Best mashup I’ve seen in a very long time
Very bizarre news
Someone’s painting over Banksys. My money’s on it being the man himself.
Steve Turner on Larry Norman, who died a couple of days ago.
Monthly Archives: February 2008
“Erlend Clouston on the men who risked their lives to save the Afghan film archive from the Taliban “
“The elections we have all been watching account for 80% of the total voting delegates who will nominate the candidate. The remaining 20% goes to “superdelegates” – Democratic legislators, governors, former presidents and vice-presidents, a
There are only a couple more weeks till the new Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds record comes out
Sounds like quite a plan
In between writing reviews of tech books I’ve been gradually working my way through a wonderful little book called Do Good Lives Have To Cost The Earth?. I’ll write about it in more detail later, but it was very much in my mind as I read an article Nick posted back in January about Bolivia’s new constitution.
While much of the consideration of “democracy” over the past few years has been focussed on US elections, ill-advised adventures in the Middle East, and occasional flare ups in other places, Bolivia has been hard at work on a new constitution. And whereas that often means a dry process of regulations and legal language, this constitutional process has been about throwing off the shackles of imperialism and looking for ways for a country to reflect its plurality, its history, and economic contributions from outside the normal economic sphere.
It’s exciting stuff, and may just provide some inspiration for those of us looking for how our western societies could better engage their growing diversity and value lives lived with a lower toll on the planet.
Tuesday night saw us heading to Water Rats to see Anathallo, friends from the US on their first UK tour. They’d been in the country for a while, opening for Manchester Orchestra, but this was their sole headline show of the trip. We were pleasantly surprised to see the small venue packed with people and, like the band, a little taken aback to hear quite so many people singing along.
Anathallo’s on-stage identity revolves around their high energy performances, so it was worrying to hear that several of them were suffering from strep throat. Obviously the enthusiasm of the crowd worked its magic as their energy levels were as high as I’d ever seen them. Whether it was growing maturity or a matter of venues, the melodies and percussion seemed in better balance than last time we’d seen them.
The band are hoping to be back in the UK later in the year and are well worth seeing. Either way, I highly recommend taking a listen on their last.fm page.
London is Free is a great source not only of ways to save a little cash, but also to find out about a number of events that could easily be overlooked. That’s where I stumbled across the news that Billy Bragg and KT Tunstall would be performing together in HMV on Monday lunchtime.
Steve’s written it up in much more detail than I will, but it’s fair to say that initial disappointment that they wouldn’t be playing any of Billy’s own songs gave way to considerable entertainment as the pair botched their way through covers of songs from the past five decades of British rock and pop.
Not having had the chance to see KT play before I only knew her material from remarkably over-produced records, and this performance wasn’t exactly a chance to get much of an impression of what her own songs would be like outside of that Sony-inflicted sheen. But her willingness to look rather foolish up on stage, hamming her way through songs they both admitted they’d mostly learned by watching videos on youtube, certainly left a good impression.
With a scrum of photographers gathered in a roped off area in front of the stage it was hard to get close enough for clear shots, but you can see those photos that felt worth sharing over on flickr.
emusic are profiling a Michigan band that is well worth a little of your time
"other countries base taxation on residency, not citizenship"
We’ve been following Season 5, and while it’s great I can’t help but agree that so far there’s too much to keep track of and not enough momentum. Still, there’s a long way to go…
This record has been on constant rotation around here
I can’t help but wonder how much longer New Line Cinema will be around for
"The Coen brothers are to take on Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon’s novel The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, about an alternate-reality Alaska."
Two recent visits to the delightful cinemas at the Barbican deserve a mention here:
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly has already been widely lauded, and thoroughly deserves it. Partially adapted from the Jean-Dominique “Jean-Do” Bauby’s autobiography of the same name, the film follows Jean-Do’s experience of living with the rare locked-in syndrome, the sudden onset of which leaves him only able to move one eyelid. Director Julian Schnabel has done a masterful job, using the camera initially to show us the world from Jean-Do’s restricted perspective but gradually opening up the viewer’s line-of-sight as his experiences unfold. His background as a painter clearly helps inform the visual pallete of the film, but he never quite drifts off into the impressionist self-indulgence that would have been so easy. The result is a story that is moving without being sentimental, and tinged with a deep sadness without being depressing. For me, it was one of those films that can serve as a reminder of the medium’s true capabilities.
A Short Film About Killing was showing as part of the current Kieslowski directorspective. It’s a treat to see any of his films on the big screen, even if the print did seem rather muddy. I’d seen this film several years ago when Film 4 actually lived up to its claim of offering the films that were hard to see elsewhere, but the bigger screen naturally made it more engrossing and emphasised its power. It could be said that the core of that power comes through a particularly grizzly murder scene, and much of the film’s energy seeps out (in both directions) from that pivotal moment. That scene was especially hard viewing on a larger canvas.
What struck me on this viewing were more of the film’s subtleties: the sparseness of the settings and the sound editing; the recognition of the naivete of the lawyer who is the closest thing to a hero; and the very human nuances of the characters that makes them simultaneously repulsive and compelling. The legend is that this film was instrumental in the abolition of the death penalty in Poland, and justly so. It’s a powerful reminder that one can be both anti-death penalty and fully aware of the horrific nature of mankind’s worst crimes. But beyond that, it provides a fascinating exploration of the interplay of personal and institutional actions and responsibilities.
Good ideas. High speed rail across the USA would be fantastic. Hopefully he’s right and current oil prices will finally push the authorities towards the needed investment…
Some reflections on recent cultural shifts and what it means for music, but at a more fundamental level than most posts on the topic. How is an internet-age song different from an electric-age song?
Some comments from Jamie Smith on the current furore
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to be able to attend the launch of Demos‘ Everyday Democracy Index and pick up a copy of the associated 120-page pamphlet. The publication of the Index marks a helpful contribution to an important and fascinating series of conversations about the nature of democracy (in the sense of civic engagement and participatory decision making rather than a specific implementation), where it is most effective and how it can adapt to deal with societal trends and challenges.
The Index and associated pamphlet are far from complete, but are a helpful starting point. Seeking to compare democracy in various spheres across Europe highlights some interesting trends, even beyond the apparently idyllic nature of the Scandinavian countries. As Timothy Garton Ash pointed out in his address to the launch, looking at some of the data at the country-level risks missing out on the distinctiveness of the situation of large cities, and not enough time is spent exploring issues around various forms of diversity. But this publication is a first step in an ongoing process that will hopefully see it refined and expanded in coming years.
It was while reading the pamphlet that I heard about Rowan Williams’ much-discussed recent speech. A message that comes out strongly in Demos’ work is that democracy cannot be simply understood in a national, institutional way. In examining how it works in Europe their researchers looked through a series of connected spheres to see how participation worked in each one and it seems there is a connection to what Rowan Williams was looking towards in that speech.
As our society becomes more complex there is more need for governance to work not simply on a geographically local level, but to grapple with the concepts of psychogeography and other notions of connection which happen at levels other than the physically local. Policies and services need to be built that understand that for most of us we don’t have a primary relationship with the State, but instead our relationship with the State is one part of a web of connections that form the context of our lives. For those who are members of religious communities, the relationship with the norms and traditions of those religious communities are an important part of that. As Revd. Williams put it:
“it is not enough to say that citizenship as an abstract form of equal access and equal accountability is either the basis or the entirety of social identity and personal motivation.”
Reading his speech it seems that for the most part he is calling for flexibility in our legal systems to be able to place more weight on the testimony of (carefully established) religious authorities when trying to understand the significance of certain situations or actions for members of certain religious communities. There may also be analogies to systems already in place for Hassidic Jews to follow their own legal traditions in areas of marriage and divorce.
Obviously any move in this direction is likely to be incredibly complex, but it is not without precedent, and fits very well with thinking across the board on flexibility of government services and constitutional practice. Whatever the papers say, or the many critics within the church may think, Revd. Williams is most certainly aware of those complexities and the need for legal systems to strive for egality in their treatment of citizens. In a key paragraph he says:
“If any kind of plural jurisdiction is recognised, it would presumably have to be under the rubric that no ‘supplementary’ jurisdiction could have the power to deny access to the rights granted to other citizens or to punish its members for claiming those rights. This is in effect to mirror what a minority might themselves be requesting – that the situation should not arise where membership of one group restricted the freedom to live also as a member of an overlapping group, that (in this case) citizenship in a secular society should not necessitate the abandoning of religious discipline, any more than religious discipline should deprive one of access to liberties secured by the law of the land, to the common benefits of secular citizenship – or, better, to recognise that citizenship itself is a complex phenomenon not bound up with any one level of communal belonging but involving them all.”
Both the Everyday Democracy Index and Rowan Williams’ speech make clear that the next few decades are likely to be a time of significant change in the way citizens and governments interact and how society understands the role of a wide variety of civil society affiliations. It’s a shame so many in our media are scared of that debate.