2016 – What a Year it’s been

As 2016 draws to a close thousands of talented celebrities from around the world will be crossing their fingers in desperate hope that they can hang on for a tiny bit longer.  It is irrefutable. 2016 has been a bastard to the famous.  Thankfully I am only a Y list celebrity and thus so far have been spared.

I am the one that looks considerably less cool….

I refuse to see the entire year as something all bad.  On a personal level it was a year of firsts.  I finally visited New York which was just awesome.  I threw myself out of an aeroplane without any sensible reason.  I appeared on stage for the first time, rather than my customary position in the shadows, and bizarrely people laughed.  Not at me either.  But with me.  I think.  Somehow during all of this I learned something important about myself.  The greatest of pleasures stem from escaping my own comfort zone.

This year I largely took a well earned break from writing.  I tried to write a few half-arsed ideas which all proved to be little more than brainfarts.  Eventually reality stepped in and put a boot in my bottom.  And that’s how the novelette PiSlamistan was born.  It lead me to getting a wide variety of threats and abuse, including accusations of Judaism, communism and photographs of dead babies.  It also led to the first Polish translation of my work.  So I would like to say a hearty thank you to each and every person that took the time to send me hatred.  Without you, none of this would be possible.

2016 saw the release of ‘We Are Sorry’, one of the longest running music projects I have worked on.  There were music videos to ‘God Doesn’t Love You’ and ‘Walec’.  It was both amazing and at the same time a massive relief to finally see it come to fruition as the origins of the project go back a number of years. I believe we made a huge mistake by not calling our first album ‘Greatest Hits’ as it would have saved us from ever having to record another album.

All that is left for me to say to my readers, groupies, and troll army is Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

P.S. In the spirit of the festive season the good people at Amazon have decided to give Mourning Morning away for free on the Amazon Kindle Store on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The Blackest of Protests

This morning the Polish Parliament voted on a new anti-abortion law that will make it easier to host a Nazi parade in the centre of your capital city than it will be for a woman to get an abortion.  This is abhorrent, indefensible and insane for a country which already hosts some of the most stringent anti-abortion laws in Europe itself.

For all intents and purposes it will be illegal for a Polish woman to have an abortion unless her own life is threatened.  This will exclude dozens of quite horrendous medical conditions, rape and sexual abuse and somewhat adequate explanations as to why any woman would wish to have the free will to decide what is best for her in the 21st century.

This comes at a time when there is a struggle for identity upon our continent.  Where Poles have been targeted for assault and abuse due to their nationalities.  Now Polish women in their own country face a significant loss in their ability to dictate their own fate, and we can at least make them feel less alone.  It is time for those of us that have encountered, admired and been somewhat bewitched by Polish women to stand up with them and say ‘Poland, if you don’t want them, we will happily take them somewhere they can have a say in their own destinies!’

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Freebies and Fourbies

It’s been a while since I have posted an update on my literary babies and the odd projects that I am somehow involved in so I thought I should share some news.

On Thursday the 26th of November, to commemorate my entry into middle-life misery, Amazon will be giving away the kindle version of ‘Mourning Morning’ absolutely free.  That’s right, you can read my book without the fear of even a penny going to me.  So do it, and enjoy the fact that I am a starving, struggling, writer that lives under a bridge with a hobo called Johnny Wanxard.

To further commemorate another year survived, the price of the paperback edition of ‘Mourning Morning’ has been slashed harder than Freddy Kruger’s underwear that time he had public lice.  You can order it by clicking here.

Nook readers can now get ‘Mia’ for free, directly from the Barnes and Noble store.  You can find it right here.

For those of you in Poland.  On Saturday the 28th of November you can go and see my new band play their first live concert at the Europejskie Targi Muzyczne in Warsaw.  You, or should I say, Yu, can find all the details right here.

I rarely use this blog as a platform to ask for help, however, for once I can only to try to use it for the power of good.  In my hometown of Harlow, something terrible is happening.  The single live music venue is being closed down and it is awful news.  ‘The Square’ in Harlow, was the first place that ever gave a stage to an original song by me. The song in question was Wet Dream performed by the magnificent Dwarf Antidote. Since then a billion miles have passed, I have swapped writing angry teenage punk for uplifting Polish electro and the very venue that offered a forum for many others like me is closing down and it utterly depresses me. ‘The Square’, for most of that have inhabited the place at some point in our lives, is a sanctuary, a safe place away from alcohol-fuelled testosterone inspired pissing competitions found in nightclubs in so many towns. It has always been a place where you could be yourself, no matter how ridiculous that self is, and that for one is worth celebrating. Now we have a chance to say thank you. ‘The Square’ is in the running to be voted ‘Britain’s Best Small Venue’ by NME magazine.  Anybody can vote, regardless of location, and you can do so by clicking here.  Go on, it will only take a minute and it may well save a special place for so many people.

And if my pleas have fallen off death ears, make yourself a coffee, or pour a beer, or whatever it is you people do and watch this video which explains precisely why you should #SaveTheSquare

A Brief Postcard From Tuscany

As I sit here, sipping red wine, occasionally gazing at the rolling Tuscan hills that stretch out before me, it occurs to me that I am lucky.  Not just because I am extremely good-looking, charming and intelligent, but because fortune has at times looked upon me kindly and it is precisely one of those times that I wish to wax lyrically about.

Sometime ago, in the Warsaw winter haze a remarkable number of coincedences happened to happen which involved rock music, an accordion, a joke about breasts, a kidnapping and a poignant argument about the identity of a Jewish ninja.  Fast forward nearly 3 years and a fruit has grown from the tree of silliness.  That fruit goes by the name of IO/YU.  I am loathe to reveal too much about the project so I will leave you with the following suggestion.

To follow the unveiling of this project please follow IO/YU on Facebook by clicking here.

In the meantime feel free to watch the video below which somewhat magnificently explains the quintessence of the project.

In the meantime I am going back to my holiday.  Be nice to each other 🙂

Labels

Once upon a time there was a language in which words had meaning.  And then came the devil Ambiguity, along with his minions, Politics and Religion.  From that moment forth, meaning became as cloudy as a shower of piss.

When contentious events unfold, anywhere in the world, there is a scramble to gain control of the narrative.  It is commonplace for businesses, governments and individuals on occasion to hire people to manage the flow of information and colour it appropriately to try to morph the story into a predefined version.  This behavior affects all forms of media, stretching from newspapers and magazines, all the way down to simple memes which people share online.

One of the key strategies in public misdirection is the inappropriate use of labels.  When a news story becomes attached to sometimes a single word, or a single idea, the public’s attention is driven away from considering what truly happened and instead the public become recipients of a ‘manufactured’ intrepretation.  A recent example is the shooting in Paris.

For those of you that have been hidden under a rock for the past week, two gunmen entered the office of a satirical magazine and murdered a number of people.  Various ‘labels’ for the shooters were flung around in the beginning such as ‘terrorists’, ‘extremists’ and ‘Islamists’, before they were quickly replaced by an ideology so important to Western European societies that almost immediately the crux of the problem was forgotten.  At some point it stopped being a terrorist attack, we were all mistaken, it was in fact an attack on free speech.  Except that it wasn’t.

There are always few bare facts in a story.  In this case the one fact that is crystal clear – a satirical magazine was attacked for cartoons which satirized Islam.  It was not the office of journalists without borders.  It wasn’t an association against censorship.  It was a targeted attack against one magazine.  To claim that this attack has anything to do with free speech makes as much sense as blaming it on cheese, or blaming it on religion.

In France there are an estimated 4.7 million Muslims.  There were three gunmen involved in this spate of attacks.  If by any chance this was genuinely caused by religious beliefs the result would have been significantly different.  And yet there were no riots or large-scale protests like we’ve seen in the past.  There is only one conclusion any rational person can draw from this.  What is the label that adequately describes men such as these, that purposely acquire weapons so they can murder people who create cartoons?  Mentally ill, perhaps?

Last weekend people marched in solidarity and didn’t really seem to know why.  They felt the very human urge to say that they are not scared, that they believe in free speech and that violence will never win.  Despite the fact they weren’t really sure of what they should be afraid of, nor were they sure of what precisely free speech is or who is threatening it.  The important thing is that ordinary people marched arm in arm with the free-speech (not so) loving leaders of the free world to send a message.  And the message was thus ‘we are blind’.

This ‘wave of feeling’ which has ridden across the western world is not going to be a catalyst for change.  Therefore it is meaningless.  The idea that doing absolutely nothing is going to stop further terror attacks is absolutely mental.  If anything they will only increase, as every single example only further demonstrates what sitting ducks we all are.  The worst thing is that whilst we all focus on the European narrative, while we raise our pens and proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’, little by little our freedoms and our rights are going to be stolen from us piece by piece.

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