31 December, 2008

Together Or Alone - Solo 2003

I've really fallen in love with Bakesale lately, and particularly this song. Here's a really nice solo version from 2003:

This is not, clearly, an obligatory end of 2008 post. That may come later but I can't imagine it matters. When I decide which are my favourite albums of the year (I haven't listened to that many 2008 albums really) I will probably post that.

30 December, 2008


The concept of Flat Daddies is giving me some pause for thought this evening. Quite simply, I struggle to know how I really feel about it.

It's wonderful that our feeling for parents, and the amount of love we have to give, are so deep that we can have real joy for a cardboard cut-out. If it helps families, then of course it must be tremendous. And it's fantastic that our free market could never leave such a crucial need unserved (albeit at $50 a pop - this is not a charity).

But it's also incredibly sad that a love that seems so real and vital between a child and their flesh-parent (so as not to discriminate against all the photo-parents out there) could seemingly be easily transferred to a thing.

What does this say about our contemporary view of relationships? These aren't posited as some kind of replacement, but still, how might this make a child feel about objects, as opposed to organisms? Might having this presence inhibit an infant's ability to find the attention that they need during their formative years?

Flat Daddies say on their site: "Experts believe the cutouts are a useful psychological device, especially for children, to help cope with the stress of long absences. It helps the family stay connected and is a constant reminder that even though mom or dad is thousands of miles away, they are still a part of their lives." I hope so. Clearly, I don't know what long-term research exists.

I sympathise greatly with the families that feel a Flat Daddy can help them. Kids should have a two parents, and where families have been wrenched apart through necessity (foreign policy notwithstanding) the effort to keep the other parent 'alive' in their child's mind must be a difficult one.

27 December, 2008

Getting Educated

Christmas comes and Christmas goes, and in its wake yet more tomes are added to the small library I hope I can eventually plough through. With so many modern novels to read, how will I ever address those old epics? War & Peace, Dante's Divine Comedy, A Brief History of Time, Ulysses, The Iliad - we've all set aside some big names that we'll someday tackle, educating ourselves in the process, maybe finishing them in time for it to go on our gravestones.

Give up. I've come to terms with it. I'm never going to get through the complete works of Shakespeare. Austen is too dull. Infinite Jest is actually insultingly long, while Rainbow Six is too much for any one man to understand.

Reading is not all it's cracked up to be - getting things read to you, that's where it's at. Get onto the BBC site and listen to Milton's Paradise Lost, read by Anton Lesser. It's all about God and Satan and things, and contains some excellent words. It's like reading but less grind.

Episode 1 is available for just a couple more days. GO!

24 December, 2008

Grey Days

It’s here. If all the headlines and news-talk didn’t hit home ‘til now, this is it. “Welcome to the recession.”

This is running through my mind as I stand just inside the door at Woolworths. The combination of dishevelled, half-stocked shelves and shuffling crowds plugs uncannily into the zombie-movie scenes that’re so in vogue online. I catch my hands sub-consciously wielding a pump-action shotgun. My nostrils flare and catch a whiff of pure desperation.

I haven’t been in a Woolworths for at least a year, and even then I was dragged in. I haven’t wanted to enter in a decade. That would be when I was buying Stereophonics singles on cassette (ah, that that could be the most embarrassing crime against taste I committed in that grand old store). Even then, all tacky books and oversized chocolate, it was well on the way to becoming a failing pound shop. Woolworth’s demise is hardly my fault. But it’s too much watching others pick over its stiffening corpse, let alone joining in the plunder myself. I move on.

Despair is thick in the air all around the town, on the final Saturday of financial life. Already the morning news reports declared “sell or bust”. Fairy lights in the windows of even the least festive stores are meant to drag in precious customers who seek to make every coin count. Isn’t desperation the currency of every Christmastime? Seasonal slogans in inappropriate places, the impossibility of reading our loved ones’ minds, a determination to make one day a delight for all concerned, all add up to a heady mix.

This year is different. I visit the only independent record store in town, even if it rarely has anything I’m looking for. I spend an hour in my favourite bookstore, just reading the back of novels, even if Waterstones has a better selection. In a way my interest in Christmas shopping has been rekindled now it’s a rescue mission. The sensation of economic decline is reinforced by the languid grey sky hanging heavily overhead.

The shoppers who laugh (for there are a few) are not happy. They are demented. They are in denial. They are drugged worshippers of a death cult, merrily embracing their end. I'm torn between scorn and pity.

There are vultures outside the town, eyeing up the carcasses, ready to strip our failing high street bare of all cashflow. Their prices are unmatchable, their efficiency undeniable and their appetite insatiable. Tescos have added another floor in order to sell more clothes. Week-to-week you needn’t go anywhere else, for anything.

If there’s one lesson I’d love us all to absorb, it would be to shop in places we like, re-learn the link between payment and prestige, and really consider what we value. ‘Bang for your buck’ pales into insignificance against the human cost of forsaking our independent shops in favour of sterile megastores. There must be a rebirth after the fall, and it is still within our power to determine quite what sort of phoenix will rise.

16 October, 2008


I'm back online! That said, not much has changed. Wildbirds & Peacedrums are my new favourite band, and I highly recommend you check out Heartcore, from which this single was taken.

09 September, 2008

Canada fails us


This would not even be a crime in a civilised country!

09 August, 2008

My How We Laughed

Stephen Hawking's Black Holes and Baby Universes (and other essays) is an interesting read, although prone to repeating itself, as each chapter derives from a lecure Hawking has actually given, hence background information tends to recur. To a relative layman, however, it relates some extremely fascinating and novel information - I had no idea that Einstein had rejected quantum theory, nor that Black Holes actually emit certain particles/energy.

Maybe more surprisingly, it's extremely well written, if brief. It is a warm, accessible book that includes physics (a few chapters are actually more like an autobiography). Indeed, at the end you may find yourself thirsting for more detail, more of a challenge. Far from seeming stuffy, Hawking displays an easy wit throughout. One neat aside reads:

"What all this means is that going through a black hole is unlikely to prove a popular and reliable method of space travel. First of all, you would have to get there by travelling in imaginary time and not care that your history in real time came to a sticky end. Second, you couldn't choose your destination. It would be like travelling on some airlines I could name. "

Far from being unique, these gentle quips appear throughout his writing. They're welcome, even if I find the idea of them being read out in Hawking's famous synthesized voice a bit disconcerting.

More famous for his writing ability and humour is Bill Bryson. If a book makes you laugh out loud once, it's surely worth reading. If a book draws worried enquiries from relatives in other buildings, well, maybe its worth blogging about? The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid is one such book.

Bryson cuts loose completely here. It seems in previous books he's felt an obligation to his subject matter. As The Thunderbolt Kid, however, he is his subject matter, and takes his talent for constructing a funny story or clever observation to absolute heights. Riffing on the subject of his childhood he seems to be having, literally, the time of his life.

On the way he takes a sideswipe at prevailing ideas in the 50s US. McCarthyism, nuclear testing, portrayals of teenagers and sex in film, and casual attitudes to health and safety. He's not serious though - in fact the whole thing reads more like an obituary for innocence, and the real goodwill he feels seems to radiate from every page. Combined with childlike flights of fantasy, it's a heady mix.

Far from the most challenging thing I'll read all summer, I'm devouring this. Enough to transform Bryson from a favourite in my eyes, into a literary hero.

Nay, a superhero. The Thunderbolt Kid.

03 August, 2008

Sad Days

It's being reported that Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died. I've only read "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch" (I was going to read "August 14" shortly), but I thought it was worth noting the passing of "Russia's soul." Reading it a year ago, I was taken aback by the wealth and matter-of-factness of his descriptions, and I've since read impressive tales of the effect he had in Russia.

I just felt it was worth noting the death of a man who so staunchly stood against forces of tyranny.

13 July, 2008


I found a copy of Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie left long-forgotten on a shelf in our spare room a couple of months ago. Now I resolve to sit down and read it (I find Rushdie a fairly intimidating writer).

Of habit I turn to the back to see how many pages there are. 463. Just before the final page a scrap of newspaper hangs out .It is dated to 1994 and has marked page 453 for goodness knows how long.

Were I a superstitious man I would go and find another copy, but here goes...

29 June, 2008

Jews: The Next Generation

The holocaust is a subject so horrific, and so incomprehensibly awful, that much as we do our best to remember, really we consign it to a locked room in the back our minds and bring it up only as the example of evil-doing. This is true for myself and, I am sure, others with no link at all to that terrible period in the history of the Jewish people.

So how do the repercussions of that time impact the lives of people who weren't there, but were affected? This is the subject of Vanessa Engle's excellent documentary, the second of three that BBC4 have entitled, simply, Jews.

Engle explores the feelings of the children of holocaust survivors, and finds that the wounds inflicted more than 60 years ago cut extremely deep. Those who fled and became parents in the UK reacted in different ways - commonly though, changing their identities, overprotecting their families, and trying (always failing) to forget.

One subject learnt only recently of her Jewish background (yet others did not realise while their parents were still alive). She claims that those terrible times, and her parents' efforts, shape her 'entire psychological hinterland.' Another explains that she shares her name with another child her mother had, who did not survive Auschwitz. She seems to embrace this mark of her family, but it surely cannot be a fully comfortable fact.

There is something more complex here than 'dealing with' the holocaust. Relationships between parents and children, usually complex anyway, are twisted and further complicated by incredibly sore emotional scars. In some cases the surviving parents themselves are present, but rarely are they able to engage with their children's questions or feelings.

There is a sense in which as these middle-aged offspring come to realise how great the shockwaves through their lives have been, they also realise that with time the answers and causes are continuously retreating. One lady gives up her life in the UK to learn just what happened to her mother's family in Vienna, just what tore at her mother for so many years. Coming at the end of the film, this segment is especially poignant.

Interesting to me is the effect that fleeing the Nazis had on the faith of the survivors and their offspring. Out of fear, few maintained their Jewish faith, or even their mother tongues, and it seems all integrated as fully as possible. This may have interesting implications for how we relate to beliefs and culture. Their children, however, approached what was frequently a newly-discovered heritage in a surprising variety of ways.

Part two of this excellent series is a huge change of pace. The gently comedic Samuel has been replaced with a horrifying, looming, past. Inconsistent it may be, but Jews continues to make involving and thought-provoking viewing.

My review of part one is here, and this episode is available on BBC's iPlayer for a few days yet...

28 June, 2008

Tasty Genetics

The Chocolate Genome Project? That's science I can get behind.

Tasty tasty science

It makes a lot of sense. Two thoughts: 1) 5 years? To both sequence and 'analyse' a genome? They'll be lucky to get terribly valuable information that quickly, I should expect. 2) It may be completely through self-interest, but important groundwork being laid by a corporation isn't to be sniffed at. Valuable information could surely result.

24 June, 2008

Kith and Kin

I got back from a gig to flop in front of the rather wonderful documentary The Prisoner, part of the BBC Four series, Jews. Samuel Leibowitz has just finished a spell in prison for drug smuggling. On his release he has returned to his childhood community of ultra-orthodox hasidic jews in north London.

(Unfortunately a small failing of the film is it didn't really explain to me what a hasidic Jew is. There's always the danger we might conclude that all Jews live in this way, but I'm relatively sure they do not.)

The extraordinarily devoted and restricted lives of the ~20,000 members of this community are completely at odds with the lifestyle of most modern britons, most especially those Samuel has been meeting in a prison environment. Even the term 'kosher', which we will have at least heard of, proves very difficult to really explain. Over the course of the hour, Vanessa Engle explores these rules and conflictions, and attempts to find the nature of Samuel's rebellion.

It's a fascinating insight into an extremely insular community. The temptation is clearly there for Engle to reach conclusions about this society, especially about the role of women and the effect on adolescents, but her restraint is crucial; after all we can easily decide for ourselves.

The main question we must ask is whether Samuel reacts like very many people would, or is he simply as strange an individual as he seems, somehow dysfunctional? Are the extremities of his rebellion therefore the result of the overbearing culture in which he was brought up?

As enjoyable as the current trend of "religious freak" documentaries are, it's refreshing to see this film, although clearly not quite embracing the hasidic jewish lifestyle, at least engaging with a totally alien culture and teasing out a fair

Episode 1 of 'Jews' is available to stream on the BBC iPlayer service for at least 6 more days HERE. 2 more episodes will be aired in the next week.

21 June, 2008

False Advertising

A google search for Marion (I was looking for 'The Matrix' Shawn, not a teensy Iowa town) brings up this page with its rather amusing tagline.

Where should one place stress on "You can go home again," exactly?

Is this a hack-job in a literal or rhetorical sense? That can't surely be deliberate.

P.S. Even if you've never heard of Shawn Marion, the story about his Chinese-language tattoo is worth a repost.

19 June, 2008

Farewell and Goodnight

For some time I'll fondly recall an explosive Rajon Rondo performance (precisely when it mattered!), remember being oh-so-proud of Jesus Shuttleworth (a ring at last!), and wonder whether these brief fireworks were worth the mortgaged future the Celtics landed themselves with (obviously!).

And for almost as long, I'll miss this ad.


05 June, 2008

When We Were Younger & Better

Having just finished and mostly enjoyed Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, which I'd agree is a masterpiece but certainly a rather dense one, I embarked this morning upon The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins.

This is Dawkins c. 1986, a book as old as I am, and it's difficult to forget that he has yet to become a cause célèbre or go on the offensive. It predates The God Delusion by twenty years. That it was a different world is made evident by this sentence, on the first page of the preface:

"The computer on which I write these words has an information storage capacity of about 64 kilobytes"

I'm still only a couple of chapters in, but my first impression is that this version of Dawkins is much more constructive. I'm coming to think that he is foremost an evolutionist, and would not be at all interested in his present christian-baiting had they not 'started it.'

Here he is positive and wastes no time in celebrating the natural world. He goes so far as almost to praise William Paley, theologian and originator of the "watchmaker analogy," concluding that Paley has reached the wrong conclusion but understandably so, and in praising the diversity and apparent design of nature they are almost united!

It would be interesting to see how he felt about Paley now.

His extraordinary ability to introduce and explain scientific principles with the written word is astounding to me, and something nearly any science writer could learn a lot from. Even though I am well acquainted with the subject, I'm very much looking forward to my reading time in the coming week.

03 June, 2008

End of the Line

Torrent fiends: get paranoid.

I find this a little off the mark:
"Concerns are myriad at this point, ranging from how authorities can prove their cases using the easily manipulated user data seized during the initial OiNK raid, to why the police are involved at all in what some have suggested is merely a matter that calls for civil action, to, of course, whether the arrests will continue-- and, if so, who will be next."
I can see why you'd be concerned, but c'mon, you use these sites and these systems for sharing music you have no real right to (I'll repeat that - music may be as free as the air and the birds in the trees, but musicians put the effort in and deserve to make a little back) and you always know if it catches up with you you have no real excuse.

Funnier is the concept of DNA samples and fingerprints being taken, I grant you. Although it's pretty egalitarian that some cardigan-clad pop nerd goes in the database alongside the serial rapist.

All I'll say, as someone who downloads a lot of music but equally buys a lot of CDs and goes to a lot of gigs, is it's impossible to get to grips with certain areas of music without delving into torrents and music blogs. Once you get into real experimental/avant territory you'll struggle to find new stuff you like on MTV2.
I know a lot of people who download albums online and some are good for music, others not so good. But that's describing people in general. On the whole it's an essential part of the progression of music as we know it.

Just don't complain when you get nicked.

01 June, 2008

Things I Learnt From Zizek In May

I watched The Pervert's Guide To Cinema yesterday, in which Slavoj Zizek applies psychoanalytical ideas to films as diverse as Alien: Resurrection, Vertigo, Persona, The Wizard of Oz and The Matrix. It's about 2 hours of concepts I really don't understand. Here is what I learnt:

*You can tell if someone is a father figure as they will "wear the phallus" as their insignia.

*Flowers should be forbidden for children as they are basically vaginas.

*The use of voice to suggest altered identity is particularly effective as it is "not an organic part of the body."

*If a scene or narrative device is effective, it's probably because you want to hump someone, and also probably you shouldn't.

*One's virtual, fantasised self may be more "real" than that which inhabits the physical world, as it is not impeded by outside influences. Hence our fantasies may be a better guide to who we really are.

It was a lot of fun to watch, albeit hard work at times. I'd seriously recommend it as a novel (to me) angle of film criticism. The entire thing is on Youtube, and not hard to find, but I'll be buying the DVD I'm pretty sure.

Staying Alive

Hicham was due to be deported today, but there's been good news. The original removal directions have been cancelled. It's good news, but he's not out of the woods yet!

Please, if you're interested, keep an eye on freehichamyezza.wordpress.com/. There are facebook groups, one for the nottingham network, one global, from which information is being disseminated!

30 May, 2008

A Worthy Cause

I'm afraid I'm no expert, I shall have to cut and paste, but this is a worthy cause and deserves support:

Stop The Deportation Of Hicham Yezza!

(from facebook group)

Hicham Yezza, a popular, respected and valued former PhD student and current employee of the University of Nottingham faces deportation to Algeria on Sunday 1st June. That's NEXT SUNDAY.
This follows his unjust arrest under the Terrorism Act 2000 on Wednesday 14th May alongside Rizwaan Sabir and their release without charge six days later.

On his release Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation over these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, he was suddenly served with a deportation notice and moved to an immigration detention centre. The deportation is being urgently appealed. Hich maintains he will be able to sucessfully fight deportation in the courts.

Hicham has been resident in the U.K. for 13 years, during which time he has studied for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Nottingham. He is an active member of debating societies, a prominent member of an arts and theatre group, and has been writing editorials for the Student Peace Movement magazine for the last five years. He is well known and popular on campus amongst the university community and has established himself as a voracious reader and an authority on literature and music. An application for British citizenship was underway, and he had been planning to make his yearly trip to Wales for the Hay Festival when he was suddenly arrested.
There's more information at http://freehichamyezza.wordpress.com/ which has information as to how you can help. But if you've only a limited amount of time and still want to do something, please do the following:

1. Sign the e-petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/freehich/ this is FREE (despite the conspicuous donation ad) and will take a minute MAX.

2. Send an e-mail to home secretary Jacqui Smith at the home office informing her of your support of Hicham's case and asking her to stop the deportation of this man who is being dealt with without trial. A template and e-mail address are available at http://freehichamyezza.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/model-letter-to-the-home-office/.

There's an awful lot to this, none of which I can claim to totally understand. A complex set of worrying implications for academic freedom and right to due process. But I cannot explain these. All I would hope is that Hicham gets an opportunity to defend himself in court before anyone can eject him from the country he's lived in for 13 years.

Thanks for any time you can give.

26 May, 2008


'Tis time, my dear, 'tis time. The heart demands repose
Day after day slips by and with each hour there goes
A little bit of life; but meanwhile you and I
Together plan to dwell... yet lo! 'tis then we die.
There is not bliss on earth; there's peace and freedom though,
An enviable lot I long have yearned to know.
Long have I, weary slave, been contemplating flight
To a remote abode of work and pure delight.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, 1834

I've let things slip of late, it's true. But exams, you know. Anyway, I found it hard to get hold of Pushkin that's not, y'know, in Russian. Not even really understanding their alphabet I have no idea what it sounds like. But this translation is nice (it's by Nabokov, author of Lolita)

04 May, 2008


I've been intermittently leafing through the complete works of W.B. Yeats (the everyman edition with at least as many pages of notes as poems themselves). It's been quite a slog at times, I've not yet developed an ear (eye?) for longer poems, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting on better with modern poets than classical ones. Still, that's not to say that I haven't enjoyed parts of it.

Nor dread nor hope attend
A dying animal;
Man awaits his end
Dreading and hoping all;
Many times he died,
Many times he rose again.
A great man in his pride
Confronting murderous men
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone
Man has created death.

W.B. Yeats (~1933)

I've taken to posting my weekly poem up on the fridge door, as much for my pleasure as for my housemates'. But as with so many things it's become a source of conflict. For I appear to gravitate towards rather grim subject matter, and this poem about death was swiftly removed. Better luck next time.

This week I'm reading some verse by E.E Cummings. It's a special joy because since picking up a book of his about a week ago I've discovered I adore his poetry. It's precisely why I set out upon this enterprise, to discover stuff like this. I might try and pick a cheery one (One ends "and everyone's in love and flowers pick themselves" - should strike a bell with some UK music fans).

Oh yes and I've missed out a week (our internet's cut off!) but I have learnt a poem by Pushkin. Unfortunately it's proven tricky to get hold of much of his work. I'll do that later.

26 April, 2008

This Bread I Break

Multiple things are swallowing up all my time. Also our internet connection has been cut off - something to do with a controversial matter also known as "not paying bills". Oh well.

I have had time to read some Dylan Thomas though. Also latterly some Yeats. In both cases, when they're good, they sound great. Unfortunately, when they're impenetrable, I feel a headache coming on. Anyway:

This bread I break was once the oat,
The wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day, or wind by night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape's joy.

Once in this wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

Dylan Thomas, 1933.

Thomas is a fascinating character and a great poet, but unfortunately I find I can only seldom enjoy reading his poetry, and then only because I've given myself plenty of time to work up to it - unlike Auden, who I felt more able to dip in and out of.

Regardless, another that I think I should like to return to.

13 April, 2008

Gare Du Midi

Tough to choose one, I've really rather enjoyed my research into Auden as well, although his work seems odd, sometimes seemingly direct and straightforward, sometimes hard to fathom.

A nondescript express in from the South,
Crowds round the ticket barrier, A face
To welcome which the mayor has not contrived
Bugles or braid: Something about the face
Distracts the stray look with alarm and pity.
Snow is falling. Clutching a little case,
He walks out briskly to infect a city
Whose terrible future may have just arrived.

WH Auden, 1938

What immediately appeals to me about this one (apart from the short length that characterises all my choices!) is the meaning one could choose to read into it. A 21st century reader could be forgiven for imagining a terrorist with a vial of lethal pathogen. At the time it was written, that "little case" could be all the more hostile for containing instead an ideology, whether one that's downright evil, or simply an alien sense of bureaucracy.

I'd like to know more about Auden's concerns around that time but that's really where I ran out of research time for the week. Later, later.

Auden's whole body of work is excellent though, really. I've thoroughly enjoyed picking my way through a variety of sentiments and structures. "Gare Du Midi" is a favourite alongside "Here War is Simple like a Monument," "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," and "In Praise in Limestone." I don't think I can do such a man of words justice with my own, but I would heartily recommend the collection I have, at the least. It's collected together by John Fuller.

By this time next week I hope I'll have had time to read some of Dylan Thomas' poetry.

11 April, 2008

Second Hand News

Lately I've become a bit obsessed with Google Trends. It sort of combines two fascinations of mine; how huge swathes of traffic move online, and the uncanny way statistics can document history. Of course, they've only been recording search frequencies from 2004, so it's very recent history, but regardless, it can indicate the rise of youtube or give an idea of how the democratic presidential nomination race has emerged so far.

Maybe more fascinating though, is the short-term chart, for the day's "hottest" search terms. This can unearth some really intriguing stories that maybe won't fully break into the mainstream media and won't be going round for more than a couple of days.

Example: at time of writing, the top search term is "dick cheney sunglasses." Seemingly nonsensical, but of course "Trends" grants you links to news stories, that you might make sense of these weird surges.

And sure enough, enlightenment, here, here, here, and hundreds of others besides I don't doubt.

The story: a press photo of Dick Cheney appears to show a nudey lady reflected in his sunglasses. How embarassing. For the sake of it, here's the photo:

Google trends: positively half hours of intrigue.

07 April, 2008

The Bard

So, Shakespeare this week. Fella wrote 154 sonnets, but I was a bit pushed for time this week, so I stuck with one, and I decided to make it a crowd-pleaser;
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is His gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's 18th sonnet is probably his most well-known, by first line alone. It's pretty pleasing to learn verse that itself promises it will last "so long as men can breathe," almost making myself complicit to Shakespeare's promise of immortality to his subject.

Reading Shakespeare's poetry more widely was hard to start with; the immediate appeal of this one is its familiarity, which allowed me to get straight in there. But I found some others that I really liked, and I shall be returning to Shakespeare (I've long felt I should know more about his plays, besides). If only for his place and reputation as the foundation of english literature as we know it.

"Shakespeare's Sonnets" was an invaluable source.

This week I'm hoping to dip more frequently into WH Auden, who's already a bit of a favourite.

05 April, 2008

Sold Out

Lately listening to a lot of Sleater Kinney, Hüsker Dü, Get Hustle, Quicksand, A//Political, Rites of Spring, My Dad is Dead, Black Flag, By the End of Tonight. Guess what mood I'm in.

Looking forward to a few Nottingham gigs upcoming. I'll put some anticipated ones up here, for my own reference as much as anything. No way I can go to all of these, no way it's an all-encompassing list either.

First off, Damn You! have some quality ones (big groan at the student trait of only thinking in terms):

18/04/08 Ted Leo & The Pharmacists @ The Maze
22/04/08 Carla Bozulich's Evangelista @ The Maze
24/04/08 Magik Markers (+ Gnomes of Zurich support! Could be quality) @ Rose of England
13/05/08 Pissed Jeans @ The Maze

Bodega Social:

21/04/08 Buttonhead
22/04/08 Ulrich Schnauss (Uh-oh clash)
06/05/08 Health
20/05/08 A Place To Bury Strangers
09/06/08 Why? + SJ Esau (Birthday treat for me)

Rescue Rooms put on 65daysofstatic on 10/05/08 could be pretty good.

Also on 16/04/08 Mantile has Broken Sleep and also the amazingly-named Milf Wolf, at The Chameleon. Sounds noisy and delicious.

Dot to Dot festival is on 24/05/08 and will be a big fun weekend. To be honest the lineup looked pretty weak but The Most Serene Republic may have rescued it for me.

Have I missed anything? Is there anything I should have down here? Please let me know.

31 March, 2008

The Hawk In The Rain

As promised, I've learnt a poem by Ted Hughes this week:

I drown in the drumming ploughland, I drag up
Heel after heel from the swallowing of the earth's mouth,
From clay that clutches my each step to the ankle
With the habit of the dogged grave, but the hawk

Effortlessly at height hangs his still eye.
His wings hold all creation in a weightless quiet,
Steady as a hallucination in the streaming air.
While banging wind kills these stubborn hedges,

Thumbs my eyes, throws my breath, tackles my heart,
And rain hacks my head to the bone, the hawk hangs,
The diamond point of will that polestars
The sea drowner's endurance: And I,

Bloodily grabbed dazed last-moment-counting
Morsel in the earth's mouth, strain to the master-
Fulcrum of violence where the hawk hangs still.
That maybe in his own time meets the weather

Coming the wrong way, suffers the air, hurled upside-down,
Fall from his eye, the ponderous shires crash on him,
The horizon trap him; the round angelic eye
Smashed, mix his heart's blood with the mire of the land.
Ted Hughes

Overall, I've really enjoyed reading Hughes' poems. "Pike" and "The Shot" also became favourites. I'll certainly be seeking out more of his work.

Also, happily, it didn't prove too hard to remember these 20 lines. I had no idea how easy/tricky it would be, but I typed this out from memory, needing to correct only a couple of bits of punctuation.

This week I'll be learning a bit of Shakespeare; how could I take interest in poetry without having a look at the classics?

29 March, 2008

TV Party

How on earth does Peter Krause manage it? The first ten minutes of Six Feet Under displayed his character Nate getting intimate with a nameless woman in an airport cupboard. Meanwhile, his dad had just died in a hearse-crash, and Nate and his new acquaintance must face his highly-strung mother and his sister, who’s just plain high. Sex, death and crystal meth within twelve minutes. Of course, before the pilot ended we got a gay love scene too.

So Krause, this time as lawyer Nick George, has a knack for getting involved with messy families, as evidenced by the first episodes of Dirty Sexy Money. His dad just died in a plane crash, and Nick’s been called upon to take his old job, as family lawyer and general dogsbody for uber-wealthy, dysfunctional New York family the Darlings.

On this occasion though, it’s out with philosophy and in with debit card glamour.

It’s a wild ride as Nick desperately seeks a non-existent balance point between his own life (He’s found himself another ridiculously sexy girlfriend), and those of the other six people he must now babysit. As viewers we revel in the Darling’s decadence, their absurd materialism and moral corruption.

We feel more at home to find the Darlings are anchored by patriarch Donald Sutherland, and count William Baldwin and Samaire Armstrong (The O.C.!) among their numbers. Transexual prostitutes, affairs and an illegitimate son born to a clergyman ensure there’s plenty on Nick’s plate.

Indeed, we’d come to feel bad about it if it wasn’t all so tongue-in-cheek. Maybe that makes it less satisfying than the real deal, that we really wish we were watching. It’s fun, at times uproarious, but obviously lightweight fluff. The young(ish) part of the cast bring limo-loads of energy, in combination with the daft plotlines, while Sutherland veers between deft tone-setting and plain senility.

You’ll want to like Dirty Sexy Money, for its energy and simplicity, and it’s possible to really disengage the brain and enjoy this frothy, high-calorie nonsense. Just don’t expect to feel full afterwards.


“You’re the best,” declares the patient. “You break the rules, and you don’t care about anyone but yourself.” Of course, the maverick physician can only be Gregory House. And Hugh ‘unloved in Britain’ Laurie’s show returns to our screens for a fourth series, as grouchy, cynical and over-the-top as ever.

Having dismissed his staff at the end of series 3, House must whittle 40-odd applicants down to a new trio. While, obviously, watching House save the day, we can play a fun guessing game, trying to spot those final three.

Be that by spotting familiar faces (Anne Dudek of The Book Group and Mad Men?), or deepening characterization (The foreign chick? The old guy? The black dude?), it’s a fun distraction for when Laurie isn’t on the screen. Naturally, when he is, he steals the show.

Sadly, House’s writers have continued that disturbing trend of thinking-out-loud through the characters from series 3 to series 4. It’s catching and it sometimes brings you back to earth with a jolt. This is, after all, pretty silly, and getting to feel mass-produced.

But, like Dirty Sexy Money, it still charms. Yet more proof that good TV doesn’t always have to be art.

24 March, 2008

Poet in the Pit - One-a-Week

In my unrelenting (!) quest to better myself I've seized upon someone else's initiative. It's not an original idea but it appeals to me: I'm going to learn one poem a week until my head can hold no more.

By learn, I guess I mean off by heart, verbatim. Certainly if I choose a poem on Monday or Tuesday I anticipate I should be able to remember it pretty much perfectly on Sunday. But I'll place more importance on enjoying or comprehending it.

I won't lie though, I'd like to be one of those smarmy people who can pull a verse from mid-air seemingly effortlessly.

I guess I'll be setting myself three main targets;
  • Firstly, I want to read poetry by a variety of different poets, hopefully from different backgrounds as well. Therefore I'm going to try and dot around from week to week, and cover a fair number of famous ones, as well as getting a sense of the depth of the art-form.
  • Secondly, for each poet I intend to learn a favourite one, but also to read around it, to get a sense of the poet's overall work, and the context within which he wrote.
  • Thirdly, I hope I'm going to be able to understand the words I'm learning as well as just liking the sound of them. I'd expect I won't get it straight away, but after a few weeks of exposing myself to verse, I might have a better and more immediate feel for poetry, and especially its meaning.
So here goes. On the afternoon of the 24th of March, 2008, I undertake this mission. Obviously I'll be posting here with the poems I'm learning and how it's all going. My first poet will be Ted Hughes (I won't lie, those free poetry pamphlets in the papers last week will help!).

Wish me luck!

18 March, 2008

"The Ghostly Apples Tea Drinking Show" - Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon, Les Étoiles, The Anvil, 14/03/08

Have you ever been into Nottingham city centre on a Friday night? It's carnage. Nottingham's a classic example of the new urban frontier town, where the forces of sobriety and temperance clash with the forces of drunkenness and disruliness, nightly.

So you'd have to cast yor net pretty far to find a case of greater contrast, then, than that between Lee Rosy's tea rooms and its surroundings. There aren't many chairs, but it's still hugely comfy inside for this low-key free gig.

The crowd stumble in from the cold in coats and promptly sweat profusely once they start on the first cups of tea. Thirty people can make the place seem quite packed, not least in front of the "stage," which first sees The Anvil, the project of Nottingham's Matthew Fullwood, take to the sweetly-smelling wooden boards.

You couldn't want a much more warming sound to kick off. One could listen to this folky, psychedelic set forever, quite happily. Bringing to mind a more contented Six Organs of Admittance, or a more organic Animal Collective, or Jesu bent through a singer-songwriter's lens, there are plenty of nodding heads by the time Matthew's finished; definitely a hit.

I was chiefly present to see the second act, Les Étoiles. This pseudonym is the mask of David Fitzpatrick, whose album Never To Alight is one of the big must-hears on nascent music label Records on Ribs. The album features some of the most intimate songs I feel I've ever heard, and is touching and mournful in equal measure.

The live experience is not quite as perfect as it is recorded. The delicate instrumental additions are absent, and the delivery of lines is endearingly, but just overly, wavering. But this really is quibbling, as the audience, which previously had been wandering in and out liberally, is held rapt. I'm desperate to hold my breath, to not break the spell, or the magic that delicately holds each piece together. Embraced tenderly by each word, the aftertaste is haunting.

It's one of the hardest acts you could follow. Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon are gamely up for the task, and although we're all tanked up on Almond Cream tea by this late stage of proceedings, and thus quite full and tiring, there's a huge degree of goodwill in the air. After all, vocalist Aaron put the night together and the duo have it in them to finish it all off brilliantly.

Various things aren't right here. The vocals can be a challenging listen, the songs are often introduced with a number of words, the acoustic guitar crescendos can seem obvious. But in this case it hangs together extremely well. Those introductions are evocative and deeply personal. The crescendos are accompanied by rasping additions on the cello, while Aaron can intone lyrics or shift towards an anguished, plaintive voice of surprising power.

The melodies are at once simple and powerful, lent strength by the poweful symbiosis of the two men; their musical understanding seems effortless. The opening songs are haunting, breathy and bitter-sweet. As the set grows, so do the songs, as the last two pieces end loud and make you sit up. It's not unlike a transition from folk to Radiohead, though not quite.

All those things I initially doubt are blended into a quite perfect final set, and as we troop back out into the foul-smelling, unwelcoming cold, we're all quite content.

Like all Records on Ribs releases, Les Étoiles' album "Never To Alight" is available as a free download. Phantom Dog are on the Rusted Rail label and have released an EP, "Through a Forest Only." Releases by The Anvil are available at Woven Wheat Whispers.

14 March, 2008

Humanity and Paper Balloons

Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937) is a touching period piece following the exploits of two men in 18th century feudal Japan. Unno is a masterless samurai, a ronin, who is desperate to find work and restore his name and honour. Shinza is a barber, and a cheeky rulebreaker and schemer, who seeks better and hasn't quite worked out how to get it.

Set in what's now Tokyo, most of the characters live in a slum, where the scene opens with the residents discussing an off-screen suicide, by a dishonoured samurai who had lived among them. We're gradually introduced to the residents, their pompous landlord, and the hierarchy beyond the ghetto, where a gang of local men hold immediate authority.

The owners and workers of a nearby pawn shop are better off, while master Mori, the leader of the samurai clan, is a respected figure, in charge of the well-being and wedding of a noble's daughter. It is he Unno must beg for a fresh shot at honour and employment, and observing his deferral in the face of such rejection is heartbreaking.

While Unno battles with the temptation to take refuge in drink, Shinza is causing trouble for himself, hosting gambling games and continually on the run from the local gangs. The audience naturally comes to like Shinza, a daring young man of good nature and sharp wit. Eventually, from about halfway through the film, he takes his daring further than before, kidnapping the bride-to-be, and conspiring with Unno to hold her, seeking the pride and honour that will come from role-reversal, should the governor come and beg him for a change.

Filmed in 1937 and released on the very day its director Sadao Yamanaka was drafted into military service, during which he died, less than a year later, Humanity and Paper Balloons is a tragicomedic film. Warmly humourous character observations are peppered through the film, with true good feeling piercing through the difficult conditions the poor tenants endure. The landlord brings a dose of bustling levity, as does the blind man whose senses are so sharp the other tenants swear he can really see.

Ultimately a sad, but not depressing, film, Humanity and Paper Balloons is shot beautifully. Sets look wonderful, scenes are composed as delicate tableaus, to give a tremendous sense of historic Japan. Yamanaka balances these works in light against the struggle of the everyday people, portraying a society where poverty isn't a disaster, but dishonour is. From the very opening scene we get the feeling that Unno's fate hangs over him very heavily indeed.

A tragedy, really, that only three of Yamanaka's films survive to this day. Even more awful to think, if he made 30 before his death at age 29, quite how much more beauty he may have had to contribute to the world.

Humanity and Paper Balloons offers little entertainment to a general modern, western audience. But if we can put aside the pace and characterisation, slow compared to that to which we are accustomed, and immerse ourselves in the beautiful compositions put before us and the tenderness of the tale, there's plenty of pleasure to be derived here, in a story that's passed off as small-time and incidental but tells us more about Japanese culture, past and present, than we might expect.

Just The Architect

If I may, I'd like to bend your ear briefly, to vouch for the music of a talented man. Just The Architect is the project of one Johnathan Chan, who arms himself (not necessarily) nightly with guitar, keyboard and violin to do battle with those creative urges.

Now, I'll have to be honest, I've known Chan a little while and been hearing his creations for almost as long. I was fortunate enough to see "Aky and the Architect" play an ultra-exclusive set (!) and they sounded great. I'd have to say, though, that it's only just lately I've realised that no-one's playing at music here...

A quick list of comparisons would have to include Final Fantasy, Patrick Wolf, The Decemberists, Grizzly Bear and Bat for Lashes, though obviously influences don't stop there. And Chan'd be among the first to admit he's worn his influences on his sleeve at times; a personal favourite, Melodrama, shimmers and rips with Owen Pallett-worshipping violin, while Avast!'s lyrics are hitting upon ground familiar to fans of Pallett or Meloy, thematically at least.

Well, easy to say, but this is no one trick pony. For starters, the vocals are only a recent addition to JTA's repertoire, and they've begun to add new dimensions, to say the least. Transmuting trans-atlantic influences with a mediating British accent, Chan with vocals is a whole different beast on tracks like BC and Tinseltown Tongues, which are led by choral intonations.

Being lulled and soothed is one thing, but to be shaken up by Cadet Force is even a step further; these don't just demonstrate a voice, but even more a compositional step beyond influences into uncharted territory. On Tiger Vs World, with an incredible chanted transition, we literally hear JTA snarl for the first time.

It's obviously come full circle when you take in Fields; the strong violin part's still there to get us going, but more than that, the track progresses in its very own way as we first flirt with minimalism, then a low, swelling, pulse which evokes some form of otherworldly nature documentary, less Boards of Canada than American Gothic.

If this feels a bit less snug, the difference is rejuvenating. By the time we get round to his remix of Scott Davis' Rise, we're hitting the depths of melancholy as Chan lends terrifically sensitive touch to the subject. For my money, it's one of his best efforts so far.

I won't claim JTA's material is all perfect, but then, I don't think it's hit its heights yet. Some tracks come on a bit strong, while others hold out too much. It can hardly be an easy equilibrium to reach. Regardless, there's something special about hearing a musician (especially someone you know) steal away from their influences, bit by bit, and striking out their own notes.

Whether it's with creepy minimalist compositions, deftly handled remixes, or lo-fi alt-pop songs, I have a feeling Just The Architect will before too long come fully into its own, and that could be absolutely terrific.

Between Myspace and Last.fm, virtually all the tracks mentioned are freely listenable/downloadable.

09 March, 2008

No Country For Old Men

I was conflicted while approaching this film. Is it the new piece by the Coen brothers, or is it the recent Best Picture oscar-winner? Is there even a significant distinction to be drawn between the two?

In a study in coincidence and injustice, the set-up is the cat-and-mouse chase between an innocent everyman who stumbles across a fortune (Josh Brolin), and a maniacal killer, Chigurh, who doesn't follow the expected Hollywood morality for maniacal killers (Javier Bardem).

Don't be drawn in. Neither of these are the lead role. In fact, many events are perceived through the eyes of a retiring sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). It's through his eyes we assess the rough injustice of the Tex-Mex border region, and ask ourselves if this dark world is as devoid of God as it is seemingly devoid of morality.

These lead roles are truly crucial to the piece; a lesser actor in Jones' place might lead us to wonder whether the film had any meaning whatsoever, while Brolin balances hope, greed, and desperation on a fine knife-edge throughout.

Meanwhile, Bardem astounds. His role is the absolute centre of the work, which at its core is hugely violent. Two grotesque murders await us before any plot has even been divulged. They're so grotesque they conduct the thoughts of both the lead and the audience throughout. Each time Bardem enters a scene he infuses the entire film with a sense of dread.

Chigurh redoubles already unbearable tension with his belief in fate and attitude to justice, so alien to a western audience that he becomes a complete black box. He both enacts and holds to such a belief in fate that we too question whether anyone else can ultimately triumph.

The three main characters dance an intimate and delicate waltz throughout the film. Scene by scene, they never seal each other's fates as we'd expect, but instead, under the guidance of the Coens, weave a web of chance encounter and suspense, that holds us rapt throughout.

The Coens paint a bleak, harsh landscape, of a country that has no regard for our expectations of justice, decency, or even self-determination. Scene by scene they tease out a nervous humour and a thoroughly unconventional narrative, combining it with as masterful direction and cinematography as you'd come to expect from the duo, until regardless of how happy you feel about it, you can't doubt you're watching something truly remarkable.

Chris Leo @ The Maze, Nottingham, 07-03-08

This fellow was really great, excellent lyrics, engaging songwriting. If you can wade through a lot of reading, you can find out more about Chris Leo, probably starting here.

29 February, 2008


This is so brilliant. These things are sometimes kind of dumb, but in this case it's hilarious and so well executed:

I could really go for watching American Psycho again sometime soon. And maybe a re-read as it's one of my favourite books.

(Found via Alex A on facebook!)

28 February, 2008

I'm calling to procure a hasty abortion...

As films go, Juno is an odd beast. For me at least. Because I approve of Jason Reitman, having laughed uproariously at Thank-You for Smoking. Meanwhile, J.K Simmons was almost the best thing in that film. Ellen Page is clearly a talent, and add the homeliness of having Arrested Development stars kicking around, there's not much to dislike, surely?

And I enjoyed parts of it, sure enough. I laughed a few times, if only inwardly. It's a well-made film, and very much in the vein of the Alexander Payne/Wes Anderson school, unconventional, but not unwelcoming. Cosy comedy that can get away with a bit of sentimentality.

But that's the whole problem for Juno; a film that casts itself as so desperately counter-culture can't survive buckets of lovey-dovey montage ("obvious" music usage was a major irritant throughout) and a complete mire of emotional clichés. Which, sure enough, is what we end up with.

I was turned off in the first twenty minutes by the fact that EVERYONE appears to quip. Hearing "honest to blog?" uttered is bad enough, but that's comparatively just a minor crime. Some lines led me to hair-tearing. The Oscar-winning script, and its writer, are surely enough receiving plenty of attention, and much of that is negative.

It's hard to say why Diablo Cody is receiving such criticism now. It's arguable that jealousy comes into it. After all, if her film hadn't grossed $150mil at the box office, we'd probably be OK with it, right? But while her supporters claim she's simply paying the price for sticking out from the crowd, I'd submit that while that may be the case, no film script should draw so much attention from the rest of the movie. Or make me retch so much, for that matter.

Cody's script was wonderfully parodied in Bob Mackey's SomethingAwful.com article, which is getting circulation. I'd have to confess that while I was far from sold on first viewing, seeing that truly drove a stake through the heart of Juno, for me.

26 February, 2008

Papier Tigre, Nottingham, 1st February

Finally gonna get a few choice snapshots up here. Nantes' stunning indie-rock trio Papier Tigre visited Nottingham at the beginning of the month. Yet another great band highsoc's been involved with this year, I felt proud. Although I'd put very little actual effort in myself, it has to be said.

Find out more about these guys (they're dead good like) and others through Collectif Effervescence.

In The Time We've Got

Just stumbled across the video for one of my favourite recent songs. Enough to get me interested in boxing:

Hrishikesh Hirway's project, The One AM Radio, blends wonderful, delicate songwriting with shimmering instrumental arrangements and passages you can really lose yourself in.

If that wasn't enough, through video and packaging and images it's all topped off with a delightful visual aesthetic. Well!

I'm still desperately in love with the album, This Too Will Pass, and it's been months, literally. I need to check out his other albums.

24 February, 2008

Band Entropy

A word to the wise. If you form a successful band, you're going to want your picture to be everywhere. Pick a name that's striking and individual enough that google image search will send your cheery faces straight to the screen of every office-chair journalist and wannabe NME-hound out there.

A pity I publish this piece of advice a little too late for Islands, because when I look for pictures of the band, I have to trawl through to page 8 for their first, out of date, pic. This expansive indie-rock group almost inevitably hail from Montreal, and as they finish touring Europe during the remainder of this month they'll be dragging behind them good times, a rocking stage-show, a few cracking tunes from hit album Return to the Sea, and already-dedicated fans.

I was fortunate enough to catch them at Stealth versus Rescued tonight. It was an extremely accomplished show, and sounded as good as the Stealth soundsystem ever has. With two guitars, a bass, two violins and occasionally a keyboard, I'm surprised the whole thing didn't explode under the strain.

The strings and guitars give plenty to watch, and even the impression of two frontmen. The songs from the first album sound great, even the rap-less "Where There's A Will There's A Wishbone". "Rough Gem" didn't materialise, but with all those other hits still glistening, they got by.

They deserved better than the terrible PA system, and a slightly lacklustre crowd, but such is the way with SvR, what with half the people getting in free anyway. I'll look forward to seeing them, the sooner the better, somewhere they can really do themselves justice. That I was so impressed really is a testament to their vigour and ability onstage.

Even better news, the new tracks seem to bode well for the new album, Arm's Way, which is due April 21st. Fingers crossed and ears peeled.

15 February, 2008

Some Sort of Revelation

Valentine's day not such a big issue. I am, however missing home. And Sasha in particular:

Took a lot of effort that evening, trying to get her still enough and to look at the camera. Worth it.

Been listening to a lot of Pseudosix and Death Cab for Cutie while working late. Thanks for stopping by. I've not really launched this blog properly yet, I'm too busy. But I'd love to know why you ended up here, so do drop a comment.

02 February, 2008

When the Sun Sets the Clouds on Fire

As promised there will be photographs:

The whole reason I love train journeys.


This is a new blog, entitled cacophone, because I frequently make awful noises. Let me qualify that statement; "I" refers to Unfire. That is me. It doesn't take a lot of work to find the name society assigns to me on a day-to-day basis, I'm just not typing it here. Not now anyway.

I like taking photos, writing, listening to all sorts of music, playing football, watching sports in general, film and reading books. In time I hope I'll be able to provide information about these so giving them generalised labels now would be pointless and potentially misleading.

The first thing I'm going to do is provide my maiden readers with the lyrics (as far as I can hear them) to the title track of the album "Bayani" by excellent Seattle hip-hop duo Blue Scholars. Consider it a gift. It's possibly my favourite track off the album, which is well worth checking out. And I wouldn't even say that hip-hop is my area of expertise.

Well I couldn't find lyrics for this track anywhere else online, so I'm going to put them here. I think they're mostly right and I really like them:

Turn off your radio, Turn up your stereo

Northwest rock, rock on, What’s the scenario?

Four years ago two students skipped a class

When they crafted an album, Some called it a classic

But we’ve grown past, It was good while it lasted,

Now it’s time to put that education into practice,

Beats, rhymes, rice be the breakfast of champions,

We hold the whole town now,

Together with the plan to hold the mic with compassion

Like Ruby did Malcolm,

Travelled down the coast since we dropped the last album,

That plus one is how long we’ve been war-torn,

It’s the return of the hard-knocking hardcore

From hard rock to hip hop,

The migration of flocks who once mocked what we ride for

It’s side war,

From sidewalks to billboards and stores

Telling all poor people that “the world is yours

But this money is ours, you can get a little back,

You start putting in hours, you can widen the gap”

But you can see it in the towers standing next to the squatters

Who be wandering the city in search of a job offer

The first generation in the US of A to be paid less wages

Than the ones that came before

The wicked waged war in the desert terrain,

24 short bars could have measured the pain

So now I, greet the neighbour daily

He’s on his porch smoking

Overhead thunderclouds move in slow motion

Came across an ocean in hope of some better days

Expatriated citizens of third world decay

Where children translate for their parents say

Get a landscape where the working class can escape

These languages twisted, tongues get unravelled

Can’t understand each other in this modern day Babel (/babble?)

Now we’re trying to get a piece of what the city broke down,

Barely claiming families but quick to claim the town,

Recognise it’s serious but ain’t afraid to clown,

Trained for confrontation there’s no other way around,

These sacred ground desecrators, they try to decimate us,

They hit the ballot like the mayor’s gonna save us,

And it pains me to say this, but pain is what made this,

It’s gonna take more than just rain to change this.

(Just some rain to change this.)