If there is a betrayal of that trust [in public organizations], there is a crime. The opposite of truth is not just a lie, the opposite of truth is chaos.
The chaos that is in danger of bringing down the institutions we depend on, to deliver justice.
The final words of fictional character, Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox), in the finale of Season 22 of the BBC Series Silent Witness. Writers Virginia Gilbert and Michael Crompton have come up with one of those most memorable of TV moments. This is right up there with ACN ‘News Night’ anchor Will McAvoys speech of why America is not the greatest country in the world, written by Aaron Sorkin.
Trump, #BREXIT, et al. All seem to be creating chaos, by undermining the institutions, through the opposite of truth.
I’ve written a number of harsh posts about those living in rural America, mostly based off the perception that is pushed by the Republican party, that is, rural Americans don’t understand, and resent urban Americans. That rural Americans are the god-fearing, backbone of America and urban and city dwellers are welfare dependents, and worse still, socialists. Certainly, the Republican party continue to push this agenda today, dividing sub-urban and rural communities from the cities.
As shown here, rural Americans claiming benefits has sky rocketed between ’96 and 2015; increasingly, the programs getting cut, adversely hit rural America harder, as rural Americans are smaller in total number; medical coverage may not “be a right” according to the Republican party, it should be a “choice”, try maintaining a community without easy access to modern healthcare; schools are also a right, without them, not only are local taxes higher, more subsidy is needed to get kids to schools outside the city. School Choice won’t save rural schools without a massive rethink.
However, rural Americans, and farmers especially, deserve another perspective. They’ve largely been screwed by the “agricultural industrial machine”. Sure, many farmers have sold out and reaped substantial profits, more though are barely getting by. There is a lot to be said about a community completely upended over the last 30-years.
Laura Dunn, Two Birds Film (Austin TX) has produced a beautifully filmed, subtle, but brilliantly edited, and panoramic, poignant portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the eye of American novelist, poet, and activist, Wendell Berry.
Berry represents, if not the best known defender of rural, natural America, then certainly the most eloquent. His contributions to Lauras’ other major work, The Unforseen, were the first I’d heard of him. Certainly, this profile certainly made me think again. You can watch the trailer on youtube(below) or the complete film on Netflix.
“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope” American author and poet, Wendell Berry.
Farmers are getting approximately the same per pound now as they were in the 70’s. In the 70’s a pickup truck cost $7500, today it costs $35,000… Industrialization and automation killed the small farms.
Through soil erosion, toxicity, polluted rivers and polluted air. What we have sacrificed for all the choice we have is to be absolute slaves, to the people who want to to sell us what we need to survive.
The best way to predict the future is to invent it
In my career I got many things right, and many things wrong. While Amazon was still a small time bookseller, and Youtube for the most part didn’t exist, it was obvious both business models would thrive. While I couldn’t convince IBM to pursue either of these opportunities with ny success, we demonstrated the technology perfectly. My “Wired for Life”
Presentation contains some of my wins, and many of my losses.
It was much easier to build on these, especially the societal impact in my 2003 “Trends and Directions” presentation. Societal impact is much easier to predict as you can demographic data, current trends and it’s pretty easy to extrapolate. Technology adoption is much harder.
Many of these predictions are not useful, after all who needs a robot to write high school essays? Many though will continue to fundementally change work and life as we know it.
What they are though is a signal in the way the World Economic Forum predicts the technology will develop, and to some degree it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Watching this and reading many of the “machines are coming” articles that have been published over the past 5-years, it’s easy to become depressed about the rise of automation, AI, and robots. In a year when the sequel for Blade Runner will finally appear on our screens, there are some key things to remember.
There is no magic, no silver bullet – If they can’t explain it, or worse don’t understand it, they have not invented it. Machine learning is great, but the machines can only learn with the machine learning constraints they have.
Listen to the doubters – Doubt is very different to dismissal. People who dismiss possibility out-of-hand either don’t understand the opportunity and the potential, or are afraid of the change. It’s the doubters who have thought things through and understand the problems and the weaknesses.
Don’t fear automation – If you do, you will be left behind. Learn, adapt, change; if possible work to invent the future By all means be a doubter, don’t be a dismisser.
Find a problem, don’t start with a solution – AI, Robotics, Big Data, Machine Learning, Algorithms, Neural Networks are all speciality fields, grabbing onto them and asking how can we use them isn’t useful. The more specific you can be about a problem that needs solving, the easier it will be to identify the correct technology.
Be Human – the more we automate, the more important human interaction becomes. The more empathy you have for someone who has a problem, the more likely you are to be able to understand how to solve it. Empathy, the arts, sports and human interaction are all fields where robotics and automation are least likely to take over.
More Human than Human – Dr Eldon Tyrell, The Tyrell Corporation
In my medium feed at the weekend was a link to a post titled “British skinheads in the 1980s were young, pissed, and stylish as hell“. I scanned through the pictures, read the accompanying text, and see just a very small slither of a culture and a style that I and my friends wouldn’t have been associated with in 1972, and would have rejected. Yeah some of us were involved it fights at Football matches, it was of it’s time.
As I sit here today, my clothes are still inspired and styled by those days, I’m even comfortable with a #1 haircut. While Richard Allens books Skinhead, Suedehead, Boot Boys, Skinhead Escapes, Smoothies, Terrace Terrors, Boot Boys and the final Mod Rule chronicled a generation, it’s unlikely that any single person experienced more that a few of the fictionalised events as youth culture was moving too fast.
Where I grew up in Hemel Hempstead we were almost exclusively white, and with London our nearest big city which had been hugely multicultural, for hundreds of years, racism just wasn’t a thing. So the toxic, hatred filled skinhead imagery of the 1970’s – 80’s just doesn’t ring true for me.
There are a few interesting videos online, two of the best by Don Letts. Letts was the DJ at the Roxy Club and before that, Chaguaramas, and we were there on New Years Eve 40-years ago at the Clash gig, we walked out, our time had passed. Letts films, especially the story of Skinhead, and it’s predecessor, the Fred Perry Sponsored, Subculture of British Music and Street Style take a serious look at the genre. I’d love the chance to talk to Don one day.
Thursdays Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London discussed and took submissions from the listeners on their top-3 British Youth Culture films featuring music. I’d not heard of many of them, so I hit the BBC iPlayer pause button and made a list of all those mentioned. The films are listed as they came up on the show.
The most popular films mentioned, including by Robert were Quadraphenia, Take it or Leave It, and Babylon.
Quadraphenia (1979) features one Gordon Sumner aka Sting, as we as Phil Daniels and is set in London in 1965. The music is predominantly American acts, but features 4-tracks from the Who.
Stardust(1974) features then “teen pop-idol” David Essex as the pop star Jim Mclean and was a follow-on to the 1973 film, That’ll be the day. It was a surprisingly gritty film, and certainly had an impact on me. The soundtrack is primarily numbers by David Essex and Dave Edmunds(as the Stray Cats).
Babylon(1980) features Brindsley Forde’s character as he takes his reggae sound system based in west London. The film was for the most part set in “current times” and was no a retrospective. It was a relatively low-budget film compared to the first two entries.
Telstar– The Joe Meek Story(2008) set in the 1960’s about about Joe Meek, the flamboyantly gay, tone deaf, songwriter-producer behind the ’60s. Features many 1960’s tracks.
The Harder they come(1972) – Honorary entry, highly rated, not British. Features reggae star Jimmy Cliff(and others), filmed in Jamaica. Reggae soundtrack primarily featuring Jimmy Cliff, but also Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Dekker.
Breaking Glass(1980) London new wave/punk scene – featuring Phil Daniels, Hazel O’Conner and Jonathon Pryce.
Absolute Beginners(1986) Set in the late 1950’s, famously features David Bowie and Bowie tracks, but also Sade, Paul Weller and Gil Evans.
Young Soul Rebels(1991) Set in London 1977 and the Queens Silver Jubilee celebrations and two friends running a pirate radio station. Music features many jazz-funk style tracks popular at the time.
24-Hour Party People(2002) Retrospective on the mid-1970’s with Tony Wilson setting up Factory Records whose acts included Joy Division(New Order), The Happy Mondays. Features racks by the Clash, the Pistols, Happy Mondays, Simpley Red, New Order.
Human Traffic(1999) features the Cardiff club scene of the 1990’s and a story around a weekend of music, love and club culture. Varied club, trance music tracks inc. Fatboy Slim, Public Enemy, Armand van Helden and more.
Velvet Goldmine(1998) set in 1984, but primarily about the 1970s glam rick era. Surprisingly features Ewan McGregor and Christian Bale, also Eddie Izzard.Music from bands of the glam rock scene inc. Roxy Music, T-Rexx and also contemporary artists such as Thom Yorke.
That’ll be the day(1973) drama set in the late 1950’s/early 60’s with David Essex as the lead, and featuring a soundtrack of early rock and roll, primarily American inc. Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Bobby Darin et al.
HELP!(1965) drama film featuring the Beatles and their music, but based on a story about Ringo and a ring being a human sacrifice.
The Commitments(1991) – story of a imaginary Irish band the Commitments and their struggles to make it. Features classic remkes by the band of classic songs. Features the vocals of lead singer Andrew Strong.
Kill Your Friends(2015) drama set at the height of the Britpop music scene in the 1990’s.
Expresso Bongo(1959) drama about the music business featuring Laurence Harvey and Silva Sims, Cliff Richard. Cliff Richard provides much of the soundtrack.
Pink Floyd The Wall(1982) not clear(to me) this film belongs, but it is set in the UK and around the music business. Pink Floyd provide majority of soundtrack.
Control(2007) biopic/profile of Ian Curtis the troubled lead singer of Joy Division. Soundtrack includes tracks from glam rock(Roxy Music, David Bowie) through Punk through electronic and especially remade and original Joy Division tracks.
Backbeat(1994) dramatization of the Hamburg(late 50’s) period of the Beatles. Soundtrack by various artists from the time.
Flame(1975) drama featuring the band Slade as 1970’s band Flame. Features reworked Slade tracks, also many stars of the then pop-music industry are in Cameos.
Bronco Bullfrog(1969) gritty East London drama covering the period and influences that lead to the Mod movement.
Radio on(1979) road trip drama set in 1970’s Britain. Soundtrack features Bowie, Kraftwerk, Ian Dury and the Blockheads
Born to Boogie(1972) – features Marc Bolan and Ringo Starr pseudo documentary about T-REXX.
Nowhere Boy(2009) dramatization of the formative years of John Lennon. Sountrack features tracks by Elvis Presley, Dickie Valentine, Gene Vincent and others, as well as remakes of tracks by cast members.
Beat Girl(1960) (I assume not the 2013 DJ based remake?) Released in the US as Wild for Kicks. Set in the late 1950’s features numerous British character actors including Adam Faith, Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee. Notable John Barry’s first music soundtrack commission, with vocal tracks performed by Adam Faith.
Blow-Up(1966) archetypal mod photographer shoots mysterious beauty drama featuring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave et al. great jazz soundtrack by Herbie Hancock.
Performance(1970) Classic Nicolas Roeg film about an east London gangster and a former rcok superstar. Stars Mick Jagger; also an appearnce by one of my favorites from the 1970’s Callan series, Anthony Valentine.Sountrack features track by Merry Clayton and Buffy Sainte-Marie, and one by Jagger.
Sid and Nancy(1986) morbid biopic about Sid Vicious of the sex pistols; features Gary Oldman. Soundtrack features classic Pogues performances, also Joe Strummer and the Sex Pistols and others.
The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle(1980) “documentary” about the Sex Pistols break-up, from the point of view of Malcom McLaren the Pistol manager. Soundtrack includes many Pistols songs specially engineered for the album using older lyrics and band members, as Johnny Rotten refused to participate.
Catch us if you Can(1965) released in the US as “Having a wild weekend”. Eponymous movie named after the David Clark 5 (DC5) hit, filmed at the peak of their success. The film is a drama about a model and a stunt actor.
Still Crazy(1998) (incorrectly called Strange Fruit on the Elms show). Features Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail and Bill Nighy, as well as many others. The seminal 1970’s band “Strange Fruit” reuniting after twenty years of silence. Soundtrack contains tracks by the cast, written by the likes of Chris Difford, Mick Jones, and Jeff Lyne(ELO).
It couldn’t happen here(1987) Surreal Pet Shop boys movie, based on memories of Lowe/Tennats childhood, crossed with Mrs Thatchers late 80’s England. Ensemble British cast including Barbara Windsor. Soundtrack by, and featuring classics of the Pet Shop Boys.
Smashing Time(1967) Comedy drama filmed in London and written by George Melly. Stars Rita Tushingham, Lynn Redgrave and Michael York. Lots of satire, also Juke Box Jury is parodied.
Spinal Tap(1984) American film, Directed by Rob Reiner and set in 1982 about a British heavy metal band, Spinal Tap. Film didn’t qualify for a formal entry in the list as it is staged around the bands American comeback tour, filmed in California, and thus not about British youth culture. Soundtrack features songs written and performed by the cast.
The Rutles(1978) original title All You Need Is Cash. charts of the adventures of the prefab four, a total Beatles send-up. The soundtrack also parodied many Beatles songs, and features the work of Neil Innes of Monty Python. Actually, if you like the Beatles, this film is quite good, if you don’t like the Beatles, this film is very good.
From the Robert Elms Facebook page:
British Hustle(1978) – Few details, seems to have been a film shot at Clouds, Brixton, featuring some of London’s club dancers at the time, including Tommy Mack. Also includes Greg Edwards as DJ.From this clip and this clip on YouTube, seems to be a documentary rather than movie.
Pirate Radio(2009) original title The Boat that Rocked. Movie about the early days of pirate radio, set in the 1960’s, primarily a comedy parodying Radio Caroline. Soundtrak contains many classic tracks from the time, mostly British.
I mentioned this list and the show on Stuarts facebook page. Stuart runs a fantastic used music and record shop. He is a brillaintc resource, and in a flash came back with these two films which hadn’t previously been listed.
Rude Boy(1980) Features The Clash and a fictional roadie as well as actual events from the time. Shot in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Soundtrack includes live, rehearsal and recorded versions of Clash tracks.
Dance Craze(1981) documentary film about 2 Tone. Film includes broad selection of live performances of 2 Tome bands at the time including Madness, Bad Manners, The Specials, The Beat.
Do you have any others to include in the list? The classification was British, and Youth Culture, that featured music. Documentaries were not really included. Feel free to add a comment below and I’ll update the post.
While you can find copies of most of these movies online, many legitimate through the British Film Institute aka the BFI, also through streaming services such as Amazon, and Lovefilm, I’m not going to include links here.
This short film with just a few-hundred views, was made in 2007. It’s a story come pseudo-documentary made about the declining Northcross Mall here in Austin, which was a few years later replaced by yet another suburban Walmart.
This film, captures everything about Austin that bought me here. A massive piece of Americana, a throwback to the 50’s in many ways. It’s well written, well narrated, and contains many spoken gems, including this one
we are trading quality for quantity. When you trade quantity for quality, you are trading you dignity.
In some ways, the main characters, somewhat “Fonzy” like represent an iconic character type, James Dean, Rebel without a cause. It’s 15-minutes, a great watch. Catch the disappearing Austin before it’s gone forever.
I’ve not covered music and arts projects I am, or have been involved here, much to my changrin. My film ventures have taken a back seat this year, although Moving Day continues to garner awards, my role as Associate Producer has long passed.
Yesterday I had the chance to catch-up with Tamysn and James the two driving forces behind toyface. They are just off their frantic album launch phase, I was Executive Producer for, and we talked on Skype to look at the next few weeks and getting a promoter and publicist involved to help them gain wider attention for the album.
You can hear and buy the album from bandcamp, here. If you have any radio contact, even here in the USA, or especially in Austin, I have a few CD’s that I can send you to help promote their work.
If you like what you hear, they also have a soundcloud page here, which has some great remixes, including this one from Oilver Si.