Monday, 30 March 2015

Overpass - Flash Fiction

As the barge puttered towards the bridge, those pedestrians stood upon it waved inanely at the pilot, who steadfastly refused to acknowledge their existence in any way. 

The men found the capes and cloaks of their fancy dress inhibitive as they tried to unfurl their protest banner and attach it to the railings of the bridge over the motorway. They had neither rights, nor a sufficiently sound grasp of physics, since none had calculated that the velocity of any travelling vehicles would prohibit the drivers from being able to read the words of their message.  

Stationed in the air within the glass observation deck, he espied the luggage cart plumb bisecting beneath him on its course towards the aircraft that was destined to carry away his daughter to the other side of the world. He fell forward and braced his arm against the glass to halt his stumble. A final perpendicularity, as his body buckled into his future unbuttressed loneliness.

The three boys had been bent double as they hauled the concrete slab up the metal stairs of the overhead footbridge. They resembled Macbeth’s three witches huddled over their cauldron as they cast for their augury. But now that the slab was balanced up on the guardrail, they straightened their backs and peered over the railway tracks. The slab would foretoken an exact future for the fate of the next train to come down the line. 

The Guards watched the prisoners expressionlessly from the ramparts as they filed underneath their steel gangways towards the gas chambers. The Jewish prisoners wondered how their god could just watch impassively from heaven’s cloud gantry; how instead of passing over their marked houses and sparing them as in ancient Egypt, now he seemed to be zeroing in on those barrack huts marked with the yellow star. 


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Money Money, Cash Cash - songs about currency

So we here in the UK have just had the annual budget and I can't really remember much about it. But I do know quite a lot of songs about money, so here you go.

1) Pink Floyd - "Money"
That most rare of beasts, a 7" single by pink floyd who are the quintessential 'albums' band, doing concept albums like "The Wall", "Animals" and of course "Dark Side Of The moon" where this song ended up on.

2) The Jam - "Pretty Green"
For such an accomplished lyricist as Paul Weller, this is pretty dire. Probably signalled the beginning of the end for The Jam creatively, a band that don't forget, had lots of Number 1 and Top 10 singles.

3) Nas - "Money Over Bullshit"
You might not be surprised to know that any chart with a money theme will be overwhelmed by Rap and Hip-Hop song titles. This is one of the better ones, from what I take to be Nas' best album "Hip Hop is Dead" though most will tell you it was his debut "Ilmatic"

4) Mickey Dread - "Money Dread"
From the brilliant album "World War 3", Mickey Dread collaborated a lot with The Clash, but his own work is cruelly overlooked.

5) Swans - "Time Is Money (Bastard)"
Well they released an album called "Greed/Holy Money" where the songs explore the naked power relations of work/bosses, money, power, exploitation and religion. This one is about how the human body can be purchased.

6) The O'Jays - "For The Love Of Money"

7) Hope Of The States - "Black Dollar Bills"
Had high hopes of this band to do what Radiohead did and do it way better, but a band member's suicide put the kybosh on that hope.

8) The Skids - "Working For The Yankee Dollar"
I liked the Skids, or at least I thought I did. But their stuff hasn't aged well and is pretty unlistenable now. Lead singer Richard Jobson left to become a male model, says it all really.

9) World Domination Enterprises - "Blue Money"
Drugs, dub heavy bass and an unholy mess of a band, but boy were they loud!

11) Flying Lizards - "Money (That's What I Want)"
Better than the Beatles' original. No more needs to be said. Other than they used to employ all sorts of found objects for their music.

12) Mos Def - " Sex, Love & Money"
Did you know Mos Def had a cameo in "Talladega Nights"?

13) Cop Shoot Cop - "10 Dollar Bill"
One of the more disturbing videos and a riff ripped off from The Stranglers but what's not to like huh?

14) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "Easy Money"
As Nick says/ I agree with Nick... remember how that dominated the televised political leaders debates last time round? Wonder how that will go for Nick Clegg this time?

Monday, 23 March 2015

NSA Circle Of Friends

The NSA spook espied the housewife prying into her son's internet browsing history as she uncovered that he had been viewing a live sex cam of a woman who used to date the NSA agent and had lots of secret footage on his sexual proclivities which she had uploaded to YouPorn... 

Saturday, 21 March 2015


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Friday, 20 March 2015

Music For The Eclipse - Songs about the sun and the moon

There was an eclipse today. Being this was my day off work, I slept through it, although most commentators in the UK said it just became a bit more cloudy and overcast so it was hard to tell the difference.

Nevertheless, since this event isn't due to happen for another eleven years, I thought I'd honour it with a themed chart that is out of this world (but not out of our solar system).

1) Creedance Clearwater Revival - "Bad Moon Rising"
Jaunty country inflected song about ecological disaster, who'd have thunk it?

2) New Order - "Sunrise"
You say New Order and immediately think of synth club dance anthems, but they could also rock out with guitars as this suggests

3) Grinderman - "Man In The Moon"
Nick Cave's offshoot project Grinderman put the rock and roll back into the music whereas his solo stuff was far more ballad based, yet this one could have been from either version.

4) Gun Club - "Give Up the Sun"
A bit more lyrically complex than most of their swamp rock bluesy stuff.

5) Jimi Hendrix - "Moon Turn Tides Gently Gently Away"
Hippyish title, but what the heck, once the song gets out of its psychedelic intro it ain't quite so serene

6) Pink Floyd - "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun"
Could have been "Dark Side Of The Moon" but I went for the slightly happier if still unsettling sunnyside up.

if you'd prefer the longer but more wonderful version Live from Pompeii -

7) The Police - Walking On the Moon"
It's not often anything Sting related gets into one of my charts, but this is an okay song even if they do look like idiots in the video, but that was the 80s for you I suppose

8) Wu Tang Clan - "Sunlight"
Wu Tang get all spiritual and not even the metaphysics of drugs either.

9) The Ramones - "Howling At the Moon (Sha La La)"
This almost seems like the Ramones were pastiching themselves. Having string orchestras for songs works, having an organ in the band doesn't.

10) Royal Trux - "Sun on the Run"
US noise merchants down it down from 11 to 10.

13) "Roll Along Prairie Moon"
From the TV drama "Pennies From Heaven" with the inestimable late Bob Hoskins.

12) Arctic Monkeys - "When The Sun Goes Down"
When they were still Northern and good. Alex Turner has gone very Queen's English these days.

13) Neil Young - "Harvest Moon"
Never much of a Neil Young fan, (his voice always too reedy for my tastes), I find it interesting that most of the songs here about the Moon are 60s and early 70s, whereas the Sun songs range from all over. Something to do with The Age Of Aquarius I imagine.

14) Fat Boy Slim - "Sunset (Bird Of Prey)"
Fat Boy Slim produces mighty tunea, or at least half-tunes. When he has a good riff or diddle, he never revels in constantly reprising it, which is to be respected, but also means none of his songs quite hang together imho.

15) Violent Femmes - "Blister In the Sun"
I loved this band when they were around, but now find their music hasn't aged terribly well. Don't know what you think?

16) Dead Kennedys - "Moon Over Marin"
This is the final track on an album of unrelenting US hardcore punk and is a bit of a stand out oddity for its wistfulness.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Political Songs - A Chart

With a General Election coming up in Britain in May, thought I'd unearth some political-related songs. I've already done an earlier chart on the related theme of Revolution - "A Little Light Molotov Cocktail Music" 

1) Heaven 17 - "We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thang"
Never liked all that New Romantic floppy quiff and high mounted bass thing, but this song popped out completely unexpectedly from the genre. Respect!

2) Crucifucks - "Democracy Spawns Bad Taste"
American hardcore punks, all throbbing bass and rumbling drums, somewhat undermined by the squeaky vocal.

3) Circle Jerks - "Coup D'Etat"
More US hardcore punk. I've ben going through university courses with my son who wants to do American studies, two of the courses offer a module on American punk, one on hip-hop. *Sigh*

4) Killing Joke - "Democracy"
Almost has the feel of one of those songs politicians commission for a campaign to get more young people to vote. Killing Joke had definitely lost it by this time. However, couple of years ago they released a dub remix of their songs, knockout it was, one my best albums of that year.

5) Muse - Exo-Politics
It's Muse, so it's about space politics right?

6) Nas - "Black Republican"
Bit of a specious one this, as it's really about ghetto hip-hop politics and very little to do with Congressional representatives.

7) The Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in The UK"
The grand-daddy of them all, although their concept of anarchy is a bit underdeveloped! Still a great song even after all these years.

8) Radiohead - "Electioneering"
I assert my democratic right to state that I have never liked Radiohead. This is just bad early genesis to me.

9) Dead Kennedys - "We Got A Bigger Problem Now"
Ronald Reagan provided a whole music sub-genre of American hardcore devoted to ragging on him. This song is one of the best, but was itself an updating of their earlier song "California Uber Alles" when Reagan was Californian Governor.

10) Dillinger - "Natty Socialist"
Jamaica, the land of heavy political violence.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Wheelie Bags - A Rant

A new scourge is blighting London. Wheelie bags. They turn the pavements into chariot races as humble pedestrians are forced to dodge their uncertain parabolas across the paving stones.

The first creative piece I ever wrote, back in the early 1980s, contrasted the young mothers pushing prams in front of them across the pavements, with the old people dragging their wheeled shopping bags behind them. My image was that these were the only two types of pedestrian left in the inner city abandoned by everyone else in search of jobs. But the wheelie handlers of today are all thrusting young business types. Now were this around a London airport, one could understand their need for mobile light luggage for a hop over to Madrid or Geneva. But I'm talking about London Bridge, a confluence of workers and tourists and a teeming hive of foot traffic. Wrangled and boxed in, in the face of the jabbing wheeled scourges.

I don't believe there is anything in these sturdy sided bags other than a lunchtime banana, a book of Sudoku for the train ride home and a phone charger. What executive these days needs papers? Everything is an email attachment and they all have smartphones. No, these pavement hogs wield their wheeled chargers for other purposes.

When you walk in the wake of one of these, you are likely to have contact at some point. Be it the vagaries of London's sunken paving stones, the lack of concentration on steering in favour of a face planted at their phone's screen, the prancing and bucking wheelie bag does not trace a path straight and true. It lurches and snaps at your shins.

Now this inevitably brings about what I believe is a desired state of affairs for the pavement pilots; the bag establishes an exclusion zone around them. It carves out a personal inviolable space in which trespassers take their lives in their hands for impinging/infringing. Now this is bad enough on the roadworked bedeviiled streets of SE1. It's worse when it's on the narrow concourse of London Bridge station (only last week castigated by the Mayor of London for its delay and danger in getting commuters safely through the ticket barriers through overcrowding). And it's lethal when these lazy bastards wheel their cases right up to the start of the escalators at the station before pulling them off their wheels and heaving them on to be supported by the moving stairs, again establishing a no-go zone around them. Have all these people's arm muscles atrophied to such a point they have to have the weight of their cases borne by anything but themselves?

If you're under 45 years old and you have a bag on wheels, just pick it up by the handles and carry the goddamned thing in crowded areas. And stop looking at your phones too.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Great Unknown - UK politics and the 2015 general election

I try and avoid talking about UK politics because I am a disaffected voter who in the last few elections has spoiled his ballot paper by scrawling on it 'None of The Above'.

The upcoming election will be impossible to predict, since we just don't know what the effect will be of UKIP taking votes away from all three major parties. It will vary from seat to seat, depending on how tactical the local electorate will be. At least it should mean rather than 40 or so seats out of 600+ being genuinely contested rather than 'safe' for the incumbent party, we could well have many times more seats changing hands.

For what it's worth and please don't go down the bookmakers on the basis of what I say, I don't think there will be an outright winner at the polls able to form a majority government. Instead it will be a 3-party coalition, involving Lib-Dems and SNP with Labour Or LibDems and the Northern Irish DUP with Conservatives. UKIP will win no more than 6 seats, Greens will be lucky to hold on to their lone single seat. This is just how the first past the post electoral system works. UKIP will take votes away from both Labour and Conservative, enough to ensure either of the latter lose seats, but not enough to win the seat outright for UKIP. If Miliband weren't such a walking disaster as a leader, Labour should romp this election. But he is an electoral liability, so much so that the vapid Cameron has a greater popularity rating than Miliband. Also Labour will lose seats in Scotland as the SNP managed to sustain their post-independence bandwagon of support, which they really shouldn't be able to do since they lost the referendum, which removes a good portion of their raison d'etre. Instead we now have the irony of them potentially being kingmakers down in Westminster. They might be able to negotiate a devolution of powers from Westminster to Edinburgh so large that it becomes de facto independence in all but name.

As an example of how fragmented and inchoate the psephology is, take a look at London. London is a wealthy city, a natural constituency for the Conservatives you would have thought. And yet it is overwhelmingly Labour and Labour are predicted to take some more seats in May, off both Conservatives and Lib-Dems. And yet Londoners have voted to re-elect a Conservative Mayor in the form of Boris Johnson!

So, what will be the outcome? Almost certainly a lot of surprising results on an individual level and I reckon no one party will have a majority. I think there will be a lot of tooing and froing which may not result in putting a coalition together, or a coalition that is too strained and collapses quickly, so that we might actually have 2 elections within a period of 12 months. Which would crucify the finances of all the parties.

Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.