Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Holiday Time

Breath deeply, and hold it, a bit more, then exhale. Relief.

Tomorrow Kay and i are setting off for a few days at a beautiful hotel in Krabi province.

- For once I have been busy:

The camera batteries are charging like little eggs in a basket; seven mix CD's containing over five hours of John Peel 'Festive Fifties', are sitting neatly on my unmade bed; reading materials and notebook are waiting our departure. In my infinite wisdom, I have proposed having an ceremony before setting off in the morning:

It has been decided that in unison, we will switch off our mobile phones with one hand, and clink our whiskeys and ice with the other, in thanks to the holiday God who has bestowed us with this plentiful bounty.

"For this we are thankful, oh merciful one. Thanks be to to booze, books, beaches, blogger, and of course, buggering off.'

Never one to turn my nose up at a bargain, Kay's cousin's 'bit on the side' happens to be a manager of a wonderful hotel beside an even more wonderful, sun set view point. Thus, in the spirit of family unity, corruption and nepotism, I am prepared to look the other way, for a 50% reduction is simply a thing of beauty.

So, a couple of days of mental refurbishment await.

Let me spare a moments thought for all those people getting up a 6.30 am in the cold, fighting for their position in rush hour traffic, or looking out their bedroom window, only to see another ash gray sky; my heart goes out to you all, it really does. But alas, the next few days belong to my wife and I, and we are going to make the most of this sparkling moment, that will be enjoyed wholeheartedly, and savoured forever.


Monday, 28 September 2009

Garbage Warrior (Movie of the Month)

If I say the word 'Earthship' what immediately comes to mind?

A science fiction geek in a fit of madness, builds an intergalactic meeting place for humans and our extra-terrestrial cousins? If this was your guess, then you get top marks for imaginative ability, but you are way off the mark.

It may sound like something from a Star Trek episode, but is in actual fact the brain child of architect Michael Reynolds: an architect who is pushing the boundaries of design, with one eyes on the future, and another on the diminishing environmental security of our present. An inspirational figure; driven by an assiduous desire to make a practical difference to the global warming dilemma, with a combination of grit, determination, and direct action. Reynolds feels that design is not evolving quickly enough. As a result, is failing to keep up with ecological/environmental concerns.

Unbelievably, Reynolds makes his 'Earthships' which are livable dwellings, out of all matter of household waste, including, beer can walls, and car tire structures. For many, this may sounds like an eco-hippy trip gone too far, but when seen in practice, one can't help admiring him and his team of conscientious naturalists.

The movie was shot by director Oliver Hodge over three years, and follows the life and times of Reynold's and his team as they fight the laws that be for legal recognition just outside of Taos, New Mexico.

The 'Earthships' can in Reynolds own words 'take care of themselves.' By that he means they require no outside power or amenities. Amazingly, sewage, water, electricity, heating and cooling are all taken care of by an ingenious design that makes self-sufficiency a livable reality.

Reynold's vision is shared by a band of merry men and women who came and eventually built their own properties, calling themselves the Greater World Community in 1990. This is now a legal subdivision, but only after Reynolds and the families emerged from several tedious years of bureaucratic hell. Reynold's fight against the powers that be is a dirty and at times, heart-wrenching battle, that he eventually wins.

This is a movie for those who like the underdog. Reynolds is an architectural punk, whose gives two fingers to the system, but at the same time plays the game, and gets what he wants. His style is rather abrasive at times, referring to the bureaucratic 'horseshit' in one moment of frustration, but his sense of urgency and tenacity elicit mountains of admiration, and leave one with a sense that the world needs to change.


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Hitchens on Q-TV

Turner - Snowstorm

I am astonished by the way in which Turner accepts the apparent randomness of the natural elements, and paints them as they are. There is brutal honestly in this work, and Turner gives one an insight into a helpless and unenviable moment; making it tangible for all. The madness of a second in stormy sea is represented as the chilling and terrifying moment that it must be.

Legend has it that Turner undertook a death defying voyage on a ship to experience at first hand, what he was about to render on canvas.

Turner said, "I only painted it because I wished to show what such a scene was like; I got the sailors to lash me to the mast to observe it; I was lashed for four hours and did not expect to escape, but I felt bound to record it if I did. No one has any business to like it."

Contemporaries saw Turner's work as having 'dreamlike' qualities. These 19th century flirtations with metaphor may seems to us now as uninformed, even a tad pretentious, but they contained some insight that is worth commenting on.

Thanks to the likes of Froid and Jung we now have knowledge of dreams as the expression of deep intuitions and buried memories, allowing us to examine Turner's work again and note that his pictures do have the oblique qualities of a dreamlike state. The warped perspectives, blurred focuses, image metamorphosis, and the general feeling of otherness and uneasiness: These are the images of the dreamer, or someone dabbling in hallucinogenic substances.

Within our sub-consciousness mind there are various patterns that pop up time and time again. One of these is the whirl pool or vortex, of which there is a strong suggestion in the Snowstorm. This became a reemerging image in some of Turner's later paintings.

Relax for a moment and allow yourself to be absorbed into the vortex, a scary and dangerous ledge, over which lies the abyss. The visual impact is caressed by the grim tunnel of darkness that leads one to the ships hull, at which point is shot towards the heavens by a band of bright light.


Monday, 21 September 2009

The Cups and Balls - Ricky Jay

This is easily the best rendition of the classic magic trick on the net.

Truly breathtaking stuff.


A Meeting of Great Minds

On the 30th of September 2007, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens sat down for a first-of-its-kind, unmoderated 2-hour discussion, convened by RDFRS and filmed by Josh Timonen.

All four authors have recently received a large amount of media attention for their writings against religion - some positive, and some negative. In this conversation the group trades stories of the public's reaction to their recent books, their unexpected successes, criticisms and common misrepresentations. They discuss the tough questions about religion that face to world today, and propose new strategies for going forward.


The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science


Sunday, 20 September 2009

Hunter Thompson-The minuteman of the Rockies.

By Christopher Hitchens. Posted in Slate magazine,Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2005.

In early August of 1990 I went to Aspen, Colo., to cover what looked as if it would be a rather banal summit involving Margaret Thatcher and George Bush. (The meeting was to be enlivened by the announcement of the forcible annexation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, who would go on to trouble our tranquility for another 13 years.) While the banal bit was still going on, the city invited the visiting press hacks for a cocktail reception at the top of an imposing mountain. Stepping off the ski lift, I was met by immaculate specimens of young American womanhood, holding silver trays and flashing perfect dentition. What would I like? I thought a gin and tonic would meet the case. "Sir, that would be inappropriate." In what respect? "At this altitude gin would be very much more toxic than at ground level." In that case, I said, make it a double.

The very slight contraction of the freeze-frame smile made it plain that I was wasting my time: It was the early days of the brave new America that knew what was best for you. Spurning the chardonnay and stepping straight back onto the ski lift, I was soon back in town and then, after a short drive, making a turn opposite the Woody Creek Inn (easily spotted by the pig on its roof). And there, at the very fringe of habitation, was Owl Farm and its genial proprietor, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Once inside these well-armed precincts, I could drink and smoke and ingest any damn thing I liked. I finished a fairly long evening by doing some friendly target-practice, with laser-guided high-velocity rifles, in the company of my host. An empty bottle didn't stand any more of a chance outside than a full one would have had within. It was vertiginous, for me, to be able to move from one America to another, in point of time and also of place, so rapidly.

It had been in 1970 that Thompson first ran for local office in Aspen, and stood against the wave of bourgeoisification that would soon make it a place where the locals could no longer afford to live. Local police officials tried to harass him in numberless ways, only to find that they were dealing not with some hippie or freak, but with one of the charter members of the Colorado National Rifle Association. Thompson was to pursue this feud, with absolutely Corsican persistence, for many decades. If he had done nothing else, he might be remembered as a village Hampden, or a minuteman of the Rockies.

But, as Carey McWilliams of The Nation had recognized a long time before, Hunter was more than just a "character." His proposal to write about the Hell's Angels for the magazine, once accepted, was more than a brilliant piece of observant and participant journalism. It helped to curtain-raise the '60s, and perhaps most especially the hectic excess of that decade in California. Keen as he was on the herbivorous and antimilitarist side of that moment, Thompson wasn't at all blind to the noir aspect, and helped prepare readers for the Manson and Altamont dimension. He'd been in this mood since at least November 22, 1963, when he first employed the words "fear and loathing" to express the way he felt about whomever it was who had murdered the president.

"The only things I've ever been arrested for," said Hunter in one late interview, "were things I didn't do." It would take a very long article to describe all the deeds for which he could have been indicted, and all the days and nights when he could well have ended up dead. I hope that it isn't true that he became depressed and miserable about the pain and immobility of a broken leg, and that the only lethal crime he ever committed was against himself in a dark hour, but the thing seems depressingly plausible, and there would always have been a firearm, and ammo, within easy reach.

I'm not that crazy about the gonzo school, or any other version of the new journalism either, but Thompson's signature style was not always, or not entirely, about faxing unedited notes or having his life insurance cancelled by Jann Wenner. He was, above all, a highly polished hater, and could fuel himself as well as ignite others with his sheer contempt for Richard Nixon and all that he stood for. This involved, for some years, a life where there was almost no distance between belief and action. And it is why his 1972 book on the campaign trail holds up so well. But even then he knew, as he was to keep repeating, that "the wave" of the insurgent '60s— "a fantastic, universal sense that whatever we were doing was right: that we were winning"—was a wave that had not only "broken" but had "rolled back."

This was a rapture that was hard to recapture. In Wayne Ewing's oddly effective movie, Breakfast with Hunter, it is possible to detect the sensation of diminishing returns. The old enrage doesn't really look that comfortable as he is card-indexed by the historian Douglas Brinkley (who edited his collected letters, for Chrissake) or venerated as an icon by George Plimpton. He doesn't even seem all that keen on being played by Johnny Depp in the celluloid version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He's fine when hanging out with Warren Zevon, but he appears a bit lost when he's discharging fire extinguishers, or hurling blown-up fuck-dolls around the scenery, as if this sort of thing was expected of him. "He was never one to hang around when it was time to go," a mutual friend e-mailed me on Monday. The realization that this might have occurred to him before it occurred to us is a very melancholy one.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Boogie Time on Karon Beach - RoyFest

'Roy' means enjoyable, fun and delicious in Southern Thai dialect. When combined with an international music festival, expect no less than days and nights of musical ecstasy and dancing paradise.

RoyFest brings the best of domestic & international DJs and artists together to perform on the stunning sight of Phuket sea view for the first time. With the objective of endorsing local tourism, to wide spread the beauty of Thai beach and a vision to locate Thailand as one of the top destinations on the world party map.

Expect uncompromising entertainment from Ken Ishii (Japan), Adsorb (UK), Lord Warddd(USA), T-Bone (Reggae Ska Thailand), DJ Seed (GTRonline),
DJ Dragon (homebass commu) and many others who will contribute to “Roy”ness on Karon Beach, Phuket 25-26 September 2009.


Eight years on - HST and 9/11

I'm a week late in posting this, but what the hell.

Eight years of mayhem and carnage have passed since September 11th 2001. Many countries have been made into places where freedoms are lost daily, and justification requires only one excuse: The War on Terror.

Since that terrible day the term has been repeated continuously, and has entered our daily language. Paranoia, and Cold War rhetoric have bolstered support for unbridled military spending, and consequent intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. This sacred cow will be milked until it runs dry; paving the way for nation-building projects throughout the world.

On a recent visit to Britain I was sleeping in Heathrow and woke from my slumber to find a huge black Robocop figure pointing an assault rifle at me. For me, this was highly intimidating and unfortunately, a very common sight these days.

What would have deemed unthinkable ten years ago is now a reality for many around the world.

September 11th, 2009 was a sad day for humanity. When the planes hit you knew in your heart that the world was never going to be the same again.

The late great Hunter Thompson blasted on his typewriter as the events were unfolding.

His prescience is chilling, his anger is subtle, and his ability to make sense out of the chaos is what causes millions of readers around the world to pick up his books when in need of some courage.


'It was just after dawn in Woody Creek, Colo., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City on Tuesday morning, and as usual I was writing about sports. But not for long. Football suddenly seemed irrelevant, compared to the scenes of destruction and utter devastation coming out of New York on TV.

Even ESPN was broadcasting war news. It was the worst disaster in the history of the United States, including Pearl Harbor, the San Francisco earthquake and probably the Battle of Antietam in 1862, when 23,000 were slaughtered in one day.

The Battle of the World Trade Center lasted about 99 minutes and cost 20,000 lives in two hours (according to unofficial estimates as of midnight Tuesday). The final numbers, including those from the supposedly impregnable Pentagon, across the Potomac River from Washington, likely will be higher. Anything that kills 300 trained firefighters in two hours is a world-class disaster.

And it was not even Bombs that caused this massive damage. No nuclear missiles were launched from any foreign soil, no enemy bombers flew over New York and Washington to rain death on innocent Americans. No. It was four commercial jetliners.

They were the first flights of the day from American and United Airlines, piloted by skilled and loyal U.S. citizens, and there was nothing suspicious about them when they took off from Newark, N.J., and Dulles in D.C. and Logan in Boston on routine cross-country flights to the West Coast with fully-loaded fuel tanks -- which would soon explode on impact and utterly destroy the world-famous Twin Towers of downtown Manhattan's World Trade Center. Boom! Boom! Just like that.

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive "figurehead" -- or even dead, for all we know -- but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper.

Nothing -- even George Bush's $350 billion "Star Wars" missile defense system -- could have prevented Tuesday's attack, and it cost next to nothing to pull off. Fewer than 20 unarmed Suicide soldiers from some apparently primitive country somewhere on the other side of the world took out the World Trade Center and half the Pentagon with three quick and costless strikes on one day. The efficiency of it was terrifying.

We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won't hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.

Good luck. He is in for a profoundly difficult job -- armed as he is with no credible Military Intelligence, no witnesses and only the ghost of Bin Laden to blame for the tragedy.

OK. It is 24 hours later now, and we are not getting much information about the Five Ws of this thing. The numbers out of the Pentagon are baffling, as if Military Censorship has already been imposed on the media. It is ominous. The only news on TV comes from weeping victims and ignorant speculators.

The lid is on. Loose Lips Sink Ships. Don't say anything that might give aid to The Enemy.'

-- Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Friday, 18 September 2009

A night to remember

September 2006, Bangkok.

The air was thick like a winter duvet, full of leaded bus fumes. Mushroom clouds of black smoke bellowed from speeding Tuk-Tuks, dancing manically between the lanes. There was a conspicuous lack of people on the ground and I began to sense that something was not quite right. Ghost like figures floated past me with an urgency in their stride and a seriousness etched on their facial expressions.

Political riots are common in this city, so concerned; I stopped a commuter to find out the story.

"Is everything OK in the city tonight?” I asked her directly.

"Go back to wherever you are staying, this is not a good night to be walking on the streets” she said with a forceful air.

The ladies tone and lack of explanation left me in a mentally strange place; confusion and perplexity made my mind fizz with thoughts and images of homicidal craziness. I had to make a decision. This was not something that I felt could be made out on the street. The atmosphere was feeling sourer by the minute, like an acidic wind was howling down the intersection.

I needed a drink, so bounced into an adjacent gay bar for deliberation.

The bar was a standard Thai gay bar. Tables of all ages, struggling to connect thought the repetitious din of 4/4 dance music, with a few pouting lady boys roaming the room, making eyes with men in suits. It was a sleazy and dirty sight to behold, but this was no time for moral judgments.

I knocked back a beer and decided to have a large whiskey before I went back to my hotel. As I starred around the bar, men with dresses and eye shadow, chattered incessantly.

I stopped a waiter and spoke in Thai.

"Could you tell me what is going on outside?”

"Bad men fight – you go.” He replied with a cheeky grin; his sparkling eye lashes flashing under the roaming strobe.

I don’t know whether it was the waiter’s nonchalance, or a sudden burst of paranoia, but I knew I had to get out of there quick. A sea of mist descended on my thought process, making coherent evaluation impossible: it was time to go.

Gathering up my belongings I paid and made my way to the exit, passing strange gender benders; some groping at me on my way past. This was not a good place to be, like some weird acid flashback. I had my eyes g-clamped on the finishing line, my vision was blurred and my head spinning with dark thoughts.

Suddenly, the doors of the bar flung open and in marched men in uniforms. The rigid expressions on their faces told me immediately that this was no ‘men in uniform’ night; these monkey men meant business.

As the thoughts of a washroom window escape flashed through my mind, I was startled out of my trance by a megaphone.

"Martial law is in effect. You have thirty minutes to get home. Anyone seen on the streets after this will be shot."

This guy was not playing games, he was serious. My insides felt like a worn out mangle and my head as if a tumor was threatening to hemorrhage.

As the imperious messages were repeated from the megaphone, I composed myself and made my way out onto the street. Scores of anxious people tried to work out how they would make it home before the military asserted themselves.

In front of me the huge highway opened out. To the right were armored tanks with manned turrets and machine guns pointing in my direction. Swarms of military, heavily armed, were marching towards me - impenetrable lines of khaki.

I remember having what felt like a meltdown. Thoughts of capture, torture, hostage videos, and the Bangkok Hilton. (Notorious Thai jail) were flooding my consciousness.
There was only one option available: run very quickly in the opposite direction and hitch a ride on a Tuk-Tuk before martial law took affect.

I ran and didn’t stop for what felt like an hour. My lungs were burning and my eyes stung in the polluted chaos. Luckily, a multi-coloured Tuk-Tuk pulled up, the driver stuck his head out and said, “Where you go?”

I returned to my hotel disheveled and badly shook up. Luckily, the convenience shop was open downstairs and I bought a bottle of gin to unwind in the room.

After pouring a pint of Gin and tonic I laid down on the bed and switched on the television.

All the channels showed the same looped military video.

I had been caught in the middle of a revolution and had narrowly made it out alive.

People were being butchered on the streets as I lay and drank super human strength cocktails.

Gill Scott Heron came to my melting mind.

'The revolution will not be televised.'

And here I was in Bangkok, watching it unfold on the box.


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Here is an ambient mix from the black dog, the 2nd of a 12 part podcast series they're doing. I'm a big fan of mixes like this that show a different side to an artist. In this sense, it reminds me a bit of Cio's 'on clouds' mix. Anyway, it struck me as something worth sharing in blogland.

For all the hardcore audiophiles.

I should warn you that it is unfortunately only 128kbps.


01. Intrusion - Under The Ocean - Echospace [detroit]
02. Intrusion - Static Waves - Echospace [detroit]
03. Louderbach - Autumn - Minus
04. Terry Riley - Poppy No Good - Rough Trade
05. Robin Rimbaud - Sans Soleil - Bine
06. Peter Broderick - Music for Falling from Trees, Pt. 3_ Pill Induced Slumber - Erased Tapes
07. Peter Broderick - Music for Falling from Trees, Pt. 6_ Electroconvulsive Shock - Erased Tapes
08. Stars Of The Lid - Hiberner Toujours - Kranky
09. Robin Rimbaud - Anna Livia Plurabelle - Bine
10. Peter Broderick - A Glacier - Erased Tapes
11. White Rainbow - April 25th 11.14PM - Kranky
12. The Black Dog - Plinth (Tones) - Soma
13. The Black Dog - Plinth (Beatless) - Soma

have a good sunday people.