Another Swing and a miss.

I saw an advert on TV that was promoting Michael Buble’s new album.

Fair enough. 

Christmas is coming and the housewives are getting restless; it makes sense.

At the end it said “Available wherever music is sold

Well, obviously.

Where else are they going to sell it?

“Er yeah, hi, I’ll have a Big Mac meal with a large milkshake please….oh, and the new Michael Buble album”

How fucking retarded do they think we are?  What happened to ‘Out Now’ or ‘Available in Stores’?

Nope, apparently we need to be told it’s available wherever music is sold.

After years of asking, Mr B….I’ve decided I WILL cry you that river.

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No offense. Oh….wait….

As some of you will know, the over-censorship of media and entertainment in America really pisses me off.

I’m not a child.  I can handle the word ‘fuck’ in a movie filled with uncensored (and apparently child friendly) blood, gore, guts and violence.

Well, this morning as I drove into work I heard censorship on the radio that pushed censorship (and me) to the next level.

It happened during the song, ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ by Panic At The Disco; it’s a great song with an incredibly catchy chorus.

The beginning of that chorus goes:

‘I chime in with a “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?!”

No, it’s much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality’.

Guess which word was censored?

Yep, that’s right, the word ‘Goddamn’ was censored. The irony of that second line of lyrics was most definitely lost here.

I love this song, but the joy of singing along was ruined.

You see, in America religion is a big deal and it’s so easy to offend people.  I knew this was the case before coming in, but I had no idea it was this bad.  The phrase “went to church” comes up in more conversations than I’m comfortable with and a lot of my new friends here in the States are very religious.

This is something I have tended to find out when they casually mention going to church or they post something ‘God-ish’ on Facebook.  When this happens I get a real sense of dread because I have to think back over every conversation we’ve ever had.

Did I say something blasphemous or offensive?

Have I made jokes about God or Jesus?

Did I sacrifice that goat in front of them?

In fact, not 10 minutes ago, this very subject came up at work (not instigated by me, I hasten to add) and one of my colleagues said, “I swear a lot.  I use ‘Fuck’, ‘Shit’, ‘Asshole’ and all that, but if I use GD or JC, then you KNOW I’m pissed!”.

It took me a moment to figure out what she meant by GD and JC.  She couldn’t even bring herself to say the words.

To her, saying ‘God Damn’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ is worse than saying ‘Fuck’.

What the Goddamn?

Is it me, or does that seem a bit fucked…er, I mean, ‘Jesus-Christed’ up?  This would go some way towards explaining why the word ‘Goddamn’ was edited out of the song this morning.

A few months ago I said ‘Goddamn it’ at work and got told to watch my language.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was being scolded like a 7 year old by a woman I have heard swear numerous times.

I’ve even started to replace “Oh my God” with “Oh my goodness”.  I hate that I’ve started doing this.

But people here are way too sensitive, and the entertainment business knows this.  Out of fear of being sued,they’re pandering to the masses by censoring the shit out of television.

Unless the customer is paying for it of course.

Netflix anyone?

Nothing on Netflix is censored and I hear it’s a popular service[1].

So, is America OK with bad language, blasphemy and sexual content when they’re charged a premium?  Apparently so.

My wife pays a yearly subscription for something called XM radio in her car.  It’s pricey, but there’s little to no censorship.  It really expands the selection of music they play as they can air otherwise unplayable tracks and, being a premium service, there are no Goddamn, Jesus Christing commercials.

When it comes to TV, the UK have it right with censorship.  Everything is the same as the US until 9pm.  Well, I SAY it’s the same, but that’s not strictly true; they don’t play violent action movies on a Sunday afternoon when kids can see it.  But apparently it’s OK for kids to see heads being chopped off and people being riddled with bullets, as long as there’s no sign of a nipple or someone saying ‘Goddamn it’.

violent tv kids

At 9pm (or the ‘watershed’ as it’s called) it is assumed that your delicate little snowflakes are all tucked up in bed.  After that, it’s the parents’ responsibility to manage what their kids watch.

At 9pm, all bets are off.  The only word that is bleeped out is the word ‘Cunt’.

Sorry; ‘the C word’.

After 9pm, TV is for adults and if you’re easily offended, change the channel.

blasphemy

 

[1] Sarcasm, in case you didn’t realise it.

Goodnight, Sweet Prince.

Yesterday was one of the saddest days of my adult life.

Yesterday, Prince died.

prince in memoriam

I can’t even begin to explain in words what he meant to me growing up, so I don’t think i’m even going to attempt it,  But I feel that I need to say something as a dedication and tribute to, what was, the finest musician ever to grace this planet.

Firstly, I have to commend Las Vegas for their tributes to Prince yesterday.  A majority of the radio stations were playing his songs back to back, Fremont Street added a Prince tribute show to their famous Fremont Street Experience, and a few landmarks changed their lights to purple, including The Venetian hotel, The Palazzo hotel and The High Roller ferris wheel.

The Fremont Street Experience

The Venetian

The Venetian

The Palazzo

The Palazzo

The Linq

The High Roller

Thank you Vegas.

But for me, yesterday was both sad and contemplative.

As I drove home from work, listening to Prince on the radio and crying like a dove as I sang along with “Baby, I’m a star”, I started thinking about all the years I’ve loved his music and everything it has done for me.

One of the best things to have come out of my love for Prince was a friend who I met at college back in the UK.  We had a few things in common; we were both a bit nerdy, we both loved video-games, we both owned Commodore Amigas (showing my age now) and we both had a mutual love for Prince’s music.

That said, we were also very different.  He loved rock music – something I wouldn’t come to fully appreciate for another 10 years or so – and had enough face and ear piercings to warrant being cautious when walking past a fridge covered in magnets.

But Prince was the glue that held us together.  We even started calling each other ‘Cuz’ like Christopher Tracy (played by Prince) and Tricky (played by Jerome Benton) did in the film ‘Under The Cherry Moon’.  It was that ingrained in our lives.

In the 90’s, Prince opened a shop in Camden (Which is in London, in case you didn’t know), and my friend and I would visit regularly.

npg shopnpg shop opening

Usually we would drag girlfriends along with us, who were obviously as thrilled as we were to drool over any sort of crap that had the infamous ‘Symbol’ logo on it.

I can’t remember everything I bought from that shop, but I do still have my Tamboracca somewhere in a box labeled ‘Stuff For Las Vegas’.

I wasn’t leaving it behind in the UK.

No way.

When a Tambourine and a Maraca love each other very much

Over the years I bought every album, bootleg CD, bootleg video (VHS, don’t you know), magazine, book, cassette tape (look it up, kids), tambourine/maraca hybrid and whatever else I could lay my grubby little hands on.

It was an obsession.

Prince was a god amongst musicians and his music connected with me at a level I can’t possibly explain.  And this was without the use of any form of opiates or hallucinogens.

In your face, Pink Floyd.

And when I think about it, I can recall the exact moment when I discovered Prince’s music.  It wasn’t ‘Purple Rain’, nor ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’.  No, my discovery of Prince was the most unlikely of Albums’; it was the ‘Batman’ album.

Seriously.

We were visiting family in Milan (Which is in Italy, in case you didn’t know), and my cousin was playing the Batman album on vinyl.  Straight away I asked her who it was.

As soon as we got back to England, I bought it for myself.

Back then I used to buy vinyl and then record it straight onto cassette tape so as to preserve the vinyl, not realising the loss of quality that involved.

I didn’t care.  This Prince dude was pretty awesome.

Soon after this, Prince released ‘Graffiti Bridge’ and it was monumentally different from the album I had listened to a thousand times, yet somehow, I still loved it.

What the hell?

This was the moment I realised I’d found something special.  Imagine my joy when I discovered there were ten albums before these!

But before I had a chance to go through the back catalogue, he released another album; something Prince did every year!

That next album was Diamonds and Pearls.  From that moment on, I was hooked.  What an album.  Still one of my favourites to this day.

So anyway, back to my story.

As with anything, life got in the way and in 2007 my friend and I went our separate ways.  I must admit that I often wondered how he was doing and what life had thrown at him.

Not magnets, hopefully.

So I bit the bullet and contacted one of my Facebook friends who I knew was still in contact with him and asked her if she would forward a message for me.

I wasn’t looking to reconnect or bring up old wounds, I had no hidden agenda or motive, I simply wanted to convey my condolences.  Even though we hadn’t spoken for almost 10 years, I wanted to reach out and make sure he was OK.

You see, to us, Prince was our friend.  He was the third person in our exclusive friendship. No matter what happened, he was always there, telling us how much he cared.

He was always in our hair.

And yesterday we both lost our friend.

He replied in no time to say he had been thinking of me too and reciprocated my condolences.  That was all I needed.  He was finding it as hard as I was and I only hope he gained some comfort from knowing he was in my thoughts.

And now, here we are.  It’s a day later and I still can’t believe Prince is gone.

No more concerts, no more albums, no more anything.

My only wish now is that Paisley Park makes the decision to release all the music and videos held in Prince’s infamous ‘vault’.

That would be the ultimate gift to the world.

Let us bathe in the Purple Rain, just one more time.

purple raindrops

 

 

Rest in peace Prince.

Thank you for everything.

Fa la la la la, la la la laaaaaAAAARRGHH!!!

Today is Christmas Day and I am at work.

To be honest, I don’t really mind; the commute to the office was easier, my colleagues are in a festive mood and the customers have reached new depths of unmeasured dumbfuckery.

It all keeps me smiling.

One of the guys (and a good friend) is playing Christmas music loudly through his computer.

How very festive.

I’m torn between my love for him, my disdain for Christmas music and the utterly overwhelming desire to shove his PC up his arse.

lube

Fantasy Vs. Reality – Part 3

I’ve noticed that people who wear headphones fall into two very distinct camps; those who just sit there listening to the music, and those who dance.  Now, when I say dance, I don’t mean literally strutting their funky stuff in the street or outside public toilets (those people are in a completely different camp of their own, complete with high gates and heavy medication).

No, I’m referring to those who move ever so slightly to the music; either slaloming their head from side to side for R&B, or nodding along to rock like they’re sucking off an ant.  If you look closely enough it’s often possible to see them mouthing the words.  I don’t mean full on singing; just mouthing.  The ones who sing are mentally unhinged and need avoiding at all costs. 

I had one of these singing idiots in a gym once; just him and me.  He was lifting these heavy weights and grunting (as you do), and then in between sets he was singing tonelessly along to something in a high drawn out wailing voice.  It was like working out with Moby fucking Dick.

The last two words there were intentional.

But back to the dancing…

Being a headphone user myself I fall into the ‘dancer’ category.  I often find myself moving my head to the ‘riddim’ and occasionally mouthing the words.  I’m even guilty of walking along the pavement in time to the music like some obnoxious musical, half expecting those around to suddenly fall in behind me for a big dance number.

Why do I do this?  What do I think I look like? 

Actually, I think I look cool. 

People look at me and I can see they’re thinking “Wow, that guy really knows his music, and he’s got rhythm.   Look, he even knows the words.  He’s SO cool”.  I’m cultured, hip and simply awesome.

However, when other people do it they look like total pricks.

Weird.

sing

Who would’ve thought? It figures…

I was talking to one of the guys at work this morning about music.  I told him I was currently listening to Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ album.  This resulted in an awkward pause in the conversation, followed by a look from him that implied I’d grown a vagina.

“Really?” he said.

“Of course” I replied, “It has to rate up there as one of the top 10 albums of all time”

“Hmm, I only know that one song of hers” he continued.

“Which one’s that?”

“That one that made her famous”

Well, at least he wasn’t being vague.

I then proceeded to hum a few tunes from the album, all of which resulted in a “oh, I know that one!”

10 seconds later Alanis Morissette came on the radio.

Isn’t that Ironic, don’t you think?

alanis1

Not so personal stereo

Sat on the train waiting for it to leave London Victoria station with my headphones in and playing a game on my phone.  

A woman sits opposite me, also with headphones in, and we exchange a glance that suggests a mutual appreciation of music on the move; or it could’ve been ‘what the fuck are you looking at pal?’

I’ve never been great at picking up these subtleties.  

Anyway, no more than a minute had passed when the man sat next to her tapped her on the shoulder and gestured that she should turn her music down.  

I took out my right earphone just in case she kicked off, which I didn’t want to miss. Plus it’ll give me something funny to blog. Alas, all I heard her say, with a smile, was “of course, no problem”.

Damn.

She then rolled her eyes, stood up, muttered ‘prick’ and moved to the next carriage.  

‘Thank you’, I thought, as I turned my music down.