Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Bad Mags!

I just found this brilliant site called Bad Mags. As it says, it features cover art from different sorts of sleazy US magazines from the 1950s onwards. Crime, occult sex, skin flicks, gossips, bikers, rock'n'roll -- the seedy underside of America! Ungawa!

This links nice to FinnSleaze, my own cover gallery of (mostly) 1970s Finnish men's magazines. (Its mirrorsite has also a bit more images.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Official Truth Of Finland

In his latest Net column, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (of Finland's Social-Democratic Party) criticizes Finnish media:

"In Finland, there is undergoing a clear and systematic campaign to change the social and foreign policies in Finland. One does not have to argument this view with any conspiracy theories, it is enough to keep following Finnish main media to see how its agenda has become harder, its message more right-wing."

Especially Tuomioja criticizes Helsingin Sanomat, the largest morning newspaper in Finland, for actively propagating these views.

The Helsingin Sanomat chief editor Janne Virkkunen quotes on the paper's head column the German leftist playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht who, while staying as a refugee in Finland during World War II, wrote about the Finns being a people, who "keeps silent in two languages".

Virkkunen claims that Finland is still the country of one official truth, which shuns presenting any alternatives and dissidence, just as in the era of Soviet Union, when Finland's foreign and domestic policy were heavily dictated by our Eastern neighbour; making the Western observers come up with the term "Finlandisierung" about this delicate tightrope-walking type of political balance, where the Finns had to nourish good relations with Russians but also prove their being another Western democracy.

Virkkunen also quotes the recent " Roadmap to Finland's Future Success" report by EVA, Finnish Business and Policy Forum. The report summarizes: "The message is clear: Finnish society must finally create an attractive environment for working, entrepreneurship and ownership –- otherwise Finland’s long term success cannot be guaranteed." In Tuomioja's opinion, it is these sort of views, that represent Finland's "Official Truth" at the moment -- neo-liberalist, right-wing, anti-welfare state -- the type of which Helsingin Sanomat and other head columns in Finland are trying to propagate at the moment.

Erkki Tuomioja quotes another poem by Bertolt Brecht: "Wouldn't it be easier to disintegrate the people and elect someone else in their stead?". Tuomioja thinks this is something that could well be directed to EVA and Finnish employees who represent the current powers that be, their message to the people being: "They should work twice as much with a wage twice as small, so they elite could enjoy their own double income, preferably without the disturbing intervention by taxes", as Tuomioja puts it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Who's Got To Flex?

There has been recently a lot of discussion here in Finland that our working life should be more "flexible", but in the end, I think the people who've got to "flex" the most there under these models recommended by the business world are the employees who have to work harder with lower pay, under the uncertainty of possibly being sacked any moment... but we are inflexible welfare state pinkos here, of course. Today's economy mantras are efficiency and productivity, but it seems only a narrow elite is able to enjoy the fruits thereof.

While at the same time, the wages of job-cutters rise handsomely.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Pan sonic receives Finnish State Prize for Arts

From Finnish Music Information Centre:

The Arts Council of Finland has announced the annual State Prizes for Arts on November 9. The recipients are film director Klaus Härö, choreographer Marjo Kuusela, and electronic music duo Pan sonic. Each prize is worth 13.000 euros.

Formed by Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen in 1993, Pan sonic has made a durable reputation within the sphere of experimental electronic music, leading the way of the "Northern sound" of international renown.

Pan sonic are among the outpourings of the lively Turku electronic music scene that combined the best aspects of techno, performance and minimalism in the 1990s. Around the same time, Sähkö Recordings was founded, and Pan sonic soon became its most successful artist being equally home at the music festivals as well as art museums and installations.

Since 1995, the British label Mute/Blast First has issued Pan sonic albums Vakio" (1995), Kulma (1997), A (1999) ja Aaltopiiri (2001). This year the ambitious duo released a 4-CD work Kesto, of which title means, literally, length. Their recent live performances include concerts in Berlin Biennale, Tampere Biennale, and Biennale Musica in Venice.


And my comments:

Well, this is great that Pan sonic finally get the recognition they deserve in their own home country, but one could ask if this was really so if they hadn't manage to make it internationally. I don't think so.

Finnish people usually are really wary of anything that breaks new ground; without their international recognition Pan sonic (or Jimi Tenor or Vladislav Delay or...) would be still considered some sort of marginal freaks here, probably even laughed at. The Finnish way: jealousy and bitterness -- people who create something different and out of the ordinary crushed either by indifference, silence or direct hostility. Finnish media and music industry usually want stylish and easily consumed copies of currently-fashionable Anglo-American pop products for an artist to get any major media coverage here. The lowest common denominator thinking prevails.

You either have to get yourself international recognition before anyone takes any note here, or then drink yourself to death or commit suicide and become celebrated only posthumously; maybe even decades after your death. Local examples are various; probably someone like Erkki Kurenniemi being finally "discovered" after 40 years he created his major work is a refreshing exception too. But then, grass always being greener behind the fence, I don't think this is exclusively a Finnish phenomenon...


And here is an interesting sidenote I found, an excerpt from Avanto Festival's info magazine; concerning their forthcoming gig of Germany's Alec Empire...

"In Finland, Alec Empire remains rather unknown, even after much hype from the British media, which is usually devoutly followed by Finnish scenesters. This may encourage some discouraging generalisations about the state of our cultural climate. Or can we imagine Bomfunk MC's become radicalized, should the skinhead MP Tony Halme's demagoguery lead to action? Now seemingly on the wane, the Finnish
electronic music scene was dominated throughout the 90's by mindless hedonism and cursorily post-modernist pseudo-philosophies, with the approval of the media and even some art museums. These sorts of connotations may even have caused the alternative activists' scene to shun experimental electronic music, as well."

Monday, November 08, 2004

A Review of DaDaDa @ BBC Site

Here's a review of London's DaDaDa: Strategies Against Marketecture exhibition where I participate with my pHinnMilk Comics:

Acid Mothers/Circle/Vialka: Live at Klubi, Tampere

Something about last Tuesday night's psychedelic rawk spectacle here at the Klubi club our of little Tahm-peh-reh town...

Vialka from France were a boy-girl duo of a guitarist and drummer (just don't mention White Stripes here), and were quite funny after I got over my first shock. A bespectacled ethnomusicology student-looking girl wearing something that looked like an ethnic regional costume, drumming like a berserk and singing/wailing in the style of Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. One song was obviously about how shitty everything is. Peaches, eat your heart out. The guitarist having a silly long goatee à la that Queens of the Stone Age guy. In his white shirt he looked like a deranged Amish. The music was a sort of punk-prog combination with folkish overtones, complicated song structures, tempo changes, etc.; like punk but played by music conservatory students who are into prog-rock.

Circle I hadn't seen in ages, but were really worth waiting for, to say the least. Before the gig I had a chance to talk with Circle's jovial bassist Jussi Lehtisalo, one of the nicest guys I know in music scene, and I donated him also Kompleksi's demo. Circle started with a longish ambient-drone mood, then turning to something which sounded at times like Can, at times like Spacemen 3. Not exactly their gargantuan rifforamas of yesteryear, but something more subtle. One guitarist sang blues-like vocals, keyboardist Mika Rättö wailed in Damo Suzuki-style. Another fine gig from Circle, still the best Finnish band of this type (Krautrock/postrock/psychedelia).

Acid Mothers Temple And The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (whatever that ) from Japan I had missed when they visited in Tampere two years ago. And to be honest, I was a bit wary of hearing them live for the first time, since at least the only album I've got from them, New Geocentric World, was a bit too heavy jamming to my own tastes.

But I suppose Acid Mothers are a band actually best heard live, since for me this gig was just spectacular: Kawabata Makoto and his merry (furry) men leading loud monster jams consisting of psychedelia, Krautrock, Hendrix, Black Sabbath, et al.; and lo and behold, it worked fine for me, and what has been rare for me lately, got my old ruined body moving. But then, I guess I've always been just a hippie in disguise. Just hypnotic and physical. I still don't know if I'm going to get more Acid Mothers albums for home listening, but as a live experience they were wonderful. With Circle, this night felt sound-wise like a time machine leap to the early 1970s, but I guess in this case retro is not that bad a word...

Monday, November 01, 2004

Transhumanism - One Of The Most Dangerous Ideas In The World?

Francis Fukuyama calls at the September 2004 edition of Foreign Policy Transhumanism one of the "most dangerous ideas in the world". Fukuyama criticizes transhumanists that they're, through biotechnology, trying to create a Nietzschean superhuman far exceeding those qualities created by natural evolution. Here Nick Bostrom of transhumanists answers to Fukuyama.

I think transhumanists are typical utopia builders living in their high spheres but not exactly having a touchpoint with actual every-day reality. If we become physical and mental superhumans, will that also solve the economical and environmental problems of our current culture; not to speak about wars, terrorism and so on?