Following on from m’colleague Thomas McGrath’s blog on the high weirdness of a photograph of Jimmy Savile with Pete Sutcliffe (aka The Yorkshire Ripper) and world boxing champ, Frank Bruno, here’s an amusing picture of kiddy fiddler Sir Jimmy Savile giving former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair the horn.
In 1967, the FBI was keeping close tabs on The People’s Weekly, the communist party’s west-coast newspaper affiliate. They had an informant who knew his way around the circulation department and was feeding them names of subscribers.
Among them, according to newly released records, was Hunter S. Thompson, a high-flying, drug-addled journalist who had just written a book about riding with the Hell’s Angels.
The FBI began gathering string on Thompson, who moved from San Francisco to Woody Creek, Colo. (where, decades later, he would commit suicide).
The agency followed Thompson’s unsuccessful bid for sheriff of Pitkin County, in which the Freak Power candidate memorably shaved his head bald and began referring to the crew-cut sheriff he was running against as “my long-haired opponent.” (Thompson campaigned on promises to rename Aspen “Fat City USA”; to jackhammer the streets and lay down sod; and to legalize drugs for personal use. Profit-seeking traffickers would be put in stocks on the courthouse lawn.)
FBI agents interviewed Thompson’s mailman and other Woody Creek locals. They collected copies of the Aspen Wallposter, a bimonthly newspaper that Thompson edited with the artist Tom Benton; illustrations of a bloody-mouthed Nixon (spelled with a swastika) and “comments regarding law enforcement and the Director” caught the agency’s eye. The Secret Service was alerted.
All this and more is detailed in Thompson’s FBI file, which I got a copy of last week.
But it’s only 58 pages long. Cody is probably right about this not being the entire file. I have Timothy Leary’s FBI file and it’s a foot tall stack of photocopies. Hunter S. Thompson’s life would surely have called for the same level of “documentation” during the Nixon administration and beyond, as Leary’s did.
Read Hunter S. Thompson’s FBI file (or at least part of it) at MuckRock.
The inanity of this ad is awe-inspiring, especially the tag line:
Don’t Let Hollywood manipulate your vote!
Nope, let some lying liars manipulate your vote, instead!
Creepy, creepy stuff. How fucking dumb would you have to be to buy into any of this, or be swayed by this specious argument? Having said that, it’s not like Republicans don’t win elections all the time by appealing for the votes of America’s ignorant masses…
In the world of drag, no-one is hotter than Sharon Needles right now. In fact, you could say she is the undisputed queen of drag. Granted, this may have a lot to do with her winning season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo TV earlier this year, but, to give her her due, she’s been that show’s biggest break-out star ever, with a legion of adoring fans that have come from far and wide, and not just the gay and drag scenes.
Because, you see, more than just being a drag queen, Sharon Needles is a FREAK. She speaks to everyone who has ever felt outcast, for whatever reason, and in this era of dying conservatism (where anything different is labelled “wrong,”) she does a pretty damn good job of standing up for the outsiders. Her winning of the TV show against some fiercely talented and beautiful contestants felt like a victory for anyone who is different, for the bullied, the awkward, the bizarre and the downtrodden.
So I just had to interview to her. It took nearly six months, but I was finally granted an email interview with this underground superstar last week, and I’ll be damned if I was gonna waste it on bitching about the other Drag Race queens, or questions about drugs and shoes, or having a kiki with the Scissor Sisters. No, Needles’ is a brilliant, dangerous mind and I wanted to know more about the “serious” stuff.
THE NIALLIST: Something tells me you won’t be voting for Mitt Romney this year. Do you mind telling us how you will be voting? And how are you finding the political discourse in America in the run up this election?
SHARON NEEDLES: There’s definitely a severe polarization in politics these days. I blame this on the media, and big money. I find politics to be something quite personal, and something that I keep to myself. But as Snoop Dogg, now known as Snoop Lion, has recently said in an interview, you can either vote for Lucifer or Satan. He is choosing neither. True change comes from within, not a 3 piece suit.
TN: As a performer, I sense your work draws a lot from non-typical drag influences, ie a lot of stuff outside the world of drag. You’ve been forthcoming about your love of Marilyn Manson, and most of the interviews I have read with you tend to focus on your drag-spirations, but what non-drag artists have had an impact/influence on you?
SN: Willam S. Burroughs, Andy Warhol, serial killers, under-appreciated horror films, transsexuals, politics, rock ‘n’ roll, and an all around distaste for organized religion.
TN: Are you going to any of the “Twins Of Evil” tour? And what is your opinion of Marilyn Manson’s most recent work? Do you think there are any cultural figures from the last 5 years that could claim his level of influence and/or subversion?
SN: Marilyn Manson was my Backstreet Boys growing up. Though I’ve felt a disconnect with his body of work in the last decade or so, he was an inspiration to me in my developmental years. Anything after Mechanical Animals, I unfortunately think is downgraded… what went wrong?
TN: Guest question from Mark @ Tranarchy - what would you be doing if you hadn’t discovered drag?
SN: First of all, I’d like to say I love Tranarchy, I’ve been following their work. And if wasn’t doing drag I’d probably be writing, traveling, painting, or dead.
TN: Guest question from Lady Munter @ Menergy - how relevant do you think RuPaul really is to our generation (late 20s-early 30s)? Before Drag Race, he was out of the limelight for quite some time and was seen to be a bit of a naff 90s memory.
SN: So many people hold the responsibility for social relevancy. Pop culture took a much more boring twist in the early 2000’s, with such safe creations as ‘N Sync and Britney Spears. They left no room for the genius that is RuPaul. But unlike so many who have gone to the wasteland of reclusion, RuPaul has proved to be a true pop icon and underground survivor.
TN: After a recent mis-identification involving a dildo, Joshua Grannel described Peaches Christ as being “sex-negative”. Would you say Sharon Needles is sex-negative or sex-positive, and why?
SN: Sharon Needles is an example of American, consumeristic, exaggerated, inflatable beauty. She is designed to be considered sexy, but should never be considered as being fucked. So many drag queens use sexuality as a way of describing their characters, I distance myself from that, there are bigger fish to fry. But in terms of one’s personal sexuality, I’m game for anything. No one should be judged for something that no one sees, we tend to be publicly scrutinized for something that is the most private thing in our lives, our sex lives. Dead girls never say no.
TN: How was it working with Peaches Christ on Silence Of The Trans? If you two re-teamed to do a different movie and had an unlimited budget and a cast of thousands at your beck and call, what would you like to do?
SN: Working with Peaches Christ was a nightmare come true. It’s very refreshing to work with entertainers that have like-minded concept on drag performing, someone who prefers to frighten and enlighten people, before titillating them. Me and Peaches have discussed working on film projects, though I would prefer our film to have a low budget. Big budgets ruin horror film. If we were to make a film, I would call it “Methamphetamine Zombies.” If Meth can wake the living, then Meth can wake the dead. I smell a sequel.
TN: Speaking of the word “trans,” what is your view on the controversy that flared up a few years ago about the use of the word “tranny” on Glee, and the ownership/use of that word by different communities?
SN: There are real dangerous people doing real dangerous things in this big dangerous world to hurt people. Words only carry the merit that you give them. Intent trumps language. In my culture, language is twenty-six consonants and vowels swirled around to create dialog. Dialog can also be misinterpreted, but I’m the wrong person to ask. I love foul language, I love pushing barriers with my tongue. No one is safe. And I’m a tranny.
TN: You are no stranger to controversy yourself, in particular an incident involving the word “n****r” from earlier on this year. How has winning RuPaul’s Drag Race affected your performance, and have the reactions to, or the expectations of, your work changed since that particular incident?
SN: No. No one controls my art, and no one, and I mean no one, can say I have ever acted out, spoken out, or performed out of hatred. Do yourself some good, do some research, research Patti Smith, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Marilyn Manson, and William S. Burroughs on this very controversial word. Is it shocking? Yes. Have I ever used it without thought? No.
TN: Guest question from Gregor @ Mutate Design - on RuPaul’s Drag Race you were quick to point out you weren’t a “singer,” and struggled with that challenge. What then was the motivation for making a Sharon Needles album? And what can you tell us about your album (which I hope is called “Punk Rock Sex Clown”) - what are your main musical influences?
SN: I’ve never considered myself a singer, though others have told me otherwise. I’m currently playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, and have since been applauded for my vocal range and talent. My “album”, set to be released at the end of January, is a total example of compromise. A compromise between me and the industry, a compromise between underground and pop culture, and definitely a compromise within myself. That is why this album is entitled PG-13. All PG-13 films are compromised R-Rated films, and I’ve learned in this roller coaster of a year that happiness and success come with a compromise between you and your detractor.
[The album also features] Jayne County from Jayne County & The Electric Chairs, she was a 1970’s New York Punk Trans goddess ,completely underestimated and underappreciated, but I’ve devoted much of my spare time promoting her past, present, and future. She will be a guest on one of the tracks of my upcoming album.
Happy Halloween, Hail Satan, kill your parents, and steal everything.
TN: Thanks Sharon!
In this brilliant interview from The Daily Freak Show, James St James interviews Sharon Needles (as Aaron) and the legendary Jayne County:
Jon Stewart skewered Paul Ryan’s obviously staged photo op Monday at an Ohio homeless shelter, where the Republican VP candidate washed dishes, already CLEAN dishes:
Someone really needed to say this (and say it just like this):
“Do you know how hard it is to make volunteering at a homeless shelter look like a negative thing?” Stewart said. “And how dead inside does a national presidential campaign make you that you could be handed clean dishes and instead of saying, ‘Uh, you know these are clean right?’ You go, ‘Where’s my scrubby sponge?’”
If Ryan intends to manipulate the public’s emotions with staged photo opportunities, at least do it with a little “oomph,” Stewart added. “Even if you don’t really give a shit about the homeless, at least give a shit about making us think you give a shit. Don’t phone in your cynicism.”
“It was the phoniest piece of baloney I’ve ever been associated with. In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door. They couldn’t have cared less.”
Sherba also said that Congressman Ryan seemed to no interest in talking to the homeless who depend on the shelter. Reporters were prevented from covering the exchange that Ryan had with a handful of homeless men outside of the facility.
What a nauseating little dingle-berry Paul Ryan truly is. Can you imagine if Ryan had shown up just a little earlier and he was obliged to sit down with the poors and EAT THEIR FOOD?
The following was posted last night on Talking Politics by Boston Phoenix journalist David Bernstein:
Not a true story.
What actually happened was that in 2002—prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration—a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.
I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I’ve checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I’ve just presented it is correct—and that Romney’s claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.
I will write more about this later, but for tonight let me just make a few quick additional points. First of all, according to MassGAP and MWPC, Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn’t care about—and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about—budget, business development, etc.—went to women.
Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)
Third, note that in Romney’s story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn’t know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?
Post-debate, James Urbaniak. the voice of TV’s “Dr. Venture,” quipped on Twitter:
Romney missed an opportunity to also mention his dropbox full of gays.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. The Internet might have sagged and broken under its own weight with one more instantaneous meme fest like the “Binders full of Women” craze that roared out of the gate last night before the debate even ended.
Starbucks has paid no UK income tax since 2009. If I hadn’t paid my taxes since 2009, I’d have been up before the beak, fined, bankrupted, and probably sent straight to jail.
So, how the hell do Starbucks get away with it? Well, by shifting their profits outside of the UK, Starbucks has been able to claim they have made a loss in the UK “despite £3bn in coffee sales and opening 735 outlets,” as Channel4 News reports:
‘[Starbucks] paid just £8.6m in corporation tax - perfectly legal under UK law. In the past three years alone, Starbucks paid no tax on sales of £1.2bn because it reported losses.
Its nearest UK rival, Costa, recorded £377m sales last year, compared to Starbucks’s £398m in 2011, and its tax bill came to £15m, or 31 per cent of profits.
Starbucks was able to legally pay such a low rate of tax by posting a loss in the UK in the last three years, meaning it was therefore not liable for corporation tax. But according to a four-month investigation by the news agency Reuters, the UK unit was effectively paying money to other parts of the business, such as royalty payments for use of the brand.
Reuters compared the losses filed by the company’s UK unit over the years, with transcripts of conference calls made by the company’s executives telling investors about how profitable the company was.
In the 2007 financial year to end-September, accounts filed by Starbucks’s UK unit showed its tenth consecutive annual loss. But that November, Chief Operating Officer Martin Coles told analysts on the fourth-quarter earnings call that the UK unit’s profits were funding Starbucks’s expansion in other overseas markets.
The Seattle coffee chain has joined other US companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon that have also avoided paying tax.
“The [UK] government says that it has created a competitive tax system. The problem is that UK companies are paying the tax and the result is that it is an uneven playing field. UK businesses are disadvantaged against foreign businesses in the same market place. They are letting foreign companies do business here and not pay any tax.”
While these companies have not have done anything illegal, their actions are a major “fuck you” to the UK citizens and businesses, who pay their taxes. Think of the hospitals, health care, schools, pensions, and alike, this lost revenue could have paid for.
All of which make it more than apparent the current posh boys in government are more than happy to allow tax avoidance on a massive scale, while crippling the ordinary citizens with harsh, austerity measures and taxes.
UK Uncut are taking part in the ‘No cuts, no tax-dodging’ bloc, at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) march, on Saturday, October 20th, in London. Details here.