...another four years....heaven help us all....
I couldn't have the radio on or the television on yesterday. Real feeling of deja vu from last time round. You go to bed with the news that the Democrats are 6 points in the lead in the exit polls, only to wake up to find out the lunatics have taken over the asylum again. My feeling is that there are millions of Americans dumbfounded as well. The one thing I was really trying to avoid was his acceptance speech. I knew it would be patronising and, after finally catching the speech last night, it was. To cheer myself up, I had in mind the sort of Fox News speech that the satirical programme 'Dead Ringers' might have had the man saying:
'My fellow Amphibians. I want to thank you for voting me in as your Steradent for a second worm in office. For that I will be eternally grapefruit. I sit before you to let you know that I have oblitified the Demogorgon John Sherry, and me and my fellow neo-contortionists can do whatever we like....and we intend to. You have given your Decadent a mandible. We lubricated the Girraffi people by turning that country into a cemetery. We rid Afpakistan of Ossama John Lennon, dealt with Colonic Gaddaffi, and we will now lubricate their next door neighbours, West Korean, a country run by the evil Darth Vader.
The evil Darth Vader
We captured the tyrannosaur Nasser Hussein and we will now capture Obee Won Kanobee, the man who has 'the horse'. We will enlist the combined forces of the Partridge Family, The Osmonds and the Waltons in emulsifying the evil tyrant Robert Moo Cow in Rubberbanda, China. I know that the Amoeban people will thank me for homogenising the black gold from Tie-Rack....compost. My fellow Amphetamine's, I know you have heard a lot of compost from me over the last four years. I promise each and everyone of you that I will offshore that each and every pigeon in this proud pantry will have enough of my compost to take up a lifeline. This I promise you. My vice vegetable, Dick Chainme, my Foreign Confectionary Ronald McDumpsmelt and I look forward to swerving you over the next four weirds. Your faithful trouser press and bleeder. May the horse be with you. God bless Bolivia. Butch Cassidy'.
Well, O.K., joking aside, some folks close to Butch say he isn't the fool that a lot of people make him out to be. Come on, we all know that he isn't the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer. 2 drink drive convictions, arrest for rowdy behaviour at a football game and the man that came out with the comment that 'most of the imports into the U.S. come from oversea's', tell a different story.
Remember this one? 'We are working hard to convince both the Indians and the Paki's there's a way to deal with their problems without going to war.' To add to his resume, he was the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record and in his first year in office he set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any President in U.S. history. Now what happened in 2001 that will be remembered in the history of the World? Time magazine reported that, in March 2002, a full year before the invasion of Iraq, Bush outlined his real thinking to three U.S. senators, 'Fk Saddam,' Bush said. 'Were taking him out.' In addition, the Republican-controlled House Budget Committee voted to cut $25 billion in veterans benefits over the next 10 years. Caring sort, isn't he?
My personal belief is that yesterday, the U.S. 'grabbed mummy', indicating that the World is still gripped with fear. There is a terrorist around every corner. The problem with this mindset is that business stands still. We are told by the Prime Minister in the U.K. that industry is flourishing. Well I can tell the Sundance Kid that in the design industry it ain't. This is mirrored across the business spectrum. There is only so much compost that people can take. For this person, well, I am working in all kinds of different area's in order to make ends meet.
Yesterdays vote, also, didn't do a diddly sqwat for Black America. It seems the White majority believed that the World is a safer place with Butch at the helm. The problem with John Kerry was twofold in my humble opinion. Firstly, the man looked tired even before the race was run. I think I mentioned in another piece at the site that the same number would be done on Kerry, as was done on Walter Mondale during Ronald Reagan's election campaigning. The parrallels with the Reagan and Bush era's are startling. During Ronnie's reign, Iran was the thorn in the U.S. side. The voters looked to a guy who, O.K. he may only have been a B-Movie actor, but he shot from the hip, rode tall in the saddle and rode off into the sunset. Only problem was, this wasn't a movie. The second problem follows on from that. John Kerry was too nice. You couldn't see the 'Clint Eastwood' in the man. Image is everything for the U.S. voter. If you don't look the part, you don't get the job. Butch looks like a redneck. That's because he is. Butch shoots from the hip. In what direction, heaven knows! Still he fitted the bill. Butch could rustle up a posse, with the help of Sundance, and ride off into the sunset someplace at the drop of a hat.
So there's another four years of Butch, and it looks like Sundance will get the Deputy's badge, possibly as early as February 2005. What a team. I guess there will be material for the satirists. The U.S. will become more insular, which is a real shame. My personal belief is that the more people travel from their homelands, the less likelihood there is of global conflict. The neo-conservatives would have us believe that there is an 'axis of evil'. I can tell you now, there isn't. Bin Laden and his bunch of merry men are disorganised. 9/11 should have never happened. It was a lack of organisation that led to that awful day. You only have to listen to the flight controllers conversations nearly half an hour before the plane's hit the buildings to know that fighter jets should have been scrambled immediately. We all know what happened. What terrifies this man is the look on Butch's face when he send's his fellow countrymen into war. Then look at Eisenhower's face when he sent his troops into the Second World War. Two completely different expressions. Eisenhower was solemn. Bush had that 'smirk'. Look at the images above. Who is the true Statesman? This World is a much more dangerous place after yesterdays election and the threat is within Butch's posse.
toby walker 4.11.04
I watched the television yesterday with the same sickness in my stomach that I experienced seeing the developments unfold on the 11th of September 2001.
If you are a parent, there is something about this massacre that strikes to the centre of all our fears regarding our children. We worry as to whether they will be happy on their first day at school, whether they will get on O.K. during their first school trip, whether we ought to allow them to walk to school on their own and worry if their is a dark sinister character that will sweep them away and we'll never see them again. If you don't have children, you are still a sentient human being and you will feel as sick in the stomach as I did yesterday. I know I have spoken about the 'Global Village' thing before. If yesterday doesn't bring that home to all of us, then nothing will.
One thing that I do have in common with George W. is I agree that these hostage takers are pure evil. That's where it ends though Butch.
Seeing children running from an evil, with just their underwear on, with that evil shooting them in the legs. Bleeding, hungry, dehydrated and traumatised for the rest of their lives. I mean, what sort of person could consider doing such a thing? Well in the Nazi concentration camps, they stripped a large part of the Jewish Race, dehumanised them, which made it easier to treat them like animals. Today Germany is full of decent people, who rather regret those dark days, and, by and large, are a credit to the European Community. By the way, 100,000 German nationals were executed by the Nazi's as they wouldn't 'join in'. Hope there and what bravery.
Politicians are a breed I really dislike. We seem to have lost our Statesmenlike figures. Used to be if a politician made a blunder, they would walk the plank, and so they should. Today they hold onto power, or try to get power by any means fair or foul.
The new Millennium has begun very poorly. These are the 'interesting times' that the Chinese philosopher wished us not to live within. Yesterday was Russia's 9/11. If there is a pattern going on here, well it seems that there is a 'shopping list' of Countries that the terrorists are after. They have done the dirty on the two main Super Powers and now they will work their way down the shopping list. If there is anything predicatable at all about Terrorists, well....they are unpredictable. They fly into Twin Towers and we expect them to fly into buildings all over the World. They are, actually, plotting to kill children. Where next? Financial institutions? Sports stadiums? Maybe a Space Center? Who knows, but what drove them to take these measures?
Well, I believe that we will always have lunatics in whatever age we live in. The trick of controlling these guys is limiting their support. That means not disrupting the majority of people out there. Difficult if you live in downtown Baghdad and your childs brains have just been blown out by a stray Allied missile and all you see on television is a foreign military gloating over naked prisoners lying on top of each other. This is the breeding ground for the next set of recruits. Yes the Twin Towers were an awful, awful ocurrence. It is the response that is what shows the World what we are made of. If someone says to me 'Hey you are an asshole' (happens quite a lot! LOL), the best response is 'Well I think very highly of you'. Now that doesn't mean you should sit back and do nothing. There is intelligence out there that could have organised 'covert' operations to track down certain individuals. Instead, good old Butch and Sundance went gung ho into an operation that killed many Afghanistani's only to find Bin Laden had fled. So what did our boys do, well they shot from the hip there and then went off to kill 12,000 innocent Iraqi people, just going about their daily business. Now what are the consequences of that? 'Ahmed', it is Saleem here. Do you have Ossama's phone number. I want to join up'. Nice one guys.
Vladimir Putin was looking for re-election and he decided to use the same rhetoric that George W. used after 9/11. Get tough with the small guys. Small or impoverished nations. Into Chechnya and turn the place into a pile of rubble. 'Antatoly, it is Boris here. They have killed my wife and child. Do you have Ossama's phone number. I want to join up'. So the Chechen's enlisted some mercenaries, Al Qayeeda's henchmen and off they go to a childrens school in the country next door in order to kill children, some very small children. How brave.
Vlad will probably want to show his people that he is firm and decisive, so into Chechnya he will go to find the people who ordered this sick main course, and on the way, he will kill another few thousand other Chechen's (if he can get his Keystone Cops of an army to shoot in the right direction). What will be the result of this? Well, it won't be another school targeted (as all Russians will be looking out for). The families will, still, keep their children away from their local schools. The Evil ones will go for another 'grand gesture' where the authorities least expect it.
In the U.K., 25 years ago, we 'got tough' on terrorists. The resulting effect was that each attrocity became worse than the previous one. Tit for Tat reprisals. The IRA and the Protestants (with the British Army stuck somewhere in the middle) spent years killing each other and anyone else that got in the way. Tarring and feathering or kneecapping their fellow citizens for decades. There seemed no way out. They then, finally, got together, snarled at each other across the table and set up a joint Parliament. Still work to be done, but whilst they are working on that, they ain't killing each other, and that has got to be a good thing.
The truth is, you can fight until the cows come home, but at some stage you 'have' to talk. It is an irresistable force. The wall in Israel will fall one day and Arabs and Israeli's will become brothers and sisters. It is inevitable. May not seem that way right now, but it will happen, I can assure you of that. Even Winston Churchill had to admit that 'Jaw, jaw, is better than war, war'. Today, Belfast is unrecognisable. Beirut is a bustling city. Berlin is all of a piece. Peace is always the preferable option.
If Vlad wanted to set free a bird of peace in Chechnya, he and the new moderate President there should agree that they should work together in order to track down and punish the perpetrators of yesterdays outrage. In return Vlad would send in the decorators to rebuild the country. If Chelsea's new football moneyman is anything to go by, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. The Chechens would live in a better environment and be far less likely to ask for Ossama's phone number. Everyone happy....but wait, what about my re-election campaign? 'No let's keep bombing the hell out of the place. Shows everyone how tough I am'.
So what is the conduit to an overall peaceful solution? Well, Statesmen and Stateswomen really. If you notice, when it is politically desirable (and there are votes to be had going down this route), the politicians bring in someone that both sides respect. In Northern Ireland it was Bill Clinton. In South Africa, it was Nelson Mandela. Mandela has reached an almost spiritual level. In 1980 the thought of the end of Aphartheid was unthinkable by the Africaans. Now, although there are teething difficulties, the Country is unrecognisble from that 24 years ago.
Following on from that, it is my belief that Tony Blair didn't, in his heart of hearts, want to go to War with Saddam Hussein, but hey Tony, wait a minute, we have a 'special relationship'. So Tony tells us that Saddam had links with Al Qayeeda, so we must go bomb the hell out of the place. But wait Tony, we made parts of a 'Supergun' for Saddam.....so we know Saddam, therefore we must have links with Al Qayeeda. We will have to ask the other half of our 'special relationship' to bomb the hell out of us! To precis, Saddam wants to use 'weapons of mass destruction' to kill us in 45 minutes, so what does he need? A big gun would be nice. O.K. Saddam let us build one for you, you get Ossama in and we'll give you the co-ordinates for Central London! Anything else we can do for you?
Sure the Terrorists are 'invisible' right now, however their ranks are growing and they are growing due to the actions of Butch, Sundance and good old Vlad. Politicians, minds become clouded whilst they try to improve their standings in the opinion polls. They will be very angry that I said that, however, what is in front of you is what you see and what you see is undeniable. If a war will get you votes then there is temptation there. The same temptation to do the right thing if the Nobel Peace Prize or a Knighthood is on offer. These are not Statesmen and Women. They have their own agenda and at the moment it is leading us down a very rocky road to the unthinkable. Where we need to get to is where Ossama calls up one of his bunch of merry men and asks him 'O.K. Today I want to blow up an ocean liner'. To which his associate should reply 'Sorry Ossama, we don't have the manpower'.
My heart goes out to all of the families in Beslan. Put yourself in their place. You go to pick up your kid from school, there are gunmen holding your child in the main hall, threatening to kill them and no one will tell you anything. Your child emerges after being shot in the head. Jesus save us. Your child survives, but needs counselling for the rest of their lives, never sleeps, won't eat. Think about it.
The powers that be should think about 'knee jerk' reactions and capture and incarcerate these sick people forever. I mean children?...what mind could do such a thing on those that have no politics or agenda. They love you unconditionally. That is why this is so heartbreaking. The Beslan children's 'rainbow' has now become a 'dark cloud'. Peace in the World.
toby walker 4.9.04
For this old fool, culture is everything. It is the lifeblood of our society. If we lose sight of this, then were are all the poorer for it. If it dies, then so does a part of each and every one of us.
The dictionary definition of culture is as follows...'the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively'.
There you have it. Basically, what the dictionary's definition is saying is, 'this is where you are at, at this point in time and how you wish to impart it to the populous, artistically, in various formats'. Culture comes in many guises. It is architecture, the visual arts, religion, the perfoming arts, graphics, cinema, fashion, music and many other area's that enable us to express ourselves, individually. What concerns me today is that, in a way, as Miles once said 'Jazz is dead', I have a fear we are headed the same way regarding culture.
Obviously, the first area that would concern me is the musical side of things. You know my feelings regarding the 'new R & B', which is as annoying as the drum machines of the 1980's were. A good friend of mine bought my daughter a keyboard at the end of last month. Came with a great big manual. Fantastic. Grace is 10 years old now. I took her to a group of the most pretentious kids I have ever met, for a period of about a month, for a play she was performing in. We had a Friday evening trip to see the show, that changed my mind about many of these individuals, completely. Grace sang a solo that was absolutely brilliant. She was in key and showed no fear. Must get that from her mother! LOL. I told her she was brilliant afterwards (and some of the other children there as well, who didn't do so well, just my very biased opinion, but 10 out of 10 for having the nerve to do this stuff. They were very brave. I couldn't do it.). Struck me that, maybe I have become a very negative person. I didn't used to be. I then began thinking just why I came to that conclusion. Television.
My opinions regarding music today are widely crafted by what goes in one ear, is pleasing, and out of the other from my domestic stereo. Not the televisual art. In the U.K. it is 'Top Of The Pops' that usually indicates the type of 'melodies' todays kids are into. I got disillusioned by the play my daughter was a part of, largely by the fact that programmes, such as Top Of The Pops, 'turn my listening ears' off. The presenters don't 'talk to the viewer', they shout. To me that shows a lack of conviction in what they have to offer. A bit like a rapper shouting at you for your attention, as, if they utilised the same 'spoken' dialogue, no one would take a blind bit of notice! 'I am better than you and all the women want me'. Great, but what have you got to say other than you think you are the best lover in town and wear the most gold?
In the U.K., we used to have several various music shows (live performances) that provoked the grey matter. 'Ready, Steady Go', 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' etc. Today, well I guess it is just Jools Holland's show that shows an interest in the musical stylist who has something to contribute. It is only when I hear the likes of Alicia Keys, Tommy Sims and Tim Dillinger, from the new breed, that gives me hope for the future. The songs that are released today are instantly forgettable, but sold on the basis of a 'look' and how many piercings there are in the artist's belly button. Music is out there, however, even music is suppressed thesedays. You can sample to your hearts content (check the Johnnie Taylor sample that recently made number one in the U.K.). Where are the new songs that people will be sampling in the future? They are on the independent labels. Frustrated artists that want to 'do the right thing', musically, however, there is no money to be made in writing a decent melody and more in getting that waistline down to a size that will look O.K. on television (remember, that medium adds weight to the visual look of the individual in that format). So what of the folks who write decent melodies? Well if you are lucky, you might make it. If you have some individual talent, you are encouraged to become a karaoke singer (Joss Stone etc.). I am really looking forward to the day that Alicia Keys music is the norm and not the exception.
As far as cinema is concerned, well ask yourself this. 'Why are there so many versions of one good idea remade? Star Wars is up to it's sixth remake. 'The Empire Can't Be Bothered'! LOL. Back in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, I struggle to recall a 'Sound Of Music 2' or an 'On The Waterfront 3'. There were series like the 'Bonds' or the 'Carry On's', however, these were written as individual 'novels' and not part of one story dragged over several hours, as they are today. 'Lord Of The Rings'? Was I missing something? I was pleased when the whole thing was all over. This malaise began in the Seventies. Get yourself a formula and off you go. Means you have to 'think' less. The culture went out the window. 'Rocky 97'. Stick a bloke in a boxing ring and give him a different opponent each episode. A brother or a Russian. You aren't going to get Robert De Niro in one of those series of dreadful movies, are you? Now where is that paint drying.....
Architecturally, well, we have templates now as to how we design our cities down to a tee. Some interesting architecture by the folks who designed the Best buildings in the States, but that was back in the early Eighties. Today, we can count the great archictects of today on the fingers of one hand. Why? That is because there is no money in designing something that is aesthetically pleasing. Look at your local town and compare it to one, say, 10 miles away. Same stores, same interiors, same clothing, food etc.
Fashion has seemed to have died as well. In the U.K., many young men mostly wear shell suits and burberry caps. Goes with the aggressive stance that they can hide behind, looking the same as many of their contemporaries. If you are female, well as long as your stomach is showing, and pierced, the rest is immaterial (if you pardon the pun). Fashion ought to be challenging. It is the cost of clothing and not the look that is all important today. My trainers are lousy, but they cost me $500, how much were yours?
As far as Art is concerned, well today anything is 'Art'. A great deal of this genre has more to do with installation than art. An unmade bed, a sheep in a solution in a glass box or a canvas covered in faeces. If this is art, then so is the cupboard underneath my sink here! Hell, Julie and I 'installed' some washing powders and some furniture polish in there! Bring on Brian Sewell! Our Gas Boiler is an installation. Can I now expect an art critic to come, along with a televison crew, into my kitchen to claim that Frank from the Gas Board is a new Salvador Dali? It is the Emporer's new clothes revisited. In my humble opinion, true art is constructed by the individual who has a genius within them. Picasso, Turner, Dali, even Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko created things of great beauty. Thesedays I can leave my bed in the morning and enter it into the Turner Prize in the afternoon. Where is the genius in that? Stevie Wonder has genius, Ray Charles had genius, where is the genius in Steps or Westlife?
Even our language has become almost laughable. We have a catchphrase every week. 'I am 'So' not going to that store' or 'What is he like?' or 'Like, I really need another pair of trainers'. If I took you into Sudan, amongst the children that are dying of starvation right now, and you spoke to them using those phrases, you would feel pretty stupid, wouldn't you? 'He is dying from starvation...what is he like?' Yikes!
All this boils down to is whatever we are fed by the media. The culture of today is a culture of stupidity. The more stupidly you behave on television, the more you are paid. 40,000 U.K. pounds for an individual who sat in a room with a few other people for a couple of weeks and behaved badly. This means that these individuals don't realise that this is cheap television for the networks. Everyone wants to be on T.V., so why not let them, if you don't have to pay them? My belief is the larger populous out there want something of an alternative. Why do we have so many programmes encouraging people to relocate overseas? Our politics need an overhaul. Trivia rules. More people, such as Michael Moore, ought to be asking questions and questioning this 'Stepford Wife' status quo. If we don't, then our societies become more bland. They are pretty bland right now and need a great big kick up....well where it hurts!
Toby Walker 10.8.04.
...chaos in iraq...
The images above, and below, will be embedded in all our minds for the rest of our lives. Firstly, there is the understandable outrage of the Iraqi's at the inhumanity bestowed on their own people at the hands of their 'so called' liberators (left hand image). Behaviour that led to the televised execution of Nick Berg. Nick was an ordinary guy. A brave person, in as much as he was prepared to risk his life to fix the Iraqi phone lines for the locals. On the left hand side is a lovely image of Army Pfc. Lynndie England, posing with a colleague who were 'under orders' to do so by her superiors. Would look great in a floral picture frame on the mantlepiece at home wouldn't it Lynndie? She says she didn't enjoy doing what she did. Well, if a picture paints a thousand words...
It wasn't all that long ago that Hollywood were going to celebrate the life and times of Private Jessicca Lynch. You can bet that movie is now on hold. This morning there were reports that Senators had seen further imagery, they state, some of which involved troops having sex with unwilling Iraqi's. That is called rape in my book. The reasons for entering into this conflict were a) we needed to find and arrest Saddam Hussein and b) we needed to find his 'weapons of mass destruction'. To those troops that were involved with those violations of these women, you do not find Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction inside a Muslim woman's vagina. I am glad you have been caught on camera. May the man upstairs have mercy on your souls.
We believe that we are the civilised nations of this World. Our Presidents and Prime Ministers are the representatives of all of us. Our military also represents part of our overall global PR. We believe that they do three things better than any other global nation. We believe that they execute a war with precision. We believe that we are undertaking this cause for all the right reasons. Finally, we believe that these elite forces will behave decently. Remember we signed up to the Geneva Convention? Fail on any of these counts and everything falls down like a pack of playing cards.
Nick Berg's execution came about as a result of the failure of the latter of these three reasons and partly as a result of the partial failure of point two. This was an unjust war that has developed into a bloody mess. If any of our politicians fail us, they should go. Their positions become untenable, after all, they are the countries leaders. Blair should go and Bush should as well. Bush should have never been there in the first place. Butch and Sundance's deputies should go. Hoon and Rumsfelt. The military needs to take a long hard look at itself. Iraq was already crippled by sanctions before this charade. Now we see these images that, when you believe it can't get any worse...it does. In effect, we have 'kicked a country when it was down'.
The politicians and the military have confirmed to the rest of the World what they believed all along. We are arrogant bullies. With this perception they have given Bin Laden and his cronies carte blanche to do whatever they like, wherever they like and with the blessings of the Arab World. The politicians and the military have made all of us fair game to the terrorists, and that is why Nick Berg, a guy who fixed phone lines for a living, an ordinary man just doing his job, had his head removed. The heads that should have rolled are the people that instigated this unjust war.
Look at Iraq now. I put to you, you have two options. Number one is you can have things as they were before. Planes flying over the no fly zones and weapons inspectors in there looking for something that didn't exist, Saddam still there, or what we have right now? I know my personal preference. The Iraqi people have two options. Number one. Living under the Saddam regime, or, having, allegedly, U.K. troops tie up, hood, and urinate on your countrymen. You can have your husbands clothes removed, him thrown into a few of his friends on a cold stone floor, whilst U.S. troops stand by and pose for the camera (oh yes, your women are being raped at the same time elsewhere). What would you choose, my brothers and sisters?
We accuse regimes like North Korea and Zimbabwe of being cruel dictatorships, however, it is O.K. for us to behave in the most appalling way. The everyday people of the U.K. and the U.S. are decent people and our representatives to the World leave a lot to be desired. They should go and go now. We should approach the U.N. and ask them to stand in in the meantime. Bear in mind it is only six weeks away, when we shape up and ship out. What will be the reception for our troops? Tickertape parades? I can't quite see that somehow. They will return with their heads held low. There will be no Hollywood blockbuster.
Perhaps all of this may be a reflection of our society today? In the U.K. there seems to be a tendency towards a particularly nasty side of youth culture. 30 years back, kids were into their music. They wanted to be part of a group. You could be part of the Teddy Boys, a Skinhead, a Mod, maybe even a Punk Rocker. We wanted to look different. If you were a Punk, there were all sorts of outfits you could try on. The street was your catwalk. Today, all the kids want to look the same, no individuality and spitefulness is the name of the game. The more you 'blend in' with the crowd, the less likely you are to get caught if you break the law. Everyone wants something with the minimum amount of effort. Drugs are everywhere. Last week a group of kids broke into a zoo here and kicked a baby wallaby to death and then shoved the carcass back in with the animals brothers and sisters. Where am I going with all this? Well some of this mentality has gotten into our armed forces. Stupidity is the trend thesedays and the stupid can get away with whatever they like. Social services will see to that. Unfortunately, these people represent our public face to the World.
It is now time for Butch and Sundance to fall on their swords, accept that they screwed up bigtime and bring the military home. I am utterly ashamed of being British right now. We need to start looking at our schools. Educate our kids that we should respect each other. It is a highly misused word. The bullies utilise the word, demanding 'respect' or they will do something awful to you. True respect needs to be earned. Once you have that instilled into the young, then they understand the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Today this is a grey area. Folks can do as they wish with the minimum of payback. Ask what your country can do for you.
As I remember at the end of Butch and Sundance's movie, they run out of their hide out and......
Butch and Sundance have left us with a huge mess and Butch's response is to send Deputy Donald out to cheer up the troops, who, by the way, are beginning to look like a group of uncontrollable hooligans. As for Sundance, well his credibilty is shot. Why did you go to war? Your arrogance is beyond me. 'New Labour, New Failure'. Back to the drawing board guys. I am off to my bunker and taking my wife and daughter with me.
Toby Walker 13.5.04.
...one year on...
Really made me laugh when I saw that footage of the boy standing behind George W. at a recent Republican rally cry for his upcoming, latest, rigged re-election. (the kid had had a bad night the night before, apparently...bit like the ones our George used to have that led to his 3 convictions back in the day! LOL) Well, George is off on his next crusade. The sword of truth in one hand, a handset in the other, to call the suits in if things don't work out...again...on the night! This years election. He really put fire into the belly of that kid, didn't he? LOL. The Democrats have their man, who will have another 'number' done on him. John Kerry's image will be a delight for the Republican media people, as they can do a 'Walter Mondale' on the man. Remember the candidate to candidate television confrontations between Reagan and Mondale? Nice downward lighting for 'our Ronny', upward for Walter. Really highlighted the Democrat's 'bags' under his eyes. Very clever. You can make the man look exhausted even before he starts his campaigning. John Kerry ought not to be a problem for George W.'s P.R. people.
One of the things I have found most interesting at the site is the amount of Stateside visitors signing the guestbook, stating that 'Bush Is Not Our President'. After the 9/11 disaster (which is exactly what that was), many Americans wrote to me, worried. They thought that the rest of the planet hated them. I can assure you that 99.9 percent of folks here in Europe do not hold to those thinkings. In fact, on a personal note, I find most of the U.S. site visitors to be the politest, and if you don't mind me saying so, having, an almost, humble disposition.
As usual, it is the politicians that are the physical billboards for our countries. George W, comes across with an almost farcical insincerity. In fact, he seems to exude insincerity! Problem there you PR guys! LOL. Alternatively, Tony Blair goes overboard on the sincerity front. He pleads impassionately about his parties commitment to making things better for the U.K. The only problem with his arguments is there is no substance. The Americans, asked in the Eighties, 'Where's The Beef?' (regarding their politicians). My point exactly. Actions speak louder than words. Judge people by what they do, not by what they say. Still not getting to the ongoing War have I? One more point.
When I started work full time back in 1973, each week I used to get a pay packet. A small issue in the last 31 years, however, if you look at the smaller cultural changes over that time period, it gives the individual an idea of why things have got so muddled at the start of the new millennium. Receiving money in a small brown envelope, from your employer, was a 'tangible' reflection of your weekly labours. Hands on if you like. It is what makes, a far more preferable experience, holding an old vinyl album in your hands rather than an i-Pod or similar MP3 player. We forget the changes in the smaller, day to day issues within our culture, have had a snowball effect on how we conceive things thesedays. Look at your paypacket today. It doesn't exist. You get a piece of paper with a number on it. You know your house is worth £300,000 ($600,000), possibly, but when did you, actually, see that money? Everything today is a series of numbers. You spend money on the Net and everything is sent in a series of 'zero's' and one's'. Technology taking over? The governments can control the figures and in that way they can control you. Just think, society today encourages you to get into debt, you pay enormous amounts of interest on that debt and the economy grows with the minimum of effort on their part. You aren't going to speak up are you? Who wants to own up to being in debt? Today, status is related to property and belongings. Keeping up with the Joneses. Money for old rope for the wheeler dealers......
Statistically, in the U.K., the average person owes £15,000. Hold that thought. That is $30,000 in U.S. currency. I wasn't encouraged by my parents to save as a child, however, my daughter has an account. When her Grandmother sends her some money for her birthday or at Christmas, we encourage her to add to her stash. Our daily existences seem to have become a 'have it today, forget about it tomorrow' mentality. Disposable society. Get yourself a new regime. Lifestyle changes. Change your house. Move to another country or revamp your garden. Find out what is happening in a movie (or sports) stars private life. We watch people arguing on the television all the time in soap opera's. We reflect that in real life. Look at your friends. I bet each of you know someone who has just 'split up'. Where is the culture in that? Don't forget, as the perfume advert states, 'You're Worth It'. Ignorance is bliss. Everything is disposable. Disposable nappies, disposable razors, instant coffee, instant pot noodles, just add water, you can have it right now, delivered straight into your living room. Bio-degradable? What the hell. We are sending rockets into space...to end up where? Doesn't matter, someone else's problem. Where did all of this come from?
We educate our kids to protect and care for the environment. We do exactly the opposite. Do as I say, but not as I do. We want our satellite televison, McDonalds, Colonel Sanders rules (however, who would want to eat anything served from a bucket?) and we want it now. Our language has become disposable. 'Sex In The City' speak. Can you imagine walking up to a family in a remote village in Africa and saying to them 'Like..I Sooo can't understand how you can wear that outfit with those shoes'! They would think we are going crazy. That is because, as a society, we are. We celebrate stupidity and deride those who offer us an intellectual way forward.
The politicians are the same. Conviction has gone out of the window. Hell, this is a job for life. 'I made some bad moves, but I ain't budging. I will see you once every four years and 'trust on your vote'....as always'.
This ongoing War, well, you know my opinions regarding this. The devil is in the detail. The Military's losses are in the hundreds. Has anyone told you guys that 55,000 ordinary Iraqi's have lost their lives? That figure is rising...but 'we ain't gonna tell you'. Dehumanise a person and you can do with them what you will. Slavery, Holocaust, whatever. Iraq is in absolute chaos....and who is to blame? We are...well not you, personally. It's the guy in the White House or Downing Street who are struggling to find 'Weapons Of Mass Destruction'. Remember them? Almost forgot, what with the elections coming up....'Bin who?'
Butch and Sundance love each other, politically. What they failed to realise, at the outset, is, in this 'push a button and you get it now' society we live in, war is something that doesn't come in a nice neat little package. It is dismembered bloody people at the outset....and at sunset. Butch and Sundance had decent enough economies when they respectively came to power. The danger of these scenario's are they lead to problems. In the Thirties, the Germans envigorated their economy by embarking on a munitions building plan. By 1935, they didn't know what to do with all of the stockpile, so the posturing started. Now I am not saying that Butch and Sundance are anything like in the same league as the national socialists, however, a lot of money in your economy....what would you do with it? Hospitals? Schools? No, the temptation is too great not to 'empire build'. The danger of doing that, if you are a democracy, is that you have to make yourself accountable to those whose lives you place in peril.
This bloody mess that was once Saddam's dictatorship came about from a previous dabble, by the West (whose economies weren't doing too badly either at that time), in an attempt to 'sort out' a preconceived problem with Iran three decades ago. Put the man in there to sort out the Iranian guy, and there you have it. Saddam was to later become a problem, though. Light the blue touch paper and stand back .....
If a country is a Muslim country, then that is what it is. The people want the place that way and we have to respect their wishes. We cannot impose our views on people who wish to live their lives their own way. After all, isn't that democracy? Well, in our governments minds, more like democracy, but on our terms. Iraq may be in chaos, however, Butch and Sundance have their 'get out of jail card' with the June hand over deadline. Where does that leave the dead servicemen and women and the 55,000 dead Iraqi people who never did a days dis-service to this scribe or anyone else? Hold that thought as well.
At this juncture, we sure could use some more books at my daughters school.....oh yes, and a new hospital in our district. Lot of folks on welfare around the World as well, many of whom have served their respective countries, in various conflicts, during the past. 'Lest We Forget' is the phrase we utilise in these situations I do believe. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we do. Forget.
Saddam was no threat to the West a year ago. He was living nearby, so we went to get him. If he was a threat, where are his supporters today? All we have now in Iraq are other Muslim leaders stepping forward, who also want us out of the place...but these aren't the guys we want in power there, are they? They are Muslims. We want a Western emissary, who will look after our needs at the expense of the Iraqi people. We want a nice little pipeline into our countries that means we aren't beholdent to the Saudi Arabians for our oil. After all, they created that Bin 'whats his name'. In short, we want Iraq as our embassy in the region. Be nice to have another 'aircraft carrier' (as Turkey seems to have become) in order for us to maintain our global stranglehold.
In the meantime, whilst hostage after hostage is being taken in Iraq, Sundance's 'cunning plan' is to take a holiday, on a desert island, in Bermuda with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. That should strike terror into the hearts of the gang leaders, shouldn't it?....in the same way Butch did with the kid at the start of this ramble! LOL. Thing is, what do you say to the mother of that Iraqi child whose head was blown off by our 'Weapons Of Mass Destruction?', or the family of one of our troops, whose family has become one jigsaw piece missing?
One year on....'Bush may not be your President'....well, if it makes you feel any better, 'Sundance ain't my Prime Minister' either! What a mess.
Toby Walker 13.04.04
buddy bolden's band
Been nearly two months since I last wrote about anything Worldly here. Iraq plods on into chaos (as many of us knew it would at the outset. A hell of a lot of dead people and grieving families. Peace and respect to all of you). Tony Blair and George W. are organising their smear campaigns against their respective opposition parties, and we are getting on with our day to day lives.
I wanted to veer away from the political side of matters and take a look at, what is described by many musical sources, as 'Smooth Jazz'. It may be that politics are, actually, involved with this new musical sub-genre, who knows?, as Soul Music and Jazz have always had their political side. But is this the real deal?
If you regularly visit the site, you will know that image of Buddy Boldens band (above), back in 1905, very well. It was Buddy's style of cornet playing that was generally regarded as the birth of Jazz Music as we understand it today. We can argue the toss until the cows come home. Buddy and his band just did their thing and influenced many musicians in decades to follow. I cannot understate the importance of Buddy and his brothers in the emergence of Jazz nearly a hundred years ago. Buddy was born in New Orleans in 1877. Later in 1907, two years after that photo was taken and due to ill health, he was sent to a mental institution, where he remained until his death in 1931. When people talk about Jazz, they need to remember where the music originated from, to understand what has happened to the genre today. Basically, you have to understand where you have been, to understand, fully, where you are going. The bigger picture.
Jazz Music is Black Music. In the same way that Soul Music is Black Music, as is Rhythm and Blues. If you lose sight of that, then your eye is taken off the musical ball. If it is right there in front of you, no matter how many ways you try to dress these things up, what it is, is what it is. I am not sure of the whereabouts of Buddy's relatives today. Wherever they are, however, thank you. By the way, Buddy is in the back row, second from the right.
So what of Smooth Jazz? Well, let's disect the term in the same way the feminist and lecturer Mary Daly did in her fine book 'Gyn/Ecology'. Let's take the word 'Smooth'. What does that mean? In today's society we place a greater importance on looks rather than content. Everything is disposable. Buy it today, trash it tomorrow and to hell with the environment. We live in a Western Society that simply ignores the effects of our actions. The rain forests are thousands of miles away. Our priorities lie in, what fashion is currently popular, where is the trendy place to live in town and what is the hippest nightclub. 'Sex In The City' society. Got the latest car or P.C.? Then you are cool. 'Smooth' means that it is, musically, O.K. for a middle class white person who might like (they may work in the City of London or Wall Street) to add to their personal organiser or latest mobile phone as a day to day accessory. It is all part of an image. Cool dude, huh? No depth, no substance, just the right fashion in that second in time.
What of the 'Jazz' side of the expression? Well, this does not pay homage to the likes of Miles, Bird, Billie or John Coltrane. This 'Jazz' refers to the changed use of the word. This 'Jazz' means the same as 'jazz up your furniture' or 'jazz up your wardrobe' or 'jazz up your living room'. It certainly does not refer to Buddy's cornet playing or any of the aforementioned musicians. A change in meaning. So why 'Smooth Jazz'?
Well 'Smooth Jazz' can be all things to all people, which is great if you are a programme controller. All you need to do is change the format whenever it pleases you...to whatever it pleases you (and makes the most money). If you take the 'roots' away from the music and make it trendy, then you can include whatever you like under the banner. Some stations add the term 'Classic Soul', to the term 'Smooth Jazz'. That shows a lack of conviction in the first term. 'Classic Soul' means, you will hear some Black Music that you will be very familiar with, whilst 'Smooth Jazz' will follow the latest hip thing on the block. It has, in effect, removed the Black person from the equation. Put it this way, if one of these White businessmen, who are now involved with the music industry, introduced a colleague to Miles Davis (if he was still alive, bless him) as a 'Smooth Jazz' artist, he would find himself picking himself up off the floor. Ask Lesette Wilson or the Braxton Brothers what they think of 'Smooth Jazz' and you will be listening to them for hours!
To illustrate the changes in 'Smooth Jazz', look at what was considered 'Smooth Jazz' five years ago. You would have a saxophonist, who would 'do his or her thing' over a piece of elevator music. Today, 'Smooth Jazz' has become karaoke. Everyone can be a 'Smooth Jazz' artist. The powers that be are getting the latest Harry Connick Jnr on board. Jamie Cullum, Rod Stewart, Michael Buble, Robbie Williams, KD Lang, George Michael, Steve Tyrell. The list goes on. But where are all the Black Jazz Artists? Nowhere to be seen. You see, if you can change the ownership of a genre, then you can disregard the originators. To me that is a crime. If you build a house, the building requires strong foundations, however, in our consumer 'need to have it today, chuck it tomorrow' society, we are ignoring the likes of Buddy Bolden and the Black artists that followed on from him. If these Media Companies that run these stations need a new Harry Connick Jnr (the White acceptable face of Jazz), they could do well to remember that Harry was a karaoke version of Frank Sinatra, and Frank was a karaoke version of the real deal.
I wonder what Buddy and his brothers would have made of this music today? If we allow these entrepreneurs to have their way, where is the new 'Jazz' of tomorrow going to come from? Lesette and the Braxtons fight their corner, but they aren't the latest fad and they don't fit into the White City Gents personal daily regime. The Black Jazz artists are told that, if they don't fit into the 'Fad of the month', then they will be ignored. It is the same with many Soul artists, where to gain any recognition, they have to perform the karaoke songs that the likes of Joss Stone (who I do like, by the way) are told to perform. Make the right sound....look good in the personal organiser! Even Joss wants to perform her own material, but was told to get back on the karaoke machine! As I write this piece, one station here in Manchester has just dumped the 'Jazz' tag for the word 'Smooth'. Guess all of the Black Folks are completely off the picture right now. 'You may have invented it, but we own it now'. That station can now look forward to some of the Jazz Greats....Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Dolly Parton and Beethoven, with a compilation appearing in a store near you...of course we will hold onto the phone numbers of the Black Jazz or Soul Artists, because, when we run out of ideas, we will always have something to fall back (and plagiarise) on...
Look at the two images below and, bear in mind, these two people are both placed in the Jazz Section at your local store today. Which one would you consider to be a Jazz Musician, all told?
Toby Walker 16.02.04
the late grover washington jnr and rod stewart
...saddam hussein and the fall-out...
So Butch and Sundance finally got their man. We had Tony Blair proudly strutting around on U.K. T.V., whilst George W. is over the moon, as his election chances in next years presidential campaign are looking pretty rosy now. 4 more years of the World's strongest power being run by a convicted drink driver. Way to go George. Anyhow, doesn't matter, even if he doesn't get the most votes, he can get the power brokers in Texas to 'fiddle the figures' for him. Take the Blacks, citizens overseas and the unemployed out of the equation and there you are. Power delivered on a plate, with a side order of Donald Rumsfeld. Now where did I leave my indigestion tablets?
These right wing political war mongers on Capitol Hill have left many Americans feeling that the rest of the World hates them. We don't. I don't hate all the people in the U.K., do I? It is the politicians that are the guys I have a beef with. Labour isn't Labour anymore. If it was Tony wouldn't speak to George. Labour are Tory's...but hang on, the Tory's aren't Tory's, they are Liberals...but wait, there are no Liberals anymore, O.K. let's vote Green, but wait, Green is the new Blue and Blue are Tory, but the Tory's are Right Wing, but they can't be, they are the new Labour....nurse, I can I have my medication now? LOL
So what do we do with the deshevilled old dicator now that we have found him? First thing that struck me is how he seemed to be 'morphing' into Bin Laden! Bingo, two for the price of one! LOL What an end for a man, we helped out in the past, sent him, well, 'weapons of mass destruction', (which he then used on his own people), a man I wouldn't invite round to dinner, and I guess none of you would do either. What worries me is that there are now thousands of Arabs across the World who wouldn't now invite us Westerners round for tea either! Saddam has seen his kids killed and paraded on National Television, he has killed many of his own countrymen, women and children and seen almost as many killed by the allied troops.
It is easy, as I mentioned, to forget that this was the same man we funded during his fight with Iran, when our politicians decided that that country was the World's pariah as we couldn't understand people with long beards, non -Christians, speaking in a language and writings that were totally foreign to us. So we didn't talk to them. The politicians appeal, when it is convenient to them, to the lowest common denominator within each of us. Stir up some racial hatred, asylum seekers etc. As I have said previously on this page, we can argue as much as we like, but we cannot escape the fact that we are all brothers and sisters.
Iraq has witnessed many of our species blown to pieces. These people are xx chromosome and xy chromosome. You are all part of this gene pool. XX are female, XY are male with the Y being a mutation. What this means fella's, wait for it, we are mutations of women. That is why we have breasts! That is a fact that we can argue till the cows come home, but it is a truth. XX and XY all the way from China to the United States. Brothers and Sisters.
What has been perpetrated in Iraq is a long line of untruths. Look at the situation right now. The 'allies' have managed to find a guy hiding in a tiny locked cellar in Tikrit, however they cannot find weapons of mass destruction spread across the length and breadth of the country. It is because it isn't important anymore. Butch and Sundance have their man, they have the oil and they have their respective re-election portfolio's nicely prepared.
I watched a programme, a couple of weeks back, on the BBC, where a unit of medical lorry's were travelling to Baghdad (including the BBC journalist John Simpson). These lorry's also carried reporters and translators all sympathetic to the Allies. The troopers at the head of the convoy were called by a passing jet. The pilot of the plane radio'd down and asked whereabouts he should bomb? The trooper guided the plane to the medical transporters (which had red crosses painted on the top of the vehicles) and then proceeded to bomb the hell out of the convoy. John Simpson survived. His translator didn't. This programme indicated just what this war was all about. An indescriminate attack on just about anything or anyone that moved. All for what? Oil. It always was right from the beginning and woebetide anyone who got in Butch and Sundance's way.
So they now have the dictator and George and Tony are patting themselves on the back. Remember the scene's as Saddam's statue was toppled? Supposed to be thousand's out on the street celebrating. I only saw a couple of hundred. Saddam is finally captured and the news reports stated that there were 'thousands out on the street' again. I only saw around 50 or so on the news report televised.
Well what do we do with the man? In many cases of this kind, we like to think we will show the World we are 'better' than any 'foreign' nation. 'We won't kill the guy'. He will be treated well, fed and incarserated. Fine, but we shouldn't forget that, on our little detour back from Afghanistan, and in taking these actions, we created a political and Worldly timebomb, and worse, for no real reason apart from financial gain.
I agree with the father of a dead service man (whose son had served in Iraq) who spoke on the radio this morning. If we imprison Saddam, then the opportunity beckons for those who are 'into hostage'. Our citizens will be confined within our ficticious borders. You can't fly in case you are captured and held to ransom in exchange for 'Our Man In Baghdad'. Then the ugly prospect of execution raises it's head. George W. would be very happy with this scenario, as it is something he is used to. Problem with the death penalty is it would create a martyr out of the man. The death penalty is fundamentally wrong in principle. Those who want it restored in the U.K. portray it as a deterrent. That presupposes that the criminal considers, before carrying out a criminal act, that they may be caught and, of course, no criminal believes that at the outset of their actions. They believe they will always get away with whatever they decide to do. What happens if you execute an innocent person? You can't hit 'command z' and undo things, can you?. Execute Saddam Hussein and you are executing your own people somewhere down the line.
The World is a dangerous place right now. In a way I wish Saddam hadn't been caught...or if they had caught him, kept quiet about it.They seem to manage to keep quiet about many other wartime issues when it suits the powers that be. We are now left with the possible scenario of Westerners being taken as hostages, perhaps bombed, or executing the dictator and having the Arab World rising up against the West. Nice one guys. As Al Green once sang, 'Put a little love in your heart and the World will be a better place'.
Two bombs went off in Baghdad this morning, killing 9 people.
Toby Walker 15th December 2003
Michael Jackson is a great Soul Singer. That may be an opinion in contrast some of the Soul purists out there, however, his output cannot be denied. If I listen to, say, 'Ben', I hear a true Soul Singer, who can move the listener, and after all, that is what Soul Music is all about. Emotion.
The recent images of Michael in handcuffs are alarming. He is accused of a crime he is yet to be convicted for. Unfortunately, in todays society, once the media have accused you of something, then that is what you are. It is worse for a Black Person, in as much as, if you are accused of a misdoing, you are not only an individual being accused, you are a 'gene pool' being brought to account.
Let's turn the whole thing on it's head. Let's take the scenario of a White artist allegedly trying to become a Black Person. Who shall we use as an example? O.K. Let's say, for instance that Michael's alleged mimicker, Justin Timberlake, had surgery to make him look 'More Black'. How would the media react? 'Well, hey, if you are a Black Man then how do you relate to White Women?' We can't have Black Folks and White Folks mingling, can we? There is something weird about this guy. Let's bug his bedroom, personal plane, accuse him of lewd acts. If he is Black then he certainly can't make White Music. He is Frankenstein. That is how things, I believe, would transpire if the situation was turned on it's head.
Thesedays, we should rejoice in relationships between all sections of society, Black, White, Christian, Muslim...wait for this one..Catholic and Protestant, short, tall, fat, slender, disabled, what the hell, it is what is inside of us that makes the person. If you love someone, you love someone and that is it, pure and simple. That is how things should be, but they aren't because we involve ourselves with trivia and not with substance.
Michael Jackson has been on a rough road since his childhood. The powers that be wouldn't allow him develop in the way the rest of us have enjoyed in our upbringings. We have all left our first school, developed into younger adults, been to the local dance, found the opposite sex attractive, listened to the slow jams, had kids, got married and settled down, bought our first house, took our own kids to school and got called in to to see the teacher if anything was amiss, we saw them leave school, ask us for money as they were a 'little short', financially, and loved them.
In the music business there were some nice dollars to be made if you could keep Michael Jackson a child. In fact, he has never been allowed to move on from that standpoint. His output, along with his brothers was, quite honestly, brilliant in his early years. Whilst they were allowed to get married, have kids etc. Michael wasn't. Michael was guided very carefully through his upbringing. No trips to MacDonalds or hanging with the homeboys in his local neighbourhood. The Jacksons made some great music in the Seventies and Michael embarked on a fantastic career during the latter part of that decade and the early part of the Eighties.
If you look at how the media treat various celebrities, there seems, an almost, 'duty' for the performer to produce some scandal. If Michael Jackson is still a child at heart, then we should adopt the law as it stands and leave the man alone. He seems to be surrounded by people who wish to destroy the person he has become. Michael's visual changes seem to me to be an attempt to escape the reality of the World and the media. Hell, I would want to remove myself from the people who want the worse for me.
Odd that the recent 'Allies' have no problem in killing the child in the article below, but are quite accommodating to the gold diggers who wish to make millions from Michael Jackson. Ask yourself this question. If you knew that there was the slightest chance that your child would be mistreated by Michael Jackson, what the hell are you doing sending him to his Estate? Simple, money. My personal belief is that Michael just wants to please the kids and that is as far as it goes.
If Michael Jackson is still a child in his own eyes, and he may well be, what are the chances of him abusing other children. Not that great, I believe. These children like the man. What is this pre-occupation with money from the protagonists ? The root of all evil. I wish they would leave the man alone. Forget how he looks thesedays and let him get on with what he is good at. Making music.
As far as the Michael's appearence is concerned, well, I will sue you if you have lipo-suction, a dodgy haircut or have your legs waxed! If he is wealthy, good luck to him. If he wasn't here there would be a large gap in the 'J' section on my album shelves here. Innocent until proved guilty. Remember that. If I accused you of having an affair with a chimpanzee, and it wasn't true, there would be many still harbouring doubts. Think about it. Whatever the man may look like thesedays, he is loved by his family, his friends and his faithful following. I wish him well....and can we have another album at some stage?
The media are so powerful today that I begin to believe the fodder that we are fed. Look at the Jessica Lynch story. A true American hero, even though she says her story from Iraq is prefabricated. Congress could sell an eskimo snow!! LOL.
Toby Walker 28th November 2003
...two years down the line...
This subject just won't go away. Today is the 11th of September 2003, two years after one of the worst terrorist atrocities that has been perpetrated during the last 100 years. The West's reaction was to go kick some butt somewhere in the World....well, when I say the West, I mean Britain and America. Sure, when something as bad as that terrible day happens, it is a natural reaction. The French would call it a crime of passion. 'Crime' is the watchword here. Who carried out the events of that day? Bin Laden said 'it wasn't me', initially. When he discovered there was some propaganda mileage in saying he did....well, he did. No-one knows if that man is still alive. The U.S. said he died in Afghanistan, however, Al Jazeera show footage of him walking around on a hill somewhere. Imagine if Hitler's body hadn't been found and the technology was as it is today. He would be portrayed as still being alive and well in South America and preaching fascism to the World. Threatened by him? You bet.
Look at that child in the picture above. Feel threatened by him? Feel threatened by Saddam Hussein? He is still alive and roaming around somewhere. Still no 'weapons of mass destruction' found anywhere in Iraq. They say they are sure to find them and, with today's technology that can pinpoint a square foot from space, they still can't find them. So why is that child dead? If I told you that that photo was taken at the foot of the World Trade Center, you would probably believe me and want to go kick some butt of your own. The thing with the continuing war (and that is exactly what it is) is the 'allies' now have carte blanche to do what they will. Remember Colin Powell at the U.N. and his fuzzy video images? Now George W. wants some help from the people he spurned, just as the 'peacetime' death toll has exceeded the 'wartime' casualty list. Remember his diatribe against the French and German's? Well, hey, let's let bygones be bygones...and, by the way, do you have a spare 40 billion Euro's?
George W....there is a man who has been arrested three times, two on drink drive charges and once for rowdy behaviour at a football game! Imagine if the roles were reversed and it was Saddam Hussein who had done the same? We would have 'lock up your daughters' headlines. George got less votes than Al Gore. Al tried to do the right thing, when he should have stuck to his guns and said 'I beat you fair and square matey'. Knocking the U.S.? O.K., Tony Blair isn't much better. He won a second term in office, not through his credibility, but purely for the fact that the opposition in Parliament is so weak. Pathetic in fact. Tony has made the fatal error of trying to be all things to all people. The result of which is he is under fire from all corners of the establishment. I would even go so far as to say he has blood on his hands. One of his trusted advisors, Dr Kelly, shot himself as a result of the Iraq debacle and Tony decided that his military advisor, Geoff Hoon, ought to take the heat, as Dr. Kelly obviously couldn't.
So what of Iraq? Well, as I said, the situation is going to cost the U.S. some 80 billion dollars. That sum could have been put towards a programme of hospitals, schools etc., instead it is being spent on rebuilding a country that was never a threat, never had weapons of mass destruction and wasn't involved in September 11th, which was the real 'knee jerk' reaction for invading that country in the first place. U.S. and British soldiers are being killed to such an extent, that it doesn't stop us eating our cereal first thing in the morning. In effect, Tony and George have anesthetized us to a point that we accept anything fed to us by our media. Look at that child at the beginning of this section. Is anything worth the death of that child. Not in my humble opinion.
In the first article I wrote about this 'crime', I stated that this was all about oil. I still believe that. Money is more important than life. Yesterday a man was jailed in London for taking money illegally from a bank. He got nine years. The day before a man was jailed for three years for rape. Who would you rather to meet down a dark alley? The thing is, I feel for the families of both sides, who have lost loved ones. Looking at things from a soldiers point of view, the mothers will be thinking, 'here is the son that I gave birth to, changed his nappy, sang him to sleep each night, later read him a bedtime story, took him to school each day, worried when he had his first 'sleepover', got him to the doctors if there was a health problem, made sure his teeth were O.K., helped educate him, told him to put on his school uniform and he just wouldn't listen, was delighted when he did well with his homework, paid for his driving lessons, wondered why they turned on me when they hit sixteen, encouraged him to think about his career, and, when he left education, watched him fall in love, get married, was there when he and his wife had their first child, moved into a new home, sat and listened if they had an argument, babysat whilst they had a night out, disagreed a little when he said he wanted to join the military, told him he should do what he really believed in, waved him off as he went off to the Gulf, got the news he was killed in an ambush...now he is dead...why?, listened to the apologies of the politicians, buried him in his hometown and cried for weeks on end thinking...where did I go wrong and what have we done to deserve this?'. Listen here. You did nothing wrong. Whether your children choose to show it or not, they love you. Plain and simple. They were doing the right thing in their eyes. Serve your country. The problem is the politicians are, supposedly, doing the same...but not very well. They are accountable. We are statistics.
The people of Iraq must hate the West. I would do if I was a citizen of that country. George Bush and Tony Blair have made a major blunder. We know it, they know it and in the meantime we are suffering in many ways. Business is in a slump and will be for a while. If you think the economy is strong, well it may be for a few, however, over the last two years, when I go to pick up my daughter from school, the amount of fathers there has quadrupled. I do believe that actions speak louder than words and what you see with your eyes cannot be denied. When everything else seems confusing, the truth is in front of you, like it or not.
For want of a better phrase, George W. and our Tony have found themselves 'caught between Iraq and a hard place'. When it comes round to Election time (in two years in the U.K.), it won't be Iraq that will be the factor of who gets in and who doesn't. Bill Clinton was right. 'It's the Economy, stupid'. We all vote for whoever puts more of the pound or the dollar bill in our pockets. Let me put this thought in your grey matter. Look at the child at the beginning of this piece. Imagine that child is yours. To have that child back, let's suppose it is going to cost you $100,000 of your hard earned money to bring him back to life, in order he can hold you, kiss you, tell you he loves you, show you his homework, draw a picture for you, tell you what he did at school today, ask you why black folks and white folks don't get along, ask you what is the difference between Christian and Muslim (as his best friend at school is a Christian)....or you can keep the money, have a nice house and leave things the way they are. I know, exactly, what I would do. Search your soul. The invasion of Iraq was a total mistake from start to finish and I stand by all I said in previous pieces. Some mothers and fathers have lost their children and we should think about that and be sure of our actions before we destroy people's lives on all sides. Marvin was right. 'War is not the answer'.
Peace on this day to all who lost their lives in the World Trade Center, those grieving families in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of the servicemen and women who have been killed and our hearts go out to all of their families. Those who have died in so many wars. Who sent them there? Politicians. Well, whilst Tony Blair's kids are drunk and throwing up in Leicester Square, other parents are having their children killed in Bazra and are having to bury them in our homelands. Who will you vote for next time round? They are all as bad as each other. Makes me very sad indeed. Love is the answer to all things.
Toby Walker. 11th September 2003
...united soul nation / divided soul nation...
Finally, I can get off the subject of the Gulf debacle and get back to the soul scene (although that serious issue looks like it may run and run).
Back in late 2001, I was called by two television producers, who were about to embark on the tricky task of constructing a three part series collating the history of the Soul Music Scene in London, from the early 1970's, up until the present day. A bold step and fraught with many factual tripwires that had beset many other attempts to undertake this task in the past.
If you live outside the U.K., to precis things a little, in the U.K. there are five main television channels right now on terrestrial television. Two at the BBC, one for ITV, one for Channel Four and, the most recent addition, Channel 5.
On my first meeting with the producers, I really liked them. I took several old magazines and photographs from back in the day, along with some typed up places of reference (clubs, places, deejays...that sort of thing). I gave them a CDR compilation, that I had put together, of some of the tunes that were popular, from that era, and spoke to ex-Jazz FM deejay, Robbie Vincent regarding the show. He just said that, as many soul folks had in the past, they should try to make sure they get their facts right. So I stressed to them that, what concerned many old soulers, was that several of the previous programmes had their facts collated incorrectly. The producers said they wanted to concentrate on the London scene, although I did point out that that may be a mistake as the scene's in all parts of the U.K. were relevant at the time.
I then met up with an old friend called Clive Clark. Clive was one of the top club dancers back in the Seventies and I had not spoken to him since a Saturday, at the bar of the Global Village club (during 1977), under the arches in Charing Cross in London! We used to talk a great deal and meeting up with Clive and reminiscing was great...over several beers I might add!!
Anyhow, one of the programme's staff came to the house, borrowed a lot of old memorabilia and they returned everything a couple of weeks later. They were very nice folks. Later in passing, the producer told me that the show was going to be hosted by Trevor Nelson. Trevor is a nice guy. He used to work in the Soul II Soul shop on Tottenham Court Road, just over the road from my last company. I used to frequent the establishment, along with work colleagues, and we got to know Trevor fairly well.
Months went by and I figured the show had been shelved. Then, three weeks ago, the first show was listed in the local paper. When the first programme went out, Trevor was seen looking very uncomfortable at a Northern Soul Club...which was great as the programme hadn't stuck religiously to the 'Southern' format. What made me laugh was when one of the contributors, Mark Webster, stated that 'people used to wear the most ridiculous outfits back at the time'. The camera then cut to a photo of my brother and myself (see below. Me with the orange crop! LOL).
Looked forward to the second show, which began covering the early Eighties scene in London. The Caister crowd and the soul fans were sidelined and the Wag Club was concentrated upon. The shows malaise set in from that point. The factual references became inaccurate, with one big for instance being the omission of any reference to the Beat Route, a club referred to in Spandau Ballet's first single 'Chant No.1'. The Wag Club was the Beat Route's baby. The Beat Route was, just about, the place to be seen at the time. The music policy was excellent. Deejays Steve Lewis and Plug really knew their stuff.
It became apparent that maybe the series, perhaps, should have been hosted by a presenter who was, actually, fully conversant regarding why the scene had arrived where it had at that point in time. Trevor was just starting out in 1982 (check his bio at his site), and was consequently, in some ways following the line the producers were...which was relying on information imparted by others. The show then almost jumped from 1983 to 1988 in one fell swoop.
What am I trying to say here? O.K. Let's say there is a proposed programme based around the club Soul Scene in the Sixties. Should I get involved? Absolutely not. I wasn't there. Others were and they should be approached.
Having said that, it was good to hear Norman Jay's reminisces. One being the racist undercurrent that prevailed at some clubs. Being white I am largely unaware of this unpleasant side of the scene. I rely on my black friends to keep me updated. Racism is still there today. It just operates on more subtle levels, that's all.
The show became very focused on the group Soul II Soul (don't get me wrong, I really like the band. They have a page at this site), however there was so much more to the U.K. music scene at the time. There were fleeting references to the Warehouse Scene, an area hugely influential during the mid Eighties. 'Westworld' in Battersea was the first major warehouse gig and became featured in the Face magazine. Westworld was an amazing gig that I deejayed at back in 1985, part organised by Mac from the group Animal Nightlife. Animal Nightlife came out of the Beat Route, managed by Steve Lewis and were part of Soul Music's historical fabric in London's musical family tree. That is what I am trying to impart regarding 'knowing where you have come from, to know where you are going', that's all.
When the third episode was due, I felt I knew what was coming. Seventies, Eighties, now the opportunity to give some exposure to many of the worthy U.K. soul singers and bands that are still making the finest musical exports in the last decade. Incognito, Beverley Knight, Omar, Noel McKoy...the list is endless. What I forgot is that for the previous decade or so, the real deal has been replaced by the 'New R & B' trend. I sat through the last show very depressed. So Solid Crew? The show was called 'Soul Nation'. Get a grip. What was also apparent was the short shelf life that much of this 'new R & B music' seems to have. Where is 'Jungle' thesedays? The latest fad is 'speed garage'. Another fad that will fall by the wayside. My feeling is that So Solid Crew will suffer the same fate.
If these programmes are to be broadcast, they should be what they say they are...a soulful nation, not a music that is divided. So Solid Crew, I admit, have made the charts, but so have the Teletubbies and Rolf Harris! We need to encourage the Incognito's of this World and unceremoniously dump this music that masquerades as the 'new' R & B. That it is palpably not. Part One of the series, O.K. 2? Not bad. 3? Where's the remote?
A house is built upon strong foundations and Soul Music (the real deal) has always 'propped up' the musical gimmick. Gimmicks are just that. Great (or is that grate! LOL) today...tomorrow?...yesterdays news. The real deal has longevity. When the urban stations run out of idea's they fall back on their old standby. That is how 'rare groove' came about. Those songs are no longer described under that banner, however, they are still sought out by soul fans. The industry looks for the latest tag to add to, what is after all, Soul Music. What's the next fad? 'Commercially Rhythmic Accepable Product?'..otherwise known as C.R.A.P!
Let me put this small thought in your grey matter. Omar's song 'Music' is a great tune. It was what turned Stevie onto Omar. Recorded before 'Jungle' came on the scene and is still sounding great today. 'Jungle' has long gone. The thing is, if it looks like 'Doo Doo, smells like 'Doo Doo', is shaped like 'Doo Doo', then 'Doo Doo' is what it is. Omar, Bluey, Beverley, Desree, Vivenne McKone etc will be around long after the latest 'Doo Doo', Speed Garage, has passed it's sell by date.
Maybe next time. Not a bad effort though on one and two, though.
Toby Walker. 3rd July 2003