Sunday, 30 September 2012

"JOB CREATOR" - the lie that reveals the Plutocracy

I recommend this

Here Dan Carlin suggests (with the aid of James Goldsmith's prescient book The Trap) that most Western politics right now are a charade, and that the debate on jobs is a complete sham, hiding the fact that most middle class jobs are now gone abroad, for good.

With this in mind it is incredible to hear that the main justification for further tax cuts for the rich, when national governments all over are running gigantic deficits, is to allow the rich to be JOB CREATORS.

The one thing you will immediately know from the use of the term "JOB CREATOR" is that the person using "JOB CREATOR" is treating you like a fool, because the jobs being being referred to won't be created anywhere near your neighbourhood.

The JOB CREATORS dodge tax in your country to open factories run like Third World Victorian deathtraps. And when standards improve in their factories and costs get too much they move onto other third world workforce's primed for exploitation (as we've seen already from US companies relocating to Mexico in the 1990s and and now moving again further south when wages and conditions are forced to improve).

And the cheap goods we get out of exploiting this system are offset when the goods jobs we need to pay for them disappear. How many westerners will have buy their new IPhone 5s on the same credit that has caused so much damage since 2008?

I remember when globalisation was sold to us in the west as inevitable and the best method of global wealth distribution. To lift the third world out of poverty the rich first world may have to suffer for a while but it would be fair. We were sold this by the Third Way progressives like Blair and Clinton as much as anyone. They seemed to achieve little else actually. It has puzzled my for a long time that progressive leaders elected in huge landslide wins seem to achieve very little (Obama's first term, 11 years of Tony Blair) while right wing leaders elected with tiny majorities somehow instigate huge social change (Thatchers first term, Bush Jnrs first term).

In the 90s Globalisation was consensus politics. I remember saying it myself as a standard economics A level solution. Global trade: where the Great Depression went wrong and how well do it right. More Global Trade. Economic fairness. Why bother showering the worlds poor with aid when we can give them jobs?

Well, globalisation turned out to be less lifting the worlds poor out if poverty and more lifting the multinational political economic elite out of the reach of their domestic tax systems. This was revealed ever more starkly in the banking crisis when national governments were forced to bend the knee and pay for insane business practices of itinerant economic gamblers already living in a fantasy world beyond economic responsibility. These elites now have such a stranglehold on the worlds media they can sell even ludicrous facts like Mitt Romney paying a lower tax rate than his servants as an economically and socially desirable.

If the pain of globalisation were being felt equally it would not be a problem but that is not the way it has happened. The society we've globalised is not that of the 1950s and 1960s. It is the world of the 1880s and 1890s, and those glittering worlds of the rich and privileged did not last long, even in an era when materialism was less of a religion then it is now. Those London riots last year were as much a desire to steal back material wealth as much as anything. Perhaps we are about to globalise these as well.
For those driving the Globalisation train, and those most obviously defending it with your "JOB CREATOR" fantasies for Western voters, I hope you enjoy the security state you are building for yourselves. Let us hope the fascist police you will need to enforce it continue to behave like your servants; like the rest of us will have to.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

British equivalent of tennis poster girl: the real reason the Dredd film flopped

(warning - product of drunk conversation)

This is the real reason the Dredd film flopped. Compare the aspirational fantasy female figures of US and British culture

Sporty Californian tennis girl*

Girl with chips

 Miss Sheree Pearson from Blakelaw 

* Someone unfamiliar with the concept of drunken conversations would like me to point out that the iconic Tennis Girl photo was shot in Birmingham (easily mistaken for California)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Things to spot in DREDD 3D, Easter Eggs, hidden references

Plenty of 2000AD detail spotted in DREDD on second viewing (at the millenium dome with other staff members of Forbidden Planet New Oxford Street Class of 1987 - pics are from the Thames Clipper trip, it was also international pirate day!)

dredd review

First off watch the bottom of the screen during the drugs bust, when the bullet goes through the perps cheek the blood appears to splash out of the bottom of the screen! The screen border is faked to enhance the 3D. Very sneaky.
Also spotted:

  • DROKK! on a leather jacket during the vehicle chase
  • Otto Sump shop in Peach Trees
  • Muties Out! graffiti in Peach Trees
  • Fatties Rule! graffiti in skate park outside
  • Chopper graffiti in Peach Trees
  • Block names: O'Neill, Bolland and Sternhammer. O'Neill is a strange choice as Kevin is not normally taken as a Dredd artist - Was it a Pat Mills request?

The block prominently mamed after Wulf Sternhammer points to another odd detail. The credit at the very end to Starlord.. Dredd never appeared in 2000ADs early sister comic, that was the birthplace of Johnny Alpha, aka Strontium Dog - so what is that credit for? Is it just for the mention of Sternhammer block? Or is there some other reference to Strontium Dog we've yet to notice?

Other very brief glimpse - thought by one of my friends to be a Banksy poster in Peach Trees, was
a poster of a bald teen accompanied by the name 'Krysler' -
is this the powerful Owen Krysler, the "judge child", who predicts the end of mega city one?

Got to say on second viewing DREDD does show it's limitations, particularly the end which screams "we ran out of budget". Even so this is the best $40million spent of a movie this year

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

But Mitt.. Republican states get more Federal handout money...

Mitt Romney's comments today remind me of a few things.... not least Clinton's devastating put down that the one thing the Republicans refuse to understand is ARITHMETIC

"One glaring problem with Romney's comment is that his contention those that pay less tax vote Democrat is simply not true. What makes his assertion worse is that in terms of net contribution by state, the states that receive the highest net levels of federal support (you know, the money that is bled from hard-working, honest Americans), are often the states that vote Republican.

In terms of dollars received by state for every dollar sent to the federal government in federal taxes, the 20 states that received the most in 2010 and their electoral college votes in 2008 were:

New Mexico: $2.03 Republican
Mississippi: $2.02 Republican
Alaska: $1.84 Republican
Louisiana: $1.78 Republican
West Virginia: $1.76 Republican
North Dakota: $1.68 Republican
Alabama: $1.66 Republican
South Dakota: $1.53 Republican
Kentucky: $1.51 Republican
Virginia: $1.51 Democrat
Montana: $1.47 Republican
Hawaii: $1.44 Democrat
Maine: $1.41 Democrat
Arkansas: $1.41 Republican
Oklahoma: $1.36 Republican
South Carolina: $1.35 Republican
Missouri: $1.32 Democrat
Maryland: $1.30 Democrat
Tennessee: $1.27 Republican
Idaho: $1.21 Republican

and those horrible, unAmerican, arrogant liberal bastions in New York, California, Massachusetts and Connecticut? Those states received respectively$0.79, $0.78, $0.82 and $0.69 for every dollar they sent to the federal government."

It reminded me of a another glaring disparity a few years ago

Sarah Palin had said

"California would need to create more than four million jobs over the next 10 years to keep up," Palin said. "Does anyone seriously think that the liberal policies of Pelosi and Reid and Obama -- heck a Boxer and a Brown -- are going to be able to turn this around and get the job done."
Palin continued:
"They act like they're permanent residents of a unicorn ranch in fantasyland if they really think they're gonna be able to turn it around with the liberal policies they have to continue, and you know, it's pixie dust."

Taxes from California support 1/7th of the US budget. California gets back only 0.7 of each tax dollar it sends to the federal government. Half the States in the Union, including Sarah Palin's beloved Alaska, would go bust in months without the tax money taken from California...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Monday, 10 September 2012


I was going to compare Dredd to Kick-Ass.

Superficially they seem to have a lot in common. In both cases an American setting, but used by British writers in British films . Kick Ass did not come from 2000AD but it's writer, Mark Millar, did. Both Dredd and Kick-Ass are drenched in OTT violence and twisted black humour. They sit giggling maniacaly on the boundaries of taste in a way that even Nolan's Batman series has managed to avoid. For Hit Girl's profanity in Kick Ass we have the art house 3D splatter in Dredd, both coincidentally condemned in The Daily Mail.

Having seen Dredd, I realise I'm wrong , and after what the team have done with the character and the potentially ground breaking use of 3D ( used for adults at last) I'm ditching the comic book comparisons. I'm more inclined to compare it to an unconventional indie film which completely changed the whole industry : Easy Rider.

If you love, hate.. or just 'meh'... Dredd 3D, you will definitely have seen something different. Just like Easy Rider.

Ironic, as Dredd opens with a little tribute to another movie
mentioned by Wagner and Ezquerra as an influence (which I remember watching specifically because it was name checked in 2000AD). Electra Glide in Blue 's opening tool up scene is repeated at the start of Dredd. Electra Glide in Blue is of course the cult companion piece to Easy Rider, the same two wheeled counter culture story told from the other side of the fence.

As you might have guessed, there is plenty in this movie to enjoy outside the 2000AD geekdom.

Despite problems on set between writer Alex Garland and Pete Travis this is a very well directed movie and I will be checking out Travis's other output in very short order. Any movie looking to ape spag westerns in an urban almost Scorsese like environment has absolutely no need to look this good, and when it needs to Dredd looks as beautiful as any art film you'll see this year. There is no chance Dredd is going for Oscar nominations but it wouldn't surprise me if  DOP Antony Dod Mantle gets some attention. Dredd will be playing in colleges for decades, and because of the genuis use of 3D will probably be a big money maker at the cinema for a long time.

Will a notoriety for spectacular art-gore 3D influence the story in
future Dredd sequels? My spine literally shivered at the thought
of what this crew and this technology (and Lars Von Triers' Drector of Photography) could do with Judges Death, Fire, Fear and Mortis.

Paul Leonard-Morgan provides a great soundtrack, and it will be fascinating to hear it next to the unofficial
DROKK soundtrack by Geoff Barrow Ben Salisbury

as they have taken exactly the same inspiration, John Carpenters theme's from Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape From New York. Once again I'm left thinking that there are so many people working on this film, and even NOT working on this film, getting it so spot on, it is amazing how far off the previous film was (part of the crushing disappointment with the 1996 Dredd was knowing that parts of even that doomed screw up really captured the comics. I'm not supposed to be talking of that atrocity though.. that's here)

For dialog and story Garland is bringing his 28 Days Later/Sunshine
voice, tough people pushing on through a believably lousy world as if it was just another day. It is grim funny when it needs to be and
ditches the melodrama when it needs to be serious. My favourite line is when the Chief Judge is asking Dredd to take the rookie out and evaluate her.

"Stick her in the deep end" she says
"It's all deep end" replies Dredd with a grimace

The other big surprise is Olivia Thirlby as Anderson. Garland steps around the problem of basing an entire film around a character with no face by having it told from the perspective of his sidekick. Urban is not Stallone and, obviously no fool, realises that Dredd becomes an even more impressive figure seen from the rookie's perspective.

For those in the know, Anderson isn't rookie for long and has had her own strip in 2000AD for twenty years ("Anderson : PSI Division"). There is plenty of scope for development in Thirlby's version. She has some of the best scenes in the movie, and makes such an impression  that a movie spin-off could be launched for Anderson straight from Dredd, (if the Jinx character from Die Another Day can seriously be considered for a spin-off then Anderson really isn't such a stretch). Considering that Garland is supposedly saving Judge Death for the third Dredd film, and that Dredd's arch bad guy is initially brought to MegaCity 1 by Anderson, it would seem a great excuse for an extra
movie between the official Dredd sequels.

Yes Urban does nail it. One scene where Dredd is vulnerable and
grimacing, Urban has the exact grim Dredd expression we've been
looking at for years. The juve I was watching the movie with the end exclaimed "he doesn't even smile thoughout the entire movie!" Again, like Thirlby, Urban gives just enough away to suggest there is a lot more coming from this character, and Dredd like Anderson is no ordinary human being.

Sorry the bikes, the "Lawmasters" still suck. I've seen the
pre-production art and they look better on paper. Somehow they don't translate well on screen and, as the earlier allusion to Electra Glide in Blue suggests, it is a vital part of the character. They need to be as imposing as the Judges, not big mopeds. If there is no screen for the rider they don't need to be encased in plastic. Someone show the design team a picture of a V-Max. And the weaponry? Machine guns? They are referred to as  'bike cannon' in the comics.

The low tech mad max atmosphere is actually a bonus,  in that it further takes us from the previous movie. On a Spanish review it suggests Dredd 3D can be considered a prequel to Judge Dredd (if you wish to stomach that, I'm not discussing that here, you can find my final catharsis on the subject after 15 years of hurt and some other movie recommendations on the subject here) and with Dredd and Anderson looking so young in this movie it gives plenty of scope for  background and setting to grow with the characters.

Something else for those new to world of 2000AD; unlike Marvel and DC who periodically reboot their comics to keep their characters young, 2000AD has (so far) aged their characters in realtime, and beloved characters like Anderson, Hershey and Dredd himself are noticeable older and more worn after 35 years of Mega City 1.

Dredd 3D does eventually turn into shoot outs in identical corridors but that is a restriction of the budget and I'm prepared to except it. A $40million film budget is peanuts compared to some of the other garbage reaching muliplexes.

Don't compare Dredd with the similar Indonesian instant classic The Raid, both are effectively indie films and should be mutually supportive if anything (I would try some cross promotional thing next time guys, you are obviously on the same wavelength).

Compare Dredd instead with Battleship, a movie based on a board game that illustrates the desperate creative bankruptcy in Hollywood. Battleship will cost $209 million, will take decades to recoup its money and had probably nill chance of generating a franchise even if successful. While Universal Pictures was buying up the film rights to board games canny Rebellion Games was poaching the creative rights to 35 years of 2000AD...

<Dredd related cinema>

Dredd further watching : Atlantic Rim (Britain, South Africa, Spain, East Coast) hysteri-cool sc-fi

In which blog writer gives some suggestions on related movies and finally gets some stuff off his chest re: Mr Stallone

Review of Dredd 3D can be found here

Note : I've heard a few reviewers of Dredd 3D exclaim how unbelievable it is that the interior of the US is devastated by nuclear war but the cities are untouched.

Well, Red State readers take note, in the world of Judge Dredd the East coast, - New York down to Miami, and West coast - Seattle to LA are protected by missile defense systems which protect them from direct hits. The Third World War begins when democratically elected (but insane) US President Booth launches a pre-emptive strike from behind his missile shield, killing billions worldwide and ushering in the era of the Judges in the radioactive chaos which follows.

There you have it, US voters, near future US history as written by Europeans.

Anyhoo.... If you like Dredd 3D here are some other suggestions on the same theme. If you want to skip straight to the abuse the Stallone film is at the bottom of the list.

In classic comics ret-conning fashion 1990's Hardware is now taken as
the first adaptation of a 2000AD story. I say ret-conning as the first
release of Hardware had no mention of 2000AD, only after the
intervention of lawyers pointing out the incredible resemblance to the
SHOKK! strip written by Pat Mills and Kev O'Neill did the credit
appear (this is the sort of thing that doesn't happen to Marvel or
DC). Hardware is a good cheap scifi indie movie not dissimilar to the
new Dredd (try checking out Richard Stanley's other good as well -
Dust Devil) but the attempt at plagiarism bothers me still. Wierdly
parts of the 1996 Judge Dredd also seem to be attempting a Sesame
Street level remake of plot elements from Hardware (see below) For one
thing both seem to feature strange mini cameos from Brit rock gods
Lemmy (in Hardware) and Ian Dury (Judge Dredd)...

After Hardware Robocop's uncanny resemblance to Dredd should have felt worse but this was at least a much better movie. Robocop absolutely screams 2000AD even when not concentrating on a taciturn future lawman only seen via his chin. Hyperviolent, insane adverts, black humour, politics.. tonally even now the first Robocop film is closer to a punked-out 2000AD strip than anything else.

Robocop (and Harware) was hard for fans of 2000AD to take until we
remembered the comic's own great habit for "reinvention" - Skizz,
Shako, Harlem Heroes are all liberally ripped off from other sources
and a full adaptation of Judge Dredd's Cursed Earth trek from from
MegaCity One to MegaCity Two would surely require a credit for Roger
Zelazny, writer of the classic post nuclear road trip : Damnation Alley.
I'll be honest and say the movie adaptation of Damnation Alley disappointed me when I was a hardly critical ten year old, so I wouldn't expect much but the
Landmaster vehicles are good and could have been driven straight out
of a Pat Mills story (as they seem to have been driven straight in
there to begin with).
This is a particularly excellent review of Damnation Alley and its peculiar place in cinema history, as the forgotten scifi movie released in 1977 alongside something called Star Wars..

Alex Garland has suggested the Cursed Earth saga is up for Dredd 2 and
I can see the whole Dredd trilogy going the way of Mad Max, with a
cheap first movie and significantly scoped out later entires.
Garland is right when he adds would be better as a tv series..
I can definitely see Judges's appearing through the static haze of the HBO intro, especially as the Cursed Earth saga wouldn't even be that expensive assuming you got the vehicles right (my only problem with the 2012 Dredd movie).

I've always thought Alex De Inglesias's typically batshit crazy tale
of dirty space opera and gun toting muties is very 2000AD. It is
brilliant for at least half its running time until the bad taste
insanity overcomes the narrative logic. It's worth remembering that Dredd, an East coast American character, is actually an Anglo-Spanish creation - step forward artist Carlos Ezquerra, working in tandem with Scottish writer John Wagner (with Alan Grant and Pat Mills helping out).
Bearing in mind any number of Pedro Almodóvar films look like a soaps using
MegaCity1 eccentrics but set in the present day I can't help but
wonder if the the slightly hysteri-cool element within 2000AD is some
Atlantic Rim phenomenon? We Brits talk often enough about our supposed
behavioral kinship with the Dutch and Germans, we rarely detect
anything in common with our neighbours to the south. Perhaps that
kinship with the cool uninhibited passion of the South is only
revealled when forced to express ourselves in graphic form - and the
general Anglo dismissive attitude to comics (particularly in Britain,
I could write volumes on that subject) is why we barely recognise it.

Never mind Spain, go far enough south on the Atlantic Rim theory and we can include South Africa as well, as Cape Town Studios have made such a contribution to the subject I will be checking out District 9 again later. Looked back in retrospect District 9 is another story, wipsmart satirical, fearless and down and dirty punk that could have come straight from a 2000AD strip.

OK, that last musing was obviously displacement behavior.
I've avoided this long enough. For those curious enough to have
visited the scene of the crime in the last few weeks ; the Stallone
movie is not as bad as you remember - it's worse.

Sylvester Stallone is a fascinating artist, able to take what appears
to be garbage and elevate it it classic status. And do the same in
reverse. We can see this happening right now, I submit for your
consideration Rambo 4 (!) and The Expendables series, reuniting action
stars from the 80s. One is surely great and one is surely garbage :
but can you pick which one?

Sly is a lot more preditable when it comes to film versions of British
cultural icons. Where there are people like Speilberg who are granted
honorary knighthoods for services to British culture Sylvester
Stallone should be banned forever from entering the UK just for the
remake of Get Carter.. Never mind Judge Dredd.

Apparently Stallone just didn't "get" Dredd, expecting to get big
laughs rather than awe when he first appeared on set in the Judges
outfit, and generally thinking the whole Judge Dredd epic was meant to
be comedic. Perhaps we should be blaming the producers for this rather
glaring error of comprehension early on, and dwelling on this does
recall ironically Alan Moore's classic 2000AD strip "DR and Quinch Go
To Hollywood"

"Can you describe the film?"

How could I adequately describe this film man? It had an unreadable script and an incoherent leading man, who was also, like totally illiterate. I decided to be brief and honest.

"It's a disaster movie"

Helped by a script which is to comedy banter what cold cold vomit is
to your favourite cheesecake ('cheese' cannot have just left into
my head accidentally there), which eventually crustifies into
the worst cliche in crime drama ("framed for a crime he did not
commit!"). Stallone entered the film as the star and by effectively
running the production from the lead actors chair proceeded to destroy
the image of the character for 15 years and the career of a promising
director for good. What should have been Hill Street Blues by way of Death Race 2000 and Rollerball was turned into Blade Runner for the under 5s.

I've heard, especially in the U.S., that Judge Dredd 1996 splits opinion, though under closer analysis it seems to be split into those who saw the film as adults and those who saw it before they'd learnt to go to the toilet by themselves.

By the end Judge Dredd even gives up on trying to make narrative
sense, with a whole sequence, "Send in the Clones!", obviously hacked
out for presumably good reason, but in such a clumsy manner that it
insults whatever audience left which has not already knocked itself
unconscious from repeated impacts to the head.

But.. Lets be positive, there is certainly enough in the movie it to make it a comedy "Walter The Wobot" take on the material and the source comic was never 100% serious anyway. When Stallone and Schnieder are off screen it's actually pretty good - which emphasises the enormity of stink they produce when they are. Is there a more extreme example in cinema history of the effect of two bad actors and a lousy script so conclusively burying the fate of a potential billion dollar movie franchise?

If Stallone or Schinerder read this I expect their first thought is

"I knew you'd say that"

To be fair we can add Alan Silvestrie's score to the list, as for me
it belongs in Narnia not in a post apocalypse Mega city. In yet a
further example of what could have been from this movie go HERE to
check out a portion of the original music for Judge Dredd, as composed
by Jerry Goldsmith and abandoned when Goldsmith could not commit to
complete the project (did you read the script Jerry?). If this sounds
familiar it is because it was used in the original trailer for Judge
Dredd and has regularly been used for trailers since - as it is
actually pretty good.

Try to be positive.. positive..

A lot is made of Dredd's fantasy fascist appeal, supposedly the
liberal subconscious wish for an absolute bastard in uniform to
stride in, set the rules, deal with the bad guys and then disappear.
But but I think Dredd goes beyond even that. In the insane future
shock of MegaCity One, where - even without the crime - they are
dealing with cramped millions and 99% unemployment (riots and Block
Wars start when jobs are advertised) the Judges are trained from birth
to use the Law with religious fervour. This made evident even in the
trivial kidscape of the 1996 film, with The Book of The Law treated
like a Bible, and the The Long Walk taken by retiring judges out no
the Cursed Earth "To Bring Law to The Lawless" as a semi religous

That is a rarely noted aspect of the Judges and their system, they are
almost warrior preists maintaining a secular religion
based on rationalism - The Law. Judge Dredd doesn't just push our
buttons for uniformed law and order, it seemingly gives us a 'safe'
dose of religion as well.

Max von Sydow's Long Walk scene is almost worth watching the entire of
the 1996 film for. Tonally it would have suited the 2012 film better,
but as they is introducing a far grittier world and justice department
pehaps we are better off without it, so we can say we are lucky enough
to have seen in it in 1996.

And lets list those poor suffering co-actors by name, because god
knows they've got no credit from anyone else for their work on this
turkey. Diane Lane is good as Hershey, trying to show some of the
steel of the real character though a role which is pure love interest
(Hershey is almost as taciturn as Dredd in the comics, she makes
Anderson look like Paris Hilton). Max von Sydow and Jurgen Prochnow
bring their A games and way too much gravitas for what is a kids film.
The Angel Gang (cult actor Scott Wilson as Pa Angel!) totally nail it
for me. I even like Armand Assante, obviously overacting his tits off
but genuinely seeming to give a shit for the role and the subject.

And there is of course the robot, a fantastic piece of design and
puppetry, who is actually namechecked in the script as
" of those old ABC Warriors" confirming his presence as 2000AD
stalwart Hammerstein, even if he is used merely to retread the killer
robot role from Hardware (see above). It is a pretty artistically
bankrupt movie whose best detail is ripped off from a movie that
itself ripped off the idea from a 2000AD strip...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Is Dredd going to turn Rebellion Games into the European Marvel/DC?

Rebellion, according to their wiki page, is now  the largest independent European game development studio, recently hoovering up the Tomb Raider developers Core Design among lots of smart acquisitions over the last few years. They are best known for the Aliens vs Predator Sega game,

Perhaps their smartest acquisition is 2000AD, the seminal British comic from which the character Judge Dredd is taken

(First question - how often do Games companies buy comics publishers?)

Buying 2000AD gave Rebellion access to a whole library of great characters created by writing talent which went onto revolutionise the US comics scene. They have tried cashing in on games with some of the more famous characters but before now they've not really been able to fully exploit them. 

This is definitely about to change. The Dredd film is out to very positive reviews and crazy business, despite only costing a minuscule $40million to make. Film gossip is already talking about a three film trilogy. 2000AD does not have a 'universe' in the same way as Marvel or DC but the characters are interconnected, and potentially a  successful Dredd film opens up a whole series of future adaptations (Rogue Trooper, ABC Warriors, Strontium Dog, Harlem Heroes, Nemesis The Warlock etc etc) which Rebellion have the rights to

On top of that Rebellion have just began making 2000AD issues available on the Ipad. At approx $2 a go, when Rebellion put 35 years of back issues online they could be sitting on a goldmine..

What are the chances this little games company are going to turn into the British, or even European equivalent of Marvel or DC?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Harder Than You Think : The Return of Public Enemy

Dear UK media, if Public Enemy's "Harder Than You Think" (Channel 4 Paralympics theme) is such a classic tune why weren't you playing it four years ago when it got released? Was X-Factor that good in 2008?

Just some of the great music you were listening to in 2008 instead of "Harder Than You Think"

Leona Lewis
Scouting For Girls (who could forget their singles "She's So Lovely" and "Elvis Ain't Dead")
Andy Abraham
George Sampson
Chris Brown
ABBA's greatest hits (after Mamma Mia!)
Alexandra Burke

PE's album of 2008, How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People That Have Got No Soul???, was their 20 year anniversary and a real return to form. Why was it so studiously ignored? A few duff albums wasn't enough to completely sideline one of the seminal black acts of all time, it can't have been that they just became unfashionable - could it? When has that ever stopped Coldplay?

PE don't really help themselves, Flavour Flav's adventures in reality tv did the band no favours (though the same thing didn't seem to hurt John Lydon) and some of their earlier output seems to flirt with anti-semtism.  "Swindlers Lust" off There's a Poison Goin On might be about crooked money grabbing money executives, but if so, that is a catastrophic choice of title (too close to Schindlers List) in light of earlier accusations.

'Back in Black', one of the tracks off "How You Sell Soul.." is an indicator of the talent they still have and the resistance they were begining to get. Intended as a cover of the AC/DC classic,  they were denied use of samples from the original (an example of how low they'd fallen from being one of the biggest bands in the world) and had to completely record the track again in short order. They shrugged, got their heads down, and their completely new version of Back in Black is one of the best tracks on the album.

In an industry where Chris "I like to use my girl as a punchbag" Brown is completely forgiven why are PE so forgotten? 

Where Public Enemy used to aim at US Government in their lyrics, the target of How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? is pretend gangsters preaching to a music market interested only in bling and materialism. After years of fighting the system Chuck D and co seemed to have realised that the system has infiltrated their own industry, and bling obsessed goons like Jay Z and P Diddy (and his f**king English butler with his fake name) and thugs like Chris Brown and (famous Bush supporter) 50 cent have far more in common with the scum that exploited their people than they have with their own community.

Lyrics from track 'Frankenstar'

but you ignore The POOR


Try selling Harder Than You Think to radio and media when the album is screaming of the corruption and greed in the same industry (and look back to 2008 - they were spot on)

'Harder Than You Think' is a massively empowering tune and brilliantly compliments Channel's Four's genuis 'Meet The Superhumans' ad campaign, but was only intended as Public Enemy giving themselves credit for two decades of the kind of musical and media agitation that the Sex Pistols could only manage for 2-3 years. They defined a musical genre in the 90s and 90s only to be sidelined and ridiculed in the following decade, a disgusting and corrupt political era that could never face the truth. That was the world of 2008.

Public Enemy are releasing two new studio albums this year.

Daily Mail on Dredd

The Daily Mail, newspaper synonymous with HURRAH FOR THE BLACKSHIRTS headlines in the 1930s, thinks the new Dredd movie is too fascistic and misses the social commentary of the original comic

my irony circuits have overloaded

Blast from the past : Phoenix Festival 1996

Another festival diary.
Glastonbury takes a year off every few years, requiring regulars to go out looking for other festivals. Phoenix ran in the 90s in the Midlands at Long Marston. The difference between Long Marston and Shepton Mallet in Somerset is that Long Marston is an airfield with a vast flat wide open space in the Midlands with no shade.. 

and the difference for me in 1996 was that I'd just moved to a village in the middle of nowhere.. Kye and Cath had just met and where to get married shortly after but moved away (like virtually everyone I got to know in Parracombe). I've just got back into contact with them via Facebook. Pictures were all lost when Castelinks first server died.

The first sign of a major mover at Phoenix was in the weather reports the weekend before. Our month long cold spell would end and by the weekend it would be hot. Very Hot. Perhaps 82 degrees in some regions. Principally the Midlands. So - I took a flimsy sleeping bag. (This was so I could freeze my a**se off in the morning before I got a chance to get heat stroke).Amazingly in this tiny village I'd found a neighbour called Kye - who had offered me a lift with his girlfriend Kath to Phoenix on the Thursday morning. .

In the middle of a tortuous journey word reaches us that a mutual aquaintance who shall remain nameless will arrive at some point at the weekend WITHOUT a tent but WITH a portable barbecue.

Well anyway, we arrive - put up tents. Jeez its hot already. Adrian and Noelle just happen to camp next door. get on the wine. And champagne.

Finally enter arena much later. We catch the end of PRODIGY and then BOWIE arrives.
(The Times and ET would say later that those still in the huge queue to get in left their cars were they were at this point and ran in)

The first surprising thing about BOWIE was how close to the front we were able to get. 20 yards ? Ten years ago My friend Jane Weddell described how she had been unable to get close enough to DB to see more than a spec at the Milton Keynes Bowl. Its a sad reflection of his output since that the crowd here was so much smaller.

Of course - I thought he's been getting slowly better since Tin Machine... and I like the new stuff (some of which sounds amazing on the soundtrack of Se7en). Obviously I thought the old stuff was better. Which was the second surprising thing.

Most of the set came from the Alladin Sane/Lodger era but a lot of it - other than the stuff off OUTSIDE - was pre SCARY MONSTERS. Brilliant. Just to show how much of a sop it was to potential new fans three of the songs he did were more notably covered by someone else - MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD (by Nirvana), LUST FOR LIFE (Iggy Pop) and ALL THE YOUNG DUDES (Mott The Hoople) - which was by far the best of the three.

So convinced was everybody that he would not be doing old stuff that it felt like we were seeing a very good tribute band. Except it was the real thing. Both session musicians were stunning.. The black bassist was dressed up like an Inquisitor from a Ken Russell film and filled in the other half of the duet on a quite moving version of UNDER PRESSURE. The bald lead guitar was a worthy stand in for Mick Ronson (?)

Climax of a brilliantly theatrical performance was MOONAGE DAYDREAM and the rest of the music at Phoenix was frankly a bit a an anti-climax afterwards.

My jeans have been taken out of my tent during the night. Sigh. AND I had to go for ANOTHER shit. This wasn't going to plan.

Onto the main site with a bit of festival tutoring for Kye and Cath. Lesson One: Do not drink Snakebite all day.

KYE: What does snakebite taste like then ?
....OK, since you don't know I'll get you some. Just one right...

IAN MCNABB comes on. Kye is very impressed (he's just had his first snakebite). He is good but has no stage presence. (That's Ian Macnabb not Kye)

Then FLAMING LIPS. Psychedelic US rock which gets nowhere with the crowd until the lead singer announces the next song. Its about his brother apparently. On acid. Trying to escape from a grocery store. (You could see the bassist grimace with embarrassment). It was very funny and ended with ".... and he called upon the power of the Insects, and the Waterbugs attacked the Policemen..."
Had BECK come on early ? No. Beck came on in a very silly suit that looked like something Dennis Pennis would try and wear at the Garrick Club. Before launching into the first song he lit and dragged on a very conventional looking pipe. Rather too much to look respectable it seemed to me.
He opened with DEVIL'S HAIRCUT and played a lot off the new album. Surprisingly - he Rocked. With some aplomb. Only the Truckdriving neighbour song came out quiet. "..Bellyflopping naked in a pool of yellow sweat, Shouting JACKASS with a wet cigarette.." LOSER was a big hit with the crowd. And at the end he pulled out a hanky and tried to stuff it up his nose as he collapsed. People came out and carried him off the stage. Beck is sometimes compared to Bob Dylan but even ol' Bob couldn't do slapstick.
It gets hazy. I dragged my attention back into reality for FOO FIGHTERS but they were a big disappointment. They were at the end of a long tour apparently. I'd seen Faith No More and Radiohead under similar circumstances and it had only made them super-sharp. Grohl and co had given up already. They thrashed out their set and went home to bed.
Errr.... Comedians. Mark Hurst. Very good.

... marked principally by a failure to get too interested in the dance tent. Since at night it was so crowded we thought it was a disaster waiting to happen. I thought I go during the day

It is Freezing in the mornings.... I need another shit.... Very bad news as the prefab SEARCH loos and portaloos are becoming practically unusable. Suddenly Glastonbury seems like a hospital.

The bands start and in a long hiatus waiting for the appearance of ANDREW WEATHERALL in the dance tent, I see a comedian, MARK STEELE, who is first on the bill and very good. One speech in particular, about the uselessness of language teaching, was not funny but so spot on it got a large round of applause. Destined for bigger things.

As LAMB would seem to be - who came on first in the Dance tent and who were so good they came back to play one of their few tunes again. They were the best thing on in the dance tent. Weatherall appeared eventually about an hour an a half late. I never saw the dance floor so empty.

Next good thing on was RED SNAPPER in the dance tent but not for ages so I morbidly took a look at JAZZ PASSENGERS FEATURING DEBBIE HARRY in the (eek!) Jazz tent. Initially Debbs looked like she had finally succumbed to the ravages of age . (But even at the start she looked like the Worlds Grooviest Granny) Peering through reading glasses at a music stand with lyics on, tied back greying hair, she still has one of the best voices around. Smart and funny too. When the Jazz Passengers let rip the granny routine was revealed as an act as the reading glasses and tied back hair came loose in a on stage pogueing session which got BIG cheers. After that all the old power was back.

Only downer was the crowd forcing the Jazz band to play "The Tide is High" as an enchore. A big shame as their own stuff was good enough to see even without Debbs.

RED SNAPPER are good once, maybe twice, but third time they are boring. For no apparent reason I wrote a screenplay on the back of a post card. It seemed very very good at the time.
Returning to the main stage I found MASSIVE ATTACK, who were OK. They were supposed to be on last according to the running order but this had been hijacked by Bjork for reasons which became apparent. Shortly after we saw a man in a Rhino suit go through the crowd, someone behind the stage launched (according to NME) 1000lbs of fireworks into the sky. The two seemed unconnected though the strange little Icelandic thing was singing "HUMAN BEHAVIOUR" at the time so you never know. Poor Bjork - took her at least three songs to get over the size of the crowd - after that she had to cope with the sky exploding.

Later... and tales reach us of the most outrageously original Rock and Roll stunt of the Festival . Disorientated by a cocktail of totally legal substances two nearby festival goers got so wrecked they got their ears pierced by accident (?) , then ran off without paying to lie prone in the campsite trying to pool their mental resources in an doomed attempt to eat a Mars bar. Only the hasty administration of a chip sandwich prevented them becoming the Peter Green and Syd Barret of Long Marston.

("DRUID" bought in rather large quantities and available from the rather sad "Legal Highs" stall. Laced with that slightly lesser well known mind altering substance "L.S.A" ....."Lucy In The Sky With Armadillos ?" mused Kye)

Thank god I had something healthy to be going ton with - like a bottle of tequila. (I was totally unconscious within an hour and still not over the experience week later)

As every other day - wake 6am absolutely freezing. Put all my clothes on. Wake up again at 9 boiling hot. Take them all off. have to evacuate tent by 10 - its an oven in there...

Lunchtime. Everyone else gone and we begining a desperate search for some shade. Difficult as all the secluded bits in the main stadium have been used as toilets.

(Night before I had taken a short cut and had to step over two girls having a shit.)
Now praying for home and wondering how bad the queues will be tomorrow ("Lets see.... six hour jam on Thursday and Friday.... how big will that be when we all leave together ?"). Got the first symptoms of Heat stroke just thinking about the inside of my tent.

Everyone outside the comedy tent were we are huddled (with every other sensible person), is looking like the remains of Lawrence of Arabia's Akabar expedition as they cross "The Suns Anvil". Kye says he is thinking of leaving early. Tonight. He apologises. I begin to laugh hysterically and lose the ability to blink. He suggests we get a drink. I am grinning so much I can only nod my head.
Mere hours later we back in the sticky clutch Nova headed home. I am still suffering. Kye and Cath, who seem to like each others company A BIT TOO MUCH are now determined to go to the Reading Festival this year and want to know why I'm not interested.

I suggest, as an answer, that they just put me out of my misery and go on a rampage - kilin' everyone they meet, like Micky and Mallory - they could just become Devon's NATURAL BORN KILLERS.

There is a pause. The sign saying "KEEP DEVON SHIPSHAPE" goes past.

They make not entirely convincing excuses not to go on the rampage and tell a Devon joke. 

Two cows in a field. One says to the other "You know Daisy, Oim a bit worried about cartching this 'ere mad cows disease thing."
"Oh ?" says Daisy "Oim Nart"
"Why's thart then?"
" ' Coz Oim a Tractor !"

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Our Diesel Punk Present II

Overheating servers? Give them an oil bath, says Intel

By Robert McMillan
03 September 12

You want to know a fast way to cool down a computer? Dunk it in a big tank
of mineral oil.

That's a technique that Intel has been testing out over the past year,
running servers in little oil-filled boxes built by an Austin, Texas,
company called Green Revolution Cooling. As Gigaom reported on Friday, it
turns out that once you take out the PC's fans and seal up the hard drives,
oil-cooling a server works out pretty well...


Still waiting to hear on Daily Telegraph job three days after notification date (that's best part of three weeks now sitting next to a phone). Resigned to spending a few more weeks in Devon. Keeping it together with exercise and internet.

Dredd film out in days. With an IPad subscription to 2000AD app and you get three months of back issue thrillpower :-)
Goes well with my 'Mega City One Dub' playlist : 
  • The xx 
  • Burial 
  • Massive Attack (Heligoland)
  • Prodigy (The Lost Beats)
  • Gorillaz (Plastic Beach, The Fall)
of course
(any other suggestions?)

Best played at night on headphones while sitting on beanbag in the garden. Exmoor was made for this.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Combe Martian 4

Combe Martian 3

Combe Martian 2

Escape to Combe "Martian"

At last the weather has broken to be come just 'cloudy'. Parracombe to Combe Martin walk: five hour round trip down to the sea from 400ft Exmoor (and back). It's been ten years since I was fit enough to do this. There are some killer hills.
Listening to The Kills and audio book of Childhood's End