Friday, 28 January 2005

i know he's the best writer there anyway, but this week's A.V. Club music reviews have Andy Battaglia writing about the three best things at the in brief section. co-incidence or what [nice to see that, presumably, that Honest Jons comp is being released in North America quite soon after it was in the UK]?

Nathan Rabin's review of the Game is good too and the review of Conor Oberst as well.


now with added FUCK ME FUCK ME FUCK MEs

oh ghetto postage how do i heart you, i have just discovered i actually know how to listen to music online, this means your grime post (it can't be emphasised how much of an idiot i am re. any sort of internet music downloading bizness)

4'50" when i'm ere oh yes
fab dissensus thread about ephemerality that Ingram started.
now then, if i wasn't a total luddite who knew how to, er, do sidebar links on their blog and such it's a fair bet i'd know how to do one of those 'wishlist' things you get people saying, you know the sort?

with compact discs on and such?

well if i knew how to do that, i would definitely put this little beauty up.
actually, golden-oldies are alright.
fortunately & after a bit of wrestling and home electronics, i managed to get the wireless to work (the video got blown up in the process but hey omelettes and eggs and speaking of videos i just read Damon Gough had a video back in 1984 - my parents didn't get a video until at least 1990 - maybe the trade in tea cosies was profitable in 1980's Bolton).

this is good news because this particular town has a fairly useful array on its FM band (some stations listed here).

non-English language stations, college radio, NPR with its news and good jazz, and rnb stations normally seem to be the best bet in an American metropolis (save yourself from the unremittingly crap rock radio).

perhaps in countryish areas you get a lot of good rural blues, bluegrass, country and such, well we can hope (CnW is the most popular music format on American radio innit: by far, i believe, isn't it about two thirds of all music radio in the USA - there's that old line about liking both types of music, country and western).

here is an interesting article - from 1998 - on actual (like, in a European sense, it seems) pirate radio in the USA (i'd naively assumed, down to various broadcasting, technical etc issues, the 'role' of pirates in the USA was pretty much taken up, as best as they could, by envelope-pushing college radio: some college towns, for instance Ann Arbor or NYC AFAIK, have smashing college radio broadcasts), mentioning stations like Radio Free Seattle and New York's Steal This Radio {of course, New York hip-hop radio currently has its own problems}.
reading about Springfield, Illinois' Black Liberation Radio (this started out in 1987) was especially cool.

screwing the dial this afternoon the only languages i can find broadcasting are English, Spanish and Polish. i wonder if the Korean-language television stations round here translate onto the radio.
what of non-English language stations, from one of the many central European heritage Americans, that famously emigrated to Chicago, in such numbers, back in the day?

there is certainly a lot of Russian spoken in this town, and Serbian too, for instance. there are a lot of people who can trace their ancestry back to one of many central European countries living here.

i would love to hear a, say, show transmitted in Bulgarian, or a Ukrainian-language station broadcast, or an Estonian-American station broadcast.
sadly my searches aren't turning anything up. rootsy explorations, Orange Revolution punk, even shit Europop would do.

alas no.

fortunately the local rap show plays Lil Jon, Biggie, Luda (sadly, no Prefuse 73 to be heard), classic Warren G, Kanye, Jay-Z, various bangers, that sort of thing.
the effect is spoiled by the odd terribly cheesy r'n'b ballad cut, but there we have it, hearing old g-funk like that was almost startling, and certainly nice.
actually that's a lie, it's not spoiled with the smoove choons, they just enhance everything.

great stuff.
Dale going deeper underground in Japan {the Codeine/codeine line is priceless}, on that man Liam Hayes, and can i just point out i basically wet my pants when i read "Masses of field recordings and ethnomusicological vinyl" in his Adelaide library piece?

thank yew.
reading Robin on the Daily Express and Sun reminded me my brother told me recently that about a week ago one day the Express had something attacking the govt on all its first 12 pages [stealth taxes blah blah].

as the election approaches, they are turning into a Tory attack-dog beyond compare.
when even the Telegraph describes you as a "right-wing tabloid" you know you've been pigeonholed.

Robin's rightfully angry first paragraph describes a shabby Express front-page, the only paper that day not to focus on the British soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees story, he writes.
well the BBC has captures of some of the papers from that day, and the link that should work is here.
that'll take you to the Guardian's headline first, then work up to a few others, like the FT, Mirror, Mail, etc. the Express will be last (complete with the despicable - and all too common from the Express - anti-German line at the top of the page).

i think that's the most instructive way to view it.

i think my absolute favourite headlines of 2004 were one Daily Mail one about Roma gypsies, one or two Express headlines on the same subject, and one or two Express headlines on asylum seekers and economic migrants.
i can't find them online but one Express headline on the subject of Romanies might as well have gone all Tony Martin, be done with it, and just have splashed HITLER HAD THE RIGHT IDEA across its masthead (ideally with a picture of some menacing pikey underneath flashing a blade, eating one of those lovely swans that belongs to the Queen).

some newspapers have fair-minded and even-handed treatment of the difficulties rural communities get into, and the difficulties Roma and Irish Travellers also get into, when a travelling community lands up near a village, which can cause some problems for all concerned.
needless to say, the Daily Express isn't one (and one other place that also isn't all that on this subject is the column of Kevin Myers in the Sunday Telegraph).
following talks with Prime Minister Kostunica, indicted Serbian general Vladimir Lazarevic has given himself up.
(did he jump or was he pushed?)

Thursday, 27 January 2005

UNAMIS Deputy Spokesperson George Somerwill on recent Darfur violence, and news of the apparent bombing - perhaps a hundred people dead, say some reports - last night around Shangil Tobaya.

Wednesday, 26 January 2005


some photos for the lovely companion

- pliers and things
- signalbox
- ridley road market
- trader
- "lady"
- the railway tavern
- a smile in front of the station
- electioneering, in front of the station
- tube
- shop
- lord truro
~The company has armed police walking around the plant to intimidate us....It’s especially frightening for those of us from Central America. Where we come from, the police shoot trade unionists.

_Smithfield Foods employee, Tar Heel, North Carolina.


many people read Eric Schlosser's peerless Fast Food Nation (in the UK, you can buy it in chain stores for a few quid these days).

HRW released a report yesterday, 'Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants'.

if you were interested in what Schlosser had to say, this is another must-read (the report is available in Spanish).
that {alarmingly otm} 'American conservatives on torture' cartoon, from Tom Tomorrow ~

[via the fine Pearsall's Books, via Harry's Place, via Andrew Sullivan &c.&c.]
i forgot i still had this homepage (sic)
an actual article, 'Putin's War' ("a man with a professionally nondescript face"), written by Sergei Kovalev, from February 2000, concerning the monstrous second Chechen war, is here.

the current issue of the NYRB contains a truly great article from The Economist correspondent for central Europe, entitled 'The Emperor Putin', reviewing books by Janusz Bugajski and Andrew Jack. unfortunately it's not available online to non-subscribers.
in today's het graun there's a fabulous - by turns angry and funny - article from Joseph Harker, cutting to the chase, here.

i'm pleased someone else is putting the boot into David Goodhart, frankly.
i've read subtler and more watertight criticisms of the Goodhart essay in question elsewhere, but this one still sticks.

Tuesday, 25 January 2005

glad to see my ill-thought out (and pompous, you say? why, guilty as charged!) gloom about the Tories sniffing around for electoral success might not be backed up by some of those in the know, like David Butler, or Alan Travis.

i cannot believe just a week ago i was paying lip service to Melanie Phillips (there was one other article of hers that was agreeable, but it was just making lowest common denominator points, about the Jerry Springer opera, so that's hardly worth noting); my disbelief generated by a quick scan through the all-too typical cobblers she spouted yesterday on this subject.

on the same topic, David Aaronovitch, Patrick Barkham, and especially Martin Kettle, all in the Guardian today, are all worth reading.

whilst plans to introduce 'Australian-style' permit systems to manage migration have been shelved, it's reported, i hope Mr Howard has read this in today's Independent.
lenin on the "alarmingly poor" Brendan O'Neill, he of Sp!ked Online.
two interesting items from the l/c, you know,
first up, there is this, which is something foolish from the American Republican party, or rather one of their number.

and this is an interesting (and long) pdf all about stem cell research.
Harm alerts us to this photo.

we're not sure if it's a mock-up.

if it isn't, it just goes to show the USA is a big country, and not all Americans live in the city, drinking lattes, reading The Nation.

some are crackers and live in Kentucky.
caption competition...

Monday, 24 January 2005

actually what am i saying?!

i don't hope the Tories do terribly badly at the next general election (strong opposition parties are always healthy), just that they don't get in power...
We only want our country back

_ Heading of National Front leaflet, 28th November, 1998, distributed by activists in Dover -


~ Daily Express headline, 15th November, 2004_

"We have a right to ask whether these would be deportees or Blair's mercenaries of regime change or plain law-abiding Zimbabweans returning home after having been abused and dehumanised in Britain....Their treatment will depend on which is which" -Jonathan Moyo, current Zimbabwean Information Minister, December 2004,
speaking as the UK resumed repatriating failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers

Britain has reached a turning point. The pace of change is too great.

-Michael Howard, 24th January, 2005.

this is not a 'lurch to the right', as such, it's true. it is hugely dispiriting and entirely predictable and it certainly comforts some of the far-right, but it's arguably not so much a lurch to the right, no, as something else again.
what does seem to be happening is that a savvy, radical populism is at play, a populism that understands these proposals will do well at the ballot box.

"CRE chairman Trevor Phillips voiced concerns about the language used by the Conservative leader and questioned who he wanted to keep out. The largest single group of migrants into this country are from the EU, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

However, Mr Howard said any implication that the proposals were about skin colour were a disgraceful allegation which I wholly reject."

Mr Howard is - by his own terms - not being disingenuous here. and he is an anti-racist, in theory at the very least anyway (think of his visit to Burnley and his frequent attacks against the bigots of the BNP - of course the Daily Express has in the past also attacked the BNP whilst, at the same time, practically encouraging some of its most impressionable members).

but he is being uncomfortably naive above: quite possibly dishonourably so.

Scoring potential immigrants for their professional and language skills is one initiative being mooted by the government for its five-year plan on the issue, expected to be published next month is perhaps fair enough but so too are the words of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown earlier today, that Why not use this excellent [quota] system on our stretched public services too? Put a limit on how many injured people will be admitted into hospitals.

i hope (against actual realistic projections...) this grubby little party gets absolutely slaughtered at the next general election and the UK never has to cope with David Davis as Home Secretary.

Friday, 21 January 2005

the ideology of the Great Power, what we call in Russian derzhavnost, that is, the view of the state as a highly valuable mystical being that every citizen and society as a whole must serve. That ideology was not alien to the Russian political elite under Yeltsin either, but subscribing to it is now obligatory....In today's Russia it is bad form not to be a derzhavnik.

Sergei Kovalev tr. Jamey Gambrell, 9th August, 2001.
interesting piece in the Boston Review,
Capture the Moment
On the uses and misuses of photojournalism

a Baudrillard attack on Sontag, in his article "No Pity for Sarajevo", is mentioned.
he comes across very badly indeed, here.
alright so Toronto used to be known as the most ethnically diverse city in the world (according to the UN, who should know, right) and Miami has the least amount of citizens of any town, as a percentage of its overall population, that were born within the borders of that country, but the guardian's in-depth feature about "London in 2005 can lay claim to being the most diverse city ever....Never have so many different kinds of people tried living together in the same place before....New York and Toronto would contest the cosmopolitan crown, but London's case is strong" is fascinating reading.

the article about members of the Somali community is heart-breaking.
that's a fucking terrible argument from Jack Straw.
absolute disgrace.
what a farce.

Mr Straw is not often outmanuevered by Michael Ancram (sometimes it can be on Zimbabwe, one of the few subjects the Tories speak sense on) but he certainly has been here.


Thursday, 20 January 2005

mos def & talib kweli are black star

o how have i avoided you for seven years!


Luka excels himself {oh my, Barbara Lerner}

SDC, huge grime report


Best New Genre Alert


"Stamp honours Jewish 'moon boy'"


Indeed, I dare say that a starring role could be worked up for a Fop-based character...

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Harm reads very well here on Hotel Rwanda.

you gotta appreciate what Scott Tobias did with his review of same, yet even though "The real story here isn't about the few hundred people that Rusesabagina saved, but the hundreds of thousands that died needlessly" is the truth it somehow doesn't sit well (i dunno, but i guess i mean i've read enough American print arts correspondents making some irrelevant crack about Dubya as they attempt to prove their left-liberal street cred).

anyway - moving swiftly on from my questionable and inarticulate ramblings - there's a piece in the NY Times last Friday or so that was so wonderful to read, so sweet, so joyous that i wanted to quote a few bits and bobs. it's by Michael Kimmelman and it discussed the new Rubens show that's opened at the Metropolitan Museum (the first major Rubens show in the USA ever, he writes).

"Reviewing the work seems a bit silly. What is there to say, except that the drawings illustrate the limits of what is humanly possible with a piece of chalk and a pen and paper? It is profoundly heartening. Rubens loved to draw and loved that he could draw like a god, and his joy is ours, in looking at what he drew. Most shows these days are too big. With 115 drawings and a few related prints, this one isn't small, but I would gladly have looked at another hundred drawings if they were all this interesting."

"The drawings speak for themselves. Some of the best are of his family, of the landscape around his country house, of his cows: meditations on happiness and prosperity, which could become fodder for paintings, too. They are intimate and immediate. His portrait of Nicolas Trigault, a Jesuit missionary, standing stiffly in a Chinese costume is, by Rubens's standards, also a model of opulent restraint: with just a hint of blue in the collar, red on the face, the action distilled into the heavy folds of the silk robe.

"His "Baptism of Christ," an early commission from the Duke of Mantua, one of the glories in this exhibition, is a delicate essay in outsize musculature and faint touch, going Michelangelo one better. Twisting he-men disport around the thick trunk of a phallic tree. Like Michelangelo, Rubens devised ever more complex ways of drawing figures: his "Susanna" is a coiled spring, her right leg positioned back to us, hips turned 45 degrees, shoulders turned farther around, head even more so, so that she looks behind her at one of the spying elders, whom we can see obliquely, from the side and below."

"On a 16th-century Swiss drawing of a young woman holding a shield, he performed plastic surgery: he softened her face, puffed up her sleeves, rearranged her hair and tucked the shield behind her skirt, which he made to look more billowy."

"I love these curios because they are like musical improvisations. Rubens riffed on other artists' melodies, adding his own trills and cadenzas. It was an act of homage, not defacement. One plus one equaled two, or three. It helped, obviously, that Rubens was the equivalent of Mozart or Duke Ellington or Beethoven building his cathedral of variations on Diabelli's little waltz. Rubens regarded drawings, other people's and his own, as organic, to be learned from and endlessly improved upon, like life."

the final paragraph quoted made one think of nothing so much as the Chapmans working over Goya.
careful considerations are good.

Tuesday, 18 January 2005

here is an interesting article about Michigan resident Ibrahim Parlak - at one time a member of the PKK - and the attempts of the Department of Homeland Security to get him deported to Turkey.
Cafe Gulistan ("Free Ibrahim") is here.
is that the Harry Smith anthology of American folk music, tucked promisingly below a load of grime stuff and among the political philosophy texts, there?
that man might just have made me a world class cup of tea.

Thursday, 13 January 2005

incidentally i think most people know the anecdote of Gorton Tub and the razors.

Gorton Tub got closed down a year or two (or three, my memory is hazy) ago, it was the swimming baths, it was a great shame, bitterly opposed by residents etc. but to no avail.

well one time near it getting closed some scallies went in and stuck loads of razors the dangerous way out, embedded them in the slide and whatnot, and no one knew for a bit until all the little kids were flying into the pool, horribly cut up, blood spreading into the water.


elsewhere, Prince Harry.

what can you say.

i think i'll accentuate the positive at this stage and go

Simon R on Raw-T and provincial grime and whatnot [as a local pedant i must point out Raw-T hail, i believe, from Gorse Hill - not a huge difference as the Moss is but a mile or two away - and that whole Gorse Hill/Moss Side/Hulme/Old Trafford/Stretford area is kinda bunched up together].

the only thing i know of Raw-T, really (and i know i've blogged this aside before) is that they supported soulstress Jamelia at the Bridgewater Hall (big posh classical/world/roots venue in the centre of Manchester) during the recent In The City muso conference, and apparently their energy blew everyone away.

i've seen one photo of them in the local paper, they looked cool as fuck (and young, teenagers at least some of 'em i believe, maybe age range 15 or so to 20 i believe?), there's about six of 'em, and no, i've never heard 'em... ...interesting to see Wilson change his tune on grime of course, long time readers of this blog will know we've got little time for his somewhat frankly infantile anti-metropolitan obsessions (maybe he's being ironic, i don't know, of course some of his concerns are legitimate moans about 'the music industry' and 'the London media' blahblah but most of the time he should be seen and not heard plus he wanted a Yes vote to a Northwest regional assembly - MORE red-tape, hello?!).

my nana used to work in Gorse Hill post office (which is basically just a little area between Stretford and Old Trafford pretty much - the reason i am a postcode geek is because i used to work in a post room of a big firm for ages) and my mam comes from around Dorset Street or something round there (my old man is from Alexandra Park in Moss Side but i was born in Wythenshawe hospital, a way south). there's certainly a lot of emceeing.

Hulme is actually a Green Party stronghold these days, it's full of graduates and hippy buses! well not entirely true but you do see the buses, you get a lot of well-off kids round there, and Green man Spencer Fitzgibbon (i think that's his name) is forever writing to the letters pages of the local rags.

my final mediocre anecdotes concerns MC Tunes or whatever his name is, i saw his poor outfit supporting Scouse metal mentalists Bullyrag in Wolverhampton once (we'd been drinking for some hours beforehand in the back streets of Wolves as one of said mates is a West Brom supporter and knows his enemy territory well).
well my other mate at the time for reasons known to himself had a fondness for Leeds United football club (even though he's from Handsworth) and when i told him MC Tunes was a Man United fan (Uniteds Leeds and Mcr have something of a mutual dislike, and it's not at all jokey or ironic for some people, alas) god he wanted to offer out the entire venue, pretty much.

that was a fun-packed night, that one.

Simon might be interested in this guardian feature (associated pictures gallery) about West Gorton (Gerald Kaufman is MP for Gorton!), east/south Mcr, written by a bloke from the paper.
i reckon it's being laid on a bit for the metropolitan reader but who can deny British urban areas (in the English provinces, socio-economic problems are especially acute on Merseyside, and in Manchester and Middlesbrough) don't have problems...

Tuesday, 11 January 2005

that Pitts Jr. article should go to a log-in page so i am going to copy and paste the article below instead.

here goes:

I refer you to "Beverly Hills Cop."

Specifically, the scene in which the police lieutenant demands to know why the scruffy detective from Detroit has been harassing an upstanding local businessman. Our hero explains that the businessman is actually a smuggler, murderer and all-around bad person. The only thing is, the detective can't prove it yet.

Pause a beat. Then the lieutenant says: "Forget what you can prove. Talk to me."

It's a small moment, but it captures something of our ambivalence toward the machinery of justice. Meaning the sense one sometimes gets that with its emphasis on the rights of the accused and its maddening insistence on legal standards of proof, the system is ill-equipped to comprehend the harsh realities of the world. And far too prone to letting the guilty get away.

So it is tempting to say: "Forget proof. We know what happened. Let's nail the sucker."

Which brings us to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And to ominous news that the Bush administration is pondering a change for suspected terrorists held at the U.S. military base there. The Washington Post reported last week that plans are afoot to make the imprisonment of those men permanent.

Think about that. Men never proved to have planned or participated in any terrorist action. Jailed for life. By the United States of America.

That's chilling.

In all fairness, I understand the administration's dilemma. The war on terror is unlike traditional conflicts in that it is a struggle not with another nation but with an ideology. That means there'll never be a moment when a surrender is signed and prisoners are repatriated.

And while I'm being fair, let me grant that the White House is privy to classified information about these people that you and I are not. Maybe they are terrorists, as advertised.

Point being, I understand why it's tempting to look the other way and let the Bush administration do as it insists it must.

But that doesn't make it moral. Especially given that this White House has a history of getting it wrong. Yes, I'm talking about the alleged weapons of mass destruction that were never found. But I'm also talking about persistent reports that many of those detained--and, too frequently, abused--by U.S. personnel should never have been imprisoned in the first place. Indeed, a 2004 report from the International Red Cross quoted military intelligence officers as saying that anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of those taken into custody in Iraq were innocent of any offense.

Those are not numbers that inspire great confidence.

So you can see why I am hesitant about giving the White House license to do as it wishes with the prisoners in Cuba. Not that it would feel it needed my approval. Or anybody's.

What's being pondered here unfortunately is typical of the arrogance of the Bush administration. It is already under fire from human rights activists, the international community and the U.S. Supreme Court for a policy of open-ended incarceration. So naturally, it starts crafting a policy of permanent incarceration.

In other words, Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!

Ahead to where, maybe they'll tell us someday.

In the interest of its own credibility, the administration should accept, should seek, a forum--binding, independent, nonpartisan and secret only to the degree required by national security--to lay out its case against the internees. Instead, it says simply, "Trust us," and banks on our fear of terror and ambivalence toward the rules of justice to ensure we do exactly that without asking too many hard questions.

I suspect history will not be gentle with us if we comply.

"Forget what you can't prove" is fine as fiction, but it is frightening as human rights policy. You see, sometimes, the reason you can't prove somebody committed a crime is simple:

He didn't.

the reason i am being so zealous about this is because good solid columns using simple, sensible language and ideas are to be applauded {also, not that i can find it now, but the other day in some American media outlet i read a really half-arsed piece that was all 'the terrorists don't respect human rights so all those Red Cross/Amnesty-type people should just shut up about Gitmo' etc and it was a really, really stupid article, from a shrieking and partial columnist}.
i am coming to the conclusion (or am i coming around to the viewpoint? i am pitifully bereft of the most basic language skills) that Leonard Pitts Jr. is one of my favourite American newspaper columnists.

here is an article he recently wrote on Gitmo.

sometimes i don't agree with him (including on some pretty big fundamentals) but George Will is also cool [this is an interesting column on welfare reform of which i know nothing in the USA but hey].
i can't find it now but he once wrote a fine, fine column that chronicled a day in the life of the little guy (in this specific instance, an LAPD beat officer who, no, wasn't a Rodney King-beater type or anything like that) and ever since then, Harm's fondness for him has rubbed off on me a little.

besides, even if you fundamentally disagree with someone, anybody who can write that Taxing beer at all is a seriously bad idea, like taxing the elemental necessities of life, such as bread or salt. Or beer pretzels, which are just bread and salt. must be OK.
on the subject of taxing beer, this fascinating article (via fldsfslmn on Dissensus) is all about how they tax beer in Alberta.
Joe at Working For The Clampdown fingers me (rightly, as it turns out) over that Phillips piece i linked to.

Joe has it about right with Blah blah blah, Israel is the real victim, "Muslim rage against anyone who tells the truth", typical pathological Phillips bullshit but the simple truth (this will sound lame, but i'm fairly sure you can trust me!) is i didn't read it properly, just saw a few soothing fundamentals anyone can agree upon {e.g., Sheikh Qaradawi doesn't have the nicest views being about the most memorable point} and thought i best post to it, as a sop to my large right-leaning bellicose religious readership (hundreds of 'em ;)) - after i'd just been rude about Mary Kenny, y'see...

...the blog has been going through the motions for some time and my skim-reading is not what it once was, is all i can offer in defence.

on a related note, it's nice to see Joe link to a fine piece attacking Nick Cohen for misunderstanding some arguments about sanctions against Iraq.
below is a host of guardian tomfoolery that i feel compelled to link to (in a 'look at me! i'm being a proper blog with mannered language today, after yesterday's juvenile pettiness'-style) so yeah;

Rob Berkeley responds persuasively to Decca Aitkenhead on the Jamaican homophobia debate.

a leader on migrant workers.

Adrian Searle (who can often be fairly grumpy, it must be said but heck) critiques Damien Hirst.

this Sarfraz Manzoor piece on "Asian is a colonial term which was only ever a convenience. Now we want to be Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs" made me think, oddly, of pitchforkmedia's jonesing for 'British Asian cool' a few years ago (also, a vaguely straw-mannish and - politically - dumb-ass review of the Super Furries that, in a foolish opening aside, took to task 'London' over a Welsh option on the census once {the p.f. site is down at time of posting otherwise i'd check but IIRC there was the GLORIOUS phrasing "way to go London" or something like that...}).
i don't know why i thought of these, but Manzoor normally makes sense to me.

the National Portrait Gallery has a picture of Mary Seacole ["voted the greatest black Briton"] up

and the big one,
that 'special report' on what happened in Falluja in November from the 8th onwards, according to doctor Ali Fadhil (a special report on last April's collective punishment would be welcome)
egotistically pleasing myself, blowing one's trumpet

so my bro and Whitby were in an alehouse in Lytham once and Frank Carson was there aka my first FT - Pumpkin Publog post
re. that Melanie P. article in the previous post, it should go w'out saying but hey etc but But the fact is that there is relatively little genuine prejudice against Muslims is bollocks [substituting the word Jews for Muslims would not make that sentence any less false either, incidentally]
a mate said to me in email today that he read a Melanie Phillips article that he agreed with (for the first ever time), if not necessarily in whole then in part.

well i too have experienced this exact - really very peculiar - feeling quite recently, in my case with this article here.

Monday, 10 January 2005

short Mary Kenny {also see, DJ Taylor}:

why look at the Sikhs and Islams (bloody politically correct harrumph), they can do it!

why grumble grumble

Hindoos too shouldn't wonder
i am very much enjoying the early days of Pete Baran's experiment over at the peerless home to drink/journalism that is the Pumpkin Publog (incidentally, i couldn't comment about its native North i.e. Yorkshire etc. - i make the point of referring to northeast England and Yorkshire as the true North of England because of course the northwest is a bit of a strange zone unless it is 'proper' Lancashire and Cumbria; Cheshire and the Lpool/Mcr-sprawl areas are practically the Midlands and i was a bit piqued or whatever the word is because yesterday i half-read some insufferably pompous pseud in their LiveJournal calling the northwest the north, NOW, even i am not enough of a Mancunian nationalist [pace Robin C., i suppose] to claim proper northern status for the softer bits of the NW oh no and it just struck me as arrogant and wrong-headed, oh yes, Bishop Auckland, Barnoldswick, Barrow, Alnwick, Featherstone, these are up north oh and incidentally certainly not FUCKING LEICESTER OH THAT ONE BLOKE FROM NME DARLINGS KASABIAN even if you were joking i'm afraid i'm sorry but no except i'm not really sorry but there we go - because i hail from the north-west of England and do most of my drinking in central Manchester and suburban south Mcr, but i can see that in London they like their Ayingerbrau in London whereas it must be admitted at my local Sam Smiths i and many, many peers mostly stick to their bitters {well they're normally about 1.20 a pint aren't they so and not bad} but of course it's true isn't it that Sam Smiths are some of the cheapest pubs in London [i remember fondly the one i've been to a few times off Oxford Street, near Berwick Street] so you may as well go for the lager if you're in the mood, oh yes, but it just struck me there seems to be a Ayingerbrau cult almost in London if this is to be believed, which is A GOOD THING of course, but and i don't know about Yorkshire, the NE or the Midlands, but around Mcr it does seem to be the ale that gets rinsed. anyway. just thought it worth pointing out, in a roundabout way)

the Freaky Trigger Publog people have kindly said i can waffle there so perhaps i shall spout some rubbish on my favourite subjects (booze and pubs and bars) there soon enough.

thank you,

incidentally and i admit this is entirely an awful thing to say but i was in the supermarket {don't normally go to that one, as it ain't too cheap} the other day and god this is mean-spirited and makes me a cunt but fuck it, this hipster-looking bloke (hipsters in the USA seem to be fairly indie, it must be said, or rather some hipsters) had a case of Duvel and a case of Sierra Nevada pale ale (half-decent American 'brew', let us be fair).

now i like Duvel as much as the next drinker, but it is no, say, Kwak.

i just think the hipster's air of smug superiority (if my fevered and fascist imagination is allowed free and contemptible rein, perhaps something along the lines of 'hey, look at me with my beard and Belgian beer whilst all the foolish consumers drink O'Douls or MGD or whatever') should have been reigned in.

sorry for that indefensible and mean rant (I SHOULD JUST BE NICE ABOUT IT)

but something to get off my chest
speaking of effervescence, one of the world's great homepages, none other than I woke up in a strange place. has recently seen its author move from Japan back to his native USA, specifically Conn. state (perhaps he heard about The Third Unheard).

check it.
bigoted post in which somedisco prejudicially pipes up with its own, unsolicited, views on the BBC News website's Sound of 2005 poll

i think i shall do this in numbered points, more like what comes into my head first than assigning the points any importance in a numbered scale, oh no nothing like that

1. here is the article in question
2. Kano and The Game being in there is wonderful
3. i can hardly complain about Kaiser Chiefs (cuties all!)
4. you have to give it up for Bloc Party, if only for frontman Kele's ace enthusiasm, his DIY-ethics coming to the fore in interviews, his effervescence is so admirable
5. but no no THRICE NO i am not having The Fucking Bravery. oh no. oh no. oh no indeed. "Anyone that says they don't want a zillion screaming fans is a jackass, a liar," pls just be QUIET!
it seems to be that a fair few British rock journos are enjoying pigeonholing New York City talent here, i mean look at the comments from the BBC6 and Q representatives (electro-clash sound, please), it's just all that middlebrow rock-god-shapes friendly 'fashion' etc. gah. i realise it is extremely naive to be going on about this, not understanding the vast groundswell and appetite the UK has for pleasing, good looking slightly quirky guitar rock but GARN (to paraphrase some solider in one of the Narnian books)

it is rather like a chocolate survey putting Hershey's above Cadburys.

6. a very GOOD band would be any from Ian's stable. check out one of those mebbe. but no, please no, not The Bravery.
7. of course i shouldn't go overboard, for instance see some of the seething fury in the comments section of that BBC page!
8. one other point.
and i said i wouldn't do it but indeed i've put on my waders and am going in to take to task one of the commentators of the poll.
yes it's Melissa in London.
The Bravery did deserve to win, they are the best group to emerge from 2004 and will no doubt go on to great things in 2005. However I don't think much of the rest of the list (apart from Bloc Party). The Game has been around for ages in America and will capitalise of the back of 50 Cent, who rode the back of Eminem who rode the back of Dr Dre... etc.

Kano is a good choice but Klashnekoff is better, but sadly, as always in the UK, the more talented you are the more the commercial pundits over-look you...

yes alright we hear you about The Game (though he's a good emcee so let's leave it at that) but i am not having this Kano slur.
i do like Klashnekoff yes, a lot as it happens (i've never seen him live unfortunately because we missed him once) i like how he talks about where he is from, i think he is very good.
i only know one person who rates him above Kano.
Klashnekoff is esteemed better by my mate Dan (whose record is almost spotless apart from a fondness for Skinnyman who i just have a blind spot for, i'll admit) who admits to being a UK hip-hop fan with no time at all for the emcees in grime, no time at all.
he admits his partiality means he cannot comment fairly in an overall style such a comparison as e.g. Melissa is making here (what a lot of wordy crap i spout hey).

so i hope Melissa is not a big UK hip-hop fan with no time for grime, i hope this is overall preferences speaking and she likes everything, because otherwise that's just not cricket.
Jonathan Steele can write very well indeed (check this vital reportage from the guardian archives) but sometimes he is a bit silly.

at the risk of coming across like Steele in a fanciful moment, i must say that this endlessly disturbing article {via bipedaldave in this lively Dissensus thread} is giving me enormous pause.

for some reason watching a news broadcast just now made me think of all these things. a woman from the National Geographic tv channel was being interviewed. she mentioned when she was in Afghanistan in 1994 and surrounded by heavily armed young boys with nothing in their eyes, like they would kill someone without caring in a heart-beat.
but then she said ten years later look at Afghanistan, and what those boys will be like now (quite possibly dead, of course, TBH, but such a point might be condemned in sanitised telly-land as cynical and carping).

i don't want to sound churlish and like a reactionary here but there's some sort of austere strand within my personality that for some reason (and i realise i should tell this to an Afghanistan that's in far better shape now than it has been for a long time) gets really (albeit momentarily) irritated with such self-congratulatory back-slapping.

i'm not saying it's the American Way or anything, although the broadcast was on the local Fox channel...
Rupert Cornwell on Guantanamo: Three years on
the murder of Nureni Mumin Sheikh : one year on
here is the text of a paper Amnesty International today submit to the U.N. about violence towards Algerian women whilst here is a report from Human Rights Watch about recent developments in the persecution of Montagnard Christians by the authorities in Vietnam's Central Highlands. HRW also outline how the Cambodian govt is blatantly failing Montagnard asylum seekers.
Paul Barker on illiberal Britain

Sunday, 9 January 2005

find me and follow me
from altrincham to timperley
we've got col little
and we're all off our fucken tree

k-punk on Joy Division
Ian Wright (the Lonely Planet dude) is climbing Stromboli just now and it is magnificent.
lyrics of the day

(1) 'The Weight'

(2) (GZA's) 'Gold'
in other news, wish i'd seen Veruca Salt before they split
if you are, you've not been watching them long enough.
although one can't possibly be surprised by any result City turn up these days.

Saturday, 8 January 2005

thank whoever for SUPER ROD
for fuxake City
no never do that

Friday, 7 January 2005

i just read a criticism of that 'a very long engagement' that is actually quite OTM.
referencing the lightness of touch that the film has a lot of the time, its zest and pith (cheers Q!) the writer noted this sits uncomfortably with the war material which i suppose is a, ooh, an obvious point to make (how come i didn't think of that though heh) but really quite a good point i reckon.

oh and FWIW there are some interesting enough filmic lists from the two chief film crits of the Chicago Reader, here J.R. Jones, here the great Rosenbaum [though the magazine really should be abused for a breathtakingly pretentious - and i should know hoho - capsule review of La Strada, here; i realise it's good to stir shit up and not be blandly p.c. about a critical consensus yet the sympathetic AMG review of same flick still seems stronger]


also from the chicago reader although it blatantly loses about nine million points for no mention of Kanye, this list of Windy City 2004 album etc releases is pretty cool [that Plush release completely passed me by]


oh and if you haven't already and on the subject of left-of-centre Yankee rags the onion's first-of-new-year-edition is quite, quite brilliant. i think literally every article and piece gets its shots off strong and true.

satire, thy name is Vladimir Putin.
well 'garden state' was alright as was the latest Jeunet, 'a very long engagement' or whatever, now i must say i've just made this observation in email to a chum but what the heck but as per with latterday Audrey Tautou there's a sense that some of the leading men, in this case the ever wonderful Dominique Pinon (Avec Facial Hair) blows her away [e.g., Chiwetel Ejiofor's masterful performance in 'Dirty Pretty Things' which i don't think is that cop as a film i mean really 'tis OK but he was good and also one of the finest English actors of the day i'd argue] so yeah.

can i just say i made my first post at dissensus just now (a thread about politicians) and it's great, it assigned me day-tripper status.

brilliant, quite brilliant, i love it, i just love it.

Thursday, 6 January 2005

actually the fiery furnaces are alright

it's probably just my foolishly mannered centrism or something but re. all the chatter about the three minute European silence (interesting debate at the Times website) i thought Blake Morrison was quite persuasive, TBH [shortly after 9/11 Morrison wrote quite a good article here, in stark contrast to some of the foolish letters the guardian was receiving]
i would eat them bit by bit over a long period of course i'm not a complete greedy bastard.

the news they sell lattes in their espresso blends coffee section was greeted with much good cheer by myself and constituents it must be said.
i must be honest and say my ambition is to taste every variety of krispy kreme doughnut (what a spectacularly small and limited ambition! how pathetic i know but they do taste bloody good).

the holy grail of krispy kreme is their original glazed just off the production line (i.e., when hot, described as orgasmically good to me) which i've never had.

some of the more left-field choices intrigue me, having only ever had cold glazed, bog standard chocolate, etc.
what a magnificent website!
the glazed sour cream are very good.

incidentally there's a phrase here along the lines of Painting is the greatest triumph of modernism. Listening to extended works of modernist music can still make the unsympathetic lay listener nervous, and reading the long novels and poems of modernist literature may often seem a chore. The visual arts, however, make the least demands on our patience that recalls interesting blogging debates the likes of Angus and David Stubbs indulged in a bit ago.

when such a statement hits you in the face in simple and concise terms i suppose it's hard to argue (certainly i wouldn't, although the opening sentence is up for debate) but the fact you could take as long experiencing a painting as a difficult novel or whatnot means they're all as rewarding as each other and perhaps arguably all as much of a chore, in a good way.

but anyway. i just basically want to speak up for visual arts as against music and literature...

i know Alberto Gonzales is in the news of late (President Bush's choice to be the new attorney-general).

this article here mentions Gonzales and is about Bush's Death Row views when he was a Texan leader.
Dubya doesn't come off very well in the article it must be said.
interesting stuff about some family in Jarrow here
i've been meaning to type for a long time that i know what Gareth means here.

well i mean a bit, being a bit familiar with that corner of the world, south east W Yorks.

great chippies, cheap and friendly pubs, huge slag heap. slackies are funny well not funny but there's one outside Oldham that's the biggest in Europe isn't there?

it does look otherworldly you can see why dark northern English settings have a lunar quality with sad light, a reverse of Four Corners NM almost.

look they set Alien 3 partly among the beaches of Jarrow didn't they?


speaking of folk from the northeast, isn't Baal matchless, pretty much?
HRW: Iran: Journalists Receive Death Threats After Testifying
i know it was in the days before Christmas and whatnot but Pichet Soontornpipit's report was certainly under-reported in the British newspapers, IIRC
on new years eve i watched 'garden state' (M E T H O D MAN who just saw titty?! brilliant) whilst the Farc were their usual morally unimpeachable selves
well you know Bloc Party and the Futureheads are all fair enough but really it must be said that we rose to applause round here the second paragraph's opening sentence here because it's TRUE i tell you.

i can't find it but Reynolds' brilliant article about the dying Melody Maker where he says about how 'oh for the last few years of your life you were fucking awful' just strikes me as OTM everytime.
oh, here we are.

i also want to second and third and whatnot applause for Matos' amusing Unfaves and the fascinating&clever homophobia in dancehall thread at Dissensus (applause for Jess/Stelfox has an interesting point that some writer made in the guardian the other day actually)

oh and the Chilean Supreme Court judgment of t'other day,
that private eye speech bubble

scampering down the steps at Santiago airport unaided

pipes up

EnviroSpin Watch on Voltaire on the Lisbon earthquake (via normblog, which has an interesting guest post about 'Dissing Israel': the one thing that piece doesn't go overboard on is that Israel is a democracy though - unlike some states of course w' apologies for the obvious statement because i'm just unsure if i can accept "The falsehood of this putative justification for double standards is so obvious that endorsement of it is as much in need of explanation as the original double standards were." - so 'we' should hold Israel to 'better' standards. i know this is a really lame and stupidly apparent thing to type but as a friend of Israel isn't this what we always all want? it's the one thing critics of the likes of Chomsky's politics sometimes overlook, in kind of overlooking the fact there's an elephant in the room with you. sorry not making sense here.
also i just registered on Dissensus so big up k-punk and Matt but basically just wanted to say that an Oona King article Oliver links to there is also very interesting)
incidentally on a completely different note thank heavens for that sane Salman Rushdie letter {lenin and his comments box as per has interesting stuff to chant on the 'one blind-spot in Salman's argument' here}
nothing to say i guess except big up the SEA-EAT blog and the helpers&goodfolk and i wonder - not being around then - what the world was like in response to, say, the Tangshan quake of 1976, perhaps given the nature of the regime things were very different, i shouldn't wonder.

given the sheer scale of the tsunami i wonder how many degrees of separation there are between everyone on the face of the planet and one random actual victim?