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David Bowie

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 11 Oct 2020, 09:36

The late great David Bowie would have been 71 today had he lived.  I still haven't bought the last album, I haven't the heart to, because it's the last...and there isn't going to be a next one.  I know it makes no sense but it does to me so I'm holding out.  I was remarking on this to one of the girls at work today, and it's not just that he's gone but it's how boring the world feels now without him, and not just Bowie but Michael Jackson, Prince, George Michael, Freddie Mercury, all incredibly talented and original and more importantly, interesting!

What do we have now?  Ed Sheeran??  He's ok, he won't exactly set the world on fire, will he and that 'Galway Girl'??? Gawd, I hated that!!!  Thank gawd for the Gallagher brothers, at least they're not boring...

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Ziggy Stardust

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Just sitting watching the first love of my life on the telly, none other than Ziggy himself.  I used to have a poster on my bedroom wall which must have been taken from this concert because he had that short kimono on, i just loved it, back in the day.  Still love Bowie, always have, always will, some loves never die.

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Music

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 20:44

If rumours of a possible appearance by Noel Gallagher as a judge on the X Factor are true then all I can say is ‘NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! Please Noel, don’t do it, pulleeeeese!

If this turns out to be true, then it will go down as another black day in the history of human kind, like the day the first McDonalds opened in Moscow or the day Robert Plant accepted a knighthood.  It’s a bitter disappointment when your heroes sell out, Plant I could overcome to some degree, at least he was English but Bob Geldof will never be forgiven.  His honorary knighthood, for Live Aid, was just too much.  Firstly, because he was Irish but mainly because he came to fame on the punk wave of the late 70’s, this made it doubly unforgiveable.  You sold your soul Geldof, but not to rock and roll, shame on you!!!

My first big music hero, like many others, was none other than David Bowie, and recent reports of a comeback were a surprise to me, because he’s always been a regular in my music collection, so for me, he has always been there.  David Bowie was my first love, and I still love him, even more so now because I read recently that he turned down both a CBE and a knighthood.  Way to go Bowmeister, I’ll luv ya forever!!!

My favourite Bowie album is Hunky Dory but my favourite song is Drive in Saturday from the Aladdin Sane album, the saxophone on that song raises the hairs on the back of my neck every time I hear it.  Aladdin Sane was my teenage rebellion album, songs like Time, with its sexually provocative lyrics used to drive my mother nuts, her being ultra Catholic, so I used to ramp the volume up whenever it came on.

The TV is so crap these days, I’ve been listening to a lot more music recently, George Harrison has been getting a lot of play round my house and I’m awaiting the arrival of a Sparks CD, Kimono My House, remember them from the 1970’s, I loved the strangeness of the Mael brothers.  I’m going to stick my neck out and predict a renewed interest in them.

By the way, none of these albums belonged to me, they belonged to my older brother who had great taste in music and it was through him that I was first introduced to Bowie. He still has all his albums too, now there’s a collection worth robbing!!  Although, I probably have most of the same albums now, anyway.  My brother didn’t allow us to play his records and used to keep them locked up in a case but my sister and I were able to open the lock with a hair clip and played them when he was out, well, what’s the point of having older siblings if you can’t borrow their stuff!

I didn’t have the money to buy LP’s when I was young but I got a job the summer I turned 13 and bought my first Bowie single, Young Americans. I haven’t bought the new CD yet but it’s on my to-buy list. Bowie has so much symbolism for my generation, he was never just a singer, he was an artiste, and he drove the parents crazy! 

That’s one thing I really miss about the changes to how we buy our music, there’s nothing special about downloading a piece of music compared to buying an LP which had its own ritual.  Everything was much more expensive back in the day.  You had to save your pocket money if you wanted to buy an LP.  Then, when you had the money saved, there was the whole experience of going around your local music shops, and spending a Saturday afternoon just browsing through the records before deciding what to buy.  There would be deep discussions between you and your friends before the purchase would be made, as the covers were taken out and examined in detail.  LP covers were like works of art and there were some amazing ones, like Led Zeppelin’s, Physical Graffiti or the futuristic landscapes on the great prog rock band, Yes’s covers.  Browsing through the records was probably the teenage equivalent of walking around an art gallery now.  Then when you had made your purchase and headed out around town to show it off to your peers.  Now, that was a big deal, everyone would ask what you had bought and your coolness lived and died by it, and if your choice was approved you walked tall all day. 

There are many advantages to all our modern technology but it is robbing us of so many great experiences too and I am grieving the loss of HMV.  There are only two shops I love to visit now HMV was one, the other is any bookshop anywhere, and they’re rapidly disappearing too.  If the local bookshop goes, I’ll have no reason to go out again. It seems, the more connections we make online, the less connections we have with real people out in the real world.

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Identity

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 1 Apr 2022, 14:42

Watching the Olympic opening ceremony the other night, I realized that the soundtrack of the opening, was also the soundtrack of my life.  While I was born, and still live in Northern Ireland , I identify with a lot of aspects of British culture.

I mostly watch BBC television and listen to BBC radio.  David Bowie was my first crush and Led Zeppelin my favourite band.  I recognized the films clips from Kes and Billy Elliot, they’re both in my own film collection, and of course, I can thank the OU, for knowing all about Glastonbury Tor.  When I thing about identity, or what country or people I identify with, then there are so many influences that have shaped me that it would be almost impossible to identify with one country or one group of people alone.  I would have considered myself Irish growing up, but realistically there are many aspects of Irish culture that I can’t relate to at all, especially the drinking culture.

Politically, the group I identify most with are the working class, but I also identify with women across the globe, especially those in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan in their struggles against male domination.  I can also identify with the black man’s struggle against racial bigotry, Malcolm X is my one of my political heroes and I often think his assassination was a greater loss to the American people than Dr King.  I also identify with the Native American community in their struggles to survive after the loss of their land, and the ongoing problems that alcohol has caused in their communities.

Spiritually, I identify with their idea of the Great Spirit, but I also identify with the Chinese philosophy of Taoism and Tibetan Buddhism.  Christianity, is the faith I was brought up in, and I also have a lot of regard for the teachings of Jesus.  There is a school of thought, that believes that Jesus studied Eastern philosophy, part of this comes from his saying, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’….because Taoism translates as the ‘way’, and of course there are many other similarities between both philosophies.  (I prefer to call them philosophies, not religions, because at their core, they are about seeking truths about how to live morally, and ethically) 

When I consider all of these things, I can’t stand up and say I am one thing and one thing alone,  I don’t belong to one homogenous group, to the exclusion of all others.  I am a sub-culture of many different places and peoples, and when you think about it, aren’t we all a sub-culture? 

We eat the food from different places, are influenced by other peoples ideas and ways of living, we have been shaped by so many different things, that when politicians start deriding multi-culturalism, I often wonder how interesting it would be, if all the people in the country who had a parent or grand- parent from a different country, went out on strike for a day.  I think it would be really interesting to see just how multi-cultural we all are, and I’m sure there would be a few surprises among them all.  Even the Queen is descended from Germany on one side of the family.

And there was another thing about the Olympic opening, when the athletes were coming in, there were very few countries that weren’t multi-cultural.  I have often said that time will prove Darwin right, and all those people of dark skin who came to live in traditionally white countries, and all the white people who have moved to places like Africa and Australia will eventually have descendants with different coloured skin.  It won’t happen overnight, it’ll take a few generations, but I remember the first time I saw a picture of Eugene Terre-Blanche, the leader of the right-wing National Party in South Africa .  I remarked that it was strange for a black man to be leading a right-wing party, when I was informed he was white.  Well, he didn’t look very white to me, and that was what got me thinking about it.  If the Theory of Evolution is right, it follows logically, that is what should happen, as they adapt to their new environment.  I discussed this with a friend one night, whose parents were originally from India, and he had to agree that his skin was lighter, and he noticed when he went back to India on holiday, how much paler he was compared to his relatives.    

I have done a bit of traveling in the last few years, and what I have noticed over and over again, is that no matter where you live, or what political or religious philosophy you subscribe to,  the fact is, there is only one human race, and the vast majority of us are just trying to make our way in the world.  We want to be happy, we want a reasonable standard of living, we want to watch our children grow up in peace. 

We’re very lucky in this part of the world, in spite of our social and political problems, that most of us have a roof over our heads, most of us have enough to eat and the truth is, most of us live like kings compared to other parts of the world.  We have a lot to be grateful for, and yet we take so much for granted, we throw away our lives and chances with drugs and alcohol.  We have eyes but we don’t really see the great beauty that is all around us, in nature and in people.  We have ears but when we are out and about, they are usually plugged into an ipod or suchlike, and we never stop and really listen to the birds singing, or the wind soughing through the trees.  (Great word that, soughing)

Western society has us tied in knots, we have been burdened with the stuff of capitalism and consumerism, we feel cut off and alone, most of us don’t even know our neighbours. Those who rule over us, are so out of touch with our basic reality that it makes us feel powerless to effect any sort of meaningful change.  We have grown tired and cynical as we have seen politician after politician, promise us the sun, moon and stars, only to watch those same people, once elected, become another political clone, the grey man in the grey suit who helps fill the pockets of the rich, while ignoring the plight and reality of the rest of us.  We yearn to be part of something, to unburden ourselves of the debt and pressure of modern life, we want to live simpler and better lives.  We don’t need to be millionaires or billionaires, but is it really too much to expect a reasonable wage for a reasonable day’s work? 

I read this in Steve Hagen’s book, ‘Buddhism, plain and simple’ -  ‘Henry Ford after he make his first billion dollars, was asked how much more he wanted.  He said he wanted just a little more’.

Henry Ford was also a bigot, and ferociously anti- Semitic, he advocated expelling all the Jews from the US . So for all his wealth, it doesn’t seem that Henry was a very happy man but it does allow us to see the thinking behind those who have so much wealth.  Governments have advocated the ‘trickle down’ effect as way of re-distributing wealth. The idea is that if we allow the rich to become even more richer, then the wealth they create will trickle down.  Unfortunately, the rich and the very rich, or ‘the haves and the have mores’, as George Bush so succinctly put it, like to keep all their money for themselves that’s why they are rich to begin with!

History will judge us, and history will condemn us, for the simple reason that those who had so much, were allowed to keep it, while others were left to starve to death.  We can’t say we didn’t know because we do know, and while most of us are not millionaires or billionaires, and are limited in what we can do, governments are not.  We need change, and we need it at the top, because that is where the power is.  We need to think about who we vote for, and why,  Do we really subscribe to the tenants of the religious faiths we belong too or we all just too worn out and tired, trying to make it from one working week to the next?

Change will come, whether by choice or circumstances, the global capitalist system has failed, although governments across the globe are still desperately trying to prop it up.  We are now living through the last days of global capitalism. This way of living is coming to and end, it was never sustainable anyway.  The economy is contracting, and India and China are experiencing an economic slow down, as well.  (One thing the recession has done for me, is that I realized how few of the trappings of consumerism, I really need.  I was out of work for a year and living on the dole certainly helps focus the mind on what you really need, as opposed to, what you want) 

Capitalism is sustained by two things, oil and consumption.  Oil is a finite resource and there are those who say we have already reached peak oil production, so it’s going to be all downhill from here.  When I look around my house, as I’m sure you can too, ask yourself, just how many more products do you really need?  When every room has the flat-screen tv, there are two, or maybe three, cars parked outside,  your wardrobe is stuffed with clothes, and shoes, and all the incumbent accessories, and you probably only wear the same 3 or 4 outfits, again and again.  The bathroom is overflowing with lotions and potions, the kitchen is the same with all the gizmos and gadgets, and around the TV in the living room, there are so many electrical items that a six- plug extension, - with surge protection of course - can barely cover it. 

We need to really start thinking about the future and sustainable living, because if we don’t start planning now, then we are in for some very tough times ahead.  If we don’t start preparing for a world without oil, then we’ll be facing a future of famine and war.  There is a lot of talk around electric cars, but how are they going to be built when manufacturing depends on oil, not to mention the tarmac needed for the roads?  And what about electricity, how are we going to be able to provide the energy levels that we enjoy now? 

These are all questions that need to be taken seriously and we need to start looking for the answers.  In looking forward, we need to look back to how we lived before we all became part of the capitalist system.   I have always envied and admired the Native Americans and their lifestyle before ‘old whitey’ landed.  They lived sustainably and didn’t desecrate the land the way we do.  Christopher Columbus didn’t have to wade through rubbish dumps, or slum housing and ghettoes when he landed in the Americas .  The first Europeans thought they had found the Garden of Eden, as the land was so pristine and abundant with food.  We need to find some middle way between our technology and our resources so that we can take all the scientific and technological achievements and marry them in such a way as to create a society that can sustain itself and work for everyone together not just for those at the top.  And to be able to do it without ravaging the planet, because this is one area where we will all be in it together and if we don’t start making real plans then there are some very dark days ahead for our children and grandchildren.

(The Native American communities are being ravaged by alcohol.  The Lakota Sioux in South Dakota are trying to raise money to build a healing centre to help deal with the problems that alcohol is causing on the reservation and to care for children when their parents can’t.  It is called Oceti Wakan, which means Sacred Fireplace.  If you wish to donate you can log on to their website, just type in Oceti Wakan and you’ll find it)

 

 

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Weddin

Midnight in Paris

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 19:19

I missed Midnight in Paris first time around at the cinema so I was anxiously waiting for its release on DVD as it had received great reviews all round.  So I got it out last weekend and after all the disappointment of War Horse which certainly did not live up to the hype, I have to say, this wonderful film certainly did.

This was one of those really lovely movies which you will enjoy more and more with each viewing.  It was like a hot cup of chocolate, wrapped up in a warm blanket, and if you haven’t seen it already, then there could be no better way to chill out a Saturday night, curled up on the sofa with your other half, than watching this.  

 I think everyone should have heard the basic story by now but, just in case, here is a very brief outline.  Gil Pender ( Owen Wilson), an American writer in Paris with his fiancé, gets transported back to the Paris of Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald (and if you don’t know who they are, join a library, and the sooner the better!). 

The basic premise revolves around the idea that we all revere a past golden age which we believe was better than the present, and just maybe, that idea might be wrong.

Owen Wilson is perfectly cast in this role and I’ve fallen in love with him all over again after watching this. So much so, that I pulled Zoolander out of the DVD collection for another viewing and as I hadn’t watched it in a while, and I have to say, it too, gets better with every viewing (sure sign of a comedy classic), plus it also features David Bowie whom I have loved forever.

 So if you’re unhappy with your present life, then do something about it, instead of wasting it harking back to another era.  So get in to it, the past is over, the only place that you exist is in this present moment (and no, I’m not going to get into discussions about the possibility of parallel universes and all that, some other time). Sound advice!

 Highly recommended!!

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