The Flying Post
The Flying Post Sep/Oct 2012
Vol 2 Sep/Oct
offline issue Screens & Spectacles Vhils All The Fun in The Arms Fair Bandcamp Twittersphere+ More!â„˘
Politics Arts Music Culture
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Managing Editor Gustavo Navarro email@example.com Editor Oliver Tolkien firstname.lastname@example.org Photography Director Robert Darch email@example.com Art Director / Designer Nia Gould
on? 05 Neural Networks 2.0 06 jack's ways of the word 07 screen and spectacles 11 internet without computers - comics 13 ispy 17 Nowhereisland 19 vhils 23 band camp 27 all the
fun in the arms fair 29 twittersphere
firstname.lastname@example.org www.niaski.co.uk Contributing Designer Matthew Hall
Of all the issues we have put together this has been the toughest one yet. This issue’s
theme is the strange wonderland of the information highway and all the fascinatingly
crap things it has to offer. The Internet; in all its vastness and varying glory.
Your average UK resident spends more than 12 hours a week online. That figure
clearly shows that the World Wide Web has long been a part of our collective
conscience, an essential part of our daily routine. Without it information as we
Advertising To request a media pack contact:
know it (lots in small chunks) would cease to exist, and we would have to go back
to the labyrinthine world of encyclopaedias and libraries. In the absence of online
Front Cover: Vhils, New York
forums and comment sections we would be constantly sticking post-it-notes, like an annoying housemate, onto kitchen notice boards up and down the country. Imagine the chaos that would ensue!
Contributors: Mark Arnold, Whitey Fisk, Ben Wright, Jack Cunliffe, Patrick Cullum, Sam Way, Sean Flynn, Ed Tolkien, Catherine Smiles,
We’ve tried to tackle the Internet from as many angles as possible for this edition: firstly, Mark Arnold has analysed the power the Internet holds as a connectivity
Gus Navarro, Oliver Tolkien, Robert Darch,
tool in his complex piece Screens and Spectacles, whilst Sam Hall observes whether
Celia Navarro, Nia Gould, Benny Gromadski,
it is has altered the way we process information for good in Neural Networks. We
consider the effect it’s had on the music industry, and discern what the Internet would be like without computers in cartoon form. Photography director Rob Darch
Thanks: Mama Navarro for some very neat translation work, Nathan at NGNG Design for all the
has acquainted himself with the voyeuristic iSpy app, and Benny Gromadski ponders Twitter’s best parody accounts in our review section. However, as with each edition,
hook ups, Bikeshed Theatre and The Phoenix
there’s more to this issue than simply the theme: guest contributor Sean Flynn has
for continuing to support us and sponsoring
a darkly comedic piece about his visit to an Arms Fair, in a sort-of-follow-up to
partnerships, and to newcomers Minerva
our piece in the Nostalgia Issue. As well as that, Gustavo Navarro has an extensive
Streetwear and Get.Me Promotions. To everybody
interview with international graffiti artist Vhils, and selects a series of his favourite
that has patiently awaited this issue, to all the
shots from around the globe. We’ve also added a new section: What’s On (for which
independent record companies that continually send us fresh albums and make our days a little
we reacquaint ourselves with local DnB success story DJ Grafix) will introduce you
lighter with new music, and to Pat for making
to a selection of Exeter’s finest extra-curricular music, shows and theatre. It’s good to
the a world a more colourful place with his
be back. TFP
The Flying post welcomes all editorial submissions. No responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. All letter and submissions will be treated for publication and copyright purposes and subject to TFP’s right to edit and comment editorially. All rights reserved on entire content; nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Opinions expressed in articles are those of the author. Any similarities between persons or places mentioned or alluded to in the fiction and real places or persons living are purely coincidental.
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ARTS & CULTURE
Fred V & Grafix present GetMe (Cellar Door) 20th September
Alan Fitzpatrick, Rebekah and Chris Colburn (Exeter Phoenix) 26th October
Botallack o’clock (The Bikeshed Theatre) 18th September – 6th October
Exeter Phoenix Contemporary Open (Exeter Phoenix) 13th Sept – 1st November
Brand new promotion company GetMe land at the Cellar Door with a massive lineup of Drum & Bass heavyweights: Brookes Brothers return to Exeter to play alongside Inspector Dubplate and the boys from Hospital themselves. The night will be hosted by a selection of Devon’s finest emcees, with official Netsky Live host Script MC, former South West number one and Minerva head honcho Benny MC and GetMe resident and founder Siege MC. Upstairs in The Revelry there’s also Hip Hop, Reggae, Garage and more from Freddy Pimms and Mix Masta Mullet. What more could you want? Tickets available from www.undergroundtickets.net and Minerva Streetwear.
Dark Knights presents quite possibly the biggest and best techno lineup ever seen in Exeter. Alan Fitzpatrick, Rebekah and Chris Colburn alongside seemingly endless local support across five different rooms AND the Phoenix terrace (infamous setting of countless Dark Knights raves) will be powered by a Funktion One sound system. There must be few followers of techno worldwide who would not recognize Alan Fitzpatrick as one of the most influential artists of the moment, and those who do follow the genre have been duly impressed by this innovative booking. Also expect Funk, Breaks, House, Jungle and Drum & Bass. Tickets available from www. exeterphoenix.org
Botallack O’Clock is a new black comedy based on the life and death of the artist Roger Hilton CBE. For the last two years of his life, Hilton took permanently to his bed, where he continued to work, painting over the side of his bed on sheets of paper laid on the floor. A small down-stairs room in his cottage became his bedroom, living space and studio, where Hilton would work through the night with only his thoughts, his imaginings and a temperamental radio for company. Botallack O’Clock is a suspended hour of the night where Roger’s past and present combine with his vivid imagination and his tenacious personality, giving a funny, moving and thought- provoking insight into the creative mind of one of the unique voices in post-war British art. “Botallack O’Clock is a stunning miniature; surprising, profound and very very funny... a phenomenal and uncompromising performance by Dan Frost.” Time Out Critics’ Choice. Shortlisted for Best Fringe Play of 2011. Tickets available from www.bikeshedtheatre.co.uk
Over the last seven years, this exhibition has been a chance to see work by some of the most talented emerging artists, selected from hundreds of entries from across the UK and beyond. Last year’s exhibition included fifteen artists with a breadth of disciplines spanning painting, sculpture, print, photography, video and performance/live art work. Exeter Contemporary Open is the only Devonbased competition that is open to artists from across the country and indeed the world. The exhibition has established itself as one of the most exciting events in the South West’s cultural calendar, attracting thousands of visitors each year. A must-visit for all interested in supporting the prolific emerging talent of the art world, and lovers of art in general. Open exhibition.
Dan le sac
Acoustica Festival (Exeter Phoenix/ Cavern) 13th – 16th September
Dan Le Sac (Cavern Club) October 9th
This annual festival, held at the Exeter Phoenix, presents the best of alt-folk, folktronica and Americana, in a three-day culmination to events put on throughout the year, such as Villagers, Trembling Bells, and Jeffrey Lewis. The festival is in its third year after a successful debut in 2009, and is hosted at the thriving Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre. With over 60 acts booked to play over the four days in both the Phoenix and the Cavern, this should prove a great jolly and one not to be missed. Tickets available from www. acousticafestival.co.uk
Combining Hip Hop and spoken word, Dan le sac (famous collaborator with Scoobious Pip) has announced a UK tour (Dan Le Sac and Friends) in the wake of his critically acclaimed debut solo album, Space Between The Words, which was described as “an electric debut success to savour” by Shortlist. The pair’s satirical and witty style has been the stuff of legend over the years, and the musical half (Le Sac) should prove just as entertaining even when bereft of wordsmith Pip. The “idiot/producer/curmudgeon/ dj” (his own words) will put on a show well worth the £9 entrance fee. Tickets available from www.wegottickets.com
Fred v & Grafix present Getme
the Indian tempest
The phoenix contemporary open
John Court Exhbition (Spacex Gallery) – 29th September – 24th November Spacex presents the first UK solo exhibition by Finland based artist John Court. New works will be shown alongside drawings and performance produced over the last fifteen years. The exhibition will include a series of films and documentary, trace material from earlier performance works and a selection of sculptural (three dimensional) drawing works, some of which gallery visitors will be able to interact with. Spacex has also commissioned a new performance by Court that will mark the closing of the exhibition; viewers will witness Court pushing his body beyond technique and exhaustion, in a performance that will last for eight hours (a duration based on the time of an average working day.) Open exhibition.
The Indian Tempest (Northcott Theatre) 26th – 30th September One of the most thrilling and influential theatre companies to emerge out of the South West will be making a return to its roots this September, when internationally acclaimed Footsbarn Theatre perform Indian Tempest. With a strong flavour of Kerala, this rich and evocative reworking of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays is set on a timeless imaginary island - a world of spirits, shapes and monsters where music rules everything. It brings together magic and illusion, desire and romantic love, dreams and ambition, as well as treachery and torment all with more than a dash of comedy. Internationally renowned for their heady mix of traditional performing arts, street theatre, circus skills, mime, shadow play and carnival – Footsbarn has established a strong reputation as one of the world’s most ingenious touring troupes. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this spectacular show specially commissioned for the European Capital of Culture 2012. Tickets available from www.exeternorthcott.co.uk
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WAYs OF THE
Neural Networks 2.0
Calm, focused, undistracted. That’s the way you should be, that’s the way any seasoned reader is when presented with text. But the functioning of this lucid mind is changing into a new kind of mind that craves distraction. Before the advent of the Internet we were deep-sea divers of knowledge, bestowing hours within calm waters to understand a subject fully. But the Internet has shifted this habit to the extent that we are information junkies, fleeting from site to site, skimming the surface of subjects and outsourcing our internal memory. With its social networks, multimedia and hyperlinks, the Internet is changing the way we think, deeper still, it’s changing our neural circuitry – the hard drive of our mental functioning. Our brains are constantly changing in response to our experiences and behaviour, reworking their circuitry with each sensory input and shift of awareness. Our ability to do so is what has made humans so lofty on the evolutionary incline. But due to this plasticity, the nervous system is merging with electronic media, making a single larger system. As computers become an extension of us (and us an extension of them) we are now shifting the immediacy of experiences in another direction, away from meditative states of concentration and absorption. ‘Intellectual technology’, a term coined by social scientists Jack Goody and Daniel Bell to describe the tools we use to extend or support our mental ability, has seen no bigger manifestation than with the internet. And fringing on a dystopia that only the most cynical of Sci-fi writers may envisage, some would claim that as creators we have now become determined by our own inventions. “Things are in the saddle and are riding mankind,” wrote essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson in the mid-19th century, leaving human beings as “the carriers and sex organs of the machine world”, as put rather more crudely by media theorist Marshall McLuhan over a century later. The Internet creates an environment that stimulates the reactionary nature of our senses that feeds off raw sensory input, rapidly and involuntarily shifting our attention to salient visual features of potential importance. A new email, a tweet; a change in our environment that alerts the senses previously signalling danger or opportunity, now these same senses only scatter our attention. Aggravating this are multibillion pound companies that invest in this new culture of disjointed thought with internet browsers that create multiple windows of scenery and information, with inbuilt alerts to signal change.
‘What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization’ wrote Nicholas Carr in his recent synopsis of digital culture. ‘We are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest’. As technology evolves at an exponential pace we are becoming more primordial. “What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a ‘spark of life.’ It is information, words, instructions,” Richard Dawkins declared in 1986. Already one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, he was also unintentionally articulating the coming of a new age of information. Just like the Internet, the cells of an organism are nodes in a richly interwoven communications network, transmitting and receiving, coding and decoding. Evolution embodies an ongoing exchange of information between organism and environment. “If you want to understand life,” Dawkins wrote, “don’t think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology.” It is this information technology that is not only informing our intellect but also our evolutionary nature. Within the equivalent of a fleeting thought in the millions of years gone by, the machines that propelled us to faster rates of production, transnational communication and gratification are now compelling our ways of acting, thinking and perceiving. The argument holds that the Internet does not shape culture but merely reflects it – upon the black mirrors of our smart phones and laptops. But this point has gradually disappeared as the Internet has become our culture. This means, among other things, that we rarely talk about the Internet, only about what we’ve seen, heard or read on the Internet. It has become the carrier of the social and intellectual universe, the all-butimperceptible residue of the electronic big bang of a century past, so familiar and so thoroughly integrated within the developed world that we no longer notice the unnatural radiance of our screens or see the vast information forest for its pixels. Every technology disrupts then goes to shape its host culture. With the introduction of firearms comes the proliferation of warfare and with the proliferation of the Internet comes the introduction of a new way of thinking, a new way of being and, ultimately, a change in what it means to be human.
In a digital era defined by the ubiquity of the Internet, is the way we consume information changing for good?
Words by sam Hall
Xenolexica A grave confusion when faced with new words Dunandunate The chronic overuse of a new and impressive word Earworm A song or phrase that sticks in your mind Musuemhead The feeling one gets after concentrating for a long period of time, perhaps after an extended museum trip Nonversation A conversation in which nothing is learned Precuperation Recuperating before the illness strikes Parrotise A haven for exotic birds
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Xenolexica, Neology and the Internet. The dictionary in paper form is all but obsolete: the internet is now used to look up any unknown word, and the Oxford English Dictionary is available online in all its glory. There has never been an easier way of checking the spelling, pronunciation or meaning of a word before you throw it into the conversational fray; as such there is no excuse for the complete misuse of a word anymore. A sound (and entirely genuine) example of the risks involved in using unknown words without the aid of the internet occurred when a chap I know walked into a friend’s kitchen and, upon seeing said friend’s mother, exclaimed with sincere enthusiasm: ‘Emma, you look absolutely repugnant’. A respect – a fear, even – of long or disorientating words is common in British culture. When just such a lengthy word is used, one which we do not understand, we nod along in grave confusion, hoping that some sort of meaning will be revealed to us before we are caught out. Of course, the golden rule is that you must never ask someone the meaning of a word mid-conversation: precisely what the pretentious pricks want you to think. You must squirm in your ignorance, ‘lose’ the conversation, get the hell out of there and find some Wi-Fi. Xenolexica is what is currently called a Non-Word; it is on the dictionary standby list, and only with frequent use will it force its way in. This standby list is full of highly expressive and useful words which have not yet been brought to attention; I will attempt to do so meekly now, by highlighting in the following passage a choice selection of these words in italics. If you suffer from Xenolexica, please proceed with caution.
When Boris Johnson was asked if he was Xenolexic, he attacked the journalist, his abject fury matched only by his trademark confusion. (Indeed, when Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg used the word floccinaucinihilipilification in Parliament, the blatant and hysterical Xenolexica of most present was clear). As soon as Boris had learnt this word, he could not stop working it in to almost every fraught discourse, slipping into the tragic and self-flagellating realm of dunandunation. To dunandunate is to use a word recently added to one’s vocabulary repeatedly to seem in some way cerebral but, in effect, sounding off like a bit of a wanker. ‘Xenolexica... mmm’. Back to Boris, who seemed by now to have a bad case of Earworm and found it almost impossible to stop vigorously repeating his new and stimulating words, timed to the powerful beat of his legs as he punished his bicycle pedals with rhythmic and fiercely efficient down-force. ‘Words words words,’ he muttered to himself mutinously, ‘words and politics’. Boris had museumhead; he could not think straight and every conversation these days seemed to him like a nonversation – unless he was being xenolexic with the chaps down the pub. He felt safe there. He could sense a great sickness approaching; this relentless confusion either fired him up or made him terribly ill, and he’d been fired up quite enough for the month. So he decided a little precuperation was in order. Boris was sick of politics: sick of trying not to be caught out, sick of concealing his cogent bigotry under a veil of perpetual but endearing blunder, but most of all, he was sick of all the other politicians ruffling up his hair and calling him cute. ‘By Jove!’ Boris thought ruefully, ‘I wish I could just sprout wings, leave this mess behind and fly off to Parrotise’. Boris receded into the West-London sunset with confused grace, gliding along on his bicycle like a two-wheeled swan, to dream of Parrot paradise and simpler days of trees and fruit.
Words by jack cunliffe Illustration by Patrick Cullum | patrickcullum.com
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>>Investigating the impact of twenty-first century communication technologies like social media and smartphones on consciousness, Mason invokes the emergent subjectivity of the ‘networked individual’. Through technology, networked individuals are simultaneously liberated from reliance on parochial, hegemonic mainstream media and entertainment, and empowered to communicate ideas, events and information freely and instantaneously with other networked individuals around the world. Mason argues that “when doomed graduates, precarious workers and the poor use social networks to coordinate protests, they are waging a human fight-back against the atomizing effects of the modern marketplace.” Moreover, this networked individualism can be seen in terms of the autonomist Marxist tradition in which all spheres of life (education, community, the home, environment, leisure etc) “are all sites of exploitation and thus potential conflict” (Roy Revie), and “the technical instruments used by capital to decompose the unity of the working class can be converted into means for its recomposition” (Antonio Negri). “What if ”, Mason asks (observing the autonomous proclivities within social media and the contemporary protest movement), “instead of waiting for the collapse of capitalism, the emancipated human being were beginning to emerge spontaneously from within this breakdown of the old order?”
screens & spectacles Democracy, the Internet and the ‘Networked Individual’ How has the internet shaped the way in which we respond to, and communicate, the shifting political sphere? In a society, and indeed a world, where instant interconnectivity has become inherent thanks largely to the world wide web, have we finally reached a state of comprehensive public empowerment, or has the ease with which information is disseminated rendered us more passive than ever?
In Paul Mason’s thought-provoking recent book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions, he reviews and attempts to make sense of the tumultuous events of 2011, from the Arab Spring to Occupy, and explores how global financial crisis, modern communication technologies, new demographic groups and even new kinds of subjectivity link these events and movements in ways that could portend the emergence of radical new social, political and economic relations between people.>>
Similarly Dan Hind argues that “modern technology is making it possible to reconstruct some of the features of a public society. Social network sites have offered opportunities for politically motivated publics to find one another – a process that clearly played a part in preparing the way for the uprisings in the Middle East, for example.” Hind delineates the characteristic differences between “public communications” and “mass communications”: The archetype of public communication is a conversation between equals. In a public society ‘virtually as many people express opinions as receive them’ and ‘communications are so organized that there is a chance immediately and effectively to answer any opinion expressed in public’. Citizens can
“In 2010 nineteen million people from across the Middle East and North Africa joined Facebook, prompting Mubarak to shut down first Twitter, and then the Internet”. also translate its opinions into effective action – the public can change policy as its opinions change. In contrast “[t]he archetype of mass communication is a broadcast that delivers one unanswerable voice to millions of listeners. There is little or no scope for individuals to answer back to the messages they receive.” Obvious comparisons between TV and the internet, or between mainstream media and networked citizen reporting, reaffirm Mason’s hopeful autonomist paradigm. However the incessant flux of information and communication on the Internet is not necessarily as straightforwardly empowering as Mason’s technological determinism and Hind’s optimism might suggest. Jodi Dean argues in her essay ‘Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Politics’ that “networked communication technologies... [in the context of] communicative capitalism… are profoundly depoliticizing.” To understand how this can be, firstly let’s understand what is meant by ‘communicative capitalism’: “Communicative Capitalism designates that form of late capitalism in which values heralded as central to democracy take material form in networked communications technologies. Ideals of access, inclusion, discussion and participation come to be realized in and through expansions, intensifications and interconnections of global telecommunications. But, instead of leading to more equitable distributions of wealth and influence, instead of enabling the emergence of a richer variety of modes of living and practices of freedom, the deluge
of screens and spectacles undermines political opportunity and efficacy for most of the world’s peoples.” Dean argues that multiple widespread fantasies, animated by the fetishisation of technology, occlude the potential for meaningful political engagement even for very well-meaning individuals. People “believe that they are active, maybe even that they are making a difference simply by clicking on a button, adding their name to a petition or commenting on a blog. Zizek describes this kind of false activity with the term ‘interpassivity.’ When we are interpassive, something else, a fetish object, is active in our stead. Zizek explains, ‘you think you are active, while your true position, as embodied in the fetish, is passive…’” Dean perceives the increasingly prolific circulation of information, ideas, reporting and so on that Mason and Hind are optimistic about in much more sinister terms: “activity on the Net, frantic contributing and content circulation, may well involve a profound passivity, one that is interconnected, linked, but passive nonetheless.” The resultant “shift in the basic unit of communication from the message to the contribution” debases communication itself as messages no longer require responses, broadening, facilitating, even legitimising the complete disconnect between “official politics” and “politics circulating as content.” As Roy Revie notes: “To be happy with the circulation of messages having no impact on power, to fetishize the technology and ignore the impact would indeed be to internalise and enact hegemony – to be allowed, like children playing with a toy tea set, a sphere of politics separate from politics-proper, while the adults get on with the real thing.” However there are many alternative readings of this disconnect. In refutation not of Dean’s argument, but of the prevalent intellectual dismissal of ‘slacktivism’, Zeynep Tufekci writes that “[t] he reality, at this juncture in history, is that nothing really works. The Internet is not the problem; global citizen disempowerment is. It’s not the technology
that is failing politics but it is our politics that has failed… Political activism is not failing because people are too busy watching cat videos online [or indeed signing petitions or writing blogs], but because of a fundamental collapse of citizen leverage on institutions of power like governments and corporations.” Though it may seem so Tufekci is no defeatist, however, later claiming that “[t] hrough a confluence of design, history, technology and economics, the Internet is amongst the potentially most empowering technologies we’ve got”, and that “the focus should be on how to build the infrastructure of citizen empowerment, while keeping in mind all the warnings” that Dean and others warn of. Wikileaks, the purpose of which is to induce such fear of disclosure as to create a climate in which conspiracies cannot function adequately to adapt to their environment, is a fantastic example of such empowerment: “[w]hen open networks are the norm, those without secrets, without the need for conspiracy, hold the advantage” (Revie). Another is the politics that has spilled out from the social networks and onto the streets. During 2011 the media focus on austerity was dramatically reconstituted into a discourse on income inequality, financial greed, corruption and tax evasion by a vibrant and creative protest movement, most notably Occupy and (in the UK) UK Uncut. These movements would not be possible (certainly not in their present forms) if it were not for the Internet and, to a large extent, social media. To begin with Occupy is a global movement, which having begun in the US emerged worldwide on 15th October 2011 during a coordinated protest in around 1000 cities in over 80 countries across the world. This level of coordination, solidarity and viral protest is greatly facilitated by, if not impossible without, social media and Web 2.0. The genesis of UK Uncut (which has accumulated numerous achievements, notably the resignation of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) boss David Hartnett, and the spin-off group UK Uncut legal action, which is challenging HMRC and Goldman Sachs in court over their dodgy tax deals) was a protest that went viral:
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“It is too soon to start blaming the Internet for being “profoundly depoliticizing”, and far too soon to give up on its revolutionary potential”. “At that point, UK Uncut only existed as #ukuncut, a hashtag someone had dreamed up the night before the protest. As we sat in the doorway, chanting and handing leaflets to passers by, the hashtag began to trend around the UK and people began to talk about replicating our action… Just three days later and close to thirty Vodafone stores had been closed around the country.” (UK Uncut) Both movements use the Internet to plan and develop: UK Uncut lists future actions taking place all over the country, so people can locate nearby actions and become involved with the movement locally, or indeed plan their own actions and get people involved. Occupy LSX’s website enables you to submit proposals and discussion topics to be included in general assemblies and work-groups, allowing people to contribute to the movement in and around their daily lives. We are all familiar with the role of social networks and Web 2.0 in the Egyptian revolution, and I don’t wish to dwell on it, but in arguing the revolutionary potential of the Internet I can’t pass it by. Mason calls it “a revolution planned on Facebook, organized on Twitter and broadcast to the world on YouTube.” Whilst this certainly exemplifies Mason’s own technology fetish (obvious throughout his book), it is clear that, even though the revolution would have happened anyway, in some ways this is the case, and it’s intriguing to note that in 2010 nineteen million people from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) joined Facebook, and that in order to try and quash protests, Mubarak shut down first Twitter, and then the Internet.
I have recently joined the (interim) International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS). IOPS “is a revolutionary organization that aims to win a better world through flexibly exploring and advocating long term vision, building the seeds of the future in the present, empowering the lives of its members, organizing in an internally classless and self-managing way, and winning changes in society that better the situations of suffering constituencies while also laying the ground work for more changes, and construction, to come.” Whilst in its very early stages this is a promising new network that will continue what has been started: to bridge the gap from online networks into real political organisation and struggle (one hope is it “may have a promising future as a supplement to the disorganized Occupy movement.” Al Jazeera). In an interview with Al Jazeera Michael Albert, one of the co-founders of IOPS, was asked if it would indeed make the transition from the digital to the real world. He responded that “there is, now, a website - digital - making it easy to learn about IOPS, and, if interested, to join it... [but] the aim is that IOPS will have face-to-face chapters in cities, and when it gets big enough, even multiple chapters in cities, which will in turn be federated into city and then national chapters, and then in turn federated into the international organisation”. Please visit www.iopsociety.org if you are interested in finding out more about and potentially joining the interim International Organisation for a Participatory Society (IOPS). Once enough members are using the site, we can begin to develop its potential. UK Uncut Legal Action have so far raised £17,000 for their legal case against HMRC and GoldmanSachs. If you feel you can donate just £1, please visit www.ukuncutlegalaction.org.uk to contribute.
Words by Mark Arnold
Every issue of The Flying Post is tenderly and painstakingly crafted, for free. The whole team loves this magazine like some kind of strange, multi-parental child, and is happy to pour hours, days and weeks into the content, design and production of this publication. But we need help. This mag has been running since 1773, and has taken many incarnations since its advent almost 250 years ago. It has been a political newspaper, a community magazine, and whatever the hell the thing you’re holding in your hands today is. Perhaps a distorted combination of the two? Anyway, we hope you enjoy reading our strange assortment of articles, and we wonder if any of them have inspired you to write something yourself? If so, we will always welcome any enquiry any of you may have with arms widespread; is there something bothering you in the political sphere that needs addressing; have you heard some great, unsigned music recently that deserves recognition; have you taken a picture that’s worthy of paper and not just endless blogspace; have you been somewhere, done something, met someone or felt something that you want to tell us about? We’d love to hear from you, and we’d love to give you the platform that all of us sought when we first set out on this journey. Please send any editorial to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and any photography to firstname.lastname@example.org. Many Thanks, TFP The Flying Post
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ispy images sourced by robert darch
iSpy Cameras allow you to view and control thousands of public video cameras from around the world in real-time from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Here, Rob Darch’s own illuminating selection of global images reveals the enormous scope and reachability of the app. But is this a good thing? Detractors will point to our already much-criticised Orwellian society and ask are we not watched enough? There is an undoubted – and sinister – element of voyeurism to the app, as the pictures reveal, but it is another sure indication of our now staggering technological capabilities, and the almost laughable ease with which this technology is accessed: in the words of Rob himself, “I love the idea that I can be sat in bed, and just have a nose at what is going on on the other side of the world.”
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“Nowhereisland is a nation without physical borders, and as citizenship is open to anyone, so it’s identity as a nation is without limits” place.’ These two meanings are bound together, in
(30,539). The project exists in its citizens; the island
anyone who looks at it, and the experience of feel-
an impossible contradiction, which dictates that in
looks outwards, its journey a description of our
ing the land beneath your feet may induce feelings
order for Utopia to exist, we can never find it.
own coastline. It also encourages an important
of ownership. The island is physically just out of
discussion about the shifting Arctic landscape –
reach – you can see it, but you cannot touch it or
north is perhaps more exotic than its reality. In
not just as an intangible idea, far removed from
stand on it. It belongs to everyone and no one. The
comparison to the green and fertile West Country
our lives in the UK, but to evidence that is brought
lack of ownership is central to the island’s Utopian
landscape it has been juxtaposed with during its
right before our eyes.
Of course, the idea of the island from the glacial
journey along Britain’s coastline, Nowhereisland is ©2012, max mcclure, courtesy situations (ABOVE AND ABOVE, RIGHT)
Nowhereisland is a floating island of rock dislodged from the Arctic, currently traversing the coast of South West England. During its epic journey to reach this Southern tip of the UK, it passed through international waters, whereupon it became the world’s newest nation Nowhereisland - with citizenship open to all.
very mysterious. When asked about the physical
write a constitution for an ideal nation. Every citi-
our flora could ever grow. Citizenship, on the other
nature of Nowhereisland, Hartley feels that this
zen can contribute, and though (often humorously)
hand, grows with each passing day, and its popula-
part of the island’s story should be kept a secret.
contradictory, the constitution is dynamic, with
tion now rivals that of Palau (21,000) and Monaco
Yet the desire to stand on the island is natural to
new suggestions added every day. Each proposition
amongst the citizens. Nowhereisland is a nation without physical borders, and as citizenship is open landscape that would eventually make the colossal
we begin? In 2004, artist Alex Hartley set out to
along the South West coast on a 500 mile journey,
journey over to the South. On the 20th September
answer that question. Fast forward to 2012, and
with Bristol the final destination on September 7th
2011, this new island was taken into international
a one-nation floating island from the Arctic is
this year. Pertinently, the Olympics and Paralympics
waters, beyond the jurisdiction of the Kingdom
journeying along England’s West Country coast.
are, by nature, nationalistic events; Nowhere Island
of Norway. Here it was declared its own nation:
Joined by its mobile embassy, this young nation
provides a platform to reflect on the way that we
has gained 20,330 citizens and counting, and citi-
define our territories, and what it means to be part
zenship is open to all.
of a nation.
law, environmental and political campaigners, an-
The mysterious landmass is part of an unmapped
During a celebration of mobility, an island that has
thropologists, psychologists, constitutional lawyers,
territory exposed by a retreating glacier in the High
journeyed from the edge of the world joins us too.
and many other prominent thinkers to discuss how
The project began following Hartley’s trip to the
they might go about creating a new society. Utopia,
to anyone, so its identity as a nation is without limits. The island will reach its 8th, and final port, Bristol on the 7th September, concluding its journey around the coast. To celebrate its full year as a nation, after an epic journey of over 2,500 miles, join Nowhereisland in Bristol Harbourside, where there
Hartley worked with specialists in international
human to stand upon it. Produced by Situations,
Arctic with conservational group Cape Farewell,
originally from the Greek ou-topos, translates as
Nowhereisland is the public art commission for the
during which he discovered the island ‘Nymark’
“no place” (or indeed, “nowhere”). But the word,
South West as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
(‘new ground’). Hartley and 18 volunteers decided
as we have come to know it today, denotes some-
to build a nation from scratch by excavating loose
thing rather more positive; it is almost identical to
material from Nymark, and building a floating
the Greek word eu-topos which translates as ‘good
the 25th July, to coincide with the Olympic and
barren and grey; a landscape so sparse that none of
most popular propositions based on their rankings
Paralympic sailing events, and has since travelled
Nowhereisland was moored in Weymouth on
As a citizen, you are given the opportunity to
can be liked or disliked, and you can search for the
If we were to begin a new nation, how might
Arctic. It was discovered by Alex Hartley, the first
There are aspects of the project that still remain
will be a host of talks and debates, with live music, film screenings, performances, and a citizen march. After leaving Bristol on the 9th September, citizenship will close, and a small portion of the island will be shared between each citizen. You can visit nowhereisland.org for more information on the project, to read and contribute to the collective constitution, and to join free of charge. ©2012, david bickerstaff, courtesy situations words by catherine smiles
/Entrevista com Alexandre Farto A.K.A. Vhils Interview with Alexandre Farto A.K.A. Vhils
‘My work is based on life in the contemporary cities constructed by people and where, paradoxically, there are few spaces for humans’ >>TFP met him back in 2011 to hear from his own mouth the reason and methods behind his work. Alexandre Farto A.K.A Vhils is, for his age, one of the most prolific artists in his field. His murals, compositions and serigraphs have been displayed across a number of countries, garnering widespread appraisal for his work. Despite the contemporary argument that street art has lost its edge due to its prominence into the mainstream, Vhils’ work remains
Where in the world are you now and where is your next project? Right now I’m in Lisbon, Portugal, but I am heading to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the next project. What are your artistic roots and what direction are you planning to take?
at the forefront of innovation, having recently pushed the boundaries of stencil further still through the ingenious use of controlled explosives. Alexandre’s work maintains the destructive and intervening elements of graffiti, but combined with painstaking detail in stencil, it conveys a meaningful message about our place in this so-called “Concrete Jungle”. >>
The core of my work is graffiti and it’s intervention in the urban space. I first started in the late 90s using graffiti in its most hard-core form, mainly on trains and street-bombing. That was my life for a few years. Gradually I expanded my horizons and became interested in other form of expression,
until I was introduced to the stencil technique. That opened a lot of doors for me. Stencil became an instrumental tool for the work I’ve developed since. Bringing together these two dimensions – the destructive element of graffiti and the stencil technique – has been fundamental to my work, the base for everything that followed since. The next step was when I began to grasp that instead of going over layers to create a composition I could, equally, create compositions through the stripping and removal of the these layers, inverting the technique by underlining the negative instead in place of the positive. The key idea was the creation of beautiful and poetic images through a destructive and violent process. In the last year I’ve taken things even further, through the use of controlled explosives to create mural compositions. What next – who knows? Whose faces are depicted in your murals? The great majority of the people portrayed are strangers. I really enjoy working with anonymous faces, and I give great value to this anonymity against the idea of creating icons based on known portraits, like in Warhol’s work. My work is based on life in the contemporary cities, constructed by people and where, paradoxically, there are fewer spaces for humans. The great majority of people who live in these cities have no way of expressing their individuality in public spaces. They’re crushed by the grey ambience; built up and under control of great burbs. Through portraits I try to symbolically develop something human in these over-saturated spaces.
I must confess that the faces that you portray have a ghostly quality. Is it your intention to have this effect? Not at all – the intention is quite the opposite. The intention is to give life to the city, to places where interventions are made. Maybe, the contrast between the lack of colour of the compositions and the saturation of colour that we are used to in advertising suggests this type of reading; however, it is not intentional. What is the objective behind your art? Why do you use different surfaces instead of a canvas? The fundamental concept is creating beauty through brutal and destructive methods and the resource to a variety of surfaces gives support to these methods and tools; this is one of the reasons these are chosen. Because I first started doing graffiti, for me, walls will always be the best place for invention. In my opinion, when you are used to large walls, it is difficult to go back to paint on the small canvas. But I’ve also painted on canvas and other very small surfaces – like a series of serigraphs I’ve produced over the last few years that are far from the mechanical process, because they have my personal touch. In another interview you’ve said that Age of Reason by Jean Paul Sartre is one of your favourite books. Is there an existential element to your work? Yes, it is true. There is an existential dimension to my work but it is not a reflective one. I don’t guide my work
The Flying Post
in accordance to the principles of existentialism. Having said that, much of my work tries to reflect an individual’s place in the urban environment in which he lives – in the sense that the human subject is in search of his place in the urban landscape. That is one of the conceptual bases of my work. And a hedonistic dimension?
No doubt. It was always the intention. The idea was to dig profoundly, to disinter and to reveal to the world what is under the surface of the buildings; to show to people what the construction is, the materials used in the walls and, finally, to show it figuratively. Furthermore, to show the construction of the building in both forms: culturally and historically. To seek an archetypal simplicity, lost to the complexity of the society in which we are living.
Not at all. You’ve recently worked with the Portuguese band Orelha-Negra (Black-Ear) and used explosives for the collaborated project. How was this method, or process? I’ve been thinking of taking this step for a while, with the idea that it would be in continuity with the destructive element of my previous work – it seemed like a logical step to take – to turn the pieces...well... explosive. The work itself was developed with a pyrotechnic specialist and a team helping with the more technical side. It was a lot of work but you learn from your mistakes; all it took was one mistake and everything was reduced to ashes. However the results were encouraging and we managed to film and compose everything for the Orelha-Negra video. Fuck! How painstaking. So is there an archeological essence to your work?
But combine that with explosives – You turn into the Indiana Jones of the art world? No quite. Fortunately none of my projects involves getting chased by Nazis, creatures from another world or anything of the sort...so far. Returning to Sartre, he is a pretty heavy read. How about a light read! What is your favourite comic book? Tin-tin. A classic that never loses its vitality. Finally. What’s your lifestyle at this very moment? Right now my lifestyle is almost entirely nomadic, with a few pauses for reflection. WORDS BY GUSTAVO NAVARRO
“The fundamental concept is creating beauty through brutal and destructive methods.”
The Flying Post
living from music without some sort of label backing.
Soundcloud’s potential to shape how music is made.
As ever, these limited business opportunities mean that
The true potential of Soundcloud was only realised
it’s the less commercial, more experimental music that
when it was combined with Facebook. This was a
flourishes on these sites. The first time I read about
purely practical union. Recently though, one emerging
falsetto-voiced Rnb innovator Jai Paul, I was directed
website was used in tandem with Soundcloud to yield
to his Soundcloud. The same thing happened when I
artistic benefits. Disquiet, an online ambient music
tried to find music by the despondently bratty singer-
blog, challenged artists to put songs on Soundcloud
listening to it. Other than that, there are only a handful
songwriter King Krule/Zoo Kid. Soundcloud and
inspired by Instagram photos of Lisbon for inspiration.
of discernible features that set them aside from the
Bandcamp are associated with a kind of underground
There were 700 submissions. They were whittled down
sites that came before them. Rollo Smallcombe of the
credibility, born of the fact that they’re open to
to a 16 track album that received a respectable number
London electro-indie outfit I Ching (iching.bandcamp.
anybody who wants an account and are a great tool for
of downloads. Instagr/am/bient is now a monthly
com) explains that the band’s decision to get a Bandcamp
the more idiosyncratic or avant-garde acts looking for
fixture on the website, where a different instagram
page is primarily due to Facebook’s unrivalled power
their niche audience.
photo is posted at the beginning of the month and
for getting music heard. “I think Bandcamp is just more
But does it influence the creative decisions made by
songs inspired by the photos are submitted before the
refined than previous incarnations of music sites. Their
artists uploading music to the sites? Is the growth of
month is out.
integration with Facebook is the big thing; Facebook
these sites affecting the music itself ? Evidence has
This kind of innovation and risk taking is still
rules all. I suppose it’s the mother-ship of networking
recently begun to surface which would suggest this was
infrequent and the results are, admittedly, esoteric,
online. Love or hate it... or really hate it.’
true, but arguably more so for Soundcloud than for
but it should be remembered that Soundcloud and
“It remains relatively impossible for new acts to make a living from music without some sort of label backing”
Sound engineer, music producer and avid follower of advances in digital music, Bim Williams (who also plays in Waves of Fury, recently signed to the label Alive and receiving attention from 6music) sees the dependency the sites have on Facebook as an inevitability of the digital age. “Everyone is on Facebook but they don’t all have a Soundcloud page. It makes no sense to try and coerce someone into signing up to Soundcloud in order to hear music they’ve never heard before, because they probably won’t. But if you put something from your Soundcloud page in a place where they already are then
Bandcamp are still in their infancy. It will be interesting
“Soundcloud and Bandcamp are associated with a kind of underground credibility, born of the fact that they’re open to anybody and are a great tool for idiosyncratic acts”
they are more inclined to listen to it. There’s no point in
soundcloud, bandcamp and the revolution that hasn’t happened yet
The Flying Post
If you’re making music today it’s safe to assume you’ve probably heard of Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Since their advent in 2008 and 2007 respectively, they have become the first port of call for musicians trying to carve out a following in an ever-expanding industry. Sam Way considers the role and influence of the Internet for new music.
trying to reinvent the wheel. In this case it’s a better idea
Bandcamp. When Soundcloud was made it was created
to just build a cart on top of it”.
with dance music in mind and, as it has developed, has
So it seems that the innovations that Bandcamp and
reflected the immediacy and transience that characterises
Soundcloud offer don’t go beyond the practical. Some
the genre. As such, those that use computers to create
would point out that Bandcamp, by allowing bands to sell
music are more receptive to the creative possibilities that
their own music and only taking a small percentage after
the digital realm offers. Take, for example, the feedback
a certain amount is made, is heralding a dramatic shift in
function that shows user comments as the track plays.
how bands sell their music; cutting out the middleman
Some producers specifically post songs on Soundcloud
and ensuring the artists get maximum revenue. Williams
to find out what their followers think of a track. More
describes it as being “about taking cash out of the
often than not this is done so the producer can work
In the middle of the last decade or, in internet years, the
newly-found favourite sandwich filling and unnecessary
hands of the execs and making buying music feel like
out what elements of the song listeners are responding
‘Mesozoic era’, Myspace ruled the internet. Aside from
stories about their profoundly mundane morning
a personal interaction with an artist you care about”.
to and what can make the song more commercially
introducing many to the concept of social networking, it
commute, whilst seeking their music elsewhere.
Amanda Palmer, former singer in the Dresden Dolls,
viable. This means that the views of fans will ultimately
was a quick, convenient way for music fans to discover
Recording artists were acutely aware of a need to share
made headlines in 2010 when she released her album
determine how the song sounds and hints at a kind of
where bands were playing and hear the newest releases.
songs easily on Facebook. Step forward Soundcloud and
through Bandcamp and made a tidy $15,000 profit –
collaborative process that begs to be explored further.
When the global shift to Facebook began, music became
Bandcamp. They capitalized on Facebook’s success in
more, she claimed, than she had ever made through
This may be the most promising element to have
the primary reason anyone visited Myspace anymore.
two ways. Both sites imitated Facebook’s slick, minimal
her major label deal. Back in the Sixties however, Surf
emerged from the rise of Soundcloud: the idea of
But, by adopting many of the features that made
look to keep the focus on the user-uploaded content
Guitar legend Dick Dale worked out that he could make
people creating a viable community in which they can
Facebook popular – such as status updates – Myspace
(Bandcamp does allow artists to customise their pages,
more money selling copies of his record out of the back
make music together. Last year eccentric electronica
failed to acknowledge the foundation of Facebook’s
but never to a point where it looks cluttered) but, most
of his car after gigs than he ever did through record
veteran Tim Exile took this a step further with ‘the
success: its simplicity. The growing array of largely
importantly, they could be easily integrated with social
labels. There is a reason why these ideas never became
online jam’, where people could record anything and
redundant functions on Myspace made it messy and
widespread. Both Dale and Palmer garnered a following
send it to him via Soundcloud. He could then use
confusing to use and, as time went on, another concern
The inescapable fact is that, without Facebook,
through the media coverage that their labels, and the
whatever had been submitted to create music on the
for musicians arose: they were the only ones on there.
Bandcamp and Soundcloud would resemble Myspace
PR people employed by said labels, obtained for them
spot. His most recent online jam can be seen on his
The average music listener was quite content on
before it became the digital ghost town it is today, with
before they made a greater sum off of their own backs.
Youtube page. It’s an hour long and unsurprisingly
Facebook, updating their status with news of their
those making the music tragically outnumbering those
It remains relatively impossible for new acts to make a
inconsistent, but still a fascinating example of
to see how these ideas evolve with the exponential growth of technology and, significantly, whether these experiments will trickle down into the mainstream collective consciousness in years to come. Words by Sam Way
The Flying Post
There is a new show coming to town! Devon’s finest Drum & Bass exports Fred V & Grafix have finished their degrees and moved home, with Exeter (and the Cellar Door) firmly in their sights. The Flying Post caught up with Grafix (21 year old Josh Jackson) to briefly discuss the pair’s eagerly anticipated new event GetMe and the motivation behind the new night.
Everybody say ‘GetMe’? able to bring him back to Exeter for my own show.” Josh has played shows all over Europe this summer, with a host of festivals under his belt like Dour in Belgium, Let It Role in Slovakia and Global Gathering and Parklife in the UK, but his enthusiasm for the scene in Exeter is pervasive. “I know people tend to be hyperbolic about their hometowns, but the scene in Exeter has been growing so much for the last decade – especially in terms of Drum & Bass. My friends started Wreckreation in 2007 when I was only 16, and we were still borrowing IDs to sneak into shows. Fred and I got our first ever booking from them, supporting Stanton Warriors at The Phoenix and it’s still one of the best nights out I’ve ever had!” Josh becomes slightly distracted by his Mac as he scans his Facebook page; “man, it’s so annoying how Facebook puts the shit up you’ve been listening to on Spotify. If I wanna listen to a few old classics why does everyone else need to know? I’ve got a fair few old Punk tracks on there that I’d rather keep to myself…” So does any of the music of his youth inspire his current production? “Funnily enough, yeah, you wouldn’t think Punk and Dancefloor DnB are particularly conducive, but some of mine and Fred’s tracks recently have strong undercurrents of the music I grew up with.” We duck outside for a quick cig, and he tells me a little more about GetMe: “the
new night is aimed a lot towards the students in Exeter. After spending three years in Bath Fred and I were constantly surprised by the lack of decent stuff out there for students. It’s all drinks deals, free Facebook guest list and some twat with a laptop playing pure cheese. We wanted to start up a night for students that brought in decent, hardworking DJs that were actually contributing to the scene. It’s early days still, obviously, but hopefully we’ll crack it.” After another little break, in which we briefly discuss the new season of Breaking Bad (“it’s the best show ever, yo!”) Josh tells me a bit about some of the music he and Fred have yet to release, “one thing we’ve been intent on doing recently is bringing in authentic, instrumental samples. Fred actually bought a cello the other day especially for this reason. Bonobo’s Black Sands was a massive part of this, but if you listen to some old school stuff like Aqueous Transmission by Incubus and Pulse Conditioner by Cougar it’s clear that they tapped into something so special. If I’m ever remembered I want it to be for producing music like that.”
T S E P M E T INDIAN
velling The ra T rn a b ts o Fo
Photo: Julian Behel
When I get to Josh Jackson’s house his mum drops a pile of clean, folded clothes on the end of his bed and reminds him that he’s still to take the recycling out. It’s a pertinent reminder of his youth, and how far he and partner Fred V have come in the last few years. We caught up with the pair of them a year ago in our Chaos Issue, and they have since secured a major contract with Hospital Records and finished degrees in Music Technology at Bath Spa University. This time, I’m here in (our) hometown of Ottery St. Mary to discuss his return to Exeter and his new promotion company GetMe, set up with long-term friend Siege MC. Ever the gracious host, he slides me a rum and ginger before talking eagerly about his forthcoming night, “it should be great man. I’m excited to be able to put on some music that we’re really feeling at the moment. The fact that it’s back in Exeter where it all began makes it really special.” So why ‘GetMe’? Josh laughs, “there’s nothing particularly deep behind it, we played in Manchester a couple of times and met a lot of lads up there who used to say it after everything. It just made us laugh. We didn’t want a profound or trendy name for our show, just something simple.” Despite the fact that Fred V & Grafix will be the main attraction for many, Josh is keen to discuss the other artists they’ve booked. “Brookes Brothers played a show at Wreckreation in Exeter about four years ago that I was playing at, before I’d really made it in any sense, and I gave Phil Brookes a lo-fi CD of some of my early production – there was about ten, shit tracks on there – but he ended up listening to it in his car on the way home from the show, and emailed me a couple days later telling me he was really feeling the CD and he’d help me with my production. We’ve been in touch ever since, he’s one of those sound guys that’s willing to drop everything for young ambitious producers and it’s awesome to be
S t by William s e p m e T e d on Th
and anas...wild n a b ly e in u ting, gen e. It’s libera s, v ti a in g a im audience for British y rl la u ic rt pa ne this way espeare do k a h S e e s E’S GLOBE to OMGOOLE,
www.indiantempest.com JOSH JACKSON WAS TALKING TO OLIVER TOLKIEN FOR THE FLYING POST. FRED V & GRAFIX PRESENT GETME WILL BE AT EXETER’S CELLAR DOOR ON SEPT 20TH.
Wed 26 - Sat 29 September 7.30pm Sun Matinee 30 September 3pm Box Ofﬁce: 01392 493 493
ADVERTISE HERE. email@example.com
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>>Perhaps the most numbing role I took on as a journalist was running the International Phosphates desk for a HIGNFY guest publication candidate by the name of ‘Fertilizer Week’. It was more fun covering the City. At least something was happening; even if it was to other people’s money. I covered stocks in the oil, mining and defence industries for a personal investment magazine. That’s how I find myself one morning standing in a pin-stripe suit next to a crowd of demonstrators with my MOD press clearance clutched in my tight little fist.
“Anodyne number-filled conversations around rocketlaunchers and stingers like it was a tool box talk in the Black & Decker shop. It’s the banality of it that really wrong-footed me, I was very troubled, even though I’d picked up some great investment stories.”
all the fun in the arms fair
Some time ago, I covered a UK arms fair for a magazine. I never thought you could have so much fun with a laser-sighted rifle and a room full of tossers.>>
A chatty Bobbie takes me past the first cordon and we leave the hissing, heckling demonstrators behind. He barely misses a beat when he hears my accent and as we stroll into the tent like buddies, he confides in that hushed English way: ‘me Mum was Irish you know?’ Then he accompanies me as an officer at a desk takes my name and ID. On hearing it, my constabular confidante starts laughing and produces his warrant card; it turns out we have the same ‘straight from Central Casting’ Irish surname. Anyway, that happy coincidence makes any questions or fuss go right away. With a nod and a ‘Fighting Irish’ wink to my Peeler clansman, I wander into the exhibition. If someone hasn’t experienced the joyous corporate bacchanalia that is ‘The Trade Fair’ it’s a difficult thing to explain. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in swimming pool fixtures or the adult film business, trade fairs are dull dull dull. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of
What I keep noticing however, is that money is people being put in a big room full of stock and always discussed before anybody even mentions made to talk shop. When Sartre said Hell is other the need for the right paperwork (and that’s usually people, then this must surely be the ninth circle of me), funny that. existential torment. Anodyne number-filled conversations around So I walk around. And around. As dull as any trade fair I’ve ever been rocket-launchers and stingers like it was a tool box talk in the Black & Decker shop. It’s the banality of to in fairness. Seems like most of the tamer stuff it that really wrong-footed me, I was very troubled is kept near the entrance; your protective clothing, even though I’d picked up some great investment flak jackets, gas masks that sort of thing. stories. As I wander around among the frequency jammers As I am preparing to leave however, I see what, in and night sights, I happen on a huge smiling purely aesthetic and industrial design terms, is a South African who gently pushes the weapon beautiful object: the Excalibur moment. he is cradling into my arms. I look down. It is a Tastefully lit and seeming to almost hover in middrum-loaded grenade launcher very like the one air on its perspex stand: if it had been shown at the Christopher Walken used in The Dogs of War. Tate instead of at a mass-murder fest, it might have My Antipodean salesman doesn’t even give me won the Turner. a chance to tell him I’m a journalist before he launches into his sales patter (‘ambush ‘em with the The salesman, from a Singapore gunnery, takes the weapon down and hands it to me; solicitously grenade-launcher and make the sale while they’re pointing out specifications in impeccable Straits still thinking about it’). It’s all ‘fields of fire’ this English. Then he shows me the best bit, the killer and ‘kill patterns’ that with even the term ‘costeffective’ making an appearance amongst the more app; if you go in for that type of thing. It’s just a little button down the left side of the technical jargon. assault rifle’s barrel, designed for access with the By the time he’s finished, I still haven’t the heart thumb. But pressing the button emits a red-eye to tell him that not only am I not a buyer, I am a laser sight. Sure-shot. member of the press. Oh well, the moment’s gone I know I shouldn’t have…but I did: I’m a weak I suppose…. man, what can I say? So instead, I ask him how much I’d need to pay in Leaning into the rifle, and peering down the barrel, order to be able to take delivery of a consignment I scan the crowded exhibition hall and spy one of of said material. my earlier unctuous salesmen: I wait till he turns Quick as a flash he gives me a price per item on a minimum shipment; my eyebrows rise and his price around and then my thumb flickers and there it falls. I smile, take a card and a brochure (beautifully is: red between his shoulder blades and then gone again. produced) and make my excuses, promising I’ll be That’s when I notice my South African, ambushing in touch. What I’m really wondering is ‘Who did another would-be customer and there it is again! that guy think I was?’ Just a thumb-twitch, easy as pressing the send After that, I chat briefly with a serving soldier; one button on a text, and an eye-blink on his neck. of a number who the Brass had obviously sent along for the benefit of the buyers and public. He’s Then I get up on the dais to get a better view…. Peeping above the crowd I spot my Geordie a Geordie from one of the Fusiliers Regiments soldier’s beret and feather; he’d love this gun, I and he is looking around him like a Bulgarian at think. And the dot flashes off the tip of his feather. Harrods. Canny lad gets away with it but his bonnet’s in Soldiers are great; they love a moan and it doesn’t tatters. take long before he is colourfully berating the OK, one for the road, I think; Jesus, this can’t be SA80 (Standard issue British Army Assault Rifle: healthy. 7.56mm, bullpup magazine configuration) to high heaven. He’s even asking for the old SLR back. “It’s Just as I am about to give a policeman my parting dot, he turns around and it’s cheery PC Namesake. like bein’ a kid in a toyshop when your mam’s on benefits and your Da’s gan away,” says the bemused I hand the gun back to the salesman: my ironic killing spree just isn’t fun anymore. squaddie with unexpected pathos. The trade fair then passes in a series of virtually carbon copy encounters. Bland salesmen: bland the way a Bavarian chicken farmer called Himmler was bland. words by Sean Flynn Illustration by Ed Tolkien (WWW.EDTOLKIEN.CO.UK)
The Flying Post’s alternative twittersphere A quick glance at the most followed accounts on Twitter makes for fairly grim reading. Ignoring Barrack Obama’s respectable 7th place finish, Twitter’s Top Ten is made up of the following; Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Shakira, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian and, curiously, YouTube. Coincidentally, all of whom share the same profile background: themselves. So, are their millions of followers a sad reflection of our celebrity-worshiping culture? Probably. But never mind. Fortunately for you, dear reader, we shan’t be concerning ourselves with the vacuous musings (@ladygaga My perfume was designed for women, but a lot of my gay friends wear it!) of these types in this review. This is The Flying Post’s Alternative Twittersphere. A review concerning the more leftfield, eccentric and generally interesting side of the Twitter realm. A realm devoid of narcissistic, insecure mega-celebrities. Enjoy! illustration by patrick cullum
Our take on
illustration by niaski
Cheryl Kerl (@CherylKerl) A well-executed Geordie accent is rarely unfunny, but the phonetic musings of @CherylKerl takes the whole doing-a-funny-accent-of-a-Northerner to an elevated level. Kerl has tweeted on a host of subjects since taking to Twitter, from popular culture and (inevitably) Ashley Cole, to political scandals and particle physics; Kerl recently declared to a follower asking her for her thoughts on the first observation of the Higgs Boson: “Ah’m made up aboot it pet. Best dee a mei leif beyond a doot man.” Supposedly, Kerl was born Cheryl Tweety, is part of the band Girls Are Loud, and is also a judge on a TV show called X Factory. Phonetic humour aside though, the beauty of Kerl lies in her sharpness as a satirist, using the position of pseudo-celebrity to comment ironically on the world that spawned her: “One Direction’s ragin. Thiv ganned backstage an chocalits’s bin robbed oota thor Thomas the Tank advent calendaz #Xfactor”. Kerl’s cult success has been so telling she’s secured herself a book deal – Woath it? Coase Ah Am, Pet – which promises to be a far more stimulating read than her real-life counterpart’s. She even agrees with us on grammar! “Leik yerz see if Ah heeah jus one maw pawsun seyin ‘could of ’ instead of ‘could have’ Ah’ll gan mentil! Taalk propah reet!”
BP Public Relations (@ BPGlobalPR) There was very little funny about British Petroleum’s disastrous oil-spill off the Gulf of Mexico, apart perhaps from BP and Tony Hayward’s pitiful apology campaign (immortalised by South Park). @BPGlobalPR is the satirical take on BP’s woeful and duplicitous Public Relations exercises in the wake of the disaster, with their own range of ‘BP Cares’ T-shirts (@Tinytig We’re sorry you’re upset. Please send us your address to receive a free* “bp cares” t-shirt? *$25 shipping), and updates like “BP never used false numbers to downplay the severity of the spill. Also, it happened like 100 years ago, get over it” and “Oh, shoot! The @HealthyGulf National Day of Action was yesterday. Can’t believe we missed it! Ah well, back to bed.” Over 150,000 followers have enjoyed their tweets, which sadly dried up in May. Still, another harmless but cutting attack on the establishment was very welcome.
50 Shades of Andy Gray (@50SOAndyGray) Not everyone will be familiar with the sexist, conceited musings of former Sky Sports Football Pundit Andy Gray, but to those of us who are, Twitter newcomer 50 Shades of Andy Gray is a work of untainted genius. As a pundit made famous more for his aggressively biased commentary than his tactical acumen and charisma, Gray has never been particularly hard to mock, but in combining the former Pundit’s rudimentary but well-known catchphrases with the inane smutridden prose of E L James’ 50 Shades Of Grey, many Tweeters (30,000 and counting) agree that author @CharlesLawley has created something beautiful. I leave you simply with a small selection of his work so far: After her first time, she picks up her first used condom. He snatches it off her, hurling it out of the open window. “You don’t save those!” Suddenly he stopped pounding her. Something was wrong. “Your condom” she said red faced “it came off in me.” He grinned, “pick that one out!” She lay trembling, no one had ever screwed her like that. He lay over her panting body & looked at his throbbing sword. “Take a bow, son.”
Armando Iannucci (@aiannucci) Breaking from our small tradition of reviewing only parody accounts, we’re going to include a genuine human here, but considering that he’s a human responsible for some of England’s funniest comedic characters, that should come as little surprise. Most of us will be well aware of Iannucci’s rapier, Swiftian wit thanks to his involvement writing such fine comedy as Alan Partridge, The Day Today and The Thick Of It. Happily, his prowess on Twitter is similarly commanding. Recently, Alistair Campbell (inspiration for The Thick Of It’s acerbic spin doctor Malcolm Tucker) attacked Iannucci for accepting an OBE from the establishment he’s made a living from satirising. “Three little letters can have more impact than you realize,” he tweeted, haughtily. “Tut tut.” Iannucci’s response? “WMD.”
Chuck Norris (@Chuck_Facts) There’s been a fairly endless torrent of Chuck Norris jokes circulating for the past few years, and they’ve somehow managed to stay fresh and interesting, which is fortunate for @Chuck_Facts, because their tweets are basically an endless torrent of Chuck Norris jokes. Perhaps the medium of persona is what makes these Norris jokes all the funnier – the idea that there’s actually a bearded, politically conservative martial artist updating his Twitterfeed with things like: “A masked man once stabbed Chuck Norris in the alley behind a children’s hospital. The knife bled to death” and, “Chuck Norris will make you an offer you can’t refuse, and then make you refuse it.” What makes this account even more amusing is the fact that Chuck Norris himself (actually a complete cretin in real life) has started his own account, regularly updates his feed with messages about God, the Republican cause and news from the set of The Expendables 2, and has four times fewer followers. Plainly the real Chuck Norris isn’t living up to the legend.
Drunk (Dead) George Osbourne (@OsborneDrunk/OsborneDead) George Osborne (real name ‘Gideon’, that’s right…) of bigoted-Bullingdon-boy fame, our erstwhile and much loved Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also managed to attract the attention of the Twitterati. Let’s face it: it’s really not hard to hate on old George. Those of us lucky enough to tune in to the Paralympics to watch Osborne squirm uncontrollably as he was roundly booed by the crowd at a medal ceremony will have a good idea (if they didn’t already) of his national popularity. Drunk George’s tweets were duly satirical: “Totally baffled. We’ve aggressively attacked the disabled, kids, women & the North and we’ve still gone into recession! It makes no sense!” However, Drunk George didn’t last forever. But why? Author John Higgs blogged that poor Gideon has been so proficiently damning to his own reputation that poking fun seems no longer necessary. Happily, something else has sprung from the ashes: Dead George Osborne. And Mr Cameron misses him so much he has been forced into the underworld to reclaim his friend: “@ OsborneDead ‘I was happy in Hades!’ I tell him. ‘It was like the 1922 club, but with less racism.’ He ignores me, and eats a cockroach.” words by benny gromadski
The Flying Post