The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Sound Waves

01

The following is just in from CARVE magazine and I am sure that there are enough budding journos on Cluas to ensure that one of you takes this prize.

"The average human being lives for 2,000,000,000 seconds. We’ve teamed up with Swatch to make sure that you live life to the full this summer and take every opportunity to seize each and every second.

A brand new Swatch Seize the Second van will be touring the length and breadth of the country throughout the summer, visiting a range of music festivals along the south coast. The van will offer festival goers a selection of great summer giveaways as well as the opportunity to take part in a series of impromptu Seize the Second games and activities in an amazing party atmosphere.

We would like to offer one lucky reader the chance to be crowned official Seize the Second reporter of 2007. The winner will be given the chance to experience each of the summer festivals the Seize the Second tour bus will be visiting and report back, with all reviews being posted in the Carve Online website.
Prize will include transport and accommodation for 2 people, plus tickets to festivals.

The Swatch Seize the Second van will be visiting the following UK festivals:
• Beach Break Live , Polzeath Beach – 11th – 14th June
Oceanfest, Devon – 15th – 17th June
• Ripcurl Boardmasters, Newquay – 10th – 11th August


To win this once in a lifetime experience, all you have to do is write 200 words about the best time of your life by 7th June. You've only got a week so hurry up!"

http://www.orcasurf.co.uk/carve/competitions/carve_competitions_seize.htm


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26

If you, like me, thought that owning a set of minature Wilco dolls was a little left field then I would be interested in hearing your views on owning a limited edition doll of Beach Boys supremo Brian Wilson as he looked and dressed in 1966.Yes, he is available in two versions: the limited edition with box personally signed by Brian Wilson @ $150.00, and limited edition, unsigned @ $75.00. I notice that Tower Records sell a wide range of minature dolls of rock musicians, who buys this stuff ?


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24

You might not think that the property section of an Irish newspaper is a fertile area for rock and roll stories but you would be mistaken. In the last few months, a number of features have appeared in the residential property sections of a variety of national newspapers dealing in the sale of this rock star's mansion or that movie maker's stately pile. The reason given for the sale is usually that such and such a celebrity finds themselves spending less and less time in Ireland and, anyway, they have properties all over the world that they need to live in from time to time too. What the articles don't suggest is that this sudden departure after years of comfortable living in the Auld Sod may be, at least, partly due to the recent capping of the Artists's Exemption at € 250,000.00 per annum by the Department of Finance, after which said celebrity will have to pay tax on the remainder of their income.

Now, I am not interested here in getting bogged down in the pros and cons of this exemption; briefly I am for it and also I was against it being capped because the vast majority of artists who avail of it earn less than € 50,000.00 per annum and they do that with great difficulty, but one very interesting knock on effect the cap has had is to escalate a decline within a certain section of the Irish property market, namely in the sale of top notch residential homes.

As soon as the cap was introduced, the tax consultants of these wealthy musicians had to very sensibly point out that the sine qua non of living in Ireland tax free had evaporated and perhaps it might be better to look elsewhere for a place to reside, at which point said musician might think, fair enough, and start looking to liquidate their assets, the result being a sudden rush onto the market of fabulous residences. Now, in the past, when one of these piles was sold, its ownership usually changed hands between celebrities with the usually older seller needing to acquire a big bag of cash and the usually younger buyer needing to dispose of a big bag of cash. With the cap in place, this ready market in buyers all keen to find a tax haven for their newly minted loot, has disappeared and it's fair to say that the remaining buyers in the market may not have such a pressing need for a home with state of the art recording studios and cinema screening rooms, particularly when the property in question comes with a price tag of upwards of € 8,000,000.00.

The result is that the Irish residential property market, already in decline, is given a further negative jolt as these top range properties remain unsold or are withdrawn by their owners, the knock on effect being that confidence in the sector is further eroded and confidence, as any self respecting rock star will tell you, is what it's all about.


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23

When I posted my views on Rock The Vote last week, a campaign to get the young people of Ireland to the polling station which was fronted by such political luminaries as RTE star Bosco, I received a number of welcome comments in reply, the most negative of which was by JoeC which claimed that , "Rock the Vote, like it or loathe, has been an amazing success...Rock the Vote is not about appearing cool to political aware culturally savvy questions and answers watching folk - it's about appealing to another group entirely. And if you look at their basic numbers they have done so."

Well, I have some bad news for you Joe. According to none other than Rock The Vote Executive Director Patrick Cosgrove in this morning's Herald A.M, "Many students are doing finals and wont be able to get home to vote if they live elsewhere". As an excuse for not voting in what promises to be a crucial general election, that's an excuse on a par with, "The dog ate my ballot card". Herald A.M goes on to say that the turnout on the 24th May could be the lowest in the History of the State and informs us that in the last election only 25% of 18 - 24 year olds in Ireland voted, compared to 80% in Sweden.

All I can say is: Cluas - 1, Bosco - 0

 


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20

A surfer mate of mine in Byron Bay first told me about these guys, a group of ultra tough surfers who take their name from an abbreviation of their local break; Maroubra aka 'Bra, and so 'Bra Boys.

According to the press release for the movie, “Bra Boys is a film about the cultural evolution of the inner-Sydney beachside suburb of Maroubra and the social struggle of its youth – the tattooed and much maligned surf community known as the Bra Boys. The story is narrated by Australian actor Russell Crowe and is told through the eyes of members of the Bra Boys. Central to the story is the true-life struggle of the Abberton brothers – Sunny, Koby, Jai and Dakota … one charged with murdering a Sydney standover man, another pursuing a professional surf career but charged as an accessory in his brother’s legal fight, another trying to hold the family together and a young brother whose inheritance is his siblings’ notoriety."

Now, what the PR release doesn't mention is that it was, for the most part, made by the Boys themselves. Variety Magazine wrote the picture off with the words, "A fatally one-eyed docu made by senior members of the working-class fraternity...The overall impression is that of an unconvincing PR exercise. Murky vid sources are cruelly exposed on 35mm, though the soundtrack rocks"

So far, so what. And what the hell does this have to do with music anyway? Well, first of all, the public perception of a surfer is half a century out of date and is mostly drawn from Brian Wilson's iconic songs depicting California surf culture. It's an innocent vision that has been recently repackaged in the various MTV 'reality' shows such as 'Laguna Beach' which focus on the lives and loves of rich kids in SoCal. The Bra Boys are the antithesis of that, their surfing exists within a world of neglect not privilege. As 3Seven7 sing on the soundtrack, "This is not South L.A, this is South Sydney / This is where we grew up / That's the corner where I first threw up"

Which brings is along nicely to the soundtrack that accompanies the film and which Variety concedes, "rocks". It's an all-Australian affair and couldn't be further from the Men At Work cliche that has dominated our popular view of Australian rock.

Here is the track listing:


Two Feet On The Ground - 3Seven7
Times We Had - The Camels
Ready To Brawl - 3Seven7
Steamworks - The Presets
Allstars - Def Wish Cast
It’s Hard To Speak Without A Tongue - Parkway Drive
Don’t Go To Sleep - Regurgitator
Reach - The Butterfly Effect
La Mar (The Ocean) - The Beautiful Girls
Too Far Gone - The Camels
Champion - Grinspoon
Bra Boy Warriors - 3Seven7
Causing Trouble – The Camels
My Brothers Keeper - Jamie Holt

 

 

Watch the trailer here.


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17

Following on from the success of ‘Diary of a Debutante’, broadcast on TV3 in 2006, Paradise Pictures are now producing the ‘Diaries’ series and they are looking for a surfer to feature in their sports star episode. According to their press release,"Our aim is to capture the unique atmosphere of the surfing world in Ireland through the eyes of an Irish surfer. If you are a surfer in Ireland with a talkative personality and wouldn’t mind being on TV then We Want You! You don’t have to be the best surfer in the world but you do need to be working towards a specific event or competition this year."

For further information:

E-mail info@paradisepictures.ie Or Call 01-6610234


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14

When Michael Flatley, Jean Butler and the entire Riverdance troupe came stampeding out onto the stage during the 1994 Eurovision, they heralded in a new era in Irish life. They gave Irish people a reason to be proud of their Gaelic culture and heritage and this pride somehow, in a karmic way, partly led on to Ireland's remarkable economic boom.

That's what an increasing number of economists and social commentators have opined at any rate. It's grist for the mill in many Irish corporate DVDs although, strangely, its not given as a reason on the official website of the Irish State which lists a high standard of education, a commitment to open markets, the return of skilled emigrants to Ireland and good co-operation between Government, Industry and Trade Unions with regard to economic policy as some of the contributing factors. On the other hand, it is certainly valid for historians and economists to study the cultural life of a country as part of a wider study of its economic and social development; as Professor Simon Schama has shown in his recent BBC series, “The Power of Art”.

I don't know, I'm not an economist and I may be missing the bigger picture here but surely an economic boom needs more than a few photogenic hoofers on television to help get itself off the ground, or am I just being naive? Ok, let’s just say for a minute that there is such a thing as a Eurovision Theory of Economics. Where does that leave the future of Ireland's economy in the aftermath of Ireland's last place disaster in the 2007 Eurovision and the ongoing failure on Broadway of the "Pirate Queen" which is brought to you by the producers of "Riverdance"? Not too good I would imagine.

I, for one, feel genuinely sorry for John Waters, Tommy Moran and Dervish. If they went array anywhere it was in thinking that the Eurovision is actually about the songwriter's craft. In fact, the Eurovision was originally conceived not by the music department of any European television station but by a collection of broadcast engineers belonging to the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) in the 1950s. The EBU is focused on helping its members in regard to technological advances in radio and television broadcasting and in the 1950s the idea of a pan European live broadcast was floated by these guys at a conference. After all the technological issues were ironed out the last question to be asked was, "So, what shall we broadcast?". "How about a song contest?" came a reply from one of the techies. "Fair enough, we'll go with that". And so a monster was born.

Now, according to John Waters, the Eurovision is about "desire" and whilst that may seem a bit off the topic, he is actually right because if there is one thing that the host broadcaster of any Eurovision desires, it is to show how superior they are in their broadcasting skills. As a result, money is thrown at the contest. Engineers get the chance to buy all kinds of systems and equipment that, up until then, they had been denied in annual budgets and the top above and below the line talent available to the broadcaster is drafted in to deliver the show. Certainly, the appearance of “Riverdance” as the interval act for the 1994 contest demonstrates the very high level of desire the producers had that year to show RTE and Ireland in a good light. So great was the pressure on RTE to deliver a top show year after year during the early Nineties and so good were Irish acts at winning it in the first place, 1992 to 1994 consecutively, that many of the people drafted in to work on the shows went on to stellar intenational careers in entertainment elsewhere, such as Michael Flatley and Declan Lowney who went on to direct "Father Ted".

Meanwhile, back at my theory...I should say that I am something of a fan of John Waters. He is a formidable man with a formidable intellect who has fought and won battles in this country that; given Ireland’s legal and social framework, I thought were impossible to win. As a result I read him on a regular basis and thus I have noticed that he, on occasion, queries a subject on two levels and to demonstrate what I mean I will give you an absurdist example of this intellectual tactic. Let's say you were to ask me about a bottle of milk, I could answer you as follows, “There are two questions to be asked of the bottle of milk. Firstly, what is it? Secondly, what does it mean?”

So, if we apply that approach to our 2007 Eurovision loss, firstly we might say that it is a loss for a group of Irish musicians who drew on Irish culture to create a song that they hoped would win a song contest. Secondly, we might say that it represents a general failure of Irish culture to translate or connect with other countries within Europe. It means that Irish culture and society, just as it was virile and relevant in a wider context in the early 1990s, is now impotent and irrelevant in the early 21st Century and that this has deeper economic implications for us in the future.

In other words, we are now where Finland used to be; they came last in 1963, 1965, 1968, 1980, 1982, 1990, 1992 and 1996. Perhaps future Finnish economists will look back and talk of 2006 as the beginning of the Lordi generation, when Finns saw their love of, eh, heavy metal turn them into winners just as the economy was looking up after 16 years of recession.

So, in the event that the above is, in some oblique way correct, what do I then propose, dear reader, to solve our imminent economic demise? Well, given the Eurovision’s recent appetite for Sturm und Drang, combined with a tasteful display of female flesh, I propose that next year we send out the legendary Irish punk band Paranoid Visions along with a crack team of Leeson Street lap dancers to do battle on our behalf. That should put the wind up the Serbians.

 


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12

Take a good look at the advertisment to the left. It's a recruitment poster for the US Marines and I doubt you would have seen it in any American music magazine that you care to read. However, if you read American surf magazines, adverts like this are becoming more and more prevelant with video commercials for the army also being tagged on to the start of the surf movie trailers that are accessible on 'SURFING' magazine's website.

Advertisments of this kind, to say the least, leave me cold. They play on the machismo that young men like to display in what should be their salad days. "If you have what it takes to make it", the poster dares the reader without telling them that having what it takes might involve being wounded or not coming back at all.

I had thought long and hard about what to write concerning why I am so opposed to this advert; it appeared on page 81 of the June 2007 edition of "TRANSWORLD SURF", but I thought that, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I would instead show you a photograph of former Marine Casey Owens, in his dress blues, after he returned from active service. The woman in tears standing to the left is his mother Janna Owens. Casey is one young man who will never surf again and this image of him could have been taken straight from the Bob Dylan song, "John Brown", which ends with the stanza:

"As he turned away to walk, his Ma was still in shock
At seein' the metal brace that helped him stand.
But as he turned to go, he called his mother close
And he dropped his medals down into her hand."

I

 

 


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09

Legenday surfer Laird Hamilton jetted into Dublin on Tuesday to make publicity appearances on behalf of his sponsor Oxbow at both Onboard Surf Shop in Duke Street and 53 Degrees North in Carrickmines where he signed autographs and posed for photographs. A big guy in every respect; his SUV was parked outside the Shelbourne Hotel with a massive surfboard lashed to the top, he is best known on this side of the Atlantic for his starring role in 'Riding Giants' which he helped to finance.

So far, so what. This sort of thing happens all the time in music stores around Ireland when an artist has a new album to plug but it is very new in the world of Irish surfing and has caused some comment, in particular the fact that although the autograph signings were free, the talk and presentation that Hamilton gave at 6pm in 53 Degrees North came with a price tag of € 5.00 leaving some people to question why should they have to pay for what was, in effect, a marketing trip on behalf of his sponsor ?

Now, I didn't got to either of the signings nor did I attend the talk so I cannot comment on whether it was worth the time or money. I'm sure Laird had some excellent advice to impart; as does any person who is at the top of their profession, although I think the opportunities of learning from an expert surfer are very limited if you are not in the water with them. The main reason though that I didn't show up was that I think you should only stand in line for one of your heroes and none of my heroes are surfers because there is nothing heroic, in my opinion, about surfing.

Surfing is, when you strip it down, a selfish pursuit. It's one person - one wave and it is pursued primarily for self gratification. I'm sure Laird is a wonderful person and he certainly gave his all to his Irish fans on Tuesday but he appears no more heroic to me than any excellent athlete. That is not to diminish his many amazing sporting achievements but, you see, its not what you do on your own behalf that marks you out as a hero, its what you do on behalf of others. Bob Geldof on television promoting his song " I Don't Like Mondays" is not heroic. Bob Geldof on television during Live Aid, pleading with people "to give us your f*cking money", that's the stuff of a hero.

It's a point well made in the somewhat clunky but heartfelt blockbuster 'The Guardian" which stars Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher as two US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. The real life motto of these guys is "So Others May Live". Yes, the dialogue was a little jaded, yes the plotting was full of cliches but the central idea of the movie, that you devote your life to helping others, ran through the script like the stringer in a surfboard.

Laird Hamilton performs superhuman feats in the Pacific ocean, he looks great in magazines and on screen, and there are certainly many who would wish to emulate his sporting abilities but he is not my idea of a real hero. And it is a view that surf writer Matt Warshaw appears to share, "Surfing is devalued by all the inflated talk of gods and heroes. It is nothing but a rhythm, a pulse, an alternating tension and relaxation - and that is grand enough"

So who is a real hero? Well, the people who serve in the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI for a start. Like I said before, its not what you do for yourself that counts, its what you do for others. And don't go telling them about some surfer dude challenging the might of the ocean, they know all too well the real power of the invulnerable tide.

 

 


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08

In October of 2006, Cecilia Stego Chilo the Swedish Minister for Trade who oversaw funding for Sweden's state broadcaster STV, stepped down after admitting that she had failed to pay her television licence for 16 years and that she had been paying her nanny cash in hand. Did you get that? Will I repeat it for you?

Now, in the Sunday Independent on 6/5/2007, a poll commissioned by the newspaper found that 37% of the electorate still want Bertie Ahern to lead the next government, 5% more than his nearest rival Enda Kenny, even after it was revealed that Bertie had received € 50,000.00 in undeclared donations from businessmen in the early 1990s. In fact, after he initially admitted to receiving these payments his popularity in the polls actually increased, and he certainly didn't resign over the disclosure.

In other words, the Swedish idea of ethics and standards in public life is very different than our own which is the long way of saying that when you compare us to the rest of Europe, Irish politics is a laughing stock whereas, when it comes to Irish comedy, nobody is laughing. A Minister for Finance who didn’t have a bank account himself? That’s better than any routine by Des Bishop.

This is why I cannot take the newly formed Irish Rock the Vote organisation seriously or the latest lame attempt to satirise Irish political life, that suprisingly unfunny and toothless show "The State of Us” fronted by the actor Risteard Cooper and written by Gerry Stembridge, a fine writer himself who doesn't appear to have the same fire in the belly as Dermot Morgan had. I once met Morgan, by the way, and I asked him how come his political impressions were so spot on and his reply was simple, “because I hate the f*ckers”. To be fair though, sharp satire is not alway an effective means of dealing with politicians. It pained Morgan greatly that the more vicious he made his parodies of Squire Hockey, the more people seemed to like CJH. Equally, Will Ferrell's brilliant turn as George W. Bush is credited with improving his public image; not something I imagine Ferrell had in mind.

Rock The Vote is not, as you would imagine a call to arms by a new generation of politicised young Irish people in the tradition Bob Geldof who want to see the end of a style of politics that has seen not just one but two TDs end up in jail in the last decade as a result of the work of the Tribunals, nope, its actually an organisation out to answer such questions as, Where do I go to vote?”, “How do I cast my vote? “, What happens then?”, “How is my vote counted?”, “What if a candidate isn’t happy with the result?”, “Where can I find out about the results?”. What !!!  If this is the new generation of electorate, the question isn’t how can the present government stay in power, it is how can they not? Jesus, if CJH had been up against this bunch of numpties he could have been made dictator for life.

I won’t bore you with tales of my college days but just let me say this. When I was in university, RTE wasn’t running expensive adverts made with public funds begging you to wear a condom. In fact, student unions were breaking the law in their attempts to provide young people with contraception because it was illegal to sell them without a prescription, and the chances of getting one on a prescription were almost impossible anyway unless you were married. And that sea change in Irish public life wasn't effected by a generation of people who thought that voting was what you did when you were watching 'You're a Star"

Look, I am not telling you who to vote for, that’s up to you, what I am saying is that we aren’t going to get higher standards in public office unless we expect and demand them and, when we don’t get them, we should demand the removal of those in office who do not meet those standards. Perhaps we should rock the voters before we rock the vote.


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Nuggets from our archive

2003 - Witnness 2003, a comprehensive review by Brian Kelly of the 2 days of what transpired to be the last ever Witnness festival (in 2004 it was rebranded as Oxegen when Heineken stepped into the sponsor shoes).