Monday, 31 January 2011

Digging It

If we want to be free of the Control System that tries to regulate every aspect of our lives, then we should start by taking charge of our own food supply. Stands to reason that if/when the economy goes down there'll be a lot of people wondering why all the food in the supermarkets isn't being restocked. Somebody once said (and I can't be sure who or the exact timeline) that we're only 36 or 48 hours away from food riots after the shops empty out. Getting to know a local farmer or two before we get to that stage would be a good idea, better still would be learning how to grow your own produce now. Use any space you can around where you live, even a box on a balcony or window ledge will do, or maybe put your name on the council list to get an allotment although it's likely you'll have to wait a good while to get a plot.

February's a good month to start planting up and planning for the summer and autumn.
I have it on good authority from one of the most green-fingered friends I know ;-) that in February
- indoors - you can start some chilli peppers, and grow them in a warm sunny spot...
- outdoors - you can sow parsnips, broad beans, sweet peas, early peas can also chit (sprout) some potatoes for planting out later at the end of March or early April. You can also plant individual cloves of garlic, though not anywhere that's too wet.

I had a go at growing some veg in growbags on my small east-facing patio last year - not terribly successfully I have to admit but it's all a learning process. You've got to watch out for the slugs n' snails if you're at ground level (my growbags were up on some metal framed garden chairs which seemed to protect them from the pesky molluscs) and also the eggs of the Cabbage White butterfly which will hatch out and nobble yer greens if you don't put a net over and around them.

It's amazing how much you can produce if you really put a lot of time and care into it - have a look at what this family is doing. OK, they're in California where they're not exactly short of sun and the range of fruit and veg that it's possible to grow is more extensive, but still...grow local, eat local. It's likely that what you can grow locally can be better suited to your diet anyway.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

From the Top Drawer III - Treatment

I first went to the Stonehenge Festival in June 1983 - some friends had managed to get along the year before but I had at that time been laid up with a broken leg. I stayed for about a week that year, arriving a few days before the main event of the Summer Solstice and leaving a few days later. The next year I stayed for longer. I was amazed at the size of the festival (at its height in June 1984 it was reckoned that somewhere around 40,000 people had spent time there) and the co-operative spirit that allowed stages, tents and cafes to be set up and operated quite efficiently, both feeding and entertaining everyone. Sure, supplies had to be paid or traded for, but the entertainment was free. Just sitting around watching the various types pass by was entertainment in itself...

People came and went, leaving the site to get supplies in the local towns, go for a swim in the nearby river (wow, was it hot in '84!) or even go home for a few days to return later on - since it ran for the whole month of June, it was quite possible to do that. A couple of bored-looking coppers in shirtsleeves stood near the gate of the site within earshot of people loudly advertising their wares, and 'anarchy', that bugbear of Middle England and the authorities, reigned supreme. Anarchy for a whole month, proving that people can exist together, self police and (dis)organize themselves quite happily and efficiently. Whether something of this size could have lasted longer than a month or could have been carried into an urban environment remains to be seen. Of course the next year Thatcher and her cronies saw fit to put an end to these festivities, harassing the Peace Convoy which was making its way to take the site on June 1st, resulting in the atrocities collectively known as the Battle of the Beanfield, which has passed into legend (along with the repression of the miners during the same time) as one of the most infamous episodes of state violence in the UK.

Although I was to see them many times in London in later years, I don't think I ever caught Treatment playing at 'Henge (not knowingly anyway) and this tape was recorded in 1981/82 before I ever got there. It captures the typical atmosphere of generator-powered buzzing PAs and equipment set up either on the grass or on a proper stage if you got lucky and booked a slot to play. Bands played whenever they felt like it, during the day for a more mellow set perhaps, or more intensely at night, often at a makeshift site between the tents where they were camped. Someone might be cooking and selling hot food nearby, and as you lay on the ground or danced under the stars, the aroma of veggie curries might be smelt, triggering an attack of the mmmunchies...

Treatment live at Club Dog, Wood Green, London 29.05.1987

Treatment's strengths lay in their musicianship, often swapping instruments and vocal roles during a set, and their ability to cycle through various moods during the course of a set or even the same song. The range of styles they covered was broad, from punky thrashes to spaced out drifting acid washes, often with an edgy challenging vibe and lyrics with a homespun philosophical bent.

Here's their tape of live stuff from Stonehenge in 1981 & 1982

Titles & credits are listed in the pics above (Bob's coughing is truly world class) and it's been ripped as two side-long tracks @320kbps.

Download HERE

Saturday, 22 January 2011

From the Top Drawer II - The Oroonies

In their early days, the very mention of the name of the Oroonies in polite company might have inspired a rolling of the eyes, maybe a nervous giggle or even a shrug of the shoulders. Amongst the burgeoning collective of bands who might perform at the odd squat party or festival, at the start they were the band that nobody took that seriously as a group to be reckoned with. They were the butt of obscure humour, the jokers in the pack, too 'out there' even for the hardcore psych-heads. Named after an utterance of invented language by jazz legend Slim Gaillard, and formed in Ireland until later relocation in England, they were pagan inspired Pan worshippers who took it to the edge of the cliffs of reality and invited you to jump into the void with them.

Early gigs could be shambolic and chaotic, but as time passed they became a serious force of weird nature to be reckoned with. Visually impressive, with masks often being worn, and their eerie folk melodies channelled through at times ferocious electric and acoustic instrumentation, they gradually drew an expanding audience who knew that was no other band around who were quite like them and were keen to celebrate the fact with ecstatic dancing and revelry.

Here's the Oroonies first cassette release from 1985.
It's called 'The Woods Are Alive With The Smell Of His Coming'.
Ripped from an original tape @320kbps, and split into two side-long tracks. Quite a lo-fi experience but an essential one.
Titles are -
Side One - Wild World/The Smell/Questions/Verging Outward/The Rocky Place
Side Two - Cloven Foot/Lord Of The Dance/Gruesome/Neither-Neither/Bees
(I'm not sure if Devo ever sued - listen and you'll hear what I mean...LOL)

Download HERE

Happily some video footage exists that shows them playing the title track live in the late 1980s at a Bacchanalian revel which entirely suited their music (thank you to the uploader). Invoke the Pan-ic.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Smog vs Smug

Rooting around in the drawer where I had stored all the tapes, I came across a photocopied version of this flyer, obviously unissued. I looked for a better version online and got this. Sorry if you have to squint to read it (click the pic for a better view)

Although I was then and still am a car driver, I remember shoving some of these under the windscreen wipers of various 4x4s around town hoping or expecting that, having been sufficiently enlightened as to the perceived error of their ways, the owners would take notice and immediately trade in their petrol guzzlers for some less offensive vehicle. A decade later as I cycle round town little seems to have changed.

This despite the efforts of those who have taken part in several Critical Mass cycle protest events where a group of cyclists take to the streets in an attempt to bring traffic to a near standstill to make a point about road safety, environmental health issues and the excessive use of motor vehicles. Unless there are at least 40-50 cyclists involved, enough to spread out and cover two lanes of the road in depth, and for the car drivers to notice that this is actually some sort of demonstration, then in my experience these events will often be doomed to partial failure. I would also suggest that if a group is going to do this, then the people at the rear of the pack should wear tabards displaying the purpose of the event. Otherwise there can be some violent exchanges of opinion between the cyclists and drivers (there will be anyway, but at least the drivers will know why they're being held up).

I walk and cycle round town and try to only use my car to make longer journeys out of town or to load up heavy luggage etc. I would dearly love to be able to cross a road without having to look to see whether I'm going to get mown down (yes, some cyclists are idiots as well), would love to see more green spaces and pedestrian-only areas in towns, but I'm afraid that the motorized vehicle is here to stay, whether it's fuelled by petrol or water (free energy argument saved for another time) - even if you converted them all there are still going to be loads of them.

People are lazy and used to convenience, their cars are extensions of their homes and personal space and they are fiercely protective and proud of these potentially lethal machines. (A 100+ year old infernal combustion engine - why are we still using this invention when technology has moved on so much since then? Again, later...) I remember Margaret Thatcher saying that the car was 'the single most liberating factor in most peoples' lives'. Wow, that was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor, unbelievable statement - not a philosophy of life or a way of thinking, anything like that, but your car...doh, time to give up.

Enough carping on about what others do, you can waste so much energy on this.
"Self-importance is man's greatest enemy. What weakens him is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of his fellow men. Self-importance requires that one spend most of one's life offended by something or someone."--Don Juan (from the Carlos Castaneda books)

Here's a well-observed episode of South Park dealing with the dangers of both vehicles and Smug. Hilarious.

South Park S10E02 - Smug Alert

Monday, 17 January 2011


Videomeister Steve Willner has returned to YouTube to present his latest creation.
No voiceover this time, just a dazzling mashup of morphing imagery and sounds...

Steve's site -

Sunday, 16 January 2011

From the Top Drawer I - Webcore

It seems like every young hipster in the neo-psychedelic movement today is telling you that they've always listened to Hawkwind, Neu!, Spacemen 3, and Amon Duul II and base their own band's sound on those templates. Nothing much wrong with that, (although a lot of these new bands seem derivative and not very original, not surprising if that's all they've listened to) but they always seem to miss out on referencing a whole era of music, which to many people in the UK at least, was very important in shaping their daily reality. Maybe they've never heard of the (very diverse) bands that played the many free festivals, parties, squat gigs and urban clubs that were the lifeblood of the underground psychedelic scene of the 1980s before the rave scene kicked in to change the landscape. These bands picked up the torch of the psychedelic scenes of the 1960s and 1970s and kept that flame burning through the next decade adding their own particular flavours to the stew.

This was the post-punk era of DIY culture when many people were bypassing the music business altogether and releasing their home-recorded music on cassette tapes, at the time the best medium to transmit their particular visions to fellow psychonauts. Portable boomboxes and hi-fis blasted out weird sonic collages in a thousand squats, housing co-op kitchens and travelling vehicles parked up in the Great Outdoors as well as through PA systems at word-of-mouth events.

These were formative years for me and my musical education, and I was an avid collector of those cassette tapes when I could find them. I bought them at gigs, festivals, Club Dog and Deptford Crypt events and sometimes begged the bands themselves who as yet hadn't released anything to fill a blank tape with their latest noodlings for me. I still have many of these recordings and intend to share some of them here to fill a perceived gap on the internet. I'm starting to convert these tapes to digital format for my own collection, and to share if there's a demand. I hope that the band members and artists don't object to me doing this...

To get things rolling I've chosen one of my favourite bands from the era I've just described - Webcore.

Their gigs were always events that I would look forward to with anticipation, as the mystical musical environment they conjured up was something very special. Poetry, chanted mantras and various organic and inorganic instruments would be layered on top of sheets of ambient synthesized sound, fretless bass and solid tribal rhythms, each performance seemingly unique no matter how many times one would see them play. Their flyers were also decorated with astonishing artwork to provide a conceptual vision of intent.

This tape is called 'Cinematography' and dates from 1984.
I've ripped it at 320kbps from the original and it comes in two parts, sides 1 & 2. I've done a little bit of tweaking to get the overall levels near 0db and topped and tailed the tape hiss at the beginning and ends of the sides.

The tracks are -
Side One: Exit The Fear/Jack Smack/Shades Of Light/Son Of Man/Webcore Atman
Side Two: Poison Without Trace/Captains Table/Edentide/The Feather Mask And This/Prophet Gear

Download HERE

The live performances of Feather Mask were something else completely! Well, all the songs...really intense, phew!
I also love the section of one musical tone-poem that talks of getting up to go down to the benefit office to sign on, genius. 'People are lethal...'
Thatcher's/Major's/Blair's etc Britain in a nutshell.

Webcore pics from Club Dog, @ Wood Green, London 1986-87

Typical flyer artwork

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Another video today, one which I watched last night.

The subject of how banks operate has of course been big news for a few years now, and a good thing too. Until we come up with an alternative system, those people who live in countries (most of us) where the government doesn't issue the currency of that country but instead borrows the money from privately run usury organisations, are in deep shit.

This video primarily refers to the US Federal Reserve system, but may as well deal with the problems of any country cursed with a fiat currency system. It's got great animation, amusing characters, pop culture references, and is a good introduction to how we're all being screwed by the banksters. Are the Rothschilds behind it all? I don't know.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Declaration of War

So when is a war a war?

Seems like you don't have to bother with the formality of actually declaring war on another country these days, you just go in when you're ready, invade and take over, making sure that you 'liberate' many people from their lives. Then you destroy the infrastructure, hold dodgy 'elections' which then replace the previous government with one made up of puppets working for you and give the contracts to rebuild to your buddies in the Military-Industrial Complex. The illusion of 'democracy' can then be preserved.

Oh, but you don't have to stop killing the people who dare to object to you being there, who don't welcome you with flags and open arms and cheer when statues get toppled (that's just for the 'embedded' reporters), just make sure you call them 'insurgents'. Isn't it wonderful how changing the semantics makes sure that the folks back home can ease their consciences by knowing that their boys are fighting the good fight against 'terrorists' in that country, and not against the people who actually live there and might object to uninvited guests. (I mean, how dare they?)

According to (ahem) Wikipedia in the page concerning Declaration of War you can find this -
'It has been noted that "developments in international law since 1945, notably the United Nations (UN) Charter, including its prohibition on the threat or use of force in international relations, may well have made the declaration of war redundant as a formal international legal instrument." In addition to this, non-state or terrorist organisations may claim to or be described as "declaring war" when engaging in violent acts.
Also -
'The United Nations has issued Security Council Resolutions  that declared some wars to be legal actions under international law, most notably Resolution 678, authorizing war with Iraq in 1991. The UN Resolutions authorise the use of "force" or "all means necessary".

Hmmm, not for 2003 it would seem.

Here's a very moving film that amazingly made it onto mainstream TV (ITV in the UK) recently. Good on you, John Pilger. He might not go all the way and declare himself a 'conspiracy theorist' like some of us, but with this film he doesn't have to. Some of the people involved tell you (some apologetically, others not) the parts they played in the sham of the mainstream media reporting of these conflicts.
I should go to Youtube and watch it fullscreen.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Fool

Well, here we go then, the Fool steps out (I haven't got a dog, but I do live quite near some cliffs!).

I don't really know what's going to happen on here, and probably no-one else will even see it, unless I start providing something that they want (which might well happen in time, in the shape of music that I think I'll post, as it needs to be shared rather than be left sitting in a drawer).

You might get some links to articles, other sites and blogs once I figure out how to incorporate them, videos and even some creative writing, most likely in the form of my misanthropic mutterings...

It'll be interesting for me to look back on this in a while to see if I've changed my mind on anything and moved on. Hopefully I shall have done, as it's a pretty awful thought to imagine that someone would never change their opinion on anything in the light of new information (and there's so much of that, as we all know - well some of us anyway).