BACK STAGE AT PEPPERMINT IGUANA HQ: Gigs, Festivals, Parties, CDs, Books, Protests, travels, photography and Cardiff City FC

Monday, October 03, 2005

BLOGS, WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR? Getting my head around why i am writing this blog

I liked the sound of a blog, but was not sure if I had anything worth saying. So I just started typing whatever came into my head. A few weeks on, are things making any more sense?

Well, I think we are getting there.

A friend sent me a link to a recently published pamphlet on blogs, ‘Handbook For Bloggers, And Cyber-dissidents’ . This will answer all my questions I thought, I am a dissident and I have a blog, this must have been written for me! After reading this I felt quite depressed, there are an awful lot of Bloggers out there who are in the front line of journalism, giving first hand reports from the front line, getting news out to the world from places where reporters fear to tread. These are exciting, dangerous, informative, cutting edge blogs; presenting the world with new and important information. OK, so I went to the G8 protests earlier this year, and, erm…I go to lots of festivals and watch Cardiff City.. and… mmmmm. I was starting to think my blog is not worthy. Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger I aint.

I looked up blogs in the wikipedia , things looked a bit better, but not much. I think this ‘ere blog falls into the category of ‘Personal Blog’, which is fine… but not very radical or cool. I know a lot of people (millions) have personal blogs cluttering up cyberspace, but I don’t want to be just another one of them, I want to stand out from the crowd and be noticed, I want people to set my blog as their home page because they want to know what I have to say today. Or do I?

Last night while I sat reading my book, I had to put up with my kids watching ‘The X Factor’. A constant stream of talentless no-hopers, desperate to be famous because it is the only thing they have in life, a desire to be famous. Not making music or singing because they love music, but doing it to be famous. Sad. People should make music because they love making music, any fame should be incidental. Too be honest, I think fame is generally quite poisonous; very few people can cope with it.

By an amazing coincidence, last night a friend of mine, Neil, called in on his way home (living next to a railway station I regularly get people calling in on the way to somewhere else). He used to be in a band called Terris. They were a pretty good local band, a refreshing change from the usual Manic Street Sweepers wannabies. Then out of the blue they were on the front page of the NME. “It was the worst thing that could have happened” he told me last night, “left to our own devices we could have built up a nice little following and still be going now, but once the NME put us on that pedestal it all went down hill, everyone wanted to knock us off it”.

I am not suggesting that my blog is ever going to get me on the front of Wire magazine, but watching X Factor made me think. Fame has never been a factor in why I write things. So why am I writing this blog?

I had another revelation last night. I finished the book I had been reading, ‘DIY: The Rise Of Lo-fi Culture’ by Amy Spencer. It is a history of do it yourself culture, as in creating fanzines, self publishing, making your own records, setting up your own label and putting on your own gigs (as opposed to fitting you own kitchen). I love that sort of thing; it is all about creating things to please yourself, not other people; it is about sticking two fingers up to capitalism and the music/publishing industry and saying “we can do it ourselves and we can do it with more imagination and originality than you will ever have”. It is mixing the creativity of art with genuine rebellion. Reading books on the subject reminds me that I am not alone in the world and helps me see that there are thousands of others out there doing it themselves; and it inspires me when I read about some of the things other people are getting up to. I suppose writing a blog fits in with that DIY ethic, as the final sentence of Amy’s book puts it, “There has never been a greater need, or a better time, to enjoy independent culture, boycott the mainstream industries and produce something more interesting yourself”.

When I put down Amy Spencer’s book, I made myself a cup of Café Libertad, coffee grown by the Zapatista rebels in Mexico (more DIY), carefully unwrapped myself a bar of fair trade chocolate and sat down with my next book, ‘The Long Way Round’ by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.

Over the last few years I have grown out of the habit of reading novels, I tend to read books with titles like ‘Demanding the Impossible’, ‘Web Of Deceit’ and ‘Rich Media, Poor Democracy’. All fascinating books, books that make me angry, motivate me, inspire me and educate me. I love this sort of book but apart from a few notable exceptions, they tend to be quite dry and soulless. Picking up ‘The Long Way Round’, reading the passion and personality that goes into a book like that (two friends riding around the world on motor bikes, just because they can) reminds me of a side of reading that is often absent in the sort of books I normally read, I suppose I would best describe it as prose. Just reading about how someone can remember their first ride on a motorbike, the sights, the sounds, the smells, reminds me of the beauty of the written word. I love the English language.

Yes, I want to write about radical sh*t, yes I want to shout from the rooftops about what is wrong with the world, yes I want to open peoples eyes to what is really going on, yes I want to tell people about incredible music they are missing out on. At the end of the day though, I just love writing.

I love writing in a factual and formal style that informs and educates, I love writing in a humorous and irreverent style that has people in stitches, I love just playing with words. Some times other people appreciate what I write, sometimes they don’t, but I don’t really care, cos I enjoy writing. I suppose the law of averages means that the more I write, the more chance there is of someone else appreciating what I write, but as mentioned earlier, that is a bonus, not the aim.

And in this process of writing, I often straighten things out in my head; if I am battling to work things out I find writing can help me get my head around things. But I rarely find myself motivated to write something just for myself, writing for ‘publication’ is quite a driver, even if I know my audience is limited.

So this is why I am writing this blog, to sort things out in my head and because I enjoy writing. The fact that this blog has a limited readership in neither here nor there, I enjoy it and that is enough.

Picture of Tara Iguana taken by me yesterday as she came out of a ‘pound shop’ in Pontypridd with new glasses.


At 8:02 pm , Anonymous Al Iguana said...

Some people's blogs are like newspapers. Others are just collections of links, or updates on their goldfish. I think the point isn't to make a point, to get the most readers, to be the end-word. I think blogging is an end in itself. Written catharsis. If someone else reads it, can identify with it, is amused by it, or informed, then fine. You have a voice (or words), so may as well use them. As you blog more, you'll find your niche, find the point of it all. Don't stop!


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