Thursday, September 30, 2004

Taking it Back Undergound To Be Anchored In The Mainstream

Back in 1995 every kid in my class fancied themselves as some sort of pill munching monkey. Decked out in baggy pants with funny straps, ying and yang symbols , cartoon rastas and about thirty hidden pockets to hide a stash none of us ever had. With bad step hair cuts and Scooter on every pencil case, this was the era of whirring legs at the GAA disco as kids fell ovre themselves doing the Leeroy every time "No Good Start The Dance" came on. Musically tracks like "Voodoo People" chewed up a Nirvan riff and spat it back, while the song "3 Kilos" with its wonderful use of a flute solo deserves special mention. God knows what brought rave to rural Ireland, but the chart success of numerous albums like Jilted Generation laid enough of a ground work to ensure that every edition of "Top Thirty Hits" had at least one hardcore track to the backdrop of a swirling psychedelic record label logo.

Jilted was the first album I ever bought, and the indent it left on my musical tastes has been lasting. From the cartoon crusty on the inlay chopping the bridge across a chasm to prevent the cops raiding a rave, to the Pop Will Eat Itself colloboration on "Their Law". With its ripping guitar, the buidling towards a tense beat, twisting samples and an eerie hum of a vocal whispering "Im the law, you can't beat the law." The subversiveness of the popular became readily obvious. "Their Law defined the context producing the album. After years of illegal raves, tabloid hysteria and state embarrassment over anti-roads campaigns, the British introduced the Criminal Justice Act on the back of pressure from the breweries lobby. Leaving dance as the first form of music to be directly legislated against as "music wholly defined or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succesion of repeative beats." "So to stop my work falling into wrong hands, I've taken it back underground" announced Howlett at the start but ironically with pure sonic terrorism it swept up the charts. Jilted anchored them in the mainstream, the perfect embodiment of the indie cross over methodology. A bloated bloke panting up and down the aisles while faux sneering, the B celeb pages of Sunday tabloid insert mags and compilation tapes being passed off as solo projects; these were all to come.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Urban 75: An Example Of What The Net Can Do

The website urban75 has been around for years as an online focus for Brixton residents. In 2002 urban75 hit the headlines. A regular poster called `Colinthecop' had riled up its users with homophobic comments and his claim that "the people of Brixton deserve to be treated with contempt". In response Brian Paddick (commander in chief of Brixton's police force) came onto the site and ended up debating cannabis policies, political philosophies and methods to improve community relations.

Of course the tabloids got whiff of it. The Sun's frontpage headline screamed "The Odd Bill: I back ANARCHY" and eventually exposed that Paddick was gay and smoked dope with a past lover. He got the chop. Since then urban75 has flourished as a site of controversy. It Provides reasonable advice on drugs, enlightening discussions on politics, on-the-ground accounts from the UK left and photo archives from music festivals and protests stretching back to the early nineties.

There's also a host of games to piss away hours online at work. Downing Street Fighter rips off Street Fighter pitting individuals from the Conservatives and New Labor against each other in combat. Punch a Celeb lets you hammer the crap out of the obnoxious gits gracing the tabloids. Urban75 is a great example of how the net has facilitated the creation of new communities of interest and culture. Check it out.


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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Rent Is Robbery

Derelict Just Off LUASIts that time of year again, when a vast majority of students realise one simple thing: we are being ripped off by our landlords. You’ve probably couch surfed for weeks, or ran around trying to open accounts in what ever bank it is that will extend an immediate over draft. Whatever you’ve done, you can be sure you’ll be fucked over once a month for the coming year for a substantial amount of cash. And it feels like plain fucking legalised robbery.

If you are lucky enough to receive the pathetic grant, you’ll realise that with average rents well over €350 and spiralling, the state is leaving you ripped off. The options facing you are living at home and commuting long distances. Skipping classes and working long hours to pay rent. Or simply living in over crowded and cramped gaffs in the ‘student land’ of Rathmines or the like. None of these options are pleasant, and nothing is more distasteful than the accommodation crisis so many of us are forced into because we don’t have access to the cash to by pass it.

One thing is certain, this crisis is artificial, the resources are there, its an issue of how they are being used. We are being held to ransom for higher rents, at the threat of having no where to stay, landlords inflate rents on their own personal whims. Buildings through out the city are left derelict as developers take advantage of the fact that property prices have risen a staggering 166% over the past six years, while your usual bank interest rate is around 6% for investment. The state which has long since defended the interests of these cartels, refuses to move against the derelicts and only a tiny percentage of them are forced to pay the 3% tax the law prescribes.

Why should we expect any different, senior council officials have acted as paid advisors/ facilitators to property hoarders for years. Lest anybody should question the link between house builders and Fianna Fail, the names of Burke, Lawlor and Reilly are clear examples of the corruption involved. Ray Burke received over £1 million from a single builder alone. Liam Lawlor, acting as an extremely well paid agent for various builders, distributed massive amounts of cash to corrupt politicians and council officials in return for the re-zoning of designated tracts of land owned by his paymasters. Paddy Reilly, a former election agent of Bertie Ahern, was involved in the cheap purchase of a large number of premises in central Dublin and renovated them for resale.

The recent revelation that over 20 people named in the Ansbacher fraud were builders and developers should come as no surprise. Neither should the fact that while the state provided 6,133 social houses last year, 62,686 private ones went up. So before its even finalised the state have broken the last bout of social partnership. A telling indictment of who it really benefits. Any attempt to reach similar agreements with authorities ends up in similar farce. Where as UCD have promised to build more student accommodation for years, they haven't bothered and just let the issue slide. Instead they are happy to do land swaps with developers, and sell off land for private apartment complexes instead of build student housing.

The worst part about it all is how the issue is being dealt with by our representatives. They seem only happy you just redirect us to the same websites we’ve been scouring for gaffs already. Attempts to even tackle the issue politically consist of tokenistic stunts at the usual time and place every year, expect tents, posturing and not a whole lot more. These is no real attempt made to challenge the monopolistic behaviour of the landlords, no attempt to link in the fact that more than just students are being fucked over, but anyone who can’t afford housing at extortionate rates is.

Last summer a group of young people squatted one of these derelicts, making a home and a social centre in the process of renovating it. The landlord didn’t even notice, he had been in South Africa for over a decade, and had forgotten about this four story Georgian building on Leeson St. This happens all over the city: the next time you take the LUAS, have a gawk and see the derelicts fly pat, left abandoned until property prices shoot up. Of course these kids were thrown out by the cops.

The state is there to protect the hoarders, introducing the 2002 Anti-Trespass Act to move travellers off illegal halting sites, but potentially directing it against squatters as well. The core of the issue is how our society sees property, at the moment it is an individual thing. Housing ties into everything else, it is one of those ridiculous situations that our rulers persist in forcing on us. The notion that one class of people have a right to deprive another of a home, for the sake of making money playing the property market. Instead, like education, housing should be treated as social thing not something to be exploited for the private gain of an enriched few.

Once my own landlord demanded bank receipts off us because he has so much money coming into his accounts from various houses he was failing to keep track of it, and this was in a house where sellotape was used on the windows to keep the dampness out. We are being ripped off and its about bloody time we did something about it.

Usually, we seek the easiest option. When it comes to housing the easiest option is working more hours, or getting into more debt. Individual acts that sort the problems temporarily for ourselves, but allow them, to fester and worsen. We are increasingly being pushed to a situation where these individual solutions are exerting an unprecedented pressure on us. When that happens, we need to realise the political problem that lies at the root of this housing crisis. To be blunt, property is theft and nothing is more outrageous than leaving buildings dormant around the city to make a quick kill on the market when others go homeless.

If we want to do something about the housing crisis facing us, we need to start facing it head on. Highlighting the ridiculous nature of it, how buildings lie dormant to jack up rent prices, who’s doing this and what we can do to sort it. In three words. Squat the lot.

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Monday, September 06, 2004

UCD Toilets and the Cult of Pat Patterson,

While fond of taking reading material to the bog myself, those of you who stare at the wall while emptying your anal tract must be delighted. Last year saw an unprecedented rise in the quality of toilet graffiti. From warning signs on toilet doors for limbo dancing midgets to the personality of Pat Paterson, who with the velocity of a whirlwind has grabbed UCD. Who the fuck he is, and more to the point what the fuck he actually does remains a mystery. Yet in toilets across UCD, his name appears beside philosophical and political insights. Incredulous claims to adventure leave you questioning your own waste of a life while wiping your arse.

He’s as likely to be ‘a cow boy and on a stolen horse he’ll ride, wanted dead or alive’ that ‘buggered the Salmon of Knowledge’ or ‘the kind of mate that would use the opportunity of you being outta Dublin to fuck your girlfriend.’ Someone always claims the inside track, but fling off ‘who the fuck is it?’ with all the competence in intrigue of the French resistance. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then the Patterson prankster’s probably broken out all over in blushes, due to Tanzy 64’s attempt to usurp him on the Belfield toilet walls. As one scrawler said ‘Tanzy 64 – your grafiitii means nothing to no-one else, its your own sad little in joke – I’m embarrassed for you.’ Aren’t we all.

There is however a much more serious side to toilet graffiti in UCD. If you’re a guy reading this, strike up conversation with any of your female friends, and two wholly different worlds emerge. Back in the day when we all suffered under the yoke of Catholicism, female toilet walls provided a free forum for the discussion of issues of health and sexuality that only began to have an airing when auld uncle Gaybo fell from the moon to liberate us all. Rather than languish, the tradition continues in Belfield. Where random and anonymous female posters seek advice on relationships and matters of sexual health. As a questions asked, answers unfold below it. Those languishing on the toilet with a pen to spare in the female jacks seem to produce a more altruistic flavour of graffiti. One poster who availed of the agony aunt style advice one can get from the toilet wall, used the sexually ambiguous ‘partner’ in her question. People replied using ‘s/he’ and ‘partner. Skip over to the boys jacks, and we are left with a level of secondary school like immaturity that defies belief. The heterosexual reigns supreme, the only place the mute suggestion of an alternative choice has is as a term of abuse for whatever random punter’s unfortunate enough to hang around with such goons.

Politics transcends gender, with the class war raging in both loos. ‘Will all northsiders fuck off back to Tallafornia and found some shit hole college for their single mothers and 50° angle wearing knackers and stop polluting the Southside’ mutters one moron, who I won’t credit with the ability for metaphor in his neglecting the fact that Tallaght is on the Southside, and does have its own college. Over in the girls, the ‘oompa lumpa’s of UCD’ who ‘dip their face in a bucket of fake tan’ before parading themselves around the concourse like a luminous orange vest in heels come in for attack. They also seem capable of equally vicious retaliations. Over the past few years, the political climate in UCD has grown and so it finds reflection in the jacks. ‘Fuck socialism’ type slogans linger, alongside more robust retorts mimicking D4 stereotypes : ‘Yeah and fuck the Colombians and their families, let them all be murdered. Cos standing up for your beliefs, is loike, SO, not cool. Roysh?’

Still, the mystery of Pat Paterson remains, at this stage someone has set up a website to document his favourite quips. Oddly, the site seems to be done by a Trinity student warning ‘Puny Belfieldians! Your little minds cannot perceive that Pat Paterson is a Trinity concept, conceived upon by the gods themselves. His powers have been bestowed from Zeus himself, an all powerful and friendly god’. Get stoned get philosophical and some things make sense. Pat is both a male and female name. Pater is the latin for father. Seems very catholics doesn’t it? So it would seem Pat Paterson is an non gendered entity, that is both their own father and son. FACT. As God is made in our image, so Pat is the aspiration of all our individual desires scrawled on the bathroom wall, the existential crisis of a generation of students. I’m not hedging my bets on it. I’ still waiting to see a ‘Pat Paterson Only Wears Ambercrombie’ advertising campaign, like every body else that was taken in by the ‘Bernie’ ads that appeared in all major Irish magazines over the summer. A granny in a pink rain coat that stole our sympathy, spending her savings on full page ads to shame her family for squabbling over her savings, turned out to be a marketing ploy. That’s my theory. What’s yours?

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Sunday, September 05, 2004

Ambushing the Bush: The Thoughts of Those That Organised

In organising protests against the Bush visit our main goal wasn’t to protest against Bush or his government, but rather to contribute to and continue the two years of anti-war actions against military re-fuelling at Shannon airport. The Bush visit was an opportunity, a symbol of the Irish government’s complicity with war and occupation. It was apt that he used Shannon airport to come here.

The first protest I was at in Shannon, in August 2002 had just 60 to 70 people on it. Since then a similar number of people have been through court over participation in demonstrations, peace camps and direct action at the warport. 150 people took part in a mass trespass on the runway grounds in October 2002, a month before hand a warplane was re-painted, in January 2003 thousands demonstrated at the airport and a peace camp was set up for several weeks, then two planes were disarmed, and there was an attempt at openly repeating the success of the October ’02 trespass. The “Ambush” was about re-kindling this resistance into the long term.

The Bike Tour and Build Up.

On Bloomsday, we’d hooded the Joyce Statue, and hung a placard reading ‘History is the Nightmare from which I am trying to awake, Bush Is Not Welcome’ around his neck. The Saturday before the visit, dressed in a luminous orange boiler suit a la Camp X Ray, I was sweltering in the June heat as we pushed a throne/shopping trolley for Bush around sites of Irish state and corporate complicity. Then there was the Bikes Against Bush Tour, an “organised coincidence” of cyclists free wheeling from Dublin to Shannon over the space of a week.

Needless to say, the sun was gone, and it pissed rain from morning to night for the duration of the cycle. You could say flinging yourself down a hill that took an hour and a half to get up and two minutes to get down was a buzz. But you could also call it suicidal, since the rain had reduced braking power to zilch, and left you wondering if a set of flippers would help. After such a journey, we greeted Shannon, hippies and vegan mush with relished grins.

Peace Camping It On A Traffic Island.

The peace camp was to be located on a large traffic island between two roads, just inside what we believed was going to be the state’s “exclusion zone” for the protests. It was at once an act of defiance, two fingers of resistance to a state security operation designed to deter protest, a signal for protesters to start arriving and a logistical base to organise and coalesce our dissent. Being followed by special branch for the best part of a day can be unnerving, especially when you already know they’ve pulled over a van load of your tents and equipment. With the camp set up, a critical mass of protesters began to arrive in the area.

A police raid gave us ridiculous sight of cops bursting balloons that apparently could have taken down Air Force One. But it wasn’t so funny being dragged out of a car, with several muppets bleating “Section 32, Offences Against the State Act”, while violently grabbing video cameras that were filming the ‘ring of steal’ for an Indymedia documentary (that took place on a journey to pick up some lattes and breakfast rolls in Shannon town centre).

The Friday demo had the welcome support of several hundred Shannon residents. Billed “Reclaim The Skies with Light And Noise”, there was neither light nor noise despite the promise of a Reclaim the Streets type event. It drizzled, and spirits fell as a rather dull, traditional march unfolded. There was too much placard waving, too many never ending speeches from second rate politicians, and not enough sound systems.

We Ambush Bush.

The assembly point for Saturday’s demo was to be Bunratty castle. We had chosen it in order to have a publicised fall back for both the Friday night Anti-war Ireland (AWI) demo and the Saturday Ambush demo. That morning in the peace camp there were two simultaneous meetings, one an assembly of all campers and the second a meeting of delegates from Galway Grassroots, Dublin Grassroots, and the bike tour. We had appointed these delegates with the specific task of mapping out a route for the march, and then seeking general approval for this route. Campers agreed to an assembly point at the camp and a march route up the N18 north -westward in the direction of that section of the N19/N18 blocked off for the Bush entourage. If stopped, the plan was to pick another access way to Shannon Warport.

This meant that we had chosen as our route the same pathway as Bush and the gang. Thus we aimed to simultaneously disrupt the summit, highlight the use of Shannon airport as a pitstop of war, and challenge the state’s security zone - something for all the family as it were. To do so we had to avoid the state-approved road into Shannon (which we had taken at the previous night’s demo). As far as organisation was concerned, decision-making on the day, with as much flexibility as possible, was the only way to go; we couldn’t know beforehand what we were going to face.

In the run up to the Ambush we had discussed the possibility of a much wider exclusion zone, and anticipated the danger that our buses would be stopped and turned back. We also didn’t know how many protesters to expect ourselves. So decisions had to be made on the hoof. We assembled at the peace camp by the Clonmoney fly-over, the head of the march formed by the “Mid-west Against Military Aggression” banner, next to that a cluster of red and black flags, and alas but a solitary green and black. As we headed off up the open road with energy and enthusiasm, our zeal only slightly tempered with a little trepidation, the stock of hooters recently acquired from Catalonia added a celebratory cacophony to the chants of ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets!’.

As we advanced up the Dual Carriageway a desultory attempt was made to stop us, police hurriedly erecting a steel crowd control barrier. A few people ran to its sides, a few more ran to hop over it or push it aside, and we were through, the path cleared for the main body of protesters. As we approached the junction and flyover of the N19/N18, the section of road reserved for the honourable leaders of the free world, a more serious attempt at blocking our path was made. About one hundred riot cops sealed off both lanes of the road. We fanned out across both lanes.

Here we drummed, danced, did street theatre, or wandered about confusedly while probes were made into the adjoining fields. They had little capacity there to stop us on the Shannon side, but advocates of this route didn’t get a critical mass for such an attempt. At this time the phones of the spokespeople started buzzing with the question – ‘Why are you blocking the media?’

It appeared that the American press corps were re-routed from Ennis to Drumoland along our road, this being a means of avoiding the Dublin Catholic Worker/Galway Drummers performance of Macbeth, the various autonomous actions, and the IAWM protest. As it happened the media people who went through Clarecastle, according to the Independent, were delayed for all of 30 seconds, while those who took the detour ran straight into the ambush.

As Colum Kenny wrote in the Sunday Independent: “The Irish organisation of President George Bush’s visit turned into farce yesterday when scores of journalists were kept late for the final press conference. A 15-minute straight journey became a two-hour nightmare as the official buses full of media were brought on a massive detour of Co Clare in order to miss the protestors – only to find that the protestors had outsmarted gardai and blocked the roads.”

The Prime Time special live from Drumoland showed the American press corps running to take their seats, and the press conference delay was headline news across the United States.

Now, as riot police resolutely blocked our path, it was time to find an alternative route, as had been agreed earlier. We turned round and headed back down the N18 in the direction from which we had come, back towards the peace camp.

At Ballycasey Beg, we turned and went cross country through wasteland at the rear of the industrial estate at Smithstown, and reaching a Lufthansa building ran straight into two Irish Army armoured cars. Refusing to be intimidated by armour or lines of balaclava clad riot cops, the mood was festive and celebratory as well as defiant. We expressed our feelings about the ridiculous coercive apparatus unveiled by the Irish state by surrounding and blockading the two armoured cars.

Finally making our way down to Drumgeely, where an IAWM rally was being held, we were somewhat parched, bedraggled and tired from our exertions. The mood was one of exaltation and excitement. Probably the best demonstration in Shannon since the mass trespass on October 12th 2002, or perhaps even the best.

The Chomksy Lite Bit.

The focus on George Bush as an individual obscures how the capitalist world economy itself engenders war and how American administrations headed by Democrats, such as we are likely to have before this year is out, are no often no less bloody than those of their Republican counterparts.

From the perspective of American capital, securing a permanent military enclave in the Gulf region is a paramount goal. As the influential Washington think-tank, the “Project for a New American Century” puts it: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

The reason being, 64% of the world’s known oil reserves lie in the Gulf region. Since the early nineties, with the ending of the Cold War, American “defence” planning documents have openly stated the goal of preventing the emergence of another “great power competitor”. Control of Middle East oil is crucial to this: while America itself is not dependant on these supplies, much of the world is – including Europe and Japan.

The oil producing states are a gold mine, not only from oil itself, but also from the arms their oil rich monarchies purchase from the U.S., plus their investments in land, hotels, and other enterprises in the West. Thus it makes a difference if oil profit is spent on American arms, or invested in New York hotels, as with that of Saudi Arabia, or if it is ploughed into internal development (as has been the case with Iraq and Iran). As the Washington Post put it: “Since 1981, U.S. construction companies and arms suppliers have earned more than $50 billion in Saudi Arabia, according to the Congressional Research Service. More than 30,000 Americans are employed by Saudi companies or joint U.S.-Saudi ventures and U.S. investments in the country reached $4.8 billion in 2000, according to the Commerce Department. The U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. recently was chosen by the Saudi government to lead two of three consortiums developing gas projects worth $20 billion to $26 billion.” (Washington Post 21/9/01)

UN sanctions outlawing trade with Iraq had, in recent years, been increasingly flouted, principally by French, Russian and Chinese companies. Foreign oil contracts worth $ 1.1 trillion had been made by the Hussein regime in the last decade. Had sanctions ended without “regime change”, American corporations would have been left out in the cold. This became a powerful impetus for “regime change” in Iraq.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia, America’s main trading partner and military garrison in the Gulf is no longer stable. Most of the 9/11 attackers were from there, an American “defence” planning document went so far as to describe the country as the “kernel of evil”. Turn Iraq into a playground for American interests and there is less dependence on Saudi Arabia and thus it’s ruling dynasty is more vulnerable to American pressure. The trade sanctions against Iraq during the nineties were in part a means of supporting Saudi Arabia by removing the competition of Iraqi oil from the market.

The world’s oil is traded in dollars, helping to make the dollar the world’s most important currency. Much of the world’s central bank reserves are held in dollars. This allows the U.S. the ability to survive the sort of trade deficit (i.e. to import far more than is exported) and national debt that elsewhere would cause a massive currency devaluation. However parts of OPEC (the consortium of oil producing states), have been moving to the euro in recent years (this had included Iraq), while others are considering doing so. Control of Iraqi oil is a means of breaking OPEC before it moves over to euro.

The alternative explanation that American intervention is motivated by worthy humanitarian concerns and desire for peace and security cannot be reconciled with the reality of American policy. But having dismissed this naïve view, it’s equally important to realise that the war and occupation is not some sort of connivance of a megalomaniac politician with his buddies from the oil industry in a smash and grab raid on Iraq. Rather, this war is a strategic and economic imperative for American capitalism.

The Legacy Of The Democrats.

Thus if Kerry wins in November it will make no difference. One only has to look at the track record of the Clinton administration, in power for most of the years of the sanctions which blocked trade with Iraq. To understand the impact of sanctions you have to appreciate the devastating impact of the 1991 war on the civilian infrastructure. Bombs destroyed it, and then sanctions prevented its repair, by preventing the importation of spare parts and new materials, and also by closing down the economy of the country so much less hard currency was available to fund such imports.

American Department of Defence documents from the period openly discuss the impacts of the bombing of the water supply, electricity network and sanitation services. According to "Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad", a Pentagon document: "Food-and waterborne diseases have the greatest potential for outbreaks in the civilian and military population over the next 30 to 60 days. Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems."

On May 12 1996, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked about sanctions by Lesley Stahl of CBS television: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Those expecting that a Kerry victory in this year’s American presidential elections will be like a rainbow breaking through the clouds might remember that was Madeleine Albright has been tipped for a post in the Kerry administration.


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Friday, September 03, 2004

A Chemically Enhanced Glastonbury

Seriously – how much top soil can one farmer loose in a year even if the farm is mainly for show? Apparently it was far from the muddiest Glasto ever but, apart for one wonderful Friday, it was far from the driest either. Mud is fascinating stuff. It has its glistening, slick, ultra wet stage. Then, the sticky "give" of the "lose your balance and spinning down like a prat phase". Saw one guy pirouette on the way down, break dance style and save him self with his wrist. Two young scousers who had been throwing each other in for about an hour paused to shake hands and big him up on his superb technique. Its clumpy weigh down your boots with huge mats of soil, drying out phase. People get peeved and heave clods of it at signposts. And the final dry to rock hard clay bit.

All Aboard The Non Existent Shuttle Buses...

As vehicles leave the site every single one has its tires sprayed as experience has taught them that it will go for miles along the high ways of Somerset. And it still does. All over ya boots. All over the floor of First Company's busses. All over the concrete floors of bus depots from Brighton, to Bath, to Bristol., to Wells and Shepton mallet and even in London Town. All over airport departure lounges, on the floor of Aer Lingus planes. And in between me darn finger nails and down this keyboard.

Build up

Bristol is a sleepy little city. It contains the Suspension bridge, the first Iron Steam Ship and a few museums, maybe, one day's amusement. Four days to kill tends to hang on you. Mind you the first poster we saw pointed us to one excellent gig. Drum and Bass may well be dead but it still has a couple of enclaves – of which Bristol is, with out a doubt, one. Andy C and Bad Company were superb. Ragga Twins – good and Dynamite MC pretty lousy. Any way what else? This gig it was in a big ware house entitled The Carling Academy and was hosted by the desperately named Drive By Crew – a birthday bash for the even more bizarrely monikored MC Foxy (a male MC Foxy at that!) I tell you there are plenty of young kids necking pills and doing some fancy jungle moves and the clubs stay open till 4 am.

Even more interestingly, the venue was hosting Alternative Glastonbury with no less a band then The Cure for a mere 3 quid. We had spent 6 months sweating and worrying our way through the impossible task of actually, somehow, collecting tickets and getting into Glastonbury. Finally after
visiting the Bus Station a couple of times – a master plan for the festival was presented. Of course heres…

What Actually Happened

Got up about eight got to the Station at nine about 20 crusty souls awaited the first Glastonbury bus. I have to hand it to First Coach they had made the effort. Private security to count us and look after the luggage. Bus took a gawd awful long route to site maybe 1 ½ hours. Dee and Seth equipped with tickets headed off to pitch tent in howling storm. Krossie and Paul sat down to await Shuttle bus and waited and waited.

Free shuttle bus proved as non-existent as it had been in former times. So a taxi was in order. Us and some grumpy hippy. The grumpy hippie was very grumpy – taxi man hit him for seven and us for four. Lesson: grumpy doesn't always get the goods! Arrived in the Amulet – which turned out to be a small venue and not some hippy craft shop as expected. Q was three or four very enthusiastic Dutch people – got tickets – decamped to pub for bitter and dinner- sweet. Stocked up on supplies and waited about another 40 minutes until back comes the same taxi driver. Slow drive back to site – but did it in about an hour. A muddy, muddy process of reception and branding – and then a forced march to Lost vagueness and then a wet and muddy tent pitching and after that things did nothing but get better and better.


Very quite and pretty fecking hot. The initial mud dries. Shipped way too much sun in the afternoon and immediately paid the obvious penalty. Spent most of the night watching England sinking like a stone. Its funny in that I had Portugal put down as a team almost set-up to be sliced apart by the Brits. Strange atmosphere standing there with 80,000 of them when the realisation sunk in – very, very quite. I wandered into the Leftfield for a while. A full time knees up drum and bass rave was sweeping the place – well a bit more exciting than Tony Benn the next day! Even got some sleep. By now about 50,000 people on site with 100,000 more to go!


Day one of Glastonbury proper and a scorcher. If it did one thing it made me a lifetime convert! In the dance tent an individual by the name of Cake Boy was dropping some reasonably good breaks to a smallish crowd – hey it was only eleven. We stayed about ½ an hour. Weirdly for a self confessed raver I only made one more short visit to the Dance tent the whole festival. I thought I'd be living there! On the way back we passed by the Other stage to here a Dublin band called How. They sounded like The Thrills if The Thrills couldn't sing or play their instruments….

By the afternoon it was getting very hot. On a recommendation I checked out the jazz world stage and a strange 1980s throw back called Blurt. They were excellent in a Konk meets The Contortions way. Guitar, drums and a crazy lead man who also blew an astonishing raw sax sound. Finger licking, twisty, funk that was both funny and musically rewarding. Especially enjoyed their "Tribute to an Empty vessel" Bring on the revival - they deserve it.

I'm no expert on The Rapture knowing them mainly through off shoot bits and bobs like their DFA label and the LCD Sound System. But I can no inform you that they completely rock in a loose limbed and groovetastic way. A really solid performance of disco orientated, 1980s funky rock. They also forsook their guitars for Roland 101s and 303 bass machines at one stage and launched straight into some late night Detroit techno moves. Great stuff with a vocalist who sounds not unlike John Lyden and comes up with lyrics like "one two three four kick the fucker out the door" who am I to argue the toss?

Elbow - All romantic, yearning, keening, shimmering well-meaning gunk. Perfect couples music – ah they were OK and they could play their instruments and shure the couples have to listen to something while they is picking the lady bugs off they long, shiney, brown limbs. Groove Armada were next on the big Pyramid much to the delight of the sun shaken lager louts behind us. They were exactly as you might expect. They shimmied through "shakin that ass" and "super stylin" and did a nice version of "The River" with the trombone sounding oh so sweet of a sunny afternoon. I wandered off in search of grub and got somewhat lost but was back for PJ Harvey.

I always fancied myself as just about to become a PJ Harvey fan. You can now put me down as having made the bid decision. On she flounces with a spice girls dress and acid pink heels and a big, smiley, snarely mug. This is it! Simple really. Men = fuckers, sex = death, love = crock of shit, life = consequence after consequence until the beguiling peace of six feet under. This lady likes her pill bitter no sugar thanks, take your romantic illusions, your Elbow – esq sincerity and sink em down low down into the muck where they belong. A raging, blasting feast of primitive, dirty blues. And she seemed to be in good form too – laughing and relaxed. Hey now you wouldn't want to meet her on a bad day. Well to cut a long story short this was one of me favourite Glasto moments. The band was tight and impolite – they knocked a mountain of noise outa one guitar and a drum kit. I now have 2 PJ Harvey CDs and she leaves me quite the opposite to dry…in general what a day the sun shone like a mutha fucker and the music was great. So this is Glastonbury – yum.

Tried but failed to put in some kip at nine. The horror was that while I was trying to sleep the faint but detectable grunge of oasis was slipping into me ears from about a mile away – ughy. Eventually decided to get up and proceed towards the Glade for some dance frequencies. Got the end of Ronnie Pilgrim and the start of Freq Nasty. 3 G and T s failed to really get me going so I proceeded to purchasing 2 pills off a tall gent. Had a half of what were pretty much fake E s but the bit of speed in it kept me wandering for quite a patch. Glade became a massacre as the rumour spread of a Fat Boy Slim gig. Sensibly he played somewhere else! I caught some of Groove Rider at the scary one fm silver spaceship, then some nice tech house in tiny marquee and then back to one of my favourite place – the br-asian experience in the Geo dome. Some crazy fuckers were playing. World music with a sense of humour including a wild dancer in a silver cat suit, a Portuguese vocalist who did a good Ofra Hazie – they were mega funny – no name unfortunately. This got me to bed by 4.30 and a sort of sleep though the accursed sound system in the camp sit did their best to prevent it!


We reached the Glade by about 12.15 for the bizarre cut and paste fest of Cassette Boy. Less an actual gig then a series of running jokes on a sample with Tony Blair and Richard Nixon (cassette tape recording good egh?) running about the stage. I found Cassette Boy quite an excellent political commentator getting his shots in very nicely and using peoples actual words agin' em. After a spot of lunch back to see Herbert in the dripping rain and accompanied, for a lot of it, by one of those giant poover yokes (official name – sludgigators) cleaning out a near by Jacks. But do you know what it didn't matter as the folicaly challenged one was absolutely ace. Staring with some of his own dinkier, glitchy stuff – building to the epic: Destination Unknown by Green Velvet and then taking it right back down again for some lovely deep house. The other highlight – the lovely Dani Sciliano with a glass of wine singing and dancing to songs with herself on vocals. OK only at Glasto can you put together band sequences as flash as this – Cassetteboy, Mathew Herbert, The Ruttles, Sir Paul Mc Cartney, Basement Jazz, Sister Sledge, Kismet and Chumbawamba – wow egh

I went away for me afternoon nap. Then for some reason I was then persuaded on an up hill drive to the acoustic tent to catch some aging Beatles imitators who once made a film called The Rutles. They were fab. First off even if The Beatles ever get together they will never sound like the Beatles again but these guys so do! It was real evocative stuff. In fact to be fully appreciated you had to build a bit of a scenario. So mine was to be in some British air force base in Germany in the 1960s at a dance and suddenly these lovable mop tops come on with their weird and there you go. Other things that I liked about this – the perfect mello trone sound at the start of their
version of The Walrus so nice.

Other things the West country crusties waltzing across the floor so sweet – the close harmonies, the exciting drum solo – OK I only heard about that. It was watching a piece of history that still felt quite vital and alive. This was almost precisely and exactly the opposite feeling to what I got when I had to struggle through the throngs at the Pyramid stage and listen by force to Mc Cartney. Fucking woeful – history dying on its feet right in front of you. Lets move on quickly – I know I did. In the middle of a sea of mud – Basement Jaxx were putting on an obvious but diverting bit of stadium dance floor on the Other Stage. Throw in some Usher, throw in some Missy Elliot – diva up front – we do Stevie Wonder sounds very well. Yeah – I guess I'm the only one who still longs for them to go back to the sneaky little deep house numbers. Still sounded like Stevie Wonder even then, but these days they seem to sound like Jameraquai imitating Stevie Wonder. Ugh. Then on to Sister Sledge in the dance tent. Or should I say Sister Sludge. This was the first of many Glasto victories for faceless muso backing drones. Oh yes the slicky eighties session guys – a guitar solo - just what Lost in Music has always needed and on keys we have the black Rick Wakeman – oh dear. However they finished in style with the long housey version of We Are Family. Stretched it for 15 minutes and everyone went mental. Good finish. Question: Weren't there supposed to be four sisters – we were family……….

Lashed me one and a half fake Es into me and wandered through the muck. Eventually got back to me favourite place: The Geo Dome to witness a bunch who were called Kismet I think. These guys were both savage and hilarious mixing Punjabi sounds with rock – most spectacularly on their version of Sun Shine of Your Love. Most excellent fun – crowd enjoyed band enjoyed I love those kinda gigs. As the fake Es were proving close to useless I evolved a new routine of sneaking into the Lost Vagueness show room to do double vodkas and Orange all night. This was a Wild West style bar with drunken bar women in Texas whore House outfits on one side and dribbling men on the other – much fun. Also in there were Chumbawamba. They did a pretty good set – all the hits present and correct. I find the Chumbas to be collective to a point of coldness – everything seems very rehearsed and thought out – no real spontaneity – mind you they do have the best trumpet player in the world. The crusties outside were braying at them to play "some of your the old songs". But which ones? These guys have been around a long, long time even before those English civil war tunes.

Even better, they are supposed to be banned outa Glasto since they went for John Prescot that time so this was a sneaky fringe gig. Ah no I did enjoy it. Bumbled around a bit longer – caught some Asian r n b with Richie Rich – awful. As one punter so memorably put it: "all he did was that poxy Craig David mix anyway" (the Brits; when they want to have a go they don't waste time!) Hung around the general Lost Vagueness zone wondering at the glamorous crusties, men in dresses and the general craziness of it all. The lads selected one hell of a good camp spot! Eventually at about 4.40 left my mates monged in the Geo Dome and drifted back to be greeted by the camp sound system just as I hit the hay, playing Chime over and over and over again ……….

I check me notes for Sunday and it says The Mexican. What in all hell is this supposed to
mean?! Oh wait……………………………

Any way Sunday started with Mr. Blue Sky. There seemed to be general agreement that everyone was decamping towards the British National Opera Company for a bit of the old Ride of the Valkaries. The elements were conspiring here. Maybe Baron Mc Cartney went by with his cloud seeding air plane. Any way as the performance built up so did the huge strato cumulus clouds with even a few wheeling birds high up in the firmament for added effect. Most Nietzche! The opera was absolutely great watched by a crowd of about 30,000 – not all middle aged either.I decamped for the joys of that effete young son of Ulster young Neil Hanon and his Divine Comedy muckers. The man was on a roll – hamming up to the max. "Are you enjoying your rock festival, are you wearing silly hats and things, I wouldn't know I just flew in from France mayself…." Of all the fay gestures his best one was sitting down with a fag and a glass of wine and remarking "do you like my band they're rather good aren't they" He sat there watching em for at least five minutes ! Other fine moments – that tune about your daughter the goth and Queens of the Stoneage cover – bizarre. Went off to check the other side of the Oirish coin eg the bwoy Christie up on the stage only a few hours vacated by the British National Opera – cool – streams of irony flow!. Christie did what Christie does and well. OK he almost appears to suffer from over sincerity disorder at times but his version of "Ride On" was great. Then right in the middle of the ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’ it rained – I mean it mother fucking poured – you can share a poncho between two but only for so long we ran for a beer tent.

The rain stopped for James Brown. I really wanted to see the man. You know for the purely stupid reason I saying oh yeah I saw James Brown. I wish fuck I had of left well enough alone. The man was sick and obviously so. The great thing about James always was that he was the boss. He counted it off – he controlled a tightly tuned outfit like the JBs and they could funk like there was no tomorrow. But this was some sort of Vegas carnival freak show. No JBs, no Bobby Byrd – just a crew of professional parasites and session musoids. Maybe live fast die young makes a certain sense – or at least quit while you're ahead! A profoundly depressing experience even if, occasionally, he got the odd good grunt in. I napped off but was up well in time for Orbital. There was some stage controversy here. Some shower called Muse had been given the main stage. I never heard of em – I think even in rock circles they're no big splash in the pool. Well in the event, Glasto voted with its feet as thousands and thousands streamed for the other Stage. Glasto moment – one copper photographing another and then shouting into the phone "I'm at Orbital O R B I T A L". As soon as the two lovely cops were gone the dealers are next past "get your Es – last Es of the festival" Good bye lads I was just waiting to ingest 3 disgusting looking, pale, phalicy looking Mexican mushrooms with an big gob of ice cream. Well to cut a long story short it was like moving from the real world to the surreal. The light show was amazing the hits were all in place from ‘Satan’ to ‘Dr Who’. It was a sea of mud with what felt like 100,000 people stretching towards the horizon on all sides. Flares going up, fire works going up, hand held lasers – an inflatable dalek sails over the crowd. The shrooms kicked in violently and everything was getting very blurred. The crowd roared and you realised it was the end of Orbital, the end of a whole generation of raves in muddy fields, the end of an era. Then I just didn't want them to stop ever. Because I knew I couldn't deal with the empty stage, the muddy field, the thousands slipping way – It wasn't right – it couldn't happen not, now not ever and then it did.

5 Glasto fashion essentials:

1.little angel wings – look good with anything
2. Fellas in dresses – I told them it would come!
3. Crusties go glam – pink dreads, wedding dresses, top hats, salsoul compilations and
Stevie Wonder in every vegan Café – this trend I love
4. A line skirts go up and up – a perverts dream
5. Wellies they can be glamorous – buckles – little Fish Eyes – very the season

by Krossie for the 2004 UCD Freshers Guide (the one the world loved to hate...)

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Inanity On The Web: Jib Jab, Emulation and U75

There's something very pleasing about the fact that two brothers in a warehouse in Santa Monica can bypass all the major media conglomerates and distribute a millions of copies of a cartoon lambasting Bush, Kerry and the American two-party system through their website Following on from such classics as "Ahnuld for Governor", Jib Jab’s 'This Land' builds itself as a parody of Woodie Guthrie’s famous song, with both Bush and Kerry in cartoon form flinging parodies of caricatures of themselves back and forth in verse, each claiming the election as theirs. The cartoon ends with a Native American, miserably reminding us that 'once this was my land.' Bush and Kerry both suddenly jump in hugging, with a refrain of 'but now it’s our land.' As malls, sky scrapers and neon signs spring up to block what was a clear blue sky. How Disney.

Ironically, the brothers that made the cartoon are facing legal action from some yokels in Ludlow Music, which holds the copyright to Guthrie’s original. Guthrie was famed for saying those using his material 'without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do." 'Liberal wieners' and 'right wing nut jobs alike' will be fuming at the mouth about this one, whatever side of the US elite gets in come the elections, the Jibjabs seem positive that nothing will change for blue collar America.

Although around for years as an online focus for Brixton residents, hit the headlines in 2002. A regular poster called ‘Colinthecop’ who thought "the people of Brixton deserve to be treated with contempt," had riled up its users with homophobic comments. Realizing the political damage being done by some rank and file moran, Brian Paddick (commander in chief of Brixton’s police force) came onto the site to debate cannabis policies, political philosophies and how he could improve relations with the community. Then of course the tabloids got whiff of it. The sun screamed ‘The Odd Bill: I back ANARCHY” on its front page, and eventually exposed that Paddick was gay and smoked dope with a past lover. He got the chop. Since then urban75 has flourished as a site of controversy. Providing reasonable advice on drugs, seriously enlightening discussions on politics and a host of games to piss away hours in the LGs. Bloody student, sees you engage in traditional platformer with a twist. Grant cheques give you extra points, where as spiffs slow you down. Downing Street Fighter rips off Street Fighter to pit individuals from the Conservatives and New Labor against each other in combat, Punch a Celeb lets you hammer the crap out of obnoxious prats. All in all something for us all

Playing pong in java based browsers gets tedious, hence the phenomenon of emulation. With 8b people in the world, thankfully there are some dedicated freaks/scammers out there archiving classic video game consoles and machines. sees hundred of these games archived for you to download and play, some how the UCD Firewall misses out on these. Revisiting some of these games is like leaping back to your childhood. Hours of playing lead me to jettison my brand loyalty for Nintendo in the realization that Mario was a wholly superior game, wonder what the hell was so addictive about commodore 64 games and thank Christ for graphical interfaces over reams of command lines. Games worth checking out: Midnight Resistance (C64), Commando (C64), Catwoman (GBA), Mariokart (Snes) and the Desert/Jungle Strike series on the megadrive.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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