I live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I design and build web sites (in PHP and WebCatalog), perform live improvised music, create graphics, design print materials, write and edit copy, train people in using software (Applescript, QuarkXPress, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, HTML/web design, Macintosh, and Windows), and various other pursuits. Feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com.
I've received grants for web-based art and for music. My art on the web is largely concerned with dynamically changing content--each time you visit one of these sites, the content (and the combinations of content) will be different. Check out some examples on my Projects page. Musically, my latest work has been a couple contributions to tribute CDs. Before that, I've had work installed at the "Aliquippa Embraces Arts" festival, and a related exhibit at the Pittsburgh AIA gallery.
For more detailed information about me, see my Resume. For links to the sites I've done, look at my Portfolio. If you're curious about my interests, you can check out the Culture section of this site.
Developer, Net Minds Corporation (Pasadena, remote), May 2012 to May 2013. Looking for a chance to branch out in new technologies, I joined the early-stage startup Net Minds to help build out its app/service. Responsibilities included building a web-based RESTful JSON API in Node.js (using express) with a MongoDB database (with a mongoose.js interface), and Redis for storing sessions. The product needed to interface with third party APIs for user authentication (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Google+, github), Stripe's API for payment processing, DocuSign's API for document signing (although we also tested several other providers), and I worked toward interfacing with Balanced Payments' API, continuing development of the node-balanced npm on a forked github repo. I took over some server administration duties, including managing AWS EC2 instances, configuring Haproxy to deliver our CORS-compliant API over SSL. I participated in planning and strategy meetings, designed database schemas (in MySQL) and pseudo-schemas (in mongoose for MongoDB, which is ordinarily schemaless), and interfaced with the front-end development team, who were building an Ember.js app to handle user interaction and asset presentation in the browser. Task management was trending toward agile methods with the help of PivotalTracker, and we managed several simultaneous code branches in git.
Freelance Web Developer and Consultant, May 1996 to Present. Responsible for programming, design, and production of WWW sites, including front-ends, commerce functions, Flash animations, and administrative interfaces for content and product management. Clients have included SomaliaReport.com, PollPosition.com, IraqSlogger.com (featuring a multi-author and multi-editor workflow with check-in/check-out and recurring subscriptions), Infocast Inc. (featuring dynamic microsite generation), Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, Sequitur, onezeromusic.com (featuring Bitpass micropayments, until Bitpass was closed), Washington Mutual Home Loans Marketing, Washington Mutual BFS Marketing, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Emerge Communication, Emerge Health, Sozoliving, Dickie Walker, Menninger Care Systems, Turner Martin, the Environmental Defense Fund, the University of Arizona International Campus, Hell's Kitchen Systems, Inc., the Smithsonian Institute, Carnegie Mellon Research Institute Photography and Graphic Services (consulted on CMRI Website construction), the Internet Chess Club, and others. For a list of sites I've developed, click here; for a list of WWW sites I've designed, click here. Currently, I'm developing in Node.js/MongoDB, and also PHP/MySQL.
Freelance Writer and Communications Consultant, researching and rewriting internal corporate communications for clients, reworking documents for clarity, more consistent voice, and more consistent organization. My most recent client was Chalk Creek Software, Inc., for whom I wrote a series of marketing materials. Prior to that project, I rewrote Human Resources documents for Washington Mutual's Consumer Bank division, explaining the benefits and compensation structure of all incentive-based positions within Financial Centers.
Freelance Graphic Designer, Software Trainer, and Writer, May 1986 to Present. Responsible for design, writing, proofreading, and production of catalogs, promotional brochures, newsletters and other publications. Clients have included onezeromusic.com, Washington Mutual Consumer Bank, Washington Mutual Home Loans the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Production Systems Technologies, Inc., the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, Black Box Corporation, Westinghouse Science and Technology Center, HealthAmerica, the University of Pittsburgh Press, and many other organizations and individuals.
Director, Creative & Technical Production, GreenMarketplace.com, July 1999 to August 2000. Responsible for design and implementation of two iterations of the GreenMarketplace.com website, an ecommerce site devoted to natural and healthy products. I also designed banners for use by affiliates and in various advertising campaigns, as well as logos for business cards, the business plan, signage, brochures, and other uses. Beginning in September 1999, I devoted more of my time to technical issues and directing technical staff, building an inventory system, a fulfillment system, a membership system, an automatic reordering system, a gift registry, and more. I built the software engine behind Network For Change, an online community-building and content-building tool. These systems were built in WebDNA, an HTML preprocessing template language. I served an additional function as the troubleshooter for advanced graphics, HTML, WebDNA, and MacOS issues. (As of late 2002, these sites are no longer online.)
Creative Director of the EnviroLink Network, January 1996 to November 1998. Responsible for design and construction of WWW sites, graphical elements, and promotional materials, designing and maintaining the look and feel of the site, and managing and training design staff and interns. Most of my work required a thorough knowledge of HTML, Adobe Photoshop (with an emphasis on designing for the Web), UserLand Frontier, Macromedia Fireworks, Equilibrium DeBabelizer, QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator, and other packages. Also responsible for contributing writing and editing to promotional materials, grant proposals, and research publications.
Freelance Staff Trainer for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, August 1995 to Spring 1998, training faculty and staff in current electronic publishing software and basic to advanced computer skills.
Computer Instructor for the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, Summer 1992 to Summer 1999, teaching word processing, file management, and general computing skills to students from grade school through high school age as part of the Project's Young Writers Institute.
Writing Instructor, English Department, University of Pittsburgh. Responsible for a full professor's class load: developing curriculum, planning the syllabus, conducting class, and assigning work and final grades for daytime and evening sections of General Writing, an introductory composition course, and for Introduction to Creative Writing classes.
Curriculum VitaeInvited to install site-specific audio work at the first annual Deep Listening Conference at EMPAC, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in July 2013.
Installation of site-specific audio work Impulse at the third NOISE event in Pittsburgh, April 2013. The piece involved four channels of room microphones, each independently pitch-shifted, with all parameters set to random values within ranges at random intervals, and sent back out to the room in quad.
Installation of site-specific audio work Wave Space at Cleveland Ohio's 2011 Ingenuity Festival. The piece was set to the resonant frequency of the room it was in.
Installation of two audio works (Tell Ya One Thing and its remix "Tell Ya Another") in the Cabaret Xcen*trick show at the South Bend Regional Museum of Art in South Bend, Indiana, October to November 2002.
Reinstallation of "Surrounded by Memory," at the Three Rivers Arts Festival gallery, September 15, 1998 to October 12, 1998.
Awarded project grant from the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts for the creation of "Surrounded by Memory," an audio environment of music and recorded speech installed at the 1998 Aliquippa Embraces Arts festival.
Awarded project grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Interdisciplinary program, for the creation of Use, a dynamic web-based art project during 1997-1998.
Paper on Global Information Sharing Using the Internet presented at the National Academy of Sciences 1997 Industrial Ecology Workshop, and published in the conference anthology.
Aliquippa Embraces Arts: Music/sound/speech audio environment installed at the 1997 festival.
Interactive digital performance piece included in the Winter 1997 issue of the electronic book review at http://www.electronicbookreview.com/ (see ebr6).
Designer as Author: Voices and Visions, Northern Kentucky University, February and March, 1996. Interactive text/graphics project displayed in curated exhibition.
Three Rivers Arts Festival, 1990 to 1993. Photographs accepted and displayed.
Graduate Teaching Scholarship, English Department, University of Pittsburgh.
Graduate Record Exam, Scored in top 1% in Verbal and top 8% in Quantitative portions of the exam.
Chancellor's Undergraduate Merit Scholarship, University of Pittsburgh. Awarded a four-year, full-tuition and room and board academic merit scholarship, the highest-level undergraduate scholarship offered by the University.
EducationMaster of Fine Arts in English, University of Pittsburgh, 1993. Specialization in Writing with a cumulative 3.71/4.0 GPA.
Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Pittsburgh, 1988. Specialization in Writing with Music, Economics, and Psychology minors, and Engineering background. Graduated cum laude with a 3.82 GPA.
MultimediaI also play a variety of musical instruments as a solo performer and with an ensemble, and am proficient with many common audio recording and soundtracking techniques and technologies, including programming in Pure Data and recording and editing on the fly with Ableton Live.
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My upcoming gig at Club Cafe has received some love from the CityPaper, courtesy of music editor Justin Hopper and writer Julie Wesolowski:
The AMP series at Club Cafe continues with an eclectic electronic theme tonight. Expect feedback, blips, beeps and loops galore when local electronic music outfit Death Pig takes the stage. And, in what is sure to be a "must-see" to be talked [about] around the water cooler for days afterward, [the] Unindicted Co-Conspirators promise to combine guitar and electronics with accordion and overtone singing--all of which is then processed through a PowerBook. Sure it's avant-garde, but at least now Pittsburgh can't be considered "boring." Also with Xanopticon and Sugapablo. 7:30 p.m. Club Cafe, South Side. 412-431-4950.
Wow--a twofer for J-night! From the Pittsburgh City Paper:
RiffsAnd from Pulp:
Jandek's Myth Direction
Writer: JUSTIN HOPPER
Too often the veil of indie anonymity is simply a tool to achieve ends similar to those of rock-star bravado. Too often in the modern music world, cries of "no sellout" are simply the public face of private bathroom-mirror microphone posing. But to the select few who, for better or for worse, really do abhor the publicity-driven music biz -- major label or indie -- there stands one towering example of the lengths to which one can go to avoid it.
Since 1978, when his debut Ready for the House appeared, the Houston-based musician known as Jandek has released more than 30 albums, performed no live shows, done no publicity photos and given one interview -- maybe. The interviewer, who tracked her subject down and approached him unannounced, and whom Jandek told that he never wanted anyone to contact him about Jandek's music again, was never able to absolutely confirm that the man she interviewed really was Jandek. While he's long been a name-droppable indie icon, his music, perhaps best described by Douglas Wolk as having "no choruses, no hooks, no melodies, no rhythms, no internal progression, nothing but the inexorable Chinese-water-torture plod of Samuel Beckett's The Unnameable," is absolutely unmarketable to say the very least.
In other words, to musicians with not just a taste but a need for myth and mystery, such as Pittsburgh's Maurice Rickard (a.k.a. Stoic Sex Pro), Jandek is manna from heaven. (Pittsburgh has a long-standing history with Jandek: WRCT-FM was one of a handful of stations to which the mysterious musician's Corwood Industries label used to send free copies of each Jandek LP.) Upon discovering that the mayor of Houston had named Nov. 5 to be "Jandek Day," Rickard began to formulate something of a tribute to the unattributable -- an evening of Jandek's music as performed by local musicians, done in the low-tech, almost dismally barren form of Jandek's own recordings. Participants such as Rickard, accordionist Steve Pellegrino, John Eastridge and Unfinished Symphonies (local weirdo Mr. Funky's one-man band) will perform Jandek songs and invite all comers to do the same. (Don't know the words to your Jandek fave? Rickard will have Internet access on hand to look 'em up.)
Is Jandek a brilliant and truly unique artist, a reclusive mental case, or an Ern Malley-sized hoax perpetuated by some enclave of Texan pranksters? More importantly, does it matter? If the music holds up, it certainly doesn't. As Rickard says of his hopes for the tribute event, "I suspect that a fun, intensely 'other' experience will be had by all."
The Jandek Night open mike takes place at 7 p.m. Wed., Nov. 5, at Kiva Han at Forbes and Meyran avenues, Oakland. 412-682-5354.
Wednesday, November 5
My first encounter with enigmatic, DIY musician Jandek occurred while digging through a stack of albums at a yard sale in North Georgia 10 years ago. The picture on the cover appeared to concern itself with a drum set. Yet, tinted in a haunted cerulean, it seemed like one of those photos you'd get back from the lab for free. The back was white with the name of the performer and album, plus a list of songs and a Houston, Texas address. Simply carrying this record home gave me an odd sensation, like perhaps I'd stumbled upon someone's home movie and wasn't supposed to be watching. Or listening. While it was fairly clear that these people -- or was it all one person? -- couldn't really play, they/he captured the "white blues" perfectly, moaning about hospital visits, isolation and somebody named Sadie over torturously inept guitar and drums. It was apparent this Jandek, whoever he was, had problems. Trawls through friends' collections uncovered more of his records, but who was he? After 36 albums and 25 years, nobody seems to know. There are articles, Web sites and even a fan club. At least 100 people love him. None of which quite explains the fact that, last year, Houston's mayor declared November 5 "Jandek Day." And thanks to the instant info found floating in the electronic mist, other towns have planned celebrations of this ragged, invisible troubadour on the same day. Pittsburgh's Maurice Rickard is setting up "Jandek Night" at the Kiva Han on Forbes and Meyran. Accordionist/performance artist Steve Pellegrino also appears to be involved, but anyone is welcome. The rules: Bring an acoustic or low-watt amplified instrument and play. A Jandek cover, that is.
-- BRUCE MILLER
Free. 7 p.m. Oakland. 412.682.5354
Turns out that I've been interviewed again by the City Paper, this time in relation to the PULSE performance series I'm involved in. While he does get wrong one detail about my performances, it's still a complimentary article, which is indeed nice.
Pulse at Kiva Han / Throb at Rex TheaterSo don't show up expecting an all-Bush evening, and you'll be quite happy.
Turning the Tables
writer: RYAN WALSH
The freshly painted walls of Kiva Han coffeehouse's South Craig Street location are a bold lime green and vibrant, almost metallic blue. These colors surge throughout the shop, giving a sense of revitalization that matches the new ownership, food menu and event schedule. Beginning in October with a week-long Halloween series, Kiva Han has been hosting some interesting nights of music and gaming, and on Feb. 1, they -- led by a group of promoters, producers and deejays -- will embark on a biweekly series, Pulse, highlighting local electronic music producers.
"There are a million places just doing art -- I don't want that," explains co-owner John Mutchka. "I want to provide an open-mike forum for political discussion and activism." Given that one of the acts performing at the opening event, Stoic Sex Pro, is known for a piece that uses only samples of George W. Bush, [Ryan's misunderstood me slightly--Bush is a significant sample source for many pieces, but so far there aren't any pieces that use him as the only source of samples. Even so, I may whip one up for this show.--ed.] Mutchka's notions of content are surely part of what will be represented.
This is not the standard plug-a-deejay-in-a-random-venue event that has been seen lately, as the focus will be on a group of local producers that do not follow the traditional vein of electronic dance music. The music could generally be described as computer music, but within that you will find everything from dark ambient soundscapes to driving experimental hardcore. It is the fringe of electronic music, produced by a small but ever-growing group of individuals pushing the bleeding edge with their laptops, effects pedals and, in the case of local musician 8cylinder, Game Boys.
"Every innovation allows itself to be perverted," explains Maurice Rickard (a.k.a. Stoic Sex Pro) of the advent of the laptop as central to a genre of music. "[Computer music] is an invisible revolution. I compare the producers to the thousands of garage bands in the '60s." Rickard prides himself on the originality of his performances and brings a strong improvisational element with his performances utilizing laptop, guitar and effects.
To support the multitude of producers working in Pittsburgh, the production team behind Pulse (led by local event promoter, and CP contributor, Manny Theiner) are also looking to a larger scale event, Throb, on Wednesday nights at the Rex Theater with the more accessible lineups. That event, which debuts Feb. 5, features slightly more traditional electronic dance music in a much larger venue. Keeping with the Pulse aesthetic of highlighting live music, Throb's lineup boasts many recognized Pittsburgh producers and groups.
Geoff Maddock, a deejay (DJ Cutups) and head of local experimental distribution company Wrecked, has a vision for these events. "What ideally would come from the events is bringing more producers and fans out of the woodwork, and also creating something of a sustainable scene for new and different electronics in Pittsburgh," says Maddock.
The faster end of the new electronics spectrum will be well represented by breakcore producer Xanopticon, a.k.a. Ryan Friedrich. Friedrich has gained recognition lately with his recent releases including a 7-inch on Mirex , two releases on tigerbeat6 and a 12-inch on Peace Off. Other highlights include the noise stylings of Manherringbone, the dark ambient sounds of Requiem, electro provided by the deejay duo of Jwan and Ikari Bakudan, and a musical performance from noted local sound artist Jeremy Boyle. Throughout both events, expect a taste of the most progressive trends that have not exploded in Pittsburgh -- at least not as of yet.
Pulse, featuring DJ Cutups, Stoic Sex Pro, Impercept and Xanopticon, takes place at 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 1 at Kiva Han, Oakland. 412-687-6355. Continues bi-weekly.
Throb, featuring DJ Futurism, DJ Infamous and Automatic Matt, takes place at 9 p.m. Wed., Feb. 5 at the Rex Theater, South Side. 412-381-6811. Continues weekly.
The estimable Doc Searls is linking to my humble site, after I supplied a graphic for the campaign against CARP, the Library of Congress's Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel. The panel recommends that all Internet radio streaming stations pay royalties on each song broadcast. While I'm an ASCAP member, I'm troubled by this: many streaming stations (like the excellent Dr. Yo) are labors of love, or nonprofit community radio moreso than for-profit businesses. Without some provision allowing for free streaming by noncommercial entities, this amounts to a stifling of a valuable community service. (I have, in fact, bought CDs based on what I've heard from 'net radio stations.)
As a promotional activity for our show on March 8, 2002, Robert "Mr. Funky" Press and I talked to a writer from the CityPaper...and it turned out wonderfully. A description of one of my recorded live improvisations is the lead paragraph! While it's apparent that what I'm doing wouldn't be the writer's primary choice of listening material, he does a great job describing the milieu and the overall effect. As the City Paper doesn't keep archives on the Web, here's the full article by Justin Hopper, which appeared under the title Rubber Bands:
Listening to Stoic Sex Pro (a.k.a. Maurice Rickard) go through his 10-minute guitar-and-PowerBook epics is a bit of work. Listening to "It Is Highly Concentrated; It Is Pure" live at Duke's bar in North Oakland must have been akin to seeing Throbbing Gristle open a new Kmart or Tangerine Dream play a frat party. But "...Concentrated..." on SSP's self-titled demo/album was, indeed, recorded live at that venerable dive institution -- all 20 minutes of repetitious movie samples, guitar drones and computer glitches.The photo for the article is one of my favorite doctored photos--it's not exactly of me, since I don't actually appear in it, but one of the 6V6s from my Alamo amp does. It's better than your usual head shot, and quite gratifying for it to be in print.
To a certain extent, that click-and-glitch bar-band mentality is what spawned The Elastic Concept, an erratic series of shows at local bars and clubs featuring a diverse, purposefully awkward array of local artists that kicks off this Friday. Joining Stoic Sex Pro are lauded indie newcomers The Count-Ups, barroom-blues outfit The City Slickers, genre-bending improv group Clutter, and Elastic Concept founder Robert Press in his one-man organ-music guise, Unfinished Symphonies.
The Elastic Concept's purpose and future are, even according to Press, a little bit selfish: "When I hear four rock bands in a row, by the middle of the second band I don't want to hear rock music for a week." There's no duty-bound musical mission here -- just an opportunity for Press (a.k.a Mr. Funky of Mr. & Mr$. Funky) to showcase the musicians he himself wants to see play together. And that might get a little bit weird.
Clutter, The Count-Ups, Stoic Sex Pro, The City Slickers, and Unfinished Symphonies play at 9:30 p.m. Fri., March 8, at the Memphis Room at Zythos, South Side. 412-481-2234.
But that's not all! The CityPaper also runs a weekly blind listening/review column, in which they play recordings of bands who will be performing during the week, and some unsuspecting soul is asked to provide comments. Here's what Juli Werner had to say about "It Is Highly Concentrated; It Is Pure" from the Stoic Sex Pro CD:
It's really just lots of different noises -- at some points they sound like they're on the verge of breaking into something else, but then don't. It just changes, very gradually. If I were somewhere, and it was playing, I wouldn't go running out of the bar -- but if someone told me they were going to see them play, I wouldn't exactly go running to the bar! I couldn't deal with a whole show like that -- not that it's bad, just that it's not my cup of tea. I think they're probably doing [this kind of music] well, but I don't have any context for judging it. It's so repetitive; it reminds me of when you have a dream where you keep trying to do something over and over again, but you can't accomplish it.While it isn't her thing, I quite enjoyed her comments, for some reason. Her site's swell, too.
From June 2001 until late September/early October 2001, I was doing solo electronic improv performances under the name Toxic Spores. Obviously, that was a problematic name to continue to use after some bonehead started sending anthrax through the mail. So I opted to change the name, and the news editor of the local CityPaper did a brief sidebar story on it. I did get a decent quotation in (about how the name "didn't really mean too much...and then it started meaning way too much"). A few days later I met somebody who'd actually read the article, but hadn't known me or known anything about the performances.
These days I'm using Stoic Sex Pro as a performance name. The sharp of eye may notice that it's an anagram of Toxic Spores.
I ended up on local TV again. My wife and I were both interviewed by local WTAE, as a feature on person-in-the-street reaction to the just-announced bombing of Afghanistan. ("To what we didn't know about until just a couple seconds ago? Sure, lemme be really inarticulate on local TV.") My take was basically that I hoped our intelligence was good enough that we weren't killing noncombatants, but that the people who attacked us had to expect a response. ("I hope our intelligence is good enough that we know what we're aiming at and not just dropping bombs randomly.") They ended up using quite a lot of my comments, which I remember as being quite disjointed and incoherent. My wife spoke a lot better, but they didn't use her comments, for some reason. (While on actual viewing my segment wasn't quite as inarticulate as I remember, it wasn't my ideal.) Conversely, friends seemed to like it.
Bonus tie-in: this occurred just down the street from my Squirrel Hill Bookstore MITS interview.
After a significant break, another second ticks by: I'm credited on the excellent 'blog Follow Me Here for doing a bit of background checking on a current meme. Sometimes all it takes to be a good Netizen is a simple Google search.
I've made yet another appearance (nonspeaking) on local television--once again on local CBS affiliate KDKA. While the story is about GreenMarketplace.com, they sent a crew to the office, and my back made it into a shot. Okay, so this isn't really fame, but it only counts for a second.
A brief interview with me appeared on local CBS affiliate KDKA's 5:00 news hour. It was part of Brenda Waters' On a Positive Note segment on this year's Aliquippa Embraces Art festival. I was interviewed about my audio installation there, "Surrounded by Memory," which I talk more about on the Music Production page.
I was reminded of one of the Doonesbury cartoons from the 80s: one of the minor characters sang on the "We Are the World" charity single. After several strips leading up to his big moment, he sings his part: the word the. It's interesting: the piece was on for just a few seconds; I was on for only a few seconds more, just describing the piece--the descriptions of the interviews themselves were all that was aired, no mention of the music. There's no way the whole interview could be used; it's just interesting what they selected and what they cut. It's also nice to get some exposure, brief though it may be.
A friend later told me I looked "disgustingly healthy" in the interview.
I look strange in a photo in today's issue of The Industry Standard. (Sorry, no copy of the photo on the site.)
I was interviewed on local TV station KDKA about the closing of one of our few remaining independent bookstores, which was squeezed out by an influx of megachain bookstores. I said that the increasing corporate control over much of American life can't possibly be a good thing. The caption for my segment identified me as a "Book Lover."
A dynamically generated performance piece of mine was published in ebr6.
My logo for UserLand, Inc.'s Fat Page protocol was selected, and announced in Fat Pages With Wheels.