28 October 2010

the terrible twin truths of existence

stone cold classic
KRS-One - Brighton Concorde II - 22/10/10

It’s weird isn’t it when your life revolves around your weekend; when you’re trying to pack in as much activity as you can; to see all your friends and spend some positive time with them all. To eat, drink and be merry. To talk, walk or play with the important people in your life. There’s always a birthday, a celebration, a special day, someone to commiserate or congratulate, a gig to support or one of your favourite DJ’s or performers to go see, appreciate, pay homage and dance to. Money to spend, time to fill, happiness to pursue. Dawn to dusk and beyond the sunset and before you know it it’s time to jump back into the hamster wheel of work and it’s Monday morning again. Reflections, memories, photos, reminiscences, anecdotes and an empty wallet the only things to remind of the great time you had.

There’s no avoiding that mad Beckettian grandeur about the terrible twin truths of existence: life is disappointing and death inescapable. Art is part of life and so doomed to failure in the same way. In the same way that memory plays tricks and fades sweetly leaving a glow of half remembered feelings that lose colour into a haze of forgetfulness. And amid all the excruciating self-doubt and imploding self-reflexive theatricality depicted on the dance floor or at the gig, it will reward your effort to maintain the memory and make it down as a classic weekend or a breakthrough weekend. If that effort involves a drive to Brighton to catch hip-hop legend KRS-One then so be it. Worth every minute, every penny, every excruciating endurance of thought and spirit.

In 1984 when most rappers were fixated on their cocks, drugs, ho’s and guns KRS-One was rhyming about nuclear war prevention and urging us to "Stop The Violence". He still does. Old school hip-hop, Jamaican dance hall style, new tunes, anti violence and anti corrupting powers of technology sermons; revisionist views of American history; what he calls "edutainment", all in the mix; to a sell out audience of appreciative hip-hop fans. In Brighton. A pioneering Bronx-based hip-hop artist with a socially conscious message. A man with dexterous verbosity and blunt beat sense; waxing poetically and skillfully. In 1987 came Criminal Minded; its smooth grooves and hard rhymes foreshadowing gangsta rap.

Look out for Back to the L.A.B (Lyrical Ass Beating); an upcoming EP by KRS-One. No release date has been set but top respect for a wicked show.

26 October 2010

infectious diseases in cattle

Charlie Kaufman
genius film maker
Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make; you can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won't know for twenty years. And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is: it's what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to but it doesn't really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along. Something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel whole, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is I feel so angry, and the truth is I feel so fucking sad, and the truth is I've felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long I've been pretending I'm OK, just to get along, just for, I don't know why, maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.

As the people who adore you stop adoring you; as they die; as they move on; as you shed them; as you shed your beauty; your youth; as the world forgets you; as you recognize your transience; as you begin to lose your characteristics one by one; as you learn there is no-one watching you, and there never was, you think only about driving - not coming from any place; not arriving any place. Just driving, counting off time. Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are...


Synecdoche: New York - review
Synecdoche: New York - out now on blu-ray

Synecdoche: New York - script

22 October 2010

TVC Voyage to the land of Mush - Part One. Intro.

DJ Si speaks...

As the winter chill draws in early, it’s only October after all, it’s with a sense of self admonishment that I realise I’ve not added a blog all summer.

I’ve had a summer that’s been brilliant and soul destroying in equal measure…for each wonderful party with happy smiling faces feeling the return to our hearts of the artificial internal sunlight that is mum and dad, which lifts my heart and makes me think it’s worth sacrificing sleep, money and any social networks that exist outside of the “deep house community”, there has been one dominated by the banging boys, the boo boys, the petulant horse faced girls full of booze and ket who demand it harder (they can have it harder, for sure, but not musically). The whingers and whiners, fight starters and firestarters, trustafarians, dealers of shit drugs and lovers of ear bleed trance who pollute our free party sanctuary.

It was the summer where it seemed to suddenly be acceptable for people to come to free parties and ask the people providing the sound system if they could play a different kind of music - just for them. How can anyone get it in their head that that’s OK? Tell you what - we’ll spend what paltry money we have left after taxes, food, petrol, child maintenance and the fucking beer in the Neptune and the Smack on records, leads, speakers, decks, cartridges and all the other consumer products needed to play sound in public. Then we’ll spend hours carting it round and setting it up. 3 blokes in their 40s, one with a torn cartilage in his knee and a legacy of football injuries, another with a dodgy back and detached retina. We’ll bust our ligaments humping heavy speakers in and out of houses, cars, sheds, onto beaches, into pubs, gardens, art galleries. All so you can tell us what to play! Sounds great to me…

And what you ask for is always harder and louder, more banging and trancey, more techy and lacking in melody, in vocal, in soul and sweetness. Fuck off! The clubs full of teens with Ket dribbling out of their noses play your shit. Go there! Go to the Source bar in Maidstone, go to Fabric, go to the Brewery Bar. Get the fuck away from our party…we do it cos the places that play your shit, don’t play our shit. Leave us to our sanctuary of deep house; go spend your wages with the other soulless pissheads.

Every party we did - on the beach, at Lee & Lee’s with the swimming pool, the Pharmacy gallery, even in my own fucking house, there’d be somebody asking to bang it up. As Aston Villa manager John Gregory pithily put it when his star striker Dwight Yorke said he was leaving for Man Utd - “if I’d had a gun, I’d have shot ‘im”.

The summer of piss taking twats was neatly top and tailed by playing two events for D, the former cage fighter landlord/overlord of one of Whitstable’s best loved pubs. D, like many of the ICF crew who followed West Ham, was a convert from smashing heads at football grounds to pill popping in warehouses in the rave era. He also has his birthday the day before mine.

So Oz and me are having a couple of pints propping up his bar after work some time in May, bitching about our respective jobs, dodgy drug dealers, Tory politicians, the usual. I’m looking for a way to have a birthday party which doesn’t involve me getting my house trashed for the 3rd year in a row. D’s wingman S (let’s call him Horse from here on in as that’s one of the ways he hails people from one side of a pub to the other in his booming cockney/Irish/Kentish cocktail of a baritone) has come to a couple of our beach parties, and is particularly partial to Warren’s slabs of progressive techno, Oz’s deeper harder numbers, and my acid house back catalogue. The conversation goes something like this…with stage directions….

A bar. Early evening. Two middle aged bespectacled public sector workers, O and PP, are huddled into shapeless coats talking over a beer. Round the corner of the bar, 2 considerably wider men, D and Horse, are staring into fresh pints of lager. Horse jabs a very large finger into the ribs of D. These jabs would fell a bear but D barely notices them.

H: (jabbing) Ay, D, why don’t y’ask dem fellas dere to do your party? Dey know how to trow a party

D: (still looking straight ahead) Oo?

H: Dem TVC fellas, d’ey’re cool and the gang ya know? (Turns to the left) wadda youse two reckon?

O and PP exhange nervous glances. They know these two are affable and amusing in the early evening, but highly volatile and dangerous when drunk. But they also know that they have large doses of the chaotic hedonistic spirit that makes parties fun, and never do things by halves. They’re both suckers for people who never do things by halves.

D: Alright lads. How much do you charge to do a party?

O: Not sure really…it depends. What do you wanna do?

D: Well I’ve got a marquee hired in a big house outside Faversham. Big enough for a hundred people. Bar, hog roast, got a band booked and a the missus has booked a DJ but I’d rather have you blokes playing some ‘ouse.

H nods knowingly and conspiratorially puts a finger to his lips. He leans forwards as if a member of the Flying Squad is listening in, and takes in a sharp breath.

H: and dese boys do a good party…oo hoo hoo…wait til you hear what dat Warren plays…

D: How much then lads?

I have two competing visions in my mind….a marquee full of people rushing pleasantly as we lift them up stage by stage with swathes of beautiful house music at 4am…alternating with D and H lifting us up and throwing us into the Swale with our sound system cos they didn‘t like what we were playing. But when we’re offered a oner towards our new speakers, and learn that the band is Paul the Other One - my ambivalence is overruled…The other DJ is given a score to stand easy, and we’ve got our date.

To read how it turned out, check the blog next week

21 October 2010

leave us nothing but grief and pain

My friend Tanya had her birthday thing last night and we went to Canterbury to catch a show called 'I've Looked in the Window at Diamonds'. It’s a bit of a reason for this but basically her dad, who was going to go with her but had to go to Grimsby instead as T’s sister was having a baby. He was friends with one of the cast members, Sid Moon, and was probably killing two birds with one stone in taking his daughter out and supporting his chum. So, obviously, he couldn’t go and C and I got the tickets. Anyway, as Robert Burns said;

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

As a well educated member of the working class scum I’ve always been a fan of Brecht. Who hasn’t? Our favourite Marxist lovey who used the theatre as a forum for political ideas and the creation for the critical aesthetics of dialectical materialism. Yummy. And put to song? How can we lose?

Collective and collaborative working methods were inherent to Brecht's approach and one of his collaborators was Kurt Weill. The outcome of this was The Threepenny Opera, a Marxist critique of capitalism, which included the ballad "Mack the Knife". Engels directed the original production of The Threepenny Opera in 1928 don't cha know, so Marxist credentials aboud and ooze.

Who could resist such a combo? The Venn diagram overlappings of two songwriting powers Weill, Brecht and an enthusiastic ‘group of amateurs creating individual and "new" theatrical works, based exclusively in the community of East Kent’ called The Really Promising Company, as their website says. Brecht would have loved it seeing his songs performed in the privileged surrounds and Gothic arches of the King’s School Canterbury’s inner sanctum or their, er, refectory.

But, the evening didn’t start well; we left the house late, we didn’t know where the gig was, went to the wrong place at first, couldn’t find the venue and couldn’t find a parking space. Tom and Tanya were waiting patiently for us by the King’s Gate. I spent a lot of time counting to 10 as C slowly burnt a fuse.

We were dubious about even entering the venue late as they had already started but went in anyway. Everyone turned and looked at us. It was so embarrassing. Eventually we got sat down just as the first Brecht/Weill song started; which was a bonus.

The cast all looked the part; costumes were great and it really was a treat to be close to the performers and the accompanying musicians which included the excellent pianist Rosemary Rathbone. The singing was top notch. They jauntily sped through Weill’s impressive history of collaboration with a selection of songs from the likes of Gershwin, Hammerstein and Ogden Nash. Such a treat.

The theatrical ‘transitions’, including his relationship with Lotte Lenya, were a little rushed and cheesy, yet humorous. I remember her best, in my popular cultural back catalogue of memories as the SPECTRE agent Rosa Klebb in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love, although she is best remembered by more cultured people  for her performances of the songs of her husband.  

They did fulfil the purpose of filling in backbone to Weill’s story of his rise to fame in Germany, his fleeing from the Nazi’s to Paris and his subsequent move to the US where he died young of a heart attack aged 50. His concern for social justice, his pursuit of quality collaborators and his ability to adapt to various tastes never left him. Top lefty.

At the end, as the whole cast and audience joined in on a sing-along to 'Mack The Knife', no one in the room could refrain from smiling as we all revelled in the timeless quality of the lyrics and music before heading out into the crisp autumnal evening through the beautiful quadrangle and out into the city still humming that wonderful tune.

On the side walk Sunday mornin'
Lies a body oozing life
Someone sneakin' round the corner
Is that someone Mack the Knife

I really hope we didn’t get a parking ticket.

19 October 2010

Happiness Part 1 – Let’s get pissed

1750 -- Gin Lane, an engraving by English artist
 William Hogarth, helps spur social reform.
The engraving depicts a drunken mother
surrounded by a scene of squalor. A year later, the
Gin Acts give magistrates control over licensing pubs
in Britain.

 Happiness, ah happiness. What a strange and wonderful notion is it not? Who or what may have influenced Thomas Jefferson when he penned the line "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Who invented the term “happy bunny?” Is it possible to attain the Buddha's “enduring happiness” by controlling the mind through breathing and yoga and eliminating “craving”? Is all life really mental dysfunction?

Can Socrates version of happiness be obtained “through human effort”, like he suggests, and is this all linked to other concepts such as virtue, justice, and the ultimate meaning of human existence?

No wonder going out on a Saturday night for a “bit of fun” carries with it so much moral and philosophical baggage often discussed ad nauseum when one is well the worse for wear at stupid o’clock with your arm around your “bezzy mate”.

Why does not being happy make us so miserable? Is going out in pursuit of happiness - drinking and dancing, the cinema, copping off with someone you fancy, arsing around with your mates, pursuing a hobby - a genuine philosophical and ethical movement? The very idea of asking such questions about happiness, as Socrates did, was seen 2500 years as “corrupting the youth?” Socrates was accused of this at his trial before they killed him. Does seeking to explore and understand the world lead to happiness? Or death?

Let’s start in the pub. Craving a pint. Can’t eliminate that, can I Buddha? At best we’re social alcoholics, binge drinking at weekends; or “British” for short. A thoroughly modern phenomena of working all week and getting pissed at the weekend. Or is it, or does it have parallels with the moral panic produced by the 'Gin Crisis' of early-eighteenth-century England?

Have British people changed all that much? Of course they have. The past does not repeat itself or offer miracle solutions to today's problems. Although to see some UK High Streets on a Saturday night does often remind one of Hogarth print 'Gin Lane'. At the time, 1751, there were concerns about “the impact of rapid urbanization, upon law and order and the social fabric, the effect of rising levels of wealth in society as a whole, but in particular the growth of working-class real income, upon patterns of consumption, the will to work, and the fulfilment of domestic responsibilities. Also there was a widespread anxiety about the breakdown of the family; there was a growth in xenophobia, especially in relation to the French and a general anxiety about the failure of government to grasp the seriousness of the problems facing society and take effective action to remedy them”. (1) So, nothing like today then? So it’s still not our fault either? We still drink to try to improve our happiness don't we? And of course by ‘drink’ we include any substance that provides an altered state of mind and removes us from the day to day grind of existence and can elevate us to another plane. As Arthur "Don't let the bastards grind you down" Seaton said in the film ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’ (1960); "What I want is a good time, all the rest is all propaganda". The film, which I just re-viewed the blu-ray version at the weekend offers a terrifying glimpse into an age where work, booze, and death were all that Britain's young men had to look forward to.

It was in the 1700’s where they had the ‘capacity’ to link the rise in gin drinking to the wider concerns of society that transformed a potential social problem into a full blown 'moral panic'. So, not like today at all? Nowhere in the media do they link the pursuit of happiness to binge drinking either. In this sense binge drinking could be said to “operate within rather than outside the boundaries of social norms” (1). People are choosing to drink heavily, in all likelihood knowing the consequences of doing so. They are investing a substantial portion of their personal wealth, not just in the drink but also the package of recreational props that accompany it - music, dancing, clothing, etc - because it gives them a tangible and considered return. Happiness! Phew, that’s ok then. Let’s get pissed.

Thanks to:

• (1) Binge drinking and moral panics: historical parallels? by Peter Borsay at http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-62.html


---------------------------- next time on TV Cabbage - Happiness Part 2


17 October 2010

'The Rhythmic or Throbbing Crowd'

From the chapter on Rhythm in Elias Canetti's Masse und Macht (1960), translated as 'Crowds and Power':

'Rhythm is originally the rhythm of the feet. Every human being walks, and, since he walks on two legs with which he strikes the ground in turn and since he only moves if he continues to do this, whether intentionally or not, a rhythmic sound ensues. The two feet never strike the ground with exactly the same force. The difference between them can be larger or smaller according to individual constitution or mood. It is also possible to walk faster or slower, to run, to stand still suddenly, or to jump.

Man has always listened to the footsteps of other men; he has certainly paid more attention to them than to his own. Animals too have their familiar gait; their rhythms are often richer and more audible than those of men; hoofed animals flee in herds, like regiments of drummers. The knowledge of the animals by which he was surrounded, which threatened him and which he hunted, was man’s oldest knowledge. He learnt to know animals by the rhythm of their movement. The earliest writing he learnt to read was that of their tracks; it was a kind of rhythmic notation imprinted on the soft ground and, as he read it, he connected it with the sound of its formation.

Many of these footprints were in large numbers close together and, just by looking quietly at them, men, who themselves originally lived in small hordes, were made aware of the contrast between their own numbers and the enormous numbers of some animal herds. They were always hungry and on the watch for game; and the more there was of it, the better for them. But they also wanted to be more themselves. Man’s feeling for his own increase was always strong and is certainly not to be understood only as his urge for self-propagation. Men wanted to be more, then and there; the large numbers of the herd which they hunted blended in their feelings with their own numbers which they wished to be large, and they expressed this in a specific state of communal excitement which I shall call the rhythmic or throbbing crowd.

The means of achieving this state was first of all the rhythm of their feet, repeating and multiplied, steps added to steps in quick succession conjure up a larger number of men than there are. The men do not move away but, dancing, remain on the same spot. The sound of their steps does not die away, for these are continually repeated; there is a long stretch of time during which they continue to sound loud and alive. What they lack in numbers the dancers make up in intensity; if they stamp harder, it sounds as if there were more of them. As long as they go on dancing, they exert an attraction on all in their neighbourhood. Everyone within hearing joins them and remains with them. The natural thing would be for new people to go on joining them for ever, but soon there are none left and the dancers have to conjure up increase out of their own limited numbers. They move as though there were more and more of them. Their excitement grows and reaches frenzy.

How do they compensate for the increase in numbers which they cannot have? First, it is important that they should all do the same thing. They all stamp the ground and they all do it in the same way; they all swing their arms to and fro and shake their heads. The equivalence of the dancers becomes, and ramifies as, the equivalence of their limbs. Every part of a man which can move gains a life of its own and acts as if independent, but the movements are all parallel, the limbs appearing superimposed on each other, They are close together, one often resting on another, and thus density is added to their state of equivalence. Density and equality become one and the same. In the end, there appears to be a single creature dancing, a creature with fifty heads and a hundred legs and arms, all performing in exactly the same way and with the same purpose.

When their excitement is at its height, these people really feel as one, and nothing but physical exhaustion can stop them... Thanks to the dominance of rhythm, all throbbing crowds have something similar in their appearance'.

Thanks to Transpotine: reproduced from the excellent History is Made at Night blog

15 October 2010

Internet Eyes

With the impact of the soon-to-be announced mega austerity cuts still to come, it could be that millions will soon find it hard to make ends meet.

But help is it hand. There’ll be no shortage of people forced to turn to shoplifting or petty crime to survive – and now there’s a website that will pay you to sit at home and spy on everyone in the hope of catching them.

The Orwellian online scheme was dreamt up by Devon company ‘Internet Eyes’. They want people to sign up and monitor multiple real-time CCTV feeds from shops and businesses - and then compete to correctly alert them of any perceived suspicious behaviour occurring. The most eagleeyed snooper each month can win a £1000 prize. But beware! Falsely alert too often and you could
be booted out of the game.

The obvious ethical and moral implications of all this aside, for those nosey punters wanting to feel the power of armchair policing, the reality of watching endless hours of the dullest TV ever conceived while maintaining enough concentration to correctly separate crime from lingering, is tiring and demanding work. So Internet Eyes will reward you for it - at staggering rates ranging from 50 pence for 30 hours hard surveillance work in a month...right up to a whopping £1.50 for 60 hours.

And you thought sweatshop labour got a raw deal.

To top it all, the masterstroke is to make you pay to sign up - £2 a month or £13 for a year (meaning if you fail to win the monthly prize, you have to put in eight and a half 60-hour months before you break even). For the company, 500 mugs signing up is your monthly prize covered – everything else is gravy while you sell the service for top dollar to businesses. Ker-ching!

Big Brother is not only watching, he’s fleecing you, you voyeuristic gullible idiot!

blatently lifted from: http://www.schnews.org.uk/index.php

12 October 2010

A few beers and a few tunes down the pub.

TV Cabbaged at The Smack, Middle Wall, Whitstable 9th October 2010. 

A few beers and a few tunes down the pub.

Sometimes you just have one of them nights when all your friends get together and you have such a great night that it stands out from all the other nights you might have; even with the same people. Sharing conviviality, social interactivity, and shared joy. It’s like all your experiences with that person suddenly come to fruition and on the night at that particular time it all comes together and the friendship deepens and happiness is achieved. As Marcel Proust said “life is sown with miracles that only people who love can wait for” (1). These nights of reflection, introspection and self-awareness are rare for me.

I was in my default setting of being worried about everything that wasn’t in front of my eyes; things from the past and future that I could do fuck all about. This has the effect of making me appear distant and uncaring and not in the moment or situation. Falling out with Clare fulfilled both criteria nicely. We’d fallen out 24 hours earlier over something stupid. Shaun had texted me asking if I was going to the OxJam thing in Canterbury on Saturday. C goes ‘I’m doing my art for The Open House. Can’t do it’. I goes, ‘He asked me if I was going not you’; thus ensuring a 48 hour war as we quickly dug our trenches and began hurling bombs at each other.

I’ve banged on in the past about DJing being my Zen and all that bollocks but the last time that happened was at my birthday party in Margate the other month when I was allowed to play for two hours uninterrupted. I could see this wasn’t going to happen tonight or any night at the Smack really because by the time its set up and we’re off we only have about three hours for us and to have our guest play as well. All I can really do is try to ensure that the guest DJ has his Zen moment, if at all possible, and get him a few hours play in where he can relax and get into it a bit. At the Smack it was going to be a “3’s up” kinda night where I gave away a couple of my 3 tune spots to Mike SU (Mike Sun Up) so he could get a little longer play. Back at the after party both me and Si just let him play himself out till around 4am just so he could go home thinking he’d had a good play. That’s the way to do it.

Mike SU is a great DJ; playing with tVC since the mid nineties and he is totally dedicated to his music. I know, he told me, that he gets gigs with other crews and tries to fit in and play what the night or the promoter demands but his first and only love is house music; deep tech is what he loves and to say to him to "just play whatever you want; whatever gets the old hairs on the back of the neck standing up". “Or my new tunes” he says smiling; "Or your new tunes. Whatever makes you happy, do it?"

Happiness is probably no more than loving who you are, what you have and what you do; all the rest is projection where projection is seen, in the Freudian sense, as a psychological defense mechanism where a person unconsciously denies their own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, or to other people. Thus, it involves imagining or projecting that others have those feelings. (2). Still a bit of projection can’t be a bad thing; can it? We all probably have a false self image and seek to maintain this to cope with reality and to maintain whatever self-image we’ve decided we need to have. Sometimes all that Freudian crap is forgotten about and you just live in the moment, like tonight, oblivious to what has passed and what is to happen. Five pints of Hurliman can have strange effects on one’s mind. I just basked about the pub talking and flitting and smoking listening to Mike’s great music. The sound system was rich and clear and loud and so were my friendships.

Earlier in the day my girlfriend and I were having one of our little disagreements, cough, about something or other and were down to our default fighting mode of hurling insults and derogatory comments at each other from across the room. Why do we do this? Entrenched in our little prejudiced rooms projecting made up images onto the wall, defense mechanisms fully erected we lash out at the uncaring world oblivious to our pain and fears however real or unreal they may be. Do they not love us and we them? Do we not share space and endeavour to live harmoniously and with equality? Do we not endear, with loyalty and joy? Do we not desire the same love? I saw an old cereal bowl on the coffee table in front of me. She was ranting away in the other room. I’m going to chuck that I thought and did. It smashed, well away from Clare I hasten to add, and smashed on the opposite wall with a satisfactory crash. Does destroying things make you happy? In that moment it relieved some tension in me and de-stressed me somewhat. I did it again. Smash! ‘Get that anger out”, C shouts from round the corner. Later C goes ‘I’m glad you smashed them bowls they were all chipped and cracked’. We both laughed in our little giggling conspiratorial huddle later that night.

I was worried C wouldn’t come out with me tonight. Her ability to hold a grudge is of Yorkshirian proportions and she does not forgive easily but I tried anyway. All my worry early in the evening was around her and her feelings and whether or not she would come to the pub; but she did. I was so relieved we were friends again that the rest of the night flowed like wine and my heart floated above looking down.

Romantic love, as any sane person knows, is an illusion, a mechanism induced by feeding genes and which death extinguishes. But, to me, there is only one happiness in life, and I agree with Goethe on this when he says it is “to love and be loved. Only the soul that loves is happy.” We also need our spaces of conviviality, of play, of joy, of social interaction, as much as we need love. To share the happy and sad moments, to confess secrets and intimate projects, all these are a major part of friendship. So is living in the moment, in a special space, with a few trusted and loved friends, especially your girlfriend, the pinnacle of life, a major component of mental wellness and an essential part of personal growth?

You fucking know it is. A few beers and a few tunes down the pub.

(1) Marcel Proust, 1871-1922, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

(2) Wade, Tavris "Psychology" Sixth Edition Prentice Hall 2000 ISBN 0-321-04931-4

5 October 2010

There were no thoughts left. I was lost in the maze and whirl of the dance

A Loop Da Loop Era: towards an (anti-)history of rave

“The awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode is characteristic of the revolutionary classes at the moment of their action. The great revolution introduced a new calendar”
(Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History, 1940)


We are all familiar with those superficial overviews of ‘popular culture’ in which the same clich├ęd images are used to denote entire social movements – a few naked hippies at Woodstock standing in for the 1960s counter-cultures, a couple of Mohicans for punk and some gurning ravers in smiley t-shirts for twenty years of electronic dance scenes from acid house to breakcore. In this way history affirms the status quo by suggesting that nothing fundamental ever changes, and the multiple possibilities of negation and creation opened up by these movements are denied.

If this media historification is easy to ridicule, some of the versions of history generated within dance cultures must also be challenged. Partisans of avowedly forward facing electronic dance musics have been strangely obsessed with the past since they emerged in the 1980s. A retro consciousness emerged from early on – by 1995, ‘Back to 1992’ nights were being held in London, with ‘Back to ‘95’ nights not long after. And every person stepping on to a dancefloor for the first time can expect to hear tales from older party-goers that they should have been there back in the day when the beats were fresher, the drugs were purer, and ‘bliss was it in that dawn to be alive’.

Very quickly, in the UK at least, a mainstream historical narrative emerged, a semi-colonial myth of crusaders returning from the Holy Land (of Ibiza) bearing a secret treasure which they propagated in early London acid house clubs like Shoom, after which it spread throughout the world, constantly mutating into new forms but all sharing the genetic imprint of Ibiza-Acid House-M25 orbital raves. This narrative imbues those same pioneers with ongoing cultural capital – early acid house promoters and DJs like Paul Oakenfold remain corporate dance music supremos to this day.

Like most myths this one contains some truth, but only by excluding all the messy bits of histories that don’t fit in with the big story. The most obvious critique is that it relegates the role of the early black producers of the music in Chicago, Detroit and New York to a back story rather than the centre of the story. Others have criticised its London-centredness, claiming for instance that people in Manchester were already dancing to house music when their capital city counterparts were still digging through their crates of 1970s funk obscurities in the 1980s ‘rare groove’ craze.

But the search for the one true story is doomed. There is no single history but numberless trajectories that converge and pass through the various sonic, social and chemical phenomena grouped under that unstable term ‘rave’.

Some other histories…

In musical terms alone we can identify any number of stories, the most obvious one being the explosion of African-American electronic musics in the 1980s and early 1990s – electro, hip hop, house, techno, garage etc., drawing in turn on earlier disco, funk and soul. But other currents are also important and indeed intersect with this trajectory. It is well documented that European synthesiser, industrial, and Electronic Body Music influenced black US producers, and so the history has to be expanded to take in the likes of Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire and Front 242. Equally important is the bass history of sound systems stretching back to post-WW2 lawn parties in Jamaica, Blues parties in areas of England settled by Jamaican migrants and the battles between police and black youth at Notting Hill Carnival in the mid-1970s as the former attempted to clamp down on reggae sound systems. We could also consider the eruption of noise into music, a trajectory that includes Luigi Russolo’s 1913 call for “the great renewal of music by means of the Art of Noises”, 1950s ‘musique concrete’, and the deliberate manipulation of guitar feedback from the 1960s.

The spaces where these musics took root also fit into wider histories. House music famously grew out of US gay clubs like the Warehouse in Chicago and the Paradise Garage in New York. Later in London, gay club Heaven hosted early acid house (Spectrum) and jungle (Rage) nights. These spaces owed their existence to the gay liberation struggles of the 1960s and 1970s – moments like the Stonewall riots of 1969, when drag queens fought police on the streets of New York after a raid on the Stonewall Inn. It was the radical Gay Liberation Front (GLF) that organised Britain’s first open, publicly-advertised gay dance at Kensington Town Hall in 1970 and gay activists set up an early gay disco in Brixton’s Railton Road, in the basement of a gay centre squatted in 1974.

The free party movement of squat parties and teknivals has actively drawn on earlier experiences. In the UK, it attracted from the start people keen to share skills learned in the free festivals, anarcho-punk squat gigs and warehouse parties of the 1970s and 1980s. Elsewhere in Europe the more established radical social centres sometimes provided a platform for dance music parties - though often not without a struggle with some more traditional political elements confused by their apparent undidactic hedonism.

What of the term ‘rave’ itself? Its first use seems to date from the late 1940s to describe all night jazz parties in London’s Soho. It was popularised by band leader Mick Mulligan, sometimes known as the ‘The King of the Ravers’, and self-defined ravers were a prominent part of the ‘Ban the Bomb’ marches in England during the 1950s and early 1960s. Later in the 1960s, psychedelic all-nighters were also routinely described as raves.

Moments of excess

In a sense, the very act of trying to historify ‘rave’ does it violence by denying its challenge to habitual conceptions of time and history. Musics based on breakbeats and loops intrinsically lock the dancer into a cyclical notion of time based on repetition and variation – as opposed to the linear progression of most ‘western’ music. Furthermore, parties can create a sense of being in a time of their own, outside of life structured around work. In the 1920s, Herman Hesse wrote of a party where ‘I had lost the sense of time, and I don’t know how many hours or moments the intoxication of happiness lasted…There were no thoughts left. I was lost in the maze and whirl of the dance’ (Steppenwolf, 1928). In her 1992 novel Jazz, Toni Morrison imagined a Harlem scene where ‘Anything that happens after this party breaks up is nothing. Everything is now’.

But sometimes there is a sense that new social relations and potentialities are being created that last beyond a particular party, a sense of the possibility of making the continuum of history itself explode. Such times have been described as ‘moments of excess’ when ‘everything appears to be up for grabs and time and creativity accelerates… At these times, which may have spanned several years or literally a few moments, we have glimpsed whole new worlds’ (Leeds May Day Group, Moments of Excess, 2004).

For many of us, there will be particular times in the ‘history of rave’ which seemed most productive of these kinds of moments. For me personally, there was a period in the mid-1990s of Reclaim the Streets, Dead by Dawn parties and seemingly endless clubbing when I had a tangible sense that a new way of life was being constituted within the shell of the old, assembled from sound systems and dancing bodies. For others the key period might have been in the late 1980s, driving in convoys around the M25 motorway in search of a field to dance in. For others still, the thrill of dodging the police for a dawn epiphany in the woods is just beginning – witness the weekend cat and mouse games between cops and sound systems in rural East England over the summer of 2007, or the tenacity of Indian ravers in Pune where hundreds were arrested at a party in March last year.

In the heat of these moments of excess there can be sudden flashes of recognition when people feel an affinity across time and space with other people, living or dead. Unlike the trajectories discussed above, these connections do not have to be based on a traceable sequence of links – it is enough that there is some assumed commonality of expression, passion, oppression or resistance.

A non-linear method of mapping such links is suggested by the artist Jeremy Deller in his work ‘The History of the World’. Deller explores the affinities between Acid House on the one hand, and the Brass Bands associated with mining villages in the north of England on the other, based on common histories and cultural associations. Brass bands were, for instance, a feature of the 1984/5 miners’ strike - the policing of which foreshadowed the Criminal Justice Bill and crackdowns on free parties in the 1990s. Warehouse parties and the closure of industries are two sides of deindustrialization, the former taking place in the ruins created by the latter.

There are any number of similar connections that could be made between ‘rave’ and other times and places. We might be inspired by 1940s scenes like the Zazous of Paris or the Hamburg Swings who danced to jazz in extravagant clothes in defiance of Nazi restrictions – some of them ending up in Concentration Camps. We might poetically invoke the spirit of the millenarian ‘ghost dancers’ amongst the Native Americans of the 1890s, who hoped to dance a new world into being.

There are ancestors of today’s ‘autonomous social spaces’ and social centres in places like the Autonomie Club and the Workers Friend Club in London, where Jewish anarchists and other radicals danced the night away in the 1890s. There are (white) lines of intoxication that connect the present with obvious reference points such as the Merry Pranksters’ Acid Tests in 1960s California and less obvious ones such as Rembetika, the music of Greek hash dens suppressed by the fascist dictatorship there after 1936. Perhaps also a link to cultural critic Walter Benjamin’s 1930s drug experiments in Ibiza and Berlin prompted by ‘the great hope, desire, yearning to reach—in a state of intoxication—the new, the untouched’ (Benjamin, On Hashish).

A map encompassing all these connections, all the times and places where people have moved to rhythm, would be close to a representation of the history of everything. It would be the kind of map that perhaps only Benjamin’s Angel of History could write, surveying humanity with his back to the future. Instead of attempting to write The Big History perhaps we should focus on the myriad micro-histories of clubs, parties and scenes from Tel Aviv in Israel to Pune in India, from Brixton to Berlin. It may be in the detail of sound, sweat, encounters, gestures, conversation and context that we can convey what is really significant about ‘rave’, rather than in the grant narratives of Ecstasy and 303s.

“A chronicler who recites events without distinguishing between major and minor ones acts in accordance with the following truth: nothing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost for history” (Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History, 1940).


All That Jazz

The powers restricting “raves” in the Criminal Justice Act are not the first authoritarian response to a dance-based culture. The association of popular dancing with sex, intoxication, and black people has made it an object of moralist suspicion at various times in history. It was the jazz dance craze which swept across much of the west that was the source of both pleasure and panic in the 1920s, as Jill Matthews told a meeting of London History Workshop (an informal group of radical historians).

In Australia (where Jill comes from) the dance craze began around 1911 and really took off in 1917 with the arrival of the new “hot jazz” sound from New Orleans. Within a few years, dance halls holding up to 2000 people had opened in most Australian towns, with dances being held almost every afternoon and evening. Dance styles with names like the Whirligig, the Bunny Hug, the Turkey Trot and the famous Charleston (1926) rapidly succeeded each other in popularity, each lasting for a year or two before passing out of fashion. While these steps were highly formalised by today’s standards, the emphasis was more on rhythm than on the more difficult to perform steps that existed before 1910, and this was part of their mass appeal.

Soon the dancefloors became a battlefield as the moralist backlash gathered momentum. Dance was condemned as sensual, barbaric and pagan by churches, with the Methodists leading the way in banning mixed dancing on their premises. Doctors got in on the act, with some claiming that doing the Charleston could cause death. There was a strong racist element, with black US jazz musicians being banned from the country in 1928 as part of the government’s White Australia policy (supported by the Australian Musicians’ Union).

Meanwhile professional dance associations sought legitimacy by trying to distance themselves from the undisciplined dancing masses. Their aim was to reimpose the boundary between the artist and the audience by insisting that dancing should be the preserve of properly trained experts. Such dance entrepreneurs reached a compromise with the anti-dance moralists on the basis of licensing respectable dances properly controlled by professionals. By the 1930s a range of local and national licensing laws and restrictions on building use had succeeded in regulating and taming the dance craze.

The discussion after Jill’s talk included parallels with the CJB and other situations. Somebody said that in France in the 1840s, particular types of dancing were banned and the police had the power to come on to the dance floor and arrest people (usually working class youths) for dancing in inappropriate ways. Not even Michael Howard has thought of that one yet…


Articles reprinted with many thanks to Neil Transpontine

4 October 2010

Tek the Biscuit

On the 1st October 2010 the preliminary hearing took place in Haverfordwest Magistrates Court for those arrested and charged during the bust of the UK Teknival in Pembrokeshire this May (see Raving Madness) – and the numbers answering charges has risen dramatically from six to as many as seventeen.

The case has been deemed too complex for the local magistrates to deal with alone, so it’s now going before a district judge ‘for direction’. What this means exactly for those charged (apart from yet another long and expensive journey to Wales) isn’t yet clear, but a top UK defence lawyer has warned that Haverfordwest is a ‘kangaroo court’, and says, ‘there’ll be no justice there’.

Justice is looking pretty thin on the ground for one of the defendants in particular, who will have to appear in court without any legal representation whatsoever. It turns out that the local Haverfordwest solicitor he’d got to help fight his case neglected to process his claims for legal aid in time, despite them being submitted months ago.

Effectively this means that his case can’t go to a decent solicitor who is an expert in the field. Without fair representation, it has much less chance of being thrown out of court. With already draconian licensing laws – and worsening - it’s becoming harder to hold gatherings and create festivals and entertainment away from the confi nes of the commercial mainstream.

Those on charges face heavy fines or even imprisonment – and were already plunged into great debt by costs incurred when the Teknival was busted and closed down, wirh gear confiscated and vehicles impounded. The main trial is planned for November. Watch this space for developments and join the Facebook group ‘Drop the Charges over UKTek’ to show your support.


1) Police aim to contain rave, with 2,500 in Pembrokeshire
 2) Eight arrested as weekend rave ends in Pembrokeshire
 3) Clean-up begins as illegal rave ends in Pembrokeshire -
 4) Pembrokeshire UK Tek video
5) Pembrokeshire UK Tek video
6) DJ Mag Thread
7) RaveTalk Thread
8) FaceBook Group - We want a decent festival in Wales


Help the 'Rave Six'

We speak with an associate of the 'Rave Six' regarding their charges

At the end of May during the bank holiday, some people threw a party. No big deal, just a few thousand people dancing next to the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales. Unfortunately, a group of people who like to call themselves 'the police' (no, not Sting & Co.) took issue with the party, deeming it illegal and proceeding to seize sound systems and press charges against a group of people who have been dubbed by many media outlets as the 'Rave Six.' We spoke with Dan Cartel, a member of Deep Cartel (one of the groups whose sound systems were seized), who had this to say about the situation.

What are you (and the others) charged with?

Four people were released on police bail pending further investigation and the ‘Rave Six’ have been charged under Section 136 of the Licensing Act for carrying out unlicensed licensable activity. They were released on unconditional bail to return to Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on 24th June. On the 24th of June the case was adjourned again until 3rd of November 2010 for a two-day trial.

Besides the whole police thing, what was the party's actual atmosphere?

The atmosphere was amazing! The sound quality, music and visuals outshone any licensed dance festival in recent memory and best of all, it was free!

Do you feel like your group (the 'Rave Six' as you've been dubbed by the media) has been scapegoated throughout this whole process?

Those arrested have definitely been scapegoated, yes. The six people charged had nothing to do with the organization of the event whatsoever. Why the police wish to blame these six people for a party that had 3,000 people in attendance isn't clear. These kinds of parties have no organizer; they just happen through word of mouth.

Do you think dance/rave culture in general is portrayed in an unfair light by the mainstream? What can be done to change this?

In a lot of cases yes, rave culture is given an unfair press. For example, with the UK Teknival the local paper complains of a £3,500 clean-up bill. If the police hadn't scared everyone off with their helicopter intimidation tactics then there would have been a big clear-up by party goers. Our area was spotless and the few people who remained were helping the council clear up the rest of the site on Tuesday, including myself.

Also the police seized well over £100,000 of sound kit too – do the maths!

The reality is that most free party sites are left in better condition than they were in before the party started, which is something that party people pride themselves in.

The way to change things if you want to see an annual free festival in the UK is to register your vote on the government website.

Register, log in, and then rate it with five stars to vote...

Your Freedom

Can you tell us a bit about the special track you've been working on?

After all the media coverage from the UK Teknival, we saw an opportunity to raise some funds for those unjustly charged with organising the Teknival in the same way that Spiral Tribe did after Castlemorton in 1992 with their classic 'Breach the Peace EP'. Our tune, "Peaceful but Illegal", by Country Gents, reflects the party from a DC perspective.

The track features samples from the media and interviews with party goers in an underground house style with an old school feel and a phat horn - they played it at a Smokescreen party a few weeks after the Teknival and it went down really well!

The download site was donated for free, and Andy Compton of Peng Records kindly mastered the track for free as well.

To cut down on the usual distribution overheads this special release is only available from: http://www.dalerave6.co.cc/ where you can make a minimum donation of £2.50 to help the cause and download the tune. One hundred percent of the money goes directly to the cause.

Also you can join the Facebook group 'Drop the charges over UKTek' and show your support there.

From DJ Magazine
Dan Cartel is a member of Deep Cartel, as well as Country Gents


 Fight The Criminal Justice Bill (1994)

A double page spread in the first issue of Alien Underground dealt with the (then) threat of the new Criminal Justice Bill (which was to become law in as the 1994 Criminal Justice Act shortly after with minor alterations) in three sections.

The first was more of an opinion piece, the second a brief rundown of central sections of the law, the third a report on (then) recent protests. Published in 1994 in Alien Underground 0.0


1.The State of Emergency

We propose to see the Criminal Justice Bill as State of Emergency laws in the disguise of ‘fighting crime’, but with the actual aim of doing away with the unruly and unrulable element of those who have by choice or by need chosen to live outside of the ’system’ to a greater or lesser degree.In other words alternative lifestyles are to be exterminated if they don’† conform to the rules of consumer capitalism.

Many of those concerned are not enemies of the system as such, and are shocked by the attack being mounted against them, especially in the face of a government blatently lying as to the purpose of the operation. They could be called naive, but then it often isn’t that easy to see through the smokescreen with which the authorities comouflage their more sinister operations.

Capitalism is based on growth… It is in the inherent logic of the system that it has to endlessly grow, something that has turned out to ultimately destroy the planet. It relies on people to participate in this by consuming more and more and faster and faster …and slavery. By signing away their lives for work that is going to earn them the money to buy, to pay off their debts, to make new debts etc.

More and more people have realised in the last 30 years that this path leads to destruction and death, but the propaganda of the system has more or less successfully kept convincing a majority that the problems can be solved and that it isn’t the system that is the problem.

To keep you engaged in the spectacle of acquiring and spending money, you must first be hypnotised into believing that money is important to the point of being the key to spiritual well being, success, sex, satisfaction. This is achieved with a propaganda machinery - television, media, advertising - and other forms of brainwashing and mind control.

The Criminal Justice Bill has nothing to do with ‘fighting crime’, if anything it creates new crimes. It’s true goal however is war on those who escape Control.

The system wants you to believe that everything is based on money and property, and that you live a sad and lonely life if you don’t sell your soul to the building society and give your wage to the funenforcers as a thank you for washing your brain.

Free Parties and Festivals have shown to tens of thousands of people that there are other ways than paying extortionate amounts of money for a night out. Squatters and Travellers are living a more or less nomadic life out of necessity or choice, but certainly preferring it to the alternative of either being on the street or being in grim council blocks. The authorities prefer to pay for your housing benefit than let you live the way you want, because they see the danger that you may lead a fulfilled life rather than the miserable existence they designed for the lower classes.

But there is more to the Bill than the tresspass sections affecting squatters, travellers, ravers and hunt sabs. There are sections that will take away your right to silence in case of arrest, there are sections facilitating searches of persons and vehicles, there are sections facilitating the taking of intimate and non-intimate samples of DNA. Britain will - bluntly speaking - be a great step closer to an all out police state than it is now. In the case of civil unrest which the authorities are clearly expecting as their war on the poor is well into its second decade, it will be easy to set up roadblocks, arrest and detain known ’subversives’ etc. without much effort of justifying such actions. With the media as they are, the government can be sure that they’ll be toeing the line. Also it has to be mentioned that another part of the Bill is giving much more power to the censors to butcher video releases or to not giving cerificates at all. Here, again, the wording is so wishy washy that it can pretty much be applied at will - and this is a dominant feature of the whole Bill that suggests that its powers are designed for a whole range of scenarios.

2.The Resistance

The ruling elite is desperate to remain in power, but it has nothing to offer for youth anymore. We are bored by its proposals of ‘careers’ and its definitions of ’success’. The ‘choices’ in consumerism are choices of shades of the same. Instead of allowing more diversity it is cracking down on it, trying to establish a homogenous society, where conformism is the noblest of virtues.

To achieve this, total identification and transparency is aimed for with total surveillance of the city centres, DNA databases and new ID cards: Every movement of the citizen is to be monitored.

To try and resist this, the traditional ways of voicing dissent and of lobbying are fine, but not enough. More militant possibilities should not be left unconsidered for the wrong reasons, but one has to remember that the authorities are better prepared for fighting in the streets, and possibly quite keen on the pretext it would give them to detain large numbers of people. What we should be working on are new forms of cultural and political resistance, new tactics and aims.


The Criminal Justice Bill - Know the Wrongs, Fight for your Rights!

Peaceful Protest: clauses 63-66

The new offence of ‘aggravated trespass’ is created (63), concerning trespass with the intention of disrupting or obstructing ‘lawful activity’ or intimidating people as to deter them from that activity (max.3 months imprisonment). Also it will become a new criminal offence to disobey the orders of a police officer who has directed a person to leave land (64).

Clause 65 provides that an order can be obtained to ban assemblies which are likely to be held without the permission of the owner, and which may result in either “serious disruption to the life of the community” or significant damage to a site of historical, architectural or scientific interest. Clause 66 gives police powers to stop people whom they “reasonably believe” to on the way to an assembly prohibited under (65).

Travellers (56,72,73,75) It will become a criminal offence not to leave land if ordered to do so by a police officer where damage has been cause OR where there are more than 6 vehicles on the land (56)It will also be a criminal offence to camp without permission once a local authority has ordered a person to leave (72), while (73) gives magistrates courts the power to order the removal of vehicles and property from an area once an order has been made. (75) abolishes the duty placed on local authorities in the Caravan Sites Act 1968 to provide adequate sites for travellers.

Squatters (67,70,71): It will become a criminal offence not to leave property within 24 hours after the landlord has gained a court order. The person in residence is likely not to have been informed of the court case against him/her. Therefor at any time a 24-hour eviction notice could come through your door! (71). Only after you’ve been thrown out, you’ll have the right to appeal (71). The dodgiest bit is (67) which in effect will enable landlords, or in fact almost anyone with an interest in property, to use violence to gain entry to a property. It is to be expected that this will be widely abused for illegal violent evictions.

Outdoor raves and festivals (58-62,65,66)

(58) gives the police powers to end outdoor festivals and makes it a criminal offence to disobey a direction to leave one (max.3 months imprisonment or level 4 fine) The police only need to take “reasonable steps” to bring it to the attention of people that they are being asked to leave. Will you go to prison for not hearing a loudhailer? Well possible. (59) will empower police to enter land where a festival is held and seize vehicles and equipment. (60) will empower police to stop people whom they “reasonably belive” to be proceeding to such an event anywhere within five miles of the boundary of the site, and direct them to turn back. (61) empowers the courts to order the forfeiture of equipment, including vehicles, seized. (62) allows police to retain such equipment until after any criminal proceedings are concluded and gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations to enable charges to be levied to offset the costs of taking, storing and destroying such equipment..

Police powers (49-54,55,76,77). (76) gives the police powers to stop and search similar to the ones they currently hold in Northern Ireland. Quote:”A constable may, in the exercise of those powers, stop any vehicle or person and make any search he thinks fit whether or not he has any grounds for suspecting that the vehicle or person is carrying articles of that kind.” It will become a criminal offence to refuse to cooperate with a stop and search. (77) creates 2 new offences. A person is guilty of an offence if s/he is in possession of an article “in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable suspicion” that it is intended “for a purpose connected with the commission, instigation or preparation of acts of terrorism”. A person is also guilty of an offence if they are found to be collecting or possessing, without authorisation “any information which is of such a nature to be useful to terrorists.” (49-54) extend the power of the police to take intimate samples of DNA, non-intimate samples using reasonable force, collect retain and store information extracted from samples, limit the rights of people to have fingerprints and samples destroyed, redefine mouth swabs as non-intimate and allow the police to search a persons mouth on arrest.

Video censorship.It is planned to add measures to ban the private use of videos which “present an inappropriate role model” for children, or which are “likely to cause psychological harm to a child”.

This very short run-down of the sections of the Bill cannot offer more than an overview of what’s in store, staying very much on the surface. It cannot be stressed enough that a lot of the sections are worded in a way so they stay open for interpretation and abuse. The ‘Peaceful protest’ sections will criminalize legitimate forms of dissent, and undermine the rights to peaceful public protest, the ‘Travellers’ section erode the human rights of Gypsies and other Travellers, the ‘Squatting’ sections worsen the problems of homelessness (even though there are more empty properties than homeless people in this country) among other things. ‘Outdoor raves and festivals’ will be prohibited by draconian measures, and the sections could be abused to dissolve gatherings of people. In all cases it can be reasonably argued that the existing laws are adequate in dealing with what the Bill is claiming to. We argue that its true goal is a much more sinister agenda of social engeneering and cultural cleansing. The section on police powers in relation to terrorism is extremely worrying in the scope of powers to stop and search and collect data on citizens. A whole world of possibilities of harassment and discrimination is opening up. The section on ‘Possessing information likely to be useful to terrorists’ is likely to be abused, not only against ’subversives’ but also against journalists and researchers.The proposal to abolish the Right of Silenceis of particular concern to many civil rights activists. This would undermine the presumtion of innocence and would increase the risk of miscarriages of justice. Finally the section dealing with video censorship (in a country that’s one of the worst in Europe already) makes it possible to ban just about anything that for some reason is deemed unsuitable - or subversive. Remember Spanner? Genesis P’Orridge? Spiral Tribe?


A lot of the information in this piece is taken from “Defending Diversity and Dissent”, published by Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties. It provides much more in depth information, details and examples showing what’s wrong with the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill. We recommend you get this booklet from: Liberty Campaigns Office. 21, Tabard Street, London SE1. 071 403 3888. (£1). They are also planning to take the government to the European Court for breach of the European Convention on Human Rights ans the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights once the Bill has become law.


The Media, the Protest and the ‘Riot’


One will remember the reaction of the media to the first big rally against the Criminal Justice Bill on the first of may. Or do you? More than 15′000 people marched through London aginst the proposal that will cut down on “civil liberties” like no attack by the government against its subjects… and the media kept quiet. Obviously it was decided that the citizens better not know about what’s being done to them, and they seem to have expected the resistance from the street to disappear again into that favorite state of apathy. When we arrived at Hyde Park quite early we were still worried that their hopes might materialise; what if it’s smaller than last time? It wasn’t: Thousands and thousands kept coming, and finally a mass of about 40′000 made their way to Trafalgar Square. There was, briefly and marginally, some violence by the Downing Street gates, predictably really, but negligible and neither endorsed nor even noticed by most. It seemed to be the general consensus of the day not to use violence even among the non-pacifists, because chances seemed good that the mass of people would have the desired impact of bringing the issue to an as wide as possible public. The next day there was considerable surprise to learn that we had tried to storm Downing Street! In general the press avoided dealing with the issues and picked up on a bit of violence that hardly deserved the exposure. It would be wrong however to blame ‘the violent element’ for Bad Press: The alternative would have been to not or hardly mention the march, or do you think the Tory press would suddenly support us? The journalistic integrity of rags like the Times or the Telegraph are accurately reflected in the price wars they are conducting to dupe people into buying them; their talk is cheap indeed. The shocking picture of crusties taking drugs in public, shouting abuse to police and passer-bys, trying to overthrow the government and behaving like animals in general was painted, and people relying on these papers as sources of information will probably believe it. I rather get the impression that, angered that their strategy of silence didn’t work a smear campaign against the resistance (”An alliance of New Age travellers, rock festival fans (!?!) and squatters” The Times) is being conducted in an effort to stop it from getting bigger and possibly even preventing the Bill from becoming law. The Times: “Yesterdays protest was the latest in a series of attacks on the Bill from nearly every sector of the population, including the judiciary, the police and MPs.” Do they already have troubled sleep seeing the Black Flag over Whitehall?

The coverage by the Guardian was just as bullshit, being a bit more accurate in its account of the event, but just as reluctant to provide any background information and instead concentrating on the ‘riot’ as well. The Independent opted for a similar approach in its report, but at least chose to balance it with a reasonable piece on the comments page (”Making the innocent into enemies of the state”). The Sun only did a small piece without saying much, but surprisingly the Mirror went to considerable length in denouncing the “Kneejerk law that threatens our Freedom” and the “Botched Bill makes all of us Criminals”. Interesting is also the coverage by the Evening Standard, especially compared to the other right wing papers. Here the demo is explicitly referred to as “the riot that wasn’t”, and the police is celebrated for handling the situation in a way that prevented an actual riot breaking out! This is certainly slightly closer to the truth than the distortions most of the other papers were offering, but maybe not as inspiring. Maybe we should have tried to storm Downing Street! At least the march has managed to make the Bill news to some degree, and that’s already a success. But it’s only the beginning…


The situation is a bit different after the 3rd march. This month the Bill will actually become law (by the time this magazine hits the streets it may already be) and there was actually a bit of a riot in Hyde Park. The way this was made to look like war on television, I’m sure it will inspire thousands of young people across the country to stand up against the scum and fight. The media generally used the fighting to stay away from the issues, but they would have used an entirely peaceful demonstration to keep quiet as well. So at least the Fluff-police with their ridiculous pacifism fucked up, but there is a worrying number of people out there, little naive liberals, who are shocked by the violence of the state and the media. They obviously still haven’t figured out that the Freedom and Civil Liberties you are granted are only borrowed for as long as the system is firmly in control, for as long as you stay a nice fluffy consumer. That with the CJB several of these ‘rights’ are revoked now that Tory-capitalism is in a crisis shouldn’t surprise us, but it becomes more urgent to go beyond this piss take democracy & not keep playing what is ultimately the systems own game, and fall into any trap. There remain a lot of things to be discussed; the CJB is only turning into law a lot of things the authorities have done illegally anyway; not so much if marches/riots ‘work’, but how they could be made to work. But most of all what other strategies can be employed to (re)gain autonomy & sovereignty over our bodies and lives.


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