Thursday, March 31, 2005
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
"The music of the Smiths contained an emotional depth and a technical virtuosity that moved people in a way that almost no other band has managed before or since. In spite of their enormous cultural significance and personal resonance, the Smiths have yet to receive sustained academic attention. To date, there have been remarkably few serious examinations of the band. The purpose of this symposium is to put that right . . ."
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Monday, March 21, 2005
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Astralwerks has a wonderful roster of acts.
You can't go wrong with artists and groups as excellent as Craig Armstrong, the Beta Band, Badly Drawn Boy, Beth Orton and Radio 4 but my reason for namechecking Astralwerks in this post is to bring to the attention of as many people as possible the wonderful song (and accompanying video), 'I'd Rather Dance With You' by the Kings of Convenience.
I know the song is over a year old but I only stumbled across it a couple of days ago, and it has been lodged in my brain ever since. The rest of the album, Riot on An Empty Street, isn't too bad either but it does have a tendency to veer into China Crisis** territory occasionally, but more often than not they drag it back in time before the flourescent fingerless gloves get an airing.
** The obligatory eighties pop music reference. I'm already well aware of this blog's limitations.
"No, Jack! I shall not join just yet. Your Party is right, your position sound, and your arguments conclusive. I admit all that, but I don't think the time is ripe. When that time comes, Jack, 'You may count on me.”
"And when do you think the time will be ripe, as you call it?"
"I haven't a ghost of a notion. But I'd like to see the workers wake up a bit , first. I'd like to see your Party bigger, more active, you know what I mean - more prominent.”
"So would I, friend. But apparently you have not seen our new headquarters, I can hear."
"New headquarters? I -"
"Listen! It is neither a pretentious, nor a massive building. We are not building it for posterity; we shall not need it long. Immediately to the right of the entrance hall, there is a book saloon wherein any work helpful to the furtherance of Socialism may be procured or consulted. Most of the leading periodicals are represented on the reading stands. To the left are the editorial offices, where the three official journals and numbers of pamphlets are produced"
"Three official journals? I –“
"Wait a minute. There is the Socialist Standard, now enlarged to forty pages, still appearing monthly and having all the characteristics of a first-class political review. There is the Socialist Tribune, a weekly summary of a more topical character. It focuses the reader's attention upon events whilst they are still current, and picks out the thread of history whilst it is being made. The Socialist News appears daily, and, I say it without boasting, is unique in the world's journalism. Not an advertisement appears in it. It is thus entirely free from subsidised matter, and is independent of any attempt at a capitalist boycott. It is smaller in size than the usual capitalist rag, but it is all meat. Its editorial and contributory staffs are well grounded in Marxian economics and their historical application. Its daily articles are the despair of the few remaining capitalist sheets, for the latter's long reliance upon reiterated lies and mass suggestion has broken down in face of hard economic facts. You cannot convince a man who is going down for the third time that he is not drowning by bawling through a megaphone fifteen times that all is for the best. And the workers were no longer convinced that capitalism was the only possible system, when they remembered the hard times before the war, the little glimpse of better times during the war's progress, and the return to bad times again afterwards. But I am digressing. There is a dispatch department at the back, and that about completes the ground floor. Upstairs there are writing rooms, studies, classrooms and committee rooms. There is a good-sized hall for lectures and public meetings, and there is even an information bureau, where anyone with a difficulty may seek Socialist 'counsel's opinion'. The most interesting perhaps ate the organiser's room, where information, facts and figures are compiled for the use of our staff of speakers and propagandists. There are other details you would find interesting, and even stimulating, but I think I have said enough to set you wondering."
"You have, Jack! I have been wondering where these premises are situated."
"There now! If you, a convinced Socialist, were only in the movement, you would know as much as I about it."
"Yes! But tell me, Jack, where are these new headquarters?"
"Well! At the moment, they are in my mind's eye. All we are waiting for is for you, and many others like you, to leave off waiting for the time to be ripe, and to come and help ripen it. We shall get our new offices and our new journals, when we get the funds. We shall get the funds when we get the members. We shall get the rnembers when you leave off waiting, as I said just now, and start working. Then will follow, not merely new offices and journals, but, greater than all else, a new social system -Socialism. Join up!" WTH
"According to Tony Atkinson of Oxford University, the UK's leading expert on inequality, the top 1 per cent of the population now receive more of the nation's income than at any time since the 1930s.The Office for National Statistics reports that this group of 600,000 people doubled its wealth to £797bn in Labour's first six years. The share of national wealth taken by these super-rich has grown from 20 to 23 per cent, while the share of the poorest 50 per cent shrank from 10 per cent in 1986 to 5 per cent in 2002."
Monday, March 07, 2005
"We looked for his motive and we found he was displeased with the social reality." President Chen was slightly injured by a bullet as he campaigned in an open-top jeep in the southern city of Tainan. He went on to win re-election by a margin of less than 0.2%. Opposition supports say the shooting swung the vote in Mr Chen's favour.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
"My grandfather Tommy Douglas was the first socialist to come to power in North America. He introduced a provincial healthcare system in Saskatchewan, which was ultimately adopted as the federal healthcare system. Having grown up as part of that legacy, my choice to become an actor is quite selfish, really." Kiefer Sutherland, actor.
- Elsa Lanchester - Brilliant comic actress. Best known for her starring role in James Whales' Bride of Frankenstein, but also appeared in such other brilliant films as The Private Life of Henry VIII, Lassie Come Home and even had a bit part in one of my favourite films of all time - sorry Lassie - Sullivan's Travels. Why am I rambling on about her? 'Cos she was the daughter of Edith Lanchester, Social Democratic Federation Executive Committee member in the 1890s.*
- Angela Lansbury - Star of such brilliant films as Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Manchurian Candidate, she is best know for twee afternoon crime mystery drama, Murder She Wrote. The double mystery was how the show lasted so long on the schedules and how someone as decent as her Grandfather ever became leader of the Labour Party in the 1930s. (Cue the Ernest Bevin quote.)
- Gordon Warnecke - My Beautiful Laundrette star who wasn't Daniel Day Lewis, was the son of SPGB member Harry Warnecke. (Always said that the Party had the best critique of the phenomenon that was Thatcherism.) Just a shame that Gordon couldn't have done his old Dad a favour with a bit of product placement. A couple of back issues of the Socialist Standard on the table in the Laundrette would have done nicely. They would have looked nice on the big screen. He has since done his penance by going to that Actor's Hell, otherwise known as guest starring in The Bill.
- Saffron Burrows - Aye, I choked on my cornflakes one Sunday morning when I discovered from reading the paper that she was the daughter of a couple of SWP members, and that she herself was a supporter of the Respect Coalition. I kind of like that preconceived notions of lefties being disarmed by this information, though I still wouldn't give the SWP the steam off my tea.
How do I know this crap? To paraphrase Billy Bragg: "If you've got a Pub Quiz list, I want to be on it."
* From Ken Weller's brilliant 'Don't Be A Soldier: The Radical Anti-War Movement in North London 1914-1918' (Journeymen Press 1985): "Elsa Lanchester came from a radical background. Her mother Elsa Lanchester was a member of the Executive of the SDF in the 1890s, and became a cause celebre when she lived in a free union; her family committed her to a lunatic asylum in consequence. In 1918 Elsa had founded the Children's Theatre in Soho, which seems to have had strong radical connections. Elsa Lanchester was a member of the ILP after the War."
Saturday, March 05, 2005
"In the opening episode of 2003's Ali G in Da USAiii, for example, Baron Cohen outrages respectable US opinion by talking about the 'terrible events of 7/11'. On first hearing. this joke seems crassly obvious, but it also enables him to make a devastating satirical point in the space of five words. By mistaking the date of the attack on the World Trade Centre for the name of the grocery chain which pioneered late-night opening, he not only alludes to capitalism's capacity for making a fast buck out of unthinkable horror, but also to the ever-tightening global grip of the US military-capitalist complex which was instrumental in provoking that murderous attack in the first place." [My emphasis]