Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ladybird Box For Boys

I went on a reconnaisance mission to Past Times on Saturday and saw this box of books,,9780723263067,00.html

The Ladybird box for boys has the following titles:
The Policeman, Danger Men, The Story of Football, How it Works: The Computer, How it Works: The Motor Car, Making a Transistor Radio.

So ripe for a subversion:

The Psychopath, The Terrorist, The Dictator, The Story Of Football Hooliganism,
How it Crashes: The Motor Car, Making a suspect device, How it works: Lysergic Acid

Almost a complete kit to enable time travel back to 1973 and Crash... Might get this set, and see if it's collageable. Failing that anybody up for doing some Ladybird style drawings, if i scan them in along with subversive text?

Friday, May 9, 2008

More on the Matatu

from Wiki

Matatu (Kenya)

Matatu station in Kampala, UgandaThe origin of the word matatu is ascribed to different sources. One attribution is that it is derived from the Swahili word tatu, meaning three. When matatus made their first appearance in the late 1960s, the standard fare for a trip was three shillings.[6] Matatu are sometimes known as 'ma3' as the swahili word for "three" is tatu, normally used in text messaging and more recently, as 'mats' in Sheng, Kenya's creolised swahili language. Matatus are mostly Isuzu minibuses; other popular models include the Nissan Caravan and Toyota Hiace.

Until the Kenyan government enforced new laws to regulate the matatu sector, matatu vehicles were characteristically painted colorfully, commonly featuring pictures and caricatures of anything currently in vogue. If, for example, a single by Beyoncé were at Number One, one might easily find a matatu named after her or her song, with her picture prominent on both the inside and outside of the vehicle. They also use names of famous people all over the world be it singers, sportsmen, etc. like Martina Hingis, Jennifer Lopez, George Bush and so on.

Many Kenyan matatus were also equipped with powerful car audio systems, including high-powered woofers and sub-woofers. Loud music was a popular means of advertising, the theory being that the matatu with the loudest and most fashionable hip-hop or reggae music would appeal to a larger crowd, hence making higher profits. That is why the youth normally use the 'dot-com' mathrees usually referred to as manyanga/nganya and the older people use the more quieter ones-wangora or ya wazazi (for parents). This is because majority of them have no music at all and are always slow.

Unsafe behavior by matatu operators, including speeding and violations of traffic laws, allegedly contributed to increasingly dangerous driving conditions on the streets of Nairobi. For this and other reasons, the government of Kenya implemented laws regulating the matatu industry on 31 January, 2004.

More generally, 'matatu culture' has been characterized by a cut-throat approach to business that emphasizes quick profits. Numerous anti-social practices have allegedly been linked to the matatu business, including:

*Bribery of traffic policemen Corruption
*and sexual molestation of young girls by matatu drivers or crew
*Petty crime: Outright theft from passengers, overcharging, pickpocketing, physical assault, verbal abuse and general intimidation of the travelling public
*Young men dropping out of school to become touts and drivers

:- hardly cliff richard in Summer Holiday, but nevertheless sounds like an excellent job with lots of perks

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Matatu: Pirate Taxis... the perils of deregulated public transport

I was 5 in 1973. We lived in Kenya, my parents were teaching. The roads were absolutely treacherous. Among the most dangerous vehicles on the roads between Nairobi and Fort Hall where we lived were the buses. I was speaking recently with my brother about this... how exaggerated a vague childhood memory was all this. So I have been searching around. Numerous articles on the web discuss the Matatu/Matutu, essentially what started out as a Pirate Taxi company:

the following comes from a report on Regulated bus systems around the world.

In Nairobi, public transport services arepresently provided by:
- Kenya Bus Services (KBS)
- Nyayo Bus Services (NBS)
- Matutus KBS, like ZUPCO, used to operate under afranchise system and was the sole supplier ofpublic transport services until matutus werelegalised and now they face competition fromNBS. KBS Is 75 percent owned by a U-K companyand 25 percent by Nairobi City Council. NB$ isa Government of Kenya run parastatal companyand matutus "are privately owned small scaletransporters of commuters, they represent anintermediate form of public transport service between the conventional bus and taxi" (Obudhoand Aduno, 1992).

Matutus were legalised as a form of public transport by Presidential decree in 1973, formerlythey operated as 'pirate taxis'. In 1973 they carried 16% of passengers travelling in Nairobi compared with 84% 66 by KBS but by 1990 the Matatu market share had risen to 52%, KBSS had declined to 42% and NBS carried just 6% as theyoperate mainly during peak hours.

Since their legalisation matutus have been an object of persistent public criticism and are viewed as -unruly, hazardous and anuneconomical means of travel" and they havebeen accused of 'being the cause of mostdreadful accidents and performing the mostchaotic operations" (Obudho and Aduwo, 1992).They have been identified with over-speeding,overloading, continuous hooting and touting for passengers. chaotic parking, harassment and abuse of passengers and general disregardfor normal traffic rules.Matutus tend to operate just prior to conventional bus services so capturingpassengers and major market share. Integration of services has not occurred rather fiercecompetition predominates. Gradually individualownership has given way to fleet ownership which may lead to uncontrollable excesses ofthe matatu being minimised."

There's also this great bulletin from the WHO:

Kenya's bus drivers go back to school

Next door to the United Republic of Tanzania (see adjacent "reflectors" story), reckless drivers of Kenya's "matatu" buses, who help make Kenya's roads 20 times more dangerous than Britain's, are to go back to driving school to improve their skills.

"They are unsafe and reckless" passenger Musyoka Makau told BBC reporter Andrew Harding. "It's a lack of responsibility". According to Harding "a morbid, macho culture" has prompted many matatu owners to paint names like "Chechnya," "Aggression," "Monica Lewinsky," "Upsetter," and "Why Drive When You Can Fly?" on the vehicles.

Now with British funding special one day courses are being held for all of Kenya's estimated 16 000 matatu drivers, Harding reported. "What is the brake for?" instructor Daniel Muchai asks a classroom full of young men. Silence ... Then a cautious volunteer suggests "to slow the vehicle?"
"We're trying to teach them the need to be responsible," Dickson Mbugua, who owns two matatus, and is also chairman of the Matatu Welfare Association, explaining to the BBC. "The course will teach them first aid too — and explain about the effects of driving when taking drink or drugs. We hope it will cut down the number of deaths on the roads."

A Matatu bus... looking a bit like Ken Kesey's wagon, drawn by some doom metal adolescent.

So where does all this lead.... Well I am thinking flash forward 20 years, a globally warmed, oil compromised Western Avenue... a road movie, part "Vanishing Point" part "Hell Drivers", where battling rival pirate bus companies fight it out on the flyovers... filmed in 1970s style Ektachrome colours, the film treated and collaged like a Peter Beard photograph: The Mangled Destinies Of Carriages And Men (cf... the mingled destinies of crocodiles and men)

Beard style:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Evil Past Times


Last night you mentioned the Past Times shop and how English Heretic could be like an Evil Past Times. I hadn't really thought of the ramifications of this, but thinking about it, that is an absolute genius of an idea!.... The permutations for a flashback to the real 1973/JGB world are endless... Idi Amin table mats, Khmer Rouge wallpaper: endlessly repeating skulls, portable radios styled like smashed Fenders, playing retro-motorik-scuzz over oil crisis news reports...Corgi Car Bombs Collector sets (Red Army Faction or IRA), Slain sporting hero figurines featuring members of the Israeli Munich 72 Olympic Team.

I've wanted for a while to stage a souvenir shop as an art exhbition, where visitors come in and buy the goods... the curator acts as shop assistant as the exhibition is gradually denuded of its contents... This Real Past Times idea would work perfectly...

I visualise a kind of room as living collage - part Richard Hamilton part Crass Album Cover...

Unfortunately PastTimes web site is down, but I am going to visit the Ipswich one at weekend... I feel compelled. That place you're right has always stirred a strange feeling of potential subversion... now I can see why, brilliant!

The exhibition could be called "This Is Yesterday"...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Vaughan's Ipod

music found on Vaughan's ipod at the scene of the fatal accident. It would appear the cradle of the ipod player bifurcated one of his testicles half way through Chromosome Damage by Chrome... or something...

more just to give an impression of the musical approach. Retro-motorik-scuzz with a heavy emphasis of 70s current affairs... hence Baader Meinhof,Crass (IRA references..) I am interested in Robert Graves's Analeptic method (which is a kind of mythopoetic time travel) which he used to write I Claudius, but the idea is to travel back to 1973... think a forensic documentary version of Life On Mars, or that comedy with Nicholas Lyndhurst... it must be possible to escape time to a more aesthetically pleasing age...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Google Death

So, the idea is to use Google Earth to map out the various locations. Below is a screenshot of where I think the death of Vaughan occurs. Interesting to see that there now appears to be a Concord monument. I'll dig out the book reference later, would be good to come to a consensus about locations - make alternative suggestions. It would be good to share google earth map defs... I'll look at doing this shortly (click on image to expand it, to get a better idea)

Badly Scarred, from a motorbike accident

Just to explain the "badly scarred blurb"... The full screen play to Cronenberg's version of Crash
is here:

my favourite piece of dialog is the bit i have used for the description of Vaughan on the blog... bizarrely, the screenplay replaces fuck with the word tuck... which reminds me of an old comedy sketch, where someone was parodying the dubbing of swear words that used to occur on TV. I seem to recall it lampooning Raging Bull... "You funning my sister..."

The "Maldoror Of The Motorway"comes from an Angela Carter review, I think... can't be sure because someone stole my RESearch 8/9!

James and Catherine lie naked in bed, she with her back to him, her buttocks pressed into his groin. He is inside her.

CATHERINEHe must have tucked a lot of women in that huge car of his. It's like a bed on wheels. It must smell of semen...

JAMESIt does.

CATHERINEDo you find him attractive?

JAMESHe's very pale. Covered with scars.

CATHERINEWould you like to tuck him, though? In that car?

JAMESNo. But when he's in that car...

CATHERINEHave you seen his penis?

JAMESI think it's badly scarred too. From a motorcycle accident.