Wet Pussy

Posted 8 June, 2007 by hartsonsdog
Categories: Humour

Plenty more where this came from

Goatse!

Posted 8 June, 2007 by hartsonsdog
Categories: Humour

Goatse + BBC + London Olympics = comedy GOLD!!!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qtTF8s67P4

The Curse of Steve Irwin

Posted 7 June, 2007 by hartsonsdog
Categories: TV

What is going on with nature documentaries? Gone are the days when watching a wildlife programme was a relaxing, educational experience, as softly-spoken professionals like David Attenborough discreetly ingratiated themselves with families of gorillas – if Attenborough made that same documentary today, the producers would no doubt tell him to wear a baseball cap and run headlong into the gorillas’ home turf yelling “FUCK ME!!! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THESE BASTARDS!!!”

It’s all Steve Irwin’s fault, a man so Australian he made Shane Warne look like Noel Coward. Thanks to Irwin’s gurning, yelling and bull-in-a-china-shop approach to nature, the default setting for nature documentaries is now to be as loud and confrontational as possible.

Worse, it seems documentary producers are only interested in an animal if it is capable of killing all those involved in the making of the film. Bad news for snakes, crocodiles and big cats, who, if National Geographic Channel is anything to go by, now spend much of their time being chased around Africa by whooping, hooting morons; good news for cuddly, harmless species like the sloth or the gerbil, deemed of no interest to the viewer.

This rant was inspired by a NG documentary I saw earlier this week, about poisonous snakes. It ticked all the boxes required by the modern nature documentary. Yelling, inarticulate presenter to cater for modern attention spans? Check. Patronising scorecard for each snake? (POISON FACTOR! KILLING POWER! SCALINESS QUOTIENT!) Check. Complete lack of educational value? Check.

At one point in the film the presenter, a redneck Texan, and a snake ‘expert’ (who seemed to have learned his trade watching Ice Cube in Anaconda), had cornered a black mamba up a tree, said reptile registering his displeasure by hissing at them in time-honoured fashion. “Oh wow, look at him, he’s an aggressive one!” yelled the presenter. Of course he’s fucking aggressive you witless Yank twat – one minute he’s having a nice kip up a tree, the next minute two whooping retards appear and start waving a stick at him! Jeez.

It’s easy to laugh of course but this trend for nature films, and documentaries in general, to aim for the lowest common denominator, is very sad. In the old days, documentaries were presented and narrated by eccentric academics skilled in the fine art of being both accessible and intelligent at the same time. Not any more. And there is now a generation of viewers growing up thinking that the way to approach a dangerous animal is not as quietly as possible, but by running at it yelling like Geronimo.

One doesn’t like to speak ill of the dead and I’m sure Steve Irwin was a great bloke, fair dinkum etc, but his influence on nature broadcasting has been most pernicious. Crikey!

Irwin delivering the 2001 Reith lecture on broadcasting

Will Self on Nick Cave

Posted 4 June, 2007 by hartsonsdog
Categories: Music, Nick Cave

God damn, one of my favourite writers writing about one of my favourite singers. Fantastic stuff from Saturday’s Guardian.

Dark Matter

Nick Cave’s brooding lyrics mark him out not only as a poet of the Australian outback, but as one of the greatest writers on love of our times, argues Will Self

Some 20 years ago, I had a long wrangle with the music writer Barney Hoskyns about the relative virtues of rock lyricists. Barney’s view was (and I hope I’m not traducing him in any way) that simplicity was the key. The structure of pop songs – most of which derive from the holy miscegenation of the English ballad form and the eight-bar blues – the importance to them of melody and their fairly short duration: all of these factors meant that facile rhymes, basic narratives and straightforward sentiments made for the best lyrics.

 In view of this, Barney championed the writing of Smokey Robinson. Indeed, he went further, saying that Robinson was incomparably the best postwar pop lyricist. Perhaps to be contrary – or maybe because I genuinely believed it – I passionately dissented from this view, arguing that a lyricist such as Bob Dylan managed to be at once experimental and deeply poetic, while still packing a perfectly sweet pop punch to the gut.

As I recall, the argument eventually came down to a single couplet from Dylan’s song “Visions of Johanna”: “On the back of the fish truck that loads / While my conscience explodes”. Barney contended that this, in and of itself, meant absolutely nothing at all. Therefore, it could only be viewed either as a self-indulgent verbal riff, or as filler, marking time until the beat cranked up again.

Being forced to analyse the meaning of this trope was, initially, unwelcome. I had no desire either to descend into the nerdish, psycho-biographical slough of the Dylanologists or to ascend to the arid heights of those academics, who have hung on to their tenure by maintaining the view that some songwriters may be considered quite as much “poets” as their unaccompanied counterparts. So far as I’m concerned this approach has always prompted the question: if lyricists are poets, then what are poets? Presumably one-man bands without a band?

Over the past two decades, to my own satisfaction, at least, I’ve come up with not just one viable interpretation of the vexed unloading fish truck, but many. Moreover, I’ve come to an understanding of the nature and purpose of lyrics that satisfies me, while incidentally explaining the collapse of poetry as a popular art form. Nowadays, if we picture the poetic muse at all, it’s as a superannuated folkie, sitting in the corner of the literary lounge bar, holding his ear and yodelling some old bollocks or other. Whatever need we have for the esemplastic unities of sound, meaning and rhythm that were traditionally supplied by spoken verse, we now find it supplied in sung lyrics.

Curiously, it was also Hoskyns, a couple of years before, who nearly effected an introduction between me and a young Australian punk band that he was then in the process of championing. I was hanging out with a mutual friend, lost in the toxic imbroglio of those telescopic times, when the invitation came to head up to Clapham and meet the Birthday Party. We never made it. We never got our £10 party bag.

I was aware of Nick Cave, of course; his incendiary performances – setting fire to the gothic catafalque above pop’s tomb, and writhing as it burned, burned, burned – were a defining part of the same, troubled era. However, I came to the music late. Indeed, I knew Nick himself, socially, long before I immersed myself in his oeuvre. Looking back on that time – the late 1980s and early 1990s – this seems staggering. I’m often reminded of the first line of Woody Allen’s parody of Albert Speer’s disingenuous memoir: “I did not know Hitler was a Nazi, for years I thought he worked for the phone company.”

I may not have thought Nick Cave worked for the phone company, but I had no conception of the extent to which his creative gestalt was shot through by harmony quite as much as semantics. He was an affable, if gaunt, bloke I saw at barbecues with his kids.

Then I read his novel And the Ass Saw the Angel and was exposed, full force, to the great Manichean divide that rives the Cave worldview. Exposed also to his very individual and mythopoeic terrain: a landscape, present in his songs and his prose alike, wherein sex kicks up the dust, murders take place in the heat (of the moment) and the sins of the fathers are visited on everyone. To those unfamiliar with the very particularity of the Australian hinterland – both physical and cultural – the backdrop to many Cave ballads, with their talk of guns, knives, horses and brides, may seem cut from a similar cloth to that of lyricists such as Johnny Cash, Dylan and the blues men and country artists they revere.

Not so. Cave’s mise en scène is as particular to his Australian patrimony as the whorls are to his fingers, or his lexicon is to his idiolect. Here, in rural Victoria, the light is harsher, the flies’ legs are moister and the blood takes longer to coagulate. A persistent atmosphere of the uncanny pervades the world the songster summons up. While immersed in a Cave lyric, it’s easy to believe not only in full temporal simultaneity – the indigenes are hacked to death, even as a football is kicked across the oval – but also that this sepia land marches with ancient Israel itself, both the Pharisees and the Kelly Gang having been clamped by the neck for the time necessary to secure a group portrait.

Cave, as a poetic craftsman, provides all the enjambment, ellipsis and onomatopoeia that anyone could wish for. A word on eroticism and the dreadful dolour of knowing not only that all passion is spent – but also that you’re overdrawn. If Cave were to be typified as a lyricist of blood, guts and angst, it would be a grave mistake. He stands as one of the great writers on love of our era. Each Cave love song is at once perfumed with yearning, and already stinks of the putrefying loss to come. For Cave, consummation is always exactly that.

I must also mention a vein of irony – satire even – that runs through Nick Cave’s lyrics. One of my personal favourites, “God Is in the House”, demonstrates his ability to ironise, then re-ironise, and then re-ironise again, engendering a dizzying vortex as received values are sucked down the pointed plughole. Arguably, such a light heavyweight touch runs counter to Cave’s espousal of the Old Testament verities, yet I prefer to acknowledge it as of a piece: Ecce homo.

So, in the last analysis, it seems that the decades-old wrangle about lyricists was quite as devoid of meaning as the unloading fish truck, for, at that very time, in the existential inner cities of London, Berlin, New York, Paris, there was tapping away a songwriter who was far more than the sum of these parts: the aching heart of Smokey, implanted in the tortured breast of Zimmerman.

Il Communication

Posted 30 May, 2007 by hartsonsdog
Categories: News/Media

Last night I watched a fascinating National Geographic documentary about North Korea. Fascinating not just because it was the only NatGeo show all week not to feature plane crashes, tsunamis or other disasters, but because it gave an interesting insight both into North Korea itself and into how the US views those parts of the world that don’t play by its rules.

The programme featured a Nepalese eye doctor who had been invited by the North Korean government to go to the country and perform operations on 1000 cataract sufferers to restore their sight, whilst simultaneously training local doctors to do the same. The government had also graciously allowed a NatGeo film crew to come along and film the events, on condition they only filmed inside the hospital. So of course they smuggled in hidden cameras to film everywhere else, thus making it more difficult for future humanitarian/medical missions to the country. Great, well done guys.

Much of the commentary conveyed the usual blinkered US worldview, as extreme and fundamentalist as anything issuing from North Korea itself.

“The country has nuclear weapons, and could even USE them, or GIVE THEM TO TERRORISTS!” said the presenter. Yes, and they COULD also paint their arses blue & run around singing Una Paloma Blanca. But they probably won’t.

“They HATE America!” – North Korea is hardly unique in this respect.

“They call us IMPERIALISTS!” – as if this was some sort of insane leftist delusion, rather than a reasonable conclusion formed after observing US post-war foreign policy.

And so on and so forth.

But equally interesting were the insights into life in North Korea itself, admittedly a pretty grim place to live. Its citizens seem to be in constant competition to outdo each other in displays of loyalty to Kim Jong Il – as the presenter, in a rare moment of insight, observed, it no longer matters whether these displays are caused by brainwashing, fear or genuine loyalty, because they are a fact. For example, when asked what was the worst thing about being blind, one old woman replied “Not being able to see Kim Jong Il.” When their bandages were removed and they discovered they had regained their sight, the patients ignored the surgeon and ran straight to the nearest image of Jong Il to thank him and pledge to work harder in the salt mines in his honour etc. It was hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

There was also footage of Kim Il Sung (Jong Il’s dad)’s funeral, streets lined with weeping hysterical mourners. Not entirely dissimilar to the lines of quivering morons lining the streets of London back in August 1997, it has to be said.

As for Jong Il, we learned that he has a collection of over 20,000 DVDs, and is the world’s no.1 individual customer of Hennessy Cognac. Obviously all that booze doesn’t affect his golfing prowess, as I learned elsewhere that on his first ever round he came in at -38, having hit a number of holes-in-one.

South Korea, in contrast, was portrayed as an oasis of “freedom”, freedom, as usual for the US, symbolised by capitalism – the freedom to drink Coke, eat at McDonalds, wear Nike and generally be a fat, unthinking consumer. Pyongyang, devoid of street advertising and chain stores, looked like paradise in comparison.

Interesting stuff then. I wouldn’t want to spend any time whatsoever in North Korea and Jong Il is obviously a bit of a sod, but at the same time, his country’s isolation is not some random whim but the result of decades of threatening murmurs from the South and its powerful ally. Omit this context from any documentary about the country (and as we saw post-11/9, the US media doesn’t do context) and you don’t educate, you merely fuel hatred & mistrust.

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One of the funniest vids on youtube – North Korea v South Korea, B-Boy style. Superb soundtrack too, and amazingly it appears to have actually been filmed along the 38th parallel.

Great Lost Albums No.2 – Shack, “…Here’s Tom with the Weather”

Posted 29 May, 2007 by hartsonsdog
Categories: Great Lost Albums, Music, Shack

Sometimes you simply have to despair at the general public, those philistine cloth-eared bastards. Shack must be the only Scousers in the world who can’t get arrested. A string of brilliant albums combining incredible musicianship with the sort of songwriting no other British band could even dream of, yet no bugger bothers to listen.

Even in 1999, signed to a major label, the stunning HMS Fable album in the can, an NME cover proclaiming Mick Head “The Best Songwriter in Britain” (true), and the joyously melodic single Comedy playlisted on both Radios 1 & 2, the punters still didn’t bite. Like I said, sometimes you just have to despair.

Well, nil desperandum and all that and thankfully the brothers Head carried on regardless and thank god they did, for their next album, 2003’s …Here’s Tom with the Weather, was their masterpiece. Even then they had to rely on the benevolence of concert promoter Simon Moran, who set up a record label especially to release this one incredible album. Unlike HMS Fable however, the press didn’t bother with it and so it was dead in the water.

Despair. Because …Here’s Tom is the Nick Drake/Stone Roses/early Floyd/Hendrix/La’s/cosmic Scouse album dreams are made of. Less anthemic than HMS Fable, and more akin to the sublime Scouse folk of their one-off Strands project.

Romance on the dole to kick things off:

The morning paper’s soaking from the rain
And Kilroy’s hair’s turned blue…
All through the wintertime, this hovel’s been a pain
But I don’t care what anybody says, as long as I’ve got you
(As Long as I’ve Got You)

The Dead Sea Scrolls of Cosmic Scouserdom to follow:

Learning to play the guitar, one for you, one for me
Who’d be the first one to learn all those tricks by Mr Lee?
Stuck in me ma’s old back room, with endless cups of tea…
(Byrds Turn to Stone)

…and elsewhere, the dreamy folk pop of The Girl with the Long Brown Hair, the lysergic Latino-psych of On the Terrace, two sublime John Head songs (Miles Apart and Carousel), and the stupendous Bacharach-on-the-Mersey finale, Happy Ever After. Just after your jaw hits the floor, you’re reaching for the repeat button.

No-one likes them, they don’t care, and they came back for more in 2006 with the almost equally brilliant Corner of Miles & Gil, this time courtesy of benefactor Noel Gallagher, who said “The world is a worse place when Shack aren’t releasing records”. Damn right Sir. Another masterpiece, this time mixing their dazzling ear for a tune with a new-found Miles Davis obsession. And still no fucker bought it.

DESPAIR.

Hear tracks from Shack and more at Radio Hartson’s Dog!

You Brits Don’t Know You’re Born

Posted 28 May, 2007 by hartsonsdog
Categories: Travel

I’ve had several emails from friends/family in the UK recently moaning about the bad weather. Pah! Amateurs! It’s rainy season here in Hartson’s Dog’s adopted home town of Ho Chi Minh City, and here are some scenes from yesterday’s downpour…

 HCMC Rain 1

 HCMC rain 2