Saturday, January 10, 2015

Front Porch Step plans to open his own doors

Now, if you want to hear a risible story about a musician investigating potentially dodgy goings-on between celebrities and children, forget Brian Harvey and think instead of Front Porch Step. He's investigating, erm, himself.

Mr Step - or Jake Mcelfresh - has been accused of sniffing round young fans on Tumblr. His reaction to the claims is this:

In response to the claims, Mr. Mcelfresh has said he is suspending his spring tour across the United States, along with dates in Canada and Britain. “I am taking the appropriate time to assess these very serious allegations against me and I am not taking them lightly,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Until I can do that in a complete manner with all the information I have at my disposal, I will not be continuing with any current touring activities for the time being.”
I suppose, given that he has a stage name, he might be able to come out with findings that discovers that it was the other guy what did the bad things.

But let's just take a moment to pause and appreciate the work he's done there - putting out a statement which suggests he might not know if he's been sending sexual messages and photos (and encouraging reciprocity) until he goes through his emails and IMs, while taking some sort of moral high ground over the way he has "all the information" at his disposal. Hey, you guys, suggesting he tried to get 14 year-olds to send him photos - you don't have all the information that Front does. Because you can't access his sent texts file. Classy.

Perhaps it's too early to scoff at Brian Harvey

The news that Brian Harvey has been "carrying out his own investigation into child abuse" has, predictably and understandably, generated a lot of hilarity online. You can see why - a man who once pointed a finger of suspicion at a potato for attempted murder, and who has been behaving somewhat erratically since his career stalled in the early days of the Blair administration. It's full of yuck-yuck potential.

But it's worth remembering that both Stella Creasy and Simon Danczuk think that he's worth listening to - and neither are dupes:

Danczuk has led calls for an inquiry into allegations of abuse, and was put in touch with Harvey by his constituency E17 MP, Stella Creasy.

Danczuk told BuzzFeed News: “It’s the first time I’ve met him. He came across to me as a really thoughtful person. The reason we were meeting up is to discuss some work he’s done around child sex abuse. He was sharing the information that he had gathered.

“He feels quite passionately about protecting children and really wants to make a contribution. We know that showbusiness is an industry that’s had a number of abusers within it.

“He’s providing a number of leads that I’m keen to follow up and that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’m pleased he’s done the work he’s done. We had a good chat. I’d be happy and keen to meet him again.”
By the nature of the their role, MPs are often besieged by - shall we say - overenthusiastic, overimaginative amateurs. If Danczuk is happy to encourage further contact from Harvey, he must think there's something there to be taken seriously.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Tesco blinks

Rather overlooked in the news of Tesco's contractions on many fronts yesterday was the offloading of Blinkbox, its electronic music/books/movies service.

Tesco had bought into Blinkbox during the height of its imperial expansion, on a vague theory that because it flogged CDs and DVDs it should be selling digital equivalents. It started to make a bit more sense when Tesco launched the Hudl tablet, but in the end it's decided that it's a distraction from selling bread and cheese.

New owner is TalkTalk, although it's not yet clear how keen they were on the content business, and how much they just wanted to get their hands on the Tesco phone and broadband customers. (Obviously, they were part of the deal. You can't buy anything related to telecommunications without it coming as part of a bundle.)

Listen with No Rock: XCX/Ora together at, erm, last

I'm not totally convinced that Rita Ora brings anything to a Charli XCX single that wasn't already there, but for what it's worth... here's what happens when they collaborate:

Sia sighs

Sia says she's not surprised that some people have knee-jerked and yelled "paedophilia" after she launched her Shia LeBeouf/Maddie Ziegler wrestling video for Elastic Heart:

I anticipated some 'pedophelia!!!' Cries for this video. All I can say is Maddie and Shia are two of the only actors I felt could play these two warring 'sia' self states. I apologize to those who feel triggered by ‪#‎ElasticHeart‬ My intention was to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody.
Oh, won't someone think of the children?

The required apology - for giving more attention to Shia LeBeouf - is yet to be forthcoming.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Canadian copyright cops apparently less bothered about other people's copyright

Canipre, the dreadfully-named, self-appointed copyright industry authority in Canada, appears to be lifting content for its website without attribution, observes Michael Geist:

Yet what Canipre does not say is that a blog associated with the company may have been engaged in copyright infringement for many months. The blog – – is run by Barry Logan, the company’s Managing Director, Operations (I received an email from Mr. Logan last year that listed the site as his blog address). In addition to posting releases from Canipre and information about the TekSavvy case, the site has posted dozens of full-text articles from media organizations around the world.

For example, last week it posted the full text of a 1200 word article on TV piracy from the Wire Report, an Ottawa-based telecom publication. The article resides behind a paywall limited to subscribers and is listed as “exclusive content.” In fact, reposting full-text articles from other sources is a regular occurrence on the site. Posts in December feature articles from the Huffington Post Canada, Business Insider, and CNET. Earlier posts include full-text articles from the Hollywood Reporter, StreamDaily, Reuters, the Canadian Press, Global News, Vancouver Sun, and the National Post. Some of the posts include articles that strip out reference to the author (Chronicle Herald, CBC) and others include no attribution whatsoever. The site also uses photos from the articles, often without attribution.
Of course, it might be that have got all their paperwork in place and just don't bother to mention it on their website. It's possible. But Canipre do have form for taking material and reusing it without permission. When caught using material without the proper licence last time, Logan suggested it was a good thing because it showed, somehow, that the "system worked". Perhaps he's just trying to prove that again?

Pete Doherty: Still trying too hard

If you'd hoped that his latest spell in rehab might see Pete Doherty move on from sideshows and stunts, the news isn't encouraging:

"I've come up with some good riffs too," he said during an interview conducted at the centre. "Like simple bass lines and I'm trying to get this warlord's daughter to play drums for me but she's off the radar at the moment. So hopefully we'll have some new ideas when Carl next bounds into view in his bandana and leathers."
Yes. You can't just make a sodding tune, can you; it's got to have a sodding "warlord's daughter" involved, hasn't it?

Girl Band banned

Girl Band were meant to be slaying New York next week. Visa problems have put paid to that.

That's US embassy visas; not massive post-Christmas credit card bills.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Dears off the Deers; Deers resigned; now Hinds

Canadian band The Dears have been sending legal threats to Spanish band The Deers. Apparently it's not on to have a homonymic name.

The Deers have, therefore, become Hinds:

this is sadly the most official post we've ever made: we have to change our name.
we mean... they forced us to. we received an email from a canadian lawyer saying that our name created confusion with his band's name. and that name is not even deers (LOL). We tried our best, really, but we have no choice. so..
deers are now...HINDS!! (charannn!!)
And we are still the same people, we are even the same animal!! UNBELIEVABLE! !!
We don't usually ask you guys for anything but PLEASE you'd really make this easier for us if you could share this amazing info.
sorry and thank you, HINDS 8)
PS: pppppfff... we screwed it up with the FB page two weeks ago.. sorry for the confusion haha
see you on tour ☮!!
We like The Dears - but, frankly, sending legal letters to try and protect a name which is just a single dictionary word? There's a new rule of band naming, guys, and it's 'if it would make a bad password, it's going to be a lousy band name'.

Calvin Klein has just turned into your grandma

I think we've all been there, when an older relative hands you a gift they've put a lot of thought into, but which reflects something you liked years ago and you've long since outgrown?

Gee, thanks, Uncle Calvin Klein. Justin Bieber doing underwear ads. Wow... [sotto voce Uncle Calvin must think I'm still twelve. Bless.]

Sidenote #1: According to our back-of-a-Wahaca-seed-packet calculation, Bieber is now 84% indistinguishable from Vanilla ice

Sidenote #2: Very much an object lesson in why adding yet another shit tattoo to your shit tattoos doesn't make the original shit tattoo any better

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

I collect, I reject: Johnny Ramone's guitar

Fancy owning a guitar once owned by Johnny Ramone? One is coming up for auction:

In very good condition, with various nicks and dings to body, and several areas of duct tape residue from Johnny’s guitar strap.
Mmm. Gotta love it when the duct-tape residue is in very good condition.

- This guitar is covered in gunk
- It's okay - that was Johnny's gunk
- Ooh, that adds a hundred dollars to the value right there

Sam Smith: "Don't worry, chums, it's only dolphins being kept in tiny tanks"

Sam Smith has found himself in the middle of a whirlpool after going to SeaWorld in Queensland.

Some of the criticism was, to be fair, misplaced, as people had assumed that he Australian theme park was connected to the American business which keeps orcas in tiny boxes for the entertainment of the paying public.

Sam issued a statement to reassure everyone:

Seaworld Australia and Seaworld America are two very different things. Please remember this guys x
So, that's alright, then, yes?

Well... no.

It's true they're not the same business, but they have the same problem, and simply because the Australian business doesn't have orcas doesn't mean they're alright.

For a start, they keep dolphins in captivity and make them perform for gawking lollygaggers - and that's never an acceptable thing. WDC are unequivocal on this:
Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent animals who want and need to live in complex social groups. In captivity they will usually have been separated from their families, often in cruel hunts and some when they are very young.

Wild whales and dolphins can swim up to 100 miles a day, hunting and playing. In captivity they have very little space and cannot behave naturally. A concrete tank can never replace their ocean home.

Captive whales and dolphins have been trained to perform tricks, day after day, for food as a reward instead of behaving naturally. When not performing, they are often kept in holding tanks smaller than show pools. Confining animals together that may not get on can result in stress and aggression with no possible escape.
Sea World Australia also has polar bears - and ZooCheck isn't impressed with that:
Polar bears have long been known as a species that is especially prone to the development
of abnormal behaviour patterns in captivity. These usually manifest themselves as
stereotypic pacing, head turning and swimming patterns. Stereotypies are prolonged,
repetititve, apparently purposeless behaviours that do not occur in the wild. They are
usually associated with substandard conditions and poor welfare.

Even zoos with the largest budgets have difficulty keeping polar bears free of stereotypic
behaviours. Sea World San Diego has not been able to stop the development of stereotypies in their polar bears despite spending millions of dollars on their polar bear
exhibit. Sea World Gold Coast Australia has had the same experience.

The Calgary Zoo in
Alberta and the Central Park Wildlife Centre in New York have put polar bears on prozac
to reduce abnormal behaviour patterns.
So, yes, Sam Smith. It's a very different thing, except in the ways that matter.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Countryobit: Little Jimmy Dickens

Little Jimmy Dickens, novelty country singer, has died.

His act was pretty much based on being four foot eleven; but it was an act that served him well - he had his first country hit in 1949, and was still working just before Christmas with a Grand Old Opry performance.

Jimmy Dickens was 94; he died January 2nd following a cardiac arrest.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Madonna finds a way to make her terrorism comments worse

For Madonna, it's not enough merely to compare the leaking of so-so music a little early as terrorism; oh no, she's gone a step further:

Madonna is defending herself against criticism after she posted Instagram photos of Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela that were altered to look like her own image on her new album.

Madonna’s cover for the album Rebel Heart is a closeup of her face with black string on it. Her social media posts show the faces of King and Mandela doctored to make it appear as though they have similar string on their faces. Some considered the posts offensive.
That's right, she's taken an image of a man who was assassinated, and another who spent decades in prison for his political beliefs, drawn on their faces, and is using to promote her "terrorism-victimised" record.

(That's leaving aside Mandela having actually committed what the State saw as a genuine acts of terrorism - proper terrorism, like blowing things up, rather than merely taping a few songs off the radio.)
“When I repost these images i am saying YES! These people are all Rebel Hearts in one way or another from Martin Luther King to Jesus to Nelson Mandela to John Lennon. YES! Lets [sic] celebrate them! The world needs more people like them. I hope to one day accomplish. 1 100th of what these Rebel Hearts have accomplished.

“As I Said in a previous post “I walk in the footsteps of Giants” and i will continue to do so G*D willing. They are my guiding light. #rebelheart #livingforlove.”
Now, obviously including John Lennon on the list is delightful in its own way - bracketing 'man who sat in a mansion writing songs about not having anything' with Martin Luther King makes it clear this is 'history' of the sort that Nike does sometimes to sell its plimsolls; that Madonna would include a man who was killed by a fan makes her overwrought wailing about victimisation ever more ridiculous.