Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Paris, Ankara, Raqqa, Sinja, Bamko.

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A week on from the terrible events in Paris. What have we learned? Not a great deal as far as I can see. In fact, I'll rephrase that. What CAN we learn? We can't rationalise Islamic State, so instead we find ourselves lashing out at each other. What’s left to say about Paris? What further condemnation of Islamic State is possible?
A seemingly never ending stream of horror greats me every time I turn on a TV or pick up a news paper and as I type, there looks to be another horrific situation grimly unfolding in Mali.
Even before Friday’s massacre, news was emerging on most TV news channels from the town of Sinjar, liberated by the Kurds with US air support: Kurdish forces said they had discovered a mass grave, containing the bodies of Yazidi women the Islamic State forces considered too old to be used as sex slaves. Contemplate the layers of obscenity described in that last sentence, and then add the thought of the dozens of Parisiens executed for the crime of wanting to enjoy a Friday night out with friends and family, and yes, the Beirutis killed the same week for living in a “Shia neighbourhood”, the Russians hoping for some winter sun, the HDP supporters marching for peace and democracy in Ankara,,,,, on and on the list goes.
The pornographic, orgiastic nature of Islamic State makes it difficult for us to contemplate on rational terms, even to the point where imagining a military defeat of it seems impossible. While it is true that air strikes helped liberate Sinjar, there seems a curious abstraction to the idea that one acts against terror in Paris by bombing Raqqa. Francois Hollande’s announcement of a “massive” attack on the Islamic State’s “capital” has the feel of a revenge attack, to be classed alongside Reagan’s bombardment of Tripoli in 1986 after the Berlin disco bombing – which raises its own parallels and questions: is Islamic State a sponsor of international terror, like Gadaffi’s Libya or Saddam’s Iraq, or are these acts carried out as direct acts of war?
Meanwhile in the absence of any certainty about what we should do about the greater threat, we instead do what passes for political discussion in the west: we shout “hypocrite” at each other on the internet. Saddened by one event? Why weren’t you saddened by all the other events? (I can’t respond to every single event with a Twibbon: also, my empathy isn’t limited and this isn’t a contest).
Or we blame the media: “Why didn’t the press cover Ankara or Beirut the way they covered Paris?” asks Jeremy Corbyn among others. Here are a few reasons:

The Paris atrocity was different in nature to those in Beirut and Ankara, which were single-incident bombings as opposed to several simultaneous, rolling events across a city.

Simple proximity: I could stop typing right now, get on a train to Manchester, have dinner, do some light shopping, and be home for midnight. It takes the same amount of time to get there as it does to Paris from London. No one would complain about the London media covering a Newcastle atrocity more than a Beirut atrocity.

Europe, whether the hard left and hard right like it or not, is a real thing in people’s lives. That I relate strongly to people from EU countries does not mean I am oblivious to those outside it, but that we are people who share institutions, structures, political appointees etc. Even our passports carry some of the same words. There is a nationhood of sorts.

Events in Beirut, Ankara etc, were covered by diligent, hardworking foreign media. It’s not their fault if you didn’t develop ten different hashtags for the story.

The tremendous irony in complaining about the supposed lack of western media coverage of events such as the Beirut and Ankara bombings is that we are making the argument revolve, once more, around ourselves and our existing grievances. No matter: we are back in the comfort blanket of narcissism: this is about us: this is about things that we are familiar with, things we have some control over: The Stop The War Coalition rationalises by posting articles about how the rise of Islamic State is entirely the fault of “western interference”, as if Yazidi women are executed and pushed into mass graves at the orders of the Pentagon.
Or someone will point out that France had an imperial past, and many Algerians were killed, therefore – therefore something blah, blah. We’re back in charge, we get this. But we don’t. We don’t get it at all. We're sad and scared and angry and we don't get it at all.

Liberte, egalite, fraternite. Salam. X

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Thoughts On Love And Smoking podcast #4. Sacha Mambo (Macadam Mambo)

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I've been a big fan of the the man behind the Macadam Mambo record label for some time now. He, along with a handful of likeminded souls have quietly gone about their business in the last few years and shaped a distinctive sound of left-field techno and sonic textures well away from the usual playlists of 'chuggers' and 'deep house' which seem to be omnipresent now. Theirs is a soundtrack which veers from sub-zero, dubby post-punk to French pop oddities and Eastern European goth records. Warm guitars and cold synths. Ennui brought to sonic, danceable life. It's a 'movement', for want of a better word, which has certainly not gone unnoticed by top industry players, the press and last but not least, clubbers around Europe.
This spirit of adventure and lack of respect for genre which runs through Sacha's DJ sets as well as his output on record is showcased too on the the 'Macadam Mambo' imprint he co-runs alongside Guillaume des Bois.
The name refers to "Macadam Massacre" from the French punk band BĂ©rurier Noir and the title of a voodoo high priestess, Mambo. It first started out as a DJ collective to organize parties in Paris, then the equipe took the concept to Lyon. The parties eventually turned into a label and 5 years and dozens of releases later, Macadam Mambo has become a staple in many DJ bags across the world. As hard as it is to pin down, its sound is equal parts acid, dub, new beat and techno, it’s a trans-generational, cosmic work that reveals the versatile world of the french producer. As wild and unpredictable as his podcast here where he moves effortlessly between everything from oddball Euro Boogie, Caribbean synth bangers to flamenco tinged Italo. He's one of my very favourite selectors so expect GRANDE vibes!!

Sacha Mambo on Soundcloud.
Macadam Mambo on Soundcloud.
Macadam Mambo on Facebook.

Due to the increasingly strict takedown rules on podcasts and mixes over at Soundcloud we've now closed our account. But don't fret! We have migrated across to Hearthis.at so you can still download this as well as all of our previous podcasts by clicking on the link below and following us there. Pheew!

Till next time
Big love. Mark. X

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Knowledge is marrow. + Needle Exchange 10.

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The number of college bulletins and adult-education come-ons that keep turning up in my letterbox convinces me that I must be on a special mailing list for dropouts. Not that I'm complaining; there's something about a list of extension courses that piques my interest with a fascination hitherto reserved for a catalogue of Hong Kong honeymoon accessories, sent to me once by mistake. Each time I read through the latest bulletin of extension course, I make plans to drop everything and return to college. So far, however I am still an uneducated, unextended adult, and I have fallen into the habit of browsing through an imaginary, handsomely printed course prospectus that is more or less typical of them all;

Summer Session.
Economic Theory: A systematic application and critical evaluation of the basic analytic concepts of economic theory, with an emphasis on money and why it's good. Fixed coefficient production functions, cost and supply curves, and nonconvexity comprise the first term with the second term concentrating on spending, making change, and keeping a neat wallet. The British banking system is analyzed, and advanced students are coached in the proper method of filling out a deposit slip. Other topics include: Inflation and Depression - how to dress for each. Loans, interest and welching.

History Of European Civilisation: Ever since the discovery of a fossilised eohippus in the men's toilets at Mario's Cafe on Station Road in Ashington, it has been suspected that at one time Britain and Europe were connected by a thin plinth of land that later sank or became Blyth power station, or both.. This throws a new perspective on the formation of European society and enables historians and alcoholics to conjecture about why Europe sprang up in an area that would have made a far better Asia. Also studied in the course is the decision to hold the Renaissance in Italy.

Introduction To Psychology: The theory of human behaviour. Why some men are called 'lovely individuals' and why there are some others you just want to punch. Is there a split between mind and body, and, if so, which is better to have? Aggression and rebellion are discussed. (Students particularly interested in these aspects of psychology are advised to take one of these Winter Term courses; Introduction to Hostility; Intermediate Hostility; Advanced Hatred; Theoretical Foundations Of Loathing.)

Philosophy 1: Everyone from Plato to Camus is read, and the following topics are covered in depth.
Ethics: The categorical imperative and six ways to make great fish soup.
Aesthetics: Is art the mirror of life, or what?
Metaphysics: What happens to the soul after death? How does it manage?
Epistemology: Is knowledge knowable? If not, how do we know this?
The Absurd: Why existence is often considered silly, particularly for men who wear pointy shoes?
Manyness and Oneness are studied as they relate to Each-Otherness. (Students achieving this will move ahead to the next course, Twoness.)

Philosophy XXIX-B: Introduction to God. Confrontation with the creator of the universe through informal lectures and field trips.

The New Mathematics: Standard mathematics has recently been rendered obsolete by the discovery that for years we have been writing the numeral five backwards. This has led to a re-evaluation of counting as a method of getting from one to ten. Students are taught advanced concepts of Boolean Algebra and formerly unsolvable equations are delt with by threats of reprisals.

Fundamental Astronomy: A detailed study of the universe and it's care and cleaning. The sun, which is made of gas can explode at any moment, sending our entire planetary system hurtling to destruction; students are advised what the average citizen can do in such a case. They are also taught to identify various constellations, such as the Big Dipper, Cygnus The Swan, Sagittarius the Archer, and the twelve stars that form Lumidees the used car salesman.

Modern Biology: How the body functions and where it can usually be found. Blood is analyzed and it is learned why it is the best possible thing to have coursing through one's veins. A frog is dissected by students and it's digestive tract is compared with man's, with the frog giving a good account of itself on everthing, except curries.

Music Appreciation: In order to "hear" a great piece of music correctly, one must: (1) know the birthplace of the composer, (2) be able to tell a rondo from a scherzo, and back it up with action. Attitude is important. Smiling is bad form unless the composer has intended the music to be funny, as in 'Das Burgermeister', which abounds in musical jokes (although the trombone has all the best lines.) The ear, too must be trained, for it is our most easily deceived organ and can be made to think it is a nose by bad placement of stereo speakers. Other topics include: 'The four-bar rest and it's potential as a political weapon,' and 'The Gregorian Chant: Which monks kept the beat?'

Yeats And Hygiene, A Comparative Study: The poetry of William butler Yeats is analyzed against a background of proper dental care. (Course open to a limited number of students.)

Writing For The Stage: All drama is conflict. Character development is also very important. As also is what they say. Students learn that long, dull speeches are not so effective, while short "funny" ones seem to go over well. Simplified audience psychology is explored. Interesting aspects of stage history are also examined. For example, before the invention of italics, stage directions were often mistaken for dialogue, and great actors frequently found themselves saying, "John rises, crosses left." This naturally led to embarrassment and, on some occasions, dreadful notices. The phenomenon is analyzed in detail and students are guided in avoiding mistakes. Required text: A.F. Shulte's 'Shakespear: Was he Four Women?

All courses will run concurrently from November till December at Pigs Hill Community College, formerly known as Fingers McSporran's second hand car exchange. Good luck there.

Now then, some music for you. This is the last in the long running Needle Exchange series of mixes I've been irregularly putting out for some time. Now at episode 10 and in it's seventh year I've decided to put it to bed for good since I started doing the podcasts and I can just get other, more  famous and better people to do the mixes for me. Same M.O. as always. Done live in one take and recorded on 2 1210's. Au revoir mes amis. X Features tracks from Factory Floor, Torn Hawk, Tolouse Low Trax, Bookworms, Tzusing, Naum Gabo, Mutado Pintado, Etienne Jaumet, Byetone, Acid Arab, A Certain Ratio, Roman Flugel etc, etc.
Enjoy. Or not. X

Till next time.
Big love. Mark. X