Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Taking the mickey out of mackey in aisle 5

Funny and inventive action at a Whole Foods in Oakland by the Brass Liberation Orchestra against the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, who has spoken out against the mild reform of universal healthcare in the United States. Always nice when hippy or new agey capitalism comes under scrutiny.

More info about the shennanigans here.

Operation Hey Mackey! - Whole Foods, Oakland from Jamie LeJeune on Vimeo.

However, I do feel sorry for the wee boy looking on in the shopping cart. He's far too young to find out the unenviable truth that radicals have no rhythm.

Blink and you'll miss it

If they ever do make a biopic of the England 1966 World Cup winning team, then surely Rhys Ifans is a shoe in for the role of Alan Ball?

Granted, he'll have to master the squeaky voice; they'll have to dye his hair ginger - or maybe Rhys is hiding a secret, and will just let his natural hair colour shine through?; and they'll have to amputate a few inches from his legs to ensure he fits the part but if you're method actor, then there's no half measures if you want to be nominated for Best Actor in the end of year Nuts magazine movie poll.

*This post has been brought to you whilst listening to Selecter's 'Three Minute Hero', so I don't have time to cast the rest of the England team but surely Shia LaBeouf would be a shoe-in for Argentina's Antonio Rattin?*

Sunday, September 27, 2009

McCourt goes marching straight through the Saints

It looks like McCourt's goal against Falkirk in the cup midweek was no fluke.

The commentator may be right about St Mirren's "powder puff defending" but it was no more weak or ineffectual than the Brazilians against John Barnes all those years ago in the Maracana or the Belgium defence falling like ninepins against Al Owairan at the 1994 World Cup. It's just a case of the stage being a wee bit on the smaller scale.

It's Rapid Vienna on Thursday and R*ngers at Ibrox next Sunday in the lunchtime kick off.

On that sort of form displayed by McCourt, Mowbray has to give him his chance in at least one of the games. The obvious would be against Rapid Vienna at Parkhead but it'd be a nice surprise if Mowbray went all out and employed him on the Sunday at Ibrox. The game will be the usual fast and the bloody furious, so someone with McCourt's guile and skill can only prosper in such an environment with the headless chickens in the blue jerseys running around in circles hacking away at all and sundry. The freekicks he'd win in and around the box would set up Maloney perfectly for the perfect away smash and grab.

Watch this blog as I eat my words next Sunday afternoon.

From me trying to convince myself we have a future Celtic legend in the making to footage of the Celtic legend of the last twenty years still doing the business at the age of 38 for Helsingborgs IF against AIK Stockholm a couple of days ago.

The bloke's still got it in abundance. That abundance should still be on display at Parkhead.

Hat tip to 101 Goals website for both clips. It's the first place to go to on the net if you want 45 second clips of Chilean football with Cantonese commentary.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Joe College by Tom Perrotta (St Martin's Griffin 2000)

Only Howard Friedlin seemed oblivious to the now-public drama of my love life. He was too busy glowering at the copy of Reality he'd unearthed from the bottom of the coffee-table pile.
"What about Max?" Mrs. Friedlin asked. "Does he have a girlfriend too?"
Before I could answer, Mr. Friedlin raised the magazine like a kindergartner at show-and-tell. He tapped his index finger against the cover photo of the mangy constipated dog, hunched and grimacing.
"What the hell is this?" he demanded.
"A literary magazine," Sang replied cheerfully. "Danny here is one of the editors."
Mr. Friedlin gave me a look of incomprehension worthy of my own father.
"Did you intend it as some kind of statement?" He pronounced his last word with genuine distaste, as if we all knew about statements.
"It is what it is," I informed him, grinning like an idiot. I felt positively giddy. Polly wanted to sleep with me. She'd said so over the phone. "It's just reality."
"Why don't you just photograph some dog shit?" he asked. "That's part of reality, too."
"They're saving that for the spring issue," Ted explained helpfully.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trust (1990)

Touring down the middle of the park

Nearly a year to the day after this minor post, it's nice to see McCourt score this gem (46 seconds into the clip) for Celtic against Falkirk last night in the cup:

Btw, it's worthwhile checking out that Mail article linked to in the older post.

Not just because of the pleasing possibility of a 'might have been will soon become' aspect to the story but because it's mentioned in passing that West Brom, then managed by Tony Mowbray, were poised to sign him before he joined Celtic and Peter Grant is quoted all over the piece as someone who really rated McCourt.

Grant's now First Team coach at Celtic.

It looks like McCourt will got a decent chance of getting *cough* a chance in the first team, and that's not something that could always be said for squad players under Strachan's regime.

PS - With regards to that YouTube clip, what's with the included snippet of Grant at the post-match press conference talking about the seriousness of McGeady's injury? Out of sync or just dubbed? Are people from Bellshill really that difficult to comprehend. I guess it could explain Sheena Easton's mid-atlantic monstrosity of an accent.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Remembering Irving Kristol

A comment from 'stinker murdoch' in response to Dave Osler's post on the recently deceased Irving Kristol has to be marked down as my favourite anecdote of the day:

"Getting back to Kristol, I am reminded of the story of how he was chatting with a journalist about how when his son Bill needed to get into Harvard he picked up the phone and dialled a few contacts, and when Bill wanted to do postgrad work he did the same, and when Bill wanted to work for the Republican National Committee he did the same, and when Bill wanted to work for a neocon think tank he did the same, and when Bill fancied doing some journalism he did the same. The conversation then turned to affirmative action, and Irving revealed he was opposed to it because it was "damaging to meritocracy".

Comedians (1979)

Baked crow in London Town

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 117

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 117th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1524 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • The Battle of the Somme
  • Democracy as a way of life
  • Stepping stones to nowhere
  • Coming Events:


    Manchester Branch

    Monday 28 September, 8.30 pm.

    Unicorn, Church Street, Manchester City Centre

    Radical Film Forum,

    Sundays 6pm - 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN.

    1st November - The Fog of War

    15th November - Matewan

    29th November - Sicko

    13th December - Earthlings

    Quote for the week:

    "It is a tribute to the humanity of ordinary people that horrible acts must be camouflaged in a thicket of deceptive words like "security," "peace," "freedom," "democracy," the "national interest" in order to justify them." Howard Zinn, On War, 2001.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Hugh Laurie is not our precedent

    The sixth season of House starts tonight on Fox and I'm glad to note from the photograph below that's it's not just me who is all fatigued out by its formulaic storylines and the cardboard curmudgeonry of Dr Gregory House, as played by Old Etonian, Hugh Laurie. (FFS, Old Etonians, wherever I look they're popping up everywhere. If they didn't already lay claim to it, I'd argue they're taking over the world.)

    Quick tip. If you seen 12 consecutive episodes of House on a USA channel marathon, you've seen them all. However, if the syndication rights throws a few quid Liz Fraser way for Teardrop, and it stops Laurie teaming up again with Smug Fry for retreads of their comedy sketches from the last century, then I guess it's a small price to pay.

    OK, I''m lying. Not about the mediocrity of House, mind, but about the pic above. It's from a collection brought to you by DribbleGas.com.

    The American far right in all their glory, and they're as mad as hell because Bubba forgot to pack the dictionary again.

    'Some people are on the pitch . . . '

    . . . but it's OK, Craig Bellamy's 1500 miles away cuffing someone else.

    Saturday's Moscow derby between FC Saturn and Spartak Moscow was enlivened by what can only be called a 'sucker punch goal' from a fan from the crowd who decided to interrupt his short cut jog to the bovril stand by walluping in a penalty straight down the middle. Sadly, the penalty had to be retaken as his mate in the tracksuit bottoms was encroaching inside the box when the ball was struck.

    Make sure to watch the celebration afterwards 'cos on 29 seconds in the clip you'll have the shock of your footballing life: Paolo Di Canio has really let himself go since retiring from the professional game. Still got a decent left peg, though.

    Hat tip to 'Barking Mad' over at Urban 75.

    Subbuteo figure flicks spectator

    Any old excuse to dredge up one of my better jokes on the blog. No, that's not me you can hear laughing at one of own jokes: there's a Woody Woodpecker marathon playing on Nickelodeon as I write.

    Maybe it's just me, but I could have sworn that the invading Man Utd supporter went to spit at Bellamy before the latter decided to give him a flick, The clip from MOTD isn't conclusive but if that's what happened, then Bellamy has a decent defence if and when he's charged by the FA.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    Skinheads: the trouble of cults

    Skinhead spot in East Village today had my jaw hitting the sidewalk.

    Fred Perry top, polished red oxblood Dr Martens with (what looked like) 12 eyelets , the braces and the skintight jeans splattered with bleach. Jeans splattered with bleach? I'd totally blanked that fashion disaster from my mind.

    Oh, and the bloke wearing the uniform was about 50. He could have been front and centre in that Ian Walker article.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Skinheads: the cult of trouble by Ian Walker (New Society 26 June 1980)

    A wee departure from pasting up film posters on the blog.
    What seems like a lifetime ago, I posted the late Ian Walker's 1979 New Society article, 'Anarchy in the UK', on the blog, and it was always my intention to post other pieces by Ian Walker that had originally appeared within the pages of the now defunct British magazine, The New Society.
    What happened then? Well, I moved to the States and my copy of Paul Barker's 'The Other Britain' - a collection of New Society articles from the 70s and 80s that included five Ian Walker contributions - decided not to take the journey with me.
    Other more important matters also intervened and it's only in the most recent past that I've been able to acquire a pristine secondhand hardback copy of Barker's book. (My original tatty secondhand paperback copy of 'The Other Britain' is still launguishing back in Britain lying suffocated under 73 back issues of International Socialism.)
    As a follow up to Walker's article on the sub-culture of British Anarchism back in the day, I thought I'd post an 1980 article of his on the Skinhead phenomenon that was making headline news for all the wrong reasons during the same period.
    You'll obviously recognise the bands mentioned in the piece because they never went away, but it's a blast from the past to see mention of the National Front's Joe Pearce, who has since travelled some distance both philosophically and geographically from the fascism of his youth in the East End of London.
    Hope you enjoy the piece. I know it's very much of its time but Ian Walker was a wonderful writer, people are still trying to hunt down his work (that's what my sitemeter tells me, anyway) and maybe, just maybe, next time it won't take me four years before I post another of his articles on the blog.
    Skinheads: the cult of trouble by Ian Walker
    Skinheads streaming out of Camden Town underground tonight look hard and they know it. The crop is the style, but it can also be the weapon: it'll nut you if you look too long or you don't step out of the way, if you're wearing the wrong uniform or follow the wrong team. Outside the Electric Ballroom four Special Patrol Group men stand staring at the line of skinheads waiting to pay £3.00 to see UB40, staring at the anti-fashion parade.

    The smart look is sta-press trousers, Ben Sherman shirts and polished Dr Martens. The tougher look is a short-sleeved shirt displaying the tattoos, bleached Levis with the braces hanging loose round the legs. The real hard cases have tattoos on their faces. One has a small cross on each cheek. Most of the girl skins look really young, about 13, and are dressed like the boys in shirts, jeans and boots. But some wear short skirts, like one black skinhead girl who's got brown monkey boots over black fishnet tights.

    The police point and giggle at all the girls in mini-skirts. Now and again they try to show who the real tough guys are by frogmarching the odd skinhead to the back of the queue.

    Skins: the image is white convict, the music is black. (Remember Norman Mailer's article on the cult of hip, 'The white Negro'?) Groups like UB40 - the name comes from the DHSS code for the unemployed - are now called two-tone because they put black and white musicians together to play ska, an early form of reggae coming out of Jamaica, and popular with the first wave of British skinheads in the 1960s.

    It is not just skinheads who are into two-tone. Punks, Rastas, rude boys (skins in mohair suits), and a few long-hairs, are here too. But inside the Electric Ballroom, this huge and airless hall, it's the skinheads who make the atmosphere charged . . . . There's a loud crack and heads turn. But it's just a skin who's finished his can of Coke and smashed it on the floor.

    A skinhead tries to make an art form out of machismo. He walks chin out military style, with a duck-splayed swagger. He sucks hard on his cigarette, chews his gum with a vengeance. He doesn't smile too much, unless he's with his mates at the bar. The only time a skin looks somehow vulnerable is when he's dancing - never with a girl, always either alone or with other skins - with his eyes half-closed, dipping his shoulders rhythmically. Skinheads are great dancers.

    'It's just fashion, innit?' says a 16-year-old from South London, watching his mate zap the Space Invaders in the bar, rocking gently to the reggae of Reality, the warm-up band. Two girls - one has MINI-SKIN N4 DODGER painted on the back of her army-green jacket - run full-tilt through the bar; scant regard for drink or bodies. Skin girls aim to be as street-tough as the boys. They strut to the front of the queue at the women's toilets. No one complains.

    Although skin boys don't hang out with the skin girls, every now and again a boy will just waltz up to a girl, kiss her violently for a couple of minutes, before moving off wordlessly. Girls are okay for kissing and fucking, but you don't talk to them, not in public anyhow. These boys, with their POW haircuts and markings, their enamel Union Jack badges, their polished boots - these boys don't get too upset if they're taken for fascists. Fascism is a laugh.

    A boy in a red Fred Perry tennis shirt greets his friend with a Nazi salute, grinning. Another skinhead wandering round the bar has WHITE POWER written in blue on his T-shirt. A black roadie for UB40 stops and scowls at him, but the white supremacist ignores the challenge, walks on by.

    At 10.30, UB40 come on stage and there's a rush from the bars as the skins make for the front of the hall. Two Rastafarians and six whites in this band. 'This is one of our Rock Against Thatcher numbers,' says the frontman. A few half-hearted cheers. 'Are there only 50 people here into Rock Against Thatcher?' He gets a bigger cheer. A drunk skinhead staggers through the packed dance floor, trying to kick the guy running away from him, before giving up the chase and collapsing on the floor. Everyone ignores him. Be cool.

    The final encore over, the lights come on, and the plastic pint pots are ceremoniously crunched. West Ham skins sing 'Wembley' (pronounced Wemballee) on their way out, throwing down the gauntlet to the Arsenal.

    It's not picked up. It's been a quiet night, after all. Police are back on duty outside as the dancers spill out, dripping with sweat this warm night, and traipse down the street for the underground train home. Home to their parents, most of them, though there is one last pleasure to be squeezed out the night: to chant and sing and look tough on the tube. Scaring the straights is half the fun.

    It always has been. Seat-slashing Teds, mass-rioting mods and rockers, football thugs, skinheads, drug-taking hippies, foul-mouthed punks . . . Sub-editors write headlines, politicians fire moralism from the hip, youth movements come and go.

    Skinhead first arrived in the late 1960s. It was a sort of male working-class backlash against mods grown too narcissistic, effeminate and arty. Football fans discovered a style. I remember 4,000 Manchester United skinheads on the terraces at Elland Road, Leeds, in 1968. They all wore bleached Levis, Dr Martens, a short scarf tied cravat-style, cropped hair. They looked like an army and, after the game, went into action like one.

    Skinheads never really disappeared from the football terraces. But the clothes, like skinhead music (soul, ska, home-grown rabble-rousers like Slade), went out of fashion, until the punk movement turned style inside out, starting in late 1976. A new generation of skins started following the band called Sham '69. 'If punks are about anarchy, then skinheads are the most anarchist going,' Jimmy Pursey, the band's frontman, once told me in his Hersham flat, above a bookie's. 'They fight, run riot, don't give a fuck about anything.' Pursey withdrew from the Rock Against Racism carnival in Brixton later that year because he feared that his supporters might smash the whole thing up. Sham '69 folded the next year.

    Mark Dumsday never liked Sham '69 anyway. He has been a skinhead for two years, he is 18, and moved to London a years ago after working on a fairground in Southend, his home town. He now lives in a short-life ex-council flat in King's Cross. He gets £23 a week from social security.

    It's five in the afternoon. We're sitting in front of a black and white portable TV, here in the living room of this fourth-floor flat in Midhope House. Mark says he usually gets up around two, watches television, then goes out for a drink, or to a gig, or whatever. His father is a welder. His mother works for Avon cosmetics.

    'When I was at home,' he says, 'I didn't get on very well with them. Now it's sweet. All right now. They don't mind me being a skin. They quite like it, like the haircut, think it's tidy.' He's looking at the TV. Shots of bikini-clad women on Caribbean beaches. The Eversun commercial.

    Why did Mark first get his crop? 'I dunno. I used to hang around with bikers, the Southend Hell's Angels. In August '78, when I came off the fair, I had a crop. It was something different at the time. At Southend there was only about ten of us. Now there's loads of 'em.'

    The tattoo on his right arm is a caricature of a skinhead. 'Most skins have got this one,' he says, pointing to it. 'Or a lot of the BM [British Movement] skins have got the phoenix bird.' Pictures of Debbie Harry and Olivia Newton-John on one wall, and of the West Indian reggae artist, Peter Tosh, smoking a joint on another. 'Yeah, I like a blow. I don't know any skinheads who don't.'

    He left school at 16 without taking any exams. 'I was hardly ever there. Used to bunk off all the time.' He's thought about getting a job as a despatch rider, but he's happy enough on the dole. He has no girl friend. 'I don't bother going out with them,' he grins. I ask him why it is that skinheads always hang out in all-male groups. Is it that they don't know how to talk to girls? 'That's rubbish,' he says. 'Anyone can pick up a bird. Anybody.' But Mark has never picked up a skin girl. 'I think a girl with a crop looks silly.'

    Skinhead isn't fashion, he says; but he's not sure what it is at all. What does he get out of it? 'Not a lot.'
    Two young Glaswegian women, both with dyed blonde hair and one of them tattooed, arrive with shopping bags. 'They're just staying here,' says Mark. 'Ain't got nowhere else to go . . . ' No, the only thing that's kept skinheads going is it's not commercial, like punk was and mods are. I want to stay one till I'm 21.' Why? 'Dunno. Stuck it out two years. Might as well make it five. If I quit, I'll probably turn biker.'

    A lot of the skins who used to live on this estate are now inside, but Mark has stayed pretty clean. 'I only have one offence against me. For possession.' Of drugs, that is - 'speed', amphetamines. 'I'll have it occasionally, not very often. A lot of skins are into glue, but I've never done that. If you can't afford the right stuff, don't do that.' The television picture distorts. Mark gets up, fiddles around with the aerial, which is stuck in the grille of a gas fire. One of the Glaswegians notices a mark on the back of his head. She asks him what it is. 'Scar,' he says. A woman on the box, now in focus, reckons the boa constrictors are very popular pets now. Mark sits down again.

    Life here, the way he tells it, is one long struggle against the law. 'The Old Bill were up here the other night. Took me curtains away to analyse them. Went right through the place. They went downstairs and asked this geezer, "Is that bloke upstairs a nutter?"

    A prostitute who lived on this estate was murdered. Most of her body was found in Epping Forest; police expected to find the rest here, in Midhope House. 'The cop was saying, "You did it, didn't you? I think you done it." I just laughed.' Mark says he did know the prostitute. 'Didn't like her either.' A sudden strong smell of varnish as the two women start painting their nails.

    'Yeah,' Mark continues. 'You do get a lot of aggravation from the Old Bill. In Southend I've been nicked twice for things I never done. My mate kicked in a rockabilly and I got put in a cell for 24 hours for that . . . and here they just stop you on the street, RO you. Give it all out on the radio. See if they've got warrants out for your arrest.

    'I've been beaten up the Old Bill. There was me and another guy, me mate, he ran away. They took me home, found a starting pistol. Then they got me in the back of the car. Twisting my neck and punching my mouth. Bastards they are . . . and you get a lot of DS [drug squad] at gigs. Round here the DS are easy to spot, just old geezers. But at gigs some of 'em are really young. I was at Dingwalls [also in Camden Town] the other night and suddenly the DS was all around us.'

    Mark, the letters of his name tattooed on his four fingers, flicks a hand over his crop, asks me if I want a cup of tea? Skinhead crops come in four categories, from grade one to grade four. Mark's is grade one, the shortest. He has to get it cut every three weeks.

    Over the tea Mark says he has no time for mods ('just a load of wimps'), Teds, rockabillies or Asians. Why Asians? 'I don't like Pakis and I don't know any skinheads who do. Pakis just don't mix. You'll see one of them,' he points to the Peter Tosh poster, 'with a white man. Never see a Paki with one. Paki-bashing is all part of the cult anyway.'

    There is an Asian band in south London called Alien Kulture who take gangs of Asian youth with them wherever they play. Mark had said he thought 'niggers are okay, I like the music.' But he just shakes his head about Alien Kulture: 'I don't think they'll last. I don't think they'll last five minutes. A Paki band? I never heard of such a thing.'

    Tonight Mark is going to see Madness, the all-white ska band, at the Lyceum. Madness are darlings of the British Movement and National Front skins: somebody's going to get hurt tonight. Mark himself says he isn't into fascism, and he isn't into violence. 'I don't fight unless someone provokes me.' But what is it then that provokes skins to punch, kick, nut and razor? 'It's just the cult. Skins are trouble, aggro, Paki-bashing, the lot. The cult is trouble.'

    Choose your own cult and live inside it. Skinhead is trouble. The cult is big in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester. In Glasgow and Belfast, punk is still the biggest youth movement. In the country as a whole, the 'heavy metal' revival is in the ascendant (loud rock from the likes of Saxon, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard). No one is really too sure what is happening in the youth culture. Fascist skins, left-wing skins, and yet more skins who just like the clothes and the music? A psychedelia revivial, a rhythm-and-blues revival? Black skins and white rude boys? Asian rock bands?

    I take a train up to Bradford. Bad Manners are playing at the university. Bad Manners are from Stoke Newington. All white apart from the drummer, they say they got to know ska sounds hanging out in the local black clubs. The lead singer, Doug, has been a skinhead since the first time round, in 1968. 'I'm the leader,' he says, elongating the vowels to fake dumbness. 'I'm the one who encourages all the violence at the gigs. I think you haven't had a good gig unless you've had a good punch-up'. He smacks his ample fist into his palm and laughs.

    The accent, like the clothing, is constructed from the cartoon worker, the Jak navvie. Skinhead style takes the bourgeois caricature of its class (dumb and violent) and makes it yet more extreme. Shave off the hair to emphasise brainlessness and criminality, make the head ugly and lumpen. Wear boots to emphasise drudgery and violence. A donkey jacket, like the one that Doug wear on stage, completes the look.

    Active in a housing co-op in Stoke Newington, Doug is smart all right, he knows all about the parody and he has no time for racist gig-wreckers, but what can he do except make jokes about it? Trapped by his chosen style, the farthest he can go is to say, 'Well, anyone who votes NF, they're not too clever.'

    The band are changing and tuning up in a lecture room. The tables are littered with empty bottles of Stella Artois, the remains of pasties. 'I'm tough, I'm rough', shouts out one of the band, sub-Clint Eastwood. 'I'm mean, I'm clean', screams someone else.

    The boys from Stoke Newington, living on $25 a week and touring the country, are having a good time. After an American football-style huddle they rush out to play. No violence, of course, at a college gig. Bradford seems a lot further than 200 miles from London where, the next day, I have an appointment with the National Front.

    I ring the bell and the front door is opened cagily by a fat man with greased back hair and an army-surplus jumper. Joe Pearce, the organiser for the Young National Front, and editor of their magazine, Bulldog, shows up. He looks every inch like a college boy, which he was till he was forced to abandon his course on polymer technology at the South Bank poly. His medium-length brown hair is well groomed. He wears a green car-coat and beige flares. He says he's told the NF skins to meet us down at the pub. We live Excalibur House, the National Front's Shoreditch headquarters.

    Proud of the Front's impact in the youth culture, Joe Pearce boasts of widespread support among heavy metal fans and mods, as well as skins. 'Like the mod movement in the East End is NF. There's a link between the glory boys and the NF, the gang that used to follow Secret Affair and now follows the Cockney Rejects. They're the ones that have mod tattooed in the inside if their lip.'

    The first skin to arrive is Gary Munford from Ealing YNF. He was first a skinhead in 1970, when he was twelve. Since then, he's been a suedehead and a soul-boy. 'I used to go down the discos, wear pegs and American bowling shirts. It was such a posy scene. I was spending about $30 a week on clothes. And then there was all the niggers at the discos and white slags hanging about with them.'

    The few black people in this bar start finishing off their drinks. Another crophead sits down at the table. He's wearing an army-camouflage flying jacket. I ask him what he does for a living? 'Demolition,' he says, with a mechanical chuckle. His name is Alex Barbour.

    The recent National Front march in Lewisham was 80 per cent skinhead. What's happened to the older support? 'More important you have the young support. Look at the police running away, like they did at Bristol. Older people aren't prepared to take that violence. Young people have got the bottle to go out there and . . . ' Gary Munford clenches his fist, adorned with punching rings.

    'If there's going to be a ruck, skins'll be the first ones in, they'll steam in. Except I do disagree with them going down to Brighton and Southend and beating the shit out of each other, when they could be beating shit out of more constructive people, mentioning no names.' His friends laugh.

    Tony Duck and Rita Hope, from Haringey YNF branch, finally turns up. He is an unemployed electrician, and she works at Swan and Edgar on Piccadilly. He thinks a lot of recent skin converts are 'just a bunch of wallies who've learnt how to chant Sieg Geil at gigs. They're the sort of people who'll grow their hair and start going round with blacks again.' Tony says that, in his branch, there are two full paid-up black members. 'It's because they really want to go home.'

    Gary Munford says his girl friend is in the Front. 'She;s been on marches with me. But a lot of the time the blokes tell the birds not to come. There's gonna be a riot.'

    'Half of us can look after ourselves just as good as you lot anyway,' says Rita Hope. Even here, in the backwoods of the NF, some cracked reflection of a women's movement: a woman's right to ruck.

    Jeering at this notion of physical equality, Gary Munford recalls a time he arrived at a march with 14 skins, to find 200 Anti-Nazis blocking their path: 'We got all the girls behind us, said keep walking, then just ran at them shouting, "White youth unite." They all just turned and ran. Whatever anyone says, our blokes have got more bottle.'

    'The birds of the reds are worst,' says Rita Hope.

    There is a vicious feel to those East End streets, where all the white boys are skins, which is absent in Somers Town: the small triangle between St Pancras, Euston and Camden. There is no reason to go through Somers Town, unless you happen to live in one of those blocks of council flats that comprise the neighbourhood. At around a quarter to four, boys are pouring out of the local school, Sir William Collins, an all-boy comprehensive. The blacks walk home with the blacks, the whites with the whites.
    Two white skins, Andy Sophocleous and Steve Rawlinson, both 13, say that out of 165 boys in their year, about 70 are skins. They reckon the school is all right: 'Same as all schools really. Some parts you like, and some you don't.' What is it they don't? 'Some of the teachers. Some of 'em are grumpy. Don't let you have any fun in class. Kids work best if you can have a laugh, too.'

    Andy is carrying a school-supplied acoustic guitar. 'I want to be in a band when I'm a bit older.' I ask him what his parents said about him becoming a skin? 'Well,' he pauses. 'I walked in after my first crop. and my Dad goes, "Oh, what? You think you're a trouble-maker now?" And our teacher, Mr Malinson, he sort of goes to me and him,' pointing to Steve, "'If I saw you two on the street, if I was a cop, I'd pick you up before two normal kids." For sus, like. People can get the wrong idea because of the hair.'

    'My mum don't like it,' Steve says. 'Thinks you're going out just for trouble . . . Best ti be normal if you think about it. Then you don't get beaten up by no one.' Steve and Andy aim to keep out of trouble. That's why they don't go to gigs. 'There's trouble on the train. They won't let you on 'cos they think you'll vandalise everything. On buses they can make you sit downstairs.'

    Moved on, stopped, questioned, denied entrance - skinheads these boys reckon, have a lot to put up with. 'Yeah, they get a hard time, especially from the police, and quite a few teachers. One teacher suspended a skin. He had a swastika shaved into his head. I think that's bad as well,' Andy says. 'I think he should have gone home. He would have got into a lot of trouble with the coloured kids, anyway. He would've got beaten up. The school's roughly half and half, a few more whites . . . '

    They're getting a bit fidgety. It's 4.20 and the football is on, live from Rome, at 4.30.

    Down through Somers Town, over the Euston Road (a territorial divide for the gangs round here), and again on into King's Cross. Just down the road from the Midhope House, where Mark Dumsday lives, is a youth club called the Tonbridge Club. Open 6 to 10, six days a week, it's the hang-out for local kids too young or too poor to go drinking and dancing. They come here to play table tennis, snooker and pinball, listen to records. Most of the boys here, too, are skinheads. One of them, Michael, tells me he's up in court next week for not going to school. He's 15. Why did he get a crop? 'Dunno. Just like the music, reggae and ska. And I'm into me own band, play bass. Get the name of the band down. It's called Youth Cult.'

    Another skin, Eric McQueen, takes Bob Marley off the turntable and puts on the Sex Pistols single, Anarchy in the UK. Eric is living in a hostel for juvenile delinquents in Westbourne Grove. 'Well, it started at primary school, see,' he says. 'I used to fight all the time. I went to a hostel in Chapel Market and then they put me in Stratford House, a remand home, for six months. From there I went to a community house. Spent a year there, and then I got a job. I've had seven jobs since I left school, in shops, factories, decorating, everything.'

    And what's the idea of this place he's in now? 'Sort your life out,' he smiles. 'It's all right. Ain't got many rules, except you got to be in by 12 on Saturdays.' Eric is 18. He has only had his crop, which is dyed blond, for two months.

    Eric tells a couple of young girls who've sidled up that he gets about $8 a day from his social worker. They look impressed. I ask him how he got the scar on his left ear? 'Some nutter.'

    Hugh Byrne, who's also 18, has a crop which is starting to grow out. He's out of work. 'He's a good artist,' says one of the girls standing by a bar which sells Kit-Kats and Coke. 'Skinhead is just the thing round this area,' High says, with the air of someone bored with the whole idea. 'Used to be a lot of mods round here too, 'cos the star of Quadrophenia, Philip Daniels, used to live round here. Half the skins round here used to be punks or mods.'

    One local skin gang, about 40 strong, have recently given it all up, Hugh says.'They've all changed to normal 'cos they were always getting picked on and that. I used to get picked up by the Old Bill a lot.' Is that why he's letting his hair grow? 'No. Not really. It's only been two months. I can't be bothered to get it cut.'

    Post-skins. like Hugh, and his friend, Tony French, all describe themselves as having gone 'normal' once they've let their grow out. Tony French, who now looks like a King's Road smoothie, used to be involved in all the gang feuds round here. 'No reason,' he says. 'Something to do.'

    Reasons? Anyone interested in reasons (for skins, for punks, for Rastas) should take a walk through the meaner city streets, then turn on the TV. 'We want a riot.' You must have heard the skinhead chants. 'We are evil.' The straight world, the Rastas call it Babylon, is threatened with style: a sneer, a strut, a beat that has soul . . .

    The teenagers at the Tonbridge Club start drifting off home at around nine. Youth Cult are playing London Calling down in the basement.
    26 June 1980

    Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

    College Dropout calls out Chairman Bob

    Brilliant. Genuine laugh out loud moment on a Friday morning.

    Kanye West has a wee alcohol induced outburst at the MTV video awards last Sunday and five days later it's this year's YouTube downfall video.

    And you know it has hit critical mass when Chairman Bob Avakian is on the photoshopped end of Kanye's diss. Now, I'm off over to YouTube to find that old clip of Kanye with Mike Myers where he says live on air, "Bob Avakian doesn't care about working class people."

    Hat tip to someone over at F/B. More on Chairman Bob here and here.

    Oh, and the old photographic evidence that Kanye dismissal of Bob is nothing more than the ultra-left sectarian sniping of a petit-bourgeois anarchist.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Dalek, I heart you

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 116

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 116th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1523 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • The problem that never went away
  • A salaried economy, no thanks
  • Hunting in the morning
  • Coming Events:

    Adam Smith and the Free Marketeers

    Speaker: Adam Buick

    Wednesday 16 September, 7.30pm.

    52 Clapham High St, London SW4


    Speaker: R.Donnelly

    Wednesday 16 September, 8.30pm.

    Community Central Halls, 304 Maryhill Road, Glasgow


    Speaker: Dick Field

    Sunday 20 September, 6.00pm.

    52 Clapham High St, London SW4


    Monday 28 September, 8.30 pm.

    Unicorn, Church Street, Manchester City Centre

    Quote for the week:

    "Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for the others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish for ever." Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness, 1932.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Asleep on the sofa

    Oops, 6 of the last 7 posts have been nothing more than me listing details of which films I've recently viewed.

    What can I say? It happens to be the case that I've been watching a lot more films recently.

    If you can, check out King of Kong and FRÖKEN SVERIGE. Both excellent films.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Children of Albion Rovers edited by Kevin Williamson (Rebel Inc. 1996)

    Gillian stepped back, put her feet together and described an area of the pavement with her hands. It was here, she said, that Carlyle saved himself from despair. He'd become a man with an emptiness where his spirit used to be. He'd lost faith in God, and belief in the Devil. He'd lost faith in love. He saw no rewards in heaven or punishments in hell. His sense of right and wrong seemed like rubbish left behind by illusions of God. It seemed that people just lived afraid of pain, and wanting pleasure. He could imagine people finding a reason for living in their work, but he had no work to show for his time on earth, He was 28 years old. Something inside him was angry but it didn't seem to have anything to do with the boredom of the universe he was stuck in. He hardly noticed other people, they were like parts in a machine to him. The world was the machine, and it didn't do him the favour of wanting him to suffer. No, because it ground him down automatically. He would have killed himself, but there was a small bit of religious teaching stuck in his brain, and anyway, he couldn't be bothered. And all the while he felt frightened. He didn't know what he was afraid of. Until he came here, to Leith Walk, and one moment he didn't know and the next moment he knew. He was frightened of death, nothing more or less, because in the end that was all there was to be afraid of. And when he knew it, he looked at death, and said: Come on, then. I'll meet you and I'll take you on. He stood there, a man still young, miserable with the grey world and his being lost in it, and he reached out over forty years ahead and shouted at death that he could see it hiding there and it might as well come out because he could look at it and still live on as a free man until the final reckoning came. And he felt so strongly and angry after that, burning up with hatred for death, and so he was alive.
    John was quiet for a bit. Then he said: Let's call our first child Leith.
    My surname's Walker.
    Well. mine's Keith.
    Come on, finish your bridie and go back to work.
    John got up and stood closer to Gillian. Your hair's just like the adverts, he said. It smells like turkish delight.
    (From 'The Brown Pint of Courage' by James Meek)

    Football Factory (2004)

    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Fröken Sverige (2004)

    The Met beckons

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 115

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 115th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1524 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • A Post-Conflict World
  • Japan : the road to Pearl Harbor
  • Nazism – the ultimate evil?
  • Quote for the week:

    " ..the principles are not the starting-point of the investigation, but its final result; they are not applied to nature and human history, but abstracted from them, it is not nature and the realm of man which conform to these principles, but the principles are only valid in so far as they are in conformity with nature and history. That is the only materialist conception of the matter... " Engels, Anti-Dühring(1877)

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    The taste challenge

    Once upon a time I banged a lonely drum for The Low Miffs, but it's nice to see that other people on the blogosphere have since turned up with their drumsticks to make some noise.

    JC over at The Vinyl Villain brings news that the Low Miffs have just recently released their debut album and he's so in love with it that he's broken with blog tradition and mentioned a record released this millennium. (Only half- joking.)

    Check out the video at the bottom of JC's post for a flavour of their music. Of course, it's fitting that they're recording with Malcolm Ross of Josef K and Orange Juice fame. The old Sound of Young Scotland spawned many a kid and some, in turn, have picked up instruments.

    Also check The Low Miffs MySpace page for info on the album, a forthcoming tour and a comment from the Socialist Standard MySpace page that dates from April 21st 2006. The comment is gushing over one their older songs, 'Also Sprach Shareholder' . It's the song that first got me into them and I've been looking out for them ever since.

    One word of warning, though; the lead singer, Leo Condie, is, how can I put this?, a lot like marmite. I happen to like marmite. Some people don't. More fool them.

    Anyone? . . .

    . . . anyone? . . . .Anyone?

    Plastic gangster

    One for Reidski.

    From Football365com website, a brilliantly funny pisstake of hoolies and their ilk that might have John King reaching for the phone to ring his solicitor.

    "Work. Same old, same old. A warrior like me should not be caged. And definitely not as a Waste Management Support Co-ordinator in Lewisham Council. Phone rings. Pick it up.

    "Ooo are ya? Ooo are ya? Ooo are ya?" I shout.

    "Barry," says the voice. "It's Mr Stevens. Now what did we say about answering the phone in accordance with the guidelines laid down by HR in consultation with designated union representatives?"

    "Sorry, Mr Stevens," I say.

    "That's better Barry. Now can you please arrange for a member of the cleaning personnel team to go down to the lobby and change the waste paper basket on front desk?"

    "Millwall! Millwall! Millwall!" I shout.

    "No Barry. Waste paper management now. Millwall later," says Stevens. "Honestly Barry. A man of 48 really ought to be able to control himself." [READ ON . . . .]

    From Old Hooligan: A Day In The Life.

    Hat tip to 'Sweet FA' over at Urban 75.

    Eder in the playground

    Official World Cup films. Bit shit, aren't they? I've not felt that bad since Linekar scored those penalties against Cameroon in 1990.

    John Adshead seemed a bit of a character though.

    Monday, September 07, 2009

    It's Getting Grimmer Up North*

    A Socialist Party Day School

    Organised by Manchester Branch

    Saturday 12 September, 1pm - 5pm

    Capitalism and the Crisis: the Latest Recession

    Speaker: Adam Buick

    Cassandras, Jeremiahs and Chicken-Lickens: Why it’s dangerous to hope for the worst.

    Speaker: Paddy Shannon

    Friends’ Meeting House

    Mount Street

    City Centre (next to Central Library and Manchester Town Hall)

    *The first person to spot the deliberate typo in the poster gains free admission to the day school.

    Archie Macpherson's Day Off

    Colin Stein was the last bloke to do it over forty years ago.

    "Anyone? Anyone?

    Whatever happened to John Terry watch?

    It's still lurking about out there. Happy to pop up with links to old photoshop when the mood arises.


    McFadden, you're an enigma. You should be playing for a top four team. Not for the diddies at St Andrews. I can't help feeling that Moyes did to you what Strachan did to Riordan.

    Explanation for the post? I guess the goal is the obvious link, but there were four or five pieces of magic from McFadden in the game against Macedonia. Maybe he's best off back at Fir Park? I'll never understand football.

    Saturday, September 05, 2009

    One for next year's calender

    I guess this is how traditions are made.

    Henceforth, I will always think of September 5th as 'Bad/Bad Films' day. Not 'Good/Bad Films'; that would be films like this one, or that one over there, or my especial favourite 'good/bad film' of all time.

    No, the 'Bad/Bad Film' is the film that at first glance disguises itself as a half decent film or at least something that is worth investigating further.

    It may draw you in with the film poster that is pleasing on the eye; maybe by the trailer that is cleverly put together to make the film seem more interesting than it actually is; sometimes it plays upon the fact that the participants both in front of and behind the camera have been in stuff that you've enjoyed previously. (Step forward Peter Sollett, Rhys Darby, Nick Frost, Ralph Brown and Kevin Corrigan. You're all as guilty as bastard charged.)

    Oh, and if that doesn't work in luring in the unsuspecting popcorn muncher?

    Pick a theme or a time or a place that just screams 'that looks interesting'. Say, the musical and cultural revolution taking place in Britain in the sixties which was propelled, in part, by the pirate radio stations operating off the coast of Britain, or maybe, for instance, the modern day East Village in Manhattan as populated by pseuds, hipsters and teenage bridge and tunnel weekenders. Take those two random but potentially fascinating backdrops and make a couple of films so uninteresting, so uninspired that I was compelled to watch both to the very end just so that I could properly hate them both in equal measure for their jaw-dropping mediocrity.

    Step forward 'Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist' and 'The Film That Tanked'. Now please take a hundred steps backwards.

    Avoid these films like a Trot paper seller with a petition outsides Sainsburys on a Saturday morning.

    Oh, and as a PS before I forget, three-quarter decent soundtracks don't compensate for crap scripts, faxed in acting performances and the cringeworthy 'here's the moral of the story kiddies' concluding scene that would have Annette Mills heckling from her grave, 'You must be fucking joking, mate!'.

    In future, just set up a music blog, and send me the link to your mixtape . . . preferably using mediafire.

    The Boat That Rocked (2009)

    Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

    Thursday, September 03, 2009

    'If you and your wife . . . '

    As requested, more whimsy on the blog.

    Glenn Beck does a passable impersonation of about a dozen Onion News Network spoof pieces, whereby he 'reveals' the longstanding (not so) hidden alliance between Communists, Fascists and the Progressive elite in the United States - as personified by the late John D. Rockefeller, Jr - and all taking place under our very noses in New York City itself.

    Throw in the conspiracy theory of totalitarian art as propaganda in midtown Manhattan; the conspiracy theory of Obama indoctrinating your kids next week via satellite; Jack the sound engineer who was subliminally indoctrinated for 29 years by NBC architecture until Glenn tore the wool from his eyes and the sound cans from his ears; and the conspiracy theory of Van Jones and his ever powerful communist machinations and that's so many conspiracy theories in a nine minute segment that I'm scrambling for time to crowbar in the obligatory throwaway reference to Howard Beale when mentioning Glenn Beck on the blog.

    Enjoy. There's more out there from Glenn on YouTube. It's all in plain sight if your eyes are wide open enough.

    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    Letting you down gently

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 114

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 114th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1525 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Oil or democracy, what do you think?
  • Against all war, economic and military
  • Overlords and underlings
  • Quote for the week:

    "Enable every woman who can work to take her place on the labour front, under the principle of equal pay for equal work." Mao Tse-Tung (1893-1976)

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Latest on Chomsky

    In his office . . . at MIT . . . sucking on a polo mint . . . searching in vain to find a clip of Willie Donachie scoring a spectacular own goal for Scotland against Wales in a 1978 Home Championship International on YouTube.

    Unfortunately, he doesn't find the clip he wants but he does stumble across this gobbet of Gordon Legge from the blog - where Legge mentions Donachie's said own goal in a short story - and he proceeds to rifle around the top drawer of his desk to see if he still has that Barnes and Noble gift card that Howard Zinn sent him last birthday.

    The book looks good, and if he can get it second hand, he'll have enough left over on the gift card to also purchase a second hand copy of Colin Shindler's 'Manchester United Ruined My Life'. he feels it's time to look back on the good bad times when Man City used to be a football club.

    Footnotes. FOOTNOTES. It's a post on Chomsky, so there must be footnotes . . . even if they're made up. (No, that isn't a sly dig on 'The Chom' before someone - ANYONE - write in.

    *Chomsky looking for the Donachie own goal was probably prompted by this blog on classic own goals in today's Guardian.

    **I thought I'd label the screen grab as 'Chomsky + own goal', so the blog will probably be getting its first visit from Little Green Footballers once the google alert goes viral.

    ***'The Chom' Made that one up myself. If Hitchens can be *involuntary vomit* cited as 'The Dude', then Uncle Noam can be now be known as 'The Chom'. What does it matter if it sounds like a chocolate bar? Probably just means I'm hungry.

    ****Proof read posts before posting. Then your hershey bar will taste better.

    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and Werther Dell'edera (Vertigo Crime 2009)

    Somebody's been reading Marcuse . . .

    Socialist Party public meeting

    “The free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves”

    Speaker: Danny Lambert

    Sunday, September 6th


    The Socialist Party Head Office,

    52 Clapham High Street,

    London SW4 7UN.

    (nearest tubes: Clapham North and Clapham Common.)

    Website: SPGB

    Email: spgb@worldsocialism.org

    Socialism Or Your Money Back Blog