Archive for the ‘Phoneys’ Category

Quit Blaming the Illuminati for Dire Pop Culture!

August 28, 2013

eye-of-the-pyramid

Perhaps you’re unaware of this trend, dear netizen, but in recent years there has been a marked increase in paranoid pundits on the Web, eager to point out how this or that crap music video is the work of the dreaded and mysterious “Illuminati”. Now you might have thought that fixing the International banking system, causing earthquakes and tsunamis, organizing baby sacrifices in the basement of the Whitehouse and such like might leave evil geniuses little time to futz about with mind-controlling former members of the Mickey Mouse Club, but then you wouldn’t be a “vigilant citizen” as one deluded fool likes to call his (her?) website, which is dedicated to uncovering these nefarious plots.

Yes, it’s not enough that Selena Gomez is simply a boring former child star struggling to find an adult identity, she has to be an automaton controlled by MK Ultra in the eyes of these alarmed folks.

The people who write this stuff see satanic ritual content in even the most innocuous and commonplace images: Vigilant Citizen going so far as to suggest that the butterflies favoured by Miley Cyrus’s previous incarnation, tween sensation Hannah Montana, are rife with occult meaning, foreshadowing as they do her transformation from Wholesome Product to Sleazy Product. Nope, um…they’re just butterflies: beloved by pre-teen girls and manufacturers of sparkly stickers alike. (Actually, I quite like sparkly butterfly stickers myself. Oh no! I’ve been brainwashed by the Illuminati!) And that there transformation from WP to SP, well…clearly you’ve never worked in Hollywood. (I have.) Finally, not to split hairs but any symbolism associated with creeping caterpillars morphing into fluttering butterflies is overwhelmingly positive and not generally understood as a metaphor for corruption.

Speaking of Miss Cyrus, her recent indulgences in epic bad taste (see VMA awards, August 25, 2013, if you must) are evidently laden with proof that she is but an Illuminati puppet, a “sacrificial lamb” according to VC and Youtube commenters of questionable intelligence.

I have been reading this bizarre nonsense for years and finally decided I have to speak out.

People lissen up! I’m only gonna deal with this subject the one time: whether we’re talking the grandma of crap pop videos herself (McDonna) or her even less interesting spawn (Britney) up to and including her slightly more interesting spawn (the Gaga woman), the fact of the matter is THERE IS NOTHING SPOOKY GOING ON, IT’S JUST A BUNCH OF SHIT. OK? Stop watching it maybe?

Here is what I have to say to each and every nutter who wastes their precious time thinking too much about subjects that require little actual thought, i.e. the “meaning” behind mainstream entertainment products:

You need to get a life and stop subjecting all this puerile crap to such intense and laughable over-analysis. This entire warped joke about the “Illuminati” has gotten completely out of hand! Most of the people, probably including you, who throw this word around are totally unaware of the fact that the only reason you even know about it is because of a wildly influential mid- 1970s satirical novel titled, The Illuminatus Trilogy (Roberts Shea and Wilson) which you almost certainly didn’t bother to read.

The point of the book, by the way, was to make a JOKE out of this notion: “what if all the nutters with conspiracy theories turned out to be right?!” It’s an intellectual wheeze about the nature of reality, people’s gullibility, psychedelia, quantum mechanics, JFK and a ton of other stuff that got thrown into the pot, but as usual, some twits with no sense of humour have decided to take it literally and waste their days poring over Kei$ha videos in search of MK Ultra subliminal messaging.

O. M. G. !!

Here’s a clue: the universal archetypes and forces for good / bad continually play themselves out over time, within the entertainment industry and outside of it too. This does not mean that some cackling super-villains (who may or may not shape-shift into enormous reptiles when no one is looking) secretly control the planet which they accomplish by spending their precious time directing pop videos with screamingly obvious “symbolism”: oh wow, a pentagram and some wolves – a sure sign that the Illuminati is behind things!!!

If certain themes suggest themselves to you when wasting your time watching this lame stuff then so what? Besides being a testament to the hodge-podge “throw everything into the soup” style typical of LA video directors, all it means is that certain universal patterns repeat: children grow up and start to have sex: innocence gets experienced; industries lose sight of their original ideals: artists become whores.

But there’s good news too: heroes survive ordeals; thinkers pierce the veil of superstition with intelligence and reason; curiosity inspires individuals to make great discoveries; compassion gives people courage to fight for justice.

It is also worth mentioning that I have noticed that pretty much everyone pushing this Illuminati-MTV rubbish is a born-again Christian with their own agenda. Not sure if that applies to you but either way, I suggest you get your head out of the gutter and stop watching and thinking about all this garbage. You aren’t helping anyone, human, god (or devil), by stoking up insane paranoid nonsense. We all have choices of what to spend our time looking at and listening to and if you choose to spend hours watching the VMA awards then it serves you right if you get sick to your stomach! Read a book instead. (Maybe even the Illuminatus Trilogy to give yourself some perspective.)

Or learn how to play an instrument and make real music with real friends. Above all, just ignore the low-grade doodoo that Hollywood constantly squeezes out.

Or are you already too addicted/obsessed? OOH! Looks like they got you…..

* * *

The actual Illuminati, the historical one founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776 Bavaria, was dedicated to ending superstition and promoting women’s education. Now isn’t that ironic!

So the real crime here is not the questionable messaging inherent in incorporating teddy bears into a sex-laden skit featuring a former tween sensation but the fact that the desire to shock reigns supreme in the world of pop music.

You know what would truly be shocking?

If someone just got up there and sang a good song straight from the heart.

As if!

If Gurus Aren’t Real then How Come Their Followers Have Real Experiences?

October 17, 2010

Amma Grateful Dead Alexandra Palace Gurus Frauds Cults Eric Clapton

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” - Carl Sagan


* This is sort of a follow-on to my previous post (Bullshit!) which referenced Amma, the so-called “Hugging Saint.” This is my attempt to explain what is really going on when people claim to have transformative experiences by hugging this woman.

“If gurus aren’t real then how come their followers have real experiences?”

Good question, grasshopper.

It may seem like I’m changing the subject but I want to ask you if you’ve ever been to a big rock concert of an internationally renowned act?

I mean a really big one: the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Beyoncé; genre doesn’t matter, any act with millions of devoted fans all over the world will do for the purposes of this thought experiment.

If you have ever attended such an event, you will have noticed the energy in the hall/stadium/amphitheatre when everyone’s waiting for the band to come on. Some fans, as you know, take their devotion to ludicrous extremes; spending their hard-earned cash flying all over the world to catch every single performance of a tour; naming their children after the band members; dressing like them, copying their haircuts, even having plastic surgery to resemble them.

These people, if they ever ran into their heroes at the local Starbucks would no doubt fall to their knees prostrate, forget how to speak, burst into tears and/or attempt to snatch a button off their idol’s jacket sleeve.

So whilst it’s safe to conclude that Eric Clapton is not, in fact, God, it’s equally comprehensible that according to graffiti found all over London circa 1965, he once was.
At least to some people.

That’s an early preview of my point, but I haven’t gotten there just yet and may have forgotten what it was by then, so remember that for me please.

Let’s go back to the rock concert.

OK, so there you are; the place is packed with excited fans and there’s an incredibly charged atmosphere as it gets closer to show time. If the band is late on stage (and the headliner ALWAYS is, for reasons that will become clear immediately after these parentheses) then the energy goes up a few more notches during the wait. It’s positively crackling in there! You could light your joint just by holding it above your head to catch some of the sparks.

What exactly is responsible for this tingling electrical buzz? Is it the band, our modern day shamen, sitting behind the curtain in deep trance, collecting their magical forces and silently transmitting a mega-bolt of emotional flash-lightening to the awaiting massive?

In all actuality, if they’re half-way respectable rock stars anyway, they’re far more likely to be backstage with a Jack and Coke, getting a pre-show blow job.

So the energy must be coming from within the crowd then, right?

The combined anticipation of a large number of people who all share similiar feelings for the band is feeding off itself, multiyplying and gathering force. Picture a snowball barreling down the mountainside, then – using your imagination – keep its momentum, but turn it into fire and make it go in a spiral instead of down.

You have just created a mental picture of what is happening inside the auditorium. It’s like a feedback loop that just continues amplifying and doubling. It’s the magic of the vibe: it increases itself exponentially by itself. If I knew calculus I could probably express it as an equasion. Alas.

Finally…the lights go down! This can only mean the band is about to come on! The vibe triples, quadruples, making the hairs on your arms get tiny erections. People exchange thrilled glances, squeeze each other’s hands, hug and kiss, they start to jump up and down, whistle, whoop, howl, scream declarations of love, someone shouts something funny and the people nearby all laugh out loud.

omigod omigod omigod omigod!

the hubbub the buzzz buzzz buzzz buzzz buzzz buzzz buzzz buzzz buzzz!

The stage lights come on. It doesn’t seem like it could get any higher, but the vibe shoots up another few notches.

Maybe some pyrotechnics go off, or a short piece of video art plays, or a cryptic voice-over of great portent. Laser beams ping all around the room in a lattice that exactly replicates the energetic spider’s web that’s drawing everyone closer in to the centre of the experience, the core of their own being; all of these techniques designed to prolong the penultimate moment before the Entrance and further heighten the uncomfortable, delicious tension.

The crowd is practically wriggling; there’s a surge to the front; but nobody minds getting crushed (yet); the screams get louder, adrenaline and oxytocin are flooding everyone’s nerve terminals. And then….

THE STARS COME ON STAGE!

The lead singer usually comes on last, often raising their arms above their head or in an outstretched attitude of embrace that implicitly includes every single person in the room. Sometimes they make a gesture of humility, like bowing with one hand on their heart or making the sign of prayer. How apt.

It’s like an explosion, like an internal simultaneous fireworks display. The crowd nearly levitates, the roar is deafening, the applause like Katrina on a corrugated tin roof.

WHOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOO!

Keep in mind that no-one’s played a note yet.

At this pregnant moment of loving expectancy someone in the band has to SERIOUSLY fuck up to stop the vibe of the audience from generating a brilliant performance out of ‘em.

This does of course sometimes happen, and as anyone who’s ever witnessed a crowd “turning” can attest, hell hath no fury like an audience that’s just been badly let down.

The very same individuals who will fork over hundreds for tickets, recordings and merchandise and get tattoos of the band’s logo on their necks, have absolutely no problem whatsoever with hurling a beer bottle directly at the face of their favorite rock star in the entire world, with intent to wound, should s/he stagger onstage in a wasted stupor and, in a croaking voice, forget the lyrics to the fan’s favorite tune.

But if it’s a top pro act, then all they have to do is capitalise on the vibe that’s been fire-snow-ball-spiralling while they were backstage, and they can turn it into a collective experience that approaches the transcendental. (In fact there is very little difference between descriptions of religious experiences and a fan’s account of the best concert ever.) Ideally then, a sort of energy exchange starts to happen between those on stage and those watching. The vibe has energized the band, now the band starts to give it back to the crowd.

AND – they’ve got electric guitars and really big speakers!

Now the energy has a form, a sound: it is MUSIC!

The best and highest and most magical of all the arts I don’t care what you say. It is MUSIC that moves us to our core like no painting ever could, sorry Leonardo, because you just can’t feel the vibrations of the colours in a painting in your cunt.
(Or cock or whatever.)

Or as Dick Clark might say of the Mona Lisa “well, it’s good…but you can’t dance to it.” Neither can you sing along (especially not whilst abrasive guards scream “KEEP MOVING!” in various languages as you shuffle past it in a herd, but that’s the subject of another essay).

The music, the heavy intoxicating music; its pulse, its deep, deep beat, its soaring melodic lines, its poetry; the music fills the space like ether escaping from the alchemist’s jar and EVERYONE is super-super fucked up and loving it.

When I say “everyone”, I do not of course mean literally everyone.

If you’ve ever accidentally ended up at a concert of a massive star that you don’t particularly care for because someone had a free ticket or something, then you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

I once got dragged along to a Phil Lesh and Friends show in Concord, California, despite a life-long inability to understand the musical phenomeon that was the Grateful Dead (Lesh having been their bassist, for those who share my indifference).

Maybe it’s unresolved trauma from that time my parents took me to see the Dead as a little kid in London in the 70s?

The only thing I remember about the show is that groupies stole our home-made apple pie from where we thought it was safely hidden backstage and it upset me in a really big way. I have a very clear visual of going to the wicker basket to get it because I was starving and then just the shock and disbelief when I pulled away the tea towel and the pie had seemingly vanished. I couldn’t understand what had happened and even thought at first we must have left it at home, even though I clearly recalled it being in the basket earlier.

That was my first personal experience of theft you see. I knew you weren’t supposed to take other people’s stuff and until that instant, I didn’t fully comprehend that there were those who did it anyway. I lost a shred of innocence that night. It’s perfectly fitting that it was an apple pie too; that American symbol of all things good and wholesome.

Nonetheless, I don’t think the stolen pie can be the sole reason why I have a deaf spot regarding the Grateful Dead. While I don’t mind a couple of their songs, I’ve never been able to “get” them really or to put my finger on what it was about them that inspired such mass adoration.

Their music has always struck me as slippery. It noodles along and slides and slithers here and there in a largely inoffensive way, but then just as easily it slips straight out of my ears and leaves no trace behind. It doesn’t stick in my head or throb in my soul.
It doesn’t make me cry.

But I agreed to go to the Phil Lesh show with my raver boyfriend (the Dead having gained a whole new audience on the back of nouveau psychedelic culture) because Bob Dylan was opening (!) and I’d never seen him. As it turned out none of the boyfriend’s bonehead pals, including the driver, bothered to look up directions to the venue, so we got lost on the way and arrived just as Dylan was taking his bow.

Already pissed off, I tried to be open to Phil and Friends, and to get into the groove that everyone else was clearly deep into. I hoped that since the Dead were famous for their live shows more than their studio recordings, now I’d finally understand what their fans had been frothing about all this time – having blocked out all memory of seeing them in their heyday, thanks to the apple pie incident. But because I didn’t feel the crowd’s anticipation, only a wary kind of apprehension, there was no way I could catch their buzz, no matter how many hits of acid I ate. (I know because I tried.)

It was a very strange feeling. I was “a part of” something, because I was there, physically present along with everyone else and yet, I was outside of it because I simply couldn’t connect with the scene. I felt like an anthropologist at first contact: I’m here with you but I do not know your ways.

People are just as fanatical about the many Dead off-shoot projects as they are about the original band, and so the lively atmosphere did not reflect whatsoever what I was personally feeling. Though I tried valiantly to battle my own preconceptions, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to dig the music. So I tried to stay neutral during the wait, but my true feelings bordered on dread. I’d missed Dylan and now I was stuck at this fucking Phil Lesh show!

Alone in my bubble, nothing could penetrate it. Strangers smiled rapturously at me, assuming I was as jazzed as they were. I smiled politely back, feeling nothing.

When the band came on, it was as I feared: I don’t like the Grateful Dead much, which – no surprise – this music sounded exactly like. Maybe they were even playing Dead songs, I really couldn’t tell you. It all sounds the same.

The slippery music slid around me, mainly passing right over my head, leaving me the strangely unaffected eye of a storm that was sending everyone else flying. Gradually, my feeling further degraded. I was no longer just unaffected, I was BORED and starting to get angry. The Dead were legendary for the length of their shows and I was getting a bad, bad feeling that its former members stayed true to the old tradition.

I suddenly remembered an old punk joke.

Q: What did the Deadhead say to the other Deadhead when they both ran out of weed? A: Dude, this band suuucks!

I chuckled and wanted to share the joke with someone else, but of course, there was no one to tell it to.

I couldn’t have been more out of synch if I’d tried. Eventually I started wandering around by the concessions area, figuring that anyone else who hated the show would probably be trying to get away from the speakers too. But I never found my kin.

It was a long lonely night.

Earlier I said the Dead’s music didn’t made me cry, but it did – just this once.

Seventeen decades later, when the show was finally over, and we were trying to part the mists of time and remember where the hell we’d parked, we ran into a young hippy kid with dreadlocks and a bloody head. He was tripping his balls off and had also evidently been selling doses at the show (note to budding drug dealers: this is generally ill-advised) with the result that he’d been jumped and been divested of both stash and cash. Somebody pointed him in the general direction of something and we eventually found our car and split. This encounter seemed like the perfect exclamation point to cap the evening.

So just think: if people can work themselves into a near frenzy about what is, objectively speaking (and to those not under the spell), a few other people thrashing away boringly on electronically amplified instruments, how high is the limit for those who believe they’re about to be touched, or HUGGED even, by the divine incarnate?

I understand that Amma keeps people waiting for their hug for ten hours or even more, while the public sessions of singing bhajans, devotional music, often last all-night.

She’d have to really suck ass at hugging not to leave most people satisfied after all that build-up.

By a sweet coincidence, I noticed while researching this piece that the last time Amma came to the UK, she did her thing at the Alexandra Palace.

That’s the very same venue where my apple pie got nicked by Deadheads back in 1974.

Peace and love, man.

Sorry, grasshopper, I think I forgot the question.

But hopefully that answered it.

BULLSHIT!

October 14, 2010

gurus charlatans Amma

Peek-a-boo-hoo-hoo...

I’m dealing with a lot of Bullshit right now. It’s coming at me from every angle like some kind of horrific splatter scene in a Coprophagiac’s porn flick.

It’s interesting actually, how many levels Bullshit can exist on.

Two of the situations in question deal with large-scale spiritual frauds, two are about the untrustworthiness of intimates. (There was another one in the latter category recently as well, but it pales in significance and so I won’t include it here. Amateur night, you know.)

All are about Bullshit.

Without getting into the devilish details, i.e. the specifics of each movement of the Bullshit Symphony I am currently trying to get out of the auditorium before the feces-flinging finale of, let’s just delve straight into the bog which begs the question: why do people misrepresent themselves?

Looking at these four very different instances from the sort of safe distance that allows pattern and design to emerge from the crap-sprayed mess, I find that it is helpful to assume the detached and objective stance of a forensics professional analyzing a crime scene.

The M.O. may be different, the repercussions varied, but people who present themselves and their lives with a high degree of “spin” are basically all operating from the same dead battery.

Shame.

The user is ashamed of his need to exploit others; of the fact that s/he is so incapable of honest ascent. The poseur is ashamed of his/her inherent lack of cool, of the creeping certainty of mediocrity that gives rise to the uncontrollable urge to self-aggrandize. The hustler is ashamed of the truth, of the honesty that would make her/his scams less palatable to the gullible. The plastic shaman is ashamed – scornful actually – of humanity itself, and ashamed at being a piece of it; getting over on the fellow-fools is a way of soothing the shame.

Although it is not grammatically correct to use “they” in place of “he” or “she” if wishing to make a comment about a person without indicating “their” gender, I have done so anyway below because the English language is bastard stupid on this point, plus his/her s/he become clumsier with each repetition, and most crucially I am trying to protect myself from the guilty by being vague:

One of the four makes promises they cannot keep; cuts sweet deals that always turn sour.

One tells lies to hide how much they take from others; creates squabbles amongst their critics that they may divert attention.

One falsifies history in order to give themselves unique access to “ancient wisdom” which snake oil they then sell to the anxious seekers.

One uses psychotropic drugs to mesmerize the overly-earnest and then claims this ownerless force as their own (for which of course they charge a pretty penny).

Doesn’t it just suck?

Everywhere you look there are people making false claims, bigging themselves up, donning tin tiaras and getting drunk (and rich) on the illusion of being special.

I’m sicker of it even than I’m sick of the trouble I perpetually land in when my finicky nostrils detect the concealed pile of shit and, goddamn it Diana, go and communicate the sensitive information to my mouth which of course then vomits out the obvious question: what the fuck you trying to pull?

If you think I make a lot of friends this way, you’d be dead wrong. It’s not the kind of thing people generally thank you for, even the people you have just dragged half conscious from the pile of Bullshit, upon which they were about to choke.

And that is what I find even weirder:  the desire to swallow Bullshit: whole.

Logically, it would progress therefore, that both the purveyor and consumer of Bullshit are getting off on the exchange somehow.

Here’s a little example, not one of the Big 4 Bullshit Artists teasingly referred to above, but of some silly twat I’ll never see again, and who will most likely never see this.

I think I’ll even give her real name here, which if I remember correctly, was Venus (depends what you mean by “real” I guess) which makes it just that bit more amusing.

At a recent gig of “healing sounds” in Camden Town, in which I’m proud to say I was the only performer whose spiritual lyrics included the word FUCK, I met Venus out on the patio by the canal after I’d sung.

Gushy and wuvvy at first, she somehow managed to steer the conversation towards “living saint” Amma, (you know, the one that hugs) with whom she had clearly become recently infatuated.

I always bite my tongue at least one and a half times before saying what I really think, when someone is spewing Bullshit, in order to give them a chance to voluntarily emerge from the mental sewer and start either talking sense or about the weather. And so I did.

Unfortunately for Venus, she didn’t take the hint and kept talking about Amma. Finally, she shoved her watch in my face, which had Amma’s face on its face. This was too weird; a timeless divine being telling the time. Priceless. As I’m sure Venus would agree.

Pitying the lacerated sides of my tongue I ventured forth with the mild remark, “uh…I’m not really into gurus you see…” To which Venus, glowing from within, replied knowingly “…ah yes, that’s just how I used to feel! But then I met Amma and felt such divine love ..”

I couldn’t hear the rest because a humongous volcano of Bullshit erupted at that very moment, coating us all in a fine layer of putrid filth.

Politely ignoring the stench and inhaling deeply on my fag (part of the reason I smoke is for sensory survival in situations such as these) I decided to risk continuing. Maybe Venus was ready to hear the truth after all.

In my mind I flashed upon an exposé I had read of the whole Amma cult in which it was pretty well inarguably demonstrated that her image, hugging shtick, and Western presence had been skillfully stage-managed by PR professionals.  Having been to India and seen the enormous commerce in gurus that thrives there, this made sense to me. I also recalled a personal account of a horrific visit to her ashram in India by a well-trusted friend whose observations are on the level.

Maybe I should break it to Venus gently?

Nah.

Best just spill it.

“..actually…” I countered, “..I believe that Amma’s mission is a carefully constructed example of the corporatization of Indian spiritual culture…”

I would have said more but to my surprise, 10,000 volts of electricity suddenly coursed through Venus’s slender frame, jettisoning her from a cross-legged position next to me to a warrior stance about 12 feet NE of her former situation.

“I’m NOT having this conversation!” she said with a holy defiance that owed a lot to popular representations of Jean D’arc.

Thanks to my terrible addiction to tobacco, I was still extremely calm, extremely cross-legged still, and still by the canal. I spoke quietly.

“It’s OK. You can close your mind any time you want.” (puff)

Venus/Joan, gripped her invisible sword in its scabbard and spoke with the conviction of a thousand martyrs.

“But my HEART is open!”

(Oscar nod.)

(puff)

“..well, it’s not really an either/or you know. You could always go for both.”

(puff)

I wish I could remember Venus’s exact words that follow but my chief recollection is of spontaneously diving into the canal, to wash off the thickly caked layers of Bullshit that were starting to congeal on my favorite pashmina, and all I could hear from beneath the water was this WHOMP WHOMP oscillating thrumming as her distorted face collapsed and kaleidoscoped, shape-shifting through the entire pantheon of Durgas.

The general gist though was that the mind couldn’t be trusted whereas the heart could.

I do not concur.

“…I think you’ll find,” I continued in what I hoped was a reasonable tone of voice, “..that actually the mind is a terribly useful tool, particularly when the heart gets confounded. Abandoning the intellect in order to have a ‘spiritual experience’ doesn’t seem like a smart move to me.”

(puff)

Venus was still trembling with incandescent self-righteousness; she was the defender of the grail, the keeper of the key, she was the Cathars at Montségur, she was Sally Field in Not Without My Daughter!

I could only really see her out of the peripheral vision of my right eye at this point. Once the chapatti flour of her half-baked convictions had mingled with the peroxide of my skepticism and the resulting explosion had blasted her across the deck, I saw no reason to twist from the direction I’d originally been facing, with the result that she was holding court with my right shoulder, whilst I studiously addressed the barge hitching-post in the centre of my field of vision.

Remembering that she was a New Age Mamma Bearing Unconditional Love, I believe she then said something along the lines of: “Peace sister, we don’t have to agree.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” I affirmed to the hitching-post.

(puff)

We smilingly avoided one another for the rest of the evening. (That is, Venus and I – the hitching-post cleverly stayed put.)

What have we learned from this object lesson?

Well, to me it’s simple: bullshitters peddle bullshit for various reasons, most to do with money, fame, prestige, sex, and the other popular void-stuffers that mask the gaping, aching, hole within.

Bullshittees swallow bullshit because they (think they) need to be fed things to believe in that not only don’t require proof, but which reject the very idea of proof at all. Why else would Islam be the fastest-growing religion in the world despite its obvious flaws? Why? – because it’s the mack daddy of all responsibility-abdicating faiths with its unshakeable tenets that govern practically every situation of life. If you wanna come on this ride folks, please leave that pesky brain at the door.

Maybe that’s what’s always bugged me about the word “believe” – it’s almost like an admission that you are putting your trust in something that’s as likely to be cubic zirconium as diamonds. You’re saying you don’t care; that the buzz you get from thinking you’re wearing real diamonds is worth being duped.

So, then maybe it’s not even worth bothering to enlighten the willing victims of a confidence trick, maybe there’s no point in busting people whose endless tangled lies and manipulations waste countless precious hours and generate fathomless tears.

But what else you gonna do?

Sit there covered in Bullshit? Lapping it up happily like pigs in…uh… shit?

I can’t tell you what to do, but in the immortal words of Hall and Oates I can definitively state that: I won’t go for that/no-wo-wo-oh/no can do

The bummer, of course, is that when you reject Bullshit, you can for sure expect one thing: for your trouble, you are going to get a lot of shit. 

As I once said, un-ironically, to myself, upon having a heavy bowel movement whilst high on ayahuasca and realizing that there was no toilet paper in the cubicle: 

oh shit!

The Bitter Taste of George Clooney’s Coffee Ads for Nespresso

May 1, 2010

I’m a happy whore!

I just found out George Clooney is a whore. No seriously. Yeah, I know you probably thought, as I once did, that he was one of the cooler of the Hollywood stars; one who dared to go out on a limb with risky agenda movies, was politically astute and not just a shallow, jaded, vain piece of shit who will shove his mug in front of just about any camera in order to push absolutely whatever evil soul and planet destroying product some corrupt bastard is trying to ram down naïve consumers’ throats, as long as he gets paid enough.

But I was wrong. Because that’s exactly what he is: a totally shameless sell-out Corporate whore whose endorsement of Nespresso in Italian adverts has seen sales of their satanic machines sproing skywards by a CEO-drool covered and quite simply staggering 35.5%.

So what, you might be thinking? Well if you have a soul and are not an unfeeling, unthinking, moronic, automaton with shares in Nestlé or Mr. Clooney himself, you will soon be just as enraged about this as I am. Please keep reading.

Putting aside for one moment the obvious question as to WHY a person of his enormous personal wealth and choice of juicy film roles would stoop so low as to star in ads flogging ANY product, let alone this one (which I will return to later), let’s look at why Nespresso is a particularly bad product  to promote for any one who claims to have a social conscience. I am totally amazed that none of George’s advisers tried to talk him out of revealing for all the world to see just what a phony, hypocritical, greedy and thoughtless scumbag he really is. This has GOT to have massive negative repercussions on his public image, and quite frankly I am doing all I can to ensure that this is the case, and I hope that after reading this you will join me in this divine mission.

Firstly, let me acquaint you with the Nespresso machine, designed for the germ-phobic, health-and-safety mad, lazy, convenience-crazed, culture we have not just “become” but certain people are determined to turn us into. Corporations and advertising agencies (and Hollywood movie stars) are making a lot of money out of selling heaps of flashy rubbish that turn human beings into slavish consumers who are afraid to get their hands dirty.

For those who have never seen one, which seems unlikely considering their near ubiquity, Nespresso is an automated espresso maker that utilizes (and requires) pre-measured vacuum sealed coffee portions in circular pods that are popped into a neat little cubicle on top. Slam down the lid, and then all you have to do is get a plastic cup and stick it underneath, press a little button with a picture of a cup of coffee on it and hey presto – instant espresso!

You’ll notice that when you first open the pod capsule on top, to put in the new coffee pod, this neat thing happens where an ingeniously designed plastic lever-type article, sort of flips the old, used pod into some kind of invisible chamber behind it, which is of seemingly limitless capacity. (Or maybe you just never work late enough to see the night cleaners empty the fucking thing.) But as many environmentalists have pointed out – there is no “away” when you throw something away, as the Great Pacific Garbage patch, estimated to be the size of Texas, amply demonstrates.

There is a tremendous amount of packaging and boxes within boxes involved in the Nespresso machine and its pods, and rather than being an innovative product, in fact it does a job that people have had very little trouble doing for thousands of years with the minimum amount of resources. Nespresso is firmly positioned on the bottom level of the lowest and worst category of products,  i.e.  a pointless gadget nobody needs that is also environmentally destructive. Not only is it about the most un-green product imaginable, capable of unnecessarily “simplifying” something that can easily be done a million other ways (and better!) by devices that do not create any waste, but it is also a Nestlé company!

How can Mr. Clooney, highly-paid Hollywood whore, claim to care about Africa with his high-profile pleas on behalf of Darfur, whilst simultaneously doing ads for a company that is still the subject of an International boycott over its baby milk products that have caused an estimated 1.5 million infant deaths in starving Africa? Nestlé’s involvement in the coffee industry likewise, is equally dubious and suspect. They are featured on Corporate Watch as being guilty of massive corporate crimes  from heinous labour violations to I-don’t-give-a-shit environmental practices and are even implicated in the deaths-by-assassination of several Union organizers. Only a single Nestlé product out of 8,500 brands has been awarded the “Fair Trade” certification, a token effort of epically cynical proportions that was greeted with a lot of hullaballoo and was solely perpetrated in order to cash in on what Bill Hicks might’ve called “the Green Dollar”.

So let me spell it out for you. I guess the benefits, if you can call them that, of the Nespresso device, are that you can make a reasonably OK cup of Joe, without: cleaning, needing to know anything about coffee, being able to hold a spoon, or read.

‘Course it’s useless without the little aluminium coffee pods. But that’s OK because, as you might have guessed, you can buy them exclusively from the Nespresso Corporation!

All of this is great news for Nespresso but devastating for Bialetti, the makers of the original stove top espresso pot, still unsurpassed in quality, durability, and the cup of coffee it makes and which is both a modern design classic and environmentally clean. In fact, it looks like their company is going under as a direct result of Nespresso’s Clooney-assisted success.

That’s equally bad news for the residents of Omegna, the town that has been manufacturing Bialetti espresso pots since 1919. These cleverly simple steel pots are the perfect blend of form and functionality, and are frequently referred to as an “icon” of design; one is even on display in NY’s Museum of Modern Art.

So it is both good to look at and does an excellent job while lasting pretty much for ever and at the same time is a family-run business that has been an important part of the economic and cultural life of a quaint, ancient Italian town for over 90 years.

At the risk of sounding like a plugger for the company: the Bialetti unquestioningly does make an unrivalled cup of espresso that far surpasses the offerings of machines like Nespresso, which are never quite hot enough. A friend of mine who travels to Africa a lot has taken these pots over there as they work in any situation in which you can generate a heat source from below, including of course over open fires. Try that with a Nespresso.

Of course, the Bialetti company, like many traditional Italian and artisinal others, has been savagely struck by the recession. But Nespresso’s  sales surge is seen as one other directly corresponding cause of Bialetti’s decline. And Mr. Clooney’s involvement in Nespresso’s ad campaign  must not be under-estimated.  You just have to look at the timing of the ad releases and the spike in sales to satisfy yourself that there is a direct link.

In addition to that there’s the sensorial anorexia that such a product proposes. Although the Nespresso ads featuring George Clooney make a big hill of beans (sorry) out of the intense and sensual aroma of the final product, the very usage of a vacuum-sealed espresso pouch robs the user of another of the key sensual delights of making a cup of coffee and that is smelling and handling the freshly ground beans!

For heaven’s sake, have we become such a hyper-sanitized culture that the thought of spooning out heaping mounds of gorgeous rich brown grounds, which have a special aroma all their own, is to be shuddered at because it carries with it the icky possibility of spilling a few on the floor that you have to clean up later? Is that the experience from which Nespresso and George Clooney are trying so valiantly to rescue me? You know, it’s shit like this that defines the moment, on whatever nefarious graphs evil advertising agencies employ whilst hatching their dastardly schemes, when “consumer” replaces “human being.”

Who on earth is trying to create the kind of sick, zombified and helpless population that would want such a device? Duh. The company that makes it and those that are hired to make it sell. And, evidently, George Clooney.

Fuck! If ONLY Bill Hicks were still around (a sentiment I feel far too often)…

And if that wasn’t enough, Clooney’s bad coffee karma even has another side-dimension. In December of last year, Nespresso was sued by rival company, Lavazzo, claiming that the whole Nespresso ad campaign featuring Clooney, was a rip-off of one of Lavazzo’s ads in the first place. So these ad agencies are poaching concepts off each other, Nespresso is helping put Bialetti out of business whilst polluting the earth and George Clooney, the Hollywood star with a heart of green, is pocketing what was surely an enormous fee in order to help bring about this catastrophic sequence of events.

I was actually willing to believe that perhaps Clooney was somehow unaware of the contradictions in his very publicly avowed concerns about the environment and Africa and the Nespresso ad campaign, that some spectacular blunder on the part of his advisory team had resulted in him genuinely not knowing about Nestlé and the ramifictions of his moonlighting for them.

However, a little research dug up a story going all the way back to 2007 shows that not only is Clooney keenly aware of Nestlé’s well-deserved bad reputation but attempted to distance himself from their activities with these immortally feeble lines:

I’m not going to apologize to you for trying to make a living every once in a while“, he said to a pesky reporter at a Venice press conference, at which he was promoting the film Michael Clatyon, who dared to ask him how he could reconcile his Nespresso ads with promoting a film which claims to expose corporate corruption? Just to remind you of the plot, or for those people who had already decided they didn’t want to watch George Clooney movies a long time ago, Michael Clayton is described on Wikipedia as chronicling

the attempts of attorney Michael Clayton to cope with a colleague’s apparent mental breakdown and the corruption and murderous intrigue of a major client of his law firm being sued in a class action case involving toxic agrochemicals.”

Leaping hypocrites Batman!

He continued to rebuff the reporter by going on to say, “I find that an irritating question,” and was reported to be unsmiling throughout.

What happened to that cute and cheeky little grin with which he’s helped shift so many Nespressos? I guess he didn’t feel that this role required it. Though how he could be so clueless as to seriously think he can convince people that without the Nespresso gig he’d be reduced to selling oranges by the side of the freeway on-ramp remains a baffling mystery!

We are talking about a guy who earns $25 million a go, for spending a few weeks basically playing a fancy version of “let’s pretend”,  in between being pampered like a prize-winning Persian show-cat and doted upon by fawning sycophants in ways that are almost too morbid to think about.

Why in the name of everything right and good and strong and beautiful; why in the name of the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars and the sea; why in the screaming, twisted, contorted, bloody FUCK does he need to make a little extra dough on the side by pimping himself out to the likes of Nespresso?

Meanwhile, George Clooney’s impressive PR spin has him winning plaudits for his supposedly pro-environment stance, and photo-opp driven work on behalf of Darfur. I found one stomach-churning such piece of filthy, starstruck, rubbish on a site called Renewable Planet, here’s the link if you can handle reading the entire thing http://www.therenewableplanet.com/green/celebs/george-clooney.aspx

If not, here is a choice quote, from within the “Celebrity Greenographies” section – greenwash/hagiography is more like it:

More and more, Clooney seems to be getting into this environment thing, showing love for eco-friendly gadgets, like the Commuter Cars Tango, which gets 135 miles to a charge. He was reportedly the first to own one. In typical Clooney fashion, he then set his sights on another fast-moving beauty, more specifically the $100,000 Tesla Roadster, which runs entirely on electrical power and gets the equivalent of 150 miles to the gallon”.

So because he’s rich enough to afford some Top Gear-level high-performance car which also happens to save some apparently desperately-needed cash on the gasoline, he’s an ecologist? What?

And if you haven’t tossed your cookies yet, this gooey ego-wank goes on to conclude:
Showing compassion for life and the environment, when it’s clear from his looks and charm that he doesn’t need to gain popularity votes, it’s obvious why George Clooney keeps topping the hot lists.”

I’ve already written a letter to the renewableplanet.com explaining the above and asking them to remove the piece, and I urge others to do so too.

Meanwhile, let’s all remember to boycott both George Clooney films and ALL Nestlé products, including the despicable Nespresso instant-toxic waste maker. A client of mine has one in the office and I’m ashamed to say I’ve used it on numerous occasions. Because I wasn’t fucking thinking. But now I am, and I’m going to ask him gently to get rid of it.

If Clooney wants a starring role as the Milky Bar Kid, fine – but that is one disposable flick that would be scored at the absolute tippity-top of my “must miss” list.

Note:  I am using the word “whore” in the sense of Definition 3, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.

It is not intended in any way to be a slur against sex workers.

Erratum:  An earlier edit of this post incorrectly identified the Nespresso pouch material as being made of plastic.  An eagle-eyed reader who knew their stuff spotted this and let me know that actually it’s aluminium, which is evidently worse. Thanks for that – I’m always happy to be corrected when I’ve gotten something wrong. I alway want my facts to be beyond reproach!

The Intense Phoniness of Today’s “Pan-Sexual” Pop Culture and Why I Hate It

March 13, 2010

Being gay is not an aesthetic choice, as far as my 30+ years of queer friendly experience tells me. Except for perhaps those most devastatingly lacking in any kind of unique identity or personal preference and the terminally indecisive, I cannot imagine any human individual adopting a sexuality that didn’t truly come from within. Many of my homosexual friends, of both genders, have endured years of internal torment, followed by family judgement and sometimes rejection, topped off by a lifetime of trying to escape clichéd representations of homosexuality in the media. They didn’t take this on because they were jumping on the latest trend-wagon. Except for a few flakey girls I’ve known who wanted to make themselves briefly more interesting, and not counting those MDMA parties we used to have in the early 90s, I do not think that same-sex love is something you just try on, like a pair of ‘ho shoes.

And then there were female pop stars.

Like however many million others, and counting, I have just donated an irretrievable 9 minutes of my life to the watching of Telephone, the latest work of dumbed-down genius by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé (any one else out there who finds her name incredibly stupid and irritating? not Lady Gaga – I mean the other one…). Already being spoken of as the wow-est ever thing since Thriller (which, for the record, marked the end rather than the beginning of my interest in that sad fuck Michael Jackson), the hyper-stylised herky-jerky efforts of one Jonas Åkerlund are nothing less than the epitome of high-concept vapidness. The whole thing is like some bastard accident that happened when the crew of an extravagant Pepsi commercial had a head-on collision with a soft porn shoot. Just to clarify, since the irony quotient of pop culture has reached acidic proportions, that is not a compliment.

Featuring a women’s prison population that looks like the entire working girl crew off Hollywood and Vine was busted at once, (and were somehow allowed to keep their street clothes on) the video attempts a 21st Century take on Natural Born Killer chic, with a tribade twist.

And you can dance to it.

Am I really the only person on the planet who finds this really fucking boring and juvenile?

There is just no excuse for sexualizing the horrible and terrifying world of incarceration. Having spent 5 days once in the county jail, I can tell you without reservation that it was by far the most dehumanizing experience of my entire life. Being raped in an alley was sexier than having to strip naked in a room full of other alleged criminals, watched by sadistic and sexually deviant officials. The highlight was having to pull apart the cheeks of my buttocks while bent over and coughing, in order to prove I hadn’t somehow stashed a gun or a crack pipe up there whilst in transit between the court house and the jail house, despite being handcuffed and surrounded by armed guards the entire time.

I wonder why “Gaga” chose not to riff on this rich and risqué corner of the prison life tapestry? Ooh la la – could a been so sexy, non?

I gather that the video, with its “plot” of mass murder by poisoning in a roadside diner and faux girlfriends B & G Thelmaandlouise-ing it in their “pussywagon”, is generally meant to be “edgy” (surely the most irritating adjective in rock journalism?) and “groundbreaking.” If so, the dangerous effect is rather undermined by the PG13 bleeping of naughty words like mutherfucker.

After a few years back in the UK the quaint American custom of bleeping out profanities for public broadcasting purposes looks especially so. I remember when everyone was going on about Sarah Silverman’s “hilarious” music-video love letter to boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel, entitled “I’m fucking Matt Damon!” Or perhaps that should be “I’m BLEEEEP Matt Damon!” Because try as I might, searching for uncensored, uncut, not for prime time, and any other strings I could think of that might lead me to what I imagined was the original track, I could never find anything other than “I’m BLEEEP Matt Damon!”

It was a clever cute idea, and Sarah S is obviously clever and cute. But humour that treats adults like children under the age of 10 is just never very funny. Not when the very joke that is being spun depends on a word like “fucking” that is then edited out and replaced by a loud BLEEEEP. It was interesting to read the comments on YouTube and notice how many other UK-based viewers were just scratching their heads and going, “Huh? LAME-O!”

The US drama Prison Break suffered from a similar reality-warping conceit: because this was a network and not a cable TV show, strict guidelines surrounding language were obviously in effect. The result was a surreally bizarre high-security penitentiary where the harshest insult ever uttered by multiple murderers on death row, with necks like Staffordshire terriers, was “sunuvabitch”.

Which brings us neatly back to the sick yet squeaky clean little she-jail universe created in the world of Telephone. Any sense of menace, of real darkness, true violence or insanity is completely eradicated every time Beyoncé’s shapely mouth utters the word “muthaBLEEEP”.

Not that genuine menace would have been any more original or interesting. Personally I’m sick and tired of what the artist formerly known as Stefani Joanne Germonata calls “Tarantino-inspired …violent melodrama glamour.” Then again, I despise the work of Tarantino. Call me square but any time big laughs are based around human brains being splattered on walls – I’m out.

The most “groundbreaking” and “edgy” thing I’ve ever seen on film remains, to this day, La Coquille et le Clergyman by Germaine Dulac and Antonin Artaud, back in 1928. It’s more shocking, exciting, disgusting, disturbing, erotically tense and morally ambiguous than anything that has ever aired on MTV.

Ever.

Funnily enough, when it was originally shown, Artaud was absolutely furious at what he perceived as director DuLac’s feminist weakening of the script.

It is still light years ahead of anything that has been shot since.