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Next for the Occupy movement: Debt strikes?


“If you owe the bank $1000, you’re at the mercy of the bank, if you owe the bank $1,000,000,000 the bank is at your mercy.”

A few weeks back, I attended an extraordinary event in New York organized by my longtime friend Douglas Rushkoff called “Contact.” It was a fascinating symposium about fighting corporate influence online and how to affect societal change using social media tools (more or less). The object of the day was to tease out four projects from the participants (a mix of 300 activists, tech entrepreneurs, intellectuals and media types) which could be practically realized, not just “pie in the sky” stuff. Four finalists got $10,000 awards from Pepsi to assist in concretizing these ideas.

At first, the conference, which took place at a stunning former synagogue on the Lower East Side known as The Angel Orensanz Center, got off to a bumpy start. Whenever someone would raise their hand and say something too fuzzy like “I’d like to start an online forum for people to discuss social issues” this got back a politely, yet dismissive “Uh, what, specifically, do you mean by that?” response from Rushkoff, who led the sessions. His firm conceptual herding caused a rapid focusing of the group mind into projects that had not just viability—and utility, of course—but that could actually be manifested within days or weeks.

There were a lot of worthy, even brilliant, ideas kicked around that day, but the first one that really caused me to take notice was when one of the participants stood up and said he’d like to create an online tool to facilitate and organize a mass debt strike against the banks and the government. There was an immediate “x factor” that this notion tapped into (my guess is that Occupy Wall Street was supported by 100% of the room) and “Kick-Stopper,” as the project was dubbed, became one of the four finalists.

When the conference broke down into smaller discussion groups—I was one of the judges of who would get the Pepsi cash—I silently observed the debt strike enthusiasts’ conversation with interest. I was somewhat less enamored of the concept when Thomas Gokey, an adjunct professor at Syracuse University who proposed the idea, said that maybe the money owed to the banks could be held in escrow accounts, eventually getting paid to the banks, but only after they’d agreed to certain demands and reforms. To some of the people seated on pillows in the venue’s balcony, this seemed like a reasonable approach, but at least half the group groaned and expressed the more punk rock sentiment of “fuck the banks, they’ll get NONE of it” which seemed like a much better position to take, to my mind.

Stiffing the fuckers is something they’ll understand…

I’m not sure where they got with it in the end with the escrow vs. the fuck the banks question, but Kick-Stopper, as I mentioned, was one of the four finalists and you can follow the progress they are making here. Sarah Jaffe, who was at the Contact event, wrote about the debt strike concept at length at AlterNet:

“I wanted to do this project because I kept having the same basic conversation with everyone at Zuccotti and everywhere else,” Gokey told me. “When I talk to people about what we could do that would really compel Congress and Wall Street to meet our demands or really alter the current system, we inevitably start discussing what non-cooperation with our own oppression would look like. What does it mean to stop cooperating with the banks? What we inevitably end up describing is some variation of a debt strike, simply ending our own participation in a system that exploits us.”


“The problem is that a debt-strike will take a lot of coordination to make it work,” Thomas Gokey points out, “It can’t just be one person who is willing to risk their financial life, it only works when there are millions of people who are willing to take that risk together, and they are only going to take that risk if they can feel confident that everyone else has got their back.”

That in part is what Gokey hoped to solve by bringing the debt strike idea to ContactCon, but it’s not the only one. Lerner points out that the debt strike also needs targets, demands and an answer to the question, “Who pays?”

“There should be debt forgiveness, but these guys—the student loan profiteers—should eat it, not the government and taxpayers,” he points out. “The banks should pay because they destroyed the economy, they sucked 18-year-olds into predatory loans they are stuck with for life.”

Hear, hear! Imagine the indignity of graduating from college with $100,000 of student loan debt nipping at your heels and today’s nearly non-existent job prospects. It’s absurd.

I’m not an expert in this sort of thing, but apparently you can’t charge off student loans in bankruptcy, they’ll just attach your wages, so a collective action to withhold student loan payments (and credit card debt) at a time when half the country is skint could gather critical mass rather quickly, I’d imagine. Everyone else got a bail-out, why shouldn’t you?

My prediction: You’re going to be hearing the term “debt strike” used a lot in the coming months.

(For the record, I have not a single cent of student loan debt. I didn’t go to college and I have no skin in this game. Education should be free for anyone who wants to learn and better themselves.)

Debtor’s Revolution: Are Debt Strikes Another Possible Tactic in the Fight Against the Big Banks? (AlterNet)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Roy Wood: The talent behind The Move, ELO and Wizzard
02:22 pm

Pop Culture


Happy Birthday to Roy Wood - musical genius and founder member of The Move, the Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard.

From the moment the needle hit the vinyl and the sirens screamed, I was hooked on Roy Wood’s music. His single “Fire Brigade” was 2 minutes of perfect pop with the best opening lyric I’d ever heard

Cast your mind back ten years
To the girl who’s next to me in school
If I put me hand upon her leg
She hit me with a rule.

I’d have to cast my mind back farther than 10 years to recall the girl who sat next or near to me in school. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d put my hand upon her knee, but do know she grew up to be a cop, who made headlines for her sexual shenanigans, and is up before the beak for perverting the course of justice. But, so much is life.

“Fire Brigade” charted in February 1968, and was The Move’s fourth single, it’s a work of sheer bloody brilliance that later helped the Sex Pistols with “God Save the Queen”.

I don’t think Roy Wood has ever received the full respect and recognition his musical talents deserve. Founder of 3 highly successful bands - The Move, The Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard, and a composer of a jukebox full of hit singles, Wood is as important as Goffin & King, Lennon & McCartney, Jagger and Richards. But where they all had writing partners to bounce ideas off, Wood was on his own. He is one of those rare solo geniuses like Pete Townshend or David Bowie.

Roy Wood was born on 8 November 1946, in Kitts Green, Birmingham, England, He tested his mettle with various bands before forming The Move with Chris “Ace” Kefford, Carl Wayne, Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan. By dint of writing the songs, Wood was the band’s unofficial leader, yet his lack of confidence saw him share lead vocals with Wayne.

Wood was also a multi-instrumentalist, which made him and The Move far more experimental than any of their rivals, and this includes The Beatles. Take for instance, The Move’s first single “Night of Fear”, from 1966, which sampled Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture to create a song about the downside of LSD. The subject matter reflected the band’s interests in the pop sherbets - particularly Burton and Kefford, who were “the ones out of their brains on drugs,” as drummer Bev Bevan later recalled.

In 1967, Kefford tripped out of his mind and the band during a fancy dress party at Birmingham’s Cedar Club. As he later told Mark Paytress for the liner notes for The Very Best of the Move:

‘There were all these little men sitting around me with pointed heads and big noses and long fingers that touched the floor. They were with me all night, man. Acid screwed my life up, man. It devastated me completely.’

It wasn’t just drugs that brought The Move national notoriety, their stage show involved the chain-sawing of motor cars, and at one point, long before Punk, they were banned from nearly every venue in the UK.

On the upside, The Move’s popularity led to their single “Flowers in the Rain” used to launch BBC’s Radio 1 in 1967. It should have been a crowning moment, but turned out to be a painful loss. The Move’s original Manager Tony Secunda decided to promote the single with a satirical postcard of then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson in bed with his secretary, Marcia Williams. The postcard was Secunda’s idea, and had nothing to do with Wood or the other band members. Unfortunately, Wilson sued for libel, and won. All of Wood’s royalties for the single were paid over to Wilson, who donated them to charity - a situation that continues 16-years after Wilson’s death.

In a way, this story captures the essence of The Move, a band more dangerous than The Stones, more original than The Beatles, but too often short-circuited by their own and others’ actions.

The Move followed Wood’s musical direction through psychedelia (“Night of Fear”, “Disturbance”, “Flowers in the Rain”, “Lemon Tree”, “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”), pop (“Curly”, “Omnibus”, “Tonight”, “Blackberry Way”, “Beautiful Daughter”), Heavy Metal (“When Alice Comes Back to the Farm”, “Brontosaurus”) and Rock (“California Man”).  These were all stunning songs, but The Move never achieved legendary status because they didn’t conquer America. By the time the US music press did pay attention to the band, it was too late, as John Mendlesohn noted for Rolling Stone in 1971:

“The Move is the most under-rated rock group and deserve to be put in the same category as Led Zeppelin and The Faces.”

Wood had three other careers going by the early seventies. After Trevor Burton left in 1969 and Carl Wayne in 1970, Wood invited Jeff Lynne to join the group, and also suggested starting a second group The Electric Light Orchestra, together with Bev Bevan, which would mix classical music with Rock ‘n’ Roll, and “start from where The Beatles left off”.

For me the sixties finished when When Roy Wood announced the end of The Move and his departure from the Electric Light Orchestra. Thereafter, the ELO was Jeff Lynne’s band, which never realized the potential of Roy Wood’s original idea.

But Wood wasn’t finished yet, he was about to become the Grandfather of Glam with his next band Wizzard - a Brummie fusion of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. The seventies started when Wizzard released their first single “Ball Park Incident”. I can still recall the sensation when I first heard it, an epiphany akin to Jesus walking on the water and turning it into wine. Here was the past and the future all rolled into one.

Wizzard flourished with a series of hit singles and the albums Wizzard Brew (1973) and Introducing Eddie and The Falcons (1974). Then there was Wood’s solo work, firstly the superb album Boulders, originally recorded between 1969 and 1971, and released in 1973. Then the brilliant follow-up Mustard in 1975.

Between 1970 and 1975, Wood recorded 8 hit albums - 3 with The Move (Shazam, Looking On, Message from the Country; 1 with ELO; 2 with Wizzard and 2 as a solo artist. The quality and consistency of these albums is unparalleled, and when compared to the output of Lennon or McCartney at this time, Roy Wood puts the former Beatles in the shade.

From this he deserved to go on to greater success, but his career was drastically cut short by his asshole manager, Don Arden, as Wood explained in an interview with the Sunday Mercury in 2009:

“I was contracted to Don Arden for longer than I should have been,” he sighs. “When I broke away he stopped me from recording in any London studio. I ended up booking in under false names but I was soon recognised.

“He ruined the momentum. After Wizzard it was difficult. People haven’t got very long memories and suddenly you fall out of favour. When that happens it’s really hard to get back if you’re not high-profile. I was working flat-out but to little effect. After that, I was just mucking about with musicians and going into local studios. We had an album called On The Road Again that was originally going to be on EMI but wasn’t promoted at all.”

Sadly, Wood disappeared from the music scene, releasing the solo albums On the Road Again in 1979 and Starting Up in 1985, to little affect. Now, to those in the UK, Roy Wood is generally associated with his 1973 festive hit “I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday”, rather than as a highly talented musician and performer, and a true pop genius. But, then again, so much is life.

Happy Birthday Roy!

Roy Wood will tour the UK this November and December, details here

The Move “Fire Brigade” - Live 1969
More of Roy Wood’s golden hits, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Only assholes don’t like the B-52s (part 3)
06:46 pm

Pop Culture


Welcome to part III of my multimedia dossiers on the wild and wonderful recording career of that great American band, the B-52s. Today’s topic, my personal favorite of all of their releases, the 1982 EP produced by David Byrne known as Mesopotamia.

Yes, what is generally thought of as being one of their least successful records—it was critically savaged when it came out—is to my mind their very best work. The hiring on of Byrne, then at the height of his creative powers—he was simultaneously producing the seminal score he did for Twyla Tharp’s Broadway production, The Catherine Wheel—I thought was an inspired move on the band’s part. Byrne introduced the polyrhythmic African beats of Remain in Light and his Brian Eno collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts into the signature sound of the “tacky little dance band from Athens, Georgia’’ ” to great effect. I was a huge Talking Heads fan, so hearing elements of their “African/Eno-era” sound melding with the trademark B-52s wacky racket was heaven for me as a teenage rock snob. Byrne took their sound to a different place, and I felt nicely expanded on their sonic palette. The B-52s obviously felt differently, as Byrne was fired before a complete album could be recorded (hence an EP of the sessions was released).

Seriously, you have no idea how often I played this record. It falls into the “soundtrack of my life” category in a big way. But what many fans of the group do not know is that there are three very different versions of Mesopotamia: The “classic” short (US/Warner Brothers) EP version; the extended mix version mistakenly(?) released in Germany and in the UK by Island Records; and the 1991 CD version, which basically mixed David Byrne right out of the proceedings…

The first two B-52s albums are classics, and to my mind, perfect in every way, but a third album in that same style would have probably been one too many. Byrne’s involvement, for many fans, took the band a little too far away from their inspired amateur beginnings perhaps, but who else but Byrne was capable of coming up with such amazing grooves back then? And haven’t the B-52s always been about the beat? David Byrne was on fire then creatively. I’ve read that the B-52s felt that his production made them sound too much like the Talking Heads, but hey, what a valid direction that was for them!. True, certain elements of their sound (Ricky Wilson’s Venusian surf guitar for one) were diminished, but other elements (Wilson’s striking use of dissonance in his compositions) are given free rein with different instrumentation (like the nearly atonal horn lines). Their sound was nicely expanded upon by Byrne’s “dubbier/trippier” and more-layered production approach, if you ask me, but the B-52s didn’t ask, and it’s their call, ultimately…

Still why not release a special collector’s edition of Mesopotamia with the original David Byrne mixes, the longer Byrne mixes and the known outtakes: “Queen of Las Vegas,” (see below), the original “Big Bird” and “Butterbean” (both recut for Whammy) and the out of character Fred Schneider ballad “Adios Desconocida” (which I found here)? In any case, the longer, “alt” David Byrne version of Mesopotamia, unavailable now for nearly 30 years and never released on CD can be downloaded at The Same Mistakes blog and elsewhere)

PS I don’t hate the 1991 remix of Mesopotamia, but I’d never choose to listen to it over either of the David Byrne versions. Ever. Nuff said.

Kate, Fred and Cindy on the set of The Guiding Light soap opera in 1982 (see below for video clip)

Compare the nearly 8-minute version of “Cake” with the shorter version that was released ex-UK and Germany. This song minus the horns at the beginning? A sacrilege!

And to think that at one point, I actually thought this song really was about baking a cake… Short version of “Cake” (US version):

Below, “Deep Sleep.” It’s true that this would very much sound at home on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, but would anyone doubt that this is the B-52s once the vocals come in?

A slamming live “Mesopotamia” from the Rockpop Festival, Dortmund, Germany, 1983:

After the jump, the B-52s make a guest appearance on “The Guiding Light” soap opera in 1982… and more!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Banned in the U.K.’: Video Nasties
09:08 pm

Pop Culture


The idea behind Banned in the UK was that you can learn more about a country through what it bans rather than by what it permits. Made by the multi-talented producer/director Nicola Black, the series examined the who, what, whys? of bans on front line news coverage during the Falklands War, Derek and Clive, Rave Culture, football hooliganism and sexploitation, plus a host of other surprising no-nos.

This short clip is on the horror films which were either labeled Video Nasties (39 in total), or banned by the British Board of Film Classification (originally Censors until 1984), ranging from The Good: Sam Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead, Abel Ferrara’s Driller KillerTenebrae. The Bad: Night of the Bloody Apes, The Living Dead of Manchester Morgue. And the Bloody Awful: SS Experiment Camp, Snuff. All of these films were considered to be a corrupting and dangerous influence, one which Conservative MP Christopher (not so) Bright claimed would “not only affect young people but I believe they affect dogs as well.”

When The Evil Dead failed to win its opening press screening in London due yo a ban, it relocated to Glasgow, where I was fortunate enough to see it. The film was a blast, and a joy to meet director Sam Raimi and his special effects man Tom Sullivan, who revealed the secrets of filming - the Dead’s hands made from Marigold gloves and glue; their entrails baked beans. Even then, it was more than apparent Raimi was an inspiring and exceptional genius, who had only great things ahead of him.

Here’s the back story of how Video Nasties nearly unhinged Britain’s youth in the 1980s. The horror, the horror…

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Nicola Black: Mesh Digital Animation

‘Mirrorball’: Chris Cunningham, Spike Jonze, Jonathan Glazer, Michel Gondry and co.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Media Reacts To Conan’s Same-Sex Wedding News

Johnny Carson’s comic psychic “Carnac the Magnificent” merely held an envelope to his head, but Conan O’Brien? He really pushes the envelope. As you’ll see.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Slavoj Žižek speaks about Occupy Wall Street on Fox News?

Yeah, you wish… Me too! Sorry for the bait and switch, folks, but I’ll try to make it up to you with a new half-hour video of Žižek, below, as seen on Al Jazeera last week.

I do have a point, though, for leading you here under false pretenses: The fact that you are interested to see what Slavoj Žižek (or someone like him) would say about Occupy Wall Street, and especially hearing it said on Fox News, is why Roger Ailes needs to do a very quick revamp of his product if he doesn’t want Fox to seem like it’s yesterday’s news…

It’s been interesting to watch how Fox News keeps calling on the very same lame-brained group of talking heads they always call on, to discuss Occupy Wall Street. Like they can’t rotate in ANYONE new to shake things up even a little bit? OWS has upset the Fox News apple cart in a big way. They have no idea how to deal with it, understand it, or even process it intellectually, let alone report on it, and that is becoming more and more obvious every day.

How many variations on the themes of “dirty hippies,” “they don’t know what they want,” “they’re a bunch of violent socialists who are just jealous of rich people (like us and our masters)” and of course, “ACORN!” are there?

I’ve just counted four.

Predictable but hilarious. In less than two months Fox has nearly totally lost its once secure place in the national conversation. They’re floundering very, very badly. They’ve fumbled the ball.

Here’s how I see it: Fox News post-Occupy Wall Street is like The Spice Girls the day after Geri Haliwell left the group. Their entire shtick became anachronistic in a single day.

This is what Occupy Wall Street has done to Fox News, not to mention the rest of the far Reichwing opinion outlets. From talk radio to the various editorials written byTea party twits on WorldNetDaily, what’s been on evidence for the past few weeks is that there is almost zero capability on the part of people who think that way to absorb what is happening because it is happening so incredibly quickly. It’s taken them completely by surprise.

Indeed, the scales have rapidly tipped in the past few weeks and there are shifting sands beneath our feet as I type this. My feet and yours, not just Bill O’Reilly’s or Rupert Murdoch’s. I don’t think anyone, right of left, has a full picture of what’s going on, or exactly where it’s headed, but what should be crystal clear to every person in the world capable of critical thinking is that something big, something very major and something potentially fantastic has happened and it is going to continue to happen for some time to come. Like it or not, this is not a prediction, it is a statement of fact.

The genie is way out of the bottle, but you won’t hear about this from entities (like Fox News) who are threatened by what’s happening. Some of the most objective reporting on what’s occurring in America—and when I say “objective” I mean to impart, in this instance, not an anti-American bias but a NON-American point of view, there is huge difference—is coming from Russia Today and Al Jazeera. You want interesting news, considered opinions, intelligent reporting and something beyond the empty calories of the shrieking taking heads, then check both networks out.

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek was recently given nearly 30 minutes on Al Jazeera to speak about global revolutionary movements and what’s coming next. Can you imagine the sparks that would fly if Žižek was invited on to The O’Reilly Factor or Sean Hannity’s program?

Why not? If it’s good for ratings, it’s good for ratings. Isn’t that all Ailes really cares about? Well, if so, Fox News will need to update their modus operandi—and pronto, too—to keep up with such rapidly changing events. The thing is, I don’t think they can go on as they have in the past. Not because I think their audience has, or is going to, “wise up” all of a sudden because of what they see happening with OWS (although some of them will). No, my contention is very simply that Fox News is becoming too predictable, even for their admittedly not very intellectually demanding viewers. That’s saying a lot.

Ann Coulter? Hmmm, I mean, I wonder what her take is on Occupy Wall Street, don’t you?

Actually, no I fucking don’t and I never have. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what Ann Coulter thinks about anything, but beyond that, she’s boring, and predictable, and so is Fox News. The past two months have seen the network foundering badly. Fox has become too rote, too boring. Ann Coulter? She’s not even any fun to mock anymore. Roger Ailes needs to euthanize Ann Coulter and push her off the gangplank just like he did with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. She’s the poster child for everything that’s wrong with Fox News right now. Put her and the rest of them out to pasture soon or Fox News will be just like the post-Geri Haliwell Spice Girls in 1998, becoming a glaring anachronism almost overnight.

Below, Slavoj Žižek on Al Jazeera last week:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The B-52s do ‘Love Shack’ live tonight in Austin
01:44 am

Pop Culture


DM’s Richard Metzger is on a B-52s jag and I thought I’d add a little something to the party.

33 years after seeing Fred, Kate, Cindy and Ricky at Max’s Kansas, I caught their show tonight here in Austin. Ricky sadly has long since departed this mortal coil but Keith Strickland has ably filled his shoes for the past two and a half decades.

The band is going through the motions but the motions are still fluid, funky and fun. It’s hard to believe the 52 in their band name could now be construed as a reference to their ages.

Here’s a clip of the group doing the THE party song of the 80s, “Love Shack.”  They’re joined by Sterling Campbell (drums), Paul Gordon (keyboards, guitar) and Tracy Wormworth (bass)

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The only known film footage of the inside of Max’s Kansas City
03:02 pm

Pop Culture


Ciao! Manhattan director David Weisman claims that this is “the only known footage of the inside of Max’s Kansas City.” Of course, he’s not including all the films and videos of performances shot at Max’s. But those don’t reveal what the club as a whole looked like.

A brief glimpse into New York’s epicenter of cool when everything and everyone seemed larger than life.

Viva, Richie Berlin, Ara Gallant and Paul America make fleeting appearances. This was shot in the late Sixties. Weisman narrates.

Thanks to Leee Black Childers for the photo.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Burn Wall Street, burn!

A “Beat Kidz” reporter (from Wonder Showzen) attempts to get to the bottom of this whole Wall Street exploitation thing... and succeeds better than a barrel of Steeve Doocys!

“When did you sell your conscience? You can’t run away from a child! Your money doesn’t make you better than me!”


Thank you Chris Campion of Berlin, Germany!/Via PFFR

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
For ‘Doctor Who’ fans only: ‘The Ballad of Russell & Julie’
01:19 pm

Pop Culture


Above, the real Julie and Russell

Newly leaked on YouTube: David Tennant, Catherine Tate and John Barrowman in this charming tribute to the outgoing Doctor Who production team of Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner, when they, and Timelord Tennant, departed from the series a few years back. This was shown at the wrap party after their final episode.

The song is a riff on “Let’s Do It,” the signature number of beloved British comedienne, Victoria Wood. The “Russell & Julie” lyrics were written by Jennie Fava.

Via Neatorma

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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