Goodbye 4, Hello 5

Not quite the new year yet, but when the clock reaches one second past midnight, I will probably be too drunk to write anything. Plus, I won't be near a computer.

I've submitted 'Run Faster' to SongFight, and with luck Nick will finish 'The Pawnbroker's Daughter' in time for the midnight deadline. So, fingers crossed, we'll see in the new year with a song. Even though his song is about losing love, and mine is about having too much.

I tried out a number of production tricks suggested at Specifically, each track is softknee compressed, as opposed to the entire song, and each track has either the left or right side delayed by 0.5 - 8 milliseconds. The result is fatter synths and drums, clearer seperation, a louder overall sound, and a lot of hours spent messing around in Audition making it happen.

Ironically, I think the weakest part of the song is the song itself - the lyrics and singing.

CW postponed our meeting last night, claiming 'lethargy and sociaphobia'. Plausible in his case. H is returning on the third.

Tomorrow I'll have to hail the new year by doing what I seem to spend too much time doing - reinstalling Windows 2000, on two computers. And after that it's back to politics, protest, and the party - the named and counted dead of Iraq, and the unnamed and uncounded dead of Asia.

Odd that I'm spending tonight with the very people I know from political activity. Who turn out to be the same people I know from the art world. Jon Snape called me a few days ago. He's setting up a forum for artists who want to know about art theory, and as I'm an art theorist - well, I've got a masters degree in the subject, apparantly - he thought of me.

So, I should have some lectures to give in the coming months. Eventually, paid ones.

Well. No flowery sendoffs to the old, or overoptimistic welcomes to the new. No way to bridge the gulf between the personal and the political. No sense of panacea or certain doom. I'll see you tomorrow.

Crass Distraction

I can't deal with global issues. They won't fit into my brain. 100,000 dead people is just an unimaginable abstraction - 100,000 anything is unimaginable. The idea of a small country owing billions of dollars to a big country that owes trillions. Destroying a civilisation to build a dozen oil wells. Embarking on a project of industrialised genocide when it becomes clear the war is lost. Two sides building ever more weapons to dissade each other from using them.

Music, friendship, computers. Sex, food, people. These things I understand and can deal with. These things that make life worth living. But the concept of literally half the population of an African country having AIDS, or locking up hundreds of thousands for possessing a harmless drug.

I understand the cause. But the motive is incomprehensible.


The Pope has said of the earthquake and tsunami, "This will be a sad christmas". Yes, your holiness. President Bush says he will 'consider' any applications for aid made by the affected countries. British television screens are now filled with celebrities asking the public to donate their cash.

So, the head of one of the largest multnationals in the world - the catholic church - offers his sympathy. The president of the only superpower will graciously think about helping. And the worst humanitarian disaster in living memory will be solved by your and my pocket money.

Dreaming of a Shite Christmas (Song)

How can a pop song about tragedy or politics be anything but trite? Today there was a giant earthquake near Indonesia - 8.9 on the richter scale, and 9000 confirmed dead already. For the last year, iraqi civillians and american soldiers have been killing each other. The allies in WW2 knew about the concentration camps, and did nothing. How could I possibly mould these events into a structure with verses, choruses, rhymes and scansion?

20 years after the original Band Aid single, the song has been rerecorded again. The lyrics are simplistic and full of sugar - "At christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade"..."in our world of plenty...throw your arms around the world". I'm not saying Band Aid and Live Aid were worthless - of course they weren't. I'm just saying that "Feed the world" and "We are the world" aren't much good considered as songs as opposed to fundraising events.

Two Tribes, by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, was credited at the time with summing up the cold war mentality. But what is being sung? "When two tribes go to war, one is all that you can score"..."Are we living in a land, where sex and horror are the new gods?". And as for John Denver getting mawkish over a schoolteacher dying in a spaceship, that's just embarassing.

On the other hand, there is a difference between capturing the situation in a soundbite, and wrapping doggeral around it. Faithless make a simple but valid point when they say "Wicked mind is a weapon of mass destruction". Bob Dylan cut through a lot of verbiage with "New boss, same as the old boss".

Songs (especially three minute pop songs) can't present complex political arguments - they can only present the simplest conclusions of those arguments.

"Give peace a chance" says nothing about the causes of war, the arms economy, or the human and economical costs of having your country bombed. It presents the conclusion reached after a lot of thought, not the premises or the reasoning itself.

So here it is...

So what have I done this year? Started singing, and writing songs. Worked for a university, and become self employed. Fallen insanely in love, and recovered. Recorded a lot of TV shows in DivX, and radio shows in MP3. Watched wars in eastern europe, and watched the media fill with peurille propaganda. Met another man I used to think I loved, and one I want to live with.

This time last year, I was 15 stone, and decided I'd join a gym in the new year. I did, and lost a stone, which I've gained back. I was 31, and involved in the antiwar movement. Now I'm 32, and still involved, still calling myself a marxist. I spent last christmas with my parents, just like every christmas. In half an hour, we will exchange gifts, clink glasses, and watch a film.

I don't know why, but somehow, I can't help feeling a sense of hope.

Not Christmas Music

H is on a train to his family and CW is fully occupied with job and christmas, so I've got the peace and time to write a song about them. "Run Faster" is for the final songfight of the year, after which I will get down to studying maths. Promise. This time.

I'm shamelessly ripping off What's On Your Mind by Information Society, while experimenting with Frequency Modulation Synthesis. It seems to be good for crunchy bass, smooth vocal strings, and pseudo rock guitar.

This is the first draft of the lyrics:

A lonely room, a crowded mind
And caught between two friends
One to hold, one to betray
Decision to be made
One has been around the world
One seems still a child
We all know what I have to do
Close my eyes and chose

To stay the same
I run faster
A man cannot serve two masters
I flip a coin
But don't call
Just sit and stare at the wall

Are they using me? Am I using them?
Where did I go wrong?
Take a chance or be alone
Before you turn to stone
One is sleeping on a train
One is just a call away
Is it wrong for just a while?
Pick up the phone and dial

This Christmas I Gave You My Heart

Time with H gave me space to think about CW. All reason is against reviving an old relationship. Firstly, relationships need to be based on current needs, not a desire to make up for past mistakes. Second, CW has his own boyfriend, who he says is emotionally very fragile and would be devastated. Third, CW is an exhausting, insecure, unpredictable person and I don't have the strength (or time) to cope with him.

I would like to have CW as a friend - and although what he needs is a friend, what he wants is a lover.

This situation might resolve itself. I've left messages on CW's phone, and he hasn't got back to me. When we were drunk and holding hands, he said he could imagine only two scenarios - either we have a full relationship, or we never see each other again. Nothing in between. Maybe he's chosen the latter.

H and I saw 'The Incredibles' at the cinema. We were both dubious, but it's a very fun and funny film. It was recommeded to him by his last boyfriend, who he still cares about deeply. Yes, there is a cirtain symmetry.

Apart from all this, I spent the day fixing various computers of comrades. It's nice to know the local left rely on my small technical knowledge, and therefore I play a small part in aiding the fight againt racism and corporatisaton. But...I'm supposed to be intensively studying maths and physics so I can have a career eventually, and I don't have the energy to do that and fight capitalism and fall in love all at the same time.

I'm looking backwards for christmas

CW was my boyfriend at college twelve years ago. Two days ago he left a message on my telephone. Last night we met, and aften ten minutes were holding hands and cuddling. We were both drunk, and said a lot of unconsidered things.

I don't know what to do. Tonight I'm meeting H for the last time this year, before he goes to spend christmas with his family - maybe telling him about what happened will clarify my own feelings.