Archive for June, 2011

A Rant on RantMedia

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

I learned a little bit ago that Obsoleet was added to the RantTV lineup. This got me thinking about RantMedia as a whole, and what it really means to me.

RantMedia was founded in 1999 as one of the first SHOUTCast stations. They have three audio streams: Talk, Industrial, and Punk. In 2003, RantTV was created as a video stream after the release of the Nullsoft Streaming Video codec. RantMedia is headed by James O’Brien (Cimmerian) and Sean Kennedy who are not only responsible for being show hosts, but also recording, editing, and releasing the content. Anything streamed on Rant is done with permission, and any content produced in-house is licensed under Creative Commons. Rant has also branched out into the print world, with an online ‘zine and even published novels. Combined with a loyal community, RantMedia is a full-on independent media organization.

Rant’s slogan is “Don’t Hate the Media, Become the Media” which come’s from Jello Biafra’s sixth spoken word album. The album title itself is a reference to a track on the album supporting the Independent Media Center which provided round-the-clock independent coverage of the WTO protests of 1999 (For more information on this, I suggest listening to the album or checking out a great documentary, Pirate Radio USA, which in part showcases the event.) The slogan rings true with Rant: if you’re sick of what is currently out there, make your own.

I first discovered Rant in late 2005. I was never much into the audio content, but was hooked by the video. Sean Kennedy’s Biafra-esque style and charisma made every video he was in not only fun to watch, but interesting and informative as well. The RantTV stream was also a big influence on me as I was discovering independent internet video, and would later be involved in. I even set up an old computer, a used Radeon card, a VCR, and an automatic switch box from an NES to splice the audio/video from the computer to the cable line coming in my house at the time. RantTV was always on channel 3 anywhere in the house, 24/7.

That was years ago, and though the computer I used may have died, my interest in Rant has not. It’s a weird and almost eerie feeling being able to tune in to RantTV and see myself on the stream. That aside, it is one of my proudest accomplishments. Rant has not only been an influence on me, but many others who just enjoy listening, distributing content, or creating their own.

Even though RantMedia is over ten years old, they are still going on strong. The streams are still pumping, shows are still going, and community remains active. Many media operations come and go, but this is one that never buckles as time goes on. Rant has stuck to its message, and gone on for years with no advertising or corporate interference. It may not be as well known or funded as some other internet media giants, but RantMedia holds a place as my favorite independent media network.

Payphones

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Over the past few months, I’ve been noticing something. Payphones are disappearing. We all know they are “dead” already. For years, we have been fed stories online and otherwise that payphones are phased out, the phone companies are taking them all away because they are too expensive to run, and other similar stories. Honestly, I didn’t see any of this until February. For the longest time, I still saw phones where I’ve always seen them (the exception being public schools, but that’s another topic). Phones at the corner store, by the post office, on the street in the city; they were all there.

Here stands an empty phone kiosk in Philadelphia (the corner of JFK and Market it you want to be precise). I remember there being a phone here, but it’s gone now. I was by this spot not three days ago, and the kiosk still stands, but seems more or less forgotten in plain view. Just another eyesore of the city. A monolith to inefficiency in the modern world, but everything at one point in life.

This next image is from Philadelphia again, at 30th Street Station (At the regional rail platforms). I wanted to take a picture of the empty kiosks I saw, but by the time I showed up, only the outlines of the bases were left. Now, the station is still full of pay phones. Banks of them line a wall leading to the police station. Cubes of them are situated near customer service. Two are outside the food court bathroom. While I’ve been to this station several times a day over the past year, I can’t see I’ve seen them used much, but there they stand, ready for your quarters.

A few months later, I noticed that payphones were disappearing from other places as well. The local train stations had them gone over night. Not even silhouettes or outlines of old paint. No exposed cables or junction boxes leading to nothing, just no record of them ever being there. While I’m not opposed to the concept of removing payphones (considering that is how I got a few), I’m wondering just how long it will be until all record of them are wiped from view. Will there be a day when I can walk the length of a city and not see a burned out kiosk or a graffiti covered blue “Phone” sign hanging off an awkward steel post? Only time will tell, but they don’t seem to be completely disappearing any time soon; just slowly and silently fading away.