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.