How is it that the internet has been totally taken over by advertising? Did we ask for this, or did they ask our permission to steal some of our expensive internet bandwidth to pollute our experience with consumer arm-twisting?

Why aren't more public places centres of beauty rather than being overwhelmed by ugly omnipresent propaganda aimed at increasing consumption? 

Let's face it, art is mind expanding, while advertising uses advanced techniques to circumvent our rational thought processes and narrow our uniqueness; mind contracting, if you will.

Observing art gets our creative juices flowing, while advertising shuts them down. 

The internet, and the world, needs far less advertising, and a lot more public displays of art. The people at the Anti Advertising Agency who made the browser plug-in called "Ad-Art" would agree. 

They offer a free download that replaces (most) advertising on websites with curated art images.

This is from their website:
"Ad-Art is a free Firefox add-on which replaces advertising on websites with curated art images. 
Add-Art releases new art shows every two weeks and strives to feature contemporary artists and curators."

I use Safari as my browser, and downloaded a version of Ad-Art that is compatible. I have been testing it out over the past few days, and am generally pleased with the results. You can find downloads for other browsers here.

I do notice some minor slowing while certain pages are loading, but even if one has to wait a few seconds, it is worth it to have annoying ads replaced with beautiful images. 

I have no doubt that fewer advertising intrusions in our lives, and more art, would lead to a reduction in mindless consumption, and an increase in creativity. 

We have a right to an advertising-free experience, and visually pleasing spaces. Ad-Art is one small way we can fight back and regain our visual rights. 

Plus, it is much safer than blowing up/cutting down billboards. Not as fun, but definitely safer.

October 17, 2018

5 More Years - Environmental Protest Songs

What if the only big trees were in the museum, and it cost a dollar and a half just to see them?

Few things encapsulate the times as much as a protest song. Across the decades many songwriters/eco-activists have used their talents to both entertain and warn us of ongoing environmental degradation and collapse.

"A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for BS", said Phil Ochs. That is why some of my favourite tunes are protest songs, specifically, environmental protest songs. They are like bathroom tissue for the mind, wiping away the cultural programming bullshit.

Environmentalism has been the focus of music since about the 1940s. However, the earliest environmental protest song, called "Woodman Spare That Tree", was published way back in 1837.  

That old familiar tree, 
Whose glory and renown 
Are spread o'er land and sea, 
And wouldst thou hack it down? 

Woodman, forbear thy stroke! 
Cut not its earth, bound ties; 
Oh! spare that ag-ed oak 
Now towering to the skies!

The 1960s, which ushered in the folk music era, was a hotbed of environmental protest songs. In 1966 Pete Seeger created what is considered the first enviro-focused album called "God Bless The Grass". I was a five year old environmentalist at the time.

God bless the grass that grows through the crack. 
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do 
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru 
And God bless the grass

In 1970 Joni Mitchel released one of my favourite environmental protest songs of all time, "Big Yellow Taxi". I was 9, and did not want to have to go to a tree museum when I grew up.

They took all the trees 
And put them in a tree museum 
Then they charged the people 
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

When I was 10, David Bowie wrote an enviro protest song that has become one of my favourites, even if it is terrifically sad. It is a song called "Five More Years". In this prescient poem he describes an Earth doomed to destruction. 

News guy wept and told us  
Earth was really dying 
Cried so much his face was wet 
Then I knew he was not lying 

We've got five years  
stuck on my eyes 
Five years  
What a surprise 
We've got five years 
My brain hurts a lot 
Five years 
That's all we've got

We made it past 1971, but how much longer do we have now? 5000 years? 500? 50? Or perhaps 5 years? If we knew, would we live differently? Would work and status and the acquisition of stuff continue to be major goals? 

Or would we cast all of that aside to concentrate on the well being of all, and the enjoyment of our beautiful planet in the time we had left?

Five years 
I hope we have more. 
Five years 
This is such a bore. 
Five years 
it scares me a lot 
Five years - is that all we've got?

An effective environmental protest song cuts through the BS, and leaves a lasting impression. The songs I have highlighted here have affected a lot of lives, including mine. 

The enviro-protest song format is still going strong (although perhaps not AS strong as previous socially/environmentally conscious times), because the need to prompt people to action still exists, and the problems have only got worse. 

Check out the Cactus Blossoms' tune "Change Your Ways Or Die" on our sidebar, for one example. 

I look forward to a time when the Earth is so cared for by humanity that we no longer need protest songs. Will that happen in my lifetime? Maybe if we collectively demand it, and make it a priority.

Do you have a favourite environmental protest song?

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