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hamilton-appealing2‘Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?’ This is title of  the famous Pop Art collage by English artist Richard Hamilton from 1956.

In it we see a body builder, a fashion model, a portrait of an unidentified Victorian man ,  a ‘young romance’ magazine cover, a hoover ad, a TV and a reel to reel tape recorder.

Hamilton’s image playfully mocks the way in which the saturation of  media imagery influences the way we make our lifestyle choices.

Sixty years on, the satire looks fairly mild and humorous rather than disturbing. The world wide web has changed everything. TV and dumb magazine advertisements are the least of our worries.

51c31n5as0lNowadays, with the information overload, our minds have become more nimble but the major drawback of all the online zapping is that we are rapidly becoming less capable of the kind of critical thinking that makes us unique individuals.

Nowadays, by the time kids reach 18 it is estimated that will have seen 500 hours of advertising spots while they will have spent just 5 thousand hours reading books.

Should we be concerned about this?  Derrick de Kerckhove a Canadian born professor and disciple of Marshall McLuhan, thinks so.

The statistics about what he calls the “always-on hyperkids of today” are taken from de Kerckhove’s  The Augmented Mind (40k, 2011).

In this short but cogently argued book he details how the rapid transformation of the digital world has re-wired our brains and fundamentally altered our behavior. One consequence of this is that “people are gradually delegating their capacity for imagining things on their own to processes that do their imagining for them”.  View full article »

Orphans and masters

THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON by Adam Johnson (First published by Random House, 2012)


This is the story of a survivor who has nothing to live for.

Pak Jun Do is a North Korean John Doe and by all accounts a model citizen of a shitty nation.

Adam Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel illustrates that when living within ideological systems it is too easy to get stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hegemony functions to make any way of life appear to be ‘normal’ and/or beyond reproach.

Johnson asks plenty of loaded questions such as to whether it is nobler to be devoted to the ‘dear leader’ (Kim Jon II) of North Korea than to cling to an often elusive American dream. No middle way is offered. View full article »

How Beatle people conquered America

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK  directed by Ron Howard (USA, 2016)

beatlesAfter all that has been written, sung and spoken about The Beatles do we really need another feel good film looking at aspects of their meteoric rise and enduring appeal?

Of course we do!

As an official Apple Corps production you know in advance that this will be another adoring, at times superficial, look at how four young men from Liverpool conquered America and the world. Only the most cynical will complain about this.

I guess the time will come when someone will expose a darker side to this rags to riches story that surely exists. The backstabbing that came soon after the band split, notably in John Lennon’s spiteful ‘How Do You Sleep?’, illustrate that life with the Beatle people was not always so shiny and happy as it appeared. View full article »

Verdena live at Rocca Malatestiana, Cesena – 8th September 2016

verdena1If I had been hipper to the local music scene when I arrived in Italy over 20 years ago I would have been able to follow Verdena from their inception as Nirvana wannabes to the distinctive individuals I witnessed at this stunning open air concert.

My belated appreciation of this excellent band from Bergamo is a good motive for shaking the complacent attitude that goes with smug slogan T-shirt slogans like : ‘I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands’.

I have my daughter to thank for ‘discovering’ this cool band existing right now playing songs from current releases not running through a familiar back catalogue from way back when. View full article »

Caché (Hidden) directed by Michael Haneke (France, 2005)

cacheOn 17th October 1961, the French National Police, following orders  from the head of the Parisian police force, Maurice Papon,  attacked a peaceful demonstration of around 30,000 pro-National Liberation Front (FLN) Algerians.

The events surrounding the massacre and its death toll of anywhere between 40 and 200 Algerians were long denied by the state and were not exposed by the media at the time. The true extent of the massacre only became public around 40 years later.

I didn’t know the details of this shameful cover-up but the ‘truth’ of this recent history helps to understand some of the complexities of Michael Haneke’s subtle and brilliantly acted psychological thriller, Caché (Hidden). View full article »

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