Sunday, September 24, 2006

El Duderino is online

The ever reliable Pooter Geek has discovered Jeff Bridges's site.

It's original and just what you'd expect from the man who plays the Dude, Lebowski.

Holy chit BatgrRlz, it’s Kate Moss in blackface

Holy chit BatgrRlz, it’s Kate Moss in blackface

Here's a link to why blackface is bad. And why Little Britain is just racist. It's not "post Political Correctness". It's not funny. It's back to the 1970's and it ain't half racist mum.

And Rullsenberg is also agin it.

Criticism of white actors "blacking up" is not po-faced Political Correctness. It's a recognition that it's demeaning and a gross betrayal of the dignity of all involved.

As Hannah Pool splendidly writes in the Guardian about the Independent cover,
What exactly is this picture of Moss-as-African-woman supposed to portray? I suppose it is meant to be subversive, but what does it say about race today when a quality newspaper decides that its readers will only relate to Africa through a blacked-up white model rather than a real-life black woman? What does it say about the fight against HIV/Aids if that is the only way to make us care? And, as a black woman (born that way), what does this trick say about me?

The phenomenon of white entertainers putting boot polish on their faces to "look black" is nothing new, but like Jim Davidson and mother-in-law gags, it was supposed to be something that was banished to the underground eschelons of the entertainment circuit.

And yet it's back. From Bo' Selecta!, whose grotesque imitations of Michael Jackson and Mel B (always wearing leopardskin to signify her wildness) to Big Brother's Glyn blacking up, to Samantha Fox dressed up as an Asian woman, to white actors pretending to be black to play Othello. But the most high-profile example is Little Britain.
Yes. Black face is back and so is mainstream racism.

Bluff Corner

There's a moment when you've just met someone and you talk about the stuff you like, the stuff that makes you tick, the stuff that makes you go all wow. Gary Giddens in Weather Bird captures that moment (Introduction and Acknowledgements, p xvi).
... Ray Charles made an album called Genius + Soul = Jazz, and I thought if Ray is jazz then that's the place to look, especially after I met a girl who said she liked jazz and when I said "me too," quizzed me, humming a tune and challenging me to name it. I could think of only two jazz titles, "One O'Clock Jump" and "Take Five," neither of which I had ever heard, but I crumpled my brow and scratched my chin, and said, "Um, it sounds a little bit like 'Take Five,' a little, maybe." She said, "You really do know jazz." Thank you, Lord.
In the last essay, "How Come Jazz Isn't Dead", Giddens tells of Lester Bowie posing as a Jism magazine critic to ask "Isn't jazz, as we know it, dead yet?" and then, after a trumpet solo mockingly responding, "Well that all depends on what you know". Giddens concludes that Jazz is not dead but ailing "because even the most adventurous young musicians are weighed down by the massive accomplishments of the past" (How Come Jazz Isn't Dead, in Weather Bird p 601) and because of the Supreme Court ruling of 2003, on copyright extension to almost perpetuity, stopping small labels publishing classic recordings that major labels have lost all interest in.

Jazz isn't dead. It's there and always will be. And all music of the last century is jazz or at least jazz-influenced. And, as everyone knows (well, as Artie Fishel told me), jazz was born in Eastern European stetls.

Synchronicity, the Stoa and the Rail Splitter

Reading emails to this blog I came across an email telling me the Virtual Stoa has moved to here. So I went to look at the new site. And very good it is too. And yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Pablo Neruda. My take on Neruda ia that he was an important Twentieth Century poet of the oppressed who was a believer in the Socialist paradise that was Stalin's USSR. Octavio Paz described
"think[ing] of … Neruda and other famous Stalinist writers I feel the gooseflesh that I get from reading certain passages of Dante’s Inferno. No doubt they began in good faith, but insensibly, commitment by commitment, they saw themselves becoming entangled in a mesh of lies, falsehoods, deceits and perjuries, until they lost their souls."
That's what happens when you start seeking answers to important questions like why are so many of the world's people poor and oppressed, and discover an all-encompassing meta-narrative that replaces the need for thinking with obedience to an ideology and the personnification of that ideology.

Don't think. Just believe.

That's not to deny that Neruda wrote some great poetry that sings of, and to, the oppressed and the workers of the world. But he also wrote some hagiographic crud to Joseph Stalin that just drags down his oeuvre.

Here's the beginning of "Let the Rail Splitter Awake".
West of the Colorado river is a place I love.
I turn towards it, with everything that lives in me,
with all that I was, and am, and believe.
There are tall red rocks, made structures
by the savage air with its thousand hands,
and the scarlet sky arose from the abyss
into them to become copper, fire and strength.
America, stretched like a buffalo hide,
aerial, clear night of gallop,
there towards the starred summits
I drink your cup of green dew.

And then I thought of Il Postino, the 1995 film about Neruda in exile. And then I thought of the letter I'm waiting for from my parents in exile. Only connect.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bibliopoles and Pugilism

There's a fight going on in the world of publishing and bookselling. This week's Weekly Worker carries a letter that complains about Bookmarks.
The people who run the Socialist Workers Party bookshop called Bookmarks in central London are into censorship and it stinks.

We publish a magazine that any socialist would be interested in reading ... Bookmarks refuse to stock our magazine. This is strange, considering we don’t allow fascists or racists to write for us, but do encourage debate about some old leftwing shibboleths, especially those to do with ‘class struggle’.

The draconian management at Bookmarks are letting down anyone engaged in an attempt to make sense of our world today. ... It’s a shame, because Bookmarks in the old days used to be a thriving socialist bookshop in the heart of north London - a real hub of debate and discussion, with a vast and exciting range of literature, always full up with people. With such a po-faced management team these days, it’s hardly surprising no-one goes there and is only kept alive by the party faithful digging deep week after week.

Sean Delaney
Principia Dialectica
Following up on the magazine's own site you get this amusing response:
Mike writes: maybe they thoughtyour mag was a load of pretentious bollocks and not worth stocking - but its easier to shout “stalinist” than look at yourself critically…
Looking at the other places that do stock the magazine Bookmarks' refusal may be down to ideological differences and that the magazine is a load of Judith Butleresque nonsense. Alternatively, Bookmarks may be under Stalinist management.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gotham City and the Sky Mirror

Anish Kapoor's wonderful Sky Mirror has just been installed at the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

It was previously displayed outside the Playhouse Theatre in Nottingham. According to the BBC
[i]t has previously been placed in Nottingham, where it caused concern over whether it could set people or birds alight.
Now I know Nottingham has a bad reputation but are there really that many incomers from Gotham?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Day For Darfur

Tomorrow is an official Day For Darfur.

Get your blue hat and wear it.

And go and do something.

Modern Times is a super anagram of Timrod

Bob Dylan's acclaimed new album Modern Times has been noted for Dylan's appropriation of some lines from Henry Timrod.

As far as I can see it's a fair cop, badge out, laid off.

To [Scott] Warmuth [a disc jockey in Albuquerque and a former music director for WUSB, a public radio station in Stony Brook, on Long Island], who found 10 phrases echoing Timrod’s poetry on “Modern Times,” Mr. Dylan’s work is still original. “You could give the collected works of Henry Timrod to a bunch of people, but none of them are going to come up with Bob Dylan songs,” he said.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thomas Truax

Last night went to see Thomas Truax.

What a show. A small appreciative audience saw an excellent performance. Imagine Lake Wobegon on something mind-enhancing and you have the world of Thomas Truax.


And speaking of Lake Wobegon, here's a saying for today, "Ketchup contains natural mellowing agents that let people know they are having a good time, even if they themselves are not sure."

If Thomas Truax comes to a town near you, go and marvel.

Monday, September 11, 2006

World Trade WTF

A 9/11 documentary has been pulled from US tv by some CBS affiliate stations because TV companies fear the Federal Communications Commission may object to firefighters swearing.
The film was scheduled to go out at 8pm yesterday. However, any station airing it before 10pm could be fined for breaching "broadcast decency standards". CBS confirmed that affiliates representing about 10 per cent of the US had elected "not broadcast the program or would show it late at night".
Such is the sway of the prissy over what the United States watches. Prissy, prudish euphemistic talk kills. Blunt talking saves lives.

When public awareness campaigns about medical conditions talk about parts of the body, and bodily functions using language that no-one but no-one outside a Victorian literary meeting of belle-lettristes uses they get ignored. No-one pays attention. Get down and talk dirty. And don't be afraid to offend the prissy, prudish and uptight. It'll save more lives than being inoffensive and polite ever will.