Sunday, 8 March 2009

who are you and why are you in my bathroom

i saw myself cry in the mirror today.

i didn't even recognise myself.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

great escapes

i need to get away from this place man.

i swear that i wasn't born for the western world and i wasn't born for the year 2008. i'm disturbed by everything because suffering is not okay.

the pain of entire nations is literally stitched into my clothes because the labour is cheap and they have no other choice.

what the fuck does this make me?

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

entire generations living above their means

In the wake of the Second World War, the world was an economic nightmare.

Understandably. So some of the planet's greatest economic minds got together in a room, and after talking about their Ivy league education and how much their shoes cost them, they decided that the best way to rebuild the world's economy (and to make a lot of money in the process) was to fashion a culture where spending money became equal to looking good, feeling good, with our level of consumption generally justifying our place in society. A direct quote from Victor Lebow, one of the 20th centuries most revered economists goes:

"Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life. That we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever accelerating rate."

(I'm not sure if this was advice or critique. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall.)

Anyway, as this culture shaped itself into a massive consumption monster, our economic systems decided that in order to create EVEN MORE money, they would invest their money in stock market predictions that have recently failed to materialise. Banks created credit systems that meant people could have whatever they wanted, instantly - as long as they paid if back at a 35% interest rate, with no real substance to back up the money that they were lending people.

If we now look at the knock on effects of this credit-gone-crazy-we-don't-even-care-if-you-can't-pay-it-back-we'll-just-take-your-home environment, it is close to unbelievable.

Take for example, something as simple as a car. The streets are flooded with them. I'm 21-years-old and I've had three. Second hand pieces of shit, no doubt, but they are everywhere. However - take a look at the cost of these things.

It would not be a surprise for me to see a £24,000 price tag on a brand new, mid-range family car. However, in the UK, the average YEARLY wage falls just short of £23,000. Who do you know who can afford to pay for their car outright? Their home? Their 42-inch-HD-ready-sky-satellite-bluetooth-satnav-mobile television?

The fact is that it is very rare for the everyman to have this kind of disposable cash needed to live in the capitalism pipedream that has become our everyday lives. The basic foundations of Western living are now so expensive that everybody buys on credit - regardless of the amount they are paying back, or how long it takes them.

Because as long as we promise to work 9 hours a day and sit in traffic and watch television and make sure the 27 seperate payments are covered at the end of the month we can have all of the things that society tells us we need. We can look modern, and capable, and able. We can pretend like everybody else does that we can afford this shit. While we live in homes that are not paid for, surrounded by a whole host of bullshit that is costing you a collective £300 a month. Thus creating a society full of people who are living above their means. Just to keep up appearances.

We are drowning in luxury items and complaining that we do not have enough money. We are complaining about astronomic costs of food behind computer screens, over mobile phones, over the front garden fence to our neighbours...despite living in homes full of things that we are paying for that we do not need. It has become a social standard for us all to be spoilt beyond our parents wildest dreams, and their parents wildest dreams.

And the Western world finds the resources to build, sell, and eventually dispose of all of this irrelevant bullshit in the developing world.

It's just another of the things that humans are doing to not only fuck up the planet, but also to keep the world's wealth distribution where it is - at the expense of the environment, and people who are less well off.

But these things are now so far embedded into our lives, how will it ever change? I'm a hypocrit like everyone else.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

it's not about vegetarianism, it's about belief and conviction

Following a discussion about religion and it's various downfalls, the subject soon turned to the rather expansive topic of our lifestyles and why we follow them. My choice to become a vegetarian was immediately questioned when this topic started to take shape, and I was asked the question:

"Why are you a vegetarian?"

I answered the way I always answer. I said:

"If you are genuinely interested, I will absolutely have this conversation with you. If you're asking me because you actually want to know, I will tell you all about why I made the choice that I made. But if you're asking just so that you can make a feeble attempt at shooting me down with the same poorly-researched non-arguments that 90% of the Western population seem to think are valid reasons NOT to stop eating meat, I'd rather we didn't get into this discussion, just to avoid my anger and your embarrassment..."

Hostile, maybe. I suppose I'm just bored of being fed the same misconceptions that I am continually fed by people who seem to take personal offence at what I do not eat. (Seriously, you have so few problems that my choice not eat steak becomes a point of conflict in your life?) Anyway.

The question seemed to be genuine, and I reeled off the various reasons that convinced me to stop eating meat, and cut down on my dairy intake. Well researched pieces of information that are nothing less than fact.

And then, I was told: "As one person, not eating meat is going to make no difference at all. The industry will still continue. Animals will still be bred and killed for food, in the same way that they have been for years.

"Things might not be right, but they don't change. And one person isn't going to make a difference to that."

And that is when I thought, hold the phone.

What if Martin Luther King had thought that? What if Nelson Mandela had thought 'fuck it, this is going nowhere.' What if Issac Newton got bored of being called 'crazy' or 'delusional' and jacked in his research on modern physics and mechanics?

What if any of these monumental people decided that what they thought was wrong was never going to change and instead of taking the first steps in making a real change, they decided to do absolutely nothing?

All of these changes can never happen overnight. It takes generations for any real progress to be made, because of human inability to accept that what we are doing is wrong. It has been 45 years since King made his 'I Have A Dream' speech - and we still have racism and prejudice within the world. But the situation has changed massively because of the conviction of one man, and to dispute that would be flying in the face of fact.

I am in no way comparing my choice not to eat meat to being some kind of world-altering revolutionary. But I am saying that until we start doing instead of just talking, nothing will ever happen. As one person, no, I will not finish off the meat industry. But as part of thousands, in 30 years, things may start to swing in our favour.

Gandhi once said "You must be the change you want to see in the world" and think that there are few things less fitting than that very statement.

The world is moving forward man, it really is. So instead of resigning yourself to complete defeatism, why not try and push it in the direction you want to see it, in your own little way?

Otherwise, fuck it. What's the point in doing anything?

Thursday, 25 December 2008

The War Effort

Something I've written, currently lies here:

Happy holidays, whoever you are.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Soon, my child

Soon, I am going to have something else to contribute.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A Feat Of Marketing

Music is important to me. Really important - I'm one of the rare kinds of people who (despite the fact that I am not 15 years old) still gets undeniably excited when they listen to their favourite bands. I think there is something really special in being able to listen to the kind of music that was written, recorded and released as expression, regardless of whether it's commercial viability would guarantee any kind of real sales.

Which is why TV shows like Pop Idol, X-Factor and the other car-crash reality TV shows that mercilessly beat the life out of the essence of what music means to me depress me massively.

If you aren't familiar with the basic concept of either of these, (close to impossible, if you're subject to any kind of mainstream media) basically, it's a huge talent show. And that's great - I think that sharing your talents is one of the few pure things we have left. However, after the initial audition rounds, it becomes something hugely crass. The most technically apt are chosen by 'judges' (generally major label producers and burnt out pop stars - sometimes even ex-contestants of the very same show (!)) and then they go through weekly elimination rounds, where the general public are encouraged to spend their hard-earned green on phoning into expensive telephone switchboards and place their vote for the contestant that they like the most.

This continues until only a few are left, and then the winner is chosen, landing a six-figure record deal, as well promotion and various other elements of the Hollywood dream.

Now call me a cynic, but surely this is televised market research?

The production company is basically just asking the public, week in, and week out, to tell them whose album they are most likely to buy, whose t-shirt they are most likely to wear, and which act they will most happily go to see in an arena. Where usually this information is derived from a marketing team analysing trends, comparing them with current competing acts, and even then, a major label can never be sure their acts aren't going to fail catastrophically, the public are now not only informing them of their direct purchase behaviour but also paying a television company for the privilege.

I suppose that the argument is that it's 'just entertainment' and that I should probably 'lighten up'. But encouraging the public to pay to take part in the market research, so the 'act' can then be made into another brutally average megastar, who doesn't write their own material, pushed by a record label with the sole aim of making money, well, it goes against everything that I stand for.

I guess that it isn't Simon Cowell, his TV company, Sony BMG, or anyone else involved in the creation of such a concept that are the fools though. Because really, it's just an opportunity to make massive volumes of money, with a tried and tested formula. The only fools in this whole process are the people that get dragged along with the show, the media circus that follows it, and then actually buy the record when it's finished.

When I discuss this, generally I get told to 'stop being such a romantic'. That 'this is capitalism', and that 'it's the way it is'. And I always want to say, 'Fuck you. There are still thousands upon thousands of people who believe in the romanticism of small labels, die-hard fans, the 'difficult' second album, printing your own merch, and playing tiny shows in sweatboxes to 100 people.'

But, I don't. One of the reasons is because I am polite. The other is that because they will most likely have no idea what I'm talking about, they will just tell me to 'shut up'. And that just confirms to me that they have never felt the passion I have felt about music. They have never passed out at a show from the heat, they have never felt the massive energy of a tiny, jam-packed crowd, they have never been kicked in the head by a rogue crowd-surfer, and they will never feel the commitment to expression that I do. And that does make me slightly sad.

What can I say? The concept of paying to be a guinea pig has never, and will never, appeal to me.