Archive for March, 2013

Two Unsuspecting Guys Take The New Renault Clio For A Test Drive

March 31, 2013

A quite clever car commercial.

Real wisdom

March 31, 2013
Jean-Jacques Rousseau by  by Maurice Quentin de La Tour (1753)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau by by Maurice Quentin de La Tour (1753)

Real wisdom is not the knowledge of everything, but the knowledge of which things in life are necessary, which are less necessary, and which are completely unnecessary to know. Among the most necessary knowledge is the knowledge of how to live well, that is, how to produce the least possible evil and the greatest goodness in one’s life. At present, people study useless sciences, but forget to study this, the most important knowledge.

— Jean Jaques Rousseau, cited in A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism of French expression. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought.

Best known works: Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and his On the Social Contract.

Rousseau was a successful composer of music, who wrote seven operas as well as music in other forms, and made contributions to music as a theorist. During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophes among members of the Jacobin Club.

Yolanda Charles and the Deep MO live

March 31, 2013

Yolanda Charles and the Deep MO live at London Bass 2012.

Is there anyone Yolanda Charles has not played with? Paul Weller, Robbie Williams, Marcella Detroit, BB King, Eric Clapton, Roger Daltry. Van Morrison, recording bass on a Michael Jackson session with Jermaine Jackson. Also working with Mick Jagger.

Yolanda Charles is headlining with Steve Lawson in Birmingham at Birmingham Bass Night II in May 2013.

The 360 Deal

March 31, 2013
The 360 Deal -- Andrew Dubber (ed)

The 360 Deal — Andrew Dubber (ed)

360 as in “360 degrees”. The full circle. As in, we’ll take a piece of everything, thanks. — Andrew Dubber

Let’s all get wise, get educated, and help kids in poverty in India while we’re at it, yes? — Steve Lawson

The 360 Deal is what record labels are now offering, not content to milk musicians dry on recording deals, they now want to control and bleed dry every aspect of a musician’s life, touring, merchandising, publishing, management …

When the exploitative nature of the record labels is well known, bands reduced to little more than indentured slave labour working on the record label plantation, the last thing they need is those same record labels to control every aspects of their lives.

Amanda Palmer left her record label because they wanted to control every aspect of her life, what she wore, what she looked like, what her music sound like. She has never looked back.

James Taylor had accountants scrutinise his record label. He found he was being ripped of big time to the tune of millions of dollars.

A good management team gets you the best deal. They are on one side of the negotiating table, the record company the other. How can you get a good deal when the record label is your management team? This is like being in an in-house company trade union.

The 360 Deal is a book, an idea of Andrew Dubber and Steve Lawson with Andrew as the editor, to counter The 360 Deal promoted by the record labels. 360 people from all aspects of the music business, record executives, music producers, academics, rock musicians, classical musicians, techies, DJs, each give 360 words. The people giving this advice, may differ, but the one thing they have in common is experience and a love of music.

$3-60 is the minimum price, you can pay more.

The money raised, all 100% of the price you pay, goes to Music Basti, a music charity based in Delhi helping poor kids.

One of their projects, a joint project with New Music Strategies, was Monkey on the Roof. Street kids in India were pulled in off the street and taught music. They could not believe it when folks came from England and wanted to record them.

How do you measure success? Degrading yourself on X-factor, or having the privilege of helping street kids through Music Basti?

The 360 Deal is published by LeanPub as an e-book, with all proceeds going to Music Basti (LeanPub have waived their fees). Publishing as an e-book has the advantage that it can be published before it is complete, to get the advice out there, then continually updated until complete.

If you have 360 words of advice, then please contact the editor Andrew Dubber.

We need someone to advocate piracy and sharing, someone on crowd sourcing, why you do not need a record label, the importance of social media.

My own thoughts on contributors: Imogen Heap, Amanda Palmer, Zoe Keating, Yolanda Charles, Rudolf Schenker (founder and lead guitarist German rock group Scorpions, author of Rock Your Life), Paulo Coelho (writer and strong advocate of piracy, former record executive, producer and songwriter), Save the Tumbledown Dick (importance of small venues for live music), The Barn (hosting live gigs).

Rudolf Shenker was told he could not be a rock guitarist, he was German and only Brits and Americans could be rock guitarists, he ignored the advice and followed his dreams.

Paulo Coelho ignored the advice he was given and followed his dreams.

That is probably the most important advice you can be given. Follow your dreams, give it a try, or spend the rest of your life regretting your humdrum life. Play music because you love it, because it gives you a buzz, not because it makes your famous, not because it makes your rich.

The 360 Deal is a New Music Strategies project.

Another New Music Strategies project is Any And All Records, a rather novel if not unique record label, one that does not rip off the artists.

Excellent advice, money donated to a charity, is a much better 360 deal than that being offered by the record labels.

Steve Lawson and Andrew Dubber are co-founders of New Music Strategies.

Steve Lawson is bass player, and has been known to indulge in some excellent music and have some interesting views on the state of the music industry.

Andrew Dubber is professor of music at Birmingham University. And congratulations Dubber (as known to all his mates) for making professor.

The Alchemist special edition

March 30, 2013
The Alchemist special edition

The Alchemist special edition

The Alchemist is a beautiful book about magic, dreams, and the treasure we seek elsewhere and then find on our doorstep. — Madonna

I remember receiving a letter from the American publisher, HarperCollins, which said that ‘reading The Alchemist was like getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the rest of the world still slept.’ — Paulo Coelho

Last year. just before Christmas, I saw a special 25th anniversary edition of The Pilgrimage, with a new forward by Paulo Coelho where he talked of sitting along the route and how many more pilgrims he saw than when he was at the spot when he walked El Camino de Santiago, a journey he describes in The Pilgrimage.

That is what I thought I saw last week, even though it clearly said, The Alchemist. It was only later, reflecting on why not a scallop shell on the front cover, did I realise my mistake.

I returned today, and asked could I change, Manuscript Found in Accra (which I can pick up any time), for the special limited edition of The Alchemist. They consented.

I am pleased I did. I mentioned seeing The Pilgrimage last year and asked they checked their stocks. Not a single copy in the entire book chain. I asked they check for The Alchemist. The result was the same, Nada.

Last year, Monetegrappa produced a special limited edition of The Alchemist pen to mark the centenary of Monetegrappa. There are only 1,987 of the pens, the year The Alchemist was published.

Easter paintings in Farnham Parish Church

March 30, 2013
carrying the cross

carrying the cross

taken down from the cross

taken down from the cross

I came across these painting last week, but the church was too dark to see them properly.

Today it was much lighter.

They were not originals, which I would love to see. There was no information on them, or if there was, I did not see any.

I suspect they are Stations of the Cross, but if so I only saw eleven and there should be twelve, but I may have missed one.

Note: There are twelve, one is of the Last Supper.

I have always been impressed by Stations of the Cross in churches, as in each church, they are different.

Today there was a large wooden cross, which is not usually in the church. I assume it appeared yesterday, Good Friday.

Man is fallen and will destroy the Earth

March 30, 2013
Man is fallen and will destroy the Earth

Man is fallen and will destroy the Earth

Are people good? Is humankind basically benign?

In our current belief system, which we might term liberal secular humanism, which has held sway in the West since the Second World War, and which promotes human progress and well-being, only one response is permitted: Yes, of course! Any suggestion that there might be something wrong with people as a whole, with Man as a species, is absolute anathema. But today, two circumstances come together to prompt me to pose the question once more.

The first is the ending, this week, of my 15 years as Environment Editor of The Independent. It has been a privilege beyond measure to work for so long for a wonderful newspaper which has put the environment at the heart of its view of the world. We are proud of all we have done about it, from raising the question, in 2000, of the mysterious disappearance of the house sparrow from London and other major cities – we offered a £5,000 prize for a proper scientific explanation, but the mystery remains – to devoting the whole of the front page, in 2011, to the then hardly recognised threat of neonicotinoid insecticides, now an obsession around the globe.

But there have been what you might call side effects. For if, over the past decade and a half, you have closely observed what is happening to the Earth, week in, week out, you may take a dark view of the future; and I do. The reason is that the Earth is under threat, as it has never been before, from the ever more oppressive scale of the human enterprise: from the activities of a world population which doubled from three to six billion in four short decades, between 1960 and 2000, and which, in the four decades to come, will probably increase by three billion more.

These activities are now wiping out ecosystems and species, across the world, at an ever increasing rate: the forests are chainsawed; the oceans are stripmined of their fish; the rivers, especially in the developing world, are ever more polluted; the farmland is rendered sterile of all but the monoculture crop by demented dosing with pesticides; the farmland insects and wild flowers and many of the birds have gone.

The vanishing species come from all locations and in all shapes and sizes: in South Africa last year, 668 rhinos were illegally killed for their horn, which has a soaring value in Asia because of the myth of its medicinal qualities, while in Britain in the next 10 years, the turtle dove, beloved bird, will go extinct. The trashing of the natural world is now a global phenomenon and, as the century progresses, it will combine and interact with another great human-caused threat, climate change, until the very viability of the biosphere, the thin envelope of life surrounding the Earth which supports us all, is put at risk.

People are doing this. Let’s be clear about it. It’s not some natural phenomenon, like an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. It’s the actions of Homo sapiens. What we are witnessing is a fundamental clash between the species, and the planet on which he lives, which is going to worsen steadily, and the more closely you observe it – or at least, the more closely I have observed it, over the past 15 years – the more I have thought that there is something fundamentally wrong with Homo sapiens himself. Man seems to be Earth’s problem child. We humans have always thought ourselves different in kind from other creatures, principally for our use of language and our possession of consciousness, but there is another reason for our uniqueness, which is becoming ever clearer: we are the only species capable of destroying our own home. And it looks like we will.

This is my perception, as I lay down the reins of environmental reporting. However, there is an additional motive for my raising this issue today, and that is the approach of Easter. If you were brought up a Catholic (as I was), Easter has a resonance which remains even if you have long moved away from the faith (as I have). It is the principal feast of Christianity, of course, far more significant than the much more commercialised Christmas, and it is so pivotal because it concerns Christianity’s essence, which is redemption.

In the Christian view of the world, Man is fallen, yet because of Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross on Good Friday, Man is redeemed. You may think of the idea of The Fall as simply the story of Adam eating the forbidden fruit, but such a myth is not of itself what has gripped some of the most powerful minds in history. Rather, the idea of fallen Man gives potent expression to that prominent part of the human character which has been observed, down the ages, with horror: our terrible potential for destruction, for causing suffering to others and, indeed, now, for destroying our own home (all of which liberal secular humanism prefers not to look at). In the Christian world view, humankind is not basically benign. People are not good.

But they can be redeemed. That’s the point, the unique selling point, if you like, of Christianity; and tomorrow, Easter Sunday, is its celebration. And what ceasing to be Environment Editor of this newspaper in Easter week has put into my mind is just how many people I have also observed, over the past 15 years, fighting hard to save the natural world – because, in some way, these are the redeemers of humankind.

I still think Man will destroy the Earth. It is a pessimistic valedictory note I offer, for you cannot focus closely on what is happening and not be a pessimist. But there is more to Man, I do accept, than simply a destroyer, and the pessimism is not unmitigated: the chainsaws may outnumber them, and the chainsaws ultimately may win, but the green campaigners were there, and they fought.

— Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy was for 15 years the Environment Editor for The Independent. This published on Good Friday was his valedictory thoughts.

Very cold day in Farnham

March 30, 2013
Farnham Parish Church

Farnham Parish Church

prayer cards for Paulo and Annie

prayer cards for Paulo and Annie

candles  for Paulo and Annie

candles for Paulo and Annie

The Alchemist special edition

The Alchemist special edition

Unlike last week in Farnham, no snow, but still very cold.

On the way there the sun came out for a brief spell. I thought just like spring, only it’s winter, then I thought no, it is spring, only just like winter.

Around the church, I though it is not that cold, no wind. But I think it must have caught the sun for a while and been out of the wind. As it was very cold when I left the church.

Inside the church, it was not as cold as last week, and much lighter. I tried photographing the Easter paintings they have. I tried last week, but too dark. It is a pity they are not originals, and no information about them.

Two candles lit, one for Paulo Coelho whose new book Manuscript Found in Accra has been released in time for Easter and for my lovely Greek friend Annie. At least, unlike last week, there were other candles to light from, and so I did not end up putting out the flames. Strange, all the candles appeared to have bene lit before. Two prayer cards writ.

On leaving the church, now very cold.

Last week, I picked up Manuscript Found in Accra ahead of publication. I wondered, would they change it for a special limited edition of The Alchemist. I saw it last week, and was thinking it was the special limited edition of The Pilgrimage which I had seen before Christmas. Yes, they would change it. Was The Pilgrimage available. No. Both it seems are rare limited editions, and so very pleased I did go back and change.

Late lunch in The Barn. Very sorry to hear they are moving, as a lovely building, but no one ventures down the alley, even though it is in the centre of town.

On leaving The Barn, even colder. Bus waiting, no long wait at the bus stop.

Dance Me to the End of Love

March 30, 2013

Dance Me to the End of Love by Leonard Cohen.

Banksy: Stations of the Cross

March 29, 2013
Banksy: Stations of the Cross

Banksy: Stations of the Cross

How appropriate for Easter, a Banksy entitled Stations of the Cross, but according to the Huffington Post, a fake Banksy.