Watch the full muddy horror of Glastonbury 1998

In three decades plus of festival going there’s only one festival that really beat me and that is Glastonbury 1998. I’ve written in detail about it previously, but upon looking at the BBC’s coverage from 1998 which is on YouTube, the main thing that strikes me is how fucking wet and miserable everything looks because, well, it was.

Like 1997 it rained turning Worthy Farm into a mudbath. Unlike 97 it didn’t stop on the Friday but carried on and on and on with even hippies who’d been to every Glastonbury and free festival you can and can’t think of, admitting this was the worst year for the weather they’d had. Excuse the pun but it was a perfect storm of the largest attendance ever, with a great lineup (including Pulp, Blur, Tony Bennett, Catatonia, Portishead, Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Robbie Williams and err, Rolf Harris who makes an appearance in the first of the videos below) but at that point Michael Eavis hadn’t installed the drainage systems the farm has today. It was in fact this year that prompted the installation of the drainage.

But it was the rain that killed it for me. It started raining on the Friday morning and didn’t stop til the early hours of Saturday morning. It was already muddy when we arrived on the Thursday but this rain didn’t stop dropping then historic volumes of water on the farm and with nowhere to go, vast swathes of the farm was just muddy puddles.

So these recordings of the BBC coverage captures some of the misery of that year as 100k tried hard to have fun in knee-high wet mud as centimetres of rain drop from the sky. The second part onwards captures it the best as all the presenters, barring a stoic John Peel, grow increasingly fed up, then angry, then depressed about the weather ruining what should have been a classic year. Sadly I don’t think too many people count 98 as one of their best years, especially those who used the dance tent after it was cleaned of shit after a farmyard worker mistook blow for suck while trying to drain the water out the tent.

There were wet years after 98 but thanks to the lessons learned then they’ve not been as intolerable so here’s the complete BBC weekend coverage of 1998’s Glastonbury Festival. This time I can enjoy Catatonia without having every part of me battered by the wind and the rain…

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RIP Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin has passed away at age 76 from cancer on the same day of the month that Elvis Presley died in 1977. Franklin as a singer, star and icon easily matches, if not surpasses Elvis because that’s how important she was.

Like a number of my generation I only discovered her thanks to The Blues Brothers; a film that seemed to give a second wind to amazing artists of the 1960s who by the late 70s/early 80s were on various degrees of a career slump, but after this were introduced to a whole new audience.

Also Scritti Politti’s Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) was another point that flashed her named up to people unfamiliar with who she was.

Once discovered, few could forget Franklin’s music which will live on hopefully for as long as there’s people, or creatures, who can appreciate her music.

And dear me, there’s so much in her catalogue that is just perfect.

I could go on for hours and hours but there’s never going to be the like again. She’ll be missed but fuck me, what a legacy she leaves.

The ‘Treasury of British Comics’ panel from SDCC 18

I know there’s a few folk who read this blog who are big fans of British comics, so this panel from this year’s San Diego Comic Con which discusses the history of British comics. There is an over-long explanation of the concept of girls and boys comics not to mention other diversions, but for fans and historians it’ll be an interesting 45 minutes of your time.

Airbnb’s disability problem

The other day I decided to sort out accommodation for going to Edinburgh for next year’s Comic Con, and Dublin in August for the Worldcon. The latter is a priority as Dublin will fill up and I’ve already bought a membership, so with the former all I need is a bed as I’ll be working the con, while at the latter I’ll need something a bit more as although I’ll be spending most of my time at the con but also going round Dublin. Looking to save some money I popped onto Airbnb where I found two homes who were free and made provisional bookings as I had a few things to sort out before confirming.

A day or two later I logged back on to book, and pay for, both rooms but I dropped both a quite line to mention I’m disabled and would the rooms be secure as I’d be leaving my meds (well, most of them) in the room when I’m out. Over the course of yesterday I got two replies which both went along the same lines that they were ‘really sorry’ but the rooms ‘were actually booked’ for the times I wanted them. Sensing something wrong this morning I checked to see if the hosts had marked the dates as booked. Nope, in fact both are still advertising as available. I then got a mate to enquire about the same dates; no issues.

A shufty through the internet sees folk with similar problems, and in June 2017 a study found AirBnb hosts were more likely to cancel disabled guests than able bodied ones. As a company AirBnb have to comply with equality laws but hosts are pretty much allowed to run a free hand because already written equality legislation didn’t anticipate the sharing economy. Sure AirBnb have bought a ‘disabled AirBnb’ company in reaction it seems to the study last year, So to put it bluntly, hosts can do what the fuck they want; AirBnb have the thinnest veneer of giving a fuck because trying to complain about this to them is pointless.

There is a problem with new tech companies like Uber (where they have a mass of issues) and AirBnb but there’s a particular issue with these companies treating everyone the same because they don’t. Now what this effectively means is the disabled are excluded from the sharing economy, and worse, the sharing economy feels like it doesn’t need to abide with the laws and practises of society.

So don’t want my money? Fine, I’ll spend it elsewhere though the likes of AirBnb won’t care as they’re making so much money but perhaps its down to us to now have a conversation about how these companies run themselves and how we drag them to play by the same rules other companies have to?

The wonderful horror of Local 58

Kris Straub of Chainsawsuit, a few years ago created a web based found footage style horror series. Local 58 is based round the schedules of a small American TV channel and the frankly unsettling programming contained in it.

Now a lot of web based horror is awful. This isn’t. It’s nicely done, creepy and unsettling, just like good horror should be so here’s the videos in order of release. Enjoy…

A quick word about Boris Johnson

If you think Boris Johnson wasn’t making a carefully staged comment in regards the burka to appeal to a certain demographic then I have a bridge to sell you. Boris Johnson was making a very well prepared comment to act as a dogwhistle not just for out and out racists (as Johnson enjoys a support there already) but from people who are ordinary voters.They may not be EDL, or Stephen Yaxley-Lennon worshipping mouthbreathers but people like old women sitting in a waiting room or just people like the one’s you and I live and work with.

Ever since Michael Howard’s Conservatives were rightly trounced after their horribly racist campaign in 2005, mainstream politicians from the right, and the left, have struggled with how to deal with immigration or just be plain outright in their beliefs, or just jumped on board the UKIPisation of UK (or to be specific, English) politics.

Brexit was always an opportunity for the hard right as well as the far right,to enable themselves and beliefs openly among as large a number of people that they’ve ever had access to in the UK, and people lapped up the racist bullshit. At the head of that campaign were a number of people but Johnson was one of the leaders pushing for Brexit at that point for his own goal which is to become Prime Minister. He still clearly wants that job, but now we’re two years down the line from the EU referendum there’s a lot that was once considered abhorrent becoming normalised as specifically England is gripped by a anti-immigrant hatred, though thanks mainly to Ruth Davidson and her Tories, we’ve got our own issues here in Scotland.

Johnson is positioning himself to be the strong maverick Trump-like leader who’ll do the job Theresa May can’t, and if you think that won’t get votes may I point out polls that show the issues Johnson is dogwhistling about have some support, and that’s from people willing to admit their bigotry. Right now there’s just a few steps away from the UK being run by the likes of Johnson with a far right support in the shape of Steve Bannon backed of course by Putin who has a thing for puppets like Johnson.

I said over two years ago Johnson was out to become a real life Adam Susan. I think by next spring we’ll see Johnson as PM, or at least on the cusp of becoming PM and he knows exactly what he needs to do to get there. So when you think he ‘mispoke’ think again. He wants power and he doesn’t care if that means turning the UK into a dystopia to get it, and worse, stay in power.  This is why Brexit needs to be opposed because once that happens the gloves are off…

The cold economics of running a comic shop

A while back I came across this video YouTube. It’s worth a watch, even if it is a tad annoying.

While watching this it became clear folk don’t understand how to run a business, and although the video is full of Millennial bullshit (”use an app”)there are points to be made, so let’s take a look at the pull list.

The pull list is a staple of the comic shop I’ve worked in three big comics shops in Glasgow, London and Bristol and each one ran a pull list more or less along the same lines. Customer comes in, says ”I don’t want to miss another issue of Reagan’s Raiders, can you keep it aside for me?’

So when the next thrilling issue comes in, you put it aside for your customer and when s/he comes in they’re chuffed because they’ve got their thrilling adventure comic. Sounds great and mutually beneficial? Well no, the problem is you as a shop are providing a free service for your customer which sounds great, but customers will not pick their books up regularly. That’s fine if you’ve been made aware of it at the start; for one example I had a customer in Bristol who said he only comes into Bristol once a month who ordered quite a bit of stuff, mainly Marvel and DC. Fine, you have a good day when they come in but you’ll have people who don’t tell you and their comics mount up.

One week in Bristol I counted near a grand of comics sitting in people’s lists. That went down by the end of the weekend but that’s a grands worth of stock sitting there unable to be sold, or in some cases, gotten rid of because you’ll never sell it and end up carrying it around for decades.

My solution to this is making the pull list a membership scheme. You pay a sum dependent upon how many comics you want to put aside so if you do a runner leaving us with a load of unsold, and unsellable, comics, we’ve at least had something off you.Today I’d go further and set up a direct debit, and if need be, a mail order so we’d not only get the money but ship the comics which means freeing space. If you think that’s harsh then perhaps running a business isn’t for you because the pull list can bring shops down and here’s the thing, most people open up a shop based upon their collection and a hope to make somewhere really fun for your mates and like-minded people to hang out but if nobody is spending money then ultimately all you’re doing is paving your way for bankruptcy.

Everything you’ll do to run your shop is going to involve thinking how it’ll help make you money. Sure you can do all the things you’d like when you’re secure or at least, stable, but I’ve seen shops go bust when they’ve ran out of ideas or when the collection runs out, or they’ve just sat there on their arses sneering at punters rather than working out how to keep in business because running your own business is hard and you don’t want to make it harder, so sometimes you’ll have to do things which make you seem harsh but unless you’ve got loads of capital behind you, you’ll need to think how to utilise things like the pull list or branch into markets new and fresh. And no, I don’t mean wargaming or a wall of Funko Pop figures.

Ask yourself what’s your unique selling point; what is it you do that no other shop of your kind in the area does and how can you draw and keep customers. Also customers have to have realistic expectations of what your shop can do. Explain to them that ordering comics is often a guessing game.

Take for example the variant cover. It is a plague. DC, to be fair, are actually good with their variants but everyone else is a shitshow where ordering 10 extra copies of Title Z, means you might get a comic that sells for loads on Ebay but you’ve taken a hit in order to get it. So consult with your customers but show them how complex it can be but just getting them to look at Diamond’s order form but sometimes everyone (bar a few) are going to miss out on things like the variant of Batgirl #23.

Which brings us back to the pull list. It can be the spine that holds your shop together only if you’ve got it turning over regularly, but you have to at some point deal with the cold realities and economics of running an independent comic shop or you’ll go the way of far too many shops.