From Ferny Gully: The Last Rainforest (1992).

The song is ‘A Dream Worth Keeping’ by Sheena Easton.

This entire scene is like a burning effigy of prom dresses and strawberry flavoured lips. An important contribution to an already overflowing bucket of romantic cliches, it has interesting themes like base morality (“ignorance shrinks you”), sexuality (fairies showing ‘a bit of thigh’), and the idea that redemptive love discolours water.

I’d love to have an exact figure on how much rainforest has been destroyed since the making of this film.

QUESTION: Do oceanic snares occlude intimacy?

Answers on a postcard, please

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For mythology, just add milk

November 15, 2009


I went shopping (in Whole Foods in Kensington) and I bought some milk, and some earnestly packaged cereal.

Whole Earth cereal prides itself on being organic, ethical- implying healthy living and a sense of wellness. Where Kellogg’s cereals are explosive, multicoloured, and playful affairs, Whole Earth suggests a rarified breakfast made of natural products. The packaging isn’t garish. Instead, the solemnity of farming procedures is countered with animated adjectives like ‘crispy’ and ‘crunchy’. There is no distance between your witnessing the natural state of the corn in the packaging to it arriving in your bowl. The arrow pointing towards the corn is very important- with Kellogg’s cereals, there is no way of telling whether the corn involved is corn at all. Instead of blindly consuming ‘pseudo-corn’, Whole Earth invites the consumer to replicate the thoughts and feelings of the farmer as he surveys his crops: there is a direct connection between consumer and the product, a sensuous pride in your harvesting the supermarket shelves efficiently. It suggests that luxury is experienced by a return to a hearty, rustic, existence like the dignity of serfdom.

Whole Earth cereals are free from the burning sensation that we associate with gluten. Instead of being abrasive and sugar coated, Whole Earth cereals ease you into your morning- a breakfast show hosted by Terry Wogan rather than the Chris Moyles employed by Kellogg’s. Instead of dulling your brains or mutilating your senses with E numbers, the implication here is that Whole Earth cereals are exclusively fibrous. They will help your metabolism, instilling an order in your body, rather than declaring war on your colon. We imagine imperfect, natural, rough qualties coarsing through us. We congratulate ourselves for having made ‘the right choice’.

Ultimately, natural sense data is only afforded to the consumer if you have the money to pay for it. Health- and 4 grams worth of fibre- is for the rich, emulsifiers are for the poor and ugly.

Calypso

November 11, 2009

Jamaica/Jamaica is the place to go.

I fucking love Calypso.

Times New Viking

I managed to miss the deadline for all the albums and singles I was reviewing for Artrocker issue 96. My apologies to all involved, especially one Cindy Suzuki who wrote up everything that I failed to. However, my review of Times New Viking’s gig at Cargo in late September did make it in. Therefore, I implore everyone to spend a measly £3.50 from any good newsagents and turn to page 75.

My favourite line was, unfortunately, cut from the article:

‘Over the course of their four albums, Times New Viking have fashioned a hazy porridge of sound, like a serving of Nurofen and clotted cream guzzled from a retro blender.

I agree- that sentence is unadulterated, yet entirely accurate, wank. The problem with being post-ironic is that you’re never appreciated in your own lifetime. Poking around the wildly kitsch junk shops just off the Bethnal Green Road is a truly joyful experience. However, it doesn’t mean that that sensation can be translated into print. No matter how tempted, or enthralled, you are by the products of late-’50s and early-’60s consumerism and commodity fetishism, it may prove to be for the best to retain those desires as private obsessions.

Kids With Guns

November 2, 2009

(Photo courtesy of Ben DeCamp and/or Vice).

This is a photo taken at Vice Magazine’s recent 15th Birthday Party. At the time, this photo was of mild crowd disturbances during a set by jagged lightning punks Bad Brains.

This particular photo is really cool. It looks like a brattish late-teenage version of True Romance if the screenplay was written by Novalis. It also, conveniently, feeds into the appeal of there being a band called Guns ‘n’ Roses. Simply by virtue of their being named in a flurry of romantic juxtaposition, we can entirely forgive the fact that all their songs were written in an ink of cocaine and sweat on the back of pizza boxes. It’s a similar phenomenon to heroin chic- especially among fin de siècle laudanum addled Orientalists. Indeed, Lewis Caroll’s creeping paedophilia can probably be forgiven because, firstly, there’s a morbid glamour about early photography and, secondly, he was addled by a cocktail of devilish substances. I digress.

In conclusion, this photo conjours two separate story lines. On one hand, this photo recalls an imaginary Michael Mann-directed neo-Noir about a solitary downtrodden cop chasing unruly, murderous, butchers through a version of the meat packing district where meat continues to be packed. On the other hand, it recalls alcoholism, romance, and the violence of revenge. The moral of the story is that ‘the plaid-clad’ should never date girls who are out of their league. They’ll always end up being seduced by captains of industry with stern manners and bulges in their pockets while wearing spectacularly expensive dresses that reveal their unfettered backs.

I’m 21 today.

This, I assume, means I have 365 days left to fulfill the pressures inflicted upon people of youth by John Hughes films. Everyone in The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink was downtrodden in some way, but they knew where they were going. They had romantic and social ambitions. In today’s hypermodern morass, people are expected to have achieved all of their dreams- from being an Abba-inflected ‘Dancing Queen’ to a fawning romantic influenced primarily by ‘The O.C’ by the age of 17.


Abba have been getting naked on the back of a huge, and hugely efficient, welfare state since 1970.


Everyone in ‘The O.C’ is effortlessly attractive but utterly disaffected. It has the lingering scent of oppressed New York gay couples during the Reagan years, but they’ll totally complain that everything’s, like, so unfair.

I’m not a millionaire yet. I haven’t released a platinum selling hoedown-hop record like Miley Cyrus. I haven’t written a massively successful and hugely influential book like Bret Easton Ellis. Does this make me a failure?

Does the cosmos even care?

If only Michael were here.

However, I’m now too old for him.

He’s both using scare-quotes and scything what he sows.

Michael Jackson is the Freddie Krueger of light-entertainment.

Swaggering ’80s peroxide-hard rock to is the best idea in human history. It’s the musical equivalent of inserting one’s penis into the hole in the O-Zone layer (which, I think, was a concern at the time). For someone such as myself, those earliest memories are hazy recollections scattered between ’93 and ’95, it conjures a sense of transparent, meaningless, nostalgia. How exactly does this occur? I’m not actually going to answer that myself- instead, I’m going to rant for a bit and let you make your mind up. However, I am going to suggest that we should all resign ourselves to Reaganite manifest destiny cheeseburger-and-a-shake-chic.

Manifest Destiny Chic: The resurgance of the ideals of American expansionism, but replacing physical space with the jingoistic colonisation of the ‘heart and mind’ and the wardrobe. It is characterised by contradictions: conservatism and cocaine; slow pleasure and fast cars; saving the whales and shaving one’s legs, it is the conceptual form of the explosive capitalism in the 1980s. Symptoms include expressing pleasure by screaming ‘wooo’, the use of fireworks, and the overemphasis of the romance of ‘the fairground’.

Van Halen are the original source of swagger. They always managed to take meretricious rock star clichés far beyond Roth’s ADD annoyance and into a realm of stratospheric cock-wielding supremacy. They’re a bit like watching Mr. Universe on TV and gouging it out of homoeroticism and/or ego-wrenching soul destruction with a plastic knife and fork. Look at the double denim, the aviator sunglasses worn indoors, the bouffant hair, the leather. Here, Van Halen look a bit like members of court at a pre-revolutionary Versailles, but entirely open to the possibility of ‘rocking out for the people’. They seem not to ‘give a fuck’ (about very much other than crystal meth). Their grimaces, meanwhile, inject a sense of fun into the preceedings. Van Halen imprinted in your head images of screaming into the glare of Beverley Hills in some bizarre, boxy, ‘80s convertible while the streets are lined with bikini-clad models. This is manifest destiny chic. They lived this dream.

Here is Van Halen playing “Dreams” live in the studio while recording their album 5150

It’s no surprise that it was played throughout John Kerry’s Presidential campaign in 2004. It has just the right amount of pseudo-inspirational, lighters-in-the-air, slushiness to appeal to both romantically privileged ‘free world’ teenagers circa 1986 and self-congratulatory liberals from the mid-noughties. “Dreams” epitomises manifest destiny chic. It strains itself, imagining an anti-capitalist apocalypse where wearing double-denim is outlawed in the same way that Enver Hoxha outlawed beards. It’s got the same quantity of “fuck yeah!”-isms that Andrew Dice Clay so preyed on, but it’s much more charming. All of this basically amounts to it being very ‘of its time’. That time was, no doubt, a desperately exciting time to be young and/or attractive.

Also, the finished, polished, product of “Dreams” featured at the inspirational, world-saving, finale of Power Rangers: The Movie. This is simultaneously the best and worst film ever made. The ending really is its saving grace. I first really paid close attention to the song when I was bought the film on VHS for Christmas in 1996. Over the next few years, after watching this final scene, I always found myself determined to go and ‘change the world’.

Are you a Van Halen fan?
Have you ever waved your lighter in the air to an inspiration ballad and accidentally burned off some poor girl’s pigtails?
Do the Power Rangers make you into a responsible/inspired post-teen?

As Tommy (the White Ranger) pointed out so astutely in the above clip, ‘anything is possible’.

Manifest destiny chic (1979-1995)