Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mind Numbing Muppet: Neil Boorman The Brand Burner

Presenting the sixth in a 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 access to the media.

Number 6: Neil Boorman

A one time DJ ( 1 ) and music critic, Neil Boorman has raised the eye of the English press this week with his promise to burn all the brands in his possession in some bewildering act of randomness against the over-riding power of brand culture. For a man well into his thirties he's of that rather odd vintage that suffers from some sort of irony deficiency in believing music should be 'difficult for adults to understand.' It is exactly this sort of pathological desire to offend in an attention grabbing 'fuck you I won't clean up my bed-room' act of childish spite that earns him our catty contempt and that grand aul Dublin title of muppet.

Naomi Klein used brands as a point of departure for developing a popular and well needed critique of post-Fordist capitalism. But the gap between his confused and obviously pampered view of how to shop our way out of a particular set of social relations and the No Logo exposition is never made clearer than on his blog. Full of guff about acclimatising to the process of wearing non-branded runners, in his world the options are between Dunne Store's knock off high-tops and Converse originals. He admits to 'travelling to Hong Kong to get some items of clothing copied (non-branded naturally)' without ever questioning the systematic sets of power relations that have led to this warped priveliging of the commodity.

He almost admits being the living incarnation of Nathan Barley, with several collapsed efforts at publishing loud mouth chic London style magazines, brazenly shallow he describes having no interest in his current partner ' had she not been working for a very important contemporary art gallery'. You can be sure someone will give him a quirky column writing an 'anti-fashion' fashion column or even better designing summer wear for Pennys. At the rate vintage clothing is selling these days, he should have no problems dressing like the pretentious knob he is just in time for the latest Marc Jacob's grunge revival.


He likens himself to Cayce from William Gibson's Pattern Recognition ( 1 ). A 'cool-hunter' character who becomes violently ill at the sight of particular company emblems. If he does share a similarity to her, it is far from sharing a post-modern neurosis to the ever lingering logo imprints of hegemonic brands, and more in his own ability to hunt out underground cultures such as subvertising. Then strip them of their depth and ideological worth to pimp them out like sullied street walkers with a simple and crass message to earn a few fleeting moments of press to sell his up-coming book. Neil Boorman is a man no longer content with writing the art and culture features, now he wants to graduate into being the actual focus of the cultural supplements.

What you have here is a rather grandiose dose of liberal bourgeois. When history looks back it will not see a brave soul raising the deep ethical questions that haunt late capitalism. Instead it will see a pampered rich little bitch that has foregrounded his own individuality through yet more consumer choices rather than pushing for critiques of the system grounded in developing social solidarities. Bending the corporate semiotics to subversion you ain't mate, now hand over those Addidas Super Star before I set the dogs on you.

Related: No Logo Documentary: Naomi Klien lucidly explains the deepening of consumption as part of an overall capitalistic project The Century of the Self: a documentary by Adam Curtis examining how those in power have used Freud's pessimistic theories of human nature in order to demobilise democracies, instead deflecting our inner needs away from social solidarity to consumerism.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Several Birds, One Stone: Mantua and All Thats Fit to Print

Mighty Morphin Mega Power Illegal Raves.

According to the Guardian, the bobbies across the water are on the look out for a 'mega illegal rave' due to take place somewhere in the south east of England in the next few weeks. Sarah Champion, one time music journalist and sometimes editor of mid 1990's rave zetigeist fiction compendiums has also been pushed to comment on the pheonemeon, leading to some heavy doses of nostalgia over on the Guardian blog. There's definitely something in the air, with many inhabitants on my usual internet merry-go-round asking similar questions of a rave scene revival, there was even a bit of a discussion on this over on U75 a while ago.

Its possibly all hype, with journalists eager to chase after the latest underground fads, last month it was the Artic Monkies and this month its purple dreaded psy-trance ravers on ketamine. Its tempting however to think dance culture, or at least some harder edged variant more firmly rooted in the undergound is on the up over here as well. There's a certain tiredness around how so much of the new wave of British lads on guitar have colonised the soundtrack of the city at night. As well as that a generation that grew up as kids with romantic notions of rave are now old enough to start pulling things together for themselves, there's been a nice confluence of interest as a result of this. People have been able to break away from some of the more established venues and promoters because they simply do not provide any more due to the declining fortunes of commercial dance. If there are no reliant official nights churning out what you want to hear, then people cater for themselves. Equally the mid 90s commercialisation of dance spelt the death of the rave hysteria, opening a space for its limited return outside the eyes of the cops.

Mr Oizo Impression Inducing Techno.

Of course this is all premised on you actually believing the hype, the Mantua and Leechrum festivals have come and gone again this summer with heavy doses of hardcore dance on rotation at both. That both these festivals were possible in one summer on such a small island, surely is some way testament to a vibrant underground, but you have to ask yourself why such annual stalwert events like the Jigs and Rigs weekend and the regular Creation parties have exited the building before cuddling up to any doses of optimism.

Mantua was great, a field located some where in Roscommon that for two days was domianted by clusters of people insanely dancing before finding themselves sheepishly dishelved the next morning being micro-waved in their tents. With little by way of sobriety and a critical facility intact, memories of Super Exra Bonus Party delivering a high octane bouncy set that got the crowd in the Alphabet Set tent jogging on the spot tell me they are worth checking out again. God Is An Astronaut left no surprises and no highlights, suggesting that a band that once represented something of a bright hope for Irish experimental music are going to have to significantly revise their set lisiting and their on-stage audio-visuals before churlishly churning out more by the book performances to increasingly bored audiences who have seen them all too often before. Radioactive Man turned in a stomping set of Mr Oizo impression inducing checky techno before momentarily descending into some early drum and bass. Bringing the tempo back up again, it was all I could do to sit outside the tent and stare at the light show, wondering just how much harder this head case could take people.

Later in the night, Ed Melody Masher spluttered long lines of amen breaks and staccatto gabba out for hours on end, firmly in recovery ( not like this thank christ )at that stage it was impossible to enjoy what was an impressively comptent set that machine gunned the assembled crowd until well into the next day. The reggae 'stage' was impressive, consisting of a section of field framed on either end with two walls of babylon's finest rigs sound systems in the form of Cork's Rootical Soundsystem. It was impossible to get into the mood, little crowd or dance floor dynamic developed there, harder to discern what this strange land walled in reggae was never mind where to congregate to dance to it. With no more food available than a lame Fallaffel stall, and a hippie in some sort of native American garb running around with his arms outstretched flying through his own head it was clear the best option was to leave for the creature comforts.


And All The Rest.

Back in the cold hard and rainy streets of this fair and fucked city, Duran Duran Duran delivered a sickeningly but air punching good short set in Kaboogie as the bar man decided 'ya basta' around 0030hrs. Over on Oldrottenhat, our former glammer slamming Herr Philosopher Sir Krossie has delivered another traveleouge of his mad cap antics as the GoawayRecords lads touched down in Berlin for several album launches and a dose of paddy whackery. Now on slightly related note, someone from a clubbing forum in Dublin has put together an index of all the old raver anthems up on Youtube, some of them are classics. Enjoy the vidiocy!

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Robot Chicken: "Have you ever seen what happens to a yeti when 12 condoms full of unadulterated coke burst in its stomach?"

Inceasingly obsessed with the quality of humour churned out under the auspices of Adult Swim, its easy to see an evening pissed away diving back and forth between a list of its shows on Wikipedia and then hunting for them in sequence over on Youtube. The best of the Adult Swim material so far, is Robot Chicken. The brain child of Seth Green - yes, the Buffy werewolf - it's a fast witted, stop gap animation approach to the sketch show. Ripping through a whole season of Family Guy-esque pop cultural parodies in the space of ten minutes, it channel hops from demented second long visual gags and comic one liners to longer sketches that regularly spoof movies, child hood fairy tales, thrash TV and everything in between.

If you find the idea of dope smoking Tellytubbies; genocidal Care Bears; a coke smuggling Santa Claus and Chucky the knive weilding doll getting savaged by the Cabbage patch kids funny, then Robot Chicken is the place for you. It dawned on me yesterday that one could probably trace a genealogy of the core routine of detached irony on many of the Adult Swim shows back to the mashing up of popular culture in the early 1980's kids TV show Round the Bend. Its clever parodies of what passed as contempory TV and pop culture has simply been fast-forwarded to renewed relevance among those reared on the same shows it lampooned. Set in a sewer among the cast of a news show, Round the Bend entailed a similar manic blink and you'll miss it machine gun approach to its humour. I can hardly believe its actually availible on Youtube, maybe have a look and see if you notice the similarities?

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Legal High Review: All Pepped Up.

The hand wringing and moral babbling around the sale of mushrooms in Dublin has died down, but for some reason the Village this week ventured back into the head shops of Temple Bar to report that a new range of legal highs are on the market. These new highs are better shelved away under the title of party drugs, reliant not on the herbal extracts typifing other concoctions, instead they are based on existing synthetic chemicals. Some stoners like to think that god made weed so that makes it ok. He also made nettles, but I don't wipe my arse with them - usually in my book when it comes to drugs man made products have the edge.

On sale under various brand names such as Jaxx and PEP, what most of this new generation have in common is the stimulant BZP. Ranked alongside cocaine, E and hash in the states, BZP has so far escaped the attention of legislators in most of Europe. First imported from New Zealand, where the government has embarked on what it calls a 'drug harm minimisation solution,' recent legislation faciltitated the creation of a category D that allows scope for the regulation of substances like BZP. Substances that so far have shown little evidence of dodgy effects on users and if marketed properly could go some way to undermining traditional drug markets.

Its worth remembering how many of the skater and alternative shops in Temple Bar had to carry signs saying 'we do not sell magic mushrooms' as the last press witch hunt led to floods of rural kids coming up to the city looking for a legal buzz. The press plays a double game with these things, scare mongering among the parents but equally they advertise new opportunities for the experimental. Having a picked up the Village the Friday before Mantua, a headline opened before me promising an experience 'like ecstasy but cleaner,' throwing back my coffee I was down to the Head Shop in a jiffy, clamouring to get my hands on this anticipated miracle.

Head shops perplex me. Based on the triple market of kids who want the paraphrenalia and not the stuff; recreational party goers out for the weekend and psychonauts who accompanied by a bongo and Carlos Castaneda are intent on exploring the inner realms of what their mind rightly keeps locked away. Rooting around the Head Shop carries the attention of a lanky long hair behind the counter. Wearing some sci-fi shirt himself, its his turn to look me up and down for some referent snippet and ask that most annoying question "how can I help you?"
"Well I'm just looking around..."
Straight to the chase he interupts "Are you after a particular effect?"
"MDMA" I hesitantly volunteer, knowing full well that there can be nothing but a snigger trapped behind his facial hair as he conspires future opportunities to sell people like me turf. After throwing €12 across the table for two pre-packaged capsules, I hand over my passport for an age ID, and as a fumbling joke about the Village coverage being a brilliant ad fails I leave the shop.

Dishing out over €40 to try salvia divinorum from a similar shop a number of years ago burnt me rightly, so my experiences with legal drugs have fallen down between the cracks of gags from the Brasseye "cake" episode. If they are legal then they must consist of 'made up psychoactive chemicals' and be bugger all use to any of us. This wasn't the case with LSD prior to 1967, or that evil most foul Ketamine in the UK more recently and we don't need to mention mushrooms again. Sometimes things slip through the cracks and BZP is one of these things. The Mantua festival provided the ideal scenario to test the hype, having a can of Bavaria 8.6 and a bottle of Buckfast prior to dropping hardly constituted the most scientific of conditions. But you can be sure they are the eternal independent variables of any Irish party and if not now and there, then where was I going to try these little orange capsules?

You can be sure there is something in these PEP pills that approximates a relatively mild E. Its a rushing sped up sensation that sends you leaping into a lip biting hard dancing mode but not before a mild burping nausea comes over you as your body digests the substance. These are so good that you even get that horrible emphatic effect that sends you motoring off into rambling discussions with those unfortunate enough to step into your path of spewed emotional vomit.

From the first moment it feels like you are spiralling towards a comedown that never happens. The clock seems to have moved a tad too slow and you just return to whatever sober or twisted state you were in about an hour before taking the drug. There is this lingering vague pscyhedleic and monged cloud hanging around your head for a while, it's a chilled skagged effect that means you should keep some good friends close by as the serotonin starts to play games with your head. The next morning left me with a massive sense of disassociation and deja vu that could be associated with any combination of the other variables at hand that night. There was this fresh exhaustion and a need to sleep that I've never associated with any of my previous late night acelerated escapades and its an experience that registers with what other users have described about these PEPX pills.

Elsewhere: As always, the best places on the net for honest advice on drugs is the vaults of Erowid and the drugs forum on Urban75. A google search also showed up this Ministry of Sound review of PEPX, meanwhile the Guardian has this to say. Thumped has also picked up on these PEP pills, where they are being explored as an option for the Electric Picnic. The consensus there seems to be that 'pills are way more fun, probably the same cost.'
This consensus is dramatically challenged by the experiences of users over on PlanB. Some Aussie students writing for a college mag subjected a batch of these new legal highs to a fine review as well. Beware as it seems most of the particular brands the head shop in town sell are available far cheaper online ( 1 ). Meanwhile if you are interested there is an interesting talk on featuring an American group called 'Law Enforcement Against Prohibition' next week in Merchants Quay.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Library Thing and Bad Books.

The Irish blogosphere is awash with people posting pictures of their bookshelves on the net this week. Given the high levels of procrastination I am prone to, any new internet fad is met with welcome arms, and now you can browse my virtual book shelf in the making too. Its worth asking the question, is this one among many of the pleasurable vanities the net opens up for us to indulge in? Library Thing sounds exactly like the virtual equivilent of leaving that unread tome on the coffee table to silently impress your friends. Until there is a greater conformance in handheld technologies offering the chance to share digitally ripped books, I can't see paper copies becoming redundant anytime soon. Neither can I see hard backs being downloaded over Soulseek for a quick toilet seat reading session. I hope Library Thing represents a genuine opportunity to further community, as those within a relative geographical vicinity of each other are now presented with the opportunity to swap and share books. But will they use it? Like most of these burgeoning online network that attempt to stumble off line, I'll relinquish holding my breath and await the hactivist liberation of Google books or Questia. Where once we browsed through libraries, we now secretly perve through other's virtual book shelves in trepidation of asking a lend.

Meanwhile in the real world and at the opposite end of this fragmented and individualised reading experience is Bad Books. For over a year now, a group of Dublin activists have been struggling to find a place to rent in Dublin to open an space and meeting point for artists and activists. Recently the Seomra Spraoi collective behind the idea, opened their new autonomous space and in doing so have provided a home for the itenerant Bad Books libray and the Forgotten Zine archive. The Bad Books library was started back in the heady days of the Magpie Squat on Leeson St. A library was set up, membership was on the premise of donating three books and you are in. Complete with its own unique libray membership cards held by assorted anarchists and alternative types, the library thrived before the squat was evicted, leaving over 500 books and 1,500 zines homeless. Temporarily given shelter in the Unawarehouse on the Nth Strand, the books and zines now have a new home in the centre of town. Carrying mostly rare, expensive and hard to get books of cultural criticism, political theory and histories from below, the new home provides an opportunity for more people to donate some of those books providing a dusty intellectual aesthetic to your hallway to a place where they'll be cherished and used.

Bookish types may be interested in a special sale to raise cash for future projects over on Autonomedia. Linked for years to Semiotext(e), both publishers have been central early conduits for translations of radical continental philosophies to English. In the early days this meant Baudrillard and Delueze, now it means Negri and Federici. From breifly checking through the highlights, I recommend Cracking the Movement, just back from Amsterdam myself and rearing to get into this highly commended account of the early days of the contemporary Dutch squatting scene for some hints towards its now declining role. Caliban and the Witch is equally worth a look for a heady combination of a queered up feminist theory, that seeks to contextualise the meanings given to the female form within its reproductive use for capitalism. They also maintain the excellent Interactivist Exchange, a visit once a day is gauranteed to keep the Sky News blues away - trust me. And after that if you need a free bookshelf you could do worse than browsing through Leinster Freecycle for the pine book case I spotted this morning.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Theatre Review: 'Stuck Here Like That Little Bitch In Oz'.

The poster of a Munchkin clutching an over sized bottle of whiskey while peering up Dorothy's skirt summarizes the irreverent attitude of Babylon Heights. If the land of Oz lies over the rainbow, the spotlight here is on its far from pretty underbelly of lurid sexual violence, personal betrayal and drug dependency. Describing the Wizard of Oz as an 'indispensable part of our cultural heritage in the west,' Welsh's production with the Attic Studio, exposes the nadir where personal ambition is exploited by major studios, as humiliation and self abasement is forced on four Munchkin extras.

Welsh has spent much of his literary energy piercing the bubbles of comfortable modern fables. Just as Renton's 'choose life speech' in Trainspotting ruptured the materialist values of Thatcher's Britain, so too does this latest stage project with Dean Cavanagh roll a hand grenade under the door of popular American culture. Judy Garland's allusion to tales of drunken sex parties and drug abuse at the Culver Hotel, where the nearly two hundred Munchkin actors were segregated from the main cast, created one of Hollywood's most persistent urban myths.


These rumours of debauchery were given a typically frantic Chevy Chase treatment in a 1981 movie called 'Under the Rainbow.' Here they are exhumed afresh by a collaborating duo obsessed with the darker rumor that a Munchkin corpse can be seen hanging from a plastic tree in one scene. Taking myth as reality, the play constructs a manic hallucinatory reality at the heart of an enduringly innocent Hollywood fantasy.

In the past Welsh was fully capable of expressing the cultural zeitgeist of the acid house generation but recent coverage of this latest effort remain obsessed with these lurid tales of drug abuse and successfully manage to side line deeper concerns weaved into his work, such as the fracturing of traditional class identity in a novel like Glue.

Using regular sized actors against an enlarged scenario, Welsh strove to avoid pandering to 'a sniggering herd mentality' by provoking the sensationalist media surrounding this controversial topic. While it the play raised the goat of some disability organizations, its worth noting his previous exploration of disability. In one of the chemical romances in Ecstasy, a maladjusted Thalidomide victim manipulates a lover into extracting revenge on a company director responsible for the callous promotion of the devastating drug. Here the portrayal of the experiences of four actors of diverse backgrounds thrown together after being hired by a vaudeville retainer, is far from an elucidation of victim-hood for simple comedy as some critics have lampooned.

The 'palm trees, flora and fauna' that attracts one of the actors to Hollywood, are overshadowed by a set of towering bunk beds that quickly induce a paranoiac cabin fever among the characters. Routinely patronized for their small stature by a booming off stage voice representing the abusive and abrasive studio, underpaid and fed false promises of custom made homes after the shoot, these four characters have no possibility of clicking their heels and going home and as one exclaims they are 'stuck here like that little bitch in Oz' bent to the will of more powerful entities beyond their control.

The first half of the play is full of predictable gags that veer towards belittling the subjects at hand but ultimately these sit alongside some hilarious caustic commentary on the shooting of Oz. The comedic highlight is a self referential monologue on the use of the word 'cunt' as a precision piece of language to be carefully rationed, yet one punctuating so much of Welsh's work. The actors performances throughout are frantically goofball, at times a little overbearing and nearly collapsing into pantomine. Despite some a lack of dramaturgical depth, the play remains a brave but somewhat disjointed black comedy nightmare of the actual gap between Hollywood glamor and reality.


Finally joining the ranks of bloggers published in real time, this Soundtracksforthem review first appeared in edited form in the latest edition of the
Village Magazine. Babylon Heights will be running at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum untill August 17th. Tickets are 18 squids and can be booked here.

The best review of the play I've found: Ozmosis: by Chloe Veltman in the SF Weekly
An associated press review all over the net:
Jill Lawless 'Munchkins run amok'

Other thoughts: I've been meaning to write something on Irvine Welsh for some time now, I'd even concieved the idea of writing my thesis for Equality Studies using him as a platform to explore the changing nature of class identity in post-modern society. Much of the coverage around his latest works have stunned me with their lack of any semblence of intellectual rigour. On one hand the British Tory press have attempted to re-cuperate him as a Cameroon supporter despite his own admission in one of the Sunday culture supplements, maybe the Sunday Business Post (you know how they all blur together..) where he stated he 'wouldn't vote for Cameroon in a month of fucking Mondays.' What I find interesting about Welsh is that behind his raver hedonism and acid casualty cynicism, a lot of his work chimes in with a broader left wing conciousness and the creation of popular narratives of class. For example the TV play 'Dockers' along with Jimmy McGovern, played an integral role in popularising the Liverpool Dockers dispute.

Something I've noticed among a lot of the angsty lefty young men I went to college with was a shared early teen propensity to both Irvine Welsh and The Manic Street Preachers. Lines like ' the difference between me and those fucking wimpy arsehole socialists. I don't want the Tories out, I want them fucking dead. Just because I've got a bus pass doesn't mean I'm part of the system. An anarchist with a bus pass is still a fucking anarchist' from Smart Cunt have always stuck with me as an articulation of a non-dogmatic socialism rooted in the social realities of what he calls elsewhere the 'long dark nights of late capitalism.'

This is a socialism increasingly needing an expression on the level Welsh could aspire to. The rant on the how getting up early to sell a couple of papers in a shopping centre is not being the best way to chill out after raving' drips with the bitterness of one faced with the destruction of proud working class histories at the hands of Thatcherism and the futile games of the Trotskyist left. There are more extracts from him posted at a discussion at Meanwhileatthebar. I'm interested in what Sinead has to say about both the play and his new book.






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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Return of Kaboogie and the Demise of the Lower Deck

Just noticed that Kaboogie, organisers of some of Dublin's best nights all year are back next month with CockRockDisco's DuranDuranDuran playing the Ice Bar on August 25th, alongside Planet Mu's the Teknoist, a man whose becoming something of a regular spectre at their nights at this stage. Lets just hope a previous mention of a possible Knifehandchop date returns to their myspace with a confirmation instead of lingering crossed fingers.

DJ C
was the last gig hosted by Kaboogie, and to celebrate their return to Dublin's moribund nightscape a we present this
collection of mixes of his mixes for your ear to chew on - the recommendation weighs in strongly behind Bouncement. Straight out of Berlin, Zerosound is a blog nicely wedding consistently spot on musical commentary with something of a political and social focus, I'll leave the description of DJ C to them;

"DJ C is an american ragga jungle wizard who runs the Mashit label out of his bedroom in Boston, MA. He published a series of records on labels like Kid606s Shockout, the London-baced Scandal Bag, and his own label. The tunes have been killing club sound-systems and airwaves worldwide. Legendary BBC Radio 1 host John Peel chose Mashit as a "label of the month" in October, 2004 .... DJ C and Debaser did a junglist refix of the Bob Marley classic Crazy Baldheads which has been ruling dance-floors as a dub-plate for some time now. Those who know the tune are familiar with it's message about the oppressor's control over the downtrodden. A pertinent topic in today's environment of oil hungry money grubbers and fundamentalist propagandists read on >>>>."

While it looks like Kaboogie are getting a monthly residency together in Kennedies, there has been an unfortunate further closing of space for independent gigs in the city this week, with Porco Dio's loss of the Lower Deck. If you have any ideas for a new home for this increasingly important outlet for the DIY scene and fundraising enterprise for Dublin's anti-authoritarian left, I'm sure they'd appreciate it if you dropped them a line.

Now, is it just me who is watching the fonts on their blog develop a life of their own?

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

SHOCK EXCLUSIVE: Robbie Admits New Love.

The post-structuralist theorist Jean Baudrillard, had much to say on human existence in a hypermediated world. It may be increasingly impossible to distil orginality from simulation, revolutionary open source projects face this too With the collective work of Wikipedia being leeched off to populate the pages of more commercial minded websites like Help.com, About.com and Answers.com.

Sometimes this dishonesty of purpose comes back to haunt them as it clearly does with their pilfering of a previous Wiki entry on Robbie Williams. Look down to the paragraph on Angels, and you'll see that some one inserted the frond below into it in one of the most imaginative acts of trolling I've ever seen.

"The initial lyrics were to include the line 'when I'm feeling weak and the simulations of the life-world are forming my narratives too become hyperreal' in ode to Jean Baudrillard, who Williams famously described as being more influential to him than both Lennon and McCartney combined. But the final version has the end of the sentence change as co-writter Chambers claimed that Baudrillard's work is no longer relevant in a post-Keyensian era."

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Mantua: Something for the Weekend/Germany Got the RAF - England Got Crass.

If you missed all the madness of the Leechrum festival the weekend before last, then like me, you could do far worse than promise to find yourself wandering around a field somewhere in Rosscommon come Sunday night. Why? After hosting Vex'd as part of a Planet Mu/Warp records showcase earlier in the year, the Mantua lives festival will be finally tacking itself on to the festival circuit for the first time on the 19th and 20th of August. Nialler9 has the full low down, with some mp3s of the headlining acts ripped and ready, just to get you in the mood. Among the acts I'll be clamouring up the front for will be God Is An Astronaut, who we've interviewed on this blog before (after they wiped Whipping Boy off the stage at one of their come back gigs down in Cork before Christmas) Herv, Radioactive man, Ebauche and Giveamankick.

Now for something different. Crass remain one of the most popular bands to emerge from the post-'77 British punk scene. Taking the cartoon anarchism of the Pistols to a far deeper level, they wedded their music to social and political subversion combining situaitonist sloganeering with sqautter punk activism. Their 'Do They Owe Us A Living?' continues to be an unabated anthem that champions the potential for auto-reducing our exploitation by capitalism. Doing much to keep the black flag flying during the years of Thatcherism, Crass are one of the most controversial bands in the history of British music. I'm not going to go any further with this off the cuff biography of Crass, instead I'm going to send you off in the direction of three articles I've being pointing people to for sometime now. Punk and Autonomia - the 1977 lines between punk in the UK and Autonomia in Italy, Aufhebens' Chill or Kill - Analysis of the Opposition to the Criminal Justice Bill and the Praxis 18 Newsletter on Breakcore. What unites all of these articles is a clearly articulated attempt to relate culture to its political and social context, and thats something that we here on Soundtracksforthem quite like but probably rarely put much effort into doing.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Documentaries: The French Riots and Rap | The Oral Folk History of Post WW2 Squatting

Discovering the wonderful BBC 4 recently, I've come across a series of documentaries that might be worth sharing with you. French rap has been the voice of the banlieues, the poor suburbs encircling Paris and other french cities, the tensions and the musical culture of these estates were briefly brought to international attention by the 1996 film La Haine and more recently during the recent riots where it 'blew on the embers' of rebellion in incendiary lyrics challenging the role of the poulet/police and national myths on what it means to be french. Straight Outta Clichy is a radio documentary that explores the contours of these antagonisms, with interviews with the main movers and shakers in the industry, rappers pursued by the French state for their lyrical descriptions of police violence and those that seek to use rap as a scapegoat for explosions against social deprivation.

Another excellent documentary I've listened to recently deals with the oral folk history of persistent shortages at the end of the second world war, a problem that lead to over 40,000 British people taking the law into their own hands and squatted in property that they didn't own presenting Atlee's Labour Government with its first great crisis. Squatter's Paradise is their tale. With ever escaluating rent prices in Dublin, this programme is definitely food for thought ( 1) Many of you will probably be shocked to find Dublin has its own militant history of squatting as a solution to a lack of social housing, in the seventies the Dublin Squatters Association housed hundreds with the state even threatening to bring in the army to help bailiffs.

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This Never-ending Bebo Hysteria

This Bebo hysteria remains as resistent as a viral chest Infection in a house of stoners and is every bit as irritating. For a number of months now media outlets have been churning out a revised and updated version of the original internet and paedophelia scare mongerings. This time the hysteria hinged on social networking sites like Bebo and Myspace.

For a while it died down, but this morning Roger Greene's Media Matter's shamelessly rooted around the bottom of the bag and dragged it all back up again as a filler slot on a clearly cream crackered show. Many of those summoned to discuss social networking sites clearly have no notion of the forms of interaction governing such sites. Instead they parachute themselves in pretending to be 13 year olds with fake accounts, before preceeding to stalk kids in pursuit of the phantom child molesters caustically satirised by
that Brasseye special.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Omen, Guerilla Advertising and Street Art

All memories of the disaster that was the Psycho remake are seemingly excorcised in the world of big business horror and the intelligence applied by Hollywood to come up with ways to make a quick buck appear seriously to be on the wane. Right minded horror movie fans were probably mostly disappointed with The Omen 666. What a premise - take a classic horror movie and remake it without any real ruptures with the original.

Chiming in with recent cultural trends, the studio must have been busy hiring patsies locally in Dublin to engage in a guerilla marketing of its product. Crudely sprayed stencils of Damien casting an inverted crucifix, with the movies release date popped up all over the city over a forthnight ago. The Wooster Collective took Sony PSP to task over using street art stencils to advertise its merchandise recently, with widespread defacing of the cartoon characters hyping its product occuring in the states. Adidas colour also recently had an ingenius campaign providing blank bill boards for artists to destory, before throwing another pasted bill board sheet with homes in it over the vandalised original to incorporate it into the runner's design.

Fox had originally attempted a revival of the Omen series with a made for TV fourth sequel, a movie that was going to be used as a bridge head to initiate a Friday 13 style sequence of cash ins. With this new movie the studio used all possbile promotional techniques to stir a fuss including manipulating box office numbers to come up with $12,633,666 after the first weekend of screenings. The movie of course was also launched on the 6/6/06. Oh and don't let me ruin the movie in telling you that after the death of Damien's father he is shoved off to become the adopted son of the US president playing nicely into popular themes about the Busy dynasty. FFS.

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Vincenzo Monolouges: New IIW Style Blog Attacks Browne and Left.

Some of you may remember the internet presence of one of Indymedia's most ferocious trolls. Going under the title of Indymedia Ireland Watch (IIW) and registered on the Blogspot hosting site, they used a snide satirical tone to highlight the supposed flaws attached to various Indymedia 'personalities.' Those that put their head over the parapet and stepped beyond online anonymity to be published in the mainstream media, or even exerted more time on Indy editorial duty were viciously lampooned and castigated. The blog also offered financial rewards for the names and addresses of activists appearing in photos on the site. The IIW site under went a sudden and dramatic closure last April but later that month a new site opened up calling itself the Vincenzo Monologues.

This new blog styles itself as the 'comical antidote to Vincent Browne's knee-high to me media empire.' Like the previous effort at undermining this site, it seeks to ridicule both contributers to the Village and their audience. Those of you who have connected the dots so far will not be surprised to find that the writing style echoes the earlier IIW effort in a sniping 'wouldn't you know' manner that attacks Browne's publication, but remains more firmly concerned with the magazine's relationship with Indymedia and the left more generally. Describing Browne as the Maureen Potter of Irish journalism it accuses him of "bufoonery" in appealing to the "anarchist yoof" crowd of "Idiotmedia" through Village Magazine. Somebody seriously has some issues with anti-establishment media in this country, as you can see for yourself.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

More Of A TV Pointer Than A Review: Drawn Together

This blogging thing can be something of a loss at times. Like speaking into a void, where you're never sure if anyone is actually listening. When most of what you churn out is the sort of comment that populates the various music and cultural sections of the Sunday supplements that litter the floor beside your toilet as you crap, then it truly can feel like an excercise in repeating opinions just for the sake of it. For the purpose of giving yourself some sort of over inflated sense of ego that you too are an opinion maker. As someone on Oldrottenhat commented of late 'too many people in the world seem to imagine that the rest of us care about their opinions. I liked it, so I'm giving you my opinion, even though you don't care.'

I was going to rave on about the joyous accidental discovery of Paramount's Drawn Together, a show subverting the themes of reality TV shows like BB by throwing a set of animated archetypes together and playing their subdued racial and social stereotyping off against each other. It made me laugh, but as usually someone has inevitably gotten to the punch quicker than me and subjected the programme to some serious slating. I've just seen the one episode tonight and liked it. Its on Paramount, Fridays at 10pm, check it out and make up your own mind.

You tube as ever has a selection of clips and episodes from the show for you to watch.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mind Numbing Muppets: Bono is a fucking tool (of Imperialism)

Presenting the fifth in a 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 access to the media.

Number 5: Bono..again

Like so many, I too have suffered the end of innocence with respect to my childhood heroes letting me down. A long time ago I came to terms that the late cyclist Marco Pantani, a cougar in the mountain stages to whom I dedicated many an adolescent afternoon in front of the TV, had become a drug cheat. Ditto Shaun Ryder after he told me to “fuck off” in Dublin airport when I approached him for an autograph - though now when I think of it that was very rock’n’roll.

While Bono was a childhood hero to many on the left, I always wished the Earth would open up underneath him and he would disappear into Hades, where there would be a special lake of fire reserved for him, the Dalai Lama, Televangelists and New Age Hippies. For one thing, U2’s music is so sedative that if you allow yourself to listen to it for more than a few minutes there is a serious danger your brain will turn into pate. But more seriously, Bono’s ethical posturing, egomania and de facto support for imperialist institutions such as the IMF and World Bank demonstrate why this man is below contempt.

Now Bono, the new messiah for the world’s disenfranchised, has become embroiled in controversy over his investment in a computer game called “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames”, which depicts the virtual invasion and destruction of Venezuela in order to check a national movement of the oppressed challenging US Imperialist hegemony in the region. The video game simulates the overthrow of the government, the destruction of major Venezuelan cities and rural areas, and the takeover of the oil industry in scenes redolent of the brutal reality facing people in occupied Iraq.

Elevation Partners is the investment firm established by Bono that has to date invested $300 million dollars into the game’s creator, Pandemic Studios. Responding to criticism, Pandemic insists that “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames” is a work of fictional entertainment. Perhaps like “Command and Conquer: Red Alert”, the well known military strategy game, where watching Red Army tanks rolling into London was always heart-warming. But whereas Westwood Studios produce games like “Command and Conquer” for strategists enthused by imaginary warfare (chess is based on the concept), Pandemic Studios is a subcontractor for the US Army and CIA funded Institute for Creative Technologies, which mount war simulations in California's high desert in order to conduct military training.

So far Bono has failed to respond to concerns raised by Venezuelan solidarity groups - the manufacture of a game advocating the violent overthrow of Hugo Chavez, by a company which collaborates with the US military, in the current context of relentless threats against Venezuela by the Bush administration.

This controversy has displayed the nauseating hypocrisy of Bono. He has invested in a project exploiting the Venezuelan masses who were resolutely shat upon until Chavez was elected to power. Since then, schools have been upgraded in urban and rural areas and are required to offer free breakfasts and lunches, arts, music and after-school activities. In poor communities, federally-subsidised stores called "mercals" sell food at half the market price and across the country, new housing is being built to replace shantytown "ranchos" that so many Venezuelans live in. Thousands of free medical clinics have been built inside neighbourhoods that never had doctors before. These are staffed largely by doctors from Cuba, and in return, Cuba receives Venezuelan oil. The Venezuelan state oil company even started a program that provided discounted home-heating oil to low-income families in the US.

The Imperialists fear the Bolivarian spirit of the Venezuelan revolution will become contagious to the rest of the Third World. As Lenin wrote, “Revolutions are festivals of the oppressed”. That is why the US are so keen on overthrowing Chavez and, along with the rest of the G8, felt pressurised into cancelling multilateral debts owed by 18 mainly African countries last year in an attempt to diffuse a growing sentiment against the imperialist plunder of the continent’s massive mineral and oil resources. They then drafted in Bono for moral legitimacy and photo shoots to soften their image.

Yet last year, Mozambique defied an IMF-imposed cap on government wages spending by hiring a further 5000 teachers. Tanzania repudiated the water privatisation contract led by British company Biwater and Mali has delayed the final privatisation of its cotton industry, against World Bank orders, until 2008. In most instances, these states have acted responding to struggles waged by trade unions and social movements on the ground.

Of course, Bono is only too happy to serenade Bush and Blair with pleas for “more and better aid”, perpetuating a culture of charity that leads to the stunting of political consciousness and an inability to constructively engage with the very real problems we face. Revolutionaries and anti-imperialists need to take this debate into the broader social movement and to tackle the social democratic tendency that wants to preserve the capitalist system by softening the abysmal social contradictions. You cannot put a happy face on capitalism. What is necessary is a revolutionary change in the world economic structure.

Last month, addressing the Frente Francisco de Miranda, Venezuela’s leading organisation mobilising youth in support of the revolutionary process, Chavez proclaimed, “the ideological battle against destructive capitalism, for socialism, must deepen. Only socialism will save the planet, will save the human species ... We must develop consciousness.”

Venceremos! (We will win!)

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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 antropheatgmail.com

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