Saturday, August 11, 2012

Marilyn Manson has a sweary face

Oh, Marilyn Manson, is there no end to your ability to amuse?:

I just went through the LAX security line with Marilyn Manson. He had "FUCK" scrawled in large letters across the bottom half of his face, with what appeared to be a grease pencil. As we each removed our boots in the security line, he kindly explained that it was not directed at me or anyone else in the airport, but rather at the paparazzi, so that they couldn't sell any photos of him that they took. He was really apologetic about it, and covered his mouth around young children while apologizing to their parents for exposing their child to profanity.
Oh, Marilyn Manson, the only man who would even try to pretend that he's writing a swear on his face to make people not look at him. Your whole schtick, Mazza, is to have people look at you. It's like me taking advertising space, hiring a gazebo, printing up catalogues and then trying to claim I'm not making an exhibition of myself.

Surely, the best way to avoid having the paparazzi take photos of you is by continuing your long, slow slide into the Dennis Norden Memorial Sofa of 'what was all that about anyway' half-forgotten sideshows?


Gibson pay tiny fine; get away with despoiling Madagascar

So, the depth of Gibson guitar's venality in importing wood from protected rainforest in India and Madagascar is unquestionable, but Gibson are still maintain they weren't to know. Professor W John Thomas of Quinnipiac University is quoted by the New York Times:

By the terms of the agreement, Gibson concedes that after traveling to Madagascar in 2008, it received a report concluding that “It is currently illegal to harvest or export ebony.” In 2009, on the advice of a Gibson employee who counseled that a German wood supplier named T.N. (Theodore Nagel) could supply the company with ebony obtained from “the grey market,” Gibson arranged for four shipments of Madagascar ebony. Furthermore, “Gibson assumed, without asking, that T.N. had undertaken to provide it with lawfully harvested and exported materials.”
Ah, yes, that old grey ebony. We all know that. Gibson, we're supposed to believe, were like the customers of Burke and Hare, delivered of a large pile of human body parts and never thinking to ask where they came from.

Gibson's now done a deal with the US government, where it pays a tiny fine:
Gibson will pay a $300,000 fine, make a $50,000 contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and forfeit wood valued at $261,000 seized in the 2009 government raid on its Nashville facilities.
Yes, the fine barely even matches the value of the wood the company had had ripped from underneath endangered species on its behalf. Pitiful.

Worse, because the US government can't quite decide on the status of the other protected wood Gibson - sorry, this totally different German company what Gibson had no reason to believe was anything other than pure than the driven, guv, honest - had procured, Gibson gets it back. That wood is worth USD155,000. As wood. By the end of turning that little lot into overpriced guitars, Gibson might even be showing a tiny profit. Well done them, eh?


UMG lob even more out the balloon

Is the hot-air-balloon of the UMG takeover of EMI rising high enough yet?

Apparently not - even throwing Parlophone (except the good bits) out of the merged company isn't pleasing European regulators, and so UMG is now looking about for other parts of the company to divest in order to keep everyone happy.

If it keeps agreeing to sell off bits at this rate, Universal might wind up smaller than it was before it tried to swallow EMI. The whole thing is starting to feel like the sort of 'what is point' that Quentin Letts might feel like investigating.


Indiana State Fair settlement sort-of fair

It looks like the people injured when the stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair last year an out-of-court settlement which will see them share USD13.2million. Spread between 62 victims and their survivors, it sounds a lot less like a generous settlement, but those affected are being strongly urged to say yes - not least to avoid having to undergo a gruelling legal fight to get a bigger payout which might prove impossible for the organisers to fund anyway.


Chicagobit: Carl Davis

Carl Davis, the man who created The Chicago Sound, has died.

Davis started out in music pulling together playlists for local radio DJs - a job nowadays done by computers. It's unlikely, though, that computers would go on to become a producer, found a label (Chi-Sound), or create a musical genre that defined a time and place.

Davis was also notable as one of the first African-American A&R director to work for a major label.

He produced this:

He was told it wouldn't be a hit. He stuck it out. He was right.

Carl Davis was 77; he died in Southern California on Thursday.


Embed and breakfast man: Elizabeth Fraser

Here's the thing about shooting a video from the audience: it works to give you a sense of what the show was like, and for some bands, it can even be a pretty good bootleg experience.

But Liz Fraser on a tiny microphone, from a few rows back? You're not really getting the experience, are you? It's like buying coffee from a vending machine - it really just underlines what it is you don't have in your cup.

Having said which, here's just one of the videos shot at the Meltdown festival. It really will make you wish you'd been there:



If you want more, Slicing Up Eyeballs has a one-stop collection of filigree-held-down-with-YouTube-duct-tape.


Insane Clown Posse launch legal fight for right to terrible, terrible taste

You might recall that a while back, the FBI looked at the Juggaloos, and decided that something was up. Rather than just being a bunch of dudes with questionable music taste and a surprising amount of time on their hands, the Feds saw a "loosely organized hybrid gang".

I know, viewed from almost anywhere this sounds a bit like the plot of a terrible movie. But in a terrible movie, the Juggaloos would bind together to fight off an alien invasion of the planet - having first tied up a balding, sneering FBI official and stolen his trousers - with the President declaring "we are all Jugaloos now" over the final reel. (You know what sucks? When this film gets made, it'll have to go for best adapated screenplay in The Oscars.)

However, life isn't a terrible movie. Life is much, much worse than that and so the Insane Clown Posse is instead going to sue the FBI.

They held a seminar to announce their plans.

I know, you're going 'am I reading that right? It sounded like the Insane Clown Posse held a seminar to announce an intention to sue a US Department of Justice agency'. That's actually it:

During the seminar, ICP's Violent J discussed how, at first, he didn't know how to respond to the FBI's accusations. But now, they've decided to pursue suing the FBI, "no matter what it costs or what it takes… The main fact is, we're not just layin' down and taking it up the ass." The tent erupted in cheers and chants of "Family," and many Juggalos started crying. As ICP's lawyer, friend, and longtime Juggalo, Ryan Farris said, "This is a family of love, this ain't no organized crime family."
To be fair to the FBI, Ryan, they did only call you loosely organised.

I'm not sure about Mr J's passive anal sex metaphor, to be honest - I can see what he was trying for, but I'm a bit lost as to how that metaphor carries forward; it could just imply that they're going to be a bit more of an active receiver. At this stage we just don't know. Perhaps it will all end in hugging.

While it's all a bit silly in abstract, there are claims that Insane Clown Posse fans are being unfairly treated simply because of their deep, deep love for terrible, terrible music:
One Juggalo, Shawn Wolf of Cottonwood, Arizona, burst into tears when ICP announced that they'd be helping out fans who have been profiled by police for their taste in music. Hugging a friend and saying, "You don't know how much this means to me." He explained that he'd lost custody of his young son solely because of his ICP fandom. "I've been a Juggalo since I was 16. The state of California flew to my house [to see if I was fit], and it's all ICP-decked out," he said. "Just because of that, I was kinda screwed."
Now, there's obviously no way of knowing if it's true that Wolf lost his son "solely" because of his posters and whatnot; it's impossible to say if it was even a factor. But if it was, that's clearly unacceptable; and it's to the Insane Clown Posse's credit that they're sticking up for their fans by supporting people who might have been singled out.

But is suing the FBI really the best solution here? That looks a little like belligerent grandstanding rather than trying to find a solution.

Supporting your fans who have been targeted is a good thing to do; exploiting them to build a myth and, thereby, sell more records, might be a bit of a misjudgement.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Rather than close the Olympics, it looks like they're planning to stun it with a carjack, drag it out to the marshes and finish it off

The Spice Girls singing on top of what-will-by-law-be-described-as-iconic-black-taxis?

You've got to hope this is a piece of misdirection.

I suppose if the Opening Ceremony was designed to convince the world and the nation that we can do surprising and amazing events without falling back on lazy cliche and the obvious, well-worn, and clapped out, the Closing Ceremony is intended to unwind that belief and return us to the sort of chumps who stick Mel B on the top of a Hackney Carriage and think it's a show. While they're dismantling the pop-up Water Polo venue, they're going to take down the temporary sense of national pride, then.


Gordon in the morning: Good news from Noel Gallagher

Remember the unlikely-sounding Noel Gallagher/Amorphous Androgynous "experimental" album? Don't worry if you can't, as it's being quietly dropped. Gordon reports Gallagher:

“It was supposed to be delivered the night I did that press conference and I hadn’t been involved in any of the mixing at that point due to being busy with other things.

“Anyway, it was a toss-up whether to announce it in the first place, but I just thought f*** it, I’ve done it, let’s announce it.

“But since then I’ve been on the road and because of that I’ve not been in the mixing, and I’m not happy with any of the mixes.

“They’re going backward and forward so then the plan was to get mixing done after the tour, but this tour has gone on so long that there’s been no time, and that means looking at it next year.

“But by then I fear the moment may have passed.”
In other words: if not exactly unlistenable, then certainly unsaleable. Whoever could have seen that coming from the very first moment the idea was mooted?


Moyles after dark

There's a lot of excitement at the possibility that Chris Moyles might be shunted off to night-time Radio One, not least because of who used to sit there:

Radio 1 DJ who will step down from breakfast show in September could take 10pm slot once occupied by John Peel
It's true that 10pm was once John Peel's slot. But they moved him round rather a lot - he did earlier evenings, there was that strange period of Saturday afternoons and Sunday evenings; just before he died he was on at 11pm.

Equally, 10pm hasn't always been a "proper" music slot - after all, it's the timeslot where Nicky Campbell would be "back from the weekend", guessing star signs and so on. Which would feel like a more obvious precedent form Moyles at night.

That's if it's going to happen at all, as MediaGuardian did hedge its bets somewhat when predicting the new schedule:
A move to the late-night slot is of a number of options being considered by Radio 1 controller – and one-time Moyles producer – Ben Cooper, as he seeks to find his most popular DJ a new role on the station.

Moyles, who had been tipped for a switch to Radio 2, lost half a million listeners in the latest official Rajar audience figures, slumping to his lowest audience for more than five years in the three months to the end of June.

The DJ may also move to weekends or a weekly show, or may leave the network altogether. His current £1m contract with Radio 1 expires in 2014.
So, that's clear: he'll either be at 10pm, or on weekends. Or maybe in a weekly slot. Or possibly on Radio 2. Or not on the BBC at all. MediaGuardian have really stuck their neck out by choosing not to add-in an arse-covering "he may become a regular presenter on Women's Hour or maybe take over George Galloway's old show on Press TV."


Thursday, August 09, 2012

See You,Tube: Apple dump YouTube from iOS

Thoughtful bit over on Hypebot about Apple's decision to not renew its deal with YouTube to have a baked-in app on iPhones and iPads the moment you've finished making the unboxing video.

There's a slightly cloudy view about if this means people will start to create ad hoc HTML5 apps using Safari bookmarks (at a guess: nope) but this is the key bit:

When I shot this concert footage of my brother’s band, my iPhone encouraged me to upload that video to YouTube, as it still does today. In iOS 6, Apple’s default video destination of uploads will be Vimeo instead, as Mashable points out.

Have you been to a concert lately? There are a lot of iPhones there, many of them shooting audio and video footage. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually, Vimeo will replace YouTube as the place to see concert videos uploaded from iPhones.
It might not tip the balance in Vimeo's favour, but it's certainly going to strengthen Vimeo's position. You do wonder, though, if IAC has thought through what becoming the default location for all that iOS video might mean for its systems.


Gordon in the morning: Beckham fails to leave a bit behind

There's a curious little story about Victoria Beckham going to Pizza Hut written by Gordon hi'self this morning.

It looks a little as if a hapless Pizza Express person thought 'Beckham eats a pizza' was a story, contacted the Sun, and an angle was ratcheted out of the details to turn into this:

Where’s the dough, Victoria Beckham?

Not too Posh for Pizza Express ... but Victoria didn't tip

But even though Posh has more money than God, she paid the £115 bill in crisp notes — and left without leaving a tip. Tsk.
But clearly the deep throat for this story hadn't expected there to be a fuss about the tip:
A supervisor told The Sun [...] “She didn’t leave a tip, she didn’t leave anything. I gave her the receipt and she gave me the money exactly, £115. But it doesn’t matter.

“She’s a good customer and is always nice. You give her something, she always says please and thank you.”
She might be less kind in the future given that your attempt at a 'Beckham does a nice thing' story has been converted into a 'Beckham a tightwad' story by the time it got to the page.

But let's just wind back a bit further and look at Gordon's claim that "Victoria didn't tip", shall we?

She was in a Pizza Express. And who was with her, Gordon?
“Victoria came in on Monday night with six children and David’s mum."
Six children, Victoria Beckham out The Spice Girls, and mother of footballing geezer legend David Beckham. That's a party of eight.

In a lot of chain restaurants, when you have eight people in a party, the tip gets added automatically to your bill. That's not the case in Pizza Express, where the 12.5% mark up isn't triggered until it's eight adults. I've eaten in Pizza Express more than, ooh, twicety hundred times and didn't know until this morning that it was only adults who counted towards the automatic tip trigger.

Isn't it possible that Beckham just thought that the tip had already been added by the restaurant rather than was being tight?


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Madonna cares not for Elton John's opinions

Madonna has apparently shrugged off criticism from Elton John.

Too right, Madonna - who cares what a once-mighty pop star who has been in something of a creative decline since the 1980s has to say about anything? It's best to not waste your time on such opinions.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry, for some reason this post started to vanish as we were typing it. We regret the technical problems, and hope to return to normal service shortly.]


Morrissey: LOCOG has its revenge

After Morrissey's Sixth Form grumbling about the Olympics - "they made it so the Queen came on TV, the Nazis" - how would LOCOG respond?



Well played, Olympics. Your response was faster, higher and stronger.


Gordon in the morning: It's there in the paper, it Murs be the truth

Here's a strange little story tease on Gordon's area this morning:

Now, Olly Murs is the only person in the whole entire world to have competed twice on Deal Or No Deal, so he's not above game shows. But is he really "so desperate for love" he's pestering to go on a dating programme?

The first hint that this is going to be a sloppy job is the suggestion that a show on ITV on Saturday nights, pulling in just shy of five million viewers, is a "cult" programme.

So, we'll bite. Show us your evidence.

The story is written by Richard Moriarty, who, like his famous fictional genius namesake, is called Moriarty.
SINGER Olly Murs is so desperate for love he wants to go on dating show Take Me Out.
He wants to go on the dating show because he's desperate, is he?
The Thinking Of Me star told fans he had been pestering host Paddy McGuinness to get him on the cult ITV1 programme.
Poor guy - pestering Paddy McGuinness, and then telling fans about it.
Olly, 28, opened his heart during a performance at Lytham Proms near Blackpool, Lancs.
He opened his heart? This is sounding like quite a serious place to be in.
He teased a band member for being single, saying: “We are in talks with Paddy McGuinness to get him on Take Me Out."
Hang on.
“Obviously he’s got to join the queue — I’m already at the front.”
Ah. So despite the claims that Murs is desperately pestering McGuinness because he wants a girlfriend, actually the story is 'Olly Murs jokes about a single friend and then undecuts it with some self-deprecating humour at his own expense'.

Even if you assume that Moriarty can't spot a joke - that, perhaps, the fictional smart guy he shares traits with Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory - and he was sitting there going "this is all, clearly, factual, because why would anyone say something that wasn't true?", the story is rotten. Because the attempt to turn a weak joke into a news story still adds a load of made-up detail.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Guitarobit: Stuart Swanlund

Stuart Swanlund grew up hearing a lot of the Marshall Tucker Band's Doug Gray - he rehearsed an earlier band across the street from his grandparent's house. He would go on to cross the road and join a later version of the MTB.

The guitarist, who was 54, died this weekend.

Talking to Tuckerhead, Swanlund recalled what it was like to suddenly step up into a successful band:

It was a real experience. I’d never been out of Spartanburg much. My dad was in the Air Force. I was born in Puerto Rico, but we moved when I was about one. He got transferred to Massachusetts for a few years. Then he went to Thailand and while he was stationed there my Mom and the kids lived in Spartanburg because that’s where she was from. But since I’ve joined the band we’ve played in every state but Hawaii, so I’ve got to see a lot of the country. Playing in Alaska was kind of unusual. It was in the summer and we did our second set after midnight – and it was still daylight outside! But it’s beautiful up there.
He'd been a member of Marshall Tucker more-or-less continuously since he joined in 1986, except for a short period when he was awaiting treatment for dupuytrens contracture.


Writerobit: James McLaren

Really sorry to hear of the death of James McLaren, former editor of Welsh Music magazine SoundNation and - for the last six years - part of BBC Wales, where he was a prolific music blogger.

James died in a traffic accident yesterday.

SoundNation was a brilliant publication under his editorship - proving that arts bodies could be publicly-funded but still burn with a genuine passion.

Our genuine sympathy is extended to his family and friends.


Morrissey goes to the Middle East

Tucked into his grumbling about the Olympics yesterday was also a brief word or two from Morrissey about his recent Tel Aviv tour.

Now, playing a gig in Israel is a highly charged thing for a foreign artist to do. The usual form is for a band to book a date, receive flak for doing so, and then invent a dentist's appointment or a plectrum shortage in order to cancel. (I'm looking at you, Pixies.)

Elvis Costello was acute when he axed his 2010 Israel mini-tour - he said that merely playing there would be "interpreted as a political act", that whatever your motives, whatever your personal beliefs, whatever the make-up of the audience to which you play, it does make you seem a bit ambivalent about what's going on in the occupied territories.

Morrissey is a man who can't talk about taking a stroll down the Old Kent Road without it ending up a years-long legal battle over whether he's racist or not, so he doesn't seem to be the best-placed person to navigate this region of raw emotions and subtle inference.

But he had a go, with Tablet Magazine recording his reasoning:

“There is no point punishing a nation for something that the leader of the country does or says. Look at Syria.”
That seems fair enough, although obviously Israel is a parliamentary democracy and Syria has only just thought of trying adding more than one party to ballot papers, which makes it a little bit different. There's a way for the Israelis to voice their disapproval with their government that isn't open to the people of Syria; it's just most of them don't use it.

But at least he indicates - although not in his usual, forthright, take-no-prisoners, I-say-it-as-I-see-it-Elsie-Tanner style - that there is a problem, that there's something the politicians are up to. But he is here for the people, not those in power. This isn't about fawning over those in power.

Hang about a moment, what was that he said in his statement?
Thank you to the city of Tel-Aviv for granting me the Keys to their city. I just might die with a smile on my face, after all.
Oh.

But maybe it was the citizens who gave him the keys? Do you know, Huffington Post?
The former The Smiths star was in the city for a gig on Saturday and during his visit he was presented with the Key to the City by Mayor Ron Huldai.
Oh.

Still, if there's one saving grace from this, it's that his earlier career slip-ups will have taught Morrissey to avoid going on stage and wrapping himself in a contentious flag sending out mixed and confusing messages in a tinder-dry atmopshere.

Right?


Oh.

Of course, Morrissey couldn't spend very long taking advantage of his new-found freedom to prance around Tel Aviv draped in the Israeli flag, as he had to come back to Britain to warn us about the dangers of cheap patriotism at the Olympics.


Gordon in the morning: Wanted - a different direction

The Wanted, who are very much the Spandaus to One Direction's Duran, are desperately trying to put a brave face on their position by insisting that the comparison - that comparison - is odious:

Max, who kicks off an Australian tour with his five-piece group today, said: “If you had to tick all the boxes of what’s a boyband, I don’t think we’d fit.

“We’re not the most attractive bunch that has ever been in the pop world. We don’t dance. But we can all play instruments, which is what is good about us. We don’t want to be the stereotypical boyband.”
Oh, yes, that's very true that. Here's a picture of the band onstage at T In The Park:
You'll notice they're playing all their own instruments, if you stretch the definition of the band to include all the people who have come on stage to play their instruments while they, er, dance at the front of the stage.

But very different from One Direction. Very different indeed. More like Busted, right?


Monday, August 06, 2012

Morrissey on the Olympics

Oh, does anyone much care what Morrissey has to say about the Olympics?

I am unable to watch the Olympics due to the blustering jingoism that drenches the event. Has England ever been quite so foul with patriotism? The "dazzling royals" have, quite naturally, hi-jacked the Olympics for their own empirical needs, and no oppositional voice is allowed in the free press.

It is lethal to witness. As London is suddenly promoted as a super-wealth brand, the England outside London shivers beneath cutbacks, tight circumstances and economic disasters. Meanwhile the British media present 24-hour coverage of the "dazzling royals", laughing as they lavishly spend, as if such coverage is certain to make British society feel fully whole. In 2012, the British public is evidently assumed to be undersized pigmies, scarcely able to formulate thought.

As I recently drove through Greece I noticed repeated graffiti seemingly everywhere on every available wall. In large blue letters it said WAKE UP WAKE UP. It could almost have been written with the British public in mind, because although the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain, the 2013 grotesque inevitability of Lord and Lady Beckham (with Sir Jamie Horrible close at heel) is, believe me, a fate worse than life. WAKE UP WAKE UP.
Do you see? Morrissey isn't the Nazi, it's US who are the Nazis because of the Olympics.

I'm no fan of the Olympics - just imagine how many missions we could have had to Mars with nine billion quid - but most of today's newspapers have got massive front-page splashes of a Jamaican on the front. Blustering jingoism?

Down in the Olympic Park, orange-haired crowds of partying Dutch rub shoulders with Australian water poloists; Ukranian coaches try to not be glum and Moroccan athletes wander about, winding in and out dozens of different accents.

There's a coherent argument that can be made against the Olympics, but jingoism misses the national mood by a mile, while the "24 hours of royals" just seems like a random misapprehension perhaps grabbed by watching a few minutes of the wrong sport.

Maybe Beckham might land a knighthood, but does Morrissey really think he's going to be elevated to the Lords in the next year?

There was a time when we'd listen to Morrissey, and thought he had something worth hearing. But now he's just the Michael McIntyre of indie outrage; working up a routine floating on faux outrage. He knows he shouldn't like the Olympics, but can't work out why, so he whips up something half-heated, empty-hearted about Nazis and The Spice Girls and Princess Anne.


Gordon in the morning: An Englishman in New York

Liam Gallagher is buying a home in America, reports Gordon. Sorry, did I say "home"?

LIAM Gallagher is taking his bid to crack America so seriously that he’s bought a gaff there.
A gaff. I suppose we're lucky he didn't call it a sweet, sweet crib.

I'm not entirely sure "buying an overpriced flat" really shows a desire to crack America in the way that, say, appearing on a never-ending slew of regional breakfast TV shows and playing a number of smaller venues in the sort of States that tend to score well when they're answers on Pointless. But no matter.

Ooh, Gordon - can you crowbar in a reference to Liam's awful fashion range before we all move on?
The apartment also comes with wine cooler for 40 bottles, an in-building laundry and valet plus 24-hour room service.

These days, he’ll no doubt be putting in requests for his Pretty Green mac to be dry-cleaned.
Thank you.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

On the high wire, dressed in a leotard...

We all enjoyed the sight this week of the world's worst piñata, as Boris Johnson dangled from a zip wire in Victoria Park:

But why was Boris in the park in the first place?

His remarks, once he was on the ground, give a clue:
"I brilliantly decided to come to a juddering halt in the middle of the zip-wire in order to promote our wonderful live site at Victoria Park.

"Get on down to Victoria Park, folks. Free entertainment, hog roast, you name it. It turned out I was the Yuri Gagarin of the zip-wire. I was testing it."
Boris isn't the only one who was hanging in the wind of Victoria Park hoping people would turn up - so too are LiveNation, who had annexed the vast swathe of the park for the event.

They'd been expecting 1.2million visitors across the Olympic and Paralympic weeks, but
Trail By Jeory finally got LiveNation to admit they're a little off the pace:
I asked Live Nation. Spokeswoman number one said 20,000 on the opening night and an average of 8,000 a day thereafter. Again, I asked for the daily breakdown. “That’s the only number we have,” she said. So when I said that an average can only be worked out by having the daily breakdowns, her boss, a very senior dude within Live Nation, called me.
He eventually read them out:
July 27 – 18,814
July 28 – 14,759
July 29 – 8,039
July 30 – 8,169
July 31 – 7,031
Aug 1 – 8,235
Aug 2 – 10,462
Note, these are total daily attendance figures, not the peak crowds at any one time. As you can see, they are a little more than 10 per cent of what the council and Live Nation were expecting.
There was, you'll note, a small uptick in attendance the day after Boris hung against the clear blue sky, so maybe it was worth his effort.

But why are things so grim that Mayor McCheese is having to try and bark up a crowd?

Trial By Jeory thinks that the removal of packed lunches on the way in has killed word of mouth:
I then pressed the senior guy from Live Nation on the question of food confiscation: quite categorically he told me that that was beyond their control, that they had to adhere to Locog’s rules (Locog run the Olympic Games). That’s funny, I said, because I’ve been going into the Olympic Park every day with sandwiches and packets of crisps and not once have they been taken, even by the G4S guards. So he went away and came back a few minutes later and said their rules have now been relaxed, that families can now take in–wait for this–Mars bars, crisps and sweets!
What about sandwiches and other picnic items, I asked? No can do, he said, Locog rules…yeah, right.
It's true that LOCOG have frowned on picnic hampers going into the Olympic Venues, but the only general restriction for Olympic venues is "excessive amounts of food" and the general paranoia about liquids. LOCOG, categorically, do not forbid you from taking in a couple of picnic eggs and a round of egg mayonnaise sandwiches, and so if the security at the LiveNation site is stealing people's food on the way in, that's down to LiveNation.

Boris might enjoy his hog roast, but if you're a family struggling to make ends meet, having to pay closed-event prices for four hungry mouths isn't much of a great draw.

The other major problem with the event is the ticketing.

Now, supposedly, most of the events in the park are free. But the website suggests you buy tickets to get guaranteed entry.

So you've already got a confused message: you can either just walk up and get in, or else, to be sure to get in, you need a ticket. "Shall we go to the park on the off-chance that we might be able to queue for a bit?" is something of a passion killer.

The wise family will book in advance, to make sure their plans come off. Here's where the "free event" becomes a little less free, as there's a booking fee.

Yep, just when you think you've heard every argument against ticket fees, here's a new one - LiveNation's ticketing arm, Ticketmaster (of course) will charge you £3.50 for "ticket fees". For this, you get, erm, an email which you print out. I cannot for the life of me fathom how Ticketmaster feel they do £3.50 worth of work here.

In fact, all it can do is add an extra disincentive to go. Who wouldn't feel ripped off being told they can go to a free event in their park, only to discover that they're being shaken down for cash in order to get access.

Sure, three quid fifty isn't much, and given that it's a totally made-up sum of more-or-less pure profit, I suppose you could raise a festive Union Jack hat to Ticketmaster for not charging £40, or £3.50 per ticket rather than per order. But if you're on a tight budget, it's a hurdle. I suspect it's also a fairly clear signal that the "free" fun is going to be rather less free than advertised - a bad taste in the mouth that no Boris-endorsed hog roast will wash away.

(You could see the Ticketmaster shake-down effect at the BT River Of Music event before the games - brilliant line-ups, great weather, nice venues, but - certainly in Battersea - quite poorly attended because, again, the free event in the park required a payment to Ticketmaster.)

So there we have it: an event that has taken over a large swathe of a public park, pinched sandwiches from the audience and looks to be costing more money than it'll make. Was Boris Johnson being dropped from the sky to try and salvage the event from a terrible hangover?

[I heartily recommend the Trial By Jeory post for the full, murky backstory of the LiveNation event]


Jazz Butcher: Back on the block

(Butcher's block? See? Do you see? Oh, please yourself...)

The Jazz Butcher haven't released a record since the dawn of the century, but are just about to as they've hit double their target on the pledge drive.

They're still taking pledges; cash not needed for the record will be spent on making a tour, and helping the Citizens Advice Bureau. And meanwhile, ten tracks have already been stored on tape.


Who will take up the mantle of second-least-watched TV channel in the land?

Did you know NME TV vanished from the EPGs of our nation back in January? It's passing was low key, like a old soldier who'd lived a good life slipping away quietly in the night. I only realised it was gone when I was filling out an NME survey yesterday and realised that they weren't asking about the TV channel at all.

It's demise comes as no surprise - last year intensive research by Broken TV found it to be the second-least popular TV channel in the country.

So, with NME TV now apparently having made space for something called BuzMuzik, what station is replacing it in the nation's withheld affections?

Happily, Broken TV have produced an updated list of least-watched channels. (The methodology, in short, is to add together the audiences for top ten programmes on the 223 BARB counted channels for the last week of April, May and June, and then divide by 30 to get a figure for the average of the best-performing programmes on the channel.)

So, what do we discover? The bottom fifty is cluttered with music channels - Smash Hits puttering along with 12,500 viewers, for example; Kerrang just keeping ahead of Euronews down at 193; Scuzz and MTV Rocks fighting it out to be ignored by the largest number of metal fans with 9,700 and 9,470 viewers respectively.

But what at the very, very hard bottom of the list?

MyChannel is the least-bothered network in the land, with an audience of 4,170. But in the NME's old position of second-least watched channel is - of course - Q TV. 5,100 viewers, which does mean it welcomes 150 more bottoms - a whole 300 buttocks - onto sofas than NME TV was gathering in. But unfortunately, that's 250 fewer (viewers, not buttocks) than it was managing in 2010.

At the top end of the list, 4Music has dropped out the most watched fifty channels, but the R&B network Starz has taken its place as The Only Music Channel With An Actual Audience. (Also, that of all the UK TV portfolio, Yesterday's mix of Summer Wine and Nazi docs has made it the golden child.)

There's a lot more to enjoy in the tabulated data - go and have a look on Broken TV. Go on.


This week just gone

What people have read this week:

1. Drowned In Sound gives up the daily news battle
2. Jeremy Hunt suddenly worries about media ownership - when it's the Guardian selling
3. Tatu ponder the 'why do they think we're gay' question
4. The Olympic Opening Ceremony revisited
5. Tony Hadley grumbles that One Direction weren't involved in the Olympics
6. Billy Corgan has apparently been having a fight with OK Go
7. RIP: Bill Doss
8. AC/DC disdain iTunes
9. Video: Jesus And Mary Chain bring Jessica Paré out of Mad Men on stage
10. RIP: Tony Sly

This was the meagre offering of new:


The Unthanks With The Brighouse And Rastrick Brass Band - Diversions volume 2


Download Diversions



The Flaming Lips - And Heady Fwends


Download Heady Fwends



The Return Of The Ti-Girls