So come on, own up, who the hell was voting UKIP???

So the UK Indepedence Party came third in the Euro Elections, gaining 12 seats on the European Parliment. Who on earth was voting for them? Is it just that people are scared of Europe but don’t see the European parliment as important enough to not waste a protest vote on it? The Greens are also against the european constitution, but also have a series of policies on everything else. UKIP are a pressure group, and a pretty daft one at that.

The ludicrousness of a political party with Robert Kilroy Silk and Joan Collins as it’s public face is to farcical for most comedy writers to have come up with it. Since when did I care what either of those two losers thought about anything? Kilroy only got back into politics because he was sacked for writing racist crap in the papers (he claimed that the Arabs have contributed nothing to world culture at all… huh? Clearly he’s not been listening to Andy Kershaw or Late Junction…). He’s a former labour MP, who went on to present daytime chat shows with people who married their step parents or fell in love with their pets or were bullied for having two heads, his perma-tanned faux-sincere frown fronting the UK equivalent on Springer without the comedy. He’s a moron. And Joan Collins? When did she even last live in the UK? Why is anyone concerned what she might think about anything? She’d be well into the UK getting into NAFTA given that she’s a UK citizen living in the US, but it’d be lunacy for the entire country.

There’s an article in this week’s New Statesman by a former UKIP party activist, who paints a picture of a highly divided party, whose only point of common value was their homophobia. Hey, that’s a great party image…

So they came ahead of the Lib-Dems in the Euro-Elections, which does say a lot about the Euro-Scepticism of the UK population, and also that the Europhiles have a very long way to go in making their case palletable for the general public.

So while the sport obsessed section of the population are getting upset over England’s defeat by France in Euro 2004 last night (very funny it was too – two goals in extra time by the French – that came as a bit of a shock… DOH!), I shall be mourning the stupidity of the UK electorate…

Soundtrack – still me, I’m afraid…

Blessed are the rich…

So Dame Shirley Porter has agreed to pay back 12m of the 40-something million she embezzled from Westminster city council in the homes for votes scandal of the 1980s….

…hang on, AGREED TO??? – she’s guilty of a crime, but she’s bargaining with the courts over how much she should have to pay back?

For those of you either too young or too far away to remember the story, She was iinvolved in a scam that involved selling off council houses in Westminster to people who agreed to vote Tory, thus losing the local council millions and millions in revenue. She’s a multi-millionairess, part of the Tesco dynasty, and is, by all appearances, unrepentant immoral scum. And now she appears to be in negotiations to decide what would be a fair amount to pay back. ‘Obviously she can’t be expected to pay back more than she’s worth’ says some council flunky. Er, why the hell not??? She’s commited a crime, she’s cost a local council millions that then has to be recouped through local taxes etc. (great for a tory, supposedly in favour of lower taxation…), and then fled the country (I gather she now lives in the British Virgin Islands [EDIT – according to the fount of all evil knowledge that is evil harv, she actually lives in Israel…]).

Look, she should be a prison. She’s a criminal. She’s got off lightly because she’s rich, and that’s wrong. Plain and simple. If she’d mugged someone and stolen their handbag to feed her kids she’d be in prison, but mugging and entire London Borough and costing them millions is fine, just pay back what you feel like, love, and we’ll forget about the rest.

So much for there not being a double standard. This case, plus the case of that turd-on-legs Jeffrey Archer being allowed to remain a Lord, despite being convicted of PURJORY AND PERVERTING THE COURSE OF JUSTICE (can their be a much worse crime for someone involved in the nation’s legal process to be found guilty of???), demonstrates that the legal and governmental system really does look differently on rich people who commit crimes from poor people.

Bollocks to the lot of ’em.

Soundtrack – not much of late, though I did just buy the new Sarah McLachlan album, and have listened to the first couple of tracks from that, which sounds very good.

Becoming A Citizen??

So the news today is full of this story about how the first ‘citizenship ceremony’ has taken place today, with people becoming UK citizens by swearing an alliegence to the Queen… Don’t know about you, but if that was a requirement of being a citizen of anywhere, count me out! I won’t sing the national anthem, wouldn’t swear an allegience to any flag or monarch, and find the notion that people wanting to become british citizens have to do so really distasteful. So people who are anti-monarchy on principle aren’t entitled to become british citizens? Or are they just required to lie? Either way, it’s pretty odd.

But it has got me thinking about what it means to be a ‘citizen’ of anywhere. Why do we need any sense of alliegence to a monarch, flag, piece of land or culture? What is the value system that I subscribe to, beyond finding most of what goes on in the world pretty distasteful. I’d find it hard to swear an alliegence to any group that a) contained humans, and b) would let me in… :o)

And why do we need to – surely people are required to agree to obey the law of the land – as they are when visiting. But beyond that, what does citizenship mean over and above that? Why should someone switch their ‘alliegence’ away from their country of birth because their life circumstance means they’ve ended up having to live here?? I mean, If I was born in a war-torn country, I’d want to get the hell out of it, but it wouldn’t neccesarily mean that I didn’t still love it, and that appreciating the generousity of my host country would be enough?

Maybe the key is in the application – to become a british citizen. Can you live in the UK long term without that? I guess so… so where’s the advantage? travelling in and out again…? I dunno, it’s all very strange, but I’m still not happy with swearing alliegences to flags and monarchs, especially given what the monarchs have done through history, and what the flag represents round the world now…

I swear an alliegence to the independent republic of steve, one nation under the influence…

Anyway, gig tonight in Petersfield – looking forward to it. See you there!

Soundtrack – mainly BBC Radio London, but also the recordings with BJ from ‘tother day.

Musical Friends…

…are keeping me happy…

so sang Bruce Cockburn in 1970, and indeed it’s true in my life too.

The latest installment in musical friendship began on Friday when I went to see Lifehouse play at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. What a fantastic band!! I’ve got both their albums, but the live experience is even better, and the new guitarist is amazing. I met Sergio, Rick and Jason a couple of years ago in LA, and have seen Sergio a few times since (he came to one of my gigs in LA), so had to go see them play when they were here. Great to hear them, great to get to hang out here in London rather than in LA this time!

part 2 of musical friends was Julian’s wedding on Saturday – Julian’s a former student of mine from Drumtech, who’s now doing big business on the session scene, and deservedly so, he’s a truly brilliant drummer (he was when I was teaching him too, so I’m not taking any of the credit for that!) – anyway, his wedding was naturally full of musos, lots of whom I hadn’t seen for ages, so it was great not only to see my friend get married, but to catch up with so many old aquaintances. Add to that the full on gospel choir hymns/worship section of the service, and some fantastic food at the reception, and you’ve got a magical day.

part 3 – meeting up for a beer on Sunday afternoon with Steve McEwan and Nick Paton. I’d not met Nick before, but he was in Friends First’ – one of the bands I’ve listened to most in my whole life (their album ‘We See A New Africa’ soundtracked about three years of my life in my mid teens). It was great to meet him, and be able to give some advice on indie promotion to someone whose music has meant so much in my life.

part 4 – Denison Witmer is a singer/songwriter from Philly who played at Greenbelt this year, and was fantastic. We chatted a bit at the festival and swapped CDs, and he was playing in Brixton on Sunday night, so The Cheat and I went down to hear another stunning gig from the man. Also gave me a chance to buy his other CDs, and go for a curry with Denison and The Cheat.

Then today, met one of my occasional students, Nick, for a coffee, and had a marvellous afternoon chatting about life, music, politics and everything in between.

So, music friends have indeed been making me happy, which got me thinking, and I came up with the notion of the Pillow Mountain Records extended family – a list of artists who are good friends, and whose music I endorse wholeheartedly, and will encourage as many people as possible to check out. So anyway, so you don’t have to go rummaging through the PMR site for the list, here are the links for you to peruse. All these peoples are amazing artists, and lovely people worthy of your patronage. – Andre LaFosse
(turntablist guitar) – Peter Murray
(singer/songwriter) – Denison Witmer
(singer/songwriter) – Kerry Getz
(singer/songwriter) – Michael Manring
(solo bassist) – John Lester
(solo bass singer/songwriter!) – Ned Evett
(fretless guitarist) – Trip Wamsley
(solo bassist) – Luca Formentini
(unguitarist) – Calamateur aka Andrew Howie
(singer/songwriter/foundsoundist) – Julie Lee

there you go – check ’em out!

soundtrack – right now, Julie Lee (see above), ‘Made From Scratch’; before that, Denison Witmer (ditto), ‘Safe Away’ & ‘Philadelphia Songs’; The Choir, ‘Wide Eyed Wonder’; Bruce Cockburn, ‘World Of Wonders’; Nik Kershaw, ’15 Minutes’; John Lester, ‘Big Dreams And The Bottom Line’; Joni Mitchell, ‘Travelogue’.

Politics is the new Rock and Roll

Apparently the mighty and wonderful Tony Benn has released an album! It’s a collection of his speeches, with some ambient music behind it. I’m sure it’ll be as marvellous as everything else that Tony puts his hand to – he was on the radio this morning, on Danny Baker’s Show, and was on top form.

anyway, must dash, things to do, write more later!

Eno, He Knows

Brian Eno – long been one of the most important minds in the world of music, has in the last year or so come to prominence as a vital, fresh and insightful political writer and thinker too (no doubt he’s been all those things for decades, but it’s now he’s been given a voice.)

His latest journalistic contribution to the discussions about the way the world is heading is on the guardian website – click here to read it. very good indeed.

also worth investigating is Eno’s project, The Clock Of The Long Now. Fascinating stuff

We need more Enos, in music and politics.

current virus count for today – over 250!! Come on, get it together…

Soundtrack – right now, Whole Wheat Radio, before that, Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’; The Bears, ‘Live’; Dexter Gordon, ‘Ballads’.

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