Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday linktastica

Have I done one on Tuesday before? Not sure.

Deaths and a yortsayt:


Totalitarianism, dictatorship and resistance:


Rethinking secular liberalism:


Other people's linktasticas:

Oh, and Chag Urim Sameach and all that. (Especially to those to whom it matters, and especially to TNC, Noga, FiG, DZ, Keith, Snoopy and Matt. Thanks for the links, comments and khavershaft over the year.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

F*ck the Creative Industries

Great post from Squares of Wheat: Fuck the Creative Industries

I'll extract one of my favourite bits below, but it's very worth reading the whole thing.

Fuck them then because they really are an industry, an ugly, landscape-scarring, mind-polluting industry, treating talent like a mine and inspiration like dirty fuel. Fuck them again because of the frequency with which they demand subsidy and succour for their industry when they decide it’s an art. An entrepreneur wearing a t-shirt of a band you like is still an entrepreneur. And an entrepreneur is just a small maggot who wants to be a fat maggot. One day, he’ll grow up to be a fly and shit in your food.

Fuck the creative industries because they promise to bring change, innovation and ‘disruption’ to the table before serving the same old bitter vinegar in impractically-shaped new bottles. People who think that product design ’shapes the way we live’ should be permanently rehoused on a Midlands sink estate and mugged repeatedly until they develop better theories about the relationship between aesthetics and social formation.

P.S. my South London readers: comrades S.o.W. has unfortunately now departed Brockley for pastures Wester. Here's a great parting shot to the Southside. Oh, and Transpontine will like this post.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday linktastica

Just a couple of items today. [Updated 11.48 GMT]

I'm putting together a long Bill Ayers post (or "Bill Ayres", as several commentators, including this one) seem to call him. In the meantime, read Katha Pollit, and follow her links here and here. H/t Jogo.

Some good stuff via Matt, whose post on the anti-Zionism/antisemitism equation I'm still meaning to respond to. For example, this from Crooked Timber on Maurice Sendak (as in Where The Wild Things Are) and his Jewishness, and this great Todd Gitlin reply to Bernard Henry Levy and Nick Cohen.

Jim J reports from the conference of Hands Off the People of Iran. I was quite shocked to read that, "in a room with about sixty people only seven of us thought the US trajectory [i.e. Obama's election] was not an upping of the neo-con stakes"; the majority of people there thought that war with Iran is even closer now. It was left to Permanent Revolution - hardly a voice of the Eustonite right! - to point out "likelihood of a new approach from the US which will prioritise diplomatic measures and the possibility of tightening of sanctions over the threat of war". Will I ever stop being shocked at the idiocy of (some sections of) the left?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday linktastica

There's no theme. We've got Old Labour, New Labour, Marx, miners, Latin music, Slovenian Lacanians, industrial noise merchants, anarchist Jewish Caribbean painters, New Cross and Sydenham, great TV. Among other things.

Let's start with Martin Meenagh on Christopher Lasch on compassion, soundtracked by the wonderful Joe Bataan.

And, while you're at Martin's place, you can stop by and read my nostalgia for a Labour Party youth left far behind.

Another post with a wonderful soundtrack is Terry Glavin's "With his eyes all closed and his head bowed down, My young man never sleeps", on some of the miners who have died around the world recently. The beautiful voice you hear is that of Kate Rusby, demonstrating Terry has a fine ear. He claims he has a tin ear for highbrow philosophy though. If that is the case, mine is more so. His qualified defence of Zizek (in the context of Adam Hirsch's assault in TNR) is worth a read.

I know this is no longer exactly a hot topic, but Small Town Scribbles perfectly expresses my views on the Damian Green affair.

Possibly the cruelest thing anyone can say about a politician: Chris Dillow damns Yvette Cooper as "the poor man's Ruth Kelly".

I printed out Peter Ryley's two trips down memory line some days ago, and finally read them on the bus yesterday. They're worth printing on to paper. This one is on Israel-Palestine and deserves to be widely read by all those who take simplistic kneejerk "anti-Zionist" or "pro-Israel" positions. This one is on doing a "Peace Studies" MA in the 1980s, which brought back some 1980s memories for me (I was brought up in CND and the Labour Party). The final paragraph, bringing it back to the present, is very sharp, and, like the Izzy-Pal post, cuts through the simplistic shibboleths of contemporary leftism.

I had been planning to blog about Rabbi Julia Neuberger's piece on Camille Pissaro's South London painting, "Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich" (1871), which I read a weekend late (a weekend Guardian tends to take me a month to plough through, which I guess saves me from having to read too many of them), but Transpontine, not surprisingly, got there first. (I agree with his conclusion too.)

Sticking with Transpontine, this fascinating snippet on the "Brighton Vigilantes" (housing activists and/or anti-fascist heroes and/or gangsters) in New Cross generated and even more fascinating comment thread.

Transpontine is not the only Test Department fan out there. Neil from Cloud in Trousers is too.

And Rosie Bell eventually liked The Devil's Whore (so did I). ([Added Friday:] Also blogging about The Devil's Whore: Bro S at AVPS, Madame Miaow.)

I wondered what Peter Risdon, blogging as Freeborn John, thought of the original Freeborn John's portrayal by Tom Goodman-Hill, who may or may not be* a direct descendant of John Lilburne. So I looked for the word "whore" on his blog (Peter's, not Tom's) and found nothing pertinent, but did find this fascinating item on Israeli Nazi porn comics.

Devil's Whore trivia: 1. It was written by Peter Flannery, who write Our Friends in the North, one of the truly great British TV series, which illustrates the sort of thing Martin and I wax about in the second post mentioned above, and nicely segues into Your Friend in the North's Normblog profile (especially as he mentioned Andrea Risborough in a post linked to in my last linktastica!). 2. It also stars Dominic West, McNulty of The Wire (on which see Mr. Metal Jew's article in this pdf; I'm currently on series 2 by the way), although it took me until the penultimate episode to realise it was the same guy, similarly irritating, similarly not quite getting the accent right.

I'm also very into Survivors, by the way, and may post on that some day. In the meantime, read Richard. Compare The Wire and Survivors here.

Finally, a debate on Marx's antisemitism at the decent-Marxist journal New Politics (neatly introduced by Ralph Seliger at Meretz USA).
*update: didn't mean to link to Michael Weiss on Che (altho I'd recommend it) when talking about Tom Goodman-Hill's geneology. Now fixed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

anti-capitalist revolutionaries who live better than 99.9% of the rest of us

In a recent e-mail from Jogo:
Of course I do appreciate the very greatest thing about Pete Seeger -- he tried to sing a new world into being. Too bad he was wrong about Stalin; and wrong, too, about Steve and Loretta trying their best to make a clean, safe life in Daly City (the community in the South SF Bay that inspired the disgusting snotty song "Little Boxes"). Pete never had to live in a little box. Pete was a Bohemian. He and Toshi bought their land in Beacon in 1949, while my family was living in a little box in a vertical tower of boxes.

Maybe I just don't like anti-capitalist revolutionaries who live better than 99.9% of the rest of us in capitalist society. Like Bill Ayers and his wife. And Pete Seeger on his cute farm, miles from any little boxes, where nobody writes graffiti on his barn.
Keywords: folk music, Communist

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jewface 1908

I seem to have accumulated a whole series of posts relating to Yiddish cowboys. Here I linked to You Shall Know Us...'s post on Yiddish cowboys, which has an mp3 '“a real honest-to-goodness Jewish cowboy” named Harold Stern (he’s pre-law, single, and can ride bareback!) with Avram, a former Israeli paratrooper who sings tunes in Hebrew and, without explanation, Italian', and summarises the story that runs from Jewish gauchos to Mickey Katz’s “Haim Afen Range” to Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles to Kinky Friedman. Here I did Eden Ahbez's hillbilly mentor, Cowboy Jack Patton. Here we had Stern, SoCalled's Jewish cowby hip hop track and Al Tijuana's Jewish Brass. Here we had Kinky Friedman and Scott Gerber. And we had more Kinky Friedman here and elsewhere.

Anyways, the wonderful Locust Avenue is now up to 1908 in his wonderful vinyl history. That means Charles L. Johnson's "Dill Pickles Rag" and Edward Meeker "I'm a Yiddish Cowboy":
Much like the African-American songwriters who wrote minstrel songs, Jewish songwriters contributed to their culture's mockery. Jews wrote bits like "Cohen Owes Me 97 Dollars" for Jews to perform on stage, usually a comedian wearing, as Jody Rosen put it: an "ubiquitous beard and enormous hook nose...oversized shoes, a tattered black overcoat, and a derby cap pulled tightly across his head so that his ears jutted out."

Even Irving Berlin (who Philip Roth, in Operation: Shylock, wrote had achieved the ultimate assimilation goal: turning the Nativity into a celebration of snow, and the Resurrection into a society parade) wrote his share of tenement ballads in his early years. A subconscious, subversive joke: the opening strains of the chorus of Berlin's "God Bless America" are directly lifted from the Jewish vaudeville gag song "Mose With His Nose Leads the Band."

As Rosen wrote, "I'm a Yiddish Cowboy" yanks together two typical scenarios of the period--a ghetto Jew out in the country making a fool of himself (see Roth's just-released Indignation), and the many perils of mixed marriages (think "Abie's Irish Rose"). Written by Al Piantadosi and Leslie Mohr, it's sung here by the dreadful Edward Meeker, who gurns and bleats into the recording horn, playing to the cheap seats. (Meeker was best known as the voice introducing hundreds of Edison records, including this one; Leslie had a long career as a songwriter--he wrote "For Me and My Gal," "Hello Hawaii, How Are You" and "Take Me to the Land of Jazz"). You could claim the Billy Crystal movie City Slickers is a sequel to this song.

Recorded in New York in July 1908 and released as Edison Gold Moulded Record 9984; on Jewface.
Keywords: music, mp3

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday linktastica

Here's a few, some via TNC. I have added most BNP-related ones to the bottom of this post. I may add more to both later, or may not.


Via a Cloud in Trousers (who turns out to be the same personality type as brockley.blogpot) I reached the Typealyzer, which does an MBTI analysis of blogs. Here's me:

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Neil adds, and exactly the same applies to me:
Now I know it's all about the writing and not the author (rumours of the death of the author are greatly exaggerated) but most of the description also applies to the author. Most but not all. The final sentence, "They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters" is a no, no, no when it comes to the life of the author.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fascism watch: (South) London

I haven't been too closely following the twittering over the leaking of the BNP's membership list. The meme that seems to have emerged in the mainstream press: that the leak may have been a victory for the BNP, because it shows the membership to be a cross-section of society - "people like you and me". As Stan Moss notes
In the Guardian, you get Lola Adesioye writing this: "While I find BNP ideology abhorrent, the publishing of this list has brought home the fact that the people who belong to the party are ordinary British citizens [...] more understanding of the party and those who belong to it is, therefore, vital. This could be an opportunity for some open engagement and dialogue".
This line is idiotic. Duncan points out some of the BNP members "like you and me" revealed by the list:
  • A self-proclaimed witch.
  • The suggestion that a mental health nurse take a look at BNP legal 'expert' Lee Barnes.
  • One guy who loves England so much he emigrated to Poland.
  • Someone with suits of medieval armour offering to joust for rallies.
Malcolm Redfellow gives us some more:
  • Mr Chris M**, whose email is panzerm**@yahoo.co.uk
  • Mark S****, whose hobbies embrace “WWII re-enactment, military buildings”
  • Mr M***** who is listed as “HM Forces (3 tours N.I). Rho[d]esian Security Forces. Freelance security: Africa/South America/Europe. Hobbies: military history.”
  • the “Vera Lynn act” and her “military vehicles - owner of a WW2 jeep”
  • people with the following e-mails:boudicawarrior@yahoo.co.uk, pagan-warrior@hotmail.co.uk and odinswarrior@fsmail.net
  • Mr S**, who is an active Odinist/member of Pagan organisations.
  • Mr David W** is a member of the Manteca, California, cell of the BNP and has the e-mail address odinthor@comcast.net
Hardly people like you and me.

Closer to home, I am pleased that (as revealed by Transpontine) SE8 (Deptford) appears to be BNP-free zone, while Eltham, a little further out, is a stronghold (see helpful map here). In Greenwich, to cut and paste from Transpontine, one member is Sean Pearson, who stood for the Conservatives in a 2006 local election in Greenwich Glyndon Ward and was until last year chair of the Swinton Circle - a group on the far right of the Tory Party (Malcolm Redfellow has more on this as well).

More suprising are the BNP members who have stood for the Green Party, including Keith Bessant in Cheltenham and, very close to home for me, the Green candidate in Telegraph Hill ward. What does that say?

Meanwhile, the BNP's biggest electoral success so far, Richard Barnbrook in the London Assembley, has failed to make any kind of impact, as reported by Tory Troll. Dave Hill argues that Mayor Boris' policy of ignoring him is not the right one: he needs to take on a more robust line:
Johnson's problem is that in some parts of London the issue isn't receptive to being neutralised, not least because the BNP inflames it. Their work is made easier by the failure of a range of politicians to demonstrate to some white voters that they haven't been forgotten and are not being unfairly treated by comparison with other ethnic or cultural groups in the capital. Barnbrook and his ilk are eager to persuade them that they are, and to depict Johnson as being complicit.
The mayor needs to respond more positively, but how? He is inhibited by subscribing to a rightwing narrative about dominant "liberal elites" and "politically correct thought police" undermining "common-sense" values and national identity that the BNP has seized on too. Johnson's policy director Anthony Browne, the former Policy Exchange director, has been a conspicuous perpetrator of this emotive tripe, both in articles for the Spectator under Johnson's editorship and in a pamphlet that the BNP praised to the skies. [H/t to 853 for links]
The mainstream parties - Labour with its obsession about British jobs for British workers, the Tories with their lazy criticisms of multiculturalism - have helped fuel the rise of the BNP.

The left, on the other hand, doesn't help by countering it with a caricatured version of the political correctness the BNP talks up. Hence calls for people on the list to be sacked - calls Ian Bone rejects:

Does anyone seriously believe that sacking a BNP teacher in Dagenham at present would be a blow against fascism? Will the predictable parachuting in of chanting SWP ‘ANTI-NAZI’ lollipops outside the local school to get a teacher sacked do anything to advance the cause of anti-fascism? Perhaps while we’re at it we could sack BNP working classs supporters from the working class? That’d fuck ‘em. The much harder task is to defeat the BNP politically.
Answers on a post card please.

[P.S. Loads more links from Modernity.]

More relevant reading (clarifying some of the comments below).
  • Transpontine updates the Telegraph Hill Green story, and defends pagans.
  • Another local, Brett, voted Green on the Hill, worries that he may have voted for a Nazi accidentally.
  • Dave Hill on Boris Johnson's welcome support for amnesty for illegal migrants in London (aligning him with John Cruddas, one of the most consistently anti-fascist of New Labour MPs, and against Phil Woolas, the New Labour MP who most consistently feeds at the BNP policy trough).

Save Farzad!

Farzad Kamangar, a teacher, trade unionist and rights activist from Iran's Kordistan province (who I posted about here), was due to be executed yesterday, on charges of "endangering national security" and "enmity against God". According to this site, he was not executed. However, it is is still inclear what will happen to him. Information on the case - and how to act - from Incognito/JimJay/ShirazS/WW4.

Meanwhile, 10 other people were executed in Iran yesterday. Fatemeh Pajouh was executed, convicted of murdering her husband. According to Amnesty,
Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh murdered her husband in 1997. At her trial she alleged that her husband, identified as a 30 year old man named Bahman, was a drug addict, who had been overtly interested in her 15-year-old daughter. She also told the trial judge that Bahman had said he had lost the girl in a gambling match. When she later discovered that he had tried to rape the girl, she killed him.

Stories of resistance

Freedom of speech in Europe's Muslim world, from Max Dunbar

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday linktastica

As discerning regulars will have noticed, I haven't had much surfing or blogging time lately, so I've been spending a pleasant post-prandial moment catching up a bit. (Lunch: hearty fare at a formica table in a Turkish greasy spoon with my loved one.) I bring back assorted things for you, in alphabetical order by author. (Apologies to those of you with names after I in the alphabet.) A lot of it seems to relate to Jews and Israel, but not all of it.

1. Airforce Amazons: Against a false choice
Kellie appreciates David Miliband's acknowledgement that situations like the Congo do not pose the choice of political or military intervention, but require multiple solutions. (Also, follow the link to this striking map which I managed to miss at Jeff's place.)

2. Baggage Reclaim: No Music Day
Like me, Richard managed to abuse No Music Day this year. I managed last year, but this year I utterly failed. In fact, I recall starting the day at work with Calexico, and in the late afternoon I was in charge of music at a party (among other things: "Enjoy Yourself" by the Specials and "Reggae Merengue" by Tommy McCook & the Supersonics (as sampled by Lily Allen)).

3. Christopher Hitchens: The new anti-Semitism?
Both Will and Noga led me to this interesting review essay a propos of Denis MacShane. Sample:
“You catch it on the edge of a remark”, as Harold Isaacs phrases it in Chariots of Fire. I have felt myself “catching” it quite a few times of late, as when chaps from the BBC insisted despite repeated correction on saying Paul “Vulfovitz” with a special emphasis, instead of pronouncing the name correctly the first time round, as the BBC used to train people to do.
Eammon McD takes issue here with Hitchens' disagreement with the hardcore new antisemitism line (as espoused by, in his example, Abe Foxman). Eammon argues that "The idea that opposition to the existence of Israel can’t be classed as antisemitic doesn’t stand up to a little serious thought." I am completely with Hitchens on this. My position is summed by David in the comments thread: "Why does a Leftist who adopts coherent and consistent positions opposed to Zionism and other forms of nationalism have to be an antisemite...?" (my italics) Opposition to Israel's right to exist antisemitic if and when (and only if and when) it denies the right to national self-determination to Jews alone. For example, if you believe in an Arab state (or an Irish state etc) but not a Jewish state, you're objectively antisemitic. If, however, you are against the idea of ethnically exclusive states in general, you may be right or wrong, but you are not being antisemitic.

Where Eammon is right (a point Flesh is Grass regularly makes) is to distinguish (if I may paraphrase) between being antisemitic and doing antisemitic: one need not be "an antisemite" (indeed, one may be a Jew) in order to say or believe something that is antisemitic in content.

4. Daniel: The sad truth about Nazis
Depressing mages from Europe and Hebron. The first illustrates MacShane's argument all too well. The second illustrates something at least as bad.

5. Eamonn McDonagh: More Speaking Out
Eamonn skewers Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's ridiculous claim that the West doesn't pay enough attention to Gaza compared to other situations.

6. The Fat Man: Tripe and bollocks
...are absolutely delicious. One of my abiding memories is of eating fried goats' testicles with a deaf mute Greek goatherd on the island of Tilos, whilst he gesticulated about what it would do for my libido. But what does this have to do with the credit crunch?
Just read the rest!

7. Flesh is Grass: Not forgetting the Saudi hunger strikers
A great post, which starts with Arthur Koestler, moves through a critique of the defenders of totalitarianism who pose as human rights advocates, and finishes with an inspiring rallying call for solidarity with some very brave people.

6. George Szirtes: Domain 1, 2, 3
I visited the Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall at the weekend, for the first time. What a wonderful place. I took the opportunity to spend some time with George Szirtes' wonderful poetry, and then with Charles Simic's new volume. So, back on line today, I visited George's blog, and read three beautiful micro-essays on his mother.

7. Ignoblus: On the power of complaining 1 & 2
Two incisive posts on a topic that is depressingly close to home for me in my place of work, where complaining about the demonisation of Israel/Jews is all too great a part of my week to week life.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Martin times two times two

I don't link to either Martin often enough. Two of the most thoughtful and perceptive bloggers on my blogroll. Here's two from each of them.

Martin Meenagh:

1. Just two questions: On the disparity between the capitalist mainstream's response to the banking and auto industries

2. Sarah Palin should Keep On Trucking: A lovely appreciation of Sarah Palin, that I particularly recommend to Jogo. I liked these bits:
    "I do get annoyed with those in desperate search of the righteousness that sometimes is invested in religion, and who follow the bourgeois tribes that own and operate this country whilst pretending to radicalism. You probably have an idea of the kit and caboose they drive; global warming-without-the-science, yearning for anti-apartheid, Israeli boycott, bombing people for out-of-proportion rights-based ideologies, that sort of thing. I'm afraid that I could never hitch a lift on that...

    [Palin] also tended to expose something that is never really acknowledged in the USA, which is the reality of class, and of class attitudes. Palin's demographic was a group who generally are asked to fight America's wars and then patronised or socially regulated by people who often have lower personal morals than them but who have more money, albeit on credit.

    Any whiff of association with things trailed as working class--guns, patriotism, churches, McDonalds, and so on--and those educated at the mills of conformity and licensees of acceptable radicalism that great western universities are will get snide quickly."

    Martin also links to Camille Paglia, a fantastic essay that Jogo also sent me, which I'd strongly recommend, even though I don't agree with all of it.
Martin in the Margins:

1. Lazy anti-Americanism in charity's reaction to Obama win: including a great footnote about the idea of a "Muslim country".

2. The limits of blowback theory: on the white "backlash" against Obama, concluding:
"To be consistent, the Guardian's comment pages will need to cover this story in the following manner. Madeleine Bunting will have to write a hand-wringing explanation of how the attacks are an inevitable reaction to the 'provocation' of Obama's election, while urging us to understand the hurt feelings of a minority that has experienced systematic discrimination against its white supremacist beliefs. Jonathan Steele will surely need to remind us that these incidents have nothing to do with a supposed racist 'ideology', but instead have their root cause in the complex interplay of disadvantage and prejudice suffered by white people. And Seamus Milne will conclude that we shouldn't blame the perpetrators of the attacks but rather the American people, for having dared to elect a black president: in other words, as always, America is to blame."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fascism watch: Iran

From LabourStart:

Iran: Protest intensified repression against labour activists - No to whippings and executions!
Sousan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi.Repression against labour activists in Iran is intensifying. In recent weeks, there have been numerous cases of arrests and jailings. Most shocking perhaps was the sentencing of two women labour activists (Sousan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi, pictured) to 15 lashes and four months in prison -- for the "crime" of participating in a May Day celebration.

Additional cases which concern us include:

Mr. Abdullah Khani, 40 lashes and 91 days in prison
Mr. Seyed Qaleb Hosseini, 50 lashes and 6 months in prison
Mr. Khaled Hosseini, 30 lashes and suspended prison sentence
Mr. Farzad Kamangar, a Kurdish teacher, sentenced to death
Mr. Afshin Shams, arrested
Mr. Mansour Osanloo, leader of Tehran's bus workers, in prison since July 2007

Puncturing lies

Terry punctures lies about Afghanistan

And Graeme on a similar subject. (The disgusting Jonathan Steele, who once said the Taliban were flexible and girl-friendly, is one of his targets; the less disgusting Johann Hari is his other.)

Fascism watch: Italy

Marko AH sent me an appeal from Italian activists fighting the ad personam laws proposed by the Berlusconi government in Italy. Basically, the government wants to make its leading members immune from prosecution. (The context being the on-going investigations into Silvio Berlusconi for corruption, bribery and attempts to pervert the course of justice.) The proposed law puts the executive above the law, and is another step by this heinous government towards fascism.

To sign the petition, click here. I notice my comrades Big Norm and Shalom Lappin among the early signatories.

UPDATE: More on Italy's disturbing blend of apathy, racism and authoritarianism (via Claude in the bulging comments box here.)

Previous: Mr Alemanno strikes again, On anti-Roma racism and creping fascism in Italy; Italy's fascist revival; Fascism in Italy and anti-fascism in Britain; Anti-Gypsyism in Italy; Something for the weekend: Roma hate

Fascism watch: New Zealand

A while back I posted on Reading the Maps' exposé of antisemitic conspiracy theorising on New Zealand talk radio, eliciting a fairly vigorous response from readers in the comments thread. Maps continues the good work, exposing the racist psuedo-science circulating from the NZ neo-Nazi scene, claiming a pre-Maori white presence in New Zealand. This stuff is fascinating. See here, here and here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bob and Jesus

From Jogo:
From The Forward, a review of a new documentary about Bob Dylan's Jesus years. The director, Joel Gilbert (interesting fellow), sells the DVD on his own website. I'd like to buy it, it's only $15.

Also read about Gilbert's apocalyptic film Farewell, Israel.

Monday morning links

Just four for the moment. Maybe more later

Transpontine says: Cherish your local
On the rough pleasures of the pub

Setting the Woods on Fire: One last post
One of my favourite music bloggers is killed by the corporate proprietorial juggernaut

Someday I'l treat you good: A break
One of my favourite local local bloggers signs out, for the moment

David Hirsh on the Israelis = Nazis meme
Thanks to Toby E for the shout in the comments!

More links from ED Kain, mainly in the aftermath of the Obama victory.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Los Desterrados

The fantastic Sephardic band, Los Desterrados, interviewed by Jewish Socialist.

Keywords: Ladino music

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Punishment for self hating anti-Israel Jewish traitors

I had to read this (from Ami Isseroff at ZioNation) twice before I got it's point, which I agree with. Sly.

(H/T: TNC)

UPDATE: (a) Jogo gives Bob a demerit for linking to this. If the irony is too subtle to get, it's too subtle to be worth it. (b) Here, Flesh is Grass explains it, for those who don't get it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Israeli bossa nova

One more for my Jew-ish music series: Yehudit Ravitz. I'm not sure who wrote "Samba Para Dos". Was it Lalo Schifren, Argentinian Jewish genius?

Previous: Fly Varig to Tel Aviv

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11th

Paul Stott writes:

At last years Bash the Rich march in Notting Hill, I think Ian Bone and I were probably the only people wearing Poppies.

I can't see anything wrong with supporting ex-servicemen's charities, so make no apologies for mentioning this years Poppy Appeal.

Earlier this year Ian got a very mixed response when he argued in favour of the old fashioned red poppy on his blog. When you think of some of the shit people on the left and in the Anarchist movement support - from the Al- Sadr Brigade to Hezbollah or even the Unabomber - wearing a poppy is hardly a crime.

Just do it.
Also: Flesh is Grass 1 & 2

And one more: Barnsdale CW.


I love this image

H/t: Darren

A land without people for a people without land

The Maldives are one of the lands in the frontline of global climate change. A small rise in the sea level brought on by the melting of the polar ice caps will lead to 80% of the islands disappearing under water. Last month, the Maldives held their first democratic election, and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, dictator since 1978 (and a Muslim Brotherhood follower) was replaced by Mohamed Nasheed, a democratic activist imprisoned several times under Gayoom, was sworn in yesterday.

Interestingly, one of Nasheed's first public statements suggested the country's tourism income would be saved up to buy a new homeland for the Maldivian people. He mentioned a few places that might sell land - and, crucially, sovereignty over that land - but has not yet negotatiated with those countries.

In a world tightly packed with nation states, to use Zygmunt Bauman's phrase, every state needs a nation and every nation needs a state. Although people might sympathise with the Maldives' plight, how many countries are willing to transfer land? Of course, the nation-states of today were often built on the mass transfer of people in order to create ethnically homogeneous nations - the huge forced migration of Christian people out of "Turkey" and of "Turkish" people out of the Balkans as the Ottoman Empire gave way to the nation-state order, the trauma of Partition in Indian sub-continent, the much smaller scale displacement of the people who came to be known as Palestinians when Israel was created and subsequent transfer/purging of Jewish Arabs to the new state. But now the patchwork quilt is filled up, will there be room for the people of the Maldives.

It brings to mind the various utopian Territorialist hopes that flourished in the margins of the Jewish nationalist movement from the late 19th century until the creation of the state of Israel: Herzl's Argentina plan, the British "Uganda" Programme, the Galveston Project supported by Israel Zangwill, the Kimberley Project, Birobidzhan the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in Manchuria, the Japanese Fugu Plot also for Manchuria, and sundry other plans for Ecuador, Suriname and elsewhere...

For a no state solution!

For those killed at Haymarket 121 years ago today

David Edelshtat. "Der 11-ter November".
Translated from Yiddish by Ori Kiritz
Again the blood-red banners are fluttering !
Freedom’s holy voice is ringing !
Again the people are reminded
Of the fighters who lived and died for them !
In world history again we will
Turn over and find the page of martyrs
Which is still fresh with the blood of our brothers,
Murdered by money-sacks, church and state !
Five spirits stained with blood will hover
Over the people’s-tribune among suffering slaves ;
And they will give us invincible courage
To live and die for freedom and justice !
They will remind us of the will
Which they left for the workers :
"Fight for your freedom ! No evil beast
Should drive you away from the holy post !"
"Don’t be afraid of the hangmen and their gallows !
Fight and ring the freedom-bell !
And announce to the slaves of all the world
That that very day would be the day of liberation !"
And on both shores of the great ocean
The slaves of all the nations
Will give each other in friendship a brother-hand
And swear to annihilate chains and thrones...

H/t: Arieh. From: Kiritz, Ori. The Poetics of Anarchy : David Edelshtat’s Revolutionary Poetry. Vol. 88. Frankfurt : Lang, Europaischer Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1997

Friday, November 07, 2008


Not sure what I think of this:
Baruch atah ha-shem... Mark Kleiman on Barack Obama

John McCain

In Britain, most people started following the US election campaign fairly late. Obama was an exciting, interesting star, Palin was a hate figure, plugging into all of the European prejudices and stereotypes about "Americans", but McCain was never perceived by the general public here as anything other than a slightly better version of GW Bush. Because they started following the campaign around when he morphed into some sort of Reaganite low-tax-strong-defence bruiser, most British people had no idea of the previous McCain, who I had admired. I haven't spoken to enough people since, but many were suprised at what nice guy he seemed when he made his fantastic concession speech.

Stateside, Jeff W gets that right:
The Mac is Back: John McCain's concession speech last night was impressively gracious, unusually eloquent, visibly heartfelt, and (how else can one put it?) genuinely patriotic. This sounded like the John McCain whom many had come to admire over the years (as opposed to the John McCain who, over the past several months, has increasingly sounded like a jerk).

For those of you who didn't hear McCain's concession speech last night, I recommend listening to it now. It was an honorable and valuable end to a campaign that (honesty compels me to add) deserved to lose.

P.S. Talking of big-hearted conservatives, a shockingly nice David Horowitz. (H/t jogo)

P.P.S. This from the ever-wise Victor Davis Hanson:
Let me understand the current media analysis of John McCain: 2000—“Old” John McCain runs against the more conservative George Bush and loses, so he’s declared principled and good; mid-2008—“new” John McCain runs against a messianic Barack Obama and could win, so he’s ruthless, quasi-racist, and bad; late 2008—“new-old” John McCain loses against Obama and makes a typically gracious speech, so suddenly he’s the new ‘old’ John McCain again?

Yet more Goldsmiths events

If you are around New Cross, London, next week:

The Invisibility of the Commons A talk by Peter Linebaugh Organised by the Xenos Research Group, Department of Sociology, and the Department of Anthropology 5.00pm - 7.00pm, Tuesday, 11 November Lecture Theatre, Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths.
If you wish to attend please contact Alberto Toscano: xenos@gold.ac.uk.

Peter Linebaugh is Professor of History at the University of Toledo. He is the author of The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century and coauthor (with Marcus Rediker) of Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic [find out more].
Saroj Giri, Xenos Visiting Fellow, gives two talks on communalism, secularism and the Left in India: Critique as Ideology: The Dissident Left and Maoists in India (organised with the Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Politics) Wednesday 12 November, 6.00-7.00pm. Room 307, Richard Hoggart Building.

Hegemonic Secularism, Dominant Communalism: Imagining Social Transformation in India (organised by the Xenos Research Group) Thursday 13 November, 6.00-7.00pm. Room 307, Richard Hoggart Building.

These events are free - all are welcome. Please email xenos@gold.ac.uk for further details.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Levantine folk, Cantorial music and surf rock

I never knew that surf rock legend Tarantino favourite Dick Dale is Lebanese-American, or that his classic "Misirlou" is basically a Greek/Middle Eastern rembetika/folk song about relationships across ethno-religious lines. Nor did I know that the great Harry Smith recorded a version of it by the Lower East Side rabbi, Naftali Zvi Margolies Abulafia (grandfather of the fascinating Lionel Ziprin). Nor did I know anything about the Yiddish version by radio crooner Seymour Rexite and his wife Mirim Kressyn. Nor did I know that the Klezmer Conservatory Band (including Don Byron) and Pete Seeger both did versions.

Read about and listen to some of these here and here.

Previous: Afro-Semitic, Jewish vinyl culture, Persia/Al-Andalus, Music for Maniacs/Jewish exotica, Arab musics, Baghdadi and Armenian shellac/Moe Asch

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

This website is brilliant. (H/t Jogo)

All Hungary 1956 posts

And a couple more

And here's two blogs I've never visited before but certainly will again: the Institute of Conjunctural Research (h/t Max) and Left Hawk (h/t TNC)

Fall foliage

The New Centrist has a great round-up of some excellent blog posts from around the 'sphere. I am stealing it and pasting it here, as every link is worth a click.

P.S. (from Bob) I'm probably not going to have time to write my final US election day post I've been meaning to write all week. Check out this post and the discussions in the comment thread.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Immigrant songs 2

Reposted here.

Following this post, Martin M has posted this, with Christy Moore's gorgeous version of Woodie Guthrie's "Deportee", Martin's favourite version.

I have nearly half a dozen versions on the computer I'm typing this on, and a couple more on vinyl at my mum and dad's house. Some of the best are Cisco Houston, Bruce Springsteen, Barbara Danes and Arlo Guthrie. Although I was exposed to Woody Guthrie at a young age (folkie Communist fellow travelling family), the first version I heard, as a teenager, was that on The Byrds' Ballad of Easy Rider, one of the best albums ever. It was made after Gene Clark (whose version featured in this post).

If you're into this stuff, check this. Oh, and if you're American, you probably don't need me (or him, or him) to tell you to go and vote.

All Woody Guthrie posts here.

Keywords: folk music, mp3

Reggae and the National Front

Not sure if I've already linked to this.

Keywords: fascism, anti-fascism, music

Feel the power! (Now with even more power)

I haven't checked my Wikio rating since July, when I was the 160th most influential UK blogger, above Johan Hari. (Well, I guess he's not exactly a blogger is he.) Well, even though I feel my blogging has declined rather in the last month or two, I am now at no.87, one point ahead of my friend Neil Clark, eight points ahead of Derek Wall, ahead of Peter Hitchens and the Guardian's theatre blog, ahead, even, of Pub Philosopher and Craig Murray (whose top post right now is called "The Balding Butt Plug", which probably explains that). There is clearly no standard of measuring influence more scientific and objective than Wikio's.*

Incidentally, thanks to Ms Flesh is Grass for pointing this out to me. Her e-mail told me I am ahead of Harry's Place, which isn't true, but she sent her e-mail as November was just being born, so maybe I fared even better last month.

*Of course, linking to all of these people now I am probably boosting their wikio ratings so they pull ahead of me. That's the kind of selfless blogger I am.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mr. Alemanno strikes again…

kiddingthecity [dot] org on Italian fascism

Previous: On anti-Roma racism and creping fascism in Italy; Italy's fascist revival; Fascism in Italy and anti-fascism in Britain; Anti-Gypsyism in Italy; Something for the weekend: Roma hate

New Cross past and future

Event next week at Goldsmiths. Some of the films feature people who spoke at the excellent Lewisham '77 event last year, including Les Back and Lez Henry. Blog links: Sonic Diaspora at Trinketization; Transpontine on the New Cross column; Science & Truth Talkaoke; Talkoake SE1; Talkaoke.com; Lezlee Lyrix MySpace; Reggae and the NF.

Deptford.TV Premieres: Black History Month

Documentary film screenings


Four short films made by Goldsmiths MA Screen Documentary students for Deptford.TV on Deptford’s black history. They look at the story of reggae sound systems in the area, the growth of the black community here, and the racist violence of the 1970s and 1980s, including the New Cross Fire.

Location: Council Chamber, Deptford Town Hall Building
Cost: Free
Time: 5 November 2008, 16:30 - 17:15

Talkoake se14 6af: What will New Cross be?

Participatory democracy // TV gameshow // imagine the future of New Cross


Goldsmiths, University of London, is located in the heart of the dynamic and diverse neighbourhood of New Cross. The area is home to emerging creative businesses, deprived council estates and large numbers of students. How do these different communities interact?

A small row of terraced houses along New Cross Road, owned by Goldsmiths, hosts several much-loved local businesses – among them the wonderful Cafe Crema, the world-renowned Prangsta and Danse Macabre design and clothing outlets. New Cross is changing, with the development of parts of the Goldsmiths campus, new luxury residential developments, and the opening of several creative industry businesses. What is the future of New Cross?

As property portfolios are rationalised, it seems possible that the entire street will be swallowed up in a new development. What will happen to Crema and the creative culture it has helped to foster in the area?

On the 5th of November, you are invited to Deptford Town Hall to air your views and envision possible futures at a public Talkaoke, an interactive audience-led talk show on the future of the area.

Talkaoke is is the spontaneous, global/local talk show where anyone can take a seat and air their views around the doughnut of chat. The format was created by The People Speak – a public art collective that develops 'tools for the world to take over itself'. The purpose of this event is to bring together as diverse a collection of interest groups as possible, and provide a safe and enjoyable format for them to challenge each other's perceptions and plans for the area in a constructive way.

The Centre for the study of Global Media and Democracy http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/global-media-democracy/
The Centre for Urban and Community Research http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/cucr/
Goldsmiths Media and Communications http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/media-communications/

Deptford.TV http://deptford.tv/

The People Speak http://theps.net//

Location: Council Chamber, Deptford Town Hall Building
Cost: Free
Time: 5 November 2008, 17:15 - 20:30

Previous/related: Deptford cinematic; LKJ 1981; Dennis Bovell in dub; NX, NX; Save our pubs, Sarf London; Foxes of New Cross; Red Saunders.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Immigrant songs

The wonderful Locust St and a big bag of songs about immigration.

Previous immigrant songs.
Duke Ellington, Immigration Blues.
Bob Dylan, I Pity The Poor Immigrant.
Arthur Kylander, Siirtolaisen Ensi Vastuksia (The Immigrant’s First Difficulties).
Little Oscar Gang, Ole (A Norwegian Immigrant Arrives In the USA).
Pat White, I'm Leaving Tipperary.
Frank Quinn, An Irish Farewell.
The Pogues, Thousands Are Sailing.
Cherish the Ladies, The Back Door.
Big Audio Dynamite, Beyond the Pale.
Neil Diamond, America.
Arthur Collins, The Argentines, the Portuguese and the Greeks.
Kos Hristos, Xenos Ime Ki Iltha Tora (I Am an Immigrant and I Just Came Home).
Rita Abatzi, M'Ekapses Ameriki (America, You Ruined Me).
Dr. Antonio Menano, Fado do Emigrante (Song of the Immigrant).
Marilyn Cooper, Chita Rivera, et al, America.
Gaytan y Cantu, La Discrimination.
Juanito Valderamma, El Emigrante.
Gene Clark and Carla Olson, Deportee (Plane Crash at Los Gatos).
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Welcome, Welcome Emigrante.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Orleans in South London

About a decade ago I read Jools Holland in interview saying that South London is Britain's Mississippi Delta. Before the Thames Barrier was built, the Thames would regularly break its Southern bank. The land between the Thames and the old Watling Street (now the A2) would regularly be underwater: South of the Watling Street, on the hillsides, are where the Victorian boureoisie would settle, now a series of re-gentrified "conservation areas"; North of the Watling Street were the riverine riff-raff. Jools Holland was actually born on the dry side, in Blackheath, but I think he's right that there's something about the precarious living that characterised both Deptford and the land between the Peabody Hotel and the end of Catfish Row, something that drives a special sort of creativity.

At any rate, tomorrow and Saturday, the O2 on the North Greenwich Penninsular is hosting a free New Orleans festival. I've never been to the O2 (and only once to its predecessor, the Dome: to attend the worst of all of Ken Livingstone's [I nearly wrote "the late Ken Livingstone's"] "Respect" festivals, a bad experience as the burly entrance guards confiscated all of my booze on entry); it always seemed like too "corporate" a venue for someone as cool as me.

But check out the line-up: Dr John, Allen Toussaint, Buckwheat Zydeco, Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins, Marcia Ball - some of the best musicians of our age.

Listen: Dr John at Star Maker Machine. Allen Toussaint at Scott Ford Radio, at Roll & Grady, at The Leather Canary.

Related posts: Where is Sarf London?; Pigfeet in Brixton; South London cinematic; Jerry Wexler (featuring Deptford's Dire Straits and N'Orlins' Dr John); Brass (featuring Rebirth); Katrina anniversary soundtrack; An anarchist letter from New Orleans; Randy Newman "Rednecks".

Elsewhere: Deptford music; Celebrating NOLA; Dear Dr Beats; Blogarhythms on Allen Toussaint.

UPDATE: History is Made at Night on Mardi Gras

Friday, October 17, 2008

Outta here

Am taking a few days off for family stuff, so while I'm gone, read my best three recent posts, which were too long for you to bother with the first time:

East End antifascist history

A big day out with David Rosenberg, via Mira at HP

(Go on one of his walks yourself if you can!)

Two versions

On Press TV.

Version 1: more or less true
Press TV promoted coverage of Holocaust Denial, hosting a work from the disgraced former honorary research fellow [12] at University College London, Dr. Nicholas Kollerstrom.
Dr. Kollerstrom had been shown to have authored articles on web-resource [13], Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) [14]. He has also featured on a BBC documentary in which he elucidates his belief that the 7 July 2005 London bombings were conducted by British and American and Israeli security services [15].
Subsequently, Press TV commissioned him to write an essay to which Press TV staff added the preface: “the West punishes people for their scientific research on Holocaust but the same western countries allow insults to prophets and religious beliefs” [16] [17]. In the UK disagreement with and ridicule of religious beliefs is not prohibited. Dr. Kollerstrom has not been punished by the state for his articles advocating Holocaust Denial.
Dr. Kollerstrom is acquainted with Michele Renouf, a British-based Australian fascist and International Third Position sympathiser, who promotes Holocaust denial [18]. She is featured regularly on Press TV and also claims to have been instrumental to getting Dr. Kollerstrom hired by the station [19].
Version 2: completely true, but not the whole truth
The Jerusalem Post[10], the anti-fascist campaign Searchlight[11] and others[12][13] have attacked Press TV for publishing, on its official website, an article by Nicholas Kollerstrom[14], an academic whose honorary fellowship was withdrawn by University College London following his promulgation of Holocaust denial [15]. Press TV has also broadcast programmes featuring the prominent Holocaust Denier, Michele Renouf [16].
Canadian weekly Macleans has alleged that Press TV sometimes publishes so-called "intentional errors", citing a story on the Press TV website which claims that the Lebanese government is trying to convert the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp into an American military base. Macleans says that most of Press TV's news reports are factually accurate.[17]

Something more like the whole truth here.

Just for the record like...