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 !!!!


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!