Thursday, June 28, 2007

An Easy Way To Bring About World Peace

Ever since the anti-war rally to the Pentagon car park on a nut-freezing Saturday back in March, I’ve been haunted by two things. First, the looks of unbridled contempt and hatred from the pro-war counter-protesters. Second, by one of their signs, which read, “Fight them over there, not over here.”

I’ve got a better idea. If the legions of thick-necked, peacenik-hating, patriotic, steely-eyed hardmen are gung-ho enough about this war to show up and heckle as traitors those of us who are against it, why not let them just fight it? Over here, in America. What are they scared of?

Here’s how we could bring it on.

The hinterland rednecks have more in common with al Qaeda than they think. They’re both deeply conservative, and they both love killing people they disagree with, usually in the name of a non-existent God they believe will reward them for their combative endeavors. So jet all those jihad-loving enthusiasts professing to want to kill Americans over here (presuming they can resist the impulse to hijack the plane), and let them slug it out with those pro-war Americans so quick to back the “war on terror”, but not so keen they’re actually over in the Middle East to prosecute it.

There’s a huge open space at Gettysburg ready for the showdown. Simply arm both sides to the teeth, place them at opposite ends of the battlefield, blow a whistle and let the hand-to-hand killing commence. The alluring sight of fat, leather-clad bikers roaring towards their robe-wearing counterparts-in-hate could be broadcast with commentary from retired generals on the ESPN Xtreme Sports Channel (“Gettysburg 2 – yet again, the war to end them all!”). Sign up sponsors too. “This portion of the slaughter is brought to you by the National Rifle Association,” would make so much sense, not to mention cash.

The battle continues until one side has killed every one of its opponents. There’s no surrender, because that’s peacenik talk. The winners are handed a placard that reads, “Congratulations, you have won the Holy War!” They will be allowed to retire to the Aleutian Islands on a no-exit visa.

Final result: Peace. There will be no more pro-war rednecks, and no more pro-jihad terrorists. No more calls from South Dakota to back a war that’s thousands of miles away, and no more self-destructing scum left to blow themselves up in a crowded market. As all the self-declared warriors of God think they’re off to their respective heavens anyway, they’ll be happy to die as well. Everyone’s a winner.

This prototype combat scenario can be used in all arenas where two parties believe the best way forward is through violence. With reactionary pro-war philosophies nullified, the path for progressive thought is cleared at last, and the human race gets to continue evolving after all.

This Solution for World Peace is brought to you by an unread blog. You’re most welcome.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Accidentally Liking Travis

A terrible thing happened to me recently. I accidentally liked a Travis song.

It happened like this. I was listening to the sample CD from my favourite monthly music magazine,
Paste. I like to listen to the CD blind a few times before I read the magazine itself, which often features many of the artistes on the disc. You know, so I’m not prejudiced against a band with a stupid name, like Umphrey’s McGee. And that way, if I like any particular song, I can take the time to read about the band. If not, I can skip the interview or featurette and save a few minutes of my precious life.

Track 4 seemed a little familiar. I might have heard it on the radio a few weeks back while driving around England. It was highly derivative, very 80s, post-indie, melodramatically sung, and catchy. I found myself flicking back to track 4 on the car CD player to hear it again. I started to warble along like an abandoned teenager.

Finally, I looked on the disc to see who the mystery artiste was. Travis. Fucking Travis.

This might not seem a serious matter to you. But back in around 2002 I was in London and saw Travis on some kids’ tv programme performing a few songs, and they seemed to represent everything that was wrong with…oh, I don’t know. The modern world? Youth today? Kids’ tv programmes? What was I doing watching kids’ tv programmes anyway? Still, they were feckless and twee, and the only ideas they had were nicked from all the bands I’d liked 15-20 years earlier, and then battered into chart-ready submission. Or so I ranted to a few people at the time, none of whom looked remotely interested or impresssed by my incisive cultural analyses.

I can describe what it’s like discovering that you like a song by Travis. It’s like eating a succulent, perfectly spiced pot roast and then being told it’s your pet dog. It’s like waking up from an erotic dream involving Isabelle Adjani to find that you’ve been sleepwalking and are naked in the street with your tumescent manhood entrenched in the arse of the rotting raccoon that was knocked over by a truck three days earlier. Possibly worse.

At first I went into denial. I didn’t really like the track at all. Then maybe, I reasoned, they’d made a good song by accident – with all that time and money spent in the studio, a congress of Chacma baboons would have eventually done the same. Then I tried listening to the song so often that I thought I would start to hate it. Tragically, that hasn’t worked.

Bugger me. I’m not hip after all.