Listen With Prejudice – #41 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – Album Review

#41 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Before: Perhaps overworthy mild angsters
This is really something. Starts off sounding like Badly Drawn Boy then sounds like no one else, but instantly familiar. Some 70s, some 80s, 90s, 00s and right now. All of it. We go back to childhood, we see relationships now, growing up, adolencence, going back again. We have prisons of the mind and the environment. An environment of sprawl, where potential is stifled. Often the music sounds purposefully held back, like the neighbourhood itself, as if it is recorded right there in a garage, next door neighbour’s curtains twitching. Perhaps overlong at one hour but the tempo changes, the lead vocalist changes, the guitar based sound turns to electronica with keeping somehow a sustained overall feel. A concept album that never sounds forced but natural, life’s moments set within a perhaps unatural setting for human life. Their most accessible album and their best yet.
After: Rich, genuine; modern life sealed within an album or suburb


Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.


Listen With Prejudice – #42 Guns ‘n’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction – Album Review

#42 Guns ‘n’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

Before: Big hair, big noise, big hits

Like being forced to take too much coke and then licked and then drooled on with Coca-Cola and then having cheap bourbon poured in your ears and up your nose and being left out to dry in some west coast hell. Sung by Cartman from South Park. A few moments of relief in some of the intros before the insane zipping up and unzipping continues. I suspect the best thing is the drumming. The rest is – what? – empty energy.

After: 80s horrorshow

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Journal 3 June 2013

The day is winding down, the sun setting soon. It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

Dreamt I took out anger by knocking down the outer bricks of a strong wall, blow after blow after blow with the sides of my fists. It didn’t hurt. Not sure anything was different afterwards but it felt good, satisfying. In dreamland.

Got up at 0530 and sat. The mind unsettled, darting here and there. Fizzy. Like it’s over stimulated from yesterday’s event. Very soon, right wrist shaking, then intense shaking of head and the torso twisting left and right, faster faster to some kind of climax, then slowed right down. By the end of 45 mins, the mind was much quieter. Some fatigue by the end of it and I laid down a while, feeling the tired areas where the refreshment of sleep hadn’t touched.

Listened to a bit of music while getting ready for work, including the postman in the sand song, here turned into a surf video:

At work, the reorganisation of the vault continued, with the help of an ex student who was volunteering in the foundation this morning.

Lunch in the sun with a staff member who is leaving this summer, another yogi.

Then a walk. Bluebells fading out, their leaves flopped to the earth, superseded by the ancient and mighty ferns. Then when the view opened out, the yellow on yellow of rape in full flower, behind liquorice beech trees.

Why is ‘liquorice’ liquor and ice?

Surprise visit from C who popped in after dropping a birthday gift off for a friend. Some hugs and smiles before post lunch post walk napping.

Talking of smiles, a friend finished her video project. People of 37 countries, young and old, smiling. That’s it. As she puts it:

Everyone can be a small stepping stone towards a place of compassion and kindness

I’m at 4:21, in a bobble hat, palms together. Many friends are in it, including Doug looking outstandingly hippyish at 1:21. With a goat on his lap why not. I smiled throughout. It’s contagious.

Carrying On A Smile from Carrying On A Smile on Vimeo.

My laptop screen says ‘Godammit’ under the big ‘SMILE’ but don’t tell anyone.

In the evening: Iyangar Yoga class with Sandy Bell in Compton. It’s a really good class with about 10 of us, who have been stretching together for some years for the most part. Lots of arm, shoulder, wrist releases today, along with the usual forward bend emphasis, which is my tightest direction but I appreciate it. I touch places deep inside during Iyengar yoga. I call it yoga with no cheating. With alignment everything stretches in the way it should, safely yet extensively, and maybe you don’t get so far in the pose but it’s done right.

The drive on the way back from yoga is always special, totally there with the car, the road, the music. Today with the sun through the trees as I climbed from the Itchen up onto the open downs, taking the racing line through the bends.

There it is, the sun now set and I’m soon into bed.

Lyric of the Day: Northern Industrial Town by Billy Bragg


It’s just a northern industrial town
The front doors of the houses open into the street
There’s no room for front gardens, just a two-up, two-down
In a northern industrial town

And you can see the green hills ‘cross the rooftops
And a fresher wind blows past the end of our block
In the evenings the mist comes rolling on down
Into a northern industrial town

And there’s only two teams in this town
And you must follow one or the other
Let us win, let them lose, not the other way round
In a northern industrial town

And the street lights look pretty and bright
From the tops of the hills that rise dark in the night
If it weren’t for the rain you might never come down
To your northern industrial town

And on payday they tear the place down
With a pint in your hand and a bash ’em out band
Sure they’d dance to the rhythm of the rain falling down
In a northern industrial town

And there’s plenty of artists around
Painters steal cars, poets nick guitars
‘Cos we’re out of the black and we’re into the red
So give us this day our daily bread
In a northern industrial town

But it’s not Leeds or Manchester
Liverpool, Sheffield, nor Glasgow
It’s not Newcastle-on-Tyne. It’s Belfast
It’s just a northern industrial town

Merry Christmas, war is over
In a northern industrial town

Words & Music : Billy Bragg

Listen With Prejudice – #44 Nirvana – In Utero – Album Review

#44 Nirvana – In Utero

Before: Infamous grunge before they were really big.

Quiet-loud-quiet-loud but mainly just loud manic depressive grungyness. It felt like being mini tazered in both ears, a zapping shock connecting live through the head. Or a scuzzy cauldron of lava being rained on hard, in Seattle, fizzing and spitting, burning. Much shouting, screaming, wailing, under the supremely ironic name Nirvana. Masterful drumming throughout, somehow managing to sound relaxed through the wall of noise intensity. There are tender moments, but mostly there’s not, just a lot of heavy guitar and bonus feedback. Vocals like a pack of sandpaper, different grades of rough and broken, voicing variations of self and society-hatred, although most of the time I had no idea what was being sung. Does it help to know? Eating cancer was mentioned. Surprisingly punk in places and a sublime passage toward the end of Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.

After: Failed electroshock treatment with noisy ironic despair.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #45 REM – Automatic For The People – Album Review

#45 REM – Automatic For The People

Before: Likeable singles, before they went bland

Chamberpop Americana, with any indie creases of old ironed out. The album is very much a CD album, polished to within an inch of its digital life, the crystalline production making the sound see-through and brittle. Much like the lead vocals although they have some heart. Perfect playing and a sense of middle of the road blandness, the contrived oddity of some of the lyrics not helping much. But there is splendid atmosphere in places, and beauty and humour, and a breakfast mess. Often sounding ploddy and a little insipid. Yes, I believe they put a man on the moon, no I don’t believe there’s nothing up his sleeve. I’m not sure where this leaves me.

After: They were already quite bland. A kind of bland perfection.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #46 U2 – Achtung Baby – Album Review

#46 U2 – Achtung Baby

Before: Annoying jangle rock ‘n’ pop and pretentious hoo-ha.

U2 reinventing themselves desperately. Hard to listen to. Persevered, wanting to hit stop pretty much every second. The reinvention leads to a clutter of ideas piling on top of each other until the thing seems about to topple over itself in a silly heap. Each lyric seems like a cliche. Each strum of the guitar aches my gums. I don’t like it. Except for So Cruel, perhaps, at a stretch. Horrible title.

After: Annoying jangle rock with added electronic pants. With poo in.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #47 Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures – Album Review

#47 Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures


Before: Rainy jerky doomsters with one actual tune, intense and a bit scary


Like a British The Doors, somehow, but glomier, vocals deep and distressed. Angualr rhythms, strange sound effects, throbbing driving bass driving, and those druggy, foresty English guitars. A band on the edge of something, no one is sure what, but it probably isn’t going to be pretty, and improbably a bit beautiful. Shambolic preciceness abounds.


After: The north of England through and through. Although Curtis does sound like he’s trying to be a bit American. One long demo?


Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #48 Led Zepellin – Led Zepellin – Album Review

#48 Led Zepellin – Led Zepellin


Before: Hard rock, long hair, darkness, riffs


Some kind of rock blues (soap) opera. Lyrics are all baby baby baby pining and whining. Amazing drumming backing a tight band playing closely together. Guitar echoing the vocals, and the riffs another voice itself. Heavy… early heavy metal with a psychedelic edge. The 70s in the 60s.


After: Tight. Mighty riffs of guitar and voice


Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #49 Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation – Album Review

Before: Dreary grungers, no tunes.

Nightmare Nation? Loud. Fast. Aggressive. Messed up guitars, vocals, lyrics, the occasional melodic elements a relief from the onslaught. Conjured some sort of hellish future city with monsters nearby in the dark. I managed to listen to it all, except for Trilogy which apparently lasts for ever.

After: Fast grungers, no tunes.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.

Listen With Prejudice – #50 White Stripes – Elephant – Album Review

Before: Hip comicbook thump/guitar merchants with a compelling attitude

Minimalist banging with unpredictable fuzzy buzzy guitars. Passionate voices defiant and vulnerable, honest and not without humour. It’s surprisingly tender at times, before second half of the album belters kick in. Hard to know how serious it all is; it seems sincere but an ironic twist runs deep. Often I found myself smiling; the spontaneity of the guitars almost comical, the sound produced not quite like anything else I’ve heard. Loudness is tempered by the sparcity of instruments and production. A blues punk mix somewhere in a lost American garage.

After: More varity than expected, and more fun, despite the intensity.

Counting down the Top 50 over at Best Ever Albums. They’ve taken 6,600 greatest album charts and compiled them into an overall chart.


The beginning of one of my favourite months of the year.

Evening at Chithurst monastery with two friends for the dhamma talk which follows some chanting (in English tonight) and forty minutes quiet sitting. Probably about fifty lay people and twenty monks. The talk was by the Abbott, some pointers for meditation practice. He always surprises me with his worldliness, speaking of browsing the internet, walking through London. A monk’s life is not entirely how I imagine. I get distracted a little from the talk by the monk’s heads. They fascinate me, their shape and hairlessness.

Afternoon at home. Made another intros video. That’s musical intros not dating intros. Discovered that youtube let it be if you use less than 30 seconds of a song, and anything over that gets picked up by their musical analysis algorithms and a copyright notice is given. They seem to let that slide to a large extent too, saying there is a claim but they will allow the video and that they might put an add next to the video. This is just a download link to iTunes. I’m enjoying selecting the music, discounting anything with vocals or voice samples in the intro, and doing it letter by letter. Today artists beginning with D.

This morning hiking with Roland who is visiting Brockwood for a little while. We drove to West Meon then hiked along the old railway then up to Old Winchester Hill. Our usual route. Chatting about this and that, seriously and light heartedly. Usually we are talking about women by the time we reach the top of the hill. After a break, we posed for photos up on the old hill fort.



Alarm is set for 0630. Want to try a regular wake up time now that it’s only getting a little light around then. Starting an Iyengar home course – more about which soon.


20 Years Ago: Das EFX – They want EFX

First in a new series highlighting music from 20 years ago.

First up, Das EFX with They want EFX from the debut album Dead Serious. Crazy lyrics, bonkers delivery, the funkiest samples. In the sewers. Great!

Bum stiggedy bum stiggedy bum, hon, I got the old pa-rum-pum-pum-pum 
But I can fe-fi-fo-fum, diddly-bum, here I come 
So peter piper, I'm hyper than pinochio's nose 
I'm the supercalafragilistic tic-tac pro 
I gave my oopsy, daisy, now you've got the crazy 
Crazy with the books, googley-goo where's the gravy 
So one two, unbuckle my, um shoe 
Yabba doo, hippity-hoo, crack a brew 
So trick or treat, smell my feet, yup I drippedy-dropped a hit 
So books get on your mark and spark that old censorship 
Drats and double drats, I smiggedy-smacked some whiz kids 
The boogedy-woogedly brooklyn boy's about to get his, dig 
My waist bone's connected to my hip bone 
My hip bone's connected to my thigh bone 
My thigh bone's connected to my knee bone 
My knee bone's connected to my hardy-har-har-har 
The jibbedy-jabber jaw ja-jabbing at your funny bone, um 
Skip the ovaltine, I'd rather have a honeycomb 
Or preferably the sesame, let's spiggedy-spark the blunts, um 
Dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun 

They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
Snap a neck for some live efx 

Well I'll be darned, shiver me timbers, yo head for the hills 
I picked a weeping willow, and a daffodil 
So back up bucko or I'll pulverize mcgruff 
'cause this little piggy gets busy and stuff 
Arrivederci, heavens to mercy, honky tonk I get swift 
I caught a snuffleufagus and smoked a boogaloo spliff 
I got the nooks, the cranies, the nitty gritty fodey-doe 
All aboard, cast away, hey where's my boogaloo? 
Oh I'm steaming, agony 
Why's everybody always picking on me 
They call me puddin' tane, and rap's my game 
You ask me again and I'll t-tell you the same 
'cause I'm the vulgar vegemintarian, so stick 'em up freeze 
So no park sausages, mom, please 
A-blitz shoots the breeze, twiddly-dee shoots his lip 
Crazy dazy shot the sheriff, yup and I shot the gift 
And that's pretty sneaky, sis oh yep 
I got my socks off, my rocks off, my nestle's cup of cocoa 
Holly hobby tried to slob me, tried to rob me silly stunt 
Diggedy-dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun 

They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
Snap a neck for some live efx 

Yahoo, hidee-ho yup I'm coming around the stretch 
So here fido boy, fetch, boy, fetch 
I got the rope-a-dope a slippery choker, look at me get raw 
And I'm the hickory-dickory top of morning boogoloo big jaw 
With the yippedy zippedy winnie the pooh bad boy blue, 
Yo crazy got the gusto, what up, I swing that too 
So nincompoop give a hoot and stomp a troop without a strain 
Like roscoe b. coltrane 
I spiggedy-spark a spiff and give a twist like chubby checker 
I take my froot loops with two scoops, make it double decker 
Oh vince, the baby come to papa duke 
A babaloo, ooh, a babaloo boogedy boo 
I went from gucci to stussy, to fliggedy-flam a groupie 
To zsa zsa, to yibbedy-yabba dabba hoochie koochie 
Tally ho i-i'll take my stove top instead of potatoes, so 
Maybe I'll shoot 'em now, nope maybe I'll shoot 'em later, yep 
I used to have a dog and bingo was his name oh, so uh 
B - I - n - g - o-oh 
You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, hon, so uh 
Dun dun dun dun dun, dun dun 

They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
They want efx, some live efx 
Snap a neck for some live efx

Mike D and Ad-Rock on MCA

Or I should say Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz on Adam Yauch…

Mike D:

“He had us fooled in the most beautiful way,” Michael Diamond said of Adam Yauch, his friend and fellow Beastie Boy for more than 30 years, describing the latter’s “incredible optimism” during his three-year battle with cancer. “I believed, up to last week, that Adam was somehow coming back,” Diamond confessed, in a long, frank interview after Yauch’s death on May 4th. “But I wouldn’t trade that optimism for anything,” he added quickly, sitting in the kitchen of his Brooklyn home, only six blocks from the house where Yauch grew up. “Because  the other option is no fun.”

Did Yauch always have a fighter’s spirit?
He had this tenacity and faith before he discovered Buddhism. His mom said that was already there. No matter how straight-up nuts an idea was, he had the ability to follow through on things he believed in. Like the cover of Paul’s Boutique: “A 360-degree photo? You can’t have a camera spin around.” He researched it and found one. It was an innate thing for him.

As a rapper, Yauch had a unique, raspy baritone. He sounded more like a soul singer.
Even when we were doing our first hip-hop records, when we were 19 and 20, he sounded like a gruff 40-year-old. He was the Bobby Womack of rap.

Yauch was a gifted MC. It was his flow on things, rather than specific lyrics, that first blew Adam [Horovitz] and I away. Early on, we were in the studio, amazed by how Yauch made it seem so effortless. Horovitz and I were maybe a little jealous. And Rick [Rubin] said to me, “No, this is good. This is where Yauch is at. You sound like you’re working hard. You’re the working rapper. [Laughs] I’m still not sure what to take away from that.

What were your first impressions of Yauch when you met as teenagers?
Adam taught me the ropes – how to make my own [punk-band] badges, how to fake [hand] stamps to get into shows. And after he, [original Beastie Boys guitarist] John Barry and I saw Black Flag at the Peppermint Lounge, Yauch said, “We’re starting a band, and you two guys are in it.” It was the same energy that enabled him to start his film company, Oscilloscope – the ability to will something to happen.

What’s an example of that on Licensed to Ill?
We were playing around with this 808 drum machine. We had this beat, and Yauch said, “I’d like to hear what it would sound like backwards.” Run from Run-D.M.C. was there, and he was like, “Man, this is crazy.” But Yauch recorded this beat, bounced it to another tape, flipped it around – this is pre-digital sampling – and bounced it back to the multi-track tape. The reversed beat basically became “Paul Revere.” Yauch saw this thing we couldn’t see – and he killed it.

He talked about experimenting with acid during the time of Paul’s Boutique.
Yauch was starting this inward mind journey. We were layering a lot of samples on top of each other, and Yauch was definitely pushing that. The acid experience gave him the ability to see, “Wow, this is great – press ‘play’ on everything at the same time.” Yauch was great at lacking fear.

Did his personality change after he became a Buddhist?
He abandoned the band for months in the winter to go snowboarding, on this very serious level. Then it wasn’t snowboarding. He would disappear for two months of teaching by his Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. He gradually incorporated that into the music. He was the first to realize we had this soapbox, and we needed to do something with it.

But he was never dogmatic about it. He’d say, “You should see these monks. They love playing practical jokes on each other.” When we were smashing cars in the “Sabotage” video, it was the same thing. We just did it with mustaches and wigs.

How much music did you make at your final recording session with him last fall?
Adam instigated it. It could only come from him, in terms of where he was at with treatment. It was stuff we had written or demo-ed, and there were new ideas. He wasn’t sure he was able to do vocals. But after a bit, we ended up doing them. And he was fine. It was a way for him to say, “Yeah, I’m doing it.”

Can you imagine making music without him?
I can see making music. I don’t know about a band format. But Yauch would genuinely want us to try whatever crazy thing we wanted but never got around to.



“I’m totally numb,” Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys said bluntly, in his only interview following the death on May 4th of his bandmate Adam Yauch. Sitting in the New York office of the Beasties’ publicist, only 10 days after Yauch’s passing, Horovitz fondly recalled their lifetime together in punk, hip-hop and hijinks. He also struggled to describe his feelings after his friend’s death and admitted that healing was slow in coming. “My wife is like, ‘I want to make sure you’re getting it out.’ But then I’m walking the dog and I’ll start crying on the street.” Horovitz shook his head wearily. “It’s pretty fucking crazy.”

Yauch was the oldest of the Beastie Boys. Was he a leader in the early days?
Yauch was in charge. He was smarter, more organized. In a group of friends, you all come up with stupid shit to do. But you never do it. With Yauch, it got done. He had that extra drive to see things through. We each had our roles. One of his was the make-it-happen person.

I’d be like, “We should take these pictures where we’re dressed as undercover cops. That would be funny.” But Adam was really into movies. So we made a whole video of that [“Sabotage”]. It wasn’t just a nice picture for us to have.

What was Yauch’s musical role in the Beastie Boys?
He was a really good bass player. He loved Daryl [Jennifer] of the Bad Brains. And he could sound like that. When we met [producer-musician] Mark Nishita, he and Adam would talk all this musical shit: “You should go up a fifth here.” I’d be like, “Tell me where to put my fingers, and I’ll play that for four minutes.”

Adam was the Techno Wiz – that’s what me, Mike and Rick [Rubin] called him. I went to his apartment in Brooklyn once. He had a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and he had strung the tape all over the place – through the kitchen, around chairs. He was cutting up this Led Zeppelin beat, playing it over and over. I was like, “How did you figure that out?” He said, “I heard Sly Stone did that.”

How did you and Mike write with Yauch? Who did what?
When the shit hit the fan, after Licensed to Ill, we started having arguments: “I wrote 37 percent of this song.” “These 16 lines are mine.” We decided none of that mattered. From that day on, everything was split three ways. Whatever it was, whoever did what, we all got the credit. Except we had veto power. If you really hated something, you could be, “That can’t happen.”

Did you ever veto a Yauch idea?
He wanted the cover of Ill Communication to be this tree painting. It’s actually on the inside [of the CD booklet]. I said, “Anything is better than that tree.” He called veto on Mike and me when we did [2007’s] The Mix-Up. He said, “It has to be instrumental.” We were like, “Let’s try some vocals.” “No, it has to be instrumental.”

Can you recall a killer song or verbal lick Yauch wrote that just knocked you out?
When we were in Los Angeles, doing Paul’s Boutique, he got this crazy apartment in Koreatown. And he made “A Year and a Day.” What happened to the three of us together and all that crap? But I heard that track, and it was some heavy shit. He rapped his ass off. Adam bought a jet pilot’s helmet, rigged it with a microphone and recorded the song wearing that helmet.

How did you deal with the change in his writing, after he became a Buddhist?
His lyrics became simple ideas about love and non-violence. It was a struggle for Adam to write those things. Basic feelings come off as very Hallmark. But we went through that change together. I wrote the lyrics for the song “Gratitude” [on Check Your Head], and Adam was like, “I really like that.” It made me happy and proud that I had made him happy.

What was your reaction when he told you he had cancer?
He said, “I’m gonna be okay.” He’s been right about most shit so far. So I believe him. You would get swept up in his excitement and positivity. We recorded a few months ago. It wasn’t any different from before. We spent more time making fart jokes and ordering food, which was true to form. That’s why it always took so long for us to put records out.

Did the comfort he took in Buddhism help you deal with his illness and passing?
I don’t believe Adam was afraid. Bummed out, yeah. But I can’t think when I ever saw him afraid. We got jumped in Brooklyn one time, so we’ve been afraid in that sense. But, man, he hadn’t been afraid in a long time. That gives me peace.

Earworm: Tainted Love by Soft Cell

I’d like to hear the other side of the story

Sometimes I feel I’ve got to
Run away I’ve got to
Get away
From the pain that you drive into the heart of me
The love we share
Seems to go nowhere
And I’ve lost my light
For I toss and turn I can’t sleep at night

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I’ll run from you
This tainted love you’ve given
I give you all a boy could give you
Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
Oh…tainted love
Tainted love

Now I know I’ve got to
Run away I’ve got to
Get away
You don’t really want IT any more from me
To make things right
You need someone to hold you tight
And you’LL think love is to pray
But I’m sorry I don’t pray that way


Don’t touch me please
I cannot stand the way you tease
I love you though you hurt me so
Now I’m going to pack my things and go
Tainted love, tainted love (x2)
Touch me baby, tainted love (x2)
Tainted love (x3)

And the original, preferred version.

Tunguska by Fanfarlo

I came across Fanfarlo today via Word magazine’s cover disc. In this song they are singing about mysterious event in 1908 that destroyed 80 million trees in Siberia with a force 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. More songs about forests, I say!

An account of the event by a tribal child:

We had a hut by the river with my brother Chekaren. We were sleeping. Suddenly we both woke up at the same time. Somebody shoved us. We heard whistling and felt strong wind. Chekaren said, ‘Can you hear all those birds flying overhead?’ We were both in the hut, couldn’t see what was going on outside. Suddenly, I got shoved again, this time so hard I fell into the fire. I got scared. Chekaren got scared too. We started crying out for father, mother, brother, but no one answered. There was noise beyond the hut, we could hear trees falling down. Chekaren and I got out of our sleeping bags and wanted to run out, but then the thunder struck. This was the first thunder. The Earth began to move and rock, wind hit our hut and knocked it over. My body was pushed down by sticks, but my head was in the clear. Then I saw a wonder: trees were falling, the branches were on fire, it became mighty bright, how can I say this, as if there was a second sun, my eyes were hurting, I even closed them. It was like what the Russians call lightning. And immediately there was a loud thunderclap. This was the second thunder. The morning was sunny, there were no clouds, our Sun was shining brightly as usual, and suddenly there came a second one!

Chekaren and I had some difficulty getting out from under the remains of our hut. Then we saw that above, but in a different place, there was another flash, and loud thunder came. This was the third thunder strike. Wind came again, knocked us off our feet, struck against the fallen trees.

We looked at the fallen trees, watched the tree tops get snapped off, watched the fires. Suddenly Chekaren yelled ‘Look up’ and pointed with his hand. I looked there and saw another flash, and it made another thunder. But the noise was less than before. This was the fourth strike, like normal thunder.
Now I remember well there was also one more thunder strike, but it was small, and somewhere far away, where the Sun goes to sleep.

Whitney Houston’s Death and the Music Industry

As I’m writing this, Twitter, which is the ideal medium for bogus admiration and fake indignation, is up in arms over Sony raising the price of a Whitney Houston compilation only 24 hours after her death. … In cases like this the business simply follows the public mood, which is allegedly grief-stricken but really ready to shop. … The week before the artist died there were lots of members of the public who didn’t appear to give a fig about her work but now, having been tenderised by 24 hours of throbbing news coverage, decide that they really can’t do without it. … At the same time the newspapers and the TV channels go into the sort of frothing overdrive that can’t be justified as news coverage and the producers of the Grammys reorganise the running order so that LL Cool J can go on first and lead a prayer to “our fallen sister”. All these people do it because it sells papers or puts bums on sofas. … These are all forms of exploitation dressed up as tribute. … Nothing improves an artist’s reputation half as much as death, and that improvement is often expressed in pecuniary terms. I refer you to the wise words of Colonel Tom Parker on hearing news of Elvis Presley’s death: “This changes nothing.” Well, actually, it did change something. Elvis sold more records dead than alive, and he did it thanks to the very morbid interest that people denounce the record industry for feeding.

~ David Hepworth in the perennially excellent The Word magazine