Fuck The Police

Alleged to have threatened customers, John Crawford, 22, was talking on his phone while holding an unloaded BB gun

Read the whole story. Heartbreaking.

Basically, if you are a black American, the police do not see you as a human being. You are, to them, an animal they will execute as they see fit. And they will get away with it because the white power establishment will back them to the hilt. Paid leave and backslaps all round.

I say it a lot but it holds up to repetition: fuck the police.

GoTenna Networking

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A gadget for text messaging without cell service sees a spike in interest from the pro-privacy crypto and Bitcoin communities — even though that wasn’t its creators’ intention. (Source: cnet.com)

I can’t help but feel that de-centralised, ad hoc networking like this is one possible alternate future. Including, of course, the internet of things, everything alive, responsive and addressable.

But that’s a future the major telecomms companies really, really don’t want to see happening. Or the FBI, CIA, NSA, MI5, MI6…

It’s going to be an interesting century.

Yet Another Racist UKIP MEP

Comments made by a UKIP MEP about a Thai constituent have been described as outrageous by the woman’s husband.

South East MEP Janice Atkinson described Fa Munday, a UKIP-supporting mobile food seller in Ramsgate, Kent, as a “ting tong from somewhere”.

Her comments were recorded by BBC South East Today following an interview. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

The weirdest part of this story is not that yet another UKIP leader is outed for their racism, it’s that they were racist to a party member.

And that any Thai person could be so naive as to not recognise that UKIP is a racist party. 

What next? Jew outraged by chilly welcome at Nazi Party fundraiser?

Racist Gear

Top Gear’s Burma Special in which Jeremy Clarkson used a racial slur broke broadcasting rules, Ofcom has said.

The show featured a segment showing the hosts looking at a bridge they had built on the River Kwai as a local man walked across it.

Clarkson remarked: “That is a proud moment. But there’s a slope on it.”
(Source: BBC News)

So, any time someone says they’re a fan of Top Gear, just replace that in your brain with:

“Hi, I’m a racist and I’m a fan of racism and racists like Jeremy Clarkson.”

And of simpering toadies like Richard Hammond.

You all have to watch this again:

On Cultural Appropriation

I don’t fall into an intense rage when I see white girls wearing mehndi. Or, for that matter, when white people wear pyjamas, use the word ‘thug’ or the numeral for zero, Indian things that have been so absorbed into Western culture that their roots are forgotten.

As long as they’re not doing it in a racist, demeaning way, I also find it cute when white people dress up in Indian clothes, like the Beatles in their Nehru jackets. If a white woman goes through the effort of donning a sari, it’s a compliment and I take it as such.

BUT

(There always has to be a but, doesn’t there? Sorry!)

We can’t leave issues of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism un-addressed. Here’s an example:

When a white musician/band ~

  • Uses Indian instruments
  • Experiments with African rhythms
  • “discovers” gamelan
  • “discovers” K-pop
  • Then no-one bats an eyelid. Critics will probaby praise them for looking further than their own culture. They will be seen as innovative, challenging, embracing multiculturalism. Fair enough.

    Now wind back to the first White Town gigs I did. White people asked me:

  • Why are you playing indie music and not bhangra?
  • You’re with the band? Are you their manager/accountant?
  • Why don’t you have tablas?
  • Why aren’t you wearing a turban?
  • Do you see my point? Now, that was a long time ago but even now, being non-white in a lot of popular music cultures is to be in an eternal minority. To be in a band in one of those genres is to be ultimately exotic. I’m still, weekly, the only non-white person in the club or at the gig.

    White people can go where they want, take what they want, do what they want because they are heir to hundreds of years of colonialism, cultural imperialism and appropriation. There are no gatekeepers to their entry to any culture. There are even Nazi hip hop and reggae bands, such is the arrogance of white cultural appropriation.

    I believe in multiculturalism the way I believe in rain: because it is the truth of the world. We have always lived in a melting pot, ideas cannot be owned by any one ethnic group, they exist as memes in the original Dawkinsian sense of the term, spreading, mutating, evolving. Indian numerals were transported to the West by Arabian traders and scholars where they blossomed because they were more efficient than the clumsier alternatives. Mathematics doesn’t care about borders or the colour of a person’s skin (although mathematicians may do). African and European cultures met and collided in America to produce jazz, arguably the single greatest artistic innovation of the 20th century. Similarly, four white, German blokes in a band called Kraftwerk became the seminal influence in electronic music, including electro, hip hop and every other genre driven by electronic instruments.

    All that is beautiful, all that is why humanity makes me happy and hopeful.

    But when non-white people like me are told we can only act or speak or dress a certain way or we’re “acting white,” that’s where I see that neo-colonialism lives on in our culture today, never questioning white right to anything, anywhere but always, always trying to put the uppity natives back into our little huts where we belong.

    There was a recent post I saw on Tumblr which was basically laughing at a Korean rapper for no other reason than he was Korean. If he’d been doing exactly the same thing and been black or white American, no-one would have cared. The hilarity was specifically directed at his non-Koreanness. When I watched the video, I thought of the effort it must have taken this person to get where he is, the hours of practice, the love of hip hop and all he’ll see in his comments are jokes about his ethnicity.

    Even though I’ve grown up in England, my Indian-ness will always be questioned because I don’t make bhangra (which, by the way, originates a thousand miles away from my part of India). I’m old so I can brush this ignorance off but it makes me sad when I see younger people getting shit for not conforming to the neo-colonial coolie ideal.

    So, stick those bindis on, white girls (and boys, if you feel like it, hijra-style), flaunt those dreads, mangle those kanji in your tatts but please, please allow us the same freedom in return.

    No-one owns anything. It’s all out there for grabs.

    For everyone.

    Saves The Day @ Hit The Deck, Nottingham, 20/4/14

    As you may know, I’m a little obsessed with Saves The Day. But, until, Sunday, I’d never seen them live. The truth is, I think I was scared. I’ve often loved a band and then a desultory live experience has put me off them and I’ve stopped listening to them at all. I really didn’t want that happening with STD as their music is so important to me.

    So, it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I squeezed as far to the front as I could at a packed Rock City main hall to pop my Saves The Day live cherry.

    They were magical.

    They started off with newie ‘Remember’ and instantly, we were all seduced. Everything about STD live works. Firstly, there’s the assured grace that musicians have when they really, really know what the fuck they’re doing. On top of that, there’s Conley and his pitch-perfect vocals. He’s probably second only to Ben Gibbard in the way he can make live versions of songs sound better than the recorded tracks.

    Saves The Day live are the classic two guitars, bass and drums lineup ~ no backing tracks, no choirs, no redundant synth player noodling away. And within that essential configuration, they give the audience worlds of songs. So deft is Conley’s songwriting and the band’s arrangements that you never stand there, thinking, “Hmm, I’m liking this but it’d be BRILLIANT with a synth rave preset tacked on the end.”

    They are perfect. They were perfect. When ‘Anywhere With You’ was followed by ‘Freakish,’ I did, indeed, lose my shit and do proper emo crying, smiling as I was singing as I was crying as I was remembering who that song will always make me think of and how much I miss her.

    The whole set, old or new, was loved by the crowd and pretty soon I was ejected from my prime position by kids moshing their tits off. Which is entirely as it should be: I’m an old man, I should be left out for the wolves to gnaw. What does Conley, who’s 34 now, think when he sees all these teens totally in love with his songs? Probably the same as me when I get asked for an autograph by someone who wasn’t even born when ‘Your Woman’ was released: ‘FUCK, I’M OLD.’

    After the gig, I spotted Palma doing the merch just by the Rock City doors, totally chilled. I went up, mumbled some bullshit, took the pic above and shook his hand. He was sweet, I was tongue-tied. I’d just seen songs I’ve loved for over a decade come alive before me, I’d heard them a way I never have before.

    If you get the chance to see Saves The Day live, don’t be hesitant like I was. Go! You won’t regret it!

    Ignorant People

    The last few years have been pretty stressful for me. My separation and subsequent divorce generated emotional responses in me that, in retrospect, I should have questioned. My life was so lonely that I put up with a lot of shit from people.

    I established and maintained friendships that were pretty much one way because something is better than nothing. The biggest issue here is when, as the old saying goes, you make people a priority who only regard you as an option or, in most cases, a last resort.

    One of the manifestations of this breakdown in reciprocity is an astounding level of ignorance in communication. This runs the gamut from people not replying to texts to actually physically standing me up. In just one week, I was let down/stood up *with no explanation* four times by four separate people.

    When something like that happens, you have to re-evaluate your approach to friendships. To be treated in such a cavalier manner by so many people in such a short span of time indicates that something is not right.

    Here are some choice examples of people being ignorant:

    No reply after that. Not a word in around two months now.

    Are you going to text me that you can or can’t make it? No, why bother, eh? Over a month later, no reply.

    This is probably my fave in that WhatsApp lets you see for sure that they’ve read the message. So, they read the message and just didn’t reply. Nothing since then, four months.

    Bear in mind that I put these ones up because the senders’ identities are protected. I have more, sadly.

    If any of these people had messaged and cancelled, for whatever reason, I’d be cool with that. Just let me know so I can go and make use of my time. It’s the sheer ignorance that galls me!

    The major reason I put these up is to show that I didn’t chase after these people. In 2012, I would have, forgiving them time after time when they ignored me.

    I won’t do that any more. I refuse to let myself be treated badly and I’m done with chasing people who patently don’t give a fuck about me.

    It’s a process. I can do better. The trouble is, divorce is utterly devastating to self-esteem, possibly the biggest rejection a human can ever face. So, I have wobbly days where, foolishly, I miss people who don’t miss me. I’m lonely and start thinking things like, ‘Ooh, maybe I should text them? Maybe they just didn’t get five texts in a row! IT COULD HAPPEN!’

    Then I take a breath and realise that I deserve better. I put the phone down and go and do something useful with my time, with people who are my actual friends.

    The Grand Budapest Hotel

    Tonight, Emma and I went to see Wes Anderson‘s new film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ at Quad. As you may have noticed, I’ve been in the midst of a big Anderson phase lately, there’s something about his transrealism that connects with my current rather fantastical life state.

    I won’t be revealing any major plot points in this review so you can relax.

    The film is about a grand hotel and its beating heart, the concierge M. Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes. As the hotel hangs on Gustave, the film hangs on Fiennes. A wrong foot from him and the whole lot would come crashing down, particularly as the narrative is split through at least two layers of flashback and held with another book. Such narrative conceits can be bewildering without an anchor but Fiennes provides that beautifully. His Gustave is by turns sophisticated, louche, poetic and profane. All these aspects of the character are brought together so naturally, so gracefully that it’s a joy to watch. Fiennes can slip from slapstick broad comedy to moments which literally had me in tears, all in the same scene.

    Around Fiennes is a cast of major stars like Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Saorirse Ronan, Jeff Goldlbum, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody and… well, practically everyone ever. If I had to make any criticism of TGBH, it’s that sometimes I occasionally felt my immersion disturbed by playing spot the famous star, a little similarly to watching Cloud Atlas. I also feel sorry for unknown, up-and-coming actors: not really much chance of a look in beyond a bit part in an Anderson film as even a passing one-line taxi driver would probably end up being Liam Neeson or George Clooney.

    That being said, the role of Gustave’s lobby boy and personal valet Zero is played by relative newcomer Tony Revolori and his newness does shake things up. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s already a wonderful actor at just eighteen. I wish we’d got more screen time for Saorirse Ronan but whatever she had, she owned, as always.

    So, it’s a hotel, there are comical, borderline farcical character, there are shenanigans. Is it just a very lavish Fawlty Towers?

    Well, yes and no and yes. TGBH isn’t a sitcom, there is no canned laughter, the setup isn’t as glib as television. However, like the best moments of Fawlty Towers, which relied on Cleese transcending comedy to somewhere darker and disturbingly more primal, this film manages to be both funny and terrifying. In the cinema, we were bowling along merrily, chortling at the funny people doing humorous things and then, out of nowhere, would come a moment which de-railed us. Easy laughter was replaced by nervous laughter, I could hear people thinking ‘hold the fuck up ~ I thought this was a comedy? HIS HAND! WHAT?’

    TGBH deals with more than the convoluted flouting of daily routine / established taboos / hierarchical relationships. It deals with love, war, humanity and, above all, the passing of things. In this distinction, it leaves farce behind and becomes tragedy, though we may still be laughing and we don’t know why as it isn’t funny. I’m not claiming that it’s attempting to do what the film that made Fiennes’ name, ‘Schindler’s List, did, twenty-one years ago but I am saying that this isn’t zany, madcap fluff, which is how Anderson is often stereotyped. There is one scene near the end where I actually had to close my eyes because I didn’t want to see what came next. Thankfully, Anderson chose not to show it and I feel that fits perfectly with the musings about civilisation that Gustave declaims.

    Even though it’s only ninety-nine minutes long, so much happens that it feels like you’ve been away longer. Time stretches but not through boredom, through the absorption of so much detail at such a pace, both emotionally and visually. The mise-en-scene of TGBH is obesely, decadently, drippingly gorgeous. The different eras are delineated by very different colour palettes and this is reinforced by Anderson choosing historically-appropriate frame ratios. The composition of every shot is a painting, the quality of light that Robert Yeoman captures is like kisses on every prop and face. The shots are tiny dances, moving through a scene with the actors, or stopping to emphasise their situational conflict. All of this before we even get to the marvellous words of one of the sharpest scripts we’ll get this year, or probably any year.

    The totality of this is that ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is Anderson’s most complex film to date. It is in parts comedy, anti-violence/war fable, ‘Inception’-like nested narrative, mystery and, finally, sumptuous opera with no songs. It’s ambitions are met and surpassed without the viewer even noticing the ride they’ve been hoodwinked into taking. Like all Anderson’s work, it creates a world which is ours and yet is not, a tangent which cuts our world and spills out funny things, certainly, but also things we ignore and try to kick back into the shadows.

    Give it some of your time. I believe you will love it.

    Steampunk

    ‘Steampunk’ was by Chris Bachalo and Joe Kelly and remains one of my favourite ever comics. It was published from 2000 ~ 2002 and finished early because of poor sales.

    Which fucks me right off.

    It’s perfect. The story, the characters, the insanely detailed art. I only wish they’d got to finish their story arc.

    I have a blown-up panel from the comic on my wall in my sitting room. ??