Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Living in Barcelona we have the benefit of a dope store called Montana. Montana is a paint company that was founded in the early 90's by a couple of writers living just outside the city who realised (as many of us did) that in Europe you could not get certain colours of car paint and that the 'art paints' like buntlak were super expensive/difficult to get hold of/did not mix with the rest of your colours. They came up with spray paint designed specifically for graff writers. They are super business savvy guys and so have turned this thing multinational...and props to them for that. it is great paint, is easy to control and sticks to freakin EVERYTHING!
sometimes though, the commercialisation of the culture makes you cringe. today i was in their store picking up some colours and I saw these things...MUTE devices for you paint cans!
I saw Lady Pink talking about how she found bombing in europe to be like a military operation. guys super organised, shaking all the paint before leaving etc. I am sure she would love this...she'd be laughing her ass off! a silencer, so that your balls don't rattle!
I wonder how many you would lose in a nights painting...no idea how much these things cost.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
no matter how many times I hear dj premier, I am amazed by the simplicity and effectiveness of his beats. he continues to be a huge inspiration to both my painting and music production. this guy deserves to be listed with the greats as far as I am concerned...miles davis, coltrane...PREMIER!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
from The Guardian
Kenneth Libbrecht, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, has been studying snowflakes, ice patterns, crystal growth and ice formations since 1997. He faced sub-zero temperatures to catch falling snowflakes and photograph and illuminate them using a specially designed photo-microscope. These pictures show snow crystals that fell to earth in Northern Ontario, Alaska, Vermont, the Michigan Upper Peninsula and the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, and are showcased in his Snowflakes book
also from The Guardian, seperate and slightly nuts story, though I can see where he's coming from:
Christmas card snowflakes 'corrupt nature' by defying laws of physics
Professor rails against depictions of 'unnatural' snowflakes that lack hexagonal symmetry
The fragile truce between science and art came under strain today when common depictions of snowflakes threatened to divide the two cultures over the festive season.
In the latest salvo between the warring factions, Christmas card manufacturers, advertising agencies and children's book publishers are accused of corrupting nature with "incorrect designer versions" of snowflakes that defy the laws of physics.
A letter to the prestigious journal Nature calls on scientists to take a stand against all images of four, five and eight-sided "faux" snowflakes.
Professor Thomas Koop, who specialises in ice crystal formation at the University of Bielefled in Germany, had turned a blind eye to the depiction of unnatural snowflakes until he noticed an octagonal one on Nature's own marketing website, captioned "... for anyone who loves science."
Koop decided to make his frustration known. "It bugs me," Koop told the Guardian. "It's the molecular building blocks that shape these crystals and they can't form any shape other than a hexagon."
In a letter to Nature, Koop points out that the hexagonal shape of snowflakes has been known for at least 400 years when Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer, published his mini-treatise on the subject, "On the six-cornered snowflake".
"Beautiful photographs abound, including those taken by Vermont farmer Wilson A Bentley starting in 1885 ... Why then do many artists invent their own physically unrealistic snow crystals?"
Snowflakes – or more accurately snow crystals – are famously unique, though Koop admits scientists cannot prove that no two alike have ever fallen to Earth. As different as they are, all have sixfold hexagonal symmetry. Snowflakes can be single crystals or larger agglomerations.
Poor understanding of how snowflakes form means we are now knee-deep in fake flakes, Koop laments. "The grand diversity of naturally occuring snow crystals is commonly corrupted by incorrect 'designer' versions," his letter adds.
Snow crystals form when water vapour condenses into solid ice. Depending on the temperature and relative humidity, the ice crystal will grow into a hexagonal rod, a solid, flat plate, or a spectacular branched crystal. The symmetrical shape comes from the water molecules' hexagonal crystal lattice.
"We who enjoy both science and captivating design should aim to melt away all four, five and eight-cornered snow crystals from cards, children's books and advertisements, by enlightening those who unwittingly generate and distribute them," Koop concludes.
Feliz Navidad, Bon Nadal and Merry Christmas.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
When I was in Liverpool recently I bounced into ZAP GRAFFITI to see my man Kieran who runs the place. Kieran is one of those unsung heroes of hip hop. he's been writing for a while and is passionate for what he does aswell as spreading the word, educating both kids who buzz off graffiti's energy and adults who fear it and youth culture in general. I will do a post about that place and the workshops they run at another point.
while I was there though, I spotted this book called 'There's an Octopus Under My Bed' by mid west graff writer 'Scribe'. I picked a copy up and all I can say is that this book could well become a kids classic. Seriously, if you have young kids, or are looking for a gift, go out and pick this up. you can get it here.
It's a fun tale, well written, with great illustrations by Scribe and in the background, the artwork on the walls is by a whole host of different writers that scribe knows. This book takes you into a whole other fantasy world...a lot of fun.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Check it out, Curious, top London emcee...has a show tomorrow night. It is the whole creative thang...poetry, painting, beats, rhymes, basslines.
there will be a few different artists doing their thing, including up and coming photographer Hayder Feeley.
50% of all sales go to London Coalition Against Poverty.
12 December 2009
go peep it and show some love.
London E9 6HX
Pantone has announced 15-5519 Turquoise as its colour of the year for 2010.
how nuts is that?!?!? I guess it's a way of bringing more attention to yourself, but what an insane idea.
The company chose the colour for the new year as turquoise ‘transports us to an exciting tropical paradise while offering a sense of protection and healing in stressful times’.
Pantone’s vice-president of strategic business development Helmut Eifert says, ‘Turquoise occupies a very special position in the world of colour. It is believed to be a protective talisman, a colour of deep compassion and healing, and a colour of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky.
‘Through years of colour word-association studies, we also find that turquoise represents an escape to many – taking them to a tropical fantasy that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy.’
i am suprised damian hirst hasn't come up with one and maybe U2 should come up with a chord of the year.
hmmm, i think i'll work on a new tone of grey for 2010.
Justice Dept. won't support Jack Johnson pardon
By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press Writer – Thu Dec 10, 7:02 pm ET
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is refusing to back a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson, the black heavyweight boxing champion who was imprisoned nearly a century ago because of his romantic ties with a white woman.
In a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, the department's pardon attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, told Rep. Peter King that the Justice Department's general policy is not to process posthumous pardon requests. In cases like Johnson's, given the time that has passed and the historical record that would need to be scoured, the department's resources for pardon requests are best used on behalf of people "who can truly benefit" from them, Rodgers wrote.
The letter was in response to one that King, R-N.Y., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had sent to President Barack Obama in October urging a pardon. In that letter, the two lawmakers noted that both houses of Congress has passed a resolution calling for a presidential pardon and said they hoped the president would be eager to "right this wrong and erase an act of racism that sent an American citizen to prison."
Rodgers wrote that notwithstanding the department policy, Obama still has the authority to pardon whomever he wishes, "guided when he sees fit by the advice of the pardon attorney."
And he did cite two cases of posthumous pardons: President Bill Clinton's 1999 pardon of Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the Army's first black commissioned officer, who was drummed out of the military in 1882 after white officers accused him of embezzling $3,800 in commissary funds; and President George W. Bush's 2008 pardon of Charles Winters, who was convicted of violating the Neutrality Act when he conspired in 1948 to export aircraft to a foreign country in aid of Israel.
In Winters' case, Rodgers said, the pardon request was not processed by Justice's Office of the Pardon Attorney, due to the department's posthumous pardon policy.
King said in a telephone interview that he and McCain probably will continue to urge Obama to issue the pardon.
"What they're doing here is bucking it back to President Obama," King said. "So I would respectfully urge him to grant the pardon. This is the president's call."
The White House had no immediate comment on whether Obama would consider the request.
When he unveiled the resolution in April, McCain said he was sure that Obama "will be more than eager" to issue the pardon.
A hundred years before Obama was elected the nation's first black president, Johnson, a native of Galveston, Texas, became the first black heavyweight champion, on Dec. 26, 1908, after police in Australia stopped his 14-round match against the severely battered Canadian world champion, Tommy Burns.
That victory led to a search for a "Great White Hope" who could beat Johnson. Two years later, Jim Jeffries, the American world titleholder Johnson had tried for years to fight, came out of retirement but lost in a match called "The Battle of the Century," resulting in deadly riots.
In 1913, Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. After his conviction, he fled the country, but agreed years later to return and serve a 10-month jail sentence.
In 2004, the Committee to Pardon Jack Johnson, which filmmaker Ken Burns helped form, filed a petition with the Justice Department that was never acted on. His 2005 documentary, "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson," explored the case against the boxer and the sentencing judge's acknowledged desire to "send a message" to black men about relationships with white women.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I am a big whisky fan..not an expert or connoisseur, but a fan. I love the stuff. the word originally comes from the Irish Gaelic usquebaugh, meaning "water of life"...I don't think it would help much if you're stuck in a desert, but when you need warming up on a cold winter night, nothing is better. so i was interested to see that the first English single malt whisky in 120 yrs is about to be released.
It's being produced in Norfolk by a company called "The English Whisky Company".
I am not sure what it is going to be like, but initial reports sounds good. If you pick up a bottle, invite me around for a tipple.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
I was speaking to fellow Barcelona based artist Cynthia Fusillo recently about Robert Rauschenburg. She was telling me about an interview she had seen with him and how inspirational he was. I didn't find the one she was talking about specifically, but found this clip about 'erasing De Kooning'.
he mentions the idea that this is an act of vandalism to some. i liked the irony of this, how taking away of marks can be seen as vandalism.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
This is a piece called 'To Be Real'. it is mixed media on paper. I started working with paper when I first moved back over to Barcelona, before I got my studio set up and had chance to make frames/stretch canvas.
I work my surfaces A LOT! painting over, sanding down, washing etc. when you do this with paper, it really distresses it and I liked what was happening, especially with the edges. it was one of the things that put me onto doing the inheritance wax covers that I am still working on.
Anyways, as I said in the previous post, I am waiting to get all this work properly documented, so the quality of this photo is not great...just a taster of what I have been doing recently.
Friday, December 4, 2009
I have a whole new body of work ready to get out, but I need to get it all photographed by my guy before I let it out into the world. here is a sneak preview of one of the pieces, it's a bit blury, but you get the idea.
oil and mixed media on used skateboard...(shout to my man Olly-tha riddler-Kingston)
when I get the rest done I will post them here
Thursday, December 3, 2009
here's a little project I worked on a few years ago.
it is a remix of Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition' with video montage by La Alta.
the sound on the video seems to have some kind of limiter on it, which we tried a bunch of different ways to get around, but with no joy...so honestly it sounds kinda whack. IF you want a better quality version of the audio emailing out, let me know via the contact page on the main web site:
or click here
Monday, November 30, 2009
the regular dj tag team of Desmond and Sonshine have kindly asked me to dust off the jackets and drop some gems as guest dj again this coming Saturday the 5th of December.
the gig will kick off around Midnight and run through til about 5am...the early hours of Sunday morning...no doubt it will start to get a bit easier by then!
the address is C/Muntaner, 7...7Sins.
it is in the centre of Barcelona, not far from Universitat.
come on down and enjoy!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Yeah, so my man JAY ELECTRONICA is the next big thing. He has a butta flow and tells things as they are. he sees what he does as an art and not just spitting lyrics, BUT he keeps his format within the media that true hip hop heads love and respect.
"Jay Electronica is the future. He's what rappers are trying to be or what they are aspiring to be. He's the whole package," Nas told MTV.
if you're feelin his t shirt, you need to peep the BOPZINK web site.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Daily Swarm - RIP Technics... Production Stopped on 1200s and 1210s?
Posted using ShareThis
on a personal level, I am gutted that they are going to stop making the 1200 and 1210's. they are the industry standard and old skool classic. that said, i think it's inevitable that this was gonna happen BUT that actually the story is misleading. Technics now has a whizz bang 1210mk5 and the 1210m5g. any idea of decks disappearing is totally premature. only 5 years ago we were all talking about how turntables now outsell guitars...this may or may not be true now, but the point is that the 1200 is evolving.
I love the classic design and I have always bought the silver, simply because it is the original colour...pure old skool hip hop.
WHAT THE F???
OK GO are the cats from the crazy treadmill video. got to admit I am not a big fan of their music, doesn't move me, BUT they have some seriously creative ideas or a great team behind them and probably both.
this latest video for WTF? is incredible. a simple idea but put to a really creative effect. they are just having fun here, painting away, splashing colour everywhere. it is truly beautiful.
I sometimes wish i could keep each stage of my work as I am painting away and of course I have played with the idea of documenting it regularly to create little animations of the creative process, but it never feels like anything new or exciting, so it has never gone any further. with this you get a sense of the urgency, it feels like live action painting.
this is almost the opposite of the David Dallas video I posted recently, which has added elements and effects where they are not needed. it looks really simple and straightforward, but you can also tell that some choices are made throughout it which do not follow the true path of the technology which help keep the visual effect simple. I am sure the process for this was very complicated...in other words, the areas where it looks like less is happening are the areas that will have taken the most time and painstaking effort.
in short, this is a moving, evolving digital canvas of a very high quality. the guys who made this video could turn out some seriously beautiful abstract paintings if they wanted to. they make great choices.
i wish i was a passionate about the music in this piece, i could watch it all day...
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
found this pretty funny.
i was looking for images of scratch bombing when i came across this page.
The Washington State Narcotics Investigators Association
How to spot a tagger - Accompanying illustration.
Submitted by Detective Rod Hardin, Seattle Police Department
In recent years, most major cities have experienced a substantial increase in graffiti vandalism. Seattle, like other cities, has found that the increased graffiti is not related to traditional criminal gangs i.e. Bloods, Crips, etc., but to individual taggers or tagger "crews" associated with the "Hip Hop" sub-culture. "Tagger graffiti" is committed by individuals with the purpose of establishing identity and recognition for themselves among their peers.
Definitions of terms commonly used when discussing graffiti:
Bombing: The act of going out to cover a large area with graffiti tags.
Crew: A group of taggers with their own distinct name, usually consisting of three words, "Destroy The City" (DTC), "Can't Be Stopped" (CBS), "Aerosol Criminal Madness" (ACM), and "Your Property Next" (YPN). Crews are usually identified by their initials only. Many crew names show an acceptance for violence and destructiveness.
Hip-Hop: A sub-culture that emerged in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Hip Hop is associated with rap music, break dancing, baggy clothes, and graffiti.
Piece: Short for masterpiece. A mural, an elaborate large scale painting of one's tag utilizing different colors of spray paint. The piece can also be a caricature or statement.
Piece Book: A sketch book used by taggers to practice their own unique style of graffiti writing. These books often contain sketches of throw-ups or pieces that they have done in the past, or are planning to do in the future.
Racking: Stealing, to shoplift spray paint cans, aerosol can nozzles (for different widths of spray), liquid shoe polish applicators, or markers.
Scribe: An object (rock, drill bit, honing stone, or glass cutter) used to etch or scratch a tag on glass, metal, or plastic. Covering a large area with etched tags is called scratch bombing.
Tag: The most basic form of graffiti, a graffiti writer's signature. A moniker or nickname usually consisting of four to six letters. The basic tag is printed or scrawled, and can be either easy or difficult to read. -
A Tagger: A person who adopts a unique nickname (tag), and then paints, writes, or etches that tag on public or private property.
Tagging: The act of writing graffiti tags with spray paint, marker, grease pencil, liquid shoe polish, or scribe.
Throw-up: Larger than the basic tag, in bubble or balloon style letters, using one color and appears as an outline. Throw-ups using two colors, one for the outline and one for the center are called fill-ins.
Stamps: Pre-tagged stickers. Taggers write their tag on stickers, then the pre-tagged stickers can be put up in difficult locations quickly. The stickers can be of any type. Overnight postal delivery stickers are free and commonly used.
Different Types of Graffiti:
Bubble Gum Graffiti: childish expressions of affection or hostility ("Johnny + Ann," "Joey is a jerk," etc.).
Gang Graffiti: marks territory, shows presence, praises deceased members, and threatens or challenges rivals.
Hate Graffiti: commonly aimed at an individual or group because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Political Graffiti: can consist of symbols, slogans, or a statement.
Satanic Graffiti: can include the inverted pentagram (five pointed star), an up side down cross, the numbers 666, or the word "natas" (Satan spelled backwards).
Tagger Graffiti: by far the most common type of graffiti, the individual's tag usually accompanied by their crew tag. .
The majority of the graffiti on our streets today is "tagger graffiti". It is believed that individuals involved in tagging have low self-esteem and tag to get recognition that they would not normally receive. Their self described goal is fame. The more prolific the tagger, or the more difficult the tags are to paint (roof tops, bridges, etc.), the greater the fame. Some see the tagger as rebelling against authority, getting a feeling of power by defacing public or private property without getting caught. They may be experimenting with risk and adventurous behavior. Taggers are considered the "typical" youth-at-risk type of juvenile. With increasing frequency, taggers are found to be armed, in defense of rivals, being robbed, or to be used against citizens attempting to hold them for the police. The behavior and motivations of many taggers parallel those of criminal gang members. In some areas of the country tagging has escalated into criminal gang behavior (Tag Banging). This phenomenon is more prevalent in areas where there is a greater gang presence. Taggers are usually male, between the ages of ten through the early twenties and are from all social, racial, and economical classes. Many appear to be involved in the use of alcohol or drugs (usually marijuana). Many taggers are skateboarders. Half of the taggers arrested or identified in the City of Seattle do not live in Seattle, but come from outlying areas such as Everett, Kirkland, Bellevue, or Tacoma. Taggers from Los Angeles and San Jose California have also been identified doing graffiti in Seattle.
The pinnacle of expression for some taggers is achieved by "piecing". Many people who normally see tagging as vandalism, find "pieces" (graffiti murals) acceptable because they appear vibrant, colorful, and exciting. The problem is, "pieces" are just another form of tagging. Many of these "pieces" are created by very talented individuals, but with few exceptions, they continue to tag. It's only a matter of frequency. Once a piece is left up, other taggers will be drawn to the area. While there, these taggers will leave their tags throughout the neighborhood. Most tagging occurs after dark between the hours of midnight and six in the morning. Taggers justify what they do by calling their graffiti an art, but going out at night alone or with others to write, paint, or scratch a tag on someone else's property is youth-at-risk behavior, and is a crime.
It is estimated that in the City of Seattle millions of dollars are spent annually to paint out or remove graffiti. The sad truth is that the vandalism done to some property can be so damaging, that it can never be restored to its original condition. The worst example is that of property with historical significance.
Para mayor informacion flame a Pierce County Sheriff Department, Sargento Detective Thomas Lind al (253) 798-7713 o al Presidente de WSNIA Roger C. Lake al (360) 867-0523.
Those crazy cats from NASA have surpassed themselves with this one, featuring Kool Keith and Tom Waits, which in itself is nuts enough. Fluorescent Hill have somehow managed to match the level of quality with this incredible video. This is the kind of new music the world needs. Keeps us all on our toes, like my man Jesse Owens, who also gets a mention here.
there is also an interview with the guys from Fluorescent Hill here.
there is also an interview with the guys from Fluorescent Hill here.
making a wreck, wreck of the record????
Ella Fitzgerald with some improvisation on a classic.
here's something I didn't know about Ella's career, from wikipedia:
In the mid-1950s, Fitzgerald became the first African-American to perform at the Mocambo, after Marilyn Monroe had lobbied the owner for the booking. The booking was instrumental in Fitzgerald's career. The incident was turned into a play by Bonnie Greer in 2005.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sadly, aged just 44, Derek B has passed away.
He paved the way for early british rappers. Although at times his career was not taken so seriously by many hip hop heads back in the day, I think most of us who were involved then and still are now, recognise his huge contribution.
Of course, as a scouser from the red side of things, I have to also recognise his part in the legendary Anfield Rap. With his knowledge of hip hop he managed to produce a parody piece that actually worked really well with many hilarious, informed references.
Rest in peace Derek B!
• Derek Boland (Derek B), rapper, DJ and producer, born 15 January 1965; died 15November 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
original article from The Guardian by Mike Adamson
The forgotten story of ... the France football captain who murdered for Hitler
Alex Villaplane said captaining France was 'the happiest day of his life'. Fourteen years later he was shot dead for being a traitor
Alex Villaplane, top right, lines up as France captain for the game against Mexico at the 1930 World Cup finals. Photograph: EMPICS Sport
These days when we say a footballer went from hero to villain we tend to mean that he scored a goal and then, say, gave away a penalty. So that cliche seems a trifle inadequate when referring to Alex Villaplane, as you'll gather from even the starkest summary of his life:
13 July 1930 Captains France in their first ever match at the World Cup finals, a 4-1 victory over Mexico.
26 December 1944 Shot by firing squad having been condemned as one of the most despicable traitors in his country's history.
Born in Algeria in 1905, Villaplane was the first player of North African origin to represent France. At the age of 16 he had moved to live with his uncles on the south coast and joined his new local club, FC Sète. The club's Scottish player-manager, Victor Gibson, recognised his talent and fast-tracked him into the first team. Professionalism was not yet permitted in the country but clubs nonetheless found ways to pay players and in 1927 Villaplane was lured to Sète's rivals, Nîmes, by the promise of a spurious job for which he would receive a generous salary.
It was at Nîmes that he would first earn nationwide admiration – not only was he the sort of high-energy, tough-tackling performer whom fans have always loved, but he was also hailed as the best header of the ball in the country and one of the most perceptive passers of his generation. He won the first of his 25 France caps against Belgium in 1926 and was appointed captain just before the inaugural World Cup. Leading France out against Mexico in Montevideo was, he said, "the happiest day of my life".
Already by this stage the way he led that life was agitating tongues. In 1929 he had been recruited by Racing Club de Paris, who under a new president were attempting to become the biggest club in the country and had made signing Villaplane their priority. Formal professionalism was still three years away but Villaplane made no attempt to hide the fact that he was earning a fortune, and swanked it up in bars, cabarets and, most of all, at horse racing tracks, where he began fraternising with underworld connivers.
When professionalism was finally legalised in 1932, little Antibes decided to make a bid for the big-time and their first step, as Racing's three years previously, was to secure the services of Villaplane. At that time the championship was divided into southern and northern sections, with the winners of each playing off for the title of champions. Antibes won the southern section and then beat SC Fives Lille in the decider – only for it to emerge that the match had been fixed. Antibes were stripped off their title and the team's manager banned, though it was widely believed he was a scapegoat, Villaplane and two team-mates with whom he had previously played at Sète suspected of being the real plotters. All three players were soon let go.
Nice snapped up Villaplane but soon regretted it. Several times he was fined for missing training, and when he played, the one-time dynamo trudged around the pitch looking unfit and uninterested. Nice released him, after which the only club who wanted him were second-division Bastidienne de Bordeaux, now managed by his former mentor at Sète, Gibson. After three months during which Villaplane rarely turned up, the Scot sacked him. So Villaplane was lost to football. But in 1935 he popped up again in the sports pages – after being imprisoned for fixing horse races in Paris and the Côte d'Azur.
In June 1940 Paris fell to the Nazis. The occupation spelt doom and despair to many, but for some it spawned new opportunities. The conquerors needed help getting established and forged links with assorted local black marketeers to procure what they could not themselves plunder, anything from gas to food to fine art. One local criminal emerged as particularly useful – Henri Lafont, an illiterate orphan turned rampant ne'er-do-well, who would thrive during the occupation to such an extent that he could have described himself in much the same way as Signor Ferrari did in the film Casablanca: "As the leader of all illegal activities I am an influential and respected man."
Some of the Nazi top brass wanted rid of Lafont - the austere old Prussians who believed the Reich's honour was being besmirched by consorting with shabby crooks. So Lafont proved his worth by personally hunting down and torturing the leader of the Belgian resistance.
The more Lafont's influence grew, the more he recruited. He toured the Parisian prisons, arranging the release of old associates and anyone else who could help consolidate his powerful place in the perverted new social order. Pierre Bonny, once the most famous police officer in France before being disgraced and jailed for corruption, became his right-hand man. At some point they hooked up with Villaplane, whose assorted activities by now included gold smuggling. The gang set up their head-quarters at 93, rue Lauriston, probably the most infamous address in Parisian history, the home of the gang that became known as the French Gestapo.
The French gestapo
The gang's aim was to get very rich and they did so, providing the Nazis with whatever they wanted and keeping plenty for themselves. They were not ideologists but to be sure of retaining the trust of their overlords, who provided them with SS uniforms, they regularly tracked down Jews, resistance fighters and various other enemies of the Reich. In the cellar of 93, rue Lauriston, many people were tortured.
Throughout 1943, French resistance to Germany intensified. The local Gestapo was ordered to help exterminate the rebels. Since Hitler had been funding an Arabic-language newspaper that depicted the Führer as the great liberator, intent on freeing downtrodden peoples from the twin evils of colonialism and communism, Lafont had the idea of reinforcing the German and collaborationist ranks by forming a squadron of fighters drawn from the immigrant population. In February 1944 the German authorities gave the go-ahead. The Brigade Nord Africain (BNA) was set up with instructions to cleanse the Périgord region. At its helm was Villaplane, promoted to the position of SS sub-lieutenant.
Villaplane's unit quickly became notorious for its cruelty. On 11 June 1944, for instance, they captured 11 resistance fighters in Mussidan, a small village in the Dordogne. Aged 17 to 26, the maquisards were marched to a ditch and shot. As well as giving the death order, Villaplane is said to have pulled one of the triggers.
In Philippe Aziz's authoritative 1970 book on the Lafont and Bonny gang, Tu Trahiras Sans Vergogne, the following story is told. "Following a tip-off from a source in the Périgueux Gestapo, Alex and three of his men burst into the home of Geneviève Léonard, accused of harbouring a Jew. They ransack the house … Alex seizes the 59-year-old mother of six by the hair. 'Where is your Jew?' he shouts. The lady refuses to answer ... Alex picks her up brutally, pushes her into a neighbouring farm, hitting her with his rifle butt on the way, and there he forces her to watch an appalling scene: men from the BNA torture two peasants in front of her." After being beaten and set ablaze, the two peasants were machine-gunned from close range. "Alex laughs. During this time some other men from the BNA had located the Jew, Antoine Bachmann ... They bring him to the farm. Alex hits him and then arrests him. He then orders Geneviève Léonard to give him 200,000 francs."
"They pillaged, raped, robbed, killed and teamed up with the Germans for even worse outrages, the most awful executions," said the prosecutor at Villaplane's trial after Paris had been liberated. "They left fire and ruin in their wake. A witness told us how he saw with his own eyes these mercenaries take jewels from the still-twitching and bloodstained bodies of their victims. Villaplane was in the midst of all this, calm and smiling. Cheerful, almost invigorated."
Despite the barbarity of the BNA, resistance fighters became more numerous. Villaplane began to realise that Germany may not win the war. He started to hedge his bets. He staged public acts of mercy, allowing many of the people he was supposed to be pursuing to escape, cultivating the appearance that he was only working with the Nazis to help save his compatriots. According to the prosecutor, his greed undermined this artifice.
"His psychology was different to that of the other gang members," said the prosecutor. "He himself admits he is a schemer. I would say, having studied his file, that he is a con-man, a born con-man. Con-men have a sense that is indispensable to their trade: the sense for putting on a show. This is necessary for blinding their victims and getting them to give up what they want. He used it to commit the worst form of blackmail – the blackmailing of hope. … [A witness described him] arriving in a village in a German car and wailing the following: 'Oh, in what times we live! Oh, ours is a terrible era! To what harsh extremes I am reduced, me, a Frenchman compelled to wear a German uniform! … Have you seen, my brave people, what terrible atrocities these savages have committed? I cannot be held responsible for them, I am not their master. They are going to kill you. But I will try to save you at the risk of my own life. I've already saved many people. Fifty-four, to be precise. You will be the 55th. If you give me 400,000 francs.'"
In August 1944, with Allied forces closing in, Parisians rose up. Troops from the French Army, over half of them African, arrived to complete the liberation of the French capital. Reprisals against suspected collaborators were swift and bloody. The heads of the French Gestapo were not lynched, however. They were tracked down and put on trial. Then sentenced to death. On the day after Christmas in 1944, Villaplane, Lafont, Bonny and five others were taken to Fort de Montrouge on the outskirts of the city and shot dead.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
below is an article from The Guardian back in March 2009. great article though, so figured it was worth posting here. the top two images are from my 'inheritance wax' project which I will be posting more info on soon. for now you can see more here:
You spin me right round
Bob Stanley explains why he would happily spend £100 on a song he hates - just to get it on the most beautful, tactile format: the 45rpm vinyl single
The 45rpm single, the hard, black centrepiece of the teenage revolution, turns 60 next Tuesday. Few would argue that its rise and fall mirrors pop's golden age. Just the look of a 1957 single on the London label, with gold lettering, or the angles and DIY smudges of a 1979 Rough Trade release can raise the pulse, cause feelings of nostalgia, pride, envy. The 45 is easy to love. There are more of them in the shops than there were 10 years ago, yet it's tough to think of the 21st-century 45 as anything beyond a novelty, a sop to indie kid pop one-upmanship that is irrelevant to most music consumers.
Go back five decades and it was, no question, central to the teenage way of life. You would talk about records before school, between classes, during lunch. After school, the only places you could hear rock'n'roll were the coffee bars. The jukebox in the corner would contain the Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry 45s you craved, the records that you weren't allowed to play on your parents' pricy new radiogram - you were left with the wind-up, 78-playing gramophone if you were lucky. Another few years later and you may have owned a Dansette with a spindle for stacking your 45s, the only way to soundtrack your 16th birthday party.
Come the punk era, 45s were broadsides to the next generation from the suburbs, on a back-to-basics, prog-trashing, R'n'R format, and too fierce for airplay. In the 80s there were the Smiths singles, so perfectly packaged, so aesthetically desirable next to the straights' music of choice - Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms on a compact disc. When Culture Beat's Mr Vain did the dirty and got to No 1 without any 7in means of support in 1993, the golden era of the 45 came to an end. The next few years were a transition period in which the downright ugly CD single and "cassingle" bossed before the dawn of a new century and the internet finally consigned the 45 to cute relic status.
In 1949, RCA Victor had no thoughts of feeding vinyl-hungry kids, or of how Mr Vain would eventually spoil the party. All they were thinking was how to counter the Columbia label's new 33rpm vinyl, launched in mid-1948, with a different format and different machinery. RCA's 45-only record players plugged into the back of your radio, cheaply and cheerfully, but you needed a separate machine to play your albums, a state of affairs that lasted a few years before RCA and Columbia decided to share their technologies.
The first single, ever, was a country record by Eddy Arnold called Texarkana Baby. Arnold was managed by Colonel Tom Parker, who saw another of his charges, Elvis Presley, sign to RCA Victor in 1956. Texarkana Baby was pressed on a slightly odd green vinyl; RCA figured that, in the format wars, they needed a novelty, and so they pressed country music on green vinyl, children's music on yellow, classical on red, and "race" music - rhythm and blues - on "cerise", or what looked like orange to the average Joe. Straightahead pop was released on straightahead black.
RCA described the 45 in their press release as "the finest record ever made" and claimed "more than 150 single records or 18 symphonies fit in one foot of bookshelf space", which seems like an outright fib. In Britain, some way behind the US, the single wasn't introduced until November 1952, when EMI launched a bunch of desirable looking classical 45s on a dark red HMV label. The same month, New Musical Express launched the Hit Parade of best selling singles, all of which were on 78. EMI very quickly realised the three- or four-minute playing time was much better suited to pop than classics and in March 1953 HMV, Columbia, Parlophone and MGM issued, respectively, Eddie Fisher's I'm Yours, Ray Martin's Blue Tango, Humphrey Lyttelton's Out of the Gallion, and Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney's A Couple of Swells as their opening shots. By the end of the year, EMI had issued close to 300 titles and the raw materials for a revolution were coming together.
According to their promotional bumph, RCA had discovered "the school set loves 'em" as far back as back as November 1949 - "neat little records they can slip in their pockets, they go for the lowest priced at the new speed, they go for the little disc that fits on the shelf beside their paper-backed novels". The portable 45's disposability was mirrored by the thin paper sleeve and lack of glossy artwork that accompanied the album. The look and feel of the labels therefore became a secret teenage code, and certain labels belonged to certain acts. The Beatles had the black Parlophone label with its pound logo (to signify they were minted?); the Kinks were on the suitably fey pink Pye label; the Rolling Stones were kings of the dark blue Decca label, with its curious giant ear logo, housed in an orange and white candy-striped bag. The red "A" labels on EMI's mid-1960s promotional copies were pieces of true pop art, then and now highly prized by pop snobs.
Led by the rock musician's need to "stretch out", and by the rise of albums-only acts such as Led Zeppelin, the single was rather marginalised in the 70s. Its second coming was inspired by punk, not only because it brought bite-sized music back into fashion and spurned Mellotron-led rock symphonies, but because it revitalised the look of the 45. By 1976 just about everyone in pop had got lazy. Glam was a fading memory, the charts were clogged with novelties (the Wurzels, Demis Roussos) and slick country from the likes of Billie Jo Spears and JJ Barrie. In fact, even record buyers became sloppy - how else to explain a country single by a Dutch band, Pussycat's tedious Mississippi, spending a month at No 1? You could hardly blame record labels for packaging this nonsense with the most basic, ugly, moulded plastic labels and sticking them in plain white bags. Even Anarchy in the UK, issued in December 1976, came in a crappy paper sleeve.
If punk's new independent labels wanted to stand out, then, the solution was simple: Stiff released the Damned's New Rose, New Hormones issued the Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP, and both came in picture sleeves. This was previously unheard of. Soon, Beggars Banquet was issuing the Lurkers' 45s on vinyl the colour of which hadn't been seen since Eddy Arnold's day. Countering the indies late in the day, major label Elektra put out the Cars' My Best Friend's Girl on car-shaped vinyl and earned a No 3 hit. The public went 45 crazy, buying more in 1978 than in any other year; by the year's end, even Boney M's Mary's Boy Child had advance sales of half a million and remains the 10th best-selling UK single ever.
Possibly record buyers were hypnotised by the spinning coloured vinyl singles that were introducing Top of the Pops. These, it recently transpired, were purloined by Swap Shop's Maggie Philbin when the opening credits changed, and have just been sold on eBay. I'd have doubled the price, whatever it was.
That's because for obsessive collectors like me, 45s remain the ultimate pop format and retain their allure in an era when pop formats are done with. Listening to Kid Cudi's Day and Night on Spotify just doesn't give me the thrill of taking the record from the sleeve, placing it on the deck and guiding the arm into what RCA Victor called the "microgroove". Scouring the internet for contemporary pop 45s by, say, Girls Aloud or the Sugababes, is a miserable experience; the fact that Push the Button and The Show were never even issued as 45s I find profoundly sad. I'd dearly love to file Push the Button alongside Sam Cooke's You Send Me, Shanice's I Love Your Smile and the Beach Boys' You're So Good to Me - 45s to suit the first buds of spring. Knowing I can't, and that Push the Button was only ever issued digitally, sets me on the edge of a panic attack.
If I were under 30, attuned to CDs, then Napster, then Spotify, I probably wouldn't give two hoots. And yet, I sit surrounded by Schweppes crates full of redundant 45s that are now just an instant click away. I still hunt down rare pressings of the earliest 45s, which were easily outsold by 78s, and ones from the turn of the 21st century, which were only pressed for aging vinyl jukeboxes. The result of this mania is a 45 wants list that includes Lita Roza's How Much Is That Doggie in the Window (which even the singer hated), for which I would gladly lay down a ton.
I don't think I'm alone in my sickness. Major labels could be missing a trick by not issuing everything that hits the Top 10 on a 45. They could be limited editions, maybe even car-shaped, Rolex-shaped, Pussycat Doll-shaped. Or maybe not. Thomas Edison continued making wax cylinders, for an ever shrinking market, until his death in 1931, because he refused to believe the format would die. So, for sanity's sake, I'll concede that 45s are a product of a bygone era, beautiful and desirable as they are. The heart of a cultural revolution, though, they will survive in the collective memory as more than just the snuff boxes of the mid-20th century.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Truth Hurts-Addictive. Feat. Rakim
I am gonna be dropping some beats on Saturday night at 7Sins on c/Muntaner,7 in Barcelona on Saturday night (7 November,09) doing a guest slot for DJ's Desmond and Sonshine.
Check it out, I am not sure what I am playing but this tune will be in my record bag...
hip hop, funk, soul, rare groove, northern soul, London street soul.
hope to see you there.
I've been thinking about picking up an ipod touch recently, but not overly convinced one way or the other....until today! after seeing the drawings David Hockney has been knocking out, I gotsta get me one of these!!!
the images are really vibrant and painterly, and I like the idea that we can do this and share it with everyone...no loss.
when you begin to use a new medium it always affects the work that you make and I am looking forward to see what happens when I start playing around with these things. I am sure it will all be awful at first, but as soon as I do anything I think is worth sharing I will let you know...if anyone wants copies, hit me up and I will email some out.