Thursday, May 31, 2007

Off To A Good . . .

Many pizza slices ago when I got the Normblog treatment, I took the opportunity to cite Pandagon as one of my three favourite blogs, so it's only in keeping that I give a special mention to their new offshoot.

Panda Songs is that mp3 blog that I've always wanted but never had the bandwidth or the tech know-how to get it beyond the 'wouldn't it be nice' nope, no Beach Boys tracks on the imagined blog, before you ask stage.

It gets an especial mention 'cos unlike the rest of America, Amanda Marcotte succumbed to the charms of The Jam, and she has chosen their 1980 classic, Start - the one with the ripped off bassline from 'Taxman' - as her latest post to the blog.

I know that it isn't a big deal on one side of the Atlantic that 'Start' is readily available as a free download, but I'm not on that side.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Coming To A Comment Box Near You

Somebody has been a busy bee in the last 24 hours. Spotted the duplicated comment above on at least fifteen 'left blogs' in the last day. I guess it beats blogging about Lindsay Lohan.

PS - It's still too hot to blog, btw.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Shit, I wish I'd thought of that Quote of the Day

"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Expropriate the fishing boat, and he and his community will eat for life."

Martin Schreader, SPUSA.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Swindonian Institute

I feel I've been amiss in not before now bringing to your attention a wonderful series of interviews on the official XTC MySpace page between XTC's lead singer, songsmith and all-round wit Andy Partridge and Todd Bernhardt, whereby - week on week - they discusses in-depth an individual song from the band's 25 year history.

From the obvious choices such as 'Dear God' or 'Making Plans for Nigel' to the obscure classics like 'Thanks For Christmas' and 'Wrapped In Grey', Andy and Todd go down a memory lane that takes them all the way from White Music in '78 right up to Wasp Star.

Admittedly, 75% of the archetypal interview has them waxing lyrical about "dub echoes in the middle section", and other such muso stuff that has my eyes glazing over but as the snippets alongside the links below indicate, there's enough room left over for Andy to dispense his sarcasm, intelligence and expert bullshit detector for all that's ridiculous and pompous about the music business and life in general.

Hand on heart, I'd have to say that I always preferred Colin Moulding's songs over Andy's but he's not the one putting himself out in such a glorious manner, is he?

If you haven't already done so, check out English Settlement and Skylarking in their entirety. They're bona fide classics.

  • 'Statue of Liberty' (White Music)
  • "But I was sat there, banging around these three chords, thinking, "If Lou [Reed] can do it, so can I!" And I remember she was ironing -- she used to love ironing for some reason, I don't know why -- and she got the ironing cable all tied up, and she was holding it in the air, sort of trying to let the cable unwind itself. And her hair was -- I don't know if she'd just washed it and it was all sticking all over the place, or whatever -- but I looked up, and I thought, "Jesus, she looks like a weird, futuristic version of the Statue of Liberty, holding this hot iron with her arm up in the air like that and a handful of washing in her other arm, like the book or something."
  • 'Science Friction' (Fossil Fuel)
  • "It was an arrogance, and a desire to get up the nose of the audience and make them work hard, make them think, make them listen. But sometimes I wish that we'd put a steady 4/4 all the way through it, and then we could have invented the B-52's along the way [laughs]."
  • 'Are You Receiving Me?' (Go 2)
  • "How the Catholics missed me, I do not know. I mean, I'm just a natural-born Catholic. I'm just loaded with guilt."
  • 'Battery Brides' (Go 2)
  • "Yeah, it was like The Young Ones, you know. We were living in this house . . . [I was] probably Neil, actually. No, no, Rick -- definitely. I'm too gauche and too full of himself. I think Terry was Viv -- [Viv voice] "Very metal!" Or Barry Andrews was Viv. Colin was Neil, I think. [chuckles]"
  • 'Making Plans for Nigel' (Drums and Wires)
  • "They went and found some Nigels in British Steel factories, and interviewed them, and of course they all said how fantastic their jobs were. I think they probably all lost their jobs within five years of saying that, though."
  • 'Helicopter' (Drums and Wires)
  • "Frank Hampson painted an ad for Lego in which there were two schoolboys with jetpacks on, flying over this Lego city -- in a Lego land, you know. And that image stuck in my brain, as a kid. Because, as a schoolboy, I thought, "Wow, that's going to be the future! We're going to have our own jetpacks -- our own helipacks -- to go to school or work, or holiday on Venus," you know. But of course it never ends up like that."
  • 'Respectable Street' (Black Sea)
  • "I used to stand in the front room, in the area where I used to do most of the writing -- it was a little space where I could lay out my amplifier and a cassette player and a microphone and a few effects, or whatever -- and I'd stand there looking out the window, and there was Bowood Road. I noticed that several of the houses had this very English thing: a caravan -- a trailer -- in the front garden. And I thought, "I've never seen those move! They must be like status symbols, telling people 'We could go away, if we choose to.' ""
  • 'Senses Working Overtime' (English Settlement)
  • "Speaking of being English, I like the crows on the song, too. We got them off some sound-effects record. I wanted it to be very English, and I thought, "What's the sound that you hear in your head when you think of the plowing medieval serf? The sound you're going to hear is the jingle of harnesses -- and crows cawing!" So, we had to get some crows. I think they're crows, anyway. Maybe some ornithologist out there will write in and say, "No, they're rooks, actually." But, to me, that was important to put the final full stop of the medieval thing we had going on there."
  • 'Jason and the Argonauts' (English Settlement)
  • "I think I never got over "Tales of Brave Ulysses," by Cream. I thought, "If they can do a song about Greek myth, then so can I!""
  • 'Snowman' (English Settlement)
  • "Actually, "Snowman" contains Dave's favorite lyrical couplet -- the phrase, "People will always be tempted to wipe their feet/On anything with welcome written on it." Dave told me one time, [imitates Gregory] "You know, Partsy, that's the best lyric you ever wrote.""
  • 'Love On A Farmboy's Wages' (Mummer)
  • "I'm obviously bitter about not getting the money I thought I ought to deserve or something. I look around, and I see people like Elvis Costello, or other contemporaries, and I think, "Jesus, they're so much richer than I am!" You know -- "I wrote songs as good as he did!" I can say that -- not facetiously or boastfully. I think I've written songs as good as Elvis."
  • 'Ladybird' (Mummer)
  • "I remember laying on the seat in the back of the van in a fetal position, sobbing quietly, not knowing who the hell I was."
  • 'Thanks For Christmas' (Rag & Bone Buffet)
  • "[effete voice] "But who is Andy thanking? Is it a loving God he's thanking?" That's the sort of stuff people would ask. No, I'm just saying thanks. Just thanks! You know, the same thing you thank when the shit comes out smooth, or when you find that public lavatory when you're really bursting! You just think, "Oh, thank you.""
  • 'All You Pretty Girls' (The Big Express)
  • "I also wanted to do one [video] where we were underwater with our instruments, in a swimming pool . . . And she said, "No no, you can't show electric instruments near water! Children will imitate you and they'll die." And then Madness did it, and everyone said, "Oh, isn't that great, where they're in the swimming pool?""
  • 'Season Cycle' (Skylarking)
  • "I have to say, we were invited up there [Todd Rungren's house] for [sighs] -- a solar barbeque . . . we were all starving hungry, and Todd had bought a solar barbeque. It was supposed to be sun-powered. And, you know, after we waited for two hours, all we had were some lukewarm steaks. [laughs] It was a case of, "Right, let's just go and get a pizza in town," you know. It was some sort of weird fucking hippy idea of [mellow voice] "Wow, it's really healthy, the sun cooks your meat." And you could have fried it better if you'd laid it on the bonnet of a black car!"
  • 'Dear God' (Skylarking)
  • "Though I thought those Dear God books -- you know, kids' letters to God -- were a pretty tacky concept, I liked the title. I liked the idea of writing to God to address the fact that I didn't believe he existed. I just wanted the thing to come back with an angelic stamp on it, saying "Return to Sender." Written in fiery letters!"
  • 'Little Lighthouse' (Psonic Psunspot)
  • "People often ask how I write songs, and I tell them, "Well, I might find a chord, and it might remind me of fog, and then I'll start going on about fog," but this is actually a case where I found the chords, and they did make me think of fog!"
  • 'Garden of Earthly Delights' (Oranges and Lemons)
  • "You know the sound that introduces the song? People must of thought, "Oh they spent hours in the studio putting together a melange of Eastern sounds." No, it was [laughs] a patch that [producer] Paul Fox had on a keyboard, and it was called something like "Eastern Bazaar"!"
  • 'The Mayor of Simpleton' (Oranges and Lemons)
  • "Yeah, Scientologists eat babies -- you heard it here first."
  • 'Merely a Man' (Oranges and Lemons)
  • "There is a ZZ Top connection, because on our way to a gig once, in the early days, our manager and his assistant were following us to a gig. We pulled over into a motorway services to get some greasy-spoon food, and I remember he gathered us all around the table, and he said, "You don't have a strong enough image, chaps. We've been thinking about people with a strong image, like ZZ Top and David Bowie." He mentioned a couple more, and announced they'd come up with this thing where we were to come on stage in cowboy hats, like ZZ Top, but with a lightning flash across our faces and some kind of sequined posing pouch! I mean, we would have looked like the four kings of assholes if we'd have come on stage dressed like that."
  • 'The Ballad of Pumpkinhead' (Nonsuch)
  • " . . . what would happen if there was somebody on Earth who was kind of perfect?" I just started to extrapolate on that idea, and really mess around with it in a kind of Dylanesque way. I thought, "Why don't I come up with 'The Ballad of' -- the ballad of somebody who's pretty much perfect?" And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "god, they'd make so many enemies!" You know, if they really encouraged humanity and humaneness and love and sharing and giving, they would really piss off so many people in power, that those people in power would do everything they could to stop them, including killing them!"
  • 'Wrapped in Grey' (Nonsuch)
  • [Kate Bush] "did one poxy tour, for Christ's sake, around England! And then that was it -- no more. We toured our asses off around the world for five years, got sick and tired of it, and then we were not allowed not to tour. You know -- "What's the matter with you? Keep going!""
  • 'I'd Like That' (Apple Venus Volume 1)
  • "Paul is probably my favorite, because after about 1965 I think he was the powerhouse behind the band, whereas Lennon seemed to give up. I think you can see that arc -- Lennon is pushing, pushing, pushing until the Beatles are a real big hit, and then he sort of gives up, and kind of hands over the reigns to McCartney."
  • 'Harvest Festival' (Apple Venus Volume 1)
  • "When the acoustic guitar joins in on verse 2, all the way through recording that and mixing it, [producer and engineer] Nick Davis would turn to me and say, "That's the Beatle moment." He would say that every time! [laughing] It got to the point where the guitar would come in, and I'd just look at him, and we wouldn't say anything, but I knew he was thinking "That's the Beatle moment.""
  • 'Stupidly Happy' (Wasp Star: Apple Venus, Volume 2)
  • "I'd forgotten this! McDonald's wanted to use it!"
  • 'We're All Light' (Wasp Star: Apple Venus, Volume 2)
  • "But the actual idea for this song sprang from just scrubbing away on the guitar, in a very high, George Formby-esque way. [laughs] George Formby, for those who don't know, was a huge star in England in the '20s, '30s, and '40s. He played a banjolele, a four-stringed tiny banjo, and he sang these very risque songs. In fact, he was banned by the BBC because some of them were so risque."


    It doesn't merit 50 words never mind the seemingly 5000 words from Istanbul two years ago.

    A flat performance from Liverpool, where they did not even deserve Kuyt's consolation goal. Benitez's timidity was the name of the game, and only begs the question: Harry Kewell, why?

    The one high point for me was the sight of Steve Nicol as a panellist on ESPN at half-time. It was obvious he was seriously pissed by Inzaghi's deflected goal just before half time, and didn't hide his true colours when discussing the matter. It was funny also to see him as this respected figure on American Sports TV discussing soccer football, when I remember him as a brilliant utility player for Liverpool in the 80 and 90ss, but someone who was never considered the brightest spark on the block. (An anecdote about a wired up broken jaw and liquidised fish and chips seems to spring to mind.)

    Greek Myths

    Is Paolo Maldini still considered a hearthrob?

    Maybe it's just me but he has something of the Klaus Kinskis about him.

    Wish this game would hurry up and start or next I'll be claiming there's a resemblance between Rino Gattuso and Harry H. Corbett's mate from 'Carry On Screaming'.

    Angst about Athens

    Does a team that has Jermaine Pennant and Bobo Zenden in its first eleven deserve to win the Champions League?

    If I can get a late cancellation at JFK, perhaps Benitez will put me on the bench?

    Istanbul, Athens and a Jeffrey Daniel Impersonation

    Kaka versus Mascherano . . . Gerrard versus Gattuso . . . Harry Kewell wearing an alice band.

    All burning topics of debate for tonight's final - which of course will be a damp squib of a match after all the build up and the recent past history between the two clubs in this competition - but the real burning question is not even the small matter of which side of Glasgow claims the greater glory tonight if Milan win: R*ngers for the Gattuso connection or Celtic, 'cos of Milan hammering them one-zero in the last 16 of the competition?

    Nope, the question I'm asking myself is whether or not I can do a repeat of this stream of consciousness if the final measures up to even half the drama of that crazy night in Istanbul two years ago:

    Solipcism and Scousers

    Those days of the 5000 word posts on the blog are long gone. Thank you You Tube for intervening before the RSI became too much.

    With regards to who is going to win tonight?: My head says Milan 'cos of Kaka and Seedorf, but my heart says Liverpool because of Scully and the off-chance that Peter Crouch will do his robotic dance again if he scores tonight.

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Private Message

    Derby County to beat West Brom in the play off final . . . maybe.

    Don't Cry*

    If it's meant as political commentary, it's more 'Belfast Child' era Simple Minds than Hendrix's 'Star Spangled Banner'. If it's meant as a joke, it's more Bad News than Spinal Tap, but the Chinese heavy metal band, Tang Dynasty', knock Billy Bragg** off the top stop for the worse updated version of workers' classic, 'The Internationale'.

    Still, they're better than Van Halen, I guess.

    Hat tip to Wis[s]e Words blog place for jotting down random thoughts.

    *Guns 'N' Roses

    **In fairness to the Bard of Barking, his and Dick Gaughan's version of 'The Red Flag', which happens to be on the same album where he does a musical Krondstadt on Eugène Edine Pottier classic, is one of my all time favourite songs.

    Saturday, May 19, 2007

    One Day In September . . . (possibly a couple)

    Maybe with the last post and a few others, I've been a bit harsh on West Ham (as I'm doing partial penance, I'll also throw in this, this, and this to be taken into consideration), but they really did get on my goat this year. (No jokes about Dynamo Tirana, please. The timing is all wrong.)

    A Premier League investigation panel's - misled by Scudamore - refusal to dock them points, and West Ham's ready acceptance to accept the five and half million pound fine without seeking to appeal against the financial penalty all point to the fact that they got preferential treatment over their murky transfers dealings involving Tevez and Mascherano. If it had been Sheffield Utd or Wigan in the same set of circumstances, they would have been slaughtered.

    At a bare minimum, West Ham should have been docked the three points plus a fine, and it was those precious three points that were all that was needed to relegate them to the are they calling it Premiership B, yet? Championship. Throw in that dodgy winning goal that never was by Zamora against Blackburn at Ewood Park with the fact that they signed the relegation king Nigel Quashie mid-season, and their supporters should have been singing that old hammers classic 'Marco Boogers Wonderland' on their winter travels to Glanford Park and their local derby with Colchester United next season.

    However, I've decided to lay off West Ham for a bit 'cos I just discovered what may be the little known fact that September 1st 1904 is a shared date in the annals of history for both the SPGB and the Hammers.

    Spotted this on the West Ham wiki page:

    "Funded through local collections, sponsorship and breweries the club [West Ham] eventually constructed a 20,000 capacity stadium with 2000 seats. The stadium was eventually named The Boleyn Ground (in honour of being constructed upon the grounds of a former residence of Anne Boleyn, Green Street House) it is, however, generally known as Upton Park in popular media. Their first game in their new home was against local rivals Millwall F.C. (themselves an Ironworks team, albeit for a rival company) drawing a crowd of 10,000 and with West Ham running out 3-0 winners, and as the Daily Mirror wrote on September 2, 1904:

    "Favoured by the weather turning fine after heavy rains of the morning, West Ham United began their season most auspiciously yesterday evening; when they beat Milwall by 3 goals to 0 on their new enclosure at Upton Park."

    The report dates the match September 1st, which - hedging my bets here - was in all probability the same day that the first issue of the Socialist Standard appeared.

    I wonder if they overlapped in any way? Paper sales outside the ground; impromptu propaganda meetings by the bovril stand at half time, where the Party speakers would denounce football in general as the modern opium of the masses, and West Ham in particular for employing a 1-2-7 formation (a formation revived by Ossie Ardiles ninety years later when he managed Tottenham Hotspur). In its very early days the Party had Branches in parts of East London such as West Ham, Stratford, Stepney, and further out, Romford. They would also organise outdoor public meetings in places such as Barking, East Ham and Whitechapel.

    Christ, now that I think about it; it puts a whole new perspective on the W.B of Upton Park controversy that still divides Party members and supporters to this day. Surely it wasn't this 'W.B' of that 'Upton Park' ? I knew he was long in the tooth but I thought that back in 1910 he was still at Charlton Athletic?

    I feel another whimsical 'Football & Socialism' post coming on.

    Do They Mean Us? #8

    "stupid trotsky-fascists"
    The above two word reply* to little old me posting this piece on the unofficial Socialist Standard page reminded me that I hadn't updated the 'Do They Mean Us?' series on the blog for a while.

    I remember reading the following choice quote in the seventieth anniversary issue of the Socialist Standard in the mid-eighties.** Considered such a badge of honour for the Party, the denunciation was reprinted in the June 2004 special commemorative issue of the Socialist Standard and I bet a Party historian could point to seven or eight other occasions when the quote has been lovingly put in bold within the pages of the SPGB press. Nothing like being noticed:

    “The Communist Party has NO dealings with murderers, liars, renegades, or assassins. The SPGB, which associates itself with followers of Trotsky, the friend of Hess, has always followed a policy which would mean disaster for the British working class. They have consistently poured vile slanders on Joseph Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, told filthy lies about the Red Army, the Soviet people and its leaders, gloated over the assassination of Kirov and other Soviet leaders, applauded the wrecking activities of Trotskyist saboteurs in the Soviet Union. They have worked to split the British working class, and are in short agents of Fascism in Great Britain. The CPGB refuses with disgust to deal with such renegades. We treat them as vipers, to be destroyed”.(Letter from Secretary of the West Ham branch of the Communist Party, 23 February 1943, reproduced in Socialist Standard, May 1943).

    Jeez, that bloke on MySpace is an amateur. That's how you denounce somebody; And some pundits will still try and insist that political debate has plummeted into the gutter since the ascendancy of political blogging?

    I love the fact that it's the secretary of the West Ham branch of the old CPGB who is bursting a bloodvessel. So much for the myth of the cheery, chirpy cockneys. West Ham fans were frothing at the mouth even back then. No ICF . . . No Alf Garnett . . . and No Calum Davenport playing like a ricket in defence, and yet the Upton Park faithful were still one hammer short of a tool box.

    *In fairness to the bloke, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. From looking at his MySpace profile, I think he takes pleasure in being a political wind-up merchant. I can identify with that.

    **In the mid-eighties, when you enquired for more information from the SPGB, they were prone to sending people back issues of the Socialist Standard from ten years before. Test the rule: if you hurry quick, you might strike lucky and get the special June 1994 Euro-Election issue of the Socialist Standard. I sold mines for seven kopecks on Ebay about three months ago. It's a collector's item.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Chairman Brown

    Possibilist Bill has been getting literature from what look's like the Mormons through his letterbox. Who'd have thunk that Mitt Romney's campaign would have extended geographically that far?

    It's Bill's own fault if he will keep that sort of company.

    On a slightly more serious note: who'd have thought that with the coronation of a bloke who wrote his PhD on Jimmy Maxton, and who was the editor of the 'Red Paper of Scotland' anthology in the mid-seventies, we would see the final death knell of Old Labour?

    OK, I'm exaggerating for blogging effect - just woke from the strangest bastardish dream - but I will stand by what I always insisted: now that Blair has finally picked up the cheque from that dinner date from 13 years ago, we have the closing chapter on what has been - in terms of personnel - the most left-wing Labour Government in history.

    If you don't believe me, check out Richard Heffernan and Mike Marqusee's 1992 classic 'Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Inside Kinnock's Labour Party' out from your local library.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Whinge of the Day

    'These times demands the New York Times' is the ad slogan on every other bus or yellow cab in New York. A snappy wee ad line* for an oh so smug newspaper.

    I'd like to borrow - and paraphrase - the slogan just for a moment: 'These times demands that the Labour Left Briefing webmaster gets his or her arse in gear' and gets their bloody website into shape.

    I know, I know - my copywriting skills need a bit of work.

    With their chap possibly challenging Brown for the Labour Party leadership - less David and Goliath, more a case of Arbroath versus Bon Accord circa 1885 - their moment in the sun has finally arrived, and yet it looks like that their website** is one step above a geocities site that has been knocked together in the time it takes to draw up a composite resolution at a local GMC meeting.

    I thought it was us ultra-lefties who were supposed to be the dilettantish amateurs?

    *The radical New York free paper, The Indypendent, recently took the New York Times to task for the smugness and doubletalk of its advertising slogan.

    **Yep, I know that John McDonnell's own website, John4leader, is much more easy on the eye, but no excuse should be necessary to poke the LLB bods with a sharpened stick. They've got it coming for that awful excuse of a website.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    The SPGB on

    Mike S. in Japan (and others) have been doing sterling work in raising the presence of the SPGB on the Marxist Internet Archive. You should repay his hard work by checking out the pages:
  • Jack Fitzgerald Archive
  • Edgar Hardcastle Archive
  • I can't wait to pop my clogs so they can place this blog in the SPGB section of the Marxist Internet Archive. Never mind the notion that I can't wait: the working class can't wait.

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Football Daft

    1). Courtesy of from Alan J. at Mailstrom blog, news reaches me of Sharlene Lyons decision to name her new born baby Emily Lisbon Lyons, in commemoration of this little incident that happened in a green field in Portugal 40 years ago.

    I'm sure Alan J. passed me on the link in an ironic 'Isn't she bloody daft?' sort of way, but as self-denying Jam Tart he would, wouldn't he?

    A couple of years ago a die hard Hearts fan, Shona McGluffer, tried to do something similar to commemorate the Jam Tarts great 1985 cup-winning triumph, but the registrar on the day refused to allow her to name her daughter Tennents' Sixes Cup McGluffer. True story. Google it.

    It's just sour grapes on Alan's part.

    2). Cracking article on the German footie team, Schalke 04, in today's Guardian Sportblog by Anna Kessel.

    For some reason when I hear Schalke 04, I immediately think of Uli Stielike. No idea why, as he didn't even play for Schalke 04 at any point in his career.

    In amongst the news of how it looks like Schalke have blown the chance of winning the Bundesliga for the first time since the late fifties, cos they've choked in their last few matches, is the story of how they are seen by many as the German equivalent of Newcastle Utd - does their choking have echoes of Newcastle in 95/96? - 'cos of their passionate long suffering support in an area rooted in heavy industry and now beset by economic hard times.

    I especially loved this story from early on in the season:

    "Such is the power of the supporters they even make it into the dressing room. Last November, fans penned an open letter to the team calling for more passion on the pitch. With Schalke, it does not matter if you win or lose, you just have to try. Coach Mirko Slomka read the letter to his players. At the next home game, against Bayern Munich, as if to underline their point, the fans refused to cheer for the first 19 minutes and four seconds of the game (1904, the year Schalke started). Peter Lovenkrands put Schalke ahead and was met by silence. As the clock crept towards 19 minutes a slow clap began. Around the stadium it grew in volume. Just as the protest neared its end a roar began and Leban Kobiashvili took possession of the ball and lashed it into the top corner for a second goal. The stadium erupted. Schalke fans say they still get goosebumps thinking about it. At the players' request, the team appeared on the pitch holding a message for the fans. It read: 'We are Schalke, we are passion.' But there is fan culture and then there is cold hard cash. And this year Schalke came into an unprecedented amount of money."

    I can totally identify with that creative form of protest as the SPGB was also formed in 1904, and I would indicate my contempt for Party democracy by sometimes turning up twenty minutes late for branch meetings. It had the desired effect: I missed the call for nominatons for chairing the meeting.

    3). I always had a soft spot for the Hammers. It goes back 25 years when they had great players like Alan Devonshire, Phil Parkes, Trevor Brooking and Ray Stewart. Christ I even liked Geoff Pike and David Cross.

    Tevez has been a revelation in recent weeks, and it's good that local boys such as Bobby Zamora and Mark Noble have come good. I'm a sentimentalist like that. However, for all that, and though I know in all probability it won't happen, I still hope they get relegated from the Premiership today.

    It was an absolute disgrace that they escaped with only a fine over the dodgy transfers of Tevez and Mascherano earlier this season. I totally understand that the other clubs in and around the bottom of the Premiership feel that they have been shafted, and whatever bile I reserve for that prick, Dave Whelan, Paul Jewell and Wigan deserve better.

    Fingers crossed that Fergie and United have long memories, and give West Ham a spanking for that deciding game at Upton Park back in '95, and that Wigan get a result at Bramhall Lane against Sheffield Utd.

    4). Fool that I am, I still scan the sports section of the New York Times for stories about football . . . any football . . . I'd even read a 2000 word essay on the wit and wisdom of Mo Johnson if that was the only thing on offer, but it turns out that after all this time that I was looking in the wrong section of the New York Times. The Travel Section of the NYT has a piece by Henry Fountain about him and his son taking in a couple of 'soccer' games in recent weeks in England.

    From Roots Hall to the Emirates in twenty paragraphs: Do not not pass go, do not pick up a battered sausage and a pickled onion at a fish and chip 'joint' on the way.

    Counting Backwards*

  • Sunday, April 15th 2007. KGB Bar, East Village. Mark McNay and Alison Miller: New Writing
  • Saturday, April 14th 2007. Judson Memorial Church, Greenwich Village. New York Anarchist Bookfair
  • Thursday, April 12th 2007. Roseland Ballroom, 52nd Street. Kaiser Chiefs & The Walkmen
  • Wednesday, April 11th 2007. New York Public Library, 53rd Street Allan Guthrie, Denise Mina & Ian Rankin: Tartan Noir
  • Wednesday, April 4th 2007. Bowery Ballroom, Lower East Side Sons and Daughters, 1990s & Nicole Atkins & The Sea
  • *Throwing Muses

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    TV Dinners

    Picture the scene: a cold windswept garret in Brooklyn, trying to negotiate ever-increasing lukewarm mouthfuls of Chef Boyarde* on toast whilst watching re-runs of Murder She Wrote on TNT.

    But that's enough about my Saturday night last week: check out the latest post from the Gourmet Peasant blog, for a course by course report of Kara and her friend Maddy gorging themselves at the fanch schmancy restaurant, Aliseo Osteria del Borgo, in Brooklyn, on the self-same Saturday night.

    You can scroll down the post for a picture of Kara enjoying the banquet feast. She's so happy in the picture 'cos she'd just taken a phone call from me where I informed her that I'd just tivo'ed an episode of Murder She Wrote that she hadn't seen before.

    *For my British readers, 'Chef Boyarde' is the American equivalent of Spaghetti Hoops.

    Mix 'n' Match

    Vauxhall Road . . . Trevor Hebberd . . . FA Cup . . . Paul Walsh . . . Watford . . . Portsmouth . . . Match of the Day.

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Jesus H.

    You have to watch it till the titles at the very end. Turns out there is a higher calling than god. (The hat tip is in the link.)

    Talk About The Passion*

    For the bolded quote alone, an article worth checking out:
    "Valdano is equally forthright when he accuses Liverpool fans of being complicit in this vandalism of the game. "Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion - and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable," he continued. "Put a shit hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it's a work of art. It's not: it's a shit hanging from a stick."

    The Guardian Sportsblog takes up the debate.

    *After many years of denial, I'm getting back into R.E.M. Early R.E.M

    A day late, a hundred years on

    One of the most interesting bloggers on the block, Charlie Pottins, has a post marking the hundredth anniversary of the Belfast 1907 strike led by Jim Larkin.

    Sunday, May 06, 2007

    Fessin' Up Time

    First time I ever came across the brilliant cartoons that make up Calvin and Hobbes was in an issue of the old council communist/autonomist zine 'Proletarian Gob'*. For three months after the event I was walking around thinking that the bloke behind 'Proletarian Gob' was a fucking genius, until one day I walked into a branch of Waterstones bookshop, and saw that there was this bloke called Bill Waterson who was the genius.

    The image is nicked from here. Beg, borrow or recycle. I have no shame.

    *The ultra-leftist trainspotters among you please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure that 'Proletarian Gob' was a zine produced out of Berkshire by a bloke who was also associated with the new defunct group Subversion. I think it may also be the same bloke who wrote this critique of the SPGB a couple of years back.

    Friday, May 04, 2007

    Scottish Elections 2007 - Ouch

    The figure to note is the 10,759 votes for the Green Party, which ensured that Patrick Harvie was re-elected to the Scottish Parliament. Now add up the votes for the SSP and Solidarity:

    Solidarity - 8,544 votes
    SSP - 2,579 votes

    Total - 11,123 votes

    That's a sore yin. Curious to see what Sheridan's next move is . . . after the denunciations and recriminations that is.

    Daft as it sounds, despite Solidarity outpolling the SSP by nearly 6000 votes in Glasgow, I think the latter has more of a future as a going concern than the shotgun wedding of Sheridan, the Swuppies and the Millies.

    The usual suspects on the blogs, messageboards and the yahoo discussion groups will make for interesting reading in the coming weeks.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Bill Maher + mustard = funniest joke of the year

    As per usual, Bill Maher is on top form with his New Rules on last week's Real Time With Bill Maher, but 1 minute 24 seconds into the clip below he excelled himself with the funniest joke of the year. Maybe it's just in the telling, or maybe I just have a weirded out sense of humour but I never thought I could laugh so much.

    Fear and Loathing in Capitalism - Redux

    Socialist Party Day School
    Fear & Loathing in Capitalism
    When: Saturday May 12, 2007 at 1:00pm
    Where: Community Central Halls 304 Maryhill Road, Glasgow, G207YE
    Day School organised by Glasgow and Edinburgh branches of the SPGB
    Asbos, terrorists and immigrants.

    1pm - 2.15pm Asbos, Chavs and Hoodies: crime under capitalism.

    The newspapers and television constantly set out to frighten us with tales of hooliganism, anti-social behaviour and crime in general. In this session we attempt to evaluate the various claims and counter claims about the cause and cure of crime in modern society. Brian Gardner (Glasgow branch) puts forward the unique socialist analysis and contrast it with the "hang 'em, flog 'em" school of thought.

    2.15- 3.30pm Seeking Asylum: should we be concerned about immigration?

    In France Le Pen puts forward a repressive "solution", in this country Cameron and Brown have voiced their views, but capitalism needs immigration and Paul Bennett (Manchester branch) looks at the problem from a socialist viewpoint. Inside a socialist society there would be no "them and us" attitude. The whole world would be owned by the whole world population, in such a society concepts such as "asylum" would be impossible.

    3.45 - 5pm Panic on the streets of London: how real is the terrorist threat?

    The explosions on the London Underground were real enough, as were some recent failed attempts at bombing there, but has recent government reaction been justified? Gwynn Thomas (South London) look at current attitudes to this problem and contrast the socialist view with those of our political opponents. Capitalism is a society based on threats and counter-threats. Only world-wide socialism can solve the problem.

    Each session will have a 30 minute talk, the rest of the time will be taken up with your questions and points of view. Admission is free and tea, coffee and light refreshments will be made available free of charge throughout the afternoon.

    Community Central Halls, 304 Maryhill Road, Glasgow.

    For more information about the Socialist Party Branches organizing this Day School, please visit their websites: Glasgow Branch Edinburgh Branch

    Personal Endorsement

    Apparently there are elections taking place today in Britain.

    What with my innate "sectarian . . . lumpen, apolitical . . . self-disenfranchised" self, I don't have much of a take on the matter - my inner psephologist geek says otherwise - except:

  • Put it down to little more than ultra-leftoid sectarianism, but I'd love it if Sheridan got a sour coupon face at some point later tonight. If, for nothing else, for this exercise in maniacal self-aggrandisement. Never was the term 'you tube' so appropriately employed.
    Peter Mullan . . . you let me down, man.
  • For personal as much as political reasons, I hope that the SPGB candidate, John Bissett, gets a good vote in the Monkton ward in the local South Tyneside council election tonight. John's one of the best there is. An absolute diamond of a bloke.
    For a (very personalised) account of his election campaign, you can check out his personal blog. Not sure if Will Makem had a role in writing the election commentary, but it's safe to say that it falls into the category of 'unparliamentary language'.
  • What's My Name

    Quick one.

    One of the best political novels I've read in recent years is 'Standing Fast' by Harvey Swados. I write in 'recent years' only in the sense that it's one of the best political novels I've read in recent years, but the novel itself was published way back in 1970 and has unfortunately long been out of print and, sadly, Swados has long been out of literary fashion*, with only this book of his currently in print.

    I could crank out a few hundred words of sawdust prose in praise of the book, and why you should seek out a second hand copy for yourself, but it's easier all round if I just point you in the direction of Steve Cohen's excellent article on the novel**, which originally appeared in the AWL's paper, Solidarity, and which prompted me to seek the novel out for myself.

    As is my fashion when I stumble across a writer I like, I've since went on a treasure hunt to locate his or her others writings, and recently bought a second hand copy of Swados's debut novel, 'Out Went the Candle', from a bookseller in Washington. Nice hardback edition with a dust jacket that is just about still in one piece. Thing is, is just me or does the young Harvey Swados in the dustjacket picture below remind you of someone? Christ, it's the same haircut and everything.

    The clue is in the title of the post.

    * I wrote: "Swados has long been out of literary fashion . . ", but sadly it appears that was always the case: "Harvey was an unfashionable novelist yet his career has been an exemplary one. He is a writer free of public postures, indifferent to literary fads, and totally devoted to perfection of his craft." [Irving Howe]

    **As a sidenote; one night coming home from work I was reading the novel on the F train when a bloke came up to me to talk about the book. He hadn't seen a copy in years, but it was a book he knew from his childhood days as it had been on his parents bookshelf. His way of telling me that they were political was to say that they had been in the 'movement'. I thought that was sweet.


    The old Terry Wogan tv show . . . . the Cold War Kids have just played their latest single, and then immediately launch into the old Dennis Waterman classic 'I Could Be So Good For' . . . from the side of the stage Bono comes on to share lead vocals with the bum face guy from the Cold War Kids, whilst the tv cameras pan to the side of the stage to show the rest of U2 dancing along to the impromptu cover version . . . Larry Mullen dances like a "groovy rhino".

    No, I don't know what it fucking means either.

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007


    Kop that.

    Word of the Day


    1. Merely mechanical; routine: "a sensitive, self-conscious creature . . . in sad revolt against uncongenially banausic employment" London Magazine.

    2. Of or relating to a mechanic.

    3.Self-important; pretentious; Lenny.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    May 2007 Socialist Standard - All Capitalists Now?


  • Scottish Nationalism
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Crystal Ball Gazing
  • Cooking the Books #1 Underlying Cause
  • Cooking the Books #2 Just A Yellow Metal
  • Greasy Pole Hazel Blears – nuts in May?
  • 50 Years Ago Should Irish workers support the I.R.A.?
  • Main Articles

  • Forever Blowing Bubbles Those attracted by the ‘buy-to-let’ bonanza, turning themselves into mini-rentiers in a bid to escape wage slavery forever, are likely to get their fingers burnt.
  • William Wilberforce was no saint Wilberforce was opposed to slavery, but what were his views on wage slavery?
  • The anti-war Right The US anarcho-capitalist Libertarians are wrong to think that capitalism could exist without a state or that its competitive struggle for profits does not lead to wars.
  • It’s a bloody crime – or is it? “The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business” (Clarence Darrow).
  • The Military are not that Unintelligent Military planners can’t afford to be stupid - as a recent MOD publication shows.
  • China: primitive accumulation of capital During the last quarter of a century millions of Chinese peasants have migrated to the cities. But has life improved for them?
  • Letters, Obituary, Reviews & Meetings

  • Letters to the Editors 'Racism' & 'Climate Change'
  • Obituary Pieter Lawrence
  • Book Reviews London Hanged by Peter Linebaugh & Inventing Disease and Pushing Pills by Jürg Blech
  • Meetings Glasgow, Birmingham, London & East Anglia.
  • Voice From The Back

  • How the Other Tenth Live; Primitive Accumulation of Capital; Mind the Gap; Escape (I); Escape (II); Getting Things Done
  • May Day - a link or three

    Happy May Day, and all that. The day when workers (should be) celebrating their strength as a class, and when Liverpool (should be) dumping Chelski out of the Champions League. A couple of links to throw your way:
  • May the First - Workers Day Alan J. does the honours at his Mailstrom blog with a reprinting of this piece on May Day from the Socialist Standard from a few years back. Still relevant . . . and then some.
  • Rosa Luxemburg's 'What are the Origins of the First of May?' Rosa Luxemburg: still relevant . . . and then some.
  • Mondo MayDay 2007 Larry states that his blog carries: "The most complete preview of MayDay 2007 worldwide anywhere on the web". And who am I to argue?
  • World Socialist Party May Day Statement - May Day 2007 Shamelessly nicked from the WSPUS MySpace page.
  • Wofür? Der Text eines Flugblatts anläßlich des 1. Mai 2007 Two years of being a smart alec - who always came bottom in the exams - and all round pain in the arse to Ms Allen means that I can't read this May Day statement. However, I have to give it a plug nonetheless, as it is penned by Norbert, a good comrade from Frankfurt who has set up a German language blog promoting the politics of the WSM and the IWW.
  • And before I forget, I have to agree with Matt that it's nice to see Socialist Courier blog carrying an image to mark May Day that is not more outdated than Alan J.'s record collection.

    And don't forget, May 1st is also International Shalamar Day. So be sure to sit back and listen to this plastic piece of genius, whilst singing the praises of Howard, Jody, Jeffrey and the International Working Class.