Saturday, January 27, 2007

Club Review: Thrashed You'll Rightly Be.

If you were wondering where all those bean pole males who take fashion cues from Russel Brand are be found falling around a dancefloor then look no further - Thrashed one of the mid week nights in the Hub is yer man. With practically all drinks coming in at a dangerous 3e you'll quickly find yourself terrorising the dance floor with dysfucntional dance moves before getting in a huff and spilling more vodka and orange over yourself at the side. The music policy runs from the whole NME New Rave schlock, through classic indie and back out the arse end with floor pounding Prodigy. They say: "Interpol -whadda ya make of that?" You say: "Not more fucking Joy Division." Check it out over on Myspace.

I meant to mention this before but Reeuq has a review of old time favorites Belladonnakillz recent live show over in Toronto. Goth rave my arse.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Organising Precarity In Ireland.

As part of a special focus on precarity in the latest issue of Red and Black Revolution, the WSM has published an article I wrote nearly a year ago at this stage, on the experiences of the Get Up Stand Up Campaign and the Polish workers dispute in Tesco the summer before last. It kicks off a little something like this...

Over the past year there has been an emerging preoccupation among anarchists and socialists with precarity as an expression of a new work discipline imposed by neo-liberalism. Already there have been several precarity forums in European cities aimed at etching out a sense of the identities formed through the shared experience of the demands of job market flexibility.

There have also been five successive years of Euromayday parades across Europe calling for “flexicurity.” None of this escaped the notice of Irish activists. In Ireland, the WSM has so far been involved in two campaigns that can be linked to the issue. Our members were involved in providing solidarity to a group of Polish temp workers in an attempt to highlight the exploitative use of agency staff by Tesco, and also in giving out information on workplace and union rights in the Get Up, Stand Up Campaign....continues over on the Workers' Solidarity Movement website.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

54 Tells the Story of Life in the Shadow of A Failed Revolution

54 is written by the Italian Wu Ming collective (Mandarin for 'anonymous' and 'five names, depending on its pronunciation and perhaps most significantly, a nom de plume often used by Chinese revolutionaries), for their last book they were known as Luther Blissett an Englishman who used to play football for AC Milan. For those not au fait with the world of post-situ art hoaxers (for shame!), Luther Blissett is a nom de plume used by aforementioned hoaxers in the course of said hoaxing. Previous stunts under the same name (although not necessarily the same collective) include concocting a phony media scandal about a high ranking Italian cleric being involved in paedophile child smuggling ring and organising a bus hijack/techno party/riot with the cops through the streets of Rome. Their previous book, Q is an epic, it tells the story of the insurrections and peasants revolts that broke out in Germany and Holland in the 15th century, through the eyes of a nameless and wandering radical. The rebellions of this period challenged the authority of the feudal lords and the papal hierarchy which justified them; they turned religion against the Church, demanding an end to class society in biblical language. Q is a long story of rebellion, and inevitably its defeat, whether at the hands of the armies of the Catholic church, of the new Protestant elite, or those of a crazed and brutal demagogue.

If rebellion is the main story of Q, then its failure is the main story of 54. The book is centred around Italy in the year 1954, at the peak of the Cold War. The main character is one Robespierre Capponi, second son of a communist revolutionary and barman in the Communist Party Aurora bar in Bologna. His brother Nicola, who manages the bar, fought with the Italian anti-fascist partisans during the war and was permanently crippled by a Nazi bullet. The book opens during the war as the men's father, Vittorio Capponi leads a mutiny against his commanding officer in his unit fighting on the Yugoslavian front and runs off the join Tito's partisans. The war casts a long shadow on the rest of the book, as the old revolutionaries struggle to come to terms with the shallow victory that they have won. The revolution that they fought for has given way to a corrupt government propped up by the United States1, Mussolini is dead, but everywhere the fascists are being pardoned and are back in power while many of the former partisans are being persecuted. This failure, and how it's dealt with is one of the main themes of the continues on Indymedia -
Ronan McHugh.

Editors note:
A lot of material on this blog links off to Indymedia at the end. The reason for this is because it is a site worth supporting with contributions and also due to its 'on Indymedia first' guideline, designed to eliminate cut and pastes spamming the site from elsewhere on the web.

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In The Box 1: Enduser

Kaboogie are promising another night of bass heavy enough to make your granny cry as stateside speaker thrasher Enduser takes a break from touring with Bong-ra to fuck the place up down Kennedys way this friday. Enduser uses fractured beats and the machinery of an industrially tinged drum and bass to tear through every genre you try barricade him in with. The grinding sonic terror at the heart of Endusers music is cushioned in often soft female vocals like on his Bollywood Breaks release or more commonly filthily compounded by violent ragga vocal lifts as on Comparing Paths.

Find yourself a copy of Bollywood Breaks for a lesson in cementing over hippy visions of Goa or India in a bizarre collage of dnb and world music.
There's a fair chunk of tracks over at the C8 site for you to start pillaging to get you in the mood before Friday night. Here's a short interview with him, he's both short and cheeky but if interested you can drag up a more in-depth piece with Enduser over at Exploding Plastic.

You're on tour with Bongra at the moment, how's that going and how are crowds reacting to you?

Tour is good, crowds are great for the most part. Sometimes they want more straight forward dnb but i think it's shit.

As a teenager what were your main musical influences?

Godflesh, Swans and Napalm Death

When did you first start making music and what pushed you into it?

I've always made music. I just started putting out records to pay for my medication.

Describe your first track in ten words, be as cruel or self-praising as you want?

Two tape decks and here are a few more words...

What's your stimulant/drink of choice?

I'm sure you will find out very soon

What was the best gig you attended in the past year?

I can't remember.

Bollywood Breaks is a fantastic release - how did you get the idea for combining such distinct musical styles and why a whole release of it?

All music can be treated like this, just two things I enjoy sounded ok to me.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

I'm going to have lunch soon. Then some music. Maybe I'll be dead in a few days, I don't know yet.

The net is increasingly important in music, how are you using and do you buy the hype about it changing everything?

Internet is good and bad. I don't see how anyone can say that hasn't changed everything.

Where did the name Enduser come from and why do you want to 'fuck up the system?'

Enduser = end user. Everyone. I made a song called that but it was a typo. it was supposed to be called "fuck up your sister". It's a personal thing, I'll explain later.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Categories Arrive and The Blog Awards Open.

With the volume of stuff gathering dust behind curtains on this blog, I've itched for a categorisation system for some time now. Finally its arrived. The new Blogger system of labeling has gone live, leaving us net real estate poor bloggers with the ability to display our work under filtered headings and topics. Over the next couple of days I'll be racing through the back catalogue and coming up with some sort of system to compartmentalise material published here under headings.

After winning this year's Time person of the year, the 'you' of the Irish blog glitterati will be fawning over itself in praise for the next few months as he nominations round for the 2007 Irish Blog Awards goes live. From now until Friday the 26th of January 2007 you have a chance to stick your favorite blogs in for a shot at the title. So get your arse over to the awards nomination form if you want to stick me down for something, it'd be appreciated - you may as well get your Bebo and Myspace hordes on to it. There's some photos over here for anyone curious about just what happens when the obscure and the ranting come out in the public eye - you'll be disappointed to find nothing more than a session in some posh hotel.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Two Months In Print: From the Book Exchanges Or Not?

The stalls may be bustling with Spanish language editions of Dan Brown sitting alongside The Art of War and Das Kapital, but the best you'll manage is to scan through a daily tabloid and come away with a faint understanding . Well thats the experience of an Spanish speaker in South America. This gives a weighted importance to book exchanges in hostels. Far from being bursting, divergent little caves of taste and interest, invariably they included two shelves of semi-erotic romance novels, spy-fiction in abundance and multiple out of date travel guides. Here's some books I got around to reading on my travels. You can judge what came from the exchanges and what came from ruthlessly rooting around markets yourself. In the spirit of 60 Seconds On Film here's some reviews. Rueeq had a similar idea and reviewed some of what she read, doubling up on some of the ones below and others.

Primitive People, Francine Prose This is exactly the sort of book that old adage on judging by the cover warns you against. A forceful, blurb bends you towards this supposedly, acerbic anthropological satire of American, middle class suburbia. This is Wisteria Lane as seen through the eyes of Simone, a Hatian migrant economically conscripted as "care giver" to the permanently crisis prone divorced Rosemary.

The authors finger is on the trigger when it comes to characterizing the shallowness of the upper middle classes, simultaneously wrapped in dilemmas about their own status, then flaunting it or trying to off-set it through New Age philosophy or exploring the artist within. Cringe inducing incidents provide the backbone of the humor, and then like one Desperate Housewives voice over too many it all becomes a little too tedious to bother finishing.

Death in the Andes, Mario Vargas Llosa
Llosa is a writer to make your spine tingle. In this delicate combination of love story and detective noir he crafts a modern horror relying in equal dose on the natural spookiness of the Peruvian mountains and the violence of Sendero Luminoso. The Senderistas become confused and intertwined with demons of the hills in this clash of rural/urban and furoe into the persistence of pagan belief among Andean peasants. The plot unfolds around a coastal city Civil Guard Corporal Lituma, who lands a rural out-post investigating the mysterious death of several laborers on a road-works.

It's a series of narratives within narratives, on one hand Lituma's lovelorn side kick interrupts the textual flow with flashbacks to his own romance with a former prostitute. On the other hand Lituma, tortures himself with imaginings of the bawdy drunken debauchery foisted on road laborers by Dona Adriana and her husband the mystic Dionisio who run a shanty roadside canteen. The ancient and modern collapse into each other, leading to a violent and iconically charged ending that immediately brings the Wickerman to mind.

From Gangland to Promised Land, John Pridmore
Remember those secondary school afternoons when some lunatic with a history of drug addiction, mental breakdowns and violence held your class rapt with tales of his visitations from God? Yes well John Pridmore is one of these retreat running men. In Carlow one particular wild haired, former seventies rocker, a skillful story teller who noodled Zeplein on acoustic and warninged of their dalliance with satanic rites and the consequences on young minds. Pridmore never had such occult rock ambitions, instead he was a simple minded East-end bouncer with a short fuse. Pridmore successfully cultivates a soap opera hard-man on the downward spiral image, concoctions of drugs, women and lad culture take their toll and he first obsesses over some slight on his pub pride and then batters some kid near to death.

Mid way through his court case he of course turns to God, replacing a set of voices in his head with just the one. Amble on through a series of adventures in the poverty industry, where Holy John used his tough boy exterior to break down walls between youth and social workers and its all pretty much wrapped up until celebrity status strikes through the Youth 2000 campaign. There are some truly disturbing moments described as he sails through school retreats. One such class weighed heavy due to the presence of visibly upset and distant girl. In private Pridmore advanced towards her and told her the reason for her state of mind,as God had put it to him - serial childhood sexual abuse. If you want a picture of the mentallers still being dragged into our schools to shore up the moral fiber of our teenagers in religion classes, here's your start. You couldn't even begin to make this bollox up.

Fortress of Solitude, Jonathon Lethem One of the more brilliant novels to fall into my hands recently, but this loses its glittering attraction towards the end by eschewing explorations of the 1970's Brooklyn tagging and hip-hop culture for the personal trauma of growing up white in a black neighborhood. Though disappointed by the ultimate direction of this novel, it'd be foolish not to recognize how Lethem has made the area of racial tensions and its contribution to pop culture his particular area for mining anecdotal recalls from the very recent modern.

He builds up a plot around the shared mutual love of DC Comics, hip hop and robbing spray paint between two boys, one white, one black. That these two kids would take such dramatically different paths in life is an testament to the strength of racial separation in the states today, despite the mainstream acceptance of predominantly black cultures. Brooklyn breathes all over this book, you can be of no doubt that Lethem was inhaling its air as he produced the detailed accounts of building gentrifaction beginning with the '60's counter culture and then how crack first began to take hold in the projects.

History of Argentina in the 20th Century, Luis Alberto Romero Going by the Evita Museum and others in Buenos Aires, after the dictatorship came to power - it without reason dug up the first lady of the Peronista movement's corpse. The gaps between what most national history museums tell you and the reality of a country's politics is the reason you rush out and buy a book like this to fill in the blanks yourself. Romero has produced a book that does extraordinarily well on the undergraduate circle, its constant status as an instant reprint has led to more recent updates to cover the dramatic neo-liberal restructuring under Carlos Menem and the more recent uprisings from 2001 on.

Basically its a dry, academic history of Argentinian presidencies and their economic polices, the complexity of social movements are really only explored when they pierce out of and briefly push aside state hegemony as in the late 1960's and again in the late '80's and 2001. Though for an account of the social movements readers are best pushed off to reading the contemporary accounts the author himself will likely end up relying on for future updates. Romero successfully manages to give the new comer a grounding in the emergence of Argentina as a distinctly European South American city, his coverage of the Juan and Evita Peron movement, which in itself stands as a good basis for moving on to other periods while the corruption within the ruling elites is pleasantly left wide open for consumption.

Wild Swans, Jung Chang
This piece of history from below has probably sat on most book shelves since the mid-1990's, when it first had accolade after accolade thrown on it for its emotional detailing of the lives of three daughters of China. Its brick shaped size has put many off, but don't be afraid. What Chang has managed to do is create a highly engrossing account of three periods in Chinese history, from the period of war lords and Japanese occupation, right through to the civil war between the nationalist Kuomintang and the communists and then the most dramatic period of all under the stewardship of Mao and the cultural revolution.

At its best Wild Swans details the effect different forms of political hegemony had on the internal life world of the Chang family. The most astute renderings are the descriptions of the lives of women during the three periods, from the concubine existence of her grandmother and her struggle against it to her own mothers development as a communist as a slap in the face to the reactionary feudal system and its prescriptions on women. Wild Swans is a fantastic entry point to Chinese history, but the author's bleeding heart eventually becomes tiresome as you realize the gap between her parents sufferings and her own privileges.

My Century, Gunter Grass
There's a name that rings familiar, you associate it with terms like "intellectual tour de-force" or the obscurities of German left-wing writers. A lot is riding on it when you come across one of his books for the first time. My Century is an unusual novel, it rolls through what Eric Hobsbawn called "the century of extremes" in a series of personal tales told by 100 different voices for 100 different years. The years of the Great War are recalled by the hunched over authors of several war classics from a perch of four decades later, while the twenties and thirties are marked by the social crisis of German society between the struggling forces of Communism and the fascist response to working class organization.

Overall as this landslide of voices tumble down around you Grass presents a multi-faceted, overview of the complex questions that feed into the construction of contemporary German national identity which dominates the novel from the 1960's on and emerges strongly again in the era of re-unifaction. To be honest, that Grass received the 1999 Noble Prize for literature for this novel says more about the pre-millennial love for count downs than his writing talent.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Memories of the 'Dirty War' Reawakened in Argentina

The disappearance of Julio Lopez, an aging former political prisoner and important state witness in the trial of a former police investigator found guilty of human rights abuses electrified the social movement in Argentina back in November. Despite mobilisations and the appearance of graffiti demanding action from the Kirchner government all over the capital, there are now further hints of present day dirty tactics by police connected to the former dictatership. On the same day that Spain resolved to arrest former police officer and alleged death squad leader Rodolfo Almiro, a second disappeared witness in trials against military officers - Luis Angel Gerez - suddenly reappeared. This reappearance comes amidst widespread claims that hundreds of threats have been made against human rights and social movement activists in the capital and across the country, as usual has the latest...

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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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