I was lucky enough to be in California before Christmas – been doing a lot of travelling lately – and got a chance to call into the LAX gun range to shoot some handguns – .22 calibre revolvers and Glock and Sig Sauer 9 mm semi-automatic handguns to be exact.
(You’d never guess I spent most of my teenage years playing DOOM, would you?)
It might seem weird to be a card carrying leftie – a tree-hugging pseudo-hippie with distinctly pinko leanings – yet also be into guns. However, I’ve no problem seperating the political ideology that goes with gun culture (particularly in the US) from the enjoyment of practicing the technical skill of firing them accurately. To me there is no difference between a handgun and a bow and arrow, or a cross bow, other than the fact that one can be more rapidly deployed as a weapon. However, that said, I find gun culture mostly repugnant.
Because these are dangerous objects, I’m perfectly happy that access to them is restricted in the country I live in. In LA, I thorougly enjoyed the time I spent shooting – if you get a chance, go for it, it’s a blast – but it was also slightly scarey to realise that in Ireland, the odds of you having a gun pointed at you are extremely remote unless you’re involved in the drugs trade or organised crime. In personal crime – muggings and handbag thefts – guns aren’t for the most part used, but in LA, it’s much more likely that a street mugger will be carrying a gun. The police have to make a whole series of different presumptions regarding the level of threat suspects present to them.
I think the society I live in is much richer for the restrictions we have here. The price of these restrictions mean that I can’t own or keep an automatic handgun in my home, but I’m also glad that I don’t feel like I need to. Shooting paper targets is really fun though.
A friend sent me a link to this video on youtube this morning. I’m just back from a two week training trip and so I find this particularly entertaining. In Japan, bizarrely, bicycles have right of way on the footpath. Why, I have no idea, as it makes no sense whatsoever when there are perfectly good roads all over the place, but as a visitor you’ll frequently find yourself wondering why cyclists expect you to get out of their way when they come up behind you on the footpath ringing their irritating little bells.
Now, armed with that nugget of information, watch this video and see how this person came up with an innovative way to make navigating busy tokyo streets that bit easier. I particularly like the way it works indoors, on escalators and in places it’s very hard to imagine people are expecting to hear a bicycle bell!
I really love the almost pavlovian way that people wander into single file – excellent!
And yes, it is exactly what the headline sounds like it is. The photo is the best bit.
A goth who leads his girlfriend around with a dog lead and collar was stopped from getting on a bus amid fears for passenger safety, a bus firm confirmed.
Dani Graves, 25, and his fiancee Tasha Maltby, 19, of Dewsbury, West Yorks, claim they have been discriminated against by bus firm Arriva Yorkshire.
Seriously, you should read the story for full effect. Fantastic – the world needs more people like Mr Graves and Ms Maltby. (I’ve only just noticed this guy’s second name as I type this – it gets better! ha ha ha!)
Because statistically it’s a non starter, and as soon as you want to make a living out of it, you start sucking dick and the music turns crap. Usually – but not necessarily.
Most people who do make a living out of music often labour under the misapprehension that their success is due to their own talent, insight, intelligence and good looks. Whereas they usually just happened to coincide with a dip in the social fashion continuum and got thrown off on one. There is success among the genuinely talented and emotionally powerful, but it is all subject to the unpredictabilities of chance, market positioning and industry bribery. There is no formula or helpful foresight, other than knowing that if you don’t get off your butt, you ain’t gonna get that gold disc. It also helps to be good looking, have an attitude, a great voice, corking songs with a good hook, a rich well-connected manager, a good PR company etc etc. But these are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for achieving anything.
If it’s millions you’re after, the statistics get even worse. Wait until Elton, Michael, and Billy retire or die.
If it’s TV theme tunes you’re after, move to London, get matey, and prepare to kiss your health, your life and your girlfriend/boyfriend goodbye in favour of shrinking budgets, deadlines measured in minutes, and plummeting programme quality. Again, you may avoid all of these pitfalls, but don’t bet on it.
If you want to get rich selling your precious art, remember that in order for a song to be popular, lots of people have to like it. Just because a song is popular doesn’t mean that it’s not good art or that it’s crap, and just because a song is unpopular doesn’t mean it’s great art or a great song. In the same way that a fat ugly woman is not necessarily really nice, loving and interesting, and a beautiful model is not necessarily shallow, boring and manipulative. Equally, if a song is not popular but you like it, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good or bad song – it just means that you like it and others don’t. If you want to sell records, people have to like your song(s). That shouldn’t be the prime consideration in writing the songs – just be aware of it when selecting the songs to offer for sale. Some art should definitely go into private collections. Before the auction.
As a journalist that works primarily with Sunday newspapers and mostly always has, I have a soft spot for the things that make Sunday newspapers different from their daily cousins. Roger Alton – editor of the Guardian – has written an excellent piece on the ongoing role of the Sunday that’s worth a read:
Something for the weekend
Quality Sunday papers remain in rude health, even as their daily counterparts struggle for circulation in the face of the web and freesheets. But can that continue? By Roger Alton