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David Mercer: The socialist playwright behind ‘Morgan’ and ‘Providence’

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The playwright David Mercer was born in 1928, in a working class district of Wakefield, in the north of England. He was raised amid the poverty and hardship that bred the instinctual Socialism of his father and uncles, which they had learned from experience, and gathered from books by Wells, Shaw, Lenin and Marx. This was Mercer’s first taste of the politics, handed-down, father-to-son, which was to influence all of his writing.

He quit school at 14, and worked as an apprentice technician, before he signed-on for 4-years with the Royal Navy. He went on to study at King’s College, Newcastle, then married and moved to Paris, where he tried his hand as an artist, before deciding he was best suited at being a writer. He wrote long, rambling novels influenced by Wyndham-Lewis. The practice taught him he could writer, but his novels were too abstract and had no relation to how he truly felt. This taught him that he could write but was not a novelist, he therefore started writing plays.

His first Where the Difference Begins (1961) was originally intended for the stage, but was produced for television by the BBC. The play was a valediction to the old men of Socialism, the Keir Hardie inspired patriarchical socialism being left behind by the active Marxism of a younger generation. The play reflected the difference between his father’s beliefs and Mercer’s own—though Mercer was smart enough to be critical of his own ideals.

The play was successful and he followed it with A Climate of Fear (1962), which dealt with conscience under the threat of a possible nuclear war, and The Birth of a Private Man (1963), concerning the problems of maintaining strong political conscience within an affluent environment.

Mercer brought a naturalism to the theater of ideas—he discussed issues of Empire, politics and patriarchy in plays such as, The Governor’s Lady (1965) and After Haggerty (1970), while his television plays, The Parachute (1968), which starred fellow playwright John Osborne, and On The Eve of Publication (1969) with an incredible central performance by Leo McKern, and Shooting the Chandelier (1977) with Alun Armstrong and Edward Fox, which have shaped TV drama right through to present day (in particular the works of Stephen Poliakoff or David Hare), though David Mercer himself is all too often forgotten.

Though a Socialist, Mercer was never blinkered to the follies and mistakes of Socialism, Communism and the politics of the Left. He was aware that the aim of political revolution was often frustrated by the inherited conventions of society, and by the frailty of human emotion and mind. This was shown to it great effect in the film version of his play, Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), in which David Warner, had an obsessional relationship with Marxism, apes, and his ex-wife (Vanessa Redgrave), that led him to (literally) become a revolutionary “gorilla” determined to derail his ex-wife’s new relationship. 
 

 
With thanks to NellyM
 
More from David Mercer and the theater of politics, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Republican ‘hero’ Ted Nugent shit in his own pants to avoid the draft!
02.11.2013
06:11 pm

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Current Events

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Republican loud-mouth, attention-seeking buffoon and draft dodging he-man man’s man, rocker Ted Nugent, the manly-man-man-man who gave his very own personal seal o’ approval to Mitt Romney and now, apparently, wants to give that very same kiss of death to the NRA.

Oh yes, if you haven’t heard, “the Motor City madman” will be the guest of Texas Congressman Steve Stockman at Obama’s State of the Union speech tomorrow night. Nugent plans to make an ass of himself highly visible on television both before and after the President’s speech (“During” would be interesting). Gun control advocates predict that Nugent’s appearance—let’s face it, whether you are a gun fan or not, Ted Nugent is a complete fucking twat—will backfire, making the NRA’s arguments harder to swallow.

In honor of this, here’s an oldie, but a goodie, an excerpt from a 1977 interview Nugent gave to High Times magazine:

High Times:How did you get out of the draft?

Ted Nugent: Ted was a young boy, appearing to be a hippie but quite opposite in fact, working hard and playing hard, playing rock and roll like a deviant. People would question my sanity, I played so much. So I got my notice to be in the draft. Do you think I was gonna lay down my guitar and go play army? Give me a break! I was busy doin’ it to it. I had a career Jack. If I was walkin’ around, hippying down, getting’ loaded and pickin’ my ass like your common curs, I’d say “Hey yeah, go in the army. Beats the poop out of scuffin’ around in the gutters.” But I wasn’t a gutter dog. I was a hard workin’, motherfuckin’ rock and roll musician.

I got my physical notice 30 days prior to. Well, on that day I ceased cleansing my body. No more brushing my teeth, no more washing my hair, no baths, no soap, no water. Thirty days of debris build. I stopped shavin’ and I was 18, had a little scraggly beard, really looked like a hippie. I had long hair, and it started gettin’ kinky, matted up. Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer-stuff I never touched-buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup, I was this side of death, Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. poop, piss the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.

See, I approached the whole thing like, Ted Nugent, cool hard-workin’ dude, is gonna wreak havoc on these imbeciles in the armed forces. I’m gonna play their own game, and I’m gonna destroy ‘em. Now my whole body is crusted in poop and piss. I was ill. And three or four days before, I started stayin’ awake. I was close to death, but I was in control. I was extremely antidrug as I’ve always been, but I snorted some crystal methedrine. Talk about one wounded motherfucker. A guy put up four lines, and it was for all four of us, but I didn’t know and I’m vacuuming that poop right up. I was a walking, talking hunk of human poop. I was six-foot-three of sin. So the guys took me down to the physical, and my nerves, my emotions were distraught. I was not a good person. I was wounded. But as painful and nauseous as it was – ‘cause I was really into bein’ clean and on the ball – I made gutter swine hippies look like football players. I was deviano.

So I went in, and those guys in uniform couldn’t believe the smell. They were ridiculin’ me and pushin’ me around and I was cryin’, but all the time I was laughin’ to myself. When they stuck the needle in my arm for the blood test I passed out, and when I came to they were kicking me into the wall. Then they made everybody take off their pants, and I did, and this sergeant says, “Oh my God, put those back on! You fucking swine you!” Then they had a urine test and I couldn’t piss, But my poop was just like ooze, man, so I poop in the cup and put it on the counter. I had poop on my hand and my arm. The guy almost puked. I was so proud. I knew I had these chumps beat. The last thing I remember was wakin’ up in the ear test booth and they were sweepin’ up. So I went home and cleaned up.

They took a putty knife to me. I got the street rats out of my hair, ate some good steaks, beans, potatoes, cottage cheese, milk. A couple of days and I was ready to kick ass. And in the mail I got this big juicy 4-F. They’d call dead people before they’d call my ass. But you know the funny thing about it? I’d make an incredible army man. I’d be a colonel before you knew what hit you, and I’d have the baddest bunch of motherfuckin’ killers you’d ever seen in my platoon. But I just wasn’t into it. I was too busy doin’ my own thing, you know?

Yeah, man, lay off, the Nuge was just doing his own thing!

Let’s hope Ted’s wearing a diaper tomorrow evening, huh?

Below, a preposterous idiot in an Indian headdress plays “The Star Spangled Banner” on his gee-tar for an audience of mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Apocalypse Is Cancelled
02.11.2013
05:19 pm

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Books
Thinkers

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Former DM contributor, Jason Louv, editor of the cult classics Generation Hex and Thee Psychick Bible, writes:

Today I’m proud to announce a new ebook, The Apocalypse is Cancelled: Three Keys to Surviving and Thriving as a Species.

The book is a comprehensive vision of the future. It hands you the keys to:

1. Achieve freedom through meditation

2. Make sure Western civilization doesn’t crash and burn

3. Embrace space travel for fun and profit

From the opening of the book:

“I believe that life can work, and that life can be an adventure. And I want a participatory dialogue on how to get there. I want a comprehensive vision of the future for a generation that’s rejecting the unethical and unsustainable dreams of 20th century hypercapitalism, and looking to create a lifestyle that brings happiness instead of self-destruction.”

Consider it the Ultraculture manifesto. And to make sure the information spreads, I’m giving it away for free.

Download The Apocalypse is Cancelled

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
William Burroughs on the Occult
02.11.2013
04:45 pm

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Drugs
Heroes
Literature
Occult
Queer

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Two of the earliest things that I read by William Burroughs were The Job, a book’s worth of interviews conducted by Daniel Odier, along with some shorter pieces that focused on revolution (and revolutionary technology for lack of a better term) and The Third Mind, his enigmatic collaboration with painter Brion Gysin about the “cut-ups” literary technique, and its occult implications. The cuts-up technique holds that if you randomly rearrange words via chance operation, that you’ll find their “real” meaning or encourage some sort of prophecy to leak through. Sort of like those “Magnetic Poetry” refrigerator magnets used as a Ouija board, to put it simply…

The “occult Burroughs” is my favorite aspect of his work. When the topic veers towards the use of occult technology in the employment of revolution, I prefer that even more (like “The Revised Boy Scout Manual”).

Burroughs had a strong interest in the occult all of his life, but aside from his own writings, there were precious few interviews where he’s speaking openly about his magical interests. The interviews that come to mind immediately are the ones Vale did in RE/Search #4/5 and a late in life Q&A that (I think) was conducted by the great Kristine McKenna around the time of Burroughs’ big LACMA art show in 1996 (I can’t find it online). Burroughs’ major biography, Literary Outlaw by Ted Morgan, barely touches on the subject, as if a major component of his subject’s worldview had sailed right over Morgan’s head, although Barry Miles’ more sympathetic El Hombre Invisible is much more satisfying in this regard.

Below, William S. Burroughs lectures to his writing class at Naropa University, on “wishing machines,” the paranormal, synchronicity, propaganda and dreams. You can hear Allen Ginsberg’s voice in a couple of places. Taped in Boulder, Colorado on June 25,1986.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hank Hill listens to the new Scott Walker album
02.11.2013
03:35 pm

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Amusing
Music

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Apparently Hank Hill is not much of a Scott Walker fan.

 
Via WFMU Facebook page

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Arnold Schwarzenegger is an ass man (hilariously inappropriate)
02.11.2013
02:55 pm

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Amusing

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Arnold Schwarzenegger goes to Carnaval in Rio. Hilarity ensues!

“You know something, after watching the mullatos shake it, I can absolutely understand why Brazil is totally devoted to my favorite body part, the ass.”

Easy to see how the former body builder, Hollywood action star and one-time occupant of the governor’s mansion in Sacramento, CA got his “Der Gropenator” nickname…

“I learned one word yesterday… BUNDA!!!

The part where he teaches her some English is pretty classic.
 

 
Thank you Syd Garon!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
John Lennon and Paul McCartney explain the philosophy behind Apple in extended 1968 interview
02.11.2013
02:31 pm

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Extended 1968 interview with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The pair discuss touring (and why The Beatles stopped), their time in India, McCartney’s LSD media flap, and the then-new Apple Corps and what the group were trying to achieve with the company.

There’s a question referring to Enoch Powell’s then recent anti-immigrant “Rivers of Blood” speech (not mentioned by name here, but this is what he’s talking about) that sees the interviewer go on to ask them about racial politics in England and the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King in America.

I dig Paul’s coat.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The golden age of 1970s porn paperbacks
02.11.2013
01:39 pm

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Amusing
Books
Sex

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Blog of Zontar the thing from Venus posted some rather hilarious 70s porn movie paperback tie-ins. The one for Defiance!... is that an actual novelization of a porn movie? (I wonder how many of those there were?)

A few of these are so absurd, they’re just… absurd.

See more of ‘em here.

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A few more images after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Origins of Krautrock: ‘Kamera Song’ by The Inner Space (future members of Can), 1968
02.11.2013
12:59 pm

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Music

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A few months or so prior to American vocalist Malcolm Mooney joining them, in 1968, the core members of Can (Irmin Schmidt, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebezeit) and flutist David Johnson, under the name The Inner Space, recorded some songs and audio cues for a low budget German political satire titled Agilok & Blubbo. Directed by Peter F. Schneider and starring counterculture feminist icon/groupie Rosemarie Heinikel (aka Rosy Rosy), it would be the first time “experimental” music would be used for the soundtrack to a German film.

Rosy Rosy would go on to sing with Guru Guru, produce radio and children’s programming and write her autobiography (which included details of her trysts with Donovan and Frank Zappa). In 2009, the complete music for Agilok & Blubbo was released by Wah Wah Records.

“Kamera Song” (vocals by Rosy Rosy):
 

 
“Flop Pop”:
 

 
The ten-minute-long proto-krautrock workout of “Apokalypse”:
 

 
Another early Can soundtrack rarity, from the 1968 film Kama Sutra. The band, still billed as The Inner Space (but with Malcolm Mooney at this point and still with David Johnson) back vocalist Margareta Juvan, performing “I’m Hiding My Nightingale” as a band in a nightclub, before they start their own “Man Called Joe” number (from Delay 1968) at the clip’s end.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
3-year-old little girl hears Bad Brains for the first time: ‘Turn it up!’
02.11.2013
12:00 pm

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Amusing
Music
Punk

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Here’s young Adeline hearing Bad Brains for the time. The song is “Attitude.” She’s got some attitude!

As YouTube uploader dudeabides671 writes, “Some things you just can’t teach…” 

 
h/t Jeff Albers

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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