Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Genetic gentrification and rose tinted memories of the Northeasts human scrapyards.

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Time,,,,,,,, time, longevity and all things temporal. Those are the things that have been piquing my interest this week. Now the traditional mode of temporality is usually defined as 'a linear procession of past, present, future.' However, who is to say that this commonly acknowledged formula is the same for everyone? After all, we're told in school and church from the very youngest age that 'God created the heaven and the Earth and all things therein in 7 days,' and still had time to kick back and have a roast on the 7th day. Now by any measure that's some going! We all know that the lads got a good engine on him like a kind of celestial Nemanja Matic, an omnipotent midfield dynamo all full of hustle, box to box from the first to last whistle and all that, but 7 days? Whats to say that one of Gods days wasn't a hundred, a thousand or even a million of our years? Relatively speaking the increments of measuring time have been argued over by every sect and religion since the beginning of,,, well,,, er,, time. Which brings me untidily to my point. The particular facet of time and it's measurement I've suddenly found rammed in my face is that of geniality and heritage. The amount of websites and magazine advertising now taken up with people who profess to be able to trace back your ancestry. Why do they do it? And more importantly, why do so many people come to the North in search of their ancestors who are, to them, no more than names. It seems like the North East of England, in particular Northumberland is second only to Scotland for people tracing their humble working class routes, it's as though we were the master default switch on every genealogists computer. They come in droves, always middle class, dressed is brand new yellow cagoules and expensive walking boots to pour over all but illegible copper plate and parrish registers with scant regard for the damage inflicted on their eyes. They scrape the lichen from headstones in Alnwick. They walk beside tiny streams in Morpeth where someone with rickets who two century's ago happened to share 100% of their Mothers surname and 1.575 of their DNA may, just may have walked in inadequate foot ware. What is wrong with them? What is the current obsession with 'Roots'? You could say it's a lot to do with the Catalans and Basques. They, like Northerners have always been people who's main contribution has been human export. Brain, muscle and sinew for hire. From the Newcastle and Durham miners who selflessly went to fight Franco's annexing of Barcelona to Northern Women chucking themselves under the Queens horse's, spoiling Royal Ascot in search of the vote.
There has always seemed to be a Northerner of some gender at the front of the mob to throw the first brick. Some may say that this is a classic example of Northern ignorance and belligerence but I'd rather mark it down as a steadfast commitment to the cause. There's always been a culture of strong left wing political identity in the North as well as the more publicised intolerance and racism we're so often accused of. But this strong identity and working ethic displayed in our grand parents and their parents has always been the main driving force for Northern people leave here in search of a bigger stage and of a living wage and the chance of material improvement. That's why we have these middle class, Sunday afternoon family tree enthusiasts bothering our beer gardens of a weekend. It's largely a matter of economical survival, their ancestors made a hard-nosed decision to leave and their descendants make the soft-nosed decision to come back and claim some Northern heritage by proxy. The stuff in their veins is blood group 'Wey-aye' and when they bleed they bleed a coal and Brown Ale mix. The internet has been a boom for both pornography and genealogists, unsurprisingly as the fundamental principle for both is the same, incremental. There must always be more. More participants, more contortion, more Grand Parents, more second cousins. It's not enough to trace back 2 or 3 generations. They need to find the rusty pick axe that their great grandfather 14 times removed used to cut the first lump of coal out of Durhams first coal face. All the while telling themselves the lie of the 'good old days'. Now as corrupt as the Northern vernacular has become, we have the good fortune to speak a form of the English language which, unlike Arabic or Sicilian, has a future tense. Why not concentrate on the regeneration in the area, of the quayside and Ouesburn in Newcastle, the award winning Baltic Art Gallery, the Sage Buildings or the Millennium Bridge rather than the rose tinted-half remembered, tiresome tales of young northern scamps and the elaborate comic ruses created to prevent their angry mothers from discovering their chronic truancy. These to me are far less interesting. Yet still people insist on concentrating on coo-ing over scratchy-sepia toned pictures of kids in flat caps and tatty knee length trousers holding onto ropes attached to malnourished pit ponies. Remember, there is another North East, vital, living, untarnished places with energy and a greater delight. Places with no quasi Victorian-ancestral claim on us. Where the yolk of a ready made collective history is absent. One that we can talk of in the future perfect rather than the past historic. Places where we can choose to go towards rather than come from. Places with potential, where anything is possible, where everything is waiting to happen.
That's all for now. But how long is now?

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X

Friday, 25 September 2015

An open letter to the writers of open letters.

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To those who feel compelled to address the world from Facebook, Twitter, and email chains, here is a message: No one is listening, least of all Luther Vandross.
We need to have a talk, under the illusion of its taking place in private but actually for anyone to read. Also, the talk will be unilateral and you will never respond to it. Ready? It doesn’t matter, because I’m not listening to you!

The practice of writing open letters must stop. I agree, it was a creative form back in the days of the Bible, and was used effectively throughout history by such figures as Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, and Luther Vandross.

But now every John, Dick, and Luther with internet access can write an open letter for potentially everyone to read, and most of our discourse is already public (I actually originated that last phrase in 1996, which is no. 8 on my list of 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me, just after no. 7—“I murdered a man in Laos on 6/19/2002 and have never been apprehended.”) Writers of open letters, it’s time, for the following reasons, to retire the form, one as hackneyed as the enumeration of arguments through bullet points:

• First, there’s the arrogance of presuming that your letter will really be read by the public, not to mention the greater hubris of signing the letter with your location and date, as if the act of writing it is a historic event whose place and time we must note for the ages. Chances are, no fucker cares enough about the issue to read it, so people end up shamelessly larding their letters with search-engine-friendly phrases like, oh, I don’t know, 'Justin Bieber haircut', 'Angelina Jolie nude' and 'Did Luther Vandross ever really write an open letter? He didn’t, right? It was just a joke, like I thought at first wasn't it?'

• Intervention by letter is an emotionally unhealthy way to address something. If you’re upset about something, therapists often do recommend writing a letter to the person who has upset you — but not sending it. You reap all the benefits of self-expression without the interpersonal conflict. Is it really worth expressing your frustration over VW's fixing of their emmissions stats to have an awkward encounter the next time you run into their CEO, Martin Winterkorn in Asda?

• Speaking of the mega rich, a few people or entities to whom there should be an immediate moratorium on writing open letters: Primeministers; the High Court; billionaires. They are too busy and important to ever read it, except for Richard Branson, because he’s so insecure he has a Google alert set up for his name.

If you absolutely must write an open letter, at least conform to a few tropes of real letter-writing, such as mixing in breezy updates about your own life. For example, in an open letter to Nigel Farage, you might write, “In conclusion, sir, I, for one, am extremely grateful you and your party are doing a great job in showing what a bunch of absolute retards you are as I find morally reprehensible each and every one of your doctrines. P.S. By the way, last night, Sheila and I watched 'The Muppet Show'. We both thought of you!

I would also call for a ban on the short semi-open letter that’s taken root on Facebook and Twitter, such as 'Tuesday afternoons, why are you so interminable?' or 'Oh, Downton Abbey, how I love you,” or 'Dear Luther Vandross, did you ever write an open letter? Also I wonder what music you’d be making now if you hadn’t died in 2005.'

Writers of open letters, since you’ve read to the end of this letter and haven’t rebutted me, I assume you’re in agreement and, therefore, the matter can be considered officially closed.

Yours in meta-openness,
Mark. X

P.S. Due to Soundcloud being a bit shit and regularly disabling mixes due to copyright infringements, we've recently set up a brand new profile over ar 'HearThis.at' to archive all of our podcasts complete with the ability to download them. So click the link and pop across and follow us there. X

Monday, 21 September 2015

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again. "

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Unless you've been living under a rock - or simply went to bed early - news broke last night that our Prime Minister, Mr D. Cameron of 10 Downing Street in that there London, got up to some particularly iffy stuff with some unprocessed bacon in his youth. Only now that the internet's bewilderment has begun to subside and the smoke clear can we evaluate the impact of his alleged fumbles with a dead farmyard animal and what it means for his future. Now David Cameron has been accused of being many things during his tenure as leader of this country – but 'Pigfucker' is the latest allegation to be thrown his way. The former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party (and Dave's mortal enemy, kind of a Skeletor to Cameron’s self appointed 'He Man') Lord Ashcroft has written a biography titled 'Call Me Dave'. Now this isn't a book I have or ever intend reading so I have to admit that my knowledge of it's contents is entirely vicarious but from what I can gather it reportedly places a seedy filter over the lens of the PM’s less-than-impressive behaviour at university, with allegations of drug use, trashing restaurants and now, inserting genitalia into a pig’s mouth as part of an initiation process. The story has been recounted by a yet to be identified associate of Dave's who is also an MP. It apparently all went down on a night out with the Piers Gaveston society (a notorious Oxford dining club) when as part of a bizarre initiation ceremony a prospective member (in this case Mr. Cameron) was required to lob his old chap into a dead pigs gob. That the dead pigs head was resting in the lap of another member when Dave decided to pop his own member into it is yet to be confirmed but apparently there is a photograph of it but that's yet to surface. The book also claims that Cameron smoked a bunch of weed at college and hung out with James Delligpole and listened to a lot of Supertramp, and to make themselves sound even cooler they called themselves the 'Falm Club'. Now not to defend Cameron but smoking a bit of weed isn't a big deal. I'm pretty sure that everyone reading this has done it I think it's probably more of a big deal why he felt the need to give the most mundane and common activities like smoking weed and going out for dinner ridiculously extravagant names by turning them into clubs or societies. The fucking pretentious dickhead.
But to inject a bit of context into the pig-tale, Lord Ashcroft is a New Zealand born billionaire who pumped £8 million into the Conservative party and served as a former party treasurer to the Tories up until 2010 and was once
firm friends with Cameron. Now this is where things get sticky, Lord Ashcroft was promised a job by David Cameron, once he was victorious in the 2010 election but things didn’t quite work out that way. It was soon revealed that Mr Ashcroft had not paid taxes on his UK overseas earnings in which David Cameron claimed to have had no idea about. Ashcroft, begged to differ stating the Tory leader was aware of the situation from 2009. Now a single, anonymous source and an unverified photo is hardly rock solid evidence. Especially in an unauthorised biography from a man who has very publicly fallen out with Cameron before the last election. However none of that stopped the internet chasing the comedy with the now inevitable/tedious spoof Twitter and Facebook accounts springing up seconds after the story leaked. If you can actually be bothered to navigate your way through all the gloating and ribaldry, there are a few top drawer gags to be had though. Now for Cameron and his spin doctors this is actually quite a serioss pickle, especially this talk of photographic evidence, and however unlikely that might be, a denial is therefore risky without complete confidence there’s no way any such thing happened. In this sort of scenario, you really don’t want to be caught telling, ahem, porkies. There are also valuable social benefits to the news. It’s Monday evening and it’s been revealed – David Cameron might have put his dick in a dead pig’s mouth, meaning that there’s way more to talk about at the water cooler or in the pub than usual. Do say: "Whoa, have you heard that the Prime Minister has been accused of sticking his dick in a dead pig’s mouth? Weird, right?" Don’t say: "Have you ever fucked a dead pig? Till next time.
Big love.
Mark. X

Friday, 18 September 2015

Thoughts On Love And Smoking podcast series: #2 Mozhgan (We Are Monsters)

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For the second installment in our podcast series we're delighted to be able to bring you an absolutely brilliant mix from one of the shining lights of the San Francisco scene. 'We Are Monsters' resident, Mozhgan. Draining the fevered sweat from San Frans' underbelly since 2011, the 'We Are Monsters' crew of Solar, Jason Greer and Mozhgan have all been described as a 'best kept secret' of sorts, tag now however that is becoming wholly inappropriate given their current rise. All can now be found playing across Europe's summer festival season with spots at the likes of Dekmantel and Croatia's Garden Party as well as the Sunset Campout parties in California and further afield, serving up top shelf beats ranging from odd disco excursions over analogue jams to cold wave synths and louche Italo and anything that tickles their fancies.
Mozhgan is most definitely DJ who expresses and exercises his/her freedom. Going many places,touching on many genres, telling endless musical stories. For great DJ's, knowing music doesn't mean specialising in one particular style, far from it! It's about creating a trans-generational, genre-unspecific and more versatile sound. A truly cosmic perspective tapping into a wider spectrum of influences. Comfortable throwing together sets which touch base with everything from dub, disco, afro, techno, rock and industrial sounds, it's these ideas that mark Mozhgan out as a truly great selector and the reason we were so happy she so readily agreed to contribute this mix to our series . Anyway, that's enough of our rabbiting on, we highly recommend that you check out her Soundcloud here for a bunch of other great mixes too but before then, sit back, press play and turn. It. UP. X

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X