Book Review – Love all of the People by Bill Hicks

Oh my god! You know that I have found some draft book review hanging around on my blog that I never published? Well, either way, I have. The other two posts were skeletal lists of thoughts about Consider Phlebas by Iain.M.Banks and Eden by Tim Smit. Then I found this. Why I didn’t click the publish button I don’t know, but I didn’t, so here it is. My quite detailed thoughts on Love all the People by Bill Hicks that I finished reading in January 2015!

Actually, thinking about it, I think I kept putting the review off as I never felt it was complete. Bill Hicks was quite important to me in my formative years. Here we go…

—- 3rd January 2015 —-

2014-12-05 20.26.03This book review is not really going to be a book review, at least not of the book Love all the People by Bill Hicks and John Lahr! I suppose that in a way it is, but my relationship with Bill Hicks and his philosophies go so much deeper than that.

My first introduction to Bill was on a video (VHS) that my best mate got when we were about 17. It was at the time Bill, or at least his material, first impinged on the British consciousness.  Our relationship with him grew and peaked in unison with Bill’s spark of a life. Many a late night drinking coffee and smoking fags was inspired by Mr. Hicks! In reading this book I have rediscovered some of the most brilliant routines and original thoughts that had faded from my memory over the last 20 years, becoming part of the patina of who I am more that I had credited. You could say that I was not surprised when I read certain parts of Bill’s routines about capitalism and consumerism I had to introspectively acknowledge that there is some interesting reasons why I created a blog Titled “Post Consumer”. An un-recognised, unconscious homage to the philosophy of Mr. Bill Hicks. Thank you Bill.

For the record, I also know that I am not going to be able to do justice with this review. How do you review something that was as much remembered as read? I will try to review the book, Bill and his philosophies. I hope I succeed in some small way?

Bill Hicks is the iconification of a concept that I touched on in my unsustainable post. Most people can not relate global issues to individual actions. They ask “Why should that matter to me? ” Some people understand the global issues yet can’t take the message out there or affect individuals on a big enough scale. Bill Hicks was that perfect mixture of intellect and understanding. He also had the drive, wit and outspoken opinion to make people listen. He did everything in his own unique style, but it was “the message and not the words” that were important. Bill managed to do something that almost everyone else couldn’t, and he managed to make it funny too! I suppose that requires the introduction that powerful little word “genius”?

I have a feeling that Bill was beginning to separate comedy from philosophy and politics towards the end of his life. In reading the letters and interviews in the book, it looks like Bill’s message was getting through, but that after being his first love and break though, comedy was beginning to get in the way. His style of delivery didn’t portray the real Bill Hicks’s, not fully anyway. The source of his material was always the inspection of people, the very translation of national and global problems into individual, personal idiosyncrasies, the amazement that people couldn’t see the stupidity in their actions and their beliefs. For those that understood and agreed Bill’s condemnation of these mentalities were very funny. Either they were thoughts and ideals that you had experienced, or ones that you didn’t consider as being so dangerous until Bill told you. I think that by the time he died he was beginning to feel that stand-up was now holding his serious ideas back. He was practically screaming about these subjects and all he was getting was a laugh. Bill definitely spoke to me, but I don’t think he really ever got feedback from his audiences that anything was going in. I don’t know, maybe for many others it didn’t? If he could have found a different way to “advertise” his message and still do the comedy he may have found a more successful, more harmonised balance. Keith Olberman says in the front cover of the book “With his clarity of vision and gift for words, if Bill Hicks had had any more time he might have started a revolution.” I think that revolution may be a strong word, but I also think that it wouldn’t have been as a comic.

Bill was quite obviously someone who pushed himself relentlessly into whatever he did, but that single mindedness was as much a floor as a strength. He was hoist by his own perturb. He knew it I think, but it meant he missed out. Smoking is great, I used to do it, but Bill took it to the limit and it cut him short. He rebelled against a lot of things (like ‘the beach’) that many people do, but discovered after it was too late that there is merit in these things, that’s why we do them. But Bill had to be the way he was, his intellect and opinions produced the brilliance that we all know, but maybe sometimes at the cost of the person??

One thing I was surprised at in reading the book was Bill’s religious beliefs. He was always very obviously attacking the church e.g. Fundamentalist Christians. There was also quite a high Devil content in his material “Thank you Vanilla, now send in MC Hammer.” So Bill believed in God, but not in organised religion. As I thought more and more about Bill and his routines the whole thing made more sense. I am an atheist, but I do occasionally give a nod to the sky. Not sure why, but that’s just the way it is. If I’m going to have a paragraph about God, then I have to include Bill’s (IMHO) slightly OTT relationship with various other aliens 🙂 I can see where he was coming from and the way that considering that opened the mind, but you have to admit that that was a particularly powerful batch of mushrooms!

Capitalism, consumerism and advertising. It is pretty obvious that I have an issue with advertising similar to Bill’s. The stuff is poured down our throats and you can’t get away from it in the modern world. But it is a necessary evil. If you want to make a good product and sell it to people you need to advertise. The problem is that there is a pretty obvious line where honest selling becomes manipulation and everything very quickly becomes cynical from that point forward.

Bill used advertising. His books, DVDs and shows were all advertised. His face appeared on posters, he did the circuit of interviews and appearances to achieve the success he did, but he did not step over the line. His hatred was of the other side of the line.

I have a similar problem. If I want to increase readership of my blog, then I will need to use the same processes. For me it is like the decision I made to call my blog Post Consumer instead of anti-consumer or any other more negative title. There is a place for buying things. If you don’t buy stuff good people and good products wouldn’t be made and then where would we be? The arts of all denominations need patrons and followers to be involved, and to get that you need a way for everyone to find out what you’re up to. The problem is that the whole advertising world needs a huge slug of ethical, responsible restraint and in a capitalist system that is never going to happen.

The advent of the internet has accelerated consumerism and the way that advertising is used is at the heart of it all. They are two halves of a slightly odd Yin Yang. The internet does so much good and provides spectacular access to information and learning. The internet is driven by the money that is made from advertising. The vast majority of websites make their money from advertising, and that is because it is easy. WordPress puts the odd advert on my blog so that I can run it for free. I can take that off for a small fee and add my own to monetise my site. A lot of people use this to make their living and some do it without giving a shit for anyone. Google makes it so easy, and that is why they have made it so big (and you thought it was all about searching!) The question is what could you replace advertising with to make money on a website. I dont have an answer for that yet. We need the adverising equivalent of Bill Hicks’ shooting bananas into people mouths.

So, that ‘s it, a disjointed wander through some of Bill’s drivers along with some of mine. The book is in there somewhere. It contained a large number of Bill’s routines. It was repetitive in places, but for your persistence you got to see how the routines evolved over time. The book mixed in some background and interviews that gave a good insight into Bill off stage as well as some of his letters and a couple of snippets of very powerful writing that I am truly glad that I have now read.

Oh, and I’m not even going to mention Alex Jones? A million plastic surgeries and at least two brain transplants and you might be close on that theory!

Rating 9/10 (as much because I really like Bill Hicks as anything else)

link to  Love all the People by Bill Hicks and John Lahr on Goodreads

The Consumer Views of a 12 Year Old

What follows is a piece that my 12 year old son wrote when he got annoyed at people buying things for no reason. I suggested that he should write his thoughts down, and this is the product. Chips off blocks are not mentioned, but cheese definitely is!

————————————–

People consume. It’s only human, but we need to stop and think before we make the trip to the checkout. Do you really need the item you have picked up? Do you really need five of those cheese things your mate likes? If everyone were to think like this, the world would be much cleaner and it would help Global Warming. But, I am not going to write about Global Warming. Instead, I will write about consumerism and how you can prevent it. I have already asked some questions you may ask yourself, whether they apply to you or not I do not know.

There are many more cases of consumerism, not just when shopping but when clearing out your own home. This may include phrases like: ‘let’s keep it’ and ‘for the sake of it’. If you are sure you don’t need something, then throw it. Not literally, of course, depending what it is (who knows, you may like to take a nifty shot at your recycling bin!)
Anyway, the most common form of consumerism is the ‘LET’S BUY IT ALL’ malarkey. If you have cash burning a hole in your pocket then you may be able to buy what you like, but it doesn’t mean that you need to! You should get what you need and not just consume. If you have a sustainable amount of money the ‘Ooh there’s a deal’ dilemma may be more common.

Picture the scene: There is a 4 for £5.00 deal on processed cheese (why not!) and you have heard that your cousin likes the stuff, so you spend some money on him/her. Reasonable? When you get home you discover that you have bought the wrong cheese and are unable to get a refund. Now ask yourself, where does this unwanted cheese go? If you were in this situation what would you do?

A- Bin it, no one wants it.
B- Eat it yourself, waste not want not
C- Two words: Charity Shop.
D- Keep it, who knows when you might need it.

If you said A, you need to think more about your waste. Think of all the time and effort it took to inject perfectly good cheese with horrible chemicals and ship it all the way to you. If you said B, give yourself a pat on the back to wash all that rubbery goodness down. If you said C, you are on the right track but you may be overdoing it. Just a bit…

Option D is another type of consumerism entirely: the horder. As I mentioned earlier, briefly, another way to consume is to collect and to keep. This means that when you are having a clearout, you decide to keep a lot of the things that you really do not need and won’t give a monkeys if you never see again. BUT! This does not mean that you should bin it, you should take it to a charity shop or give it to a younger relative (unless it is cheese).

Consumerism happens everywhere. Just in the space of time that I have been writing this I have seen an act of consumerism. I am not going to explain it in detail but I will state that it involved a 10 year old and an Itsy Bitsy Spider CD. One last thing: don’t think I have anything against processed cheese, you can eat rubber if you like!

One Book List to rule them all

Hello Sunday evening. Where did you creep up from?? Before I give up for the day, I wanted to update you all (or at least the Ether!) I have spent a lot of time with books this weekend and most of it wasn’t with my nose in one. Since I started the blog I have been gradually mining into my book backlog one at a time. Each time I do, I post a next book article, then I blog the review at the end. This double entry for each book takes much of my allocated blog time and I don’t get to blog the other amazing stuff I want to.

This weekend took a huge step towards resolving that. I got all of my unread books out, and I mean ALL. I organised them, then built a book list to beat all other book lists! I created one single list of all of the reading books I have left to read. I interleaved the various genres so that I get variety and I made sure that series were in order (if I have the series that is!) I *think* that there will be 160 books in the list. That’s from now, not from the start of my Quest! I also have some other books in what will become Libraries. Three main ones have been created so far: “Reference”, “Read Then Do” and “A little and Often” The names may change and I will explain all when I have my life back in order.

I’ve got loads of work still to go, including faffing around with pictures. Therefore, I think this is my first every picture-less blog post! The Horror!

I’m going to be getting the new structure in over the next few weeks, or more likely weekends. I will start with the first part of the list so we all know what is coming up, after all, that was the whole point. Then I will get funky with the book pictures I have taken. There will also need to be some updates to The Rules and stuff. It’s all going to be occurring right here, but not now. Now is bed time for Mr.Pocobooc.

Nighty night all.

Post consumer problems

I generally wax and wane between two different consumer states. In one I don’t want any ‘stuff’ at all, I dream of a nomadic life with everything I need being carried with me. In the other extreme I build up a list of stuff that I want all at once. Now these two states are not opposites. I have very very rarely ever bought something on a whim without any thought at all. I have always been very conscious of what I am buying and why, but the reasons I make these choices has changed over the years. Even with this approach to consumerism I still have a lot of stuff!!

I currently have a list of things that I want to buy, so I thought I would break from book based posts and blog my current feelings and thoughts on what I want, why I want it and whether I should consume or not?

To consume, or not to consume: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to buy, or suffer The slings and arrows of outrageously complicated decision making, Or to take arms against a sea of advertising, And by opposing end them?

I have always flip flopped between being a minimalist and being a hoarder. As a teenager I once put almost everything I owned in the loft so that my bedroom wasn’t cluttered. I suppose this no clutter tendency coupled with an understanding of the impact that all that stuff has on the planet and other people is why I’m trying to consume less. When I started this blog I consciously decided that consuming less is what I want. I wanted to consciously decided, even more than before, what I bought and why. I always spend a lot of time reviewing and researching the things that I buy. I tend to look at price, functionality and the ultimate question of whether I will use whatever it is. I have tried to add the ethical consideration and where a thing is made to this list, but that is not always obvious or an option (can you but an ethically made mobile phone?) The upshot is that I spend a lot of time looking at what to buy. This feels like time well spent if I buy the best thing to suite my needs or if I decide not to buy something.

So, below I have written about what I am thinking of buying at the moment along with a sort of stream of consciousness about what I am thinking about it…

These things to travel light (it takes stuff to be the 21st Century)

I want to be able to use my mobile phone to do a lot more. I also have a work requirement as I can use a virtual desktop on my phone so I could basically have my full windows desktop running via my phone! To do this wizardry I will need:-

  • HDMI from phone to TV
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Bluetooth Mouse

But, I’m about to finish my mobile phone contact and although my current mobile (galaxy s4) is still a good phone, it’s battery has usually died by lunchtime and it has starred to get very hot in my pocket. N.B. this isn’t because I’m running the universe from my pocket 🙂

So, do I get a new mobile phone when my contract ends?? This is a dilemma that I have at the end of each contract and I am quite proud that the answer is not always a yes. My options are:-

  1. Keep what I have
  2. Get an older iPhone (5s)
  3. Replace with new (z3 compact or nexus 6)

Tent

So as you know I’m an adventurer… I really enjoyed the camping I did over the winter, but the pop-up tent I used was bought for the kids in the garden and I have already repaired it twice (make do and mend) that tent isn’t anywhere near the end of its life, but if I want to do more solo or “adventure” camping (note the obvious quote marks there) I need a tent that doesn’t let water in through the ground sheet when you kneel on it (yep, that actually happened.) We already have a 6 man tent for family holidays, and I own a good sized 3 man tent that I bought about 15 years ago before we had the kids. This is still used if the small people and I camp in the garden… I really feel that I can justify a smaller tent for single nights and expanding my camping experience, and if I get one it should be of a half decent quality to allow me to camp across a longer part of the year. I could keep what I have, but the two other tents are so big they won’t fit into some of the places I have in mind (the pop-up only just fitted in the garden I used in January!) And I want it to be as small as possible when packed. If I could fit my tent, bed and sleeping bag into a more or less standard sized rucksack I could sneak in a camp a lot more often! I have so far whittled it down to either the Vango Blade or Helix; that might change though?

So I’m planning to consume. I’m in a quandary because I don’t want to just buy because I can or because “I want”. I want to buy things I will genuinely use and that will last.

The End (of my thought process for now…)

p.s. In writing this post I think I have confirmed that I’m getting the tent and not the phone. Maybe a new battery is in order?? If I don’t upgrade the phone I can reduce my tariff and therefore justify “spare cash” for the tent; yes, I can actually swam extra minutes that I don’t use for a tent to go outside in 🙂

Oh the problems of the first world eh!