Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Global Rich

One more thing: In the wake of the tsunamis in southeast asia, it's unlikely we need much else to remind us how freaking good we've got it, but here's one anyway: Pop over to Global Rich List and type in your income to find out HOW MANY PEOPLE are poorer than you. It's a lot. I promise. No, f'real. Like, a TON.

Oops, I Downloaded a Mix

By the way, if you want some music to twirl around to this New Year's Eve, there's some fine stuff up at Bassnation - check the Xmas mix from Dr. Wo (recommended by the finest dance-music writer around, Simon Reynolds), and a couple of mighty reggae things, all well worth it!

Ter'rists Syndrome

If you haven't read Jonathon Raban's The Truth About Terrorism in the New York Review of Books, it's time to waltz right over and do so now. Is Al-Qaeda a brilliantly organized international network of jihadists, or a SPECTRE or COBRA invented by neo-cons to further their post-cold war needs? Is terror the number one threat to American livelihood, to life and liberty, or simply to democracy itself? Nope, nope, nope, of course nothing's that easy - sigh. But Raban's article is one of the few things you'll read that will leave you thinking that maybe - just maybe - there's actually something we can DO, if our leaders would listen to the right people, other than just panic.

After all, in Michael Shapiro's A Sense of Place book, a series of interviews with (for my immediate want of a better term) travel writers, Raban's take on American Middle East policymaking is the most sensible yet:

... the Arabian Peninsula is probably the most memorious place in the world.
It's where ancient events still rankle ... I get into a cab anywhere on the
Arabian peninsula and the cab driver trying to suss up my position will say
"What do you think of Sykes-Picot?" Or, "What do you think of the Balfour
Declaration?" These events are recent. It's as if history all takes place in one
awful moment as far as most Arabs are concerned.

Raban points out in that interview that the borders American policymakers ignore are those of language, and psycho-history, waging war and occupation on these people as thought they were hyper-rational Washingtonian suburbanites rather than the current inheritors of a millenia-old culture... yikes.

Don't Panic, is all I can say. The Shaun of the Dead DVD is out, and on the excellent commentary by the writers and director, they reference the new Hitchhikers movie repeatedly, since so many of their peoples are involved in it. Fan-freakin-tastic, as far as I can see. Check out the cast: Martin Freeman (Tim on The Office) as Arthur Dent, Mos Def as Ford, Sam Rockwell will be the PERFECT Zaphod, Bill Nighy IS Slartibartfast ... I know, this is incredibly geeky, but hell - it's exciting to see someone get their casting right instead of, say, plopping Keanu in. Plus, a fewof old-timers from the TV and BBC Radio series (Simon Jones, who played Arthur Dent, for example) are rockin that shtuff. Lovin' it.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Going to Hell

Jaysis, thank goodness that Xmas thing's over. I don't think my liver can take much more.

Good times, though, good times indeed, with all the peoples back in town for Drankin', loads of good food, and some fine results in the world of sport - which gets much more important as the days become depressingly short and the outside world more and more oppressively cold. Brighton & Hove Albion, Liverpool, and the Steelers all won this weekend - best of all the boys in black'n'gold'n'at, with the playoff picture looking (knock on wood) rosy.

Bad news came, too: Constantine comes out in February, a film I had not heard about before, but am now hellbent on somehow destroying... this is the film version of the fine Hellblazer comics, starring the idiotic Keanu Reeves as John Constantine. Yeah. Keanu as the gruff-n-tuff Silk Cut-chain-smoking, pint heaving, cancerous cockney supernatural detective type fella. Roight. This ought to be loverly.

For far better Hellblazer-related news, John Constantine creator Alan Moore has recently interviewed Brian Eno for the BBC, according to City of Sound, so that's bound to be fascinating. If ya can find the interview itself in MP3, lemme know!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Godin ya, son

Lotsa good stuff in the old Guardian Arts section this week - profile of Bobby Friction & Nihal, BBC radio's Asian overground DJ duo; a review of the recently-late Dave Godin's latest Deep Soul Treasures compilation, which serves, according to the review, as his fitting epitaph; and a cool piece on The Most Beautiful [record] Sleeves of 2004 (or go straight to the photos here).

Hadn't really thought before about the proximity of Dave Godin's and John Peel's deaths, but really, there could hardly be anyone whose lives in music have effected my personal tastes more than those two. Peel, of course, for those late night weekend gatherings at Raia Pixton's house, fawning over the few Peel Session EPs she had stacked on the shelf (Siouxsie, Joy Division), and all the intrigue that they held. It's rare that something - especially a rock music something - can remind me of that feeling of intensity, of a completely welcomed yet unknown world, that the artists of those initial Peel Session exposures exploded. I never really liked Siouxsie, but I still get all stomach-churny when I learn something new about her; Joy Division still makes me feel the romanticism of a whole world that is so elementally distant yet completely correct.

It still happens of course: The only other true explosion of musical-cultural passion like that for me was northern soul. Dave Godin didn't just give it its name, he might as well have fathered it, turning Tamla Motown out on the UK, giving little bored kids in Wolverhampton and Wigan and other horrible places I never want to go that start with W, something equally mythological: Black American music. I can hardly conceive of what it was like in the 1960s to be a young Brit, wartime parents still growing victory gardens, and hear the downtrodden-yet-hedonistic joy of the Supremes or Vandellas or Miracles - imagine "Going to a Go-Go" when your biggest night out is a round of bitter a block away? But I bet it's something akin to hearing New Order in Binghamton, NY, when your previous exposure to modern non-radio music was Rush. Only bigger.

Northern soul was equally big for me: All the blow-up of Anglophilia combined with the frantic passion of black U.S. soul music - give me all of it. And like all the best personal experiences with music, it's taken me everywhere else: Every dance music I like is informed by the history and the sound of northern, from Metro Area to disco to Fatboy Slim to funk.

So thanks, Dave and John, for everything. A couple of eccentric - perhaps even weird - chaps with insatiable musical passions opening doors for other people. May there be more like you, and it diminishes you not to guess that there will.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

On the Blog

Blogging revives in me the same feeling as college radio: That thought (knowledge?) that no one is listening, and the refreshing, downright liberating realization that it just simply doesn't matter at all.

In other words, there was a lapse in blog-confidence there for a minute, since I haven't even told anyone the address so no one even COULD be reading. Interest rekindled, I'll trundle on with transcribing/embellishing some of my journal-notes-crap from the past weekend in Las Vegas asap. Then maybe I'll go about telling someone to read it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Seagulls Ska Update

Woah - a few weeks out, and Attila the Stockbroker's Seagulls Ska campaign is #2 in the Amazon pre-release sales chart... So order up now, eh?

Pamplona Without Hemingway

Forty-eight hours to Vegas, and all talk has reverted back to Stetsons and rebel-flag belt buckles. Reporting in from Sin City, where he's already a few sessions in at the National Finals Rodeo, Brew demands that, "No, seriously dude, you'll feel SO STUPID if you don't have a cowboy hat. The chicks all have 'em, dude - the BABIES have cowboy hats ..."

Fortunately I just started Iain Sinclair's London Orbital, which includes the following juicy little bit:

There's always a warm glow in not belonging, in being the only abstainer at a fleadh in Ballycastle, the only non-Iberian bull-runner in Pomplona who
hasn't read Hemingway; it means you're not responsible. You don't have
to enjoy yourself. It's not part of the contract to become one with the spirit
of place. You are not obliged to spew, fight, sing, dance, wreck your car or in
any other way amuse yourself. And this is very liberating.

So to hell with the cowboy hat and belt buckle; the goddamn rodeo can survive the encroachment of a single skinny white city boy with the whole city-boy nine yards: Clarks, cords, Harrington, Perry. I don't think that 150 years of Western lore are going to be ruined by that any more than they'll be erased by the advent of TV advertising boards, $50,000 pickup trucks, big-hat country singers or the pink shirt.

Speaking of travel, big news out of the Post-Gazette today: Thank god we've finally got a proper way to get from Pittsburgh to Myrtle Beach. The Johnsons Big Band's now-annual expedition to the beach in 2005 will benefit greatly.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Seagulls Ska

In his infinite wisdom, esteemed Brighton stadium announcer, radical ranting poet and general punk-of-all-trades Attila the Stockbroker has joined forces with other Brighton-based influentials (such as ska boys Too Many Crooks) to release a record in aid of Albion's bid for a new stadium. It's ska, it's footie, it's political, and it hates Crystal Palace. Sigh.

The record comes out first week of January, and Sussex Ska (as the band is called) is hoping to make a bid for the top-10, since nobody else releases records then and you don't need that many pre-sales to get into the charts. Here's where you can pre-order through HMV - dunno how that works for we Yanks, but hopefully just cuz we're Queen-less (though not despot-less) doesn't mean our sales don't count for the charts.

If We Get Through for Two Minutes Only, It Will Be A Start!

I've always been a big ole geek, but somehow the computer part - the useful part - of geekiness eludes me. So that's why it took 'til 12/04 for me to start a blog. You'd think, with the compulsive onanistic talking and self-argument, it'd be a natural. I guess we'll see.

I'll leave the TEST message up there, because Australian wines are important - no other wines come with such toughness of bottle and fortitude of fight. Plus, the Ozzies have come up with the year's greatest advance in cell phone technology - the first drunk-specific cell phone advance that I know of.

Friday, December 03, 2004


A test of the emergency blog network - these are the days of fortitude and Australian wine.

Test in Ital

Test in Bold

Link to Johnsons