David Byrne brings the world "Reasons to be Cheerful"

In an effort to fight cynicism, David Byrne has started a new online editorial project called Reasons to be Cheerful. It's described as a "self help magazine for people who hate self help magazines."

He writes:

It often seems as if the world is going straight to Hell. I wake up in the morning, I look at the paper, and I say to myself, 'Oh no!' Often I’m depressed for half the day. I imagine some of you feel the same.

Recently, I realized this isn’t helping. Nothing changes when you’re numb. So, as a kind of remedy, and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news. Not schmaltzy, feel-good news, but stuff that reminded me, Hey, there's positive stuff going on! People are solving problems and it’s making a difference!

I began telling others about what I’d found. Their responses were encouraging, so I created a website called Reasons to be Cheerful and started writing. Later on, I realized I wanted to make the endeavor a bit more formal. So we got a team together and began commissioning stories from other writers and redesigned the website. Today, we’re relaunching Reasons to be Cheerful as an ongoing editorial project.

We’re telling stories that reveal that there are, in fact, a surprising number of reasons to feel cheerful -- that provide a more optimistic and, we believe, more accurate depiction of the world. We hope to balance out some of the amplified negativity and show that things might not be as bad as we think.

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Triple Chaser: a short documentary that uses machine learning to document tear gas use against civilians, calling out "philanthropist" Warren Kanders for his company's war-crimes

Laura Poitras (previously) is the Academy Award-winning director of Citizenfour; she teamed up with the activist group Forensic Archicture (previously), whose incredible combination of data-visualization and documentary filmmaking have made them a potent force for holding war criminals and authoritarians to account: together, they created Triple Chaser, a short documentary that uses novel machine-learning techniques to document the ways in which tear gas and bullets made by companies belonging to "philanthropist" Warren Kanders have been used against civilians to suppress anti-authoritarian movements, and even to murder innocents, including children. Read the rest

David Byrne's Luaka Bop label is releasing a compilation of "secular gospel" from the 1970s, with liner notes by Jonathan Lethem

Since its inception in 1988, David Byrne's Luaka Bop label has been a sure-fire source of some of the best music I've ever heard, from its compilations of Brazilian and Cuban music to bands like Cornershop, Os Mutantes, and Tom Ze. Though Byrne is no longer running the label, it continues to blaze a remarkable musical trail: its next album will be The Time For Peace Is Now, a collection of "secular gospel" rarities from the 1970s, "focusing not on Jesus or God, but instead on ourselves, and how we exist with each other." Read the rest

Animated David Byrne/Big Suit enamel pin

PSA Press's $15 Stop Making Sense pin is jointed for moving Big Suit action, just like in the greatest concert movie ever made; I just bought one at Wondercon and it's superb. Read the rest

David Byrne's "Eclectic Music for the Holidays" playlist

Talking Heads frontman and all-round musical/art-theory/bicycle genius David Byrne has published a playlist of "Eclectic Music For the Holidays," recommended by the musicians in his orbit: a fine way to start Christmas month! (stream it here) Read the rest

Shithole Playlist: David Byrne's favorite music from Donald Trump's least-favorite countries

The Beautiful Shitholes is David Byrne's Spotify playlist of music from the countries Donald Trump infamously condemned as "shitholes." Read the rest

Watch David Byrne's "Reasons to be Cheerful" lecture

Watch Talking Heads legend and happy mutant superhero David Byrne's delightful new lecture earlier this month in New York City! The subject, "Reasons to be Cheerful," is intertwined with Byrne's first album in 14 years, "American Utopia," due out in March.

He's just announced that he's taking the talk on tour for a series of free shows in Europe.

“I began to look for encouraging things that are happening anywhere in the world, and if they have been tested, if they have been proven to work, if they can be transferred and adopted in other places, if they can scale up,” Byrne says. “[T]hen, I thought to myself, why not hold them up for consideration, and also invite others to add to this project. There are actually a LOT of encouraging things going on around the world – they’ve given me hope, they’re a kind of therapy, given what’s happening in the world, and I’d like to share them."

(Thanks, Julie Muncy!)

Previously: "To do in NYC: David Byrne's Reasons to Be Cheerful" Read the rest

To do in NYC: David Byrne's Reasons to Be Cheerful

Talking Heads frontman and all-round happy mutant hero David Byrne's "Reasons to be Cheerful" project seeks out "encouraging things that are happening anywhere, and if they have been tested, if they have been proven to work, if they can be transferred and adopted in other places, if they can scale up." Read the rest

David Byrne on silence

Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne's new book, "How Music Works," is a combination personal artistic memoir and cultural/scientific exploration of music -- what it is, how it's made, and what it means. (Cory's review of the book is here.) Smithsonian has posted a fascinating excerpt from "How Music Works" that includes a riff on the beauty of silence (photo by Bart Nagel):

In 1969, Unesco passed a resolution outlining a human right that doesn’t get talked about much—the right to silence. I think they’re referring to what happens if a noisy factory gets built beside your house, or a shooting range, or if a disco opens downstairs. They don’t mean you can demand that a restaurant turn off the classic rock tunes it’s playing, or that you can muzzle the guy next to you on the train yelling into his cellphone. It’s a nice thought though—despite our innate dread of absolute silence, we should have the right to take an occasional aural break, to experience, however briefly, a moment or two of sonic fresh air. To have a meditative moment, a head-clearing space, is a nice idea for a human right.

John Cage wrote a book called, somewhat ironically, Silence. Ironic because he was increasingly becoming notorious for noise and chaos in his compositions. He once claimed that silence doesn’t exist for us. In a quest to experience it, he went into an anechoic chamber, a room isolated from all outside sounds, with walls designed to inhibit the reflection of sounds.

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David Byrne and Caetano Veloso, live at Carnegie Hall

Ur-happy mutant David Byrne writes,

Back in 2004, Caetano Veloso asked me join him for a night during his residency as a Perspectives artist at Carnegie Hall. The concert was very stripped down and acoustic. Jaques Morelenbaum augmented us on cello and Mauro Refosco on percussion. This evening was pretty special for me. I was extremely nervous (there are flubs here and there), but I was also thrilled. Some folks thought we made a pretty odd couple, but we actually have a lot in common.

I keep asking myself, “Why didn't this come out sooner?” Um, good question. Record business nonsense. But anyway, it’s finally here, and you get a free download of one of the songs we did, Dreamworld: Marco de Canaveses.

This is a song we wrote together for the Red Hot + Lisbon benefit album in 1998. The Red Hot folks suggested we do something together and I had a song I hadn't finished, on which I used a percussion loop from a Caetano song as an inspirational rhythmic bed. Since we already knew one another, the idea of finishing that song seemed obvious. I sing about a club kid, lost in the nightlife, and Caetano wrote lyrics about Carmen Miranda—who, as it turns out, isn't Brazilian (she's Portuguese!), which made it all the more fitting for that particular project. Somehow, juxtaposing these two very different women, separated in time and space, made a weird kind of musical sense.

Anyway—if you like this song, you might want to want to check out the rest of the album, which you can order today!

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David Byrne's fake iPhone apps

David Byrne made a bunch of fake screenshots for iPhone apps that don't exist. They'll be in an exhibit called "Social Media," at The Pace Gallery (510 West 25th Street) from September 16 - October 15.

Show description: "The exhibition focuses on contemporary artists exploring public platforms for communication and social networks through an aesthetic and conceptual lens. In an era of increasingly omnipresent new technologies, Social Media examines the impact of these systems as they transform human expression, interaction, and perception."

In addition to David Byrne's work, Social Media will feature work by Christopher Baker, Aram Bartholl, Jonathan Harris, Robert Heinecken, Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher, Sep Kamvar and Penelope Umbrico.

Social Media at Pace Gallery

See more of David Byrne's fake apps after the jump. Read the rest