The Null Device
Frank Broughton, co-author of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, writes about how the Nazis were responsible for disco, or more precisely, how the peculiar phenomenon of dancing to records in cellars originated with a subculture of French kids who defied the Nazis' bans on jazz and swing, dressed up in ostentatious costumes and called themselves les Zazous.
Imagine, amid the grey serge of wartime France, a tribe of youngsters with all the colourful decadence of punks or teddy boys. Wearing zoot suits cut off at the knee (the better to show off their brightly coloured socks), with hair sculpted into grand quiffs, and shoes with triple-height soles - looking like glam-rock footwear 30 years early - these were the kids who would lay the foundations of nightclubbing. Ladies and gentlemen, les Zazous.
The Zazou look was completed with high collars, impossibly tight ties and long sheepskin-lined jackets, with a curved-handled umbrella carried at all times (copied from British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, regarded as quite a style icon). Female Zazous wore short skirts, shabby furs, wooden platform shoes and dark glasses with big lenses, and chose to go hatless, to better show off the single lock of hair they had bleached or dyed. They took their name from the Cab Calloway-style scatting in a song Je Suis Swing, by their hero, French jazz singer Johnny Hess.
As the pogroms began, some Zazous went even further and took to wearing yellow stars of David to show solidarity with the Jews. To underline their outlaw musical taste, they wrote "swing" across them. Several found themselves in internment camps as a result. Even stranger, when liberation was imminent, female Zazous blacked up their faces to show their love for jazz and America.
Air transport authorities are warning that increased security measures, including cabin baggage restrictions and extra screening, will be permanent, with restrictions on liquids and bans on certain types of cabin luggage remaining in force. Passengers may next have to surrender belts and trousers (or wear special pocketless flight suits, yet to be introduced) as such could be used by terrorists to smuggle explosives undetectably. Though even that won't stop terror mules with bombs inside their bodies:
"Quite frankly, that kind of experimentation has been taking place. We know that they have been testing strapped-on explosives on animals in the Middle East for years and it's not a magical leap to try inserting it into the rectum," he said.
Terrorists have already used mocked pregnancy prosthetics to slip bombs aboard planes, but no one has tried the mule approach yet, according to Harvey "Jack" McGeorge, a former Marine Corps bomb disposal specialist and a former Secret Service security specialist.
By smuggling explosives inside one's body, a suicide bomber would likely foil all of the current airport scanning technologies, as well as many future ones.Perhaps the solution for air travel in the age of perpetual terror will be to anaesthetise all airline passengers, place them in coffin-like life-support pods for the duration of their journey and reawaken them at the other end? That would also allow more passengers to be carried on a plane and eliminate the costs of food, drinks and in-flight entertainment, further cutting costs. Either that or resign ourselves to a certain proportion of flights being downed by terrorists (much in the way that people accept that a certain (much greater) proportion of road journeys end in fatal car accidents) and just regard it as the luck of the draw.