Radio ramblings: on Interference FM and the need for mass communications to sustain mass movements

Interference FM J18 flyer 1

In times like these – a post-truth world of alternative facts – having access to the tools of mass communication is essential; but then so it ever was, even in the pre-blog, pre-Twitter, pre-YouTube era (if you can imagine such a palaeolithic era).

In the late 1990s, a confluence of environmental activists, anarchists and socialists helped build a transnational anti-capitalist, ‘anti-globalisation [of the rich]’ movement, helped in no small part by energy, enthusiasm, tactical successes and growing public disquiet.

In the UK this growing movement necessitated (given the antipathy of the mainstream media) the creation of effective communication channels, both for internal discussion and to reach outside. In time these included things such as the SchNEWS weekly alternative news sheet, Squall magazine (for ‘sorted itinerants’), the monthly Earth First! Action Update and the EF! journal Do Or Die, each of which helped facilitate nationally (and even internationally) wider discourse between and amongst what were often localised campaigns and groups. As online technology and culture grew, so this movement also sequestered tools such as email discussion lists. Similarly, as video cameras became more of a mass market commodity, so too did this movement appropriate the trappings of television and film, either with wholly produced ‘video magazines’ (such as Undercurrents and iContact) or by providing activist-shot footage to the mainstream news programmes.

And then there was the trusty old radio. Of course, whilst the reception equipment for radio was ubiquitous (for all intents and purposes every single person in the land had at least one radio), the transmission side of things was firmly in the grip of those licensed by the state – big, fusty old ‘public’ bodies such as the BBC, or else avaricious commercial beasts locked into the current economic and social status quo. However, bar the legal niceties of radio broadcasting, in terms of the cash costs and complexity of technology set against potential audience reach and likelihood of getting away with it, radio – more specifically, illegal pirate radio – was a no-brainer.

So it was that in the mid- to late nineties a small group of people connected to both music pirates and anti-capitalist politics set about fusing these two worlds together, and providing the means for mass communication beyond of the boundaries of state control and commercial imperatives, to a political groundswell aiming at becoming a mass movement. It all came to a head in the lengthy preparations which built to the J18 ‘Carnival Against Capitalism’ (AKA ‘Global Street Party’ etc) in June 1999, of which one autonomous component was the ‘Interference FM’ pirate radio group.

There’s a decent summary of the J18 radio project and the setting up of Interference FM/Radio Interference, with links to various articles on the Pirate Radio Archive.

But anyway, a nice excuse to post these flyers.* Oh, and here’s a spread from The Big Issue magazine, under the groansome title of ‘MUSIC FArticle on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)OR YOUR BUCCANEARS’:

» Article on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)

Interference FM J18 flyer 2

  • The flyers were put together with torn-off bits of old paper, newspaper financial pages, the stickers from TDK D90 cassettes, and appropriated bits of Carlos Ezquerra artwork from his and Pat Mills‘ near future dystopian comic strip ‘Third World War’, which ran in Crisis from the late 80s to the early 90s. Oh, and look – EMAIL ADDRESS! MOBILE PHONE NUMBER!! REQUESTS FOR MINIDISKS!!!
Advertisements

Judgement on Trumpton..?

blogjudgecalpresidenttrump

HT @pauljholden via Dan Whitehead

Wikipediaphile: Gadsden flag

Feminist ‘Gadsden snake’ t-shirts

Today whilst revving up the ol’ Tweetdeck for the first time in ages to see wagwan with the global agin-Trump stuff, I spotted an RT by always reliably interesting MD twitterer Jen Gunter:

What’s this ‘Gadsden snake’ thing? thought I. Well…

The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “DONT TREAD ON ME”. The flag is named after American general and politician Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution. It was used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag.

Modern uses of the Gadsden flag include political movements such as Libertarianism and the American Tea Party as well as American soccer supporter groups, including Sam’s Army and the American Outlaws since the late 1980s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag

Trump inauguration – all a bit Rexall ‘N’ Effect

Rexall 1996Rexall 2009Rexall 2012

Community policing, Bristol fashion

Bristol’s answer to the Keystone Kops, the ‘Avin’ It Somewhere Constantly, is in the news today after a couple of its finest managed to Taser a sixty-three year old man, Judah Adunbi, in the face outside his own home on the entirely-legit-honest-guv grounds that ‘he looked like someone on their wanted list’.

Needless to say he was arrested for assault on a police officer and detained for ten hours at Patchway nick after receiving medical attention at the BRI. Charges (“assaulting a constable in the execution of their duty and a public order offence”) were later mysteriously dropped, possibly around the time that a video of the incident filmed by a neighbour surfaced, and probably after some high-flyer in Potting Shed HQ realised that the man in question was in fact a member of one of the ASC’s own Independent Advisory Groups. These are made up of “volunteers drawn from our communities from various backgrounds [who] have an interest in policing and its effect on our communities and offer independent advice.”

Zee Feelth are having a good old crack at turning that frown upside down and presenting this as somehow a win for the force, with Bristol Area Commander Ch Supt Jon Reilly making much of ASC “voluntarily” referring the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in a manner which suggests he thinks we’re incapable of reading the IPCC’s own clear guidance on the issue. (The Commission, meanwhile, is already asking for witnesses to come forward.)

With much chutzpah Reilly even claims that “I’ve met with Mr Adunbi and we had a constructive conversation”. Clearly this protégé of (now retired) Acting Chief Constable John Long will go far!

It all reminds me of an incident a few years back when I watched a copper pepper spray some alkie walking away from him on Stokes Croft. Different weapon, same attitude – no come-back for an unnecessary coshing…until the pictures/videos turn up.

(Oh, and the comments section under the Post‘s Facebook page post on this functions as an excellent fuckwit-detector.)

On Alan Clarke (revisited)…

Ages back I wrote about director Alan Clarke and some of his films.

Recently I found a couple of interesting videos about his work – one featuring an interview with former soldier AFN Clarke, whose military memoir Contact  became the basis for his near-namesake’s tense, almost dialogue-free, television drama about a British Army patrol in Northern Ireland; the other looking at Clarkie’s latter-day fondness for Steadicams and the walking intro. Both are worth a watch.

It’s a mansplainer’s world: how Peter Moffatt, Justin Webb & Radio 4 told a pesky #spycop survivor how she could “better understand” her own experience

I’ve not blogged in a while, but sometimes something just happens and you have to get it down.

This morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ‘Alison’, who was preyed upon by Metropolitan Police spycop Mark Jenner for five years using his stolen activist identity ‘Mark Cassidy’, criticised the BBC television drama Undercover.

Here is what she said in the brief, prerecorded segment, as it aired:

I think there are things, in the story that are strong. There’s a different story in real life, and the difference is in the banality, if you like, of our experiences. The real life story is about ordinary women who are standing up against injustice. They’re not top lawyers who go on to become the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions]. And I think that for it to be authentic and believable it needs to link up with some of the real facts. The departure from so many of the key facts has changed the nature of the story.

Pretty straightforward. More detailed critiques have been put up by Police Spies Out Of Lies and The Guardian, which expand on this theme and others.

In response Today had presenter Justin Webb give a soft soap interview to screenwriter Peter Moffatt. This was the result.

Justin Webb: Peter Moffatt is here, writer of Undercover as well as similar programmes, Criminal Justice, Silk, as well.

Peter Moffatt (screenwriter): Morning.

JW: Have you let her down, and other women who in the same position?

PM: I really hope not, and I really hope that when she watches the second half of the series, when Sophie Okonedo’s character Maya discovers who her husband really is, confronts him with all that he’s done, and the shocking truth contained therein, that she’ll have a different and I hope better perspective on the programme. The great advantage of writing a fictional version of something over a documentary is that I can have my characters do or say whatever I want them to. So it is possible for Sophie Okonedo’s character to confront him, accuse him of, for example, raping her, because she’s consented to having sex with somebody other than the person she thought he was. Which interestingly, for example, is a different point of view compared with the real DPP, who says it isn’t possible to bring criminal charges any of these undercover police officers for rape. My fictional DPP doesn’t agree with that, and puts that directly to the protagonist played by Adrian Lester.

JW: One of the things that ‘Alison’ was saying in that clip is that the real life stories are ordinary women who have to stand up to these things, well, first face up to that they happened, and then try and get some kind of justice. Your one is a top lawyer, and that in itself is inauthentic and doesn’t tell anything like the true story of what happened to these women.

PM: Well we know that Stephen Lawrence’s friends were spied on by the police. We know that Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher died on a police station floor in Humberside, left alone there with his trousers and pants round his knees by a group of police officers who paid no attention to his choking to death, and Janet was spied on, afterwards, by police officers who infiltrated the support groups surrounding the campaign that Janet ran on behalf of her dead brother. And I was interested actually in writing about institutional racism in the 1990s, deaths in police custody, the cover-ups that almost always follow on from deaths of that nature in police custody…

JW: Do you regret meeting ‘Alison’ to discuss it? Might it have been better I suppose in retrospect to read what happened in the papers…

PM: We had one meeting, it became clear to me and I think her that we were after different things. I was very clear that I wanted to describe a character who had been married for twenty years to the same person and then discovers that he’s not who she thinks he is. That isn’t her experience. I wanted to write about somebody, a character, Maya Cobbina, who’s in the heart of public life, who’s making big choices and big decisions that matter, and is being undermined by therefore by the establishment and by the police because they know what she’s thinking.

JW: But can you sympathise with ‘Alison’ and others, who are so desperate to have their story told, and told in a way that feels authentic, that this is naturally a disappointment, what you’ve…

PM: Well, Adrian Lester’s character adopts the identity of a dead child – that’s absolutely accurate, it’s usually the way that real undercover police officers functioned. He lies consistently to her. I’m just glad I got the opportunity in this drama to put Adrian Lester’s character on the spot and ask him how is his conscience to do this? How is it, what is it like to have a child with someone who you’re also spying on? I don’t think Bob Lambert and Mark Kennedy or any of the real undercover police officers are going to be talking in public about how their consciences feel.

JW: And fall in love with them, and that’s the other issue you raise, isn’t it?

PM: Yeah. I think that’s a really…

JW: So I can imagine if I were one of the women I’d be quite, I’d find that a very difficult area to go into and I could see why they find that a very discomforting thing.

PM: I really understand that, I really understand that, but I think it’s certainly feasible, certainly plausible, that a man who is spying on someone behaving as badly as he is can also be in love with the subject of his spying.

JW: And you were saying right at the beginning the second half of the series you think will do more, if that’s the right phrase, do more justice to the actual truth of what happened to those women…

PM: Well, she says “You raped me!”, she says “You’ve stolen my life!”, she says “You’re monstrous!”, she says “You’re a murderer!” That really does represent some of the pain and anger that women like ‘Alison’ and Helen Steel who’ve done an amazing job of bringing all of this to the public’s attention. But I really think that they’ll feel a lot better, I really hope so, when they’ve watched the rest of the series.

JW: Peter Moffatt, thank you.

Words fail me (as they seemingly do for Moffatt, too).

Audio here:

TRANSCRIPT – Alison vs Moffatt, Radio 4, 28/4/16