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Book Review

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Book Review:The Natashas

by Lang Reid

A disturbing book this week from the Bookazine shelf. The Natashas, Inside the New Global Sex Trade (ISBN 1-55970-779-8, Arcade Publishing 2004) looks at the human trafficking in young women and their subsequent plight.

Author Victor Malarek looks at the problem and traces the origins of the women who come mainly from the Eastern Bloc countries and are exported, like a transferable commodity, to Europe and SE Asia. In fact, buying and selling this merchandise and coercing these women to work in the sex industry amounts to a multi-billion dollar industry, so there is no wonder that it continues. In this illicit ‘industry’, with so many women coming from Russia and its newly independent states, the women are just referred to as ‘Natashas’ as names for a transient commodity are not important.

Author Malarek contends that the situation continues in Europe because the police are prepared to turn a blind eye to the whole scene, and quotes instances, names and dates. However, with the police forces being thoroughly infiltrated, where does one go from there?

Much is made of the fact that mainstream society is not too interested in the problems experienced by these women, because they are branded as prostitutes, and so ‘deserve’ what they get, being the all pervasive societal thoughts. However, according to Malarek, even the women that work the sides of the streets in Europe are being continuously monitored by the pimps who have bought them, and attempts to run away will result in cruel punishment or even death.

When you understand that these women have been smuggled into a foreign country, do not know the language, and have been told that the police are not on their side, you can begin to see why they have to continue in this sexual slavery.

There are those who will also say that these women knew what they were lining up for, even though the jobs they were supposed to be going to were legitimate, such as waitresses or nannies, and undoubtedly a (small) percentage were volunteering for the sex industry, but Malarek asks the question “Why”? The answer is abject poverty, and anything that can help feed the family will be undertaken by desperate people.

Malarek also looks at the concept put forward by many (and he cites Israel and Korea) that it is better that ‘foreign’ women are used in brothels, rather than their own nationals be used, or raped, by their native male population, which apparently is unable to control its libido.

With the national and international police and peacekeepers being paid off and UN forces being the customers, where can these women go?

Of course it is difficult to read a book like this and not draw direct comparisons with what is happening in Thailand, with Burmese women being brought across the border for the same reasons. There are also many “Natashas” working here in Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, all of whom are deported when found ‘working’ without the required immigration permits, but nothing is ever mentioned about how they arrived here, and for whom they were working.

Repetitive in places, but a disturbing read at B. 575.

Mott's CD Reviews: ElVon Frickle - Mission 4.9

mott the dog

5 Space Stars *****

Von Frickle released an album, Mission 4.9, in 2005 that demands you prick your ears up and listen to them. Believe me when I tell you that in the very near future Von Frickle are going to be the leading band in their chosen field of rock music.


Von Frickle is an American quartet from Eureka, Illinois, but they proudly wear their British progressive rock influences on their sleeve. In Von Frickle’s music you can hear a little early Floyd, and the controlled violence of The Who from the Who’s Next era (but you must remember that The Who influenced almost every rock musician of that era), but mostly King Crimson. There is nothing wrong with showing where the roots of your music come from, as long as you have put your own defining stamp on it, which Von Frickle certainly have. The first difference the casual listener will notice is that there are no vocals with Von Frickle which in comparison to King Crimson is a good thing as let’s face it, since Peter Sinfield left King Crimson in the early seventies Crimson’s lyrics have been a load of nonsense anyway. The skill level of all of Von Frickle musicians more than makes up for any wayward vocals.

Who is Von Frickle? Well I am not totally sure as the only photos of them in the very well designed CD cover are all of them in stage attire of which they chose to remain uniformly anonymous in colourless suits adorned with heavy duty eyewear. It may sound a little odd and quite frankly it is a little odd. But then Von Frickle ARE a little odd.

The music on display here on Mission 4.9 is very angular stuff. Chopping guitar riffs, combining difficult time signatures, with space jams that drill their way into your subconscious without you even realizing it. As each song assaults your senses you are aware that this is musical science fiction. Although the guys in the band lay down the blueprints of each song, you personally can interpret each piece on its own merits and your own personnel mood.

The first time I heard opening song, Kablam, it brought to mind the soundtrack to a particularly vicious repetitive nightmare with its driving crisscross rhythms, driving deeper and deeper into your fears before allowing you a few relaxing seconds to wake up and put your fears behind you, then out of nowhere, grabbing you from behind and plunging back into your worst fears. Clever stuff. Of course I was not quite so scared the next time round, but I do not think it would be a good idea to play Kablam again late at night unless you had your teddy firmly wedged under your arm and the nightlight on.

Von Frickle are led by the faceless Lee Fehr, who wrote single handed six of the pieces on this album plus had a finger in the other three. His guitar playing is nothing short of excellent, combining heavy riffing with some splendid solo work. What goes on in this man’s head is something that most of us will never want to know about, but at the same time we are always glad there is someone out there prepared to show off their visions, so we can have a quick peek, and then retire to a safe distance.

Tim Pierson has nailed the bass work to the space rock mast of Von Frickle and in the same way as Lemmy did with Hawkwind many moons ago, he has been skilfully heavy handed with it, leaving your speakers in tatters if you dare turn the volume up past eleven.

Ken Thornton is the ship’s engineer to Lee Fehr’s captain, making sure that at all times the good ship Von Frickle is at warp factor 8, laying down a blanket of sound with vintage keyboard flourishes and following Lee Fehr’s guitar and synthesizer work in almost classic rock style.

But the jewel in Von Frickle’s musical castle is definitely the drumming of John Ganser. The man never even remotely sounds like missing a beat; in fact his crisp drum sound is almost leading the songs on the heavier up tempo numbers. If Bill Bruford was the drummer’s drummer, there is a new kid in town.

Not all the songs have the nightmarish quality of Kablam. Unlike most bands of their ilk there is only one truly epic number, the very eerie mood piece POD, which closes the album, clocking in at eleven and a half minutes. The rest are more like short, sharp shocks, before the next song drags you off into an entirely different direction. Look out for the two minute mark in second song, Cranium Controller, when the whole band comes crashing in on the riff together - a great rock ‘n’ roll moment.

The whole band takes it one step further, really wigging out on Attack Of The Giant Eyeball (great thing about instrumentals, you can call them whatever you want). Terra Firma Exodus provides the listener with some wonderful soundscapes, a slow moving piece allowing one to dream of being in a multi coloured lava field, as the molten metal weaves its pattern around you; beautiful atmospherics.

Then, just before the listener or the band themselves are allowed to take themselves too seriously, we are all slapped on the back of the head by Protoplasmic Squid Eater. If some of the other songs by science fiction comparison are from Stanley Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey 2001, then Protoplasmic Squid Eater is from the TV sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, a hilariously heavy version of The Flight Of The Bumble Bee. I am sure when this is played live on stage by Von Frickle they have all got great big Martian sized grins wrapped around their faces behind the masks.

Von Frickle are:
Lee Fehr: Guitars, Roland GR1 and GR33 Guitar Synths
John Gasner: Drums, Moog, Vintage Keys, Roland SP020 Drum Pad
Tim Pierson: Bass Guitar, Farfisa Organ, Moog
Ken Thornton: Guitars, Ebow, Vintage Keys

Cranium Controller
Petri Dish Incident
Attack Of The Giant Eyeball. (a) Evil Eye (b) Retinoblastoma
Terra Firma Exodus
Protoplasmic Squid Eater
Zombie Stomp

PODTo contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]