Wednesday 26 October 2011

Are you part of the 99%

In the last few weeks I've been following the the Occupy Wall St movement that started in New York. The movement began as a response to the economic crisis in America and Europe.

It's now inspired similar protests across America and the rest of the World. Here in London we have our own 'Occupy London' protest taking place outside St Paul's Cathedral.

Last week I was reading more about the protests on the Occupy Wall Street website.

On the home page it talks of the movement representing The 99%. The 99% that 'will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.' The 1% being the likes of bankers, politicians and multi national corporations.

There's definitely a crisis with capitalism. Three years ago we saw the reckless business practices of the banks almost ruin the global economy, and we've been stuck in near recession ever since.

After ordinary tax payers helped bail out the banks with public money, it's beginning to look as if nothing much has changed.

While the 1% continue to act in their own self interest, the remaining 99% are seeing their living standards fall; cuts in public services, growing inequality and rising unemployment. Look at Greece if you want an extreme example of this!

Some people want to dismiss the protests, arguing there are no real goals or aims from the protesters, but they're missing the point.

You can't ignore the anger and resentment that's growing against the current political and economic status quo.

I've decided to come out and declare that I agree with much of what's being said.

I'm part of the 99%. Are you?

One thing that stood out for me when I watched a report on Channel 4 News was that many of the people on Wall St weren't your typical anti-capitalist/anarchist mob.

Some of those inteviewed had never taken part in any kind of political protests or campaigns before. It's people like this that should make governments and bankers worried.

It's those people that have generally benefitted from growing economic prosperity. They've played by the rules all their lives, but they're seeing those benefits disappear, while an elite minority prosper.

In America, the 'American Dream' is dying if it's not dead already. In the UK we hear about the 'squeezed middle'

It's these types of people that are making these protests so important and relevant.

All this week, I've been following reports on the never ending Euro crisis and the battle to save the Euro.

When you look at the levels of debt that are being talked about particularly in Greece and Italy, it makes you wonder how our political leaders could ever of got into such a mess.

Ordinary people have been let down by their leaders, and are having to foot the bill for their mistakes. I haven't felt compelled to put up a tent outside St Paul's, but if I was Greek, I think I'd be out on the streets myself.

The 99% are having to make sacrifices for the actions and policies of an elite few, and the longer this goes on, the more we're going to see of these protests in the coming years.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Return of the Roses

Middle aged indie Kids are rejoicing with the news that the Stone Roses have decided to reform.

Out of all the big 90s indie bands that have reformed, this was always the least likely to happen, but now it has happened it seems inevitable.

I asked a friend at work his thoughts, and he said The Stones Roses were one of those bands that define a certain time and era. He wasn't convinced they would have anything new to add to today's music scene.

She Bangs the Drum

I sort of agree, but I'm still interested in hearing any new material they might bring out.

For those of us who remember, The Stone Roses will always be associated with the 'Madchester era' of the late 80s early 90s. As a teenager in those days who was getting into Hip Hop and dance music, I tried my very best to avoid anything indie.

However, the Stone Roses along with the Happy Monday's were the sort of indie bands I could relate to. They were guitar bands that understood and embraced elements of dance music culture.

So now they're back, do we really need a Stone Roses reunion? And what does it say about the state of the music industry? A band that only produced two albums and split up 15 years ago has produced one of biggest stories in music this year.

Nostalgia seems to rule these days in music. Some of it’s understandable, there’s a lot of money to be made in live music. In fact it’s probably the only place where people can make serious money in the industry.

It’s easier for older bands who’ve had successful careers and popular back catelogs to reform and prove a success, than artists who are just starting out.

It’s like a snowball effect. One band makes a successful comeback, then other bands and promoters see the potential, and before you know it everyone’s at it.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia but does it benefit the music industry?

Music companies and artists have seen the old music business model smashed with the rise of the internet and digital downloads, the live scene offers real money opportunities, especially with so many more music festivals around today.

I’m struggling to answer my own question.

Part of me thinks too much nostalgia means new artists won’t get enough attention, but maybe we just need to should accept the changing nature of the music industry. The old certainties of the pre-digital age are gone. Maybe we should accpet that a lot of bands will split up before eventually reforming at a future date.

Let me know what your thoughts. I’d love to hear your views.

Sunday 9 October 2011

England's football and rugby teams leave me indifferent

One of the great things about being a sports fan is the range of emotions that watching sport can bring.

There's the emotional highs and lows of following your favourite team, the real life drama that success and failure brings, as well as the thrill of watching great skills and performances from competitors.

An idiot abroad

Unfortunately after watching England's football and rugby teams this weekend, I was left with none of these feelings - only total indifference.

A 2-2 draw away to that footballing giant known as Montenegro, and another ridiculous sending off from Wayne Rooney.

I've given up on England challenging the world's best at football. For 30 minutes on Friday we gave the impression of being a serious football nation, before the inevitable mental collapse took place; perfectly represented by Rooney. There was no need to get upset, we've experienced this 'groundhog' day so many times.

Anyway, football was only the warm up act to the main event this weekend which of course was England's World Cup Quarter final against the old enemy France.

I've come to expect a lot more from England's rugby team. They might play a brand of rugby that for most of the time is stodgy, slow and uninspiring, but they grind out results. We occasionally even win stuff stuff like 6 Nations and World Cups.

Yesterday though was a complete disaster. 16-0 down at half time the game was over. The French were having a collective breakdown only a week ago, yet England provided them with the perfect therapy to get their World Cup campaign up and running again.

I couldn't even get upset at the end. The first half performance was so bad we didn't deserve to go through, despite a second half comeback.

The entire campaign seemed a waste of time, with poor performances and various off the field controversies dogging the England team. Sounds familiar to another England team doesn't it?

Die hard football and rugby fans have little time for each other's games but we're all united in seeing performances of mediocrity, under achievement and off the field bad behaviour ruining our teams chances.

When did our football and rugby teams become so similiar? Why do they always shoot themselves in the foot?

At least there's always the cricket.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

The release of Amanda Knox....Some thoughts

After the release of Amanda Knox this week my initial thoughts focused on the following:

  • How Meredith Kercher's death has been completely overshadowed by the question of Knox's guilt.

  • The complete failure of the original criminal investigation into the case.

  • The media's obession with Knox that's turned her into a celebrity. There's been absolutely no interest from the media in her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who has also spent the last four years in prison.

  • There's now only one person that's been convicted of Meredith Kercher's murder and that's the Ivory Coast drifter Rudy Guede. There seems to be few doubts that he was involved in Kercher's death, but I'm not convinced he acted alone.