The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'guardian'


Australia's mainstream press landscape has, for a while, been a somewhat depressing sight. For one, most of it is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and is nakedly biased in a way that the Times and the WSJ would never dare be. The major non-Murdoch papers are owned by the Fairfax group, and have spent the last few years trying to boost their circulation by ramping up the tabloid sensationalism; a cursory glance at the front page of The Age reveals a surfeit of celebrity/sex-life/body-image stories more worthy of a free commuters' daily. (Fairfax' other titles hardly fare better; a few years ago, the top article on the WA Today website was “Man gets penis stuck in pasta jar”). And there's always the spectre of Australia's right-wing mining oligarchs, concerned that they may, at some point, stop getting their way, buying up the remaining non-Murdoch papers.

Which is why the recent rumour of The Guardian, the centre-left-leaning British quality daily of note, setting up an Australian joint venture has me excited. The Guardian already has a US online-only venture, which publishes US reportage and columnists (some of whom started off online in the 1990s, like former writer Ana Marie Cox) from a broadly progressive perspective, and, of course, the UK newspaper's output is readable for free on its website. If anything, there is probably more need for such a publication in Australia than in the US, where that space overlaps with existing titles such as the New York Times.

The Guardian haven't confirmed this rumour, though the article in the Evening Standard suggests that it will be headed by Saturday Guardian editor Katherine Viner (who is moving to Australia to run it) and will be a joint venture with Australian philanthropist Graeme Wood (who has set up a non-profit media site, the Global Mail.

The big hope will be that the Guardian's brand as a media outlet, and experience with running a mainstream paper, will be act as enough of a catalyst to forge a progressive media voice with broader reach than the various eddies and skerries of the inner-urban online commentariat (think Crikey or New Matilda), which are easy to dismiss by people who don't live in Fitzroy or Newtown as something you have to vote Green or own a bicycle to read. There are quite a few journalists and commentators in Australia whom such a venture could recruit from such media. And if Gina Rinehart does fill the Fairfax papers with right-wing demagogues, there may be a ready audience willing to jump ship.

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The Guardian's latest blogger is the 19-year-old son of a travel writer, who looks like a character from Nathan Barley and will be writing up his gap year holiday to India and Thailand.

At the minute, I'm working in a restaurant with a bunch of lovely, funny people; writing a play; writing bits for Skins; spending any sort of money I earn on food and skinny jeans, and drinking my way to a financially blighted two-month trip to India and Thailand. Clichéd I know, but clichés are there for a reason.
I'm kinda shitting myself about travelling. Well not so much the travelling part. It's India that scares me. The heat, the roads, the snakes, Australian travellers. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited. But shitting myself. And I just know that when I step off that plane and into the maelstrom of Mumbai - well, actually, I don't know how I'll react.
Anyway, I've had to get malaria tablets, purchase travellers' cheques, sort out travel insurance, try and find a universal bloomin' plug, buy a backpack, get iodine drops (whatever they are) and enjoy dozens of injections off a nurse who was grumpy and trying to get me to pay a hundred quid to minimise the after-effects of being bitten by a monkey. I still fancied her though. She was a nurse.
And in the comments, mayhem has ensued as the Graun's peanut gallery takes him to task for being upper-middle-class/derivative/a smug twat and having only landed this job by virtue of nepotism; some people speculating that Chris Morris and/or Charlie Brooker are responsible.
Here's an idea, Max. Instead of setting off on yet another inane, identikit trip around Asia before you take up your place at Oxbridge (or wherever), why don't you leave your family's Highgate mansion FOR GOOD, cut yourself off from your father's allowance, move into a council estate in Salford, STAY THERE, and then consider writing a blog about your experiences.
As for skinny jeans , Max if ever you eat from the street you may wish you had something a little more baggy and easy to remove, alternatively you could take some nappies. I'm not sure that the street vendors take Amex though.
You can have your first ladyboy experience in Thailand, but maybe you won't journal that one, just look out for the adams apple.
Dear the Guardian, I spend my money on conventionally shaped trousers and other types of equally conventional clothing, food and beverages. My other outgoings include: mortgage, heating, electricity, sundries and entertainment. I commute to work, an experience which I sometimes find amusing but for the most part find an unpleasant grind which I attemt to ignore by listening to music or reading. I'm reasonably fortunate in that I can take about three weeks of holiday a year which I spend either visiting family or travelling abroad. Going abroad sometimes makes me nervous, as do many new experiences as I get older.
Can I have a blog too?
Hey everyone, I'm Max's friend and he's a real genuine guy and a dude with a passion for travel writing and writing in general. So go easy on him until you hear what he has to say. I guarantee you'll be impressed. And who knows, you might want to visit some of the places he's visited because you heard about it from this blog.
So what if he wears skinny jeans? All us kids do these days, don't hate us because you're old!
Oh, and he co-writes Skins, so he's obviously a real talent. AND he doesn't take any money from his parents at all, he shops at charity shops and everything.
My names Peter Getkahn, at 19 I got a job in a Meat Factory to help pay for my Education. You can't follow my career on a blog, because my Dad doesn't work for the Guardian.
He'll definitely find himself, every 'traveller' he meets will be exactly like him.

(via rhodri) class guardian hipsters india nathan barley nepotism thailand travel twats uk unintentionally hilarious wrong 2


In today's Grauniad, Jude Rogers looks at the shoegazer revival:

Ulrich Schnauss, the 29-year-old DJ whose dreamy second album Goodbye came out in June, thinks this escapism is vital to shoegazing's appeal. He comes from the north German outpost of Kiel, a dull town that he saw as the equivalent of Reading, home to Halstead's Slowdive. "Too much music these days is about how bad these towns are, about everyday life, and all the dull details. Shoegazing is a way out of that - there's melancholy in it, but lots of heaven there too." He thinks people connect with dreamy music more in times of world crisis, and points out how psychedelic music has flourished during the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. "It's music that offers a much more profound way of trying to cope with a bad world, isn't it? Offering hope rather than breaking your guitar and shouting 'fuck you!'"
Still, images like these won't help change the minds of detractors. It doesn't help that Alan McGee, the man who signed Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive to Creation, is its most vehement critic. "Bloody nonsense. My Bloody Valentine were my comedy band. Ride were different - they were a rock band, really, a fantastic rock band - but My Bloody Valentine were a joke, my way of seeing how far I could push hype." Although he said Shields was a genius in the Guardian in 2004, he now says, unconvincingly, that the revival is just people still buying his lies.
It's interesting that the two genres of independent music antithetical to the mainstream currently undergoing revivals—indiepop (as per an earlier article by Rogers) and shoegazer— are largely separate worlds. Having lived in London for most of the past 3 years and attended both shoegazer nights (Club AC30, Sonic Cathedral) and indiepop nights (How Does It Feel To Be Loved (which, incidentally, has a "no shoegazer" policy on its music) and Spiral Scratch) nights, I've noticed that very few of the people who go to one kind of night go to the other.

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The Guardian looks at why today's hot new music all sounds like something you've heard before:

Pop's history, not its future, has become the driving force for so many artists that it's possible to get a modern British version of just about any music you care to mention. Want to hear brand-new 1930s swamp blues? Look to Duke Garwood. Ever wondered how the Andrews Sisters might sound transplanted to the present day? Turn to the Puppini Sisters. In search of rock'n'roll sporting unscuffed blue suede shoes? Here's Vincent Vincent and the Villains. The list goes on, taking in the Pipettes' and Lucky Soul's updates of the girl group/60s pop sound, the Draytones' recreation of 60s garage, Selfish Cunt's rowdy 70s punk, Franz Ferdinand's and the Futureheads' homage to post-punk, travelling from genre to genre and decade to decade until it reaches the so-called post-Libertines bands - most prominently, the View and the Fratellis - who take their inspiration from a group nostalgic for the 1970s and who still existed three years ago.
Paul Morley, music journalist and founder of 1980s Fairlight-driven avant-garde artist of Art Of Noise, believes that music has become backward-looking:
"Instead of music moving forward," Morley says, "there was a moment - which you could pin down to around Britpop, or even earlier - when it started to fold backwards on itself. Instead of music having an idealistic need to create a future, to change things and have enough optimism to believe that could happen, it has ground to a halt."
Britpop is one candidate for such a moment, especially with the media-driven hype about it being a new Mod revival/second coming of the Swinging Sixties, which some of the bands and promoters either started to believe or played along with, inaugurating a tradition of fashionable musicians dressing, knowingly or otherwise, in the drag of past eras. In Rip It Up And Start Again, however, Simon Reynolds places the end of originality after post-punk declined, via "new wave", into "new pop" and the mainstream, and places the C86 generation of indie music, with its unexperimental pop song structures and traditionalistic guitar/bass-guitar-driven instrumentation, as the start of a new conservatism in indie music.

If there is no originality any more, then originality becomes simply a matter of choosing which reference points you slavishly rip off (and/or update by putting in more swear words and references to iPods and text messages) more creatively:

Vincent Vincent thinks it's a positive advantage that someone like him has more than 60 years of musical history to draw on. "That's what this whole first decade of the 21st century has been about: this massive amalgamation of all the previous decades," he argues. "We now are in the luxury position that we can cherry-pick our favourite things from the past." A fan of Elvis, doo-wop, Bob Dylan and the 1970s rock'n'roll revisionism of Jonathan Richman and Richard Hell, he aims to "pull rock'n'roll apart and add modern things to it". Doing so, he thinks, makes Vincent Vincent and the Villains "perhaps the most forward-looking, adventurous band out there. I feel like I'm presenting something new, something different that people haven't thought about. An English rock'n'roll band of now."
For the Pipettes, choosing different reference points from your contemporaries is a sign that you're "being intelligent". "If other bands can go as short a time back as Britpop and try to recreate that, why can't we go back and discover music that we think is more interesting?" asks Becky.
Asked whether he thinks it's possible to create original music today, Lucky Soul's Andrew Laidlaw grimaces. "I think that would be utterly pretentious," he says. "And it immediately dates - unlike timeless melody." By its nature, timeless isn't modern - and it certainly isn't futuristic.
Today's hot young revivalists are, of course, not the first musicians to stand on the shoulders of giants; however, they differ from their predecessors in the reverence with which they treat what came before them. Rather than ripping it up and starting again, they elevate it to sacred canon:
Think of the Libertines: they were so enamoured of punk, they hired Clash guitarist Mick Jones as their producer. "I cannot help but marvel at how peculiar that is," says Morley. "Something that was meant to be a radical music has become truly conservative, in that it conserves: it's recreating shapes and riffs and sounds that have happened before."
And here's Momus' take on this.

(via imomus) art authenticity guardian jon savage music originality paul morley retro 0


Having claimed the lion's share of the US non-jingoistic media market with its web edition, the Guardian is planning to establish a US edition. This will be a weekly magazine (perhaps like the Guardian Weekly sold here in Australia), with 60% of the content from the Guardian proper and the rest written by US contributors.

First, it's important to understand the anomalous nature of the Guardian itself. There may not be anything else quite like it in commercial publishing anywhere. The Guardian is the fruit of a legal trust whose sole purpose is the perpetuation of the Guardian. In other words, the trust&emdash;the Scott Trust, created in 1936 by the Manchester family that controlled the paper&emdash;eliminates the exact thing that has most bedeviled media companies: the demands of impatient shareholders and the ambitions of would-be mogul CEOs.

I wonder whether there is any reason that such a thing started and kept going in Britain and not America. Is there some difference between the British and American cultural and/or media environments that would have made something like the Guardian less likely to get going, or to survive, in the US, or is the Guardian's British origin more or less an accident of history? (via FmH)

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A Guardian piece about irony: what the word has meant at various times, whether it did die after 9/11, and whether Germans and/or Americans are capable of it:

Phase four Our age has not so much redefined irony, as focused on just one of its aspects. Irony has been manipulated to echo postmodernism. The postmodern, in art, architecture, literature, film, all that, is exclusively self-referential - its core implication is that art is used up, so it constantly recycles and quotes itself. Its entirely self-conscious stance precludes sincerity, sentiment, emoting of any kind, and thus has to rule out the existence of ultimate truth or moral certainty. Irony, in this context, is not there to lance a boil of duplicity, but rather to undermine sincerity altogether, to beggar the mere possibility of a meaningful moral position. In this sense it is, indeed, indivisible from cynicism.
The end of irony would be a disaster for the world - bad things will always occur, and those at fault will always attempt to cover them up with emotional and overblown language. If their opponents have to emote back at them, you're basically looking at a battle of wills, and the winner will be the person who can beat their breast the hardest without getting embarrassed. Irony allows you to launch a challenge without being dragged into this orbit of self-regarding sentiment that you get from Tony Blair, say, when he talks about "fighting for what's right". Irony can deflate a windbag in the way that very little else can.

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Where did Iraqi minister of information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, famed for his fancifully optimistic statements, disappear off to? It turns out that he's now writing a column for the Guardian, weighing in on matters such as the catastrophic failure of congestion charging in London:

Do not believe for one moment the lies of the immoral mercenaries of the mayoral office. The truth is that in the weeks since the charge was implemented, traffic on all ring roads and major arteries has trebled, while central London has become a scorched wasteland, populated only by foxes and jackals. Yet still millions of innocent people are charged each day for journeys that they have never undertaken.

I wonder how long until some genius from seizes this article as evidence that the Graun really is Saddam Bin Laden's propaganda engine, just like Al Quaeda or Al Jazeera or whateverthefuckit'scalled.

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Now that mobile phones with built-in digital cameras are becoming popular, the BBC is asking readers to send in their photos of events going on around them. It looks like it could be an interesting experiment in grass-roots photojournalism.

Meanwhile, another British media institution is asking readers to stick their logo on their foreheads, and send in photos. This is in response to an ad agency renting out ad space on students' foreheads.

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A Guardian piece denouncing the Lord of the Rings as racist; in particular, taking issue with the way that the entire orc race is condemned, and the problematic characterisation of good and evil ethnicities and races:

To cap it all, the races that Tolkien has put on the side of evil are then given a rag-bag of non-white characteristics that could have been copied straight from a BNP leaflet. Dark, slant-eyed, swarthy, broad-faced - it's amazing he doesn't go the whole hog and give them a natural sense of rhythm.

Over-the-top political correctness, or does he have a point? Is LotR any more "racist" than mainstream consensus was 50 years ago? If not, should old literature be sanitised or censored to kill the poisonous ideas lurking within it? (Perhaps it should be treated like Mein Kampf, and released only with scholarly annotations deconstructing it?) Discuss.

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