Music Notes July 2009

July 31, 2009 at 11:36 am (Uncategorized)

 July’s music round -up.

1. The 13th Floor Elevators

I think I might be developing a bit of an obsession with the Elevators. I’m not quite ready to spring for Sign of the 3 Eyed Men, the definitive, yet prohibitively expensive box set, but there are clear signs of obsession. I just got   Eye  Mind, the newish account by Paul Drummond, and my Roky Erickson pyramid-eye t-shirt is in the mail.  For those of you just thinking about dipping your toe into the water, a  good place to start is the debut  album, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. In addition to the original album remastered, there are ten bonus live tracks, including two by Roky Erikson’s previous band the Spades.   

2. Jon Savage

Jon Savage started writing about music in the 1970s. He published his own zine London’s Outrage, and wrote what is for many, the definitive book on punk, England’s Dreaming. He’s also the author of Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture and  Time Travel, a collection of essays.  Savage also writes for Mojo and other periodicals. His site contains some of the above. Also of interest is  an interview at the 3AM site. 

3. Dead Weather

I resisted buying this for a while, but the reviews were just too strong to avoid altogether. It’s a lot like you’d expect if you put together the White Stripes, the Kills, the Raconteurs and the Queens of the Stone Age. Bluesy, but in a garage not the Delta. It grows stronger with repeated listening.

4. Rachid Taha – Rock el Casbah

On the soundtrack to the Joe Strummer movie, The Future is Unwritten, there’s a fantastic cover of the Clash’s Rock the Casbahby Rachid Taha. Sung in Arabic, it makes perfect sense. Imagine my delight in coming across this greatest hits package from 2007. Rachid Taha is from Algeria, and combines the traditional music from North Africa with western rock. It’s tremendous. New album out in October.

5. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville

 Pulled this off the shelf the other day. It’s simply an astonishing debut.

6. Galaxie 500

 Dean Wareham’s first band. Low-fi indie dahlings have a new store.  Free MP3 of Fourth of July.

7. Elijah Wald – Escaping the Delta

Actually, I was looking for Wald’s most recent book, How the Beatles destroyed Rock n Roll. How can you resist a title like that? However, the good people at the Toronto Public Library also had this one. So far, it’s quite interesting. What is the blues? How did it develop? The opening chapters touch upon a topic, I wrote about the other week, copy right. Also check out the comment from a local Toronto musician.  Can’t wait for the Beatles book.

8. Television – The Blow Up

A rough sounding live recording of Television on their final tour. But who cares about the sound?  Songs from  Marque Moon and Adventure. Covers of  Dylan, the Stones and the 13th Floor elevators. Essential.

9. Family Playlist

Well, it seems if you want to be a star with Disney, you need to be able to sing. Let’s leave aside the Spearses, the Timberlakes and the Aguileras, (hey, maybe Keri Russell can’t sing?) . Bought the Family Playlist CD for the kids – full of Disney’s teen stars: Miley Cyrus, Demi Lavado, Emily Osmont, Jonas. Annoying as hell,but catchy and the kids love it.

10. The Decemberists / Heartless Bastards

Looking forward to this one very much, although not withapprehension. Let’s start with that. The show is at the Government, which used to be known as the Warehouse. I was at the very first show there: Fugazi with Shudder to Think. The sound was without a doubt, the worst I’ve every heard. So we’ll see. The latest recordsby both of these bands are very fine indeed, but  I’m wondering how it will translate. Review Tuesday.

Still, leaving that aside

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“End Notes” 1: A Review

July 26, 2009 at 5:56 pm (Uncategorized)

This article was written by a comrade from Internationalist Perspective.

“End Notes” is the new publication of comrades who left “Aufheben,” apparently because of disagreement over how much emphasis should be put on discussion with the milieu of the “communisateurs,” especially “Théorie Communiste.” As can be seen in the first number of End Notes, these comrades are determined to pursue the discussion with TC. Indeed, this number is largely a debate between “Troploin” (Dauvé) and TC, with the promise that in “End Notes” 2 their own positions will be articulated. 

 

What “Troploin” and TC (indeed the milieu of the communisateurs) share is the conviction that proletarian revolution must from its onset lead to immediate communisation, overturning the law of value, wage labor, indeed work as it has historically taken shape. There is then no place for any period of transition. What separates these two currents is “Troploin’s” insistence that communisation, understood as the abolition of work, has been the immediate project of the proletariat since its advent as a class; this was the case in 1795, in 1848, in 1917, in 1936, in 1968, as it is today. The historical and political conditions for the actualization of that project are not constant for “Troploin” – today, for example, we are not in a revolutionary period – but that is and has always been the sole project of the proletariat, one frustrated by the forces of capital, especially the left, whenever a revolutionary situation arose. For TC by contrast, the historical conditions for communisation are of recent date, emerging only after the epoch of the formal domination of capital and the first phase of its real domination (Fordism); after 1968, indeed only in the last 40 years. Until the present, second, phase of the real domination of capital, the abolition of work was not on the historical agenda. What was on the historical agenda was the proletariat, labor, as the capitalist class; the proletariat, labor, replacing the bourgeoisie as the ruling class, and owning and operating the means of production and exchange, with work under the commodity form as the basis of social and economic life, only under the management of the workers.

 

Where “Troploin” insists that historically, in both the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, the proletariat never sought to raise itself to the level of a class managing commodity production and motivated by the project of work, though such ideologies were perpetrated by the left of capital, Social-Democracy, the Bolsheviks, the unions, but instead sought the abolition of work, TC argues that a project of the management of commodity production was the only one that the proletariat under the prevailing historical conditions could advance. Where “Troploin” insists that the proletariat at each revolutionary moment was betrayed by the left (though as TC points out, without explaining why the proletariat allowed itself to be led by the left), TC argues that it is only in the current epoch, the second phase of the real domination of capital, that communisation, the abolition of work, is on the historical agenda. 

 

The historical questions of exactly how the proletariat “behaved” at each revolutionary conjuncture, and how capital re-asserted its domination, is an extremely important issue. “Troploin”’s claim that the proletariat did not simply embody a productivist ideology, and acceptance of the value-form until the 1970’s is one I share. Opposition to such a vision and ideology can be seen throughout the historical existence of the proletariat, even as much of the left, of “orthodox” Marxism, with roots in the working class, did, indeed, have the productivist vision that “TC” attributes to the proletariat as a class. Yet “Troploin” needs to answer “TC”’s question: if the proletariat has been committed to a project of communism and the abolition of work from its inception, how was that project frustrated at each turn by the left? But what seems missing from even “TC”’s critique of what it sees as the a-historical character of “Troploin”’s analysis; what seems missing from both currents, is a focus on the value-form itself, and Marx’s analysis of it. It is as if the proletariat and its project can be separated from the historical trajectory of value production itself. “TC” would claim that it pays careful attention to changes in the structuration of capitalism, with its theory of three successive phases in the domination of capital. Yet, in the second phase of the real domination of capital, when “TC” claims the proletariat’s project is now immediate communisation, the power of capital over the proletariat — not just the coercive power of its state, but its ideological hegemony — has not been smashed. Indeed, neither “Troploin” nor “TC” seem to say anything about how the spread of the value-form from the immediate process of production to shape the whole of life, and the power of reification, has affected the proletariat and its capacity to actualize a project in which the objective is the abolition of wage-labor. Nor do either of these tendencies, at least in the texts included in “End Notes,” discuss whether the science and technology that has made the real domination of capital possible is itself potentially utilizable for communism or is, rather, integrally linked to capitalism and the value-form. Similarly, neither “Troploin” nor “TC” seem to have anything to say about the specific facets of the life of the collective worker  — the creativity that capitalism cannot extinguish because it is necessary, in however a distorted form, to the survival of capital, the historical memories of the proletariat and its struggles that persist even under the real domination of capital — that might counteract the reifying power of capital, and that point to an actualization of the revolutionary potential of the collective worker.

                                         Mac Intosh

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Surrealism at the Art Gallery of Ontario

July 23, 2009 at 10:19 pm (Uncategorized)

 

art

Not surrealism true, but I like the cartoon.

Until August 30, the Art Gallery of Ontario (Dundas Street West between University and Spadina)  has an exhibition of surrealist art.  since it’s supposed to rain in Toronto for the next few days, the art gallery is a good  choice: Then go make art.

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Surrealist Movement in the U.S. – Appreciation of Franklin Rosemont

July 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm (Uncategorized)

I posted a brief appreciation of Franklin Rosemont earlier this year. I came across this piece by the Surrealist Movement in the United States last week, and I felt it warrented re-posting here.

 

Franklin Rosemont, celebrated poet, artist, historian, street speaker, and surrealist activist, died Sunday, April 12 in Chicago. He was 65 years old. With his partner and comrade, Penelope Rosemont, and lifelong friend Paul Garon, he co-founded the Chicago Surrealist Group, an enduring and adventuresome collection of characters that would make the city a center for the reemergence of that movement of artistic and political revolt. Over the course of the following four decades, Franklin and his Chicago comrades produced a body of work, of declarations, manifestos, poetry, collage, hidden histories, and other interventions that has, without doubt, inspired an entirely new generation of revolution in the service of the marvelous.

Franklin Rosemont was born in Chicago on October 2, 1943 to two of the area’s more significant rank-and-file labor activists, the printer Henry Rosemont and the jazz musician Sally Rosemont. Dropping out of Maywood schools after his third year of high school (and instead spending countless hours in the Art Institute of Chicago’s library learning about surrealism), he managed nonetheless to enter Roosevelt University in 1962. Already radicalized through family tradition, and his own investigation of political comics, the Freedom Rides, and the Cuban Revolution, Franklin was immediately drawn into the stormy student movement at Roosevelt.

Looking back on those days, Franklin would tell anyone who asked that he had “majored in St. Clair Drake” at Roosevelt. Under the mentorship of the great African American scholar, he began to explore much wider worlds of the urban experience, of racial politics, and of historical scholarship—all concerns that would remain central for him throughout the rest of his life. He also continued his investigations into surrealism, and soon, with Penelope, he traveled to Paris in the winter of 1965 where he found André Breton and the remaining members of the Paris Surrealist Group. The Parisians were just as taken with the young Americans as Franklin and Penelope were with them, as it turned out, and their encounter that summer was a turning point in the lives of both Rosemonts. With the support of the Paris group, they returned to the United States later that year and founded America’s first and most enduring indigenous surrealist group, characterized by close study and passionate activity and dedicated equally to artistic production and political organizing. When Breton died in 1966, Franklin worked with his wife, Elisa, to put together the first collection of André’s writings in English.

Active in the 1960s with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Rebel Worker group, the Solidarity Bookshop and Students for a Democratic Society, Franklin helped to lead an IWW strike of blueberry pickers in Michigan in 1964, and put his considerable talents as a propagandist and pamphleteer to work producing posters, flyers, newspapers, and broadsheets on the SDS printing press. A long and fruitful collaboration with Paul Buhle began in 1970 with a special surrealist issue of Radical America. Lavish, funny, and barbed issues of Arsenal/Surrealist Subversion and special issues of Cultural Correspondence were to follow.

The smashing success of the 1976 World Surrealist Exhibition at the Gallery Black Swan in Chicago announced the ability of the American group to make a huge cultural impact without ceasing to be critics of the frozen mainstreams of art and politics. The Rosemonts soon became leading figures in the reorganization of the nation’s oldest labor press, Charles H. Kerr Company. Under the mantle of the Kerr Company and its surrealist imprint Black Swan Editions, Franklin edited and printed the work of some of the most important figures in the development of the political left: C.L.R. James, Marty Glaberman, Benjamin Péret and Jacques Vaché, T-Bone Slim, Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons, and, in a new book released just days before Franklin’s death, Carl Sandburg. In later years, he created and edited the Surrealist Histories series at the University of Texas Press, in addition to continuing his work with Kerr Co. and Black Swan.

A friend and valued colleague of such figures as Studs Terkel, Mary Low, the poets Philip Lamantia, Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Dennis Brutus, the painter Lenora Carrington, and the historians Paul Buhle, David Roediger, John Bracey, and Robin D.G. Kelley, Rosemont’s own artistic and creative work was almost impossibly varied in inspirations and results. Without ever holding a university post, he wrote or edited more than a score of books while acting as a great resource for a host of other writers.

He became perhaps the most productive scholar of labor and the left in the United States. His spectacular study, Joe Hill: The I.W.W. and the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture, began as a slim projected volume of that revolutionary martyr’s rediscovered cartoons and grew to giant volume providing our best guide to what the early twentieth century radical movement was like and what radical history might do. His coedited volume Haymarket Scrapbook stands as the most beautifully illustrated labor history publication of the recent past. Indispensable compendiums like The Big Red Songbook, What is Surrealism?, Menagerie in Revolt, and the forthcoming Black Surrealism are there to ensure that the legacy of the movements that inspired him continue to inspire young radicals for generations to come. In none of this did Rosemont separate scholarship from art, or art from revolt. His books of poetry include Morning of the Machine Gun, Lamps Hurled at the Stunning Algebra of Ants, The Apple of the Automatic Zebra’s Eye and Penelope. His marvelous fierce, whimsical and funny artwork—to which he contributed a new piece every day—graced countless surrealist publications and exhibitions.

 Indeed, between the history he himself helped create and the history he helped uncover, Franklin was never without a story to tell or a book to write—about the IWW, SDS, Hobohemia in Chicago, the Rebel Worker, about the past 100 years or so of radical publishing in the US, or about the international network of Surrealists who seemed to always be passing through the Rosemonts’ Rogers Park home. As engaged with and excited by new surrealist and radical endeavors as he was with historical ones, Franklin was always at work responding to queries from a new generation of radicals and surrealists, and was a generous and rigorous interlocutor. In every new project, every revolt against misery, with which he came into contact, Franklin recognized the glimmers of the free and unfettered imagination, and lent his own boundless creativity to each and every struggle around him, inspiring, sustaining, and teaching the next generation of surrealists worldwide.

 He and African-American scholar Robin D.G. Kelley have a forthcoming book, Black Brown & Beige, Surrealist Writings from Africa and its Diaspora from University of Texas Press.

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Comic links II

July 23, 2009 at 3:19 am (Uncategorized)

More comics worth reading.

1. Students for a Democratic Society – A Graphic History

How about this? A comic book history of SDS written by America Splendor‘s Harvey Pekar, and drawn by Gary Dumn, a long time Pekar collaborator. The first half of the book is a history of SDS from its origins within the League for Industrial Democracy to its collapse at the end of the 1960s. A marvellously told story, which will resonate with anyone who has been a part of a leftist organization (particularly as SDS splintered into warring factions). The second half of the book is recollections from people like Paul Buhle (who also serves as the editor), Penelope Rosemont, Paul Le Blanc, Alan Wald and many others.

2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910

Did you see the movie? I mean, did you see the movie? Such pain. It’s no wonder that Alan Moore has disassociated himself from movies. Fear not, LEG Century:  1910is as wonderful as the first two volumes. Again collecting fictional characters such as Nemo, Orlando, Raffles, Thomas Carnacki, Oliver Aleistar Crowley) Hando and many more.  

This volume takes us into the twentieth century and continues Moore’s blend of the fictional world with the real to create something unique. apparently the next volume features the Krays and Jerry Cornelius!

Jerry Nevins, who writes the mini-essays for Incognito (see below), has created a web site for all the references in the book.

3. Incognito

The fifth issue of Ed Brubaker’s super herovillain noir has just been published. There’s a line in the book where Zack Overkill says to Ava Destruction (how can you not love a book where characters have such cool names?), do you remember those villains who tried to discover how to stop time? It’s no problem. Just get an office job. Each issue also has a mini feature of a classic pulp character. This issue, it’s Fu Manchu.

4. Blackest Night

Now, I have to admit, I feel a little sucky about this. I first came across Green Lantern sometime in the early 1970s. I have a copy, sans cover, of one of those Denny O’Neill/Neal Adams collaborations, and featured Green Arrow and Black Canary along with a Mansonesque villain. (DC reprinted them in the eighties and they’re worth looking for).

But unlike Batman or Superman, or any other of the DC gang, Green Lantern never made it outside of the comics universe. I have a Green Lantern t-shirt which people always ask about. 

Now, there’s going to be a movie with Ryan Reynolds.

And this year, DC are making Blackest Night, the big cross-over event. (Huh?Wasn’t it Battle for the Cowl?). A group of dead characters (no one really stays dead) are resurrected as Black Lanterns. Bought, but haven’t read the first issue. Got a free Black Lantern ring with it. Cool.

Now everybody, recite the oath

In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light

5. Batman & Robin

And speaking of Batman, I picked up the first two issues of Grant morrison’s new book. I don’t know if I like Dick Grayson as Robin, and Damian is a punk. Morrison is always worth watching though.

6. Joann Sfar.

If Green Lantern makes me feel cool, Joann Sfar makes me feel something different. Remember what it’s like to discover something everyone already knows about (I felt the same way when I started listening to Otis Redding and Al Green in a big way). Sfar is  French artist who has created such memorable books as Vampires Loves, Sardine in Outer Space, The Professor’s Daughter, the Rabbi’s Cat and others. Lovely, enchanting books. Beautifully drawn. For the young and old alike.

7. Constantine

Ian Rankin is writing a John Constantine story, Dark Entries,  to be published as a hard cover book August 19. Here’s Vertigo’s blurb:

Occult detective John Constantine has seen his share of strange things in his career, but nothing could prepare him for the horrors of…reality television. “Haunted Mansion” is currently the hottest show on TV, but when the macabre house actually starts attacking the contestants, Constantine is hired to be the ultimate mole. Locked inside with a cast of wannabe-celebrities, his every move being monitored by a deadly figure from his past, Constantine must figure out who (or what) is pulling the strings before he gets cancelled—permanently.

Hey DC, review copies welcome!

8. Umbrella Academy – Dallas

The second volume of Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s surreal comic book concluded recently. And it’s just as good as the first volume: the assassination of JFK, timer travel, sugar crazed hit-men named Hazel and Cha Cha, talking goldfish. What more could you want?

9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8

I though the last few issues were not quite up to scratch. Not terrible. But just not so good. Then, pow! Jane Espensen’s Retreat is magic.I’ve been watching Season 7 again on DVD, and so have come to appreciate Andrew a little more. His line about when bones are a decorating theme means you have too many bones is great. Similarly, his actual confrontation with Warren. And Oz too!

10. Fallen Angel

Haven’t seen this one yet, but it guest stars Illyria. Probably worth a look.

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Dr Dre and Dr. Pepper

July 23, 2009 at 1:09 am (Uncategorized)

 I don’t always enjoy, or even understand Lynn Crosbie’s column, but this one is spot on.

Globe and Mail Monday, Jul. 20, 2009

This week on gossip website TMZ’s ‘Memba Them?, The legendary Melle Mel (as in Grandmaster Flash &), 48 and still surfing 1983’s White Lines , is presented as a hip-hop fossil. Meanwhile, the once-searing MC Lyte is slowly surfacing from the same decade, if only in random duets and shout-outs, while her sisters in crime, Queen Latifah and Monie Love have faded or moved on to brand new bags.

It is still difficult to absorb that NWA’s once arch-criminal mastermind, Ice Cube, starred in the 2005 family film Are We There Yet? and its sequel, Are We Done Yet? .

And that Ice-T, excoriated for his and his heavy-metal band Body Count’s song Cop Killer (released on the spectacular self-titled album) now plays a cop on Law and Order: SVU and recently appeared on an MTV show about stars long gone.

But while most old-school rappers seem to have become quaint objects of curiosity, others are slowly but surely returning: Promoting his album Relapse , Eminem paid lavish tribute, in Vibe magazine, to influences both old and newer, singling out André 3000, who peaked in 2003, as the world’s greatest MC, an opinion shared by many right now.

How do such rappers stay strong?

“I’m much more than 6-4’s/ Gun talk, weed smoke and sick hos/ That’s why most of them have come and went/ I just recoup, recreate and reinvent.” This is the great producer/rapper Dr. Dre (through his stand-in and co-lyricist Ludacris) explaining in OG’s Theme his own, unusual persistence in hip hop, a medium that few succeed in for an extended period of time – think of Big Daddy Kane, Nas or Public Enemy – all great, all, more or less, gone, baby gone.

 

And then there is Dre’s new Dr Pepper ad. “No”, one is tempted to scream, watching the following drama unfold. An older, hot-looking Dre walks into the frame and snags a Dr Pepper from a young vixen. “Scientific tests prove,” he intones, “when drunk slow, the 23 flavours taste even better.” Like Kentucky Fried Chicken’s arcane 11 herbs and spices, these flavours are unknown, but thought to include cane sugar, cherry and squirrels – the latter is just a guess, of course.

“For me,” Dre continues, “slow always produces a hit.” The crowd noise dims, and a beat from his new album Detox emerges, being spun by a lunatic white boy DJ wearing, of course, a backwards ball cap.

Dre smacks the can on the record, the beat slows and, voilà The crowd really starts bumping “Slow is better,” he says, before coughing up the hairball tag line: “Trust me, I’m a doctor,” also used in Dr Pepper spots by rock super-whore Gene Simmons, the soi-disant “Doctor Love” and Kelsey Grammer (Dr. Frasier Crane).

Why is he doing this?

Even if he did an ad for the Tanqueray gin he loves, or for Zig-Zag rolling papers, he still would have crossed a line: The rules of cool are loose and mysterious, but never being a shill is one of them.

Is the ad a bold move for the ingenious artist, a huge pop way of leaking his highly anticipated record? Possibly: If you watch it on YouTube, fans are assembled there, commenting, without exception, about their heady anticipation of Detox and praising Dre. Here is one typical remark: “Dr. Dre is going to completely own the world when Detox drops. Everyone is going to buy that album. I don’t even care if you hate rap, you will hear Detox , and it will be grand. Dre knows what’s up.”

Dre Dre knows what’s up and will own a great deal when this fall Detox is co-released, without irony, with Dre’s own vodka and cognac brands, a gauche marketing strategy that none of his fans mentions.

Then again, only 152 people have written comments on the ad since it was posted on YouTube last month, and as is so often the case on YouTube, many of them are using the space to call each other rednecks, clowns and crackheads (the Web has become a site for furious cowards to unite and rage at each other).

The mastermind behind NWA, Snoop Dogg and his protégé Eminem (to name a few), behind The Chronic , his 1992 solo record that is yet to be matched by any hip-hop artist, is a grander-scale “comeback king” than Eminem, whose similarly titled new CD, Relapse , released after a long, dormant period, is going gangbusters.

In 1996, he released Dr. Dre presents the Aftermath (a compilation) and with it, a light, romantic video of Been There, Done That that made his hardest-core fans squirm. The next year he produced The Firm , which “flopped,” as he states himself in lyrics on his incredible return in 2001 , The Chronic ‘s sequel.

In this tightly orchestrated assault on his detractors, he posed a number of frightening rhetorical questions, including one about his arsenal of guns: “What, do you think I sold them all?”

With Snoop Dogg and Eminem at his side, he successfully terminated all criticism as “a bunch of gibberish.” He asserted that if you all don’t like him, you could – well, there is very little I can repeat of his lyrics.

Will Detox bring him back, front and centre?

Yes, but where? Right back to where he started – the always-shifting hip-hop landscape, whose fluid sensibilities and styles have begun to revert back to the 1980s, in both the fashion and the music, which is good news for a number of “’Memba Thems” whom purists remember all too well.

Dre has always re-invented himself, as he observes: It is no wonder Madonna once begged him to produce one of her records (he flatly refused). And, in selling out now in such a flagrant way, he is putting the focus on hip hop’s most essential program, that is making money and getting over poverty, oppression and marginalization. There aren’t many geniuses at large. That he is still here, Still D.R.E, is a thrilling means of detoxing from Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and Hannah Montana, all poised on Billboard’s Top 10 at the moment and ripe for getting smacked down.

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Class Struggle in Korea

July 21, 2009 at 10:57 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve posted a couple of reports about the class war in Korea. This is the latest from Loren Goldner. 

Also check accounts and discussions at Lib.com  – Fischer

——————————————

This is an up-to-date report on the situation of the Ssangyong strike, by a worker from a nearby plant.

This is the biggest class confrontation in Korea in years.

I have a way to send money directly to the rank-and-file (not the union bureaucrats). If anyone wants to help, contact me off list. It’s the least we can do.

Loren Goldner

As We finished night shift work at o5:30 this morning, we went to Pyungtaek in front of gate of Ssangyong where the struggles going on just like yesterday.

At around 09:00 to 10:00 there are many buses loaded with riot police were arriving around the gate, and approximately 20 cars for fire fighting are arriving also.

and as 2,000 riot police are tring to access near paint plant, the workers are responding with a slingshot and sometimes molotov coctails. That slingshot is too big and using bolt and nut as a bullet, so it’s distance is so long ( 200 ~ 300m)as to attack enemy shockingly.

As Tires that were installed in an effort to defend are burning, the black smoke is covering all the sky of factory areas.

The company cut off water and gas supplies and enforced a blockade providing all materal for workers from outside, even medical supplies, /maybe firstly, they are trying to use a wearing down strategy in order to get workers out of paint plant spontaneously.

After coming back from that battle site for today’s night work, I heard news that the police helicopter are spreading tear gas against workrs who are fighting on the housetops.

As of 21 Jul. today
The KCTU declared general strike mainly for supporting Ssangyong strike from 22 to 24th Jul. and slated for nationa wide labor rally on 25th Sat Jul.

and the KMWU, the main affiliated power of KCTU will be launcing part strike on 22 and 24 in support of this strike and on going negotiation .

Hence, tomorrow more than 5,000 members would be at the centeral gate of Ssang yong, and fightings will tale place again.

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10 Questions for TV Smith

July 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm (Uncategorized)

Smith is probably the most popular surname in English. A television is the most popular electrical entertainment appliance; a stage name was born.  TV Smith, the lead singer and song writer with the Adverts, the Explorers, Channel 5, and also as a solo artist, toured the U.S. with Jay Reatard earlier this month. TV was supposed to play the Mod Club in Toronto on June 29, but visa problems meant he was unable to make the show.  Nevertheless, he was happy ot agree to an email interview. 

Questions for TV Smith 

1. Your first record, One Chord Wonders was released in 1977. How does it feel to have 30 years in the music business?    

 Thirty years outside the business, actually. After the second Adverts album and then the Explorers album didn’t sell well, the ‘business’ didn’t want much to do with me any more, but I still wanted to carry on. Since then I’ve been more or less D.I.Y., which was what punk originally promoted anyway. The great thing about working that way has been that for thirty years I’ve had no one telling me what to do, I’ve been free to create what I want, and making music has always been interesting.
2. Are you still ‘punk?’

Yes. But it could be that other people’s idea of what “punk” is has changed.

3. Unlike many artists who only seem to have a couple of good records in them, you have maintained a constantly high standard. Which of the class of ’77 would you put in the same category?

I can’t think of anyone really. Most of the good ones have either died, given up, or are living off past glories. But they left a lot of good records behind them.
 

4. What are you listening to these days?

Mainly the bands on the same bill as me at live shows. 
I’m out playing gigs for more than half the year and writing and making records the rest of the time, so I rarely put music on when I’m home.
 

5. Which of your records are you the most proud?

Difficult to answer. I don’t like to choose between my own records because I know that on every one of them I gave everything I had at the time – I wouldn’t put them out otherwise. Some of them – like “Channel Five” – were made for just a few hundred pounds and have a home-made feel to them, others – like “Useless” – were really expensive to make and have a slicker studio sound. They all have their own strengths. I think, at the moment I’m most proud of my latest one “In The Arms Of My Enemy.”
 

6. Many musicians also work in other fields. Have you thought about writing short stories or novels?

I wrote poetry and short stories when I was a kid, and in the early eighties when I couldn’t get any interest in my songs at all. I did write a couple of novels. 
But I found the process too time-consuming and I didn’t like the fact that you can’t review what you’ve done the same way you can with a song. I’m used to being able to hit “play” and hearing how things sound so far but with a novel you have to read the whole damn thing every time you want an overview. The books never got published, and after that 
went back to my real love, writing and recording songs. The funny thing is,
I fell back into prose writing almost accidentally when I started to keep 
journals of what it was like being on the road, and ended up producing two books of tour diaries – “Getting There” and “How To Feel Human” which I sell at gigs and through 
the website.

7. Your new album opens with the line, “It’s gonna be a huge production,” what was it like to work with Tim Cross and Tim Renwick again?

They’ve been a constant thread through my recording career. Tim Cross came into the Adverts during the recording of the second album at the suggestion of producer Tom Newman, who thought it would be good to have some keyboards on some of the tracks. We worked together right through the eighties recording demos of songs even though I didn’t have a label to put them out, and somewhere along the way Tim introduced me to Tim Renwick – they’d met when they were touring together with Mike Oldfield – and I found myself with two incredibly talented musicians who, unlikely as it seems from their musical background, were totally tuned into my songs. One or both of them have made an appearance on nearly every album since 
then.
 
8. Many of your lyrics deal with topical subjects (Peace ‘Tomahawk Cruise,” environmentalism “Thin Green Line”, crime “Open up your Heart,” poverty “Expensive being Poor” to name just a few). Do you consider yourself a political songwriter?
 
I write about what I see, so the question is: are the things going on in the world that affect our lives due to politics or do they just happen? I think that who we are and how we live is being shaped by other people, and particularly those people who are in positions of power: the politicians, the religious zealots, the Establishment in general. If you’re going to write about the real world, there has to be a political element to it otherwise it’s just fantasy.
9. What was it like touting with Jay Reatard?
 
It was a very good tour. We all got on very well and Jay and the band seemed to have a lot of respect for me and my songs, so when we played four Adverts songs at the end of the evening they had a real power and authenticity to them. A lot of people said that it was the nearest thing to the Adverts they were ever going to see. It was just a shame that my visa was delayed coming through so I had to miss the first five dates. I was particularly upset to miss the two dates in Canada because I’d never been before and really wanted to come.
10. Any chance of make-up Canadian dates?
 
I really hope so. I’ll do what I can!
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TV Smith’s new album is In the Arms of my Enemy. It’s very good. For more information about TV Smith, and to see a couple of videos from the new album, go to his web site

And if that doesn’t sate your appetite, pick up the e-book Your Ticket Out of Here and  The Complete TV Smith, a TV Smith zine now on CD ROM which ran from 1980 to 1984, available for $5 and $15 respectively from Dave Thomson books.  

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Korean Sanggyong Strike Up Against the Wall

July 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm (Uncategorized)

The following article reports ‘just the facts’, based on communications from workers and other activists involved in the struggle.

 The Ssangyong Motors strike in Pyeongtaek, South Korea (near Seoul), is now in its eighth week, and the situation of the strikers is increasingly dire.

To briefly reiterate the overall situation (following on my earlier report of June 19):

Ssangyong Motors is 51% owned by China’s Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. In February the company filed for bankruptcy, proposing a restructuring and offering the Pyeongtaek plant as collateral for further loans to re-emerge from bankruptcy. The court approved the bankruptcy plan, pending adequate layoffs to make the company profitable again.

Following job actions through the spring in anticipation of the layoffs, the current strike began on May 27 when the company announced layoffs and forced retirement of 1700 out of 7000 workers, with immediate additional firings of 300 casuals. The workers slated for layoff immediately occupied the plant, demanding no layoffs, no casualization and no outsourcing. The KMWU (Korean Metal Workers Union) supported the occupation but tried to channel negations strictly around the question of layoffs.

As of mid-June, about 1000 workers were continuing the occupation, with wives and families providing food. The government and the company bided their time, in part because of a broader political crisis of the hard-right Lee government which militated against any immediate massive police and thug attack, But two weeks later, they felt confident to go on the offensive. The workers, for their part, had armed themselves with iron crowbars and Molotov cocktails.

On June 26th-27th a serious government and employer attack began , as hired thugs, scabs recruited from the workers not slated for firing, and riot police tried to enter the factory. They secured the main building after violent fighting in which many people were injured. The occupying workers retreated to the paint sector, which was part of a defensive plan based on the belief that police would not fire tear gas canisters into the highly flammable area. (In January, five people in Seoul died in another fire set off during a confrontation with police, sparking weeks of outrage.).

The following day, the company issued a statement to the effect that there had been enough violence, but in reality in recognition of the tenacious worker resistance, and police and thugs were withdrawn. The company urged the government to involve itself directly in negations. All water in the plant was nonetheless cut off at the end of June.

Following a court order, the forces of repression struck again on July 11 as the riot police moved to seize the factory area with the exception of the paint sector, and encircled the entire factory.

Ever since the attack of the 26th-27th attack aimed at isolating Ssangyong’s struggle and breaking the strike, solidarity actions outside the plant were attempting to build broader support. These included a street campaign, mainly from family organizations in the center of Seoul and Pyeongtaek areas, a 4-hour general strike by the KMWU during which metal workers from nearby plants rallied in front of Ssangyong factory gate; on July 4th , and July 11 the KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) held nationwide labor rallies in support of the Ssangyong’s struggle. These actions were however poorly attended and the leadership of the KMWU has hesitated in declaring an all-out strike in response to the attacks on the plant. Activists think the KMWU and KCTU leaderships are more preoccupied with upcoming union elections. (927 activists also held a one –day hunger strike in the center of Seoul on July 11.) (From my experience in Korea over the past four years, these are largely ritual actions which rarely influence the outcome of a struggle.)

 Finally, on July 16, 3,000 KMWU members gathered to support the Ssangyong strike in front of the Pyeongtaek City Hall. When they tried to move to the factory after the rally, they were blocked by police and 82 workers were arrested on the spot.

All in all, chances for a serious generalization of the struggle to other factories look remote. Activists on the scene feel that even if the KMWU called a general strike, only a few districts would follow it. The Hyundai auto workers are in the midst of wage negotiations themselves. Nearby supplier plants have already gone through structural adjustment and are not likely to mobilize.

Loren Goldner

July 17

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Punk Rock Books

July 12, 2009 at 8:10 pm (Uncategorized)

I turned 45 a few days ago, and I have to say, I thought I would feel a little more grown up by now. Anyway, like many people in their forties, I find myself returning to the music of my teens.

In my case it was punk. I was 13 in 1977. I still remember the thrill of listening to the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Adverts, the Damned or so many others. Year Zero meant you were part of this new, frightening, exhilarating club. And the fact my parents detested it, without having heard a single note, only made it better.

I watched Julian Temple’s The Filth and the Furyagain last week. It’s a tremendous film. Lots of great footage and interviews. Well worth  repeated viewings. (If you haven’t seen Temple’s movie about Joe Strummer, you’ll be stunner at just how much new stuff there is the film). After I finished watching, I made my way to the bookcase to thumb through a few tomes. Here’s some good ones.   

1. England’s Dreaming – Jon Savage

If you’re only going to read one book about punk, this should probably be it. A great story with excellent references, including an annotated discopgraphy. Apparently, there’s a volume of interviews available too, but I haven’t seen it.

2. Punk: The Whole Story– Mojo Magazine

A fairly decent overview from the British monthly. Good photos and features. Articles on the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, the Stranglers, Siouxsie and the Banshees and many others.

3. The Boy Looked at Johnny– Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons

Hard to find, but worth a look. (I had to photocopy mine) They hate almost everyone, with the curious exceptions of Tom Robinson, Joan Jett and Poly Styrene. .

4. Lipstick Traces– Greil Marcus

Subtitled a secret  history of the twentieth century. The Sex Pistols and the Situationists.

4. Ranters and Crowd Pleasers – Greil Marcus

Similar territory, but short essays on some of the bands that came out of punk.

6. Rotten: No Irish, no Blacks, No Dogs  – John Lydon et al

John Lydon’s caustic but completely compelling (much like the man) autobiography. Assisted with interviews from other movers and shakers of the time.

7. Sniffin Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory  

The complete run of Mark P.’s visionary zine, along with new pictures and an essay.

8. The Great British Mistake: Vague 1977-92 – Tom Vague ed.

Selections from Tom Vague’s fanzine, including interviews with Crass, Adam Ant, Jon Savage and many more. .

9. The Punk– Gideon Samns

I bought this in a bookshop in Wantage, a small town about an hour from Oxford. A punk Romeo and Juliet they called it. Apparently, he died in the US a few years later.

10. Cranked up Really High – Stewart Home

Just because. Lots to disagree with, but the idea there’s a party line in punk is absurd. Home is happy to dispel that notion.

Next time new wave…

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