Keith Flint – Man for the Jilted Generation

I cried this morning. And I had people from way back send me messages after years, people I didn’t know connect with me on social media, an epic phone call with an old friend.

And it’s because Keith Flint has died. 

It was a long hot summer in 1995 when I went to my first music festival. An 18 year-old school leaver, and Head Girl, who bunked off the last few days at high school to head to Glastonbury.

Michael Eavis hosted the first dance act ever to headline at his Somerset farm: The Prodigy. Music for the Jilted Generation had come out the year before. Voodoo People, No Good (Start the Dance), Poison, Their Law (“Fuck ‘em n’ Their Law”).

100,000 people; mostly off their tits, going off their tits. Trusty Doc Martens and lots in the tank, bouncing and dancing and screaming and smiling. (And, for me, an epic warp out after the lads had sweat their last on the stage.) But I was there. And anything was possible.

It was punk for the 90s. We were young and wild and free. We marched against war and we got into student debt (but it didn’t matter because the Millennium Bug was going to wipe it all out, so ‘skin up’). 

Many more crazy dance nights in Manchester, Leeds, maybe Sheffield, followed. And one crazy weekend in Blackpool seeing them at the Tower Ballroom I recall. The Prodigy always brought it and it brought us back every time: Back to that world of possibilities, that heart full of dreams, that boundless energy, that hope, that we could be free in a moment. 

I didn’t go to what would turn out to be Keith’s last gig, here in Auckland last month. I’d got Fat Boy Slim, Happy Mondays and Leftfield all within a month and I’d seen them so many times. I should stick with my memories of them from back in England and see some of the ones that got away instead, I thought, just in case they didn’t quite have it any more. Best to stick with the memories I had. Except, they did. And I should have twisted, Firestarters. Friends went and, again, of course, they still had it, and it went off. 

Just yesterday, I Shazamed Firestarter from the radio to send to a friend. I got in the car after a city ferry trip surrounded by a cluster of entitled pricks got me riled, and there he was, Keith, reminding me of who I was and why we still need to keep calling shit out and keeping it real. 

The news that Keith has decided it all ends this way will prick tears in eyes across the world today: Mourning a music icon brings sadness for those who feel a part of their own past dies too.

Thanks, Keith. You bloody brave man. 

Bang on Music for the Jilted Generation. And TURN. IT. UP. 

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Expo your hearts out, girlfriends

 

‘Let’s go with purple!’ I can hear the art director’s wafting response to the young designer’s predictably girlish pink attempt at the Herald Business section’s front page ad for the ‘Women’s Lifestyle Expo.’ Purple is surely the second obvious ‘this says female’ colour choice.  And these are women, after all.

The ad for the ‘Women’s Lifestyle Expo’, with it’s paint splash and cheery logo font, is aimed at decision makers in consumer-related businesses targeting women. Or, more precisely, yet bafflingly vaguely, Women’s Lifestyle. 

Beyond the photo of coffee-carrying, purple bag-toting women, the call to arms shouts to company marketers like a chauvinistic preacher, ‘With thousands of women under one roof for an entire weekend, this is the perfect opportunity for you to get up close and personal with your customers’! I had to read it again. And then break it down.

Up close and personal. Maybe this was a hangover-inflicted advertising executive lazily churning out his last few words on a Friday afternoon, as he received a text that Jono was already in the pub. The overused cliche was the only phrase that said ‘women’ to Andy’s weekend-ready mind. They like to be close and personal, don’t they? They like to cuddle and go to the bathroom in packs. And men like to get up close and personal with women, right. Of course. Nailed it. ‘On my way, mine’s a Canadian Club.’

I mean, this ‘expo’ hardly needs selling. It’ll be like a giant bathroom queue full of opportunity to have women buy, buy, buy! Like a hungry pack of tigresses, protecting their free samples like their precious young, they’ll go wild for all things ‘woman’. Yes! And this, this is an opportunity to get up close and personal with them…all of them! For an entire weekend. For God’s sake, when else would you get the chance to get up close and personal with an entire aircraft hangar full of consumer-crazed women other than at a Women’s Lifestyle Expo?

‘Thousands of women under one roof for an entire weekend’. Wow. An entire room full of women. This is a rare thing indeed. And, just hold on a sec, Andy, did you say, for an entire weekend? Holy. Shitballs. Now this IS an opportunity. And how, pray tell us, do you intend to orchestrate this mass captivation? How are you going to succeed in herding so many women under just one roof? And, how do you propose to hold them there, for the entire weekend? Electric fencing? Psychopathic dictator? Ah, ok, the hypnotic enticement of the latest sanitary revelation, a miniature can of hairspray and a sachet of green tea. Course.

Now the concept of the ‘expo’ is saddening enough; morbidly bored people milling around at shuffling pace in puffer jackets collecting leaflets and entering prize draws. The parking, the branded t-shirts, the ‘promo girls’, the waffle. But a Women’s Lifestyle Expo. How in God’s name did anyone come up with this as a suitable theme for one of these awful wastes of a weekend?

Women’s Lifestyle – when you have an event dedicated to the entire lives of half of the population of the planet, don’t you think you’re casting a bit of a wide net? I mean, wouldn’t it be easier to narrow down your target market, just a little? Or at least actually have a target market? Women’s Lifestyle. What could possibly constitute a suitable stall, suitable product, for such a gaping area of need I wonder? We could be talking new-look lab coats for nuclear scientists, storage devices for landscape gardeners, contraptions to pee into for concertgoers, holiday inspiration for Roman history lovers? I mean, what are the parameters here? For half of us, it’s simply a ‘living your life’ expo. 

However, in Whangarei this August, thanks to NZME, there exists the golden opportunity of an eager female flock, prepared to set aside their weekend – their entire weekend – to be wowed and inspired by being shown essentially what it is to be a woman. And have a ‘lifestyle’. A catch-all gender 101 handily summed up in a collection of stalls, products, and cooking demonstrations. And the businesses wishing to tap into the potential buying power of this frenzied flock of femininity must be salivating into their pink drawstring sample bags. After all, when does this kind of fervent female mass hysteria ever happen beyond the tantalisingly up close and personal realms of a women’s lifestyle expo?

So, if you’ve not already jogged off to the boozer Andy, me and my fellow women wonder how you’ll go about selling us the Men’s Lifestyle Expo? Andy? Andy?

 

Foundation

Sense raged out of walls and malls,
Of Earth left bare, of sallow halls,
It landed; ripping up the path, the tricycle, the old steel bath,
then laughingly it sped on by as young and old would mourn and cry. Then stronger than the force for wrong,
stirred up from depths, defiant song
of hearts and wills growing louder on
the paths, the lawns, the no through roads,
the streets, ten thousand strong feet strode.
To rise up, reclaim this jewel shard stone
to make it once again their home.

Written: November 11th 2015 in response to Christchurch’s earthquakes and volunteer armies.

Resolution

 

To the brave ones,

the enslaved ones,

the ones who’ve lost their way.

The flying high

four-car guy

who never has to pay.

 

The anxious girl,

The Fucked Up World,

The  glorified,

The gay.

The non-descript, front-tooth chipped, pissed up

every day.

 

The photoshopped,

the breast lift opped.

The tanned,

the pale,

the grey.

The thread-veined, see-through, cling film hands

that fought

and held

and prayed…

The empaths

And the egos,

the cleaners short of pay.

The top-floor corner office bitch,

Euphoric kids at play.

 

Strong in our words.

Firm in our truths.

Togetherness our way.

We’ll laugh,

We’ll dance,

We’ll share,

We’ll sing:

“LOVE THEM ALL”

today