The End

Here is a quick video explaining what I learned in the Digital Humanites class.


Phil Ochs Video Project

My video project turned out better than the podcast. The sound quality of my voice isn’t great though. I recorded it through my phone and I could have benefited from using a pop filter. Finding photos to go along with the story worked well for the most part but there are a couple places where the images don’t match as well as they could. Editing the video was difficult as I couldn’t find a decent video editing suite on Windows so I sent the files I collected and recorded to my phone to edit using iMovie. Editing the video on my phone was not very difficult, though my needs were simple. The hardest part was transferring the files from my computer to my phone using separate Gmail accounts. In high school I used to edit video using a dedicated box that took an extremely long time to render clips. It’s amazing I was able to make this using my phone. Overall the project wasn’t much more difficult than the podcast. I essentially repeated the process of recording a podcast and then used the audio with the photos I collected. There are elements to the story I would have liked to explain further but for the sake of a three minute time limit, I had to cut. The video ends up explaining the story and two details in dispute concisely.  If  I were making this for a wider audience I would have recorded the audio in a studio. I also would buy a Mac 🙂


I’m no Ira Glass

For this week’s assignment we had to create a three minute podcast introducing Phil Ochs to people who hadn’t heard of him. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. We experienced technical difficulties, including mic problems and going through three different editing suites. We spent so much time dealing with the technical issues that the content of our conversation suffered. We were able to salvage enough to complete the project but it could have been much better. If we were to do this again I would focus more on the content and what we wanted the final project to express. Our pod ended up not being as clear a representation of Ochs as a result of the lack of planning for story structure. If we were to do it over I think we would have a great product. One thing about recording audio interviews is there is no room for revision. Yes, it can be edited but if you are only able to capture the audio in one session, there is no room to think of questions after the fact. The pre-planning process must be executed in forward-thinking fashion with a clear idea in mind.


**Folk Round Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Phil Ochs’ Ode to Heroes

On his final album, Phil Ochs shied away from politics. He wrote more introspective songs about his life. I believe most people will gravitate to focus on his political songs, that is definitely important. I want to focus on songs that may explain a little more about the personal side of Ochs. The song Boy in Ohio is an autobiographical song about Ochs’ teenage years. He sings about skipping school to go to the movies and listening to the radio at a drive-in burger joint. This seems to be when Ochs developed his admiration for men like Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. Toward the end of his career he displayed his admiration for his heroes on the radio and the big screen. My favorite song is on Greatest Hits, titled Jim Dean of Indiana, about James Dean. Och’s openly admired many famous men who he wanted to emulate. This is why I chose the two medley’s from the Carnigie Hall album. The last song on the playlist is the final song his fans listened to that would be new to them. Its called No More Songs. He never released another album after the Greatest Hits, which this songs finsishes. The style of the song is very much in the congurence with many songs in movie Westerns. It’s as if he purposely framed himself riding off into the sunset.

Finally, I ended the playlist with a song from The Decemberists. As I listened to Ochs I kept thinking about how simliar his voice sounded to the lead singer, Colin Molloy. I also thought of Rufus Wainright’s voice.


Phil Ochs’ archive

I am looking forward to visiting the Guthrie Center finally. Its been something I have been meaning to do for a while but haven’t yet. Based on the readings this week I expect to see a linear story of Phil Ochs’ life through letters, articles, and personal records. I hope to find out more about him through the private information they’ve obtained.

One question I have for the archivists is how they choose what information is important. The list of records on their site include things like a Diner’s club application, a deposit receipt for electric and gas, and apartment lease papers. These things don’t seem like they would hold much importance to me. I want to know why they are considered to be valuable to their collection. I would also like to know if or how the hierarchy of information obtained is ranked. What is usually the most useful information for people who are researching a person’s life?

As one may guess from my previous post, I am very interested in seeing the gold suit.  It is pretty great to be able to see something in person that intrigued me the last few weeks. It’s just a suit, but it is something I have been thinking about a lot. It’s pretty cool I get to see it in person, and it is only a mile away from where I live.

The wicked nerves of wiki-editing

As an American Studies major, I have been trained to look at things in a way that is inquisitive and interpretive. Wikipedia is more a Dragnet “just the facts, ma’am” Type of deal. It was difficult for me to dial back my thought process and keep it from running off into the ether. If I had been assigned to write a paper it would have probably been something about how Ochs seemed to buy into American Exceptionalism and the frontier myth, while fighting for left wing ideals. That’s a complicated existence for anyone. Instead of writing a paper interpreting the symbols he chose, I decided it would be important to point out where it seems, he saw the bubble burst.

I found the gold Lamè suit to be an important symbol for Ochs. He chose it because of the relation to a hero of his, Elvis. He wore it to make a larger point about pop culture being more important than politics for many people. He said he believed the only way to change things in America is to get someone like Elvis to become a revolutionary. It seemed to represent the loss of hope for Ochs. The hope that he felt when he was younger and competing/arguing with Bob Dylan about writing songs to change the world. The break for him came after the Democratic Convention in Chicago during 1968 when violent police officers disrupted the Youth International Party protests.

Of course, all of that is pontificating, conjecture, and theorizing. That’s where my mind goes. Wikipedia does not allow for this, which is a good thing. I had to take away everything that I thought about concerning the suit. All that matters in the Wiki-world is that it happened.

This is where the nerves kicked in. If it were paper and the audience was only one person, it wouldn’t have mattered. I can recover from a poor grade. This is different. This is putting something out into the world and saying I have the authority to say this is important information. Who am I to say that? I think the suit is important but does anyone else? If I think it to be substantive does that mean it is? I didn’t know about Phil Ochs before this class but now I feel responsible for writing part of his legacy. That is tremendous pressure.

This assignment was difficult, mainly for the real-world consequences. Its not that I would be embarrassed if someone removed the post, but I felt the burden of deciding what is important about a man’s life. I wasn’t prepared for something like that. I found a new respect for the people who volunteer their time to contribute to Wikipedia. I know now that when I read a post, the person who wrote it had to take on the same burden I felt. Not only do they have to decide what is important, they must argue their stance when challenged. The post I contributed to is probably not the most curated page though. This taught me how to view Wikipedia. If it is a popular topic in the public mindset, the post is probably well crafted and cared for by many people. If it is something more on the periphery of society, then maybe its just some student posting without the full confidence of his/her actions.


Ideas for Phil Ochs’ Wikipedia

I found a few small things while researching Phil Ochs which I believe would be important contributions to his Wikipedia entry. The first item I found may seem minimal but I believe it helps to understand Ochs better. Ochs wrote a memorial to Bruce Lee after Lee’s death in 1973.  This only needs a small mention as it is not the most important writing Ochs penned, but it matters to understanding the man more. Ochs very much romanticized Lee and compared him to the likes of John Wayne and James Dean. His admiration for Lee seemed similar to that of his awe of Elvis Presley. I have not found the full article online yet but I’m still searching. There are copies of the manuscript at the Woody Guthrie Center.

I also read an analysis of the gold suit he wore on the cover of his Greatest Hits album in an issue of Broadside issue #144. There are quotes from his Carnegie Hall appearance explaining what the suit represented to him and why he chose to wear it. The wiki entry for him mentions the suit but does not mention his intentions or what he wanted the suit to represent. The sources for the suit included the Broadside article, the album cover for Greatest Hits and the audio on the live album, Gunfight at Carnegie Hall.. Another source says the suit still exists and now resides at the Woody Guthrie Center.