Turkish parliament, fighting over a security bill.
One of the fun parts about living in a (sort of) democracy is transparency (at least, ostensibly). Governments like to make overtures to the people, meaning there is the promise that you may witness legitimate battles of power between politicians and representatives. In America, this means a lot of sniping, bitching, disingenuous rhetoric and sometimes maybe a little yelling. In other countries, this can mean actual fighting.
Below is a series of shots from recent Skirmishes between lawmakers from various countries. I’m not going to say it’s a better way to do politics—Ukraine apparently does this a lot, and they don’t really seem to have their shit together—but there’s something refreshing about this kind of legitimate passion. Part of me suspects that this doesn’t happen in America because most politics are actually done behind closed doors, between politicians and private interests.
Then again, you’ve got Rob Ford who just blindly stampeded a woman to go after hecklers. Ignoble of course, but more interesting than C-SPAN!
Ukrainian parliament, brawling over a presidential decree to activate reserve troops.
South African lawmakers who accused the president of corruption were removed by police
Someone threw a chair at a Nepali Constituent Assembly meeting.
A Jordanian member of Parliament fired a Kalashnikov (though not towards anyone) outside of parliamentary chambers.
Rob Ford goes after hecklers, knocking over a colleague in the process.
A brawl erupts Taiwan’s legislature in July 2010.
Below, Venezuela MPs in punch-up over disputed election
There’s nothing more irritating than the evasive non-answers politicians mete out for the press and public. Education, budget, jobs—the words get thrown around a lot (and always in positive terms), but candidates are cagey and it’s nearly impossible to cut through their bullshit. If the voters want to know who these people really are, we have to ask the tough questions. Questions like…
The Wave: Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.
It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. How do you react?
Gavin Newsom: I don’t have anything to put in it. I would thank them and move on.
TW: You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?
GN: I would tell him to… You know what? I wouldn’t know how to respond. How’s that for an answer? Is this a psychological test? I’m worried…
TW: They’re just questions, Gavin. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response.
GN: Oh, I got you.
TW: Shall we continue?
TW: You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. How would you react?
GN: I would quietly sit and wait for the wasp to move to the next victim.
TW: You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, Gavin, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back, Gavin. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that, Gavin?
GN: [Immediately] Not a chance. I would never flip the tortoise over in the first place.
TW: Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind. About your mother.
GN: Ethics. Commitment. Sacrifice.
CONCLUSION: Almost too close to call. Almost. Newsom displays a defensiveness when his empathy is questioned. He’s aware that he’s being probed for emotional responses, and even expresses concern about this. However, this concern is alleviated a little too easily by our crafty V-K interviewer. Newsom is definitely a replicant. Probably a Nexus 5.
My fellow Americans, that was the test for Gavin Newsom, who not only won that election, but ran and was elected for a second term in 2007, and now serves as Lieutenant Governor of the state of California. Forget about creeping sharia or David Icke’s lizard people—the replicant threat is real!
I really loathe the idea of “Darwin Awards.” In addition to being utterly corny (and scientifically inaccurate), I usually find the idea both smug and unkind. For who among us has not pulled a total boner move that may very well have ended our life, right then and there? This is not to say I’m above laughing at an absurd, untimely death. On the contrary, some people are so awful, they inspire a fuck-youlogy, and I’ll be damned if I deny myself that pleasure. I can’t think of a more deserving candidate than Christina Bond—biker, Evangelical and Republican Precinct Delegate for Saint Joseph Charter Precinct 1 in Michigan, who fatally shot herself in the eye recently, adjusting the gun in her bra-holster.
The folks over at Raw Story noted that her Facebook page was heavy on the Bible quotes and Republican boosterism, with some choice words against Obama and the protestors at Ferguson. Her status after winning the election spoke of needing “people involved in taking our country back,” though she failed to mention if “taking our country back” would require firearms.
Christina was born in Niles at Pawating Hospital on Oct. 8, 1959, to George Blake and Inez Brock. She was a member and administrator to Road to Life Church for 15 years. Christina left the safety of home and joined the United States Navy out of high school. She served two tours and was an active MP (military police) officer. As an active member of the Christian Motorcycle Association, Christina was “on fire for the Lord.” She often served at the Berrien County jail in ministry as well as being an active member on her church’s prayer team. Christina was recently elected as a precinct delegate for St. Joseph Charter Township Precinct 1. Always physically fit, Christina took home the 2013 Miss Michigan Figure Overall Championship. She was a light to the world and will be missed.
I added the link to her church for a point of cultural reference. The late Ms. Bond adhered to a pretty old-time religion; as someone who grow up around them, I can tell you that extreme conservatism and religious zealotry are pretty par for the course with Christian bikers. In fact, I feel quite the involuntary kinship with Bond—as if it was one of my very own dumb redneck aunts who shot herself in the eye. (She is not to be confused however, with my kind and reasonable redneck aunts, all of whom are perfectly delightful).
To be perfectly honest, I thought the biggest surprise in all of this is that she lasted this long—if she was stupid enough to keep a loaded gun in her tits, she probably didn’t wear a helmet either.
Austerity, repression, police brutality and skyrocketing unemployment—young people the world over have so much to fight for, but it’s the protesters of Bolivia who have stolen my heart. A few days ago an estimated 2000 Bolivians—most of them appearing to be under 30—took to the streets in a multi city defense of The Simpsons. No, the show was not canceled, nor was it censored—but the timeslot was changed, and the people were not having it. Perhaps even weirder than the mobilization itself is its success—a few hours of marching in the rain and not only did the network reverse the scheduling change, they bumped up the airtime from 45 minutes to two full daily hours of Springfield’s favorite family!
If it seems like a shallow crusade, it’s worth noting there may be more to this action than meets the eye. Latin Times ran this story under the decidedly bitter old man headline of “Don’t They Have Jobs?”—but likely, they do, as the Bolivian youth unemployment rate is less than half the youth employment rate of the US. The network that made the scheduling change however, Unitel Bolivia, is recognized as right-wing, so it’s possible “The Simpsons” are a sort of semiotic stand-in for other values. Either way, always nice to see civically engaged young people winning their battles, right? Viva Bolivia! And viva Bart!
The serene face of a man with absolutely NOTHING on his mind!
If you live in the Georgia district represented by Republican Rep. Tom Kirby, rest assured that your government, via Mr. Kirby’s zany style of “leadership,” is “getting out in front of” the growing problem of genetically engineered glowing human beings. That’s right, Rep. Kirby introduced a bill in the state legislature, er… preemptively banning the mixing of human and for instance, jellyfish embryos. Forget about roads, schools, good jobs, that kind of shit, this is a real problem… or is it? Even Mr. Kirby himself isn’t so sure…
“I’ve had people tell me it is but I have not verified that for sure,” state Rep. Tom Kirby (R) told WSB-TV. “It’s time we either get in front of it or we’re going to be chasing our tails.”
Look at him. Look at that dumb Republican face on him. He looks like he DOES have a tail.
You could file this away with all the dipsy-doodles who want to stamp out sharia law in South Carolina, but that would be missing out on the special stupid that Mr. Kirby brings to the (grand, old) party. This is even a lower IQ fear than something like the Agenda 21 “thing.”
We in Georgia are taking the lead on this issue. Human life at all stages is precious including as an embryo. We need to get out in front of the science and technology, before it becomes something no one wants. The mixing of Human Embryos with Jellyfish cells to create a glow in the dark human, we say not in Georgia. This bill is about protecting Human life while maintaining good, valid research that does not destroy life.
Researchers have been able to splice jellyfish embryos with genetic material from rabbits, mice, cats, pigs and rhesus monkeys for well over a decade, this isn’t new, but the belief that science is trying—currently—to build “a glow-in-the-dark human” as Kirby puts it, is.
Like where did this idiot hear about this “problem,” huh? AN ALL CAPS EMAIL FORWARDED BY HIS GRANDPA? Radio frequencies only he can hear? An Alex Jones-wannabe’s podcast, perhaps? An old coot in a bar outside of Atlanta? He practically comes right out and admits in the clip below that he has no idea what he’s talking about.
Roads, schools, good jobs… or this cartoon idiocy?
Buffoons like Tom Kirby get elected because… people vote for them and for no other reason.
Sorting out who is and who isn’t in the 1971 “comedy” movie Dynamite Chicken, written and directed by Ernest Pintoff, is no easy matter. The montage-heavy movie relies so much on found footage that it’s accurate to say that John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Lenny Bruce, Malcolm X, Humphrey Bogart, and Richard Nixon “appear” in the movie even if they were scarcely aware of it or, in some cases, were long since deceased at the time. Not to put too fine a point on it, the makers of the movie were verging pretty close to fraud here.
Richard Pryor they definitely had, as well as a lot of countercultural figures like Paul Krassner, Tuli Kupferberg, Joan Baez, Sha-Na-Na, Peter Max, and a comedy troupe called Ace Trucking Co. that featured a young Fred Willard. The movie’s a bit like Kentucky Fried Movie, only far more political in intent; it’s chock-a-block with skits, snippets of musical performance, political debate, a strip-tease or two, and whatever else popped into the noggins of the filmmakers at the time. There’s tons of quick-cutting montage of newspaper clippings and just a ton of random footage.
The full title, “Dynamite Chicken: A Contemporary Probe and Commentary of the Mores and Maladies of Our Age … with Schtick, Bits, Pieces, Girls, Some Hamburger, a Little Hair, a Lady, Some Fellas, Some Religious Stuff, and a Lot of Other Things,” is an accurate reflection of what the movie is like. The emphasis here is squarely on free expression; the movie starts with a scroll explaining, in a way we today associate more with Lenny Bruce, that Richard Pryor had been witnessed “in the late ‘60’s” by a policewoman saying the words “bullshit, shit, motherfucker, penis, asshole” during a public performance. The distance between “free expression” and “annoying the audience for the sake of it” is pretty small, and in addition to some salubrious footage of women in various states of disrobe, we also get a pointless and somewhat sickening exegesis of a comic book about slicing women in two with a buzzsaw. Early on, I had been thinking that Chicken Dynamite is an almost perfect cinematic equivalent of SCREW Magazine, when who should materialize on the screen but Al Goldstein and Jim Buckley themselves.
Andy Warhol was one of the few luminaries who apparently did consent to be filmed, for a short sequence in which Ondine reads aloud from Warhol’s book a: A Novel while Warhol looks on. John and Yoko weren’t involved; their bit is just a statement about peace from the Montreal Bed-In a couple years earlier. The link to National Lampoon, mostly a spiritual one, is made explicit with a clip of Michael O’Donoghue, then one of the chief writers at the magazine, in a spoof of a cigarette commercial. There’s a bit towards the end in which Ron Carey (known to me primarily as a bit player on Barney Miller) dresses up as a priest and does some soft-shoe in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Ave., scored to Lionel Goldbart’s “God Loves Rock and Roll” that is pretty delightful.
The footage with Pryor was shot outdoors in a single day; Pryor riffs on a bunch of raunchy material while messing with a basketball somewhere in the projects. At this point in Pryor’s career, the similarities with Dave Chappelle were (in hindsight) particularly strong. After Pryor became a big movie star in the early 1980s, he apparently became annoyed with his association with Chicken Dynamite, as he successfully sued to bar “the distributors of the film ... from emphasizing his role in the film,” according to an issue of Jet from December 1982.
In the end, Chicken Dynamite was probably a little bit dated even when it came out. It’s a movie made by people who are waaaaay too “serious” to be funny, for the most part. It’s the kind of movie that even if you are “enjoying” it, you might choose to turn it off before reach the end of its 75-minute running time, just because it wears you out. Still, some parts are pretty entertaining, and it’s worth a look for those who missed the era and those who didn’t.
Musical visionary, street preacher, incendiary political activist, and Afro-beat progenitor, Fela Anikulapo Kuti is chronicled in Fela Kuti – Music is the Weapon, a compelling 1982 documentary directed by Stéphane Tchal-Gadjieff and Jean Jacques Flori. The film documents all-night politically charged performances at Fela’s Shrine nightclub, intimate takes from inside his Kalakuta Republic compound, and scenes of street culture in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s not a complete picture by any means, but it’s a singular and important historical record capturing Kuti in stage and home milieus that were vital to his life and work. If you had any doubt that Fela Kuti was anything short of an otherworldly human being, this film and these performances will dispel that belief quickly. As he did often in his music, Fela speaks out repeatedly against the Nigerian government throughout the film while discussing his political and musical ambitions.
Kuti’s attitude is defiant from the get-go. He takes command in the very first on-screen moment, saying “When you are the king of African music, you are the king. ‘Cause music is the king of all professions.”
Almost immediately it becomes apparent upon watching the film that life can be unforgiving in the place where Fela and crew choose to make their home base. Lagos, Nigeria is depicted as being the most dangerous and violent city in the country and, by extension, the world. Street scenes portraying the chaos, desperation and the day-to-day existence of citizens in and around the former Nigerian capital are beautifully shot. Scenes of poverty, humor and violence along with shipwrecks and scrapyards of decaying cars and motorcycles are interspersed with vibrant local markets. One chilling scene shows the body of a man washed up on a popular beach, a regular occurrence according to the film’s narrator.
In these surroundings Fela Kuti arrives nightly around midnight to his famous Shrine to unleash a combination of music, spiritual ritual, and personal political testimony. The performances captured in Music is the Weapon are magical things, encompassing dance, classic Afrobeat call-and-response and charismatic displays from Kuti himself who plays baritone sax and keys and often performs in nothing but his briefs. The vibrancy of Kuti’s work is obvious through his myriad recordings but it’s even more potent when you can see it radiating from what was ground zero for Kuti’s entire transcendent enterprise.
Inside The Shrine
Some of the most illuminating scenes take place off the stage. One notable sequence begins early in the morning, when “day breaks and the music stops,” and Fela and crew leave in a beat-up van and a rickety VW Beetle and The Shrine is left empty for the day. The band, looking like they could play for a few more hours if they felt so inclined, return to a ramshackle Kalakuta Republic compound where Fela lived with his controversial bevvy of “queens” and fellow musicians. At the time of the filming, Fela had been there for several years despite repeated attempts by the Nigerian government to intimidate him with shows of force, one of which tragically led to the death of his mother years earlier. One such incident actually takes place in 1981during the filming of Music is the Weapon and is documented with still photographs taken by the camera crew who didn’t have time to set up their movie cameras. Nigerian soldiers surround the compound, fire tear gas and brutally beat the occupants. Kuti finds himself in prison on trumped up charges but is soon released and is right back at it on stage within days at The Shrine, despite the fact that it was supposedly closed by Nigerian officials.
A car fit for a king.
Despite repeated jail sentences and years of beatings, persecution and all nature of mistreatments leveled upon him, Fela comes across again and again in Music is the Weapon as a not-from-this-world, heavy, unstoppable force attempting to live a life of pure principle where politics, spirituality, music and activism are indivisible.
Ultimately, Fela Kuti’s legacy is far larger than what could be captured in a short film, but this is an informative introduction to the Pan-African pioneer’s life and work.
Says the anti-colonialist visionary at one point in the film:
Music is a spiritual thing. You don’t play with music. If you play with music you will die young. See because when the higher forces give you the gift of music, musicianship, it must be well used for the good of humanity. If you use it for your own self by deceiving people… you will die young, you see. And I’ve told people this many times. So, I’m gonna prove them all wrong and prove myself right. Because now I’m 44, I’m getting younger. Because I’m doing it right. I can play music for ten hours and never tire. I’m getting younger because the spiritual life of music that I’ve led, RIGHTLY, is helping me now.
Kuti was the subject of a Toni Award winning Broadway production called Fela! from 2008 and of a recent 2014 documentary called Finding Fela.
You can watch all of Fela Kuti – Music is the Weapon below. It’s also streaming on Hulu Plus.
If you look carefully at the credits for DEVO’s 1982 album Oh, No! It’s DEVO, you will spot a name that doesn’t ordinarily pop up in the DEVO universe or even the music world generally. The name is John Hinckley, Jr., and he is best known to the world as the man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, in a batshit-crazy attempt to win the amorous affections of Jodie Foster, then still a teenager. Hinckley was strongly influenced by The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and, far more pertinently, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, in which Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle considers assassinating a U.S. Senator named Palantine but then opts to murder the pimp who has rights over a teen prostitute portrayed by the selfsame Jodie Foster.
When Foster enrolled in Yale University, Hinckley moved all the way from Texas to New Haven, just so he could be near her. He engaged in a lot of creepy, stalker behavior that if you saw it in a movie, you’d think it was overdone, enrolling in the same writing class as her, leaving all kinds of poems and messages for her, and calling her repeatedly. Eventually he would squeeze off six rounds outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, wounding two Secret Service agents and Reagan’s press secretary as well as (via a ricochet) the president himself.
According to Rolling Stone, DEVO got in touch with Hinckley and acquired one of his demented love poems to Foster and adapted it into a song called “I Desire.” Here are some representative lyrics:
I pledge allegiance to the fact
That you’re wise to walk away
For nothing is more dangerous
Than desire when it’s wrong
Don’t let me torment you
Don’t let me bring you down
Don’t ever let me hurt you
Don’t let me fail because
I desire your attention
I desire your perfect love
I desire nothing more
The stunt not only annoyed Warner Bros., who learned that they would be obliged to send Hinckley royalty payments for the song, but also, according to Rolling Stone, won DEVO the official attentions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
As Mark Mothersbaugh recalled, “[Hinckley] let us take a poem that he had written, and we used it for the lyrics and turned it into a love song. It was not the best career move you could make. We had the FBI calling up and threatening us.”
In November of 1982, Hinckley wrote a letter to the “Morning Zoo” crew of KZEW, a Dallas radio station, in which he professes his love for “New Wave music” (hey, me too!) and requests that the station play “I Desire” a total of “58 times each day.” Here’s the full quote:
I like New Wave music, especially Devo, since I co-wrote a song on their new album. The song is called “I Desire” and I want you to play it 58 times each day.
In the letter Hinckley also writes, “I used to listen to the song ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie when I was stalking Carter and Reagan. It got me in a strange mood. ... In March and April of 1980, I hung out at Peaches Record Store on Fitzhugh.” Peaches, which used to be on the intersection of Cole and Fitzhugh in northern Dallas, has, alas, bitten the dust.
Below, listen to “I Desire,” the only new wave ditty ever co-written by a presidential assassin:
When George Orwell died at the age of forty-six on January 21st 1950, he was considered by some of London’s fashionable literary critics as a marginal figure—“no good as a novelist”—who was best known for his essays rather than his fiction.
This quickly changed in the years after his death when his reputation and popularity as a writer grew exponentially. Over the past seven decades he has come to be considered one of the most influential English writers of the twentieth century.
This massive change in opinion was largely down to Orwell’s last two books Animal Farm first published in 1945, and Nineteen Eighty-Four published the year before he died. The importance of these two novels has enshrined Orwell’s surname, like Dickens, Kafka and more recently J. G. Ballard, into the English language as a descriptive term—“Orwellian”—for nightmarish political oppression, while many of his fictional ideas or terms contained within Nineteen Eighty-Four have become part of our everyday language—“Big Brother,” “Room 101,” “newspeak,” “doublethink,” “thoughtcrime” and so on.
Both of these books have become essential texts for radicals and conservatives in their individual campaigns against perceived invasive and totalitarian governments. After the Second World War Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four were considered damning critiques of Stalinist Russia, and their subject matter limned the growing paranoia between East and West during the Cold War. When Edward Snowden exposed the covert surveillance by US intelligence agencies on millions of Americans, copies of the book were sold by the thousands. Nineteen Eighty-Four‘s flexibility of interpretation has meant the book has been used to condemn almost everything from the rise of CCTV and wind farms, to the George W. Bush/Tony Blair war against “the axis of evil,” the rise of jihadist Islam, the spread of capitalist globalization, Vladimir Putin’s political “grand vision”, and (rather laughably) “Obamacare.”
But it wasn’t the meaning of Orwell’s writing that caused the BBC to sniff condescendingly about their employee during the 1940s, rather it was his actual voice which was considered by Overseas Services Controller, JB Clark as “un-attractive” as this secret internal BBC memo reveals:
Controller (Overseas Services) 19th January, 1943
GEORGE ORWELL STAFF PRIVATE
1. A.C. (OS) 2. E.S.D.
I listened rather carefully to one of George Orwell’s English talks in the Eastern Service on, I think, Saturday last. I found the talk itself interesting, and I am not critical of its content, but I was struck by the basic unsuitability of Orwell’s voice. I realise, of course, that his name is of some value in quite important Indian circles, but his voice struck me as both un-attractive and really unsuited to the microphone to such an extent that (a) it would not attract any listeners who were outside the circle of Orwell’s admirers as a writer and might even repel some of these, and (b) would make the talks themselves vulnerable at the hands of people who would have reason to see Orwell denied the microphone, or of those who felt critical of the B.B.C. for being so ignorant of the essential needs of the microphone and of the audience as to put on so wholly unsuitable a voice.
I am quite seriously worried about the situation and about the wisdom of our keeping Orwell personally on the air.
JBC/GMG (J.B. Clark)
The reason Old Etonian Orwell’s voice may not have sounded attractive was that he had been shot in the neck during the Spanish Civil War. However, Orwell got his own back on the BBC by naming Nineteen Eighty-Four‘s infamous torture room after “Room 101” in Broadcasting House, where he had to sit through long, tedious meetings about political vetting.
The only known footage of George Orwell (or Eric Blair as he was then) can be seen in this clip of him playing the “Wall Game” with fellow pupils at Eton—he’s fourth on the left and in the clip between a very young Melanie Griffiths and Grace Kelly.
Bringing world leaders down their basic bodily functions Their Daily Duty is a series of photomontages by digital artist Cristina Guggeri. The images present imagined intimate moments of President Obama, President Putin, Her Majesty the Queen and even Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama, all seated on the toilet performing their own “daily duty.”
Cristina (aka Kyrdy) made the images in collaboration with Area Shoot, and while they certainly rub our nose in our shared human frailty, they are also a reminder to the “sitters” of their moral responsibility in governance and leadership.