mr. zilla goes to town

Sunday, January 29, 2006

get this in your ears!

Funky lounge grooves! Just what you need on a Saturday night, and just the ticket to keep you cruising through the week at work. I've bottled an hour from last night's set at the Honeypot, Oxford's little red groove engine that could. Check out the tracklist and download the mp3 for your iPod at the new textureDJs podcast blogstation, or you can just instantly stream the mix via Odeo by clicking on this lovely big black button!

textureDJs radio

(And while you're over at Odeo, check out the Commonwealth Club of California's channel - most recently featuring a fascinating and damning speech by former UNSCOM inspector, Scott Ritter.)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

always look on the bright side

So you're Australian. Your conservative government more deeply entrenched in power than ever. It has greater control over the federal parliament than any power in almost thirty years. In the last six months it has set about destroying a hundred years of progress in enlightened labour relations. It's so bored of putting its Labor opponents to the sword, it's now begun to cannibalize its coalition partner, the rural hick inbred half-cousin that's always kept out of sight at weddings. Dickhead surf-bogans are smashing random wogs in Cronulla, and dickhead wogs are bashing random Anglos in Sydney's west.

Still, look on the bright side, at least you've had a century of enlightened labour progress. It could be worse; you could be American.

So you're American. Your radically conservative government has controlled the two electable branches of the federal government since 2000. The executive is so incompetently corrupt that the chief of staff to the Vice President is facing charges of obstruction of justice - the first time a White House official has been indicted for a felony in 143 years. The Republican Congress is so incestuously corrupt that the conviction of a single Bush-pioneer K Street lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, has implicated so many congressmen it could swing the 2006 mid-term elections against them. Your superpower military is grinding itself into hamburger in Iraq, with 70% of personnel rotating to serve in Iraq in 2006 on their third tour of duty. And despite blowing close to a quarter of a trillion bucks on the gambit, insurgent attacks are as frquent and deadly as they've ever been, Afghanistan is going back down the crapper, Osama Bin Laden is still podcasting his little kidneys out, and despite the addition of a cock-ring of a World War Two Memorial on the Mall, the Washington Monument when viewed from the feet of Abraham Lincoln still looks like the world's biggest double ended dildo.

Still, look on the bright side. At least you're still fighting the terrorists. Over in Palestine, they've just elected them to run the joint.

So you're a Palestinian. You've just elected Hamas to run the place: an organisation ideologically committed to the destruction of Israel, and responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and around 500 deaths since the intifada began. Israel, by the way, have in all practical (if not ideological) terms over the last few years committed themselves to the destruction of Hamas. If they don't behave themselves in power, then even by the perverted logic of the aforementioned podcaster Osama Bin Laden, the Israelis are gonna be sleeping so soundly behind their monster wall at night they won't even hear the random hellfire rockets landing in your towns.

Still, look on the bright side. Your newly elected leaders might be terrorists, but at least now they've got a slim shot at respectability. It could be worse, they could be the parliamentary wing of the British Liberal Democrats.

So you're a member of the parliamentary wing of the Liberal Democrats. After (I think) your party's strongest ever showing in a UK national election in 2005, you and your fellow members rounded on your virile, chummy and hard-boozing (but then apparently determinedly ex-boozing) leader Charles Kennedy and pulled the rug from under him. Christ, it'd be as if Graham Richardson had gone the squirrel on Hawkie after one too many lemonades celebrating the America's Cup victory in 1983. In the current leadership contest that has followed the spill, of the four gentlemen candidates in the gates, already not one but two have been forced out of the closet, one of them both married and having fornications with the occasional rent-boy, the other just a such a hypocritical ning nong even the readers of the Daily Mail can smell it.

If this disgraceful display - in political terms, I could give a toss about how some other people may see the "moral character" issues - leads to the dissolving of your support and relevance over the life of the current parliament, you'll know that you bunch of gormless gits have handed the next election to the Tories on a plate.

Still, look on the bright side. At least you've got a party to go to. (And chances are that after a few pints of gin, at least somebody is gonna get some, somewhere - with or without a mighty national cockumental dong.)

It could be worse, you could be George Galloway...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

good morning iraq

...because beheading videos are so 2004:
Shrouded in woollen ski masks in a makeshift television studio, members of one of Iraq's most ruthless militant groups debate tactics in a propaganda video aimed at gaining new recruits for the insurgency.

Insurgent group Ansar al-Sunna, which has kidnapped and killed foreigners and Iraqis, seems to have embarked on a more dynamic appeal to sell holy war -- the television studio interview. A masked man smartly dressed in a sport coat and identified as the head of the group's information section asks his guest about military strategy. The interview is interspersed with video images of young fighters firing mortars.

"Rockets are preferable in attacks on U.S. bases because they are outside cities and attacking police stations puts civilians at risk," says the interviewee, identified as a military expert from the same organisation. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the video. But it contained images seen on many other militant discs.

The video looked like the insurgent version of breakfast television in Western countries, but with one crucial, incongruous difference -- both interviewer and interviewee conceal their faces with black woollen masks to avoid capture.

Now that's what I call embedded journalism. These guys might be a few years behind the US in media sophistication -- where current and former military personnel have been fixtures of the television pundit class since about 1990 -- but clearly they're quick learners. Still it seems that the lessons aren't all flowing in one direction in Iraq. How lucky we are that the strategists of the Axis Of Good are equally adaptive and responsive in their efforts to win over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, as No Quarter's Larry Johnson in Washington reports:

Had dinner last night with an old CIA buddy who has just returned from Iraq with some discouraging news. Although our troops and intelligence operatives are killing scores of insurgents (my friend estimated the kill rate at 160 enemy per each friendly) the insurgents keep coming. As Sy Hersh predicted in last month's New Yorker, the military commanders decided to shift from ground confrontations to high altitude airstrikes. According to press reports on Wednesday, for example, the United States carried out 53 strikes inside Iraq. One of these, the mistaken bombing of a civilian home north of Baghdad, was condemend by Iraqi officials.

There should be no doubt our tactics have changed. The United States is relying more on aerial bombing, most of it high altitude or stand off, rather than close air support for troops on the ground engaged in a fight. Despite the promise of "precision" bombing, aerial strikes are anything but precise. They are very lethal and very powerful. On that front, a lot of insurgents, mostly Iraqis, are dying. But a bombing campaign, short of nuclear strikes that vaporize the whole country, cannot defeat an insurgency. We do not have enough planes or pilots, not to mention bombs.

Be in no doubt that dropping bombs from 15,000 feet on urban neighbourhoods is about as discriminating as a 1940s Alabama bus. Still, willy-nilly slaughter of random innocent victims seems to be doing wonders for the jihadi insurgency, so why not learn from the best, eh? You just wonder which side is going to trot out the "we have to destroy Iraq in order to save it" line first.

Monday, January 23, 2006

don't mind if I do

I think if we're going to survive the mass culture world we live in, it behooves us to create. Yes really, bloody behooves. That's the damn word and the only word that sockets into my mind when I think about this.

At first I thought it was a way to survive, of escaping the slow fatality of consumption for something both higher and lower: the class of producer, not consumer. One whose choices are not chosen for them. He who writes scripts is more than the sum of his choices between the red shoe and the blue shoe. She who puts paint on canvas or light through a lens is more alive than the red or the blue. They who read, blog, ingest, synthesize, mix, remix, secrete and excrete their culture back at the world are more in control of how they relate to it. They who think about the lives in centuries past thrown willingly on the gears of the satanic mills to give us a mere eight hour day, revulse at millions of lifetimes each year spent motionlessly enthralled to a glowing, flickering, marketing delivery system.

But you know, I think it's not a dichotomy between being a producer or a consumer. The person who is one without the other must be one in a ten million: Mozart writing tunes stolen straight from the tongues of gods. We all have a choice though between active and passive consumption, and engaging in that more forcefully than reaching for the remote.

So let's all think. Talk. Write. Create. Do.

Choosing the time and place of our battles is surely the secret of our self-defence.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


And you thought bad hair was owned by the 80s.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

girona street art

Girona is about an hour north of Barcelona by train.

The medieval town and old Jewish quarter are on the east bank of the Onyar river are a very enjoyable walk, and the Cathedral de Santa Maria nestled at the top of the hill, with the widest Gothic vault in Christendom, is quite a space. It was even enough to shake me momentarily from my growing cynical curiousity about the sheer decadal volume of extracted peasant labour that went into funding and building these pre-modern skyscrapers. But it's the other side of the river, throughout the modest and fashionista-focussed downtown, that has some of the most thoroughly prominent urban art murals I've seen.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

homage to Catalonia

If you enjoy reading a historically thorough, useful and measured travelogue of a European city, then you might like to head over to the list of travelogues written by my very good friend and Igougo 2005 member of the year, Owen Lipsett. Since Owen hasn't yet put pen to keyboard on Barcelona and the nearby Catalonian region, here are a couple of less erudite words and a few pictures.

Getting out from under the eternal low grey cloud and mid-afternoon nightfall of the English winter, and into a mediterranean latitude with 93 minutes-per-day longer between sunrise and sunset was brilliant: the brilliance of actual colour and solar illumination. Blue! Purple! Green! Vitamin-fortified fruit loops for the optic nerve.

A Gaudi's eye view through one of his fountains in Park Guell, atop the city.

About 90 minutes by train north is Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dali, and home to Dali's mausoleumuseum. A day inside this building no doubt contributed in some way to my state of mind when posting last Friday night!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Is this the way to Amarillo?

Ms Z and I ended up in London this Thursday night for some coverband pop - well, the 94 year old London Bar off Nuo de la Rambla in Barcelona anyway. Seriously, until you°ve heard "Back in the USSR" in the original Catalan, you don°t know how lucky you are.

In light of this Damascene experience I have at last made a resolution for the coming year: namely to further develop, or adopt anew, a joyous personal eccentricity. While facial tics and garden gnomes are old hat, and limps and penguin fetishes are completely passé, Iàm sure there°s still a niche market in amateur cartography.

Anyone know where I can get a second hand theodolite?

Monday, January 02, 2006

it's alive!

In what will be a thrilling regular addition to mzgtt in 2006, I'd like to introduce you to the as-yet unnamed bonsai that the zilla household is raising.

Bonsai, cute little trees, yeah? Now I'll have to ask my sister back home whether human babies pass through a 'maniacally scary' phase when they're newborns before becoming absurdly cute, but on first impressions this little creature is one scary. little. fucker.

I think we pissed it off when we followed the instructions and drowned its seed in water for three days before burying it headfirst and leaving it to claw it's way out of the darkness...

Honeytones Volume 1: Autumn

Honeytones. It's a place, a space, a night, a sound devoted to the art of lounging...

Better late than never with this: Back in October, I put together a mix to sell, that is I mean, "give away in exchange for a donation" for the fundraiser we ran for the Asian earthquake. Here's a link so you can all enjoy the same good stuff.

Honeytones is a saucy mix of funk, future jazz and soulful broken beats that captures the flavour of Saturday nights in The Honeypot bar in Oxford.

Download the high-quality (192kbps) mp3 here:

Here's a linkalicious tracklist to act as a different kind of honey pot for all the googlers...

1. Povo - Hi Fly - Raw Fusion
2. Ben Horn - Stripped Down - Fuego Records
3. Skeewiff - Pinstripe - Jalapeno Records
4. Mr Scruff - Shrimp (edit) - Ninja Tune
5. Fort Knox Five - The Brazilian Hipster - Fort Knox Recordings
6. Paula Lima - Quero Ver Você No Baile - Audiopharm
7. Akiko Kohara - Miracle Starscraper
8. Roisin Murphy - Sinking Feeling - Echo
9. Peggy Lee - Fever
10. Marschmellows - Swoundosophy (RAS Remix) - Infracom
11. Som Tres - Take It Easy My Brother Charles - Mr Bongo
12. Season feat. Ernesto - Juice (Math Union Mix) - Nuevo Ritmo
13. Big Bang - Smile In Your Eyes (Mark De Clive Lowe Remix) - Arision
14. Reel People - Spiritual (Opaque Remix) - Bitasweet
15. Backroom Bandits - You Don't Know What Love Is - Soul Groove Records
16. Toy Division - Budapest Resonance (Andrew J Remix) - Juice Records