Britrock Blog

Just another Brit in New York City

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An Escape Route Has Closed and I Feel A Little Sad

Posted by Britrock on September 25, 2010

Much has changed since the beginning of this decade for many people, if ever there was an inadequately obvious opening sentence this was probably it and it was written to preface a topic that will be scorned upon should anyone read this piece. Today something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed for ten years concluded and I was momentarily choked up at the prospect. Completing the mission has ended my solo experience with the anguish, challenge, characters and the environments of Halo: Reach the video game series.

The end is nigh

As I write, the soundtrack is playing on loop in the background and it feels rather like I’m peering back to a tiny planet as I’m whisked away in an escape pod. For those that don’t play video games, try imaging your favorite movie, TV or book series has ended and with it the place you used to escape to has closed. Imagine being the longstanding lead actor in the final episode of Lost, or Days of Our Lives or Harry Potter.

The Halo video game series offered casual gamers, that include myself and a few of my closest friends, an opportunity to take part in what’s known as a first person shooter, a game where you take on the role of the lead protagonist fighting to save earth from invading aliens. Halo was also the first game on the Microsoft Xbox game console and offered the visual perspective of seeing the world through virtual eyes, not over the shoulder or from above, and this immersed us in our universe defending role.

With that previous paragraph I’ve stripped away all the texture that created the experience and can now see it was a collection of stunning landscapes, camaraderie with my now departed alien and human contemporaries, beautiful soundtracks and earth has been saved. It shouldn’t be but is a strange sensation to feel an emotion for a video game, beyond frustration for difficult to complete gaming experiences, and makes me question why I feel almost embarrassed for really enjoying the video game. Perhaps it’s the stigma attached to video games being childish and only as an escape or perhaps… considering tomorrow marks the 36 anniversary of my birth I should really have grown out of them.

Earlier today during a conversation with a friend about my guilt for feeling an emotion about a video game, we realized that it wasn’t just a game played by murderous 12 year olds looking for cannon fodder and there are plenty of those. Halo represented an opportunity to escape from everyday adult lives and be heroic albeit in our living rooms at 4am on a week night. In retrospect the ten hours I put into completing Halo Reach were hours I wish had passed more slowly. Sure I can play it again, and there’s countless hours of multiplayer action to be had with people from all around the world online but the story is over for me and I feel/felt a little emotion. The end. I will not be ashamed. Much. Instead I’ll turn this into a thank you and compliment the Bungie team for a job well done for leaving me thoroughly entertained for the hours, days and nights I’ve poured into a video game.

Update: As I was looking for a suitable image to show you the landscapes I stumbled upon an announcement from Bungie that in its first week alone more than 70 million games of Halo: Reach have been played. That’s quite an audience.


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To be a Briton in America on July 4th

Posted by Britrock on July 4, 2009

So what does it feel like to be a Briton in America on the day the country is celebrating its severance from my nationality? Despite the one cringingly daft question I seem to get asked every year “Do you celebrate July 4th in England?” Actually that question is surpassed in daftness by a question I hope no Briton is ever asked again “Did you play Quidditch when you were growing up in England?” A dutiful yet polite “No…because I don’t know how to fly” helped settle the score on the latter question.

Nine times I’ve been witness to America’s celebration of its independence from England and every time I’ve realized, although I’m a Briton and happy to remain one, celebrations really are quite good here. Food, weather, the fireworks and the flags. Yes, New Year’s Eve fireworks in London are great, and barbecues and the British summer are also fine occasions but what’s missing is the industrious purpose and preparation of Independence Day. The cleaning, polishing and tidying things up as “Old Glory” looks down leaves everything looking brighter, crisper and shinier than at any other day of the year. In stores people are buying vast quantities of meat, beer, chips and preparing to eat and be merry as if their patronage to the flag was being questioned and by eating ones weight in salty snacks you were able to prove heritage.

That’s the curious part about the years I’ve enjoyed living in America. When asked my nationality I’ll reply British; born in Scotland of a Scottish father and English mother, my formative education and upbringing took place in the counties of Surrey and Hampshire, England makes me a person of Great Britain. Ask the same question of an inhabitant of the UK and the answer would like be English, Scottish, Welsh etc., people tend to give a more direct nationality.

The reciprocal answer to my question in America is often a little more complex. America is a nation of immigrants and almost everyone claims a mixed background. No one is technically “American.” My group of close friends includes an Italian (born in New Jersey of parents from the same state whose grandmother is from Italy), a Dutchman (born in Iowa whose parents were born in Iowa whose relatives may have been from Holland), a Norwegian-Cherokee Indian, Dutch and British mix who’s quite charming.100_0425

The neighborhoods of New York City tell a similar tale. Many of the Puerto Ricans in Spanish Harlem not far from my former neighborhood were technically born in New York City, the Greeks in Queens, and Italians and the Irish, many born on the fair isles of America salute two flags but come July 4th everyone’s American. Its a day of shared national pride. It’s a day to forget where you’re from but remember instead where you are.

George Washington Bridge carries Old Glory

July the fourth – Independence Day is a day I enjoy. Plenty of food, drink and happy people. Every country should celebrate a national holiday like this. Though perhaps the 80s nostalgic Neil Diamond accompaniments to the fireworks displays could be toned down just a touch. Happy birthday America.

George Washington Bridge carries Old Glory

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My Introduction

Posted by Britrock on May 26, 2009

When a search for “How to construct, edit and maintain a blog with multiple topics ranging from Brit-rock music to English football, from social media marketing and public relations to consumer tech, Apple iPhone apps and other stuff that happens in my life?” failed to yield the perfect resource for putting together this blog, I decided to make it up. My blog will not be a hyper-focused series of articles on one topic for that wouldn’t be the authentic Philip. With interests that cut across many aspects of life I’ll attempt to capture the elements I, and hopefully anyone reading these pieces, will also find interesting and valuable.

The “About” section of this blog will capture a little about me and what this blog will cover, however, I’m going to introduce myself and elements of what make me – Philip Robertson in this post. I’m a Brit, born in Edinburgh, Scotland who moved to England when I was very young. No, I don’t have a Scottish accent, in fact my only recognizable Scottish trait is my translucent skin which adopts in a marvelous palate of reds and pinks during the summer months as my skin cooks like shrimp. My formative years were spent on the south coast of England in and around the town of Alresford, Hampshire, the surrounding towns, villages and cities amid the green countryside.

Five years were spent in London working in public relation’s agencies, enjoying the indie-rock music scene in addition to exploring different cities throughout Europe. Which brings us upto the present and my life in New York where I’ve spent eight good years, working in marketing communications roles with public relations agencies and in marketing departments of companies.

Living in New York City has afforded me the opportunity to visit more than half the states in America, elation, confusion, fear… sorry, I probably should have introduced my random bouts of odd humor earlier in this piece. Bear with me, it will become easier to understand.

New York City is my current home and feels like a hub to me. Its a place trade, art, music, fashion etc, etc, visits if not begins in some instances, which provides opportunity to experience a wide variety of ..well.. differing experiences of pretty much everything. Touring bands stop in New York, usually only the better or more established UK acts to whit I’m largely influenced. And occasionally a band will  begin their fledgling music career in one of the smaller venues and I”ll get to see it.

Benzos at Rothko

Benzos at Rothko

Tradeshows and summits frequently take place here bringing a rich diversity of industry. Professionals, companies and people needing attention flock to New York City to seek the rapture of the influencers and column inches or time on screen. And the people of every nation live here adding flavor, flavour or ‘flavah’ depending on which part of the city I or they are passing through.

This is my justification for writing about many unrelated and different topics. I hope you enjoy them, comment section is open and there are multiple ways listed on how to contact me more personally. Oh, and if you must post spam for male enhancement products etc or other freebies please consider whether adding more of me or my offspring to this planet is really what you want for this planet.

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