Our shallow superficial culture and talented people


Hello Good people who read this blog…

Some anti-tv vitriol….

I am changing the tone today just for a brief comment on our culture.

I have been watching a bit of TV this week and heard about some exceptionally talented singer on some reality TV programme. I thought I would check out what all the fuss is about. I cannot  post a nauseous clip as the music biz has made sure their protégé cannot be embedded….they’re selling her as an old maid, spinster, too ugly to ( I am modifying my swearing here) “kiss” virgin in need of our approval. What a load of ****ing ******s ( I don’t think I put enough stars on this to replace the letters but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks and realise how much this annoys me!) .

Don’t get me wrong I wish Susan Boyle all the best of luck and hope her career spans longer than a couple of months. But it’s the way the programme is made. Mr. Loo brush head with his dyed fake teeth, hair and skin is trying to portray himself as altruistic putting a talented ugly middle-aged  woman on the stage and prove he isn’t that shallow ( AND SO BOOST RATINGS ) .

The token pretty woman in the middle of the panel ( can’t even be bothered to find out her name) is poised and primed to cry ( I think you can get these glycerine drops for actors to cry, she must have just put them in her eyes at the start and they were beginning to dissolve), that Piers Earnest-Smug-Face person, who also can attribute a new career to fake tan and pretending to be nice , is looking on also near to tears as SHOCK HORROR the UGLY WOMAN HAS TALENT.

The audience has obviously been told to sneer at her and make fun of her when she first goes on the stage ( unless they are really just the average ageist, sexist,looks-obsessed advertising fashion trained public – which unfortunately maybe they are) . then they have obviously been told to cheer lots when she starts to sing. Because SHOCK HORROR someone average looking can sing well.

Why do people assume you have to be beautiful to have talent???? because of the TV and magazines and our very shallow idiotic culture.We’re turning into the stupidest of the stupid Americans! Do you really want that to happen? ( p.s. I have some really nice American friends so I feel a bit bad for writing that…but I guess I am referring to the mainstream American tv culture and ideas rather than individual people)

This next item is totally unrelated to Susan Boyle but is about talent.

There is so much unrecognised musical talent about …I guess only a very small minority of talented musicians will enjoy fame and fortune because the logistics of how many human beings there are on the planet and how few manoeuvre themselves into the media or are thrown into the limelight .I don’t think many people become famous without seriously trying very hard .  The thing is for singer-songwriters, that unless you are famous you can’t earn a living that way. I guess it’s the same in many of the arts but the amount of gigging musicians who are unpaid or pay to play never seems to diminish in London Town.

Here’s one of the many talented songwriters from the London acoustic scene: Benjamin Thomas ( a Bob Dylan fan but I prefer Ben’s music)

This next track is a bit unfortunately named for an oldy like me but I forgive him!

“Growing old is just an easy way of dying”

“The stains on my heart are solitude”

http://www.myspace.com/benjaminthomas1

Love and peace

Born2rant

p.s. Question if they removed all the smug or shallow people off the TV would there be many programmes left?

( sorry there is no Marmite in this entry I was just being silly, but there was a meerkat later edited, plus vampires)

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Hello again & Tibetans, Amazonian Indians etc…


Hello Good People who read this blog

Where have I been ? I hear you cry ( actually you don’t exist and neither do I!) Ha, ha I am writing  from the Underworld via the internet.

I am suffering from attacks by many winter dieases…..

You can tell by the beginning of this post that I don’t have an f8888ing clue what I am about to write although I think Tibetans may feature.

One of the many wonderful things that has been in my life recently is a totally different outlook on people from other countries. In our mainstream media there is both a conscious and an unconscious focus on all the negative things in other countries and in bad people from other countries. The news , let’s face it, is never good news so all we hear about from non-Western countries is war, famine, earthquakes, terrorists,  sex slave trading, corrupt dictators, and all kinds of nasty things. In the end we are kind of brainwashed in the West to think of most developing countries as having problems and bad people in them. Either that or we just ignore them altogether.

But I have been reading a lot about the societies and music from other cultures , their belief systems, histories, strange customs etc.. and it is so fascinating and engaging to read about how musicians are treated around the world , how they conceive of music, life, society that my outlook living in Central London is so totally different now.

Each time I go to Tescos, (Tescos features heavily in this blog) I see women from different parts of Asia and Africa at the tills and I wonder which country they come from, what music either they or their ancestors created, their history, their belief system, their mythology, their art, customs etc…and each little bit of information I gather here and there brightens up my day.

So I’ll tell you a teeny bit about some Tibetan Monks and their music.

First of all here is some music from Tibetan Monks

although they also like to play the guitar

even rock guitar ( not a monk but still in Tibet)

We’re all global now!

I am reading a Phd thesis written in 1979 by a bloke who did extensive research on Tibetan Ritual Music.

I am deliberately calling him a bloke and not saying who he is as an attempt to get away from the futile excessive egotism of academia which I am rebelling against!

For the Monks all music is a spiritual offering and there are many wonderful ways in which they think about music .

For example during meditation the monks sometimes visualise a new type of musical instrument, they will then build that instrument according to their visions . He describes a giant lute that needs two people to pick it up as an example, but although it is fully functional they won’t play it,  instead they’ll put it on the altar as an offering.

The monks will have other instruments in their orchestra that are not played, their presence is enough as a spiritual offering.

Another thing they do is to have conceptual instruments.

Their orchestra like ours is subdivieded into various groups:  horns and trumpets,  percussion , vocal section but the string section, which is made up of largely Indian string instruments such as sitars etc..will be conceptual i.e. they don’t actually exist in a physical form. It isn’t that the monks can’t  afford  them, they just prefer a conceptual string section .

This section of the orchestra is played “conceptually” by a group of monks who  sit in the orchestra.  They  meditate visualising the intruments and then  mentally project the music , actually playing the conceptual musical instruments  with their minds. Other monks who have less imagination will meditate to augment the volume and number of instruments that are already present.

I kid you not!

Isn’t that cool?

Here is another example of “conceptual instrument” playing but a bit less cerebral this time from Finland

Meanwhile…..

Deep in the Amazonian forests of Brazil some stories from some researchers who spent thirty years or so in contact with a tribe of Indigenous Brazilian Indians…in fact these  researchers  happen to be Pete Seeger’s nephew and wife. ( if you  are too young to know who Pete Seeger is google him!)

The tribal village  held elaborate ceremonies using singing and dancing dressed as mice, everything in their culture is traditionally based around the animals and plants in their environment.

They sing hundreds of songs. If there are any musicians out there ( and I know there ) think of this…………………….

Here is how they write their songs:::::::::::::If one of them gets ill or injured , while they are recovering they are believed to be living in two places at once. Physically they are still at home but their spirit is living with some animal or plant group and mingling, socialising with them etc..

If they do not die and recover from the affliction, then someone in the village might ask them  the following “You know those mice you were living with while you were ill? What songs did they sing?”

Then the person who has recovered from their illness has to “teach” that person the new song. Each different species has a different song topic associated with it. For example they believe bees abduct human beings , so if you were hanging out with the bees while you were ill you have to be prepared to mentally write songs about bees  kidnapping people. In some cases the song then entirely belongs to the first person it was transmitted to and no one else is allowed to perform it.

This makes copyright complicated! There is far more I could tell you about that tribe but I must go to bed soon.

They got their land back many years after it was taken from them by ranchers . They would not have survived as well if it wasn’t for two charities started by Sting and The Grateful Dead to save Amazonian tribes. Once they got their land and some funding one of the first things they wanted in the middle of their tiny village was a full-sized soccer pitch.

I can’t wait until we meet aliens and start to research their music and customs( how ethnocentric of me) but if you leave America and Europe out of your consciousness, cultures and music become a lot more interesting and you could feel like you are on a whole different planet.

By the way why are we in Afghanistan?

Does anyone know ? Are they about to invade us?

Do they have a secret goldmine we want to get our greedy hands on? Do they have secret weapons of mass destruction?

I am sure MI5 is reading this maybe they know and could leave me a comment.

…or is it MI6 I can’t remember the difference between them…whatever happened to MI 1, 2,3 & 4? and is there an MI7? If there isn’t I declare myself and my little rebellious site to be MI7 home of hippie “intelligence” ..well more home of hippie ranting without that much info…

Here is some Afghani music  featuring a boy playing the role of a woman.

Bring back the women I say!

This film footage is of another strange culture which  is so weird that I cannot even begin to describe the  lengthy set of  annual ceremonies it involves. Months beforehand some of the participants have special secret surgery, some also paint their skin orange.

The musicians are mentored by a  group of elders who have to take various types of hallucinogenic drugs before each ceremony . A lot of fake crying is involved to make the musicians more popular with the other villagers. If too much alcohol or drugs are taken for long periods of time , these musicians and elders  mysteriously disappear to a secret place of healing and retreat where they have to tell stories of childhood to a wise woman who absolves them until they transform themselves with new identities.

Love and Peace

Born2rant       OM!

P.S. each time I try to write or read my blog my internet connection is cutting out if anyone has the same probs let me know…it could be a conspiracy !!!!


“Credit Crunch” your favorite cereal for breakfast or brunch (registered Trade Mark)


Hello Good People who read this blog

a little rant this time to change the theme a bit

” Credit Crunch” your favorite cereal for breakfast or brunch (* please see p.s./ footnote)

Morning news first thing upon waking  and I have my first tasty helping of ” Credit Crunch“( no relation to Kellogg’s).
Whenever I hear the term ” Credit Crunch” I automatically think of a bowl of tasty healthy crunchy cereal with dried blueberries and raspberries etc…or maybe some ” Credit Crunch ” bars,  sticky muesli things full of honey designed to rot your teeth in a totally new healthy way.
I used to have the same problem with “hamas”, if I was watching Channel 4 evening news and I hadn’t eaten yet I’d think to myself in a Homer Simpson type way ” Hmmm,  HOUMOUS!”
Yes I know I sound moronic but if you didn’t have a sense of humour ( or houmous ) you’d just have to kill yourself each time you heard the news.

Whoever invented the media term ” Credit Crunch” missed out on the opportunity of earning millions by not adding a copyright or trademark sign next to it.


It’s one of those terms that doesn’t actually tell you anything because they don’t want to panic you.
They could have called it ” The Great Depression” or ” a major recession on a scale we have not known since the 1930s” or ” Everything’s gone tits up – buy cans of food and head for the hills“.

But “they” the big  businesses and those who indirectly or directly  influence the news we hear and read , those who actually OWN the newsagencies, those who OWN the government who in turn influence the BBC news etc… “They” have managed to get the story over as :” Oh yes but, well it’s not so bad everything will be ok in a year or two, back to normal, possibly even better!”.

The news is confusing. They tell us  we are not in recession instead we have a “Credit Crunch” , there is no long term problem, you must keep spending and not worry…and yet we also hear of major banks crashing , no one can get a mortgage, no one can sell their house, people losing their jobs etc…..I think the game is up.
So what IS actually happening?
Well I think our although “they” can influence our news and create nonsense propaganda it’s comforting to know that some of the actual facts do leak through from time to time. There are still committed journalists about,  although most of them have no idea what real long-term poverty is like and always write from a priviledged point of view.  They haven’t gone through a winter without heating , phone,  or proper shoes as I have done in the past and as many have done and will do.

So I am going to write about the limited things I see.

The Rich
I have to say from the extremely  rich people I know, they don’t seem at all phased by this “Credit Crunch” yet.

I have to add that the ridiculously rich people I know are not very  close friends who might otherwise confide in me, but I can tell by their optimism, the cars, the houses, the holidays, the clothes, the new furnishings, the staff, that nothing has changed much in their lifestyles. If they are worried it certainly doesn’t show.
However in the street where I live there have been signs that some of the rich people are trying to sell or rent out their houses. One house across the road from me is empty.
The residents were an American family, but since the mother always avoided making eye contact with me ( like all the other neighbours)  and used to dress in fox-hunting gear wherever she went in a bizzarre attempt to show she was at one with the British gentry, I can’t say that I miss them.
I hope some friendly not too noisy squatters move in although I know they would be ejected or maybe beaten up very soon by the locals ( gentry of course).

From my point of view, I have adapted to the fact that everything is hugely expensive while my limited income is the same.
Everything in my local Tescos  is on average  about 25% more expensive but at least that has stabilised for now.

My phone bill has trippled with my rubbish phone and internet company charging me for  all kinds of calls that I never made.  I then spend hours on the phone trying to sort things out unsuccessfully. With my gas and electricity providers the bills were inaccurate and no matter how many meter readings I gave the bill was always for something much higher. So I changed companies with uswitch, now the new ones I signed up with are playing exactly the same games except now I spend hours phoning an expensive phone number to try to get it sorted, I would have been better off with the previous crooks…sorry company. I now buy much less food and don’t take so many baths, use special prefix numbers to make phone calls, and because I have no children it’s not hard to cut some expenses without suffering.

People who I have spoken to with shares tell me that although some have plummetted that the oil shares are doing very well thank you very much ( well I’ve heard they have plummetted too but considering the world oil shortage they are bound to recover) and that the oil companies are working the market. Basically the rich aren’t getting any poorer it seems because they are using their guile to make sure others are making up the deficit.

Anyone who lives on the kind of small budget where virtually all their money goes on food , utility bills and rent or mortgage are in trouble but those who can afford new handbags, golf clubs and holidays are probably fine.

In the future…well having less money has it’s good and bad points.
We are so much richer than so many countries around the world, obscenely rich, that I think it could be a good thing.
I feel sorry for all those living on “credit” and those who have been habitual shopaholics or huge boozers and who ran up massive bills. But if they can clear their debts then maybe they can live a lifestyle than is based more around the free things in life and gain and maintain self-esteem through non-material or alcoholic pursuits. Unfortunately a lot of naive people have been taken to the cleaners, they were encouraged to believe that being in debt was a good thing and even a trendy or essential thing to do. This includes students with massive loans and of course those with huge mortgages to repay.  Those who were not tempted to spend money they didn’t actually have are the lucky few.

Of course we do have a lot of people in London who are lost, separated, lonely, violent, depressed, don’t believe in anything but consummerism. How will things change for them?  Will some gangs become more violent with increasing poverty?
As it is the gap between the rich and the poor is wider in my experience than it had ever been before in my lifetime.

Will there be more violence on the streets or will there be a revolution?
If enough people are discontented will they just emigrate to another country or invade another one and acquire its wealth?
I am hoping that music will improve, culture, writing, thoughts, everything will deepen.
“Necessity is the mother of invention” they say.

When people feel powerless, poor and without any voice, that’s when they start to express themselves and to be creative, that’s when the big plastic void in the brains of consumers might start to clear and start to think again.

If you’ve something to say what are you waiting for?

I’ll leave  you some music

Love and Peace

Born2rant

* p.s. footnote I just found out that Kellogg’s have actually got a crunchy cereal with dried fruit as I described called ” Credit Crunchy” I promise that I had no idea of this! My brain is on the same wavelength as those who invent new brands of Kelloggs’s cereals! Frightening!

Christmas TV….My nightmare!( a personal rant with nothing much to do with hippiecounterculture)


Hello good people who read this blog

I will be bringing you more of the Dave Russell interview on the Arts and Community Centre in Notting Hill sometime soon. At the moment it is proving to be impossible due to the very bad internet connection I have with TalkTalk if it doesn’t get better soon I’ll be changing my connection.

As well as the usual Christmas nonsense, all the stress, shoppers in Central London pushing everyone out of their way with a look of hatred in their eyes and post Christmas party puke on the pavements, there is of course British Christmas TV.

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas , bloody hell it’s Christmas! The most over used phrase on TV is ” let us take the nightmare out of Christmas” then they tell you of some expensive useless present or recipe or chaos or essential wardrobe accessory you never even anticipated and make you worried that you just can’t do enough to get the perfect Christmas.

So here are a few moments emblazoned in my brain of Christmas TV.

I saw an episode of a programme where an Indian woman with a strong Scottish accent went into the home of a Jewish family in the role of a traditional matchmaker to arrange a marriage for 42 year old woman .

In Jewish culture they already have a matchmaker tradition so why bring in a Scottish woman to do it the traditional Indian way? She wanted to find a husband so they were getting the parents and grandmother to find one for her.

Now call me picky or unpolitically correct but would you really trust your parents to pick your perfect husband? NO! I scream NO!

If you really want a nightmare at Christmas imagine your parents introducing you to some totally inappropriate person who is just like your parents and telling you this is the person you will have children with and are stuck with forever. To some this may seem like a very good idea in which case do it but for me and I hope I am not alone ,I’d rather be unmarried forever than have my parents chose my friends let alone my husband!

The nice Indian woman kept telling the “spinster” that she was getting old now and that she was too picky and had to be more flexible. Great. That would boost my self-esteem. “Hey , you’re old now so just go for whatever we dredge up for you or you’ll be a lonely old haggard spinster and no one will ever love you. ”

I also watched a programme called “the mixdown” reviewing music from 2007 . On it they had 2 of the women from “Girls Aloud ” reading through “Hello” and “Heat” magazine to comment about the photos of celebrities and whether they looked good or not. Well of course that’s what musicians do isn’t it? I mean it could have been Beethoven and Mozart sitting there flicking through ” Nuts” and ” Zoo” magazine to compare the size of women’s breasts or something.

What the hell has happened to music? “Girls Aloud” seem to be on all the channels this Christmas partly because Robbie Williams is unavailable this year and partly because they are in this new film “St Trinians”. At a time when there is even an outcry from the government to stop sexualising young girls in the media and portraying children as sexually available in childrens TV programmes, on all channels they are promoting this film . “St Trinians” is a girl’s school where it seems that most of them are wearing suspenders , stockings, high heels, caked in make-up and basically tarts!! The band “Girls Aloud” who are in their mid-twenties also play schoolgirls in sexy school uniforms playing in a rock band. Maybe they can get an arranged marriage at the same time? They sing a song claiming to be the”Defenders of Anarchy”. I’m sorry but unless you’ve been beaten up by police for protesting against Global Warming you don’t qualify!

I also have unfortunately seen this new competition with bands being judged by a panel of experts called “Unsigned”. If people want to compete in ballroom dancing that’s one thing but band competitions? No!!!! I have actually been in two competitions without even wanting to and I nearly went on the X-factor ( yes I know, but I was going to do it in a rebellious way and was going to play the guitar and be myself)

The last time I was asked to come along to this thing at “Cargo” in London and to bring a CD of my songs. It was really grim but I smile when I think of it as I was myself and it confused the hell out of the panel. There were all these young guys in bands with their image sales talk honed. Everyone had submitted press packages and one had a publicity pack that filled an entire box file. Everyone had biographies and photos and had recorded their demos with professionals. As for me ,I was an old hippie in my hippie dress and I’d recorded something very experimental that afternoon called ” Pixies” using lots of samples of myself and tons of effects and although maybe it was like me, a bit untidy, I liked it!

When they played all the demos the “Panel of Music Biz Experts” all listened seriously and the young hopefuls were so nervous I thought some would pass out. They had perfectly produced tracks in immaculately copied genres or sub-genres of music. Then they were on trial and the judges criticised the lyrics or said the production wasn’t good enough or told them their image was wrong.

Then they played mine. I was laughing in the audience as they played it. It made Stockhausen sound like pop. It had no lyrics although there were vocals, lots of strange sounds and pretty awful production and I had scrawled my name on the CD. The panel looked annoyed.( but I still think it’s OK for an experimental track and it has a melody and proper guitar playing and I sing harmonies!) Three of them refused to make any comment saying it was a waste of their time and a guy I think the editor of DJ magazine actually liked it…well no he didn’t like it he just didn’t hate it as much as the others did. Then they asked the band responsible to stand up and there was me in my forties in my hippie dress facing the scum of the music biz and trying not to laugh. They said I knew how to use effects well but really not to bother.

I was so glad they didn’t like it and was even gladder when a month later I got one of my experimental tracks played on the Rob da Bank show on Radio One.

All those young guys in bands so nervous and wanting to please and spending a fortune , I’ve never seen or heard of them again and I was the one who got played on Radio One . There is some irony there.

So today as I watched on the TV the Empress Jo Whiley passing judgement on some band who was trying very hard to both look and sound original and to please a panel , I just thought of Hendrix and Lemmy and the 1970s version of Ozzie …I don’t think they would have appeared there and if they did they would have had to write music according to The Music Biz Bible ( I’m sure someone wanting to earn a buck has written one somewhere).

My God what has music come to? Whatever happened to the concept of rebellion in Music?

After watching more of that sad programme “The Mixdown” I realised it’s all like The Emperor’s New Clothes. The media tell you some band are fantastic and great and they become famous for a while but any trained musician can hear that what they are playing on their instruments is very simple , any poet can tell you their lyrics are either cliched or trying too hard to sound deep without any message. It’s all hype and even the musicians seem to believe it.

I also saw Top of The Pops 2 with a collection of awful Christmas singles, more nightmares of Christmas. Including this one. It’s Status Quo in costumes with a Paul McCartney song (well not really but it could be)

Merry Bloody Christmas! This song is growing on me..let’s revive The Wombles!

P.S. I just found out the band who won the “unsigned” competition are called “Revenue” it says it all really , you couldn’t have made it up!

What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)


What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity

Terrorism , paranoia and police state!

I have been quite reticent to write some of the items in the next few stories.
Firstly because I want to protect my old acquaintances and I worry that if MI5 or the FBI or Interpol or someone reads this that they will go berserk and want to find and arrest people.
***So all I will say to all you people who might be from any of those agencies is that all these events happened 23 or so years ago. All the people involved are either now completely law abiding or have had some form of psychiatric treatment. In 2007 we /they are no threat to any government or members of the public or to anyone at all.So calm down!

We are living in strange paranoid times. In the late 60s and 70s the London I grew up in was full of bombs. As a child I used to wake up regularly from some kind of explosion in the middle of the night. There were letter bombs and car bombs and bombs left in plastic bags in London and throughout the country mainly by the IRA but also by the PLO and others.In case the reader is too young to remember , Lord Mountbatten a public figure , famous as a soldier and member of the Royal Family , Prince Charles’ great-uncle and mentor was killed off the Irish coast by a bomb on his boat along with other members of his family and crew. Can you imagine the response if a member of the Royal Family was killed now. They would have to question every Muslim under 30 in the country!
There would be mass panic and 24 hour coverage on the news.
There were countless attacks on Britain by the IRA. The US government were often unsympathetic to these attacks.
Another case in point was the Brighton bombing in 1984 where the government were directly attacked at the Brighton Party conference. Five people died and several permanently disabled as a result, 34 others injured.
Now the daughter of one of the ministers killed in the blast Jo Berry who is an acquaintance of mine campaigns all over the world for peace. She has allied herself with the IRA bomber himself and both now campaign against terrorism and for peace. Whatever your opinion is on this matter , one has to admit it’s quite an achievement and can only inspire other former enemies to find a different way of bringing about change.

However if you watch the news these days you’d think we had never had a terrorist threat before in this country and that somehow we must live with constant surveillance and with extra police powers , and that we must at all times be scared and suspicious.
I understand that possibly the plans of Al-Qaeda are to cause devastation on a much bigger scale than for instance the IRA, and I understand that September the 11th was a terrible crime against humanity. I’m a pacifist and believe that violence just creates retaliation and more violence. I am not on the side of terrorists of any kind however I do think now part of our brainwashing is to leap on and kill anyone subversive in case they could be a terrorist threat. It’s Carte Blanche for the authorities to suppress and destroy any little group of subversives they come across and young people today are therefore not only apathetic about politics but also the ones who do protest put their lives at risk. Maybe that’s always been the case and young people were braver before.
It strikes me that a lot of the protests done by young people I know of is through ” partying” in public places or in ways that are unusual. These are protests but they are not overtly political but it’s certainly better than nothing and less risky to those involved.However the wonderful Circle Line parties , which I was lucky to take part in once, have been stopped because the Spacehijakers were worried about people getting taken for terrorists and harmed by the police. All we were doing was having a drink and a dance on the tube!
(only a few hundred of us on the same train).

My second reservation for telling you the following stories is because I do not want the readers to lose sight of the original message. The Anti-Media message is a vitally important one. It is anti-corporate, anti-advertising, anti-brainwashing to buy products we do not need at a time when the planet can no longer sustain our levels of production and consumption.
The Anti-Media message could almost be equated with Anti-Stupidity and thinking for yourself. However you will read in some of the following stories why I left it all got too extreme for me. However they are still great stories and I love to tell them. We weren’t terrorists , we were only challenging modern culture in our little ways. But still once explosives were involved I had to quit.
Have I mentioned at least three times that I am a pacifist? Good, then I will continue on a lighter note…

Odds and Ends
Some More Anti-media Stories

The Kidnap of Ronald Mac Donald

There was a plan to kidnap Ronald Mac Donald.
At children’s birthday parties at Mac Donald’s they often had a member of staff dressed as Ronald Mac Donald clowning around to entertain the kids. There was an Anti-Media plan to kidnap one and hold him for ransom.
A couple of years ago I bumped into Richard and asked him if this had ever taken place .
He told me there had been an attempt at this. They were a really nice bunch of people and although they often had pretty crazy plans they were too nice to ever do anyone any harm. They had modified their kidnap plan and instead they infiltrated Mac Donald’s and one of them got a job there and volunteered to do the children’s party dressed as Ronald McDonald.
As he was doing the party they pulled up a van outside and bungled him into the back and then sent a letter telling Mac Donald’s of various anti-media demands to be met or they wouldn’t see Ronald again. The plan failed because Mac Donalds ignored the letter and other bunglings. The guy quit but they may have made some kind of film of it somewhere.

The Mess-Age Magnet

Hogan and Howard had asked me if I wanted to contribute something to their Anti-Media magazine ( a contradiction in terms) called the Mess-age Magnet. When I asked them what kind of things they wanted me to write they told me to write anything. I like anarchic organisations of all sorts where you are given trust, freedom and responsibility. It brings out the best in me.
I didn’t know what to write. This must have been in 1985 while we were still doing Anti-Media events.
Every summer myself, Michael and our son would go off to free festivals. That year was particularly interesting as the free festival scene and the country was changing.
The scene had changed because it was growing and Magaret Thatcher was calling us all
” medieval brigands”
although I think the most illegal thing we did on our travels was to sell excellent tea, real coffee and pancakes at a very cheap price from our makeshift cafe without a license . We were even parked on land where it was legal to do so, but the government changed the laws so that The Stonehenge Festival became illegal, and other festivals on sites where there had been traditional fairs, and squatting rights, common land laws etc..were all changed so that our little peaceful free festivals became illegal. As they became illegal the people who went to them changed too. But that’s another story.
In 1985 on our travels from festival to festival we landed at The Cantlin Stone festival. It was one of the happiest times of my life. We were travelling with other groups of hippies in little tribes to deserted places and living off common land, collecting wood, the children who were not wild as they were at some festivals were playing together exploring the hills and countryside around from sunrise to sunset. Every single person I met at Cantlin Stone had interesting tales to tell. Many had come from Hull and other northern towns. Some told us they had been unemployed for several years due to the closing down of different industries and had decided that instead of being on the dole and living in a city full of desolation and junkies that they had chosen to take to the open road, living on buses and in teepees. It was an idyllic lifestyle. I was never lonely, I always felt supported, so happy and so rich in the company of so many benevolent and highly intelligent and colourful interesting people. We were living without TV or newpapers or news and we were very happy.
Therefore it was while I was at Cantlin Stone, perched up on a hill of heather and woods which the forester had shown me was damaged by acid rain, that I wrote about my time there and how our whole sense of selves changed from being away from TV and all sources of news. In fact we probably were in the news if not at that festival then at others we travelled to that summer without our knowledge.
My contribution to the magazine was only 2 pages long. The rest were collages of newspaper and magazine clippings and cartoons with scrawled comments on various issues such as” Is Modern Life Rubbish?“, ” Dress like the pig you are“, “If you think home-taping is killing music you know nothing in either ear.“, ” Love me less, respect me more”.
There were articles about many issues:

” ANTImedia seeks GURLS to contribute to magazine and performances. a GURL regards her environment with contempt and distrust..she is fed up of seeing her contemporaries hanging around with men who are fashion conscious cool and hedonistic….GURLS don’t like the media one bit.”

Another page had a ten step programme ( with 13 steps of course) .They are a bit dated as now it would be computers and computer games and social networking sites and cds and dvds they would avoid as well as TV. Also men with pony tails were quite slimy and trendy at the time and Walkmans were the latest thing…but anyway.

TEN STEPS

1. Turn down the volume on your television during advertisements

2. Turn off altogether

3. Sell television ( and/or all modern conveniences such as expensive hi-fi , or extensive record collection).

4.Cancel standing subscriptions to any daily/weekly/monthly magazines

5.Avoid high neon low life restaurants and take away diners.

6. Avoid high streets and shops bigger than the size of a living room.

7. Allow not your gaze to wander onto street adverts, thus immediately disarming the use of said items.

8. Make a stencil and disfigure the above adverts and invent other creative ideas to occupy yourself positively during your newly found creative life.

9. Tell your friends and discuss anti media ideas with them.

10. Lose them

11. Avoid all modern so called culture.

12. de centralize anti-media by forming your own groups

13. With your new capital from abstaining from bad goods, finance anti-media housing, transport, publications, etc..like buying a pair of garden shears to clear obstacles from underground trains, such as ponytails and walkman leads .
Take the ten steps and your life can only be Improving.”

A flat in Bloomsbury and the Telecom Conspiracy

Hogan had a flat in Bloomsbury and I was invited to come to an anti-media meeting there to discuss various plans.
Hogan used to live there in a media free zone. I remember him telling me he’d met this homeless guy , who I think was an alcoholic and allowed him to move in for a while for free.
Hogan, Richard and Andy were there plus myself and my son.
During the meeting I needed to make a phone call. By the phone there was a window and what I thought was a telescope next to it . However you didn’t need a telescope to see the BT tower. It had been the Post Office Tower but we were living in an era where the Thatcherite government was privatising public companies. The GPO( General Post Office) had split and now we had British Telecom sold off in shares along with British Gas, British Rail etc.. It is hardly surprising that anti-corporate anti-media would have resented the newly renamed Telecom Tower and all the publicity in launching the British Telecom brand.
I saw a jar by the phone which was full of coins and I assumed it was to go towards the phone bill. So I offered to pay for my call and put some money in the jar.
However as I offered to put in ten pence for the bill they told me that each time someone made a call the money was not going to pay British Telecom but to buy explosives to blow up the Telecom Tower. I then looked at the telescope again and I think they were going to use it as some kind of rocket launcher and it was pointed straight up at the Telecom Tower a couple of streets away.

If you haven’t already done so please read my note above ***.

Anyway I rejoined the meeting not sure if this was a joke but my head was swimming and I knew I needed to rethink my involvement with them. Later they gave me and my son a lift home. I have never been so scared in the back of a car. Richard had just learned to drive and had a full license but Andy was driving with a provisional license. The drive was very scary and I seem to remember us going the wrong way up one-way streets and through red lights etc..My son was oblivious and I rediscovered a long-lost belief in God as I prayed we would make it home. After a while Richard said to Andy casually ” So when’s your first driving lesson?”.
After this I reflected and I knew that although my friends were lovely and I agreed with their challenging the media and mass consumerism that somewhere along the line there was a screw loose and marbles gone a-missing.
I still didn’t know if they were joking about the explosives but I knew I would not be part of it anymore. Pooing shit on the TV is one thing( see previous post about crap on the tv), saving up for explosives and my son’s safety were another. It had got too extreme for me.

Exploding Jimmy Tarbuck

About a week or so after that in the rush hour along one of London’s busiest roads they exploded something. There was a huge billboard of Jimmy Tarbuck’s face grinning next to a giant 3 D microwave. In the microwave oven there was a 3D rotating turkey. It was a whole 3D installation, trying to persuade people to roast their turkeys at Christmas in a newly available microwave oven.
They put an incendiary device behind the turkey and it exploded to the amazement of people caught in rush hour traffic. They immediately then called the fire brigade as the billboard was catching fire. No one was hurt, Jimmy Tarbuck’s huge grinning face remained intact.Please see note *** above!

Russell and his explosions

Russell poor lad was one of the anti-media crew I knew less well than the others. I had been out for a drink with him and others once in Hampstead . I barely knew Russell and a couple of others I have not mentioned as they did not perform at the Anti-media Pentameters events or come to Dead Dog promotions /Treatment gigs..( see previous entries in blog for Pentameters events).

When I met him , Russell was shy and quiet, he looked a bit like a young Bob Dylan but wearing some kind of chunky hand-knitted jumper with pictures on it. I thought he looked like the kind of repressed kid who might have been bullied as a child. Russell got a kick from exploding things. Hogan and Richard had told me a few tales about Russell’s behaviour before he finally got psychiatric treatment.
Hogan had left the flat in Bloomsbury and shared a house with Russell for a while. In order to entertain themselves they started to paint furniture and objects in the house, then the carpet was painted. I think Hogan was trying to find something therapeutic for Russell to do as his mental state was clearly worrying. Then Russell took it a stage further and started to set fire to things around the house, he even put lighter fuel on the lawn and set fire to that.
By then Hogan started to realise this was no longer “anti-media art” but simply lunacy and couldn’t live with him anymore. Richard had also told me a story where they were visiting Russell’s parents and he suddenly let off an incendiary device in their living room. He told the others to run and drive off but their car wouldn’t start and eventually being in the middle of a remote part of Scotland and without mobile phones, they had to go back into the parent’s house. They helped them with the damage and then called the AA waiting for them in the family home Russell had just tried to destroy.
Please read note ****

Epilogue

So that is the story of Anti-Media or what I can remember of it.
It went from idealism into anarchy and insanity but the idealism without the insanity is what we need now. We need to counteract the power and morals of the media, advertising and corporate thinking if this planet is ever to have any hope of a future. But not with bombs, explosives or violence but with words and thoughts and hopefully communities collaborating away from media and advertising intervention.

So where are they now?
I bumped into Richard at The Notting Hill Arts Centre where he was DJing. As well as being a DJ and he also set up his own record label and worked for a couple of other independent labels and a music project involving a member of Blur. I asked him if he had talked to anyone from Blur about them using our slogan “Modern Life is Rubbish”. He told me that a few years back they had written to Sony records to complain that they were using our slogan without our permission but didn’t get a reply. He said he might mention it again in the future.

I bumped into Hogan a few years ago in an Oxfam shop in Drury Lane where I was working . He still buys his clothes in Oxfam shops. He had a couple of adoring women in tow. He looked exactly the same and hadn’t changed in 20 years, neither has Richard. Hogan told me he was now working as a documentary maker and had just made a series for the BBC.

I last saw Leonie and Om together as a happy couple at a blues gig at the George Robey opposite The Rainbow in Finsbury Park before Club Dog moved there. He was playing harmonica on stage with a blues/garage band with other friends of mine including Clive and Adam from Treatment. Leonie was expecting a baby.

The other Anti-Media people I have never seen again.
As for me I live in Notting Hill and I write and teach music and recently started writing blogs in response to my son’s request and a guy from Wigan who wanted some stories about completely different things but which involved some of the same community. Next Monday more ranting and a new chapter “The Chainsaw Party” .

Astragone Arglegargle (that’s me that is!)

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