Wednesday, April 01, 2015

When bodyguards are collateral damage

You know who's really lost out with Zayn leaving One Direction?

Okay, yes, apart from retailers who now have piles of Zayn dolls they're going to have to mark down.

It's his former bodyguard:

It's interesting that Malik's management appear to have concluded that once he's no longer in the band, the risks that used to haunt his every step evaporate. There's a duty of care question hidden behind those two tweets.

Joni Mitchell is in hospital

There's some grim news this morning from Joni Mitchell's official website:

Joni was found unconscious in her home this afternoon. She regained consciousness on the ambulance ride to an L.A. area hospital. She is currently in intensive care undergoing tests and is awake and in good spirits. More updates to come as we hear them. Light a candle and sing a song, let's all send good wishes her way.
There was a brief update later on:
Joni has been hospitalized. We are awaiting official word on her condition and will post it here as soon as we know.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tidal: Artists unite to launch doomed streaming service

A bunch of rich people have come together to launch a video music streaming service:

Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Jay Z, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher – rubbed elbows onstage at the swanky launch event while two others beamed in digitally (Calvin Harris and Coldplay's Chris Martin). Aside from making a spectacle, the musicians made the case for an artist-owned streaming service.
Fun fact: besides being millionaires, most of those people also used to make records at some point.

An artist-owned streaming service isn't a bad idea, it's just that one which is owned by rich, dominant artists isn't really going to do much for the 99% of musicians who don't have to worry about which house they left their other wallet in.

Naturally, the whole thing is being ridiculously oversold:
"We come together before you on this day...with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be a moment that will forever change the course of music history," said Keys, the only artist to address the audience, in an exuberant speech. "Our goal is simple: We want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists, and that is our promise to the world."
No, you just want to keep a bigger share of the royalties. The world doesn't need you to promise about this sort of thing.

Keys, of course, has been involved in a big tech launch before, having signed on to be the face of Blackberry shortly before that company introduced its 'rotting turd' range of phones.

I know what you're thinking. Is there a risk this event couldn't be self-agrandising enough?

No, they stepped up on that one:
[Keys] explained that the mission statement of the musicians, who stood patiently listening to the speech, was "to preserve music's importance in our lives." She spoke of artists delivering "exclusive experiences" via the service and ultimately finding a way to "preserve" the industry and the value of music. She also quoted Friedrich Nietzsche: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
Although since the point of Tidal is about restricting the flow of music, and when they speak about 'music's importance' what they really mean is 'the price of music to the listener', arguably they're making Nietzsche's mistake more, not less, likely.

But quoting a philosopher beloved of the Nazis might not have ratcheted up the pomposity to the sort of level we'd expect with Madonna and Jack White involved. Could you push it a little further, guys?
"Today is the day," she repeated before inviting her co-owners to sign what she called a "declaration," though she did not expound on what it said. "This is the beginning of a whole new era," she said before each present musician made his or her way over to a podium to sign a document.
Oh, yes. Signing a declaration. Because it's historical, right? That'd do it.

Unfortunately, video of the event wasn't put on YouTube so nobody really noticed this happening.

Labelobit: Miriam Bienstock

Miriam Bienstock, one of the co-founders of Atlantic Records, has died.

In the early days of the label, Ahmet Ertegun scouted talent; Bienstock's then-husband Herb Abramson looked after the recording. Miriam did everything else, as the New York Times explains:

“I must tell you, Miriam was an important person in keeping discipline at Atlantic Records, and keeping everything on the up-and-up,” Mr. Ertegun, who died in 2006, said in an interview with Billboard magazine in 1997. “She ran the office, and none of us was inclined to run the office. She is unheralded, unrecognized, but if we hadn’t had her in those developing years, the company would have folded. She also had very good taste in music.”
Bienstock sold out of Atlantic in 1964; before the label was absorbed by Warners. Before this, she'd divorced Herb and remarried Freddy Bienstock. Post-Atlantic, she turned her attention to theatre and investing.

Miriam Bienstock was 92; she died March 21st in Manhattan.

Wilco nix Indiana

Following Indiana's decision to legalise homophobia providing you can pretend it's because of your conscience, Wilco have pulled their Indianapolis gig:

Monday, March 30, 2015

How the music industry cares for its people

It's worth taking a few minutes to read The Observer piece on Brian Harvey and mental health in the music industry, even although it's not an easy read:

Harvey also talks about how difficult he finds life at Christmas. East 17’s biggest hit was Stay Another Day, which continues to be played heavily during the festive period to this day.

Harvey, who does not receive any royalties for the song, says: “We sold 18 million records and the frustrating thing for me is that I have to sit there every Christmas and listen to myself while I don’t even have the money for a Christmas dinner.

“I am sitting here eating a cold chicken burger on Christmas Day. You have got this number one record … I am just rattling around in a cold house with no food, on my own, with my record being played – but you are just a no one.”
Naturally, the people who are busy raking off all the cash and their representatives are quick to stress that they're doing things:
In a statement, the BPI said: “Mental health problems sadly affect people in all walks of life, including those in the creative community. Fortunately, there is greater awareness of what can be done to help now, and one area we are looking to develop is our work with Help Musicians UK – a wonderful charity that reaches out to artists in need of support across a range of issues, including mental health.”
In other words: "Hey, look, it's not just musicians who get depression, you know, so... anyway, there's a charity."

The Observer's Daniel Boffey deftly deflated this:
The British Phonographic Industry, which represents the UK music industry, said it supported a mental health charity called Help Musicians UK, although not financially.
Let's just repeat that:
although not financially
It's not clear exactly what the support the music industry is providing for the charity; its main contribution seems to be providing lots of cases for them to work through.

Not financially. All the BPI companies exist to do is make money, and they're not even prepared to open the chest to help clear up their mess.

Norman Greenbaum injured

Norman Greenbaum - who is so closely linked to Spirit In The Sky his personal website is - has been injured in a motorcycle accident.

He was a passenger in a car involved in a collision with a motorcycle; the bike rider, Ihab Usama Halaweh was killed in the crash.

Greenbaum was taken to hospital where most recent reports say he was in a critical condition.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hello, I'm still Daphne and this is still my friend Celeste

If you think 2015's Glastonbury rock boys over-reacted to Kanye West being on the bill, they seemed the very model of measured restraint compared with the storm of piss hurled at Daphne And Celeste when they appeared at Reading.

Literal piss, in actual bottles. Not just a poorly worded petition. The boys threw piss at them.

Daphne And Celeste weathered that, though. But clearly, they were never going to be a band in it for the long slog. After all, it'd be impossible to imagine how they'd be doing their schtick in 2015, right? When they're grown women. It would be thinkable, but not in any way you could actually make your brain think that thought.

Hang on a moment... what's this?

Yes, somewhat unexpectedly, there's a new record from Daphne and Celeste.

To be honest, it's a new record from Max Tundra, with them on it, but let's not split hairs.

I make it that you don't really get the value of it being D&C until the 2 minutes 50 point; up until then it's like someone who used to be really good at Pac Man when they were in High School trying to play a computer game for the first time since. They know they can do this, but they're too busy trying to remember why they used to enjoy it, they're not really managing to get to grips with the task in front of them.

I don't think our lives would have been any the worse if this hadn't happened, but I'm sort of mostly pleased it has.

Really, though, I'd like to see them go on at Worthy Farm right before Kanye. Or possibly instead of.

[h/t to @hungryhatter]

Embed and breakfast man: Cats And Cats And Cats

More cats, because... sometimes you're writing about Rihanna and kittens, and you start to wonder whatever happened to Cats And Cats And Cats?

You can pick up Cats And Cats And Cats' Catsalogue LP for just two quid over on Bandcamp

We know what you're doing, Rihanna

Really, Ri-Ri?:

According to an interview [she] did with Buzzfeed, where they played a game of Never Have I Ever, Rihanna revealed that she’s a huge fan of the baby animals and has been since she was a little girl.

She said, “I used to save these kittens — we had stray kittens in the street but they weren’t really stray, they belonged to a home they were just never at that home. So they were just like community cats kind of, and they would go in the gutters to have their babies and I would hear them crying, go rescue them, give them a little shower with my hair conditioner, keep ‘em in a bucket, feed them.”
We know what you're doing, Rihanna. It's like when Madonna started to hang out with Vanilla Ice. Trying to keep up with the next wave of artists, right?
There's only one Pop Kitten Queen, Rihanna, and the THRONE IS NOT EMPTY.

This week just gone

The most-read March stories:

1. Pop Papers: Another Gallagher cover
2. Whatever happened to Conor McNicholas?
3. Gaye family wins rights to credit on dreadful song
4. Eurovision entry as shockingly depressing as you'd expect
5. Weak Peppa Pig joke condemns entire radio station
6. Why are there no women at the Reading Festival?
7. Garbage: Queer all the way through
8. The Independent thinks that Britney Spears wrote a meme
9. Kanye West is going to Glastonbury
10. The Great Escape: Festivals can have women play, it turns out

This week's interesting releases:

Lonelady - Hinterland

Download Hinterland

Robin Guthrie & Mark Gardener - Universal Road

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think...

Download Sometimes I Sit And Think...

Errors - Lease Of Life

Download Lease Of Life

Laura Marling - Short Movie

Download Short Movie

The The - Hyena

Download Hyena

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Willie Nelson: very much the Paul Newman of his market segment

Willie Nelson Is Planning His Own Brand Of Weed And Shops Named 'Willie's Reserve'
Of course he is. Of course.

Friday, March 27, 2015

New music from a long-silent source

This is probably one for the old people. Remember when Ministry wasn't the Jesus Built My Hotrod Ministry, and was the I Wanted To Tell Her new wave band?

They're back.

Well, no, they're not. But the question 'I wonder if Al Jourgensen would rather that the world forgot about the synthpop years' has been soundly answered. It's 'no, he's not ashamed of those years', as for Record Store Day the archives have been opened, and this is out for the first time:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

T in the wrong park

The Woodland Trust is calling for T in the Park to be moved somewhere where it'll do less damage:

You might remember we recently raised concerns about T in the Park's new venue at the Strathallan Estate. The area is surrounded by old, rich woodland used by many protected species including bats, otters, red squirrels and ospreys.

T in the Park is Scotland’s biggest music festival, attracting 85,000 people every year. The festival brings employment and trade but with so many ancient woodlands under threat in the UK we need to be more mindful of the impact events like this have.

Logistics, noise, light, litter and general disturbance would drive many rare species away from the woodland because the event's main arena would be just metres away.

We know DF Concerts can move the festival away from Strathallan Estate: it was just one of 14 potential venues identified by the council!

We need your help now to make them realise that it is an unsuitable area for an event of T in the Park’s magnitude to be held - the impact on precious wildlife is simply too damaging.

There's a petiton, as you might expect.

Oh, and if you're thinking "well, T in the Park is a responsible sort of event, I'm sure they wouldn't do anything dodgy that would harm wildlife, you're wrong. They're actually arseholes who are deliberately setting out to frighten birds away:
An attempt by T in the Park bosses to discourage ospreys from returning to their nest at the festival's new Strathallan home has been criticised by a leading wildlife charity.

T in the Park promoters DF Concerts are flying a Saltire from on top of a cherry picker festooned with CDs in a bid to deter ospreys from returning to their nest at Strathallan Castle Estate.

Two ospreys have regularly used the nest but its proximity to the main stage at T in the Park means organisers want them to move to a new nest site further away.

There's a response to Zayn Malik quitting you didn't expect

You might have thought what with the struggle Universal Credit is proving to roll out, the Department of Work And Pensions might have been too busy to pass comment on boyband splits.

You'd be wrong:

I think Zayn should heed this tweet. Given the way the DWP slap sanctions on people at the merest opportunity, ignoring that Tweet will probably leave Zayn unable to draw down his pension in the future.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

David Crosby hits jogger

David Crosby has hit a man. Unfortunately, Crosby was in a car driving at 55 miles an hour, and the man he hit was a jogger.

Crosby's people have issued a statement:

“David Crosby is obviously very upset that he accidentally hit anyone. And, based off of initial reports, he is relieved that the injuries to the gentleman were not life threatening,” his rep tells Us Weekly in a statement. “He wishes the jogger a very speedy recovery.”

"Mr. Crosby was cooperative with authorities and he was not impaired or intoxicated in any way. Mr. Crosby did not see the jogger because of the sun," California Highway Patrol Spokesman Don Clotworthy told CNN.
So, it sounds like a terrible accident, and that Crosby is pretty shaken by it.

Indeed, the police seem to be happy to put most of the blame on the victim:
Clotworthy also stated that the jogger was on the same side of the road as Crosby. Pedestrians, including joggers, are supposed to be on the left side of the road going towards traffic.
Although in this case, the traffic was clearly going towards the jogger.

Realityobit: Lil Chris

Sad to hear that Chris Hardman, who became known for a while as Lil' Chris, has died.

Chris was the breakout star of Channel 4's Rock School reality series. The format saw Gene Simmons attempting to turn a group of Lowestoft schoolkids into pop stars; he nearly pulled it off with Chris.

He managed to make the most of his time in the spotlight - hosting a strand of celebrity features as part of the now-defunct T4 programming on Channel 4; releasing a couple of albums, and a few singles.

But a first album, pointed at the 2006 Christmas market, only scraped through to 54; a follow-up took two years, and stalled at 94.

As Chris got older, the work started to dry up; he had a spell in musicals and then had a crack at Christmas Number One in 2013 with Christmas Number One (#FeedEmYellowSnow). As you might expect from a single with a hashtag in the title, it didn't worry the charts.

Lil' Chris was 24; Police in Suffolk say his death was not suspicious.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Inkwell doesn't like 6Music

Earlier today, 6Music was having a bit of gentle fun:

Okay, it's hardly Danny Baker Morning Edition level stuff, but it's fun if you like that sort of thing. (Not as much fun as listening to Michael Fallon twisting in the wind, spewing out reasons why we shouldn't ask about Cameron's bollock-drop last night like a shiny pinata, of course, but people make their choices.)

Oddly, this turned out to be a red line for York's Inwell vinyl and book store:

One tweet from one show, and the whole place - from Marc Riley's session support for new bands through to Stuart Maconie's Freakshow - is dismissed as "a sniggery, wrong-headed indie-kid" type of place.

I'm not a fan of breakfasts on 6 myself, but would rather have a bit of knock-about fun than a po-faced 'music is a temple and must always be treated with quiet respect' approach. There's a lot of places on 6Music where you'll be read the sleeve notes from a Lou Reed album; a few shows which try different approaches are going to make the station attractive to a wider number of listeners. Some of whom might go from enjoying some light entertainment over breakfast to buying obscure vinyl some day.

Taylor Swift porn site shows the problem with dot porn

From Taylor Swift's perspective, you can see the justification for her (or her management colossus) lashing out to buy and

Because if she doesn't, someone else will.

When the .porn and .adult top level domains were announced, some voices suggested that these might be problematic as some brands or people might feel they have to buy their own names in the spaces to stop other organisations snapping them up.

And that's what's happened here.

In other words, Taylor Swift has been approached by an organisation and offered the opportunity to hand over thousands of dollars, in order to protect her image.

That's a shakedown, surely?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Songwriterobit: Jackie Trent

Jackie Trent, singer, songwriter, and actress, has died.

It's perhaps a shame that the obituaries are hanging her on the peg as 'the woman who wrote the lyrics for the Neighbours theme song'; it's a fact, sure, but the real-life soap opera played out in her earlier lyrics which reflected her first-affair-with, then-marriage-to, eventually-divorce-from Tony Hatch is far more interesting and artistically accomplished than the plodding, sodding Erinsborough jingle.

As a taste, her website tells the deeper story behind Couldn't Live Without Your Love, a hit for Petula Clark:

I wrote the lyrics in 1966: simply expressing my love and commitment to Tony Hatch – the man I would marry the following year. The lyrics speak for themselves.

Angela Kon’s (unauthorised) biography of Petula Clark: ‘Colour My World,’ page 178, allegedly records conversation of the 1980’s between the author and Tony Hatch: where he speaks of my loving words defining our relationship ‘from my point of view.’ If true, how deceitful and cold-blooded; with 25 years of marriage then ahead of us?

Eve Taylor, my manager did warn me: ‘Don’t marry him. He’ll just use you!’

Mind you, I still love those lyrics...
(Trent's website is well worth a visit; she's generous and open with anecdote, although writes in the overblown showbiz style parodied by Alan Partridge.)

Jackie Trent was 74; she died March 21st in Menorca.

This week just gone

The most-popular 2015 stories so far:

1. Liveblog: The Brits
2. NME puts Gallagher on front page, again
3. Did you wonder what Conor McNicholas is up to these days?
4. Brits 2015 shortlist
5. Thick, Williams pinched the rape song's tune from Marvin Gaye
6. UK picks its brave losers for 2015 Eurovision
7. The Dears force The Deers to become Hinds
8. Sony dumps Omnifone
9. RIP: Steve Strange
10. Mark Feehily has a van selling coffee in lay-bys

These were interesting releases this week:

Laura Walsh - Soft Control

Download Soft Control

Marc Almond - The Velvet Trail

Download The Velvet Trail

Julian Cope - Trip Advizer

Download Trip Advizer

Friday, March 20, 2015

Embed and breakfast man: Garbage

Vow by Garbage. Released twenty years ago this very morning.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Toyota: committed to crowd-sourcing bands and safety. Nowadays.

Earlier today, this tweet appeared:

God, it sounds horrible, doesn't it? It's not just that it's a terrible idea, it doesn't even seem like an especially original idea, being more or less a rehash of 2009's Josh's Band campaign.

So I made a snurkling noise:

I don't mind Toyota, to be honest. Their hybrids are alright, as cars go. But I just wished they'd stick to making cars rather than crowd-sourcing bands.

And I thought that would be it. Except... Toyota weren't having that.

Really, Toyota? You recall voluntarily, out of concern for safety, do you?


Just last year, you were pulling back six and a half million cars around the world after some of them caught fire. Presumably in Toyota's world, selling cars to people to see if they catch fire must constitute rigorous testing.

More to the point, a year ago to the very day, Toyota was making a massive USD1.2bn payment to avoid legal action following its decision to not recall cars where the accelerator could stick, even after ABC News had told it there was a serious problem:
ABC News published dozens of reports in the following months as Toyota said it investigated and announced massive recalls to address the accelerators being stuck under floor mats – repeatedly assuring drivers that the problem had been taken care of. But today Toyota admitted that the recalls did not cover all the cars they knew were in danger and said that they also concealed another cause of sudden acceleration they had found during their investigations – “sticky” pedals, which refers to the accelerator getting stuck partially depressed.

In December 2009, the court records showed the company responded to “media accusations that it was continuing to hide defects in its vehicles” by publishing a statement on Toyota’s website saying the company “has absolutely not minimized public awareness of any defect or issue with respect to its vehicles [and] [a]ny suggestion to the contrary is wrong and borders on irresponsibility.”

Toyota only announced the issue with the “sticky” pedals, along with another massive recall, just minutes before an ABC News report on “World News” in January 2010 told the story of one driver whose Toyota Avalon took off suddenly on the highway.
In fact, Toyota's "rigorous testing" somehow hadn't caught a situation where people could be killed - in fact, one man even spent three years in prison after a Toyota Camry he was driving spun out of control and killed three people.

In short, Toyota, if you want to burnish your image by crowd sourcing a band, feel free. But let's not assume that everyone has forgotten that time you knew your cars were dangerous and you lied about it, eh?

BBC Trust agrees to kill the distinctiveness of Radio 1

Radio 1. What makes it difference from commercial radio, and - come to that - from streaming stuff over Spotify?

It'd be the live music and the sessions. There's something you can point at and say, there's something that proves the value in having a station like that, funded by licence fee.

The BBC Trust agree.

Except, they don't agree enough to protect that part of the service:

BBC Radio 1 is to make dramatic cuts to its live music output, with the number of sessions by pop and rock bands dropping from 250 to 160 per year.

The station will also reduce the number of live events it covers from 25 to 10.

The BBC Trust has agreed to the changes, despite audience research showing "that live music is seen as a key strength of Radio 1".
"Yes, you're very good at what you do. Play some more records instead, eh, that's cheaper."

The BBC Trust is chaired, you'll recall, by Rona Fairhead, who seems to be bringing the same sure touch she shows at her other job at HSBC to the work she's doing at the BBC.

What else is in the Trust findings? Well...

Radio 1 and 1Xtra's roles supporting musicians and djs with career advice is now mainly going to be picked up BBC Introducing - a change which reflects what's been happening anyway;

Radio 1 and 1Xtra will share more documentaries; 1Xtra's requirement for 20% speech programming has been dropped as a result (although the worry is that 'repeating Radio 1 documentaries' isn't the same sort of thing as creating the crafted speech programmes it has been doing.);

1Xtra can now do dj mixes instead of club nights;

Radio 2 will no longer have to do 'readings' as part of its remit, on the grounds that who knew Radio 2 had to do readings?, but it still "should" do readings. That's clear, yeah?

The need for "regular" comedy programmes on Radio 2 has been watered down to just "comedy programmes";

6Music comes off largely untouched, although the previous target of "15% of concerts and session from archives" is turned into a more easy to track "Broadcast at least 6,500 concert tracks or sessions from the BBC’s music archive each year, with at least 1,150 in daytime". You might wonder why, if the Trust wants to see 6Music using the BBC Archive so widely, it's just signed off on proposals to limit the size at which that archive grows in the same sodding document;

Radio 3 has to do more jazz;

and less drama;

and Asian Network has to provide at least 24 hours of news and current affairs every week. Not clear if this includes sticking Five Live on overnight.

The worst thing in these new rules is that Radio 1 is going to mostly cutback the sessions and live music out of the mainstream; it's a double blow to distinctiveness.

Venuewatch: The Roadhouse

Manchester Roadhouse, one of those venues which is part toilet, part legend, is closing at the end of May.

It seems that the competition for the bands-on-the-cusp market has got too intense, and the Roadhouse is a casualty of the overcrowded market.

Britney Spears: Independent seems a little lost in the modern world

The Independent is very excited indeed by Britney Spears:

To many women, being called a "bitch", particularly by a man, is derogatory.

And there are equally as many reasons for why the term is perceived to be offensive as there are women offended by it.
Not so for Britney Spears, a pop singer who’s reiterated the word so often over the course of her career, it’s bizarrely formed part of her catchphrase ("It's Britney, bitch).

So, in a strange twist of neo-feminist fate, she’s decided to fully reclaim it with a definition of her own.

“Being a bitch means… I stand up for myself and my beliefs,” she wrote in a post on Instagram. “I stand up for those I love, I speak my mind, think my own thoughts or do things my way.
She wrote this, did she, Jenn Selby of The Independent?

Do you understand how memes work, exactly?

Sure, Britney posted the "Bitchology poem" to her Instagram account. And, yes, you might see that an embracing its viewpoint.

But it's clearly just a jpeg, and about one tenth of second with Google Image search confirms this is a "poem" which has been doing the rounds of the internet since before Grumpy Cat was a kitten.

You wonder if when Jenn sees those "funny" ecards on Facebook that she assumes the person who is posting them wrote the things: "Hey, I never knew my great aunt Margaret was such an amusing and inspirational thinker on questions of motherhood and religion. And how did she come up with that test to see if you can read all those words jumbled up? She's an undiscovered genius."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Freeobit: Andy Fraser

Andy Fraser, bassist with Free, has died.

There's an official statement:

Andrew McLan Fraser passed away on Monday at his home in California. He leaves behind his daughters Hannah and Jasmine Fraser, and their mother Ri, his sister Gail, brothers Gavin and Alex, and many friends and associates in the industry.

“A survivor of both cancer and AIDS, Andy was a strong social activist and defender of individual human rights.
Fraser was diagnosed HIV+ in the 1980s; his illness with Sarcoma followed soon after.

On his personal website, Fraser wrote frankly about his struggle with his sexuality. Conflicted between feelings and image, he went as far as planning a suicide - talking with a reporter who had helped her terminally ill mother die; arranging how he'd do it; putting his affairs in order. Amazingly, it was the detailed planning of his death that helped him past it:
[I planned] until, in my mind, the event had already happened, and I thought 'what the bloody hell did that solve?' Nothing. So finally, I had to come around to acceptance.
Fraser didn't find coming out easy; being wracked with pain didn't help, either. He says he had to find new reasons not to kill himself every day for three years. But he got through it, finally finding a place where, in his words, he could say:
fuck you, everybody; I'm not hiding any more

A lot of his obituaries will record his victories over cancer and AIDS. His survival as a gay man in an era when that brought a mountain of struggles, and over suicidal depression, should also be celebrated.

Fraser was 62. He co-wrote a song that actually lives up to the accolade iconic:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Glastonbury 2015: Kanye believe it?

There's been a predictable squeal of disrupted lives following the announcement that Kanye West is going to headline Glastonbury on Saturday night:

A petition has also been launched to prevent West from performing at the festival.

The petition [is] titled 'Cancel Kanye West's headline slot and get a rock band'
There's no way, just for clarity, that "rock band" is being used as shorthand for "a group of white men". That's not the intention at all. No. Not at all.

Thing is, there are good reasons for asking if Kanye is right for Glastonbury - but the objections are exactly the same as the objections to U2 headlining Glastonbury. An act well past their best before date being promoted beyond their due. And even those objections... well, you have to remember that when people say things like this...:
We spend hundreds of pounds to attend glasto, and by doing so, expect a certain level of entertainment.
... part of the reason you're paying so much money is because it's a massive festival, and there's about sixty thousand other stages to go and watch. Seriously, if you're paying that much money to go to a music festival and can't find something headlining one of the stages to enjoy, why are you paying hundreds of pounds to go to a music festival in the first place?

(With U2, there was a broader question about whether a festival that still had some pretence at being counterculturally aware ought to be booking acts who shuffle their cash off to lower tax regimes, which is a fair question. Kanye isn't a rock band isn't even a question.)

You paid your taxes. Do you want a prize? Oh, okay then.

YoonA, K-Pop star, has been given a special prize from her government:

And now . . . she is the recipient of a presidential award from the South Korean government for being a dutiful and honest taxpayer who has made a significant financial contribution to her country. As part of the award she will be an honorary ambassador of Korea’s National Tax Service, helping to promote her fellow citizens’ duty to pay taxes.
In South Korea, you're celebrated for paying your share of tax. In the UK, you get an OBE if you don't.

Why is the mainstream media not reporting this more widely?

Listen you guys, this is massive.

Shane Lynch went shopping in Redhill.

I know - where was Huw Edwards? Where was Jon "so-called" Snow? Where was Paxman Dimbleby?


Thank god the Surrey Mirror didn't flinch from reporting THE TRUTH. At some length:

BOYZONE pop band singer Shane Lynch popped into Redhill for some shopping on Monday afternoon - and happily posed for photos with a delighted fan.
Actually, that's the entire story. But... it doesn't stop the Surrey Mirror dragging it out for another fifteen paragraphs, building the drama:
He walked east along the High Steet and as he prepared to cross the road at the traffic lights outside the Tower public house at 2.30pm, a fan appeared from nowhere and plucked up the courage to ask if he was from the top "boy" band Boyzone.
I really hope the fan actually made the air quote symbols when she asked the question.

The story is strung out because the fan's photo failed:
She asked if she could take his photograph and Mr Lynch, totally unfazed, agreed to the request.

At first, the fan had to secure the help of a passer-by to take the picture. But when he clicked her mobile camera, the picture appeared blurred.
Luckily, the Mirror's Mark Davison, community editor, was nearby, and he stepped in to take a non-blurry photo. And write a long piece.

Oddly, the fan is referred to throughout as "the young lady". Perhaps so excited by the presence of "boy" "band" "man", the paper forgot to ask her name.