Public Service Announcement – A ba boop a boop boo boop

That song on the video, it keeps playing when you are watching streaming media on the web in the UK, before and after and between, you’re dying to know what it it is, aren’t you? It’s jazzy, scatty, dancable and ohmygod catchy. You’re walking down the street and all you can hear in your head is ‘ababoop boo boo boo’. What the hell is that music?

You’ve even gone to the website, and visited the Late Rooms Press Releases area, but that too is extremely unhelpful. Don’t artists have to be attributed? Isn’t that the deal?

What the hell is that song? What’s he saying? Baboo? Ba Boo boo? You do a web search. Bah boo. Abahboo? You can find anything on Google. Baboop.

You’ve always been pretty good at finding things. You keep getting results for Betty Boop. Wow. That’s a weird cartoon. Was everyone on drugs?

Did they really show this to kids? So many questions.

There’s loads of sites that are supposed to list musicians and writers for the soundtrack of adverts, and when you look up ‘Dizzy with Choice’ – you’ve at least found what the ad men are calling it – and little comes up. Some helpful person might have mentioned that the song was Bring Your Daughter To the Slaughter by Iron Maiden, which was quite funny actually. But surely someone has the actual information and put it somewhere accessible? What is going ON?

Every time a Levi Jeans commercial came on the TV, suddenly the associated single was played everywhere and immediately available to purchase. Legions of artists had their careers boosted or revived beyond all reason because their song was accompanying the suggested unbuttoning of flies. Hey Babylon Zoo anyone? *snigger*. Hows about Smoke City? Actually that song was quite good (Underwater Love). And I’ve actually got Mr Oiso’s album on the strength of a head-banging puppet, Flat Eric.

So if the song has been driving you mad, you’ve been searching for long nonsensical scat phrases, and nothing has come up so far, this is for you.

  • Baboop
  • Ababoo
  • Abap-boo Pudup Boo-Poo
  • Boobooboo
  • Jazz it up
  • Dizzy With Choice

Ready? Yeah because I have been dragging this out a bit, it’s my blog, I can do what I like. Ha.

Artist: The Real Tuesday Weld. Album: ‘The London Book of the Dead’. Song: ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’.

It was used in an awesome animation called ‘Last Time in Clerkenwell’ by Alex Budovsky. If the song from hell is not in your head yet, it will be after you watch this.


Unofficial art spaces, unsanctioned community centres

bingo_hall_cambridge_183There are many buildings here in Cambridge and elsewhere that were purchased for development but are standing empty and unused since the economic downturn. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to them.

A group of local young anarchists are set on turning these fallow buildings into resources for the community. They squatted the proposed site of the Tescos on Mill Road, tapping into the anti-Tescos sentiment in the area and grassroots political action. For four days this week, a number of people squatted the old Bingo Hall on Hobson Street, with their first poetry slam/spoken word event planned last night. Unfortunately, they were forcefully removed from the premises the night before by at least 50 police and tactical units in riot gear. Talk about overkill. From the Cambridge Freespaces blog:

The fire officer who accompanied the police said that the occupiers would have to immediately remove the metal grills covering fire doors to make the building safe. This was planned for the following morning, and the occupiers and fire warden agreed that this could happen immediately, however the police accompanying the fire officer made it clear that this would immediately lead to arrests for criminal damage.

It was obvious from the huge number of police in attendance that the outcome was already set, and that the only result the police would tolerate was eviction. Given the recent reputation of police actions against political protesters, the occupiers left for the own safety rather than keep the doors secured.

The building is a glorious Art Deco affair, built as a cinema. The original building on the site was Cambridge Motor Service Co. which converted to a cinema in 1921. In 1929, the first sound synchronized film was shown, The Broadway Melody. This was the first of a hugely popular series of movies made by Metro Goldwnn Meyer, that broke new ground by not only being the first all-talkie feature-length musical film, it also featured a technicolor sequence.

Also in 1929, the theatre may have burnt down, the current building was built the following year,  in 1930. After many decades of shifting cinema technology, ownership, and the occasional fire, the cinema closed down to become a Bingo Hall in 1972, and remained as such until a few weeks ago.

Step forward to Tuesday, 14th July last week, where I and a friend explored the many floors and passages and rooms, went on the roof. It had been occupied for a day or so, and all the people I met were smiley, excited, and full of plans and hope for the space. They were talking to various fine artists, musicians and cinema aficionados, all were eager to work in the space. Given that it’s the 80th anniversary of the showing of The Broadway Melody this year, and as homage to to original use of the site as a cinema, the film would be shown one evening soon.

All talked about community dictating the use of empty buildings in the area. Instead of neighbourhoods becoming riddled with swiss cheese holes of unused sites and spaces, we would fill them with art and activities. Provide shelter for people that needed shelter. Have shared meals, get to know our neighbours, work together to make the world better, one district at a time. It could happen.

At the meeting outside of the building last night – which was orderly, passionate, respectful – while the private security guards were inside behind the security screens and grates, there were talks of next steps.  There were charges against the original occupiers of the building – they were named on documents taped by the door. Though squatting is a civil matter, it becomes criminal if there is any damage to the property, and very serious indeed if trespassing takes place while the building is occupied by people working on behalf of the landlord. So the building is a no-go. That big, beautiful, central, part-of-Cambridge-history building will have to stand fallow until it gets knocked down. The building is ‘of historical interest’ but not protected.  We will just have to transfer our plans to another venue.

I took a bunch of pictures on my phone, I regret the quality is not good.


Self-focus self-conscious

I’ve always had a thing about taking photos of people. I feel self-conscious – people always behave oddly when there is a camera around.

I am so used to wandering around on my own, snapping textures, close-ups of things, buildings at odd angles. When I am with a friend in a  place of note, I’ve often forget the protocol – you take a picture of your friend in or next to that place of note. You do not blithely snap away with them rubber limbed standing next to you.

People like pictures of themselves. They might not, at the time, say so. Especially if they are English. English people tend to get a little shy around the camera, giggle and shift about, look away, and stiffly grin. But in ten years time, they will surely appreciate that picture. How young, how sexy, how beautiful they were.

When you take a picture of a friend, you are engaged with a dialogue with them through the lens. They know you are taking a photo – that’s often part of the deal – and more often then not they are staring directly at the camera. And saying cheese.

When you take a picture of strangers, there is no dialogue. You actually don’t want them to know that you are taking a photo of them at all. Ideally, you want them to  continue just being, to carry on with what they are doing. You are a fly on the wall. They are the place, the picturesque location.

So you want the camera to be as unobtrusive as possible. That is, unless your name is Bruce Gilden – his pictures are violent, dangerous, intimate, shocking, forcefully taken – you take pictures like a psychopath, without pity or empathy or shame. Oh by the way, he is one of my favorite photographers. I love his work, his pictures are powerful.

What do you do when you want to observe people? You have more ethics than Bruce Gilden. Its not polite to stare – people don’t like it.

As a member of the public, you often just take glimpses of the people around you, short fleeting looks. Even if you are on the public boat to Guidecca, and there is a goth lady with painted on eyebrows buttoned up in black with spider-web legs in 85 degree heat, eating an apple with fierce concentration, and you really want to take her in, visually. No! short, fleeting looks. Your eyes may settle on her briefly, almost in spite of your efforts, while your gaze wonders up to check on the next stop. Was it casual enough? Did she notice?

My new technique is to get the camera to stare for me. I set up the shot in a casual way, looking down, at an angle, then look elsewhere and take the picture. It’s a little bit of a splatter-gun approach to photography. You get a lot of rubbish, you need to edit furiously afterwards. Rarely are the pictures in focus or framed right if you are working quickly. But you get interesting results, for the 1 in 24 that comes out ok. Dammit, if I only had a decent resolution and it was in focus.

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Odd things that I’ve noticed about Venice

decay is quite pretty
black-face is still offensive
home security can be decorative
  1. The keyholes are often SIDEWAYS
  2. Cruise ships are TALLER than the buildings
  3. Decay is quite pretty (elegantly slummy)
  4. Black-face‘ is offensive even when black men are doing it.
  5. European empires have always plundered the Islamic world culturally, artistically, materially.
  6. So much water – where are the ducks?
  7. Opera makes no sense if you don’t know the story. Or the language they are singing in. Or the language of the subtitles.
  8. Paint a turd crackly gold, tie a ribbon round it, and a tourist might buy it.
  9. Pasta with tomato sauce is not an adequate veggie option.
  10. White bread is very very white. And very very tasteless.
  11. You can get lost even though you have a map and you are looking at it.
  12. This is not a night-time party town.
  13. A thunderstorm is a weather state, not an event.
  14. Home security can be decorative.
  15. Not a great place if you get sea-sick or you dislike strong smells. Or you are vegan.
  16. A great place to get ugly oversized knock-off designer handbags after midnight any day of the week.

Bridge of OH F*CK its full of ads

Just. Amazing. Appalling. If I ever bought Sisley shit I would boycot Sisley shit.


Dyson vacuum cleaners are stupid

Move along, kids, if you aren’t in the mood for a rant. This is a rant.

Dyson vacuum cleaners are just badly designed. There, I said it. I’ve bad-mouthed one of the iconic British inventions of the 1990s.

Nothing is in the right place, apart from the plug which quite correctly is at the end of the power cord. Well done!

People, this is not a design classic. Though it might suck, it only sucks until it gets clogged, Which is shortly after you start.

A Dyson upright looks great when its the shop – pristine, cartoony sci-fi. You use it even once it immediately looks like a piece of dusty crap.
Here are the things that are crappiest about it

  • When you move a Dyson upright vaccuum cleaner, like removing it from the cupboard, chances are bits will fall off – the attachments that are attached like exotic hanging fruits.
  • Looks filthy in real world
  • Gets clogged easily
  • Difficult to clean- ironically, seeing as how easily it falls apart, the bits that you have to get to are inaccessible
  • Emptying it causes a big mess
  • You put it in upright position and it immediately stops sucking out of the end you are cleaning with
  • You have to unwrap the power cord in its entirety if you want to use the hand-held bit
  • The attachments are oddly shaped, and have holes in odd places so you can’t quite get the suck that you need
  • The handle on the handle gets in the way
  • Overcomplicated
  • Expensive
  • Was sold as a British product, something that provided good jobs in Wiltshire, then over the course of the last 6 years manufacturing was  moved almost entirely overseas. ‘Putting resources more effectively in more appropriate areas’, was what was said last year with the making of more redundancies. Hey James Dyson, you ain’t rich enough??

Apparently I am not alone in my dislike of Dysons – There’s a rather desperate review of the Dyson Animal at Ciao.


Networking in Cambridge

Cambridge If you are self-employed, it’s a struggle to move to a new town (or to an old one) and quickly establish a social and professional network . I’d recommend scouring the web for networking groups and ‘fling yourself in’. Here are some of the lists and gatherings I’ve joined or have been recommended to expedite the process of settling and establishing myself in Cambridge:

  • Cambridge Network
  • Aims to connect people from business and the university in technology fields. A information hub for people in the Cambridge region. The site’s been around for 10 years, and not had a whole lot of usability/QA love. The job search has been broken for at least the last 3 months, probably longer.
  • Cambridge Usability Group
    Usability and information architecture.  The site is not kept up to date, might be taking a break for the summer.
  • CamCreative
    Designers, artists, illustrators, filmmakers, musicians. Monthly meeting, many subjects, well attended.
  • Cambridge Geek Night
    Some talks under 15 mins each, diverse topics of a techie flavour,  in a room above the Maypole pub. I have to work hard not to call it “Cambridge Gee Knight”. Really fun, lively group, with drinking.
  • CamMedia
    Digital creative types in Cambridge. Not been to a meeting yet, but heard there are talks. Well thought of, met Fran the other week who was awesome.
  • Open Coffee
    Entrepreneurs and start-up people. Informal meetup in a coffee shop every Wednesday or Wednesday at 10am. Different every time.
  • Refresh Cambridge
    Web professionals. Lively email list and twitter – range of tech help requests and advice, events, jobs, some cross-posts from other lists. Monthly talks/meeting at Anglia Ruskin, and drink in the pub. I went to this last night, it was great!
  • Twig
    Social networking business people. Meets every Monday – haven’t attended yet.
Non-professional networking and events

That’s what I have so far. Please add a comment if you can recommend others.’r