Category Archives: Hobbies & Interests
All the stuff that (in my opinion) keeps me sane!
Previous visitors here will know, I often find a modicum of my life inspiration from music, amongst other things. You see to my mind, good music is (and should always be) about so much more than just computer generated head-banging mixes of trance inducing hypnotic repetition…
I’ve often thought, especially when observing the (younger) ardent followers of particular music genre; on many occasions, you are often replicas of the music you listen to. Think ‘angry’ punks, ‘chilled’ reggae lovers and the all loved-up hippies of the flower-power generation. With many of those musical drivers, there has also been a considerable amount of chemical influence involved over the years.
Looking at the prominent musical interests and fads of the youth of today; I’m concerned how so much of it seems to revolve around excessive repetitive noise, constant profanity, the promotion of criminal activity and inherent anger. Why so this aggressive behaviour? Simple escapism and an element of immaturity perhaps.
Today’s prominent youth music (often) does little more than promote the use and abuse of drugs and/or alcohol but even more worryingly; it also often contains suggestions that women are the playthings of men, there to be used and abused for personal gratification. If you add the almost total disrespect for any form of authority, a disregard for any human life (all be it virtual) mostly derived from a constant diet of computer generated reality, and you have a recipe for cooking up of even more social problems for the future.
Some may say they don’t actually listen to the lyrics of much of this so-called music however; whether they do or don’t, often that subliminal message is still all to prevalent.
All that said, it is also possible to be ‘high’ on ‘real’ life and to enjoy (or live) the music, without looking at it through a virtual screen and also, without the introduction of any chemical (or herbal) products to bolster the overall experience. A mellow mood doesn’t actually have to include a spliff, tablet or injection!
Much of the anger and materialistic aspirations of today’s youth have come about because; generations of the human race have lusted after riches, wealth and physical possessions. It’s what individuals in our society expect. When they don’t get what they want, they get angry. Our society has ’conditioned’ people to ‘expect’ all that they desire. But trust me, it’s not the possessions and wealth of life that make you truly happy.
I can’t lose what I never had, you can’t take what I ain’t got, when I’m happy, you won’t make me sad, depending on you all, well I’m not… Cause I started out with nothing and I’ve still got most of it left…(Seasick Steve)
During a BBC show the now well-known Seasick Steve, a veritable ’rags-to-riches’ America blues musician said; “Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don’t look for work, and bums are people who don’t move and don’t work. I’ve been all three.” But life is about living it, and enjoying the experience, until the wheels fall off.
I might not have experienced some of those low points of life experienced by Seasick Steve, I might not have been on the bones of my arse so to speak, but I can actually appreciate the ethos he prescribes. I have witnessed a lot of the life issues he sings about. I have seen the desperation, pain and poverty that he puts into his music. As someone once said; “you can’t sing the blues unless you’ve experienced them.”
The wheels nearly fell off my life machine in 1987, I was involved in a road accident where I had a near-death experience and my best friend wasn’t as lucky as me. It was an experience that (thankfully), made me look at life with a whole new set of values. Ones that although the basics were already there, actually made me look at life from a whole different point of view. You see enjoyment of life is not about the material things, it’s about those aspects you can’t really place a monetary value upon.
Every now and then pieces of music, or the artists who perform them, come along to endorse the viewpoint that steve and I appear to share. The above clip of Aliki Chrysochou, performing in a recent round of Britain’s Got talent, is a fine example of what I’m talking about (see here).
The personal and emotional background to Aliki’s performance illustrates my point. It’s the type of music that is performed with feeling and/or some background experience of life’s realities. The kind of life events which can’t be truly and emotionally reiterated, without some personal experience of them. These are the types of life story (set to music) that our youth should be listening to, and trying to understand.
The triumphs over adversity, the broken hearts that mend, the joys to be found in life and the love to given and receive from others. Perhaps all this repetitive anger and/or despair in a great deal of our modern music is actually creating a subliminal state within the minds of our youth?
Unlike Seasick steve, I might not have started out with absolutely nothing but I can appreciate the fact I still have most of it left. And importantly as I get older, Steve’s song ‘Down on the farm’ (from the album Hubcap Music), I’ve found that even ’dad dancing’ (as in the above clip) can look cool… With that in mind, I’m gonna carry on living and loving life our way - right untill the wheels fall off that is!
- Seasick Steve: I’ll keep playing till the wheels fall off (independent.co.uk)
- Album review: Seasick Steve, Hubcap Music (Fiction) (independent.co.uk)
Ever had one of those moments? You know the one; no sooner have you slipped nicely into the warmth of a comfortable daydream then suddenly, you’re rudely awoken and brought crashing back into the hum-drum reality of day-to-day life. But does it honestly have to be that way?
In simple terms the answer to my original question should actually be a resounding no. That said, most of us naturally believe we are constrained by peer pressure, that and the family expectations and financial ties of life. It doesn’t matter if our thought process is logical or perceived, it’s a natural conclusion for many of us.
Most of us arrive at the same answer because our reasoning is tainted. We have thought processes that have been developed from an accepted norm. Factors that have been beaten into us since childhood, physically or metaphorically speaking, actually dictate the way we think.
We’re all entitled to our dreams, often things do actually get better and sometimes the possessions we dream about owning, or the achievements we aspire to can also become reality. Without a dream or aspirational vision for our future, are we not just merly existing?
Take for example the now famous “I had a dream today” speech delivered by Martin Luther King. Society may not as yet have truly reached the levels that Mr King dreamt about but (arguably) we’re getting there but always remember…
The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer!
The item I refer to on this occasion is the BioLite Stove, it’s a relatively simple idea with several practical plus points and it’s received a mixture of both rave and mediocre reviews.
Nick Small of Gizmodo UK said; “Wilderness lovers and Ray Mears-types who can’t bear to be without their mobile phone/GPS unit or other USB powered devices will love this piece of kit” – but will you?
Stoves have come a long way since the humble primus: turbo flames, jet boilers and ultra-light portables are just some of the options around. But now there’s the BioLite, a stove that burns twigs and charges your phone all at once…(Gizmodo UK)
BioLite is an advanced ‘eco-energy’ company who produce not just a ‘revolutionary stove’ that, whilst making cooking on wood clean, safe and easy, it also generates electricity. This neat product was invented by Alexander Drummond and Jonathan Cedar and the technology behind the BioLite stove was inspired by; “a philosophy of applying efficient design to real world problems” – now that’s the real bit that appeals to me.
It’s the application of their HomeStove in the developing world that I find the most interesting. Using the same technology, BioLite have created a low-cost biomass cookstove that, by converting waste heat into electricity, reduces smoke emissions by up to 95% while simultaneously providing users with the capability to charge mobile phones and LED lights.
A useful resource for the developing world, especially India and Sub-Saharan Africa. This year BioLite have launched a campaign to help build support for the HomeStove.
Yes, I can see the advantages of the BioLite CampStove and I could envisage its use ’in the field’ however; whether or not I could actually justify spending the required c£150 on it is whole different kettle of fish!