March 19, 2012 Comments Off
Ever since he was appointed as the government’s new Efficiency Tsar, people have been saying unkind things about the Topshop boss Philip Green. Its been suggested that he avoids paying taxes like the plague, that he likes to get maximum value from his workers abroad, and has an almost psychic ability to think of the exact same ideas as other people and make money on them before anyone else. All of which makes him over-qualified for the job.
But through painstaking research, I can now reveal an altogether more sinister possible alleged unsubstantiated agenda. Philip Green is attempting to infect the British population with a race of bedwetting metrosexual goons, or Wag Lads. He’s carrying out the operation via an intensive breeding programme at outlets of Topman. And the scenes that unfold in these places each day are horrific.
Tens of thousands of young men are being sucked into the stores each day. Conveyer belts ferry recruits into intensive conditioning rooms, where they are bombarded with bright flashing lights, droning promotional messages and Vampire Weekend singles over and over again. The walls are covered with giant images of limp-wristed, pale-faced fopps; horrific visions of what the recruits are about to become.
There is no let up. Subjects are exposed to a steady flow of over-styled and derivative trends with excruciatingly naff names such as Electro Shock and Contemporary Punk. Soon enough, the boys’ own sense of style and taste are reprogrammed with an insatiable appetite for garments with unnecessary zips, buttons, pockets and prints.
The air is thick with the stench of D&G aftershave and Studio Line hair gel; the boys are conditioned to repeat endless grooming routines. They adopt humiliating hairstyles that rob them of any dignity or self-respect. In between styling sessions, they’re subconsciously feminised at in-store cafes. Sitting crossed legged in groups, they sip milky coffee, talk about their feelings and gently stroke each other’s hands. Soon enough, they are carrying manbags on their forearms, flicking their quiffs and jealously eyeing each other’s shoes. Just when the torture subsides, troops of hollow eyed staff arrive with trolleys of carrot chinos and the brutality resumes apace.
Recruits are treated like meat machines, not human beings. All their natural desires are completely frustrated in this crowded yet barren environment.
Eventually, they are released back onto the high street, looking something very much like this.
Any sense of masculinity is overpowered by a desire to preen and mince. Never again will they feel what its like to be a real man – to perform physically demanding work, to test their limits, provide for others or simply face the day without Touche Eclat. They are emasculated drones, ready to obey the command of their new master.
It’s not entirely clear what Green intends to do with his army of fops, but it looks like social engineering on a grand scale. And there is little or no resistance from designers or the press. His sponsorship and advertising budgets buy silence, maintaining a vice-like grip around the throat of British fashion.
One thing‘s for sure; if, god forbid, this country should ever need to defend its sovereignty from attack, we shall surely be crushed if our first line of defense is this.
September 20, 2010 4 Comments
Consuming Saves The Planet
I’ve made squillions by commodifying Punk Rock – clothes, bags, perfume – you name it, I’ve flogged it to death. But now, after shifting all that product, I’ve realised money doesn’t buy you happiness. And you know what else? Shopping is killing the planet. We all need to do our bit, so here’s how you can help. Keep buying my stuff, lots of it. But whenever you need to send a parcel, make sure you use the people who just paid me a load of cash to endorse them. Their vans run on rabbit droppings and everything. That’s anarchy for you.
September 19, 2010 1 Comment
Last weekend, local councils reported an unexpected surge in the amount of refuse they had to collect from areas populated by young wealthy adults. To the surprise of the bin men, most of the rubbish bags were full of Ray Bans and Darwin Deez promo CD’s. OK, I just made that up, but you can bet that millions of Hipsters around the country have quietly disposed of their eyewear after seeing this.
People love laughing at anyone or anything that looks unusual; it’s a bi-product of a culture that’s now so homogonous that genuine points of difference scare the living daylights out of them. But Hipsters are no longer unusual. Large tracts of East London, for example, look like a post apocalyptic scene where only men with moustaches and carrot jeans have survived. No, it’s not the clothes or the bikes or the haircuts that make Hipsters so funny, it’s that they must do it all so publically, with every studied detail of their lives on display.
This is the New Exhibitionism: the psychological compulsion to float around independent coffee bars looking like a French onion seller in a desperate bid to attract attention to oneself.
Hipster exhibitionism is the non-verbal communication of two very confused messages – that they are creative and they are different. And the reason why people are laughing at them is because Hipsters are quite clearly neither of those things.
Lets deal with the creative bit first. Looking creative isn’t the same as being creative. Aspiring opinion formers would be surprised to learn that the people doing the jobs they envy mostly look like this. I remember the first time I walked in to a meeting at The Face; I was worried I’d be the worst dressed person in the building. No chance; the girls on the fashion desk were dressed for the dump; the music guys, permanently on DT hangovers, were unapproachable on account of the smell; and the editors, well they were carrying so much weight on their shoulders, they could barely make it in wearing matching shoes. Properly useful people are too busy making things happen to worry about Double Denim.
Which brings us to being different. It’s not possible to be different wearing a trend that’s so popular, it has its own name. And you can’t be different when the tribe you so desperately want to join only accepts you if you’re wearing a uniform. Especially when the uniform is manufactured in the millions by companies with stores on every high street across the land. This is not authenticity. It is conformity.
So who are these people that have endless time and money to cut the armpits out of t-shirts, buy nice stickers for their bikes and stand outside vintage stores comparing notes? Its rich, white middle class kids, whose parents buy them comfy two bedroom flats in up and coming university towns while they fanny around writing dissertations on Banksy for their media degree.
Every ten years or so, the mainstream – Retailers, PR people and their middle class kids – catches up with youth culture which very quickly makes everything over-populated and shit. This is what’s happening right now with Hipsters. It’s a good thing, because regeneration weeds out the chancers and creates room for something new to grow.
If you’re sat reading this in a public space populated by people under 35, and you feel like the only person not wearing a checked shirt, the message is this: your time will soon come. It’ll come at the exact point when the knobs who spend more time perfecting their headgear – as opposed to their talent – will join their parents as foot soldiers of the mainstream. Leaving the door open for you to do something properly interesting. Because the truth about exhibitionism is that the people who shout the loudest have never got anything worthwhile to say.
September 19, 2010 3 Comments
Eat Yourself Thin
For years, we’ve been promising to turn you into the kind of impossibly thin woman that no one finds appealing but everyone feels obliged to look like, simply by eating a bowl of factory processed wheat every morning*. Now the woman with the big T&A from Mad Men is really popular, we’ve decided that it’s Ok for you to look like you enjoy food without running to the bathroom to refund. Hence the new curvy model. But don’t get any ideas; you’re still fat and ugly and the only way you can love yourself is to eat more of our food.
*Ignore the fact that Special K contains only one calorie less per serving and full fat Kelloggs Corn Flakes.
September 19, 2010 Comments Off
It was 7am at the tail end of a party, when someone suggested that the drink might have run out. People started to ransack the flat, desperate to find a bottle of something, anything to see them through to opening hours. The only thing we found was an unopened bottle of White Lightning that someone had brought round for a joke. We all sat there looking at it for a moment. ‘Fuck that’ said someone said, ‘I’d rather drink the dregs’.
Chemical cider tastes rank, it’s made from industrial leftovers that are otherwise fed to pigs, and it gives you the shakes; all of which are good reasons not to drink it. But the main reason why most people avoid it is a thing called self-efficacy; the in-built safety mechanism in your head that reminds you there is a point in life that you won’t allow yourself to fall. Self-efficacy is the ability to influence the events that affect our lives. If you believe that you’re in control, then you also believe that you’re worth something, and you won’t gamble it away by smoking crack.
We build up self-efficacy through experience and modeling. But most of it’s drilled into our heads by parents and teachers who keep reminding us that we’re worth something. And the pushier the parents and more expensive the teachers, the more self-efficacy you have. Which is how you produce posh idiots with wavy blonde hair and wide nostrils that genuinely believe they can (and often do) rule the world. It’s nothing to do with ability, and everything to do with perception.
The news hook to this story is that the Government can’t decide if they should make cheap super strength booze more expensive, and lots of campaigners are upset about it. If you price penniless drunks out of the market, so the campaigners say, they won’t drink so much and we can all go on our merry way. But they’re wrong. And I’m going to give you three reasons why.
Number 1: anyone that’s been even mildly hooked on hard booze, drugs or fags – and most decision makers have not – knows you can and will find the money to use. It won’t be long before 20 Marlboros hit £10 and ten million people in the UK won’t be quitting anytime soon.
Number 2: cheap booze is one of the few products made specifically for the underclass but successful people don’t like it because it makes the place look ugly. It frightens the children when people drink it in the street, and it spoils the neat display on the supermarket shelf. But guess what? The people who want 69p cans of White Lightening (7.5%) banned are off down the local chain pub on Friday nights, getting hammered on reassuringly expensive pitchers of Hoegaarden (8.5%).
Number 3: if people with no money and no prospects want to bail out and self-destruct then its their choice. Of course, they could get up at 4am and catch the night bus into town to wipe the piss off the toilet bowls of executive washrooms for £5.80 an hour. I know what I’d rather do.
But then, I would say that – I’ve been in and out of alcohol rehab programmes for fifteen years. I’ve never been homeless, and I’ve not done hard drugs, but I have spent time drinking on the street. It’s not like a badge of honour or anything. In fact there’s nothing romantic about it whatsoever. The fear and loathing you provoke, as normal people go about their business, is like nothing else. You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world. You are the point at which they absolutely will not fall below.
Most people disagree, but I think it takes bigger balls to give up when the odds are stacked against you, than to carry on struggling further down a pipe dream, especially when you end up an outcast to 99% of the people around you. At 69p a can, White Lightning is cheaper than a dose of Prozac, and easier to come off if you want to get back to being ‘normal’ again. The truth about cheap booze or any other escape option, is that it’s nobody’s choice but our own.
Published in Vice
September 19, 2010 Comments Off
It’s all coming true. The dystopian prophecies of doom that typified cinema in the 70’s and 80’s are slowly, inevitably coming to pass. Zombies walk the malls, drones patrol the skies, drivers mow down pedestrians for sport, and everyone’s banging meds so they can meet their quotas at work. And now this. Synthetic meat is to be grown in giant vats outside the superstructure; it’s the only way the population will be able to feed itself in forty years time.
The technical term for this stuff is In Vitro Meat. Its laboratory-grown muscle fibre that tastes and smells like meat, but has never played any part in moving an animal around a field. Stem cells are cultured in giant Petri dishes, the muscle fibre is pumped with chemicals, and then exercised to turn it into a tougher steak-like consistency, not entirely unlike the tragicomedy that unfolds each day down Fitness First.
It sounds very much like Charlton Heston’s ‘70’s nightmare Soylent Green, except there won’t be hordes of angry protestors rampaging through the streets demanding justice for being fed human slurry, because android replicants of Sophie Dahl and Gordon Ramsay will be wheeled out to convince everybody that In Vitro Meat is the up-market consumer choice of rich and successful people and if all us plebs want to climb the ladder of social mobility, we better start eating it too.
Pulsating hunks of brainless meat don’t sound very appealing, but they can’t possibly be any worse for us than the ‘real thing’.
Let’s be honest. When a grown man walks into a fried chicken bar and orders a 99p box of Popcorn Chicken Nibblets, he’s not asking for meat; he’s not really asking for food; he’s asking for The Final Solution. He’s saying ‘I’ve been ripped off, lied to and promptly shat out the backside of the system, and the only thing left for me to do is to kill myself slowly by eating hydrogenated fat with a blend of 11 herbs and spices from The Colonel’s secret recipe. And the fact that a small animal suffered for each and every second of its miserably short life in order to fill my stomach only adds to the poetic misery of it all’.
Come to think of it, The Colonel and his nuclear chickens could help us fit the last piece of the dystopian jigsaw puzzle into place. In the 1976 film Logan’s Run, the population is managed by ‘encouraging’ people to kill themselves when they hit thirty. Scores of young adults, resplendent in flowing pastel tunics, file into an enormous mirrored carousel and wave flashing crystals above their heads before the lights go off and an invisible force vaporizes them all. It could be the same thing at designated KFC Suicide Zones, except people would be in grey tracksuits and waving chicken bones instead.
It must have been great, going to the cinema as a teenager back in the 70’s, marveling at dystopias like The Omega Man and TX1138. The prophetic gloom was all very believable, but far enough in the future to breathe a sigh of relief when the credits rolled. The tragedy is that those same people are now in charge of planning and contingency and, even with the benefit of hindsight, they still haven’t got a clue how to sort it out.
Never mind, it’s us who’ll have the last laugh, as we spoon-feed them frankenmeat dinner in their cosy retirement homes. They’ll hobble, in between courses, to the toilets and open their bowels down pipes that feed directly to the food processing plant next door.
‘Oh you are lovely, coming to help me with my dinner, son.’
‘Eat up Dad, your chicken’s getting cold!’
Published In Vice
September 19, 2010 Comments Off
If there’s one thing we do very well in this country, it’s letting big companies fuck us in the arse and then letting them advertise the fact by plastering enormous logos over everything. This week, nearly twenty thousand Londoners have signed up and paid for the privilege of pedaling Barclays bank adverts all over town. There are logos on the bikes, on the docking stations, on all the posters, and when the ‘Cycle Superhighways’ are finished, all over the roads. Once its fully up and running, it’ll be the biggest piece of corporate branding ever. And how much will they be paying the tens of thousands of cyclists to shove their adverts around town? Well that’s the thing, see; we pay them.
Just to be clear, we pay anything from £1 – £50 a day to push horrific disability bikes, with rubbish flashing Knight Rider style lights on the front, around potholed roads choked with juggernauts and white vans and Nigerian mini cabs, so we can advertise the largest bank in the world (according to market share). And if it goes down well in London, it’ll be coming to a town near you soon.
There was a time when people had the option to sell their dignity rather than have it conned out of them. It was in the early 19th century, when industrialists first started to make more products than they could sell. Companies were so desperate to shift their gear that every inch of public space was covered in adverts. When the authorities started taxing billboards and banning posters on houses, the ad men paid people to carry placards and sandwich boards. Thousands of pieces of human flesh, stuffed between two slices of board, roamed the streets advertising overpriced junk for sale in the shops – not entirely unlike the scenes you get down Selfridges today.
Of course, there is one major benefit to advertising other people’s brands on your chest; if you do it well, people think you’re switched on and successful, which makes them more inclined to have sex with you. But no one, and I mean no one, dreams of going down on someone who advertises financial service providers, except for the permatanned CEO’s of said banks who like to rub Johnson’s Baby Oil into their naked bodies and pleasure themselves in front of the full length mirrors of their Docklands penthouses, before crying into themselves to sleep. But I digress.
Filling the streets with cheap bikes for everyone to use is a beautiful idea, but all the glory goes to sponsor, which now looks like fluffy and caring and gentle for ‘donating’ £25 million to the scheme. It sounds like a lot of money to us plebs. But it’s sweet FA to them. Barclays paid their top five investment bankers £30 million this year. The president Bob Diamond gets £63 million. And if a gagging order hadn’t been placed on newspapers to talk about it, you’d be able to read more about the very large amounts money they avoided paying to the taxman last year. Lets just say it’s enough to pay for 9 cycle hire schemes in full. And didn’t we sink the economy by bailing out the banks with £1.2 trillion of our own money? Never mind, God bless Barclays for giving us the gift of pedal power – its not like we can afford to take cabs now anyhow.
If there were no laws against incitement to vandalism, I would suggest doing something like this. But there is so I won’t. Here’s a better idea. WPP, the world’s biggest advertising agency, charges £3,625 to bike an advert around London for a week. If you use a Barclays bike every day for six months, you should be entitled to nearly £87,000. So here’s the plan. This time next year, every single Barclays human billboard should pedal down to head office in Canary Warf and invoice them for services rendered. The £1.7bn bill would wipe out a fair amount the profit they declared last year.
See how much money we’re all worth? The truth about sponsorship is that we should never, ever give it away for free.
September 19, 2010 Comments Off
Lets get the disclaimer out of the way first. I’m not very clever. I failed all my GCSE’s apart from English and Home Economics, which I passed by the skin of my teeth. I’ve got nothing to formally prove my intelligence because I don’t have much and the only reason I’ve managed to claw my way up to the middle has been through brute force, white lies and sheer fluke. To be honest, it’s a miracle that the people who run this site have given me a regular column.
That’s the disclaimer over. I’m thick as shit. But there are some people, and I take no comfort in saying this, who are as thick as the lead doors on a maximum-security bank vault. Its not best practice to say this in public, even if you really mean it, because it undermines the line about us being snowflakes of individual beauty, united by a faith in human nature that makes billions of people want to buy the world a Coke. Thankfully, we now have irrefutable proof that this line is very, very wrong: the Raoul Moat tribute pages on Facebook.
If you’re the kind of person that likes to watch motorway pileups in slow motion, you’ll probably have logged on to RIP Raoul Moat You Legend ♥. The wall posts, appearing at the rate of one per second, read like the transcript from the dayroom of Belmarsh Psychiatric ward. ‘Hiz GF woz a cunt and she deserved it’… ‘All those waanbes in prizon thats the way to do it not fuking licking cop ass to get shorter sentence or grassing mates’… ‘Raoul Moat, hunted and executed by the corrupt Police’… ‘My mates in the army think Moaty is a LEGEND!!!’
Five minutes on that page (or its many successors) and a very large penny drops; people really do think Moat is a legend, a superhero who evades the cops, settles some scores and levels the playing field for all the downtrodden people who’ve been fucked over by the police who, in cahoots with ‘the man’, are hell-bent on making everyone’s life more miserable than it already is. He’s a soldier, pure and simple, just like in the video games – the same games that liberals claimed were harmless because people couldn’t possibly be so stupid as to confuse a game with real life.
It wasn‘t long before the self-righteous (but no less angry or stupid) brigade swamped the wall, whipped to frenzy by the goons on GMTV. The hunt was on. ‘I HOPE YOU GET CANCER IN ALL OF YOUR BODY AND FUCKING AIDS WHILE YOUR KIDS AND FAMILY AND GF HAVE TO WATCH YOU THROUGH THE PAIN I WANNA SEE U FUCKING DIE LIKE A BITCH’.
Then it was time for some cabaret, and a sensitive number from beefy topless thugz Triple R; ‘He don’t give a shit, he blew away his wife, just like I do for all my pain and strife whoop whoop!’
Thanks lads, now who fancies a conspiracy theory? ‘Why did the authorities send SOOO many highly trained ‘special forces SAS’ just to catch ONE man?’… ‘Maybe he knew something explosive that could damage the establishment in some way’. No one had any answers, so conversation inevitably turned to the telly. Who’ll play Moat in an ITV1 drama? Maybe Danny Dyer? Mick Hucknall, if he took some steroids ha ha. No, it has to be, it can only be loveable hardman Ross Kemp. By now most of the 30,000 page members had indeed returned to the telly, leaving a dozen Anti-Fascist and BNP members to tear each other’s throats out. Some time later, a member who joined the page in protest of the violence threatened to kill the admin and the page was put out of its misery.
Facebook is a bottomless can of industrial strength Ronseal that strips away any lingering veneer of faith in human nature. It’s a live action feed on the collective ramblings of what Walter Lippman called the Bewildered Herd. The majority of the population, according to Lippman, is incapable of understanding and making sense of the world with any accuracy. ‘Worlds of interest are waiting for them to explore’ he said, ‘and they do not enter’. People make up their minds before they define the facts; they lack the competence to take part in anything meaningful. And so they flounder in chaos, bewildered, frustrated, frightened and angry.
The trouble starts, of course, when you let herd run free and they end up trampling over everything. Which is where education is supposed to save the day. Except it doesn’t. A report out this week says that 1 million adults in London can’t read. And here’s another horrifying statistic; after spending £500 million (the most money ever spent) on the National Literacy Strategy, reading skills rose by less than one lousy percent. It would have been a tragedy, if more people had read about it.
The common interests of the public are too tricky for little people to get their heads around, concludes Lippman, so its necessary for the big people to manufacture consent, to ring fence the bewildered herd and feed it sanitized information. The herd can then distract itself with shopping and social networking and football while the big people get on with running things. It makes sense to me.
Do I enjoy being one of the little people? No. Do I trust the big people to do a better job? Yes and no. Are we already fenced in, for our own protection, by a 10ft wall of bullshit? We’ll probably never know.
Published In Vice
September 19, 2010 Comments Off
A woman plans to leave the marital home for the weekend to visit her parents, opening a two-day window of freedom for the man. In the build up to the event, the man imagines the debauched possibilities he could indulge in, and get away with, unfettered by the wife. The weekend becomes a beacon of hope that helps him through the weekly grind. And yet when Saturday finally comes, the orgy of vice never transpires. And he finds himself eating a greasy takeaway curry in bed.
Why would a grown man subconsciously associate junk food and poor hygiene with freedom? Because he is a nihilistic hedonist – he just doesn’t know it yet. Emasculated by society, enslaved by machines and impoverished by his paymasters, the only sane option is to self-destruct. It’s a kind of rational pessimism. Knowing there’s no real chance of bucking the corporate system, the nihilistic hedonist accepts his miserable fate, but vows to go out all guns blazing.
There are two ways a man can go about it. If you’re the kind of guy who’s glass (and wallet) is half full, you could pursue death by luxury. The film La Grande Bouffe is the key reference here; a group of men hire a master chef and a gaggle of prostitutes and retreat to a remote chateaux. At which point they resolve to, and succeed in, eating and shagging themselves to death. It’s quite a scene.
For the truly miserable and/ or down at heel, the more realistic option is to trade down instead of up, and embrace everything that is shit. Smoke Lambert & Butler. Drink White Lightning. Watch ITV2. It’s a death by a thousand low-grade, mass-produced cuts. The misery becomes irresistible over time – like a scratch on the side of your gums that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it. Soon enough your behaviour starts to drive loved ones away. It’s around about this point in the journey that a man will discover biltong.
Biltong is one of the most repulsive snacks ever conceived by the fast food industry. The idea of snacking on bite-sized chunks of dead animal flies in the face of ethical consumerism and self-improvement. And being loaded with fat, salt, sugar and MSG, biltong possesses many other qualities prized by the self-destructive male.
Looking for a reassuring stomach cramp when you wake in the morning? Eat biltong late at night. Want to repel fellow office workers with visible meat sweats? Keep a chunk under your tongue all day. Enjoy frightening pretty girls on the bus? Whip out a packet and tear great chunks with your teeth.
The initial experience with biltong can best be described as a challenge. The taste and smell is so strong, you’ll want to spit it out. It’s only natural – you are, after all, chewing on the backside of an industrially reared and slaughtered cow that’s been sitting in a packet for any number of years. Fight the nausea and keep chewing. As the juice trickles down your throat, you feel a meaty electric shock coursing through your veins. A film of grease collects on the roof of your mouth, just like McDonalds fries. It feels so wrong it can’t possibly be right. But the MSG kicks in and you’re reaching for another hit.
By the end of the packet, your breath will be so fierce it could melt lead. Years of social conditioning will compel you to reach for the Wrigleys. Don’t. Walk towards the nearest acquaintance and converse. The more you talk, the more the air fills with the stench of undigested meat. The look of horror on their face is unmistakable. You are repulsive. But that’s OK. They loathe you, you loathe them, and most importantly, you loathe yourself. This is nihilistic hedonism in its purest from.
In this life, a man can rely on few certainties. But he can guarantee his personal failure on a diet of pessimism and dried meat snacks. A man who not only confronts but promotes his inevitable demise, in the manner that he sees fit, is truly in control of his life. And expecting only the worse, he can rest assured that the world will never, ever disappoint him again.
September 19, 2010 1 Comment