Sunday, 21 August 2011

X-trax Street Arts

I am glad that I was able to make it to last night’s performance in Castlefield. Fortunately, it will be on again tonight for anyone who hasn’t yet been able to go.

Now, I could bang on and on about how every single aspect of the first performance I saw amazed me, but that would probably bore you. So I’ll be brief and to the point. One stage under a bridge in a warm, rain-free evening (for the duration of the performances at least), three dancing acrobats – two men, one woman – and a one man band. 

I was immediately sucked in to this show, being a fool for contemporary dance. This talented trio grabbed and spun each other around the stage and also around a pole (several metres high) stuck in the centre of platform. Their interaction and trust in each other, together with their props, was excellent and their gravity-defying skills, amazing. Just the dancers alone would have been enough, yet the added music, coming from a single guy with a keyboard, harmonica and other equipment which generated hypnotic music to accompany the fluid movements of the dancers, was a bonus. 

These dedicated, talented performers demonstrated their skills by sliding down a pole, head first, by their ankles, spreading their limbs in a hoop (similar to the Vitruvian Man) as they dominated gravity and manipulated the circumference of the circle on the ground (this act especially drew many ‘oooooooos’ from the crowd). 

The ending performance of this small group would make a vertigo victim quake. The femme fatal of the three (she deserves this title after teasingly lifting up her stockings Liza Minnelli-style and removing her blouse revealing two strips of gaffa tape on her nips) was hoisted up into the air and swung like a daring child fast and far into the open space above the crowd. At times I had to look away as the height and her stunts were pretty jaw-dropping (yes, I have a major fear of heights). She contorted the ropes around her feet to dangle herself forwards then backwards to return to her sitting position. She spun and twisted making gravity her slave and the audience her admirers. Magnificient.

Main Stage - Several yards to the left and I was taking my seat on the floor in front of the main stage (the stands for seating were heaving). I friggin loved this performance. Again, shan’t go into too much detail but I highly recommend you go tonight or seek out where their next set up will be. (Pictures can be seen at the end of the blog)

The stage was designed like an office; desks, chairs, shredder, boxes, staff etc. Animal species were being confirmed extinct by one man at a desk when the stage began to tilt forwards. The office slowly slid off – together with some members of staff – while the rest scrambled to the top (rising further and further into the air) for safety. The office floor became a screen, for us, and the land beneath for the remaining staff. Their bodies were suspended by wires. They chased, escaped, caught and violently shook as the images of destruction and poverty, floods and droughts flickered by. In a post-apocalyptic world, a woman was left stranded to burn in what seemed like the eternal fires of hell until a man appeared to carry her across the barren land and cracking fields of earth. The images projected were indeed potent and I suppose made many people quiet in introspect; Dubai’s Palm Island, Skyscraper cities, tsunami’s, floods and tornados – Man Vs Nature. The presentation was flawless, the actors spectacular and the message undoubtful. You could see the pleasure everyone had in watching this performance and from those being part of it themselves. The act and their final message should be shown worldwide:

‘Change. Be Change. Demand Change. Now.’

Two massive thumbs up!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Ah, the Mobile Phone

The mid nineties opened the jaws of many children in awe as the wireless telephone, what we today call ‘Mobile’, was being introduced to our homes. I remember the day my Dad walked into the living room and placed this block of au courant technology next to our very small (compared to any T.V. nowadays) black and white (What? Who?) box of moving images and telling us; “Emergencies only!” As soon as he left the room, my brother and I immediately darted towards this incredible gadget, treating it like an artefact out of The Valley of The Kings. With no colour T.V. or a wall mounted shower, no Hi-Fi or microwave (pretty bad for the mid nineties), somehow we convinced ourselves we had become members of the Mundo High-Tech.

My first step into the world of mobile phones was forced upon me (like a competitive mother trying to show a ‘new mother’s group’ how her son can walk, by starting him off with the help of her vascular forearms) by my employers. My first phone was a black slab of plastic with a very narrow, incredibly small, green-lighted screen; only a number, battery life and signal bar icons could fit all at once. It was definitely an improvement from the not-so-popular ‘beeper’, especially since I could call a person up and tell them to ‘fuck off’ (this would probably have been my brother, not some random) instead of trying to convince an operator to do her job and write the god damn fricking message, please.

I forget about the camera or the camcorder. Taking photos has lost its charm with me I think. If I don’t take a picture of something (someone falling, a cute dog or a funny sign) I’m sure I’ll see one alike somewhere on this worldwideweb. No picture taking, no time-wasting. Sometimes I think certain things are better seen with my own eyes and kept as a memory (selfish? Deal with it) than to share a photograph with others who weren’t there so didn’t have the same feeling. Pointless.

A mobile phone has much more to offer than I had ever thought possible. I'm not a phone person myself - in terms of talking - but who needs a phone to talk when I can chat via all these new social channels? No, my phone is used mainly for the calendar; to remind me to moisturise at 10pm, follow up on blog ideas etc (I would have used a filofax but such antiques don't send you reminders accompanied by a sound which makes you think; 'What a great idea!'). Apps get you by on a brief tram journey or while you wait for your other half to get back from the bathroom while out for dinner. I’ve found that game apps can be as bad as a good book. Before I know it I’ve missed dinner, the cat is screaming at me because he’s missed dinner and all the lights have been turned off as everyone has gone to bed. It’s gone midnight and productivity has been zilch.

Regardless of everything I’ve mentioned about what the mobile has to offer, there is one form of assistance the phone offers me (and probably many of you out there), which I would have been lost without. One word; ‘avoidance’.

Every day I get my lunch from a specific shop. Every day there is a guy behind the till who not only fulfils his duty by greeting me, but always (ALWAYS!!!) takes a step further and wants to chat. This is not a weather chat (he would have been decapitated by now if he brought the weather up every single day) or a superficial chat. This is a chat which probes into subjects you do not have time to chat about when popping out for a quick sarnie. So, behold dear readers, my confession. Just before I head to the counter, conveniently, I 'receive a call'. I nod friendly at the cashier while speaking to my trustworthy friend; Henry Tom Cole (HTC for short) and escape the awkward, meaningless conversation I dread. I do not consider this to be a form of social anxiety as it helps to remove oneself out of many types of similar situations.

On Wednesday I was heading into town for a meeting when I saw three street roamers several paces ahead. One was shaking an empty can of cider which had been left on the street, the other was swaying, bouncing off walls and the third had begun to slur words at passersby with an extended open palm. Not wanting to get sucked into approximation or conversation, I whipped out Mr Cole and commenced my usual conversation of ‘You there already? 6 o’clock. I’m on my way’ blah blah blah.

Yes, the phone can be a planner, a camera, a game console, a music player, a video player, a clock and alarm, a dictionary and so many other things but, the finest use I have had from mine until today is its helping hand in getting me out of awkward situations. If you haven’t tried it (which I’m pretty sure many of you have) then do.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Lousy Litter Louts

Destroy my World, the World that I belong
One no longer declared my own
Ravaged Land, are my firm feet grounded?
Instability foretells my future underfoot

The seven seas a wonder to unfold
Like Space above in limit we remain
Built up walls of tasteless waste
Mysteries kept hidden, secret Maritime mourns
Slick petroleum pomades overshadows life beneath

Black out the Sun, extinguish my life
Smear smog on the skies and haze the stars
A cellophane sheet bitterly thinning away
Fuelled man-made tools dig and zoom on, and on... and on

Desert-cracked streets, not a drop should be shed
All together yet alone we plead with our Almighty God
The World that was once mine and yours and everyone else's
Is now a bleeding wasteland, no one to blame but us and yourself.

Hands up those who just LOVE the fact we live in a world where a rush of adrenaline and excitement of joy can be achieved by our decision to throw litter on public streets. Now, hands up those who want to smack that person silly till they are empty of ANY joy, grab the hair on the back of their head (if hairless, socket your palm to the knobbly skin at the back) and smear their faces into the recently discarded litter.

I may need anger management…

Some Christians I befriended in Rio told me that there is no such thing as a big sin or a little sin. Whether you lie to your parents by telling them you are off to the cinema, when really you are on your way to slice a rooster’s neck to complete a voodoo spell you put on your ex, or if you simply rock up to a beauty pageant and gun down the natural (plastic) beauties into lumps of melting gore, you will not receive a greater or lesser punishment in hell. You will simply, go to hell. I take on board this attitude when discussing littering (too harsh?). It does not matter whether the piece of paper you threw on the floor is a bus ticket or The Sun, it is wrong, it is a sin, say hello to Bin Laden (coowee).

As an occasional smoker I am weary of where my butt-ends go (good job I put an ‘end’ there eh) after my final drag. Even though no one is around, I feel as though I am in the centre of a hippodrome with my onlookers holding their breath waiting to see where I will ditch the filter. I feel it is my duty, as a ‘green smoker’, to scrunch out the ember and the final flakes of tobacco into the wind and pocket the rest. It’s more than likely I’ll find a bin before I get home though if not, I’m certain my leg won’t combust or the centre of the earth open and swallow me whole.

Over the past few years I have witnessed some disgusting ways people choose to litter. Being a very passionate person (easily annoyed), the moment I see such a disgrace, I become ignited with fury like a freshly struck match (Hadouken!). Even this afternoon on my way back from the bank, a little girl chucked a napkin to the ground. I flared, focused yet failed to do my duty. This duty is one which all people should have but unfortunately we fear to carry it out (not saying I’m scared of a five year old girl, but her mother could have probably sat on me… big woman). If we speak up, we may well end up crippled, disfigured or dreadfully unattractive until the healing process is over. Maybe even be killed (true story). I am not one that goes out looking for abuse (if I did I’d mince into my local Mosque or Universal Church in fishnet tights and a strap-on) and so I have to content myself with trying to influence them with my psychic abilities. 

Never mince into a Mosque or Universal Church, especially wearing fishnet tights and a strap-on

Examples of witnessed littering:

·       *  Walking down Oxford Street during lunch, a caj-shab dressed man swaggers by a group of smokers. Without a look in their direction, he extends his left arm, opens his hand and releases a half-full takeaway cup from Subway. Obs: this stretch of Oxford Street is ‘littered’ with bins…?
    * Piccadilly Gardens 8:15 a.m. Student waiting on the curb for the bus to pull in while reading the paper. The doors open, the papers lies spread on the floor between curb and bus. Obs 1) A bin can be found six paces to his left or 3 to his right.  2) Take it on the bus. 3) Welcome to Hell.

·         * Taking cover from the rain, I spot a short, rotund woman shuffling quickly across the street with an medium-sized cardboard box over her weaves. Lugging her heap onto the pavement, she signals for the bus. As if to punish the rain, she throws the box through the air and it lands, slightly caved, on its side next to… the bin. Obs: Hello Beelzebub!

    There is no excuse for littering, but there are many things we can blame; laziness, selfishness, parenting, education, rebelliousness, toughness and coolness. All of these are 'acceptable' when the litterer is innocent, NOT acceptable by adults, parents and OAPs!