Monthly Archives: November 2013

Men who hate women

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Kings for a day, fools for a lifetime…

I’m not in the habit of giving virtual airtime to MRAs, and Return Of Kings stand out little, if at all from the breed. That said, masculinity is gender and as such they certainly fall within the aegis of that aspect of mbg‘s remit. I’m not gonna add much to Scarlet‘s insightful, impassioned piece; just a linguistic note to point out that the blog’s chosen appellation struck me as apt, and revealing in a way that the authors perhaps hadn’t intended

KING

noun

1.

a male sovereign or monarch; a man who holds by life tenure, and usually by hereditary right, the chief authority over a country and people…
‘Life tenure’‘hereditary right’. Sums up the reactionary values and petty motivations of damn near all of the so-called ‘men’s movement’, especially the toxic online rearguard that spares no opportunity to misrepresent, menace and malign intelligent and outspoken women and colonise their intellectual spaces.
John Stoltenberg once said ‘Pornography tells lies about women. But pornography tells the truth about men.’Return of Kings’ (the phrase, as much as the site’s content) does both, and as such presents a neat distillation of what ‘men’s rights’ are all about.
If you ever find yourself seduced by the myth (erpetrated by certain MRAs, conservatives, liberals, Trans*jacktivists et al) that Feminism is a ‘hate movement’ it’s perhaps worth logging onto sites like RoK to remind yourself what the real deal actually looks like. Compare and contrast, folks; compare and contrast….

Men will pause

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I would not want to be a teenage girl or a woman in her early twenties in America at the moment. I want to gather them all to me, sit them down and have a long talk about some of their male peers that seem to have developed a deep and abiding hatred for them.

I was wondering where this hatred came from. It seems to have its roots in feeling threatened by feminism, jealousy of the perceived power of women and what they see as female privilege, which is only society slowly rectifying itself towards giving women opportunities for equality.

These young men are also damaged by the way women are portrayed in violent porn and their own early failure with girls. Thereafter, in their onanistic minds all women are bitches, sluts, whores and their role as ‘men’ is to exact some kind of revenge, preferably hit and run…

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The greatest (2)

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…Volume two in an occasional series

Two (contrasting) offerings from Neneh Cherry: one of my favourite vocalists and lyricists. Her tone and delivery are unmistakeable, richly-soulful in a way that too many ‘Soul’ singers aren’t and she’s apt to switch between singing and rapping in a manner as organic as it is unpredictable. Like two of my other favourites, Seal and (Marillion‘s) Steve Hogarth, she plays fast and loose with rhythm around and against the backing track; teases raw poetry from unlikely word-choices.  Progressive might not be the first word to spring to mind when one thinks of Cherry‘s music, but her restless musical exploration spanning four decades has encompassed – and frequently blurred the divisions between – electro, trip-hop, soul, rock, folk and jazz styles, much as her mixed-parentage, itinerant lifestyle and multi-ethnic extended family challenges conventional notions of nationality. Hers is a musical melting pot to dip into again and again and continually discover new and fresh flavour combinations…

Move With Me

Think Twice (with Groove Armada)

Blood Test

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I took an HIV test yesterday. Not that I was seriously concerned I might have contracted the virus, mind: rather that I work for an HIV/AIDS organization, and a sister organization, as part of national HIV Testing Week, was utilizing our premises to offer instant antigen/antibody tests to clients and staff. Kinda weird in the former instance, since being HIV+ is a prerequisite for referral for treatment; but staff-wise it seemed like good form to – and be seen to – attend to one’s sexual health.

My ‘tester’ explained that which might once have been semi-taboo to voice, that as a ‘straight’, white man, the risk of my contracting HIV thru sex  was somewhat lower than it might be for a man indulging in regular homosexual relations.

One aspect of the testing procedure surprised me: I filled out a form with personal details prior to the blood test which included my sexual orientation; from which I could choose ‘straight’, ‘gay’. ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’, ‘Transgender (Male to Female), ‘Transgender (Female to Male), ‘other’. Perhaps you can guess from whence my surprise sprang? As something of a ‘gender sceptic’, I’m familiar with the line that ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ are discrete ‘boxes’ as it were. So goes popular, contemporary ‘queerthink’. Could it be that the UK’s preeminent (and admittedly gay-male-centric) HIV charity missed the memo or is their use of language deliberate and candid?

As it happens, I agree, to a point: both ‘cis’ and ‘trans*’ people can be attracted to either/both (biological) sexes and/or to folk presenting as one, other or both. But underlying that fact is the reason that sexual orientation is such a deal, even now, in terms of  personal identity. Andrea Dworkin delineated this so well in the ‘Law’ chapter of her magnum opus, Intercourse [1987](p. 185-211):

‘The laws regulating intercourse – prescribing how we must use each other (be used) as well as proscribing how we must not use each other – are supposed to protect the authentic nature of men and women. Men being fucked like women moves in an opposite direction … [t]he regulation of men by men in sex for the sake of upholding men as a class is the least recognized, least scrutinized aspect … of social control…’

During this chapter, the author also states ‘…[e]very detail of gender specificity was attended to in the Old Testament, including cross-dressing ‘A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garments; for whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto the Lord thy God…’

Dworkin remains on record as the least ‘transphobic’ of radical feminist thinkers; yet she clearly and succinctly apprehends the symbolic and real dichotomy between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ modes of attire/behaviour inherent in historical conceptions of gender: deeply-rooted (radical) correlations which are not easily dismissed or over-written by superficially-neutral jargon.  The inference I take from the previous quote is not that the consumerist-patriarchal monetization of gender-nonconformity is to be embraced (which can be discerned even in the presumably-positive notion of the ‘pink pound’, as well as the ‘Transsexual Empire‘ to borrow Janice Raymond‘s epithet) but, rather that in her radical vision, we might reach a point where ‘gender’ ceases to hold sway over our estimation of interpersonal – and specifically sexual – relations.

Until that day arrives, ‘gender’ and sexuality truly cannot be conceived as being entirely separate aspects of our malleable, shifting sense of human identity…

“When the environment makes gender salient, there is a ripple effect on the mind. We start to think of ourselves in terms of our gender, and stereotypes and social expectations become more prominent in the mind. This can change self-perception, alter interests, debilitate or enhance ability, and trigger unintentional discrimination. In other words, the social context influences who you are, how you think and what you do.”

Cordelia Fine (Delusions of Gender…, [2010])…

…even as living in the relatively-liberal West – and especially here in the city of Brighton, UK – the aggressive hetero-normativity and entrenched (Judeo-Chistian-Islamic) conservatism of most human cultures is easily-forgotten, or at least ignored. As Stephen Fry reminded us in his recent TV documentary, this is something of a luxury: in a gender-free, more sane world it ought not to be.

And to return in the end to the matter of HIV testing, if you or any of your loved ones are concerned about the risk of HIV infection, it’s HIV Testing Week until November 29: you can find information here and here.

3rd time lucky: Pripyatic

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Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery has a new instrumental side project The Ghosts of Pripyat scheduled to be released in September of next year. It’s his first solo outing proper after a couple ‘false starts’…

‘I had an offer to record a solo album from EMI during the recording of Misplaced Childhood in 1985. However it led to a strong disagreement within the band and the idea was shelved. While recording the Brave album at Miles Copeland’s chateau in France I was offered a deal to make an instrumental album for his “No Speak” label, however, I decided to record the first Wishing Tree album instead. Fast forward another twenty years and I’m invited to play at the annual Plovdiv guitar festival in October 2013. Having committed to the festival it left me with the small problem of what to play for an hour. “Blues in A” just wasn’t going to cut it. I had a few strong ideas and got together for a couple of writing sessions with my good friend and fellow guitarist Dave Foster. Dave and I have a great musical chemistry which brought forth a lot of amazing music. After a couple of days rehearsal with the fantastic rhythm section of Leon Parr and Yatim Halimi I realised this was going to be something really special. The live album and video from the performance gives you an idea of where the finished album, “The Ghosts of Pripyat”, will go…’

He’s financing the release via Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding platform that so resembles Marillion‘s long-established business MO and it surpassed its (modest) funding target on launch day (yesterday and also the man’s birthday). But don’t that let it stop you from chipping in if you like what you hear…

Unrestrained by the structural demands of Marillion‘s familiar songwriting style, Rothery‘s playing takes on a different dynamic; a melodic lead that is by turns less fiery and more richly-realised . The above montage of clips evidences a sound somewhat removed from his day job, though fans of that band might notice passing similarities to past instrumental breaks such as The Opium Den and Cathedral Wall. The harmonic choices and elegant phrasing are identifiably Rothers yet… different. Bold, languid and, dare one say, a little indulgent. White Pass (below) begins with chords that faintly remind of Jordan Rudess‘ opening to the Someone Like Him section of Dream Theater‘s Octavarium; noodles gently awhile before subtly gaining momentum.

It’s plaintive and gently compelling, and whilst I could have survived with a couple minutes less noodling in the early part of the song it effectively showcases the tasteful mastery of mood that Rothery brings to the table at The Racket Club. If I have one overarching criticism it’s that the ululating crescendo never really reaches a satisfying climax: it just kinda peters out awkwardly and abruptly; the ‘great chemistry’ Rothers alludes to (above) failing to coalesce into a stable musical molecule.

So this is not about tight, technically-adventurous musical showmanship so much as carefree, melodic rambling to stir the soul. In a way, it falls between two stools; insofar as it’s a bit too interesting to serve as ambient chill-out fare, whilst not demonstrating the full-blooded chops that will start the virtuoso-twitchers stroking their beards in wonderment. It possesses a little of the gently psychedelic quality of early Porcupine Tree, something that Rothery‘s Marillion bandmate, bassist Pete Trewavas explores with his Edison’s Children project.

Speaking of Mr Trewavas, and full-blooded chops; Transatlantic (his collaboration with Mike Portnoy [Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Flying Colors], Roine Stolt [Flower Kings, Kaipa] and Neal Morse [Spock’s Beard, Flying Colors]) are set shortly to unleash their forth studio project, Kaleidoscope upon the world . The pre-order opens on December 10.

So, a good time to be a Marillion fan and/or an aficianado of what was once dubbed ‘underground music’. Underappreciated? Maybe. Priapic, sorry Pripyatic? Sure. But go knock yourselves out…

Got that covered – Aaron o’Keefe edition

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Unless you’re a pop megastar or an outspoken feminist, sifting and junking unedifying email isn’t really that big a deal.

So sign up for a bunch of stuff; just dive in. Sure, you might find yourself deluged with bunch of crap stuff, but then once in a while you’ll stumble across something that just blows you away, like this did me:

Aaron o’Keefe‘s just a regular guy: a music tutor. But when his students are tackling tunes like this – and with such applomb – he’s obviously doing something right. I think I actually prefer this to the original. I went straight back to Ӕnima after hearing this and it’s ok – good actually – but Tool never really happened for me until it put out Lateralus. Maynard Keenan is an amazing singer (see below) and it takes some balls (or maybe just childish fearlessness) to step into his shoes. This little girl is just fantastic, and the young guy on drums ain’t no slouch, either (check out those drum signatures [4.31-5.06]). Don’t let X-Factor/BGT get you down: not everyone’s chasing the money and/or vacuous adulation. For many it’s all about the art…

I likely wouldn’t have come across this if not for Jason Hirshhorn’s Media ReDEFined, along with Upworthy, GenderTrender and The Lefsetz Letter they’re my top go-to sites for current affairs stuff. Like I said up top, trawl the net and if something clicks, click: there are enough diamonds in the rough for everyone.

For Tool newbies, here’s the original recording from Ӕnima:

…and my favourite Keenan vocal performance, Wings For Marie Pts 1 and 2:

Enjoy! 🙂

The greatest…

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One last post before bed…

Posted a reply on a music forum a while back: ‘Top 10 Songs… Ever!

Ever?! Just 10?! As if!!

But hell, why not have a go? So in no particular order and to no-one’s schedule but my own I’m gonna publish that list a song or two at a time, plus any others that might have made it on a different day or in a different mood: just songs that really hit me where it matters and have had me reaching for the repeat button. I’ve played all of these over and over and they never fail to deliver…

Reflektor – Arcade Fire

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Check out this blog, music fans: covers a wide mix of genres and provides concise, pithy reviews that capture the flavour and fan-appeal of the music rather than getting bogged down in muso-only technicalities or NME/broadheet-style I’m-too-coolness…

Lachlan J. Faces The Music

Released 28th October on Merge Records

Rock/ Alternative/ Experimental

ArcadeFireReflektor

Darlings of the experimental/alternative/hipster scene Arcade Fire are back with a fourth record. Two discs full of pumping bass, distortion, disdain, and cleverly balanced pop and noise with a large debt owing to the late seventies and early eighties work of David Bowie; pretty much exactly what I was expecting when I came into this record really. I’m certainly not one to believe the hype when it comes to this sort of artistic abstraction (as you may well know), but I’ve got to say that with Reflektor I was actually rather much further away from disappointed then I anticipated.

In fact, coming into with such a wary feeling due to being conned by so many similar bands previous I was actually pleasantly surprised by the intelligence that’s gone into this piece of work and the lack of pretentious pandering. The…

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