Music Notes April 2019

April 30, 2019 at 8:39 pm (Uncategorized)

Here’s some things then

1.  Neu! – Neu

A friend insisted I listen to this 1972 debut from two former members of Kraftwerk.  “Hallogalllo” is an amazing pulsating track perfect for highway driving, and the three-part “Jahresüberblick” is also epic, but some of the ambient noises are going to take a bit longer to appreciate. Certainly worth checking out.

2. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

I was listening to this in the car, and my son said, “This isn’t what I imagine you listening to.” He’s right, but sometimes you want to listen to new stuff outside of your usual zone.  Yeah, yeah, “Bodak Yellow,” but also “Best Life” and “Money Bag.” And there were lines that made me laugh out loud. Hear it.

3. Ex-Hex – It’s Real 

Second album by the band. Probably even better than their debut Rips. Still the same driving punk-rock sound, but there’s some classic rock creeping in too – if I learned the band had been listening to Heart, it wouldn’t surprise me. At a recent show at the Horseshoe in Toronto, the band announced their discovery of Kim Mitchell proclaiming “Patio Lanterns” one of the greatest songs ever. Pretty amazing show, and a great set by the opening band Moaning.

4. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center

My new favourite band (this week). Great collaboration by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, and it’s everything you’d expect. Sure “Dylan Thomas” is the standout track, but there’s plenty more to enjoy

5. Vintage Rock

The latest issue of the magazine has a special feature on rockabilly, and a free CD. The CD has nothing you can’t live without, but it’s still cool to hear people making these sounds.

6. Holly Gollightly – Truly She is None Other 

Former Thee Headcoatee Holly Golightly puts out another album of originals that sound like covers of classic songs, and classic covers that sound like her songs. Great sixties style tunes. Sit back and listen. And read the liner notes by Jack White

7.  Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

Somehow I missed this one when it came out, but it’s another great slice of bile and keyboards from the lads. Stay angry.

8. Jenny Lewis – Punk Pioneers

Great little coffee table photo album of early LA punk. I don’t know a great deal about this lot, so it was cool to see those early days and bands, along with East Coast types like Blondie (Debbie Harry graces the cover) and the Ramones.

9.  Fatboy Slim – Live on Brighton Beach

Just one great big party record. Play loud

10. “Baby Shark”

My friends with young children tell me that the appeal grows thin pretty quickly. Oh well.


Till next month.

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Stan Lee on Racism

April 30, 2019 at 1:08 am (Uncategorized)

Funny how something written half a century ago can seem so relevant today


Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen—people he’s never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom.

Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God–a God who calls us ALL—His children.

Pax et Justitia

Stan Lee


PS Abut ten minutes after I posted the above, I came across a piece on Comic Book Resources entitled “Sgt Fury and the Howling Commandos Have no Patience for Any Bigots.” Yes, it’s true that the US army was segregated during the war, but it’s still a cool story published in 1963.



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On the Offering of Condolences

April 30, 2019 at 12:55 am (Uncategorized)

After the massacre in New Zealand, Trump tweeted:

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques.”

“Warmest sympathy” ? “Best wishes” ?

I know Trump doesn’t do empathy, but has he never signed a condolences card? Apparently not because after shooting in Poway, Trump offered his “warmest condolences.”

I know there’s so much other shit to be offended by, but getting this right seems like a slam-dunk. It’s not.


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The ISO and James Robertson

April 30, 2019 at 12:42 am (Uncategorized)

No, there’s no connection here, btu a month or so back, the U.S. International Socialist Organization (ISO) dissolved. Then, just a few weeks ago Spartacist League founder James Robertson died.

The ISO might have been the largest ostensible Trotskyist organization in the US, though they would not have used that label. The organization was founded in 1976, the result of a split or expulsion (depending on who you believe) from the International Socialists, a third camp Trotskyist group at one time led by Hal Draper. Earlier splits included the Revolutionary Socialist League which later birth the League for a Revolutionary Party. After the split, the ISO became aligned with the British Internationalist Socialists (who would change their name to the Sociability Workers Party the following year)  and adopted Tony Cliff’s theory of state-capitalism.

I didn’t run into the ISO too often, but they did come up to Toronto periodically for the Canadian International Socialists. During the time I . The impression I got was that the ISO had less tolerance for “sectarians” than their Canadian cousins, and they wondered why the IS put up with us. Eventually I, along with the other members of my group, were later banned from attending IS events.

The ISO and the SWP fell out a few years later, and the ISO went on its own merry way positioning itself as the Marxist/progressive/wing of whatever movement was happening. Its dissolution under circumstances which can be described as murky at best came as a bit of a surprise. Expect some former group of members to refound a little sect, while other appear as leftist ginger groups within the DSA.

The death of Robertson was less of a surprise. He was 90 years old and from all accounts lived a hard life of excess.

Robertson had been a member of the Communist Party and Max Shachtman’s organization before joining the Socialist Workers Party in the late 50s. When the SWP wholeheartedly endorsed the Cuban Revolution, Robertson along with Tim Wohlforth and Shane Mage was part of an opposition  grouping called the Revolutionary Tendency. The grouping split thanks to a maneuver by Wohlforth and both parts were eventually expelled.  Wohlforth went with Gerry Healy and after an abortive conference in London in 1966, Robertson helped to found the Spartacist League.

The history of the Spartacist League is too long to tell, and not one I have much interest in telling. There are already a couple of accounts of Robertson’s career circulating, but I’m waiting for the account in Workers Vampire 

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