Wednesday, April 29, 2009


On the topic of crows, a few days ago I received an email with a remarkable story from Lorin, who's kindly allowed it to be reposted here.

I spent the summers of my youth in San Diego, home to the most remarkable zoo in the US. Most of the animal, ahem, "habitats" are open areas separated from the spectators by a wide crevasse, allowing seagulls to drop in and pillage the animals' feed. The gulls had also taken to the picnic areas, and they were not the least bit intimidated by my paltry efforts to shoo them away from my french fries. Not to anthropomorphise, but as I blocked a large gull's swipe at my food, it gave me a look as if to say, "How DARE you?!"

20 years later I had myself attacked by crows at a golf course.

While conducting a bit of online research on crows (mindblowing info, by the way) I stumbled across this tape.

Crows operate a bit like the Hell's Angels. When one is in a fight, the entire gang rushes in to bring the pain. The specific call to action is exploited by crow hunters* who wish to wipe out an entire murder of crows with one or two shotgun blasts. I'm not a hunter, but I did find a use for this tape. Wearing a motorcycle helmet and a thick jacket for protection, I went to a golf course that had hundreds of crows on the premises. I played the tape through a portable stereo and within minutes I was mobbed upon by a storm of black birds. They wised up quickly ... the attack was abandoned when no distressed crow could be found. While I was physically unharmed, the real-life Hitchcock moment left a psychic imprint which chills me to this day. I like to think that I emboldened them, and that some of the golfers that usurped the crows' home received a peck in the eye.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


DJ BENETTI : Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, UK : 1am-3am, Friday night, 1st May
CUT HANDS : live at Audiotong Festival, Krakow, Poland : 5th May
WILLIAM BENNETT : talk at Audiotong Festival, Krakow, Poland : 6th May
CUT HANDS : live in Wroclaw, Poland : 7th May
CUT HANDS : live in Lodz, Poland : 8th May
DJ BENETTI : Face2Face, Krakow, Poland : 9th May
ZEITKRATZER perform WHITEHOUSE* : Festival Les Musiques, Marseille, France : 14th May
WHITEHOUSE : live at Out.Fest, Barreiro, Portugal : 23rd May
DJ BENETTI : Sensoria @ Dreams Niteclub, London, UK : 5th June
DJ BENETTI : tba, London, UK : 6th June
DJ BENETTI : Disco Nectar, Cardiff, UK : 20th June
WILLIAM BENNETT : live at Club Megaphone, Burscheid, Germany : 26th June
DJ BENETTI : tba, Germany : tba June
WILLIAM BENNETT : lecture in Ludwigsburg, Germany : 13th July
CUT HANDS : live in Dusseldorf, Germany : 17th July
CUT HANDS : live in Berlin, Germany : 18th July
ZEITKRATZER perform WHITEHOUSE* : Huddersfield, UK : Nov 27th

*songs to be interpreted and performed by Zeitkratzer are: Bia Mintatu - Scapegoat - The Avalanche - Munkisi Munkondi - Fairground Muscle Twitcher - Nzambi Ia Lufua

Monday, April 27, 2009


The latest worldwide health panic of a deadly strain of swine influenza emanating from Mexico ties in neatly with the talk of the seagulls' covert attempts at world domination. The question that I was wondering was, when human predatory hegemony is finally usurped, which of the species will be responsible and how will they go about achieving it? Indeed, can we already see signs of this happening?

Before attempting to answer that, I'd like to grasp the nettle of anthropomorphism. It's a measure of the arrogance of the human animal that other species always analogously come off worse - either we pompously bestow the finest qualities of other creatures upon ourselves, or else denigrate them with our worst habits and faults. The latter especially with the most undeserving of our derogation: the pig.

Expressions such as pig-headed, pig ignorant, eat like a pig, like a pigsty, pig out, sweat like a pig are not only unfair, but plain wrong. The pig is a beautiful, intelligent, clean, friendly animal that deserves a lot better respect. To use pig as an insult towards some fucking turd of a human being is an outrageous affront to the pig.

Unless the entire planet becomes flooded leaving but two small uninhabitable archipelagos where the Himalayas and the Andes are now located, I can't conceive a way that water-dependent creatures could have any effect upon the land-dwellers. However, our species did evolve from the sea, so perhaps something unforeseen will emerge from the depths in tens of millions of years' time. It's been said that sharks (and indeed roaches) would survive all-out nuclear destruction - so they are a candidate for survival in the case of a land-based apocalypse.

The survivability of the cockroach has already been mentioned - they are amazingly cunning and extremely resistant to human attempts at ridding their number from apartment blocks and dodgy restaurants. I'm sure they can also understand rudimentary human speech. Mosquitoes and other airborne insects with a propensity for feasting on blood have enormous potential for eliminating entire species through the transmission of disease. If they can learn to adapt to colder climates, then they must surely be considered serious candidates.

Whilst there are clearly many mammals that are far more sentient and intelligent than the human species, I personally don't rate their chances in an unforgiving environment alongside so many other predatory mammalian foes. However, a cross-breed transmission of a deadly virus (as attempted by monkeys, 'mad' cows, and now pigs) could sooner or later reap a huge apocalyptic pandemic jackpot.

Birds generally have huge advantages that we fail to notice at our peril. The aforementioned example of the seagull, in particular, is highly mobile across water, land and of course upwards into the sky; it can feed upon almost anything; they are not preyed upon (human attempts at curtailing their number have not proven successful);
potentially adaptable to any environment on the planet; and finally, possessors of an uncanny instinct and intelligence combined with seriously aggressive intent.

Friday, April 24, 2009


When Melanie Daniels sits waiting in front of a children's climbing frame, with each masterfully timed shot, we witness the crows gathering menacingly on the bars behind her, and the sense of fear is exacerbated by our seeing what she does not, to the soundtrack of an ominously low electronic hum.

If you type 'aggressive seagulls' (or somesuch wording) into your search engine of choice, it becomes apparent that this scene is portentous. Gulls are not only becoming increasingly bold and adept at snatching people's food, but are now invading inland areas
on a worldwide scale. They have developed a taste for junk food (in fact, they're pretty much omnivorous), and seem to deliberately target sweaty overweight badly dressed humans, relieving them of their greasy take-aways and snacks. Not to mention other reported attacks on men of the cloth, and dubious 'performance artists'.

Look deep into the gull's beady eyes, and you see reflected this keen sense of focus, this refined purpose, a zealotry of dark intent. And it's all happening behind our backs and there's nothing we can do about it. Today a cheekily snatched french fry, slice of pizza, or ice cream cone - tomorrow they'll be pecking a man's eyes out and gorging on live human flesh. In their millions. What a delicious almost divine irony for the human race.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


More often than not, games are not what they initially seem: chess is not a game of pure skill, nor bingo a game of pure luck. A game is essentially an exercise where success is dependent upon the probabilistic exploitation of the parameters of its rules.

The great game of poker is no exception: it is not a card game so much as a betting game played by people with cards. What makes it an especially attractive activity, in contrast with other forms of gambling, is how it elegantly allows a person to be hostage to their own vanities. If I win, it's due to my skill, and if I lose, it's due to bad luck. I'm safe in the knowledge that my performance can't reliably be measured because, since cards are only rarely required to be shown, not only is most of my decision-making invisible, everybody else's is too, thereby eliminating any form of comparative yardstick, by them or by myself. It's this lack of a visible performance indicator that allows me safety in my self-delusion: I'm a 'shark' while the other players are 'donks' and 'fish'.

Poker's invisible performance index is a powerful metaphor for many other major fields of human pursuit where an unjustifiable arrogance is the net result.

The autonomy granted in the classroom is a seductive cocktail to teachers, trainers, instructors, lecturers, and professors. They represent containers of precious information and the students are grateful empty receptacles ready to be filled, or at least that's the mirage - and teachers proceed to take full credit for the results of the learning process. The academic profession is one that naturally encourages self-delusion, the entire model implicitly constructed with the aim of endowing each teacher with illusory feelings of success.

So wont to blatant obfuscating and lying with one another regarding our intimate relations with women, men are thus enthusiastic practitioners of self-delusion. When a woman says that men are stupid and useless, in this sense, I can see where she's coming from. She does have a visible comparative gauge to performance: her own experiences in addition to reliable detailed feedback from her girlfriends. We men can be eternally grateful that, for the sake of our fragile egos, the female gender only rarely give us negative comparative feedback - and, at least partly, that may be because the bar is set so dismally low.

I'm convinced this is what ultimately conspires to get even talented advertising executives so up themselves. The presence of the invisible performance index is a temptation to take full credit for the content of their graphic designs (CD and book covers, movie and theatre posters, political campaigns, commercial logos, and so on) yet none of the responsibility for failure. The effects of advertising and graphic design (as opposed to what they're aiming to sell) are extremely challenging to reliably measure. It's not that it can't be effective or ineffective, it's that it doesn't merit the revelling in reflected glory inherently encouraged. It's the food that counts, not how the cutlery is laid out on the table.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Helvetica (**)
this documentary begins well enough with fascinating historical background to this most ubiquitous of typefaces - by the end of it, I became sick to the teeth of the soulless procession of self-important self-proclaimed 'graphic designers' each sitting smugly behind their suspiciously prominent Macs - articulate ideologues, each and every one, and not a single genuine artist amongst their number; I can now say, thanks to sitting through this film, that henceforth I officially loathe the Helvetica font

The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu (*****)

don't be fooled by the ludicrously misleading 'Comedy Of The Year' award emblazoned on the DVD cover - this tremendous film is dark like a Wiseman documentary and the stylistic similarities don't end there; it explores the loneliness of death through the tale of Mr. Lazarescu, a man who feels unwell and has to ask to be taken
from his Bucharest apartment to hospital one evening, leaving his sole company, his beloved cats, behind; his fate is always slightly in the balance as there are always at least a few gestures of promised humanity, though they're never fulfilled (not even from the lady paramedic or the pending arrival of his sister), so it's as if the loneliness of death comes not from lack of company but from the horror that people do care a bit, but really not very much; the Divine Choice symbolism is a little bit heavy-handed for my liking although its themes in general are treated with exceptional subtlety and deftness of touch

Il Divo (***)
heavily stylised study of the latter years of the notorious Italian politician Giulio Andreotti - although it predictably demands too much background historical detail of the lay viewer,
Il Divo is always compelling as the portrayed machinations of a corrupt broken political system alongside a corrupt broken judiciary, organised crime, and murky religious cabals contain a universal truth and resonance; the occasional crass use of rubbish indie music does spoil the tone, but visually the film is always a treat, at times reminiscent of Peter Greenaway's best work

Tyson (****)
Mike Tyson always was a far more complex and articulate man than he was ever given credit for; people only saw the ferocious animal in the ring, not the human being - this brilliantly edited documentary portrait comprises Tyson himself, narrating alone, with devastatingly raw yet touching candour, his remarkable story alongside some incredible archive film footage

A Place For Paedophiles (BBC TV) (***)
Louis Theroux invariably annoys the hell out of me with his quiet sanctimonious smugness - and once again he could really learn a lot from watching the incomparable Frederick Wiseman's documentaries such as
Titicut Follies and Juvenile Court; yet I do admit his choice of subject matter is exemplary - this time in the form of incredible access to California's huge controversial warehouse for sex offenders, Coalinga State Hospital; despite Theroux continually failing to ask the right questions, continually missing opportunities to give us insights into the true horrors of the facility, we still get enough atmospheric sweeps and revealing glimpses of detail to make the visit fascinating, albeit frustratingly so

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


While concealing from others much of who we are, we more often act as if there were nothing to hide, offering only a mask designed for collective standards, yet as if there were no mask. I don't care about the mask itself nor the image in the mirror, only that this is for no other reason than that you want this. Badly.


CUT HANDS : live in London, UK : 17th April
DJ BENETTI : Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, UK : 1st
CUT HANDS : live in Krakow, Poland : 5th May
WILLIAM BENNETT : talk in Krakow, Poland : 6th May
CUT HANDS : live in Wroclaw, Poland : 7th May
CUT HANDS : live in Lodz, Poland : 8th May
DJ BENETTI : tba, Krakow, Poland : 9th May
ZEITKRATZER perform WHITEHOUSE : Marseille, France : 14th May
WHITEHOUSE : live in Barreiro, Portugal : 23rd May
DJ BENETTI : Cardiff, UK : 20th June
WILLIAM BENNETT : live in Burscheid, Germany : 26th June
DJ BENETTI : tba, Germany : tba June
WILLIAM BENNETT : talk in Edinburgh, UK : tba July
WILLIAM BENNETT : lecture at FilmAkademie, Germany : tba July
CUT HANDS : live in Dusseldorf, Germany : 17th July
CUT HANDS : live in Berlin, Germany : 18th July
ZEITKRATZER perform WHITEHOUSE : Huddersfield, UK : Nov 27th

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


In case you were wondering, I'm still sticking up for the pirates. And before you jump to conclusions, it's well worth reading this alternative angle by Johann Hari on the story (thanks to Yin for the link).


Monday, April 13, 2009


#9: or

Many many years ago I found myself in the magic section of my local library. Upon opening an musty old volume on the dark arts of false card shuffles, a small strip of yellowing paper fluttered onto the carpeted floor which had been typewritten with a local telephone number and the words 'MAGIC CIRCLE'. My curiosity getting the better of me (as usual), I called the number and, in hushed tones, was sworn to secrecy while invited to the weekly meeting of their mysterious cabal. It took place in an appositely gothic building in Edinburgh, in a place that you wouldn't think existed unless you were shown it, and there I was introduced to the 'membership', an odd collection of mostly elderly unexceptionally looking gentlemen far removed from the Harry Potter paradigm.

The reason I mention this is that it was where I first embarked upon the journey in the active study and use of metalanguage, specifically after learning there of the use of the so-called Magician's Choice technique - alternatively known as equivocation - in effects (I also learnt at the Magic Circle that magicians dislike the term 'tricks') - and, by extension, the potential of deliberate use of language designed with dual reality (an overt conscious meaning, combined with a second covert, or implied, unconscious meaning).

Equivocation uses language and misdirection to create the illusion that a muggle or spectator has in fact made a voluntary selection from a group of items, when in fact the magician forces a predetermined choice. For example, when asked if you would like to choose the envelope on the left or on the right, your 'choice' will either be the one picked up or the one discarded. In other words, not really a choice at all.

The more sophisticated performers may then follow this up with a question along the lines of, 'did you choose that one because it was nearer or because you just had a good feeling about it?' Through presupposition this reinforces in the spectator's mind the idea that a fair choice has been made through the use of an imperative (or question) that directs their conscious mind. Also, sleight of mouth can be employed through asking the spectator if they are sure of their 'choice', that they can still change their mind if they wish.

Then there's the classic double bind component, 'shall I come and pick you up at 8 or 8.30?' presupposing that the object of your desire wishes to even go out with you. Shrewd mothers pull this trick on their infants all the time, 'do you want peas or spinach with your chicken?'. A further example of the double bind is the notional one of whether you are a theist or an atheist, a believer or a non-believer, a liberal or a conservative, and so on.

This is all clearly an enormous area of interest, and it's the use of or that concerns me most here. Such a tiny little word that, even in written language, seems to transcend any particular emphasis, but in spoken language passes by so fast as to almost be imperceptible. You might have had entire lessons in schools, colleges, and universities about onomatopoeia or transgender - but that's easy stuff, and comparatively speaking, fairly useless knowledge.

I'll be brief while I still have your attention or your interest: to hear the word or is for me to question the presupposition, to question how genuine the choice is, and to determine what invisible domains inevitably exist beyond the double bind.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Further to the earlier posting regarding the medical museum exhibits and the horrors of medieval surgery, and whilst scanning the pictures of tourists ceding their ice cream to the quite frankly more-deserving seagulls, I found a highly entertaining background article by David Morton on some of those dubious old school interventions where - amongst other delights - we learn about clysters, The Wound Man, St. Fiacre's curse, venesection, and the wonderful saying 'the better the witch, the better the midwife'.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Just received an email from Curt Wargo of WXCI radio station in Connecticut regarding Cro-Magnon's classic album. In 2002, they set up an interview with three original members of the band (though not Grasmere), plus another long-time friend of theirs, and Curt has kindly agreed to make the transcript available to the many of us who are interested.

The Mystery Of The Connecticut Tribe



The heroic Somali pirates have captured a UK vessel! Though the definition of UK here is, to put it very mildly, confusing: the ship is Italian-operated, flies a Panamanian flag, and has a mixed nationality crew. According to the article, the pirates were also recently seen approaching with intent a 1,000-strong passenger vessel on a round-the-world cruise - you can't fail to admire the extent of these guys' ambitions and unstoppable confidence.


Saturday, April 04, 2009


Last summer on vacation, there was a marvellous moment on the passenger ferry back to Oban from the beautiful island of Mull. As the passengers from the stern enjoyed the rays of early evening sun spectacularly piercing dark clouds over distant isles, a couple of seagulls demonstrated some amazing aerial techinques. Whilst flying at the speed of the vessel, they were able to hover with enough precision to pluck with their beaks the french fries from outstretched hands. It was clear that, even for the gulls, this was a skill requiring considerable practice as several younger birds, equally hungry, were not quite able to successfully snatch the proffered morsels.

In the lovely town of Oban itself, the gulls are equally rapacious, swooping in to within inches in their attempts to grab a chunk of your tasty fresh fish takeaway supper. They are surprisingly intimidating creatures close up and, without their usual timidity, it's all too easy to feel like Tippi Hedren in an outtake from Hitchcock's classic The Birds. Likewise, here are are some dramatic images of seagulls fearlessly snatching people's ice cream.


Our relationship with birds is a complex one. Wonderfully portrayed in the Greek myth of Icarus is the desperate human vanity which is characterised by attempts to transcend our mortal roles through the power of flight in order to become closer to gods. And our attempts at flying, still such a powerful ingredient to our inner dreams, would more often than not - over the ages - have the same disastrous outcome as befell the young Icarus himself, who had only his arms to flap as the wax holding his feathers in place melted as he foolishly got too near the representation of that most important of pagan gods, the sun. The proverbial fall from grace. Man's dream of being able to fly like a bird is in fact a consistent part of the most ancient myths and religions; almost all ancient art features bird/man hybrid images, including in prehistoric caves dating back around 20 millennia.

My own romantic theory is that the desire to fly like a bird is far older than man itself, and originates with our ancestors the apes, who, upon meeting birds as they acrobatically climbed up into the treetops, would enviously dream of flying high in the sky to enjoy the real and metaphorical freedom that such an ability would offer. We have inherited this profound wish, and it is still hardwired into our very soul. It's as if vertigo itself was the fear of our deepest desire to simply leap from a great height and glide effortlessly through the air, thus finding release from the gravitational pull that is our lifelong burden.

The essence of this notion is wonderfully encapsulated in Project X (1987), a movie about chimpanzees used in life-threatening experiments to test the G-forces experienced in military jet aircraft. Despite many funny moments, at times it's quite an upsetting film to watch, yet culminates in my favourite film ending ever. Beautiful and uplifting in every sense of the word.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


DJ BENETTI : Faction, London, UK : 10th April 2009
CUT HANDS : live in London, UK : 17th April 2009
DJ BENETTI : Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh : 1st May 2009
CUT HANDS : live in Krakow, Poland : 6th May 2009
CUT HANDS : live in Wroclaw, Poland : 7th May 2009
CUT HANDS : live in Lodz, Poland : 8th May 2009
DJ BENETTI : live in tba, Poland : tba May 2009
ZEITKRATZER perform WHITEHOUSE : Marseille : 15th May 2009
WHITEHOUSE : live in Barreiro, Portugal : 23rd May 2009
WILLIAM BENNETT : live in Burscheid, Germany : 26th June 2009
DJ BENETTI : tba, Germany: tba June 2009
WILLIAM BENNETT : talk in Edinburgh, UK: tba July 2009
WILLIAM BENNETT : lecture at FilmAkademie, Germany: tba July 2009
CUT HANDS : live in Dusseldorf, Germany : 17th July 2009
CUT HANDS : live in Berlin, Germany : 18th July 2009
ZEITKRATZER perform WHITEHOUSE : Huddersfield, UK : November 27th 2009

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Some of the best stories yet from Pravda, the thinking person's news source.

Lenin's Kinky Explosion
After this morning's typically hackneyed April Fool's Day stories in the UK press, this unbelievable story of Lenin's arse being blown out of his St. Petersburg statue late last night trumps the lot - fantastic pics, and what can we make of the bizarre detail of the knife placed in the great man's outstretched hand?

Boy, 7, Dies Playing Serial Killer
The detail is quite scant in this story, and I don't know what to make of it (is there an implication that it wasn't an accident?) - as in so many of these Russian cases, it's a fleeting look behind a mysterious curtain of which we have precious little real understanding.

Egyptian Text Message Deaths
If this was any other country, it would be laughable - the fact that it's Egypt means that it must be a curse, and therefore must be true; cue cheesy new Japanese horror film.