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FRIDAY JUNE 18

OIL FOR FOOTBALL

A brighter day for England football fans. I had to miss the game again – for once in my life, putting work first – though I've heard from two friends who did see it that the 3-0 scoreline against Switzerland flattered "our lot." You can almost predict where this thing is going: we'll probably make it to the quarter-finals, even possibly the semi's, and we'll almost certainly not walk away with the trophy. Let's enjoy it while we're winning.

Football fans, even the last of the working class ones, seem to accept that their heroes are paid rock star wages. But do they care where the money comes from to pay those wages? Those who assume that oil companies are the planet's bad guys, a judgment I leaned towards with my lengthy essay on Tuesday, might want to read this story on Roman Abramovich, the Russian-born Chairman of Chelsea FC. Last month, The Guardian Weekend's reporters Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark produced a fascinating account of how Abramovich came by his wealth. Most of it is through controlling interests in Russian oil from the Siberian north, and much of that he came by through highly questionable means. Unlike oil workers in the UK, USA and, ahem, Saudi Arabia, the Russian workers have not shared in the proceeds, even though they were originally issued individual shares before the Government privatized the industry. An 18-man crew for Abramovich's company Sibneft, working in the frozen Siberia, earns £75,000 a year between them. In 2003, that same company paid dividends of £696,000,000, of which, states The Guardian report, "£640 million went to Abramovich and his fellow core shareholders."

Does this make Britain's richest man (the Chelsea chairman now lives in the UK) as evil as Halliburton, Shell, the Saudi oil sheiks or the Ecuadorian government? Perhaps not, but I wonder how many fans at Stamford Bridge this last season stopped to think about how their team's new found spending money was acquired – and forgave Abramovich his oil-field results because of the football field results?


Oil produces vast profits, it fuels fast food, it pollutes the jungle from which it's drilled and its consumption is a large part of the reason for Global Warming. For his book High Tide: The Truth About Our Climate Crisis, Mark Lynas traveled to Alaska where he found that, since the oil boom kicked off in the mid-1970s, "almost every resident will admit one thing: Alaska's weather has gone crazy."

He discovered something else, too: "the North Slope Eskimo communities were some of the [oil] industry's strongest supporters." Where there's profits to be made, there's usually local people to champion the opportunity, and the residents of Alaska, who despite their remote habitat are still part of the USA, see a greater opportunity to improve their lifestyle through oil drilling than the Siberian people who work for Sibneft. (Chelsea fans, take note.) That doesn't make it the right thing to do in the long run, which is all the more reason we need leaders who will address the oil issue head on. Kerry, are you listening?


"Let Me Tell Ya Bout Your Blood, Bamboo Kid,
It Ain't Coca-Cola It's Rice…"

I came across the above notable lyric from 'Straight To Hell' by The Clash while listening to Combat Rock. It seemed to provide a connectino to my memories of Ecuador as detailed the other day. And then I opened up the foldout poster from the same album, for this photograph taken in Thailand:



Moby covered 'Straight To Hell' (with Heaver Nova singing) for Burning London: The Clash Tribute, and then included the following as part of his sleeve notes. "They looked good and they had good album art (except for Combat Rock)." Was he drawing on the same contradiction?

That 1999 Tribute album was immensely disappointing. No Doubt, The Urge, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Afgan Whigs, and Rancid all do The Clash a disservice, though none of them massacre a track quite like Silverchair annihilate 'London's Burning.' Among the album's few saving graces are Cracker's Country and Western hoedown rendition of 'White Riot' (so preposterous it works), and Indigo Girls' acoustic take on 'Clampdown.' It's also worth pointing out that 311, not closely affiliated with 'alternative rock' (as it's called in America), bravely covered maybe the most difficult Clash song of them all, 'White Man In Hammersmith Palais.' (Of course, it's not a patch on the original, but at least you can hear the words, hee hee.) Only a couple of months ago, the same band, 311 released as their new single a cover of The Cure's 'Love Song.' Are they more cool than we knew?


THURSDAY JUNE 17

HIT 'EM UP

No new post today but if you're looking for music coverage, please check out the June Hitlist. with featured album reviews of The Streets, Beta Band, Mocean Worker, Denise James, Sandy Bull, Armand van Helden, Alanis Morissette, Start Trouble, tweaker, Zen Records, Secret Machines and, of course, Crystal Palace FC. You can find them all here. Two new wine reviews are here. Let us know in The Pub if you strongly agree or disagree or simply want to tell us what you're listening to.


WEDNESDAY JUNE 16

PARTY PROSPECTS

I closed out yesterday's lengthy essay about oil, fast food and rampant consumerism, by asking if John Kerry is up to the task of, as the New York Press' Aaron Naparstek put it, "building an inspiring message around energy."

It's unlikely. As American voters learned in 2000, it's not the Candidate with the most votes from constitutents who becomes President, but the Candidate with the most votes from the Electoral College, which are applied State by State. (The Candidate with the most votes in a State gets all of that State's Electoral College votes; read how it's all figured out at this Government website.) A week ago Monday night, after Crazy Legs' crashing defeat in the last game of the season, I stayed up watching the Jay Leno show, on which the highly respected Tim Russert, "dean" of the Sunday Morning political talk shows, was guest. Russert was there to plug his book about his dad, Big Russ and Me, published to coincide with this weekend's Father's Day, but Leno used the opportunity to seek Russert's wisdom on all current hot political issues.

Asked to call the upcoming election, Russert (smartly) refused, but he made clear how it will play out. 38 States, he told viewers, are already committed to either one party or the other. The Candidates may pay lip service to voters in those States, but they consider the Electoral College votes already sewn up. Even in the remaining dozen key States, 90% of voters have already made up their minds. The entire Presidential campaign therefore comes down to just 10% of the voting public in just 12 'swing' States. According to Russert, the Democrats and Republicans will spend a full billion dollars between them attempting to win over those voters.

Leno asked if Russert knew how much that worked out per vote. Russert didn't know. I wonder if any of our readers do.

Russert's assessment was confirmed the next day on Morning Edition by NPR's Senior News Analyst, Cokie Roberts. Except that she brought the number of Swing States down to just 11. Interestingly, both Roberts and Russert noted how, for all that 10% of voters in these States remain 'Undecided', past elections show that they have a tendency to collectively make up their mind, even at the last moment, and lean the same way en masse. (Except in Florida in 2000, I would have thought.)

Were Kerry to break with tradition and offer a bold, new path, he might bring in some disaffected Independents and non-voters from the cold; he could even bring over disenchanted Republicans too. But Kerry is not interested in increasing his majority in New York and California, nor in trying to close Bush's majority in Texas or Georgia, because it won't change his total of crucial Electoral College votes. He's interested in that 10% of undecided voters in those twelve States. And he'll say whatever he thinks they want to hear. It would be wonderful to think that Kerry would consider "building an inspiring message around energy" for such a small number of swing voters and perhaps show the world in the process that Americans will respond with intelligence if they're treated with it, but - and especially considering how the Republicans will be spending their money on those voters - it's extremely unlikely he'll take that risk. In fact, it would be a miracle.



It can seem so unrewarding trying to affect change at national level. It's hard enough at local level. I've written a lot here about Forest Ratner's plans to erect a basketball arena and some 17 accompanying buildings just yards from where I live in Park Slope. I don't dispute that a sports team would be a great thing for Brooklyn, and believing as much, I recognize that an arena has to go somewhere. But I've never believed that developer Bruce Ratner is primarily interested in the sports aspect; I claim he's using it as cover for the bigger development, which will alter Brooklyn beyond any recognition and beyond redemption.

The community attacks on Ratner must be having some effect because, just two weeks ago, he retaliated, mailing out 350,000 full-color marketing cards (at what cost?) led with the claim, "A Garden Of Eden Grows In Brooklyn." If Ratner was referring to Prospect Park or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, he may have a point, but of course he's referring to his $2billion+ building project. It's hard to understand how 17 buildings featuring 2.1 million square feet of office space, a 19,000-seater sports arena, 4500 car parking spaces and 4.5 million square feet of new housing represents any one's idea of 'Eden.' Still, the cards include puff quotes from the politicians I've already accused of selling out their constituents, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and what looks like an endorsement from the New York Times. (It's not actually an endorsement, but given that Ratner is partner in the Times's new building, we're certainly not relying on New York's 'Gray Lady' for critical opposition.) Rather than hinting at any impact on the local environment, or mentioning that houses and businesses will be razed to make way for this supposed Eden, the mailing invites recipients to return a pre-paid post card expressing their support for the project with the lure of a "free Brooklyn Nets souvenir." There's no spot on the card to express opposition.

It's a snow job, pure and simple. And it's so offensive that the Boerum Hill Association is planning on filing complaints of False Advertising with the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Better Business Bureau and the New York State Attorney Generals' Office.

Protest can often seem negative. Confrontational, even. This Saturday, June 19, DevelopDon'tDestroy is hosting a purely positive Block Party on Pacific Street between 5th and 6th Avenues – a block that will no longer exist should Ratner have his way. I will, as tends to be the case these days, be out of town over this weekend. Those Brooklyn readers who are staying put, please consider attending to show that you're not willing to see your local community destroyed in this manner.


TUESDAY JUNE 15

HIGHWAY TO UNHEALTHY:
WHY FAST FOOD DEPENDS ON CHEAP OIL

I labored, on and off, for at least a week getting the following feature together. It was difficult reining in the various tentacles of the topic, as it's so easy to expand the conversation in a dozen different directions. But one of the things I try and do at this web site is join the dots between the various different elements of our lives, and because I saw the movie Super Size Me the same day I had a serious problem with a major American 'big-box' store, which was also the same day the New York Press published its story about dwindling oil supplies, I was able see these issues as being connected by corporate capitalism in a way I might not have done without the timely coincidence. To try and simplify the process for readers, who I do hope will find the time to digest (?) the topic, I've broken it into different headers, each of which, I hope, will work as self-contained pieces.


"GET ME BIG MAC, FRIES TO GO...
GET ME BIG MAC, GET ME FRIES TO GO... "


The hit documentary movie Super Size Me is not without its flaws, the most obvious of which is also, paradoxically, its greatest strength. While traveling around America talking to various workers in and around the fast food industry, first-time feature maker Morgan Spurlock ate only at (or from) McDonald's for a month. If we're to believe him, Spurlock went into this project as a fan of fast food, especially McDonalds. He appeared enthusiastic about his month-long "diet", viewing it as lightweight visual entertainment to balance out the otherwise heavyweight subject matter.

That choice of descriptors is deliberate for, as expected, Spurlock saw his weight balloon, his cholesterol count rise and his blood pressure increase, all within a week of going all Mac. But neither he nor his three doctors – Spurlock wanted a second opinion seconded - had anticipated quite such drastic health changes. One doctor compared the damage to Spurlock's liver as similar to the effects of pronounced alcoholism. Another begged him to halt his experiment with just a week to go; when Spurlock refused, he was told how to recognize an oncoming heart attack. By the end of his month-long 'diet,' along with his poor physical condition and bloated complexion, Spurlock was experiencing mood swings, sleep deprivation and, indeed, heart palpitations.

It’s a shocking sight to see a man undergo such a sudden change in physical and mental health in such a short time, but still, one is tempted to scream at the screen: "What the hell did you expect?" Not even McDonald's itself suggests its customers should be eating its food – and only its food - three times a day. (Well, not quite.) Spurlock's extreme eating habits prove a powerful point – but it's one that only the director himself seemed eager to discover in the first place.

One of my friends, inherently suspicious of Spurlock's motives, likened the director's stint to a stunt on the MTV show Jack-Ass. I imagine Spurlock himself wouldn't mind that comparison. After all, Super Size Me won't achieve much if it only plays to committed vegetarians like myself and so, even if the marketing is a little heavy on the French fries and sauce, and light on the detailed health issues, that may just help draw the audience the film so desperately needs: actual fast-food fans. Once in the cinema, they will hopefully then find themselves bombarded with enough fat figures – I mean, facts and figures – to put the popcorn and half gallon coke aside for a while and think about their health.


CRUNCH BARS

Here are a few of the factoids Super Size Me drops on its viewers, as taken from the movie's website:

Each day, 1 in 4 Americans visits a fast food restaurant
In 1972, we spent $3 billion a year on fast food - today we spend more than $110 billion
McDonald's feeds more than 46 million people a day - more than the entire population of Spain
French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America
You would have to walk for seven hours straight to burn off a Super Sized Coke, fry and Big Mac
In the U.S., we eat more than 1,000,000 animals an hour
60 % of all Americans are either overweight or obese
Only seven items on McDonald's entire menu contain no sugar


And here are a few of the factoids included in a June 8 cover story entitled 'The Coming Energy Crunch' from the New York Press.

Global demand for oil has increased seven-fold over the past 50 years.
In 1986 human beings consumed about 54 million barrels of oil each day. Today we use 82 million.
Though Americans make up only 5 per cent of the world's total population, we consume more than one-quarter of its energy – about three gallons per person per day.
In the last decade, Chinese oil consumption has doubled, while Chinese car ownership has jumped from 700,000 to 7,000,000.
Global discovery of oil peaked in 1964 and has been in decline ever since.
In 2000, there were 16 discoveries of oil 'mega-fields.' In 2001, we found eight, and in 2002 only three such discoveries were made. Today, we consume about six barrels of oil for every one new barrel discovered."

Struggling to see the connection? No? Then allow me to go off on a few more tangents before trying to glue the pieces together.


OIL FOR FOOD: A SOUTH AMERICAN PRIMER

In 1992, Posie and I journeyed to the western edge of the Amazon, from within Ecuador. (The unspoiled interior looks much like the picture at the left.) Along the way, our bus spent an entire day following a Coca-Cola truck into the jungle, upon which it occurred to me, in a profoundly paranoid way, that maybe the road had only ever been built in the first place for (the likes of) Coca Cola to expand their global market. Certainly, given the abundance of advertising for the drink in every tin-shack village, and its popularity with the natives (who had otherwise been drinking satisfactorily from local tropical fruits these last several thousand years), it was hard to think of a bigger beneficiary.

But there was, it transpired, another reason roads had opened up into the Ecuadorean jungle. Oil had been discovered there, by Texaco. And the government of Ecuador, a poor South American country with a typically troubled history for the region, was so happy to take its share that it sent its army to work in tandem with the oil giant. But, perhaps because the conscripts weren't trained in the oil business, things didn't go quite as planned. A huge oil spill just a week or two before our arrival forced a change in our Amazonian destination. Meanwhile, the local tribes were desperately trying to organize some kind of claim on their land while it was still habitable. Fortunately, their cause eventually received international attention, though not before their land was devastated.

Crude oil out, Coca Cola in: a cynical capitalist's dream. To be fair, the Amazon has been deforested for reasons other than oil. Especially in Brazil, the logging industry has turned too much of the Amazon's resources into timber. As an eager consumer of books, magazines and newspapers, I'm contributing to the demand. But so are those who buy ininstantly consumable food in its instantly disposable wrapping (of which, it seems, the more the merrier.) And it's long been a criticism of the fast food burger companies that they're razing our planet's natural resources, the Amazon included, to raise cattle, usually pumped full of hormones and using ten times the grain needed to feed poor humans, for meat that is then sent hundreds and thousands of miles away where, blended with all kinds of addictive additives, it's marketed at so inexpensive a price that your average fast-moving family can't help themselves but succumb - at the expense of a home-cooked (and especially at the expense of a healthy) family meal.


"POUR A LITTLE SUGAR ON IT BABY
I'M GONNA MAKE YOUR LIFE SO SWEET"


American schools have widely succumbed to the notion of fast food as a quick fix. Super Size Me is at its most powerful when it stops obsessing about Spurlock's self-imposed diet and shows how American children are being allowed, encouraged and occasionally even forced to eat food that will make them fat and/or unhealthy. Spurlock visits a school in his home state, West Virginia, a once coal-rich area where, as in Ecuador or even the UK, the local people have not generally reaped the material wealth from the excavation of the earth's raw materials. Which is why it's so discouraging when Spurlock discovers from the school "cook" that the majority of food she's serving the kids is sent in boxes, pre-made, needing nothing but heating, direct from Government agencies in the form of 'Aid' – and that it's no more healthy than Spurlock's McDonalds diet.

Super Size Me also shows a Wisconsin school for trouble-makers, truants and other rejects of the state system. Perhaps because this school already exists outside the box, it chose to rethink how and what it fed its students. It did away with the snack and soda machines, threw out the fries and burgers, and instead ensured its children got a healthy, natural diet by working hand in hand with a local organization, Natural Ovens. The good news? The school has seen a drastic turn around in behavior from these supposed troublemakers. The really good news? The new food program costs the school not a single penny more than the old one.

So which is the way of the future? The West Virginia model, or the Wisconsin one? Super Size Me leaves you as depressed as a Happy Meal comedown, and thereby convinced it's the former. But Aaron Naparstek's New York Press story suggests that it may in fact become the latter. And that's because he makes the connection between the fast food industry and oil production.


THINK OUTSIDE THE BUN

Oil prices have been rising drastically of late, with Americans up in arms at the two dollar gallon of gas. (Brits: that's approximately £1.20 a gallon of petrol. Yes, I know.) Naparstek notes that typically, oil costs have accounted for less than 5% of the American economy, that they're now standing at 8%, and asks what will happen when they reach a "tipping point," somewhere above 10%. Here's what he then writes:

"The whole model of turning oil into corn into Taco Bell – that whole complex, that system, is really going to be over," says James Howard Kunstler. "We're going to be forced to grow more of our food locally and return to a kind of agriculture that really hasn't been practiced here in a long time. A lot of the land that has only had value as suburban development in the past 30 or 40 years is going to have to be reassigned."

Kunstler foresees "the demise of Wal-Mart style, big-box, national chains." Companies whose profit margins depend on "merchandise made by factories 12,000 miles away" simply won't function in a world of $100-plus barrels of oil. "We're going to have to seriously reorganize our whole system of retail trade and economy."

In other words, as oil supplies dwindle drastically and prices rise accordingly, the fast food industry could well be the first to suffer. For not only will these corporations no longer find it viable to keep churning out 99c happy meals, what with the costs of importing meat and transporting buns, but as prohibitive oil prices finally have an impact on the car owner, there may be less people coming up to the 'Drive-Thru' restaurants in their 15mpg SUVS to buy tacos and burgers at any price. Wouldn't that be a joy?


"DON'T YOU WONDER, WHY IN ESTONIA, THEY SAY, HEY YOU, YOU FAT PIG, YOU FAT PIG"

At the time of filming Super Size Me, Houston was the "fattest" city in America. Houston happens to be the oil capital of the country, though that just may be coincidence. Certainly, any one who's been there will know that it's absolutely vast, not a city you could walk around even if you wanted to. Indeed, Texas as a whole is such an enormous State, and so sparsely populated considering its size, and therefore so dependent on the car as a means of transport, that it comes as no surprise to learn that over half the fattest cities in America are within its borders.

Yet by the time Spurlock had finished making Super Size Me, Houston had been superceded as the fattest city in America by Detroit. (Detroit happens to be the automobile capital of the country, and that may also be a coincidence. Though two coincidences in a row tend to suggest a statistic.) But any one who's visited Detroit in recent decades will be aware that it's is no easier (or safer) to get around on foot than Houston. The Motor City's downtown gradually disappeared through years of urban decay with the result that, current attempts to revitalize its heart notwithstanding, Detroit is now shaped like a donut, a number of suburbs built around an empty hole.

Downtown Houston as seen from space. That's Enron Field, in the middle.

Downtown Detroit, as ringed by highways.

That opens up the subject of suburban sprawl, at which point I'd better rein myself in and return to the New York Press feature. Naparstek opens it up by reporting how John Kerry, the Democratic Presidential candidate, is regrettably campaigning for cheap prices at the 'gas pump', while getting cheap laughs out of the idea of Bush and Cheney carpooling together. (Cheap gas prices will help no one in the long run if supplies are diminishing, and carpooling, however marginally, at least helps reduce our consumption.) The author suggests that Kerry instead adopt an entirely fresh approach, one that draws on American's "national religion" of "self-help and personal transformation."

"It is not at all difficult to imagine the Democrats building an inspiring message around energy. Americans' relationship to energy underlies and ties together most of today's headlines – gas prices, Middle Eastern terrorism and war, the environment, suburban sprawl, traffic-clogged roadways, the obesity epidemic. Talking about changing the way that we think about and use energy would give Kerry an entry point into discussing just about every hot-button issue in American life today."

It's not too late. But is Kerry up to the challenge?


MONDAY JUNE 14

BLUE MONDAY

"HOW DOES IT FEEL...?"

David Beckham scores the prestigious cover of America's Vanity Fair. Pity he couldn't score from the penalty spot Sunday.

I imagine it's a pretty Blue Monday over in the old country for England football fans, who have been anticipating the European Championships in Portugal under the somewhat optimistic belief that "we" can win the tournament this time. I wasn't able to watch yesterday's opening group game against France, in which England led until the last minute of play – at which point they gave up a free kick and a penalty, each of which France's Zinedine Zidane comfortably converted into goals. (Use the iJamming! search engine for the word "Heskey" and you'll see my opinion of England's sucker sub has never been especially high.) As a Palace fan, I've been on the positive end of these last minute turn-arounds over the past year, so I can't complain too much. And after the French performance in the last World Cup, presumably this sudden death come-from-behind was an enormous relief to the greatest wine nation on earth.

Besides, England can't possible feel as bad today as host nation Portugal, another country who go into every tournament believing they're good enough to win it, yet never live up to anyone's expectations. Clearly keen to rival their appalling start in the last World Cup, when they lost 3-2 in the opening match to supposed underdogs the USA, Portugal crashed 2-1 on Saturday to Greece, who really are underdogs. More so, Portugal only got on the score sheet in the last minute. Not exactly a promising start.

I'm not likely to watch much of the opening group games, which may be a relief to iJamming!'s many American readers who, I know, frequently scratch their heads and tune out when I go on and on about football. They do, at least those I run into however, tell me they enjoy catching some of the enthusiasm I have for the sport.

No real wonder, given America's own options. Down at the In-Laws over the weekend and limited for late night entertainment, I watched some of the MLS game between the New York Metro Stars and the San Jose Earthquakes. (1-3, so you know.) It was, frankly, appalling. Probably comparable to English 3rd Division, if that. I'm thinking of taking my son to a Metro Stars game at Giants Stadium after school is over – gotta get him into the sport somehow - so we may yet come back to the subject.



"WHERE TAXI DRIVERS NEVER STOP TALKING"

Just heard on this morning's BBC World News that London is officially the second most expensive city in the world. (According to whoever conducts these surveys, that is.) Number one: Tokyo. No surprise there. But number three? Moscow. London apparently even exceeds Tokyo when it comes to the comparative cost of a cup of coffee. New York, partly because of the weak economy here, has slipped to 12th place.

Coffee can be a fancy purchase in New York these days, but at least we're starting to see more for our money. My local coffee shop, Gorilla, has just installed wireless service – for free. Buy a $2 magnum of fair trade Nicaraguan jet fuel and spend all day on the Net. As a result, both of free net access and cramped apartments pace, the shop looks like a laptop convention, a good place for a cartoonist to come lampoon us self-employed Brooklynites.


"ASK ME, ASK ME, ASK ME"

I wrote last week about the two Morrissey/Smiths fans who handed over elegantly written requests to hear their hero(es) at our most recent Step On. And I commented on Morrissey's attractions to such young girls. (Or should that have been the other way round?) Through the wonders of the web, I was able to discover that these two girls – rhythmically named Mary and Carey – have been discussing this same matter on some far-off thread entitled 'Why I Still Love New York,' also frequented, coincidentally, by the Step On night's other male DJ, Dan Selzer. The web is really changing the way we get to eavesdrop on people, and the fact that nobody's diary is truly private any more may explain why people like Mary and Carey are so polite online. (I suspect it's just their way.) If you have ten minutes, do a 'find' for "Manchester" and you'll have a cute insight into the minds of young New York, Moz-obsessed nightclubbers.


"WAR IS..."

One of our own forum regulars, Michael C, who has who as an English Arsenal fan couldn't really lose in yesterday's game against France, just launched his own music company. The first release by the Brooklyn-based Deaf Dumb and Blind Communications is… a t-shirt. War Is Shit. (Far more effective an s-word than the one Boy George used in the Culture Club hit single of similar name, don't you think?) In English and Arabic. Only in olive green. You can buy it here.

The shirt is sold through Breakbeat Science, co-owned by another expat friend, DB. He's the one who was shafted to the tune of twelve grand by an ex-friend and partner Scotto, in the NASA Rewind Fiasco. DB's friends have set up a benefit event that will prove far more altruistic that last supposed Rave Reunion. It's called Payback and it's coming in July. Info imminently.



"THE MUSIC THEY CONSTANTLY PLAY"

And while I'm giving tips to friends, I had dinner last night with long-standing friend Rob Sacher who owns Luna Lounge, LunaSea Records and also Radio Indie Pop, "dedicated to bringing you a selection of melodic music written and performed predominately by independent label artists who do not receive commercial radio airplay." You can run Radio Indie Pop from this page, where you can also download it as a standalone application. The cool thing about the station is that you can scroll through the current playlist and thereby choose what you want to hear. Radio Indie Pop offers different strands of music on different days, working on the not entirely unreasonable notion that you don't want to hear the same music Monday mornings as you do on Saturday nights. Currently playing this Blue Monday: The Astrojet, Earnest, Hidden Cameras, the suitably football named Mexico 70, and at least one group I'm glad to have become acquainted with, The Dead Men.

Radio Indie Pop brings back to mind that infamous Joe Strummer statement from a Melody Maker interview in late 1976 that if The Clash got rich, "I'm not going to spend all my money on drugs. I'm going to start a radio station." Had he been starting out now, he wouldn't have needed to make that false promise, because it's so damn easy to run a radio station (and one that people can hear all over the world, even at their local wired-up coffee shop), almost any one with a CD collection and access to a server can set about it. (And yes, after Rob showed me the process, I'm tempted.) Then again, you could argue that it's precisely because there are so many outlets for underground music these days that we are absent the excitement of a Clash circa 1977. It's a paradox, isn't it?

2004 MUSINGS
JUNE 7-13: MP3s vs AIFF, Step on, June Hitlist, The Clash,
MAY 31-JUNE 6: Benzos/The Hong Kong/Home Video live, Tribute Bands, Lester Bangs, Glad All Over
MAY 24-30: The Clash, Fear Of A Black Planet, Marvin Gaye, Sandy Bull, Richard Pryor, Stoop Sale LPs, Michael Moore, Nat Hentoff
MAY 17-23: 5th Ave Street Fair, James, Surefire/The Go Station live, Crystal Palace
MAY 10-16: Radio 4 live, John Entwistle, Jeff Mills, Wine notes, Joy Division covers
APR 26-MAY 9: Twenty Twos, Morningwood, French Kicks, Ambulance Ltd all live, More Than Nets, Mod, Turning 40
APR 19-25: 5 Boroughs Rock, The Number 3 Bus, Orbital split, MC5 reform
APR 6-19: British Press Cuttings, More Than Nets, Art Rockers and Brit Packers
MAR 29-APRIL 5: The Rapture/BRMC/Stellastarr* live, The Chinese Beatles, Freddie Adu
MAR 22-28: Singapore Sling live, Kerry on a Snowboard, Pricks on Clits, Eddie Izzard, Who's Two
MAR 15-21: TV On The Radio live, Tracking Terror, Bloomberg's Education Bloc, The Homosexuals,
MAR 8-14: The Undertones live, Winemakers Week, Madrid Bombings, Just In Jest
MAR 1-7: Rhone-gazing, Pop Culture Quiz answers, Who's Hindsight, March Hitlist
FEB 16-29: Lad Lit, American Primaries, New York novels, Candi Staton, the Pop Culture Quiz, World Musics In Context
FEB 9-15: Grammy gripes, Spacemen 3, Replacements, Touching The Void, Moon myths, Voice Jazz & Pop Poll
FEB 2-FEB 8: Suicide Girls in the flesh, Johnny Rotten's a Celebrity...So's Jodie Marsh
JAN 26-FEB 1: Starsailor/Stellastarr*/Ambulance live, Tiswas, Wine Watch, Politics Watch
JAN 19-25: Brooklyn Nets? LCD Soundsystem, Iowa Primary, The Melody, TV On The Radio
JAN 12-18: The Unicorns live, New York w(h)ines, Sex In The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, S.U.V. Safety, Bands Reunited
JAN 5-11: Tony's Top 10s of 2003, Howard Dean and his credits, Mick Middles and Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones and Don Letts,

2003 MUSINGS:
DEC 22-JAN 4: Blind Boys of Alabama live, Joe Strummer, Year-End Lists, Finding Nemo, The Return of The King
DEC 15-21: Placebo live, Park Slope, Angels In America, Saddam's capture
DEC 8-14: The Rapture live, Guardian readers change lightbulbs, Keep iJamming! Thriving
DEC 1-7: Cabaret Laws, Ready Brek, Kinky Friedman, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jonathan Lethem, Julie Burchill, Blizzard running
NOV 17-30: Lost In Music, Lost In Translation, Neil Boland, Political Polls, Press Clips, Australian Whines
NOV 10-16: Ben E. King live, Hedonism readings, A***nal, Charts on Fire
NOV 3-9: Brother Bear, Oneida, P. Diddy, Steve Kember, Guy Fawkes, Iraq, the Marathon
OCT 27-NOV 2: CMJ Music Marathon report, NYC Running Marathon preview, Prey For Rock'n'Roll, Yellow Dog, Gen Wesley Clark, Halloween
OCT 20-26: Television Personalities, defending New York rockers, Bill Drummond Is Read
OCT 6-19: LCD Soundsystem live, Renewable Brooklyn review, Blind Acceptance is a sign...
SEP29-OCT 5: New York w(h)ines parts 1 and 2, Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium.
SEP 22-28: Atlantic Antic, Pacifists for War: General Wesley Clark and the Democratic Debate, Danny Tenaglia, Running Wild, Steppenwolf
SEP 15-21: Radio 4/DJ Vadim live, Manhattan Mondaze, Circle of Light, Renewable Brooklyn
SEP 8-14: Central Park Film Festival, Roger (Daltrey) and me, September 11 Revisited, The Raveonettes/Stellastarr* live, Recording Idiots of America,
SEP1-7: Film Festivities, Party Monster, Keith Moon RIP
AUG 25-31: Punk Planet, Carlsonics, Copyright Protection, Cline Zinfandel, BRMC
AUG 18-24: Black Out Blame Game, John Shuttleworth, British Music mags, Greg Palast, The Thrills live.
AUG 11-17: The New York blackout, Restaurant reviews, The Media as Watchdog, What I Bought On My Holidays
AUG 4-10: Step On again, Shaun W. Ryder, Jack magazine, the BBC, the Weather, Detroit Cobras, football and Rock'n'Roll
JULY 28-AUG 3: De La Guarda, The Rapture, Radio 4, Stellastarr*, Jodie Marsh, A Tale of Two Lions, Hedonism launch photos,
JULY 14-27: Manchester Move Memories, Hedonism is Here, Holiday postcard
JULY 7-13: Chuck Jackson live, Step On, Beverley Beat, British Way of Life
JUNE30-JULY6: David Beckham, Geoffrey Armes, Happy Mondays, Step On at Royale
JUNE 23-29: Ceasars/The Realistics live, weddings and anniversaries, Cabaret laws.
JUNE 9-23: Hell W10, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Nada Surf live, Field Day debacle
JUNE 2-8: Six Feet Under - Over, Field Day, Siren Fest, Crouching Tigher Hidden Cigarette
MAY 19-JUNE 1: Ian McCulloch live, New York's financial woes, Six Feet Under, Hedonism, Tommy Guerrero.
MAY 5-18: Live reviews of The Rapture, De La Soul, Carlsonics, Laptop, The Libertines, Echoboy, The Greenhornes; observations on Chris Coco/The Blue Room, The Apple Music Store, Alan Freed, Phil Spector, The Matrix Reloaded, Rare Earth, Tinnitus and Royale!
APRIL 28-MAY 4: Flaming Lips, Madonna, Bill Maher, The Dixie Chicks, the war
APRIL 21-27: Rotary Connection, War(n) Out, Cocaine Talk
APRIL 14-20: Belated London Musings on Death Disco and CPFC.
APRIL 7-13: London Musings: Madness, Inspiral Carpets, the Affair, the Palace, the Jam
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
MARCH 24-30: Six Feet Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE:


iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2004




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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

THE JUNE HITLIST:
12 featured albums, 15 more in rotation, three 12" singles and a handful of books.

FEATURED OREGON WHITE WINES:
Foris Vineyards Gewürztraminer and Witness Tree Pinot Blanc.

THE APRIL HITLIST:
MUSIC, BOOKS, FILMS, TV, BEER, WINE AND FOOD-JUICE

FEATURED WINE:
Aziano Chianti Classico 2001 .

THE UNDERTONES
Live in New York

THE MARCH HITLIST:
REISSUES REVISITED

STELLASTARR*
Live at Tiswas
Live at Bowery Ballroom
Live at Mercury Lounge
Live on the Hudson River
With Joe Strummer
Stellastarr* album review

SUICIDE GIRLS just wanna have fun

FEATURED WINE:
DOMAINE ROGER PERRIN
CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE 2001
Rhône, France,

THE FEBRUARY HITLIST:
Ten That Got Away

NEW YORK W(H)INES Part 2

THE BEST OF 2003
Tony's Top Tens

FEATURED WINE REGION:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES
updated and re-designed

The DECEMBER HITLIST
Bruce, Bowie, Iggy, Joe and Jodie...

From the Jamming! Archives
TONY PARSONS on BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, 1984

THE IJAMMING! HITLIST:
Global Techtronica

THE DECEMBER HITLIST Part 2
TRIPPED OUT BRITS: Nine albums of vaguely psychedelic bliss

FEATURED ALBUM:
Eargasm by Plump DJs

FEATURED WINE:
Paul Durdilly Les Grandes Coasses Beaujolais Nouveau 2003

THE DECEMBER HITLIST Part 1
BRITISH DANCE MUSIC:
Down But Not Out

THE OTHER NEW YORK MARATHON: 10 Live Reviews from the CMJ Music Marathon, October 2003

THE OCTOBER HITLIST:
Albums from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Iceland, Denmark, New York and New Jersey.

NEW YORK W(H)INES:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

DANCING IN THE DARK:
Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium

The biggest night out that you'll ever have in." Jockey Slut
"Hedonism will have you gripped from start to finish, guaranteed." International DJ


Tony Fletcher's debut novel HEDONISM is out now. For more information and to read excerpts, click here.

HEDONISM is available mail order in the USA from Barnes&Noble.com. It's available mail order in the UK from amazon.co.uk or musicroom.com.

American residents can also receive signed copies direct from iJamming! for just $20 including shipping and handling. Click on the PayPal button below. Please allow 7-10 days for delivery.