A few more thoughts…

Is this the closest I’ve been to a natural disaster? I guess it is and I’m not really that close. But its hit me far more than I’ve ever been hit before, because I know the city so very well. I think Jogja is about 1000 km or so from here, westways across this immense archipelago, but its close in spirit; its in the same country and I know quite a few souls there, all of whom, it seems, are thankfully ok unlike so many. At least the dead are dead, it’s the injured and homeless you really have to feel for. But of course to so many, in reality most, outside Indonesia it’s just another disaster with a few thousand faceless third world victims.

As we all know the western world in particular pays lip service to these seemingly regular but remote events, unlike, say, Katrina, which dominated the wires and pages for months and months. The Tsunami was of global interest partially because so many western tourists died, and also because of what it was, a monster wave directly from the pages of science fiction and so beloved by Hollywood. The world shed a brief tear for all those in the likes of Aceh and Sri Lanka, promised funds, then moved on to the Superbowl or whatever. A quick google is evidence that updated information on Tsunami relief is sparse on the net – the west lost interest fast after it left CNN.

A friend who was recently in Aceh says the place is still a mess, boats sit on buildings and whole sectors of Bandeh Aceh and the surrounding lands remain devastated, untouched since the wave, partially because there is no-one to go back there and partially because the money has long since dried up, complicated by the fact that so much of the moneys and aid promised simply didn’t materialise or was sidelined before it reached there.

A doctor I spoke to yesterday, just back from a field hospital in Bantul, told me that medical supplies are reasonably plentiful but food and blankets are very sparse. I guess bandages and splints are harder to get ready cash for in the markets. Cynical? Maybe … probably realistic is closer to the truth.

In the case of this recent quake, the online edition of The New Zealand Herald (which is the version I see when I look at it) had it at second billing to some bloody provincial rugby game. I have to be honest with myself and admit that I hadn’t really heard of Yogyakarta until I came to Bali a few times, and I’m, I hope or at least, like to tell myself, reasonably well read and a little globally literate so what hope is there that Dick or Doreen from Dannevirke has any idea, or really, for that matter cares. So I suppose the rugby might be more immediately important. Certainly down the boozer the game is going to take precedence to the human catastrophe in Central Java.

I don’t despair as much about that as I do about those I’ve found online in recent days trying to justify the Habitha massacre. Lines such as, a few bad apples, or they were under pressure after three tours and the like, sicken me. If this war in Iraq has seen one thing it’s been the rise of those trying to justify the unjustifiable.

From the moment the cruise missile slammed into the restaurant in an attempt to take out Saddam but took out unknown diners out for the evening instead this invasion has blatantly carried the message that the life of an Iraqi is worthless to the coalition of the willing. I guess it goes back further, to the thousands of bombs dropped over the previous decade to enforce the “no-fly-zone’ and the sanctions that took the lives of so many innocents. And it has been glaringly reinforced by the failure of the invaders to make any attempt to count those Iraqis they’ve killed or whom have died as a result of their actions. So why are we surprised…

The European, Arab and Asian media have carried stories like this relentlessly since the invasion, largely ignored unless there were “photos’ by the, so named, MSM, in the USA. British newspapers have reported UK military sources as being aghast and appalled by the gung-ho trigger happy attitude of their US comrades in the field, and the casual way its been covered up by those above them.


On an altogether more pleasant note, I’m intrigued by the idea that Brian Eno is making records with Roxy Music again. The two albums they made together back in the dim past are still towering achievements. I’m intrigued but not anticipating though. Re-unions are not something I hold in high regard and I fear their best work was thirty something years back. Damn, was it that long? Similarly I have no great hopes for a re-united New York Dolls album, due this July. I say re-united, but, for god’s sake, there re only two left. I think the best Dolls stuff was probably to be heard whilst lying in a semi comatose state at a sleazy bar in New York City circa 1972.

What I can’t quite believe is that The Rock’n’Roll hall of Fame has not inducted the New York Dolls. There are all sorts of sad shitty US rawk acts in there but the singularly most influential white rock act to come out of the US in the early seventies ain’t there. No wonder Johnny told them to fuck off …

These songs make it all worthwhile:

Radio SlaveMy Bleep…both mixes: sexy technoid noise ….

The Mighty DiamondsTonight. Produced by Allen Toussaint in New Orleans about 78. As much La as JA and exquisite

Heaven 17Lets all Make a Bomb (album version). Most of H17’s output was pompous but this was different and head and shoulders above the remade single version.

Glen CampbellGuess I’m Dumb. Oh, produced by Brian Wilson. I like the word Guess in song titles (I Guess the Lord Must be in NYC / Guess God Thinks I’m Abel etc). I guess what I really like about this is that it only partially sounds like a BB record with Glen on top, there is so much more to the melee.

Bryan FerryRiver of Salt. He wasn’t always a tosser, quite the opposite and once or twice I’ve wondered how he got to that latter space. Ferry was so silly cool at one time, and nowhere was he slick cool more than on this very brief track found on his much loved These Foolish Things debut solo.

Sam DeesSigned Miss Heroin. Why are so many songs about smack so cool?  Drugs might fuck you up in the end but along the way they produce some decent noise. Early 70s Atlantic classic.

Trouble FunkTrouble Funk Express. I can’t for the life of me figure out why this DC Go-Go band decided to do this cover of Kraftwerk’s train travel anthem but I’m glad they did. Odd but rather neat.

Delia Gonzalez & Gavin RussomRevelee (Carl Craig mix). The best track off one of last year’s best albums remixed by the best producer on the planet right now

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