Yoga came to the West from India, in bits and pieces from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. From the 1960’s to about ten years ago, the only people teaching yoga were more or less hippies. Teachers who emphasized the spiritual aspect of the practice and taught small classes made up of a ragtag assortment of humans beings. Grandmas, new moms, pregnant moms, college students and athletes getting over injuries, wearing loose fitting clothing that resembles nothing like the yoga bras and tight, wedgie-inducing Yoga Tart pants on offer today. Somewhere along the way over the past twenty years the fitness industry and corporations got ahold of yoga (I won’t even go into the whole Pilates fad) and turned it into just another way to get fit. Oh, and look HOT.
Yoga is supposed to be much more than that. In 1997-98 the most sought after yoga teachers were from Golden Bridge in L.A. They were Western Sikh followers of Yogi Bhajan, wore extremely modest clothing and their long hair was tucked up in a white turban. The stars of this yoga school were Gurmukh, who taught prenatal yoga and also helped more than a few people stay sober through yoga, and Gurutej Kaur. Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers was one of Gurmukh’s students. A punk singer and music producer from the Midwest reinvented himself as a yogi named Mahan. They didn’t preach Sikhism, but there was a definite spiritual emphasis, with talk of meditation, chakras, energy, auric fields, and the like. It was cheerful and comforting.
Then came power yoga, Bikram yoga (hot yoga), and provocative yoga, complete with porn soundtrack. Now the women demonstrating yoga positions in magazines (even Yoga Journal) or videos look like (usually white) gymnists. Or like lingerie models. There isn’t anything about your soul, centering, meditation, union of body, mind and spirit, or communion with the divine. But they make damn sure to use the impressively long original Indian names for every single pose in a stab of authenticity, which gets lost among all the accessories you’re suddenly supposed to have, like “yoga bricks” and special “Toesox” socks.
Kate Potter’s soothing yoga show, Namaste Yoga, once shown on Canadian televison and the cable channel FitTV, used to feature women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but all pretty much at the same level of ultra-fitness. I’m not asking for robe-wearing sadhus exclusively, but it would have been nice to see a few bigger ladies included as well. Or Chris Grosso wrote for yoganonymous.com, “Unless I missed the memo, spirituality is not just for pretty, clean cut, white folks who have more money than they know what to do with”
There are authentic sanghas who teach “old school” yoga, but they might not be as easy to find if their message and ads are lost among the flashier teachers. Which leads to the fact that teacher training in some states is laughable. Just because someone has a yoga teaching certification doesn’t mean that they are actually qualified to teach.
Julie J.C. Peters righteously ranted about the sexy Equinox Yoga video in Elephant Journal:
“Yoga advertising has been trying for a while now to make me feel bad about my body so that I get insecure enough to buy whatever they are selling.” You mean not everyone works out in Agent Provocateur underwear?
Although Susan “Stop the Insanity!” Powter produced her own down-to-earth yoga video for all fitness levels, Trailer Park Yoga. This DVD did not receive the advertising push that a video like Equinox Yoga or Provocative Yoga received, and so is therefore an obscure resource for women looking for alternatives.
In her article “Tits and Ass in a Mala,” Portland, Oregon yoga teacher Maya Devi Georg asks, “How about featuring non-sexualized images of young women, or celebrating images of older women, women of color, or men at any age?”:
“This is a call to practitioners and teachers to take responsibility for the practice—not just for themselves but those who will follow us. What does the future of yoga hold in the West? Will it be reduced to corporate ownership, making bad classes better, but making great classes extinct? Will it be ruled by greed, glamour, fads and gimmicks? Or will the word yoga become so overused that the inherent meaning is lost?”
“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…
“You can’t show [Graham Parker] in his prime in ‘77 and then jump straight to him as he is now. It’s terrifying. You have to reverse it. You have got to show him as he is now, very briefly, and then show him in 1977. You have got to ‘Benjamin Button’ it.”
-Ronnie (Chris O’Dowd), This Is 40
Graham Parker, 1977
One of the hints that there may well be a Higher Power in the universe is that Graham Parker and The Rumour (Bob Andrews on keyboards, Martin Belmont on guitar, Steve Goulding on drums, Andrew Bodnar on bass, and Brinsley Schwarz – yes, that Brinsley Schwarz – on guitar) reunited in 2011 after 30 years apart. Another hint is that Graham and The Rumour were also asked to appear in Judd Apatow’s This Is 40 the following year.
Graham Parker is one of the most unfairly overlooked singer-songwriters of the past thirty or so years. He has released a solid catalog of consistently wonderful albums since his debut with Howlin’ Wind in 1975 up to his most recent release with the reformed Rumour, Three Chords Good. His sound has been described as blue-eyed soul, pub rock (does anyone still say “pub rock”?), and now it’s classic rock.
Unlike many of his peers who, let’s face it, sound like a bottle of Old Granddad and a carton of Marlboro Reds away from esophageal cancer, Graham Parker’s voice just gets better every year. At the very least, he deserves a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which he would turn down), unlimited wealth, 72 virgins, a paradisaical garden, flowing wine… everything. Right now.
Parker has been compared to songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Bragg, as well as performers like Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. These comparisons are somewhat misleading, not to mention irritating as hell. His debut album was released the year before Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True, so how can he be accused of ripping that off? This was a topic once hotly debated in a crowded ladies’ room at a bar in the Oregon District in Dayton, Ohio, due to the fact that one of the women had a tattoo of the first measure of Elvis Costello’s album Imperial Bedroom. At one point someone was heard to yell, “If anyone’s songs deserve a tattoo, it’s Graham fucking Parker!” (I wasn’t even drunk.)
The Graham Parker album most people are probably familiar with is Squeezing Out Sparks, his 1979 release with The Rumour still as his backing band and his best-selling album (so far). Sparks, released in a milieu of punk, synth-pop, and New Wave, ranks #335 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (Parker’s only Top 40 US single (so far) was “Wake Up (Next to You)” in 1985).
Parker’s dark humor and wit are extremely sharp, which strikes some listeners as bitter or snide. One of his compilation albums is appropriately called Piss and Vinegar. Graham Parker’s wordplay is delightful, and admittedly his subject matter is quirky, but closer to Robyn Hitchcock’s quirkiness than, say, Voltaire’s. He has written songs about breastfeeding (“Milk Train”), murdered clowns (“They Murdered the Clown”), atheism (“The End of Faith”), corruption of religion (“Syphilis and Religion,” “Break Them Down”), shitty record labels (“Mercury Poisoning”), alcoholism (“Three Martini Lunch”), abortion (“You Can’t Be Too Strong,” “Coathangers”), the origin of AIDS (“Green Monkeys”), the irrelevance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (“Museum Piece”, “Obsessed with Aretha”), aging (“Did Everybody Just Get Old?”), blue-collar America (“Cheap Chipped Black Nails,” “Impenetrable”), UFO’s (“Waiting for the UFO’s”), Internet porn (“Search Engine”), and one of the very first protest songs soon after the the war began in Iraq (“2000 Funerals”).
He’s also got a fine cache of heartbreakingly honest, self-deprecating love songs (“I’m Just Your Man,” “Village Idiot,” “Partner for Life,” “Mr. Tender”).
Unfortunately the high quality of his Graham Parker’s work hasn’t resulted in corresponding high sales. “There are all these kind of incredible artists who keep making records but they’re not Rhianna at the point,” director Judd Apatow said in late 2012. “But they just do amazing work and they go their own way. A guy like Graham, he doesn’t care about everyone’s opinion or taste, he’s speaking from his heart and making his music.”
The reunion of The Rumour was a surprising gift. After all, people have been nagging Parker about the possibility of working with all of them again, since Brinsley Schwarz and Andrew Bodnar have both played on some of his albums. The reunion was not as earth-shattering an event as it should have been, but Parker’s cameo appearance in This Is 40 as a silly caricature of an aging gout-stricken rocker in ludicrous old man clothes was hilarious.
Alan McGee has been in touch with Dangerous Minds to give an exclusive update on his new record label 359 Music.
Less than a month since he launched 359, Alan has received an incredible range of music demos from unsigned musicians and bands.
‘It’s been very good,’ says McGee, ‘I’ve had over 2,000 MP3s to listen to, and I have still about 600-hundred-odd to go. So, for anybody reading this, I will be getting back to you.
‘There’s a lot of good stuff and at least, 15 very good things I’ve found from people sending in their MP3s, which is pretty fucking incredible—considering I expected to find only about 1-or-2.
‘What’s really good is the range of the music. I expected to get 2,000 bands all trying to be like the Gallaghers, but that is not the case—it’s all over-the-shop.’
While the initial response was high, Alan noticed there were very few demos from female musicians. Therefore, he posted a further request specifically asking for more women to send in their music.
‘We put out the YouTube clip asking for more girls to send in music, because it was all blokes sending in stuff. After that post, we received about 300 girl bands out of the next 500 that were sent in and the standard of music was very high.
‘Overall, the music has been incredible. There’s a lot of stuff I hadn’t expected, especially from people who have been ignored by the system.
‘I suppose if anything, 359 is a launch pad for people. Whether they stay with us or not isn’t important—if they do, they do, if they don’t, they don’t. We are essentially a launch pad to give people a shot at it, a chance to show what they can do.
‘There is no label sound, which will become apparent after about a year-and-a-half-to-2-years. The last thing I wanted to do was create Creation Records Part 2.
‘359 is more for people who are into music. It’s more of an attitude, you know? It’s like a vibration that draws you in, do you know what I mean? Music is a vibration, it’s like why do we all love “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk? It’s because it vibrates within us and makes us feel good.
‘I’m not saying we’re going to have the next Daft Punk, but maybe one day. Musically the label is going to be all-over-the place, because it will be about creating moods, creating music that is good, and I think this will become apparent after we’ve released about 15-20 albums or so.’
359 is a partnership between Alan McGee and Iain McNay, the chairman of Cherry Red Records.
‘I think Iain is the best person to be doing this with. I mean Iain is just fucking cool. Any guy that can deal with me saying, “I’m never come to your office ever again. I’m never going to come to a marketing meeting. I am never going to go to a gig in London. And I am never going to go to an awards ceremony. As long as you can deal with me on that basis, then we’re partners.” And we are.
‘We could have gone with a Japanese major, with a 6-figure salary, but you know what, I’ve gone with Iain and it’s like, half the company, no wage, and I don’t think I could get a better deal. Can you imagine turning round to Warners Japan and saying, “I’m never going to come to a marketing meeting. I’m never going to come to your office. I’m never going to go to a gig in London, and I’m never going to go to an awards ceremony.” They would stop before I finished my first sentence!
‘Iain is the only person in the music business who can put up with my fucking demands on that! Everyone else would go, “Go fuck yourself!” But Iain can put up with that.’
‘The best thing I ever did was going away for 5-years. Where I live is completely spiritual. I can sit in my room, look at the Black Mountains, and I can just decide should I or should I not go and do this or go and do that? I find in London that everything is like a bum rush every single time. It’s just too much.
‘I think I’m averse to London. It eats your fucking soul. It’s not people’s fault, it’s just there’s no spirituality in London. There may be creativity, but there’s no spirituality. People are on the bread-line, and they’re just used up as a resource. People just end up using each other, you know, eating each other, it’s a kind of cannibalism. It freaks me out. All I ever want to do in London is get in and get the fuck out of it.
‘With the technology now, it means you can run everything from home. I’ve got a book coming out, I’ve got a record company, a publishing company and 2-films all coming out, and I’m running it from my fucking bedroom in Wales.
‘The bottom-line is: if I can do it on a Blackberry and a computer, any fucker can do it—because I’m not that bright. You’ve got to have the confidence, but once you go after it and do it, then you realize you can do it.’
Alan also mentioned that his first film as producer, Kubricks, written and directed by Dean Cavanagh will having a special screening in Leeds this month.
‘It’s just for friends and family, but we have a plan to show it in New York, and we have a distribution deal for Europe on the table, which we’re probably going to do.’