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Showing posts from March, 2018

TRUE BLUE, BABY I LOVE YOU [102]

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For me, the easiest way to start is by recounting the story: last week, the French-Dutch company Gemalto, a digital security company that also manufactures mobile SIM cards and biometric scanners, emerged as the winner of a blind auction held by the UK Government for the contract to produce passports for ten years from 2019. The new passports will be blue in colour, but this turned out to be the least interesting part of the story. Gemalto will replace De La Rue, the British makers of banknotes and stamps, who themselves won the contract in 2009 from 3M Security Printing and Scanning, although the originators of Scotch tape and Post-it notes are no longer in this line of work. Back to today: the “Daily Mail” newspaper, having fallen out of its bath chair upon hearing that a foreign company – a French-ish one, no less – may be awarded the contract to produce a symbol of British nationality, has received over 120,000 signatures to a petition demanding that the makers of British pa

IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD [101]

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It is hard to talk about the genre of music known as vaporwave without understanding its intention. A bit like punk, vaporwave subverts the 1980s consumerist society by cutting up the music and images of the decade, and representing it as an ironic form of nostalgia, and yes, I am still talking about music. The name “vaporwave” comes from two sources – “vaporware” is a term given to computer software that is announced, but never appears, while it also evocates “waves of vapour,” a term from Karl Marx denoting old ideas and conventions being swept away before they can solidify. It is not a bad way of describing a genre that popped up as a meme, on the social media site Tumblr in 2010, but its having lasted longer than the original burst of punk in the 1970s means the nostalgia for the failed promises of a 1980s consumer society clearly speaks a lot to people. What does vaporwave do? Just as the postmodern practices of sampling, cutting and pasting, and nostalgia came to the

WE HAVE THE CHANCE TO TURN THE PAGES OVER [100]

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This is my one hundredth article for “Leigh Spence is Dancing with the Gatekeepers,” probably the best blog title in the world, and I thank you all for reading what began as a weekly writing exercise in May 2016. I must have written at least sixty thousand words since then but, perhaps more importantly, sales of the “Daily Mail” newspaper fell by over two hundred thousand copies in that time. I know these figures are not related, but I have more to say about this later. What I love about writing is the process, the build-up, the formation of an idea. This usually culminates in a frenzy of typing at the last possible moment, like this one has, especially if the ideas came later. For months, I assumed trying to equate the outlandish nature of the current political climate with Dadaist performance art did not work out, leaving me with lessons for next time, but that article, using a quote from Alfred Jarry’s absurdist play “Ubu Roi” – “That’s a beautiful speech, but nobody’s listen

IT’S THE THEATRE OF FINANCIERS [99]

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If I ever win the lottery, I would invest in premium bonds. I know the National Lottery is now the main way to win a cash sum, but having now looked further, I can maintain my fantasy. Bonds are used by governments and businesses to borrow money from investors for a fixed period of time. Interest on the amount borrowed is paid to the investor at regular intervals, and the investor gets their initial sum back at the end of the term. Premium bonds are different in that the interest is instead issued as a monthly prize draw, and the bonds are held indefinitely by the UK Government, through National Savings & Investments, until you request your investment back. This is all fine, so long as the business or government can pay back its debt to you. The Gibson Guitar Corporation, makers of the Les Paul since 1952, are currently facing bankruptcy, and not just because guitar-based rock music is currently not as popular as electronic-based rap or hip hop: it is running the risk of