Monday, February 27, 2006

An Irish Wedding ?

I have spent the weekend on the island called Koe Samed for this wedding. My dad's partner's cousin decided to get hitched to non other then a Galway lad. They had some level of compromise on the wedding which to their detriment meant having two in one day. A Buddist one on the beach which lasted something like four hours, then a Catholic one in a near by town on the main land. Which also took hours since the travel delay, then it was both in Thai and English.

The first half of the day was filled with song, dance and much ritual. There was bribing of aunties to let the groom get past their gold belts and one step closer to the bride. There were chanting monks and plenty of food but we must all wait and wait. And of course there was the Irish in the back of the parade with two Irish flags.

And now to the Catholic bit. Well I suppose Eammon didn't want to get showed up with a lack of tradition and decoration so what does he do, well all the lads put on these green kilts, comando style at that. They have gold harp belt buckles, green clovers on there knee high white socks and of course wiskey flasks in their sporrans. The groom wearing the same outfit also had a green plaid shawl over his sholder with a celtic pin. I turned to one of the lads and said all innocently "do people get married wearing these in ireland?" "Oh yeah" he says. He was taken aback when I mentioned I lived in Dublin andstarted to joke that you would be lucky if they even show up in a tie in dublin. Then he quickly excused himself.

The killer part is none of them live in Ireland. Not only that they are actually second generation Irish - they all grew up in London and Manchester. The one family that did live in Mayo. They know the groom from London but have moved to Mayo since then. And it was that one guy who took off the kilt right after the wedding and said that he didn't agree with the idea but it wasn't his wedding. The other lads all from Mancester and London sat there all night drinking Jameson (me with them till 4:30am!) with their "Irish" kilts singing songs like dirty auld town. And believe me I got to see too much bollox for ones liking as we topped back one after another bottle of Jameson.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Craic We Had The Day We Died For Ireland.

Wonderful the way a seemingly otherwise "enlightened" forum like thumped can suddenly completely lose track of itself and pour scorn on the "scum" of Irish society. It really is interesting the sort of langauge some of a lot of them are using in their discussions of the riots in Dublin today. I'm not coming to this from some fluffy PC angle on this at all, it just reeks of a real fear of social tension, of what happens when working class youths come into the city centre for a political protest that doesn't carry the same cudos as some spectacle of an "anti-capitalist" event. The distinction being drawn up between the "real" and , I suppose, "fake" protesters is equally laughable. Where exactly does one check the authenticity of their political reasoning in attending a protest? That people engage in "violent" action is thrown up usually to denote "fake" protesters - so I suppose those suburban kids involved in car burning in Paris were disengenious as well?

Political action takes many forms, some of that involves burning, looting etc. I think Sean O'Casey quiped that the real revolutionaries weren't in the GPO in 1916, they were across the road looting Clerys. Its interesting that BMW's were burnt out, and that symbols of wealth like banks/McDonalds were done on, even the PDs windows were smashed. Republicanism is without doubt the most entrenched and organic radical political movement in the country, what anarchism is to Barcelona - republicanism is to Ireland. Its not a surprise at all that the republican tradtion is then what working class youths latch onto as an expression of their opposition to state authority and power, it is the closest formulae to hand.

It is the slogans of that movement that are scrawled on estate walls, school desks and so on. Of course all of this is changing as other political movements become more pronounced, albeit amidst a general sharp decline of the organised left. What happened today was a total fuck up, its exactly what the Orange Order wanted to happen. But it should be looked at as an opportunity for a ruckus with the police being taken and used. It happens every few years, and in minor ways all the time. Its where a particular protest like today moves towards a social protest - attacks on the authorities that wreck petty bullying all over disadvantaged communities and shit all over working class youth/ "scum." It happened in Edinburgh during the G8, youths orchastrated a rout of the cops in Cherry Orchard a few years back in and every anti-capitalism demo I've been on in this city has had some element of this "scum" among the participants, usually the most vocal and militant as on Mayday. Who are we to delineate the barriers of who can take political action?

Its intolerable this liberal multicultural bullshit of "oh can't we all live together?" No - the Orange Order are an organised expression of sectarianism, they were set up to sow division in the North after the 1798 Rebellion and the success of the United Irishmen in eroding religious difference, their traditions are recent and artificial - given accelerated growth after the setting up of the Northern statelet and accentuated by the troubles. This sort of muticulturalism is completely stupid, its the sort of stuff that blindly skips over all sorts of abuses from the oppression of Muslin women within the west to patronisingly taking racialist views of minorities. In this case it assumes the Orange Order is an expression of the traditions of all protestants.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Wrong Music Van Arrives In Town - Lets Get Ready To Dance. Like Idiots Of Course.

What once may have been a movement of isolated nutters sitting in gaffs downloading brutalized beats and tortured undanceable rhythms that reduce dance floors to gibbering mangled and usually mashed happy idiots has been stretching its wings and pulling devotees in under its wings in an organic flurry of growth over the past wee while.

Dublin heads such as Herv, Lakker and others have brought the sound a certain degree of respectability among the Dublin dance scene.
GoAwayRecordings have even got it together to commission an Irish breakcore compilation which should be hitting the shops soon. The boredom of music scenes full of DJ's that barely dance to their own tunes, the combination of a truly jilted generation living off the jaded memories of musical movements that were worth latching onto means that breakcore is pulling in fans from across the alternative musical divide. No more traveling to the UK or Galway for the nuttiness, now it's setting up camp in the capital and we all better be there. The Leprechaun Error tour which lands courtesy of the of some of the Brighton breakcore greats across Ireland. The line up includes Shitmat, Chevron, Ebola, The Gross Consumer and Nwodtlem hits Dublin on Friday 24 February, doors open at 10pm and it goes till late.

What can you expect from this? Well straight up, a high energy burst of musical mayhem, with sound collages and samples screaming to be released from being pounded to death by turbulent breaks and lopped gabber noise, think of the most danceable elements of the Prodigy accelerated from end - courtesy of Shitmat. From Chevron expect a certain degree of po-faced seriousness, with etheral build ups leading into cartoon ragga breakdowns or chaotic bleep/break sound clashes. NWODTELM leads the charge with a hellish
cacophony of noise. This gig will be very over stimulating. So hand over your money suckers and get ready to dance.

Checkout Me Elsewhere: Breakcore Nutters Leechrum Set Up Monthly Night and Shitmat: Oh Babylon Bwoi..What A Piece Of Brightness and From The DEAF Onwards
Elsewhere: Nialler9 On This Gig.

Tuneage: Shitmat: Morris Minor Massacre
C8 Tune Stores: A complete abundance of tunes here ranging from the comedic mash-up/cartoon ragga side of breakcore to the paranoid hard edged beats of Enduser.
Background: This link isn't meant in a patronising manner, but "what the fuck is breakcore?" is a fair enough question, and the Wikipedia article on it is ny the worst. A fairly comprehensive gawk at its origins and links to many of the core artists sites will leave you with enough mp3s to buzz off for the time being.

Friday February 24th - Legal Eagle, Chancerry St., D.1 9 til late - Tickets 15 euro - Ticket available at Spindizzy - Georges Arcade, The Hemp Store - Capel street, Red Ink bookstore - Templebar and City Disks - Templebar

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dispatches 8: The Most Obnoxious City Award Goes To?

PATTAYA!! congrats. I was going to say that I hate this city but I found a really good veggie restuarant that does all these fake meats. So what I have to say is that the restaurant is unfortunately placed; it would be better in most other places in the world. Its not surprised that I feel this way about this city, I know that this city had a reputation for sex tourism but I had given my dad the benefit of the doubt about his choice of location. When I asked him a few weeks ago why he lived here he gave me a legit answer, since he can't live with his partner or in her city (she is divorced and the husband is still in the life of the children and its just not wise to be there) and Pattaya is less then an hours drive away. So she comes up every weekend and basically when else she gets off work. (she is an administrator at a univeristy and some how seems to be able to get any day off see like) Ok fair enough I say. Then I get here.

Its a playground for middle/upper class white men. Its like they all went to Miami "girls go wild" when they were in college and now at 50 want to live it over again. problem is with their aging bodies they are not getting the attention of the western college girls, sooo they head down here. Now they have something they didn't have before - CASH and this is all you need here. The city is filled with white middle aged men and young Thai men and women along with many trans women. There is a huge boyz town that blends into the rest of the city of go go dancers and prostitutes.

Its like Niagra Falls but instead of wax musuems you have go-go's. Its like a geriatics carnival and instead of prizes you get asian women. Its like a hip hop video but all the men are over 50 and white.

This is not the self empowered prostitute story. From what I have read in a few books and articles online Pattaya is the heart of trafficing from northern Thailand. Both from the hill tribes and poor towns where the families have little option of money or hope for there children, many of the girls, and I do mean children, get sold to brothals or just come down. I read an article about buddahism and patriachry. The women from Thialand argued that thai males have an opportunity to be ordained as monks and most men do this. You can stay as long as you like but many just stay for the min 3 months for forfil there duty. During this time they get access to education and other oportunties. "Because boys repay gratitude to their parents by being ordained in their youth, they fulfill their duty early in life. A girl's way to repay gratitude to her parents is usually to take care of them when they are old." And with having no catch to pay gratitude with anything but their bodies they consentually get brought down here and become prostitutes.

Once they get here its not all fun and games like it seems to all the men who say "I'll never leave". The women work for certain bars and when you want to take them home you don't pay them you pay the bars. This is all the open western sex tourist part of it. But there is a whole other level. I have been reading this book called "Sex Tourist: Traffiking Of Women In Asia". One of the mian arguments of this book is that it is not the western sex tourists that keep this industry thriving (although in Pattaya I'm sure it plays a bigger part then other cities) It is actually the Asian male that is the main customer. The thing is in all parts of Asia there is this religious/family values thing going on that keeps sex as something imorral, therefore it has to be kept underground.

Its one of those situations where the men generally see their wives as pure and therefore unable to pleasure them sexually so they go elsewhere. But since there is this whole facade of sexual purity it is all underground. I suppose that is more dangerous because here you can see the women and know that they are generally safe but in these situations the women are hidden away. Not only that but there would be a more of a sense of guilt. The western way is to make it so big and open that there can't be guilt; everyone is doing it and we will joke about it in the morning. Secrets breed guilt and guilt can develop into violence towards the one who is "making" you feel this way.

There is this boat in the middle of the bay called the Dolphin restuarant. There is a glowing number to call but no other adds and not public way to get to it. It has been suggested to me that this may be one of these underground (or floating in this case) brothals where its only word of mouth and mostly filled with Asian men.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Dispatches 7: Massages and Land Mines

Two weeks in and my forth massage, damn I'm a spoiled brat. Well its my first massage in Cambodia and after three full days at the temples I was stiff as fuck and we deserved it! The problem here is finding a place that won't also want to give my dad a blow job along the way. We decided that massage from the blind was the way to go. Its strange but its a really big thing in Cambodia. There are these massage from the blind places everywere and apparently some of the cash goes to orgnaisations that help with blind people getting training. Believe it or not todays massage was the best I had ever had in my life. At first the women was a bit slow to get started, figuring out where my body is I'm sure and there was this moment were she was beng really ruff where I had got my first sun burn. I was grumbling to myself that there was no was to really explain the situation, I have no Khmer and she has no english, we might be able to speak a bit of French to each other but she can't see the burn and well body language isn't going to work so well. Both my dad and I walked out of the place in slow motion. Fuck if massages were this cheap in Dublin I would go once a week for sure!

Today was supposed to be a day off; between traveling and temples. Of course I ended up at the landmine museum in the afternoon. This place is very interesting. It was all started by this one guy. He was at different parts of his life part of the Khmer Rouge and other times with the Vietnam army. While he was with the Khmer Rouge he was forced to put out landmines. I suppose out of an extreme sense of guilt he started this museum. He had loads of weapons and army gear that he had stolen while he was in the army and he sees it as his mission to rid the country as much as possible of the mines so he actually goes out and dismantles them. All the ones he distroys he also has in the musuem. At this place he also has a school for kids who had limps blown off by the mines or became blind as a result.

I was really taken aback with the bruality of it all. There were stats from around the world based in 2001 that said something like 30 people a minute fall victim to them. Cambodia was 4th on the list of number of causalties. Iraq was number one by a long shot. Part of the musuem was the story of the Khmer Rouge. I have avoided blogging about it so far since I am tying to get a grasp of what happened. Last week I went to a detention centre and then the next day to the killing fields. I'm not going to write about it now except to say that the Pot Pol gave Hitler a run for his money in human torture and genocide of a people.

This is something we don't hear about as much as the Nazi's. When I still need to think about it? Is it that the Jews are more white then the Cambodians. Is it that Germany is more western then Cambodia. Is it that it was communist vietnam that came and liberated the people so nothing is black and white? Is it that they were killing themselves and other another group or a minorty group? I'm sure some of these are part of the reason and I'm sure there are more political reasons that you might need to understand more of the political climate now and then to fully comprehend.

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Interview: God Is An Astronaut - Something Irish and Bright

God Is An Astronaut are a rare thing in the Irish music scene, peddling a searing combination of swirling Kevin Shields tinged guitar layered over pulsating programmatic ambient beats ala Massive Attack. They reject the post rock label and provide a welcome alternative to the singer/song-writer doyens lapped up by the Irish musc press or Devo impersonating bands from across the channel riding fresh on the new wave of British indie rock.

Saying this, the band have recieved little in the way of attention and have been left relatively isolated with their fan base mainly emerging outside of Ireland. Having recently delivered one of their rare full live performances in the TBMC, I got around to interviewing Neils who does bass and the live visuals after the gig.

Firstly - where does the band name come from and what is the bands history?

Ah yes the name question. We were watching television and the Clive Barker Movie "Nightbreed" was on. One of the characters used the phrase "God is an astronaut, Oz lies over the rainbow, and Midian ... is where the monsters live." - Peloquin (Nightbreed). We really liked "God is an Astronaut", it was kind of modern concept but with an Apocalyptic feel. We felt we could make music we wanted with this as the band name.

Torsten and I started playing in rock bands in the early 90's, nothing ever really came of it. Like any young musicians starting out, we had stars in our eyes and thought we were going to be the biggest band in the world, unfortunately the reality is depressingly different. I remember in the mid 90s the live music scene in Ireland died, everything was heading towards dance music and DJ's. We had moved into experimental big-beat/electronica stuff with some moderate success, a couple of compilation releases.

I think we signed a publishing deal in 2000 with Peer music on the strength of the remixes we had done for EMI and Universal. We were making a collaboration project with different vocalists as Peer Music was very interested in this idea. That idea crashed and burned in 2002, we were pretty pissed off. We had made something we didn't really like ourselves which made things worse. We weren't sure if we even want to make anymore music.

We had written a lot stuff some of it instrumental which Peer music was not interested in unless there was vocals on it. We however really liked the instrumental songs the way they were. We wrote a couple of more songs and finished the first God is an Astronaut album near the end of 2002. This was the first piece of music we were ever happy with. We released "The End of the Beginning" in 2003 on our own label.

We didn't have any expectations for the record itself, it was just satisfying to put out a piece music that we really liked. The album surprisingly began to pick airplay and sell some copies in the shops. Drummer Noel Healy joined the band in 2003 so we could play the stuff live. I remember the first shows we done had no visuals but we slowly began to work on the idea of using visuals in the live show.

I bought a laptop and a basic video editing suite. The first video we made was for "The End of the Beginning" which we sent off to MTV UK. It was played on the first newly revamped version of the 120 minute show on MTV UK . We then made a video for "From Dust to the Beyond" which had a heavy anti war-theme received plays on MTV UK and most European MTV networks. We also used live versions of the videos for our shows. I think the first full live-visual show we played was in late 2003.

We began to write "All is Violent, All is Bright" in December 2003. We bought a Pro-tools HD recording system which gave us real freedom in making the music more personal. With first album we were limited to a sequencer and sampler which didn't allow us to play full live performances from start to finish because of memory restrictions.

In July 2004 we got to play the Oxegen music festival which was a real tough thing to get on to. Noel Healy who had been with us since early 2003 left us three weeks before the gig. The only guy we could think who play the stuff on short notice was Lloyd Hanney who was trained by irish drumming legend Johnny Wadham.

I still remember the day very well, it was the first gig with a new lineup but it was in front of about 6000 people. The gig went amazing, and we still have the same lineup today.

We finished "All is Violent, All is Bright" in November 2004. We mixed as much of the live intensity as we could that we had in our shows into the record. The most important thing for us was the album had real emotion, melody and longevity. We had hinted at this in the first album. We released "All is Violent, All is Bright" in January 2005. The album has done really well for us particularly overseas were it got great reviews, lots of airplay and online sales. We also recently played a couple of shows in Europe which were very successful.

We have just released our new E.P. "A Moment of Stillness" in January 2006.

The music of GIAA chimes from My Bloody Valentine "shoe gazer" swirling guitar to rushy ambiance and Godspeed You Black Emperor violent crescendo. Do you think that this is a fair description? What sort of interests musically have the band drawn on? There's a bit of an epic metal feel in there as well?

My Bloody Valentine and Godspeed weren't direct influences on us at all. We had the shoe-gazer/post rock label thrown at us which is cool. We really only discovered there was a post rock scene in recent times due to people comparing us to the likes of Mogwai and Godspeed. Obviously there are certain similarities between us and those bands. Myself and Torsten grew up listening to heavy Metal, bands like Metallica and Slayer who were breaking at the time, NIN were also a big influence later.

I remember the first concert we ever went to was Metallica in the now defunct Top Hat in Dublin way back in 88. We also got into electronic music in the mid 90's, the likes of Aphex Twin and Massive Attack were big influences. I think GIAA is a mix of the rock/metal and electronic music we listened to and played in our early years.

You supported Whipping Boy down in Cork back in December, as someone who was too young to catch the original Whipping Boy gigs myself and a load of the mates ventured down for it. We were disappointed by Whipping Boy but amazed at how you blew them off stage entirely. Didn't ye fill in as Fergal McKee's backing band for a few gigs not so long ago?

We had done some solo stuff with Fearghal Mckee in early 2005. We had released a single "What you wanna Start" and played two live shows with Fearghal. It was just a one off thing intended as a bit of fun and we were all happy with the track.

Fearghal invited us to play at the Whipping Boy gigs in December 2005 in Cork and Dublin. We normally would never do support slots but we liked Whipping Boy and we were out of commission for most of 2005 because Lloyd had broke his arm in January and wasn't healed until August. We hadn't played in Ireland with the original lineup since 2004 with the exception of Waterford in September 2005.

The two shows we done in Cork and Dublin in March 2005 were with a session drummer. It just wasn't the same, some people came down pretty hard on us on those gigs. The Whipping Boy gigs were an opportunity to put things right, we had something to prove again and show everyone we were as good as we said we were. The recent sell out show in the TBMC was our best show ever, I think the Whipping Boy gigs helped to get people interested in us again.

Your live shows are very intense and people always want more, but its rare that you seem to play live? Is this me reading it wrong, or do ye take it easy on the giging front?

The simple reason for not playing lots of gigs is it is expensive to put on a full production show, like the recent TBMC show. We rather play one show and do it right rather than playing lots of mediocre gigs. It would be nice if MCD or Aiken would give us Oxegen or the Electric Picnic festival so more people could see us live.

You got a new drummer in recently in an effort to try and capture some of that intensity that comes across live on the new release. Did it work for ye? Were ye satisified?

Yes Lloyd is amazing drummer, I think "All is Violent..." and the new E.P. "A Moment of Stillness" really benefit from his live drumming. It really helps our songs be more expressive and dynamic both live and on record.

You are relatively peerless in terms of bands churning out similar sounds to you on these shores - do you consider yourselves to be part of a music scene/network of musicians who help each other out. Or are you realtively isolated? What if any other Irish bands are you into?

We are pretty much independent of the scene here. We would see ourselves more international rather than an irish phenomena, we sell most of our music outside Ireland. There was once a time we were looking for help, the silence was deafening. Everything we have was built up by ourselves, friends and our fans.

I suppose you could say we are isolated, but not by choice. Things are slowly changing now, we help out a couple of bands. There is lots of interesting music on the underground, the irish music scene is constantly changing. Check out Dry County, The Jimmy Cake

The GIAA audio visual show really is something to behold, synced in with the changes in the music the videos tell stories of apocalyptic warning, environmental destruction, the hypocrisy of leaders and war mongers, the abuse of animals and our dependence on technology leading us into a Frankenstein monster's type scenario. Are the video's a side project or are they as central to the live experience as the music?

On record you can hear all of the subtleties of the music but in a live environment they are lost, the visuals help to restore the emotion and structure of the songs. I think the visuals add to overall experience, so I think they are central to the live show. Even from a basic entertainment factor, the visuals make sense. We want our fans to be entertained from start to finish as much as possible.

How do you choose the thematic concepts for the videos? Are you replacing lyrics with images - if so why? Finally, do you see yourselves as a political band?

Each concept has to suit the emotion and melody of the music. We are not replacing lyrics with images. Lyrics were never our strongest field. I think we can communicate the emotion of the song better through images and melody than using lyrics. We don't really see ourselves as political band. Most of our songs/visuals are apocalyptic in nature. I suppose we have a fascination with our Apocalypse Culture. It is a kind of escapism to watch the destruction of the world on a screen. So many Hollywood films have this theme.

God Is An Astronaut's latest release
A Moment Of Stillness (Jan 2006)(RVECD007) is availible in all good music stores and probably some shite ones too...

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Podge and Rodge: Sexual Innuendo's A-Go-Go

The run away genius of the Blizard of Odd confirmed that when RTE turned in on itself to feast on its own entrails for inspiration things often turned out fantastic. The trend would certainly seem to be continuing that way as two relatively new chatshows get up and running from the burnt out remains of what was the Den puppet family back in the days of Ray D'arcy.

First up is Dustin's Daily News Round Up which is a quirky current affairs and news show. On five days a week to keep kids just home from school entertained in the run up to Home and Away. The show sees Dustin tearing after every chance to exploit his inate Eamonn Dunphy like qualities to deliver swarthy sarcastic pub style abuse to the punters. The more perverted branch of the RTE puppet family, Podge and Rodge, two rotund rural bachelors holed up in the ruins of an abandonned asylum in Ballydung are also now doing interviews on late night mid week TV.

So far they've well managed to get the boot in on several all round muppets. Gavin Lambe Murphy was called a "cock" as the pair ridiculed him on the unison bottle yellow colour of his hair and face, and explained how "you weren't as big of a prick as we thought you were.
Her of Echo Island/Live at Three fame and the instantanously forgettable name was subjected to probing questions on the colour of her pubes, while Micheal O'Muircheartaigh was reduced to providing commentary for weasal racing.

But with sexual innuendos splashing around at the rate of blood in an abbatoir, this could get tiring and quick.
Are the rest of its presenters so fucking inane, that RTE's now resting its hopes on its puppets for its late night "yoof" viewing? For those of us that remember programmes in the mid nineties, like Sean Moncriefs first vehicle The End which provided continuity between a string of left of centre comedic gems on Friday and Saturday nights - the national broadcaster's still got a stretch to go if its going to entertain the yoof.

Anyone interested in checking out the early days of Podge and Rodge on the The Den should check out

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Dispatches 6: Dust, Mistakes and Ankor What?

This country is tres dusty, I mean you go out for an hour and the six inches above your shoes all around your leg are the darkest brown. And everytime i wipe my fash the clothe comes back brown. I ended up buying a dust mask (SARS mask!) to use on the taxis. Mine is great it looks just like my curtains on Bloor St. Orange, yellow and red stripes. I look so super cool! I will bring it back and be the geek of the cycling world. Our guest house has you leave your shoes at the door and rightly so, yesterday I carried my flip flops and when i dropped them on the ground a pile of sand accululated on the floor.

This morning I made a mistake that I will never forget about. I was resting my malaria pill on the lid of my water bottle. I usually wait till after breakfast to have it, which is supposed to be better on your stomach. Well doesn't the lid flip over and doesn't the pill fall into the bottle. I manage to get it out of the bottle to the amazement of my father. I take it then since the cap is starting to disolve. A few mins later my breakfast arrives. After a few bits I start not to feel quite right. Then I suddenly run up to our room where I puke up my guts, to make matters worse the toilet clogs ( - gross I know but really its all part of the mistakes we make). I make my way back to the table only to really that my stomach as not forgiven me yet and there is no what I'm going to jump on a taxi and go out to see temples. I excuse my self and join my dad and a few hours after this one mistake sorts it self out. This is the second time in two weeks that I have been sick.

Lessons: 1) Don't drink the ice. (common sense eh) even if the restaurant is a tourist joint and says on the menu we make our ice from clean drinking water DON'T HAVE ICE EVER!!
2) If your malaria pills has started to disolve throw it out, they are not that expensive get more if you need them . . . beleive me.

Ankor: Ok when my dad said that we were getting a three day pass to see some temples for the cost of 40 US dollars I thought he had gone mad. Then I read in the guide that just one day was sacreligious. Getting a 3 day or a 7 day pass was the way to go. Still then I was thinking. if you were a person who traveled to a certain country to see their temples then I suppose you are not giving them justice in one day. But if you are the general athesist perhaps a day would do.

Well today was the first of my three day pass I was there for over 5 hours and tomorrow I'm heading there for sunrise. They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Its not just a temple but an ancient city. You don't have to worry about the trash gold that the buddist are usually into this is all stone. Back when this was built they thought large. The early photo with the kid skipping rope, well that was Ankor in the background. It suppose to be the largest religious centre in the world.

I spent most of my time with my dad in Angkor Thom. Basically an ancient city in a forest, and today since it was raining a rain forest. The trees are taking it over a bit but it does hold its own. Ok you know the giants causeway . . . well thats the door way to the library in this city.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Black Brain Radio: Manic Online Preacher?

Lurking somewhere just before Radio One on the dial there's been this utterly bizarre "pirate" broadcast moaning away for the past few days. I picked it up in UCD and someone else I know managed to pick it up in location as far flung as Maynooth.

It consists solely of this bloke in a mild Dublin accent, possibly tinged with the drawl of an upbringing in the environs of the leafy southside talking in a monologue for hours on end. One moment it sounds like he's reading from Wikipedia and following the embedded links within it as he disembarks from one topic to another.

At other times it sounds like he's reading Amnesty International reports. So far he's been going on about Dante's Inferno, Mugabe shutting down opposition radio stations, Aristotle, the levels of radioactive contamination in the general population and the immune system. All day I found myself asking myself "what the hell is this?" Has some lone bloke picked up a radio transmitter off the net for cheap and set himself to work? Its the radioactive equivalent of a street ranter with no given specialty, and the oddest thing of all is you can hear Ray Darcy's show in the background...

There was some comfort in the whimsical thought that this was a lone nut, drowning his thirst with tea, his only company the inanity of Ray D'Arcy's perky morning advice on love, walled in inside his house, a box in the suburbs - lashing out against the infotainment machine and waiting for Babylon to come crashing down around him. Turns out it was just the latest public art series from IMMA and Garrett Phelan, a transmitted sound installation which some how tries to close the gap between the visual arts and audio in an investigation of how ideas spread in society. What toss - since when does the title of "art" justify such a tedious lack of cop on?

If IMMA and the Irish art establishment want to investigate the spreading of ideas in society, and have the capacity to give someone access to a transmitter powerful enough to hog a frequency all over county Dublin, the least they could do is turn it over to an open public access project.

What THEY say: "Black Brain Radio is an unconventional and innovative radio artwork created by Irish artist Garrett Phelan with Temple Bar Gallery and Studios and in partnership with the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). The transmission will be broadcast around the clock over a thirty-day period from 19 January 2006 to listeners within the greater County Dublin area on a frequency of 89.9fm. In addition, Black Brain Radio will have the capacity to reach a wide international audience through its dedicated on-line presence."

What The COMMENTARIAT of Indymedia say: "Recognition? What does this mean precisely? Does it mean that he can exhibit meaningless scrawls on the windows of the Civic Offices while other people are prosecuted for painting political slogans on walls, and posters advertising public meetings are torn down? He can set up a "safe" pirate radio station, or do some obscure collaboration with the free state army that amounts to a tape of the same bit of morse code being repeated over and over again in a darkened gallery?"

And now for two tech (no) ical points: there has been an array of problems with blogger lately, which have been preventing me accessing this thing even from a reading point of view, never mind posting. Worst part is no radge seems ta hav nae answers. Meanwhile over on the good ship Old Rottenhat, the good captain Krossphader has delivered a Nietzschean parody of the demise of techno in Dublin after the closue of D1's weekly club.

Related: 1 and 2 (now if only our own techno fiend Cogsy would get his blogging ass in gear a little more often!)

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Dispatches 5: The Kids

What I have been amazed with here in terms of poverty is not the unpaved roads but the children. I don't mean people begging with their kids which is prevelent, actually they teach kids as young as one to say "hello"and put there hands out asking for money. What is really obvious is the young kids working. There are the ones that are with their families and begging or helping out with their parents. Then there are the kids who are selling you things. Usually books but it could be anything. I'm talking 11, 12 at night 5 -10 year olds often without shoes trying to sell you books. I had been watching them and wondering what the story was.

Are there parents sending them out? Is it organised? Well last night gave me my answer. Around midnight, this guy riding a western style red shiny moterbike drives up outside where I'm sitting for a drink. Three young girls run over to him. He looks down at them in his full camoflogue outfit and a stern face and demands money. The hand him some american cash. He counts it and makes a few remarks. The three girls quickly explain why there is little and point around at the never empty bars. He doens't look at them at all and drives away. There is no confusing this situtation. He's basically their pimp. One of the girls after this grabs a young boy with no shoes to help her sell stuff, it is valentines day after all, they should get a few sympanthy roses sold.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dispatches 4: Bargaining

I have never been a fan of the bargain your price thing, I know that you can get cheap things that pay but I am just much more comfortable knowing how much something is. I mean I like the idea about getting a cheap price but when you are walking around, I don't want to get into a whole dialogue when I'm just window shopping. I was even talking about this the other day at work in regards to being offered a job, I said that I would take the first offer they gave me, everyone else looked at me and said "never take the first offer." But today things changed. I went to a few differnt markets, the central market; which is a local market where you get food and household goods and jewlary. There I bargined for banana's! It was a first bargain and I'm sure I paid much more then a local would have but really 3 small banana's for around 25 cents isn't that bad.

Later in the day I went to the Russian market. This one is more a tourist market. With movie and cds by the hundreds, silks, everything and anything traditionally cambodian that they think they can sell. I went mad. I bought presents for a number of people and a few things for myself. My favorite one was this necklace that I bought. I was buying it for a friend but knew exactly what I wanted. I went around checking the prices with all the similar ones. Then went to the nices one. While I was looking at it this other women was buying the same one, just a differnt colour stone. the necklace and the stone were seperate and therefor there was even more room for bargaining. when we were done with our dance, I got it for 3 euros cheaper then the women just before me and the women was laughing saying "you're good you're good".

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Dispatches 3: Cambodia: Poverty, Bikes and Offense

Phnom Phen is the capital of Cambodia yet you would not know it as you drove into town. I have only been in Bangkok and kanchanaburi in Thailand so far. Bangkok is full of contradictions, high rise buildings, massive shopping centres that put Dundrum to shame lie not far from shacks that are falling into the river. Kanchanaburi is so beautiful and full of tourist attractions that the poverty seems at bay. But Phom Phen, which apparently is only the tip of the ice berg in terms of poverty in this country, seems desolete to me. Buildings falling apart, children run around with no shoes or clothes. Kids selling stuff on the street, collecting water bottles of the few cent refund. During the day it seemed that no one had anywhere to be or do. On the side of the road Coke and Pepsi bottles were filled up with cheap gasoline in the hopes that someone will stop by. Then the night opens up. Everyone is on the streets they mood is lightened and there is a sense of excitement (I'm sure danger aswell). Still it feels that the city is based on the few tourists it has, its busier and cleaner then it was a few years back and people have more money, but thats hard to see when its your first time.

From my guest house I was standing on the roof looking down the five floors. There were a group of boys 12 or so playing hackie, a group of young kids climbing on top of each other, food stalls aplently and this one elliminated office where a man in a white shirt and tie sat at a desk behind a laptop having a meeting. I'm sure there are many more financial buildings and politicans making decisions for everyone else but this one "Cambodia First" building is right in the middle of the poverty as he leaned back on his leather chair and laughed.

One of the most amazing things is the amount of people they seem to fit on motorbikes and trucks. I thought I had seen it all in thailand with three on a bike and twenty people on the back of a truck. But here I have seen FIVE on a bike, sometimes as young as 1 but sometimes all adults its increduable. Everyone seems so relaxed and chilled out while piled on. Its mainly just men who are driving the bikes. And if there is just one or two women behind them, the women ride side saddle like old school horse riding. Their filp flops dangle off their feet just inches from the road but there is no panic that they might be lost.

Earlier today I went to the Royal Palace; yes Cambodia is a kingdom (so is Thailand). Its crazy to see this space, an empire if you will that at one time ruled much of south East Asia. There are very preCious about their kingdom, the king and of course Buddha. When you go into a temple or any Wat that houses a Buddah you much remove your shoes, you can't have you feet pointing at the Buddah while you sit and here espeically, you can't take photos. I was wondering around wondering why people thought that gold and silver coloured paint looked good when I saw this beautiful hill covered in trees and floweres, I climbed up to find a tiny little temple (not the right word, but a pointy structure only large enough to house a buddah and a few people making merit). It was great. Behind the buddah's head was a glowing halo type thing with red, yellow and organge. There were bright fabrics everywhere and really it looked like a buddist rave in there. The best part was the huge donation box that was full in front of it. I was standing a bit away from it but needed a photo. There was no sign like the other places that said no photo so I went right ahead. Unfortunatley because of the tree cover the flash went off. There were a few loud screams and everyone who had been worshiping/meditating/just hanging out turned towards me with a look of anger. There was no hiding I was the one white girl with pink hair in a sea of asians with black hair. I ran away quickly after apologing.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dispatches 2: First Rides

Elephants: I have riden on two things in the past few days that I have always wanted to but never had the chance. The first was an elephant - at first I was sitting on the back with my dad with this guy leading the way by the head. Then it was my turn. I had been having reservations about riding the elephant. Although it was the first thing I thought of when I booked this trip, when I mentioned it to my mate she was all animal rights up my arse about it. Fair enough since she is here to work at a wildlife conservation and well I am veggie and all. Even as I was sitting on it I was saying to my dad that I didn't kown about this. But the moment they offered me to move on to the front I left all my rightous animal rights sentiments behind and jumped right on. With my legs behind the ears I rode that elephant, up hills, down hills through streams and so on. jeysus the smell off me when we were done. While I was walking away a baby elephant felt me up with his/her truck. cheeky little thing

Taxi: Then today after a visit of the bridge over river kwai, we decided to get a taxi back into town. The 45 min walk to it along cement roads was more then we could handle back. The only taxi's were motorcyles. Although I use to really like the idea of getting my motorcylce licence I have developed a fear of them. I had planned for my 23rd b-day to ride a moped in rome, but I had one look at the traffic and chickened out. Now four year later I am jumping on the back of one in Thailand. Here were lanes are optional, direction for that matter is up to the driver and here I am saying go right ahead, take me on the death trap. After a few mins my clench loosened and I started to enjoy the breeze, the first time I had been cooled off in 5 days.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Thai Dispatches 1: Cultural Differences Of Utmost importance

Toilets: OK this is one of those things that you know about but really are never perpared for. I mean you hear squating, you know and expect squating but when you get there. FUCK I have to squat. I think we are all use to squating, its not like sitting in a clubs toilet is the cleanest thing to do. But these toilets are low and you have to worry about the splash factor. And forget going for a shit. But here is the killer. no toilet paper or flush. There is this hose that you wash yourself with and then you fill a bucket to pour down the squat toilet in hopes that it will flush on its own.

Yes, they have Starbucks and McDonalds. In Bangkok at least. I suppose they are trying to make them culturally appropriate, which of course is bullshit, but they have auld Ronald with his hands together as a sign of respect. There is an obsession with western culture and western pop music specifically here and well for that matter any non-english speaking country I have been to. Its like that movie Gallaxy Quest. The only radio signals they get from the west is pop music so they think that its good. seeing young bands give it there all for "ohhh baby I love your ways . . . everyday" is sad to say the least. Then heading to a club called Immortal "best hip hop club in town" and seeing every thai girl dressing and dancing like every girl in the videos of their favorite songs. Everything becomes a stereotype. you see the 22 year old male from the states, who just graduated and has been drinking cheap beer in Thailand long enough that he too thinks he is "big pimping" and shoves his white dick against the thai girls ass, thinking that yes he is the shit tonight.
Then you go outside to escape only to see lost hippies dancing on the streets hoping that this moment of ecstacy will never end.

Vegetarian: I have had some of the best veggie food here, some places, espcially those who target tourists specialize in veggie food. But the moment you leave those safety nets you are pretty much fucked. I mean I went to eat by the river at this little place. Me, my dad and his girl friend ordered the same dish, theres with pork and mine with tofu. We get ours, I have tofu sitting ontop of a pork dish. We return it and ask for NO MEAT. I get another dish with tofu and no big chunks of prk but the noddles are covered in the stuff, they try to say that its egg, but when my dad had a bite he said it was pork. they saw the sad look on my face as I looked across the river wishing for Cornicopia and they brought me a veggie dish this time, hot noddles cooked with out pork this time. I suppose in a country where they eat bugs for a snack, alive, dried or otherwise, the idea of what is meat is flexiable.

There is another post on Thailand over here.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Art Review: Whats The Difference Between Blek, Bansky and Will St. Leger?

The art world is definitely a funny one. Just three or four years ago the subversive mashing of pop-cultural images with political sloganeering that flowed from a certain Banksy's can gave a graphical edge to the simmering anti-war movement. For once proving that political posters/propaganda does not have to resort to certain tired themes, as boring and as staid as a tabloid front cover or as hackneyed as a '82 style punk album cover. Movement material could instead flit around at the edges of pop-culture, taking what was needed to wholly redefine the aesthetics of our politics. It was a nice idea, not that much of this was done. The wall stencils of Banksy, mainly ended up inspiring advertisement agencies and interior designers laying out shops like Motion Picture. Leftist graphic designers would grab one or two of his images to repeat untill vomiting, or exploit the brightness and contrast filter in Photoshop to produce obnoxious photocopied travesties that strove for the aesthetic but dropped the effort to remix pop cultural commodities to sell a point.

On display in the Front Lounge this month is the work of Will St. Leger, a sometime activist with Greenpeace he runs under the guise of an artivist and is one of a generation of us influenced by the work of Banksy. Leger engages in stencilling on canvas, basically rendering his playings in photoshop on to a permanent surface. From a graphic design background he has designed various subvertisements for Greenpeace, picking up on the general vogue for aping the undermining of the diminant values of advertisement culture. Some of these are on display in the Front Lounge, his peace on nuclear power shows Sellafield with a car freshener clipped to the smoke stacks. One of his more impressive pieces has several US transport helicopters plonk an IKEA into Iraq. There's a friendly play on the Robocop franchise when a pair of the emblematic Mickey Mouse ears are daubed onto a three tone stencil of the droid that was to replace the original Robocop in the sequel. There's a crude but effective meshing together of traditional Irish nationalism and celtic tiger consumer when Michael Collins gets a pair of shopping bags placed in his hands.

None of this is amazing though. Look at the price list and it quickly becomes enraging. Down the back of the bar there are maybe three single tone pieces, down using card baord probably, free hand cut outs, no evidence of preparation in photoshop and botched with the spray paint having leaked over the stencil borders. Still they carry a hefty €50 tag. Most of the other work comes in and around €300 for what is generally second generation Banksy cloning. But then Banksy did rip off Blek Le Rat ( 1 ) himself. Blek was one of the first stencil artists, who left Paris covered with potted images of Northern Irish riot cops and old catholic men and women looking out from their door steps onto the streets of the left bank as one of his many stencils. The difference between Will St. Leger, Blek Le Rat and Banksy is that two of these have plastered their streets and one hasn't. The guilty one here is Leger, who is really engaged in the lazy reproduction of an art style that at one stage may have had an original, subversive character but now is quickly becoming tired.

Good discussion on " or just visual piss?" over on Thumped.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Mind Numbing Muppets: Grainne Kenny

Presenting the fourth in series of Mind Numbing Muppets - a Soundtracksforthem response from the underbelly of the keyboard to the kaleidoscope of dazzlingly silly cahnts who impose themselves on us via their very existence.

Number 4:
Grainne Kenny

Few have pointed this out but Grainne Kenny is the hysterical wench behind EURAD (Europe Against Drugs), and the woman who recently led the charge against the over-counter selling of magic mushrooms in Ireland. She is the sort of woman who thinks Irvine Welsh glamourises drug addiction, and as such manages to worm her way onto virtually every radio that finds itself clumsily stumbling onto the topic. Like an overdrawn character rejected from South Park, when faced with opposition of the caliber of Luke Flanagan on Newstalk one day, she bales in with accusations of "evil" that have yet to be matched since the witch trials. A figure of hilarity, her organisations is dangerous - opposing the use of needle exhange programmes as they promote drug addiction and other such nonesensical toxic policies.

Like some fucking Sherlock Holmes paranoid with lucid visions of hordes of Aphex Twin headed kiddies running riot fucked on psilocybin, she headed off on a brave one woman undercover mission to expose the selling of mushrooms in Dublin head shops. Has the woman never heard of green fields in the Irish countryside? Not only this but she discovered that shops like Asha were selling paraphernalia to hordes of Goth kids, who probably have nowt more than dried banana skins to smoke up in their over priced skins with Bob Marleys face festooned across the front. Then some bloke fell off his balcony to a sad death on Halloween night, so with all the charm of Nosferatu she leapt on his barely buried corpse to ride it all the way to media attention for her party pooper agenda.

Forget that wagon Mary Harney, the real fucker in this whole affair is Kenny - this could very well be one of those lurid moments when I have to extend sympathy to Harney for the fucking midnight badgerings she was probably subjected to by this trout in order to get mushies banne
d So, its back to dirty pills and double vodkas n red bulls for the rest of us then, and over to seeking a ban on drug paraphernalia like ten cent bags of penny sweets for her. The Streets got this drugs thing so right - someone do the world a favour send a tonne of grass to her gaff and call the pigs.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

60 Seconds On Film: Feb'06

Okay - so whats the deal? Well the plan is to do some pretty succint reviews of the films I see each month in one post, and then start another similar thread at the start of the next month. Films can be both contemporary, recent and old.

The Witch Finder General: the classic English horror movie by short lived cult director Michael Reeves, casts aside the darkened fairy tale style of the other Hammer productions to for a gruesome historical drama of the witch trials amidst the English Civil war. Doesn't mean its any bloody good though does it? What a disappointment this was, the internet had left me reeling in anticapation of seeing this for some time, with Total Film rating it in its top 50 horrors, and number 28 in the best of British Cinema. It rambles along with ramshackle production values. Manys the tavern scene and busty wench covered in ale. What your left with is a basic romance/revenge plot instead of the psychological creeps in your spine. A cousing of the Wickerman this is not, the let down...

Family Guy: who can fault it? The film tears along with three episode plots sellotaped together with the joints as visible as a flashers knob. Stewie takes centre stage as the most diabolic cartoon character ever, rejecting the pathetic Peter this flick sees him in pursuit of his real dad. The films becomes a quick excuse for the sort of one liner, and surrealist drop in scenes that define the show. The wittiest of which being the absurdist drunken adventures of an infant and a dog. Fantastic stuff, but hardly as good as any decent episode, a lazy effort made to go straight to DVD.

Nightmare On Elm Street 5 - The Dream Master: as the original Freddie franchise draws to a close ya get to jump back to see the birth of the nightmare as the bastard son of a hundred maniacs sets out to reign havoc on a new generation on Elm Street. Entirely predicatable stuff, but worth a watch to realise that all that was needed to sort Freddie out was his mammy. Then there is the sub Ultramagnetic MC's rap videos he stars in as promotions for the films.

Saw: one of the silver screens most grotesque and interesting killers, Jigsaw operates in this graphic novel tinged meshing of horror and thriller. With so much to offer, its sad to see this burn itself out as a lazy vehicle for a commerical cash in on the success of Se7en, with Danny Glover adopting the role of Morgan Freeman as the obsessed investigating cop. Some wonderfully rendered tension oozes from this one, but it all goes pants in the end as it over extends itself with twists.

Almost Famous: a Dazed and Confused-esque furoe into the the deminishing optimistic heart of rock and roll. Speeding along as a part autobiographical coming of age tale of the director Cameron Crow and part an evocative portrayal of the demise of rock after Lester Bangs described how "they" won the battle in the sixties, the film pursues a teenager on the road with a second rate Led Zepplin as he struggles to write his first cover story for Rolling Stone battling the dilemnas of family, love and the critics role.

Equilibrium: is a dystopian sci-fi that combines elements of 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 in creation of the authoritarian Liberia which premises the continued survival of the species on the suppresson of human emotion and feeling through Provium a valium-esque suppresive. Taking stylistic notes from the Matrix, Christian Bale is a Tetragrammaton Cleric chaged with suppressing sense offenders who dare express human emotion, when he comes into contact with the resistance the heart of Liberia becomes threatened.


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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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