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;; 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
The Centre for Urban and Community Research
Goldsmiths Media and Communications


The People Speak

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...


Here's something that has so far slipped through the net of my Jew-ish music series: David Chevan, the Afro-Semitic Experience, and their Yizkor Project with Chazzan Alberto Mizrahi. Read and listen here for a taste.

More: Afro-Semitic Experience at MySpace; Chevan's Yizkor Project at MySpace; Theodore Bikel and Alberto Mizrahi at YouTube; Alberto Mizrahi; Chevan's site.

And today I don't need to blog because...

... Kellie's round-up is better than mine would be. (And when you've read those, this follows on nicely.)

P.S. at 16:36: Well, I guess I ignored my own advice, and blogged a bit more than I meant to!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And You Shall Know us by the Trail of our Vinyl

It's not that I'm obsessed with Eden Ahbez, but I couldn't help noticing the mention of him in a description of And you shall know us by the trail of our vinyl. This book, by the Reboot Stereophonic guys, looks fantastic. An alternative narrative of the history of North American Jewry, via its vinyl culture, taking in the Barry Sisters, Johnny Mathis, Theodore Bikel and others. It turns out they have a wonderful blog, featuring sacred moog magician Gershon Kingsley, a Mathis Kol Nidre, Johnny Yune in Hebrew, some fantastic Yiddishe/Chicano mambo, and our old favourite the Jewish cowboy. Go feast on it!

The Jewish/Latin connection is also a feature of the ouevre of Bert Berns, a close colloborator of Jerry Wexler and another Jewish backroom guy who helped shape the history of soul music. His story is highlighted in a recent excellent blog post at Captain's Crate. (From the same source, listen too to Jewish Latin god Larry Harlow, "El Judio Maravilloso".)

Previous: Nappy Brown in Yiddish, Mickey Katz, Harold Stern Jewish cowboy, Theo Bikel, Irving Fields, Lionel Bart, Pearl Williams, Yiddish Beatles, Harry Dean Stanton's Hava Nagila, Mariachi Chet Baker, Doc Pomus and Israeli bossa nova.
Keywords: music, mp3

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Around the web

I guess I have eased up a bit on my blogging in last few days. But ED Kain has surfed the web so I don't have to.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Blogging the credit crunch

Both Pub Philosopher and Matt Selwood ask where is the left - and leftist bloggers - on the credit crunch. I realise that the most important event of recent history - the global financial crisis - has been completely ignored in this blog, in favour of topics such as mad proto-hippy songwriters, insular back-slapping blogospheric sniggering, and so on.

This is basically because I feel I have nothing really to contribute to the debate, no interesting perspective. Norm says he can't help you either (although he continues to provide 20-20 moral clarity). So, here are some things that have helped me think about the crisis.

The absolute best thing I have read about it, from back in January, is "Cityphilia" by John Lanchester in the LRB. This is very well-written, and very clearly explains what has happened. John Barker, in Variant (text/pdf), is also very good, from a more hardcore political position, on the causes and the way the causes have been mis-described in the mainstream media. Interesting, but a lot harder work, and from even more hardcore political positions, are this long piece by D Hamerquist at 3-Way Fight and this from the IWCA. Michael Walzer, a far better writer, is good in this piece in Dissent. Among bloggers, Dave's Part has paid most attention to the crisis.

I have three things to add. First, most British commentators blame the credit crunch on the American sub-prime mortgage market. This in turn implies blame on either (or both of) the banks for profligate lending and the "delinquent" poorer householders who really oughtn't to be homeowners. The reality, however, is that people get mortgages on the assumption of a steady increase in their earnings over time, so that paying out the same amount month by month will get easier. In Bush's America, however, there has been a dramatic drop in wages, in both absolute and relative terms, for a huge proportion of citizens, and it is this that has made sub-prime mortgages problematic. (This is something that those Americans who are considering voting for McCain should think hard about.) Even more striking - as this graph shows - is the growing gap between wages and productivity.

Second, the financial crisis makes clearer the nature of neo-liberal globalisation. To quote an old blog post of mine: contemporary forms of economic inequality are driven by what Peter calls 'a specific model of global capitalism that was not based on free markets, as often stated, but on markets fixed and governed by powerful multi-lateral institutions, which were rapidly transforming societies and destroying communities'. The idea, the ideology, of the free market has been powerful in the long Thatcherite years we've been going through. This has seduced some leftists into imagining a world in which the nation-state is increasingly irrelevant. In fact, the financial crisis shows how dependent the corporations are on the nation-states, and on the multi-lateral institutions which the states anchor, not just to provide security for their "free" competition, but to bail them out when it goes wrong. Risks are socialised while gains are privatised.

Third, for me the crisis shows that Marxism remains a useful tool for understanding the world. I don't fully understand his theory of the falling rate of profit, which he took from Adam Smith and other classical economists, and I know that most mainstream economists and many Marxists no longer accept it. It is nicely summarised here:
firms are required to maximize profits; they have the opportunity of introducing capital-intensive technologies that lower costs, thereby increasing profits in the short run; competition with other profit-maximizing firms pushes prices down to the new cost of production; the rising capital-labor ratio in industry creates a falling rate of profit.
For Marx, this was not a "law" but a tendency: there are countervailing tendencies which offset it, like increased rates of exploitation, the globalisation of capital and the shift of money out of industry into finance. The play of these tendencies is precisely what put us where we are today.

I'll leave the final word to Little Richardjohn, writing a couple of weeks ago:
One lesson of this week is that competitors do not co-operate even in their own survival. The truth is that, with the amount of sheer technological power and historical experience available, the social need for competition has shrivelled to almost nothing. The same power which could be used to provide a decent standard of free life for everyone has been used instead to fuel competition for its own sake. The result being the chaos of regular Depressions, constant wars, the manipulation of the food markets to create profit and starvation, and the sabotage of the climate.
The market-worshipping ideology fashionable until last week was still operating in the Steam Age. It was historically obsolete. A deliberate, perverse attempt to hold back the process of technology which tends to make the lives of more people more bearable and reduce the need for competition and war. The social formula which states that the more technology is available, the less brute labour and competition are necessary to maintain a civil society.

A certain ratio of competition to co-operation has always been needed, but with each labour-saving, information-sharing, pain-relieving advance, there is less need for human beings to fight each other for their survival. The required amount of conflict today must be down at spice level, from its heyday as a bulk staple in the stone age recipe. Never has more technology been available, but making it work for people is not profitable, while making it produce cheap Kalashnikovs, cosmetic surgery and sub-prime mortgages is very profitable - for a short time. But short term profit is now discovered to be a very dangerous thing, it makes planets uninhabitable, and if allowed to rampage, will mean there is no long term to worry about. Wall Street and the City of London will be under thirty foot of water. This week was another warning that if we insist on behaving like cavemen, we will probably end up being cavemen.
[Picture stolen from Matt Miller]

Anti-Racists against Anti-Zionists

Anti-Racists against Anti-Zionists: A newish blog, mining some similar territory to that which I mine.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nature Boy

We did "Nature Boy" Eden Ahbez back here. Now listen to the Nat King Cole version at Art Decade.

Keywords: music

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Top leftists

Iain Dale's idea of what constitutes a "leftist" is rather different than mine. But, as Paul Stott says, Like a stopped clock, Iain Dale is right twice a day. These are from his "top hundred left-wingers".


Respect Councillor

Though many would say she does not deserve to be on a list of lefties at all, being more at home with totalitarianism than democracy, Yacoub is about all that is left of the Respect Coalition after its egos exploded in division and widespread derision – staying loyal to Galloway and working as a councilor in Birmingham. Respect might still deprive Labour of a few seats and contribute to the election of a Conservative government.

70. (-5) CLAIRE FOX

Director, Institute of Ideas

Is she left wing or right wing? Having spent twenty years in the Revolutionary Communist Party you'd think the former, but she's a stout defender of freedom of speech and small government. Her controversial views have led to a burgeoning career in media punditry. [Bob says: If Claire Fox is "left-wing", so is Boris Johnson's advisor Munira Mirza, and half the rest of the RCP sleepers running the Tory party these days...]


Minister for Europe

Jim Murphy is widely thought to have performed well in his current office, despite the disasters of the Lisbon Treaty. He is a good bet for Cabinet promotion if and when there is a reshuffle. A calm and reassuring media performer. [Bob says: I don't like many politicians, but I like Jim Murphy.]


Chair, Commission for Equality & Human Rights Phillips's new position gives him sweeping powers and influence and has led to him being dubbed the "Political Correctness Czar". A great survivor, he has developed some well thought out views on the failures of multiculturalism which have made him enemies on the left. [Bob says: I guess sometimes being politically incorrect is being politically correct, and vice versa.]

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Antisemitism watch: New Zealand

Reading the Maps: Why is Radio Live spreading anti-semitic lies?

Update, Friday:
Reading the Maps: Who got hung, Karyn?

Also see Engage (h/t Mira, comments below)

Chant down the fash

Two loosely related posts:

1. A fantastic post at the great Uncarved blog on reggae music against the National Front in the late 1970s. [P.S. Listen to Steel Pulse at Rollo & Grady here.]

2. Beyond the implode: 9 things I hate about anti-Nazi marches. A funny taxonomy of the idiots you get at anti-"Nazi" marches. Includes: geriatric toddlers, megaphones, minstrels, angry nerds, get 'em merchants, vicars, and others. I noted this bit:
Off on a bit of a tangent here: perfect example of an angry nerd was at the Lewisham '77 30-year anniversary event held last year at Goldsmiths College. OK, there were some good speakers. Ace writer but rubbish deejay Leslie Lyrix gave a very concise and interesting presentation about growing up in the area at the time. Martin Lux (aka Wright), ex-Class War and seasoned fash-basher, even had the old academic biddies giggling in their uncomfortable seats with his passionate oratory. I think Balwinder Rana had permed his chest hair especially for the event, though it might have just been the light. Anyway, it was all going OK, until the panel offered questions to the audience.

Now, the event was tagged 'Lewisham '77' - so what kind of questions might you've expected from the attendees? Maybe something about lessons learned from combating the NF 30 years ago, or some follow-ups on Paul Gilroy's comments on the meanings we attach to 'identity'? No, some angry nerd who didn't look wholly unlike serial killer Denis Nilsen had turned up, so we had to spend 10 minutes listening to him SCREECH like a banshee about...Iraq. Yes, thanks, we know the war's sick, but this isn't the 'Iraq '03' Saturday afternoon conference. But, man did he rant - I'd hate to see how he'd react if anyone spilled his G&T. Whipping himself into a frenzy, he RAGED, SEETHED and HOWLED his bile across the room. I don't think much of SWP stalwarts like Ted Parker, but it wasn't his - or our - bleeding fault about Iraq. But there you go - it could have been an interesting debate, but one seething oaf had to fuck it up, and all due to his desire to be seen gnashing and wailing - when the real target for his frustrations was nowhere in sight.

East End anarchism/radical history

Following on from the Rudolf Rocker and Eleanor Marx stuff I posted, here's some more East End radical history and radical present: