Monday, October 29, 2007

Our Cuprunneth Over?

Alty having finally won an FA Cup tie and pocketed £10,000 in the process, it looks like they'll be spending it on policing the 1st round tie vs Millwall. Still, with Millwall's away form, there's always an outside chance we could get a draw and pull in a massive crowd at the New Den.

I guess we will have to settle for a Cheshire Senior Cup and FA Trophy double then.

Friday, October 19, 2007

To Be Young(ish) at the Weekend was Very Heaven

You can tell it's Friday over at FD2W? by the sudden burst of activity and enthusiasm. Coincidence? Surely not.

And only 34!

Who's Your Leader? Which is Your Flock?

More Crass, courtesy of the Graun.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Race Goes Not to the Swift . . .

Nor bread to the wise, as Ecclesiastes says. Proof can be found in the latest issue of GQ magazine, which has an interview with Ted Turner, a man "worth" $2 billion. Some highlights:

The sad thing about destroying the environment is that we're going to take the rest of life with us. The bluebirds will be gone, and the elephants will be gone, and the tigers will be gone, and the pandas will be gone. I don't like the idea of losing pandas or crocodiles or alligators. I just . . . you know, I think they're cool. I like snakes. I like hummingbirds. There's nothing on earth I don't like. Frogs. Salamanders. The bunnies, the giraffes, the hippopotamuses.

. . .

Oh yeah, I've been almost everywhere. I've been to over sixty countries.

. . .

What was North Korea like? I had a great time there! I was there last year. They were nice to me. There weren't a lot of fat people walking around. They were all thin. And being thin is healthier than being fat.

. . .

You don't see North Korea as a threat? Awwh! Their economy is not as big as Cleveland, Ohio! Does Cleveland, Ohio, pose a threat to the U.S.?

. . .

With your philanthropy and investments that didn't work out, you've lost a big chunk of money in the past few years. Well,yeah! I lost 80 percent of my wealth and then gave away over half of the rest. So I'm a man of modest means now. But if you budget carefully and watch your expenditures, you can get by on a couple billion dollars. You know, you don't have to have twenty billion. You can squeeze by with a couple billion.

. . .

Do you think you've been lucky or blessed in anyway? There had to be a lot of luck. If you were unlucky, you'd be born a mosquito. Or a mouse. What can a mouse do? I got all the luck in my family. My sister died when she was 17, after a lengthy illness. My father killed himself when he was 53. He had depression. My father used to say, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, the mind of man can achieve!" That's why I know that we can get rid of nuclear weapons. A lot of people that are really into this don't think it's possible. But CNN was impossible. I've done the impossible many times. The word does not exist for me. I've got a lot of signal flags in my flag bag, but there's not a white one in there. I don't know what surrender means. I'm gonna keep fighting until the day I die, and I might keep on fighting afterwards—depends on where I am.

C'est Seulement Un Wind Oop

I don't know which is funnier, Northwich Vics or The Cheeky Girls

Harry Potter and the Golden Handshake

In the October 8 edition of Forbes magazine, regular columnist Rich Karlgaard recommends 53 books for parents to give their children so that they might grow up to be rich. They include

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, by Alan Greenspan

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Road to Serfdom, by Friedrich Hayek

Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS, by Steve Forbes

The Way the World Works, by Jude Wanniski

Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way, by Richard Branson

Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, by Roger Lowenstein

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, by Ron Chernow

Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes, by Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne

The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, by Clayton Christensen

The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us, by Robyn Meredith

Bull's Eye Investing: Targeting Real Returns in a Smoke and Mirrors Market, by John Mauldin

Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful Investing in Only 15 Minutes a Week!, by Phil Town

The Only Three Questions That Count: Investing by Knowing What Others Don't, by Kenneth L. Fisher

In Search of Excellence: Lessons From Americas Best-Run Companies, by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman

Its Your Ship: Management Techniques From the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

The Fountainhead,
by Ayn Rand

The Acts of the Apostles, by Luke

The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between a Little Craziness and a Lot of Success in America, by John D. Gartner

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis


The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe.

Just think of the look on their faces on Christmas morning!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Book Early, Book Often

Always worth a visit if you can get there. Some very interesting meetings to drop in on.

Thanks to FD2W?

Friday, October 12, 2007

I've a Crack For Yer

Mick Hartley is decidedly unimpressed by Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth and the attendant art bollocks at the Tate Modern.

Sadly, it's all too clear that the work itself is in no way of sufficient quality or power to justify this nonsense. The concerns with racism, postcolonialism, difference, whatever, are all contrived and arbitrary impositions seeking to impart a spurious relevance to a self-indulgent piece of banality. If meanings have to be assigned, why these? Why not say it's about the shortcomings of a two-party system, or the Risorgimento, or, more pertinently, the need to get a proper structural survey done before you buy a house? We know why not, of course: these aren't the kind of issues that resonate with the type of people who run art galleries.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It Really Should Be Che

Given the current celebrations and continued battles over the photogenic corpse of another macho exponent of revolutionary authoritarianism.

(Posted for Darren's amusement further to this conversation)

Monday, October 08, 2007

She Wrote With a Straight Face

An amusing article in the latest issue of Film Comment magazine by Melissa Anderson, the editor of Time Out New York, reflects on the controversy that surrounded the release of the Al Pacino movie Cruising, now finally out on DVD.

Pacino's cop simultaneously digs and is terrified by the bars he must frequent to catch the killer. "This film is not intended as an indictment of the homosexual world. It is set in one small segment of that world, which is not meant to be representative of the whole," reads the disclaimer at the very beginning of Cruising, surely added in response to the gay protests. But what a world it is. Filming actual Meatpacking District clubs like the Anvil, the Ramrod, and the Eagle as sexy, stygian pleasure-domes, Friedkin shows, with absolutely no judgment, men (who were, for the most part, actual habitues of the scene) kissing, sucking each other off, and, in a scene that still astonishes with its audacity, getting fist-fucked. Only the New Queer Cinema landmark Poison, with its outlaw homo protagonists, comes even close to rivaling the film's display of sex as rough, ritualized, reckless. To paraphrase Lolita's tagline: how did they ever make a movie of Cruising? Just remember: a major studio—United Artists—greenlit some of the rawest, raunchiest man-on-man action American cinema has ever seen.

. . .

But can't Cruising also be seen as a Pre-AIDS artifact that actively advances the homosexual agenda? Filmmaker Todd Downing, 34, whose 2001 short, Jeffrey's Hollywood Screen Trick, spoofs the insipid gay rom-coms that were ubiquitous in the Nineties, thinks so. "This ostensibly straight man played by Pacino gets sucked into an underworld and is undeniably intrigued and turned on by it," he says. "He can't get enough of it and is so obsessed that it puts strains on his relationships at work and at home. And the scenes in the bar couldn't have been more lovingly photographed: slow pans across men cruising and having sex, all in lighting that couldn't be more flattering. It makes the leather scene look incredibly seductive." Perhaps one person's toxic stereotype is another's turn-on. Downing, like me, is a queer Gen-Xer. I don't think we're idealizing a cultural and political moment (not to mention a pre-Stella McCartney Meatpacking District) that we never participated in so much as we're responding to radical representations of queer sexuality financed by Hollywood. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal wear their colored bandanas around their necks in Brokeback Mountain; high-altitude fucks aren't the same as sex while high on amyl nitrate. But in deference to one who did participate, I leave the last word to [experimental filmmaker Jim] Hubbard: "If I had known that our protests against Cruising would lead to Will & Grace, I never would've done it."

Farewell to the Gorzes

I only found out yesterday, thanks to the Observer, of the tragic but nonetheless understandable double suicide of André and Dorine Gorz, which happened a couple of weeks ago. Dorine had been suffering for quite some time with an extremely painful illness, and as André explains in his Lettre a D.

Sometimes, at night, I see the silhouette of a man walking behind a hearse along an empty road in a deserted landscape. I am that man. I don't want to attend your cremation, I don't want to receive your ashes in a bowl.

I had a bit of a Gorz binge a couple of years ago, largely as an extension of the reading I was doing around the Labour Theory of Value and the consequences for libertarian socialism of its refutation. Gorz, like Castoriadis, was one of the early sceptics of the LTV among the New Left (their criticisms not being dependent on the problems identified by the classical economics that gave us Analytic Marxism but from a more thoroughgoing examination of the Law's ambiguous place in Marx's work and its failure to correspond with basic historical facts). Both were willing to follow the consequences of their findings through to their logical conclusions, resulting in a libertarian socialism that understands that a failure on behalf of socialists to recognize humanity's actual circumstances (which is to say the circumstances revealed by science, sociology, and history, rather than by wishful thinking and the imposition of pre-defined categories demanded by ideology) has led the Left down a series of blind alleys, frequently rendering it redundant, irrelevant, or downright dangerous.

Needless to say, plenty of Marxists have been happy to dismiss Gorz's work, ever since his "ecological turn," but as I've said before, (or rather, as Maurice Brinton has said before), “One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea.” It may be a while yet before some manage to catch up with Gorz and fully appreciate what he had to offer.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Jeffrey Lewis & Helen Schreiner Cheer Us All Up

A wonderful reminder of Crass's near-adolescent contempt for ordinary folk.

Still, what great fucking songs.

"Do They Owe Us A Living? (Well?...Do They?)"

One - Two - Three - Four

Fuck the politically minded, here's something I want to say,
About the state of nation, the way it treats us today.
At school they give you shit, drop you in the pit,
You try and try and try to get out, but you can't because they've fucked you about.
Then you're a prime example of how they must not be,
This is just a sample of what they've done to you and me.

Do they owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?

Don't want me anymore, cos I threw it on the floor.
They used to call me sweet thing, I'm nobody's plaything,
And now that I am different, they'd love to bust my head,
They'd love to see me cop-out, they'd love to see me dead.

Do they owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?

The living that is owed to me I'm never going to get,
They've buggered this old world up, up to their necks in debt.
They'd give you a lobotomy for something you aint done,
They'll make you an epitomy of everything that's wrong.

Do they owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?

Don't take any notice of what the public think,
They're so hyped up with T.V., they just don't want to think.
They'll use you as a target for demands and for advice,
When you don't want to hear it they'll say you're full of vice.

Do they owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?
Of course they do, of course they do.
Owe us a living?

"Systematic Death"

System, system, system.
Death in life.
System, system, system.
The surgeon's knife.
System, system, system.
Hacking at the cord.
System, system, system.
A child is born.

Poor little fucker, poor little kid,
Never asked for life, no she never did.
Poor little baby, poor little mite,
Crying out for food as her parents fight.
Crying out for food as her parents fight.

System, system, system.
Send him to school.
System, system, system.
Force him to crawl.
System, system, system.
Teach him how to cheat.
System, system, system.
Kick him off his feet.

Poor little schoolboy, poor little lad,
They'll pat him if he's good and they'll beat him if he's bad.
Poor little kiddy, poor little chap,
They'll force feed his mind with their useless crap.
They'll force feed his mind with their useless crap.

System, system, system.
They'll teach her how to cook.
System, system, system.
Teach her how to look.
System, system, system.
They'll teach her all the tricks,
System, system, system.
Create another victim for their greasy pricks.

Poor little girly, poor little wench,
Another little object to prod and pinch.
Poor little sweety, poor little filly,
They'll fuck her mind so they can fuck her silly.
They'll fuck her mind so they can fuck her silly.

System, system, system.
He's grown to be a man.
System, system, system.
Taugh to fit the plan.
System, system, system.
Forty years of jobs.
System, system, system.
Pushing little buttons, pulling little knobs.

Poor fucking worker, poor little serf,
Working like a mule for half of what he's worth.
Poor fucking grafter, poor little gent,
Working for the cash that he's already spent.
Working for the cash that he's already spent.

He's selling his life,
She's his loyal wife,
Timid as a mouse,
She's got her little house,
He's got his little car,
And they share the cocktail bar
She likes to cook his meals,
You know, something that appeals.
Sometimes he works til late
So his supper has to wait,
But she doesn't really mind
Cos he's getting overtime.
He likes to put a bit away
Just for that rainy day,
Cos every little counts
As the cost of living mounts.
They do the pools each week
Hoping for that lucky break.
Then they'd take a trip abroad,
Do all the things they can't afford.
She'd really like to have a fur,
He's like a bigger car.
They could buy a bungalow,
With a Georgian door for show.
He might think of leaving work,
But no, he wouldn't like a shirk.
He'd much prefer to stay
And get his honest day's pay.
He's got a life of work ahead,
There's no rest for the dead.
She's tried to make it nice,
He's said thank-you once or twice.

System, system, system.
Deprived of any hope.
System, system, system.
Taught they couldn't cope.
System, system, system.
Slaves right from the start.
System, system, system.
Til death do them part.

Poor little fuckers, what a sorry pair,
Had their lives stolen, but they didn't really care.
Poor little darlings, just your ordinary folks,
Victims of the system and its cruel jokes.
Victims of the system and its cruel jokes.

The couple views the wreckage
And dreams of home sweet home,
They'd almost paid the mortgage,
Then the system dropped its bomb.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

He Says Yes, But He Means No.

I'm sorry to have only belatedly spotted these previews of five forthcoming books on prayer and self-help in the August 13 issue of Publishers Weekly. The books under consideration are Sister Wendy on Prayer, by Sister Wendy Beckett; The Ten-Second Prayer Principle: How to Pray Powerfully & Effectively in Today's Busy World, by Mark Littleton; Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment, by Margaret D. McGee; Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You, by Deborah Norville, and, best of all, God Said Yes, by Heather Hornback-Bland and Ninie Hammon:

When Hornback-Bland was four years old, she fell out of a car her mother was driving and was run over. Doctors were sure she wouldn't survive, but more than 30 years and 187 surgeries later, she is still here—a mom and a motivational speaker. In this book she tells the full story of her devastating injuries (which still cause her intense pain, nausea and complications) and her road to Christian faith. She has endured more terrible trials since the accident, including abuse, seven-figure medical debt and the horror of losing a newborn. Readers will want to have tissues handy for this pain-filled but inspiring and hopeful memoir.

You know, I feel inspired already.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Manu Chao: The Next Big Thing or A Little Old Hat?

The media circus is up and running to publicize the fact that altermondialist superstar Manu Chao is touring to promote his new album, La Radiolina (mine arrived yesterday), but they mostly seem to be recycling the same old story, namely, "When, O When will Manu Chao break into the British/U.S. market?" This is a theme that not only manages to ignore the healthy audiences that his Radio Bemba tour received a couple of years ago (he filled the Point Depot here in Dublin) but also ignores entirely his pre-solo career with Mano Negra. I think I've said before that there are a few Counagoans who will count Mano Negra's packed gig at Manchester Poly/Uni back in the late 80s as among their most memorable. What, therefore, constitutes "breaking into" the market? Having your mom and dad whistling his tunes? Hearing it used to advertise Toyota cars or flat-screen TVs?

What is most jarring is the idea that Manu Chao is being presented as just one more musical commodity, another artist on the conveyor belt who has an interest in "breaking into the market," as though his brand, his Unique Selling Point, if you will, is his countercultural integrity, his status as the torch-bearer of post-punk anarchism for the 21st century (as if the Mekons have never sold out only because they aren't good enough). I don't know, perhaps that really is the name of the game and I'm just being unusually naive. After all, there will be plenty of people, I realize, ready to accuse Manu of hypocrisy and selling out. My favourites so far have been French band Les Wampas, who at least do it with a bit of style. On their 2003 album "Never trust a guy who after having been a punk, is now playing electro," they say:

je chante dans les Glaviots un groupe punk de Normandie
on répète dans la grange tous les mardis et les jeudis
quand au bout d’un quart d’heure on a assez fait de bruit
on s’assoie dans le foin et on chante ce refrain

si j’avais le portefeuille de Manu Chao
je partirais en vacances au moins jusqu’au Congo
si j’avais le compte en banque de Louise Attaque
je partirais en vacances au moins jusqu’à pâques

c’est beau la Normandie comme le dit ma grand tante Marie
mais si j’avais du blé je partirais bien loin d’ici
souvent les soirs d’été je m’assoie dans les champs de blé
je ferme doucement les yeux et j’écoute les pommiers chanter

si j’avais le portefeuille de Manu Chao
je partirais en vacances avec tous mes poteaux
si j’avais le compte en banque de Louise Attaque
je partirais en vacances au moins jusqu’à pâques

si j’avais le portefeuille de Manu Chao
je partirais en vacances dans une superbe auto
si j’avais le compte en banque de Louise Attaque
je partirais en vacances au moins jusqu’à pâques

moi aussi si je pouvais j’irais bien jusqu’au Mexique
boire de la téquila avec le commandant Marcos
mais j’ai encore au moins cinq hectares à labourer
je remonte sur mon tracteur et je chante pour me donner du coeur

si j’avais le portefeuille de Manu Chao
je partirais en vacances au moins jusqu’au Congo
si j’avais le compte en banque de Louise Attaque
je partirais en vacances au moins jusqu’à pâques

mais j’ai pas un beau chapeau comme Manu Chao
et j’irai en vacances seulement à Saint Lô
et j’ai pas de la classe comme Didier Wampas
je resterai pour les vacances tout seul avec mes vaches

si j’avais le portefeuille de Manu Chao
je partirais en vacances avec tous mes poteaux
si j’avais le compte en banque de la Louise Attaque
je partirais en vacances au moins jusqu’à pâques

(Roughly, "If I had the wallet of Manu Chao, I'd be off to Mexico with my mates drinking tequila with Subcomandante Marcos; If I had the bank account of Louise Attaque, I'd go on holiday until Easter").

Begrudgery's an awful thing, isn't it?