Saturday, June 30, 2012

Jack White live at Rock Werchter - no more full video

Jack White live at Rock Werchter 2012.  The Belgian festival has put the whole concert up on YouTube - 70 minutes of live Jack White goodies, with his current boy band behind him.


There's a lot more live stuff out there, but I don't tend to write about it here as I assume everyone knows.  Whenever a show is sponsored by something, they put it up for a while, and almost everything that is live streamed, like Jack White at Hackney Weekend, eventually gets on YouTube. 

Sometimes it eventually gets taken down again, which is why we currently have things like Freecorder, and which is why YouTube will eventually try to stop it, as they did with a giant MP3 converter site recently.

Edit on 07/07/12 to add: Told you so. It's been taken down due to a copyright claim...You can still find individual ones by other uploaders if you care to, though

Thursday, June 28, 2012

See your home threatened by large jet!

Agh! You enter your British post code and the ad taxis a plane right past your fucking house! I haven't lived in the UK for more than 20 years but when it passed by both the back door and front door of my erstwhile parents' maisonette I almost died of shock.

If you don't know anyone with a British post code, make one up. Pick something off Google maps and enter the code. The hospital I used to work at is at E1 1BB,  or the Scala Cinema is at N1 9NL. Not that either of those are as scary as seeing your own home bypassed by a freaking jet.

I forget who the ad's for.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Plagiarism Corner: Open University lecturer, not student, 'borrows' a book from Crowley

It's hard to be *quite* this blatant - ripping off Aleister Crowley and publishing his poems under your own name. Ditto with a short story by Dylan Thomas - and many others. I should insert "allegedly" in front of those, though the gank from Crowley is pretty obvious and easy to check out for yourself.

Most of the information here came from Alex Boot Camp Keegan, who replied in the comments section to an article in the Daily Telegraph about Open University lecturer Dr. Joanne Benford. The Telegraph article said,
Dr Joanne Benford, a teacher of creative writing, is accused of multiple instances of copying the works of other writers and passing them off as her own over two decades.
One of her short fiction collections, Down By The Water, features a story called Holiday Memory. It appears to be a verbatim copy of a radio play of the same name written by Dylan Thomas and first broadcast on the BBC in 1946.
The allegations came to light after Alex Keegan, an author of short fiction, discovered a work called Postcards From BalloonLand in another book by Dr Benford, called Coming Up For Air.
In the comments, Alex Keegan suggests that Dr. Benford's Music of the Spheres is taken in large part verbatim from Aleister Crowley's The Rite of Eleusis. And this can be checkd as the OTO puts up original Crowley writings on the web. (I wouldn't like to be the lawyer who had to check out who owns Crowley's copyrights after all these years, but I'm willing to bet it's not Joanne Benford.) Google books has a preview of Benford's Spheres - not sure if she can take that down, but just in case, here's a screenshot:

  And here's some of the Crowley text of Eleusis:

Sweet, sweet, when Lion and Maiden,
The motley months of gold,
Swoop down with sunlight laden,
And eyes are bright and bold.
Life-swelling breasts uncover
Their warm involving deep--
Love, sleep!--
And lover lies with lover
On air's substantial steep.
Ah! sweeter was September--
The amber rain of leaves,
The harvest to remember
The load of sunny sheaves.
In gardens deeply scented,
In orchards heavily hung,
Love flung
Away the days demented
With lips that curled and clung.
Ah! sweeter still October,
When russet leaves go grey,
And sombre loves and sober
Make twilight of the day.
There's a lot more. The Open University is looking into it - they don't check their lecturers' non-work-related writing for plagiarism because why would they? It's usually the students who are attempting to filch things and pass them off as their own. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Forty years of Glam Rock: BBC Four's documentary on Ziggy Stardust

Here's a new documentary on Ziggy Stardust from the BBC, in honor of its - or his - 40th anniversary.  I learned about it from Karen Elson, the supermodel, who learned about it from Iman, the supermodel who is married to David Bowie. It's easy to hobnob with the stars when you're on Twitter.

There are some great, uplifting clips for us post hippy kids - now sadly just known as "baby boomers" with the rest of the hippies - in the four segments. The exemplar being David Bowie throwing his arm chummily around Mick Ronson's shoulders on Top of the Pops as the crowd goes wild - three billion girls think it's cute, a couple of hundred gays (including the future members of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Soft Cell's Marc Almond) look on in awe that Ziggy could break that boundary on Top of the fucking Pops - and about 12 homophobes, all of whom pack it in soonish and went with the flow (I hope). It was just an arm round the shoulder, but the nation was galvanized.

I think I've driven home ad nauseam that I was primarily a T. Rex fan. I loved Ziggy Stardust, and I loved  Aladdin Sane and I listened to both obsessively. But somewhere inside I preferred Bolan's hippy authenticity to David Bowie's carefully-groomed, Lindsay Kemp-tutored dance and theater. Of course years later I learned all about showbiz and how Marc Bolan was hardly authentic, but at the time it was pistols at dawn. The documentary does a great job on trying to convince me I backed the wrong horse.

It's fun to hear the down-to-earth tones of the Spiders From Mars discussing those days, and sadly, discussing how little they were paid. And Bowie's catalog of early tries at fame, all clever, all well-thought-out and all complete flops are funny, at least for me, who is not Bowie, and is watching forty years later. They reminded me how close the exceptionally watchable Velvet Goldmine really was to being a documentary.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ida Red

I don't read many tomes these days, but I read a metric buttload of comments. Sometimes I think I should give that a miss, but other days I learn something. In an argument about how to get paid for twenty first century music at Dangerous Minds, I learn about Ida Red.

Here's Bob Wills  and The Texas Playboys singing Ida Red.


 And here, I know you knew I was going to say this, is Chuck Berry, singing Maybelline, one of the seminal rock'n'roll tracks in anyone's mind.


 I don't mean Chuck Berry stole anything from the Texas Playboys, and I don't mean the Texas Playboys stole anything from Chuck. I was just flabbergasted, as I've been many times before, how similar music percolated in both black and white groups.

Edit: Fifteen minutes after posting this, and after watching both the videos again, I have to say the major difference between them is that for the Texas Playboys, I thought 'How historical!" and clicked away to a random link, but for the Chuck Berry video I was not only compelled to get up and dance, but I was in awe of his wordsmithing. 

But you know, apart from that, there are similarities.

Nobody likes a hipster...

Jimmy Page's On This Day feature for 21st June 1966 is a description of the first gig he played with the Yardbirds. (OTD is only up for one day, so by the time you see this it'll  probably be gone...but here's the URL.)

It sounds like that gig, where he played bass in the band for the first time, after Paul Samwell Smith scarpered, was uneventful. However, also on the site is a description of a Yardbirds show three days earler, the implication being that this is why Paul Samwell Smith left:
In the summer of 1966, Jeff Beck had invited me to a Yardbirds show at the May Ball at Queen's College, Oxford, where the band were to perform in a giant marquee. They were really playing well that night but the audience of penguin-suited university bods were mainly unreceptive and too busy being loud drunks. During the set, Keith Relf became disenchanted with the audience and morphed into what would later be termed a punk, with colourful language and insults to what was a drunken bunch of Hoorays. Keith was wobbling but he finished the set with suitable angst. I thought he was brilliant under the circumstances, but Paul Samwell Smith left the band that evening.
Good for Keith "one lung" Relf! I like the idea that he was "disenchanted" with the audience as opposed to furious.  He reminded me of someone.

Jack White in the White Stripes chiding the audience for not dancing during the
Greenhornes set.

Of course, Jack White's "disenchantment" with drunk audiences is legendary. The video below, taken at Don Hill's during a Dead Weather invite-only show of definitive hipsters, is NSFW.

On the one hand, I find the oft-aired claim that a band "feeds off the audience's energy" to be thoroughly creepy. Get your own energy, bands.

On the other hand, not paying attention to a band ought to be a criminal offence. I once saw Pop Will Eat Itself at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. If you want to be at the barrier at the Coach House, you have to eat dinner, because the tables line the front of the stage and the dance floor is behind.  So there I was trying to eat a Bleu Cheese Burger with Fries or some such crap while Clint Poppy was yelling at us, 'Stop wielding your forks and get dancing you eaty motherfuckers!" or words to that effect. Then he jumped off the stage and strode around on our tables, so we really, really did pay attention after that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

She's not very old

Haven't posted this one for three, years, so it's due. T. Rex performing Hot Love - one of the less viewed versions.

Two new neighbors - the Hawks

A pair of hawks are nesting nearby. They're not afraid of people. I've seen them stand on people's cars. They are, however, very loud and messy - and exceptionally pretty.

Today Mr. Hawk ate a squirrel on my garden wall.

He flew off into the yuccas and left the rest for Mrs. Hawk.

Specifically, he left her the gooey bits. And I think he left the tail. I walked right up to him at one point, to read the water meter. He just stared at me.

They are both terrified of humming birds, who chase them away.

 (I have no idea which is the male and which is the female.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The History of the NME by Pat Long: review

My copy of  The History of the NME: High Times and Low Lives at the World's Most Famous Music Magazine arrived, and I read it with the fascinated fascination of the fascinated.  I mentioned it was on its way here a few weeks ago, where I also said most of what I could say in this review.  That's because I read the NME cover to cover for six or so years in the Seventies, and maintain enough memory of the writing to spill it out long before the actual history of the mag arrived.

It's a little difficult to explain the appeal of the weekly rag, The New Musical Express - the NME - to someone who comes across it these days, where it's a horribly foreshortened magazine with a webpage that commands slightly less respect than say, Brooklyn Vegan or TNT.  But for a while, in the 1970s, when the post-hippie generation were growing up in their vast late-baby boom numbers and searching for their teenage expression, it was not only an arbiter of taste, but also the only window on society and politics that most of us (who had missed International Times and Oz) would see, at least until we left home and went to university.

I use the NME - Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols

Musical Express started publishing in the forties, after cannibalizing and driving around a zombie publication called Accordion Times for a few years. (The thirties craze for accordions had, as they do, slowed to a standstill.) For a while, it had "incorporating accordion times" on its masthead, but eventually even that went away.  The Musical Express cultivated a very British relationship with pop, and then rock when it was invented, by drinking with the stars and managers during the night and gossiping heavily about them during the day. Or rather, drinking any time after breakfast until the next dawn and then writing about them during any subsequent minutes between hangovers and the next round of drinks. Although the ME was well-placed to follow, report on, boost, and gossip about, the late fifties and early sixties stars - the 2i's crowd, the British Answers to Elvis (assuming we knew the questions)- it didn't quite *pop*, didn't really get one over on its early and permanent Moriarty, the Melody Maker.  It reacted by changing its name to the New Musical Express.  And although it grew mightily and prospered, it still wasn't differentiated.  Rolling Stone appeared, and ate its lunch.

Things had to change. Then, "one afternoon at the end of 1971, Alan Smith was pulled out of the New Musical Express writers' room and sent for a crisis meeting with senior IPC staff". The "hands of the NME clock were at five to midnight and unless something was done within months to arrest the decline in sales, the magazine would be shut down." He was given three months to turn the paper around.

This turned out to be an unbelievably apropos time. Not only was February 1972 the date when I started buying newspapers and taking an interest in music and the world around me, it was also the approximate date when the younger siblings of the hippies, who had missed out on 1967, Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix and any associated Surrealistic Pillows, also all sat up and started to take notice. The book quotes cultural commentator Peter York (who he?): "The story of the seventies was the story of everyone getting in on what a minority got in the sixties because they were in the right place at the right time." That's a slightly different slant, but same effect: The NME modernized itself in a few weeks, brought in the best brains of the Underground Press, took in the effect of the music festivals, including Bowie's performance at Glastonbury Fayre, and absorbed the influence of Time Out and the burgeoning mimeographed fanzines.

Reading my underground press - That's All You Need by the Faces.

My favorite writers came on board - Nick Kent, Mick Farren and Charles Shaar Murray. The older writers were hippies, but sort of forward looking - they had, after all, produced Schoolkid's Oz - and all were prose stylists with a wonderful turn of phrase. Many of the newer writers had heard of this Rock'n'Roll shit and wanted a piece for themselves, and some, chiefly Nick Kent, were quite capable of outdoing their heroes in the drugs and rock'n'roll arena. (We don't hear a lot about the sex, although there seem to have been convulsions later based on who was screwing, or should be screwing, Julie Burchill.) NME continued to add excellent writers and more articles about what was happening - Rock Against Racism, gay rights, the UK's successful attacks on the remaining unions - all through the seventies. We had Tony Parsons - he was a hip young gunslinger, once - and Steven Wells (Seething Wells). Half a dozen other stars.

Nick Kent namechecked sarcastically as the best dressed man in town in Press Darlings, by Adam and the Ants. Nick couldn't catch a break - he was once beaten up by Sid Vicious.

Post punk, I pretty much stopped reading the NME, and according to the book, I wasn't the only one. It continued, of course, but with a vastly shrunken page count and weekly circulation. The ads went to the new glossies, as lifestyle magazines were becoming a thing and the readers drifted off, to adult life or to those glossies. New readers tended to go to new glossy Smash Hits, founded by NME staffers, but in color, funny and snarky, and concentrating on pop.

The book does seem to end not with a bang but a Wimpy, but perhaps that's just me, as the paper I knew did indeed collapse into the Big Whimper. It's a great read, if you were there, and that's from 1935 to 1980, or thereabouts.

I couldn't close a book review without complaining about the proof reading.  This has few of the standard errors; I caught a "gyspy" and a "Quadrophrenia", and that was about it. But it has an instance of a startling new development in publishing. Language Log has noticed that ebooks tend to have people who do a global find-and-replace without considering what might be affected - in that case, a book where every instance of the word "kindle" was replaced by "Nook" which makes sense only if publishers are talking in the attached ads about the e-readers called Kindle and Nook, but not in the actual fictional text, where people are now apparently referring to lights as having being "Nookd".  In this (non-e-)  book, every instance of the word "matt" has disappeared. This may be because someone who features in the book is called "Mat" with one 't', but if that's true the expected replace function hasn't been performed. This means that in several cases, something really ers, or people are asked what's the er.  In the first instance, which puzzled me for most of the book, until I worked it out, we were told about the "people responsible for foring text submitted by the journalists." Other than that, it's well written and edited. 

The Dead Weather - the first three years

Three years ago today, on June 17th 2009, I went to my first Dead Weather gig. It was at the Roxy, in Los Angeles and came hard on the heels of the opening of the Jimmy Page/Jack White/The Edge guitar movie, It Might Get Loud. And now there's a hint that the Dead Weather may still be a thing today....

I wrote extensively about both The Dead Weather and the movie, back in the day. I Raconteurs fan and if the Raconteurs were to be no more, I thought, I'll go see this band and maybe I'll like them (or at least like them more than the Cold Mountain soundtrack, which gave compelling evidence that Jack White was becoming a folkie, or a singer of Americana as it's called now).  This turned out to be a significant understatement. I loved the Dead Weather, flew all over the country to see them, made the sort of online friends you make; and in many cases lost them in the sort of ways you lose online friends.

The Roxy gig was loud, and raw - a couple of mistakes were heard. Jimmy Page was in the VIP area. The crowd was relatively quiet, as we didn't really know the songs yet. The whole thing was recorded professionally, and can still be seen on the band's YouTube channel.

They were pretty new then, having formed in January, 2009 (at least, according to Wikipedia) recording several tracks at Third Man records, and then performing at the opening of the Third Man Records store, on March 11th 2009.  At that gig, the band gave away a goodie bag including among other things a copy of Hang You From the Heavens/Are Friends Electric? with sleeves hand painted by the band members. One of these recently sold for over $3000, so I guess collectors' items appreciate quickly in the modern world. (I have a Roxy Dead Weather poster, but it hasn't apparently reached those dizzying heights yet.)

Jack's been strolling in a minstrelsy way around town as a solo artist (which means he has two six piece or nearabouts bands, but since they are sidemen (and sidewomen) backing him, they don't really count. Three bands were enough, and he'll never form another, he said in February.) Along the way, the Dead Weather have ceased to be, but like the ex-parrot, they are still nailed to their perch. Jack White doesn't end bands - he seems to have some issues with that type of finality, given the way he pinned the end of the White Stripes so definitively on Meg White.  Like the Raconteurs, they still exist, if the members actually get around to doing it again. Unlike the Raconteurs, they might actually do it. Last Sunday, June 10th 2012, Jack White appeared on the chatroom area of fan site The Vault and declared that there had just been a Dead Weather reunion.

I've simplified the conversation a bit, but here's the gist of it.  Don't send me a's technically a derivative work but so what. Wait, what? Jack sending DMCAs?  Sounds unlikely? Not a bit of it.  Jack's been sending cease and desist letters to people who share his files and taking down videos from YouTube in an apparent effort to rewrite his own history - I guess getting his image out of the hands of what he once called the Sea of Cowards (us) makes him feel better.

Chatroom speak reads from the bottom up. Don't ask me why. It was probably dee rigger for something on a university's VAX in 1986 and we're stuck with it.

[JackWhite] bye bye bye
[JackWhite] or sense of balance
[JackWhite] with no ladder
[JackWhite] like washing windows from the other side
[JackWhite] i have some chores to do around here
[JackWhite] have to go
[JackWhite] but sometimes she feels 60
[JackWhite] alison is almost six feet tall
[lsnyder] How is Alison?
[JackWhite] but now alison is watching black sabbath
[JackWhite] we had a dead weather reunion yesterday in my living room
[stripes333] JackWhite: will there be a dead weather reunion at outside lands?
[JackWhite] nevermind
[JackWhite] did i think that or type it?
[JackWhite] i killed a man once
[JackWhite] my neck is straight, like an arrow
[JackWhite] i'm good, good like good humor ice cream
[drdano] JackWhite: how's the neck ?
[lsnyder] How are you, Jack?
[JackWhite] yep yep yep
[JackWhite] ................
[JackWhite] ................
[JackWhite] ................

It probably means they spent an afternoon drinking champagne and lying on the couch comparing airplane-held-on-tarmac horror stories, but it just might mean something's happening.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ray Bradbury and Mr. Electrico

Reading a eulogy (an eulogy?) of Ray Bradbury today, it occurred to me that there may not be any such thing as what music/popular culture writer Greil Marcus called "the old, weird America". I think Ray Bradbury made it up.  According to Margaret Atwood's article, this happened to Bradbury:
At the age of 12 – as he tells us on his website – he had a definitive encounter with a stage magician called Mr Electrico. This was in the age of travelling circuses and the like, and Mr Electrico had a unique act: he sat in an electrified chair, thus in turn electrifying a sword he held, with which he in turn electrified the spectators, making their hair stand on end and sparks come out of their ears. He electrified young Bradbury in this manner, while shouting, "Live Forever!" The child had to go to a funeral the next day, a close encounter with death that led him to seek out Mr Electrico once more to find out how this living forever thing was to be done. The old carney showed him around what used to be called the freak show – complete with a tattooed man who was later to morph into the Illustrated Man – and then told him that he, Ray, contained the soul of Mr Electrico's best friend, who had died in the first world war.  
That seems unlikely, doesn't it? I'm sure he made it up, along with everything else he wrote.

I'm thinking when Stephen King sadly goes, we'll see America as it's always been - filled with iPads and bitter partisan politics and Pacquiao mysteriously losing in Vegas. The hobo-freight-hopping, dustbowl-fleeing, folk-singing, carney-following, cabinet-of-curiosity-making past will flicker out of existence, like William Gibson's Gernsback Continuum, except it'll be a past that never was instead of a future that never was.

New word: unvealed

I was charmed to see a blog use a new word today. Regarding Aberystwyth, which laid off all its traffic wardens in a fit of austerity, it said:
A survey by NCP found it to be the worst place in the U.K. to find parking spaces, and a study in 2006 unvealed that about a third of the drivers on the road at any given time were simply looking for a spot to park. 
 I looked up "unvealed" on Google, and found 41,200 hits. The original words "unveiled" and "revealed" got 79 million and 71 million respectively. I expect this new portmanteau word to go places fast.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Ziggy Stardust - forty years old this week

A couple of things were forty years old this week.

One of them is an album that fits in with this year's 40 years of Glam Rock theme.

One is a photo that really doesn't.

I'm not sure that I saw the photo of Kim Phuc fleeing down a road, her clothes melted off her back and her skin eaten through by Napalm, when it was first published in 1972.  I've seen it numerous times since, and even so it was only recently that I realized how badly she was burned. When you look closely, you can see the blisters on her left arm even in this photograph. She almost died; USA Today ran a story this week of how the photographer, Nick Ut, spurning the Star-Trek-non-interference-superior-civilization rules that encumber many of his profession, drove her to hospital, flashed his US press badge and told them to do their best to save her. Another correspondent, Christopher Wain of ITN, who had treated her at the scene with all he had on hand - a canteen of water to cool her burning back - got her transferred to an American hospital in Saigon. Most of the rest of the story is hardly happy (it's all at the link) but Kim seems to have survived it all with the aid of a big heart.

When the photo was printed in the US, she was, as far as anyone knew, dying. It was a powerful anti-war message that rang around the world. It may have helped to end the Vietnam conflict, but the vaccine wore off and the US has been involved in war after war ever since. It's in half a dozen right now.

You'd think that at some point some powerful people would say, "Let's see, we have some of the cleverest and best-resourced people in the world here. I wonder if we can come up with some sort of conflict resolution that doesn't involve burning everyone who doesn't like us (and passers-by) to death?"

Killing everyone who disagrees with you is quite a powerful way of resolving a conflict, and in theory would work swimmingly well. In practice it fails. That's because everyone whose kids or parents get cooked start to hate you for some odd reason, so every time it solves a problem, it creates two or more future problems. Obama is probably smart enough to know this, but he's not really in charge of the military. Arms manufacturers are, and they would be pissed if their Golden Goose died. So it carries on.

The Independent reports that the NATO commander apologized this week for killing 18 civilians.
Afghan officials have said the airstrike called in by Nato troops killed 18 civilians.
"I know that no apology can bring back the lives of the children or the people who perished in this tragedy and this accident, but I want you to know that you have my apology and we will do the right thing by the families," Allen told the group of about two dozen Afghans gathered at a base at the provincial capital of Pul-i-Alam.
(I'm not sure why NATO, Canada, UK and others followed the US into Afghanistan.  If I was their mother, I'd use this as one of those, "If you see your friend jumping out of a window, would you jump out too?" moments. Hopefully they'll know better next time.)You don't see apologies like that from the US, but that's because the US has a policy of just not apologizing for killing civilians.  It's probably not important anyway. If someone drone-struck my family and then said, "Oops - totally not what I meant to do! Sorry!" I would not be much mollified.

Anyway, as a tween in England in 1972, I had heard of Vietnam but it was all a long way off. I think I've mentioned before that British hippies tended to sing about gnomes, whereas the American hippies were more grounded in reality.

One of those who sang about gnomes was David Bowie, a chameleon who sat near a few snapshots to see how the color would look on his skin before settling on the orange visage of Ziggy Stardust. Unlike the torture of Kim Phuc, I saw it right away and reached out for it, and it did change my life.

I didn't have any earlier Bowie albums - with or without gnomes - and didn't hear them until later, when I started to frequent record shops and head shops which would always have Cygnet Committee or Andy Warhol or Width of a Circle or Changes playing over the PA. I've always been a guitar whore, though. I didn't learn that from anywhere - it was always there. So when Starman was released as a single, with the Morse code guitar figure, I was all over it. At least in the sense that I didn't buy it, but I did buy the album.

It didn't disappoint. Although getting up to move the needle to avoid Soul Love was a bit of a bother, the rest of it rocked. Marc Bolan seemed to have some secret door in his wardrobe to another world, where things were otherwordly, but more intimate, with moodier lighting and softer sounds and much more Kahlil Gibran Elfin poetry, but David Bowie, although quite as Glam, seemed to have a much more muscular, artistic and far less verbal approach. And I was all about guitars, so Mick Ronson's awesome playing kept me captivated.

I sort of got the story. In later interviews, the 'concept' of Ziggy Stardust seems to have grown to include what the Starmen were thinking and why we only had five years left to cry in, but at the time, without bonus tracks, and without any life experience whatsoever, it was possible to determine:  We have only five years left (for some reason) and Ziggy Stardust is a rock star. He is a bit of a drama queen (for years I assumed Lady Stardust was his girlfriend), but something something about becoming the nazz and a leper messiah and the kids killing the man, then he commits suicide. ( I love Rock'n'Roll Suicide - the imagery is vivid, like the view is unfolding right before your eyes.)

I fell out with David Bowie sometime in 1972 when he said in the papers that Marc Bolan was "prissy and fey and engrossed in his own image" - pot, meet kettle etc. - but continued to buy his albums as soon as they came out until the mid-eighties. I often listen to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to this day.


Happy sesquicentennial of Blaydon Races!

We used to have to sing it at school, or something. I definitely remember having to sing it, anyway.

Aw went to Blaydon Races, 'twas on the ninth of Joon,
Eiteen hundred an' sixty-two, on a summer's efternoon;
Aw tyuk the 'bus frae Balmbra's, an' she wis heavy laden,
Away we went alang Collingwood Street, that's on the road to Blaydon.
Ah me lads, ye shud only seen us gannin',
We pass'd the foaks upon the road just as they wor stannin';
Thor wes lots o' lads an' lasses there, all wi' smiling faces,
Gawn alang the Scotswood Road, to see the Blaydon Races.
We flew past Airmstrang's factory, and up to the "Robin Adair",
Just gannin' doon te the railway bridge, the 'bus wheel flew off there.
The lasses lost their crinolines off, an' the veils that hide their faces,
An' aw got two black eyes an' a broken nose in gan te Blaydon Races.
When we gat the wheel put on away we went agyen,
But them that had their noses broke they cam back ower hyem;
Sum went to the Dispensary an' uthers to Doctor Gibbs,
An' sum sought out the Infirmary to mend their broken ribs.
Noo when we gat to Paradise thor wes bonny gam begun;
Thor was fower-an-twenty on the 'bus, man, hoo they danced an' sung;
They called on me to sing a sang, aw sung them "Paddy Fagan",
Aw danced a jig an' swung my twig that day aw went to Blaydon.
We flew across the Chain Bridge reet into Blaydon toon,
The bellman he was callin' there, they call him Jackie Broon;
Aw saw him talkin' to sum cheps, an' them he was pursuadin'
To gan an' see Geordy Ridley's concert in the Mechanics' Hall at Blaydon.
The rain it poor'd aw the day an' myed the groons quite muddy,
Coffy Johnny had a white hat on - they war shootin' "Whe stole the cuddy."
There wes spice stalls an' munkey shows an' aud wives selling ciders,
An' a chep wiv a hapenny roond aboot, shootin' "Noo, me lads, for riders."
The song is now usually sung with more modern language but retaining the Tyneside dialect. For example the chorus might be sung:
Oh! me lads, ye shud a' seen us gannin,
Passin' the folks upon the road just as they were stannin'.
Thor wis lots o' lads and lasses there, all wi' smiling faces
Gannin' alang the Scotswood Road to see the Blaydon Races.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

What did we do to make Jack White mad this time (baby)?

I haven't seen this news out there, in the Hi World! part of the world so here goes. Jack White has declared that none of his live recordings may be shared by fans.

On the 21st May, one Jack White fan who was sharing live concerts via Mediafire received a Cease and Desist (C&D) letter. Not a DMCA Takedown notice, or a notice of violation of TOS, but a full-blown letter written by Jack White's lawyer Stacy Fass, and reading in part:
I represent Jack White. It has come to my attention that, in violation of multiple rights of my client's, as well as violation of the clearly posted rules of The Ryman Theater, you audio/visually recorded Jack White live performance on either or both May 15 and May 16, 2012, and have posted the same to the public.
It was addressed to a first name and username rather than a legal name, and used that odd phrase "posted to the public" but it was still very definitely a lawyer's letter, and the person involved took the files down immediately.

Let's take a step back.  Copying a piece of artwork, like a record, and selling it to the public is usually called piracy, and the folks who do it are chased down and prosecuted.  Taping a live recording, and making it available for free to other fans, although similar copyright regulations apply, is generally tolerated by bands.  These files are often called ROIO, recordings of independent origin, and the people who tape and upload are called bootleggers, in the old tradition, although most of them would call themselves simply tapers. Taping has been going on a long time – bands like the Grateful Dead have special areas in front of the stage where tapers can set up good equipment not be bothered by noisy fans during the recording.

Jack White has been cool with it too. Hundreds of recordings from the White Stripes days were circulating.  There was no discussion of whether Raconteurs or Dead Weather shows could or could not be taped, and so plenty of people taped or videoed those as well  –  and White said nothing. The current tour, though, has a posted no photographs, no taping policy in place. (I think – I've only seen no photography signs, but I'm told it was made clear Jack White did not want taping.)

So since there is a posted no taping, no photographs policy at the current live shows, was this C&D letter just a shot across the bows to show he really meant it?  Jack likes to be in control of every aspect of his image, and so to save us the bother and to provide the professional touch, he posts photographs of every concert taken by his house photographer to his website. Maybe, we thought, he's keeping the videos off the inadequate screen of YouTube-o-vision in preparation for a blistering live release later on?

Good thought, but no. For a start there have been several audio and video webcasts of this concert series all webcast on YouTube with Computer Speaker Sound, so it can't be the quality that's bugging him. And secondly, a day after the first letter (that I know about) was received, the popular filesharing site Dime received a request to put Jack White on the Not Allowed Bands list (NAB), along with the previously untroubling bands, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather.

The day after that, another fan of my acquaintance got a C&D letter to take Jack White recordings off Mediafire. (In amongst all of this, I got a DMCA Takedown to take a Jack White interview off Mediafire, but since it contained no music, I'm assuming this was coincidental. I deleted my Mediafire account anyway, just in case.) He means it.

The thing that's bothering the fans I know is White's silence in the matter.  Nothing has been said on the Vault, nothing on Third Man Records' blog, nothing on Jack White's website, and nothing on the fan message board where this first came up  – even though we know that various Third Man honchos trawl the messageboard whenever they feel like seeing what real-life people are doing.

What bugs folks

When the White Stripes broke up, White issued a statement that said in part:
"The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful."
Quoting this tends to lead to derisive laughter from other parties and a sneery "Did you really think he meant he was putting his music in the public domain?" Well, no, but we thought he meant what he said, within the usual borders of artistic license – that fans have a part to play in the legacy of the White Stripes. Now, we are told, we apparently don't have a part to play – except to consume product – and Jack hasn't said why.

I'm sure someone will write and ask why I'm complaining that my entitlement has disappeared or why I felt this was ever okay to do. Good questions – but I'm not complaining, just wondering why there's a change in a laissez faire policy that's been in effect for more than ten years.   And I felt it was okay to share ROIO because I'm quite sure they never cost a sale.

On the contrary, folks who share files usually buy a lot of merchandise. I buy a rock bottom minimum of $240 a year from Third Man, since I'm a Vault member and that's what it costs. I buy official releases as they come out, t shirts, posters and the usual doodads. I have a Raconteurs stylophone! If that's not buying product, I don't know what is. And on the other hand, having access to the live files means we can interest new fans. I'm not big on the White Stripes myself, but I'm told those live shows are blistering, and a listen to those can turn waverers  into fans like a switch being thrown.

I'm equally sure that Brendan Benson, Little Jack Lawrence, Patrick Keeler and Dean Fertita were enjoying having these advertisements for their songwriting and playing and (in three of their cases) general rock and roll badassery being circulated by fans. No need to inveigle anyone to click on a photo of one weird tip here – people are actually seeking out these performances and listening to them and then going out and buying more – it's a marketer's dream. 

So what did we do to make you mad this time, baby?


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Zombie Plague Awareness

If you're ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency.

 The CDC is ready for the zombie plague - and after the face-eater in Florida, the brain-eater in Maryland and the ass-cheek-eater in Canada this week, I'd say they're only just in time.

Also they appear to have picked Undead!JackWhite as their zombie model, which makes the zombie acropolis look quite nice.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Happy 40th, Glam Rock! My 1972 Diary, July.

July 3rd.
Alice Cooper is T. Rexellent!

[I still love Alice Cooper.]

July 11th.

Went to Tutankhamun Exhibition. Very good! Five hours queue but I had frequent journeys into the rest of the museum.  Fine day.
[It's impossible to overestimate the impression the first Tutankhamen Exhibition – carefully spelled 'Tutankhamun' – had on the British public. The lines were beyond Disneyland in extent.  This was a school trip, so with dozens of us in the line, I could skip off and visit all my favorite Egyptology rooms in the British Museum. Why on earth they didn't give you a place-holder and tell you to come back in five hours, I don't know. The modern world is so convenient compared with the fricken' seventies. Even those brick-like beepers restaurants give you these days so you don't clog up the foyer  repelling potential patrons would be better than having half the schoolkids in England lining up behind half a mile of ropes for 5 hours. Sheesh.  But it was worth it – the exhibition stunned me, even though I'd been reading books about the contents of his tomb for half my young life. From the beautiful and unimaginably precious gold mask to the little touches of humanity various people had left strewn around the tomb, it was a tour de force.]

July 12th.
Lazed about all morning. In the afternoon went to baths [pool] with Jill Wood. Mum brought Beard of Stars back.

[Why, where had it been? Damn the tersitude of this diary!]

July 17th.
Have to be up at five to get bus for Belgium in the morning.

[Another school trip.]

July 25th.
Came off boat. I found Godfather on it. Motored back. Didn't find poster coz shop closed.

[I didn't write anything at all for the entire trip to Belgium, although I remember it quite well. I actually vaguely remember buying a Marc Bolan poster and looking at it in the bus, so I'm not sure why the contemporaneous record disagrees with my obviously infallible memory.  I remember the Godfather (the book by Mario Puzo) though.  It had the first sex scene I'd ever read in it. I carefully dog-eared it for further perusal and of course my mother found it and threw it away within days. It served me in good stead, since later on I was the only person in my group to understand the reference to "a baby's arm holding an apple" in the Tubes' song What Do You Want From Life?]

July 26th.
Bought new T. Rex album, The Slider – Fantastic!

July 28th.
Bought Schools Out End of College. Listened to it all day. Album that is.

[I still love Alice Cooper. My parents hated them. They surely couldn't see through my clever deception above though.]


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