The Return of Unwound

image of me In the lobby at the Wiltern ready to rock with Unwound

In the lobby at the Wiltern ready to rock with Unwound

What was wound? Back in February I attended an Unwound show at the Wiltern in the inimitable Los Angeles. LA is a special city to me, given I spent some of my formative years living there and attending UCLA #4life. The things that make you you are varied and complex, but there is definitely a big part of me I take from my time in LA from 1990 to 1997. One of them is Unwound, they were the soundtrack of most of my time there, particularly Fake Train, New Plastic Ideas (1994), and The Future of What (1995). I saw them more than once at Jabberjaw in 1994 or 1995 and it was magical, I wrote about that experience back in 2010 right here on the

Los Angeles, Jabberjaw, Unwound

Hell, I even travelled from NYC to Seattle in 2002 to catch their penultimate show in Seattle, alos wrote about that here.

Summer of Love: Unwound

In fact, we had one of Reclaim Hosting’s servers named after this band in honor of THE post-punk band of the 90s. And guess what, I wrote about that too!

What Was Wound

Anyway, you get the idea, I’m a fan, and have been for 30 years now. So, the idea of seeing them for the first time in 20 years was truly exciting, and I was joined by some amazing company and this show would be just one small highlight of a much larger and rewarding adventure. Nothing like going back to the land of the formative years triumphant.  LA taught me how to escape the strictures of the past, and it remains a wonderful teacher.

The show was what you would expect from Unwound, honoring the memory of deceased founding member Vern Rumsey with a low key, heartfelt shout out. In fact, the show was in many ways how I remember them, subdued while rocking, and Sara Lund leading from behind the drums, and I was in heaven. There was even a moment wherein Sara engaged with the crowd asking folks how many of us saw them at Jabberjaw, my hoots and hand waving were instantaneous, along with a few other aged souls. She followed that with how many of you were not born in the mid 90s, to which a much louder, vigorous response was raised. Vindicated, Sara said this show is for all of you (suggesting the new generations of Unwound fans), as a result I was feeling a bit demoralized. I mean I could name there songs, I even tried to re-create the set list from memory the following day as traveling out to the desert to escape even more. But alas, Lund’s comment stuck in my craw. I mean, not for nothing, but how many of the other hippies in attendance traveled all the way LA from Italy to see them live? How about a little something for the effort, Lund and Trosper!!! Oh, how sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a reuniting band’s ingratitude.

Image of Unwound's setlist written from memory of the February 15, 2023 chow at the Wiltern

Image of Unwound’s setlist written from memory of the February 15, 2023 chow at the Wiltern

Above is the set list I put together from memory of songs played (although not in chronological order) while driving out to the desert the following day. And Mikhail tuned me into the fact there is a site that does this for you, so here is the “official” setlist that I imagine is in chronological order.

Image of entry for Unwound at the Wiltern on February 15, 2023 entry for Unwound at the Wiltern on February 15, 2023

As I said already, the Unwound show was only one part of a longer west coast tour with co-pilot Brian Lamb that was truly amazing, and the thing I came away with was that Unwound did the 20 year re-union tour proud with the modesty, dignity, and a stormy-minded intensity they rocked during their initial run, and the fact they’re looking forward to the future, without being hung up on the past filled with old jackasses like me represents another example of a band that knows who they are where they’re going. May we all take a page from their book, even if it hurts a bit for the frail egos in the audience. I’m glad I saw them again, and here is to the next time I rock out to their music live.

Posted in music, vinylcast | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Building Oblivion University in the Aftermath

Well, I think it’s finally time to start blogging about the ds106 course that’s likely to run across at least three universities in the Spring of 2024. The course, in short, is going to focus on digital storytelling in the wake of AI, the aftermath—if you will. I’ll be teaching alongside such stalwarts as Martha Burtis, Paul Bond, and Michael Branson Smith (MBS), which is reason enough to do it. The narrative for the course is currently unfolding in our collective minds, but when MBS mentioned framing it as “the Aftermath” based on some of the plot lines Martha and Paul have been working through, I knew that was going to be the name: ai106 – the aftermath (the ai106 was Martha’s stroke of genius). I’ll spare details on the course given that is very much a work in progress, but in broad strokes there is a moment after some imagined event, and that becomes ground zero for the rise of the machine. There will be multiple plots and subplots, many of which the students will create, but there will be this looming figure of Dr. Oblivion who has arisen in the aftermath and has started an AI-driven university. What’s more, he will be actively recruiting students to leave their current institutions and join the “the one true university,” the long overdue Oblivion U—where truth can finally be measured.

I think you can see the possibilities there, MBS has already trained the AI on Dr. Oblivion, so that is all set, we just have to train him to teach university between now and January—should be a breeze 🙂 The fun part for me is building out the entire infrastructure for this brave new world of online universities. The idea is to take the elements that made up our Open Media Ecosystem  last December, and bring them all together using Mastodon and Mattermost to essentially build out an entirely open source platform that not only allows us to own the publishing, as WordPress so beautifully did, but also the comms via social media where Mastodon replaces Twitter; Mattermost substitutes Slack; PeerTube premieres over YouTube; PixelFed stands in for Instagram; Azuracast for, well, Azuracast; etc. You get the idea, I’m sure, it will be a full blown university in the open source cloud driven by everyone’s favorite VHS-born professor. I love the idea of it being “the aftermath” given ds106 has been in a bit of a slumber and the recent rise of the machines has signaled a shift in the rhetoric of a kind of before and after when it comes to AI. So it only makes sense to mobilize the rebellion to explore that tension, here’s to hoping so many of you beautiful machines out there join us!

Posted in digital storytelling | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

So I was talking with Tim a couple of weeks back, and I was bemoaning the difficulties of getting an arcade up and running in Italy. There are some major hurdles, not least of which is the original security certificate the game must have to be allowed to be publicly accessible for commerce.* The worst part is I have no desire to re-create a proper arcade like Reclaim Arcade, I mean why would I? -it was perfect the first time 🙂  I just want the 30 classic video game cabinets I’ve spent the better part of two years minting out accessible to someone other than myself.† So, back to Tim, he said in his matter of fact way “why don’t you just get a space and start building without too much overhead, like we did in the CoWork space back in 2016.”

Eureka! He was absolutely right, I was overthinking this whole thing, I just needed to do it. And once I broke through the logjam, the ideas started flowing, for example, why just a place for games? Why not a retro cultural center? Or a space to experiment with old and new AV equipment? Maybe a little 3D printing?

And then it hit me, Given I have no real desire to make this a commercial space, why not just turn the whole thing into a kind of stream of consciousness living exhibit, wherein I use the public-facing spaces (the shop windows) as a kind of looking glass into various cultural vignettes. Like staging a scene from one of my favorite horror movies, and the next week/month after that highlight a few Williams arcade games (and make them remotely playable even?).  How about taking the hundreds of Smurfs I collected when I was a kid and re-create the Smurf (or Puffo in Italian) village. What if I use the exposition space to recreate a wall of 80s VHS tapes for another installation and on and on and on.

All the while the exhibits will link to a site ( that will provide in-depth information, links, context, and more. And if it catches on, make calls out to the community to submit ideas for the next window that they can build and get featured in the window for a week or so. You get the idea, right? —it’s basically this blog, the veritable bavatuesdays, but in storefront form.

That’s right, hippies, this blog is about to get a physical address. In fact, this afternoon we found a modest 600 square foot space downtown (right across from my favorite Pugliese bakery) where it can take shape. It’s kind of a ridiculous concept, but as downtown commerce increasingly goes online, the city center becomes less and less viable as a shopping mall. So, what if all those spaces get reclaimed and transformed into cabinets of curiosities through which we can connect with another through spaces of playfulness and creativity?

I’m sure there is nothing new under the sun, and this has been done before, but I’m pretty excited about giving it a go and seeing what comes of it. For me, the real allure is re-directing my energy refurbishing the arcade games into creating scenes and sets for the Trentini to see and say to themselves, “WTF is that?!” 🙂


*This mythical certificate is near on impossible to get given many of these games were not even in Italy when they were created, and most of the original security certificates that did exist for these games in Italy are long gone now.

†Something I learned from the Living Room Console was that an exhibit like this needs to be inviting and playable by the public.

Posted in art, bavastudio, bavatuesdays | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Containerizing Mastodon on Reclaim Cloud

Taylor and I did a stream yesterday wherein we (royal) set about taking one of my experimental Mastodon instances ( and moving it from a Debian VPS into a Docker container. We got the bug after a recent open source trifecta update I posted about, and I am glad we did. Long story short, the genius of Docker is how it makes hosting more complex server setups like Mastodon simple (as with Azuracast and PeerTube), which in turn will make running and maintaining these open source systems that much easier, hopefully leading to wider adoption. There is still the question of cost, but I have ideas there as well, but that is another post.

Anyway, the 45 minute stream was a roaring success! We were able to get off the VPS and onto the 1-click installed Docker instance running on Reclaim Cloud. It must have been a proud moment for Taylor to see all his work on that installer and increased familiarity with Docker come together in a seamless moment of everything just works. Anyway, if you are into this kind of stuff, the stream has been recorded and I embedded it above.

Posted in docker, Mastodon, reclaim, Reclaim Cloud | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

bavacade repair log 10-25-2023

Things are definitely coming along, this weekend I got the K4600 chassis for Challenger working, which is ostensibly my last big hurdle to perfection…but things might change before I rebuild Elevator Action.

For example, the Stargate game started resetting again, even with the new FPGA board, so I swapped in the extra Joust main PCB board, and it worked for a bit…then the game would go to white screen of death whenever I pressed the smart bomb button. I then got the idea to unplug the main board from both the ROM and Interface boards, and that seems to have fixed the issue, and the FPGA now works seamlessly.

Painted the front and right-side of Elevator Action, so the only thing left is some touch-up paint and a re-build today.

Alberto applied the new overlay to the Elevator Action control panel, and that just came back yesterday, so I should have Elevator Action rebuilt today—and maybe even a perfect arcade?

Some additional tedium: K4600 in Challenger originally meant for Venture, but when it failed had to use Challenger K4600 to get Venture working. In terms of the fix, I really just disassembled and re-assembled the chassis. The anode suction cup seems to come off given the metal piece holding it in is not tight enough, worth looking at and maybe swapping

To test Stargate I took the main Joust board backup and swapped it with the main Stargate board, it worked, but when main board was still connected to ROM and interface boards we still got issues, I unplugged main board from PCB board, and the restart has not come back, and I think the issue is between the ROM board and main board, and given I don’t need the ROM board will keep this connector unplugged.

Posted in bavacade, bavarcade, video games | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hitting an Open Source Update Trifecta

One of the things I have been working on recently is stitching together a bunch of open source tools for an online “Oblivion University,” if you will. I’ll write about that more in another post,  but I just wanted to note here that last weekend I decided to try updating three of the open source tools that will be part of this setup: namely Mastodon, Azuracast, and PeerTube —open media ecosystem anyone? And a crazy think happened, they were all successful!

Adrian, I did it!

I’ve been using Mastodon for almost a year now, and also running a few servers for just about as long. I’m really enjoying the mellow pace of that social space. The scale and scope are quite manageable, and even better the software is constantly improving. The most recent update to version 4.2.0 was a big one with a ton of features, and I must say the updates happened without issue on all three servers I currently maintain. The instances are running on top of a Debian VPS in Reclaim Cloud (RC), but I’m getting interested in what a move to Docker for any one of them might look like given I think that will make the process that much easier.

A nice part of running this infrastructure in RC is that I can clone these environments seamlessly, test the upgrades, and if all is good run them on production. Been doing that regularly ensures they work, and guarantees less stress for sure. The commitment to running a Mastodon instance for 30+ people is a bit more overhead then other apps like my blog because if stuff breaks, others will immediately feel it—so I’ve tried to be careful. But with the cloning tool in RC (and regular backups!) Reclaim Hosting has the technology shored up and has run our small corner of the federated social web without too many issues thus far.

The there is my favorite social network, the mighty ds106radio, which is #4life. Far from mission critical software, it has managed to hang around for near on 13 years. I use nightly builds for this when upgrading, so a successful upgrade can been elusive, but last weekend I hit the jackpot and it worked seamlessly. This application is hosted in Docker, and the upgrade was two commands and done.

cd /var/azuracast
./ update-self
./ update

Dead simple, and it has been working flawlessly. In fact, the web dj feature even works for the first time ever, so ds106radio is in prime shape for the day-long Halloween show Reclaim is planning most of the day October 31. That show will be on another upgraded instance of Azuracast, namely Relcaim Radio:

Finally, I gave upgrading PeerTube a shot given I was on a roll, and this is another Docker instance that was seamless to upgrade, three commands and done:

cd /your/peertube/directory
docker-compose pull
docker-compose down -v
docker-compose up -d

The value of Docker for seamless updates was all too apparent for me after going from a VPS instance of Mastodon to Docker-driven images for Azuracast and PeerTube, I really need to experiment with a Dockerized Mastodon instance sooner than later, I mean we even have an installer.

Posted in Azuracast, ds106radio, Mastodon, PeerTube | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bava GTO

One of the most talked about sessions of Reclaim Open in June was Tom Woodward’s “Your website is a slow, bloated, carbon-belching monstrosity.” I know this because our session on Reclaim Cloud went up against it, and it did not end well for us 🙂 It is a session we want to re-visit with Tom, and one I think about a lot because my site is the big bloated, carbon-belching monstrosity he warns against. I’m not gonna lie, I do kinda love that my site is a 70s muscle car, but at the same time I know they appeal and relevance is dated. Anyway, regardless of all that (or maybe because of it) my site is a super charged GTO thanks to my mult-region setup under the hood with a Cloudflare caching and optimizing delivery setup that makes it an untouchable, aerodynamic beast of a site.  It will make short work of Tom’s zeitgeist Prius off the starting line as we street race for web credit. Hell, I can even use images, which he can’t for fear of the bava!

Bring it on, Woodward! NOBODY!!!

Posted in bavatuesdays, fun | 4 Comments

Highs and Lows

Whew, where do I start? The last 6 weeks or so has been a bit of a roller coaster. For all the obvious reasons: Lauren departing, semester starting, bavacade polishing, life happening, staring into Oblivion,  etc. But I also had the brilliant idea of brining on a new platform (ReclaimPress) and making a big migration push (necessary). Yeah….ambitious.

Since some time after September 1st up to this moment has been a weird, haze-like fever-dream of work, punctuated with some moments of escape. Craziest of all, a part of me has been feeding off the energy. There are few things more gut-wrenching in our line of work then a server offline or a migration gone wrong, and we had a twofer the last few days that I may have just dug us out of. As things got more intense so do my moods, and I have been battling the mania, trying to stay grounded and not give in to going sleepless for days and winding myself up into a ball of insanity. But the taste of it now is so sweet, that it is almost hard to resist. I’ve been walking that minefield carefully, and with some much needed drugs and a little help from my friends, I’m still here!

But it has been an interesting series of highs and lows, that mirror my mental state. I mean in terms of highs: more then a couple of big migrations went super smooth—almost to the point of surprising; the arcade is nearing on perfection in every way; amazing trip to Veneto to see Veronese in a Palladian villa; some side-of-desk experimentation with offloading media to S3 and using Cloudfront (new and exciting for me) to server over alias domain; interest in our .edu hosting continues to grow; we may have had the best community chat ever at Reclaim yesterday; and hiring Jason Teitelman (an amazing addition to Reclaim) and bringing in Maren Deepwell as a consultant to save my working soul; and that is just to name a few things.

But the lows, that sense of dread (but also feeding off it) when the migrations I carefully planned go south and folks are rightfully unhappy. I used to be able to use Tim and Lauren as body armor in these moments, but that is not the case anymore. The team stepped-up as they always do, but in moments like these you begin to question your own value, and that can be a deep, dark hole to crawl out of. One that impacts my family more than anyone given my work and my life are fused, there is no separation, there is no health, there is just bava. Sometimes that can get scary, but I’m feeling the lows ebb and the highs ground out a bit. And the self-awareness that I know this is part of how my brain works and it can be harnessed and directed is truly magical, it is the closest thing to a sense of wisdom I have come away with in these 52 years. I’m in search for a milder mental sine wave to ride through the rest of October, and beyond, and maybe, just maybe, get that perfect arcade I have been chasing 🙂

Posted in blogging, It Came from the Bava, learning | 9 Comments

Elevator Action Project Update

I’m pretty excited about how the Elevator Action project is coming along (a harbor during the storm). I’ve only done one other stencil before this, my first real project Scramble, and I must say working with stencils on these machines is pretty fun, it’s like grown-up art class. I use a fine paint roller, so my work is never going to be perfect compared to the compressor kids, but it’s close enough to fool some. Anyway, on with the picture show.
The original cabinet was the green on green Taito classic that housed Jungle Hunt and Jungle King, and folks on KLOV note many Elevator Action cabinets lived in this colored cabinet given they were designed to be interchangeable for games—so purity and originality, as always, is a slippery slope. That said, this color guide I found on Flickr for classic Taito machines tries to match color combos with games, and I love it:

Just Brian’s Classic Taito Color Guide

You’ll notice Elevator Action and Wild Western have all but identical color schemes, and Tin Star and Frontline are pretty darn close. So, I designed to start from scratch and prime over the original Jungle Hunt/King cabinet after water damage repair.

Jungle Hunt Cabinet for Elevator Action

Original Jungle Hunt cabinet I got Elevator Action with

Cabinet repaired and primed, you can just make up the original art

After Alberto did his work, highlighted above, I had a clean slate to work with, but the issue was I had no definite color match. I looked high and low online, but did not get any solid color codes for the original Elevator Action, so Antonella and I went to the local professional paint store with some images of an original Elevator Action machine and studied. The guy who worked there was super helpful, and we decided on a rosy brown for the base, which you can see below:

I wasn’t sure it was a perfect match, so when I started masking for the first side of stencil work, it was with some trepidation.

Elevator Action Project


Elevator Action Project

But I committed, and it was gorgeous, fearing the dark orangish brown for the Taito design was too orange, I once again hep my breath, but….

Elevator Action Project

Elevator Action Project

…it was beautiful!

Elevator Action Project

Elevator Action Project

I’m sure it is not “exact” and using a roller left some clean-up work, but the cabinet is absolutely gorgeous, another off-the-line game in the bavacade.

Elevator Action Reproduction Control Panel

And to double-down, I had brought back a reproduction of the metal base of the control panel, and picked up a new version of the control panel overlay art. Some might say, “why?” Well, because the one the existing one was not only a reproduction, but it was a crappy one. Take a look at the following two images, the first is the control panel overlay art that I have now, the second the one I will be applying to the new control panel to make it more perfect in every way:

Elevator Action Project

Crappy control panel reproduction I was saddled with

Elevator Action Project

New control panel art with so much more detail

So the new control panel art is exciting, and given both the bezel and the marquee are the original glass, this game is the shiznit.

Posted in bavacade, bavarcade, video games | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oblivion University!

I could say more, but who has the time—not to mention, who would listen?

Posted in digital storytelling | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments