Tag Archives: lifestyle

Inspirational quotes and Kerouac…damn you kerouac…

21 Oct

I don’t like inspirational quotes. I just don’t. As much as they’re a great point to jump off from in a search for personal excellence and improvement; they’re more often used as an end- a point to say “gee shucks I’ve read it so I know it”- and this disappoints me greatly…

“Oh!: ‘ be the change you want to see in the world’? OMG THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE YOU’RE RIGHT!!1!!! lmao roflcopter hurhurhurhur…”

As simple as it sounds, “being the change you want to see in the world” is anything but. First you have to think about and realise what that change is, then begin the long hard journey of embodying it. You want the world to be a more kind, caring and openhearted place? cool; don’t be a dick next time someone takes their time in front of you at the cash register. No, this doesn’t mean “be quiet about your dickness”, it means take a long hard look at the situation and ask yourself why you’re getting so worked up over someone else taking their time, then be cool about it all. BE COOL.

You want the world to be a fairer, more well rounded place? cool, a noble idea…here’s how you can put that into action; don’t be a self-centred/-pitying/-justifying whingebag  next time someone starts grinding on that love interest you’ve been quiet about all those years. It’s just the way things are; you had your chance and didn’t take it because you were so busy watching dawsons creek re-runs in an effort to find the perfect words to say, so step back and let someone else get on with their lives.

It takes effort. A hell of a lot of effort. It is worth it though, when all the effort turns into something you can be proud of, but let’s be honest here; it’s a hell of a lot easier to just copy and paste a quote then think absolutely nothing else of it. That’s the way things are.

I don’t doubt there are a lot of people out there who put sufficient thought into inspirational quotes and actively work on incorporating their meanings into their lives, but the reason above is why I’m very careful about going anywhere near them. I could plaster this page with quotes all over the place and get a fair few more hits every day, but that’d be letting us all off the hook.

So anyway; Kerouac, you sonofa bitch.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”

….*sigh* here we go…

I’m gonna presume that you read the book and put this quote into context, knowing full well that the book is ultimately about disillusionment with that whole beat generation movement and that by the end of the book Kerouac is well enough pissed off with everything he thought he wanted/ saw in the movement that he pretty much does a 180 on the quote above.

Unfortunately, that’s all implied. There’s no counter quote which runs something like “I’m sick of going to parties and ending up talking to that flighty broad in the corner all night just so I can get laid thinking it’s a life changing event. It’s not. It’s two sad, sweaty, lifeless bodies rustling against each other while already mentally compiling the amazing story about it they’re gonna tell their friends the next day in an effort to seem “mad to live; now, then, here, everywhere”. It’s listening to some girl drone on about her friends and what they did while she repeatedly lights cigarettes from the wrong end and cries ‘this never normally happens to me!! wow this conversation must be sooooooo deep’. It’s not thinking she’s the absolutel right woman for me because she’s ‘kooky’, or ‘unusual’ in the way she doesn’t care for things other people do, it’s just ignoring the fact that she’s incredibly boring and empty because I simply want to get laid…no… no the only ones for me are the sane ones; they’re a lot freakier in bed cos they’re not trying so hard to be wild…”

Hipsters, by the way. Kerouac’s quote applies to hipsters. Yes. Unfortunately, where at least the beat generation had Ginsberg and jazz, the modern equivalent has nothing more challenging than Alexa Chung’s musings on fashion and dubstep…

But, for me, that doesn’t go far enough. Hipsters don’t go far enough. Why simply go to a few parties a week? why not make everyday a party? That’s the real way to be “mad to live”. Start your day off with a fine wine. Knock back a few shorts before leaving the house. Why limit yourself to being “mad to talk” when your only with your friends, and only talking about things you already know? Talk to a stranger; tell them about the universe and how mindbogglingly big it is. Yell out something in the street, don’t hold back in public; you gotta be mad.

Better yet; do something Wild and far-out! make a sign; something that implies a deep and meaningful thought while being vague enough to leave the reader thinking. Stand on the street somewhere, hold that sign up high! be proud! You’re mad to live and mad to talk! You blaze a trail across all lives you come in contact with, people coo “awwww” when they see you proudly go where no man, woman, child or animal has gone before!

NOooooo no nononononono….Hipsters -and anyone who lives by this quote thinking it describes them- don’t take it far enough. What; you go out to some fashionable club twice a week and all of a sudden you’re “mad to live, mad to talk” ?! fuck no, you’re nothing of the sort. You gotta take that to the limit…

I hope by now you’ve realised the ridiculousness of all of this. Take those things to the extreme and you’ll be a homeless drunk with a nasty drug habit who routinely yells at people in the street while holding a sign that read “LEMONS!! life! Art! SHOES!!1!”…

Nope, the only ones for me are the ones that know what they’re doing. The ones who say commonplace things in the knowledge how uncommon things can be. The ones who are mad to live by all definitions and not just the “wild, far-out, weird thinking party animal” kind. The ones who burn long, soft but just as brightly as a firework. Fireworks are gone quickly and leave barely a memory behind. No; the only ones for me are the ones who are not mad to talk but mad to listen…there’s a lot more to be learned from listening.

Israeli/Palestinian prisoner swap

13 Oct

Okay soooo….yeah this is a touchy subject. Gotta be careful…

In writing this, I’m not trying to take the perspective of one side or the other; I’m simply trying to highlight something. Make of it what you will. Regardless of your views, I want you to genuinely ask yourself what you think of the question I’m gonna bring up. I don’t want you to immediately fall back on ‘your sides’ arguments or justifications…I just want you to engage with the question and hopefully challenge your view on the situation. Nothing more, nothing less.

I do have an opinion on it all though, don’t get me wrong. Even though this question I’m gonna raise might make it seem like I’m favouring one side, It’s not. It’s just a question. You could change the parametres of the question a million ways to encompass a million different political viewpoints…but it would still end up being the same question.

Besides, when you take a far enough step back away from it all, it’s a bit like watching two drunks fighting over their shared loss of dignity. Both contributed to the circumstances, both agree it’s happened, but neither is willing to be the big man.

So anyway, in the news recently is the story of Gilad Shilat, an Israeli soldier who will be released after years in captivity. In exchange for his release, one thousand and twenty seven Palestinians will be released in your classic prisoner swap.

And there’s the question; hidden among the jubilation on both sides that their respective peoples are being returned home. I’m not gonna write anything about the conflict, the barrier, the two countries tearing each other apart from inside out…there’s no need for all that when a question this simple presents itself.

1 person in exchange for 1,027 people. 1 Israeli for 1,027 Palestinians.

Figured the question out yet? I don’t blame you…it hasn’t cropped up at all in the news coverage and let’s be honest here: it’s not something that would immediately spring to mind but…

When is 1 persons life worth that of 1,027 others? And, more importantly, why is that 1 persons life worth that of 1,027 others?

Both sides are happy with the agreement, so it seems that the Palestinians are alright with being deemed worthless enough that over one thousand of their people are the equivalent of 1 Israeli, but still…it’s a horrible question.

As I said above,; this question has nothing to do with politics, it’s about humanity. If you comment, please leave all politics at the door. We could change the parametres to “Catholics vs Protestants” in the North of Ireland, “blacks vs Whites” in 1950’s America, or even “Terrorists vs Patriots” somewhere else in the world but it still boils down the same simple question:

When is one life worth a thousand others, and why?

 

*Off topic* Economics: an incredibly simple way to change the world…

4 Oct

A few things in the news recently have gotten me thinking about economics and a book I read a few years ago which gave me a pretty decent idea of the state of the world (‘The shock doctrine’ by Naomi Klein, read it. read it now.). The events in question are the Wall street protest, and present republican muffin/possible future american fucknut Rick Perry.

I read an article in which he reasserted his opposition to regulation of greenhouse gases and pollution in general. Whatever you believe about global warming*, you can’t argue that having factories belching out smoke and chemicals into surrounding areas is a good thing. It’s not. Whatever you think about the grand scale of things, on a small scale it’s bad for us. Simple as.

*(I hope I can make this brief, it’s a big subject: Global warming is real. The majority of scientists who believe in it are well respected, qualified professionals who measure data and present their work to be peer reviewed so that any mistakes can be picked up by other well respected and qualified professionals. Those who deny climate change, usually keep their research to themselves or else have it laughed out of the community if they release it to proper scientists for review -usually because they’ve carried out that research for a dummy corporation/foundation set up by an energy industry company…yes that does happen. More than you think. A lot more. In fact, next time you hear/read about a climate change denying piece of research, do a quick search to see what company/institute it was done in the name of. After that, do a quick search to see who’s behind that institution.

Food for thought; the term “Global Warming” was phased out in the mid-90’s in favour of the more friendly and ambiguous “climate change” because, after all, who hates change? change is progress isn’t it? change isn’t bad- it’s damn good!! Lobby groups for the Energy industry used this confusion to soften the debate, and appreciated the long term decline in interest it helped contribute to…Oh, and one more thing; There is no debate about climate change. There are scientists who do their job properly, and then there are others who say what they’re paid to say. Simple as.)

So anyway; Rick Perry is hugely opposed to regulation, because it would harm the business interests of the companies involved and therefore do damage to the economy of his home state. Fair enough, he’s looking out for his own I suppose. The thing is though, that’s the exact same reasoning as that of a CEO.

The CEO of a company has a legal duty to look out for their shareholders’ interests. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? If an investor puts a chunk of money into a company, they should expect a reasonable return, right? In the beginning of the 20th century this logic was well accepted and needed because big business was only starting out. People needed to have “investor confidence” (which had a totally different meaning back then), so this logic was inshrined in law. It’s a CEO’s/board of director’s legal obligation to look out for the interests of the shareholders.

But; and here’s the rub ladies and gentlemen, the almighty rub that has our mighty planet -socially, economically and politically- slowly crumbling under the weight of its own people collectively mumbling “Hey I’m just looking out for #1, fuck you I’ll do what I want!”…

That obligation is defined in simple money. You want to look out for your investors*? Make them money!!

*Investors nowadays are a far cry from the 19th century pioneer family plowing all of their mattress money into a travelling snake oil salesman. Sure, that used to be the majority of investors: small families hoping to improve their lot by investing in business but nowadays, it’s just a bunch of bankers.

And here’s where we tie back into good ol’ boy Rick: take those energy companies operating out of his constituency. They don’t have regulations because he’s so supportive of them, so to cut costs and make money-money make money-money, they dump a little waste into a sinkhole somewhere.That waste makes its way to an underwater aquafer somewhere else and contaminates a local river. Hey, doesn’t matter; those shareholders want money, not a damn conscience! Will a conscience pay for copious amounts of Viagra and Champagne?! Fuck no!

Let’s move into the world of business: A good old american car company wants to cut costs, so that the shareholders can see a return on their investment, see their stocks rise in value a little and maybe even cut them a nice profit. How can that be done? Well I’m glad you asked because it can be done easy-peasy: Move the damn factories to China! Their labour costs are a fifth of what they are in America, so the company’s stock will skyrocket! Happy days!

Then the company naturally hires The Fonz to deal with the redundancies, because nobody can get mad at the Fonz!
“eeeeeey; your security clearance has been revoked, go live under a bridge or sumtin alright”

One of the main reasons the world economy has been shitting itself like that old man who sits at your local bar every night, is this legal obligation and it’s interpretation. Sure, you could argue greed, self justification, irresponsibility, general dumbfuckery and all sorts of other human conditions laid waste to the fragile game of Jenga we were playing (…you don’t know how fitting that comaprison is..you really don’t…) but it all comes back to that one legal obligation: the CEO must look out for the shareholders, and that is taken to mean “the CEO must do everything possible to continue cutting costs and making profit, regardless of the ethical ramifications”. Everything that comes after is just icing on the cake.

SO. there it is. one simple way to change the world: Alter the definition of the basic duty of the CEO to take into account not only the monetary obligation to the shareholder, but also the moral health and social responsibility aspect. Simple as…

hahahaha, yeah right. Never gonna happen. Here: console yourself with a sweetbeat…

Captain America: This is the logic we’re teaching now? really?!

8 Aug

I haven’t seen the film yet, so no spoilers ahead. I know admitting this might render my argument completely invalid, but I highly doubt that seeing as it’s near impossible to hide a shakespearean tragedy underneath a punchy blockbuster. Yes, it happens in the comics, but almost never in films which are hoping to rake it in at the box office by aiming themselves at the widest marketshare possible.

There’s one line in the trailer that caught my attention. It’s an innocent, shy little line that can easily pass unnoticed. But, unfortunately, it’s the basis for pretty much the entire films logic.  I should tell you now that I hesitate to apply the same logic to the comics, because I do love me some Captain A. He’s a legend…I don’t want to think about it too much just yet to be honest, i don’t think I’d like it.

After Steve Rogers asks doctor Abraham Erskine, the doctor who will transform him with the super soldier serum he has created, “Why me?” The good doctor replies:

“Because weak men, know the value of strength…know the value of power”

It’s a tight argument, one I agree with to a point. I don’t agree with the implication of it though, an implication that shines through once you take into account the rest of the setup.

Steve rogers is chosen for the super soldier programme because he has repeatedly applied to join the war effort but been denied because he is physically inadequate. He doesn’t have half the muscle mass the other men have and, in the film, he’s actually ridiculously exaggerated. In the comics he’s just an average guy with a bit of an underdeveloped body but in the film he looks a malnourished child who has to grapple with gravity itself to gather enough air to breathe.

Anyway, you’ve probably seen the scene: Scrawny guy steps into a machine then steps out of the machine a hulk of a man, ready to fight for his country.

Now, my (first) problem is this: All those other guys, the odd million or so who succesfully got into the army, didn’t start off looking like Adonis. (for the sake of argument I’m gonna deny historical accuracy and ignore the fact that most of those who enlisted were nothing more than average joes who played a season or two of highschool football). They all toned themselves up through sweat and hardwork. They put in the hours working on their fitness, and it paid off. They got in by virtue of that work they put in.

But it’s not okay to give them the super soldier serum because they “Won’t know the value of strength”? Oh I’m calling that one. I’m calling that one straight up. They’ve decided to improve themselves, probably gone through a hell of a lot of heartbreak for it, and they won’t know the value of strength just because…well, damn, I dunno: just, because! Because they said so! Because!!!1!

But the kicker, and the thing that has me really worried for the state of the world, is that the implication is this:

You can bestow great power and strength on a weak but intelligent, morally strong, courageous, humble, respectful, honourable and benevolent person, but you can not bestow these virtues on a person who’s already strong and powerful.

This is the lesson we’re teaching people: If you’re strong, muscular, or if you can be described in any way near the label ‘jock’, you’re finished, we can’t teach you anything. You just keep on keeping on. No no, it’s okay, don’t worry about it. You’ve got great power and strength, but don’t you worry your little head about the essential virtues which, throughout history, have been used to keep the powerful in check and the warrior class aligned on the side of justice and righteousness. We threw those out the window with the 80’s, so just chill: you’re all good.

I’ve been scratching myself to think of a tribe of warriors in Western history that could illustrate my point properly, but none quite come up to scratch. The spartans, although they’ve gotten a good reputation in the past few years, were a crazy bunch. Sure, they pushed themselves to the pinnacle of the art of war, but they denied themselves a lot of virtues along the way that makes a good warrior. The greeks, although not in the same class as the spartans, were much the same.

The vikings, although they had a great reputation for courage and bravery, were a little bit too keen on rape and pillage to be held up as perfect examples of the warrior pinnacle. Native americans were pretty close I think, but I don’t know enough to say definitively.

No, for a good example of what a warrior should be we have to look East. The samurai in japan and the warrior class (shaolin monks, if you must…but there was a lot more to chinese warfar than the monks) in China lived by a strictly defined set of virtues and principles that kept them in check throughout their life.

Granted that didn’t stop them from getting into fights and wars the same as anyone else, but my point is that when being trained in martial arts and warfare, they weren’t simply taught how to fight, maim and kill. They were taught how to live humbly, with honour, courage, benevolence and a host of other virtues drilled into them. No matter who you were or what size you were, you were taught the same as everyone else. If you were  a weak little shrimp you were taught how to fight and how to live a virtuous life. If you were a seven foot powerhouse, you were taught how to fight and how to live a virtuous life. There was no distinction, or rather -ignorant presumption, made on someone. If they wanted to learn, they would learn both sides of the coin, not just the one which they already knew.

Sure, weak men know the value of strength and power, but who’s to say we can’t teach strong men the same?! Why can a weak man be given incredible power and strength, but a strong man not be given incredible humility and perspective?…it saddens me to know that this corrosive mentality running through society is, and will be, met with a simple “hey, that’s just the way it is” mentality.

Anyway; if your interest has been sparked by the idea of a complete person then I suggest you read ‘hagakure’ or the ‘Tao te ching’. Both were read furiously by ancient warriors in the East to help them gain a complete understanding of themselves, the world and how best to live in it.

(oh, and I’d turn this one up…those first few bars are just beautiful;)

The secret of Frenchman’s Cove; better the devil you know than the one you don’t

8 Jul

TheFrenchman’s cove resort was a pretty big deal back in the 60’s. Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Jamaican coastline, it was used by anyone and everyone who had the money to stump up for the privilege. At it’s height it cost the equivalent of a years salary (today) for a two week stay. Steep stuff, but apparently worth it.

Being tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of the island (which was actually possible in the 60’s), it was luxuriously isolated, so much so that this was one of the main selling points. If you didn’t have the right money, you wouldn’t get anywhere near the place. Quite an attractive prospect for the monied class, seeing as they only wanted to associate with their own type and avoid all those awkward “So what is it you do? Stocks, bonds or good old fashioned national pillage?” questions…it’s just undignified. Best to go somewhere you don’t even need to ask the question.

But, the absolute main draw of the resort was its luxury: there were no menus, choices or options. You could do or have anything your heart desired. Once you paid for your stay you could, at no extra cost, ask for a boat to take you fishing, order a selection of dishes from around the world, request a specific make and model of car to use during your stay, ask reception to entertain you during dinner with a blood sacrifice etc… you get the idea. It was the first place to embody the “have anything you want” mentality of luxury.

I saw a documentary on the hotel industry recently, and it had an enlightening interview with the owner/manager of the Frenchman’s cove resort. While answering the question of his resorts attraction, success and the matter of it’s luxurious stasus, he said something incredibly canny. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect of

“…well because we don’t offer any menus to our guests, they’re given the choice of anything in the world. They can ring up reception and request absolutely anything they want for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, as is usually the case when someone is offered limitless options, they almost always end up asking ‘Well, what do you have?’, in which case we end up serving everyone baked beans on toast”

It’s an incredibly insightful thing, especially coming from an industry that bends over backwards to use the most convoluted of management speak. Although in fairness, he did say this back in the 60’s; it’s probably the last known example of a hotel manager speaking truthfully.

I was struck by the statement, and how brutally honest it is. Give someone the choice of anything in the world, and they’ll probably go for what they know.

It’s a sad thing, that most people are too afraid of the unknown that they won’t try and actively get away from what could be damaging or destructive routines and behaviour.  “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”, is a classic justification for staying in one spot. It pretty much boils down to saying “Hey, it could be worse!” as a good reason to carry on letting your mind dull, your body melt and your soul wither.

And it’ll work. It’s a nice fix, reassuring yourself like this. Many, many people get through life doing it, and it works for them. They might end up feeling  a little awkward everytime they put down their friends in a passive-aggressive manner because it makes them feel better about themselves for, oh I dunno, a couple of minutes. But it could be worse. They might get a little down when they get out of the shower and notice that flab under their arms jiggling for a few seconds more than it did a year ago, but it could be worse. They might wonder quietly about the world outside, and maybe even pine for it a bit, when they accidentally catch sight of a documentary on television but it’s alright because it could be worse.

Yeah; it could be worse, but it could be better. A lot better. A Whole lot better.

 

hang in there kitty, I’m mad as hell…

4 Jun

“See the good”, or something to that effect, is a classic of sit-on-yer-arse inspirational motivation…

It’s needed, don’t get me wrong about that at all. Without seeing the good in things you can easily get disillusioned with yourself and the world and end up packing it all in for the sake of knocking back a few beers under your local bridge with your new ‘best mate 4eva’ bridgey Joe, who just so happens to be a concrete support column.

Without seeing the good you can mess things up proper. Seeing the good in even the smallest thing can give you the hope, respect, inspiration and courage to continue fighting whatever demons are waiting in the wings and slowly sculpt yourself into the person you want to be. This is an essential part of improving yourself and gathering the strength to continue on a long, hard road. Unfortunately, there’s a trend going around that reasons you must only see the good if you want to live a happy, fulfilling and prosperous life. Not so, true believers. Not so at all. If anything, this is a dangerous thing to believe.

This way of thinking is productive but let it run loose too wild for too long and, slowly but surely, it’ll warp itself into the attitude that you should always see the good and only the good, regardless of what’s happening, resulting in you ignoring the bad sides to events and eventually shutting yourself off from bad situations altogether.

Now there are times when I’m a complete legend (…humble of me, I know); where I’m more than happy to reassure someone that they should just “hang in there kitty”, stay calm, assess the situation and deal with it carefully. Once in a while though, just once in a while, I’ll decide to prop up a giant banner screaming “Drop kitty…DROP!!” while shouting profanities at the subject.

Not because I’m an insensitive idiot, of course (although I have been known to drunkenly shout at people for displaying despicable personality traits), but because I really think you should look both ways, not just at the good parts of things.

By looking at the bad parts of the world and, more importantly, ourselves, we can keep from getting complacent. I love noticing someone behaving ridiculously because it gives me a marker: “Don’t end up like that“.

Everything has a balance, good and bad are no different. To only focus on the good in life is to foolishly confuse yourself into thinking “well damn, everything is alright”. It’s not. You’re not. As much as there is plenty of good in the world, you can’t argue that it’s not also full of hate, indifference, discrimination, apathy, greed and idiots. You could very well be one of them (but if you’re reading this you’re probably not…everyone I’ve met on here seems to be pretty damn worthy so far;)

If you want to get through life posting as many inspirational quotes as possible while looking at pictures of sunsets, blissfully ignorant of the vicious contrast within our society and culture, you go right ahead. I’m not mad at ya, don’t worry (nor am I against sunsets, for the record). If you want to do something about yourself though, you’ve got to get mad every once in a while.

There’s a scene in the classic film “The Warriors” where, after completing a dangerous journey home and getting off the L train at the last stop overlooking a sunrise on a dilapidated, depressing Coney Island, the main characer queitly asks “This is it? this is what we’ve been fighting all night to get back to?”. Taking the time to look long and hard at the state of things can be a very good spur for improvement. If the character in the above scene had been inclined to see the good, he might well have just remarked “Aw geez super! the junkies left some clean needles on the ground over there!”…

Everytime I hold the door open for someone who doesn’t acknowledge it, everytime  I watch someone take their shopping or coffee or purchases without wishing the clerk a nice day, everytime I see a politician (or anybody else for that matter) scream dishonesty with their body language, everytime I see someone shirk a moral responsibility or the possibility of a virtuous life and everytime I notice a person hide from themselves….I love it.

I love it because it gets me mad. When I’m mad, I learn about the world and the people within it. See the good and learn what you want to be, see the bad and,even though it might be hard or depressing, learn what you don’t.

On a related, and hopefully brief, sidenote, I find it very interesting that in this day and age of respect, equality and “everyone is entitled to their say and their right to say it” mentality, we still find make time and effort to quietly/subtly judge or discriminate against everything…except ourselves and the most basic elements.

Comment on someone’s clothes, their views, their racial backround and the stereotypes hidden within, their music choice or even their personality and you’ll always find people who’ll line up on either side of the divide (whether they’ll admit it openly or not). But, comment on someone’s actions or behaviour, for example: “you were too selfish there, calm down a little”, and suddenly everyone comes to the same defence- “hey man, don’t be so, like, judgemental!”. The reason? we’re all afraid the spotlight will shine on us next.

I’m not afraid of the spotlight, in fact I welcome it. There might be times when it highlights some things I don’t want to acknowledge, but that’s all part of the process. Helps me learn and improve.

Waiting for the payoff: dance music and the ‘now now now’ culture

1 Jun

There’s something frustrating going on with dance music at the moment…

I love dance music. Absolutely love it. I’m well aware that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so if this doesn’t interest you then no worries at all. If you do find yourself curious about what I’m trying to say though, try and listen to one or two of the links I’ll probably put up to get a decent idea.

The classic dance formula is build-build-build until the listener is salivating for a break. Start off nice and gentle with some beats and effects before stoking the atmosphere high and bright. The reason for this is probably the fact that the creation of dance music and the common use of drugs like ecstasy and speed went hand in hand (time is notoriously slippy when you’re dancing with soundwaves rippling inbetween your fingers), but trust me; if you start off with enough confidence and an open mind you don’t need drugs to understand or engage with a good dance track.

It’s an absolutely euphoric thing to leave yourself at the mercy of a ten minute build up before exploding with a well timed uplift in the music. The first time I went to a DJ I wasn’t much into it: I had raised myself on a steady diet of rock, blues, jazz and fusion, so I wasn’t expecting much. I had a drink, stood somewhere with a decent view of the stage and relaxed into a mild head-bop. After a little while the DJ dropped a hi-hat on top of the original beat, and my shoulders started to move. “Fair enough” I thought “…I’ll go with this, see where it takes me”. Twenty minutes later he was still playing that one song, with that one rhythm, melody and arrangement but had transformed it into something that had me dancing like a lunatic. I was hooked, hypnotised and happy.

Unfortunately the classic formula has been replaced with the musical equivalent of tourettes. Where once a DJ would seduce and tease the audience with carefully crafted moods and atmospheres, nowadays more and more of them are simply slapping a new song on the decks every two minutes so the crowd can deliriously enjoy the euphoric break again and again…without having put any effort into the build up.*

*(and, of course, most dance music nowadays sounds like someone humping your ear with a syncopated chainsaw…god help us, what happened to the beautiful stuff? what happened to the orchestral samples, the carefully crafted arrangements…don’t get me wrong there are still a few great pioneers out there, but they’re a lot rarer than they were)

A classic example of this is the fashionable pretty young thing who marches through the club and arrives on the dance floor already throwing their hands in the air and screaming that it’s the best night of their lives. The fact that they’ve just arrived, are barely two shades past sober and have done nothing more than awkwardly stumble out of a taxi doesn’t seem to matter to them. They want the break, that delicious break, and they want it now now now so they won’t feel so awkward about themselves.

The awkwardness is all part of it. It’s an essential part of it. Stepping onto the dancefloor, painfully aware that the music is calm and subtle for a reason: so you can invest in the build up. Trying to find some comfort in yourself during those first few minutes when there’s not much to dance to. Learning how to relax and forget about the crowd surrounding you while you explore what way your body wants to move with the rhythms.

But no, the fashionable little things want to dance like they’re having the time of their lives, so that days later when the pics are put up on facebook they’ll look back on them and think “god I look, like, so good there…these pics look like they belong in a magazine; we had SUCH a good time!!”.*

*On a hopefully brief sidenote; it doesn’t matter anymore whether it actually was a good night or not, does it? all that matters is if the pictures tell a good story. It doesn’t matter if you spent half the night talking to some idiot about the weather, or wasted two hours on a hot piece of ass that was actually pretty dull and boring, or lost your friends for half the night while you went for a smoke outside as long as the pictures tell a good story. “hey wow: there’s like, tonnes of pictures where you’re all, like, looking at the camera and posing! you must have had such an amazing time!!…


“…but wait; there’s another one!! good times, good times…”

(It doesn’t matter that between the photos, they all just stood around and bored each other to death by talking about themselves and their latest drama…god no)

It’s a horrible indication of the way our culture is warping itself. We want the payoff: we want it now now now, one after the other in quick succession but have no time to invest in the build up; the essential, enjoyable build up. Without really knowing the investment, you can’t appreciate the profit. And obviously that goes for personal development too…how satisfying is it to achieve something, knowing what you had to go through to get it?

Here’s an example of the good stuff. It’s not going to be the same seeing as your sitting infront of a computer (the atmosphere of a good club with good music and mixing makes all the difference), but have a look if you feel like it.