The Trump Saga part CLXXXVI…

August 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm (Uncategorized)

For a bourgeois politicians, denouncing Nazis, racism etc, ought to be a slam-dunk, especially after  one of them cops a move from ISIS lone wolves and drives a car into a crowd. Guess not.

When people perceive you as “political, ” you get asked questions about politics. And for months, I confidently explained to people how Trump couldn’t win, and as I watched the election results come in, I was hit with a blinding realization, “He’s going to win.”  (Oddly, enough people still ask me for my opinion).

I’m certainly not going to predict the end is nigh, but I do wonder how long can this go on before there is a real breech in the bourgeois norms. (Of, course, I’ve been wrong before)

 

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Starship Storm Troopers: Michael Moorcock on Authoritarianism in SF

July 28, 2017 at 11:47 am (Uncategorized)

After I posted the Times piece, I remembered this little essay. Too long to repost the entire thing, here’s a link to the essay on authoritarian and fascist themes in science fiction.

Starship Stormtroopers by Michael Moorcock

 

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Revolutionary Science Fiction?

July 28, 2017 at 11:43 am (Uncategorized)

Now here’s an oddity. I didn’t really think I’d see the New York Times discussing Bogdanov (well worth investigating), J. Posadas (loony Argentine Trot) and Star Trek, but here;s the Article: ‘Make it So’: Star Trek and its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism

I will just point out that the phrase “Make it so’ is from Next Generation with Patrick Stewart, while the picture is of William Shatner from the original series. Nerd!

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Music Notes July 2017

July 28, 2017 at 11:35 am (Uncategorized)

And off we go!

1 The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band

I’ve never been a Beatles fan, but since this record is now enjoying its 50th anniversary, I thought I’d give it a mention. I know everyone says this is the greatest British record of all time, but it doesn’t do it for me. I’ve heard the songs, and while it works better as a single sitting, it doesn’t move me; except “She’s Leaving Home” which still makes me cry. To each his own.

2. The Punk Singer

Sini Anderson’s documentary about Bikini Kill, Le Tigra, Julie Ruin frontwoman Kathleen Hanna. Well worth watching this informative and excited film. Lots of cool footage.

3. 75 Dollar Bill – Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock

An instrumental  duo from New York who sound as if they spent a lot of time listening to Spacemen 3 and desert blues create something marvellous.  My favourite discovery this month.

4. X-Ray Spex – Let’s Submerge: The Anthology

I’m as good as my word. After mentioned their only record last month, I sought the extended version. This has everything from the album along with the singles, but so much more: Demos, Peel sessions, Live at the Roxy, studio demos. It even includes Polly’s pre-Spex debut single (cute, but forgettable), and an entirely unnecessary cover of “Age” which appears on her first solo album.

5. Soft Cell – “Wave Hello Say Goodbye.”

My favourite Soft Cell song recently cropped up in an episode of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. It’s a perfect pop song, and anything I can add doesn’t do it justice.

6 Blondie –Pollinator 

Hey, a new Blondie album; something to be excited about. Never thought I’d say that. Sure, I have the first three records, but after that, I lose interest. This is a return to that early punky Shangri-Las sound. And it’s pro-bee!

7. Danny Says

If you saw Zelig, you remember he seemed to be at the heart of everything. Always in the background, but always there. Here’s the truth. Danny Fields is Zelig. The Doors, the MC5, the Stooges, The Velvet Underground, the Ramones. So much more. Every cool band, Danny was part of that story. Hell, he’s the one who ruined America for the Beatles by reprinting the “Bigger than Jesus” interview. Fascinating.

8. The Regrettes – “Fox on the Run”

Ah…I really like this cover.

 

9. The Last Pogo Jumps Again 

The Last Pogo was a film about a punk show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto featuring many of the big names from the scene. This is a full length documentary (almost 3 hours) about that scene.It’s an astonishing look at what was and what should have been featuring the Diodes, the Demics, the Viletones, the B-Girls, the Ugly and many, many more. Go and find this, then search for the bands. It won’t be easy, but it’s worth it.

10. Pavement “Cut your Hair”

Decided to watch Netflix’s new show Friends from College (basically Friends a few years later, but with infidelity). The Pavement song is the theme. Hadn’t heard it in a while, but now I want to listen to all of those Pavement albums again.

OK then.

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Napoleon..? He’s dynamite.

July 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm (Uncategorized)

We can all recall George Santayana’s aphorism, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but what about those who don’t seem to understand what history is?

  • Last week in an interview with the New York Times, Trump seemed to think Napoleon and Napoleon III were the same person (I also wonder what “extra-curricular” activities Napoleon was involved in that prevented him from going to Russia)
  • During Black History month, he gave the impression he thought Frederick Douglass was still alive
  • Previously, he asserted that people don’t know that Lincoln was a Republican
  • In an interview, he took credit for the Keynesian phrase “priming the pump”

I could go on, my I’m gripped by a growing terror.

Is Trump operating on dog time in which everything is present tense and for whom history is a vague memory? (My dog is excited when I return to the house after ten minutes or ten days – the reaction is the same) . Certainly, if you can’t remember the past, it makes it easier to lie with such breathless abandon.

It should go without saying that I intend no disrespect to dogs in this post. They are noble beasts.

 

 

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The Life and Times of Anarchist Bookfairs

July 24, 2017 at 5:56 pm (Uncategorized)

This time of year is usually pretty busy for me. Normally, this past weekend would have seen the holding of the Toronto Anarchist bookfair. It’s usually a two-day event at the Steelworkers’ Hall downtown and features workshops, literature tables, and free food! I’ve tabled at this events for years, but have helped in a more concrete fashion for the last few years – at the 2015 and 2016 bookfairs, I gave talks on “Libertarian literature” and “The Geography of Freedom.” This year, the event didn’t happen, largely as a result of too few people being involved, on the organizing level (feel free to insert a joke about anarchist organization here if you like) and those that were willing realizing the task was beyond them.  There was some talk of others taking over the event, but it came to naught. I’m not an anarchist, but I share aspects of  the critique (I still identify as a Marxist, but as I grow older I like labels, less and less) sure, there’s plenty I disagree with at the bookfair, but bringing hundreds of people together to discuss radical politics is never a bad thing. Oddly enough, despite the number of Trotskyist and ML groupings in Toronto, there has never seldom been a sustained radical bookfair presence outside of the anarchists (the only exception might be the fair that the International Women’s Day Committee event). But we could probably hazard an entirely accurate guess as to why that is.

Montreal on the other hand has had a flourishing anarchist bookfair for almost two decades. The first bookfair I attended was in 2000, and twice since then, the bookfair has expanded into larger premises. Thousands of people come to its event, and while I’m uncertain as to how it ranks in North America, it’s certainly the larger in Canada. . This year, I went with my son to see(He’s interested in politics and wanted to practice his French – winner, winner, vegan dinner! But to be honest, this year, the bookfair in Montreal seemed smaller, less political. My sales were down from previous years, but that isn’t anything to base a definite conclusion on. However, the table next to me was doing a roaring business in patches with slogans like “Fuck patriarchy” and homemade underwear. A quick wander around the bookfair seemed to have a greater presence of D.I.Y. crafts and posters, and less political stuff than in previous years. Crowds seemed down too. Now, I’ll admit, I was there only for Saturday, so who can say if things were different the next day.

My sense of these things is not to worry about fluctuations in attendance at this events (or even whether people were interested in Proudhon or panties), as it is the broader social struggle which will determine the success of those events . See you next year.

 

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Summertime Blues (2017 edition)

July 24, 2017 at 5:56 pm (Uncategorized)

I usually have more free time in the summer. One of the things I promised myself was to update this blog more frequently, and now it’s almost August and I have a lot of stuff to do in August.  I will also be posting music notes (about the only thing which does seem to get one regularly) a little earlier this month.

Argh!

So, I’m going to post a few short pieces today, and hope that will get me into the mood again. I am thinking of opening a Notes from Underground twitter account for shorter pieces. So, stay tuned.

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A.D. – Life, Death and Memory

July 16, 2017 at 8:02 pm (Uncategorized)

Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire’s collaboration A.D. is now available as a collected volume.  It’s quite a lovely work considering the connections between life and death, and memory. My father-in-law turned 87 today. I turned 53 last week.  The following has a resonance to it:

“And now all I can think about the biological capital of youth. that essence that thing that you have as a kid, a physical element, but a psychological, even spiritual element – a deep, cellular knowledge that you are rich in life. You have the stuff that matters most. You are buoyant with it. Buoyant. You see it in the way teenagers look at you…that sly, slow-blinking way. Like they’re looking down even when they’re looking up at you, like: I might have acne, I might not be having sex yet, I might not have money or freedom or anything, but I’m richer than you, because I am FULL. ”

A.D After Death Book Three

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The Power of Everyday Subversion

July 10, 2017 at 11:47 am (Uncategorized)

It just feels like a Situationist kind of a day

 

People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.

Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life 

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Music Notes: June 2017

June 30, 2017 at 8:15 pm (Uncategorized)

School’s Out for  Summer, but probably not forever…

1  Chrome – Half Machine Lip Moves

One of the first issues of the New Musical Express that I bought contained a pull-out guide to punk and New Wave . One of the entries was Chrome an grinding post-punk, before that was a thing, pre-industrial, before that was a thing, Krautrock, and that was a thing, band from the US. I ignored it looking for UK punks instead. Wrong. A searing, testing intense album that is utterly compelling.

2. Ultravox – “Hiroshima Mon Amour.”

Seek out the band’s second album Ha Ha Ha. There’s two versions of the song on the record, which neatly chart the band’s future and its past. The alternative version is a lot like Roy Music, the released version, synth-pop. Both great versions of the song, but it’s the synth-pop which is majestic.

3. LCD Soundsystem – “Call the Police “/ “American Dream”

Download single from the band. Listened to it twice, and it’s good. Not great, but maybe enough to convince me that the reunion is not a mistake (although it feels odd given the big dis-band a few years back).  However, I will note that this is usually my reaction to their stuff. Check in next month and I’ll tell you it’s a masterpiece.

4. X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents

I didn’t buy this when it came out, but picked up the CD years later. And I didn’t realize until last year, the Caroline release plays with the running order and adds tracks. Still, quite wonderful. I feel a need to track down the demos and outtakes.

5. The Kills – “Desperado”

I still have mixed feelings about the studio version of their last album (the songs sounded fine live), but this is great. The Kills take on Rihanna.

 

6. Alison Mosshart – “The Passenger”

While I was looking for the link to the video above, I came across this cover of Iggy’s “The Passenger.” Better than Siouxsie’s version, but of course, not anywhere as epic as the Ig’s. From the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack.

 

7. Mojo : Children of  Pepper 

I don’t like the Beatles. There, I’ve said it. It’s not that I hate everything they’ve done. No, I like a lot of their songs and one of my first record buys was the “Red” album. I guess I don’t like the front runner. Still, there’s a good focus piece on Sgt. Pepper  in the new Mojo and a pretty neat CD with it. Not covers, but “inspired by. ” Includes Ty Segall, Cosmonauts, Thee Oh Sees, the Essex Green and more. Worth a listen or two.

8.  The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses 

I plugged this record in a column in 2009. It’s been 8 years, so I think it’s OK to mention it again, especially since they are gigging again. Utterly brilliant. Possibly the greatest British record of all time. Beatles fans and haters, ready your keyboards.

9. The Velvet Underground – “Rock and Roll”

I was in a coffee shop recently, and this song came on. I stopped and listened and waited for it to end before I left the store. When I got home from work, I listened to Loaded. Still remarkable.

10. Ruth Pearson

I didn’t know the name either, but Pearson was a longtime member of the Top of the Pops dance troupe Pan’s People. Not sure how many times I saw TOTP, but pretty much every week until 1980 when I got a job on Thursday night, and they were on for most of that time.  She passed away age 70 on June 27.

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