The Midday Meal

A repository for the various things i consume in the course of daily existence

Monday, January 31, 2005

Deja Vu? Actually not quite...

I think that Michael Howard has been looking far and wide for ideas to help him in his troublesome task of knocking Tony Blair out of 10 Downing Street. His search has discovered another conservative party leader named Howard, who has won four elections on the trot.

He thinks, with the help of his Australian campaign manager, that he's discovered a trick he can use. Last week Michael thought it was a good idea to copy John and attack refugees and immigrants. This tactic doesn't appear to have won the support for Michael that it did so effectively for John in 2001. Only some 7% of swinging Labour voters said that they'd change their vote on the back of Howard's immigration policy while 20% said that they would not be more likely to stay with labour as a result of the policy.

Sure the circumstances are different, John's reffos were in a boat just off the coast, and he didn't need to win Govt, just to hold it. But it might just say a little something about us too. We (collectively) brought the bull, just as we did again in October.

The again it could just be the nature of British politics, after all the Labour Party has been getting into trouble over its use of bad English. And it seems that Tony Blair is prepared to match his Tory counterpart on the feeding on the fears of the ignorant anyway. Indeed the proposed Britishness test stinks of a similar kind of test we employed for the moajority of this century.

It appears that Tony is (as most of the world suspected) a pretty cynical politician, and like most of them is not above taking some fairly dodgy stands to ensure more votes. The sad thing is that these parties have obviously done some serious calculating of number and have determined that the number of votes you will win by putting out anti-immigration policies will be significantly larger than the number of votes such policies may cost.

This is not to argue that both countries are racist, its simply a matter of priorities, peoples votes will mostly be driven by self interest. I think that the majority of people in both countries do not feel threatened by immigration and the impact people from other cultures have on their societies. Unfortunately when determining who to vote for the reasonable people put issues like immigration relatively lower in the list of priorities behind things like taxes, interest rates, health and security concerns. For the people who are threatened by the issues around immigration their concerns fit into the heirarchy of voting determinates at a higher level.

I would suspect that votes gained from anti immigration policies will not determine elections (they really didn't here in 2001) and the tories will not get much of a boost from appealing to such voters, but taking such a stance can help the stronger party whose base of votes is determined by the higher order personal impact issues such as those listed earlier.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Songs 12 & 13 Primal Scream - Come Together/Primal Scream - Swastika Eyes (Chemical Brothers Remix)

This is a beautiful day It is a new day We are together, we are unified And all for the cause Because together we got power Apart we got power Your soul don’t burn You dark the sun you Rain down fire on everyone Scabs, police, government thieves Venal psychic amputees Parasitic you’re syphilitic I know I am cheating a little bit, but I need to catch up with everyone else who are well into the mid teens. Primal Scream jumped on the baggy house bandwagon with their 1990 Screamadelica album, ten years later they delivered the angriest album ever. 2000’s Xtrmntr is a spiky, bass fuelled ball of rage, seething with bile and overt violence, but it is still so very danceable.

Come Together was written at the beginning of the Summer of Love when the Rave scene in the UK was still truly a counter cultural movement. As such it is infused with the naivety of much of the music created at the beginning of the 60’s counter cultural explosion, the previous summer of love… Come Together is huge, it is 10 minutes of dance hooks and gospel choruses. It’s a joyous experience, a celebration of the power of music and as clichéd and naïve as it is possible to get. It was fuelled through the overly positive vibes created by the initial ecstasy honeymoon of an entire generation.

I came to Primal Scream and Come Together through a different rout. It was the early nineties, and I, like most people I knew, was a bit of a rock pig. I was quite a big fan of the Black Crowes. In 1994 Primal Scream put out Give Out But Don’t Give Up, which featured the single Rocks. Rocks did exactly that, which lead a number of my more financially solvent friends to invest in the album. Not wanting to miss out I went record shopping and found screamadelica in the store for a significant amount less than the new album.

In hindsight that absolute bargain should probably have been a message that price is never the true indicator of quality, but we do not need to recount my financial mistakes and foolishnesses here. Suffice it to say I have probably listened to Screamadelica more that almost any other album I brought in the nineties. Although it preceded my infatuation with electronic and dance music by a good half dozen years, it the first album which I owned that started to take advantage of the hooks and loops and the technology of dance music. It opened my eyes to a whole lot of music I had ignored before.

The other reason why I still listen to screamadelica and primal scream is their ability to maintain their relevance. Like the rest of the rave world Primal Scream got over the ecstasy honeymoon and realised that just because you were great mates at 3am and you felt that all sorts of problems could be solved if only everyone was doing this, reality soon came back to you and it wasn’t necessarily a very pretty picture when it did. Primal Scream spent the ten years between Screamadelica and Xtrmntr growing up and waking up.

Swastika Eye’s is their reaction to that wake up, to the realisation that however positive the foundations that lay at the bottom of the rave culture and it’s progeny that they had been co-opted and commoditised by the very thing they were trying to get away from, just as had happened with punk music 20 years earlier. This quite clearly pissed the boys in the Scream off and they decided they wanted to tell us all about it. They recruited heavily from the detrious of the 90s indie/rave revolution to put together a quasi supergroup to try to record the angriest album in the world ever.

I don’t think you can say whether they achieved this or not, but what they did produce was a ball of compacted rage, vitriol, and disco funk. Much of dance music is themeless, due I guess to the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of lyrical content in your average house tune, nor is there much scope for it. However on Swastika Eyes what Bobbie Gillespie lacks in poetic lyricism he more than makes up for in passion… screaming, swearing spitting passion…

The wedding of the blissfull hedonism of disco music with the (sometimes incoherent) rage of punk is pulled of with the help of the flotsam and jetsam of some of the eighties and nineties greatest, the Primal Scream of 2000 featured former members of the Jesus and Mary Chain, The Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine, and further recruited from New Order and the Chemical Brothers to put this monster together.

I guess the reason Swastika Eyes is here is because it fits with my belief, one which has been validated by experience but frequently ingnored as well, that you can keep an eye on the important things but still find time to enjoy yourself, and every so often you can do both.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Happy New Year

And it really was, a few weeks away from the grind was just what the doctor ordered... I haven't felt more relaxed and refreshed for quite a long time and I am hoping I can carry this new energy through the new year and not get bogged down by the petty stresses this year like last year seemed to be full of.

I'll just give a list of the things that I found helpful in the wind down of the last few weeks of 04 and the smooth intro to 05:

the three night festivities of christmas thanks to the brief visits of different extended family...

lot 33 delivering the goods again on xmas eve with tayo and blim and the trashy chick who hooked into four different guys on the dancefloor in three hours, and watching little herscy dancing with the wall to avoid being number 5...

bbq roast lamb, marmalade and maple syrup glazed ham, bbq calimari...

an afternoon wasted playing fable on the xbox on the comfiest couch in christendom...

cricket, cricket, cricket...

listening to darren emerson and tim deluxe trying to out do each other on new years eve... "you've got a remix of seven nation army, well I'll raise you a born slippy... I'll see that with a blue monday and raise you a smells like teen spirit..."

walking out of that party to watch the sun rise over Bondi beach...

waiting three hours for the rain to stop and play to start, and then 45 minutes for Gilchrist to go from 21 to the most entertaining ton on the third day of the sydney test... (not so exciting is watching punter crawl towards 200, but still good to see him get there)

feeding lions and tigers and bears, Oh My!

reading books...

more cricket...

afternoons, evenings and occasionally mornings spent sharing drinks with friends...

watching movies on the couch in the afternoon...

little britain...

beer, vodka, scotch, gin, beer...

the killers, the streets, laurant garnier, black rebel motorcycle club, tayo, the darkness covering radiohead's street spirit...

24 hour party people

I'd like to thank all the friends, djs, randoms, professional atheletes, movie directors and video store clerks, waiters and waitresses who made it all possible.