Category Archives: music

Hybridity in music – for Cello.

This was a surprise, at the least:

Solo Cello String Ensemble (4-4-4-3-2) c. 25 minutes

https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5c04v6g3

 

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“Clifford uses the word to describe ‘a discourse that is travelling or hybridising in new global conditions’ and he stresses ‘travel trajectories’ and ‘flow’ (Clifford 1994, pp. 304 /6). Worrying that assertions of identity and difference are celebrated too quickly as resistance, in either the nostalgic form of ‘traditional survivals’ or mixed in a ‘new world of hybrid forms’ (Clifford 2000, p. 103), he sets up an opposition (tradition/hybrid) that will become central to our critique of the terms” (Hutnyk, 2005: 80).

 

Tradition – Hybrid – Survival is a work for solo cello and string ensemble. The requirements for the ensemble are 4-4-4-3-2 divided into the following groups:

Local: 1st Vln I 2nd Vln I 1st Vln II 2nd Vln II 1st Vla 2nd Vla Vc DB Diaspora: Vln I Vln II Vla Vc DB

Outsider: Vln I Vln II Vc

See fig.1 for a representation of how the groups should be arranged on stage.

Note that there should be a physical gap between the local and diaspora groups, and diaspora players should be either seated on a raised platform or standing. Outsider players should be offstage and unseen by the audience and musicians. The solo cello is intentionally partially concealed by the conductor. Groups and Their Meanings Each of the groups represents a certain kind of identity group and therefore uses musical material in a particular way. The local group represents identities that share a locality: persons of shared cultural heritage who are co-present, and whose actions are directed into greater alignment through the sharing of laws, practices, codes and customs. The diaspora group represents people of shared cultural heritage who are separated in space and time. They exchange material both amongst themselves and with the local group, but are variously distanced from these interactions, leading to a sense of fracturing and alienation.

The diaspora and local groups relate to each other in important ways. At many points during the piece (for e.g. letters R, S, V, W & Y) the local and diaspora groups play a similar or identical boxed phrase with distinct starting points. That is, all members choose their own tempo but the local group begin together at the conductor’s downbeat while the diaspora group start the phrase when they choose. This results in a blurred aural landscape in which all members explore the same basic idea but with some members more united in this process than others. Moreover, at other moments such as letter T, both groups come together and play in a united, frantic manner.

The outsider group stands apart from both the local and diaspora, and operates completely independently. They are unseen, unconducted and virtually unknown to the wider group since they do not join the ensemble prior to the final rehearsal. This is so that the music played by the outsider group comes as a surprise to the rest of the ensemble, who should not otherwise be informed of the nature of what this group will play. The outsider group represent vague and distant ‘others’; individuals who drop in from nowhere and then disappear again just as quickly. They do not interact with the complexities of diaspora/local relations since their music never relates to anyone else. Moreover, the outsider group parts are partially redacted so that they receive only a small amount of information on the activities of other members of the ensemble.

From AA, the outsider group begin playing a repeated figure at their own slow tempo. Their material is relatively simple – cycling through a series of chords – but since the rhythmic content is uneven and the tempo unknown, it should be practically difficult for the local and diaspora groups to work out when each chord will change. This is intentional and important, since at letter FF the local and diaspora groups are charged with attempting to align their material with these chords. This should be a difficult process that forces the ensemble to listen carefully to this group, momentarily providing the outsider group with the entire focus of the ensemble and a great deal of power as result. For these reasons, it is imperative that the local and diaspora groups do not see the notated outsider parts at any point. Due to the complexity of achieving such an alignment, it is recommended that the only rehearsal at which the outsider group are present should be focused on this section of the piece.

The solo cello charts a course between these three ensemble groups, weaving in and out of the different material they present; subverting, challenging, echoing or extending it. The solo cello remains most distinct from the outsider material, which they do not draw on explicitly until the final bars of the piece. At letter II the soloist detunes their C string to a B while playing, aligning with the tonal centre of the outsider group’s material and thus forming a sense of communion with this group for the first time. The solo cello therefore represents an individual who charts a course between each of these identities, never remaining entirely fixed in any grouping and with the ability to draw on each of these forms of being at particular moments.

For the rest of this confection see: https://escholarship.org/content/qt5c04v6g3/qt5c04v6g3.pdf

Tipu’s Tiger should be Tipu’s – ship it back to the Bagh.

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We should ask V&A head honcho Tristram Hunt if he plans to hand any of the booty back.

The famous sepoy being eaten by a tiger should surely be repatriated to Seringapatnam. It was stolen after Tipu was defeated. I guess responsibility lies with Wellesley, but that the V&A did not itself first ‘acquire’ the object, that is no reason not to return it to the place it was stolen from. Elgin marbles are broken, but this piece is still operative and would be a great draw at the Summer Palace in Daria Daulat Bagh
Who is up for a campaign for this. See pic – they make the most of it here: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/tipus-tiger
also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVPq_7kIufw&feature=emb_rel_end

Kiwi, the imaginary ethnographer

this is, you know, pretty great.

Please visit the show on the theme of Imaginary Ethnography in Experimental Music and Sound on the web space of Jeu de Paume: Fourth Worlds
And don´t miss to check the interactive work Phantom Islands –  A Sonic Atlas by Andrew Pekler commissioned by Jeu de Paume.

Fourth Worlds – Imaginary Ethnography in Experimental Music and Sound

Commissioner: Stefanie Kiwi Menrath

While cultural mixing has been a reality of all societies since time immemorial, there also exists a long history of circumscribing cultures as separate and geographically localized entities. Ethnographic field recording functions as part of this history of positioning and differentiating music cultures in the way that it links sounds to localities and positions them within a cultural cartography. In recent decades, a number of artists have countered static notions of culture and ideas of a territorialisation of music and sound with critical strategies of imagination and the imaginary. Through their work they ask: What are the imaginations inherent in the documentary technique of ethnography? How does the modern technology of field recording perpetuate a Eurocentric perspective of culture? Can sonic speculation destabilize cultural essentialisms or stimulate critical counter-memories?

Composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell set the stage with his eponymous 1980 album Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (reissued in 2014): « I wanted the mental and geographical landscapes to be more indeterminate – not Indonesia, not Africa, not this or that »… « Something that could have existed if things were in an imaginary culture, growing up in an imaginary place with this imaginary music”. In Hassell’s music the notion of “Fourth World” creates an imaginary place for musical and cultural exchange: beyond the utopia of a conflict-free cultural melange or the dystopian clash of cultural forms, it offers to transcend merely additive notions of contact. Hassell’s “Fourth World” draws on the “otherworldly” quality of music as such: not as an extension of the literal, developmental three-world-model, but as an experimental exploration of the spatial and temporal references of music and sound.

Taking Hassell’s notion of Fourth World as a conceptual formation (not as a musical genre), « Fourth Worlds » (note the plural) turns its focus to a series of artistic approaches that navigate the history and present tense of violently colonial, playfully postmodern or brashly contemporary cultural differentiations. « Fourth Worlds » aims to resonate with transcultural sonic thinking that, as in Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic, elucidates the performative and mobilizing dimension of sound and the restless, recombinant qualities of diasporic cultures criss-crossing oceans and resisting monolithic notions of “roots”. In this context, imagination has also been rightly critiqued at length as an instrument of domination and “othering”: imagination plays its part in the spatiotemporal distancing from “other”, “traditional” or “ethnic” cultures – for example in the cartography of former “colonies” and “nation states” and in narratives of the “other”.
Imagination is central not only to this history but also plays a crucial role in contemporary practices of ethnography – be they applied to the field of art or in cultural studies. Strategies of imaginary ethnography think these fields together and methodically reassess imagination. Imaginary ethnography alludes to both the productive capacity of imagination and its reproductive elements: it relates to the “cultural imaginary “ as a negotiation of a vast archive of images and socially shared imaginations about “others”, but it also activates imagination as a creative capacity of making appear a new image of something that neither is nor was.

Taking this as its starting point, « Fourth Worlds » brings together a selection of musical and sound artists and theorists who question the discourse of “otherness” through speculation. Dubious origin myths, mock music archives and phantom atlases, counter-memories and digital diasporic nations as well as islands empathically tied by pacifism, imaginative travel journals, future archaeologies or reconstructions of soon to be lost worlds – the pieces selected for this exhibition project musical and artistic counterstrategies to the ethnographic urge of fixing cultures to places.

Shopping is civil war in Hate mag.

Arbeit – Freizeit – Schlaf ist das scheinbar in Stein gemeißelte Triumvirat des idealen Alltags im Kapitalismus. Der Mensch stellt seine Arbeitskraft zur Verfügung, um existenzielle Bedürfnisse zu befriedigen, aber auch um sich Sachen leisten zu können, die ihn in seiner Freizeit von der zu ablenken, damit er möglichst schnell wieder bereit für selbige ist. Der britische Kulturwissenschaftler John Hutnyks hat sich in seinem Aufsatz Shopping is Civil War anhand unterschiedlicher Musikvideos mit dem Irrsinn des Shoppings in der warenförmigen Gesellschaft beschäftigt:

SHOPPING IS CIVIL WAR
By John Hutnyk

Six supermarkets featured in six music videos. In different ways, I can see why these clips go together and it is not merely arbitrary. It worries me that all my life seems headed for the aisles; shopping surrounds me with monstrous collections of commodities.

Read the rest here

image

….

Mobs, Gangs, Rogues… & The Lumpen

This is a repost from this blog, ten years ago…

As we approach the 40th [now *50th] Anniversary of the founding of the BPP it may be worth remembering that music and politics produced some fine and dandy sounds: Here they are (click the link) The Lumpen – a Black Panther Party Revolutionary Singing group

The Lumpen were: “comrades who liked to harmonize while working Distribution night in San Francisco to “help the work go easier” (another tradition). We had all sung in groups in the past, Calhoun having performed professionally in Las Vegas, and it just came naturally. I don’t remember just how it came about, but Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture, suggested that this could be formed into a musical cadre. Elaine Brown had already recorded an album of revolutionary songs (Seize the Time) in a folk singing style, and this quartet singing in an R&B or “Soul” form could be a useful political tool. Some folks don’t read, but everybody listens to music”.
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another new vid from the album A Philosophy of Nothing by Fun-Da-Mental

Lyrics – from Shamil Khan\s FB

Selected lyrics translated from Arabic

Levels, being stacked upon levels
The meaning of these words?
Who does divulge?
Who is the creator? The beneficent!
And what know ye of the thumping star? Telling signs, that we have not seen before. Follow.

Trees and grasses, sprout in the desert.
The green has overcome the crust.

Profit, we only bill the orphans and the elderly.
The murderer.
The murderer knows not why he kills.
The murdered knows not why he has been killed.
The wind asks the rain…
Who replies ‘I am amazed’
As she turns into wine.
Adultery and usury.
Provocative Dancers and singers.
Egregious acts in the streets and back alleys.
The time draws nearer.
Killing and civil strife is rife
We have awoken and the authorities are as a noose around our necks The hour is upon us.
Shhhh.
Listen.

Chorus:
The Promise is a promise, your time shall come. This world, however it is, shall twist and turn.

And yet the Sun, shall rise from the west.
And the one-eyed one from the east
Claiming divinity, yet he lies.
And I swear by God the Almighty that he is a liar. He shall birth a new order, uni-polar.

Virinder Kalra “Sacred and Secular Musics”

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 14.39.58‘writing a book about music may seem anachronistic given the state of crises that announced itself in explicit acts of violence and multiple human violations’

This is a book not to be missed. Sacred and Secular Musics explains with detail and nuance the contexts of emergence and understanding – and criticism of misunderstandings – of musics from the Punjab. Kirtans, Qawwali, folk and film tunes are given analytical and biographical treatment here – based upon extensive interviews and well-tuned listening practice. Virinder Kalra’s return from a combative engagement with musicological terrain reunites what has been torn apart by scholarship and politics.

A sonorous demolition of colonial era music orientalism is articulated as a necessary and ongoing project. Here it is informed by historical and archival work used as parallel anti-colonial movement against the drone routines of latter day musicology and its patterned responses in hierarchical mode. That surely ever so well-meaning contemporary music scholars repeat the platitudes and privileges of East India Company judgements is not just an error of disciplinary isolation or demarcation – a book on music is never only about music – here at last is one up front about the isomorphism of soundtrack and power. Get this book not so much to read your way into a better music history or to decolonise your record/mp3 collection’s exotic moments, but to recognise those moments as part of a wider dis-orientation through rhythm and poetry – which could perhaps be claimed as the sonic register of a wider Global South resistance, and not to be merely commercialised and packaged into some rote-learning documentary format.

‘despite increasing hardening physical borders and political sabre rattling. Perhaps only music is able, in the absence of cross-border transnational, political or social movements and institutions, to provide an example of another possibility of a refusal to endorse and promote the outcomes of colonial modernity. Even though, this is only a minor chord in the hugely amplified soundscape that is invested in the continuation of the boundaries between religions. It is one that is worth straining for and making the effort to hear’

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And here it is – New Fun*da*mental video


Remote control lyrics 
Verse one 
Miscommunication 

Dissemination of piss abomination 

This amount of patients reminisce about the ancients 

Be the cannon fodder godless and abandoned

Bodies torn apart martyrdom with the fandom 
( this refers to radicalised brainwashing re isis as

Well as that spread by the system )
Twitter big hitter sacrifice the pig litter 

Crazy fantayzee we spit the prose bitter 

Carcasses are targeted from Mali to the caucuses 

The killer focuses upon the thriller stalkers
( more about the same subject talking about how 

Social media is used to promote hate and 

Also how isis etc destroy sufi graves )
The war hawkers overwhelm the poor talkers 

The doors awkward as it slams behind the mind 

Stand behind the times droning on the land mines

Prone to dam times alone to land crimes 
( talks about how the media savvy brainwash the masses )
I don’t know what I’ve been told 

All I have is no control 

Everything that I’ve been sold 

Makes me jump out of the fold 
Verse two 
Brain overwhelmed train over hell

Genocide ride then given the Nobel 
( refers to Nobel prizes given to mass murderers)
Stripped of dignity in a Boston motel 
( reference to Boston bomber who was arrested naked then ended up killed ) 
Blacks that don’t crack and cops that don’t tell

Kill for a cigarillo side looks suspicious 
( about the killings of african Americans )
Wobblers keep pushing that makes the sidis vicious
( wahabis forcing Sufis to become violent )
Death seek delicious with intent that’s malicious 

Smorgasbord of war keep picking at the dishes 

Contortionists sinister decisions 

The first cut is deeper make the incision 
( about radical grooming again …on both sides )
Televised lies compromise the eye sight 

All that is left brother keep your eyes right 
Verse three 
Purge the anarchy they urge the apathy 
(The west is apathetic)
While those with egos run to the tragedy 
(People running to join isis )
Big majesty rig another ruler 
( royal family preparing next parasite) 
Spin like a hula dead bodies in the cooler 
( brain confusion)
Right track wrong path right smile wrong laugh 
( how extremist faith controls even your emotions)
Soul full of holes maybe take a strong bath 

But the stench of decay just won’t go away 

I’m going grey but today that’s okay 

Money pays for bjs that suck out your dreams 

I’m sitting on the fence cos I’m nobodies team 
(About how wealth sucks out your existence )

Ustad Alaudin Khan – by Ritwik Ghatak

(24 mins of music doco from 1963)

someone asked why I posted this. . OK. Maybe because Alaudin Khan was the father of Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi, uncle of Raja Hossain Khan, and guru of Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vasant Rai, Pannalal Ghosh and more…

And that isn’t even to get started on the great films Ritwik Ghatak.

Seismographic Sounds: Visions of a New World

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«Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World» introduces you to a contemporary world of distinct music, sounds and music videos. Edited by Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter and Hannes Liechti. – See more at: http://norient.com/stories/book/#sthash.PUg7A0KE.dpuf

Scholars, journalists, bloggers and musicians from Bolivia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Switzerland and forty-six other countries discuss artistic expressions that may not make big headlines yet, but anticipate major changes to come. Produced in oftentimes small studios from Jakarta to La Paz, Cape Town to Helsinki, these works experiment with the new possibilities of the Internet age and illuminate new spaces beyond the confines of commercialism, propaganda, and bigotry. They foresee a changing geography of multi-layered modernities, far beyond old ideas of North versus South, West versus East. Discover this through a collage of articles, quotations, photographs and lyrics.

«This is a remarkable book. It is brilliantly messy, complex and compelling, just like the diversity of global musical life it celebrates and interrogates in fact.» Tony Herrington, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher, The Wire
Content and Introduction

Download PDF for Content and Introduction

Imprint

Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World
Editors: Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter, Hannes Liechti
Publisher: Norient
Year: 2015
Pages: 504
Edition: 1
Price: 29 CHF / 29 Euro
Graphic Design: gut & schön, Annegreth Schärli

– See more at: http://norient.com/stories/book/#sthash.PUg7A0KE.dpuf

Travelling Archive #bengal #music

Here is a recording project by old friends from Bengal Moushumi Bhowmik and Sukanta Majumdar – recordings that deserve lingering listening. Its not a website to scan and leave, it is one to come back to, replay, languid like, I dunno, the river in the Ghatak films or something. Poingnant soundings from Bauls, Nazrul Fakir, other stuff. It deserves all support, as they ‘try to show Bengal as a complex/complicated place’…

See them in London at Rich Mix from 22 June to 5 July. In the meantime, listen below:

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Bitter Tears Revisited – Johnny Cash – Peter La Farge – #cash #LaFarge #musicandpolitics

When he first discovered youtube, my elder son Emile was an avid viewer of videos about locomotive trains, and the very best of these was the ‘Riding the Rails’ documentary on the history of the railways narrated by Johnny Cash.

http://youtu.be/KNPUZixJA-s

We must have watched this 30 or more times, and this was while I was getting to know Antonino Pasquale D’Ambrosio’s book A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears – the book IS one of the greats, about the Great, Cash, and Bitter Tears, this Great album (am I overdoing it a bit?) was like a mind worm for many many years. I was glad to meet and hang in NYC bookshops and record stores with Antonino a few years back, (thanks Jen Otter) and now it turns out there is a new covers/tribute album and a documentary film about Bitter Tears coming too. This is excellent news fans. Here is part of what David Kennedy has to say about Bitter Tears and the new revisited album [must get] and the forthcoming documentary:

‘It was during this time that Johnny Cash would find his way to the New York folk scene and, in particular, to the work of songwriter Peter La Farge.  La Farge is not a household name by any means, but it is safe to say that his work is remembered largely thanks to Cash.  While the civil rights movement gained steam in 1963 and ’64, Native American issues began to emerge due to problematic government policies and land grabs that continued the United States’ historic mistreatment of Indians and thievery of their land.  Peter La Farge gave a voice to these issues with a string of protest songs that emerged in parallel with the folk movement’s wholehearted embrace of African Americans’ civil rights movement.  As Johnny Cash (along with several other celebrities) found himself increasingly aware and committed to Native American issues – with demands and circumstances quite different from those of African Americans – the idea formed for yet another concept album, this one sure to cause further tension between Cash and his label.  The seeds of Bitter Tears were sown from a unique set of circumstances, both social and personal, and the record proved to be polarizing and often forgotten among Cash’s body of work.

Heartbeat_GuitarThe social, political and musical context surrounding Bitter Tears is wonderfully captured in Antonio D’Ambrosio’s2009 book, A Heartbeat and A Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears.  D’Ambrosio devotes only a few pages to the actual recording of Bitter Tears (notably, the only time Cash and La Farge spent any significant time together) and instead traces the events and experiences that would lead Peter La Farge to write his songs and Johnny Cash to record them.

Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited was no doubt inspired by D’Ambrosio’s book (he is credited as Executive Producer on the new album), and a forthcoming documentary directed by D’Ambrosio will cover both the original Bitter Tears as well as the tribute album.  However, it was producer Joe Henry who assembled the players and produced Look Again to the Wind, which, in equal measure, is a testament to the talents of both La Farge and Cash (who contributed two originals, “Apache Tears” and “The Talking Leaves,” to Bitter Tears).  Musically, Look Again shares as much (if not more) with La Farge’s original interpretations, which in some cases were nothing more than solo acoustic performances.  As you might expect, Henry did not recruit big-name country stars for the project but rather marquee names from the world of Americana, the genre of music most indebted to Johnny Cash these days.  As Bitter Tears has its roots in the folk scene of the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, it’s only fitting that some of today’s leading lights in folk music –Gillian Welch & David Rawlings and The Milk Carton Kids – provide the musical backbone of most of the tracks here.  Norman Blake, the only living veteran of the original sessions, fittingly contributes a track (as does his wife, Nancy Blake).  Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle represent the generation who most directly inherited the torch from stars like Johnny Cash.  The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens puts here signature on “The Vanishing Race” (the lone tune penned by neither La Farge nor Cash, but Johnny Horton), and Native American artist Bill Millercasts a spell on the title track (a La Farge composition that did not appear on Bitter Tears).  Kris Kristofferson tackles the indelible “Ballad of Ira Hayes,” still the standout song here (and easily the most widely recognized, as it became a staple of Cash’s live repertoire).’ (David Kennedy August 19 2014)

Johnny-Cash-Bitter-Tears

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So, if you have. Indeed, revisiting is the occasion of this very visit.a flood of stuff that you need to get into if you have not yet, and a bunch of stuff worth revisiting.

Catch up or rerun, its worth the time – you can read the whole of the Kennedy blog post here. You can get Antonino’s Heartbeat and a Guitar here, buy the original – the Great Johnny Cash – album Bitter Tears album here [a non-Amazon link, sorry Jeff], and the new Revisited album now has a whole FB thing going on here. All in tribute to the memory of Peter La Farge, in itself important.

Pantomime Terror #music #politics

There’s a whole section on Wagner in this, and some humour. For the record… (you can order by clicking the cover to get to Zero then look for the sales tab lower right):

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talk at RMIT Melbourne

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John Hutnyk
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Pantomime Terror: MIA’s lyrical opposition to Capital, Google and the Border Patrols.

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Monday 16 December 2013 4:30PM (room tbc)

Within the prevailing ‘keep calm and carry on’ conditions of the UK security regime, those who find safety in repressive complicity are also necessarily disabled from criticism of the war-effect as it appears everywhere. At best this turns anti-war opposition into performance, staged protest and the lyricism of music, song, drum and video. In this talk I examine the culture-inflected, low-intensity war alongside the shooting war. The video provocations of artists like M.I.A. (Mathangi Arulpragasam) can be read as dramatising difficulties that have occupied British South Asian musicians, writers, filmmakers and commentators in the context of a domestic civil liberties crackdown that replicates detention and terror security repression elsewhere.

talk is on the same day as one by Sophie Fuggle…

Flyers with room details:

GRC Seminar John Hutnyk 161213

GRC Seminar Sophie Fuggle 161213

 

Sharpies (Melbourne Sharps)

a little bit of nostalgia – what was in when I started secondary school. Holidays in Frankston (!). Suzi Quatro was compulsory listening on a portable cassette player. A connie was a kind of cropped woollen cardi. Staggers were madly wide jeans (wide from the thighs down), bought from Epsteins. The knuckles game shown here towards the end… and the elbows… the dancing… indicate a little of the undercurrent of anger… Remember Lobby Lloyd, but also Hush…

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More background = http://www.furious.com/perfect/sharpies.html

It was all downhill after this. traded in the treads (woven sandals with car-tyre soles) and Skyhooks took over, and AC/DC (originals – Bon Scott era), and then later on The Radiators through to Loaded Dice at the Sarah Sands.

Iraq AC/DC

AC/DC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX05dWBoeUs – accessed April 7 2008

Marilyn Manson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOWmTyrz1RA – accessed April 9 2006

Doco http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=1ljXnV4Ibpk  – accessed April 7 2008

Comic stuff: http://gocomics.typepad.com/the_sandbox/2008/03/5-years-1-year.html – accessed March 27 2008