Music Notes – May 2020

May 29, 2020 at 1:15 pm (Uncategorized)

I assume you’re not going out, but never fear, there are good things to listen to at home.


1 Dean and Britta – “The Carnival is Over”

The new single. “The Carnival is Over” is one of those great songs than no matter who covers it, it sounds good. (the Bony M version isn’t terrible!) The Seekers’ original is based on a Russian folk tune, but with English lyrics written by Tom Springfield of the Springfields (and Dusty’s brother). Nick Cave does a great version too.


2. The Seekers – “I’ll Never Find Another You”

Since I’ve already referenced the Seekers, how about what might be a perfect pop song? (Also written by Tom Springfield)

3. Joey Ramone – Don’t Worry Bout Me

I saw a clip of Trump being interviewed by Maria Bartiromo, and remembered the song Joey wrote about her when she was working for CNBC. The song has aged well, but Bartiromo has become a Trump bootlicking Fox anchor.The rest of the album is a sweet reminder of what a talent we lost.

4. Altered Images – “Dead Pop Stars”

Do you remembered when this came out? Scottish Post-punk generating a buzz that positioned them as Banshees-lite. Very quickly, they transitioned into a not-unpleasant new wave pop band with Clare Grogan as a pop queen.  While they produced some good stuff, I wonder what would have happened if they had gone in the direction hinted at by this song. (Did you know that Spandau Ballet’s “True” is about Grogan?)


5. UB40 – Signing Off 

When I was a lad, I was a little too young for punk. The first wave had already reached land before I was really aware of it.  But I was there for  New Wave, the Mod Revival and Two-Tone. UB40 were a bi-racial British reggae band, not a ska band, and as much as I loved Two-Tone, this first album really took root with me. To this day “Tyler” and “Burden of Shame”  are standouts. Can you believe it fours decades old?

6. X – Alphabetland

My long held belief is when a band reforms, in most cases, the best you can hope for is it doesn’t suck. (Usually it’s an inferior version or a horrible new direction). The new album from X, the first in 35 years, is neither. It sounds like classic X, but not a a retreed of old material. Thomas Wolfe was wrong: Sometimes you can go home.

7. They Might be Giants – ” The Communists Have the Music”

I can’t recall how I came across this one on YouTube. but if you’ve ever dug TMBG or communism (in whatever form), check this out.


8. Coriky – Coriky

Ian MacKaye’s new band’s debut album is finally coming out. Delayed due to the Covid-19 virus, I’m assured it will arrive in my inbox (I bought it through Bandcamp) on June 12. This week another track from the album “Too Many Husbands” showed up. Great.

9. Rolling Stone: The 100 Best Debut Singles 

I love lists: Someone sits down and compiles of a list of their choices and throws it to the world, so we can disagree. This is a fantastically fun list, and there’s lots to disagree with – especially, their number one. Now make your own.

10.  Live music

Big Thief cancelled their North American tour. To be honest, much as I wanted to see them, I was afraid to cram into the Danforth Music Hall with 1,000 other patrons in late July. Sleaford Mods are playing the same venue (as of today) in September. I haven’t bought tickets yet, and as much as I love the band, I’m wondering even if it isn’t cancelled, would I want to go? Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of those from home concerts, but it’s not the same. Sadly in this age of “Free” music and downloads, many bands survived not on record sales but by touring and merch. As a reslut, the pendulum is swinging back, and bands are earning through music sales. Support the bands you like : And don’t forget Bandcamp suspends its cut on the first Friday of the month. Save your pennies for next Friday, June 5.


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Red May and More …

May 27, 2020 at 3:59 pm (Uncategorized)

News, gossip and stuff.

For the past few years (maybe longer), a month long celebration of radical thought called Red May has been held in Seattle. This year because of the Covid-19 crisis, all of the events were held on-line. Some technical glitches, but a fairly interesting selection of workshops still up at the Red May site and on their You Tube channel. (They would be happy to accept any donation)

One of the organizations / publications involved in Red May is the Commune magazine, which bills itself as “a popular magazine for a new era of revolution.” Last year Internationalist Perspective reprinted with an introduction the Commune article “Between the Devil and the Green New Deal.” However, mid-way through the festival, the Commune announced it was ceasing publication in response to a sexual assault by a (now) former member of its collective and the subsequent handling of the assault (it’s all on Twitter)

Another group involved in Red May is Endnotes, the UK based journal. My copy arrived in the post a few days ago, but I haven’t had a chance to get into it yet. For those of you who can’t wait for your copy to arrive, Endnotes have made all of the articles in the new issue available as PDFs on their site 

If you dropped by the Industrial Workers of the World‘s web site anytime in the last year, you could have been forgiven for wondering if they still existed. Wonder no more: Snappy new web site, lots of updates.

And lastly, I didn’t get around to reading David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs last year, but with some extra time on my hands…I have no doubt that anyone who reads it will be truck with an eerie sense of …”I don’t remember being interviewed for the book, but that happened to me”

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The Madness of King Donald (Part CCXVIII…)

May 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm (Uncategorized)

To be honest, I’m trying to cut down on the amount of Trump news coverage I consume. But it’s difficult. Especially when

a. like coronavirus, it’s all anyone talks about

b. you’re not sure whether he’s just trolling, or he’s a complete idiot ( or both)

So many times this year I’ve been about to catalogue a few days worth of Trumpisms, only to realize there’s half a dozen more to take into account. Just this week

  • At a Ford plant, I wore a mask, but I didn’t want to give you the pleasure of seeing me in it (I really thought this was a “my girlfriend goes to another school, you don’t know here”, but apparently he did wear it)
  • Apparently not knowing what per capita means
  • Seemingly not being about to explain the difference between testing positive and testing negative (In all fairness this struck me as an attempt to troll that got away from him – he trolled himself)
  • Noting that the US had so many cases because they tested so much (no, you have the same number of cases whether or not you test)
  • And when was it he seemed completely flummoxed by how Katie Miller tested positive (one minute she was fine, and then she wasn’t – that’s a problem with tests – or maybe you’re confusing a test with a preventative)
  • Probably in the time it took me to type this there’s more…

I recommend Sarah Cooper’s twitter feed (it’s a public account – you don’t need to be on twitter to watch it) Her lip-syncing Trump might not solve any problems, but it makes me feel better

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Montreal Anarchist Bookfair

May 17, 2020 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized)

Today, online , the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair 


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Corona Virus Playlist VI (Ramones edition)

May 13, 2020 at 2:28 pm (Uncategorized)

  1. “You Sound like You’re Sick” (Pleasant Dreams)
  2. “I Wanna be Well” (Rocket to Russia)
  3. “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around with You” (The Ramones)
  4. “I Remember You” (The Ramones Leave Home)
  5. “Don’t Come Close” (Road to Ruin)
  6. “I’m Affected” (End of the Century”
  7. “In the Park” (Subterranean Jungle)
  8. “Too Tough to Die” (Too Tough to Die)
  9. “Have a Nice Day” (Adios Amigos)
  10. “It’s Gonna be Alright” (Mondo Bizarro)

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Random Observations on Covid-19

May 13, 2020 at 1:58 pm (Uncategorized)

A couple of Covid-19 thoughts. Probably like a lot of people, I feel overwhelmed by all of this. It’s not just the separation, it’s just there’s no escape, but life doesn’t stop being absurd:

  1. I live in Ontario, a province which is keeping its liquor stores open because they are an essential service, but has closed its churches because they are not. (That’s sort of progress)
  2. A DJ at a local radio station suggested he teach a class in social distancing – anyone who doesn’t show up gets an A.
  3. How quickly did delivery people, supermarket clerks etc go from being unskilled labour to essential labour, and how long will it last when we get over this?
  4. Am I missing the reason for the “need” to protest social distancing heavily armed  while carrying confederate flags and Nazi slogan? Oh, I get it
  5. And on a related point, aren’t many of these weekend warriors survivalists? Haven’t they been preparing for this for years? How long did they last, two weeks?
  6. Elon Musk and Grimes naming their baby X Æ A-12 wasn’t the dumbest thing Musk did this week. (Being rich, excuse me, coming from money, doesn’t necessarily make you smart)
  7. 72 people who attended events in Wisconsin to protest the stay-at-home policy tested positive for Covid-19. It seems the virus does have a sense of irony
  8. When was the last time you heard anyone talk about Hydroxychloroquine? (Bleach and sunlight never really tracked)
  9. Apparently pollution levels are way down – sad that it took a global pandemic to achieve that
  10. And lastly, some Canadian content. I didn’t have to throw out my Bryan Adams albums after Monday’s instagram rant because I didn’t own any. I wonder who had him melting down on their bingo card.

LIfe goes on


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What we Learn from the Coronavirus Pandemic

May 11, 2020 at 1:32 pm (Uncategorized)


The first lesson is that the capitalist system is incapable of leading us through the crisis today
and those to come.

It is not just that most of our government leaders are craven bastards, shameless liars, and
incompetent imbeciles. That, of course, is what they mostly are and none more than those
leading the “greatest capitalist power” — the U.S. It’s not just that politicians are making money
in the stock market with insider information while others, unprepared, are left to die. It’s not
just that billionaires are raking in even more billions, safe on their offshore yachts. It’s not just
that the so-called bailouts are hijacked by special interests and mostly help the banks. Trickling
down to whom? Not even the much-vaunted small businesses. It’s not just that we are living in
a new “feudalism,” where some are lucky enough to have “lords” (or “governors”) who want to
cushion the effect of the crisis on the citizens of their fiefdom, while others manifestly don’t
give a damn who dies as long as tattoo parlors open up. It’s not just that people are so starved
for any real information about the virus that they make heroes out of the “representatives” of
the “scientific establishment” they see paraded before them, muzzled by the politicians,
stroking egos, and muting the real message: many will die so the capitalist system can fire up
the ovens. It’s not just that our leaders are miserable excuses for human beings, the truth is
that capitalism is incapable of even understanding much less leading us through the coming
crises: pandemics, climate change, mass migrations.

Capitalism cannot go beyond national boundaries. It can make bigger or smaller boundaries but
capital is inextricably bound to competition and the nation-state. Yet the crisis we now face and
the crises to come need world-wide solutions. “The modern state is the committee for
managing the common affairs of the ruling class of capitalism” said Karl Marx in a simple, yet
powerful metaphor. The state and capitalists praise globalization (meaning getting workers to
work for pennies somewhere else) but have no way of controlling the genie that brought this
pandemic to everyone. Globalization brought us this epidemic for which we were stunned to
find, no one had prepared us to face. No, that’s not quite right – nation states all over the
developed world have deliberately stripped civil society of protections in the race to provide
billionaires with tax breaks. Government after government has for decades sacrificed
investment in health care, in housing, in protective equipment, in supplies, sacrificed the
welfare of the 80% of their citizens that don’t profit from the “boom” of vast income inequality.
They left us unprepared and for many, this will mean death. Unprepared today and unprepared
tomorrow. They praise “industrial growth” but have not even the glimmer of a thought to find a
way out of fossil fuel dependency, climate crisis, and global warming. Communication and
transportation have made us one world but capitalism will make it a graveyard.


The second lesson of this crisis is the reappearance of the working class.

Supposedly gone from “late-stage capitalism” but there among us all the time — the “essential
workers!” Those who tend to us in hospitals, those who nurse us, wash the floors, give “care,”
those who work on the food chain, those our leaders hypocritically laud and praise while paying
them a pittance, not even able or willing to provide protection because they have consistently
decimated stockpiles and protective gear and basically everything that helps people and their
communities in favor of profits. Those who deliver food and packages and necessities, those
who keep the electricity going even though their children may not have the internet devices to
use the electricity to stay in school, those who keep mass transit moving and the city and our
buildings clean – their neighborhoods and towns have been left to fester. Those who are
getting nothing from the “stimulus packages” because they are undocumented, those who line
up at the food banks, those who are dying in disproportionate numbers. Yes, that is the black
community and immigrants of all sorts, but making it merely a racial question obscures the
reality of the class question. This, all colors, is the working class here and abroad.

Behind the Joker’s smile of “thanks” to our essential workers, our leaders refuse them a living
wage, our billionaires deny them effective protection or meaningful hazard pay, and our
politicians refuse to give them more relief because “that would encourage laziness” and “give
no incentive to work” as if those sanctimonious bastards ever saw a real day of work in their

What will capitalism bring to the workers? Tens of thousands of workers are working in meat
plants that never close even to decontaminate when workers die of the virus. These are
workers who are used to living in fear – of starvation from drought in Guatemala, or death
squads in El Salvador, or drug cartels in Mexico. But now the choice is clear: your money or your
life. Take a hint from the governor of Iowa in the midst of an epidemic: if the meatpackers don’t
show up at the plant, unemployment benefits cease. Show up for work and risk your life and
your family’s life for nickels and dimes or lose everything and starve or get deported.

Tens of thousands are working in warehouses and groceries and some have gone out on strike
to protest the cavalier way their billionaire employers, Amazon, Instacart, Target, and others,
are sacrificing them for “the greater good” (meaning their profits). Some IT engineers have left
their jobs protesting the “toxic climate” of the tech giants but so far so few. There are a lot of
crocodile tears but where is the solidarity?

The working class is and always has been the force around the world that can stop this system
in its tracks: stop the rails, the electricity, the plants, the machines, the “essential” work. Do we
have to do it?

It seems that this is becoming a question of life and death. And then we have to. When fear
turns to anger, we have to act.


The third lesson of the pandemic is the need to find the answer to the question: what comes

Capitalism is going to take us down to darkness. But where is the working class going? How can
we act together in mass strikes? Where are the places in which workers can gather? How shall
we organize?

Human ingenuity is not in question. Solutions can be found to give people a way out of poverty,
to bring well-being to human communities, to stop the degradation of the earth, to find new
ways to live and prosper, to experiment and change. The working class has the ability to
change; capitalism lacks the will to change. Until the last robber baron and his paid politicians
are breathing their last breath in some desert island bunker, capitalism will hold on to the
“known” with the dead hand of short-term profits. Knowledge and expertise can be harnessed
but only in the service of life, in the service of the fairness and equity that the working-class
movement can bring. If capitalism is a world-wide system, our movement must also be worldwide.
Is the world ready for unity? Ready or not.

This lesson is yet to be learned.

6 May 2020

The writer is a sympathizer of Internationalist Perspective

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Levi Stubbs’ Tears

May 3, 2020 at 3:44 pm (Uncategorized)

One of my favourite Billy Bragg songs.


With the money from her accident
She bought herself a mobile home
So at least she could get some enjoyment
Out of being alone
No one could say that she was left up on the shelf
It’s you and me against the World kid she mumbled to herself
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs’ tears run down his face
She ran away from home on her mother’s best coat
She was married before she was even entitled to vote
And her husband was one of those blokes
The sort that only laughs at his own jokes
The sort a war takes away
And when there wasn’t a war he left anyway
Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong
Are here to make everything right that’s wrong
Holland and Holland and Lamont Dozier too
Are here to make it all okay with you
One dark night he came home from the sea
And put a hole in her body where no hole should be
It hurt her more to see him walking out the door
And though they stitched her back together they left her heart in pieces on the floor
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
She takes off the Four Tops tape and puts it back in its case
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs’ tears


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End Times Politics – Paul Mattick

May 3, 2020 at 3:38 pm (Uncategorized)

For a long time, whenever I was asked whether or not Trump was a fascist, I’d reply in the negative. I’d note that “fascist” was generally used as a lazy  political insult, and while Trump certainly had many authoritarian tendencies, I was unconvinced he fit the classical definition. I still don’t think of him in the classical tradition, but as he goes from crisis to crisis, he exhibits more and more of the symptoms. (The militia as “very good people” being one sign.) Ultimately, I still shy away from that term, perhaps because Trump’s concentration is mostly adoration of himself and personal enrichment. He has no grand overview, no ideology save narcissism. Call him a lazy authoritarian.
His opponent  ironically seems to be the quintessential old line politician Trump came to power railing against. Joe Biden was a decades long senator and two term V.P.  He is an utterly uninspiring, but essentially safe candidate who will threaten no one. If the 2016 election was the only one that Trump and Clinton could have won, 2020 see,ms to be the question of whether the people who dislike Trump will outnumber the people who worship him. (How Trump will respond should he lose is another matter entirely.)
As such Paul Mattick , in a recent piece in the Brooklyn Rail, sums it up:
the choice on offer will be between two elderly white men, both notable liars and scoundrels, and both apparently in some early stage of dementia. If we needed living symbols for the accelerating decline of capitalism, here they are.
Here’s the whole essay 

End Times Politics – Paul Mattick 




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May Day

May 1, 2020 at 10:39 pm (Uncategorized)

Happy May Day.

In isolation, but not isolated.

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