Featured

While We Were Out

Update

On December 31st, or maybe during the early morning hours of New Year’s Eve 2019, the DonaldPierce.com site went down, at least from an administrative point of view.
If you were on the net and checked in up until the end of April,  you could still see the posts–all of them–starting with our annual New Year’s post for 2019 and stretching back to 2011. Over 2000 posts, complete with photos, illustrations, links, tables.
There were another 1000 or so posts in the “article inventory”….an editorial trick the Media Bunker staff picked up from the days when we put magazines together for the world’s greatest publishers….with the intent of publishing all of those articles at some time in the future. Maybe they needed more work or polishing, or maybe the timing just wasn’t right….but they’re going to get posted.
Most of the publications that the Media Bunker created and nurtured  survived, and a few became massive hits for the simple reason that the Media Bunker staff is composed of a group of very very talented multidisciplinary artists who can do everything from write a business plan to create a product or generate a brand and a website from scratch. Don’t talk about that stuff much because the DonaldPierce.com site is not and never has been about “what we can do for you” or “what we’ve done in the past that might impress you” or even “we’re shopping for a social influencer deal”.
We don’t do that stuff.
What the DonaldPierce.com site was about–and will continue to be all about–is a living, breathing, work-in-progress about extending the bandwidth of what’s possible in all forms of communications. In the past, we’ve done historical pieces, film, music, film festivals, reviews, inspirational quotes, obituaries, travelogs, how-to-do-its on everything from writing a business plan to making a Christmas wreath (we like Christmas…a lot…like the whole idea of it, not just the gift part).
In the process, we developed some themes and editorial components (as we say when we talk with publishers) that showed promise…real promise…and got notice all over the world, which seems amazing. I mean–none of this stuff is heavily publicized and still people seek us out. Amazing.
Things were noticed, and people started tuning into the site to see what was going on.
Tracking visitors via Google Analytics (thank you, Google, for your fine tools) we found that people all over the world were tuning in…and the total of visitors was rising every day, every week, and every month. And then….shut down/turned off/invisible.
Another reason why the sudden admin blackout (we were not able to get into our own site to update it, revise it, edit, etc…and to this date have still not been able to do so)was a bit of a shock.
But the break provided time for some retrospection and that was good. We decided to take a look at what had been created and what to do going forward…if we were going to go forward.
One feature we created, “The Nightshift” developed a pretty good international following.
If you’ve been to the site before and seen the “The Nightshift”, you know the format: a very streamlined world news site, with some appropriate editorial photos, a list of three or four or five news events of the day worth your time (with links to each ) and a listing and links to the major English language newspapers in the world.
It was developed when one of the Media Bunker writers was grousing about the extra effort necessary to check out how a single news story was covered throughout the world–journalism is about telling the story, not necessarily shading it (although that happens)–and wanted to find out how other countries were viewing/reporting the same news.
So a couple of days later “The Nightshift” was created to give writers and readers and people who want a different perspective on the news a single spot to see the world’s take on the day’s events.
Through the kind graces of Getty Images, who enabled world-class photo journalism for the site–and a commitment to publish everyday, even if the publishing day was coming up just as the editorial staff was coming in from a long night out–the format was created, refined, updated, shoved around a bit, expanded, refined again, until it became a very solid, clean piece of world communication.
Without hyperbole, it’s a site that’s faster, more focused, sharper, and streamlined than many big budget news websites. The cleanliness of the design (thank you Anne Ellen Geiger and Handgame Design), the focused and useful content, and the by-necessity brutal streamlining of the news-you-need-to-know editorial approach created a site with regular readers all over the world who want to see what the other side is thinking. Which was the point in the first place.
For the Media Bunker team, the site was a learning project, a chance to test some ideas and learn to program and create in a tight deadline-mandated format (thank you Word Press).
And then it all stopped.
But…in a huge bit of good luck, it stopped on New Year’s Eve……our annual New Year’s Eve post made it up and online and then we couldn’t post anything else.
Time for our own re-set.
So….that was then and this is now and things change. Going forward, The Nightshift has grown enough and received enough support that it will now receive the ultimate gift from the Media Bunker staff–it’s own site.
Effective today, The Nightshift breaks out of DonaldPierce.com and flies on its own.
The new web address: www.nightshiftnews.com.   It will be an evolution of the format that was originally developed for it although graphically it’s going to have a lot more range because the New Year’s Eve blackout forced some necessary changes at the Media Bunker (more about that below). Archives will be available via this site (donaldpierce.com) until further notice; one of our big challenges is going to be moving legacy Nightshift content over to their new site. Honesty point: we don’t have it all sorted yet, but we do have enough going to push the button and get back online again.

Web hosting has been moved out of our original site at E-Builders. Thanks guys, you were great. But we’re now in a different mode and require different assets and digital opportunities. We still don’t know precisely why we lost the ability to post/edit/control the original DPC site (or why you didn’t sort it out for us), but it makes no difference. As Enzo Ferrari once famously said, “what’s behind you doesn’t matter” and so let’s move on.
We’re now at TMD hosting and onto a new platform, Divi, built on top of our old reliable WordPress platform. There is a learning curve. We have not mastered it 100% and won’t for a while. We had over 2000 WordPress created posts under our belt when things screeched to a halt and so we were very invested in one program and now have to create, again, that same type of familiarity and ease of production. But we will. We did it before when we didn’t know anything, and we can certainly do it now when we know more than we knew before. We also have more control, more assets, the ability to use an increased array of media formats. It’s all good. It is time consuming making this change, however.

The Nightshift gets its own site and that’s good news.The Nightshift cranks up today, 19 August 2019. It’s the one good site to know even if the world news is bad, It’s designed to be refreshed daily.

The other good news:

DonaldPierce.com will return to it’s roots as more of a personal and experimental editorial outlet. More  of the stories that you can’t find anywhere else (“The Sociology of Christmas Trash”; “The History of Sebring”; “Pain Never Sleeps”; “The Hunter S. Thompson Film Festival”). More great Christmas posts and playlists and videos; more Weekend Video Concerts; more reviews of things fast (Porsche turbos) and slow (Sunfish sailboats) and investigative reporting, like our still-famous report on what is actually inside the black boxes that are retrieved after airliner crashes. More commentary, more humor, more science detuned and a lot of science not detuned because we believe you will get it. More of the stuff that gets us sent to the principal’s office is still present.

The new posts on DonaldPierce.com have started. There is a direct link to The Nightshift (and a direct link from TheNightshift to donaldpierce.com) and until further notice, all of the previous 2000+ posts will be accessible via the donaldpierce.com site. This is a new design and a new learning curve and everything is moving at once and no doubt we will make mistakes. We’re working our way through through an issue with legacy photographic posts currently. If we don’t make mistakes, we’re not learning and the point is to learn and push the envelope and have fun. If you liked it before, you will love it the new iteration even more. Stay tuned.

And….there’s more. The Media Bunker staff and parent Perception Engineering have lined up over 30 different web projects to be produced in the next 4 months. Not of all of these will escape beta, but a good proportion will. Some of them are purely artistic in intent and content (our coming digital art gallery) and others high-tech-industry focused and commercial. We’ll do pop up websites and a few other formats you haven’t seen before. It’s an experiment. We’ll experiment.

The bottom line is that a breakdown, somewhere, on the last day of 2018 year, has created an atmosphere in which change was necessary to continue with the program. The choices: Either change or pack it in and call it a day. And that is not the way we do things here at the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering.

We committed to move forward, expand in new directions, develop new concepts, bring in more music and film and design and photography and continue the experiment that started 8 years ago.

Thanks for reading this far and y’all come back. There’s more where this came from. So tune in and turn it up.

The Fine Print: Video embed courtesy of our friends at YouTube. YouTube has lots of stuff that you should see. Have you seen YouTube today? donaldpierce.com and NightshiftNews.com are produced by The Media Bunker and Perception Engineering. All content, unless otherwise noted, is (c) 2019, donald pierce, all rights reserved. If you see a piece you want to use, we’re very easy to work with, Drop us a line, we’ll provide the correct attributions, and go for it. DonaldPierce.com is a continuing experiment in news, media and communications and works within a surprisingly wide bandwidth, powered by Macintosh Computers; WordPress; the Elegant Themes Divi publishing platform; McIntosh Laboratories audio amplification equipment; Wilson Audio Speakers (and Audio Technica, B&W, and Beats headphones); Adobe software; Canon video and digital photography equipment; Spotify and iTunes music (on all the time). Graphic design guru Anne Ellen Geiger/Handgame. Hosting by TDM. Follow us on Twitter at @donzzo and on Instagram at @donzzop. Investment banking services provided by Miles Geauxbye at Breakout Funding. The staff of the Media Bunker and Perception Engineering trains at Lifetime Fitness.

Featured

Summer Weekend Concert Series: Dr. John at the Newport Jazz Festival, 2016

A video of Dr. John performing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2006. The video is very good throughout but there is a bit of an audio issue in the beginning of the set. Stay with it. Thanks to the  Newport Jazz Festival and Funk and Reggae for sharing.

The Fine Print: Special thanks to our friends at YouTube and the Newport Jazz Festival for sharing this video of Dr. John performing. All rights belong to respective artist. Special thanks to Funk & Regagge on MV for posting it. You are advised to run the sound through your stereo system and the video through your flat screen. You are also advised to turn it up. Summer Weekend Concerts are curated and edited by Perception Engineering and the Media Bunker. Turn Dr. John’s concert on and get to the Big Easy without even leaving town..except in spirit. Enjoy. 

Sympathy For The Devil

Music For Today’s Headlines: Jeffrey Epstein Found Dead In Apparent Suicide

You could just see this one coming. Too much money, too much power, too much rule breaking, too many powerful friends, too many secrets that had to go to the grave.

The drama that was Jeffrey Epstein and his life will be with us for years, as the court cases proceed–now civil, since the criminal case against him cannot proceed because there is no him anymore as Jeffrey is dead. A terminal legal technicality for criminal court cases, but reason for possible celebration in the households of people in Epstein’s orbit who might now be clinking champagne glasses and muttering about “poor Jeffrey” and his dramatic exit from the scene while giving a sigh of relief.

The conspiracy theorists (one of them a highly ranked politician) have already fired up the twitter feeds and the analysts and talk show hosts are going to find hours of content and better ratings by ramping up the wilder sides of a very wild Jeffrey Epstein international sex trafficking story.

Some deep background reading on Jeffrey Epstein is below, just so you’ll be prepped for the storm to come.

And our take on the whole thing: One of the Rolling Stones’ very best songs performed live. Perfect for today’s headlines and much better than any talking head on any network. It asks and answers all the right questions.

The Headline Links

Jeffrey Epstein Dead In Suicide

Why Wasn’t Epstein on Suicide Watch?

Trump Shares Unfounded Fringe Conspiracy Theory on Epstein Suicide

The Fine Print: Video courtesy of our friends at YouTube, posted by rcarbone22. All rights belong to designated rights holders. Embed courtesy of YouTube; we thank them for sharing. Music for Today’s Headlines produced by Perception Engineering and the (often unruly) crowd at The Media Bunker. Contents copyright 2019 donald pierce, except for those rights owned by other parties. DonaldPierce.com is a Perception Engineering site. Thanks for reading. Turn it up.

Transitions: Dr. John (1941-2019)

Above: Dr. John doing an extended  version of “Such a Night”, one of his best known hits. Good music and excellent photography. Perfect for setting the tone for a piece to remember a musical legend. 

“Such a Night. Sweet confusion under the moonlight….”

  –from “Such a Night” by Mac Rebennack (Dr. John)

Mac Rebennack, AKA Dr. John, (New York Times Article) the legendary New Orleans musician and performer died on 6 June 2019.  He was 78 years old. We are not here to bury Dr. John, but to praise him, for all the good times, memorable songs, honky-tonk infused piano solos and to provide some audio and video remembrances of one of the greats of all time and someone with whom I have a rather long (listening) relationship.

Flashback.

It is spring, 1975, and I am trying to organize a new apartment.

The apartment is spare…only the essentials: a very high quality stereo system (the legendary JBL SA 600 powering a pair of JBL studio monitors. Up against the wall, my beloved, well-curated vinyl collection—over 2000 records that cover every form of music from Dixieland to symphony, courtesy of years spent working in media and broadcasting when vinyl was still the dominant music distribution medium.

There’s a bed, some pillows, a closet full of tennis racquets and workout clothes and shoes, one frying pan, and a small, one cup-at-at-time coffee maker. Plus…of course…an electric typewriter for writing.

Two Wassily chairs, a round breakfast table and four companion chairs, and a lot of art that needs to hung  on the walls but that is, at the time, leaning against them.

That’s it.

But there’s one new addition: a box, professionally packed and shipped, on the breakfast table. It’s the monthly shipment of new records I should be listening to from my pal Niles Siegel, the music wizard from New York City. I’ve known Niles since the late sixties and was with him when he made a career change that turned him into a legend—going from a working NYC advertising photographer to a hustling music industry record promoter, getting the right tunes on the air at the right time. One of the side benefits of being Siegel’s pal, is that you’re on his mailing list, which means a package, once a month, of the latest and best music. You can read about Nile’s rather incredible career via this link. It was through Siegel that I discovered Keith Jarrett—the brilliant jazz pianist known for his solo concerts. Siegel’s range is wide and so you never know what’s waiting to be discovered.

I open the package and inside a short note: “Pierce….a collection of Dr. John’s music. Listen to all of it. You’ll love it. New Orleans musician but so much more. A very unique talent. Trust me.”

And so I spent the night listening to the music of Mac Rebennack, AKA Dr. John (Wikipedia), a New Orleans musical legend, the Night Tripper, the creator of a very singular blend of rockin’ voodoo blues flavored with New Orleans musical spices. A unique talent indeed.

Dr. John music is always special, colored by the cultures and sounds of New Orleans but looking forward, into rock and roll, and rock and psychedelics and, of course, jazz, and never slavishly repeating what had gone before. He had a fear of a great cultural gift—the music of New Orleans—being trapped too much in past and so he pushed it forward, taking the best parts of the old and combining those with the most adventurous parts of the new. He was the man for the job, because he had all the talent to do it, not just as a musician, but a doctor with a specialization in music tradition and combination.

Dr. John had a unique sometimes growling voice combined with the stage presence of someone who has spent most of his life in smoky, loud juke joints. His surprisingly expressive and very distinctive voice was paired with rollicking piano stylings, part rock, part honky-tonk, part blues, creole late night bar-and-club. He grew up under rough circumstances, lived a rather tap-dancing-on-nitroglycerin lifestyle, but found his groove—literally, initially—as a working studio sideman, playing on records with everyone from Sonny and Cher to Paul McCartney. He played with the Rolling Stones, James Taylor and Carly Simon, Maria Muldaur, The Band, Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, Niles Lofgren, Joe Walsh, Clarence Clemons, Billy Preston, Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin. And on and on and on. While best known for his solo albums, he was the quintessential studio musician—one of the best of all time– full of new ideas,  musically unique, and technically gifted enough to pull off anything he could conceive and he could conceive a lot. Dr. John was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 (John Legend did his honors) and received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Tulane University in 2013. Also in his Tulane class: the Dalai Lama. If you’re known by the company you keep,  Dr. John was music and cultural royalty.

To get an enlightened appreciation of the drama and impact of Dr. John, you are directed to Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s very fine appreciation of his work. Erlewine gets it.

Fast forward 42 years. April 2017. Oxford, Mississippi, the home of the University of Mississippi, better known as Ole Miss. It’s my annual trip to the town’s Double Decker Art and Music Festival. We go for the art, stay for the music and food. This year, as in  years past, I’m shooting the music performances. The festival organizers have very graciously provided me with an all-access photographic pass and, featured tonight is the legend himself: Dr. John. It will be the best of all possible worlds for me—up close and personal access to his concert and his music as the background for the shooting. Sometimes, things happen because they are destiny and the connection created decades ago will now be closed as I have the chance to go face-to-face with the legend himself.

He’s slower than before—76 years old—but the trademark growl in his voice is as strong as ever, the voodoo artifacts occupy, as always, the side of his piano facing the audience, and he’s still wearing snakeskin Gucci loafers and checkerboard socks. A pony tail of significant length stretches out from underneath his straw Fedora. He is walked onto the stage by one of his crew and he seems weaker than I’ve seen him in the past. Moving slowly, he slides into position on the piano bench, adjust his song book and bench, punches in a few notes and chords and then comes alive as his oft-played collection of hits and classics pours out with striking little piano runs and solos delivered by the Doctor himself who’s backed by an effortlessly  talented  band that’s heavy on horns combined with a thumping rhythm section, and as the performance takes off, he gives me one last right-into-the-lens look and disappears into his life—his music, his singular sound–suddenly energetic and alive and in sync with his music and his audience, simultaneously he lifts off, lighter now than before, energized in the way that only performance can provide, and rises into the moment and the notes and the songs.  It’s a form of magic when the greats take the stage and get into it, and Dr. John is one of the greats…and  tonight he’s into it

Talking about Dr. John is one thing, having the privilege of photographing him in performance while listening to his music is another terrific experience, but the only way to truly get a grip on Dr. John is to listen to his music. And so we’re making that very easy, Big Easy easy, really, with a special playlist of some of his great tunes, courtesy of our friends at Spotify. Punch the button and get your groove on. But wait….there’s more…as this weekend we will be posting a Dr. John concert for our Summer Weekend Concert Series. As always with music through this site,  run it through your big sound system, kick back, and have your own personal Dr. John concert. You’ll feel better.

The Fine Print. First, thanks to our friends at YouTube and Blues Piano Sheets for the really great video of Dr. John performing “Such a Night”, which was posted in 2015. All rights belong to respective artists….we thank them for sharing. Photos of Dr. John performing, (C) 2017, donald pierce. If you are interested in using any of these photos, drop us an email and let us know where, when, and how and we’ll get it sorted for you. Text (C) 2016 donald pierce. Special thanks to our pals across the pond at Spotify who make it oh-so-easy to create and post playlists. Also special thanks to the Double Decker Art & Music Festival in Oxford, Mississippi for enabling photographic access for the Dr. John shooting. You need to check that festival out if you like art and/or music. That’s all folks….read the story, link to the music, and appreciate the unique talent of Dr. John. 

Nightshift Sports Rio Preview: Mariel Zagunis

The Olympics
Fencing is an old, old sport. It’s possible that you might not know anyone that actually knows how to fence, which is all the more reason why you should watch Mariel Zagunis of the U.S. Olympic Fencing team. The sport is lightning quick and is more of a mind game than a physical one, although quick reflexes are certainly an occupational necessity. Short profile of Zagunis by Sports Illustrated, who made the embed available through YouTube (thanks guys).

Nightshift Sports Rio Preview: Marti Mallow

The Olympics
Athletic competition in judo is nothing like the staged, tightly choreographed physical dances you see in action films. It’s a lot more tactical and mistakes are not allowed–they take you right out of the match. Here’s U.S. Olympic Judo team member Marti Mallow, in a profile produced by Sports Illustrated (embed via YouTube).

Nightshift Sports Rio Preview: The Shooters

The Olympics
The Summer Olympics are one of the world’s great athletic and cultural events. There will be a nation’s worth of new media and television coverage at the Rio Olympics, but don’t forget to look at/for the very great work that is being done by still photographers at the Olympics.
 

One of the major engines driving photographic coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics is Getty Images. We love Getty Images at this site, for all the right reasons: they have an unmatched inventory of photos from all eras and of all types, they’re easy to work with, and they share. They make it easy to always get the right image for the (very eclectic) posts that we run. Getty is going all in on the 2016 Olympics and we will be seeing still photography magic this year.  Watch the site for continuing galleries of great photography from the Olympics, as well as lots of good information on the techniques and mind-set it takes to photograph the Olympics.
The Fine Print: Image above from (who else) Getty Images, used by permission. Thanks guys, always, for sharing.