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‘Do the Oz,’ John and Yoko’s benefit single (and hopeful dance craze) for OZ magazine

John and Yoko march for OZ, August 1971 (via Meet the Beatles for Real)
“I think that everyone should own everything equally and that the people should own part of the factories and they should have some say in who is boss and who does what,” John Lennon announced to Hit Parader during his militant period. When he and Yoko Ono joined a march in London in August ‘71, holding up the latest issue of the Marxist newspaper Red Mole, they were demonstrating in support of both the IRA and the underground magazine OZ, whose editors had just been sent up the river on an obscenity beef.

John and Yoko took up the cause of the “OZ Three.” For their now-famous “school kids issue,” number 28, OZ had solicited and printed contributions from teenage readers, and was alleged thereby to have struck a mighty blow against the morality of English youth. During the ensuing obscenity trial, the defense actually called an expert witness to testify that just seeing the cover illustration was not enough to turn a healthy young person into a lesbian.

Note the “OZ Obscenity Trial” souvenir T-shirt, featuring R. Crumb’s character Honeybunch Kaminski
In the end, the editors got fifteen months in prison, and the hip community rallied to their defense, Jon Wiener reports in Come Together: John Lennon in His Time:

The OZ defense committee announced it would appeal, and John and Yoko joined the fundraising effort. They wrote the songs “God Save Us” and “Do the Oz,” released as a single by Apple in July 1971. John played on both and sang lead on “Do the Oz,” calling the group “the Elastic Oz Band.” Full-age ads appeared in all the British underground and radical newspapers: “Every major country has a screw in its side, in England it’s OZ. OZ is on trial for its life. John and Yoko have written and helped produce this record—the proceeds of which are going to OZ to help pay their legal fees. The entire British underground is in trouble, it needs our help. Please listen—‘God Save Oz.’”

Bill Elliot (later of the Dark Horse band Splinter) sings the A-side of the Elastic Oz Band single, which Lennon originally called “God Save Oz” but retitled “God Save Us.” Both sound the same in a Liverpool accent, I think Lennon is telling Sounds here:

First of all we wrote it as God Save Oz, you know, ‘God save Oz from it all,’ but then we decided they wouldn’t really know what we were talking about in America so we changed it back to ‘us’.

But the B-side, “Do the Oz,” is the keeper. Mutilating the lick from “Smokestack Lightning” on guitar, John hollers the steps of his modified hokey pokey while Yoko sings the terrifying, beguiling hum of modernity. Backing them are the Plastic Ono Band and, on acoustic guitars, two contributors to the “school kids issue,” future NME contributor Charles Shaar Murray and “Michelle.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘The Underside of Power’: New video from Algiers
09:41 am

Class War

Tamir Rice

Algiers have had a hell of a couple of years. In 2015, they dropped a fiercely original debut album that found an uncharted sweet spot between industrial rhythm and noise, post-punk guitar skreeeee, and the smoldering intensity of Southern black gospel. Wide acclaim, a few videos, and heavy touring followed, and the band’s core trio of singer/guitarist Franklin Fisher, bassist/synthesist Ryan Mahan, and guitarist Lee Tesche was augmented by touring (and now permanent) drummer Matt Tong, formerly of Bloc Party. In between all their rock labors, they wrote a second album, The Underside of Power, and WOW.

The Underside of Power, despite being written and recorded under duress of time, shows remarkable growth. The band’s disparate influences remain, but the album is characterized by a weird irony: the debut was written via file-swapping, when the band’s members lived in three different cities, but it feels like a rock band’s record. The second album, though it’s the product of a seasoned touring unit with a full-time drummer, feels more like the work of an electronic composer. That’s due to a combination of the band’s build-it-up-high-and-rip-it-all-down working method and Mahan’s stepping to the fore as the band’s primary tunesmith.

What haven’t changed are Fisher’s lyrical themes—his righteous and soulful declamations against injustice and abuse of power make Algiers one of this era’s most convincing purveyors of protest music. As a multi-racial band from Atlanta, GA, they engage head-on with race as well, a topic they handle powerfully on the song “Cleveland.” This one’s close to my heart—I’m born and bred in that fabled grey city, and the song deals in part with the extrajudicial execution of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland’s police. I know the neighborhood where Rice was killed quite well, and I pass that rec center often. It is still impossible to be anywhere near that block and not think about the senseless murder, the police’s wagon-circling around the shockingly incompetent officer who drive-by shot the poor kid, and the local media’s complicity in selling the cops’ ever-changing stories of how the shooting happened. That horrific event was a massive trauma in the black community, and more specifically still Rice’s family, but it was also, more broadly, Cleveland’s trauma (and it remains our shame), and hearing outsiders confront that event artistically is moving and illuminating.

Fisher and Tesche were kind enough to spend a good chunk of an afternoon chatting with me about the new album, how touring has changed them and their work, and “Cleveland.” A goofy phone connection rendered a couple of Fisher’s comments unintelligible. Any errors are my own interpolations. I did my best to faithfully preserve his meaning and tone, scout’s honor.

Dangerous Minds: The new album was made in a somewhat and unfortunately different world than the first one, and I was wondering to what degree the primaries and their attendant escalation of American racism and violence had an impact on the new music? And since, broadly speaking, you’ve been dealing with themes of injustice anyway, would it have been so different an album had last year gone differently?

Fisher: Yes, I think all of it except maybe “Cleveland” was written last year between June and the end of the year, but that being said, American racism and violence are always there.

“Death March” was about Brexit, the inspiration for it came from Brexit—the recording sessions started when we were in the North Country, and there was this cloud hanging over everybody. But at the same time, we were in this very expensive, very nice setup with these two professional producers, and we were kind of being forced to create, and I hit a wall, so I just went through the newspapers and responded, and everybody around us was devastated by it in ways we’d find out about on our own terms when Trump won the election a few months later.

Tesche:  From my perspective, when I was a teenager I was really into DC Hardcore, and I was feeding off of the Riot Grrrl movement and all that stuff, so everything that I’ve always been a part of has had some sort of greater political context or message, and I feel like we’re kind of all the same that way, so I don’t really know if the new record would have been that much different thematically, but throughout the whole process, one event after another changed our moods. When Brexit happened we were in England, and the U.S. election happened towards the end of tracking and mixing, and those things definitely influenced the very final shape and character of these songs.

DM: The Underside of Power feels more like an electronic album than the debut does—the guitars seem less prominent. Also Underside seems like it features more uptempo stuff compared to all of the first album’s slow-burners. Has your writing process changed much between the albums?

Tesche:  Not really. The way things got shaped in the mixing process, there were lots of guitars and lots of crazy sounds, and stuff was piled on, and as we made our way through the mix we pulled things back and peeled things off. It’s a result of that process more than the writing, just later on deciding what we wanted to push to the front. We were touring together for a year and a half, and when we recorded the second album we were coming from more of a live band perspective, and I think we were all kind of pulling things in different directions. This one may be more of a “soul” record than the first in a certain sense, but it’s hard to quantify those things, and we didn’t really have that kind of intent when we went in. We all set up to write sketches individually and we each had our own motivations, and so we all ended up with our own frustrations, and that’s what keeps you working towards the next one. Maybe the songs surprised us in how they turned out, but that’s how they exist, and maybe when we go out and play live, they’ll change and morph.

Fisher:The first record, we wrote it almost exclusively through online file swapping when we lived in three different cities. This record more was written when we were all together. I don’t think there’s any prescription or specific method for our writing. We did go away after the first couple months of touring and everybody kind of worked on compositions to bring back to the group, to see what we had, and what we could work on. The majority of the compositions on this record are Ryan’s, he’s gotten really hands-on with electronic programming.

Tesche:  There are a lot of different forces at play. On one hand, when I work on guitar stuff I try to approach it from an abstract perspective, to challenge myself to find a role for guitar that’s not just riffing, and Frank’s guitar playing was a response to that too. Not that we avoided normal guitar stuff altogether, but with Ryan writing the majority of it, and coming from this more synthetic place, guitar-wise you have to approach that somewhat delicately, because if you just come in and try and do a bunch of punk rock stuff on top of that, you can end up in a really awful place. It’s more about understanding what the songs are becoming, and what they’re supposed to be. The next record could be full of Iron Maiden leads, who knows?

Fisher:I’m still learning my role as a singer more than a guitarist. I’ve always been the guitarist in the bands I’ve played with since I was a kid, and there’s not really a need for me to do that so much with this band. Our process is such that we’ll tend to use a maximalist approach, in that we’ll just pile things on and pile things on, and then we stand back and look at it and then start stripping things away. I’m sure it’s pure coincidence that usually any guitar part that I’ve written is one of the things that winds up getting stripped away [laughs] so this record was the beginning of me coming to terms with my designation as a singer, exploring that instead of trying to force my guitar into songs. Like Lee said, you have to be careful, otherwise it turns into a really strange nasty brew of guitar music and electronics that can go sideways.

Tesche:  I think by design, part of the sound we’re crafting works well without much guitar in there, which of course is interesting for us as guitar players, becoming more choosy about when to play. With the last record, they took their final shape in the studio, and when we started performing the songs they became something else. I think these songs are going to go the same way, it’ll turn into something else. It’ll be after a few months touring that we’ll start to fully understand what this music is and what it should do.

DM: Franklin, earlier you mentioned that the song “Cleveland” came before the rest of the album. You guys probably guessed I’d have something to say about that one—was that a response to the Tamir Rice execution?

Tesche:  Frank can go into more specifics on that because that one was largely written by him, and there are a number of different levels to it, but yes. It does reference that, and the choir sample is the Reverend James Cleveland. It’s a multi-faceted reference in that sense. And I also recall the coincidence that when we recorded that song we were working with Adrian Utley from Portishead, and they early on started out in this little town called Clevedon.

Fisher: There’s a recurring pattern of people mysteriously dying in police custody, people who’d seemingly been lynched but the local police had swept it under the rug, time and again, going back years. I wanted to kind of do something to try to confront the fact that this is happening, happening all the time, it’s an ongoing symptom. The song’s title was meant to invoke Tamir Rice without actually mentioning him, because he’s a symptom of something that’s as old as this country, being lynched by police, no matter how old you are, and if you’re a person of color, it’s something you’re always afraid of, either consciously or in the back of your mind. If you read some of these cases, it’s beyond absurd, and it becomes sickening how there’s never justice or closure for these families. Like Keith Warren—I think this was in like ’89, in Maryland. Good student, intelligent kid. He was found hanging in the middle of the forest, from a tree that was bent over from his weight. And they cut the tree down and embalmed him before any evidence could be taken, before the crime scene was surveyed. Before any real work could be done on the case they basically called it off and deemed it a suicide. On what would have been his 25th birthday, a box of photographs of the crime scene showed up on his mom’s doorstep. His mom realized that the clothes he was wearing weren’t his, and there were so many other things that made no sense, and there’s still no closure for his family. His mom thought his friends sent her the pictures because they knew something but were afraid to talk, and shortly after, one of his friends died in a suspicious bicycle accident.

Though the new album isn’t due until June 23rd, the band released the first video from The Underside of Power this morning—and it’s the album’s title track. It features the band plotting antifa resistance in an underground bunker/undisclosed location, and it’s sprinkled liberally with vintage clips from the Civil Rights movement era so nobody can miss the point. Fisher is pretty awesome in it, and he had this to say about the song (this is quoted from press materials, it’s not from our interview):

I heard someone say once that you don’t know what real power is until you’re on the wrong side of it. That was the inspiration for ‘The Underside of Power’ To be someone who has known first-hand, the full brunt of institutional force, the feeling of being completely vulnerable to it and powerless against it, is a bitter reality for the vast majority of people. The image of an insect being squashed by a boot comes to mind. But with that image comes a slightly hopeful paradox: just as all systems have inherent flaws, so does the proverbial boot, which leaves the slight possibility for the insect to creep through and bite back.

Watch the new video from Algiers, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Eat the Rich’: Cult rock and roll comedy with Lemmy, Shane MacGowan, Paul McCartney, Angela Bowie

Imagine, if you can, a country starkly divided by wealth inequality, where a small number of rich people lead lives of extravagant luxury and everyone else fights over the crumbs.

Now imagine that the most vulgar of celebrities, having ascended to high office by appealing to racist and sexist tendencies in the electorate, has announced a plan to slash health care in order to build up the military. Far from bringing him down, sex scandals only make him appear more powerful and exciting to his base. And what, exactly, is the nature of his relationship with the Russians?

Of course, I could only be talking about Nosher Powell, the real-life English boxer and actor who portrays “Cockney fascist” Home Secretary Nosher Powell in the dystopian 1987 comedy Eat the Rich. The dialogue is as quotable as that of Tapeheads or Repo Man. Early on, a diner at the posh eatery Bastards addresses a label head played by Miles Copeland:

Look, Derek, forget funk rap. It’s dead. The kids are getting hooked on socialism.

“OK, we’ll sack the blacks and sign the reds,” Copeland replies. It’s a cruel, cynical, racist—did I mention racist?—society.

The great Lanah Pillay stars as Alex, a hero for our time. Alex becomes a revolutionary after she’s fired from her waitressing job at Bastards, where she served koala and panda meat to one too many horrible jerks. And joining Lanah and Nosher from the world of UK showbiz in this movie right here is everyone and her fucking uncle: Lemmy, Shane MacGowan, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, Hugh Cornwell of the Stranglers, Sandie Shaw, Beatle Paul, Bill Wyman of the Stones, Koo Stark, Angela Bowie, and The Young Ones’ Rik Mayall all make appearances. Most of the soundtrack (and the soundtrack album) is by Motörhead, and at one point in the movie, Lemmy climbs onstage to play “Dr. Rock.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Grim postcards of executions and dead bodies from the Mexican Revolution 1910-17

The Mexican Revolution began as a middle-class protest against the oppressive dictatorship of the country’s President Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911). In 1910, wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero (1873-1913) stood against Diaz in the presidential election. The election was rigged by Diaz and his cronies who then attempted to have Madero arrested and imprisoned. Madero escaped to San Antonio, Texas, where he wrote Plan de San Luis (Plan of San Luis de Potosí), a political pamphlet that denounced Diaz explaining why he should no longer be president.

Madero’s Plan was a rallying cry that asked the Mexican people to rise up against Diaz on Sunday, November 20, 1910, at 6:00 pm and overthrow his government. This is how the Mexican Revolution began. What followed was a bloody and ferocious civil war and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century. An estimated 1.5 million people died. Two-hundred-thousand were made refugees.

During the revolution (1910-20) hundreds of commercial and amateur photographers documented the events on both sides of the war.

Using glass plate cameras and early cut film cameras, primitive by today’s standards, the photographers faced injury and death to obtain negatives which would be printed on postcard stock and sold to the soldiers and general public on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Some of the views were obviously posed, and others showed the death and destruction resulting from the violence of a nation involved in a bloody civil war.

The following postcards are part of a collection held by the Southern Methodist University archive.
More postcards from the Mexican Revolution, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Screw our president’: Protesting kid explains why he started fire at alt-right Trump celebration
10:20 am

Class War


A large protest raged outside the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last night where the alt-right’s “Deploraball” celebration was being held. Some protesters started a fire to burn signs and chanted “Nazi scum” as hundreds of Donald Trump’s biggest fans entered the party.

Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins asked one young protester named Connor— dubbed a “fire-starting child” on Facebook— about the fire.

“My name’s Connor and I actually kinda started this fire,” the boy responded. After Jenkins mistakenly called him “Carter” the young, media-savvy kid set him straight.“It’s Connor,” he repeated, then informed the Fox lackey that he started the fire because:

“I felt like it and screw our president.”

Connor is my new hero.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Infamous London punks Cockney Rejects get banned by the BBC, 1980
01:07 pm

Class War

Cockney Rejects

The 1970s were a hugely contentious time for the UK. In 1973 the country was reeling from a massive outbreak of worker strikes that were in retaliation to new bills that put harsh restrictions on pay increases. By May there were over 1.6 million workers walking the picket lines. On January 7th, 1974, hinging on measures introduced by then Prime Minister Edward Heath, a mandatory three-day work week was instituted. Initially a five-day restriction, the new three-day mandate came into play in order to avoid any further fallout due to the crisis-level lack of energy and fuel resources. Once the measure went into effect 885,000 workers applied for unemployment benefits. All of this discontent during this dangerously tumultuous time would be fuel for the fire of the Cockney Rejects.

The Cockney Rejects were hardass guttersnipes, the sons of East End dockers, who were inspired by the Sex Pistols. They sang about fights, how much they hated the police and how much they loved football. And there were songs about fighting over football and being arrested.

The original group consisted of the Geggus brothers, Mickey and Jeff, AKA Stinky Turner. Both brothers were good boxers and neither had ever lost in the ring. They were joined by Vince Riordan as their bassist in 1979. After getting their start as The Shitters, the band signed with EMI (tipped by Sham 69’s Jimmy Pursey) after playing a small handful of live gigs which would quickly become known for regularly descending into violent riots. Much of the contention stirred up by quad was based on their support of their beloved West Ham United Football Club.

When the group appeared on Top of the Pops on May 22nd, 1980 following West Ham’s ascension to the FA Cup Finals, the band literally wore their pride on stage donning their “West Ham” shirts in support of their team. Apparently after barely miming their way through their hit version of the West Ham theme “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” the band ran amok in the hallowed halls of the BBC and were subsequently banned from performing on the show again. Still just teenagers, the Cockney Rejects would continue to live up to their reputation by playing an equally unhinged live gig at The Cedar Club in Birmingham. That show, which left fans lying bloody on the floor would go on to be known as the “Battle of Birmingham” and has been called the most “violent” live show in British concert-going history.  It would also mark a turning point in the band’s career as future gigs would devolve into clashes between opposing groups of football fans and skinheads who followed the Oi! movement.

Journalist Garry Bushell, who covered the Oi! movement for SOUNDS later wrote:

With the Rejects, football was the trouble. And it was understandable because they’d been fanatically pro-West Ham aggro from the word go. Even at their debut Bridge House gig they decked the stage out with a huge red banner displaying the Union Jack, the West Ham crossed hammers and the motif ‘West Side’ (which was that part of the West Ham ground then most favoured by the Irons’ most violent fans). Their second hit was a version of the West Ham anthem ‘Bubbles’ which charted in the run-up to West Ham’s Cup Final Victory in the early summer of 1980. On the b-side was the ICF-pleasing ‘West Side Boys’ which included lines like: ‘We meet in the Boelyn every Saturday/Talk about the teams that we’re gonna do today/Steel-capped Dr. Martens and iron bars/Smash the coaches and do ’em in the cars’.

It was a red rag to testosterone-charged bulls all over the country. At North London’s Electric Ballroom, 200 of West Ham’s finest mob-charged less than fifty Arsenal and smacked them clean out of the venue. But ultra-violence at a Birmingham gig really spelt their undoing. The audience at the Cedar Club was swelled by a mob of Birmingham City skinheads who terrace-chanted throughout the support set from the Kidz Next Door (featuring Grant Fleming, now a leftwing film maker, and Pursey’s kid brother Robbie). By the time the Rejects came on stage there were over 200 Brum City skins at the front hurling abuse. During the second number they started hurling plastic glasses. Then a real glass smashed on stage. Stinky Turner responded by saying: “If anyone wants to chuck glasses they can come outside and I’ll knock seven shades of shit out of ya”. That was it, glasses and ashtrays came from all directions. One hit Vince and as a Brum skinhead started shouting “Come on”, Micky dived into the crowd and put him on his back. Although outnumbered more than ten to one, the Rejects and their entourage drove the Brummy mob right across the hall, and finally out of it altogether. Under a hail of missiles Mickey Geggus sustained a head injury that needed nine stitches and left him with what looked like a Fred Perry design above his right eye. Grant Fleming, a veteran of such notorious riots as Sham at Hendon and Madness at Hatfield, described the night’s violence as the worst he’d ever seen.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Class Warfare: Radical French philosopher Guy Debord’s Situationist board game

Guy Debord and Alice Becker-Ho playing Kriegspiel in 1977. Photo by Jeanne Cornet via Cabinet
After he disbanded the Situationist International in 1972, one of the obsessions that consumed Guy Debord was a board game he invented. Kriegspiel, or Le Jeu de la Guerre—German and French, respectively, for “war game”—was based on Debord’s reading of the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. The London-based group Class Wargames describes Kriegspiel’s purpose concisely:

For Debord, The Game of War wasn’t just a game - it was a guide to how people should live their lives within Fordist society. By playing, revolutionary activists could learn how to fight and win against the oppressors of spectacular society.

So convinced was Debord of the game’s utility and revolutionary potential that, in 1977, he founded Les Jeux Stratégiques et Historiques (Strategic and Historic Games) to produce a limited run of Kriegspiel sets. Ten years later, Debord and his wife Alice Becker-Ho published a book about Kriegspiel, Le Jeu de la Guerre. Debord opens the sixth chapter of his memoir Panegyric with these reflections on his game:

I have been very interested in war, in the theoreticians of its strategy, but also in reminiscences of battles and in the countless other disruptions history mentions, surface eddies on the river of time. I am not unaware that war is the domain of danger and disappointment, perhaps even more so than the other sides of life. This consideration has not, however, diminished the attraction that I have felt for it.

And so I have studied the logic of war. Moreover, I succeeded, a long time ago, in presenting the basics of its movements on a rather simple board game: the forces in contention and the contradictory necessities imposed on the operations of each of the two parties. I have played this game and, in the often difficult conduct of my life, I have utilized lessons from it – I have also set myself rules of the game for this life, and I have followed them. The surprises of this Kriegspiel seem inexhaustible; and I fear that this may well be the only one of my works that anyone will dare acknowledge as having some value. On the question of whether I have made good use of such lessons, I will leave it to others to decide.

The Atlas Press English-language edition of Becker-Ho and Debord’s book, A Game of War, comes with a board and punch-out pieces, but Board Game Geek warns that this edition “has a faulty translation of the rules, making it more or less unplayable.” The Radical Software Group’s web version of the game has been down for some time. So if, like me, you enjoy using things without paying for them, the best bet seems to be Class Wargames’ printable boards, pieces, and battle maps. Their website also has the free book Class Wargames: Ludic subversion against spectacular capitalism, plus information about such radical board games as Imperialism in Space, which promises to give players “a critical understanding of the political and theoretical arguments of Vladimir Lenin’s famous 1916 pamphlet Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.”

After the jump, an explanation of Kriegspiel’s rules….

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Look, they’re crucifying Him! And nobody cares!’: When Charlie Chaplin met Igor Stravinsky

For a couple of years when I was a little kid—before I discovered rock music, so like 3rd and 4th grade—I collected Charlie Chaplin movies that I purchased on 8mm film from Blackhawk Films. Blackhawk sold newsreels of the Hindenburg disaster and WWII along with the public domain silent horror films of Lon Chaney and comedies by Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Blackhawk advertised in comic books, Famous Monsters of Filmland and in a nostalgia magazine my grandfather used to read (I wish I could recall the name of it, I’d buy every issue on eBay). I sent for their free catalog. The price of the Chaplin shorts ranged from like $7.98 to $14.98 which was an astronomical amount of money at that time, for someone who was eight years old, or otherwise. When I say “collected,” I probably had like seven Chaplin shorts that I got from Blackhawk. I’d tell my parents and grandparents just to give me money for Christmas and birthdays so I could order them. A $10 reward for a good report card meant another Chaplin film. I would screen them in my parents’ basement on a moldy-smelling Westinghouse 8mm projector my father had long ago lost any interest in.

I was really, really Chaplin obsessed. I still am to this day.

Charles Chaplin’s My Autobiography was published by Simon & Schuster in 1964, when the great man was then in his seventies and living a life of comfortable exile at Manoir de Ban, a 35-acre estate overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland, having been pushed out of Hollywood during the Red Scare. It’s one of the most extraordinary books that I’ve ever read. The first portion of the book describes, in brutal detail, the life of crushing Dickensian poverty that Chaplin and his brother Sydney were thrust into when their mother—who’d gone mad from syphilis and malnutrition—had to drop them off at the pauper’s workhouse, unable to care for herself, let alone them.

Chaplin’s remarkably beautiful prose is nothing short of heartbreaking. It’s not just the harsh Victorian circumstances he’s describing that are so excruciatingly Dickensian, it’s the quality of his writing as well. My Autobiography starts off exactly like a lost novel by Charles Dickens, and indeed there is probably no greater true life rags to riches story that has ever been told in the entire history of humankind. Chaplin went from being an innocent young boy who’d had his head shaved and painted with iodine for a lice treatment (there’s a group shot in the book that will hit you in the gut) in the lowest of circumstances to being the most famous man in the world just a few years later. It’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read and it’s one that will still be read long into the future as long as we don’t go the way of Planet of the Apes.

Stravinsky takes a spin on a hoop contraption that Chaplin had built at his Beverly Hills home.
And speaking of our puzzling new Bizarro World national reality, there’s an anecdote that happens later in Chaplin’s book (pages 395-397) where he writes about a meeting that he had with Russian composer Igor Stravinsky where he proposed a collaboration between them. It was sometime in 1937. War had yet to be declared, but something very dark was happening in the world.

I was thinking about this over the weekend, and how potent this imagery is in Donald Trump’s America:

While dining at my house, Igor Stravinsky suggested we should do a film together. I invented a story. It should be surrealistic, I said—a decadent night club with tables around the dance floor, at each table, greed, at another, hypocrisy, at another, ruthlessness. The floor show is the Passion play, and while the crucifixion of the Saviour is going on, groups at each table watch it indifferently, some ordering meals, others talking business, others showing little interest. The mob, the High Priests and the Pharisees are shaking their fists up at the Cross, shouting: “If Thou be the Son of God come down and save Thyself.” At a nearby table a group of businessmen are talking excitedly about a big deal. One draws nervously on his cigarette, looking up at the Saviour and blowing his smoke absent-mindedly in His direction.

At another table a businessman and his wife sit studying the menu. She looks up, then nervously moves her chair back from the floor. “I can’t understand why people come here,” she says uncomfortably. “It’s depressing.”

“It’s good entertainment,” says the businessman. “The place was bankrupt until they put on this show. Now they are out of the red.”

“I think it’s sacrilegious,” says his wife.

“It does a lot of good,” says the man. “People who have never been inside a church come here and get the story of Christianity.”

And the show progresses, a drunk, being under the influence of alcohol, is on a different plane; he is seated alone and begins to weep and shout loudly: “Look, they’re crucifying Him! And nobody cares!” He staggers to his feet and stretches his arms appealingly toward the Cross. The wife of a minister sitting nearby complains to the headwaiter, and the drunk is escorted out of the place still weeping and remonstrating, “Look, nobody cares! A fine lot of Christians you are!”

“You see,” I told Stravinsky, “they throw him out because he is upsetting the show.” I explained that putting a passion play on the dance floor of a nightclub was to show how cynical and conventional the world has become in professing Christianity.

The maestro’s face became very grave. “But that’s sacrilegious!” he said.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hey America, you’re fucked: Here’s the perfect song for today
08:27 am

Class War
Current Events


A note to our readers: We might not be posting until later today, if at all.

We’re as shell-shocked as you are!

Everything seems so insignificant now. The election of Donald J. Trump—the real life inspiration for Biff Tannen, for Christ’s sake—to the highest office in the free world is a soul-sickening event.

American flunked its IQ test. One question. An EASY multiple choice.

No do-overs.

No, nothing’s amusing today unless you’re a fucking idiot. Why bother? Do you blame us? GET DRUNK AND STONED—START NOW—NO ONE WILL THINK ANY LESS OF YOU.

On a more positive note, the counterculture was reborn last night. No one knows what’s going to happen next. The goddamn storm just got here.

What are the smart people gonna do next?

Below, Alan Vega and Martin Rev let their audience fucking have it IN THE FACE with this fierce rendition of “Ghost Rider.” The perfect scream across the sky on such a dark day.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Playground Bully: This BRILLIANT anti-Trump video needs to be quietly POSTED ALL OVER FACEBOOK NOW!

At this point, it’s a question that’s been pondered—quite a lot—by the professional political pondering class:

Is it even possible to change the mind of the hardcore Donald Trump supporter?

Is there any argument whatsoever that would sway the steadfast fan of the anus-mouthed orangey-faced bellowing billionaire fascist blowhard who sits atop the Republican ticket? Stupid is gonna stupid, and if there is one thing that this year’s election has accomplished it’s demonstrating that the American electorate is—scientifically speaking—much dumber than many of us would have liked to believe. There’s no other way to explain it. Why bend to political correctness—the great bugaboo of reichwingers everywhere, of course—when the simplest and most obvious statement of fact will suffice:

Trump voters are fucking idiots, if they weren’t idiots, they wouldn’t be Trump voters.

Sorry, but Aristotle himself couldn’t have put it any more succinctly than I just did. Not Wittgenstein either.

Oh yes, the Great IQ Stratification©—as I like to call it—has already occurred. It’s been pretty obvious to anyone with a functioning brain since at least Sarah Palin was unleashed foaming at the mouth with her unique form of racist dog whistle glossolalia that only stupid people can hear, that we’re well past that point.

Think about it: In THIS spacetime continuum, the real-life inspiration for Back to the Future‘s caricature bully Biff Tannen is the Republican nominee.

If Trump wins, Amy Goodman will have to change the name of her NPR show to “Idiocracy Now.”

Ha ha ha ha ha. If you get these jokes, and of course you do, you’re not a Trump voter—amIrite?—and that’s the problem, the self-reinforcing echo chamber of the Internet. Hell, I’ve written some nasty shit about Trump for years on Twitter and on this blog, and all I ever get are “atta-boys” from people who also hate Trump and his incoherent minions. Even when I am trying my level best to be condescending and deliberately rude, no one within the sound of my tweets ever disagrees with me. They feel about the terroristic man-toddler©  (thank you Charles M. Blow) the same way I do. “We” all loathe Trump. I’m just tweeting to the choir.

[Amusingly one of the rare times that anyone whatsoever has sent me any pushback on any of my anti-Trump tweets and retweets was none other than Trump advisor, frequent guest on The Alex Jones Show and complete shithead Roger Stone, who must search for his own name constantly. Then I sent him this. It was fun. Bigly fun. I love Twitter!]

But going back to the original question, is there anything—any fact, TV commercial, slogan, viral video, bumper sticker—whatever—that would change the minds of soft-brained morons who would happily line up to vote for Biff Tannen? Something that you could make them watch, with eyes pinned open like Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange that would get through to them or make a difference?

Maybe there is. The video below, made by the Patriotic Artists & Creatives PAC—which features an actual terroristic man-toddler standing in for the one who used to host The Apprentice—might be able to pry even the tightest shut minds open for a second.

Wisdom from the mouths of babes? It’s perhaps the only thing that would work on the simpleton Trump voters. Best that I’ve seen, anyway. So post it everywhere. The video, I mean, probably don’t repost this blog on Facebook, that’s just being mean (and they won’t get the jokes anyway)

What country do you want your children to grow up in?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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