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Poppies

Posted 28 September 2005, 12.54 am by Waldo

God-damned human-beings. You fucking apes. Monkeys in monkey suits. You violent, tribal cock-suckers, even now. Civilization only increase the size of our idiocy and desire. We’re murderers, things of passion and quietude. But in as much as we’re social animals and conflicting ones we’ve that darling war with us. That horseman.

So long as there’s society there’s war, the massive struggle of the blind acted out by the faceless. Were it not physical we’d find another way of acting it out. The struggle, our struggle

And there are those who say we shouldn’t at all. That recognizing our oneness in humanity is paramount, that to do so would be Progress (ignoring the boons of war and not just for the victor in the matter).

Is Germany better now than if they’d won the second World War? I’ll leave that the man in the High Castle, but I’m inclined to think “Yes.” for whatever reason I’ll cast next.

But perhaps that is unfair, perhaps putting those words in the pacifist’s mouth is unfair and paints him poorly. The fundamental, inescapable proposition behind any pacifist is this: My life is more important than any idea. It might go differently clothed, but that’s the heart of it.

Wars are fought for whatever reason the blind should wish. Land, resources, “They’ve the wrong color skin and are poor,” “My polls are slagging off! Nukes to the ready!” and on and on. They need only invent and lie. Or open their mouths. But there is such a thing as a just war.

So long we hold concepts high there will be. We’ve seen wars of liberation, of independence and the death of kings. Rome even freed herself and those thousand Greeks held off the well learned Persians. And these ideas are significant. The freedom of Rome had vast, infinite really to human eyes, consequences ever since. History makes and murders us all and the idea of a Republic came into the middle of the Italian peninsula and burst over everything.

But we might not re-write history. Would any of our beloved modern rights and privileges survive the fall of Rome to Carthage? Would Xerxes re-write Title IX? If some blameless sniper puts one through Washington’s palate do only the richest princes of Europe own a personal computer?

So set that aside. Fuck history, the bitch isn’t useful for anything else.

Let’s murder each other. Let’s agree to for the sake of our principles. Is it worth dying to save the vote? Even if it doesn’t last, is it worth a life so that some society might be freer as we define it?

The pacifist says no, he says that nothing matters more than that his own two lungs remain free of metal and blood, that his precious heart keep going on until cold and alone with the natural, scarless corpses of his family in his mind he passes like a flat, warm turd from this world. The pacifist values nothing beyond himself. He is selfish and blind beyond himself and should be spit upon, that the impact might bring some awareness.

Surely not all wars are just.

Had the second World War gone the other way it might be called just, it did then after-all save us at least from the horrors of Jewish traitors and manipulation. Those damned filthy kikes. And give us a world free of communism and capitalism, those great exploiters. The great fascist, the man of action who needn’t’ve thought a day in his life, stands to show the way. Dear Leader!

But we say that the war against the Nazis was a good one, one for freedom and peace, while the war begun by the Nazis, the war of extermination and conquest (for surely we didn’t intend to conquer anyone and remake them as we best saw fit), carried out in the name of peace and freedom, was unjust, was criminal in fact.

Again, I’ve wandered into history.

Ideas are what matter, ideas change things and need to be fought for in minds and bodies. Should any think different they mustn’t value their world beyond themselves and mustn’t have any sense of the future but only themselves. Those selfish twigs, less than worthless things they do more than drag us down but do damage. Foul creatures. Spit on them.

Should we cease dreaming? Should we die in our minds and live only in the world? Progress is earned and measured in pints and white crosses. To give up on war is to say that so long as it’s bearable, life is good. What foulness to stain yourself with, what an appeal to the lowest possible thought, the egoism and selfishness of it. Not everything is worth dying for. You needn’t love your country or your neighbors or even hate the fellows you’ll be sent to murder (to say that war isn’t a sort of murder is to absolve all sides of any moral foresight and destroy the idea that commanders can be held accountable when their soldiers rape the countryside or butcher or gas and burn prisoners, war is nothing but full of murderers) to find a reason, you might only think that the principle of democracy is significant or that fully half the population of Iraq shouldn’t be disenfranchised but theocrats, nevermind also the ethnic atrocities political and other.

If life is to have meaning, we must have war, we must have ideas and give them the significance they demand. To remove war as a justifiable option is to take down whatever meaning life has.

Baghdad or Bust

Posted 26 September 2005, 5.56 am by Duncan-O

So we put on our desert cammies this week. They’ve been balled up on the floor of my closet since they were issued about four months ago. I pulled them out the other day and took them to the cleaners to get them starched and pressed so they’ll look all nice up until we leave for the sandbox. After I wear each set (in this cool weather, they’re good for two or three wearings before the creases fall out and they start to get a little funky), I’ll soak them in this stinky permethrin solution they issued us to keep the bugs away. The pesticide, in addition to being a carcinogen, lasts about 6 washes before the clothing needs to be retreated. It’s a very useful chemical – it’s credited with saving thousands of young lives in Africa by way of impregnated mosquito nets. It may smell like turpentine, but it sure beats Leishmaniasis or malaria or sandfleas or any of the other nasties just waiting in the Iraqi desert to feast on my tender white skin.

The new uniforms are significant in the way that only those units that are about to deploy or those who are getting back wear them. People have been looking at us differently. In a town chock-full of people in camouflage, I guess we stand out. But the uniforms are also significant to me in that every time I look at myself in the mirror or check my watch and catch a glimpse of my shades-of-tan sleeve, I am reminded of the enormity of what I’ve taken on for myself. Will I make the right choices?

My greatest fear, other than my mother endlessly weeping, is dishonoring myself. After that, it’s Cindy Sheehan sticking a shitty white cross with my name Sharpie-d onto it into the dirt in Crawford, Texas. Or Sean Hannity telling his listeners that I sacrificed for Freedom. Fuck you, fuck all of you who claim to speak for us. You claim to “support the troops,” yet use the blood and agony, the full-body burns, the severed limbs and severed lives, the infidelity and divorces and broken families brought about by long deployments; you use all of this to support your own agenda. You think you know. You think you have a fucking clue, yet you use death as a paving stone in the road of your good intentions.

Because I joined, maybe presumptuously, to make a difference. I joined because I thought my judgement, my skills, my brainpower might help alleviate the suffering caused by this clusterfuck we’ve been aggravating in Iraq since I was a child.

I joined because it’s my responsibility.

Why Recycling Is Bad For Our Musical Environment

Posted 18 September 2005, 1.02 pm by Alexander

So, we’re all aware that recycling our household waste helps save the planet and keeps the cost of my dolphin-skin loafers down, but the practice of recycling musical ideas helps no-one.

I’m getting increasingly annoyed with the lack of imagination, and just plain laziness, evinced by bands recently. All too often, the same riffs are knocked out under the guise of “influenced by” or “homage to”, when really what the bands should be saying is “yeah, we tried writing our own and they just weren’t as good”. If the rest of Led Zeppelin were dead, you could wrap copper wire round their spinning corpses and use them as a power source.

As musicians, are we that afraid of failure that we’d rather tread a well worn path, jump on an already full bandwagon, than actually do something different? And if it’s not the artists to blame, it must be the record buying public. Why do they listen to Franz Ferdinand and not Gang of Four? Why do people listen to Razorlight (at all)? Could it be that cynical record companies prey on the ignorance of the punter to keep selling them the same thing in different packaging?

It’s important to remember that music doesn’t have a half-life, so all these young’uns who weren’t around when the levee broke, could just as easily go and buy the back catalogue, listen to the roots of the “new music” and draw their own influence from it - pick it and choose it and respond to an original rather than a cheap photocopy. I’m not saying we should all listen to Robert Johnson and disregard the Stones, but we should recognize that Jagger et al owed much of their success to Howling Wolf, and go back and rediscover the source. And don’t worry about robbing today’s bright young things of a living – bands like Bloc Party and The Libertines should be giving their royalties to The Jam anyway.

Pop really will eat itself, and this constant in-breeding, this regurgitation of the same signature guitar chops and vocal stylings just serves to water down any kind of personality, feeling and meaning the music was supposed to have. Okay, there’s only seven notes to play with, but they’re supposed to be put in a pot with your worries, your experiences, your passions and served hot and fresh. Not reheated from a crackly vinyl LP you found in your dad’s loft.
It all comes down to taking risks, and I would much rather watch a band try something new and fail, than succeed in aping their heroes. And with the exception of Stars in their Eyes viewers, so would everyone else.

The Song's the Thing

Posted 12 September 2005, 10.52 pm by Alexander

As a songwriter there’s one thing I aspire to – the perfect song - writing a collection of thoughts, notes, rhythms and dynamics that affects someone else. It’s really that simple. That’s the reason I started making music, because I want to have an emotional impact on other people, as my heroes have had an emotional (and often philosophical) impact on me. When people say to me “I’ve had one of your songs stuck in my head all day” it’s fantastic – one of the best feelings in the world is renting out a portion of someone’s subconscious, even if they could just as easily say the same thing about the Crazy Frog.

I believe fundamentally that a good song transcends it’s treatment – it’s arguable that Bob Dylan couldn’t really sing, or play guitar, but he’s written some of the most timeless songs in musical history. I believe a truly great song could be played on a kazoo, and still be great. This is how Abba survive the horrible 70s production, and countless 80s bands have songs that are rediscovered continually, despite the mullets and flecked jumpers. You just can’t kill a good song, unless you’re the Crazy Frog perhaps.

But OK, where does this leave artists like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Boyd Rice? Things get a little more complicated now – these aren’t karaoke classics, you can’t sing along, but yet qualitatively they’re just as important as David Bowie or Jimi Hendrix. Why? Because music is a form of communication. Just as we communicate using body language, nuances of speech and implication, so music communicates through emotion, artifice and intent.

A week or so ago I attended a metal gig, four bands playing incredibly heavy, loud hardcore. Not usually my cup of tea, but it was definitely interesting. The vocalist of each band would give the crowd the long and involved song title, then proceed to grunt, scream and shout unintelligibly for four or five minutes. One of the bands was from Sweden, and I swear I couldn’t tell you which one. I was left thinking – what is being communicated here? Of course I was looking in the wrong place – the message wasn’t necessarily in the sounds being produced, but the energy and aggression and intent of the musicians. The message quite literally was FWAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH. I’d been a fool. It was awesome.

So yes, the song is the thing, but the song is no longer a story told around a campfire with an acoustic guitar. It’s drop D tuned guitars and five string basses, tortured samplers and asymmetrical fringes. Like our own vocal chords, music has evolved.

What's My Motivation?

Posted 4 September 2005, 1.20 pm by Alexander

First off, let’s start with a warning. If you’re the type of person who sneers derisively when someone mentions art, or thinks calling yourself an artist is “pretentious”, you might want to turn the page, because I’m going to talk about the role of the musician and why it’s so important that the people we allow on our stages have at least a transitory grasp of how special they are.

Music transcends language, culture, geography and any of the other barricades humanity has erected between itself, making it perhaps the most powerful tool for communication we have. Music is an art form, nobody would argue that. So doesn’t that make musicians artists? I reckon so. Just as DuChamp’s urinal is – arguably - as artistically valid as Picasso’s Guernica, it makes no difference if you’re peddling three-chord punk nonsense, bewilderingly self-indulgent math-rock or oh-so-earnest singer songwriter mewling, you’re communicating with your audience and essentially creating art. This puts you in a very privileged position. You’re on stage in front of a mic, guitar in your hands, you open your mouth, raise your plectrum, then…?

This moment is the sum total of all the decisions you’ve made to get there. All the rehearsals, band meetings, drunken ramblings, trips to Top Man – this is the point at which you say to your audience “this is what I have to say, this is what I am and this is how I have chosen to use my art”. You’re making a million subconscious statements just by the way you walk on stage.

This is why music – and live music in particular – is so utterly fantastic. It’s this wall of decisions hitting you, the band image, amp settings, gauge of guitar string – none of this is really accidental, if you think about it. A band is nothing more than the sum of its parts, and one of the best things about seeing a band for the first time is waiting for that first note to be struck.

The back of my band’s T-Shirts read “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”, which is a quote from Soren Kierkegaard, a 19th century Dutch philosopher. In a nutshell, this means we have so many choices, so much freedom to do or say or sing about whatever we like, that this in itself causes us stress. This could be why bandwagon-jumping is such an ingrained practice – by following in someone else’s footsteps you’re reducing the number of choices you have to make, but as artists we should revel in this anxiety.

We should use this wealth of options to its fullest extent because the only limits are those which we ascribe to ourselves. This charged battery of potential is something incredibly special, and if you’re in the singular position of standing in front of a roomful of people, at least some of whom are paying attention, you’d better not waste it.
If you’re making music, you’re an artist and don’t forget it. Have fun for christs sake, above all have fun, but treat your art with the gravitas it deserves and it will thank you for it.

Web Standards

Posted 29 August 2005, 8.26 pm by HockeyGod

Welcome to our website; unless of course you’re blind, dyslexic, using a screen reader, magnification software, text-based browser, webTV, cell phone, or PDA, running Linux, Unix, BEos, Solaris, OS2 or FreeBSD, or haven’t updated your browser in the last year or so. You’re not important to us.


Is that a message you’d proudly display on your company homepage? The truth is, if you’re not using web standards, this is what you’re saying to roughly 20% of internet users.

I know you’re probably asking “what are web standards?” Well, web standards are nothing more than recommendations put forth by the w3c in an attempt to standardize the web. Standards are “best practices” for coding to ensure usability by all modern web browsers, and guarantee forward compatibility.

Often times, converting to standards compliant code requires nothing more than using CSS instead of font tags, writing properly nested HTML, and not using any browser-specific code (like < blink > or .innerHTML).

And the good news is, the w3c offers a code validator at http://validator.w3.org

Still need a reason to write standards compliant code? Lets look at some statistics.

As of June 2005 , only 72% of internet users were browsing with a current version of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Also as of June, there were 203,000,000 internet users in America. Is your IE only website is saying “I don’t want your business” to more than 54 million Americans?

Do you use IE only JavaScript or browser detection in your site, have a flash based intro page, use a popup for content, or font tags? Is your site done in FrontPage? Do you use inline frames?

If so, you’re not only refusing visitors but you’re wasting money too.

By using web standards, the typical FrontPage website can be reduced from 60k to 20k, thus only using 1/3 of your bandwidth.

Simply removing the depreciated font and center tags and switching to an external CSS file can reduce a 30k website down to 15 or 20k. Not only will this drastically increase your website’s speed, but it’ll also save you money on hosting and make your pages more attractive to search engines.

Using ECMAscript instead of the browser specific JavaScript or Jscript will not only assure your code will work in all future browsers, but it will stop you from paying developers to code IE and Netscape specific versions of your website.

What’s that, you haven’t heard of ECMAscript? Chances are your web developer hasn’t either. ECMAscript is the cross browser standard version of JavaScript; it’s been around since 1988.

You don’t see gas stations that only sell gas for Toyotas, so why do we design websites that only work in Internet Explorer?

Much of the problem stems from the fact that we tend to view the web as print. It’s not. Different users will see different things, let them; just make sure your site works in all browsers. I’ve seen a lot of pretty websites in IE that just don’t work at all in Firefox or Lynx.

Are aesthetics so important that they’re worth alienating 20% of your potential customers?

Ignore the Machine

Posted 26 August 2005, 7.46 am by Alexander

Ignore the machine. By which I mean, the “music business” – a phrase that should reflect the business of making music but instead just means the process of selling it. If you’ve been a musician for more than about a week you’ll have come to realize you’ve more chance of winning the lottery, or actually using a Dixon’s extended warranty, than getting that elusive record deal you always dreamt of.

So what’s wrong with chasing the dream? Nothing at all, but it’s my experience that in the process of chasing this dream you lose sight of why you started making music in the first place – what was once a fun thing to do now becomes a desperate quest to fit into whatever you perceive the record companies want.

You must understand that record companies do not respond to demand – they create it. They “discover” or just plain create the bands they want to sell (hello The Bravery), mould them to fit a demographic, throw a huge marketing budget at them and sit back to watch the general public lap it up. This is one of the reasons why we have so many “music as fashion accessory” bands (The Libertines for example) where the actual songs they’re singing are irrelevant – the record companies tell the magazines who’s hot, they tell you and you buy it. Rinse and repeat.

So what’s the solution? The solution is to IGNORE THE MACHINE. If you’re in a band, before you post that demo CD to Sony ask yourself – what can a record company offer you? Remember the only reason a record company will put you on tour, in magazines, on TV or in videos is to sell more records, for themselves. They’re not in the slightest bit interested in your ego, your art, what your songs mean to you or how hard it was to get there. Instead, why not burn CD-Rs for pence, have the sleeves printed yourselves, put them up for sale on your website, some of the countless online stores or independent record shops (Track Records in York is a good example) and take every penny of profit for yourselves. Organise gig swaps with bands from other towns – promote yourselves, be professional, leave your ego on the stage and you’ve got a lot more chance of not only being a success, but enjoying yourself in the process and retaining some dignity.

I’m convinced that if more bands did what they wanted, rather than what they think record companies want, the world would be a lot better off. If you’re a musician, if you write music that you believe in, you owe it to yourself and to your audience to be honest. If you’re trying to sound like the latest trend you’re already about a year too late, because the industry is way ahead of you. Enjoy the freedom of not having to answer to anyone – take risks, do what you fucking well like and if you fail, if you don’t sell a single CD, at least you did it your way.

AKP REQUIRE DRUMMER

Posted 18 August 2005, 12.45 pm by Alexander

AKP are one of the longest-running, most established bands in York, UK. I formed the band originally in 1999. I'm sad to say current drummer Dan is moving on to pastures new (France to be precise) so we need a new drummer asap.

Anyone who's seen us knows that we currently use an electric kit, but an acoustic kit will be just fine. You must have:

* Skill
* Commitment
* Own gear and transport.

We rehearse in York regularly, we gig all over the northeast a lot. This is a great opportunity to join a well-established, innovative band that just basically kicks a lot of ass. Lots of scope to be inventive, and just rock out. We work very hard.

Dan is playing all the booked gigs with us, filming a video and completing work on the album up until about the end of October, by which time I'm hoping to have the new drummer trained up and gig-ready so we don't have any break between line-ups.

Any questions please get in touch with me (Alexander) at weareexit@yahoo.co.uk.

Official site: www.akp.org.uk
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/akpcep

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A year or so ago I undertook a study entitled 'Faces of Death'. I produced a quite substantial body of work concerning corpses, and faces in particular. I concentrated mainly on victims of murder. This image was produced by rolling a thick layer of ink onto a steel plate and rubbing, scratching and soaking it off with turps. The plate was then pressed onto paper, and this is the result.


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Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?

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