Saturday, April 24, 2010

Right As Rain by George P. Pelecanos (Warner Books 2001)

You're not the first person who's thought of those things. So why isn't anyone talking about it for real?"

"Cause you put all those politicians down on the Hill in one room and you can't find one set of nuts swingin' between the legs of any of 'em. Even the ones who know what's got to be done, they realize that comin' out in favor of drug legalization and handgun illegalization will kill their careers. And the rest of them are in the pockets of the gun lobby. Meantime, nearly half the black men in this city have either been incarcerated or are in jail now."

"You tellin' me it's a black thing?"

"I'm tellin' you it's a money thing. We got two separate societies in this country, and the gap between the haves and the have-nots is gettin' wider every day. And the really frustrating thing is -"

"No one cares,' said Quinn.

"Not exactly. You got mentors, community activists, church groups out there, they're tryin', man, believe me. But it's not enough. More to the point, some people care, but most people care about the wrong things.

"Look, why does a dumb-ass, racist disc jockey make the front page and the leadoff on the TV news for weeks, when the murder of teenage black children gets buried in the back of the Metro section every day? Why do my own people write columns year after year in the Washington Post, complainin' that black actors don't get nominated for any Academy Awards, when they should be writin' every goddamn day about the fucked-up schools in this city, got no supplies, leaking roofs, and fifteen-year-old textbooks. You got kids walkin' to school in this city afraid for their lives, and once they get there they got one security guard lookin' after five hundred children. How many bodyguards you think the mayor's got, huh?"

"I don't know, Derek. You askin' me?"

"I'm makin' a point."

"You gotta relax," said Quinn. "Guy your age, you could stroke out . . ."

"Aw, fuck you, man."

The Square (2008)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern (2005)

General Election latest: 'Clegg panics as the Lib Dems reach new heights in the opinion polls.

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 147

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 147th our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1568 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • Unrealistic alternatives
  • Trade unionist extraordinary
  • Democracy – and ‘democracy’
  • Quote for the week:

    "Only by the propaganda of Socialism among the rank and file of the trade unions will they be made capable of understanding their position as wage slaves, and the consequent necessity for the abolition of capitalism, and not of patching it up, as advocated with monotonous persistence by the misleaders we have been dealing with. Having arrived at this understanding, the workers will recognise that their political power must be put to an infinitely better use than that of providing fat jobs for nimble-tongued tricksters, shepherds put over them by their wily masters—the achievement of their own emancipation, to wit. Then the workers will at once wrench themselves free from the strangle-hold of these Labour garroters, and hurl them to perdition together with that system of labour-exploitation of which they are part and parcel." Jack Fitzgerald, Labour Leaders and their Prey, 1909.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!
    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    The Wanderers (1979)

    Dirty Rotten Scoundrel

    A week may be a long time in politics, but it seems like a bloody lifetime during a General Election campaign.

    I know you've all been frothing over Nick Clegg this past week - watch his body language when he speaks; it screams Tony Blair - but I have to step back in time by posting below the excellent spoof election poster that I just this minute stumbled across.

    It's rather fine and stands up well, despite the fact that the 8th of April seems like a lifetime ago.

    Kudos to Max over at Capitalist Money Madness.

    And on the seventh day, sauté your unsold copies of Newsline

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 146

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 146th our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1567 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Mass media and mass politics
  • More pain ahead?
  • Bigotry - as good as gold
  • Quote for the week:

    "I have continued directing the unpopular fight for the rights of agitation, as director of the American Civil Liberties Union.... I am for socialism, disarmament and ultimately for abolishing the state itself as an instrument of violence and compulsion. I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is, of course, the goal." Roger Nash Baldwin, 1935.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!
    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain


    With reference to this photo:

    I love the exasperated cry from 'WackAttack' in the comments box of today's Five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend column:

    Thanks for putting that photo up on two different stories. One of my colleagues just walked past and commented
    "Are you still looking at that picture?"

    The picture captures in all its glory the love that dares not speak its name: all of us non Man Utd supporters who want United to win their fourth Premier League title in a row at the expense of Chelski.

    News Just In

    Neville's agent has issued a press release and stated that the photograph is nothing more than a misunderstanding. The kiss is not what you think it is. Apparently it's an old library photo of Neville and Scholes, when they were playing a game of charades in between training sessions, and they were acting out 'the whole thing'

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Trumbo (2007)


    Not the nicest thing to discover on the way to the market this afternoon: finding out that your personal technology has done a Hal 9000 on you and erased five years of songs from your iPod.

    I don't know what was worse. Losing about 24GB of music in one fell swoop or having to listen to my own thoughts for a mile and a half. I would feel suicidal about the matter, but my Red House Painters albums were part of the music that was lost to the electronic aether, and you can't sit in the bath slitting your wrists if you don't have the appropriate soundtrack coming in through your headphones.

    I guess I'll have to start all over again. 27GB of free space on the iPod. I had been thinking about changing up the music on there, but I'd been too bare arsed lazy to shake things up despite my constant cursing at the iPod for its insistence on shuffle presenting me with a Guns and Roses album track every third song.

    Turn a negative into a positive. Fresh start. Maybe I can dip my toe into uncharted musical waters and finally find out what 1982 looks like. I've always wondered.

    One song at a time. I think the first song to be uploaded to the empty iPod will be 'Benny Hill's Wardrobe' by the Bitter Springs. Start as I mean to go on . . . obscure but tuneful.

    The 2009/2010 FA Cup Trivia Question of the Day . . .

    . . . that was nice.

    Ordinarily, I don't have anything against Spurs - yep, even with Redknapp in the high chair - but Portsmouth getting to the final plays out nicely as football done hollywood style. And hopefully Danny Dyer - as played by Jamie O'Hara - will be back for the final where plucky Pompey will get drogaba'd by Chelski.

    One question, though: what's with Kevin-Prince Boateng having a tattoo of Viz Comic's Cockney Wanker on his shoulder?

    Did he not get over Redknapp selling him to Portsmouth? With that penalty, maybe now he's over it.

    "Click on the links or I drop the doll!"

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 145

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 145th our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1565 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Working for a different and better world
  • Election Madness
  • How would you like your capitalism served?

  • Coming Events,

    all open to the public:

    Can politicians save the planet?

    - Election Forum with Frank Simpkins, Vincent Otter, Glenn Morris and Danny Lambert.
    Saturday 17 April, 6.00pm

    The Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 7UN.

    The Election: which way to vote?

    Saturday 17 April, 1pm - 4pm

    Room 7, City Library,

    33 New Bridge Street, Newcastle, NE1 8AX (two minutes walk from Monument Metro)

    The Election: what's wrong with politics?

    - Speaker: Adam Buick

    Tuesday 20 April, 8pm

    Committee Room, Chiswick Town Hall,

    Heathfield Terrace, London W4.

    Elections: do they have to be like this?

    Saturday 24 April, 1pm - 4pm

    Albert Room, Victoria Hotel,

    Great George St, Leeds, LS1 3DL

    Discussion on Poverty

    Monday 26 April, 8.30 pm


    Church Street, Manchester City Centre

    Informal chat / branch business

    Saturday, 8th May, 12pm - 4pm

    Quebec Tavern, 93-97 Quebec Road,

    Norwich NR1 4HY

    Capitalism isn't working for you - is there an alternative?

    Saturday 8th May from 1pm to 5pm

    Community Central Halls,

    304 Maryhill Road, Glasgow

    (During the afternoon free light refreshments will be available.)

    1pm The Basic Cause of Present Day Problems, Vic Vanni (Glasgow)

    2.15pm The Failure of Reformist Solutions, John Cumming (Glasgow)

    The Socialist Alternative, Paul Bennett (Manchester)

    Future Visions - The Socialist Party Summer School
    23rd - 25th July, Fircroft College, Birmingham.

    Quote for the week:

    "All forms of the state have democracy for their truth, and for that reason are false to the extent that they are not democracy." Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Thursday, April 08, 2010

    Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz by Chris Donald (HarperCollins 2004)

    John was always keen to make a Viz TV programme. It wasn't an idea that had occurred to me, but John envisaged films and TV shows, and all the money and showbiz kudos that came with them. He was constantly on the phone reminding me to write a Viz TV show, as if it was something we could do in our lunch break.

    In 1987 I met someone else who also had visions of Viz on TV. I'd never heard the name Harry Enfield until September of that year when the man himself rang me up and explained that he was a comedian and a big fan of Viz. He wondered if he could come up to Newcastle and meet me. He brought with him a producer friend called Andrew Fell and we went to Willow Teas for lunch. Harry was a big sniggerer - he laughed and chuckled a lot - but he was also smarmy. he'd studied politics at York University and seemed to be employing the tricks of that trade to further his career in entertainment. At one point he whispered that I should just ignore his friend Andrew as he'd only been invited along to pay for the train tickets and the lunch.

    Harry said he was interested in doing a television equivalent of Viz, a sketch show based around lots of different characters. Would we be interested in helping to write it? As with Jonathan Ross, I nodded politely and said I'd think about it. Not long after that meeting Harry was on tour and performing at Newcastle Polytechnic along with the Scottish comedian and writer Craig Ferguson, who in those days was fat and went by the stage name of Bing Hitler. I'd never seen Harry perform, but from what he'd told me his act was made up of various characters, a bit like Viz. One of his jokes, about him being so sexy that a taxi he was travelling in exploded, had been lifted straight out of our Tony Knowles story in issue 11.

    Eton Trifles

    Not a particularly good idea but a rather nice T shirt from the Philosophy Football crowd.

    Update Afterthought

    Wait up; if I post an image of the T shirt on the blog, does that mean I can also blag a free T-shirt?

    Duly done. I'll have a large one, Bob.

    PS - That's the General Election officially mentioned on the blog, btw.

    Muppets From Space (1999)

    Tuesday, April 06, 2010

    Devil In A Blue Dress (1995)

    Hide and Seek by Ian Rankin (St Martin's Paperbacks 1990)

    Hyde's Club. Named after Robert Louis Stevenson's villain, Edward Hyde, the dark side of the human soul. Hyde himself was based on the city's Deacon Brodie, businessman by day, robber by night. Rebus could smell guilt and fear and rank expectation in this large room. Stale cigars and spilt whisky, splashes of sweat. And amongst it all moved Ronnie, and the question which still needed to be answered. Had Ronnie been paid to photograph the influential and the rich - without their knowing they were being snapped, of course? Or had he been freelancing, summoned here only as a punchbag, but stealthy enough to bring a hidden camera with him? The answer was perhaps unimportant. What mattered was that the owner of this place, the puppet-master of all these base desires, had killed Ronnie, had starved him of his fix and then given him some rat poison. Had sent one of his minions along to the squat to make sure it looked like a simple case of an overdose. So they had left the quality powder beside Ronnie. And to muddy the water, they had moved the body downstairs, leaving it in candlelight. Thinking the tableau shockingly effective. But by candlelight they hadn't seen the pentagram on the wall, and they hadn't meant anything by placing the body the way they had.

    Rebus had made the mistake of reading too much into the situation, all along. He had blurred the picture himself, seeing connections where there were none, seeing plot and conspiracy where none existed. The real plot was so much bigger, the size of a haystack to his needle.

    Friday, April 02, 2010

    Offside (2006)

    I need this

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 144

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 144th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1565 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • The Massacre of Fruit
  • The Meaning of Social Revolution
  • Modern Technology and Socialism
  • Quote for the week:

    "These bastards who run our country are a bunch of conniving, thieving, smug pricks who need to be brought down and removed and replaced with a whole new system that we control." Michael Moore, 2003, Dude, where's my country?

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle (Penguin 1996)

    I missed the 80s. I haven't a clue. It's just a mush. I hear a song on the radio from the 60s or 70s and I can remember something that happened to me; it has nothing to do with liking the song, Song Sung Blue - I'm doing my homework, listening to Radio Luxemburg , the chart show on Monday night, with Carmel and Denise. I'm drawing a map of Ireland, the rivers of Ireland. My blue marker is nearly wasted and I haven't got to Ulster yet. Lily The Pink - I'm sitting on my mother's knee, watching my Uncle Martin singing Delilah; I have a toothache. Somebody else sang Lily The Pink before or after him; I can't remember who - one of my cousins. All The Young Dudes - I'm watching Charlo washing himself at the sink. He still has some of his summer tan. But I don't know any songs from the 80s; they mean nothing - and the radio was on all the time. What did I do in the 80s? I walked into doors. I got up off the floor. I became an alcoholic. I discovered that I was poor, that I'd no right to the hope I'd started with. I was going nowhere, straight there. Trapped in a house that would never be mine. With a husband who fed on my pain. Watching my children going nowhere with me; the cruellest thing of the lot. No hope to give them. They saw him throw me across the kitchen. They saw him put a knife to my throat. Their father; my husband.