Starship Storm Troopers: Michael Moorcock on Authoritarianism in SF

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

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

Starship Stormtroopers by Michael Moorcock

 

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Revolutionary Science Fiction?

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

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

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

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Music Notes July 2017

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

And off we go!

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

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

2. The Punk Singer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Blondie –Pollinator 

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

7. Danny Says

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

8. The Regrettes – “Fox on the Run”

Ah…I really like this cover.

 

9. The Last Pogo Jumps Again 

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

10. Pavement “Cut your Hair”

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

OK then.

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Napoleon..? He’s dynamite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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The Life and Times of Anarchist Bookfairs

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

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

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

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

 

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Summertime Blues (2017 edition)

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

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

Argh!

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

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A.D. – Life, Death and Memory

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

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

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

A.D After Death Book Three

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The Power of Everyday Subversion

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

It just feels like a Situationist kind of a day

 

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

Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life 

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