George & Gertrude – Why British Gas Was Right To Murder Them

“The discovery of two pensioners who died weeks after their gas supply was cut off because of an unpaid bill of ?140 led a coroner to call for a review of the law yesterday.

George Bates, 89, and his wife Gertrude, 86, were found on 18 October in the living room of the house they had lived in for 63 years after a neighbour called the police.”(Source: The Independent)

I’ve just watched the news reports where a vox pop had people complaining bitterly about British Gas’ actions. They said it was immoral for BG to cut off these elderly and apparently confused pensioners.

Filthy Communist nonsense!

We should be applauding British Gas’ sterling support of capitalist principles.

What matters more than profit – NOTHING!

Anyone that implies that old people who have managed to live through two world wars deserve some kind of special treatment is obviously a bleeding heart liberal.

Who cares if George and Gertrude were at risk – British Gas have profits to make. Those vastly entertaining adverts featuring Ricky Tomlinson don’t come free, y’know! And the directors must have those large salaries and thick carpets in their boardrooms. Don’t want their sensitive tootsies to get cold, do we?

This is the GLORY of capitalism – it’s the perfect way to manage the allocation of limited resources, based around the market system.

If old people haven’t enough money to pay (or have, like George & Gertrude but are too confused to realise it) then let them freeze to death! Anyone who disagrees with that is a utopian socialist, a rank fool!

So let’s hear it for British Gas, that ?140 was well worth killing two old people for. I think they should win the award for Capitalists Of The Year.

I await the no-doubt hilarious British Gas Xmas adverts featuring Ricky Tomlinson cavorting with the corpses of other old people BG have cut off.

Merry Christmas everyone, God bless us everyone!

Why You Should Be A Laptop DJ (and how to do it)

Why you should be a laptop DJ and how to do it

UPDATE! Screen grab from 24/9/08, please see end of post!

(This article was originally written in 2003, update at the end!)

It’s 3.33am. I should be asleep, tucked up and dreaming of Crimbo pressies.

But I’m still up and wired from DJing, which I got back from three hours ago.

Like most DJs, I started off as a kid by taking records to parties. I was the fat geek at school, I loved music and so had loads of 12″s and stuff I nicked off my big sister. I remember I even used to take my tape player in every day to Woodlands and play it in the Pen (our playground). Music always meant more to me than football. More than anything, apart from girls.

I first started doing paid DJing in around 1987. Just some parties for mates and other one-off events. Eventually, this lead to club DJing and that’s how I became a Superstar DJ, hanging with Seb Fontaine and Judge Jules down Fabric before getting jazzed up on cake in the bogs.

Okay, maybe not.

Y’see, I’ve always done alternative DJing. By which I mean that I most enjoy playing music that people haven’t heard before. I have DJed mainstream Saturday nights but that’s not such a thrill for me. I’d say it’s equivalent to the difference between working as a chef in a fine restaurant or slapping a Big Mac on a tray.

Don’t get me wrong: I love pop music. I just have a broader definition of it than most people. Pop music is anything I like a lot. It’s a radically hypersubjective genre. Yes, the Beatles and The Darkness are both great pop bands. But so are Venetian Snares and Komeda. It doesn’t matter whatever sub-genre an artist works within, pop is the best of that genre.

Sooo…. you don’t actually make much money by playing less well-known music. The big money is in giving people exactly what they want. No surprises, no difficult bits. No light and shade. Tabloid DJing. That’s why there aren’t any superstar alternative DJs: they’d clear the floor by sticking on The Red Army Choir and then get the sack. Anyway, I’m rambling as usual…

I think everyone should be a DJ

Music is too important to be left in the hands of a powerful minority. I’d love to see that change, to see DJing become a much more common occupation. Instead of background CDs in pubs, that could be a DJ, actually reading the punters and playing stuff that would enhance the evening.

The main thing that prevented this in the past was money. It simply cost too much for the average person to get a set of decks, mixer, flightcases and adequate transport for this volume of paraphenalia. And that’s hoping the venue supplies a proper PA.

That’s why you should be a laptop DJ.

Forget vinyl. Unless you’re actually in The Invisible Scratch Pickles and using the vinyl creatively, what’s the point? If all you’re doing is fading down and fading up, switch to mp3.

Get yourself a small, light laptop. I use a Panasonic Toughbook:

Although I’m a Mac fiend, I went with the Toughbook cos it’s soo diddy and light. This means that I can pop it in my rucksack, complete with a few leads and its PSU and the whole lot weighs next to nowt.

On my laptop, I run Winamp (2.78) with the WinCue plugin. This makes for an amazingly fast and responsive DJing system. If someone asks for a band, I just tap their name in the search screeen of WinCue and up they come, instantly.

This is the liberation of mp3 DJing. Whereas before I’d have to lug round boxes full of vinyl or CD, most of which I’d never play but I had to have just in case, now it all sits on my hard drive. Currently, I’m DJing with about 2000 songs in my music folder. Seeing as I used to play maybe one track off every CD / 12″, that’s the equivalent of me hauling 2000 records every time I DJ.

But I just pop my laptop in my rucksack and toddle off. It’s lovely.

It means I have more choice of music at my fingertips, the ultimate desire for every pro DJ. If someone comes up and asks me for Atreyu or Teddy Pendergrass, I probably have at least one track by them somewhere.

It also means I can read and react to the crowd in a far more fluid way. Hmmm… so people are nodding their heads to Hrvatski? Maybe I’ll stick some Cylob on? Did I bring any out with me – of course I did because it takes up zero space!

You can take more risks, change what you’re gonna play in an instant when you’ve had a last second brainwave in a way you never could with clumsy CD or vinyl. It makes normal DJing feel like trying to make love through a duvet.

And you don’t need an expensive, new laptop – I just like shiny gadgets. Playing mp3s doesn’t take much computer power at all so you could easily use a laptop that’s three or four years old. If a modern laptop can cost as little as £600, a second-hand job a few years old could be yours for a snip. (I know old laptops can do the job because I’ve been laptop DJing for at least three years now.)

So, for maybe two or three hundred quid, you can become an independent DJ. No decks, no mixer, no massive volume of largely redundant music media, all you carry with you is the most important thing: the music.

It’s time to abandon our fetish for vinyl or even (some DJs have it!) our fetish for CDs. Like I said, if you’re a hip hop DJ or doing something truly unique with your slabs of plastic, none of the above applies to you. You need the physicality of vinyl.

But that isn’t the vast majority of DJs, most of whom don’t even beatmix records. They have an unjustified vinyl / CD fetish. Destroy that obsession and instead strengthen your obsession for the music itself.

I would love to see a flowering of DJs, kids hopping onto buses, trains and planes, unencumbered by flightcases and shit. Liberated to spread music to places which wouldn’t normally have a DJ because of the implied hassles.

I don’t care what music you want to play, just get out there. Get out of your bedrooms, get off your arses and start spreading the music you love to as many people as possible.

UPDATE!! 25/9/08

Well, it’s now coming up to five years since I wrote the original post above. What’s changed in my DJing setup?

Not much!

I’ve kept trying every new bit of DJ software that comes out and I’ve always returned to the Winamp setup I detailed above. Why?

Because it works.

All the other pieces of DJ software I’ve tried have been too complex, too bloated and trying to do the old “two decks + crossfader” paradgim. I don’t want to see all that shit – I’m on a laptop. If I wanted two decks and a mixer, I’d use them. Since I’m not beatmixing, all I want is robust, simple cueing and crossfading. Oh, and a great search function.

While there are some very slick packages there, I’d advise the newbie laptop DJs to never pay before you’ve test-driven the app. I’ve tried out programs that cost over a hundred quid and they’ve crashed out after only an hour or two. To do a proper test, I’d say do a trial set at home of no less than four hours. Remember, you do not want the program crashing before an audience. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for a re-boot of app or laptop during a set. And you probably won’t get booked again.

The other thing I’d say is crucial is the intelligence of your crossfade. If you only ever do manual crossfading, there’s no issue. But most of the time, I let Winamp do the crossfading. And it never fails me. I can go from a 55-second Minor Threat track with a sudden start, sudden end into a floaty dubstep intro and the transition is slick and professional sounding. Providing you know your music (which, after all, is what you’re getting paid for), you’ll never get tripped up.

I wish I could say the same of some big-name, pro software. I’ve tried out some packages and the crossfading is simply horrible. Chopping off the last beats of rock songs, chopping out the ambient intros of electronic tracks. These apps expect you to go through every single track in your library and mark start and end points.

WHAT?

I’m meant to go through 6000+ tracks and mark ins and outs because you can’t program an intelligent crossfade?? Yeah, right…

So, beware of any apps that use up hours of your time because they didn’t spend enough of theirs on the coding.

As for platforms, I remain, after nearly a decade, a PC user for laptop DJing. In the rest of my life, I’m a Mac head. I’m typing this on a Macbook Pro, my studio has a shiny, new Mac Pro 8-core in it. I love Macs, I love OSX!

But the sad fact is that there is no Mac app as slender, functional and reliable as Winamp 2.78. Believe me, I’ve looked!

My current laptop computer is an HP Pavilion TX1000:

laptop

It’s immensely over-powered for what I’m doing on it but such is the rate of progress in computer power since ’99. I had to wipe nasty Vista and put lovely XP on it to get the version of Winamp I use (and the plugins) to work but apart from that, it’s been fine.

Sooo… That’s the tech update done. Now the arty-farty bit!

What I said at the end of the original article, I feel even more now. I’m 42 and I can’t remember a time when the mainstream charts, radio and TV had worse music on them. It wasn’t even this bad in the late ’70s, pre-punk.

At the same time, there has never been so much stunning new music available. Every week, I discover new artists who just blow me away. They’re all independent so they won’t ever get on the mass media. So most people will never get to hear them.

This is why I still DJ. Being able to play these artists to people who are looking for something a little more is a privilege and a great source of joy. There is still nothing better than playing a new track and having someone come up excitedly and ask who it is.

If you’ve read this far and you aren’t already a DJ, what are you waiting for? Get a laptop, book a night at a venue and get going.

If you love music, share that love with other music lovers!

Gaddafi – Courageous Statesman or the new Saddam?

The good news is that, as is apparent from every lowbrow comedy show, Saddam Hussein has been caught and will hopefully be tried for the atrocities he committed. Perhaps then the gassed Kurds, murdered Shiite rebels and other victims of his tyrannical regime will receive some posthumous justice.

The bad news is that posthumous justice means shit.

What would have been good is justice while they could have appreciated it. Or, even better, not having been murdered in the first place.

But, as Noam Chomsky highlights, that’s an angle the Western media seem to be conveniently overlooking:

“Last December, Jack Straw, Britain’s foreign secretary, released a dossier of Saddam’s crimes drawn almost entirely from the period of firm U.S.-British support of Saddam.

With the usual display of moral integrity, Straw’s report and Washington’s reaction overlooked that support.” (ZMag)

As I’ve pointed out to people till I’m blue in the bloody face, the massacre of the Kurds was carried out in 1988. Back then, Hussein was the West’s friend. Everything he did, he did with either our full support or when we’d conveniently turned a blind eye. If you don’t believe that, go and google for the dates and facts. They’re all out there. Only a complete moron or a Presidential speechwriter could miss them.

We created, fed and supported the monster that was Hussein. He was our obedient little pet. When he stopped being obedient, we invaded his country and killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis to teach him a lesson. Oh, after killing hundreds of thousands more with sanctions, of course. Anyway, he had WMDs didn’t he? He didn’t? Ah well, I’m sure it was still worth killing all those Iraqi children, just to be on the safe side, eh?

What it comes down to is absolutely simple. It’s a principle so chilling that our media can never admit it’s true:

We don’t care what you do as long as you’re our friend.

Torture your citizens. Develop bioweapons. Grow the drugs that end up in our ghettoes (helps keep the troublemakers down anyway). Hell, shoot your students like dogs in the street, like the Chinese government did in Tianamen – we don’t give a shit. As long as you’re our friend. As long as you don’t oppose us in the UN, as long as you let us have military bases in your tinpot countries. As long as you’re our stooges, you’re safe. The USA and UK will wash any blood from your hands, you’ll be whiter than white. Just like Marcos, Pinochet, Noriega, Suharto and a warlord we suckled called Saddam Hussein.

But the moment you turn against us, then we’ll raise the great moral banners, decry your bioweapons and torture of prisoners. Oh, we’ll have our own bioweapons and we’ll be holding people illegally and torturing them in Camp X-Ray. But we’re allowed to do all that shit – we’re the good guys!.

And now the USK has a new friend: step foward, friendly Gaddafi! What a leader, what a true statesman – he’s doing what we tell him to! Of course, that makes him good. Forget about his known support for international terrorism, his training of IRA terrorists that helped bomb the shit out of Britain – he’s a good guy!

As Robert Fisk points out:

“That he supplied details of Al-Qa’ida operatives to us wouldn’t be surprising. They are as much a danger to Gaddafi as they were to Saddam; only that’s not quite the story that being written for us.

No indeed. Far from being another despotic little killer, Colonel Gaddafi is now, according to Jack Straw, “statesmanlike and courageous’. And as long as Mr Blair complains that the whole miserable circus in Iraq persuaded Gaddafi to disarm – even though the Libyans totally deny this – then all the lies told to us by the Prime Minister about Saddam’s 45-minute threat can be forgotten. Or so he must hope.”(ZMag)

Of course, now he’s our mate, he’ll expect something in return. We’ll probably send him shiploads of money / arms / poison gas, like we did Hussein. Which he’ll use to murder, torture and spread terror. And we won’t care. We won’t give a damn.

Because he’s our friend now.

Bless Playlist 22/12/2003

My god! It’s the fullest I’ve seen the Bless in a long time. It was absolutely rammed. Hence, I had to play a lot of requests. In fact, I didn’t manage to play all the requests, there were that many.

I had some very lovely people come up asking what I was playing, and requests for actual labels like Trustkill and In At The Deep End. I’ve got that stuff at home but I haven’t ever taken much out. I’ll have to remedy that!

Top track of tonight was a relative oldie, Nas’ ‘Get Down.’ I’ve got addicted to this track, playing it over and over in my car. I don’t know why but it just seems to fit the cold weather spookily well. Other contenders for top track: Atreyu’s ‘Lip Gloss’ and The Red Army Choir’s ‘Dark Eyes.’ Those Russian lads can really belt it out! 😉

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
Sufjan Stevens-All Good Naysayers Speak Up Or Forever Hold Your Peace
Nas-Get Down
Venetian Snares – Einstein-Rosen Bridge
347,Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
02 Pedro The Lion-Rapture
Swollen Members – Watch This
The Average White Band – Pick Up The Pieces
Zao – Resistance
Ladytron – Black Plastic
Boy Sets Fire – Rookie
My Robot Friend -I Know What Women Want
199,Dead Prez – I’m A African
140, Propagandhi – Nation States
244,The Weakerthans – A New Name For Everything
177,At The Drive In – Rolodex Propoganda
184,Cylob-Rewind
183,Minus The Bear – Spritz!!! Spritz!!!
256,Slayer ? Reign In Blood
167,Plus-Tech Squeezebox – Early RISER
246,Jedi Mind Tricks – Blood In Blood Out
233,Fugazi – Full Disclosure
332,Man Parrish – Hip Hop Be Bop
304,Atreyu – Lip Gloss And Black
114,Peggy Lee – Winter Wonderland
299,Gang Of Four – To Hell With Poverty!
268,American Football – Never Meant
395,Boards Of Canada – Telephasic Workshop
296,The Pharcyde – Runnin’
182,Throwdown ? Raise Your Fist
132,Augusto Alguero (With Orchestra And Chorus)- Discotheque
173,Weezer – Mykel And Carli
239,Ghostface Killah – Iron Maiden
173,Komeda – Elvira Madigan
275,Red Army Choir – Dark Eyes
387,The Prodigy – Voodoo People
170,Shellac – Prayer To God
156,Clinic – Walking With Thee
254,Billy Talent – Try Honesty
180,Modest Mouse – Paper Thin Walls
179,Roy Budd – Main Theme – Carter Takes A Train
174,Howlin’ Wolf – Baby How Long
75,Man Or Astro Man- – Green-Blooded Love
144,Nancy Wilson – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

I’m wheezing now, of course… the downside of a packed night is more smokers… 🙁