For just this once I’m going to break my long-standing Beatles veto. I really didn’t think the world needed yet another Beatles blog post, but then this is just so ridiculously adorable it had to go up. Not only that it’s factually accurate! I’m pretty certain not many four-year-olds are aware that Ringo was not the original Beatles drummer:
Legendary post-punk/funk art terrorist Mark Stewart is back with an urgent, apocalyptic new track, “Nothing is Sacred” which you can download for free at his website.
The track is a damning indictment of greed in a year riddled by riots, revolutions, occupations and increasing collapse of the global financial system. A collaboration with Crass vocalist Eve Libertine, German electro monsters Slope and Dan Catsis from the Pop Group on bass “Nothing Is Sacred”’s howling funk-rock and unyielding political attack evolved from the sessions for Mark’s forthcoming album.
Stewart’s re-emergence seems particularly well-timed considering current events. 2012 will see the release of the new album from the Pop Group/New Age Steppers/Maffia frontman featuring collaborators like Richard Hell, Primal Scream, filmmaker Kenneth Anger, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Gina Birch from The Raincoaits and original PiL guitarist Keith Levene.
‘Truly great men are those who combine contrary qualities within themselves.’
He could have been talking about the late, great Ken Russell, who mixed contrary qualities in his films, perhaps most brilliantly in his bio-pic on the composer, Lisztomania.
Russell had this incredible ability of presenting the truth of an artist and their work, while abandoning any pretense towards biographical realism. In 1975, he captured this perfectly with Lisztomania, presenting Liszt as the equivalent of a pop idol, with his screaming fans and over-indulged libido, in an intelligent, multi-layered imagining of the composer’s life, while using reference points from Charlie Chaplin to rock and roll, comic books to literature, philosophy to the horrors of Nazism.
At the time of its release, Russell described his process of making the film:
‘My film isn’t biography, it comes from things I feel when I listen to the music of Wagner and Liszt, and when I think about their lives.’
Lisztomania is a Pop Art movie with a Punk Rock sensibility - released the same year as Russell’s version of The Who’s rock opera, Tommy, and The Rocky Horror Show, on the cusp of the Sex Pistols formation.
I recall how the Observer Magazine ran a color spread on Lisztomania, in eager anticipation that then 48-year-old l’enfant terrible, Mr. Russell, had re-invented cinema with his marriage of pop stars and classical music - Roger Daltery as Liszt, Ringo Starr as the Pope, Paul Nicholas as Wagner - all surrounded by icons of Elvis and Pete Townshend. Of course, when the film was released, the critics recoiled in horror, and ran screaming for their mothers, or shared smelling salts in the back row of the cinema, to keep them from fainting.
Lisztomania is like no other movie, it is an art work that demands repeated viewing to pick through the cinematic and cultural references, and to appreciate the workings of the creative mind behind the camera. Ross Care in Film Quarterly said of the film:
‘Ken Russell is an intuitive symbolist and fantasist, a total film-maker who orchestrates his subjects in much the same manner that a composer might transcribe a musical composition from one interpretative medium to another (as, for example, Liszt himself did with certain works by Wagner and Berlioz and other composers of the period).”
Starring Roger Daltery as Liszt, Sara Kestelman as Princess Carolyn, Paul Nicholas as Wagner, and Ringo Starr as the Pope. Look out for (LIttle) Nell Campbell, Rick Wakeman, Georgina Hale, Murray Melvin and an uncredited, Oliver Reed.
The clueless conservatives chatterboxes on Fox News and AM talk radio cheering on the evictions of the rapidly dwindling in number Occupy sites around the country have another thing coming if they think that the fun is over. It’s not the end of anything, no matter what smug frat-boys like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh or Eric Bolling claim to “think.”
The Occupy movement isn’t waning, it’s mutating into something different now. Something we can’t predict yet. The rightwing echo chamber acts as if standing around in freezing cold public spaces with the intention to annoy the “job creators” was the movement’s sole aim. I think these Marie Antoinette Republicans are… wrong.
The Occupy movement is beginning to follow a familiar pattern, said Todd Gitlin, a sociologist at Columbia University and an authority on social movements. He noted that the 1960s anti-war movement grew gradually for years until bursting onto the world stage during the election year of 1968.
He predicted big rallies around the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Until then, “I think there will be some kinds of occupations, but I don’t think they’ll be as big and as central,” Gitlin said.
When the dust settles and the history is written, Zuccotti Park will be seen as a “strange attractor” rallying place, a “temporary autonomous zone” and a very potent symbol of what could be, but that’s all it will be in the final narrative: The First Act.
And what a beginning it was. People in Wisconsin, in Ohio, in Michigan, in Los Angeles, in Oakland, previously apathetic Americans are starting to wake up to the stark and shitty realities of life in our times in an unprecedented manner and actually fight back. I’m someone who thought “the revolution” would have taken place by the end of the 1980s. I’ve been predicting something like this for 30 years. Even a stopped clock has the right time twice a day, I suppose, but it was getting ridiculous.
As everyone who was there knows, something really special happened in lower Manhattan. Now, no matter where you live, it’s time to use the winter months to organize for next year’s election. There is a chance to gain a lot of ground in 2012. The Reichwing is in a state of preposterously comic disarray with no savior in sight. It might even be possible to push Obama and the Democrats truly leftwards for a change (stranger things have happened, see also FDR; see also what REALLY happened during Great Depression). No one knows what is going to happen next, but I do suspect for there to be a lot of it about, to paraphrase Spike Milligan.
To get too bogged down in trying to hold on to some real estate would have merely become a distraction and as time went on, the “visuals,” as so many in the media like to say, would have taken on a different semiotic and not done the movement any favors in what is, essentially still a war of images. All things considered—and this is just one asshole’s opinion, mine—I think it’s probably the right time for the various Occupy encampments to disperse. It was starting to feel like the first act needed to come to a climax. And what a G-spot barnstormer that curtain-closer was.
Even as I was privileged to have witnessed Occupy Wall Street on three occasions in all of its life-affirming, carnivalesque glory, for anyone looking at the situation as a supportive outsider, the writing was on the wall in October about how long Zuccotti Park could reasonably be expected to be held by the wide cross-section of people who kick-started the movement. As more and more people were going to get peeled off because of the diabolically cold New York winter, it’s a blunt fact that after a certain point, only the chronically homeless would have still been camping out in that freezing cold concrete park. And Fox News would have been all over Zuccotti Park, the open-air homeless shelter.
Lest you think I am disparaging the homeless contingent at Occupy Wall Street, I’m not. In very little of the reporting I’ve seen or read on the OWS encampment, is there any mention of the extremely pivotal roles that were played by the hardcore homeless people and the gutterpunk types in what went down at Zuccotti Park. THEY are the ones who made it possible for the park to be held long enough for the others to join them. Nope, I’m not dissing the homeless participants in OWS, in the least, I think they were amongst the very first frontline heroes of the movement, but it’s just time to move past romancing this idea of the ragtag encampments. go back inside and get better organized. Some people, sympathetic to the movement’s goals are never in a million years going to do something “rash.” It’s time to reach out to them now, so the government knows what size crowd it’s dealing with! (That “silent majority” thing works both ways, as the establishment is finally starting to find out. Americans don’t like “Socialism” but they seem to LOVE socialist ideas, especially in times when their families are starving and they can’t afford to heat their homes. Just saying).
During the past few days, I’ve noticed quite a few more than just vaguely supportive “What’s next for the Occupy movement?” articles popping up in the mainstream media, including the front page of the New York Times, and from the Associated Press and Reuters. There’s also been some worried “What are we going to do about the OWS movement?” type things appearing in the conservative blogsphere.
A pretty good indicator of opinion on the right can be seen in Republican strategist Frank Luntz’s comments to the Republican Governors Association this week in Florida. Say what you will about Luntz—I hate his guts and think he’s made this country a much shittier, meaner, stupider place than had he never been born—the man, like Karl Rove, is an evil genius. But can even the sinister Mister Luntz do anything to stop the tidal wave of history? (To paraphrase the Carol Beer character in Little Britain, “Dialectic says ‘NO’”).
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” Luntz told the GOP governors. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz told them. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
You could read into that statement a lot of different ways. I’ll leave you to your own interpretation.
Another thing I see happening, and I applaud the editors who are sharp enough to get why this would be a good idea, is that people who have actually physically been at the various Occupy encampments and were writing from an “on the ground perspective” there, are starting to get hired by some of the major newspapers to cover current events, and the arts, from the point of view of the Occupy movement.
“This is uniquely American,” I remark to Roy about interviewing her while both in cars but thousands of miles apart. Having driven some 7,000 miles and visited 23 cities (and counting) in reporting on the Occupy movement, it’s become apparent that the US is essentially an oil-based economy in which we shuttle goods we no longer make around a continental land mass, creating poverty-level dead-end jobs in the service sector.
If that last bit didn’t drain the blood out of your face, then read it again.
From the interview with the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things:
Arun Gupta: Why did you want to visit Occupy Wall Street and what are your impressions of it?
Arundhati Roy: How could I not want to visit? Given what I’ve been doing for so many years, it seems to me, intellectually and theoretically, quite predictable this was going to happen here at some point. But still I cannot deny myself the surprise and delight that it has happened. And I wanted to, obviously, see for myself the extent and size and texture and nature of it. So the first time I went there, because all those tents were up, it seemed more like a squat than a protest to me, but it began to reveal itself in a while. Some people were holding the ground and it was the hub for other people to organise, to think through things. As I said when I spoke at the People’s University, it seems to me to be introducing a new political language into the United States, a language that would be considered blasphemous only a while ago.
Arun Gupta: Do you think that the Occupy movement should be defined by occupying one particular space or by occupying spaces?
Arundhati Roy: I don’t think the whole protest is only about occupying physical territory, but about reigniting a new political imagination. I don’t think the state will allow people to occupy a particular space unless it feels that allowing that will end up in a kind of complacency, and the effectiveness and urgency of the protest will be lost. The fact that in New York and other places where people are being beaten and evicted suggests nervousness and confusion in the ruling establishment. I think the movement will, or at least should, become a protean movement of ideas, as well as action, where the element of surprise remains with the protesters. We need to preserve the element of an intellectual ambush and a physical manifestation that takes the government and the police by surprise. It has to keep re-imagining itself, because holding territory may not be something the movement will be allowed to do in a state as powerful and violent as the United States.
Arun Gupta: At the same, occupying public spaces did capture the public imagination. Why do you think that is?
Arundhati Roy: I think you had a whole subcutaneous discontent that these movements suddenly began to epitomise. The Occupy movement found places where people who were feeling that anger could come and share it – and that is, as we all know, extremely important in any political movement. The Occupy sites became a way you could gauge the levels of anger and discontent.
Arun Gupta: You mentioned that they are under attack. Dozens of occupations have been shut down, evicted, at least temporarily, in the last week. What do you see as the next phase for this movement?
Arundhati Roy: I don’t know whether I’m qualified to answer that, because I’m not somebody who spends a lot of time here in the United States, but I suspect that it will keep reassembling in different ways and the anger created by the repression will, in fact, expand the movement. But eventually, the greater danger to the movement is that it may dovetail into the presidential election campaign that’s coming up. I’ve seen that happen before in the antiwar movement here, and I see it happening all the time in India. Eventually, all the energy goes into trying to campaign for the “better guy”, in this case Barack Obama, who’s actually expanding wars all over the world. Election campaigns seem to siphon away political anger and even basic political intelligence into this great vaudeville, after which we all end up in exactly the same place.
Arun Gupta: You’ve written about the need for a different imagination than that of capitalism. Can you talk about that?
Arundhati Roy: We often confuse or loosely use the ideas of crony capitalism or neoliberalism to actually avoid using the word “capitalism”, but once you’ve actually seen, let’s say, what’s happening in India and the United States – that this model of US economics packaged in a carton that says “democracy” is being forced on countries all over the world, militarily if necessary, has in the United States itself resulted in 400 of the richest people owning wealth equivalent [to that] of half of the population. Thousands are losing their jobs and homes, while corporations are being bailed out with billions of dollars.
In India, 100 of the richest people own assets worth 25% of the gross domestic product. There’s something terribly wrong. No individual and no corporation should be allowed to amass that kind of unlimited wealth, including bestselling writers like myself, who are showered with royalties. Money need not be our only reward. Corporations that are turning over these huge profits can own everything: the media, the universities, the mines, the weapons industry, insurance hospitals, drug companies, non-governmental organisations. They can buy judges, journalists, politicians, publishing houses, television stations, bookshops and even activists. This kind of monopoly, this cross-ownership of businesses, has to stop.
The whole privatisation of health and education, of natural resources and essential infrastructure – all of this is so twisted and so antithetical to anything that would place the interests of human beings or the environment at the center of what ought to be a government concern – should stop. The amassing of unfettered wealth of individuals and corporations should stop. The inheritance of rich people’s wealth by their children should stop. The expropriators should have their wealth expropriated and redistributed.
The interview concludes when Gupta asks Roy if the term “occupation” can be reclaimed: She tells him “We ought to say, “Occupy Wall Street, not Iraq,” “Occupy Wall Street, not Afghanistan,” “Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine.” The two need to be put together. Otherwise people might not read the signs.”
Arundhati Roy: ‘The people who created the crisis will not be the ones that come up with a solution’ (The Guardian)
Look for more of Arun Gupta’s work on Salon. Follow him on Twitter.
Another strong—and often very amusing—new voice emerging from the media on the Left is Tina Dupuy, the managing editor of the mighty Crooks and Liars blog. She’s a powerful and persuasive writer and a sometime stand-up comic. Dupuy gave a fascinating firsthand description of what she saw the other night when Occupy Los Angeles—the largest of all the encampments—was evicted, when she was on Sam Seder’s Majority Report yesterday. I’m glad this woman is out there on the frontlines. Tina Dupuy could be another Rachel Maddow. It can’t be long until Current TV or MSNBC snaps her up (Or The Daily Show for that matter. They could use a real Lefty…)
In Congressional districts represented by Tea Party lawmakers, the number of people saying they disagree with the Tea Party has risen sharply over the year since the movement powered a Republican sweep in midterm elections, so that almost as many people disagree with the Tea Party as agree with it, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center.
Support for the Republican Party has fallen more sharply in those places than it has in the country as a whole. In the 60 districts represented in Congress by a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, Republicans are viewed about as negatively as Democrats.
The survey suggests that the Tea Party may be dragging down the Republican Party heading into a presidential election year, even as it ushered in a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives just a year ago.
Other polls have shown a decline in support for the Tea Party and its positions, particularly because its hard line during the debate over the debt ceiling and deficit reduction made the Tea Party less an abstraction. In earlier polls, most Americans did not know enough about the Tea Party to offer an opinion.
But the Pew survey shows that Tea Party support has declined even in places where it had been particularly robust.
“We know that the image of the G.O.P. has slipped, but to see it slip so dramatically in Tea Party districts is pretty surprising,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew center. “You think of those as bedrock Republican districts. They are the base.”
In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken earlier this month, 76 percent agreed that the “current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country.” In another recent poll, by The Washington Post/ABC News, respondents were asked: “Do you think the federal government should or should not pursue policies that try to reduce the gap between wealthy and less well-off Americans?” A majority – 60 percent – said the government should pursue such policies.
Meanwhile, public concern about the Tea Party’s linchpin issues – taxes and the deficit – has receded. Asked in late October to name the most important issue facing the country, just 5 percent of respondents to a New York Times/CBS News poll named the budget deficit. A majority said jobs and the economy. This same poll included another result that should give Democrats hope: A strong 69 percent of respondents agreed that the policies of Republicans in Congress “favor the rich” while just 12 percent thought the same thing about Obama’s policies.
Actually that poll should do more than just provide the Democrats with some “hope”—it should give them SOME FUCKING IDEAS. Here’s one for free: TAX THE RICH.
And lastly, here’s the New Statesman blog had a look at the numbers from big strike in the UK:
The unions claim that around 2 million people were on strike yesterday, but ministers dispute this, putting the number closer to 1.2 million.
Well they would say that, wouldn’t they? Either way that’s well over a million people striking. And David Cameron calls that “a damp squib”? What number would it take to really rattle the boy Prime Minister? Let’s hope we get to find out soon!
The recent News of the World ‘phone hacking scandal wasn’t the first time the red top used illicit means to obtain stories. Back in the swinging sixties, the paper regularly bartered with the police for information to use in its pages.
One of the News of the World’s tip-offs to the cops led to the most infamous drugs trial of the twentieth century, where Mick Jagger, Keith Richard of The Rolling Stones, and art dealer Robert Fraser were imprisoned in an apparent attempt to destroy the band’s corrupting influence over the nation’s youth.
For the first time, the true story behind the arrests and trial is revealed by Simon Wells in his excellent book Butterfly on a Wheel: The Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust. Wells’ previous work includes books on The Beatles and The Stones, British Cinema and most recently, a powerful and disturbing biography of Charles Manson. In an exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds, Wells explained his interest in The Stones drugs bust:
‘As a student of the 1960s it was perhaps inevitable that I would collide with the whole Redlands’ issue at some point. Probably like anyone with a passing interest in the Stones, I first knew about it mainly from legend - the “Mars Bar”, the fur rug, the “Butterfly On A Wheel” quote etc. However, like most of the events connected to the 1960s I was aware that there had to be a back story, and not what had been passed down into myth. This story proved to be no exception, and hopefully the facts are as sensational (if not more) than what has passed into mythology. Additionally, as a Sussexboy - I was familiar with the physical landscape of the story- so that was also attractive to me as well.’
Just after eight o’clock, on the evening of February 12 1967, the West Sussex police arrived at Keith Richards’ home, Redlands. Inside, Keith and his guests - including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, the gallery owner Robert Fraser, and “Acid King” David Schneiderman - shared in the quiet warmth of a day taking LSD. Relaxed, they listened to music, oblivious to the police gathering outside. The first intimation something was about to happen came when a face appeared, pressed against the window.
It must be a fan. Who else could it be? But Keith noticed it was a “little old lady”. Strange kind of fan. If we ignore her. She’ll go away.
Then it came, a loud, urgent banging on the front door. Robert Fraser quipped, “Don’t answer. It must be tradesmen. Gentlemen ring up first.” Marianne Faithfull whispered, “If we don’t make any noise, if we’re all really quiet, they’ll go away.” But they didn’t.
When Richards opened the door, he was confronted by 18 police officers led by Police Chief Inspector Gordon Dinely, who presented Richards with a warrant to “search the premises and the persons in them, under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965.”
This then was the start to the infamous trial of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Robert Fraser.
More on Simon Wells ‘The Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust’, after the jump…
Chacho Puebla thought it would be interesting and funny to see what kind of advice our generation will be giving to our future grandchildren.
Meemaw always knows best, doesn’t she?
As my son gets older and I get more grey hair, I wonder what kind of advice will I give to my grand kids? My three grandmothers were always giving me sermons instead of tips. “Be carfeul with your money.” “Don´get invloved with that girl,” “Save,” “Get a haircut, you look like a hippie,” and all those classic parent, grandparent comments.
When you´re younger you think you´ll never fall into that same kind of discourse, until you find yourself talking about stupid (cliché) stuff with your kid, about how important school is and if you don´t have a degree you´re nobody. I hope I can give better advice some day. In the meantime, here are some tips my grandmother should have given me.
In Growing Up In America, Morley Markson revisits his 1969 documentary on counter culture icons, Breathing Together:Revolution Of The Electric Family, with the original subjects of the film to get the perspective of age and hindsight.
Reflecting the past through the present, forming a kind of Möbius strip of history, we watch as they watch: Jerry Rubin’s transformation from firebrand radical to Capitalist cliche, the evolution and assassination of Fred Hampton (through the eyes of his mother) and the unwavering integrity and self-realization of Abbie Hoffman, William Kunstler, Timothy Leary, former Black Panther Field Marshall/expatriate Don Cox, Allen Ginsberg, and MC5 manager and White Panther founder John Sinclair. This is a fascinating glimpse at lives that mattered and still do.
It’s hard to believe that with the exception of John Sinclair and director Markson all of these men are dead. Are these the last of a dying breed?
While Growing Up In America is a vital and significant document, its failure to include some women in the mix is a glaring oversight. Bernardine Dohrn, Angela Davis, Shulamith Firestone and Diane di Prima are just a few of the women who were actively involved with cultural and political upheaval of the Sixties and any one of them would have provided a much needed woman’s point of view to the film. Once again, we’re confronted with the notion that the Sixties counter-culture was a boy’s club.
This fine documentary is out-of-print on video and has yet to be released on DVD.
Tony Clifton, one of Andy Kaufman’s many alter-egos, presides over some totally clueless plaintiffs and defendants (clearly not actors) in this brilliant and absolutely apeshit take-off on The People’s Court.
Stormy Justice: With Judge Tony Clifton was allegedly filmed in 1999 and directed by Adam Collis. But most anything having to do with Andy Kaufman, dead or alive, is suspect and shrouded in mystery. One thing I’m certain of is Kaufman’s good friend Bob Zmuda is portraying Judge Clifton in this hilarious prank. Zmuda shared the Clifton persona with Kaufman even when Kaufman was alive. All the more to confuse the fuck out of his fans.
Did this actually air on TV? And are those commercials real? We have entered the Tony Clifton zone where no one and nothing is spared…most of all reality.
They may have looked like the oldest hippies in town, but before Punk, Hawkwind was the unwashed boy band of counter culture. Their music - the hymn book for the disenfranchised, the geeks, the loners, the smart kids at school, who never tried to please teacher. To be a fan was like running away to some intergalactic circus. John Lydon was a fan, and the Sex Pistols regularly performed “Silver Machine” - Hawkwind’s classic Dave Brock / Robert Calvert single, with its defining vocal by Lemmy (Ian Kilmister). Like millions of others, this was the song that first introduced me to Hawkwind, when it was played under a visual cornucopia from a performance at the Dunstable Civic Hall, on Top of the Pops in 1972.
Formed in 1969, Hawkwind were a rather sweaty and masculine mix of Acid Rock (LSD was handed out at gigs) and Space Rock. They appealed to those with an interest in Jerry Cornelius, Ballard, Burroughs, Philip K Dick, Freak Brothers’ comics, black holes, Gramsci, Kropotkin, Stacia and Derek ‘n’ Clive. In sixth form at school, we discussed the merits Quark, Strangeness and Charm against Warrior on the Edge of Time; Hawklords versus Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music or Doremi Fasol Latido. Hawkwind were an albums band, unlike Punk and New Wave which then seemed defined by singles, issued as keenly as revolutionary pamphlets. There was a ritual to playing thirty-three-and-a-third, long-playing discs: opening the sleeve, reading the liner notes or lyrics, cleaning the disc and stylus, listening to all of side 1, then side 2. It was like attending mass and sharing in the holy sacrament.
Hawkwind evolved from its original line-up - Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Nik Turner (saxophone, flute, vocals), Huw Lloyd-Langton (guitar, vocals), John A. Harrison (bass guitar, vocals), Dik Mik (Synthesizer), Terry Ollis (drums), Mick Slattery (guitar), to include amongst others such wayward talents as poet and singer Robert Calvert (who died too soon), Lemmy, and author Michael Moorcock. Being a fan of Hawkwind was like a rites of passage, that opened doors to other equally experimental and original music.
More than forty years on, Hawkwind, under the helm of its only original member Dave Brock, is still touring the world, bringing an incredible back catalogue of music and tuning people in to a world of possibility.