1989 - Prostitution, Child Abuse, Economic Collapse, and Terrorism

The following unofficial, preliminary translation by Dyson Devine, Australia and Vivienne Legg, Australia, April 18, 2007,
is an excerpt from 230th Official Contact Report of Wednesday, October 11, 1989,
from Pleiadian-Plejaren Contact Reports - Block 6, pages 50-52,
contains errors due to the insurmountable language differences between German and English.

 

German Original English Translation
Plejadisch-Plejarische Kontactberichte Gespräche, Block 6
Zweihundertdreissigster Kontact
Mittwoch, 11. Oktober 1989, 04:01 Uhr
Seite 50 - 52
Pleiadian/Plejaren Contact Reports, Volume 6
230th Contact
Wednesday, October 11th, 1989, 4:01AM
Pages 50 - 52

[Fortsetzung von Billy und Quetzal]

[Billy and Quetzal, continued]

Billy: Sag mal, was hältst du von der schlechten Musik, die offenbar auf der Erde Fuss zu fassen beginnt?

Billy: Tell me, what do you make of the bad music which is manifestly beginning to gain a firm footing on the Earth?

Quetzal: 435. Das ist eine äusserst bedauerliche Sache, denn nun kommt die Zeit, wie ich aus einer Zukunftsschau weiss, in der vielerlei Übel in Erscheinung treten wird.

Quetzal: 435. That is an extremely regrettable matter because, as I know from a look into the future, now the time is coming in which many kinds of evil become evident.

436. Weltweit verkommen immer mehr Eltern, die ihre Kinder sexuell missbrauchen, zur Prostitution treiben, sie zu diesem Zweck vermieten und verkaufen für Kinderpornographie usw., wobei ihnen aber auch furchtbare Qualen zugefügt und sie gar ermordet werden.

436. Worldwide, more and more parents become depraved, who sexually abuse their children, drive them into prostitution, rent them out for this purpose and sell them for child-pornography, and so forth, whereby terrible torment will be inflicted on them and they will even be murdered.

437. Nebst dem werden in kommender Zeit immer mehr Kinder Suizid begehen, wobei die Selbstmordrate unaufhaltsam steigen wird.

437. In addition to that, in the coming time, more and more children will commit suicide, whereby the suicide rate will climb inexorably.

438. Die harmonische Musik wird künftig durch unglaublich disharmonischen Krach, der als moderne Musikrichtung bezeichnet wird, weitgehend verdrängt.

438. Harmonic music will be extensively displaced in the future by unbelievably disharmonic noise which will be labeled a modern music trend.

439. Daraus entsteht eine völlige Disharmonie, von denen Unzählige ergriffen werden, und zwar Junge, Jugendliche und Erwachsene.

439. From that, a complete disharmony will come about, by which innumerable people will be seized, and indeed youngsters, teenagers and adults.

440. Es werden künftig rundum ungeheuer grosse disharmonische Krachveranstaltungen dieser Art stattfinden, wobei vielfach aller Anstand und alles Selbstwertgefühl mit Füssen getreten wird.

440. In the future, monstrously big, disharmonious noise-installations of this kind will take place everywhere, whereby all decency and all feelings of self-worth will be trampled underfoot many times over.

441. Viele werden zu Kriminellen, um diesem würdelosen Tun frönen zu können, und auch die Sucht nach Rauschgift und die diesbezügliche Kriminalität werden ebenso weltweit ins Unermessliche steigen wie auch die Arbeitslosigkeit und die Prostitution, für die schamlos in Presseorganen und im Fernsehen öffentlich geworben werden wird.

441. Many will become criminals in order to indulge these undignified actions and also drug addiction, and the related criminality will climb immeasurably worldwide just as much as unemployment, and prostitution, which will be shamelessly publicly advertised in the press and on television.

442. Das alles nebst dem, dass die Pornoprostitution zu einem staatlich anerkannten Gewerbe und wie die öffentliche Prostitution besteuert wird.

442. All that will occur, next to which porno-prostitution will become an officially recognized industry and will be taxed in the same way as public prostitution.

443. Das aber wird nicht alles sein, denn auch die Sprache wird verkommen, denn durch die schändliche Macht US-Amerikas werden die Sprachen der Welt amerikanisiert.

443. But that is not all, because also the language will deteriorate, because, through the shameful power of USAmerica, the languages of the world will be Americanized.

444. Der US-amerikanische Geheimplan ist seit dem Ersten Weltkrieg darauf ausgerichtet, insbesondere die deutsche Sprache auszurotten, und zwar im Zusammenhang mit den geheimen Weltherrschaftsplänen US-Amerikas.

444. The secret USAmerican plan, since the First World War, has been organized to eradicate the German language in particular, and indeed in conjunction with USAmerica's secret, world-domination plans.

445. Durch die ganze Disharmonie aber wird die deutsche Sprache mit all ihren Abarten und Dialekten durch eine falsche Betonung der Worte in den gesprochenen Sätzen verseucht, was die ganze Disharmonie zusätzlich fördert und auch auf die Regierenden, Firmenführer, die Wirtschaftsmagnaten und Militärs usw. einen äusserst negativen Einfluss ausüben wird.

445. But through the entire disharmony, the German language, with all its varieties and dialects, is infected through a wrong stressing of the words in the spoken sentences, which additionally promotes the entire disharmony and also exercises an extremely negative influence on governors, company leaders, industrial magnates, and the military, and so forth.

446. Durch das Ganze werden neue Kriege ebenso in Erscheinung treten wie auch ungeheure Staats-, Wirtschafts- und Privatverschuldungen, Wirtschaftszusammenbrüche durch verantwortungslose Misswirtschaft, Ausbeutungen vieler Firmen durch deren Manager, Konkurse, in die Firmen durch Manager und Misswirtschaft getrieben werden, was weltweit zu einer ungeheuer grossen Arbeitslosigkeit führen wird und unter gewissen Umständen einen Wirtschafts- und Staatenzusammenbruch in allen Industrieländern hervorrufen kann.

446. Through it all, new wars will come into being just as much as will also monstrous state, commercial and private debts, commercial collapses through irresponsible maladministration, exploitation of many firms by their managers, bankruptcies, into which firms will be driven by management and maladministration, which will lead to monstrously great worldwide unemployment, and under certain circumstances, can evoke a commercial and governmental collapse in all industrial countries.

447. Und weltweit wird ein ungeheurer Terrorismus in Erscheinung treten, der in kommender Zeit in religiöser, sektiererischer, geheimdienstlicher und offener politischer Form in grossem Masse durch Selbstmordattentäter sowie durch sonstige feige Anschläge auf Unschuldige und auf deren Hab and Gut ausgeübt werden wird.

447. And monstrous terrorism will become evident worldwide which will, to a great extent, in religious, sectarian, secret service and open political form, be practiced in the coming time through suicide assassins as well as through other cowardly attacks on the innocent and on their worldly possessions.

448. Auch allerlei radikale politische, anarchistische und sektiererisch-religöse Extremistengruppierungen werden auf den Plan treten, wie sogenannte Skinheads und Neonazis usw., wie aber auch politische, religiöse und sektiererische Staatsmächtige, die Fanatiker und bedenkenlose und verantwortungslose Kriegshetzer, Kriegsverbrecher und Mörder sein werden.

448. Also all kinds of radical political, anarchistic and sectarian-religious groups of extremists will emerge, such as so-called skinheads and neo-nazis, and so forth, as however also will political, religious and sectarian powerful-ones of the state, who will be fanatics and unscrupulous and irresponsible war-mongers, war criminals and murderers.

Billy: Da kann sich die Menscheit noch freuen.

Billy: So humanity can still be pleased. [Billy is expressing irony.]

Ändern kann man aber wie üblich wohl nichts, denn es wird so sein wie seit alters her: Wenn von Wissenden Prophetien, Wahrscheinlichkeitsberechnungen sowie Voraussagen gemacht und bekanntgegeben werden, dann werden sie nur verlacht, verpönt und als Spinner bezeichnet, oder sie werden gar geharmt, werden verfolgt, schwer verunglimpft und verleumdet, und letztendlich wird ihnen noch nach dem Leben getrachtet.

But, as usual, one can probably change nothing because it will be just as it has been since ancient times: when prophecies, probability calculations as well as predictions are made and announced by sages then they will only be laughed at, scorned and labeled nut-cases, or they will even be harmed, persecuted, seriously insulted and slandered, and, ultimately, attempts will be made on their lives.

Das wird sich wohl auch in Zukunft nicht ändern.

That will indeed also not change in the future.

 


 

The beat goes on - in the brain, April 19, 2007

Music producer-turned-neuroscientist Daniel Levitin is trying to understand why and how music moves us, writes Susan Dominus.

DANIEL LEVITIN is about as close to a rock star as a scientist will ever get. He has played alongside Van Morrison and the Steve Miller Band. He's even earned the right to call Stevie Wonder by his first name, having worked closely with Wonder as he compiled his greatest hits album. Throughout the 1980s he was a producer and sound engineer, working with the Grateful Dead, Chris Isaak, Santana, Blue Oyster Cult and (he's less proud to admit) Whitney Houston's back-up band.

But it is in his second career, as a neuroscientist, that Levitin has attracted his biggest fan base. Since writing This is Your Brain on Music - a bestseller published in the United States last August - Levitin has become a sought-after public speaker. The book, a lively overview of the emerging "neuroscience" of music, explores everything from the genetic basis of musical talent (apparently it doesn't exist) to the sex appeal of Keith Richards. It has even attracted a few celebrity groupies: after reading it, David Byrne visited McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where Levitin runs the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise.

And lest anyone should think that Levitin is of interest only to baby boomers, it should be noted that Byrne took with him several members of the hot indie band Arcade Fire.

Levitin's academic persona was on display at a music appreciation class at New York University last month - convivial, curious and relaxed. Later, visiting Barney's department store, where he was searching for a jacket for his next appearance, on Fox News, his earlier persona - harassed but highly efficient music mogul - seemed to emerge as he engaged a salesman in a bout of speed-shopping, while answering his mobile phone with a businesslike "Levitin".

Levitin is as comfortable talking about consumerism as he is talking about neuroscience. He is a regular guest speaker for Amazon and Microsoft. He says he's nearly always asked what background music will help sell merchandise. One study, he says, found that when wine shops played classical music, customers didn't buy more alcohol, but what they bought was more expensive. Had the men's department at Barney's chosen well?

"They're going for kind of young and hip," he says, listening to what he calls "the sonic wallpaper", in this case a kind of easy-listening funk. "I don't think it's quite right." So far no one's hired him to tackle this head-on (Barney's might want to consider it) but the Nissan Motor Company recently employed him as a consultant. "It's interesting," Levitin says. "They want to make the driving experience as fun and safe as possible, and they were wondering if there's a certain kind of music that people could listen to that would help them maintain alertness."

Nissan paid him handsomely to learn what most people might have guessed, which is that the answer would vary from person to person. But Levitin is still working with the company to develop a research tool that would quickly determine, based on biographical details and someone's reaction to a few snippets of music, what music might appeal to individual buyers. So, what would he recommend to keep someone like me - a thirtysomething mum who drives a Subaru and likes to read - alert on my occasional rush-hour commute? Levitin thinks for a moment: "Someone like Ry Cooder, whose music has a good beat but isn't overbearing. It also has an intellectual component."

It turns out that long before Nissan hired him, Levitin was trying to solve a variation on the problem - how to predict what kind of music a particular person might like - as an intellectual exercise, one of dozens his fertile mind is constantly juggling. Some of those intellectual exercises have made major contributions to neuroscience, including the first he executed as a cognitive psychology undergraduate at Stanford University (where he re-enrolled in 1992, having dropped out 14 years earlier to pursue a career in music).

Levitin asked people from around campus to sing their favourite songs for him in his laboratory. To his amazement - and theirs - the vast majority accurately hit the opening note of professional versions and sang in precisely the same tempo. When he played a recording of their singing alongside the song (Like a Virgin was a popular choice), the two were practically in synch.

For years, cognitive scientists had thought that memory worked by remembering the gist of something, not the specifics (logic filled in the rest); Levitin's study forced the field to reconsider the once-discredited "tape-recorder theory", which holds that memory encodes experiences with near-perfect fidelity.

"If you've heard a song a thousand times, no one experience of the song has to capture all the detail," Levitin says. "But if you have heard it a thousand times, every part of the song will have been remembered and set down a trace in your memory. And when you're asked to recall a song you've heard a thousand times, it's like a loud chorus of people all singing in the real world, with all those thousand times coming to life at the same time. So it's hard to lose the fidelity."

Much of Levitin's research is about why music moves us - and why we love the music we love. It was Levitin who conducted the first study to prove that listening to music increases the amount of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a brain structure involved in feelings of pleasure and reward.

"You might say 'big deal'," Levitin says, "but what it's telling us is that there's a neuroanatomical corroboration - when people say that they like music and it's pleasurable, it really is. Pleasurable music activates the same brain region as drugs like heroin and opium."

Levitin always wanted to play electric guitar, but his parents were convinced that if he took it up, "within a week, Satan would be sitting on my lap and feeding me heroin - and I might start voting Democrat. All of which were intolerable." As a result, it wasn't until he was 21 that he started seriously playing guitar, at which point he had dropped out of Stanford and was temporarily estranged from his parents. "In my family," he says, "a foetus isn't viable until it graduates from medical school."

Levitin started auditioning for bands and made it into a rock group, the Mortals, who had a following in San Francisco. When they got to the studio, they couldn't afford to hire a producer, so he got the job of shaping and polishing the sound. From there, his career as a recording engineer and record producer took off.

He worked with Wonder and other greats. He played pool with Tori Amos at the studio when she was still unknown, and managed to make a safe exit the day the funk artist Rick James showed up with dynamite strapped to his body, threatening to blow the place up if he didn't get back his master tapes (the studio obliged). Levitin was making good money, and had a high profile in the industry, eventually serving as director of artist and repertoire for Columbia Records. But even at the peak of his producing career, he and Sandy Pearlman, the manager of bands such as the Clash and Blue Oyster Cult, used to drive to Stanford and Berkeley to sit in on morning neuroscience classes, then drive back to Los Angeles in time for the recording sessions to start at midday.

"I just wanted to understand how the world works," he says. He chose neuroscience somewhat at random: he knew one of the professors who taught the subject, and figured he'd let him and Pearlman sit in.

When the record business started to change and multinationals began running the show in the late 1980s, Levitin decided to finish his undergraduate degree at Stanford. From there, he went to the University of Oregon, where he got his PhD in psychology, eager to pursue his research into how the mind experiences music. "It's fun being around smart people," he says. "You can find really smart people in business. But there's a lot more of them in academia."

When David Byrne came to visit him, Levitin showed the musician one of his more intriguing experiments, in which a pianist performed a Chopin nocturne on a Disklavier, a piano that can record what's been played on it and play it back note for note. Using a computer, he was able to strip away what he considered the "expressivity" of the performance, eliminating the small distinctive variables in velocity and volume, as well as the use of the pedal, so that the final result sounded robotic. He is also able to put some of that expressivity back in varying degrees, and even exaggerate it.

It turns out that every person for whom Levitin played different versions of the piece could rank them accurately in order, from least expressive to most expressive. The result is highly counterintuitive: who would have thought the emotional component of a piece of music has no subjectivity to it whatsoever? What's more, says Levitin, it's fascinating that "changing the timing of a note in the physical world - sometimes by as little as less than a millisecond - actually affects your emotional reaction in the brain. Why should timing be so powerfully associated with emotions?"

The answer? "I don't know," says Levitin, who is not afraid to admit there's still much about music that is a mystery to him, including the most basic of questions: where does music come from, and why? Some researchers, such as the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, have argued that music is no more than a frivolous byproduct of neural developments intended for language. But Levitin is convinced musicality is no cognitive fluke.

"We don't know that music is encoded in the genes, but if it is, that suggests it serves some very important biological and evolutionary function," he says. In most languages the word for "dance" and the word for "music" are the same, he says. And dancing and music can become, as he puts it, a proxy for how men perform on the hunt. "Around the campfire, a man could demonstrate physical and sexual fitness, and cognitive flexibility by dancing and singing for hours on end."

Alternatively, musical prowess may serve the same purpose as the peacock's tail, a flourish that serves no real function except to demonstrate its owner's capacity for extravagance. "It's like saying: I have so much in terms of food resources that I can waste all this metabolic energy on this show display so choose me."

For anyone who finds it unlikely that musicality could confer sexual advantage, Levitin points to Keith Richards. "This guy looks like death on two legs but is perceived by many women to be the epitome of sexy. When you see this behaviour, as a biologist, you know this isn't just culture and society. There's something deeper here."

Levitin once had ambitions of achieving Richards's levels of celebrity. He woke in the middle of the night with a song perfectly formed in his head; he rushed to write it down, convinced he'd finally had his musical breakthrough. It took him another few hours to realise he hadn't written a great masterpiece - Bob Dylan had. The song was Tangled up in Blue. "The part of your brain that evaluates novelty isn't necessarily functioning during sleep," he says.

Asked what question about music he'd like to answer in his lifetime, Levitin responds from an artist's point of view. "How can I write a song that's as good as the songs that people love and sing for generations? How do I find that right balance of melody and rhythm?"

And the scientific question about music he'd most like to see answered? "Why can a sequence of noises evoke such an emotional reaction in people? Why does music do it while cats fighting and cars horns don't? Why does some music do it and other music doesn't?" For all his research, and studies, and lab workers, Levitin says, "I don't know that it's knowable." Fortunately, that won't stop him from trying.

Telegraph, London

 

Sad Songs (Don't) Say So Much, April 24, 2007

Blaming music for tragic events doesn't help anyone understand what happened - and ignores the real issues at hand.

By now most attentive Australians will have read of the sad, eerie deaths of Melbourne teenagers Stephanie Gestier and Jodie Gater, in an apparent suicide pact between the two new friends.

But before their friends and family could even get their heads around the awful news, the usual media vultures were scrambling all over the girls' MySpace profiles, looking for clues, and noting their being "part of the 'emo' subculture, named after a type of music characterised by an emotional and confessional tone. Emo fans are classified as introverted, sensitive, moody and alienated, and are derided by other subcultures for self-pitying poetry commonly posted on the MySpace website."

Translation: they were listening to music about feelings! Some of the music talks about death! You do the math!

I can understand why people would be desperate to explain such sad events, but suggesting that music drove a person to make the decision to end their life is not only ridiculous, it trivialises mental illness in an inexcusable way.

Because the problem here is not music, or MySpace, it's the way our society treats people suffering from depression.

I've been working through depression for the past year or so (possibly longer, depending upon when I decided I needed help), and I still have trouble actually articulating that word: depression. More often than not I'll put on a wacky voice and refer to "my isshews" or "staring into the abyss" or "the blues" or anything but "depression" or "I'm depressed".

Stephanie Gestier's mother sent a harrowing plea out into the online ether, as though it would somehow make it to her daughter in amongst the fibre optics and synapses: "Stephanie, why didn't you tell me you were so upset?"

Who knows why Stephanie couldn't tell her mum what she was going through, and we probably never will, but I can offer a little of my own personal experience.

I struggled for months and months to get the words "Mum and Dad, I'm depressed" out of my mouth when I first tumbled into darkness. It was like one of those anxiety dreams where you try to scream but can only whimper; like Eliot seeing E.T for the first time and croaking "Mom! Michael!" at mouse volume.

The closest I came to the edge was while standing in the shower, wondering what would happen if I put my hand through a window or swallowed a bottle of painkillers. Would that do the talking - to my family, to my friends, to myself - that my mouth was so seemingly unable to do?

Fortunately, these shadowy 'goals' went only as far as wishing for a hospital bed to envelop me so that I could sleep away the pain and wake up renewed and clearheaded again.

So, I do not know what it feels like to be suicidal, but if accepting depression and forcing myself to reach out to those who I'd forgotten cared about me was hard, then experiencing suicidal feelings must be the loneliest feeling in the world.

According to Beyond Blue, less than half of people suffering from depression will seek help. Why is this?

Well, depression is not cool, for starters. If you want to kill a riotous dinner party conversation quick smart, try saying "Hey guys, FYI, I've been depressed for the last six months."

Of all the mental illnesses, it seems depression and anxiety are the least understood - and its sufferers are the least respected.

As an example, I am a rabid fan of Australia's Next Top Model, which - either by fate or a more shadowy decision on the part of the producers - has each series featured a contestant who suffers from either depression or anxiety, or both. In series one it was eventual winner Gemma; last year it was Jess; this year it is Paloma.

The internet is never the place to look for moderate, thoughtful commentary on topics of this nature, but your skin would crawl to read some of the comments about these brave girls. "Complete nutcase," opined one Vogue forums poster on the topic of Paloma's anxiety attack and ensuing tears. "It's all attention seeking. She probably wasn't hugged enough as a child."

The sad thing is, though, comments like that aren't one-offs. So many people with depression or anxiety are told to "cheer up", "have a good night's sleep" or "get over it". With attitudes like that circulating, is it any wonder so few sufferers seek help?

We will never know exactly what drove Stephanie and Jodie to take that fateful trip into the Dandenong Ranges, but we can work as hard as we can to prevent similar tragedies from occurring.

And that will start with giving depression and its sufferers the respect, gravity and care they deserve - and by not giving the music they listen to a second thought.

 

Music takes another trip down the scapegoat road, April 26, 2007

As night fell at the Sydney Big Day Out, [see * below] a black parade of mostly thin, androgynous looking teenagers streamed into the main stage arena. From afar, in their shrunken jeans, inky hair hanging low over their black-smudged eyes, they appeared a fearsome lot. When questioned, most were softly spoken.

Then, out of the darkness, My Chemical Romance began to play and the teenagers erupted in rapturous excitement, not one wrist-slasher among them, not one theatrical swoon.

Sometimes it is too easy to blame the music. With news this week of the deaths of Melbourne teenagers Jodie Gater and Stephanie Gestier, the menace and melodrama of "emo" subculture became the latest target.

Emo, text-speak for "emotional", has been around since the 1980s but only recently surfaced in the mainstream media via the commercial success of bands such as Dashboard Confessional, New Jersey's My Chemical Romance and the suburban proliferation of the music's mostly juvenile followers, characterised by black clothing, asymmetric haircuts and a melancholy air.

The music blends goth and punk influences but it is songs such as Dashboard Confessional's If You Can't Leave it Be, Might as Well Make it Bleed that have raised the ire of commentators quick to link the music to acts of self-mutilation and suicide.

Hunched and depressed, emos are not the first rock'n'rollers to cop the blame for youth malaise and bad posture.

From Black Sabbath to goth-rocker Marilyn Manson and the disaffected pin-up boy Kurt Cobain, the dramatic lyrics and costumes of the dark music genres have always been a more tangible enemy than the behavioural and mental health problems that contribute to a young person's decision to stop living.

Music has been blamed for inciting suicide, murders and massacres.

The teenagers responsible for the Columbine High School massacre listened to Marilyn Manson; in 1995 the Australian band Silverchair, then teenagers, were accused of inciting a 16-year-old Washington boy to kill his family.

In 1990 court claims were made that subliminal messages on an album by the British metal band Judas Priest led two youths, in 1985, to shoot themselves. One died at the time, the other died three years later. The case, which failed, was brought by their parents.

After the Virginia Tech tragedy in the US last week, an article in the Miami Herald criticised My Chemical Romance - who openly shun the emo tag - as "wallowing in gore and death" and "offering a timely window into the damaged psyche of today's troubled youth". Forty years earlier the Beatles were cited as influencing Charles Manson's killing spree.

There has been little research into emo - no doubt it is not long off - but a 1999 study claimed heavy metal fans were twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-fans. Last year researchers aligned followers of goth music and culture - also characterised by black clothes and pale skin- with a higher rate of self-harm and suicide.

But suicide is not limited to those who wear black eyeliner and prefer their music played in darkened rooms. Even cowboys get the blues.

US researchers claimed the amount of airtime devoted to country music boosted the suicide rate of urban-dwelling white Americans. The same researchers also proposed the love-gone-wrong themes in blues music could attract people who were suicidal.

As anyone who's listened to the lyrics of Leonard Cohen, the Smiths, the Cure, Billy Holiday or the 1930s "grandfather of rock'n'roll" Robert Johnson - blues folklore says he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar mastery - knows, sad songs are often the most cathartic.

The same goes for violent riffs. A 1993 study showed heavy metal inspired happy feelings in most fans, with the small number of those who reported feeling worse more likely to already be suffering mental health problems.

Australian researchers found rates of suicide among those aged 15 to 24 fell in the month following Kurt Cobain's death.

For many young people, music - however dark in hue - provides a tribe. Like Manson and Alice Cooper, the new breed of macabre bands such as My Chemical Romance have an irresistible element of fantasy and pantomime. By adopting the uniform and posturing of their favourite bands fans build an identity. What could be more life-affirming than that?

 

*The Jack Awards are associated with the "monstrously big, disharmonious noise-installations" called "The Big Day Out" [see * above] rock concert series for young people in Australia.

 

Finding the silver lining beneath black eye shadow, April 28, 2007

Adolescence is a time of angst but eyeliner and piercings are the least of parents' worries, writes Neil McMahon.

HERE'S a subculture for parents to love: no drugs, no booze, no cigarettes. It even frowns on promiscuity. It's called straight edge, yet you probably don't want your kids anywhere near it, because as with everything of its ilk there's a downside: big, black Xs on both hands to mark affiliation, musical tastes than can veer towards the violent, militant and racist, and an extreme ethos on its fringes that appears more fascist than friendly.

In the many worlds of teenagers, there's always something to worry about: fads and feelings come and go, often arriving without warning and taking up sullen residence in millions of living rooms across the Western world. It has long been so. Elvis moved in 50 years ago, all long hair and lewd pelvis, singing about the hotel "down at the end of Lonely Street". The boy from Tupelo was feeling "so lonely I could die".

Nothing has changed, and everything. Presley came into US living rooms courtesy of the family TV favourite Ed Sullivan; there was no hiding him. Today, phenomena more ephemeral and mysterious waft into homes via the computer in the teenage bedroom, undetected by adult eyes. Robert Gater, mourning the suicide of his daughter Jodie, warned other parents: "Don't let them get bottled up in a room that has a computer in it so that you don't see them for eight hours a day or something," he said, as Australians absorbed the news that MySpace had been used by two teenagers to warn the world of their impending deaths.

Why? Who could possibly know, but attention immediately fell on another subculture that dresses for attention but doesn't want or need publicity like this: emo, the word used to identify the culture and its adherents. It's short for emotion, about as broad and meaningless a designation as you could hope for, making it the perfect canvas for countless fears and theories.

An emo, broadly speaking, dresses a certain way, listens to certain music, and is inclined to gloom. "It's become a derogatory term," says Andrew P. Street, associate editor of The Drum Media, an alternative music paper and website. As an insult, it's crudely dismissive: "You're a mopey little teen." What started as a musical genre in the 1980s - an offshoot of hard-core, says Street, noted for "songs with loud guitars and lyrics about girls who didn't like them" - has a far less definable musical core these days. "It's become a culture more than a genre."

The music is no longer exclusively self-pitying, and if it has a common theme it's the inclination to "eschew the political for the personal" - a statement, as Street notes, that could apply to 99 per cent of mainstream pop music. As Tahlia, a 14-year-old from Melbourne's eastern suburbs, puts it: "Everyone's emotional." It marks a teenager as normal, which in those difficult years can be a synonym for troubled. It's the cause, nature and extent of the trouble that is difficult to determine and define.

Jo May - a final-year social work student and mother of a girl whose friendship circle embraces punks, goths and emos - argues that parents should concern themselves less with labels and more with the layers of confusion and doubt they often conceal. "I've always looked past the hair, the make-up and the piercings and see the kid underneath and they're all pretty good kids. They're just kids, trying to fit in."

The various subcultures give them somewhere to belong, she says, a point on which Street concurs. "They want to identify with something, they want support, they want to feel part of something," and dismissing that search as silly or dangerous can be isolating in itself. "To be told, 'you silly little kids with your silly fringes', well, it's not going to make them clean their room, let's put it that way. I don't think it's a subculture thing, it's a teenage thing. It's a way of forming a tribe, or forming an alternative family when the one you've got isn't doing the job."

Tahlia's tribe, if she's forced to identify one, is the goths - inclined to black eyes, hair and garb, a get-up that she is aware gives parents and many of her peers the frights. She listens to bands like Cradle of Filth and DragonForce, yet gives Tori Amos an occasional spin. She hates pigeonholes.

"People say it's the music that makes people like this, that's ridiculous. They say the music they listen to is making them do this. But the music I listen to makes me so happy." Indeed, she insists, the black-clad shell conceals a heart most inclined to soar on the wings of fairies. "I love fairies," she says. "And unicorns and butterflies and rainbows."

It's an answer that might hold some clues for parents asking themselves what to look for, and when to worry. The secret life of a teenager may be the core of their joy as much as a key to their misery. Black eyeliner need not discount the possibility of a silver lining. "These cultures can be very positive," says Street. "The kids are not alone, it gives them something to belong to."

Jo May, who had Stephanie Gestier in her home twice in recent months, says the most useful thing parents can do is the thing that should be the simplest but is often the hardest. "Just open their doors just a little bit, look past the make-up, and listen. Just listen."

 

Sydney Morning Herald: Loud music sending NZ teens deaf: study, September 23, 2007

New research shows seven out of 10 under 30-year-olds in New Zealand are experiencing symptoms of permanent hearing damage after listening to loud music.

The study by the National Foundation for the Deaf showed just six per cent bothered to take precautions against loud music.

The foundation said the young people had symptoms including dullness of hearing and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) - both early signs of irreversible hearing damage.

The results of the study of 10,000 New Zealanders was released to mark the start of the foundation's Deaf Awareness Week with the message: Don't Lose the Music.

Foundation executive manager Marianne Schumacher said New Zealanders were being encouraged to look after their ears now so they could enjoy music - and other sounds they love - forever.

"This research confirms our concerns that the MP3 generation is facing a hearing epidemic," said Ms Schumacher.

"Hearing loss through over-exposure to noise develops so slowly and insidiously that we often don't know it's happened until it's too late.

"The most frustrating thing for us is that it is preventable, and the precautions people can take are simple and easy to adopt."

The foundation is urging music lovers wear reusable earplugs at clubs and concerts that would will reduce the volume but not the quality of music.

People should also stand away from loud speakers in clubs and try to spend some time in quieter zones to give ears a break.

The foundation advises people with MP3 players to turn down the volume by a notch and avoid using the volume to drown out background noise.

The research showed that of the under-30-year-olds with hearing problems, listening to loud music was given as the number one cause.

"We want to ensure people take sensible precautions now so they can enjoy the sounds they love forever," said Ms Schumacher."

New Zealand musicians including Dave Dobbyn, Mike Chunn, Hollie Smith, members of Salmonella Dub and members of Goldenhorse are endorsing the Don't Lose the Music campaign.

 

© 2007 AAP

 

To obtain a copy of Plejadisch-Plejarische Kontaktberichte Block 6 visit FIGU Shop.

 

Original article on They Fly