Music Notes May 2010

May 31, 2010 at 9:40 pm (Uncategorized)

Music notes for May 

1. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

Possibly the final record from LCD Soundsystem, and it’s a good one. After a couple of weeks of fairly solid listening, I’d say that it’s the most consistent of their three albums, and while it doesn’t always hit the highs of LCD Soundsystem or Sound of Silver, it avoids the lows. As with other releases Murphy wears his influences proudly. A casual listen reveals Bowie’s “Heroes”, Iggy’s “Nightclubbing”, the Talking Heads, assorted Gang of Four riffs, and the Velvet Underground (listen to “Drunk Girls” after “White Light White Heat,” you’ll see) . Will this be the last record? Dunno,  but it won’t be the last we hear from James Murphy. Check out the Greenberg soundtrack for a different side of the man.

2. The Pack A.D. – Funeral Mix Tape

Blues-punk minimalism from the West Coast. Becky Black and Maya Miller have produced three loud, primitive class albums. Hard to pick a favourite. It’s all good.

3. The New York Dolls – Lipstick Killers

How you gonna call your lover boy? The New York Dolls didn’t last too long and only produced two actual albums (sorry David, I don’t count the two new ones) . However, their shadow is long. Live albums and demos continue to appear. This collection of demos from before their first album with original drummer Billy Murcia first appeared on the cassette-only label ROIR in 1981. The nine songs on this album are pretty much only for collectors, but it is interesting to hear how different these songs are from the final versions. Plus, “Don’t Mess with Cupid” was never properly recorded.  

4. How to Destroy Angels

The new project from Trent Rezner. Never a big fan of Nine Inch Nails. OK, not a fan at all, but I love the debut release, . Very trippy, very Portishead. Sung by Rezner’s wife, Mariqueen Maanding, ex- of West Indian Girl. But wait, it gets better. The debut EP is out on Tuesday June 1 as a free download. However, for a measly $2, you can get the EP in standard MP3 format or in lossless, “the Believers” and a video. Nice. Order from their site

5. Massive Attack – Mezzanine Remixes

Yeah, remixes are for fans only, but this nice i-Tunes collection gives you several versions of the best songs from Mezzanine.

6. Rolling Stones –  Exile on Main Street

And speaking of remixes…Yeah, yeah hoopla. A mate gave me a bootleg of some tracks from the session in all their tape hissing and popping glory. Still, I was intrigued by the new version, although I tend to agree with Keith Richards who argued he didn’t want to alter the Bible. The outtakes have been circulating for years, so why not release them officially. However, the idea of redoing them with new vocals filled me with dread.  Still, I have to admit that version of “Loving Cup” is pretty amazing.

On this whole thing, a friend of mine wrote,

 ” picked up the reissue this week at Chapters ($20) and attached two c.d. players, via different input channels, to my stereo. On one I put my old copy of Exile, in the other, the reissue. After a few false starts,  I managed to start them both at exactly the same time and was able to switch back and forth to “A/B test” the results. In my opinion, the new reissue has a clarity and “high ended-ness” lacking in the original “muddy sounding” C.D. release. At first, I suspected that this was due to the higher volume level of the new reissue, but, after also compensating for this difference by riding the volume level when switching from one to the other, the clarity remained. The horns are sharper, the acoustic guitars more discernible, and I can hear subtleties that were not apparent in the original analog to digital transfer.

7. Destroy All Monsters

The sweet sound of Detroit. Take some ex-Stooges, some ex-MC5ers, and Niagara, and you get an intense punk metal sound. An acquired taste to be sure, but worth it. Start with Bored.

8.  Renegade Soundwave

Why is it some groups are successful while others, more deserving,  are not. If you’re interested in the force behind a lot of nineties electronica pick up the two-CD Renegade Soundwave collection. All the hits and remixes from this criminally overlooked band. Have a read of an interview here.

9. Shellac – At Action Park

On a recent drive to Montreal, I put on Shellac’s debut album. If you know Steve Albini’s work in production or with Big Black, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I had forgotten just how good it was. Melodic, though not catchy, muscular post-punk (I’m sure Steve will hate that description!) Quite lovely noise.

10. Dennis Hopper.

Not a music note really, but I would argue Hopper was as rock ‘n’ roll as actor as you get. A truly incredible career appearing in such great films as Rebel without a Cause, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, The American Friend, River’s Edge and of course Blue Velvet: An amazing talent. Hopper was also the first man buy a Warhol Soup Can painting. Dead at 74 of prostate cancer. A major loss.

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LCD Soundsystem in Toronto – A Review

May 30, 2010 at 8:38 pm (Uncategorized)

 

It seemed somehow appropriate to head down to the Kool House on the hottest day of the year so far (actually one of the hottest May 25ths on record in Toronto).

And the Kool House was cool. Cool like a big cave. Which meant a problem for opening act Holy Ghost. The band played an energetic dance pop. Pleasant enough, but in a half-full venue it sounded as if they were playing in that vast cave. It just didn’t carry. The band started punctually at 8:15 and were done by 8:55 (actually this was before the times advertised on the venue web site – what kind of rock concert starts early!). I ventured out onto the floor for a while, and while the sound was better, it didn’t stay with me for very long.

But onto LCD Soundsystem. I fell in love with LCD Soundsystem about three years ago. Late again I know, but like many who fall late, I fell deeply. And so when I heard that This is Happening was to the last LCD album, seeing them live became a matter of urgency, even though it does seem unlikely t tha this is the last we see of the band. 

Just before the band entered, it struck me just how full the venue was. I’d gotten there early and snagged a seat, but one that was completely useless in terms of sight lines: Time to get away. LCD Soundsystem came on stage at about 9:30 (as advertised!) and opened with “Us vs Them.” Rapidly followed the current single “Drunk Girls,” and before we knew it we were singing and dancing, completely caught up in the event.

Even though I love the band, I have to admit I don’t love all of their songs equally. It’s unclear to me whether LCD are a dance band who like to rock or a rock band who like to dance, but in any event, many of the songs are little too, well, dancey for my taste. However, as a friend of mine argues, dance music sounds great when you’re at a club. And they did.

It was a fairly simple formula. Murphy, keyboard player Nancy Whang, drummer Pat Mahoney, and the other members of Murphy’s live band blast though extended, energetic versions of their set list, drawn from all three albums with a minimum of fuss. Between songs Murphy was entertaining (suggesting that those recording the show on camera phones might enjoy actually watching the show too) and poignant (dedicating a song to the late Will Munro.

LCD played for about an hour and fifteen minutes. There was a brief break and they came out and played three encore numbers: Something Great, Losing my Edge, and a lovely “New York, I love you.”  to close out the evening  the evening and send us out into the warm air.

Set list

Us vs. Them
Drunk Girls
Get Innocuous
Yr City’s a Sucker
Pow Pow
Daft Punk is Playing at my House
All I Want
All My Friends
I Can Change
Tribulations
Movement
Yeah

Encores
Something Great
Losing my edge
New York I love you (But You’re Bringnig me Down)

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Montreal Anarchist Bookfair – A report

May 30, 2010 at 7:55 pm (Uncategorized)

I was in Montreal yesterday for the 11th annual anarchist bookfair. From fairly humble beginnings in 2000, the bookfair has grown into a week-long event with presentations, cultural and political events and of course the fair itself. This year the fair is spread across two days. (If you’re reading this in the next hour or so, you could still check it out  – the fair closes at 5PM EST.)

When I saw some of the organizers at the Toronto bookfair in April, they told me to expect a bit in sales as the fair was now going to be two-day, but the number of  people attending wasn’t an obvious decline (I did experience a small dip in sales, but that was probably because I forgot copies of Radical Anthroplogy which is always a good seller.

My table was next to a delegate from the Swedisah anarcho-syndicalist union Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganisation (Central Organsation of the Working Class, who had free pens, buttons, key chains and some rather nice mints made by transportation workers.

I had some good conversations about education reform, the libertarian credentials of Ron Paul, anarchy and Marxism, anarcho-syndicalism, anthropology, CLR James, and much more. The bookfair always draws a good crowd.  

Of course, the big topic was the upcoming G-20 summit in Toronto and the likely repression that will accompany it. As I watch the seemingly daily news accounts of what will and what will not be “allowed,” it is increasingly obvious, the state is preparing to take a hard-line.  

More on that later.

Next Saturday is the Hamilton bookfair. Get all of the details here. I’ll have copies of Internationalist Perspective, Aufheben, Radical Anthropology, plus Notes from Underground pamphlets, PM and AK Press books and CDs, and assorted used books. Come and say hello.

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Montreal anarchist Bookfair

May 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Hey, don’t forget, this weekend is the Montreal anarchist bookfair. Lots to see and do.

Check out their spiffy new web site

And be sure to come by (and buy at) the Notes from Underground table.

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Shine on you crazy, er, fuck Buttons – Toronto Review

May 22, 2010 at 11:39 am (Uncategorized)

The road to Wednesday’s Fuck Buttons show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto was long and complicated. 

My first introduction to the band was a “Best of” CD by Uncut which featured the marvellous Surf Solar from the Tarot Sport album.  If you haven’t heard the track, it’s a great mix of pounding beats, scratches, and assorted noise. I got a copy of the album, and the rest is pretty good too. 

A couple of months back I was in Soundscapes and wanted to pick up tickets for the She and Him show in June. Unfortunately, thee show wa sold out, and not wanted to leave empty-handed, I bought a ticket for the Fuck Buttons show instead (I know the jump from She and Him to Fuck Buttons is a big one, but sue me, I have eclectic musical tastes) 

Come Wednesday night, I was suffering from allergies and a summer cold, but I managed to drag myself out to the show. Late. I arrived at about 10:15 just in time to catch the end of the Hounds of Hate set. Hard to form an opinion since I saw so little of  their set, but the audience seemed to enjoy it. I listened to their songs at their myspace page , but wasn’t particularly thrilled, but I did like the description: dropout boogie.  

Fuck Buttons show began at 10:45 with Surf Solar. Good way to start, but immediately I noticed a few problems. First, it was LOUD. Not usually a problem, but halfway through my forties, hearing loss from loud music is a bit more of a concern than in previous years. Second, it was hard to see. Now that’s not usually I problem. The Horsehoe has good sight lines, and i’m tall, but when the band is hunched over turntables and keyboards, all you get is the occasional flash of a band member’s head. Add that to the fact that they didn’t interact with the audience, and you’re developing some feelings of alienation.   (The low lighting also meant that none of my pictures turned out really well) 

Another grainy shot

I retreated to the back of the club and sprawled on one of the couches (I may have dozed off for a bit). 

The show chugged along with more of the same.  Surging, swirling sounds, with industrial noises added in, but I couldn’t help feeling that I might have got the same effect if I just turned my iPod up really loud. The live concert experience should be something different from the record, even if the record is pretty cool (Street Horrrsing is pretty good too). 

 The crowd was still bopping along when I left. Maybe it was just me.

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In Critical and Suffocating Times

May 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm (Uncategorized)

A report from the Greek Organization, TPTG.

What follows is a report on the demo of the 5th of May and the one that followed the day after and some general thoughts on the critical situation the movement in Greece is at the time being.

Although in a period of acute fiscal terrorism escalating day after day with constant threats of an imminent state bankruptcy and “sacrifices to be made”, the proletariat’s response on the eve of the voting of the new austerity measures in Greek parliament was impressive. It was probably the biggest workers’ demonstration since the fall of the dictatorship, even bigger than the 2001 demo which had led to the withdrawal of a planned pension reform. We estimate that there were more than two hundred thousand demonstrators in the centre of Athens and about fifty thousands in the rest of the country. There were strikes in almost all sectors of the (re)production process. A proletarian crowd similar to the one which had taken to the streets in December 2008 (also called derogatorily “hooded youth” by mainstream media propaganda) was also there equipped with axes, sledges, hammers, molotov cocktails, stones, gas masks, goggles and sticks. Although there were instances that hooded rioters were booed when they attempted or actually made violent attacks on buildings, in general they fitted well within this motley, colourful, angered river of demonstrators. The slogans ranged from those that rejected the political system as a whole, like “Let’s burn the Parliament brothel” to patriotic ones, like “IMF go away”, and to populist ones like “Thieves!” and “People demand crooks to be sent to prison”. Aggressive slogans referring to politicians in general are becoming more and more dominant nowadays.

At the GSEE-ADEDY demo people started swarming the place in thousands and the GSEE president was hooted when he started speaking. When the GSEE leadership repeated their detour they had first done on the 11th of March in order to avoid the bulk of the demo and come to the front, just few followed this time…

The demo by the PAME (the CP’s “Workers’ Front”) was also big (well over 20,000) and reached Syntagma Square first. Their plan was to stay there for a while and leave just before the main, bigger demo was about to approach. However, their members would not leave but remained there angered chanting slogans against the politicians. According to the leader of the CP there were fascist provocateurs (she actually accused the LAOS party, this mish-mash of far-right thugs and junta nostalgic scum) carrying PAME placards inciting CP members to storm the Parliament and thus discredit the party’s loyalty to the constitution! Although this accusation bears some validity because fascists were actually seen there, the truth is –according to witnesses– that the CP leaders had some difficulty with their members in leading them quickly away from the square and preventing them from shouting angry slogans against the Parliament. It’s maybe too bold to regard it as a sign of a gradual disobedience to this monolithic party’s iron rule, but in such fluid times no one really knows…

The 70 or more fascists stationed opposite the riot police were cursing the politicians (“Sons of a bitch, politicians”), chanting the national anthem and even throwing some stones against the parliament and probably had the vain intention to prevent any escalation of the violence but were soon swallowed into huge waves of demonstrators approaching the square.

Soon, crowds of workers (electricians, postal workers, municipal workers etc.) tried to enter the building from any access available but there was none as hundreds of riot cops were strung out all along the forecourt and the entrances. Another crowd of workers of both sexes and all ages stood against the cops who were in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier cursing and threatening them. Despite the fact that the riot police made a massive counter-attack with tear gas and fire grenades and managed to disperse the crowd, there were constantly new blocks of demonstrators arriving in front of the Parliament while the first blocks which had been pushed back were reorganizing themselves in Panepistimiou St. and Syngrou Ave. They started smashing whatever they could and attacked the riot police squads who were strung out in the nearby streets. Although most of the big buildings in the centre of the town were closed with rolling shutters, they managed to attack some banks and state buildings. There was extensive destruction of property especially in Syngrou Ave. because the cops were not enough to react immediately against that part of the rioters as the police had been ordered to give priority to the protection of the Parliament and the evacuation of Panepistimiou St. and Stadiou St., the two main avenues through which the crowd was constantly returning to it. Luxury cars, a Tax Office building and the Prefecture of Athens were set on fire and even hours later the area looked like a war-zone.

The fights lasted for almost three hours. It is impossible to record everything that happened in the streets. Just one incident: some teachers and other workers managed to encircle a few riot cops belonging to Group D –a new body of riot police on motorcycles– and thrash them while the cops were screaming “Please no, we are workers, too”!

Demonstrators pushed into Panepistimiou St. kept returning in blocs to the Parliament and there were constant clashes with the police. The crowd was mixed again and would not go. A middle-aged municipal worker with stones in his hands was telling us moved how much the situation there reminded him of the first years after the fall of the dictatorship when he was present at the 1980 demo in commemoration of the Polytechnic uprising when the police murdered a woman, the 20-year old worker Kanellopoulou.

Soon the terrible news from foreign news agencies came on mobile phones: 3 or 4 people dead in a burnt down bank!

There were some attempts to burn down banks in various places but in most cases the crowd didn’t go forward because there were scabs locked in them. It was only the building of Marfin Bank in Stadiou St. that was finally set on fire. Just a few minutes before the tragedy started, however, it was not “hooded hooligans” who shouted “scabs” at the bank employees but organized blocks of strikers who yelled swears at them and called them to abandon the building. Given the bulk of the demo and its density, the turmoil and the noise by the chants, it’s obvious that a certain degree of confusion –common in such situations– makes it difficult to provide the accurate facts concerning this tragic incident. What seems to be closer to the truth (from fragments of information by eye-witnesses put together) is that at this particular bank, right in the heart of Athens on a general strike day, about 20 bank clerks were made to work by their boss, got locked “for their protection” and finally 3 of them died of suffocation. Initially a molotov cocktail was thrown through a hole made on the window panes into the ground floor, however, when some bank clerks were seen on the balconies again, some demonstrators called them to leave and then they tried to put the fire out. What actually happened then and how in no time at all the building was ablaze, remains unknown. The macabre series of events that followed with demonstrators trying to help those trapped inside, the fire brigade taking too long to take some of them out, the smiling billionaire banker being chased away by the angry crowd have been probably well reported. After some time the prime minister would announce the news in the Parliament condemning the “political irresponsibility” of those who resist the measures taken and “lead people to death” while the government’s “salvation measures” on the contrary “promote life”. The reversal was successful. Soon a huge operation by the riot police followed: the crowds were dispersed and chased away, the whole centre was cordoned until late in night, Exarchia got under siege, an anarchist squat was invaded and many were arrested, the Immigrants’ Haunt was invaded and trashed and a persistent smoke over the city as well as a sense of bitterness and numbness would not go away…

The consequences were visible the very next day: the media vultures capitalized on the tragic death representing it as a “personal tragedy” dissociated from its general context (mere human bodies cut off from their social relations) and some went so far as to criminalize resistance and protest. The government gained some time changing the subject of discussion and conflict and the unions felt released from any obligation to call for a strike the very day when the new measures were passed. Nonetheless, in such a general climate of fear, disappointment and freeze a few thousands gathered outside the parliament at an evening rally called by the unions and left organizations. Anger was still there, fists were raised, bottles of water and some fire crackers were thrown at the riot cops and slogans both against the parliament and the cops were chanted. An old woman was begging people to chant to “make them [the politicians] leave”, a guy pissed in a bottle and threw it to the cops, few anti-authoritarians were to be seen and when it got dark and the unions and most organizations left, people, quite ordinary, everyday people with bare hands would not go. Attacked with ferocity by the riot police, chased away, trampled down Syntagma square steps, panicked but angered young and old people got dispersed in nearby streets. Everything was back in order. However, not only fear was in their eyes; hatred was visible as well. It is certain they will be back.

Now some more general reflections:

* Cracking down on anarchists and anti-authoritarians has already started and it will get more acute. Criminalizing a whole social-political milieu reaching out to the far left organizations has always been used as a diversion by the state and it will be used even more so now that the murderous attack creates such favourable conditions. However, framing anarchists will not make those hundreds of thousands who demonstrated and even those a lot more who stayed passive but worried forget the IMF and the “salvation package” offered to them by the government. Harassing our milieu will not pay people’s bills nor guarantee their future which remains bleak. The government will soon have to incriminate resistance in general and has already started doing so as the incidents on the 6th of May clearly indicated.

* There will be some modest effort from the state to “put the blame” on certain politicians in order to appease the “popular feeling” which may well turn into a “thirst for blood”. Some blatant cases of “corruption” may get punished and some politicians may be sacrificed just to pour oil into troubled waters.

* There is a constant reference to a “constitutional deviation” coming both from the LAOS or the CP in a recrimination spectacle, revealing though of the ruling class increasing fears of a deepening political crisis, a deepening of the legitimization crisis. Various scenarios (a businessmen’s party, a proper junta-like regime) get recycled reflecting deeper fears of a proletarian uprising but in effect are used as a re-orientation of the debt crisis issue from the streets to the central political stage and to the banal question “who will be the solution?” instead of “what is the `solution’?”

* Having said all that, it is time to get to the more crucial matters. It is more than clear that the sickening game of turning the dominant fear/guilt for the debt into a fear/guilt for the resistance and the (violent) uprising against the terrorism of debt has already started. If class struggle escalates, the conditions may look more and more like the ones in a proper civil war. The question of violence has already become central. In the same way we assess the state’s management of violence, we are obliged to assess proletarian violence, too: the movement has to deal with the legitimation of rebellious violence and its content in practical terms. As for the anarchist-antiauthoritarian milieu itself and its dominant insurrectional tendency the tradition of a fetishized, macho glorification of violence has been too long and consistent to remain indifferent now. Violence as an end in itself in all its variations (including armed struggle proper) has been propagated constantly for years now and especially after the December rebellion a certain degree of nihilistic decomposition has become evident (there were some references to it in our text The Rebellious Passage), extending over the milieu itself. In the periphery of this milieu, in its margins, a growing number of very young people has become visible promoting nihilistic limitless violence (dressed up as “December’s nihilism”) and “destruction” even if this also includes variable capital (in the form of scabs, “petit-bourgeois elements”, “law-abiding citizens”). Such a degeneration coming out of the rebellion and its limits as well as out of the crisis itself is clearly evident. Certain condemnations of these behaviours and a self-critique to some extent have already started in the milieu (some anarchist groups have even called the perpetrators “parastatal thugs”) and it is quite possible that organized anarchists and anti-authoritarians (groups or squats) will try to isolate both politically and operationally such tendencies. However, the situation is more complicated and it is surpassing the theoretical and practical (self)critical abilities of this milieu. In hindsight, such tragic incidents with all their consequences might have happened in the December rebellion itself: what prevented them was not only chance (a petrol station that did not explode next to buildings set on fire on Sunday the 7th of December, the fact that the most violent riots took place at night with most buildings empty), but also the creation of a (though limited) proletarian public sphere and of communities of struggle which found their way not only through violence but also through their own content, discourse and other means of communication. It was these pre-existing communities (of students, football hooligans, immigrants, anarchists) that turned into communities of struggle by the subjects of the rebellion themselves that gave to violence a meaningful place. Will there be such communities again now that not only a proletarian minority is involved? Will there be a practical way of self-organization in the workplaces, in the neighborhoods or in the streets to determine the form and the content of the struggle and thus place violence in a liberating perspective?

Uneasy questions in pressing times but we will have to find the answers struggling.

TPTG
9th of May

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Massive Attack in Toronto – A review

May 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm (Uncategorized)

A bit late, but… 

Massive Attack played their second Toronto show May 9 at the Sound Academy. I chose to go to this show rather than the Friday night one based on a couple of reasons. I expected the first show to sell out, and I generally prefer shows where there’s a little room to move. Second, I though having already done one show in Toronto and then having a day off would give the band a chance to work out any problems with the set. Guessed right.

Massive Attack have made some of the most vital and necessary music of the past two decades, but at a fairly slow pace. The current album, Heliogoland, is only their fifth.  Their third album, Mezzanine, is one of my all- time favourites, so I was fairly excited for the experience. Dance music for the head not the feet as Robert “3D” Del Naja  put it.

However, I was a little anxious about the Sound Academy. It was a venue I’d never been to, and I’d heard mixed reviews about the place.  The Sound Academy, formerly the Docks, is a 2,000 plus club, shaped a little like a shoebox. If you’re tall, you can manoeuvre for a good spot, but I pity anyone who’s under average height. It’s also hard to get to. It’s a cab ride or paying $15 for parking on site The fact that the car park is dead opposite the exit means that come closing time, getting out is a logistical nightmare. . 

On the other hand, the sound in the club is amazing. 

Martina Topley-Bird opened the show at about 9:15. She played a half-hour set of fairly laid back song, which were quiet but compelling. The last number, “Too Tough to Die” (a track from her 2004 album not the Ramones song of the same name) was a straight up rocker though. 

Then a half hour wait, and Massive Attack. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but they sure stated with a bang. “United Snakes”, the b-side of the “False Flags” EP, (and included on the deluxe edition of Heliogland.

Massive Attack basically consists of two guys Robert Del Naja (“3-D”) and Grant Marshall (“Daddy G”), both very cool, and assorted guest musicians.  Together with our two heroes, Massive Attack live had ten members, although not everyone was on stage at the same time.  Among the other players were the great Horace Andy, Matina Topley-Bird, Deborah Miller (for an outstanding “Unfinished Symphony”), along with guitarists, keyboard players and a couple of drummers.  

The stage show was spectacular. A series of boards which oddly enough reminded me of a Top of the Pops set broadcast a pulsating light show and a series of cryptic messages and quotations to inspire.

The late Howard Zinn featured prominently, but also included were Eugene Debs, Bobby Seal, Rosa Luxembourg and many more. Along with news clips, and what seemed like computer gibberish (to me at least). My favourite quotation was by Ibsen: when you go out to fight for truth and freedom, don’t wear your best trousers.

The band served up large helpings of Mezzanine and Heliogoland, in extended versions.  Highlights for me were “Air Atlas”, “Risingson” and the set-closing “Inertia Creeps.” MA’s best known song is probably the theme from House  “Teardrop”, and they did a marvellous version of that too, with Martina Topley-Bird singing lead.

The set was 75 minutes, followed by a brief break, then a half hour of encores. I don’t know if it was the break or the better weather, but it just seemed as if the band were into the show. When that happens, the audience picks it up, and it’s like a hurricane gathering strength.

Set list

United Snakes
Babel
Risingson
Girl, I Love You
Psyche
Future Proof
Invade Me
Teardrop
Mezzanine
Angel
Safe From Harm
Inertia Creeps

Encores

Splitting The Atom
Unfinished Symphony
Atlas Air
Karmacoma

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The Issue of Violence in Greece – IP Statement

May 10, 2010 at 9:01 pm (Uncategorized)

The statement written by “Occupied London” is being posted as a contribution towards a frank discussion on the issue of violence in demonstrations and specifically as it erupted in Greece on May 5th, 2010 resulting in the tragic deaths of 3 bank workers. We salute the willingness of “Occupied London” to raise the issue of these events and to question the aims and the means appropriated among the anarchist movement during this demonstration. We think that the desire to make an assessment of what transpired on 5/5/10 is extremely important. When they say “The time has come for us to talk frankly about violence and to critically examine a specific culture of violence that has been developing in Greece in the past few years”; we strongly agree. There is no excuse for throwing petrol bombs into a building full of people. The problem with blind violence is not only that it plays into the hands of capitalism, but also that it follows in the tradition of class society. It is not anti-capitalist.

Carol H. for IP

——————————————

The text below summarises some initial thoughts on Wednesday’s tragic events by some of us here at Occupied London. English and Greek versions follow – please disseminate.

What do we honestly have to say about Wednesday’s events?

What do the events of Wednesday (5/5) honestly mean for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement? How do we stand in the face of the deaths of these three people – regardless of who caused them? Where do we stand as humans and as people in struggle? Us, who do not accept that there are such things as “isolated incidents” (of police or state brutality) and who point the finger, on a daily basis, at the violence exercised by the state and the capitalist system. Us, who have the courage to call things by their name; us who expose those who torture migrants in police stations or those who play around with our lives from inside glamorous offices and TV studios. So, what do we have to say now?

We could hide behind the statement issued by the Union of Bank Workers (OTOE) or the accusations by employees of the bank branch; or we could keep it at the fact that the deceased had been forced to stay in a building with no fire protection – and locked up, even. We could keep it at what a scum-bag is Vgenopoulos, the owner of the bank; or at how this tragic incident will be used to leash out some unprecedented repression. Whoever (dared to) pass through Exarcheia on Wednesday night already has a clear picture of this. But this is not where the issue lies.

The issue is for us to see what share of the responsibilities falls on us, on all of us. We are all jointly responsible. Yes, we are right to fight with all our powers against the unjust measures imposed upon us; we are right to dedicate all our strength and our creativity toward a better world. But as political beings, we are equally responsible for every single one of our political choices, for the means we have impropriated and for our silence every time that we did not admit to our weaknesses and our mistakes. Us, who do not suck up to the people in order to gain in votes, us who have no interest in exploiting anyone, have the capacity, under these tragic circumstances, to be honest with ourselves and with those around us.

What the greek anarchist movement is experiencing at the moment is some total numbness. Because there are pressurising conditions for some tough self-criticism that is going to hurt. Beyond the horror of the fact that people have died who were on “our side”, the side of the workers – workers under extremely difficult conditions who would have quite possibly chosen to march by our side if things were different in their workplace – beyond this, were are hereby also confronted with demonstrator/s who put the lives of people in danger. Even if (and this goes without question) there was no intention to kill, this is a matter of essence that can hold much discussion – some discussion regarding the aims that we set and the means that we chose.

The incident did not happen at night, at some sabotage action. It happened during the largest demonstration in contemporary greek history. And here is where a series of painful questions emerge: Overall, in a demonstration of 150-200,000, unprecedented in the last few years, is there really a need for some “upgraded” violence? When you see thousands shouting “burn, burn Parliament” and swear at the cops, does another burnt bank really have anything more to offer to the movement?

When the movement itself turns massive – say like in December 2008 – what can an action offer, if this action exceeds the limits of what a society can take (at least at a present moment), or if this action puts human lives at danger?

When we take to the streets we are one with the people around us; we are next to them, by their side, with them – this is, at the end of the day, why we work our arses off writing texts and posters – and our own clauses are a single parameter in the many that converge. The time has come for us to talk frankly about violence and to critically examine a specific culture of violence that has been developing in Greece in the past few years. Our movement has not been strengthened because of the dynamic means it sometimes uses but rather, because of its political articulation. December 2008 did not turn historical only because thousands picked up and threw stones and molotovs, but mainly because of its political and social characteristics – and its rich legacies at this level. Of course we respond to the violence exercised upon us, and yet we are called in turn to talk about our political choices as well as the means we have impropriated, recognising our -and their – limits.

When we speak of freedom, it means that at every single moment we doubt what yesterday we took for granted. That we dare to go all the way and, avoiding some cliché political wordings, to look at things straight into the eye, as they are. It is clear that since we do not consider violence to be an end to itself, we should not allow it to cast shadows to the political dimension of our actions. We are neither murderers nor saints. We are part of a social movement, with our weaknesses and our mistakes. Today, instead of feeling stronger after such an enormous demonstration we feel numb, to say the least. This in itself speaks volumes. We must turn this tragic experience into soul-searching and inspire one another since at the end of the day, we all act based on our consciousness. And the cultivation of such a collective consciousness is what is at stake.

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After the riots in Greece – a report

May 9, 2010 at 12:37 am (Uncategorized)

This article originally appeared on the Occupied London blog.

Tonight’s tragic deaths in Athens leave little space for comments – we are all very shocked and deeply saddened by the events. To those (on the “Occupied London” blog even) who speculate that the deaths might have been caused purposefully by anarchists, we can only reply the following: we do not take to the streets, we do not risk our freedom and our lives confronting the greek police in order to kill other people. Anarchists are not murderers, and no brainwashing attempted by Greek PM Papandreou, the national or the international media should convince anyone otherwise.

That being said, and with developments still running frantically, we want to publish a rough translation of a statement by an employee of Marfin Bank – the bank whose branch was set alight in Athens today, where the three employees found a tragic death.

Read the letter, translate it, spread it around to your networks; grassroots counter-information has a crucial role to play at a moment when the greek state and corporate media are leashing out on the anarchist movement over here in Greece.”

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I feel an obligation toward my co-workers who have so unjustly died today to speak out and to say some objective truths. I am sending this message to all media outlets. Anyone who still bares some consciousness should publish it. The rest can continue to play the government’s game.

The fire brigade had never issued an operating license to the building in question. The agreement for it to operate was under the table, as it practically happens with all businesses and companies in Greece.

The building in question has no fire safety mechanisms in place, neither planned nor installed ones – that is, it has no ceiling sprinklers, fire exits or fire hoses. There are only some portable fire extinguishers which, of course, cannot help in dealing with extensive fire in a building that is built with long-outdated security standards.

No branch of Marfin bank has had any member of staff trained in dealing with fire, not even in the use of the few fire extinguishers. The management also uses the high costs of such training as a pretext and will not take even the most basic measures to protect its staff.

There has never been a single evacuation exercise in any building by staff members, nor have there been any training sessions by the fire-brigade, to give instructions for situations like this. The only training sessions that have taken place at Marfin Bank concern terrorist action scenarios and specifically planning the escape of the banks’ “big heads” from their offices in such a situation.

The building in question had no special accommodation for the case of fire, even though its construction is very sensitive under such circumstances and even though it was filled with materials from floor to ceiling. Materials which are very inflammable, such as paper, plastics, wires, furniture. The building is objectively unsuitable for use as a bank due to its construction.

No member of security has any knowledge of first aid or fire extinguishing, even though they are every time practically charged with securing the building. The bank employees have to turn into firemen or security staff according to the appetite of Mr Vgenopoulos [owner of Marfin Bank].

The management of the bank strictly bared the employees from leaving today, even though they had persistently asked so themselves from very early this morning – while they also forced the employees to lock up the doors and repeatedly confirmed that the building remained locked up throughout the day, over the phone. They even blocked off their internet access so as to prevent the employees from communicating with the outside world.

For many days now there has been some complete terrorisation of the bank’s employees in regard to the mobilisations of these days, with the verbal “offer”: you either work, or you get fired.

The two undercover police who are dispatched at the branch in question for robbery prevention did not show up today, even though the bank’s management had verbally promised to the employees that they would be there.

At last, gentlemen, make your self-criticism and stop wandering around pretending to be shocked. You are responsible for what happened today and in any rightful state (like the ones you like to use from time to time as leading examples on your TV shows) you would have already been arrested for the above actions. My co-workers lost their lives today by malice: the malice of Marfin Bank and Mr. Vgenopoulos personally who explicitly stated that whoever didin’t come to work today [May 5th, a day of a general strike!] should not bother showing up for work tomorrow [as they would get fired].

– An employee of Marfin Bank [greek original]

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Stylophone

May 6, 2010 at 11:40 am (Uncategorized)

Who would have thought the little stylophone would be so popular? Have a look at this article and some of those who’ve used it.

My mum emailed me to say that my old stylophone is in the basement and apparently still works. Next time i’m home, you know where I’m going.

Wonder if I can learn to play Telstar?

Interested? Go here.

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