Rats dressed up in their Sunday best (Klub Kakofanney Lockdown Letter)

Rats dressed up in their Sunday best

At the age of four, Boris Johnson said he wanted to be "World King" when he grew up. It could have been worse. He might have wanted to be a rock star.

Blown up out of all proportion

You may have heard that Nicki Minaj got into a twitter tiff after Professor Chris Whitty said she should be ashamed of her tweet discouraging people from taking the vaccine. Minaj has 150 million twitter followers and is one of the top twenty most followed Instagram accounts in the world, but sound medical advice isn't a popularity contest chasing a million web clicks. This is what Minaj tweeted:

"My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the
vaccine cuz his friend got it & became
impotent. His testicles became swollen.
His friend was weeks away from getting
married, now the girl called off the
wedding. So just pray on it & make sure
you’re comfortable with ur decision,
not bullied"

That is like saying "I know someone who knows someone who had the vaccine then got hit by a bus. Coincidence? I don't think so". But whereas everyone can see that blaming a bus accident on the vaccine is either tongue-in-cheek or simply idiotic, some people will be taken in by the Minaj claim, recast it as a "well-known fact", and use it as yet another reason for risking their own life, and the lives of others, by saying "well, what if she's right? it's not worth the risk".

The Trinidad health authorities investigated this claim, trying to find the person at the start of this chain of Chinese whispers, but found nothing, no cases in Trinidad, nor anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, some people will take even that lack of evidence as evidence of a cover up, and argue "if it wasn't true, why did they investigate it? they can't prove it didn't happen."

Absolutely, definitely, positively, bona-fide truth

This is a ball, a big red ball,.... Before you believe anything, and start quoting it to others, do a fact check. Here is a great song from a couple of years back about fact checking, by Flo and Joan.

Love the costumes. Musicians who make an effort with presentation have much more impact. Flo and Joan are sisters from Hampshire. Their real names are Nicola and Rosie but their grandmothers were named Flo and Joan which this duo adopted as stage names for their act. They have picked up awards at comedy festivals, featured in a series of TV adverts a couple of years back for Nationwide Building Society, appeared at the Royal Variety Performance, and are now playing to sold out audiences in the UK and overseas. None of that would have happened without the small venues and clubs around Portsmouth which gave them their early gigs and allowed them to develop their acts in front of appreciative and supportive audiences. We need more venues.

Grabbed him by the kiwis

You've heard of punk rock, and prog rock, and surf rock, but I guess this next song is best described as cowboy rock. Don't worry about the genre though, the video is just,... well,... well let's just say it is a brilliant idea well executed, and yet weirdly creepy at the same time. It's easiest if you just watch it. The song is called "Big Brown Beaver", so I'm sure you can guess what it is about,... or maybe not.

Primus is an American funk metal band which formed in El Sobrante, California in 1984, but they are still touring today, and still coming up with original ideas.

The future in tatters

Music and visual style work hand in hand, and music helps move fashion forward. Look at the enduring impact of the DIY fashions of 1970s punk rock. The film "Cruella" released earlier this year is set in London during the punk era and is about fashion show wars. I know little about this film except that it comes from Disney, it stars Emma Stone and Emma Thompson, and it's a prequel to 101 Dalmatians. I get the impression that Cruella is Britain's answer to Harley Quinn, and the film has already been the subject of some very creative mash-ups, like this one:

The twitterati don't seem impressed though. One complains it is just another Hollywood female empowerment movie. Another grumbles that it is unrealistic because it is supposed to be set in the 70s but none of the characters are dressed in fur or chain-smoking. Spoiler alert. That's not going to be the most unrealistic thing about this movie.

Covid Passports

Last Saturday, the government was saying the Covid Pass would become a legal requirement for admission to nightclubs from the end of September. Last Sunday I was pleased to hear it had scrapped these plans. By Monday, Boris had backtracked and said it wasn't scrapped, just moved into Plan B. Every time Johnson said "Plan B", I thought of "Plan 9 from Outer Space", made in 1959 and possibly the worst sci-fi zombie flying saucer vampire movie ever. The final line of the movie sounds like the mantra of the Facebook conspiracy age: "Can you prove it didn't happen?"

I think the Covid Pass concept is flawed. One concern is that it promotes a false sense of security, that people think it means those environments must be dead safe, so they stop doing the things they still should be doing, like ensuring good ventilation, and wearing a mask to protect bar staff when ordering drinks. It encourages people to think that once they've had the shot in the arm, that they are bulletproof, and that's just not the case. The shot helps hugely, but some people remain vulnerable, and some people can still be contagious.

Another concern is that it is confrontational and socially divisive, a favourite tactic of Boris. It was aimed at "nightclubs", treating them as crowded unsavoury unsanitary places where the uncultured unvaccinated promiscuous youth congregate and, as one speaker put it, "exchange saliva". That is just bigotry. If the scheme had gone ahead we could have had the situation where a pub packed to the rafters with drunken revellers would have no restrictions at all on who was yelling into your face. At the same time, if you took your drink upstairs to where the gig was playing, a well-ventilated room where the band outnumbered the sparse audience, you would require a Covid pass and photo ID to get in.

Whilst the Covid Pass will not, at present, be a legal requirement, it is not clear at this time if venues will continue to demand it, or indeed if it is legal for them to do so. Best to check the venue website before you go.

It puts hair on your chest

Over the summer months, bands have been playing at outdoor venues, but the weather will soon put an end to that, and outdoor settings bring more noise complaints making them harder to sustain. The Witney Music Festival, held each year on the edge of the town, had been planned for August, then postponed until September, but has now been cancelled as the organisers could not obtain the necessary authorisations from the council. So here instead is a video from the 2016 show. I can't believe this great video has only been watched 700 times in five years.

Gigs at the smaller venues are picking up again. The Bullingdon and the Jericho both have fuller events programmes lined up whilst The Library has recently announced gigs from October, and Osprey will be running a series of events around Oxford under the Oxford City Festival banner during the last two weeks of November.

Unfortunately, Klub Kakofanney, like Gappy Tooth, has no gigs pencilled in as yet, not due to covid restrictions but due to a lack of venue. The loss of the Wheatsheaf has hit local music hard. A once thriving city centre now has no indy music venues at all.

IMPORTANT: Guys, if you've got swollen testicles, go see a doctor, it might be an STD

16th September 2021
The Lockdown Letters
Klub Kakofanney