I shit you not. Apparently the G8 leaders and their entourages are such delicate flowers that they can’t bear to see the effect of the global recession on the towns they drive through, such as upcoming host Enniskillen in Northern Ireland.
Local councils in Northern Ireland have painted fake shop fronts and covered derelict buildings with huge billboards to hide the economic hardship being felt in towns and villages near the golf resort where G8 leaders will meet this month.
Northern Ireland’s government has spent £2m (€2.3m) tackling dereliction over the past two years, the environment department said. Some buildings have been demolished and others have been given a facelift in an attempt to make areas more attractive.
Almost a quarter of “dereliction funds” were freed up for local councillors in Co Fermanagh in anticipation of Britain hosting the annual Group of Eight leaders’ summit there on 17-18 June. More than 100 properties have been spruced up. In the one-street town of Belcoo, the changes are merely cosmetic.
At a former butcher’s shop, stickers applied to the windows show a packed meat counter and give the impression that business is booming. Across the street, another empty unit has been given a makeover to look like a thriving office supply shop.
Locals are unimpressed. “The shop fronts are cosmetic surgery for serious wounds. They are looking after the banks instead of saving good businesses,” said Kevin Maguire, 62, an unemployed man who has lived all his life in Belcoo.
“The purpose of my writing is to expose and arrest Nova Criminals.”
― William S. Burroughs, Nova Express
In the mid-1970s, William Burroughs wrote a monthly column for the rock magazine Crawdaddy called “Time of the Assassins” (which he got from a line of Rimbaud’s “Voici le temps des Assassins”).
Evocative, isn’t it? The “Time of the Assassins.” It has such a nice ring to it.
That we may soon be (or already are) living in an age that would require assassins struck me last week as I was watching the controversial statements made by former Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (today he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nestlé S.A.) who said that water should be valued like any other commodity. Brabek’s comments were made in a 2005 documentary, We Feed the World, and are today, eight years later, being scrutinized in horror and exchanged feverishly by lefties on social media. As a result, Brabek’s been on the receiving end of quite a lot of stick on Facebook and Twitter, and not without some justification, if you ask me.
Brabeck’s flawed “free market” remarks betray such a peculiarly evil “logic” that only an extremely wealthy man, far, far removed from the rest of humanity, could have conceived of it:
My name is Peter Brabeck. I’m from Villach in Carinthia. And for the past 7-years I’ve been head of the Nestlé Group, the largest foodstuff corporation in the world, with a turnover of around 90 billion Swiss francs or around $65 billion, and with around 275,000 employees working directly for us. So, it’s quite a large ship. We’re the twenty-seventh largest company in the world.
Today, people believe that everything that comes from Nature is good. That represents a huge change because until recently, we always learnt that Nature could be pitiless. Man is now in the position of being able to provide some balance to Nature, but in spite of this, we have something approaching a shibboleth that everything that comes from Nature is good. A very good example is the organic movement. Organic is now best. But organic is not best.
After 15-years of eating GM food products in the USA, not one single case of illness has occurred from eating them to date. And in spite of this, we’re all so uneasy about it in Europe that something might happen to us. It’s hypocrisy more than anything else.
Ah yes, if you overlook what that benevolent gangsta Monsanto is doing to the soil and the water in much of the country and the fact that our vegetables have mere fractions of the nutrients they used to (like apples and spinach), then, yeah, I see his point. LOL.
There’s that lovely old Austrian folk song: “The dear cattle need water, hollera, holleri,” if you remember. Water is of course the most important raw material we have today in the world. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter.
The one opinion which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.
It’s an extreme position to expect… water? Wait, wait, come on, let’s let the man who is the Chairman of the world’s largest multinational manufacturer of bottled water define his terms, before we lay into him, shall we:
And the other view says that water is a foodstuff like any other and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value. Personally, I believe it’s better to give foodstuff a value, so that we’re all aware that it has a price, and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water and there are many different possibilities there.
Okay, folks, I’ve heard enough, go ahead get your knives out for this bastard.
And if that wasn’t bad enough already, then he really goes off into the stratosphere:
I’m still of the opinion that the biggest social responsibility of any CEO is to maintain and ensure the successful and profitable future of his enterprise. For only if we can ensure our continued long term existence will we be in the position to actively participate in the solution of the problems that exist in the world.
What.The.Fuck.Is.This.Guy.Talking.About? The obesity or diabetes epidemics he’s done his part for, perchance? Brabeck-Letmathe helmed goddamned Nestlé for seven years! It’s the largest foodstuff corporation in the entire world and just look at what their over-packaged, corn syrup-heavy product lines consist of! Nestlé, the corporation that ran a massive advertising campaign in Africa discouraging breast feeding and then sold African mothers powdered milk, which they diluted with dirty water resulting in the deaths of literally millions of infants? (The UN had to get involved!) Nestlé the corporation that turns a blind eye to child labor practices… That Nestlé?
I’d trust Peter Brabeck—who started working for the corporation in 1968 and was the 2007 recipient of a “Black Planet” award given for destroying the environment, monopolizing water resources and tolerating child labor—and Nestlé‘s shareholders with the water supply of a Third World nation like I’d trust a fuckin’ coyote to keep an eye on my Chihuahua. A Russian hacker with all my online banking passwords. A famished shark with my good luck ham.... (Sorry, I think I got carried away there).
First it will be some country we’ve never heard of and will never visit in our lives. Next thing you know, a Republican governor will be proposing to privatize the water supply in a southern state… because, you know, the freemarket is more efficient than the private sector or perhaps just because a Swiss multinational food company donated a shit-ton of money to his campaign ....
We’re in the position of being able to create jobs: 275,000 here, 1.2 million who are directly dependent on us in principle. That makes around 4.5 million people in total—because behind each of our employees are another 3 people, so we have at least 4.5 million people who are directly dependent on us.
Because the world needs moar Kit-Kats! The idea that the notoriously predatory Nestlé is somehow “a part” of the solution to poverty at this advanced stage of capitalism’s life cycle is surrealism at its best. Brabek’s like a caricature of a crazed Bilderberger. I half-expect him to goosestep around wearing a paper Burger King crown and tissue boxes on his feet in his private moments. He is Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, incarnate. Ah Pook is here!
The part of the video clip that has nothing to do with privatizing water is actually the best bit, in terms of the off-the-scale absurdity of this privileged man’s blinkered 1% vantage point.. on the “little people”:
If you want to create work, you have to work yourself, not as it was in the past, where existing work was distributed. If you remember the main argument for the 35-hour-week was that there would be a certain amount of work and it would be better if we worked less and distributed the work amongst more people. That has proved quite clearly to be wrong. If you want to create more work you have to work more yourself. And with that we’ve got to create a positive image of the world for people, and I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be positive about the future. We’ve never had it so good, we’ve never had so much money, we’ve never been so healthy, we’ve never lived as long as we do today. We have everything we want, and still we go around as if we were in mourning for something.
The Japanese. You can see how modern those factories are; highly robotized, almost no people.
(Shakes head) You get the picture. I present to you, solely on the basis that he spoke these words (which he ostensibly seems to believe), that the man is a criminally insane psychopathic wanker. He has the worldview of a sociopath top executive of a large multinational, which of course, he is. If Peter Brabek were willing to share his nine million euros a year salary with some of Nestlé‘s rank and file workers in Bangladesh, I’ll bet they’d be JUST FINE with with cutting back their work week and spending more quality time with their kids instead of slaving in sub-human working conditions to make Hot Pockets that’ll be bought on a credit card at Wal-Mart by a morbidly obese couch potato living in Georgia… Just sayin’...
Naturally, seeing the consternation his words have unleashed, Brabeck tried to back-peddle furiously, limiting the damage that his 2005 remarks have caused in an essay that he (or more than likely a PR flunky at Nestlé) wrote for Huffington Post (Whose side are they on, anyway? Brabeck or humanity’s?)
At its heart, though, is still the kernel of the idea that it’s a good idea to put a price tag on water:
I do need to correct a misconception that has fueled a lot of the criticism on Facebook and elsewhere.
I do not deny that clean and safe water to drink or for basic hygiene is a human right. Of course it is.
However, I do not think it is right that some people in the world do not have access to a clean, safe supply when others can use excess amounts for non-essential purposes without bearing a fairer cost for the infrastructure needed to supply it.
When we give water a value, we use it more carefully, and this does not mean privatization.
Sounds almost high-minded, don’t it? I love this part, too:
Why does a company like Nestlé care about this?
Our consumers need access to clean, safe water and decent sanitation, wherever they are in the world, as do our hundreds of thousands of employees, their families and friends. As a good global citizen, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution.
And to skim a little off the top and then eventually skim a lot off the top... Hey, that’s capitalism, baby! The first sip is free!
Which brings us full circle back to William Burroughs: In The Naked Lunch, the author laid out a nightmarish vision of an out-of-control, planet-destroying consumer culture addicted to that which will most certainly kill it, with the metaphor of a junkie hooked on, and controlled by his metabolic need for heroin.
As Burroughs wrote to Jack Kerouac:
“The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”
“The little people” are what will be on the end of Nestlé‘s fork if elitist viewpoints like Peter Brabek’s hold sway over public debate. It’s an idea that should be stomped out with extreme mob violence, if you ask me. Eliminated from the conversation.
I think it’s fair to say that 100% of the human race is “addicted” to water and this is why, when I listened to what Herr Brabeck had to say, I thought of William Burroughs and wondered, if he were alive, what he would make of all this.
What chance does the human race have with enemies of Earth like this, when vast monied interests and multinationals start to have designs on our drinking water?
Well, as I pointed out, every summer is rightly the summer of disco. Talk of a “disco revival” is irrelevant as disco has never really gone away, but that still doesn’t stop it becoming a media trope ever 2 to 3 years, or every time a major artist, underground or pop, releases music with a distinct disco influence (in this case, Daft Punk.) It’s boring and ill-informed, but then, so is a lot of land-fill media. Still, it pisses me off. My grievance is not so much with Daft Punk themselves, but the machinery that surrounds them (figuratively) and also my belief that Random Access Memories isn’t going to spawn a disco revival, primarily as it’s not actually good enough, but also because disco doesn’t need a revival. But then, what would I know?
Actually, quite a lot. From 2002-2008 I ran a radio show/fanzine/website called Discopia that was dedicated to showcasing modern disco, and disco-influenced dance music sounds. I’ve been an alt-disco/nu-disco/disco-house/post-disco/whatever-disco-head since the mid-Nineties, when I first stumbled across Loose Joint’s cornerstone cut “Is It All Over My Face”, as remixed by Larry Levan. That set me off on a path of digging out the weirder and more obscure forms of disco, and also checking out more modern takes on the same sounds and ideals, a path I reckon I share with many producers and fans of this scene out there.
This is where my real grievance lies: the fact is that disco has been on a constant revival for at least the last ten years, it is a vibrant and thriving underground scene, and it has done it all under the radar of oldstream media. In fact, the MSM only become interested when pushed by a significantly large PR machine, and as we all know PR machines have a agendas to push and a habit of warping facts to suit their narratives.
I’ve seen this revival-meme rear up it’s head at least 3 or 4 times now. It didn’t work before, and it’s not going to work now. Disco is the fundamental bedrock that dance music is based on, its reach is huge and its legacy is deep. Similarly, nu-disco is a massive, sprawling scene, so to try and package it up in an easily consumable “revival” nutshell seems rather pointless. The same would be true for “rock”, “pop” or “dance”. Would anyone take seriously talk of a “reggae revival”? No!
And so, to my “nu-disco” primer. I’m not aiming to do anything definitive here, more point out the various different acts and scenes that have led us to where we are today. To join the dots between the disparate historical pockets of disco love that have sprung up in the last ten-twenty years and to give props to the real originators. To show how diverse and healthy “nu-disco” actually is, and how it’s in no real need of a revival. To point out that Daft Punk aren’t the first to do this, and, in fact, they did all this better years ago. Primarily, though, it’s just an excuse for me to share with you all some really excellent music you might not know.
This is part one of my “Nu-Disco” primer, and will focus mainly on acts from the mid-to-late 90s and the early 00s, essentially the roots of nu-disco, the people who were making disco before it was termed “nu”, and those instrumental in shaping that scene in the early days. Nu-disco heads, I know you’re out there, and I hope I’ve done a good job with this. Your feedback is welcome in the comments.
If there IS going to be a disco revival, THESE are the people who have helped make it happen… [Read on after the jump.]
The record that started it all for me, and I am sure, many others. By pushing the limits of what could be called “disco”, this remix has inspired many producers and DJs to do the same. To this very day, it still sounds fresh and will tear up any sound system it is played on, and being the very zenith of disco production, have shown listeners that it’s a genre worthy of serious respect. It’s a surprise to me how there is absolutely no trace of this track anywhere on Random Access Memories:
Loose Joints “Is It All Over My Face (Larry Levan Female Vocal Mix)”
After the jump: Black Cock Records, Balihu Records, Nuphonic Records, Idjut Boys, Faze Action, Metro Area, Super Discount, Dimitri From Paris, I-F, Strut Records, Soul Jazz Records, and, yes, even Daft Punk…
There is a new species of stringed instrument, invented by master luthier Neal Moser. It looks somewhat like a large twelve-stringed mandolin with an odd shape. Ever heard of an Interlooud?
Not many people have. At the moment there is only one on the planet. Neal Moser makes customized guitars and basses by hand in his workshop in Arizona, where he also teaches small classes on building guitars. He took a traditional Spanish instrument, did some Dr. Frankenstein tinkering, and engineered a whole new creation. Here is his description of how the Interlooud came to be:
“A friend of mine named Mike Amatin who lives in Kagel Canyon, where I live, came to me with what he called a LaOud that he purchased in Spain. Many of the acoustic instruments from that part of the world are very cool but not built very well and leave a lot to be desired in the playability department. His was no exception.
So I pulled the frets, planed a slight back bow into the fingerboard and then pounded in new frets. This was definitely an educated guess operation. There’s no way of knowing exactly how much tension 12 strings will put on a short little neck. It also started with a forward bow. I got lucky, when the strings were put back on and it was tuned up, the neck was straight as an arrow.
Mike took the instrument home and played it for a while. Then one day he called me and said he liked it so much that he wondered if it could be made into an electric. I thought about it for a while and then decided to build one.
This is what I got myself into: I decided to modify the tear drop body shape by adding a cut for your leg so you could play it sitting down. That wasn’t a problem. The problem was that no one makes a LaOud fingerboard or truss rod. In fact the original doesn’t even have a truss rod. So, I had to take a regular dual action StewMac truss rod and cut it, rethread it and braze it back together. Next, I took a 25 ½ inch scale fingerboard and lined it up against the original LaOud’s finger board. I slid it back and forth until the frets lined up as close as possible, then cut it off at the proper points. Now I had a truss rod and finger board. The rest of the building process was pretty basic for a set neck guitar. Everything was just shorter.
This instrument records well and makes for some interesting lead sounds. It will also draw a crowd.”
Children’s television can be absolutely unbearable if you’re not actually a child. Luckily, the smart shows know this and throw you a bone every once in a while.
The BBC’s Horrible Histories recently decided to teach the kiddies about the life of Charles Dickens with a decidedly Smiths-vibe, and it’s an eerily accurate impression. Despite his reputation for being a bit humorless, I hope Moz would get a kick out of this one—I mean, it’s totally funny, and it’s for the kids!
I hadn’t realized, until seeing this 1954 PSA The House In the Middle, that the possibility of nuclear apocalypse was apparently welcomed as an opportunity to bolster American housekeeping. “A house that’s neglected,” it explains, “is the house that may be doomed, in the atomic age.” No surprise then, is there, that the film was sponsored by the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association?
“In the house on the right are all the hallmarks of untidy housekeeping—newspapers and magazines lying about. And cluttered tables. Now the house on the left is identical to the other but spic and span. Trash has been thrown away. Tabletops are tidy. Two homes, one a firetrap, even under ordinary conditions, the other cleaned up and fresh with better, safer housekeeping, both ready for the test bomb.”
Guess how they fare in the blast..?
It really does appear, watching this, that there was a Fifties effort to slyly substitute God with the atom bomb—and use the latter’s constant shadow to enforce almost Victorian values, as if a nuclear blast could be counted on to perform a kind of reverse rapture, ripping the sinful from the face of the earth (presuming that those who like to play it fast and loose with old newspapers and magazines could be described as “sinful”), and leaving behind, if not the good, then the irreproachably anally retentive, who would surely know the very zenith of schadenfreude when their neighbors were incinerated upon the sword of their own slovenliness!
Not entirely sure if this dude just loves his Brenda or if it’s a very unhealthy obsession with her? Perhaps he’s dated a whole lot of women named Brenda? So many burning questions and theories regarding this, er, disturbing (or else very sweet!) tattoo.
In 1970, Egyptian-born Israeli filmmaker Moshe Mizrahi directed Les Stances A Sophie, a groovy, post May ‘68 film which featured not only the music of The Art Ensemble of Chicago, but the band itself in several scenes. The film had apparently gone almost unseen since its original release and, until its DVD-itization by Soul Jazz in 2008, had never been released outside of France.
The Art Ensemble soundtrack album of Les Stances A Sophie has never been all that easy to get either, but it’s worth the import price.
Above, the big Art Ensemble of Chicago scene with them playing “Theme de Celine”
“Theme de Yoyo” (the soundtrack heard the clip above), isn’t just a raging avant-monster, it features the powerful vocals of Fontella Bass, who was not only Art Ensemble trumpeteer Lester Bowie’s wife, but the writer and singer of the soul classic “Rescue Me.”