Racists On Facebook

So, I’m scrolling through my newsfeed and I read this “joke” above that’s actually the most sick, dehumanising racism which *two* of my white “friends” have liked.

What the fuck?

I post it up, call them out and instantly another white male leaps to their defense, saying that I need “to chill” and that he “needs context” for the original post.

Oh, okay. Thank you, white man, for setting me straight! Thank you SO MUCH! I just got over-emotional, like so many of us brown people do, thank you for bringing white justice and rationality back to the discourse. Thank you for civilising me, sahib!

It’s getting to the stage with white people where there’s only a handful that I can actually trust in any way and that’s because I know they’re communists, anarchists or socialists. The great mass of apolitical / Tory white people, well, they’re turning out to be openly, proudly racist. They don’t even question their racism, the same as with their sexism, ableism or homophobia.

And, yet again, this shows why I hate Facebook. You end up being part of a set of connections which are actually anathema to you, it’s inevitable. And then everyone starts whitesplaining away every day racism should you dare to stand up for your human rights.

UPDATE  – I’ve had to deactivate my FB account now because I’m getting random messages from racists.

Kraftwerk Live!

Last night, I saw Kraftwerk live at the Theatre Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham. The whole evening was surreal for me as I veered between awe, sadness and happy lost-in-popness. I went with my mate Nate and you can see us above, looking AMAZING.

As a slight background; Kraftwerk have been my favourite band since 1981. That was the year a 15-year-old me bought their then-new album Computer World and played the shit out of it. I played that fucking album a million billion times. I played it and played it and played it and then I really played it. I  home taped that album (casually contributing to KILLING ALL MUSIC) and then played it on my boombox at school during playtimes and lunchtimes. I took that same tape on holiday with me on our family holiday to Denmark that year. Even now, my Mum calls Kraftwerk ‘that Danish music,’ so much did I terrorise her with their numinous de-construction of production-based meta theories. I suspected (hoped) they were actual androids and imagined their live shows as being a row of four R. Daneel Olivaws getting funky with Casios. I told everyone how Kraftwerk were the best band in the world and they were obviously idiots if they couldn’t see that.

I was to Kraftwerk as Gabriel is to the Abrahamic God.

In the thirty-six years that have passed since then, my teenage zealotry has been gradually subsumed by an adult, deep, noble love. I’m talking about the love most people have for their geographical place of birth / nurture, the love a lot of people seem to have for their sports team or perhaps the love some people have for shiny, expensive cars. I have none of those loves, possibly because the gaps they should have slotted into were already filled by  a band of classically-trained German hippies who decided to cut their hair and get into telling the world that an electronic revolution was here.

Now, here’s me, sitting in a seat with Kraftwerk on stage and they start and Numbers booms out. The sparse economy of Kraftwerk is a fitting way to begin the show – this is a band that will always prefer to leave a gap, to preserve possibly ambiguities rather than laboriously block in every possible interpretation. As the massed Speak’n’Spells croak their way through a particularly bleak episode of Sesame Street, I’m fifteen again and watching cool kids pop and lock to Kraftwerk. I mean, I was never cool like that myself but, hey, I knew this cool band that the breakers all knew! And though they all loved Numbers, they absolutely lost their shit when Tour De France came out as a single a couple of years later.

Live, Kraftwerk are Kraftwerk. If you were expecting a rock band performance, if you were expecting avuncular audience interaction and sweat being flung from the furrowed brow of tortured genius, this isn’t the band for you. Kraftwerk is four old white German blokes dressed like Black Suit Spidey fans who stand mostly immobile behind Tronned lecterns holding, presumably, keyboards and other musical modifiers. I say presumably because we never get to peek. During all the amazing 3D visuals that backed the show, I was often left longing for a simple, 2D downwards view of Kraftwerk the band playing live (which Nat echoed). But my inner robot knows that atavistic desire is a wayward product of rockism, it is a desire to witness live rockn’roll authenticity and authority, to be able to issue some horrific cliche like ‘DUDE, THOSE GUYS CAN REALLY SHRED,’ which is, of course, antithetical to everything Kraftwerk are or ever have been. As if to kick us in our bits with this, Kraftwerk send out their actual robots for the first encore and we, the audience, applaud. Where else is an audience going to applaud four mannequins miming to a backing track while the band themselves have a little break and probably some kind of isotonic sports drink backstage?

But I get ahead of myself… where were we? Oh yeah – the first song! Well, shit, I’m not going to write about every song they played because you’d get bored and I’d get even fatter but, long story short, they fucked rocked the joint.

It’s peculiar that such an arty, defiantly avant-garde band can basically play a greatest hits set but that’s what Kraftwerk delivered. Numbers, Computer Love (as heard by non-fans from its Coldplay pilferage), The Model, Tour De France, Trans Europe Express, Autobahn… Surely Kraftwerk are the best-known obscure band in pop history?

When they play Computer Love,  I manage not to cry, though I so want to as this song is an entire world for me. The bittersweet synth counter melodies weave around the central plaintive vocals and I have to remind myself, yet again, that this song was released eleven fucking years before the web was invented, more than three decades before Ok Cupid was invented, before Tinder or any of the other places lonely humans gather online. And yet… Kraftwerk have caught the core solitude of technology, the interpenetraion of its oppositional effects, simultaneously atomising us whilst teasing us with the possibility of connection, of sex, of love. Live… I had to close my eyes and miss a lot of the 3D graphics going on because it was a little too much for me, a little too close to home.

The feel of the gig was mostly celebratory, the audience was open and down for whatever and Kraftwerk took that energy, playing a lot of newer stuff that maybe only hardcore fans would love. But I love Revenge of the Sith and The Empire Strikes Back so I’m fine with that. The biggest change in emotion was when they played Radioactivity. It’s a huge track of theirs but the fact they’ve kept it current over the years, adding lyrics that weren’t in the original really punched me in the gut live. As a fan, you like that attention to the now, as a living human being who doesn’t want to die of cancer, you sincerely hope that nothing newer than Fukushima will ever be added to the litany of the infamous. This song live did actually make me cry so that’s a big fuck you to all the paper-thin dullards who stereotype Kraftwerk as cold or unfeeling. Kraftwerk aren’t some joke post-modern band, they are engaged in explaining and changing the world.

The Model arrived and it’s their Teen Spirit, it’s their 99 Problems. It’s a short, sharp, stab of a pop song aimed at so many social constructs that to dissect it would be a dissertation in itself. It’s so heavy live and so utterly MELODIC. Kraftwerk know a good fucking riff when they hear one and they’re not afraid to let it strut as long as everyone knows that they know what’s going on. The version I heard last night is still in my ears as it was so heavy, so powerful and so glitteringly acidic. The live swagger of it all was real and funny and impressive and “WHAT?” all at once; pure Kraftwerk.

Then they finish and we all want more and so the cheeky scamps send on their metal doppelgängers, as seen above and we all love it because we get it. This gig is as much a commentary on gigs, on rock, on showbiz as it is a gig itself. Look at us – we’re applauding insensate simulacra of human beings. But, if you’ve seen as many gigs as I have, you quickly realise that you’ve been doing that a lot. The robots on stage are more animated than many bands I’ve seen mid-tour, glass-eyed and with the name of whatever city they’re playing written down so they don’t get it wrong. Kraftwerk at least have the élan to be open about what rock touring is. What was that Baudrillard said about Disneyland and America?

When the actual, real end of the show comes, Kraftwerk file off stage one by one, each taking a bow and we clap and whoop because these workers produced an excellent product: one gig, funny, sad, huge, tiny and meeting all relevant ISO standards. We love Hilpert, Schmitz and Grieffenhagen but before Hütter takes his bow, we get really fucking emotional. People get up and start dancing, not wanting the end to come. I asked Nat her thoughts on the gig today and she said she wished she could have danced. For a band who practically invented all modern electronic dance music, it was a crime that we were confined to our seats!

When Ralf takes his bow, I’m crying again. Because, yeah, he’s the last original member of Kraftwerk but also because Kraftwerk are still going, still relevant and still playing shows where they connect to an audience on a multiplicity of levels.

Kraftwerk remain the perfect pop art, pop/art and Pop Art band. They use the everyday things of life, the apparently mundane, to show that meaning is extrinsic but beauty is immanent. In Kraftwerk’s hands, a bald list of nuclear spills becomes a wrenching condemnation of human hubris. In Kraftwerk’s hands, the minutiae of competitive cycling become as sacred as prayers. Their recorded work is the most important and influential output of 20th century music. To see them live is to feel that work breathe and move, to have a personal connection to something of unreadable depth.

Go see them, while you can. And please, for fuck’s sake, yell and shout and dance.

Posted in Gig

Election 2017

Rob and Nat came over to hang out for ELECTION FEVER NIGHT. When we called it a night, it was with trepidation of what the morning would bring.

Well, JOY TO THE WORLD! Theresa May is FUCKED! It’s a hung parliament, she’s having to run round in dark corners making shady deals with extremist nutters the DUP.

Make no mistake this result is a victory for democratic socialism. Yes, an outright Labour majority is the dream but that was nigh-on impossible thanks to the vitriolic campaign the entire British media has carried out against Corbyn. Calumny upon calumny from the Sun and The Daily Mail on the right, to the lies of Laura Kuenssberg and the vacillations of supposed left-wing Guardian. When they weren’t inventing anti-Semitic scandals, they were repeatedly asking Labour MPs if he should resign.

The entire British mass media, every single part of it was anti-Corbyn.

Look at those fuckers now. Look at them bending over backwards to try to reconcile themselves with the fact that Corbyn is more popular than Blair ever was. Tens of thousands of young people have joined the Labour Party because of Corbyn’s leadership and this election consequently had a youth voter turnout of 70%.

Labour won CANTERBURY for fuck’s sake. CANTERBURY, previously solid Tory for 99 years! 

More than any other divisions, this was an election of old versus young, of hatred versus hope. This is what none of the old mass media have understood and this is also why they are so surprised that their predictions, which normally shape voting patterns, have been ignored. This election, more than even the Brexit referendum, has been influenced more by social media than old media.

I’ve been watching telly all morning and ever channel is basically old people (all the presenters) acting very surprised and wondering how this all happened when they were telling everyone what a liability Corbyn was. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE LISTEN? DAMN KIDS WITH THEIR POKEMONS AND THEIR SELFIES AND THEIR HIPPITY HOP.

If I had a penny for every time a political pundit has said ‘Corbyn has confounded expectations’… well, I’d be rich enough to vote Tory. Whose expectations? Not mine – I’ve been for Corbyn all along, all through the mud-slinging the Tories and their tame mass media engaged in.

I am so happy today. Next to an outright Labour win, this is the best result in decades. Jeremy Corbyn stands vindicated. He’s survived the Blairite scum, survived two years of media vilification and won 40% of the vote.

Not bad for a ‘liability’ leader, eh?

Class Hatred

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-clegg-conservative-school-funding-cuts-children-lose-free-hot-lunches-election-2017-tory-a7742131.html

I feel I’m drifting towards ulta-left unreasoning class hatred. The latest news about May cutting school meals for poor kids – how can someone be so utterly fucking evil? These are the kids at the very bottom of society. Often, their school dinner may be the one proper meal they have a day.

And the Tories… they hold these kids in utter contempt.

You’re meant to drift rightwards as you age but the older I get, the more amazed I am at the sheer fuckery of Tories and Republicans, the total, open *evil* they seem proud to espouse.

But I’m a Marxist, a scientific socialist. Marxists are the Vulcans of the socialist / communist world. We aren’t terrorists (kill one Tory, another just steps in to replace them, no change), we aren’t utopians (please, Mr. Branson, do the right thing and nationalise yourself, ta!) and we most definitely aren’t reformists.

We have the work of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky to draw upon as well as their numerous contemporaries and successors. We have a core understanding of how society works that is now shared by most humans ~ whether they admit it or not, most humans alive believe their place in the world is more determined by their material conditions than spiritual pre-disposition. The globalisation of capitalism has forced that unpleasant truth on them.

I’m gonna take my anger and put it into more serious political work. I obviously need to read more, raise my theoretical level as well as engage in discourse with opponents who aren’t 17yo Meninist fuckwads that haven’t even read one page of actual politics.

The fucking Tories. They have to go. We have to vote those motherfuckers out.

Loneliness

Isn’t it crazy how many of us are lonely?

Not just occasionally, a bit in-need-of-company, at-a-loose-end kind of lonely but deep, existential loneliness.

I had an old friend round a while ago. I actually had to ask him if some of my memories of my first girlfriend were true. They’re so long ago and I’ve remembered them so many times, they don’t feel real to me any more, it feels more like remembering a film I’ve watched rather than my own life. But, no, he confirmed I hadn’t gone full-on Ben Gunn, she did exist and all that crazy shit did, in fact, happen. Also, she was as beautiful as I remember. Go me!

Loneliness is insidious. I’ve been single for nine years now, the longest in my adult life. The only way I cope is to treat the loneliness like a monster in the corner of my room; I don’t look at it, I pretend it’s not there and in return it doesn’t claw me to death.

Mostly, this deal works. I can get on with pretending to be an adult (which… shh… is what every adult does, kids) and I’m not screaming inside for more than an hour or two a day. That gives me enough time to do my tax stuff, run my label, write songs, buy synths I don’t need from eBay. Last week, I even managed to exercise without drifting off into blue funks of reverie. I know!

Other days… well, I look in the corner.

And before I know it, I’m swamped with memories of being loved and cared for, of spooning someone in bed, of the house not being half-empty as it has been for years now. There is nothing as beautiful as the improvised little tunes your wife sings absentmindedly as she potters around the house. Nothing in the entire universe.

Today is a bad day. Today, I could really do with hugs and comforting and feeling at least not ugly for a while. But, this being real life, that’s not going to happen. Like all of us who are profoundly lonely, I’ll just have to grit my teeth and get through another day as best I can.

If you’re reading this and identify with the feeling, please know that, ironically, you aren’t alone in your loneliness. You aren’t weird or bizarre or defective. Millions of humans feel like you do.

On Racists And Sea Lions

The ignorance of some white people just staggers me. If anyone raises racism or cultural appropriation, they immediately flip into full-on sea lion mode or, even worse, into dismissive troll mode.

Here’s how I see it:

Imagine I’m in a public space, say waiting in line at a cafe. Someone prods me and says, “Ow! You’re standing on my foot!” Well, the first thing I do is move / check my feet before apologising for being so careless. And, from then on, I’m more mindful of where I stand.

HOWEVER if I acted like white people do on Facebook…

I’m in line. Someone prods me and says “Ow! You’re standing on my foot!” I don’t check if I am, I ask them how they know it’s my foot. I ask them to explain what the words “foot” and “standing” mean, aggressively, again and again. If they link me to explanations, I ignore them and then demand definitions of words like “my” or “you.” Or, I might just laugh in their face and say, “HAH! TOUGH SHIT! SHOULDN’T HAVE PUT YOUR PUT THERE! HAVE I ‘TRIGGERED’ YOU, SNOWKFLAKE?” I tell them to ‘grow a pair,’ and that it’s not my fault if I’m causing them pain, it’s all in their heads and that they have a ‘victim complex.’

Do you see the difference?

Look, I’m a cis, straight man. I hold considerable privilege in areas of gender and sexuality. I am prejudiced, I am sexist because that’s the culture I’ve been raised in. BUT I try not to be. If I ever offend someone, I feel awful and try to understand the mistake I made. Because I know it will probably be my fault and lack of perspective behind it all.

Is it that fucking hard to just be a decent human being, ffs?

The Last Ever Episode Of Grimm

I watched the first ever episode of Grimm.

And just now I watched the last ever ep.

I feel soo sad now that I’ll never experience new eps of this universe again, the same as I feel about Falling Skies, Continuum, Warehouse 13, Eureka, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dollhouse and sooo many more.

On the one hand, I’m glad we got more than Firefly or Caprica. On the other, I still think there are great stories to be told in the Grimmverse. It was such a cleverly written and plotted series and the ensemble of actors rolled with it, made it all seem real.

Grimm was always tight and snappy, never bloated and labouring, a rare joy in these days of rampant Netflixitis. We had arcs in seasons, across seasons, characters going from bad to good, good to bad; I loved all that unpredictability.

Above all, Grimm had this finely-honed humour that even when the darkest shit would be going on, someone would pop up (maybe Wu, maybe Hank, often Monroe, bless him) and say something to give it a twist. Which made it all more believable! Life isn’t un-relenting horror, even in the most horrible moments, incongrous, ridiculous things leap out and slap you in the face. The Absurd is a good friend of Death.

Thank you to all the actors of Grimm for giving me a whole set of people to love and hate and cheer and chide. Thank you to the writers for making up sooo many awesome Monster Of The Week stories *and* extending the universe with the myth of the Grimms, Wesen et al. Thank you to all the crew and tech peeps and animators and sound fx and grips and whoever else made it all happen.

Give yourself a pat on the back when you look at what you made. You made something special that entertained and connected with millions of viewers.

We love you, Grimm!

Posted in TV

When Is A Terrorist Not A Terrorist? When He’s White!

A man has been found guilty of trying to cause “maximum damage” by making a bomb filled with ball bearings and leaving it on a Tube train.

Damon Smith put his homemade device into a rucksack and left it on a Jubilee line train in October.

The 20-year-old had admitted perpetrating a bomb hoax but claimed it was a prank.

Had it worked, the bomb would have exploded just as commuters were leaving the North Greenwich station platform.

And in today’s white privilege news…

White man builds bomb filled with shrapnel, designed to cause maximum damage.

White media: IT WAS A PRANK. HE’S AUTISTIC. A LONE WOLF.

This isn’t terrorism. Nope. Not in any way. Even though he deliberately set out to cause terror by killing and maiming as many civilians as possible.

If he had been brown:

We would not know his mental history.

We would not be calling this a prank.

We would be calling this a terrorist plot. 

Peter Kay’s Car Share

The quiet genius of Peter Kay reaches perhaps its purest expression in Car Share.

Nothing happens. It’s just two coworkers sharing a car to work. And back. That’s it. Nothing bloody happens.

And that nothing is everything.

Kay is better than Beckett, better than Bennett, better than Camus. There is not a wasted word, every interaction is absolutely essential and completely fucking pointless. Morrissey is a mere cack-handed amateur compared to the gentle precision of Kay’s exposition on this corner of British culture.

These tiny exchanges are so silly, they are eerily perfect:

“I can’t wait to hit the free bar!”

“What you on about? There’s no free bar!”

“There was a free bar last year!”

“NO THERE WASN’T!”

“Well… no-one stopped me… “

The other beautiful thing about Car Share is its pure adoration of pop music. Car Share understands the beauty in the ephemerality of pop music. At the minute, I’m watching a whole conversation about Crazy Frog’s weird little penis. It is brilliant. They also stage musical numbers so this is as much musical TV as Glee was but that’s the only thing the shows have in common; Kay is a total auteur and the comedy in Car Share is both way sharper and more real than the committee-written jokes of Gles.

If you’ve never seen Car Share, check it out. It’s fucking mint.

Posted in TV