Thursday, April 30, 2009
The Chapman Family. Astoundingly intelligent, judging, you-appear-to-have-no-knowledge-of-this-issue-so-please-kindly-fuck-off, cynical, forboding, yet really fucking enjoyable and endorphine producing rock. If you haven't had your latest news update then don't bother. Get these songs in your ears. Pretend that the knock at your front door isn't the apocalypse coming to take you. It probably is. Hide.
Kids is seriously going to make you assume that either you or society have failed. In actuality, it is both. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But somehow out of this massive let-down a band can create such a song as to create a nervous feeling as to make you await Jon Snow at 7pm just to affirm it all. But like Jon, The Chapman Family are telling you like it is in a way that indicates that a snazzy tie and socks combo and grilling a politician, or in the case of The Chapman Family an unsettlingly accurate account of the state of things packaged as a hook-line-and-sinker of a rollicking great song, might, might, MIGHT somehow change it all.
As a band that have come from my hometown, I am not so much biased, as we have produced a fair few indie bands over the years, but completely reassured and inspired.
So seeing The Chapman Family at Empire in Middlesbrough, the venue I see as my second living room -- it really is that familiar -- was a joy. A scary amount of feedback and the general problem with that venue of late, of the destruction of everyone's ability to enjoy a future free of tinnitus, hampered what would have been a truly proud moment for everyone from Teesside. Yet it did not deter the audience or the band from really enjoying a another, obviously frantic performance that The Chapman Family have become reliable for.
A old little taster..
The Chapman Family - You Think Your Funny [via YouSendIt for 7 days]
Go to their MySpace page to hear an interview with the ever engaging Kingsley. Honestly, get into a conversation with this man, it is enriching as well as entertaining.
Then feeling his plight go buy the single!
If The Chapman Family are not a cult then they fucking should be!
I am a poor wayfaring stranger traveling through this world of woe, but it's OK, I am well paid for the woe and I enjoy watching my fellow wayfarers, the road guys, the men who fly from town to town, talking on their cell phones, hustling software and industrial carpeting, advising companies on branding issues, guys with pagers, laptops, BlackBerries, and voices like drill bits.
Road guys tend to be a little grim, which you would be too if you were trying to peddle your widgets these days. They don't sit in the gate area and exchange stories about road life. Except lately, I've heard numerous road guys discussing the Domino's Pizza hooha in which an employee in Conover, N.C., shot a video of another employee making a salami sandwich, farting on it and adding some cheese he had pulled out of his nose — which was posted on YouTube and promptly viewed by millions of slackers and mouth-breathers and apparently had such an effect on Domino's business that its president, Patrick Doyle, made his own YouTube appearance defending the brand.
This is the world turned upside down, in which satirists finally have some power to step on the big boys' toes and make them squeal. Two minimum-wage employees with a cheap videocam are able to make such a stir that a man who earns almost half a million a year has to stand up and say that the Conover store has been closed and sanitized, that the two "team members" are charged with felonies, that Domino's makes a delicious and hygienic pizza, and that the company is now re-examining its hiring practices so as not to admit to its team the sort of person who would pull cheese out of his nose and fart on the salami. "It sickens me," he said.
This shakes up some of the road guys, who wonder what the world has come to. But it's the very world they live in.
The Internet is fundamental to the migratory life. You can sit here — I'm in St. Louis right now, at Gate A17 — and shower the world with your e-mails and check your Facebook friends to see what they ate for breakfast and download anything you care to look at. All you need is a laptop and a little plug-in wireless antenna. It's an electronic world that keeps you in the loop as you zoom around. It isn't the real world anymore.
In the real world, the booger video is piffle. A joke. It doesn't require the company president to make an official statement — Matt the night manager just says, "Hey you guys, cut it out and go clean the toilet."
But in the Strange New World in which I travel and am quite comfortable, thank you, it is amplified to an absurd level, which of course is the strategy of satire. What Jonathan Swift strove to create in "Gulliver's Travels," the Conover Two brought about with a simple upload.
Teams of consultants now will be brought in to Domino's and other large corporations to draw up multipronged strategies for fighting back against booger attacks. Actors will be hired to shoot mock videos — of car rental employees wiping their noses on steering wheels, hospital orderlies ridiculing unconscious patients, pilots mixing martinis in the flight deck, sausage workers introducing bodily fluids into the kielbasa — and tens of millions of dollars will be spent on training programs to show top executives how to respond to gross-outs, all because two members of Team Domino got bored one day and had a funny idea.
And then we will hear about guerrilla skirmishes between corporations, Domino's sneaking out a video purporting to show rats running through a Pizza Hut and the Hutites responding with one of a coven of witches explaining the Wiccan meaning of the dots on the domino. It is tempting — the thought that for practically no expense, you can force the president of Burger King to make a public defense of the product and say that, no, the French fries do not include deep-fried tent caterpillars. The denial is what plants the idea firmly in the public's mind.
Meanwhile, I call on all Americans to stand up for the Conover Two and for our national sense of humor that has served us so well for so long boopboopbadoop. People have been grossing each other out for centuries and this is no time to stop. Is this a felony? No, it's snot.
Garrison Keillor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The Maccabees have certainly pricked up my ears.
And that is what it is all about. Always a massively refreshing feeling. Like a lemon top from Redcar.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Irish Red Cross held an ‘Information Day’ to target students and their parents, and beneficiaries of secondary education cash assistance programme (SECAP) to regularly remind them of the importance of the programme and the programme's procedures.
In April last year, a group representing the community of Aceh Barat district in Banda Aceh province, traveled to Banda Aceh to meet and convey to BRR (Government Department responsible for Tsunami) their disappointment in a programme. The demonstration continued for a few days until the Irish Red Cross offered to facilitate a session via radio, giving the community and BRR an opportunity to find solutions. The discussion led to a commitment by BRR to pursue the matter with a higher authority, which culminated in a satisfactory to the beneficiaries.
The is one example of the Irish Red Cross’ efforts in improving beneficiary communication. It is the only partner national society with a programme specifically addressing beneficiary communication; community outreach. One of the activities in this programme is a radio session which broadcasts on-air live discussions, bi-weekly dramas and daily public service announcement on various topics.
The topics aired in the radio session are determined by the Irish Red Cross team based on the questions raised via email, mobile text messages and telephone calls from the community. For example, if many community members asked questions on land titles, the Irish Red Cross team will set up a radio session with this topic and invite guest speakers from government institutions and/or non-governmental organizations. This will provide an opportunity for the community members to raise their questions directly to the relevant parties. In some cases, when the issue has not been solved, the Irish Red Cross team will facilitate an off-air meeting between the community members and relevant entities, such as above.
Red Cross Youth in Banda Aceh march to campaign on climate change.
The community responds to the radio sessions with enthusiasm; the calls and text messages both on-air and off-air has increased since this programme was first launched in November 2006. In its first month, the team received 11 calls and 38 text messages from 49 clients, whereas in July this year, 3,530 clients have conveyed their messages via numerous text messages, phone calls, email, letters to dedicated post office box, Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) staff/volunteer and even fax.
Radio broadcasting is only one of many tools used by the International Federation in beneficiary communication. Communication to beneficiaries is an integral part in many projects implemented by the Red Cross and Red Crescent. In the transitional shelter programme, the International Federation and its implementing partners brought local communities together and informed them on the nature of the programme and its implementation. Furthermore, the communities were involved in the construction of the shelters and even supervision of the construction processes. This involvement has created a sense of ownership towards the programme and the shelters, as demonstrated by their active participation in the rebuilding and maintenance of their new homes. Similarly, in the water and sanitation projects of the International Federation, communities are involved in the planning and implementation process, creating an environment supportive to the programme and its sustainability
The return of a much loved band in our apartment-hold. Brimming with nostalgia; personal, musical, cultural and historical. Camera Obscura are so endearing, smile-enducing and humble. A band that have never shook that ever so slightly awkward feeling. You can see they love what they do musically but still worry as to how it will be received. It is not something that you see often -- if ever -- in this cock-sure industry.
So to see the Scottish band return to the live circuit again is delightful. It was a joy to see them play their new material last week, Tuesday 21st April, at the Academy. A venue I feel is perfect for the band. Dark, warm; enclosed in the palm of great big firm, yet reassuring hands. An audience that waiting verging on impatiently, but only due to the great sense of anticipation at sharing the air with a well-loved band of such likable people. My posse and I were actually impatient. We usually are. (But especially after the support act, not amusing.)
And not without reason. With teasers of new material surfacing it certainly gave the feeling that the wait would be worth it all. Their new album is certain to accompany the summer with no difficulty whatsoever. A genuine perfect match. Jangly, glorious and divinely orchestrated. To hear the a Camera Obscura track is to almost embark on an adventure that will surely deliver nothing but twee perfection.
With a couple of fluffs for good measure there is no way not to fall in love with Camera Obscura a little bit more for each one.
A cathartic appearance from a song that I did not expect to hear, and was quite choked to having to stand through publicly.
Extremely close to the bone. I'm not even sure why I'm sharing.
Camera Obscura - Razzle Dazzle Rose [via YouSendIt for 7 days]
Monday, April 27, 2009
..just when I'm a little more than utterly despondant. A Monday you'd rather leave behind. Wishing your life away looking forward to time spent with a loved one. Dreams and aspirations that must be kept secret. Trying to make the best of something that just won't do.
This beautiful remix I've had floating around for a while has just reminded me of the hope of a life that I'm working so hard for and keeping ambition in mind it could all still fall into place.
Friendly Fires - Skeleton Boy (Air France remix) [via zShare]
Love Friendly Fires.
Adore Air France.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the report launch. Photo: UNDP
Report on tsunami recovery reveals need to involve local communities
New York — To better respond to natural disasters, governments should invest more in risk reduction for vulnerable communities and make sure to reflect gender concerns in the recovery processes, says a report presented today at the United Nations. Involving local communities in the recovery process, according to “The Tsunami Legacy: Innovation, Breakthroughs and Change” report, is as instrumental as installing high-tech early warning systems. The report also highlights the need for governments to incorporate disaster risk reduction measures in national development plans.
Ban Ki-moon, Helen Clark, Dr. R.M Marty M. Natalegawa (Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN), Bill Clinton and Kuntoro Mangkusubroto (Chair of the Tsunami Global Lessons Learned Steering Committee) look at copies of the report. Photo: UNDP
Commissioned by The Tsunami Global Lessons Learned Project, an organization that includes representatives from five of the hardest-hit countries – India, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand – in addition to the UN and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the report documents lessons learned from the global recovery response to the tsunami and shares best practices to help prevent and prepare for natural disasters.
“Our capacity to cope with natural disasters is much greater than we realize,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in response to the report. “Yes, we cannot prevent the events. But we can diminish the potential for disaster. Doing so requires foresight and advanced planning, not just emergency relief. That is why this report is so important.”
Since the 2004 Indian Tsunami, there has been a flurry of activity by governments, international agencies and civil society organizations in order to create national and regional early warning systems. Twenty-four early detection buoys have been placed in the Indian Ocean, and 168 governments have resolved to reduce multi-hazard risks. In addition, 250,000 new permanent houses and over 100 air and seaports have been built, 3,000 schools constructed and hundreds of hospitals rehabilitated.
"As UN Envoy for the Tsunami Recovery, I was proud to help the nations and communities affected by the tsunami to ‘build back better’,” President Bill Clinton said. “Thanks to continued contributions of time, money, skills, and needed items by UN, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, hundreds of NGOs, donor governments, the private sector, citizens and governments of the affected communities, and citizens around the world, significant progress has been achieved in building and in preventing and mitigating future disasters. But much remains to be done. I’m hopeful we will continue and strengthen our efforts to promote good governance, economic development, and disaster preparation, even in these tough economic times.”
Celebarting after the function, Antti the Finn, Jerry Talbot, Bill Nicol, Maude Froberg and Anne Christensen. Bill Nicol played a crucial role throughout the Tsunami in Indonesia as senior adviser to the Director of BRR. Jerry Talbot spent two years running the IFRC operation in the Maldives and then became special representative to the Seccretary General of IFRC. Jerry, Bill and Satya Tripathi, Head of UNORC, Indonesia, and Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, were my Tsunami heroes
When the 2004 tsunami hit, many people could not access assistance simply because of their gender, ethnicity, age, class, religion or occupation, says the report. Women were particularly hit hard. However, according to the report, the recovery process provided an opportunity to address underlying social disparities in the region, strengthen human rights protection for marginalized groups and creating an environment for social participation. Community capacity to respond to early warning systems was improved and disaster awareness programmes were included in many school curricula. In addition, several countries adopted anti-discrimination measures to help all victims benefit from aid, including victims of conflicts.
“The tsunami recovery effort has showed that by working together —and by collaborating with local communities at every step along the way— we can indeed build back better,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and Chair of the UN Development Group. “One of the principal lessons drawn early on from the tsunami is that all countries need to be better prepared for when natural disaster strikes. What is needed is bold action —from governments, the UN, and other partners — to make sure appropriate disaster risk reduction measures are instituted.”
Jerry Talbot, Eddy Purwanto, Bill Nicol, Dr. Kuntoro Mankusubroto and myself. Eddy, Bill and Dr. Kuntoro are from BRR, the Indonesian Govt. Ministry in charge of Tsunami.
“Through the tsunami, we have also learned that there is a large reservoir of goodwill, which forms the foundation for strengthening the bonds of humanity and solidarity”, said Dr. R.M Marty M. Natalegawa, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN. “We should build on this reservoir to forge closer ties between nations and inspire a more humane world.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to New York and apart from meeting from meeting the high wattage luminaries, I met many lesser luminaries in the heart of New York. here are a few photos.
Stano, a waiter at Scotty's Diner.
Gurung behind the counter in his convenience store.
Gurung's convenience store
A Manhattan street.
Empire States building
Jerry and I enjoyed a long walk in Central Park on Saturday.
A view across the river from the UN headqiuarters in Bew York.
My first visit to the UN Security Council Chambers, a place I have dreamed of being a fly on the wall.
Anne Christensen showing me her favourite statue of an African woman in the UN headquarters.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009