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October 2008 Archives

The Brand & Ross perspective

By Paul Flower on Oct 30, 08 01:39 PM

I'm rapidly reaching the conclusion that one of the most important attributes to possess is a sense of perspective. I wasn't going to comment on the Ross/Brand/Sachs affair but since it's still running out of control like a herd of bulls being stung by wasps in a china storage warehouse, I feel the need to call for calm. Storm, meet teacup.

As I sit here writing there have been 30,000 complaints to the BBC about a broadcast aired almost three weeks ago. That's 30,000 people with nothing better to do, but get on their high-horse and comment on something they didn't actually hear, something they've only read about. Something they have no need or cause to be offended by.

So, a presenter used a swear word. Get over it; it was after 10pm at night. So they might have offended an old man who used to be on TV. They apologised and he's forgiven them, get a grip. They may also have offended a 23 year old woman. I suspect that since she's in a burlesque group called 'The Satanic Sluts', she is not offended easily. She may only have been aggrieved that she wasn't in the Country early enough to take advantage of the resulting publicity. Yep, that's cynical but she has employed Max Clifford and it is 2008. I wonder if Sachs was more embarrassed/outraged by Ross & Brand than he is by his own granddaughter spilling all the gory detail in The Sun.

I've worked in radio for over 20 years and during that entire period I don't think the stations I've worked for would've collectively received 30,000 complaints. In the eight years I spent broadcasting for the BBC (WM), I doubt that I had a cumulative of 30,000 listeners. Thirty thousand is a lot of people, a lot of complaints - but what exactly are they moaning about?

I've become nervous about using the word 'ironic'. I blame Ed Byrne. Since he famously trashed the Alanis Morrisette song of the same name it has put the fear in me. What if I get it wrong?

In case you may be in the minority of people who've never seen it, then please join me in this celebration: "It's called ironic but it's written and sung by a woman who doesn't understand irony"

Anyway, to take the risk, it was the Coventry Half-Marathon last weekend. I've run it for the previous two years and last year was my best ever time over that distance. Even weirder, considering it's 13 miles of slog, I really enjoyed it. Sadly I'm now banned from running - on a surgeon's advice, and that tends to be the kind of advice I take. It seems that I've destroyed part of the cartilage in my left knee and now if I run I'm just banging bone against bone which isn't advisable, apparently.

When I did run I wore Asics trainers, not particularly easy to find in my size, 14. A few wks ago Asics opened their first European store, it happens to be on a street down which I walk whenever I have to work in London - which is frequently. Is that ironic?

It's a free world (baby)

By Paul Flower on Oct 15, 08 12:47 PM

I love the internet. I also hate it. I have no idea how we managed without it. It's a bloody time vacuum though, isn't it? The time you're spending reading this could probably be spent more productively, as could the time I'm spending typing it. This is me thinking direct to print, if it was a podcast I'd be thinking aloud, both of which are equally dangerous for all concerned.

The net seems to put so much at our fingertips - with every keystroke I feel like I'm either on the edge of some great revelation or equally likely to fall off the precipice into a porn explosion. Accidentally of course, the purveyors of porn have cornered the market in search engine optimisation, google anything and you'll get a porn option at some point or other. Or maybe that's just the things I search for.......

Sadly we don't seem to be too willing to pay for what we get online. We use it to find stuff cheaper or, preferably, free. You aren't paying to read this and I'm not getting paid to write it - is this the future of journalism, the uneducated spouting off for the pleasure of the illiterate? I mean no offence but if I wasn't a fame-junkie who needs the ego-boost of having his name in 'print' then neither of us would be here now. You wouldn't be having your time wasted by me - it'd probably be someone else instead.

The music industry was first to feel the impact of global data transfer and a recent report stated that '95% of downloaded music is illegal' (source; IFPI Digital Music Report 2008). The upshot of this is that a whole generation is emerging, a generation who believe that everything is meant to be free - from information to music. The long-term impact of this is a world of entertainment with no obvious means of funding itself. Do we not all believe in a fair wage for a service provided?

Give 'em enough rope......

By Paul Flower on Oct 8, 08 02:38 PM

"Don't have any heroes, they're all useless."
John Lydon, 1976

What becomes of the broken artist? When all your credibility is cast into the wind where do you go? On a nostalgia trip obviously - but when the catalogue cash cow is milked dry and the horse well and truly flogged then perhaps you can rent your former notoriety to commercial enterprise. Thus we see the one-time enemy of the establishment, John Lydon, selling butter, it clearly wouldn't melt.

It probably seems archaic that we once expected more of our rock stars. Young people today might be surprised that we once held them up to be figureheads, role-models and icons. What an incredibly stupid thing to have done.

I guess The Pistols were a flash-in-the-pan, over before they began, but for a while they were an incandescent ball of fury - a H bomb at the heart of the entertainment industry. I was too young to be a punk, still at school with an adolescent love of heavy metal, but I could appreciate the spirit and enjoy the energy of it all. It clearly had an impact and led to some great music, opening the door for artists and labels in a frenzy of creativity.

Long after it all fell flat, in death and dishonour; we should perhaps admire John Lydon's tenacity - his brazen-faced attitude and the delight he seems to have in being an irritant. Where once he wound up the powers that be, now he annoys those who believed in him, having becoming a cartoon caricature of his reputation. At the very least he is occasionally entertaining, some never reach those heights.


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Paul Flower

Paul Flower - Paul Flower works in the music industry, a promoter, critic, (self)-publicist and all-round consultant to clients.

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