Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Oh this is so joyous, where Tarantino meets Rowling it's Kill Harry!




Despite the blatantly unfair way we lost that game against Portugal England fans have been praised for their restraint and good behaviour during the Euro championship.

And speaking of the unfairness, The Sun has being doing what it does best, inciting their readers to send death threats to the referee.

For any Americans reading, Turkey is a brutal regime that oppresses it's Kurdish population in many ways. It used to be that if they made it across the border the country shares with Iraq they were tortured and oppressed by Saddam Hussein, which was a bad thing, but if they remained in Turkey they were often treated as badly by the Turkish Government, which no-one seemed to care about. Hardly surprisingly, the US policy towards Turkey used to be silence, now Shrubya is telling the European Union they should let Turkey join. Whilst International Governments often treat Human Rights as an optional extra it's to Europe's credit that they've held fast so far. But of course, the Bush administration doesn't have any interest in human rights and didn't Turkey help out in the War Against Daddy's Enemy Terror?

"There is something that you can do to help the Kurds. While a case appealing against the EU ban on the organisation is being prepared for the European Court of Justice, Kongra-Gel is asking people to join it if they want to work for peace and justice."

MARK THOMAS, New Statesman, 21 June 2004
(Read full text of article attached and below)


*Writing in the New Statesman of 21 June, Mark Thomas supported the call issued by the Kurdish community in the UK and Europe for friends of the Kurds to express support for KONGRA-GEL, the People's Congress of Kurdistan, which was recently proscribed by the European Union as a terrorist organisation.

This decision is not only wrong in law, unfair and oppressive, it attacks fundamental rights of freedom of expression and association in respect of the Kurdish people who have been the subject of widespread state-induced discrimination.

A campaign has been launched to get the ban lifted with prominent people coming forward to declare their willingness to join KONGRA-GEL as associate members. Others are acting as applicants *in* a legal challenge for an appeal that will go before the European Court of Justice.

So far in the UK, Mark Thomas has been joined by Lord Rea, barrister and chair of the Green Party Hugo Charlton and the international human rights lawyer Roger Tompkins.

Tony Benn, Harold Pinter, the Scottish novelist James Kelman and the writer Jonathan Bloch are lending their support to the appeal. Meanwhile, political activist/commentator Boris Kagarlitsky from Russia has declared his support.

It is important that the widest public opposition is expressed to this ban. Were hundreds or indeed thousands of people to come forward in support of KONGRA-GEL then the ban would become unworkable.

The momentum for this initiative has gathered pace following action by a group of French activists including anti-globalisation campaigner Jose Bove.


In March, the European Union decided to add KONGRA-GEL to its list of proscribed terrorist groups, after a similar move by the US in January and a decision ³to freeze assets² of the organisation that the UK took earlier in March. This dismaying news deeply shocked Kurdish community associations across Europe as well as human rights activists working with them who are all aware that it is clear from its programme, aspirations, activities and constitution, that KONGRA-GEL is far removed from what is normally termed a "terrorist organisation". The ban is especially surprising given that it is a new force in Kurdish politics with no history of violence and that it is seeking to campaign by legal means through the political process for the rights of the Kurdish people.

As Leyla Zana, the well-known Kurdish politician who was awarded the Sakharov Peace Prize, stated: "KONGRA-GEL is a democratic, peaceful, people's organisation which defends the democratic rights of Kurds, who live first of all in Turkey, but also in Iran, Syria and Iraq." She went on to point out that its political aims respect the territorial integrity of states and that it *seeks *to play a constructive political role in the democratic process inside Turkey *and* declared that it* is a "human duty to remove KONGRA-GEL from the list of terrorist organisations" to enable it to contribute towards peace in Turkey, the region and the world.

In response to the EU ban, some respected public figures and radical activists in France formally declared themselves members of KONGRA-GEL including Jose Bove, anti-globalisation campaigner and founder of the Peasants' Federation, Bernard Granjon, Honorary President of the World Physicians' Association and Jean Paul Nunez, from the human rights organisation Cimade.

*1. I want to become an associate member of KONGRA-GEL

*2. I support the appeal and I am willing to join KONGRA-GEL were it not designated a 'terrorist' organisation

*3. I associate myself as a supporter with the application to the European Court of Justice to annul the Commission¹s decision to characterise KONGRA-GEL as a 'terrorist' organisation.









I would like to receive more material on KONGRA-GEL


*Please choose one of the above options 1.2.3. with YES or NO and return together with your other details to the following e-mail addresses: and
or post to Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, 44 Ainger Road, London NW3 3AT
tel 020 7586 5892


New Statesman, 21 June, 2004
The UK is selective when it comes to judging a nation¹s human rights record. That¹s why it supports Turkey, with its vital oil interestes, against the Kurds, who have nothing.

For lovers of traditional joke forms I would like to start this column with a traditional gag. 'What's the difference between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher?' Answer; 'A couple of weeks if we're lucky.' Margaret Thatcher has always seen herself as an uber-patriot and so I feel after we lost our match to France in the Euro 2004 Championships the least she could do for her country is die. Few care about how she goes, though some poetic irony, like falling down a disused mineshaft, would be nice.

It is her send off that is of concern. If there were any justice in the world her funeral would take place in the Falklands. The military should take her coffin down to the beach, launch it into the sea and then torpedo it. Admittedly, she hasn't publicly requested such a funeral, but I instinctively feel it's what she would want.

In reality, we will have a huge state funeral with the press lionising her as a great leader, and just as they have with Reagan, airbrushing out the awkward facts: Reagan¹s administration trained and armed the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, the Contra's in Nicaragua and sold arms to America's public enemy number one, Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. From our side of the Atlantic, Thatcher's administration armed Saddam Hussein and Augusto Pinochet and oversaw a shot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland.

It is no surprise that George Bush and Tony Blair admire their predecessors so much, they have continued the policy of selectively judging others' human rights abuses selectively, while ignoring their own. In this 'war against terror' there is only one rule, the terrorists are the ones you can't do business with.

Both Bush and Blair support the most undemocratic regimes so long as they are 'business-friendly'. From Colombia to Indonesia, from Saudi Arabia to China, the US and UK have armed and assisted torturers and murderers. No more so than Turkey, which has consistently used British supplied weapons against the Kurds to deadly effect. Sound familiar anyone? Britain has helped kill so many Kurds that you¹d be forgiven for thinking that Blair probably regards it as a 'country sport' and, once fox hunting is banned, might even allow it here.

In 1994 Layla Zana the democratically elected MP for the pro-Kurdish DEP, was charged for the crime of wearing a headband of the Kurdish colours (red, yellow and green) and taking part of her oath of allegiance in Parliament in Kurdish. For this, she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. An offence and punishment that not even the illegitimate offspring of Blunkett and Saddam could dream.

In 1995, after years of allowing arms sales to the regime, Europe awarded Layla Zana the Sakharov Peace Prize, given to people imprisoned in the cause of peace. It is an odd sort of honour because, to win it, you really do have to be totally up shit creek.

In 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Layla had not received a fair trial and recommended he release.

On 9 June 2004 , Turkey decided to free her and then had the audacity to suggest that this was a milestone in Turkey's reform process.

The repression of the Kurds continues and once again, it is happening with Britain and America's help.

Kongra-Gel (The Kurdistan People's Congress) was formed in 2002, to work democratically and non-violently for the rights of all Kurdish people. On 24 March 2004 Gordon Brown, in a press statement primarily relating to Hamas, announced that the UK would freeze Kongra-Gel¹s assets, as it was a terrorist organisation. When Brown made his decision, had Kongra-Gel committed any terrorist acts? No. Was Kongra-Gel consistently calling for democratic reforms? Yes.

Labour decided to label this organisation as terrorist for two simple reasons. First, the Bush administration has done it. Second, Turkey, which is next door to the destabilised and insurgent Iraq, and has vital oil interests, is a friend - and Turkey wanted it. With Britain and now the EU declaring Kongra-Gel to be a terrorist organisation, Turkey can happily continue persecuting the Kurds under the guise of fighting terror.

However, there is something that you, dear reader, can do to help the Kurds. While a case appealing against the EU ban on the organisation is being prepared for the European Court of Justice, Kongra-Gel is asking people to join it if they want to work for peace and justice.

If you want to work for peace and justice join Kongra-Gel. By merely joining up, at no personal loss or your membership back guaranteed, you can help. How can they enforce a ban when Kongra-Gel could have more members than the Tories have? So go on, join a 'terrorist' group today.

If thousands do this, it will be extremely hard to enforce the ban, when Kongra-Gel might well have a higher membership than the Tory party. Unlike Labour, you won't get a membership card when you join, but at least Kongra-Gel will never invade Iraq.

For information on joining Kongra-Gel e-mail

Pet Shop Boys plan free film gig, though perhaps thankfully it isn't their film gig. The Pet Shop Boys will unveil their latest project - a soundtrack to the 1925 film Battleship Potemkin - at a free show in London's Trafalgar Square.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I've won two tickets for a special preview showing of Fahrenheit 9/11Sunday 4th of July 8pm at UGC Shaftesbury Avenue. So obviously, I need someone to accompany me...

The Diana Memorial Fountain, to go alongside the roads, statues, playgrounds, sports centres, condoms and seatbelts dedicated to her, is ready to open. I have nothing against it, apart from the name. It's a shame that such a nice attraction will be forever sullied by being connected to a stupid pop tart. And what connection has she got to water? If you want a fitting memorial to her, why not name a landmine after her? If you got too close there was a loud bang, you got hit by shrapnel and your life was ruined. Much more appropriate.

(However, the website for the exhibit is much like her. It's only concerned with the press and has no information for the common people.)

Well, that was certainly a novel experience. Yesterday, for the first time in decades, possibly even close to a century, the West did something for the good of the people of Iraq and left. Yeah, I know our troops are still there and the Iraqis now running the show are as friendly to us as Saddam once was, but we have to hope now that with the occupying force no longer quite so in evidence the people of Iraq will turn against the terrorists. However, let's just hope that Iraq doesn't get forgotten and left to rot like Afghanistan. In fact, perhaps the West should return it's attention to sorting out the mess that's it's settling of personal scores in Baghdad has allowed Afghanistan to sink into.

There's something incredibly creepy about this image, not the least of which is the resemblence the girl on the back has to a certain well-known London blogger (cough Pla- cough)

There's a free-to-read chapter from Joan Roughgarden's latest book Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People here.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I don't expect the US administration will let this go without appealing for ever or changing the law to allow themselves, but the US Supreme Court has ruled terror suspects held at Guantanamo can use the US legal system to challenge their detention, though detainees already returned are sceptical whether the inmates will ever find out about their rights.

Something we suspected for a long time, finally made official...

Make up the spare bed Patrick, I'll be coming over at the weekend.

Had a good nights sleep last night, such a relief after the three hours or so that I managed Saturday night/Sunday morning. I was beginning to hallucinate last night, I imagined I was watching Panorama on the BBC and it was a crazy program about how the Catholic Church is lying it's enormous arse off about the dangers of using condoms and how it's screwing up the war against AIDS, especially in Africa and South America. Oh wait... It was a follow-up to this edition from last year.

If the Vatican was restricting itself to just saying "We're hopelessly out of touch, please don't use condoms because they make baby Jesus cry" then I wouldn't mind so much but these fuckers are putting out deliberately flawed 'research' to back up their position and people are listening to them. The program took two-thirds of their time to demolish every claim the Church has made about the dangers of condoms but the final third were case studies in the lives the Church has ruined, the Ugandan wife who's husband has AIDS and who has regular unprotected sex with him because their church has told them that using condoms will send them to hell when they die.

It's shit like this that makes me so angry at the Christian death cult, I don't think it's right that we'll have to wait another few decades before the Catholic Church even starts reluctantly apologising for another fuck up, like they're doing now for abuse committed in the sixties and seventies. The Church lies and people die. Surely the Catholic Church is the one institution with the most innocent blood on it's hands?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The day after Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was released in American cinemas, it was announced yesterday that a festival devoted to films debunking Moore's own work will be staged later this year in Texas.

"On one of our stalls we wanted to know whether gay men actually know where the cl!toris is," says Simon Casson dryly. "So we have a men only booth called Gay Men Confront the C*nt. Inside a nurse will give you a rubber glove and you'll have to find it [on a real-life lady]." - The Pink Paper, 25/06/04.

Gay Shame at Duckie.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Mark Thomas is taking his Nazi/Coca-Cola show to Bogota, Colombia, where in the past Coke have been involved in some unethical activities.

Very, very strange. Shrubya's new campaign video, rather than talking about him or his policies (which would need him to actually have policies), is predictably an attack on John Kerry and his 'Coalition of the Wild-Eyed'. What's raised a few eyebrows is that they've included some rejected ads from MoveOn, ads that were cancelled because they used imagery of Adolf Hitler. I don't think they're implying here that voting for the Democrats is like voting for Hitler (though I'm fairly confident you can find an influential Republican supporter who compares Kerry to Saddam Hussein and then another who compares Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler, so there's a two-step connection) but there's no real sense here that these are 'crazy people' talking. Whether you're a sane, reasonable person, or whether you are a Republican, the end result of this commerical is that it does a fairly good job of trashing Dubya.

It's fairly consistent with current White House policy. "This is not a time for pessimism and rage" says the advert. Short for "This is not a time for asking the President where Saddam Hussein's WMD are, not a time to be asking him about the numbers of American troops killed in Iraq or the much vaster number of Iraqis dead, not a time to be asking him about what happened to those promises that the peoples in Afghanistan and Iraq would be better off once the United States invaded their country, not a time to ask him about his countries isolationist stance (except when they need something), not a time to ask him about his administrations habit of ignoring any international treaty that gets in their way then crying foul when their enemies decide to do the same. You are Free. You are Free to do as we tell you. Go back to sleep America. You are Free. You are Free to do as we tell you. Go back to sleep and vote Bush this November."

We say "Special Relationship", they say "Squeal Piggy!" Blair pleads to US to release remaining UK prisoners in Guantánamo Bay as British legal opinion states, surprise surprise, that planned military tribunals by the US break all internationally agreed standards.

Friday, June 25, 2004

More Chatnanny news. After foolishly jumping on their bandwagon initially New Scientist are now being more cautious. They've apparently been given a demo of the software by 'creator' Jim Wightman, they're not insisting he's a fraud but it was basically nowhere near as good as in the interview that Wightman had originally given them right back at the start. It didn't detect when they tried to pretend to be paedophiles, one of the testers said "There was nothing novel shown or demonstrated in the trial," says Webb. "The system relied on the usual level of tricks to hold a conversation, and as such was shown to be weak in conversation very quickly.". Interestingly Chatnannies links to the New Scientist article and seem to suggest they think it shows them in a good light. They offer that they can give a more complete proof to anyone, anytime, though if you check the blogs I link to here, the last time Wightman said this it ended with him withdrawing his offer and going off in a sulk when the people said how they wanted to test his work.

All the Chatnannies news that's fit to print.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

We woz robbed! But download that Irish song about Engerland here.

Outraged Americans have only 24 hours left to try and block Michael Moore's freedom of speech and the opening of his movie Fahrenheit 9-11. But, as Roger Ebert quotes Goddard "The way to criticize a film is to make another film." Where are the Republican pro-Bush films? Surely it can't be the 'liberal left-wing media' stopping them being made, it's not like Shrubya's supporters are all penniless winos, no matter what they might say when the taxman comes calling.

Not sure about this one. The headline is Gay rights plan defeat in Lords, yet later in the report it implies that it's passed but with a Tory amendment. No other news providers are mentioning it yet, so we'll have to wait and see what happened.

Two trainee police officers have been sacked after they admitted sending homophobic notes to a fellow recruit, Scotland Yard has said. With police recruits being sacked for being homophobic, sexist or rascist, are we going to have any police graduating at all?

Has Egypt been watching the TV reports on the US' behaviour at Abu Ghraib and taking notes? In what may be the first concrete example of the effects of the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal in Iraq, lawyers and human rights groups in Egypt, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East, say that local police are increasingly resorting to new torture tactics similar to those used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The phrase 'major U.S. ally in the Middle East' ensures that if this were true then the US administration aren't going to do anything about Egypt's human rights record, no regime change for them despite evidence of torture or prosecuting people for being gay. Mind you, that's probably giving Dubya ideas.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

This looks like it should be the top movie of 2004, it's Star Wars meets Franka Potente's breakthrough hit, yes it's Run Leia Run!

Downloading goodness from the official site here!

At the moment fake ID cards are 'openly available', I'm sure that when we have proper, Government-sanctioned ID cards there'll be no chance that this would happen.

Huh- Whu-?! I'm back at work. Shit! How did that happen?

Abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan no less egregious than those in Iraq, but fortunately for the US Administration this time there aren't any photos.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

A New York concert promoter has mounted an online campaign to "draft" Bruce Springsteen to headline a rock 'n roll show to upstage the Republican National Convention on the night it nominates President Bush to run for another term.

Iraqi Provisional Authority say "Of course we're going to execute Saddam Hussein when he's found guilty!" So it'll be interesting to see what Tony Blair is going to do now as we've already said we don't think that's acceptible. I suspect we'll put out a statement saying we think it's deplorable and then put in an order for private videos of him being shot.

It's too soon to speculate on the football but equality's coming home: Landmark High Court ruling gives queer couples the same rights as hets.

"In fact, I have been shot at, insulted, really disintegrated- OWW! Stop poking me!"
"That's Arthur Dent, he's from earth but he's been stranded in your prehistoric era for a while."
"Islington has that effect on people, even two million years ago."
"Where are we going?"
"We're going to confront an ancient nightmare of the universe."
"And where are you going to drop us off?"

I've mentioned it before, but now the new radio series of The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy has it's own webpage. Go lookit. Then set your alarms for September.

"Here I am, brain the size of a- oh never mind..."

Monday, June 21, 2004

Officials from the tiny Balkan nation of Macedonia stepped forward last month to admit that the government had lured seven innocent South Asian immigrants to Macedonia, gunned them down and claimed they were al Qaeda terrorists plotting to attack the U.S. Embassy -- all to prove Macedonia's worth to the U.S.-led war on terror.

"It was a monstrous fabrication to get the attention of the international community," says Macedonian Interior Ministry spokeswoman Miryana Kontevska.

Are UK troops in Iraq having a depravity contest with their US allies? UK troops accused of mutilating Iraqi bodies. Most certificates list wounds that would seem consistent with a fierce firefight that is known to have taken place on the afternoon of May 14 on the Amara-Basra highway outside Majar al Kabir... Haider al Lami, 21, also a casual labourer, had "several bullet injuries to the body, with mutilation of g£nitali@". His p£ni$ had been "severed"... Another, Ali al Jemindari, 37, had "several bullet injuries in head, face and the body, with slash marks on the neck. The right arm has been severed at the shoulder. There is a large opening in the right cheek and the removal by gouging of the right eye."

Now, why on earth would the people in Iraq not want us there?!

Tony Blair yesterday promised a slow burn campaign over the next 18 months to expose what he called the Eurosceptic myths surrounding the reality of the new European constitution agreed by the 25 EU members at the weekend.

This will be worth staying up for, because if Blair were to live up to his word on this he'll be fighting a section of society he hasn't dared to threaten yet. He's shown in the battle on tuition fees and waybackwhen on Clause 4 that he's happy to fight his party. In the lead-up to invading Iraq he was happy to argue with the public and get trounced every time. But if he wants to win a referendum he's going to have to fight the Murdoch papers, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, some of which are happy to use dirty tricks and false arguments whenever they feel like it. The Murdoch papers were instrumental in persuading the their massive conservative readership that New Labour were safe to vote for. But they've always sniped at his Europhillic tendencies, especially at the time when 'Old' Europe was attacking him over the war. He also has the post-Thatcher years in the Conservative government when Europe became the main cause of their disintegration when the Eurosceptics had most of the running and the seven years of his Government where Europe has been conspicuously not much discussed. There's also going to be a general election in the next eighteen months.

This is a battle that Blair needs to win but I'm not sure he can. It's also not going to make me change my vote for him at the General Election.

Hum. I've heard any number of boots involving Chicks On Speed's cover of Wordy Rappinghood but I still haven't got to hear their original version of it. Reminds me of someone who said they'd first heard Pink's Get The Party Started double-speed in a boot, when they finally heard the original track they were surprised by how slow it was...

one of the rereleased Scissor Sisters Laura singles has a 'Riton Rerub' of the original. Are the cool kids calling remixes rerubs now, or is there some fundamental difference?

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Here's an equation for you:

An episode of The West Wing called Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail + reading New X-Men #146= ODT. Check 'New Map Resources' on the left-hand side of the screen. I especially like 'McArthur's Universal Corrective Map' and the 'Buckminster Fuller Institute Map'. At the very least I think people in the west should see a Peters map of the world and get cut down to size.

You see, if Skynet had sent out a cutesy Flash animation before beginning it's reign of terror John Connor wouldn't have been able to get the human resistance off the ground. Robots Are Our Friends.

The Naughty-Places-Close-to-You Locator. Hours of purile fun. [via B3ta]

Do you need a wife killed? Then you need this drycleaners.

Let's make it clear, Garry Mann is a fucknut. However, right now I'd happily support him if he wanted to sue David Blunkett for threatening behaviour. "I'm working very hard on this because I haven't given up on the idea that we're going to nail this individual," the home secretary said. Intemperate much?

My reaction to football is complicated and I've realised that I'm just footballfanaphobic, or some form of rascism towards fans of the game. Whenever we come round to a national competition I tend to pray for England's speedy departure, partly becuse we aren't going to win anything ever and the rather farcical nature of support in some sections of the media just irritates me. But I also want it, I realise, because I tend to associate the 'football fan' with the large foreheaded beer-bellied violent slobs that the news tends to use on any story about fan disruption. For me, the football fan isn't any of my friends, it's the people I do my best to avoid in the street, the ones that tend to hassle me when I'm least able to take it. There are those who go just for the fighting. There are those that go for the football and the fighting. And I find I want to destroy their beautiful game and piss sulphur on the remains as my revenge on them. It's unreasonable of me I know and i don't know where this twisting happened but there it is.

And I've just heard an excellent track on The Remix, 'Engerland You're Shit But You Don't Know it', an irish dejay covering The Streets track, with the lyrics changed to reflect his opinions on the current England squad. A thing of joy.

Got the reissued Scissor Sisters Laura single with the new video. The oh-so-subtle Del presenting Jake with a cock on a platter. Or the joyous third section with Baby Daddy as a priest and Jake as a zombie straight from Live and Let Die. Flux has an MP3 of them covering Franz Ferdinand's Take Them Out. And as for FF, I think I'm slowly coming round to like them. Give me until Christmas and I'll be there I think.

Just had a visit from the parents for the celebration of the Day of our Fathers. We dodged the showers to go out for a meal, to avoid having to put any thought into Mothers and Fathers Day presents (I have enough difficulty withe their birthdays and Christmas) I just pay for a meal. I'm nearly at the end of my holiday now, back to work on wednesday. Hopefully it'll stay dry tomorrow so I can do another walk in town, tuesday it's clothes shopping time.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Went to the Victoria and Albert Museum today to check out the Sounds in Spaces exhibition. You put on one of the museum's headsets and follow a map, ten artists have created audio pieces based on fourteen places, their favouritest places in the whole museum apparently. Each piece is on average three to four minutes long, with a few longer, the idea being you look at the items that inspired their works.

Hmmm, as with any of these pot luck things it's much of a mixed bag. The first piece is a track for the Raphael Cartoons gallery by Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins and today was a really bad day to find I've completely gone of her nonsensical lyricless warbling. Like the Patrician and mimes, I want to hang her upside down from a wall opposite a sign saying 'learn the words'.

But this is my thing. When people say something inspired a piece of work I often can't see how, unless they make it explicit themselves. Which is fair enough, the few times I've turned an idea into a story the end result has scarce relation to the founding idea, when you're converting image -> thought -> music it's travelling further. Faultline's three pieces for the Sculpture Gallery are excellent (though I only got to hear two of them, couldn't find the last piece) but when in the accompanying booklet he talks about his music being inspired by the idea of the statues talking to one another I just couldn't see it.

For me the pieces that worked best were the strictly liminal pieces, David Byrne and Leila both submitted three and two pieces respectively that weren't for specific galleries or pieces, but for the inbetween places, the corridors that linked one location with another. One of Byrne's pieces was for the V&A's listed toilets, while one of Leila's tracks were for the top of stairs, split between one gallery below and another above.

We have to assume that everyone involved was honest of course, that they made these pieces for the show, Roots Manuva submitted a track like Massive Attack meets reggae which didn't really have any relevence beyond the title to their chosen location. Only the spoken word pieces by Jeremy Deller and Gillian Wearing could be definitely made up for this exhibition, unless they make a habit of doing spoken word pieces about the V&A just for the hell of it. But there again, Wearing's piece was an interview with a V&A employee about how a particular room reminded him of his childhood school, so therefore wasn't really about this room but the room at his school, the room was noticeable by it's absence. Can you relate to a place by removing it? Or, as we all live in our minds, is there no real difference between the room I was sitting in, the room this guy was talking about, and the schoolroom of his childhood?

This has come out a lot harsher than I intended. It's not bad and helped me see bits of the V&A I hadn't yet come across. Whether it would encourage the more seasoned visitor to look at the museum anew I couldn't say, but for a £5 ticket and a £20 deposit for the equipment it's a different way to engage with the artifacts. Following the route around the museum will certainly keep you fit if nothing else.

This was also the first time I've seen the V&A's Glass Room, three guesses what they've got in there. The beautiful sparkly things quotient was high, especially for the glass staircase, which I have pictures of below...

Oooh, I want!

I REALLY want!

I've been having a look at No Innocent Bystanders. You should too, it's brilliant.

News me!

Blair vows to fight on - Desperate last stand imminent.

J.K. Rowling ends Harry Potter series after discovering boys.

Big Brother wins contract for Iraqi conflict resolution.

A serving senior US intelligence officer is about to release an anonymous book condemning his Government's handling of The War Against Terror. It's hard to see what spin the White House could seriously put on this, but their main advantage seems to be that not enough people in the United States care when they're told their President has fucked things up.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Just remember, it's The Guardian that has a 'corrections and clarifications' column... Mix-up in The Times story/photo department.

A few idle comic-related comments, based on what I've been reading this afternoon.

Seaguy #2 of 3: The Wasps of Atlantis

Does Grant Morrison even need to pitch any more? I assume he just phones Vertigo and says "Hi, it's Grant, I have a comic script here" and they say "have some cash". Seaguy isn't bad, it's even fun, but I don't believe that it would have been accepted if it hadn't come from a name.

Seaguy and his water-phobic aquatic pal embark on their mission to return the strange creature Xoo to it's people. Then their mission is to get chocolate from the South Pole. Then it's to retun Xoo to it's people again. Then it's to find Atlantis. Then...

We're two thirds of the way through this series and I still don't really understand why it exists. It seems to be meaningless throwaway fun in the mold of Kill Your Boyfriend or Sebastian O but really should have been a one-shot like the former than a 3-parter like the latter. Annoyingly Morrison throws lots of ideas into his scripts which seem to confuse people into thinking there's more depth than there is (look at the discussion thread for the first issue on Barbelith for an example of us reading tons of meaning into something where it seems there is no meaning), mind control through food stuffs, pacification of the populace, dark chocolate at the South Pole. I think Seaguy's going to wake up next issue as this all has the strange non-logic of a dream.

Artwork is by Cameron Stewart. It's about time he got his shot at the big time after doing some emergency repair work for the final Invisibles trade and some work in Catwoman. His style certainly seems ideal to illustrate Morrison's crazy work. This guy needs more work now!

Y, The Last Man #23: Widow's Pass Part Three

This title does seem to have gone off the boil in the last few months. Possibly as the story is a one or two issue piece inflated to give writer Brian Vaughan a chance to do lots of character work. But somehow, despite the fact we now know what Doctor Mann was doing if not exactly why, and that she fancies Agent 355, and that Yorick shot the militia girl but lies about it to the pair of them, this title doesn't have the zing of a year ago. Despite Vaughan's efforts the female militia group that have been our heroes problem for the last three issues never seemed any more than half a dozen idiots with guns, hopefully things will improve again when they get back on the road.

We have our astronaut pals having success having a male baby, despite there being a plague which has killed off every other male except Yorick, Y's bonkers sister Hero on his trail and the Setauket Ring, about whom we know even less than the Culper Ring, which wasn't much to start with. With issue 25 around the corner there's surely time to get these storylines moving.

Libraries, where you can access the Internet and borrow books, CDs, tapes, DVDs and tools? This actually sounds like a good idea and one I might bring up at the next staff meeting when I want to pretend I've been paying attention. I'm not convinced about people returning tools in good time or in good condition, we've had problems with DVD stock being pinched in great quantity, I must admit I'd be worried that something similar would happen here, but it's worth thinking about. [via BoingBoing]

I'm sitting in my room watching two plump pigeons having sex on the fence at the end of my garden. They're doing it just to annoy me I swear.

But we've just had Elastica and the KLF on The Amp on telly, so I'm not letting it get to me.

At all.

In any way.

Fucking pigeons.

Where's my catapult?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was a big sack of disappointing yesterday afternoon.

Visually the film looked stunning, with the highest production values yet. From what I can remember of the other films this year Hogwarts looked vastly different, now halfway up the side of a mountain, every scene had steps or stairs in, practically no scene was done on the flat once back at the school. It was reminiscent of the temple at the end of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, while most of the rest of the film seemed transposed to the Rivendell set from LotR. The largely unthreatening Dementors looked like the Ringwraiths from Fellowship of the Ring that had been put on a rack.

The actors covered the range, but the keyword this year was 'underused'. The film harked back to the first movie, where the amount of information that it was judged necessary to impart to the viewer meant that there was no sense given that this was a story that took part over a year of Harry's life, instead we were given a number of scenes, Harry inflates his aunty, The Knight Bus, arriving at Diagon Alley, back at school, the Boggart lesson... This bodes ill for films four and five, considering the sizes of the books in question.

But all the adult cast had little more than brief cameo roles, Alan Rickman doing little more than passing through a few times to be malevolent at Harry. Gary Oldman as Sirius Black was especially disappointing, phoning his performance in while coming by to collect his cheque. For all her faults as a writer, in the book J.K. Rowling really manages to generate a sense of menace as Harry waits all year to confront the man he thinks betrayed his parents to their deaths. This film is too busy so we get none of that here and Oldman's lacklustre performance doesn't make up for it.

On the complete opposite end of the scale David Thewlis is the star of the show as Professor Lupin, really making the most of his butchered screentime. What wasn't the most dynamic or even interesting of characters in the book comes out here as someone of some complexity, his affection for Harry, his sadness at the loss of Harry's parents, his anger at Sirius and his own affliction. Each of the Harry Potter films have the 'lump in the throat' moment, in the first film it's when Harry sees his dead parents in the Wishing Mirror, in this it's almost every scene with Harry and Lupin, either when the teacher talks about Harry's parents or at the end when he reveals he's having to leave the school. Elsewhere Plums has rightly said that this film uses werewolves as a metaphor for queerness, in that last scene Lupin never actually says what it is about him that scares people (he doesn't actually have to as Harry knows full well) but there was a real emotional relevence there for watchers of a certain ilk.

Of our three main heroes, Rupert Grint seemed to spend the movie actually going through puberty, I swear the movie ends with the sound of his plums dropping. He certainly doesn't get to do much else. Daniel Radcliffe shows off his limitations as Harry, whilst he's quite able to do 'mischievous' and 'angry' he's just completely unable to do 'upset', when he finds out that Sirius Black betrayed his parents to their death the script calls for sobbing and he looks like he's just heard his favourite indie band aren't playing at Glastonbury after all. Would it have been too much to ask him to chop some onions up before that scene? Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy fares even worse. While he's not the most two-dimensional of characters in the books in this film he doesn't even reach one-dimensionality, turning up in several scenes to say something mean, be beaten up in a variety of ways by our heroes and then run away crying. I actually feel sorry for him when Hermione punches him and I resent that. Our heroes have almost become the school bullies. Emma Watson is outstanding as Hermione, confidently leading Harry to save the day. He may be the Boy Who Lived but she's the Girl Who Thinks and uncomplainingly does all the work so Harry can get all the credit.

The biggest laugh of the film was for the walk-on (well, sit-in) appearence of Ian Brown as a wizard. The climactic scenes are a bit of a mess too, not ruined but careless. How does Harry know a secret passage under the Whomping Willow leads into the Shrieking Shack? And without explaining that his father was an Animagus why does Harry see a stagg and think his father came to save him and Sirius? Second time around why do we not see him conjure a Patronus stagg when we see things from his point of view? Seems as though when the script was written the Animagus plot was dropped except for the minimum needed to explain Peter Pettigrew but it was decided to have the Patronus stagg first time round to satisfy the book fans.

And some adult moments for the grown-ups? Opening the film with Harry 'playing with his wand' under the bed covers, looking at books? That'll do. And for slashtastic action, look very closely at the scene when draco and Harry meet for the first time in the film. Draco is so sizing Harry up and thinking 'my but you've grown Potter', I swear. They so need their own room in the Slytherin dungeons.

In summary, pretty to look at but otherwise largely disappointing. So maybe Harry Potter will be like Star Trek movies, each odd-numbered episode is shit.

Considering what they got up to with prisoners that it was known the US had, you have to wonder what was going to happen to the Iraqi prisoner for which Rumsfeld ordered a secret detention.

Yet, Bush and Blair continue to insist, in the face of all the evidence, that there were links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida. Just think what trouble they'd be in if they had credible opposition willing to take them on over this.

"I'm a little bit wooogh, a little bit waaaah, I'm a geezer, I'll knick anything me!"

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Fahrenheit 9-11 gets 9th July release in UK. Hmmm, it'll be going head-to-head with Shrek 2 then. Choices, choices.

Why is this only coming out now? Close links between the UKIP and BNP/Holocaust deniers.

No link between Al Qaida and Iraq, every time Bush or any of his staff say there is, they are lying. So, is Dubya going to back down, or is he going to ignore the results of the Commission set up at his order to investigate. I suspect that as Shrubya spent yesterday visiting troops and telling them how wonderful he thinks they are, he's hoping that that would be what was on the news, not some stuffy old Commission.

Brandon's Arms is asking for donations to help Brandon Maxfield buy the gun manufacturers that made the gun that shot him, turning him into a quadriplegic at the age of seven. The company that made the guns was found liable in court but instead have declared bankruptcy while trying to reorganise itself to be run by the wife of the original owner. More details here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Another hot day in old London town. Met up with Laura in Soho Square for drinks and a chat in the evening, made the mistake of buying bottles of Smirnoff Ice at the offie, I was a humiliating failure at getting the tops off until a nice passing North European effortlessly leavered them off with my doorkey. From now on I'm carrying a bottle opener wherever I go.

Earlier in the day I took a walk through the Royal Parks, starting at Westminster, through Saint James Park, then along to Green Park, across the road to Hyde Park, along the banks of the Serpentine then into Kensington Gardens. At Hyde Park Corner I came across the Australian War Memorial for those who gave their lives in the two World Wars. It's strangely tucked away, I doubt it could be seen from the road but it's very nicely done. As you approach you first see in large letters the countries in which they operated, closer still and the home towns of the servicemen make up those foreign fields, like one of those trick photos.

Melanie Phillips (who apparently is not Islamaphobic, it's just that every Muslim in the world wants to kill us), wants to know why this report about Saddam Hussein's WMD being smuggled out of Iraq before the war isn't being trumpeted as proof that he had them. As a mistress of using dodgy evidence when she uses it at all, Ms. Phillips might like to read this article, which explains that the World Tribune rates even lower than her favoured stamping ground of the Daily Mail as a legitimate news source.

Do I still have to point these out individually any more? It's Terry Jones' latest column in The Guardian, Go read.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dear God, this is one of the scariest pictures of Tony Blair I've seen in a while...

He sees you when you're sleeping.

[via The BBC, 'you may find some of these images produce a strong reaction in your blood and guts'.]

Overstating the case much? A 15-year-old girl has lost her High Court battle to wear a style of Islamic dress to school.

Shabina's lawyer Yvonne Spencer said her client was devastated and would not be returning to Denbigh school. "The family feels this decision doesn't help integrate Muslims within our society," she said.

Yep, that's right, multiculturalism is failing in Britain because one girl doesn't get to wear the clothes she wants to. Having said that, I can't find any news report that really justifies the school's banning her except on vague 'health and safety' grounds, the Independent tries it's best with Some Muslim girls might be regarded as "better Muslims" than others. But as the BBC report points out, the school has an 80% Muslim population, no-one else has apparently had any problems with the uniform code and it was instigated (according to a report when this case started but not referred to here) after checking with local mosques and religious experts as to what would be acceptible. So probably the best way to solve this would be to call all of them idiots and move on from there.

The head of the Commission for Racial Equality joins the chorus of protest and concern over ID Cards. Gee, soon there's going to be no-one backing it at all except the imaginary voices in Shiteyes Blunkett's head.

There's some interesting information about our new UK Independence Party MEPs here. People who have retired from other jobs, all white and male, with suspected links to the BNP and far-right groups such as French fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen and poor attendence and voting records. At least one of them has a drinking problem and Robert Kilroy-Silk has been known to have a vicious temper and lashed out at times.

All of which means they aren't any kind of alternative but just like most other British politicians.

Battling the propaganda of the big music labels over filesharing, check out Movies For Music.

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Remember this? Well, OFCOM censure Fox News for three failings in that piece: failing to honour the "respect for truth" rule; failing to give the BBC an opportunity to respond; and failing to apply the rule that says, in a personal view section, "opinions expressed must not rest upon false evidence".

Of course it doesn't matter, an itty-bitty British regulator is not going to affect how an American news company presents news to thick people who don't know the truth of what has or hasn't actually happened in Iraq. Fox will not have to pay any fines, make any on-air apology or be prevented in any way from broadcasting in Britain. Sadly,

the Fox News Network was not forced to pay up for its blatant anti-BBCism before and during (and after) the Iraq war. A frothing at the mouth anti-BBCism that was obsessive, irrational and dishonest...

And so on.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I don't know, maybe it's just British TV, but there seems to be nary a squeek out of the Democrats in America over recent developments in the Bush/Blair plan to replace Allied troops being killed by Iraqis, thereby turning an International War into a Civil one. Osama Bin Laden seems to have a busier social calender than John Kerry and makes more pronouncements. Is Kerry hoping the American people will forget him so he can change his name on the ballot paper to 'George X. Bush'? Never mind WMD, we need to send the UN into the United States to see if they can find any proof of official opposition to Dubya, rather than just at the level of the people in the country.

Anyway, there are two probabilities for what could happen between now and polling day. The CIA warned that another terrorist attack by Al Qaeda was likely, they'd like to stop it but Dick Cheney had told them to stand down as he and George W. Reagan wanted fresh corpses to ride to victory on.

The other is that Bush and his cronies will stage something spectacular to fool people into thinking that he has some control of what is going on. So, if you'd like to vote as to what exactly you think is going to happen between now and polling day, check out October Surprise and put your metaphorical cross in the box. My moeny is on WMD being 'discovered' in Iraq, or a possible capture of Bin Laden. Could well have happened already, we haven't heard anything from him recently and I would have expected at the very least his opinion to the new Kelis album.

Anyway, I'm on holiday. Plums came up on Friday night while I was still a little zonked from working on polling day. What can I say about that? The truth is that touching democracy at any point is essentially a very dull process. I woke up at 4:30 am after, thankfully, a pretty good night's sleep. 5:30 am I was up. At the polling station for 6:15. We had everything set up and ready to go for the start of the poll at 7:00. There was little more than a trickle of voters for most of the day, between the polls opening and about 4:00 pm we averaged twenty or thirty people per hour. But as we started to get the traditional boost of people voting on their way home from work it just took off. We had an average of about eighty to one hundred people per hour from about 5:00 pm to polls closing at 10:00 pm, and even a couple of people filling in their ballots at close of play. I've been working on each of the elections since the general election in 2001 and we've never had anything like this. We had queues of up to a dozen people waiting to collect their ballot papers, while all the voting booths were full of people filling theirs in. The main reason for this was that we had lots of families, mainly ethnic minority families coming in all together, granddad and grandma, mum and dad and the kids. We were ticking off everyone at one address off at once, which we've hardly ever done before.

The perception I got was that people at my station weren't coming to vote on Europe, but instead registering their strong disapproval of the War in Iraq. I did wonder whether Ken Livingstone's return to Labour earlier in the year would cost him the mayorship if there was blanket voting against anything with the Labour badge on it but thankfully this wasn't the case. I especially didn't want Tory Stephen Norris to win as he'd promised to scrap Congestion Charges, one of the few successes of Livingstone's first term. By the time we get to the next election they will hopefully be such a part of life that no candidate will be pledging to scrap them.

But the bizarrest result of the whole thing is the success of the UK Independence Party in the European elections, I know it's said that Guy Fawkes was the only man to enter the Houses of Parliament with honest intentions but it's depressing that a party with nothing but a negative agenda, with a figurehead who, in Kilroy-Silk seems to be quite unapologetically racist and xenophobic, should get the votes it did. However, seeing as the media has been pushing a steady diet of Europhobic rubbish for the last decade, is it surprising? Tony Blair has some responsibility for this mess, as the lack of a convincing fightback from the supposedly Europhillic Labour government is a sign of a capitulation to the Murdoch press. Tony is happy to fight his own backbenchers over tuition fees or the British public over the need for attacking Iraq, but he's not willing to fight the Murdoch press over the need for Britain to play a positive role in Europe.

Anyway, on Saturday Plums and I visited The Foundry for the Mark Thomas Coca-Cola Exhibition, when the surly barman could find the key for the door downstairs. It's only a small thing, probably fifty posters max, so you can work your way around in about ten minutes. But fun, if you happen to be in the area.

Sunday was a Barbelith picnic in Brockwell Park in South London. The weather was lovely and the company pleasant, special mention must go to POTUS for giving us t-shirts with the legend 'Say Bollocks to Flamingoes' (an in-joke based around another Barbeloids' supposed fear of the birds). It would have been even nicer if I hadn't drunk far too much wine and ended up being violently ill and having to be seen on to a train back to Victoria, with some unpleasantness along the way. I fell asleep on the Underground coming home and ended up several stops past my home station and having to turn round and come back. Was exhausted when I got home and tumbled straight in to bed, so had a raging hangover this morning and spent the day recovering. Put my cheque for doing the polls in to the bank and did the shopping but otherwise stayed in the shade.

My plans for the rest of the week are fairly fluid. I intend to do a couple of walks in town and will be meeting up with Laura for drinks, and probably going to the cinema to see the current Harry Potter film. Next Sunday is Fathers Day, so I'll be having the parentals up for a meal to celebrate and there's still the LINKED walk to finish.

I've added a couple of new blogs to the sidebar there, The Town Planner is City of Sound and The Zionist Watcher is Jews Sans Frontieres, two excellent blogs which I should have added ages ago and recommend thoroughly.

Margaret Thatcher's Tribute to Ronnie Reagan.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Stop me if you've heard this...

One sunny day in 2005 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The old man said, "Okay" and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine again told the man, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here." The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it."

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow."

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Went to the Nazi Coca-Cola exhibition today. More later, but here are someone else's pictures of setting up the show the other day.

The Bavarian Illuminati. Fnord.
Power for Power's Sake.

Which Illuminati are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, June 11, 2004

I've just tripped over myself on the Internet. Years ago I used to review stuff for Epinions, losing interest when they changed it so you couldn't add items to their database, meaning that most of the stuff I wanted to review they didn't have. Anyway, flicking through my mostly awful reviews, I came across the following review of Head Music by Suede which I must admit I think is a fairly good bit of writing, although I assume from the opening paragraph I'd started writing it after reading the first few issues of The Invisibles or Kill Your Boyfriend.

Imagine, two kids on a subway train with the whole seat to themselves. They look kinda like Posh and Becks as teenagers except one look and it's clear they both possess above-room-temperature IQs, she's got the intelligence of a Rhodes scholar but the smarts to know that that's just a joke, he can plot the velocity needed to escape the earth's pull in a second but his mind's already in outer space. They kiss long and deep as, in a predictable phallic moment, the train emerges from the tunnel and across a long narrow bridge. They look out of the window and see The City, gleaming metal towers amid a sea of diamond blue. This is what they're journeying to, what they've sold their lives away for, the whole squalid mess of them all for this one night of bliss. For a moment their irony baffles fail and their eyes open wide in wonder at it's beauty. "Cool..." says the boy when he can trust himself to speak. "Yeah..." agrees the girl, then pulls a pistol from her tights. "Let's blow it all up!" The boy grins and necks a pill that won't be invented again for another seven years. And he begins the mantra that brings him sex and power... "We've got a love that's as cold as stone..." And this is what Suede Mark Two should sound like.

This was going to be so easy. I figured I could write a review slagging this album off before I'd even finished listening to it, because the singles, with the exception of the first one and album opener, Electricity were so unbearably awful. I mean, anyone that can get up on stage and sing 'She lives in a house, she's stupid as a mouse' with a straight face has obviously left the path of glory and gone onto the path of 'Landlord, Charlie for me and my friends!' instead. Elephant man is a ghastly folly, Suede-do-Oasis-do-Slade for God's sake and doesn't do little Dicky any favours if he's trying to prove that he's not just the Butler's replacement.

But the council for the defense will retalliate with Down, this album's equivelent of Picnic by the Motorway or Europe is our Playground.

Sonically Head Music is trying to do Dog Man Star with less guitars and more keyboards. It gets the mood right at times, but fails due to Brett's tendency, like most of his Brit-pop peers, to now write about what other people are doing rather than participating in it himself, Suede mark One was all about wearing your sisters clothes and swallowing those strange pills you found under her bed, Suede mark Two is wearing sensible shoes and nursing your drink in the corner, watching the bright young things, the Rich little Poor Girls, through bitter eyes. If you dislike Brett's love of repetition in songs, Head Music will have you clawing out your ears in no time. The sleeve design meanwhile is basically Coming Up II- The Saga Continues, two people listening to music on headphones, psychedelically coloured. And possibly to try and deflect attention from the lyrics (more on which later) they have been scrawled as untidily as possible in order to make it impossible to read what Brett is singing.

Still, on with the show. With a sound like a trumpet farting Richard Oakes guitar launches us into Electricity, basically Trash off Coming Up with pylons instead of rubbish bins. There's nothing here seasoned fans won't have heard before, but it's done with such grace and verve that it's difficult to hate it. After such a bold start Suede obligingly shoot themselves in the foot (feet?) with Savoir Faire. While the tune is decent this is basically every other b-side song that Brett's been writing since Bernard Butler left, Sadie, Duchess etc. I've already mentioned the 'house/mouse' couplet, I'd forgotten 'She's got everything she needs, she's got pretty pretty feet.' For the love of Glod!

Simon Gilbert's drums launch us into Can't Get Enough, followed closely behind by a brace of 'woo-hoo's that were left over from recording She on the last album. While the sound is unmistakably Noo Suede there are hints of the old school; 'I feel real like a man, like a woman, like a woman, like a man' and the chorus rocks satisfyingly, as if to prove to us that the band hasn't forgotten where it came from. Not quite.

With Everything Will Flow it's ballad time, it starts off with pleasant synthesised tones which sound vaguely Indian. Then we're in to territory more or less unvisited since b-side Europe is our Playground, as Brett laments life passing before his eyes, as he lays back, feeling apart and alienated from it. 'The lovers kissed with an openness... The cars parked in the hypermarket...' This is somehow the essence of this new brand of Suede, yet it slips past them as if they are not truly aware of it themselves.

The true centre of Head Music is track 5, Down. Both lyrically and musically simple, it is one of the few times when Brett's penchant for repeating an idea works to great effect. When he sings 'There's a sadness in your eyes and there's a blankness in your smile' it's like the good old times, when he captured hearts as he strutted on stage, singing the songs that told the truths of the girls, boygirls, girlboys and boys. And Richard makes the guitar sing as well in a beautiful instrumental. The song closes in the rock equivelent of the end of Holst's 'Planet Suite' (pretentious, moi?) as the chorus rises into infinity. The repitition of the first line after that is unnecessary. When I first heard Blur's The Great Escape I felt they'd made an error by putting what should have been the last song on the album The Universal, in the middle of it. I feel similarly about Down, but we'll come to the final track later.

The mood is them promptly spoiled by the cold dog nose that is She's in Fashion, an adequate tune swamped by lyrics that sound like they were written in ten minutes involving more trite and nonsensical rhymes, how many cigarette-shaped women can you name? It basically sounds like a song that was recorded for Coming Up, wisely left off of that album then unwisely dug up, zombie-like, for this one. Asbestos sounds like an old song as well, only good, though I doubt anyone knowingly listens or ever has listened to Amazulu. While Neil fiddles with a frequency generator in the background the rest of the band are again revisiting the terrain of their b-sides album, Sci-fi Lullabies for a slow song about teenage sex, schoolgirls getting off with schoolboys. It sounds nice but leaves one a little cold, it doesn't really manage to engage.

Title track Head Music starts out like a raid on the BBC Sound Effects Library but after this credibility-scything start they manage to stumble into a decent little tune, 'Give me head, give me head, give me head music instead', oh the cheeky little scamps, though the follow on line of 'it's all in the mind' does bring mood-spoiling rememberences of Madness' title song.

What defense Richard Oakes can offer for Elephant Man I would like to hear, starting off like an angry bee, it then plods along like the titular animal, with Brett trying to sound threatening singing lines like 'we come rock and rolling into town', sounding like they come into town in a collection of tin cans. The smooth production values thus far desert them and they sound like they recorded the song in the broom cupboard. I suggest night-classes for Richard in 'How to ROCK!', this song is as deformed as the title would suggest.

Desperate to regain credibility next up is Hi-Fi. When asked what direction their music was going post-Coming Up the Suede boys pointed to the cover they did of Noel Coward's Poor Little Rich Girl (worth seeking out BTW) and it's most in evidence here, 'Slipping through the city' as though coated in Vaseline Hi-Fi is cold, dispassionate and utterly brilliant. Although the lyrics are fairly standard for Brett when he makes the effort, the sound of the song is probably the furthest away from their standard sound. Indian Strings is a return to more familiar territory, unremarkable and swathed in strings that sound suspiciously English String Quartet to me.

He's Gone has Brett doing his best Bowie impression during the verses. It's another slow song, the big finish, what should be a weepie about the aftermath of a breakup, where the emotion has drained away and a numbness remains, so the fact that he's gone 'feels like the words to a song'. Although it is a little moving, the numbness seems to infect the band and they seem suddenly unsure of what direction to take this, so they are forced to resort to fiddling about with the tone on Richard's guitar to take them to the fade out.

Crack in the Union Jack is Brett's bizarre decision to get political on us, with an acoustic guitar in best Unplugged style, yet it's such a feeble effort, more akin to a kid running in to a room, shouting something and running out again. It's so slight you wonder why he bothered. Chuck D has nothing to worry about I think. As for what it's about, I think it's Brett realising that things are not perfect in the country. As astonishing revelations go, it's hardly up there with Paul on the road to Damascus. Thanks for joining us Brett. If it had been swapped with Down, the album could have ended on a better note and not left a sour taste in the mouth.

So, what have we learned today children? On the whole, the best bits of Head Music sound like what Suede have done before, the bad bits like stuff they'll hopefully never do again. A lack of inventiveness might be seen as a liability to other bands, with their back catalogue it's a boon to Suede. An uneven album at best, there seems to be a schizophrenia at work, forcing them from heart-stopping beauty to clod-hopping stupidity and back again. Hopefully they can seek treatment before they return to the studio for the next album, the girl with the gun in her head and the boy with the hungry heart deserve more than this.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Should the UK legalise cannabis?

In other news, tired and emotional, but in a good way. 'People have the power' indeed.

Gone polling.

Vote Bush/Zombie Reagan 2004.

Will Zombie Reagan require the brains of the living to feast on?

Yes. However, enough Young Republicans have volunteered to donate the ones they aren't using that this will not be an issue.

[via Boing Boing]

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

June 30th Protests

The supposed transfer of authority in occupied Iraq on June 30 is fast approaching. It is already clear that this will be a farce.

First, those politicians to whom power is supposed to be transferred have no mandate at all from the Iraqi people. They have, in fact, been hand-picked by the Anglo-American occupiers.

Second, the Prime Minister chosen by Washington is a long-standing CIA agent.

Third, and most important, the USA (and Britain) will retain effective power in Iraq even after the "hand-over". The US military will remain answerable to no-one, and the new Iraqi authorities will lack proper power over security, legislation and finance.

The Stop the War Coalition continues to demand a full military withdrawal from Iraq and the transfer of real sovereignty to those who genuinely represent the Iraqi people.

We therefore believe there should be a day of action in Britain on June 30 by the anti-war movement, to protest at this undemocratic farce. We would like to see symbolic protests in every community in support of the following demands:

- End to the occupation

- Iraq for the Iraqis

- Bring the troops home now

Where possible, these should be evening protests, to coincide with the actual "transfer" at midnight in Iraq, which is 9pm o'clock here.

In London, the Coalition will be organising a protest in Parliament Square from 6pm to 9pm.

Leaflets and posters will be available from the office.

Stop the War Coalition.

I've always thought the US Presidency was too important a post to leave to US inhabitants for and it seems others agree, so for non-American citizens only, it's The US Election For The Rest of The World. So far the vote is mainly going Kerry and Nader's way, though Bush is doing well with 100% of the vote in countries where only one or two people have voted.

Aaah insomnia my old adversary, we meet again...

The Government's own 'information watchdog' is 'increasingly alarmed' by ID card plans, gets immediately slapped down by Blunkett. Apparently proper procedure was to tell him quietly so no-one would have known that he objected. If he'd thought they were great you can be sure Shiteyes wouldn't have minded him trumpeting that one from the rooftops.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I'd gone off Christopher Hitchens for his support of The War Against Terror, but he seems to still be dabbling his feet in the pool of criticising the American Right, Not Even a Hedgehog - The stupidity of Ronald Reagan. [via All Facts and Opinions]

Could this be the best erotica book ever?

Hall of Judgement

An entomologist equipped with canisters of insecticide attempts unsuccessfully to sterilise the oversized scarab-beetle that is the transport of the invading army of a whip-wielding and stiletto-booted race of Amazonian women. Captured and brought to the Hall of Judgement, he is himself mutated into a rubber-skinned creature,the mindless slave of the transdimensional Empire of Heel! Madame de Morville, the master of the leather-clad genre, will be appearing throughout the media to publicise this new work.

I mean, how does the thought process go on that one? "The erotica/feet-worship book scene has grown stale. I know, I'll revitalise it with the story of a entomologist trying to kill off giant insects ridden by warrior Amazons!"

You are a lipid. You know whom you like and whom
you hate, and you like hanging out with people
who think like you do. People who disagree with
you annoy you to no end. You either love
Abercrombie and Fitch or you despise it, but
there's no middle ground. You're polar.

Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, June 07, 2004

Had an appointment to let a short Indian man poke me with sharp things in my mouth for half an hour this morning, and paid him £50 to do it! I feel there should be some sort of deal where you get to deduct a pound every time they 'accidentally' touch a nerve. He must have been crap playing Operation as a child.

Anyway, this afternoon I headed into town to walk the streets once more. The tube has had a chance to warm up now, whereas it wasn't too bad last week it's now reached 'warm oven' status, when the train is out in the open you get a definite listing effect as everyone rushes to the side that is in the shade. This time it was to Islington, in the north-east of the central part of the city, for a three mile walk from the Angel tube station to Holloway Road tube station. What I didn't realise until I arrived at both stations is that I'd used them before, so I had that weird moment of wondering why somewhere looked familiar before working it out. With the Angel, I'd gone into the area via bus for Stoatie's wedding, and Holloway Road tube I'd once used for a pub meet at the nearby Hobgoblin, organised by Butch Julie if memory served.

It was only a three mile walk, but with the hot and dry weather it was quite energy sapping. I also suspect that as the walk I was doing strangely stopped in the middle of nowhere by Highbury Fields, with notes to the effect of where the nearest tube and train stations in relation to it were, which was about another mile on, that I may have walked more than three miles. But the weather really necessitated dashing from shade to shade and to avoid direct sunlight whenever possible. I really don't know how Angel manages to live in LA.

It did give me a chance to see the controversial 'London Metropolitan University Post Graduate Centre' near Holloway Road tube station.

I liked it, though if once you go inside the floors aren't also slanted like the villain's lair in an episode of Batman I shall be most disappointed. However, it does seem a bit haphazard and can hardly be the most effective use of the space. The architect Daniel Libeskind comes up with a load of meaningless cobblers about the place here (and no doubt soon to appear in Private Eye's 'Pseud's Corner'), but there is an interesting article from Architecture Week here.

But 'Post Graduate', isn't that what you call people who have left the University? Why do they have their own building?

Probably not of much use here as most of the three of you that read my blog don't use cars much anyway, but next Monday is National LiftShare Day, a crap name for the idea of encouraging people to share their cars rather than all travel somewhere seperately.

"Hi there. I'm former President Ronald Reagan and I'm dead now. But if I weren't, and wasn't suffering from Alzheimers, you could be sure I'd be voting for George W. Bush, after all we both share the same middle initial, and we both tell the world we defeated a major evil!"

President Bush could not confirm his new campaign strategy was to spend the next few months making all public appearances in front of a large poster of Ronald Reagan or that Colin Powell would be replaced by 'L'il Ronnie', a hand-puppet operated and voiced by Bush.

The badgers, of "Badger badger badger badger..." memefame, have got Eurofever.

Kids! Now you too can hypnotise friends into your mindless slaves. [via B3ta]

Calling Philip K. Dick fans, Say brother, can you spare some server space?

UPDATE: It seems someone has done the decent thing. The original website is here and a mirror site is here.

The Many Faces of Ronnie:

When eventually he bid goodbye to us, Reagan said to Nancy: "Well, Nancy, we must be getting along," ...He was still in his Camp David riding kit of light-coloured leather cowboy boots, flared trousers and an open-neck shirt. I thought to myself that this was the sort of President the American public wanted.

Is this enough for towering greatness? ...There was one hero of Ronnie's two terms... but his name was Jim Baker, the brilliant political manager and mate of Vice-President George Bush, who became chief of staff when a crisis of competence threatened everything... James A Baker III was, for a while, the best president America never had; and Ronnie, upstairs snoozing or watching TV, was a passenger riding his luck.

Politicians who said that the beliefs of a free society could and should be asserted were mistrusted. If you wanted to confront the Soviet Union, you were accused of being a warmonger. Reagan was considered stupid and maverick, Mrs Thatcher was considered ignorant and provincial. The two found that they shared beliefs - and the burden of obloquy for what they believed. That creates a bond.

Blah blah blah... A great leader who will be truly missed... blah blah... A great man and leader is passing us... He was intelligent, principled, informed and dedicated to decency... blah blah... A monolithic figure in post-World War II history... blah... Are we not referring to the same Reagan who tried to topple various (democratically elected) Central American governments because they had different beliefs about how to run their countries?

Let's have some real news now...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Following the success of The Simpsons album, other franchises were keen to get in on the act. [via Barbelith]

The cuddly American Family Association are doing a petition about MTV starting a TV station 'to push the homosexual agenda'. And it does seem that you can fill it in if you don't live in the States. There doesn't seem to be any way to see what the current votes are, but why not drop by and remind them that to hate ain't that Christian?

A group of international researchers has concluded that men are so prone to illness and premature death that being male in itself is a major health risk.

...But hey, life goes on. Watch the Breakdancing Transformers. Aah this takes me back to those innocent days of Timmy Mallett, the Osama Bin Laden of children's telly, and WACADAY.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

At the official site for Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9-11 the trailer has been coming and going due to the number of people wanting to see it. If it goes down you can also find it here.

Ronald Reagan dies at 93.

A very interesting documentary on Channel 4, American Colossus, in which Professor Niall Ferguson argued that the United States is a country in denial of it's status as an Empire.

Over two hours he made an interesting case, presenting a history of America that, presumerably for reasons of brevity, skipped fairly quickly over the founding to concentrate in more detail on the twentieth century and what little we've seen of the twenty-first. Ferguson argued that most of the US's problems in the world have been due to it's denial of it's Empireship (how this differs to what I'd assume is the States acceptance that it is a superpower is unclear), that wars in Korea and Vietnam were not lost because of the almost supernatural tenacity of the foe but because the leaders didn't explain them properly to their people, because they were in denial about what the US was for.

The two main flaws in the program were about perception. The first one may not be entirely Ferguson's fault. But he seems to take as a given that the United States is a benevolent entity. His common criticism seems to boil down to 'The United States is a benevolent empire, but it is not benevolent enough'. Now presuming that Ferguson believes that and I have understood clearly that he does, he doesn't seek to prove this. Admittedly tricky, the show might never have got anywhere and taken up all it's time arguing this sole point, but it could have been argued during the display of it's history. The mood is set by opening flashes of characters from the current administration basically saying variations on "Isn't the United States great?" No critics of the US are included.

The second one, and one that I presume would play well if this documentary were over shown in the States, is an attack on the UN. The US is fit to run the world because it is an Empire. It is the only entity big enough to invade failed countries and dictatorships, and force them to become democratic. The United Nations isn't big enough. Or to put it another way, the United Nations isn't as big an organisation as one of it's members, the United States. Ferguson points to Rwanda as the reason the UN can't be trusted to run the world. He doesn't mention that the US didn't do much there either. And he holds Kosovo as an example of the US doing better than the UN. But at no time does Ferguson even hint at the less memorable events in the United States past, such as Kissinger's bombings, or the napalming of civilians in Vietnam. You sense that if he could, Ferguson would like to blame every falter of American resolve on the UN, and each of their successes on the influence of the United States.

And the unexplained premise of Ferguson's is can a largely Conservative country like America, with Presidents such as Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushs, really bring liberal democracy to other countries as Ferguson describes? Or does he mean 'liberal' only by comparing it to what went before? Only if the US acted more like an tyrannical dictatorship, Ferguson seemed to me to be saying, would it be able to more effectively spread democracy.

And the photogenic Ferguson said all this while gazing whistfully off into the middle distance from a number of locations around the world.

You've got to admire the Guardian. Whereas most agencies that review stuff soft-pedal it so as to persuade you to give them money, they absolutely slate No Roots by Faithless, then give you the phone number if you want to order it from them. I think it's the duty of everyone who reads this review to buy a copy of this album to encourage The Guardian to tell the truth more often. [via Girl at the Bus Stop]

First gay marriage in France doesn't go down well with Government.

[Mayor Noel] Mamere said he was "proud" of having officiated at the wedding and added: "I don't consider myself an outlaw."

But [Interior Minister Dominique] de Villepin said the mayor had contravened the French civil code despite a govenrment warning. "I intend to make sure the law of the republic and the authority of the state are respected," he said.

Disciplinary proceedings for someone who does what's right rather than what's legal in a case where homosexuals are denied equal rights with hets? Sounds like France might be going back on Dubya's list of friendly states pretty soon. Talking of whom, is Bush dangerously deranged, or is he just at the usual level of battiness for a head of state who everyone hates?

There's an interesting article from Nick Cohen in the New Statesman on The RESPECT party, a number of reasons he gives for why they shouldn't be supported in the upcoming elections are reasons why I didn't when filling in my ballot papers. But I disagree with him when it comes to the anti-war marches. A high majority of the people who went on them didn't go because it was organised by the SWP but because it was against the war. And I doubt the SWP made much money out of it. There is an obvious difference between going on a march for a cause you believe in organised by a group of people, and giving them your vote in an election. I don't believe that anything I have done has given the SWP or the RESPECT party one iota of support. From his leafy Hampstead (I'm guessing here) home Cohen is taking the Aaronovitch line, better the Iraqis are killed by Allied bullets than live under Saddam's reign. It works on a fallacy that there were only two ways the world works, either we invade or we don't. And this has been the fault all along, we decide what Government Iraqis get, we invade on our timetable and we get angry about the Iraqis being 'ungrateful', or as someone on Barbelith put it, 'are they ready for democracy?'.

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