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Manchester came and went in a blur. Things happen that way when you arrive at 6am after flying out of NY’s JFK airport less than two weeks after Sept 11th. I happily report that I was frisked, patted down, questioned, prodded, waved across with metal detectors and made to walk back and forth through security gates. (Order me around you security guards. That’s just the way I like it!)

After several large tumblers of Vodka in the British Airways’ lounge I was emotionally suited for a 7-hour international flight. Then after a nap, “The Heartbreakers” and two passable meals served to me with safe plastic cutlery we touched down in Manchester.

I was swiftly picked up at the airport by Anthony Wilson who runs the “In the City” conference that I was attending and who I later learned was the founder of Factory Records. (Forgive me Mark Robinson, my failure as a punk rock scientist is now fully revealed.) Aside from his historic punk rock standing, I was simply amazed that the person in charge of a 4 day music conference couldn’t find someone else to pick up the lil’ American activist from her “crack-of-dawn” airport arrival gate. I’d been warned by Peter Jenner that Anthony was a bit of a nutter…but in the best way” which is of course the way I like my nutters. After a charming mini-tour of Manchester he dropped me off at a snazzy hotel where I promptly crashed.

The rest of that evening consisted in a late night walk through the surrounding neighborhood where I was surprised to see an incredibly spiffy gentrified city center… with all the chain stores you see everywhere these days. They were literally tearing down old Starbucks to put new ones in…there were so many of those around… Gap…Bodyshop…McDonald’s…etc. Manchester… so much to answer for.

To top off the evening, I went to see Moulin Rouge. It was so bad that even the group of 12 year olds in the seats in front of me kept turning around and asking me when I thought it might be over. (I wish I knew…certain particularly rank images continue to hang in the air of my consciousness like the creeping odors of certain European sewage systems). When I hit the streets the bars had closed and I was surrounded by packs of drunken, rubber clad and high-heeled women and bellowing blokes. The next day someone told me a good Manchester slang term for the weekend warriors who doll themselves up, in 5-inch heels and then get so drunk by 11pm they can’t stand…though I can’t quite remember it now. Maybe it’s right that they close the bars at 11 in this country?

The next day I did the speech with Peter Jenner (ex and current manager to the Clash, Billy Bragg, Trex, Pink Floyd and also “an old Socialist fogy” to quote him on himself) . It went very well. Peter began his career as an economist, which makes him super fun to speak with about these issues. It’s unusual enough to find activist/rockers but to find ones that are not intimidated by numbers or economic structures…that’s rare and valuable. Speech went well…It is somewhat more fun talking about the failures of the music industry in front of artists. Later we had lunch and Peter told me about a great idea he had about creating new Taxonomies.

Tax�on�o�my (tk-sn-m)
n. pl. tax�on�o�mies
1. The classification of organisms in an ordered system that indicates natural relationships.
2. The science, laws, or principles of classification; systematics.
3. Division into ordered groups or categories: �Scholars have been laboring to develop a taxonomy of young killers� (Aric Press).

He feels that all artists have a responsibility to put lists of the music they love and are listening to on their site. If we are going to decry the media machine we need to work to build alternatives. Makes sense to me…

I’d much rather know what Rufus Wainwright is listening to than to know what Spin Magazine is plugging. So you can watch for that section on my website in the future. (And by the way, myself, I’ve been listening to Rufus).

On a final note, Maria who has been helping me to build this site has just taught me how to add photos to these posts. This is a photo of a fella named Harry that I met on the last night of the ITC conference.

It is his fault (an the fault of his super clever friends) that I stayed up till 2:30 when I had to get up at 6:30 for my return flight to the USA. If you see this photo I will have succeeded in learning to do another interesting website thingy. Take heart technophobes!

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