Carry On Up the Amazon

I have this idea that the prime movers of our civilisation who are in the process of transforming Western society into a zombie power, a source of wonderment and entertainment for the future rulers of the planet in Asia and Africa, are not Obama, Cameron, or Miliband. They’re people on a slightly lower level of intellectual attainment – Cambridge professors like Stephen Emmott, or millionaire celebrities like Vivienne Westwood.

I wrote this article on Vivienne

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/knickers-to-climate-change/

and I thought it was time to go back and see how she was doing with her  effort to raise £120 million to save the world via her website Climate Revolution. So I googled her and found

Vivienne Westwood · Home · Menswear M tops – Shirts – Knitwear – Trousers – Coats and Jackets New Arrivals Shop Menu. basket · Shop. New Arrivals Women’s Accessories Bags – Wallets and Purses – Shoes – Eyewear – Belts – … Jewellery Necklaces – Earrings – Rings – Bracelets – Men’s Jewellery – … Womenswear Dresses – Tops – Jackets – Skirts – Knitwear – Trousers – …

OK, she sells clothes. I knew that, but what about her plan to save the world? So I googled “Vivienne Westwood climate”, and found an ad for her t-shirt at viviennewestwood.co.uk/ and on the homepage of http://climaterevolution.org.uk/ which announces:

COMING SOON… We are waiting for a more friendly structure for the Climate Revolution site, so now we want our computer Joe to do it but he’s busy until October. However we can build the site now by introducing samples of the information that goes on it.

The site has just two pages: a screeenshot of an article by Noam Chomsky on “Media Control”, and another screenshot of their handwritten charter, which I reproduce here:

__________________________________________

Get a Life, Vivienne Westwood

[That’s the title on the top of the article]

CLIMATE REVOLUTION CHARTER

Climate Revolution really  is Revolution, nothing more nor less than changing the world order so that the human race can survive and evolve, toppling the global financial machine that causes extinction and CLIMATE CHANGE: profit for the few, war & poverty for the many.

Everything is connected:

Climate crisis & economic crisis are the cause & effect of each other; they are like serpents who eat each other’s tails. The only way out of this double crisis is: WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE PLANET IS GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY

WHAT’S BAD FOR THE PLANET IS BAD FOR THE ECONOMY

Everything is connected – all NGO’s are connected.

Fight for Chelsea Manning & you fight for the bees, Save the Arctic & you save the small farmers.

Culture is connected.

Read, go to art galleries & know the names of trees & you cultivate lasting values instead of short-term consumption.

“ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL.”

-> We will now work for a new world government, – democracy through the social media.

Information is power. By following the site you are connected. You are now a member of Climate Revolution.

______________________________________

[Vivienne, can you hear me? I’ve digitalised your manifesto. Now people can read it, copy-and-paste it, do what they want with it. If your Computer Joe had done that, perhaps someone would have heard your cry for help for the planet.

Vivienne, in the time that your site has put up two screenshots, I have published 96 articles. A few thousand people have read them. I’m not a famous millionaire capitalist like you. Vivienne, give us job at a reasonable salary and I’ll come over to the Dark Side – all the way up the Amazon]

I also found this:

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/09/16/vivienne-westwood-talks-climate-change-china-and-kate-middletons-topless-photos/

which expressed Vivienne’s opinion on why you shouldn’t have children:

“Please consider if you want to have children. Do you want to bring them into a world in which 80% of people are going to die?…Within one generation we could see mass extinction. We’ve already started.”

[What? 80% of us are going to die? And what about the other 20%? Do we get to ascend directly into heaven and sit on the right hand of Vivienne?]

On quantitative easing:

“Print some money and give it to us for the rain forests.”

On the Chinese consumer sustaining the fashion industry:

“If we didn’t have the Chinese buying things, we’d be on the floor.”

On the division between people who believe in climate change and those who don’t:

“Before we have had class war, rich against poor. You know what the division is now? It’s idiots against eco-warriors. That’s it.”

Vivienne is not poor. She is rich. She’s a millionaire. Vivienne is an eco-warrior. Those who are not for her are against her. They are idiots. They are poor. Vivienne, poor people whom you treat as idiots are not going to join your Climate Revolution.

But rich people with the time and motivation to become eco-warriors might.

*          *          *

Then I went to the site of Frank Field’s Cool Planet to see how the struggle was going on the ground. There’s a lovely account of Vivienne’s Carry On Up the Amazon, complete with film of Vivienne splashing about with the piranhas. Here’s an abridged version, with my notes in brackets.

It confirms everything you’ve ever heard about the impossibility of satire. I filled my latest chapter of Apocalypse Close with cheap jokes about Vivienne, Kate Moss and Naomi Cambell, an Amazonian called Kitikati and penile sheaths. And it’s all there, (though I would have hesitated to invent a shamaness called Noemi or a guide called Jaime Pene, or a tribe who’s idea of  a fun evening is catching a frog skull on the end of a pointy stick).

http://www.coolearth.org/422/blogs-34/ashaninka-163/vivienne-westwoods-week-in-the-jungle-with-cool-earth-1860.html

By Jemma Woodman, Head of Fundraising and Communications for Cool Earth 

Day 1 London

Vivienne Westwood tells me she has just returned from a party held by Naomi Campbell, “It was very bling”. I’m really hoping that Nazario has finished building the outside toilet in the Amazon village of Cutivireni, where she’ll be camping in two days time

Day 2 Lima

I ask my colleague Kitty if the construction of shower and sleeping facilities are finished in Cuti, the Amazon port where we shall have our first night in the rainforest. “Yes, they’re amazing” she says…. We’ve done as much as we can to make the rainforest a little less hardcore but the fact is, as much as it is a beguiling paradise, it is also a harsh and unforgiving environment. We will experience both extremes…

Day 3 Mazamari

Vivienne emerges for breakfast looking wonderful in grey culottes, a brightly coloured jersey shirt, flat slip ons and an iridescent blue peaked cap. She wears this for walking over the next three days in the heat and rain, true to her philosophy of ‘buy little, choose well’. Andreas is like a tall Che Guevara in combats and we’re all a little mesmerized in our waterproof trousers (zip off at the knee) and quick dry shirts. Vivienne and Andreas are glued to the scenery but the intensifying heat sees us all drift in and out of sleep.

When we reach Cuti there’s a sea of faces ready to greet us. Dressed in a traditional corona and cushma, Cesar Bustamante stands out from the gathering. He is the village chief and instrumental in forming the Cool Earth conservation model.

Day 4 Cutivireni, Amazon rainforest

This morning Vivienne asks me where she should wash, I hand her a big bottle of water, a towel and then gesture loosely towards some trees. Tomorrow the water will be back on but storms have caused silting in the pipes. “That’s fine, I’m happy to do exactly as the locals do, I want to experience things as they do.”

The walk to Tinkereni is hot, long and exhausting. At 71, Vivienne is extremely fit, but I’m concerned about how tiring it is. When she rests by lying flat on her back by the side of a track we stand like sentries guarding for snakes and other venomous rainforest dwellers.

Deborah Ross from The Times asks Vivienne and Andreas about being fashion designers and how they feel about the glamour and extravagance of this compared to the paired [sic] down existence of the people they’re staying with in the rainforest. Vivienne is very clear that her passion now is to fight climate change and acknowledges that fashion has given her a platform to be heard and take action.

[Why on earth does providing alternative sources of income to indigenous people so they don’t have to sell their forest to loggers have to be justified in terms of climate change? Why not just do it beause it’s the right thing to do?]

That night Deborah and I are chased from our tent by an army of huge headed termites. They are everywhere and have eaten their way through a plastic bag with all of my underwear in it. They have vicious looking pincers and are shredding my week’s supply of knickers. We alert Dilwyn who is an anthropologist and has been working with the Ashaninka in this area for 30 years. He’s never seen anything like them before and makes the unconvincing suggestion of blocking the holes with corn on the cob …

[Pity they found it unconvincing. The idea of Deborah and Jemma blocking the holes in their knickers with corn on the cob is just too too divine]

Day 5 Tinkereni, Amazon rainforest, 

Breakfast is fresh papaya and plantain, which is in abundance.

Noemi is about the same age as Vivienne and remembers when her tribal community was completely isolated from the outside world. She is one of the few remaining female shaman in the region and the rainforest is her medicine cabinet. She noticed that Vivienne seemed fatigued yesterday and would like to give her a shamanic healing … As Vivienne changes, Noemi heats up rocks over a fire. She places various leaves she has gathered into a pot before asking Vivienne to stand over it…. Noemi uses the edge of a machete to pick up the boiling hot stones and places them in the water. They spit and splutter and a thick cloud of steam rises upwards. The women grab the end of the cushma and waft it furiously as the steam engulfs Vivienne. They massage her limbs with Noemi placing more and more of the hot stones in the water. I ask Vivienne if she’s ok and if she wants to stop but she says it’s soothing. After the steam healing, Noemi reads the leaves left in the pot, similar to how someone’s tea leaves might be read. She reports that negative energy from a leaf cutter ant and a black dog has now cleared.

[The above shamanic healing is what we would call a steam bath. The fire used to heat the stones used to heat the water was presumably a wood fire]

Ashaninka have put on a special day for us full of unusual competitions. The men arrive with their bows and arrows and the challenge is to see who can shoot the swinging grapefruit. Next there’s the speed spinning and finally catching a frog skull on the end of a pointy stick. Women from surrounding settlements arrive with their hand-made jewellery and lay-out the rainforest version of a pop-up shop. Andreas comments on how they look like Kate Moss with their wide cheek bones and almond shaped eyes. He makes sure the women receive an authentic experience of what buying and shopping entails, he chooses a necklace made from white seeds and waits patiently for change before moving to the next display. The crafts are all intricately hand-made using tree seeds. It’s the women’s first step into developing their own economy and has proved a commercial success. Cool Earth supplies the Environmental Justice Campaign’s temporary shop on London’s Carnaby Street. They’ve sold out three times. It’s also a serious aspect of rainforest conservation. Before the community partnered with Cool Earth, Dilwyn recalls how he met a woman in the rainforest who had told him a traveller had paid three times the amount for a piece of jewellery than a logger had paid for a whole hardwood tree. A eureka moment.

[Indeed. The great advantage of entering the world economy is that you learn about relative value, and that you’re better off selling bits of stuff made from the feathers of rare birds to rich people in Carnaby Street than whole forests to loggers to make orange crates for poor people in Peru]

Day 6, Tinkereni

We wake early to visit the largest tree in the area, the mashonaste tree. We need to cross a river and the locals use narrow rafts with a large punting stick to take us across one by one. As Vivienne clambers on and spreads her weight by kneeling on all fours… Over the last few days everyone has commented on how she never makes a fuss or expects any special treatment.

Jaime Pene, who has lived in the rainforest all his life is leading us… Then like a holy temple we see the mashonaste tree, towering up and beyond the forest canopy. When Jaime tells Vivienne, if not protected by the local people, this tree would be cut down to make orange boxes she seems visibly distressed.

Day 7, Cutivireni & Lima

The heavens open for our walk back to Cutivireni.Two local boys push their heads through huge palm leaves, creating home-made anoraks. Vivienne makes the wise decision to remove her soaking culottes and walk in her underwear, less restrictive.

Later that day, Dilwyn and I take Vivienne for a short walk with Chybucca who tells Vivienne that that for the first time she can remember, they have had hail in the rainforest.

[Hail in the Amazon? Must be global warming]

Before we say goodbye to our hosts, Ana (Cesar’s wife) shows Vivienne how to beat cotton and spin it. It’s a fascinating process. Then she quietly gives Vivienne a present she’s been making but I don’t glimpse what it is. Later in Lima we attend an event at a boutique full of young Peruvian fashion designers and industry press. Vivienne arrives wearing Ana’s hand-made headdress, the careful beading and brightly-coloured feathers work perfectly with her vivid blue trousers. She looks stunning.

Today we go to meet the Peruvian Vice Minister for the Environment, Gabriel Acosta. Matthew Owen, Dilwyn Jenkins and Carlos Montenegro lead the discussion…

Vivienne is keen to know what their commitment is to saving the Peruvian forest. After a lengthy discussion Garbiel Acosta addresses Vivienne in English.

“Please be an ambassador for the rainforests. We are very open to working with you.”

[I bet they are. Who wouldn’t be open to working with a bunch of milionaires eager to shower their wealth on your poorest, most exploited citizens?]

Now I’ve got that load of negative energy  (no doubt  due to black dogs and Englishwomen) off my chest. Cue for a song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcBr3rosvNQ

This entry was posted in Phantom Bodies & Zombie Blogs, Weirdos. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Carry On Up the Amazon

  1. alexjc38 says:

    The revolution does seem to be rather slow getting off the blocks – maybe Joe’s still running Windows 98 and needs an upgrade? For a race against imminent mass extinction, it does seem a little lackadaisical.

    I’ve done my bit anyway, and got some organic honey earlier this year – hoping this has helped Chelsea Manning, whoever that is.

    Well done, Geoff – this material is becoming increasingly difficult to parody, as it largely does it all itself! Seriously though, if all goes to plan, the next generation may read about this stuff (providing their reading comprehension is up to it and if the electricity is still working) and realise just what a cruel joke has been played on them. Or, perhaps mercifully, they might not.

    I think that Climate Revolution and like phenomena will fascinate and puzzle the scholars of the 22nd century no end.

  2. j ferguson says:

    Geoff,
    Did you invent this?

  3. jferguson
    No, it’s all true, on the Cool Earth site, at the address provided, with photos and videos. What’s slightly creepy is the number of coincidental details between my Apocalypse Close chapter 14 and the account of the Amazon trip, which I found after.
    First, I feel I should excuse myself from possible accusations of racism. No-one nowadays makes the kind of jokes about comic Africans that were made in my childhood, because anyone who isn’t a hermit meets plenty of Africans of different classes and cultures and knows that such jokes are not just offensive but as pointless as jokes about stingy Scots.
    If I allow myself jokes about nosebones and blowflutes and shamanistic shenanigans it’s in reaction to the kind of articles which we’ve all read countless times about unspoilt primitive tribes and the threat posed to their blissful primitive lifestyles by unscrupulous loggers/oilmen/admen. The progress of the developing world is possibly the great story of the century, and we’re being presented with a pantomime version by the “liberal” media.
    In Chapter 14 I just made some stuff up on the spot, with a sideswipe at the current fad for all things third world and ethnic which goes with environmentalism.
    (Once I was with a friend in an ethnic knick-knack shop in Camden Town called ‘Klong’. The friend breathed in the incense, looked at the price tags on the stuff and announced in a loud voice “Klong! – the sound of a Javanese cash register!”).
    So I had a joke about penile sheaths and Cool Earth author Jemma has a guide called Jaime Pene. I put Naomi Campbell in the story, misspelling her name as Noemi (Vivienne mentioned her in the talk at the European Union which was the subject of my original article) and Jemma meets a lady shaman called Noemi. I have an Amazonian Amazon called Kitikati and Jemma goes up the Amazon to Cuti with her friend Kitty. Awesome. Must be something that shaman lady put in the pot.

  4. alexjc38 says:

    Does Vivienne Westwood know Jay Griffiths, Lord Deben’s friend, I wonder? If not, they really should be introduced, meeting of minds and all that. Audio of a brainstorming session between the two of them – now that I would cherish.

  5. When I saw Alex’s “… becoming increasingly difficult to parody” observation above last night as I first read this, I was considering a comment to the effect of, “You mean to say that this is not one of Geoff’s admirable parodies – perhaps some notes he’d jotted down prior to writing the brilliant final chapter of Apocalypse Close?!”

    But I was diverted (not sure if it was because my cat was clamouring for my attention, or I decided that a glass of Shiraz was called for … possibly both!) and today I see that, indeed, it’s all true!

    Talk about truth being stranger than fiction😉

  6. johanna says:

    It’s very funny – thanks Geoff – the lack of self-awareness has indeed made these people into parodies without any external aid being required.

    Termites eating your knickers! The horror!🙂

    And all that sucking up. Vivienne always looks “stunning” (not liiterally, I hope), she doesn’t ask for special treatment. Why, she’s just like an ordinary person except for being a permanently stunning millionaire visionary.

    Hilarious.

  7. johanna says: October 20, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Hilarious.

    Excuse me?! Are you taking my name in vain?😉 [She says in mock hypersensitivity to that which seems to be so prevalent in far too many circles these days!]

  8. johanna says:

    Yep, that one was for you, Hilary!🙂

  9. Alex
    I didn’t know who Chelsea Manning was either. (S)he’s Bradley Manning who is currently in prison for espionage and demanding hormone replacement therapy and a name change. The Clintons are presumably responsible for his/her illusion that Chelsea is a girl’s name.
    I wondered about Vivienne and Jay Griffiths too. They’ve both been up the Amazon, though not at the same time. We don’t learn what the leaves were that went in the pot of steaming stones that Vivienne stood over – perhaps it was la medicina that Jay smoked. But Jay lives in a cabin in Epping Forest – a long way from Carnaby Street. I doubt whether their paths cross. I doubt whether the people who read Jay’s books wear Vivienne’s clothes or vice versa, but it doesn’t matter – they all belong to the same world – a world from which you and I and Hilary and Johanna are excluded because of our eccentric views. Odd isn’t it?

  10. Rick Bradford says:

    Vivienne and the Amazon make an excellent fit, as at the best of times she resembles a toucan which has been startled by a low-flying fighter jet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s