Friday, September 12, 2014

I think journalism may be dying but it may also be coming back to life

As a child I wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to write comic books and science fiction novels.  Later on, I wanted to be a journalist, telling the truth on behalf of the people.  I wanted to fight censorship and do good stuff for people.  I wanted to catch all those lying politicians and shine a bright light on their bad deeds.

Hopelessly naive.

I used to respect the media.  I would read 2 or 3 newspapers a day.  I saw the BBC as a bastion of truth, noble, erect and trustworthy, standing tall against injustice, serving our proud British nation and   helping out oppressed people around the world.  I bought every single bit of the beautiful lie.

The old newspapers were always partial, depending on the whims of Lord Beaverbrook or whoever held the purse strings.  Over time, watching the Murdoch empire and the Daily Record, I realised that newsprint was often grubby.  The hands of tabloid journalists are often stained red with the ink of their gutter journalism.  No matter how hard they scrubbed, sometimes that spot of ink would inconveniently stay there as they were made to account for their writings years later.  Sales have fallen and the stature of British print journalism has diminished.

I still held the BBC in high regard.  Friends from other countries tell me that they have never trusted the BBC, that they call the BBC the British Brainwashing Corporation. That's pretty sad.  It is now clear that the BBC are partial, especially in the recent debate surrounding the Scottish independence referendum.  The BBC seems to be actively campaigning against Scottish independence.  One suspects that this may be to protect 10% of licence fee income.  It does feel like a step away from impartial comment.

The BBC has also been damaged by the horrific realisation that prominent members of the on-screen BBC staff were apparently rather unpleasant in real life.  These nasty realities seem to have been common knowledge around the BBC.  Nothing was done.  A strong institutional reputation was tarnished.

So the media of my childhood has betrayed me.  Betrayal is perhaps not the correct way to frame the situation.  It is perhaps fairer to say that I have come to see the media in it's true light.  My expectations of the BBC and Fleet Street were higher than they could reach.  It's not the fault of the media, it was my youthful innocence that was to blame.

In the future I guess the media will be different.  The bell has been tolling for newspapers for a while.  Print newspapers may not exist in 20 years time.  I think we will continue to have good quality written journalism on websites.  There will be a lot of dross out there but there will be some pearls too.  Unfortunately there is no editor online and you can always find some evidence to back up your maddest prejudices.  You must become an editor and you must filter things carefully and avoid becoming a member of the 'tin foil hat' brigade.

The decline of old media will hopefully lead to a maturation of the reader and the development of critical skills.  Hopefully with time we will begin to evaluate things and make our own decisions.  Sadly, the world is full of conspiracy nuts with poor filters.  We may need to rely on our paternalistic media overlords for some time.

That should be OK as long as they don't try to tell us how to vote........


Sunday, September 07, 2014

some music by the band I used to play bass for

After posting a bunch of old demo recordings of my own I had a chat with one of my friends from my old band Punani and he said it would be cool to upload some of our old music to bandcamp.  I've spent the evening uploading it and you should be able to stream it on the widget on this page.

I never really had a massive contribution to Punani.  I wrote all my baselines and I provided 'constructive criticism' to the songwriters but I only ever saw myself as the bass player in this band.  Having said that I sadly have to claim responsibility for the terrible band name.

So I played in this band between the ages of 19 and 22 from 1997 to 2000.  I was writing my own songs and playing with my own (slightly less motivated) band at the same time.  Punani was a bit like playing football on a Sunday for me.  Pointless fun.  Many good times were had.

Give it a listen.  Sorry for all the offensive bits.

Old music that was lying about

So on Friday I randomly went to see the Pet Shops Boys at short notice.  It was a really good gig and it sparked a memory of an old recording that I had made with a friend of dodgy covers on a 4 track.  We had recorded 'always on my mind', 'it's a sin', 'never ever' by all saints and 'circle in the sand' by Belinda Carlisle.  We might have done another Belinda Carlisle track.  We did all of that in one afternoon using an early play station as a drum machine.

I'm not sure what happened to that tape.  I wish I had it.  I went looking for it and I failed to find it.  What I did find was a collection of slightly less cheery songs from 1999 when I was pretending to be Lou Reed.  They are all pretty shit but Bandcamp didm't exist back then and it does now so I had a 'what the fuck' moment and stuck them all up (well 6 of them anyway).

Now this music is not very good and it is not well played but I wrote it and spent time with it so why not just let it exist somewhere other than a rotting CD in a pile.  It was mainly written after the accidental death of a friend at a young age and the words are mainly about coming to terms with grief and death.  Cheery stuff.  Very angry.

All of that was about 15 or 16 years ago.  I really wanted to be a rock star until I was 21.  The only real problem was a lack of ability or good looks.  Most of these songs were played in a full band format with a few friends but we never got our shit together enough to properly record any of it.  There are probably some 2 track rehearsal tapes somewhere but I doubt I could ever be bothered to find them.

Additionally there is another track recorded for a laugh in 2007.  It sounds a bit better because a friend played some guitar on it and we used a computer.  We were listening to a lot of Violent Femmes stuff at the time so we just ran with it.

Other than this I have some recordings from a band called Punani that I played bass for.  I'm not going to put any of that on here as it's not all mine.  It's not fair to put anything that would embarrass other people out in the public domain.

The first band that I was in had a hundred names but was mainly called the Divers.  I have a large box of tapes but none of it was recorded properly (well maybe one song on an 8 track and a Nirvana cover for a tribute tape).  I would put that up if it was in a decent format and I could find it but I can't.

Anyway, this stuff is now in public.  The 1999 stuff is sad and angry and a bit rubbish.  The 2007 song is sad in a different way and a bit rubbish.

It exists.  That is all.