Friday, September 21, 2007

bittersweet reflection on The Specials

"Their deliberately cheesy soundtrack – the sound that said: all standards are relative; absolutism is intolerable because you can’t dance to it – had been underscored by the same economic and psycho-social security which also underpinned the art school dance of the Sixties and early Seventies. Apart from a few outposts like the Greater London Council, it did not withstand many months of the Falklands Factor and wholesale attacks on the working class in Britain...

YouTube - The Specials - Ghost Town

Thursday, September 20, 2007

must-read The Cure for the Iraq War Hangover

"In all seriousness, the one saving grace of all of this is that America in the years since the end of the Vietnam War has evolved in a direction of such extraordinary collective stupidity that it is entirely possible that even after the inevitable helicopters-leaving-Baghdad moment, a huge plurality of the population will not even be aware that we just lost another war..."
Perry Anderson: Depicting Europe

"Europe was eager to help America, whether or not fine print obliged it to do so. North, south, east and west: no part of the continent failed to join in. New Labour’s contribution occasions no surprise: with up to 650,000 civilians dead from the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, it would have been unreasonable for the Straws, Becketts, Milibands to lose any sleep over the torture of the living. More striking is the role of the neutrals. Under Ahern, Ireland furnished Shannon to the CIA for so many westbound flights that locals dubbed it Guantánamo Express. Social-democratic Sweden, under its portly boss Göran Persson, now a corporate lobbyist, handed over two Egyptians seeking asylum to the CIA, who took them straight to torturers in Cairo. Under Berlusconi, Italy helped a large CIA team to kidnap another Egyptian in Milan, who was flown from the US airbase in Aviano, via Ramstein in Germany, for the same treatment in Cairo.10 Under Prodi, a government of Catholics and ex-Communists has sought to frustrate the judicial investigation of this kidnapping, while presiding over the expansion of Aviano. Switzerland proffered the overflight that took the victim to Ramstein, and protected the head of the CIA gang that seized him from arrest by the Italian judicial authorities – he now basks in Florida.

Further east, Poland did not transmit captives to their fate in the Middle East, but incarcerated them for treatment on the spot, in torture chambers constructed for ‘high-value detainees’ by the CIA at the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence base, Europe’s own Baghram – facilities unknown in the time of Jaruzelski’s martial law. In Romania, a military base north of Constanza performed the same services, under the superintendence of the country’s current president, the staunchly pro-Western Traian Basescu. In Bosnia, six Algerians were illegally seized at American behest, and flown from Tuzla – beatings in the aircraft en route – to the US base at Incirlik in Turkey, and thence to Guantánamo, where they still crouch in their cages. In Macedonia, scene of Blair’s moving encounters with refugees from Kosovo, there was a combination of the two procedures, as a German of Lebanese descent was kidnapped at the border; held, interrogated and beaten by the CIA in Skopje; then drugged and shipped to Kabul for more extended treatment..."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

droll essay about Chairman Frank's wonderful "concept" album Watertown, though admittedly not as strong on the music as it should be--

"I think critics paint with too broad a brush in thinking that Watertown was an effort to attract the Woodstock generation—an effort Sinatra even at his most deluded must have realized was hopeless. Demographics do not break down into neat packets, with the Wake Island generation yielding directly to the Woodstock generation. The bulk of Sinatra's listeners were in fact tweeners slightly younger than himself. Tom Brokaw is unlikely to write a book-length encomium to this generation... But hey, they fought the Korean war, and they were the real Watertown generation—young enough to have their marriages wrecked by the sexual revolution, but too old to enjoy the benefits of women's lib and consequence-free copulation..."

(a download with a nice note)

turning back, after an immense interval, to the poems of D.H. Lawrence I found these two essays by Kenneth Rexroth pungent & useful--

"Sentimentality is spiritual realization on the installment plan. Socially viable patterns, like conventional verse, are a sort of underwriting or amortization of the weaknesses of the individual. This is the kernel of sense in the hollow snobbery of Valéry. The sonnet and quatrain are like the national debt, devices for postponing the day of reckoning indefinitely. All artistic conventions are a method of spiritual deficit-financing. If they were abandoned, the entire credit structure of Poets, Ltd., would be thrown into hopeless confusion. It is just as well that the professors have led the young, in my lifetime, away from free verse to something that can be taught. No one could be taught to be Lawrence, but in a world where the led lead the leaders, those who might pretend to do so are sure to be confidence men..."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Glenn Greenwald

"That is why what they say -- all of their sober prognostications and warnings and analyses -- is meaningless. All of the talk about "worst options" and alleged fears of what will happen if we withdrawal and our "strategic interests" all just mask the simple truth that we are going to stay -- even when their own premises amount to an acknowledgement that there is no point in staying -- because we are staying to protect the reputations and credibility and egos of the Washington Establishment.

As much as our political class disgraced itself with its obsequious support for the invasion itself, and further disgraced itself with its complicity in the endless claims (including from the General Whose Credibility Must Not Be Questioned) that things were going well when the opposite was true, their behavior over the last twelve months -- when even they admit that the war is a failure and keep promising to support withdrawal only never to do so -- is the undeniable evidence of how corrupt and worthless they really are..."

Five Bucks On By-Tor

"Five Bucks On By-Tor is devoted to the lesser-known heroes of Canadian musical history...."

discovering & recovering Black Pearls & Ascension--

"Black Pearls is a transitional recording, one that allowed him to create the astonishing sessions for Atlantic from '59 to '61. Why, then, did I fear the LP? I knew it had nothing to do with the abstracted warnings in the liner notes. (Even as a teenager, I never blindly accepted the critics' voice.) Nor could the cover--which now just looks like a fine, somewhat overdramatized portrait of a heroic figure in my life--have generated such an extreme response. Could I place the LP in my memory the way we re-shelve records or CDs and locate that history? I kept playing the recording, hoping that music, as it so often does, would recover lost memory. Then I stared at the album until my eyes unfocused the way Coltrane's saxophone does on the cover, refracted light off the keys blurring to circles, the bell shadowed into the background, until I could see an old woman in a chair placed close to my mother's bedside, and she gave me the answer..."

via bookslut--Beckett for Babies