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Live! from Capitol Hill: Bertolt Brecht’s Folkways LP
02.17.2017
07:24 am

Topics:
Art
History
Literature
Politics

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On October 30, 1947, Bertolt Brecht gave a command performance for Congress. The House Un-American Activities Committee summoned the German playwright, poet, and Doors lyricist to the Cannon House Office Building to examine him about matters of the direst urgency and the gravest possible consequence to the Republic, such as the name of the leading actor in Hangmen Also Die! and the lyrics to Brecht’s song “In Praise of Learning.” By what vile, McCarthyist tactics they extorted from Brecht these most closely held secrets of the Third International, I dare not print.

The recording is presented by the critic Eric Bentley, whose narration bridges edits in the tape and provides historical context. Like most Folkways records, the LP comes with a booklet; this one reproduces the transcript of Brecht’s testimony and Bentley’s voiceover along with a facsimile of the hand-corrected statement Brecht prepared for the occasion but was not allowed to read. From the booklet’s introduction:

It is an encounter that rivals in drama some of the great trial scenes in Brecht’s plays, and it will fascinate equally both those interested in Brecht and those interested in the HUAC.

Although tantalizing fragments of the recording have been heard in Brecht on Brecht, and the complete transcript has been printed by the government, this is the first time that the encounter has been brought to the public. Bertolt Brecht’s voice was recorded few times in any language, and this is almost certainly the only recording of Brecht speaking English.

You know you’re talking about an old record when its subtitle includes the phrase “an historic encounter” (or, in the cover artist’s words, “an historical encounter”). But the interests of these ghosts’ voices, speaking in the Caucus Room 70 years ago, are not so remote. Over a decade before this engagement, Brecht had addressed Germans’ perplexity about truth in politics under the Nazis and what the Führer really believed in his heart in “On the Question of Whether Hitler Is Being Honest,” which cut the Gordian knot in its concluding sentences:

Certainly, Hitler could be honest and mean well, and yet still objectively be Germany’s worst enemy. But he is not honest.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Young kid’s EPIC rant on why ‘We Need Communism!’
02.16.2017
10:24 am

Topics:
Amusing
Politics

Tags:


 
Ladies and gentlemen, meet YouTuber, Dylan AKA “Sceneable.” I have absolutely no idea how old he is, but I’m guessing around eleven or twelve years old. He’s posted numerous videos of himself on YouTube discussing weighty topics such as “God CAN`T be Omnipotent,” “Woman ARE Oppressed WEST AND EAST,” “We Still Need Black History Month,” “Trump`s Muslim Ban” and many, many more. Anyway, today I’m posting his EPIC rant on why he thinks we need communism.

I’m not posting this because I necessarily agree with him (entirely), I’m merely posting it because it’s something to behold! Just look at his political passion! He’s a star in the making! MSNBC producers, are you watching? Bill Maher’s bookers, have you seen this little guy yet?

YouTube commenter Kraig Adams sums up this video nicely:

“When you’re woke AF but still worried your parents might be watching you from the back door window.”

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Grim postcards of executions and dead bodies from the Mexican Revolution 1910-17
02.16.2017
10:23 am

Topics:
Class War
History
Politics

Tags:

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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.
 
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More postcards from the Mexican Revolution, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Real combat rock: Red Rippers brought the Vietnam war home
02.14.2017
10:55 am

Topics:
Music
Politics

Tags:


 
The Vietnam era (roughly 1964 to 1975) is commonly considered the best years rock music ever had. It began with the Beatles and The Stones ended with Led Zep and well, The Stones, to say nothing of monsters like The Doors, Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, you get the picture. Before stumbling under the weight of feisty newcomers like punk and disco, “classic rock” ruled the airwaves, packed stadiums, fomented revolution in the streets and served as the soundtrack to a nearly endless jungle skirmish a world away that found teenage kids from middle America torching villages in Saigon and getting tortured and slaughtered by an enemy they did not understand in a fight they did not start. The country they came back to was undergoing its own war, one of class and race and sexual orientation, with assassination in place of napalm carpet bombs. It was barely recognizable by the time many of the soldiers finally made it home. And they were barely recognizable to their own families. If it wasn’t for the righteous jams, I don’t think anybody would’ve survived it.

But here’s the thing: while there was plenty of music made in ‘Nam era, how much of it was made by people who actually fought in the war? For whatever reason, Vietnam vets did not form a lot of bands when they came home. Jimi Hendrix and The Doors’ Ray Manzarek were both discharged before getting shipped off. Creedence main man John Fogerty was in the reserves. And that’s about it. Dudes with guitars were just not clamoring to sign up for the war in 1972 and when they came home, for the most part, they left the plucking and humming to the draft-dodgers.
 

Ed Bankston rocks the aircraft carrier.

But in 1983, a half-dozen years after the ill-fated “military exercise” had wheezed to a halt, a former Vietnam Vet decided it was high time somebody made a rock record about the horrors of jungle combat. Somebody who was there. And that’s just what Ed Bankston did. After serving in the war as a mechanic on an aircraft carrier, he returned home to Florida, picked up his guitar and started writing songs about his experiences, as well as the experiences of other vets he had met along the way, including the teenage marine that inspired “Firefight,” a vivid account of what it’s like to fight—and survive—in jungle warfare. Bankston found a band to back him up and started performing locally as The Red Rippers—an homage to a Naval squadron he had worked with.
 

Bankston writing Rippers jams, early 80s.

Eventually the band got around to recording their songs and Bankston self-released them on Over There…And Over Here. The album is affecting for many reasons, but one of the most notable is the tone of songs like “Body Bag,” “Who Remembers?” and “The Dark and Bloody Road.” There’s no macho, patriotic chest-thumping on this record, but there isn’t any bottled-up rage, either. It’s the melancoly sound of resignation, of sadness, the sound of a man who fought for his country and was thoroughly disappointed with the results. It’s brutally honest in a very low-key, disarming way. It’s raw and real and poetic, but it’s also kind of a breezy southern rock record, too. A real head-spinner.
 

The original Red Rippers ad as seen in Soldier of Fortune magazine

Bankston originally planned on using the album to shop around for a record deal, but in the meantime he sold them through ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine. Sadly, no money men were interested in the band’s fuzzy country-boogie and barroom rock n’ roll, and when no labels came knocking, Bankston gave up on rock and faded into the grind of the 9 to 5 world. And that was basically that. In 2013, the consistently compelling Paradise of Bachelors label discovered and re-released Over There…And Over Here, finally giving a now 60-something Bankston the kind of reach he’d always wanted. He didn’t get the band back together but seemed happy about it nonetheless.

Almost every song you’ve ever heard about Vietnam from Country Joe’s “I Feel I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” to the Charlie Daniels Band’s ‘82 eye-roller “Still in Saigon” was created by dudes who never served in the war. If nothing else, Red Rippers deserves your attention for being the real thing.
 
Listen to Red Rippers after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Dope Man: Trump’s dad nearly ran for Mayor of New York, watch his racist 1969 test commercials
02.10.2017
10:50 am

Topics:
History
Politics
Race

Tags:


 
UPDATE: Politico is now saying that the videos were a hoax. It looks like Sidney Blumenthal got punk’d. The spots were pulled on both Vimeo and YouTube. About an hour later the London Review of Books scrubbed the offending paragraph (see below) from their website with this message:

The original version of this piece contained two passages that require correction and clarification. At the time of the Roy Cohn leaks mentioned, the New York World Telegram was owned not by Hearst but by Scripps Howard. A paragraph referring to Fred Trump’s campaign for mayor of New York, although it accurately reflected Trump’s racial attitudes and his hostility towards Mayor John Lindsay, has been removed because the campaign ads referred to appear to be clever fakes.

“Dope Man” also made Snopes just now.

Yet another skeleton hiding out in Donald Trump’s closet, these unused TV spots were created when his father, Queens-based real estate developer Fred Trump, was mulling over challenging Republican mayor John Lindsay—who had angered Trump by refusing him certain city contracts—in the New York City mayoral race of 1969. Ultimately Trump Sr. decided not to run, but at least two television commercial tests were produced, proving, if nothing else, that the nut didn’t fall very far from the tree in his son’s case.

At first glance, the “Dope Man” spot almost seems like a parody or media-jamming meta-prank. I mean, WHO would have been so classless as to do something like this? [Editor: A Trump?] Although the two commercial tests have been posted on YouTube and Vimeo since mid-October of last year, no one has really touched them. It just doesn’t seem like they could be real… (like that Woody Guthrie song about “Old Man Trump” that seemed so Snopes-worthy at first) but here’s a citation from an article written by Hillary Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal that appears in the February 16th issue of the London Review of Books.

Check it out, folks:

In 1969, Fred Trump plotted to run for mayor of New York against John Lindsay, a silk-stocking liberal Republican. The reason was simple: in the wake of a New York State Investigations Commission inquiry that uncovered Fred’s overbilling scams, the Lindsay administration had deprived him of a development deal at Coney Island. He made two test television commercials. One of them, called ‘Dope Man’, featured a drug-addled black youth wandering the streets. ‘With four more years of John Lindsay,’ the narrator intoned, ‘he will be coming to your neighbourhood soon.’ The ad flashed to the anxious faces of two well-dressed white women. ‘Vote for Fred Trump. He’s for us.’ The other commercial, ‘Real New Yorkers’, showed scenes of ‘real’ people from across the city, all of them white. Fred Trump, the narrator said, ‘is a real New Yorker too’. In the end he didn’t run, but his campaign themes were bequeathed to his son.

There are no more words. NO MORE WORDS.
 
Watch ‘Dope Man’ after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Donald Trump bong
02.08.2017
10:00 am

Topics:
Amusing
Drugs
Politics

Tags:


 
This is truly a bong that could go for any political party or group affiliation. Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, alt-right, liberal, socialist, libertarian etc. it could work for you! (With the caveat that you are smoking with like-minded individuals who feel the same way that you do about the current inhabitant of the White House who apparently doesn’t know if it’s a strong US dollar that’s good for the American economy or a weak one?)

You can hate smoke out of a Trump bong or alternately you can believe you’re making America great again with every toke of your “Grown in the USA” herb stash when you inhale it via this unique tribute to our illustrious talking yam leader. It’s entirely up to whatever you project onto Trump. Kinda genius in that way.

“Make America High Again” should be the marketing slogan for this. Lord knows we need more like it. Weed brings Americans together.


 
The bong is designed by Tom Mason, an artist from Byron Bay, Australia. I looked on the website where it was being sold for $89.00 and couldn’t find it. Maybe it’s already sold out? Perhaps contact the site and they’ll bring it back!


 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Donald Trump Valentine’s Day cards
02.07.2017
09:14 am

Topics:
Politics

Tags:


 
When I first saw these Donald Trump Valentine’s day cards I found them mildly amusing. After giving them a second look… they only depressed me. Why? Even though I recognize that these sentiments are exaggerated for the yucks value, they’re all based on things Trump has actually said, or worse, done. They’re an accurate reflection of his real policies.

That being said, I probably won’t be giving these Donald Trump Valentine’s day cards out. They give me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Like the man himself.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Members of Crass, the Pop Group, Killing Joke, PiL, and Current 93 are the New Banalists Orchestra
02.03.2017
08:40 am

Topics:
Music
Occult
Politics
Punk

Tags:


 
Mark Stewart titled the 2012 solo album he made with Kenneth Anger, Richard Hell, Tessa Pollitt, Keith Levene, Gina Birch, Factory Floor, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Youth, et al. The Politics of Envy. A proper dialectician, he prepared the way by singing about the “Envy of Politics” on 2011’s Mammon, a six-track digital album by London’s New Banalists Orchestra.

The orchestra appears to be the musical component of the New Banalists group founded by Stewart and the artist Rupert Goldsworthy. The Bandcamp page says only that the New Banalists “formed an orchestra to proclaim [their] manifesto”—which is refreshingly concise, as manifestos go, and seems to be slightly different in each iteration:

TASTE IS A FORM OF PERSONAL CENSORSHIP.
DENY THE POLITICS OF ENVY
TECHNIQUE IS A REFUGE OF THE INSECURE
SHADOW WAR

 

Rupert Goldsworthy and Mark Stewart’s beautiful logo for the New Banalists
 
On Mammon, Penny Rimbaud and Eve Libertine of Crass, John Sinclair of the White Panther Party and the MC5’s management, David Tibet of Current 93, and Zodiac Mindwarp (“The trick is to tough it out, sailor”) of the Love Reaction espouse a bohemian, psychedelic anticapitalism over music by Youth of Killing Joke and Michael Rendall, some of which will sound familiar to fans of Hypnopazūzu. Ex-PiL guitarist Keith Levene and the late cannabis kingpin Howard “Mr. Nice” Marks are on there, too.

After the jump, watch the ad for Mammon and then stream the whole thing…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘How to Steal an Election’: The dirty politics musical of 1968!
02.02.2017
09:50 am

Topics:
Activism
Current Events
Politics
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:


 
Like science fiction becoming reality, or worse, satire becoming reality, this 1968 off-Broadway musical—or to quote the subtitle, this “dirty politics musical”—immediately opens eyes very wide in the ironic early days of America 2017. Some things never change, they just get worse.

In a New York Times review of a revival of the play in 2000, Scarlet Cheng wrote:

In the year of Richard Nixon vs. Hubert H. Humphrey vs. George Wallace, “How to Steal an Election” offered a compact off-Broadway primer on presidential elections bought, bartered and swiped throughout American history.

Librettist William F. Brown and composer-lyricist Oscar Brand had the notion of Jazz Age prez Calvin Coolidge materializing in the present day (that is, 1968). There he meets a couple of fervent young protesters, just back from the skull-cracking Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Disillusioned, these two have no taste for the political machine. But what’s wrong with pragmatism, Coolidge wonders? What about learning to work within a corrupt system? Thus Coolidge begins his history lesson, with vignettes and songs depicting cynical power grabs of yore.

 
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The two stars were Carole Demas who was the original Sandy in Grease on Broadway, even before it was turned into the musical we know now (It was originally a much darker, dirtier production). The cast was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (don’t even get me started). She was also one of the two strange hippie hostesses of the weird early seventies TV show The Magic Garden, a program that even as a child had me running for the remote (not that we even had a remote) to avoid twee folk songs sung to flowers.

Also starring was Clifton Davis who appeared in countless films and television shows, making all the Love Boat/Vega$/Police Story rounds right up to the present. His TV biggie was co-starring on The Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show in 1972 (or perhaps the That’s My Mama sitcom in 1974). His lifetime biggie was that he wrote the huge hit “Never Can Say Goodbye” for The Jackson 5! Now he’s a minister.

 
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Oscar Brand who passed away last year at 96 was an original folkie who, among many other things (he wrote a hit record for Doris Day, collaborated on musicals, had a TV show called Let’s Sing Out, wrote children’s records, etc.) had the longest running radio show in history.

He hosted the radio show Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival every Saturday at 10 p.m. on WNYC-AM 820 in New York City, which ran into its 70th year. The show ran more or less continuously since its debut on December 10, 1945, making it the longest-running radio show with the same host, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Over its run it introduced such talents to the world as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary, Judy Collins, the Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and The Weavers. In order to make sure that his radio program could not be censored he refused to be paid by WNYC for the next 70 years.

 
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Brand, whose radio show was referred to as a “pipeline of communism” by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and who told stories of buying food for Leadbelly when the two traveled together in segregated areas, also participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. He said the character of Calvin Coolidge in the play was originally written by him to be Satan.

...he was Satan, who had decided that the electoral process was the most interesting thing he could join in on since he got kicked out of heaven.

 
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The producer of the play Steve Mellow had this to say:

I was the producer of this play Off Broadway in 1969. It was a labor of love. I got the idea from my uncle Jake Arvey, who was a powerful political broker in Chicago.The play took three years to get on and went thru five different authors. Oscar Brand was with me from the beginning. He has written many political campaign songs over a period of seventy years. Nixon was running for President. His campaign manager asked what we were doing on him in the play. I told him to buy a ticket.

 
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If all this sounds classic, the fate of the show is a true tale of American-style “land of the free” business Hell.

From the New York Times:

“How to Steal an Election” opened to favorable reviews and was packed nightly. After 50 performances, the show was set to move to Broadway. But there was a glitch. Turns out, says Brand, the $80,000 lined up for the move was mob money, and it would only be delivered after someone on the production helped with some securities laundering. The producer ducked out, and Brand refused to cooperate. End of deal, end of production.

And that’s no trumped up charge.

More after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
We’re all in this together: Classic Chunklet t-shirt updated for the Trump era
02.01.2017
09:49 am

Topics:
Fashion
Politics

Tags:


 
All praise be to Chunklet! If that made no sense or just sounded gross to you, I shall explain—Chunklet was an acutely ‘90s underground music/culture zine that grew in the oughts to become a sort of underground media empire. The print zine itself was strongly in the Motorbooty/Your Flesh vein, proffering extremely opinionated reviews and taking pointed potshots at the shibboleths of indie fandom while itself being openly and rabidly indie fannish. The result was kind of amazing—merely even understanding Chunklet’s jokes often meant the joke was on you. But though it was often as snide as the other publications of its ilk (it produced two consecutive issues devoted to calling all sorts of things out as overrated and later turned all that into a book), it had its own identity, and that identity was tremendous fun. It’s owner/editor/publisher/pooh-bah Henry Owings devoted plenty of ink to the comedy scene as well as to indie rock, and, like Touch and Go, Chunklet has enjoyed a post-print afterlife as an excellent record label, releasing, among other worthy platters, last year’s must-have Pylon Live, Tar 1988-1995, and even an EP by my old CLErock compadre Lamont “Obnox” Thomas.

One of Owings’ more enduring contributions to mutant culture, though, is a t-shirt. Originally printed in the late ‘90s, it simply reads. “We’re all in this together. Except you. You’re a dick.” This has been so popular as to require countless re-printings in the 20 or so years of its existence. But this year’s reprinting includes a slight alteration—“you” are no longer the dick. The dick is now Donald Trump.

Look, if you voted for this sociopath, I’m sure you had your reasons. However, one week into his illegitimate presidency, lives are being destroyed. America isn’t safe. The world isn’t safe. I’ll be damned if I will sit by idly and let this happen. Let history reflect that we, the majority, didn’t participate in this.

 

 

 
The new slogan is printed in the USA on a made-in-USA shirt in your choice of in basic black or MAGA-hat red, and 100% of proceeds benefit the American Immigration Council (motto: ”Honoring our Immigrant Past, Shaping our Immigrant Future”), an advocacy and resource center that may well be stretched very, very thin right about now. According to the shirt’s vendor, orders will ship towards the end of the first week of February, which would seem to imply a limited offer, so if this is of interest to you, you might consider acting soon. If, on the other hand, you support President Trump and this is anathema to your views, you might consider eating a nice big bowl of double edged razor blades because this utter calamity is your stupid fucking fault. And fuck you.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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