Wednesday, 31 March 2004

Wole Soyinka chats to Alice Thomson at the Telegraph:

Wole Soyinka, the first black African to win the Nobel Prize for literature, has spent his life prodding and poking danger. For more than 40 years, he has been goading the blood-stained parade of military dictators in his native Nigeria, once even holding up a radio station at gunpoint to take over an election broadcast. He was imprisoned for two years in solitary confinement, accused of treason, sentenced to death in absentia and has spent much of his life as an exile with no passport.

Now nearly 70, he still acts like a fugitive. His flat is next to Hyde Park, yet he refuses to go for a walk and never chats to anyone else in his apartment block. When we meet, he is wearing an anorak and trainers, with a bobble hat stuffed over his cloud of white hair, and opts to talk in the entrance hall, perched behind a pillar, in case he needs to make a speedy exit.

"It's a hangover from being followed everywhere by hit squads," he says. "I've spent too many years looking over my shoulder.''

Now that the regime has changed in Nigeria, he should be able to relax. But he believes that the world is more dangerous than it has ever been. His Reith Lectures, which will be broadcast from next Wednesday on Radio 4, are on the subject of fear.

"Africans are used to living with the smell of blood. But this new kind of terrorism is worse than colonialism or Hitler; it's worse than the Cold War. At least, then, dialogue was possible," he says.

"Hitler was a bogeyman, but we did not fear him at a visceral level - he was a straightforward kind of enemy. The capitalists and Communists were made up of responsible people who were prepared to communicate. Every time it looked as though we were on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, the protagonists found an alternative solution. Both sides ultimately wanted to live.''

He says that the CND marches he once went on were enjoyable carnivals. Now, when the crowds come out, it is to mourn the dead. "We have finally reached an apocalyptical situation where the fundamentalists don't mind whom they kill or if they destroy the world.

"There has been a total erosion of boundaries; absolutely no one is safe. This new movement isn't rational. The enemy even preys upon its own kind. It wants to transform Islam and the Arab world as well.''

Soyinka was on a plane from London to Los Angeles on the day the Twin Towers crumbled. He asked the steward why they had been diverted to Cardiff. When he was told it was because of a security problem, he shrugged and settled back to write on his computer. He carried on writing on the bus to his hotel, and in his bedroom. It wasn't until eight hours later that he turned on the television and saw the images of the two planes hurtling into the World Trade Centre.

He doesn't believe that this was the moment the world changed. "September 11 was not the beginning, nor the culmination - it was a signature scrawled all over the consciousness of the world. But this nebulous formation had been growing inside our intestines for a long time.''

In the north of Nigeria, there was rejoicing at the events of September 11. "The big bad bear had been given a bloody nose. They torched churches and attacked Christians, but there had already been huge religious tensions that the West chose to ignore until they saw their own people tumbling out of the sky.''

For the past decade, Soyinka's poetry has concentrated on condemning religious fundamentalism. He has disowned the northern states of Nigeria that adopted Islamic law and has spoken out against stoning to death and amputation. He even promised to escort the Miss World contestants on to the stage when they came to Nigeria - "to stop the zealots getting their own way".

His consuming preoccupation is trying "to oust tenacious monsters". In his books, plays and poems, he is even-handed in his condemnation of colonialism, African dictatorships, military regimes and now, Islamic fundamentalists.

President Bush's rhetoric is as dangerous as that of the al-Qa'eda operatives, he says. But, I ask, how else could Mr Bush have acted after his country was violated?

"If I had been the President, I would have tried to find out who the perpetrators were and then I would put the evidence in front of the United Nations. I would have made it clear that this was not a crime against one nation but against humanity, and everyone had to act together to overcome it. It would have been a lumbering process but it would have kept the world together.''

He doesn't take issue with the invasion of Afghanistan. "The sympathy of the world was with the Americans. When they invaded Afghanistan, they were a stricken nation," he says. "It is when they started talking about ‘weapons of mass destruction', ‘the evil empire', and ‘the axis of evil' - when they used language geared to whip up mass hysteria - that it all went wrong.''

He is adamant that the Americans and British should never have invaded Iraq. "They lied to the world. They had absolutely no right to invade. Iraq had fulfilled its UN requirements. It had let the weapons inspectors into the country. America had made up its mind to go to war and didn't care that it had no proof. But you can't just invade another country on a whim.''

Even after the invasion, America could have rescued itself by trying to make amends with the United Nations, he says. "They were just so arrogant. They went out of their way to weaken the UN - it was the worst thing they could have done; their errors amount to criminality.

"The American government had no proof of weapons of mass destruction, quite the opposite. It knew that they were unlikely to exist. Saddam was not a global outlaw - Iraq was a member of the UN. What they did in Iraq has contributed enormously to the climate of fear we now live in. There is no question that their extremist attitude escalated the extremist action on the other side.''

Soyinka, currently Woodruff emeritus professor of the arts at Emory University in Atlanta, says he will give up on America if Mr Bush wins the next election. He is less scathing about Tony Blair. "He is in a different category from President Bush. His motivations are more honourable and idealistic. He may have talked about weapons of mass destruction, but he saw Saddam as a menace to the world. If only he had said that he was trying to topple an evil man, at least it would have been honest. But it would still have been colonialist. There are other ways to destabilise a dictator.''

When Soyinka agreed to do the Reith Lectures, the BBC had little idea that he was so strongly against the war in Iraq. And he was not to know that the corporation would be censured by the Hutton inquiry and attacked by the Government for being institutionally biased against the war.

"It was so British to have an inquiry into one man's death rather than the war, but I don't think it changed much," he says. "The BBC is still trusted by both the Arab world and the British and American people, which is more than can be said of their governments."

He believes nothing will be resolved until there is a solution for Palestine. "The Arab and Muslim world's emotional attachment to the issue of Palestine is grossly underestimated by the West. The Israelis blowing up Sheikh Ahmed Yassin has moved the spiral of terror into a vortex which is deeply frightening.''

But it is to America that Soyinka returns again and again. He is horrified that it has been keeping prisoners of war in Guantanamo Bay. "You can't keep these prisoners in cages and chains and in isolation for years, without any trial. It takes all their dignity away," he says. "What would Britain have felt if the Germans had treated their prisoners of war like that? Look at the fuss you still make about the Japanese POW camps. These unacceptable double standards are appalling."

The second of six children, Soyinka grew up in an Anglican mission compound where his father was a school headmaster; it is to him that he credits his sense of right and wrong. He owes his spirituality to his mother - "although mine went in a different direction". Rebelling against Christianity, he was drawn to the traditional Yoruba worship of his grandfather.

He blames religion for inciting both the terrorists and Western leaders. "Bush and Blair are very religious. I am very suspicious of anyone believing they have a direct line to a deity. Bush is a worse case than Blair. He is a dangerous fundamentalist. Christian fundamentalism is dangerous because they have righteousness on their side. But to carry fundamentalism into politics is more dangerous still.''

Blair, of course, was guided by his moral certitude to call for an ethical foreign policy, and to promise to help save Africa. "I haven't noticed him doing much for an ethical foreign policy or for Africa, but his heart is in the right place. He is instinctively against dictators. Take Zimbabwe. He has intensified the pressure on President Mugabe. It is time for the Africans to do the same.''

After studying at Leeds University in the Fifties, Soyinka spent a brief spell in Paris as a café singer and guitar player, but, for most of his adult life, he has been a political activist fighting dictators, overmighty countries and religious fanatics. But he is also well known for his many works of prose and poetry. When they gave him the award in 1986, the Nobel committee called Soyinka "one of the finest political playwrights to have written in English".

His writing, however, has been criticised by some for grandiloquence and obscurantism. Ben Okri, whose own book, The Famished Road, owes its title to a line in a Soyinka play, says: "He deprives us of a great deal of wisdom with the fury of his complexities."

Soyinka wrote in his prison memoir: "The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny" - but he says he wishes that he had been born with a different temperament. "Life would have been much easier. I could have stuck to commenting on humanity rather than getting involved in it.

"But I don't care if I am more notorious for my political activism, because I could never have remained passive. I act instinctively; it would be intolerable to live in this world without trying to change it for the better.''

Although he is always prepared to run, he has lost all personal fear. "When I was first imprisoned, I was fearful because I thought they would sully my name and I could never defend myself if I died in jail. But then I realised that once you are dead, it doesn't matter anyway. Now, I sometimes enjoy the adrenalin of difficult situations, being part of history, in the thick of the turmoil.''

When the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by the military dictator, General Abacha, Soyinka fled the country with a death sentence hanging over him. "I fled by motorbike, over the Benin border, plunging into the forest of demons on a sputtering two-wheeler. That's when I knew I had lost my fear.''

Nelson Mandela admits that his personal life suffered as a result of his political activism, but Soyinka feels no guilt towards his family. He has had three wives and admits to an "over-healthy relationship with women". He has also had many children, but refuses to count them. "In our tradition, we don't. My attitude is different. My children have been brought up to realise that there is no point in railing against your family circumstances. You just get on with it - you are responsible for your own life. They have been used to an absentee father from the beginning.''

He doesn't miss domestic life. "There are rare moments when I wish I could enjoy family life and friends. I do meet with my family occasionally, but when I have to leave, I don't miss them or yearn for them." His only hobby is buying up African art and paintings - he says he gets a "vengeful thrill in repatriating antiquities from the West''.

These days, he calls himself an itinerant lecturer, writer and political activist, while his third wife calls him an itinerant husband.

"I spend a third of my time in aeroplanes, a third in the West and a third in Africa," he says.

"But I will go home to my village in south-west Nigeria one day, to where I was born - a place called Abeokuta. I have already chosen the piece of turf under which I shall be buried.''
it was actually Radian Sathiyamoorthy's brother-in-law that was shot and killed by his side, apparently.

Most observers assume it is only a matter of time before the northern command...resolve the dispute in their traditional manner: bloodily.

Jim Sheridan OTM
a timely reminder, indeed
Rajan Sathiyamoorthy and his driver, are dead/

RIP Rajan Sathiyamoorthy, & yr driver.

don't even know his name.:-(

Monday, 29 March 2004

one more thing that should definitely be mentioned - i'm sure many people might already be familiar with this but anyhow - is that the current issue of Private Eye has a superb feature on PFI written by the indefatigable Paul Foot.
it is a fine read and will (if you're anything like me) make you, frankly, angry; angry with successive governments, Labour and Tory both.

can't find it transcribed online anywhere at the moment but Nick Cohen mentions it in a discussion of PFI here.

and welcome back Ian Penman~
Twista's lyrics get him in trouble
one idea George W. Bush has in the immigration arena is to let people (a majority of illegal migrants in the USA are Mexican) in, for a period of three years, let them work, and then let them attempt to renew these three year visas. this story (caution, opens with pop-ups) from a few months back, has some views on the proposals.

why does it not surprise you that the Congressperson from Colorado is the most outspoken supporter of restricting immigration [think of Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation']?
'old school' w' vince vaughan. that's a good laugh that, good knockabout fun.

the Coens doing the ladykillers, i think this is a pretty good summary of where they're going wrong.
Comida de Santo: so fine
Zeno's caipirinhas sound like they keep on keepin' on.
Kofi Annan's regret
April 7th has been announced as the international day to mark the Rwandan genocide's tenth anniversary.

what with the above laudable public fretting from Kofi, and all the hoo-hah surrounding the OFF ballyhoo, should Kofi be considering his position?

ritual calls for resignations are normally seen as kneejerk round here, like i'm sure many readers maintain, but something about these ones...
i like the Black Bloc...[via ne quid nimis]
the Featherstone W.M.C. is located on Green Lane, Featherstone: {Wakefield 7 is the postcode believe so anyway}.

it has an airy atmosphere and does turns. one time i saw a turn that had come from the east midlands area to do some hi-NRG/live puppet show combo, it was quite bizarre but very entertaining. some weeks they have the bingo.

the Guinness is not for afficionados, there is no gap in pouring it but the salted peanuts (though bad for you) are excellent.

the lager is good, and the chatter lively. rugby league and Leeds United are popular. prices are reasonable but some of the ale is pretty badly kept on several visits, TBH, imo.

once, in a pub down the road, a local wearing a Newcastle United shirt attacked a man with a Birmingham accent, accusing him of "talking poncey".

as mentioned before, there is a greasy spoon on the high street (close to the celebrated RICKY FIDDLES KIDS graffito) that does a superb fry up.
Marseilles, Marseilles, you're parfait

i.e., i love you.
never having been to Milan, i would like to know where exactly Chinatown is located in that city.
if one can be serious for a second, can we throw a link to here [proposal to change Cambridge University's Campaign against Iraqi sanctions group to an Iraqi Solidarity Group] blogginess
one of the trinity, that’s true. too many rock fans (just that i personally know, even if that’s
only several, it’s still a bit unsettling) do seem interested in Lady Day’s later raspy
self-destruction when it was all more ‘real’, supposedly. doesn’t one end up with basically
self-regarding voyeurism (Shirley Manson in the NME once described Holiday as the first
punk, or some such label)? it’s a rum do, and no mistake, guv’nor. maybe it’s all that need for
icons floating around the ether… …you can’t put all your shells into the Swirlies or Medicine,
after all, can you (the irony of railing against rocky iconoclasm tendencies when focusing in on a
single personality ourselves, yes).

the subject of tonight’s adoration, Matthew, is that self titled one ‘Sarah Vaughan’, originally
a 9 track LP on EmArcy. in the CD age (well, 1990, Schillachi’s Golden Boot and rain in Bari)
it got reissued as a ten track ‘…With Clifford Brown’.
December 1954, NYC, this session. Brown himself is on trumpet, Herbie Mann flautist (“even Mann
doesn’t disgrace himself” snorts the Penguin), Paul Quinichette t/s, Jimmy Jones on the joanner,
bassist Joe Benjamin and Roy Haynes on skins.
Ernie Wilkins arranges, also.

if you’re listening to a compact disc, the chances are overwhelming (well, okay, maybe) it’s
the Verve Master Edition, 543 305-2, a 2000 “compilation”. it’s technically a compilation
because of all those extra tracks and such that we’re accustomed to with the Verve remastering
process these days (they do spoil you). in this case there’s one bonus track, a “partial
alternative take” of ‘Lullaby of Birdland’. the original listing is
1. Lullaby of Birdland
2. April in Paris
3. He’s My Guy
4. Jim
5. You’re Not the Kind
6. Embraceable You
7. I’m Glad There Is You
8. September Song
9. It’s Crazy

hot damn/
was going to write on this, but keep getting stuck on 'he's my guy'
say what you like about Saddam, at least you didn't have to nail down the furniture
Robin C. is quite right, i do need to think more.
rest assured that 'The Cult of Manchester' is as "corrosive" for people from manchester - such as myself - who don't buy into it, as for anyone from outside that area.

Wednesday, 24 March 2004

good - Abdel Aziz Rantisi's assets ordered frozen by Gordon Brown~
and remember:
it's the fish that John West reject that make John West salmon the best~

i'm labouring the point but i really wuv this blog.
the philosophy and lyrics is a great entry, f'r instance.

i know i'm flattering this blog if i compare it to silverdollarcircle but i think there's something about the two blogs that bears comparison, mainly in that there's a lot of flailing emoting going on (i'm sure Simon wouldn't mind if i made observations along this line) and the like; i reckon somedisco's nearest relation, blogswise, is silverdollarcircle (having given the matter a little consideration).

he's charmingly disarming.
in trying to illuminate some of the commonality between extremists at either end of the spectrum (w' specific ref. to anti-Semitism) this CSMonitor article, unfortunately, lapses into a lot of over-simplification.

Hitler's party National Socialists, sure, and rhetoric against the non-Gentile capitalist (etc.) bleh bleh, but the Nazis were no friend of the Joe Public trade union, as any 12 year old history student knows right?!

'sloppy journalism breeds irritated readers'.

and trying to put together any thesis (note, i shouldn't of course even have to point this out, but will do out of some sense of wishing to be fundamentally clear: i'm not denying the essential truths behind some of these charges, far left and far right movements are both more susceptible to anti-Semitism than the average moderate and so on) that uses Robert Mugabe as a serious example shows a distinct naivete.

everyone knows Mugabe is an utter biscuit (and Mahathir Mohamad is a bit of a loon), so - yunno - why bother...
THE TOFU HUT on Afro-Peruvian diva Susana Baca, and plenny' more besides.
after having finally heard 50 cent's 'fuck you' i can confirm, whatever else we think of the man, he has at least three brilliant songs (i.e., the ones i know of), in his repertoire. Nas beat-digging in full effect, a strangely scratchy TREAT/

not heard the album mind, and given i suspect it's crap i won't be investigating either like. also his other singles are, well, one's not a fan (a cynical man would type rubbish and so's G-unit but that's not me...)

tom lehrer taught by Quine??

how does silverdollarcircle even know these things??


i only just found out this morning that Lehrer was a Harvard mathematician.
i can honestly say i never knew that.
just found out that tom lehrer used to be a student of W.V.O Quine's. that makes me quite happy -silverdollarcircle.

me too.
as y'all may know, manchester is blessed with a fine east asian restaurant scene, including Europe's finest Cantonese, the admittedly fookin pricey Yang Sing.
for a small city centre its diversity is exhilirating and it certainly beats rivals like Liverpool or Birmingham into a cocked hat in that regard (tho' for reasons of honesty i must 'fess up possibly my personal prejudices in the box marked PROVINCIAL ENGLAND SIT DOWN SCRAN are, if not the curry caffs of mcr's northern quarter, or a decent greasy spoon anywhere, then the multifaceted gems that are a good balti house in brum or the urban black country, more sandwell say than bits of dudley innit - i do like me italian and french and lebanese grub and modern british and pub food &c but baltis: well...).
be that as it may, this sounds promising, Raymond Wong, the man responsible for well-regard Chinatown fusion place Pacific (Thai-Chinese type palace), has just opened Moso Moso on Oxford Road, opposite the Contact theatre and Big Hands bar (indieville studentland in other words).
hard to please journo Andrew Fraser - in this morning's rag - is rhapsodising over the almost club-like vibe, late dinners (it's open from 8.30 in the morning to 2am), decor, keen pricing, the sinfully musty hoi sin and apparently the best ever beef he's tasted in a Chinese restaurant. wow!

anyway, there's been some notably great sounding openings in the mcr restaurant scene over the last few weeks, but i'm immeasurably optimised (that ain't a word is it...) by Fraser's conclusion that The southern corridor of the city is, and no doubt will remain, dominated by Indian cuisine, but Moso Moso seems set to give the curry a run for its money.

all hail Ray Wong!
gosh, there's some grumps in Maff's comments box, step forward Mr k-punk. ;-)

i can't be doing with too strong defences of backpacking from indie snobs i know, listen to everything and as widely as possible w' an open mind, that'll do.
respect is - once again - due to Maff

(he is of course right and all these fashionable magazine people are WRONG)/

Tuesday, 23 March 2004

Geeta adv. the boys about really getting it on
Tom Hurndall, a young man from London who was a student in Manchester, was shot last April whilst in the Gaza Strip; as an international observer he was at a Palestinian refugee camp when the incident happened. he was shot in the head and soon after fell into a coma.

Tom Hurndall died in January of this year.

Tom's mother, Jocelyn, has long maintained an Israeli investigation focusing on a 'rogue soldier' might actually have been a scapegoating exercise.
now the Hurndall family are appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court for access to a full disclosure of info' surrounding the killing.
Excuse Me For Laughing mentions Joe Sacco and also - over in Iran - a cartoonist i'm ashamed to admit i've never heard of...good stuff.
i don't think Luka likes Howard...
Paul Mile Long is discussing his mate Jim (hey, and look who it is on Jim's links-bar, none other than legendary Kenickie man Kieron 'Brem' Gillen!) asking Paul to write a piece on reggae.

in celebration of all this scenius gubbins, here are some links to good things on scenius:-

-SR interview with SAB
-Erik Davis
-from the horse's mouth
meantime, i mean but wheesh, commenting up a storm over at k-punk are the blogging massive oh yes.

love Luke on Michael Howard's favourite theorist being Georges Bataille...
one of my new favourite blogs is, without doubt, Lexicon Devil. i suppose points of reference are a dash of Agony Shorthand (one of the best blogs on the face of the planet, natch) and a side order of whatever 'chatty asides hut o nutritive goodness' you favour when you're looking for that coffee/donuts combo fix you often crave during the afternoon slump.

i really enjoyed his S&D job on Sub Pop and the artists he hates producing "choons u luv" bit.
well you can't argue with that

Ian 86400 mentions Bang on a Can's take on 'music for airports'.

i saw them do that once and it was pretty nice. someone told me they didn't like the too bombastic BoaC approach, but i remember getting all shamanic like and swaying around dervish-style at their reaching out~
Jon discusses 'Loveless' (showing why he's a fucking don)
Sean Acid's fascinating interview w' Shystie {that 'real life city of god' documentary sounds very interesting too}
one, two, interviews with joe sacco.
essential reading

Oliver Wang's Shangheezy - Shanghai travel diary.
also Shanghai Surprise - an earlier such diary.
the sound of the city music, heh.
testing the waters of slowjam desire
Pepe Escobar
meanwhile, in South Waziristan/

well, you certainly can't dispute the essential truth behind Shaul Mofaz's declaration that Hamas is a strategic enemy of Israel~
Gavin Bryars can do no wrong at the moment however.
i'm promised a copy of Sylvian's 'Camphor' and am suitably intrigued.
check this AMG review tho' (ouchh!!) has more here about Soulja Slim's alleged victim, and how prosecutors believe there is not enough evidence to charge Garelle Smith, a man linked with the murder of Slim himself.
you might have to scroll down a bit to find it, but here on 'genius' is superb.

The Mile Long Shadow of a Cooling Tower, 86400 seconds, silverdollarcircle, little dog's day, and The Devil Dances In An Empty Pocket, i think they're all mates actually and they're all lovely.
any long time readers of this blog might recall us following the violent death of N'awlins rapper 'Soulja Slim' last November with no small interest, but now it seems that Slim himself is being looked at, posthumously of course, as the prime suspect in a(nother) murder case. here has more, thanks to No Rock&Roll Fun for the link.
Craner really is accurate isn't he: Crushed between two fascisms: state and theocratic.

oh boy.
George Monbiot on the need for a new intervention charter


The survey that the BBC conducted in Iraq last week is shocking to those of us who opposed the war. Most respondents say that life is now better than it was before the invasion
is it shocking?
surely not?
i'm just genuinely surprised anyone sensible wouldn't have been able to predict this. the fall of the regime and - okay we're on shaky ground here, and of course there are many, many problems, some severe in my view (that's hardly a controversial thing to write of course ho-ho...) - its replacement with a form of government that's going to get things moving forward for ordinary Iraqis, and not - sorry to be visceral but let's be frank - dropping its citizens in acid baths:
how could anyone be shocked by this?

also, purely from a language POV, sometimes (not all the time, i admit) shocking can be meant to imply a sense of negative judgment too, if you're shocked you're often upset with what's gone down (although you can be shocked in happiness too).

oh, in case you missed it in the news last week, Monbiot is referring to the
Iraqi residents' survey (personally speaking, the findings didn't surprise me in the least; in fact one would expect those sorts of findings).

then there's a lot more stuff about the war itself yadda yadda neo-imperialism blah blah, some of which personally i agree with and some i don't but (aside from being pompous enough to write 'some of which i agree with and some i don't') i'll not bother to go into that here because, well, why bother, because that's a specific cause and i don't take myself too seriously and i'm writing this blog with PC windows open looking over from my shoulder so as not to get a bollocking off the boss, so it's hardly like i've decided to settle down and write this on a Word file, then type it up (but most blogs are run like this one ain't they? alas, the WOEBOT/Craner/Dale,etc. method of actual reasoned research, with, like, forethought and all that, is less common...). blah blah absolves myself of responsibility for (the invariable) half-baked views forthcoming blah blah.

i am going to offer my two penn'orth on some of Monbiot's analysis and conclusions of interventionism, however, because that's a general thrust that Monbiot is sketching, and that's something even a tossed-off thing can't ignore.

But I would rather a flawed power intervened in a flawed manner in the Congo than no one intervened at all.
yes, quite right.

Just because other countries cannot invade the US to free the Chagos islanders does not in itself constitute a case against invading Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein.
again, quite right.

This is that as soon as we accept that an attack by a powerful nation against a weak one is legitimate, we open the door to any number of acts of conquest masquerading as humanitarian action.
this is of course the strongest argument against a free-for-all inspiring (well, that is what everyone fears, of course) interventionism in practice, but:
As Chomsky points out, Japan claimed that it was invading Manchuria to rescue it from "Chinese bandits"; Mussolini attacked Abyssinia to "liberate slaves"; Hitler said he was protecting the peoples he invaded from ethnic conflict. It is hard to think of any colonial adventure for which the salvation of the bodies or souls of the natives was not advanced as justification
all well and good as that is, i'm not as worried about it as Monbiot clearly is.

it is a worry but some of the examples which he mentions seem to me, to come from the era of Leopold in the Congo. all that jazz.

whatever your views of (and there's some very mean-spirited and patronising things written about him in the press, of course) George Bush, (and alright, maybe you think he didn't deserve to win the election considering he got less votes than Al Gore and i'd agree with that, but i'm pragmatic so there we go...) he isn't one of the dictators invoked above, he isn't presiding over a militaristic regime like war-years Japan (the figures for civilian deaths in Iraq since the invasion have been truly sickening and a sorrowful shame on all western brows but - and i apologise if you think all these historical parellels are crass and disrespectful, but Monbiot is using the locus {or whatever the word is} of history to outline his views, so if it's good enough for him... - but we haven't had our own Rape of Nanking-rewrit for, say, the Scouring of Basra, have we now__), he isn't presiding over a dictatorship like contemporary China, and the American government is far preferable to the current, increasingly authoritarian, Russian leadership.

of course, i'm not so naive to think if China wanted to do something really distasteful in Xinjiang, say, or in Tibet, it wouldn't invoke the invasion of Iraq (because it would; indeed in recent times we've been able to read from one rights watchdog's site that In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, the People's Republic of China has offered strong support for Washington and affirmed that it "opposes terrorism of any form and supports actions to combat terrorism." Human Rights Watch is concerned that China's support for the war against terrorism will be a pretext for gaining international support-or at least silence-for its own crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region) as one of its justifications, but frankly it just seems that Monbiot is worrying a little too much about the consequences of an unfettered unilateral interventionism. of course part of his job is to worry for us and articulate our fears in eloquent newspaper columns, so more power to his elbow. but the Chinese government have been fulminating badstyle in Tibet for years, and we ignore that. for instance.

i don't think it's unreasonable to believe that intervention by democratic powers carries somehow a tang more legitimacy than action by a brutal dictatorship.
perhaps this is a monstrous thing to write on my part - after all, people die in the same manner whether it is from a smart missile delivered from the benign (sic) airforce of a universally enfranchising pluralist kinda govt, or from a bullet delivered by a soldier operating on behalf of a brutal one man/one vote kinda govt - but it's something i think.

what Russia has been doing in Chechnya for the best part of a decade (For Moscow, it is simple: Chechen rebels are terrorists and must be destroyed.

But on the ground in Chechnya, government supporters and rebels are sometimes hard to tell apart.

Rebels who change sides are absorbed into the pro-Russian government's ranks without question. Many do not demand independence, while the government is increasingly assertive towards Moscow.

Moscow's bearded footsoldiers in the region, with their mismatched uniforms, Kalashnikovs, and habit of firing volleys of gunfire as wedding parties drive past not only look like the people who defeated Russia in 1996 -- they are the same people
; from Reuters today) hasn't required any retrospective justifications taken from invading Iraq, say (although the Russian administration has been crudely making political capital out of the events of 9/11 whenever Mr Putin points out the need for western nations to stick together against terrorism)~

the bottom line of his conclusion about To deny it is to tell some of the world's most persecuted peoples that they must be left to rot. is powerfully elegant, OTM stuff.

It seems to me that there is no instant or reliable answer to this dilemma.
is also OTM... ...the UN charter is of no value in this arena.

i'm not at all sure about We need a charter that forbids nations with an obvious interest in the outcome from participating (perhaps, but possibly misguided idealism should sometimes not be allowed to impede what could be best-case practicalities),
and whilst the first formulation in but only when a series of rigorous tests have been met, and only when an overwhelming majority of all the world's states have approved it seems very reasonable, the second part of this sentence is a bit dubious to me. tyranny by a powerful minority is of course an issue that many people are worried about, but tyranny by a (regionally biased blocs, perhaps?) majority is worrisome too. of course that's not what Monbiot is saying, i'm just saying...

all in all, some good stuff, and arguments aplenty, and all that finery of debate to be continued.
one final thought from Paul@The Mile Long Shadow of a Cooling Tower: However, I'd like to see the best 401-500 albums. I want to read lists that represent mediocrity./

i mean, no offence but there's no way on earth a list of the best 401-500 albums (whether of just popular song [i.e., rock, pop, soul, funk, most everything else that comes outta, well certainly particular western countries and more broadly modern western choons rite: sorry i'm not going to bore any reader by thinking up po-faced typologies but you'll get what is meant...], or encompassing jazz &c too) of all time wouldn't be anything other than packed with sheer brilliance.

i suppose what i was trying to say about that Stylus list is it's a lovely list with some nice albums but if you're going to slag someone off, and make such a relatively big deal about tired canonicists (both in a pre-amble and the occasional aside), don't be repeating any other nu-canonical (heck, not even nu_ i guess, it's pretty much the case that, say, such taste-forming behemoths for a certain kind of indie kid are - i'd guess - Stylus and Pitchfork in equal measure these days) cliches yourself. i wouldn't even be mentioning any of this of course, were it not for the manner in which the good folk of Stylus chose to construct their introductory broadside.
also from Paul, A new debate: which ska revival song best represents the genre? I reckon it’s the Beat’s Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret medley. It symbolizes the concerns of the movement, both musically and politically.

that's a really good question. off the top of my head, i certainly can't think of anything better than that suggestion.
Paul@The Mile Long Shadow of a Cooling Tower brings some much needed balance and clarity to the imaginary ska debate i was having with myself, backed off from an SR post...;-)

Paul points out how wonderful it is to historically trace the developments of (finger-lickin) Ranglin's (muy) good eggs fretfunnery, but also he enjoys - and who doesn't, when you get down to it? - also like to sing “You’re going to get your fucking head kicked in” at my friends.
really, you can have your cake and eat it.
i suppose.

i feel like an editor of Cosmo.
it's not that stoopid to do charity work for UNICEF in Sri Lanka surely.

Monday, 22 March 2004

to Ian 86400: =

that Other Music night in Sheffield is mostly to do with Discus Records, 'believe.
i adore their ‘Medulla’, by Transient v Resident, martin archer and chris bywater (processing, electronics, etc.), w’ derek saw on trumpet, benjamin batholomew on acoustic guitar, and kamalbir singh’s exquisite violin on the soul and vision expanding 34 minute (yes, three-four…) track ‘culm’.
they still run tings outta PO box in Sheffield 10, that’s still the case.

another film about migrants into the west, but from the POV OF the people-traffickers!
’Spare Parts’ may be bleak and somewhat shapeless, but it’s an intriguing addition to a brave new genre.

most recent issue of the wire special
the more i learn about new wire editor Chris Bohn, the more i like.
elizabeth cotten and not that samantha brown taking you to the other side.

good looking advert in the latest wire for an ayler boxset, due on Revenant in October.
the legend reads “Trane was the father. Pharoah was the son. I was the holy ghost.” kinda cool in building up an appetite.

‘Everything hinges on reduction, he concludes’.
_of Dean Roberts.

how wonderful is Keenan’s phrasing?
on Jack Rose, he writes His own compositions, ferociously personal visions for acoustic guitar, are populated by the same American architecture, echoing with long gone songs of itinerant bluesmen, ragtime musicians and dance orchestras who spoke in tongues too feral, crude or ecstatic ever to soundtrack a beer commercial.

‘The only groups I remember liking in the early 80s were The Birthday Party and Throbbing Gristle.’
-Masaki from Ghost.

a good Morton primer on Cecil Taylor, apparently Marcello was not a fan of his primer on Mingus the other month, but this one seems okay. this is a nice extended one:
After the death of Caesar, Rome divided the known world into three; after the death of Charlie Parker, critics set about redrawing borders that had been blurred by alien incursions. As with the empire, a triumvirate was at hand. The most familiar sounding of the new dispensation was John Coltrane. However extreme and extended the method, his fiefdom was vertical harmony, the chords of old and well-loved songs. From the south came the raw tones of Ornette Coleman, whose experiments concentrated on the interaction of melody and rhythm, a warped mishearing of Parker’s bebop fused to ancient blues. That left the murky province of ‘atonality’ to Cecil Taylor.
What was assassinated this time was the truth. Even as the crudest sketch, this map of modern jazz makes little sense. Coltrane was also a sublime melodist, who in later life became obsessed with the untapped possibilities of rhythm. Coleman’s music was premised on idiosyncratic harmonics, either visionary or fraudulent depending on your point of view. Most seriously, Taylor’s music is no more atonal than Arnold Schoenberg’s music is ‘serialist’.
{Schoenberg preferred “atonicality”}/

David Stubbs does well with a review of Spektrum, Clive Bell gets rightfully excited about a 7-discer on Ocora. dig the sound of Agram Blues compilation album ‘The Truman and Eisenhower Blues: Africa-American Blues and Gospel Songs, 1945-1960.
Peter Shapiro pronounces the subjects of the newest Soul Jazz reissue job, Konk, as poster boys for the whole post-punk revival. fancy!
other good:
David Toop’s fine and dandy recontextualisation of ‘Smile’ after seeing Wilson hawk his wares at the RFH.

about a few months or so back right, there was a feature on LA rapper Busdriver in there, Mosi Reeves did it in the bites column (complete with half-arsed flaming of crunk) but i do like Busdriver, be that as it may. but the point is i’m pretty sure i remember (i can’t be arsed to check my archives, but i reckon i remember this) i mentioned Busdriver for the first time ever on this blog about a day before i read that new wire, with Busdriver in it. just fancy that eh?! you know what this means eh?
i hardly ever mention Max Roach at this blog but if we mention him a bit he’s bound to be on the next cover of the NME, y’getme?


Sherburne gets to talk about “Chilean expats putting a curious Latin stamp on European electronic music”---->
Dave Tompkins (does Ingram like him? it’s hard to say from the one charming piece at TWANBOC that i recall, swapping cards with him and stuff, i think it was homage to the style best described by Jon Dale as ‘Planet Tompkins’). listen to these:-

“Too much Ancient School throwdown rap is jocked for obscurity rather than quality.”

“Someone recently misidentified a Gang Starr sample on a TV ad for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a sign that it’s a good time for a DJ Premier/Jay-Z retrospective.”

“Clearly, there’s not enough L Ron Hubbard in rap these days.”

“If someone put a gun to my head and said ‘rap ballads’ or ‘hip House’, I’d bite the ballad.”

“Dejected bear mascot thinks college is a bunch of ho/frat hooey and a Cosby sweater so he samples Michael Bolton and turns a nail file into a ‘Trans Europe Express’ hi-hat.”
[that last one about Kanye West].

it’s ELIZABETH Cotten that will stay with me~

the early letters of Isaiah Berlin.

why is Tariq Ali apparently afraid to debate with William Shawcross?
we have some form, last year Tariq refused to take part in a debate on patriotism at Oxford because i was a participant. Some time after that, when we were both talking about Iraq on Radio 4’s Today down telephone lines, he started shouting: “Shawcross is a fool”. It was rather funny…it is wrong of the BBC to allow any potential guest to censor another
the plot thickens.

in the other day’s sunday telegraph arts supplement, paul morley has a review of the ‘Pusher/Reich show at the RFH (Cage is Dada hip-hop, supposedly). it all seemed a bit half-arsed to me, to be frank.

matthew d’Ancona was apparently named political journalist of the year at the british press awards, which is good cause his columns are judicious and informed. trog was, rightly i think, named cartoonist of the year, beating Luka’s favoured Steve Bell, which is at it should be.


a startling event: Left Hand Right playing a score to ‘A Page of Madness’: old silent Japanese film about a caretaker and his shenanigans working in some sort of Bedlam place. definitely one for the In The Nursery do Vertov file, if admittedly with added beats.

there was a Yasujiro Ozu season recently, which was nice to see the quite mundanely heartbreaking ‘The End of Summer’.
still not sure what i thought of ‘kitchen stories’. it was like a strangely ordinary dream set in a proto-IKEA advert.

‘Zatoichi’ is nice: think i’ve already seen about three different critics mention how it’s a bit like a far superior ‘Kill Bill’ and, by jove, they’re right.

‘Los Lunes Al Sol’ and ‘Poligono Sur’ two nice efforts of Spanish films recently, the former shipbuilders sitting around, the latter some sort of docu about gypsies living on an estate somewhere in Spain. both really quite fine.

“Premier collection”
Premo CD-R from lad at work:

Gangstarr ‘Full Clip’
Nas ‘Nas is like…’
Gangstarr feat. Scarface ‘Betrayal’
Jay-Z ‘So ghetto’
50 Cent ‘Fuck you’
Nas ‘New York State of Mind Part 2’
Gangstarr feat. Jadakiss ‘Rite where u stand’
Jadakiss feat. Lox ‘None of y’all betta’
Gangstarr ‘Play 2 win’
Notorious BIG ’10 crack commandments’
Jay-Z ‘D’evils’
Gangstarr feat. Total ‘Discipline’
Rakim ‘When I B on tha mic’
Nas ‘Memory Lane’

best film of the year is probably the experience of hearing a piano/violin/theremin accompaniment (from Neil Brand on the joanner and Celia Sheen on the other instruments) to ‘Der Golem’, an old silent German film that’s, well a horror about a clay monster. the golem’s voice is a theremin.
utterly astonishing, really.

compilation tape for one of the brummies, following his recent gift to me, soaked in with the body snatchers, father’s angels, the dramatics, yellowman and fathead, tlc, lady day, james brown, and detroit spinners’ goodness (among other treats):

the bangles ‘walk like an egyptian’
mancini/royal phil. ‘the pink panther’
carly simon ‘you’re so vain’
candi staton ‘young hearts run free’
booker t & the MG’s ‘green onions’
chic ‘le freak’
bill withers ‘lean on me’
the mccoys ‘hang on sloopy’
tony bennett ‘chicago’
woody guthrie ‘dust cain’t kill me’
ali farka toure ‘tchigi fo’
peter gabriel w’ nusrat fateh ali khan, jon hassell, youssou n’dour &c. ‘passion’
traditional tihaman chant (‘wadi mawr zar’)
aylesbury allstars ‘buss red light’
the surgery ‘shott the weed’
special delivery ‘countdown’
junior murvin ‘roots train’
junior reid ‘one blood’
welton irie ‘stone a throw’
jay-z ‘dead presidents II’
the 45 king ‘funk box’
mike ladd ‘planet 10’
akufen ‘little hop of horror’
robert wyatt ‘at last i am free’
stina nordenstam ‘under your command’

the Khmer Rouge docu ‘S21’ was chilling in the extreme, without showing anything (as such).

It is hard to believe that Professor Bernard Lewis blames the Arab cultural, military and technological decline on “the failure to capture Vienna in 1683”. It was the Ottoman Turks who besieged the Austrian capital and they were not Arabs but a people of Central Asian origin who did not speak Arabic, although they had adopted the Arabic script when they converted to Islam.
Moreover, the Turks ruled over most of the Arab peoples until the latter were stimulated by the British to revolt in 1917. Since 1928, thanks to Kemal Ataturk, Turkish is written in a slightly modified version of the Roman alphabet.

- Neville Beale, SW3.

‘Brannigan’s March’ was off-key, road story, a bloke stumbling across Yorkshire with a doom-mongers’ sandwich board strapped to his back, finding wonder and a reckoning.
one final (half-baked, as per) thought about the adbusters editor responding to his critics.

they ask if half the neo-cons were Palestinian, would the allies still have invaded Iraq?

i'm inclined to say yes.
i dunno, they'd be Palestinian-American right?

i clearly do not know, but recognising that the two-state solution is the best way forward for Israel would presumably be recognised by a Palestinian-American neo-con hawk, but would an immigrant neo-con's American experience/estrangement from experiences in the Occupied Territories/yadda yadda make differences?

OK, so i'm immaturely shrugging out some probably unrelated spin on the ideas the editor raised and then running off without thinking of the consequential answers, but you're allowed to maintain gut feelings/
but he went about it, in the first place, in a bit of a rum way.

i apologise for unformed half-opinions, perhaps i should actually try and think of a cogent response (i can sometimes know what i'm on about, well vaguely so anyhoo...) and post it when i'm not at work.

but i probably won't...;-)
if we know sometime to be a particularly hawkish proponent of ideas that are very pro-Likud (say), then criticise by all means.

one bottom line is that criticism of neo-conservatism doesn't make you anti-semitic (or indeed, anti-american).

which in one sense is all the writer of the article needs to say to his critics.
cause obviously my opinions are insightful...
adbusters here responds to concerns surrounding its 'anti-semitic' article, and the outraged emails from fuming readers, are, if nothing else, fascinating reading.

i suppose whilst it's a shame that some of the angrier emails lapse into mere insults and name-calling (i appreciate the palpable fury - palpable! god that's an undergraduate essay word eh?! - is coming from somewhere sincere but even still it's like a politics message board frequented by biscuits eh...) but i'm still not entirely convinced by the adbusters defence.

OK, so a lot of the neo-cons are Jewish.
but the bloke defending his phrasing (and of course i don't really think he's anti-Semitic for a minute: do you?) still has a bit of the disingenous about him with the way he points out 'why not say the neo-cons are male, or western?'.
there's pointing out the obvious, and making insightful comments that appear obvious in retrospect, and then there's, well, hitting children with your handbag (sorry, these mixed metaphors are shit).
the real point is, as detractors of a neo-con position would outline, is that neo-cons are primarily likely to possess some, shall we say, intransigent views on Israel and the Palestinians etc.
bringing in ethnicity, someone's religious affiliation - well - frankly, that just strikes me as irredeemably cheap under these circumstances.

a cute point about intellectual thuggery (and very arguably it's an extremely valid point) is all well and good and i realise i'm not being very nuanced here but something about the original article makes me think of an idea i've long held for an imaginary crudely satiric piece (lampooning the Mail on Sunday, since you didn't ask...) [with sample headline KLEPTOMANIAC AFRICAN DICATORS ARE ALL BLACK REVELATION &c.__you get the picture.]


~my chin is now in Dublin~

this lucky pup has just bought themselves the big stax-volt singles boxset (NINE discs!!)
maybe it's the arrival of David Stubbs in the blogging world, but The Rambler's semi-job on 'loveless' is a pleasure, and persuasively made.
[i'm especially red-faced, as 'loveless' is one of the 'token rock CDs' i got...]
whoops again!

my bad.

Sick Nouthall has been politely canvassing opinions on that stylus list over at ILM: if i could remember how to post there i'd probably respond, as it's only polite.

ah well [sighs]....

not that that list is necessarily making any big sounding claims, but i though i knew what i meant at the time...
you could say the fact i like fado and reggae and early American roots means i'm a bit removed in terms of tastes from the average 'what's going on'/'pet sounds'/'forever changes'/'a love supreme' jonesing rolling stone reader.
and that therefore criticising that list is me missing the point.

but i don't think those personal facts about my lack of rock/canon credibility necessarily diminish the force of my objections.
if you're going to be (alright, just a little bit) critical/mean-spirited about the orthodoxy and you're doing it from the point of view of a (relatively professional 'proper' music reviews website after all, stylus ain't just A N Other Blog) margin-walking fresh new thing; oh, i dunno, this sentence is collapsing into the tossed-off half-formed morassic mess it undoubtedly is.

i guess one thing i think is if you're gonna make a big sounding claim, back it up convincingly y'get me...
of course i got mad wuv for Stylus magazine. big up their (collective) chests.
what would have been cause for a slight raised eyebrow in that list, coming as it was from stylus, would have been some, say, grace jones, or some geto boys, or some papuan field recordings.

yunno, imo...

didn't barrow et al re-release 'heart of...' the best part of a decade ago now?
even all my MOJO/uncut reading mates have a copy!
on a serious side-note, i'd love to know the B&F sales figures, i wonder sometimes how many more copies they've sold of heart of the congoes over that, say, that trinity set they've got?
i bet it's a fair bit...;-)
Stylus Magazine's Top 101-200 Favourite Albums Ever
-{via auspicious fish: sorry, i dunno how to do the proper title as it appears...}

some good reasons both one way and the other for arguing about lists, and i'm sure any readers - like many people - might come down somewhere in the middle?

be that as it may, i do think that What they also are, generally, is predictable; the top ten of Rolling Stone’s recent 500 Greatest Albums Ever poll could have been picked by a computer program designed to devise the most canonical canon ever, making the exercise largely redundant is a bit unfair.
well, What’s the point in telling people yet again how great Astral Weeks or OK Computer or Pet Sounds are? Especially when we’re at a point in history where we’re beginning to finally realise that you don’t have to follow the canon rigidly in order to enjoy pop music; that, in fact, the canon only exists because people say it does and other people listen is a reasonable point, but i think it'd carry more force if one was surprised by any listing in the stylus top 101-200.
as it is, and i know this is a twattish thing to write, i was not surprised by any of those entries.

don't get me wrong, i love some of those albums in there as much as the next person, and there's bound to be something most likely near anyone could find to like in that there list. but it seems a little churlish, perhaps a tad ungenerous, to call out the big dinosaurs when - by degrees - everyone is related to everyone else, taste-wise, some way or other.
i mean, look at the rap albums: nas, dre, raekwon, GZA, outkast, missy: you could have said that for sure, eh?

i don't want this to sound like a pedantic nitpicker ignoring the joy and life of a bunch of wonderful people choosing music they adore- that's the bottom line after all - but feel it a bit remiss to slag the likes of R/S or Spin and then produce your own indietronica/etc. friendly groupings.
masthead fun

scaring jess harvell since 2003
haha, he's done it!
of course The House At World's End is exactly right with his latest observations about united fans, the republic of mancunia, all that.

all, repeat all, the younger united fans (i don't know if this is crucial, their being younger ones, but it would be an obvious and easy causal step, so that's why i make this clear) i know have no love for the national English team, and are very much into the idea of getting away/over to the USA.
what this says about the absurd and surely played out narrative that the likes of Richard Kurt cling to (i.e., my beloved 'united fans are all internationalist sophisticates who have cool haircuts and listen to the stone roses ONE LOVE not like those bad haircutted citeh thugs who listen to oasis' trope they bang on about in places like red issue), i dunno.

also, very OTM about the manics fiery valleys/bevan/all that/mascara among the miners down the pub, type beginnings, and their upbringing informing their politics.
i don't know, for some reason claire allfree's (in the free commuter metro paper) vaguely rockist cheerleading for the new NERD album irritates me a little.
86400 seconds on 'Imagine'
Malaysia embraces a secular future
We give no value to statements [by Eta]

_well said.
fresh impetus in Biggie case.
Death scene: Les Baxter, "Prelude in E Minor"
Closing credits: Sly and the Family Stone, "You Caught Me Smilin'"

genius move from nate.
what's the betting some pseudo-hipster gets the cantus in memoriam of britten down in their death scene?
or the E-T-A as Mr Bush had it, or just 'the ETA' as one's read at more than one American website.
anyway, enough of this unseemly catcalling, a far better thing for any reader wasting their time here is to go and browse a quite lovely listfing from slap dee barnes
{equally fine Hipster Detritus original here}
Iain's got some interesting stuff up (dateline yday) about the search for those responsible for the atrocity in Madrid.

i must admit myself, i'm still not yet fully convinced Eta haven't played at least some part in all this.
Chris Hitchens on Burke - via Harm~

also, Hitchens is exactly right about Conor Cruise O'Brien's "masterly" meditations on Burkean thought.
once again, Oliver says it all/
I'm So Sincerr [on 'liberal rhetoric at Adbusters leaving them cold']
Madness in their more expansive/orchestrated flourish (fistful of kinks records in yo back pocket) moments as a low-carb Left Banke, yeh i like that!
actually, i find it very hard to even listen to the likes of the selecter these days. i picked up some of their stuff i'd not seen before a few years back at manchester's vinyl exchange that was 'ooh! looks a bit rare, i'd have that', but it went west within a few weeks, TBH w/u.

you may as well label the ethiopians a rocksteady fissure group (that is, they anticipated rocksteady so completely, that you could argue the music they were producing up&to&and&in&and&past the rocksteady 'era' even was up with the best, like say alton ellis, of that form) so perhaps simon's point stands. in that there aren't many big big names from the original ska that loads of people still vibe off today.
there again that's not the fault of potentially undiscovered gems is it, if listeners are lazy.

but really the ska revival of 2-tone only gave us the specials in the canonical camp right? were madness more celebratory everything inc. the kitchen sink as they progressed? certainly they were 2-tone but then later on it was all Baroque-lite flourishes/blue-eyed soul gubbins. actually, to change my mind - again! - within one paragraph (i'm always doing this...) that shouldn't detract that 2-tone gave us - in the first instance - two stone colds.

to Qasim (txting style):

that txt u sent me bout th KFC ad was quality/hilarious pal!
i deffo agree w'u about that, fucking rite load o bollocks.

i haven't replied cos i hav no credit, sorry.

cheers chuck. :-)
if you haven't yet, you really do need to go and read Jess on the sexlessness of rap/crunk&grime sexiness comparisons &c. here
just been given a 'best of' Premo cd-r off a mate. more later.
another from het graun: Avi Shlaim
mass factional violence has been reported in Herat
from what i recall of my kerrang reading days etc (mid90s mostly), this here from AMG on the 'third wave ska revival' sounds accurate (oh the tricks of foggy memory)
i guess most folks are into the cooling down that was rocksteady (Ken Boothe!).
the SoCal pop-punk uses for ska nowadays are shocking though, all them fat wreck chords bands are due a forensic analysis from one of you electronica or underground/experimental writers though!

interesting, all the energy the likes of, oh i don't know who it is, the likes of dancehall crashers are well popular with a certain type of ver kidz and fair enough like (i used to quite like both Sublime and the Bosstones, and really you gotta like 'just a girl' eh?), their energy is simply astonishing.
Simon: Revivals that are an Improvement on the Thing They're Reviving. Unfortunately I could only think of one example in the second category: 2-Tone vis-a-vis the original ska.

Sorry mate, but that's bobbins (and i realise a simon review of some reggae compilations in uncut is still one of the two or three best reviews i've ever read in there, was that his "ocean of sound" characterisation one?).
if you like the selecter or english beat that's your business, but i'm afraid even the genius of the Specials (and of course they were), or the wondrous perky pop percolations of Madness are not enough to compare with the quality stylings of the godhead that was leonard dillon's the ethiopians, or even the skatalites (tho' i've never been big into the intstrumental side).

i don't know if Simon is not big on the original ska cause of its robotic, jerky propulsiveness yadda yadda and so something he once wrote about justin frischmann being into it and it was the 'least black' (hey i'm treading on dangerously murky ground here but just kinda rephrasing something of simon's once i recall reading) facet of Yard pop (i really don't know what i'm on about, as you can see), but i'm afraid i will get into fights and all manner of busted teeth/mark twain roustabout hilarity to defend even just the ethiopians, yea and verily, even against the outfit that gave us 'ghost town' and 'nite klub'
Dear Jon,

enjoy yrself!

much wuv to you mah boy,
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is dead

Sunday, 21 March 2004

Jon on Pop Ambient 2004
totally we're not worthy
Jim photos the gherkin, great shot.

Baal: absolutely unmissable "Maybe he once kissed those thighs - now leered at by half-drunk, bored 'dads' dragging their noxious, fat, unloved offspring"
saw 'infernal affairs' at the pictures a few nights ago, rather that than '21 grams' which whilst sounding pretty bloody decent i can't help but recall the comments about letting a little light in, to what might have been overall more resoundingly successful effects ('amores perros' is ace of course).

be that as it may.

i suppose 'infernal affairs' could be criticised for the very usual non-english language reasoning of tacky-ish subtitles. there was also a strange way with a plot, some odd side characters, and what cynics would decry as unnecessarily intrusive and sometimes plain bad incidental music (which i thought was just right and largely brilliant even when it was obviously signposting in the manner of all the averagely mannered average American TVMs, because - crucially - this was a film set in Hong Kong and therefore NOT Topeka).
i found it really good though, TBH.
the death of the superintendent (literally falling from the sky means a genuinely seat-jumping moment) was affecting and everything was handled nicely.

very good, very well done, brilliant spectacular backdrops, Triad double-crossing, powerhouse and SUPERB performance from the gang boss, all that.

Scorsese is in on the American remix, with the hero (who dies, and btw somewhat resembled Aussie soccer player Harry Kewell) slated to be played by Brad Pitt. i'll not hold my breath.
Still Drifting: Australia's Pacific Solution for Refugees

Refugee Council of Australia | What's Happening
of course he was brilliant in 'our friends in the north'.
one of the thigns i like about chris eccleston is you rememebr that itv drama where he played christ last year, an ordinary chap in mcr, come again as the second coming?

well, there was one bit that nearly moved me to tears, such was the way it struck me, erm, the bit where his mate has been shot dead is it? Pete, the asian lad. cause there's all these devils been sent to earth's surface to try and stop Christ/Eccleston, in the form of ordinary people, and one of them possesses (or whatever, i had it on doing the ironing or sumfink) Eccleston's father, to try and shoot Eccleston. but Pete gets in the way.

anyway, Eccleston knows that the chief of Greater Manchester Police is the main devil in the area, and it was he who sets the old man up to it (you can tell the devils by the entirely unsubtle plot device of a malevolent glimmer on their irises). Christ walks away unscathed of course (cause his mate's just bought it) and sees the Chief. he simply looks him in the eye and said something along the lines of 'i forgive you, my son'.
which - momentarily, for a brief glorious pause - gives the heretofore supernaturally abundantly self-confident and EVIL!! Chief such cause for checking himself and whatnot, that it just struck me, right, right there
just the way Eccleston delivered the line.

i'm sure he'll be OK la as Dr Who.
writing of the BBC, the news bulletins today were showing images of the demonstrations to commemorate the - one year on - illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, bleh bleh.

now, and i realise this is an obvious point to make (i'm always writing that eh...) but no apologies for using the word but in such a casually cliched combative way: WITHOUT getting into ANY debates about the legal or moral, rights/or/wrongs, about the invasion and subsequent occupation &c of Iraq, ONE small POINT of order.

would the protestors carrying banners urging Allied troops out of Iraq ASAP please reconsider their slogans? just, yunno, reconsider yr slogan for - oooh - a minute there.

what do you actually think would happen if western troops pulled out of Iraq entirely by the end of this weekend?
what do you think would happen?

your answer may wish to sketch out security considerations.

Dear William Safire,

we all have off days.

but to prove - in one simple paragraph! - you can be guilty of professional fuckwittery!!

pls either resign and give all yr salary to cancer charities in the big apple, or just shutdafucup unless you can guarantee change.

Officials at the anti-Israel BBC, which has long blatantly sided with Palestinians in its Middle East coverage..
- William Safire in the New York Times October 2003.

i beg yr pardon?

you get this trotted out now and again and it's simply untrue.

consider the human consequences horrifically clearly on show whenever Orla Guerin reports on a suicide bomber walking aboard the no. 19 and blowing themselves up. the Beeb's cameras unflinchingly record the stark reality of vile acts from sickeningly morally bankrupt individuals, cheered on by their supporters, political pygmies all.
clearly to be anti-israel per se is to be politically bankrupt. this is not a charge you can level at the BBC.
it is a charge you can level at, say, the al-aqsa martyrs' brigade.
since when did the most respected and still i'd say finest., international tv news org get confused with a vicious and depraved terrorist bunch of thugs?

this much anyone with access to a television set in modern britain can easily discern.

but to say the BBC is anti-Israel is a grave slur. as a friend of Israel, we do not have to be zealous Sharonists. it's all the old cliches anyone knows themselves, yadda yadda, criticism not making one an anti-semite blah blah will this do?, but really, that's bad from the -bullishly- hawkish Safire.
in fact, i'm surprised one read it in the NYT, some craply simplifying tabloid or whatever, sure maybe, but the alleged paper of record?

typically idiotic right wing american drivel.
Interviewer: How many records would you say you actually own?
Little Louie:Probably about between 15 to 20.
Interviewer: Fifteen to 20?
LL: No, 15 to 20 thousand. Kenny owns about 30.

'The American military rarely takes action in cases of friendly fire. If they did, there might be fewer of them.'

_John Simpson.

Jon Dale's on fire innit, as is Luka's 86 bus talk in a smaller way.

Lamb is a miraculous meat, robustly withstanding strong flavours, showcasing subtler vibes without overpowering them, brightened by fruit, bouncing off tomato, enlivened by herbs. It is the most eligible meat in town_so sayeth Andrew Fraser, reviewing new shack Petrus on Upper Brook Street, of which he VAY promisingly concludes "(manchester has some fine middle eastern restaurants, but) this could quite possibly be the best yet".

Saturday, 20 March 2004


I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

-- D. H. Lawrence
pomes pennyeach
{the name of a fine old Staffordshire bookshop, i remember it fondly}

A Drinking Song

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

-- W. B. Yeats
oh here is dan's mate Sid (half a Jainist apparently, or rather semi-Jainist, an interesting theological proposition y' ax me), his grandmother cooks wonderful wonderful Indian food.
don't take the piss but peter gabriel's 'the passion' is really floating my boat at the moment.
oh, and of course Bruce Haack.
i forgot to say dan's off to paris soon on his hols, the same time his mate's going to valencia, valencia i've never been there. love to.
dan from is with his mate down in finchley, he's bought some ACE sounding records there (mostly tracky tech-house, funky minimal things, theme), fucking top lad, and he likes his whisky. and aubergines, i told you!

big up.
chris eccleston to be the new doctor who i like that, and i like him. not just because he's a salford lad, but he's a good, brooding, flecked with something or other, presence.

and channel 4 sports reporter sue turton was an extra on doctor who once apparently, as a sea vampire!

Ibrahim arrived with his friend Mahmoudi. I could feel their underlying suspicion, their anger and bitterness. It wasn’t just the white community that blamed the Somalis for taking their jobs, but the black Afro-Caribbean population. The reality was quite different: there were between two and three thousand Somalis and only ten or fifteen had jobs, mostly with the local council.
- Nick Danziger.
Clover on great songs
Jon Dale in 'still prime bark psychosis dude' shockah!
Sick Nouthall/Chris Ott unfair/not OTM

[i guess i don't go to ILM too often huh!]
Ronan/nickalicious/N. OTM
Oliver Craner.
i mean, for fuck's sake.
Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be the drummer in the rock band Gay Dad.
This wants to be a breezy Francophile comedy along the lines of An American In Paris, but there’s too little chic and too much Kate Hudson for that to be a possibility.

i must apologise there’s been so much flapping at this blog of late i’m about to pack it in bcos it’s been really shite, some comfortable liberal mouthing off like the twat i am, but will try and change it and make it more interesting and readable was just thinking that this afternoon, god the old blog’s been fucking shite lately, far too much moaning, comfortable but not old oak way mannerisms, it needs less pretense and whatnot.

i think Britney’s lovely, she’s just nice: leave her alone Nebraskan puritans!

‘AFRIKAANS leef nog sterk - Talent2004 Skryf nou in vir die Talentkompetisie van die Jaar en staan die kans om 'n CD opname en pryse ter waarde van R200 000-00 te wen. Besoek ons by vir meer inligting.’

well i don’t know what any of it means, but it sounds nice. you can gather a lot of rand are at stake, certainly, and i’d say that’s the main thing.

CD:UK this morning.

50 cent and g-unit. 50 cent (homophobic nitwit and all) has at least two brilliant songs in his repertoire and that widely available mixtape thing of his you can get on CD pretty easily these days is also absolutely ace (and not that i rock that look much but he always wears wicked clothes i rate). but that said, g unit is the work of a muppet and it shows. the song he did was a nice lilting jammy thing but really it was most unmemorable and finishing on the gunshots was simply crap.
sugababes’ had an alright song and frankly looked fantastic, yes all of them.
the video for the scissors sisters ‘take your mama out’ or whatever, looks great. song good too, bit retro, yeah, great.
the darkness were getting interviewed by cat deeley and justin hawkins said “and whatnot”. anyone who uses this term gets MY VOTE.

other things that get MY VOTE inc.
people shouting crude but witty jokes at each other in Lebanese streets
very very old guitars
Tom Paine
satirical attacks on any government
broadsheet newspapers
arts journals
pretty much sublime editions of the Divine Comedy that had been published in Florence in 1811 such as one glimpsed on e-bay the other day
nuanced and subtle political analyses
broken beat DJs
cheap operatic experiences
Tim Finney
not that i’m condoning it as such and of course it’s an appalling situation but it happens so if it has to happen then they have to do it, but people surviving with a loose-limbed grifterism in Bordeaux
the city of Birmingham, England, which i adore
Henry James
apothecaries in mediaeval Exeter
Fred Williams (nearly time to call in that favour from Angus, as it happens)
overpriced juice bars
going to the ballet
adoring Biosphere
eating out with a chum
Antonio Lobo Antunes
differentiating between, er, things
babushkas hawking at small town stations in central european Russia
ordinary people in ordinary Czech bars having a beer
indomitable matriarchs in large Scottish families
tireless paediatricians in Bangkok hospitals
bellboys in Dubai hotels
Gerd Muller
fishermen in southern India
Baltasar Garzon
articles lamenting the passing of missed traditions
Belgian alcoholic beverage
John Adams
toasting Sunderland football club with whisky in Cambridge
Institut Arabe du Monde
massive dollops of the quality known as common sense
picking up old tat in furniture shops
diners enjoying their lobster in expensive restaurants anywhere in provincial Finland (fetishising industrial scale processes, true)
dancing all night with some likeminded mates
people crying with joy in public
Luke Davis’ tapes
banks of fir trees in the wilds of Canada
men with a nice ass
a decent soy-latte
clubbing in Norwich
tomato soup (or appropriate local equivalent if none to be found) ate on the hoof with plenty of black pepper sold from a cheap and friendly side-cart vendor on a packed street somewhere in Izmir full of appealing people with arguments to be heard, needs to be met, and tasks to do
CD-r from Messrs Ingram and Reynolds
the underground railroad
nimble Cairene taxi drivers
the mass influx of Hong Kong Chinese people into Vancouver in the early 1990s (my ignorant white privilege enfolded in this comment)
the word “jurist”
Jill Scott
the landscapes of the Skeleton Coast
Master P
Alison Janney
that American woman who runs that Pop and Politics weblog
the many ‘curry cafes’ of manchester city centre’s Northern Quarter district
trawlers off the coast of Iceland
Nuffield scientists
The Chantells
Sumatran village gong ensembles
certain Liberal Democrat politicians, heck, certain politicians
community workers in Stavanger
being what you want to be
being down to earth
a decent salad nicoise by the sea in south-east Cyprus on a close night
tough, funny visual arts columnists
Joe at the new hip hop political correctness trend
respectfully discussing religion with ardent followers of some religion
amorous couples in public, especially for instance two cute boys snogging that annoy nearby FUCKWITS (sorry Simon silverdollar, much as i love all your slang typologies, i do still use fuckwit from time to time)
discussing masturbation frankly with mates
kids freestyling on public transport
very ordinary but supremely extraordinary women doing their best, holding their shattered families together, in warzones
Marilyn Manson fans dressed up for show and facing down catcalls from ignorant chods
erudite young women keeping journals in Honduras
nurses in Auckland
Tibetan dissidents
a basic one this, but remembering not to confuse symptoms with causes and such
National Geographic magazine
The Liberal Democrat party at a local election and the Labour party at a general election (that is how i have voted in the two times i’ve voted in my entire life, in the unlikely event anyone was interested)
15 y/o boys trying out and being really good at giving their 15 y/o virgin girlfriends head, in Liberia
eating rice with your rickshaw driving mate somewhere in Chiang Mai
beautiful Chilean girls falling in love with Pablo Neruda
taking drugs if you want
library cards
people that love other people
sticking up for yourself
phone sex
photographs of crumbling ancient Biblical architecture
beautiful boys falling in love with beautiful Chilean girls falling in love with Pablo Neruda
the weblog It’s all in your mind (must echo k-punk; that fan letter to the Betas was absolutely first-rate, and practically had me weeping with joy)
your mates
police officers doing their level-headed best to control public disorder on Welsh streets on Friday nights
Buddhist priests in France
Falun Gong followers on Sunday mornings in western cities (in manchester they’re often near the small but perfectly formed Peace Gardens in the centre of town, which incidentally is quite near Chinatown)
differences of opinion and taste
Jon Dale on Royal Trux
ILM on the drummer for the rock band in Gay Dad (i’m gonna get that shirt printed i swear, a simple white tee with the black words blocked, all capitals, i’ll let any reader know how it goes)

speaking of the drummer from the rock band Gay Dad one of the things that amused me most was the moment the cards were out on the table. just think: he’d spent all this time outlining his thesis, making his observations, tossing off asides, and then we get down to the nitty-gritty: which horse are you backing, pal? do you want some, do you? what odds you got then? cunt!
and such.

and – lo and behold – his card wasn’t an ace, it simply had the words Eminem printed on it. Eminem. Eminem, the last aesthetically vital force in hip-hop artistry, yes, that’s right, Marshall.
much as i do like Em, it was at this point that one (1) came to the conclusion it seems like there are no rap fans on the editorial board of Prospect/

what a joker!



fucking hell.

I WAS the drummer in the rock band Gay Dad and, well, I knew Cliff Jones.
still do actually, nice lad, saw him the other week for a few scoops. still reading the Guardian, told him to try out the Times, Cosmo Landesman’s a fine film reviewer; amusing too.

Friday, 19 March 2004

send in the clowns
names and numbers and views and numbers and 22nd march - april fools' '88 and a meeting yesterday
it's easy to be cynical from an armchair eh.
a loud blast has been heard in Mitrovica, Reuters reporter Shaban Buza, has said.

Kostunica, ahead of the forthcoming elections, is not being helpful re. status.

here is some information about legislature elections in 2001.
London postal districts map and it ain't included really London like TW(ickhenham), EN(field), R(o)M(ford), CR(oydon), HA(rrow) etc, so really...
here is a bit of what one means.
subway systems of the world, at scale, here,
via The Map Room, via

(personal experience only of the BART, the El, the Tube) ppl going on about scale all very well in the kottke comments box, and map room peep on their Paris Metro tip but i'm here to big up LONDON ALONE i'm afraid if my approach is unnecessarily combative..

our kid lived in SE4, that's Brockley, Lewisham, quite central, zone 2 and all that and that ain't on the tube as such 'cause it's rail connection to the nearest tube station so that ain't included and the tube still looks geographically a DADDY DON so STEP BACK; remember the vast bits of south east that peter out on the edge of zone 3, so really...MAP
'the joy of concrete' - a story from the guardian on Portsmouth's Tricorn centre, slated for demolishment (is that a word?). points out We've wittered on and on about the Tricorn, to the point of tedium and beyond, as the building drifts in and out of the public consciousness. Now it looks like it will finally come down, having been elevated into a brutalist bogeyman, the slaying of which will reap rewards for everyone. But as the article points out, 'The battle for Britain's architectural soul is being won by the weedy commercialisers, the soulless style jumblers, the devotees of tired and trusted British vernacular styles.' I hope demolition is slow, awkward and very, very expensive.

~admirable and i realise this is going to sound a bit philistinist, - slight corrective praps?? - but i wonder what the average person on the streets of Pompey thinks of all this?
having had a bit of a scout around quite a lot of music blogs there#s actually loads that would make a putative topwhatevernumber, so scratch merely the list below and increase the numberage by, ooh, quite a fair bit actually (redfaced)
meanwhile, proper ROCK music
maff's top of the blogs - all right of course tho':= no Jon Dale, spizzazzz, Finney, Harvell should be bumped upwards, tufluv, robin undercurrent, daria bodyparts, loaf, cathy pekingo, oliver craner, that cineaste bloke and a few other people, that would make us about a top 20, of course, those will do, maff is probably on something there but the one blog that should definitely have been in and wasn't for which BAD ingram which k-punk will agree but and THAT IS baal here


Robin C

Peter's Rum Pages - via pumpkin publog
Blame India Watch, which one is very gratefully reading from Amblongus - i know he's a cranky brit geezer in Texas and all but i'm glad he posted that one, i was a little worried about his qualifying And in my more paranoid moments I can't help but wonder if this site isn't part of some conspiratorial put-on designed to make unemployed or otherwise worried IT workers think twice about daring to complain and just accept the situation because, hey, like Wired used to always say change is good. "Now get down to the WalMart recruitment fair and stop your racist grumblings!"... - though one thing at his blog that struck me as a bit odd was the way Now this is the same Pakistan where the Pew Research Center's "A Year After Iraq War" report indicates that 46% of people polled thought suicide bombing was justified again Americans and Westerners in Iraq. With friends like these.... was phrased [his link to the Pew report here].

tragically/unfortunately/whatever word will have to suffice in this case, it is a fact that parts of the world can somehow justify suicide bombings to themselves.
and i know this is an obvious point to make, but some of my fellow Britons aren't my friends, and some of Amblongus' fellow Texans ain't his, and Pakistan is - in the circumstances - a big friend of the USA&c., {really really fundamentally dodgy and worrisome doubts about, f'r instance, the Khan story notwithstanding}, so, yunno...
delighted to learn via Simon (who appears to share the same fascination as myself with the distinctly unfashionable grunge revivalists Maroon 5) that David Stubbs has his blog/site up and running. more content to follow, but as a one-time avid reader of the reaper columns in uncut magazine [also did wonder if it was the same journo, or different people each month] i'm stoked to see them up here.

some are still terribly wrong and disagreeable for me, which is what one thought at the time reading about, say, the Coens or Miles David. howEVAH, there's some that appealed straight away due to either personal prejudices or an easily swayed mind (how prey one would be to evil demagoguery!)- why not? - and i'm glad the revised version of his hatchet jobs on, for instance, the beat poets, 'dark side of the moon', and 'songs in the key of life' (surely 'talking book' - my personal fave i'll be honest with ya's, and perhaps 'innervisions' - are the only elpees the generalist needs) are up.
i'm sure you can defend 'songs in the key of life' a lot more convincingly than he attacks it (admittedly, the point of all the reaper jobs surely, is that someone could argue even more persuasively against it cause one's assuming it was mostly done for a larf although there are some bitchy comments about Gary Oldman to enjoy), but really,
all hail DAVID STUBBS' arrival into the magic of the inteyweb.