Thursday

MEAT



JESUS CHRIST'S INTERNET DIGEST: NO. 7 IN A SERIES


"Your own personal Jesus, someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares… your own personal Jesus." So sang brittle-boned smack hoover Dave Gahan on the famous Depeche Mode track, but you lucky Weaponizer readers don’t need the kind of opium-addled emo-Jesus that he’s talking about. No indeed, because you have YOUR own personal Jesus already, in the form of Jesus ‘Ho-bagger’ Christ, our friendly internet columnist and IT Mr Fix-It to the stars, who seems to be in a somewhat profane mood today... Take it away JC!

Hi sinners. First, some breaking news. R2D2 is going to fuck you up. Now, on with the show.

This week I’ve got a lot of stuff to get through, so let’s not rest on the seventh day like good old Dad, let’s just get right to it. First up, I’m sporting the world’s first broadband t-shirt today, and yes it is tight and shiny, displaying the supple curves of my heavenly body. That’s right, I can email you with my nipples. How d’you like that, bitches? Like it? Try some of this – a Bluetooth tattoo. That’s right – a tattoo that powers your iPod. How future is that?

The news that British teens are tooled up to fuck will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been mugged by a troupe of the wee bastards in some dank Edinburgh close. And that’s nothing compared to the feral neds of Glasgow, who now outnumber the Bloods and Crips. Scary stuff.

It’s tough being a kid, and it gets tougher every year – so I’m going to go out on a limb and call for an armistice of a kind. I suggest that rather than letting these teens carry weapons around untrained, we devise some sort of reality show where they train in different disciplines (claw hammer bash attack, Stanley knife duelling, and the traditional ‘square go’) and then fight each other to the death, with the winner being awarded a lifetime of JJB Sports vouchers. Who’s game? We could call it Who Wants A Fucking Asbo Then, Cunts?, and get Simon Cowell to present.

Space news now – it seems that the British government is considering putting Brits in space. This is all well and good – it’s about time Dan Dare became a reality, with us Brits colonising Venus and subjugating the green-skinned native brutes that live there. And the good news is, there could be many more planet-sized rocks and exoplanets than we thought – the Kuiper belt could yet yield a replacement for the much-missed pseudo-planet Pluto. It’s probably about time we got the fuck off this planet anyway – apparently our confinement on Earth has lead to mental atrophy among the British, who recently voted Oasis’ first two LPs the best ever made by anyone. Proof that humanity is completely fucked, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Speaking of humanity being fucked, it seems we have got about 21 years left before the machines take over. So make sure you download those Oasis albums as soon as you can, you don’t want to miss out.

I’m sure I’ve told you this already, but repetition does tend to hammer the message home. FACEBOOK IS RUN BY NAZIS! ‘Nuff said.

If you’re planning on attending round two of the anti-$cientology protests worldwide on 15th March, you might want one of these babies - a knitted gas mask. Or maybe even one of these, if you want to make it a religious fight – scroll down for my personal favourite, the 9mm Crucifix Gun. Salvation is nigh! More pointless weaponry – how about a wooden mech suit? Or a keyboard that flashes like some kind of Daft Punk robot thing?





Yeah, thought you’d like that. And if you did, you’re gonna love this – that’s right, what every techno geek craves… hot naked chicks. Oh, and babies fighting snakes.





Don’t say Jesus ain’t good to ya. Till next time, say your prayers fucktubes.

- JC

Tuesday

CHANOLOGY: WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS


Re-printed from Above Top Secret website. Don't know anything about the veracity of this, but it is definitely an interesting theory. Thanks Cookie for the link.


Is the "Anonymous" Scientology Protest an NSA/FBI Fishing Expedition?

"Greetings fair members and readers of AboveTopSecret.com. Over the past few weeks, we've seen an alarming event, one that initially seemed exceptionally odd to me. After much research, I am now convinced this event is a proactive joint counter intelligence operation from the NSA and FBI. What is this event you might ask? It's the sudden public pronouncements of the "Anonymous Group" to expose the Church of Scientology.

While this subject may demand an essay of epic length, in an effort to succinctly explain my proposition (which I believe to be fact), I'll make a few statements that range from fact to well-informed supposition. My reference material ranges from what is freely available online to recent private conversations among friends within the "intelligence community".

Statement One: The NSA and FBI track online connectivity
Among those who would research the tactics of groups tasked with covertly gathering intelligence, an overarching strategy is clear: all digital communications is either tracked or retained for later tracking. The misconception is that the tracking is for specific communications between "individuals of interest", nothing could be further from the truth. The tracking utilizes complex "fuzzy logic" and artificial intelligence to recognize patterns of connections in an effort to proactively identify "individuals of interest".

Statement Two: The tracking works best with the introduction of a known parameter
A similarly well-known fact among those who would research this tracking is that it is very difficult to discern reliable patterns of connectivity in the overall randomness of every day communications. Therefor, in order produce useable results, predefined parameters will be injected into the communications mix. For example, if a juicy story on vote fraud is introduced via one source, the pattern matching will record the spread of the topic, where it spreads, how it spreads, and who are the primary dispersion points. Depending on the topic, politics, scandal, extraterrestrial cover-ups, 9/11 conspiracies, or what have you, the resulting patterns of dispersal provide a treasure trove of connectivity data -- and when paths of connectivity cross topical areas or repeat-and-loop within a topic, "individuals of interest" are identified.

Statement Three: The NSA has been found "tapping into the Internet"
In fact, President Bush is seeking, no desperate, to grant immunity to the communications conglomerates who cooperated.

Statement Four: The FBI has a history of proactive counter intelligence
The past sixty years are riddled with stories of this government body injecting provocative information into the cultural mix in order to induce a reaction that will cause persons of interest to surface.

Statement Five: The group, "Anonymous", takes a public stance: Project Chanology
Can someone explain to me how a loose-knit subculture of hacker children from 4chan and IRC, formerly known for not much more than defacing MySpace pages and other nuisance hacks/pranks, suddenly takes a public stance on a socially complex issue? And part of the public stance of this "Anonymous" group involves the very un-anonymous action of public space protests.

Statement Six: The group, "Anonymous", is a target of the NSA and FBI
Regardless of the more realistic likelihood that this group is nothing more than bored 15-year olds, both of these agencies have labeled the group "cyber terrorists" and have placed a high priority on infiltration and prosecution.

Statement Seven: The cult, "Church of Scientology", is also targeted by the NSA and FBI
While the U.S. Government would never make the overt mistake of classifying the CoS as a cult, several law enforcement agencies and covert intelligence bodies have applied the distinction of "dangerous cult". Several low-level covert infiltration operations are underway. The operation running through the NSA is rumored to be called "Project Voltar" (the rationale for the name is unknown) and supposedly involves the study of recruitment tactics.

Final Statement: The Chanology Project is a covert pattern injection by the NSA and FBI
I've been able to engage three members of intelligence agencies about the "Chanology Project" purported to be initiated by the "Anonymous" group. All three unequivocally agree that the initiative has all the earmarks of a covert NSA pattern injection that follows the tactical traditions of FBI CoIntelPro. It brilliantly serves two known objectives: 1- identify connectivity patterns related to the "Anonymous" group; 2- increase public criticism of the Scientology cult without risk of discovering a government agency connection.

The dots have been laid before you and connected into a sinister "conspiracy theory" that fits known facts, follows the most widely accepted conjecture of the activities of the NSA, and is supported by a historical record of similar actions."

INVISIBLES: PARADISE LOST



Just think - without this there would be no Goths and what the hell would Tim Burton do?

Below, some video highlights we found





Invisibles

INVISIBLES: ODDLY TAOIST



We have no idea who the fuck Tim Wilson is but this struck us as oddly Taoist in nature. How strange.



Invisibles

Monday

MOMENTS OF INSANITY: 'ICE' & 'ZOMBIES CALLING' CREATOR FAITH ERIN HICKS





Faith Erin Hicks is a writer and artist whose work is garnering lots of attention, both for her witty dialogue and well-crafted characters, and her strong linework and Manga-influenced art. Her first webcomic, the high school supernatural high-jinx tale Demonolgy 101, was a runaway success, while her sophomore project Zombies Calling was later collected as a graphic novel by Slave Labor Graphics, home to Roman Dirge of Lenore fame.

Her new ongoing comic, Ice, is a love story set in a society that has suffered a disastrous ecological event; it is one of the best pieces of ongoing speculative fiction available online, presaging the themes of work like Warren Ellis’ new project, Freakangels. Faith took time out of her busy schedule to give us a bit of background on her three major projects, all of which can be viewed free online.

* Image - self portrait by Faith Erin Hicks. Copyright 2008, all rights reserved.

W/ What motivated you to get into writing and drawing comics, and what made you decide to initially put Demonology 101 on the internet?

F/Because the internet was there! …and free. Honestly, I'm not quite sure how I got into it, just a moment of insanity. I've always loved comics, but I never really started being interested in drawing them until well into University. Once I started, though, I found I couldn't stop. I became very interested in seeing how the stories I was writing would develop, and I became very interested in trying to make drawing my career. And comics are a good way to improve your drawing skills.

W/ High school can be an emotionally scarring experience for some people – how much did your own experience of high school affect the subject matter of Demonology 101?

F/ It didn't, actually. I didn't draw on any of my high school experiences for D101, and the less said about that, the better, ha ha.

W/ Zombies Calling eventually got published by Slave Labor Graphics. How did this come about did you approach them, or did they approach you? Do you think it has expanded your audience?

F/ I approached them. Or rather, I mailed them. I sent them a Zombies Calling pitch package and a long while afterwards, they contacted me about publishing it. I think they really liked my cover letter and story summary, which I find pretty hilarious. Not that I blame them: the art in the pitch comic I sent was nothing to write home about. I don't know about expanded audiences… D101 was really popular for a while, and I would say it was more popular than ZC is, but then, D101 is free. Most of the people that I've met / talked to online that have read Zombies Calling have mentioned liking Demonology 101 too, but I've also gotten emails from folks who had no idea of my online work, and discovered it after reading Zombies Calling. Which is awesome!

W/ Zombies Calling looks at the 'rules' of surviving a Zombie apocalypse. Who do you consider the number one authority on Zombie matters? Are you a fan of Robert Kirkman's zombie epic The Walking Dead?

F/ Not really, it's too brutal for me. I'm really only into the funny/cheesy aspect of zombie lore, the original three zombie movies by George Romero, that sort of thing. Although I really enjoyed World War Z by Max Brooks, and that's pretty gruesome. But then, it's also a novel, not a comic. I think I just have a hard time with the visual presentation of things like torture and people being horrific to each other, which The Walking Dead has in spades. It's very well written, very well done, but I don't have the stomach for it.

W/ Ice is set in a post-apocalyptic world - do you consider it to be a fantasy work, or speculative fiction (ie. something that might / could happen)?

F/ Ice is very much inspired by what I see the world progressing towards. That is, a society that has driven itself to the brink of civilisation by simply overusing resources. I wanted to portray this trodden, exhausted world with an exhausted, apathetic populace. It's not really post-apocalyptic in the sense that this one great devastation has occurred. It's supposed to be a portrayal of what would happen if we just simply continued on with our earth-abusing ways.

W/ What advice do you have for people looking to get into writing / drawing web comics? Any recommendations in terms of how to get started, and how to get your work seen?

F/ Honestly, I really fell into it by accident, so I can't offer much advice. The only thing I can really suggest is try to keep your updates consistent. It really helps to grow your readership if you can do that.

W/ Your characters feel very real, and have gotten more real as your work has continued. The characterisation in Ice is particularly strong and very textured. Do you base your characters on friends, or are they entirely drawn from imagination?

F/ Sometimes I draw my friends in the background of a panel, but no, I don't usually base characters on people I know. The one exception is Robyn from Zombies Calling, who I based roughly on a friend.

W/ What software do you use for displaying your comics online? Of the many webcomic sites I have seen, yours is one of the easiest to use.

F/ Oh man, it's just all done by hand! I don't use any kind of scripts, or anything. I have a separate html file for each D101 and Ice page, and put the jpeg of the page right there on it. It sounds like a lot of work, but once you get it set up and get your page template with your next buttons at the bottom, it's quite easy to replicate. Tedious, yes, but very easy for the reader to navigate. I don't really like a lot of the layouts for online comics. I'm particularly annoyed by banner ads at the top of a comic page. On the website itself, fine, but I find them really distracting.

READ FAITH ERIN HICKS COMICS:

Ice

Zombies Calling

Demonolgy 101

Thursday

INVISIBLES: LUTHER ARKWRIGHT... PKD...



There are - in our less then humble opinion - a number of "comics" the budding occultist/inner space pilot - of whatever tradition - should read.

Now, there are a lot be honest, but the top 6 perhaps would include our dear selves, The Invisibles - it goes without saying (although we must, once again mention, that KM says he has never worn quiet that much PVC) - Moore and William's Promethea, Ennis' Hellblazer, Gaiman's Sandman and Books of Magic, some of the more esoteric ends of the Doc Strange (tantra in a 1970s marvel monthly comic? How the fuck did they get a way with that?) books and possibly the far lesser known - yet VERY culty Adventures Of Luther Arkright.

Now, to be honest, like Promethea, it's not that easy to summarize Arkright and do it justice - although we will say he made his first appearance in the mid 70's where we find him, "teaming up with a group of cigar-chewing biker nuns to recover the sacred relics of St Adolf of Nuremberg from 'a bunch a male chauvinist priests'. So, after looking at the covers below, go and buy a copy. if you want you could even go and buy the audio production from Big finish Productions or if your really unlucky wait till around 2009 when the film is released.

The following people had this to say about our young Arkright (Fuck me, should get commission for this or something):

Alan Moore - "A work ambitious in both scope and complexity that still stands unique upon the comics landscape . . . stunning."

Jack Kirby - "I love the illustrative style. Talent is profoundly international and Luther Arkwright should sell on a universal scale. I get a great joy out of it."

Will Eisner - "Arkwright is very imaginative and exploratory and is really pushing back the boundaries of the comic medium"

Neil Gaiman - "Ambitious, dense, exciting, stimulating, Arkwright is a tightly etched vision of the other side of Now presented by a master craftsman."

Warren Ellis - "Luther Arkwright is probably the single most influential graphic novel to have come out of Britain to date. In all the ways that matter, there is still nothing else like it."

Garth Ennis - "From riveting action scenes to beautiful silent sequences, from studies in hateful obsession to humor both ribald and gentle, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright is surely one of the all-time great epics of the medium."

Michael Moorcock - "Good classical music to me...stimulating, fresh and better than most of the comic stuff done here, France or America."

Harlan Ellison - "I read Luther Arkwright and I love it a lot"

Clive Barker - "Luther Arkwright is in a noble tradition of English fantastical fiction. Offbeat and bizarre, it constantly defies expectation."

Ramsey Campbell - "Bryan Talbot has declared that his intention in Arkwright is to help the comic medium take its place among the other arts. If there's any justice, there ought to be no doubt of his success in this."

Moebius - "It's beautiful. It's a perfect example, not of adult comics but of comics becoming adult, that is of comics coming of age."

Harvey Kurtzman - "Bryan Talbot...SUPER!"

Pat Mills - "The stunning amount of work and commitment that goes into 'The Adventures of Luther Arkwright' makes me weak at the knees. It's phenomenal."

Stephen Gallagher - "Cutting-edge stuff...the state of the art in British graphic storytelling."

MORE STUFF...

A debate about PKD adaptations...



Invisibles

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: EDINBURGH'S MOST HARDCORE



*Editor's note - This is a re-print of an article about Northern Exposure, one of Edinburgh's most inspiring hip-hop bands. I featured it on my MySpace blog nearly a year ago, so some of the info about NrnExpo's upcoming projects is not up to date. Check their MySpace for upcoming gigs and projects. I'm re-printing this here on Weaponizer because as rapper Sweet E says, she is a fighter: someone who truly knows that her Words Are Weapons. Also, check out the new videos on this page for the band's track 'Halal The Beef', and an experimental animation short starring Sweet E. Thanks to The Skinny, who commissioned the shorter article that this piece evolved from.



"Me, I'm a fighter, I'm one of them Braveheart type of people, you get me? I'm not gonna lie down and let anyone oppress me, or speak for me in terrible ways, and do bad things in my name. I cannot be part of a society that accepts terrorist and tyrannical behaviour… It's like the system is set up to weed out the genius and to exclude them, to destroy them, to force them to become criminals or outcasts." – Sweet E, Northern Exposure

Since the age of thirteen, Sweet E has been making hip-hop with her brother as Northern Exposure. Their first mixtape included many moments of unparalleled ghetto documentary – tracks like The Greed, The Grime ("The greed, the grime, the ghetto, the guns / My boy's smokin' crack with his heart-broken Mum") and Halal The Beef left listeners in no doubt as to Sweet E and Ibrahim's commitment to realism and spirituality. Their sole release to date, they have nonetheless been making moves for years, but rather than getting stuck in the studio, they simply toured and toured, making connections and collaborating live with Skinnyman and Blak Twang, and even US legends like Naughty By Nature and Mos Def.

Sweet E took time out from her busy schedule to talk about some new tracks she has been working on, but the brief interview spiralled into a wide-ranging discourse about hip-hop ethics, the slave trade, Scottish history and corrupt capitalism. Here is the full, un-expurgated version of our conversation.

So I understand you have been working on some new tracks? Tell us about what's going down.

"Basically, it's been hectic lately. Northern Exposure is quite different to a lot of other organisations because we can only tell people about what we're doing two or three days before it happens – because that's when we know ourselves. That's why we work so well with Skinnyman and the Mud Fam. For example, last week we were invited to do a show with Westwood and ?uestlove from The Roots, and we only knew about that a few days beforehand. Things are changing all the time. Recently I met up with a chap – he's a producer, but I don't want to say his name – who had seen us perform at a party for K-Swiss, and at the ICA in London, with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Terry Walker, and Estelle. He was really impressed by the fact we didn't even have an agent, but that is the level we were on, and that is the sort of parties we were being asked to play."

"At the time, I was being sponsored by Evisu and Puma Womenswear. That attracts a bit of attention in London, the fact I'd been chosen for these, but no-one had really heard of me. So straight away, there's a lot there for someone who has got a sound head in marketing and promotion to do a lot with us. So we started working with this chap – his first name is Chris – he's worked with a lot of the reggae greats. Toots & The Maytals, and some of the Studio One artists. He was wanting us to come together with some of the great reggae musicians, but he decided to see what we would do with some of his beats. We killed all the tracks he sent our way; we went on to do BBC Radio London and a few other big things, he also saw our connections in Japan with DJ Haruka and the Yao Cho clan, who have a residency at 93 Feet East and the 1001 CafĂ© in Brick Lane, in London. For the past year they have been saying to us, 'Come out to Japan, get some footage, get some stuff done…' But then, myself and my brother Ibrahim come from quite meagre backgrounds, so it has been quite a mission getting things together – whether it be footage, or recording or whatever. But the Northern Exposure philosophy, the Mud Fam philosophy is: you just keep going. But it turns out that a lot of the people Chris has been playing our music to, like Evisu, have been really liking it, so their idea is that we will go down to London soon, record the tracks that we sent them rough recordings of, and then they're going to engineer a podcast for us, where we'll be rocking some Evisu and Puma stuff – luxury items, tweed and so on. They were fascinated by us because we're black, we're Scottish, we write our own lyrics and make our own beats."

And what about an album? Is that something you see Northern Exposure working towards?

"It just depends on what your priorities are in life. If you want to make money at any cost, you basically just need to sell out. You just do whatever they want you to do, much like a fashion model or an actor. If you're prepared to do whatever these people want you to do to sell their product, sell this film, make this money – if you wanna do that, there's two ways you can go about it. You can send away your stuff – tracks, footage, whatever – to labels and A&Rs and say, 'Listen, what do you want me to do?' Or you can go on a program like X-Factor or Big Brother, something that's going to get you a lot of publicity, and from that you can go on to do a lot of other things. You've got to be hungry for it. A lot of artists are too stoosh, too up themselves. It doesn't matter if you've got fantastic production, or if you're a good rapper – it's the way they go on! I was in the situation where I was looking for junior brand ambassadors for K-Swiss, Trace Magazine, and Nike. I was meeting with a lot of up and coming rappers, and… one thing that being in the game teaches you is; you never know who you're talking to. It doesn't matter how they're dressed, they could be a boy, a girl, black, white whatever – if you're talking to anybody, and you don't come right, you're going to miss out on fantastic opportunities. I've seen people who supported us at shows, who I was telling to just do their thing, do it right, don't listen to people telling you what to do… next thing she's doing X Factor, and I don't even know what…"

"If you want to be famous, there are only a few quick routes to that destination. But if you're making music for another reason, such as to spread a message or to say something meaningful about life, then you have to realise it's a long hard road. You'll probably never make all that much money. It's going to take at least fifteen years to be at the point where you're making thirty to forty grand a year, you know? After that it will probably take you at least another five years to get your name respected up and down the UK. But if you do it properly – like Task Force, Skinnyman, Tommy Evans… or even Wiley and Dizzee and them guys, you know? From the street, from the hood – they got kids, and they're starting to build."

"That's one thing I like about working with Skinnyman and Mud Fam. There may not be many magazines or newspapers talking about Northern Exposure or Mud Fam, but when you go to certain cities, the reputation has already been built. Everyone knows in your in town. It's not about rushing things. I mean, if you put a track out, people are gonna hear it, right? For instance the Northern Exposure mixtape. The only reason that is even in circulation is that people have been begging us for like, ten years to give them some tracks! We only distributed 100 CDs, we weren't even trying to promote it – we even said that anyone who got a copy of the mixtape would get a free album when it comes out. I don't like to rush, you need to give things time to mature. People want proof, though. They put artists under enormous pressure to show what they can do – but you can understand why. There's a lot of blaggers in the game. There's a lot of people who talk the talk and even walk the walk, but if you put them onstage in Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park in London, or at Deal Real Records in Carnaby Street, they flop! You get me? They got nothing; they can't offer nothing unless they got like, ten people there!"

Your new tracks have a reggae influence and direction – is that a clash with your hip-hop roots?

"I'd like to classify Northern Exposure as world music. We work with a whole range of different artists – percussion, strings, reggae beats, hip-hop beats – any kind of beats, we'll do them. We're trying to get people to listen to the message, as opposed to just the beats that we're making. Obviously the beats are a huge part of it… The only thing I would say is; we can be quite selective about the beats we spit over. Especially now – we're not spitting on any epic strings or anything that's too mood altering, so to speak. We're trying to make music that's sincere – music that anybody can listen to. It's the opposite of what it probably should be – it's not necessarily the kind of track where people are going to be thinking, 'This is gonna be in the charts.' It's more about making music that is conscious, verging on political."

You grew up in a notoriously violent and crime-ridden area of Edinburgh – that seems to inform a lot of your lyrics. Is telling stories about your experiences at the heart of what you're trying to do?

"I would say that a large element of our music is to do with our experience, and that experience maturing as we got older. You grow up, and you think the world's a certain type of place. Then you go out into the world and you realise, okay, maybe a lot of the people in the capitalist, globalised West aren't in fact terrible people. Maybe they just don't realise a lot of the things that are going on in their society. So what we do is we try and take negative experiences and turn them into a positive reaction. We try and let people know about what is actually going on – what's going down, even in their own communities, their own societies, you know? A lot of people say to me, Northern Exposure have been in the game for like ten, twelve years. Yet we don't see you on TV, or on the radio a lot of the time. That's because we're not willing to sell out – we're not willing to compromise our message. It doesn't matter how much money you offer us. I used to work as a fashion model, and during that time people offered me the world… offered me so many zeroes, I can't even remember. All I needed to do was dance about in a short skirt, wear make up and hair extensions, and shake my ass. The people that have done that – and I'm not trying to slate anybody, I've got love for everybody, and I don't hold a grudge – well, take someone like Beyonce. When I was young she was coming out with tracks like Nasty Girl, you know: "Nasty put some clothes on." Now that I'm older, she's actually doing the opposite of that. It's very disheartening. I don't agree with this culture of forcing sex – basically negative behaviour, to a certain extent – and forcing it on the younger generation. To be honest, I'm quite upset. I'm quite disappointed in my peers and the people that came before me for not creating a more wholesome environment for me to come into. That's why when I look around at the people in my hood, or when I've travelled around to other hoods, or even not in the hoods, you know? When I see how impoverished they are in terms of their integrity, their morale – in terms of what they value in life, there's only a certain portion or percentage of that that I can say that they are responsible for."

What are the problems facing Scottish hip-hop?

"A lot of people, especially in Scotland, who are getting well known right now… they're not coming from the real. They don't understand what hip-hop's about. They don't understand where it comes from, why it was invented, what it's designed to say. To be honest, I have difficulty taking them seriously, no matter how good their beats or production are, because their content is so lacking. The sort of people I like to work with, a lot of the people in my crew, they're the underdogs, like. They come to you with a CD and maybe the beats are going off here, the vocals are coming in and out all wrong, but the content is serious. It's the type of thing that when you spit it, those people in the same situations understand it, they're feeling it, and they're inspired that someone's actually talking about their situation. I think a lot of people are too scared to talk about reality in front of their children. They'd rather invent some kind of fictional character or situation to explain reality, whereas if people just told each other what was real, I think we'd have a lot less problems in general. In LIFE, you see what I'm saying?"

"A lot of these middle class people who have come into the hip-hop game, loving it like everybody else, I feel like saying to them, why are you a rapper? Look at a football team – not everybody on a team can be the striker. So look at your situation – you're in a fantastic position, you've got money, you've got ability. People will trust you because of how you look and what background you're from. Why do they not take that blessing, that opportunity you've got to do charity and help people, and become a manager. Or set up a studio, and find someone that you think is leading man quality, and put them there. A lot of the problem I've had with getting into collaborations with other people in Scotland is that everyone wants to be the front man, to have a solo. But there's no I in team."

So what is real hip-hop then? There's a lot of talk about realness in the game, but what does it all boil down to?

"That's one of the main reasons why Northern Exposure is still in the game – just to show people the real. Northern Exposure were making hip-hop music in Scotland before anyone else was. We were making hip-hop in Scotland before people here even listened to it, you know what I mean? We made hip-hop because of suffering, because of pain, because we felt like we didn't have any other way to talk to people about what we were going through, and what we were seeing… We saw people who were fantastically talented reduced to nothing. Reduced to begging on the streets, sniffing gas, taking heroin, taking whatever. We were just like, 'Rah! Is this reality?' The juxtaposition with that is that I was sent to an upper-middle class school. I was there with the son of the Chief Inspector of Lothian & Borders. I played football with Craig Gordon. I was going into school with people who were coming in with jeeps on literally the day of their seventeenth birthday. Indoor pools, whatever, you get me? They didn't have a clue what was going on right in their own city. That extends into the music industry: there are too many people who are the gatekeepers to the industry who don't want to see real music being made, because it contradicts their version of reality. We need to be there for that reason. The audiences get complacent."

"We went to play a show, we were supporting Fatman Scoop. The crowd only really got off their arses when Fatman Scoop came on. And I mean, he's not a rapper! He's not an artist. All he did was shout over somebody else's tracks, but so many people came to show love and support. I just looked at that and thought, 'Well, if that's the way it's gonna be…' I mean, that's not setting a path for anyone to come after, it's not supporting an indigenous culture. It's selling out on the audience's part, because they'd rather spend money on an American artist for ten, fifteen quid than support a local artist. But at the same time, I can see where a lot of people are coming from. Because a lot of the local hip-hop that's been produced is not real. It's something that has to be real if people are going to buy into it."

What's your point of view on the commodification of hip-hop into the mainstream, particularly with regard to American hip-hop?

"For me, with my African heritage, there's this concept which applies which is called 'In-house Slave, Out-house Slave.' By commodifying hip-hop, what they've done is taken control of people through the black man. The black man has always been fascinating to Western people, because they always like to look at spectacle. They like to look at things that are different. The black man's sitting their thinking, well why shouldn't I wear diamonds? Ain't no diamonds in this part of the world, ain't no gold, no rubies. But they don't realise they're being used to influence other people into behaving like that. And all the people that are watching the video, they don't have a clue about how the media industry works. All those girls in the music videos are rented, all those jewels are rented – everything's paid for. The artist doesn't own any of them people – the artist's in more debt. The label's like a glorified bank, you get me? Five albums just to pay back what they spent in the first year!"

Arguably the mixtapes being made by the Dirty South Artists and the New York DJs are more representative of the true hip-hop culture, because they are still made at ground level, not in some expensive, uptown studio. Would you agree? How would that apply to our own, local scene?

"That's how hip-hop rolls. Hip-hop's still a subculture, especially here in Scotland. I think a lot of the people that have got big money and can get access to the big shows, they aren't showing enough love. Hip-hop's about showing love! There's a lot of big shows popping off in Scotland, but people need to be on the phone, be like, 'Rah! I'm bringing this artist. Bring your people, bring your voices, get on the mic, let's do this.' But instead they do it all individually, they invite only their friends, and the show isn't even a proper show. It's about collaboration! We need to be collaborating, showing love to each other, and then together we're going to be able to make something happen. But if people keep going on about 'I' and 'Me' then we're never going to get anywhere. It has to be a 'we' thing. And people who are doing hip-hop, if they aren't down with the heart of it, then they need to choose a different genre. Hip-hop is serious – it's about knowledge, it's about educating yourself. Ninety-nine percent of hip-hop artists – apart from many of the recent ones – have been bringing serious knowledge. They've been telling people to go back to their history. To think about colonialism, and why it happened. Think about capitalism, that we're now entrenched and embedded in, and think about how we got there."

"Hip-hop has African roots. Even with jazz musicians, the white jazz musicians – who were some of the people who contributed the most to the civil rights movement – even though they were so educated, they came and they humbled themselves to play alongside the black musicians of that time. There was no ego, there was no: 'We've got all the money, the studios, the instruments.' They recognised the fact that these people were experts."

You're not alone in perceiving a lot of Western culture as being corrupt – from a historical perspective as well as a political one. How did you come to this way of thinking – what's the background?

"Capitalism has certain values that it needs to instil. It provides you with false needs instead of true needs - true needs being food, water, shelter, maybe some love. Capitalism's goal is to make people passive, consuming vessels. It wants to make people individuals, who do not care about their brother, their sister, their grandparents, their mother. It wants to make them the opposite of everything spiritual. It's the opposite of hip-hop too, because they don't want you to think of people suffering, people crying, people dying. They just want you to concentrate on working for their system. It's almost a type of slavery. It's definitely interesting, the way things are going down. Sometimes I'll be in the studio and I'll put down a track and people will be tripping out, laughing, saying like: 'You're gonna get us shot, man. FBI, MI5, Scotland Yard gonna take us out!' You get me, because we talk about the realities of life. One of the fundamental ways you can be against it is by talking about it, is by conversing. Even that itself is against the society we're being controlled by."

"I mean, I was born in the UK, but I feel like I'm living under some kind of totalitarian regime. If I don't wanna go out in a short skirt, show off my breasts, look pretty and work in New Look or Harvey Nicks, then there's something wrong with me. Nah man! I thought this was supposed to be a democracy – freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom to be however I want to be. Never before has there been a country where they've got the system so perfected – people putting their own family into prison, putting their grandparents into homes. Whereas in my culture, my granny is 109. Actually she's probably 111, but she says she's 106. So I say she's 109. She always takes a few years off her age. In my village in Africa, I don't get to talk a lot. I'm allowed to ask questions. Because my grandmother doesn't consider anyone under the age of 50 old enough to even talk. It's so beautiful, because you're in this house where you've got your grandmother who is the source of all the other people in your family, children and so on… your little cousins, one's like seven, she's cooking and cleaning. You've got your older cousins, you've got your Mum, her Mum… you learn so much from your grandparents, your elders. Because the thing is, nobody is an expert at being a parent, or being a leader on this planet. If you look at animals like elephants, they've got this huge herd and the great grandmother is taken care of, because she is the only one who knows how to cross this river. People that come after might have never encountered it, but she knows exactly how to cross it."

"So to go back to capitalism, if you make people individuals and divide mother from father, brother from sister, you have a catastrophic situation – an apocalyptic situation. But me, I'm a fighter, I'm one of them Braveheart type of people, you get me? I'm not gonna lie down and let anyone oppress me, or speak for me in terrible ways, and do bad things in my name. I cannot be part of a society that accepts terrorist and tyrannical behaviour. The people at the top of the triangle that David Icke likes to talk about, they are terrorists, they terrorise us into thinking we can't be free, that we have to work sixty-five years of our lives, that we have to pay for food that comes from the ground and water that falls free from the sky. We have to operate within the system, go to school; raise our hands when we want to talk. It's like the system is set up to weed out the genius and to exclude them, to destroy them, to force them to become criminals or outcasts."

"Northern Exposure, we believe in God. Now God, or Allah or whatever you want to call him, one of the things he teaches is that we are all unique. My brain is not the same as my Mum, or my Dad, or my brother. I have free will to do what I want on this planet. But the way things are going right now, it's like we have taken the power away from God. We've decided we'll be God, we'll decide how people behave, and even God didn't do that to us! Even God gave us free will. If you look at the animals, they don't have free will. As soon as it hits dawn, the birds must get up to pray. The bird is awake: he's praying, singing. He's got no choice, it's enjoined on them on an instinctual level that they will get up and pray. Now human beings, we can stay in bed chillin', we can do what we want. Now you've got some people in society with serious power issues, serious self-infatuation issues, who think that they've got the biggest and best brain, and they think therefore they should decide how people should behave and what they should do. But the reality is, you cannot control people."

"If I wanted to bring a knife to this interview and stab you, I could do it. Police can't do nothing. They can come after, and react to the situation, and maybe try and catch me, but they can do nothing at the time. So we should put more precedent on being good to people."

Clearly your African heritage is important to you – do you feel like the UK is still a place where racism exists, and have you experienced it?

"Yes, absolutely. It's like people are trying to make me ashamed of who I am. Ashamed because I'm from the hood, I'm black, and I wanna do hip-hop. Trying to make me feel like I'm commercial, lower, not couture, not upper class, you get me? One thing I've learned, though - Britain is a class-caste system, it's not even about the colour of your skin. I've been in situations with cats where they'd rather have me at the table than one of their own, working-class people at the table! Because to them I'm African, I have a particular pedigree, I'm no mongrel. That's deep, when you think about it."

Do you think the trading of Africans as slaves still has an effect on people's mentalities today?

"It's like the Western world has decided to move on, but the people that were oppressed, they can't move on. Every day they walk down the street they're reminded of it. Like, when I walk past the back of Waverly and see the Fleshmarket… maybe the average Scottish person doesn't think: 'This is where my brothers and sisters were murdered.' But this is what I think. And it adds insult to injury when you realise that the government know that those slave owners have gone on to set up banks and large institutions in society. But the government can't apologise for slavery because then they have to take responsibility, and then they would have to pay compensation. But I think the rise of the BNP, I think the problem that they have with black people is envy, it is jealousy. It goes back a long time. They came to African and they looked at us and they were like, 'Rah! How can these people be so tall, so beautiful, so efficient.' But people don't know their history. Even Scotland, where people pride themselves on knowing their history, they don't know it. I'm even thinking about renouncing my own Scottish-ness, because people don't know that the Scots were among the first slaves, even before there were black slaves. When you go places like Jamaica, which were slave repositories – places where slaves were basically left to die – that's when you start seeing the similarities. You meet a Jamaican with ginger hair, and he's talking about his Mammie, you know, using all these Scottish words. That's why it's so important for us to communicate, and that's what Northern Exposure is trying to do, to open up history, to get people to talk to each other, so that we can see these similarities and realise that we are all actually fighting the same enemy."

"One thing I think about the world is, the lighter you are, the younger you are, in terms of the planet. The darker you are, the older your genetic code is. All the nations of the West, they're young nations. America, New Zealand, Australia – they're very new. Because of their newness, and because of how far away they are from where things began, they have a lot of insecurities and paranoia. They've got a lot of curiosity, but they don't show the older societies enough respect. So they have to basically start again from zero. They have to rediscover the sea, the sky, their bodies, how to eat, how to be with each other. That's why history is so important. Not that we should wallow in the past and quote it all the time, but we need to look at it to see what not to do again. I think the only reason me and my brother survived in Scotland – which has a real gangster history – is because we learned from a lot of other people's mistakes. In the West nowadays it's about doing things for yourself, seeing things for yourself. But that's a mistake. I'm not going to tell anyone I love to try cigarettes or alcohol because they're very dangerous, you know what I'm saying?"

To take it back to hip-hop once again, let's talk some more about the local scene. Do you think Scottish artists need to produce more records to get more attention?

"Some of my favourite artists, be they signed to a label or not, they've only released like, one or two albums. I think that's what a lot of new artist get confused about, especially in relatively new sites like Scotland, they think you need to have new stuff out every week. Nah man, you need to think carefully about why it is you want to do this music, what it is you want to achieve, and then go forward from that. They're doing music, but they don't know why. Either you want to do music, you want to do charity for people, or you do music, you want to teach people… but if you're going to choose hip-hop, you need to get on it. Because you're going to meet a lot of people, especially people of African descent, and if you want them to take you seriously, you've got to come right. I meet a lot of people and they don't want to listen to what I have to say, and I'm like – what are you doing hip-hop for? If you're serious about doing hip-hop, I'm one of the best people for you to meet."

"Hip-hop is a life thing. It's good. It's out there; it's in opposition to other ideologies. But it's important not to get lost in hip-hop, because at the end of the day it comes from suffering. It's important not to let that suffering grip you. Once you've touched it and felt it, use it as a vehicle to propel you, but don't get caught up in that sadness, in that pain, use it as a fuel to go forward. Use it to help you to come to knowledge. The people who are in the oligarchy don't want you to be knowledgeable. That's why they translated the bible – they didn't want people reading eloquently in Greek and Latin and Arabic, in these ancient, beautiful languages. They want you to be a layman that they have to explain things to."

INFO

Check www.myspace.com/nrnxpo for more info about Northern Exposure's upcoming shows and releases. Their production company also has a bit of information: www.enigpromo.nr. They have an EP due out in the next few months, self-releases, accompanied by a DVD of their tour with Skinnyman and the Mud Fam.

Also due for release in 2007 a film about Scotland's refugee society, called Trouble Sleeping, for which Sweet E was assistant director. The soundtrack will also feature new material from the band. An article about the film can be read here.

Wednesday

FILM-MAKER & ARTIST YOAV SEGAL: LIFE'S A MERITOCRACY



Yoav Segal is a film-maker and artist based in London. All images in this article are by Yoav (copyright 2007, all rights reserved). Here, he tells Weaponizer about his latest projects, and his outlook on the creative industries.
W/ These pieces represent the static visual side of your work but you also make films - tell us about your last project and how you got involved in Film and TV.

YS/ I studied Illustration at UWE in Bristol and found myself with edit software and a camera and started to shoot things. Anything. I made films in my fridge. I'm a firm beliver that all creative sequential imagery has a common theme, and once you appreciate what you like you can just get working. I love all things creative: writing, shooting film, music, animation, working with actors and painting. They come together in film. Film is an amazing medium, you can do just about anything.

One of my latest projects is The Battle of Cable Street, a follow up dramatic short (using live action, rotoscoping and frame by frame painted animation) to a doc I made about my grandfather. The latest film tells the story of how Mosley and his black-shirt fascists were stopped from marching through the East End of London in 1936. This film has had a great run in film festivals, especially in America and it won best HD film at DC shorts in Washington.

I'm currently working on a follow up film, interviewing volunteers who went to fight Franco in Spain in the Spanish Civil War. Their stories are mind blowing, the sacrifice and heart-ache of losing is gutting. It does not have a happy ending. Fascism is not stopped in Spain, in no small part due to a non-intervention policy from the British and French Governments even though Italy and Germany were sending troops and arms. World War 2 ominously rolls forward and Franco stays in power for 40 years.

I also am completing a film for a family therapy [organisation] that helps delinquent children who are repeatedly suspended. It's a docu-drama that will help the clinic educate [people] on how it works.

There other projects I'm developing, writing, dreaming about or simply sitting on till the world is ready.

W/ You work in a variety of different mediums, from pencil drawings to stencils and spray paint, from animation to live action. Do you find that all of these different skills are useful for each project you undertake? If not, how do you choose which method to use for each project? Are the germs of your ideas always visual?

YS/ I don't think you can hit every project with all you have to offer. The technique would swallow the narrative, and the more I work the more I find this is where you have to excel: in the best films you don't feel the camera work, in the best books you lose the sense that you are reading and when you listen to incredible music you simply experience rather than focus on how it is achieved.

I'm generally trying to use less self conscious visual techniques. How do I choose the method? An idea will come with a taste, that taste will give you all the clues you need. In my live action / animated short I had to go inside a boy's sketchbook with my actors - I had to animate, they had to be crayony to exist within it - I had to rotoscope them. Decisions force themselves upon you like everywhere in life.

W/ There are strong elements of psychedelia and fantasy in these images - what influences your work in terms of its subject matter and style?

YS/ I grew up reading 2000AD and I think that has left a serious impression. I adored fantasy books as a child and had a wildly over-active imagination - if I grew up nowadays they'd have put me on Ritalin.

W/ Us too. We love 2000AD here at Weaponizer.

YS/ I have also always loved psychedelic music (more King Crimson than Trance) and the culture that goes with it. I look for influences everywhere, but usually fall back on gut reaction. You can't help but pastiche whatever you create, but I find that if I keep pushing for my fifteenth idea eventually a freshness comes out and I can start recognizing my personality and experiences in the work. It's hard though, for me the real battle is finding the space.
W/ You've painted murals in clubs, illustrated covers for magazines and pamphlets, made films - are there still more areas in which you would like to use your skills?

YS/ Damn straight. I've always played a lot of music and feel there is a whole world there to tap that I have been skirting all my life. Last year I wrote and recorded some music for a TV show with Jonny Berliner and it felt great. Watch this space. Whatever will come it'll be raw, exciting and possibly have dubstep sub bass. I also feel that there's more to do with spray. The medium is brilliant.

W/ They say a picture is worth a thousand words - what do you think makes a piece of visual art effective, in terms of communicating a specific message?

YS/ It has to ring true. You can always tell if something has come from a real place. I'm also a firm believer that universality comes from extreme detail, and think that anything too general will always feel generic.

W/ Nowadays artists can give away their work for free with ease - via sites like YouTube and MySpace for instance. Do you think that this make it easier or tougher to transition from amateur to pro?

YS/ Both. You can get seen, have your work appreciated, spread a message and find an audience. I think though that it makes it harder to pay your rent. For example music videos have had a gigantic drop in budgets cause it is all online. Very few people can survive. It will even out though. To be cold and economic, industries need suppliers, and suppliers need to live. There can only be a certain amount of people who are good enough, so over time a normal economy within the creative industries will re-assert itself. Life's a meritocracy and those who are talented, are willing to slog and get some breaks will always survive.

Links:

Podcast interview with Yoav, recorded at Rhodes Island Film Festival USA

(The Battle of Cable Street went on to win best HD film at DC shorts and showed at Chicago, LA, Palm Springs, Sienna, Encounters in Bristol... etc.

SOS Children's Villages Doc

An event Yoav is spray painting at and showing his latest short:

http://www.muju.org.uk/

A film Yoav made about the MUJU group (a theatre troop of Jews and Muslims)

An online article about Yoav's most recent film.

Yoav recently arranged an event on the Darfur crisis and am currently developing plans to embarrass China:

http://actfordarfur.org.uk/

A music vid Yoav recently made for Laura Marling: a ridiculously talented 18 year singer songwriter.





The Battle Of Cable Street

INVISIBLES: THE MINDSCAPE OF ALAN MOORE

THE MINDSCAPE OF ALAN MOORE
(Part 1 of The Shamanautical Series)

Dir: DeZ Vylenz. 78 mins feature. 35mm colour, 2003. Dolby Digital Surround.



Special Recognition Award: Creative Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking, San Francisco World Film Festival.

Synopsis:

ALAN MOORE -writer, artist and performer- is the world's most critically acclaimed and widely admired creator of comic books and graphic novels.

In The Mindscape of Alan Moore we see a portrait of the artist as contemporary shaman, someone with the power to transform consciousness by means of manipulating language, symbols and images.

The film leads the audience through Moore's world with the writer himself as guide, beginning with his childhood background, following the evolution of his career as he transformed the comics medium, through to his immersion in a magical worldview where science, spirituality and society are part of the same universe.

The Mindscape of Alan Moore is an audiovisual document of utmost
relevance in the wake of current global developments.

Original Music by Drew Richards. Additional Music by Bill Laswell & Alan Douglas, Lustmord, Spectre

Screening history:

Film festivals and cinemas across the globe from 2003-2006, including Comica at the ICA Cinema London, Copenhagen International Film Festival, Belfast International Film Festival, San Diego Comic-con Film Fest, Comicdom Con Athens, Caption Oxford.









Order a copy of this awesome DVD.

Invisibles

INVISIBLES: CROWLEY'S THE BOOK OF THE LAW

Yep, the old charmer himself - well, not him talking but you know what we mean.



Invisibles

INVISIBLES: WARREN ELLIS AT COMIC CON 2007

Warren Ellis at Comic Con 2007







Now go and check out Warren's latest work, the awesome webcomic Freakangels.

Invisibles

INVISIBLES: KABBALISTS IN MOTION


Welcome to our new columnists, The Invisibles. As every comics fan should know, the original Invisibles are a team of counter-cultural occult soldiers, like if Crowley had formed the A-Team and Austin Osman Spare was Howlin' Mad Murdoch. They were created in a memetic experiment by Grant Morrison in 1994, and starred in a lengthy comic book epic by GM and published by Vertigo. They soon became real people, and started posting crazy YouTube videos all over MySpace.

We've decided to give the Invisible Army a new home here on Weaponizer. Please note that for copyright reasons, these Invisibles are not in any way intended to resemble, relate to or refer to the writings of Grant Morrison. No sir. These Invisibles are simply the ghosts of the net, posting and re-posting for your amaze.


Tell you what, those kabbalists don't 'alf get around. And those occultits come to think of it.

"Here are we, one magical movement from Kether to Malkuth / There are you, you drive like a demon from station to station" - Bowie

"Bending sound, dredging the ocean, lost in my circle / Here am I, flashing no colour" - Bowie

Tuesday

IS FACEBOOK A C.I.A. DATA MINING TOOL?





Everyone who uses Facebook should be aware of this information about the origins of the social networking phenomenon, particularly artists who post their work - you may be granting Facebook creative control of anything you post there. Be aware, get informed.

Monday

REJECTION LETTERS - EPIC FAIL







*Sad Kitty is upset because his poem 'Meow: It's All So Awful' was rejected by Weaponizer

One of the things you have to get used to as a writer is rejection letters. You've all heard this before, of course - writers must develop a thick skin, and in a strange inversion, are supposed to be able to accept criticism as positive feedback. Initially, it really doesn't feel like positive at all. More like being kicked in the balls. Take this excerpt from a rejection I recently received for a poem:

"The use of end rhyme makes the poem feel less serious than its subject matter and I lost interest about halfway through because of the pedantic tone."

On receiving this, your first instinct might be to rile at the use of perjorative words like 'pedantic'. It could seem hard to use this constructively, but it CAN be done.
Your task as a writer is to find a way to square this comment with the intent of your work. If you are absolutely dead set on selling the piece, you must adapt it to fit, not just the good advice given (the comment on end rhymes is a good example - a constructive suggestion for making changes), but also to fit the expectations of the editor in question.
They are looking for a certain something - in this case a 'serious' poem that doesn't rhyme. So give it to them! If you can give them what they want without ruining your work, then why the hell not? Especially if you are trying to get paid. Remember that your out-of-joint nose is just a brief flame of outrage and why-me-why-me feelings. Eventually, your writer's instinct will kick in (that's the voice inside your head that tells you you're the next JG Ballard - be wary of this voice), and you'll want to write more and do better. If you can skip the self-pity and outrage, and actually morph into the kind of hack this particular editor is looking for, the dollars follow.

When I was trying to get my first novel published (still an ongoing process LOL), I found it very difficult to take criticism from the reader my agent assigned to me. His criticisms of my year's worth of work were far-reaching and harsh. Essentially he said the novel was unpublishable: the characters sucked, the plot was contrived and the ending rubbish.

It took me a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth before I realised that the reader was 100% right. The book wouldn't fly, not in any way. Crucially, he said it was under-developed... and yet, all the elements that were torn apart by the reader could be made better, could be fixed. Once I got over myself, I saw that the harsh criticisms were in fact guidelines for re-imagining and further developing ideas in the novel. I realised that the criticism was an opportunity to improve.
This is what feedback is - negative or positive - an opportunity to develop. All feedback, even harshly critical feedback, is useful. More than that, it is essential. Writers with no effective editors or critics write long, sprawling pieces of shit that only idiots can enjoy (hello, JK Rowling).

From consideration of the reader's comments, I also came to the realisation that the type of novel my agent wanted me to write was perhaps quite different from the one I intended to write, and as a result I have not yet submitted another draft to that particular agent. This is the trick with criticism - being able to take from it the necessary adjustments you need to make to the work to get it accepted, but also to be able to tell if you have submitted to the wrong agent / publisher / website.
Of course the main thing is to keep writing. If someone tells you your best work is a piece of shit, that should spur you on to produce better works, without making you abandon wholesale the ideas you spent so long developing. Never throw anything away, or write anything off - the more criticism you get of a particular piece, the more opportunities you have to change it, and maybe improve it.
Who knows, maybe one day both you and I will write something that doesn't suck!

Next week - why getting kicked in the fucking balls actually makes you stronger.

Thursday

CRANK CALL






FREAKANGELS: COUNTDOWN



Warren Ellis' new webcomic venture FREAKANGELS is arriving tomorrow. Be excited, be very excited.

Tuesday

JESUS CHRIST'S INTERNET DIGEST: NO. 6 IN A SERIES

"Jesus, take the wheel, take it from my hands," goes the old country song, "Because I can’t take it any more." Country's fucking shit for the most part though, so don't let that bother you. Instead, let our very own Jesus ‘Helpmexenu’ Christ, messiah of the interwub, guide you through some of the stranger corners of the experience we laughably call ‘civilization.’ Take it away JC!

Hello true believers – this week I have been frantically packing bags and making calls to get ready for me imminent transfer to a larger and more well-heeled IT firm. That’s right – Jesus got headhunted, and very soon I’ll be sending these dispatches from the fifth circle of Dante’s Hell, or as it’s better known, America. So expect weirdness, weight gain and web conspiracies to the max!

It’s been a crazy few weeks – even if we leave alone the furore that span out of the whole Tom Cruise video situation, you can still tell that something Apocalyptic is brewing in world culture. Terrorism, the economic decline of the Western superpowers, and the news that American Idol is to get its own themepark have convinced me that the end is on its way. How exactly does being emotionally raped by a virtual Simon Cowell compare with a rollercoaster, I ask you?
But even those who would hasten the world’s end have to consider customer service – hence Bin Laden has launched a new, web-friendly FAQ section of his terrorist organisation, a kind of Ask Al-Qaeda. Even though it’s a risk logging on to the site – you could get doorstepped by the secret police – it’s worth paying them a vist. There are so many questions I want to ask, such as: Why don’t Americans remember the plot of Rambo 3? Where do you buy those cool white djellabas? Who does your beard? Are you going to collaborate with Amy Winehouse on her next atrocity? Have you been invited to dinner at Posh and Becks’ place yet?

Over in Yanksville, the pace of progress quickens and then almost immediately slows again, following the roll-out of LA’s new weed vending machines. I will handsomely reward anyone who can tell me how to hack these babies.

Does anyone remember the Anthrax attacks from a few years ago? Supposedly that was Al-Qaeda as well. Except it wasn’t – unless the American intelligence agencies have someone working for them called Alan Qaeda. Check out this clip on YouTube, which shows the US government admitting that the attacks were an inside job.





Ever wondered why the Japanese love killing whales with massive spears? Well, the answer is that it is basically a bloody good laugh. Try it out for yourself, with this new Cetacean Research Simulator. Don’t shoot the Greenpeace boats!

YouTube is of course a place of unparalleled sin and transgression. Thank Heaven then, that there is a Christian approved site where you can go and view videos that are all about being a happy-clappy Christian zealot. Where is this Heaven-On-The-Net, I hear you cry? Why, GodTube of course. I dare you to join, log in and start posting abusive porno montages of Mike Huckabee fellating goats. Well done to the makers of this site for their magnificent effort in bringing together God, and some of the tubes that believe in him.

A couple of stories from the good old UK government press propaganda organ now, otherwise known as the BBC. First up, news that the recently invented teenager-repelling high-pitched devices called Mosquitos are being targeted as an abuse of human rights. Perhaps this is true, and we shouldn’t indiscriminately target young people with low-impact sonic weaponry. Or perhaps we should just level the playing field, and install some sort of repulsor field in nightclubs and style bars that keeps out fat, ugly, old people.

And finally – if you, like me, are a fan of attempting to destroy the entertainment industry by illegally downloading the latest movies, TV shows and albums, then the news is – DO IT FAST. Soon the UK government propose bringing in a ‘broadband ban’ for those who illegally fileshare, meaning that if you are a filesharer you will have your whole net access taken away. So basically, if you want that full Lost collection without a) forking out half a ton for each season on DVD or b) watching approximately nine million years of advertising content on cable TV, you better move your virtual ass.

That’s it from me folks – keep those whistles clean, and remember to hoist the flag backwards.

- JC
Jesus Christ's Internet Digest is not brought to you by Weaponizer in association with Uncyclopedia, but it fucking should be.

60 MINUTES: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE CULT AWARENESS NETWORK




Sunday

EDINBURGH: PROJECT CHANOLOGY RAID, 11TH FEBRUARY




10th February 2008, on South Bridge in Edinburgh, at 11am – a crowd is gathering. A motley crew of dissidents in black fatigues, their faces covered by scarves and masks, stand in front of Poundstretcher, opposite the Hubbard Academy of Personal Independence, the home of Scientology in Scotland’s capital.

“Forbidden Planet have sold out of V for Vendetta masks,” laughs one of the demonstrators, identifying himself as ‘X’. “Today’s going to be pure win.”

The demonstrators were there to protest against the self-proclaimed‘church’ of Scientology, the celebrity pseudo-religion popularised by the likes of Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The date 11th of February was significant – it marked the anniversary of the death of former Scientologist Lisa MacPherson (Google her name), who died while being kept against her will by the cult. As the 150 or so protestors lined up facing the Scientology centre, placards and leaflets in hand, a chant of Happy Birthday To Lisa rang up and down the street. Worried faces appeared at the windows of the Centre, as Scientologists looked down on the gathered crowd.

The protests were organised via the internet, by a group calling themselves Anonymous. Anonymous formed on the imageboards of the internet – a disparate collection of hackers, programmers and net-heads who decided to take on the Scientologists, declaring open war in January of 2008 via a YouTube video. Within Anonymous, the war (nicknamed Project Chanology) has caused much controversy. Many long-term users (‘oldfags’) resent the publicity that Chanology has brought the secretive Channers, and the influx of what they see as wannabe hackers (‘newfags’). Nonetheless, the demonstration carried on in an atmosphere of fraternal good nature, with Channers in masks walking the lines, offering sweets and crisps to each other, and cheering all the cars who honked to show their support for the demo.

One of the fascinating aspects of the protest was the use of internet ‘memes’ in a meat world scenario. One common way of ‘flaming’ or abusing a fellow member is to post a hacked YouTube link, with the soundtrack of Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ on an imageboard or forum. If the target of the flame clicks on the link, the video screws up their browser. The song is a stealth weapon of sorts, or a digital cry of victory. Hence, the Channers played the song over and over again, to show their contempt for the Scientologists.

Another meme used by the protestors was the theme tune for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Reputedly a recent convert to Scientology, Will Smith has become a figure of fun for Chanology followers, and the well-known rap from his early sitcom hit has now become another point of mockery in the campaign against Scientolgy. A rousing singalong of the theme brought many Scientologists to the windows, to see what was going on.

A few of my friends, when they heard I was going along to cover the protest, voiced objections. Firstly, a few people believed that the Scientologists have a right to believe whatever they want – live and let live. For myself, and for many of the Channers I spoke to, this is not an issue. They are not protesting against the beliefs of Scientologists (however colourful and absurd these beliefs may be), rather against the corruption and suppressive nature of the corporate entity that organisation. In fact, the Channers have sympathy for Scientologists, who they feel are victims of a con which is expensive, mentally scarring and in many cases deadly.

Secondly, some of my friends objected to the protest on the grounds that public protest draws attention to the religion, giving them a fresh platform from which to recruit. In a way, I agree with this. Scientology itself has claimed that the leaked Tom Cruise video which kicked off the war with Anonymous has actually increased their number of applicants, rather than having a negative effect. However the online arm of Project Chanology, the hard core of skilled hackers who are at the front line of the battle, have already gone some way towards compensating for the added good publicity they have given the cult. Nearly all of the secret documents that the notoriously litigious organisation have tried to suppress over the years have been uploaded back into the public domain – meaning that it is easier than ever before for the public to get information about Scientology. Furthermore, they have committed to bringing about the end of Scientology through non-violent means – by educating the public, and by confronting the Scientologists anonymously, to negate their ability to (as the Scientologists put it) ‘confront and shatter suppression’ - a part of their notorious Fair Game policy, which is used to besmirch the reputations and ruin the lives of the cult’s opponents.

The nature of the protest on the 11th was, I believe, unique, as opposed to say, the G8 protests or the Make Poverty History marches. Yes, the Channers were smaller in number (although more than 1400 showed up to the London demo). However, none of the protestors I spoke to were there out of some sense of moral duty, or to assuage their consciences. They were there for two reasons. To stand up to a bully, in the name of freedom of information. And to have a laugh.

Doing it ‘for the lullz’ (a reference to internet abbreviation LOL) is something the oldfags of 4Chan feel strongly about. Many of the objections to Project Chanology stem from the fact that Anonymous was supposed to be amoral in nature – the oldfags see Project Chanology as too much of a step in the direction of ‘doing the right thing.’

I hope that, seeing the laughter and camaraderie that accompanied the demos worldwide, the oldfags will come to see that although the ideology of Project Chanology is well defined and committed to action, those who participate are definitely still doing it for the fun of being able to mess with people. As one protestors sign stated, ‘Scientology Stole Mah Bucket – Lullz’. This, and the rousing choruses of the Fresh Prince meme, reassured me that this was no stern-faced, sanctimonious, and ultimately ineffective protest. Rather, it was the first and only post-moral protest I have ever witnessed – people standing together to fight on behalf of the truth, against those who would seek to distort it, basically just for the hell of it.

The agenda of the G8 and MPH protestors always struck me as woefully unrealistic, and completely without a sense of irony. In my experience some of the people who claimed to be the biggest agitators and makers of that elusive ‘difference’ were in fact merely hypocrites. At the G8 protests in Edinburgh, I witnessed a dreadlocked protestor skip a fence in front of a police line, only to ask me for directions to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The protestors at the Scientology Raid were a different breed. Those who seemed to be oldfags were well organised, delivering leaflets, and even preparing short speeches for the press. The bulk of the protestors were newfags – hordes of young Goth / Emo kids with V masks. But they weren’t there just for the lullz, nor just for the spectacle – these kids had taken the trouble to get informed, and were just as conversant in the truth about Scientology as the older protestors. If these are the new recruits to Project Chanology, then the oldfags should be the glad of them – you couldn’t ask for a smarter, better-informed bunch.

So, did the raid make a difference? The Scientologists sent out cameramen to record our masked faces, but something tells me they won’t have much luck finding out the identities of the massed Vs and Xs. In London, it was reported that Tom Cruise, visiting town for premieres, actually came out of the Scientology Centre to harass the protestors. According to the website Unconfirmed Sources, Cruise referred to the actions of protestors as ‘religious persecution’, and made veiled threats against protestors in the US: “If this continues in America later today, people should know that the Church of Scientology is an official member of Infragard. The Sea Org is now fully armed, and as a member of Infragard, they are authorized to protect various aspects of our contributions to the nation's infrastructure using deadly force. We're authorized by the FBI to do this, and we will shoot on sight.”

If true, this report demonstrates exactly the kind of flippant regard for freedom of speech and protest the Scientologists have. Completely unable to respond to criticism rationally, the aggressive, confrontational nature of the cult’s responses to criticism from the media and public demonstrate what a virulent and nasty enterprise the ‘church’ is.

Reading Cruise’s alleged comments, you can’t help but wonder how arrogant a man can be, to presume to menace peaceful British protestors with the threat of shooting their comrades. On the evidence of this, and the notorious video which sparked the war, Cruise is an unpleasant little dictator in waiting, who clearly thinks he is above human concerns and laws; effectively invincible. Yet Cruise, too, deserves our pity – here is a man who has been brainwashed to the point of mania; whose every waking moment is likely influenced in some way by the malign doctrines of the self-proclaimed Church.

So let’s have a big hand to the oldfags and the newfags, the rank and file of Project Chanology. They struck a blow for us that day – one that will hopefully make the British public think twice about granting the Scientologist’s the status of ‘religion’ in the UK. One that will make us stop and think before going to see the latest Tom Cruise, John Travolta or Will Smith movie. One that will perhaps one day be seen as one of the opening shots in a war which saw truth, justice and lullz win out over lies, disinformation and mind-control. Big up the Channers – they care about you, and they still don’t give a fuck.

Get informed –

http://www.xenu.net/
http://www.scientology-victims-testimonies.com/
http://www.lisamcpherson.org/
www.encyclopediadramatica.com/Project_Chanology

Other media coverage:
BBC Online
The Scotsman
Pictures on Whitechapel
LA Times
Spiked
The Sun
E-Flux Media
News.com (Australia)

Here's some (pretty crap) video we took at the protest.



We also saw this guy - a possible Scientologist infiltrator. Just look at his shoes and suspect dancing to the hits of Rick Astley...

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