category: Media

Jan 2012

You tell ’em, Vincent

Just a short one this, the representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission (EC) and the European Central Bank (ECB) – collectively known as “the troika” – completed their latest quarterly review of the Irish austerity programme today. As I mentioned in a recent post, they were in Dublin to check up on the Irish government… making sure our elected representatives are doing as they’re told.

Vincent Browne

Give them the eye Vincent!

And it turns out the review was a positive one. We’re being good little girls and boys here in Ireland. We’re pouring the wealth of the nation into the European banking system as per instruction. We’re doing this because a small number of private investors and banks made stupid decisions a few years ago. It makes absolutely no sense unless you view it as grand larceny. Inevitably there’ll be someone (as we’ll see in the video) who will defend this process by babbling about “stability” and the costs of not acting outweighing the benefits.

But this response is ultimately self-defeating – well, it is when it comes from a top official at the ECB. Because inherent in that response is an admission that the international financial system is required to engage in grand larceny in order to maintain stability. Which makes the system completely unfit for purpose.

Anyway, having carried out the latest review, spokesmen for each member of the troika held a press conference in Dublin today. Istvan Szekely of the EC, Klaus Masuch of the ECB and Craig Beaumont of the IMF sat down and faced the Irish media. It’s the kind of event that generally gets forgotten as soon as it’s over because it tends to be little more than a prepared statement followed by a handful of safe questions, lobbed softly at the participants and deftly dismissed with bland sound-bites. Today’s press conference was slightly different though, thanks to the presence of Vincent Browne; perhaps the only voice of righteous outrage we have left in Irish public life. He’s truly a national treasure; though not in the safe, comfortable manner that phrase is often used. The years have not diminished his passion and he remains a genuine firebrand.

Anyway, he didn’t get a satisfactory response to his question; merely the aforementioned vague babbling about stability and costs versus benefits. But he nonetheless made his point, and I’m bloody glad that he did.

The video I’ve included here only offers an edited version of the press conference (the entire thing can be viewed on the RTÉ website – in which case, the Vincent Browne question begins at 18mins) so I should add a little context… the previous question asked the troika representatives how they perceived the Irish attitude towards them and the “bail-out” process. Klaus Masuch of the ECB jokingly commented on how well-informed his taxi-driver seemed to be on complex economic matters (we were left to guess at the kind of ear-bashing he received during his trip from the airport to the Merrion Hotel). Browne, as you will see if you jump to 6:25 in the embedded video, followed up on this:

Almost the entire exchange between Browne and Masuch can be viewed in that edit, though a few seconds of exasperation from Vincent does get cut from the end of the segment.

1 comment  |  Posted in: Media » Video, Opinion

Jan 2012

Happy Birthday Mr. Bowie

David BowieAs a quick glimpse at my artist chart demonstrates, I’m a bit of a Bowie fan. So, on the occasion of his 65th birthday (just imagine Bowie’s bus pass! I bet it’s a specially designed one made out of that crazy folding metal stuff that they got off the UFO that crashed at Roswell), I was going to write something about how important his music has been to me down through the years. How he sound-tracked some of the defining moments of my teens and twenties and lit up the darkness right when I needed it most. I was maybe going to throw some brief reviews of some of my favourite Bowie albums (in no particular order… Low, “Heroes”, Lodger, Diamond Dogs, Heathen, Ziggy Stardust, Station to Station, Scary Monsters, 1.Outside, Earthling, The Man Who Sold The World, Hours, The Buddha of Suburbia… er, pretty much all of them really with the possible exception of the 80s stuff, but even then the singles were great; Loving The Alien, anyone? Let’s Dance? China Girl?) I might have related the tale of the epic cross-country hitch with my mate Justin, to see Bowie play in Exeter during the 1.Outside tour… easily one of the weirdest weekends of my life (and that’s saying something… I had a lot of weird weekends during my twenties). Perhaps I’d even describe the recurring nightmare I had for much of the 90s and into the early noughties in which I wandered through an eerily deserted London city until I reached the Tate Gallery within which I discovered a deranged David Bowie slashing his own wrists while whispering the lyrics to some of his songs; after which diseased and disfigured angels began to fall dead from the sky. Yeah… bit of a screwed-up dream that, but pretty appropriate for where my head was, at the time.

But in the end, all of that would just be a roundabout way of saying that David Bowie has had a far greater impact on my life than is strictly sensible for someone I’ve never met personally. And though he’ll never read this, I’d like to thank him for his wonderful contribution to my world, and wish him a very happy birthday, and many many happy returns.

Ultimately it makes more sense to share some Bowie, than just share some thoughts about him…



or look, just go to YouTube and type in David Bowie. You’re guaranteed a great time.

2 comments  |  Posted in: Announcements, Media » Video

Feb 2011

On This Deity: 26th February 1994

Head on over to On This Deity for my latest piece.

26th February 1994: The Death of Bill Hicks.

To those of us who got him, Hicks was far more than just a stand-up comedian. He was an inspirational figure; a voice of truth and sanity in an increasingly false and insane world. He spoke truth to power like almost nobody else of our generation. Militant yet deeply compassionate, when Bill Hicks took to the stage he transcended the safe and empty art form that comedy had descended to by the late 80s and early 90s.

read the rest…

1 comment  |  Posted in: Announcements, Media » Video

Feb 2011

Something for the (election) weekend

In honour of the most important election in recent Irish history…

… stealing all our dreams…

Found out this morning
There’s a circus coming to town
They drive in Cadillacs
Using walkie-talkies, and the Secret Service

Their big top: Imitation of life
And all the flags and microphones
They have to cover our eyes

We play the sideshows
And we like the tunnel of love
And when we ride the ferris wheel
We’re little children again

And when they’re asking for volunteers
We’ll be the first ones aboard
And when the ringmaster calls our names
We’ll be the first ones to go… to sleep

Stealing all our dreams
Dreams for sale
They sell ’em back to you

On with the show
Start the parade
We sang along
Sweep us away

It’s political party time
Going down, going down
And the celebrities all come out
Coming down, coming down, coming…

The sun is going down
And the dogs are starting to howl
We stay out after dark
Eating cotton candy
And the music’s playing…

How we all laughed!
We split our sides
The cameras flashed
We almost died!

The rain’s gonna pour on down, falling out of the sky
Coming down, coming down
And the celebrities all run out, and the rain’s
Coming down, coming down

Gonna rain,
Gonna rain, gonna rain
Gonna rain, gonna rain,
Rain, rain
Rain, rain

And now I wonder who’s boss
And who he’s leavin’ behind?

Talking Heads: The Democratic Circus

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Nov 2010

Eno interview with Dick Flash of Pork Magazine

A couple of days ago, Brian Eno released a new album, Small Craft on a Milk Sea. I’ve not actually heard it yet, but the three preview tracks available on his website are excellent and the reviews I’ve read have been very favourable indeed. I’ve got pretty much everything he’s released, including the various mail-order-only stuff, and he’s never really disappointed. So when people start talking about this being his “best album in years”, it’s obviously quite exciting.

To coincide with the album’s release, Eno agreed to an interview with Dick Flash of ‘Pork’ magazine. It’s well worth a watch…

Amazing limp…

11 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Video

Aug 2010

… and the Tree of Nothing

I’m terribly busy at the moment, and I won’t be around very much over the next three weeks. I’m off down to Cork for a few days (my sister is getting married) and then I’m heading over to Serbia for a couple of weeks.

Anyways, while I’ll try to pop in here now and then and post something during my travels, they’ll most likely be flying visits. Links to interesting stuff, or the inevitable embedded YouTube vid.

Of which this is one. It’s a YouTube vid of a stand-up comedy clip. Makes a change from a music video, I suppose.

By and large very few stand-up comedians interest me. For me, Bill Hicks set the bar so high that most stand-up just sounds hollow and lifeless now. There are exceptions of course, and of those, Stewart Lee is probably the finest. He treads that line between social commentary and funny weirdness that’s so very hard to sustain. And it’s to his great credit that he manages it.

This is a clip from the first episode of his most recent TV show (Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle) wherein he expresses his position on the Harry Potter books. The final line, and the way it’s delivered, made me laugh out loud.

8 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Video

Aug 2010

Something for the weekend

Can’t go wrong with a bit of Christy Moore. Ireland’s finest folk singer (which is saying something). Always righteous, always passionate. This particular song was written by Shane McGowan and while I love The Pogues, I think the simple voice and guitar treatment suits Aisling better than their full band version. Enjoy.

Christy Moore

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Aug 2010

Incredible Justin Bieber track

I know nothing at all about Justin Bieber except that he’s a teen idol-type pop singer whose adoring 13-year old fans have used social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to turn him into a worldwide star.

There was a time, in my late teens and early 20s, when I’d have been made very irate by his massive success. These days I’m more tolerant of the tastes of others, no matter how bad they might be to my ears, and instead simply ignore the ocean of dross that passes for popular music. I know what inspires and delights me and I stick to that. Others can wallow in filth if they so wish… I have neither the time nor the energy to harangue them about the terrible choices they make.

That said, I have just learnt (via Twitter, inevitably) something new about Justin Bieber. And that’s the fact that if you slow down his song, U Smile by a factor of 800, you get a genuine ambient masterpiece. Seriously, check it out. Marvellous stuff.

1 comment  |  Posted in: Media » Audio

Aug 2010

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

I have a lot of time for Slavoj Žižek. Which isn’t to say I agree with everything he’s ever said or written, but by and large I feel he is possessed of a rare wisdom and insight, coupled with a wicked sense of humour. Aside from anything else, I don’t think I’d have made it through Lacan’s Écrits if I hadn’t paved the way with a couple of Žižek books (Looking Awry and his excellent primer, How to read Lacan). I’d also highly recommend Žižek’s epic A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, a three hour documentary that functions both as an analysis of the medium of film and an introduction to psychoanalytic theory.

Anyhoo, I recently stumbled upon this short animation (from the excellent RSAnimate) which condenses a recent lecture he gave on the dangers of so-called “ethical consumerism”. The original lecture can be viewed here (and is well worth a half hour of your time). But I’ll just embed the condensed version for those of you with shorter attention spans (the pretty pictures will help hold your interest 😉

UPDATE: Incidentally, if you watch the original, is it just me or does Žižek give the impression of having just taken a massive hit of cocaine?

1 comment  |  Posted in: Media » Video

Aug 2010

Something for the weekend

When I’m out walking with my mp3 player on, I often put it on shuffle and let it choose the vibe for me. Usually after three or four songs it’ll have found an album that I want to listen to and I’ll take it off shuffle. A few days ago it randomly hit upon What a Day That Was from the early David Byrne solo album, The Catherine Wheel. It’s not an album I listen to as much as some of his other work, but it’s been a joy to revisit. A mixture of songs and instrumentals, including several collaborations with Brian Eno, it was recorded as a soundtrack album for a dance company.

Now dance, as a spectacle, has never been something I’ve been interested in. I enjoy dancing, but not watching it happen. Whether it’s ballet or more contemporary stuff, it’s just not — as they say — the bag I’m into. Nonetheless, a few years back I tracked down an old VHS copy of a performance of The Catherine Wheel, partly out of curiosity and partly out of that weird completist compulsion that I still have for David Byrne’s work. Sadly, it failed to convert me and I never watched more than half of it.

Nonetheless, as an album, The Catherine Wheel is still a great listen. And that well-known Talking Heads concert film has a wonderful version of the song that drew me back to it. Enjoy…

What a Day That Was – Talking Heads
From the concert film, Stop Making Sense

Note: it was only after I published this that I realised I’m a full day early for “the weekend”. It’s just midnight and I’ve spent the entirety of Thursday convinced it was Friday. Isn’t it weird when that happens?

3 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Audio, Video