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THE UNIVERSITY OF YORK’S INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER WWW.YORKVISION.CO.UK 20th June 2001 Issue 130
BECKINSALE AND THE BURGLAR
What does Pearl Harbour’s Kate have in common with a thief?
The master of the modern haiku gives his last ever interview
Interview with the indie noise-terrorists. Plus Clearlake & Witness
Start listening Admin Ryan Sabey
YORK STUDENTS have voiced their anger at University Administration via Vision’s probing questionnaire circulated around campus this term. Over 1,000 undergraduates replied to the survey - the most comprehensive survey of its kind at York that is certain to put pressure on Heslington Hall to implement the needs of students. The questionnaire sampled 1,041 students over the period May - June over issues including the aptitude of the Students’ Union, the 24 hour Porter service, the central bar and venue and differential rates for University accommodation. The questionnaire gave the clearest indication that students wanted a central bar and venue - 87% backed the key policy. However, last Wednesday, Head of Facilities Management, Andy Macdonald presented plans to the SU Executive outlining the University’s proposals for the creation of a Goodricke Amenities Centre and a central venue that will involve the renovation of the Central Hall site. Youdan was particularly disappointed with the plans put forward. “We have a massive sense of disappointment. There is no real improvement in the opening of a facility that we have simply been not allowed to use in the past.” Youdan went on to emphasise that YUSU has been campaigning for the central venue since the word ‘go’ in 1963. “We will continue to campaign for one for the next forty years.” YUSU’s Services Officer Bruno Arujo was quick to dismiss the initial excitement that had swept campus regarding the central venue. He said: “The plans are up in the air at the moment. We need to discuss many things and we can’t be rushed into something that sounds like a refurbishment. It is vital that the SU is involved in all plans to do with the central bar and venue.” University bosses will not give in to students’ demands for a parity of rents across campus. This has angered YUSU President Ben Youdan; 46% of students wanted to keep the current rent structure. He told Vision: “It’s been a difficult campaign and a difficult battle. Although the University have gone forward with differential rates they will ensure that problems
For the full results, comment and analysis of the campus’s largest student survey of recent times, check out the four page supplement in the centre of the paper
Want 24hr Portering
Photo: Sam Dudin
Admin give us:
Want Differential Rates Admin say they’re:
Want a Central Bar and Venue Admin give us:
such as ‘ghettoisation’ and the rich poor division will be addressed if those problems arise in the next academic year.” Youdan even said the University were being held to ransom by building company Jarvis in setting accommodation prices for the new UPP development. “The rates are ring-fenced at £60 and there is nothing the University or YUSU can do about it.” University Accommodation Officer David Maughn told Vision that there was simply no turning back on differential rates. “We have received many complaints from parents and students that the University charges the same amount of rent for James and Alcuin as it does for Goodricke. It’s these complaints that we have had to resolve.” Maughn was also keen to point out that York University stands alone in not providing differential rates. “As far as I’m aware York is the only University not to charge differing rates. We’ve implemented a rent structural working group that has looked at differential rates which returned its findings positively.” Students were keen to condemn University chiefs over the threat to a 24 hour porter service. A staggering 89% were in favour of keeping a Porter Service throughout the night. But Facilities Liasion Manager, Glen Dewsbury, told Vision that the University was keeping tabs on the students’ demands on security. “The University has set up an informal Welfare sub-committee. The committee reports directly back to the Vice Chancellor. Security on campus involves a much broader series of issues than just a porter service.” The University administration is not expected to consult students on a wide array of issues in the same vein of the Vision survey.
Poptarts meet with Chesney
Hear’say hopefuls rub shoulders with the one and only, Chesney Hawkes, who played an acoustic gig in Derwent before heading off to entertain the crowds at Ikon and Diva. The Poptarts will be doing their first live performance this Saturday at Woodstock, at Vanbrugh Bowl, where RAG will be raising money for a host of charities. See page two for a full article on the Poptarts and Chesney.
COMMENT 6 POLITICS 8 MEDIA 11 LIFESTYLE 12 FEATURES 14 MUSIC 21 WIRED 25 FILMS 26 ARTS 30 BOOKS 32 SPORT 34
2 : NEWS yorkVision
Hall or Nothing email@example.com
June 20th 2001
News in Brief
The line-up for this weekend’s Woodstock event has been announced. RAG’s free summer festival gets better each year and crowds gathering outside Vanbrugh this year will enjoy a wide range of music including Battle of the Bands 2001 finalists BAPS and Fay Buzzards and the winners Pillow Talk, and all out in the open of Vanbrugh Bowl: Midas In Deo Western Sci-fi Jupiter Laughed Heroic Trio Fay Buzzards Sevenball Amalgamation BAPS Pillow Talk
NET NET AGAIN Net Net, formerly ACC, have been again sending letters to students requesting payment for old bills and using threats of debt collectors. The company has already been criticised by telephone regulator Oftel over threats to shut down the entire University phone network. Any students with problems are advised to contact SU President Ben Youdan or Lizzie Tate the SU Education and Welfare Officer.
BIOLOGY’S £9M Biologists a the university have a share of £9m Interdisciplinary Research collaboration grant to further research into ‘Bionanotechnology.’ That is, in other words, the ability to make an use structures one ten thousandth the size of a human hair. The possibilities are endless for such objects, within the human body and without. York participates in the research alongside the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford (the project leaders) as well as the National Institute for Medical Research.
THE UNIVERSITY could commission renovation work on Central Hall at the start of the next academic year in an attempt to make the venue available for large scale events. Discussions between the University and Students’ Union on the issue of a central bar and venue have been underway for the past 18 months. These discussions have culminated in the current “feasibility proposal” which suggests a budget of around £2 million to renovate Central Hall and build a new catering facility on the site of the current Goodricke canteen. Central Hall has been out of use as a venue for large scale events since 1984 when The Boomtown Rats, fronted by Bob Geldof, violated health and safety regulations during a concert. Central Hall is currently said to be sinking. However, having explored the available side options affordable on the £2 million budget the University decided that a redevelopment of Central Hall offered the best opportunity to meet the aspirations of Students’ Union and the University. The current proposal centres around a redevelopment of the lower foyer into a 650 capacity bar and an overhaul of the upstairs auditorium. According to the Director of Facilities Management, Andy Macdonald, officially the University’s most powerful man, “Budgetary considerations preclude a pur-
pose built development, however such a centre has not been ruled out for the future.” Macdonald added that “The University did not simply want to present students with another dining hall that would double as a venue. For a modest outlay Central Hall can be adapted and brought up to modern standards.” SU President Ben Youdan has voiced his concerns about the proposal to Vision: “Over the last 40 years successive Students’ Unions have been faced with repeated last minute withdrawals of requests for a bar/venue. The Central Hall proposal continues to be inadequate and
this is not what we are campaigning for.” A number of further concerns have been raised about the proposal, one of the most prominent being the issue of access for disabled students. Ben Youdan commented that “If Central Hall cannot be brought up to an adequate standard for disabled access there is no way we can advocate the proposal.” No request for funding has yet been made. If the current proposal is passed the University could invest around £250,000 into the redevelopment programme by beginning of the next academic year with the “Goodricke Amenities Centre” opening soon after.
Chronology 1995 – Two proposals are put forward for the provision of a central venue. Goodricke dining hall with a capacity of 530 people and. the sports centre facility. The University initially seems responsive to both. Feb 1996 – A three-day “Barcott” is held in protest against the lack of a central venue and the University’s attitude towards staging events. Sept 1996 – SU President Fergus Drake draws up a plan for a bar and venue. located between Goodricke and James Jan 1997 – Admin suggests a bar be annexed to the side of Central Hall leading towards Langwith. June 1998 – Admin announces plans for an ancillary building at a UGM, including a grass roof to cut down noise leakage.
Bob Geldof: he has a lot to answer for
June 2001 – A “feasibility proposal” is put forward. £2 million is made available for the redevelopment of Central Hall and “Goodricke Amenities Centre.”
GSA-ddtion Pop-Stock photo: Matt Goddard
MSU Representatives on behalf of Mature Students lobbyed ministers earlier this month to raise awareness of mature students’ issues in education funding and related areas. Mature students have to work towards better employment prospects whilst receiving less that the unemployed. The Mature Students Union has been around 25 years working towards equality and fair treatment for mature students. In recent years their campaigns have had to necessarily grow to combat the increasing pressure mature students are under.
VISION THANKS & APOLOGIES Firstly apologies to Kat Taylor, for whom we should have credited with the article ‘My Rough Patch’, issue 129. Also a clarification: Helen Coverdale is Internal Secretary of Labour Students, not Rory Palmer as stated last issue. Rory is External Secretary. Thanks to all those soon to graduate who’ve contributed to Vision over their time in York: Natalie Brabin, Christian Bunyan, Tim Burroughs, Vee Cole-Jones, Lisa Forrest, Matt Giess, Toby James, Samuel Johnson, Wesley Johnson, Vicky Kennedy, Tom Nall, Ryan Sabey, Ann Smith, RaeJean Spears, Brendan Spencelayh, Babara Stainer, Alex Watson & anyone we’ve missed out. G’luck all!!
Wentworth prepares for the arrival of their new GSA President! Tim Dean THE GRADUATE Student Association, GSA, is to receive its first sabbatical president. Postgraduate numbers have grown to around 2,000 students since the GSA’s inception, and as all previous presidents of the GSA have been non-sabbatical, it is hoped this move will be able to raise the profile and quality of graduate education at York. The introduction was welcomed by SU President Ben Youdan, “I am really looking forward to having a GSA sab, it is something graduates need and has great potential for the relationship between the Union and the GSA. It is just a pity that it took so long in happening, but it needed to be approved by the University and funding” Paul Dorman, current GSA President was equally as enthusiastic about the new position. “ Having a sabbatical officer will
make a great difference in the running of the society. We are growing and this will help us to grow, this will help to ensure that the graduate voice is heard at York.” Not only will next year’s graduates have a new sabbatical officer; they will also have a whole college to themselves, as the new look Wentworth becomes a graduate college, something that Dorman is extremely enthusiastic about: “The graduate college that is launched later this year will add a lot of flavour to the grad scene. We see Wenty as a college in the college system, not as an exclusive place with a stigma attached to it. Graduates are around all of the year not just thirty weeks, this facility won’t have conference guests. Although accommodation will be expensive it does have the opportunity of having a focus with a bar. It will be a natural place for people to gravitate to.”
Crowds enjoy last year’s Woodstock outside Vanbrugh Ryan Sabey YORK RAG completed the final heat of ‘Poptarts’ on Monday Week 8 at local nightclub Ikon and Diva. The final ten contestants were whittled down to a final five who will now become a ‘proper band’ and perform together at Woodstock on Saturday Week 9. RAG President Sophie Jewitt was particularly pleased with the Ikon night. “We raised over £600. The whole ‘Poptarts’ idea is expected to top the £1,000 mark very soon,” she said. Jewitt’s idea was based on the ITV programme Popstars that produced the band Hear’say. That phenomenon has already spread around the world after its introduction in Australia. Jewitt says the similarities to ITV’s latest creation do not end there. “The five piece band will perform Hear’say’s number one song ‘Pure and Simple’ at
Woodstock.” The final five - Mark Gilroy, Paul Ransay, Kim Scarfe, Julia Partridge and Kate Carpenter - beat off a field of 31 others during the heats. Those who were nominated either had to perform or buy themselves out. Those that did not pay were fired upon by the RAG Hit Squad. Jewitt is particularly impressed with the standard on offer throughout the Poptarts auditions and finals. “It’s been great having people who will go up and perform. I was speaking to Mark (Gilroy) and he told me that he had already appeared on Michael Barrymore’s My Kind of Music. We’ve certainly picked some talented people.” The Poptarts will be singing two songs from the Fay Buzzards back catalogue. The band will also back them in their coveted early evening slot at Woodstock.
yorkVision - THE UNIVERSITY OF YORK’S INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER Editor: Tom Smithard Deputy Editors: Adam Curran, Matt Goddard firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor: Becca Smith Advertising Manager: Adelise Ashdown email@example.com Web Editor: Jonathan Carr Deputy Web Editor: Matthew Pettitt firstname.lastname@example.org Special Projects Director: Alex Cooley email@example.com News Editors: Tim Dean, Sam Macrory Deputy News Editors: Paul Cosby, Tom Hazeldine Politics Editor: Chris Cermak Deputy Politics Editors: Ayeesha Bhutta, Amanda Hamilton Lifestyle Editor: Danny Goldup Deputy Lifestyle Editor: Naomi Jackson Features Editor: Adrian Butler Deputy Features Editors: Laura Hamilton, Anne Hurst Music Editor: Simon Keal Deputy Music Editors: James Kelly, Isobel Todd Arts Editor: RaeJean Spears Deputy Arts Editor: Frances Lecky Films Editors: Natalie Brabin, Lisa Forrest Deputy Films Editor: Paul Hirons Wired Editor: Triston Attridge Books Editor: Kasia Brzozowska Deputy Books Editor: Beth Williams Acting Sports Editor: Gareth Owens Photo Editor: Sam Dudin Deputy Photo Editor: Tom White Artist: Steve Pewter Vision, Grimston House, University of York, York YO10 5DD. Tel / Fax: 01904 43 3720 Email: [section]@vision.york.ac.uk Opinions expressed in Vision are not necessarily those of the Editors, Senior Editorial Team, membership or advertisers. Every effort is made to ensure all articles are as factually correct as possible at the time of going to press, given the information available. Copyright Vision Newspapers, 2001
May 30th 2001 yorkVision
Campus Un-Fayre? Campus food is again under the spotlight. Tom Hazeldine reports on whether students are getting value for money CAMPUS FAYRE has come under fire over the status of its vegetarian food selection. The controversy highlights broader questions of the quality of its food provision in general. Lizzie Tate, Education and Welfare Officer of the Students’ Union, told Vision: “You can’t guarantee that food is vegetarian as the same preparation areas are used for all food.” “It is as vegetarian as it can be in Langwith, but they still use the same kitchen and so there is no guarantee.” A motion passed at a Union General Meeting in the Autumn term, proposed by
York Leaf and backed by Lizzie Tate, called for the creation of one food outlet on campus serving exclusively vegetarian food. It is possible that the Goodricke amenities building, currently being designed, will greatly enhance the options for vegetarians on campus, and for students as a whole.
Roy Whitaker, the Catering and Domestic Officer within the University, said it was too early to say what the new outlet in Goodricke would look like, as it was “Still in the concept stage.” He went on to defend Campus Fayre’s vegetarian range: “Langwith in particular does have a very strong vegetarian choice,
“You can’t guarantee that food is vegetarian as the same preparation areas are used for all food” Lizzie Tate SU Education and Welfare Officer
Utensils are used for both vegetarian and meat products
SU Fight photo:Paddy Fox
Youdan, up for a laugh but taking the SU slightly more seriously Tim Dean WITH JUST two weeks of his Presidency tenure left, Ben Youdan is facing a fight to retain his job. Catherine Howe, one half of the SU’s Women’s Officers, is proposing a vote of no confidence at the next UGM. Although the Vision deadline is before the UGM, both Youdan and Howe were keen to fight their corners. Howe is proposing a vote of no confidence based on four grounds; that Youdan told the SU Executive Committee that he didn’t know the number of elected officers on the NYANUS exec, when he did or had forgotten; that Youdan discriminates against people going to UGMs due to political beliefs; that Youdan failed to encourage people to become involved in the Union; and finally that Youdan didn’t allow an SU member to see the budget before the last UGM. Youdan was confident that the vote would not be passed, telling Vision, “No the vote will not succeed, it will be laughed out of the UGM. A lot of people are supporting me.” But Howe was equally as confident of her vote succeeding, “I have been surprised by the number of people from exec who have come up and supported me, but
don’t want to speak up. He (Youdan) tends to be two faced and doesn’t like being held to account, which is why I’ve done this.” Youdan dismissed all of the allegations raised against him by Howe, telling Vision “With NYANUS I’ve been very fair, we’ve tried to work with them and to make it an effective partnership between both York’s and NYANUS’s exec committees. “We gave NYANUS six months to meet the criteria that we had set to prove that they were effective, but they failed to do so. I haven’t done anything to bias exec against NYANUS.” Howe’s story was quite different “ He came back to exec and said that he didn’t think any of their (NYANUS) exec were properly elected, when he knows that they are.” Howe also strongly defended her other proposals “ Why shouldn’t political people have a say, his whole attitude is that he wants to do it his way. He only wants his kind of people involved in the Union.” Youdan was quick to refute the rest of the proposals: “It is absolutely disgusting that someone is misleading students like this. We have encouraged all students and made no exemptions, she just has a narrow minded view of the Union. She assumes that the Union is all about UGMs, it’s not. Why do we have more societies per student than any other University; lots of this motion is just lies.” Youdan was disappointed that Howe’s issue had gone all the way to a UGM, “A lot of it is down to politics. I’m very disappointed that they couldn’t come in and discuss these issues with the sabs. They have been very underhanded, its just a back stabbing way to go about things.” Meanwhile both Youdan and Howe were confident that they could maintain a professional relationship, “It won’t be awkward working with Catherine, I still have respect for her as a Union officer, its just a pity she doesn’t have any for me” Youdan said. Howe was also hopeful of an effective working relationship, “I hope it won’t affect my relationship with him and that he is professional enough, but he is going in three weeks anyway.”
though there are also meat products on the counter. It is not total segregation but there should not be any contamination.” The matter of campus provision for students with special requirements, such as for Kosher food or Halal meat, is also being looked into. On a broader level, Vision asked Roy Whitaker if he thought Campus Fayre is offering value for money. At the moment, it provides only a very limited food service at weekends. Although Halifax Court is rumoured to be getting its own pizza outlet, there is not at present any late night food venue on campus. Roy Whitaker has put the blame for this back onto the student body: “There have been late night venues in the past, and they would still be operational if they had been more popular.” “ We had the food and the staff but not the business. It’s not as if we haven’t tried;.Derwent was open until late almost everyday.” However, the popularity of take-away fast food companies, such as Ali’s Kitchen, would seem to suggest that the demand for late night snacks is there. As for the quality of Campus Fayre itself, things may be looking up. The Sodexho consultancy firm has been employed by the University to improve food outlets across campus and in Halifax Court. The new menu in Alcuin is one example of how some improvements have recently been made. Lizzie Tate acknowledged that the quality of Campus Fayre can vary: “It depends on where you go. Alcuin is very nice, and the prices there aren’t that bad. If you can have a meal for less than two pounds, that is acceptable.”
Overseas students were free to vote in Selby on June 7th Chris Cermak A VAST number of overseas students at the University of York were able to vote in the General Election of June 7th. The students in colleges and halls of residence received poll cards and were listed on the Selby constituency’s electoral register. French, German and other European students ventured over to Main Street, Heslington on election day, finding their access to a ballot paper to be unhindered upon arrival. Identification was not needed. All that was required was a poll card on which the students’ names, addresses and numbers on the electoral register could be found. Helen Coverdale, Internal Secretary of the Labour Society on campus stated that she and local MP John Grogan, who retained his seat in parliament for the Labour party, had been “Approached on campus by overseas students who had received poll cards but were unsure if they were able to vote.” Mr. Grogan rightly pointed out to them that they were in fact unable. The mistake appears to have stemmed from the registration of students with the
local authorities. Each year, the York City Council is sent a list of the names and addresses, by the University, of all students living in University accommodation. On this list, students are classified as either ‘home’, for those with a UK passport; ‘EU’; or ‘overseas’, under which all remaining countries are placed. Each student will have a letter next to their name, locating them in one of these three categories. These lists are consequently sent to the relevant constituency, come election time. However, a source within the York City Council has confirmed that a number of overseas students are in fact registered as UK citizens, showing that the lists sent by the University appear not to be entirely accurate. It is unknown at this time how many were classified incorrectly in this manner and were consequently able to vote in the recent election. Sue Hardman, Academic Registrar, who is responsible for registering students with the local authorities, was hesitant to provide any insight into the issue. “[The matter] has recently been brought to my attention and I am looking into it.”
NEWS : 3
Have you Heard...
Tim Dean Hey mate where are you off to? I’m off to try and do some washing. Oh dear! I know, don’t bother waiting. I’m taking a sleeping bag. It would probably take less time to self-combust than it does to do my washing and drying. Tell me about it. The other week I put my washing in. Then watched the entire five day test match between Pakistan and England, and my pants still had a certain moistness to them. Well it is about to get a hell of a lot worse. From next year all residents will have to wash their own linen. Oh my word, how long do you think it would take to cryogenically freeze myself? Wait there’s more, before you start camping out next to the tumble-dryers. Guess how many people live on campus? I don’t know; about 1,500. Approximately; and guess how many washing machines there are? I’m not sure, but I’m expecting a number less than the age of the Queen Mum and only slightly higher than the channel that Big Brother appears on. Eighty. Eighty? Yes eighty. Eight, Zero. Ok stop now ! That is appalling! I mean eight.., sorry. How many times does the University think I wash?! I mean I know I like to go commando occasionally, but there are only so many times that chafing yourself against your jeans is anywhere near enjoyable. Well I would start stocking up on your Savlon, as it is about to get a hell of a lot worse. Next year not only do you have to wash your own linen, but you also have to buy your own. Or you can purchase some off the Uni. Woo! And what do I get for my money? Well for £25 you will get a duvet and cover, pillows and cases and some sheets. But what happens when everyone tries to wash all their stuff, especially with the extra heavy loads? Well that shouldn’t be a problem. According to Sodexho, the Uni’s consultancy company, students will only wash them twice a term. Twice a term, I’m not Swampy! Nope, but you’ll soon smell like him.
4 : NEWS yorkVision
June 20th 2001
news focus: RAG a year in review
The one and only RAG
As the end of the academic year approaches, Sam Macrory takes a look back at the achievements of RAG, a charity which survived challenges to its position earlier this year to go on to great things WHEN FORMER teen-idol Chesney Hawkes agrees to come and sing for you then its clear that you must be doing something right. This is exactly what happened last Monday evening in Derwent, and for RAG, who had arranged for the budding musician to play at the University, it marked another highly successful event in what has been, even in the wake of last year’s record breaking achievements, a fantastic year for them. Stepping into the shoes of last year’s President, the larger than life Ange Davison, is no mean task, but this year’s President, 2nd year Sophie Jewitt, has performed the task admirably, continuing RAG’s success while bringing in her own distinctive style of fund-raising. Speaking to Vision, Sophie seemed delighted with how the year had gone. “I
want to know how to.” There are a number of ways in which RAG and the charities which they raise money for come together. Charities can contact RAG and ask them to raise money for them, while students can also come forward and suggest a specific charity. If it fits in with their schedule, then RAG also work with such events as Comic Relief and Children in Need. The RAG committee sit down at the end of the year and decide which ten charities the raised money will be divided between. “Its horrible to chose the charities because they are all such worthy causes” confessed Sophie. This year, the charities chosen include York Rape Crisis, York Against Motor Neurone Disease, the Terence Higgins Trust, and YSCA. During RAG week a number of charities whom RAG have been associated with
“The end of the Paris hitch was so surreal, standing in fancy dress under the Eiffel Tower at 2 o’clock in the morning waiting for everyone to make it. It really was a wonderful night”
Sophie Jewitt RAG President
was adamant from the start that I would not duplicate last year and just do what Ange did. I was really keen to try new things – some worked, some didn’t, but as long as we’re raising money and everyone’s happy then that is the most important thing.” One of her innovations which Sophie, working alongside AU President Owen Rodd, saw come to fruition, was the Fete which was held during Roses. Despite being less than receptive beforehand, the villagers of Heslington soon got into the swing of things and the afternoon became a highlight of the Roses weekend. ViceChancellor Ron Cooke has received a number of letters from the local community which praised the event for both the fun it created and the way in which it brought the students and the locals of Heslington together. “People like me love to get involved in Roses, but many, and I definitely fall into this category, are simply no good at sport,” admitted Sophie. “The Fete helped to open Roses up, making it more than just a sporting activity and was a way to get the community involved. On top of that we raised £500 from 10p games and activities which was pretty good.” The big money earner this year, however, was the Paris Hitch, held back in the first term. Forty-four adventurers took part on the trip, and while three of them could only make it as far as Calais, all enjoyed the experience and a total of £3,000 was raised. Sophie classed the Paris hitch as one of the highlights of her RAG year. “It was so surreal, standing in fancy dress under the Eiffel Tower waiting for everyone to make it – it really was a wonderful night.” The first term also saw the bizarre spectacle of over 80 brave souls abseilling down Central Hall. This activity was held to raise awareness for the World Aids Today project. Working alongside Education and Welfare officer Lizzie Tate, RAG worked hard to get the project’s message across, and were interviewed by BBC Radio during the course of the day. “There were a few screams from people afraid of heights, but the day was definitely a success; I was amazed at its popularity.” The second term saw RAG week, crucial not only as a money-raising opportunity, but also as a way to show how RAG works and what they do. “Its very important to let students know where the money is going to” explained Sophie. “Not everyone wants to dress up and be outrageous, but they still want to help and
spoke to the students, though Sophie confessed that Vanbrugh dining room was not ideal for this task. While the understanding the actual workings of RAG is clearly crucial, the fun is to be had out on the streets and campus doing the actual raising and giving. The second term also so fire-walking and glass-walking in Derwent, which Sophie described as “the most amazing feeling….not something that comes along too often!”, a S p a c e Hopper r a c e through
Campus, which was won by the SU staff team, who were determined to get their hands on the prize of the hop-
pers themselves, and the annual RAG procession. Despite the dreadful weather on the day, the procession was an enormous success and the people of York braved the conditions to help RAG raise around £800. The Derwent float, through a cunning trick of turning last year’s viking helmets into a key part of the bear costume, won the prize for best float with their portrayal of a ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’, but Sophie felt everyone deserved praise. “I was amazed and incredibly impressed with all the RAG Reps – they all did brilliantly. Every float was so distinctive and individual, and it was clear how hard everyone had worked to make them look so good.” Indeed it was, from James’ fantastic ‘Treasure Island’ float, to Vanbrugh’s magical recreation of Cinderella, with their enormous pumpkin standing defiantly orange throughout the rain. Later on in the term saw RAG’s attempt, to break into the Guinness Book of Records, through holding the longest Tequila smash in history. While Sophie confessed that it was pretty much logistically impossible to control three hundred drunken students, the event raised over £1,000 and the place in th record books may still be York’s. With so many highlights throughout the year it was perhaps hard to see h o w things could get better in the summ e r term,
but the conclusion of RAG’s Poptarts competition in Ikon & Diva last Monday, won by the group ‘Heresy’, who were so good that Sophie felt RAG should get them under contract, also saw Chesney Hawkes hit York, and in some style. Speaking exclusively to Vision, Chesney, whose early nineties anthem ‘The One and Only’, still manages to fill the Ziggy’s dance-floor every Wednesday, was pleased to be back. “I find it amazing that even after so long I’m still remembered. I knew that ‘The One and Only’ was a good song, but had no idea it would become the anthem it has. I’ll wait and see if it can be forgotten, but for now its fine to be associated with it.” It was somewhat surreal seeing Chesney Hawkes, who has recently been featured in Channel 4’s Top Ten - Boy Idols show, a list he modestly feels he doesn’t deserve to be in, playing an acoustic set in Derwent, but the crowd were delighted with his performance. The songs from his new album went down well, and the audience were on their feet for his rendition of ‘American Pie’, a n d , after much waiting, that song. The affab l e
Chesney has a three album record deal, and his latest solo album, a collection of songs written over the last few years, is out soon. “There has been some low times when you wonder if things will work out” admitted Chesney, “ But I’ll always be a musician and I’m looking forward to proving some people wrong. I hope people appreciate what I’m doing, but I’m just looking forward to the chance to put a record out – I’m certainly not ready to retire yet!” After York, Chesney, who had earlier played to 6,000 people at the Vodka Fields Festival in Leeds, was off to support Semisonic and Hear’Say in Swansea. While pleased to be playing with them, Chesney admitted that manufactured bands like Hear’Say were a little destructive to the music industry. “There are so many talented and passionate musicians out there who would have been big acts in the 60s and 70s but now have no opportunities. I’m just glad to have one, and while I hope people like my new albums, I’m sure I’ll be dusting off ‘The One and Only’ once in a while over the next ten years. Sophie Jewitt said that Chesney was a “Lovely guy, though I don’t think he liked the Derwent food too much!” There is still more to come for RAG this year though, in the shape of Woodstock which Sophie is working hard to organise. “I hope it will be a success, but its been a great year so far anyway. We’ve raised about £50,000, and if it wasn’t for the floods it would have been more. I’ve loved every minute as President of RAG, but I hope people don’t just see it as me at the head of a committee Everyone’s been crucial – I’ve just helped to oversee it.” This generous mode s t y reflects the spirit of RAG, w h o will surel y
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
MEDIA : 5
Quiz Shows: the new breed Matt Giess charts the sinister transformation of the once innocuous pass-time
The Student Press Matt Giess
There are a few truffles buried deep within the pages of the Student Press from across the nation. Starting with a few serious stories though, we flick to the esteemed pages of Cambridge’s Varsity. The Varsity runs with a story about a terrifying knife attack. Taking place in a local Co-op supermarket (a student favourite) a masked man held a knife to a cashier’s throat, forcing her to hand over the day’s takings. Luckily, the thief had attended the Lorrel and Hardy school of crime, as he left the shop on foot (forgetting he had arrived on a bike) only to arrive hours later to pick up the bike, where he was subsequently arrested by police. The man was later identified as local man Gary Barrett. I hope he still has that mask handy, clown. Bribery rumours are rife in Durham’s Palatinate. Their SU Treasurer, Jenny Radcliffe, has been accused of clandestine dealings with the University in order to get herself recruited to the treasury department. Suspicions were bolstered (allegedly) due to Ms Radcliffe wanting to pursue a career in accountancy, but struggling to get suitable traineeship elsewhere due to receiving a third class degree. Raised eyebrows all round. Down in Oxford, the Oxford Student sports a story about their Union President election. Apparently the contest has become a one horse race as a result of potential rival, Will Charles, missing the deadline for nominations by a matter of seconds. According to Returning Officer, Matthew Taylor, Mr Charles swaggered into the office claiming “Here comes the Kaiser”. When told he had missed the deadline, he replied “You can’t close without my nomination!” Not a fascinating story, but it made me smile. That is the serious stories done with, from here on in they get increasingly bizarre. The University of Hull’s Hullfire (great name) contains the most suspicious story of the day. Tarquin Farquar, Art History and Post-Feminist Modernistic Theology student - see what I mean! - has been banned from a local pizzeria after “eating too much”. Robust Tarquin had visited his local pizza parlour and ordered the Fill-Your-Face-For-A-Fiver deal. After three hours of “continuous eating” he was asked to leave by a stunned restaurant manager, and then banned from ever returning. Do we believe them? Fat Camp dominates the Leeds Student. Britain’s only Fat Camp, run by Leeds Metropolitan University, has been a roaring success. The University has received over one thousand five hundred students have applications, and the membership is already bursting at the seams. Activities indulged in at the camp are as you would expect: ‘individual and team sports, outdoor pursuits and social activities’ (their description). Programme Director, Paul Gatsby (lecturer at LMU), enthused: “It’s a programme based on what overweight people want, so that they can learn to enjoy exercise without feeling that they are being prescribed treatments.” According to Gately, “Obesity costs the NHS up to £8000 per patient, and often the treatment received is ineffective or only lasts for a short time.” To conclude, Cambridge’s Red and Blackmail Online assures that the majority of student’s sex lives are pretty routine, with this in mind, the Editor decided to compile a list of “The most interesting fetishes the human race has invented.” Amongst many enlightening and edifying entries the one tickled my mutu was “auto pedestry” - a description of which is impossible to print (quick, where’s that dictionary!). In terms of student news, you would have to say poor, in terms of enlivening my column, priceless.
HAS ANYONE else noticed it? The emergence of the next generation 'Quiz Show'. Quiz Shows used to be the most inoffensive of pass-times for those who enjoyed testing themselves against an expert for the day. Shows such as Wheel of Fortune, Count Down, Mastermind etc, if you lost, you lost, no problem: you lose nothing but your dignity. This is the case no longer. Quiz Shows have evolved into a more exciting and vicious beast. It is no longer entertainment for all concerned, it is entertainment only for those watching, for those who take part it is 'their shot at the
big time', a chance to change their miserable lives. In the words of Bill Cosby: 'You Bet Your Life'. We are not talking the Running Man scenario where a contestant literally competes against an adversary for their right to live. The challenges that are thrown against these contestants are more subtle. They are offered hope, happiness (i.e life changing money) within their grasp. Take Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, the very title aimed at titillating those in debt and dire circumstances (anyone see the student on it recently?) In this show
You can not escape the allure of a Quiz Show
people no longer simply phone up to get their face on television, oh no, getting on this show becomes a life plan. I personally know a family - loons, admittedly - who are making trying to get on the show part of the daily routine, they have even planned what to do with the money - they do not expect to win the whole million of course, only thirty two thousand (lets not get silly, after all). If it becomes so important for those who have thus far only watched and dreamed, imagine the kind of thoughts that go through the heads of those that actually appear and compete: 'If I get this question right I can sort my life out, stay off the booze and buy a share in Marine F.C'. The Quiz Show sells dreams and hope. Even Eamon Holmes is getting in on the act with his millionaire lifestyle show. For the viewer it makes it all the more interesting to watch the tensionexcitement-joy drip from contestants' faces - never to return - as they get a vital question wrong. Money does not bring happiness, but it wards off a life of drudgery: Fact. Maybe its better to live life in hope, rather than ruing the one chance you cocked-up because you did not know who is the only football player to play in Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow derbies (Andrei Kanchelskis). For the average viewer, this change in format and winnings is fantastic, it makes the whole thing far more exciting. We get to lord over these hapless fools and calmly observe their devastation, and this is yet another element to the new Quiz Show, the thrill for the voyeur. It is these two elements that are transforming television into a human zoo/torture chamber: Massively increased prizes, and inevitably, a massively increased emotional charge. There is no better illustration of this than Big Brother. Whilst not a really a Quiz Show, in the sense that there are no questions, these individuals compete in a far more fundamental sense: they compete for affection. We, the voters, take the role of surrogate, collective parents in a grotesque game of sibling rivalry, each person squabbling to be the most preferred. But, I hear you say, the money is nothing compared to the million on offer on ITV, but of course the winnings are more profound still, doing well on Big Brother guarantees you celebrity status: money and fame what could be better?
So where did it all begin? Who's Dr Frankensteinesque midwifery is to blame for turning the Quiz Show into a creature out of control? Ironically, I believe the responsibility does not lie with a Quiz Show at all, and that we should instead look to the advent of the National Lottery. The National Lottery, the Ministry of Hope, a Mecca for the impoverished. It showed there was a market out there for people willing to pay for hope. Returning to the Big Brother concept we find in Orwell's work a fully formed construction of the idea of the lottery. In Nineteen Eighty Four, Air Strip One, on the continent of Europa, also had a lottery: it gave the proles something to believe in, there
Quiz Shows have evolved into a more exciting and vicious beast was even prole-feed books written on how to win it. Of course, Orwell also foresaw machine manufactured music (Hear'Say, Atomic Kitten, Destiny's Child), but lets not go into that. Perhaps if we glimpse further into the future there is a vision of an even more evolved species of Quiz Show, one where the sole object of your appearing is to be made a fool of: The Weakest Link. A show where the viewers tune in to watch humiliation, and indeed the contestants seem to turn up for it. Who knows where this will end, maybe people will air their most personal secrets on T.V, maybe they will not even want prizes and do it just to be on T.V, surely not (Jerry, Jerry, Jerry). So why do we do it? I can understand the appeal of money, but fame? 'I'm the complete prat off telly, remember me?' A friend of mine says he only rarely buys a lottery ticket. 'Why?' I inquired, hoping to delve into his psyche. 'There's no point unless it is a role-over, I'd spend a million pounds on a holiday, or maybe half on a house. I wait for the proper money.' So me people are greedy, others fools - I guess that sums a Quiz Show up nicely!
The importance of men Guy Mesis IN THE last issue Caroline Harris looked at the voice of women in the media, so it is time to redress the balance, lets talk about men. The crux of the article written by Ms Harris was that the media attempts to compartmentalise the interests of women, restricting them access to serious issues. In short, she thought the media was patronising. Well, I am a man and I know a thing or two, so here is how I see it. The image of men in the media is extremely complex. We are all quite happy to have a Parliament
Are all men quite content to be sit about eating, scratching themselves and farting?
What makes a real man? and House of Lord’s dominated by men (and the worst kind, as well), but at the same time it seems to be generally accepted, and indeed projected, that men are ridiculous. Perhaps the greatest social parody/ commentary of our times is The Simpsons, and of course the star of the show (in my eyes anyway) is Homer Simpson. Homer Simpson is the quintessential
father of modern times. Glued to the couch (literally) and with only beer and food to live for, if you think this is purely an American stereotype, then take a look at the Jim Royle character that appears in The Royle Family. Gary from Men Behaving Badly is another example of this, they make stupidity charming and, to an extent, appealing. These characters makes us all chuckle
and feel warm inside, Homer’s clowning and antics are just plain silly. Unfortunately, this persona takes a far more sinister shade when we realise it is an exact replica of George W Bush’s election ticket. ‘W’ was very much in the Reagan mould, he had his beliefs and he could be tough when it mattered, but deep down inside he was a fool, and everyone knew it. Americans voted for it, believing a man who ain’t bright can be trusted. Do not be seduced! Idiots are just that and should be avoided; look what happened with Kevin Keegan. Is it that simple though, are all men quite content to be sit about eating, scratching themselves and farting? Ah, now we come full circle. How far does the media construct this image and how far does it reflect it. Sadly, I have no answers - only questions. Perhaps it is do with apathy and it infects both sexes: if you do not believe in anything, then what’s the point in moving. Men, I leave you with the inspirational words of Ken Kesey, who, when asked what his first novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was about he replied “Well, in short, I am trying to say that a man can be as big as he wants to be.” Regardless of the media, and whoever it patronises, it’s not really real, anyway.
6 : COMMENT yorkVision
June 20th 2001
email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel / Fax 01904 43 3720 Grimston House, Vanbrugh College, University of York, York YO10 5DD
So it’s ONLY student opinion Is there anybody else out there who would find it strange if this University actually got a central venue? The University’s failure to give students what they want for forty years seems as much a part of student life as the lake. Each year, no, each term brings ever more ridiculous twists in the debate of (shall we say it for the 5000th time) when we’ll get a (wait for it) central bar and venue. It’s not even stalemate. It’s a constant mire of disappointment, repetitive soundbites and futile promises. It can only be students who realise it’s actually students who are most disappointed. The number of column inches and broadcast time dedicated to this across campus media, the involvement of James and Goodricke and not to mention years of SU input all seem defunct as the University’s attention focuses on Central Hall. It’s been practically closed off for twenty years, it’s almost redundant to students who aren’t involved in drama – yet now it’s a ‘viable’ central venue. Once again disappointment has fallen across campus – are we even half way yet? We launched the questionnaire in May because it was needed. It shows definite viewpoints definitively. Numbers may be low for demonstrations on 24 hour portering, but here are the real results writ large. 89% are in favour of saving the portering service. 89% of people want to feel safe at this University. Day and night. 45% of students want to keep the current rent structure. 45% of people don’t want others to be forcibly separated because of money or degree needs. Another 22% are yet to be convinced of the University’s arguments for scrapping the current strucutre. This is the first time this level of support has been confirmed, yet it is already too late. As there seems to have been little evident consultation with the student populace before the decision was made we only hope the University does address the potential problems of ‘ghettoisation’ and the “rich/poor division.” This questionnaire is not the be all and end all of student opinion, quite the opposite. Neither is it some anti-University propaganda. Hopefully we can all take pride in some of the results. In the important issues however, the ones which have been bobbing around colleges for years, this questionnaire gives some indication which way students want their own University to go. Informal committees concerning students’ needs are welcome – but as the University’s face is changing so quickly – shouldn’t attitudes change just as quickly behind the scenes. Students are increasingly in danger of being left out with each passing day. There is a lot of mileage in here and we hope the results are allowed to last the distance.
Why we need a drink
It is often said that the best thing about giving a government a second term in office is that they will be able to bring to fruition all those policies they began but never quite completed. If one thinks back to the heady days of their first administration this government made some very positive sounds about the possibility of extending the licensing laws. The latest mutterings however to come from within the walls of Westminster are less than positive that a speedy alteration to current law will occur. A delay to this legislation is on so many levels a disappointment. It is not a simple case that people would like the opportunity to drink themselves stupid over a longer time period. There are a number of practical reasons for it. There exists in this country a culture of drinking to get drunk, which is not seen as widely elsewhere on the continent. This point needs clarification which can best be done by explaining a typical night out on the town. It's Monday, the beginning of a hard week and an average York undergraduate is out with chums. They hit the town by eight and take up residence in the gentleman's club style leather arm-chairs in the Hansom Cab. As with most groups the first couple of pints don't get drunk too quickly and the time has ticked on to approaching ten. There is now the dilemma of all students with the inevitable decision to go to a club already made the question is when to make the dash for it, thus avoiding the Gallery queue. Few students enjoy a night in the Gallery unless suitable intoxicated and so the need for rapid post ten o'clock drinking raises its ugly head. There are so many problems raised by this example that could be avoided if the licenses hours were extended. Firstly, there are the health issues; rapid downing of drinks is one of the worse things a drinker can do. Secondly, there is a practical reason as well. When all the pubs close simultaneously there is mass convergence on the few clubs in York. This leads to long cues, which thanks to alcohol can sometimes be rather hostile. If pubs stayed open for a few hours longer, there could be a gradual dispersion of the drunken masses. Some would call it a night straight after the pub and some would leave for a noisy club with just an hour or so to go. Thus extension of the licensing hours would be even more prevalent in York as we have not only a disappointing selection of clubs to choose from, but there is no late license bar/clubs that are seen so widely else where. It is time people were allowed to have the opportunity to choose to drink for longer and importantly where to drink. But why is it that students feel the need to drink so much in the pubs around York before joining the proverbial Gallery queue? Could the rowdiness experienced by so many students on their way to the clubs of York be not so much influenced by the alcohol coursing through the veins? The knowledge that once inside the club they will be experiencing a night of little inspiration or experimentation whilst the clubs of York stick to 'ironic' cheese and oh-so-cool Brit Pop may well result in the need to drink so much in order to experience the decent night out required. In our Student Survey, 23.9% of those polled said that they could not possibly describe any of the four York clubs as their 'favourite'. This is a damming indictment. The music policy on Ikon & Diva's main student night on Monday is cheese in the main room and indie-lite on the smaller dance floor. Toffs' major student night is Tuesday, where it is the same story. The Gallery on Wednesday is identical, although to be fair, they were the original and still remain the best. Students deserve more. Ziggys' goth night on Tuesday is a welcome addition, as is The Gallery's attempts to incorporate '60's Soul on Thursdays. But this is not enough. The summer always provides the respective managers of the York clubs time to reflect on what has inspired the student community over the previous year, and where they can improve in the future. In the case of Toffs, the club most associated with blanket cheese coverage, a radical rethink is necessary. The club has only once remotely neared capacity recently, and this was entirely due to the rumours circulating at the time that it was days away from closure. This has now been postponed, but in order to prevent the inevitable from happening next year, many changes have to be made. Toffs is not the only club that needs to look closely at its current provision of 'entertainment', but it is certainly in the direst position. For the other clubs to prevent themselves slipping as low as Toffs on our Student Survey next year, they too need to change. Stop patronising students, treat us to a diverse range of musical genres, and start playing some real dance music. When the student body returns next year it will expect improvements, or the York clubs may truly understand the student wrath. Until then we'll just have to consolidate ourselves with the alcohol served by York's fine public houses. One more for the club, anyone?
We welcome all contributions, from students and staff, about issues featured in Vision or those that you feel should be brought to students’ attention Dear Editor,
Letters to the editor
send all correspondence to: email@example.com -orVision Letters, We will not publish anonymous letters, but will guarantee the writer’s anonymity if requested. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. Grimston House classrooms, which may be booked during you spend away, the more you get into the teaching hours, and study areas, which are whole experience. Treks in tea plantations, Oh, the terrible, terrible irony! In the May non-bookable. drinks with locals, scuba-diving with 30th issue of Vision, Caroline Harris Teaching hours are 09.15 - 19.15 marine fish, local cuisine etc… are all declares that “it’s time the print and broad- weekdays. This term, Computing class- benefits of travelling which have left me cast media shed its outdated concepts of rooms are booked for an average 15% of itching to set off again, with my betterwomen” while Leanne Rogers provides the available teaching hours. Bookings are half. Adam are you free this summer..? the helpful article on what each and every for University courses, including Iliad and woman really, truly wants (which appar- Departmental teaching. Tutors are encour- James Drummond, James College ently involves expensive alchopops and aged, but not obliged, to admit students to “blatant ass-kissing”). use any free computers. Dear Editor, If I may, I’d like to contribute a brief As far as available hours goes, assumaddendum on what women want: ing that reasonable hours of work are I was mildly amused by Adam Curran’s 1) What do we want? Simple. One between 09.00 and 22.00 (Library opening recent article concerning gap years and the word... RESPECT. 2) When we say, “We hours), each student has access to around people who take them. I would venture need to talk,” “I’m not upset,” or even 3.5 hours a week on central computing that he has not taken a gap year and does “NO,” that is precisely what we mean. facilities. This does not consider: depart- not know anyone who has either, more of However, for women with no modi- mental computing facilities; student own- this later. cum of self-esteem, all rules from the ership of computers (52% of student His first paragraph really sums up the Rogers article apply. respondents to the Computing Service rest of the article, and states that overSurvey in Spring 2000 had a computer at privileged and pretentious westerners are Allison Palmer, Goodricke College University); the use of computers outside the only people who take years out. I am the above hours; and Unix workstations. quite proud of the fact that I took a year Dear Editor, In terms of classroom provision, there out, it was by far the best and most useful is a constant programme of updating exist- thing I have ever done. Every single perI would like to correct some statements ing facilities and providing new class- son I know who has taken a year out made in your previous article ‘Keeping the rooms - recent beneficiaries were the PC worked for the money to pay for it all. Right to Choose’ (9th May). The Right to study areas in Langwith and Goodricke Clearly then, it is not the over-privileged, Choose Fund was set up by the Students’ using space provided by the removal of but the hard working who take gap years. Union to provide for students who find College libraries. By the new academic Adam seems to have got the whole themselves pregnant during there course, year two new study areas will provide a ethos of the gap year entirely wrong, as it and students with children. The Fund con- further 55 PCs, 31 in Halifax Court and 24 is a year for the individual to do whatever sists of a Childcare Subsidy, an Antenatal in Alcuin. they like with, although most people who Subsidy and an Abortion Fund. Computing classrooms/ study areas go on them treat them as an extended Approximately 90% of the money in the managed by the Computing Service are holiday, and a chance to see beyond the fund is spent on the Childcare Subsidy. available to all students, regardless of borders of their own lives, not a journey of The Fund has existed since 1987 and has College affiliations. The Colleges do not self discovery or enlightenment as he been consistently supported by York stu- own the facilities and students have nei- seems to believe. dents since then. The Education and ther exclusive nor preferential rights to use As for his ridiculous comments conWelfare Officer administers the Childcare facilities in their own Colleges; timetables cerning hygiene and facial hair, all the Subsidy and the Antenatal Fund. Contacts posted on classroom doors to assist stu- people I lived with were fastidiously for the Abortion Fund are as follows: Cath dents in identifying available space. clean, you had to be to stay healthy. There Howe and Helen Coverdale (Women’s Finally, the Computing Service has wasn’t even a bit of designer stubble Officers), Samantha Lipkowska (LGB liaised with the Estates Office in an which lasted more than a few days. Officer), Cheryl Smith (Access Officer), attempt to resolve temperature problems Whilst, I agree that you can never Lizzie Tate (Education and Welfare in D/114. Since a major overhaul of the fully experience a culture without comOfficer), Sophie Jewett (RAG President). ventilation system last year there have pletely immersing yourself in it, which is Any student who has been refused an been far fewer complaints. by and large impossible to do in a year, I abortion on the NHS can contact any of believe that gap years are extremely good these individuals for help. For further Joanne Casey for development of character, and also information, contact Helen Coverdale and Computing Service Information Officer social skills, for if you are travelling alone Cath Howe (Women’s Officers) or Lizzie you have to be able to communicate with Tate (Education and Welfare Officer). Dear Editor, people around you. Finally, I would give a few words of Lizzie Tate, SU Welfare Officer A general recommendation given to first advice: if you haven’t taken a year out yet, time writers is simple, ‘write about what do so soon, because after Uni life proper Dear Editor, you know’. If only this advice had been starts, (or so I have been told) and chances given to Adam Curran (“Credibility Gap”, and resources to go abroad for something The article ‘www.BookedOut.com’ in Issue 129), our favourite University tab- other than a two week trip to Ibiza become Vision 30/5/01, contains factual inaccura- loid may not have been tarnished by what very rare. All it takes is a little imagination cies and misconceptions, resulting in a can only be described as a ‘toilet’ piece of and some organisation. distorted picture of the level of computing journalism. provision. If it had been possible for Mr Curran Max Goldsmith, James College The PC / Student numbers are as fol- to cram any more stereotypical state vs. lows: 300 computers (155 PCs in class- public school prejudices into his article I Dear Editor, rooms, 125 PCs in study areas, and 20 would have been surprised. Was the editor Unix workstations) are provided centrally. away from his post when this issue was Having just read quite possibly the third More are provided by Departments: a sur- sent to press, or does he have an excuse for worst film review of my life, I had to write vey in March 2000 found a total of 468 letting through such poorly informed regarding the article in the last issue of computers accessible to students in ‘wank’ (excuse my French – it really pis- Vision on The Mummy Returns. Departments, making 768 altogether. sed me off)? Not only was the body of the The biggest, glaring omission Student numbers for 2000/01 show text very poor, but the grammar and read- involved the writer’s limited knowledge of 6927 undergraduates and 894 taught grad- ability of the piece were even worse. the (real) star of the film, the most electriuates (research graduates typically have The one resounding impression the fying man in sports entertainment, The access to an office computer), a total of reader takes away from the composition Rock. However small his part actually is, 7821. Of these, 256 are distance learners, put forward by Adam, is that he has obvi- The Rock’s lead role in the next film in the leaving 7565 students requiring access to ously never left the country, be it on holi- sequence, the prequel Scorpion King, campus computing facilities. Current pro- day or travelling (was that a recommenda- means that his character, and more prevision averages at about one computer per tion by Social Services? – who knows). cisely him, is of significant importance. I 10 students. Just to leave you with a small abstract hope this helps educate your readers. In terms of booking for classes, cen- of what I took away from travelling for six tral computing facilities are provided in months with my girlfriend. The more time D Johnson
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
COMMENT : 7
They may be boring, but they sure are fun Like the stupidest salmon in spawning season, I’m hooked again. And in the midst of everything else, ‘Big Brother’ offers the student-viewer some peculiarly unique pleasures: not least the chance to see the outline of their university-life played out in microcosm
garethWALKER THERE HAVE been far too many articles about Big Brother already - and here’s another. Like many, I scoffed. How could it possibly be as good the second-time round? Funkily redesigned as it might be, the house would only be populated by a clutch of TV-presenter wannabes, each with the requisite squad of agents, stylists and publicists already signed-up and waiting for them on the outside. How wrong I was. Now, like the stupidest salmon in spawning season, I’m hooked again. And in the midst of everything else, Big Brother offers the studentviewer some peculiarly unique pleasures: not least the chance to see the outline of their university-life played out in microcosm. The earlier weeks of the programme are a sort of Freshers’ Week-come-firstyear, in which a gang of perfect strangers try very hard to convince themselves that they like each other while papering over the cracks with prodigious alcohol consumption. As the numbers are whittled down, somewhere around the mid-point the show shifts into ‘second-year’ mode. Where previously the name of the game had been forging friendships as quickly
and unselectively as possible, now the priority becomes one of desperately trying to tolerate the tics and strange eccentricities of others Awkward adolescents are always convinced that it’s just their family which is weird and dysfunctional. It’s a joy to see the Big Brother inmates slowly arrive at the same realisation most students who’ve shared a house will have already grasped - live in close proximity to anyone for long enough and even the most apparently reasonable, pleasant individuals will likelyas-not turn out to be completely wacko bundles of prejudices and neuroses. The program-makers have done their homework. The obvious starlets have been weeded out, and they seem to have sensibly given-up all hope of any ratings-grabbing sex action. Possibly Paul and Helen were the last desperate roll of the dice. Unfortunately even Paul - a man who studies FHM with the kind of fierce concentration elderly Rabbis reserve for reading the Torah - blanched at taking advantage of Penny’s desperate affection-seeking; while there’s a good chance that the only thing to have ever made a lasting impression upon Helen’s otherwise unfurrowed brain is the need to keep maleattention at a wary distance. All platform-heels, good make-up and ‘attitude’ with a capital ‘A’, the women must have looked good in the auditions.
Josh and Brian, proving that gay people are the same as everyone else Within minutes of actually entering the house though, they were already circling each other, flicking their hair and mentally sharpening their claws. Now, when they’re not actually bitching behind each-other’s back, then they’re all tearfully accusing each other of bitching. In the midst of this tedious ‘I’m the queen of the castle’ backbiting all the girls can seem to agree on is - somewhat hypocritically - that the men are ‘boring’; presumably because of the lads’ reluctance to take sides, hold their chosen mirror and tell them that they’re the fairest of them all. The truth is though, it’s the chance to
The Sketch....................... from the james revolutionary front
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The Suppository TIM SMITHURD TOPS POLL Article by Tim Smithurd A recent Visoin Poll has revealed that I am in fact the best. The poll, conducted by me and my friends, has startlingly revealed my total superiority to the lesser mortals on campus. The poll, measuring such important criteria as seniority in the Visoin Organisation, jaunty walking style, affection for camel skin and general ‘Smithurdyness’, was compiled when I had a free day off from lectures last Thursday. More surprises were in store for myself, as I also topped self-composed categories as varied as most influential editors on campus papers, and most important members of Clan Smithurd. No one can be as shocked as I by these results, but the people have spoken. I would like to thank all those responsible for this survey from the bottom of my heart. They mean more to me than anyone.
ON!! COMPETITION!! COMP Through the Challenge
This person obviously does not spend much time in the country. In a sumptuous recreation of chalet chic, the rooms are replete with foreign trophies, from cuckoo clocks to fondue sets and stacks of Nazi bullion. As we walk to the bedroom we gaze in awe at an unprecedented pornography collection. Note the many photographs of the homeowner, and particularly the benevolent self-portrait atop the mantle. Lets look at the Evidence: A fondness for the Alps, porn, massive ego. Who lives in a house like this? PRIZE: VHS copy of Johnny Depp at his finest in ‘Don Juan de Marco’. Closing date: 27th June. Answers to email@example.com . [THIS IS A
LETTERS - A word from our munificent leader… Dear Editor, Greetings proles, Since my last missive it has come to my attention that there are some who actually long for a return to the days of political argument and debate. Apparently, in the old days, ‘normal’ students actually got to pass policy at quorate UGMs. Tish and Pish! My efforts to depoliticise UGMs has actually made my job a lot easier to do! UGMs have never been as inclusive. In fact, they are now so inclusive that I can fit all those who attend in my living room afterwards for a curry.
It has also come to my attention that some may have a desire to ‘repoliticise’ the union next year and get more people back to UGMs. All I can say is that this will only serve to set a dangerous precedent. Therefore I can only recommend that next year you elect another ineffectual JCRC despot to keep up my good work! If you wish to read more, if indeed you can read, purchase my seminal work, ‘Politics: My Part in its Downfall’, which I shall most likely be hawking from the pavement outside the City Screen sometime next year. Yours, Chairman Bin Xoudan
observe the varied specimens of twentyfirst century mankind on display that makes the show. There’s the Alpha-male competitiveness of Stuart, who winked and flexed his way through a fortnight. Then there’s Bubble, the Jack Dee of the outfit who hides a precocious unchanneled intelligence behind his hats and adolescent intensity. Meanwhile, if the first Big Brother’s greatest social service was to let the British public know that you didn’t have to be butch man-hater to be a lesbian, this time round Josh and Bryan are providing a
Student activity involves so much more than just politics Apathy is far from the reality. Just because you don’t go to our UGMs doesn’t mean you don’t care about us. You don’t have time to be apathetic
NEWS IN BRIEF HEALTH – Food poisoning sweeps campus. Welfare Officer denies all knowledge. RAG – P&P Officers evicted from the Shamelessly Derivative House. Rest of housemates to starve after staking entire weekly food bill on failed UGM quoracy challenge. FASHION – Mothercare to be official clothing provider for new sabbatical team. UNION – “If it’s got a backbone and a vote, I’ll do it!” Don Juan gives us an exclusive on his personal life. - Union to embark on Five-Year Plan. Chairman Bin Xoudan stresses his intention to be “In Ripon by the Spring” DIFFERENTIAL RATS – Vermin move out of Goodricke in protest over accommodation. EXCLUSIVE! – Next year’s sabbatical team welcomed as ‘unified source for good’ with straight face.
GRAND BALL 2001 ARE YOU A STUDENT? ARE YOU PISS POOR? Can’t afford a ticket? Fancy guarding toilets amid revelry? Fancy observing the drunken debauchery of friends whilst stone cold sober? Fancy realising with bitterness the reality of the socio-economic hierarchy? STEWARDING COULD BE FOR YOU! Apply YUSU.
similar educational turn. For all those Sun readers who’d wondered what exactly it is gay men ‘do’ together, now we know they chat, they laugh, occasionally they bicker and row but most the time they just try to get-on with one another as best they can They behave, in fact, just the same as anyone else. Lastly (lets forget Paul) there’s Dean. It makes for dull television, but his solid dependability is such that it hasn’t yet crossed anybody’s mind to even nominate him for eviction. A useful reminder, incidentally, that were they to fill the house with emotionally secure over-thirties - i.e. the majority of the population - there’d be nothing more exciting to watch than twelve weeks of proper grown-ups behaving maturely. As it is, sadly the entertainment is unlikely to last. As last time, the interesting and the strong fall quickest by the wayside - too strange! too intimidating! and the whole contest becomes one of the survival of the meekest. My money’s on Elizabeth - not so much a woman as an empty void patchily filled by dull platitudes and some mild lip-licking flirtation. Why? Because, love it as I do, the bottom line remains the same: while other competitions reward daring and intelligence, Big Brother is the game-show equivalent of New Labour - it glorifies the inoffensive and crowns the mediocre.
benYOUDAN ONE OF the major things that I have noticed over the last year in office is how little people in general understand about being a student. There is a bizarre attitude that all we do is sit around bars, sleep and watch TV. While I agree that many students do little else but sit in bars, sleep and watch TV (a lifestyle I tried my self for my entire first year), it is far from the reality. It is this complete misconception that has labeled students as apathetic. Apparently we do nothing, care about nothing and generally can’t be arsed to do anything. This attitude towards us has been one of the hardest barriers that myself and other Union officers has had to face over the last year. It’s made even harder that many students also share this attitude about their colleagues. People permanently complain that nobody wants to go to UGMs and that nobody knows anything about them. I find this attitude very frustrating as a do not share the idea that students are apathetic. Just because you don’t go to our UGMs doesn’t mean you don’t care about us. In between playing sport, rehearsing for Drama Soc, attending a JCRC meeting, playing for your college sport team and going out on the YSTV social you don’t have time to be apathetic. York has more societies per student than any other SU in England. We have over 70 ratified societies compared to 5 or 6 at Unions three times our size. There are over 150 elected posts attached to the Union and among the highest participation rates in the UK. We set the standard for NUS. Despite this people still find time to
complain that you are apathetic. Students do care about their lives at York, and they do care about the Union. However they care in the way they want to. They care about the activities they do, the sports they play and about getting the best out of their time here. For some people having a direct input into the Union is something they really care about, for others they are happy never to go near the Union as long as it makes sure their society keeps going. I do feel that we have achieved a lot this year in tackling such perceptions of apathy. I hope that people realise that there is more to the Students’ Union than a few people in Goodricke dining hall every other Tuesday. We do listen to what you want, we do support your activities and we are not vicious bunch of shouty monsters moaning about everything in our Goodricke lair. We have moved away from the tradition of a politically dominated Union and I hope through this we have achieved better approachability and proved our relevance to all students, not just the minority of them. By no means has it been ideal and we have upset a few on our way, but I hope we leave something for our successors to build on. YUSU should promote and celebrate the diversity of our activities, not hide behind them. People only ever focus on criticism and never on the successes, and it is the successes that make us credible and relevant. With that in mind I would like to thank all of those who have helped us have a very happy and successful year (especially the Union staff) and wish our successors the best of luck. Ben Youdan is YUSU President He writes in his personal capacity
8 : POLITICS yorkVision
June 20th 2001
The power of one man President Bush may have signed a $1.3 trillion tax cut, but how much more of his agenda will he be able to push through Congress? Peter Edwards puts the change of power in the Senate into perspective IT WAS Benjamin Disraeli who said that “No good Government can be long secure without a formidable opposition.” In America, the opposition may be getting just too powerful for President George W Bush. Jim Jeffords, until recently a Republican, albeit a moderate one, left a party he had served twelve years, to assume independent status in the US Senate. The Senate, previously divided evenly, is now 50-49 in favour of the Democrats, Jeffords being the sole independent. He has said that he will side with
the Democrat caucus on administrative matters, so where does this leave the Bush Administration? As Vice-President, Dick Cheney is automatically President of the Senate, and has the power to cast the tie-breaking vote in a deadlock. As part of their overtures, the Democrats offered Mr Jeffords the chair of the powerful Environment and Public Works Committee, prompting some to suggest his move was on careerist rather than ideological grounds. I shall try to explain why Mr Jeffords moved, and the consequences it will have for the
Enjoy the tax cut, it may be your last
Republican Party. In his state of Vermont, Mr Jeffords declared his intention to leave the Republicans “A very difficult decision.” He cited “Moderation, tolerance, [and] fiscal responsibility” as the principles that first attracted him to the Republican Party. He went on to say that “Increasingly, I find myself in disagreement with my party.” Since President Bush’s election, some Republican senators have lost the “Freedom to argue and influence and ultimately to shape the party’s agenda.” Mr Jeffords highlighted the areas where he expects to be at odds with the Bush administration, “The areas of choice, the direction of the judiciary, tax and spending decisions, missile defense, energy and the environment… [but] the largest for me is education.” Despite this, the proposed Republican tax cut of $1.3 trillion passed in the Senate more or less as it was before the defection. Mr Jeffords had said that he gave his word to Mr Bush that he “Would not intercept or try to intervene in the signing of that bill.” The Bush administration is pro-life, whilst Mr Jeffords is pro-choice. The new administration’s immediately hostile attitude to the pro-choice lobby obviously sets them at odds with Mr Jeffords. Also, the hardline Bush administration has a new energy plan, partly to increase oil drilling and the use of nuclear power. Coming on top of Mr Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto agreement, moderate Conservatives such as Mr Jeffords feel very out of step with the current Republican way of thinking.
Trent Lott, the outgoing majority leader, called Mr Jeffords’ move “A coup of one.” This hostile reaction is understandable, but may be the result of a loss of power for Mr Lott, as the Democrat Tom Daschle has now taken over his role in the Senate. With a Democrat majority, the President will have to fight even harder to get his measures pushed through the Senate. Mr Bush should also be worried by recent press reports that Senator John McCain is considering leaving the party. The popular Mr McCain, whom Mr Bush beat to win the Republican Presidential
Moderate conservatives feel very out of step with the current Republican way of thinking...the President will now have to fight even harder to get his measures through the senate
nomination, would be a high profile defector. The five million votes he garnered in last year’s primaries are an indication of his popularity, and could yet encourage him to make a third-party challenge for the presidency in 2004. A McCain candidacy could split the Republican vote, opening the door for a probable challenge by former Vice President Al Gore or Hilary Clinton. Mr McCain has denied these reports, but little can be read into these statements, as he would keep his own council until the moment of any official declaration. Whatever happens, few Republicans will forgive Jim Jeffords if his defection opens the fissures of a brittle Bush presidency.
Jeffords - the man who started it all
McVeigh got what he wanted Timothy McVeigh was responsible for the Oklahoma bombing, the single worst act of terrorism on American soil. Yet his execution has been widely condemned. Chris Cermak whether his execution was in fact justified In 1998, the United States overcame Iran for third place regarding the number of instances of capital punishment being administered. It was a close fought race which saw Iran end with 66 executions and the US with 68 that year. First and second place went to China (1,067) and Congo (100) respectively. While the majority of Americans would probably not wish to be associated with the aforementioned countries in such manner, 64% are currently in favour of the death penalty. Some comfort might have been found in the fact that this figure is down from 80% in 1994, however, America’s fascination with the recent execution of Timothy McVeigh would appear to have shown the world that the United States is as united in its support of capital punishment as ever. Yet to take this view would be unfair as McVeigh is widely regarded as an exception to the rule. Support for the death penalty has waned due to concerns about its effective implementation: a number of people support it in theory but not in practice. Some of these claims have been confirmed by two recent studies into the death penalty system. The first, released on June 12 and conducted by researchers at Universities of New York and Colombia of 5,760 capital cases between 1973 (when the death penalty was reinstated by the US Supreme Court) and 1995, discovered that 68 percent of death sentences are overturned in appeals as a consequence of ‘unreliable evidence or procedural defects’ (ABCNEWS.com). Such evidence has led to over 80 percent of appeals dealing the defendant a lesser sentence, while 7 percent pro-
claimed the defendant innocent. Another study of 973 capital cases between 1995 and 2000 (begun by former Attorney General Janet Reno and released on June 8), revealed that 83 percent of capital cases in the study were against minorities. While a greater proportion of whites up against such punishment find themselves on death row than other minorities, the truth still remains that one in three people executed are black. Yet these are not the only worrying findings: 90 percent of those on death row
Such extensive coverage was precisely what Timothy McVeigh desired. Indeed publicity was his main reason for carrying out the Oklahoma bombing to begin with were unable to afford their own lawyers. Meanwhile, evidence of defense lawyers sleeping in court and practicing while drunk exists. Such facts provide ground for claims that whether capital punishment is handed down depends on the strength of
the prosecutor and defense lawyer. While such problems plague the majority of justice systems in the world, the fact that a death sentence cannot be revoked naturally provides much greater cause for concern. It is a hard cold fact that in a case of two individuals, both committing exactly the same crime, one might be put to death, the other not. Another addition to the long list of practical problems plaguing use of the death penalty are the recent results of DNA testing in the United States. These have led to a number of convicted criminals being proclaimed innocent, including some on death row. A number of states have consequently declared a moratorium on the death penalty, until a number of defects in the justice system can be resolved. President Bush instead insisted during his presidential campaign that he was positive of the guilt of every person that received the death penalty under his watch as Governor of Texas. All of the above studies and comments boil down to one main practical reason for the death penalty to be abolished: with the amount of people executed in the United States, some of these may either have been innocent or at the very least did not deserve to die for their crimes. This is summed up by the late Charles Black Jr., a constitutional scholar, who spoke of “the inevitability of caprice and mistake.” These are the principal reasons why support for the death penalty is in decline in the United States. Has the execution of Timothy McVeigh reversed this trend? Indeed it has not, as all of the above reasons against capital punishment do not hold in Mr McVeigh’s case. There are no
questions of malpractice, racism (McVeigh being white) or innocence. McVeigh could afford his own lawyers, and there is no evidence of the lawyers he chose being inept. McVeigh has also confessed of the crime, even going as far as having a biography written, titled American Terrorist in which he speaks of the crime in great detail to the authors. He considers the 19 children under six years of age, that were killed in the blast “Collateral damage.” While many would naturally be
against use of the death penalty even in a case as clear cut as this, it is the media spectacle surrounding his execution that is most horrifying. The 300 witnesses of the execution - 30 in person (chosen by lottery!) while the rest watched over closedcircuit television) – constituted the largest audience since the last public execution in the United States, in 1936. Such extensive coverage was precisely what Timothy McVeigh desired. He relished it – he needed a platform on which to express his anti-government views. Indeed publicity was his main reason for carrying out the Oklahoma bombing six years ago to begin with. Giving him exactly what he wanted all along is
Timothy Mcveigh - enjoying every minute of it
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
War of no return Nina Blondal IN A country riveted by terror, the capital of Columbia, Bogotá, has long been spared from the extensive political violence plaguing the rest of the country. Now it is no longer so. In May several major bombs exploded in the country’s largest cities, killing numerous people and injuring hundreds. Two of these bombings took place in Bogotá, and rumours suggested that several other devices were found and detonated close to the American Embassy. This raid of terror attacks has prompted fears that Colombia is facing another painful bombing campaign similar to that experienced in the early 1990s. Then it was conducted by one of the country’s major drug cartels as an act of protest against government policies allowing for
extradition on drug charges to the United States. This time it is still unclear who are behind the attacks, but the possibilities are plentiful. It could be any of the two major leftist guerrilla groups that are reigning
Colombia might be facing another painful bombing campaign similar to that experienced in the early 1990s
Can the government control the rebels?
large parts of the country and are engaged in a civil war with the government. It could also be the paramilitary groups that are fighting the guerrillas by massacring everyone who appears to be supportive of them. Or, it could be an act of any of the powerful drug traffickers operating. There is also, however, another possibility. The Colombian military has long pressured for the passing of a controversial anti-terrorism bill, which would provide security forces with broad powers in order to deal with guerrilla groups. It would, for instance, allow them to detain suspects up to seven days without charges, and to arrest people who have been singled out by fellow citizens as criminals or subversives. It is a well-know fact that the military has long been supporting and training paramilitary death squads, despite laws prohibiting this, and despite the paramilitaries’ atrocious massacres of civilians. Could it possibly be that the recent terror attacks were conducted by an already autonomous military as a means of gaining extra power in their war against their much disliked enemies, the guerrillas? Certainly, the bombing spree in May prompted supporters of this bill with extra leverage when negotiating its faith in Congress. Regardless of whom are behind the many recent acts of terrorism, it seems certain that Colombia’s problems will not be solved by passing a bill, which would be detrimental for any attempt to improve human rights. Rather, what the country needs is to limit the autonomy of the military so that there will not be any future doubt about its involvement in terrorist acts. In a country where the activities of military, paramilitaries, government and drug traffickers are deeply entangled, however, achieving this will be difficult. But for the sake of the Colombian people one must hope that it will one day be possible.
POLITICS : 9
Remember the massacre Amanda Z. Hamilton TIANANMEN, LIKE the man who lies embalmed there, is a symbol of contradictions. The hordes of tourists and fruit sellers almost belie the bloodshed that has marked China’s political dramas of the past century. The Chinese say that to become a true Chinese man you must go to the Great Wall. It is an unspoken reality that to partake in politics you must go to Tiananmen. The square has seen Imperial Edicts been issued in solemn splendor and bloody battles as warlords fought for supremacy in the early twentieth century. Tiananmen is like the sandcastle upon which the mighty flag of victory is planted. Mao Tse Tung planted his flag there in 1949, shouting majestically his vision for Tiananmen: “I hope the day will come
public expression of grief concerning the ‘incident’ has served to re-enforce concerns that the political situation has not progressed from the stance in 1989. Last year the news director and two editors of Zhuhai television station in Southern China were designated to different jobs having shown a two second clip of the 1989 uprising. Earlier this month the Chinese police tried to bar the mothers of students shot during the massacre from visiting their sons’ graves. The Government’s attitude towards the 1989 ‘turmoil’ as they phrase it, is exemplary of both their fear of repeat uprisings and the extent of their use of power over the Chinese population. The official interpretation of the Tiananmen incident which mentions the media “Taking the cue from a small number of people, wrongly guiding public opinion, escalating the turmoil and throw-
Tiananmen square - the sight of many battles for supremacy
when all you can see from Tiananmen Gate is a forest of tall chimneys belching out clouds of smoke.” His environmental policies may have been dubious but his desires for industrial progress were certainly determined. The yellow arches of McDonald’s which are the present vision from Tiananmen Gate were not part of Mao’s vision of China’s industrial progress. He had in mind steel works rather than conveyors of hamburgers feeding ‘capitalist roaders’. But the production of hamburgers has proved far more successful than Mao’s backyard steel furnaces, a feature of the ‘Great Leap Forward’, ever were. Mao managed to satisfy his personal desires just as the Emperors in the Forbidden City satisfied theirs with multiple concubines. But he failed to satisfy the populace who at his death were still faced with a distinct need for reform and an intrusive government. The incident of 1989 was representative of both of these conditions. Twelve years on from what is commonly referred to as ‘The Tiananmen Square Massacre’, the government are trying to prevent spitting and spontaneous kite flying in the square. They are also trying to dispel any attempts to bring discussion of the incident into the public arena. They would far rather it was hidden under wraps, just as the former Emperor’s and Mao’s Concubines were. The suppression of information and of
ing Beijing and even the whole country in a serious anarchic situation.” Whilst such dubious interpretations drive even critics of Ranke’s scientific approach towards history to question it’s validity, it also underlines the key fear of the Communist Party; anarchy. They perhaps fear that an uprising similar to the one which put Mao Tse Tung in power could occur again and uproot the stability of the Communist regime. The symbolic potency of Tiananmen reinforces the government’s anxiety about uprisings there. Yet the Communist Party is content with the hypocrisy which Tiananmen actually symbolises. The figurehead of Chinese Communism, Mao Tse Tung, lies embalmed in the Mausoleum whilst plastic flowers are purchased by visitors, laid at his feet and wheeled back round to be resold moments later in a macabre capitalist charade. The Monument to the heroes of the people simultaneously destroys the cosmological path from one end of the square to the other and ignores the real heroes of the square who died in the protests of 1989. This hypocrisy is embraced by the regime but the fear that Tiananmen will become the focus of more revolutionary activity (or should I say counter-revolutionary activity) remains uppermost in the minds of the leadership.
Please: do not talk of the massacre
Fresh Faces Moving on
10 : POLITICS yorkVision
THE DUST is starting to settle. The inevitable has happened; Labour was re-elected with a landslide victory, Keith Vaz has been sacked, William Hague has resigned and Ffion Hague wore blue for election night. Not so predictably, even to New Labour anoraks like myself, Robin Cook has been demoted, Estelle Morris is Secretary of State for Education and even more surprisingly Nick Brown is still in the Cabinet, just. The new Cabinet will have assembled in Downing Street. The new junior and middle-ranking ministers will have been named and issued with a bigger workload, a salary to match and a new pager. As all this is happening, no doubt at an explosive pace, there will be much more happening that the uneducated observer will miss. For instance, I predict that the next leader of the Labour Party has entered parliament at this election, or will be elected at the next. Expect a leadership contest in ten years, with the names Cooper, Lammy, Milliband, Taylor and Twigg being prominent. Alistair Campbell will be writing the script now. Campbell has just become Director of Communications and Strategy, a new post involving a longer term vision for New
June 20th 2001
Labour and ensuring that his bright young team of media unit apprentices will always be one step ahead of the lobby. His role can be compared to that of the character of Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Campbell has been replaced in part by his former deputy, Godric Smith, in my opinion a worthy graduate of Campbell’s careful schooling. Campbell’s promotion is not the only change amongst the basement corridors of Number Ten. David Milliband, Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit has been elevated into the Commons; representing the South Shields seat. I expect Milliband to be replaced by the high flying Matthew Taylor, currently head of the New Labour leaning think tank the IPPR and a safe bet for a Labour seat next time. Anji Hunter, one of Blair’s most trusted office warriors will also move on. Hunter will move across London into the Millbank fortress, where she will take on a powerful role, perhaps succeeding Margaret McDonaugh as Party General Secretary. Another one of Blair’s trusted office troops, the long serving Sally Morgan has been rewarded with a peerage and a position in the Cabinet Office. So what about in the Commons. What changes can be expected in the next few years as Blair prepares for a difficult deci-
sion on the Euro and the next General Election. Expect the obvious high flyers to be flying high, the likes of Yvette Cooper, currently on maternity leave. Expect Stephen Twigg, (think Portillo, think 1997) to be a big player. It is a matter of time for Twigg, who doesn’t need a pager to stay on message, he spouts the party line with a natural ease. David Lammy (Tottenham) will have moved closer to the front bench, along with our own hardworking MP John Grogan who can expect a Parliamentary Private Secretaryship at the very least. The newly elected John Mann (Bassetlaw), not yet a familiar name, but well respected amongst the most powerful and inner-most circles of New Labour, will slide into the workings of parliament with comfortable ease. The confident Mann can expect quick promotion. As for the Labour candidate list next time around; Matthew Taylor of the IPPR is worth a bet, along with other unnamed faces of the Millbank war room. Don’t expect favourable coverage from the Mirror’s Paul Routledge and the BBC’s Andrew Marr to go unrewarded either. Exciting times are ahead, and most definitely for the New Labour ground troops. Expect much welcomed fresh faces, Euro entry and another landslide next time.
Recognise anyone? From left to right: Stephen Twigg, Yvette Cooper, David Lammy
An alternate view Sam Streatfeild
THE CORKS of cava rather than champagne would have popped at Millbank and Number 10 in the early hours of Friday morning. For despite what this government of spin might have said about low turnouts not being relevant, it was in fact the biggest piece of solid evidence thus far that Tony Blair’s administration is out of touch, arrogant, but also the best of a bad bunch. As we all know, fewer than one eligible member of the electorate in four voted for Tony’s band of tolerably happy men. Despite what might have been an opportunity for potential Labour MP’s to, heaven forbid, speak their mind, it proved to be the electorate which made the issues hit home. But somehow the Labour machine seemed to be able to overcome the Prescott incident, or the woman chastising the Prime Minister for his poor NHS
record and indeed the cynical parachuting in of Shaun Woodward the Tory defector, who even had the cheek to claim the Conservatives had forgotten their roots!
What the Tories had forgotten to do was to sack Mr Hague’s advisors. The man himself, although young and of another planet, is a more than competent politician surrounded by people who only seemed able to choose issues that were either largely irrelevant, or choose policies that were downright bad. It may be argued that we live in an era in which the policy is redundant, but the thrashing the Tories took proves that this is not true. Is this enough to give Tony Blair and his government a mandate? There have already been suggestions that he will be even more high handed than before, for he has already given himself and his ministers the full pay rise George Brown insisted they left alone in 1997. His assumptions that if he told everyone that the foot
A landslide victory has been dealt - Mr. Blair must now return the favour
and mouth crisis was under control, then it would be so, is also an indication of things to come. The muted applause which has come from the media and public alike again shows that he now lacks the touch that used to be akin to that of Midas. His dismissal of Robin Cook from the Foreign Office, smacks of the ruthlessness he knows he is now going to have to show in order to deliver on what he promised in 1997, let alone in 2001. This does not mean that we have seen the end of Tony’s Cronies, for as the times become tougher, the Prime Minister realises that he is going to need friends in high places, hence the retaining of his former flatmate, Lord (“the cock-up on the Millennium Dome wasn’t my fault”) Falconer, and the promotion of Gus MacDonald to deputy enforcer in the Cabinet Office who will be serving under the hard hitting deputy PM. To look at Tony Blair one would think that the past four years had been unmanageable, the hair has receded, but not at the rate the worry lines have grown. Yet during this term in office he must deliver. Possibilities of increased public-private partnerships will be a major cause for concern, the lack of ambition in the manifesto shows this, he realises how hard it is to make changes for the better. This is at a time when Charles Kennedy has made it clear that he will not co-operate in the same way that his predecessor, Paddy Ashdown, did. The Tories are in a Royal mess, and that may be the only real bonus which has come out of the election for Blair, making it look like a third term could be on the cards. However like this and the last election result, it would not be a win for the left over the right, or for competence against incompetence but a victory for style and apathy over substance and progress. The problem is, there seems to be no-one
Ayeesha Bhutta SO AFTER many days, thousands of soundbites, miles of column inches and one punch, it’s over. A truly pathetic turn out returned the government to power with a net loss of one seat. So nobody expected the Tories to win but even for a hardened politico like myself Peter Snow’s most elaborate graphics could not make a night of “Labour holds Southend on Sea” exciting. The aftermath of the election however has seen the political pulse quicken. First, William Hague threw in the towel as Tory leader. Thus he has initiated a bitter contest for leadership between an unnaturally coiffed man with a woman who some view as only just on the right side of sanity. Interestingly in a recent survey the majority of voters said they would prefer Ken Clarke as Tory leader to either. The future direction of the Tory party now hangs in the balance and much change will need to happen if it is to regain power in 2006 or even 2010. How far it has to go was shown this week by Norman Tebbit snipping innuendo regarded Portillo’s past. Make no mistake: at the moment the Tory party is about as socially inclusive as the freemasons. Crossing to the victors, Tony Blair duly posed for cuddly family photographs and then proved that behind the smile there is a bloodthirsty streak as he wielded the axe in a wide ranging cabinet reshuffle. On the level of soap opera it was exciting. Robin Cook who has a promising future as a garden gnome was unceremoniously removed from his plum job at the Foreign Office to fill an ill-defined post in the Commons. Also a number of women were introduced into the cabinet including in the prime posts of education (Estelle Morris) and trade (Patricia Hewitt). Although we perhaps will only have true equality when such news no longer attracts astounded comment that there is more than one woman in cabinet. But when the dust created by such shifting sands eventually settles, will the landscape revealed be any different? Will the next four years simply be a continuation of the last four? I would argue not for a number of reasons. For a start in his
Robin Cook, who has a promising future as a garden gnome, was unceremoniously removed from his plum job at the foreign office to fill an ill defined post in the Commons
reshuffle Blair made a number of significant changes to the structure of Whitehall. John Prescott’s sprawling empire has been broken up amongst his colleagues. Stephen Byers takes Transport, Local Government and Regions while one of the biggest changes is the creation of a new super ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This could mean food and farming issues are now more closely linked to environmental concerns. Confusingly Prescott has kept some of his old responsibility and it remains to be seen if there will be power clashes in cabinet. Elsewhere the Department of Social Security has now gone to be replaced by a Department for Work and Pensions which will have responsibilities for welfare reform, employment and pensions. The Department of Education loses its “Employment” duties to concentrate on schooling and training. The Home Office has been honed to be a crime fighting only operation losing responsibility for data protection and human rights to the Lord Chancellor. Although Blair stopped short of the radical measure of creating a separate, elected, minister for justice. There are other reasons to believe the next four years will be different from the last. The campaign seems to have affirmed the government’s view that it is the pubic services that matter most to people. They have already poured cash in but we are still woefully behind Europe in terms of what we spend on our public services. However, the government is no longer tied to Tory spending plans and so could dramatically increase spending. There are also signs that the Blair government is prepared to think radically to achieve results. In a move that would have had Bevin turning in his grave, Labour let it be known that they no longer considered there to be any “ideological” problem with private sector involvement in the running of public services. Then there is the ever thorny issue of the Euro. Labour may take some cheer from the fact that a Euro-sceptic agenda did the Toriesno good and a pro- European one the Liberal Democrats no harm. The pressures for an early referendum from business and the EU are great. Robin Cook’s departure may be significant as he was an ardent Euro enthusiast while Jack Straw is more hostile. However, the position of Gordon Brown is what matters here. He decides when the five “tests” for entry are met. The dilemma for the a government obsessed with popularity is acute. If we go into the Euro it will alter the face of this country for ever. If we manage to improve our the standards in health care to even half the level they are on the continent it will benefit us all. If we let the private sector run our prisons and tube the implications for accountability are great (see Railtrack). The result of the election is crucial for all these issues and more. The lack of change at constituency level masks the fact that we are on the verge of major changes domestically and globally. As a country we’ve just entrusted New Labour to handle them. The only thing that is certain is that they will test Blair to the extreme. Be prepared for a stormy ride.
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
WIRED : 11
Mouse to trounce gamepad
Not everyone agrees with the idea that consoles are the doom of the PC. Steve Bonner explains his viewpoint GAME MANUFACTURERS must rub their hands with glee when they think of the immense profits that are still to be made from the general gaming public, especially when they look at the number of consoles around for them to utilise at the moment. Flick through any games magazine and you'll read column after column telling us about how the "future of gaming" is already on your doorstep and how the advent of faster engines and even faster game play will ultimately rock your world and keep your mesmerised for years to come. If this is the case, why then should we need to go out and buy all the new gear if we can get all we want with the consoles around now? I'm starting to lose track of all the proposed console releases over the next few years. The Playstation 2 has taken over from the original Playstation and smaller Playstation 1, but does a £300 DVD player that can play games really offer better value for money than the others? The X-Box from Microsoft is set to be released sometime in the future (after numerous setbacks with the reliability and quality of the hardware), and the Dolphin sometime after that. I'm sure most people will remember when the Game Boy and Game Gear were hot property, so it is easy to appreciate how quickly these things get out of date. I will concede that the differences between Mario Bros on the Game Boy and Tekken Tag Tournament on the PS2 are quite large, but should you need to buy a new console every four years, just to able to play bigger, more complex games? I think not. Whatever reasons you try to convince yourself with for forking out a grand for a PC it always comes down to one thing.. you want to play games on it. Lets put things in perspective for all you non-
Web Watch John White IT IS a bit of a slow time for the computer gaming industry as we are currently entering the lull in between Easter and summer. However, there are a few good releases looming on the horizon. Commandos 2: Men of Courage is soon to make an appearance, to be released on June 29th for the PC, and the Dreamcast and Playstation 2 releases to follow later on the year. The game follows the highly successful ‘Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines’, and continues in the same vain as the previous game - but with a full 3D engine and added features. Three new characters make an appearance, Lupin 'The Thief', Natasha 'The Seductress' and Whiskey 'The Dog'. We await with eager hands to see what their special abilities are against the Nazis. Check commandosgame.com for more. Staropia, for the PC, should be hitting the stores imminently, and is allegedly the only space based sim on the market. Seemingly an Alpha Centauri variant, it boasts nine alien races, various levels of micro management and a fresh new engine. Surf to staropiagame.com for more details. Whether it soars, or crashes and burns remains to be seen. A good site to retrieve the latest release information is gonegold.com which is extremely reliable and up to date. The site often finds when a game has gone gold (sent of for duplication) before the developers themselves do! Other similar sites are bluesnews. com & voodooextreme.com. Though these are more for the hardcore computer fanatic, and are quick with gaming information in general, rather than release information. On a lighter note, if you are looking for some amusement while on the web take a look at thefunnypapers.com where the top online cartoons are listed.
Eating gamepads are not recommeded by most respectable health sources. believers out there, because when you think about it, the PC is in a league of its own. Starting with multiplayer games, the
Dreamcast allowed you to play games over the Internet and cost about £150 when new. A basic modem for you compu-
ter as well as a network card and cable will cost no more than £45. The £300 PS2 gives you a slow DVD player, which you can buy for your PC at the reduced price of about £150. The PS2, Dolphin, X-Box, Dreamcast and N64 all claim to have the most advanced graphics around, but they really don't compare to the flexibility and superiority of almost any game on the PC. On top of that you have the added bonuses of word processing, email, full web access, unlimited modifications and readily available patches and updates to outdated games making them into a multiplayer dream world (Team Fortress, Total Annihilation, Quake III, etc). As well as all of this you have the invaluable bonuses of the superb solitaire and hearts, without which many University porters would slip into madness. I do agree that the average PC is out of most people's price range, but it is almost impossible to walk into an electrical retailer nowadays without having offers, sales and bargains on the latest equipment shoved in your face. I recently bought a new PC for just over a grand, and was actually quite shocked to see that my old model bought two years ago was at least
two grades below the lowest spec offered in the shop, and that was going for a mere £300. If you want a superb gaming experience it is well worth the extra money to buy a medium spec computer for about £600, as most PC's are quite a bit ahead of the latest games and will have no problems running them. The largest benefit of a PC is that you can upgrade whenever the games become too fast for hardware you have, rather than having to buy a brand new console. I do agree that the arcade classics, fighting and driving games are more fun on the consoles due to their inherent multiplayer nature, but if you have the extra money floating about, all the gizmos for the PS2 are echoed in the PC range, including force feedback steering wheels, multifunction joypads and gamesticks as well as laser pistols and multiplayer function through a network card (which means you have a full screen for each player, rather than a few square centimetres in the corner of a television set). PCs are, and always will be, far more advanced in every aspect than any console can possibly be, and with their versatility, they certainly are the future of gaming.
Is Z dead - or alive and kicking? Unfortunately nothing to do with Pulp Fiction, James White investigates the Bitmap Brothers Latest offering for the PC. TO SOMEONE who doesn't know the background, the title of this latest game might seem a bit bizarre. It also completely helps to give across the message that computer games are not violent, frantic excuses for men to vent their frustration by killing everything in sight. Hold on, got that the wrong way round. The title does give that impression, but you cannot judge a book by its cover. Does the same thing apply to computer games? In this case the answer is yes. 'Z: Steel Soldiers' is all about war and destruction. Though in the maker's defence, you are only destroying robots, not humans. For those that know, the original Z was a novel venture into the RTS (Real Time Strategy) area of computer gaming. The Bitmap Brothers, the designers who are fabled for such games as Speedball, Magic Pockets, and The Chaos Engine, decided that the problem with the other examples of that genre on the scene were that people collected resources, built up one large force, and attacked. According them, this slowed the game down, and made it fairly predictable. The same tactic could be employed repeatedly to beat the computer, though multiplayer games were another story. Their solution to this problem was to remove the idea of resource management from the equation all together, and focus much more on the combat itself. In Z, the original and the sequel, you do not mine minerals, harvest spice, or chop down wood. Instead, you fight directly for territories, and territories provide credits. The more territories you control, the more credits you get, the more troops you can churn out, and the better you are at fighting. The only way to claim a territory is to send in an attacking force, and as both sides want the best force available, the game is a pitched battle for territories, the balance often switching back and forth until one of the players topples over. This is all well in theory, but did it work in practice? For the original Z, it sadly did not. The game was too frantic, too difficult. You only had a set amount of troop production factories per map, and set defences, you could not build your own. Though well hyped, the game did not do well. That was the old game, and this is definitely the newer one, and it does show. The graphics are quite spectacular, in fully rendered 3D - and if you have a good enough graphics card are getting very near photo realistic quality. The gameplay still follows the mantra of the old game, but
has been tweaked to allow it to be more playable. Every player has a Command HQ, which is their most vital building in the game. It churns out Construction Bots. These bots can build buildings and defence, which does an admirable change for adjusting the balance. The main flaw in the original was that you had to pay attention to everything at once - something that the standard version of human has difficulty doing. Though this still applies to a certain extent with 'Z : Steel Soldiers', the fact that you can build defence where you want it does wonders, and allows you some leeway. These bots also defend and can build troop factories, to bolster your army further. The unit hierarchy has taken a more scissors, paper and stone aspect, which also helps life. Air, Sea, Vehicle and Infantry units are available, each with their own counter defence. If your enemy is attacking with antitank guns, you can send in your 'psycho bots' to remove it - as opposed to sending in a tank, which strangely doesn't make sense against anti tanks. Despite all these attempts at balancing the gameplay out, one fact remains. This game is still rather hard and hectic. Constant clicking is required, and you need to be able to think quickly. As the focus is still on your mobile units, you cannot focus your attention on to one distinct area of the map. Starting to get the upper hand in one territory may simply mean that the sneaky computer has decided to hamstring you by going the other way. Another difference with other games is that the underdog does not get any help. Unlike racing games, where if you are trailing your engine improves, loosing territories in Z means that your opponent is going to be getting more troops. If you are not paying attention, your footing will probably be lost. Unlike the original, you can pay attention and win, which can only be a good thing. The game makes leaps in other areas too. One memorable aspect of the first game, were the amusing FMV sequences. The Bitmap Brothers decided to personalise the robots that are fighting, by characterising them intently. There is the most American drill sergeant, General Zod, who leads his red troops against the blues. The video sequences saw these troops larking around, blowing up robotic versions of lager cans with ridiculous amounts of fire power. At the time, these were not only amusing, but spectacular. As this technique has been repeated, in games such as worms, this time round they went
for a slightly different method. The intro sequence is in the style of an animated comic book - where the frames themselves move. This is well done, and lends itself nicely to the atmosphere of the game. Freebies are on offer too. If you by the game from Game, or Electronics Boutique you land yourself a free 'Official Hint Guide'. Which not only lists hints for the troop types, but also gives a step by step guide to completing the missions. This does come in handy sometimes, and was a cunning design by the makers to prevent too many people falling off the difficulty curve. The only real annoyance with the game is the interface. The fully rendered three dimensional landscape is nice, but it is often quite difficult to move around in, and I often found myself rotating the map to a top down view in the more hectic times. The biggest problem is with scrolling, unlike other games, you do not scroll
around the screen by moving your mouse to the edges, you instead are supposed to click the right mouse button and drag in the opposite direction. I didn't find this intuitive at all. Cursor key scrolling is implemented too, but does so at an abysmally slow rate. After a few games, I did find the scrolling sensitivity and tweak it up to full level, so that I could move about at a good pace. Like a chain of dominoes, this then resulted in another problem. Deselecting a unit was done by clicking once the right mouse button, but this coincided with the scrolling mechanism, and as the sensitivity was so high it meant that screen jolted slightly every time a unit was deselected. Luckily, there is an option that means that your troops are automatically deselected after issuing an order, which prevents this. If this style isn't your cup of tea, then you may have problems. This should not detract you from getting the game though, as long as you think you can handle the action, it is well worth the price.
In the robotic armies of the future, it is nice to know that a healthy sense of humour prevails
A pitched battle between the Reds (dark grey) and the Blues (dark grey)
A tough and psycho protect a sniper with their big guns
12 : LIFESTYLE yorkVision
Hit Or Miss?
AVOID The odd person in every student house - Come on, admit it, we've all got one. And they probably live in the attic. Why is that? Norman Tebitt - Michael Portillo's more normal than most of the Tory party. Well, Anne Widdicombe anyway. Do we detect a little homophobia? Shaggy - Two hit records does not a comeback make. Especially if the second one's a bit crap. Peanut butter flavour Jelly Bellys Eurrggh! Mysterious sick which appears in the night - say no more. The 'I've been shopping on the High Street too much' look - Black and white tops, bad studded belts, distressed denim that looks like it had an accident with a bleach factory, military crap. You know who you are girls. Writing bitchy e-mails you know you'll regret later - You will have to send at least eight apologising as well. So save the hassle.
TARGET Finishing your degree - Now, what was I supposed to be doing today? Oh yeah, nothing, that's it. Just wish the sun would come out. Audition - Gratuitous Japanese horror never felt so good. AllSTARS - The next S Club 7, or the next Scooch. You decide. We wish that one who used to be in Hollyoaks wasn't in it though, although we do realise that would make them the AllSTRS. A bit too post-modern? Series 7: The Contenders - We think the University should adopt a similar system for deciding who gets first class degrees. Better than a viva thingy anyway. That Doctor bloke winning his seat in the election - Well, it made it a bit more interesting didn't it? Now, what colour does the map go when an independent wins? Jordan losing her deposit - How we laughed. Stupid cow. Very cherry jelly bellys - You know, the red ones. Sleep - So enjoyable and it costs nothing.
June 20th 2001
On the Cutting Edge Laura Hamilton
WE PARTY hard, eat badly, sleep little and, on top of that gruelling schedule, have to contend with the seemingly omnipresent pressure of impending coursework deadlines and looming exams - so is it any wonder that many students’ health winds up paying the price of this lifestyle? But, for many, the lure of Ikon on a Monday night is simply too strong to resist, and so begins the calming process known as ‘getting-ready-for-the-nightout’. Yes, women and men of York (or, at least, those of you that frequent Ikon on a Monday night), you know what I am talking about. The preening ritual is an ancient activity embued with great and wondrous healing properties. Or at least, that’s what I say. Just a bit of time spent self-indulgently faffing over the state of one’s hair, skin, outfit and the like can help the stresses of the day to be forgotten, at least - that is - for the duration of one drunken night out. But, in the bustle and endless rounds of beer that constitutes many of our lives at uni, we don’t take as much care of our most obvious ‘assets’ as we could. The one about which I speak specifically is hair. Yes, this mention may well conjure up immediate pictures of girliness and vanity, but don’t try to hide it, boys, we all know the time you spend in the bathroom fiddling about with hair gel. So isn’t it time you started taking a bit more care of your ‘crowning glory’?! Even for the most slatternish of us, the bees nest we call our barnet can acquire just one split end too many, and we are forced to make that visit to the hairdresser’s. So, for the times this scenario arises, Vision have made it easier for you by picking out some of the best deals for students from York’s shiny, scissor-happy snippers. (All places listed below provide unisex hairdressing).
Melrose Hair Salon is located - surprisingly! - at the top of Melrosegate, so a good choice for those who live in the Hull Road/Lawrence Street and Tang Hall vicinity. The shop is fairly spacious, clean and the service professional. A wash, cut and blow-dry will only set you back a modest £7.60 (with student discount), and most of the people I know who have been have had no qualms about the service. Yet, one word of caution; be very specific when you indicate how you want your hair to be cut - how short, specifically. This does not reflect in any way, s h a p e or form the competence of the cutters in general, but there is one lady who - during one of my visits there - had a bit of a prob-
lem understanding the difference between collarbone-level and chin-level. You can imagine. So be specific! SAMURAI This extensive salon can be found above every campus-dweller’s favourite one-stop, Browns in Heslington (on the first floor), and is thus a popular choice for students. A wash, cut and blow-dry will cost around £5, with the added bonus of a product (from a selection) used on the hair afterwards. A cup of tea is offered at no extra cost and there is also a large choice of products on sale. TONI & GUY’S If you insist on letting no-one but the créme de la créme mess with your locks, then at usual price a cut at Toni & Guy’s would normally have you forking out a minimum of about £35. But you actually don’t have to break the bank - on certain evenings the salon runs weekly student hairdresser nights, where for a mere £5 you can have your tresses snipped by a student of one of the best professional chain of salons in the country. (Booking well in advance is advisable.) PAUL SIMON’S This swish salon on Feasegate edges slightly up the price-scale, with a wash, cut and style costing around £19 (with student discount). Still, this is good
value for professional treatment and a complimentary glass of wine! All those I know who have received the service have been happy with the end result - a good one if you fancy treating yourself. KOPYKATZ Situated on Fossgate, this small shop is probably the most inexpensive of all in York, at just £4-5 for a wash, cut and blow-dry. I have it on authority that the staff are very friendly and have heard no complaints about the service. KEN ‘CAMPUS KEN’ FAIRBURN Of course we saved the best for last... bringing it back home to the University, you didn’t think we would forget the legendary ‘Campus Ken’ Fairburn, did you?? Oh ye of little faith! The original (and some might say the best) York student hairdresser, Ken has his own exclusive ‘bunker’ ( - this is how it has been described to me, at least..?!) somewhere in the depths of Langwith (for more information see Langwith Porters). A cut from him will only deprive you of a few of your hard-earned pounds. A snip, by all accounts! So now you know where to go, there can be no more excuses for not having gorgeous hair. Go on... you know you’re worth it! And that, as they say, is a (head) wrap.
MELROSE HAIR SALON
T-Zone for men- hemp oil facial moisturiser. £4.69 for 200ml (£2.35/100ml) The most striking aspect of this moisturiser is the musky smell, which justifies that this product is aimed for men. However, if you are a woman that likes the smell of Lynx Deodorant then this is for you. The moisturiser has a velvety texture that glides onto the skin easily. It soaks into the skin quickly and does not leave you feeling greasy. Altogether, a soothing moisturiser that would suit everybody, especially those with combination skins. Verdict: 8.5/10 (would get a 9 if the smell were a tad more feminine)
E45 Cream. £3.75 for 125ml (£3.00/100ml) As it says on the tub E45 cream has been clinically proven to treat and soothe dry or even sunburnt skin. In our opinion this is absolutely true. The cream is very rich and does leave skin feeling much softer. However, the cream is also incredibly greasy. Although this has the effect of making dry skin feel soothed, it leaves combination or greasy skin drowning in oil. Tossing this point aside the moisturiser has a neutral smell and I would not hesitate at all to recommend this to anyone who has even slightly dry, sensitive or sunburnt skin. Verdict: 7/10
Superdrug essentials moisturising lotion. 99p for 150ml (66p/100ml) I can’t stop thinking that this is just a watered down version of Superdrug’s more expensive cream. Perhaps this is why the product is referred to as a lotion? The product is fragrance free therefore appealing to both sexes. Although the product is incredibly watery it does not sink into the skin as easily or quickly as you would think. However the cream leaves no grease and does leave skin feeling slightly softer. I would only recommend buying this if you are on an incredibly tight budget. Verdict: 4/10
Johnson’s ph5.5 moisturising cream. £3.99 for 100ml As someone who has sensitive skin I love this moisturiser. It has a pleasant fresh smell that is neither distinctly male nor female (similar to Johnson’s baby products- but don’t let this put you off). The cream itself resembles thick clotted cream. It sinks into the skin easily but it does leave a greasy sheen. However it certainly does the job, after using it for a while I noticed a definite improvement in the softness of my skin. All in all a good allrounder but make sure it dries before putting on make-up or leaving the house. The chip-shop fat look is not that appealing. Verdict: 8/10 Boots cucumber moisturising cream. £1.50 for 75ml (£1.00/100ml) Just as the label states this really does smell of cucumber. Although some fragranced products can smell artificial, this moisturiser smells exactly like fresh cut cucumber. The summery fragrance is great for this time of year and leaves you feeling remarkably fresh. The cream is lighter than the other moisturisers tested, however it does have a greasy feel. It soaks in quickly and really does leave you feeling soft. It also protects from UVA and UVB sun, although this is not sufficient to use as a sunblock. This is a good cream suitable for all skin types and for all over the body. Verdict: 7/10 Prices based on current selling price in Boot’s and Superdrug. Watch out for any special offers that both stores frequently
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
Changing Directions What does Alcuin, Madonna, and Portillo have in common? All have reinvented themselves. Daniel Goldup shows how you too can achieve longevity through a new image THERE ARE some people in the public eye who never seem to disappear. Many people can’t get enough of these leeches, hanging onto the realms of celebrity, and depriving some poor new talent of muchneeded publicity. Alternatively, the few who last more than a year (are Hear’say still around by the way?) can be seen as possessing some special powers- either talent, or simply tapping into the public mood. Whatever the reasons, Vision is here to help you find longevity as human beings (yes, I will be in Vanbrugh bar most nights for your words of praise, gifts etc. etc.). Take a few tips from Madonna, Geri, Portillo (yes, Portillo) and you too can stick around longer than Gary Glitter at a school disco. For every thousand boy bands, politicians, and divas (often the same thing these days) there are one or two personalities in each field who cling to the limelight like an Irishman to the Titanic. Let’s take as our first case-study, one woman who we can all take a tip from, Madonna. On tour again this summer, fifteen years after the first, Madonna has gone from 1980s New York whore to 21st century English lady. With every new album Madonna has taken on a new look- downtown hussy (Madonna); sophisticated Versace-clad poser (Something to Remember); to mystic, devout hippy (Ray of Light). While I am not suggesting that the
1980s Madonna look works for everyone (your supervisor may not be too pleased if you turn up in a cone-shaped Gaultier bra. Especially if you’re male), there may be a few tips to be had. The public gets bored with seeing the same old face wearing the same old clothes doing the same old thing. It craves something new, and loves to be surprised. The reason it turned away in legions from Madge’s sex-obsessed Erotica was because she’d done it all before. Invest in some new clothes, change your hair colour, or take up a new activity. This could have serious implications in relation to your friends, who may not recognise you anymore and decide that the whole Kabala-inspired wardrobe is, frankly, a bit pathetic. You don’t live in the Himalayas, after all. Of course, there are more ways to reinvent yourself than simply throwing out
your old junk and replacing it with something new. A new ideology may be harder to come by than a bottle of hair bleach, but if you decide that you have the will (or shallowness) to change beliefs then the world is your oyster. A good example of this is Shaun Woodward, who jumped from the rotting carcass of the Conservative party shortly before this month’s election. He is now secure in a safe Labour seat, with a ministerial future somewhere on the Westminster horizon. But what better example of ideological reinvention than that stick-in-the-mud, Michael Portillo? Yes, that darling of Margaret Thatcher (‘A passionate supporter of everything that we stood for’ said Mrs T in her memoirs) is now talking like Tony Benn- paying tax ‘Is not the end of one’s obligations to others’. Come again?! Perhaps this change came after
Not a pink cadillac in sight- Alcuin tries trendy
Portillo realised everyone hated him. Not since VE Day had the nation come together as one to rejoice in the vanquishing of an old foe. When all turn against you, the only thing you can really do is change those aspects that people disliked. I assure you, I am no spin-doctor for the campus Tories; this is for everyone. If you find your opinions outdated, and your ideas being sniggered at all around, then drop them like a sack of bricks. If you can’t beat them, join them. Well, it worked for Vichy France, didn’t it? Where to seek this reinvention though? I’m not suggesting that at this critical exam-fuelled time of the term you devote your free hours to dreaming up a new image for yourself. The answer lies in your local newsagent. Pick up a couple of celebrity magazines, and a copy of a ‘trendy’ newspaper (if such a thing exists, then this excludes the Daily Mail in the same way as Computer Science Weekly). This will give you an idea of current trends and modes of thought (only the other day greenhouse gases were ‘in’thanks to ‘Dubya’ Bush- and Robbie Williams was ‘out’) and allow you to adopt them as your own. So, there you have it. Reinvention is the way to go: image is everything, remember. Do not let your friends put you off, with their “reassuring” comments of ‘we like you the way you are’. They are promoting safety as an ideology. Would Madonna have sold over 100 million records, or Portillo secured a front-bench seat by liking the way they are? I rest my case.
LIFESTYLE : 13
Changing faces: Madonna
Photo: Sam Dudin
Mark Fuller takes a trip to Greek restaurant Mana in Parliament Street in the quest for something new TECHNICALLY, IT'S summer now, but having been caught unawares and soaked through to the bone on several occasions recently, I beg to differ. I think I will persist with the Mediterranean theme in a futile attempt to convince myself that the warmer weather is on its way. Our next destination? Greece. Being in the very centre of town, you've probably seen this place on numerous occasions but never actually acknowledged it exists. Unfortunately, having read this review, I dare say nothing much will change. First impressions are always important and the restaurant itself is small, intimate and authentically decorated to give a real sense of something foreign. Staff were both pleasant and chatty and even smashed the occasional piece of crockery just to encourage the Greek ambiance. This was always done at a distance (i.e. from behind the bar) and without warning, thus scaring the living daylights out of unsuspecting diners and adding to the fun. However, it is the food and drink that really matters in these places, and here, I'm sorry to say, is where things fell down. It would be best to simply order a pitcher of chilled water to keep you going as drink's prices resembled those of London's West End. But, as I'm happy with this I focussed on the food instead. The menu was broad and covered almost everything in one guise or another, but this doesn't mean to say you will be spoilt for choice. Many agreed that while several dishes seemed appetising, there would always be at least one feature or ingredient that dis-
couraged you. For this reason, few people went for three courses and some relied on the more Italianate options such as pizza. I am not renowned for being particularly adventurous with food, but felt obliged to try a more traditional meal to avoid defeating the object of going to a Greek restaurant. Regardless of what I ate, both my starter and main course were undeniably bland. I consciously went for what I thought would be more flavoursome dishes and soon realised that these were few and far between. Most main courses were served with a choice of "select vegetables" which consisted of sliced carrots, sliced potato and cauliflower. These were all over cooked, luke warm and without any form of garnish. Moreover, while I am no expert, they hardly struck me as being particularly Greek. The cuts of meat were generally of an average quality, meals lacked any unique qualities, some were completely unidentifiable and all were highly priced. Desserts also failed to go down well with anyone. Still, in spite of this, no one was bitterly disappointed and the authentic music gradually merged into that of the Gallery as the evening progressed, thus improving things. Staff encouraged everyone to get up on the dance floor and any complaints were soon forgotten. In all honesty, I'm glad that I went as I am now able to say that I have been to a Greek restaurant and tried something new, but I certainly wouldn't go again. . If you love such cuisine, perhaps you should give it a go, but otherwise, it's really not worth it.
Leaving the nest. Ayeesha wears white cotton shirt, Mango £16, and indigo denim skirt, Warehouse £38 but currently on offer at £28. Charlie wears white linen top, Next £26.99, black flared trousers, Blue Rinse (Leeds) £20. Manna Resturant
14 : FEATURES yorkVision
JAPAN IN CRISIS
June 20th 2001
Echelon is listening
As conspiracy theories go, this is the big one every electronic communication monitored, every individual a potential suspect. But how much should we believe about project Echelon, and what is going on in Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire? Daniel Rankin investigates... EVERY ELECTRONIC communication is being monitored. Phone calls, e-mails, text-messages, faxes, satellite transmissions, and even web page history. Every individual is a potential suspect, every message a potential threat.
A European Union report released at the beginning of this month confirms that the spy system does in fact exist. Not many conspiracy theories can claim to have the backing of an organisation like the EU
Directorate (DSD) forms a part of the network. At any one time millions of messages and phone calls are supposedly recorded and later searched. Powerful computers, capable of voice recognition, are alleged to sift through communications, searching for a long list of key words or patterns of messages. This supposedly looks for evidence of crime such as drug trafficking or terrorism. If such patterns or keywords are recognised, then the messages are recorded. This seems implausible, even for such a powerful group of nations. It is likely that claims as to the nature of Echelon have been largely exaggerated. Echelon is thought to have a much more limited scope than is claimed by some groups, and is believed to monitor satellite transmissions, rather than both satellite and cable transmissions. However it is widely though that it is used to intercept private and commercial communications as opposed to military intelligence, which puts Britain in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, that “Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”, as the governments are effectively spying on their own citizens. Despite laws preventing such practices, any coun-
This may seem like some high-tech, newworld-order-style conspiracy theory, but a European Union report released at the beginning of this month confirms that the spy system, named “Echelon”, does in fact exist. Not many conspiracy theories can claim to have the backing of an organisation like the EU. Echelon arose out of an inter-governmental agreement between the US and Britain in 1948 with the aim of exchanging intelligence data. This agreement later incorporated Canada, New Zealand and Australia. T h e first Echelon network was built in 1971, and has been regularly updated since then. 120 American geostationary satellites and 20 listening stations make up the network, the largest being Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire. All of the bases are linked to the US National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters. While the network RAF? Menwith Hill is has been denied by parties on both sides of the the largest electronic Atlantic, declassified documonitoring station in ments by the NSA have the world, run by the confirmed it’s existence, and Bill Blick, the US National Security Australian Inspector Agency (NSA) General of Intelligence and Security confirmed that Australia’s Defence Signals
try within the agreement can get around their own domestic laws against spying on their citizens by asking another member to do it out for them. The group of MEPs commissioned to investigate Echelon could not prove that
If Echelon is used to intercept private and commercial communications as opposed to military intelligence, it puts Britain in breach of the human rights act European trade secretes were being passed on to the advantage of US firms. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, has admitted that the US conducted economic espionage against European firms, though he made no reference to Echelon itself. He claimed that, as a result of European products being less technologically advanced and more costly than those of their American rivals, they are forced to bribe. This, according to the ex-CIA director, justified them spying on European firms, despite there being laws to prevent such behaviour. The economic cost of espionage to European business comes to €20bn, according to Christian von Boetticher, a German Christian Democratic MEP. According to a Baltimore Sun report, Airbus, a European consortium, lost a $6bn contract with Saudi Arabia after NSA found that Airbus offered kickbacks to a Saudi official. This information was gained by monitoring all faxes and phonecalls between Airbus and the Saudi government and national airline. It is also alleged that a $1.4bn contract to supply a radar system to Brazil was secured by the US firm Ratheon, rather than to France’s Thomson-CSF, with the use of information picked up by the NSA. Even Thatcher is reputed to have used Echelon to spy on two of her own ministers, according to former Australian agent Mike Frost. While the extent to which Echelon is capable of monitoring communications is still the subject of much controversy, some form of monitoring system does seem to exist, though
THERE IS something vaguely ridiculous about the comic book superhero – clad in luridly coloured lycra, with a convoluted past (often involving radiation, scientific experiments and aliens/animals/bizarre criminals), and opposed by an even more ludicrous assortment of villainous enemies, it’s easy to laugh or deride them as juvenile. Superheroes like Spiderman, Batman and Superman are synonymous with comics, and as such comics are often viewed derisively by the majority as immature; silly splat-bang-kapow! thrills for adolescents. Yet comics have never really deserved this snide and overly simplistic view, and as Roger Sabin shows in his well-written, expansive and inclusive history of the comic book (Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels, Phaidon, 2001), throughout its long life, the medium of a story told in conjunction with illustrations has often been far more complex and subtle than is generally thought. Sabin’s book remains clear-sighted throughout. In getting away from the ‘are comics art?’ question, eschewing it in favour of a more perceptive view of the evolution of the comic form, Sabin presents a fair and involving investigation, that is of course, beautifully illustrated with excerpts from hundreds of different comics. Although the view of comics as solely based around the exploits of square-jawed superheroes is the dominant one, Sabin shows how that remains only one part of a surprisingly diverse story.
A smug Tom Poulet reminisces about being tucked in by Kate Beckinsale
‘DO YOU want to play a game?’ ‘No.’ ‘Do you want anything to eat?’ ‘No.’ ‘Shall we watch TV together?’ ‘No. I’m going to bed’ ‘Do you want me to tuck you in?’ ‘No’. At the tender age of nine I was already obnoxious enough to be a teenager, and try as she might to endear herself, I wasn’t having any of it. According to my questionable criteria Kate Beckinsale simply wasn’t very nice; I implored my parents never to employ her services again. Needless to say they ignored me; she was cheap and cheerful(ish), and didn’t drink my dad’s spirits like the sixteen year old babysitter from next door. Despite the pictures that Esquire magazine recently published of Kate, I remember a rather small, geeky looking girl with a ridiculous wannabe ‘Afro’ style haircut. A shy girl with a nervous disposition and a tendency to immerse herself in piles of books. In fact, I would sheepishly venture to say that she was a tad dull. Kate Beckinsale lived just round the corner from us in London. She attended Godolphin & Latymer Girls School and was, by all accounts, a rather clever young lady. When not putting up with moody little boys she was winning W. H. Smith short story competitions and auditioning for roles which would earn her respect and money. Two assets which
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or is the comic book an important visual medium? Alex Watson asks...
Did Wonder Woman have a lesbian subtext? Finding early antecedents of comics in the illustrated political satires of the 1700s by artists like William Hogarth, and later on by talents like George Cruickshank and of course magazines like Punch, Sabin believes the first recognisably modern comic was ‘Ally Sloper’ in the late 1880s, ‘a kind of Victorian Viz’ according to him, which originated as an illustrated segment of a cheap tabloid. Sloper, a ‘working class wastrel’, permanently drunk and mock-gentrified, was a strip in which the “Laughs came from the pleasure of seeing a working class man enjoying the good life, and from his social faux pas.” Sloper was ‘a vehicle through which cartoonists could comment upon Victorian leisure’ and the expansion of the middle classes and their new found wealth (a
typical theme of writers of the period like Dickens, too), and this satirical edge that early comics inherited from the political cartoons and satires from which they developed remained, and is still, a strong vein in many comics. Sabin’s chapter on the underground ‘comix’ of the 60s, which often featured frank (even gratuitous) depictions of free love, drugs and (in the US at least) antiVietnam social protest messages is particularly strong, illuminating a vein of comic history often obscured by the muscular antics of Spiderman et al. Although the comics fraternity has complained at the way mainstream culture has denigrated it as frivolous, the perception of comics as harmless children’s entertainment has often masked a deeper, and darker intellectual engagement with
Don’t tell mom the babysitter’s... an international star
gins’ as Hollywood sometimes depicts them is perhaps her reasoning behind refusing to do nudity. Only in Haunted was her character expected to bare all and several of the scenes were played by another actress. But despite her good intentions in front of the camera, Kate unwittingly revealed more than just her sea legs on the set of the blockbuster Pearl Harbour. Shooting in Hawaii, she occasionally decided to leave off her chunky period costume knickers ‘and go commando’. One fateful day saw several helicopters flown in to kick up a storm for an aerial shot: 500 real-life sailors saw more than just a pretty face... Which brings us on to Pearl Harbour. No doubt it will provide the springboard to a big splash in Hollywood, but perhaps Kate should have paid more attention to the unintentionally amusing script; when a British officer asks admiringly ‘Are all Yanks as anxious as you to get them-
babysitting clearly wouldn’t begrudge her. In view of the fact that she endured a bout of anorexia and adolescent depression, and was by her own admission ‘sort of deranged’, her rise to prominence as a girl of many talents was all the more exceptional. After a string of appearances in both television and film, she went to Oxford, where the drama society provided the distraction which she sought in acting. Having got her first big break as Hero in Kenneth Brannagh’s film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, it soon became apparent that she was destined for greater things: in the spring of 1994 she left Oxford to pursue her career, declaring ‘I could still go back, when university’s no longer just about leaving home and doing kissing’. And so continued her learning curve towards the big time. The critically acclaimed satire Cold Comfort Farm grossed over $5 million during its American cinema release in 1995, and so began a string of films and TV adaptations. Kate claims to pick scripts which ‘nourish her soul’ and depict ‘women as real human beings’ and told a reporter in 1997 that Hollywood was out of the question because ‘I would miss my mum’. Her desire to make people realise that ‘women aren’t just whores and vir-
I remember a small, geeky girl with a ridiculous wannabe ‘Afro’ style haircut; I implored my parents never to employ her again
selves killed?’, Ben Affleck replies ‘Not anxious to die, sir, anxious to matter’. Thought provoking and poignant this is not. Yet my loyalties lie with the girl who arguably benefited from babysitting me. Beckinsale’s struggling American accent perhaps even improved the script and her presence on screen was graceful and intelligent. At just 27, she has hit the Hollywood big screen years before Catherine ZetaJones and Liz Hurley made it, with a string of respectable appearances under her belt. The signals would suggest that she is there to stay. Which is a damn shame because I would willingly be tucked in by her now. Pearl Harbour review, Films, p28
FEATURES : 15
politics and issues like feminism, racism and discrimination. Even superheroes such as the X-Men, a strip originating in the 60s, had a civil rights and broad liberal allegory to it: it featured mutated characters who struggled to be accepted by ‘normal’ people. Comics in the UK developed into a form of entertainment for children with, of course, titles like The Dandy and The Beano (and earlier The Eagle) becoming much more lucrative than the adult mar-
The first recognisably modern comic was ‘Ally Soper’ in the late 1880s, a “kind of Victorian Viz”. Sloper, a “working class wastrel”, was permanently drunk
ket. It’s worth noting that a l t h o u g h Sabin treats comics with respect in his book, he’s n o t
afraid to point out when blatant c o m m e r cialism and profiteering lead to exploitation of the artists, and the decline of genres into pulp entertainment – and certainly, through-
out the history of comics, the search for new markets has often been at the expense of existing genres. Yet if adult comics were on the backburner in the 50s and 60s while Dan Dare, the Bash-Street Kids, Beril the Peril, and of course Dennis the Menace reigned supreme, in the US, adult concern grew over the moral effect of these pernicious drawings. A (now notorious) book Seduction of the Innocent, by Frederic Wertham M.D., published in 1955, attacked many genres of comics, claiming, for instance, that crime stories were “Especially apt to interfere with children’s sleep.” It also attacked ‘Wonder Woman’ for the idea of lesbianism implicit in her origin on a n island of Amazons (!) As Sabin writes, “Its sensationalism… and its author’s evangelical zeal, were enough to inspire widespread moral panic… [which] manifested itself in protests, and even in neighbourhood comics burnings.” The US publishers were now bound by the ‘Comics Code’, which regulated sex, violence and social comment in their publications.
Eyes A blue-rinsed Gavin Price found more than two fat ladies when he turned to Mecca... WITH GROWING anticipation, accompanied by my experienced comrade, I made my way to the Shangri-La of York’s twilight generation. The Mecca Bingo hall! Standing tall and glorious amid the confusion of York’s one-way system. At
The ratio of males to females must have peaked at about 1:10, not that it mattered because most of the women were growing beards anyway
this stage I confess to having dreams (nightmares?) of a musty, stale, and unpleasantly stagnant pit awaiting me. I never knew one could be so wrong and so right at the same time. I made my way through the first set of doors where a smartly dressed receptionist greeted me, signed me in and charged me 60 pence for the pleasure. So far, still tense with anticipation. Then…. I climbed the ramp and the pearly gates flew open. There it was, a sprawling metropolis of tables and fold down chairs. The theatrical architecture of the hall, which was oddly reminiscent of a church, gave precedence to a giant score board and a host of neon signs where the stage
was located during the less glamorous days of the building. Fortunately I had entered in the middle of the first of the evening sessions so I was witness to the phenomenal electricity that gripped the hall as the dashing young bingo caller floated the magic numbers across the heads of the assembled masses (Average age approximately 65 years). Underneath the caller’s podium lay a luxurious assortment of frightening china dolls, Morphy Richards kettles and an “expensive looking” glass chess set, presumably the prizes for some minor games. However, I was there for the money. I bought my two books of bingo cards from the desk at the front of the hall, I declined to take part in the between session games for 40p. Turning from the desk I saw before me a seething mass of lavender rinse perms, plumes of cigarette smoke rising from each one. I was struck by a couple of venomously suspicious glances. I think the ratio of males to females must have peaked at about 1:10, not that it mattered because most of the women were growing beards anyway. The yellow, tobacco stained walls were punctuated with T.V. screens, showing the last number called, and posters of Des O’Connor. An army of smartly dressed serving maidens scuttled between tables, either bringing or taking food, or delivering prizes. I had 20 minutes to wait until the session began so I attempted to get some
Not that it stopped them, though – Marvel and DC Comics, the two most famous names in Comic publishing continued a relentless assault on the market with their superheroes, competing with each other for the biggest share of the market. Yet as the market slumped, in the mid80s it was looking towards more adult forms of story-telling in the comics that transformed characters like Batman and Superman from camp, kitsch heroes to much deeper, darker, brooding and psychologically troubled characters. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986), the death of Superman, and of course the influx of Manga, with ‘Akira’ and ‘Ghost in the Shell’, all pushed comics more towards the mainstream and adult acceptability, as academics, broadsheet newspapers and all manner of other cultural commentators jumped on the bandwagon. Yet whilst comics like Preacher may boast introductions from Kevin Smith (film director of Clerks and Dogma fame), comics still essentially remain outside of the mainstream. They are at once suspicious, subversive and darkly creative, whilst also retaining the jokey nature that their ‘comic’ name hints at. Sabin’s book won’t make them any more acceptable or cool (thankfully!), but it is a valuable overview of a diverse and interesting medium. food. I made my way to the bar at the back of the hall, after surveying the spread, comprising plastic looking burgers, sausages submerged in oil and baked beans which looked as though I could walk on the crust, I opted for a chocolate bar. I took my seat on the lower level, as opposed to the balcony that towered above us, whipped out my highlighter pen; the games were about to begin. A certain buzz gripped the hall as the minutes counted down to the main session. Suddenly, the Mecca theme tune, “Nothing makes you feel as fine as Mecca!”, blared forth from the loud speakers. It had begun. I scanned my cards for the numbers as they were called. It was no mean task to keep track of six cards at a time, however, the first six games proved fruitless. Without warning, a surge of energy began to erupt from the crowd…the ‘National Live Link Up’ was about to begin. Awash with horror and amazement in equal measure, I listened as Mecca, York, linked up via radio to every other
The yellow, tobacco-stained walls were punctuated with posters of Des O’Connor
Mecca bingo hall in the country. Incredible scenes!!! This was it, life on the edge, as each game progressed I felt increasing degrees of hatred for the frail old ladies who called house before me, scooping the £500 jackpot. Each game I wished for a general pacemaker failure that would leave me as the sole contestant, no such luck. I don’t remember a time where I felt so in awe and so disgusted. The competitive zeal, the commitment and general pleasure derived by hundreds was truly inspirational. On the other hand, was this life? Every afternoon and every night, hundreds of geriatrics shuffle into the decaying hall, worshipping the closest thing to religious diversity in York, and throw away alarming amounts of money. Taken in the right perspective, Mecca could offer a lot of fun, but really nothing more.
16 : FEATURES yorkVision
June 20th 2001
TERRORS OF THE DEEP - Does fabled Giant Catfish exist?
It is possible that smaller students may also be at threat. For their own safety, it is better for people of less than average height to not venture near the lake alone at dusk or in the early morning, when catfish emerge from the deep for food. Although it is not known how the catfish came to campus, the lake is an ideal habitat for raising its young in shallow waters. Spawning takes place from May to June, meaning that current problems could soon multiply. Similar incidents have also allegedly been reported to the University authorities. So far, no official action has been taken to combat the potential danger this catfish may pose. The incidents may be being kept under wraps for fear of alarming the student body. Yet the recent incidents at the University are not the first encounter Yorkshire has had with mysterious denizens of the deep. A 1706 publication entitled A Strange, Wonderful, and Amazing Relation of Thirty Terrible Sea Monsters of Dreadful and Unusual Shapes and of Vast Bigness recounts the appearance of gigantic sea beasts in Burlington Bay in Yorkshire on 23 January, 1705. According to the account, after several days of stormy
Is there some vast, unknown leviathan in York’s lake? As an innocent tourist snapshot unwittingly captures a duck’s tragic death, Tom Hazeldine and Ben Gworek investigate the myths surrounding Yorkshire’s sea monsters. Photo: Alex Watson CONCERNS HAVE been raised over the future of the campus’s duck population after a number of reports of strange activity beneath the surface of the lake. In recent weeks, fishermen have paid witness to the sudden disappearance of water fowl, as they appeared to have been struggling with some unknown force, before being sucked under the water and
out of sight. Vision can now exclusively reveal the first photo taken of the underwater predator. As can be seen, it resembles something similar to a catfish, but of monstrous dimensions. One fisherman, an eyewitness to an attack, told Vision: “There is, I know not, what sweet mystery about this lake, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden
Confessions of a (soon to be) expat
After a year in Blighty, is RaeJean Spears glad to be going back to the US? TO TELL you the truth, I don’t really know how I feel. Everyone keeps asking me, ‘Are you excited to be going home?’ and I just don’t know what to say. Part of me wants to cry ‘NO!!!’ and then the other part me feels torn between guilt for wanting to stay and a genuine desire to return to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Ugh. It’s very confusing being an American in York. I was walking around campus earlier this evening and was far from struck by its beauty. It was grey, drab, cold, and filled with construction sites. In terms of aesthetic quality, my campus at home in Worcester, Massachusetts wins hands down. It’s the type of place you see in movies ivy growing up brick facades, statues on the perfectly manicured lawns and car parks littered with Land Rovers and BMWs. I can’t wait to walk down its meticulously cared for paths again this autumn, but I’m also going to miss York. Whilst its true this campus is down right ugly, it’s also real (lacking the aforementioned la-la land characteristics of Holy Cross) and being here has made me feel real.
I’ve never before been so happy with the course of nine consecutive months in my whole twenty-one years. Everything about my time here has been near perfect. Everything I set out to accomplish has been done. So at least I’m leaving with a sense of fulfillment, right? But then again, I’m leaving. Full stop. I’m leaving. Waaaaaaaaaaa. The problem I’ve been battling with is that I’m torn. On one (very heavily weighted) hand I love it here and I want to stay. Not necessarily in York, because although it’s gorgeous and quaint and steeped with history, it’s not really the kind of place I see my journalism career taking off. No, I see my name in print in London. I’m from a small cow town in rural Connecticut and I have always wanted to live in a big city. Before October, I wanted that city would be New York. But now I’m not so sure. People who know me will have a quick retort to my exclamation of limey-loving - that, very simply, of course I want to stay because I’m in love with a limey. Well, I’m not going to deny it. I came here with the girlish
soul beneath.” The Catfish, or Silurus glanis, is a European fish found in the upper Rhine and in the rivers to the east of it. It was introduced by the Duke of Bedford into the ponds at Woburn Abbey and has since spread to a limited extent. Catfish are predators and feed upon fish, waterfowl, and occasionally small mammals, possibly even the size of a young child. dream of finding my prince charming, ready and willing to sweep me off to his castle and make me his princess. And I did. Granted, he doesn’t lay claim to a royal title, nor does he have a castle, but he’s a prince in my eyes, and that’s all that counts. However, I want to make it clear that even if it were not for a certain young man stumbling into my life, I would still want to come back. There are other things that draw me to this isle besides the prospect of having kids with cute accents and dual nationalities. There are so many things about Britain which make it so attractive. It’s certainly not the weather, nor the NHS, but I have nonetheless found myself wondering these past few days about how on earth I am going to live without the wit and sarcasm of everyday conversation, the casual pint at the pub, Twiglets, watching the footy on the tele, Neighbours, cheese and pickle sandwiches, the BBC,
If you’re under 21 in the US and admit to casual drinking some psycho Puritan ‘let’s reinstate Prohibition’ ninny will try to enroll you in alcohol education classes quality late night Channel 5 movies, three cups of tea a day or taxi drivers calling me ‘love’. It’s just not the same in Worcester - there you’re lucky if the cab driver speaks English, let alone is friendly enough to strike up a conversation, and no one (gasp) knows what a Twiglet is. In the US, under 21s (a group I can thankfully no longer include myself in) can’t even think about having a casual pint
“There is I know not what sweet mystery about this lake, whose gently awful stirrings speak of some hidden soul beneath” seas, a pack of thirty “Large, misshapen, and monstrous” creatures entered the bay, much to the dread of the local inhabitants. The creatures are reported to have made a terrible roaring noise, audible up to a mile away. The threat was initially counin the pub while watching the big game. A) you can’t get into the pub without ‘positive identification’ and B) if you’re under 21 and admit to casual drinking some psycho Puritan ‘let’s reinstate Prohibition’ ninny will try to enroll you in alcohol education classes. Granted, the US does have it’s share of high quality television with storylines rivaling, if not surpassing, those off EastEnders, but it just won’t be the same without the accent. I’m going to miss the accent. I hope I picked up a bit of it just to drive everyone back home a little crazy. However, the single most important thing I’m going to miss about England is its people. My first few weeks here were hard - people were constantly taking the piss out of me and my accent, I couldn’t understand what anyone from the North was saying, and I felt lost and alone (well, when I wasn’t revving it up in the pub or out on the town). So that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but the first two are true. I felt welcome, but I knew there were marked differences in the ideologies of Americans and of the British. We tend to be isolationist and too wrapped up in our own affairs to notice what’s going on in the rest of the world. As Europe comes together, the US, under the guidance of an illustrious new president, seeks to anger and alienate itself from critical fellow superpowers. And as much as you claim to want to save the pound and prevent full integration into the EU, you still *think* worldly and are worldly. But then there’s the other hand, the one that can’t wait to go home. I’m drooling with anticipation over the prospect of driving my car again. I can’t wait to roll down the windows (because unlike here, the weather is gorgeous during the summer), cruise down Interstate 91 and blast Jammin’ 94.5FM on the radio. Sure, it’s a bit of a ghetto radio station, but there’s nothing like rollin’ through the ‘hood on a hot afternoon listening to Dr Dre. And then there’s the fact that the
For their own safety, it is better for people of less than average height not to venture near the lake alone at dusk or in the early morning, when catfish emerge from the deep for food
tered by a group of intrepid sailors who, with firearms and harpoons, attacked the monsters at sea. This upset the creatures greatly, and they began to howl and thrash about, throwing water to tremendous heights in the air. During the struggle, the monsters seemed to display a degree of intelligence as they attempted to capsize the sailors’ ships with their mighty tails. In an attempt to escape, most of the creatures swam towards shore and became stranded along the beach. Yet of the thirty monsters that entered the bay, six escaped. Never before had sea beasts such as these appeared along the Yorkshire coast. Observers of the incident described the monsters as being “black as jet, their eyes fiery and flaming . . . their snouts like that of a wild boar, with rows of long and sharp teeth . . . they were armed with prickled fins.” The largest of the beasts was thirty feet long, large enough to easily devour a man. Although fairly detailed descriptions were made of these strange creatures, they were sold for their blubber, and eventually made into oil, leaving us without an intact specimen. Supposedly the bones of a few of the creatures were saved for posterity, but after an extensive search by Vision reporters, their whereabouts remain unknown. Is it possible that breeding took place among the six beasts that managed to escape? Do these creatures still lurk beneath the surface of the North Sea? And if so, has the time come for them to seek vengeance for their terrible defeat by those brave Yorkshiremen who did battle with them so many years ago?
malls will be open until 10pm! Halleluiah! I’ll finally be able to return to doing my shopping after dinner. And most importantly, I will be reunited with people I’ve have seen hide nor hair of in nine months, like my best friends Allison and Stephanie, as well as my family. I can’t wait to show them my zillion rolls of film and to gush on and on about how wonderful this year was. But that’s just the thing - this year was wonderful. In fact, I can honestly say it’s been the best year of my life. I have travelled, learned, met new people, tried new things, fallen in love, made wonderful friends and it has changed me forever. I know I’ll never be the same, and for that I cannot be thankful enough. The opportunity to live abroad is one few people in this world are privileged to take, but part of going abroad is going home. But home isn’t going to be the same anymore, because I am taking with me everything I can from this
I can’t wait to roll down the windows, cruise down Interstate 91 and blast Jammin 94.5 FM on the radio place. A bit of Britain is coming to New England, whether you like it enough. I’m going to miss it here; I’m going to miss it a lot. But after next May, when I graduate, a whole world will open to me. And if (when) my future brings me back to Blighty, then so be it. Personally, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it did. In fact, I rather welcome the idea.
SPECIAL 4 PAGE PULL-OUT
Finally giving students a voice comment: Alex Cooley As we have possibly taken the liberty of mentioning before, I think, the aim behind this survey is to enlighten a very dark area of student politics - the opinions of the students themselves. For some bizarre reason no Students' Union has ever, in recent times, undertaken and processed a campus-wide survey of campus affairs. This cannot be because the SU is already completely aware of student opinion, since it is a rare day indeed when quoracy is reached at a Union General Meeting. That is, it hardly ever happens that 4% of students turn up to take an active interest in student affairs. It is not the SU's fault that students are apathetic, since political apathy is reflected on the national stage, too. The answer to student apathy on campus, though, may well be to take the questions which matter physically to the students themselves. However, every sympathy must go to Ben Youdan and others on the SU, who have to spend more time handling pressure-groups than they can devote to questionnaires. How, for example, can so much debate and niggling go on about Nestle, when only 15.8% of people are even aware of any kind of a boycott in the first instance - and that's not to say that 15.8% of students are at all supportive! The response to this questionnaire on
campus has been overwhelming, and so we'd like to take this opportunity of thanking 1,041 people on campus for their support. Questionnaire gathering had to unfortunately be halted at around the 1,000 mark, since we could not have afforded to have processed professionally a higher number than that. However, in total we have still managed to poll around 20% of undergraduates on campus. To put this into perspective, MORI opinion polls in national newspapers customarily get 1,000 returns, which as a proportion of the population of the UK, is only about 0.00167%. So, we hope that we can claim some legitimacy in our results. But, reasonably, there may, of course, be questions asked about our methodology in collating this questionnaire. We would answer that this has been a long-term project planned since last year, and that every effort has been taken to ensure that our results have been as representative, and therefore as informative, as possible. Help and advice in making our questionnaire as balanced as possible was generously provided by Elizabeth Kooper of York City Council Market Research. Then, over a period of 4 weeks questionnaires were handed out in an even spread of colleges, departments and libraries. In addition, questionnaires were sent out through e-mail via the departmental secretar-
ies, and our web-editor posted a fill-in questionnaire onto our website. Great care was taken to avoid the possibility of people submitting more than one questionnaire. But, rather disappointingly, there was to be no anarchy for us. Most people wrote down their e-mail address to enter out prize draw, and none of these was found to have been doubled up. Some questionnaires came back without e-mail addresses, but of these questionnaires there were none that correlated to any great extent. Finally, the questionnaires were processed for us by Andy Tyres of Advanced Data Tabulation Services. He also randomly selected for us our prize draw winner. And so, the winner of the £50 jackpot is…afa102 (just drop us a line and we'll hand it over to you). And so, although no questionnaire (by its very nature) can ever claim to be fully representative, we'd like to think that this one can claim to be more representative than others. Short of 'SEX?' advertising, a multi-million pound budget, and £1,000 penalties for nonco-operators - as in the National Census - it really was the best that we could do. We've listed all the results below, so please feel free to judge for yourself what's what. What personally strikes me in all of this, though, is the lack of anything particularly dramatic. But, then again, it is supposed to be an accurate reflection of campus life.
Perhaps the most significant result came in the sphere of international, as opposed to Heslington, politics. Politically, it is an eyeopener to see that a majority of students thought that Britain should join the Euro, and that roughly the same majority thought that Britain should integrate further politically with the EU. But what is really interesting is that what still must really be a majority of British students at York want economic and political integration, and the question in students' minds seems to be one and the same. The Euro equals increased political integration. This is not how the Labour Government would have it. This shows that students aren't stupid, but are perhaps less patriotic than their counterparts in the 'real world'. Back to campus affairs, and the value of the questionnaire. We can at least now back up student campaigns. For example, I don't think anyone ever doubted that an overwhelming majority of students wanted to keep the Porter Service intact, but at least we can now say that 89.9% of people are in favour - that is, 89.9% of people who fund University facilities through tuition fees, have stated that they want to keep the Porter Service running all night. Rest assured, both University Admin. and the SU will be receiving bound and complementary copies of the questionnaire shortly.
Vision have surveyed 1041 students, that’s 20.1% of the York based undergraduate population. Here’s what you have said:
Type of student
Arts Science No answer
52.4 45.1 2.5
The performance of the SU
Very well Well Alright Quite badly Very badly No answer
1.7 16 59.9 16.4 4.1 1.7
Very satisfied Fairly satisfied Neither Quite dissatisfied Very dissatisfied No answer
38.5 47.8 8.9 3.5 1.1 0.2
Satisfaction with York academically
Very satisfied Fairly satisfied Neither Quite dissatisfied Very dissatisfied No answer
44.5 44 6.1 4.4 0.8 0.2
Type of mobile network
Orange Vodafone BT Cellnet Virgin One to One Don’t Own No answer
32 23.5 18.5 2.8 10.1 12.5 0.6
Satisfaction with the City of York
Support for 24 hour portering
Very supportive Quite supportive Neither Not very supportive Very unsupportive No answer
Support for differential room rents
Very strongly for Quite strong for No opinion Pretty strongly against Very strongly against No answer
% 77.7 12.2 6.7 1.5 1.2 0.7 10.7 21.7 21.8 20.9 24.1 0.8
Very Strong Pretty strong No real No answer
20.1 33.7 44.4 1.8
The need for a student venue to have a bar
Very important Quite important No opinion Quite unimportant Not at all important No answer
Boycotts on campus
None/don’t know Nestle Procter and Gamble Tuition Fees Other
Who should run a central venue
University Franchise SU Not Sure No answer
7.2 10.2 59.7 20.2 2.8
How the University should spend a hefty donation
Venue Library Accommodation Sports facilities Security Bars No answer
23.2 23.2 3.2 9.1 4 3.8 33.5
Support for a European Single Currency
Very strong Quite strong No Opinion Quite against Strongly against No answer
18.4 25.6 24.1 17.5 11.5 2.5
Increased European integration
Very strong Quite strong No Opinion Quite against Strongly against No answer
17.2 28.7 28 14.1 9.5 2
Conservative Labour Liberal Green Other None No answer
12.9 25.5 25.3 5.1 5 20.4 5.7
the 25 favourite pubs
01: Lendal Cellars
04: Kings Arms
Blessed and cursed with it’s waterfront location, the King’s Arms is a popular haunt in the summer for townies and students alike. The seasonal floods have caused a regu4.9% lar extended winter break.
05: Victoria Hotel
Strangely popular as one of the more expensive pubs in York, but close to campus. However good food and log fires provide an ample draw for students in and around the 4.4% Heslington Rd area. This is a truly second year haunt.
Lendal Cellars is like no where else in York. Slap bang in the centre of town, situated, as the name implies, in a cavernous underground bunker, and with a distinctly studenty ethos, Lendal Cellars is a first stop for many beginning a night of hedonistic clubbing, or for those who just want to spend the evening in one place. It intertwines its own cosmopolitan chic with the cheep beer prices and established name of the Hogshead chain, without losing any respectability. Monday night is ‘stand-up night’ - tell a joke, sing a song, recite some god-awful poetry... anything that takes your fancy.
02: Hansom Cab
06: Deramore Arms
The sponsor of the lion’s share of our University sports clubs, the Deramore is a real sports-boy pub. Though small, it attracts seemingly hundreds on a Thursday; a well 4.2% run friendly establishment.
As the name would imply, the Varisty chain values its links with the universities, and so likes handing out bargains to students. Trendy bar in a centre of town location; 3.8% check out the Camden-Town-esque beer garden.
Having been refurbished since it’s brief and unsuccessful aqua bar period, the Lowther is an often crowded pre-Ziggy’s venue. With cheep drinks and classic indie tunes it 3.7% creates a good atmosphere.
09: Bar 38
The most convenient meeting place in town, the Hansom Cab is but a few stumbling paces away from the Gallery and Micklegate, and also pretty handy for the city cash machines. Interior includes luxurious leather thrones sprinkled liberally throughout. Its small size makes for a cosy, comfortable ethos, and its clientele is always a mixture of students and old people - who always seem to be a bit bemused by us but never create a fuss. With a conveniently placed ‘Who Wants to be a Millionnaire?’ machine, new toilets, and some dodgy plant life growing from the ceiling, the Cab’s a firm student favourite.
03: Charles XII
A chrome and glass palace, it is one of the new breed of the ‘It Kids’ venues. Despite its glam looks the prices are not as excessive as one would think; not a session bar but a 3.0% place to be seen.
10: Slug & Lettuce
As above, but with a few more couches. It is a bar that is slightly out of the way, hidden in the midst of the fashionable area of York known as ‘The Quarter’. Essential wear 2.7% French Connection.
11: Rose & Crown
Lawrence Street location. Near to kebab shop. Cheep beer. Cosy interior if you can get a seat. Just goes to prove the old “Don’t judge a place by its industrial car-park 2.4% adage: beer garden.”
Often loud, and with garden furniture upstairs it seems odd at first. Charming French chaletesque restaurant upstairs & cocktail bar on the ground floor. Heaters in 2.1% noisy garden is another plus. Who is this Oscar?
13: Black Swan
As the closest pub to campus, the Charles had to feature pretty prominently on this list. Not much to look at from the outside, the pub has, however, quite a lot to offer on the inside. A long bar, friendly student bar staff, the traditional It’s A Scream special offers, a fine jukebox, many games machines and a huge beer garden with its own pool table all combine to make the Charles a pleasant afternoon / evening of idling away the time that could be spent on the damn essay. No wonder it’s the most popular Bass pub in the country.
One of York’s oldest pubs – a bit touristy but very homely, split into several different rooms. Perfectly situated for students studying at the Borthwick Institute or those 2.0% bracing a trip to Sainsbury’s.
14: Seahorse Hotel
Now sadly defunct – soon to rise from the ashes as a restaurant, the Seahorse is close to the students of Fulford and Heslington Road, had a classically entertaining pool 1.7% table, and served particularly cheep beer. RIP.
words: Alex Cooley, Adam Curran, Gareth Owens, Tom Smithard photos: Tom White
15: Henry J Beans
‘The party pub in York’? Maybe, maybe not, but its cocktails are by far the best around. Huge meals and a recent redesign allowed it to recapture the student market 1.5% have after its recent experience with the floods.
the best clubs
01: The Gallery
16: Old Orleans
Cocktail a la Tom Cruise it ain’t. No Razzmatazz, no dancing or glass tossing, just damn slow service, with constant con1.3% sultation to handbook. On the plus side old Jazz singers provide a little amusement.
17: Pitcher & Piano
A trip up a flight of stairs takes you to a gathering of York’s beautiful twenty something elite. Recommended wear is not 1.2% trainers and cords. Don’t get duped by the classic only serve doubles trick.
Probably the cheapest pint in York – beer from £1.25. Also in a great location – at the top of Micklegate, and convenient the station and the Odeon. Slightly seedy appear1.2% for ance and too many locals loses it points.
19: Phallanx & Firkin
On the dodgy end of Micklegate, generally with a strange mixture of elderly men and pissed students. Good music, 1.1% with reasonable prices and pool tables, but strangely sparse furnishings.
Far off near-train station location, and terrifyingly industrial on the outside. Cosy and friendly within, good for those who 1.1% like their real ale and old stuff on the walls. Could be hard to find a seat.
03: Ikon & Diva
On Goodramgate, close to town and Ripon & John, the place is friendly, bustling, and reasonably large. Also has a good 1.0% local band scene and a large screen. A few too many tourists for some – a good mixture for others.
A cross between a saloon bar and a brothel in appearance, the Grapes caters firmly for the pre-Gallery crowd. Cheep-ish 0.9% and generally good to get a table in. A surprising variety of bar games helps.
The initial fear that one will be forced to sit on the advertising bar running across Stonegate melts away into the authentic0.8% ity of the oldest pub in York at Yank tourist prices. Nice name though.
25: Golden Lion
With a wooden facade a la Hansom Cab, this is a charming public house with a great beer garden. It’s central town locaattracts the shopping crowd of a Saturday after0.7% tion noon.
The only club in York not owned by Northern Leisure, Ziggys retains an independent and alternative feel towards it, despite the usual music policy of almost 100% cheese. Very popular on a Wednesday night where it becomes a second home to University students, Ziggys has won new fans with its Tuesday night goth and metal night, the only club in York adventurous enough to try such a strategy. Much loved by students for its inferno-like heat, dodgy stairs, and general appearance of amatureness. Widely tipped for the chop last year, totally unable to attract University students to make the long trip over to the ‘other’ side of the city, Ikon & Diva’s undergone a renaissance this year, after moving their main student night from Thursday to Monday, picking up loads of fresher fans. By far the largest club in York, its warehouse appearance can seem at times a bit impersonal, but it has easily the most impressive sound system and its lights are also pretty snazzy.
23: Ha Ha Bar
24: Ye Olde Starre Inne
The top of not a particularly auspicious list, the Gallery wins through its combination of a diverse music policy (just not too much ‘real’ dance...), two floors (with ‘real’ stairs) and because, frankly, it’s the closest to campus. Best night is Thursday, with commercial dance upstairs and ‘60’s soul in the basement, but also popular with the Indie Kids is Wednesday, when the long hair brigade come out and play downstairs, whilst those less discerning listen to Abba and Steps up above.
21: White Swan
A rare genuinely trendy bar that doesn’t try too hard. Classy food and comfy, airy atmosphere combine with occasional 0.9% studenty drinks promotions of the two bottles of wine for one variety.
Poor Toffs. Derided by most for its decor, size and music policy, the club has a poor security record, has picked up complaints over sexist comments, and students have stayed away in droves. Most popular student night is Tuesday, where the emphasis is firmly on cheese but this has recently only been packed when rumours abounded that the club was shutting down. Many students do however appreciate its lack of pretension.
SPECIAL 4 PAGE PULL-OUT
Of central importance Great expectations? analysis: Tom Smithard Our student loans will never be described as a ‘hefty donation’ from the state to us, not least because we’ll have to start paying them back in a few years. The University is more fortunate - it picks up huge donations from the state and the commercial sector all the time. Unfortunately, we don’t get a huge say in how the University spends its money, but if we did, what we want is clear: a central venue and a better library. 54.6% of our respondents placed a central venue amongst their three choices on which they would choose to spend a ‘hefty donation’, with 23.2% placing it as their first choice. 49.6% chose to spend the money on more resources for the library, again with 23.2% placing it as their number one priority. Better accommodation took third place, with 40.8% of respondents picking it, followed by better sports facilities, more/better college bars, better security; and in final place, more accommodation. The University Administration will be happy with the results. £3million pounds is currently being pumped into the new humanities library (much of it from a private donation from the Raymond Burton Trust), which will house humanities collections, including those of the Borthwick Institute, and provide greater research facilities. As reported in this issue of Vision, plans are also under consideration to modify Central Hall into a potential bar and venue, whilst the Goodricke Amenities Development will also provide an extra venue.
Finally, Administration’s policy of building higher quality, ‘house’ style accommodation, as seen in James, Alcuin and Halifax Court also seems to be gaining students’ approval better accommodation was placed four places above more accommodation in the students’ wish-list. Admin can only see these results as justification for their plans, but it must be noted that all seven options listed in the question desperately need investment - it should not just be a choice of which one or two to spend any money on. It is interesting to note the divides on campus over what to spend money on. For example, arts students place greater spending on the library as their first choice, 30% placing it as their first choice, whilst only 14.7% of scientists believe it to be the most important option, indeed, it is by far-and-away the scientists’ lowest priority. On the other hand, the scientists place the most importance on more accommodation - obviously not looking forward to two or three years living in South Bank with 9:15am starts; which doesn’t affect the artists, whose leisurely lifestyle allows them to place it as their lowest priority. It was Lib Dem supporters who were most up for spending money on the central venue, with Labour fans the least supportive. 28.6% of Green Party supporters placed the library as their top priority, whilst only 19.8% of Lib Dems believed it was worth their vote. 31.9% of students who placed a central venue as their first choice were dissatisfied with the University socially, while only 24.5% who plumped for the library were dissatisfied.
analysis: Matt Goddard If you come to University everyone has to balance up the social and academic side their life, don't they? Well this questionnaire gave them the opportunity to think about it if they hadn't ever before. Of course the problem is that you can always make the best of your situation, particularly socially. The worse it is the more you justify it; three years can bring you down from the heights of Cream to the inferno of Ziggy's. There's no brain-washing involved, it's just psychologically necessary. So what of York academically. The University consistently ranks highly in the country's premier league, yet recent Guardian rankings also gave it a drop-out score of 5.08 out of 8, noticeably more than other comparable universities. With departments constantly garnering excellent scores from outside sources, the vast majority of you find no rea-
Academically impressive, but socially?
son to disagree. 44.5% said they were very satisfied and 44% quite satisfied. On the flip-side of the coin, the 0.8% of very dissatisfied people might not justify the Guardian's drop-out scores, but combined with the 4.4% of pretty dissatisfied, maybe they have a point. Only you know how subjective you were. Those dissatisfied were outnumbered by those occupying the middle ground. The 6.1% of ambivalent students are noticeable and it would be interesting to see at this stage of the year where those mainly came from; unimpressed first years or worn out third years? This questionnaire caught the University in the early stages of change. It's easy for students to look at other departments like Biology and feel their department needs more investment. Certainly 90.4% of science students are satisfied academically compared to 87.8% of arts students. Socially, the questionnaire gave no room for ambivalence. York's no Leeds or London - it's for the pubber, not the clubber. Different degrees seem to have little impact. Science students and art students are both satisfied; 71.8% and 77.4% respectively. Considering the different work and course structures, no discipline has a social monopoly. Overall 19.1% are very satisfied and 58.2% quite satisfied with York. 19.6% showed some level of dissatisfaction. With the dissatisfied similar in number to the very satisfied, those 58.2% who are quite satisfied seem to occupy a broad middle ground. Maybe there is a lot of self-justification going on.
MOR like indie University of the Left analysis: Wesley Johnson
analysis: Ayeesha Bhutta
York students said no to folk, metal and eighties music in Vision’s student survey. Eighties classics such as Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ were given the cold shoulder as only 13.1% of students included eighties music amongst their three favourite genres. The results were surprising when compared to URY’s Ultimate Student Chart which was compiled last year: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ came top in their all-time top 100. But in Vision’s survey, indie, rock and cheese topped the polls, whilst jazz, sixties and hip hop enjoyed mid-table security. The shock results left students baffled as to why Ziggys is always so packed on a Wednesday night, despite playing 70’s and 80’s music. The percentages for each genre were weighted to take into account how many people had voted for one, two or three genres. Looking at the wider survey, the number of arts and science students voting for indie music was roughly equal, but far more arts students chose classical music whilst rock hit it off with the scientists. Cheese was a firm favourite, with 27.4% of those who preferred cheese being satisfied with living in York and 10.6% being dissatisfied. Those who opted for cheese as their favourite also thought the Students’ Union was representing them alright or well/very well on campus, whilst more of those who preferred Jazz thought the SU were representing them badly/very badly. When it came to politics though, the
At the recent General Election, 18-24 year olds were among the most apathetic group in the population so the overall result can hardly be said to be a reflection of our opinions. To see what students really think about politics you we asked who you would vote for in a General Election and also for opinions on the ever controversial issue of Europe. The Vision survey showed that if York students had their way the current government would be split between Labour and the Lib Democrats. They gained almost exactly the same share of the vote with Labour having a narrow .2% lead. Labour got 25.5%, and the Liberal Democrats 25.3%. The Conservatives trailed in third with only 12.9% of student support. The remainder of the student population was split between the Green Party which commanded 5.4%, and other smaller parties (5%). 20.4% of students asked said they would not vote for any political party in a General Election. According to Rory Palmer of the campus Labour Party this “Reinforces the view that the Conservatives are not at all liked by students.” Keith Aspden of the Liberal Democrats said they were “Delighted by the results of the Vision survey.” Nick Toms, Chair of the Conservative Party on campus, expressed surprise that the Liberals had not gained greater support but claimed the Tory percentage gained was good for such a “Predominantly left wing” campus. Perhaps the most significant of the results here was that a fifth of all students asked said they would not vote for any of the political parties showing that interest in mainstream poli-
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ may be our favourite song, but ‘80’s is not our favourite genre results were clear. Those likely to vote for Labour, the LibDems and the Green party all preferred indie, but for the Conservatives it was cheese which beat indie by less than 1%. Only one potential Conservative voter chose folk music as their favourite, but it had strong support from potential voters for the Green party (12.5%). The results matched URY’s Ultimate Student Chart which was compiled last year. They found that the all-time top five for York students were Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Robbie Williams’s ‘Angels’, and ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles. Those results in full: What are your favourite genres of music? Indie - 32%; Rock - 26.3%; Cheese - 25.5%; Dance - 23.2%; Jazz 16.9%; 60s - 16.4%; Hip Hop - 15.5%; Classical - 15.1%; 70s - 14.3%; 80s - 13.1%; Metal - 6.9%; Folk - 5.7%.
tics at least is falling. The issue of Europe which is set to dominate the political debate was also addressed. Here a pro-European current was revealed. In answer to the question “Do you think that Britain should enter the single currency” 43% said ‘yes’ with only 28% opposing entry into the Euro. A quarter of those asked said they had no opinion on the matter. On the topical question of increased integration with Europe a greater number (45%) said they were in favour of a closer alliance with the EU, whilst only a quarter were said to be against. But again a high level boredom with the issues was revealed by the 28% who had no opinion on the issue. The Liberal Democrats said that the results on Europe showed that students are “Using their common sense” to back up their party’s view. In contrast the Conservatives claimed that the level of support for the Euro was a sign that people “Do not seem to understand the issues.” They also alleged that people were afraid to put themselves down as antiEuropean for fear of being portrayed as racist or xenophobic and that the anti-European feeling was greater than it seemed. Overall the political question show that, true to stereotype, students are a more centre-left lot than the majority of the population. On Europe the loud anti European voices seem to have had little effect as most people wish to be closer to, rather than further away from the EU. The level of apathy expressed through no opinion is also high and it is something that the political parties will need to address is they want to tap into as much of the student vote as possible.
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
FEATURES : 21
Graphic: Alex Watson
How does it feel to have your house robbed? Sport’s Gareth Owens happily tells us...
ON THE 7th of June, my housemates and myself left our well-appointed little end terrace to have our say in a fairly unexciting general election. Despite many in the country staying at home, our commitment to democracy meant we returned twenty minutes later to find that our house had been quickly and efficiently burgled. This, naturally, came as something of a blow. Having lived in the supposedly respectable Heslington Road area for two-and-a-half terms without a hint of trouble, to be so riotously shafted seemed unthinkable. We waited the customary thirty
Perversely, the cold professionalism of the whole thing almost makes it worse than if they’d put a bit more effort in. Had they crapped on the carpet or smeared swear words in their own blood across the ceiling, this would at least have shown an element of originality. The most exciting thing they did was eat half a rather tasty ginger
minutes for a police car to arrive from two minutes down the road before entering the house. As whimpers sailed from every bedroom at the sight of empty space where stereos, laptops and entire CD collections used to be, a pleasant yet alarming WPC pursed her lips at the state of our washing up. A leaflet pushed through our door the next day confirmed the obvious we were now Victims Of Crime. The strange thing is, a student house being burgled is, in itself, unremarkable. Everyone knows someone it’s happened to, and whilst no one would deny the inherent pain-in-thearse nature of a break-in, until it happens you can’t realise how much it affects you. The sight of drawers wrenched open and clothes scattered by an unfeeling criminal paw is unexpectedly gut-wrenching. Perversely, the cold professionalism of the whole thing almost makes it worse than if they’d put a bit more
effort in. Had they crapped on the carpet or smeared swear words in their own blood across the ceiling, this would at least have shown an element of originality. The most exciting thing they did was eat half a rather tasty ginger cake. Outside our now violated four walls, we suddenly view the outside world with extreme suspicion. Given the speed of the crime, we were clearly being watched. This means that I automatically try (and fail) to memorize every car registration number on our street. Within the house, bedroom doors are now always locked, limiting inhome wandering and generally diminishing its previously chummy atmosphere. And on top of all of this, every time I slip my key in the lock there will always be the clammy fear that they’ve come back for the rest of the ginger cake. Everyone’s response to such an incident is: “Are you insured?”. “Yes!” I joyfully replied. “We’re afraid not”, added my insurance company. Apparently, as my bedroom door was unlocked (unlike the front and back doors) it was entirely my own fault that my possessions were swiped. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t made clear when my policy was arranged. My advice to everyone with insurance (and, of course, everyone should have insurance) is to check whether this counts for you - sadly, despite their chirpy adverts, absolutely everyone who works in insurance is a scumbag, and will do their best to fleece you. There is also the issue of having some security, and of having good security. The reason that Burglar Bill is tonight listening to my music on my stereo, whilst knocking off a quick game of Snake on my phone and idly practicing the signature on the back of my bankcard, is that we weren’t as secure as we thought. All it took was a weak window lock to be broken, so that a weasely hand could reach in and open the back door from the inside. Naturally, it wasn’t fully bolted - we were only gone for TWENTY BLOODY MINUTES, after all - but it will be from now on. Which is, of course, bolting the stable door with the horse but a distant neighing speck. Hopefully it will be a lesson to others. We watched the election that night anyway, despite it being a forgone conclusion. The Conservatives made things very easy for Labour, and we had celebrated by making things very easy for Burglar Bill.
The college everyone forgets is being pulled down in front of our eyes. Will anyone miss it? Alex Lloyd for one... THERE'S A common reaction provoked when I discuss with people which college I am from. You'll be there, in your seminar group or whatever, and people will say "Which one are you?" While those from James are told how lucky they are, my reply will often be followed by either sympathetic noises, nervous laughing or something along the lines of "Is that the crap one that's really far away from everything?" You see, I must confess, I'm a Wentworthian. And very proud of it, thank you very much. You may not understand this fact but you should not be scared. Contrary to popular belief, we are reasonably normal. And friendly (so long as you are not from Goodricke).
People just don’t come to Wenty Bar. They don’t pass through it on a bar crawl. They don’t pop in after their seminar. Consequently it tends to be populated by the members of James who reject the bright lights of Goodricke What a great number of you also don't seem to realise is that, as of the end of this term, Wentworth will be no more. Or, rather, it will become a graduate college, which is fantastic for the graduates of this University, not so good for those of us who will become homeless and will be left to wander the campus as nomads. Well, it won't be quite that serious. The University is instead making us members of the new Halifax College and as long as the place has a bar, which we're assured it will, then most existing Wentworthians can deal with the change. It doesn't mean we like it though. So why are we so upset to see our beloved college close? Your relationship to your college is one of the important relationships of your life and for some people it's stronger than others. With Wentworth, it's a bit of a tempestuous love affair. I have to admit that, at first, I didn't always see the attraction and it took me a while to fit in. Wentworth is notoriously cliquey, in part a result of it's out-of-theway location. People just don't come to Wenty Bar. They don't pass through it on a bar crawl. They don't pop in after their seminar (which is actually very handy at lunchtime). Consequently, it tends to be populated by people from Wentworth and the
members of James who reject the bright lights and nausea-inducing colours of Goodricke. But this makes for a friendly atmosphere, as you can guarantee you can usually find someone you know to have a drink with. I feel I should also dispel the primary myth that surrounds Wentworth - it's not actually that crap. It's situated in one of the more beautiful parts of campus (well, it was until the building work began) and is always ideal for laking people (as generations of bar reps well know). The JCRC are highly enthusiastic and are always a good source of gossip as they invariably establish 'close working relationships'. Our Wenty Wasted's are the creme de la creme of cheesy campus events and I defy anyone not to have a good time as you dance the night away to Tiffany and Chesney Hawkes, our classy dining hall transporting you back to school discos when you were thirteen (only the men aren't as good looking and you don't have to sneak off to the loos to drink alcohol). It has been a loyal host to the fantastic Battle of the Bands competition, one of the highlights of the campus calendar. The bar is one of the better campus bars, and I truly believe I'm not being biased by saying that. It's not like an airport lounge, it doesn't have a trendy colour scheme, it doesn't look like a working men’s club and it's not pretentious. Yes, Wentworth is not pretentious. It's cheap and cheesy. You know what you're getting. As one of my close friends once said " It's like your favourite football team - they're never going to win and you know they're not the best, but you love them because of that and because they're your crap football team." The knocking down of Wentworth B-Block in a few weeks will also mark the passing of an important era of student accommodation (although small remnants will remain with Wentworth and Goodricke C-Blocks). No longer will innocent 18 year olds come away to University and have the character building experience of breezeblock walls (surprisingly comforting), claustrophobia inducing corridors, showers shared with 12 other people (but not at once - unless you're drunk) and attempting to cook on a Baby Belling at the same time as another 20 people. Such experiences make you surprisingly inventive (some of my corridormates last year managed a full Christmas dinner) and induce the kind of "we're all in this together" spirit that your gran bemoans has been missing since the war. While the layout of the accommodation blocks in Wentworth means they probably not the most security conscious around, they are extremely friendly and there is always something interesting to be found happening on a Friday night. Wentworth is a place for eccentrics and for being who you want to be. It has its own little quirks. For example, where
else could you get away with celebrating the college's 30th anniversary last month when the college actually opened in 1972 (we needed an excuse for a party...)? The Provost, Peter Lee, is a legend in the bar and is always willing to get to know the students. His parties (if you are lucky enough to get invited) come with ridiculous amounts of free wine. Nancie, our wonderful licencee with the fantastically painted nails, is stern but fair and, if you get on her good side, guaranteed to serve you first. Some of the lesser known facts about Wentworth are that it used to hold the world record for the number of people to pile on top of or hang from a standard double pillar box (it was 32 and took place in Parliament Street in 1985), that it once
Wentworth is not pretentious. It’s cheap and cheesy. You know what you’re getting. As one of my close friends once said, “It’s like your favourite football team - they’re never going to win and you know they’re not the best, but they’re your crap football team “ tried to declare independence from the UK as a stunt for RAG, and that it was the setting for the murder of an Open University lecturer (but we won't go into that one...). The college also shares the same name as the penitentiary in Prisoner Cell Block H, which would explain the accommodation... I defy any college to have a stronger spirit than Wentworth (or shorten it's name so effectively - Langwith take note), which makes the divorce all the more painful. It's not just current students that feel it, but the generations that have left and will now never be able to return to Wenty as they knew it. The lesson of all this I hoped to illustrate is that you should treasure your college - they are such a huge part of the student experience at York and a unique system that we should fight to keep. As for the students of Wentworth, we are going to make sure that next year we do our best to make sure the Wenty spirit lives on and that Halifax College has some of the same magic and reputation that makes Wentworth a love affair for those who are part of her.
22 : FEATURES yorkVision
June 20th 2001
Hail to the Chimp? playing field, one where money and influence become almost irrelevant. Meanwhile the universality of the web is equally new and unique. In the past, even where they were not specifically banned – a practice which the deeply entrenched commitment to free speech in the US made prohibitively difficult anyway – most traditional channels for fringesatire and political commentary were restricted by the limits of their circulation. Newspapers, pamphlets and
Early in his nomation campaign, declaring ‘there ought to be limits to freedom’, the President filed a legal complaint against the owners of the anti-Bush site gwbush.com
What do you do if your simian president was elected on a minority vote, he’s not all that bright, and your ‘democracy’ is an international joke? Laugh at it, of course. And, as Gareth Walker found out, Americans are laughing longer and harder than they’ve ever laughed before... AS USUAL The Onion, one of America’s most popular satirical web-sites, looked to have struck the nail on the head. Soon after George W. Bush’s inauguration as American President they featured a spoof announcement: “Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over’”. A recent headline was, if anything, even more blunt: “Bush actually President, Nation suddenly realizes”. The Onion echoes what has by now become a well-worn theme. Like a hungover partygoer who rolls over the morning-after and finds the handsome stud they pulled the night before replaced by a portly, spotty loser; it seems that America has woken-up, looked over and found the sight of Bush Jnra grinning back at them a much less appealing prospect than might have seemed the case in that brief, heady moment in the polling-booth. Of course on the face of it, the reaction against Bush is hardly unprecedented. Nixon never exactly got an easy ride even before Watergate proved his final undoing, while Clinton was forever dogged by allegations and investigations into every aspect of his conduct, public and private. And, as Daniel Kurtzman – a former Washington political reporter and now About.com’s political humour editor – observes, Bush is a conspicuously easy target for mockery: “He looks and sounds like a dope, and his whole life has been a story of mediocrity and failing upwards. By constantly flubbing his lines and mangling the English language, he practically
satirizes himself.” Yet the sheer depth of many Americans’ anger toward Bush can only be explained by something which runs much deeper than the fact that he looks a little like a chimp and has a tendency to muddle his words. As James Beacham, the creator of the anti-Bush website bushforpope.com, explains: “The Bush Administration would be wholly ignorable, or at least more politely criticized by me, as just another fanatical right-wing movement to remove civil liberties from our constitution and install the Bible in public schools, if indeed Bush had been elected fairly and squarely. Except he wasn’t. More Americans wanted the other guy for president, and, as we now know, more Floridians wanted the other guy for president. “Bush was not elected, he was installed – and he deserves every slap he gets.” The closeness of the election, in which Gore technically won more votes but lost to Bush due to the electoral-college system, would in-itself be sufficient to provoke frustration among his critics. However the controversy over the Florida ballot and the ignominious manner of its’ resolution, has left them questioning the very democratic legitimacy of Bush’s election. Garry Trudeau, writer of the ‘Doonesbury’ comic strip, spoke for many earlier this year when he observed of Bush’s election: “It took his brother, his father, his father’s friends, the Florida secretary of state, and the Supreme Court to pull it off. His entire life gives fresh meaning to the phrase ‘assisted living’.” Now there is a thriving industry in bumper-stickers, badges and posters bearing slogans like “George Bush: Not My President” and “Don’t Blame Me: My Vote Didn’t Count”, while the early months of the Bush administration has done little except fan the flames of outrage among critics as a deeply conservative White House has shown itself averse to compromise and reluctant to make the post-election shift to the centre many political pundits had predicted. But by far one of the most interesting aspects to the negative reaction against Bush to-date, has been the way in which the early months of the Bush presidency has seen the Internet come-of-age as a medium of satire, ridicule and political criticism. Of course in the wake of the Lewinskyaffair the Internet was awash with antiClinton derision, while the ‘Drudge Report’ website became an essential centre for new information about the scandal. Nonetheless, there is an unprecedented number and variety to the hundreds of sites that even a cursory search of the web reveal to be devoted to variously mocking, challenging and in some cases entirely rejecting Bush’s presidency: among the most popular of which include bushorchimp.com, where the close resemblance between the president and a number of assorted apes is repeatedly emphasised; and bushisms.com, where Bush’s many unfortunate tanglings with syntax are catalogued. That the internet has been at the forefront of the reaction against Bush may in large part be explained by that fact that the mainstream media has – with a few honor-
He looks and sounds like a dope, and his whole life has been a story of mediocrity and falling upwards. By constantly flubbing his lines and mangling the English language, he practically satirizes himself able exceptions – conspicuously failed to either channel or articulate the mood of unease toward Bush. Both sides of the political divide in America rarely fail to complain about the biases against them within the media. However, as anyone who via satellite TV has chanced upon one of the major American network news channels (or, worse still, the laugh-free stretches of airtime that constitutes most American ‘satire’) will know, in fact it is the very reluctance to court controversy which damns most political comment – serious or humorous – to staid predictability. In contrast, Dan Kurtzman observes, the Internet has offered a platform unprecedented in its accessibility, and one which offers the potential for anyone to become a political pundit: “Many people see the mainstream media as representing an evernarrowing set of views, and they see the Internet as a vital means of providing balance and counterpoint to conventional media wisdom. All kinds of alternative news opinion and media watchdog sites have launched in recent months and are developing loyal followings”. Indeed, in the world of modern politics the Internet offers a uniquely level
other publications (let alone such ephermal forms of protest as stand-up comedy or speeches) were often inherently localized – and liable to be sought-out only by the already converted. Obviously the Internet suffers from no such limits. A search for ‘George Bush, Policies’ is as liable to bring-up pageafter-page listing Dubya’s various verbal slips as it is any statement of his administration’s objectives, while any variation on ‘GeorgeBush.com’ will more often prove to be satirical in their content than ‘genuine’ sites. Meanwhile, in the world beyond America, the profusion of sites dedicated to mocking Bush have been eagerly seized-upon. They reinforce an impression of the President as a ‘stupid, right-wing Texan’ who epitomizes all that is most arrogant about America, which even the White House has acknowledged as a major obstacle to their foreign policy dealings. As indeed was highlighted by the generally frosty reception Bush received on his recent European tour. Of course, those who take the level of Internet criticism as evidence of largescale domestic dissatisfaction with Bush submit to a certain measure of self-deception. While not as high as Clinton’s customary approval ratings most polls indicate a solid bedrock of support for Bush among a substantial swathe of the American public. Just as did Nixon and Reagan, so too Bush can generally rely upon the ‘silent majority’ of conservative America. Indeed, the web-based response to Bush rests upon an awkward paradox. It can articulate with unprecedented power and range the deep-seated anger of many Americans toward Bush’s presidency. However the very fact that the Internet has emerged as the chief venue for criticism of Bush, is itself only because of the staid conformity of the mainstream media and the general complacency of the overwhelming majority of the American public. Unsurprisingly, James Beacham admits to a high degree of frustration: “Bush is such a complete fraud in almost every way possible and in such an overtly public manner, that it hardly seems
right for us satirists to ignore him, like the rest of America seems to have done. The Florida scam should have been our turnof-the-century Watergate – it still has time to become one, but I’m not holding my breath.” Still, at the very least some comfort can be drawn from the fact that Bush himself has on occasion shown himself to be tetchy about the criticism he has received. Early in his nomination-campaign, declaring that “There ought to be limits to freedom” he filed a legal complaint against the owners of the anti-Bush site gwbush.com. However the action was subsequently quickly dropped, and the widespread derision Bush faced for his remarks – not to mention the overwhelming practical difficulties of trying to regulate the Internet – means there will be no end to the criticism or mockery in the foreseeable future. Indeed if he can’t beat them, it seems that Bush now wants to get in on the joke. Recently he spent most of a speech before press-journalists quoting from a book ‘Bushisms’, while speaking to the graduating class at Yale University last month, Bush told them, “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the ‘C’ students, I say: you too can be president.” However, with several sites already displaying second-by-second countdowns to the next presidential elections, who will get to have the last laugh remains to be seen.
Dubya dubya dubya dot... http://politicalhumor. about.com Comprehensive archive of American satirical websites. www.gwbush.com Still funny, but also offers substantial serious commentary on the activities of the Bush White House www.toostupidtobepresident.com Animations and jokes at Dubya's expense www.bushforpope.com One is an autocratic conservative, the other a religious hard-liner - but which is which? www.bushorchimp.com You decide. www.mediawhoresonline.com Documents the general subservience of much of the American press.
Severed heads, poisonings, bludgeonings and stabbings are not things associated with Japanese cliches of respect, obedience and conformity. But, as Marie Bates argues, a new generation is turning on these traditions as a country struggles with its uncertain identity
20 June 20th 2001 yorkVision
Japan: Land of the Rising
FEATURES : 23
NowReaching whattwenty do should I do? be a
milestone - the end of teenage awkwardness, the beginning of a new confidence and poise. But Vicky Kennedy found it a depressing experience: no more odd socks, no more being late, and no more glitter...
Western style is now permeating Japanese youth, as traditional ways of thinking are thrown into crisis IN JUNE 1997 an 11 year old boy was murdered, his head severed and stuck on the school gates. A note was left in the victim Jun Hase’s mouth, calling the police ’fools’. The 14 year old in Kobe who admitted to the crime had only 2 months earlier bludgeoned another child to death with a hammer. In September 1998, a 15 year old girl confessed to poisoning a classmate, leaving her hospitalised, in what appears to have been an imitation of a string of poisonings which had killed 5 people that summer. Only last year a 13 year old stabbed his teacher to death with a butterfly knife when she scolded him for being late to class. These are not isolated incidents - each sparked off a spate of new attacks. In the
Whereas American crime rates are beginning to drop, in Japan they are increasing at an alarming rate past year alone, the number of violent crimes carried out by minors has increased by 30%. In the first half of 2000, the number of murders was as high as 53, with increasing numbers of teenagers being arrested for murder. Japan had always been considered one of the safest countries in the world. However, a savage attack last week at a Japanese elementary school, as a mentally unstable man killed eight children, draws attention to the growing crime rates. A greater problem this has highlighted is the recent increase of violent crime among the Japanese youth which continues to shock the nation. Although crime is on an all time high in Japan, the crime rates are still lower than those seen in America. However, whereas American crime rates are beginning to drop, in Japan they are increasing at an alarming rate. This shows a serious growing problem in Japanese society. Many of these teen murderers have been classified as ‘hikikomori’, (translated as recluse or withdrawn) carrying out crimes of desperation and frustration. These kids tend to be antisocial, rather than obviously violent. Much of this is blamed on the high pressure education system. The inability to cope or conform often results in a strong feeling of shame and
sometimes bullying. This comes from the parents as well as in the educational institutions. This was the case when a 17 year old boy attacked his schoolmates with a baseball bat. He went home and bludgeoned his mother because, as he told the police, he thought she would disapprove. However the penal system is as much to blame as the high pressure environment the children grow up in. There are strict laws protecting minors, leaving them practically untouchable by the law. Their identity is never disclosed and punishment tends to be as lenient as two years in a juvenile detention centre. This was why another 17 year old knifed an elderly neighbour to death. He told the police, “I wanted to experience killing.” The police hands are tied and the lenient legislation does not act as a deterrent. However, being half Japanese and having lived there myself, I have noticed that the problem cannot be pinned entirely upon these individual hikikomori or the penal system. The education system, until recently, had been very successful in commanding obedience and promoting academic excellence, being the envy of the world. So what has changed? There has long been an ever widening cultural gap between the older generation and ours. This is not the common difference we see here between the old and young, which tends to be largely a matter of taste. The difference in Japan is the result of losing the war against America, spending the next fifty years striving to Westernise. The attempt to catch up with America in economy, technology and ideologies has created a tension between different generations in Japan. This tension is essentially the East against the West. The meeting of East and West is a common observation in guide books about Japan. The old Shinto temples standing amid the bustling and modern metropolis of Tokyo. The occasional geisha who can be spotted walking down the neon streets of Kyoto. All images which make Japan unique and interesting to a western tourist. However the penetration of the West is much more complex that what is merely a visual attraction to foreigners. After the war, America was seen as the ideal. Japan had just experienced years of poverty. America was not only prosperous, but it was liberal and democratic, with a strong emphasis on family life. However this is somewhat incompatible with the militant meritocracy of traditional Japan. This has left a conflict of values for the youth of Japan. They are still faced with traditional views and ideals in a very
strict education system. But as Yasuhiro Watanabe of the Police Juvenile Crime Division believes, the youth “Don’t see anything good about working hard, getting to university and going to ‘good’ enterprises. They don’t see much hope in their future.” This is why those who do not excel or
Last year in Japan, for the first time I saw teenagers with dyed blond hair and deep tans; the girls wore platforms as big as 8 inches, wanting longer legs - all in an attempt to look more western those who are bullied tend to withdraw from society. It is the combination of the high pressure of the education system and the conflicting western influences, which create the ‘hikikomori’. Americanisation creates another problem among the Japanese youth of today, although less extreme. There has been a loss of national identity which has created an apathy towards education and the value of painstaking diligence so important in traditional Japan. There has been a general decline in behaviour and a new type of teenager has emerged. This is a generation trying to rebel against their elders or against Japan. Last year in Japan, for the first time I saw teenagers with dyed blonde hair and deep tans. The girls wear platforms as big as 8 inches, wanting longer legs. This is all an attempt to look western. The older generation despair over the future of the country as they see these kids, preferring fun over traditional ideas of relentless work and sacrifice. A generation dominated by fads and trends has emerged. In the hands of these youths, the future of Japan, with its traditional strengths of hard work and discipline, looks uncertain. Westernisation itself has not been the cause of the problems. It was necessary to make Japan the economic Godzilla it is today. However, only fifty years ago, all the stereotypes of traditional Japan were true. It is the rapidity of change which has thrown Japan into an identity crisis, resulting in quite gruesome consequences.
LAST WEEKEND I acted like a child. I'm almost ashamed when I think about it now. My twenty-year old brain still winces with embarrassment. With hindsight, it all started out perfectly: I arrived at the station with thirty minutes to spare until my train was due. I sat down on the platform and pulled out a magazine to bide the time. The next moment I looked up I was startled by such a horror that the bin emptier beside me felt compelled to check if I was OK. Everyone had gone. It seemed that between the time of picking up my magazine and looking up again an inter-city had arrived and departed, along with the rushhour crowd, without my even feeling a tickle of reality. The sad truth is that five years ago, with puppy fat wisdom, this might have been an admissible situation to be in. Perhaps, I would even have looked quite sweet. But after I had phoned my friends to tell them that I would not be able to
There is something about your twenties that silently dictates that breaking into a sudden run in heels is inappropriate, if not slightly weird. It can be assumed that sophisticated twenty-somethings know that the right way to behave is to casually saunter towards places, at the correct time
make it out that night (Why? Because I didn't notice the train sneak up and tip toe away) and after the station guards had had a (some might say excessive, but let's not judge) laugh at my expense, I realised that perhaps now would be the right time for me to grow up. Now was the time to make a clean break from my teenage years. But growing up is not an easy hobby to have, so it is important for any would-be grown-up to have some objectives from the start. Firstly, it is important to learn how to deal with time. It is a stark realisation that the older we get, the more control we are gradually weaned into taking over our lives. So being late is one thing that would have to belong to my teen, uncontrolled, years. Whilst it is true that tardiness can sometimes be acceptable, even cool, if handled with dignity, the adult must come up with a grown-up 20-something excuse, ie. 'I could not find a
parking space', rather than a young
Sugar bad, Cosmo good?
teenage one, 'I ran out of petrol and had to be towed here' in order to exhibit an air of maturity. Which leads onto the next aspect about my teenage years that would have to be changed with adulthood: I would have to learn to acquire poise. My usual manner of dealing with not being at the right place at the right hour has always been very simple and, actually, practical: I run. With impulsive haste this sometimes involves taking shortcuts, be it through a muddy cabbage field or through a department store which has a throughway, I have little shame when I am in a hurry. Yet there is something about reaching your twenties that silently dictates that breaking into a sudden run in heels is inappropriate, if not slightly weird. With this, it can be assumed that sophisticated twenty-somethings know that the right way to behave is to casually saunter towards places, at the correct time. There were still more teenageisms that needed to be dealt with though. For example, have you ever encountered an adult who regularly wears odd socks? And if you have, did you trust that person? It is an unfortunate truth that my socks have led single lives for as long as I can remember. I have given up trying to marry them off to Mr Right and now settle for the nicest thing that comes along. And how about the fact that I love wearing glitter, surely that would have to change in order for me to be accepted into adulthood? The more I began to think about myself the more that I began to realise that there is still a teenager kicking around inside my twenty-year old body. Yet perhaps this is not such a bad thing. There is nothing exciting about getting older and dressing and behaving according to expectation. And anyway, wanting to be older than you are is such a teenage thing to do.
24 : MUSIC yorkVision
June 20th 2001
Make your life Beta The Beta Band herald the Summer with the release of a new album, ‘Hot Shots II’ - and this time we’re promised it won’t be ‘awful’. Paul Cosby and Isobel Todd find out why AFTER ALL the excitement of the 3 EPs, The Beta Band’s 1999 debut album was largely considered a disappointment, with the band themselves infamously describing it, in no uncertain terms, as “Fucking awful” and “The worst record made this year.” But now, we’re happy to report, all is well in the Beta Band camp: enlightened positivity and relaxed determination abound, and John at least is unshakably happy with new album Hot Shots II. Isn’t it even a little bit bad? “No, no, the whole thing’s cool. It’s a great album.” The band feel they’ve finally been able to achieve what they had strived for with the debut: “We kind of went on a learning curve with the 3 EPs, and then we reached a plateau, and it sort of leveled out. I think we’ve now taken it up a step.” The improvement is partly down to the involvement of R n B producer CSwing, although we’re not supposed to call him that: “He gets upset if you call him an R n B producer. He’s into hip hop I guess. But he’s more like us hard to
pigeon hole.” A great musician himself, he’s also brought knowledge of ‘programming and sounds’ to the album’s production. The band have tried to create something “More focussed, more pop-orientated,” which meant distilling those 30 minute tracks down to 4: “Less of all that” seems to be the resounding quote. They’ve also moved further towards sample based music. The problem with this, though, is that they have a nasty habit of cropping up on other people’s records. In a small time reoccurrence of ‘95’s Tricky/Portishead feud, the Beta Band’s intended single ‘Squares’ was recently pulled when it was discovered that I Monster’s new single also used a sample from ‘Daydream’, an easy listening 60s track by the Gunter Kallman Choir. Did this piss them off? “Well, it was kind of disappointing cos the whole thing seemed to be split and ‘Squares’ was just the obvious single.”
However John is disappointingly venomless about the whole thing. “There’s no hard feelings. The other single we’ve chosen’s just as good.” Again, the new album claims a disparate, and huge, set of influences. He comments, “If you listen to a wide variety of music then that’s gonna come through in the band. But a lot of people don’t. A lot of people only listen to one type of music, then you get a band who’ll only play that type of music. But that’s not us.” They’re certainly a bugger to pigeonhole, but it hasn’t stopped the music press from trying:
“It’s funny, we’ve been pegged with Skunk Rock, New Psychedelia, New Acoustic Movement, every single movement you’ve got, we’ve been lumbered with.” So, asked whether the band feel at all responsible for NAM, John is quick to point out that “There’s not much acoustic stuff on the new album. It’s beat based. Whatever other bands do is fine, but we just want to keep moving forward.” Of the rumour that Radiohead were looking to his band as an influence, he says, “I haven’t heard the new stuff yet, but hopefully they’ve subtly adopted our style, rather than some bands who have just gone for the cliché - pots and pans and acoustic guitars!” Does he mean Regular Fries? Or perhaps Oasis, whose incessant strumming of the A7 chord that was commonly known as ‘Go Let It Out’ bore marked resemblances to the Beta Band’s 3 EPs? He doesn’t correct us, even going so far as to allow that “I certainly did recognise something there!” Meanwhile they’re embarking on a tour of the USA with fellow non-conformists Radiohead (“They pleaded, begged and came to church meetings, and we eventually said yes!”) They’re certainly keen to be playing new material live, having been, “Playing
‘Dry the Rain’ for the last four or five years!” The Beta Band have always provided an interestingly experimental visual spectacle, with multi media enhanced live shows; now their recent gigs have been described as raves. Is the acid house vibe something they’re interested in capturing live? “I suppose the only thing we really want to capture is a good time had by all. Not just people standing around and watching.” In the great playground of rock, where the nu metlars sniff tipex by the gate and the NAM kids cling to the dinner lady’s arm, the Beta Band are the eclectic outcasts refusing to play along. Which is their greatest asset. But this time around they’re promising live shows where you have ‘a good time’ and an album that isn’t crap. We l l really, what more could you want than that?
Dancing in the Sunlight John Donaghy looks forward to the Summer in Dance and investigates the tunes that will have claimed ‘anthem’ status by September... IT IS usually about this time of year that both DJ’s and journalists alike start to make their predictions as to what dance tracks will go on to receive anthem like status over the summer period. Such tracks are ultimately broken at the various summer dance festivals such as the Love parade, Gatecrasher’s ‘Summer Soundsystem’, and Creamfields to name but a few. Go into any record store at the moment, and it comes as no surprise to see that the ‘new release’ album section has been attacked by a barrage of badly produced summer mix compilations. A large quantity of these invariably regurgitate the same obvious tried and tested records. Last year it was the funkiness of tracks such as Spiller’s ‘Groovejet’, Modjo’s ‘Lady’, the squelchy trance of Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ and Kernkraft 400’s
‘Zombie Nation’ that went on to steal the show. So what about this year?. Well, Vision has gone all out to predict some of the dance tracks that will do the business throughout the summer:
EDDIE GRANT Electric Avenue In a similar vein to the Bob Marley dance remix of ‘Sun is Shining’, this is a massive funky house reworking of reggae
star Eddie Grant’s ‘Electric Avenue’. Likely to be very popular in the Balearic. CHEMICAL BROTHERS Africa Another release from the Chemicals
Eddy Grant: This Year’s Bob Marley?
Sasha: Emerson out of shot
The Chemical Brothers: Out of ‘Africa’
who can do no wrong. The latest in their electronic battle weapon series. A massive tribal bongo fest that is likely to be massive on some of the more sophisticated dance floors. MEMBERS OF MAYDAY 10 In 1 Heralded as this years ‘Zombie Nation’, this bleepy trancer is likely to be a firm festival favourite throughout the summer. KOSHEEN Hide U Already a massive progressive tune. Kosheen’s latest offering sits somewhere between Chocolate Puma ‘I wanna b u’, and Rui Da Silva’s ‘Touch me’. Likely to be popular with the likes of DJ’s such as Sasha, Seb Fontaine, Steve Lawler... SASHA & EMERSON Scorchio(Sander Kleinenberg remix) Sasha and ex-Underworld star Darren Emerson produced one of the anthems of last summer with ‘Sccorchio’, and this remix could well do the same this year.
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
Can I Get A Witness? Back with a brilliant new album, Witness look set to make a big impact on 2001. James Kelly speaks to their singer, Gerard Starkie AH, CONTENTMENT. It’s great isn’t it? Knowing that you’ve done your best and its worked – you’ve produced something of which to be proud. And even better, everyone agrees and is praising you. You know you’re on to something. No, I haven’t got a clue what I’m on about either but Gerard Starkie, lead singer of Witness does. With the band’s second album due for release in mid-July, he knows that he’s already got what has been labelled a contender for album of the year in his back pocket. “It’s nice that it looks like it’s gonna’ be appreciated. But the reviews of the first album were all really good as well so I don’t know what it would be like to get a real pasting yet,” comments Gerard, seemingly so content that he’s willing to stare fate in the face and goad it. “I just want the record to come out – we finished recording it in the beginning of December.” This is the only sign of stress that Gerard shows and it’s understandable. The hype for this album is spot-on; it really is fantastic and deserves the full marks it’s been receiving across the board. Put it this way; if I had an album this good in my arsenal, I’d be more desperate for a nuclear war than George Bush. But things weren’t always this picture of happiness for Gerard and the boys, oh no. Just listen to the debut album, which makes Leonard Cohen the musical equivalent of Dale Winton or Carol Smilie. Gerard, was it a conscious change to write a ‘happier’ album? “Totally, yeah” states the no longer demonised lead singer. “I mean, we hardly played live for the first album because we got signed off such an early demo that we didn’t even have a drummer. We didn’t have a name and we didn’t really have an identity; we just had a bunch of songs. So the first album was
kind of learning how to be a band. By the time we started work on the second, we’d spent a year touring and what have you and we felt a lot more comfortable with what we were.” However, at such an early stage in their career, Witness were under a lot of pressure having been announced as the new Verve just because they were from Wigan and knew a couple of said band. “Yeah, it was unfair that we were seen as riding on The Verve’s coat-tails,” agrees Gerard. “It was just boring when you kept reading that time and again. We’re a thousand miles from The Verve and we always have been. So as soon as you start reading
comparisons you just tend to yawn.” Gerard’s right; Witness certainly don’t sound like The Verve and are closer to REM and the American alternative if you insist on looking for a reference point. “There are huge country tinges on the LP,” says Gerard. “Songs like ‘Mines’ and ‘My Time Alone’ reek of country! It wasn’t conscious. I think we made an effort with this album not to run away from what we were but to just look at the songs, see what they were and just go with it. It’s nice not to fit in with trends though. I don’t have any real desire to be an absolutely huge band. My main concern is making records that we’re really proud of
and the fact that we don’t fit in has gotta’ be a plus.” In fact, so content is Gerard that he doesn’t want to attack any band. “I try not to have bad feelings about other bands. I don’t listen to the radio very much; it’s all full of crap bands. If I don’t like a song, I switch it off. And if someone doesn’t like one of my songs, then I suggest they switch it off. There’s no point in killing them for it!” See, nothing can rile this man. It’s the first time for me that the interviewee hasn’t sworn once. He has no need. He knows he’s done something special. Buy Under A Sun, sit back and listen, then you’ll know the contentment as well.
‘Lake distinct With ‘Lido’ acclaimed as one of the albums of the year, psychedelic popsters Clearlake are on the up. Simon Keal met them at Fibbers
IN CYNICAL, post-modern 2001, ‘concepts’ are surprisingly fashionable. Where once writing an album about your girlfriend or man’s relationship with technology would be considered laughable, now the music scene is faced with legions of mediocre bands trying to write their very own Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space or OK Computer. No bad thing, of course, but a hearty round of applause to Clearlake whose concept – an album based in a fictitious place of the band’s name – is at least original. Oh, and the music’s good, too. “I don’t want to talk about Clearlake the place. If it’s mentioned again I’ll contact my lawyers,” singer Jason Pegg says. “But
I think it’s true that there’s a certain atmosphere to the album, that’s where the placename fits in,” keyboardist Sam adds convincingly. Just as their music is of its place but slightly detached, so the band themselves seem disorientated by their situation, responding to my questions by free-associating and often changing the subject completely. They open with a scatological anecdote. “After the Middlesborough gig, we noticed that there wasn’t any toilet paper in the toilet,” says bass player Woody. “But the guy from Alfie, who went in there before, obviously decided to use the Clearlake dressing room sticker because there was just a Clearlake sign
floating in the bowl. And some Alfie shit. I was quite surprised ‘cos I thought Alfie shat diamonds.” This in reponse to a question about the sound of their album... On their emergence last year, Clearlake were briefly lumped in with the NME-created (and largely non-existent) ‘nu-psychedelic movement’. This label proved transient but lasted long enough to bewilder the band. Woody suggests, “The reason was that someone decided ‘Winterlight’ sounded like Syd Barrett, and it snowballed from there. I don’t think anyone actually reads or listens to… anything we’ve actually done,” he jokingly concludes. In their most recent gushing feature,
Clearlake: (l-r) Butch, Sam, Woody, Jason
the NME commented that Clearlake’s Lido debut could be faulted in only two ways; firstly, it’s too short, and secondly, it’s too English. Clearlake seem bewildered by both descriptions. “If it’s too short, well that’s lovely,” says Jason. “But if it’s too English… I mean, are the people who write for the NME not English? How does that work? “I just want us to be a brilliant band. We’d rather try and destroy that ‘quintessentially English’ thing, and make music that is all things,” Jason concludes. “Anyway, with really ‘English’ lyricists like Morrissey, a lot of the things he’s talking about are universal,” says Sam. “It’s a lot to do with the things that go on in people’s lives, or what goes on in the background at least, like Songs of Praise.” Clearlake’s latest tour was going to be with Welsh whiners Terris, who pulled out late on. Jason has a unique explanation. “Maybe when they said we were on tour with Terris, they meant, like, a terrace,” he suggests. “All the venues have had a kind of terrace in them. It’s a terrace tour.” The future for Clearlake is, unsurprisingly, being shaped by what they’re currently experiencing. Jason says, “It’s only one album. There are lots of things we want to react against, now. It’ll be interesting to see whether people are completely shocked by it. We’ll certainly be viewed differently with the next record.” In case you think the above suggests that Clearlake are too interested in their own music to be entertainingly bitchy, Jason has some final words of wisdom concerning Robbie Williams. “I think I’d be doing him a favour if I tortured him,” he says. “He’s going to die young, in some horrible, weird, self-mutilating way anyway, so I might as well.” So, Clearlake: it’s not too English a place, but Terris, the NME and Robbie Williams might not be too welcome. What other reason do you need to make yourself feel at home?
MUSIC : 25
Gig Guide Isobel Todd
WELL HASN’T it been a marvellous year for York gig goers. Fun Lovin’ Criminals deigned to play the Barbican, Indeo deigned to play Fibbers, and- since we absolutely refuse to mention Chesney Hawkes- that just about wraps it up. The only interesting bands pulled out at the last minute: Half Man Half Biscuit simply failed to emerge, Conway Savage mumbled some pathetic excuse about his mother dying and sneaked off back to Australia, and King Adora worried that the fumes from the chocolate factories would spoil their already rancid complexions. Did they ever make it to Fibbers? Does anyone care? I’m afraid things still aren’t looking too promising. Unless anyone fancies a spot of Cookin with Adrian at The First Hussar on 28th? Or bog standard emotional US rock (run away, run away) with Four Star Mary at Fibbers on 30th? No, as usual we shall be going elsewhere for our muzakal kix. Pack a thermos flask of weak lemon tea and get yourself to Scarborough on 26th June, to see Belle and Sebastian play the Futurist Theatre. Ok, so their last two albums were fairly shit, but deep down they’re thoroughly nice people who have been known to write some pretty ditties about lovely horses. Twee is the word, tweed is the fabric of choice, and if they threaten to play their new single you could always sod off and go for a paddle. Or alternatively pop over to Leeds City Varieties for Kings Of Convenience, where you can spend a pleasant evening in the bar, tapping your feet and saying ‘why, this lot sound a bit like Simon and Garfunkel,’ whilst you wait for the Headline band to come on. Oh no, actually they are the headliners. Don’t expect a picnic on 25th when Sparklehorse will be airing tracks from their claustrophobic third album, entitled ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ (in a more Eels than Boo Radleys sense.) Do you know what’s under frontman Mark Linkous’ wooly hat? A chemically imbalanced brain, self-inflicted scarring and a big bag of drugs. Listen and learn, kids: drugs mess you up, and thus enable you to write bloody good songs. The subdued beauty of their new material guarantees a moving night. But unless they can persuade album guests PJ Harvey and Nina Pearson to provide live backing vocals, the uninterrupted gravelly US melancholia could be a tad grueling. Not one for the abstainers, or the recently deserted. They’d be better off with Jason Downs, who’ll be at Leeds Cockpit on 28th. Jason comes from a family of teachers and farmers, everybody, and looks like a member of Hanson - long haired and baby faced, with a nasty sheep skin jacket. Thankfully, though, he doesn’t sound like one: prepare yourself for a genre defying mix of rural guitars and urban beats. Or just stay at home and listen to Beck. Gorrilaz, possibly the least exciting innovation since…oh, sod it, since sliced bread, play Manchester Academy on June 29th. A once in a lifetime opportunity to watch cartoon men zip around a stage playing little cartoon guitars and confronting giant cartoon moose? Sadly no. Just another chance to see Damon Albarn become a snearing caricature of himself. Suspend cynicism and be very excited, however, when The Strokes play Leeds Cockpit on June 24th. You might be forgiven for finding them a tad arrogant- they have, after all, described their debut album Is This It? as a greatest hits compilation. But perhaps they deserve to be. Clipped melodies, violent guitars, urbane swagger, and uniform leather jackets… this is a band so perfect that they appear to have been cloned in NME laboratories from (in case you’ve managed to escape the references) The Velvets and The Ramones. No chance of premature ejaculation during the support, though: Mull Historical Society truly are the worst support band ever.
26 : MUSIC yorkVision
June 20th 2001
Justified and Ancient Ten years after the KLF were the biggest selling singles band in the world it seems high time to address some of the burning questions about their career. Paul Cosby investigates THE KLF, an acronym for Kopyright Liberation Front, began the early nineties as the best selling British act in the world, riding the post-acid house boom in club music, and it seemed that they could do no wrong. The group – essentially consisting of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - have operated under a series of guises including the Time Lords, the Justified Ancients of Mu-Mu and the Forever Ancients Liberation Loophole. At the peak of their popularity the group were adored by ravers, pop kids and indie fans alike. However following their announcement that they were to leave the music business in 1992 the careers of Drummond and Cauty have been considerably less successful and overshadowed by publicity stunts. Their first project was undertaken under the title of The JAMMS (Justified Ancients of Mu Mu) and resulted in their provocatively titled debut album 1987 - What the Fuck is Going On? The pair made liberal use of newly accessible sampling technology to “borrow” parts of othersongs and turn them into something new. This is now routine – just ask The Avalanches or Groove Armada – but at the time the samples proved incredibly controversial and led to a lawsuit with Abba concerning their unauthorised use of a section of ‘Dancing Queen’. The following year the pair adopted a more populist approach which entailed changing their name to the Timelords and releasing a cheesy dance take on the Doctor Who theme entitled ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis’. The song duly went on to
top the UK singles chart and inspired the duo to write a follow up book entitled The Manual: How to have a Number One the Easy Way. Published in 1988, The Manual pertains to be an empirical guide to having a number one single, follow it to the letter a n d you will succeed, apparently. After The Manual Drummond and Cauty began an unbelievable run of suc-
released a collaboration with country leg-
Picotto has a ‘crashing time Simon McEvoy Mauro Picotto Gatecrasher 12th May
IT’S ABOUT 4 o’clock in the morning, my spine is aching having danced for the last 5 hours, and a voice booms out over Gatecrasher’s immense sound system: “You are travelling to another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and of sound but of mind, a wondrous journey to a land whose boundaries are that of the imagination, your next stop?.........THE TWILIGHT ZONE.” The vocal is immediately followed by a pulsing synth riff that whirls the entire dance floor into a frenzy of feet and hands, despite my fatigue I rush into the crowd and join the masses and realise that now I understand what makes a great DJ. For those of you who have never seen it, this is the effect ‘Taub’ has on Gatecrasher when Mauro Picotto has been playing for the last four hours. He opened with some classic Picotto hard trance, and proceeded then to take us on a journey through techno, progressive house, hard house, trance and just about any other dance music genre you care to mention. I have never heard anyone create quite so much noise, and whether it was the eerie guitar riff of his ‘New Year’s Day’ remix, the rumbling bass lines of Adam Beyer, Remainings III or his own Verdi, or the Picotto remix of the uplifting ‘4 Strings, Daytime’ it filled the floor and gave everyone an experience to remember. His set was a perfect mix of the well known and the brand new. He balanced the trance and techno perfectly, creating his own unique sound which has influenced so many. Having seen many of the nu-breed of progressive DJs play at Gatecrasher recently, it was really nice to see someone who played brash, obvious music and did it well, someone should tell Kleinenberg
cess beginning with a trilogy of StadiumRave classics. The first of which was ‘What Time is Love?’ (UK top 5 in autumn 1990), followed by ‘3AM Eternal’ (UK number one and US top five) and ‘Last Train to Transcentral’ (UK number Two). The attendant album The White Room went onto become an international best seller. With t h e world seemingly at their f e e t t h e band
or Hardwick it doesn’t have to be dull to be cool. Every time we felt like it couldn’t get any louder or heavier, he brought it up another notch, the Gatecrasher crowd responding brilliantly. Six hours seemed to fly past, and as the night wore on the atmosphere became more and more intense. In that climate Picotto’s music brought us on a journey, the more minutes that passed the more consumed we felt by the bass lines and melodies. I stood and watched in amazement as people broke
Every time we felt like it couldn’t get any louder or heavier, he brought it up another notch, the Gatecrasher crowd responding brilliantly down on the dance floor in terror at the climax of the Horrorist – ‘A Night in NYC’, a techno track about a 15 year old girl who goes to New York City and takes ecstasy for the first time. I don’t think I have seen or ever will see those kinds of reactions to a DJ again. By the end of the night our bodies and minds were well and truly shattered, our eardrums bursting. It had been an amazing night, and walking out we took with us only the memories of the evening, and that unmistakable smell that only Gatecrasher leaves on you. In short, anyone who has any affection for dance music should try and get to Gatecrasher, and particularly to one of
end Tammy Wynette which again sold millions worldwide but marked a starting point in their rejection of the music business. Their performance at the 1992 Brit Awards was deliberately implosive. Backed by the speed punk band Extreme Noise Terror the group performed a thrash metal version of ‘3AM Eternal’, dumped a dead sheep in the foyer of the post- ceremony party and proceeded to announce the end of the KLF. T h e y t h e n mutated i n t o Art-
Pranksters the “K-Foundation” and opened operations by offering a £40,000 counter-prize to the 1993 Turner award for the worst artist. Rachel Whitbred was voted both best and worst artist, and although she initially refused to accept the £40,000 K-Foundation prize but reluctantly accepted when Drummond and Cauty threatened to burn the money. This threat provided the catalyst for the KLF’s most controversial stunt carried out in October 1994 – burning £1 million, almost all of the money they had made from the KLF, on the Scottish Isle of Jura. Since this time, Drummond and Cauty have made several returns including their out standing contribution to the “Warchild” album called ‘The Magnificent’. The last live performance by the KLF came in 1997 with a shambolic performance under the name 2K. The band performed a 23-minute version of ‘What Time is Love’ with the duo on electric wheel chairs. Although incredibly popular, influential and innovative in their time, the KLF’s songs can now only really be enjoyed as period pieces. However their influence can still be seen in the likes of the Avalanches and Orbital, who recently recorded a new version of the Dr Who theme. Their shock tactics will always prevent any sensible assessment of the group but these acts remain important. Although burning their entire earnings from the group was acrass statement we should remember that popstars have always wasted our money. Was it really any worse than Fred Durst being sold to kids under the banner of teen rebellion when he himself is on the board of directors of his record label and is in his thirties?
‘Food are Fighting Fit
James Kelly When Do We Start Fighting? Seafood (Out 16 July)
SO, THE mighty ‘Food return to look over their kingdom and what do they see but nu-metal and new acoustic uprisings. Archduke Alfie and Baron Starsailor sit one side, Lance Bombardier Limp Bizkit the other. These boys want to take Pavement’s best bits, mix them in with their own ideas, then make loads of noise. And you want to know what; such artillery has bombarded the competition into submission. New single ‘Cloaking’ sets the tone. A huge bass line thunders into view just to be replaced by crashing chords straight out of At The Drive-In’s songbook. However, this is done by a British band holed up in some dive of a venue who
scream their souls out for the chorus. The rest of the album isn’t quite so vitriolic but remains a lot darker than its predecessor. Stephen Malkmus appears to have inhabited the soul of singer David Line on tracks like ‘Similar Assassins’. Imagine the songs Pavement would have written if they had remained young, rebellious and tuneful. On ‘In This Light Will You Fight Me?’ the gauntlet is laid down;
Seafood are ready to take on all comers, as they take a tune reminiscent of Low, but crank up the danger and volume. Battle report; Seafood command a corner of Music-dom. They’re not going to challenge the higher echelons of the chart but they are rebelling. Seafood have unfurled their colours. Now it’s time to see if you’ve got enough guts to join the fight on their side.
Not Field-good James Melley Field Songs Mark Lanegan (Out Now)
CRITICS LOVE sad, slow songs. Alt. Country has been the critics’ favourite since the Scud Mountain Boys, and the Palace Brothers first took the most popular genre of music in America and remoulded it for a new generation. Before this, there was a band called the Screaming Trees. From Seattle, and fronted by the gravelly throated Mark Lanegan they produced a heavy blend of blues and country drenched psychedelic rock. During his days with the Screaming Trees Lanegan made a number of solo excursions. These records were an intimate exploration of the mind of a miserable man. This is Mark Lanegan’s fifth solo
album, and if you have heard any of those that came before you will know exactly what to expect. A minimal blend of acoustic guitar, hushed drumming and eerie organ. And that voice, throaty and warm. Tracks like ‘Don’t Forget Me’ hark back to the bombast that typified the Screaming Trees, only with almost all hope extinguished. On ‘She Done Too Much’ we find Lanegan resigning himself to the notion that there’s “Not a thing in this world to do except be alone in it.” He needs our love. Solace is sought in the bottle and maybe in more illicit substances (see ‘Pill Hill’). In Lanegan we have as believable witness of life on the edge as any out there. With resigned fatalism and unflinching dignity, Lanegan has produced a solemn collection of sun drenched and dust swept vignettes to soundtrack lonely, hot summer’s nights. Give him some of your love.
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Feeling Space-d out Sam Stagg Curvatia Spacek (Out Now)
CURVATIA IS the debut album from South London ‘future soul’ trio Spacek. Since the release of single ‘Eve’ last year they have gradually built up a loyal following and have received interest from such diverse quarters as forward-thinking DJ Gilles Peterson and independent hiphop legend Mos Def, who has signed them to his US label Good Tree. A startlingly original blend of soulful vocals with languid two-step beats, Curvatia is the sound of spacemen getting emotional. Opener ‘Inside’ is a good example. Developing from a simple bass note, a complex rhythm shuffles in as ethereal, almost robotic vocals hang in the air. Single ‘Eve’ has a bubbling bass undercurrent, drenched in strings and clever samples, but never to the point of excess. The tempo picks up with ‘Sexy Curvatia’, adding a dub-esque echoed string sample to the crisp drumming. ‘How do I Move?’ is more of the same , and incredibly, it gets even smoother with ‘Language’ and the tabla-driven ‘When the Band Begins to Play’. Laid-back doesn’t really begin to describe ‘How’ and ‘Act For You’, though closing track ‘I Have A Daughter That Sings’ chops up a flamenco guitar to great effect, happily preventing catalepsy. And, wait for the secret track to find out the future. If there is an overriding problem with ‘Curvatia’, it’s self-similarity. Definitely not UK garage, not really soul, it ends up lacking a defined reference point to anything else, though it’s probably nearest to the ‘broken beats’ sound of artists like Dego. However, with singer Steve Spacek’s distinctive (and surely electronically treated) voice, who Spacek really end up sounding like is, er, Spacek. On every single song. Whether that’s a problem is up to you, soul boy.
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
Opening Hours Mon-Sat 10am - 5.30pm Sun 10am - 4pm
75 Goodramgate York City Centre Tel: 01904 655777
Festival of Fun
Rachel Stacey The Invisible Band Travis (Out Now)
SHAMELESSLY I like Travis. There’s something safe and familiar about them like your favourite old pair of shoes you insist on wearing because you know there’ll be no surprises. And here each song has the familiar Travis twang. In fact, if it’s possible, Travis have become more lo-fi. The music softens and soothes and manages to transport you to plains of inescapable mellowness. ‘Safe’ creeps inside your conscious and contents you with its one-word chorus, filling your bones with Fran Healy karma that seeps from his voice. But it’s ‘Last Train’ that does it for me. The song begins with a lo-fi build up that mimics the beat of an approaching train and is then layered with urethral bells that continue to chime and sparkle . The beat is sophisticated yet understated, and the click of an occasional wooden block gives the song an unmistakable coffee-house quality.
‘Side’ has a growing power as the
cynical Fran sings of grass “Always greener on the other side” and the contradiction of living that ensures “When time is running out you wana stay alive”. However, you are charmed again as Healy breathes a seductive softness surging into the song that melts you as: “When I first held you I was cold” does what only Travis can do. ‘The Cage’ contributes to the fragile beauty of the songs on the album that rely upon their uncompromising simplicity. Some of the lyrics may be cringingly cliched, but there is a growing sadness and sense of want in the vocals and lyrics. They seem a life-time away from the young band in Good Feeling. You cannot help but like this, even if it leaves you with a frustrated sense of longing. Perhaps the band are becoming disillusioned with mainstream success the sleeve photos portray them as separate individuals. Perhaps the title suggests a band who have lost their identity. It appears the copper-glow of Travis fame is beginning to tarnish for the band at least. I wonder if Travis are really ready for a change, something that will make them face the cameras again with the unity that once glowed from them. As Healy says in his thank-yous: “These songs belong to you now.” Travis have
MUSIC : 27
with Chesney Hawkes’ finest support band...
The Fay Buzzards who are: Jamie, Nic, Chris and Tom In a smokey den of vice where the haze of drugs hangs heavy in the air and the love slaves are as seductive as they are permissive. Here, fully enthused by the bohemian atmosphere recline the Fay Buzzards – rested after their support slot on Chesney Hawkes’ world tour, and ready to dissect what the music world has presented this week. Joseph Arthur In the Sun Best discussed before the feel-good reverie fades, as nice bongos don’t disguise banal lyrics and the use of a single chord sequence throughout the entire, fetid song. Tom likes it though. Neil Finn Last to Know A discrete folksy romp, claims Chris, although possibly actually referring to the love slaves. Better lyrics, unquestionably, but still shoddy and turgid according to Nic. Tom hums along merrily. A pattern emerges, perhaps. Naimee Coleman My Star Naimee, it transpires, released a house version of Duran Duran’s Ordinary World a short while back. The fact that this bubbly, inoffensive ditty is surely destined for the next series of Dawson’s Creek sends Tom into ecstacy, as well as confirming that she does what she’s told by her P.R. guys. Good girl. Ash Sometimes I wish that Ash would do what I tell them and emigrate – a lilting, summery verse gives way to a now trademark turgid chorus. Exit stage left please, even the irrepressible Tom called it predictable and dirgey. So there. Faithless We Come 1 ‘No new tunes. Suffering from previous excesses’ is Chris’ more sympathetic appraisal. Same as that other one, but not as good. Goldfrapp Utopia We like this one. Sounds like a James Bond tune, although the laid back groove is a bit over-produced. Indeo Identity EP On general release across Campus, this EP is more vibrant, upbeat and enthusiastic than all of the above. Beautiful strings and cheeky marimba form an integral part of a nicely arranged record, with the sound displaying a multiplicity of wellexecuted playing styles while managing to maintain a sense of continuity and progress throughout the four tracks. Catchy and uplifting.
28 : FILMS yorkVision
June 20th 2001
Miracle cure found for post-relationship blues! (well, almost) Natalie Brabin Get Over It Director
Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Sisqo Running Time 87 mins SO, WHAT’S THE story? I believe the merits of this film are two-fold. Well, with the first fold I shall take you on a trip down memory lane. Cast your minds back to your secondary school teen-years. Some pretty bad memories huh? (no doubt involving some guy/girl or another). Once you get to University you forget just how hard it was being a teenager - all those raging hormones and boy/girl troubles - teen years were a highly traumatic experience! More often than not you spent most of your lessons defacing your exercise books with mindless phrases concerning your best friend’s love-life like ‘Julie loves Paul IDT’ (‘If Destroyed True’ for those of you out there unfamiliar with such acronyms). And, of course, the favour was always returned on the aforementioned friend’s book cover ‘Nat 4 Ben’ and suchlike. Hours were spent working out your compatibility with the object of your everchanging affections; accompanied with pages and pages of practice signatures featuring his/her surname. However, it was the day you dreaded for like, eternity; the day you walked into your form room to be faced with the lifeshattering news that he had found another. Your little, insignificant life fell apart - dreams were shattered, and there was, of course, the mandatory en-mass trip to the girl’s loos where your girlfriends frantically tried to pick up the pieces - unsuc-
‘Get Over It’ never pretends to be anything it’s not, although at times it is a little tedious with O’Haver struggling to find an original voice in this saturated genre
cessfully trying to reassure you that ‘you were too good for him anyway’. Lest we forget these forget these tragic secondary-school snippets - cue film: namely, Get Over It. Its films like this that bring back those somewhat cringeworthy secondary school moments in a torrent of floods. Get Over It is your classic, predictable teen rom-com; and, as with all these lowbudget Hollywood churn-outs (unlike real life) things always turn out in the Walt Disney-esque fairytale - everyone lives happily ever after. Ahhh. So children, are you all sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. Once upon a time there was a young boy named Berke, his life was perfect until one fateful day his childhood sweetheart Alison (Sagemiller) unceremoniously dumps him. A heartbroken Berke soon takes it upon himself to win back her affections when all his friends want him to do is get over it. In an effort to win back her heart he enlists the help of his best friend’s sister Kelly (Dunst) who helps him land a role opposite Alison in the school play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Little does he know that Kelly has a huge crush on him...... Totall, completely and utterly oh-sopredictable, this film is, at times a little tedious with O’Haver struggling to find an original voice in this saturated genre. The Shakespeare-on-campus has been done before - and to a greater effect; but you have to bear in mind that Get Over It never pretends to be anything it’s not. It is an hour- and-a-half of sheer eyecandy - the epitome of a cheesy teen flick. A sudo-cameo appearance from Sisqo conveniently co-incides with the release of his new song, allowing him to plug, plug, plug, as well as busting some funky moves along the way. Nice. For me, the highlight of the film had to be the scenes featuring Berke’s sexually liberated parents, who, in one shot (after picking Berke up from a police raid at a strip club) ask him if he wants to go and
The winner takes it all Simon Keal Series 7: The Contenders Cert 18 Director Daniel Minahan Starring Brooke Smith, Marylouise Burke, Glenn Fitzgerald AS PARODIES go, the 'Reality TV' phenomenon isn't exactly the hardest of targets. Manifested in this country by the ubiquitous Big Brother and the unwatched Survivor, along with their myriad clones, the genre is now sailing so close to selfparody in itself that it's a wonder that an intelligent filmmaker would even bother to take the time to send it up. Still, Series 7: The Contenders makes a better fist of it than might be imagined. Based upon the premise that the logical conclusion of the winner-takes-all concept of these programmes would be a literal fight to the death, the film is made up of three back-to-back episodes of the fictitious show of the title, detailing how six 'contestants' attempt to kill each other in order to escape with the programme's winning prize - their life. The film concentrates mainly on eight-months-pregnant 'reigning contender', Dawn Lagarto (Brooke Smith), and is played completely straight as a television show, intros, trailers and all. While this is undoubtedly a clever device, it also gives it rather an air of aloof smugness, accentuated by the very lo-fi feel. Its low budget presumably couldn't be helped, but was there a need for the unrealistic indie-rock dominated soundtrack, or the frequently shaky camerawork?
Refreshing as these devices make the film in some respects, they also emphasise its atmosphere of ironic detachment, surely inappropriate in a film intended as straight-laced satire. Superficial problems aside, however, it's one of the more accomplished satires of recent years, cannily avoiding any overt nudge-wink concessions to unreality or laboured slapstick that would doubtless scupper a higher-budget, heavy-handed approach. The diverse stereotypes that make up the contenders are hilariously reflective of the Big Brother-type set up, and the film's highlights are largely provided by nervous-turned-murderous granny Connie Trabucco (MaryLouise Burke) and the long-standing relationship between the
It’s low budget presumably couldn’t be helped, but was there any need for the unrealistic indie-rock soundtrack, or the frequently shaky camerawork? two central characters (and leading contenders), Dawn and Jeffrey (Glenn Fitzgerald). It's expertly written, judging nearperfectly the appropriate balance between mockery and genuine dramatic tension. The latter comes to the fore during the film's deliberately overplayed conclusion, at once exciting and highly amusing. It's always going to be difficult for ostensibly cheaply made films such as this to satirise such monolithic industries as 'Reality TV' without giving the impression of sneering, especially given the ironically self-aware culture which spawned them. Though Series 7's actual target sometimes seems hazy (what are they attacking? The programmes themselves, the audience, society, or something else?) and it occasionally slips into straight pastiche, it's undoubtedly sharp, funny and thrilling enough to count as a qualified success. Now, who's been voted out this week?
In one scene Berke’s sexually liberated parents ask him if he wants to go and get some frozen yoghurt or would he rather go home and ‘polish the rocket’. Unbelievable. And VERY funny
get some frozen yoghurt or would he rather go home and ‘polish the rocket’!! Amazing. And embarrassing. And VERY, VERY funny. This bring me on to the second fold in this origami-style review. Not only does it take you on a trip down memory lane, but it also provides a glimmer of hope for anyone who has ever been dumped or has experienced a bad case of unrequited love. It makes you believe that true love always prevails - and that one day life will imitate art and you will be happy all over again. You soon realise that there is life after break-up and reminds you that no matter how bad life seems now, it will get better - as your Mum always used to say ‘time heals’ - as does watching this film. Very witty and funny, this film arrives with it’s integrity surprisingly intact. Ok, so the plot is well-worn, but it does manage to inject a little fresh spirit into it to help you along the way. As always, Dunst manages to improve the film by simply making an appearance (remember Bring It On?) She is freshfaced and bursting with talent - think Mena Suarvi with a little more kick and a cuter smile. Although Ben Foster fails to make the most of his lead role, acting, at times like a constipated Ross from Friends - completely and utterly blind and dull. He fails to bring any originally to the part - he certainly didn’t make the role his own, instead preferring to let the big cheeses decide his fate. Sisqo is comparitively bad too. He should definitely stick to singing - his acting leaves lots to be desired. However, he is forgiven and makes up for it at the end of the film when he does what he does best and breaks into song complete with an accompanying cheesy Austin Powersesque video to roll the credits at the end with. Overall, Get Over It is a fantastically funny, lighthearted film that will allow you to escape end of term hassles for a good 90 minutes. What more could you ask for?
Bombed out? Chris Hammond Pearl Harbour Cert 12 Director Michael Bay Starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale THE DAY after the devastation of Pearl Harbour, President Roosevelt called the event: "a date that will live in infamy", the same could be said about this film. From the moment that Disney threw a $135 million budget at a Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay project, it was decided that Pearl Harbour would be remembered: but as a great blockbuster or a hideous (and expensive) mistake? The film is meant to be set against the backdrop of Japan's bombing of the titular military base but, inevitably, it's these events that dominate the majority of the story. At points the patriotic images are laughable, for example dead bodies floating in the water as a United States flag floats past; sunlight shining through the bullet holes, although surprisingly, the Japanese are depicted as an somewhat unwilling enemy. The film feels like it is trying to be another Saving Private Ryan and appears to want to have a status above its capabilities, whilst still fitting into its comfortable, moneymaking 12 certificate. It would be a pity to ignore the love triangle involving Affleck, Harnett and Beckinsale that is touchingly directed: here the larger-than-life characters and square jaws all round work well and the viewer finds themselves without obvious villains to view with disdain in the whole affair.
This film wants to have a status above it’s capabilities, whilst still fitting into it’s moneymaking 12 certificate Both Harnett and Affleck, Captain America in the flesh, lend their blundering charms to the complex relationship with Beckinsale, actually making it more enjoyable. The bond between the two boyhood friends is also real enough. There are many touching pieces such as the hope Cuba Gooding Junior draws from his captain's pride at his boxing achievements. Having criticised Bruckheimer for relying too heavily on special effects to win the audience over, Industrial Light and Magic have done themselves proud and the CGI planes are rarely distinguishable from reality. To tackle another criticism, the issue of historical inaccuracy which seems to dog blockbusters nowadays, the production team were keen to point out to reporters that they talked to ninety survivors of the attack who had verified many incidents that the historians had dismissed as being altered for dramatic effect. Although the film is over-played for the duration and demands you fall in love with the three leads, there is no reason that Pearl Harbour shouldn't play to its strengths as good summer blockbuster fayre, which it does successfully for the majority.
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
FILMS : 29
Overhyped, underwritten and over here
As the weather hots up, Gareth Walker wonders whether this summer’s movie hopefuls are going to stay cool or crash and burn... BLAME STEVEN Spielberg and his twenty-foot plastic shark. Back in the midseventies, instead of blowing his cash on a couple of big stars, Spielberg hit upon the idea of hiring a few half-decent actors nobody had heard of and throwing the money he saved into the special-effects kitty. The result was Jaws, and it went on to make millions. Via Star Wars and Indiana Jones - and pumped-up with ever more inflated publicity budgets and merchandise tie-ins the big dumb summer blockbuster has since swollen to become the mainstay of the multiplex. Be thankful then that this year there are
ing for our hard-earned cash. First to cross the Atlantic were The Mummy Returns and Pearl Harbour, both predictably dire triumphs of pyrotechnics over plot. The best that can be said is that, at least in the case of Pearl Harbour, the chances of a sequel (perhaps called Pearl Harbour II: Hiroshima, in which Ben Affleck reprises his role as a noble American pilot who this time fearlessly drops an A-bomb on a Japanese city and incinerates ninety percent of it's civilian population) are unlikely. No such luck with The Mummy series: 'The Rock' is
Tomb Raider looks set to break the trend, if only because having a woman at the centre of the action offers a welcome change from the usual wailing damsel-indistress stereotypes - all the more so when that woman happens to be Angelina Jolie. If Lara Croft has stepped from computer-pixels into the world of the living, Shrek reverses the process. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz provide the voices for Dreamworks' much-anticipated computer animated fable - a fairytale, but one with enough kinks and twists to keep the discerning audiences at Cannes interested. And there are even more computer-related antics in Swordfish, the film John Travolta will be hoping puts a stop to the current downward-trajectory of his career. If the film's digital-hacking premise seems less than electrifying, the presence of Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry (X-Men), Don Cheadle (Traffic) and Vinnie Jones (Wimbledon) suggests there may be more to this one than meets the eye.
Shrek didn’t find possession by Mike Myers all that groovy more popcorn-touting slabs of trashy
In the tradition of all Planet of the Ape films, a number of distinguished British thespians surrender their dignity and sweat away in chimp costumes
entertainment than ever before, each with a budget bigger than a middling-sized African state and all desperately compet-
Robotic acting guaranteed from Haley Joel and Jude “My God! David Duchovny’s over there - and he’s not talking about aliens!” already hard at work on a prequel focusing upon his character, the 'Scorpion King'. With luck though, there may be better to come this summer. Unlike comics, computer games have rarely transferred favourably to the big-screen: think (if you must) of the execrable Super Mario movie or the even worse Street Fighter. But
Rock Bottom Ste Curran Down To Earth
Director Chris & Paul Weitz Starring Chris Rock Regina King Running Time 87 mins COMEDY IS oral sex for the mind, and let's hypothesise that you're out there, looking for hookers. Maybe you could do better, but you couldn't care less, because you don't see the point. Skip a lecture, kill an afternoon, catch a movie. Pay to see Down to Earth, and leave feeling dirty, sullied, empty. Don't fight it; like some back-street prostitution fetish, you'll do it again, because you are apathy and apathy breeds this sort of film. Hey, relax. You've got to laugh, haven't you? Chris Rock - you might know him better as the Parking Valet from Beverly Hills Cop II - evidently thinks so. Down To Earth sees him as Lance Barton, a failing stand-up who, some divine evening, fails to get hit by a truck. He's mistakenly zapped up to heaven anyway, and thus the blue-suited angels are obliged to offer him another shot at life. They give him the body of a rich old white man. Lance Barton was a poor young black man. Poor. Rich. Black. White. Because these things are binary. Love Down to Earth, and love ones and zeroes, and love a single paper-thin joke spread over eighty-seven minutes of awkward racial steamrollering. Without questioning the Weitz brothers' facile motives, this is widescreen segregation. It drowns the already flailing screenplay: the
jokes might occasionally surpass the dizzying heights of a Police Academy movie, but they're all masked in such an obnoxious narrative that soon you'll be pining for the halcyon days of Mahoney, Hightower et al. Much of the damage comes from the cripplingly idiotic underlying love story. Wellington, his cavernous Caucasian zombie flesh inhabited by Barton's sassy hip soul, falls in love with a feisty fightthe-power thing called Sontee. Sontee learns to love Wellington, too, but the film makes damn sure we know it's not some crazy interracial love affair because Sontee sees something in Wellington's eyes, a black sparkle that betrays the miserly pensioner's ethnicity. Love can transcend death, but kids, don't even think of kissing outside your gene-pool without a damn good excuse. Not that it matters. Down to Earth is sold as 'From The Director of American Pie', and they assume, probably correctly, that that’ll be enough. Ignore the lazy, cancerous humour, and forget that it's feeding on your apathy, growing brighter with everyone who doesn't demand better. Humanity wants its humour lobes fellated and doesn't care if it costs it its dignity. Humanity deserves everything it gets. But hey, you've got to laugh, haven't you?
Elsewhere the number of remakes testify to Hollywood's dearth of original ideas. Later in the year we'll see a modernised version of James Caan's Rollerball, likely to ditch the original's dark social commentary (so 1970s) in favour of more bone-crunching, futuristic extreme-sports action. More intriguing will be Tim Burton's take on the classic Planet of the Apes series. This time Mark Wahlberg is
the astronaut stranded on a planet where the humans are enslaved by men; while in the tradition of all Planet of the Ape films, a number of distinguished British thespians surrender their dignity and sweat away in chimp costumes, among them Tim Roth and Helena Bonham-Carter. Elsewhere the inevitable clutch of sequels are threatened. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker team-up again for Rush Hour 2, dragging Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Zhang Ziyi along for the ride. Eddie Murphy returns in Dr Dolittle 2 and - eighties retro-alert - there's even
“Hey dinosaur! You’re casting a shadow on my best side!”
Crocodile Dundee III on the horizon. Meanwhile a whole range of food products can only dread the approach of American Pie 2; while, worst of all, Scary Movie 2 gleefully reneges on it's original “No Mercy. No Shame. No Sequel” slogan - perhaps they'll replace it with a more honest “No Jokes” pledge this time round. Potentially a good deal more amusing than this lot put together
The final scene in the homosexual remake of Grease. Maybe. Actually from Silverfish.
could be Evolution, which stars David Duchovny and Julianne Moore. From the director of Ghostbusters, it takes the ensemble laughs of that film but substitutes aliens for ghosts. Duchovny's appearances on the Larry Sanders Show have hinted at an as yet untapped comic talent; and with its tongue firmly in it's cheek Evolution may well, like Men in Black four years ago,
out-perform the other more ponderous summer offerings. Taking everything full-circle, Spielberg himself - still undisputed king of the summer blockbuster - steps up to the plate. Jurassic Park III features Sam Neil and William H. Macy, but as usual the real stars will be the dinosaurs. Those cheeky, cuddly raptors are back: joined this time round by a flying pteranodon and the nas-
Scary Movie 2 gleefully reneges on it’s original “No Mercy. No Shame. No Sequel” slogan - perhaps they'll replace it with a more honest “No Jokes” pledge this time round
ty-sounding spinosaurus - 44 feet long and perfectly capable of going toe-to-toe with the hardest T-Rex. However Spielberg only produced the film, handing directorial duties over to Jumanji’s Joe Johnston. Spielberg concentrated on his own summer project: A.I., which stars Jude Law and the child-star of The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment. Probably the year's most hush-hush film release, A.I. has been preceded by a deliberately mysterious advertising campaign. We do know that the concept was originally Stanley Kubrick's but was on his death passed on by his family to Spielberg, a close friend of the deceased director; and that the film, set in a future where global warming has melted the icecaps and flooded much of the world, centres upon the Pinocchio-esque quest of a child android (Osment) for his humanity. As such, there are obvious shades of Close Encounters and E.T.. Yet it all sounds quite sombre stuff: closer to Spielberg's 'serious' Oscar-winner personae displayed to best effect in Schindler's List, than his box-office-busting side. Does this mean that the man
From Dawn till Dusk: How movies can make your day worthwhile
Picture yourself as a student. No problem there. Imagine you’re extremely lazy. Okay so far, right? Now conceive of channelling your lazy student bulk into an organised, educational pastime where your duvet is still welcome, with Lisa Forrest’s guide to living vicariously through movies for the day.
Begin your free time sharing an all-day detention with the brat-pack, in The Breakfast Club. For similarly profound, yet non-taxing fun, try the hi-jinks of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The laughs are over, as you turn to a weepy. Choose Brief Encounter, for an alternative to the piquant passion of Richard and Judy.
Something weird to spice up lunchtime. Johnny Depp is definitely your man. There’s the straightforward insanity of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the dreamlike drifting of Arizona Dream, or Jim Jarmusch’s whacked-out Western, Dead Man. Probably more digestible are Tim Burton and his fairytale films. Go for cute with Edward Scissorhands, funny with Ed Wood, or - forsaking Johnny for a while - insane, with PeeWee’s Big Adventure.
Enjoy afternoon tea with a musical from Hollywood’s Golden Age. For sheer class it’s got to be High Society. If you really can’t hack constant crooning, try a costume drama - Pride and Prejudice for that classic restraint, or Dangerous Liaisons for a bit more bite.
Sprawl out for an epic. Doctor Zhivago offers massive love and loss and BenHur promises massive chariots. If you’re going for cheesy, watch these classics’ impoverished offspring - Titanic and Gladiator.
Dine over a thriller. Scorcese and Hitchcock are your best bets. I recommend Alfred Hitchcock’s first hit, The Lodger. This 1928 silent thriller showcases some extremely freaky facial expressions in place of dialogue. You could also gnaw over some serious issues with Tazi Driver or The Insider.
Time for something dumb. Speed and Face-Off are perfect trash action. For comedy, Jim Carrey’s a likely choice, but you could also sample classic Steve Martin in The Jerk.
Midnight Disconnect your ’phone
and cuddle up to a scary movie. As long as you’ve got company, dare to watch cult Japanese horror, Ring.
Now rub your eyes and get ready for some crazy dreams...
30 : ARTS yorkVision
June 20th 2001
Thu-Anh Mac sits back and deconstructs the latest adaptation of Moliere’s masterpiece
Opera buff Marie Bates finds York has more to offer than cheesy music at Toffs
THE DRAMA society has become decidedly noted in the University for its weighted preferences towards a clique of white middle-class would-be thesps. Thus it was most refreshing to see a more multicultural cast in this production directed by Caroline Newtehardie. Most ironic was the chosen subject -
- a playwright who despises the hypocrisy and the false flattery that surround him, yet is in love with the girl who embodies the very things he abhors. Jennifer is both the manipulator and the manipulated and it is this range of character that Janowski so successfully projects in her role.
An actress playing an actress is always interesting to observe and to watch Janowski is to observe her weaving through the many ‘roles’ demanded Jean Baptiste Moliere’s The Misanthrope: a play detailing one man’s abhorrence of the superficiality and hypocrisy evinced in his fellow man. Surely then a most apt theme for the theatrical world? Martin Crimp must have thought so when he updated Moliere’s witty social satire from seventeenth century France to modern day London. The court of Louis XIV has been replaced by a cast of movie stars, critics and agents - oh and the odd motorbike courier. The action takes place in one of the film stars’ penthouse apartment Jennifer (Holly Janowski) is a 20 year old up and coming actress, surrounded by gushing critics and journalists. In love with her is the misanthropic Alceste (Dave Lee Jones)
The object of Alceste’s infatuations she knowingly twirls him round her little finger and plays with him as she does with her numerous other suitors. Playing more of a Sloane-esque ‘It girl’ than the American film star that Crimp originally envisaged, Janowski delivered her lines in a haughty and arched voice, bordering upon an uncomfortable shrillness in the more precarious moments. Yet she convincingly goes from being bigeyed and innocent to a calculating and malicious gossip as the mood takes her. Whatever the situation, the impression remained that Janowski was firmly in control. An actress playing an actress is always interesting to observe and to watch Janowski is to observe her weaving through the many ‘roles’ demanded of her with dexterity. Dave Lee Jones was a blunt and badtempered Alceste, prone to sweeping his hair back whenever frustrated or angry (which was often). Alceste came across as an almost frantic, desperate figure as Lee Jones frequently rushed across the stage, wringing his hands over the dilemma of Jennifer. His frenzy and despair were well balanced however by the calm composure of his friend and confidante John (Aniel Biltoo). Biltoo played the role of confidante with an understated ease and poise. With his elegant and relaxed manner Biltoo only served to further offset his misanthropic friend, emphasising the divide between Alceste and the world which he so detests. Jennifer’s scheming suitors Julian (Charles Lugton) and Alexander (Simon McEvoy) were suitably fawning and underhand at the same time. McEvoy came to the Drama Barn with a refreshing (natural) Irish accent; a place which only too unfortunately considers Received Pronounciation as de riguer of the day.
Chloe Lewis made a memorable if somewhat brief appearance as the stunningly chic French maid Simone. Of the supporting cast Ng Choon Ping nearly stole the show as the flamboyant theatre critic Covington. His hilarious portrayal nearly brought the house down in what was to be one of the most unexpected inspired performances of the evening. With the airs of a camp Prima Donna, Choon Ping was never more convincing as he played the self-absorbed and conceited critic-turned-playwright. The intricacy of Crimp’s rhyming couplets was handled surprisingly well as the cast actively ignored the rhyme scheme. This succeeded in giving the words a more natural feel and under Newthardie’s direction the production retained much of the wit and comic timing of Moliere’s original Misanthrope. Despite the high comedy value there was not as much emphasis on the scheming and manipulation as there could have been. Kirstie Smallman as Marcia, was convincing as an indignant and resentful acting teacher, but failed short of being truly spiteful. Ellen, the devious journalist, was played by a more subtle and innocuous Rosie King. It was difficult to visualise or place King as a calculating underhanded hack and it was this that made the final scene of the play jar slightly. As the play drew on Moliere’s flawed idealist became reduced to a pitiful figure and it was difficult not to despise him.
With the airs of a camp Prima Donna, Choon Ping was never more convincing as he played the self-absorbed and conceited critic-turnedplaywright The ending may have left some of the audience in a state of ambivalence towards Alceste but Dave Lee Jones’ interpretation made it increasingly difficult not to be exasperated by him.
What’s on this summer... June 20 University Choir and Northern Sinfonia performs works by Mozart and Haydn 7.30pm at York Minster. Tickets on the door or from 432439. June 21, 22 & 24 University Drama Society perform The Fabulous Mr Hitchcock and Friends. 7:30 pm at Drama Barn. Tickets on the door or in Vanbrugh Stalls. June 22 New Music Group 1.15pm and 8pm at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York. With pre-concert talk at 7pm (entry free). June 23 & 24 University Drama Society perform The Taming of the Shrew in the Museum Gardens, York city centre. June 23 & 24 Cycle Touring Club Rally York racecourse. 30,000 cyclists converge on York for Britain’s largest annual get-together.
June 23 Yorkshire Bach Choir and the Fitzwilliam String Quartet perform masses and motets by Haydn and Mozart. 8pm at St Michael-le-Belfrey, Petergate. Tickets on the door or from Ticket World, Patrick Pool (644194). June 23 Academy of St Olave’s plays works by Delius and Mozart and Beethoven’s 4th Symphony 8pm at St Olave’s Marygate. Tickets from Ticket World, Patrick Pool (644194). June 24 Specialist Plant Fair Nunnington Hall from 11am-5pm. June 25 Wedding Finery 12.30pm-1.30pm at York Castle Museum. Guided tour of From Cradle To Grave exhibition, looking at bridal fashion through the ages.
June 26 & 27 University Drama Society perform Identify. 7:30 pm at Drama Barn. Tickets on the door or in Vanbrugh Stalls. June 27 University Orchestra performs works by Shostakovich, Ravel, David Blake. 8pm at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York. Tickets on the door or from 432439.
THREE WEEKS ago Madama Butterfly flew over to the York Opera House from Moldova. Puccini’s well known and much loved opera performed by the touring Chisinaua National Opera drew in the crowds. This love-story set in Japan follows the doomed marriage of a US Naval Lieutenant Pinkerton to a young Japanese girl. For him the marriage is trivial with no long term intentions. However, so strong is Madama Butterfly’s love, that she is willing to surrender all of her Japanese roots, traditions and religion for her husband. As her Uncle Bonze foresees, all would end in tragedy when Pinkerton returns to America. On his return, three years later, he brings with him his American wife, to claim Madama Butterfly’s son who he has fathered. A heart-broken Madame Butterfly, separated from her son, kills herself. The entire opera takes place in one setting. The production brought with it what its publicity described as a ‘no nonsense’ setting, arousing suspicion that this may be a rather unimaginative conception of Puccini’s tragic opera. However the set design of the Japanese fishing town of Nagasaki proved to be functional and tasteful, although the unnecessary water feature was at times distracting. The costumes, although slightly garish, were authentically cut, achieving its aim of obtaining a realistic feel. The cast, on the whole, was competent. A brilliant performance from Vladimir Dragos as the US Consul stood out, especially alongside the villain, the Bonze, who was played by Nicolae Covaliov in a panto-like manner, arousing a few chuckles. The lead male role of Alexi Srebnitsky as Lieutenant Pinkerton was disappointing. His weaker voice was often put to shame, especially alongside the better projected voice of Dragos in their duet. His feeble acting made him look awkward on stage, not fitting to the confident and flippant nature of Pinkerton’s character. On a shallower note, he was hardly the ‘vision of heaven’ which Madama Butterfly sings of and falls in love with. The role of Madama Butterfly on the other hand, was superbly cast. Rosa Lee Thomas was a flutter of fresh air alongside the stuffy Pinkerton. Her beautiful voice singing the famous aria, ‘Un bel di vedremo’, provoked applause among the Classic FM friendly members of the audience. Her acting and stage presence in the final scene left a tear in many eyes. Despite its cast not quite being the international standard promised, and its
extremely high prices (cheapest seats at £19.50) which would have put off all but the most privileged students, this was an enjoyable and effective production. This was a rare opportunity to see opera professionally performed in York, and went down well with a packed audience.
Around York July 6 - 15 York Early Music Festival. Various events around York. See website for more information www.yorkearlymusic.org.
September 6 - 8 Theatre Royal Youth perform The Chrysalids. 7:30pm at Theatre Royal. Tickets from 623568.
July 10 - 14 York Opera performs The Sorcerer. 7:30 pm at Theatre Royal. Tickets from 623568.
September 14 - November 17 Theatre Royal Company perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 7:30pm at Theatre Royal. Tickets from 623568.
July 20 & 21 Generating Company performs Storm. 6:30 pm at Theatre Royal. Tickets from 623568.
June 27 - July 21 West Yorkshire Playhouse performs Stepping Out. Evenings/matinees at West Yorkshire Playhouse. Tickets from 01132 137700.
July 28 - September 1 Theatre Royal Company perform The Three Musketeers. 7:30pm at Theatre Royal. Tickets from 623568.
June 30 & July 1 Medieval Monastic Entertainment with Heuristics. Games, folklore and more. From noon at Kirkham Priory.
September 5 - November 2 Theatre Royal Company perform Happy Jack in Theatre Royal Studio. Tickets from 623568.
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
ARTS : 31
Trainspotting for non-anoraks After hearing of the National Railway Museum’s European award, Frances Lecky heads to the station to see what all the fuss is about YORK ‘OUSES’ with culture and by virtue of this its industrial heritage is often neglected. However, as The National Railway Museum in York shows, the ‘Railway Age’ is by no means extinct. Offering a look at the story of the train throughout the ages, the museum itself is built in a warehouse style with huge, shiny stationary trains exhibited on the walls. These locomotives and rolling stock date from pre-Victorian to the present day, and offer an eclectic glimpse into the history of the train. You can see a sumptuous ‘Royal Saloon’ that dates from 1829, over 103 locomotives, t h e
exhibitions, offered us an opportunity to glean an insight into the politics of display. Faced by economic constraints and public and private expectations, the displays are not a simple matter of placing trains and track in a room. The museum has to cater for a wide market and an enormous range of interests. The museum has to balance out the needs of the family visitors, train fanatics and the casual observer. Therefore, it has to offer a variety of displays to keep everyone interested. Certainly, this is something that the museum manages to achieve and it has just gained international rec-
Class 5 No. 44755 near Pen - y - Ghent in the 1950s
world’s fastest steam locomotive, and even a lock of Robert Stephenson’s hair. If this isn’t enough, you can go onto a balcony overlooking the present day York Railway Station or view the new £4 million wing, ‘The Works’. This overlooks a magnificent workshop where you can watch engineers fixing train parts and allows you to experience the sights, sounds and smells of an authentic workshop and witness the traditional skills of railway restoration. This gives you a real impression of what it is like to work ‘behind the scenes’ in the railways and offered an interesting insight into the craftsmanship that the industry supports. Some of the trains, like the ‘Green Arrow’ (1936) are still in working order. The museum also offers live entertainment. When we went to the museum, you could watch a live re-creation of women’s role in the railways during the Second World War. Belinda Morris, who is the charge of all temporary and permanent
ognition for this, winning ‘The European Museum of The Year Award’ at an award ceremony in Pisa, Italy. Visiting the museum is a truly interactive experience: you can learn how to work the signals on the track for example, surf the net to explore the archives, or look at poster and publicity from train stations throughout the past 150 years. It isn’t difficult to see why this exciting and vibrant museum attracts over half a million visitors a year. I went to the museum with absolutely no interest in trains, and left with heightened respect for the industry: a sure sign that it is worthwhile a visit. For more information, contact the National Railway Museum, Leeman RD York. The phone number is 01904 621 261.
Is she all the wright stuff? Peter Edwards attends a reading in Wentworth College by award-winning Resident Playwright Zinnie Harris THE MELANCHOLY of Nightingale and Chase is characterised by Chase’s remark, “I don’t know what’s got into me lately, with all this crying”, and his confused depression is very much a part of Zinnie Harris’ tense play. Nightingale, and then his wife, Chase, each have a monologue of about twentyfive minutes, in which they narrate the story of Chase’s release from prison and how they cope with being re-united. Then follows a shorter monologue, spoken by Nightingale, in which we learn more about their son, Scott. In an interview with this newspaper, Harris said that “the trick is to find the form for the particular story you want to tell”, and she achieves this in Nightingale and Chase. However, it is not a complete success. From a zoology degree at Oxford, she has taken a roundabout route to critical success. Harris went on to take the University of Hull’s MA in directing, and showed her first play at Edinburgh in
1996. This play was performed as part of her term’s tenure as the English Department’s Writer in Residence. Read in Wentworth College’s performance space, Nightingale and Chase was performed well, despite the limitations of working with the script in front of them. Both actors used their range to express the anxieties of the play. The sense of disillusionment that pervades the piece is quite contrary to the pleasant demeanour of Harris. She described her meetings researching for Nightingale and Chase, when she interviewed inmates of the female Askham Grange prison. Their reflections on their crimes are shown upon Chase’s release from her sentence for fraud. Despite the fact that his mother also served a prison sentence, Nightingale does not know how to react to his wife. She complains that he lustily leaps upon her as soon as they are in the car, and he regrets that all he can think to say is, “Did they have a tele?”
This depressive frustration is con-
Harris said that “the trick is to find the form for the particular story you want to tell”, and she achieves this in Nightingale and Chase. However, it is not a complete success
veyed well, but is highly reminiscent of the characters in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. Although Harris said that Bennett had not influenced her, his spectre seems to hang over the whole play. This is unfortunate, because Bennett’s characters possess more depth than those of Harris. Chase says Nightingale “tried to brand me with part of the kitchen”, and she finds refuge in a women’s hostel. The initial pathos that someone died, so a space was found for Chase, is superseded by the realisation that the refuge is full of equally unhappy and scared wives. It is then exposed that the presents Chase has bought for their son are in fact stolen. Nightingale is left shouting impotently, “I’m Andrew Nightingale, she’s my wife”, and more ridiculously “She’s got a bruise, be careful”. This is an unsurprising end for the pathetic characters involved, and we struggle to feel any real sadness for either Although we feel sympathy for the unhappily married couple at times, the trite Americanisms, such as Nightingale’s
“Me and you and Scott are going to be OK, detract from any attempts Harris makes to find the audience’s empathy. Unlike Alan Bennett, the monologues took time to develop and were not immediately interesting. As Nightingale went on, our curiosity in the story grew, and it was certainly intriguing to compare his account to that of his wife’s. However, the sense of the protagonists’ disillusionment was clear, too clear in fact, because such complaints as Chase’s “I feel sick, I feel very sick” are too obvious an expression of the malaise that afflicts them. A more subtle hiding of the characters’ flaws would have enabled the actors to develop more rounded roles. Although interesting, and witty in parts, it is difficult to assess Harris’ motivation in writing this play. By the end, there has been little character development. Harris has succeeded in portraying characters that accurately represent real life, but she does not say a great deal about their position, or the society that has left them like so miserable.
32 : BOOKS yorkVision
June 20th 2001
Endless misery - but well worth it Dan Rhodes, master of the modern haiku, waxes lyrical to Gareth Davies about work, women, drink, and modern life...
I’LL ADMIT it - I am very cynical reader. So when I got hold of the press releases for Dan Rhodes’ new book Don’t Tell Me The Truth About Love, which describes him as “The bastard love child of macabre cartoonist Edward Gorey and surreal Scottish poet Ivor Cutler”, I could already imagine a thousand possible put-downs for this review. In actual fact, Dan Rhodes is a very talented writer - and his two books offered me the best read I have had in quite a while.. Anthropology, a collection of short stories, all one-hundred-and-one words long, for instance was unstoppable and I was compelled to read it all in one sitting. Don’t worry, I’m not going soft. There were a couple of moments, particularly in Don’t Tell Me The Truth About Love which I found a little over-sentimental, or predictable. Nevertheless, these faults are easy to forgive when you’re presented with what is a breath of fresh air into the stuffy attic of contemporary British fiction. I caught up with Dan Rhodes for a few quick questions. Dan, we'll start with an easy one What's your favourite drink? I have a few. Vodka and bitter lemon (double), Belgian beer and strong black tea are this week's top three. What did you do before you became a writer? I was working on a farm while I was writing Anthropology. I've done loads of jobs. I've started back in one of them - working in the stockroom of a bookshop, unpacking the works of writers far more popular than me. I have only ever done menial work- that way you can write in your head
while you're out making a living. The farm was perfect for that. Too many authors are not nearly committed enough to their
six weeks. Can't wait. Sorry to hear that. What literary movement can you most relate to? Do you
“The best fiction has always been written by overemotional geeks ...not by thrusting career monsters”
work. If writing fiction isn't the single most important thing in your life by miles then you shouldn't be writing fiction. It pisses me off when I hear about other authors having glamourous careers or successful relationships. Part-timers. So do you think writing is more important than other vocations? Writers of modern British fiction who think they are doing Important Work should be shot, the pompous gits. These days we are all sorry entertainers. Before I started making money out of it, writing was indescribably fantastic. Since I started getting paid to do it, it has become an increasingly joyless experience. But I'll be stopping writing books forever in about
see your work as a development of any particular philosophy? I don't see myself as part of any kind of movement at all. I'm not an intellectual, see. Literary theory bores me to tears and I am proud to say that I failed my English Lit A-level. I write with my bones and heart rather than my head, and I read the same way. If stuff doesn't move me emotionally I stop reading it, no matter how clever it is. I just abandoned the new Rushdie, Fury. It was turgid. He's a clever bloke, but not quite clever enough to realise that he should write good books instead of bad books. Who would you say were your greatest influences?
I feel affinity with pop song writers more than other contemporary authors. People like Stephin Merritt (Magnetic Fields, et al) and Daniel Johnston have been enormous influences. I try not to think about my favourite writers while I'm writing because I feel like a total minnow compared to John Fante or Flannery O'Connor or Gogol or Flaubert. I just finished A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. It's too late for it to become an influence, but it probably would have done had I read it years ago. It's a brilliant book. What do you do to pass the time on a train? On long journeys I drink. Drinking on the train is one of my favourite hobbies. It also stops people sitting next to you if you are surrounded by empty cans of Stella, which is good for elbow room. I also scowl at people with mobile phones. They have made train travel so much less enjoyable than it used to be, the tossers. Break-ups suck. Any advice for the broken hearted? Punch anybody who says "You'll find someone else." They just don't get it. I bet you know some sick jokes... Not many. Sorry. I have to admit, I was cringing at that bit in Don't Tell Me The Truth About Love, you know... the bit with the spoon... Is love really worth losing your eye for? Hell yes. What, if anything is wrong with modern fiction? Simple. Too many hobbyists. Publishers give established names pots of cash to write fiction. Being an established name is the worst qualification for writing decent fiction. These are confident people.
All’s fair in love and politics Death on the Congo
On Green Dolphin Street Sebastian Faulks £16.99 (Hutchinson)
The Book of the Heathen
If you fancy yourself as a budding writer who could easily compose a short story, then get writing. Vision, in conjunction with 4th Estate are offering the winner of the best 101 word story the chance to win copies of Dan Rhode’s Anthropology and Don’t Tell Me The Truth About Love. Two runners up will each get a copy of Anthropology. The stories can be on any topic but must be 101 words long. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or bring them to the Vision office at Grimston House. The closing date is Week 1 of the Autumn term 2001.
BLACKWELL’S Book of the month
Robert Edric Beverley Nutter
Ben Wiseman IN HIS career thus far Sebastian Faulks has managed that rare combination of achieving both critical acclaim and commercial success. His greatest success Birdsong received rave reviews, and he has written two more books based around the First and Second World Wars, The Girl at the Lion d'Or and Charlotte Gray. He was named author of the year in 1995 and it seemed that Faulks could do no wrong. After a three year hiatus comes Faulks's new novel and the literary world eagerly watches to see if he can come up with the goods once again. On Green Dolphin Street (the title refers to a Miles Davis song) is set in America in 1959. The Presidential race between Kennedy and Nixon is the backdrop for the unfolding of a love affair between a British diplomat’s wife and an American reporter. Faulks evokes the bars of New York as successfully as he has previously painted the French countryside, and his sense of historical perspective is once again excellent. Throughout the book the presence of the security services hangs like a cloud over all the characters’ heads, and we get a sense of individuals lives being irrevocably changed by great historical events over which they have no control (a recurring theme in Faulks’s literature). Faulks’s narrative skills are good but it is in his descriptions and communication of emotions that he stands apart. His ability to convey both hope and pain is so good that words that would seem pretentious in any other setting seem natural in his delivery. As well as his greatest strength this could be seen as his greatest weakness as well. If I had just one criticism of the book it would perhaps be that the emotions he describes are too intense,
Actors, comedians, columnists, etc. The best fiction has always been written by overemotional geeks, not by thrusting career monsters. The review editors and bookshops are happily letting themselves be suckered by them too. We real writers are being increasingly marginalised in terms of marketing budgets, review space and shelf space in favour of what? Alan Frigging Titchmarsh and Nigel Planer and Baddiel and Mrs Doyle and India Knight. Even the frigging robot from Red Dwarf's got a novel out. So what, if anything, is wrong with modern life? Everything except the Sugababes album, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Fry's Orange Creams. Daniel Rhodes' new book Don't Tell Me The Truth About Love is out now, as well as Anthropology a collection of incredible, and amazingly short, short stories. They'll make you cringe, laugh,
they are too powerful, to a degree that is rare in real life. He shies away from characters that are unsure about their feelings, and who go into relationships misguided or for the wrong reasons. Instead he prefers to concentrate on those who have overwhelmingly powerful emotions, love that they can't restrain and passions that run out of control. This is a shame as he is good enough to tackle these more complex relationships, and yet chooses not to. Finally it would be odd to review a Sebastian Faulks novel and not comment on the sex scenes, which are as enthusiastically described as ever. The reader does get the impression that Faulks is getting carried away, and perhaps he should leave more to the imagination and less to be read by the person sitting next to you on the train. No doubt he will address this problem in his next work, which it would be nice to see set in the UK for once. Until then he is sure to continue his blaze of success and move ever closer to the elusive title of Britain's greatest living novelist.
IF, WHEN you think of historical fiction, visions of bodice-ripping and men in tights spring to mind, your surprise upon reading The Book of the Heathen will be as pleasant as mine. Set in the Belgian Congo in 1897, it tells the story of Nicholas Frere, an Englishman charged with the murder of a native child. His loyal friend, James Frasier, attempts to discover the truth despite the accused’s refusal to relate the facts. However, the novel is more than just a murder investigation. The novel deals with an isolated community of Europeans who struggle against the realisation that their way of life is coming to an end. The inevitability of their bleak future is mirrored by Frere’s impending execution. Edric writes in a clear, deceptively dispassionate style, which somehow makes the horrors even more shocking. The book is littered with small, casual brutalities - the killing of an elephant particularly stands out. His descriptions of the hanging Frasier witnessed, and of the events in Frere's final confession, are more disturbing because of the lack of emotional language. Much is left unspoken. For the main part of the book, Edric skilfully sketches the background to the events; Frere's secret is alluded to, and hinted at, without ever becoming obvious. The events in the book proceed with a growing sense of helplessness and futility. The political machinations of the local chief Hammad and the commercial manipulations of the shadowy Company are beyond the influence of any of the settlers. The hidden currents of the story sweep the men along as inexorably as a river. In the closing pages, the sudden eruption of action seems consequentially
both incongruous and yet strangely fitting in its ultimate pointlessness. The characterisation is one of the strong points about this novel. Edric manages to make Frere's character not only credible but sympathetic; the invidious priest Klein inspires real dislike. The relationships between the men are also subtly observed. The animosity between Klein and Cornelius is palpable. Frasier's naïve loyalty to Frere makes him refuse to accept what he knows to be true, on some level, about the guilt of his friend, which is eventually made clear to him rather brutally by the other men. In the end, however, Edric's dispassionate style works against him; after finishing the book you are left with a feeling of mild dissatisfaction. You have been a spectator, but never a participant. The Book of the Heathen doesn't draw you in. It creates an atmosphere of faint horror, but always keeps you at arm's length, making it diverting rather than memorable. A few hours after I finished it, its impact had already faded.
Mendeleyev’s Dream by Paul Strathern
This fascinating history of chemistry unravels the story of 19th-century Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev, who dreamed the periodic table - the template upon which chemistry is founded.
BLACKWELL’S PRICE £5.25
UNIVERSITY BOOKSHOP, UNIVERSITY OF YORK, HESLINGTON, YORK, Y010 5DU (TEL: 01904 432715)
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
BOOKS : 33
The man through the looking glass
C The A-Z Guide to Authors
IF I was to say the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson what are the odds that many people will know who I'm talking about? My guess is that they will be high. I'm also guessing that you will wonder what he is doing as the 'C' entry in the A-Z. The answer to that question lies in the name Charles Lutwidge. If you take the names, Latinize and reverse them, you will get something altogether more common. Charles becomes Carolus, Lutwidge becomes Ludovicus. Tweak them a bit more and they form one of the most famous pseudonyms in literature. Lewis Carroll. Carroll is known in contemporary society for being the master of the nonsense poem and the author of possibly the most widely read and best loved children's book ever. However there were definitely hidden depths to the man who has delighted several generations of children with his witty wonderland, and not all of them were clean and innocent.
Emma Jones takes a step into the fantastical wonderland of Lewis Carroll Carroll was born into a very typical Victorian family. It was large, religious and awfully well-to-do. Lewis was the third of eleven children and the oldest son which meant he was named after his father, the Reverend Charles Dodgson. He spent his early years being taught by his father and the local schoolmaster, before being sent to that haven of masculinity, Rugby. Despite the stereotypes that go with being a children's novelist, the young Carroll was anything but effeminate. He quickly gained a reputation in his village for being 'a boy who knew how to use his fists in a righteous cause'. As was usual for Victorian gentlemen, following his public school education, Carroll went to Oxford and studied Maths at Christ Church College. After earning his bachelor of arts he continued at Christ Church, first studying for a master's degree and then as a librarian and lecturer. He spent over fifty years of his life in that institution teaching a n d writing mathematical textbooks, which he published under his real name. The year 1856 was probably the most significant year of Carroll's life. Firstly he discovered a hobby that was to become his life long passion - well, besides writing. With the encouragement of his friend, Reginald Southey, he purchased his first camera and soon became a very accomplished photographer. The second thing which happened was probably the more significant. Through a combination of his employment and his hobby it was in this year that he met h i s inspiration. Henry Liddell had been
appointed Dean of Christ Church in 1855 and in the following year Carroll was first introduced to his children during a photography session in the deanery garden. Carroll was instantly charmed by the young boy and three little girls, but none touched him more than Alice, the girl who would later be immortalised in his Wonderland. It was on 4th July, 1862 when Carroll's imagination first gave birth to his most famous creation. He and Robinson Duckworth, a friend of his, had taken the Liddell girls on a trip down the Thames to Godstow, where they had a picnic. It was on this 'golden afternoon' - as Carroll himself called it - that he first made up Alice's adventures to entertain the children in particular Alice, his favourite. It was Alice who persuaded him to write the stories down. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865. The travels of a young girl through the enchanting and puzzling world of Wonderland delighted many readers. The book soon ran to a second edition and was even taken across to America for publication. The sequel Alice Through The Looking Glass was even more of successful and earned Carroll a large fanbase which included the poet Christina Rossetti. There are few nineteenth century authors who can lay claim to having been appreciated in their lifetime, but Lewis Carroll is one of them. As an academic at Oxford and a Deacon of the church, Carroll was an eminently respectable member of Victorian society. However the real man had skeletons in his cupboard which would have ruined him had they been public knowledge. To the outside world he was an eccentric character who spoke with a stammer and was somewhat withdrawn in the company of adults. However this all disappeared in the company of
II A cup of coffee sun falls on cathedral spires August afternoon
XIII Coffee and wine glass Boulevard des Capucines drunk far from Paris
III Dark espresso scents muffled trumpet, rainy streets how to love a chair
IV My cafétière Carl Johan street éxotique Incas on display V Coffeeshop on the corner listen hear the angels sing dear Athene VI Hazel shot espresso dark brown contrasts the crowd winter city nymph
The Word Factory
Coffee haikus or, a flâneur and his city Anders Tangvald
Anyone familiar with the warm pulsating spectacle that is the city of Oslo will immediately understand the meanings of references like Incas on display, or winter city nymph. They will be familiar with the diversity and life the work addresses: they will know how to love a
chair. For the coffee haikus are not the story of one particular city, so much as a mode of thought. Urban life, so to say. You may know what I am talking about, you may not. You may have that special chair, you may not. And that is really what it comes down to. I A cup of coffee rain falls on fresh cobblestones Christiania jazz
children, in particular little girls. It could be said that his enjoyment of the company of children was not seedy as is suggested, but indicative of his liking for society which was innocent and not judgmental, as adults of the Victorian era inevitably were. However, the evidence of his photographic interests is more damning than his simple liking for the company of children. Every artist has a favourite subject. Monet painted landscapes, Andy Warhol liked famous beauties and Lewis Carroll had a preference for photographing naked prepubescent girls. These photographs were always taken with parental consent but still, it was not an act which solicited approval. His relationship with Alice has often come under scrutiny, many believing his love for the girl to have gone beyond paternal friendship. Even his modern day fans have admitted that his connection with her was sexually charged but claim that overall it was harmless. A recent biography claims that Carroll's tastes were more conventional than we realise and that spending time with Alice was actually a cover up for his adulterous affair with her mother Lorina Liddell. The evidence for all of these claims is sketchy at best, but his respectability is very much cast into doubt. His stories and nonsense poems are exceptional examples of delightful fantasy and humour, yet they also hold a mournful tone. Much of what he wrote was a mournful representation of the betrayal of children by adults. The Walrus and the Carpenter which was recited for Alice by Tweedledum and Tweedledee, can be interpreted in this way as we see the young oysters being led away and then eaten. Since Carroll's death in 1898 the Alice stories have become more popular than almost any book written at the time. There is little doubt that they are as embroiled in popular culture today as they were 100 years ago. The Disney cartoon (which will be fifty years old on the 26th of next month) is still to be found in many children's video collections. More recently
VII americano blue age-worn tram car passing by named 'Leningrad' VIII light beer and coffee snowfall wings perched in the riggings 'Christian Radich' IX light beer and coffee bird voices on the breeze harbour aria X Retro-instant coffee nineteenth-century rhyme eastern boulevrard XI snowfall on Oslo generously offered cup urban morning frost XII pink cloudy ceiling fire streak across the sky something is over
Can you bring me one thing that is darker than the light from my roof light candle wineglass hammer Why my matches never seem to run out, Gloria do you have any idea that is not incorporated as sulphur how why in old days green would be the colour gently of what my glass contains carefully ask yourself the brave new world you, or all the things affected like the world which is a massive white without ears of course, in old days ink is sold per unbreakable bottle which only goes to show what a liar I've become like the music singing praise to someone with more silver than actual credibility do me a favour, pour it all on me unwilling tenor singing without notes
Lewis Carroll Hallmark, newly proclaimed masters of the fantasy mini-series, adapted the classic for the small screen, starring Miranda Richardson as the screeching 'Queen of hearts'. His popularity as a children's writer is rivalled only by greats such as Roald Dahl and, more recently JK Rowling. The museum in Guildford (where he died) has a gallery devoted to him which is frequently visited by his ardent fans. Despite his more unsavoury pastimes, it cannot be denied that he is still a favourite who has managed to charm nearly every child with his writing and make us all wish that we, like Alice, could take an afternoon tour of his Wonderland.
out. (twice) he is also Greek and wears lycra (probably stolen) drives a jeep (stolen) and owns a greasy club in Leeds his dad is called Rocco and was probably stolen his hair is longer than him and was probably stolen he thinks he is cool but he is not. he is a criminal so do not ever rent one of his stolen houses call your son Mike or go to any club in Leeds in case he owns it (or marry a microphone) (or wear lycra)
I Hate Burger King
Mike is as short as a mike (rophone) and sold his wife and children to pay off his debts to the Halifax
It’s a hot day and you can almost smell the sun cream. I believe that Boots pipe it out of the ventilation grills and fill the streets with the summer stink, just to remind everybody. Burger King have set up a shop on the railway station, that’s so you’re halfway to Wakefield before you realise that you have just jacked off four quid for a flabby flap of badly burned beef. I hate Burger King.
We rented one of his houses and nearly got chucked
34 : SPORT yorkVision
June 20th 2001
College Sport Round-up
Combined results 74.5pts
AS THE academic year closes, it’s time again to wave farewell to the year’s crop of sabbatical officers. In terms of York sport, given the popularity of the departing Owen Rodd, the AU hankies could be particularly moist this time around. As Owen heads off to work “in the field of events, communication and media - anything people centred!”, now seems the time to look back on his year in charge. The Rodd era encompassed an enormously successful Roses and the first use of an AU charity of the year, alongside occasionally disappointing sporting results and frustrations over proposals for the development of sports facilities. When asked what he would consider his legacy, the instant response is the success of Roses, “which I put the bulk of my energy and enthusiasm into. Most of what I did was admin, which was sometimes quite worrying! York doesn’t traditionally get so involved outside of the sporting community, but this time there was a real feeling that everyone wanted to be involved. Also, the local residents had expressed reservations beforehand, so to
get complementary letters from some of them was a real bonus”. Incoming AU President Martin Styles concurred, stating that “it was certainly the best of the three Roses I’ve been involved with. It sets the standard for next year, and if we’ve any chance of winning there needs to be a good liaison between the AU and individual clubs”. Martin sees Owen’s impact more away from the sporting field, in the form of raising the AU’s profile via the new practice of collecting for a charity of the year. All clubs have been raising funds for the Federation of Disability Sports Organisations, earning national press coverage in the process. Owen sees much work to still be done on this, given that “as it was the first year, this was always going to be a slow burner. But it’s clearly been a success, and helps promote the idea of the AU as an organisation working together”. However, there have been problems along the way. The development of plans for improved sports facilities have taken several twists and turns, often over the head of the AU Presidency. Since a bid for
Pts 12 Pld 4
38 32 5 5
31 24 5 6
19 28 5 5
-1 14 4 4
9 16 4 4
Pts 13 Pld 5
Pts 16 Pld 4
16 10 4 4
11 25 4 5
Pts 19 Pld 6
17 18 5 5
21 24 4 6 6 4
games in hand. These could immediately erode Goodricke’s lead by three points. Alcuin continue to trail, with their cricket 2nds failure to score a single point from three matches particularly notable. With the upcoming sports day counting double for points, the current tallies are still very much subject to change. Thanks to AU vice-President-elect for comppiling these tables.
In Rodd we trusted Gareth Owens meets the Owen Rodd and Martin Styles to discuss the past and future of the AU Presidency
AFTER LEADING the field for the entire year, Vanbrugh have been overtaken by last year’s champions Goodricke, who are now sporting a six point lead after having been two and a half at the end of Week 6. Crucial points have been accrued through victories in softball, pool and swimming, alongside strong showings in vitually every other category aside from badminton. Vanbrugh’s hidden trump card could prove to be their cricket team’s
Owen Rodd preparing to step down
lottery money failed, a £1.5 million plan has been proposed and then quietly dropped, with the current preference seemingly being for having building work done for free and then paying rent for several decades. “There doesn’t seem to be any clearly thought through plan for
The development of plans for improved sports facilities have taken several twists and turns, often over the head of the AU Presidency
development. The new proposals should lead to better facilities, but from the AU’s point of view, there’s a real feeling of isolation, given that we weren’t told when negotiations changed”. Given that it would seem next year’s fresher’s will see the fruition of whatever plans emerge, the onus is clearly on Martin Styles to try to ensure the AU is represented. So, on to the future. The future President is clearly full of enthusiasm for the year ahead, with more focused plans than when Vision met him on election night. At the forefront are plans to set up coaching and refereeing awards, meaning students earn qualifications and simultaneously produce a pool of referees. At universities such as Nottingham Trent, over five years such schemes have developed into serious commercial businesses. Owen encouraged such plans, saying “If Martin targets specific ‘problem’ sports, such as hockey and football, then problems over referees in college sport could be significantly eased. He’ll have to be prepared for it to take a while to catch on, though”. Another aim is to improve actual results, as York teams have frequently failed to shine this year. Martin is, however, confident that this can be turned around, particularly given the success of several smaller clubs this year. “There’s a really positive vibe among the clubs at the moment, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to aim for the same goals next year”. The final word should go to Mr Rodd. “I’ve been more of an organiser than previous Presidents, and I think that’s paid off in terms of bringing the AU together as a body. If it only exists to provide transport and insurance, it becomes dull; the AU needs to be more than that. It sounds really cheesy, but I think we’ve become more of a family”.
College talent too damn good? Ryan Sabey QUESTION HAVE been raised as to whether the Athletic Union is forbidding players to play in college sport because the are deemed ‘too good’. Several players have been banned because they have either played for a University side or the equivalent level outside the University. The AU has responded to criticism that You Basoah and Tim Wall were banned because they had representative honours at national and county level respectively. Basoah was aggrieved to be left out of the Rugby 7’s tournament despite having never played for a University team. “I was disappointed not to have played because we had a good team and we had a chance of winning,” he said. Basoah went on to criticise those who banned him from playing. “The claims were not substantiated because I hadn’t played for a University team.” But Brendan O’Donovan, in charge of college sport said that there was a need for college based sport to be played ‘in the spirit of the game’. O’Donovan told
Vision: “Rugby is a special case and there is an element of danger. There was a list give to Martin Styles (his predecessor) as to who was banned and he had the final say.” Vanbrugh College’s Sports Rep Tim Wall was also aggrieved with the possibility of being left out of the Inter-College Sports Day. “They were going to ban me because I was a recognised 3A’s runner. But as there were three of us who had been recognised in this way there was thought to be an even spread across the colleges,” Wall told Vision. Wall had reached the required standard for his age group via the Amateur Athletic Association in the 100m and 200m. O’Donovan explained why Wall was allowed to run today (Wednesday). “He has not been rated in the last year so we allowed him to run. We did not want to spoil the spirit of the day if someone was too good for their event.” Current rules state students who have played three games for the University’s respective first team are currently not permitted to participate in College Sport.
Basoah (right) battles at Roses 2000
Opinion Gareth Owens winces at thought of a footie-free summer THE DROUGHT is upon us. A footballfree summer looms with only the tinpot Copa America for comfort. As the nation’s wives heave a sigh of relief, time has to be taken to reflect upon just what this means to those for whom life will be that touch more grey until August. Since the publication of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch¸ football fandom has experienced a confused time. What was initially received as a thoughtful critique of the perverse hold of the sport over its male fans became swept up in the New Lad movement. The upsurge of chest beating popu l i s m achieved on behalf of the national team during Euro 96 and the subsequent (if largely unconnected) explosion in the game’s commercial muscle have been welldocumented. But where d o e s this leave those for whom an addiction to club football is more than a passing interest? The season which has just withered seems a distant memory, with the next but a blip on the horizon. No matches to watch, no TV highlights, no joy in the Sunday sport section. Just endless, wild transfer gossip in the opening half of the summer, soon to be followed by a vacuum as players and journalists hit the beaches. Le Saux to Leicester? Blimey! Roy Keane to Arsenal? Why not? The effect is akin to heavy foreplay followed by a swift blow from a handbag. I’m still yet to recover from the inevitable disappointed which followed the 1994 local newspaper headline “It’s Baggio for Forest!”. There is, of course, fun to be had as fantasy names for your club flash across
by Gareth Owens
tomorrow’s fish and chip paper. Sadly, this is only if you’re lucky enough to support a club with money to spend. Unfortunately, in these increasingly polarised times, this is ever more unlikely outside the top half of the Premiership. As a Nottingham Forest fan, I can remember taking for granted top three finishes and European cup runs, but can barely comprehend it. The most exciting thing I see happening this close-season is Nigel Clough and Gary Crosby arriving in a Wallace and Gromit-esque motorcycle and sidecar after Platt sods off to do something more interesting. Still, at least we didn’t waste time getting “past-it” Stuart Pearce back when we had the chance a couple of seasons ago, eh Mr Chariman? But it’s not just fans of moribund East Midlands clubs that feel the pinch. The trappings of the football s e a s o n which are so easy to take for granted suddenly disappear, to the consternation of all. The loss of Match of the Day makes this worse – there’s not even guaranteed quality to look forward to. Des Lynam, so suave and reassuring five years ago, suddenly resembles a dirty uncle that never gets invited around for the kid’s birthday parties. A de-mulleted Barry Venison and El Tel can’t match for the quiet authority of Hanson and Brooking, and the cruel pleasure of seeing Mark Lawrenson’s evident alcohol problem become more obvious with each passing week. In the year 2001, to profess to be a football fan is far more ambiguous than it used to be. The term covers a far larger spectrum, from the Hornby-esque obsessives with a terrifying knowledge of the names of their first team’s family pets, to David Mellor’s weasel disciples eyeing up Fulham. As the community disperses, mutual comfort in these months of need becomes trickier.
Bow-wow Pete Howitt
THE ARCHERY Club maybe one of the smallest in the AU, but given that it is one of the most successful, it can also claim to be the most unheralded. Last year the team made it to third place in the national BUSA outdoor competition, meaning that York can boast one of the leading archery clubs in the country. This is not to say that this year has been a disappointment following such achivements. The team is made up of the four highest scoring archers from York in the competition, so its composition will alter depending on who is shooting well on a particular day. An extremely solid performance was produced at the BUSA indoor competition at Newcastle. This was followed by an excellent display at the Scottish Universities’ competition, which York attended as guests. Outdoors, an obvious highlight was
the thrashing the team subjected Lancaster to at the Roses competition. We won by a magnificent 700 points, probably the biggest winning margin at Roses. The team consisted of Michael Ward (captain), James Wickens, Chris Jolley and Heather Maclaren. The home team’s dominance was such that our second four archers would almost certainly have beaten Lancaster’s strongest team. The final big competition of the term is the BUSA outdoors on the 23rd June at the new National archery society premises at Lilleshall. Hopefully we can repeat, or better, last year’s superb result. The future is certainly bright with the development of a new range near Computer Science, to hopeully be available next year, thus meaning the club and team may yet achieve a reputation on par with their achievments.
“Christ! Barry missed the apple!”
June 20th 2001 yorkVision
SPORT : 35
A Boatiful Day Anna Layard-Liesching
THE BOAT Club held its annual open day on the Saturday of Week 8. It took place at the Fulford Boat House. The day started with the naming of our new boat. The soon to be leaving Vice-Chancellor Ron Cook, took time out of his busy schedule to officially christen the boat. The Grapevine was funded by the Alumuni who donated the money to the boat club to be spent specifically on a new women’s four. The problem that the club has previously faced is the fact that the older boats are often shared with the men. These boats have the problem of being heavier, thus not being suitable for competition given that they slow down the women’s crews. During his speech, Ron Cook commented on our current funding situation saying that “The boat club is booming. Whilst what you need is a new boat house, not just one new boat, this is a start for a club which the university is very proud of”. The Grapevine will have its first major race run-out at Henley this year, on
the Saturday of Week 10. This competition is the highlight of the twelve month rowing year, consisting of an international Regatta with crews flying in from around the globe. Training for the crew is now becoming increasingly intensive, as the Henley four take to the water twice a day, six days a week in their new boat. This crew is coxed by Mike Peddan and consists of Claire Wilkinson, Mary Buxton, Margrethe Felter and Sofka Brown. Since receiving the new boat the women have won all but one of the regattas they have contested. Firstly, we had a triumphant Roses where each of the York Boats vanquished their Lancastrian counterparts. Following this, we were in Nottingham for BUSA where the novice eight came third and the four won. This success was then built upon with a brace of victories at Bedford and Peterborough. The success that the women have managed to achieve with The Grapevine has raised the profile not only of the women’s squad, but York university sport as a whole. A measure of this success is that the York women’s squad is now ranked
fifth in the country. The rest of the day was spent watching the amateur crews attempting to row. Out of the eight entries, victory was snatched by a Netball team crew. A barbecue was held during the day to raise proceeds for the FDSO, the AU charity of the year. The other main event of the day was the presidents versus captains race. The president’s crew was James Byrne, the president, and the old blades who came back for the day; the captain’s crew was Mark Nicholson (the senior men’s captain) and the current senior men. Although the old timers were looking good on the water, victory was won by the captains, continuing the tradition of an annual loss for the presidents. After the fun and games at the boat house we all headed towards our cosponsors Derry (along with Pi Technology) to celebrate. All in all, the day was a resounding success. We would like to thank Ron Cook for naming our boat, the Derramore Arms for their help and assistance and everyone who came down to support.
Ron Cooke meets The Grapevine
in association with email@example.com
20TH JUNE 2001 ISSUE 130
Pool asa cue-cumber
Matt Goddard THE CREAM of the University’s pool stars hustled into Vanbrugh last Thursday as the colleges battled it out to win the POOLSHARKS tournament 2001. The event was the culmination of inter-college contests, and was organised by KL Leisure, supplier of pool tables and amenities to 90% of the University. The champions of each college battled it out to win £150 for their JCRC and £100 for themselves, as well as collect some rather smart trophies for getting there in the first place. Derwent college was the only college not taking part, ineligible as they use a different amenities supplier. An unfortunate abscense but it made little impression on the night. Rules had been previously posted in all competing colleges and facilities in Fairfax House and Halifax C o u r t . Representatives from KL Leisure took up their positions as referees for the matches at tables placed at the mouth of Vanbrugh bar. The first match saw Halifax Court take on the hosts, but unfor-
tunately the Halifax contestant wasn’t so much hustling as plastered. Mind you, he had just finished his exams but his inability to grasp the cue meant a early win for Vanbrugh. Meanwhile, the other early round matches saw Langwith win over Alcuin and Goodricke out-shoot James College. Wentworth saw off Fairfax House to take the last semi-final place in consistently high quality matches. The first semi-final Langwith v Vanbrugh was a battle of University team players, John Deceux and John Knight, but Langwith saw off the hosts to secure the first final placing. It was Goodricke v Wentworth however, which proved one of the most controversial matches. Goodricke established a 2-0 lead, only needing a further win to secure their final place and accompanying prizes. However Wentworth staged an amazing come-back taking the next two games. With a 2-all epic in hand, Wentworth worked themselves back into the game to face a matchwinning shot. Unsurprisingly, the black was potted, but the white rolled in afterwards handing the game to Goodricke. Just after that match, Goodricke Chair Tom Connor was as amazed as his college peers, “Wentworth brought the game back with truly brilliant pool, that one game lasted 20 minues. It was a monster. We thought we were dead and buried, so we’re lucky to be here.” As a result, Goodricke’s Jon Cousins and Langwith’s John Decaux found themselves squaring off for the final, a best out of five competition. True to previous form Goodricke blended luck and skill. In the first game Langwith found themselves on the black first and seemed certain to take a early lead, but the white found itself following the black into the corner pocket with excruciating slowness. That done, Goodricke completed with a 3:0 victory. Jon Cousins had justified his place as Goodricke’s premier pool shark with the cool skills that had seen him rise above 32 other college hopefuls in the pre-heats. Ben Youdan presented slick trophies to each of the competitors, finalists of each college in their own right. John Decaux, a Roses veteran who had demonstrated far more resolve than the score-line indicated, took back £50 for himself and £75 for his
college JCRC. John Cousins stepped up last to collect the main prize. His JCRC Chair added after the result, “that was an absolutely brilliant competition, we had our ups and downs, but John deserved that win and as a college we are really proud of him.” The last pool tournament at the University was the heated Lancaster v York contest in Derwent College during Roses 2001. That contest saw alcohol and competitiveness make for an interesting atmosphere, but in Vanbrugh, despite freeflowing drink the atmosphere remained surprisingly friendly. “It’s very nice that everyone turned out and it was all very good natured,” said Nick of KL Leisure after the presentation ceremony, “especially this late into the third term.” The competition was not as well attended as it might have been. Quiet period timing and the exam period that entails meant there were more cues on the table than queues at the door. This is something KL Leisure hope to rectify next year, “We would like to be back with a bigger and better event every year hopefully in the second term or t h e
first week of the third term at the latest.”
Quiet period timing and the exam period that entails meant there were more cues on the table than queues at the door
Nick interestingly added, “We now supply some equipment to Lancaster University, so hopefully there’s some Roses potential there.” After the main excitement was over and not so competitive players stepped up to the tables it was clear the evening had been a great success. A tournament beneficial for all involved can only make for a good night and if everything goes to plan, POOLSHARK 2002 should be hard to miss.
York serves up a la Karte triumph Alex Withington
THE KARTING club is one of the newest societies on campus, this year being only its second full year of operation. Having been set up during the 1998/1999 academic year by Edward Day and Caroline Grubb, the club has grown to have a member base in excess of 50 people and runs weekly trips to a variety of venues. The principle aim of the club is to make karting affordable and fun whilst catering to a wide range of abilities, from first time driver to budding Formula One star. Whilst the majority of sessions are short practise events at a local tracks, we also undertake regular race events. During the course of this year the club has been involved the InterUniversity Karting Championships. The championships were competed over five separate events, starting in February down on the south coast at Gosport. Despite a 4 am departure from York, and a 6-hour minibus ride, the York A Team finished a magnificent, we finally returned home again at 4 the next morning. The four remaining races were all contested at established outdoor
circuits. With conditions ranging from balmy sunshine at Whilton Mill, to Sleet and Snow showers at Daytona Milton Keynes, it was certainly a test of the driver’s skills. Round 4 at Clay Pigeon (an old stomping ground for Jenson Button) also produced a stunning 5th place result at the end of a gruelling 3-hour endurance in constantly changing weather conditions. At the end of the championships the York A team had pulled off an impressive 7th place overall out of the 30 teams that competed. The B team also enjoyed some good racing and finished in 25th despite only being able to attend three of the championship rounds. The drivers who competed for the two teams during the championships were: Tim Bence, Graham Craig, John Emerson, Dave Garritt, Ollie Holmes, James Hoskisson, Richard Selby, Rob Shaw, Steve Wigfull, & Alex Withington The crowning achievement of this year occurred when the university was invited to compete in the Varsity Karting Challenge, at the Whilton Mill Circuit, where we achieved our first race victory. As well as Oxford and Cambridge there
were teams from Inter University champions Nottingham, Imperial, Warwick and a few others. The race took place from 8.30 on a wet Monday evening, in the form of a 3-hour team endurance. John Emerson claimed second on the grid, and good fast drives from all team members brought the A team victory. Due to lack of drivers, Alex Withington and Tim Bence had to drive for both the A and B teams, totalling an hour’s drive each in 3 hours’ worth of racing. They both managed a well deserved victory. YUKC President Alex Withington was enthusiastic about the club’s progress: “This year’s championships have been up and down in terms of results, and I think our final placing (7th) was deserved and our victory at the Varsity Challenge was superb in very tricky conditions. My thanks go to all the members who have taken part this year but most of all to Tim Bence (outgoing President) who has done a superb job this year and most of the success is owed to him. The club and the University are very grateful to him for his efforts above, beyond the commitment you could have expected from him.”
yorkVision THE UNIVERSITY OF YORK’S INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER