Saturday, March 25, 2006

My Old Dutch

Today the BMRB meal club went for lunch at My Old Dutch in Holborn. I think the overwhelming impression we came away with was how BIG and FILLING everything was. Starters were the size of main courses, with mains the size of - I don't know, really big main courses. I had some tasty deep fried cheesy things in breadcrumbs, followed by a pancake with sundried tomatoes, olives and artichokes. After a short break, I managed to squeeze in some ice cream with chocolate sauce. A highlight was the drinks menu which sported a good range of beers, including some premium Belgian ones. I went for Fruli, a strawberry beer. So this will allow us to cross off either D for Dutch or P for pancake on our A-Z of world cuisine. More photos here

Friday, March 24, 2006

Freedom from imprisonment by deranged zealots

Well, for some people anyway.

It's great that Norman Kember was rescued this week from his imprisonment in Iraq. This must be a joyous time for him and his family and is cause for celebration any way you look at it.

However I can't help thinking also about the many people, including British residents, also being unlawfully detained in contravention of all international legal standards. Yes of course I'm talking about Guantanamo Bay. But we don't hear much about efforts and resources being spent on freeing them. All we get on this is hand wringing and empty words.

The last British citizens who were being held there have been released after years of detention and interrogation without trial. But this is no thanks to Tony Blair, who blatantly sold out his own citizens to ingratiate himself with George Bush.

Now, it can't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Kember is a white middle class Christian, and the Guantanamo detainees are about as far removed from that demographic as you can get. Surely not.

I'm not saying we should send the SAS in to storm Guantanamo, but I just want to see the same level of determination to end arbitrary lawless detention and mistreatment wherever it occurs, and to whom.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Free Music

Kristin Hersh, former vocalist with Throwing Muses (one of my favourite bands of all time), has been fronting a new band called 50 Foot Wave for a while now. They have a sound that will be familiar to Muses fans, a bit harder edged though. Anyway, their new EP is being made available to download freely, and copying/sharing is encouraged. It is called Free Music and you can get it here.

Partly this is being done as a 'thank you' to fans, but also an experiment with a new way of distributing music - there is a PayPal donation link where you can contribute, if you want. I think this home grown approach is a wonderful thing, and is increasingly being taken up by artists especially people who have had plenty of experience with the music business, not all of it positive!

Kristin says "Money has so polluted the music world that my overwhelming urge right now is to divorce money from recorded music ... So we're sending free recordings off into the world to do their work. If people enjoy these songs and are excited by them, we ask that they share them with others. The music business is about fame and huge profits -- egos and greed -- music itself, is not."

Kristin still records and tours with solo material, and last year I went to see her perform an evening of Throwing Muses tracks with just her and an acoustic guitar. That was a rare treat, some songs that I haven't heard live since I first got into Throwing Muses about 20 years ago.