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Me Start a Vanguard Party to Lead the Working Class to Revolution? You Must Be Kidding!!
08:48 am



This snarky little bit of political humor was found in Radical America, a magazine published by Students for a Democratic Society. It’s a little inside baseball, but anyone familiar with the New Left movement of U.S. politics will recognize the references to notorious infighting and pedantry.

“Me Start a Vanguard Party to Lead the Working Class to Revolution? You Must Be Kidding!!”

Over the past few years, Party Builders Associates has aided countless individuals and groups to form vanguard parties intelligently tailored to their own needs. These people are now leading creative, happy lives fighting one another. What we’ve done for others, we can do for you.

A few minutes filling out the following questionnaire may be the best investment you’ll ever make. Your answers will enable Party Builders Associates, preserving strict confidentiality, to work out a party program that is JUST RIGHT for you and your friends.

And now, here’s the questionnaire. We advise using a pencil, since these are by no means easy questions, and your party will not be able to alter the positions taken here without seriously damaging your credibility among the workers.

1) The Russian Revolution turned away from socialism in:
(a) 1917
(b) 1927
(c) 1953
(d) 1957
(e) It hasn’t yet, but my group will be the first to denounce it when it does

2) Black people are:
(a) A nation
(b) A nation of a new type
(c) A super-exploited sector of the working class
(d) Petit-bourgeois
(e) A colony
(f) Please send me more information about this controversial group

3) The main danger facing the workers’ vanguard in the present epoch is:
(a) Right opportunism
(b) “Left” sectarianism
(c) Right opportunism masking as “left” sectarianism
(d) My parents
(e) Other (please specify)

4) Rather than focus on narrow economic issues, my party will offer a cultural critique of life in advanced capitalist countries. The following are signs of capitalist decadence:
(a) Feminism
(b) Trotskyism
(c) Pornographic movies
(d) Recent price increases in pornographic movies
(e) Other (please give exact details)

5) I would like to include the following in the title of my party:
(a) Labor
(b) Workers
(c) Revolutionary
(d) Socialist
(e) Communist
(f) Vanguard
(g) Progressive
(h) October(November)
(i) United
(j) International
(k) World
(l) Movement
(m) M
(n) L
(o) All of the above

Let’s see, who splintered from Students from a Democratic Society?  The Weather Underground, Progressive Labor (Maoists), The Revolutionary Youth Movement. The other Maoists/ Communist Party Marxist-Leninists…


Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
1960s Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs Identification Kit
08:43 am



I doubt these displays ever convinced any kids to abstain from drugs (come on, who just walks around with a poppy?), but they’re sort of beautiful in a Joseph Cornell meets Hunter S. Thomspon kind of way. I’d put one on my wall, anyways.
More photos after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Peter Gabriel covers Tom Waits for The Voice Project
08:04 pm

Current Events


Voice Project co-founder Hunter Heaney recording schoolchildren in Koro Abili

It would seem by now, that most of the world is well-aware of the LRA—Lord’s Resistance Army—the much-feared fighters led by blood-thirsty despot Joseph Kony, who has been terrorizing war-torn northern Uganda (and beyond) for over two decades. Kony’s diabolical practice of abducting children from their families and often forcing them to commit atrocities—killing or raping friends and family members—have left many of the former soldiers who have managed to escape from him feeling unable to return to their tribes for fear of reprisals.

Among the Ugandan women, an extraordinary peace movement formed. Armed only with music—so-called “dwog paco” or “come home” songs—their goal was to let the LRA soldiers know that they are forgiven and that they should return home. The Voice Project was inspired when Hunter Heaney was volunteering at an IDP camp in Agoro, a small village in northern Uganda where he heard the “dwog paco” songs and learned of how they were spread, often just by word of mouth, like musical chain letters.

When Heaney returned home to the US, he enlisted his friends, filmmaker Anna Gabriel (daughter of Peter Gabriel) and musician/producer Chris Holmes (Ashtar Command) who co-founded The Voice Project with him. The trio tapped into their contacts, convincing friends and musicians from across the globe to cover another artist’s song in “cover chains” like they are playing “tag”—the point being, that when you went to their website to hear Peter Gabriel cover Tom Waits, you would become aware of the situation in the Congo. Perhaps you’d want to share the songs on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps you’d want to buy the Home Recordings album on iTunes—featuring Peter Gabriel, Billy Bragg, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Andrew Bird, Dawes, Joe Purdy, R.E.M.‘s Mike Mills, Angélique Kidjo and many others—and support a very worthy cause.
Owing to the rather unfortunate circumstances involving the Invisible Children organization and the Kony 2012 video, you are probably wondering if the money is going to produce cult-like music videos. I personally know the people involved and I can tell you for sure that this is not the case.

Where the money will go is towards helping The Voice Project (working in tandem with the United Nations) to build and maintain FM radio stations that will play the “dwog paco” songs around the clock allowing the message of forgiveness to penetrate deep into the jungle. There has been a dramatic increase in defections from the LRA recently and most of of the former combatants escaping from Kony cite the FM radio broadcasts and “come home” messages in the Luo language from family members and other defectors like themselves as their principle reason for coming out of the bush and returning to their homes.

Hunter Heany, via email from Uganda explained:

When we first heard these “come home” songs in 2008 and worked to start spreading the word on this, how effectively music was at bringing these kids home, how music was actually helping to end this war and had already brought home thousands of children and combatants, that this was something we could help amplify on the ground as well as learn from as an international community, there were plenty of people who just dismissed it. They didn’t take it seriously or just treated it as a quaint, localized story.

Getting funding was almost impossible, we got turned down by every single foundation we applied to, but the people who got it, understandably enough, were the music people. They are the ones who helped us spread the word on this and carry that message around the world. I think deep down we all know that music can change lives, it’s one of the most deeply effective and formative means of human communication, and musicians who have built their lives around that truth were our first natural supporters.

The rest of international community is catching on now, and that is incredibly exciting.

For the first time in in a quarter century, the region has a chance at real peace. By helping the Ugandan women’s peace movement amplify their message of forgiveness, The Voice Project has played an important role in all of this.

The Voice Project on Facebook
The Voice Project on Twitter

Below, a short film, narrated by Peter Gabriel, that explains what the Voice Project does:

Peter Gabriel covers Tom Waits’ “In the Neighborhood’:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
All the Colors of the Night: Beautiful Aurora Display, Caithness, Scotland
07:44 pm



Maciej Winiarczyk’s beautiful time lapse photography of an aurora display on Sandigoe Beach in Caithness, Scotland, from January 17th, 2013. 

Winiarczyk explains that ‘each frame was exposed for 8 sec. with ISO 3200 and lens aperture set to f/2.8. All frames were shot in RAW and later postprocessed in Adobe Lightroom 4.3 and LRTimelapse software.

‘Equipment used, Canon 7D with 10mm Sigma diagonal fisheye lens.’

See more of Maciej’s work here.



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Sympathy for the Devil: The Truth about Satanism in America (NSFW)
05:24 pm



It was producer Brian Butler who suggested doing a piece on these comically feuding “Satanists,” some whimsical characters he found on the Internet. They called themselves “The Syndicate of the Five Points,” a reference both to the pentagram and also that they were five Satanic covens who were joining their membership together. Each component part of the Syndicate was a “cult” consisting of a “leader” and no followers.

Initially these would-be cult leaders were all friendly towards each other and would meet and hang out and bullshit about the Dark One, evil and stuff, at shopping mall food courts and so forth, but wouldn’t you know it, one of them had to go off and marry his Christian girlfriend (on Richard Simmons’ Dream-maker TV show, no less!). Then there was “The Cartoon” that tore them apart.

I don’t want to give too much away, you’ll just have to watch it. The less said beforehand, the better.

One thing I will mention is that if you watched one of the earlier clips I’ve posted here, Brice Taylor: Mind Controlled Sex Slave of the CIA, Bob Hope and Henry Kissinger, you’ll already be familiar with the late Ted Gunderson, who was a special agent of the FBI in Southern California and at one time had about 700 agents under him. That’s actually true. How a complete idiot like Gunderson—an amusing, total nut-job of the conspiracy theory set who believed any darn thing he was told—ever got in a position of power like that is a question I’ve mused about elsewhere. From the time between his earlier on-camera interview in the Brice Taylor piece and when this one was shot a month or two later, the number of “practicing Satanists” in America had dropped by one million. Remarkable, don’t you think, unless of course, Ted was just making this shit up off the top of his head, which was exactly what he was doing.

It’s also why we brought him into the piece as we couldn’t figure out how to make it work with just the Satanists alone—they were too boring, funny but not really funny enough—and we knew he’d be good value as their onscreen nemesis. Gunderson’s ridiculous paranoia elevated the piece to an entirely different, weirder place. How could we have done this without him? The man was was a genius of unintentional idiocy, a real-life Fred Willard character with a strong opinion on everything. Comedic gold for a show like mine.

Incidentally, Ted Gunderson is not the only one of this crew who is dead. “Spook,” the guy who claims to have strangled a dog, is burning somewhere in Hell. No great loss there, I’m sure most of you will agree.

I’m not quite sure what happened to Magister Nalls, but I have heard that he’s not really a Satanist anymore. The dude who calls himself “Desecration” was, I believe, the limo driver of former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan (who obviously surrounded himself with the finest security experts that money could buy if this “evil” wackadoodle passed the fuckin’ background check!).

Yet another segment from my UK TV series of 2000-2001, Disinformation. Produced by Brian Butler. Shot by Nimrod Erez. Edited by Nimrod Erez and Doug Stone. Music by Adam Peters and Brian Butler.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Punk rock, now more than ever: The gospel according to Henry Rollins and various old punks
05:05 pm



I’m no Henry Rollins fan but when he’s good he can be very good, as he is in this short piece on punk rock, Is Punk Back From The Dead?, that was broadcast on British TV recently.

The clip also includes some thoughts on punk from John Holmstrom, Tony James (Generation X), Mark Perry (Sniffin’ Glue) and Toyah Wilcox. The consensus: punk now more than ever!

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Get Crazy’: A rock satire starring Malcolm McDowell, Lou Reed, John Densmore and Lee Ving
03:19 pm



1983’s Get Crazy, directed by Allan Arkush (Rock And Roll High School) is one of the few rock movies that get the energy right. It doesn’t have a whole lot to do with reality, but so what? The best movies about the devil’s music are often the goofiest.

Things go off the rails in this good-humored farce about a chaotic New Years Eve concert at a Fillmore-like venue where no one seems to have a handle on what the fuck is going on. Malcolm McDowell is a riot as the Mick Jaggeresque rock star Reggie Wanker, as is the rest of the saavy cast, including Lou Reed, John Densmore, Lee Ving, Howard Kaylan and Derf Scratch - all displaying the “been there, done that” aura of men who’ve been in the rock ‘n’ roll trenches and come out smiling.

Before getting into making films, Arkush worked at the Fillmore East, so he knows the territory.
Get Crazy is silly fun. Enjoy.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Ziggy played guitar: Extraordinary live David Bowie rarities from 1972
12:37 pm



These fan-shot clips of David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars in Dunstable, supporting the then brand-new Ziggy Stardust album on June 21, 1972, have been sync’d up to live recordings. I’m unsure if the audio is from the same show, sometimes they’re really in sync, other times less so, but it’s close enough for rock and roll.

YouTube user bri2kay is who we have to thank for this Ziggiful bounty. Considering the scarcity of Ziggy-era footage, this is gold. And there’s a lot more where these came from.

“Ziggy Stardust”:

“Suffragette City”:

Here’s one I didn’t expect, “Song for Bob Dylan”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The ‘Alien Father’ is H.R. Giger: Giger’s furious letter to 20th Century Fox
12:13 pm



H.R. Giger is mad as hell and he’s not gonna to take it anymore! And understandably so, in this 1997 letter from H.R. Giger to 20th Century Fox for omitting his name in the credits for Alien: Resurrection.

The last paragraph is a zinger!

November 13, 1997


The Alien Quartet has, from the very beginning, contained my unique and personal style. For the first film ALIEN, I was awarded an Oscar for “Best Achievement for Visual Effects”. In ALIENS, a film I was not asked to work on, I still received a screen credit for “Original Alien Design”. On ALIEN 3, I was cheated out of the Oscar nomination received by that film because 20th Century Fox gave me the credit, “Original Alien Design” again, instead of “Alien 3 Creature Design”, as it was my rightful title in accordance to my contract and the work I had performed on the film. In 1976 I had completed two paintings, “Necronom IV” and “Necronom V”, in which two long-headed creatures appeared. In 1977 these paintings were published in my book, NECRONOMICON, by Sphinx Verlag, Basel, in German. It was in this version of the book that Ridley Scott, in his search for a credible Alien creature, came across these two paintings and decided on them for the full-grown Alien, using the words “That’s it!” The statement has been graciously repeated by Ridley Scott in almost every interview about his work on ALIEN.

The creatures in ALIEN: RESURRECTION are even closer to my original Alien designs than the ones which appear in ALIENS and ALIEN 3. The film also resurrects my original designs for the other stages of the creature’s life-cycle, the Eggs, the Facehugger and the Chestburster. ALIEN: RESURRECTION is an excellent film. What would it look like without my Alien life-forms? In all likelihood, all the sequels to ALIEN would not even exist! The designs and my credit have been stolen from me, since I alone have designed the Alien. So why does Fox not give me the credit I rightfully earned?

As for those responsible for this conspiracy: All I can wish them is an Alien breeding inside their chests, which might just remind them that the “Alien Father” is H.R.Giger.


Via Letters of Note

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Punk-Esotericism: The Occult Roots of the Wu-Tang Clan
07:27 am



Illustration by Ruth Gwily

An extract from my contribution to Mark Goodall’s brand new book Gathering of the Tribe: Music and Heavy Conscious Creation, a collection of essays on music and the occult, featuring contributions from Mick Farren and David Kerekes among others, and pieces on the Beatles, the Fall, Nick Cave, John Coltrane and many more.

Before it was destroyed in a 1965 bombing, Harlem’s Nation of Islam Mosque No.7 could boast a cluster of striking alumni and associates, suggestive perhaps that powerful — or even sinister — forces were circling it. Louis Farrakhan was once in charge there, and was preceded in the role by none other than Malcolm X, who famously brought Cassius Clay into the Harlem orbit (turning him into Muhammad Ali in the process). Somewhat bringing up the rear is the comparatively little known Clarence 13X, whose eviction from Mosque No.7 and the NOI by Malcolm X led him to found The Nation of Gods and Earths — more colloquially known as the 5 Percenters, an heretical sub-sect of the NOI that would later distinguish itself by providing the slang and mythos behind much of the greatest rap music ever made, including Rakim, DOOM, and the (so to speak) meta-gangster rap of mid-nineties New York, exemplified by acts such as Nas, Mobb Deep and The Wu-Tang Clan.
Cassius Clay, of course, remained “Orthodox” — describing himself as “a fisherman for Elijah Mohammed” (the then-head of the NOI and self-proclaimed savior of Black America). While there is inadequate opportunity to get into the rules and dogma of the NOI, we should note that the hook upon which Clay skewered his bait had much more in common with Freemasonry than it did traditional Islam…

As in any Masonic sect, NOI members are initiated incrementally, and must memorize (and demonstrate some understanding of) tracts of esoteric lore in order to graduate to higher levels. One of the things neophytes must learn is a catechism of symbolism and numerology called “The Lost and Found Muslim Lessons.” These can sound pretty odd to profane ears (for example: “What are the exact square miles of the useful land that is used every day by the total population of the planet Earth?”) but are meant to impart esoteric insight through recitation.

These “Lost and Found Muslim Lessons” are wedded to the NOI’s recognizably Gnostic narrative, in which the traditional Gnostic Demiurge figure (the inept or malevolent creator of the material world in which the soul finds itself imprisoned) is the infamous Yacub, a mad scientist responsible for breeding the defective white race (“Dad”) and endowing it with a significant metaphysical fallacy for good measure — the concept of a “mystery god,” a deity that exists without (rather than within) humanity. Humanity itself is divided up between the ten percent of people aware of such truths but who opt to use them to oppress the ignorant eighty-five percent, and the remaining five percent who are aware of these truths and dedicated to using them to empower and enlighten the masses (good on ‘em).

Unfortunately, membership of the NOI looks a bit of a drag. As well as apparently having to permanently don a bow tie (I think I’d sooner be circumcised), gambling, fornication and intoxication are forbidden. Rectitude is the order of the day… excluding, apparently (and as ever), the sect’s leadership, who in the Sixties were beset with a number of scandals regarding its near pathological philandering, a double standard that must have helped to inspire Clarence 13X – expelled by Malcolm X from Mosque No.7 for like incontinence – to form his 5 Percenters, changing his own name to “Allah” for good measure.

Now here’s where it gets interesting, for Clarence 13X did not found his group in order to implement the top-down rectitude lacking in the NOI, nor to replicate its hypocrisies, but to instead altogether loosen the shackles of piety.

Goodness knows they chafed him enough — Clarence (a handsome fellow, as well as a snappy dresser) enjoyed a drink, smoke, toot, flutter and fuck no less than the average Rolling Stone, and saw little wrong with his fellow 5 Percenters enjoying the same, so long as they were careful to eschew pork — the notorious P.I.G. (he also — and in no little contradistinction to Mick, Keith and the gang — encouraged his followers to steer clear of smack, which he deemed “the swine of substances”).

Of much greater importance to Clarence than conventionally respectable behavior — which he appeared to think either would or wouldn’t assert itself in its own sweet time — was the wider dissemination of the NOI’s metaphysics among the offspring of New York’s African American slums, a rambunctious generation theoretically ripe for NOI conversion but likely to be deterred by the required lifestyle strictures.

Clarence lived out the remainder of his life balancing his role as religious mentor with his penchant for drinking, gambling and womanizing, during which time the 5 Percenters spread impressively, with its founder attracting plenty of negative attention and spending a certain amount of time in New York prisons and mental institutions, eventually being shot dead in ambiguous circumstances.

It was surely Clarence 13X’s teasing apart of morality and metaphysics that later made his creed so viable to the Nineties rap outlaws. Even in his lifetime this masterstroke had its repercussions, with the initial generation of Clarence’s converts causing a tabloid furor, the press misunderstanding the 5 Percenter insignia as merely the shtick of a dangerous new gang — by the time the ‘crack epidemic’ would divide up America’s slums into predators and prey, 5 Percenter theology was well entrenched as the warrior creed of a growing urban soldiery.

One tempting explanation for the ensuing high proportion of significant 5 Percenter emcees is that, by demanding that adolescent initiates begin committing the extensive NOI catechisms to memory, the proselytizers — usually older friends or relatives — incidentally enhanced these young persons’ mnemonic and recitative abilities.

Certainly, by the time the young RZA decided to form his collective, he was able to reap seven superb emcees with a single close sweep of his razorblade. For the initial core of the group, GZA, Method Man, and the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, RZA’s blade hardly had to travel, as all four were related to varying degrees and had been listening to hip hop, studying 5 Percenter theology and playing chess since childhood. These three voices — respectively cerebral, stylish and anarchic — dominate Enter the 36 Chambers...

So, one minute the Wu were playing clubs and house parties in their native Staten Island — there are rather picturesque accounts of ODB tripping on acid and firing his gun into the ceiling mid-gig — and the next they were superstars. RZA would spend the following five years brilliantly consolidating their legacy: producing and directing classic solo albums by the Wu’s five most talented members. Taken together, these solo debuts — Method Man’s Tical, GZA’s Liquid Swords, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Ghostface Killah’s Ironman and ODB’s Return to the 36 Chambers, the Dirty Version — surely constitute the richest oeuvre in hip hop.

Besides the career criminal and the cataclysmically unlucky, no one is more instinctively superstitious than the superstar —  who fortune has touched with her most conspicuous (albeit volatile) wand. You can only imagine how the members of the Wu, all long since initiated into a form of urban witchcraft that attested to their inner divinity, felt to wake up and find themselves world famous. Whether or not the impoverished and mundane aspects of their former lives ever tested their faith in the mystical worldview of The Nation of Gods and Earths, their subsequent success manifestly compounded it, resulting in their becoming propagandists for Clarence 13X’s small sect and introducing it to tens of millions of listeners around the world.

For ODB, meanwhile, who had betrayed schizophrenic tendencies long before stardom provided ostensible confirmation of this supernatural worldview, success would only push him deeper into psychosis. By all accounts, he was one of the most dedicated 5 Percenters in the Wu, a fact that has usually been met with incredulity by some chroniclers of the group, who are stumped by the challenge of ascribing fervid religiosity to a pop star renowned for his spectacular affection for arrest, anilingus and crack cocaine. Fair enough, though in ODB’s history of womanizing, incarceration, shootings and insanity, we can detect an echo of the life of Clarence 13X himself, and are reminded that the 5 Percenters are an unusually flexible – and, frankly, rock’n’roll – sect.

A limited number of special edition “Gathering of the Tribe” hardbacks are available only from the Headpress website for only $35.71 (US postage just $3) – paperback out next month.

Splendid footage of some early 5 Percenters discussing Vietnam

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
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