North Korea

June 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm (Uncategorized)

For a while there I was sleeping well. After Trump’s trip and meeting with loopy Stalinist Kim Jong-un (who is apparently more popular among Republicans that Nancy Pelosi) , there was the announcement that even though Kim had made the same empty promise North Korea has been making for decades, nuclear war had been averted. Then of course a week later, the US rhetoric began to creep back and it turned out Kim is upgrading his weapons. Huh.

It feels as if the U.S. research and prep was based on screenings of Team America and The Interview.

Now all we need is the Workers Vanguard article defending the “North Korean deformed workers state” and North Korea’s right to have nuclear weapons. What did they used to call that, the workers’ bomb?

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Music Notes: June 2018

June 30, 2018 at 7:30 pm (Uncategorized)

For some or other reason, there was no May Music notes post, so here’s June.

1 Roxy Music – Roxy Music 

There’s a delulxe edition of the classic debut with a disc of extras including Peel sessions and a live set.  Also in the booklet is an extended essay on the origins of the band which is quite interesting. The original album is pretty great, and the extras are cool versions. Something to consider, even if you’re not a big Roxy fan

2 Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Live at the Garrison

No, not a live album. Rather the band’s Canadian debut. Unfortunately, the band’s debut hadn’t been released at the time of the show, (it’s out now), so I had to make do with repeated listens to the French Press EP. which I recall buying at  Soundscapes, and being instantly hooked by the sound. “Sort of like all your favourite New Zealand bands” read one review, but RBCF aren’t actually from NZ; they hail from Melbourne, Australia. Great show and they’re coming back in September.

On the bill too were Kiwi jr., who, despite their name, were also NOT from New Zealand. But they do also have that jangly Clean/ Bats/NZ sound. They even cover the Clean’s “Thumbs off” to great effect.

3  Link Wray and his Ray Men  – Law of the Jungle (The Swan Demos 64) des,” “Rumble” etc.) and it’s just great. Saw Link at the Horseshoe Tavern sometime in the nineties. Kinda cool to see living legend. This collection from ’64 features slightly different versions of all your favourites (“Deuces Wild”, ” Ace of Spades” and “Rumble”), and because it’s Link Wray, it’s worth a listen.

4. Christian D

Came across this one recently: Christian d Local Toronto act. Rockabilly, punk and more. Free music if you subscribe to the email list. CD out soon.

5 Lydia Lunch

The Hard Luck Bar is just that. Little in the way of frills, but good sound and a big dance floor, so when Lydia Lunch graced its smallish stage back in May it was a treat. . True it was a short set, and there was no encore or merch to get, but it was still a great show. Ms. Lunch wailed a primal blues at us for the better part of an hour. if you were there, you were a part of something big.

6 Public Enemy: Yo! Bum Rush the Show

The first Public Enemy album. Let’s leave aside the misogyny of “Sophisticated Bitch,” the debut PE release is a great Rick Rubin rock-rap record. But who knew what was just around the corner.

7 Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Sparkle Hard 

The seventh album may be the best (at least that’s what people say). Yeah, pretty amazing record. Like much of Malkmus’ work, it plays with pop, punk, country and I dunno oft-kilter stuff. Featuring Kim Gordon on one track. Great stuff.

8 Shilpa Ray – Door Girl

Apparently Shilpa Ray was a door girl once. This latest album contains punk, 50’s style pop, spoken word and everything between. Great live act too, but maybe a new video director is needed (OK, the intro is funny and the song is great, but…)

9 The Telescopes – Splashdown

Now, you really should get this one.  Shoegazer pop with loads of extras. THe second album, EPs, and much more. Really great.

10 Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth 

It doesn’t work in the car, but the minimalist pop of YMG still resonates if you’re home alone.

 

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Marxist Prediction Power (II)

June 6, 2018 at 11:41 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s election day tomorrow in Ontario. and I’m going to revisit my earlier predictions.

  1. I still think the Conservatives are to win, but there are a couple of complicating factors. It seems likely that they will win a majority, but if the Liberal vote collapses and flows to the NDP, they might be denied it in favour of a minority. It remains to be seen whether or not the fact leader Doug Ford’s being sued by his sister-in-law will affect things. My guess is no, but it may cost them a few seats. It’s really amazing that had the party stuck with Patrick Brown or even chosen Christine Elliot to replace him, much of this speculation would have been put to rest. the more you get to know Doug Ford, the less you like him.
  2. Kathleen Wynn took a bold gamble last week, admitting the Liberals would lose the election. On the one hand, it’s nothing people didn’t already know, but to admit it, is usually a NDP strategy. It;s likely a strategy designed to appeal to Liberal die-hards to come out and vote rather than just give up. If the Liberals fail to win eight seats (something which might well happen), the party will lose its official status  – given that the Liberals were pissed when the NDP fell into this category in 2003, the Liberals can’t hope for favourable treatment from them. The day before the election, it doesn’t seem clear that Wynn’s idea has paid off – if anything, more voters continue to bleed towards the PCs and the NDP.
  3. For a brief moment the NDP seemed poised to form the next government, but that has faded. Offering the usual bland neo-Keynesian policies, the NDP does seem ready to be the official opposition.  But given the absences of anything like class struggle to back them up, you can probably expect little from them.

But yeah, I’ll watching tomorrow night to see how wrong I am

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Scott Hutchison

May 13, 2018 at 9:44 pm (Uncategorized)

Frightened Rabbit were a band for ten years. I saw them five times. They were one of the few bands that I saw live more than I owned their records. Oh, I liked the records too, btu live they seemed in their element. The perfect blend of exciting rock ‘n’ roll, a sombre lyrical content, and a band that seemed to be having a great time.

I saw them last a few months back at the Mod Club, the place I first saw them in 2012. They were in fine form.

The passing last week of front-man Scott Hutchison brings back all those happy memories, and fills me with a deep sadness over the loss of this brilliant singer-songwriter with a barbed wit and the soul of a poet.

Sometimes words just won’t do it.

 

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The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair

May 13, 2018 at 9:35 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s mid-May, and that means it’s only a couple of weeks until the annual Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. The bookfair has been around since 2000, and is the biggest of its kind in Canada. The past few years have felt a bit smaller, but there’s still loads of things to do, see, and buy their (loads of free stuff too!)

I’ve tabled at the bookfair every year, but unfortunately this year I won’t be there. Personal commitments and a heavier than usual work load, have made it impossible for me to attend, but maybe next time…

The bookfair takes place May 26 and 27 from 10:00 until 5:00 both days.

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Marxist Prediction Power

May 5, 2018 at 9:58 pm (Uncategorized)

June 7, 2018 is election day in Ontario.

Using deep seated reasoning and magical Marxist prediction powers, here’s what’s going to happen.

The Progressive Conservative Party will win the election. Despite the unpopularity of leader Doug Ford, who unlike his brother cannot blame the fact he’s an arsehole on a drug problem, the Liberal are even more unpopular. My powers cannot see whether Kathleen Wynn will keep her seat, but she will fall on her sword after the decimation of her party, and Michael Coteau will emerge as the new leader.

Of course, my powers also predicted the Liberals would see a reduced minority in the last election and lose the one before that  (in the last election, they won with majoirty and won the one before that with a minority- 0 for 2 Mr. Fischer) I also predicted that Rob Ford would lose his race for Mayor. He won handsomely. Lastly, I told everyone who asked that Trump could not possibly win, and believed it right up to the minute that I realized he would win.

So Ontario? Pretty much anyone’s guess.

 

 

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Marx 200

May 5, 2018 at 9:49 pm (Uncategorized)

200 years ago today.

May 5, 1818

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Music Notes: April 2018

April 30, 2018 at 5:42 pm (Uncategorized)

Couple of things then

1 The Breeders – All Nerve

How long has it been since the last Breeders record? Too long. “Nervous Mary” and “Get in the Car” punch hard at the start, btu on repeated plays, the subtlety of the rest hold onto you.

2. The Strypes – US Tour 2018: Radio Sessions Bootleg

Five song E.P. on sale at shows on the recent tour. Nice run through “Mystery Train.”

3. The Clash – London Calling 

Had this on in the car the other day. It’s such a great record, that you sometimes forget just how good it really is. I bought this on vinyl the date it came out way back in 1979.

4. v/a – Big Sensations

A maximum R & B sampler that came free with the latest Mojo. 50 years old and still amazing. Seek it out.

5.  Slade – “Cum on feel the Noize”

Nuff said.

 

6. v/a- The Fatboy Slim Norman Cook Collection

Collection of Cook remixes. Not to everyone’s taste (not entirely sure if it’s mine), but worth a listen  – spot the samples!

7. David Bowie – Scary Monsters 

A Bowie record that somehow fell through the cracks for me. Not part of the “Berlin” trilogy and before I completely lost interest with Let’s Dance. Still pretty cool. (Love Robert Fripp)

8.  That bit on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Aimee Mann says, “Man, I hate playing vampire towns.”

9. Lydia Lunch – “Diddy Wah Diddy”

Going to see Lydia Lunch next month. Wonder if she’ll do this Bo Diddley cover she recorded with 8 Eyed Spy?

 

10.  Record Store Day was last week and I missed it, btu it’s great that such places still exist. It seems to be getting harder and harder to actually buy music. (I know it’s uncool, btu musicians gotta eat, and I’m happy to help some of them do that) It’s all streaming or at a gig now, but to be able to walk into a store and purchase is surely a good thing.

Till next time then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Waxahatchee at the Opera House

April 25, 2018 at 2:06 am (Uncategorized)

Waxahatchee’s 2015 album Ivy Tripp is one of my most common listens in the car these days. Great tunes, a great voice, and words that make it seem as if you’re privy to the private thoughts of a great romantic.  So, the chance to see the band again was one I didn’t want to miss.

I arrived at Queen Street’s Opera House near the start of Bedouine’s set. Bedouine is s Syrian-American of Armenian ancestry who performs as a solo artist. I’d listened to a few of her songs before the show and decided that I would probably skip her set. Fortunately, I arrived earlier than expected and caught most of it. Intimate and personal songs throughout the set. Certainly an artist to keep an eye on.

Next up were Hurray for the Riff Raff. I’d wanted to see Alynda Segarra’s band last year when they played Toronto after I  discovered her marvellous album The Navigator, but unfortunately was out of town.  The band played an energetic, political set appreciated by the near capacity crowd.

Finally Waxatatchee. Did I mention earlier how much I like this band? As such, my opinion may not be entirely objective, but  any band where people listen as intently to the quiet ones as to the rock numbers is worth following. The set drew heavily from Ivy Tripp and the current album Out in the Storm, but there were songs I didn’t recognize, so they may be from earlier recordings. For the encore Kate Crutchfield came back sol and played tow unaccompanied number. A beautiful end to the evening.

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Trumpocracy

April 25, 2018 at 2:06 am (Uncategorized)

What are the ingredients s the recipe for Trumpocracy?

  • Hypocrisy – check
  • Autocracy – check
  • Bureaucracy – check
  • Democracy – Even by bourgeois standards, not so much
  • Erm, racism, lies, paranoia, tantrums, the list goes on.

It’s also the title of a book I’m reading by David Frum’ a catalogue of sins.

Two things surprised me about this book.

  1. To begin with, that I’m actually reading David Frum. Frum is the son of the late Canadian Broadcasting Corporation icon Barbara Frum (and bother of dubious Canadian Senator Linda Frum) . A long time conservative writer, Frum’s position used to be that government really had no business regulating anything except for the social conservatism he favoured. Frum went on to become a speechwriter for George W. Bush coining the phrase “Axis of Evil.” Hard to say just how much Frum’s political views have actually shifted or simply been made better by a rightward shifting political spectrum, but in all fairness he accepted he was wrong in his opposition to same-sex marriage and is now a writer for the (generally) liberal Atlantic Magazine.
  2. I was really reminded of Robyn Dolittle’s Crazy Town, an account of Toronto’s crack-smoking train wreck of a Mayor Rob Ford, whose even less likable brother Doug is posed to become premier of Ontario. (BTW, Crazy Town’s story is about to be filmed starring Damian Lewis   (?)  Ford, and the character based upon Dolittle by…  Ben Platt. Yup, they recast the female role as a man for no apparent reason other than the usual one.) Still, The thing about Doolittle’s book was that I had forgotten all the shit Ford pulled, even before he was mayor. Ditto Trump. I frequently  found myself muttering aloud, “Oh, yeah, I forgot he did that.”

It won’t advance the class struggle, as Frum’s position is simply a defence of bourgeoisie democracy, but it’s a pretty funny book. If only it weren’t so sad. 325 million people and the choice for leader were those two. And that was the one they chose?

 

 

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